"Success is more a function of consistent common sense than it is of genius." – An Wang
Whether you're talking about NBA superstar LeBron James, nut Michael Jackson or a psychotic looking, yet compassionate, big-headed restaurant mascot who de-cleats Torry Holt every Sunday on my television screen, it's clear, various kings rule over American pop and sports culture.
In fantasy football, kings take on a different, more "consistent" meaning. Each and every month numerous top-flight studs rot on rosters, because their names are not synonymous with Tomlinson, Manning or Harrison. Even though many of these undervalued difference-makers are not considered prodigious by most, they continuously produce serviceable numbers and deserve starting consideration on a weekly basis. It's this type of production that could put a scowl on your competitor's face and make you look like a pigskin genius.
Listed below are my top five unheralded "Kings of Consistency" in performance-based leagues over the first four weeks, each of whom could be available for the price of a Whopper with cheese:
5. Thomas Jones, RB, Chi
Week 1: 21 CAR, 63 yds
Week 2: 21 CAR, 64 yds
Week 3: 18 CAR, 58 YDs, 1 REC, 12 yds
Week 4: 24 CAR, 98 YDs, 2 TDs
Notes: Ok, so his first three games were far from ferocious fantasy-wise, but Lovie Smith's devotion to the run and his huge game against Seattle last Sunday will help springboard TJ back into the running back top-fifteen. Chicago's favorable next four games (Buf, at Ari, SF, Mia) will have this back playing like the "godless killing machine mobilized against humanity" Stephen Colbert believes all Bears to be.
4. Isaac Bruce, WR, StL
Week 1: 5 REC, 64 YDs
Week 2: 5 REC, 77 yds
Week 3: 3 REC, 79 Yds
Week 4: 7 REC, 100 YDs, TD
Notes: The "Rev" has cast demons on opposing secondaries so far this season. The 16th-best wideout in performance based leagues, he will continue to be a dependable source of 7-12 fantasy points-per-week in a Rams system that averages over 35 air attempts-per-game. Reaching the century mark for the first time since November 2004 last week, expect another sensational Sunday against a Packers defense that ranks 31st against the pass.
3. Charlie Frye, QB, Cle
Week 1: 132 PYDs, TD, 2 INTs, 44 RYDs, TD
Week 2: 244 PYDs, 2 INTs, 10 RYDs, TD
Week 3: 298 PYDs, TD, INT, 6 RYDs, TD
Week 4: 192 PYDs, 3 TDs, 2 INTs
Notes: Not since the days of Bernie Kosar have fantasy owners actually cared about a Cleveland quarterback. Surprisingly, Frye has the fifth highest points-per-week average among quarterbacks in performance leagues, largely based on his three rushing scores. The rapport between Frye, second-year standout Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow has strengthened significantly this season. Close to 45 percent of Frye's passes have been thrown toward Edwards and Winslow. The Browns have a few rough foes upcoming, but he is a trustworthy plug n' play quarterback available in 93 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
2. Reggie Brown, WR, Phi
Week 1: 2 REC, 20 YDs, TD
Week 2: 1 REC, 23 YDs, TD
Week 3: 5 REC, 106 Yds
Week 4: 3 REC, 63 Yds
Notes: With Donte' Stallworth plagued by a blown tire, Brown continues to deliver solid week-to-week fantasy production. If Brian Westbrook's bum knee issues drag on, look for Donovan McNabb to turn to the air more often given the fumble proneness of backup Correll Buckhalter. Consider him a strong No. 3 capable of 7-11 point production each week.
1. David Carr, QB, Hou
Week 1: 208 PYDs, TD, 25 RYDs
Week 2: 219 PYDs, 3 TDs
Week 3: 208 PYDs, 2 TDs, INT
Week 4: 230 PYDs, TD, INT
Notes: Carr has revved his V-8 engine loudly for fantasy followers, but some still believe he's nothing more than a tricked-out Pinto. Available in just under half of Yahoo! leagues, he's the sixth-best quarterback in performance based formats. With a favorable fantasy playoff schedule from Weeks 14-17 (Ten, at NE, Ind, Cle), he has the capability to be a championship caliber signal caller. As long as the Houston defense continues to blow, Carr will be good for close to 30 attempts-per-game playing from behind. Don't be floored if he finishes with 23-26 touchdowns.
WEEK 5 FANTASY FLAMES Do you want to look like a pigskin prophet? Each week the Noise will dig deep for five no-so-obvious names to turn you into a gridiron guru. Here are this week's flame candidates:
Brad Johnson, Min, QB – Opponent: Det
Fearless Forecast: 276 YDs, 2 TDs, INT
Notes: One of the brainiest quarterbacks around, the savvy vet has averaged 34 attempts and a respectable 231.8 passing yards-per-game. Although Vikings head coach Brad Childress has been disappointed thus far with the slow implementation of the West Coast scheme, the laughable Lions will remedy any offensive ills this week. Detroit has allowed 319 gross passing yards since Week 2 and a league-high 10 passing touchdowns. Johnson has been sacked only once in his past two games and will again have plenty of pocket time to make crisp throws downfield to his big play money-man Troy Williamson. Available in 84 percent of Yahoo! leagues, he is undoubtedly a top-ten QB play in Week 5.
Damon Huard, KC, QB – Opponent: at Ari
Fearless Forecast: 212 YDs, 2 TDs
Notes: If you would have told me back in August that Huard would be flame worthy at any point this season I would of said you were huffing gasoline. This week, Huard travels to the desert to face an Arizona secondary that has yielded over 231 passing yards-per-game this season. The ghastly trench play of the Cardinals defensive line should open tractor trailer-sized holes for Larry Johnson, which will inevitably soften an already suspect secondary. Filling in for the woozy Trent Green, Huard has been an efficient engineer connecting on a pin-point accurate 71.2 percent of his passes and has utilized his main safety valve, Tony Gonzalez, flawlessly. Owned in less than one percent of Yahoo! leagues, Carson Palmer and Matt Hasselbeck owners need to toke off this Chief's productive pipe.
Joseph Addai, Ind, RB – Opponent:Ten
Fearless Forecast: 20 carries, 91 yards, TD, 3 receptions, 19 yards
Notes: Like a disheveled drug addict in search of another fix, I'm headed back to the Addai well this week. Over the last three weeks, the "tank-it" Titans have given up a staggering 205.6 rushing yards and seven ground touchdowns. The loose nickel D that Jeff Fisher has employed in Nashville will be picked apart by Peyton Manning, opening up massive holes for Addai and his partner in crime, Dominic Rhodes, to run through. Last week, the rookie ran exceptionally well in-between the tackles in New York carrying the pigskin a team-high 20 times for 84 yards and a touchdown. In what will surely be a blowout, Addai will again accumulate between 20-25 touches and emerge a first-rate No. 2 back.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jax, RB – Opponent: NYJ
Fearless Forecast: 10 carries, 48 YDs, 4 receptions, 42 YDs, TD
Notes: The spitting image of a real-life Umpa Lumpa, Jones-Drew will not post midget sized numbers against the Jets 25th-best rush defense. A low-rider at 5-foot-8, 205 pounds, the former UCLA Bruin is a mismatch for a Jets linebacker corps that had issues stopping versatile backs. Jack Del Rio continues to insist that the rookie will be worked more into the offense and with the Jets giving up over 164 rushing yards in their past two and seven ground touchdowns on the season, Jones-Drew could replicate numbers similar to his Week 3 outburst in Indy. With a host of marquee backs (Rudi Johnson, Warrick Dunn, and Shaun Alexander) on bye, he has a great shot at posting top-flight numbers even with limited touches. Trust him as a flex play in shallower leagues or as a No. 2 in deeper formats.
Doug Gabriel, NE, WR – Opponent: Mia
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 62 YDs, TD
Notes: Amazingly still available in 95 percent of Yahoo! leagues, the man I call "Doug E. Fresh" is going to drop some phat rhymes on a Dolphins team in search of an identity. Tom Brady is excited about Gabriel's increased role in the offense stating, "We have to continue to find ways to get Gabriel the ball." At 6-foot-2, Gabriel's large catch radius, fleet feet and precise routes makes him the ideal candidate to fill the void left by Deion Branch. With Miami cornerback Travis Daniels slowed by an ankle injury, Gabriel should gain adequate separation downfield. With 22 targets, 10 receptions, 122 yards and two scores since Week 3, the Dolphins will have difficulties keeping up the pace with this Patriot.
Travis Taylor, Min, WR – Opponent: Det
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 70 YDs, TD
Notes: My shocker selection of the week, Taylor will plunder a D-town secondary that yields a bountiful fantasy booty for receivers. Outside of cornerback Dre Bly the Lions have a bunch of house cats that would rather chase mice than defend the pass. Through their first four games, the Lions have allowed five receptions, 87.2 yards and three touchdowns to opposing No. 2 wideouts. With speedster Troy Williamson likely to draw Bly, Taylor will attract the eye of Brad Johnson repeatedly. Look for him to see about 10 targets this week and post terrific No. 3 numbers. Available in 99 percent of Yahoo! leagues, he is one-week gold waiting to be found.
New England D/ST – Opponent: Mia
Fearless Forecast: 5 sacks, INT, 13 points allowed
Notes: For those, like me, that use a stream tactic for team defenses, here is this week's waiver wire gem available in just under half of Yahoo! leagues. Pats QB eaters Jarvis Green and Richard Seymour should add to their combined 5.5 sacks on the season, devouring a Miami line that has allowed a NFL-high 21 Culpepper takedowns. Using a plethora of blitzes to limit the mighty Bengals offense to only 13 points and 279 total yards a week ago, the league's seventh-ranked defense will have a fish fry at home.
Week 5 FANTASY LAMES Worried about your awful matchups this week? The Noise lists five players that should be relegated to clipboard duty for your fantasy team. Here are this week's lame candidates:
Matt Leinart, Ari, QB – Opponent: KC
Fearless Forecast: 227 YDs, TD, 2 INTs, FL
Notes: Kansas City has snuffed out the pass in three contests this season limiting opponents to 121.7 passing yards-per-game and zero touchdowns. Given the horrific state of the Arizona offensive line – they've already allowed 13 sacks this season – and Leinart's sloth-like mobility, the Chiefs should put ample pressure on the pocket to rattle the inexperienced youngster. As I stated last week, it will be a two steps forward, one step back kind of year for the former Heisman Trophy winner.
Willie Parker, Pit, RB – Opponent: at SD
Fearless Forecast: 16 carries, 58 YDs, 3 receptions, 17 YDs
Notes: If you thought Albert Haynesworth's senseless foot stomp on Andre Gurode was painful, wait until you see Parker's fantasy numbers this week. Spearheaded by Mohawk trendsetter Shawne Merriman, the league's second-best rush defense has smothered ground games yielding a microscopic 66 rushing yards-per-game, zero touchdowns and the fewest fantasy points allowed to plowshares. Also, Parker has not performed admirably away from Heinz Field, averaging 55.1 yards-per-game, while totaling a paltry three scores in 12 starts. Sit him.
Willis McGahee, Buf, RB – Opponent: at Chi
Fearless Forecast: 22 carries, 72 YDs, 2 receptions, 14 Yds
Notes: The man who will be responsible for blinding hundreds of innocent women and children after I streak the downtown streets of Buffalo in a banana hammock in January, McGahee will save their eyes, at least for this week. The NFL rushing leader, averaging a stout 97.3 yards-per-game, McGahee is victim of the same ole' inability to score song and dance. The Bears have not allowed a touchdown to a running back this season and will keep that streak going this week at home. Although J.P. Losman and the Bills O-line have improved vastly this season, they still rank ninth in sacks allowed. Look for the Monsters of the Midway to overload the box and dare Losman to beat them through the air, which is bad news for McGahee owners.
Javon Walker, Den, WR – Opponent: Bal
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 46 Yds
Notes: Explosive in Week 3, Walker eradicated any concerns about his surgically repaired knee. This week, Walker will draw the attention of super corner Chris McAlister who has held his assignments to 1.7 receptions and 37 yards-per-game. With Rod Smith fully recovered from a concussion he suffered back in Week 2, look for Plummer to build a rhythm with his elder receiver on the wings, throwing away from the strength of the Ravens secondary. Only confide in Walker as a No. 3 in deep points-per-reception heavy formats.
Antonio Gates, SD, TE – Opponent: Pit
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 51 Yds
Notes: Where art thou Gates of '04 and '05? Currently ranked eighth among fantasy tight ends, Gates has been the victim of the conservative "Marty Ball." Led by linebacker James Farrior's blanket coverage, the Steelers have given up the sixth-fewest points to tight ends this year. Marty Schottenheimer said on Tuesday he would like to "find more ways to get him (Gates) the ball," but with a stingy Steelers linebacker battery on tap, it points to another LT dive left, LT dive right, night in San Diego. Despite his poor play, the Chargers coaching staff will eventually call Philip Rivers' number more often, making Gates a prime buy low target.
Scanning media reports with a fine-toothed comb, the Noise puts his fantasy spin on various tasty tidbits.
Eerily reminiscent to the Domanick Davis quandary in the preseason, the Philadelphia Inquirer stated that the team is growing increasingly concerned about Brian Westbrook's swelled knee.
Spin: After reading the news, my pants looked like I had a late-night encounter with Fudge 'Ems. As a worried Westbrook owner, the setback is very disconcerting. Eagles officials said they drained the knee a few weeks ago and will likely repeat the procedure this week due to the large amount of fluid build up. Obviously, the injury could linger and might, gulp, force Westbrook to the sidelines for an extended period of time. If he can play through it, the "questionable" cat-and-mouse game will be a weekly headache for his owners. Banana hands Correll Buckhalter needs to be added in 12-team and larger formats. Ryan Moats also becomes an attractive pick up in deeper leagues given Buckhalter's injury plagued past and fumble proneness.
The first half of last Monday's clash with the putrid Packers clearly showed the importance of Westbrook to the Eagles offense. Donovan McNabb was stagnant, bewildered and out-of-sync until the Green Bay secondary let the floodgates open in the third quarter. If Westbrook were sidelined this week or for several weeks to follow, McNabb's value would take a hit as he will struggle against more formidable foes (i.e. Dallas this weekend). Couple that with Donte' Stalloworth's hamstring bugaboo and it might be time to put the Chunky Soup maestro on the market. The top-rated quarterback in fantasy, McNabb will command enormous trade value, especially if you're in need of a top-tiered running back.
UNLEASH THE BEAST
Upset you don't have a forum to express your disdain for drafting Daunte Culpepper? 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?
How long before Yahoo! converts Marques Colston back to a WR only? This TE masquerade has gone on long enough! …
– Ryan, Birmingham, AL
Noise: Over the past three weeks, I have received numerous emails similar to Ryan's in regards to Colston and his rare WR/TE eligibility in Yahoo! leagues. Is he altering the landscape of fantasy? Sure, but he is hardly ruining the game. Heck, if you had listened to my advice in the August 31 edition of the Noise your sour grapes would be sweet lemons. In case you missed it, here is what I said:
"At 6-foot-4, 233 pounds, the Saints 7th Round selection out of Hofstra is a monstrosity known for his soft hands and break-tackle ability. Head coach Sean Payton has been very impressed with the youngster saying, "every time he puts on the pads, he's doing great things." Defenses will likely key on Joe Horn, opening up more open spaces for Colston to exploit. Deep points-per-reception leagues in need of receiver depth should take a chance. If Colston can fend off the more experienced Henderson, season totals around 50 receptions, 700 yards and 4-6 touchdowns are not improbable."
To clear the air about Colston's tight end eligibility, it stems primarily from an NFL.com scouting report released back in April that labeled the 6-foot-4, 233-pound receiver a "tweener." The report indicated whoever drafted him would probably convert the life-long wide receiver to tight end. Since our Yahoo! game launched in early June, before anyone outside of Long Island or New Orleans had heard of the guy, the designation stuck. The designation must now remain for the rest of the year.
On pace to obliterate my predictions (Pace: 80 REC, 1,344 Yds, 12 TDs), I'm not surprised by Colston's meteoric rise. Similar to Jake Delhomme, Drew Brees has always developed a man-crush for a specific target. In San Diego it was Antonio Gates and in 'Nawlins its Colston. Expect the big numbers to keep rolling in for arguably the biggest loophole in Yahoo! fantasy sports history.