Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fantasy Focus

Nothing really earth shattering on the fantasy front in week 1 (aside from the dismal performance from most of the elite RB’s). Sure Romo, Eli, Burress and some others had great numbers, but they’re not exactly strangers to that.

I’m not wasting this space talking about the usual suspects since you’re not sitting LDT, Frank Gore, or the like whether they’re playin’ the Rams or the Bears. Instead, we’ll talk about later round picks that stood out in week 1 and some other lesser guys I like in week 2.

Before I get into my week 1 surprises and my week 2 sleepers I want to kick off a new feature here at TPS where we'll monitor the previously mentioned Kurse of Keith. We’ll take a look at a handful of guys on Keith’s current roster and place them into one of 5 categories from most likely to be cursed, to least likely. You should adjust your roster accordingly. Let’s get started…

Start planning your retirement.
I know Lee Evans was shut down and Deion Branch didn’t catch a ball (we’ll get to those two), but this week the honor goes to Drew Brees. With three turnovers and most of his yardage in garbage time, he looked a shell of his former self. His agent reportedly contacted Keith and demanded a trade, but to no avail. Drew’s performance against Tampa should give us more of a clue as to where this is headed. For now, it might not be a bad idea for Saints fans and Drew Brees owners to start a prayer group.

Quick, fake an injury!

Deion Branch! He’s a number 1 receiver on a playoff bound team that scored 20 points and won the game fairly easily…and he had ZERO fantasy points. He was only targeted three times and, after the game, Holmgren actually confirmed Branch was the #1 receiver and claimed the Bucs just focused on stopping him. Oh really? Teams are game planning that much for Deion Branch now (never had 1000 yards or more than 5 TDs in a season)? Maybe that’s why the Bucs are so bad? You could argue him for the top spot this week, but Drew Brees is more significant.

1-2, he's comin' for you...

Michael Pittman - This would be unprecedented, even for Keith. He may go through Cadillac Williams (went down with a rib injury again last week), just to get to Pittman.

Safe...for now

Lee Evans – I’m giving him a pass because the Denver DB’s are among the best, and Keith has actually had great success with Evans before, despite J.P. Losman being prominently involved - knock on wood.

I'm a Survivor!
Randy Moss – I’ve tried in the past to get Keith to jinx the Patriots (Tom Brady) but they are even more powerful than he is. Maybe Goodell can break the seemingly impenetrable shield with the upcoming punishment for cheating.

Geico Gecko - In a long running league joke, Keith’s mascot and team name is Gecko. The Gecko is safe, despite rumored threats from “Kid with the toothpick.” Reports have come out that despite his tough exterior, Kid with a toothpick is actually pretty soft and said in a recent interview, "I wish the Gecko was my dad." And who can blame him? I mean, who doesn’t love the Gecko, that’s like asking who doesn’t want free pie and chips!

We’ll tackle the Kurse update again next week with a different group of guys (at least Drew Brees hopes so), but now it’s onto Studs and Sleepers…

Week 1 Surprise Studs:

Josh McCown, the first of THREE Oakland Raiders to appear in this section. If you started Josh McCown last week you’re probably either in a 14/16 team league that forces you to start 2 QB’s or you’re Josh McCown. After a slow start and the home crowd cheering him on by chanting for his backup, McCown completed 75% of his passes and threw for 313 yards and 2 TDs. Most people probably won’t feel comfortable taking a risk on McCown yet, but he does have Cleveland at home week 3, and goes to Miami in week 4. Of course, he also may not have a job after Denver gets through with him this week…

Chris Brown’s 175 yards rushing probably stood out to a lot of people, and it is a big number, but not finding the end zone hurt his overall value. Even so, most of us know the Titans running game was strong last year, and in 2004 Brown put up monster numbers (11 games, 1214 total yards, 4.9 ypc) as a full time starter before missing five games to injury and going on to struggle the next two seasons, so success shouldn’t be too surprising. That being said, he might be a guy you want to sell high on with his injury history and a couple of young backs waiting in the wings. If the Brandon Jacobs owner in your league wasn’t able to grab Ward he may be interested in someone like Brown as a stop gap.

Lamont Jordan also returned to fantasy relevance with a nice little game (159 total yards and a touch). He’s one I would hang onto. Despite the Raiders being bad and likely trailing in games, Lamont won’t lose touches. Lane Kiffin has clearly decided to include Jordan in the passing game where he was so successful two years ago. He had 70 catches during his career year in 2005 (15 games played) and not once did he catch 9 passes or have 89 yards like he did this past Sunday. If Jordan is catching just 5 or 6 balls a game he’s in for a solid year.

Antwaan Randle El is always intriguing because he’s got BPP (Big Play Potential). You may not get the consistency you’d like but you know he’s one big reception, punt return, end around, or passing touchdown away from having a good week. He's more likely to break off that big play than your average waiver wire/borderline fantasy starter type guy. There aren’t too many quadruple threat’s out there. If you have the room, pick him up and stash him away on the bench for a week or two. That should be enough time to tell if what we saw last Sunday (162 yards and a TD) was chemistry between he and Campbell or just the product of an abysmal Miami secondary.

Ronald Curry gets honorable mention for being a former UNC point guard. Oh yea, and he had 133 yards and a TD, but I’m sick of talking about Raiders, so…

Who I like for Week 2:

It might not be a bad idea to take a flier on Michael Pittman if Caddy (bruised ribs) can’t go. The Saints run d was exposed last week and Pittman’s proven to be a capable runner in Gruden’s offense before. The last three times he had more than 10 carries in a game for the Bucs – 6.1 ypc, 5.4 ypc, 8.5 ypc (286 rushing yards, no fumbles, 2 tds). He also had 47 catches last season despite being a backup and had five receptions against the Seahawks last week. (side note: He’s currently on Keith’s bench, not in the starting lineup. If he starts him, all bets are off)

At tight end, I like Eric Johnson. Brees struggled last week, but seemed to find Johnson quite a bit, and Johnson’s been reliable and productive in the past, when healthy. Also, the Bucs gave up 43 yards to Marcus Pollard on 5 catches last week. Johnson should surpass that this week.

At wideout I like Chris Chambers against a banged up Cowboy secondary that struggled last year and last week. I don’t care what early reports from Cowboy’s camp say, Terrence Newman will not be close to 100 percent even if he steps on the field this weekend. Plantar fasciitis is a big deal and lingers for quite a while, and when you think it’s resolved, it resurfaces. Also, now feels like a good time to mention that Roy Williams is over rated and Anthony Henry has never been that good. If the Dolphins can keep Trent Green upright (easier said than done), they’ll be able to pass the ball on the Cowboys. Oh, and last time Chambers saw the Cowboys, he lit them up for 3 TD’s with Jay Fiedler throwing him the ball.

I also like Demetrius Williams against the Jets. Demetrius and I have a history that goes back to his college days which I’ll get into in another post. For now, just know that he’s the real deal and if McNair (or Boller) can get the ball in his vicinity, he’ll come down with it.

Lastly, I love Kellen Clemens/Chad Pennington against the Ravens. This has nothing to do with fantasy football, I just can’t wait to see that...

That's all for now, check back later in the week as the against the spread picks will be posted in time for you to waste your companies money by reading them first thing Friday morning...

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