East Coast Offense
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
Smoke and Mirrors
In the 16th round of the 15-round Yahoo Friends and Family League, I made perhaps the best pick in the entire draft: a killer virtual defense. My virtual fantasy defense consistently shuts down superior opposing offenses and even calibrates its level of dominance to my erratic (and usually modest) offensive output. As a result, I'm 7-2 in that league, despite being tied for 8th in points. And the only reason I'm tied for eighth in points is due to good lineup decisions because my team is terrible. Jeff Garcia leads it in total points, and my first four draft picks (it's a 14-team league) were Frank Gore, Torry Holt, Jerious Norwood and Brandon Jackson, in that order. Having a deep receiving corps, which includes Santonio Holmes, Reggie Brown, Roddy White and D.J. Hackett and very good TE, K and D (Kellen Winslow, Rob Bironas and the Giants) helps, but there's no two ways about it, this team is winning with smoke and mirrors.
We'll see how my defense does this week against Scott Pianowski's underachieving second-place team. As long as we can shut down Derek Anderson, Marshawn Lynch, Clinton Portis and Plaxico Burress, we should be fine. Hopefully, Laveranues Coles is still sufficiently concussed.
The other subplot is that Brad Evans bet me a $19 burger at Bradley Ogden's restaurant in Vegas on who would do better in the league. Evans has Brandon Jacobs, Kevin Jones, Terrell Owens and T.J. Houshmandzadeh on his team, but stands at just 3-6. Great offense, but terrible virtual defense which has historically been a problem for Evans. You might shrug it off as simple bad luck, but I've been in Vegas with the guy, and bad beats stalk him like predator to prey.
Still, I better not talk too much trash after Week 9 - my squad is bad enough to get overtaken.
With rumors swirling that Larry Johnson might be out for the year thanks to a broken foot (and at the very least likely to miss next week's game), the ancient and surgically held-together Priest Holmes should get some carries. I'd probably put my money on rookie Kolby Smith, though not very much of it, because the Chiefs weren't creating big holes even when Johnson was healthy.
The Chris Henry returning from (and not about to embark on) a suspension is worth a look, especially with Chad Johnson banged up. Even if Johnson's fine to play, the Bengals are dying for some wide receiver help, and they face a beatable Ravens secondary. If Johnson doesn't play, Henry's arguably a top-25 start. Even with Johnson, Henry's bound to get some looks, possibly even in the red zone. Incidentally, it would be cool if the Bears Adrian Peterson broke the rushing record this week - on the heels of both Chris Henrys being suspended in the same season, you'd have to start factoring a player's name into his draft slot. (The Giants' Steve Smith should be bumped up if that happens).
I picked up JaMarcus Russell in a 16-team league where I've got quarterback problems because I think he'll get his shot sooner rather than later, and his teammates all rave about his physical skills from his mobility for a big quarterback to his jaw-dropping arm strength. His coach Lane Kiffin says he doesn't want to throw Russell in with a poor supporting cast and hurt his confidence, but after one more game of Josh McCown and/or Daunte Culpepper, there's a good chance he changes his tune. Russell's a rookie QB who missed training camp, so expect a rocky first couple games at least, but the waiver wire is all about upside, and this lottery ticket could cash in time for your playoffs. If you think that's far-fetched, take a look at Vince Young's statlines down the stretch last year.
Around the League
Article first appeared 11/7/07
Beating the Book
Well, we started at .500 and finished that way, going 7-7 against the spread to put us at 61-61-8. We're not thrilled with that, but we usually come on in the second half, and it could be worse. We were right about the Colts here last week, though we had to sweat that game out a little more than we wanted to at the end. Call it a front-door cover for them and be glad that Wes Welker caught a first down pass that gave the Pats a chance to run out the clock. We're now 3-6 in this forum.
Bears -3 at Raiders
The Raiders aren't very good, but getting points at home against the Brian Griese-led Bears is a nice spot for them. Oakland's pass defense should make some plays, and the Raiders should have success running the ball against the Bears soft front as Tommie Harris hasn't been healthy all year. Back Oakland who wins outright.
Raiders 20 - 19
Surviving Week 10
Last week, the Steelers went easy on us and put that game away early, and Adrian Peterson was kind enough to put some Chargers-backers in our pools out of their misery.
This week, we're probably going with the resurgent Saints at home against the Rams. We don't like going against a winless team fresh off a bye - St. Louis will be desperate, healthier than they've been in a long time, and they're used to playing in a dome. Still, the way New Orleans handled a nasty, physical Jacksonville squad and the fact that at 4-4 they can't afford to take the Rams likely, gives us a fair amount of confidence. We give the Saints an 80 percent chance to win this game.
The full article comes out on Thursday morning.
Article first appeared 11/7/07