East Coast Offense
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
It's Getting Better All the Time
I remember being at parties in LA six years ago, and the blonde I was talking to would ask, "So what do you do?" And I'd say, "I work in fantasy sports." And she'd look confused and say, "Fantasy what?" And I'd have to choose between a tedious explanation she probably wouldn't understand, or just say, "It's too complicated to explain," knowing she probably thought I was in pornography. I soon learned that the latter choice was best because: (1) You're wasting your time explaining anything for more than 15 seconds to the average woman in LA and (2) No one here has anything against pornography.
Fast forward to last Saturday, and I'm asleep by midnight because I allowed my married friend to drive to the party, and after and hour and a half he wanted to leave. But as I'm sleeping, I hear my cell phone ding a few times between three and four in the morning. Apparently my other friend, who we left at the party, got whisked into a car with five girls, and one of them was in a fantasy football league and needed lineup advice. He told her about me, and she sent me a bunch of text messages. Which I discovered at 9 am when I woke up. I called my friend, and he said, "Call her, she's cute." So I left her a voice mail with lineup advice. She calls back later to thank me, we talk, set up a time to get some drinks, and she says, "You know, I have you listed in my phone as 'Chris Fantasy'."
There will be the mad scramble for Brian Leonard and maybe Roddy White, who has some upside - he's a former first round pick with decent size and deep speed, and Joey Harrington's looking his way. Nate Burleson is getting looks and is the only receiver with red-zone size - at least until D.J. Hackett comes back. And Kenny Watson could get the nod against the Patriots this week if Rudi Johnson isn't able to play. But if you're picking lower than the top-5, you'll probably miss out. If anyone's rash enough to drop Jerious Norwood, Brandon Jackson, Reggie Brown or Mark Clayton all four are worth an immediate pickup - any of them could make an impact as the season goes on.
In deeper leagues, (14-teams or more) I'd consider Kurt Warner (looked great in Baltimore, has two star receivers and could take over the job at any point) and Daunte Culpepper (looked good against Cleveland, has two decent receivers and can always get the odd rushing touchdown if he keeps the job). If Warner or Culpepper pan out, they could pan out big - unlike say Steve McNair, Chad Pennington or Alex Smith. Culpepper and Warner are just lottery tickets, but every once in a while, you'll cash one in.
Around the League
Bold and Possibly Crazy Call of the Week
Mike Shanahan goes for it on 4th and 6 from his own five-yard line down six in the fourth quarter with four minutes left and no timeouts. Jay Cutler throws a perfect strike to Daniel Graham who drops the pass. Jacksonville ball, game over.
Here's why Shanahan's decision makes sense. Even if the Broncos only had a 30 percent chance of converting the first down, that would give them a fresh set of downs and three and a half minutes to score a touchdown. If we give them a 20 percent chance to get down the field in those circumstances, that means they had a six percent chance to win the game, assuming they managed the clock optimally and left little or no time for Jacksonville.
If Shanahan punts the ball, let's say there's a 50 percent chance that Jacksonville gets a first down and runs the clock out. So there's a 50 percent chance that the Jaguars punt, and Denver gets the ball back with less than two minutes left at its own 20 with no timeouts. In that case, there might be a 12 percent chance that they get down the field and score a touchdown, i.e. a six percent chance overall.
Obviously, I'm making up all these numbers, but they're plausible, and you can see why going for it in that situation isn't any more risky than punting. The only difference is that Shanahan was taking the chance all at once rather than stretching it out over several plays. (And that he trusted his offense more than his defense in that case as Jacksonville was moving the ball easily on them, and they were worn down). That you would stake the game on one play rather than several doesn't make it any more risky if the chance of winning is the same either way. Like a good poker player, Shanahan realized that at some point you have to make a stand, even if the odds aren't good. To simply fold until you have no choice (a la Norv Turner vs. New England) isn't a winning strategy, either.
Beating the Book
We went 7-7 against the spread overall last week to put our season record at 21-22. We lost with the Falcons here, to put our record at 1-2 in this forum.
Packers -2 at Vikings
The Packers look good early on, but laying points on the road against a division rival with a good defense is tough, and we suspect this line is a little inflated to combat the media-driven Brett Favre lovefest now that he's tied Dan Marino's record. Favre deserves to be appreciated for his accomplishment, but let's not forget that he's nowhere near the superstar player he once was. Back the Vikings who win outright.
Vikings 20 - 16
The full article comes out on Thursday morning.
Surviving Week 4
The Patriots came through for us last week, and there wasn't much to it - asking Trent Edwards to win in relief in New England was like asking your dog to translate this article into Chinese. Of course, no other major favorites lost, so we didn't gain anything by it.
For Week 4, there are a few choices. The Chargers we used already, and anyway, I don't trust Norv Turner's squad not to implode against a Chiefs team that will at least show up. The Colts are a big favorite over Denver, but I don't love going against Mike Shanahan after a home loss. To us, the best game on the board is Dallas at home against the Rams. While we don't like going against desperate, winless teams, St. Louis is missing two of its key players in Steven Jackson and Orlando Pace, and its defense is among the worst in the league. Dallas could have a letdown after its big road win on national TV last week, but a lot would have to go wrong for them to lose to the Rams. We give the Cowboys an 85 percent chance to win this game.
The full article comes out on Thursday morning.
Article first appeared 9/26/07