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.

Week 11 Pickups: Keep your eye on QB swaps, injuries

nazi wire

I’ll make this week brief because, frankly, there aren’t too many players worth grabbing in leagues that aren’t probably already grabbed.  Here are a few notes gathered from suggestions around the Web.  If they are available, go after them, but don’t be too hopeful that they will be there in the free agent pool.

Kellen Clemens, QB New York Jets

I have talked about him before, but if he is still available, grab him now.  He is coming off a bye week of practice as the starting QB and should have a nice core of healthy receivers to throw to in Week 11.

JaMarcus Russell, QB Oakland Raiders
John Beck, QB Miami Dolphins

I’ll lump these two together because they are purely speculative.  If you are mopping it up in a dynasty league, you should definitely have one of these two on your roster as a QB of the future.  If you are hurting so bad at QB that you don’t have tears anymore, use a roster spot for Russell he could–emphasis on “could”–have a big impact with the Raiders when they finally decide to stop bruising McCown week after week.

Chester Taylor, RB Minnesota Vikings

With “All Day” AP finally making those preseason injury predictions a reality, Taylor could finally see some productive games and get some TDs, but Minnesota still has no QB to prevent defenses from piling up at him.

Justin Fargas, RB Oakland Raiders

Apparently, two talented RBs are not good enough for the Raiders.  Dominic Rhodes has barely seen the field since his arrival, and LaMont Jordan is out.  Fargas has been doing it all and could be a decent second RB to finish the season.

Ryan Grant, RB Green Bay Packers

I bet you feel like a genius if you picked up Ryan Grant.  Pat yourself on the back, and then smack yourself in the head.  He will be a productive back, but you aren’t that smart.  Just lucky.  No one say Grant breaking the Minnesota defense the way he did on Sunday, but if you keep the defense of the field, they are bound to give in eventually.  Grant should see some decent fantasy value late in the season as the Packers finally start a running game and keep defenses reeling with Favre’s remarkable arm.

LJ Smith, TE Philadelphia Eagles

LJ missed a lot of time with injury but had his first big game this week.  If you are hurting at TE, he is worth grabbing to secure you some supportive TE points to end the season.  Don’t give up an average back for him because he could still be inconsistent or get hurt again, but drop any TE not producing for you.

Chris Henry, WR Cincinnati Bengals

Apparently, Palmer remembers who Chris Henry is.  If you picked him up last week–or earlier–you deserve a cookie.

Week 10 Injury Watch: Injuries that might provide some hot waiver wire picks this week

The games aren’t even over, but already, there have been several injuries that could go on to help your team. On the injury side…

Brian Griese, QB Chicago Bears

Brian Griese was knocked out for the Bears this week, so Rex Grossman may or may not be returning top his fluctuating position as one of the most inconsistent and sometimes just plain bad starting QBs in the league.

Adrian Peterson, RB Minnesota Vikings

Two running backs had season-changing events in the Packers/Vikings game. Adrian Peterson–the star (only existent member) of the Vikings offense–went down with an injury to his knee. Watch the injury reports but now might not be a bad time to make sure Chester Taylor isn’t available on you wire if you are in need of a solid running back. Don’t expect fantastic “All Day” AP numbers from Taylor, but if you remember the guy, he was good for a few fantasy points years back.

LenDale White, RB Tennessee Titans

LenDale White took a hit that left him carry-less the rest of the game this Sunday against Jacksonville. Since he didn’t return, the injury may keep him out a few weeks–in which case, it might be a good idea to look at Chris Henry or Chris Brown. Of the two, Chris Brown probably has the greatest value since Henry will soon be leaving the Titans on a substance abuse suspension for some prescription medication he took (not roids).

Reggie Bush, RB New Orleans Saints

Reggie Bush only had an injury scare, but it is worth mentioning. He made it back without even missing the remainder of a quarter, but the injury was to his already-braced knee. If Bush was to miss practice time this week or need more attention to this knee because of the twisting today, keep your eye on the rest of the Saints running back core like Pierre Thomas or Aaron Stecker. Thomas has not been as major a part of the offense as some predicted when Deuce McAllister was knocked out for the season but would still have a shot without Bush.

Damon Huard, QB Kansas City Chiefs

Damon Huard had to leave the game, and, as is the trend in the NFL these days, Brodie Croyle may have stolen Huard’s starting job by playing reasonably well to finish the game. With a better running game–meaning getting Larry Johnson back from injury since Priest Holmes didn’t have much of a prayer this week–Croyle could be an effective starter for the Chiefs. Brodie Croyle had the hype coming into the season but was unable to take the starting job from Huard that many thought he deserved.

Marvin Harrison, WR Indianapolis Colts

Marvin Harrison will remain out this week for the Colts tonight. His injury must be more serious than first expected and/or the Colts are letting him get as much rest as he needs since they still have this guy named Peyton Manning who can throw to anyone. The receiving core is currently a little light with Anthony Gonzalez also sidelined with an injury to his hand he suffered last week, but Aaron Moorehead should fill in again and be a nice target behind Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark for Manning. (Update: Scratch that. Dallas Clark will be out with a concussion this week.)

Marshawn Lynch, RB Buffalo Bills

As the other rookie running back in the NFL that deserves attention, Marshawn Lynch has been one of the more consistent options in the Buffalo offense.  Late in the game this week, he went out with an ankle injury.  It isn’t being portrayed as serious, but if you are in a league with few other options, Anthony Thomas would be the main man to replace Lynch if he missed time.

On another note, some players DO return from injuries within the same season it seems. Steven Jackson came back last week just to go down again, but it looks like the Jax has come back to the Rams to stay.

Steven Jackson, RB St. Louis Rams

On a happier note, Steven Jackson finally returned to rush a TD and throw one as well. The Rams finally got their first victory. He should be fairly solid through the rest of the season, so hopefully, you stayed in the playoff chase if you help on to him this long.

Optimizing your fantasy team to dominate the playoffs

Making a run for the playoffs? If you have already locked up your place, it’s time to start thinking about who you can acquire to blow up in those crucial three weeks. Don’t go doing anything drastic like dropping your studs or trading away top performers for a slew of average Joes, but if you can pick any of these guys off the waiver wire or find some “equal value” trades without letting on your motive, go for getting guys with good schedules.

The top teams to target are the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans according to the stats and analysis of CBSSports.com. Try getting part of the Browns offensive explosion, Carson Palmer and his receivers, Marshawn Lynch or the JP Losman/Lee Evans connection, Favre and his receivers or Ryan Grant or LenDale White as long as he stays healthy.

See CBS Sportsline for more stats and teams to avoid.

News Briefs: Patriots still at the top, but some teams keeping pace

With the Patriots eliminating the Colts in the “Battle of the Unbeatens” this past Sunday, only a couple of teams remain on the Patriots roster that could stop them from breaking the famous Miami undefeated season.

Apparently, the NFL has decided to take advantage of the hunt to take down the beast. After the Colts showdown had unusually high results for Sunday afternoon football ratings–surprise, surprise considering there are usually a couple of decent games going on at the same time with equal amount of hype–the Patriots game against the Steelers was pushed back to the same time slot rather than being an “early” 1 p.m. game. The time slot perhaps suggests that the NFL, or at least CBS, believe that the Steelers will be the one to take down Brady’s boys. If they play like they did Monday night against the Ravens, they just might.

The only other opponent which threatens the Patriots run at being unscathed all season is their final show against the Giants. As the final game of the regular season, it might not matter enough for the Patriots to fight through a victory, and the Giants bruising pass rushers could threaten the health of Tom Brady and his perpetually questionable shoulder.

With all this talk about the AFC, don’t forget that the NFC still has some powerhouse offenses and great defenses with the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and New York Giants. If one of them–especially the Giants–starts to make a run for the Super Bowl late in the season, they could even match up well against the Patriots now that a hole has been exposed in the New England offense.

On a fantasy note, having players on either of these NFC or AFC will treat you well going into the final few games of the regular season and into the playoffs.

Fantasy Highlight: I’ll also mention briefly here that reports look doubtful for Larry Johnson playing Sunday against Denver’s horrible run defense. Look for Priest Holmes and Kolby Smith to make some definite marks in the contest and pick them up if you need a running back for a week or two.

New Fantasy Football Systems: Flea Flicker and Draftmix

I know it’s mid-season, but you may already be thinking about what system you would like to operate your league on next year.

The best experience I had thus far with a fantasy football system is ESPN.com now that they have made their fantasy system free, but another free option is Flea Flicker.

Flea Flicker doesn’t appear as graphically pretty as ESPN, but it does do several notable things like giving you player rankings based upon custom scoring to tell you how many WRs better than the one on your roster are available or providing graphs and charts of your points broken down by position. One of the cooler features unique to the site is the ability to handle blockbuster trades between multiple teams and even involving future draft picks.

If you are looking for a new system, Flea Flicker might be worth taking a tour.

Draftmix is a week-by-week quick playing fantasy football system. Poker-inspired, the Draftmix system allows you to join a league and draft a team each week. The team with the most points takes the win and receives a cash prize if you are playing in a cash league. If you are a SportsBook.com junkie with a love for fantasy sports, Draftmix has your name all over it.

via TechCrunch

Week 10 Pickups: Returners and New Starters

Several players are worth grabbing after performances this week–or finally be cleared by Johnny Law

Chris Henry, WR Cincinnati Bengals

Chris Henry got 8 touchdowns last year as the third receiver for the Bengals. You might remember him. He comes back Week 10 after serving his suspension from the NFL commissioner. Even though the Bengals have stunk it up as of late, they should start making use of Henry almost immediately. He has already been practicing with the team for a couple of weeks. Look for him on your waiver wire, and especially grab him if Ocho Cinco misses any playing time with his head injury–although I don’t see it swelling any bigger.

Ernest Graham, RB Tampa Bay Buccanneers

If no one in your league has picked up Graham yet, he is worth grabbing now. His performance this week cements his role as the starter, and he has been playing better than a few big names–Shawn Alexander owners should jump all over him if he is available

Adrian Peterson, RB Chicago Bears

He hasn’t had a huge game yet, but this Adrian Peterson might soon be named the starter after Cedric Benson has been disappointing to say the least for the Bears. Grab him now if you are weak at RB and need someone to jump in late this season. He’s worth giving an extra roster spot to if you can afford it.

Priest Holmes, RB Kansas City Chiefs

If LJ misses next week, Holmes will get his first start in years, and he might even be noteworthy to fantasy teams against a Denver defense that is giving up yards to anyone who wants them. Keep an eye on the injury reports to see if LJ will make it back next week.

Kevin Faulk, RB New England Patriots

Faulk was the most productive back against the Colts in the showdown of the unbeatens. While he may not get many carries, he might emerge as a good back if the Patriots continue to use him during garbage time and as a receiver from the backfield. Maroney certainly hasn’t put up big numbers, so Faulk might end up being the most productive back fantasy-wise that the high-powered Patriot offense has to offer.

Maurice Morris, RB Seattle Seahawks

Morris returns this Sunday for Seattle and could have a big impact and even start if Shaun Alexander is plagued by the injury that kept him out of part of the game against Cleveland. Check the injury reports and see what the Seahawks are saying later in the week. Even if Alexander starts, Morris’ fantasy value could increase if Shaun continue to play poorly and needs some help splitting carries.

New Blood at QB: Who to take and who to leave behind if you can

Kellen Clemens, QB New York Jets

Clemens is going to be big once he gets all the receivers back in New York. Clemens arm can carry this team to places Pennington’s might not have been able to reach. Look for him on your wire this week. He is a MUST pickup if you are in need of a quarterback at this stage of the season.

JP Losman, QB Buffalo Bills

Losman came back and, with the help of Lee Evans, has started putting up some decent fantasy stats. He’s not a week-to-week starter, but he is definitely a good one to get on your roster to help you when he has a good matchup against a week secondary. Many teams may have dropped him after he lost his starting job, so now is the time to seize him as he/Evans enter their second half surge to end the season.

Cleo Lemon, QB Miami Dolphins

While not the best fantasy value thus far, Lemon will have his good match ups. If you are completely at a loss at quarterback, think about picking him up. He has been named the starter but might still lose some time to John Beck later in the season. Again, if you are desperate, pick him up but try to find a better option.

Patrick Ramsey, QB Denver Broncos

If Cutler misses time, Ramsey will get the start. He did alright in the second half of the Detroit game after Cutler went down, but he still isn’t going to be the start of any fantasy team. He will only help you for a few weeks, but if you need that kind of help or have Cutler and are desperate for a starter, he’s one guy you can snag.

Stats and notes from Fantasy Football Xtreme, FanballNews.com, and CBS Sports

Week 10 Injury Update: Another Week of Big Names Going Down Hurt

This week’s games left another slew of stars leaving on stretchers, crutches or in the arms of strangers.

Jay Cutler, QB Denver Broncos

Cutler went down after his legs were twisted while being sacked by the big men of Detroit. Early reports indicate that it is only a severe bruise and not any fracture, but Cutler is still unsure to start this week. Patrick Ramsey would start in his place if he was unable to go against the Kansas City Chiefs. Watch this week if you have him to check his status.

Larry Johnson, RB Kansas City Chiefs

I have good ol’ LJ on my own fantasy team, so it hurt to watch him come off the field with what looks to be a high ankle sprain or twisted ankle. LJ left the locker room on crutches and will undergo further testing this week. He couldn’t put weight on the ankle immediately after the game, and the Chiefs seem very concerned about losing their feature back. Priest Holmes would make his comeback to the Chiefs complete starting in LJ’s place if this injury keeps LJ out in Week 10 against Denver’s horrible run defense. Holmes would not be the only back though. Kolby Smith would also share carries and is worth picking up in deeper leagues if you are desperately in need of a running back.

Chad Johnson, WR Cincinnati Bengals

Another Johnson down and out–no worries here. Ocho Cinco was cleared of having any neck injuries and traveled home with his team on the plane. No word on whether it will keep him out next week, but chances are he will be alright to play. The Bengals don’t seem to be treating it too seriously. If he does stay out, the Bengals are lucky to have their legally-troubled third receiver, Chris Henry, back from suspension this week to fill in for the injured Ocho.

Shaun Alexander, RB Seattle Seahawks

Not that it would matter much, but Shaun missed a few carries while nursing some sort of ankle/knee injury against Cleveland. He returned to the game but may miss time after X-ray results come back this week. Look for Maurice Morris to return for Seattle and possibly start if Shaun can’t go this week.