Servings from the Buffett Table
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!
Five rookie running backs are among the top 24 fantasy runners
through Thanksgiving. At the same time, six runners often ranked
in the top 12 at preseason aren’t even close to climbing
into fantasy No. 1 RB territory between now and the end of the
season. And the “safe” No.1 pick – LaDainian
Tomlinson – is hanging onto the No. 12 spot for dear life
with rookies Chris Johnson and Steve Slaton hot on his heels.
Speaking of which, let me remind you of the value weighing RB
workloads from previous seasons and its impact on future performance
in future seasons (yes, “seasons” plural). Exhibits
A-E: Steven Jackson, Larry Johnson, Shaun Alexander, Edgerrin
James, and yes, LT.
Potential Turkeys Next Year
Scary, isn’t it? Here are players in danger of breaking
the workload barrier of 370 f-carries in 2008:
This is why I drafted Michael Turner this year, because I had a
feeling the combination of a young Falcons offense, a career-reserve
with something to prove, and a new ground-and-pound strategy that
Turner would approach that 370-carry total this year. If you missed
the Burner in 2008, I advise you not to get too enthusiastic about
this ride in 2009.
Clinton Portis is the player who really concerns me the most.
He’s proving to be such a warrior, playing through nagging
injuries and still producing like a stud. At his age and carries
for the course of his career, he’ll have to be the exception
to the rule to be worth what many will be valuing him next preseason.
Portis’ year-to-year projections remind me of Curtis Martin
– fantasy owners were always a year behind and always over-
or under-valuing him.
Just like most fantasy writers, it’s not solely about the
volume of things I get right or wrong, it’s the quality
of those picks and their impact. Adrian Peterson was my top fantasy
back in the preseason and he’s the only one of the preseason
consensus top-three actually performing at this level. Selfishly,
I hope Peterson is late to more meetings between now and week
16, because if he exceeds that 370-mark I know I’m going
to go against my better judgment and be high on him in 2009, especially
if they get a playoff-tested, quarterback.
Matt Forte has looked great. I’m just hoping Kyle Orton
gets it together down the stretch so the Bears don’t lean
too hard on the guy this early in his career. Come to think of
it, I hope Forte gets bench time this week: my opponent in my
local league has Portis and Forte and I have Turner and Peterson
– a regular clash of the Titans.
Speaking of Titans, we’re going to be hearing more awful
fat boy jokes involving imaginary incentive of turkey legs, dinner
tables, and stuffing dangled in the endzone with every Lendale
White prediction or highlight commentary.
Mystery Meat in the Gravy - Guess the Player
The first one is an analysis from “Football’s Future”
Dave-Te’ Thomas on a quarterback prospect drafted this decade.
I deleted the name of the player, his school, and made some minor
Positives... Touch passer with the ability
to read and diagnose defensive coverage...Confident leader who
knows how to take command in the huddle...Very tough and mobile
moving around in the pocket...Has a quick setup and is very effective
throwing on the move...Throws across his body with great consistency...Hits
receivers in stride and improvises his throws in order to make
a completion...Puts good zip behind the short and mid-range passes...Shows
good judgment and keen field vision...Has a take-charge attitude
and is very cool under pressure...Hits receivers in motion with
impressive velocity...Has superb pocket presence and uses all
of his offensive weapons in order to move the chains...Has solid
body mechanics and quickness moving away from center...Elusive
scrambler with the body control to avoid the rush.
Negatives... Plays in the spread offense, taking the bulk of his
snaps from the shotgun... Tends to side-arm his passes going deep...Lacks
accuracy and touch on his long throws... Seems more comfortable
in the short/intermediate passing attack...Does not possess the
ideal height you look for in a pro passer, though his ability
to scan the field helps him compensate in this area...Will improvise
and run when the passing lanes are clogged, but tends to run through
defenders rather than trying to avoid them to prevent unnecessary
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL... Despite his "shortcoming"
in the size department, he has put up impressive enough numbers
to generate first round consideration. Pittsburgh, Kansas City
(if they don't pull off the Trent Green trade) or Miami could
opt for him in the first round, but I am not convinced that he
will come anywhere close to matching his lofty collegiate figures
at the pro level. If those three teams pass on him, he will still
be on board when the second round opens.
Do you know who it is? I’ll give you a hint: My favorite
inaccurate assessment (and I’m not ragging on Thomas’
analysis too much, he’s made some excellent picks in the
past) is that he lacks accuracy and touch on his long throws.
Think you know who it is? Drop me a line – confirmation
of the answer next week.
Piling on the Stuffing
Don’t trade your studs unless
you are getting a king’s ransom in return: As I’m
watching Clinton Portis pile up the yards as of late, despite
not being healthy enough to practice, I thought about the trade
that brought him to Washington. The Denver Broncos haven’t
had the same back for more than two years since the Portis deal
and they arguably sent one of the best two backs in its franchise
history for Champ Bailey. At the time, Denver’s window of
contention for a championship was still open with Rod Smith, Jake
Plummer, and strong run-blocking offensive line that was churning
out 1000-yard rushers at will. Bailey was that shut down corner
that was supposed to elevate their defensive unit. The Broncos
came closer than the Redskins, but I believe in hindsight that
Denver had as good or better a chance if they kept Portis.
It’s clear to me that trading away a player rarely works
out unless you are getting the equivalent of a king’s ransom
in return. Here are some glaring examples of deals that support
Rams super stud Eric Dickerson was a part of a three-way trade
that brought him to Indianapolis. The Bills got “Biscuit”
LB Cornelius Bennett who helped anchor a terrific defense that
kept Buffalo in the hunt for a Super Bowl as long as any team
in recent memory. The Rams got a first-round pick in 1988 and
two first round picks and a second round pick in 1989. Three first
round picks and a second around pick sounds like a lot –
but their choices in the draft didn’t work out. They used
one pick in 1988 to get the UCLA star RB Gaston Green. That worked
so well, they picked Miami RB Cleveland Gary a year later. As
you can see they never replaced Dickerson and were shutout from
the playoffs for the next decade. Other than a playoff appearance
in Dickerson’s first year, the Colts didn’t return
until 1995 and Dickerson wasn’t even a part of the team.
If you’re looking for what a real treasure trove, let’s
talk about the infamous Herschel Walker to Minnesota for six conditional
draft picks that were spread over a three-year period. Dallas
also got a first-round pick in 1992 that yielded the foundation
for a Dallas dynasty: Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Kevin Smith,
and Darren Woodson. The only thing that came close to this in
recent years was Mike Ditka giving up his draft for Ricky Williams…
The New England Patriots traded Michael Haynes in 1983 for a
first – and third-round pick from the L.A. Raiders. Haynes
paired with Hayes led the Raiders to a Super Bowl and Haynes had
a Hall of Fame career (by the way, Lester Hayes, the other half
of that shutdown duo – is still not inducted, although still
on the most recent list of nominees making the cut). The Patriots
got Irving Fryar, who finally came close to fulfilling his promise
years later in Miami and Philadelphia, and Jonathan Wiliams whose
career lasted 9 games and he returned 23 kicks for 461 yards with
a long-gainer of 29 yards. He averaged the equivalent of a touchback
per return (okay, slightly more since he probably fielded the
ball outside the end zone).
The Rams traded Jerome Bettis and their 1996 third-round pick
to the Steelers for a 1996 second-round pick and a 1996 fourth-round
pick. Steelers got a decent blocking FB in Jon Wittman and the
Bus had a great career, culminating in a Super Bowl victory. The
Rams used those picks to get two players who were good for strong
rookie seasons, but not much else for their teams afterwards:
Eddie Kennison and Ernie Conwell. They also replaced Bettis with
their first-round pick Lawrence Phillips. Fortunately, I think
Dick Vermeil’s move to tell the owner that her astrologer
in the war room wasn’t working out and he’d find a
better one was genius. Otherwise, the Rams wouldn’t have
had those few years of glory in between all this misery. In 1997,
they selected Orlando Pace and Ryan Tucker; in 1998, got Grant
Wistrom, Leonard Little, and Az Hakim; and in 1999, picked Torry
Holt and Dre Bly. Saturn’s opposition to their third house
of commerce must have finally transited out, don’t you think?
Part of that genius was to do onto the Colts what the Steelers
did on to them. They somehow convinced Indiannapolis to deal Marshall
Faulk to the Rams for a second-rounder and fifth rounder. That
second-rounder yielded Mike Peterson, but he’s now on the
bench with the Jags (a real service to the Colts). Brad Scioli
was the fifth rounder. Imagine Manning, Faulk, and Harrison…I
loved Edge, but it’s not like the Colts got any better defensively
through this deal. That Rams astrologer sure wasn’t something,
The Raiders traded Moss for a fourth round pick in the 2007 draft.
I think it yielded them John Bowie, the DB out of Cincinnati,
or Michael Bush. I’m thinking Bowie. Either way, you can
add both together and Al Davis still must feel like he just finished
having a rough prostate exam.
A Post Meal Frostee - Wendy’s Value Players
of the Week
I noticed this ad on the FFToday website,
so I thought I’d find out who they were. Not sure I’d
say Brett Favre is a value play unless you’re accustomed
to having the equivalent of fantasy filet mignon fed to you each
week. But the rest of the quarterbacks are decent picks, I must
admit with the exception of JaMarcus Russell. I think he’ll
actually make the Chiefs defense look a little better. I’ll
go along with the runners, but you can’t put Lance Moore
as your receiver value pick and expect people to think he’s
some unheard of commodity. At least they spelled Berrian correctly…
Always Room for More Dessert – What Can
Brown Do for You
Looking for a back that might come out this year and could be
a good mid-round sleeper in the NFL draft? Donald Brown of UConn
is my pick. Check out this package of highlights
against Virginia this year. I have a few more games to watch
of him for my 2009 research, but Brown has the quickness, change
of direction, balance, and vision to be a promising pro prospect.
He also has to be the offense for the Huskies and he is accustomed
to facing stacked defensive fronts. He’s also shown substantial
improvement with the small details in his game. Whether it’s
this year or next, Brown is a guy to keep an eye on.