Thursday Night Brevelations
Atlanta 26, Baltimore 21
You couldn't have asked for a better November weather day in Atlanta on Thursday (73 and sunny with a light wind), and the NFL Network couldn't have conjured up a better ending to Ravens-Falcons -- its first of seven Thursday games on the docket. And what better way to conclude that Day O' Fun than bringing some Fantasy Brevelations to Friday's Schmlicks:
1. Roddy White is a stone-cold fantasy freak. So much for those dire reports of Roddy missing Thursday's clash with a balky knee. This was the Falcons' game of the year to this point, and -- short of a knee tear or exposed bone dangling out of his leg -- Roddy absolutely wasn't going to miss it. The end result: 12 catches for 138 yards and two TDs -- including a 33-yard score with 20 seconds left to clinch Atlanta's thrilling home victory. With the universal trade deadlines coming up in the next eight days, it'd take a major haul of at least three quality players (including one stud receiver) to land White (58 catches, 796 yards, 5 TDs) in a blockbuster deal ... so, perhaps we should just move on to the next bullet.
2. Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco have cemented their standing as rubber-stamp starters in 12-, 14- or 16-team leagues. To be fair, Flacco (228 total yards, 3 TDs) and Ryan (316 yards passing, 3 TDs) somewhat inflated their numbers during frantic drives inside the 2-Minute Warning -- against prevent defenses. But then again, Ryan doesn't have a deep receiving corps after White and tight end Tony Gonzalez (4 catches, 38 yards); and the Falcons are still a run-first operation with Michael Turner and backup RB Jason Snelling (67 total yards, 1 TD) in the mix. And Flacco has needed time to develop on-field chemistry with Anquan Boldin (5 catches, 50 yards, 1 TD), while satisfying the pass-catching egos of Derrick Mason (4 catches, 50 yards, 1 TD), TE Todd Heap (4 catches, 57 yards, 1 TD) and RB Ray Rice, perhaps the greatest safety blanket in fantasy today.
3. Ray Rice might've had the quietest 102 total yards in NFL history, while finishing a mere three yards from averaging 7 yards per touch. While it's true Ray-Ray Jr. hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 5 against Denver, he's posted per-game averages of 120 total yards in that time frame ... which spells F-U-N for the PPR owner who gets Rice on the cheap, via trade, before Week 11. Bottom line: Even on his bad days, Rice is still a fantasy dynamo.
4. Michael Turner's over-under for rushing touchdowns during the fantasy playoffs is five. With roadies against Carolina and Seattle and a Monday night showdown with New Orleans in Weeks 14-16, Turner should be a top-end priority for the fantasy owner who's one piece from a championship ... or willing to move heaven and earth to pull off a playoff shocker or two. To wit, I'm asking you to ignore Turner's 39-yard effort from Thursday and focus on his patented bull-rush style that'll surely wreak havoc against the Rams, Packers and Bucs in the next three weeks. If anything, Turner's price on the trade market is 10 percent less than just 24 hours ago.
QB Locks For 275 Yards and/or 3 TDs
1. Peyton Manning vs. Cincinnati
2. Kyle Orton vs. Kansas City
3. Eli Manning vs. Dallas
4. Brett Favre @ Chicago
5. Carson Palmer @ Indianapolis
6. Matt Schaub @ Jacksonville
I've answered numerous Tweets about which specific days fantasy readers can expect Schmlicks to show up on Twitter; and to be perfectly honest, I have no set plan for how it'll go down from this point forward. Basically, I write when I'm bored. So, you may see four blogs per week, or none it all. It all depends on my workload at SI.com -- and how many sitcoms are stored on my DVR, Monday through Friday.
Here are seven players who could post season-highs for fantasy points in Week 10:
1. RB Fred Jackson, Bills (the Detroit matchup is simply too good to ignore)
2. WR Brandon LaFell, Panthers (reaps the benefits of Aqib Talib guarding Steve Smith)
3. QB Derek Anderson, Cardinals (not the worst fantasy option out there)
4. WR Brandon Gibson, Rams
5. TE Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers (high targets rate portends a future breakout)
6. RB Donald Brown, Colts
7. QB Troy Smith, 49ers
You Gotta Be Cruel To Be Kind
Believe me, I love spending 2-3 hours a day -- from Wednesday to Sunday -- answering emails, texts and Tweets from the masses regarding fantasy dilemmas. But I absolutely loathe fielding questions about kickers and defense/special teams, which serves as a perfect lead-in to the Four Fantasy Questions I Dream Of Never Answering Again (Even Though That's Impossible):
1. "Which do you like -- Defense A or Defense B?" -- Unless we're talking about the Steelers ... every NFL D/ST is a dime-a-dozen entity from week-to-week. Oh sure, kick-returning extraordinaires like Brandon Banks, Devin Hester and Josh Cribbs give the Redskins, Bears and Redskins more fantasy respect than usual, but everything's relative over the course of 17 weeks -- so why even try to speak intelligently about crapshoots? Personally, I like to just grab a free-agent team that has the good fortune of playing the Seahawks, Cardinals, Rams, Bills or Cowboys. Now, that's a bankable strategy!
2. "What do you think of this trade -- Defense A for Defense B?" -- First of all, I wouldn't want to be in a league with owners who execute 1-for-1 swaps involving defenses. Seriously, what are you trying to accomplish here? Are you really trying to outfox someone ... on the assumption that Jacksonville might convert a Colt McCoy sack/fumble into a touchdown in Week 11? Ugh!
3. "Should I offer (Owner B) Matt Cassel/Ryan Mathews for Eli Manning/Chris Johnson?" -- I'm not saying my time is extremely valuable -- especially since Wednesdays are typically 12-hour couch days -- but are you really pitching offers that have not been formally proposed? Especially one where Owner B is getting hoodwinked on both ends? At the very least, email me your roster ... and I'll fire off a suggestion of two for improving your club (especially during the fantasy playoffs). But please, I'm begging you, please reserve all trade Tweets until a deal is officially on the table.
4. "How do you think Randy Moss will fare with the Titans?" -- As I mentioned in Tuesday's Fantasy Schmlicks (which drew nearly 1,300 page views with little promotion -- thank you very much!), I don't have the strength to predict the many moods of Randy Moss. Nor do I have any interest in listening to his typical rhetoric about how he'll be a good teammate and play "whatever role" the coaches ask of him. We all know that Moss, a free agent at season's end, is playing for one last megadeal ... and that it's imperative he erase the stench of four games of two or fewer catches with New England and Minnesota. And yet, he just doesn't seem to have that inner fire to dominate on anything else but "go" routes. Hence, I'm done speculating about Randy -- even though his "Planet Clown" TV commercial from nearly 10 years ago still makes me chuckle. (Couldn't find it on YouTube ... sorry.)
OK, I'm done venting ... back to Schmlicks.
I'd like to call attention to David Komer's entertaining Fantasy Clicks currently running on SI.com. Forget about Dave being one of my best friends in life -- or that he always picks up the tab at Applebee's -- the kid has truly found his voice with this whole fantasy thing ... and I couldn't be happier for him. Even if he's allergic to Twitter.
For Tuesday's Schmlicks, I'll resurrect the Pre-Trade Deadline Spectacular, while chronicling the five most popular methods of bona fide trades:
1) The 1-for-1 Swap
2) The 2-for-1 Psych Job
3) The 2-for-2 Schmoozola
4) The 3-for-2 Injury Blockbuster
5) The All-In 4-for-1 Franchise Revival
Consider this exercise to be your guide for Jedi mind tricks ... and path to a potential fantasy championship.
A pass-catcher is only as good as his QB and the number of opportunities he gets to make a catch; and these "Targets" should factor heavily with owners when choosing to snag (or drop) assets in PPR leagues. It goes without saying, owners must bookmark this link and refer to it every week. Here are the tight ends with 20 or more targets from Weeks 5-9:
1. Jason Witten, Cowboys -- 43 targets
2. Chris Cooley, Redskins -- 36
3. Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers -- 35
4. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons -- 30
5. Brandon Pettigrew, Lions -- 27
6. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots -- 26
7. Jacob Tamme, Colts -- 26 (basically three weeks' worth)
8. Vernon Davis, 49ers -- 23
9. Jermaine Gresham, Bengals -- 23
10. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars -- 23
11. Tony Moeaki, Chiefs -- 23
12. Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings -- 23
13. Brent Celek, Eagles -- 22
14. Antonio Gates, Chargers -- 22
15. Dustin Keller, Jets -- 22
16. Ben Watson, Browns -- 22
17. Anthony Fasano, Dolphins -- 20
18. Zach Miller, Raiders -- 20
19. Greg Olsen, Bears -- 20
20. Jeremy Shockey, Saints -- 20
Through eight games, the Texans pass defense has surrendered 298.2 yards and 2.5 passing touchdowns per game; but Jacksonville QB David Garrard has averaged just 229 yards and one TD lifetime against Houston. So, what will happen Sunday when the Jags and Texans meet? Something's gotta give here. Well, Garrard (1,098 passing yards, 13 TDs in 2010) has demonstrated an uncanny pattern for 2 games on/1 game off this season; and as luck would have it, he's due for one more stellar outing ... before his pre-destined clunker against Cleveland next week.
Target Practice, Part II
Here are the 14 running backs with 28 or more targets this season. Simply put, none of these backs should be floundering on waivers in PPR leagues:
1. Frank Gore, 49ers -- 59 targets
2. Jahvid Best, Lions -- 58
3. LeSean McCoy, Eagles -- 48
4. LaDainian Tomlinson, Jets -- 44
5. Ray Rice, Ravens -- 40 (excluding Thursday's action)
6. Cadillac Williams, Buccaneers -- 40
7. Arian Foster, Texans -- 39
8. Matt Forte, Bears -- 38
9. Darren Sproles, Chargers -- 38
10. Peyton Hillis, Browns -- 37
11. Adrian Peterson, Vikings -- 34
12. Darren McFadden, Raiders -- 31
13. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs -- 28
14. Chris Johnson, Titans -- 28
RB Locks -- 120 Total Yards and/or 2 TDs
1. Rashard Mendenhall vs. New England
2. Frank Gore vs. St. Louis
3. Adrian Peterson @ Chicago
4. Jamaal Charles @ Denver
5. Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Houston
6. Chris Johnson @ Miami
7. LeGarrette Blount vs. Carolina
8. Fred Jackson vs. Detroit
About Schmlicks, Part II
Congratulations are in order for Matt Dollinger, my SI.com colleague -- and one of the few whipper-snappers in history to make the immediate jump from college to Sports Illustrated -- who successfully cracked the code behind Fantasy Schmlicks.
"It's Fantasy Clicks for schmucks, right?"
Man, that kid is sharp.
WR Locks -- 110 Total Yards and/or 1 TD
1. Hines Ward vs. New England
2. Hakeem Nicks vs. Dallas
3. Larry Fitzgerald vs. Seattle
4. Michael Crabtree vs. St. Louis
5. Brandon Lloyd vs. Kansas City
6. Andre Johnson @ Jacksonville
7. Percy Harvin @ Chicago
8. Reggie Wayne vs. Cincinnati
9. Chad Ochocinco @ Indianapolis (he's due ... just a hunch here)
I Tweet, Therefore I Am
@RazorFang331 says: I was offered Aaron Rodgers/Danny Woodhead for Joe Flacco/LeSean Mccoy and rejected it. Good move?
Answer: I answered this question in shorter form Thursday night, approximately four hours before Flacco threw three touchdowns against the Falcons. But my answer remains the same: As great as Rodgers has been to date (2,300 passing yards, 15 TDs) -- ranking No. 1 overall in most leagues -- I would prefer a top-10 running back (McCoy) and top-12 quarterback (Flacco) to Rodgers and an eminently replaceable asset like Woodhead. Bottom line: You can NEVER have enough quality backs in 12-, 14- or 16-team leagues; and at the very least, McCoy's presence would give fantasy owners greater flexibility when conceiving landmark, pre-trade-deadline deals for a top-4 running back like Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Frank Gore ... or the stud in the next question.
@lawless313 wonders: Should I give up Calvin Johnson/Ryan Mathews for Darren McFadden? You think the schedule is getting tough for Calvin? Do Hakeem Nicks and Larry Fitzgerald have more value (with Matthew Stafford out)?
Answer: Calvin has been an absolute freak among mortals in eight games (39 catches, 551 yards, 8 TDs) -- thriving under the passing regimes of Matthew Stafford and Shaun Hill (who returns from injury this week against Buffalo -- how's that for fortuitous timing?). But unless Calvin can duplicate that touchdown total in the second half, I'll have no regrets about trading him and Mathews for McFadden, who's 7-for-7 in breaking the century mark in total yards and possesses the most eye-catching slate for Weeks 14 (Jacksonville), 15 (Denver) and 16 (Indianapolis) -- aka the fantasy playoffs. In fact, to repeat a refrain from Tuesday's Schmlicks, I would covet D-Mac over Chris Johnson, Peterson, Gore, Turner, Ray Rice or Arian Foster during the fantasy playoffs.
@RSCDoug says: I need a wide receiver because of injury and no FAAB money left. Maurice Jones-Drew/Austin Collie for Steve Johnson/Jonathan Stewart ... or MJD/Malcom Floyd for Anquan Boldin/Jahvid Best for my PPR league?
Answer: Personally, I think MJD should command greater value than either trade scenario; but if I had to choose, I'd want the Boldin/Best proposal (and that was before Boldin's 5-catch, 50-yard, 1-TD effort against Atlanta). But unless this week is a do-or-die experience for your fantasy team, I'd hold off on any blockbuster swaps. Let things play out for one more week, if possible.
@MsMommyRit asks: Who would I start behind Peyton Hillis ... Knowshon Moreno or Ryan Torain?
Answer: Even if Torain was fully healthy and not bothered by a leg injury, I'd still take a leap of faith on Moreno against the Chiefs' sneaky-good defense. The optimist in me believes Moreno will rack up 110 yards and score one touchdown in Week 10.
Since we're knocking out Frequently Asked Questions on Twitter, here are my five favorite football-specific podcasts/radio shows. And a special mention goes out to Steve Czaban's hilarious national show on Sporting News Radio, my favorite Monday-Friday program:
1. CBSSports.com -- "Fantasy Football" with Dave Richard and Jamey Eisneberg
2. ESPN -- "Fantasy Focus" with Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz
3. KFAN in Minneapolis -- "Fantasy Football Weekly" with Paul Charchian & Friends
4. Fox2Detroit.com -- "Fantasy Geekly" with Sean Baligian, Scott Bischoff and Gregg Kanner
5. Sirius Radio -- "Sirius Fantasy Football" with John Hansen and Adam Caplan
Jay Clemons' Fantasy Schmlicks are in no way the thoughts of Sports Illustrated or SI.com. It's merely a personal -- and quite random -- diary for the fantasy realm. The Incurable Sports Ham can be easily reached, night or day, on Twitter.