Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A look back at TPC's NFL and Fantasy Predictions

One of the main reasons I started this blog was so I would have some accountability of my usually outlandish predictions.
For a full list of my preseason picks you can go to The People's Draft Review, The Fearless Forecast, and Week 1's review.

Without further ado, a look back with a special tribute- Mike and the Mad Dog Style:

"The J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS will make the playoffs and Brett Favre will finish in the top 5 of the league MVP voting"
That's an awful job Mikey. Awful, awful job. No excuse for that.........
Hey Dog, when they beat Tennessee and NE a few backs back, you weren't sayin' the same thing. You were cringin everytime Baningo walked through that door.

"Michael Westbrook will finally break down this season. So will Jamal Lewis."
You gotta give credit where it's do Mikey. TPC was right on the ball.......
Your right Dog. Westbrook had a nice season but still was banged up all year and had 700 fewer yards than last season with a much worse yards per carry and Lewis was a non factor on a just Putrid Cleveland football team.
"Eli, excuse me, ELI MANNING-SUPERBOWL XLII MVP will continue to grow and flourish in an offense that returns all 11 of it's starters from it's SUPER BOWL XLII victory."
You know Mikey, I'm sick of Eli this and Eli that. Enough of the Eli stuff already.
Hey Dog, the guy won the Super Bowl MVP against an unbeat-a-ble Patriots team. He led the Giants to the NFC's top seed despite losing his #1 Wide Receiver and his #1 Running back for large parts of the season. He had his best statistical year throwing a career low 10INT's his best QB rating ever, 21 TD's and his best yards per attempt ever. And Dog get this, in late and close games he had an astonishing 132.6 QB rating in 7 games with 4 TD's and 0 int's. You can make a veerrrrrrry good case, he's the best clutch QB in the game right now.

"Derek Anderson will be a huge disappointment this season and make the Browns regret paying him and last years #1 pick, Brady Quinn."
Not much to be said about that one Dog, except the kid was right on the money again.

"Chris Johnson will be a stud. This season. Bye Bye Lendale".

Well, Dog, he was right on about CJ. He's probably the most dynamic back inthe game right now behind Peterson and White pretty much just cleaned up his garbage.
Mikey--Are you crAYzy! Johnson had a great year. A GREAT year, but White had 15 TD's. FIFTEEN MIKEY.
Dog, he had a paltry 3.9 YPC compared to Johnsons 4.9. He was just fortunate to pick up Johnsons trash.
Hey Scuzari, get Sirius back on the phone here. This is why I left the FAN in the first place!
"Reggie Bush will have a big year. So will his QB Drew Brees."

Um, hmmmm....

"Michael Turner will flourish as a starting RB, something along the lines of 1300 yards rushing and 12 TD's+.

Mikey, here's what a reader- YaHooa's wrote to TPC after week 3:
I still think Michael Turner is a joke, the season is still young and I will be proven right."
TPC was right on the money. People were killing him on the boards Mikey.
Yeah, Dog if anything he undersold Turner who had a HUUUUUUUUUUga year.
"Kurt Warner will continue his recent success and lead Arizona to a playoff spot."

And some MVP consideration along the way, Dog.

The Steelers will not be as good as most think. Nor will the Vikings. The Steelers will still win their crappy division.
Mikey, he missed on this one. Both teams won their divisions and for crying out loud Mikey, The Steelers finished 12-4. TWELVE and Four.
Yeah Dog, but lets look at it a little closer. Against playoff teams. Playoff teams Dog, the Steelers lost to the Giants. They got manhandled by the Eagles. The Titans just ate them up with home field throughout on the line. Manning and Dungy beat them in Pittsburgh. Take away Baltimore and the 8-8 Chawgews and the Steelers didnt beat anyone. They look very beatable to me going into January.

The Raiders wont be as bad. JaMarcus will show flashes of greatness. As will RunDMC. Did I say Brandon Marshall will be huge this year? So will Calvin Johnson. Pennington will show he has something left in the tank. So will Ricky. Galloway wont. Neither will Marvelous Marvin Harrison

The Raiders were better than last year and Russel did show signs but TPC was off here. If they can keep McFadden on the field, he's a star.
I cant wait to see what Johnson will be like with a coach next year Mikey. That guy is unbelievable. If he was playing in Green Bay, they would call him Brett Favre HAHAHHHAHAHAH, oooooooooooooooh baby.
"Marion Barber will not be worthy of the #6-#9 draft position he most frequently went."
Dog, here what separates TPC from all the other guys out there. Here's how he explained his reasoning for that prediction.
"Barber is a very good back. He was utilized perfectly in the Dallas system, but now that he is the featured back I think he takes to many upright hits and wont be able to take the constant punishment."
and here "Marion Barber will now need to shoulder the whole load and if he was so great, why did Dallas take Felix Jones with their #1 pick?".
And Dog, just for good measure here's how the Ducks, TPC's long standing rival answered.
Marion Barber didn't have great #s the past 2 years? I can't answer why the cowboys took jones, teams do dumb things sometimes. and the cowboys have been dumb often lately (i.e., wade phillips, pacman jones) but that has nothing to do with barber who will be the FT rb. he avged 4.8 ypc the past 2 season, tends to have one huge run every game and if you watch him (i am a giants nfc-east guy, so i do) you see more than even just those stats. i'm telling you, he looks like barry sanders to me. he won't be good, he will be GREAT.
See Dog, TPC sees beyond the numbers. He gets the game.

"Carson Palmer will once again disappoint."
No one saw that coming Mikey.

"Devin Hester will be electric as a WR for da Bears."
Ya know Dog, TPC took a lot of heat for this prediction, but at the end of the day, he wasnt far off. he led the Bears in receiving yards by a lot (665 yards0 and he missed the better part of 5 games. Not the greatest TPC prediction, but far from awful.

"Division Winners
Pats, Steelers, Jags and Chargers in the AFC
Cowboys, Pack, Saints and Cardinal in the NFC
Wild Cards
Jets and Colts in the AFC
Giants and 'Skins in the NFC"

Mikey, we'll give a pass on the Pats. The Jags were just awful Mikey. AW-FUL. TPC didnt even show up in the NFC except the Cards.
Your Dog, just a crazy, crazy NFL season and even the great TPC had a tough time figuring it all out.

Monday, December 29, 2008

NFL Regular Season Closing Thoughts

It was only fitting that the final regular season game of the 2008 season carried with it a "win or go home" finish. It was also fitting that a team which won it's last 4 games (the 8-8 San Diego Chargers won the division from a team who had the reverse finish, 3 straight losses, when just one win would have clinched the division for them. This season was one which featured three major late season collapses (Jets, Bucs and Broncos) and some great late season surges (Eagles, Chargers, Colts and Falcons). We had the first 0-16 team in NFL History (the Lions) and team that went 11-5 (Pats) that missed the postseason so the 8-8 Chargers could get in- and win a division nonetheless.

The Jets will fire Mangini early today as ESPN has been reporting and rightfully so. Normally a team that goes from 4-12 to 9-7 would be considered a success, but not this season. Just 4 weeks ago the Jets were thinking Super Bowl after defeating the Titans and Patriots, but now are left sitting at home wondering who is to blame for their great demise. First and foremost the coaching staff has to take the brunt of the fall. A team that went out and beat the Titans and Pats all of a sudden played a "not to lose" type strategy that lost them 3 of the seasons final four games, and only a miracle play kept them from being 8-8. They refused to run the ball down the Broncos throat, a team that can't even think about stopping the run. They came out flat against San Fran and Seattle, two teams that finished a combined 11-21 (although to be fair the '9ers showed a lot of heart and promise down the stretch under Mike Singletary). The next one to blame has to be Brett Favre, someone who was probably the leading candidate for MVP consideration just 5 weeks ago. Someone who made some of the worst decisions you will ever see on a football field by a pro football Quarterback (let alone someone who will be enshrined in Canton), as evidenced by his 2 TD 9 INT final 4 game finish. I don't care what the MRI shows to his arm, unless they do one on his brain and pinpoint exactly what he was thinking with some of those throws.
The Bucs had a similar collapse, although they did have a much tougher schedule losing to NFC top seed Carolina, 11-5 Atlanta, San Diego and a Raider team that showed signs of life late. Not in the same category as what the Broncos or Jets did, but still a collapse nonetheless. 9-3 teams should not finish 9-7, I don't care who you are playing.
The Broncos are led by two of the most overrated people at their respected positions. Mike Shanahan who has done nothing, NOTHING as a head coach without John Elway and Terrel Davis and Jay Cutler, who has an arm like a young Favre and brain like the older version. Seriously, take away the Elway years and what has Shanahan done? He hasn't built a running game since Portis left (he actually believed all the nonsense that people wrote about him and how it's the system and not the players. Well, it's about the players. System helps only if you have the horses). He hasn't ever built a decent defense, especially against the run.
Cutler is all flash and no substance. He has probably the best "toolset" of any NFL QB, and watching him play shows you why NFL scouts were so high on this guy. He has a great arm. great mobility. Sees the whole field, but when push comes to shove and things tighten up, he always makes the wrong decision (the red zone Interception at the beginning of the second quarter was the turning point of the game yesterday). I wouldn't give up on him (his skillset is way too high) but he needs to show better judgement or every bronco season will end in similar fashion.
Perhaps nothing gave The People's Champ more pleasure than watching the Dallas Cowboys get utterly destroyed by the Eagles yesterday, closing out any chance they had of making the playoffs. Tony Romo, for all his Sept-Nov brilliance has proven to be a complete and utter failure in December and January (5-10 in December and Jan for his career). With all the talent they have, Wade Phillips must go (unless you like relish in the Cowboys failures and therefore hope Jerry Jones grants him that 8 year extension). It's time to get rid of the ultimate locker room cancer in Terrel Owens. Team needs to be remade.
On the positive side, the Eagles stepped up big time yesterday (and down the stretch) and brought it to another reeling franchise (the Cowboys), claiming their playoff birth. The Eagles finished the season winning 4 of their last 5 games to get into the playoffs with McNabb playing some of the best ball of his career. The Eagles also have an aggressive attacking defense that can give fits to any team, and if Andy Reid weren't still the head coach, I would say they could upset the Giants in the NFC. Won't happen. Still a great job all around.
Not enough can be said about the job Tony Sparano, Bill Parcells and Chad Pennington did with the Dolphins, transforming the 1-15 doormats to 11-5 AFC East Champs. What a great job all around. Chad has to be given serious MVP consideration in the job he did. Sparano is on the short list of Coach of the Year candidates. Just a tremendous job.
Matt Cassel and Bill Belichek deserve kudos as well, let's just not go overboard. All they did was take a team that went 16-0 and go 11-5 with a much easier schedule. Yes, a good job without the Great Brady, but lets not go overboard here. They still had the same squad that went 16-0 last year and were unbeatable until the Giants upset them in the SB. When you read some of the nonsense being spewed about them, you think they were the ones that took over a 1-15 squad. Bottom line, if Brady were healthy, with that schedule, the Pats would have been a lot closer to 16-0 than to 11-5.
And what about the Falcons? All they did was beat Carolina, Tampa, San Diego and Minnesota down the stretch to get into the playoffs after a 4-12 2007 season. Less than a year removed from the Michael Vick fiasco, Matty "Ice" Ryan had as good a rookie QB season as there has been since the great Marino debut, 25 years ago. He will garner MVP consideration and Mike Smith deserves serious consideration for Coach of the Year honors.
We will get into the playoff thoughts later in the week, but here are my season ending awards:

AFC MVP- Chad Pennington. The QB is always the one who takes most of the blame (see Favre, Romo, etc) he must also get the credit where the credit is due and no one meant more to his team than Chad to the Dolphins. Honorable mentions: James Harrison, Peyton Manning and Albert Haynesworth.
Coach of the Year- Tony Sparano. Honorable Mention: John Harbaugh and Tony Dungy. Let's not discount the job Dungy did, holding the Colts together through all the injuries and getting them back on track to where some say they are the team to beat in the AFC.
Rookie of the Year- Chris Johnson. He's the most dynamic back in the game not named Adrian Peterson. Honorable mention: Joe Flacco (if there was no Matt Ryan we would have heard a lot more about this guy) Eddie Royal and Steve Slaton.
Most disappointing player: Crazy as this may have seemed in Week 11, Brett Favre. Derek Anderson also gets consideration.

NFC MVP- This was a much tougher choice than the AFC. You have Brandon Jacobs and Eli Manning from the Giants, both indispensable pieces to one of the leagues best all around offenses, you have Kurt Warner. You can make a great case for Matt Ryan and Brian Westbrook, but for my money, the 2008 NFC MVP is All Day Adrian Peterson. You take that guy away from the Viking offense, and HE IS the Vikings offense, they go 6-10 at best instead of the 10-6 division Champs they are.
Coach of the Year- Mike Smith. Honorable mention: John Fox.
Rookie of the Year- Matt Ryan. Honorable mention: Matt Forte and Dejean Jackson.
Most Disappointing player: Marc Bulger.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Yankees Signings- It's Good for Baseball- TPC's Take

Once again the Yankees turned the baseball world upside down, with their covert maneuvers in signing Mark Teixeira, the premier offensive free agent player of the 2008-09 offseason.
Until the deal was inked, most had been led to believe Teixeira was contemplating the Nationals offer of between $174M-$185M (and whether they would be able to sign other big names to form a competitive team in the Nations Capital) or the Boston offer, presumed to be anywhere from $20-$24M a year for 6 years.
Well, when we all heard the news the Yankees came in- basically out of nowhere- to ink the star first baseman, shock waves were sent throughout the baseball and sports world.
The Yankees now have the 4 largest contracts in Baseball (Jeter, Arod, Sabathia and now Teixiera). There is growing sentiment and concern that they are ruining the game and now small market teams "really" can't compete. My question is, why all of a sudden now? What is different today then yesterday? Let's analyze.
The Yankees always went after the big names and the big contracts. In years past, they made big mistakes. They signed pitchers to big contracts that were past their prime (Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson) or unproven-especially from a health perspective (Jarret Wright and the Infamous Carl Pavano). The offensive players they signed had similar issues (Giambi and Damon). You can make a very good case that Cashman has done a horrible job in his assessment of free agent pitchers. The only big name free agent who was in his prime that was signed over this time period was Mussina (a deal that worked out just fine for the Yanks). Every other signing was either for a pitcher in his mid 30's or who had major health risks.
This years signings- at least the Sabathai and Teixiera signings- were different in that both are young, in their primes, and have never had health issues. These were great signings. You lock up a top 3 ML picther at age 28, who has pitched in big games- and pitched well, and the games best all around First Baseman, also at age 28. The Burnett signing actually is similar to the ones mentioned above, a 32 year old pitcher who has had basically 3 healthy years in his career- all walk years. The only reason that the Burnett signing can be seen as a positive to TPC is he is essentially the #4 starter in terms of talent and major league success (I would take CC, Wang and Joba over him easily). With the pressure being off, maybe he avoids the issues that Pavano, Brown, Johnson, etc have endured by being a savior to the staff. That falls to Sabathia and it says here, C.C. will be just fine in that role. With the being said, TPC would have spent that money elsewhere (and not Derrek Lowe either).
Next major falsehood being spewed in various circles is the Yankees are blowing up the salary structure of baseball and makes the divide between small and large market much larger. This is completely false. The Yankees payroll as currently constituted for 2009 is actually 10% LOWER than in 2008. Basically, the Yankees traded Giambi's $23M 2008 salary for Teixiera's $23M 2009 salary. A great trade by anyone's estimation. They traded Mussina ($12m) Pavano (13M) Pettite ($16M) for Burnett and Sabathia. They still have about $25M left to spend on one more pitcher and for reserve. TPC suggests if Pettite doesn't want the $10M, go with a rotation of CC, Wang, Burnett, Joba and either Hughes or Kennedy. I think Hughes will turn out to be a very viable top of the rotation guy and his salary structure keeps the Yankees somehwhat cost effective for 3 of their current spots (Wang makes $6m this year and Joba and Hughes are under a million each). What the Yankees did was sign all their big deals in one season, rather than stagger them as they had in years past. It was also the smarter move, as the Yankees now have a core IF of Arod-Tex-Jeter and Cano, with Jeter being the oldest at 34 and a pitching staff of 5 under 32 (Burnett being the oldest at 32). They just got much better and much younger with the 3 signings with a smaller payroll than that in 2008.
The Yankees also just paid $26M to a luxury tax that goes partly to the smaller market teams. I don't see the Royals or Pirates giving that back. Nor do I see anyone complain when the Yankees are in town and their attendance rockets-thereby selling more tickets, merchandise, food, etc. The Yanks led MLB last year with an average attendance of 44,131 fans per game- a far cry from the Marlins and their 25,000. If the Yankees weren't the "Damn Yankees" those road attendance numbers would not be where the are. The Yankees (and the Red Sox, Cubs, Mets, Dodgers) being good is good for Baseball. It drives attendance, interest, TV rights, merchandising, etc. It makes money for baseball. It's like the economy. It's good when people get rich. It gives opportunity to the people the rich support. If the rich are doing poorly, their businesses have cuts, people lose jobs, they spend less, the circle goes round, etc. (as we see in todays economy). The Yankees outspending and making a big media splash is good for the small market teams. As Buster Olney reported earlier- "And they do have defenders even among the small-market teams. "They just got a luxury tax bill of $26.9 million, didn't they?" another AL official asked rhetorically. "They always pay, don't they? The other teams cash their checks, don't they?" "The Yankees are great for baseball, just like the Red Sox and the Cubs are great for baseball, because they generate interest and they generate money for all of us. Today, somebody is going to pick up a paper overseas and there will be something in there on the Yankees' signing of Teixeira. Do you think that would happen if there was some trade between small-market teams? People pay attention to the Yankees, and that's good for our sport." Exactly.
The last major point, is the Texiera signing actually improves their current investements in other players. Arod's worth just gets increased by having a great hitter (a switch hitter nonetheless) hitting in front of him. It makes his current contract more valuable. Teixeira is the best hitter since Sheffield to hit in front of him and that was an MVP season for Arod (which it says here, he will win it again this season). He also takes some of the media spotlight away from Arod, which can only help. He makes the rest of the lineup more powerful. He also makes the defense stronger and increases the value of Arod, Jeter and Cano's defense. It's a no brainer move- a far cry from the defensive liability that is Giambi.
The Yankees spending hasn't change one bit. The only difference is, they are spending it smarter, which makes them better, which is better for baseball.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yanks Sign Teixeira

John Heyman is reporting the Yankees and Mark Teixiera agree to an 8 year $180M deal.
The Yankees keep flexing their financial muscle and sign their 3rd monster Free Agent of the 2008 offseason.
The People's Champ will comment on this great signing a bit later.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sabathia and Burnetts Impact- No Texiera? TPC Thoughts

There has been a recent school of thought on the Yankees spending spree ($240M combined on Sabathia and Burnett) and how it will affect them in a negative way in the future. Our friend, The Ducks made this comment recently.
Duck Views: There's always an opportunity cost, TPC. Always. And it says right here that Teixeira is a HUGE, HUGE opportunity cost. Had the yankees paid a SOMEWHAT reasonable premium for Sabathia, and not signed burnett, they could have had Teixeira. And what a dual signing that would be-- Sabathia and Texeira??? I'd take that over Sabathia/Burnett any day.
As usual, The Ducks are wrong and totally are missing the point. Besides the fact that Texiera will cost $200M and Burnett $85M, there are more important issues.
Let's take the Sabathia deal where the Ducks said:

Ducks:I see your house is on the market and you're asking $750K, TPC.
TPC: Yep.
Ducks: Any offers so far?
TPC: Not really, I mean, one guy did offer $450K, not sure if he's serious, though.
Ducks: We'll give you $950K, TPC
TPC: Really?
Ducks: Ha. Nah. Make it $1.25 Mil
TPC: Deal, But if the house goes up in value over the next 3 years, I'd like to be able to opt-out.
Ducks: You got it.
The fact is, the Yankees offer of $23M a year is not much more than the original Brewers offer of $20M per year. Biggest difference is length of the contract and being C.C. is only 28, he will only be 35 his final year of the contract-essentially still in his formative years. Being Sabathia is a top 5 pitcher at worst right now, let's see other starters in that salary stratosphere.

Johan Santana, age 30 (2 years older than C.C.) $22.75M a year average over 6 years.
Carlos Zambrano age 27, $18.3M 5 years
Barry Zito age 30, $18M 6 years.
Jason Schmidt age 36, 1 more year at $15.6M

Obviously, Sabathia is on par in excellence only with Santana in that group. He's also a good peer, not just in terms of talent but in terms of economics and location (both play in NY). You can make a very good economic case that $20M per year for Milwaukee is a lot more than $23M per for the Yanks. In fact, the Brewers entire payroll was $81M last year, so C.C. would in essence be 25% of that. The Yankees had a $209M payroll, so C.C. comes in around 11%, less than half of the Brewers offer.
The Burnett deal I didn't like, not because the salary was more than others were offering (from all reports the Yankees offer was best because the guaranteed the 5th year), but because of the health risk and the fact that his prior 200IP seasons were all "walk years". That scares me. That has a lot of Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano rings to it.
The Ducks main contention was opportunity cost and the fact that this will prevent the Yankees from signing Texiera. That notion is 100% false, and here's why.
The Yankees payroll as of today is still $45M less than last year due to Giambi, Abreu, Pavano, Mussina, etc contracts coming off. They have made offers for Texiera, but the reports that I have read are the Yankees don't really love him that much. There is thought that he is a numbers compiler and when it comes to clutch situations, they don't want another A-Rod on their hands. Basically, they made the offer more as window dressing than anything else. A written by MLB.com's Tom Singer "There is a belief within the game that New York is feigning interest in Teixeira simply to drive up the price for Boston -- which, aside from its prior interest, now also needs the slugger to counter its rivals' hoarding of pitchers".
With that being said, the Yankees will probably sign another pitcher and a bat (possibly in the Mike Cameron deal). Buster Olney has reported the Yankees payroll will actually be 10-15% less than last year (plus the luxury tax savings) so in essence the Cashman plan of building through youth (Joba, Hughes, Cano, etc) and still being competitive is working. The staff is anchored by 4 guys who are under 30 (Sabathia, Burnett, Wang-28, and Joba-24). That is much different than the days of overspending for an aged rotation of Johnson, Brown, Mussina(who was worth the money but still in his mid 30's), Leiber, etc.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Week 15 NFL Fantasy Preview

Tampa at Atlanta 1PM EST

Tampa's defensive got blasted last week by an extremely impressive Carolina running game. I don't expect the same results this week, but Turner is a must start. Ryan is not a must start and if you have better options, I would use them. Roddy White as always is a must.
Garcia has been playing pretty well and he should be considered, whereas Antonio Bryant is a must start and Dunn could be used as a back end RB #2 or a flex starter. I would also start Tampa's D as they have owned Atlanta in their last 3 meetings.
Washington at Cincinnati 1PM EST
The Redskins, despite their recent struggles, have a few high end ranking plays this week.
Their D, Portis and Cooley are all top 5 at their respective positions this week. Santana Moss is a good WR #2 play and you can even consider Campbell if you don't have a better alternative.
Cincy has been so awful lately, I would only consider TJ and possibly Ocho Cinco. Benson is a desperate flex player this week. Redskins should get back on track in a big way.
Tennesse at Houston 1PM EST

A very intriguing matchup, the AFC's best D against the AFC's 2nd best offense.
Houston plays well with Schaub at the helm and although Tenn. has one of the top pass defenses (currently #3) Schaub is still a play and Andre Johnson is a must play. You also have to start Slaton, but I wouldn't expect a huge game. Walters should only be considered as a WR #3 and Daniels only if you don't have a better option at TE (which you probably don't).
You have to start both White and Johnson, both should have big days against a very poor Houston run D (9th worst in the league). Only other offensive player worth starting is Scaife and if you have really no choice (which I don't see how) you can play Collins.
Detroit at Indy 1PM EST

Peyton Manning owners, start your engines! Manning is the #1 QB play this season and despite the inconsistent seasons of Addai, Wayne and Clark, all are a must go against one of the worst teams in recent NFL history (KEEP IN MIND-AS OF THIS WRITING ADDAI IS VERY QUESTIONABLE. IF HE'S OUT, RHODES BECOMES A MUST START). Gonzalez is also a start as a WR#2/3 and the Colts D, which has been playing very well since Sanders came back are a top 3 option.
The only Lion that should see a fantasy roster is Calvin Johnson.

Green Bay at Jacksonville 1PM EST

A game between two predicted Super Bowl contenders has lost any luster except to fantasy players. Both defenses have played poorly and have underachieved which presents this as a great fantasy matchup.
Rodgers is a great start as always. Grant is a must start, as is Jennings and even Driver.
With the season ending injury to Fred Taylor, MJ Drew becomes a top 5 fantasy back. With Matt Jones out the rest of the way, Reggie Williams becomes a decent WR #2/3 option. Jerry Porter looks like he's very questionable at this point to play.

San Diego at KC 1PM EST

The NFL's most disappointing team gets a chance at some redemption this week- at least for fantasy owners. Phillip Rivers is the #2 play behind Manning and should see a better day than the one a few weeks ago, where the Chargers barely survived a 20-19 win at home vs. the lowly Chiefs. LT is a must start despite his seasons struggles. Jackson and Gates are also must starts.
For K.C., Thigpen is a top 12 QB option this week (as he has been). Gonzalez and Bowe are must starts and LJ is a good #2 RB against a very suspect Chargers D.

San Francisco at Miami 1PM EST

Amazingly, the Dolphins control their own destiny for the AFC East Crown. If they win out, they win the East. This after a 1-15 season! Incredible job by Tony Sparano who should be coach of the decade for this performance.
With that being said, Mike Singeltary has turned around the 49ers since taking over, with 3 wins in their last 4 games, including wins against the Dolphins AFC rivals, the Jets and Bills.
SF's D has been playing well as of late, therefore don't go crazy with the Dolphins. Brown is a decent RB #2 option and I would consider Chad as a starter, only if your left with no better options. However, I would consider Davone Bess as a WR #2/#3 option especially in PPR leagues. He has 20 receptions in his last 3 contests.
On the 49ers side of the ball, Hill is a decent option at QB. Gore is very questionable as of Friday AM, so you need to consider other options. If Foster starts I wouldn't give him more than Flex credit. Bruce is a good #2/3 WR this week as well.
Bills at Jets 1PM EST

Just 2 weeks ago the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS were making Super Bowl plans and now they are tied with NE and Miami with the worst schedule of the 3 down the stretch. What should we expect?
I think the Jets turn it around right here against a reeling Bills team. Thomas Jones who is quietly having a monster season (1300+ yards and 14 TD's) is a must start. This is the game the Jets got Favre for, and it says here, he delivers and delivers big. Start him. Also start Cocthery and Coles as WR 2/3's and Keller. I think the Jet offense is in for a big day. I would also start the Jets D. Their achilles has been their pass d, but I don't see this Bills team hurting them. If you have Lynch, you have to start him but I don't expect much more than a decent Flex position type return.

Seattle at St. Louis 1PM EST

What a matchup! Two 2-11 teams going head to head in week 15, what else could you ask for? Seattle sports fans, we feel for you. Seriously, how bad can one city have it? As ESPN's Sports Guy has written over and over, they have the worst situation of any city in professional sports right now. Well, at least for one week they get the lowly Rams.
The truth is, I don't know who to start in this one. Both defenses are awful, but the offenses aren't much better. I guess you have to go with Bulger, Holt, Avery and Jackson. On the Seattle side, Branch and Morris are decent plays and Carlsson is a top 5 TE start. Good luck if you have to watch this one. You might want to start drinking NOW.

Arizona at Minnesota 4PM EST

Another very good matchup with serious playoff implications. With Chicago's win last night and their easier schedule, Minny needs to keep pace to win the division. The Cards already clinched their division but they are playing for positioning.
As always, All Day AP is a top 3 RB play. The QB position is still up in the air, but I would consider Berrian as WR #3.
As always, the Cards are matchup proof and you start Warner, Boldin and Fitzgerald. Breaston can be used as WR#2 as well. They will all produce.

Pittsburgh at Baltimore 4PM EST

The defensive matchup of the week, possibly even the season. Start both defenses as always.
Only offensive player I would even consider is FWP, although Santonio Holmes has 4 TD's in his last 3 games vs. the Ravens. He's worth a shot as a WR#3.

Denver at Carolina 4PM EST

Another good fantasy matchup. Both teams assure themselves of a playoff birth with a win, so much to play for.
Carolina's defense has been underwhelming the last few weeks and they get a real tough test with this Denver passing offense. However, the Denver offense has been less than stellar when they don't have a running game, and with Hillis out for the season, this puts it all on Cutlers shoulders. What does this mean? Good fantasy numbers for Cutler, Marshall, Schefler and Royal, but I think Carolina comes away with a win, with Denver playing catchup most of the day.
Add to that the fact that the Carolina running game has been on fire, led by the hottest fantasy back in the game Deangelo Williams, Denvers defense is in for a long game. Obviously, Williams is a top 5 start, Stewart is a must as a RB #2. Steve Smith is a must start as always and you could do worse than Delhomme this week, although Williams and Stewart will eat up the scoring.

New England at Oakland 4PM EST

I can't get the Raiders right this season. One week they play hard, next week they dont show up. Every week, they are still a very subpar football team.
Cassel is a top 10 play this week. Moss and Welker are usual starts. You could do worse than Sammy Morris as a RB #2 and Faulk as a Flex player. I also love the NE Defense this Sunday.
Oakland? If you own any of them besides Miller- a good start as a TE (and if you do, you're season is over and you probably aren't reading this anyway) leave them on the bench, unless you're desperate for a RB/ Flex, then go with Fargas. If your league counts poor QB play as a plus, JaMarcus is your man!

New York Giants at Dallas 8:15PM EST

In the featured matchup of the week, the Giants look to take a step closer to clinching home field throughout while the Cowboys hold on for dear playoff life. With all this going on, Terrel Owens decides to go into self destructive mode and criticize Romo for favoring Witten. Not a good thing to do especially with the Giants coming off that loss last week. It says here, hide the Dallas women and children, the Giants will be taking no prisoners this week. Only thing that can help Dallas is if Brandon Jacobs does not play Sunday.
For fantasy purposes, you can start Eli as a low 1st/ high 2nd option. I would start Ward if Jacobs cant go and Boss. I would play the Giants D.
You always have to start TO, Romo, and Witten. I would even consider Choice if Barber can't go.

Cleveland at Philadelphia Monday 8:30 PM EST

Cleveland has looked horrendous in recent weeks, while Philly is surging, trying to claim the last NFC wild card spot. Cleveland has scored a combined 21 points their last 3 weeks and it wont get easier here. Bench all Browns. Right now. Don't even make a mistake of over sleeping between now and Sunday. Just get them the heck out of your lineup. I almost feel bad for Dorsey this week- although not to bad as I start the Eagles D! Obviously, the Eagles D is a great play.
McNabb, Westbrook and Desean Jackson are great plays. This will be a romp and this could be one of those 3-4 TD type games for Westbrook.

Good luck to all those still in their playoffs!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Yanks Get Their Man C.C.- The People's Take

Typical of the way things work in the New York Baseball scene, less than 12 hours after the Mets sign the best Free Agent Closer available in K-Rod (around 3PM yesterday afternoon, The Mets and Francisco Rodriguez today agreed on a three-year, $37 million contract- which by the way is an amazing deal for the Amazin's, considering K-Rod entered the market, wanting 5 years and $75M), The Yankees signed the #1 Free Agent Pitcher on the market, agreeing to terms with C.C. Sabathia at around 2AM EST last night on a 7 year $160M deal, the richest deal for a pitcher in ML history. Despite various reports and rumors, Sabathia didn't wait for that West Coast offer that was supposedly coming (either from the Giants, Dodgers or Angels) and went to New York for the big bucks and the bigger responsibility.
The Yankees spend $25M more on Sabathia and kept prospects Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Melky Cabrera (some even think Robinson Cano) rather than going for Johan Santana last season.
The big question is, did they make the right decision?
First and foremost, lets take money out of the equation. Yes. I know we are talking about a combined $285Millllllllllllion dollars here (read in Dr. Evil voice with pinky dangling from the corner of your mouth), but this is the Yankees and the Yankees have more money than pretty much everyone these days-including the Federal Government (and you can make a good case they spend theirs a lot wiser). When it comes to money, the Yankees $160M is a lot less to them than say $160M to any other major league franchise. They just have so much more of it with playing in the NY market, their own TV network, the new Stadium, etc.
The real question here is: Is C.C., Hughes, Kennedy and Melky worth more than Santana?
Statistically speaking, Santana has been the best pitcher in baseball the last 6 years, bar none. CC has been the best the last 2, winning the CY Young Award in the AL for 2007 and having one of the great runs in recent ML history last season when he was traded to the Brewers (11-2 1.65 ERA 7CG 3 SHO in 17 games started, including pitching his last 3 times on 3 days rest). Santana is a year younger than CC. Career wise, they are close in IP, however CC has averaged roughly 20 more IP a season the last 3 than Santana. They are both extremely durable. They both pitched incredibly down the stretch this season allowing for each of their respective teams to stay in the race to the last day. For their careers, C.C.'s best month has been September, closely followed by August, whereas Johan finishes similarly strong, just being a tad better in August than September. In other words, when the going gets tough down the stretch, these two legitimate aces can carry their teams on their backs- a must for a #1 starter.
Last season was a perfect example of this: Santana was 7-0 in 87 IP with 81 k's and an ERA of 1.87 from August 1 till seasons end last year (as I wrote here, he should have been the NL CY Young). Not to be outdone, Sabathia was 7-2 in 92 IP with a 1.55 ERA and 94 k's, which included pitching on 3 days rest his final 3 starts, which is unheard of these days, to get the Brewers in the playoffs.
One disconcerting issue with both (Sabathia more than Santana) is their failure to "keep it up" into the postseason. Both have losing records and both have been far from duplicating their regular seasons success in the postseason, with C.C. being far worse, getting shelled twice by Boston last year and once by the Phillies this season. You can't ignore this aspect, but you can also attribute the fact that they were both depended on possibly too much down the stretch (especially in C.C.'s case) that possibly we can attribute that to their (and especially Sabathia's) lack of postseason success.
Clearly we can see, in both cases, this is far from signing a severely declining Barry Zito, or a one year health wonder in Pavano. Both guys are at the top of the Pitching food chain for years, always healthy and in their respective primes. This more closely resembles the Braves signing of Maddux (just after winning his first CY Young) and the Yankees initial 7 year signing of Mike Mussina, both very successful signings.
The fact is, the Yankees spent an extra $25m for a pitcher very similar in stature and caliber to Santana, and I say that with the highest respect for both. They kept 3 prospects (leave Cano out of this for now) who have lost tremendous value over the last year. However, keep in mind, Hughes wont turn 23 until mid season. Kennedy will be only 24 in two weeks and Melky (also 24)- who has already proven himself both offensively (despite last years regression) and defensively (no one argues about Melky's defensive prowess)- to be at worst, a good #4 major league OF'er. You don't give up on guys who have had this much success while they are so young.
While Hughes' durability is a huge question that needs to be answered, he has shown ability-extreme ability- at the major league level, to hold out a lot of hope (including postseason success). He also pitched well in Winter Ball this season, to continue that hope.
Kennedy has shown much less at the major league level, however there is still hope here as well. He has also pitched well in winter ball and is working with his former coach on some mechanic changes that some scouts liken to Tom Glavine's early career troubles (not to compare for a second the two vastly different pitchers).
The People's take is the Yankees did the right thing. All they sacrificed was money and they have plenty of that to go around, especially with their recent expiring contracts (Pettite, Mussina, Abreu, Giambi, etc). They still have their youth movement. They have a core rotation of 3 studs 30 or under (C.C., Wang and Joba). They still need help both in pitching depth (reports have it, that the Yanks are close to signing Derrek Lowe for 4 years $68M and possibly even A.J. Burnett- it says here signing AJ will be a huge mistake). This signing goes a long way towards the Yankees regaining their supremacy in the A.L. East. Great move by Cashman and the Yanks.
Publish Post

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Week 14 Fantasy Football Outlook- The Playoff Stretch

As we head down the stretch, many leagues are now starting their fantasy football playoffs. In TPC's head to head league, TPC has been officially eliminated and will not defend his 2007 fantasy crown. However, all is not lost in TPCville as The People's League enters the final 4 weeks of the season with TPC second to Plain Dan in his quest for Fantasy Glory.
Here are my week 13 thoughts and predictions:
The Raiders will keep it close tonight, but in the end LT should be too much for the inept Raiders run defense. Also, I'm not so sure Rivers will have his typical monster game. The Raiders defend the pass reasonably well.
I love Forte against Jax. He's a stud pick this week.
I don't like any Jags at all.
AP is the start of the week against the inept Lions and wouldn't be surprised to see him go for 200+. There isn't a player in the NFL more fun to watch than Mr. All Day.
I would also start Taylor if you have a flex position available. I think 75 yards and TD is well within his reach.
The Vikings D is also a solid play.
I like all the Packers main skill guys against the shoddy Texan D and I love Slaton against the porous Packers run defense. GB usually plays well against the pass, so I would only consider Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels here. Other plays are weak. They do get slightly upgraded if Schaub is playing. He also makes Daniels a much better option.
All Colts, as usual, are a go, including their D against Cincy. Manning and Co. are starting to really click and this week will be no exception.
I love Brees, Colston, Shockey, and Moore for New Orleans and Ryan, Turner and White for Atlana. Should be a shootout of a game.
As always, you need to start Westbrook, but I wouldn't go with any other Eagles unless you have to (unless you start Jackson as a WR #3). Jacobs, Boss and Toomer are all good plays (Toomer only as WR 3). I don't think you're going to see the scoring like the last time these two squads went head to head (NY winning 36-31). I would play Eli over McNabb as the Eagles will focus on stopping the run after the Giants pounded 219 rushing yards against them last meeting.
Quick Eli numbers: In 3 games without Plax he has completed 71% of his passes for 812 yards, 6 Td's and 1 INT, going 3-0 in those games. In other words, Giants will be just fine without Plax.
You can feel comfortable starting Johnson and White and the Tennessee D is the #1 defensive play this week against the Dorsey led Browns. This game will be over quickly and I wouldn't go near any Cleveland players this week.
I'm not sure which Buffalo team will show up this week, but their only must play is Lynch. Miami lucks out playing indoors in Toronto, rather than outside in Buffalo, therefore Pennington becomes a legit starter. As always, Brown is a start. I would consider Miami's D against Losman as well.
Cutler is the #1 QB play this week vs. KC. Hillis is a strong start. Brandon Marshall, Scheffler and Royal are all must plays. The will avenge their week 5 loss in a big way at home and take full control of the AFC West.
Thigpen is a good start as always. Larry Johnson is a great start. He ran for 198 yards in their last meeting. Bowe and Gonzalez are also stud plays for KC.
Start the Jets D. They will respond big time against SF. Jones is a great play. I would consider Favre if you don't have a clear better play. Cotchery and Coles are decent WR 2 and 3 options. Keller has become a must start each week.
You have to start Gore, but I think he's in for a long day against an angry Jets D.
Cassel should have a better game this week than last against a poor Seahawks D. I like the Pats D. Obviously, Moss and Welker are must starts. You could also get away with Morris as a RB #2 this week. I wouldn't start any Seahawks. There in for a long day after the whooping the Steelers put on the Pats last week.
Play all your Cards, as in the Arizona Cardinals. Warner is the #2 QB play this week. Boldin, Fitzgerald and Breaston are all good plays. Even Hightower is a good play. I would even consider the usually inept Arizona D here.
Only play for the Rams is Stephen Jackson. You can play Holt and Avery as WR 3's, but i wouldn't expect much out of either. Gun to my head, Avery is the better of the two this week.
In the Marquee matchup of the week, you got to start Big Ben, FWP, Holmes and Ward. I'm not sold on the Dallas D at all. You also have to play Barber, Romo, Wittin and TO (as you do every week), but I see Pitt winning this one 21-10 or something along those lines. I have no faith in Dallas in a physical matchup and the Steelers are the epitome of a physical D.
Stay away from all Redskins except Portis. I like Baltimore's D and Campbell hasn't shown much against a good D to date. Flacos is a decent play. I wouldn't start any of the Ravens RB. Mason is a good play especially in PPR leagues.
In the Monday night showdown featuring the NFC South's top two squads, I would feel very comfortable starting the Bucs D, Garcia and Dunn. Only Panther I would start is Steve Smith. They will show they are the worst 9-3 team in the game this week.

Good luck to all you still in the playoffs.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

RotoNation - Fantasy Sports News, Notes, Jobs, Games, Tools

Looks like some industry experts picked up on our Garnett Gate and here is their view.

RotoNation - Fantasy Sports News, Notes, Jobs, Games, Tools

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Moving on from Mumbai- Why we should really be thankful

When we heard of the news in Mumbai over the weekend we all were disgusted, scared and at least until Friday afternoon, hopeful the Holtzberg's would somehow, someway, find their way to safety.
Unfortunately, we now know that wasn't the case. We have all read reports of the suffering the Holtzberg's endured prior to their executions at the hands of the Perah Adom- Bnei Yishmoel. We have read that they were amongst the first executed and the torture they endured prior to their deaths. We know they were first because they were Jews and the Jews are the ultimate enemy of the Perah Adom-Bnei Yishmoel.
So what do we do now? We moved on from 9-11 and from all the suicide bombings in the Holy Land of Israel. We move on because we have to, because as the Chovos Halevovos taught us, the gift of memory and lack thereof is one that G-d has given us so we can endure and move on from these and other likewise situations. But what do we move on to? Where are we moving on from?
You read about the Holtzberg's and their unbelievable Mesiras Nefesh to try and make this a better world for us all. We read about a family who picks up and moves to some G-d forsaken city on the other side of the world, with no one but themselves to just try and pick up and spark up the small bits of holiness that might exist in that place. They do it just because maybe some Yid needs a place to eat while on a business trip or maybe some lost Soul, in trying to discover the religions of the East has one last hope to come back to his Father in Heaven. The Holtzberg's aren't the only ones doing this. There are many, many, many different people in different places, some as far away as Mumbai and some just around the corner or perhaps even your next door neighbor doing similar great acts.
And that is the whole point of all this. The Jewish religion is one that preaches love, peace, harmony and Kavod Habriyos (respect and love for all of G-d's creations). This is the direct opposite of the Islamic Fundamentalists, who's lives center around destruction, murder, hatred and the mutilation of all that is beautiful in this world. They raise their children to await the day that they can cause such tremendous pain and suffering to the world, so that they can murder innocent women and children, destroying any fabric of a productive and healthy society (the images of the murderous Perah Adom dancing in the streets as the Towers burned still prevail in mine and many minds).
I'm sure most of you have heard your local Rabbi's this week preach of doing better, doing one extra mitzvah, helping one more person, saying one more tefillah, etc in the Zchus and Memory of the Holy Holtzberg's. That's typical of what we hear during these times. Do one more act of Chesed in memory of the Holtzberg's. Give a little more charity in their memory. While all that is good and should be done, we need to do something a lot more simple. We need to just recognize who we are and how different we are than the destructive vermin that cause this suffering. We need to just look at what our lives and communities are surrounded around (minus all the usual nonsense). How we sacrifice (not with our lives but with our LIVES) for our children, how we support so many institutions that center around people who can't afford either schooling, food, rent, etc. How we suffer when our friends and neighbors suffer. How we hurt when we her of some stranger going through a difficult time. We need to reflect that yes maybe everything isn't perfect in how we conduct our lives and maybe we should compromise more, but more importantly the fact that we can think that way and act that way is reason enough to be thankful. Thankful that we dream of watching our children learn and grow and hope that one day they will raise a beautiful family of their own, and not hoping our children grow up to be the cause and destruction and mutilation to someone elses family and dreams. We need to remember we live in a world filled with beauty and hope and all we need to do is focus on that and realize how far we are from the Perah Adom who has caused all this pain.
We can then wake up every morning screaming "Modeh Ani Lefanetha, MELECH CHAI V'KAYOM!" knowing that we may not know why, or we may not like what is happening, but still, we love who we are and we know from how we live, we were created in the Image of G-d.
It's not much, but it's everything. It's the easiest thing to do, yet the hardest thing to remember.
Then, and only then will we truly realize how great the Holtzberg's and many like them really are.