When a Good Buzz Goes Bad Article first appeared 4/19/10
By Johnnyboy Sullivan
Whether it’s the first game you ever attended, or Week 17 of last season, one thing’s for sure. He was there. Through the hallowed halls and beneath the sacred light, in the bathroom at halftime dropping the F-Bomb on some guy wearing the visiting team’s jersey. All the while you’re waiting in line for the urinal next to the mini urinal with your six-year old son. He’s the guy that did way too much tailgating before kickoff and he’s a time honored American football tradition. He’s doing keg-stands hours before the gates even open and once inside the stadium, he’s got the trick-shot beer man throwing behind the back passes to him in the stands. It all culminates in his drunken rendition of Chubby Checker’s twist set to “Who let the Dogs out?” and suddenly he’s fighting it out with security and being forcefully removed.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that when a buzz goes bad, it’s never pretty.
The NFL has a buzz reminiscent of that this offseason too, and if you’re not careful, you could wake up in the tank - smelly and feeling like death warmed over. So with that in mind, think of me as your designated driver. We’ll tour the top three offseason trades and what they mean to fantasy owners. And don’t worry, my football intoxicated friend, I’ll get you home in one piece.
Donovan McNabb: Philly’s own Sunshine Superman and his departure to D.C. is a huge story. The even bigger story is that he kept from falling into Oakland’s black hole; otherwise this would be a completely different write-up. Donovan will add some sleeper significance to others around him in Washington, no doubt, but I would temper any big-time expectations you may have for McNabb himself. I still like Donovan as a late-round value pick this year but with Matt Schaub’s 2009 numbers still fresh in people’s minds, it almost guarantees McNabb will be overvalued in ’10. I mean, I hate to rain on offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s Super Bowl parade, but alma maters aside, Santana Moss shares little in common with Andre Johnson. Of course, maybe the right scheme and the right QB is all Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly need to become the next DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin? Maybe, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
Speaking of those two receivers specifically, on the flipside in Philadelphia, I don’t see Jackson or Maclin losing much value in McNabb’s absence. This is still Andy Reid’s offense and Kevin Kolb has shown already that he’s not afraid to sling it around. There’s also an emerging stud tight end in Philly too. Do I see either one of those guys as a number one on your roster? No, but that has little to do with McNabb. Kolb knows he’s the number one going in this year and he’ll have time to build chemistry as such. Draft like you otherwise would in Philly.
Now when it comes to the ground game around D-Mac in Washington, I’ll defer to an old tried and true mantra that’s served me well in years past: “Stay out of Denver!” When it comes to running backs under Mike Shanahan it’s best to leave it alone … Mike Anderson, the Bell brothers, the Travis Henry debacle, even Ron Dayne got some love there. Shanny’s got two powerful muscle cars and a sports car in that garage now but they’ve all got 200,000 plus miles on the odometer, and you still need to figure out which one he’s going to drive prior to kickoff. Brian Westbrook could show up there before it’s all said and done, and Maurice Clarett could bust out of prison and garner another tryout. You just never know.
If you’re looking for some added worth in the nation’s capital however, look no further than Fred Davis. Davis emerged as a real threat in an otherwise horrid Redskins attack last year and I have a feeling he’ll be getting some additional playing time in the Shanahan era despite Chris Cooley still being there.
Santonio Holmes: I happened to catch the opening portion of “Sports Nation” on the ole’ four-letter network the other night, and apparently 71 percent of all Jets fans are excited about having Santonio on their team, and they should be. Fantasy owners, however, should exercise some caution. This will be his first year on a new team and he’ll have to contend with a sophomore QB too. It’s not a given that Mark Sanchez will experience the slump, but I wouldn’t be too surprised. The simple question is, do you see Sanchez as a Peyton Manning type, or a Matt Flacco? Or is it Joe Ryan? Either way I’m sure you’ll lean more toward the latter, and that’s the point. Gut feeling is sometimes the only thing that saves your season.
The interesting storyline in New York now will be which receiver emerges as the number one target - Braylon Edwards or Holmes. Edwards will have more time with Sanchez and the offense, but when you think of Holmes, you think of good hands (the Super Bowl-winning catch) and when you think of Edwards, … well, you think of not-so-good hands (ball deflecting off his helmet like he was in a bad football comedy from the 80’s). Now with all that said, I’d still take a late flyer on Holmes. Fantasy owners will be put off by the impending suspension and everything I’ve mentioned but I for one see that as a possible chance to snag him late, and hope he pans out. I mean, the guy is talented and there’s no way around it. As long as he’s not sparking up on the sidelines, I’m cool with him.
Here’s my recent example: No one would touch Steve Smith early in my ’08 draft so I waited and took him late. I started another receiver early on (ironically, it was Edwards) and once Smith’s suspension was over, I rode him like a little magic horse all the way down the stretch when the games mattered more, and as my number two receiver no less. There’s always value in scenarios like this so don’t shy away completely, just be smart about it. I wouldn’t be surprised if that suspension was reduced too.
When it comes to Pittsburgh, and more specifically Big Ben, steer clear. He may’ve duped the cops in Georgia but he still has “The Commish” to deal with. Sure, he’s saying all the right things now, about improving his character and loving his fellow man and all that, but a cement reputation is starting to dry, and now he’s lost his number one receiver. The chat boards are alive with Roethlisrumors too, but it’ll never happen. They’ll never trade him, and by that I mean the guy’s a pariah. St. Louis is going to trade the number one overall pick for him? If they’re willing to do that they should’ve just picked up Michael Vick straight out of CB4. Still, the rumors alone could affect Ben’s play even further. If he reverts to “Ben without his helmet,” Marc Bulger could even end up at QB, and that’s why I’d avoid Pittsburgh.
Brandon Marshall: Here’s a fun game you can play: Visit one of the many Internet search engines currently available and type in “Brandon Marshall behavioral issues,” and then hit enter. See if you can stay awake long enough to read them all. It’s more than possible the first one ever written is older than you are. In any event, he finally ditched his Gortex parka but landing in Miami is still a bit of a shock. I mean, had the Bears stepped up, and he were once again teamed with Jay Cutler, seemed like a logical move. Or even if it were Matt Hasselbeck and Housh with a nice rookie running back behind a big, shiny, new left tackle too. That’s where the NFL draft pays off in fantasy drafts.
Of course instead of all that, he went to Miami and for some fantasy players that means indecision. I, for one, like it. Miami is clearly going toward a more traditional power offense, and if you consider Chad Henne a more talented QB than Kyle Orton, why shy away from Marshall in 2010? He’s paid, he’s happy, he’s unleashed on South Beach for the remainder of the offseason - which could go either way actually but let’s assume he avoids the Tony Montana nightmare experience and keeps out of trouble.
Don’t tell me you can’t picture that big arm of Henne’s being opened up a bit this year with Marshall and Davone Bess running opposite one another. Ted Ginn’s departure doesn’t hurt him a bit either, that’s for sure. Darrelle Revis twice a year’s not so good but it won’t stop me. Elite receivers are down across the board for 2010. More than a few of them will be catching for a sophomore quarterback and it seems like the rest are waiting on a hypothetical. Will Derek Anderson beat out Hollywood What’s His Name and win the Larry Fitzgerald sweepstakes? Sidney Rice’s value is up there if Favre comes back. Moss and Brady could come out hot again amid all the Jets hoopla, although surely Bill Belichick isn’t surprised HBO chose Rex over him. Nonetheless, Marshall could be very promising in Miami.
In Denver, on the other hand … not so good. In Marshall’s absence Knowshon’s value gets lowered, and Orton didn’t belong on your roster last year let alone now. I don’t care what kind of prospect Denver may find in the draft. Even if the Broncos somehow use their first pick on Dez Bryant, which they won’t, rookie wide receivers don’t belong on your roster. Denver becomes a fantasy wasteland.
Anyway I hope you’re home safe in your own bed, preferably lying on your stomach no less. With the league’s uncertainty in 2011 looming, there will no doubt be a lot of high publicity shakes and moves to come. So pace yourself, and avoid the beer bong.
Article first appeared 4/19/10