Laveranues Coles copies Harrison, gets released

Let’s not get crazy here. Just because Marvin Harrison does something, that doesn’t mean all the old, aging receivers in the league have to do it.

But no one told that to Laveranues Coles. Coles is so confident that he can get a long-term deal in free agency that he was willing to give up the $6 million the Jets would have paid him next season.

Coles thinks he can play for another three or four years, but the Jets apparently didn’t feel the same. The team agreed to release him amicably before the start of  free agency but still might work out a deal.

Coles has been convinced of his value long-term by his agent Roosevelt Barnes, who must have met Coles at the last meeting of the ridiculously-formal-sounding name club.

Sure, there’s a team or two out there looking for receivers, but I’m sure they’d rather have a T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Anquan Boldin or even Plaxico Burress before a Coles.

Coles, much like Harrison, is a fading talent. He’s dropped in fantasy rankings with the departure of Brett Favre, and it’s hard to see him finding a situation within the NFL that makes him any more relevant to fantasy football.

Tampa Bay, with their open bag of cap space, has been a safe haven for veterans in recent years,  Weekend at Bernie’s-ing Joey Galloway for most of the modern century, but even that love affair came to an end when the Bucs cancelled their social security policy and released a slew of veterans.

Will the Eagles take him? Unlikely. Donovan McNabb would probably rather have Marvin Harrison than Coles, and neither would really show a huge effort on the Eagles’ part to improve his targets.

I guess he’s got a shot in Miami depending on how much he really likes that Chad Pennington guy.

Coles is most likely bound for a few meetings with a handful of teams, a few phone calls to Roosevelt about the proper spelling of “Laveranues” and, after all that time wasted, a new contract with the Jets.

He should just hope his new one is somewhere close to the money he just left on the table.

Fantasy Funeral: Colts release Marvin Harrison

Marvin Harrison might  meet the end of his long tenure with the Colts this week. Despite the Colts’ best efforts to keep him in their plans for 2009, he’s likely to be released as a salary cap move. Lucky year 13!

Give him credit. Harrison did everything in his power to stay in the spotlight, suspected shooting incidents included, but there’s little reason for the Colts to keep him around with Reggie Wayne fully-established as Peyton Manning’s top target and Anthony Gonzalez taking over Harrison’s spot on the team.

Harrison’s game clearly lost a step in 2008. He had just 636 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games, less than half of his stats from 2006.

Harrison sat out most of the 2007 season with a knee injury, and for his sake, we won’t even bring up those numbers. Many fantasy owners thought they were cheating the system by stealing him late in the fantasy football draft. Yeah, not so much.

Harrison was exactly what we thought he would be in 2008, a dud.

There are no free rides in the NFL, especially when you’re one of the highest-paid receivers in the game. Harrison will count  $13.4 million against the salary cap if he is not released.

As ESPN cited Peter King:

Most who follow the team on a daily basis had the same sense as Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King, who  wrote Monday morning  that “Polian does not give scholarships for longer than one year. And Harrison was on scholarship last year.”

As is the custom this year with every receiver that enters the free agent market, we must now point to the Eagles likelihood of being in the hunt for Marvin Harrison, but even with his bright, shiny known-name receiver hands, it’s unlikely that many teams will be clawing over each other for him. He showed just last season that he was fading, and look what Jerry Porter did for Jacksonville last season…

It’s more than likely that Harrison ends up right back in Indy after testing the waters. Any other team that hired him would basically be bringing him in as a glorified wide receivers coach, and Indy considers him more valuable because of all the records Manning and Harrison could continue to break together.

For now, may Marvin Harrison’s fantasy football career rest in peace. Your draft board nameplate will always hold a special place in my heart, and by heart, I mean that trash can I dunked it in after I wadded it up.

Update: Oh yeah, and they pulled the trigger on releasing him.

Why T.O. will be a Cowboy in 2009

Since “Pacman” Adam Jones’ release, the talk of the Dallas Cowboys has been change. If not at the coaching position, currently filled by the Pillsbury Doughboy Wade Phillips, fans are crying out for Terrell Owens to get out of town.

But that’s just crazy talk. Jerry Jones recently pointed out his silence as a hint that he will be keeping his prized star receiver, and why not? Why would keeping T.O. be such a no-go for the Cowboys?

Letting him walk just doesn’t measure up to keeping him on the team, and there are plenty of reasons to do that:

1) 2007: Terrell Owens had 81 receptions and 15 touchdowns in 2007. The Cowboys went 13-3 as the NFC darlings before bombing out in the first playoff game against the Super Bowl-bound New York Giants.

In that one playoff game, T.O. was one of two Cowboys to score a touchdown. There’s no reason to doubt that he could produce the same numbers again in 2009 as long as he has a quarterback for every game — and not a Brad Johnson.

2) The Roy E. Williams trade: Some would say having Roy Williams is a good reason to let T.O. go, but they may be overlooking why Dallas brought in Williams in the first place.

The Cowboys traded a good chunk of draft picks to bring in the former Texas Longhorn and Detroit Lion as a second dominant receiver who could give T.O. some breathing room. Cutting T.O. would simply put Williams in the same situation, getting blanketed by defenses who aren’t scared of Patrick Crayton.

3)  Terrell Owens loves the Cowboys (or at least Jerry): T.O. tells the media he wants to retire as a Cowboy. He’s cried for his quarterback, and T.O. hasn’t stated any complaints that haven’t also come from many of the other players on the roster — *cough* Jason Garrett *cough* — about the way things went this year.

The locker room may be torn up, but T.O. cannot be held responsible for all the trouble.

4) Value lost: If the Cowboys dumped T.O., he’d just provide his services to another team and prove all his critics wrong. The Cowboys, in return, would be left empty-handed with an unreliable No. 1 receiver in Roy Williams. Jerry Jones knows how to make a deal, and that doesn’t sound like a good one.

5) Leadership: As bad as it may sound, Owens is one of a handful of players who could provide some veteran leadership on this team. He’s more vocal than most players and has the respect of many of the younger members of the team.

If Tony Romo steps up next season as a leader, Terrell Owens could be right there with him. It would certainly be nice if he could take a few receivers, including Williams, under his wing and show them the ropes before he leaves the game in a few years. Although, with that hyperbaric chamber, he may play until he turns 80.

That’s why T.O. will be a Cowboy in 2009. No need to worry if your fantasy football roster is heavily invested in T.O. or the Cowboys.

More: ESPN’s Matt Mosley weighed in with some reasons to cut T.O., but I don’t see Owens fading yet or blowing up on Romo. Tim MacMahon of The Dallas Morning News provided five reasons to keep him in response.

A-11 Offense: The Next Wildcat?

Deadspin’s Rick Chandler exposed this devil-spawn offense to the jaw-dropping masses this summer — the A-11, two quarterbacks in the backfield causing chaos for opposing defenses.

The real debate with A-11 was whether a kicking formation was a legal offense. Should high school teams should be able to “gimmick” their way into the win column? Despite its haphazard ways, A-11 seems to do the job and keeps things interesting.

NCAA rules limit the use of the A-11 formation in college football, but given the popularity of “Wildcat” plays last season after the Miami Dolphins torched the New England Patriots with Ronnie Brown, how long is it going to be before this offensive scheme saves the Detroit Lions? And perhaps your fantasy team?

The A-11 Explained

The A-11 offense is actually a scrimmage-kick formation using two quarterbacks, two tight ends, one center and six potential receivers. As long as one quarterback lines up more than seven yards deep, there’s no need for those fatties on the offensive line to take the field.

From A11Offense.com:

The A-11 Offense (All Eleven Players Potentially Eligible) is an innovative new offense that blends aspects of almost every type of offense in the history of football such as the West Coast, Spread Option, Run and Shoot, Shotgun Zone Fly, Wing-T, Single Wing, Notre Dame Box, Triple Option and Veer just to name a few. Teams can use the A-11 as a “package” to supplement their own offense & feature up to eleven players as potential threats, and even two quarterbacks in the shotgun!

When the ball gets snapped, the quarterback is on his own — except for the other quarterback, of course. The two quarterbacks keep the defense at bay by splitting the field and moving the ball. If you need a visual, Deadspin’s got one for you, and you can read all about the offense and its California-dreamin’ co-creators Piedmont High coaches Kurt Bryan and Steve Humphries

Is it the wave of the future? Maybe. But it’s definitely the hottest thing to hit high school sports since Allison Stokke.

NFL Impact

The “Wildcat” was the experimental stepchild of every NFL coach after Miami’s offensive coordinator Dan Herring, who had experimented with the concept in Carolina with DeAngelo Williams in 2006, and quarterbacks coach David Lee, who was the offensive coordinator at Arkansas in 2007 when they were running the “WildHog” formation with Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, unleashed it full force against the Patriots with Ronnie Brown.

The A-11 could not only have a similar rise to prominence within the NFL, it could also make fantasy football a much different affair.

As Bryan points out in his blog, the athletes are getting faster and more suited to a wide open, speedy offense. The formation protects athletes and gives smaller schools a chance to compete at the high school level. What if it could save a rebuilding franchise or two?

The biggest danger is leaving highly-paid quarterbacks exposed, but if your offensive line is already doing a lot of that, there’s not much harm in designing a few A-11 plays to see what happens.

Obviously, the Lions come to mind, but teams like the St. Louis Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars, who had all kinds of issues at the line of scrimmage this year, might help themselves out by adding some A-11 formations to the playbook.

If teams deep with receiver talent like the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals adopted it, the A-11 could cause devastation for a few plays.

Maybe it’s time the Lions signed Michael Vick and threw Vick and a quarterback of the future from the draft or their roster onto the field in the A-11. Vick would add the run threat to the offense and a veteran presence while a younger quarterback could develop.

Fantasy Impact

While good for struggling NFL franchises, the A-11 is not such a welcome change for fantasy owners.

These wrinkles added into the offense increase the number of players touching the ball even if they do make the offense more explosive. That means fantasy owners will have more wide receivers to track and more options for their roster each week who will only be getting a portion of the stats.

The A-11 could make it practically impossible to know which of six receivers is going to be the most effective on any given Sunday. The offenses could generate more yards and points while also involving more players.

In short, we might all be screwed. The A-11 is offensive chaos, but it’s the good kind of chaos, just like your first Mardi Gras…right?

How scared are you right now?

10 Foolish Thoughts on Super Bowl XLIII

I had to wait until after the Pro Bowl to gather my thoughts about this year’s Super Bowl. Even though the Pro Bowl is full of overhyped drama and hated by many NFL fans, I love it.

Outside of a video game, the Pro Bowl is the closest thing to two fantasy teams playing against each other. Drew Brees is out there throwing the ball to Larry Fitzgerald with Adrian Peterson in the backfield. How can you not love that? Tell  me. And how did Eli Manning get there?  

Unfortunately, my bold prediction did not come to pass for the Super Bowl. It’s finally digested that the Pittsburgh Steelers are the champs, but Arizona fans still got a happy ending, right?

**If the basic facts aren’t enough for you, get the rest of the NSFW details, courtesy of Deadspin, at the end of this post.

The fantasy season is over, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn anything from what we saw in this biggest game of the year. So I collected 10 critical and very foolish thoughts on Super Bowl XLIII. Enjoy.

  1. Larry Fitzgerald reached his boiling point as a fantasy football receiver in the postseason, which means I won’t touch him in drafts next year at a first round price tag, especially if Anquan Boldin stays. Those two tradeoff stats too often, and there’s bound to be another Fitz breaking out next season. Hint: It won’t be Torry Holt.
  2. Tim Hightower’s not going to take the starting job from Edgerrin James in Arizona. If Edge leaves the Cardinals, J.J. Arrington might even put up a fight before Hightower is declared the starter. Where did Hightower go at the end of the season? Disneyland before the Super Bowl?
  3. On that same note, Rashard Mendenhall is not going to sweep into Steeltown and wipe Willie Parker away when he returns from injury in 2009. With Willie Parker, Mewelde Moore and Gary Russell battling for carries, he’s going to have to earn his spot over time.
  4. Kurt Warner: Still slippery even after all these years. But it was still a fumble. Still, if Boldin’s back, I’d gladly take him as my starting quarterback next season.
  5. Big Ben Roethlisberger should stop running. See thought No. 3? There are plenty of other players to do that job, Ben. You just weren’t meant to move that way.
  6. Santonio Holmes may have great toe control and the ability to make big plays, but I’d pass on him next year and take Hines Ward several rounds later. Holmes frustrated owners all season with his big play or no play performance. Nothings changed because he’s got a new trophy. Nate Washington is practically his equal.
  7. I want to play in a league where defenses get points for rushing yardage. You in? Did anyone else hear them say “a silverback jumped on the back of the silverback” during the runback? What does that even mean? Intrigued.
  8. We were cheated out of the Cardinals’ final drive, but it wasn’t because of the fumble. It was a missed penalty call. A hail mary to Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald would have been a more fitting way to ride this one out.
  9. Willie Parker’s still got it, even if he didn’t show as much in the Super Bowl as he did against San Diego. And, for once, I’m not talking about an injury.
  10. Anyone else find themselves wishing this Super Bowl was the Indianapolis Colts facing the Arizona Cardinals right about halftime?

*To follow your dreams to a happier ending than what I linked to at the top of the post, see all the coverage of the Super porn Bowl from Deadspin at your own risk.

The New ESPN.com: Is it all a fantasy?

Have you seen the new ESPN.com yet? Simplified. Customizable scoring across the top…larger content area for lead stories and video…easier and clearly visible login…and the ability to name specific teams, columnists and players in “myESPN.”

ESPN's redesign simplifies and personalizes

With this update, ESPN is trying to make it easier for visitors to get to what they need, want and crave from their sports coverage. I know one of my minor peeves this fantasy season was getting to my actual fantasy league page without clicking on two drop-down menus, a sidebar link and having to log into the site through one of two login boxes in different locations.

But along with their move to simplify and customize the site, I think ESPN is gunning to become more of a tool and direct resource for fantasy sports fans.

Taking a closer look at the redesign, I couldn’t help but notice that the new menu ranks “Fantasy & Games” as its fourth option from the left — after “Sports,” “Columnists,” and “Page 2.” You no longer have to seek out the tiny “Fantasy” button, click it and then click “Fantasy Football” just to get to the fantasy football homepage.

It also makes it easier to get to the specific games you might be trying to locate — ah ha, I found you Gridiron Playoff Challenge. You can also click your “myESPN” tab to be jumped straight to specific fantasy games — even easier to jump to Gridiron Playoff Challenge. Would it be too much to ask that, once fantasy football season rolls around, “myESPN” could link you straight to your league pages? Would that be too much to ask ESPN?

According to the New York Times, the goal of all of these changes is to get more people to ESPN.com and keep them coming there, and ESPN believes the new personalized, clean and more fantasy-optimized layout will help draw in that audience.

Growing even bigger is the goal, and to do that ESPN needs to reach beyond hard-core sports fans — it already has them — to people whose interest in athletics is more casual, analysts say. A less chaotic Web design is one way ESPN managers are tackling this challenge.

Where will they ever find a large portion of casual sports fans? That’s right, fantasy sports. Office pools will have entire offices of not-so-devoted sports fans tracking squads of NFL players for 17 weeks. Some don’t even watch games. It’s an easy sell as long as the site doesn’t turn them away by being too much or too cluttered.

Of course, they also aren’t forgetting their hardcore base of badass fantasy footballers and sporting diehards. We get search and tracking.

At the same time, ESPN must keep its primary audience satisfied and increase the amount of time these people spend on the site, which could allow the company to charge higher ad rates. To that end, the company has built a more efficient search engine — “Our old one, frankly, was just not very good,” Mr. Skipper said — that is intended to allow heavy users to delve deeply into the site with greater ease.

Expanded user customization also comes into play, with visitors being able to do things like personalize the scores displayed on the home page for the first time, said Rob King, the Web site’s editor in chief. “We’re also working hard to make sure that personalization follows you through the site,” Mr. King said.

With more and more cable and satellite services and sites on the Web offering fantasy football fanatics the ability to track individual players, the “myPlayers” selections could be a nice way to keep fantasy owners on ESPN.com (even if they aren’t playing through ESPN) and encourage fantasy fans to track their rosters for keeper and dynasty leagues during the offseason.

The “myESPN” tracking features, as creepy cool as it sounds, will allow your preferences and player selections to “follow you through the site” so that you get the info that you need each week (or on a daily basis). I think the kind of following I can appreciate — and it doesn’t even involve rolling silently down residential blocks with the headlights off.

I like what you’ve done with the place, ESPN. You’re headed in the right direction by targeting fantasy players as your growing audience. Now, we’re just one more step closer to fantasy football fans ruling the world. First, ESPN. Next, Rhode Island — because who’s really going to stop us?

And remember, there is still that other type of stalking following I can appreciate as long as you appreciate the stylings of A Beautiful Mind from a mind not nearly as ridiculously good-looking.

Foolish Thoughts on Week 17: Studs, Cowardly Lions and Cowbell

Your fantasy football season should now officially be over. We hope you all did better than expected, and if we were any help, even better.

We took this week off get our act together for the playoffs and recover from 17 weeks of fantasy football coverage. It’s grueling … but also so very, very good. Next season, I’m looking to play fewer teams on my own so that I can produce more articles and respond to more emails — there’s always one more than I don’t have the time to get to each week.

But enough about the future, let’s talk about the past…

The injury we all expected to strike Ben Roethlisberger before the end of the season finally hit him in Week 17, where it couldn’t really do much but hurt you if you started Big Ben against the Browns. I am sure that Mike Tomlin will forever be questioned for having Big Ben in that game to start with, and being carried off the field in a stretcher just before the playoffs usually takes a little win out of a team for the postseason.

Luckily for Big Ben and Steelers fans, Pittsburgh has a bye week for him to recover from his concussion. If you were planning on starting him in any playoff fantasy leagues — yes, more on that soon — I would reconsider. A concussed Big Ben still sounds like a Big Ben I wouldn’t have a lot of confidence in behind his Swiss cheese of a pass blocking line and against playoff-caliber defense.

Someone buy him a helmet with extra padding.

Was that an Edgerrin James sighting in the Cardinals stomping? Outside of Big Ben, the theme this week seemed to be fantasy studs making up for a slow season or dismal last two to three weeks.

Kurt Warner and the gang decided to bring it in this one like a playoff game, and old faithful certainly did that after a season of fantasy greatness. Warner had four touchdowns in the win over the Seahawks. Two of those went to Larry Fitzgerald. And just to round things out, Edgerrin James had over 100 yards.

It was the Seahawks, of course, but he also hit 100 yards with only 14 carries. Despite the Seahawks’ disappointing season, I’m sure that all the Seattle players wanted to take home this last one against the Cards for Mike Holmgren.

With that performance and the mediocrity that Tim Hightower showed when he was finally named starter, James may have his job back for the playoff run. I’d expect him to start against the Falcons, and maybe will use all that experience to do some good for the playoff strangers, the Cardinals.

If not, he can always hand out peanuts, right?

Speaking of fantasy studs making good for owners in the final week, LaDainian Tomlinson finally looked like LaDainian Tomlinson. Where was this three touchdown day when the Week 16 championship folks needed him?

I still like Darren Sproles as a big play threat moving forward, but both Sproles and L.T. had moves against the Broncos poor tackling. Even Jacob Hester had a touchdown in this one. Lucky for the Chargers, it’s a good time to have a running game, but the Colts won’t make as many mistakes as the Broncos this weekend.

Steven Jackson ended the season strongly as well even though the Rams have no postseason to speak of besides trying to figure out how to save the franchise.

The Rams may have finished better than the Lions, but the Lions still consider themselves the better team since they never recorded “Ram It.”

http://youtu.be/nOYY6futWBc

Besides Larry Fitzgerald, the Johnson stud receivers came up with two-touchdown days as well. Andre Johnson and Calvin Johnson both locked up two scores as the Lions struggled to win one and the Texans struggled to once against convince Houston fans that they’ll be a contender next season — so far, they never come through on that promise they make by ending every season on a hot streak.

Atop the fantasy quarterback standings, Kurt Warner was joined by Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Sadly, Brees four touchdown performance came up just shy of the record for passing yardage in a single season.

The way he played this season, I’m sure he’ll have another shot at it. His final pass looked like he was struck by the curse of history; it was one of the worst looking ones he threw all day.

The only real surprise performance of the week was Michael Bush against the Bucs. The Raider running back had two touchdowns and almost 200 yards to beat the Bucs — and to give the Eagles the motivation they need to push into the playoffs against the Cowboys.

Michael Bush showed a lot this season, and I really think that the Raiders could do much better for themselves starting a committee of Michael Bush and Darren McFadden over Justin Fargas all the time. Fargas may have proven himself last season, but Bush and McFadden have a ridiculous amount of talent.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Raiders put Bush on display here in Week 17 to try and make a deal with him this offseason. He’s definitely one to watch. On another team, he could break out like Michael Turner if given the opportunity.

On the Lions
Are we really surprised that the Lions were the first team to hit 0-16? They’ve danced with the bottom of the barrel for enough seasons by now for us to see this one coming.

Yes, it sucks that they set a record like that for Detroit, but they deserved it.

They drafted poorly and played uninspired long enough to breed a culture of acceptable losses. Rod Marinelli couldn’t do much with that no matter how much respect the team has for him.

On expatriates
Now that they are both free of other commitments, will Bill Belichick rebuild the dream team of former Patriot coaches? He could have Romeo Crennel, fired from the Browns, and Eric Mangini, fired from the Jets, back after they both failed to make it on their own.

Somehow, I don’t think Mangini sniffs a job with the Patriots staff unless Belichick wants to make him be a janitor … but Belichick would so love to make him a janitor.

It really makes you wonder how Charlie Weis kept his gig. Don’t you know that the hot thing to do this offseason is fire former Patriot coaches, Notre Dame?

On Skeletor powers in flux
Mike Shanahan got the axe. Didn’t see it coming, but it was clear something had to change after the Broncos slowly declined into mediocrity after emerging as the favorite in the AFC West with a string of victories.

Despite his Eddie Royal selection this season, Shanahan has made bad calls on personnel in the draft and free agency that have kept the Broncos just short of the winning team. The defense has been hit the hardest.

Without Shanny, Cutler and the Broncos are definitely a team to keep your eye on. Their Patriot-style offense wowed fantasy owners early in the season.

Shanahan will end up somewhere since he’s still considered one of the top coaches in the league. He’ll make something happen with his ability to turn a running back into a fantasy stud — before tossing him to the curb for the next guy one game later and infuriating fantasy owners. I think his luck finally caught up with him this season since all of his running backs got injured as soon as they had their big days.

He has to go somewhere. Maybe even Dallas. What would a season be without our evil dark lord of fantasy spoiling fantasy football draft picks around the world? Let’s just hope he doesn’t get full personnel control of the Lions. They don’t need any more questionable draft picks.

On the end of the season
The season may be over, but there are still playoffs (and playoff fantasy football) to think about! We’ll be playing fantasy throughout the postseason before getting into our offseason coverage on how to make you a better fantasy football player, so make sure you stick around as we continue to bring you more cowbell.

And if you’d rather be more suave in checking back every week for our latest, you should subscribe to get our latest updates delivered to you each week. It’ll be the start of something beautiful — and mildly entertaining.

On legendary media frenzy
And now that the season is over, let the love festivus for Brett Favre begin. Will he retire? Will he stick out another year? When will fans stop caring? News at 11 … every night … for the rest of our offseason lives.

Foolish Thoughts on Week 15: I’m all out of love, so lost without you

It was hard to bring my thoughts together between fits of extreme sobbing after watching all the football games in a very serious, totally masculine way this weekend.

Yes, I lost at Nick’s hands this week, one game away from the championship … in a game where I was “projected” to win by 50 points.

Thank you, Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Marshall, Lee Evans and Brian Westbrook for dropping the ball when I needed you most.

I could blame Peyton Manning for managing only one touchdown against the Lions or Matt Forte for being just gimpy enough after a slight injury to barely crack double digits, but I’m still too happy with both of them this season. Forte was the best pick I made in the draft this year, and Manning reclaimed the title of “The Better Manning” … and, therefore, shoved the lesser Elisha Manning back down a notch, where he belongs.

Going into Monday night’s Eagles-Browns showdown, I needed 35+ points from Brian Westbrook and no-name tight end Steve Heiden, backing up the injured Kellen Winslow for the Browns (and my fantasy team). If Westbrook could get another 30 points against the Browns, maybe Heiden could get me those last critical points by catching a garbage-time touchdown or catching a few escape passes from the not-so-Brady-Quinn-esque Ken Dorsey as he ran for his life. I mean, the Eagles do have a little problem covering tight ends. It’s possible.

Sadly, not only did Westbrook do a whole lot of nothing in this one because Andy Reid obviously reads things I say about him, but Heiden was carted off the field with an injury after catching zero passes for zero yards. As the cart went off the field, so did my season in my primary fantasy league (the one with the biggest trophy).

Losing when you are so close to the prize just leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. As a guy, it’s sort of like hearing that some famous female celebrity is becoming one of those every-man’s-fantasy lesbians and then discovering that her hot hookup partner is this thing.

Now, that’s just disappointing.

But alas, it’s no shocker that the prohibitive favorite loses out in the playoffs. There’s always an Antonio Bryant, a Tarvaris Jackson or a Dominic Rhodes waiting in the wings to blow up the top seeds in the playoffs.

Just look at what the Giants did in the playoffs last season. If you knew who was going to win, we wouldn’t play them.

That’s actually why the NFL is considering canceling the rest of the Detroit Lions’ games. We all know how they are going to go.

Even though Peyton Manning was less than explosive against the Lions on Sunday, Dallas Clark had a huge game for his fantasy owners with 142 yards and a score. It looks like he’s ramping up for fantasy owners in the playoffs.

I guess he really is that awesome…

The one bright spot of this weekend was the Cowboys-Giants game, the drama unfolding on the big Sunday Night Football stage. Just like Plaxico Burress, it seems the Giants are shooting themselves in the leg this season when it matters most, and, as a true Cowboys fan, I was happy to see that the Cowboys showed up to play.

After a week of intense “what did Terrell Owens say now” stories plastered all over ESPN, the Dallas Cowboys were supposed to flop. That didn’t happen and now their hot story of the week seems to have blown up in their hands.

I’m really no T.O. lover. I’m sort of indifferent to him until the press about a guy gets to a roaring buzz — so basically, the same way I feel about Brett Favre.

I think blaming him for any Cowboys loss, regardless of how politically correct his postgame interviews are, is getting old. Especially after the press tour he seems to have gone on to clear his name, it’s hard not to take his side.

Ed Werder doesn’t seem like the kind of journalist who would fabricate a story, but I wonder why he didn’t try to get a quote from T.O. about the words that were being put into the wide receiver’s mouth by an anonymous source before going public with the story.

When he does say something about his teammates or quarterback, T.O.’s never been one to cover it up.

At least the drama is coming to a close for now, and I think that T.O. and Ed Werder will make up.

T.O. reportedly sent Werder a famous Japanese foot massager as a peace offering.

On quarterbacks
Who would have thought that the leading scorers at quarterback in Week 15 would be Matt Cassel, Tarvaris Jackson, David Garrard and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

That, my friends, is magical.

On “Freedom” running backs
Pierre Thomas is legit. Looks like the Saints will be chunking the Deuce this offseason for their hot, new French toy.

Thomas had his way with the Bears defense on Thursday night while the Bears’ running backs struggled to do anything against the Saints. I fear what he can do this week against the Lions.

His only competition is Reggie Bush, who can’t stay on the field for an entire NFL season due to badunkadunk. Besides, Bush’s only a pretend running back anyway.

Since that’s about all I have to say about the French, here’s a message from the “That’s a country?” video collection.

And yes, France is a country.

If you currently own Pierre Thomas, you might be smarter than a fifth grader.

On finding meaning this holiday season
James Jones going off against the Jaguars might be a sign — not for this week or next week but for next season as Donald Driver heads closer and closer to Marvin Harrison-ism.

On the other hand, Dennis Northcutt’s big game means nothing. It’s one of those warmest-body-on-the-field games.

Do you know who Johnnie Lee Higgins is? Big arm + playmaking wide receiver = potential. Keep an eye on a kid like this one in Oakland this offseason. Two big games this year leave the door open for a brighter tomorrow.

Maybe Al Davis will sell the team or give up overhead projector firings. You never know.

On Pro Bowl “picks”
First of all, the Pro Bowl rosters would make for one hell of a fantasy team. I salivated just reading the names of the backups, but Brett Favre? The pick master is one of the league’s best?

As much as I dislike him, where’s the Philip Rivers love? Even the Pro Bowl needs a crier.

Foolish Thoughts on Week 14: Game balls and last-quarter falls

I’m convinced that there is something in the water in Denver. If you’re in Colorado, don’t drink it. Just dump it down the drain and walk away. It must contain a chemical that turns your muscles into paper. How else would Shanahan lose four running backs in the same season — five if you count Selvin Young’s never-quite-good-enough-to-play hamstring?

Maybe it’s a higher power trying to teach Shanahan  to choose, and every time he thinks of screwing fantasy owners, the gods smite one down.

I don’t think Tatum Bell’s juju is strong enough to will him back into a starting role, but he’s the new running back of the week for Denver now that Peyton Hillis is out for the season with a torn hamstring. I only hope he helps Peyton Hillis get his bags since he was nice enough to do it for Rudi Johnson.

With Hillis out, the entire backfield of incoming rookies from Arkansas has come down with an injury during the course of this season. Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis were taken out for the season by hamstring tears while Darren McFadden suffered from turf toe in both feet for most of the season.

Maybe we should sniff out the water in Arkansas as well.

Of course, this injury curse means that Mike Shanahan will carry 10 running backs on his roster next season, forever making it impossible to predict which running back will tote the rock the most for the Broncos. Thanks, Fate. It wasn’t hard enough already.

For next season, I’ll just roll a dice each week to figure out which Denver running back to recommend as a start.

The Cowboys-Steelers game was painful to watch — not only because I projected the Cowboys to win but because it looked like only the defenses would be getting fantasy points out of that game. You got lucky if you played Tony Romo or Big Ben Roethlisberger and won this week.

Romo may have lost the game with that fourth quarter pick, but I don’t put all the blame on him. He played poorly, but the team caved as a whole at the end of that game.

I’m more concerned with Romo’s noticeable inability to hit his targets on several key plays. Whether it was the cold weather or having his splint off for the first time, Romo didn’t look like the same guy that put up 300-yard games with his splint on these past two weeks.

Can you trust Romo for your fantasy team? Well, if you made it through the first week of playoffs or made it into the playoffs with his horrible Week 14 point total, sure. Just don’t expect him to be the stud that wins your games these next few weeks.

You may find better options on your waiver wire — *cough* Shaun Hill *cough* — but there’s no reason to sit him unless you have a gem of a matchup since he has the potential to blow up for 300+ yards against anyone.

The Giants are the best team in football. They’re balanced. Their pass rush can get to anyone. They are packed full of talent. They will not be distracted by Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the hamstring.

Unfortunately, they will be distracted by a Westbrook. The Eagles managed to rebound from their slump by beating two of the best teams in the NFL, the Cardinals and Giants, in dominating performances in the last two weeks.

Both games were won on the back of Brian Westbrook because you have to get creative to stop him. That’s why he can be such a huge asset, when healthy, for any fantasy football team. When he’s good, he’s matchup proof.

The oft-injured Eagles running back is heating up right at the perfect time for fantasy owners and has a delicious matchup against the finished Browns, who are once again waiting until next year. Sorry, Ken Dorsey, I don’t believe in you.

On Sunday, the Eagles proved that a stout defense and the ability to negate the pass rush with a guy like Brian Westbrook can expose the Giants.

On Northern Exposure
Speaking of exposing giants, how about Visanthe Shiancoe? He has the balls — literally — to come out to see the lovely game ball presentation for Brad Childress’ son, bound for the Marine Corps, in a tiny little towel?

Congratulations, Janet Jackson, you are now off the hook for your televised nudity. It’s situations like these that make me wonder about the potential of the NFL in 3-D.

I’d post the video of the action here, but you don’t really want to see that. No, really, you don’t.

On hot or not
Instead, let’s tackle a very important issue that seems to have come across my radar. Is Britney Spears hot again?

I mean, I know she’s got the new album and the new body and all that, but isn’t any hotness she now regains negated by the crazy we have seen in the past?

It’s a lot like Antonio Bryant. No matter how many flashy games he has had this season, you still want to doubt him because, well, he’s Antonio Bryant. He’s got a little bit of crazy coach clash waiting in the wings and a little bit of suckage that always returns.

Does that make Jeff Garcia the equivalent of Kevin Federline? Garcia did sort of come out nowhere, the CFL, and every time you think he’s down and out, he comes storming back into relevance — or the press in Federline’s case.

I’ll have to ponder that one a bit more. In the meantime, check out Britney Spears’ new look for yourself. Hot or not, my foolish friends? Hot or not?

On the weather in Matt Jones’ nose
Sadly, the snowy-nosed Matt Jones finally got reevaluated by Santa — err, I mean Roger Goodell — for the naughty or nice list and finally serves his suspension starting this week just because YOU might be needing him for your fantasy playoffs.

Now, I don’t follow every intricate detail of the suspension and appeal process. I just try to avoid any players messed up in the system in any way, but how exactly did Matt Jones hold off this long?

Did the league wait to suspend him until the final three games of the season on purpose? Did he request he be able to finish out the one good season he’s ever had? It seems a little fishy to me.

On the Packers’ Super Bowl chances
The Green Bay Packers should not make the playoffs for this fan’s dancing and this fan’s dancing alone. The baby jersey doesn’t help either.

Foolish Thoughts on Week 13: Tell me when it’s over

What was happened to the NFL this weekend? After the miserable Tennessee Titans clobbering of the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys butchering of the Seattle Seahawks, I thought at leas the Thursday Night Football matchup of the Philadelphia Eagles and the Arizona Cardinals might be mildly interesting.

Of course, I thought it would be mildly interesting because the Eagles would struggle along and try to put up a fight against the Cardinal’s powerful offense. I didn’t know that Brian Westbrook was going to blow up for four touchdowns and lead the Eagles to a stomping of the NFC West sensation. Taste the burn, Arizona. You are what we thought you were.

In reality, that game was all about Donovan McNabb. He made his statement, and all he really wanted was for Brian Westbrook to hold him.

That pretty much sealed the deal for a boring weekend. The most we could have hoped for was a decent game with Atlanta facing the Chargers and the Packers facing the Panthers. Eh, not so much.

DeAngelo Williams should be buying Steve Smith’s lunch all week for setting him up on those two easy scores. Would it have been so hard to get another yard or two, Steve? Really?

As for the Falcons-Chargers, well, if the Falcons were a more mature team, the score would never have been as close as it was. Rookie mistakes left the door open, and sadly, the Chargers are no longer a team that can capitalize on every mistake.

The fireman down below are inflating the big bouncy pad for Rivers inevitable fall from fantasy grace. It’s too bad they couldn’t get there before LaDainian Tomlinson took his fateful dive. Rivers was my pick to fall off in the second half of the season, so even though it took a while for it to happen, I can’t say I’m surprised to see Phil lose that fantasy glow he had around him. I just can’t trust a man that still trash talks like a seven-year-old child.

I toyed with myself the Vikings-Bears game could be another unforeseen shootout. Wouldn’t that just save the day on Sunday? Forte versus Peterson?

Instead, it looked more like Bernard Berrian versus Devin Hester. These long plays through the air for the Bears and the Vikings are just out of character. It’s good to see that the Vikings can score points since they might not have such a stout defense for the remainder of the regular season.

I guess there was one interesting game. Shanny’s Broncos took out the Jets and quieted the resurgence of the Brett Favre hype.

How terrible is your defense when they just start assuming players are down without hearing the whistle blow? You have to actually tackle the guy, Broncos, not just assume that the other guy’s got ‘em. Terrible.

That was just a sloppy game overall, and not all of it was because of the weather. Both the Broncos and the Jets were giving up big plays — Broncos on the ground, Jets through the air. Suddenly, I don’t think I care who the better team is between the Jets and the Patriots.

Monday Night Football, save me. Wait, Houston Texans versus Jacksonville Jaguars? Oh noes.

Coolest play of the game: Garrard passing to himself. He might actually be the best receiver on the team — those quick hands. Just awesome.

So, now that the Jags are done for the season, please sub them in for one of the Lions’ last three opponents so that the Lions won’t go 0-16 and/or so we can watch (or not watch) the most miserable game of football in the history of the sport.

It would really take away from the game if the Lions DO finally hit the 0-16 mark. If they achieve it, then we won’t be able to hold it over their heads next season … or the season after. And how will we stop the Cincinnati Bengals from doing it if it’s been done?

The Jags were nice enough to give the Bengals a win, so why can’t they do it for the Lions, too? Come on, Goodell. Make it happen — just this once. Afterwards, you can go back to testing urine for traces of water pills.

I’m so glad this weekend is over. I would have rather watched this on loop for a day. I don’t understand what’s going on in there, and I can’t decide which is better: stache or no stache? All I know is that I cannot look away.

Is it Week 14 yet?

On gun control laws
The one thing that I cannot get over from this weekend is how stupid Plaxico Burress was to strap a loaded, unlicensed gun to his thigh. Didn’t you see what happened to Adam Jones? And that gun wasn’t even in his hands.

The gun goes with the entourage, not taped to your thigh, Plax. You have to have security or a good jail-comfortable friend to take that kind of a fall for you. It’s bad policy to pack one yourself, and you pay the price every time you start grinding in some club. Your history of catching is not going to go over well for you in jail.

Plaxico is probably on his way out of New York after this season, but that’s no big deal. I like Domenik Hixon, and the Giants have a nice group of young wide receivers to bring into the mix. I hope Plax ends up on the Raiders.

On fashion
Jack Del Rio may be classy, but I think he needs a “Battle Red” power tie if he’s going to get the Jags back in shape. Exhibit A. Now that’s classy AND scary powerful.

On failing to make your fantasy football playoffs
If you didn’t make the playoffs, you don’t have to stop reading Fantasy Football Fools. We’ll let you stick around. In fact, we encourage it.

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On tardiness and schedule deviations
If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been doing many and several things the last two weeks. Now that Fantasy Football Fools headquarters — not dissimilar to The Batcave — has been moved to its new home and all other matters of family and health seem to be taken care of — not in the horse heads in beds way … promise — our schedule should be back in line for the rest of playoffs. Stay tuned.

On incredibly well-planned finishes
I think we’re good here. Same time next week?