Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Week One Observations

I didn’t plan on writing Observations this year. I won’t every week, but the NFL season opened on such a compelling note I just couldn’t help myself. The week featured several thrilling games, including two stone cold heartstoppers. This may have been the most exciting overall slate of games I have seen since I started watching religiously in 2007. I put together a few observations, with more of a fantasy focus than in years past.

1. Eli Manning, overrated for years, looks fantastic. He had three interceptions but none were his fault. Each bounced off a receiver’s hands. Manning could be the best player on the Giants.

2. Matt Moore put on his Jake Delhomme costume Sunday against the Giants. He was tossing the ball into double coverage without a care in the world, casually fumbling the ball while taking massive sacks, and consistently sabotaging his team’s chances to win. Let the Clausen era begin.

3. With Trent Edwards it has never been about accuracy. If I see Edwards throw another three yard pass on 3rd and 10 I am going to lose my lunch.

4. Davone Bess remains the most consistent medium-low production player in fantasy. He’s best as a flex shoring up strong rosters.

5. This could be the worst Colts run defense yet. They have to have the lead. Arian Foster and Steve Slaton were running through holes as wide as two-lane roads.

6. Same Chris Johnson.

7. Same Raiders.

8. September 12, 2010 is the day I finally gave up on Alex Smith. The Niners can’t be far behind.

9. The Cardinals probably would have won Super Bowl XLIII if someone had been able to tackle James Harrison on his 100-yard interception return. On Sunday, Steve Breaston made what will likely hold up as the hustle play of the season, tracking down Rams DT Clifton Ryan and stripping him of the ball on a similar play. As you watch this video, note where Breaston was when the ball was stripped from Derek Anderson. The Cardinals likely would have lost the game (the division??) if not for Breaston's heroics.

10. Awesome crowds from the four night games: New Orleans, Washington, NY Jets, and Kansas City. The KC crowd was particularly impressive. You never know how the TV microphones are set, but from my vantage point, that was the loudest crowd I have heard since the heyday of the old Arrowhead and Mile High Stadiums.

11. Baltimore’s defense looked impenetrable against a pass offense that couldn’t find a way to attack them vertically. It will be interesting to see if the Bengals can.

12. Brad Nessler and Trent Dilfer put ESPN's "#1" Monday Night Football crew to shame. Dilfer could be the sharpest analyst in the game right now.

Fantasy Pickups of the Week:

8. TE Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati
Gresham looks like the tight end the Bengals have been searching for longer than Moses wandered the desert.

7. QB Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle
The Seahawks debuted a surprisingly pass-heavy attack, and Hasselbeck played efficiently.

6. QB Michael Vick, Philadelphia
Vick looked 900 times better than Kevin Kolb before the latter came out with a concussion; even if Kolb plays, it might be worth holding onto Vick in case he eventually usurps the starting job. If Vick starts this week he should be your fantasy quarterback – he might rush for 100 and pass for 300 on the turf against an atrocious Lions defense.

5. RB Peyton Hillis, Cleveland
Any Bronco fan can tell you Hillis is a badass, and the stat sheet tells us he got more touches than Jerome “Permanent Doghouse” Harrison.

4. WR Legedu Naanee, San Diego
Legedu won't be catching many touchdown bombs like the one against the Chiefs, but he is a reliable chain-moving target for Philip Rivers, a tall Davone Bess.

3. WR Mark Clayton, St. Louis
Baltimore's trash is Sam Bradford's treasure.

2. Kansas City D
Don’t laugh. KC D is a great pickup in leagues that reward special teams touchdowns to the defense. Their return game looks like the NFL’s most explosive. KC held the Chargers to 14 points, and feature a number of ballhawks (Tamba Hali, Brandon Flowers, Derrick Johnson, Eric Berry). The Chiefs will have two games against the Raiders and Broncos this season, and also play the Browns (week two), Niners (week three), Jaguars, Bills, Cardinals, Seahawks, and Rams. They do have a bye week four, so don't sign them if you are in a league with limited room for moves.

1. RB Brandon Jackson, Green Bay
B-Jax is not a high-quality back, but he is in an incredibly favorable fantasy situation with Ryan Grant out for the season. Expect the Packers to find someone on waivers to complement Jackson.

Fantasy Movers

Arian Foster
Feature back time. Has the potential to be the #1 RB in fantasy this season if he can stay healthy and out of the doghouse. Of course, I could run for 100 yards against the Colts.

Wes Welker
Welker looked like Welker on Sunday, great news for Welker owners who got Welker at a non-Welker price in their fantasy draft.

Roddy White
Matt Ryan targeted White a ton in Atlanta’s first game, and White was able to grab most of the balls pitched his way.

Pittsburgh D
With Kris Jenkins of the Jets done for the season, the NFL’s best defense is made of Steel.

Devin Aromoshodu
Looks like Jay Cutler’s go-to guy.

Ryan Mathews
Darren Sproles
Mathews actually looked pretty good, but his offensive line didn’t. After a series of rookie mistakes, Mathews was sent to the showers in favor of Sproles and Mike Tolbert. Tolbert looked like a giant ball of stone running the ball while Sproles (ineffectively) took all the third downs. Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates are the only Chargers you can feel good about starting in week two, though Legedu Naanee should be a safe bet for some moderation production in PPR leagues.

Shonn Greene
Eventually Greene will get the bulk of the action, but right now he may have played himself into the doghouse. He is obviously more athletically imposing than LaDainian Tomlinson at this stage of their careers, but LDT is the more complete back.

Larry Fitzgerald
Derek Anderson sucks.

Louis Murphy
Dwayne Bowe
Kenny Britt
Mike Sims-Walker
It’s not time to drop em just yet, but their invisibility this week is certainly a concern. If they don’t produce next week, it might be time to hit the eject button.

Anthony Gonzalez
You can drop him.

New Orleans WRs
Drew Brees just throws to the open man. No one is going to consistently stand out here.

Power Rankings:

32. Tampa Bay (31)
31. Oakland (23)
30. Buffalo (30)
29. Detroit (27)

28. Cleveland (32)

27. St. Louis (28)

26. Denver (26)
25. San Francisco (20)
24. Jacksonville (25)
23. Seattle (29)

22. Arizona (18)

21. Carolina (19)

20. Chicago (24)
19. Kansas City (22)

18. Cincinnati (15)
17. Philadelphia (14)

16. San Diego (17)

15. Minnesota (16)

14. New York Giants (14)
13. Washington (12)

12. Miami (8)

11. New York Jets (11)

10. Tennessee (21)
9. Dallas (4)

8. Houston (10)
7. Atlanta (2)
6. Pittsburgh (6)

5. Indianapolis (1)
4. Green Bay (5)
3. New Orleans (9)

2. Baltimore (7)
1. New England (3)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, Tampa Bay moves down one spot in your ranking for their victory over the Browns and those very same Browns move up 4 spots for losing to the Bucs, who are now ranked as your worst team. I'd have to say that lacks any semblence of internal consistency.

11:52 AM  
Blogger GnightMoon said...

Did you watch the game, anonymous? Wins and losses don't mean everything.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Ryan Wanger said...

I'd also like to add, that despite several articles and videos on ESPN right now: Ryan Grant's injury is going to have little impact on the Packers season.

He was average at best. The Pack has been getting big numbers out of average RBs for almost 20 years now.

1:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched portions of the game, so I'll freely admit that I might have missed aspects of the game that showed a positive light on Cleveland, but I certainly did not see them.

As for wins and losses not meaning everything, how can you move Chicago up based on that game. I did watch most of that game and Chicago is quite simply putrid. Everything had to go exactly right for them to squeak out a win against Detroit.

Not being snarky (sometimes these comments seem like that). Just enjoy discussing these things.

1:54 PM  
Blogger GnightMoon said...

I thought Cleveland was obviously a better team than Tampa Bay (at least for three quarters), especially considering the game was played in Tampa. I'm not high on Chicago, but there are just so many bad teams in the league. They did squeak it out, but they more or less dominated the game and just had some untimely turnovers.

11:59 AM  
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