Daily Archives: November 22, 2010

A Chilly feeling in Minnesota

Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress sh...

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The Minnesota Vikings finally pulled the plug on embattled head coach Brad Childress on Monday, firing him after the Vikes fell to 3-7 in an embarrasing 31-3 home loss to the Packers. Childress got the Vikings to the playoffs in two of his four years, but his tenure will be most remembered for the pursuit of Brett Favre that led to the NFC championship game in one year but to total disaster the next year.

Childress was an autocratic coach. That works in many places, but Childress’ shortcoming was that he made no attempt to connect with the players. He was so concerned that they knew he was the boss that his players had little loyalty to him. In good times, that wasn’t a big deal, because players want to win. And because Childress built the Vikings from six to eight to 10 to 12 wins in his first four seasons, his harsh personality never scuttled his authority. But when things collapsed this year, the players had no incentive to play hard for Childress. In fact, they may have had a disincentive, because getting Childress out of town makes the final six weeks of the season more palatable.

In the end, Childress undercut his own autocratic coaching style with his Favre chase. Favre got a blank check from the Vikings, and this year, as Favre’s play has declined, Childress’ criticisms of Favre seem hollow and petty. That only served to highlight Childress’ issues in the locker room. Favre has a huge ego, but he gets along with his teammates, and so it’s not a surprise that his issues with the coach prodded even more players out of the coach’s corner.

Interim head coach Leslie Frazier has been one of the league’s hot head-coaching prospects for a couple of years now, and that may be another reason the Vikings pulled the plug. By making a change now, the Vikings get a look at Frazier, and they may be able to lock him up as a head coach before the end of the season. That would be a good thing, because Frazier is as respected as an assistant coach can be. We believe he’s the right man to coach the Vikings not just down the stretch but in 2011 as well.

As for Childress, he once said that he believed he would get but one chance to be a head coach. He’ll probably be right. He’s not a bad coach, but people skills are important for a head coach. Childress chose to do things his way, which is great in theory. But his way proved to be fatal to his career because he showed such a disregard for morale. At least he has a multimillion-dollar golden parachute that his Favre dalliance got him last year.

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Fantasy Football Applaud or a Fraud Week 11

Each week, we sort through the box scores to determine what fantasy football performances we should applaud, and which are merely frauds. As always, we’ll give more details about what each verdict means as we break it down.

Quarterbacks

Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks – Hasselbeck threw for 366 yards against the Saints, but those numbers were inflated by the fact that Seattle was trying to come back from a big deficit. Don’t buy him as a top-15 fantasy quarterback, because he can’t live up to that status. Verdict: A fraud

Jon Kitna, Cowboys – Kitna had his second consecutive three-TD game, and even though he didn’t throw for that many yards, he showed he can be a fantasy factor. He’s not a top-10 quarterback, but if you need an emergency starter, Kitna’s a great option. Verdict: Applaud

Running backs

Cedric Benson, Bengals – Benson had been a disappointment most of the year, averaging just 62 rushing yards a game with only one game over 81 rushing yards until Sunday. Despite the fact that the Bengals are awful, maybe Benson’s 125-yard performance against the Bills is a sign of things to come. Unfortunately, we can’t recommend betting on it enough to put Benson back in your starting lineup. Verdict: A fraud

Mike Goodson, Panthers – Goodson had his second straight 100-yard rushing game for the Panthers, and now that DeAngelo Williams is officially out for the season, Goodson becomes a nice sleeper play in fantasy leagues. He should be a flex consideration next week. Verdict: Applaud

BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, Patriots – Both Green-Ellis and Woodhead scored touchdowns against the Colts, and both are becoming nice fantasy contributors. Green-Ellis now has seven rushing touchdowns on the year, and in the five games where he’s had at least 16 catches, he’s piled up at least 80 rushing yards. He’s a solid bet as a weekly starter. Woodhead broke free for a 36-yard touchdown and had 90 yards from scrimmage. It’s the third time that Woodhead has had at least 90 yards, which makes him a decent flex play in leagues with 12 teams or more. Verdict: Applaud on both

Wide receivers

Steve Breaston, Cardinals – It’s been lost in Arizona’s horrific season, but Breaston has been a solid contributor for fantasy teams when he’s been healthy. Sunday’s 92-yard performance was his third 90-plus-yard game in the last four. If you’re looking for a sneaky starter, check out Breaston. Verdict: Applaud

Nate Burleson, Lions – Burleson had seven catches for 97 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys, marking his second good game out of three. If you’re looking for a Hail Mary type of receiver to put in your lineup, Burleson’s not a bad guy to give a shot to right now. Verdict: Applaud

Santonio Holmes, Jets – Holmes has returned as an elite fantasy receiver, and his 126-yard, two-touchdown game against the Texans – which featured his second game-winning touchdown in as many weeks – cemented that fact. Holmes could be a top-10 receiver down the stretch. Verdict: Applaud

Donald Jones, Bills – Steve Johnson was the offensive star for the Bills with three TD catches, but Jones, a rookie out of Youngstown State who had just two catches in the first 10 games of the season, delivered five catches for 70 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals. In a shootout, Jones’ numbers were inflated, and we don’t see this as a trend to follow. But at least now we know Jones’ name. Verdict: A fraud

Robert Meachem, Saints – Meachem has had a disappointing season, and so this week’s two-touchdown game against the Seahawks was too little, too late. Meachem has great talent, but the Saints have too many options for Meachem to thrive numbers-wise. Verdict: A fraud

Ben Obamanu, Seahawks – Obamanu had five catches for 87 yards and a touchdown against the Saints, but it’s important to remember that he was still behind Mike Williams in the pecking order this week. Obamanu has some talent, but he’s a fourth receiver for Seattle, and that means he’s not worth a roster spot on your team. Verdict: A fraud

Sidney Rice, Vikings – In his return to the field, Rice piled up three catches for 56 yards. That’s a decent debut, and it means that Rice is already a flex-caliber play for fantasy owners. Depending on how the Vikings’ QB situation plays out, Rice has even more upside than that, but regardless it’s time to find room for him in your lineup. Verdict: Applaud

Nate Washington, Titans – In a game where Randy Moss went without a catch, Washington had five grabs for 117 yards. But given the fact that both Kerry Collins and Vince Young are fighting injuries, we can’t recommend any Titans receiver right now. Verdict: A fraud

Blair White, Colts – After Austin Collie went out with another concussion, White made two terrific touchdown catches in Indy’s failed fourth-quarter comeback. White isn’t a special player, but he’s good enough to make plays in the slot if Collie is out for a while. Depending on Collie’s status, White could be worth a claim in leagues of 14 teams or more. Verdict: Applaud

Tight ends

Chris Cooley, Redskins – Cooley, a former fantasy stalwart, had his best game of the season with seven catches for 91 yards. But that doesn’t mean Cooley is back to being a superstar fantasy tight end. The Redskins’ offense hasn’t put up a ton of points this season, and without touchdowns Cooley has little upside to really help your fantasy scoresheet. Verdict: A fraud

Michael Hoomanawanui, Rams – The Rams’ rookie tight end has shown flashes of potential for much of the year, but this week’s game against the Falcons was his best performance. It’s reasonable to think he can compile four catches for 46 yards on many weeks, but he’s not yet ready to be a fantasy contributor. Verdict: A fraud

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