Get It? Got It? Good!
The “Gut Feeling” is often synonymous with a sense
of desperation resulting from a lack of preparation. The Gut Check
is a huge proponent of studying the numbers, but there’s
a point where one can place too much emphasis on the wrong information.
This can result in the undervaluing or overlooking a player’s
potential. Therefore, The Weekly Gut Check is devoted to examining
the frame of reference behind certain number-driven guidelines
that fantasy football owners use to make decisions.
Although The Weekly Gut Check doesn’t claim to be psychic,
he does believe that he can dispel certain numbers biases and
help you make the best choices for your team. We’ll keep
a running tally of The Weekly Gut Check’s insights. This
way you can gauge his views as something to seriously consider,
or at least seriously consider running the opposite way as fast
as you can!
Want some meaningful stats? So do I, but wait until October. A statistical
trend minimally consists of three scheduled measurements and I’m
not going to sell you on the merits of Derek Anderson. Instead here’s
some observations that I hope will help you when it’s time
to make some personnel decisions. Get it? Got it? Good.
Highest Producing Runners Have A Strong Offensive Line And/Or
Play For An Offense With Balance Between Run And Pass
(AKA-Why LJ And Action Jackson Can
Make You A Dumbass This Year)
Will Shields, Willie Roaf, Orlando Pace, and Alan Faneca. They
are the reasons you know Larry Johnson, Steven Jackson, and Willie
Parker. Get It? It doesn’t hurt when you have quarterbacks
who make smart decisions like Trent Green, Marc Bulger, and Ben
Roethlisberger. Two out of the three signal callers were Mike
Martz pupils, which we’ll talk more about later, and those
backs in the Martz-Al Saunders system can catch the football.
When you remove Shields, Roaf, and Pace from the equation and
their replacements will be the first among a list of unfamiliar
names filling these spots until these franchises find a suitable
replacement, you’re witnessing a noticeable decline in fantasy
production from the ground game. Why? Opposing teams know they
can load the box to stop the run and force KC and St. Louis to
try to beat them with a vulnerable pass protection or lack of
experienced skill players on the outside. Got It?
So what are you options? Trade LJ and Steven Jackson for a back
like Willie Parker—yes, the same Willie Parker who continues
to leave me looking like a complete dumbass for doubting him.
I just have to remind myself that as much as LJ or Steven Jackson
would perform like Jim Brown (LJ) and Ricky Williams (Jackson)
if paired with the Steelers offense, they aren’t in Pittsburgh.
Take the guy in Pittsburgh (and if you can get Davenport as well,
all the better). Good, you’re welcome…
Mike Martz Coached Qbs Are Fantasy Studs
AKA—Norv Tuner Coached Qbs Are
I love how the media treats Norv Turner like Yoda and Mike Martz
like Doc Brown from Back to The Future, because it’s
true. From strictly a football standpoint, Norv Turner is recognized
for creating balanced offenses that emphasize a strong running
game with a featured back lulling defenses into a place where
the passing game can go right over their heads for a the long
score or pick them apart with precision passes 15 yards downfield.
But the aerial attack is the complementary weapon—just ask
Emmitt Smith, Stephen Davis, Ricky Williams, Frank Gore, and now
LT. Get it?
Better yet ask Troy Aikman, Brad Johnson, Jay Fiedler, and Alex
Smith. Any of these quarterbacks lead your fantasy teams to glory
in the past without a two backs like Emmitt Smith, Stephen Davis,
Ricky Williams, or Frank Gore in your starting lineup? Got it?
So don’t be surprised if you characterize a difficult fantasy
season in ’07 with the explanation of your symptoms as being
high on Philip Rivers. The actual condition is being high on Norv
Turner. If you want to have a good trip, Mike Martz is your supplier:
Kurt Warner, Marc Bulger, and John Kitna have been far better
for your fantasy squad. You have to love Martz if you have your
QB on his squad, because he’ll throw the ball in down and
distance situations that make football play by play analysts go
into Turrette-like convulsions. I just look at it as doubling
my pleasure: a passing score for my fantasy QB and Troy Aikman
revealing some long-harbored envy. Good for me!
Joey Harrington Is A Receiver-Killer
AKA—Trent Green Is Saving Chris
Harrington has played with Roy Williams and Chris Chambers and
neither had great seasons with the former first round draft pick.
Williams’ best year came with Jon Kitna and Chambers was
a stud-in-training with, of all quarterbacks, Jay Fiedler under
center. Once Harrington hit town, Chambers had one of the most
disappointing follow-ups to a great season for a receiver in recent
memory. Joe Horn isn’t any more over the hill than Isaac
Bruce, Derrick Mason, Amani Toomer, or until recently, Rod Smith.
But Horn has Joey Piano under center and they aren’t playing
in the same key. Get it what I’m saying?
Trent Green on the other hand extended Eddie Kennison’s
career, which could very well be a bigger accomplishment than
making the pro bowl. Kennison has played for St. Louis, Chicago,
and Denver (where he retired to get out of town) and by far his
best stretch of play has been with Green in KC. Chris Chambers
is Eddie Kennison with good hands. You got me?
While Green is a temporary option in Miami until rookie John
Beck has a year or two to get acclimated to the pros, the journeyman
QB is already making Chambers a viable fantasy receiver early
in 2007. I anticipate Chambers having some big days as the season
wears on—and that’s definitely good.
David Garrard Ain’t Bad, But His
Receivers Ain’t Good
AKA—Six From Garrard, Half Dozen
David Garrard is the 14th-ranked fantasy producer at the quarterback
position right now. About the same spot you’d commonly find
Byron Leftwich during his seasons as Jacksonville’s starter.
Little has changed in Jacksonville. The running game is solid,
if not at times spectacular. The defense is big, bad, and often
overworked. Two receivers are on their way to becoming spectacular
flops and the other two are journeyman. None of them seem to stay
in the rotation long enough to have a feel for their quarterback.
Jack Del Rio is gone after this year. He force the team to part
ways with a first round draft pick/potential franchise player
who they didn’t protect, didn’t give good receivers,
and switched coordinators more times than Morten Andersen has
gone in and out of retirement. I was initially a fan of Del Rio,
but this offense severely underachieved—Matt Jones and Reggie
Williams epitomize what I’m saying here. If David Garrard
were really that much better than Leftwich, they would have dumped
the Marshall signal caller 2 years ago. The problem is that’s
a lie—Leftwich has had moments of excellence despite the
fact his receivers didn’t run good routes or catch the football.
True, Leftwich was a statue in the pocket and his wind up reminded
you of Dontrelle Willis more than Dan Marino, but he was tough
and demonstrated the ability to lead his team in the 4th quarter.
Funny enough, when Del Rio is gone and the Jags hire a new coach,
it’s quite probable Jacksonville will be drafting in the
top 10 and their first selection will be Brian Brohm or Matt Ryan.
Not good for David Garrard, but a good chance to build around
Maurice Jones Drew amd Mike Walker.
Get’em Now-Give‘em Up
Here’s my take on five players owners are ready to dump,
but shouldn’t and five who are off to a good start, but
have owners overly confident. Sharpen those negotiation skills
and you could wind up in a better situation, if I’m right
about these guys.
Drew Brees: At this stage of the season, Brees has stats on par
with a low-end fantasy backup and he’s scaring the bejeezus
out of fantasy owners who likely selected this field general somewhere
in the first five to six rounds of their drafts. Ten points against
the Colts was woefully uninspiring, and eighteen against the Bucs
was only moderately better (FFToday Default scoring). But if you
give Brees at this stage of the season, you’re throwing
in the towel on your season unless you got a steal of a deal for
a quarterback on par with him.
Despite his slow start, Brees completed 68% of his passes against
the Colts and 59% against the Bucs. Speaking of the Tampa game,
Brees had nearly the same number of attempts and completions but
netted 70 additional yards in the air. This means the offensive
line gave him a bit more time to throw down field and Brees took
advantage. It’s worth noting in
2006 Brees was hardly off to a great fantasy start in two
out of his first three games—and neither Cleveland nor Atlanta
were defenses most would have told you to bench the Saints QB
due to a difficult match up. In addition, Brees’ last two
full starts in the regular season for ’06 were his worst
games of the year, scoring no more than 10 points in each.
Just remind yourself that even the better quarterbacks in fantasy
football can have bad stretches. This is a team with the same
offensive firepower as last year. They looked like they were ready
to set the fantasy world on fire in the preseason, but tune-ups
against the Bengals can make a team look and feel deceived about
their in-season readiness. If you want Brees at a cheaper price,
I’d suggest talking about the poor play of the offensive line
and the fact Vince Young and Matt Hasselbeck—two QBs supposedly
inferior to Brees as fantasy producers—had bigger days against
Indy and Tampa, respectively. Use the whole “opposing teams are
stopping the run to make them throw” routine and see if the owner
bites. It shouldn’t take much for panicky owner to give up Brees,
but in most cases you will have to give up a decent player or
two because even now you won’t steal him away. Brees should be
worth the price.
McNabb: The Eagles receivers haven’t been able to catch the
football or get decent separation. That’s the main problem. I
do think McNabb has shown some rust with his timing and is letting
go of the ball a little late, but this should improve. May I remind
you the Eagles played two of the better defenses in the NFC in
the first two weeks? The Giants and Cowboys are much easier against
the pass and McNabb has four weeks worth of match ups for fantasy
owners to enjoy.
Although McNabb failed to reach pay dirt with any of his passes,
his completion percentage against the ‘Skins was up to 60%
(from 45% against the Pack) and his yardage totals were much better
as well. Plus there’s the minor media tizzy about McNabb’s
comments about the African American experience as an NFL quarterback.
If you compete with an owner who reminds you of John Tuturro’s
character in Do The Right Thing when it comes to African American
athletes then take advantage of his ignorance—serves him
right anyhow the way I see it—and give up a bit to get McNabb.
Of course there are a few good reasons why you might not want
to do this, too. He’s still recovering from the ACL tear and a
chance of a setback is possible. Nor does McNabb have a good track
record of finishing a season. Thus far Kevin Curtis and Reggie
Brown are looking more like Todd Pinkston and James Thrash than
T.O. and Donte Stallworth. McNabb is a higher risk than Brees,
but you should also be able to get him cheaper for all these reasons,
if you can convince yourself he’s worth the risk.
LaDainian Tomlinson: Beside the fact he normally averages less
than 4 yards a tote during the first two games of any season he’s
played thus far, he’s faced the Bears in Chicago and the
Patriots after the media goaded them into proving a point. Tomlinson
will come around soon. Unless you have the skills of Clive Owen
in Spike Lee’s heist film from two years ago, you aren’t
likely to get Tomlinson very cheap. If you own him now, you know
you are pricing higher than his current market value based on
two weeks of performance. So hold onto Tomlinson and let him get
warmed up, otherwise you’re going to feel sick to your stomach
when he’s running wild by the end of September.
Bush: Admittedly, Bush is scaring me right now. He’s dancing
in the backfield in the pros more than he ever did as a Trojan.
Hell, at one point in the Indy game, Sean Payton benched Bush
and threw the ball to Aaron Stecker to have the journeyman show
the all-purpose back what it means to take the yardage available
to him with more decisive runs. Despite the fact Bush has looked
more like the early stages of his rookie season, don’t give up
on him too early. He’s too smart of a football player not to come
around soon. Every talking head on radio and tv seems to be begging
for more carries for McAllister, but the problems begin with the
offensive line. Bush has already shown is the type of player capable
of stringing together excellent weeks. I wouldn’t pass up on that
probability, because the Saints should get back on track in a
Late Night Larry was basically ignored versus the 49ers, so his
respectable 87-yard effort against Seattle doesn’t really show
up in his 2-game totals in comparison to huge games from Moss,
Smith, or Chad Johnson. But the way I view it, the Niners have
a strong secondary and Matt Leinart got off to a poor start. Here’s
another productive player who will get his soon. Don’t make any
foolish moves to give him up.
Put On The Trading Block
The Carolina Panther looks like he’s reviving his career, but
if you believe his touchdown to interception ratio of 6:1 is going
to stay that way, you’re the guy that is likely to give up Drew
Brees or McNabb for a package of guys that includes Delhomme.
Houston’s secondary is still horrible and we know St. Louis has
long had problems in the defensive backfield. Play up the fact
that Delhomme looks like last year was an aberration and get rid
of him before he goes sour. He should be decent against the Falcons
this week, but I’d say you have a 2-3 week expiration date on
his stellar play, at best.
Peterson (MIN): I hate to act like Merrill Hoge does with
Vince Young. In fact I’m not, because I love Peterson’s potential.
But this year, we’re already hearing about his inability to protect
the passer and lack of patience as a runner inside just after
week two. Peterson did have decent totals in week two, but he
didn’t set the world on fire either. A lot of owners currently
perceive AD as a high-end #2 RB in a starting lineup. Personally,
I see him as a low-end #2, at best. He has yet to face Green Bay
or Chicago’s tough defensive fronts and his best game came against
the Falcon’s weak front seven. May take could backfire of Kelly
Holcomb plays like he’s shown he’s capable in spurts, because
he’ll force defenses to play more honest against the pass. But
there is a reason Holcomb has been a career back up and I’m not
expecting a Rich Gannon-like renaissance from the former Colt,
Brown, Bill, and Eagle. I have a tough time believe Chester Taylor
will remain permanently on the bench after he heals soon.
Ahman Green: The Texans are much improved and Ahman Green has
been posting solid totals. I’d play up the fact that Schaub
has opened up the run with his ability to go downfield (although
the passing attack stretches the field more laterally than vertically
in Kubiak’s version of the west coast offense) and Green
gets to face the weak AFC South defenses of Indy and Tennessee
(although neither look too weak at this point, you may find an
owner who buys it). If you are thinking “I want to play
in your league if owners fall for this,” then you’re
in a normal, competitive situation and the other ploy I’d
recommend is that the Texans defense has improved and this should
keep the offense in games long enough to continue running the
football. This probably won’t work either, considering their
opponents included KC to start the year. So unless the owner is
desperate, I think you’re stuck with Green and hopefully
he’s a luxury pick as a #3 RB-flex/bye-week option.
Braylon Edwards: He only plays the Bengals one more time…enough
said. He’s a good prospect, but the QB carousel is far from
over in Cleveland. Ditch him quick.
Derrick Ward: His expiration date is likely sometime late next
month. If you need to shore up your WRs, QB, or need a quality
TE act now when Ward’s value is highest. Otherwise, you’ll
get the “Ward only has two weeks of use left, he’s
not worth what you’re asking” response.