Tag:Buccaneers
Posted on: October 21, 2010 8:35 am
 

Week 7 probabilities

One of the more intriguing matchups this weekend, and possibly the most puzzling prediction of the efficiency model all season, is the Patriots at Chargers. The Patriots come into Week 7 at 4-1, fresh off a dramatic win over the contending Ravens. The Chargers enter the weekend at 2-4, fresh off a loss to the rebuilding Rams. But somehow the model makes the Chargers heavy favorites over the Patriots  at 0.85 to 0.15.

In fact, the Chargers sit atop all other teams in the weekly rankings produced by the game probability model thanks to their passing efficiency on both sides of the ball. Philip Rivers and the rest of the offense are in a class by themselves, averaging 7.9 net yards per pass attempt. San Diego’s pass defense is also best in the league at 4.9 net yards per attempt. The Chargers’ running efficiencies on offense and defense are both better than average, as are their turnover rates.

So what is going on? How can a team that leads the league in efficiency (and in total yards) on both sides of the ball have only a 2-4 record to show for it? A big part of the answer is very clear: special-teams play. The Chargers have given up  three touchdowns on kicks and punts, and have had further difficulties on special teams.

But things still don’t add up, so let’s look at turnover differential. Although the Chargers are better than average in interception rate, they pass so often that they actually have a turnover differential of -3. This certainly isn’t good, but even combined with their special-teams failures, it still doesn’t fully explain four losses for such a statistically dominant team. Something else is going on.

I think a big part of the Chargers’ 2-4 record is bad luck. Statisticians might call it sample error or randomness, but whatever you call it, it’s not going well for San Diego. I’m not talking about leprechauns or superstitions or the random bouncing of footballs. (Although the Chargers have lost 9 of 11 fumbles, and the league-wide rate is about 50 percent. Fumble recovery is a notoriously random event in football — just look at the shape of the ball.)

Rather, I’m talking about a concept I call “bunching.”

Let’s say there are two baseball teams, completely equal in ability, playing one game at a neutral site. Each team performs perfectly equally, both hitting exactly nine singles over nine innings. But let’s say one team gets all its singles in one inning, and the other has its singles spread out one per inning. The first team might win, 7-0. It’s an extreme example, but it illustrates an overlooked point about many sports. Successful plays are not enough. Consecutive successes are required to win.

In football, two equal teams could each have 12 first downs in a game. One team could have three drives of four consecutive first downs, each leading to a touchdown, and the rest of its drives could be three-and-outs. The other team could have 12 drives consisting of one first down followed by a punt. Both teams could have equal yards, first downs and efficiency stats, and yet one team could win, 21-0. It’s easy to imagine a game in which one team has many more first downs and yards, but still loses. Could something like this bunching effect be cursing the Chargers?

It’s a given that N.F.L. offenses tend to score in proportion to their yards gained. It’s actually an extremely tight correlation, and the best–fit estimate of a team’s points per game is to take just under 10 percent of its yards per game and subtract 10. For the Chargers, who lead the N.F.L. with 433 yards gained per game, we’d expect the offense to score about 32 points per game, but they’ve actually scored only 26.

A similar analysis for the Chargers’ defense, with the special-teams scores set aside, shows that it has  allowed almost 2 points more per game more than the yardage total implies. That’s a total difference of 8 points per game.

If we could magically add those 8 points onto the scoreboard for each game this season, the Chargers would have five wins, no losses and a tie. Of course, things aren’t that simple, and we can’t just add points after the fact. But it’s an exercise that illustrates just how random game outcomes can be, even in the N.F.L.

Here are your Week 7 game probabilities:

Win ChanceGAMEWin Chance0.45Cincinnati at Atlanta0.550.37Washington at Chicago0.630.40St. Louis at Tampa Bay0.600.49San Francisco at Carolina0.510.19Buffalo at Baltimore0.810.45Philadelphia at Tennessee0.550.14Jacksonville at Kansas City0.860.52Pittsburgh at Miami0.480.28Cleveland at New Orleans0.720.13Arizona at Seattle0.870.15New England at San Diego0.850.19Oakland at Denver0.810.26Minnesota at Green Bay0.740.53Giants at Dallas0.47
Posted on: September 24, 2010 9:14 am
 

Week 3 in the NFL

Can you believe that it's already week 3 in the NFL? If I told you that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be 2 - 0 and the Cowboys were going to be 0 - 2, you would have said that I'm crazy. The unpredictable season is always exciting.

Fans can be a fickle bunch, myself included. The collective mood varies week to week, quarter to quarter, possession to possession. This sentiment is amplified following a team's season opening performance. A win correlates into a franchise's followers booking their Super Bowl accommodations; a loss spirals supporters into panic. This is especially the case in Philadelphia. Another example: the New York Jets, who arrived with unparalleled hype and hoopla thanks to HBO's Hardknocks and proclamations from coach Rex Ryan. Yet after suffering a defeat to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night, seemingly the entire football world wrote off Gang Green's title aspirations. Pigskin pundits blasted New York management for cutting ties with running back Thomas Jones, signing washed-up veterans, and welcoming the distraction of a reality series into training camp. Former star Joe Namath took issue with the team, stating the current Jets needed to "shut up and play." Ryan was crucified for his game plan, whose conservative nature seemed to contradict the coach's brash attitude and assertions. Keep in mind, New York lost by just ONE POINT. But in the NFL, there's a thin line between bliss and bitterness.

On to the game of the week:
The Atlanta Falcons were the recipients of similar vitriol after a Week 1 defeat to Dennis Dixon and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Falcons were expected to bounce back from a disappointing and injury plagued 2009, and competing against Dixon, a 3rd string quarterback, appeared to be just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately for the Falcons, Troy Pomamalu and the Steeler defense had a different itinerary in mind, as Pittsburgh came out victorious in a 15-9 overtime slugfest. Soon after, Mike Smith's squad was showered with criticisms and condemnations. Would Matt Ryan fall short of his projected potential? Was Michael Turner's 2008 an aberration? After Roddy White, were there any viable weapons in the aerial arsenal? So on and so on...

A 41-7 drubbing of defending NFC West champion Arizona seemed to lay to rest doubts among the Dirty-Bird backers, if only for a week. Ryan threw for 225 yards and 3 touchdowns, with a QB rating of 117.3. The Burner rushed for 75 yards on just 9 carries before succumbing to an injury (although not feared to be serious). Receivers not named White accounted for 14 receptions on Sunday. In short, Atlanta looked like the playoff-contending team that many had forecasted.

In reality, the Falcons fate is somewhere between their two performances. The Pittsburgh D, after shutting down Chris Johnson and Vince Young in Week 2, looks to have reclaimed their tenacious tendencies that led them to a Super Bowl in 2008. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are doing their best Little Giants impersonation. Atlanta travels to the Big Easy this week to play the Saints, off to a 2-0 start in their title defense. I give the edge to New Orleans; prediction: 28-19.

But rest assured, no matter what the outcome, one fan base will be making January playoff plans while the other will willow in its own misery. At least until next week's game.

These are my picks for the rest of the NFL:
Vikings over the Lions
Ravens over the Browns
Patriots over the Bills, aka the worst team in the NFL
Raiders over the Cardinals
Texans over the Cowboys...how bout dem cowboys? 0-3
Dolphins over the Jets
Steelers over the Buccaneers
Titans over the Giants
Bengals over the Panthers
Colts over the Broncos
49ers over the Chiefs
Eagles over the Jaguars
Redskins over the Rams
Packers over the Bears
Chargers over the Seahawks

Posted on: November 17, 2009 8:41 am
 

FFB week 10 review

49ers 10 – Bears 6

The 49ers rode the legs of Frank Gore to stop a four-game losing streak. Gore had 125 total yards (104 rushing) and scored his seventh TD of the season. After saying prior to the game that Chicago’s defense doesn’t impress him, Vernon Davis was held to 3 catches for 16 yards. However, he remains one of the best options at tight end this year. Michael Crabtree has been solid but unspectacular since joining the team, and he picked up a solid 48 receiving yards against the Bears. Alex Smith picked up his first win since September 2007 though he only had 118 yards on the day, with no touchdowns and an interception. But I’m sure he’s just glad he got a win.

Last year Kyle Orton threw 5 INTs while wearing a Bears uniform; Jay Cutler did the same on Thursday night. Those picks took away nearly all the fantasy points Cutler earned by throwing for 307 yards. Matt Forte also had a tough game on the ground at least. Forte ran for just 41 yards on 20 carries but made up for it by catching 8 passes for 120 yards. Devin Hester was targeted a game-high 14 times but only came down with half of those passes for 48 yards.

Titans 41 – Bills 17

If the Titans were 6-3 instead of 3-6, Chris Johnson would be right up there with Peyton Manning for MVP honors. Johnson was once again magnificent with 132 yards rushing, 100 yards receiving, and 2 touchdowns. Vince Young had his most passing yards (210) since December 2007 and also threw for a TD and ran for 29 yards. With Justin Gage out, Nate Washington became the #1 receiver, compiling 33 receiving yards and a score.

When Terrell Owens has a season-high of 85 receiving yards in Week 10, you know things are rough in Buffalo. Lee Evans had a nice game as well, as he caught 2 TD passes to go along with 50 receiving yards. Marshawn Lynch had 55 total yards and was outperformed by Fred Jackson who had 71 total yards and also threw a TD pass to Evans. For those of you who have Trent Edwards, it may be time to start looking elsewhere for a QB. Edwards was pulled in the fourth quarter after throwing a pick-six. He finished with 185 passing yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT, and Coach Jauron was noncommittal on who would be his starting QB next week.

Saints 28 - Rams 23

It wasn’t pretty, but the Saints got the job done. Drew Brees threw for 223 yards and 2 TDs but also threw 2 INTs and has thrown 7 INTs in the last four games. Reggie Bush had his best game of the season, by far, with 98 total yards (83 rushing) and 2 TDs. His versatility combined with his inconsistency make him a flex play each week, especially in PPR leagues. Pierre Thomas took a backseat to Bush in this game as Thomas only had 37 rushing yards. Marques Colston had another quiet game as he had only 17 receiving yards and also lost a fumble. On the other hand, Robert Meachem had his second straight good game with 68 total yards (27 receiving) and a touchdown. Coincidentally, both of these games have come with Lance Moore sitting out. If Moore, Colston, or Devery Henderson miss any time, Meachem is worth serious consideration in your starting lineup.

Steven Jackson continues to be options A, B, and C for the Rams as he had another great game. Jackson had 131 yards and a touchdown on the ground and also had 9 receptions for 45 yards through the air. It was his fifth straight game with over 100 yards from scrimmage. Marc Bulger turned back the clock and looked like the Bulger of 2006. He threw for 298 yards and 2 TDs while displaying his customary accuracy. Even though the bye weeks are over, Bulger is still worth a roster spot as insurance for your starting QB. Donnie Avery had 67 yards and 2 TDs as he remains Bulger’s favorite target. That alone gives him value as a WR3.

Dolphins 25 – Buccaneers 23

The Dolphins got the win but they may have lost their starting running back--at least for one week. Ronnie Brown left the game after hurting his ankle. With a game scheduled this Thursday, Brown may have to sit one out. Before leaving, he did have 82 rushing yards and a score. Ricky Williams led Miami with 102 rushing yards and, if you have him, he should be in your lineup regardless of whether Brown plays or not. Davone Bess appears to be Chad Henne’s favorite receiver but Bess has yet to get into the end zone this year. He had 4 receptions for 72 yards but should only be considered if you are in a PPR league.

Expect more games like this from Josh Freeman (196 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 lost fumble), rather than the 3 TD performance last week. Kellen Winslow continued to build on a good season, catching 7 balls for 102 yards on Sunday. Cadillac Williams has been inconsistent throughout the season but he did score a rushing touchdown to go along with 52 yards. He seems destined to be an RB3 for the remainder of the year.

Vikings 27 – Lions 10

This game played out pretty much as expected. Brett Favre threw for 344 yards and one touchdown and Adrian Peterson ran for 133 yards and 2 TDs. However, the star of the day was Sidney Rice who caught 7 passes for 201 yards. Though he only has two scores on the year, Rice is a legit WR2 and is on pace for nearly 1,400 receiving yards. Bernard Berrian continues to be a disappointment as he only had 22 receiving yards. Over the past three seasons, Berrian averaged about 900 receiving yards and 6 TDs. He may reach that TD average but is on pace for fewer than 600 receiving yards. Keep him on your roster, but don’t start him until he can gain some rapport with Favre.

For just the second time this season, Matt Stafford went a full game without throwing a pick. He also threw for 224 yards and a TD. Still, Stafford is only a QB2. Kevin Smith continued his sophomore slump with only 65 total yards this week. He is averaging only 3.4 yards per carry after putting up 4.1 last season. Even so, he is still an RB2/RB3. Calvin Johnson rebounded from last week’s poor game with 8 receptions for 84 yards.

Jaguars 24 – Jets 22

Maurice Jones-Drew continues to prove that he can be an every-down back as he gained 145 total yards and scored a touchdown. MJD became the first RB this year to gain 100 rushing yards against the Jets. His QB, David Garrard, showed his versatility with 221 passing yards and one passing TD along with one rushing touchdown. Mike Sims-Walker found the end zone for the fifth time in his past seven games. He is the Jags’ #1 WR and a fantasy WR2. Not bad for a guy who went undrafted in most fantasy leagues.

Mark Sanchez’s up-and-down rookie season hit another down against the Jaguars. He did throw for 212 yards and a touchdown, but also threw 2 INTs. Since he is fringe fantasy material at this point, he shouldn’t be on your roster. Someone who definitely should be on your roster is Thomas Jones who took another drink from the fountain of youth Sunday before running for 77 yards and a score. I thought the loss of Favre would hurt him but he’s actually outperforming his 2008 numbers. Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery had 79 and 68 receiving yards, respectively. Cotchery also scored a TD. You never know which one is going to be Sanchez’s favorite target for a particular game so neither has more value than a WR3 at this point.

Bengals 18 – Steelers 12

Surprisingly, this game featured no offensive TDs. Carson Palmer had 178 yards passing while Chad Ochocinco had only 29 receiving yards. Cedric Benson only had 7 carries for 22 yards before leaving with a hip injury, which he doesn’t believe is serious. With Chris Henry done for the season, Laveranues Coles will get more looks, and he led the team this week with 5 receptions for 67 yards.

Ben Roethlisberger only completed 50% of his passes and threw an INT along with only 174 yards. Santonio Holmes, with 88 receiving yards, garnered more fantasy points than any other player. Heath Miller (26) and Hines Ward (24) combined for only 50 receiving yards as Roethlisberger struggled under constant pressure from the Bengals. Rashard Mendenhall couldn’t repeat last Monday night’s performance as he had only 36 rushing yards on just 13 carries.

Redskins 27 – Broncos 17

For the first time this year, the Redskins managed to break the 17-point threshold to pick up their third win of the year. Jason Campbell was serviceable, throwing for 193 yards and one touchdown while not turning the ball over. Ladell Betts, subbing for the concussed Clinton Portis, had 114 rushing yards and a touchdown. The Redskins are likely not in a rush to get Portis back on the field with such a serious injury as a concussion. If Betts is still available in your league for some reason, jump on him. He could make for a nice flex play in the coming weeks. Santana Moss had a measly 2 catches for 8 yards and should be benched until he can show some consistency. He’s in a similar situation to Carolina’s Steve Smith; they are great players, but the people around them are hurting their fantasy value.

Not only did the Broncos lose their third game in a row, but they may have also lost their QB for a couple of weeks. Kyle Orton threw for 193 yards and 2 TDs before leaving with an ankle injury that could keep him out of next week’s pivotal matchup with San Diego. His backup, Chris Simms, has barely played since 2006 and should not be picked up in free agency. Brandon Marshall caught two long TD passes and finished with 134 receiving yards. Eddie Royal’s (21 receiving yards) disappearing act extended another week and, unless you get points for return yards, he has virtually no value. Knowshon Moreno had 97 rushing yards to lead the Broncos and, maybe an even better sign for his owners, had 18 carries compared to Buckhalter’s 2 carries.

Panthers 28 - Falcons 19

Jake Delhomme actually looked like a pro QB against Atlanta as he threw for 2 TDs and 195 yards without turning the ball over. Steve Smith, who is managing to salvage this season despite his QB’s play, caught both Delhomme’s TD passes. DeAngelo Williams appears to have regained his 2008 form as he had 122 total yards, while backfield mate Jonathan Stewart had 82 rushing yards and 2 scores. Williams is a bona-fide RB1 and Stewart is a safe flex option.

If he wasn’t there before this game, Matt Ryan is officially in a sophomore slump. Actually, slump may be too nice a word, as he has thrown 11 INTs in his last six games. He did throw for 224 yards, but the points he got from his TD were negated by the turnovers. With a tough upcoming schedule (NYG, PHI, NO, NYJ), things are not going to get any easier. You may want to hit up the trade market to see what kind of value you can get for Ryan. To make matters worse for Atlanta, Michael Turner injured his ankle and will undergo additional tests on Monday. He had rushed for 111 yards before leaving and all Turner owners should immediately grab Jason Snelling (93 total yards, 1 TD) if he’s still available in free agency. Roddy White had 7 grabs for 98 yards and Tony Gonzalez had 6 for 67, but neither player was able to get into the end zone.

Chargers 31 - Eagles 23

With his 2 TDs on Sunday, LT jumped ahead of Marcus Allen to take third place in the record books for career TDs. He also ran for 96 yards which was his most in a home game since 2007. Philip Rivers tossed two scores of his own, along with 231 passing yards. Vincent Jackson was held to a single reception for 10 yards, but you shouldn’t even think about taking him out of your lineup. Antonio Gates had 7 catches for 78 yards and Malcolm Floyd had 3 catches for 45 yards. Floyd is worth a spot in deeper leagues as well as keeper leagues since it is clear that the Chargers are now a passing team, with Philip Rivers as their leader rather than LT.

The most telling stat from this game is Donovan McNabb’s 450 passing yards compared to his team’s 29 total rushing yards. Brian Westbrook suffered another concussion and, in my humble opinion, he should sit the rest of the year. If you have Westbrook, make contingency plans as you may not see him for the remainder of the season. Jason Avant, of all people, led the Eagles in receiving with 156 yards while DeSean Jackson had 8 catches for 91 yards. Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek each had 6 catches and a TD reception.

Packers 17 – Cowboys 7

When the Packers defense plays the way it did against Dallas, you can expect pedestrian offensive efforts as well. Aaron Rodgers threw for only 189 yards and 1 TD, though he did rush for a score. Ryan Grant ran for 79 yards but doesn’t appear to have the explosiveness that he displayed two years ago. Donald Driver and Greg Jennings had 50 and 45 receiving yards, respectively. The Packers are having trouble with the pass rush, so Driver’s intermediate routes are a much more viable option for Rodgers than Jennings’ deep routes. Driver should be rated higher than Jennings until the Packers O-line improves.

The Cowboys O was dominated by the Packers D in this game as both the running game and Miles Austin were shut down. None of the three Dallas running backs gained more than 26 yards, and Austin had only 20 yards on the day. Tony Romo threw for 251 yards and a late TD, but he also threw a pick and lost a fumble. The lone TD was scored by Roy Williams, who also managed 105 receiving yards on 5 receptions. From the looks of things over the past month, it appears that Austin and Williams can’t each have a big game in the same game. It’s either one or the other. I have more confidence in Austin than in Williams. Austin is still a WR1 while Williams is only a WR3. I really don’t know what to make of Jason Witten. It seems as though every week he’s catching 4-5 passes for around 45 yards. I still have faith in him--and you should, too--as he is still Romo’s favorite target in the red zone…even though he hasn’t scored a TD since Week 2.

Cardinals 31 – Seahawks 20

With his 2 TD passes on Sunday, Kurt Warner has now thrown for 200 TDs in his Hall-of-Fame career. He also threw for 340 yards as all three of his top receivers got into the action. Anquan Boldin had 8 for 105, Steve Breaston had 4 for 76, and Larry Fitzgerald had 7 for 73. Breaston and Fitzgerald also got into the end zone. Everyone knows Fitz is a WR1, but Breaston and even Boldin are WR3s. Boldin’s injuries are starting to catch up with him and he has almost no deep speed. Rookie Beanie Wells had the best game of his young career with 85 rushing yards and 2 TDs. Tim Hightower had 58 total yards, which included 5 receptions. Despite Wells’ two scores, Hightower still has a little more value due to the huge disparity in receptions between the two of them (Hightower has 45 on the season, Wells has 6).

The good news for Seattle this week is that they may have found their future running back. After Julius Jones left with an injury, Justin Forsett took over and ran for 123 yards and one score while catching five passes for 26 yards. It appears Jones will be out for some time, so grab Forsett while you can. Even when Jones returns, Forsett will still have value, especially in PPR leagues. Matt Hasselbeck threw for 315 yards and 1 TD with most of the yardage going to T.J. Houshmandzadeh (9 for 165). Housh hasn’t been quite what we expected him to be in Seattle, but this week’s game was a good sign that he and Hasselbeck are developing more of a rapport. The Seahawks’ leading receiver, Nate Burleson, went catchless for the first time this season. He was targeted five times, so Hasselbeck was definitely looking for him. Burleson remains a safe WR2 for next week.

Chiefs 16 – Raiders 10

As the score indicates, this was not an aesthetically-pleasing game. Jamaal Charles said, “Larry Who?” by rushing for 103 yards and a score. Todd Haley doesn’t like to run the ball all that much so don’t expect this type of performance too often, but Charles can be a serviceable RB3 for the remainder of the season. Matt Cassel did not throw a TD pass, but he did throw an INT and lost a fumble. The Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chambers tandem had 91 and 60 yards receiving, respectively.

The return of Darren McFadden (11 rushing yards) and Chaz Schilens (27 receiving yards) did not play out quite as anticipated. However, Michael Bush (119 rushing yards) and Justin Fargas (41 rushing yards, 1 TD) were able to provide some much-needed offensive punch. The RBBC all but eliminates any value for the Oakland backs, but Schilens is someone to keep an eye on. He is a big target and can actually catch--unlike Oakland’s other receivers. If you have an open roster spot it may be wise to take a chance on Schilens, who some see as a Vincent Jackson-clone.

Colts 35 - Patriots 34

Wow! That’s all I can say. I’m sure most of the people reading this saw the game last night so you pretty much know what happened. Peyton Manning did his thing with another 300+ yard, multi-TD game. Reggie Wayne caught 10 passes for 126 yards and 2 TDs, including the game winner. The Patriots held Dallas Clark in check as he “only” had 65 receiving yards. Despite a finger injury, Joseph Addai still managed to score 2 TDs and gain 68 total yards. The Colts are really struggling to run the ball, but Addai is a big factor in the passing game and receives lots of goal line carries. He can still be used as an RB2.

Tom Brady was Tom Terrific in throwing for 3 TDs and 375 yards (though I’m sure all of Boston thinks it should have been 376 yards). Randy Moss and Wes Welker each had 9 receptions. Welker went for 94 yards and Moss showed he still has 4.4 speed by going for 179 yards and 2 TDs. Laurence Maroney scored a rushing TD but also lost a fumble on the Colts’ one-yard line. Kevin Faulk had 79 rushing yards and caught 2 passes for 7 yards (though, again, Boston thinks it should have been 8 yards).

Posted on: November 10, 2009 7:32 pm
 

FFB week 9 review

I know that it's Tuesday and everyone is thinking about their lineup for week 10, but history is a great way to predict the future. The following is a reflection upon a fantasy week past. You will find some advice, but mostly the facts as they took place.

Falcons 31 - Redskins 17


Matt Ryan wasn’t at his sharpest, but he didn’t need to be with Michael Turner running the way he did. Turner racked up 166 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns. After a slow start, Turner now has 8 TDs over his last five games. Ryan struggled again (135 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) and has thrown nine INTs over his last five games. At this point, Ryan is a risky fantasy QB. Tony Gonzalez found the end zone for the eightieth time in his career and finished with 41 receiving yards. Roddy White didn’t get many looks as the Falcons ran the ball most of the second half. He finished with three catches for 27 yards.

One day the Redskins will score more than 17 points in a game, but that day did not come Sunday. Clinton Portis left the game with a concussion after gaining just four yards. I think bets will be out this week, as most teams will sit a player for a week after suffering a concussion. His backup, Ladell Betts, performed nicely with 93 total yards and a score. However, the Redskins face the #3 rushing defense next week, so even if Portis sits out, Betts still isn’t more than a RB3. Santana Moss led the receivers with 56 receiving yards. Jason Campbell left the game with a chest injury but later returned; he threw for 196 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. He also rushed for 40 yards and, if you’re desperate for a QB, you could do a lot worse than Campbell.

Cardinals 41 – Bears 21

What a difference a week makes! One week after throwing five INTs, Kurt Warner threw 5 TDs against the Bears. Larry Fitzgerald was the main recipient with 9 grabs for 123 yards and two scores. With Anquan Boldin out with an ankle injury, Steven Breaston started and had 66 receiving yards and a touchdown. Against the once-ferocious Chicago defense, the Cardinals ran for 182 yards: 77 by Tim Hightower and 72 by Beanie Wells. Because of Hightower’s versatility in the passing game (on pace for 80 receptions), he is a better fantasy play than Wells.

Just as they did two weeks ago against Cincinnati, the Bears fell behind early and abandoned their running game. Matt Forte had only six rushing attempts but still finished with 107 total yards (74 receiving). Greg Olsen matched the number of touchdowns he had through the first eight weeks in this single game (3). Devin Hester and Earl Bennett had 94 yards and 93 yards respectively. Jay Cutler threw for 369 yards and 3 TDs, both highs for him as a Chicago Bear.

Bengals 17 – Ravens 7

Carson Palmer was solid again, throwing for 224 yards and one touchdown. After throwing seven INTs in his first six games, Palmer has not turned the ball over in the last two games. Cedric Benson proved his 100-yard game versus the Ravens earlier this year was no fluke by rushing for 117 yards and one touchdown. Chad Ochocinco had 66 receiving yards but lost a fumble, just as he did in the first game against Baltimore. After catching one pass for 20 yards, Chris Henry broke his forearm and the remainder of his season is in doubt. His loss is Andre Caldwell’s (15 yards, 1 TD) gain, as he no longer has to split reps with Henry as the team’s #3 receiver.

For the second time this year, the Bengals held Joe Flacco to under 200 yards passing; they also picked him off twice. This is the last time these two teams will meet this year, so Flacco remains a QB1. Ray Rice was again the focal point of the offensive gameplan as he led the Ravens in rushing (48 yards), receiving (87 yards), and touchdowns (1). Derrick Mason was targeted 13 times but only came down with three receptions for 31 yards.

Colts 20 – Texans 17

Another Colts win. Another 300-yard game for Peyton Manning...it's what he does. Manning also threw a TD as the Colts won their seventeenth consecutive regular season game. Joseph Addai scored 2 TDs rushing and had 112 all-purpose yards. Dallas Clark continues his assault on tight end single-season records; he had 14 receptions for 119 yards. Reggie Wayne had a rare poor game with only 64 receiving yards. He also threw an interception in what was likely the first and last pass attempt of his career.

This was the first time both Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson were on the field together versus Indianapolis. They both came up big, but it wasn’t enough. Schaub threw for 311 yards and one touchdown but also threw two picks. Johnson had 10 receptions for 103 yards but failed to get into the end zone. A big question heading into this game was the number of touches Steve Slaton and Ryan Moats would receive. Well, Moats owners have to be rejoicing as he had 19 touches for 53 yards and 1 TD. Slaton had 9 touches for 29 yards and 1 TD. However, Moats did lose a fumble, which was the reason that Slaton was benched last week.

Patriots 27 – Dolphins 17

For the third game in a row, Tom Brady (332 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) threw for at least 300 yards as the Patriots held on for the win. It looks like heeees baaaack. Randy Moss had 147 yards and 1 TD and is undoubtedly a WR1 despite his inconsistency this season. Wes Welker had nine catches for 84 yards and is a WR2 in regular formats--but a WR1 in PPR leagues. Laurence Maroney remains the feature back in New England with Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor still out. Maroney had 82 rushing yards and 1 TD. He remains a RB2 until one of the other running backs returns.

Over the past three games, Chad Henne has thrown only one touchdown. That should tell you all you need to know about his fantasy value. Ronnie Brown threw the lone passing TD in this game, along with rushing for 48 yards. Ricky Williams had 33 rushing yards and scored a TD on the ground. No Dolphins receiver/tight end is worth starting on your fantasy team, but Davone Bess was targeted 14 times. He only managed to catch six of those passes and finished with 56 yards.

Jaguars 24 – Chiefs 21

With Mike Sims-Walker’s 147 receiving yards and one touchdown, the Jaguars are now 4-1 when Sims-Walker has at least 80 yards receiving. Maurice Jones-Drew had 134 total yards and one touchdown and, along with Steven Jackson, MJD is the closest thing to an every-down back. David Garrard (264 passing yards, 29 rushing yards) threw his first touchdown pass in five weeks but, because of his running ability, he is a sleeper as a QB1.

Matt Cassel was on pace to be a bust before throwing two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Along with those two scores, Cassel threw for 262 yards and did not turn the ball over. Newly signed Chris Chambers caught both touchdown passes and had 70 yards. Chambers struggled mightily in San Diego this season but seems to have caught on quickly with Kansas City. He won’t be the fantasy stud he was a couple of years ago, but he still has plenty of talent; enough to warrant a WR3 role. Dwayne Bowe led the team with 74 receiving yards and Jamaal Charles, starting in place of Larry Johnson, had 55 total yards. I started Jamaal Charles, because I expected him to do well, but he proved me to be foolish.

Buccaneers 38 – Packers 28

After not winning a game since last November, the Bucs finally got one in rookie QB Josh Freeman’s first NFL start. Freeman threw for 205 yards and 3 TDs, one each to Derrick Ward, Kellen Winslow, and Sammie Stroughter. Cadillac Williams only had 16 touches on the day and finished with just 56 yards. Maurice Stovall was targeted seven times but that was likely due to Antonio Bryant being out with an injury. Freeman has a lot of upside but is not likely to put up numbers as good as these for the rest of the season. He is a QB2 and should remain the Bucs starter unless he is injured.

Just imagine what the Packers could do on offense if they had decent blocking. Aaron Rodgers, while being sacked six times and throwing 3 INTs, threw for 266 yards and 2 TDs. He also rushed for 26 yards and 1 TD. James Jones is making the most out of Jordy Nelson’s injury as he had 103 receiving yards and 1 TD. Donald Driver also found the end zone en route to 71 receiving yards. Greg Jennings was again the victim of Rodgers not having a lot of time, as he only had 61 yards. Ryan Grant had a nice game running the ball, with 96 yards and a score, and remains a RB2.

Seahawks 32 – Lions 20

This may have been the game where the Seahawks officially went from a running team to a passing team. Matt Hasselbeck threw the ball 51 times for 329 yards and 1 TD. Julius Jones still got enough touches to score a touchdown and gain 114 total yards (78 receiving). Nate Burleson led the team with seven receptions and had 75 receiving yards. T.J. Houshmandzadeh won’t wow you with his yardage (34), but he is still a nice play in PPR formats. He had six receptions, one of which went for a touchdown. Someone to watch for in future games is Justin Forsett. He is Jones’ primary backup now with the release of Edgerrin James and is a rushing/receiving threat. He had 59 yards from scrimmage along with 5 receptions and is worth a roster spot in deeper, PPR leagues.

This was a game that Matt Stafford would like to forget…quickly. Stafford threw 5 INTs as he often tried to force the ball. Calvin Johnson returned but had only two receptions for 27 yards, and he did not look 100% healthy. Kevin Smith averaged 5.2 yards per carry but had only 13 rushing attempts. He finished with 67 rushing yards and failed to get into the endzone for the fourth game in a row. The offensive star for Detroit was rookie TE Brandon Pettigrew, who had 70 yards and a score. He also caught seven passes on only eight targets, a stat that will no doubt endear him to Matt Stafford. However, he is still a TE2 at this point.

Saints 30 – Panthers 20

Unable to get their run game going, the Saints relied on the arm of Drew Brees as they came from behind to remain undefeated. Brees had 330 passing yards as well as 1 TD and 1 INT. Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell, and Reggie Bush combined for just 83 rushing yards, though Thomas did get into the end zone. Devery Henderson had 93 receiving yards but is a very inconsistent play. Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey had quiet games as they combined for only 4 catches for 71 yards. With Lance Moore out, Robert Meachem stepped in and led the team with 98 yards and 1 TD. He will likely return to the bench once Moore is healthy enough to play. For the time being, any Saints receiver not named Colston is a WR3.

Once again, turnovers were the main reason the Panthers lost a game; however this time it was due to fumbles, not interceptions. Jake Delhomme, DeAngelo Williams, and Jonathan Stewart all lost fumbles. Delhomme threw for 201 yards but no scores, and Steve Smith had 64 receiving yards. Williams did his part on the ground with 149 rushing yards and 2 TDs. His partner-in-crime, Jonathan Stewart, had 13 carries but only converted them into 24 yards.

Chargers 21 – Giants 20

Eli Manning may have outperformed Philip Rivers, but Rivers’ team got the win. Rivers threw for 209 yards, 3 TDs, and 2 INTs as the Chargers had to rely entirely on his arm to move the ball. LT had only 22 rushing yards on 12 carries and chipped in only eight receiving yards. Vincent Jackson further cemented his status as one of the top-5 fantasy WRs with 58 receiving yards and 2 TDs, including the game winner. Antonio Gates had 67 receiving yards and Malcolm Floyd had 29 yards. Floyd is now a starter with the release of Chris Chambers.

Even though he had his best game in four weeks, Eli Manning’s arm wasn’t enough to keep the Giants from stopping their skid. Manning threw for 215 yards and 2 TDs without turning the ball over. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw had solid games as they respectively had 68 total yards and 66 total yards. Neither got into the end zone, however. Steve Smith broke out of his four-game scoreless streak and finished with 57 yards. Mario Manningham came back after missing one week to catch six passes for 52 yards.

Titans 34 – 49ers 27

Another Vince Young start. Another win. The guy is a plain old winner. Another great Chris Johnson performance. That pretty much sums it up as Young threw for 172 yards, ran for 14 yards, and scored a rushing touchdown. With 135 rushing yards and two scores, Johnson continues to make LenDale White irrelevant. For the second week in a row, Justin Gage was the top receiver (97 yards). Young clearly has a rapport with Gage that he lacks with Nate Washington and Kenny Britt, as neither of those two was even on the team when Young was the starter in 2007. The Titans won’t light anyone up thru the air but Gage is worth consideration in deeper leagues.

Another Alex Smith start. Another loss. Another great Frank Gore performance. With three INTs and lost fumble, Alex Smith did not have the same amount of success as Vince Young. But he did throw for 286 yards and two TDs. The recipient of both TD passes was Jason Hill, who finished with four catches for 50 yards. These were his first receptions of the year, so we have to wait to see if this increase in playing time is permanent or simply an experiment. Michael Crabtree had only 30 yards on three receptions but another former first rounder, Vernon Davis, had 10 grabs for 102 yards. However, the star for San Fran was Frank Gore who had 83 rushing yards, 75 receiving yards, and a rushing touchdown. In his five full games this season, Gore is averaging over 125 total yards and he has scored six touchdowns.

Cowboys 20 – Eagles 16

Even though Tony Romo’s (307 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) three-game streak without an interception ended, he did find Miles Austin for the deciding score in the fourth quarter. Despite Tashard Choice scoring a rushing TD out of the Wildcat, only Marion Barber could really get anything going on the ground. Barber had 50 rushing yards while Choice and Felix Jones combined for only 23 rushing yards. After complaining about not getting “good passes” thrown his way, Romo seemed to appease Roy Williams by throwing his way often. Williams finished with 5 catches for 75 yards. Jason Witten had his most receptions since Week 2 as he caught 7 balls for 43 yards, but he failed to get into the endzone for the sixth game in a row. Austin caught only one pass--but it went for 49 yards and the game-winning touchdown...I'm still mad at Sheldon Brown for getting beat with a pump fake.

LeSean McCoy is turning into “Brian Westbrook-lite” as he had 54 yards rushing and 61 yards receiving in the Eagles’ Sunday night loss. Brent Celek caught a TD pass and, if it weren’t for the great years that Dallas Clark and Vernon Davis are having, more people would be talking about Celek as the premier fantasy tight end. Donovan McNabb struggled with accuracy throughout the night and finished with 227 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs. Explosive playmakers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin were relatively quiet as they had 29 receiving yards and 44 receiving yards, respectively. Jackson is the more consistent of the two, so he is a WR2 while Maclin is a WR3.

 
 
 
 
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