Bringin' the Noise: Rule of Three

Brad Evans
Yahoo! Sports

Watch the Noise, and fellow Yahoo! experts Brandon Funston and John Murphy, answer your pressing lineup questions for a full hour every NFL Sunday on the Emmy nominated webcast "Fantasy Football Live" at 9 AM PT/11 AM CT/Noon ET.

Unmistakably, fantasy owners are creatures of habit.

Alongside our unwavering loyalties and man-crushes – rescue me, Brandon Jacobs – we are slaves to several fantasy commandments. To name a few:

Thou shalt always draft at least two running backs in the first three rounds
Thou shalt never sit thy studs even in an unfavorable matchup
Thou shalt always throw monkey feces at any fantasy columnist who recommends the Bengals defense

For the 13 years analyzing and obsessing over this addictive game, I've followed a certain principle designed to keep early-season frustrations and flippant responses in check. The commandment hammered into my stone tablet – the Rule of Three.

This law doesn't refer to the minimum number of pizzas LenDale White must consume to achieve fullness. Nor does it refer to the maximum number of Irish Car Bombs the Noise can consume in succession before kneeling at the seat of the porcelain king. Instead, it refers to the number of games that must be played before concrete assessments/conclusions can be ascertained about a particular player or team.

Now that the first three weeks of the season are in the books, here are a few tangible observations to store into long-term memory:

• Outstanding defenses in 2006 that are now benign matchups: Miami (vs. Run/Pass), Buffalo (vs. Pass), Chicago (vs. Pass)

• Conversely, meek defenses that are now malignant matchups: Philadelphia (vs. Run), Green Bay (vs. Run/Pass), Tennessee (vs. Run/Pass)

• Guys to target in trades: Larry Johnson, Thomas Jones, Lee Evans, Larry Fitzgerald, Kevin Jones, Ron Dayne, Brandon Jacobs

• Guys to put on the auction block: Adrian Peterson, Ahman Green, Derrick Ward, DeShaun Foster, Kevin Curtis

• Guys that I'm legitimately concerned about: Maurice Jones-Drew, Marc Bulger, Drew Brees, Matt Leinart, Jerious Norwood, Hines Ward

• Overachievers who will continue to alter the Earth's tilt: LaMont Jordan, Sammy Morris, Brett Favre, Shaun McDonald, Derrick Mason, Wes Welker, Brandon Marshall

• Top offenses to stream team defenses against: Atlanta, Minnesota, Buffalo, Baltimore, New York Jets (sacks), St. Louis (sacks)

• Running back committee conundrums that will induce migraines: Green Bay, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Atlanta, New England, New York Giants (once Jacobs returns)

• This will be the first year since 1998 that Peyton Manning, who's currently ranked eighth among quarterbacks, doesn't finish in the top-five in fantasy points per game at his own position. Carson Palmer, Jon Kitna, Tom Brady, Tony Romo and a wildcard candidate (Brett Favre or Donovan McNabb possibly) will outperform him. This is why I incessantly preach that you never take a quarterback in the first round in a standard, four-point per passing touchdown league.

• Owners previously petrified over Clinton Portis will continue to slam their heads into their keyboards. He will remain entrenched in the RB top 10 with Ladell Betts easing his workload approximately 8-10 carries per game. A 1,200 yard, 10-12 touchdown season for Portis is very likely.

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 through 9/22

Week 4 Fantasy Flames
Player Team Pos Opp BNRK Y!%
Chad Pennington QB 11 47.8
Lowdown: Pennington will dismantle the Bills with his super ginger powers. Quietly the 14th-best quarterback in fantasy, averaging a healthy 18.4 points per game in standard formats, Pennington has been a meritable performer despite being hobbled by an ankle injury. Although his 145.5 passing yards per game average is noxious, his 4:0 TD:INT split has made him a certifiable No. 1 in 14-team leagues. This week, the Puddle Jumpers travel to Buffalo to clash with an injury-ridden Bills secondary that has yielded an obscene 285.7 passing yards and two air strikes per game. Opposing defenses have dominated the Jets in the trenches, sacking Pennington a league-worst 14 times. But with only three QB takedowns on the year, the Bills' lethargic pass rush will be of minimal concern to the Jets. Pennington should have ample time to connect with primary weapons Laveraneus Coles and Jerricho Cotchery en route to a memorable Week 4.
Fearless Forecast: 267 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception
Brian Leonard RB 16 1.2
Lowdown: When the news went public about Steven Jackson's partially torn groin, Brandon Funston's Leonard man-crush scale vaulted from yellow to red. At 6-foot-1, 226 pounds, the former Scarlet Knight sensation is a gifted hybrid back with astonishingly sticky hands. His versatility as a receiving back will be a featured component of the Rams offense over the next 2-3 weeks given the enormous pressure defenses have applied on Marc Bulger. Dallas has been rigid against the run, surrendering just 64.6 rushing yards and 0.33 ground scores per game, equitable to the 11th-fewest fantasy points allowed to runners. Jackson averaged 25.7 touches per game and was targeted nearly five times per contest, which means Leonard will be depended upon heavily to move the chains in the Big D. Although he will lose roughly 5-8 carries to Travis Minor in third-down duty, rely on the defensive back hurdler as a rock solid No. 2 in PPR-friendly 12-team leagues.
Fearless Forecast: 17 carries, 73 rushing yards, 6 receptions, 31 yards, 1 touchdown
Ron Dayne RB 20 0.61
Lowdown: Big Daddy Dayne won't be "half-steppin'" in Hotlanta. On Thursday, Gary Kubiak told the Houston Chronicle that incumbent starter Ahman Green would "unlikely contribute much, if anything" in Atlanta due to a sprained knee. Dayne may slam the hole like the Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man, but his powerful downhill running style thrives in Kubaik's one-cut, zone-blocking scheme. Remember, as the primary tugboat from Weeks 13-16 last year, Dayne averaged a headline-grabbing 107.3 yards per game and totaled five touchdowns. The pliable Falcons frontline has surrendered 129.3 rushing yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry to opposing plowshares. Without downfield weapons Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones, Kubiak will establish the run early in an attempt to alleviate pressure on Matt Schaub. Spurned Rudi Johnson owners looking for a one-week wire sensation should hop aboard the Dayne train.
Fearless Forecast: 19 carries, 88 rushing yards, 1 catch, 7 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Shaun McDonald WR 26 45.5
Lowdown: Shockingly, McDonald has been the Mayor McCheese of waiver wire grabs in PPR formats. Owned in less than one percent of Yahoo! leagues to start the season, the former Mike Martz project in St. Louis has become a starting lineup staple, averaging a very T.J. Houshmandzadeh-like 8.5 targets, 6.0 receptions, 79.0 yards and 0.67 touchdowns per game – good for 15th overall among wideouts. McDonald's meteoric rise is testament to his improved route running skills and defensive backs keying on totem poles Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson. In Week 4, he battles a Bears defense devastated by injuries. Already missing Mike Brown, the Mice of the Midway will be without the services of preeminent pass rusher Tommie Harris and crafty corner Nathan Vasher, which means the divinely inspired Jon Kitna should tally multiple miracles downfield to McDonald. Confidently start the three-year vet as a No. 2 in all formats.
Fearless Forecast: 7 receptions, 93 yards, 1 touchdown
Greg Jennings WR 27 69.3
Lowdown: To borrow a line from the incomparable Simple Minds, Jennings will be "Alive and Kicking" under the Metrodome lights. Jennings, still repressed somewhat by a nagging hamstring injury, exploded for 85 yards and a touchdown last week against a charge-less San Diego secondary and has favorable odds of duplicating those numbers in Week 4. Because trench hippos Pat Williams and Kevin Williams voraciously devour running backs and given the deplorable state of the Packers rushing offense, Brett Favre will most certainly go airborne 40-plus times. In Favre's last three trips to Minnesota, he's averaged a gaudy 342.3 yards per game and totaled seven touchdowns. Expect the crafty vet to connect with Jennings on a couple of explosive pass plays. Insert the second-year receiver into your lineup as a No. 3 in all 12-team leagues.
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 63 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Shocker Special of the Week
Player Team Pos Opp BNRK Y!%
Brian Griese QB 12 2.3
Lowdown: Praise the fantasy anti-Christ, Jake Plummer, Lovie Smith has finally pulled the plug on Rex Grossman. This week, Brian Griese will take first-team snaps for the first time since Week 6 of 2005. The antithesis of Grossman, Griese is an intelligent field general who can reads defenses effectively and places the pigskin with relative consistency into receivers' chests – much like Matt Schaub. Although his deep-ball pales in comparison to his predecessor, Griese has the tools and experience to evaporate the cloud of negativity that clearly hangs over the Windy City. Why? The Lions secondary made an inadequate Josh McCown look like Jim Plunkett in Week 1, yielding 313 passing yards and two TDs. On the season, they've surrendered an atrocious 295.3 passing yards and two touchdowns per contest. If Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad cake their hands in stick 'em, Griese will finish with striking numbers. Vince Young owners in search of a bye-week replacement should employ the services of the Chicago savior.
Fearless Forecast: 243 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
Week 4 Fantasy Lames
Player Team Pos Opp BNRK Y!%
Matt Hasselbeck QB 16 99.1
Lowdown: Hasselbeck will leave his heart and a piece of his manhood in San Francisco. Eighty million dollar cover man Nate Clements and Walt Harris have performed radiantly in the 49ers secondary allowing a measly 210 passing yards per game. To prevent soft-bodied receivers Deion Branch, Nate Burleson and Bobby Engram from breaking quickly off the line, look for the dynamic defensive duo to install tight press coverage. Because the Seattle trio is known more for their quickness rather than their physical play it could be exceedingly difficult for them and Hasselbeck to accumulate admirable numbers against the press. Hasselbeck has played adequately in his past three contests versus the Gold Panners (226.3 YPG, 6:3 TD:INT), but this is a stalwart secondary that can create chaos.
Fearless Forecast: 217 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, 2 interceptions
Carnell Williams RB 24 98.4
Lowdown: This Cadillac's crushed velvet seats won't ooze down the streets of Charlotte. On the exterior, Caddy has been a top 20 fantasy back over the past couple of weeks, totaling 29 fantasy points. But those pair of notable efforts were tallied against two laughable rush defenses (New Orleans and St. Louis). Looking under the hood, his 2.9 yards per carry average during that stretch is appalling. With hole-plungers Kris Jenkins and Maake Kemoeatu defending the Carolina interior, Williams' tires will be slashed. The Panthers have yielded the sixth-fewest fantasy points to plowshares, limiting them to a paltry 3.7 yards per carry mark this year. Also, in two games versus Carolina last season, Caddy averaged a dreadful 2.7 yards per carry on 33 attempts. Leave him in the garage.
Fearless Forecast: 15 carries, 48 rushing yards, 1 reception, 10 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns
Derrick Ward RB 28 67.8
Lowdown: The uber-athletic Philadelphia frontline has performed masterfully against the run, holding running backs to 3.3 yards per carry while relinquishing the seventh-fewest fantasy points overall. Meanwhile, the robust Giants O-line has been equally dazzling, leading Ward to a healthy 5.1 yards per carry and 120.3 total yards per game. However, the fleet-feet of Jevon Kearse and the quickness of Takeo Spikes will out maneuver the Giants up front causing Ward to have an uneventful day. To make matters worse for Ward backers, the Football Frankenstein, Brandon Jacobs, could return to the lineup after he was cleared to participate in practice on Thursday. Whether or not Jacobs is in uniform Sunday night, Ward will not be used at the goal line. Since D-dub has averaged 4.6 receptions per game, it's wise to keep him activated in PPR leagues, but those in shallow standard leagues should find a suitable replacement this week.
Fearless Forecast: 15 carries, 52 yards, 4 receptions, 23 yards, 0 touchdowns
Marvin Harrison WR 28 100
Lowdown: Champ Bailey will drape Harrison tighter than fishnets embracing the muscular thighs of the supposed Oscar De La Hoya. Bailey is undoubtedly a master of his craft who, along with assistance from teammates Dre' Bly and John Lynch, has not surrendered more than 50 yards to a receiver this season. Because the Broncos have been suspect against the run, it's plausible that Joseph Addai will be featured prominently this week. Sure, it's nearly impossible to deactivate one of the most consistent fantasy producers in history, but if I had to decide between him and, say, McDonald (vs. Chi), Jennings (at Min), Derrick Mason (at Cle), or Wes Welker (at Cin), Harrison would be the odd man out. In the only clash between the Colts and Broncos last year, the eight-time Pro Bowler was restricted to a meager five catches for 38 yards.
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 44 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns
Vincent Jackson WR 31 91.4
Lowdown: Philip Rivers' reemergence against a superb Green Bay secondary last week was exactly what Jackson owners had hoped for. Jackson, a member of my All-Gumby team, is a 6-foot-5 skyscraper who's typically a matchup nightmare for midget safeties. However, few checkmarks are on the receiver's side of the ledger against a rigid Chiefs secondary anchored by crafty 10-year vet Ty Law. KC employs a classic Cover 2 scheme designed to shackle the sidelines and limit big gainers downfield. Because Jackson is more of a streak receiver than a slant receiver, he will be stymied by a defense that has surrendered the fourth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 52 yards, 0 touchdowns
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: Sammy Morris = 10 Points
L: Roydell Williams = 2 Points
L: Maurice Jones-Drew = 4 Points
L: Muhsin Muhammad = 2 Points
L: Owen Daniels = 5 Points
ND: Josh McCown = Injured
Week 3 Flame Record: 1-4
Shocker Specials: 1-2
Season Total: 7-9 = 43.8%
W: Frank Gore = 4 Points
W: Lee Evans = 0 Points
L: Philip Rivers = 26 Points
L: Reggie Bush = 15 Points
L: Anquan Boldin = 30 Points
Week 2 Lame Record: 2-3
Season Total: 7-8 = 46.7%

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?

Brad, your last piece with the comparisons of McCown-Dolph and Muhammad-Lando nearly gave me a hernia. Those picks were just great. Keep up the good, funny work. The new feature with readers making picks is a great idea. Too many people talk trash after the fact.

Iceman, San Mateo, CA

Brad, it's always great reading what those that love you and you have to say. As for myself, I enjoy your humor, but I'm a little skeptical on your Noise's value. Example: all of your lames but Frank Gore in Week 3 seemed kind of obvious. Did you wimp out just a little to boost your score? Or did you really think your picks weren't obvious?

T.J., Eau Claire, WI

Noise: Evidently, I have the uncanny ability to motivate players with unfavorable matchups to do extraordinary things. For those that aren't keeping track … Week 1: Chad Johnson – 15 points. Week 2: Braylon Edwards – 26 points. Week 3: Anquan Boldin – 30 points. Too bad Freddie Mitchell was never labeled a "lame" in his brief, unmemorable NFL stint. I could've launched his career into the stratosphere.

As you can see T.J., unless your suggesting starting Marion Barber III versus the Rams or sitting Brandon Jackson against Minnesota nothing should be taken for granted when projecting stats in the league that stands for No Flippin' Logic.

Are you kidding me? Are you really going to act like a five-year old and not let people respond to your idiot predictions after the week is over? If you don't want people to criticize you then do your job. Grow a pair and make some sensible picks. Muhsin Muhammad going off on the Cowboys! Can't wait for that one to blow up in your face.

Alex, Fresno, CA

Noise: Alex, like most five-year olds, I wear Superman underwear, throw temper tantrums over Dora the Explorer figurines and, on occasion, make piss-poor recommendations. Grossman actually targeted Muhammad 10 times against the Cowboys, but because Rex couldn't hit a Brontosaurus from 10 yards out, Moose's numbers suffered. Yes, Moose has lost a step, but Griese is a very accurate passer who excels in short-to-intermediate routes – patterns Muhammad typically runs. I believe he, along with rookie tight end Greg Olsen, will benefit most from Grossman's benching.

Why are you so annoying? Also, you're going bald! You look like a freak trying to keep that hair. Shave it already.

Mat, New York, NY

Noise: If I have to resort to a Tony Kornheiser/Gene Keady comb-over or if my hair peninsula becomes a dome island, only then would I adorn a bone polish. Apparently my home remedy of Propecia, shots of 50-year old scotch and Yanni instrumental music isn't working.

Brad, I can understand what you are going through (kinda). I'm a weatherman for a local TV station in Medford, OR and I occasionally get emails or phone calls letting me know that I was wrong. You and I have similar jobs; we look at data, observe what's going on and make our best prediction at what will happen. Obviously we can't see the future or we'd both be rich. But for these people to tear you up like this on a consistent basis is ridiculous. I think you're doing a great job. You offer accurate info and are entertaining. If these people don't like what you say then they either: 1) Don't listen 2) Don't' read your articles. So I say don't listen to these jackholes. Keep up the entertaining articles and I'll keep reading.

Derek, Medford, OR

Noise: In a strange twist of irony, I once had ambitions of becoming the next Ed Hochuli of weathermen – Jim Cantore. Believe it or not, I have a Master's in Geosciences with a meteorology emphasis. A discussion about middle latitude cyclones and Skew-T logP data gets me all hot and bothered.

Derek, your comparison of the weather biz to fantasy sports is spot on. Meteorology mimics fantasy football in that there are so many variables that have direct influence over how an educated guess is formulated and how the outcome is generated. Sometimes you'll nail a storm (e.g. Frank Gore last week). Other times an air-mass thunderstorm will develop out of nowhere and rain on your parade (e.g. Anquan Boldin). That's the nature of the beast.

In Week 3's fantasy lames you finally managed a decent musical reference with Frank Gore. Although I'm not inclined to think of you as a Talking Head, you're going to have to eat your words when the Rhino of the NFL "gores" his way to two touchdowns. He will "Take me to the River."

Phil, Jamestown, NE

Noise: More like he guided you down a "Road to Nowhere." In an off week, Gore's diminished effort was one of the few projections I nailed.

Sammy Morris is killing me. And you aren't helping me out. Have you read/seen "The Secret?" … I will now attempt to apply those teachings to my predicament. And I ask that you help me out by not mentioning Sammy Morris, which means no more discussions of him in your flames/lames. Everyone think "LAURENCE MARONEY" and "TOUCHDOWN" and it will happen. Seriously though, what should I do with Maroney?

Nate, Minneapolis, MN

Noise: I've tried the Law of Attraction angle involving "Jessica Alba" and "Touchdown" but it has failed to work.

As I mentioned in last week's Noise, Morris will continue to be the bane of Maroney owners' existence. It's clear that Bill Belichick will stick with the current 70-30 time-share with Morris notching most, if not all, of the carries inside the five. Still, the king of Kool-Aid bling will be a valuable asset in yardage-based leagues, but thoughts of double-digit touchdowns are erroneous. Maroney is still commanding fair market value in many leagues and needs to be shopped – he was dealt for Donovan McNabb, Larry Johnson and Javon Walker in solo Y! Plus league deals this week. Unless he rips off several long touchdown runs, he'll be the Julius Jones of the AFC. Anticipate final tallies around 1,250 total yards with 3-5 touchdowns.

Hey Brad, I know you get a lot of emails saying this, but I really think you should be fired. Your picks are worthless and I think my sister (who never watches football) or even a monkey (throwing its own feces at targets with player names on it) would do a better job than you. Roydell Williams? Muhsin Muhammad? Mo-Jones? If the bosses of Yahoo! Sports are reading this please give me Brad's column. I could use the money and I couldn't do any worse. Could I?

M.K., Los Angeles, CA

Noise: Zookeepers tell me the orangutan is especially skillful in accurately picking profitable players …

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 no later than midnight central time on Tuesdays via the link in the column footer. Oh, and please, no long dissertations to justify your picks. All that's required are your player selections and projections. Good luck!

Week 4 contestant: Matt from Bowie, MD

Brian Griese, Chi (at Det): 16-22, 222 passing yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT
Leon Washington, NYJ (at Buf): 8 carries, 42 yards, 7 receptions, 60 yards, TD
Greg Jennings, GB (at Min): 7 receptions, 121 yards, TD
Roddy White, Atl (vs. Hou): 8 receptions, 137 yards, TD
Jeff King, Car (vs. TB): 6 receptions, 72 yards, TD

Shocker Special:
Tatum Bell, Det (vs. Chi): 22 carries, 129 yards, 4 receptions, 32 yards, TD

Philip Rivers, SD (vs. KC): 190 yards, 1 TD, INT, FL
Edgerrin James, Ari (vs. Pit): 11 carries, 39 yards, 3 receptions, 18 yards, 0 TD
Torry Holt, StL (at Dal): 5 receptions, 54 yards, 0 TD
Chris Chambers, Mia (Oak): 4 receptions, 60 yards, 0 TD
Jeremy Shockey, NYG (at Phi): 4 receptions, 51 yards, 0 TD