Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday Hangover: The Cam Newtoning

We love fantasy football for many reasons, not the least of which is that decisions you were 100% sure about a week ago have in one Sunday turned in to the rantings of a crazy man. In what world does Cam Newton and Steve Smith combine for more than 60 points and Chris Johnson and Frank Gore have 10. But that's the way it goes. Steve Smith was a starter in just 20% of Yahoo! leagues, Cam just 3. Johnson and Gore are starters in like a million percent of all leagues.
It was a good weekend to be quarterback, unless your name was Manning. Last week I mentioned casually that you needed to have one of 6 or 7 quarterbacks if you were going to be successful this year. Turns out that was a minor miscalculation. Turns out there were like 17 guys you could have started and had a respectable week. It's a little thinner at the tippy top, in that rare air where the truly elite QBs like Brees, Brady and Cam Newton and Ryan Fitzpatrick reside. Brees and Brady alone combine for almost a thousand yards passing. I don't know much about the metric system, but that sounds like a long way.
And while the QB play was pretty much transcendent across the board, some parts of the fantasy landscape were stuck in a very familiar gear. Of course I'm talking to Jamaal Charles owners here. Last year Todd Haley managed to take the best statistical runner since Eric Dickerson and make him practically second fiddle to Thomas Jones, a man who defines: "Yeah, he's OK". This season Charles fans - noticing that Jones is qualified AARP member - held out hope that Jamaal would no longer split time 50/50 with another running back. And on that small count they got their wish, Thomas Jones got less air time than the lottery girl. Did that stop Todd Haley from making Charles a fantasy non-entity? Heck no. He simply decided the Chiefs were going to focus on their passing game, ignoring the run almost completely. Sure, Jamaal did find the end zone late to salvage the day from being a complete loss, but he only got 10 carries from the backfield, not exactly the way to get into a rhythm. I hate Todd Haley like an STD.
The oddest development of the weekend, in my mind, is the shift going on in New England where it appears that 85% of that offense is being run through the tight ends. Every play seemed to be a pass that ended in the hands of a Gronkowski or a Hernandez. Were it not for that massive 99-yard reception by Welker to skew things back toward the receivers, I might be inclined to think that Belichick was in the process of downsizing the offense to three positions to make things easier for Jon Gruden to understand.
So what exactly happened to the running backs? LeGarrette Blount, Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Frank Gore, DeAngelo Williams, Ahmad Bradshaw all suffered from lack of production that had fantasy owners grinding their teeth all day on Sunday. Is the running back no longer the workhorse of the fantasy team? New rules have made the passing game a much easier one to play. And this weekend, at least, the most successful runners were the ones like Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy catching short dump offs and working the ball up the field.
Of course, as always, the worst thing that can happen to your fantasy team is when your kicker injures himself on the opening kickoff of the season and scores a big fat goose egg while a punter does his job for him and you end up losing by 1 point. Yeah, that happened to pretty much everyone who owned Nate Kaeding. Note to kickers: If you are going to blow a tire, do it on the Friday before so we can to pick up a stray Grammatica. Something.
Bonus fact: In case you didn't stay up to 2 a.m. watching Brandon Lloyd not get the 1 extra yard you needed to tie your game, you missed Steve Young comparing Tom Brady to Harry Potter until Stu Scott mercifully cut him off. Listen, I like Tom Brady, and I like Steve Young, and I even like Harry Potter, but mixing those three things together in the same highlight reel is a little like a soup sandwich. Besides, Belichick is totally Voldemort. For real.


MichaelProcton said...

Wow. Stuart Scott stopping a broadcaster from saying something stupid? Shoe's on the other foot, huh?