Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Week 12 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 11? I did, somewhat. Now as we get close to playoff time, wins are everything, and you need contributions from everybody. Before you chow down on your turkey and the fixings, read up fast, some of my best may be from Thursday.

Who to Start:

QB Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) vs. BUF: Buffalo struggles to defend the pass, as evident in the 1st half from last week, and Big Ben continues to get better and better. With Buffalo allowing near 16 fantasy points a game to opposing QB’s, get your Big Ben fix this week.

RB Brandon Jacobs (NYG) vs. JAX: Brandon Jacobs looks to get the bulk of the carries on Sunday, and the Jags have allowed 11 rushing TD’s this year, 3rd most in the league. They stopped both Arian Foster and Peyton Hills, but the going will get tougher this week.

WR Nate Burleson (DET) vs. NE THU: With the Lions throwing the most passes in the league, and New England’s pass D continuing to struggle, and Burleson becoming a major part of the Lions passing attack, go for him on Thursday.

WR Santonio Holmes (NYJ) vs. CIN THU: After what the Bengals allowed to Steve Johnson last Sunday, Santonio has to be licking his chops. The hero from the past 2 weeks should see major success against the same poor Bengals D.

TE Jacob Tamme (IND) vs. SD: Tamme has become a legit number 1 tight end due to Dallas Clark’s injury, and despite San Diego’s D being one of the better statistically in the league, they do give up fantasy points to Tight Ends.

DEF Cleveland vs. CAR: Last week the Browns forced 6 turnovers, and had 3 sacks. They’re trending up when facing Carolina and Brian St. Pierre.

Who to Sit:

QB Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. GB: Ryan has been one of the most consistent fantasy QB’s all season, but he could be in for a speed bump against the Packers D, which despite injuries, has allowed 9 passing TD’s all season.

RB Fred Jackson (BUF) vs. PIT: A good spot starter for many owners in the past 2 weeks, but remember, Buffalo faced Cincinnati and Detroit, 2 horrible run defenses. Against Pittsburgh, he should struggle, as the Steelers D is and always had been great against the run.

WR Brandon Marshall (MIA) vs. OAK: I feel sorry for him. Due to a gimpy hamstring, plus Tyler Thigpen starting, and not to mention maybe facing Nnamdi Asomugha, avoid him if possible.

WR Jeremy Maclin (PHI) vs. CHI: The Bears D has been one of the most underrated units in all of football and should give Mike Vick some headaches. It should also be said that the Bears have allowed only 5 TD’s to wideouts this year, limiting what Maclin could potentially do.

TE Marcedes Lewis (JAX) vs. NYG: Here’s your high risk, high reward guy for fantasy all year. He’s either done big things, or nothing at all. This week looks to pose some problems, as the Giants defend the Tight End better than almost anyone in the NFL.

DEF Baltimore vs. TB: Sit the Ravens D? You must be crazy right? No, I’m not. The Bucs are no offensive slouch and despite what they’ve done against the 3 teams with better than .500 records this year, the Ravens D isn’t what it used to be.

3 Super Sleepers for Week 12:

QB Sam Bradford (STL) vs. DEN: Maybe you’re desperate and have no better option, but Denver’s pass D has been horrendous this year. I know the Rams haven’t played well on the road, but this matchup is too tasty to deny.

RB Mike Tolbert (SD) vs. IND: If Ryan Mathews is out this Sunday, watch out for Tolbert. The Colts run D is terrible, and Tolbert looks to be a great play if you need one.

WR Mario Manningham (NYG) vs. JAX: The Jags pass D is pretty bad, and with both of the Giants top 2 WR’s out due to injury, Manningham will see the bulk of the receptions.

Good luck in Week 12, and have a very happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Week 11 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good week 10? Well, I did, until Michael Vick started for my opponent. And, in my other league, the guy had DeSean Jackson. Oh well. Now, there are no more bye weeks, and we’re in it for the stretch run, and the playoffs start soon, so you’d best be ready.

Writers Note: This column won’t include the Thursday night CHI/MIA game.

Who to Start:

QB Mark Sanchez (NYJ) vs. HOU: He’s either been hot, or he hasn’t done anything this year. He’s on a bit of a streak now, and that should continue against a Texans defense that is last in the NFL against the pass, and gave up 342 yards and 2 TD’s to David Garrard last Sunday.

RB Jamaal Charles (KC) vs. ARZ: I know the Chiefs were out of last week’s game very quickly, so we didn’t get a chance to see how good Jamaal Charles could be on the ground. But, we did see him catching screens, and boy is he good at it. Against Arizona’s porous run D, his success should return.

WR Dez Bryant (DAL) vs. DET: Welcome back Cowboys offense! I knew we’d see your return someday! And because of that, expect the potential offensive rookie of the year to light up the Lions secondary, and continue his great season.

WR Mike Williams (TB) vs. SF: This rookie, not to be mistaken with the Mike Williams in Seattle, is having a very nice year for the surprising Bucs. That success should continue against a relatively weak San Francisco secondary.

TE Todd Heap (BAL) vs. CAR: As with a lot of players this year in fantasy, they’ve either been great, or terrible. Todd Heap is one of those players. But, he should find the going easy against a terrible Carolina team who gives up tons of yards to Tight Ends.

DEF Baltimore vs. CAR: Now, technically, shouldn’t this be cheating? I know, but this matchup is so awesome that I just have to talk about it. Carolina is starting journeyman Brian St. Pierre (again- who?) at QB, and have their top 3 running backs consigned to the bench due to injury. Even though the Ravens D has been struggling, this is a must-start for this week.

DEF New Orleans vs. SEA: Because I think the last option was cheating, I’ll give out another. New Orleans is well rested off of their bye, and Seattle struggles to do anything away from Quest Field. The Saints D is back, and should be started this week.

Who to Sit:

QB Donovan McNabb (WSH) vs. TEN: Well then, what does $78 million buy you? 31 point losses on Monday Night and to your former team no less. He shouldn’t perform well against a very good and aggressive Tennessee pass D.

RB LeGarrette Blount (TB) vs. SF: This year has been the year of backs coming out of nowhere to be successful. We all know what Blount is famous for last year, but this year he’s been a consistently decent fantasy option. He should be a benchwarmer on Sunday because the ‘9ers have allowed 3 rushing TD’s all season.

WR Steve Smith (CAR) vs. BAL: Again, isn’t this a given by now with Carolina’s QB troubles? I feel for Steve Smith owners this year. This week should ease your pain, with Smith facing the Ravens D.

WR Donald Driver (GB) vs. MIN: If he is able to return from his gimpy quad, he may not do very well against the Vikings. In his last 7 games against them, he’s averaged 46 yards a game, and only 4 catches in those games.

TE Brent Celek (PHI) vs. NYG: One of the biggest fantasy disappointments lie in Philly. Brent Celek has done next to nothing when Michael Vick has been the QB, only 11 catches for 109 yards.

DEF New England vs. IND: Despite the fact that they played very well, they still gave up 26 points. Even though logic dictates that Peyton Manning will struggle against the Patriots as he commonly has, last year, he threw for 327 yards a 4 TD’s against the Pats.

3 Super Sleepers for Week 11:

QB Colt McCoy (CLE) vs. JAX: I understand that the Browns pass offense hasn’t been great under Colt McCoy, but when he faced a bad New England pass D, he performed well. Jacksonville’s pass D is pretty terrible, so I expect a decent game from the rookie from Texas.

WR Nate Washington (TEN) vs. WSH: Despite the presence of Randy Moss, Washington still caught a TD last week against Miami. If you saw what happened on MNF to the poor Redskins’ D, you’ll know why Washington is a potential major player this week.

TE Zach Miller (OAK) vs. PIT: Starting someone when they’re playing Pittsburgh seems like taboo right? Even though he’s injured, if he starts, he could see plenty of targets with many other Raiders on the shelf due to injury.

Good Luck in Week 11!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An Unbiased Summary of the BCS

It's near the end of the college football regular season, and it's now the time to hear constant complaints about the BCS. People will talk about how it isn't fair to non-AQ schools, and how 1 loss teams from BCS schools are better than teams like Boise State or TCU. Few people talk about the positives of the BCS (here's looking at you Tim Cowlishaw) and why it's actually not that horrible. This is meant to bring all of those arguments together. Why is this being done? To tell everyone that the BCS is going to be stuck with us for awhile, and that we can't do a thing about it. This isn't your typical BCS rant.

One of the overwhelming positives of this system is that it makes every game in the regular season matter. This is a common point, but here's another way to look at it. Would you care more about a college basketball game at midnight between Ohio State and Florida, or a college football game between Boise State and Virginia Tech in the way beginning of each season? Probably the latter. The BCS forces every game to be interesting, and it forces the "BCS Busters" to schedule tough games in order to look better in front of the American public, and coaches of college football. The ratings for Boise/ Virginia Tech were much higher than Ohio State/ Florida, each in the beginning of their seasons. Every game in the college football regular season matters, and carries much more weight than a game between two top 10 teams in college basketball in November.

Another way to think of this is how much better this system is at getting a National Title game than say, the Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition. In the 3 Alliance Bowl national title games, the average margin of victory for the winners was about 32 points a game. Yikes. And, Bowl Alliance didn't include the "Grandaddy of 'em All", the Rose Bowl. Only 1 at-large team was able to qualify for this system, whereas now up to 4 can. And, the possibility of split National Titles was rampant with the Rose Bowl not being included in the Bowl Alliance. The Coaches Poll and AP Poll had 2 different #1 teams after 1997 because of this system. Now look at the BCS. Boise State, Utah, and TCU would have had no shot at a national title under the 2 bowl systems of the '90's. Even though they have a small shot now, it's still a shot. The BCS is light years away from where the previous systems were, and few people look at that as a major positive.

Finally, for the pro side, even though the BCS Buster likely can't compete for a national title, the way that the national title contenders and participants in the BCS is no different from how college basketball teams are picked to play in the field of 68. The same discussions are had about quality of wins, bad losses, records against better teams, etc, just with different people, and a different sport. The same thing holds true if a lock for the BCS loses say, in a conference title, and 1 at-large bid goes away. Just like in the build-up to the NCAA tournament.

Now, that last argument probably sparked many of you to say, "Well, in College Basketball there is a tournament to play out, and in the BCS, it's pre-selected games." This brings up the negatives of the BCS, and though there are many, only a select few jump out.

The first one of those is the possibility of a team with 7 or 8 wins playing a much better team in a BCS bowl game. This issue is very prominent when talking about the Big East champ, which is locked into a BCS bowl game, and therefore takes away an at-large bid from a much better team. For example, in 2004, the Big East champs, the Pitt Panthers who were 8-3, took a spot away from either Iowa, LSU, Boise State or Louisville (when they were in C-USA). Boise was 11-0 that year, but because of the bad Big East champ, Boise lost that spot. This year, the same problem may come up with the Big East champ taking away an at-large bid from a potentially undefeated team. The Big East leader right now is Pitt, and they are unranked in the BCS. According to CBS Sports, their projected Big East winner, USF (6-3 overall), takes a spot away from Oklahoma State or LSU, and they could come in with one loss. This problem isn't readily fixable, but here's a suggestion. How about having all of the BCS teams have a win requirement, or BCS average requirement. Even though that may undermine conference titles, it means that the best 10 teams in the country will play for the BCS bowls, not some chump change champ to get sacrificed to Nebraska or Stanford. The Big East is an example, but the ACC of late has had this issue too.

And onto the major issue with this system is of course, no playoff. The playoff is instituted in every other NCAA sanctioned sport in every division, except here. It's common place now to know why the BCS needs a playoff, or plus 1 system in order to let all the teams have a chance to compete for a National Title. If college basketball can have 68 teams possibly win a title, why can't 8 or 16 teams compete for a national title in football. 8 teams compete for D-2 and D-3 national titles, so why can't D-1 teams? Give Boise State a chance to beat the big boys, or TCU, or a 1 loss Stanford or Wisconsin. The selection process of these 8 or 16 teams would be problematic, but at least it would give every team a shot to win.

There you have one of the only unbiased summaries of the BCS ever. Sure it has its positives and negatives, but, the fans of the college world are stuck with it, at least until 2014-2015. Congress can't change it, so what makes us think that the college presidents would change it? Money still drives this world, and it sure as heck drives the BCS. If the world hasn't ended by the time that changes can happen, something will likely change, but until then, the college football world will be left to watch every Saturday to see teams chances at a crystal trophy smashed because of 1 loss. As much as change is needed, nothing can be done right now. OK, a new AQ conference could be added at the end of next season, but that still won't change the entire system, it will just tweak this one. The drama that surrounds the BCS, on and off the gridiron is what makes college football so interesting. A Saturday with no interesting matchups could smash a teams hope. And for the Saturdays where interesting games abound, there is so much drama, and America is sucked in by it. High drama: who doesn't love that in sports? That's what the BCS brings, and we're stuck with it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Week 10 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good week 9 (and 8 for that matter)? Sorry I couldn’t write last week, things happen. But, at least the NFL hasn’t turned completely upside down in that time (here’s looking at you New England).

Writers Note: This column won’t include the BAL/ATL Thursday Night Game.

Who to Start:

QB Eli Manning (NYG) vs. DAL: I have missed the Cowboys epic collapse, and teams are now feasting on that horrible secondary. Eli Manning has been red hot, along with the rest of the Giants, and this game could turn very ugly, very quickly, as Eli may rack up huge numbers, along with his wideouts.

RB Jamaal Charles (KC) vs. DEN: Even though Thomas Jones got the bulk of the carries last week in Oakland, Charles has been the one racking up yards. He had big numbers against Denver last year, 315 yards and 3 TD’s to be exact, and Denver’s D is pretty abysmal.

WR Steve Johnson (BUF) vs. DET: Who is he again? The Bills new go-to guy through the air, that’s who. He should feast on a bad Lions secondary, as he continues to rack up numbers that perennial fantasy stars haven’t yet reached this year.

WR Mike Wallace (PIT) vs. NE: When Colt McCoy has a good game against you (no disrespect), you know you’re in for trouble against better pass offenses. Pittsburgh is one of those. So, Big Ben will look to his deep threat early and often, giving him the potential for a big day.

TE Marcedes Lewis (JAX) vs. HOU: He’s been this year’s feast or famine guy in fantasy, either having great games, or doing nothing. I expect the former to happen this week, against a Houston pass D that is last in the league, and has allowed 6 TD’s to Tight Ends, 2 of which came against Randy McMichael(who?).

DEF Tampa Bay vs. CAR: Poor Panthers. So many injuries and so little offense all year for them, it’s been pretty painful to watch. With both of the Panthers great running backs nursing injuries, and their pass offense being dreadful, look for the Bucs to capitalize, once again feasting on a bad opponent.

Who to Sit:

QB Carson Palmer (CIN) vs. IND: I know that he had a good game against Pittsburgh on Monday, but Indy despite its problems stopping the run, have defended the pass pretty well with all of their injuries. They’ve only allowed 9 TD passes all year.

RB Felix Jones (DAL) vs. NYG: Not only does the Giants stop the run very well, the ‘Boys have almost completely abandoned the run. So, don’t expect Jones, or Marion Barber, to do anything against the Giants on Sunday.

WR Steve Smith (CAR) vs. TB: I’ve already said that the Panthers offense is offensive, and Steve Smith has done nothing when Jimmy Clausen is starting, which Clausen will on Sunday. 5 catches for 33 yards is all Smith has done in that time.

WR Santana Moss (WSH) vs. PHI MON: He typically does nothing against the Eagles, averaging 26 yards a game in his last 5 against Philly, and only scoring 1 TD against them in that same span. He should again struggle, because the Eagles did a great job stopping Peyton Manning last week.

TE Greg Olsen (CHI) vs. MIN: Other than the fact that the Tight End is sparsely used in the Mike Martz offense, which has been proven all year, the Vikings have allowed 298 yards TOTAL to Tight Ends in 8 games this year. That’s 37 yards a game. Avoid.

DEF New England vs. PIT: It’s been awhile, but now New England doesn’t have a great D to compliment that offense. New England may hit the skids defensively against the aforementioned Steelers offense.

5(Technically 6) Super Sleepers for Week 10 (2 extra because I missed you guys so much):

QB Josh Freeman (TB) vs. CAR: Mr. 4th quarter this season should have a fun matchup against a bad Carolina secondary, of whom he had a good game against in week 2, throwing at 70% completion and having 2 TD’s.

RB Tim Hightower (ARZ) vs. SEA: If Beanie Wells is out and injured on Sunday, look for Hightower to have some success against a Seattle Rush D that has been pretty poor of late.

WR Mike-Sims Walker (JAX) and Kevin Walter (HOU): I have these guys put up in the same line for the same reason: they’re facing each other’s truly terrible pass D, and both could have breakout games.

WR Blair White (IND) vs. CIN: Well, with the Colts rash of injuries to wideouts, it looks like it’s time for Blair White to step up in the slot receiver role. He should perform very well against a poorer than expected Cincy D.

TE Brandon Pettigrew (DET) vs. BUF: Even though Matt Stafford has probably been lost for the year, look for Shaun Hill to target Pettigrew often, who is starting to get his season back on track.

Good Luck in Week 10!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

52 Giant Years Waiting

I was wrong. I was dead wrong. I was horrible at my 2010 MLB playoff predictions, but that is not what this article is about. I am congratulating the 2010 World Champions of baseball, the San Francisco Giants.

All of the great players that once played for this organization, Orlando Cepeda, Robb Nen, J.T Snow, Barry & Bobby Bonds, Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey, never got to hoist the Commissioner's Trophy in the Giants Orange and Black. But this gang of misfits, guys that were castoffs from other teams, came together in Arlington Texas and won the World Series.

This team doesn't have the major offensive weapon that the Braves had in Jason Heyward, that the Phillies had in Utley, Howard and Werth, the Yankees had in A-Rod, and Robby Cano, and finally, the Rangers had in the potential AL MVP, Josh Hamilton. They had guys like Cody Ross, Pat Burrell, Andres Torres, and Edgar Renteria. Most teams put the weight of the series on one guys back. The Giants asked everyone to contribute something, small or something you can't see on TV, but something nevertheless. In the NLCS, it was Cody Ross hitting 2 homers off of Roy Halladay in Game 1. And in this series, it was Renteria, evoking moments of 1997 Game 7 for the Marlins, when he hit a walk-off base hit with his 3 run homer off of Cliff Lee in the 7th. He joins a select group of players, who have hit game-winning RBI's in 2 World Series. Guys like, Lou Gehrig, and Yogi Berra are part of this exclusive club.

Duane Kuiper, the esteemed Giants broadcaster, coined this phrase about the Giants season. "Giants baseball... torture!" And a child at the park held up a sign that said, "Torture has ended". Maybe the "torture" was watching the great closer, Brian Wilson, work around major trouble to record a save. 2 runners on in Game 6 of the NLCS, but he did it. Not as much trouble in World Series Game 5, but he did it anyway. The torture sure couldn't be from the starting rotation. Tim Lincecum beat Roy Halladay once and Cliff Lee twice. Matt Cain had one of the greatest pitching performances in playoff history every time he stepped onto the mound. He shut out the Phillies and Rangers. And 21 year-old Madison Bumgarner put on a show in Game 4 in Arlington. It all came together for this team, this gang of misfits.

It may seem like I'm sucking up to this team, but why would I? They were the best team in these playoffs, and I doubted them. Shame on me for doubting them 2 times. The Texas Rangers had a great season, one filled with distractions and troubles, and for them to make the World Series was shocking in its own right.
But these San Francisco Giants haven't only won the World Series for all of the fans in San Francisco that have been waiting 52 years. They won it for all of the great players that have worn the orange SF on their cap, and couldn't bring it home.

Giants' fans: you can erase the bad memories of the Earthquake in 1989. You can erase memories of the rally monkey, and Scott Spezio. Now you have your own moments to hang your hat on. Congratulations, you have won the World Series. Let that thought sink in, if it hasn't already.