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Week 9 - Over Half Way There - I C Playoffs!!

By: David Bachman Fantasy Football Editor 11/10/04

Lets Get At It

Quote of the Week : Mike Martz talking with Seattle area Journalists before the upcoming NFC West showdown this Sunday. Q: Have you felt any heat for not running the ball a lot? Martz: “I don’t mean to be crass, but I’ve got to tell you that I really don’t care. I could really care less what anybody thinks. Somebody is really mistaken there.”

Trends continue to develop from the beginning of the season that owners should factor into their weekly decision making process. The one things that sticks out in my mind is:

You start your studs regardless of matchups, but the past has taught us to temper expectations for players facing Baltimore and Tampa Bay. There are two others to consider this season as games against the Pats, Steelers, and Bears have proven to be tough for our usual fantasy studs.

The Steelers have not allowed a team to pass for 250 yards since the opener and held the Eagles’ Donovan McNabb to 109 yards, sacked him four times and intercepted him once in Week Nine. In other words, keep Browns QB Jeff Garcia on the bench this week. That probably goes for his receivers, André Davis, Antonio Bryant and Dennis Northcutt, too.

The Jets’ passing game has been grounded for much of 2004. Chad Pennington hasn’t thrown for more than 190 yards since Week Six and has thrown more than one TD pass only once since Week Two. He’ll be unavailable this week because of a sore throwing shoulder, so it may not be the best idea to start WRs Santana Moss or Justin McCareins against the Ravens’ seventh-ranked pass defense and standout S Ed Reed.

Giants WR Amani Toomer has put up a measly 115 yards in the last three games. Think about giving him some rest against a Cardinals defense that has surrendered only 132 yards a game through the air the last three weeks.

The window of opportunity has opened for RB Willis McGahee, whose confidence has visibly returned in Buffalo. He has started three of the last four games, rushing for 111, 102 and 132 yards and reaching the endzone three times in his three starts. The Patriots have given up more yards than normal against the run, so don’t shy away from McGahee at this point.

The Jaguars have given up 273, 359 and 276 passing yards, respectively, in their last three games. Lions WRs Az-Zahir Hakim (210 yards the last two games) and Roy Williams (five TDs as a rookie) and maybe even QB Joey Harrington all could be in for a decent day.

Make sure you don’t bench David Carr when he faces a porous Colts pass defense that is ranked last in the league. With 85-, 88- and 86-yard outings, Texans WR Jabar Gaffney has outgained his more celebrated teammate, Andre Johnson, in each of the last three games, by a total of 91 yards. Good thing to get both those guys on the field this week vs. an injury-depleted Colts secondary.

The Cowboys aren't the only NFC East team stirring up quarterback controversy. Giants' coach Tom Coughlin admitted to thinking about inserting Eli Manning during last week's game, and the loss of Michael Strahan could accelerate the losing process and eventual switch. Then there is the Redskins' quarterback situation, which my physician instructed me not to talk about lest I do harm to myself or others around me.

Continuing on the topic of young quarterbacks, Browns' fans will have the honor of watching Ben Roethlisberger in person this Sunday. Many Ohioans saw Big Ben perform at Findlay high school at Miami of Ohio, and it will undoubtedly be aggravating to watch the native son playing on a rival AFC North squad for the next decade. How's that Kellen Winslow pick working out by the way? Why does Butch Davis still have a job, Mr. Lerner? In a similar situation, if Cavaliers general manager Jim Paxson had let LeBron James fall to the Pistons in the 2003 draft, how quickly would owner Gordon Gund have fired Paxson?

I've listed Jake Plummer as my sell-high candidate before, but I really can't state it enough times. At home, Plummer averages 297 yards, owns 14 touchdowns, and has completed 61.8 of his passes over five games. On the road, Jake averages 200 yards, owns five touchdowns, and has completed 53.8 of his passes over four games. Pretty disparate split, right? After a bye this Sunday, the Broncos play four of their next six games away from home.

It's never fun to play without a stud running back, but Chargers' running back LaDainian Tomlinson badly needed this bye week. Thanks to a sore groin, the stud has averaged less than three yards-per-carry in four of the last five games. I'm hoping for a more explosive L.T. over the final seven contests, and meetings with the Raiders, Chiefs (twice), and Colts should generate huge numbers.

I've heard and read a lot of Matt Hasselbeck bashing both in my office and on other fantasy web sites in recent weeks. As a loyal defender of the Seahawk passer, I feel the need to point out his 285-yard, three-touchdown effort last Sunday. I'll also remind people that the Seahawks play five of their final eight games at home, and two of their road contests (St. Louis and Minnesota) are in domes against poor pass defenses. And, finally, I'll recap the numbers Hasselbeck put up over the final eight games of 2002 (2,502 yards, 13 touchdowns) and 2003 (2,067 yards, 14 touchdowns). Even without Koren Robinson, Hasselbeck is going to be a top-five fantasy quarterback over the rest of the season and don't come crying to me if you're one of the people that gave up on him early.

Join Our Sponsor Today - Free $10 Bet on The House The weekly bonehead fantasy team decision on my part was to bench Darrel Jackson, and to sit Hasselbeck on one team over McNabb, Jackson was injured and I didn't get word quick enough that he was suiting up. Luckily for me also I have Gates on that team, and I have found that he is as good as even Priest for racking up fantasy points.

Quick Hit - My Dream Team for Week 10

David Carr should have little trouble against the league's bottom-ranked pass defense. I feel good about Donovan McNabb's chances of lighting up the slumping Dallas defense. I would have paid almost any amount to get Priest Holmes on my team as he faces the NFL's worst defense. Minnesota and Green Bay always score points, so I'll take Onterrio Smith's big stats this week thankyou. Tampa Bay is a good defense, but they've slumped to the bottom third against the run, so I'll take Warrick Dunn. Torry Holt's big play ability makes him an ideal fantasy player, and Like the Vikings, the Texans have a track record of allowing touchdowns to second receivers, so I'll take Reggie Wayne. I don't believe Randy Moss will be healthy enough to make a meaningful contribution in this game, so I'm taking Marcus Robinson. In the event that Holmes misses any of the Chiefs' scores, I'll get them from Tony Gonzalez. I needed a cheap kicker from a competent offense, and Gary Anderson fits the bill. Steve Christie is among the league's highest-scoring kickers this year. The Redskins make plenty of mistakes, so I'll try the Cincinnati Bengals surprisingly good fantasy defense.

Players I think you should grab or Trade For

Michael Pittman, RB, TB – Pittman has become the focus of the Tampa offense. Garner and Alstott are hurt. Brian Griese has taken the reins at QB. Joey Galloway hasn’t returned yet. Only due to the emergence of Michael Clayton do the Bucs have any other threats. Pittman is thriving on the attention. Expect the Bucs to make a push for a playoff berth with Pittman leading the way. The defense isn’t nearly as good as they were a few years ago so the offense needs to be more aggressive. That’s a recipe for success – suspect defense, not many other options on offense. Pittman will be a big scorer down the stretch.

Dallas Clark, TE, IND – The Colts are another team that needs to keep scoring to make up for an inadequate defense. Teams are trying to take away Manning’s outside threats daring him to use the short passes. Clark is healthy and spent a lot of time on the field the past few games. On Monday him and Pollard combined for 3 TDs. Marvin Harrison is complaining that he’s not getting the ball enough but the real loser in this equation is Stokely. He’s not part on the normal offensive formation any longer.

Hines Ward, WR, PIT – Ward has become the second option in the red zone for the Steelers. Big Ben prefers Plaxico. However, Ward still catches a bunch of passes a game and is huge in leagues that award a point per reception. Expect teams to pay closer attention to Burress in the endzone. Ward got 1 TD catch this week and I expect him to grab a few more in the coming weeks. One thing I’m sure of; he won’t whine about getting the ball. That’s not his style.

Onterrio Smith, RB, MIN – The Vikings offense is a little sluggish lately. The reason for that is pretty obvious. Once Randy Moss returns things will get back to normal. When that happens, Smith will become an excellent play in all leagues. He is the best RB on the Viking roster. Moore will be a 3rd down back when he returns. I expect Bennett to be traded this off season. Smith will be a stud next year if he stays out of trouble.

Jake Plummer, QB, DEN– Jake will be the starter for the Broncs for the rest of this year and word has it that Denver will pick up his option for next year. He isn’t a fantastic NFL QB but he’s an excellent fantasy QB. He just scores a lot of points..


Players That Are Cooling Off A Bit


Jets’ WRs –
The Jets’ top two receivers this year are Sowell and Martin, two RBs. Jet fans can’t complain because the Jets are 6-1. But fantasy owners of Moss and McCareins have been pulling their hair out all season. However, Chad Pennington is out for a few games. Everybody expects the Jets to just hand the ball off to Curtis Martin. The opposing defenses have to be thinking that too. So expect eight man fronts to stop the rush and dare Quincy Carter to beat them. Watch Moss and McCareins to have better games. They are good starts the next few weeks.

Giants’ WRs – Kurt Warner is having problems. The same things that hindered him the past few years are back: fumbles, floating passes that are picked off, etc. The offensive line has been terrible. Again, the same problems that were a fixture last year for the Giants’ line are back. Warner hasn’t had any time to throw. Because he is used to getting pressure he is looking to either run or throw the ball quickly. Balls have been going to RBs out of the backfield and to TE Jeremy Shockey. Toomer and Hillard are becoming useless for their fantasy owners. A change to Eli Manning won’t help the Giant WRs.

Redskin WRs – Why is Mark Brunell still the Redskin QB? Two more WRs that have had fantasy success have been utterly useless the past few weeks. Clinton Portis threw the only TD pass this week. Unlike The Giants, I think a change at QB could provide a boost to the Redskin WRs. Joe Gibbs actually threw the ball all over the place with Mark Rypien years ago so I don’t think he’s adverse to opening up the offense. Obviously, Portis is the main man in DC, but a decent QB could make defenses pay for guarding against the run. Play action passes should be successful. Let’s see what Patrick Ramsey can do. Last year he had Candidate and Betts behind him. Give him a chance with a legitimate RB.

Aaron Brooks, QB, NO – Brooks gets put on the list for one play that occurred on Sunday. It may be only one play but it shows why Brooks is such an enigma for usfantasy guys. He could look great one week and then terrible the next. Anyway, if you didn’t see the play in question. He fired a bullet pass backward towards his own goal line to his offensive tackle. It you haven’t seen it yet, go find the replay.

Donovan McNabb, QB, PHI – I’m going to chalk Sunday’s performance up to the whole Philly offense having a bad game. I’m not going to panic with either McNabb or Owens. The Steelers are playing well. Westbrook is just getting back to full strength. The Eagles will be back. Might be a good time to try to pry McNabb or Owens away from their owners. Always have to take advantage of the less patient guys in your league.

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Heating Up

Drew Brees, QB, SD – The Chargers are 5-3 and are in contention for at least a wildcard berth. There no longer is any danger of rookie Philip Rivers getting significant playing time. Expect a few more high scoring games out west as the race goes down to the wire. Brees will be a nice start if the matchup is good and won’t be a terrible start even when facing a good defense. If you are disappointed with your QB and are in a redraft league, try to acquire Brees. He’s probably a #2 QB on his present team so he should be available. Owners in a dynasty league shouldn’t give up too much because Brees could be in the same situation next year as Jon Kitna was this year.

Peyton Manning, QB, Indy – If you are a Colt fan you are cursing the Colt defense. If you are a Manning fantasy owner you are thrilled that the Indy defense is terrible. They are forcing Peyton to throw the ball all game. This coming week the Vikings are on the schedule so the TD passes should keep coming. The Manning owner won’t be moving him. Just hope that you aren’t matched up against him in the playoffs.

Plaxico Burress, WR, Pitt – Big Ben and Plaxico have clicked since Maddux went down. Burress has become the guy that gets the looks on 3rd down and in the redzone. He’s a definite candidate for acquisition at the trade deadline. Sometimes a QB and WR just get on the same page and when that happens the WR’s value gets a big boost. Look at Chad Johnson. He had a breakout year with Kitna and is struggling with Palmer. Another example was Pennington to Coles. Coles hasn’t put up near the numbers since he left New York and until Monday night Chad hardly ever threw the ball to Justin McCareins.

What We're Hearing

Randy Moss - WR Minnesota Vikings 11/10/04

Moss has officially been ruled out for the game this weekend against the Packers. While there is a chance he could return in week 11 against the Lions, a more likely return will be the following week against the Jaguars. The Vikings will require that Moss has another MRI prior to clearing him to play again.


Joey Galloway - WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11/10/04

Galloway aggravated his groin injury and will be questionable to play against the Falcons this week.


Marty Booker - WR Miami Dolphins 11/10/04

Booker has a high ankle sprain and may not be available when the Dolphins return from their bye this week. Derrius Thompson will replace Booker if needed.


Tim Rattay - QB San Francisco 49ers 11/10/04


Rattay canceled a scheduled medical exam that was to have revealed whether he needs surgery on his injured right forearm. Speculation is that Rattay would have been advised by a physician to have surgery, which would have required two weeks of recovery time. Rattay has already missed three games because of the injury and has opted to continue playing... for now.


Jamal Lewis - RB Baltimore Ravens 11/10/04


Lewis carried the ball 22 times in his first game back from a two-game suspension, but that doesn't seem to be enough. "Any time he doesn't have the ball 25 times, that's something we've got to go back and check," Head Coach Brian Billick said. "He needs to carry the ball more." No doubt Lewis owners nationwide would agree.


Courtney Anderson - TE Oakland Raiders 11/10/04

The Raiders have reported that Anderson suffered a significant knee injury in Sunday's game and is expected to miss four to six weeks.

Anderson had been sharing time with starter Doug Jolley but that will no longer be the case. Look for more opportunities for Jolley.


Brett Favre - QB Green Bay Packers 11/10/04

Favre spent his weekend off back home in Mississippi taking it easy. He returned from his time off with his hand and thumb in much better shape. Said Mike Sherman following some workouts Monday, "His thumb appears to be healed up and fine."


Thomas Jones - RB Chicago Bears 11/10/04

After skipping last week's game Jones is expected back in practice this week and when he's fully recovered from the toe injury he will move back into his feature back role. "Thomas Jones is still our starting tailback," Lovie Smith said when asked about his status Monday.

Ask-the-Expert mailbag

Chris Barnes, Seattle WA, Good Morning Dave, I have Culpepper, Hasselbeck and Brees, who should I be starting this next week? I have been sticking with Culpepper but have been getting killed.

DB - Brees is on bye. Culpepper remains your guy. Not every game is going to be a 5-TD affair for him. This week Daunte gets to throw on Green Bay. I know you expected more than 1 touchdown against the soft Indy defense, but I think this shows that Randy Moss is not easily replaceable. Hasselbeck plays St.Louis, not a bad opponent for a QB, but he ain't no Culpepp.

David Jones, Toronto ON Canada.: What's up with the running back by committee happening in Minnesota?

DB - Ontarrio Smith is expected to start this week, Smith is the best back on the roster and should re-emerge as the team's featured back. Bennett and Williams are getting touches in this offense but don't expect much more of that. Owners who have retained him over the past four weeks will be rewarded for their patience.

Richard Whithead, Atlanta, GA - Dave, who is the best quarterback in Fantasy Football; Peyton Manning, Daunte Culpepper, or Drew Brees?

DB - Peyton Manning has by far been the most consistent and productive reality signal caller in the last decade. I know, Manning hasn’t played for 10 seasons but that’s my point. If you look at Manning numbers over his six year career and take just those statistics and spread them over a 10-year period they are better than most quarterbacks that have actually played for a decade or more.

Both Manning and Culpepper are proven Fantasy commodities and have incredible numbers over the past two seasons. You have to show me that Vick has matured into a player who makes good decisions, both reading defenses and knowing when and how to avoid direct hits from opposing defensive players. The talent and ability are obvious with Vick, but many players with talent and ability have failed to nurture or harness those assets into successful NFL careers.

Have a Great Week. Try out our NFL Sportsbooks in the Review, and good luck in week 10 everyone. Dave B.

 


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