Tuesday, November 2, 2010

NFL Homage: Week 8

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 eight.

Half way through the season and it is clear who the top teams are now. Obviously the Steelers and Jets are the best two teams in the league...What's that? You say they both lost to NFC opponents last week? Errmmm, uhh, okay. Let me start over.

Half way through the season and it is clear we still have no idea who the top teams are. It was supposedly the Steelers and Jets, yet they both lost last weekend, to NFC teams no less. Perhaps this is a sign the Packers and Saints are more in line with what we expected coming into the year, but who knows. The team that may have jumped the most from week eight is the Giants, and they had a bye.

The only thing we know for sure is the Cowboys stink. Making the Jaguars look that good is quite an accomplishment. Speaking of Jacksonville, the oddest season by any player may be from a Jaguar at this point. Tight end Mercedes Lewis is having a nice statistical season, on the surface. He already has seven touchdown receptions, good for second among tight ends, trailing only the peerless Antonio Gates. However, Lewis only has 25 total catches on the year. He's only gaining 40 yards a game. He has been downright bad, unless the Jags are in the redzone. Then his 6-6 frame comes in handy. At Mercedes Lewis' touchdown catching pace, league receptions leader Roddy White would be over 15 touchdowns on the season. Instead, he has five.

Not everyone is having a great season like White or a "lucky" season like Lewis though. Here is week eight's lineup of 'stars who sucked.'

Quarterback - Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has been consistently good all year, up until he had to face the New York Jets' defense. His team came away with the victory, but fantasy owners don't care about that. The Packers did not record a touchdown in the game and Rodgers ended with only 170 yards passing. Seven fantasy points is a poor week for even a starting running back, but getting that from your number one QB is almost a death sentence.

Running Back - Steven Jackson and Jahvid Best. A lot of the top runners were on their bye in week eight including Ray Rice, Michael Turner, LeSean McCoy, and Ahmad Bradshaw. I wouldn't necessarily include Jahvid Best on a list of stars, not yet at least, but the pickings were slim. Of course when you compare Best to his other rookie running back counterparts, he already is a star. C.J. Spiller and Ryan Mathews have been so worthless from a fantasy perspective that Best fits his name. Gaining 79 yards from scrimmage in week eight isn't terrible, but the competition was tough. Steven Jackson was a little worse than Jahvid and we expected him, even with the injury, to be a lot better. This was only his second week getting single digit fantasy points all season, so we'll have to give him a pass and expect things to be back to normal after the Rams' bye.

Wide Receiver - Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Fitting, right? Well maybe 'fitting' isn't the correct word. Expected, right? The week Moss throws up a stinker, quits on a few more passes, and mouths off afterwards is the week he's finally cut. I am sure some team will claim him off waivers and try to make use of him, but I wouldn't feel confident the rest of the season if he's your best fantasy receiver. As for his New England 'replacement', the guy to pick up the slack after he was dealt, Wes Welker gained just 24 yards on Sunday. After a poor game the week before as well, Welker has not done much since Moss' departure.

Tight End - Zach Miller. Perhaps Vernon Davis is thought of as more of a star at the tight end position, and Davis certainly had a bad game, but I thought Miller was making strides. It is too early to dismiss this notion, especially since he was banged up coming into the game and was on crutches afterwards, but Zach Miller was on his way to the second tier of tight ends. He had double digit fantasy points in four of his last five games. Even with the quarterback uncertainly in Oakland, he was getting the job done. However, week eight was a step back, gaining just 8 yards. If he manages to get healthy, he might be a top three tight end by the end of the season.

D/ST - Vikings. Oh Minnesota. You had so much promise coming into the season. That defense was supposed to be top notch. Now, you're even allowing people to run all over you. That hasn't happened in years, ever since Pat and Kevin Williams teamed up to form the best defensive tackle tandem in the NFL. It appears as though the Vikings have gone the way of the 2010 Cowboys and 2010 Chargers however: a talented defense who was expected to be near the top in fantasy circles and has just not been good. They didn't force any turnovers, did not even record a sack against the Patriots. Negative fantasy points from a top ten defense is bad news. They play Arizona next week and I'm not sure I would even start them. If I had to, I wouldn't feel good about it.

Coming later this week will be the Sports Pinata's updated Gimmicky NFL Power Rankings. Boy, was I off on a lot of teams, not that I expected anything less. Predicting the NFL standings prior to the season is a bigger gamble than letting Brett Favre borrow your cell phone. Of course, I will continue to brag about the Chiefs all the way until they somehow lose the division title in week 17. But for now, Chiefs are in first place!

This has been week eight's NFL homage to an homage.

(Same image used as previous NFL Homage posts)

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