East Coast Offense
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
Glad I Lost by More than Two
This past weekend, I squared off against Yahoo! Sports' own Brandon Funston in the Fantasy Sports Trade Association League semi-finals. The league goes pretty deep - 2 RBs, 3 WR and a flex, and heading into the weekend, I had a tough choice between a banged-up Travis Henry, a banged-up Jerious Norwood and an underused DeAngelo Williams with a tough matchup. Also, Norwood was going in the Saturday game, so I had to decide about him before knowing Henry's pregame status. On Friday, Norwood practiced for the second straight day, while Henry was limited. I moved Norwood into the lineup with Warrick Dunn questionable for the game, figuring that (a) Norwood had home-run potential (and I needed that, considering Funston had LaDainian Tomlinson), and (b) I could always check RotoWire before Saturday's game and deactivate Norwood in the unlikely event he was scratched.
On Friday night, my apartment building had a Christmas Party which had decent food and free beer. I took a break from working to go there, and wound up staying up late. On Saturday morning, I woke up early to play basketball, then went to an upscale pizza restaurant called Mozza in Hollywood for lunch (I'll give it another try because everyone seems to love it, but it was disappointing - the crust was too burnt, and the burnt-ness drowned out the flavor. Plus, they said it would have chilies on it, but it was about three flecks of garden-variety red pepper seeds you get at any pizza place. I thought I was getting real chili peppers). They also brought me the wrong bruschetta appetizer, which I ate, realized their mistake, then brought me the correct one which I also ate. I also ate the pizza I ordered in its entirety. By the time I got home in the early afternoon pacific time, I was stuffed and exhausted, but I had to finish sending out the rest of my share of the RotoWire holiday cards. I forged ahead, writing, addressing and stamping the cards, and in my overly zoned-in state, I totally forgot about the start of the game. At around 6:15 PT, I realized it, turned on the TV, checked the internet, and then I saw it: Norwood (strained knee) is inactive for Saturday night's game against Dallas.
Now, I was beside myself. Funston had for God knows what reason started the Seattle defense on Thursday, and they had gotten him zero points. Julius Jones wasn't doing much for him, either. I started Martin Gramatica who scored nine. I had a chance to take down the LT-owner, and I blew it by spacing out the deadline to sit Norwood. With Travis Henry uncertain, I decided I would have definitely started DeAngelo Williams in Norwood's place. So on Sunday, I continually checked Williams' progress, hoping he did very little, thereby decreasing the chance that the move on Saturday would be the difference between winning and losing. Luckily Williams didn't do much against Pittsburgh, though I had a panic attack a couple times when D. Williams, 2 rec. 100 yds, TD, flashed on the ticker until I reminded myself (twice!) that it was Demetrius Williams of the Ravens, not DeAngelo. In the end, Williams got 2.3 points in our league. Heading into Sunday night, I was up about 35, and Funston had LT and Joseph Addai left to play. I figured I'd probably lose, but I just wanted to make sure I lost by more than 2.3, the difference between Norwood and Williams. (Incidentally, Henry had 3.7 against the Jaguars, but I would have gone Williams).
After LT's huge touchdown Sunday night, his second of the game, I figured I was done, but when I checked the score, I was still up a fraction of a point heading into Monday night. Addai had a minor foot injury - maybe he'd be scratched. It turns out Addai did get hurt, but thankfully not until he scored seven or eight points, making all my agonizing moot.
Good luck in the finals, Brandon.
Around the League
Let's get caught up quickly on the major developments of the last few days:
This is significant for a number of reasons, but from a fantasy perspective, it means that there's no reason to push Thomas Jones (ankle, strained side) during the last two games. As a result, Cedric Benson could see a heavy load at Detroit and vs. Green Bay the last two weeks, making him a nice option in the finals in deeper leagues. Incidentally, the Bears had seven Pro Bowlers, but three of them (Devin Hester, Brendon Ayanbadeho and Devin Hester) are on special teams, and one (Tommie Harris) is out for the year. So really, they're heading into the playoffs with just three significant ones: Brian Urlacher, Olin Kreutz and Lance Briggs.
As my colleague Tim Schuler pointed out in on the RotoWire blog, there were 10 quarterbacks taken in the first round the last three seasons: Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, J.P. Losman, Alex Smith, Aaron Rodgers, Jason Campbell, Vince Young, Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler. Of those 10, nine have firm holds on their starting jobs, and most have had some big moments already. We debated who our top three would be if we were starting a franchise. Mine would be Roethlisberger (8.9 YPA, scrambling ability, one title game, one Super Bowl ring) hands down, then Young (forget Sunday's game - as my colleague Mike Salfino pointed out, when the opposing quarterback drives 80 yards and turns the ball over for a touchdown going the other way three times, you never get on the field, and when you do, you're way ahead), then Rivers. The issue with Rivers is whether he'll ever have to throw the ball enough to be a good fantasy quarterback, but we could have said that about Roethlisberger last year, and he's been putting up bigger fantasy numbers this season. Of course, a year from now, it could be Cutler, Leinart, Campbell. As a Giants fan, I'm afraid Manning will be okay, but never great.
If most of those guys pan out, and Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Donovan McNabb, Carson Palmer, Marc Bulger, Matt Hasselbeck and maybe even Pro Bowler Tony Romo stick around a few more years as they almost certainly will, the second half of the aughts should be a golden age for quarterbacks.
That Rudi Johnson would average less than four yards a carry against a defense that couldn't stop the run all season, or that Carson Palmer would throw for just 176 yards and 6.3 yards per attempt against a secondary missing its three best safeties is hard to believe. But the league readjusts so much from week to week that almost nothing should be surprising except that we put so much confidence in the conventional wisdom... And if you thought that game was shocking, what about Tim Rattay carving up the Chicago defense on the road in the second half and forcing that game into overtime?
I don't know how much they'll be allowed to play together, but with J.R. Smith out, the other option is DerMarr Johnson. Boykins goes 5-5, 133, and Iverson 6-1, 165 or so. Is there an NCAA backcourt that light? I know the guys at Amherst College (Div. III) when I went there in the early 90s, had them by 80 pounds... Didn't plan to throw hoops in here, but let's face it, most of you are out of your football playoffs by now anyway.
Below the Radar
Beating the Book
We went 10-6 against the spread last week and are now 120-95-9 on the season. We picked the Redskins here last week, and they not only covered but won outright. We're now 8-6-1 in this forum.
Chargers -4.5 at Seahawks
As horrendous as the Seahawks were last week, and as dominant as the Chargers have been, I think you have to go against the grain here and take Seattle at home, getting the points. Don't ask me how they'll stop LaDainian Tomlinson - it's often better not to involve yourself in the how, but instead trust in the line, see which way it's steering you and do the opposite. Remember, they didn't build those palaces in Vegas by giving money away. Take the Seahawks who keep it close.
Seahawks 27 - 24
For the rest of this week's slate, check out Beating the Book
Surviving Week 16
We said the Bears were the obvious play last week, but if you had them in overtime, it wasn't looking so obvious. But it's good for your long-term health to get the heart rate up every now and then, so consider that your exercise for the week. Our next pick, the Pats, rolled, while our third and fourth choices, Baltimore and San Diego, struggled just a bit before putting the games away.
This week, we like Indy at Houston, but after that, there's nothing easy. If pressed, we'd probably take the Chiefs at Oakland, but even that's not a layup. Third, we'd go with Dallas over Philly (probably a close game) and last the Falcons over the Panthers, but we don't trust the Falcons at all.
The full article comes out on Thursday night.
Article first appeared 12/19/06