Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday Hangover: In search of common sense - the case of Jamaal Charles

File Photo - photographers couldn't find Charles to shoot him last week.
On the pain scale of stubbed toe to jumping-off-a-cliff-into-a-pool-of-frozen-glass-shards, fantasy football offers a lot of different ways to be tortured. At the very top of that list is when your team (down by a surmountable number of points) has one guy left and it's a receiver (or tight end), and every play you see him line up at the top or bottom of your screen and every snap you see your QB immediately commit to a) looking the other direction, b) handing the ball off, c) getting sacked, d) throwing the ball to your guy only for a holding penalty to bring the yards back. Because of course there was a hold the one play your guy was open.
And while receivers are at the mercy of the QBs' often flawed discretion, running backs seem a much safer play because it's them against a defense. Until it's also them against the coaching staff.
The punditry made a lot of hay this weekend discussing LeSean McCoy's involvement in the Philly offense as it may relate to Michael Vick's future employment and the team's overall struggle to win games. Ultimately Vick can say what he wants - but unless he is changing the play call 60 percent of the game then it's Andy Reid or his coordinator who simply aren't putting the ball in the hands of one of the best running back in the running back business (If that were an actual business that would be sweet, they'd all have business cards they'd hand out after touchdowns, they'd cold call your house asking if you are happy with your current running back provider).
But it's not just the Eagles who are guilty of this naked baffoonery. They are not even the most egregious offender, and with an offense like that it's easy to see where you may want Vick throwing the ball down field to the likes of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.
But what about Kansas City? For years I (and other bitter Jamaal Charles owners) have screamed bloody murder every time Todd Haley yanked the most explosive player in the league for some crotchety old guy or to showcase his non-existent aerial attack. But with Romeo Crennel at the helm things would be different, right? Sure looked that way. Coming back from the ACL surgery Charles was slow out of the gate until week 3 when he erupted for 233 yards and a TD, followed that up with a, 88-yard 1 TD game and a 140 yard romp in week 5. He was slowed by the defensively stout Bucs in week 6, then coming off a bye, owners had every reason to believe that playing  at home against Oakland's modest run D he'd get back to form. Instead he was awarded 5 carries, picked up 4 yards and 3 receptions in a home divisional game where the Chiefs could have easily run the ball 3 times as much as they did. Crennel's explanation for the reduction of Charles' touches?
"I'm not exactly sure."
That's the explanation.
It's also the explanation for why thousands of Charles owners got a beating this week by the 10 or 15 points they were pretty certain a normally utilized running back would net. The NFL trade deadline is Thursday. If there is a God of fantasy football then certainly the Lions can make the Chiefs an offer that can't be refused. Or someone. Anyone. Please save Jamaal Charles from the KC Chiefs and coaches who aren't sure when their best players are going to be on the field.

This week's outstanding performances brought to you by idiot coaches

The Andy Reid - in spite of faults, moments of greatness Award
Matthew Stafford (could anyone be more deserving of this award?) - Stafford spends more time coming from behind than the San Francisco Giants in the playoffs. If I were to do the math (and I won't) I'd say in 7 hours of football his team has had the lead for 36 seconds. But even still Stafford has owned 4th quarters - this week his game-winning drive included 10 completions for almost 80 passing yards and a TD. Some more please, Matt.

Doug Martin - For all of my ranting and raving about rookie RBs, DMart stuffed my words down my throat with a 200-yd 2-TD game. He'd been merely serviceable until Thursday nights curb-stomping of the Vikings. His next three games: @Oakland, San Diego, @ Carolina. Things are looking up for Martin owners.

Rob Gronkowski - In the world of Tight Ends he's pretty solid. In the world of stupid end zone theatrics he has no match. All the same, he went for 146-yds and 2-TDs. There's my big Gronky smile.

The Romeo Crennel - I have no idea what's going on Award
Stevan Ridley - Ridley's fantasy cadence is the most troubling kind. He's either great or he's worthless. No average. He's on your bench in week 5 when he goes for 150+TD, start him the next two weeks gets you 10 fantasy points - combined! Bench him in London, 120+TD. I hate Belichick.

Vernon Davis - Speaking of playmakers who inexplicably disappear for a few weeks, Davis is like their king. Through no real fault of his own VD has managed to accumulate 8 points in the last 3 weeks. Call it double coverage. Call it Michael Crabtree. Call it whatever you want - he's one of the strongest, toughest guys at that position and he needs to be used. You hear that Harbaugh? Two targets in two weeks isn't getting the job done.

Michael Crabtree - (read above) Guy had 72 yards and two TDs and just destroyed whatever the Cardinals threw at him in clutch situations. But do you feel safe starting him when he comes off the bye? I sure don't, and I'm a huge 49ers fan.  Is this the future of coaching in the NFL - do weird stuff all the time so no one ever knows what's coming, even if it means you are going to lose a game or two to weirdness? This is bad news for fantasy owners.

The Norv Turner - The incompetence becomes incontinence Award
Philip Rivers - It would have taken 8 total points to beat the Browns this weekend. The Chargers have reached a new low. Between Rivers and Antonio Gates and Malcolm Floyd a total of 15 fantasy points were scored. The worst part is that someone is going to give Norv Turner an offensive coordinating job next year.

Michael Bush - when I want a one back system (Kansas City) - I get a complete circus run by a out-of-touch, soon to be retired coach. When I want running back by committee (Chicago) I get all Matt Forte all the time. The only good news here is that Forte is just too fragile for this kind of workload. Every play he gets up and he holds a different part of his anatomy. At some point in the not-to-distant future he's just going to fall apart like humpty dumpty. Until then, Bush has regressed to worthlessness.

Jermichael Finley - Let's look at his fantasy totals since week 5 (ppr) 2.5, 2, 4, 3. Wow. As Candace Flynn-Fletcher would say: "So busted!" (That reference is for the kids, I'm trying to diversify my readership). Finley is a prime example of why you never, ever, ever, ever blame your struggles on your QB. In relationship terms Finely is the lucky guy and Aaron Rodgers is the hot girl. If Finley gets rude Rodgers is going to ask another girl to the prom. Every single week. The saddest part is the two prettiest girls in class (Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson) are grounded - and still Rodgers has no use for Finley. So Busted.


J said...

I have come to the conclusion that NFL coaches (head guys and coordinators alike) despise fantasy football more than they despise anything on Earth, and the lot of them have agreed to a sick collusion in an attempt to kill it. I swear some of these guys make personnel and playing time decisions just to screw with fantasy football, the damage to their own real team's chances to win be damned.

I like the idiot coaches theme. I'll use it too, with some college guys thrown in.

The Rex Ryan "I Can Talk More Than All Other Humans Combined" Award - Rivers. When Rivers talks, when he sits on the bus of The Exalted Jon Gruden, you come away convinced he has a clue. Then he goes out against Cleveland and very nearly drops a bagel on my fantasy stat sheet. He will not start for me again unless Schaub gets hurt, no matter how infuriating Arian Foster makes starting Schaub.

The Ron Rivera "I'm Scared as Hell" Award - Matt Forte. Now that we know Rivera made a playing career out of thinking every day he was going to get cut, and now is coaching just as scared as he played, some of his moves make sense. I've been a Panther fan from day 1, in 1993. There have only been 2 years that I can recall ('96 and '03) when our D has been worth a crap against the run. Plus, if Forte got to play the Panthers twice a year, before long he would make us say, "Emmitt who????" So I knew Forte was going to go for 200 and 2 scores this week. He gets the TD, then, as you said, every play you think he has Lattimore-ed himself. Oh, well, at least he got 1 score. Better than nothing, considering how my fantasy team is the Charlotte Bobcats of fantasy football (meaning, absolutely no ability to accumulate actual points).

The Gene Chizik "I'm the Biggest Hanger-On Since Billy Carter" Award - Darren Sproles. You remember Billy Carter, right? Jimmy's ugly, buck-toothed brother who brought Billy beer to the White House? Talk about a hanger-on. Chizik has proven to be one as well, as his coaching record is about 100 games below .500 in games where Cam Newton is not his starting QB. In that same spirit, I foolishly bought into the hype that Sproles is a scoring machine, able to slip through the cracks in the Greatest Offense That Ever Existed. Well, he caught 13 balls for 125 yards against the Panthers (that's a 42-point day in my league), but other than that, he's just been riding his team's reputation while producing about as much as a Cam-less Chizik. But what am I going to do, start Jarvis-Ellis-Ben-Green, who never fumbled in his life until he landed on my fantasy team?

The John Fox "Stop Throwing the F***ing Ball" Award - Santana Moss. The only games Moss has reached the end zone are days I did not start him. How, with all the work involved in coaching an NFL team, does Mike Shanahan know I have Moss on my team? And what did I do to him that made him tell Bob Griffin, "That idiot in Charlotte is starting Moss on his fantasy team today, so if you even think of throwing in Moss' direction, I'll have your legs cut off"?

The Derek Dooley "Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations" Award - Kendall Wright. Rocky Bottom hasn't been Rocky Top in so long, Dooley is probably going to get a contract extension after the Vols run through the dregs of the SEC East and finish 7-5 and go to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis or the Twanger Music Bowl in Nashville. Similarly, my team is so bad I find myself turning Sunday Ticket away from the Panthers game to see if The Oldest QB Since George Blanda has thrown to my #2 WR or if he's throwing to those bums Kenny Britt and Jared Cook, or if he's handing the ball to CJ2K just because he's turning back into a real RB again.

Some researcher is going to get very rich in about 30 years when he starts a study to see if playing fantasy football is or is not the reasons men everywhere are dying early. My bet is on yes.