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He may not boast the levitation skills of Criss Angel. He probably couldn't restore previously shredded objects into their original state as a means of motivation like Lou Holtz. And he never learned transfiguration techniques from Dumbledore.
It was on that extraordinary night the backup-turned-starter possessed the power of production, nearly saving my forgettable season.
For most of that year, my team was repeatedly dealt seven-deuce. Even with Shaun Alexander on my roster, each week it seemed my opponent's players ingested a cocktail of fantasy steroids, taking out their pimple-faced complexions and fits of rage on the Crunk Juiced Cowbells. Thankfully, with a 6-7 record, I squeaked into the Cap Boso postseason, destined to be the whipping boy of the top seed.
Then, in a bold, yet brilliant move, I decided to take a chance and started the Titans gunslinger over then-valued vet Aaron Brooks.
Volek had always been one of my favorite super backups and, with Steve McNair sidelined by injury, he was given an opportunity to showcase his talents on Monday Night Football. His opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs, ranked dead last in pass defense.
The prospects of profitable production had me salivating like a St. Bernard.
On Sunday, the same sorrowful story took shape. The competition tallied a hefty total. But, fortunately, my team landed a starry-eyed counterpunch, as Alexander ripped Minnesota for 112 yards and a touchdown.
By the end of Sunday's games, I had a razorblade-thin lead of 1.5 points heading into Monday with Volek left to play.
My opponent had Drew Bennett.
Derrick Mason never had a bigger fan.
In a first half that shaved years off my life, Volek threw three touchdowns of 48, 22 and 7 yards. To my utter amazement, all three scores were to Bennett.
Sadly, not even a late touchdown pass to Mason could overcome Bennett's legendary performance. His career-day of 12 receptions for 233 yards and three touchdowns trumped Volek's incredible 426-yard, four-touchdown explosion by a lousy two fantasy points.
Becoming a grill ornament on an 18-wheeler suddenly seemed attractive.
The Noise was devastated.
The moral of the story: When greenbacks are on the line always play your matchups. Any player, when put in a favorable position, has reasonable odds of pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
Unless, of course, he happens to wear a jersey splashed in aqua, coral and white.
Please David Copperfield, make the Dolphins disappear…
Here are this week's flames, lames and stars of video games:
*BNRK = Big Noise weekly position ranking
*Y!% = Percentage owned in Yahoo! leagues through 12/1
|Week 14 Fantasy Flames|
|Lowdown: Facing the bungling Bengals secondary, Bulger may total more fantasy points than the New York Knicks scored baskets against Boston. On Tuesday, Bulger, who suffered a concussion two weeks ago, passed a neuropsych examination with flying colors and expects to start in Cincinnati. Due to the Rams makeshift offensive line, the breakable veteran has been a walking infirmary this season. However, this week he should have abundant pocket time against a suspect Cincy pass rush that has registered just 18 sacks this season, the third-fewest in the NFL. The Bengals secondary is equally despondent, yielding eight multi-TD passers in 12 games. Corners Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall are completely outclassed by crafty receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, which will enhance Bulger's end-game totals. Unequivocally, Bulger has been a massive let down this year, but with reputations on the line, he'll deliver an illustrious performance.|
|Fearless Forecast: 278 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception,|
|Lowdown: It's Fred. Mr. Jackson if you're nasty. The former Division III standout at Coe College was phenomenal last week in his first NFL start, ripping the Redskins for 151 total yards (5.0 YPC), the second-most yards by a Bills back this season. Local reports on Wednesday noted that flashy rookie Marshawn Lynch, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury since Week 11, returned to full practice, increasing his chances of suiting up this week. However, as of print time, Dick Jauron had not definitively said Lynch or Jackson would start, but a time-share seems likely. If the new "FredEx" totes the heavy side of the backfield split, he's a trustworthy flex play in 12-team leagues. The Fish have floundered against the run yielding 145.8 total yards per game and five rushing touchdowns – equal to the sixth-most fantasy points – to plowshares since Week 10. Bills offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild is a conservative play caller who views his backs as dual threats. Look for Jackson to again be a remunerative asset as a dump-off receiver. Of course, disregard this recommendation if Lynch starts.|
|Fearless Forecast (Heavy side of time-share): 13 carries, 65 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 41 receiving yards, 1 touchdown|
|Lowdown: Taylor is no longer fragile – he's titanium strong. Unbeknown to many novice owners, Taylor has run with youthful exuberance in his past three games, averaging an eye-popping 6.1 yards per carry and 97.7 yards per game. Right tackle Tony Pashos and his fellow portly Jags have opened up mammoth holes for Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew to rocket through. Jack Del Rio has remained committed to a 60-40 timeshare and will stick with the status quo this week against Carolina. The Panthers defensive line has underachieved this year largely due to sloppy tackling. However, over their past five games they've stiffened, surrendering a lowly 84.6 rushing yards per game and two ground scores, equal to the eighth-fewest fantasy points to backs. Still, this is an offense predicated on ball control. Anticipate Taylor earning another 15-20 touches en route to his third straight 100-yard game. Start him with confidence in the flex position in all 12-team leagues.|
|Fearless Forecast: 15 carries, 101 rushing yards, 1 reception, 11 receiving yards, 1 touchdown|
|Lowdown: White is the only Falcon getting crunk in Hotlanta. Quietly, in his past two contests, White has performed spectacularly, totaling a league-leading 16 receptions, 250 yards and two touchdowns. Look for him to add another 100-plus yards to that total. The Saints' disorderly defense has yielded the second-most yards to wideouts since Week 9 and eight 100-yard receivers in 12 games. After an effective second half performance last week in St. Louis, Chris Redman, who took his first NFL snap since 2003, is expected to start. The journeyman quarterback targeted White nine times in the fourth quarter alone last week. Because pass protection has confounded Atlanta, Redman will receive a hefty diet of blitzes this week. To counteract the pressure, look for Redman to dismantle 'Nawlins with numerous White slants and crosses. The third-year wideout torched the Saints for eight receptions, 110 yards and a touchdown back in Week 7.|
|Fearless Forecast: 8 receptions, 122 yards, 1 touchdown|
|Lowdown: Furrey, who might live in a van down by the river (see mugshot), won't need a motivational speech from Matt Foley to generate fruitful fantasy numbers. Roy Williams' season-ending PCL injury vaults the forgotten Furrey into a featured role. A feisty competitor, Furrey is a crafty wideout who outwits defenders with his heady route-running skills. Matched against a Dallas secondary that has surrendered a meager three 70-yard receivers and the eleventh-fewest fantasy points to wideouts since Week 9, Furrey will rack ample yards as Jon Kitna's greaseman. Considering the disheveled state of the Lions' offensive line, Kitna will be pressured incessantly by the speedy Cowboys pass rush. This will make Furrey, and short-field companions Shaun McDonald and Kevin Jones, useful bailout options. Furrey will net double-digit targets for the first time this year, especially with the Lions playing from behind. Have faith in him as a No. 3 in all PPR-friendly formats.|
|Fearless Forecast: 8 receptions, 76 yards, 1 touchdown|
|Shocker Special of the Week|
|Lowdown: Smith, upset over Missouri's BCS snub, will take out his frustrations on the soft-barking Browns defense. Jerricho Cotchery's season-ending finger injury instantly benefits the unrefined Smith. In his first start opposite Laveranues Coles last week, Smith caught one pass for 19 yards and a touchdown. Kellen Clemens showed marked improvement last week, connecting with eight different receivers while completing a respectable 62.5 percent of his passes. This week, given Smith's skyward 6-foot-2 frame, his size advantage will be the apple of Clemens' eye near the goal-line. The youthful Browns secondary has yielded fourteen 60-plus yard receivers this season and the fifth-most fantasy points to wideouts since Week 9. Undeniably, Smith has terrific odds of tallying his second double-digit target game this year – especially with Coles, who practiced sparingly on Wednesday, still hobbled by a sore ankle. Risk takers in 14-team and deeper leagues seeking a No. 3 wideout should roll the dice.|
|Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 44 yards, 1 touchdown|
|Week 14 Fantasy Lames|
|Lowdown: Tears of sorrow will stream down Brenda Warner's face watching her husband succumb to relentless Hawks pressure. Owners who claimed Warner off waivers earlier this year have been rewarded with a top-10 quarterback. Despite a plethora of turnovers, the wily veteran has orchestrated the Cards' spread offense superbly, averaging 2.3 air-strikes and 280.8 yards per game since Week 10. Warner, likely without the services of Anquan Boldin and possibly Larry Fitzgerald this week, will be hindered by a Seahawks defense that has yielded one multi-TD passer in 12 games. Because Warner is a stone statue in the pocket the Seattle front line will have little difficulty rattling his cage. Lofa Tatupu, coming off an unforgettable three-pick performance in Philly, will be a nymphomaniac in a brothel. Bench the Sultan of Stubble in all 12-team leagues.|
|Fearless Forecast: 197 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, 2 interceptions|
|Lowdown: Fearful owners matched against Addai might submit to Brian Billick's smooching advancements come Monday morning. Remarkably, Addai's performance has plummeted in recent weeks. In his past four games, the popular first-round choice has averaged an underachieving 3.2 yards per carry and 59.8 yards per game. Evident in the Ravens nearly historic takedown of New England in Week 13, Baltimore's defense plays with unmitigated ferocity at home. In six games at M&T, Ray Lewis and company have held rushers to 3.2 yards per carry and 91.6 rushing yards per game. Led by hole-plunger Haloti Ngata, the Ravens have a host of man-eaters in the trenches who will turn Addai into a bag of Kibbles n’ Bits. Sure, the last time Addai appeared in this space he was kind enough to reward those who ignored my idiotic recommendation with a TD hat trick. However, this week, the trick will be on those who don't heed the warning.|
|Fearless Forecast: 20 carries, 64 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 18 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns|
|Lowdown: Fargas will emanate a Limburger cheese fragrance in frigid Green Bay. Since supplanting LaMont Jordan as the full-time carrier, Fargas has been a consistent top-10 back in standard formats, averaging 126.6 total yards per game and scoring three times. Certainly, Lane Kiffin will attempt to thwart Brett Farve with Fargas' legs, but given the general inconsistencies of the Oakland pass offense, Green Bay will be able to stymie Huggy Bear Jr. In six games at Lambeau, the Cheeseheads have conceded a menial one touchdown, 3.5 yards per carry and 88 rushing yards per game to tugboats. Look for Green Bay defensive coordinator Bob Sanders to overload the box to encourage the Raiders to throw. Owners with more suitable options (e.g. Earnest Graham at Hou, Kolby Smith at Den and Adrian Peterson at Was) may want to avoid the risk.|
|Fearless Forecast: 22 carries, 68 rushing yards, 3 reception, 16 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns|
|Lowdown: Eli Manning's deplorable play and Burress' physical limitations will reinvigorate an Eagles defense that has been embarrassed by the pass. Based on Burress' recent string of fruitless efforts, the ankle and knee injuries he's been plagued by are wreaking havoc on his ability to separate from defenders. Burress' lack of explosion coupled with Manning's maladroitness will lead the talented wideout to disappointing numbers against an Eagles defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to receivers since Week 9. A significantly healthier Burress tallied four catches for 24 yards and a score in Week 4 versus Philadelphia, but with only one touchdown in his past seven games, finding paydirt will be a monumental task. The Giants instituted a ground-centered attack versus the Eagles in Week 4 compiling just two fewer rushing than passing attempts. Contingent on Brandon Jacobs’ availability – he practiced sparingly on Wednesday – Tom Coughlin will likely again implement a conservative approach.|
|Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 38 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns|
|Lowdown: In the thin Mile High air, Bowe will be asphyxiated by an improving Broncos secondary. Punished by the pass for much of the season, Champ Bailey and his cohorts have tightened since Week 11, not allowing a receiver to reach 70 yards. In his previous clash with Denver in Week 10, Bowe ripped the Broncos for nine catches and 105 yards. Most of those yards were with bazooka-armed Brodie Croyle at the helm, not Damon Huard. As of Wednesday, Croyle, who is listed as questionable, had yet to show any ill-effects of a lingering back injury in practice. If Huard, who is nursing a hand injury, starts, Bowe's "Lame" chances increase tenfold. Even if Croyle goes, given the hostile environment and Denver's difficulties in stopping the run, this will be the Kolby Smith, not the Bowe, show. Only keep the gifted rookie active in deeper PPR-scoring leagues.|
|Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 58 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns|
Upset you don't have a forum to express your disdain for drafting Carnell Williams? Do you question why on earth you're not a fantasy expert? This is the place for you to vent your thoughts, tirades and frustrations. Can you bring the noise?
The haters, those are the people that never listen to your columns, yet seem to get seemingly irate at your pop culture references simply because they wish they had thought of them first. I really have to give it to you Brad, you have carried a fantasy football amateur to a fantasy football god with all of your excellent advice. If you ever made it here to Germany and saw how Hasselhoff-like your reputation has gotten over here, you might as well sign the divorce papers before you get on the plane. Thanks for everything.
Jesten, Ramstein, Germany
Noise: I guess this means 25 years from now I'll get completely rocked off my ass on vodka-cranberry, strip off my shirt and edaciously consume a Wendy's hamburger off the floor of a Vegas hotel room. Never underestimate the hangover recovery power of a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger.
The kind citizens of Germany better be thankful I can't carry a note. Then again, Hasselhoff’s voice is far from angelic. It's baffling that he's bigger than sauerkraut in Deutschland.
Dearest Brad, The horse's ass, not head, that you found on your pillow (covered in hair from your balding head) Friday morning comes courtesy of the guy that you totally hosed with your advice to bench Ryan Grant. Normally I don't listen to "experts" like you, but I enjoy your columns and witty pop culture references. That said, Grant's 2 TD performance made me feel like a Valley wrestler on the receiving end of an A.C. Slater ass-whooping, and I have you to thank for that. You are truly the king of all morons, and thanks to you, my wallet will soon be the next spokesperson for Nutri-System … nice and slim. For shame sir; I fart in your general direction.
Brian, Fairfax, VA
Noise: And for misfiring so miserably I felt like Horseshack on the receiving end of a Screech Powers right-hand jab …
Not in a million years would I have foreseen Grant, with Brett Favre standing on the sidelines for most of the game, plow his way for 94 yards and two scores in Dallas. Up until Week 13, the Boys had not surrendered a 90-yard rusher since Week 16 of last season. And his 64-yard scoring sprint was just the third 20-plus yard run they've allowed this season. Truly an anomalous performance.
"Plowshares have averaged just 3.2 yards per carry and no single rusher has eclipsed 90 yards against the Boys at home this season. Over their past five contests, Dallas has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to backs, conceding just 66.5 rushing yards per game." That was your comment on Grant versus Dallas. Remember how Minnesota handled RBs before the last game versus Green Bay? As I remember, MN average was about 60 YPG. I believe Grant got 100+ YDs that game. I'm not saying Grant will roll on Dallas in similar manner, but your "almost a lock" comments could come back to bite you.
Dan, Charleston, IL
Noise: Dan was one of the rare few who lambasted me for designating Grant a "Lame" prior to kickoff. Dan, mad props to you.
On another note, if you're a Grant owner who survived the regular season and advanced to the fantasy playoffs, get ready to foster inappropriate feelings in your jungle regions. As detailed in the "Go Green" chapter of the Noise three weeks ago, Grant has arguably the most generous fantasy playoff schedule of any back in the league. Including the mother of all matchups against the rancid Raiders this week, Grant faces four defenses (Oak, at StL, at Chi and Det) that combined have yielded an average of 159.8 total yards and 1.2 touchdowns per game to plowshares. With Favre painting the field like Van Gogh and the Packers zone-blocking scheme clicking, not even a difficult matchup in St. Louis – they've yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this season – will slow down the Green Bay Godzilla. Undoubtedly, he'll be a cornerstone on many championship rosters.
Your logic for saying that Gates is no longer the "Tiger Woods" of his position makes no sense at all. While guys like Witten and Winslow may be approaching Gates' fantasy points per game average this year, they haven't even come close to Gates' numbers in the past. Those two combined for all of 4 touchdowns last year, while Gates is on his way to a 4th straight 900-plus yard and nine-plus touchdown season. The reason why he is still the Tiger of his position is because you can count on his consistency – that is the mark of a truly great player. For four years now, every other team knows that the Chargers are throwing the ball to him on third down and in the red zone, yet he still can't be stopped. Many different golfers have beaten Tiger in majors over the years, so does that mean he shouldn't be considered the most dominant golfer of this era? No. In three years if Witten and Winslow are still putting up these numbers, then go ahead and write this article. But by then we'll all likely be focusing on Gates' pursuit of the all-time tight end TD record.
Brian, Berkley, CA
I appreciate your attempts to find significance in the tight end statistics that you culled, but I fail to see that you proved your point that Antonio Gates should no longer be regarded as the 'Zeus' of TE's. You spent most of the article convincing us that TE's are becoming more valuable as a commodity, and deeper as a field. But you've done little to show that Gates has slipped in comparison to that field – that he's lost any of his dominance. You would seem to say that he has more peers, but in reality he has more immediate underlings. You could just as easily write an article urging owners to break the mold next year and draft Gates as a first-rounder in some formats, and also treat the question of whether Kellen Winslow will be a fair enough proxy to Gates to warrant taking in the second round. It seems to me that most experts are looking for a chink in Gates' armor, and have been doing so for a couple of years.
Jeff, Vail, CO
Noise: Brian and Jeff make excellent, valid counterarguments to my claim that Gates is facing unprecedented heat from challengers this season. However, I think they're missing the point. Nowhere in last week's "Noise" did I state that Gates' dominance has subsided. In fact, the chart, and the subsequent notes under it, reinforced the idea that he's still the autocratic ruler of tight ends. All I was trying to convey was that he's no longer the "standalone" Zeus of his position, and that the position as a whole has grown more dependable based on the massive surge of points scored by guys like Winslow, Witten, Chris Cooley, Dallas Clark and Heath Miller. Sure, Gates is still averaging a point per week more in standard leagues than second-placed Winslow, but the pool of potential dethroners has grown. And with young quarterbacks like Anderson, Romo, Campbell and Roethlisberger throwing to them, their success this season is not an aberration.
As seen last week with Gates' horrific one-catch for minus-1 yard day, game-to-game inconsistency does still exist with tight ends. But, as Brian mentioned, consistency on a perennial basis definitely makes Gates an attractive early round draft pick next season. Is he worthy of a first rounder? Absolutely not – even in PPR leagues. But he deserves to be pondered long and hard as a mid-to-late second rounder. Given the throng of injuries to running backs this year, Gates, who has only missed two games since '04, will certainly attract a premium because he's a safe pick. And so will Winslow, Witten, Cooley, etc.
One year wonders shouldn't be put into the same category as Gates. &hellip Look at Witten's stats last year, Horrible!! Until those guys put up the stats in consecutive seasons they are nowhere near the player Gates has become.
Todd, Gardena, CA
Noise: Evidently Todd regularly skipped his high school history class to smoke doobs behind the cafeteria dumpster.
Witten is hardly the "Gerardo" of tight ends. Yes, he had a horrendous time finding the end zone last season, but from 2004-2006 he averaged 72 receptions, 830 yards and four touchdowns per year. With last year and his rookie campaign the exceptions; Witten has been a borderline top-five tight end.
Next year will be equally as profitable as this season. Remember, this is only Tony Romo's first full season as the starter and based on the unbreakable bond he has with Witten, who has averaged more targets per game (8.1) than Gates (7.4), another "Rico Suave" season is in store for the 25 year-old. Barring injury, Witten will be one of the steadiest performers at his position over the next 5-7 years. Bank on it.
You're a very insecure person, and I'm not so sure someone with your character should be giving advice to those who play fantasy football for large amounts of money. Also, you may be gay, every week you are comparing players to your closet fantasies, AKA Tom Brady to Captain Planet. I believe enough people have commented that you just have garbage humor, but you still can't get the hint. You are quite honestly the most annoying person I have ever had to bear listening to.
Matt, Tauton, MA
Noise: Matt, you’re absolutely right. I'm a very happy person. I've convinced a multi-billion dollar corporation to give me money in exchange for partially accurate fantasy advice. Every morning when my hand slaps the alarm clock, I want to pinch myself.
Little known secret about the Noise: My ultimate fantasy involves me locked in a penthouse suite with Giselle Bundchen, Heidi Klum, a cardboard cutout of Brandon Jacobs and an unlimited supply of Cristal and Cool Whip. If only I had the GQ looks of Tom Brady and the soulful voice of Seal my fantasy could become reality.
SILENCE THE NOISE CHALLENGE
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 and shocker special via the link in the column footer 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. Good luck!
Week 14 contestant: Dave from Omaha, NE
Jeff Garcia, TB (at Hou): 235 passing yards, 2 TDs
Shaun Alexander, Sea (vs. Ari): 21 carries, 89 rushing yards, TD
Rudi Johnson, Cin (vs. StL): 20 carries, 79 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 15 receiving yards, TD
Patrick Crayton, Dal (at Det): 6 receptions, 69 yards, TD
Arnaz Battle, SF (vs. Min): 5 receptions, 58 yards, TD
Marcedes Lewis, Jac (vs. Car): 4 receptions, 41 yards, TD
Brett Favre, GB (vs. Oak): 227 passing yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs
Willie Parker, Pit (at NE): 18 carries, 77 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 10 receiving yards, 0 TD
Adrian Peterson, Chi (at Was): 16 carries, 62 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 19 receiving yards, 0 TD
Wes Welker, NE (vs. Pit): 4 receptions, 47 yards, 0 TD
Donald Driver, GB (vs. Oak): 3 receptions, 32 yards, 0 TD
Week 13 Results: Tom from Belmont, OH
Flames: 3-3, 50% (W – Vince Young, Earnest Graham, Leonard Pope (Shocker Special); L – Jesse Chatman, Lee Evans, Nate Washington)
Lames: 2-3, 40% (W – Rudi Johnson, Brandon Marshall; L – Jon Kitna, Willis McGahee, Marques Colston)
Noisers YTD: Flames: 27-33, 45.0%; Lames: 22-28, 44.0%, Shocker Specials: 3-7