Sunday, October 25, 2009
THE FANTASY FIXX-By David Ortega
“Craving more fantasy football notes and numbers, get your weekly fix here.”-Thee Prodigy
Target Practice: Week Seven in the NFL
As we get deeper into the fantasy season, mistakes are magnified and each loss becomes monumental. There’s no room for error and every owner hoping to extend the fantasy season needs to be on top of the numbers as well as the injuries.
With week seven next on the slate, it’s too late into the season to be counting on luck, it’s time to start doing your homework. If you are hoping to set that winning lineup, then you have once again targeted the right place, because we have your weekly fix right here!
The signs are there and it appears his time could be coming now. The Bears tight end Greg Olsen still has yet to put up number one tight end numbers, but his time could be nearing closer than you think. Last Sunday Olsen caught five passes for 57 yards and a touchdown, ranking 5th in fantasy scoring for tight ends. The bigger number to pay attention looking ahead is the 11 passes thrown in his direction (ranked tops for TE’s in week six).
The Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe has yet to set any fantasy scoring sheets on fire this season, but his dormant beginnings could be changing soon. In his last two starts Bowe has managed to snag 11 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown. The hidden value here is the 24 passes that have gone in his direction as well. Expect Bowe to only get better.
Despite the past two relatively quiet weeks for Giant’s receiver Steve Smith, fantasy owners should take comfort in knowing he’s still on Eli’s radar every Sunday. In his last two starts Smith has only seven receptions, but he was targeted 11 times; a slight drop from what he had seen. With Hixon a healthy return and the rookie Nicks emerging, Smith is still Eli’s go-to and should find an easier time this weekend to get open. Smith leads the NFL with 41 receptions and ranks in the top five in passing targets; don’t worry.
The Vikings and quarterback Brett Favre’s newest weapon this season appears to be their 3rd year receiver Sidney Rice. Over the past four weeks Rice has been seeing a steady diet of seven targets per game and when he’s been on the radar, he’s been productive. Over the same span he’s averaged 4.5 catches, 91-yards, and a half touchdown per game (that’s 12 fantasy points per game).
It’s a gradual and steady growth for the Bronco’s wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Week six was hardly a big week after going three straight with a touchdown. Marshall only caught five passes for 49 yards last Sunday, but over his last four starts he has had no fewer than six targets in each game while averaging eight over that stretch. The biggest key for the Bronco’s receiver is his level of efficiency; catching nearly 70 percent of the passes thrown his direction and averaging over nine fantasy points per game.
Keep your Eye on these gems…
On Monday night against the San Diego Chargers, the Bronco’s tight end Tony Scheffler had his 2009 coming out party. Scheffler caught six passes for over 100 yards and scored an important touchdown in the Monday night matchup. It was the tight end’s first big game this season and more importantly over the past two weeks, he has seen an increased activity in the Bronco’s passing game. In his last two starts Scheffler has seen 12 balls thrown his way and in that stretch he’s grabbed 10 of those throws. Keep your eye on Scheffler, it’s starting to look more and more like the Broncos will be getting him more involved in the vertical game.
Since his glory days as part of the “Greatest Show on Turf” the Jaguar’s wide receiver Torry Holt has not been as productive. Last season was his lowest totals for yards and receptions since his rookie season, but 2009 looks to be a different story. Holt is not lighting any fires at the moment, but he’s been very steady over the past couple of weeks. Holt has 12 receptions for 196 yards and has been targeted 21 times. He may not be considered a weekly must start or reliable fantasy starter, but ranking in the top 25 in both yards and receptions he’s worth watching.
Here is the breakdown for fantasy pass catchers (targets) this season;
Through Six weeks:
Top-30 Targeted Pass-catchers
Player Targt Recpt FPTS
Johnson, Andre WR HOU 66 36 78
Moss, Randy WR NE 58 38 71
Smith, Steve WR NYG 55 41 75
Burleson, Nate WR SEA 54 32 53
Houshmandzadeh, T.J. WR SEA 53 31 43
Ochocinco, Chad WR CIN 53 29 59
Ward, Hines WR PIT 52 41 67
Welker, Wes WR NE 52 36 54
Fitzgerald, Larry WR ARI 50 35 64
Holmes, Santonio WR PIT 49 28 48
Wayne, Reggie WR IND 48 32 68
Daniels, Owen TE HOU 47 32 58
Holt, Torry WR JAC 47 27 38
Smith, Steve WR CAR 47 21 26
Mason, Derrick WR BAL 46 26 53
Winslow, Kellen TE TB 46 29 51
Boldin, Anquan WR ARI 44 29 32
Clayton, Mark WR BAL 44 20 37
Gates, Antonio TE SD 44 29 52
Manningham, Mario WR NYG 44 24 61
Marshall, Brandon WR DEN 43 29 55
Rice, Ray RB BAL 43 33 93
Clark, Dallas TE IND 42 35 54
Sims-Walker, Mike WR JAC 42 28 55
White, Roddy WR ATL 42 27 61
Carlson, John TE SEA 41 24 38
Cooley, Chris TE WAS 41 27 40
Jackson, DeSean WR PHI 41 19 41
Johnson, Calvin WR DET 41 22 39
Royal, Eddie, WR DEN 41 18 13
[points based on traditional scoring]
THAT’S MY TAKE Week 7
By David Ortega
It was only six months ago that the main stream media were tweeting, posting, writing, and talking about how tired they already were with the whole Brett Favre saga; even fans unlike had had enough. It was becoming a joke; is he going to stay retired or unretire. Even a four letter network cut a promo ad poking fun at the whole offseason drama that ensued.
Looking back, was it Favre making this a bigger decision than it really was or was it the networks, media, and sports personalities just trying to reinvent the wheel by making this whole "waffling story" a bigger deal than it needed to be. After all, when Vinny Testaverde retired and came back out of retirement (20 times) was there a circus surrounding his decision and questioning his motive?
Sure Vinny's decision or announcements were hardly "stop the presses", but why was it such a big deal for Brett Favre to change his mind and comeback? Why did so many blast him for considering and reconsidering, maybe, just maybe he knew just a little better what was best for Brett Favre.
So many of us can sit at home and play armchair quarterback or GM for that matter, weigh over the circumstances and draw our own conclusions from observation alone. But how much can we really know? How can you measure one man's heart and really know, what fuels his fire?
Maybe he knew what he was doing, just maybe he was right. In hindsight it's always easier to second guess, because let's face it even in the 12th hour it appeared Favre himself didn't even know what to do; to think if Vikings head coach Brad Childress had not made that one last reach out to the former three-time NFL MVP. If Chilly doesn't make the call, what would all of us be talking about today?
The simple fact is the call was made, Favre said yes and once again we could be looking at history being made. But the critics will tell you we have seen this all before and all too well. Last season with the Jets 8-3 start, there was talk of a post season run, and then like a fly hitting a wall; it all became just a bad dream. Could this just be another repeat or are we seeing something different?
Unlike last season, the Jets for Favre were like the next hot-girl right after a bad break-up with your longtime girlfriend. It's always nice to have someone, but it’s not always where you want to be and with whom you really want to be with; but it’ll do. For what it's worth Favre made the best of the situation, but like any turbulent relationship doomed from the start it did not end on the best of terms; but it had to end.
The Vikings weren't ever going to replace his first love (Packers), but like a long time close (girl) friend that has always been there with the shoulder to lean on, understanding, and with open arms to comfort this relationship when first conceived (last year) always made sense. In Minnesota Favre had strong ties that would make him feel welcome.
Even when Favre was teetering and unsure, rather than understand that at 39 years age the heart wants what the heart wants and that one has to consider can the body survive, the masses (analysts, bloggers, columnists) would rather crucify the guy for seeming to hold a franchise hostage and keeping the football world waiting. It may have seemed selfish to many, but when it comes right down to it, this was Brett's decision and with the support of his family there was only one person he needed to consider.
His decision to play his 19th NFL season did not come easy and it was quite apparent no one covering the story or having an opinion on the matter and every self-serving so-called football analyst and expert were not going to help make it easy.
From right out of the gate, the Favre-hating nation was quick to jump on his signs of rustiness and call out his perceived limitations. Again, pushing 40 years of age and coming off a season were the toll of 16 games had beat him down, how much longer could Favre really play. Was he even the shell of a player we had watched take a Packer team to the NFC championship in 2007?
The Vikings started strong in 2009 and needed very little help from Favre in the first couple of weeks (after two games; 265 yards passing and three touchdown passes). With Favre adding very little to the offense, why was he even in Minnesota? Was he doing anything more that the other two quarterbacks the Vikings had in reserve couldn't? And just like that there was the talk of a "schism." Is that even a word? Everyone and their mother had a take on this.
The so-called schism was being addressed on every air-wave, every talk show, and sure enough there it was on the four letter network being addressed like somekind of physical injury, Favre, Childress, and the Vikings would have to deal with and adjust to. The entire situation was being made out like the Vikings faced a divided locker room.
Why all the drama? Seriously, was Brett wrong to comeback? Was it really that hard to understand a man's love and deep passion for the game? Apparently Childress was confident of his decision and believed in Favre; so why the attention and why the uproar?
Little did anyone realize or see this coming, but the Vikings week three matchup with the 2-0 Niners would not only define Favre's reasoning for coming back, but it would mark the beginning of history being rewritten once again.
In dramatic fashion that only Favre can bring, the Viking's new team leader took his new team upon his back. Favre would not use his voice to lead the way, but the boy from Mississippi would lead with his actions.
In a battle of then unbeatens the two teams traded haymakers, back and forth throughout the game, it was one big timely play after another. First the Vikings struck late in the 3rd quarter and took the lead with a blistering 101-yard kickoff return by Percy Harvin. Then it was the Niners who struck back early in the 4th quarter with a Vernon Davis catch to lead 24-20.
As the clock continued to wind down, the moment had arrived. It was time for Favre to show the world what he was all about and how he loved the game; and loved to win. Calm, cool, and collected Favre took the field, kept plays alive with his feet, made needed throw after throw as he drove his team into position.
With just 12 seconds left to play, it was time for magic. Favre scrambled out to his right to avoid the Niner pressure, as he avoided a potential tackler he stepped up the field, and then in a last wing and a prayer throw he let go a 32-yard laser that miraculously found its’ way to the back of the end-zone, into the hands of the newly signed wide receiver Greg Lewis.
Lewis’ grab completed a sensational game winning touchdown reception that not only elevated the Vikings to 3-0, but ended the talk of any kind of schism or divided locker room. The play was everything you would have expected from a younger, gunslinger, a Favre of yesterday, but this was today and history was being written all over.
In week four Favre would add another chapter to his legacy and make more history. When the Vikings defeated the Packers on Monday night, Favre became the only quarterback in the history of the NFL to defeat all 32 teams in the NFL.
Favre is playing inspired football now. Perhaps all the negative chatter prior to his arrival has motivated him? One thing appears to be certain, not only does Favre have plenty left in the tank, but many of the nay-sayers had it wrong.
Since week three Favre has played like a 30 year old. His numbers are rivaling the best in the league and over his past four starts he’s averaged 270 yards passing and thrown nine touchdowns with only two interceptions. While many try to explain Favre’s sudden resurrection an interesting comment made during the Vikings-Packers matchup in week four by commentator and football analyst Ron Jaworski.
Favre was a late arrival to camp this year, but by week four against the Packers he had put in the same length of time of a full training camp. At this point it would be a fair assessment to gauge his progress and level of play; needless to say Favre’s performance on Monday night was flawless (24 of 31 passing, 271 yards passing, and three touchdowns). Against his former team Favre was accurate; his passes had plenty of zip and velocity, while his spirals were tight and on the mark.
So what makes 2009 different from a year ago when Favre seemed to have collapsed in the second half of the season? At no point in 2008 was he this efficient and effective. His strong start last year could not disguise his gunslinging tendencies with eight interceptions in his first six starts. This season Favre has been much better throwing 12 touchdowns with only two interceptions and completing nearly 70 percent of his passes.
There’s no guarantee that Favre will hold up this season, but then again there seems to be no reason to believe that he will break down. The bicep injury that seemed to undermine his 2008 comeback hardly seems to be an issue in 2009. He’s throwing the ball as well as he ever has and if history repeats as it has often does, this season is sure reminiscent of 2007.
With all the negative criticism surrounding his return, there are still many just waiting for the moment that Favre will tank or resort to his normal tendencies. For those that still don’t believe, holding your breath is not recommended.
At 40 years of age now, Favre is defying the odds and every game he plays and every snap he takes he is rewriting the record books. On Sunday Favre will make his 276th consecutive start (an NFL record). His week seven matchup with the Steelers will present a huge test for Favre as he goes for his 176 career win (another NFL record).
When camp opened up back in the summer, many folks like the Vikings chances heading into the 2009 season. With Favre under center and slinging the rock this well the Viking have to like their chances. We may not have imagined it before, but how you have to think we could be watching something very special; you might even say we’re watching (Favre’s) history be re-written.
That’s my take.