Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Week 17 Fantasy Advice

If you're still playing for a fantasy title this week, then shame on you for picking a bad league. Sorry, I had to say it. Good luck if you're still playing, but this week there are very few sure plays, because it's week 17.

Who to Start:

QB Philip Rivers (SD) vs. OAK: The Chargers are mad. They're gonna want to play hard for Norv Turner, who will likely be fired after the game. The Raiders have a very bad defense, and the Chargers badly want to play spoiler. This is a good combination for Rivers and the Chargers.

RB C.J Spiller (BUF) vs. NE: He's finally showing why the Bills drafted him so high last year, with good performances against Miami and Denver. He should have another one against the bad Patriots defense, no matter what the situation.

WR Hakeem Nicks (NYG) vs. DAL: Both of the teams in the NFC East Title game have horrible defenses, but I'd feel more confident in Nicks because his QB situation is more stable. He should have a big game Sunday night.

TE Brent Celek (PHI) vs. WSH: He's enjoyed a nice resurgence this season, and that should continue against a terrible Redskins defense that lost to Joe Webb and Toby Gerhart last weekend.

DEF Atlanta vs. TB: Tampa Bay has lost 9 in a row, and they haven't looked very good in any of those games. Atlanta may or may not have anything to play for, but that doesn't change the fact that this is a good matchup.

Who to Sit:

QB Joe Flacco (BAL) vs. CIN: He's struggled at points this season, including last week against Cleveland.  The Bengals have plenty of motivation for this Sunday, and their defense has been very stout for most of the year.

RB Shonn Greene (NYJ) vs. MIA:  The Dolphins surprisingly rank 3rd in the NFL against the run, and they should do a good job stopping the inconsistent Jets running attack, led by Greene.

WR Antonio Brown (PIT) vs. CLE: Despite being the Steelers team MVP this season, he won't have the best of luck against a stout Cleveland secondary, even if Big Ben plays.

TE Kellen Winslow (TB) vs. ATL: He just hasn't played very well all season, and he hasn't been a featured option in the Bucs arsenal. Even in PPR leagues, he's still not a very viable start this week.

DEF Cincinnati vs. BAL: Fantasy wise, this defense hasn't been the best unit out there, as they aren't a very high scoring fantasy defense. The Ravens have the potential to spoil the Bengals postseason party, so watch out for this unit.

Super Sleeper:

QB Dan Orlovsky (IND) vs. JAX: If you're VERY desperate, Orlovsky may be the start for you. He's had a very good last 2 weeks, and the Jaguars defense is so banged up, that many players don't even know the guys behind them. Orlovsky has a chance to light up the injured Jags defense.

Buyer Beware:

TE Vernon Davis (SF) vs. STL: Can you believe that as bad as the Rams are, they are very good defending the Tight End? Neither can I, but if you have Vernon Davis starting, you may want to.

Good Luck in Week 17, and I hope you have enjoyed these columns all season long. Through the playoffs, I'll be writing previews for each of the 11 games through the postseason, so you don't want to miss those.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The 2011 Year-End Awards

It's now time to say goodbye to 2011, and what better way to do it than with a crummy awards post! These aren't your normal awards though, and the winners may not be too happy to receive them. What do the recipients get as winners? Notoriety on a little known sports blog written by a nobody. Better than a razzie, I guess. Here goes nothing:

The "Just Shut Up" Award: Jay Bilas

When UAB and VCU were selected for the NCAA Tournament back in March, many were up in arms, including Bilas, but unlike Joe the plumber, Bilas can easily spew his thoughts on national TV. This is what he said about the selections, "The committee has gone against its own principles. UAB, VCU, why are they in? They were never mentioned [as a possibility] for a reason. ...These are horrible decisions. We need more basketball people on the committee. These are bad, indefensible decisions." Well, VCU's defense was going to the Final 4. Proving people wrong is always fun, but it's even more fun when you can shut someone up in the way that VCU did to Jay Bilas, and to most people, honestly.

The "#SidneyCrosbyIsAVampire" Award: Tim McCarver

(If you don't know what the hashtag means, search it on google). This goes to the person who said the absolute stupidest thing you've heard all year in sports. Tim McCarver said this during the World Series:

"It's a five letter word: S-T-R-I-K-E." Nothing more to say here.

The "Wipeout Special" Award: Ryan Braun

Aside from the steroid allegations, Mr. Braun had a pretty good year. Except for the time when he tried to go for an inside the park home run. He then fell on his way to home. I wonder what John Anderson would have thought about that if he was on the show... I'd be more concerned about Braun hitting his head on a huge red rubber ball and falling into a pile of mud. His hair wouldn't be safe.

The "We Should Have Been Soccer Refs" Award: The refs in the Toledo/Syracuse Game I think this speaks for itself.

The "Shameless Plug of the Year" Award: Brent Musberger

Just before Auburn won the national title, Brent Musberger probably uttered one of the worst lines in the history of sports announcing: "This is for all the Tostitos".  So, by the time the Allstate Title Game comes around, will that game be for "all the insurance"? At least it would be better than with the Potato Bowl, where he'd say "This is for all the potatoes".

The "Rich Kotite Award for Coaching Stupidity": Jason Garrett

Now we all know about icing the kicker, and how it almost never works. We've seen coaches take two timeouts in a row in an attempt to ice the kicker. But, until Week 13 of this NFL season, we've never seen a coach ice his own kicker.  At least until Jason Garrett did that. It would be a shame if the Cowboys fell one game short of the postseason because of that stupid mistake... which they will if they lose against the Giants. No Vanilla Ice quote needed here.

The "Biggest Insult to Journalism Ever" Award: Skip Bayless

If you know anything about Skip Bayless, you'll know that he has an unabashed man-crush on Tim Tebow. His dealings with him on First Take are Grade A comedy, and also the only time in your life when you'll feel sorry for Stephen A. Smith. One can only wonder what would happen if Thom Brennaman, Bayless, and Tebow were in a room all alone together... nah, I don't want to think about that.

The "Brian Bosworth" Award: Tim Tebow

When he patented "Tebowing" after his win against the Dolphins, and also shocked everyone with his ability to force people like Marion Barber to go out of bounds when he needed to stay in bounds, "Tebow Time" was born. It, like "the Boz", may have died in a phoenix flame with his two losses against New England and Buffalo, and would be even more hilarious if he can't beat the QB he essentially ran out of town in order to get Denver into the postseason.

And finally... "The Bernie Madoff Sham of the Year" Award: The NBA

Surprisingly, this doesn't go to the Wilpons even though this award would fit them perfectly.  No, the NBA led by Emperor Stern deserves this award. When they nearly lost their entire season due to a lockout, many thought that something would have changed for the league to have accomplished one of their missions, which was to bring about more competitive balance. And then... the team the NBA owns, the New Orleans Hornets, promptly tried to trade Chris Paul to the LA Lakers, proving that the lockout accomplished nothing. But then, Emperor Stern waved his magic wand, and the trade was vetoed for no reason that was legit in any way, other than "basketball reasons". Why Gary Bettman doesn't do this with every trade the Phoenix Coyotes try to make is beyond me, but anyway... Before the lockout, the NBA was still a sorry league in my mind, and with this trade fiasco, it didn't get a better profile. The league might as well have contracted 22 teams, because 8 are the only ones that will be able to compete.

Hope everyone enjoyed 2011, and here's to an interesting 2012, in which the world doesn't blow up.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011 Week 16 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 15? If you did, you're probably in the fantasy finals this weekend, or in the semis. This is it, and everything you have prepared for has come down to this one game, and knowing your matchups and who will be playing big and who won't is obviously key.

NOTE: Unless indicated, all games on Saturday.

Who to Start:

QB Rex Grossman (WSH) vs. MIN: He may not be the greatest option available, but he sure has plenty of people singing his fantasy praises, mainly because he's facing the absolutely dreadful Vikings secondary. He had a good game against a bad Giants secondary last week, and he may have an even better game this Sunday.

RB Rashard Mendenhall (PIT) vs. STL: If Big Ben doesn't play, his stock goes up even higher, but regardless, he'll have a huge game against the simply awful St. Louis defense, which seems to get torched every other week.

WR Dwayne Bowe (KC) vs. OAK: Without a decent QB under center, he was left for dead as a decent fantasy starter. But with Orton starting and with Kansas City playing the Raiders secondary that gets torched every week, he should have a huge game this Sunday.

WR Santonio Holmes (NYJ) vs. NYG: The Jets have to win this Sunday, and it may be the most important game in Mark Sanchez's career. He's facing a terrible Giants secondary, so Sanchez could have a big game, and his favorite target Santonio Holmes should too.

TE Brent Celek (PHI) vs. DAL: He's had a renaissance as a fantasy option this season, and he should continue to have huge success, especially playing the listless Dallas defense. He also had a huge game against Dallas back in Week 8 which started his turn upward.

DEF Tennessee vs. JAX: The Jaguars offense has been offensive this season, and the Titans have to win this game in order to stay in the playoff hunt. The Titans are also ticked off after losing to Indy last week, so they may play with increased fervor against a bad Jaguars team.

Who to Sit:

QB Eli Manning (NYG) vs. NYJ: I know he's the 3rd best passer in the NFL in terms of yards this season, but he will have trouble against the Jets secondary, even though they got torched by the Eagles last week. The interceptions are probably going to be killer for Eli.

RB Peyton Hillis (CLE) vs. BAL: He's been a mainstay in the "sit" column for weeks now, and that won't change against the Ravens, who are mad after their bad loss in San Diego and haven't lost at home all season.

WR Brandon Lloyd (STL) vs. PIT: It really doesn't matter who starts under center for the Rams, it's not going to be pretty for them on Saturday against the Steelers, who don't give up much of anything on defense. Lloyd might as well be on the waiver wire.

WR Pierre Garcon (IND) vs. HOU: The Texans secondary has been awesome this season, and it will be tough for Dan Orlovsky to throw the ball down the field against this very good Texans secondary. The Colts will have trouble on a short week against the AFC South champs (I know, right? Houston winning anything...)

TE Greg Olsen (CAR) vs. TB: Sometimes he has big games, other times he's totally invisible, and he probably will be invisible this Saturday. It looks like Jeremy Shockey has become the number 1 target for Cam Newton at the TE position, so Olsen looks like one to bench.

DEF Chicago vs. GB SUN: I know it's hard to bench the Bears defense right now, but going up against the angry Packers team right now, it doesn't bode well for them. The Bears are essentially sacrificial lambs this week against Green Bay.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Matt Moore (MIA) vs. NE: It's no secret that the Patriots secondary is terrible, and Matt Moore may be able to feast on it on Saturday. The Dolphins have won 5 of 7, and they are playing well, and with Matt Moore looking good, he could be a decent sleeper option if you don't have a better one.

WR Demariyus Thomas (DEN) vs. BUF: The Bills secondary has been ravaged by injuries, and with Tebow time coming into town, Thomas could have a big game against the Bills who have lost 7 in a row since their 5-2 start.

TE Jared Cook (TEN) vs. JAX: The Jags have been torched all season by Tight Ends, and that probably will continue with Jared Cook on Saturday. He should see plenty of targets this weekend, and should have a big game.

Buyer Beware:

RB Marshawn "Skittles" Lynch (SEA) vs. SF: Obviously, he has had huge games in the past couple of weeks, but remember this when playing him: San Francisco has not allowed a rushing TD all season. Lynch may go into beast mode, but not do anything against the stout SF defense.

Good Luck in Week 16 and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

2011 Week 15 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 14? Everyone should be in fantasy playoffs territory right now, so it's all or nothing, which means these conflicts that you inevitably have right now are the toughest of the season. So, making the right picks is extremely important.

Who to Start:

QB Matthew Stafford (DET) vs. OAK: He had a big game last week against a very bad Vikings secondary, and this week, he goes up against an equally bad Raiders secondary. The Lions have to keep winning in order to make the playoffs, and it will mean a throwing clinic for Matt Stafford on Sunday.

RB Beanie Wells (ARZ) vs. CLE: The Browns are second to last against the run, which means Arizona will likely try to run the football no matter whether Red John Skelton or Kevin Kolb is starting. Beanie has had an up and down season, but this week looks like to be an up week.

WR Jordy Nelson (GB) vs. KC: With Greg Jennings out for the remainder of the regular season, and with the Packers still having something to play for, Nelson should have a big game against a Kansas City secondary that got torched by Mark Sanchez of all people.

WR Santana Moss (WSH) vs. NYG: The Giants have had their fair share of problems defending the pass this season, and that probably won't change this Sunday. Rex Grossman has played better of late, so Moss should have a big game this week.

TE Tony Gonzalez (ATL) vs. JAX THU: Gonzalez is having another career year, and he should continue that pace against a very banged up Jaguars defense that doesn't defend the Tight End very well.

DEF Cincinnati vs. STL: The Rams offense has simply been offensive to watch this season (see Monday Night as your example), and the Bengals defense has been a very surprising unit the season. This is a great combination for fantasy owners.

Who to Sit:

QB Alex Smith (SF) vs. PIT MON: He's been wildly inconsistent this year, and going up against the Steelers defense will not help his fantasy case at all. Don't start him unless you have no other choice.

RB Peyton Hillis (CLE) vs. ARZ: Madden Curse! Hooray!

WR DeSean Jackson (PHI) vs. NYJ: His fantasy production has been terrible of late, and this doesn't bode well for owners when he has to play the Jets defense next. He's a very risky play this week.

WR Anquan Boldin (BAL) vs. SD: He has not been very good at all this season fantasy wise, and with the Chargers defense enjoying a nice resurgence of late, especially in the last 3 games, he's a risky start this week.

TE Greg Olsen (CAR) vs. HOU: Despite his good game a week ago, he's not a good play this week against a Texans defense that has been very good against Tight Ends this season.

DEF Denver vs. NE: Even though the Broncos defense has been touched by Tebow, they will not have a good game against the high powered Patriots offense.

3 Super Sleepers:

RB Felix Jones (DAL) vs. TB SAT: In the absence of DeMarco Murray, Jones should have a good game against a Tampa Bay defense that gave up 41 points to a Jaguars team that hadn't scored more than 20 in a game all season.

WR Demaryius Thomas (DEN) vs. NE: He should have a good game against the terrible New England secondary, and who knows, he may have some good numbers in the first half too.

DEF Arizona vs. CLE: The Browns will likely be starting Seneca Wallace on Sunday, which is a good sign for  a resurgent Arizona defense this season.

Buyer Beware:

RB Frank Gore (SF) vs. PIT MON: Even though he's very tough to bench at this point in the season, he will surely have some struggles against the stout Steelers defense, even though the 49ers will likely try to run to establish the tempo on offense.

Good Luck in Week 15!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

2011 Week 14 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 14? For some of you, it's playoff time, if not, it's about to be. So of course, the starts and sits are as big this week as ever, so making the right picks is crucial in a week like this. You can take off from looking at the MLB Hotstove for 10 minutes to read this, can't you?

Who to Start:

QB Matt Stafford (DET) vs. MIN: Even though he's been struggling big time of late, the Vikings should be the cure for what ails him. When Tim Tebow can throw for over 200 yards on a secondary, you know it's bad. Stafford should have a fantasy field day.

RB Reggie Bush (MIA) vs. PHI: He has been a good fantasy option in Miami's stretch of 4 wins in 5 contests, and he should have more success against the porous Eagles defense on Sunday.

WR Percy Harvin (MIN) vs. DET: He has been on fire of late, and is soon becoming Christian Ponder's favorite target. The Lions have been lit up in the secondary of late, so Harvin could have another big day in the Motor City.

WR Anquan Boldin (BAL) vs. IND: I know he has struggled at points this season, but he won't struggle against the awful Colts secondary, who just had 2 more regulars placed on IR this past week. Boldin could have a breakout game.

TE Kellen Winslow (TB) vs. JAX: No matter who is starting for the Bucs on Sunday in Jacksonville, Winslow could have a big day, because the Jaguars have had their Lions share of issues defending opposing Tight Ends. He's a risk, but one worth taking.

DEF Denver vs. CHI: Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, are just 2 of the very potent Bears offensive stars that are not going to be playing in Denver. The offense looked abysmal against Kansas City last week, and Denver's defense has had a resurgence of late (Tebow Touch). Start them this week.

Who to Sit:

QB Mark Sanchez (NYJ) vs. KC: I bet by saying this, he'll throw 3 TD's on Sunday, but nevertheless, he has been very tough to figure this season as a fantasy QB, so I'd watch out against the Chiefs, who have played well defensively in the last 2 weeks, only allowing 16 points total.

RB Peyton Hillis (CLE) vs. PIT THU: The Madden Curse has hit him maybe harder than anyone else ever afflicted with this terrible case. He should be playing on Thursday despite a hip injury, but don't expect him to do very much against the Steelers stout defense.

WR DeSean Jackson (PHI) vs. MIA: Whether he's given up or not, he should struggle no matter what against a resurgent Miami defense. Jackson's effort may be his biggest obstacle Sunday at Sun Life stadium.

WR Pierre Garcon (IND) vs. BAL: Don't let last Sunday's numbers fool you, he's still not a viable fantasy option under these circumstances. The Ravens are a hell of a lot better than New England is in the secondary, and garbage time won't be nearly as pretty for the Colts this time around.

TE Brandon Pettigrew (DET) vs. MIN: In the past few weeks, the only thing notable he's done on the scoresheet is get a personal foul for punching a ref. With the Vikings having only allowed 4 total TD's to opposing Tight Ends this season, Pettigrew should ride your bench.

DEF Tennessee vs. NO: They've quietly been the reason why the Titans are in playoff contention, and have been a solid fantasy defense as well. However, they may have some trouble against Drew Brees and the high powered Saints offense, the likes of which the Titans haven't seen all season.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Whoever starts for Tampa vs. JAX: The injury riddled Jaguars secondary was torched on Monday Night against San Diego, and if you're truly desperate, one of Josh Freeman, Josh Johnson, or even Rudy Carpenter, could be major sleeper options.

TE Heath Miller (PIT) vs. CLE THU: The Steelers usually find success against the lowly Browns, and Heath Miller should be no exception. He has often scored TD's against the Browns, and I have a feeling he will again.

DEF Seattle vs. STL MON: The Rams may have to start an injured Sam Bradford or a 3rd string Tom Brandstater (Go Fresno State) on Monday, so this defense which picked off Vince Young 4 times, may have another big game.

Buyer Beware:

QB Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) vs. CLE THU: The Browns in a season of struggles have had a big season in the secondary defending the pass, so that could be a warning sign against starting Big Ben on Thursday.

Good Luck in Week 14!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2011 Week 13 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 12? We are getting very close to the fantasy playoff season, and when that comes around, you need all the momentum you can get. Having a high seed helps too. For some, this is the most important week on the fantasy calendar, so be ready.

Who to Start:

QB Matthew Stafford (DET) vs. NO: He's been up and down all season, but this week he has a favorable matchup against a Saints secondary that doesn't have much going for it right now. They don't force many turnovers, and they allow a ton of yards. Stafford should have a big game in a shootout.

RB LeGarrette Blount (TB) vs. CAR: The Panthers have been awful this season against the run, and Blount has really started an upswing starting in Green Bay and continuing in Nashville last Sunday. He should continue his momentum upward this week.

WR Jordy Nelson (GB) vs. NYG: He's now pretty much an every week start now, isn't he? With the Giants defense banged up and looking pretty awful, Nelson should exploit matchups against rookie linebackers and bad corners, so he should have a big game for the undefeated Pack.

WR Eric Decker (DEN) vs. MIN: When Tim Tebow throws the football (not often), Decker is the main target. He has scored a TD in 4 straight games when Tebow has thrown a TD pass. The Vikings secondary is very bad, so Decker may have another big game.

TE Fred Davis (WSH) vs. NYJ: He may be one of the biggest fantasy successes you don't know a whole lot about. He has been racking up points this season, and it does help that he will be facing one of the worst teams defending the Tight End in the Jets.

DEF New England vs. IND: The Colts are starting Paul Justin Dan Orlovsky against the Pats on Sunday. Wasn't he on the last team that went winless in a season? Oh yeah. The Pats D will come up big on Sunday.

Who to Sit:

QB Carson Palmer (OAK) vs. MIA: He's been lighting the world on fire since he took over the Raiders starting QB job; he's 3-1 as a starter. However against Miami, he may struggle because the Dolphins have been playing much better of late, especially in the secondary.

RB Jackie Battle (KC) vs. CHI: He has had scattered big games throughout the season in the absence of Jamaal Charles, but he's losing favor to Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster fast. It doesn't help that the matchup against the Bears is not at all favorable.

WR Stevie Johnson (BUF) vs. TEN: Even if he doesn't (fake) shooting himself in the foot on Sunday, he won't have success against Cortland Finnegan, who has quietly been one of the best man-to-man cover corners in the NFL this season. He enjoyed Revis Island, but a trip to Finnegan's may not be so pleasant.

WR Santana Moss (NYJ) vs. WSH: I hope he enjoys his trip to Revis Island this Sunday. I have a sneaking suspicion that he won't.

TE Greg Olsen (CAR) vs. TB: He has fallen of the face of the fantasy earth lately, and even though the Bucs don't defend the Tight End well, Cam Newton will likely look for other options in Tampa on Sunday more often.

DEF New York Giants vs. GB: Everyone saw what happened to the Giants defense on Monday Night in New Orleans, and their next task is to stop Aaron Rodgers. I smell a repeat performance in store for the Big Blue defense.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Caleb Hanie (CHI) vs. KC: Despite his nature for turning over the ball often, he can run better than some QB's on the waiver wire right now. That should help his performance somewhat, so he may have a big game on Sunday.

WR Deion Branch (NE) vs. IND: He went all Super Bowl XXXIX on the Eagles last Sunday, and with his true success continuing to become a factor, he could have another big game against the hapless Colts on Sunday.

DEF San Diego vs. JAX MON: They have been a major disappointment all year, but they may finally have a good week against the Jaguars on Monday, who are dead last in the NFL in offense, despite making numerous and noted coaching changes this week.

Buyer Beware:

QB Eli Manning (NYG) vs. GB: Even though the matchup seems favorable, I'd be very weary of Manning on Sunday. The Packers force a ton of turnovers, and Eli has been doing that more often of late. He may get a ton of yards, but they may be garbage time yards, not meaningful ones.

Good Luck in Week 13!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

2011 Week 12 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 12? In some leagues, the playoffs are right around the corner, and therefore all the points you need to win may have to come from new guys based on the many injuries around the league. That's why you look here before you engorge yourself on turkey, right?

Who to Start:

QB Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. MIN: Matt Ryan has been scorching hot of late, especially since the Falcons came off their bye week. Minnesota has been terrible defending the pass of late, so Ryan could have another big game on Sunday for the Falcons.

RB Beanie Wells (ARZ) vs. STL: Fantasy running backs have been as a group struggling of late, and good ones have been tougher to come by. Wells has a good matchup against the Rams, who are a team that doesn't defend the run very well, so Beanie could have a big game.

WR Steve Smith (CAR) vs. IND: The Colts are about as bad as it gets, and they have no defense. Advantage: Cam Newton and the Panthers. Steve Smith will benefit.

WR DeSean Jackson (PHI) vs. NE: It doesn't really matter who starts at QB for the Eagles, because Jackson should get targets either way. The Patriots have had well documented problems defending the pass, so Jackson could have another big week.

TE Owen Daniels (HOU) vs. JAX: Not only do the Jaguars have struggles defending the Tight End, Matt Leinart will surely need a safety blanket on Sunday, with the Jaguars overall having a decent pass defense. Daniels should have a big game.

DEF Pittsburgh vs. KC: It doesn't matter who starts for the Chiefs, they will not have any success against a rested Steelers defense. Tyler Palko looked awful against a bad Pats D, so that won't bode well when he plays against a good Steelers D.

Who to Sit:

QB Joe Flacco (BAL) vs. SF THU: The 49ers defense has been a major success story this season, and with the tendency of Flacco to have off and on weeks, this matchup does not look good for the Ravens signal caller.

RB Willis McGahee (DEN) vs. SD: The Chargers have been pretty stout against the run, and McGahee has been struggling of late. Tebow time will take over, and that may not include running with McGahee.

WR Reggie Wayne (IND) vs. CAR: Don't you feel a little sorry for him? I do, and neither of the Colts QB's can get the ball to him down the field, and that likely will continue, despite the Colts playing the bad Carolina defense.

WR Jerome Simpson (CIN) vs. CLE: He had a big week last week, but I don't think that will happen against a very good secondary that the Browns have, led by Joe Haden. He probably will struggle this week.

TE Dustin Keller (NYJ) vs. BUF: His production has taken a sharp nosedive, as he hasn't scored a TD since Week 2 against Jacksonville. He's been nearly invisible, so he is a major risk to start this Sunday against Buffalo.

DEF New York Giants vs. NO MON: Even though the Giants are a good fantasy D unit, they will have some serious troubles against the Saints offense, which is well rested, and can absolutely torch a defense, especially one like the Giants have with all of the injuries.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Tim Tebow (DEN) vs. SD: It really doesn't matter if his numbers aren't gaudy, he just gets big fantasy points in every game. Against a Chargers defense that has been struggling big time, Tebow may have big numbers once again.

RB DeAngelo Williams/Jonathan Stewart (CAR) vs. IND: Despite the fact that they both have not had amazing seasons, they will rebound this week against the horrendous Colts run defense. Anyone else smelling blowout?

DEF Seattle vs. WSH: They aren't a good unit overall, but when they play Washington, they may have a good week. Teams playing the Redskins usually have good defensive games, and everyone knows why that's true.

Buyer Beware:

QB Carson Palmer (OAK) vs. CHI: Even though he has been producing big numbers since he took over the starting job, he may have some troubles this week against the Bears defense which has been surging of late. Watch out for this matchup.

Good Luck in Week 12, and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Did You See That: The Tebow Effect

If I presented you this career stat line of: 97/207, 1,363 yards, 12 TD's, and 4 INT's, you may not think much of it. You may think this is the line of a pretty decent backup QB. He's also rushed for 615 yards on 99 attempts. Not bad. But would you pick him as your team's starting QB over who they have already? Many would say no. But, what if I told you the QB was Tim Tebow? Everything changes. Such is the Tebow phenomenon that has swept the NFL, where a QB with mediocre stats becomes one of the league's posterboys. And, his game winning drives have led to the notion that, "All he does is win." There are not many players to compare to Tebow, but I think I may have found one...

There was a famous QB who played for Boston College named Doug Flutie. Flutie of course, made his name for an amazing play in college, which ended up defining his campaign to win the Heisman Trophy. The so called "Flutie Effect" got more people to apply to Boston College because of their sudden football prowess.  His career in the NFL got off to a rocky start, and he eventually had success in the USFL and CFL before ever getting his true chance in the NFL. But, when came to Buffalo in 1998 along with Rob Johnson (a mistake in itself), the tide was turning. In his first NFL start in 9 seasons against Jacksonville in 1998, he perfected the art he became famous for... leading a team in the dying seconds to victory, often by scrambling. Sound familiar? The Bills were 2-3 when Flutie took over for an injured Rob Johnson, and Flutie led them to an 8-3 record from that point. Starting to really sound familiar? He almost pulled off the same magic in the AFC Wildcard Game against Dan Marino and Miami, but they fell short in OT. Flutie magic, as silly as it was, became an NFL staple for 5 years.

Tebow Magic strikes me as familiar. The first 55 minutes of a game are tough to watch, and aren't artistry at all, but once crunch time starts, Tebow works his "magic". "All he does is win", reminds me a lot of what Doug Flutie did for the Bills and Chargers. He was not scouted highly due to his height, 5'10", but yet he still found a way to win. Tebow has very little skill at throwing the football, but hell, all he does is win. After a QB change in the 6th game of their campaigns, they lead their teams to comeback victories that cement their status. Flutie's run led Buffalo to the postseason, as improbable as it was, despite the loss in the Wild Card game. Tebow's success is very similar.

This is not a perfect comparison, as Flutie arguably had better numbers, and a better throwing motion. But, Flutie wasn't the QB like Elway, or Marino. He more played like Rob Johnson at times. Tim Tebow isn't a QB who will play like Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers, he'll sometimes play like... well... Kyle Orton. But, "Flutie Magic" or "Tebow Magic" wipes all of that out of the ether. Just winning is all that matters. Forget the fact that the teams they played weren't necessarily playing at their best, or sometimes, playing really bad games, or the fact that their numbers weren't amazing, they won. That's it, and that's all.

Broncos fans sure hope Tebow has more success than Flutie did. Flutie never won a playoff game, and since the controversial decision to start Rob Johnson over him in the 1999 Wild Card game, the Bills haven't been back to the playoffs. They both won Heismans. They both had major college success. They both had many doubters. Yet, they won. But, John Elway knows this is not the long term answer at QB in Tebow, and you can see it on his face every time they win with Tebow. Higher ups in the Bills organization knew that Flutie wasn't a long term answer at QB, which may explain why he was benched in 1999 AFC Wild Card Game in Nashville.  He may win now, but the success isn't sustainable.

Both of these QB's have done amazing things that boggle the mind sometimes, but winning is the key. All the Tebow supporters need to see and compare Doug Flutie's success to that of their hero, and see how similar they are. They don't want it to end the same way as Flutie, but it just may, the way this is going. To finish the Flutie story, he went to San Diego after Buffalo for 3 years, and didn't do very much with a struggling Drew Brees alongside him. Then he made dropkicks in New England, and won a Super Bowl sitting on the bench. Maybe Tebow from the bench can inspire his new team to win a Super Bowl...

It's not a perfect comparison, but it's one that must be considered. The NFL is a league of balancing short-term success and long term viability, and with Tebow and Flutie, a fine line has been walked. What side of the line Tebow ends up on is an open question, but will the short term gains outweigh the long term promises? That is something for John Elway and John Fox to decide. Tebow won't stop being Tebow, but will the Broncos themselves stop it?

No one knows, just ask Doug Flutie.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

2011 Week 11 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 10? Hard to believe that we're already at Week 11, but there is still some time to make a comeback in order to make the playoffs. They do start relatively soon, you know. And that's why you come here to check out this post.


Who to Start:

QB Carson Palmer (OAK) vs. MIN: He had a big night last Thursday against the Chargers, and this week, he goes up against a Vikings secondary that is really bad, and just lost their top corner Antoine Winfield for the year. Ouch. Palmer is steadily improving, so he should be a great play this week.

RB Reggie Bush (MIA) vs. BUF: He's enjoyed resurgent performances in his last 3 games, where he's finally played like the back that Miami expected him to be. On Sunday, he goes up against a Buffalo defense that got torched by DeMarco Murray last Sunday, and so Bush could have another big day.

WR Plaxico Burress (NYJ) vs. DEN THU: With Champ Bailey likely putting Santonio Holmes out on an island for most of the game, Burress should have a great matchup. The Denver defense is reeling, and is not very good at defending the pass.

WR Jordy Nelson (GB) vs. TB: We all know Aaron Rodgers spreads the ball around to everyone, and Jordy Nelson is just one of the guys. However, it seems that Nelson is getting more targets and TD's lately. To further his start, the Bucs come in 28th in pass defense. Watch out.

TE Tony Gonzalez (ATL) vs. TEN: The Titans do have trouble defending Tight Ends, and considering that Gonzalez is one of the most targeted TE's in the NFL, he could and should have a big game on Sunday.

DEF New England vs. KC MON: Tyler Palko. Enough said.

Who to Sit:

QB Joe Flacco (BAL) vs. CIN: Despite the fact that Leon Hall is out for Cincy for the rest of the season, Flacco has still been pretty bad overall this season. The Bengals defense is tenacious, so Flacco could struggle some on Sunday.

RB Any Washington Running Back vs. DAL: This is a new kind of bench suggestion, isn't it? Due to the fact that Mike Shanahan likes to bench and start players when you least expect him to, watch out for starting any Redskin back. It also doesn't help that Dallas has a good run defense.

WR DeSean Jackson (PHI) vs. NYG: I know what you're thinking, but considering the struggles that Jackson has had this season, and especially due to the uncertainty at the QB position for Philly, he may not have a very good game on Sunday against the Giants.

WR Eric Decker (DEN) vs. NYJ: He'll be on Revis Island, and there is a legit chance the Broncos may call fewer passing plays than the 8 they did last Sunday. Stay as far away as possible.

TE Jermaine Gresham (CIN) vs. BAL: The Ravens are very good at defending opposing Tight Ends, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the Ravens are going to be very mad when they play the Bengals on Sunday. Watch out.

DEF San Diego vs. CHI: The Bolts have been struggling mightily on defense, due to injuries and just overall drops in production. The Bears are hot coming into the game, and their offense has been very dynamic. I doubt the Bolts will have success on defense.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Alex Smith (SF) vs. ARZ: The Cardinals pass defense has been atrocious this season despite a good performance last week, but don't expect that to continue. Alex Smith has been quiet and consistent this season, but he may have a big game this week.

WR Denarius Moore (OAK) vs. MIN: He broke out against the Chargers, and considering the way Palmer targets his receivers, Moore could have another big game against the porous Vikings on Sunday.

DEF Cleveland vs. JAX: They have been a quiet and consistent unit this season, but they may have a big game against a Jacksonville offense that is last in the NFL and has found no rhythm aside from Maurice Jones-Drew. They are free agents in most leagues, so if you lost the Steelers or Texans D, the Browns may be a good unit to pick.

Buyer Beware:

QB Tony Romo (DAL) vs. WSH: I won't say that his performance last week was a mirage, but the Redskins pass defense has been pretty good this season, only allowing 8 total TD passes. Romo may have a slump this Sunday.

Good Luck in Week 11!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

ESPN: The Worldwide Leader in Scandal Coverage

All sports fans right now seem well immersed in the whole Penn State rape scandal, but maybe a little too much. Everyone was tuned into the riots that occurred on Wednesday night resulting from Joe Paterno being fired. The coverage from many news outlets, from the local affiliates in Pennsylvania to ESPN and CNN has been superb, but, has a line been crossed? Ever since the story broke, it has overtaken many other newsworthy stories in sports, and completely shoved them out of the equation. I know how monumental this story is in the sports world, but maybe it's time to move on.

Here are a couple of stories that were either missed or barely covered last night as a result of the Penn State scandal: Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was kidnapped in his native Venezuela by gunmen and hasn't been heard from. That is a pretty big story, and it was barely covered last night. The NBA lockout negotiations continue on, and are right now in a precarious situation where they could collapse at any minute. That was barely covered, aside from interviews with Ric Bucher and Chris Broussard which few people heard because they were asleep. The former Rutgers player that was paralyzed on a kickoff return, Eric Legrand, tweeted that he was going to start walking on a treadmill. That is touching, and heartwarming, but you only saw that through twitter. And, UCF got a scathing notice from the NCAA of allegations that are more serious than any of the other scandals seen this year, but no mentions. You see?

There was also an interesting dichotomy in the coverage provided in different countries. The U.S got too much coverage it seems from ESPN, and Canada got next to none with TSN. I know the sports priorities in each country are vastly different, but a little coverage in Canada would be nice, as some people in Canada do care about American College Football. But, this provides a contrast between different places on the coverage that this scandal has garnered, including the hilarity of the British CNN anchor who didn't know when Penn State's next game was.

By the time we get to Saturday, the coverage may get even more inclusive, and take away from a pretty sizable college football Saturday. I know more allegations could be coming, and there is a game to be played, but ESPN has to move on at some point. I understand the gravity of the situation, but things have to change surrounding the coverage of this scandal. We all know pretty much every detail of this scandal available to us right now, and we don't need to hear them constantly batted over our heads. Every ESPN program is at fault here, not just Sportscenter. I doubt the OSU and Miami scandals got nearly half of the coverage combined as this Penn State scandal has gotten. I know that's a bad comparison in terms of the scandals themselves, but it has to be mentioned. ESPN is covering the sports side of it well, but a little more attention could be paid to the legal side of the scandal too.

Maybe this is too scathing towards ESPN, who has covered this story very well, and has had to juggle major stories before. But, maybe they should sit back and look at what they have done in their coverage with a different lens. Their coverage has been great, but too much coverage is still too much. I know it will be hard to move on, but you have to start somewhere.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

2011 Week 10 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 9? It's hard to imagine that we're already halfway through the season, and we're inching closer to the fantasy playoffs. This is the time to be sure about which waiver wire pickups you choose, and make some trades too, so read up.

Who to Start:

QB Carson Palmer (OAK) vs. SD THU: If you're desperate for a QB, Palmer may just be the perfect choice. He's going up against a Chargers defense that got torched on Sunday against Green Bay, and the more time Palmer spends under center, the more comfortable he gets. He's a good option on Sunday.

RB DeMarco Murray (DAL) vs. BUF: When any Dallas running back sets a new Cowboy rushing record, take notice. Murray has been awesome since his intro in Week 7, and he'll be going up against a suspect Buffalo rushing defense on Sunday.

WR Jeremy Maclin (PHI) vs. ARZ: Despite his drop issues, he should be a good play this week. He'll be going up against a porous Arizona secondary, and the whole team is going to be mad after their Monday night loss at the hands of Chicago.

WR Julio Jones (ATL) vs. NO: It took him until Week 9 to finally break out, but he did big time with 2 touchdowns against the Colts. New Orleans has some secondary issues, so Jones may have another big game this Sunday.

TE Brandon Pettigrew (DET) vs. CHI: The Bears are 5-3, but that's not an indicator of their defensive struggles. They're 26th against the pass, and Tight Ends have done most of the damage. Pettigrew may have a big game this Sunday.

DEF Cleveland vs. STL: The Rams have scored the second fewest points per game in the NFL, and they have been unimpressive offensively most of the time. Cleveland's defense has been an under the radar good unit this season, so they may be a good start this week.

Who to Sit:

QB Josh Freeman (TB) vs. HOU: The Bucs have been the definition of inconsistency this season, and going up against what is now the #1 ranked defense in the league won't help matters. Josh Freeman likely will have some struggles on Sunday against Houston.

RB Marshawn Lynch (SEA) vs. BAL: Even though he had a big game last week against Dallas, the Ravens defense is going to be a bit of a different story. The Ravens defense has been dominant against the run this season, so look for Lynch to struggle.

WR A.J Green (CIN) vs. PIT: It's tough to sit him at this point, but the Steelers defense has been shutting down #1 receivers almost totally since Week 1. The Bengals also haven't faced this kind of defense this season, so this may be a tough matchup.

WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (OAK) vs. SD THU: Even though the Raiders offense may be a good play this week, Heyward-Bey can disappear totally from the stat sheet. He did last week, and there is a worry about how his production will change. Start with caution.

TE Vernon Davis (SF) vs. NYG: He's a tough sit of course, but the Giants have done a very good job stopping Tight Ends this season. The game for San Francisco will be won on the outside, so there may be some struggles for Davis.

DEF New York Jets vs. NE: It's hard to bench them after their performance in Buffalo, but against the Patriots, the unit may have some trouble. Fantasy wise, there may be a drop in points for this unit.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Christian Ponder (MIN) vs. GB MON: If you're in a deep league, he may be a good option. The Packers pass defense has been very bad this season, and Ponder had some success against them in their first meeting. He is a possible fantasy breakout candidate this week.

RB Jonathan Stewart (CAR) vs. TEN: The Titans have had some struggles stopping the run this season, so Stewart may see some positive action on Sunday, despite relative struggles this season.

TE Jake Ballard (NYG) vs. SF: He broke out last Sunday against the Patriots, and he could have another big game against San Francisco, who has had some trouble defending Tight Ends this season.

Buyer Beware:

QB Andy Dalton (CIN) vs. PIT: You may be enticed by his numbers this year, which haven't been amazing but they have been consistent. But, he's yet to face a defense like Pittsburgh's. They will be aggressive, and attack Dalton, who will likely struggle on Sunday.

Good Luck in Week 10!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Annual Game of the Century

The term "Game of the Century" conjures up strong images, doesn't it? Grandeur, splendor, and excitement all come with the name. But, it seems that the so called "Game of the Century" doesn't really take on that meaning anymore, especially with college football, where the term caught fire. Even though #1 vs. #2 happens rarely during the regular season, that term doesn't really capture the meaning of what it's supposed to anymore. I know that the term is pretty much a farce now amongst fans and sportswriters, but if that's the case, then why do we still use it?

A simple trip to Wikipedia shows that when "Game of the Century" is typed in for college football, 12 games come up. 12! Compare this to college basketball, and you only get one option. Of course, that one is pretty famous on its own, but that's not for this discussion. 12 separate "Games of the Century", and since some of them happen in the same decade, you can't really call it a "Game of the Decade", or maybe even a game of the year. Some of the games live up to the hype, like the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, or the 1991 installment of Florida State vs. Miami, but the novelty of the term has worn thin by now. So, when the "Game of the Century" was being played on November 4, many joked about about it being a crappy game. If you truly wanted a "Game of the Century" connotation, you could look to the Notre Dame vs. Michigan game earlier this year. You never know about a game before it's played, as that is one of the novelties of sports. But, it still doesn't excuse the banal term.

The real test of the term is this: How many of you will remember this LSU vs. Alabama game 10 years from now? I'd guess not many. Most fans choose to remember the high moments, and forget the bad ones (tell that one to Florida State fans), so the "Game of the Century" term doesn't really qualify if it doesn't stick in your mind for a long time. I know the regular season is very different from the playoffs, and especially with the regular season in college football holding so much grout, I can understand the importance of games like these. But, there are simply more memorable games from a season to throw a term at than a simple #1 vs. #2, which could be a blowout.

If you could pick one game from any sport that defined the sport permanently, what would you pick? There are plenty of options, but for college football, would you pick LSU vs. Alabama? Probably not. Would you pick one of the "Games of the Century" as you choice? Some would, some wouldn't. It's all subjective, and especially to the losers in these games, it's surely not a "Game of the Century". So, why is it still used? The media hype machine, and whatever will drive up ratings. Oversimplification, probably. But it's one explanation.

As a media term, "Game of the Century" is about as fresh and new as the social media craze. But as a sports term, "Game of the Century" has lost all its luster, and therefore, should not be used, until a real "Game of the Century" comes along, and you never know when that will.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

2011 Week 9 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good week 8? This is the time to start winning, and catch momentum, while the bye weeks are few, and games begin to get tighter, and better. Remember, Thursday games start next week, and that could play even more into your choices. But, enjoy the traditional Sunday and Monday games this week while you can.


Who to Start:

QB Eli Manning (NYG) vs. NE: Remember before the season, when Eli said he should be considered elite, and be compared to Tom Brady? Well, based on his performance this year, he should. Now, he goes head-to-head with Brady, but he has the benefit of playing the Patriots horrific pass defense, which hasn't stopped anyone this year. Eli may just be as good, or better than Brady, for at least this week.

RB Beanie Wells (ARZ) vs. STL: He didn't have an amazing game last week, but he was playing Baltimore. He's now playing St. Louis. Their run defense is abysmal, so Beanie should have a big game on Sunday, and he may need to, with Kevin Kolb likely out due to injury.

WR Dwayne Bowe (KC) vs. MIA: In the beginning of the year, I kept saying how he may be a big bust this season. Well, now that the Chiefs have won 4 in a row, I can retract those statements, kind of. Bowe is going up against the awful Dolphins secondary on Sunday, so he should have a big game.

WR Brandon Lloyd (STL) vs. ARZ: Even having A.J Feeley hasn't slowed him down. He had a big game last week against New Orleans, and he may have a bigger one on Sunday, no matter who plays at QB. The Cardinals secondary has been awful this season, so watch out for Lloyd to have a big game on Sunday.

TE Brent Celek (PHI) vs. CHI MON: Usually, Celek is nowhere to be found on any fantasy roster due to his role in the Eagles offense. But, don't worry about that this week, because Celek is facing a team that struggles to defend the Tight End.

DEF Houston vs. CLE: The Texans have had the benefit of playing 2 bad offensive teams in consecutive weeks. Last week was Jacksonville, and this week is Cleveland. The defense looks very good, so watch out for the Texans D to put up big points this week.

Who to Sit:

QB Joe Flacco (BAL) vs. PIT: Boy, has he been awful since his explosion in week 1. Going up against the revamped Steelers defense this week, don't expect him to have a very good game this time around.

RB Peyton Hillis (CLE) vs. HOU: He looks like he'll play this week, but that doesn't mean to start him. The Texans rushing defense is one of the best in the league right now, thanks to the Wade Phillips renaissance. The Madden Curse may be real.

WR Nate Washington (TEN) vs. CIN: He has seen a numbers spike since Kenny Britt hit the shelf due to injuries, but don't expect the numbers to be high this week. The Bengals defense has been quietly awesome this season, especially against the pass. So, watch out Titans.

WR Michael Crabtree (SF) vs. WSH: He hasn't seen an amazing season this year, despite the amazing overall success of the team. Despite the Redskins struggles this season, they still have defended the pass quite well, so now Crabtree won't have too much success this weekend.

TE Scott Chandler (BUF) vs. NYJ: Here's one from the vaults: "Who?" He's one of Ryan Fitzpatrick's favorite targets right now, and he's had a great season. But, he'll be going up against a defense that has struggled, but defended against the tight end very well this season. Watch out.

DEF San Diego vs. GB: They used to be one of the best fantasy defenses around, but they are struggling badly right now. And, to compound things, they will now be facing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Tall order.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Matt Cassel (KC) vs. MIA: It's safe to start him now. He's looked a lot better in the past 2 weeks for Kansas City, and going up against the horrendous Miami pass defense, he may have a breakout Sunday. But, he's still a sleeper for a reason.

RB Michael Bush (OAK) vs. DEN: Run DMC is out on Sunday, so the focus will turn to Michael Bush right now. The Broncos don't stop the run very well, so Michael Bush could have a very big game on Sunday, and possibly upstage Carson Palmer.

WR Victor Cruz (NYG) vs. NE: New England's pass defense is awful, and Victor Cruz is a possible big target for Eli Manning with his lack of big receivers. Cruz has the potential for a big game on Sunday, against the New England secondary that continues to deteriorate.

Buyer Beware:

QB Matt Schaub (HOU) vs. CLE: I know it's hard to bench him at this stage of the season, but Cleveland has a very underrated, and under the radar pass defense, which has allowed the 3rd fewest fantasy points to QB's this season. Schaub may have some troubles on Sunday, especially without Andre Johnson, which may happen again.

Good Luck in Week 9!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

2011 Week 8 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good week 7? Now that bye weeks are nearly done, your fantasy lineups won't be in a constant state of flux much anymore. But, that doesn't mean that sleepers and waiver wire pickups are going to be needed, because they will be, and that's why you look at this list, right?


Who to Start:

QB Eli Manning (NYG) vs. MIA: The Dolphins are a pathetic team, and they really have trouble stopping the pass. Manning is having a very good season, and he is using all of his receivers. His hot streak should continue against a putrid Miami pass defense.

RB Darren Sproles (NO) vs. STL: The Rams gave up over 250 rushing yards to rookie DeMarco Murray last Sunday, and with Darren Sproles being such a big fantasy surprise, he should get big numbers on Sunday, especially if Mark Ingram is out due to injury.

WR Nate Washington (TEN) vs. IND: I know most of you weren't watching the SNF game last Sunday, but 62-7 tells you all you need to know. The Colts right now are putting up little resistance on defense, and even though the Titans passing offense has struggled, they won't this week.

WR Antonio Brown (PIT) vs. NE: He had a 100+ yard catching day against Arizona last week, and going up against the porous New England secondary, he should have another big day. Because of the injury to Hines Ward, he should see even more playing time to increase those numbers.

TE Owen Daniels (HOU) vs. JAX: This has become a theme, hasn't it? Start the TE of the team playing the Jaguars. It shouldn't change this week, as Owen Daniels is a big fantasy bargain this week. He'll be an even bigger bargain if Andre Johnson doesn't play this week.

DEF New Orleans vs. STL: The Rams have scored the fewest points of any team this season, and if A.J Feeley is playing, it may be an even worse day for the Saints offense. This has a big blowout written all over it.

Who to Sit:

QB Matt Cassel (KC) vs. SD MON: Cassel has been rejuvenated so far in the Chiefs 3 game winning streak, but a game against San Diego is troubling. The Chargers have been very good this year against the pass, and with the streaky nature of the KC passing offense, he is a risky start.

RB Knowshon Moreno (DEN) vs. DET: He will be getting more playing time due to the injury to Willis McGahee, so things are looking up. However, Detroit's run defense has been very good this season, so watch out for Moreno this Sunday.

WR Michael Crabtree (SF) vs. CLE: This game has the makings of a defensive showdown, and with Crabtree going up against one of the best cover corners in the league in Joe Haden, he does not figure to have a good game on Sunday.

WR Sidney Rice (SEA) vs. CIN: The Bengals right now have the second ranked defense in the NFL. Yes, you read that right. And if you were unfortunate enough to watch the SEA/CLE game last Sunday, you saw how bad the Seahawks offense was with Charlie Whitehurst. That's all you need to know.

TE Greg Olsen (CAR) vs. MIN: He has been dealing with a turf-toe injury, which may be why he was invisible last Sunday against the Redskins. He likely won't do very well this weekend against Minnesota either, due to this.

DEF Pittsburgh vs. NE: I know it's hard to bench the Steelers defense ever, but Tom Brady has owned the Steelers in the past, just see last season's game as an example. If you have a better option at defense, start them over Pittsburgh.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB John Beck (WSH) vs. BUF Toronto: I know, it sounds really funky. However, the Bills secondary has been very bad this season, and Beck hasn't looked that bad in his 1+ games as a starter. If you need a QB, he may not be a bad option.

RB Bernard Scott (CIN) vs. SEA: Due to the suspension of Cedric Benson, Scott will be the featured back on Sunday in Seattle. Therefore, he will see feature back type touches, so he should have a big game on Sunday.

TE Jake Ballard (NYG) vs. MIA: Need a TE on Sunday? With Miami giving up tons of fantasy points to Tight Ends, it may be worth the gamble. Heck, he's been doing better fantasy-wise this season than Vernon Davis, so why not?

Buyer Beware:

QB Tim Tebow (DEN) vs. DET: He may put up big numbers fantasy-wise, but it was a misnomer again against a horrible Miami defense. He is facing a real NFL defense on Sunday, so it will be seen as to whether Tebow can put up similar numbers against a very good Lions defense.

Good Luck in Week 8!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

2011 Week 7 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 6? With big QB's on byes this week, flex options may be necessary at the QB position for you, and before we get to the actual column, I'll make sure to go over the brand new options at QB to start off the column this week:


The New Guys:

QB John Beck (WSH): Despite the fact that he has very good matchups against Carolina and Buffalo in the next 2 weeks, he probably isn't the best choice if you are desperate. He could play decently, or terribly, and it may be too much of a risk considering that he could get the hook just as quickly as he became the starter.

QB Christian Ponder (MIN): He is not a viable fantasy option right now. He has potential as a good value QB later, but with Adrian Peterson behind him, expect the Vikings to run the ball plenty, and the good Green Bay Packer D to eat him up.

QB Tim Tebow (DEN): He is an interesting choice. Due to his running ability, he may get more fantasy points than any of the other 3 options, and with a good matchup, it may help his stock as well. However, like Beck, he is very risky, considering how the Broncos may use him. He's not a big value this week, but if he proves himself, he may be later.

QB Carson Palmer (OAK- I know, right?): He will be starting this week for Oakland, and despite the fact that he could have good numbers pretty quickly, I'd wait to see if he really will become a viable #2 fantasy QB. He has good weapons around him to use, and familiarity with the coaching staff, but I'd wait until after the bye week next week to start him.

Now, onto the regular column:

Who to Start:

QB Tony Romo (DAL) vs. STL: The Rams defense has been very bad this year due to injuries and other causes, and Tony Romo should eat that up. He should be able to have a big stat line for the Cowboys, who didn't have quite the week that many expected against New England last Sunday.

RB Ryan Mathews (SD) vs. NYJ: Ground and pound has lost the pound of late for the Jets, and their rush D has not been very good at all this season. This bodes well for Mathews and the Chargers, who should run the ball plenty due to the problems the Chargers may have throwing the football.

WR Marques Colston (NO) vs. IND: He finally had a big game a week ago in Tampa, and he should have another one this week against a Colts defense that has been very injured and bad at the same time. The Saints should really light up the bad Indy secondary.

WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (OAK) vs. KC: The Chiefs have been very bad against the pass, and corner Brandon Flowers has been abused in coverage often this season. Even with Carson Palmer having some rust, Heyward-Bey should still have a nice stat line.

TE Ed Dickson (BAL) vs. JAX MON: With many big name Tight Ends on byes this week, Dickson is a good option for those people. The Jaguars have been downright awful in defending Tight End's this season, so Joe Flacco may look his way often on Monday Night.

DEF Pittsburgh vs. ARZ: The Cardinals have been a good opponent fantasy wise for defenses, and they give good points even to units that have struggled this season, see Pittsburgh as an example.

Who to Sit:

QB Matt Schaub (HOU) vs. TEN: Even though he's very tough to bench right now, he may be one to avoid this Sunday. Without Andre Johnson, he's been pretty pedestrian, and he is still dealing with a chest injury. Combine that with a bad matchup, and it's not a recipe for success.

RB Peyton Hillis (CLE) vs. SEA: Whether it's his lame hammy, or just a lack of faith in him from the coaching staff, Montario Hardesty is getting more and more carries for Cleveland. Because of that, Hillis is now a risky fantasy start.

WR Vincent Jackson (SD) vs. NYJ: It's tough to bench him with bye weeks taking their toll, but going up against Revis Island is surely a tough task. He was shut down by Champ Bailey 2 weeks ago, so he may have even fewer chances on Revis Island.

WR Percy Harvin (MIN) vs. GB: With Christian Ponder under center, his stock took a major hit. He will see fewer targets as the Vikings turn more to the running game this week against Green Bay,

TE Kellen Winslow (TB) vs. CHI in London: He's becoming very difficult to trust week in and week out right now with his lack of production, even going against a favorable matchup in the Bears this Sunday on the pitch at Wembley.

DEF Atlanta vs. DET: The Lions are no pushover matchup anymore, and the Falcons defense has been less than stellar all season. It's going to be very tough for the Falcons to gain a defensive foothold this week at Ford Field.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Colt McCoy (CLE) vs. SEA: The Seahawks lost Marcus Trufant for the season recently, so this will hurt an already struggling pass defense. Cleveland isn't a passing juggernaut, but he could have a surprising game this Sunday.

RB DeMarco Murray (DAL) vs. STL: With the injury to Felix Jones, Murray may see more carries right now against the Rams, who also have a very bad rush defense. Murray may be a very good bye week option if you need one.

TE Fred Davis (WSH) vs. CAR: John Beck may need a safety blanket option this Sunday, and Fred Davis has replaced Chris Cooley who is on the shelf due to an injury. He could have a pretty decent game against Carolina.

Buyer Beware:

QB Philip Rivers (SD) vs. NYJ: I wouldn't bench him if I had him as a starter unless I had a much better option, but he may have some struggles against the Jets pass D on Sunday. He himself has struggled too, so watch out here.

Good Luck in Week 7!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

2011 World Series Preview

If you're laughing at me while you're reading this preview, you have the right to. It seems that I know as much about who will win in the playoffs as I know about the politics of Nepal. Anyway, the Texas Rangers are in the World Series for the second straight year, and the Cardinals are in for the first time since 2006. One team is much better than the other, but the team that is worse has a ton of momentum going for it. What will hold up in this series?

Pitching: It would seem that the Rangers have a clear advantage pitching wise on paper, and they do. The starting rotation is better than the rotation of the Cardinals sans Chris Carpenter, and it also stems from their overall horrible performance in the NLCS against Milwaukee. But, the staff was very good in the NLDS against Philly, so it seems like a wash right now. The Cardinals bullpen had been much maligned, but stepped up big time against the Brewers, but has the possibility of flaming out. I don't think that is happening so fast. The Rangers bullpen has been very good this postseason, with guys like Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Neftali Feliz shutting the door at the closer spot. Even though the Cardinals have been pitching pretty well this postseason, it just feels that the Rangers are a better bet pitching wise.

Advantage: Texas

Hitting: The Rangers had some hitting troubles in the ALDS, but those were quickly erased in the ALCS when the bats exploded, especially that of Nelson Cruz. They are a consistent hitting team and have many weapons with which to use, which is similar to that of St. Louis. Their offense was on fire in the NLCS after having some issues in the NLDS. The Cardinals are getting more production from unsung guys like John Jay and David Freese, and even though the Rangers have possibly a better offense on paper, the Cardinals right now are a more potent and cohesive unit.

Advantage: St. Louis

X-Factor: Home field advantage has some value in the World Series, and the Cardinals have it, so it could play a role down the stretch, even though there hasn't been a Game 7 in the World Series since 2002, but when there is, the home team is in a great position. The Rangers are 4-1 at home this postseason, compared to 3-2 on the road, and St. Louis is 4-2 on the road, compared to 3-2 at home. Since both managers have been in the World Series before and well know what's going on, this is a wash.

Pick: I think the Cardinals magical ride ends at the hands of a better team in Texas. They deserve it.

Rangers in 5 (Sorry Rangers Fans)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

2011 Week 6 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 5? This may be the easiest week with byes in terms of fantasy, because most of your big players will not be on byes. But still, the waiver wire is key, and looking here is also key, because there are bound to be tough decisions for everyone's lineup.


Who to Start:

QB Eli Manning (NYG) vs. BUF: Peyton's brother has tried to live up to his own words that he's an elite QB, and he's done so far pretty well. Buffalo's defense has been a sieve despite the team being 4-1, especially through the air, so look for Eli to possibly put up big numbers this Sunday.

RB James Starks (GB) vs. STL: With Ryan Grant still nursing an injury, Starks should see more touches, and going up against the NFL's worst run defense surely helps his cause out. And, garbage time running could come very quickly for him too against a bad team.

WR Steve Smith (CAR) vs. ATL: At the onset of the season, no one thought he'd be nearly as successful as he is right now. Cam Newton's presence has revived his fantasy stock, and going up against a bad Atlanta pass D, he should have a big game on Sunday.

WR Dez Bryant (DAL) vs. NE: Surprisingly, the team with one of the league's worst pass defenses is not Dallas, but New England. Bryant should have a huge game against a very poor secondary, and could put up major numbers in what figures to be a shootout.

TE Heath Miller (PIT) vs. JAX: The Jaguars have troubles defending the Tight End, and if you are desperate for a player, Miller may one to consider. He finally had a good game a week ago, and this week's matchup is a pretty tasty one.

DEF Cincinnati vs. IND: Curtis Painter has been playing better of late, but not against great competition. So this week, against a very underrated Bengals defense, he may struggle. Due to that, the Bengals defense may be a good start this Sunday.

Who to Start:

QB Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. MIN: His offensive line is a train wreck, and until that is fixed, he may not have a decent fantasy game. With these troubles up front, and Minnesota's defense playing better of late, watch out if you have Cutler in your starting lineup.

RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (NE) vs. DAL: The "law firm" as he's known had a big week last week against the Jets, but it may be a lot harder for him to have a good game against Dallas. They have a good rush D, and who knows who will make big plays on the New England offense week in and week out?

WR Brandon Marshall (MIA) vs. NYJ MON: Chad Henne is out for the season, and that leaves Matt Moore to start for Miami. He will have trouble getting the ball down the field to Marshall, who is likely to be on Revis Island, so that doesn't help either.

WR Santana Moss (WSH) vs. PHI: This is more about Nnamdi Asomugha than it is about Moss. Nnamdi has shut down the opposing team's number 1 target almost completely in the last 4 games for Philly, so Moss may not see many targets at all on Sunday.

TE Dallas Clark (IND) vs. CIN: Without Peyton Manning to throw him the ball, he's basically been invisible on the field. He gets very few targets and even fewer catches, so there is no reason to be starting him in any league right now.

DEF Houston vs. BAL: The loss of Mario Williams is a big one for Houston, and it will affect them in many more ways than just fantasy value. With a tough matchup against Baltimore ahead, the Texans D is one you may want to avoid.

3 Super Sleepers:

TE Dustin Keller (NYJ) vs. MIA MON: He had a big start, but has cooled off rapidly as of late. He will be playing the Dolphins though, who do not defend the Tight End very well. This may be just what Keller needs to get back on track.

WR Victor Cruz (NYG) vs. BUF: When you make big plays 3 weeks in a row, you're bound to become fantasy material. He made some amazing plays last week, both positively and negatively, but against a porous Bills pass defense, he may be one to ride for awhile.

WR Pierre Garcon (IND) vs. CIN: I know I said Colts offensive players are bad starts, but he may not be. Garcon has 4 TD's in the past 2 weeks, and he has a rhythm going with Curtis Painter. This may be a bit of a reach, but if there is any Colt to start, it may be him.

Buyer Beware:

QB Matt Schaub (HOU) vs. BAL: Combine the Ravens defense, and not having your number 1 wideout, and you get a horrible fantasy matchup for Matt Schaub. If you have a better option, play him.

Good Luck in Week 6!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

NHL 30 in 30: 2011-2012 Season Predictions

After one month of complete team-by-team previews, it's now time to pick the award winners and see who will finish where, according to me.

Northeast: 1) BOS 105 pts. 2) BUF 96 pts. 3) MTL 88 pts. 4) TOR 84 pts. 5) OTT 66 pts.
Atlantic: 1) PIT 107 pts. 2) PHI 94 pts. 3) NYR 89 pts. 4) NJ 76 pts. 5) NYI 70 pts.
Southeast: 1) WSH 114 pts. 2) TB 99 pts. 3) CAR 90 pts. 4) FLA 83 pts. 5) WPG 77 pts.
Central: 1) CHI 103 pts. 2) DET 98 pts. 3) NSH 90 pts. 4) STL 88 pts. 5) CBJ 81 pts.
Northwest: 1) VAN 110 pts. 2) MIN 85 pts. 3) CGY 81 pts. 4) COL 74 pts. 5) EDM 68 pts.
Pacific: 1) LA 106 pts. 2) SJ 100 pts. 3) ANA 92 pts. 4) DAL 84 pts. 5) PHX 80 pts.


East: 1) WSH 2) PIT 3) BOS 4) TB 5) BUF 6) PHI 7) CAR 8) NYR 9) MTL 10) TOR 11) FLA 12) WPG 13) NJ 14) NYI 15) OTT

West: 1) VAN 2) LA 3) CHI 4) SJ 5) DET 6) ANA 7) NSH 8) STL 9) MIN 10) DAL 11) CBJ 12) CGY 13) PHX 14) COL 15) EDM

Playoff Predictions:

East: 1) WSH over 8) NYR in 5
        2) PIT over 7) CAR in 5
        3) BOS over 6) PHI in 6
        5) BUF over 4) TB in 7

       1) WSH over 5) BUF in 6
       3) BOS over 2) PIT in 7

       1) WSH over 3) BOS in 6

West: 1) VAN over 8) STL in 4
          2) LA over 7) NSH in 5
          3) CHI over 6) ANA in 6
          5) DET over 4) SJ in 7

          1) VAN over 5) DET in 7
          3) CHI over 2) LA in 6
          3) CHI over 1) VAN in 6

2012 Stanley Cup Finals: 3) CHI over 1) WSH in 6

Award Winners:

Art Ross: Alexander Ovechkin
Rocket Richard: Steven Stamkos
Hart: Jonathan Toews
Norris: Keith Yandle
Selke: Pavel Datsyuk
Vezina: Tomas Vokoun
Calder: Erik Gudbranson
Jack Adams: Terry Murray

2011 Week 5 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 4? When bye weeks roll around, fantasy lineups become a lot harder to set, and you'll be looking to many players you never thought you would look to before. Those players are hard to find, so looking here may not be such a bad idea.


Who to Start:

QB Cam Newton (CAR) vs. NO: In 3 out of their first 4 games this season, Newton has not thrown for less than 374 yards in a game. Pretty impressive for a rookie. He'll be going up against a porous Saints pass defense on Sunday, so he should be a nice bye week option if you need one.

RB Fred Jackson (BUF) vs. PHI: Right now, the Eagles can't stop the run. The Bills love to run the football right through the teeth of defenses. Jackson has had an amazing season so far, and with this matchup, looking very favorable for him, expect a big day from Fred Jackson.

WR Julio Jones (ATL) vs. GB: Despite the fact that the Pack are 4-0, their pass defense hasn't been too great. With the Falcons loving to toss the ball around the field, especially in the Georgia Dome, Jones should have a pretty decent day overall.

WR Jordy Nelson (GB) vs. ATL: He's the third wideout in the Packers rotation, yet he's on pace for 1100 yards this season. That's impressive. He's going up against a suspect Atlanta secondary Sunday Night, so he should once again figure to have a big day.

TE Jermaine Gresham (CIN) vs. JAX: He has been a reliable target for rookie Andy Dalton in the first 4 games, and he should figure to continue in that role against the Jags. Jacksonville has struggled trying to stop tight ends this season, surrendering big yards to them, so Gresham should have a big game on Sunday.

DEF New York Giants vs. SEA: The Giants defense had been considered a suspect fantasy unit at the beginning of the season, but now they look like a must start, especially going against Seattle, who has QB troubles and has to travel cross country for a 1 PM kick.

Who to Sit:

QB Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. DET MON: Ford Field will be a madhouse on Monday night, and knowing the Bears problems with protecting the QB and the Lions penchant for sacks, don't expect Cutler to have a good game on Monday night.

RB Frank Gore (SF) vs. TB: Even though he had a big week last time out against Philly, don't expect similar results on Sunday. He's still being nagged by an injury, and the Bucs rush D has been overall very solid this season.

WR Brandon Lloyd (DEN) vs. SD: Even though he still is the big play target for Denver down the field, the Chargers pass D is better than the pass D of any of the rest of the teams they've played so far this season, so start with caution.

WR Mike Thomas (JAX) vs. CIN: The Bengals surprisingly have the #1 overall defense right now in the NFL, and it's helped that they have Nate Clements and Leon Hall locking down the outside. With the Jags pass O struggling, and that defensive combo, Mike Thomas is a guy to avoid.

TE Kevin Boss (OAK) vs. HOU: It doesn't look like the Raiders like to use their tight ends very often, even though they have had good quality at the position. The Texans have defended the tight end very well so far this season, so this may be a matchup to avoid.

DEF New York Jets vs. NE: The Pats can light up the sky with big offensive numbers as we well know by now, and the Jets D hasn't played up to their own standards in the past couple of weeks. Start with caution.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Kevin Kolb (ARZ) vs. MIN: The Vikes pass D has been slightly porous this season, and Kevin Kolb has the arm and the weapons to put up big numbers, so he could be a guy to look for if your's is on the shelf for a bye or injury.

RB Isaac Redman (PIT) vs. TEN: He has had big numbers when he's carried the load, and he's actually has 4.9 yards per carry this season. With Rashard Mendenhall possibly out with an injury, he may be a big flex option.

WR Jacoby Jones (HOU) vs. OAK: With Andre Johnson out, Matt Schaub will have to look for someone else to get big plays down the field. Jones has gamebreaking speed, so he may be the right choice if you need a flex option.

Buyer Beware:

DEF Green Bay vs. ATL: Does anyone else think that this GB/ATL game on SNF will be a huge shootout? I do. The Green Bay defense is still good, but it's not the same dominant unit that we may have become accustomed to. Watch out for this unit if you have to start them.

Good luck in Week 5!

NHL 30 in 30: Boston Bruins

Stanley Cup champions and boy it feels good in Boston (after the Red Sox and Pats struggles, Boston fans have to have hope for some team). They retain many of the pieces that got them the Cup a season ago, and a few supplemental pieces have been added. The question is, as is always the case with a defending champ, can they repeat?

Strengths: They have depth at every position, especially up front. Nathan Horton was a key acquisition and he has become one of the key scorers, as well as David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin, and Brad Marchand. They have grinders on the 3rd and 4th lines, and they perfectly complement the scoring prowess up front. They may be even good secondary scoring options as well. On defense, they still have the impending force that is Zdeno Chara, and others like Dennis Seidenberg, newly acquired Joe Corvo, and Andrew Ference. This group is still extremely solid despite losing Tomas Kaberle to Carolina this offseason. And in net, Tim Thomas is still one of the league's best at what he does, and he is going to be tough to beat this season, as he has been in the past. And if things go wrong, Tuukka Rask can come in and he may be the best 2nd goaltender in the NHL right now.

Weaknesses: With a defending cup champ, you have to stretch to find weaknesses, and here it is no different. They may have lost a little more in defense than they would have liked with Kaberle gone, but there is little doubt that many of the guys there now especially Joe Corvo can replace him. They did lose Mark Recchi and Mike Ryder, but those guys are replaceable, especially within the scope of the Top 6 right now.

Any Help Coming? D Doug Hamilton has immense size, and is very mobile along the blue line. He is a big man, at 6'6" he may even come close to Zdeno Chara's size, and is a physical threat that can move, and that is just what other teams want to face, in 2 big D-Men. RW Jordan Caron is a powerful forward and has a ton of grit and hockey IQ and may perfectly complement pure scoring forwards. RW Jared Knight attacks the goal and is fearless and he works hard to boot.

Outlook: They can easily repeat as champs, and be the first team to do that since the Red Wings did that in 1997 and 1998. They have depth, scoring prowess, great goaltending and solid defense. It will be tough in the East, which has gotten much better over the offseason, but that shouldn't matter for this team. They will be a great team, and they'll be right there in May.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

NHL 30 in 30: New York Islanders

When you have spent as much time in the basement as the Islanders have, fans are bound to get a bit restless. It doesn't help that there stadium referendum was vetoed this summer as well. As for the on-ice product, they are young and on the way up, but how far up can they go above 13 this season in the East?

Strengths: The youth on the team is innumerable, and impressive. They are led by John Tavares, the young centermen who has tons of scoring ability and distributes the puck well. Around him, the Isles have Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo, Nino Niederrieter, and the near Calder winner from a year ago in Michael Grabner, who burst onto the scene. Even behind those top 6, there is considerable depth and good potential around the line up, and they are good secondary scoring options for this team. They have impressive depth at the forward position after having scoring troubles in the past few seasons.

Weaknesses: Defense and goaltending are still issues for this hockey team. Mark Streit is the best defensive player for the Islanders, but there is very little around him and behind him in the defense corps to captain the power play, or guys to be big hitters on the forecheck. They will need someone in that group to emerge alongside Streit in order for this team to be impressive. In net, there is a true logjam. Evgeni Nabokov, Rick DiPietro, and Al Montoya are all in this goaltending triangle, and no one has done anything to completely standout. It doesn't look like anyone will stand out at this point.

Any Help Coming? C Ryan Strome has plenty of point scoring  potential, and should be a solid top 2 centermen at some point in the future. He may still have to build on some muscle on to his frame though. D Calvin de Haan is very solid overall, and can skate very well, but has a small frame and still needs to build some muscle. C Brock Nelson is a big center who has good potential all around.

Outlook: They will be in plenty of high scoring games, but their defense and goaltending issues may outweigh their offensive strong suits. In the East, it looks like the Islanders may have another long season due to their competition and overall lack of soundness behind a very solid group of forwards. They are on the right track, but defense and goaltending need to be more sound before they take the next step.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

NHL 30 in 30: Toronto Maple Leafs

Along with Florida, they are the only team that has not made the postseason since the lockout, and the patience of many in Leafs nation is shrinking. Brian Burke and Ron Wilson have tried to build this team well, with a combo of homegrown talent and free agents, but time is not a friend to them. The Leafs ended last season on a roll, but does that mean that they have a chance to sniff deep April hockey this season?

Strengths: They didn't score too often last season, as they were only 23rd in the league in that department. But, they have great talent with guys like Phil Kessel (yeah, I had to say it), Nikolai Kulemin, new addition Tim Connolly, and Mikhail Grabovski, however he sustained a nasty looking injury in their final preseason game. These guys, along with others like Tyler Bozak, Clarke MacArthur and possibly Matthew Lombardi based on his health, will have to score more in order for the Leafs to be a better team and stay in games when young standout goalie James Reimer can't keep them in it. He burst onto the scene last season, and has immense promise for a franchise that hasn't had stable goaltending for quite some time, and he looks like he's the one. He's young though, so there is still some time to grow. On defense, they traded for J-M Liles from Colorado this season to pair up with Dion Phaneuf, and they are a very decent top pairing. They also have some young potential behind them, but they haven't quite lived up to the billing just yet.

Weaknesses: Behind Liles and Phaneuf, there is some young talent and good veteran quality, but they have not lived up to their potential, and it remains to be seen whether they can or not. Keith Aulie, Luke Schenn, and especially Mike Komisarek have to play better than they did a season ago, and bring stability back to that group, despite the fact that as an overall group it is pretty solid. They also have got to be consistent this season, as another slow start may dig them too deep a hole in the suddenly crowded Eastern Conference.

Any Help Coming? Leafs fans are waiting for the breakout from C Nazem Kadri, who has tons of potential and promise and skills, but his decision making sometimes brings up questions. C Joe Colborne has plenty of potential and talent, but his impact on games with the Marlies of the AHL can swing dramatically from plentiful, to nothing. D Jake Gardiner is a versatile offensive defenseman who is smart and knows how to play an offensive role due to the fact he was converted from a forward, however he still needs some fine tuning with his defensive skill.

Outlook: If the Leafs can stay consistent this season, then they have a decent chance at finally making the postseason for the first time since 2003-04. They have enough talent everywhere and enough potential to possibly break out, but they may be held back by a James Reimer regression and some issues with the defense corps. But, the amount of promise the Leafs have is improving, and there sure is a feeling that finally, the Leafs postseason duck may be broken.

Monday, October 3, 2011

NHL 30 in 30: Colorado Avalanche

It was only the 2009-2010 season when the Avs surprised everyone and snuck into the postseason, only to fall to the top seeded Sharks. Last year was a combination of a bad defense, young team, and suspect goaltending. Greg Sherman made some drastic changes to the Avs roster this offseason, but will that propel Colorado to the postseason dance?

Strengths: If there is one thing they have in spades, it's young forwards. They are lead by Matt Duchene, who lead the team in scoring last season and should anchor the top line along with Milan Hejduk and David Jones. Behind them, Paul Stastny will need to rebound from a tough season last year and become one of the primary scorers on this team again. He'll be joined by two more young players, like T.J Galiardi and Peter Mueller, who will be returning from post-concussion syndrome. There are other good young forwards on this team, including Brandon Yip, Daniel Winnik and Ryan O'Reily. There may also be a spot on the team for the second overall pick in the 2011 entry draft, Gabriel Landeskog. The young group of forwards as a whole has plenty of talent and potential, but is still raw. Also, there were problems in net last season, but those were addressed by bringing in Semyon Varlamov from Washington and former Conn Smythe winner J-S Giguere from Toronto. They should stabilize what was a rotating door in net when Craig Anderson struggled, and then after he got traded to Ottawa.

Weaknesses: The defense corp overall is still a weak point, despite some changes in the unit. Jan Hejda and Erik Johnson will anchor the blue line group, and they are good, but behind them there is not much. It is a young group, and there is some promise, but there isn't enough great NHL talent ready just yet. Duncan Siemens, the second Avs first round pick has a chance to make the squad, but he will likely return to juniors. Overall, the team is very young and has good potential for coach Joe Sacco, but it is still raw overall, and needs seasoning.

Any Help Coming? Besides Landeskog and Siemens, there are some other prospects in the system that have some promise. D Stefan Elliott is a great offensive defenseman with a great shot and eye for the net, but he isn't that physical. C Joey Hishon is a tough, offensive center with good ability and balance, however he gets hurt often. G Calvin Pickard may be the second best goaltending prospect right now, and can take a heavy workload.

Outlook: This team has too many holes defensively, and is just too raw at this point to make the postseason, even though they may challenge for a spot in a Northwest division that doesn't have a clearly defined second team behind Vancouver. They have loads of potential because of the mass of youth and promise, but this team is still on its way up, and needs some more time before they challenge for a postseason spot every season.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

NHL 30 in 30: Winnipeg Jets

How can anyone not be excited for what will go on this season in Winnipeg? It is so great to see that city back in the NHL, and the team may be pretty good to show for it. Kevin Cheveldayoff didn't do much to change the Thrashers roster from a season ago, and that one was pretty good for half a season. Can the Jets make the postseason in their first year "back" in Winnipeg?

Strengths: There is a ton of great youth on this team, and it is mixed with a good amount of veteran leadership. Zach Bogosian, Alexander Burmistrov, Bryan Little, and some of the young veterans, including Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, and others are the centerpieces of a young, but talented roster. They can score and dazzle with their skill and talent. They have that in many places on this roster, and that is a good thing considering what happened to this team a year ago, when they were close to something but lost their legs towards the end of the season. It seems like this could be the perfect group for a new team in a new city. In net, Ondrej Pavelec had a big season last year, and if he can continue that torrid pace he may be able to become one of the better goaltenders in this league. He too is young; he's only 24 years old. They may be a very young team, but they don't play like one.

Weaknesses: Even though the youth is very promising, there is still unrealized potential in many of them, especially Zach Bogosian. He needs to realize his potential at some point, which is nearly boundless. Bryan Little had a big season in 2008-09, but can he have a big season this year? What about Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien? Don't forget Pavelec, who could be due for a letdown, even though he still is very, very good. Combine that with the new system of Claude Noel, and there is a possibility that this team could fall short again.

Any Help Coming? C Mark Scheifele was drafted this season, and he has very good potential to become a well rounded centermen for this Jets squad. He logs big minutes, and big points too. LW Carl Klingberg has great work ethic and great skills as well, but he needs to develop patience and consistency if he wants to totally realize his potential. C Patrice Cormier is very well rounded, even though he may not be the most gifted prospect in the world.

Outlook: It may still feel like the Jets won the Stanley Cup, simply because they are back in Winnipeg. However the on-ice product could be a bit of a boom or bust thing. They have great potential to become a playoff team, but they could also be the team that finishes 12th or 13th in the East. There are plenty of questions as to how this will come together, but it still may be a successful season in Winnipeg regardless of what happens on the ice.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

NHL 30 in 30: Minnesota Wild

When you haven't made it to the postseason since 2008, and out of the first round since 2003, sometimes sweeping changes are needed. This is exactly what happened in St. Paul this offseason. There is a new head coach in Mike Yeo, and a bunch of new faces on the roster. Will all of this change add up to a much needed postseason birth in the Hockey Capital of the U.S?

Strengths: The offensive got a huge makeover this offseason, and now becomes a strength instead of a weakness. Gone are 3 of their Top 4 scorers from a season ago (Andrew Brunette, Marty Havlat, and Brent Burns), but in are Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi. They will form a top line with Wild mainstay Mikko Koivu  to form a very good top line. Behind that, there are some good scoring possibilities in Guillaume Latendresse and P-M Bouchard, who will need to have immediate impacts in order to help a team that had a major lack of scoring a season ago. In net, Niklas Backstrom is an under-the-radar goaltender because he plays in Minnesota, but he is very solid and very reliable in net for a team that needs stability at that position due to their offensive and defensive holes.

Weaknesses: The loss of Brent Burns to San Jose will be very tough to overcome, and no single player can replace his offensive and defensive output. Marek Zidlicky may be the best option, along with newcomer Mike Lundin, but behind them there isn't much. This could end up posing a huge task for Mike Yeo with the lack of playmaking talent on the blue line. Behind the potent top line, there aren't many big scoring threats for the Wild, and once again this combination will force the Wild to be very reliant on Nik Backstrom once again to keep the team afloat.

Any Help Coming? C Mikael Granlund is the Wild's best prospect, and has very good offensive talent all around, and he could be coming to the Wild line-up pretty soon. RW Charlie Coyle came over in one of the trades with San Jose this offseason, and he can become a legit power forward for this team soon, with his big frame and big strength. D Jonas Brodin is another good prospect, and he can possibly help the ailing Wild blue line sooner rather than later.

Outlook: Even though the team underwent significant change, there still isn't enough on this roster to contend for the postseason in a very crowded West. There is little offensive depth behind the top line, and the defense corps has a troubling lack of depth and talent with some of the offseason losses. It may be a struggle for Mike Yeo in his first season in the NHL.

Friday, September 30, 2011

2011 MLB Postseason Predictions

I didn't post them yesterday, but here are the total postseason predictions.


PHI over STL in 4
MIL over ARZ in 3


PHI over MIL in 6


TB over TEX in 4
DET over NYY in 5


DET over TB in 6

2011 Fall Classic: PHI over DET in 6

NHL 30 in 30: Vancouver Canucks

How can a team bounce back from a heartbreaking loss in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in their own barn? Plan, and train. Hard. That's what Alain Vigneault's team has been doing, and they should be contending again for a Stanley Cup. They have very little that changed from what got them so close last season, so will the result stay the same, aside from the gut wrenching Game 7 loss?

Strengths: Up and down the roster, there is so much depth and talent. Everyone knows about the Sedin twins, Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows and others, but there is so much more to it than that. They have depth on defense, especially headed by Kevin Bieksa, Sami Salo, and Dan Hamhuis, but they did lose Christian Erhoff to Buffalo this offseason, and it remains to be seen who will be able to replace him. Up front, they have other great players besides the big boys. Mason Raymond, Mikael Samuelsson, Marco Sturm and others are big threats, alongside the young players that have big promise, such as Cody Hodgson, Jannick Hansen, and others. In net, Roberto Luongo is about as good as they come in net, but young goalie Corey Schneider is going to challenge him for starts this season, and that may be a very good thing for both guys.

Weaknesses: Now, there are questions about who will replace Christian Erhoff on the blue line. Keith Ballard is one that many want to replace him, but he has not lived up to his potential in Florida, and in Vancouver. There are also questions about whether the big guys can stay healthy this season, and to whether the guys aside from the Top 4 can perform to big levels like they have done in the past.

Any Help Coming? RW Nicklas Jensen has some good talent offensively, but may need to add some muscle to his frame at some point to contribute. D Chris Tanev is a light defenseman with offensive potential, but he could use to add some strength and grit to get better. G Eddie Lack has some promise too, but he may be buried behind both Luongo and Schneider on the depth chart.

Outlook: They are the odds-on favorite to win the Northwest Division again, but they have their sights set beyond that. They want to win that elusive cup, and they sure have the talent to be able to. However, can this team totally come together like they did last season in order to to beat Detroit, LA, and Chicago in the West this season.