East Coast Offense
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
The older I get, the more I realize that there's a lot less than perfect accountability in this world. Less than I thought even. And I'm constantly torn between, on the one hand, trying to increase the level of accountability and, on the other, trying to make peace with its absence. Take, for example, the fact that Verizon/MCI, some new entity that to me might as well be an alliance between Iran and North Korea bills me $8 last month for my business account. Of course, not only do I not have a business account, but I have NEVER EVER used Verizon in my life, and the last time I used MCI was in the mid-90s when they were sending me $50 checks to switch from AT&T. So I call, wait on hold for 20 minutes or so using up minutes on the cell phone carrier I do have a contract with, and finally get some guy in India, who reluctantly (after I started yelling) agrees to remove the charges. Of course, two days ago, I get another bill from them, this time for $18, as a $10 late fee has been tacked on, and I call back, 20 more minutes on the actual cell, and the same thing, though I screamed the words: "If I get another bill, I swear to God, I'll initiate a class action lawsuit that will cost your company millions of dollars," hoping that those would be magic words for them to take my complaints, out of the six hundred thousand they surely get per day, seriously. But if that bill does come, I'm not really going to sue them because I don't have time. And then what will happen is the late fees will compound, and eventually, they'll damage my credit. Or I can pay it. Or I can call back get another customer service rep who does the same exact thing... What's this got to do with football? Absolutely nothing, but I can't keep quiet about this stuff anymore. It's hard enough sifting through all of my legitimate bills. Also think about Verizon's commericals - that crowd of people ("The Network") following customers around - that's just creepy. Now they're following me around, and I want it to stop.
The other area where there's sometimes no accountability is in the feedback I get from readers. If I get the Survivor pick wrong (as I did last week), I'm an idiot. Okay, fair enough. I've got nowhere to hide. But if some reader posts about how stupid my picks are, and I turn out to be right, how often does that reader return and admit that he was wrong? Not very often. Three weeks into the season, a reader wrote in telling us we were idiots and the site sucked because we had the Giants as the No. 1 preseason defense. We explained that it was only three weeks in, they were playing the hardest part of their schedule, that defenses are inherently tricky anyway, and that's why we urge you to wait on them. Now the Giants defense has been good for three and a half games, and there's no acknowledgement that maybe the site doesn't suck, and maybe the Giants are a good fantasy defense after all... what can you do? Well, I think in the second case, you accept the absence of accountability... At least they're reading the column and bothering to give you feedback, however incoherent, typo-ridden and occasionally in ALL CAPS. But with these phone, credit card and cable companies, I think you have to exact the maximum vengeance possible until it's just not worth it anymore for them to screw you over.
Around the League
Let's get caught up quickly on the major developments of the last few days:
Below the Radar
- Matt Hasselbeck Out for Three Weeks with a Sprained MCL
This means what it says. It also means that Seneca Wallace will be leading the passing attack, and Darrell Jackson, Deion Branch and probably even Maurice Morris deserve downgrades. Seattle's defense is likely to spend more time on the field, but that's not likely to help fantasy-wise, as they'll be more worn down and facing more running plays. It looked early on like Seattle would be the exception to the "Super Bowl loser misses the playoffs" rule, but I'd say they're even money at best at this point.
- Clinton Portis in a Walking Cast with a "High Ankle Sprain"
This is what the team is calling the injury, though that makes it sound unconfirmed. If it's true, that's a big blow to Portis' value because high ankle sprains typically last four to six weeks. By the time Portis was ready to return, Jason Campbell could very well be under center, and the team in full scale rebuilding mode.
- Ben Roethlisberger Suffers Another Concussion
The concussion apparently wasn't too severe, but that he suffered two in the span of a few months is worrisome, and I'd imagine the Steelers and coach Bill Cowher will be under pressure to hold him out for at least one game. Although Charlie Batch has been very good when he's had to play, I doubt he'll be able to sustain anything close to that kind of production with more exposure. It's too bad because this Steelers team doesn't run the ball as well as most of its predecessors, and its pass defense has been suspect at times - both factors that necessitate more passing attempts. Considering that Roethlisberger was averaging 8.9 yards per attempt for his career heading into the season (To put this in perspective, consider that Peyton Manning has averaged 7.7 for his career), I'd love to see what he could do if he were let loose for five or six games.
- Michael Vick Throws for Four Touchdowns
I talked about this on my XM radio show with my guest Mike Salfino, but if Vick were ever to learn to scramble to throw, rather than simply tucking the ball away, he might turn into Donovan McNabb/John Elway 2.0. The problem with Vick is that he's like an explosive point guard who doesn't keep his head up when he goes to the basket. That means sometimes he'll make a great play, and other times he'll take a bad shot. But if Vick were to improve his decision making while scrambling, he'd be virtually unstoppable because the defense would have to simultaneously account for Vick taking off and also continue to cover his receivers downfield for as long as it took to corral him. But Vick lets them off the hook, because usually he commits, and the defense can come after him and drill him when they finally get there. Against Pittsburgh, Vick bought time and looked downfield, averaging 7.7 YPA (Think Tom Brady circa 2004-2005), and the Falcons scored 41 points. Can he build on this? It's hard to say. Old habits die hard, especially when they've brought you as much glory and notoriety as Vick has. But if he'd rather win a Super Bowl than sell jerseys, Vick is going to have to make the adjustment, much like Donovan McNabb did several years ago.
Looking at the Yahoo! numbers from Saturday, it turns out that the Jerious Norwood
s (5.1 percent) and Michael Turner
s (9.3 percent) were still not 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. Last week's recommendations: Wali Lundy
, Brandon Jacobs
and Jon Kitna
Here are a few more:
- DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers (28.3 percent owned)
Yes, Williams is a backup, and he's also out with a high ankle sprain, but starter DeShaun Foster has struggled of late and has been injury prone throughout his career. Now's the time to pick up Williams before the good news comes out that he's close to returning - at that point it might be too late. Williams could be like Julius Jones a couple years ago, who missed much of the season with a sprained shoulder and came on very strong down the stretch.
- Chris Perry, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (.83 percent owned)
Perry (ankle) returned from the PUP list Sunday and caught three passes for 26 yards. Expect Perry to build on that as his conditioning improves, and for the Bengals to look for him as a receiver out of the backfield - last year Perry caught 51 passes, two of which went for touchdowns. Perhaps, more importantly, were anything to happen to Rudi Johnson, Perry, a former first-round pick, would step in immediately as his replacement.
- Matt Jones, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (45.9 percent owned)
Don't forget about Jones just yet. Even though he's missed a good deal of the season with groin and hamstring injuries, when he does return, you'll want to have the 6-6, 238-pounder who can fly stashed on your bench. He might do nothing, but if he does pan out, he has the physical skills to pan out big both as a deep threat, and a very tough matchup in the red zone.
- Chad Jackson, WR, New England Patriots (4.6 percent owned)
Jackson is finally over the hamstring injury that nagged him through most of training camp and the early part of the season. Jackson's 6-2, 212 pounds, with 4.38 speed and has one of the best quarterbacks in football getting him the ball. While rookie wideouts rarely put up big numbers, Jackson is in an ideal situation to succeed, especially given the lack of established competition for targets on the Patriots.
Beating the Book
We went 8-4-1 against the spread last week and are now 52-40-8 on the season. We picked the Browns here (though went the Chiefs as our best bet later in the week) and are now 3-3-1 in this forum.
Seahawks +6 at Chiefs
Arrowhead's a tough place to play, as the Chargers found out, but we expect a bit of a letdown now that the Seahawks are coming in as six-point dogs without their starting quarterback or running back. Seattle's defense should keep them in the game, and Kansas City is likely to get conservative against an opponent who they don't have to score a lot of points to beat. Back the Seahawks who keep it close.
Chiefs 17 - 13
For the rest of this week's slate, check out Beating the Book
Surviving Week 8
Last week was ugly, as three of our top four choices, the Jaguars, Seahawks and Eagles all went down. Only the Colts made it through, and most people didn't have them available anyway. The Broncos and Patriots were the only other big favorites who were able to pull out wins.
For this week, Chicago's the no brainer (they're 16.5-point favorites at home against the 49ers), but if you've used them already, I'd probably (and I hate to jinx them) go with the Giants at home against Tampa Bay. Chicago actually struggled against the 49ers at home last year, but the tough game against Arizona and the bye week should have the Bears focused. The Giants are due for a letdown after a Monday night win in Dallas, but Tampa's won two games in a row, over the Bengals and Eagles, so New York probably won't take them too lightly.
The full Survivor comes out on Thursday night.
Article first appeared 10/25/06