If you’ve been paying attention, I’m a bit of an asshole. But I’m more than happy to hold myself accountable for my faulty predictions. That said, I’m also more than happy to give myself plenty of props for those predictions that lived up.
Mo Morris and Kevin Smith-
I put Morris as a fringe top-15 RB this week, thanks to byes, making him a viable option in all PPR leagues. The Panthers have allowed 20 or more PPR fps in all but one week this year, and have allowed 29 or more six times. The one successful week the Panthers’ rush D had vs. opposing fantasy backs was week 7, and they had to tear Tim Hightower’s ACL to contain the Redskins’ rushers. As for Smith, I’m not confident enough in him to rank him as a starter, but he has some man-crush history with me, and I can’t help but think he could be viable in 12-14 team PPR leagues if you’re desperate.
Morris was inconsequential, accumulating just 4.7 PPR points. But that’s because Silent Bob took over big time, putting up 201 total yards and three TDs on 20 total touches. So yeah, mancrush lives on.
Brad Evans said (on Smith):
Overall, the junior Smith, who is still only 24-years-young, might actually be the better fit. Because Matthew Stafford is dealing with a broken finger on his throwing hand, the air-heavy Lions may follow a more conservative approach in Week 11. The matchup practically demands it. Carolina, which ranks 28th in the league versus the run, has conceded 4.9 yards per carry, 175.1 total yards per game and 13 TDs to RBs, equal to the second-most fantasy points allowed. Sure it’s a gamble, but flexing Smith in deep leagues could make you look like a genius.
So, good call, Evans. See, I’m a nice guy, right?
Given Blount’s deficiencies in the hurry up (he’s caught just seven passes on the year) I don’t see much involvement from him starting in the second half, or whenever Green Bay goes up by two scores, whichever comes first.
Blount was a no-show in what became a blowout with plenty of pre-mature Tampa Bay hurry up sets, which I accurately predicted would happen (Kregg Lumpkin was in on most of those downs), but not before Blount ripped off a 54 yard TD run. His line would have been less-than-ordinary without that run (17 carries, 53 yards, 1 catch, 6 yards…so yeah, that run was more than half of his rushing production). But luckily I wasn’t alone.
Matthew Berry said:
When the Bucs get down, as they have the past three weeks, they abandon the run. Just 22 total second-half rushes for Tampa Bay in the past three weeks (Thanks, ESPN Stats & Information!), so I’m probably not illin’ here by saying Tampa Bay will be down in the second half.
I predict Cruz and Nicks to both record double-digit targets, with Manningham floating back to the 7 targets he was averaging per game over the first four.
Besides the fact that the Giants offense was basically stalled all night, thus limiting everyone’s involvement, my analysis was spot on. Cruz had 10 targets, Nicks had 7 and Manningham had just two. However, not everyone agreed with me.
Jamey Eisenberg said:
Manningham missed the first meeting with the Eagles in Week 3 with a knee injury, but he should do well in the rematch. All the Giants receivers are worth starting this week with Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks since the Eagles are struggling with injuries in their secondary.
Mike Williams (TB)-
Luckily, the Packers’ pass D allows the 4th-most points to opposing receivers, and Williams will run plenty of routes against them in a potentially very lopsided affair. I have no stats to backup my Williams affliction; just trust me…I hope.
Obviously I wasn’t super confident about this prediction, but it worked out. The game played out exactly as I predicted, with Tampa going down early and having to scratch their way back with the passing game (making the Blount TD all the more unpredictable and hard to explain). Williams was very good, scoring for the first time since week 1. For the record, though it wasn’t an “official” prediction (I made it as part of the Jay Cutler recommendation), I also recc’d Josh Freeman. Anyway, the “TMR” had other thoughts.
Matthew Berry said:
See Freeman, Josh. Or, just talk to a Mike Williams owner for more than three minutes.
Other predictions of mine that worked:
Start Marshawn Lynch (89 total yards, two receptions, one TD)
Sit Beanie Wells (33 total yards, zero receptions, zero TDs, one lost fumble)
Start Jordy Nelson (6 catches, 123 yards, two TDs)
Start Michael Crabtree (7 catches, 120 yards, zero TDs)
Start Carson Palmer (163 passing yards, two total TDs, zero TOs)
Start Jay Cutler (286 passing yards, three total TDs, one TO)
Sit Matt Hasselbeck (injured, 124 passing yards, zero TDs, one TO)
Start Kellen Winlsow (9 catches, 132 yards, zero TDs)
Sit Ed Dickson (2 catches, 21 yards, zero TDs)
Predictions of mine that failed:
Sit Cedric Benson (41 total yards, zero receptions, two TDs)
Start Ryan Fitzpatrick (209 passing yards, zero TDs, two TOs)
Sit Alex Smith (267 passing yards, two TDs, one TO)
Sit Joe Flacco (270 passing yards, two TDs, one TO)
Start Fred Davis (6 catches, 49 yards, zero TDs, one lost fumble)
Sit Brandon Pettigrew (4 catches, 47 yards, one TD)
So if you give me the Kevin Smith one, I won’t take the Josh Freeman one. That makes me 12-7 on the week (throwing out A.J. Green, who didn’t play) heading into MNF. That’s a 63% accuracy rate.
Matthew Berry was 60% (17-11) on his “Love/Hate” list
Throwing out kickers (seriously, CBS, you predict start/sits for kickers?) and Shonn Greene, Eisenberg was 50% (19-19) on the “Start ‘em/Sit ‘em” column
Throwing out Vick (DNP) Evans was 55% (11-20) on his “Flames” and “Lames” predictions
S.I.’s Eric Mack takes an “ambitious” approach, ranking sit/starts for every team. This is similar to Brandon Funston’s “Skinny.” Of all of the active, non-kicker and D/ST players he ranked, he finished at 61% (60-39). Now, you might think ranking every player is more challenging, but I was extremely liberal in labeling a “start” a win, by basically giving it to him if the player was useful at all. For instance, neither Panthers’ RB scored, but both put up decent stats, Earl Bennett was a double-digit PPR scorer and I gave him guys like Titus Young, who didn’t do much, but were more useful than you thought they’d be. This approach also allows for the “expert” to analyze guys who everyone is obviously going to start, and call those “wins.”
So what did we learn? Well, a couple things. First, we learned that even though I’m not even the best TFN staff member at predicting start/sit recs, I still am more reliable than just about every other expert out there you can read for free. Secondly, and I’ll let my start/sit column’s intro do my talking for me here,
The moral of the story is these guys you give your traffic and ad revenue to, these people who have what many of you (and me) consider a “dream job” are just regular assholes like the rest of us. Their only discernable talent (besides writing persuasive pieces as cogently as your garden variety 8th grader) is that they have the extra time to pay attention to football and we don’t. So I guess when I say “talent” I really mean “luxury.”
Finally, we learned that I kind of need to be covering more guys, and doing less research. My column last week was really long and informative. It gave you quality over quantity. But it also only analyzed a total of 19 active players heading into MNF. The beauty of this is that by talking about fewer players I have time to really research for my “readership” and provide some really awesome analysis that they can use. The bad thing is that it doesn’t allow me to swim with the big fish, volume wise. Until I can prove to be 63%+ reliable while recommending a similar amount of players as, say, Matthew Berry in his insipid Love/Hate crapshoot column, I can’t really compare my stuff to his.
* Sunday’s big news was that Adrian Peterson suffered an ankle injury, which was made doubly frustrating by the fact that he missed out on most of a game’s worth of work that would’ve surely yielded more big stats. Apparently it’s a grade 1 high ankle sprain, so it could be worse. The words “high ankle sprain” are killers for fantasy running backs, but this one doesn’t sound horrible. According to Pro Football Talk he’ll likely miss a game. Hopefully that doesn’t interfere with your league’s playoff plans. Toby Gerhart is the add, but he’s never done much in limited replacement work in the past.
* Jay Cutler suffered a nasty thumb fracture trying to make a tackle after an interception. He will undergo surgery and miss the rest of your fantasy season. While the Bears are screwed, you needn’t feel too bad. As well as Cutler has been playing lately, there are other fish in the sea. There are quite a few comparable options out there, averaging nearly as much, or more, fppg than Cutler, and are widely available. Alex Smith (48% Yahoo! ownership), Andy Dalton (43%), Colt McCoy (31%) and Carson Palmer (64%) are some ideas.
* Fred Jackson was forced out with a calf injury Sunday, but he says it’s “all right.” The Bills are in must-win mode vs. another must-win team, the Jets, next week, so if Jackson can play, he will. There aren’t any obvious replacements who can do what Jackson does for Buffalo, but C.J. Spiller may see more RB work if Jackson can’t go.
* Greg Jennings suffered a knee bruise, and says he’ll “be fine.” That would be nice for the Packers, and Jennings owners. Green Bay gets a tasty, and sure-to-entertain matchup vs. the Lions on Turkey Day. If Jennings is limited due to the short week, expect Randall Cobb and Donald Driver to see slight upticks, but for Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley to remain the focal points of the Green Bay offense.
* Sources tell ESPN that Matt Hasselbeck suffered no structural damage to his elbow as part of the injury that forced him out of Sunday’s close loss to Atlanta. If Hasselbeck is good to go, you can add his name to the list of potential Cutler replacements on your fantasy squad; he’s as good or better than Cutler and gets the sputtering Tampa Bay Bucs this week.
* Three of the Eagles’ four most valuable fantasy options are hobbled. Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin sat out Sunday night’s win over New York, but both could return next week (both are “day to day” per Andy Reid on Monday). DeSean Jackson suffered a foot contusion but according to Andy Reid, it wasn’t a Lisfranc injury, and he could play next week.
Guys to Keep an Eye On
*****KEVIN SMITH*****RB DET (19% Yahoo! ownership): You’ve never seen the quintuple asterisks/all caps/all bold on a player I’ve recommended before, have you? Well, Smith is something special. He has a rare combination of big play potential, a valid claim to solo ownership of the featured role in a high-powered offense and wide availability. As I’ve said before, I’ve had a Smith fetish since his rookie year, and predicted a huge year for him his sophomore season. Unfortunately he was limited by injuries that year, and was eventually supplanted by rookie Jahvid Best the following season. But now, with rumors that Best could be out the rest of the year (still unfounded at this point) and Smith coming off of his best career game (201 total yards and three total TDs against the incredibly bad Panthers run D), he’s looking like a candidate for comeback player of the year. To be honest, and I hate to break this to Best owners, Smith looks (and has always looked) like a featured back, while Best has looked like a situational pass catcher. That’s not to say he can’t occasionally go off; he’s proven that he can. But the potential for Smith to absolutely take over the featured role, and be the answer to all of the Lions’ prayers is there. Why did they let him walk earlier? It’s his inconsistent performance over his first three seasons. But if Sunday was any indicator, he’s motivated. Get him now. Spend all your dollars. Put a claim in yesterday. You want him. Oh, and by the way, the Packers (Detroit’s Thursday opponent) are more susceptible to big plays, which Smith is apparently chock-full of, than we thought, after LeGarrette Blount gouged them on Sunday.
* Nate Burleson, WR DET (33%): I’ve suggested dropping Burleson before. Shows what I know. He’s become a useful fixture in a Lions passing offense that seems to have an unlimited ceiling. He’s now gone for double-digit fps in three of his last five, and gets GNB, NOR, MIN and OAK over the next four. He’s definitely a cheap fix for your flex position injury blues, and is more available than Brad Evans at a high school reunion.
* Jake Locker, QB TE (2%): Locker straight refused to join the Blaine Gabbert one-man club for sucktastic rookie QBs. Following Matt Hasselbeck’s early exit he tossed a couple TDs and 140 yards en route to a near-comeback vs. Atlanta. Now, I’m not saying you should add him and start him next week. If Hasselbeck plays you shouldn’t even add him. But very deep keeper leagues, two-QB start formats and deep, competitive leagues where you have bench space are all situations that warrant giving him a look.
* Toby Gerhart, RB MIN (7%): Gerhart is no stranger to high volume. He led the nation in rushing yards his senior year at Stanford and toted the rock a staggering 343 times (that’s 26 times a game!). But he’s been somewhat lukewarm in his only extensive NFL action. He cracked 75 rushing yards just twice last year, once in his lone start (filling in for Peterson who was out with, get this, an ankle injury). He also scored a TD in that game. But don’t get too worked up. The Vikes get a solid Atlanta team coming up. If you’re a Peterson owner and don’t have him, make him priority one, but don’t expect more than what he was doing last year, which is somewhere in the sub-20 fps neighborhood for PPR (you should actually be thrilled with any double digit output).
* Joe McKnight, RB NYJ (12%): McKnight had the best meaningful stat line of his career on Thursday night (not counting his pointless week 17 start last year). With both LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene on the mend coming into this week’s slate of games, McKnight deserves a spot on your watch list. Both of the Jets’ primary rushers seem likely to make full recoveries soon, but McKnight, despite his one lost fumble, has shown explosiveness, three-down capabilities and elite-level hands out of the backfield. I predicted him as a rookie to watch when he came out, and I’m not backing down. I think he’s the future “LT” role in this offense, as soon as late this year. Take a flier if you have room.
Guys You Can Go Ahead and Drop
* Jason Hill, WR JAC: The Jason Hill dream has not been realized. After going for three TDs in four games prior to his bye week, he’s since had just three catches over two games, including one gooseegg. Given his unpredictability, and the fact that all of the byes are now over, you shouldn’t need him.
* Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR OAK: DHB flirted with relevance, catching 22 balls and a TD over a four-game stretch earlier in the year. But since then he’s been near targetless, going 0-fer in Carson Palmer’s first two starts after the Raiders’ bye, and catching four passes on Sunday before going down to a minor injury. Even with Jacoby Ford out, there are too many average WR options in Oakland’s stable to rely on DHB, or even waste a roster spot on him in 10-team leagues. I don’t doubt he’ll have another useful line sometime, I just don’t want to wait on it.
* All Texans receivers not named Andre Johnson: When Andre Johnson first got injured the other Texans receivers showed signs of life. But recently Houston has learned that it can very easily live without forcing the ball to them…and they can instead just force the ball to one or both of their beastly RBs. Over the last two weeks Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones have totaled a combined six receptions for 126 yards and a score, and 80 of that and the TD came on one play to Jones. AJ should be good to go from here on out; the Texans were extra careful with his recovery. Considering Matt Leinart is the new QB, AJ will be lucky to maintain 100% of his luster. How do you think those unpredictable spare parts will fare?
* John Skelton, QB ARI: I’ve been on the record that Skelton is pretty good. And I still believe he’s no worse than Kevin Kolb. But that 6-19, 3-INT stinker on Sunday will have made up the Cardinals’ coaching staff’s minds about who to start this week. If Kolb can go, he’ll be out there vs. STL. What was once a potential QB controversy has turned into a pretty open-and-shut case. That’s the life of a backup. But then, you hopefully weren’t relying on him anyway.
My Fantasy World
Accumulative Record (three pay leagues): 14-19
Okay, so I have some explaining to do.
I’m 6-5 in the TFN league. I won this week, but didn’t improve my playoff outlook. I’m currently in 7th, and need to make a top-6 spot in order to make the playoffs. Next week is looking ugly. I play Pandamonium, and none of the teams I need to lose have tough matchups. That’s okay. I can go 1-1 and realistically make it in based on the last week’s games. Of the top 8 (of 12) teams, one is 8-3, three are 7-4, four are 6-5 and one is 5-6. But given how competitive and close this league is, I need to control my own destiny. If I win out, I’m guaranteed to make the playoffs. Even if all the teams close to me win their games, there will be two 9-4 teams (both ninjas, KCCB and Pandamonium) and four 8-5 teams (two of them the other two ninjas in the league, myself and Redbraham). That’s an absolute worst case scenario if I win out. And remember, this is the team that started 0-3 after drafting Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Knowshon Moreno, Mike Williams and Kenny Britt, and losing Arian Foster for the first three weeks. If I make the playoffs alone I’m a beast. If I make the Super Bowl, or win the league, I’m a legend. If I lose out, I’m still pretty satisfied with the season, given how horrible it started out for me.
In the League of Idiots I’m 5-6, but everyone makes the playoffs. I’m currently in third place in points and second place in points against. This week my team was without five of its six best players (Jeremy Maclin, Ahmad Bradshaw, Darren McFadden, Jimmy Graham and A.J. Green). There’s one week left before the playoffs commence, and if all of my injured players heal up before then, it’ll be tough for me to figure out who to start, let alone tough for people to beat me. With any luck McFadden and Bradshaw will get over their respective foot injuries at the right time, and I’ll easily run away with this league. I’m way better than everyone, but have been struck with the worst injury luck ever, losing four of my last five games thanks to injuries. Even still, if this were a standard league where only six teams made the playoffs I’d be in it, as I currently sit in the 6-seed.
In my big money league I’m totally out of it at 3-8. This may be my unluckiest team, if you can believe that given what you’ve heard about my other two teams. I’m second in this league in points against, and have endured injuries to Michael Vick, Peyton Hillis and Andre Johnson, and mediocrity from Roddy White, Mike Williams and Matt Ryan (at least in the beginning of the season).