December 08, 2008
I'm playing the Seinfeld card this week and giving you a column without nothing – no major theme anyway. A bulleted collection of ideas and observations follows in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1.
• The Jets were down by one score or less for just about the entire game at San Francisco, and yet Thomas Jones and Leon Washington combined for just 11 carries? Sure, that makes sense. Somewhere in the swamps of Jersey, Anthony Soprano is very unhappy.
Hopefully the staff realizes the error and fixes it for Buffalo next week, and for Seattle in Week 16, but there's a bigger problem on the tarmac: Why can't Brett Favre get on the same page with his wideouts? Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles both had just one short reception in the loss to the Niners; it doesn't look like Favre is delivering the same zip on the intermediate and deeper routes these days. At least the misguided Favre-for-MVP talk will die down now.
• Tim Hightower got into the end zone but his disappointing output against St. Louis just about makes him unstartable the rest of the way. Part of the problem is the play calling and the formations they use Hightower in, but when you can't run it against defenses designed to defend the pass first and foremost, you can't run it, period.
• There's nothing impressive about Shaun Hill on tape, but on the stat sheet he's getting it done. Give him major props for pocket awareness - he's not allowing the gaudy sack numbers J.T. O'Sullivan was – and while Hill's arm strength and spirals leave a lot to be desired, he's making good decisions and getting the ball where it needs to go. He's got deeper-league value at Miami and at St. Louis the next two weeks.
• Take all the qualifiers off Matt Ryan's brilliant year – it's the best rookie season at the quarterback position that we've ever seen. Period. Dan Marino had a prettier rating and louder stats back in 1983, but his supporting cast was better, there wasn't a ton of pressure on him, and defenses were considerably less complicated back then. If the NFL redrafted tomorrow and started every team from scratch, Ryan likely would be the No. 1 pick.
• Week 14 was a good time to stream a defense against a weak opponent – see the Colts pounding Cincinnati (26 fantasy points), or the Cardinals embarrassing the Rams (23 points). Let's also give props to Brandon Funston, who correctly predicted that the Chargers defense would make an appearance against the Raiders (15 points). Looking to next week, we have to consider weekly rentals on the Patriots (at Oakland) and Redskins (at Cincinnati).
• For the fourth consecutive game the Bengals secondary handed away goodies to complimentary receivers – Marvin Harrison and Anthony Gonzalez both scored for Indy. Unfortunately there's not a great application of this going forward, unless you want to dial up Antwaan Randle El next week or Donte Stallworth in Week 16 (I'd love to see Mark Bradley taking dead aim on the Bengals in Week 17, but it's too early to tell).
• I don't know about you, but I'm pretty excited for Pierre Thomas 2009. Deuce McAllister won't be back, and it's pretty clear Reggie Bush is never going to be a traditional featured back. You have to wonder why it took the Saints so long to give Thomas a shot – we saw what he could do last year in that electric final scene at Chicago, and the New Orleans coaches have Thomas at practice every day.
• Dick Stockton was a solid pro for many years, but the circus leaves town for everyone eventually. It's hard to listen now.
• Say this for the Jacksonville defense, at least it showed up this week at Chicago (296 yards allowed) after completely disappearing the end of the Houston game. It's not that you'll be shy about using your Packers or Colts against this unit the next two weeks, but it shouldn't be a total walkover.
• Lance Moore has just five catches for 50 yards since Bush came back two games ago. This is definitely something to worry about going forward, amigos.
• A host of mainstream media outlets praised LaDainian Tomlinson after his Thursday game at Oakland, but let's go to the numbers: 91 total yards, 3.6 yards per carry, one touchdown, long rush of nine yards. No need to throw a parade, friends. Sure, you play him at Kansas City next week, but don't expect him to carry your team.
• I don't know when Randy Cross grew that moustache, but honestly, it scared me.
• I played some low-limit Texas Hold ‘Em this weekend, which is like eating a pizza without the cheese and the sauce. Seriously, it's a game without any juice. Never again.
• Maybe it was the tint on the set, but L.J. Smith actually looked like a bona fide professional player Sunday.
• I don't care if Kid Rock is the next Lions quarterback, I'm starting Calvin Johnson. That's that.
• Thirty-nine touches for Brian Westbrook? Good heavens. Maybe he's the MVP.
• Once again we saw Kevin Smith hold fantasy value because of the volume of touches (22-63 rushing, 2-27 receiving). Those are modest stats and he didn't get in the end zone, but you could do a lot worse for your third back or a flex starter. The rest of the schedule is favorable enough for him, I suppose (Indy, New Orleans, Green Bay), not that I expect the Lions to beat any of those teams.
• A lot of name brand tight ends have been coming up small of late (not you, Tony G), but at least there's some help out there on the waiver wire. John Carlson keeps making plays, Visanthe Shiancoe has forced us to learn the spelling of his name, Greg Olsen is back after a mini-slump and Donald Lee has quietly scored three times in four games (no one seems to enjoy the Lambeau Leap as much as he does). It's a numbers racket.
• A mildly disappointing game from Tyler Thigpen, not that it was his entire fault (he converted 5-of-12 third downs and had a respectable 81.1 rating). He also was tackled at the Denver 1-yard line on Kansas City's last offensive snap of the game; the Chiefs defense couldn't get off the field after that and Denver closed out the final 4:35. For the game, Kansas City had the ball for just 23 minutes. I'm still going to the Thigpen well next week against San Diego.
• Here's the deal with Tennessee and a potential sit-down: if the Titans lose next week (at Houston) or the Steelers win next week (at Baltimore), the Week 16 game between Tennessee and Pittsburgh has meaning. A Titans win in Week 15 coupled with a Steelers loss would give Jeff Fisher's crew the No. 1 seed in the AF, and some interesting decisions down the stretch.
• If I put a weak song in my musical library, the iPod somehow realizes this and exploits the mistake on an almost-daily basis. I guess we all need our checks and balances.