THUNDERING BLURB » NFL ANDREW GARDA'S ENDLESS TAKES ON NFL AND COLLEGE FOOTBALL Tue, 13 Jul 2010 13:42:26 +0000 en hourly 1 NFL Late Hits Mon, 16 Nov 2009 15:40:12 +0000 admin I’ve been throwing out my thoughts on Monday mornings on Twitter and will probably continue to do so, but felt like a proper article makes a ton of sense.

With that in mind, welcome to NFL Late Hits, my new Monday article here at The Thundering Blurb. It won’t cover everything that happens in the NFL on a Sunday, just the stuff that for whatever reason sticks in my brain by day’s end.

Two huge plays yesterday have caused some chaos in the NFL media and Fantasy Football community – one was the 4-2 call to go for it by Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, the other, Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew taking a knee at the one to milk the clock in the Jets game.

Let’s start with the call by Belichick. I’ll admit, I didn’t see it when it happened.

I did discover a new food allergy so, you know, win!

Instead, I went over the hightlites and looked over the game info at I can’t say I thought it was the best call, but I’m not sure it’s the worst ever.

Say what you will, but Belichick goes on fourth pretty often and it works out for him more than most coaches. I may be remembering wrong, but on NFLN last night, I believe Mariucci said it worked somewhere in the neighborhood of 78% of the time for him.

It’s not a bad percentage – on the other end of the field.

Look, Belichick has forgotten more about football in the time it took me to type this sentence out than I know now. So I’m sure he had all the facts, figures and percentages in his head when he made the call.

I just don’t know why you risk giving Peyton Manning the ball on your side of the field.

A great coach rolls the dice. Sometimes you hit the point, sometimes you crap out. Like The Hoodie said in his press conference, people will question you anyway.

I think it was a bad call. I also think the media shouldn’t be pulling their hair out over it.

Especially since, had the Pats made it, we would have had another round of ‘This is the kind of GENIUS which has made him so successful’.

A little perspective please.

Speaking of perspective – ok, so if you lost your Fantasy Matchup because Maurice Jones-Drew took a knee on the one yard line, you might want to skip a few paragraphs to where I chat about Brian Westbrook.

This was the right call. Could Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee have biffed the extra point kick? Sure. It happens less than 2% of the time, but like the man said ’so you’re saying there’s a chance?’.

Listen, when people say Fantasy Football is ruining enjoyment of the game, it’s because of reactions like this.

Scobee – shaky though he has been – wasn’t missing that kick. A short, high, kick is very hard to block. I know it cheeses you off not to get the 6 points but the Jags needed to milk the clock.

Whether reports are true that Head Coach Jack Del Rio called for a knee prior to the play or not, it was the right decision.

Seemingly overlooked in the ‘DAMMIT MJD YOU COST ME MY GAME’ shouting was the fact that Jones-Drew picked up the first down. That game was done. They could burn the clock all the way to the wire (which they did) and kick a ‘gimme’ field goal (which they also did).

It’s a no brainer. Sure, like Belichick’s call above if something bizarre had happened and the Jets had gotten the ball back and won, it would look foolish.

But the best way to finish a game and win is to keep the ball out of the hands of the opposing offense’s hands. They did that. As much as I don’t love the thought of Mark Sanchez having to lead his team 80 yards to a win, all it would have taken was a missed tackle and the Jets could have walked away with a win.

Why take that chance? Keep the ball in your hands as long as you can. Milk the clock. Kick the field goal.

It’s maddeningly simple to me, as it was when Brian Westbrook did it previously.

Hell, MJD even apologized to you which he really didn’t need to. Of course he admitted he had himself and screwed himself too, but also pointed out that hey ‘you play to win the game’.

Side note: With players owning themselves and other players in leagues that often deal with pots of prize money, is the league going to come down on this as gambling?  I know the arguement has been Fantasy isn’t gambling, but you have to wonder if the NFL worries.

Things didn’t go all that well for the guy who last took a knee at the line either. Brian Wesbtrook suffered his second concussion in less than a month yesterday and you have to start thinking we’re seeing the end of him in the NFL.

Listen, I’m no doctor – in fact I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night – but twice in a month is bad. In fact, as far as I can tell, it’s awful.

The more often you get them, the more easy it is to get them. More than one player can testify to that and with the recent discussion in the media and NFL circles about head injuries and their long term effects I cannot imagine the Eagles rushing him back out there.

Especially not with LeSean McCoy there. I mean, isn’t this what you picked him for?

Maybe not, if you run a grand total of 13 times.  The Eagles only threw to the backs a total of five times as well.

Sure, they were down and yes they moved the ball through the air effectively in the fourth quarter. Still, there was never a threat that they were running the ball – I wonder if the success moving the chains via air freight than on the ground says more about deficiencies in the Chargers secondary than the Eagles pass attack

Either way, one hopes the Eagles – and Westbrook himself – are very cautious this time out.

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Trendspotting: Thomas Jones & Leon Washington Thu, 01 Oct 2009 20:59:17 +0000 admin NFL_new_york_jets_1[1]Before Brett Favre came to town in 2008, the New York Jets had built their offense to be one that would center on – though not exclusively – the ground game.
However, the moment Favre arrived, the Jets morphed into a more evenly balanced attack. Yet despite that, Thomas Jones had his fourth straight 1,000 yard season and his first with double digit touchdowns (Jones had 13 on the ground and a pair receiving).
Meanwhile, if you look at his partner in the backfield, most onlookers felt that Leon Washington was criminally underused by the former head coach, Eric Mangini. 
Ryan has brought a new attitude to Gang Green

Ryan has brought a new attitude to Gang Green

When new Head Coach Rex Ryan came on board he promised to utilize the offensive line to run block, as it was designed to do. He promised more Leon Washington (so much so that Peter King predicted 300 touches) and drafted a rookie quarterback who would need an effective ground game to keep him from having to win with his arm. 

In fact, since Ryan came from the Baltimore Ravens – who had just shepherded their own rookie, quarterback Joe Flacco – confidence was high that this could be a very good season for he Jets rushing attack.
After three weeks, what do we have? The Jets are tied for the tenth ranked rushing offense, though that’s largely skewed by game one. Leon Washington has barely topped 40 carries in three games and only has seven receptions. Thomas Jones has had only seven more carries than Washington and only 17 more yards.
Both Jets fans and fantasy owners are left wondering what is happening and how much longer it will last.
For today’s Trendspotting, let’s take a stab at answering these questions.
First let’s look at some hard facts.
As ineffective as the Jets run game has seemed, they’ve actually run a ton. They’ve run the ball 104 times versus the 83 times they have passed, a percentage of 56% of the time. A bit more balanced than we anticipated but still not a minuscule amount.
In fact, their 104 attempts put them second behind fellow New York team, the Giants. While neither team is totalling extreme numbers, the Jets rank 11th in total ground yards (The GMen are 8th).
Where the Jets are struggling is in yards per carry. They are at 3.8 ypc, ranking 22nd in the league. While you might throw the 3.8 out with a mere ‘it’s too early to count it yet’, with the exception of the Giants all the other teams with over 100+ carries are significantly better per carry.
















Now of course, it’s just three weeks and there are teams who came close to 100 carries like the Detroit Lions (90) with similar YPC (in Detroit’s case, 3.5).
Putting aside the small sample size, that’s a significant drop off from the 4.7 that three other 100+ carry teams have the the Jets’ 3.8.
So while they are running the ball often, they aren’t doing it effectively.
Individually, the yards per carry actually look fine for both backs. Thomas Jones has a 3.77 while Leon Washington has a 4.00 yards per carry.
Respectable, right?
Well here’s a closer look which tells you things may not be what the appear.
Watching Thomas Jones the first two weeks didn’t excite me much. Frankly, he looked slow and plodding. He didn’t seem to hit the holes when they were there. 
Even in Week 1, when he totalled 107 yards and two touchdowns (his only two thus far this season) Jones looked bad for much of the game. He broke two big runs – one 39 yard touchdown road and a second 39 yard run where he cut back across the defense, who had over-pursued too far to one side of the field.
I hate to play ‘taking away run X’ but in order to get a sense of what Jones is doing, you really have to. Because looking at the game as a whole, Jones didn’t look good at all and his yards per carry was awful for most of the game. Same with Week 2. 
The majority of runs for Jones are for one or two yards. Occasionally he gets an eight or ten yard run – even more rarely he gets a big gain like the 39 yard runs from Week 1. 
Raye's departure could be hurting Jones

Raye's departure could be hurting Jones

For sure, part of this is due to the departure of running back coach Jimmy Raye, who left to be the Offensive Coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. Under Raye, Jones had two of his most productive years ever. When a coach like that leaves, it certainly can have an affect on a player.

Of course, another part of this is could be Jones.
I’ll give this to Jones – he is not mailing it in. He may look a little slower than in the past, but he’s fighting hard.
Jones’ biggest issue might be – and here’s a shock – the offensive line.
As I said earlier, watching him on television for two weeks left me less than enthused. I got even more concerned when I saw Jones in person against the Titans in Week 3 but it wasn’t just because he looked a little slow.
Granted the Titans are a great team against the run even at 0-3. Record aside, they are ranked second in the NFL against the rush and they found ways to meet Jones at the line all day. The Jets line really struggled with the inside stunts the Tennessee unit threw at them. 
What makes it more difficult for Jones is that he can’t really attack the edge. He doesn’t have that speed and ability to turn that outside corner and when the Jets try that with him, he gets caught. So the Jets have to keep him pounding the middle even when he’s ramming into a wall of defenders.
The offensive line play hasn't been as good as expected

The offensive line play hasn't been as good as expected

During the Titans game the Jets’ offensive line didn’t get enough initial push – something that was the case against the Patriots in Week 2 as well. Sure, Jones has lost a step and yeah maybe he’s not all that happy with his contract but those are not affecting his overall work. On Sunday he recovered a fumble, sold the heck out of a play-fake and did some great pass-blocking.
Jones is giving effort, he’s just not getting enough help from his line. While I wasn’t in love with his play in Week 1, I’m more concerned with the line’s play in Weeks 2 & 3.
I think Jones can still have a very nice season and as Coach Rex Ryan has publicly stated he isn’t planning on putting Shonn Greene in more, he will continue to have opportunity. He’ll turn it around, and we’ll get to that in a minute. First, we have to look over the other half of the rushing attack.
Big numbers have eluded Washington so far this year

Big numbers have eluded Washington so far this year

Leon Washington
Ryan promised to use more of Washington in 2009. After an almost criminal under-utilization of Washington last year, fans and owners alike were ecstatic.
Washington is certainly getting more snaps, averaging 13.67 a game. He can run between the tackles, though he runs into the same problem Jones does in terms of no push from the offensive line.
What I am not seeing enough of, certainly considering what we expected, is a ton of pass targets.
In the first game, Washington had six targets, four of which he hauled in for a total of 24 yards. But the last two games he’s seen just five. He’s caught three of them and totaled in two games what he got in Week 1 – 24 yards.
Washington is very dangerous out in space and when catching a screen pass yet he hasn’t been used in that manner very often the last few games. Part of that is that teams now what he can do and guard against it. Yet it also comes down to play-calling.
Why aren’t Ryan and Offensive Coordinator utilizing him in the pass game more? Perhaps it has just been that in game planning for the last two match-ups, they were concerned both defenses might be waiting for it. That’s the problem early in the season – not a ton of empirical evidence to look over.
It could be Washington isn’t in as often on third downs as Jones is, as Jones has been a very good pass-blocker and may have an easier time doing that due to his heavier weight.
While Washington has been getting half the carries in the run game and plenty of touches overall, he may not be getting the right touches currently. Just having him run between the tackles – something I saw a bunch on Sunday against the Titans – seems to be a waste of his abilities.
Sanchez has won Rookie of the Week 3 Weeks in a Row - but that's not helping the run game

Sanchez has won Rookie of the Week 3 Weeks in a Row - but that's not helping the run game

Mark Sanchez
Wait a minute. Why is the rookie Quarterback in this edition of Trendspotting? We’re talking RUNNING BACKS.
Well, next to the oline, nobody on the field will impact the not-so-dynamic-duo as much as the ‘Sanchize’.
Sanchez – while now a three time Offensive Rookie of the Week and according to the media the ‘front-runner’ after three whole weeks for Rookie of the Year – isn’t perfect.
Listen, he’s cool in the pocket, brave to the point of insanity (ever hear several thousand Jets fans shriek ‘SLIDE MARK SLIDE’? I have.) and has been playing pretty contained football so far during this young season.
Yet he has forced throws, been baited into bad decisions and at times looked like what he is – a rookie quarterback. The thought prior to the season is that the team would protect him with a solid run game and that might up Jones and Washington’s numbers as it would increase their carries.
Of course, there was some discussion about how a rookie quarterback makes it hard on the run game. Defenses decide most of the time to make the rookie beat them and stack or attack the run. They don’t give up on the pass defense entirely, but a rookie quarterback has to earn their respect.
This seemed to get lost in some of the conversation about the Jets rushing attack just before the season.
As much as opposing teams respect what Sanchez brings to the table and as much as he has shown flashes of the ability to burn them long, he doesn’t do it consistently enough for them to lay off the run. 
OC Schottenheimer keeps things simple for rookie QB Sanchez

OC Schottenheimer keeps things simple for rookie QB Sanchez

Further, Schottenheimer and Ryan are keeping things pretty simple for the rookie. They don’t want to risk overwhelming him with too many schemes and choices. Keeping things a little plain allows the defenses playing against the Jets to focus on fewer potential looks and scenarios.

Given the large amount of carries, we know the team is protecting Sanchez with the run. But the vanilla plays they often run (with the exception of the occasional WildCat or razzle dazzle) allow the defense to concentrate on stopping that run.
Sanchez needs to get better and make a few more plays downfield if the Jets are to pull the dogs off Jones and Washington at the line. It wouldn’t hurt to see a few more screens to Washington either.
What To Do?
Both of these players are worth hanging on to. When it comes to Thomas Jones, if you have him and are not hemorrhaging points at the RB2 or Flex spot, hold him.
As for Washington, like Jones, he isn’t playing as well as we’d hoped. You probably drafted him much later than Jones, so he may not be hurting you as much. I believe he will continue to get his half of the carries and I believe that as Mark Sanchez continues to improve he will be able to move defenses off the line of scrimmage more.
Finally, you have to like the Jets schedule as it stands.
There are some tough teams, especially at first glance.
Looking over the whole of it though, the Jets have some match-ups which should make their backs salivate. Carolina (29th vs run), Oakland (28th), Tampa Bay (31), Atlanta (24th) and perennial good RB match-up Indianapolis (21st) all should be good days for the Jets tandem. Some of them will improve as the season goes and some of their stats are skewed due to small sample size (three weeks folks). 
Still they mark some good potential games for the Jets down the road.
Also, some of the tough match-ups aren’t necessarily all they appear. 
Sure, Miami (3rd vs the run), Jacksonville (14th) and Cincinnati (11th) seem tough against the run – until you look at their pass defense. Miami (26th), Jacksonville (32nd) and Cincinnati (19th) all struggle against the pass. So that’s what teams do – they pass against these shaky secondaries.
It doesn’t mean they aren’t decent run defenses or won’t improve. It does mean that a bad pass defense may be inflating what appears to be a good run defensive ranking. 
Many of the best match-ups come late in the Fantasy Season – in fact, Indianapolis is there for many owners Championship Week in Week 16. Carolina, Tampa Bay and Atlanta are all late season match-ups as well.
In both cases, these are players worth hanging on to. As I believe they will trend upwards over the next month or so, I would also recommend seeing if you can buy low on them. Point out the offensive line woes and the low total yards past week 1.
Looking forward I think this is a rushing attack that will improve as the season gets older.


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Twitter Roundtable Vol. 4 The QBs Strike Back Wed, 12 Aug 2009 13:58:46 +0000 admin Welcome to another edition of the Twitter Roundtable. As always, our group of Fantasy Experts discuss a topic of fantasy relevance to your league and season.
Today, we talk about Quarterbacks.
While many an owner is thinking about grabbing QB early, still others wait for their signal-caller. Which guy currently projected outside these twelve Quarterbacks has the best shot at making the top 8? Why?

Brady, Tom – NE
Brees, Drew – NO
Manning, Peyton – IND

McNabb, Donovan – PHI
Warner, Kurt – ARI
Rivers, Philip – SD
Rodgers, Aaron – GB
Palmer, Carson – CIN
Schaub, Matt – HOU
Romo, Tony – DAL
Cutler, Jay – CHI
Garrard, David – JAX
Orton, Kyle – DEN
Jared Feree – What’s Your Fantasy Podcast
Based on THAT list, two guys step out to me. 

1) Matt Hasselbeck – Hasselbeck, the last time he was healthy, finished top ten and he is gaining a great receiver in Houshmandzadeh.  He does still play in one of the weaker conferences in the NFC West.  I also think Carlson is a nice weapon and Deion Branch, when healthy, is a nice target as well.  I wouldn’t want to place any bets on Hassebeck finishing top 10, but wouldn’t be surprised if he wound up there. 

2) Matt Ryan – I like him to be close to top 10 and would prefer him over a guy like Garrard.  Roddy White is solid, Turner is solid, and the addition of Tony Gonzalez could add a few redzone passing TD’s.  While his overall numbers weren’t that impressive last season, he did finish top 15 as a rookie.

Brett Favre for obvious reasons, but I think he will move very close to the top 12 once he is in camp. 


Matt Schauf –
From what I’ve seen, Matt Ryan is far more often considered among the top 12 than Orton or Garrard. I agree that Hasselbeck doesn’t have a long trip to get back into the top 12, although I also don’t trust him to make it through a full schedule. I really like Trent Edwards, though his success (or failure) will depend on how quickly a whole new line can jell. I’m not betting on him as a starter right away, but I’ll absolutely take a shot on him as a backup/spot starter with upside. Matt Cassel got sacked more than any other passer in the league last year and he still managed to have a pretty nice season.

Terrell Owens was awesome in his first seasons with Philly and Dallas (despite some new kid taking over at QB during that year with the Cowboys), and he seems to be saying and doing all the right things again in Buffalo.

Another really late sleeper is Jason Campbell, who has a more experienced line and is, by all accounts, determined to finally put it all together this year. He’s done a pretty good job avoiding interceptions as a starter overall, so the big question will be whether he has enough at receiver.

Ginny Loveless –
With Falcon’s bruuuuutal schedule, there’s no way I’d put Matt Ryan on the list.

HHmmmm…. Matt Hasselbeck and Trent Edwards

MH: In the past, Hasselbeck has been a proven fantasy starter. So, knowing he can be in that role eases the assumption that he can do it again.  Last year was extremely subpar for him due not only to the injuries to his receivers, but his own injury which caused him to miss half the season. Hasselbeck has said himself that he is now completely recovered from his back woes and even Coach More is happy with his progress, so that’s always good to hear. 

Doing some quick math here, had he played all 16 games –all things being equal – he would have ended the season with about 2850 yards and 11 touchdowns.   While that’s pretty middle-of-the-pack stats, he should thrive this year as he gets to air it out to TJ Houshmandzadeh and John Carlson. Not to mention that if Nate Burleson and Deion Branch can stay healthy, things will be even easier for the 10-year vet.

TE: From what I’ve seen and read, Trent Edwards is a great decision maker who understands the offense and we should see an overall improvement of him at this position as he enters his third year.  But, it’s the addition of Terrell Owens to his receiving crew that makes me include him here. Lee Evans is great to have on the other side of the field, too. If Marshawn Lynch and the Bills’ running game keep steady, that should make things easier for him as well.

Between Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson…..whoever wins that job I would add to the list… There’s talent in Cleveland with Braylon Edwards and Brian Robiskie.  Quinn is one more year into being more mature and I think he can really start something good this year with Edwards. Braylon’s flub last year was a fluke and he will rebound. :::crossfingers:::

Parag Gheewala – Mockumentary
I like the Matt Hasslebeck pick, but I’ll stick my neck out and go with Ben Roethlisberger.  I have a feeling that Ben will have solid but unspectacular season.  His owners will be constantly looking for an upgrade because he’ll never quite be a difference maker each week.  Not many will try to trade for him because he won’t seem like an upgrade.  But at the end of the season, everyone will be shocked to see that Ben’s made it into the top 8 (barely).  Some of the better QBs will get hurt (Kurt Warner, I’m looking at you) and some will sit because their teams have clinched the playoffs.  The result is that one of the best NFL QBs will put together a top 8 fantasy football season. Since his ADP is outside of the top 12, he sounds like a nice backup QB to grab.
Matt Schauf –
I’m definitely not a Braylon Edwards believer. I think that the numbers he has put up with various quarterbacks over four seasons indicate that he’s much closer to a 70-catch, 7-touchdown type of player at best than the blowed-up 2007 version. If he were a true, sure-fire No. 1 wideout, I have to think he either would have snapped out of the funk at some point last season or found the Giants willing to give up Steve Smith to bring him aboard this winter.
Roethlisberger is another player that I never end up drafting, because he has clearly shown that he can’t be counted on for big numbers. I’d like to think that the apparent emergence of Santonio Holmes will set Ben up to finally reach 20 TD passes for the second time in his career this year, but there was no good reason for him not to do so last year.

The potential for distraction in this new lawsuit that might involve sexual assault doesn’t help things either.

Josh Torrey –
I don’t believe Holmes “playoff” emergence will amount to much this season. He is a good player, but I don’t think he’ll be consistent enough to counter Ben’s lack of consistency.

That said, Trent Edwards & Matt Hasselback are my two nominations. I’ve written an article on Edwards (that received due heat) trying to show that big numbers from him are not that far fetched. The guy didn’t play in two games last year as was crazy efficient in his 2nd Year.  I obviously expect that efficiency to go down as he tosses the ball deep more often but he just got one of the best redzone WRs in the NFL. His TDs should be on the rise.

Ginny Loveless –
Some thoughts on Parag’s Big Ben take:
Parag: I’ll stick my neck out and go with Ben Roethlisberger.
Me: Big Ben has never been a relevant/dependable fantasy option.
Parag: His owners will be constantly looking for an upgrade.

Me:  Agreed.

Parag: He’ll never quite be a difference maker each week.


Parag: Not many will try to trade for him because he won’t seem like an upgrade.

Me: Agreed.

Parag: But at the end of the season, everyone will be shocked to see that Ben’s made it into the top 8. Some of the better QBs will get hurt and some will sit because their teams have clinched the playoffs.

Me: If he gets into the top 8 based on injuries and starters sitting then he has not achieved anything.  It will still be the same subpar fantasy performance we expect from Big Ben, but he is moving up in the ranks out of default.  I’ll pass.

Matt Schauf –
From the looks of things, Holmes’ Super Bowl performance has led to him rededicating this off-season. He’s added some bulk and just generally seems more focused on proving himself every time I see him quoted. I’m not penciling him in as a fantasy No. 1, but I do think it’s possible he finally reaches that level.
Andrew Garda –
Actually Big Ben is reliable from the standpoint of, he doesn’t lose you matchups – though he won’t win you championships.

But I’d be shocked if he hit the top 10.

Echoing thoughts here: I think Hasselbeck and Edwards have shots, though Hass has to stay healthy (and his Oline needs to hang on one more year) and Edwards has to overcome three new starters on the line.

I’m going to throw a different wrinkle in there – Chad Pennington.

Granted this will be a VERY tough climb – the schedule he has is abusive and just looking at the AFC East alone shows teams that managed to get better than they were last year. And last year they didn’t exactly suck.

Still, Pennington had a great season in 2008 and not much changed offensively for the Phins this off-season. Ginn has a year more experience, the team picked up some rookie help, Ronnie Brown looks healthy and ready to go and Penny is coming off a season where he finished top 10 in many leagues.

The Wildcat didn’t hurt Pennington and won’t this year – and Pat White hasn’t done a thing to impact the QB position yet (though White is a guy who always looks worse in practice than in games).

Aside from the tough schedule Pennington needs to: stay healthy (rare), stay accurate (usually a strength) and stay upright (Dolphins were ranked 23rd in sacks allowing only 26). The Dolphins were a top 10 passing offense in 2008 (according to – if that holds it gives Pennington (the main man there) a strong chance to do the same in 2009.

If you grab him as part of a QBBC, you limit risk and still have the upside for a nice season.

Jim Day –
I am going to go outside the box here and say Shaun Hill. Yes I said Shaun Hill, STOP LAUGHING.

I know that Alex Smith was getting talked up out of OTA’s but he will NOT beat out Hill to start. Okay that established, let’s take a closer look at Hill.

In the last 8 games of 2008 (his starts) he finished 8th in QB scoring, beating out Warner, Big Ben, McNabb, Ryan, and most definitely Brett Favre. He has a completion percentage of 64% in his 10 career starts. He averages 250 yds per start and has 18 Tds versus only 9 interceptions over that same period.

Now he has a 2nd year receiver in Josh Morgan who many feel is in a good position to break out. Morgan has good size and speed and should improve on his 2008 numbers.

He also has a great veteran in Isaac Bruce who had 61 receptions for 835 yards and 7 TDs in 2008. Many feel he won’t put up those numbers in 2009, but it is hard to count him out.

Now add in a receiver many felt was the best receiver, if not the best impact player, in this year’s draft, Michael Crabtree. Crabtree had over 3000 yards and 41 TDs in just two years in a high powered Texas Tech offense. He has good size, great hands and very good speed.  He is not your ordinary rookie and should give Hill a very nice red zone option.

Look for Hill to top 3000 yards and be very close to 25 TDs.

Ginny Loveless –
RE: Jim – I am going to go outside the box here and say Shaun Hill. Yes I said Shaun Hill, STOP LAUGHING.

That’s it.  I want out of these Roundtable shenanigans.

Josh Torrey –

Matt Schauf said: From the looks of things, Holmes’ Super Bowl performance has led to him rededicating this off-season. He’s added some bulk and just generally seems more focused on proving himself every time I see him quoted. I’m not penciling him in as a fantasy No. 1, but I do think it’s possible he finally reaches that level.

Me: I know this is a QB thread but I have to respond to this, lol.

Holmes spent a lot of time this last off-season adding strength too. He went through almost all practices in Training Camp with weighted gloves. I really felt it made a difference in terms of him snatching balls from the air. But my point was this, I’m not slighting Holmes. I’m just saying he wouldn’t be good enough to change how Ben plays football. To make Ben consistent, you’re going to need to sit him in the pocket & ask him to not take wild chances….that will lead to losing games. Ben will be erratic, he’ll have horrific fantasy games and you’ll regret drafting him when you’re playing against Brees, Brady or Manning.

All this btw? I’m a huge Steelers fan and own Big Ben as my Dynasty QB in a 16 Team League. So this is no anti-Ben bias.

Steve Wyremski – 
Sign me up for Matt Ryan and Trent Edwards to replace Orton.

Matt Ryan
I realize that he’s got a nasty schedule (or so it seems), but it’s very tough to give that a ton of weight at this point given the parity in the NFL and the fluctuation of top teams year after year.  Tony Gonzalez should help out big time freeing up the receivers and with a year under his belt he should be golden.  Come on…!  I’m a BC fan!

Trent Edwards
This is pretty simple for me taking a look at a simple fact.  Last year’s squad was Lee Evans, Josh Reed and Robert Royal.  Now, we’re looking at TO, Lee Evans and Shawn Nelson.  Talk about night and day.  Edwards is primed for a breakout season and the team should largely benefit from the presence of TO during his honeymoon season.  Besides, TO looks like his finally matured from watching his show on VH1.  Really.   

And that’s it for today’s discussion – thanks to everyone for taking part and for reading.
To find out more about the folks involved, please take a moment to read below:


Matt Schauf  (@mschauf63) You can now find his work as the lead football writer for PFS and or at, where he also provides the strategy for the “Hollywood” character in the industry’s first single-player fantasy football game. His IDP writing can also be found at and in preview magazines for Sporting News, Rotoworld and Football Diehards.


Joshua Torrey (@jmtorrey) is a contributor to & is a fan of not just football but football strategy. Joshua enjoys breaking down game tape and team schemes to predict long term fantasy success.


Andrew Garda (@ThunderingBlurb) writes for a myriad of sites including, and his own site, He also hosts his own weekly show The Thundering Blurb Football Show every Wednesday (10pm EST) on


Steve Wyremski’s (@retiredrookie) primary focus is to reach out to NFL and NCAA players for interviews in an effort to bring the players closer to fans.  Dynasty leagues are a huge focus of his, but general football strategy is his love.


Parag Gheewala (@vote4parag) is an average guy with a day job who loves fantasy football and is also the mastermind behind Mockumentary, which started as his Twitter commentary on the first Twitter Fantasy Football Mock Draft.


Jim Day (@Fantasytaz)  has been writing for FF sites since 2000 when he started with Jim started Fantasy Football Whiz in 2007 just as a place to have some fun and conversation with fellow league mates and any other fantasy fanatic that wanted to talk FF.


Jared Ferree (@WYFShow ) hosts the “What’s Your Fantasy” radio show/podcast on Blogtalkradio’s Fantasy Sports Channel with Raymond Summerlin.  He is also a frequent contributor to with both fantasy player rankings and general fantasy football articles. 


Ginny Loveless (@GBGinny) is a staff writer at Football Diehards and is part of the weekly fantasy football recap crew. This beer-drinking, brat-eating, cheesehead will give you her best tip at being successful in fantasy football: numbers don’t lie. Stick with the facts and you’ll do alright. However . . . a little luck never hurts.
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Quarterback Blurb Breakdown: Trent Edwards Sat, 18 Jul 2009 15:22:43 +0000 admin Trent Edwards has new weapons to throw to - but will the offensive line hold up?

Trent Edwards has new weapons to throw to - but will the offensive line hold up?

Trent Edwards finds himself in a classic ‘put up or shut up’ situation this year.

The Bills went out and made some noise by signing Terrell Owens to a single year contract, giving fellow wide receiver Lee Evans someone who will draw coverage off of him and Edwards a second legitimate target.

Of course, the danger with T.O. is well known – calling him ‘QB-Killer’ wouldn’t be out of line. Still, he’s usually good for at least one season of production before an implosion and the Bills were wise in giving him just a year contract.

Plus, if you look at his history quarterbacks tend to do pretty well with him – at least the first year.

So Edwards could be in line for a nice bump in production.

On the downside, Edwards is losing Marshawn Lynch for three games. Fred Jackson looked very good last year and the team brought in Dominic Rhodes, so one hopes the run game won’t stumble too badly to open the season.

Rhodes hasn’t been spectacular the last few seasons and we only have part of a season to go on in terms of gauging Jackson’s production though, so it is a bit of an unknown factor.

More concerning is the offensive line.  There is a lot of disagreement as to how good a Left Tackle Jason Peters was, but the fact is, even a decent LT is at a premium and now Buffalo has three new guys filling in across the line.

It will be a worry up until the point we actually see them play and maybe even beyond. The AFC East will test them early and often and the defenses there will not be forgiving if the line shows itself to be weak.

Edwards himself could use the time a good offensive line would grant him. The longer he has, the better the chance he won’t check-down early and might throw the ball further down-field. Some of that is play-calling, but some of that is Edwards and if he’s going to take advantage of his new toys, he has to take a few more chances.

You know darn well T.O. will voice his displeasure if Edwards doesn’t throw to him, and if things start slow that’s going to be a concern.

So far in his career, Edwards hasn’t been a great Fantasy quarterback. He doesn’t throw for a ton of touchdowns (21 in 24 games, three of which were rushing scores) but let’s be honest here – Lee Evans can only do so much with every defensive back hanging onto his shoelaces while James Hardy, Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish flounder around the field. T.O. can make a huge difference.

I want to see what happens in Training Camp. How will he click with his new weapon? Can the offensive line gel? Will the run game miss any beat?

If some of these questions are answered in Training Camp, Edwards could go from a decent backup to something much more.

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Quarterback Blurb Breakdown: Jay Cutler Thu, 16 Jul 2009 12:05:38 +0000 admin


Can Jay Cutler make it in the Windy City?

Can Jay Cutler make it in the Windy City?

On the surface, Chicago sure seemed to get the better of the Orton/Cutler trade. Denver got some nice draft picks, Orton and a bag of chips while Chicago got something it hasn’t had in an incredibly long time:  a Franchise quarterback.

Or did they?

There has been a ton of discussion about Cutler’s off-the-field issues and attitude and how it could affect his play. And from what I hear, there is some truth to the rumors out there.

Put that aside though, the more important question is: who will he throw to?

The crux of that might come down to whether you think Cutler made Marshall/Royal or they made him?

I think the truth lies in the middle. It’s not the cop-out it may seem, if you look closely.

Cutler throws a lot. It’s the way he rolls and he has the arm to back it up, although sometimes his accuracy is a tad skittish. He’ll throw a ton and it’s one of the worries I have for Matt Forte – the dump offs he got last year won’t be there as Cutler forces the ball downfield.

But back to Cutler: We know the Bears will have him throw the ball. They didn’t trade the house to have him hand it off.  And we know he can throw the ball well and far.

He just isn’t throwing to quality wide receivers.

Two things are often mentioned when this comes up:

1)      Devin Hester is JUST about to break out this year. I know people said it would happen last year but it WILL happen this year. Listen, I didn’t say it last year and I won’t this year. Hester is fast and deadly with the ball in his hands.

But getting the ball into his hands – well, he hasn’t shown me he can make the tough catches needed to be a top wide receiver. Marshall was able to adjust to some of Cutler’s ‘special’ balls. Hester? We’ll see.

2)      Cutler knew Earl Bennett at Vandy – instant chemistry! I wouldn’t be my house on it. Sure, they know each other but they haven’t played together in a long time. Not saying they won’t click – but counting on it is a little risky.

The rest of the receiver corps is a collection of also-rans and rookies.

Now if this is the case, how is he currently 10 on my list?

Simple – he will elevate that group more than they pull him down. While I don’t think Hester is close to elite, he’s more than serviceable and his vertical game matches up well with Cutler’s.

Cutler also has Greg Olsen, a young tight end who can also stretch the field as well as make shorter catches.

Now while the Bears will run the ball, they won’t run it exclusively. I very much expect Cutler to throw more than hand off. In fact, Forte’s ability to run the ball will help open up the secondary for Cutler.

Still and all, you have to assume there will be some issues. So while I think he could put up very good numbers, I’d be leery of depending on him and only him for most of my season.  

Cutler brings out some real emotion in many corners, as evidenced by my intense debate with Greg Kellogg on The Thundering Blurb Show recently. Somehow, you’re either with Cutler or against him and there is little in between.

If you can put aside your Bronco or Bear colored glasses, I think you’ll see a player who is a very good quarterback. Remember – regardless of the whining and less-than-distinguished manner of his departure from Colorado – that this is a Pro Bowl quarterback who can excel.

I believe that as a portion of your quarterback by committee – even the main part – you would be more than happy to have him.

But I also believe if you reach for him expecting top five numbers, you run the risk of being disappointed and struggling this season at your quarterback spot.

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Running Back Blurb Breakdown: Larry Johnson Sat, 04 Jul 2009 03:57:48 +0000 admin Once upon a time, Larry Johnson was Fantasy relevant.

He still is – although perhaps as a cautionary tale of too much complaining, not enough production.

It’s too bad because we’ve seen some great production from him even in the last two, stunted years.

Maybe it was the immense number of carries in 2005 & 2006 (336 & 416 respectively).

Maybe it was the ineffectual regimes in Kansas City. Maybe it was the weight of his not-insubstantial ego.

Whatever the cause, he has been in trouble or hurt often after the last few years.

It didn’t help his numbers last year that he caught just 12 balls after several seasons of 30+ catches. It looks unlikely that the Chiefs will utilize him to catch out of the backfield much this season, although with All-World Tight End Tony Gonzalez has gone of to Atlanta.

So, it’s possible LJ could get a few more catches since Brad Cottam is rumored to be staying in to block a lot.

We’ve seen too much of a dip to think Johnson is ready to bounce back anytime soon. Especially with a shaky offensive line, an unproven quarterback (albeit coming of a tremendous year) throwing to a small number of offensive weapons and probably  less than desired as the defense struggles to stop opposing drives and get the offense reps.

Johnson still has some upside but is nowhere near the back who once occupied a lounging spot in the preseason top ten rankings.

The best you can do is draft him for depth and hope he can put in a performance for a few games like he did week 3 vs Atlanta (121yds, 1TD), week 4 vs Denver (198yds, 2TDs) or week 16 vs Miami (108yds, 1TD).

But good luck figuring out when to start him. Thanks, but I think I’ll pass, regardless of perceived value – even in the fifth or sixth rounds.

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Running Back Blurb Breakdown: Steve Slaton Thu, 02 Jul 2009 10:46:00 +0000 admin

Slaton is another back who people are either very high on or very wary of.

Questions about him are many: Is he too small to carry the load (ala Maurice Jones-Drew)? Will he lose carries to a second back (ala Joseph Addai)? Will he have issues if (maybe when) quarterback Matt Schaub or wide receiver Andre Johnson go down?

Let’s take a look at these very valid concerns and see if they hold up and if so (or if not), what that truly means.

First of all, size. While I have been researching an article on Jones-Drew, I’ve taken a hard look at the sizes and weights of many NFL running backs. Slaton is a tad on the short side, although at 5′-9 I still think that’s not a huge concern.

What might be a concern is his weight. Slaton rolls in as a trim (maybe slight is a better term) 203 pounds. While he isn’t Darren Sproles (5-6, 181lbs!) the thin frame is worrisome.

Even Slaton knew this – that’s why he added about nine pounds of muscle to help with the pounding. That pulls him closer to some of the slightly taller backs (in the 5-10 to 5-11 range) and help him with his short yardage work.

Now, as we’re concerned with size, it would stand to reason the Texans would be as well. But they didn’t bring in a power back to cut into Slaton’s carries at all. In fact, the backs behind him consist of a fragile runner, an underperforming back who runs like Slaton, a pair of rookies and a perennial camp body.

Not really a group striking fear into Slaton’s heart. Of them, most likely to succeed in any way is rookie Arian Foster, who impressed in OTAs and at 6-1, 225 pounds can fulfill the power back role. This might harm Slaton’s overall touchdown total as an awful lot of his TDs were short yardage – four were a yard or less and a fifth was just two yards.

Two thoughts – one, Slaton sure seemed to be ok going short yardage and not only was he effective on the goal line, but he played well getting first downs. Could it be that Houston didn’t acquire a full-on short yardage back because they believe Slaton can do it, with Brown (or now Foster) spelling him?

Alternatively, you have to be concerned that if he does loose his goal-line attempts, his touchdown totals are decimated.

Slaton did have about seven 40+ runs, though, including one over 71 yards which resulted in a touchdown. He can break away from tacklers and if the offense is more consistent, that could offset any loss in the short yardage game.

Still, most of his ten touchdowns were short yardage. So it definitely could be a problem.

Finally, there is the concern that if Johnson or Schaub goes down with an injury, Slaton could face too many defenses selling out to stop him.

Well, with Schaub on the bench injured and Sage Rosenfels striking fear into the hearts of nobody, Slaton performed pretty well for the most part last season.

While the depth behind Schaub is even more shaky this year (Dan Orlovsky and Rex Grossman – WOO HOO!), I still expect Slaton to play as well as he did last year and with another year under his belt, have the potential to be even better.

Overall, Slaton ran the ball well throughout the 2008 season. He had some good games against good run defenses (Minnesota), some ok run defenses (Jacksonville) and some bad run defenses (Detroit, Green Bay & Indianapolis).

He also had some disappointing games against poor run defenses (Cleveland) and some great run defenses (Pittsburgh, Miami, Baltimore). That’s to be expected from a rookie. This year he needs a little more consistency before he is considered a true stud.

Overall, I like Slaton quite a bit this year.

I think he will not lose much in the way of carries or targets and has already said he feels like he knows what his coaches want and how to achieve it. I think he has no more or less questions than any back in front or behind him, has no real challengers for carries and I believe the offensive line has continued to improve over time.

His questions are very real, however, and must be considered when drafting him.

If Slaton stays healthy and the offense plays well, he has the opportunity to not only crack the top ten again, but potentially the top five as well.

The risk is; with just one season to look over we don’t know if last year was the rule – or the exception.

And that risk will keep him from the top of a lot of people’s Fantasy Draft boards.

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Running Back Blurb Breakdown: DeAngelo Williams Sat, 27 Jun 2009 02:08:00 +0000 admin

DeAngelo Williams

How can I NOT have him earlier will be the cry – and it doesn’t matter where he ranks. If it isn’t top 3, it won’t matter. Some folks will be bent out of shape.

Those cries have a case – Williams finally exploded last season and Carolina Head Coach John Fox loves his veterans – usually to the point of benching a more talented rookie.

He might not even have to even make that choice this year as Williams seems to be poised for potentially another great season while second year RB Jonathan Stewart hasn’t stepped up yet to become lead back. And wow is that offensive line adept at opening holes for Panther backs to run through.

Yet even though the offense runs the ball a lot (504 attempts last season) will they duplicate the amount of carries from 2008 in 2009?

Stewart pitched in with 10 touchdowns and even while battling an early injury he played well last season. Rookie Mike Goodson might see some work too. As much as they do run there still should be plenty to go around but it also means they will need to spell Williams. How much? And if they don’t will he burn out after two heavy carry seasons?

Finally, we have to wonder: was what we saw last year the reality – or a one shot deal? Will he be able to repeat his 2008 performance? We’ve had one year wonders before – and many teams who grabbed them too early in the first regretted it later in the season.

I like Williams, don’t get me wrong. But I’m not sure I like him enough to take him with a top five pick like many are suggesting.

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Running Back Blurb Breakdown: Matt Forte Sat, 27 Jun 2009 01:48:00 +0000 admin
Matt Forte
Another guy who people will argue should/could be in the top 3 but I can’t go there.

Yes, fantastic first year. And the offense looks like it is about to step it up. But that doesn’t mean Forte will get even better.

Why? Well, for several reasons. First of all, his YPC was a pedestrian 3.9 and he’ll need to improve that to continue to put up numbers, especially since his carries will probably drop as Cutler throws more than Orton did.

Speaking of Cutler – while his arm will open things up for the run game (even with mediocre wide receivers) a ton of Forte’s 63 receptions were checkdowns by the quarterback. Cutler doesn’t play that way – he much more often forces a throw down-field.

So I think it is hard to expect close to the receiving numbers He threw just 61 TARGETS to backs in 2008. Not receptions – TARGETS. (In fairness to the ‘numbers’ game – he threw at running backs 81 times in 2007.)

The Bears’ offensive line is not as good as Denver’s, his receivers aren’t close and the defense should keep it close. Still, they didn’t trade the house for Cutler to hand Forte the ball, regardless of the young RB’s talent.

Once again, this points to at least a slight dip in Forte’s production. I just don’t know how big it goes.

If the Bears defense cannot hold the line, it could be a big dip as Cutler throws to his less-than-stud receivers to come from behind. Or it could just be a little regression as the team transitions into a more passing team.

But until I see the offense in action – and by action I don’t mean t-shirts and shorts – I can’t say what it will look like. So I don’t want to invest a huge risk by grabbing him before some of the guys prior to him on the list.

He’ll land in the top 10. I just don’t expect a repeat of his top 3 ranking from 2008.

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Running Back Blurb Breakdown: Maurice Jones-Drew Sat, 27 Jun 2009 01:25:00 +0000 admin
Maurice Jones-Drew
One of the most divisive backs in fantasy right now, Maurice Jones-Drew is a fantastic athlete whose strength and speed belies his size.

But questions still plague him.

He’s never carried the rock as the feature back, not even in college. And as much as he is tough, will he wear down if the Titans do use him as the bell cow? Or conversely, will they spell him a bunch with Greg Jones and Rashard Jennings?

MJD should put up nice numbers, especially in a PPR league but he’s going as the second – in some cases FIRST – Rb off the board in some drafts.

I haven’t even gotten to the revamped offensive line, though I think it will be healthy and capable this season. But they’ll be rolling out a pair of rookies and while some of that could be merely for depth, they really collapsed fast in 2008.

In their defense, you can’t have what they went through happen and not collapse. Once Richard Collier was shot and paralyzed, the fact they even pulled it together when they did is pretty gutty.

The passing attack appears to also be a big question mark at first glance. But Tory Holt alone is better than anyone on the roster last year, save the departed Matt Jones. And the two draft picks of Jake Dillard and Mike Thomas have looked good enough in tees and shorts to allow Dennis Northcutt to be traded.

Still, Garrard seemed to plateau last season and if he cannot get a little more going on, MJD might start finding his running lanes clogged.

While I think Jones-Drew has the talent, there are many questions I have about him. To many to take him earlier than where he is at five.

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