Monthly Archives: September 2009

FR: Defensive line injuries

Last week, we compared the significance of the long list of NFL offensive line injuries so far this season. Now we’re switching sides of the trench to break down the various defensive line injuries that have sidelined players thus far this season. We’ve included players who are on injured reserve and thus out for the season (they’re indicated with IR by their injury) and also players who are indicated as definitely out on this week’s Wednesday injury report.

If we missed anyone, leave a comment and we’ll add them.

10 – NT Jamal Williams, Chargers (triceps, IR) – Williams has long been one of the best 3-4 nose tackles in the league, and his massive presence and disruptive ability has been a key that has allowed the rest of San Diego’s D to attack. But a Week One triceps injury ended Williams’ season almost before it began, and that’s a big blow to the Chargers – especially since another key run-stuffer, Igor Olshansky, left for Dallas in free agency this year. San Diego’s defense will have to find a new centerpiece if it’s to have the punch that it had at its best.

9 – DT Maake Kemeoatu, Panthers (torn right Achilles, IR) – Kemeoatu played on the nose in a 4-3 system, and like Williams he was the heart of his team’s run defense. But he suffered a torn Achilles tendon on the first day of training camp, and the Panthers haven’t won since. It’s no coincidence, because the Panthers don’t have anyone who can replicate the space-eating presence Kemeoatu brought.

8 – none

7 – DE Dwight Freeney, Colts (out 2-3 weeks with quad injury) – Freeney was having a dominant game against Arizona in the Week 3 Sunday night game before he suffered a quad injury. Most reports have Freeney missing 2-3 weeks with the injury, though Freeney still says he wants to play this weekend. Without Freeney, opponents can focus on DE Raheem Brock, who has the speed to beat a single blocker but not the bulk to overcome consistent double-teaming. Freeney’s injury puts a big damper on the Colts’ pass rush and may force them to take more chances blitzing that could open the door to more big plays. This injury will test the Colts’ defensive depth and show us how good the unit really is.

6 – DT Peria Jerry, Falcons (left knee, IR) – The Falcons were counting on Jerry, their first-round pick, to bring a disruptive presence inside that they simply didn’t have last year. But Jerry hurt his left knee in the second game and is gone for the year. For a team with 6 new defensive starters, losing a potentially premium player really hurts. Jerry was far from a polished project, but he was a starter, and he’ll be hard for Atlanta to replace.

5 – NT Vince Wilfork, Patriots (ankle, out indefinitely) – It’s never easy to get injury info out of New England, and so estimates on how long the ankle injury he suffered in Week 3 will keep him out are very rough. The only word thus far is that the injury is not serious, i.e. season-threatening. If Wilfork misses time, it will weaken a defense that is in flux and still trying to make up for the absence of field-sweeping MLB Jerod Mayo. Wilfork is perhaps the most important player on the defense, and his replacement, rookie Ron Brace, is unproven though he has potential. Missing Wilfork for multiple weeks would make life very hard on Bill Belichick and the Pats’ coaching staff, and that would mean Wilfork would quickly move up this comparison.

4 – DE Reggie Hayward, Jaguars (broken left leg, IR) – Hayward, who was once a big sack guy, has been more of a rotation player in recent years in Jacksonville. Still, he provided a little pass-rushing juice in limited action until he suffered his second season-ending injury in the last four years. That’s a blow to a Jaguars team that still hasn’t seen high 2008 draft picks Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves emerge at D-end yet.

4 (con’t) – DT Adam Carriker, Rams (shoulder, IR) – Carriker, a former first-round pick, had a good first year in St. Louis but a so-so second year. But the Rams, who have suffered as many line busts early in the NFL draft as anyone, needed Carriker to step forward as a top player on their defense. Instead, he landed on IR, and it has hurt the Rams’ cause. Carriker will need to recover and prove that he can be a building block, or the Rams’ new regime may cut bait.

4 (con’t) – DE Jared DeVries, Lions (ruptured Achilles, IR) – DeVries isn’t a great player, but he always gave great effort, and he was a decent place-holder against the run. He likely fit in as a backup this year for the Lions, and his motor and veteran presence would have helped a rebuilding team. But he ruptured his Achilles during training camp, which cost him his season. This is a blow on the field but even more in the locker room and on the practice field for the Lions.

4 (con’t) – DT Jay Alford, Giants (torn ACL, IR) – Alford was a fourth tackle in the Giants’ stacked rotation, but he made his share of plays given limited opportunities. He was also the team’s long-snapper. His preseason injury was a blow, but the Giants’ depth was able to keep the team strong even in Alford’s absence.

3 – DT Justin Harrell, Packers (back, IR) – Harrell, a former first-round pick, has never panned out, and now he has a chronic back injury that is costing him the ’09 season. It’s looking more and more like the Packers aren’t going to get a return for their investment in Harrell.

3 (con’t) – DT Louis Leonard, Panthers (ankle, IR) – The Panthers traded for Leonard after Kemeoatu’s injury to try to fill the massive void, and Leonard started the first two games in Carolina. But then he suffered an ankle injury that costs him the rest of the season as well. This is another huge blow to Carolina’s interior line depth.

3 (con’t) – DT Rob Meier, Jaguars (shoulder, IR) – Meier, who has played for the Jaguars since entering the league in 2000, is a rotation DT who is solid against the run and occasionally gets to the quarterback as well. But his preseason shoulder injury ended his season, which hurts Jacksonville’s DL depth.

2 – DT Dusty Dvoracek, Bears (torn right ACL, IR) – Few NFL players have had as bad a time with injuries as Dvoracek, who has actually seen his last four seasons ended prematurely by injury. The former third-round pick missed the entire ’06 season, was hurt in game 1 in ’07, sat out four games last season and now will miss all of ’09. The Bears have already cut the cord with Dvoracek, who once had ability but may just be too banged up to show it anymore.

2 (con’t) – DT Corvey Irvin, Panthers (knee, IR) – Irvin, the Panthers’ third-round pick, would have undoubtedly seen a lot of playing time, at defensive tackle given how many injuries the Panthers have suffered inside, but he too is out for the year. As you read down this list, you start to realize at least part of the reason the Panthers can no longer stop the run.

2 (con’t) – DE Henry Melton, Bears (ankle, IR) – Melton, a fourth-round draft pick this year out of Texas, suffered an ankle injury that will cost him his rookie season. Getting some playing time this year would have helped him, because the Bears may need him to help replace potential free agents Adewale Ogunleye and Mark Anderson in 2010. This injury may be more significant in that fact than in on-field impact this year.

1 – DE Stanley McClover, Texans (left knee, IR) – McClover suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason, marking the second straight season he’ll miss at least 15 games with a left knee injury. You have to wonder whether the former Panthers draft pick will be able to rebound from this series of left knee problems.

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Filed under Football Relativity, NFL Injuries

Crazy Kicker of Week 3

Our last crazy kicker of the week award went to Hunter the Punter Smith, who ran for a touchdown on a fake field-goal attempt for which he was the holder. This award goes to another punter turned holder, Buffalo’s Brian Moorman, who was responsible for the Bills’ lone touchdown in a 27-7 loss to the Saints with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Denney, who is usually a defensive end. You can watch the play here.

It was Moorman’s seventh career pass, third career completion, and second career TD. He has now thrown touchdown passes two years in a row. Last year, he threw a 19-yard score to Denney in Week 1. So Moorman to Denney is a solid September connection. And Moorman now has a 117.9 career passer rating thanks to his solid TD percentage.

Crazy Kickers of the Week
Preseason Week 0/1 – P A.J. Trapasso, Titans
Preseason Week 2 – WR/PK Chad Ochocinco, Bengals
Week 1 – P/holder Hunter Smith, Redskins
Week 3 – P/holder Brian Moorman, Bills

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FR: Week Three

Here is our Football Relativity comparison after Week Three. We’ve noted where we’ve moved teams up a level or down a level from the Week Two comparison.

10 – New York Giants – The Giants, even without DLs Justin Tuck and Chris Canty, put together an ultrasolid performance and dominated the Buccaneers in a 24-0 road win. Right now, this is the best team in the league, and because of their pedigree we can project them to continue playing at this level going forward.

9 – Baltimore Ravens (UP A LEVEL), New England Patriots – The Ravens are the trendy pick for the No. 1 team in the league, and they’re good. But they’ve also beat up on two awful teams – Cleveland and Kansas City – in their impressive first three games. They’ve been tested once, and they delivered at San Diego, but we want to see another test before we move them up to the 10 level. Still, Joe Flacco is taking a monster step forward, and that combined with the always-sterling defense Baltimore has makes the Ravens a scary team. We talked about how the hand-wringing about the Patriots is premature in Rise/Sink/Float this week. But with Vince Wilfork hurt in addition to Jerod Mayo, the Pats are now playing without their two best defenders. Their championship mettle will be tested as they try to survive this period, but so far the defense really has answered the call and kept opposing teams off the scoreboard.

8 – Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts (UP A LEVEL), Minnesota Vikings (UP A LEVEL), New Orleans Saints (UP A LEVEL), New York Jets (UP TWO LEVELS), Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers (DOWN A LEVEL) – Below the elite level, there’s a crowd of teams that are trying to establish themselves as true contenders. Minnesota beat its first quality opponent this week and will have another test at home against Green Bay next week. The Saints and Jets face off next week too in a game that will reveal the true colors of both teams. New Orleans has a win at Philadelphia, while the Jets have home wins against the Pats and Titans, so each team is starting to build street cred that would explode with a win next week. The Falcons lost a tough game in New England, and we won’t penalize for them unless it starts a streak. The Colts had their first blowout win of the season at Arizona, and for the first time looked like a team that could be a threat for bigger things than a winning record. The Eagles survived Donovan McNabb’s absence and established Kevin Kolb as a reliable backup, both of which are good things. The Steelers fell to 1-2 with road losses to two up-and-coming teams in Chicago and Cincinnati. It’ll be interesting to see if the Steelers can bounce back from those losses, but they need to do so quickly, or else Baltimore will run away with the division.

7 – Chicago Bears (UP A LEVEL), Green Bay Packers, San Diego Chargers – The Bears survived a trip to Seattle, one of the toughest settings in the NFL, and got another fourth-quarter comeback win. The Packers whipped the Rams to right the ship after losing to Cincinnati the week before. Both teams are still legitimate contenders to knock the Vikings out of the NFC North lead. The Chargers put together a solid win over the Dolphins at home, and they still look to be the best team in the AFC West, even if the Broncos have a better record this week.

6 – Cincinnati Bengals (UP A LEVEL), Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans (DOWN TWO LEVELS) – The Bengals won a statement game against the Steelers to demonstrate that they are true playoff contenders this year. This is a team with an emerging defense and a lot of good pieces on offense. Dallas didn’t look great in beating Carolina, but the Cowboys got the job done to stay in the NFC playoff hunt. San Francisco suffered a heart-wrenching loss to the Vikings, but the 49ers proved just how good of a team they are, and we believe that Mike Singletary can get his team to avoid a hangover to this loss. The Titans lost another close game, and they need to get a win ASAP if they have any playoff aspirations. This is still a talented team, and it’s not in meltdown in quite the same way the Panthers are, but Jeff Fisher’s Blue Crew can’t afford any more missteps.

5 – Arizona Cardinals (DOWN A LEVEL), Denver Broncos (UP A LEVEL), Miami Dolphins (DOWN A LEVEL), Seattle Seahawks – The Cardinals melted down in the second quarter against Indy, and now you have to wonder where they go from here. They’re going to need to rally in a big way and do so on the road to be contenders with San Francisco in the NFC West. Seattle is playing hard enough to contend in that division, but injuries have taken away too many premium contributors for them to be realistic threats. Denver beat a bad team handily for the second week in a row, but we still don’t know whether this is a truly good team or just a good schedule for a team. Miami lost another tough game, and now with Chad Pennington out for the year the playoffs seems like the longest of shots.

4 – Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers (DOWN A LEVEL), Houston Texans (DOWN A LEVEL), Jacksonville Jaguars – The Bills continue to compete well, but they don’t have enough horses on the offensive line to move the ball consistently, and now their secondary is falling apart due to injury. The Panthers have stars but aren’t playing well together, and at this point they are what their record says they are. The Texans lost a must-win game against the Jaguars, and it makes their climb to try to surpass .500 for the first time in franchise history much more improbable. The Jaguars, who looked like their season was slipping away, got a win that at least keeps them in the conversation. Getting that kind of effort on the road shows that Jack Del Rio still holds some sway in the locker room.

3 – Washington Redskins (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Redskins played OK the first week against the Giants, played poorly but beat the Rams in Week 2, and then lost at Detroit in Week Three. The Redskins have better talent than at least 8 teams in the league, but they simply don’t get enough out of their talent. Jim Zorn needs to change that trend, or he’s going to be job-hunting by February if not sooner.

2 – Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders – The Lions finally broke their losing streak beating a stumbling Redskins team. The Lions are playing hard, but their talent level is wanting, especially defensively. The Chiefs got run out of their own stadium by the Eagles, while the Raiders stunk up the Black Hole in getting thumped by the Broncos. We’ve at least seen signs of life from these teams, but they need to continue at least competing to stay out of the cellar in this comparison.

1 – Cleveland Browns (DOWN A LEVEL), St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – These are three truly awful teams. The Browns changed quarterbacks, and Derek Anderson responded to his chance by tossing three second-half interceptions. The Buccaneers are changing quarterbacks to Josh Johnson, who is merely a placeholder until Josh Freeman is ready to start his on-field development. And the Rams changed quarterbacks because Marc Bulger (surprise!) got hurt – again. All three teams also got ransacked this week. Right now, all three teams are flatlining. We’ll see which first-year coach can restore a pulse for his team first.


Filed under Football Relativity

Fantasy Football Applaud or a Fraud – Week 3

Each week, we dive into the stat sheets to see which weekly performers fantasy owners should applaud and which fantasy owners should write off as frauds. We’ve also included some key injury replacements in this post. You can read past applaud or a fraud analyses in the category listing. And if we’re changing a past recommendation, we’ll include it here as well. On we go…


Derek Anderson, Browns – You might have seen that Anderson replaced Brady Quinn via coach’s decision against the Ravens. We want to make sure you also see Anderson’s numbers – 92 yards passing, no touchdowns, three interceptions. At this point, keep each and every Brown as far away from your lineup as you can. Verdict: A fraud

Kyle Boller, Rams – I’ve always had a soft spot for Boller, who seemed to play well every time I saw him in a Ravens uniform. He stepped in for an injured Marc Bulger vs. the Packers and threw for 164 yards and two touchdowns, which aren’t bad numbers. It’s hard to picture a scenario in which Boller is worth starting in your fantasy league, but if Bulger’s shoulder injury is significant, Boller might merit backup-QB consideration in larger leagues (12 teams minimum). Otherwise, just ignore this new starter. Verdict: A fraud

Jason Campbell, Redskins – Campbell had a prototypical garbage-time line against the Lions, throwing for 340 yards and two touchdowns in a failed effort to bring the Redskins back against the Lions. It would be foolish to buy these numbers as something Campbell can do regularly, and that makes this an easy call. Verdict: A fraud

Chad Henne, Dolphins – Henne took over when Chad Pennington had to leave the game with an injury to his throwing shoulder. Now Pennington is out for the year, and that means that Henne isn’t a terrible backup option. He completed 10-of-19 passes for 92 yards with one pick and one sack. Henne won’t put up Kevin Kolb-ish fill-in numbers, but he’s a safe bet to throw for 175 yards or more, probably with a touchdown. So Henne is one of the better options among the fill-in quarterbacks. This is very mild applause, but still… Verdict: Applaud

Josh Johnson, Buccaneers – Johnson took over for Byron Leftwich during the Bucs’ abysmal offensive performance vs. the Giants, and Monday he was named the starter going forward. While Johnson isn’t as slow moving or throwing the ball as Leftwich is, he’s not a long-term answer because first-rounder Josh Freeman is lurking. So note this change – especially if you bought Leftwich’s OK fantasy numbers in blowouts the first two weeks of the season. Then walk away quietly. Verdict: A fraud

Seneca Wallace, Seahawks – Matt Hasselbeck tried to play against the Bears this week, but in the end he couldn’t go with a broken rib. So Seneca Wallace took his place and threw for 261 yards and a touchdown. Wallace started eight games last year and threw for 11 TDs and 1,500 yards, so he can be productive. If he plays next week against the Colts – which is not a sure thing, given how close Hasselbeck was to playing Sunday – Wallace has fantasy value, if for no other reason than the fact that the Seahawks will likely find themselves behind on the scoreboard. Verdict: Applaud

Running backs

Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants – Bradshaw, the Giants’ change-of-pace to bruiser Brandon Jacobs, had a big game against the Buccaneers with 104 yards on 14 carries. We’ll use his century mark to remind you that Bradshaw is a flex option in most yardage leagues most weeks, unless the Giants are playing a big-time defense. He’s a nice guy to have as an option. Verdict: Applaud

Glen Coffee, 49ers – Coffee, a rookie out of Alabama, really hasn’t gotten untracked yet this season, and he averaged less than 3 yards per carry in his 54-yard day taking over for Frank Gore against the Vikings. But with Gore likely to miss two games or more, Coffee is a legitimate starting running back who’s worth a pickup in your league and maybe even a start against the Rams next week depending on your other options. In fact, both his Week 4 matchup against the Rams and his Week 5 game against the Falcons are favorable. Grab Coffee if he’s available, and don’t rule him out of your lineup without some consideration this week. Verdict: Applaud

Jerome Harrison, Browns – With Jamal Lewis inactive, the Browns turned to Harrison instead of rookie James Davis to carry the load. Harrison did post 52 yards, but it took him 16 carries to do so. Our suggestion that you avoid any and all Browns definitely applies here. Verdict: A fraud

Julius Jones, Seahawks – Jones is one of the most overlooked starting running backs in the league, but he has been productive thus far this season. He had 98 rushing yards plus a 39-yard receiving TD this week against Chicago, which makes him worthy of starting in most fantasy leagues. He’s still more of a flex option than a top-2 running back for most teams, but he’s an OK fantasy option. Don’t overlook him completely. Verdict: Applaud

John Kuhn, Packers – A West Coast offense fullback is always a threat to vulture a touchdown away, and Kuhn did it twice this week against St. Louis. (If you had Kuhn and St. Louis’ Daniel Fells as the two-TD producers in that game, you are much better at fantasy football than I am.) Kuhn actually scored five TDs last year, and he will likely approach that number this year. But if he doesn’t score a TD, he has no fantasy value, so we can’t recommend him as a fantasy option, despite his nose for the end zone. Verdict: A fraud

LeSean McCoy, Eagles – The rookie from Pittsburgh got a clear shot at starting for Philly this week with Brian Westbrook inactive, and McCoy responded with 84 yards and a touchdown. When Westbrook is inactive, McCoy is a starting option in all fantasy leagues. But if Westbrook does what he’s done in the past and plays most weeks despite being listed as questionable, McCoy will be a more difficult guy to turn to. Still, McCoy is a necessary insurance policy for Westbrook owners, and he has some fantasy value on his own given Westbrook’s tendency to get dinged. Verdict: Applaud

Wide receivers

Bryant Johnson, Lions – Johnson is kind of a boom or bust player so far this year. He had four catches in the opener, none in Week 2, and then four catches for 73 yards and a score against the Redskins this week. Johnson is a good but not great receiver who has never had fewer than 39 catches in a season over his seven-year career, so we can expect him to put up some numbers. But with the mass of receivers the Lions have to support Calvin Johnson, Bryant will have to beat out Dennis Northcutt to be the No. 2 target. In the end, we expect that mantle to be passed back and forth, which will make it hard to start Bryant Johnson on any particular week. This is a close call, but there are better bench guys for your team. Verdict: A fraud

Pierre Garcon, Colts – Garcon, more than rookie Austin Collie, has stepped up and produced with Anthony Gonzalez injured. He has scored two weeks in a row now, and this week he was a consistent offensive threat with three catches for 64 yards. While Gonzalez is out – which is for several more weeks – Garcon is definitely ownable and even startable if you’re in a bye week pinch. Verdict: Applaud

Santana Moss, Redskins – After two disappointing games to start the season, Moss broke out with a huge game (10 catches for 178 yards and a score) against the Lions. But this production was due to the Redskins’ attempt at a late-game rally. Moss is ownable in most leagues and is a top-35 receiver, but it’s going to be hard to start him most weeks unless you’re missing other options due to bye weeks or injuries. Verdict: A fraud

Greg Lewis, Vikings – You’ll see Lewis all over the TV this week after his game-winning catch against the Vikings. But don’t get carried away and claim him. That 32-yard touchdown was Lewis’ only TD of the game, and he was only in the game because (according to Peter King) Percy Harvin had run seven straight go patterns and needed a breather. Harvin, Sidney Rice, and Bernard Berrian are still above Lewis on the Vikings’ receiver depth chart. Great catch, but Lewis has no fantasy value right now. Verdict: A fraud

Mike Wallace, Steelers – There isn’t a rookie receiver who’s having a better year than Wallace, a third-round pick who has emerged ahead of Limas Sweed as Pittsburgh’s No. 3 receiver. Wallace had a big game against the Bengals with seven catches for 102 yards, and he seems to be stepping into the role Nate Washington had with the team last year. Washington averaged 34 catches for 535 yards and four TDs the past three years with Pittsburgh, and those are reasonable targets for Wallace this year. That makes Wallace a top-50 fantasy receiver who’s worth having on your bench, especially as bye weeks force you to look deeper for roster help. Verdict: Applaud

Kevin Walter, Texans – Walter missed the first two games of the season with a hamstring injury, which may have causd some owners to forget about him or even to waive him. But in his first game back, Walter reminded everyone of his important role in a potent Texans’ offense with seven catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. He’s a starting-caliber receiver in all fantasy leagues now that he’s back on the field. Verdict: Applaud

Kelley Washington, Ravens – Washington, who showed some potential as a receiver with the Bengals five years ago, had become a special-teams specialist in recent years, but he’s getting the chance to catch the ball with Baltimore this year and making the most of it. He has at least three catches for at least 43 yards in each game this season, including a five-catch, 66-yard performance this week against Cleveland. He also has one touchdown. As Joe Flacco grows as a passer, he’s going to need to find depth at wide receiver, and Washington is providing it. Washington is still way under the radar, but he’s worth a pickup in deep leagues (12 teams or more) and worth watching in other leagues right now. Verdict: Applaud

Tight ends

Vernon Davis, 49ers – Davis, who was once a top-10 pick in the NFL draft, finally seems to be getting it under new 49ers head coach Mike Singletary. He also has a good connection with QB Shaun Hill. The results Sunday were a huge game – seven catches for 96 yards with two TDs. This might be the year that Davis finally emerges as a big-time receiving threat at tight end. At the least, he’s a top-12 fantasy tight end going forward. If he’s on the waiver wire in your league, he shouldn’t be after this week. Grab him as a bye-week fill-in or even as a starter if your TE option isn’t great. Verdict: Applaud

Daniel Fells, Rams – Honesty time: I had never heard of Fells before his name popped up in the box score this week. Turns out, he’s an H-back who has been in the league for three years and has 10 career catches. Both of his TDs this week against Green Bay came on the same play call, and you have to believe that won’t happen again. Good for Fells for scoring twice, but it ain’t gonna happen again. Verdict: A fraud


Olindo Mare, Seahawks – We don’t normally list kickers here, but we wanted to note that Mare missed 43- and 34-yard tries against the Bears this week and was called out publicly by coach Jim Mora. It would not be a shock if Mare were cut this week and replaced by Brandon Coutu, who has been with Seattle the last two preseasons, or another free agent. Verdict: A fraud


Filed under Applaud/A Fraud, Fantasy Football, Football Relativity

Rise/Sink/Float Week 3

Each Monday, we’ll look at 3 teams that are rising, sinking, and floating in our Football Relativity comparison. We’ll update the full comparison tomorrow.

Rise – New York Jets – The Jets are the trendy team to back, but they are backing up the hype on the field. They won a hard-fought game against a Tennessee team that’s just as physical as they are. That gives them two quality wins in back-to-back weeks at home. I still don’t know if the Jets are one of the top 5 teams in the league, but they are a top-10 team for sure, and they move up the comparison as a result. By the way, you can read more specific thoughts about the Jets’ win over Tennessee in this post.

Sink – Cleveland Browns – St. Louis is a bad team, and so is Tampa Bay, but the Browns are putting forth an argument to be the worst team in the league right now. Switching QBs from Brady Quinn to Derek Anderson didn’t help at all in a 34-3 stinker against the Ravens. Plus, Eric Mangini’s players are now officially revolting. This is a bad situation that’s getting worse by the minute.

Float – New England Patriots – Many people jumped off the Patriots’ bandwagon after their Week 2 loss to the Jets, but we left the Pats as one of the top 3 teams in the league. That paid off this week, as New England got a solid if unspectacular win against the Falcons at home. New England isn’t a perfect team, and the defense’s youth movement will take time to gel. But as they work through defensive changes and survive the absence of Wes Welker due to injury, the Pats are doing just fine, thank you. They will be around at the end of the year.


Filed under Football Relativity, NFL games, Rise/Sink/Float

The Brett Favre moment

Quick – name the most memorable moment from Brett Favre’s year with the Jets.

The truth is that there wasn’t one. We might recall Favre throwing beaucoup touchdowns against Arizona, or maybe walking off the Foxboro field in victory, or perhaps kneeling in the victory formation against Tennessee. But there was never a single moment that will be seen on highlight films forevermore.

But while we didn’t get the Brett Favre moment while he was wearing a Jets uniform, we already have one of him in Vikings purple. Favre’s game-winning TD pass to Greg Lewis in the waning seconds of the game against San Francisco Sunday is an all-time highlight. It is the one picture that we’ll see on Favre’s highlight reel that is otherwise tinted Green Bay and gold.

I was not in favor of the Vikings’ signing of Favre. I thought it was a foolhardy risk for the Vikings to stake their season and for Vikings coaches to stake their jobs on an inconsistent, perhaps injured, and certainly aging quarterback. I thought that Favre’s selfish will-he-or-won’t-he act would wear on the locker room, and I thought that Favre’s ability on the field was no longer far enough above Tarvaris Jackson’s to merit the carousel full of baggage that Favre would bring to the Metrodome.

But Sunday, Favre was worth it. He created a moment that Jackson could not have. By staying alive in a pocket and taking an unmitigated risk to throw into an infinitesimal window, Favre gave Lewis a chance to make a play – and Lewis did.

The Vikings won a game they would have lost. Favre was the hero in the way few quarterbacks in NFL history could be. This win, this one, belongs to Favre.

In the win column, Favre now can take credit for one. This one.

Will this one put the Vikings ahead of the Bears and Packers in the NFC North come January? Or will this one be the only victory we can credit to Favre while wearing purple?

We can’t yet answer these questions. But we can say this:

Brett Favre made a moment in Minnesota.

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Filed under Football Relativity, NFL games

Titans/Jets thoughts

A few thoughts on the Week Three game between the Tennessee Titans and the New York Jets, both from an on-field perspective and a fantasy football perspective. The Jets won 24-17 at the Meadowlands.

*The Jets’ defense has at least four premium, blue-chip players in CB Darrelle Revis, LBs Bart Scott and David Harris, and NT Kris Jenkins. Harris was the biggest impact guy late in this game with a fourth-quarter interception and a sack. Rex Ryan’s approach and scheme makes a big difference, but he has a lot of horses who can make his defense shine.
*Mark Sanchez makes his share of rookie mistakes, but he doesn’t self-distruct to the point that his team can’t overcome it. Sanchez had two turnovers in the game, but he also moved the ball well and threw two TDs and ran for another score.
*This is the most electric I’ve seen Jerricho Cotchery play. He seemed to have quality speed into and out of his breaks and he made some big plays en route to a 108-yard game. I still wouldn’t label Cotchery a legitimate No. 1, go-to receiver, but he’s a quality starter and by far the best guy the Jets have.
*The Titans have all the pieces, so what’s missing that’s led them to an 0-3 start? Chris Johnson is an elite running back, and LenDale White is a good compliment. The offensive line did a pretty good job too opening holes for Johnson and protecting QB Kerry Collins (just two sacks allowed). The biggest problem on offense is the receiving corps, which isn’t dependable catching the job. The Titans really missed intermediate threat Bo Scaife in this game.
*Defensively, the Titans have good players but not much impact. The secondary is also susceptible to intermediate-level plays, which is what drives are built on.  That doesn’t make sense, because safeties Chris Hope and Michael Griffin are both good players, as is CB Cortland Finnegan, but the combination in the secondary isn’t working right now.
*I love Jeff Fisher as a coach, but I don’t know what he can do to get his team out of this 0-3 hole. The intangible that’s missing won’t be easy to recover, and so it’ll be interesting to see if Tennessee can find a way to dig out of this significant hole.
*The Jets, meanwhile, are off to a solid start and are starting to establish themselves as one of the better teams in the league. But they must avoid the specter of their ’08 second-half collapse before we become full believers.

Fantasy Football thoughts
*I have Thomas Jones in two fantasy leagues, and I’m officially worried. After a top-notch game in Week 1 against Houston, Jones has struggled in the two succeeding weeks. This was a tough matchup, but Jones didn’t look very good. In one league, I backed Jones up with Leon Washington, but I’m having a hard time justifying either of them as starters right now. Watch the matchups, but you need to be willing to bench Jones right now if the matchup looks unfavorable.
*Cotchery is a top-30 wideout. Before the season, he was in the 30s in my rankings, but with the success that Sanchez has had and Cotchery’s role in the offense, he has upgraded. He’s still not an every-week starter, but most weeks he’ll be a good option.
*Chris Johnson is for real. Putting up 97 yards rushing against this defense shows just how effective Johnson can be. He’s always a threat to bust a long run, and that makes him extremely valuable in yardage leagues. LenDale White will still take away some TD chances, but Johnson is a secure top-10 back in most leagues. White, meanwhile, did in this game what he does usually. He’ll score a touchdown about every other week and be a solid flex play, but he’s not starting caliber unless Johnson goes out.
*None of the Titans’ receivers is a great fantasy option right now. Justin Gage is the best receiver they have, but Nate Washington is starting to take away some chances, and Kenny Britt is beginning to emerge as well. All three are pretty equal as threats, which means you can’t count on one to get the lion’s share of the targets in any particular game. These guys are all decent depth for fantasy teams, but none is a great starting option unless you’re stuck in a bye-week or injury pickle.

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