"Freaks come out at night." – Whodini
Forget about jack-o-lanterns, candy corn and kiddy costumes, Halloween is all about one thing for adults: Attracting members of the opposite sex. When the sun sets on October 31st, conservative soccer moms and college babes across the country are given an excuse to dress as provocative nurses, French maids and, for those Jabba the Huts out there, bikini-clad Princess Leahs. And for those of us that rummage through Internet resources at least an hour per day in search of statistics and injury news, we hope they play fantasy football.
If you're a fantasy guy who has yet to come up with a clever, witty outfit to wear at a ghoulish party, listen to the Noise. Here are my top-five "fantasy fashions" to get a chuckle out of your league-mates and find that vixen who loathes game-time decisions just as much as you.
5. Handfuls of Polamalu
To mock Larry Johnson's WWE takedown from Week 6, find a black curly-haired wig, a Polamalu jersey and entangle a football glove in the shaggy mess. If the disguise isn't getting the reaction you want, bring along a guitar, a pair of shades and a stove-piped black hat to morph into ex-GNR rocker Slash.
4. Chad Mohawk Head
For $30, this is the easiest way to take home prize money and a football savvy beautiful baby. Just don't forget to take out the 24-karat gold grill when you make a move.
3. The Fantasy Riddlers
Riddle me this. Riddle me that. Brian Westbrook and Donte' Stallworth's last-minute injury games have made many teams go splat. As an anti-tribute to their evil game-time decisions, call up a buddy and come to a party wearing Eagles jerseys covered in question marks.
2. Oompha-Loompah Doompah-Dee Doo
If you want to look like Maurice Jones-Drew, all you need is a bottle of orange glow, green hair-dye and a little teal and black. To accentuate the tree-trunk legs, add Nerf balls.
1. The T.O. Show
You could go Tour de Oxnard and sport a Team Discovery bicycle shirt and helmet. But, better yet, find a cardboard cylinder and transform yourself into an Owens "wacky pills" prescription bottle.
WEEK 8 FANTASY FLAMES
Do you want to look like a pigskin prophet? Each week the Noise will dig deep for seven no-so-obvious names to turn you into a gridiron guru. Here are this week's flame candidates, including a special Halloween bonus play for all you little fantasy goblins:
Damon Huard, KC, QB – Opponent: Sea
Fearless Forecast: 271 YDs, 2 TDs
Notes: Lambasted continuously by my boy Brandon Funston for an interception he threw 12 years ago as a Washington Husky at rival Oregon, even the "Commish" has come to appreciate Huard and his 7:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. An unsung fantasy hero, the six-year vet has filled in brilliantly for Trent Green. Ranked sixth in the NFL with a completion percentage of 63.8, the efficient engineer will skin a suspect Seahawks secondary that has yielded 256.8 yards and two passing scores-per-game over their past five. Pin-point precise in short-to-medium range pass plays, look for Huard to connect with his money man Tony Gonzalez several times en route to a top-15 QB day. Available in 95 percent of Yahoo! leagues, he is a must add plug n' play if you're an owner in need.
Tony Romo, Dal, QB – Opponent: at Car
Fearless Forecast: 248 YDs, 2 TDs, 2INT, 17 rushing yards
Notes: "Rambo" has enough loaded weapons to single-handedly destroy North Korea and the Panthers. After dinosaur Drew Bledsoe sunk to the bottom of the tar pit on Monday, a wild-eyed Romo performed admirably totaling 227 yards, two touchdowns and three picks. Rough around the edges mentally, Romo excels physically. A mobile, nimble passer who fearlessly threads the needle, he will be the Tuna's go-to-guy for the remainder of the season. This week, the Eastern Illinois product travels to Carolina to face a Panthers D that has given up 248 passing yards-per-game and six air strikes over their past four. Look for Parcells to call close-range plays to Jason Witten and Terrell Owens to build Romo's confidence and limit mistakes. By far the hottest pick-up of the week, anticipate top-15 numbers in a must win for the Boys.
Travis Henry, Ten, RB – Opponent: Hou
Fearless Forecast: 24 carries, 122 YDs, TD
Notes: It's not the creamy nougat center that makes this Henry so Oh!, it's his lumbering legs. After a couple of siesta seasons, Henry has regained the power that helped him rack over 2,800 yards and 23 touchdowns from 2002-2003. Diminutive and squatty with a low center of gravity, Henry has bulldozed his way to two straight 100-yard games, including a 178-yard scalping of the Washington Redskins in Week 6. With an inexperienced Vince Young behind center, expect Jeff Fisher to pound away at a feeble, albeit improving, Texans frontline that has given up 114 ground yards and two touchdowns in their last three. Undervalued by many owners, Henry will continue to explode behind a formidable Titans O-line. Trust him as a No. 2 in all leagues.
Leon Washington, NYJ, RB – Opponent: at Cle
Fearless Forecast: 18 carries, 93 YDs, TD
Notes:Leon the "Leprechaun" will find his pot o' gold in Cleveland this week. Last week versus Detroit, Washington had a breakout effort totaling 20 carries for 129 yards (6.4 YPC) and two touchdowns. Although Eric Mangini remains stubborn on a committee approach, Washington has to get the lion's share of touches after last week's explosion. The Jets are beginning to jell in the trenches and with a Browns rush D on tap that has allowed 154 yards-per-game and two scores over their past three, it points to another high-flying day for this Jet. Available in a mind-blowing 93 percent of Yahoo! leagues, it's time to believe.
Bryant Johnson, Ari, WR – Opponent: at GB
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 99 YDs, TD
Notes: In Green Bay, Hitchcock's macabre classic "The Birds" will come to life with Matt Leinart, Anquan Boldin and Johnson leading the way. With Denny Green in no hurry to rush All-Pro receiver Larry Fitzgerald back from a pulled hammy, Johnson will again get the start against the league's worst pass defense. In Fitzgerald's stead, BJ has crossed the chalk twice and averaged a respectable 7.6 targets, 3.6 receptions and 62 yards-per-game. The Cards coaching staff will turn to Edgerrin James more this week to take pressure off Leinart and silence the Green Bay blitz. This should help open up more man coverage situations for Johnson, who should gain adequate separation with his speedy wheels. Expect Leinart to get back on track and look deep downfield to connect with his No. 2 on a couple of home runs.
Eric Parker, SD, WR – Opponent: StL
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 74 YDs, TD
Notes: Here's a shocker: Parker puts a charge into the Rams in Week 8. Still available in 95 percent of Yahoo! leagues, the sure-handed, slick wideout has flown under the fantasy radar over the past three weeks averaging a trustworthy 7.3 targets, 4.6 receptions and 71 yards-per-game. "Marty Ball" has essentially been abandoned in three straight games as a fast rising Philip Rivers has averaged a healthy 39.6 attempts-per-game – the second most in the league since Week 5. Also, the loss of Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips has made the once dominate Chargers D suddenly vulnerable, which points to a high scoring affair and lots of Parker targets. Air attacks have shredded the Rams, who have given up the third-most fantasy points to receivers over the past three weeks. Start him as a No. 3.
Ruvell Martin, GB, WR – Opponent: Ari
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 73 YDs
Notes: Listen young grasshopper! Martin is a ninja in the darkness who could pack a hurtful karate chop. With Greg Jennings listed as doubtful for Sunday's clash against the desert birds and Robert Ferguson out for the year, Martin vaults from No. 4 to starter opposite Donald Driver in less than a week. At 6-foot-4, the Packer skyscraper has the size to be effective in man coverage versus 5-foot-11 corner Eric Green. Arizona gave up a ridiculous 263 yards to rancid Raiders QB Andrew Walter in Week 7 and will have issues stopping Brett Favre. Don't expect a Frisman Jackson-like one-time tally, but reliable No. 3 totals are in store for this virtual unknown available in 99.8 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Kansas City D/ST – Opponent: Sea
Fearless Forecast: 13 points allowed, 4 sacks, 2 INTs
Notes: The Grim Reaper is in Seattle. No Matt Hasselbeck. No Shaun Alexander. And the offensive line is in dire need of a Band-Aid. It will be a colossal defensive day for the Chiefs. This week's Big Noise shocker special, KC will shine as a top-ten defense. Look for defensive end Jared Allen to feast on a Seattle O-line that has surrendered 13 sacks in their past three. Seneca Wallace is a fleet-footed, mobile quarterback that can disrupt defenses, but his inexperience makes him turnover prone. Available in 89 percent of Yahoo! leagues, the Chiefs will massacre the competition.
WEEK 8 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:
Chad Pennington, NYJ, QB – Opponent: at Cle
Fearless Forecast: 181 YDs, TD, INT
Notes: On paper, the physical, aggressive Jets receivers outmatch Cleveland's corners, but what really makes the Browns frown is their rush defense. Anticipate Eric Mangini to increase the workload of sparkplug Leon Washington and attack the line. Hot out of the gate, Pennington has simmered lately averaging just 145 yards-per-game with a 3:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his past three contests. Plus, the Browns rank fifth in fewest points allowed to signal callers and have surrendered a meager 149 air yards-per-game since Week 5. The matchup seems enticing, but don't be deceived.
Joseph Addai, Ind, RB – Opponent: at Den
Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 51 YDs, 3 receptions, 18 YDs
Notes: In the battle of AFC thoroughbreds, Addai is destined for Kibbles N' Bits. The Broncos are the only defense in the NFL that has yet to yield a rushing touchdown this season. They have given up the third-fewest fantasy points and a microscopic 67.3 yards-per-game to runners this season. Run stopper Gerrard Warren is a nightmare in the middle and the triple linebacker threat of Ian Gold, Al Wilson and D.J. Williams combine to make the Denver D inflexible on the ground. Tony Dungy will turn to Peyton Manning more to expose weaknesses in the Denver secondary. After a string of solid performances, Addai needs to be shelved.
Laurence Maroney, NE, RB – Opponent: at Min
Fearless Forecast: 12 carries, 29 YDs
Notes: Ditch Maroney this week like the Peanuts gang did Linus in the "The Great Pumpkin." Torrid out of the gates, Maroney has spooked owners of late averaging a paltry 2.6 yards-per-carry in his past two. Anchored by the dynamic duo of Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, the Vikings have choked the run, limiting opponents to a league-low 53.7 rushing yards-per-game since Week 3. Bill Belichick will lean more on Tom Brady to pick apart the Vikings Cover 2 scheme, which makes Sir Laurence a very risky play in his return to Minnesota.
Joey Galloway, TB, WR – Opponent: at NYG
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 32 YDs
Notes: Does Joey-G like powdered, cake, or glazed donuts? Notching his second catchless game of the season against the Eagles in Week 7, Galloway has been all or nothing this year. In his three prosperous games, he has averaged six catches for 112 yards-per-game and totaled two touchdowns. Meanwhile, in his three snoozers, he has totaled one pass for eight yards. The susceptibility of the banged up Bucs O-line will come to fruition against a red-hot Giants defense that has compiled 13 sacks and forced six turnovers in their past two. Bruce Gradkowski is becoming a legend in the eyes of the Tampa faithful, but he is still an erratic rookie that can accumulate miscues when the pressure is on, especially on the road. The G-men have given up the fifth-fewest points to wideouts since Week 5 and will make Galloway owners frustrated again.
Darrell Jackson, Sea, WR – Opponent: at KC
Fearless Forecast: 3 receptions, 44 YDs
Notes: D-Jax sees dead people and one of them is Seneca Wallace. Targeted seven times, catching four passes for 42 yards with Wallace running the show, the two appeared to have a good rapport as the Seahawks mounted a feeble comeback attempt versus the Vikings last Sunday. The Chiefs have been torched by the pass of late allowing 269 yards-per-game and seven touchdowns in their last three, but Wallace's inexperience and the decrepit state of the Seattle O-line gives the offense a minimal chance at success in KC. Mike Holmgren will utilize Wallace's mobility to its fullest, but look for the novice starter to turn away from D-Jax and focus more on his grease-man Deion Branch in short, safe pass plays.
Scanning media reports with a fine-toothed comb, the Noise puts his fantasy spin on various tasty tidbits.
The NFL's leading rusher Tiki Barber reiterated his firm stance on retirement at the end of the season.
Spin: Much has been made about Barber's early retirement and the subsequent impact on the Giants organization, but from a fantasy perspective, experts have not addressed the keeper potential of behemoth Brandon Jacobs.
I want to make this very clear, the man-crush I have for Jacobs is obsessive, unrivaled and, quite frankly, a threat to my marriage. At 6-foot-4, 264 pounds the G-Men bruiser is a physical freak of nature who fits his "Frankenstein" nickname perfectly. Impossible to bring down in the open field on first contact, Jacobs' enormous, powerful frame and deceptive speed strikes fear into tacklers. Mark my words: he will be a fantasy superstar next season. His brute strength and durability should make him a late first round pick in 2007 drafts and a player keeper leagues must target NOW. I would not be shocked if he compiles 1,500 yards and 12-15 touchdowns and becomes the next "big thing" in fantasy.
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?
Apparently, fantasy football is not always about the matchup. I sat L.J. and lost 10 points in my league. If you were around I'd figure out a way to force you to eat a golf ball.
– Matt, Kansas City, Missouri
Do Titleist balls come chocolate covered?
For those that missed it, I did my best Charles Darwin impersonation last week and defied conventional wisdom by questioning the "always start your studs" theory. Here is what I said:
Sure, a so called stud could produce a big game at anytime, but rarely does a premiere back rack enormous totals against a staunch defense. For example, Larry Johnson has a brutal matchup versus San Diego's third-ranked rush defense this week. Do you bench him in favor of say a Kevin Jones who faces a weak Jets front? Absolutely. Fantasy is all about matchups and Jones gives you the best opportunity for a lucrative payday. If the matchup is enticing, chase temptation.
Final fantasy score: KJ 20.3; LJ 28.1. Crap!
Naturally, hindsight is always 20/20 and a plethora of backlash hit my inbox. Some reactions said I should feel "ashamed," while one appreciative fellow called me "an idiot tool." Hey, it goes with the territory.
My justification for such a recommendation did push the envelope. It was a suggestion for desperate owners to take risks to try and turn the tide. It was not to be taken as gospel. Am I mad? Probably, but the purpose of the comment was to think outside the box. Unfortunately, my philosophical experiment blew up right in front of my face.
By definition, a stud is a player who has proven historical consistency and top-10 dependability at his respective position. They can also be viewed in terms of different ability levels. Similar to tiering entire positions on draft-day cheat sheets, players need to be organized and ranked according to their consistencies. Here is how I group the top RBs based on consistency:
Most Consistent, Must Starts: LaDanian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson (I will never doubt him again, even if it's the '85 Bears), Brian Westbrook, Clinton Portis, Tiki Barber
Many fantasy experts will tell you NEVER to sit any of the top two tiers above for any reason. To me, this is complete lunacy.
Looking at the top tier, it's hard to disprove the popular "studs" theory. In fact, they are the only reliable RBs who should be in starting lineups at all times and are the true pioneers for the general thinking. However, the group below is interchangeable and can lead fantasy owners into believing in foolish consistency. For example, if a player like Thomas Jones faces a poor run defense, such as the Washington Redskins, and Rudi Johnson is matched against a stifling Pittsburgh front, it's safe to assume that T.J. will likely outplay Rudi. The educated owner would then make the necessary substitution and reap the potential benefits. Of course, as Larry Johnson proved, the specter of unpredictability always looms.