East Coast Offense
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
Don't Be Too Sure
The only thing I know for sure is that my Week 3 cheatsheet isn't likely to look much like my Week 11 one. While we know this as a general matter because so much changes every year, it's hard to detach ourselves from our specific beliefs early on: LaMont Jordan, Cadillac Williams and Reuben Droughns are busts, while Chester Taylor, Rudi Johnson and Steven Jackson will be fine. Just last week, Frank Gore was a top-10 back - now he might be losing goal-line carries to Michael Robinson. I'm not saying we shouldn't consider the evidence to date - we absolutely should. Just hold onto the conclusions you draw from it lightly. Things will change drastically and unforeseeably.
Around the League
Let's get caught up quickly on the major developments of the last few days:
Of course, you all know about this by now - Alexander's out for at least this week's game against the Bears, but could come back in Week 6 after the bye. Still, that's a best-case scenario, and there's a chance he could miss more time than that. [Update: the Tacoma News Tribune is now reporting that Alexander might play in Week 4 after all]. Meanwhile, Maurice Morris would fill in, but this isn't Michael Turner taking over for LaDainian Tomlinson. Morris will catch some balls out of the backfield, and get some yardage between the 20s, but he's not the automatic goal-line option, and the Seahawks are likely to employ more three- and four-wide receiver sets. Think Mewelde Moore circa mid-2004.
Not too many of you owned Simms (in fact, he was owned in just five percent of Yahoo! Leagues), but Cadillac Williams was owned in every Yahoo! League, and Joey Galloway and Michael Clayton were owned in 98 and 68 percent, respectively. Simms was off to a tough start, but rookie Bruce Gradkowski is likely to be considerably worse, and, in the short term, that should hurt the surrounding skill players. Keep in mind, however, that Tim Rattay is on the roster, and should Gradkowski struggle miserably early on, Rattay, or a yet to be acquired veteran, could take over and perform serviceably. Let's not sugarcoat it - it's not looking great, but at the same time, it's Week 3, things will change, and someone's got to score the touchdowns for Tampa this year.
Dillon's listed as day-to-day, but the Patriots are notoriously deceptive in their injury reporting. The Giants' safety Gibril Wilson missed the last seven games of 2004 with a neck stinger, so these injuries can be serious. If Dillon were out for a significant amount of time, Laurence Maroney (85 percent owned) might instantly become a top-10 back.
Gore's lost three fumbles in three games, including one at the goal line Sunday which was returned 98 yards for a score. Gore also bruised his ribs in the game, making way for rookie Michael Robinson to come in and rush for two touchdowns. While Gore should be fine health-wise for Week 4, 49ers coach Mike Nolan is kicking around the idea of using Robinson, who at 6-1, 218 is bigger than Gore (5-9, 212), at the goal line. In Gore's defense, the fumble he lost Sunday was jarred lose by a defender's helmet, something that's not easy to prevent. Recall that even goal-line-back prototype Jerome Bettis lost a fumble the same way in the playoffs last season, so Nolan might not pull the trigger just yet. If he does, Gore becomes another Julius Jones-type, and his value will fall accordingly.
Below the Radar
Looking at the Yahoo! numbers, it turns out that the Jerious Norwoods (6 percent), LenDale Whites (21 percent) and Michael Turners (5 percent) are not actually owned in most of your leagues, though they should be - these are the kind of reserves who can win you a title if things (or, more specifically, particular players) break a certain way.
Here are a few more:
Benson didn't get a carry in Sunday's win over the Vikings, but Thomas Jones hasn't particularly impressed early on, either. The Bears are enough of a contender that team politics are likely to take a back seat to performance over the long haul. Expect Benson to get his shot sooner rather than later unless he does something to alienate his teammates or coaching staff.
Right now Ron Dayne's the starter in Houston, but Gado will get work as well. Don't forget that Gado had three 100-yard games and six touchdowns in essentially seven weeks last season for a team that wasn't much better than this year's Titans.
Gabriel was Tom Brady's top target down the stretch in Sunday night's game, and with Chad Jackson still hurting and/or not ready to be a factor, that could continue, especially if the Pats need to look down field against a Cincinnati team that can score points in a hurry.
Beating the Book
We bounced back last week by taking the Browns who not only covered easily but probably should have won outright. We went 9-3-2 against the spread in Week 3 to put us at 26-18-2 on the season, though only 1-2 in this forum.
Patriots +6 at Bengals
The Bengals have started out strong, but perhaps not as strong as it seems. They beat the Chiefs, largely without Trent Green, the Browns at home, and then the Steelers on the road thanks to a muffed punt and a fumble in the fourth quarter. Carson Palmer looks okay, but not as sharp as he did toward the end of last season, and we don't expect the Pats to come out flat two games in a row. We expect this to be a tough game, and could even see New England pulling out the win on the road. Back the Pats.
Patriots 24 - 20
For the rest of this week's slate, check out Beating the Book
Surviving Week 4
We initially told you to take the Dolphins last week, but switched to the Eagles after deciding that they were a better "pot odds" play, on the assumption that most people would take Miami. It didn't matter much, either way, because both got through, though Miami looked pretty shaky doing it.
For this week, we'd probably take the Eagles if we had them available, and after that the Colts. But since we used both of them up (something we recommend doing because otherwise you often don't make it through to have that problem), we're going with the Falcons. Atlanta lost badly on Monday night in a very tough environment to play, and we expect them to regroup at home against a far less inspired opponent. We give Atlanta a 75 percent chance of winning this game.
For the complete take on Survivor, strategies and rules, check out Surviving Week 4
In last week's column, I wrote:
Yahoo! Sports Editor Brandon Funston recently sent some of us a list of the Yahoo! Fantasy Football "Percent Owned Numbers", i.e., a list of what percent of leagues particular players were rostered in. For example, it might not surprise you that there is no Yahoo! league where Torry Holt is available as a free agent... But as you go further down the list, there are some curious findings. Someone apparently owns Craphonso Thorpe, for example.
To which a reader responded:
I, drunkchicken, of Red Sox Nation, drafted and still maintain, Craphonso Thorpe on my roster. I feel your comments citing Craphonso specifically need some context. First of all, I was first introduced to Craphonso in November of 2003 on my virgin trip to Notre Dame's campus. Florida State ended up torching ND 37-0 led by Craphonso's 217 yards and 2 TDs. I mean this guy lit them up. Also, his name was Craphonso, which obviously includes the word crap, and that, to me, was really something. So last year, his first year drafted, I selected him as my last pick for my fantasy team. Figured I'd make it a tradition. Unforturnately, he was released before our draft. Thankfully, Yahoo! kept him on the roster because our fantasy league has a side arrest pool this year. The team that has a player actually arrested during the season wins the pot. I mean, a FSU alum, recently cut, time on his hands. It was a golden opportunity. Of course now it's been argued that the player has to be on an active NFL roster, so it seems I'm crap out of luck. Moving on. There's more to fantasy than just numbers (mainly arrest propensity). But seriously, who names their kid, Craphonso?
Thanks for the explanation... and please congratulate whoever drafted the Cincinnati defense. Wonder if he has the Sunday Ticket on his yacht.
Article first appeared 9/27/06