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 starting September 7.
He may not possess the improvised resourcefulness of Jack Sparrow. He may not outwardly despise flying prepubescent boys in pajamas like a certain Hook. And he may not bread hush puppies with the same savory ingredients of fast food purveyor Long John Silver.
"Pirates of the Caribbean" voodoo temptress Calypso must be related to CJ
It's only apropos with International Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19) around the corner and in the same week Johnson's alma mater, East Carolina, plundered its second top-twenty opponent in consecutive weeks (West Virginia), that the former Pirates standout carved up a Jaguars defense for 129 total yards (6.2 YPC) and a receiving touchdown in his regular season debut. In the franchise's history, only icon Earl Campbell finished with more total yards in his first NFL appearance (137 in 1978).
Johnson is the Usain Bolt of this year's bumper crop of rookie rushers. The fleet-footed 22-year-old may be small in stature (5-foot-11, 197-pounds), but when given generous space to work with he's nearly impossible to wrangle. His 4.24-forty jets, tacky fingers, patience and laser vision are jaw-dropping attributes that will be displayed regularly on highlight reels this season.
Critics contend he's more flash than bash and his slight of build and history of nicks labels him an injury risk. Only the latter is a fair assertion. Johnson ran fearless against an aggressive Jaguars defense, disproving questions about his shy physicality. However, when he succumbed to leg cramps late in the fourth quarter, it was a reminder that durability remains a concern.
Obviously, splitting time with LenDale White is critical to the youngster's health and thus his sustainable fantasy value. Thankfully Jeff Fisher isn't obtuse. The Titans head coach plans to keep his cherished runner wrapped in plastic pack. Per the Clarksville Leaf Chronicle:
"We experimented there with him during the preseason, but you can see what he's capable of doing. He's very explosive, he's got great speed and it's a good one-two punch. We'll keep him (Johnson) healthy and he's going to be a great combination."
Initially, Fisher wanted to limit Johnson's touches to 10-15 per contest, eventually building his workload to an even 50-50 split with White. But after Week 1, it's apparent a balanced platoon is already in place. However, it's very likely the scales will occasionally tilt one direction or another based upon the opponent. Captain Quick is rapidly developing into the true commander of the Titans ship, but White, the Mr. Smee of Tennessee, remains an ideal first mate given his complementary bulldozing style.
Regardless if Johnson sees 15 or 20 touches per game, he will electrify the virtual masses. Tennessee's run-centered philosophy combined with its unalterable offensive line will yield a bountiful booty of statistical riches.
Johnson confidently expressed his desire to hoist ROY hardware at the beginning of the season. And unless the injury imp bites or White accidentally mistakes him for a slab of bacon, he should reach that milestone. With 200-225 carries he could be equally as valuable as Earnest Graham, Thomas Jones and Brandon Jacobs, especially in PPR formats. If that occurs, Johnson, who was drafted at pick 90.6 on average behind such unexciting contributors as Julius Jones, Chris Perry and Fred Taylor per Mock Draft Central, will arguably be the biggest draft-day steal.
Swapped straight up for Kevin Smith, Hines Ward, Calvin Johnson and Jeremy Shockey this week in Y! Plus leagues, he's someone to inquire about immediately before the price tag soars. Keep in mind the Titans face three defenses in Weeks 13-15 (at Detroit, Cleveland and at Houston) that surrendered a combined average of 222.7 rushing yards and nine total scores to plowshares last Sunday.
As for this week, expect Johnson to bear a treasure trove of fantasy goodness. The Titans face a Cincinnati defense that conceded 229 rushing yards and two scores to a potentially woeful Baltimore club in Week 1. Offensive tackle Michael Roos and company should pound Marvin Lewis' kitten 4-3 base into submission. Johnson, who said he's gunning for 100 yards this week, should be considered a strong RB2 in 12-team leagues.
Week 2 Fearless Forecast: 16 carries, 103 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 28 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
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 in Yahoo! leagues
|Week 2 Fantasy Flames|
|Lowdown: The 500-pound gorilla on A-Rod's back is now a 227.27-kilogram orangutan. Rodgers used his mythical bearded powers to complete nearly 82 percent of his passes for 178 yards and a score in his starting debut. His 35 rushing yards and one end-zone plunge were also keys to his fantasy success. As the Noise preached repeatedly during the preseason, Rodgers is comfortable, cool, intelligent and highly accurate, talents which will surely make Matt Millen sob in Week 2. The Lions yielded 161 passing yards on just nine Matt Ryan completions (17.8 YDs/comp) last week. Given Rodgers' ability to judiciously spread the ball and Detroit's ineptness in coverage, look for him to manage the game with more ferocity. Top-five QB numbers are in the forecast.|
|Fearless Forecast: 21-32, 253 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 26 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns|
|Lowdown: Through the cascade of boos, smeared face paint and bloodshed in the stands, Fargas was the lone silver lining Monday night in Oakland. Toting the heavy end of the 60-40 timeshare with Darren McFadden, the former Trojan averaged 5.4 YPC and totaled 109 yards versus Denver. Matched against a KC defense that yielded 4.7 YPC, 147 total yards and a TD to New England tugboats last week, Fargas will be the central focus of Lane Kiffin's ball control scheme. The Chiefs D-line occasionally plays out of position, a problem they were burdened incessantly with last year. Look for the Raiders underrated frontline to outmaneuver and outmuscle KC in the trenches. McFadden will again net roughly 10-15 touches, but count on the incumbent to eclipse 20-plus carries at Arrowhead. Yes, Oakland's passing attack is an embarrassment, but the one thing they excel at is running the football. Start Fargas as a No. 2 in all 12-team leagues.|
|Fearless Forecast: 21 carries, 103 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 12 receiving yards, 1 touchdown|
|Lowdown: Against Washington's marshmallow-soft interior, Thomas will be a heated metal skewer. Overshadowed by Mr. Kim Kardashian's (Reggie Bush's) booty-slapping performance against the Bucs last week, the second-year freight train from Illinois chugged his way to 52 yards on just 10 carries, an effort that greatly impressed teammate Drew Brees. Per the New Orleans Times Picayune, "Pierre's grown a lot from last year to this year. I think we saw that kind of talent in Pierre (in 2007), but it takes some time and some opportunity with experience. I think he's going to be a guy who can really contribute for us as the year goes on." With All-Pro wideout Marques Colston sidelined and Deuce McAllister's role uncertain, Thomas' between-the-tackles brawn and versatility will be heavily utilized versus a Redskins defense that surrendered 5.1 YPC and 188 total yards to Giants rushers Week 1. Shockingly still available in over two-thirds of Y! leagues, Thomas is a strong RB2 or flex option in all 12-team formats.|
|Fearless Forecast: 17 carries, 81 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 24 receiving yards, 1 touchdown|
|Lowdown: As Gonzalez's alma mater, Ohio State, attempts to reestablish its cadence in a monumental cross-country encounter with USC Saturday, his current team, Indianapolis, hopes to rediscover its identity this weekend, too. Targeted eight times Week 1 versus Chicago, A-Gon snagged an unexciting five passes for 48 yards. Despite numerous miscommunications with Peyton Manning last week, he should be featured prominently against a Minnesota defense that struggles to defend the pass. Because Gonzalez is an exceptional route runner, he should find several exploitable voids underneath Leslie Frazier's loose Cover 2. Clearly he's the third option, but with Dallas Clark very iffy, he should be targeted a minimum of 10-12 times. Owners in traditional, and particularly PPR-friendly formats, should start the slick Indy receiver as a No. 3.|
|Fearless Forecast: 8 receptions, 81 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns|
|Lowdown: Jones has the itchy nose and hopefully soon the numbers of former Jags standout Jimmy Smith. Surely a huge Cream fan, the uber-athletic former college quarterback might finally be tapping into his brimming reservoir of potential. Running smoother routes and exuding a more fearless attitude in slant patterns, the lanky receiver caught six passes for 80 yards last week versus Tennessee. Jones has worked closely with 16-year NFL vet Ricky Proehl since the start of camp. Learning various tips from his crafty coach, he's learned to gain more separation by changing speeds and cutting more sharply. Those acquired skills should help him generate appreciable numbers against a Bills secondary that has surrendered 58 catches of 20-plus yards since Week 1 last year, the most in the NFL. Anticipate another double-digit target day for the fourth-year wideout. Activate him as a No. 3 in all 12-team leagues.|
|Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 94 receiving yards, 1 touchdown|
|Shocker Special of the Week|
|Lowdown: Carlson, who posted the highest Wonderlic score of any draft candidate this past spring, is Lewis Skolnick and "The Ogre" from "Revenge of the Nerds" rolled into one. With Nate Burleson, Deion Branch and Bobby Engram crippled, Carlson, who snagged four passes for 52 yards at Buffalo last week, is currently Matt Hasselbeck's most trustworthy target. His combination of route-running savvy and towering physical size (6-foot-5, 251-pounds) should lead to a host of exploitable mismatches with 49ers linebackers between the hashmarks. San Fran can be overaggressive at times in their pursuit of the quarterback, which could make Carlson a reliable safety valve for Hasselbeck. Mike Holmgren believes the youngster is poised to be a "good player in the league for a long time." Given the decrepit state of the Hawks receiving corps, this week the rookie lives up to Holmgren's glowing declaration.|
|Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 68 receiving yards, 1 touchdown|
|Week 2 Fantasy Lames|
|Lowdown: After an abysmal start, Palmer, who doesn't think highly of Jim Tressel's sweater vests, isn't someone to gamble on in Week 2. Baltimore humiliated the Bengals air attack last week, holding the popular tier one quarterback to a Grossman-esque nine completions (32.5 C%) for 94 yards and an interception, the worst full-game fantasy output in his five-year career. The Ravens dominated the line of scrimmage and bewildered Palmer with a variety of defensive shifts. Expect the sickened signal caller to see similar schemes this week against Tennessee. Coming off a seven-sack performance against David Garrard, the Titans plan to pressure Palmer with similar zeal. Considering the Bengals' ground game is in shambles, Keith Bulluck and company will be able to center their attack on deflating Cincy's aerial game, unfortunate news for Palmer's rebound chances. Kurt Warner (vs. Mia), Matt Cassel (at NYJ) and Jon Kitna (vs. GB) are more favorable options this week.|
|Fearless Forecast: 18-32, 211 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions|
|Lowdown: Whenever Dallas' Queen Jinxing Machine (Jessica Simpson) spews nonsense, inevitably everyone with a starred helmet is negatively affected. As expected, the Barbarian conquered Cleveland last week, compiling 101 total yards and two scores. However, his spectacular showing came at a minor physical cost. Post-game medical examinations reveled he suffered bruised ribs. Although he participated in practice Thursday without restriction, Wade Philips could divide touches with super rookie Felix Jones more evenly this week. Even if Philips allows Barber to tote his normal workload, the pugnacious plowshare could underachieve. Last year in two contests against the Eagles, he averaged a mere 3.8 YPC, 68 total yards per game and scored one touchdown. Philadelphia, coming off a game in which it limited Steven Jackson to 2.9 YPC Week 1, boasts an athletic, blitz-happy defense with enough quickness to match Dallas' horses up front. Obviously, it's moronic to bench Barber in 12-team leagues, but don't be surprised if he frustrates.|
|Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 52 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 18 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns|
|Lowdown: Even if Lewis traversed the grassy terrain of Cleveland Browns Stadium in a bulletproof armored vehicle, he would still have difficulties penetrating Steely McBeam. In two games against the Steelers last year, Lewis was stuffed. The hard-charging bull averaged just 2.6 yards per carry and 35 yards per game in those contests. Dick LeBeau's stalwart 3-4 front, which held Houston RBs under four yards per carry last week, should remain unbendable against a Browns O-line that floundered versus Dallas. Lewis told the Dayton Daily News the Browns will "have to bring (their) hard hats" to outplay their AFC North rival. But because Pittsburgh is so familiar with the 29-year-old's tendencies, his hard hat will be misplaced. LenDale White (at Cin), Willis McGahee (at Hou) and Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams (at Ari) are more useful plays.|
|Fearless Forecast: 18 carries, 68 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 12 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns|
|Lowdown: Anytime your quarterback (Marc Bulger) expresses to the media that he wants to prove "we're not that bad," team-wide confidence is destined to soar. The Rams offense is a train-wreck, which has entombed Holt's fantasy value in the mangled mess. Embarrassed by the sparkling play of Philadelphia cover duo Sheldon Brown and Asante Samuel last week, Holt was limited to a measly one catch for nine yards. Al Saunders' ridiculously complicated system combined with St. Louis' suspect offensive line will once again fold under defensive pressure. The Giants are sack machines who will constantly smell Rams blood in the water. Bulger's projected limited time in the pocket and the absence of Drew Bennett will make it hard-pressed for Holt to produce appreciable Week 2 totals. He'll be blanketed by double-teams all day long. Sure, St. Louis could fall behind quickly leading to more air opportunities, but this unit is psychologically disheveled right now. Bench Holt for more suitable options (e.g. Eddie Royal vs. SD, Joey Galloway vs. Atl and Donald Driver at Det).|
|Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 49 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns|
|Lowdown: If Calvin Johnson is "Megatron," Williams is R2-D2. Well, at least against the Packers. Smothered by Al Harris in his only clash with Detroit's NFC North foe last season, Big Roy caught just three passes for 32 yards. The 33-year-old Harris was picked on repeatedly by Tarvaris Jackson Monday Night (seven targets) but limited assignment Bernard Berrian to three catches for 39 yards. The Lions could employ similar tactics, but given his history against Williams and the receiver's occasional Houdini acts, he should hold Detroit's true No. 2 in check. As the Packers proved against Minnesota, their aging secondary still excels in man-to-man press coverage. Johnson is a viable WR2 this week, but Williams is bound to disappoint.|
|Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 39 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns|
Do you ever 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?
Brad I love your stuff. At first it sounds absurd at times, but like a bottle of wine it gets better as the explanation continues. Keep it up!– John, Longwood, Fla.
Noise: The Misses says the same thing when the Noise tries to convince her of his bedroom prowess.
Probabilistically damn right! B-Rad, I'm a fantasy fanatic and an amateur comedian who has been reading your column for a couple of years now. Sometimes your quips give me a chuckle, and sometimes they make me think that you should never be allowed to leave your home without a helmet and a drool straw. This time you finally hit dynamite with a sledgehammer. Your comment about Mike from Wisconsin and his World of Warcraft addiction had me cranking out laughs like a cackle factory.– Sam, Denver, Col.
I can't believe you jinxed Michael Turner by writing how great he is going to be this year. You are never right about anything. I know you think you are entertaining but you come off like a total idiot. Also, before you do your fantasy TV bits, please check your mic level before you blow out someone else's eardrum.– John, Oakland, Calif.
Noise: Real fantasy numbskulls focus their attention on the obvious or fill columns with irrelevant rants about resurrected 90s nighttime soap operas. Yes, the Noise has tallied some fantastic misses (e.g. DeAngelo Williams '06, Rich Hill and Billy Butler), but saying that I'm "never right about anything" is just ignorant. Comparing Funston's likeness to Count Chocula was definitely a check in the Noise's column.
As for the volume issue, recall that the Noise suffers from Voice Modulation Syndrome. For those unfamiliar with the affliction, it's extremely difficult for me to control the volume of my voice. Despite my deficiency, it would be wise if you'd listen. Then again, maybe you did. Turner's 220 rushing yards and two scores against Detroit made gleeful Noise screams carry from coast-to-coast.
Way to label Eddie Royal a strong pick-up after he has a breakout week. I thought your job, as an 'expert', was to identify these breakout players before their breakout. Same can be said for Dante Rosario. Do you pay attention during preseason, or just sit around pet your mates while you steal each others cheat sheets? Hysterical you truly are. – Paul, Boulder, Col.
Noise: Mate petting may be a pastime before, during and after my local draft party, but ignoring standout preseason performances isn't. An in-depth analysis of Royal's potential impact was penned and posted by yours truly in our Roto Arcade blog August 21. Paul, hysterical your rebuttal skills truly are.
Good thing Marshawn is earning $375 K this yearâ€¦
Noise: If you think Jones' transformation is bad, take a gander at Marshawn Lynch's mug shot. Lynch claims he operates in one gear only, "beast mode." Based on his stock photo, he answers the age-old question: What would the offspring of Lando Calrissian and Vincent from the 80s TV show "Beauty and Beast" look like if they mated?
FYI, Jones is no longer Caucasian, but an oblong-shaped orange "C."
Do you think the Madden Curse bounced off of Favre's iron man super powers and nailed Brady right in his knee? Brady goes down and, why am I saying this, the No. 1 called free agent is Chris Simms? These are the signs of the apocalypse.– Charles, Camp Lejeune, NC
Noise: Charles, little unknown secret about Brett Favre: he's actually God. Well, at least to Tony Kornheiser. (If you took a drink every time he said "Favre" Monday night, any man, even someone the size of Steve Hutchinson, would've been hammered by the start of the second quarter). So you know, Favre is impervious to witchcraft, vampire attacks, uncomfortable jeans, sensitive teeth, heartburn and, of course, curses.
The apocalypse isn't here, yet. But if Cincinnati's Chris Henry miraculously avoids the taser over the next three weeks, then Armageddon will indeed be upon us.
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 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 2 contestant: Noah from Kansas City, MO
Matt Cassel, NE (at NYJ): 260 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 10 rushing yards
Darren McFadden, Oak (at KC): 15 carries, 60 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 20 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Chris Johnson, Ten (vs. Cin): 13 carries, 70 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 30 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Hines Ward, Pit (at Cle): 5 receptions, 60 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
D.J. Hackett, Car (vs. Chi): 4 receptions, 60 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Brandon Jackson, GB (at Det): 13 carries, 60 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 20 receiving yards, 1 TD
Carson Palmer, Cin (vs. Ten): 200 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions
Joseph Addai, Ind (at Min): 19 carries, 60 rushing yards, 0 touchdowns
Marion Barber, Dal (vs. Phi): 12 carries, 40 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 20 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns
Braylon Edwards, Cle (vs. Pit): 4 receptions, 40 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns
Dwayne Bowe, KC (vs. Oak): 3 receptions, 40 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns
Week 1 Results: Brian from Dallas, TX
Flames: 4-2, 60% (W – Jon Kitna, Thomas Jones, Justin Fargas, Anthony Fasano (Shocker Special); L – Donald Driver, Robert Meachem)
Lames: 4-1, 80% (W – Derek Anderson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ryan Grant, Santonio Holmes; L – Santana Moss)
Noisers YTD – Flames: 4-2, 66.7%; Lames: 4-1, 80%; Shocker Special: 1-0, 100%
Challenge Winners: (Brian from Dallas)