Triage in the Aftermath of Week One
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!
Way too much happened during the first week (and the resulting aftermath)
not to discuss. Let’s start with a bit of triage in the fantasy
emergency room. I have a few thoughts and then we’ll handle
the rest Q&A style from my overflowing fantasy e-mail sack.
My Matt Cassel Strategy
You really want to take a chance on an unproven quarterback like
Cassel? Tom Brady, Kurt Warner, Marc Bulger, Brett Favre, and
even Johnny Unitas (the Steelers cut him) were unlikely starters
the preseason before they took over their respective jobs and
they did well, right? This is true. Itís also true that each of
these players actually started for their college football teams.
Even if Matt
Cassel is more like Scott Mitchell than Tom Brady, that wonít
be a bad thing for most fantasy owners looking for a quarterback.
Just donít count on Cassel as a long-term solution.
Don't count on Cassel as a long-term solution
for your fantasy QB.
The problem I have with taking my chances on Cassel as a starter
have as much to do with the Patriots organization as Cassel not
seeing a college football field as a starter. New England is the
CIA of NFL teams Ė everything they do is clandestine. Chris Simms
and Tim Rattay come to New England to work out the day after Brady
goes down and Chris Mortensen reports that general manager Scott
Pioli tells them the situation has changed and sends them packing.
How it changed, we donít know. Did they finish their film evaluation
of Cassel just as the two journeymen quarterbacks entered the
facility and saw enough to determine they already had their guy
on the roster? Could be. Did they call Daunte
Culpepper or another signal caller and give him the word to
get ready if Cassel doesnít look over the course of the next two
to three games? Could be. We just wonít know until Pioli retires
and writes a memoir twenty years from now.
Then there is the genius of Bill Belicheck. While is brand of
genius may not come with an endearing personality in front of
the cameras, heís great at making strategic adjustments. Just
two years ago, the Patriots were a balanced offense that won with
guys like J.R. Redman, Antowain Smith, Patrick Pass, Deion Branch,
David Givens, and Bethel Johnson. Brady deserves credit, but so
do Belicheck and his coaching staff. They arguably have a better
corps of runners and itís a no-brainer the receivers are miles
ahead of their predecessors. Itís quite possible the Patriots
abandon their high-flying ways. I believe theyíll continue running
their current offense for as long as Cassel shows heís capable,
but if there is a team that is likely to make a radical change
in philosophy on a dime, itís New England.
If you had Brady, you likely picked him in round one. Itís
also likely you waited very late to pick a second quarterback,
which means there wonít be many appealing waiver wire options
available to you right now. You may not have a lot of depth to
package and trade for an unquestioned, fantasy starter. Here are
the best bargains youíll have a chance to obtain via trade:
He has a running game, solid offensive line, and enough at receiver
to hold down the fort until Steve Smith comes back. He didnít
have a great game statistically in week one, so you have a shot
to get him at a reasonable price. Roll the dice, because I believe
Carolina will be a playoff team. The running game will only improve
and this will give Delhomme time to pick apart the opposition.
Philip Rivers: He has the weapons and I have mentioned all summer
that Ladainian Tomlinson (while still excellent) has shown his
first chinks in the armor. Rivers may never be a great quarterback,
but take advantage of his less than glamorous image among fantasy
owners. Heíll keep your team steady throughout the year.
Eli Manning: Thereís still some bias against Manning. If
you get someone who isnít enamored with Manning, give him
a reason to give him to you. He may not be a superstar, but he
has improved enough that heíll have a few outings that will
leave you with the impression that your trade partner gave you
the wrong Manning.
Vince Young and Kerry Collins
Collins will boost the value of the two Justins (McCariens and
Gage) because he is a more accurate downfield thrower. Paired
with a physical ground game and a defense that beat up the Jaguars,
Collins should be a quick fix if you believe Cassel wonít
be the answer in New England for the rest of the season. As for
Young, Iím waiting to see why his mom is doing his talking
for him. This could be a classic case of a parent being emotionally
over protective and unintentionally making her child look worse.
It could also be what football fans fear. Personally, I was glad
they picked Young over Leinart, but it was still a consolation
for me when they opted against Cutler. This story about Vince
Young is still developing and until I hear Young, Fisher, or a
Tennessee Titan corroborate, Iím not overreacting. Terry
Bradshaw, John Elway, and Steve Young hat rough beginnings to
their careers and they eventually thrived. Youngís mechanics
are worse, but you donít make a Pro Bowl as a rookie unless
you have skills. He needs to ignore the media and keep working.
Marques Colston and Drew Brees
Donít worry about Brees. Heís like McNabb and Manning
if the offensive line remains healthy, heíll pick you apart
with nobodies as his receivers. Patten, Shockey, Bush, Moore,
Henderson, Copper, and Meachem will keep Brees an effective fantasy
starter. Colston should be in excellent shape when he returns.
His conditioning routine shouldnít be hampered by his injury.
E-mail Questions (some of these were paraphrased
or summarized to be more efficient for your eyes)
Q: Hi Matt,
Uh-oh. Looks like I didn't escape the injury bug with my team.
Colston is a big loss. All the Saints receivers are available
on the waiver wire (Patten, Meachem, Henderson). Which, of any
of those guys might you take in his place...or would you go a
different direction and take another WR off the wire from another
team. Thanks for your help.
Picked up Gage last week. Here is my team right now.
QB: Jon Kitna
RBs: A Peterson, R Bush, C Perry (R), D Williams (R), E James
WRs: A Johnson, C Johnson, M Colston, J Gage (R), Reg. Williams
TE: L.J. Smith
So, Iím not sure if I should drop Reggie Williams for Patten.
That is what I am debating. Or maybe try trading E. James or D.
Williams for a TJ Hous- type receiver. So I guess it comes down
to this. If you can only keep 2 of 3 out of the Gage, Williams,
Patten group, who gets dropped?
I know you like Meachem from your article, but I didn't want to
assume you would take him first without checking first.
A: Jon, I like Patten out of
the trio of Saints receivers. He has the best rapport with Brees.
Plus he has developed into a smart receiver in a Derrick Mason
sort of way: quicker than fast, good hands, and continues working
when the play breaks down. Heís the most likely to replace Colston
for the short term. You could try a trade, but your receivers
are decent enough to initially consider riding out a quarter to
half the fantasy season with what you get off the waiver wire.
Iíd make some offers with the RBs you mentioned, but only if you
land a player who is a big step up from Gage and Williams. With
Kerry Collins starting for the next 2-4 weeks, Gage should become
a bigger factor, which is why I wouldnít be too urgent to make
a deal just yet.
Q: My Team: QBs Jay Cutler, David Garrard,
T. Edwards RBs M. Lynch, M. Barber, R. Grant, M. Forte, A. Bradshaw
WRs S. Holmes, J. Cotchery, J. Galloway, Bryant Johnson, J. Gage,
Kevin Walter TEs Antonio Gates, Owen Daniels, Z. Miller DEFs Minnesota,
Rules: 6 pts for touchdowns, 1pt per 10 yards except TE gets 3
pts for over 10 yards. I get 10 bonus points for over 100 rushing
and receiving, and 300 yards passing. I get 5 bonus pts for 10
Lineup: 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 or 3 WR, 0 or 1 TE, DEF, K
Situation: I can trade Grant and Holmes for Maroney or Julius
Jones and my choice of Randy Moss, Braylon Edwards, or Plax
A: Omari, Make the trade if
you believe that Moss will remain a consistent player with an
unproven QB. It's a gamble because Matt Cassel didnít start a
football game since high school. At least Tom Brady played extensively
at Michigan. Cassel was rumored to be a Norm Chow favorite when
it came down to developing a QB after Carson Palmer left campus,
but Peter Carroll gave Matt Leinart the nod. Odds are against
Cassel from being the same kind of player as Brady. In fact odds
are against Cassel playing as well as a say, Kerry Collins will
as Vince Youngís sub. And we know Collins is not on the same plane
Santonio Holmes will be a fine player this year and you have
great depth at your RB position, which you might need with Barber's
punishing style. Mossí skills are unquestioned, but the QB situation
is iffy. I would recommend you go to the box score of last week's
game and see how many targets, completions, yards, and scores
Moss had with Cassel. It might give you a bit of a clue of what
to do. At the same time, itís a decent deal for a player with
Mossí potential. Since you have Forte as a viable third RB, itís
worth the risk. I would probably do it after weighing all of thisÖalthough
by no means is it a lock.
Q: Hi Matt - what do you think of this
trade offered to me?
I give up Kevin.Smith and Brandon Marshall and I get Chris Perry
and Larry Fitzgerald. Right now I'm starting Brees, ADP, Edge,
K.Smith (flex), Edwards, Marshall, V.Davis, Tennesseeís defense,
and Matt Pater.
My bench has Stewart, Norwood, Hightower, Rodgers, Burleson, Mason,
McMichael, and the Ravens defense
The presence of Rudi kind of puts a damper on Smith's upside...just
how much is the question. What do you think of Smith's value relative
to Perry and Fitzgerald relative to Marshall? Is there much chance
Cinci picks up another RB to bolster the Perry/Watson combo, thereby
hurting Perry's appeal?
If I did make the trade, would you play Perry or Stewart at flex?
Thanks a lot!
A: John, Marshall and Edwards
should suit you just fine but the chance to get Fitzgerald paired
with Edwards and use Jonathan Stewart as your flex player is probably
worth the deal. Stewart averaged a gaudy 5.3 yards per carry last
week against a decent Chargers run defense. Perry will make a
decent back up, but the deal really isnít for Perry Ė itís for
Fitzgerald. What you have to ask yourself is whether you believe
Fitzgerald is that much of an upgrade to Marshall. With the way
Cutler played Monday night with receivers fantasy owners either
didnít want (Jackson) or barely heard of (Eddie Royal), it appears
to be a tougher decision than one might initially think. Personally,
Iíd rather have Fitzgerald because heís decent with or without
Warner in the lineup. Will Marshall be as good with Patrick Ramsey?
I donít think so. Iíd make the deal and consider Stewart as the
flex until Cincinnati figures out its offensive line woes.
I still like Kevin Smith and did not sour on him after the Atlanta
debacle. While he only averaged three yards per carry, he didnít
look bad in the game. The problem is Detroitís defense was so
atrocious that they had to abandon their game plan and I believe
this will often be the case for the first half of the season.
On the other hand, I was bullish on the Panthers in the preseason
and believe Stewart and Williams will be the NFC equivalent of
the 2006-2007 tandem of Fred Taylor-Maurice Jones Drew. Iíd make
Q: Hey Matt,
I grew up a 5- minute walk through the woods to "Schaeffer
Stadium" and my dad was a Pats season ticket holder. Basically,
I'm a lifelong Pats fan, and in my 4th season playing Fantasy,
I made a bold, out-of-character decision and took Brady with the
5th overall pick.
It's obviously been a painful few days, but I'm trying to regroup
and circle the wagons, and would love some insight into my situation.
I drafted Eli as my backup, and I have the 1st pick on the Waiver
Wire this week, so I can get Cassel. I'm just not sure if he's
the right choice. I watched him all pre-season and he was horrible.
He was clearly outplayed by Matt Gutierrez, who ended up on the
practice squad. I'm hearing some local rumors that Gutierrez will
be activated this week. He did play well against KC, and is surrounded
by lots of playmakers in the passing game - Moss, Welker, Gaffney,
Watson, Maroney, Faulk...I think the Pats will run the ball a
lot more and ask Cassel to try to manage the game a little more,
but when you have Randy Moss, you've got to get him the ball somehow....I'm
torn, and I feel like my Pats Fandom may be interfering with sound
Here are some other available QBs in my league. I have my pick
of any of them...what are your thoughts?
Chad Pennington - The guy is accurate, and he has a few weapons...but
he's in a new offense and is injury prone.
Trent Edwards - The Bills looked great against a pretty strong
Seattle D. After reading your article, I can see you're a fan
Jeff Garcia - I've owned him as a backup in the past, and like
his scrappiness, I just worry about his durability.
Tarvaris Jackson - The Vikings look talented, and I know he threw
that pick, but he could be a reality dud and a fantasy stud...no?
- The Skins looked rough. I'm a Cooley owner in another league,
so I watched every second of this one. Sidenote: I've known Campbell's
backup Todd Collins since I was 7 years old, and played football
with him at Walpole High School. He also grew up about a mile
from Gillette. I was hoping the Pats would try to sign him in
the offseason, but the Skins gave him a pretty big payday to stay
after his relief duty last year.
Joe Flacco - I haven't been a big fan of the Ravens offense the
last few years from a Fantasy perspective, but he looked pretty
Matt Ryan - Obviously, the 62 yd TD on the first play skews the
stats a bit, but with that rushing attack as the primary focus,
he could have some productive weeks.
I'd appreciate any thoughts if you have time. Considering that
Eli is my backup and I have the #1 WW pick this week...I guess
it could be worse.
A: Eli looked good Michael,
but of the QBs listed I'd either take Edwards or Cassel. Edwards
can flat-out play, but he lacks the weapons that the Pats have.
At least you know the Bills won't replace Edwards this year. Cassel
will likely play the year, but he might be a stopgap until they
find someone better. Hard do say with the tight-lipped Pats. The
safe play is Edwards. The roller coaster is Jackson because he
can run. I'd go Eli and Trent, but that's just me. Good job getting
Manning as your back up even with Brady.
Could be worse, you could have been a Browns fan in the 80s…