Welcome to Tuesday Morning Buzz! The first truly crazy weekend in the season had it all: fourth quarter comebacks galore, five call reversals in one game, coaches yanking on the arms of officials, emotional performances in response to familial deaths. I hope simply to make it through with my ear fully intact. Let’s get right into the action:
Well, the Panthers certainly got more than bargained for Thursday night. The Giants were large and in charge of all aspects of this game. When Cam Newton gets a rushing touchdown and still only gets 9 total points in standard scoring formats, something is terribly wrong. If the Panthers can’t get the run game going, including Newton, they can’t win. With New York, there are two names that should disappear instantly from your waiver wire if they haven’t already: Martellus Bennett and Andre Brown. Bennett is especially not going anywhere, as the Giants have had big plans for a big tight end for years. The Giants didn’t draft rookie running back David Wilson in the first round to sit him, but it will be hard to put the lightning-in-a-bottle they’ve found on the bench.
The Bears once again failed to capitalize on a defense they should have torched. Most people weren’t sipping much fantasy Kool-Aid on Jay Cutler, but there were huge expectations for Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte. Through three games, an unclear ankle injury, and two throw-away performances, neither has excited fantasy owners. However, I still believe there is an untapped offensive potential on this team just waiting for Mike Tice to get a scheme together for the O-Line. Trade for Bears if you can get them cheap. The Rams currently have no business being discussed in fantasy and will likely be irrelevant for the entire year.
The Bills, tied for the lead in their division through three weeks, were able to defeat the Browns in Cleveland. This is probably the biggest accomplishment for the Bills in this young season, as the city of Cleveland typically debilitates visiting offenses. However, the Bills took a huge blow when C.J. Spiller went down early on. The outlook appears good for Spiller, as there is a chance he won’t miss a full game, but I’d bench him until you’re sure you’ll get 60 minutes out of him.
For the Browns, I am still highly skeptical of Trent Richardson and the Browns offense, but it appears I was premature in saying that Richardson wouldn’t make the Top 20. He is scoring enough touchdowns early that his eventual season-ending injury should occur after he secures a spot among the top 20. Don’t take solace in that, however. In this RB-starved year, I’d sell Richardson to the highest bidder.
This week the Cowboys were a couple of touchdowns away from being a fantasy point machine. The overall result was disappointing, but take a look at these yardage totals:
If Romo had thrown even one touchdown, he and at least one of those wide receivers would have had a fantastic fantasy day.
For the Bucs, there is still little to be gleaned from their current play regarding start/sit decisions. Obviously, no Buccaneer is an every-week starter, but yours truly is beginning to wonder if they are worth the stress. I wouldn’t trade Doug Martin, but no one else has been given enough consistent touches, let alone production, to keep them from the fantasy chopping block.
In a battle of two offenses with no expectations, the Jags were able to come out with a win on the heels of an incensed Maurice Jones-Drew. MJD ran for 177 yards and a touchdown; however, I’m still terrified of a major injury due to his lack of an offseason practice regimen. He is another RB that will fetch high value, perhaps even greater value in the form of two players from another team. For the Colts, it was more of the same, as Reggie Wayne, Donald Brown, and Andrew Luck continued to have outstanding fantasy days for their status. T.Y. Hilton may be worth picking up and stashing just in case he becomes a regular big-yardage play.
Here is the good news for the Jets: They were able to defeat the Dolphins in overtime. Here is the bad news for the Jets: They needed overtime to beat the Dolphins. Oh yeah, and they lost Darrelle Revis for the season. Is this defense good enough that it can still be a value-pick, every-week start without Revis? Sadly, it appears that this Jets fantasy offense is even more tepid than the Dolphins, Browns, Bills, and maybe even the Cardinals. Yikes!
The Dolphins may have suffered a terrible injury loss as well, as their entire offense was injured when Reggie Bush’s knee was hurt for the 900th time in his career. Look for Daniel Thomas to step up in Bush’s absence, but the offense may sputter without the run and catch threat that Bush provides.
Last year, yours truly had this to say after Week 12: “Christian Ponder is the anti-Tebow. He always looks better to me than his stat line. He’s proven his mobility, his competency, and his football IQ. Yet, when it all shakes out, all of that great play amounts to less than Matt Moore or Carson Palmer put up on the stat sheet.” Luckily for the Vikings, hardworking, cerebral quarterbacks typically work out in the long run, and Ponder flashed greatness on Sunday, throwing two touchdowns and no picks versus a ridiculously nasty 49ers D.
For the 49ers, no real fantasy news here. Keep starting Vernon Davis, start Crabtree or Manningham when the matchup warrants, and hang on to Kendall Hunter in anticipation of Frank Gore’s inevitable injury.
I thought both offenses looked fantastic through three quarters, though how dubious is that statement with how pitiful these defenses have been? Jamaal Charles ran for what seemed like a season’s worth of yards and racked up two or three games’ worth of receiving yards as well. The “chief” take away from this game: start anyone who plays the Saints or the Chiefs. In that same vein, don’t be too impressed by anything you saw from this game, as it is liable to be a flash in the pan.
Pain Heals. Chicks Dig Scars. Glory Lasts Forever.
The truly amazing stat about this game is that The Replacements averaged one call reversal per quarter in a game with a quarter of overtime. My favorite part, however, is how much the hilariously named Don King sounds like John F. Kennedy. If you missed this game, go to one of the hundreds of articles bashing The Replacements and check out the calls. “Ask not what the replay booth can do for you, but what you can do for the replay booth!”
The analysis of the Titans is easy: You should not expect this kind of production from any of their players, as they will not score 40-plus points every week. Not even 20. However, even when they did score 44 points, CJ2K still managed only 24 yards on 14 carries and one reception for five yards. Chris Johnson has a 0.03 rating on the Calvin Scale this season, including a +0.02 bonus for having the same family name. I wonder if he considers that performance the fault of the O-line as well. At this point, he may be a difficult sell for any kind of value, but if someone will take him, you should make the move.
For the Lions, you may be excited about 26 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown, and rightfully so, but Detroit does not run much. However, this may have been perfect timing if Stafford is indeed out. If it turns out that Stafford is back next week, LeShoure’s chances of a repeat performance are far from a sure thing.
Count yours truly among those who had no business winning in their fantasy leagues this week, except for the simple excellence of A.J. Green. Quietly, Green cashed in 183 yards and a score, including a textbook 80-yard bomb on the first play from scrimmage. Also, the Law Firm scored his second touchdown on the year in what looks to be a high-scoring season for the sturdy-handed RB. For the Skins, how mad must Santana Moss be now that he finally has a passable quarterback in his 12th season, when he has lost a step and his talent is sapped. Once regarded as one of the top talents at his position, Moss now ironically relegated to one-catch games with the best quarterback he’s ever lined up with.
Oh the sad, sad prospects of the Eagles. Philly fans are cursing that lucky rabbit’s foot I warned about after the Week 1 “victory” against the Browns. If these Eagles can stop the bleeding from their turnover ratio, they may yet be able to win their division and compete in the playoffs, but fantasy prospects are looking grim for the Iggles.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals are playing with so much swag after a 3-0 start that Kevin Kolb threw for Rick Ross numbers of 222 yards for two touchdowns. Larry Fitzgerald also came back to life this week in a performance that can only feel like what Han Solo must have felt after being freed from the carbonite.
In a strange turn of events, Ryan Mathews had a total of 15 touches for 76 yards, but the Chargers were only able to muster an anemic 3 points against an Atlanta Falcons team that is on an NFL-wide tear. The disgusting lack of yards and points for the Chargers leaves all analysis at the door, outside of Mathews appearing to be in capacity enough to warrant a starting consideration. On the Atlanta side, there simply weren’t enough touchdowns for all of the surging skill positions. Turner, Gonzalez, Julio Jones, and Jacquizz Rodgers each scored to amplify their yardage totals. Only Roddy White was left out, in what was essentially an exhibition of the Falcons’ offensive capabilities. It appears that all San Diego RBs not named Mathews are back to the bench, unless you think Jackie Battle will continue to have success as a third-down back.
Nothing goes better with football than clichés—except maybe Tapenade. Despite this, I’ve had it up to here with concept that opposing quarterbacks are battling against each other. I understand when pitchers have duels and single-handedly determine the fate of their games, but football is far too much of a team sport for that kind of talk.
Matt Schaub had a fantastic game on top of what is turning out to be a fantastic season for the Texans. However, he did not “out duel” Peyton Manning, as such seems impossible to me. Comparing two quarterbacks against one another in a game where they are playing totally different defenses is asinine, in my humble opinion. Take Schaub and Arian Foster for granted, but beware of Andre Johnson, as 72 yards and a touchdown is less impressive when you realize it was on only two catches. Manning, Decker, and Demariyus Thomas are all matchup plays and bye-week starters, but Brandon Stokley is also quickly becoming a bye-week fill-in if you’re light at WR.
If I were the head coach of the Raiders, I would always take a touchback out to the 20-yard line and then attempt a field goal on every fourth down. Janikowski is the man in my book—he looks like he cares about three things: Chicken Wings, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and super long field goals. If Janikowksi ever gets the chance, I’m certain he will break the record for longest field goal. I’m sorry I’m going on so much about a kicker, but he is so white-trash awesome.
For the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger dominated the Raiders defense and angered fantasy owners everywhere who benched him for Cam Newton, Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford, Drew Brees, or Tony Romo. Todd Haley’s philosophy is starting to take hold as the Steelers offense is slowly transitioning to a passing-centered game. Watch for your Steelers passing stars to continue to rise and your Steelers 300-carry running backs to fade into oblivion.
I can’t imagine how disappointed each of these teams must have been when they lost in Week 2, knowing that they would have to play each other the next week. Going 1-2 is never a good thing, but preseason darlings that go 1-2 start to deteriorate very quickly. For the Patriots, this offense will bounce back under the cool-headed leadership of Bill Belichick, so don’t panic, but don’t be surprised if it’s a few more weeks before they really click.
The difference between Brady’s “subpar” performance and Flacco’s “elite” performance was completions for touchdown. Both completed 28 passes and Flacco threw for around 50 yards more, but the 3:1 touchdown-to-inception ratio made Flacco the far better man for fantasy. He should be writing a thank you letter to Torrey Smith, who torched the Patriots to keep the Ravens in the game. Don’t look for this kind of performance every game, but Smith has probably earned 7 to 10 targets a game and will likely be starting material for your fantasy team all season long.
$#^% Chris Collinsworth Says
On finally getting his way after screaming all of the first quarter that The Replacements weren’t throwing a flag to control the emotions when skirmishes were breaking out:
“I wouldn’t have thrown the flag—I’ll just put it that way!”
Even CC had to get into the action of abusing The Replacements this week, and I’m beginning to wonder if the NFL will eventually ask the broadcast companies to pay the issue less attention. If there should be any criticism levied from this whole situation, it should be against the players, and especially the coaches, for trying to intimidate The Replacements. Not only is it unsportsmanlike, but it’s just generally deplorable.
What a remarkable spectacle of a game. First, the Seahawks have a great defense. Especially when playing in Seattle, you should temper your expectations for any QB or WR against this lockdown defense. For the Packers, this offense will get itself under control. As the madness of the early season begins to settle down, the Packers skill players will come through for your team.
Pains Heals. Chicks Dig Scars. Glory Lasts Forever. Part II
- Russell Wilson throws a deep bomb to the end zone where there are two Seahawks and about 52 Packers. The first infraction the world is screaming at The Replacements about is Golden Tate shoving Sam Shieldsout of the way. Even Jon Gruden, who notoriously complains about The Replacements, stated that end-of-the-game Hail Mary’s are essentially “Let ’em play” situations, and that offensive pass interference is rarely if ever going to be called on a play like that, even by the regular officials.
- Next, M.D. Jennings elevates and grabs the ball with two hands while Tate places one hand on the ball. As Jennings brings the ball to his chest, Tate places his second hand on the ball, then the pile of players collapse to the ground. If, for even a fraction of a second, Tate established 50% control of the ball before Jennings’ feet hit the ground, the correct call is “simultaneous possession.” Furthermore, the simultaneous possession that was ruled on the field cannot be overturned by replay, even if the officials saw in their review that Shields clearly had control first. The Replacements made the best call they could see on the field, which turned out to be unreviewable. And there lies the rub.
- When Tate and Jennings fell into the scrum with questionable-but-not-obvious simultaneous possession, both refs in the end zone looked at each other, nodded, and then provided two different signals. Each ref had assumed the other saw what he saw. Instead of huddling to determine the call, The Replacements felt harried and terrified and simply went with the touchdown call.
- Finally, and most inexcusably, the refs called a touchdown and got the heck out of Dodge without completing the game with the mandatory extra point. They then had to be notified to come back on the field to finish the game.
The sad truth is that The Replacements are overmatched and are being taken advantage of. Just as we say the game moves too fast for rookie players, the game is too fast for The Replacements, and they have lost all control of the field. Players are being liberal with their gamesmanship to test the mettle of the officials. How many coaches are going to receive fines because of their miserable behavior? You can blame The Replacements for the calls, they did make them, but neither the coaches nor the players are handling this with class. With an immaturity that apparently knows no boundaries, the players and coaches are applying so much pressure that they are rattling these officials into making quick decisions and playing with a disregard for the rules—the strategy NFL teams take against rookies on opposing teams. It is the official’s job to call out rule breaking; however, it is the responsibility of the players and coaches to try to play within the rules. How can we expect The Replacements to be thoughtful and accurate with the pressure being placed on them by the players and coaches? The refs are not a third team on the field, and they should not be strategized against. How many of these situations would have been different if the media didn’t barbeque them beforehand, with the coaches following suit during the game, and the players moaning and groaning about them afterwards? In the end, these guys are out there making the best calls they can—even the best refs will make bad calls—but they are the scapegoats of a bad situation mixed with unprofessional play.
My last thought is this, how much are the regular officials at fault here? They are demanding to maintain a pension as part-time employees. How many full-time employees still have a pension in 2012? I’m guessing that NFL Referee is one of the only part-time jobs in the United States that is pensioned. It simply isn’t the way of American business anymore. There is nothing wrong with the NFL pushing to move the referee job into the 21st century. Perhaps instead of moaning for the NFL to give in to whatever demands the refs make so that they can regain control the field, we should be yelling at the referees to accept being paid what is acceptable.
And that’s it! What an interesting conclusion to a very interesting week. Next week, look for your Falcons, Patriots, Vikings, Chargers, Texans, Broncos, Cardinals, Packers, and Bears to excel. Come on, these Bears have to pack some offensive firepower into a Monday Night game right? Don’t forget your Colts and Steelers are on bye, so find suitable replacements!
P.S. I really enjoyed your questions last week, keep them coming and I’ll reply on Wednesday and Thursday as they come in.