November 05, 2009
Brad and Andy return live this week to answer your questions and discuss their flames, lames and deep names for Week 9. Submit your questions for Friday night's "Fantasy Freak Show" on The Score via email (Please include name/city) at firstname.lastname@example.org.You can also dial the studio line starting at 8 PM PT/10 PM CT/11 PM ET at 312-644-6767 or text us at 67011. You can also follow the show, and the Noise, via Twitter.
Each week the Noise highlights eight somewhat obscure, unobvious names who he believes are destined for flame madness or lame sadness. Being an accountability advocate, he will tally his hits and misses and post the results, whether genius or moronic, each week using the scoring system posted here.
More Noise: Alexander the soon-to-be Great
FLAMES (Started in less than 60 percent of Y! Plus leagues)
Matchup: at Cin
In two of his past three contests, including an unexciting effort Week 5 versus Cincinnati, Flacco has been relatively flightless, failing to eclipse the 200-yard mark. The Bengals frustrated the Ravens rising star the first go-round by shifting extra help to Derrick Mason's(notes) side. Based on the crafty veteran's bagel effort (1 tgt, 0 catches), the bracketing plan worked flawlessly. This time, the Baltimore passing attack will be more prepared. Susceptible to the deep-ball, the Bengals have yielded the sixth-most 20-yard pass plays this season. Since Week 4, they've also allowed 275.3 passing yards and 1.8 aerial strikes per game to QBs, equal to the fourth-most fantasy points conceded. Flacco, who Josh McDaniels compared to Ben Roethlisberger(notes) last week, sported a ridiculous 70.9 completion percentage in his first tango with the Queen City Cats, but averaged a meager six yards per attempt. Due to Cincy's shortcomings downfield, he will fire numerous bombs in the rematch. Expect top 10 numbers in Week 9.
Matchup: at Den
After a week off, Pittsburgh's dancing machine is ready to Tootsie Roll the Broncos under the primetime lights. On paper, the matchup appears intimidating. Denver's hyperactive 3-4 defense has done a sensational job plugging frontline gaps, limiting rushers to just 3.6 yards per carry and two scores since Week 4. But as Ray Rice(notes) proved last week, the Broncos can be a bend-don't-break unit. The numbers support this insinuation. Over the past five weeks, they've surrendered 150.8 total yards per game. Since overtaking Willie Parker(notes) several weeks ago, Mendenhall, who's always a central subject in Noise's wildest mantasies, has performed remarkably well, even against stiff competition. Prior to the Steelers' bye, he crumbled the Williams Wall, racking a 6.9 yards-per-carry mark. Indicative in Pittsburgh's large pass/run disparity, the club has strayed away from its ground-pounding roots. But due to the swarming nature of the Broncos D, a more balanced approach will likely be implemented. Don't be swayed by the supposedly difficult matchup. When not plagued by Slatonitis, Mendenhall is a beast.
Fearless Forecast: 18 carries, 79 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 24 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. Det
Riding an enraged bull barebacked may seem less risky than trusting a Hawks rusher, but the Hello Kitties of Detroit can temporarily enhance the value of any depressed commodity. Missing in action since Week 3, the still heavily owned Jones has provided smallish returns. In his past four contests, he's averaged a sorrowful 2.8 yards per carry and 41 total yards per game. However, early in last week's blowout loss at Dallas he showed some spark, totaling 27 first-quarter yards. But in-game circumstances combined with Seattle's horrific run-blocking stymied his overall production. Compared to the Cowboys – or anyone outside of Buffalo for that matter – the Lions' run defense is abysmal. Over the past five weeks, they've surrendered 5.7 yards per carry, 151.8 total yards per game and five scores to RBs, equal to the seventh-most fantasy points allowed. Bottom line: Seattle has to establish continuity in the running game if it has any chance of salvaging the season. With Edgerrin James(notes) finally put out to pasture, Jones should net his finest performance in several weeks.
Fearless Forecast: 17 carries, 90 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 17 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. SD
Broken metatarsal, shredded glute, impaled brain – the Bride of Frankenstein could play through any excruciating injury. Though dealing with intense foot pain, it appears stingy opponents, not the setback, have slowed Bradshaw down. But despite averaging under 3.0 yards per carry in his past two contests, the lightning complement to Brandon Jacobs(notes) has flirted with the RB top 20 over the past five weeks. During that stretch he's tallied an impressive 5.1 yards per carry, 65 total yards per game and four scores. As owners have witnessed routinely this season, the Bolts have been overpowered in the trenches, yielding the fifth-most fantasy points to rushers. Due to Eli Manning's(notes) inconsistencies and San Diego's defensive inadequacies, Kevin Gilbride will surely devise a throwback, ground-centered gameplan. In a pivotal clash for both teams, Bradshaw will rise to the occasion.
Fearless Forecast: 11 carries, 54 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 20 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. Ten
A little over two weeks ago, Crabtree's immediate NFL future was shrouded in doubt. Based on his outstanding early returns, it's amazing how seamless his midseason transition from holdout to starter has been. As Alex Smith noted earlier this week, the rookie's "strong hands" and "good route-running" have lived up to the first-round hype. This week against a bendable Tennessee secondary, the youngster may easily take the next step. Though the Titans received a major boost last week with the return of All-Pro corner Cortland Finnegan(notes), this is still an exploitable unit. Remember no team has surrendered more yards and scores to wideouts than Jeff Fisher's club. The chemistry between Smith and Crabtree should continue to blossom.
Fearless Forecast: 7 receptions, 94 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. Dal
The shake to DeSean Jackson's(notes) bake, Maclin, like his teammate, possesses serious NASCAR wheels. More than just a go-route guy, the rookie recently has become an entire-field asset in Andy Reid's pass-first system. Quietly over the past five weeks he's averaged four receptions, 62 yards and totaled three touchdowns, good for the 16th-best output at his position. The Cowboys have occasionally struggled in downfield coverage particularly of late. Since Week 4, they've yielded five touchdowns and the 10th-most fantasy points to wideouts. To combat their problems, Dallas corner Mike Jenkins(notes) plans to "hit (Philly receivers) in the mouth" via hard press coverage. But in a contest likely to produce plenty of fireworks, Maclin will throw a mean counterpunch, using his blazing 4.45-speed to gain separation and burn Jenkins deep. Trust the former Mizzou standout as a WR3 in all formats.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 62 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 12 fantasy points
Matchup: at Atl
Due to the absence of Brian Williams(notes) and general underperformance, the Atlanta secondary has continuously been victimized by opposing quarterbacks for much of the year. Embarrassed in downfield coverage, the Falcons have allowed the third-most 20-yard pass plays this season and the sixth-most fantasy points to receivers since Week 4. For the most part, Moss has been unreliable. He's only surpassed 10 fantasy points twice in seven games. But because of Atlanta's susceptibility to explosive pass plays, the matchup is unequivocally attractive. In a plea of humility, Dan Snyder apologized to the Redskins Nation for his team's deplorable play. But no one will feel sorry for Moss' performance in Week 9.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 84 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. Mia
New England's wide variety of airborne weapons is a matchup nightmare for a Dolphins team whose biggest flaw is pass defense. With Randy Moss(notes) and Wes Welker(notes) drawing away so much attention, Watson, who's scored in two straight, could see an increase in targets, especially if linebacker Channing Crowder(notes) is limited or sidelined. Without the services of their No. 1 trash talker a week ago, Dustin Keller(notes) emerged from hibernation to maul Miami, snagging a Jets-best eight receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown. Torched by tight ends routinely – they've allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to oversized weapons this year – the Fins will likely cede a couple eye-catching plays to Watson across the middle.
Fearless Forecast: 3 receptions, 47 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 10 fantasy points
LAMES (Started in over 60 percent of Y! Plus leagues)
Matchup: vs. Ari
Disgustful looks have regularly graced the face of Cutler in recent weeks. Based on his Grossman-like string of performances, Chicago's offensive commander has seemingly driven the offensive ship into a group of hostile pirates. Pressured incessantly, he's thrown six picks and only three touchdowns in his past four contests, an outcome he blames on poor team-wide execution. Unfortunately for his backers, the heat won't be dialed down against Arizona. This game has all the trappings of 'Zona/Seattle clash earlier this season. In that contest, the Cards strangled Matt Hasselbeck(notes) by assaulting the Hawks' rickety offensive line. Given the endless issues the Bears have had in pass protection a similar blueprint will likely be followed. Since Week 4 the Desert Birds have surrendered just 204 yards per game and four touchdowns to passers, equal to the seventh-fewest fantasy points allowed. They've also forced five interceptions. Unless the Bears' hogs up front suddenly transform into a group of mutant swine, Cutler will again be ambushed.
Fearless Forecast: 23-36, 242 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, 14 fantasy points
Chris Johnson, Ten, RB (Noise RB Rank: 16, NO BENCH, 96% started)
Matchup: at SF
In hindsight, maybe Gus Johnson should've replaced "cops" with "animated muffin tops" in his on-air analogy of Captain Quick's speed. Then again, Strawberry Shortcake would've probably been offended. With Johnson coming off a 228-yard destruction of Jacksonville it may seem like complete lunacy to designate him a lame. But against an unyielding San Francisco defense the fleet-footed rusher's rollercoaster season will again dip into a valley. Over the past four weeks, the Niners have surrendered a mere 3.6 yards per carry and 106 total yards per game to backs. More impressively, they've allowed just three 20-yard scampers this season. Until Vince Young(notes) can routinely complete a pass over 10 yards, defenses will key on the running game. The Jaguars did exactly that last week with zero success, but the Niners are a significantly better unit. You just know Patrick Willis(notes) will lead several charges into the gaps. For Johnson, the Battle by the Bay will be the calm before the Week 10 storm (home vs. Buffalo).
Fearless Forecast: 18 carries, 76 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 14 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 9 fantasy points
Matchup: at NYG
A shadow of his prior greatness, the former league MVP has experienced a rapid decline in production. In his past three games, two against miserable defenses (KC and Oakland), he's averaged an uncharacteristic 3.3 yards per carry and 76.3 total yards per game. Subtract the two end-zone dives he racked against the rancid Raiders and LT has been nothing more than a deep-league flex option. The sands of the hourglass will only thin this week at the Meadowlands. The Giants have grossly underwhelmed in all facets of the game in recent weeks, especially defensively. Over the past five weeks, the Boys in Blue have surrendered 4.1 yards per carry, 115.4 total yards per game and nine touchdowns to RBs equal to the eight-most fantasy points allowed. But despite their inefficiencies, this is a club desperate to get back on track. Because of LT's dwindling explosiveness and the San Diego's run-blocking inconsistencies, the G-Men should dominate the interior. Another marginal effort from LT and Norv Turner might finally get a clue. The more dynamic Darren Sproles(notes) needs a larger workload.
Fearless Forecast: 19 carries, 63 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 10 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 7 fantasy points
Matchup: at Ind
Slaton, the central subject of much turmoil and controversy in the fantasy community this week, is an untrustworthy commodity in non-PPR formats. The emergence of Ryan Moats(notes) combined with The Slasher's crippling case of butter fingers has clouded his immediate value. Gary Kubiak, a Lucifer Shanahan disciple, stated clearly earlier this week he plans to institute a three-back rotation, splitting carries between Slaton, Moats and Chris Brown. Obviously, pinpointing the exact distribution of carries is guesswork, but Slaton should net roughly 12-15 touches. As Frank Gore(notes) proved last week, the Colts' Cover 2 is prone to creating voids in the short-field. With Owen Daniels(notes) in street clothes, Slaton will likely be targeted on numerous screens and swings. But Indy, which has yielded the sixth-fewest fantasy points to rushers since Week 4, won't be gashed in consecutive weeks. Slaton is a suitable RB2/Flex option in PPR leagues, but is pine-worthy in standard formats. Understand another fumble and he could be bound for fantasy purgatory.
Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 48 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 36 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8 fantasy points
Matchup: at Phi
The Capital of Texas has firmly planted steel-toed-boot-in-competition's-posterior in recent weeks. Ranked No. 1 at his position since Week 4, the 6-foot-3 corner climber has averaged an obscene six receptions, 125.3 yards per game and totaled five scores. But it's important to note those numbers were tallied against three defenses that rank in the bottom half in pass defense – KC, Atlanta and Seattle. This week's matchup with intradivision enemy Philadelphia will be Austin's first major test. Since Week 4, only one wideout has splashed pay-dirt and zero have surpassed the 75-yard mark against the Eagles – good for the third-fewest fantasy points conceded. Still, though numbskull Roy Williams may disagree, Austin is clearly Tony Romo's(notes) top target, which makes him almost impossible to demote in three-receiver leagues. But we're believers in Asante Samuel(notes).
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 68 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 6 fantasy points
Matchup: at Den
Holmes, like teammate Ryan Clark(notes), suffers from sickle cell, a trait which makes breathing difficult in high elevations. Two years ago, the Steelers wideout experienced minor problems in only game at Invesco Field. His ailment, and the Broncos' excellent secondary, could inhibit his output. On the season, only one receiver has eclipsed the 90-yard mark against Champ Bailey(notes) and company. They've also surrendered the fourth-fewest fantasy points to receivers over the past four weeks. Outside Week 1, Holmes has failed to supplant Hines Ward(notes) as Ben Roethlisberger's primary weapon. That combined with Bruce Arians' spread-the-love philosophy has stymied his production. He ranks No. 38 in points per game among WRs since Week 4. Due to his potential health complications and the unsavory matchup, the former Buckeye is benchable in 12-team formats.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 56 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 5 fantasy points
Matchup: at Sea
On blocks due to a nagging knee injury two Sundays in a row, Megatron exhibited no lingering effects earlier this week in practice declaring he's "ready to go." However, despite the optimistic prognosis, he is a suspect play on the road in Sasquatch country. The Hawks have been clipped vertically in recent weeks conceding five 70-yard performances and seven touchdowns to wideouts since Week 4 equal to the second-most fantasy points allowed. But the Seattle defense historically has played well, especially against feeble opponents, at home. Detroit quarterbacks have been sacked 24 times this season, the fourth-most in the NFL. Due to Matthew Stafford's(notes) inexperience and rustiness coming off a knee injury, Gus Bradley will call a bevy of blitzes to bewilder the rookie. If the Hawks' persistent harassment is successful, Johnson's return to the lineup could be spoiled.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 59 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 5 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. Car
It's only appropriate in the Year of the Tight End one of the game's former stars has again illuminated. Through the first seven weeks, Shockey ranks No. 8 at his position. But occasionally in Sean Payton's spread system even the brightest of figures can fade into the darkness. That's what could happen to the heavily inked target this week. Carolina played extraordinarily well last week, befuddling Kurt Warner(notes) with numerous twists and stunts. Though the Sultan of Stubble pales in comparison to Drew Brees(notes), the Panthers' success defending the middle of the field could prove problematic for Shockey. On the season they've allowed just 4.6 receptions, 37.9 yards per game and three total touchdowns to enlarged weapons equal to the 11th-fewest fantasy points yielded. His healthy amount of looks in the red zone is difficult to ignore, but the former Giant could be a Week 9 bust on Bourbon Street.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 40 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 4 fantasy points
Images couresty of US Presswire and Getty