East Coast Offense
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
Marion Barber hasn't done much the last two weeks, and Adrian Peterson did nothing on Monday night in a game where the Vikings scored 30 points. Unfortunately, no one's going to sell either of those players to you at a discount (if at all). What about Calvin Johnson, who's had two quiet weeks and now might be playing with Drew Stanton under center? I'd be surprised if you got him for less than 95 cents on the dollar. Braylon Edwards or Steven Jackson, you'd probably still have to pay 90. In more competitive leagues (and in 2008, that's probably most of them) the only players you can get at a steep discount are ones most people have written off. Randy Moss after the Dolphins game was a good target. Larry Johnson was a good target three weeks ago when he was yielding carries in a terrible offense. But what about right now? Here are a few I'd target: Torry Holt, Derek Anderson, Marc Bulger, Chad Johnson, Carson Palmer, Ryan Grant and Willis McGahee.
Why do I think all of those players will rebound? I don't. I'm agnostic about all of them, but I know they've performed well in the past, they're healthy enough to play for now, and they're still getting opportunities. No one knows whether Derek Anderson or Torry Holt will actually bounce back. But the difference between the savvy owner and the less savvy one, is that the former is self aware about his lack of knowledge, while the latter makes an informed guess and mistakes it for fact. With veteran players off to slow starts, coming off injuries or playing for bad teams, that guess is often: "This guy's toast." If that's the direction an owner's guessing in, you can usually use his false certainty against him and acquire that player on the cheap.
This won't work as easily for younger players like Edwards or Calvin Johnson who have a lot of big days ahead of them. You need to target players that even you have doubts about. (That's why I picked the above group). If it's obvious to you that the player will break out any week now, then it's obvious to everyone else, and you won't really get a discount - except in novice leagues.
The other thing that always makes me laugh is when people cite a player's terrible offensive line or bad quarterback as a reason that he'll never be worth anything. What about Ronnie Brown - coming off an ACL tear, in a timeshare and playing for a 1-15 team with a retread quarterback with no arm and bad receivers? Brown looks like a borderline top-10 RB now. And how about Matt Forte heading into the year with Kyle Orton as his QB and a terrible receiving corps? He also looks like a borderline top-10 back.
The key is realize that most decent players will thrive in the right situation. And the situations in which players find themselves are fluid - much more so than we imagine when we say to ourselves that the Lions, Chiefs and Raiders are hopeless. The best case scenario is to buy an explosive player in an apparently bad situation at a deep discount.
Incidentally, one player I didn't mention was Roy Williams because I think he's got attitude issues - for the first time in his life, he's not the top dog on his own team, and that team is terrible (right now), to boot. This probably means you should go out and get him, since even I'm jumping to a conclusion about him.
Kornheiser vs. Jaws
There was a great moment in the Monday night game when Tony Kornheiser was talking about how Vikings owner Zygi Wilf listens to talk radio to get an idea of what people think about his team (and how this is bad for coach Brad Childress), and Ron Jaworski replied: "Anyone who's going to make decisions based on talk radio should not be in the position of owning a team." This was classic because Kornheiser is always pushing the public perception angle, and Jaws always counters with the facts. For Kornheiser, when Reggie Bush scored two touchdowns, "A Star is Born," or when Aaron Rodgers took over the job for Green Bay, everyone will compare everything he does to Favre. Kornheiser tells us that Jerry Jones has done a great job making the Cowboys the most popular brand in the NFL, omitting that they haven't won a playoff game in more than 10 years. He's like a political pundit who doesn't care about the substance of the debate but rather how it played in "middle America." If Jaws were a political pundit, he'd tell you who won on the issues. We need more Jaws in this country, less Kornheiser.
More Brad Childress Stupidity
Last week we ripped Childress for punting away the game rather than making an effort to score, and this week he (and Sean Payton) might have topped that. With 1:11 to go in a tie game, the Vikings had the ball on the Saints 14 yard line, and the Saints had two timeouts left. The obvious thing to do was run one play to the kicker's favored hash mark, and then two kneel downs for a chip shot field goal to win the game. New Orleans would be forced to use both timeouts and have about 11 seconds left to mount a drive. Instead, the Vikings handed off to Adrian Peterson three times, and Peterson looked like he was trying to score a touchdown. Of course, the Saints let Childress off the hook by tackling Peterson. Why not let him score and have a minute-plus and two timeouts to score a game-tying touchdown, rather than 11 seconds to score the field goal?
The other boneheaded call by Childress (though not as obviously terrible) was his decision in the first quarter, down 7-0 on the road, to punt on 4th-and-6 from the Saints 36-yard line. I can understand not wanting to attempt a 53-yard field goal, but unless it's a Titans-Ravens type game, you have to go for it rather than punt. As it turns out, the Vikings punted for a touchback and netted 16 yards on the play. The very next play, Drew Brees threw a 52-yard bomb to Devery Henderson for a 1st-and-10 at the Vikings' 28.
Rod Marinelli hasn't earned the right to lie
It's one thing if two-time Super Bowl winner Mike Shanahan lies about which of his running backs will get the carries, or if three-time champ, Bill Belichick prevaricates on the injury report. I was even willing to cut good guy Tony Dungy some slack for lying about Marvin Harrison last year - at least he's won a Super Bowl and always makes the playoffs. But for Rod Marinelli, arguably the worst coach in the NFL, to tell us Rudi Johnson is starting only to start Kevin Smith instead - that's an insult I will not brook! If you're not serving the fans of the team you coach (and surely Lions fans cannot be happy), then you must at least be straight with the fantasy community. Otherwise, you'll be a pariah for millions, and for what?
Things to Take Away From Week 5
Beating the Book
The Cardinals covered last week, which puts us at 5-0 against the spread in this forum so far this season. We're 42-29 overall.
Packers +2 at Seahawks
No team fared worse than the Seahawks last week, and as expected, their stock was punished by the Book, which installed them as a mere two-point favorites at home against a reeling Green Bay squad. Of course, this line would have been even more favorable had Green Bay not itself lost to Atlanta, but Seattle's a different team at home, and Matt Hasselbeck has another week to work with top wideout Bobby Engram. Back the Seahawks.
Seahawks 24 - 20
We were 6-10 in this forum last year, but 127-120 on the season overall. From 1999-2007 we're 1184-1018 (53.8%, not including ties).
The full article comes out on Thursday morning.
Surviving Week 6
Our top two choices (Dallas and Carolina) both won, though had Chris Perry not fumbled, the Cowboys might have been in trouble. This week there are two more "easy" choices, the Redskins and the Vikings, though it's worth choosing carefully because anything can happen in the NFL.
We're going with the Redskins here. The Rams seem more likely to bounce back than the Lions, but we'd rather back the better team (Washington) than bet against the lesser team (Detroit). Moreover, Detroit, like Minnesota, plays in a dome, and they're division rivals, which is a bit of an equalizer. Of course, we reserve the right to change our minds in the full article. We give Washington an 87 percent chance to win this game.
The full article comes out Thursday.
Article first appeared 10/7/08