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!
Every week there are items that don’t make my column in lieu
of the fact I’m writing about a specific topic. This week
there is no large topic. There will be a more thematic topic next
week, but today is clearing away the odds and ends that include
random opinions, advice on a handful of players, and even a non-traditional
game day recipe.
Playing By The Rules
Plaxico Burress deserves his suspension. If don’t show
up to work and don’t call, you earned your punishment. What
makes him more important than the single parent that has two jobs
and has to call if he or she is going to miss their scheduled
work time or get fired? If your answer is ‘he’s a
million-dollar athlete that is an integral part of his team’,
then you don’t get what I am saying.
The Unwritten Rule of Retaliation
Harrison said Ricky Williams’ block on Mike Vrabel was dirty.
Once you stop laughing that Rodney Harrison is making this point
– it’s like Larry Flynt calling an adult magazine ‘obscene’ –
you should look at the play on NFL.com. I didn’t think it was
a dirty play – if anything it was a high effort play. Although
Vrabel wasn't likely to catch Brown, there was no guarantee Brown
doesn't stumble, lose the ball, or come up lame during the run
and slow down significantly before he reaches the end zone. Brown
wasn't in the endzone; he was at the 25-yard line when Ricky dove
for Vrabel’s legs.
Just because the team didn't expect the Dolphins - namely Williams
- to show that much effort to go full speed in the 4th QTR with
a big lead and make a play that any coach would applaud him for
doing tells you that they are simply upset about getting their
butts whipped. Yes, the hit to the legs was the point of contention,
but Williams got in front of Vrabel and no other player was engaged
with the defender at the time of the hit.
And if you don't believe what I just said about it not being
a dirty play, then just call it retaliation for what you see at
0:28 of this highlight
reel and you'll understand why Vrabel got what he got. I’m
a Vrabel fan and his late hit was clearly a dirty play. I am not
saying Ricky Williams was right to do what he did, but to borrow
the logic of those of you who might defend Burress, it’s
the nature of the league.
Wildcatting the Offense
Outsiders writer Doug Farrar provides the best explanation
of the Wildcat/Single Wing plays from the Dolphins-Patriots and
Raiders-Bills games that I have seen this week. It is notable
the analysis theorizes these conclusions:
a) The Dolphins implemented and executed a more complex and effective
use of his formation than the Raiders.
b) The Bills were a faster defense that made better adjustments
to the Raiders formations.
Like Farrar, I also look forward to seeing how the use of this
formation develops as the season progresses. If the play is a
simply gimmickry, defenses will shut it down within the next month.
If it continues to work, one could link its effectiveness to the
influx of talented backs and the league’s increased adaptation
of a running back by committee approach.
If I were a betting man, my money would be on the defenses. I
remember when the option or the pitch out to the back running
in the opposite direction of the line shift were plays that were
effective in highly specific down and distance situations, but
disappeared as quickly as they arrived.
Guys My Age
The only two players still active in the NFL who were drafted
in 1991 are Brett Favre and John Kasay. They’re not only
active, but also productive. Do you remember the two quarterbacks
drafted ahead of Favre in the first round? Seattle picked Dan
McGwire, a 6-8, 240-pound, novelty act from San Diego State and
Todd Marinovich, the USC wunderkind-cautionary tale for overzealous,
football fathers. Neither player ever started a full season for
Never Again Will I …
… Pick a quarterback with a college career running the
spread formation. As an NFL insider I had the pleasure of speaking
with last week said to me, if they can’t sit in the pocket
and deliver the football downfield with accuracy, they won’t
last long in the league. Since he’s been involved in the
game almost as long as I’ve been alive and I’m beginning
to come to the same realization, I’ll skip the rest of the
steps and take his word for it.
… Answer e-mail questions about who to start/sit/add/drop
from people who don’t have enough class to say ‘Hello’,
‘Matt’, ‘please’, ‘thank you’,
and end the e-mail with their name. If I – or any other
person you e-mail – take the time to answer your question
with a personalized response, take the time to personalize your
question. If you think this is dumb to mention, I’m probably
the most responsive writer in this industry when it comes to answering
e-mail questions and I’ve been doing it for five years without
saying a word about this kind of behavior until now.
…Select Edgerrin James in a draft again and I’m sad
to say it. He was a staple of some of the best fantasy teams I’ve
fielded, but his career as a fantasy starter is over. It’s
a shame the Colts didn’t keep him one more year.
…Take a player the year after he posts a record season.
The odds of him even coming close to that production are too small.
I Can’t Wait…
…To see Harry Douglas be a more integral part of the Falcons
offense. He’ll develop into the true fantasy threat.
…To see ESPN to allow Steve Young to stop dying his hair.
The past two weeks the camera lights gave his hair a purple hue.
And Steve, if Brett Favre looks like George Blanda at the end
of his career and is still play, you can stop using Just For
Henry to come off suspension and take over for Chad Ocho Cinco
(I throw up in my mouth just a little bit everything I have write
or say that name) whose labrum has to be bothering him more than
he’s letting on. Why else would they not-so-coincidentally, bring
back Henry after Ocho Cinco got hurt? It wasn’t for his community
…For someone to e-mail me with the name of a receiver in
the NFL who performed at a high level with a torn labrum. I heard
ESPN say it has been done, but I didn’t catch them give
an example. Nor have I seen someone provide an example in writing.
…To make a return visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It has been more than 30 years since my first trip.
I Will Always…
…Wait until at least round four to draft my first quarterback.
This year I recommended Brees, Roethlisberger, and McNabb –
so far, two out of three ain’t bad.
…Wonder why I can’t stop dropping 1-3 ‘unknown’
players too early in the season and come to regret it later when
they become true commodities.
…Miss playing fantasy football the way it was done prior
to computers being an essential part of the average American’s
If I Were You…
…I would pick up Tennessee LB Stephen Tulloch this week
if you belong to an IDP league. He will be starting at MLB against
the Vikings and he is finally rounding into the form that prompted
the Titans to draft him a few years ago. He is undersized, but
he is fast and can wrap up very well. He could be a valuable player
no one considered in drafts.
…I would pick decent athletes with great football skills over
great athletes with ‘developing football skills’ every day and
twice-on Sunday. Some teams have scouts who believe their job
is to find a great athlete and the coach’s job is to teach them
the game. But it always comes back to the same point: This is
professional football. If I’m going to pay someone millions of
dollars they better show a pretty advanced understanding of how
to play the game in addition having athletic skill. They don’t
have to be cognizant of every sound technique known at the position
they are projected to play, but they better show on film that
they understand situational football and move around the field
like a pro. It’s the same for fantasy football. Ask yourself who
in their prime is more athletic? Jerry
Porter or Hines
Coles or Jerricho
McAllister or Stephen
Davis? Now ask yourself which players you would start on your
fantasy team? I rest my case.
…I wouldn’t abandon ship on Carson Palmer. The running
game is getting better and he was typical Palmer against an aggressive
…I would consider Josh
Reed as a free agent receiver in deep leagues. It’s clear
James Hardy isn’t ready and Roscoe Parrish(ed) is ripe for a bad
ESPN pun on his last name. Josh Reed reminds me of Ike Hilliard.
Both were coveted college prospects with run after the catch skills
and sticky fingers. Neither made a quick transition to the NFL,
but now they are becoming favorites of their quarterbacks.
Smart or Outsmarting Yourself?
Is it time to trade Michael Turner?
I continue to hear people say it is time to trade Michael
Turner before he reaches the more difficult portion of his
schedule. I have the opportunity to trade Turner and Delhomme
for Donovan McNabb and DeAngelo Williams (I have Jonathan Stewart).
Would you do it? My #1 back is Adrian Peterson, but after Stewart,
the rest of my depth chart is Pierre Thomas, Ricky Williams, and
The argument for such a move is that Turner will be a #2 fantasy
RB at best against decent teams and trading him now would net
you a fantasy point profit if you have decent RB depth. The basis
of the argument is focused on Matt Ryan limiting the offense because
it is his rookie season and defenses will stack the line to force
Ryan to beat them.
The argument against the trade is that Turner will remain effective
because he is a power runner with speed and will wear down good
defenses in tight match ups. This side of the debate also believes
that if you drafted Turner, he was likely your second back which
means your depth isn’t likely to be good enough to lose
him for what you would get in return.
Personally, I’ve tabled the debate (and the trade) for
another week. If Turner can get between 90-120 yards and a score
against Carolina I’ll lean more in the direction of keeping
him. I’m not much into buying and selling my players like
I’m some day trader. It takes a ton of knowledge to effectively
do it and not get burned.
Every week that goes by that you do something to undermine the
authority of your head coach and he handles it with the same aplomb
you would expect from Jeff Fisher, the worse you look at his expense.
I have a really bad feeling that we’re going to find out
there is a very complex story with the Raider’s owner that
will only come out when he’s left this planet.
Please do institute a rookie salary cap. This might prevent owners
from getting impatient with their first day draft picks, allow
them the learn more gradually, and become better players when
they do take the field. Sure, there are players who do better
by getting thrown into the chaos. But then there’s Aaron
Rodgers, Steve McNair, Larry Johnson. Steve Young (when he got
his second chance by sitting behind Joe Montana), and Justin Tuck.
Guys who learned what to do through observation.
It doesn’t matter which quarterback you start, you will
still be arraigned on manslaughter charges come Monday.
My first experience seeing a lake was in your town. It was during
a time where not long before the river caught on fire. I was three
years old and I remember pointing down to the water’s surface
at a fish…floating lifeless in the chemical murkiness. I
heard they’ve cleaned the water extensively. Of course,
I heard your team was a playoff contender and you had a Pro Bowl
quarterback (who the opposing defenses down the stretch made look
like the undrafted free agent he was, but you still gave him a
From the Galley
I have stumbled into a sweet setup on the home front. Due to
the fact that it takes me 2-3 attempts to complete any project
that involves tools and my fiancée is an interior designer
who would probably blow up our house if we ever had a gas oven
and she were expected to cook, our agreement is that she does
the handy work and I cook the meals. The exterior of the house
is already primed and my neighbors are beginning to wonder if
the ‘hermit with the dog-fighting cat’ moved out and
the nice lady adopted the cat (who lays at the foot of her ladder
for hours on end as if he would help if he could).
While barbeque is a great game day option, I’d rather be
watching the game than manning the grill. So what I’m looking
for are recipes that are tasty, reasonably healthy, and quick
enough to make during the pre-game shows that the family will
eat all day. If you want to share some, drop me a line.
Here’s an example of something quick, simple, cheap, and
reasonably healthy my family digs. May you’ll like it, too.
No MSG, either.
Lo Mein (Prep/Cook Time is approximately
Serves 3-5 (depending on what you call a serving size)
Ingredients & Equipment
1 Large saucepan
1 sharp knife to prep ingredients
2 boxes of wheat spaghetti or fettuccine noodles
3 tablespoons of peanut oil
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon of fresh ginger (sliced)
1 tablespoon of ginger powder
2 carrots, sliced diagonally in ¼-inch pieces
2 golden delicious apples sliced into bite-sized cubes
4-5 stalks of bok choy – slice the stalks into bite-sized
pieces and separate from the leaves, cut up the leaves, too.
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of caraway seeds
2 tablespoons of sesame oil
2 teaspoons of pepper
1 pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of brown sugar (optional)
Directions: Heat water in a
large saucepan until boiling. Boil noodles for five minutes and
drain in a colander. While the noodles are boiling heat the peanut
oil in the wok on medium or medium high heat. Add the garlic,
ginger, and ginger powder and allow it to cook in the oil for
a minute. Add the carrots, bok choy stalks, and apples with the
pepper and salt; make sure they get well coated in the oil, cooking
for a minute or two. Turn down the heat to medium or medium low
and add portions of the noodles a bit at time. Each time you add
the noodles, add a bit of soy sauce, caraway seed, and sesame
oil. Keep doing this until you have all the noodles in the wok
and mixed well so all the ingredients are mixed well and the noodles
shine from the coating of sesame oil. Turn the heat down to low
add the sliced bok choy leaves and the brown sugar, and mix well.
Remove from the heat and serve in bowls with a bottle of Sriracha
Hot Chili Sauce if someone eating this concoction wants some heat.