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.
With Michael Vick throwing stiff arms on the prison yard, his former team, the Atlanta Falcons, is headed in a different, more positive direction, one which could produce fruitful fantasy yields for a certain hot-blooded back.
After a tumultuous year, Atlanta is once again in a period of reconstruction. Gone are the days of the Dirty Bird, Nike sponsored Vick amusement rides and midseason coaching desertions. In this rebuilding era, coveted offseason acquisition Michael Turner will be the organization's most dependable concrete pillar in fantasy and reality. Or so the Noise thinks …
Turner isn't fantasy's Bryant Gumbel
Unequivocally, the former LT handcuff is the most precious fantasy stone the Jewel of the South has to offer. At 5-foot-10, 245 pounds, he has the physical makeup, aggressiveness and speed of an enraged rhinoceros. His punishing style and deceptive open-field wheels are reminiscent of legendary bulldozers Campbell, Harris and Okoye. Intelligent, well-rounded and determined, he's the grease that slimes the pistons in Mike Mularkey's grinding scheme. Head coach Michael Smith believes the fifth-year back is one of the league's slipperiest runners, telling USA Today on Aug. 18:
"He's got home run speed as well as he's got a very low center of gravity," says Smith. "All you are seeing is shoulder pads and knees. There's not a lot of body surface to tackle him."
In three preseason contests, Turner was extremely difficult to wrangle. On just 13 carries, the 26-year-old ripped off 147 yards (11.3 YPC), including two explosive shuttles of 52 and 63 yards against the Colts on Aug. 16.
Critics maintain that Matt Ryan's inexperience combined with the Falcons' questionable defense and transitioning offensive line are major Turner deterrents. They also question whether he can shoulder 20-25 carries per game. The naysayers are only partially right.
Yes, Atlanta's faulty D will likely cause insurmountable deficits in several contests this year, which could lead to decreased backfield touches. If that does occur, Turner's ability to post favorable fantasy numbers would be occasionally limited. However, durability concerns would be eased under those circumstances, a silver lining. Additionally, Ryan, and shockingly the O-line, played better than advertised in the preseason, an excellent sign Turner will post profitable totals against weaker competition. Starting center Todd McClure firmly believes the strides he and his trench mates made in the preseason has helped them discover an identity. Per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
"I think we made a lot of progress during training camp, and this preseason we have definitely established an attitude about us," McClure said. "Once you've got that, you can work on everything else."
If the blocking hogs replicate that hubris Week 1, Turner will be highly sought after come Monday. The Falcons' Sunday opponent, Detroit, surrendered 178.3 total yards, 1.4 touchdowns and 26.1 fantasy points per game to rushers last season, the most in virtual pigskin. Minus premiere run stopper Shaun Rogers, who is now in Cleveland, the Lions could be manhandled in the trenches which could mean 100-120 rushing yards and 1-2 scores for Atlanta's workhorse.
Look for "The Burner", who was traded this week straight up for Anquan Boldin, Earnest Graham, Jonathan Stewart, Edgerrin James and Carson Palmer in one-for-one Y! Plus league transactions, to make the A-T-L "hot" once again.
Week 1 Fearless Forecast: 22 carries, 117 rushing 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 1 Fantasy Flames|
|Lowdown: Unlike hard-partying teammate Matt Leinart, Warner does bible bongs. It's because of that sacred ritual combined with an insanely favorable matchup against the 49ers that you should count on the Sultan of Stubble for top-five QB totals. Confident that he can still play at a "high level," the 37-year-old gunslinger still delivers an accurate ball with excellent zip on short-to-intermediate pass plays. San Fran defensive backs Nate Clements and Walt Harris will be completely outmatched. Arizona's dynamic receiving duo of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin could easily help Warner surpass 300 yards passing in his season debut. Recall that last year against the Niners the ageless wonder completed nearly 71 percent of his passes for 484 yards and two scores. If the Cards offensive line can protect the sack-vulnerable Warner adequately, open mouth post-game Brenda Warner kisses are a certainty. Confidently start him over Matt Hasselbeck (at Buf), Jay Cutler (at Oak) and Marc Bulger (at Phi) in 12-team leagues.|
|Fearless Forecast: 31-42, 326 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions|
|Lowdown: The former wacky tobacky connoisseur, current Zen master and future Doogie Howser of osteopathy will unleash his inner dragon this week against the suddenly likable Jets. In preseason play, Ricky ran with noticeable conviction compiling a stout 4.4 YPC mark in three contests. Tony Sparano's tough-love approach has revived Williams' mean streak and renewed the confidence of a storied organization humiliated a season ago, as the rusher told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Sept. 2, "They make everyone accountable. The feeling I get from Tony is he's not going to let us lose." Sure, the addition of D-line parapet Kris Jenkins beefs up a Jets unit that conceded 156.2 total yards per game and 17 scores to rushers in '07, the 4th most fantasy points yielded, but Miami's underrated offensive line should create plenty of gaps for Ricky to blast through. Additionally, Chad Pennington's ability to keep his old team honest vertically will prevent Williams from seeing many seven and eight man fronts. Yes, Ronnie Brown will be involved in some unknown capacity, but it appears Sticky Icky will receive at least 60 percent of the touches and presumably most, if not all, the goal-line carries. Have holistic faith in the 31-year-old back as an RB2 in 12-team leagues.|
|Fearless Forecast: 22 carries, 93 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 13 receiving yards, 1 touchdown|
|Lowdown: Thankfully, this Kevin Smith would never force you to endure two hours of "Jersey Girl." With newly signed Rudi Johnson just over his shoulder, Smith needs to make a pronounced statement in his regular season debut. Against a smallish Falcons front, the third-round pick from Central Florida will be the offensive focus in Rod Marinelli's reconfigured conservative attack. The rookie's more bash-than-flash style, cutback ability and sharp vision blend perfectly with Detroit's zone-blocking scheme. In college Smith shouldered an enormous workload, which likely means he'll be counted on heavily until Rudi digests the playbook and retrieves his heisted attire from Tatum Bell. Atlanta's defensive strength is clearly on the ends, which could lead the youngster to several up-the-gut exploitations. Throw in a DeAngelo Hall-less secondary and the Lions could feast on the Falcons in the trenches. On paper, this game has shootout written all over it. Even with the added Rudi pressure on the youngster, he'll shine vibrantly in his inaugural performance. Consider him an elite RB2 in 12-team leagues.|
|Fearless Forecast: 21 carries, 89 rushing yards, 2 receptions 11 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns|
|Lowdown: Jon Gruden may believe Galloway has a future with Siegfried and Roy, but the "White Tiger's" opening week numbers won't be illusionary. Sidelined for the entire preseason recuperating from shoulder surgery and a minor groin injury, Galloway is a classic high-risk, high-reward play. Participating in just four full practices, he's experienced limited contact. However, Gruden feels he's ready to go, commenting to the Tampa Tribune on Aug. 27, "He looks great." In his quietly effective career, Galloway has massacred the Saints. Last season, he torched them for 11 catches, 294 yards and two scores in two contests. 'Nawlins added corner Randall Gay to fortify one of the NFL's worst secondaries. Still, they will again be very vulnerable against the pass. At 36, Galloway still possesses gazelle speed and although he's probably not in the greatest "football shape" he should post banner numbers. Remember the Saints allowed the most fantasy points to wideouts in '07. Activate Galloway in all formats.|
|Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 103 receiving yards, 1 touchdown|
|Lowdown: Grossly underappreciated, Houston's top possession receiver will melt Steely's McBeam in Pittsburgh. Because Andre Johnson played sparingly in the preseason, fast-rising signal caller Matt Schaub and Walter reinforced their tight bond from a season ago connecting 13 times for 166 yards and two scores. That percolating chemistry should be extremely useful against a Steelers defense that relishes applying pressure on the quarterback. Given Houston's questionable running game and Pittsburgh's insatiable appetite for plowshares, Schaub will be forced airborne often. Since Dick LeBeau is fond of zone coverage, Andre Johnson will be double-teamed routinely, which could spike Walter targets in the short-field. He likely won't rack many explosive pass plays but abundant 7-12 yard receptions are to be expected. Count on the Texans' version of Ed McCaffrey for serviceable No. 3 totals, especially in PPR-friendly formats.|
|Fearless Forecast: 7 receptions, 88 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns|
|Shocker Special of the Week|
|Lowdown: Tenacious, fearless and self-assured, the diminutive Hall is Denver's Scrappy Doo. Even though he seems undersized for the role (5-foot-10, 212-pounds) it appears Hall will be the Broncos' primary goal-line back. Against the rival Raiders, he should receive plenty of red-zone opportunities. Oakland's outstanding corner duo of Nnamdi Asomugha and DeAngelo Hall will force Lucifer Shanahan to lean upon the Broncos' smash-mouth game in the Monday Night capper. Injury prone defensive tackle Tommy Kelly is expected to fill the shoes of Warren Sapp, but based on the entire unit's 31st-ranked rush defense a season ago, his play, no matter how superb, won't completely resolve the Raiders' issues against the run. Lucifer will feature Selvin Young between the 20s, but Hall should total an uncharacteristically high number of touches given his punishing between-the-tackles character. Owners in 12-team and deeper leagues who have questionable flex options should plug n' play the widely available Hall. He's the next in the long line of Denver Backs to emerge from underneath obscurity's shadow.|
|Fearless Forecast: 15 carries, 62 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 10 receiving yards, 1 touchdown|
|Week 1 Fantasy Lames|
|Lowdown: Ask anyone from Joe Montana to Jason Campbell and they'll tell you, Al Saunders can hinder statistical output. Even though Steven Jackson's contract dispute kept him sidelined the entire preseason, he's expected to handle a vigorous workload in Philadelphia, which could mean fewer opportunities for the constantly bruised Bulger. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson blitzes relentlessly, which could spell trouble for a Rams offensive line that surrendered 48 QB takedowns in '07, the fourth-most in the NFC. Grasping Saunders' ridiculously complex offense can be an excruciating process, an indication that it could take weeks for the Rams to reach peak offensive maturity. Bulger expressed some concern about absorbing Saunders' diversified scheme telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Aug. 24, "We started out a little shaky the first week of training camp, but we just continue to get better, so I think that since we haven't gone backwards in practice, we didn't play during the game last week, but in our practices we have look great, the effort has been there and that's the most important thing." Philly yielded just 231.1 passing yards and one touchdown per contest last year, the eighth fewest fantasy points to QBs. Given the harsh environment, shaky offensive line and Saunders' complicated philosophy, anticipate Bulger to struggle mightily.|
|Fearless Forecast: 17-29, 209 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 3 interceptions|
|Lowdown: Grant could be following one-hit wonder Gerardo's career path. Sitting out all but one series of exhibition play because of a contract holdout and balky hamstring, last year's waiver wire savior isn't exactly in mint physical condition. His lack of preseason reps combined with an unsightly matchup against man-eaters Pat and Kevin Williams is why he's untrustworthy in Week 1. Minnesota allowed a mere 3.2 YPC and the second fewest fantasy points to rushers last season. Yes, Grant shredded the Vikes for 139 total yards and a score in Week 10, but with the inexperienced Aaron Rodgers behind center, the Packer backer will likely see several seven and eight man fronts. Rodgers, who showed remarkable accuracy in exhibition play, will take advantage of vulnerable spots in coverage, which could create some voids for Grant to exploit. However, Brandon Jackson, who Mike McCarthy called a "breakout candidate" in late July, is expected to snake 10-12 carries from the incumbent. The bottom line: Grant, who missed practice Tuesday, isn't prepared to tote a full load, which explains why McCarthy wants to feature Jackson more prominently. Bench him in shallow 12-team leagues.|
|Fearless Forecast: 16 carries, 56 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 12 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns|
|Lowdown: Taking on a more nurturing role, Grand-Ma-Ma is KC's Mother Goose. However, expect LJ to turn into a down pillow in Foxboro. Bill Belichick's base 3-4 defense is highly malleable and mobile, which should cause numerous headaches for unpolished QB Brodie Croyle. If the Chiefs are unable to stretch the field with regularity, Johnson will be stymied repeatedly at the line. After an embarrassing '07, KC's offensive line was overhauled. Clearly a unit in transition, it will be problematic for them to create exploitable space against sun-blotter Vincent Wilfork. In 16 contests last season, the Pats conceded just five rushing touchdowns to plowshares. Sure LJ could rack numbers in garbage time, but being early in the year, Herm Edwards may want to get rookie Jamaal Charles touches in the event of a blowout. Johnson should be a viable No. 1 in 12-team leagues this year, but anticipate another sluggish start similar to '07. Darren McFadden (vs. Den), Edgerrin James (at SF) and Ricky Williams (vs. NYJ) are more trustworthy options.|
|Fearless Forecast: 18 carries, 62 rushing yards, 3 receptions 18 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns|
|Lowdown: The Big Easy luckily dodged Hurricane Gustav but it will be difficult for its pigskin citizens to escape the wrath of Monte Kiffin's swarming Cover 2 storm. The Saints high-octane spread is possibly the most feared offense in the NFC. Defenders are repeatedly thinned out to create space for Drew Brees to pick people apart. However, the Bucs' well-copied Cover 2 is still one of the NFL's best schemes against the pass. Last year, the Pursuers in Pewter held quarterbacks to 183.4 yards per game, the fewest in fantasy. Because Tampa defenders collapse quickly on the ball, long pass plays are a rarity against them. In '07, the Bucs surrendered just two pass plays of 20-plus yards, the second-fewest in the NFL. Yes, Colston is an elite receiver who should never be benched when healthy but don't count on headline-grabbing numbers this week. In two contests against Tampa last season he averaged 5.5 receptions and 54.5 yards per game. Given the meteorological distractions, unfavorable matchup and Colston's incessant scrapes, WR3, not WR1, tallies are projected.|
|Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 58 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns|
|Lowdown: The NFL's Prince will fall victim to Baltimore's "Purple Rain" during his official Ocho Cinco unveiling. Yes, the Ravens may be without the hard-hitting services of safety Ed Reed, but Johnson, who is playing with a partially torn labrum, will be jammed incessantly at the line in an attempt to shatter his inflated ego. Plus, the uncertainty of the Bengals running game could mean an increase in double teams on No. 85. Johnson did play admirably in two games against the Ravens last year, snagging nine receptions for 168 yards and a touchdown. He should be considered a desirable WR3 play in 12-team formats, but the crystal ball projects marginal totals. Kevin Walter (at Pit), Santana Moss (at NYG) and Patrick Crayton (at Cle) are stronger options in the Noise's book this week than Chad.|
|Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 62 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns|
I don't care what anyone says Noise, the ganja-esque Ricky jokes will never get old. Well maybe not never, but its still a good while before imagining "Sticky Ricky" sneaking off behind the lockers to devour a "laced brownie" officially gets played out. I have to commend Hydro Ricky's place on your team of manfatuation. If he can stay healthy and takes his hits from big D-backs rather than from Billy Bong Thorton, there's gonna be a sweet new strain of fantasy production in south Florida. – Ray, Ft. Worth, TX
Classic stuff Brad regarding Ricky being 1 laced brownie away from a permanent vacation; it had me bent over with laughter. I hope he bakes that cake as I have Ronnie Brown on my team..– Eric, Bangkok, Thailand
BRAD YOU ARE THE MAN I love your fantasy advice so much, you are by far the best I have read/seen. Every Sunday for the last two years me and my buddy get together at 9 am for "Fantasy Football Live." We call it BREAKFAST WITH BRAD and we make a huge breakfast and LOVE your advice, no one can come up with better nicknames and one-liners than you can man. Anyway, just wanted to show you my love.– Tom, Seattle, Wash.
Noise: I have an uncomfortable feeling in the not-so-distant future "The Baconator" will replace "The Big Noise" as many readers' moniker of choice for yours truly.
Brad I gotta ask man, why not DeSean "Fraction" Jackson. I mean he looks amazing this preseason with an absurd YAC. I mean all you have to do is give the guy the ball and he is gone. He is averaging over 10 Y/C and is an amazing return guy. He may not get a ton of goal-line catches due to Westbrook, but he is an amazing PPR guy with tons of upside for Philly's D if you get points for returns. I know you have been scouting this guy, so what's the deal, why doesn't he make the cut? – CJ, Las Vegas, Nev.
Noise: CJ, if you're so confident Jackson will be an "amazing PPR" guy, head down to the Station Casino and place an over/under bet on his total catches for the year, which is probably around 55. The over is definitely not improbable. With Kevin Curtis out the first six weeks of the season, the youngster will certainly see a spike in targets operating out of the "Z" slot. But I'm taking the under all day.
If Calvin Johnson, who was arguably the most physically gifted receiver to enter the leagues since Randy Moss, could only muster 6.6 fantasy points per game (42nd among WRs) playing in Mike Martz's pass-till-you-puke offense in his rookie season, the odds of Jackson developing into "an amazing PPR guy" this year are minute. Hell, Javon Walker has better chances of waking up on Flamingo poorer and broken-faced again than "Fraction" does averaging more than 7.0 FPPG.
Sure, he was Donovan McNabb's favorite target in preseason play (11 REC, 138 YDs), but he's still the second and possibly third option behind Westbrook and Reggie Brown (when healthy). When matchups are user-friendly, like this week against a soft Rams secondary, the rookie will be particularly useful as a No. 3 in 12-team and deeper leagues. But anticipate final season totals around, 50 receptions, 661 yards and four touchdowns.
You're so delusional about Mendenhall, where did you get the idea that he was/is a power back? "One of the few knocks on Mendenhall coming in was that he didn't run hard enough between the tackles and relied on his athleticism too often, as opposed to just lowering his shoulders and getting the tough yards." - James Walker ESPN AFC North Blog– Ye Olde Patriots, Boston, Mass.
Noise: Look Tom Brady spooner, although the Noise may recreationally use hallucinogenic mushrooms (not really), my Mendenhall scouting report was far from "delusional." Do you take everything you read as the gospel? If you do, hopefully you had a top-three pick and circumvented Adrian Peterson.
As a native of Champaign, Illinois, I watched every single Rushard snap during his three-year tenure in Orange and Blue. A secondary view from a scout isn't necessarily accurate in this case.
After digesting hundreds of Mendenhall runs both in person and on television I can confidently say he's more power than athleticism. Sure, he could show some improvement in pad level, but power backs get most of their strength from the lower, not upper, body. Do you truly believe he racked a 6.7 career YPC mark in college on sheer nimbleness? From my first-hand accounts, many of those yards came after initial contact.
Replay the Pittsburgh/Minnesota exhibition highlights and you'll understand Mendenhall moves with more conviction than the Mouse House would lead you to believe.
His role may currently be undefined, but "The Undertaker" will eventually earn the trust of Mike Tomlin once he remedies his fumbling issues. When he achieves that, probably no later than Week 8, he'll undoubtedly become a steady workhorse inside the 10. Six-plus scores are not out of the question, yet.
Bradley, here's my question: When was the last time an NFL rookie made a notable fantasy impact in a season (Adrian Peterson is not a viable answer)? As an aside, your man-crush on the Moderately Strong Rashard Mendenhall is too much lust and not enough love. As a rookie, his impact in comparison to the Moderately Fast Willie Parker will not be major. Probabilistically, this rookie RB will produce just average fantasy stats.– Mike, Brookfield, Wis.
Noise: Mike, just a hunch, but I'm guessing you are the type of person who gets charged up whenever you see geometric proofs, statistical Z-tests and quadratic equations. Hey, there's nothing wrong with being a mathlete.
Probabilistically, you've been very busy playing World of Warcraft on Sundays instead of closely watching the impact rookie runners have made over the past two seasons. Outside of Peterson, several first-year plowshares have performed terrifically for their owners. Last year, Marshawn Lynch averaged 13.2 FPPG, the 10th highest mark at his position. Meanwhile in 2006, Joseph Addai totaled over 1400 yards and eight scores. And in that same year, the "Oompa Loompa" Maurice Jones-Drew compiled 14.2 FPPG, which ranked 8th among RBs. Others such as Mike Bell, Reggie Bush and Selvin Young left small, but meaningful marks on teams in deeper leagues.
Not once in last week's passionate Mendenhall endorsement did I note he would make a "major impact." He was categorized as a rookie runner who could be deemed "consistent" for those in deeper leagues (12 teams-plus). In an eight or 10-team league, which is presumably the format you play in, he will probably be mundane. But for those who relish challenging formats, Rushard will be a more than adequate RB3/4 by midseason.
SILENCE THE NOISE CHALLENGE
Week 1 contestant: Brian from Dallas, TX