Sunday, August 26, 2007

You Just Might Learn Something Today

Before I tackle the important matters, let me adress TwinKilling cohort Cam Carey: Hey idiot, stop taking everything I write literally. Also, you should use more capital letters...they're really EFFECTIVE!

Now that I've squashed that bug, have a peek at my Sunday night fantasy football project. Wess and I came up with the idea to blindly email 15-20 questions to each other on the topic of fantasy football and posting the answers in this space. Since I think I'm a fantasy expert, and since Wess technically is one (see his page), we felt as if this was the best way for us to serve the fine readers of this very decent website.

(Note: This might be a horrible decision on my part when you consider that I have a draft Monday night with people who would rather see me lose then to actually triumph themselves. Oh well.)

OK, the top section is Wess asking me questions and--stay with me, people--the bottom section is my questions to Wess. Understood? Enjoy...

1. Who is Andy Gresh on ESPN Radio? I was listening to this guy for 20 minutes today, and his created controversy of the day: "What's the difference between Travis Henry, Matt Leinart, and Tom Brady? They've all had babies out of wedlock." Gee, you think maybe it's because Travis Henry makes Shawn Kemp look like A.C. Green and he had to be dragged into the courtroom for child support? Nine kids with nine different women! Brady has one child from a long-term relationship, he took time away from his team to go to the hospital while the baby was being born, and he will be heavily involved in his child's life. No difference, right Andy? You dolt. Nine kids! Nine women!

Brad speaks: Never heard of Andy Gresh, but he's clearly more talented than me. Also, you sound like Brady's publicist--calm down. As for Travis Henry...did you ever think that maybe the condom broke nine times?

2. Speaking of Travis Henry, why are people so high on him this year? His value has been in a ditch for two years, and he's never been an above average runner. Throw in Shanahan's fickle nature, the presence of Mike Bell, and Henry's fumble & injury history, and it's a head-scratcher.

Brad speaks: Call me stupid, but I'm buying the Travis Henry hype. I'd certainly rather have him over Mike Anderson, Reuben Droughns, Tatum Bell and/or Mike Bell (aka the guys after Portis). Henry was pretty damn good last season, and he's certainly more talented than Mike Bell--I wouldn't be surprised to see a 1,500 yard, 15 TD season for him.

Also, you said "he's never been an above average runner." To that, I say...REALLY? Was his 2002 season of 1,438 yards and 13 TDs just plain old average? Or perhaps below average? Stop drinking so much hairspray.

Also also, the fumbling concern doesn't bother me unless it's a chronic, all-time-bad situation. Eric Dickerson, Jamal Lewis and Tiki Barber (to name a few) have all had fumbling issues, but managed to remain the starting RB because their backup wasn't anywhere near as good.

3. Could Ingle Martin or Chris Simms start for the Kansas City Chiefs if they had 3rd round "promise" like Brodie Croyle? Carl Peterson is a cretin.

Brad speaks: How do I answer this question, exactly? Am I just supposed to say "those guys are giant ball-sucking idiots" or do you really want me to break down the quarterbacking situation in Kansas City? I'm just going to move on to the next question because I like Carl Peterson's hair.

4. Is there a more overlooked superstar in the league than Lee Evans? Who is your choice? By the way, Trent Edwards is going to steal J.P. Losman's job from him by end of next season.

Brad speaks: More overlooked? Probably not, although I just wasted ten minutes trying to come up with one. I'd say, while not a superstar anymore, Fred Taylor had one of the most overlooked seasons of all time in 2006. I know he only scored 5 TDs, but 1,146 yards at 5 YPC--for the goddamn Jags--was pretty amazing. Not only did they not have a passing game to speak of, but Taylor had to share the ball with Jones-Drew.

Actually, you know what? Maurice Jones-Drew is the most overlooked superstar in the game. The dude scored 15 total TDs (on 5.7 YPC) even though he was barely used in a ton of games (he had nine freaking games with less than ten attempts, including five games with five or less). Plus, he had 46 receptions. He really didn't receive national attention until he ripped off that long TD versus New England, where he went to the turf and got up before being touched. I blame Andy Gresh.

5. Jack Del Rio and Mike Tice are running the Jaguars offense this year. Was Del Rio this much of a ninny before Tice came on board? He decides half-way through last season that David Garrard is a better QB than Leftwich. I know that's ludicrous, and you know that's ludicrous, but Del Rio & Tice: they don’t know. By the end of the year, Del Rio came to his senses and realized Leftwich is far better. This year's stunt: he's going to bench his starting receivers and plug in Dennis Northcutt & Ernest Wilford. The Titans and Vikings must be so jealous of that duo. Even worse, he's actually giving thought to taking goal-line carries away from a dynamo who scored 16 TDs last season and excelled in the redzone and giving them to a 250 pound plodder fresh off a 2nd ACL surgery. If Del Rio can't make a decision, how can you make one?

Brad speaks: Del Rio and Tice are the classic "my way or the highway" coaching meatheads, without the ability to recognize talent or re-invent the game (say what you want about Mike Martz, but at least the man has fresh ideas). All they are seemingly interested in is identifying the toughest players on the team, which is why they're probably trying to lure Chris Spielman out of broadcasting at this very moment. I will never understand how those idiots were ever given the keys to the Jeep--they are nothing more than position coaches.

Del Rio and Tice are the reason I'm once again not buying the hype surrounding Jacksonville. They are a 9-7 team at best, and one that--if they happen to make the postseason--will get handled easily.

(Note: For some reson I like Tice's pencil-on-the-ear look. Does that make me gay?)

6. Have you ever had Eddie Kennison on your fantasy football team? If so, please explain yourself.

Brad speaks: This is easily the funniest question so far, and you (the reader) will find out why in a moment.

I actually drafted Eddie Kennison his rookie season--this was when most leagues were TD-heavy leagues--and he came through with nine six-pointers. After that, I'm pretty sure the answer is "do I look stupid to you?"

I always get in arguments with chaps who draft Kennison. They say "yeah, but he had 913 yards and 5 TDs last season." and I say "and how does that help you win your fantasy league?" Look, I would much rather draft somebody like Matt Jones (a guy who will probably suck, yet has great ability) over a guy like Kennison (a guy who will give me six points every week). Why not swing for the's not as if I'm relying on my 5th receiver, you know? Fantasy football isn't won by drafting guys with a track record of being consistently average, and Eddie Kennison is the epitome of just that.

7. Name 3 past as well as 3 current members of the "Sean Dawkins All-Stars."

(Note from Brad: you will never ever ever ever ever catch a Sean Dawkins All Star on either one of our rosters. Ever. A "Sean Dawkins All Star" can best be described as a guy who routinely produces 750 yards and 4 TDs and yet--somehow--gets drafted every season in the last few rounds.)

Brad speaks: 3 about Ike Hilliard, Darnay Scott and O.J. McDuffie? This list could go on forever.

3 present...The 2007 versions of Eric Moulds, Derrick Mason and the loathesome Amani Toomer.

8. Why is it that there's one guy in every draft who takes Devin Hester and believes he knows something that the rest of the league doesn't? If Hester ever has offensive fantasy value, I'll agree to trade for Warrick Dunn AND Fred Taylor. You have to touch the ball more than twice a game to have fantasy value.

Brad speaks: I'm mostly with you on Hester, and I happen to be the originial member of his fan club. But he does have crazy ability, which is why I'd rather take a 15th round flyer on him as opposed to an 11th round flyer on Derrick Mason. His fantasy stats won't come for a few years--if ever. That doesn't mean he won't have an impact this season in the win column, though. Think of yourself as a defensive coordinator: how would you like to deal with Devin Hester on 10 fake reverses, plus the two or three times per game when he's actually handed the ball? Think about the impact Reggie Bush had last season on Deuce McAllister, just on the plays where Bush was a decoy. Hester can do that for Benson and the Bears offense.

9. What are the odds that Kellen Clemens replaces Chad Pennington at some point during the 2007 season? I'm going 75%.

Brad speaks: In terms of talent, Clemens dwarfs Pennington, which is why I give Clemens a miniscule chance of taking over the job. I hate football coaches sometimes.

10. Is DeShaun Foster the Brandon Lloyd of RB's or is he the Wayne Fontes of RB's? Like Lloyd, he mixes one eye-opening play a game with a combination of dancing and disappearing acts. Like Fontes, he's the Rasputin of RB's. No matter how badly he plays, he shows somebody somewhere just enough to hang onto his job.

Brad speaks: Probably Lloyd. I have nothing witty to add here. Meat has a good taste when you eat it.

11. The easy pick for worst team in the league this year is of course the Oakland Raiders. Don't sleep on the cratering ship known as the Kansas City Chiefs. That's my darkhorse 3-win team this season. What is yours?

Brad speaks: SHHH! I'm betting the under this season on KC's win total, which I believe is holding steady at 7.5.

My sleeper pick for a 3-win team is Carolina. They've been consistently overrated (and often by me) since their run to the Super Bowl in 2003. I also happen to think Baltimore is wildly overrated--maybe not 3-13 bad, but 6-10 isn't out of the question. Miami and Tennessee will stink, as well, and the Jets won't sniff the playoffs.

12. Who was a better prospect coming into the league: Reggie Bush or Adrian Peterson? Bush had much more hype, but I think Peterson is the most impressive runner to come into the league since possibly Bo Jackson or Hershel Walker.

Brad speaks: This answer is simple: Bush. And I happen to think Peterson is one of the five best college RBs I've ever seen, but Bush...he's on a different level; I don't expect Peterson to pump out an 88-catch season anytime soon. Bush has only scratched the surface.

13. Frank Gore is falling to #6 in many re-draft leagues. How is this even possible? You know, it's rare to have a back-to-back #1 performer in fantasy leagues for two consecutive seasons. Given that premise, you have to pick a successor to Tomlinson this year. As much as I like Steven Jackson, I'm going with Frank Gore this year. He's like Ahman Green in his prime. Badass. Your choice?

Brad speaks: My choice would also be Gore, but that would make for boring reading. So how about a sleeper pick to be the No. 1 fantasy back in 2007? Ladies and ladies, I present Laurence Maroney. Before you go closing you laptops, here me out: He's got the size to get the goal line carries, and the speed/shiftiness to break off long runs. Plus, Dillon is gone. Plus plus, the Pats will be ahead at the end of most games, which gives Maroney a shot at the ever-important garbage numbers. It probably won't happen, but it certainly could.

14. Joseph Addai. Can he put up Edge-in-his-prime numbers for the Colts, or will he disappoint a lot of eager beavers this season?

Brad speaks: Edge-in-his-prime numbers? No effing chance, but that doesn't mean he won't be a top 5 RB this season. I'm not so high on "Addai the NFL player," but I really like (almost love) Addai the fantasy player." The real-life version of Addai isn't a top 15 RB, but the fantasy version...I just don't see any way he doesn't finish with 1,700 total yards and 12-14 TDs. And that's probably a little conservative.

15. One of the most common mistakes you see every year in fantasy football: the majority of owners draft defenses based on how they fared last season. That's no good. You can't get credit for those points this year. If you want last year's Bears or Ravens points, you should have drafted them last year. I saw the Bears go in the 4th round today and the Ravens in the 5th. Wait about 6 or 7 rounds and take the Chargers, Patriots or Jaguars instead. Who is your pick to jump above the Bears & Ravens this season?

Brad speaks: I would also go with the Chargers (Merriman: 17 sacks in 12 games last season..are you kidding me?), but--again--that would be boring. So I'll give you another sleeper.

My sleeper to be a top 10 defense would have been the Bengals, but Odell Thurman's suspension pushed them back to the bottom 10. Think about it, though: Jonathan Joseph was a monster last season, Delth O'Neal's in a contract year, Ahmad Brooks and Thurman are loaded with potential, and the Robert Geathers/Justin Smith DE combo is the best they've had in my twenty years as a fan. Anyway...

My out-of-nowhere sleeper to be much-improved would be Houston. I think if Mario Williams tosses up 15 sacks (which is plausible) he could make things a whole lot easier for folks like Demeco Ryans.

16. Which NFL team will have Michael Turner as its starting RB next season?

Brad speaks: I'm having trouble focusing at the moment, for a spider is darting beneath me at record speeds. I'm not kidding, this fucker must have sucked on a drop of Sobe before deciding to mess with me. Anyway...The Raiders are the obvious choice (unless the Lamont Jordan experiment soured them). You'd also have to assume that the Browns, Packers, Titans, Cards and maybe Cowboys could enter the mix.

17. Ronnie Brown or Willie Parker? Roy Williams or Andre Johnson? Jacoby Jones, James Jones, or Laurent Robinson? D.J. Hackett or Deion Branch? Rex Grossman or Brian Griese? Brodie Croyle or Jared Lorenzen? Jerry Porter or the flaming bag of dog shit on the old man's porch in Happy Gilmore?

Brad speaks: Fast Willie; Roy Williams (although both will be targeted a dickload of times); Jacoby Jones, but only because he's (a.) competing with a white guy and (b.) from the same college that produced Fred Lane (aka Fred Lane, dead person); D.J. Hackett, but only because you told me so; Oft-injured vs. fat...I'll take fat; the flaming dog shit, because he ran a 4.5 forty-yard dash at the combine. Jesus, I'm funny.

18. Have you ever given anything of value in a trade for Stacy Mack? Who is the new Stacy Mack? Could it be Brandon Jacobs (which would be ironic since Ruben Droughns is the old Stacy Mack)?

Brad speaks: The only reason Wess asked this question is to embarrass me. You see, I once traded Jeremy Shockey for Stacy Mack, in a TD-heavy, tight end-weighted 11-man keeper league. Wess hasn't stopped reminding me about this, and that was five years ago.

As for an answer, I don't know, how about T.J. Duckett?

And Jacobs will be far better than Mack ever was.

19. What is the over/under on amount of games before Brady Quinn hits the starting lineup?

Brad speaks: Being the resident gambling expert that I am, I would actually set the over/under at nine games.

20. What are the odds that JaMarcus Russell ever becomes a franchise QB? I'm going with 20%.

Brad speaks: I'm going slightly higher at 40%, if only because his ability is off-the-charts. "So what's holding him back?" you might be thinking. Well, I don't want to sound like a racist here, but my main problem with Russell is that he's black.

Just kidding, stupids.

Now for my peppering of Wess:

1. What off-the-radar sleeper (which means no Vincent Jackson) do you see posting semi-monster numbers in '07?

Wess speaks: There really are no off-the-radar sleeper QBs because of the nature of the position, but I'll choose Roethlisberger as the QB who will make the leap to the next level and Kellen Clemens as the non-starter who will make the leap to franchise QB later in the season. Off-the-radar RBs: Ronnie Brown is more overlooked than off-the-radar. If they give him the damn ball, he'll produce. Leon Washington is a guy who can't sustain a rushing attack, but he could generate some value in the role of a poor man's Reggie Bush. The Bears' Adrian Peterson could pull a Ladell Betts if Benson goes down. I'm going Ronald Curry at WR. He's far better than Jerry Porter, and the Raiders will have to throw to somebody. Wes Welker is being undervalued. Three 3rd round rookie WRs look like they have talent and opportunity: James Jones of GB, Jacoby Jones of HOU and Laurent Robinson of ATL. The tight end pick is easy: Owen Daniels is money this year. Jeff King of Carolina is a deep sleeper for deep leagues. Kicker: Steven Gostkowski or Mike Nugent. Watch out for the Packers defense.

2. In past years, I always wanted guys like Fred Taylor and Warrick Dunn to be drafted before I was presented with the option of taking them. This year, I have the same feelings about Shaun Alexander and Willis McGahee. It's not that I think these are bad players, it's just that I have a bad feeling about them and I'd rather see someone else deal with the potential headaches. My question: What players would you like to see drafted before you?

Wess speaks: Any member of the Kansas City Chiefs. Seriously. Clinton Portis. Cedric Benson. Edgerrin James. The old & the infirm: Isaac Bruce, Terry Glenn, Joey Galloway, Derrick Mason, and Joe Horn. Alge Crumpler and L.J. Smith.

3. Why do I think Tampa is going to be an above average fantasy squad this year? Why do I think Pittsburgh might be a top 8 fantasy offense this year?

Wess speaks: The first question: I have no idea. Tampa is atrocious. They still lack a quality QB, a good O-Line and any sign of playmakers. Does Garcia get a pass on the embarrassing eggs he laid in SF in '03, CLE in '04 and DET in '05 simply because he had an overly ballyhooed month with the Eagles last year? I'm with you on the Steelers. They have much better offensive weapons than commonly believed.

4. Why do I think Matt Schaub might be a top 15 QB?

Wess speaks: Top 15? It's definitely possible. They're going to notice a huge difference in Houston between Schaub and Carr. So this is what a pro football franchise is supposed to look like?

5. Give me a few well-known players that will exceed the expectations of so-called experts? How about a few who won't live up to the hype? (Note: The latter category doesn't mean you believe they'll stink--think a solid, but not spectacular Tiki Barber in 2006)

Wess speaks: Exceed: Roethlisberger, Kitna, Leftwich, Schaub, Tarvaris Jackson, Adrian Peterson, Ronnie Brown, LenDale White, Jamal Lewis, Ahman Green, Roy Williams, Andre Johnson, Lee Evans, Hines Ward, Reggie Brown, Heath Miller, Marcedes Lewis. Disappoint: Tony Romo, Jay Cutler, Rex Grossman, J.P. Losman, Chad Pennington, Larry Johnson, Travis Henry, Marshawn Lynch, Edgerrin James, Torry Holt, Darrell Jackson, Chris Chambers, Jerricho Cotchery, Alge Crumpler, Randy McMichael.

6. What established player do you see having a career year, only to fall back to mediocrity soon after (think Brett Perriman in 1995)?

Wess speaks: Jon Kitna is a good candidate at QB. Bulger is in for an outlier type of season, but he's been better than mediocre for his career. I'm leery of both Brandon Jacobs & Cedric Benson, but they may be better bets for this year than for a long career. I could see Tatum Bell being the RB answer here. I'm not a Deion Branch guy, and you could argue about whether he's been mediocre or not (I'd say definitely mediocre as a fantasy entity), but he could take the honors as Darrell Jackson's flanker replacement in Seattle. Ronald Curry, Bernard Berrian, and D.J. Hackett are possibilities here too. Bo Scaife or David Martin could be the tight answer.

7. Name a backup (besides Michael Turner) who--if given the opportunity--would post really good numbers?

Wess speaks: I guess Ladell Betts doesn't count either. I mentioned the Bears' Adrian Peterson, and Mewelde Moore once had an October where he was among the most productive fantasy players in the game. If DeAngelo Williams counts as a back-up, I'm taking him. If not, I'll go with the rookie Brian Leonard of the Rams who can do it all in the backfield.

8. Which runningback-by-committee situations should I worry about? Which ones aren't that big of a deal?

Wess speaks: Worry about: Carolina, Dallas, Green Bay, Atlanta, Tennessee, and Buffalo. Carolina is still messing around with Foster; Dallas is going to keep the same arrangement, but Barber won't hit paydirt 16 times again; both Green Bay backs are underwhelming; Norwood won't push Dunn aside yet, and Snelling may swipe goal-line carries; LenDale White may take the reigns, but he's still fat and immature; Lynch may not be able to shake coach's favorite A-Train. Don't Worry About: Reggie Bush in New Orleans, Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville, Adrian Peterson in Minnesota, and Brandon Jacobs. I'm even going to go out on a limb and say Tatum Bell will stay startable in Detroit.

9. Are any Nate Burleson-in-2005 situations out there, where everybody is drinking the Kool Aid and ignoring the warning signs?

Wess speaks: Travis Henry in big neon lights. Tony Romo. Vince Young. Jay Cutler. Possibly Joseph Addai just for how strong the kool-aid is. Maybe Marques Colston.

10. What preseason injuries should concern me? Which injuries aren't that big of a deal?

Wess speaks: Concern: Clinton Portis. That knee injury has just been too nebulous for me. Kevin Jones won't play for 6 weeks. I'm more concerned than I should be about Torry Holt's knee and Thomas Jones' lower leg. Terry Glenn is an old WR with troubling leg injuries. I still worry about Winslow's ability to hold up and produce after micro-fracture surgery. L.J. Smith's groin injury isn't going away. Not concerned: Frank Gore's hand, Donovan McNabb's knee, Tatum Bell, Donald Driver, and Tony Scheffler. Can't get a read: Travis Henry & Randy Moss.

11. Do you agree with me for calling people stupid for drafting Eddie Kennison at any point over the last seven years?

Wess speaks: Absolutely. 1st ballot "Sean Dawkins Hall of Famer."

12. Does it aggravate you to constantly hear so-called experts preaching "runningback-runningback in the first two rounds?" There's more than one way to skin a cat, you know?

Wess speaks: Great timing. I've been holding court at the bar for two days on this issue. "Experts" always say get your RBs early. I always say build the best team possible regardless of position. You have to be to adjust to the players and positions being taken along with who is already on your roster. Experts also say don't worry about defense and kicker, and they're wrong about that one too.

13. Why do you hate Tony Romo?

Wess speaks: I don't hate Tony Romo. I just think the hottest streak of his career came in the first 6 or 7 games of his career. Defensive coordinators have had a full offseason to work on his weak spots like an evil wrestler. OK, I don't like Tony Romo, but it's more about football announcers and so-called experts than about Tony Romo. A few good games didn't make him one of the best QBs in the league, but that's all you heard about for a huge stretch of last season.

That concludes the topical portion of this post--now for a trip down memory lane (or something gay like that)...

14. What player(s) produced your favorite "where did that come from" season?

Wess speaks: Patrick Jeffers? Completely blew my mind (and his QB that year, Steve Beuerlein was a good one too). Kurt Warner may have had the most unexpected season in fantasy football history. Billy Volek's stretch run a couple of years ago. 1995 had 2 of the most bizarre QB seasons: The Water Buffalo, Scott Mitchell, in Detriot and Erik Kramer had the best statistical season of any Bears QB in history. Running backs are a bit tougher, but I was shocked by Lamar Smith's 2000 season. I seem to remember guys like Bernie Parmalee, Erric Pegram, Derek Loville, and Rod Bernstein having wacky seasons. Remember Glenn Foley's opening day game in 1998? 415 yards, 3 TDs, and Al M*******'s mad dash to the waiver wire.

Reader note: The last line would be a lot funnier if you knew, Al M., who is a mutual friend, and possibly the most irrational fantasy owner on the planet.

15. What player projection are you man enough to admit you flat-out missed?

Wess speaks: Possibly my most egregious miss was Kevan Barlow. I thought he was a top 10 talent at RB. I've never had David Carr on a fantasy squad, but I thought he was going to be a great QB when he came into the league. I'm sure you remember a few more.

16. Do you want to tell the Amani Toomer story, or should I?

Wess speaks: You tell it. Even though it was me that benefited, I think that turn of events had a much greater impact on you.

Note: Amani Toomer story coming soon.

Bonus Round...

17. Why does Pete Mackanin continue to sit Josh Hamilton against lefties? Why aren't more people outraged over this?

Wess speaks: The easy answer is because it's August and nobody is paying attention to the Reds anymore. Maybe if they reel off another 5 or 6 in a row the team will be under the microscope again, and you'll find that outrage. The less easy answer is that Norris Hopper does the "little things" which endear a player to his manager and casual fans while Hamilton has been on and off the DL. By the way, once again Adam Dunn is the best player on the team. Why do you hate Jeff Keppinger?

Note: I don't hate Jeff Keppinger, I just wish people around here would temper their enthusiasm for someone who was discarded by the Royals six months ago.

That's all for now, dum-dums. I've made the decision to create a special fantasy football page so that it's easier to check the archives throughout the course of the season. Plus, I will answer fantasy football questions every Thursday, so get cracking on your questions (