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Last Sunday night my most feared trepidation was realized.
In the second quarter of the Giants-Cowboys shootout Al Michaels exclaimed that Andrea Kramer had some significant injury news to report from the G-Men bench. After noticing that my cherished man-tasy Brandon Jacobs had motioned to the sideline a series before, Kremer didn't have to mutter a syllable. I already knew.
When the words "knee sprain," "MRI" and "out" traversed through the cavernous spaces of my brain, my mind drifted off to a nightmarish place where visions of psychotic clowns, redundant Ford commercials and a cackling Mike Shanahan played without interruption.
For the next several minutes, MRI stood for "Me Rendered Incommunicable."
The Noise was silenced.
And, naturally, the immediate reader reaction that overloaded my inbox wagged a finger in my general direction.
Most were vitriolic jabs at my intelligence and male-pattern baldness that made me feel in some way like Skip Bayless …
How are you felling about your mant-tasy now? Jackass. – Shane, Boston, MA
Aahaha! Told you your little crush on Jacobs was overboard. Never carried the load in his life and he can't even last one game. Horrible call! – Tom, Centereach, NY
You have lost all credibility in my book. Do me a favor and don't write anything about Joseph Addai. My season is riding on him. Insincerely yours … – Kevin, San Francisco, CA
Brad, get out of the fetal position and out from under your rock. Thanks for the hot tip on your man-crush Jacobs. What a buster. I only hope you don't curse any more of my players with your mantasies. – DC, Seattle, WA
Dear Brad, when I saw Jacobs go down, I immediately thought of how much of a loser you are. Also, you need to take a new picture so we can all see how bald you've become." – Rupert, Cranston, OK
Some expressed consolation and compassion as though Jacobs was a recently deceased family member …
Sorry about Jacobs. I hope he's okay. – George Del Prado, FantasyAuctioneer.com
I can relate to your Jacobs loss. I too thought he was going to do well this year and I felt comfort that a fantasy expert had the same belief. – Matt, Sacramento, CA
Another fan was concerned I might go John Cusack in "Better off Dead" …
I'm worried about you, Brad. If Jacobs is done for a long time, I think you might be in the wrong state of mind for a while. Don't leave the house. – John, Titusville, FL
Someone defamed the lone commonality I have with Brad Pitt …
You are a disgrace to the first name Brad. Good job on Jacobs. Your "expert" title needs to be revoked ASAP. – Brad, Tucson, AZ
One reader even encouraged vengeful violence toward Aussies …
I don't know about you, but I'm very angry with Daniel from Bendigo, Australia for wishing Jacobs would get a season-ending injury Week 1. Let's beat him up. Daniel's a jerk. He should stay in Australia. I hope Mr. Jacobs is back to fulfill your mantasies next week. I miss him already. – Rebecca, Truth and Consequences, NM
Finally, a soft-hearted Texas soul kindly suggested where I could find temp work …
If you can read this through all the tears and tissue I just want to say "I TOLD YOU SO." Well, not you exactly, but other people I know with your ridiculous forecast. I kinda wish Jacobs didn't get hurt, because now I have to listen to you make excuses all season about "what he would've done." Blah, blah, blah. I think Dairy Queen is hiring here if you need another J-O-B after this week. – Charlie, Port Arthur, TX
What Charlie doesn't know is that I'm the LaDainian Tomlinson of Blizzard blenders …
Like I've said countless times, fantasy football is a cruel, cold mistress. There are no guarantees. And if you're a witch hunter expecting an apology for my beaming Jacobs endorsement, it's not going to happen. I stand by my convictions and remain optimistic – albeit cautiously – that he will come close to fulfilling my supposedly capricious outlook.
Even though the Football Frankenstein's MCL sprain will keep him in street clothes for at least the next three weeks, it's senseless to become victimized by overreaction. On Wednesday, Newsday reported that Jacobs was seen in the locker room walking without a limp or a wrap on his injured right knee. When asked his possible return date, the superhuman Jacobs replied "It sure won't be five weeks. I'll be running by next week."
Cutting him outright in shallower leagues or dealing him for peanuts in deeper formats is absurd. Sure, his workload could diminish somewhat upon his return, but his 4.3 YPC mark against Dallas implies that if he averaged a 17-carry load in 12 games he could salvage a 1,000 total yard, 7-9 touchdown season.
Until his triumphant return, I'm on a heavy diet of Xanax and boxed merlot. Thankfully, I drafted reputable backups Chris Brown, Kevin Jones and Michael Pittman in the mid-to-late rounds in several leagues to pull me through the depression. More importantly, I purchased a Derrick Ward insurance policy in two leagues late last week to hedge my bet. In a game where the specter of injury always looms, it's imperative to have a sturdy crutch in case the unthinkable occurs. This is why I incessantly preach to draft at least five running backs on Draft Day.
So, what can we expect from waiver wire wunderkind Derrick Ward over the next few weeks?
Ward is an excellent one-cut back who accelerates through the hole with surprising burst. With above average hands and coming off a 116 total yard (6.8 YPC), one-score performance in Big D, he will be a respectable, but not an earth-shattering, No. 3 back in 12-team leagues while Jacobs is sequestered. The Giants have a difficult road over the next three weeks matched against a trio of defenses (GB, Was, Phi) that suffocated the run for a combined average of 71.6 yards and zero touchdowns in Week 1. And possibly without Eli Manning for part of that span, the offense is likely to sputter. That is, unless opposing secondaries are fearful Jared Lorenzen will douse them in ketchup and devour them like a French fry.
As for the Football Frankenstein, I can only hope he's reanimated with the knee of Walter Payton.
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 four-game dominance late in '06, the "Shocker Special" segment spotlights one player owned in less than 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues who is poised for one-week 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. You could say his stones are larger than Rodney Harrison's.
*BNRK = Big Noise weekly position ranking
*Y!% = Percentage owned in Yahoo! leagues as of 9/9
|Week 2 Fantasy Flames|
|Lowdown: The Sam Cassell of the NFL will use his uber-sexy extra terrestrial looks to strike fear into the Saints. Cornerback Jason David was used and abused by Reggie Wayne in the NFL opener, burned for 7 receptions 115 yards and two scores. Although Garcia's deep-ball is mediocre, Gruden will undoubtedly take advantage of the Saints weak link with home run hitter Joey Galloway. Expect at least one long-distance connection. Last week in the Starbucks City, Garcia was bull's-eye accurate, completing 70.4 percent of his passes. With sure-handed safety valve Michael Pittman possibly starting, Garcia, a master of rollout improvisation, will have another dangerous weapon to execute on abbreviated routes. Garcia, likely still available on over two-thirds of Y! waiver wires, is a marvelous plug n' play option who should tally numbers ahead of noteworthy starters Phillip Rivers (at NE) and Vince Young (vs. Ind).|
|Fearless Forecast: 238 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 INT|
|Lowdown: Pittman's bulging biceps are the only pair of guns that can rival the pythons of ultra buff referee Ed Hochuli. In order to avoid Carnell Williams' bruised ribs from becoming a chronic issue the Bucs staff will probably err on the side of caution – despite Cadillac's claims on Wednesday that he's "rapidly improved" – and likely insert the flexible Pittman into the starting lineup. If that scenario comes to fruition, confide in the 32-year-old Mighty Mouse as a flex play in 12-team leagues or as a No. 2 in ocean-deep PPR formats. The Saints were bedeviled by the Colts in the trenches last week, relinquishing 164 rushing yards. Tampa Bay's retooled O-line is a talented bunch who, although still in the jelling process, should be able to outmuscle a submissive Saints frontline. Pittman may lose roughly 5-10 carries to Earnest Graham, but his blazing wheels and praise-worthy play in the passing game should carry him past the 100 total yard mark. As the starter in two clashes in '06, Pittman scored once, sported a superb 5.6 YPC mark and averaged 108 total yards per game. In numbers speak, this week, he's a miniaturized version of Brian Westbrook.|
|Fearless Forecast (As the starter): 14 carries, 74 rushing yards, 6 receptions, 41 receiving yards, receiving TD|
|Lowdown: Brown went down the fantasy gullet like a smooth shot of Tennessee whisky in Week 1. Matched against a supposedly implacable Jaguars front, Brown spearheaded a spontaneous 282-yard Titans ground explosion, taming the Kitties for 175 yards on 19 carries – his first 100-yard game since December 5, 2004. The AFC Offensive Player of the Week's matchup in Week 2 is somewhat more daunting. Despite the Colts glowing performance in the trenches last week – they held Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush to a deplorable 76 yards on 22 carries (3.4 YPC) – the Titans possess one of the most underrated offensive lines in the AFC. They were bigger, stronger and hungrier than the Jags and should again dominate the interior, creating space between the hashmarks for Brown to plow through. Without a dependable wideout on roster, Jeff Fisher will establish the run early in an attempt to eat clock and play keep-away from Peyton Manning. Fisher is committed to a time-share, but his comments earlier this week of a desire to run at least 30-35 times per game suggests a guaranteed 18-22 totes for Brown. If the Titans defense can replicate their efforts from last week, the once-left-for-dead pile-driver should again be a surprising yardage accumulator. But anticipate Vince Young and LenDale White to be featured prominently in goal-line duty. Activate Brown as a No. 2 in deeper formats and as a flex option in all 12-team leagues.|
|Fearless Forecast: 20 carries, 103 yards, 2 receptions, 13 yards, 0 touchdowns|
|Lowdown: Usually the one that inflicts pain, this week the "Torture" Chambers returns the favor by Chinese finger-trapping a contemptible Cowboys secondary. The Roy Williams-led Dallas unit was defiled by Eli Manning and the Sequoyah frame of Plaxico Burress. Comparatively, Chambers is diminutive in size to Burress, but his quickness and high-jumping abilities will be difficult for the Cow Pokes to corral. Quietly, Chambers had an impressive opening week catching six passes for 92 yards on 11 Trent Green targets in Washington. Although Green's completion percentage has declined in three straight seasons, he's still an intelligent, accurate quarterback who should have little trouble executing against a defense that yielded 312 yards and 4 scores to junior Manning. Imprecise routes have been Chambers' downfall in the past, but, facing a cushy defense and given the pinpoint arm of Green, his inadequacies will appear dormant en route to one of his better fantasy performances of the season.|
|Fearless Forecast: 6 REC, 98 YDs, TD|
|Cincinnati Bengals D/ST||D/ST||2||7.2|
|Lowdown: Not even a bionic man composed of Bernie Kosar and Brady Quinn DNA could rescue the Browns from Bengals annihilation. The Bengals tattooed the Ravens on Monday night, forcing six turnovers, including a Landon Johnson 34-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown. Their sparkling 21-point fantasy output in standard Y! leagues was the third-highest team defense yield in Week 1. This week the Bengals travel northeast on Interstate 71 to face intrastate rival Cleveland. The Browns offense was dreadfully woeful in 60 blunder-filled minutes in their opener against Pittsburgh, posting a pair of sixes in turnovers and sacks. If Cincinnati aggressively blitzes Derek Anderson like they did Steve McNair, the Bengals will again score top-five team defense numbers.|
|Fearless Forecast: 7 points allowed, 208 total yards allowed, 5 sacks, 3 turnovers|
|Shocker Special of the Week|
|Lowdown: James "Earl" Jones will not be a fantasy Darth Vader against a battered and bruised G-Men defense that was light-sabered for four passing touchdowns by Tony Romo in Week 1. Jones, much like the entire Packers offense, slumbered against Philadelphia last week, totaling a meager 24 yards on four receptions. Still, Jones was targeted eight times, and with Greg Jennings hobbled by a hamstring injury – he practiced on a "limited" basis on Wednesday but is expected to start – Brett Favre will again center the youngster in the crosshairs. The Giants embarrassingly defended the middle in Week 1 and because Jones is a highly aware receiver who excels in short-to-intermediate routes, he, along with tight ends Bubba Franks and Donald Lee, should be Favre's center of attention. Owners with a shaky No. 3 wideout in 14-team and larger leagues need to roll the dice with the rookie.|
|Fearless Forecast: 5 REC, 48 YDs, TD|
|Week 2 Fantasy Lames|
|Lowdown: Bulger was unimpressive in his season debut against Carolina last week, completing a paltry 52.4 percent of his passes for 167 yards and a touchdown. The loss of pancake blocker Orlando Pace is significant blow to a Rams offensive line that was humbled by the Panthers. Anticipate an emboldened 49ers defense to challenge a reshuffled Rams unit with plenty of Patrick Willis-led blitzes. Cover corners Walt Harris and "Nasty" Nate Clements blanketed Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, arguably the most talented receiving tandem in the NFC, holding them to a shocking seven receptions for 42 yards and one score. Historically, Bulger has pummeled defenses under the roof of Edward Jones, but if the 49ers can be disruptive early, he could underwhelm again. Because Bulger has the arsenal to post a 300-yard game every week he's practically unbenchable, but the forecast calls for a cumbersome day.|
|Fearless Forecast: 219 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception|
|Lowdown: Grand-ma-ma commercials for the Scooter Store could motivate Brian Urlacher. The rapacious Bears defense performed masterfully against the NFL's most dominant back, LaDanian Tomlinson, limiting him to a seemingly unfathomable 1.5 YPC. Expect a similar story to unfold in their home opener this week. Herm Edwards noted on Tuesday that he wants to – Surprise! – increase Johnson's workload to approximately 30 touches per game in an attempt to resuscitate a flat-lined offense. Unfortunately, Damon Huard will be without the services of playmaker Eddie Kennison, which is devastating for a quarterback who appeared mentally lost at times last week. Even without Dusty Dvoracek and Mike Brown, the Bears have enough experience and brawn to not skip a defensive beat. LJ will again be the focus of the Chiefs aerial game – he had a team-high 7 receptions for 44 yards versus Houston – but in enemy territory, matched against undeniably the best defense in the NFC, disappointment seems likely. Those who subscribe to the "always start your studs" theory may want to abandon that philosophy if more favorable options are available.|
|Fearless Forecast: 22 carries, 59 yards, 6 receptions, 35 yards, 0 touchdowns|
|Lowdown: It wouldn't matter if Bill Belichick's secretive KGB crew stole the Nike swoosh off Shawne Merriman's jersey, Maroney will get electrocuted in Week 2. Sir Laurence was on the field for only 30 plays last week, accumulating an unexciting 72 yards on 20 carries (3.6 YPC) against a suspect Jets defense. Most damning, he lost 11 carries to Corey Dillon doppelganger Sammy Morris, who proved more effective in a limited dosage, rushing for 54 yards (4.9 YPC). At this point, it appears Beelzebub Belichick is committed to a 70-30 platoon. Unlike some of my colleagues, this is why I absolved from designating Maroney a top-ten back. This week, the Pats clash with a Chargers front that stymied a quality Bears rushing offense, caging them for 3.1 YPC. San Diego nose tackle Jamal Williams is a man-eater who sniffs out the ball like a bloodhound. He and his cohorts should contain Maroney at the point of attack in what will be a forgettable night for the king of Kool-Aid bling.|
|Fearless Forecast: 19 carries, 68 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 22 yards, 0 touchdowns|
|Lowdown: The Browns offense might be more inept than the Michigan Wolverines – Edwards' Alma-Mater. On second thought, probably not. A notorious Steelers punisher in his career, Edwards was Steely McBeamed in Week 1, catching just three passes for 49 yards. The Chihuahuas pass protection was horrific versus Pittsburgh as they allowed seven sacks with five turnovers. The Bengals were frenetic on defense against Baltimore and should bring a similar energy to C-town. Cincy corner Jonathan Joseph's frantic, speedy pursuit should be able to go stride-for-stride with Edwards and counteract the lanky receiver's size advantage. Edwards had six receptions for 139 yards in two contests versus Cincy last year, but given the inefficiencies of the Browns frontline, Derek Anderson will have problems getting the ball downfield. Expect another mediocre, unproductive week from the Browns top dog.|
|Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 51 yards, 0 touchdowns|
|Lowdown: The dynamic defensive duo of Champ Bailey and Dre' Bly will transform Josh McCown into Krusty McClown. The journeyman gunslinger completed 10 passes to Curry for 133 yards and a score last week, but the Lions defense is horribly loathsome when compared to Denver's stifling unit. The Broncos turned one of the AFC's premiere receivers, Lee Evans, into beef jerky last week, restricting him to just two catches for five yards. Curry has the size and athleticism to compete with any corner, but with hard-hitting John Lynch also to contend with it will be extremely unlikely for him to generate adequate separation downfield. His prospects for a reliable No. 2 year are favorable, but you have to bench him versus a club he registered just two receptions for 11 yards against in two '06 games.|
|Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 36 yards, 0 touchdowns|
Upset you don't have a forum to express your disdain for drafting Ronnie Brown? 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?
Last week's Noise was awesome. Anything that depicts Shanahan (AKA Master Splinter) as the Devil is alright in my book.
Chris, San Diego, CA
While normally I'm a marginal fan of your writings (mainly because of the disturbing Chris Cooley hot pants citation and image), your response to the "we should have punters in fantasy football" comment was easily one of the funniest things I've read since Cable Deadpool. Thanks for the laugh.
Steven, Providence, RI
I don't understand your columns. The whole man-crush thing isn't funny or interesting. Your fantasy ideas are, in general, poor. The only thing you bring to the table are your jokes, which aren't funny. Your pop culture references are terrible, make no sense and are typically dated to the early 90s (example: your "Cypress Hill" reference in Week 1 – just awful). I guess I could see you being an intern for Funston or someone who has a decent idea about sports, but you have a column? Give me a break.
Greg, New York, NY
Noise: Dude, it's not wise to piss-off B-Real. He's quite the paintball marksman and has an entire army of unmotivated potheads on his side.
Every couple of weeks I get an email from someone like Greg who remarks that my musings are insulting and pitiful. But the critics have and never will change me. The pop culture references are a way for me to stay entertained and to present the same regurgitated fantasy information hundreds of other sites analyze in a light-hearted, unique way. I was an MTV junkie when they actually played videos and many of my analogies and anecdotes come from my peak hip hop years in the late 80s and 90s. My writings are a reflection of that time and my wacky personality. Bummer for Greg, I'm not a conformist.
Now if I ever reference white reggae rapper Snow in a column then maybe I deserve ridicule. Crap. I already have. In the immortal words of Snow, lickey boom-boom down Greg …
Geez, I'm really glad I passed up on Peyton Manning for Larry Johnson. I'm looking at the stats from Week 1 and you fantasy "experts" seem to have been wrong on everything. So how much lead paint should someone huff to become a fantasy "expert?" Thanks for screwing up my team and ensuring a last place finish this year.
Mike, Ventura, CA
Noise: Actually, the lead paint extracts from two Elmo Tub Subs, a Giggle Grabber Ernie and a Dora Talking Vamonos Van – all recently recalled Fisher Price toys – would cloud one's judgment enough to achieve fantasy "expert" status.
Mike's email is what we in the business call "freaking out." What Mike doesn't realize is that A) I was one of the few "experts" out there who expressed some concern in regards to LJ going into the season, B) He failed to mention that his subsequent brilliant picks – which probably involved a kicker, a tight end other than Antonio Gates and a team defense within the first six rounds – are the real culprits for his first game demise and C) He's the only person in America who lives in an underground bunker out of fear of Y2K, the avian flu and meteorite extinction.
Resurface Mike and realize that once Johnson gets past his hellacious early season schedule against several stout rush defenses (at Chi, Min, at SD and Jac) he has a favorable slate over the remainder of the season. Unequivocally, LJ will be the marquee buy-low attraction after the first five weeks of the season.
Guess you can't predict injuries, huh? Good call with Eli Manning and Santonio Holmes, but I benched Adrian Peterson for Maurice Jones-Drew and I'm blaming you. If you would have told me he would be such a Flame (Notice the "F" in front), I would have started him for sure. Guess that actually makes me the idiot though for trusting your advice.
Kevin, Athens, OH
Thanks for helping me sit Adrian Peterson on my bench. How did you get your job and I hope they don't pay you much. At least you're entertaining even if you don't know much about fantasy football. Jeez!
Kevin, Sheldahl, IA
Noise: Kudos to Andy Behrens for accurately projecting Peterson's initial success. Of course, if Chester Taylor were not injured in the first quarter I'm sure AP's statistical outcome would have been completely different. For those that lambasted me about Jacobs' susceptibility to injury listen carefully. Although Peterson is three inches shorter than BJ, he too runs like a giraffe, which leaves himself open to titanic blasts and injury. Also, Brad Childress has remained steadfast in his desire to keep a time-share and once Taylor returns to the lineup – he's very questionable this week – a 60-40 split will again be instituted.
Of course, Peterson is unbelievably talented and has the benefit of one of the best offensive lines in the NFC, but his injury-plagued past and Childress' stubbornness on sticking with a platoon approach gives me pause. If I had adequate RB depth in a non-keeper league, I would consider shopping Peterson to an owner awestruck by his debut. This week he was dished for Donovan McNabb, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and, unbelievably, Steven Jackson in solo Y! Plus league trades.
Oh, and to answer your inquiry on how I acquired the greatest job in the world: Like any writer desperate to reach the zenith of his industry I slept my way to the top. My salary of StatTracker upgrades and autographed headshots of Hawaiian heartthrob Larry Beil is more than fair compensation for my services. However, next year, I'm demanding photos of Brandon Funston. His combined Count Chocula/Richard Nixon looks are so damn adorable.
- Mike Shanahan