East Coast Offense
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
The No-Figure League?
It cracks me up how analysts see Pittsburgh lose to Arizona or San Diego to Kansas City and act shocked. "It's the No Figure League," they'll say, shaking their heads. And the very next week, those same analysts will tell you with confidence exactly what's going to happen! A star running back will have a big day against a weak team. A bad quarterback will struggle against a good defense. But weren't half of your assumptions wrong last week? Why then do you adopt new ones so wholeheartedly this week? And it's not like the NFL's only been that way this year. It's always been that way.
At some point, aren't we required to learn that the league isn't easy to figure, and that our obvious, mainstream assumptions about how it works are often totally wrong? And acknowledging this, shouldn't we be a lot more tempered in our calls each week. I know, I know, people want answers, decisiveness, a clear storyline to follow - but I'd argue that the truth - namely that we're unsure of the story, that we don't know which receiver will go off when - is better. Acknowledging uncertainty is good. It gets us to doubt our unreliable and oversimplified thought process about how the NFL works. It gets us to bet the underdog more often than not (which is a sound strategy) and it allows us to choose more carefully in Survivor. It also allows us to see all the possibilities, for example, that the Browns might be a good team to own fantasy players from, or that the Raiders might win the AFC West. Maybe what I'm writing here is too obvious, but basically, when you get things totally wrong, (as you no doubt will) you should doubt yourself. Don't immediately substitute another set of stupid assumptions for your previous mistaken ones. The process by which you choose your new assumptions is the same flawed one. Keep a very loose grip on what you think. As recently as three weeks ago, people were saying that Survivor was easy, just pick against the Browns every week!
Chris Fantasy's Date
For those of you who didn't read last week's column, essentially I landed a blind date with a cute girl because she was into fantasy football. (She texted me at 3:00 am for lineup advice at the behest of my friend who was teaching her girlfriends how to ride a skateboard). Here's how it went:
I picked her up at 7:15, we got dinner and drinks, then decided to hit a British pub in Santa Monica for one or two more. While there, we ran into some U.S. Marines who were back from Iraq. They were getting absolutely hammered. One of them in particular befriended us and insisted on buying us shots, of which I did six or seven, (and refused at least as many). She did one or two. By that time, we were getting along famously, and eventually I suggested we leave. We were considering going elsewhere for another drink, but it wasn't necessary. So we walked back to her place, and I helped set her lineup. Well, not her entire lineup - but we had just met three hours before.
I'm leaving out a few details - like me sleeping on the street for an hour - but on the whole I thought it went quite well.
I think I mentioned Daunte Culpepper last week, but I had no idea he'd get just 75 passing yards. Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham will split carries in Tampa now that Cadillac Williams is out, but you already know that. I'd probably go with Graham if I had to pick because he's stocky and well-suited to short-yardage work, but the two should split carries fairly evenly. Justin Fargas could get more work after the bye week with LaMont Jordan banged up, but Dom Rhodes will be back by then, and the Dolphins run defense has been pretty poor generally. That said Fargas is big and fast, and he should get the bulk of the work if Jordan is out.
Around the League
Unheralded Great Play of the Week
By now everyone's seen Tony Romo's incredible four-yard first-down run after picking up a ball snapped 25 yards over his head, but equally important was Kansas City safety Bernard Pollard's ankle tackle on LaDainian Tomlinson to prevent a late second quarter score. Tomlinson had gotten behind the entire Kansas City defense, and Pollard, chasing him from behind, was the only Chief with a chance to catch him. Pollard dived and just got enough of Tomlinson's heel or ankle to trip him up. If Tomlinson scores, it's 20-6 and desperation time for the Chiefs. Instead, Kansas City was able to kick a field goal on its second possession of the third quarter to make it 16-9 and was very much in the game. If you had San Diego in your survivor pool (something we advised against), Pollard is in large part responsible for your untimely death.
Beating the Book
We went 12-2 against the spread overall last week to put our season record at 33-24. We lost with the Vikings here, to put our record at 1-3 in this forum.
I have to apologize to the Yahoo! readers because in a week where we went 12-2 against the spread, we gave you a losing pick! Sorry about that.
Cardinals -3.5 at Rams
We like going ugly, and this is a good spot to do it. The Rams stock has fallen to the point where they're getting more than a field goal at home against a team with a rotating quarterback. Arizona should be fat and happy after a big home win over the Steelers, and the Rams will be hungry and desperate. Back St. Louis who wins outright.
Rams 20 - 17
The full article comes out on Thursday morning.
Surviving Week 5
Last week, we took the Cowboys, and thanks to Romo averting disaster by recovering a badly botched snap, it was largely smooth sailing. This week, the Pats are the obvious play, hosting Cleveland, but we've already used New England. If you haven't, then by all means, go with the chalk. There are three other legitimate choices as far as we're concerned: Dallas (used, and on the road), Indy and Tennessee. For now, we're taking Indy against a tough Bucs team because the Bucs have played fairly weak competition to date, and it's going to be hard to slow the Colts down in the dome. The loss of left tackle Luke Petitgout also hurts Tampa, as second-year man Donald Penn will have to match up against Dwight Freeney. That said, we're also concerned about Indy's injuries - particular those to Bob Sanders, Joseph Addai and Marvin Harrison, in that order, and will wait until later in the week to commit to a pick in our own pools. But at press time it's the Colts.
The full article comes out on Thursday morning.
Article first appeared 10/2/07