Tuesday, September 28, 2010
NFL Homage: Week 3
Peter King, long-time Sports Illustrated writer, has a column titled Monday Morning Quarterback or MMQB. This is speculative hearsay as I have never read it. But that is the rumor. Similarly, Gregg Easterbrook, short-time ESPN.com author, has a column titled Tuesday Morning Quarterback or TMQ. This is factual, as I have seen the links to it, but have never read it. Supposedly TMQ is an homage to MMQB where, in both, the author summarizes the goings-on of the previous NFL week of games. Well, in the Sports Pinata, each week I will be writing a post about the previous slab of games, call it an homage to an homage as I am copying the idea, but as I have never read either man's work, don't know if I will be copying ideas. Let's hope not. On to week three.
And speaking of threes, we are down to three unbeatens. What a group of undefeated teams it is too. The Pittsburgh Steelers, without their franchise quarterback but with their heart and soul (Troy Polamalu) are 3-0. They have only given up two touchdowns in 12 quarters so far this season. The vaunted Steelers defense is back. It was missing last year, that was clear. But with defensive POY candidate Polamula playing, they'll be tough to score on all year long. And don't forget this: Ben Roethlisberger comes back after next game. Their week four game against the Ravens is pretty much just gravy. Going 3-1 into their bye week with Big Ben coming back is as good as they could have hoped for.
The Chicago Bears are also undefeated, the only NFC team that can say so. Some people thought their offense would rebound with Mike Martz but a lot more people did not. No one believed in Jay Cutler, who still is prone to throwing interceptions in the red zone, but is having himself a nice year. The real key is, much like Pittsburgh, this Chicago defense we were used to is back. No one can run the ball against them. Urlacher is back after missing much of last year (sound familiar?) and is anchoring a rejuvenated defense. I did not expect anyone to challenge Green Bay for this division, and that still might be the case, but the Bears winning the first match-up has put them in very nice position.
The last of the loss-less three is, of course, MY Kansas City Chiefs! Yes, the Sports Pinata's adopted sleeper pick from two months ago is off and running. Check out July's post 'Making the Leap' to see for yourself.
(Not that I'm in the business to continually pat myself on the back, especially since this is no business, I make less money than you think here, but I also tagged Thomas Jones as a nice fantasy sleeper for the season back in June, claiming he would get more carries than people thought. Jamaal Charles is clearly more talented at this point, but the Chiefs are using both guys pretty equally and Jones has value.)
The Chiefs already have a two game lead on every single team in their division after only three weeks. This really is the best start anyone in Kansas City could have hoped for. Too bad Jason Whitlock just moved to L.A. or he'd finally have a Kansas City team challenging for something to write about. The schedule is the deciding factor for this team's hopes of AFC West glory. After their bye, they have two tough road games, followed by a CAKE WALK. Here are their last 11 opponents: Jacksonville, Buffalo, Oakland, Denver, Arizona, Seattle, Denver, San Diego, St. Louis, Tennessee, and Oakland. Now I'm not saying the Chiefs are a proven top team yet, but wouldn't a good team win at least 8 of those 11? Pretty easily? With Matt Cassel having a nice game week three, Kansas City is resting easy during their bye.
Now on to fantasy stories, the stuff people really care about. We have a Michael Vick trend starting now. Of course, if you don't want to count the second half of the Packers game, the Eagles still have not played a strong defense with Vick under center. I don't know, I'm a believer. I see Vick as a top seven quarterback from here on out, especially with Matt Schaub being so inconsistent.
Chris Johnson rebounded nicely after his week on the 'stars who sucked' lineup. Many others were not so lucky however. Here is our week three starting lineup:
Quarterback - Eli Manning. Now Eli is not a top 10 fantasy QB necessarily, and Matt Schaub would have won this spot ordinarily (Schaub's second time on the team in only three weeks) but Eli's endzone interception alone makes him qualify. That Giants - Titans game was closer than the score indicated. If the Giants didn't make so many damn mistakes, the outcome could have been different. Throwing for 386 yards does not cover up a zero touchdown, two interception performance.
Running Back - Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice. This is back to back weeks for Jones-Drew on the 'stars who sucked' team. The Jaguars are not good, but if you are their best player, take a page out of Stephen Jackson's playbook and at least score a touchdown. 88 yards, no touchdowns, no receiving to speak of, 8 fantasy points. Not what you want from your first round pick, especially after a poor week two. Rice has been much of the same. A disappointing start to the season for a universal first round pick. 80 yards rushing, 16 receiving and no touchdowns. Good for 9 fantasy points. When Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson are putting up 20's and 30's, the supposed next best guys have to at least score in double digits. These are players who are relied upon to carry fantasy teams week after week.
Wide Receiver - Miles Austin and Greg Jennings. Austin had been stellar this season. Roy Williams decided to play like it was 2002 and came up huge, taking catches away from Miles. I expect a bounce back in no time. Of course, just because I expect a rebound, does not mean he can avoid making the lineup after gaining 20 total yards on Sunday. Greg Jennings, on the other hand, I am worried about. He made the lineup last week as well. Jennings ended with a touchdown, but only caught one other pass, and ended with 18 yards. For a guy who was supposed to be the big play threat on a monster offense, Greg is not off to a good start. Having no running game to speak of obviously doesn't help the Packers passing game, but with Rodgers we all expected Jennings to thrive. Packers' tight end Jermichael Finely sure is.
Tight End - Dallas Clark. There are only about three tight ends in the league right now that I would trust to perform each and every week. Clark was one of them. That's why he makes the list over some others who performed even worse. I can expect a no touchdown, 22 yard performance from Vernon Davis. Even Shiancoe ending with a zero isn't as surprising as Clark putting up a stinker. 4 fantasy points isn't going to cut it for arguably the best tight end in the game.
D/ST - Ravens. This was a hard crop to choose from after week three. The Patriots had a bad day and are widely owned but I am not sure why. I don't think they are a good defense to begin with, which would lead to allowing Buffalo to put up 30 points. San Fransisco should have been the winner here except it appears as though the 49ers are just all around terrible. I see no signs of the top rated defense from 2009 in this group. That leaves us, for a second week in a row, with the Ravens. Yet again, they were not awful. But, as a top flight defense, you expect more than what they are giving. 17 points allowed. Okay. Two sacks but no turnovers and a pitiful 2 fantasy points against the Browns. It was a disappointing showing for Ray Lewis and company.
Kicker - Garrett Hartley. He has to be the 'stars who sucked' starting kicker. I don't even care that poster boy Nate Kaeding scored fewer points. Hartley missed the chip shot, game winning field goal, in overtime. He has already missed three field goals on the year and the Saints are reportedly bringing in competition in the form of John Carney. A time share is the furthest thing from an ideal situation for a fantasy kicker, even on a team with a top shelf offense. Hartley has gone from universally owned to droppable just like that.
A lot of repeat starters on our 'stars who sucked' team. That is not good news for the guys who own those players. Championships may be won with late round flyers and good waiver finds, but the easiest way to lose is if your top picks have a bad year. There is no coming back from that.
This has been week three's NFL homage to an homage.
(Same image used as previous NFL Homage posts)