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Archive December 2008

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Scoresheet Keeper Decision

Now that the NFL regular season is over, a lot of fantasy players are shifting their attention to baseball.

Holiday Bowl High Hurdles

Did you see LeGarrette Blount? His 29-yard TD run to cap Oregon's Holiday bowl victory on Tuesday is the best play I've seen this bowl season. And it's going to take a hugely remarkable play to top it. Blount hurdled a bewildered Oklahoma State dude and then stiff-armed another to score the final touchdown. If you didn't see it, catch it on the highlight shows or when it finally hits the internet. It's reminiscent of this play he made earlier in the season, but better. Great effort. He should run hurdles for the track team.

It made me wonder which was worse: getting hurdled in football or getting dunked on in hoops. I gotta go with the hurdle. That's just plain embarrassing, and, unlike dunks, it doesn't happen every day.

NFL Notes

Kudos to the Rams for continuing to play hard. After a huge Week 17, it will be more tempting to select Steven Jackson early in 2009, but I’d avoid him if it takes a top-10 pick…Surprising to see Jerious Norwood caught from behind. He’s definitely one of the fastest players in the league…I can’t remember a year with more worthy candidates for Coach of the Year. Mike Smith is on that list…Over the last four games, Matt Ryan has posted a 3:5 TD:INT ratio. That still came with a strong 8.1 YPA, but he’s fading just a bit. His YPA dropped from 9.3 at home to 6.8 on the road this year, so Atlanta beating Arizona this week is far from a sure thing…Michael Turner is one of my favorite running backs in the league, but any prospective 2009 fantasy owners better hope for an early playoff exit. He’s fast approaching 400 carries, making him a big risk next season.

NFL Playoff Odds

Here are the Vegas NFL Playoff Odds - could help when drafting your playoff leagues:

Ravens, Eagles, Chargers look like the best values to me, but remember they have to win four games while the bye-week teams only have to win three which is a HUGE difference. Panthers and Falcons are decent values as well.

Another Reason Wade Phillips Should Be Fired

With Dallas down 27-3 in the third quarter at Philadelphia, with its playoff life on the line, Phillips sent in the punt team on 4th and inches from his own 42.

Jerry Jones is the Problem with the Cowboys

With Jones pledging to keep Wade Phillips around, despite his team's lackluster and sloppy performance down the stretch, you have to wonder whether getting along with Jones rather than being a great coach is the ultimate criteria for that job.

Let's Go Bowling

As the college bowl season swings into full force, don't forget to check out our college writers' picks. And for your own recreational purposes, check out our Bowl Previews for every game.

And just for fun, here's another reason to hate the BCS -- it has ruined Jan. 1.

Black Monday

Three NFL coaches were fired Monday -- Rod Marinelli, Eric Mangini and Romeo Crennel. Each deserved to get the boot, but Crennel's failure is the most glaring.

NFL Touchdown Sunday Snide Remarks Week 17

By Andy Benoit, NFLTouchdown.com
 
San Diego Chargers 52, Denver Broncos 21

The Chargers are obviously that “hot team that nobody wants to face” right now, but that doesn’t mean they deserve to be in the playoffs. San Diego is three games behind New England in the standings, making them the beneficiaries of a flawed playoff system.
 
The reason Denver is not in the postseason is that six members of their defensive front seven shouldn’t be starting in the NFL. San Diego’s 289 yards rushing reaffirmed this.
 
LaDainian Tomlinson looks fresh, and so does Antonio Gates. Factor in the resurgence of the Charger offensive line and, suddenly, Norv Turner is a genius again.
 
Darren Sproles might be the best backup running back in the league right now. I’d be a little careful in describing him with the word “special” though.
 
In Week 2 Brandon Marshall caught 18 passes against the Chargers, which inspired me to refer to Antonio Cromartie as “Mrs. Brandon Marshall.” But Sunday night, Cromartie and the rest of the Charger defense limited Marshall to just 55 yards on six catches. Cromartie’s unflattering epithet is officially revoked.

Sunday Live Blog

What a fantastic slate of early games today.

Donnie Deserves Demerits

The Knicks are a much better team today than yesterday.  While Donnie Walsh deserves credit for this fact, he also deserves blame for the fact that they could easily be a deep, talented, balanced team that could compete to win 50 games rather than the unbalanced, short team that they are today.  The main reasons for the discrepancy were his choices to draft Danillo Gallinari, trade away Renaldo Balkman for virtually nothing and trade away Zach Randolph and essentially get only Tim Thomas in return. 

Can We Wait a Minute Before Planning the Parade?

For all the talk of the Yankees' supposed invincibility and the Red Sox having to settle for second place against their Evil Empire rivals, the masses seem to have forgotten something: The Tampa Bay Rays are the defending American League champions.

Picking Bowl Games: An Exercise in Futility

I am an extremely competitive guy. Even when it comes to fantasy sports, I hate to lose. I've never played in a league for money because I shudder to think about how angry I would get if I lost. I mention this because I am currently playing a College Bowl Pick 'Em game, and my picks are already a lost cause, and have been since day one. Of course, I was rather angry at first, cursing myself for making the wrong picks, questioning my intelligence, and all the other things those of us who take our fantasy sports a tad bit too seriously do. However, as time has gone on and I have the chance to think about it, I am neither angry nor disappointed that my picks are so poor. Because no matter what anybody may tell you, picking bowl games is an utter crap shoot.

Johan Santana

Johan Santana is a player whose value in traditional leagues may not be the same as it is in games where you can turn your roster over on a daily basis.

Randy Johnson

Randy Johnson is one of those players who is potentially a LOT more valuable in games where you can choose a new roster every day (like Rotohog, FantasySportsLive, SnapDraft, and DraftHero) than in traditional fantasy baseball formats.

 

NFL Notes

Going 1-5 in six championship games and an ugly 3-13 ATS this week, I’m calling 12/21/2008 “Black Sunday” in the course of history. Actually, I had fun on the day, tailgating at the Raiders game with my buddies, rain and all. And let me tell you, some classy individuals showed up at McAfee Coliseum on Sunday, and since I actually didn’t watch most of Week 16’s carnage, it’s almost as if it didn’t truly happen, and assuredly, outcomes would have been different had I willed my teams with my own two eyes. Of course, the results did in fact occur, and in hindsight, I couldn’t have picked a better Sunday to leave the TV behind. Alas, I must move on with life, so after two days digesting as much “Short Cuts” (best invention in the history of mankind?) as humanly possible, let’s go over the Week 16 action:

Shaun Ellis' Revenge

Too often the NFL gets ridiculous in its attempt to maintain order. The NFL fined Shaun Ellis $10,000 for throwing a snowball. Granted, it was a rather large snowball. More like a snowchunk. But $10K??

Broncos-Bolts

I keep hearing guys like Berman and Collinsworth saying the fact that the Broncos now have to play the Bolts in a quasi-playoff game completely takes Ed Hochuli's call off the hook.

First, both teams have a helluva lot bigger reasons that they're still not a playoff lock despite playing in the second worst division in football. But more important, the Hochuli call is nearly just as huge as it's always been, media guys. If San Diego had won that previous game, I believe it would've clinched the division yesterday and the Broncos would be already out. Right? Why don't those guys know this?

Adjusting For Contest Size In Single Day Contests

Success at fantasy sports is all about adjusting to context. Sometimes the context comes within the game as its played on the field - for example, adjusting for park or for league strength. Other times, the context is found within the rules of the fantasy game you're playing.

One such example is making adjustments for the size of the daily contest you're playing.

NFL Touchdown Sunday Snide Remarks Week 16

New York Giants 34, Carolina Panthers 28 OT
Great game. It's apparent we watched the two best teams in the NFC square off. But it wasn't a flawless outing, especially for the Panthers. After all, their front seven was thoroughly worn down by New York's offensive line and running backs, and the receivers at times had trouble getting open against a stingy secondary.
 

Sunday Live Blog

I'm looking at the picture in New England, and I'm getting figurative cold feet on the likes of Warner and Fitzgerald today.

Three Sneaky Starts for Championship Week


1. Darren McFadden
– Since McFadden was taken fairly high in most fantasy leagues, this suggestion isn’t nearly as under the radar as the next two, but considering the rookie RB has been virtually unusable since Week 2, this would still require a leap of faith during crunch time. Despite what can only be described as a highly disappointing first season in the NFL, Run DMC has averaged a solid 4.5 YPC while being an exciting option in the passing game (10.6 yards per catch) when given the opportunity. Unfortunately, the opportunities have been few and far between; in fact, he hasn’t played one snap in the first quarter in either of the last two games. However, after McFadden totaled 114 yards and a touchdown on just 15 touches last week, Tom Cable has been getting ripped in the media all week for his lack of usage, so you can expect a major correction Sunday. Facing a Houston front seven that has allowed 4.5 YPC and 17 rushing scores this year in what could be wet conditions, there are worse flex options than McFadden this week. I’m personally starting him over Chris Johnson in the RotoWire Staff League.

Dock Ellis RIP

I was sad to read that the pitcher who had the single greatest one-game accomplishment in baseball history passed away yesterday.

International Arrivals

The Euroleagues have been an excellent source of NBA talent for a long time now... but the latest crop of arrivals seems strangely familiar.

Are the Twins the Next Rays?

I always stumble across a number of items I want to write about in the course of doing the projections for the annual baseball magazine.

Does the NFL Draft Even Matter For QBs?

I've always thought that the way to build an NFL team is to draft bulk (mostly lineman) and sign skill players ( mostly quarterbacks) in free agency. Players who depend on size and strength are easier to quantify. While for skill players the traits that make them successful are harder to measure.

This notion would seem to be reinforced by an article I came across on education in the New Yorker  which quotes a study done by two economists saying the success of an NFL quarterback has no basis on where he went in the draft.

Can math help you understand basketball?

I have always believed that to be really good at fantasy basketball you have to completely understand basketball itself.  These days there are many stats that are helping us get a clearer idea of what makes “good” basketball, but unfortunately my experience is that many of us don’t understand these stats well enough to use them properly.  My goal is to use this space to help with that, so this is the first of a series of blog entries in which I will pick different advanced basketball stats and break them down.  I won’t go into the math or complex ideas behind any of the measures I discuss here, but instead will clarify exactly what each stat is measuring and how it should be used.  Have you heard people all of a sudden talking about PER like it's gospel, and it either intrigued you or irritated you?  If so, come in here and let me know just which stats you'd like to see me cover over the season so that we can get a better handle on our sport.

NFL Notes

In the most important week of the 2008 fantasy season, Frank Gore, Joseph Addai, Brandon Jacobs and even Marion Barber were all missing in action, confirming what a cruel game this is. It’s this time of year when the sob stories come out – I personally lost to Chris Liss in one league by 1.16 points because Trent Cole disappeared (and sat out) during the second half of Monday night’s game. Won another league by two points because Donovan McNabb was taken out of the same game. Lost my main home league after scoring the most overall points this season because Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Chris Johnson, Ronnie Brown and Jay Cutler all decided to have their worst performances of the year in Week 15. Oh well, that’s what makes it so fun.

Barkley Meet Willingham

I find the controversy over the non-hiring of Turner Gill at Auburn a little tired. I don't know what happened inside the halls of Auburn, but using Charles Barkley, who isn't exactly known for measured, thoughtful responses, as the news peg for charging racism is tenuous.

Does anybody remember Tyrone Willingham? 

What Are You Looking At?

Torry Holt was flagged for pass interference Sunday. Here's Holt's description of the incident:

"[The official] said he looked up in the JumboTron and saw that I pushed off," Holt said.

Ah, what? The official was watching the JumboTron? During the play?

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