Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fantasy Picks - Week 2

QB - Jamarcus Russell
Russell surprisingly didn't look TOO bad vs the Chargers, so I have to imagine he'll have a pretty god day against one of the softest defenses in the league. It also helps that Brandon Flowers just may very well be out for this game. Of course, a player like this always comes with a risk, but if you need a favorable matchup, this is one of the best you're gonna get.
Projection: 22/38, 348 yards, 2 TD, 1 int

RB - Mewelde Moore
Mew isn't going to get you a bunch of rushing yards. However, he does bring in receiving value, which could be huge against a Bears defense without Urlacher. I expect the Chicago front to keep a lid on Parker and Mendenhall, and then the Steelers will fall back to the passing game. That's when Moore comes in. When Ben is going to check down, its going to be to Mew, and without Urlacher there to terrorize the middle of the field, he could bust some huge plays.
Projection: 4 carries, 9 yards. 8 catches, 94 yards, 1 TD

WR - Louis Murphy
Two Raiders? Even I'll admit this is ridiculous. However, the same case with Russell, Murphy has an incredibly favorable matchup, even more so without Flowers, and he's easily the most talented (active) WR on the team, and the only deep threat on the team that can actually catch. I fully expect Murphy and Zach Miller to account for most of the receiving yards just like the SD game.
Projection: 10 catches, 142 yards, 2 TDs

TE - Robert Royal
Brady Quinn loves him some TEs. And with the Broncos' surprisingly improved secondary, Quinn is going to hit 'em early and often. It's obvious he has no affinity with his WRs, Braylon in particular, so treat this guy as CLE's WR1.
Projection: 12 catches, 122 yards, 1 TD

Defense - Washington Redskins
Kinda obvious here, but not a good week for defense matchups. A solid defense vs a just terrible offense should be snapped up ASAP if available, which it usually is in most leagues.
Projection: 6 points surrendered, 6 sacks, 2 ints, TD

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fantasy Picks - Week 1

A weekly look at some favorable matchups for the less than obvious players. There'll be no "Start of the Week: Adrian Peterson vs. the Lions" here.

QB - David Garrard - High Risk Warning
Garrard has an improved o-line, and what seems to be fairly competent receivers. They should be more than match for Indy's banged up secondary. Bob Sanders is confirmed to be out, Marlin Jackson may sit out as well, and if Bethea and Hayden play, they'll be playing at less than 100%. Garrard has a good enough arm to exploit the broken secondary, but as I said, he comes with a risk; The Jags will be starting two rookie tackles vs. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.
Prediction: 24/32, 344 yds, 3 TDs, 1 int

RB - Leon Washington
Washington is out to prove he's with the monster contract he's been demanding, and Jets seem willing to give him the opportunities to do so. His first chance comes against the Texans, who just traded away their best run stopper in the middle. He'll likely still be the second horse to Thomas Jones, but he has enough explosiveness that he'll like finish the game with a much better statline.
Prediction: 11 carries for 102 yards, 5 catches for 47 yards, 2 total TDs

WR - Anthony Gonzalez
Taking over as the new featured receiver opposite Reggie Wayne, he faces a favorable matchup against the Jaguars porous secondary. With Rashean Mathis shadowing Wayne all day, Gonzo2 should have no problem getting open and hauling in some big ones. The only thing that could take away from a big day for him is losing targets to an equally good play: Dallas Clark.
Prediction: 7 catches, 112 yds, 2 TDs

TE - Jeremy Shockey
Okay, kinda obvious. Any player vs the Lions is a near sure bet, but Shockey has been going undrafted in most leagues, which makes for an insane pickup value at the TE position. Shockey is athletic and strong, and finally seems to be on the same page as Brees, making for a monster matchup.
Prediction: 6 catches, 96 yds, TD

Defense - New Orleans Saints
The suspensions of Will Smith and Charles Grant are officially on hold for at least Week 1, meaning the newly energized pass rush will be in full effect against a weak o-line and a rookie QB. New DC Gregg Williams is taking a more aggressive stand with the defense, and will use every trick he's got to harass the rookie signal caller.
Prediction: 6 points surrendered, 4 sacks, 2 ints

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Finishing the Records

A quick cap off of my projected records since the season is sneaking up on us quicker than I realized.

Chicago Bears 9-7
Detroit Lions 3-12
Green Bay Packers 11-5
Minnesota Vikings 8-8

The Bears adding Cutler was a nice story for them, but they lack enough weapons for him to lead the team through the division, and the Vikes may have the "best back in the league" but ultimately, I think it's the Packers and their potent offense that'll take the North.

Atlanta Falcons 8-8
Carolina Panthers 8-8
New Orleans Saints 11-5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-14

All of the South faces a pretty rough schedule this year. I don't really like putting the Falcons and Panthers at 8-8 each, but looking at the schedule, I really can't do better. The Saints have the best chance to take the division this year with their potent offense, and a defense that amazingly looks dramatically improved from last year. I can't the bucs doing anything other than a tailspin.

Arizona Cardinals 7-9
San Francisco 49ers 9-7
Seattle Seahawks 6-10
St. Louis Rams 1-15

No homer. Honestly. Looking at the matchups, trying without any bias, this is what I expect from the West. I think Warner is going to struggle this year, and we'll be seeing Leinart again sooner than later. The Niners are going smashmouth with Gore, and with Hill managing the passing game, they should be able to pile up a respectable amount of wins-- even if they would end up going absolutely nowhere in the playoffs. The Seahawks aren't a terrible team, but they really need to get their house in order. I honestly believe they'll do better next year, but not this one. The Rams, however, ARE a terrible team.

My Super Bowl prediction?
Chargers 24
Saints 27
Won in the final seconds of the game.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Projected Records - NFC East

Dallas Cowboys 8-8
Keys to .500: The East is stacked, and the 'Boys have a pretty rough schedule. That, coupled with the loss of their biggest offensive playmaker spells trouble. Dallas has one of the deepest backfields in the league, but are now extremely think at WR after the departure of Terrell Owens. Roy Williams should step up and make an adequate replacement for the perrenial Pro Bowler, but after him, the most talented receivers on the field are the tight ends. Look for one of the most run heavy Cowboys teams in years as they try to get all three of their starting -calibur backs involved in the action. The defense isn't too spectacular either, lacking real playmakers after Ware and Ratliff, without even a solid #2 CB (Which they recently declared will be a rotation between youngsters Scandrick and Jenkins). The vanilla coaching wont do anything to help the situation either. And then there's always the December Curse...

Philadelphia Eagles 12-4
Keys to Vicktory: I don't think there is a more solid team in the division, maybe even the conference. Even if he is in decline, McNabb is one of the most complete QBs in the league; srtong-armed, accurate, smart, athletic, and quick. They addressed their messy backup QB issue by signing the controversial Michael Vick, who is rusty right now, but showing flashes of his old self. Once he gets up to speed, he'll probably be the best backup QB in the league. Their offensive line looks fantastic on papers after acquiring Peters and Andrews. Brent Celek has stepped up as a more than capable starting TE, their WRs are incredibly deep, they drafted a RB who may very well end up being Westbrook Jr. and the defense is just studly even after losing Brian Dawkins and Lito Shepperd. Not to mention they have a ton of Wildcat weapons now with Vick, DeSean, and Westbrook. If I weren't biased, the Eagles would by my pick to represent the NFC in the Superbowl.

New York Giants 8-8
Keys to .500: I want to rate the Giants lower, I really do, but they benefit from a painfully easy schedule. Of course, the biggest headlines out of the Giants' camp this year was Plaxico being stupid (I loved hearing Jim Brown rip into him) and Derrick Ward departing for Tampa. Bradshaw looks ready to take Ward's old role, but who will take Plaxico's? Right now, the starters are Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith. Unless the Giant's plan on having Hixon paralyze all the defenders around him, I can't see this passing game working with a mediocre QB and even more mediocre WRs. The defense will likely be as stout as last year, but they better prepare to be on the field a lot more. If the Giants want to do any better than .500, they'll have to lean heavily on Jacobs and the defense. And I mean heavily.

Washington Redskins 10-6
Keys to Success: If any team is willing to pay players, it's the Redskins. The dropped cash bombs on Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall, and added to these defensive beasts by drafting one of the top defensive prospects, Brian Orakpo. While the defense looks really good, they have some trouble on the other side of the ball. The offensive line is weak, Portis is in decline, and none of their receivers has stepped up to take the #2 job next to Santana Moss. The bright side? Jason Campbell is in a contract year, and he's playing for his career. He knows if he wants to be anything more than a backup, he has to step up and lead the team this year, meaning that no matter who the #2 WR, Campbell is going to do his best to put his WRs in a position to make plays. I expect him to take command of this offense and drive it like we've never seen him do before, and with the help of a solid defense, he may just be able to win them games, and the Skins could be a surprise playoff team.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Projected Records - AFC West

Denver Broncos 3-13
Keys to Defeat: This team is a complete mess. I can't help but wonder if Pat Bowlen's nightmares consist of seeing genius football coach Mike Shanahan's face and hearing the worse "You're fired" come out of his own mouth. Bringing in "wonder child" Josh McDaniels has turned a playoff contender into a complete joke of a team, and just might be COMPLETELY INSANE. Knowing full well that he has one of the best young QBs in the league, coming off a pro bowl season, Josh decides to go after Matt Cassel with only one year of success under his belt in a much superior offense than Denver's. This causes the entire soap opera that led to the blockbuster Cutler-to-Bears trade which brought noodle arm QB Kyle Orton to start for the Broncos. What could have been the second highest powered offense in the league after New England now just looks like a joke. Hopefully, early pick Knowshon Moreno gives the running game the spark it sorely needs, but if Orton can't open up the passing game, well.. I don't to state the obvious. The defense isn't much better than last year, Brian Dawkins was a great acquisition, but the secondary, while skilled, is ancient, the youngest starter being 30 years old. I don't think the linebackers they're trying to use are going to fit with Mike Nolan's new defense either. In the end, the only games I think the Broncos can win at this point in time are teams with offenses as bad as their own; Oakland and Cleveland. Though to be perfectly honest, I wouldn't be too surprised if either teams came away with a win over this miserable team.

Kansas City Chiefs 6-10
Keys to Defeat: Though Denver flirted with Matt Cassel, it was the Chiefs who got him. It was believed that Cassel would be the uncontested starter, pushing promising youngster Tyler Thigpen into the backup spot, but word is that forgotten man Brodie Croyle could be under center in week one. Obviously, this isn't going to happen, they didn't give Cassel franchise money to sit on the bench. It does make it interesting, though. Was Cassel worth the money? He's coming off a good year, yes, but he had one of the best groups of WRs in the league to work with, a great offensive line, and a solid enough defense to keep him from constantly playing from behind. He doesn't have any of that in KC. And to make things worse, playing behind NE's dominant line, with most of his snaps in the shotgun, Cassel still took 47 sacks. He'll now be playing under center of a much weaker line. The running game is interesting at least, as Larry Johnson is looking to redeem himself after some legal and motivational issues, but finds himself in a competition to start with speedster Jamaal Charles. All in all, if the line can pass protect, the team is beyond doomed, because the defense isn't going to hold anyone off.

Oakland Raiders 4-12
Keys to Defeat: Al Davis.

San Diego Chargers 12-4
Keys to Victory: You can honestly mark them down for a free 6-0 right now. They'll sweep the division. Easily. Beyond that, Merriman is back, and it's going to be noticeable. With the pass rush element back, there is going to be a lot more shaky throws for the Bolts' talented secondary to take advantage of. And for an extra boost, they brought in LB prospect Larry English who could make a pretty decent impact right away, and may even step in to Merriman's shoes in a year or two. The defense should be back to it's dominant form, perhaps even more so now that it'll be in full swing with defensive guru Ron Rivera this year. On the offensive side of the ball, Philip Rivers is now filthy rich, being paid, deservedly, as one of the top QBs in the league. He may not have a ton of weapons after Gates and Jackson, but he's skilled enough to work with what he has, and is quite possibly the toughest QB in the game today. It'll help him that Tomlinson is out to prove that age is nothing but a number, and may do just that with the "Lightning Bug" Darren Sproles ready to take on a slightly increased role, which will help keep LT fresh and healthy longer. The Chargers will coast easily into the play offs and, once again, knock on the door of the Super Bowl as one of the most solid franchises in the league.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Projected Records - AFC South

Houston Texans 10-6
Keys to Victory: The Texans are a young team, but they've improved quickly. Over time, they've assembled the pieces, from Carr to Schaub, Green to Slaton, they finally have the team capable of taking them to the playoffs. With a talented young defense, all the Texans need to really do is perform on offense to make to the post season. They definitely have weapons; Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Steve Slaton, Owen Daniels. If Schaub can stay healthy, Houston can go far. While I think the team has potential, I think they need to work a little harder for the glory, and they wont make it very far in the play offs quite yet. All in due time, though. All in due time.

Indianapolis Colts 12-4
Keys to Victory: Manning. Manning, Manning, Manning, and Manning. Probably the greatest QB in the game since Steve Young(nh), Manning will take the colts to another winning record, and another playoff appearance. A lot of people think the Colts will slide this year, but I disagree. They haven't lost much, Marvin Harrison is gone and makes room for the fresh, young talent. Anthony Gonzalez is more than ready to step up and be one of Manning's new go-to guys, and the addition of Donald Brown should breathe new life into the running game. Not only will he help keep Addai fresh, but he has plenty of play making ability of his own. The only obstacle the Colts face is their defense. Bob Sanders may start the season on PUP, Marlin Jackson is having problems with his surgically repaired knee, Kelvin Hayden has a significant hamstring injury, and Antoine Bethea broke his hand. That's every single starter in the secondary injured, and if this carries into regular season, the Colts will have some real trouble. They're already soft against the run, though the re-addition of Ed Johnson should help a bit, and the LBs are mediocre at best, which leaves the tandem of Mathis and Freeney to carry the defense. Good luck guys, you'll need it.

Jacksonville Jaguars 6-10
Keys to Defeat: The biggest problem the Jags had last year was the offensive line. It was old, banged up, and just.. Not very good. The Jags have revamped, however, bringing in Tra Thomas, Tony Pashos, rookies Eugene Monroe and Eben Briton. The line is significantly improved now, unfortunately, their second biggest problem is still a problem: Wide Receiver. They brought in Torry Holt, but it remains to be seen if he can still play at a high level at his age, and seem to have a couple promising players in Mike Walker and Mike Thomas but on paper, the passing game looks very, very weak. They also have yet to see if Maurice Jones-Drew can handle the load as a feature back. You can also add David Garrard to the long list of QBs who need to step up this season. As for the other side of the ball, the Jags lack a clear #2 CB opposite Rashean Mathis, and have very few play makers. They need their young DEs to step up and generate a pass rush to get the defense off the field as quickly as possible, but I don't see that happening.

Tennessee Titans 8-8
Keys to .500: The Titans are going to miss Haynesworth. One of the most fearsome players on defense, his presence alone made offenses think twice about running it up the middle or staying in the pocket too long. Teams are going to take advantage of his departure, and it's going show. However, the Titans still have a great defense, the secondary can make plays, and they still have a good pass rush. The defense wont be the problem. It's the offense; Collins got the Titans to the play offs riding a hot running game and some short passes, but he needs to do more than that. Especially since defenses know exactly what to look for now, speedster Chris Johnson is not a secret any more, and he's going to have to work harder to get into the open field. With some serious talent at WR now, Collins has no excuse to survive on mediocre play. In the end, I think he's going to manage the Titans right into the .500 crowd, and come up just short of the playoffs.

Projected Records - AFC North

Baltimore Ravens 6-10
Keys to Defeat: The Ravens have been known the past several years for their merciless and unyielding defense, but facts are facts. Ray Lewis is declining, Bart Scott is gone, Chris McAlister is gone, and most importantly, Rex Ryan is gone. Ed Reed remains one of the most elite Safeties in league, and they have a very good defensive line, but that's not going to cut it. Outside of Reed, the secondary now looks like a weakness, and the offense has problems of their own. From day one, I never believed Joe Flacco was the answer, and I'm still unconvinced the kid has the accuracy and vision to lead the team. I think that Troy Smith gives them the best chance to win, but I doubt he'll get the chance. It doesn't help Flacco's situation that the only real receiving threat on the team is the aging Derrick Mason, who already has a flirtation with retirement. Clayton and Williams are too injury prone to be counted on for a full load, and for some reason the team wants to keep the ball out of Todd Heap's hands. The only real bright spot on the team is the running game, which should feature a healthy rotation of the talented young Ray Rice, the powerful LeRon McClain who has a nose for the end zone, and the aging Willis McGahee, who still shows flashes of play making ability. However, it's not going to be enough to carry them back to a winning record.

Cincinnati Bengals 9-7
Keys to Victory: This years Hard Knocks stars. If there is anyone in the league who believes in giving people second (and occasionally third) chances, its Marvin Lewis. And sometimes, it pays off. Cedric Benson may not be the ideal starting RB, but he works for his keep and fights for every yard, and Chris Henry has looked terrific so far in preseason action as he works to redeem himself and show off his natural play making talent. The Bengals could easily find themselves knocking on the door of the playoffs if not for two big issues that must be addressed before they can get there; The offensive line and the defense. The line is full holes, and as of now, promising rookie Andre Smith remains unsigned. The Bengals need the offense to step up and protect Palmer or they're going to find themselves in trouble reminiscent of last year. The defense is pretty weak all around, with Leon Hall being their best player on the defensive side. It's hard not to like the value they got grabbing Rey Maulaluga in the second round, but there's a reason he slipped. There were plenty of whispers circulating pre-draft that Rey was no more than a two down player. The Bengals better hope the rumors were wrong, because they need a play maker right away.

Cleveland Browns 7-9
Keys to Defeat: I want to think the Browns will do better than this, but I just can't. The defense is too soft, and the offensive isn't aggressive enough. The team was willing to make the QB battle between Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn, but at this point, it seems pretty obvious Quinn will be the starter on day one. Anderson has shown nothing of his 2007 form, and while Quinn has hardly been spectacular, he's playing better ball than Anderson. Braylon Edwards should look better this year, as he's looking to prove he's not a butterfingered bust, just in case the team feels it's time to sever ties with him. The Browns did a ton draft day trading, but what they did come away with in the draft, they've been happy with, praising the abilities of rookie WRs Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massoquoi, and loving the development of rookie RB James Davis, who could emerge as a real threat to Jamal Lewis' job. In addition to their rookie WRs, the Browns brought in veteran receivers David Patten and Mike Furrey, and while they may have traded away one of the better TEs in the league, they have a ton of depth at WR to make up for it. If Quinn can get the offense clicking, I think they can do better than my current projection, but until I see him step up, I think this is the best case scenario for them.
Cleveland fans, hope that Quinn finally will be busy on Sundays.

Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4
Keys to Victory: The defending Superbowl Champions. I have to admit, I'm surprised to say that. I didn't think the Steelers would make it to the big game but they did. Coming off of the second championship win of the Roethlisberger era and and underwhelming draft, the Steelers look to remain king of the hill in the AFC North and easily march right back into the playoffs with one of the best defenses in the league. That defense (which only allowed a sparse 10 points per game last year) figures to be the highlight of the year once again, as I refuse to believe that the Steelers have any sort of dynamic offense. The running game is average at best, the oline is letting Big Ben take too much pressure, and way too many hits, and Superbowl MVP Santonio Holmes is the most talented WR on the team, but that's not saying much. While Big Ben may have the rings, he's hardly one of the "best QBs in the league" like most people like to tag him. He reminds me a bit of Joe Flacco, benefiting from having a superior team around him from the start. (Disclaimer: I am not comparing Joe and Ben's talent, only their situation) There's no denying the team has the ability to make the playoffs, they will. Will they make it to the big game? No. But then, I said that last year too.