October 26, 2008
In all likelihood, Brian Westbrook (ankle, ribs) and LaDainian Tomlinson (toe) weren't actually at full strength today. But it's like Westbrook said after Philly beat Atlanta: "Those are things you have to play through."
The Eagles running back had 28 touches on Sunday, and he converted them into 209 yards and two touchdowns. The full skill set was on display, especially on the 39-yard fourth quarter TD. No fewer than three Falcons did face-plants in pursuit of Westbrook. He led all players in fantasy scoring in Week 8 (32 points), and it wasn't really close.
Tomlinson's first carry of the day went for 26 yards, and it offered clear evidence of his return to usefulness, too. And if that wasn't convincing enough for you, then the 40-yard carry in the second quarter must've been. That run was like a greatest hits collection, complete with spin moves and stiff-arms.
These two are back, and they'd like you to cancel the sell order.
Onto the other notes, on a night when the NBC Player's Room (or is it a lounge? Hostel? Dance party?) must be a lonely place...
• Nate Washington caught yet another long touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger, and a second TD was negated by a holding penalty with 3:58 remaining in the third quarter. Washington is still only 40 percent owned in PLUS leagues, but he's an excellent add with Santonio Holmes facing legal/suspension issues.
The TD was one of the only things that went well for Roethlisberger. He went just 13-for-29 with 189 passing yards, and he threw four picks.
• Mike Singletary, the Niners' new head coach, may have fired Vernon Davis today. He sent him to the locker room in the fourth quarter of the Niners' humbling loss. The AP game recap describes it beautifully:
After Davis caught a 7-yard pass late in the third quarter, he slapped a Seahawks defender’s head after the tackle for a 15-yard personal foul. Singletary pulled Davis from the game and yelled at the former No. 6 overall pick in full view of his teammates, commanding Davis to sit on the bench -- and then ordering him to the locker room at the next timeout.
Davis waved his helmet at the crowd as he left, although Candlestick Park had thousands of empty seats.
If today's postgame press conference is any indication, the Singletary era is going to be fairly entertaining.
• David Garrard out-rushed the combination of Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor on Sunday, 59 to 53. Credit the massive Shaun Rogers for disrupting the Jacksonville ground game. Rogers finished with eight tackles, and he added a sack.
• Cedric Benson had a favorable matchup against the Houston run defense, but he produced his usual line: 13 carries, 49 yards. Ryan Fitzpatrick again delivered fewer than 5.0 yards per pass attempt, and he again finished with less than 170 passing yards.
Seattle fullback Leonard Weaver turned a pair of short passes into long TDs, but neither play required him to do anything but run straight ahead while various Niners whiffed on tackles.
Posted at 9:55 ET
Please, no need to thank us for recommending Niners this week. It's our pleasure.
We're here to help.
Yeah, so...this is awkward...
• JT O'Sullivan's final pass of the first half was intended for Arnaz Battle, but it was absolutely nowhere near him. Josh Wilson picked it off and took it back 75 yards for a TD. (At least some Josh did something there, even if it wasn't the one we told you to add).
Shaun Hill entered for the final snap of the half, a handoff to Frank Gore. He's a reasonable speculative add for those of you in deeper leagues or two-QB formats.
• Mewelde Moore provided the offense for the Steelers in the first half, rushing eight times for 63 yards and a TD. When Willie Parker returns, it's tough to believe Moore won't still have a role that gives him fantasy relevance. Long-term, consider him a handcuff with benefits.
• Entering the fourth quarter in Jacksonville, David Garrard was the Jaguars' leading rusher. He has 53 yards on the ground, and 198 through the air. He's giving Matt Jones a nice send-off, too.
Posted at 6:20 ET
• Say what you will about the Saints' end-of-game strategy -- Drew Brees takes an intentional safety from the 26, the subsequent kick gives the Chargers the ball at mid-field -- but as a fantasy owner, you have to enjoy the New Orleans offense.
After a rare sub-300-yard performance against Carolina in Week 7, Brees returned to his old ways in Week 8. He went 30-of-41 for 339 yards and three more TDs. That gives him 2,563 passing yards and 15 touchdown passes through eight weeks. The touchdown pass to Devery Henderson wasn't just a clinic; it was like a series of clinics.
LaDainian Tomlinson looked suspiciously like his old quick-cutting self for San Diego, rushing 19 times for 105 yards and catching six passes for 65 and a TD.
• For 59 minutes on Sunday, Brett Favre seemed to think he was involved in a playoff game -- that's how miserable he was. When Brandon Flowers returned a pick 91 yards for a TD in the fourth quarter, Favre took over the NFL lead in interceptions. Derrick Johnson let one get away, too.
But with a minute left in the fourth quarter, Favre made a serious veteran throw to Laveranues Coles, intentionally throwing behind the receiver to avoid tight coverage by Dimitri Patterson. Coles adjusted to the ball, made the touchdown catch with one hand, and the Jets went on to beat the Chiefs, 28-24. We'll just pretend that Will Franklin wasn't interfered with on the game's final play, because that's what the officials decided to do.
Tyler Thigpen put up a surprisingly useful stat line, going 25-for-36 for 280 yards and two TDs. Tony Gonzalez had six receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown, and Dwayne Bowe added six catches for 102. Those two are basically recession-proof.
• Despite the fact that Anquan Boldin returned in a big way (nine receptions, 93 combined yards, two TDs), there were plenty of targets left over for Steve Breaston. He caught nine passes for 91 yards. That sort of thing happens when your quarterback throws 49 times.
Steve Smith was his usual brilliant self for the other side, catching five balls for 117 yards and two scores. DeAngelo Williams dominated the Carolina rushing workload, carrying 17 times to Jonathan Stewart's eight.
• Brian Westbrook returned to excellence today: 209 combined yards, two TDs. In the same game, Roddy White maintained his exceptional pace, hauling in eight receptions for 113 yards and two TDs. Matt Ryan completed just 52.3 percent of his passes and threw two picks, but White keeps him interesting.
• The 12 percent-owned Ted Ginn Jr. entered Week 8 with 177 receiving yards, and he nearly matched that total today. He had seven receptions for 175 yards, and Chad Pennington finished with 314 passing yards and a short, easy TD to Anthony Fasano. The tight end was entirely alone in the end zone.
• Jason Campbell and Clinton Portis essentially did what was expected of them, considering the opponent (Detroit). Portis injured his feelings in the first half, and possibly his ankle in the second. Santana Moss had the biggest fantasy day for Washington, catching nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. His brilliant late punt return TD put him atop the fantasy scorers at WR.
Posted at 5:30 ET
• Leon Washington made a one-handed grab on a screen pass from Brett Favre, hopped over a fallen lineman, then darted between a few thoroughly-blocked Chiefs for an 18-yard TD.
Washington was started in 18 percent of Yahoo! PLUS leagues today, since the Jets RBs had the most favorable match-up imaginable. Well played, folks.
• With 1:04 remaining in the first quarter at Dallas, Tony Siragusa officially declared that the Cowboys needed to send Brad Johnson to the bench in favor of Brooks Bollinger. Johnson answered with a drive that lasted six minutes and 35 seconds and ended with a 38-yard field goal. Johnson later closed the half with a two-yard jump ball to Roy Williams for a touchdown.
• The Ravens had a 16-0 advantage over the Raiders midway through the second quarter, following a safety, a Willis McGahee TD, and a long Joe Flacco-to-an-uncovered-Demetrius Williams touchdown. It felt like knee-down time.
• Early candidate for Worst Decision of the Day: Brett Favre's pass to Laveranues Coles with 5:43 remaining in the second quarter. You can't really cover a receiver more completely than the Chiefs did Coles. He was locked up, totally. Jarrad Page came down with the INT, and it looked like he was fair-catching a punt.
• Another early candidate for Worst Decision, from the same game: the Jets attempted 17 passes in the first half, and only ran nine times against the league's worst run defense. The Chiefs allow over 207 rushing yards per game. Two of the Jets' nine carries went to Leon Washington, and he took the second for 60 yards and a score.
• Matt Ryan somehow squeezed a pass to Roddy White between Eagles defenders, then White raced for a 55-yard score. At halftime, Ryan already has 20 pass attempts. White, of course, is having yet another outstanding fantasy day.
• Drew Brees lofted a beautiful throw to Lance Moore for a 30-yard TD late in the first half at Wembley. That game is a fantasy buffet, as LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Philip Rivers, Deuce McAllister, Brees and Moore are all on the scoreboard, and in double digits.
• Welcome back, Anquan Boldin. On the Cardinals' first series, he caught an eight-yard pass, then ran 30 yards on a reverse. He added a five-yard TD early in the second quarter.
• On BenJarvus Green-Ellis' two-yard TD run, you saw his game in a nutshell: he won't make you miss, but he will make you hurt a little.
• Donnie Avery will make you miss. He shamed a pair of Patriots on his long TD off a post route (again).
• Early injuries of note: Jamaal Charles (ankle) and Jason Witten (ribs). Charles is questionable to return. Witten went to the locker room for maintenance, then returned to the sideline. Martellus Bennett had two first-half receptions for 15 yards in his absence.
Posted at 3:22 ET
Rams running back Steven Jackson (quad) reportedly won't play at New England, so get him out of your lineup(s), immediately. Expect Antonio Pittman and Travis Minor to split the workload. Both are widely-available, but you likely have better fantasy options on your bench.
Welcome to the second week of the BenJarvus Green-Ellis era, everyone.
Please join us at noon ET for an hour of vigorous disagreement over at Fantasy Football Live. We'll answer as many start/sit questions as we can, just so you can have someone else to blame when you fall to 3-5.
Also, if he's still available in your league, you should probably add this guy for his match-up with Seattle...
He's only 11 percent owned, and the Seahawks have allowed the second-most fantasy points to armed mascots.
Other Niners should be useful today, too. Frank Gore is third in the running back ranks this week, and the 66 percent-owned JT O'Sullivan is our No. 9 quarterback. Isaac Bruce and Josh Morgan (more on him here and here) are each top-30 receivers.
You'll recall that San Francisco beat Seattle 33-30 in Week 2. O'Sullivan finished with 19 fantasy points (321 passing yards, one TD, 32 rush), and Bruce scored 15 (four receptions, 153 yards).
Photos via Getty Images (mascot) and AP (Washington, Brees, O'Sullivan, Westbrook)