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Tuesday Morning Buzz – Week 14


By: — December 13, 2011 @ 11:04 am
Filed under: Player Analysis

Welcome to the Tuesday Morning Buzz! Week 14 was a fantastic week for non-stop action on Sunday with another less-than-entertaining Monday Night Football. Regardless, drama is running high as the fantasy playoffs are underway and the NFL postseason looms. Watch for each week to get even more tense and unpredictable as the season draws to a close.

Steelers–Browns
Let the praise of Roethlisberger begin anew and with more fervent adamancy than ever before! The man behind the Steel Curtain came back into the game on Thursday night after an ugly ankle injury and played it out. While it was certainly admirable how Big Ben returned to play, Vinny Testaverde could suit up for the Steelers right now and win a half of football versus the Cleveland Browns—with two high ankle sprains, no less. I don’t mean to overstate the Browns’ ineptitude, but it seems their lack of play knows no bounds. Also, has Antonio Brown outperformed Mike Wallace, or is Wallace’s talent opening up the path for Brown? You decide, but next week I may sit Brandon Marshall or Greg Jennings for Brown. As for Cleveland … hey, there’s always next year.

Colts–Ravens
I can’t figure what to make of this game. On the one hand, you’ve got the Ravens coming out of it with another victory, and if they win out, they’ll get the number one seed. Run of the mill, right? Well, not so fast. This is the Colts! This team is purposely trying to lose the game and you, the best of the AFC, can only hang 24 points on them? Where was the offense? Where was the ball control? Somehow, the mighty Indianapolis Colts had almost 24 minutes of possession with no weapons and no will power. I’m sadly disappointed that the Ravens didn’t put a little bit of a harder stomp on them. For the Colts, see my Cleveland Browns analysis.

Buccaneers–Jaguars
Khaaaaaaaaaan! Surely it must be the new impending ownership that inspired the Jaguars to score 41 points when they were only averaging 12.7 points per game coming into the week, right? Surely it is that epic ‘stache that brought the MJD of 2009 back to score an inordinate amount (4) of touchdowns, right? Perhaps it was the might and prowess of Shadid Khan that scared the Bucs into a sickening slump in the early going of the second quarter. Whatever the reason, if I see more of that next week in the Georgia Dome, I’m going to feel a lot better about starting MJD in the championship round. For the Bucs, who are 1-8 since Week 5, there’s always next year!

P.S. I’m sensing a trend here. It’s amazing how clear the NFL all of a sudden gets around Week 12, isn’t it?

Raiders–Packers
Lucky for their fantasy owners, the Packers really want to go undefeated. They want it so badly that Rodgers was still in the game slinging the ball around well after everything was in hand. If I were Mike McCarthy, I would’ve had Rodgers, Jennings, and Finley on the bench after Grant’s touchdown, with a shade over seven minutes remaining in the first quarter. I understand wanting to win and playing your starters, but there is no need to risk your season and your franchise when you’re up by 31 points. For the Raiders, there’s always next year! I’m kidding; they’re obviously still in their division race. However, the Tebow seem to be predestined to be the AFC West team that gets bounced in the first week of the playoffs.

P.S. Watch for Darren McFadden’s return this week versus a middling Detroit defense in Oakland. It could be big.

Saints–Titans
I don’t believe that being outdoors has much of an effect on the Saints. Sure, they are 3-2 with much less impressive stats when outdoors this season. However, I think this has far more to do with not being in New Orleans than it has to do with being outside. The Saints seem less inspired when away from their adoring crowd and the Superdome, and this is why it was 3-3 at the half. It had nothing to do with playing under an open sky. That being said, the Saints got hot late (as they usually do in close competition), and Drew Brees brought Marques Colston to life with two sweet touchdown passes.

For the Titans, I’m confident that they would’ve won the game if Hasselbeck had been the quarterback on that final play. Locker looks to be the future in Tennessee, though, and if I were a Titans fan, I would be excited about that. He seems to have many of the same qualities of Vince Young without the immaturity and off-the-field issues.

Brees for MVP
Alright, you win. I’ll argue, but only because I love you so. Last week I told you that I believe Brees is the best quarterback of this era, that he’ll retire as the best of his contemporaries, and that this season will end with Brees as the top quarterback. But those three statements are all totally subjective and can’t really be proven. Pick your favorite quarterback and you can argue the same for him. Here is my case for Brees.

As many of you have pointed out, Rodgers is on a record-setting pace for single-season passer rating with 123.3 through 14 weeks, and Brees is only at 105.9. However, this is the only category in which Rodgers truly is head and shoulders above Brees. Here is the stat sheet for both quarterbacks:

 QB Comparison
Brees Rodgers
Wins: 10 Wins: 13
Passer Rating: 105.9 Passer Rating: 123.3
ESPN Total QBR: 81.2 ESPN Total QBR: 86.7
Yards: 4,368 Yards: 4,125
Yards per Attempt: 8.04 Yards per Attempt: 9.42
Touchdowns: 32 Touchdowns: 39
Interceptions: 11 Interceptions: 6
Fumbles: 0 Fumbles: 3
Completion %: 70.9 Completion %: 69.6
Completions/Attempt: 385/543 Completions/Attempt: 305/438

As you can see, no other category is overwhelmingly in Rodger’s favor. More touchdowns and fewer interceptions on fewer pass attempts certainly gives Rodgers a strong and well deserved passer rating. However, you will also notice that Brees, the most accurate quarterback the world has ever seen, is edging Rodgers in completion percentage by a full point, made more impressive by Brees’ 80 more completions on 105 more attempts. If you look at total turnovers, Rodgers is only two better than Brees. You’ve also heard Tony Dungy live on television saying he’d never blame a quarterback for an interception. Fumbles however? Those are all the ball carrier’s fault.

MVP... MVP... MVP

These points are very nit-picky, but that’s how it has to be when comparing two phenomenal athletes who are playing the position at a higher efficiency and explosiveness than it has ever been played. Now for the point that matters most, the point I had in mind when I originally made my claim: What will truly determine who has the better season? The playoffs, of course. A Super Bowl appearance or win will make up for any edge either quarterback may have over the other at the end of Week 17. The Saints have had a couple of slip-ups, but they have ranked number-one overall in offense and 27th overall in defense (outranking New England and Green Bay in both categories). If Brees ends this season just behind Rodgers in stats, but with a second Super Bowl ring, then I don’t see how anyone could say Rodgers had the better season.

P.S . Let’s not even get started on Marino’s 29-year-old record that Brees will soon surpass, Johnny U’s consecutive games with a touchdown record that Brees could eclipse next season, and the completion percentage record that Brees already owns.

Bills–Chargers
For the Chargers, its start ‘em time. Rivers is Infinity times 2 in the month of December, and it doesn’t seem like that is going to change any time soon. I think the Tebow will win this division, but you won’t be able to say the Chargers didn’t try for a comeback. For the Bills, Steve Johnson continues to be the only player on the team I really want to start. I had such high hopes for Buffalo playing spoiler to the big boys in their division, but they simply do not know how to be a good team. Combine that with management that is interested in saving money rather than winning big, and you have an organization that will never succeed if things don’t change.

Bears–Tebow
As Tebowmania continues to rock the nation, I’ve heard many sports analysts exclaim, “The Bears played them well for 55 minutes! They had it! They were pressing the receivers and pressuring the quarterback! Why did they back off?! Why did they give up the sideline?!” I’ll tell you why. Because in the last five minutes of a game, Tim Tebow puts the fear of God in defensive coordinators. If you press the receivers and send blitzes, it leaves too many opportunities for heroics. In the mind of Lovie Smith, the only chance was to play coverage and hope to break up the passes and keep the runs short. The sideline was open because defenders were crowding the middle of the field to stop Tebow if he ran. Tebow may not have magic powers that make him the ultimate quarterback in the fourth quarter, but he has a tangible advantage in the fourth quarter as impending doom sets in for his opponents.

For the Bears, I have one word (sort of): Yikes. It is going to be hard to pass the Lions for second place in the division, and it isn’t even a sure thing that second place in the North will garner a wild-card spot. Cutler could’ve taken this team to the playoffs, but with so many other teams in the final stretch here…well, there’s always next year.

49ers–Cardinals
The Cardinals, not to be outdone by the Dolphins, are proving to be quite the spoiler team through the final stretch. Just one week after setting the Cowboys up for a potentially fatal loss to the Giants, the Cardinals added a rare tick to the “L” column for the Niners. San Francisco owns the tiebreaker, but if the immortal Ben Roethlisberger can find a way on Monday night next week, the Saints have a legitimate shot at a first-round bye. As for fantasy, there aren’t many on these teams that are performing week in and week out that you’d want to trust your playoffs to. This late in the season, I say go with who got you here. And if that means Larry Fitzgerald plays, then play him!

Texans–Bengals
How about that T.J. Yates? The most untalked-about rookie quarterback this year went into Cincinnati and beat a Bengals D that has been good all year and phenomenal at home. And he did it to the tune of 300 yards and two touchdowns on a day when his running game was mostly shut down. Not only that, but he notched a dramatic and much-coveted comeback win by throwing the game-winning touchdown with two seconds on the clock. For the Bengals, keep riding that A.J. Green wagon and don’t play another man.

Vikings–Lions
To say that Christian Ponder has struggled this season might be seen as an understatement. Still, he certainly has this offense performing at its best since Favre took it to the championship game two years ago. But then that’s as comforting as the faint praise the Jaguars get for shattering their 12-points-per-game average. What I saw was nearly a 50/50 split between Webb and Ponder in which Ponder looked better in every category except interceptions. If he could’ve kept his cool (tough to do against a Lions team full of thugs and ne’er-do-wells) he may very well have thrown his team to a “W” in Detroit. Ponder could get hot next week when the Saints come to town, but look for that to affect Gerhart and Harvin more than Ponder in fantasy. For the Lions, it’s a tough stretch ahead, but all should be good in the fantasy world as they are likely to get into three straight shootouts to end the season.

Eagles–Dolphins
Well, now that the Eagles are all but mathematically eliminated, they sure did look good against the Dolphins. These guys played spoiler to the spoilers! Look for the Eagles to light up the scoreboard in the final weeks to save the final scraps of their reputation as a dangerous offense. For the Dolphins, do you think Sparano had a situation like Coach Boone in Remember the Titans? One loss and you’re done, despite how awesome your team has been in previous weeks? Sure seems like it. I wonder how Sparano would fit with the Chiefs.

Chiefs–Jets
Not that we can ever try it out (each game is different), but I wonder what an actual competent offense would’ve done this day against these Chiefs. I mean, the Jets scored 37 points? Unless you started Mark Sanchez, you didn’t feel much of the benefit in the realm of fantasy, but it sure did look crazy on the score ticker. For Kansas City, I’m really looking forward to next year. If I’m a Chiefs fan, I’m very excited to see the talent retake the field after their injuries heal. Watch for the Chiefs to be in the thick of it as long as similar injuries don’t make an appearance next season.

Patkowskis–Redskins
The ‘kowskis once again handled the majority of the scoring for the Pats, but Welker did manage to squeeze a touchdown out of the Skins as well. I’ve run out of analysis on these Pats, and I refuse to give any credence to the Brady spat on the sidelines. If you haven’t figured it out yet, you really don’t want a New England running back in your lineup for the fantasy playoffs. For the Redskins, they’re going to try awfully hard to put a stop to Eli Manning and a Giants team that’s on a roll right now, but I wouldn’t feel too comfortable about starting any Redskins either.

P.S. Close your eyes and forget about Helu. As is well documented, it’ll bite you in the end if you stick with a Shanahan running back.

Falcons–Panthers
In defense of Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan threw for 320 yards, four touchdowns, and no picks, with a 58 completion percentage, and he still finished three points below Rodgers’ average passer rating for the season. The Falcons won through the air, but Michael Turner still got the ball 21 times. Turner has run hard and often for many years and just seems beaten up and worn down this season, and I wouldn’t be overly surprised if this year is his last. If so, it will be a sad day in Atlanta, as the Falcons haven’t proven that they can win without a heavy dose of Michael Turner.

For the Panthers, the future looks brighter every week. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart are feeling the pain of losing John Fox, but Steve Smith is feeling the joy of gaining a real quarterback. Watch for the Panthers to pick high for a Julio Jones-esque wide receiver who will take this passing game to the elite level. For this year, however, I don’t know that I’d trust any Panther not named Cam with the keys to my fantasy season.

Giants–Cowboys
Oh those poor, poor Dallas Cowboys. How frustrating it must be to be Jerry Jones! He has watched squad after ultra-talented squad fail and sputter mentally as the seasons have wound down. Expect for frustrating play out of these Cowboys as long as they are in contention. If a catastrophic loss to the Bucs or Eagles occurs, watch for the Dallas offensive stars to take off as the games become meaningless and the pressure to succeed drops off. For the Giants, you have to love what you’re seeing out of the offense. Eli is looking the best he ever has, and this wide receiver corps may be the best that New York has ever seen. If they can shore up the defense a little and keep their nose clean until Week 17, they probably have the East in the books.

$#^% Chris Collinsworth Says
On the dominance of Jason Pierre-Paul:

“He’s just too much! You know, you’ve got to chip him, you know, the Cowboys just have to make the adjustment! There’s no way around it, you’re not going to block him one-on-one with anybody! I just haven’t seen it done all year. You watch him on tape enough and he’s like an octopus coming at you! Arms and legs, you think he’s got eight different arms flailing at you! Just… quick moves… a dynamic player!”

If the rest of the Giants D can play to the level of Pierre-Paul—who CC wisely pointed out, has yet to reach the apex of his game—then their path to the playoffs is clear. Wild Card Weekend for the NFC should be absolutely crazy.

Rams–Seahawks
I’m not going to honor this matchup with a lot of analysis. The game was terrible. As was brought up multiple times by the commentators, the Rams have placed ten cornerbacks on IR this season. And they have next to no talent on their roster, so you can’t expect much, if anything, from them. That lack of talent may extend beyond the roster. They had seven downs at the 1-yard line late in the fourth quarter on Monday night and only ran the ball on the first and seventh down. Instead of giving the ball to their best talent, they had their injured quarterback throwing to their C-class receiving corps. Spagnuolo may be the next coach to go after this performance. An empty space on your roster may be as valuable as most of the men on the field in this game.

And that’s it! Week 14 is in the books. I don’t know how much fantasy goodness will come from it, but I’m looking forward to the Ravens–Chargers matchup on Sunday Night next week. Also, your Cardinals, Lions, Raiders, Titans, Bengals, Saints, and Vikings should all have good fantasy weeks. Thank me later.


  • Tim In Indy

    Hey Aaron I give Tebow his props as I was a doubter. However way Denver is winning is just plain bizzaro. Barber doesn’t stay in bounds? Prater hits a 59ers albeit in thin air. I won’t rehash every game during streak. But seems like a key player was hurt for alot of their opponents. Schedule after Pat’s is easy. So yes Denver will win AFC West. In Jet game Jets called an all out blitz on that winning TD by Tebow. Charger kicker chokes. It seems like Tebow has gotten into the heads of everyone. The DEF & Prater should be getting more props. But hey this is how the mania works. Tebow may develop into a good passer. Being in Indy one thing I will say: In 95 Jim Harbaugh had a very similar run for Colts earning nick “Captain Comeback” and taking 9-7 Colts all way to AFC championship game. Harbaugh never had another run like that. So Denver & Tebow fans enjoy the ride while it lasts.

  • Kim

    Alright Aaron – here we go again. You want to nit-pick, you got it. One of the points you use prominently to assert that Brees should be the MVP over Rodgers is actually wrong. Rodgers may have had 3 fumbles this year but he hasn’t lost a one. You can verfiy that on nfl.com. Only fumbles lost are actually turnovers so that puts an end to saying Rodgers has 9 turnovers this year compared to Brees’ 11 INT’s. Rodgers has still only turned the ball over 6 times. In addition, you make a big deal out of 1% better completion percentage. That stat has only swung in Brees’ favor over the past 3 games when the Packers receivers have had a severe case of the dropsies. At the same time, you seem to minimize the other statistical areas where Rodgers leads as not what you deem “overwhelming”. 7 more TD’s and 5 fewer INT’s are not inconsequential, neither are 3 wins for that matter. Actually nearly a yard and a half better on yds/attempt and more than 5 pts on ESPN’s new QBR are both pretty big differences. Moreover, you didn’t even bring up the rushing. Rodgers has over 200 yards and 2 TD’s while Brees has made all of 1 rushing attempt for 8 yards all year albeit for a TD. That is an aspect of the game that Brees will never hold a candle to Rodgers. Even with Rodgers quick release and much better mobility, he has taken 9 more sacks than Brees and the fact that the Packers have had to start 3 starters on their O-line miss a total of 12 games so far this year obviously plays a role in that. All that being said, I’d say Brees has got a firm hold on 2nd over Brady, Tebow or any other player. Still, I think it’s ridiculous to argue that anyone other than Rodgers is the 2011 NFL MVP. The stats bear that out and so does the naked eye test. As for the whole stats vs. Super Bowl rings comment, they don’t wait until after the Super Bowl to award the NFL MVP otherwise Rodgers would already have one from last year. Oh yeah, and by the way as for records – let’s not talk about the passer rating record or the consecutive games with 2-TD’s record that Rodgers will break next week (not to mention a few others he’s got a chance to break too). Lastly (but not least), thanks for the entertaining post each week. I always look forward to reading it and appreciate the opportunity to post feedback (even if I disagree) and know that it’s being heard. Keep it up!

  • Jon

    Wow… Kim, you nailed it once again.

    But to nit-pick just a LITTLE bit more… The TD-INT RATIO for Rodgers (6.5:1) is actually more than DOUBLE Brees’ 3:1. The numbers for Rodgers would actually be more impressive if Matt Flynn wouldn’t make appearances in blowouts. Missed one whole half of football in the last 3 games in blowouts. Rodgers would no doubt be ahead of Brees in competition for the single season passing record if he had as many attempts as Brees, because of Rodgers 1.42 ypa better than Brees.

    Also, If you want to throw a 1% completion percentage argument in there… Rodgers throws a TD pass on 8.9% of his throws, whereas Brees only has 5.9%. That means, if Rodgers had as many attempts as Brees, Rodgers would actually have 48 TDs at this point in the season!! Argument made. Rodgers is having one hell of a season, only rivaled by Brady’s 50 TD, 4 INT campaign. Oddly, that team had a pretty nice winning streak also.

    Done with the nit-picking and would like to say you do a great job with this post.

  • Rio

    Thank You Kim…No one can hate on Brees, but seriously MVP over Rodgers!!! Get off the ledge. Give Rodgers 80 more attempts and Brees’ 243 yards advantage would be +300 yards in the other direction.

  • Joe in Cincy

    Regarding Helu. I believe that Shanahan’s track record in no way suggests that after a string of three very strong to outstanding games, he would move to another RB to carry the load. Yes he did it earlier this year after ONE such game. I challenge you to produce a single example of such a move in Shanahan’s “well documented” history. The guy can be maddening, but you’re just inventing situations here (you’re far from alone in that).

  • Brian

    Come on Joe. Shanahan is a nightmare if you own his running backs. I’ll never, ever draft or pick one up again. Burned 2-3 times in the past couple of years. I’d challenge you to find more than one time that one running back of Shanahan’s has had 3 good games in a row. I bet it’s hard to find because he almost never keeps the same hot hand that long! He’s gotten worse since he moved to Washington for sure.

  • http://fftoday Kim

    Regarding the Shanny RB thread and Brian’s question about when he’s had a RB that had 3 good games in a row, I’d say you’d have to go back to 2004 when Reuben Droughns put up over 1200 yards for the Broncos. Prior to that point he had a pretty good record of primarily using one workhorse back (Terrell Davis, Mike Anderson, Clinton Portis) but from the 2005 season forward he started his RBBC-on-steroids ways. That year Mike Anderson finished with just over 1,000 yards and Tatum Bell had 900+ yards. That situation has deteriorated since then where it’s nearly impossible to predict which back will have touches on a week to week basis. I’ve had Hightower, Torain and Helu this year and can tell you, my days of dealing with the headaches that come from owning Shanny coached RB’s is over. Never again!

  • Joe in Cincy

    You don’t need to go back to 2004. Portis had a fantastic first half of the season in 2008 before becoming basically useless due to injury. Granted, that’s three years ago, but what have they had since then? Much of that is Shanahan’s fault because of his fondness for collecting a bunch of old and/or marginal backs on the roster. But when was the last time that he he had a guy with as much talent as Helu? The original point was that you shouldn’t consider him at all. That’s absurd. I’ll start him this week with complete confidence. If Helu fall flat on his face this week, I’d think about whether to start him the following week. That’s next week…

  • http://fftoday Kim

    Yeah but Shanahan didn’t coach in Washington in 2008. I think that was his last year in Denver and I’m not positive but that might have been when Joe Gibbs was in his 2nd stint as head coach of the Redskins. If I had Helu, I’d start him this week. My point was it’ll be a long time before I draft or pick up another Redskins RB as long as Shanny’s the coach. All things being equal, you’d be better off going with another player whose workload will be a lot more predictable week in and week out instead depending on Shanny’s capricious nature with regard to RB’s.

 
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