East Coast Offense
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
Week 1 Waiver Wire
There's not a whole lot to choose from in most leagues - sure take a flier on Derrick Ward, Nate Burleson, Patrick Crayton and Eric Johnson if they're still out there, but it's hard to see any of these guys holding the key to your title hopes. I still like Daunte Culpepper if Josh McCown's finger keeps him out a while, though the match-up this week in Denver is tough. I'd be more interested in who people drop to pick those guys up - if someone gets scared off by Mark Clayton's bad game or jumps ship on Donte' Stallworth, both are worth a look.
Buy low, sell high
It's a joke how often fantasy "experts" offer up this simple, but seemingly impossible to execute advice. Plaxico Burress and LaMont Jordan for Steven Jackson? Sure, if this is the Jackson owner's first year playing fantasy football, and he doesn't consult anyone else before pulling the trigger. In most cases it's impossible, though, because overreactive as they are, people are smart and experienced enough to turn that type of deal down. So if you're going to sell high - you need to deal Adrian Peterson, Randy Moss, Tom Brady - players from whom you and your fellow owners envision monster seasons. If that sounds crazy, remember Felix Hernandez after two starts this baseball season - the last guy you want to sell is the usually the one that will fetch the most, and it's unlikely he'll sustain that level of performance.
How about some buy-low players? I don't think you can get Drew Brees, Lee Evans or Frank Gore on the cheap - it's just not going to happen after one bad week. But Santana Moss, Reggie Brown and maybe even Maurice Jones-Drew (due to his unusual role) could be available. The key is to identify players who have done poorly for reasons that aren't likely to persist. I'd be more worried about Larry Fitzgerald (run-heavy offense), Marc Bulger (loss of Orlando Pace) and Ronnie Brown (mediocre track record, lacks coach's trust). Even so, sometimes those are the best players to buy as long as nervous owners fully discount them for the risk.
Around the League
Cadillac Williams is hurt again, this time with bruised ribs, and word is that General Motors will sue the NFL to make people stop associating the injury prone back with their flagship vehicle... In fact, Week 1 wasn't good to any of the three running backs drafted in the top-five in 2005. Cedric Benson struggled against a stout San Diego front and lost a costly fumble, and Ronnie Brown was ineffective against Washington. When you look back at that draft, no one in the top 10 has really done much. It's not until pick 11 (Demarcus Ware) and 12 (Shawne Merriman) that you get players who have really panned out so far... Plaxico Burress has a weird first name, to be sure, but it's time people stopped calling him "Plexiglass" in lieu of analysis about his game. Not only is plexiglass durable - it's what the boards in the NHL are made of - but Burress himself is an upper echelon NFL receiver, and as long as Eli Manning isn't out for a significant amount of time, we expect Burress to live up to RotoWire's preseason No. 11 ranking. Of course, not every secondary he faces will be as easy to torch as Dallas's... The big-three rookies lived up to the hype with Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch and Calvin Johnson all having very good NFL debuts. Brandon Jackson, not so much. While opportunity (especially for a running back) might be the biggest factor in fantasy success, there's also the small matter of talent. Lynch's game should put to rest foolhardy speculation that Dick Jauron would lean heavily on Anthony Thomas because of their connection from the Bears half a decade ago - Lynch was the No. 12 overall pick, and Thomas has firmly established himself as a reliable NFL backup. And if Chester Taylor is out for Week 2, Peterson might never look back. (Of course, I said to sell high, but maybe you wait a week until after the Lions game - some stocks like Google and LaDainian Tomlinson, you simply hold onto regardless, and Peterson could wind up being one of those. But he's got a long way to go still, and he has to prove he can hold up under the pounding. Think of what you could have gotten for Carnell Williams after his first game as a rookie).
There were at least four major gaffes this weekend, committed by coaches or referees, and I list them in no particular order.
Beating the Book
We went 5-9 last week, which, in case you don't know, is bad, but sometimes the favorites come in early in the season, and that always hurts us given our underdog-heavy ways. I suppose we could switch it up and go with more favorites for the first two or three weeks, but no one knows when it's going to turn, and we feel pretty strongly that underdogs are where the value's at over the long haul. Our best bet, the Jets, also got killed, but if you're going to be wrong, it's just as well to be spectacularly so.
Colts -7.5 at Titans
Back to the well with another home dog. The Colts looked awfully impressive on Thursday night absolutely annihilating a Saints squad that was out of sync, but on a grass field against a much more physical team that split two tight games with them last year, we think seven and a half is too much on the road. Back the Titans who keep it close.
Colts 21 - 20
The full article comes out on Thursday morning.
Surviving Week 2
Well, we burned the Chargers last week, but we were happy to do it - any time you have a bunch of seven-point favorites to choose from, there's a 25-30 percent chance you're going to bite it. We never save teams - survive and move on, and deal with next week next week. And no matter what the spread, never take the underdog lightly - shocking upsets happen several times a year in the NFL, so really choose carefully even between big favorites. If there were ever a theme song for survivor, it would be this.
For Week 2, there are two choices for us - the Bears or the Jaguars, and for now, we're going with Chicago at home. The problem with the Jaguars is that like their opponent, Atlanta, they're trying out a new offensive system, and it might take a couple weeks before it clicks. At least with the Bears, you have some continuity, and right now the Chiefs are struggling. The one concern is a poor game by Rex Grossman that turns this into a slugfest on the ground, but the Bears defensive front, their offensive line and the home field should give them enough of an advantage even if that were to happen.
The full article comes out on Thursday morning.
Article first appeared 9/11/07