And now, a funeral for Larry Johnson’s season

LJ profile

R.I.P. LJ’s 2007 Fantasy Season

He came in with such high hopes this season–heralded as one of the top RBs in fantasy and setting a franchise record with his latest contract with the Chiefs.

And then, he went and performed like a back up for the first four games of the season. I’ll hold that against him considering he was killing one of my fantasy teams by stinkin’ up the joint. Luckily, he came back to form in week 4 and exploded weeks 6 through week 9, when the Packers forced him to leave the game with an official undisclosed injury.

A now an moment of silence for LJ…

That’s all that has been coming out the Kansas City camp since his injury, but now, we finally get confirmation that he has a Lisfranc fracture similar to what Kevin Jones suffered from last season. Since they are being so quiet, and LJ vows to return, they may feel that his injury is not going to be that major, but considering that he sits this week against Oakland, the only good match up he has left is week 14 in Denver. After that game, he faces Tennessee for week 15–not helping you much in the playoffs–and then Detroit for most championships in week 16.

It seems unlikely that he will make it back by then–or even make it back in time to not share carries with Kolby Smith on his return, so for fantasy purposes, his season is probably done. Move on, nothing to see here. Just a undisclosed injury trying to keep your fantasy hopes alive. Give up the roster spot and pick up someone with a brighter future ahead unless you are in some kind of crazy keeper league. LJ might play again this year, but probably not best to hold out for it to be your team unless you are stacked at RB.

Prepping your defense for the fantasy playoffs

I am featuring The 5 Minute Drill once again this week just in case you missed last week’s posting and because they have some good advice for defenses down the stretch and in the playoffs.

Pick up Tampa Bay or Arizona if you defense is putting up something close to Bengals numbers–and punch yourself in the face for not doing it sooner.

[Note: Week 12 episode of "The 5 Minute Drill" removed due to ONnetworks going offline. You can view the podcasts on iTunes or find out more about them at the Footballguys.com link above.]

Week 12 Pick Ups: Still a few turkeys out there

I know it’s a holiday, but it’s also the best time to get a jump on the other teams by grabbing the best players off the waiver wire. If you don’t have any injuries–you must have signed that contract with Satan, but regardless, there is fresh blood and starters running around the NFL.

Here are the people worth taking.

Kolby Smith, RB Kansas City Chiefs
With no LJ and no Priest, Smith will have to carry this team for them to have a prayer.

Heath Evans and Kyle Eckel, RB New England Patriots
The Patriot running backs rotate weekly. With Maroney and Faulk going down with injuries last week, we could see the hand-offs going to Evans or Eckel this week. Keep an eye on the injury rep–wait, it’s the Patriots. Just guess…or play Eckel if you have to pick one to take a chance since he gets most of the garbage carries for TDs. General rule of thumb is not to trust Patriot RBs.

Matt Schaub, QB Houston Texans
If no one has him, you should. Schaub has a hot playoff schedule and his best receiving option–Andre Johnson–back to save his season.

Chris Brown, RB Tennessee Titans
Chris Henry has withdrawn his appeal to serve out a four-game suspension, so Brown will get the majority of the carries outside of LenDale White (which is a pretty small area) this season. He might not be the best play with more teams attacking the Titans run game, but if you need a RB, he might still be out there on the wire.

Ted Ginn, Jr., WR Miami Dolphins
New QB John Beck seems to like throwing to Ginn. If Ginn continues to perform, he might be worth snagging for a late playoff support. Watch how he does this week against a rough Pittsburgh team.

Ronald Curry, Oakland Raiders
Best game of the season in week 11. He could get better…or worse. Watch the QB situation and see if his trend continues upwards.

Ricky Williams, RB Miami Dolphins
Ricky, Ricky, Ricky. He’s back from “on high” but Cameron is being tight-lipped about what role he will play. He is worth snagging if you have a roster spot and may split carries with Jesse Chatman against the Steelers. You have to think the Dolphins will at least want to show other teams what he can do so that they can deal him at the end of this season, but don’t expect him to be able to do much more than Chatman can with these Dolphins.

Vinny Testaverde, QB Carolina Panthers
This old guy just doesn’t quit. He won the starting job again this week from Carr–not hard–and has a nice match up against the Saints who just let Houston play shooting range on their secondary.

Andre Hall, RB Denver Broncos
It’s Shanny, he has been a fantasy column darling a few times already this year, he scored a long TD on Monday and Selvin Young might still be banged up. There’s your reasoning.

Maybe avoid these…

Rex Grossman, QB Chicago Bears
Grossman is still the starter. If you have ever won the lottery, take your chance with him, but remember he could always resort back to the bad decision maker he is deep inside–it’s his inner child. He plays the Denver Broncos, and they have some pretty good corners.

Reuben Droughns/Derrick Ward, RB New York Giants
Whoever fills in for Brandon Jacobs will at least be a starting RB, but they play the Vikings. Find a better sub if you got one.

Michael Pittman, RB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
He exists somewhere behind Graham. Carries should increase, and you could bank on Graham getting injured if you are desperate. There are probably better options.

LJ Smith, TE Philadelphia Eagles
He’s back and performing like his un-injured self, but his QB Donovan McNabb may be out for quite awhile. LJ might not be feelin’ Feeley and the potential for QB controversy to end the season with Kolb waiting in Eagles’ wings.

Joey Harrington, QB Atlanta Falcons
Yeah, he’s starting. So what? He’s JOEY HARRINGTON. He might lead them to a win, or he might blow it all away.

Have a great turkey day everybody! Enjoy watching Romo, Favre and Manning put on a gunslinger show while gorging yourself. Don’t worry about getting fat, fantasy football prowess will soon become a factor in good looks.

Week 12 Injury Report: Give thanks for back ups

football turkey

Someone just told me that you can buy a turkey at the store these days. Who knew? I just spent the last week in a ditch waiting for a gobbler to get caught in my cage full of blown up surgical gloves–finally got one.

Bet you thought I wasn’t going to get you your fantasy update before turkey day…but you were wrong.

It seems no running back will make it to the playoffs unscathed this year. Almost every single one in the league has sat at least one game or had an injury scare. This week, you may be able to snag a back up before your league handcuffs their players, and these backups could save your season.

Give thanks if you don’t own a player on this huge list.

Vince Young, QB Tennessee Titans
Reggie Bush, RB New Orleans Saints

Don’t worry about these two top NFL draft picks. Young will play through his injury even if it still nags him, and Bush is set to play according to the latest news out of New Orleans.

Santana Moss, WR Washington Redskins
Antwaan Randle El, WR Washington Redskins

The Redskins receivers are taking a beating this year, but Moss and Randle El are reportedly still going to start this week. Moss is coming off a big game as the go to receiver, so even though the lightning rod single-game explosion of James Thrash will be missing for another six years or so week 12 the Redskins could have another hot receiving day against Tampa Bay.

Priest Holmes, RB Kansas City Chiefs
Larry Johnson, RB Kansas City Chiefs

LJ is being secretive about his injury, but it seems like he is planning on making it back in time to help you out in the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, while he sits again this week, Priest Holmes will also be abandoning them by retiring today. Rookie Kolby Smith will be taking over for this offense and might be worth starting this week against Oakland–the most holy defensive line in the NFL lately.

Javon Walker, WR Denver Broncos

Walker might be back this week since he is practicing. I say *might* because the star WR has been out eight games now. If he is available in your league, for God’s sake man, pick him up. Walker was a beast near the end of the season last year and could return to make Jay Cutler look very good here at the end of the fantasy season.

The still hurt:

Shaun Alexander, RB Seattle Seahawks

The money man will sit again this week and let Maurice Morris make people think paying high-dollar for a RB is always a bad decision. According to Bill Parcels, the position has a four year life span and is not worth signing anyone at high expense. Maybe Alexander just has a second year’s worth of the Madden curse.

Adrian Peterson, RB Minnesota Vikings

You can pray to the purple Jesus of fantasy football, but you won’t see him back this week.

As a side note, Chester Taylor‘s lead blocker Tony Richardson sprained his MCL. Taylor might be missing Richardson’s large, comforting presence blocking Giants tacklers in front of him this week. He has not been named as out for the game this week yet, but Richardson’s status might be worth watching.

Ahman Green, RB Houston Texans

Ahman has one banged up knee that won’t go away, but the Texans want to keep him around. Surely, there are probably better backs available in most leagues, but if not, you can keep holding out for Green–pick up Ron Dayne in the meantime if no one else has him as they play the Browns this week.

Laveranues Coles, WR New York Jets

Coles will probably sit this week against the Cowboys secondary on Thanksgiving because of his sprained ankle. Coles has had a rough season but might still be worth holding onto if you don’t have a mammoth core of receivers. Justin McCareins will likely start in his place with Jerricho Cotchery moving to the number one receiver spot for Kellen Clemens big arm.

Santonio Holmes, WR Pittsburgh Steelers

Holmes is likely to miss the game this week and sit on the sidelines with Troy Palamalu–bad news for Holmes owners but good news for Miami receivers. Wait, does Miami have receivers? or an offense? Scratch that.

Nate Washington will start in Holmes place.

Patrick Crayton, WR Dallas Cowboys

Crayton didn’t want to miss out on the injury party, so he injured his ankle in practice. If he does not play on Thanksgiving, Sam Hurd will get the nod. Hurd is a fast, breaking WR like Terrell Owens, but against the Jets, expect most of the throws to go T.O. and Jason Witten‘s way. Hurd is probably not a good play this week.

Marshawn Lynch, RB Buffalo Bills

The second best rookie RB might still sit this week but wouldn’t be a very good fantasy pick this week anyway against the Jaguars. Anthony Thomas should be starting again–and probably pretty poorly this week.

Ryan Grant, RB Green Bay Packers

Grant hurt his ankle and might not recover in time to play on Thanksgiving. If you have another option, you might not play him or sit your laptop atop the turkey to update your roster before game time. The family won’t mind, just don’t block the turkey legs. Who knows which GB RB will see more time if he is out–Morency or Jackson?

Aaron Moorehead, WR Indianapolis Colts
Marvin Harrison, WR Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are dropping like flies again. Moorehead is out for the season with a back injury, so Anthony Gonzalez should return as the starter with Reggie Wayne. Harrison is still mysteriously not returning–maybe saving him for retirement playoffs?

Brandon Jacobs, RB New York Giants

Jacobs is out as the big bruiser for this week. Reuben Droughns and/or Derrick Ward will make up for his huge absence. Watch the injury reports to see if Ward will make it back in time for the game. Keep in mind that they play the Vikings run defense this week.

Donovan McNabb, QB Philadelphia Eagles

McNabb is banged up this week, but he is not a good play against the Patriots anyway. A.J. Feeley would probably fill in if every other team in your league has a bench full of QBs.

Lesson of the week: make sure you back up your studs.

ONnetworks’ The 5 Minute Drill for your weekly run down of fantasy info

I realize that Fantasy Football Fools may not be the greatest visual masterpiece in the fantasy football space. We may be informative, but a lot of text isn’t pretty ALL the time.

I offer you something better to stare at as you try to hold back the tears of this week’s fantasy loss: The 5 Minute Drill.

Cecil Lammey and Sigmund Bloom‘s video podcast gives you analysis and long-term predictions outside of their usual gig at Footballguys.com where they charge to give you the insider edge. I can’t even count up the number of unique predictions they made early in this fantasy season that have now come to fruition. I’m also completely envious of Cecil’s hair–you know, in case I ever get mugged.

Unfortunately, they only produce one podcast per week, but check them out as a compliment to our obsessive 24/7 offerings.

Note: Links changed to Footballguys.com and embedded video removed since ONnetworks’ site shut down.

Defensive Measures: Defenses Ranked

If you are trying to decide your match ups, it is always a good idea to consider the strength of the defense you are facing–especially in your stud’s category.

Check out the rankings and stats of defenses from around the league. It will tell you one thing straight up: Don’t play your studs against the Steelers if you have another legit option.

The Top 5 Rushing defenses going into week 11 are:

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Baltimore Ravens
  3. Minnesota Vikings (unless you’re Ryan Grant)
  4. Tennessee Titans
  5. Dallas Cowboys

While the Top 5 Passing defenses going into week 11 are:

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Indianapolis Colts
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  4. Oakland Raiders
  5. Miami Dolphins

I guess Miami had to be in the Top 5 of something besides Top 5 worst teams of all-time in the NFL.

If you are trying to decide between two skills players this week or in the coming weeks, this chart may be helpful in deciding who has the better match up for their position. Keep in mind though that some of the rankings can be a result of teams not having to run/pass against a weak defense in the opposite category. For example, no one really needs to pass much against the Raiders of the Dolphins when their running defenses 29th and 30th respectively out of 32 team.

Week 11 Injury Report: A Bad Week for Running Backs

Not only has this year been a year for the quarterback, but this entire season has been week looks to be a horrible week to be a running back. Most of the starters around the league are banged up in some way.

Just take a look at the hit list sitting this week:

  • Larry Johnson – Kansas City Chiefs
    foot injury that could be worse
  • Marshawn Lynch – Buffalo Bills
    knee injury keeping him out this week at the very least
  • Shaun Alexander – Seattle Seahawks
    lucky to have an injury to blame on his weak performances lately

Unfortunately for our fantasy teams, these three represent some of the few running backs not splitting carries this year in the NFL, a trend that is hurting many a team. The NFL is trying to kill fantasy football, I swear.

If you are unfortunate enough to have any of these three players, look at Maurice Morris from Seattle subbing in for Shaun or Priest Holmes–if you have no better options. Holmes may show better skills his second game as a starter after being much less of the guy he used to be last week.

I am lucky enough to have both Marshawn and LJ on my bench this week in a league of 14, so I will be playing whichever Chris backs up LenDale White this week for the Titans and a well-adjusted starting Jesse Chatman. Wish me the best–or don’t you selfish idiot.

Along with these engines of the running game, notable stars sitting this week are Todd Heap for Baltimore, Alex Smith for San Francisco, Marvin Harrison and Anthony Gonzalez of the Colts, although Peyton Manning will have Dallas Clark back this week.

Andre Johnson will be making his return for the Texans this week, and Santana Moss could be worth a roster spot if he becomes a part of the renewed Redskins passing game this week against Dallas.

Word from on high: Ricky returns, but will Miami want him?

You may have been one of those sneaky folks that, knowing Ricky Williams was bound to get reinstated this year, stashed him away in your injured reserve (if you league is lucky enough to have such an option) or kept your eye on him in the free agent pool.

Unfortunately for you, Ronnie Brown broke out to a huge first half of the season, and he made it look like Ricky had missed his chance. When Brown went down, the speculation again came up that Ricky would have an impact since his application for reinstatement was coming up for review in just a few weeks.

Enter Jesse Chatman.

Chatman, although few thought he had it in him, has put up big enough yards these last two games to be considered a solid running back as well.  Some of it may just be the good play of the Miami offensive line, but Chatman still has made a good enough impression to make it hard for Ricky to jump into a starting role. Unless Ricky Williams can become his former self–as in 2002 and 2003 pre-drug test failing Ricky–then he is of little use to Miami this season. They are looking ahead, and Ricky is definitely far behind.

Coach Cam Cameron hasn’t seemed publicly excited about Ricky’s return, but Ricky’s agent seems to think that he will take a good, hard look at Ricky in practice next week from his words with the coach. He would be smart not to put too much faith in the returning back.

Unless Cameron is willing to take a big risk mid-season–which he might with his current record–he will probably look to deal Ricky away or release him completely.  He has talent, but previous comebacks have shown that he lacks discipline.  I find it hard to believe that he will ever find a new home in the NFL, but if you have been hanging onto him this long, it might be worth your while to keep an eye on where he goes.  Otherwise, you just look like a sucker.

Teams changing game plans to end the season

Several teams have faced injuries and complete breakdowns thus far this season. Who is beefing up for a strong finish and who should you avoid?I got your answers…bet you thought I was going to leave you hanging on that one.

Green Bay went from being unexpectedly good at throwing the ball to developing a running game–with just one RB too. Now that they have Ryan Grant, they might even pose a threat to the Cowboys in the NFC. A Super Bowl for the NFC like the Colts-Patriots was for the AFC could happen in week 13 when the Packers face the Cowboys on Thursday night. I am sure they are going to lose–Go Cowboys!–but regardless of who wins out, if you can grab any starter off Green Bay, go after them. They will keep throwing the ball even with a good RB. You might even have lucky weeks with some of Favre’s other third and fourth receivers James Jones and Ruvell Martin. Jones is the better pick of the two, but Ruvell had his day last week and could see more action from the veteran arm of the Favre man meat–I just like that word.

The Colts need to switch their locker room out for an intensive care unit. While they may still be able to keep ahead of opponents, the D takes a major blow with Dwight Freeney being put on injured reserve and out for the season. Last year, losing Bob Sanders made them stop tackling, but losing Freeney hurts their pass rushing AND run stopping. Indianapolis is in a rough patch of their schedule right now with injuries plaguing both sides of the ball. Peyton Manning can probably carry them through it, but a little kicker named Vinny needs to get his leg problems straightened out so that they don’t have another letdown like the very end of the Chargers game this week. Fantasy-wise, if you are using the Colts D, you might looks elsewhere to support the rest of your playoff run. Also, there are some subs to be had with WR Aaron Moorehead and TE Bryan Fletcher until Manning’s starting boys return.

Re-working the offense…

Minnesota and Tennessee could be changing their current playing style in week 11. The Titans have focused on a strong running game and given Vince Young plenty of time to sit and do nothing fantasy-wise, but with teams starting to cut off their running attack, two banged up starting RBs (LenDale White and Chris Brown) with one rookie RB (Chris Henry) facing suspension soon, the Titans might have to put it all on Young’s shoulders. He hasn’t shown much this season, but he could break out and put off concerns of the “Madden curse” killing his sophomore season.

In the Vikings’ case, with the loss of rookie sensation Adrian Peterson, they really have to have an air attack to get Chester Taylor out of the box. Kyle Boller is coming in at QB because Steve McNair hurt his pride shoulder in the loss last week. Boller has an arm to open it up for Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason to make plays.

Now take your hand off the silly pick up button for one second, crazy fool. Unless you have an extra spot to give for Vince Young or Brandon Jones (and they’re available), or you just love Mark Clayton after his week 10 performance, WAIT and see how these players do this week and how the game plan changes. I know how much you love instant gratification, but patience makes the heart grow fonder, or some crap. They could start firing off a few touchdowns, or they could lay a stink on you. The Titans face the good corners of Denver, but Boller has a decent chance against the Browns secondary.

Only go after them in desperation–like that ugly one you keep calling.

Week 11 Risk Takers: Players to watch

In addition to the regular waiver wire advice, I’d like to add to it a couple of players that I have read about who I don’t trust at the moment, but they could prove to be valuable assets to your team if you want to sit on them a week to see how they do or–if you are ballsy enough–use them this week.

Leonard Pope, TE Arizona Cardinals

The big boy had 2 TDs against Detroit last week after putting up only 2 TDs in nine games.  If Warner starts to use him like he did in the Detroit game more regularly, he could be a consistent starting TE.  Otherwise, lightning strikes every now and then.    Arizona plays the Bengals this week.  Considering the defense those Cincinnati boys don’t play, he could be worth grabbing and starting this week.  Fine, I said it.

Mark Clayton, WR Baltimore Ravens

Clayton had a big game this week, but don’t forget that Baltimore won’t stop sending McNair out there on the field.  McNair ignores this guy–and even Boller hasn’t given him much attention–but if he starts to break out this season, this week would be the week against Cleveland.  The rest of his schedule, besides a match up with Miami in week 15, doesn’t look to be very favorable.  He sees the Chargers, Patriots and Colts in weeks 12 to 14.  Only grab him if you are desperate for a WR or you have faith your team will get you to that nice week 15 match up against Miami.

Kyle Boller, QB Baltimore Ravens

That said, Kyle Boller is getting the nod this week.  If you are desperate for a QB in a big league, keep an eye on him and see whether he is going to lead a late season movement in the Ravens of moving the ball through the air.  He has a pretty nice arm.

Rudi Johnson, RB Cincinnati Bengals

If anyone in your league has forgotten what Rudi was like last year and dropped him, make them pay.  Grab him if you can afford to take a chance, and keep your eye on how he heals up.  His hamstring is reportedly getting better.

If you think we are missing anyone, shout ‘em out.  Then, shouting like an idiot and type them in the comments.  Seriously.