Bringin’ the Noise: PT Cruiser

Watch the Noise, alongside fellow Yahoo! expert Brandon Funston and RotoWire’s Chris Liss , answer your pressing lineup questions for a full hour every NFL Sunday on the two-time Emmy nominated webcast “Fantasy Football Live” at 9 AM PT/11 AM CT/Noon ET.

Last week on Capitol Hill, auto executives from the Detroit Three, with exposed palms and depressed faces, pleaded to a congressional committee for a green handout.

Hot blondes, Ben Franklin impersonators and random losers who think wearing receiver gloves is the ultimate expression of fandom all want to grip the PT Cruiser’s wheel
(US Presswire)
The crumbling American auto industry, losing millions each day, is an endangered institution. Without federal backing, one of the country’s greatest homegrown businesses could go extinct, negatively effecting millions of people directly or indirectly in the process.

If only the Motor City would’ve pitched more PT Cruisers to fantasy footballers …

Chrysler’s popular, versatile wagon known for its throwback design, smooth ride and surprisingly powerful torque has attributes identical to an unsung New Orleans running back born with the PT brand name: Pierre Thomas.

Hiding in the dark alleyways along Bourbon Street for much of the season, Thomas has emerged from the foggy shadows with foot firmly pressed on pedal.

The second-year rusher from the Land of Corrupt Governors (Illinois), who has been started in less than one-third of Yahoo! Plus leagues since Week 10, ranks fifth in fantasy points per game among RBs over the past five weeks. Revving his engine for 5.3 yards per carry, 97.6 total yards per game and six touchdowns during that span, Thomas has outpaced statistical monoliths Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson and Brandon Jacobs over the most crucial stretch of the season. In a way, he, like the Feds with several business enterprises, has bailed out many deficit-ridden owners, launching them into the second-round of their league playoffs.

However, despite his recent achievements, several pundits aren’t fully sold on Thomas’ contributions. Take for instance the verbal showdown on last week’s thrilling episode of “Fantasy Football Live.”

A visibly distraught Noise, upset colleagues Brandon Funston and Chris Liss didn’t sink a high-dollar investment in PT’s Week 14 stock, passionately begged viewers to take a gamble on the youngster. Ripped by Funston for not possessing the ability to be “impartial” when recommending players from his alma mater (only a partially correct assertion by Funbags – Jeff George and Brandon Lloyd never did or will receive a hyperbolic endorsement), an animated Noise remained steadfast in his commitment to the Saints gut-buster.

Hopefully, you were one of the few who listened.

Against the flexible Falcons, Reggie Bush’s accomplice powered his way to 109 total yards and two scores. For those leagues that count return yardage, he also chipped in a dynamite 88-yard kickoff return. Only Brian Westbrook, who racked 200 total yards and two scores in blustery conditions at the Meadowlands, scored more points among Week 14 RBs in standard leagues.

To the Noise, Thomas’ sensational performance was no surprise. Earlier in the week the hard-working rusher told the New Orleans Times-Picayune he was prepared and extremely motivated to prove his mettle:

“I’ve been working and studying so hard for this. I just want to show them that I can be that guy, that every-down back. … This really is my opportunity, and I just want to show what I can do.”

Deceptively powerful, physically gritty, role flexible and shockingly quick, the 5-foot-11, 210-pound overachiever has drawn the adoration of people other than Yahoo! Fantasy’s obnoxious jackass. Per teammate Mike Karney:

“He’s a smaller version of Michael Turner. He’s durable, and he’s smart. He’s not a guy that takes a lot of minus-(yardage) runs. I’ve been pleased with his progress from a guy who’s relatively young, but nonetheless certainly not a rookie any more, and a guy that you wouldn’t know is a free agent.”

Mentioned as a possible deep sleeper back in July, Thomas didn’t become a consistent part of the gameplan until midseason when Reggie Bush and Aaron Stecker were felled by injury. Although he was used early in the year as a goal-line option, Sean Payton turned to veteran Deuce McAllister after Week 3 to offset Bush, relegating Thomas almost exclusively to special team duties.

Start Thomas the rest of the way and he’ll lead your team to the fantasy promise land
(Getty Images)
But with diuretic Deuce’s days numbered in ‘Nawlins, the junior runner will continue to be Mr. Kim Kardashian’s primary compliment going forward. Karney noted Thomas’ stellar effort last week earned the respect of the coaching staff:

“He’s a great young talent. He comes up big for us when need be. He had to earn his way and get a feel for what’s going on. He’s done that and the coaches are going to him.”

A native of Lynwood, Ill., a southern suburb of Chicago, Thomas returns this week to the hallowed grounds of Soldier Field, a place the 23-year-old is very familiar with.

Last year in the frosty December air, Thomas plowed through his favorite childhood team like a torched battering ram, lighting up the Bears for 105 rushing and 121 receiving yards in front of friends and family. His sensational effort marked only the second time in NFL history a rookie surpassed the century mark in rushing and receiving yards in a game.

But the drive down Lake Shore could be bumpier this time around for the PT Cruiser. Not nearly the injury-plagued defensive maelstrom they were this time last season, the playoff-hungry Bears present a more daunting task. Chicago has yielded just 3.3 yards per carry and 118.3 total yards per game to rushers at home this season. Also, Bush is healthy this go-round – he missed last year’s clash with a knee injury – which means Thomas will grip the pigskin roughly 15-20 times, nowhere close to the 32 touches he accumulated in ’07.

Still, there are several reasons why you must start Thomas. For starters, despite their defensive prowess in friendly surroundings, Chicago has surrendered seven touchdowns in six home games to RBs. In particular, the Bears have had difficulties containing versatile backs (e.g. Maurice Jones Drew and Chester Taylor). Advantage Thomas and Bush. Finally, they have no defensive answer for Drew Brees, meaning the Saints will find themselves in numerous red-zone situations, enhancing Thomas’ chances of piercing the end-zone.

Sure his name may still seem exotic to non-believers, but in these high-stakes times, the PT Cruiser is the ultimate fantasy bailout.

Converted taxpayers, political talking heads and widow’s peaked fantasy columnists would agree.

Week 15 Fearless Forecast: 18 carries, 81 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 17 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns

Here are this week’s flames, lames and stars of video games:

Each week the Noise highlights five somewhat obscure, unobvious names who he believes are destined for flame madness or lame sadness. In honor of waiver wire hero Ron Dayne’s legendary three-game dominance late in ’06, the “Shocker Special” segment spotlights one player owned in less than a third of Yahoo! leagues who is poised for instant greatness. The Noise, an accountability advocate, will tally his hits and misses and post the results, whether genius or moronic, each week using the scoring system listed at the end of the lames segment.

*BNRK = Big Noise weekly position ranking
*Y!% = Percentage owned, started in Yahoo! Plus leagues

Week 15 Fantasy Flames
Matt Schaub QB 9 67, 13
Lowdown: Playing in glacial temperatures in Green Bay last week, Schaub, who hadn’t tossed a pass in five weeks, emanated steam from his scorching throwing hand. Against the NFC’s best secondary, Houston’s gunslinger tallied 414 yards and two touchdowns, the best QB fantasy performance of the week. Head coach Gary Kubiak marveled at his QB’s unexpected execution, “He showed a little rust early. The thing I was impressed with was even when he missed some throws, he missed them in the right place. He had one play he’d like to have back (interception), but he was very consistent and very competitive. He took some shots and made some great plays. He had total command of the group and total command of the group under a lot of pressure at the end of the game.” This week, Schaub is faced with another daunting task. Over the past five weeks, the Titans have conceded only 167.2 passing yards and four total touchdowns to signal callers, equal to the second-fewest fantasy points allowed. More discouraging, they’ve yielded only two multi-TD passers this year (Peyton Manning and Brett Favre). Still with the sensational weapons surrounding him at home, Schaub should be relied on for top-10 numbers.
Fearless Forecast: 26-40, 257 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception
Dominic Rhodes RB 9 84, 30
Lowdown: The last time Rhodes was classified as “must-start” material (2001), Enrique Iglesias was mesmerizing ladies with his cheesy love anthems, tight A-shirts and cheek mole. Expected to tote a heavy workload versus the league’s friendliest fantasy defense, Detroit, Rhodes could be an unforeseen difference-making force like Aaron Stecker was to championship-vying owners this week last year. Unable to practice Wednesday, Joseph Addai, who is sidelined by a mysterious shoulder injury, “may not be able to play” according to Tony Dungy. With Najeh Davenport trying to get himself quickly acclimated with the Colts’ playbook, it appears Rhodes could touch the rock a minimum of 20-25 times. Since Week 10 the very pliable Hello Kitties have surrendered 5.6 yards per carry, 218 total yards per game and 12 touchdowns to rushers, equal to the most fantasy points allowed. Simply put: Rhodes is someone who must be activated in all formats. Confidently start him over marquee names Clinton Portis (at Cin), Marshawn Lynch (at NYJ) and Reggie Bush (at Chi).
Fearless Forecast: 22 carries, 114 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 18 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns
Le’Ron McClain RB 21 76, 25
Lowdown: To take liberty with a classic Peter Gabriel ditty: McClain will be your sledge, sledgehammer. Baltimore’s bulky 260-pound bulldozer could post shocking totals against the NFL’s top-rated defense. In his first battle with Steely McBeam in Week 4, the “Freight Train” chugged his way to 89 total yards and a score. Although the burly fullback is still technically part of a triple-headed monster, he’s recently outperformed Willis McGahee and Ray Rice. His rugged, plowing style should prove useful against Pittsburgh’s interior curtain. As Derrick Mason described to reporters Monday, “When you got somebody at 260, gracious to Le’Ron who is more 270, running downhill at you, you get tired of tackling him.” In what will likely be a war of attrition, McClain will prove too cumbersome to Pittsburgh in the game’s penultimate frame. Yes, the Steelers have limited tugboats to just 3.7 yards per carry, three touchdowns and 123 total yards per game since Week 10, equal to the eighth-fewest fantasy points allowed, but John Harbaugh’s commitment to smash-mouth football makes McClain an upside Flex play in deeper leagues. Don’t be surprised if he outplays any computer-generated projection by a sizable margin.
Fearless Forecast: 22 carries, 87 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 21 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Santana Moss WR 17 100, 78
Lowdown: Next to butterfingers Braylon, this Dick’s pitchman has arguably been the most frustrating player to own this year. Good thing Moss drafted Carson Palmer and not himself with his first pick in Chris Cooley’s league. Umm, check that. Moss’ rollercoaster ride of frustration will finally reach a peak this week. Sure he’s averaged a mere 4.2 receptions and 51 yards per game over the past five weeks and hasn’t crossed the chalk since Week 8, but the Bungles have been very fantasy friendly. Since Week 10 the Cincinnati Queens have yielded four touchdowns and five 70-yard games to wideouts, equal to the second-most fantasy points. Based on the strength of Cincy’s interior defense (3.4 YPC in last five) and Clinton Portis’ battered state, Jim Zorn will likely encourage Jason Campbell to take shots downfield to his premiere playmaker. Activate Moss in all formats.
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 101 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Steve Breaston WR 21 88, 48
Lowdown: Arizona’s Langston Hughes will have PPR owners waxing poetically about his fantasy playoff efforts. Snagging seven passes for 90 yards last week versus St. Louis, the unheralded Breaston has been a WR3 anchor in deeper leagues. Despite penetrating the end-zone just once since Week 10, the sticky-fingered wideout has averaged 5.6 receptions and 71.4 yards per game during that stretch, ranking him 23rd in FPPG among WRs. A silky smooth route runner with exceptional speed, the 25-year-old has benefited greatly from defensive focus on Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Unless the rib strain he suffered last week proves serious, he should be entrusted as a WR3 in all PPR-friendly formats. Minnesota has surrendered just one 70-yard tally and three scores to receivers since Week 10, equal to the eighth-fewest fantasy points conceded, but they haven’t faced an aerial barrage quite like the Cardinals. Look for Kurt Warner to squeeze the pigskin into tight windows for Breaston against the Vikings loose Cover 2. Also keep in mind the youngster has averaged six receptions and 82.8 yards per game this year at home.
Fearless Forecast: 7 receptions, 87 receiving yards, 1 touchdown

Other Flame candidates: Tyler Thigpen (vs. SD), Kyle Orton (vs. NO), Warrick Dunn (at Atl), Maurice Morris (at StL), Jonathan Stewart (vs. Den), Davone Bess (vs. SF), Antonio Bryant (at Atl), Zach Miller (vs. NE)

Shocker Special of the Week
Deion Branch WR 26 33, 9
Lowdown: Don’t expect Deion to extend an olive Branch to gold clad players in St. Louis. Coming off a season-best 88-yard, two-TD effort last week versus former employer New England the oft-injured wideout is hoping to stave off critics by showing some consistency, “It has been a little crazy. To sum it up, it has been different for me … up and down. It has been a little strange, but I have been fighting through it (injuries) and staying positive.” Upon initial glance, Branch’s matchup with the Rams isn’t appealing. St. Louis has yielded just three 70-yard wideouts and three receiver touchdowns over the past five weeks, equal to the seventh-fewest fantasy points allowed. But because defenses have routinely built insurmountable early leads and attacked them almost exclusively on the ground, the Rams’ aerial returns are fallacious. With Seneca Wallace, who targeted Branch seven times last week, expected to again lead the huddle and the Hawks running game in a constant state of flux, Seattle’s nimble-footed receiver should notch first-class WR3 totals. Start him with confidence in 12-team and deeper formats.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 77 receiving yards, 1 touchdown

Other potential Shockers: Seneca Wallace (at StL), Tatum Bell (at Car), Darren Sproles (at KC), Ike Hilliard (at Atl), Malcom Floyd (at KC), Donald Lee (at Jac)

Week 15 Fantasy Lames
Matt Ryan QB 15 95, 43
Lowdown: Last week, Big Chill owners gleefully strutted down Bourbon Street buzzing over the rookie’s 27.1 fantasy point tally. However, against Tampa’s confounding Cover 2, his owners won’t be so contented. The Falcons top draft pick continues to convert skeptics who expected the youngster to experience numerous growing pains in his inaugural season. When confronted with challenging assignments, he’s executed. Whether it’s putting soft touch on a swing pass to Jerious Norwood or unleashing a deep bomb to Roddy White, he’s accurately nailed spots. Ryan has also shown poised leadership, rallying his teammates in critical situations. Steve Young told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday, Ryan’s meteoric ascension has been historic, “Frankly, what this guy is doing is unprecedented in the history of the game, and to be honest with you, I really can’t fathom it all … he’s like a bolt of lightning.” Despite his unfaltering strides, Ryan is someone to bench this week. Since Week 10, the Bucs have allowed just 185.3 passing yards per game, five passing touchdowns and picked QBs seven times, equal to the seventh-fewest fantasy points surrendered. The Big Chill posted his worst fantasy performance of the season Week 2 at Tampa. He was unable to find the end-zone, threw two interceptions, completed just 39.4 percent of his passes and finished with a meager 158 yards. Yes, he’s a completely different player than when he first encountered Tampa but Monte Kiffin’s Cover 2 can puzzle even the savviest of passers.
Fearless Forecast: 20-35, 211 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions
Adrian Peterson RB 20 100, 99
Lowdown: Unless locker room flasher Visanthe Shiancoe frightens off Darnell Dockett and Karlos Dansby by brandishing his Leif Ericson, Peterson will likely underwhelm in the desert. A variety of negative factors are working against the Purple Jesus this week. First, Arizona’s Jekyll and Hyde defense has played extraordinarily well against brand-name backs at home this season. In six games, they’ve held rushers to just 3.5 yards per carry, 75.8 rushing yards per game and two touchdowns. Second, Tarvaris Jackson is slated to start in place of back-fractured Gus Frerotte. Although he was 8-of-10 for 105 yards and a touchdown last week in Detroit, Tarvicious he is not. On the year, Jackson has completed just 55.7 percent of his passes. Count on Peterson confronting several eight-man fronts. Third, All-Day has recently suffered from a severe case of fumblitis. Last week, he uncharacteristically coughed up the pigskin three times. Finally, he’s playing in a region where water is a precious resource. Even for the Purple Jesus, finding water to walk on in an arid region is an impossible endeavor. It may seem ludicrous to entertain thoughts of benching Peterson, but if you’re loaded at RB, demoting him might make more sense than you think.
Fearless Forecast: 23 carries, 89 rushing yards, 1 reception, 5 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns
Brandon Jacobs/Derrick Ward RB 21 100, 70
Lowdown: It’s extremely rare that reanimated movie monsters are designated lames, but the Football Frankenstein is someone to run away from this week. Due to what team doctors are calling a slightly damaged PCL, Jacobs has yet to set foot on the practice field this week. The bruising back confidently stated earlier in the week he should be ready to go by Sunday, but backpedaled Thursday stating, “I’m just going day-by-day and hoping I get better day-by-day. I wish I could be out there, but we have a playoff run we need to make coming up. I want to be healthy for that as well.” If the doctors medically clear Jacobs to return to practice later this week it doesn’t guarantee he will suit up against division rival Dallas. In a similar situation earlier this season, Tom Coughlin deactivated his Clydesdale in Arizona, turning to Derrick Ward to shoulder the load. A similar ending seems likely this week. Whether Jacobs or Ward starts, neither is a recommended play. Dallas has played aggressively against the run over the past five weeks holding backs to 3.0 yards per carry, 89.3 total yards per game and two touchdowns, equal to the fewest fantasy points yielded. Sure, Jacobs steamrolled his way to 117 yards and a score against the ‘Boys Week 9 (Ward had 89 total yards and a TD), but, as of deadline time Thursday, he’s a very risky play.
Fearless Forecast: (Jacobs as starter) 15 carries, 68 rushing yards, 0 touchdowns, (Ward as starter) 19 carries, 71 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 22 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns
Lee Evans WR 28 99, 79
Lowdown: The Noise may be the distant albino cousin of Evans, but despite his blood allegiance, he cannot fully endorse the erratic receiver in any format. At first glance, Buffalo’s matchup with the Jets’ pliable secondary is very enticing. Over the past five weeks, New York has conceded four 70-yard games and five end-zone struts to wideouts, equal to the fourth-most fantasy points allowed. But most of the aerial damage accrued by receivers has been done opposite Darrelle Revis. Because Evans is likely to draw attention from the underrated corner, he could find it difficult generating separation. Plus, Trent Edwards has not practiced this week, which means Judas Priest Losman is likely to wow viewing audiences with a bevy of highly inaccurate passes. Based on Buffalo’s lousy offensive state and Evans’ inconsistencies, he’s completely untrustworthy even in a friendly matchup. Remember, Week 9 versus the Jets he caught only four passes for 41 yards. Devin Hester (vs. NO), Davone Bess (vs. SF) and Isaac Bruce (at Mia) are more appealing options.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 48 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns
Santonio Holmes WR 34 91, 42
Lowdown: “What up?” Holmes is taking on a new persona: blog-smith extraordinaire. Penning a somewhat insightful blog about Pittsburgh’s victory over Dallas, the assertive lady pursuer encouraged commenters to “hit him back” and “holla at cha boi.” Unfortunately, after this week’s likely stumble in Baltimore, the messages left for Holmes will have an unfriendly tone. Similar to Evans, the third-year wideout has been a bumpy ride of disappointment. Although he’s shown some consistency of late by tallying three-straight eight-plus fantasy point efforts, he’s largely been the epitome of boom or bust. Matched against a suffocating Ravens D that has yielded just three 60-yard performances and two scores to wideouts since Week 10, equal to the ninth-fewest fantasy points allowed, Holmes should swoon. Sure he totaled three catches for 61 yards and a touchdown Week 4 against Pittsburgh’s AFC North adversary, but the Ravens’ secondary, specifically Ed Reed, was not at full strength. Owners in all formats should consider more favorable options.
Fearless Forecast: 3 receptions, 42 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns

Other Lame candidates: Ben Roethlisberger (at Bal), Eli Manning (at Dal), Clinton Portis (at Cin), Marshawn Lynch (at NYJ), Ronnie Brown (vs. SF), Marvin Harrison (vs. Det), Derrick Mason (vs. Pit)

QBs: 15+ fantasy points
RBs: 10+ fantasy points
WRs: 7+ fantasy points
TEs: 6+ fantasy points
D/ST: 10+ fantasy points
*Scoring system:
4 PTs/Pass TD
1 PT/20 pass yards
6 PTs/Rush-Rec TD
1 PT/10 Rush-Rec yards
-1 PT/INT or FL
W: Matt Ryan = 25 Points
W: Pierre Thomas = 22 Points
W: Chester Taylor = 10 Points
W: Devin Hester = 8 Points
W: Matt Cassel = 18 Points
L: Amani Toomer = 2 Points
L: Brandon Jackson = 0 Points
Week 14 Flame Record: 5-2
Shocker Specials: 6-8
Season Total: 50-45 = 52.6%
W: Clinton Portis = 4 Points
W: Hines Ward = 0 Points
L: Donovan McNabb = 15 Points
L: Steven Jackson = 11 Points
L: Andre Johnson = 13 Points
Week 14 Lame Record: 2-3
Season Total: 36-33 = 52.2%

Each week one lucky aspiring fantasy prognosticator is chosen to go toe-to-toe against the Noise. If you want to be a guest “expert” submit your flames, lames (QB, 2 RB, 2 WR/TE) and shocker special (any position) along with a valid email address here no later than midnight central time on Tuesdays. Oh, and please, no long dissertations to justify your picks. All that’s required are your player selections and projections. Winners earn a league spot to compete against yours truly next season. Good luck!

Week 15 contestant: Brennon, Nantucket, Mass.

Seneca Wallace, Sea (at StL): 28-35, 220 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, 1 interception, 46 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown
Cedric Benson, Cin (vs. Was): 17 carries, 76 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 28 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Darren Sproles, SD (at KC): 6 carries, 43 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 67 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Steve Breaston, Ari (vs. Min): 6 receptions, 87 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Donald Lee, GB (at Jac): 4 receptions, 46 receiving yards, 1 touchdown

Shocker Special:
Daunte Culpepper, Det (at Ind): 17-32, 173 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interceptions, 26 rushing yards

Tony Romo, Dal (vs. NYG): 16-33, 120 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception
Chris Johnson, Ten (at Hou): 18 carries, 67 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 23 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns
Michael Turner, Atl (vs. TB): 17 carries, 80 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 18 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 fumble lost
Anquan Boldin, Ari (vs. Min): 4 receptions, 64 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns
Brandon Marshall, Den (at Car): 5 receptions, 48 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 fumble lost

Week 14 Results: Stefano from Sicily
Flames: 1-4, 20.0% (W – Dominic Rhodes; L – Sammy Morris, Michael Jenkins, Matt Jones, JJ Arrington (SS); Matt Hasselbeck—DNP)
Lames: 2-3, 40.0% (W – Brandon Jacobs, Santana Moss; L – Peyton Manning, Thomas Jones, Terrell Owens)

Noisers YTD - Flames: 41-42, 49.4%; Lames: 34-35, 49.3%; Shocker Special: 6-8, 42.9%

Challenge Winners: (Brian from Dallas, Noah from Kansas City, Bill from Indonesia, Zhen from Shanghai, Elliot from Fremont, Calif., Ryan from Ontario)

Wondering what happened to the feedback section? Check out Noisemakers.

Brad "The Big Noise" Evans has obsessed about his fantasy teams since the days when Jeff George had value. Yahoo! Sports fantasy’s resident baseball, football and bracketology expert, Brad also lends advice on the two-time Emmy-nominated webcast "Fantasy Football Live" each NFL Sunday.
Follow him on Twitter. Send Brad a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Thursday, Dec 11, 2008