Tuesday, September 20, 2005


"Week 2 in Re-View!" PART I
Baltimore at Tennessee: "Tennessee is awful... Look for Jamal Lewis to have a breakout game against a ghastly run defense. Baltimore fans have their wish; backup QB Anthony Wright is the starter. Let's see if the guy, who DID take the team to the post-season a couple of years ago, capitalizes upon his opportunity. Oh yes.... I'd say Derrick Mason is a good WR start, as he will be facing his old team." Wow! Tennesse won, handily, and the Raven O is simply unable to take flight. RB Jamal Lewis WAS a good start against a depleted Tenny' D. Perhaps the ankle bracelet/Monitoring device he's wearing is attached to a 15 pound ball? Jamal, 10 carries... 9 yards? C'mon! Balty's backup back, Chester Taylor fared no better; Chesty' ran for just 5 yards on 3 totes. Maybe... just maybe, we need to re-evaluate the Tennesee D. The fellas in the white and powder blue jerseys were flyin' all over the field and played a titanic game, forcing 2 turnovers and Sacking new/old Raven QB Anthony Wright 6 times. Anthony was neither right nor wrong.. he just ... was; 25/40, for 212/1/1. Raven receiver Derrick Mason was a good start, with 8 grabs for 60 yards and a score. Interestingly... and perhaps it's because he's as tough as moist gauze, Titan RB Chris Brown got 8 carries...to Travis Henry's 18. Brown's line wasn't an ugly one... until you look a little bit deeper. Averaging a hair over 4 yards per tote is nice, and Brown caught 3 balls coming out of the backfield. The fumble he lost, coupled with the concussion he suffered are what continue to frustrate the coaching staff. Brown sat out the second half of Sunday's game, explaining Travis Henry's heavy workload, but he IS expected to be ready for this week's game against the Rams. Bottom line? Although Chris Brown is capable of posting gaudy numbers, his stone-handed ways and lack of durability should concern both coaches and fantasy owners alike. Given Brown's predeliction for injury, the "tough as naugahyde" Henry will probably receive the bulk of the Goalline work. While Titan QB Steve McNair did nothing flashy, but he DID keep the team moving downfield, he didn't turn the ball over, and he played efficient Football. What more can you expect... from an NFL perspective? Fantasy owners... well, we ask for more ... and more.... and more! Week 3 will see the Titans and Rams squaring off. That should be a high scoring affair. How the Tenny' D handles Ram RB Steven Jackson will be interesting, especially given the team's dearth of playmakers in the Secondary. Look for the Rams to AIR IT OUT... thus, giving Jackson ample room to roam. By the same token, Week 3 affords the Ravens a BYE. The quality "alone time" will give the wayward franchise an opportunity to take stock of things, for their season is already on the brink of disaster. QB Kyle Boller's injury may require surgery, but that's merely the dot on the bottom of the question mark he represents. At this point in his career, Boller should be grasping the reins of the team. He is doing no such thing. RB Jamal Lewis's owners shouldn't despair. Yet. Lewis can still shake out of this fantasy funk. However, if the reports are correct, and he indeed DID work out for 12 hours a day whilst' in "Da' Joint" ... Lewis may be over-trained, over-worked, and over-valued.

Buffalo at Tampa Bay: "...whattya' make of Losman? Whattya make of Cadillac Williams? And whattya make of an aging but still formidable "Bucca-D?" It would seem that Losman's the real deal, though he remains wet behind the ears." Mmmmm. mmmm, mmm, mm, m! (to be uttered while shaking your head from side-to-side) Tampa Bay's offense is in cruise-control, with QB Brian Griese at the wheel. Griese is, however, along more for the ride than anything else. During Senior Week, Buc' coach Gruden fell in love with his rookie back, Cadillac. Now, we see why. Williams runs effortlessly; he seems to glide. Further, the runner possesses deceptive strength, displays excellent balance, and is poised beyond his years. Tampa Bay has always been known for it's formidable defense; LB Derrick Brooks is a force of nature, and pass rusher Simeon Rice, with a Sack in each game, can still get after the QB. That being said, Cadillac Williams threatens to shatter records.The dude rumbles through opposing defenders the way a Tractor does a field of wheat... and that's no lie! In consecutive games... Okay, we've only played 2... but just go with it... Williams has hung a combined 51 carries, 276 rushing yards, and 2 TDs. Just wait until he really becomes comfy-cozy with the playbook! As for the team's other skill po' players, receiver Michael Clayton has been unspectacular at best the past 2 weeks; 10 receptions, 131 yards, no TDs. Much like the Buccaneers opponent, it would seem as if Tampa will hop on the Cadillac and see how far he can take them. One concern I would have... Williams' work load. Gruden needs to garage the Cadillac with greater frequency. No more Cadillac puns, I promise. Last year's feature runner, Michael Pittman; he tore it up. Pittman accrued 66 yards on 10 touches, including 20 receiving yards. Williams and Pittman form a nasty 1-2 running back punch; each possesses feature quality, and look for Tampa to experiment with a variety of backfield alignments. Now, the Bills are a team currently lacking an identity. DO they hang their collective hat upon a relentless defense? Are they... a smashmouth team, ramming RB Willis McGahee down foes maws? Or, are they grooming their athletic, cannon-armed, surprisingly elusive young QB to take advantage of the impressive receiving combo at his disposal? Logic would dictate that the Bills will find their path. The aggressive Bucca'D confused and abused young master Losman, Sacking him twice and batting away 7 passes. The NFL scheduling committee sends the Buccaneers to face their divvy’ rival Packers this week. Given GB’s lack o’ D, Tampa B’ and running back Carnell “The C.” are rock solid starts this week. The Buccaneer D should be able to keep Losman and Willis McGahee in relative check. If…IF the Bill’s can get their passing game going, then Willis will be much tougher to contain. As it stands, though, assuming you have other complementary backs… I’d sit McGahee against Tampa’s impressive unit.

Detroit at Chicago: “Too much Lion O-talent, too little experience for Baby Bear Kyle Orton. While the Lions, most likely, will NOT have an easy time of it... the Bears will struggle to score points.”
With luck, I’ll not be remembered for this particular prognostication! Yes, the Lions DO have ample offensive talent. However, an Indy’ car is only as good as its driver. While the Pit Crew is instrumental… at the end of the race, the driver bathes in praise… or absorbs all the criticism. Detroit QB Joey Harrington, in year 3, looks like a rookie. Real rook’, Baby Bear QB Kyle Orton appeared much calmer and commanded the respect of his teammates via his efficient performance. Fans held such high hopes for the Motown club. Those hopes have been dashed. With no one else to turn to… and make no mistake, if he were healthy Lion backup Jeff Garcia WOULD have been cramming his hands under the Centers’ butt by half-time… the Detroit coaching staff has no alternative BUT to allow Joey Harrington to make a mockery of the club. In an act of sheer desperation, the Lions ran out Orton’s draftmate, QB Dan Orlovsky. Orlovsky completed 2 of 6 passes for 20 yards. At least he didn’t throw a pick or take a Sack! It wouldn’t be a shocker if the club, in a division that is much weaker than it was originally projected to be, scours the ‘Wire and other teams’ rosters for a possible starter. With Harrington leading the offense, this club is utterly listless. WR Roy Williams and his 1 TD on 96 receiving yards were the lone bright spot for the team. Williams built upon a very solid week 1 performance. With the team eye-balling a 3 score deficit by half-time, Stud back Kevin Jones was rendered all but useless. “KJ” notched all of 8 carries and has yet to reach the end-zone. Of note: Due to the ineffective D-Troit passing game, opponents can stack the box… thus, Kevin Jones is averaging a little more than 3 YPC.
The fantasy news outta’ Tampa is so much brighter… as is the weather. Contrary to popular belief, rookie runner Cedric Benson is nowhere near assuming the feature back duties. Late blooming RB Thomas Jones racked up 139 yards and a pair of TDs on 20 totes Sunday. And, on the season, Jones has rolled for 170 yards and 3 scores on 35 carries. For a guy who was largely assumed to be a non-factor entering the season, Thomas Jones refused to cede the starting job and has acquitted himself remarkably well. Unlike the Lions’ soft offense, the Bear O’ is still eating meat! Bear cub QB Kyle Orton has embraced the starting job with remarkable aplomb. Initially, Chad Hutchinson was backin’ up injured starter, Sexy Rexy Grossman. Orton, who flashed some pre-season skillz’, was good for 150 yards and a TD. Look for both Orton and Jones to have solid days against a Cincinnati D that can’t match it’s hi-octane O.
Much like the Ravens, the Lions are a franchise adrift. And again, much like the Ravens, the Detroit Lions MUST take stock of themselves during this week’s Bye. With the Minnesota Vikings looking like an expansion franchise and the Green Bay Packers as defensively competent as pre-schoolers, Detroit still has an opportunity to challenge for the division. If the team can squeeze some credible Quarterback play… from ANYONE, the team has the skill position players to take advantage of ‘em.

Jacksonville at Indianapolis: “Indy' continues to roll... For the Colts, much like Baseball's New York Yankees, the regular season is just a prelude... the opening act- We're really waiting for the post-season.” Indy’s D looks to be the 2nd coming of the Steel Curtain. The team oozes youthful defensive exuberance… and brace yourself; it was the defense that quite arguably won the day! Swift, young defenders pressured the hell out of Lefty’, Sacking him 6 times, and allowed Peyton Manning and company to play average Football. The team will, however, need both of its top receivers to step up their games. RB Edgerrin James (128 rushing yards) surrendered Goalline touches to Dominic Rhodes last season… this year, RB Ran Carthon could see some serious stripe-work. Jacksonville’s offense doesn’t match its defense in intensity. Veteran Jimmy Smith had the most productive receiving day with 49 yards on 3 catches, and RB Fred Taylor took his 18 carries for 81 yards; that’s a 5.1 YPC average. Of interest is the play of RB Greg Jones. Although he’s listed as a FB and backup, the big cat ran for 29 yards on 3 carries… he could see some Goalline totes. Look for Indy to wax Cleveland this coming week… and RB Edgerrin James should finally cross into the blue and notch a TD. QB Peyton Manning should vent his frustrations on the Brownies’, as will WRs Marvelous and Reggie. TE Dallas Clark is being worked back into the offense… at some point in the not-too distant future, his remarkable knack for finding the soft spots in coverage will manifest themselves. In short, look for a BIG fantasy day from Indy’s skill playaz’.

Minnesota at Cincinnati: ”Look for the Cats to maul Minny'... as Minny' won't be able to declaw both Cincy's run game AND it's passing game. Still, this game should be one of the most exciting shootouts since the O.K Corral last saw gun-play! “
I shudder with utter contempt at what I’ve seen from the Viking offense. The supposedly re-tooled D looks a heck of a lot like last year’s model, and head coach Mike Tice is as sharp as a bowling ball. If he’s not the first head coach to earn his walking papers… then he’s got incriminating pictures of new team owner Zyggi Wulf in a Safety Deposit box somewhere. Purple pepper passer Daunte’ Culpepper has been a human blooper clip. Only… his play isn’t funny, his play has been sad. A previously gracious Cincy D’ picked Culpepper off no less than 5 times and Sacked him twice. On Sunday evening, C-Pepp’ was able to boast a Passer Rating of 36.4 for the day… and 41.6 for the season. That my fantasy friends, is a far cry from his career 91.5 mark. Many’s the fantasy owner who felt confident that C-Pepp’ would rebound against the Bengal Secondary. And, many of those same owners were forced to reach for the “Costco” size jugs of Peptol-Bismol when Culpepper’s final fantasy numbers were posted. In most leagues, C-Pepp garnered a single point. Well, that’s an improvement over Week 1’s negative 8 point “explosion!” Further, the Bengals stuffed the Viking run game. But really… with the Vikes down 27 to zip by half-time, WHAT RUN GAME! Minny’ has a serious issue on its hands. The loss of Moss is proving to be difficult; just watch Raider QB Kerry Collins toss jump ball after jump ball to Moss. The real issue for the Vikings isn’t Moss’s departure, however. The defection of top notch Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan to Miami is what’s killing the Vikings. He, not Moss… not Culpepper… not Tice, Linehan was the genius behind the Viking’s offense. Just watch as he and ‘Phin coach Nick Saban turn that Miami franchise around in relatively short order… once a legit’ franchise QB is in place. Could Matt Leinart don the Dolphin teal and white? Wait, I digress. Alleged #1 Viking pass catcher Nate Burleson has been an absolute disappointment. “Nate’s been anything BUT great,” with 98 total yards on 6 receptions. RB Michael Bennett has “rumbled” for 36 yards on 9 combined carries… and, he’s already put the ball on the ground twice. Second-year man Mewelde Moore fared marginally better… on 8 totes, Moore rushed for 29 yards. But, he managed to cling to the rock. The Vikings have a lot of work to do… that work may well begin with a new head coach. The Bengals are no longer the “Bungles!” I’ve been lovin’ QB Carson Palmer since last season. If he knew just how much… both he and my wife might be uncomfortable! Umm, anyway, Palmer went *BOOM* for a ridiculous 337 yards and 3 TDs Sunday. And, as I suspected, the Viking D was unable to cage their big cat, WR Chad Johnson. The Beng’ pass catcher mauled Minny’ to the tune of 139 receiving yards and 2 TDs, with a long of 70 yards. Houshy’ indeed found the Vike Secondary to be “cushy,” and as stated, he was a great fantasy start with 55 receiving yards and a TD. Keep an eye on rookie receiver Chris Henry. Fast-becoming a “go-to” guy, Henry hauled in 3 for 45. Week 3 will pose a serious challenge for Cincy’. It will be a true test of their mettle. Facing the Bears, look for QB Carson Palmer to pounce on a very good Secondary… a Secondary that will, however, have trouble trying to rein in 3 very talented receivers and a Pro Bowl caliber runner, Rudi Johnson. The Vikings knock heads with the Saints… expect Saint runner Deuce MCAllister to have a very nice day against a rather generous Viking run defense. Likewise, the Viking QB should be able to hang some yards on a Saint defensive backfield that had trouble with young G-Man, Eli Manning. I would, however, sit the entire complement of Minny’ Running Backs… and if I had another Quarterback of consequence… I might consider starting him as well. Heresy you say? I think not. Culpepper and his offense are a mess right now… and it’s going to take more than a week and some meetings to right this particular ship.


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