Friday Football
  • Warrick Dunn:
    In an interview from the Falcons' team bus on their way to play the Dolphins tonight, Dunn told SI.com: "I'm challenging guys on every NFL team, except the Saints, to donate at least $5,000 to help people come back from this catastrophe. If we get players to do that, that would amount to $260,000 per team. I have heard from so many players both on my team and around the league who just want to do something. Well, this is the best thing that we can do and it's something we should do."

    If Dunn is successful in getting 53 players on the 31 NFL teams to respond with the $5,000 donation, NFL players would be able to give $8.2 million to the relief effort.

    Dunn is from Baton Rouge, La. He said he still does not know if his grandfather, who lived in New Orleans, "is dead, alive, at the Superdome, or on a bus somewhere." He also said his grandmother is housing 40 extended family members in one house in Baton Rouge.

    The reigning NFL Man of the Year said he thinks players have a moral obligation to help the people of the Gulf Coast. "If guys don't donate," Dunn said, "they're being selfish.

    "We're such a great country and it's at times like this a great country has to come together. We're looking at people on TV who have no money, no homes, no job and no idea what they're going to do with their lives. Now is when they need us most. We just have to respond and we have to respond."
  • UPDATE: Network for Good is a nice place where you can donate to numerous relief funds and charities. Thanks to EdB from the SportsFrog for the link.<

  • Stephen Davis fared well last night, and it sounds like he could begin the season as the Panthers' starting running back- with Foster taking over as a change of pace.

  • Troubling news for those who had Doug Jolley on their list of sleeper TEs (yeah, me):
    Tight end Doug Jolley (one catch for nine yards) closed out a disappointing preseason with an ugly drop, missing a short pass in the open field. Jolley, acquired in a pre-draft trade with the Raiders, failed to unseat Chris Baker.
  • The Bills are playing starters tonight against Detroit.

  • The backup for Dallas' third running back job doesn't mean much now, but it does say something that Marion Barber missed his second straight game last night and that the Cowboys agreed to keep Tyree Thompson on the final roster. Thompson has looked this preseason that he has a future in the NFL.

Coin Flip Chellenge - September

DISCLAIMER: I don't do basketball
History of the CFC: Here and here.
ARCHIVE: January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August

All games, $10.00. Ties and pushes removed from record.
BASEBALL 261 213 +93.78    229-225
BASKETBALL 128 121 -46.36    125-124
NCAA HOCKEY 1 1 -1.67    1-1
FUTBOL 0 1 -10.00    0-1
CFL FOOTBALL 8 7 -0.71    11-4
NFL PRESEASON 12 10 +7.71    10-12
NFL 17 15 -7.82    13-19
NCAA FOOTBALL 14 18 -57.61    18-14
NHL - - -    -

09.01.05 NCAA E. Michigan at Cincinnati +10 -110 EMU W UC L
- NCAA Oregon at Houston +8.5 -110 HOU L ORE W
- NCAA Vandy at Wake +8 -110 VU W VU W
09.03.05 NCAA USF at Penn St +21.5 -110 USF W USF W
- NCAA Notre Dame at Pitt -2.5 -115 PITT L PITT L
- NCAA Ga. Tech at Auburn +7.5 -110 GTU W AUB L
- NCAA BC at BYU -2 -110 BC W BYU L
- NCAA FIU at Kansas State -30.5 -160 KSU L FIU W
- NCAA Texas A&M at Clemson +1.5 -110 CLEM W CLEM W
09.05.05 NCAA Miami at FSU +4 -115 FSU W UM L
09.08.05 NFL OAK at NE +14/u56.5 -120 OAK/Und W OAK/Und W
- NFL OAK at NE -1/u56.5 -120 NE/Und W NE/Und W
09.09.05 NCAA Pitt at Ohio -14 -115 PITT L Ohio W
09.10.05 NCAA Notre Dame at Michigan -.5/o49.5 -130 UM/Over L ND/Under W
- NCAA Clemson at Maryland ML -125 Terps L CLEM W
- NCAA Texas at Ohio St. -1 -120 OSU L UT W
- NCAA Rice at UCLA o/u 56 -110 Over W Over W
- NCAA Army at BC +28 -120 Army L Army L
- NCAA Stanford at Navy ML -150 Stanford W Navy L
- NCAA CSU at MINN / ND at Michigan -6.5/-1 -120 UM/MINN L UM/MINN L
- NCAA Wake Forest at Nebraska +7 -120 Wake L Neb W
- NCAA 10pt- Iowa(0),UGA(-8),Tol(-12.5) 10tease -130 yes L yes L
09.11.05 NFL SEA at JAX ML -160 JAX W JAX W
- NFL SEA at JAX -2.5 -135 JAX W JAX W
- NFL TEN at PIT +7.5 -120 TEN L TEN L
- NFL NYJ at KC ML -145 KC W NYJ L
- NFL NYJ at KC -2.5 -120 KC W NYJ L
- NFL ARZ at NYG +3 -110 ARZ L NYG W
- NFL IND at BAL -2.5 -120 IND W BAL L
09.12.05 NFL PHI at ATL +1 +100 ATL W PHI L
09.17.05 NCAA FSU at BC +1.5 -105 BC L BC L
- NCAA FSU at BC +2 -115 BC L FSU W
- NCAA FSU at BC +2.5 -125 BC L BC L
- NCAA FSU at BC +3 -135 BC L FSU W
- NCAA FSU at BC +3.5 -145 BC L FSU W
- NCAA FSU at BC +7.5/u43 -110 BC/Under L BC/Under L
- NCAA Ole Miss at Vandy -3 -105 Vandy W Vandy W
- NCAA Toledo at Temple -28 -105 Toledo L Temple W
- NCAA UCF at USF -7 -125 USF W USF W
- NCAA OU at UCLA -6.5 -105 UCLA W OU L
09.18.05 NFL BAL at TEN ML -190 BAL L TEN W
- NFL DET at CHI -1 -110 DET L DET L
- NFL BUF at TB ML -145 TB W BUF L
- NFL BUF at TB -2.5 -120 TB W BUF L
- NFL NE at CAR +3 +100 CAR W NE L
- NFL MIA at NE +6 -110 MIA L MIA L
- NFL CLE at GB +6 -105 CLE W GB L
- NFL SD at DEN ML -145 DEN W SD L
- NFL SD at DEN -3 +105 DEN W SD L
09.19.05 NFL NO at NYG +3 +100 NO L NO L
- NFL NO at NYG ML +150 NO L NYG W
09.24.05 NCAA Western Michigan at Temple -3 -125 WMU push Temple push
- NCAA TCU at BYU +3 -125 TCU W TCU W
- NCAA ASU at Oregon State -6.5 -120 ASU W OSU L
09.25.05 NFL CIN at CHI -3 -110 CIN W CIN W
- NFL CAR at MIA -3 -120 CAR L CAR L
- NFL CLE at IND -14 -110 IND L IND L
- NFL TB at CAR ML -180 TB W GB L
- NFL ARZ at SEA +7 -125 ARZ L ARZ L
- NFL NE at PIT -3 -115 PIT L NE W
- NFL TEN at STL -7 -130 STL L STL L
- NFL KC at DEN +3 -120 KC KC

2005 Fantasy Football / Offensive Coordinator Preview - New York Giants

John Hufnagel
-entering 2nd season with the Giants
    There are reasons to be optimistic about this team. Remeber first, that the Giants were 5-2 last season going into their bye week before they fell apart. They've also drafted extremely well over the last two years. In 2004, they got Eli Manning, future All-Pro guard Chris Snee, Reggie Torbor (who is anchoring the middle of the defense this year), and starting free safety Gibril Wilson.

    Then this past April in the '05 draft, the Giants appeared to have made the most out of just the four picks they had. Second round pick Corey Webster, a cornerback, has been all over the field this preseason causing turnovers and making plays. Justin Tuck, a third round defensive end, has been equally impressive. New York picked RB Brandon Jacobs in the fourth round and DE Eric Moore in the sixth. Both will make an impact this season as well.

    So what does this have to do with fantasy football or offensive coordinators? Well, not much really, other than it should serve as notice that the New York Giants are very close to becoming a very good team.

    OC John Hufnagel has been coaching for over 30 years, most recently as the QB coach of the Patriots' 2003 team, of the Jags' 2002 squad, and with Indianapolis in 2001. With his prescense in NY, there should be no concerns about the level of education Eli Manning is receiving.

    Confident that Manning was able to escape serious injury to his throwing arm, the Giants feel positive about their QB's chances of starting under center week 1 against Arizona. And only from there, will this team continue to improve. It appeared that when Manning struggled last year, for the most part he was making the right decisions but just not the right throws. His footwork is even better than his older brother's and it's obvious that the two share the same, great understanding of the game. Therefore, it's pretty safe to assume that it's only a matter of time before Eli moves to become one of the premiere quarterbacks in the NFL.

    But what should we expect to see this season from Manning? Well, in Peyton's rookie season, he played in every game, completing 56.7 percent of his passes for 3739 yards, 26 TDs and 28 INTs. In the seven games that Eli started (weeks 11-17) in 2004, he went 92/188 (48.9%) for 977 yards, 6 TDs, and 9 INTs. Average those numbers out over 16 games and you get 2233 yards, 14 TDs, and 21 INTs, so his production curve is behind Petyton's.

    In Peyton's second season, he saw a 9.5% increase in completion percentage (5.4 points, from 56.7 to 62.1), a 10.5% increase in passing yards, the same number of touchdowns, but a 46.6% reduction in interceptions. If Eli is to follow a similar pattern, based on his limited 2004 numbers he would finish this season with a 53.5% completion percentage, 2467 yards, 6 TDs, and 5 INTs. Obviously, those numbers are way too low to put towards a 16 games season for Eli, but I think it just shows how much trouble he had in 2004. I hope, and I expect remarkably better numbers from Eli Manning in this 2005 season.

    Tiki Barber is coming off a career year in 2004 and there should be absolutely no doubt that his numbers will decrease. In a phrase, he was the Giants' offense last year. This season, that won't be the case. Barber is still the teams' starting running back, but I expect his numbers to end up around 1300 rushing yards, 500 receiving, and 6 touchdowns. And if you don't believe that, listen to Barber himself:
    "Brandon Jacobs, he's going to do great things for this offense this year," Barber said, "and keep us on the field in short situations and give me time to rest and be healthy for every situation throughout the game. It's the most comfortable I've been in a long time. This running back group this year will be about roles and functions. I think we have guys who understand that."
    In 2002 when Tom Coughlin was in Jacksonville, he had Fred Taylor healthy for 16 games and yet Stacy Mack ran the ball 98 times for 436 yards and 9 touchdowns. Jacobs could easily approach those numbers, although if Jacobs is scoring close to 10 Tds, the Giants are probably winning a wild card spot in the NFC and I don't see either of those two things happening this year. But you never really know, do you?

    At wide receiver, Plaxico Burress moves into the split end spot and Amani Toomer slides over to play flanker. Those two, together with Jeremy Shockey provide a trio of targets for Manning that are each at least 6'3 and 200 lbs. Last year, Giants wide receivers scored just two touchdowns all year (while their tight ends had eight). With Burress in the mix now, that number has to go up, but considering Burress has never finished a season with more than 7 touchdown catches, don't expect an overflow of passing touchdowns just yet. If anything, Toomer should benefit the most from the new set up. He's a 1000 yard WR who has fallen off of most fantasy radars this season. I expect a bounce back season for him. One other receiver to keep an eye on is David Tyree, a 6 foot, 200 lbs third year guy from Syracuse. Tyree has looked solid this preseason and he makes plays on special teams. He probably won't do anything fantasy-wise this year, but he's got some talent.

    Finally, there's Shockey, who according to reports, is playing like his old self again. Based on that and his current career path, it looks like a 70 catch, 700 yard season is in store for the former Hurricane. Shockey set a career high in touchdowns last season with six. He was the sixth most targeted tight end last year, and in the red zone he had 22 passes thrown to him- third best among TEs. With a young quarterback still behind center this season, I expect Shockey to again be an asset that Manning will look to rely upon frequently.

Thursday Football

We're now officially a week away from the start of the Pro season, so the daily news updates will begin today.
  • The NFL has made a 1 million dollar donation to the hurricane relief fund. They are also encouraging others who wish to help to donate with the Red Cross. There's also the McCormick Tribune Foundation, and the St. Louis Rams, Cincinnati Bengals, and Tampa Bay Bucs will all be holding relief drives at upcoming games. Instapundit also has a running list of links where one can give aid.

  • Another Katrina-related note, as nfl.com is reporting, the New Orleans Saints will likey face 'a vagabond season'. Based on their talent, the Saints have underachieved in each of their first five seasons under head coach Jim Haslett. They've finished no better than 10-6 and no worse than 7-9 with Haslett, and overall, the Saints have gone 42-38 during the regular season and 1-1 in the playoffs. Now, with the entire future of their city in doubt, this historical tragedy may just be something the Saints could use to bring their unit together. It would be a great story, but more importantly a great lift for Saints fans and survivors of this storm in general. And while football may not mean much now, if the Saints are playing meaningful games in December and January it will be exactly the kind of emotional lift the area will need.

  • Len Pasquarelli on Peter Warrick's signing in Seattle:
    It will be interesting to see how Seattle coach Mike Holmgren utilizes Warrick from a formation standpoint. The Seahawks already have a terrific slot receiver, the position at which Warrick has been most successful, in Bobby Engram. The veteran Engram was moved into the starting lineup, though, this summer, when the Seahawks released former first-round wideout Koren Robinson.
  • While we shouldn't yet compare Ryan Fitzpatrick to Marc Bulger, Mike Martz had some nice words about the former Harvard QB:
    "He just continues to just kind of stun me, really," Martz said. "Without telling him, he stands in the huddle and lets that clock go down, scrambles when he's backed up on a pass instead of making a risky throw, hits a couple of big plays.

    "Has he made this roster? Yeah, he's made this roster. Absolutely. He made this thing about three weeks ago in my mind."
  • Dan Reeves has recently made some interesting comments about the Peerless Price signing two years ago:
    "Nobody wanted Peerless Price more than [owner] Arthur Blank," Reeves said on Sirius NFL Radio Wednesday.

    "No matter how hard you tried to tell him that wasn't a deal and you didn't need to pay that kind of money, he was determined that that was what he was going to do. So that's as much the owner as it is anybody. Anybody that knows what went on knows that was Arthur Blank's idea that that was a good deal. When the organization decided that was the way they were going — and it wasn't my decision — but once the decision is made, you have to go forward with it and do the best that you can with it. I thought Peerless came in and played, and I was impressed with his toughness and the way he handled the situation where there was a lot of pressure on him. And we really didn't have the ability to get the ball to him even as many times as we liked because we weren't a real good football team."
    The story continues with this quote from Blank:
    "You can't afford those kinds of mistakes and win in the NFL," Blank said.
  • The Vikings' number two WR spot is still open, with Travis Taylor and Marcus Robinson as the leading candidates.

  • Pasquarelli is also reporting that the Colts have agreed to terms with Corey Simon. This would be a huge upgrade for them in the middle of their line. Simon has the talent to excell in a Dungy defense and he would also bring a new level of toughness to the front of the Colts defense. With Bob Sanders and Marlin Jackson hitting everything that moves in the secondary, I just can't say enough about what the addition of Simon would do to this defense.

  • A loy of eyes will be on Stephen Davis tonight, as he makes his first appearance of the preseason against the Steelers.

  • The Eagles are close to signing Darnerien McCants. If this does indeed happen, McCants brings size to the Eagles' WR corps but he's not much more than a fourth receiver.

  • Bringing the Boys has a nice roundup on the Peerless Price to Dallas situation.

  • Finally, the college football season kicks off tonight. Check out College Football News for some of the best coverage around.

Where are all the football blogs?

Hockey seems to be doing well, and naturally baseball is the leader in sports.

But why aren't more people writing intelligent things about football?

Is it because there is already such great coverage being done by Len Pasquarelli and the rest of espn? There's also Pro Football Weekly, Football Guys, and Football Outsiders, but why aren't there more bloggers?

Surely there's always room for more.

Well, here's one who has an ACC College Football Preview up at southernpigskin.com.

UPDATE: Suggestions:

http://49ersnews.blogspot.com/ SF
http://grizz.typepad.com/cowboys/ DAL
http://www.twincitiesminnesotablog.com/ MIN
http://www.bucstats.com/ TB
http://rams.mostvaluablenetwork.com/ STL
http://www.bolttalk.com/ SD
http://bestbucsblog.blogspot.com/ TB
http://thehaternation.blogspot.com/ OAK
http://www.cowboysweblog.com/ DAL
http://thesportsjunky.blogspot.com/ SEA
http://broncos.mostvaluablenetwork.com/ DEN
http://bengals.mostvaluablenetwork.com/ CIN
http://chiefs.mostvaluablenetwork.com/ KC
http://eagles.mostvaluablenetwork.com/ PHI
http://colts.mostvaluablenetwork.com/ IND
http://dolphins.mostvaluablenetwork.com/ MIA
http://nyjetsblog.blogspot.com/ NJJ
http://ravens.mostvaluablenetwork.com/ BAL
http://packerchatters.blogspot.com/ GB
http://bears.mostvaluablenetwork.com/ CHI
http://patriots.mostvaluablenetwork.com/ NE
http://mistakesports.blogspot.com/ CLE
http://www.pennlive.com/weblogs/eagles/ PHI
http://bravesandbirds.blogspot.com/ ATL

http://jasonprotheroblog.blogspot.com/ OSU Beavers
http://usctrojanfootball.blogspot.com/ USC Trojans
http://ucbearcats.blogspot.com/ UC Bearcats
http://uwsports.blogspot.com/ UW Cowboys
http://mgoblog.blogspot.com/ UM Wolverines
http://www.gatorcountry.org/wearetheboys/ UF Gators
http://www.enlightenedspartan.com/ MSU Spartans


2005 Fantasy Football / Offensive Coordinator Preview - Philadelphia Eagles

Andy Reid
-entering 7th year with the Eagles
Brad Childress
-entering 7th year with the Eagles
    Now that it looks like Terrell Owens will indeed be playing with the Eagles this season, you almost have to move both he and Donovan McNabb back up to the draft positions you would have had them at just after the Super Bowl.

    Last week against the Bengals, in what turned out to be just around a half game's work, T.O. caught 5 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown. McNabb looked equally impressive, going 14/23 - 256 - 3/0. They were even talking to each other in between plays and everything.

    Andy Reid, Brad Childress, Marty Mornhinweg, and the rest of the Eagles' offense relies heavily on creating mis-matches. And when everyone on their roster is actually on the field, Philadelphia has the personel to take advantage of almost anything a defense can throw at them.

    First there's McNabb, or as his peers call him, Superman. At 6'2, 240, he's big enough to break out of a linemen's arm tackle. He's also fast enough to run past linebackers. But what has made him one of the NFL's top quarterbacks is his willingness to beat teams through the air, and not with his legs. As a rookie, McNabb played in 12 games and ran 47 times for 313 yards. Averaged out over 16 games, that would have come to 417. In 2000, McNabb began his first season as the Eagles starting quarterback. He threw for 3365 yards that year and also ran for 629 more. But ever since then, his rushing yards have declined as he's picked up the team's offense and as he's learned how to read coverages.

    Then last year McNabb made that final leap into the upper tier of quarterbacks as he led the Eagles to a 13-3 record. He completed a career high 64% of his passes on the way to a career high 3875 passing yards and a career high 31 passing touchdowns. Add into that 200 rushing yards and 3 more TDs, and you get a top five fantasy QB. With all of his targets on the field, there's no reason to think he can't put up similar numbers this season. But Donovan's fantasy-bound train is very much attatched to T.O.'s caboose at this point.

    That, of course, brings us to the center of all this turmoil we've had to put up with since... oh 2001. I don't think T.O. is necessarily a bad teammate to have. Lately yes, but on the whole, he's a guy who wants to win and he's a guy who's willing to sacrifice himself to get there. He also just happens to be one of the most dominant offensive weapons of this era and he feels that if his team is struggling, he can do something about it. And most of the time he's right. And most of the time it's wrong fot him to say so. This, we all know. The Eagles knew what they were getting last year, that's why they've got him in a contract now that he can't get out of. And so I've thought that he'll play this season.

    What separates Owens from Moss and Harrison is that he can play like both. T.O. has Harrison's quickness and Moss' size. Only Owens is probably quicker than Harrison and he's definitely bigger than Moss. That allows Owens to do what few other receivers in the game can do. He can be split out wide and beat a cornerback straight down the field, and he can be put in motion, run a crossing route over the middle, catch a five yard pass and turn it into a 60 yard gain.

    In fourteen games last season, Owens caught 77 passes for 1200 yards and 14 touchdowns. In 16 games this season, he should get 85 - 1400 - 16. If you believe, as I do, that Moss won't get near those numbers in his first year with a new offense, T.O. will probably end this season as the game's top fantasy wideout.

    (This is just one reason why you should have your fantasy drafts either at the beginning of the preseason or at the end.)

    The third man who makes the Eagles offense go is obviously Brian Westbrook. And even though Correll Buckhalter will again miss the entire season with a knee injury, I think Westbrook will not be asked to carry the ball as much as he was last season. Andy Reid knows that he needs this guy healthy in the playoffs because the combination that B.W. and T.O. present to opposing defenses is a very difficult one to defend against. So look for Westbrook to be limited to about 100-125 carries this season and look for rookie running back Ryan Moats to get around the same amount.

    At the Combine, Moats ran a 4.49 - 40 and he's shown this preseason the quickness and awareness to run in and out of the tackle box. At Louisiana Tech, the 5-8, 210 pound Moats averaged 6.4 yards per carry over 499 carries and he scored 28 touchdowns with the Bulldogs. Moats is not a great inside power runner, but he's the kind of guy the Eagles will be able to use in a offense of this style in order to spell Westbrook.

    One of the great fantasy values this year plays tight end for the Eagles, in L.J. Smith. That's because listed second on Philly's depth chart at TE is undrafted rookie Stephen Spach. L.J. Smith should get a ton of playing time and he's shown he has a nice pair of hands and that he can create excellent separation from defenders.

    On defense, I'm not big on spending such a high pick on a D/ST but with the Eagles, at least you know you're going to get a championship caliber team. They've gone 59-21 over the last five years and have finished 4th, 2nd, 2nd, 7th, and 3rd in points allowed over that same time. Andy Reid keeps saying this is the best camp he's had, so I've got to believe him and think that despite everything these Eagles have been through so far, they will be back in the NFC Championship Game for the fifth year in a row.

2005 Fantasy Football / Offensive Coordinator Preview - San Diego Chargers

Cam Cameron
-entering 4th season with the Chargers
    The 2004 Chargers scored the third most points in the NFL in part because they did two things very well: 1) they limited turnovers (+15 ratio, third best), and 2) they coverted red zone chances into touchdowns. In 63 possessions inside the twenty last season, San Diego scored an NFL high 44 touchdowns (69.8%). And they came away with points nearly 91% of the time, also an NFL high.

    But Cameron's and Schottenheimer's Chargers will have to produce more yards this year if they are going to equal their point output from 2004. San Diego finished 11th in the NFL in total yards, but just 18th in passing yards last season. Their philosophy is to run often (4th most attempts in '04, 6th most yards) and pass conservatively (least INTs given).

    These Chargers aren't going to catch anyone by surprise this season and they'll need Drew Brees to continue improving in order to make the playoffs again. Brees is a very accurate quarterback who needs to keep making smart, quick decisions with the football to be an effective passer. Despite throwing for just 3159 yards last year, Brees made a fantasy impact with his 27/7 TD/INT ratio. While I don't think he's going to turn the ball over too much more this season, you still have to look at his numbers and wonder how much better they could possibly be in this offense.

    In the last 12 seasons of Marty-ball, dating all the way back to 1991, a Schottenheimer coached team has finished higher than 15th in total passing yards just once- in 1994 with Joe Montana and Steve Bono. In fact, his average passing yards finished over those 12 seasons is 20.75. On the flip side, his teams have finished inside the top 10 in rushing yards eight times over those last 12 seasons, and his average rushing finish is 9.8.

    That said, whomever is running the ball for Schottenheimer is automatically a top fantasy candidate. It just so happens that the Chargers have at running back the most complete player in the NFL today. There is no one in the league better at the job he does than LaDainian Tomlinson. If you need him to catch the ball out of the backfield, he's proven he can do that with 291 receptions in four years (including a 100 catch season in '03). If you need him to pick up blitzes, he can do that too. LT has appeared in 63 of his team's 64 games in his four NFL years. He's averaged 1475 yards rushing and 506 yards receiving and 15 touchdowns during that time. Yes he's the first overall pick. In my opinion, he's been the first overall pick for three years now. What we have here is a superstar player in a system that allows him to be a superstar. Michael Turner looks to be the leading contender to back up LT this season.

    And then there's Antonio Gates; oh the heartache he's put Charger fans and fantasy owners through this off-season. The thing is, this is not a T.O. situation. Gates is loved by all his teammates, he's a team first guy, and most importantly, he was deserving of a pay raise. And Gates got it too, two days after reporting to camp, the Chargers announced they had signed him to a six year deal. Unfortunately, he'll still be forced to sit out week one against Dallas, but Gates also sat out week 17 last year and he still set the NFL record for touchdowns by a tight end. Sure, many fantasy leagues don't play during week 17, but the point is, you just never know how a player is going to perform in one particular week. If you're in a league that doesn't play during W17, that means you're getting Gates for 14 games. Still, there's absolutely no reason to downgrade Antonio just because of this one game suspension.

    Gates is the model fantasy player. He doesn't block well, he doesn't have a lot of experience playing football (except learning defenses on Madden, as he has described in the past), but Gates gets as much separation from defenders as any top WR does and because he's so big, he's nearly impossible to defend in close spaces. Gates was targeted 26 times in the red zone last year. He scored on 12 of those plays. By comparison, Tony Gonzalez, was targeted 28 times but only scored on 3. It's just a matter of how teams use their players. And in the red zone, the Chargers rely on Gates and LT almost exclusively.

    As for the other receivers, I feel the Chargers wide outs are mostly a non factor in fantasy football. Keenan McCardell is by far the best option, but he only averaged 56 yards per game last year and only scored one touchdown. And as described above, this teams looks elsewhere inside the twenty, so you should look elsewhere for your WRs.

2005 Fantasy Football / Offensive Coordinator Preview - Kansas City Chiefs

Al Saunders
-entering 5th season with Cheifs
    The AFC West is a rather predictable division to write about because each of its four teams are coached and managed by men who have been in the NFL for many, many years. They each have a extensive record of winning and also a well defined philosophy on how they wish to get there.

    As the Chiefs begin their fifth season under Dick Vermeil and Al Saunders, they bring with them an offense that has finished no lower than 5th in total yards in the last four years. Anchored by an offensive line that averages 309 lbs and nine years of experience among its starters, Kansas City finished last year first in total yards, first in first downs per game, third in average gain per offensive play, third in third down efficiency, second in points per game, and third in time of possession. There really is not much room for improvement there.

    Trent Green ended the season with 4591 yards passing (2nd best) and the duo of Larry Johnson and Priest Holmes combined for 316 carries, 1473 yards, and 23 touchdowns. When you add in backup Derrick Blaylock's 539 yards and 8 touchdowns on 118 carries, the total rises to 434 - 2012 - 31.

    Obviously, this is a piece of fantasy pie that you should want to be a part of. Yet, espn's live draft results currently list Holmes' average draft position at 3.9. Now that Blaylock is in New York, it's much easier to handcuff Johnson to Holmes and still ensure yourself of 1500 yards and 20 touchdowns. Johnson is being picked around 89th, so in a ten team league, you're having to use a first and a eighth round pick to get that production. In competitive leagues, Johnson should be going as early as the fourth round- once all of the sure RBs are taken. So, the question is: are they worth it?

    Personally, I value picks 5-8 as the most important because the chances of you getting a good player from 1-4 are much higher than they are at 5-8. As a result, it's in that area where good teams make their mark. Last year, 5-8 is where you got guys like Javon Walker, Mushin Muhammad, Willis McGahee, Jerome Bettis, and Antonio Gates. So I'd personally answer the Johnson/Holmes question with a 'no' because I'm trying to hit homeruns with those middle round picks, not handcuff my running backs. But there's absolutely nothing wrong with going the KC RB route, just make sure it's in your plans to get both.

    One last note on Johnson, this quote is from a Kansas City Star article dated just this past Friday, 26 August 2005:
    “I’ve still got an attitude problem,” [Johnson] said. “I still feel the same I’ve always felt. I see the draft, I see guys like Cedric Benson, Carnell Williams, all those guys who have a chance to be starters on their teams. I’m just looking for my chance.

    “I don’t want to waste three or four years of my prime running behind somebody, period. I don’t care who it is. I feel like I should start somewhere in this league.”
    I understand his point, but Yikes.

    With Antonio Gates' situation, Tony Gonzalez is still the number one tight end being picked but I feel that this is an error on the part of the drafting public. Gonzo is coming off career numbers (102 - 1258 - 7) and he'll be sharing catches with TE prospect Kris Wilson, a guy the Chiefs really liked prior to last season and before Wilson broke his left fibula (more on Kris here). Gonzalez has also missed camp time due to a broken finger (click here to see a nice pic of him trying to catch a ball with a cast on his right hand).

    In each of his last five seasons, Gonzo has averaged 12.9, 12.6, 12.3, 12.9, and 12.3 yards per catch. Over that same time, his catches have varied greatly: 93, 73, 63, 71, and then last year's 102. This season, I'd put him around 75 again, meaning he should have around 950 yards. I'll get into this when I get to the Chargers, but remeber that Gates only played in 15 games last year too and he still did pretty well. So if you like taking tight ends early, why would you ever pick Gonzalez before Gates?

    At wide receiver, Eddie Kennison is a product of the system and I would never waste a draft pick on him. Last year's numbers (62 - 1086 - 8) were all career highs, except for his TD count. Kennison picked up 9 in his first year in the league, but he only had 15 total in the 7 combined years between that year and 2004. So basically, he's probably going to regress. The guy I do like here, because you'll be able to get him at such a low value, is Sammie Parker. He's starting opposite Kennison now that Johnie Morton is no longer with the team. Parker was the team's fourth round pick in 2004 and he's a speed guy from Oregon who could be a quality WR for teams in deep leagues or teams that start three or four WRs. He's looked good so far this pre-season, and I'd imagine 50 catches, 800 yards, and maybe 6 TDs from him this year.

    The biggest change for the Chiefs coming into this season is obviously on their defense. It's still not good enough to draft in fantasy leagues, but an improved effort on their part will have an impact on the offense. Most significantly, on Trent Green's production. He threw a career high 556 passes last year and completed 66.4 percent of them. The team also did well in controlling the clock and keeping their defense off the field, but they still gave up the most passing yards in the league. Assuming that improves, they'll be running the ball more- or at least they won't have to throw so many passes. Green may get close to 4000 again this year, but his overall numbers will be closer to his 2002 and 2003 production: somewhere around 3800 - 25 - 13. Still very good, but not good enough to take in the third or fourth round.

2005 Fantasy Football / Offensive Coordinator Preview - Denver Broncos

Mike Shanahan
-entering 11th season with Broncos

Gary Kubiak
-entering 11th season with Broncos
    It's hard to believe that the Broncos have turned Jake Plummer into a 4000 yard quarterback, but last season the former Sun Devil indeed finished fourth in the NFL with 4089 passing yards.

    What the Broncos do on offense these days is fairly simple. They know they have to get Plummer out of the pocket as much as they can and the only way to do that consistently is to play action bootleg him to either side of the field. This works well with Denver's long standing run philosophy because opposing defensive ends have to watch for 1) the RB's cut back lane inside and 2) the QB's naked bootleg outside. For as well as Plummer throws on the run (regardless of if it's to his right or to his left), Denver can be a difficult team to defense against despite their fairly simplistic offense. It takes players with great discipline and field awareness to defend against them.

    But when the games start to matter more, and the competition gets tougher, this Broncos offense is still very much a pony show. They have very obvious strengths and they have very obvious weaknesses and teams who play like that are very easy to beat in meaningful games.

    Take for instance Plummer's splits from last season. When the Broncos were ahead by 1-8 points, his QB Rating was 116.4. And when they were ahead by any margin, Plummer held a 105.1 rating. That's when the Broncos are most able to get Jake out of the pocket and into open space. It's when they control the pace of the game.

    But when playing from behind last season, Plummer's QB Rating was just 72.6 and when playing from behind by a wide margin (9-16 points) his rating sunk to just 67.5. By comparison, here's a table of last year's top six passers (yardage) and how they did in those game situations:
    Peyton Manning 111.6 123.5 +11.9
    Marc Bulger 98.4 88.7 -9.7
    Trent Green 100.6 86.7 -13.9
    Brett Favre 104.4 86.9 -17.5
    Daunte Culpepper 121.3 101.6 -19.7
    Jake Plummer 105.1 72.6 -32.5

    Quite simply, if these Broncos are forced to deviate from their script, if they're asked to do something they are not good at, they will struggle.

    Further the point, in the 1st quarter of games last year, Plummer had a 109.6 QB Rating. That number fell to 86.3 in the 2nd quarter, 60.0 in the 3rd, and back up to 81.7 in the 4th quarter. In games where the margin of difference was 0-7 points (in favor of either side), Plummer rated out at 62.2. When the margin was between 8-14, his rating was 85.5 and at 15+ points, Plummer was at 108.7. These are all very troubling numbers for anyone who wants to believe the Denver Broncos can succeed with Jake Plummer and the way this offense is designed.

    On the bright side, he should again make a pretty good fantasy quarterback. In only two games last season did he fail to throw for 200 yards or more. And in nine games did he throw for 2 or more touchdowns. Plummer is playing for a coach whose teams have finished, on average, 6th in the league in total yards and 7th total points over the last 10 years with the Broncos.

    Wide receiver Ashlie Lelie averaged 20.1 yards per catch last season and he's progressed nicely as one of the best deep threats in the NFL. But he doesn't have much more upside than 60-65 catches a year unless he gets traded to Minnesota any time soon. Rod Smith is an 11 year veteran, but still looks strong. He's been a 1000 yard lock for the last eight years.

    Last year, Shannahan was high on Darius Watts coming out of college, but its clear that Watts doesn't have ball skills to be a dependable deep threat or the size and hands to be a solid option over the middle. He'll likely be a third receiver until he's able to show the team something more, but right now, he's battling with Jerry Rice for that role.

    The Broncos are spending $12.5 million over 5 years to keep Jeb Putzier around but they also brought in Stephen Alexander to block and catch passes from the tight end spot. Both are a little undersized but will be used frequently in the passing game. I'd downgrade whatever upside Putzier showed last year because of Alexander's presence.

    At running back, Mike Anderson looks to have a lead on the spot after enjoying a great effort in the Broncos' third preseason game against the Colts. Tatum Bell is of course more talented, but much like the situation in Cleveland, I feel the team will go with the more consistent runner in the long run.

    For the most part, however, I wouldn't consider any of these Broncos in my long term fantasy football plans. Denver faces Baltimore in week 14 and then travels to Buffalo in week 15. So if you got em, trade em early.


Past Ten Posts
2006 NFL Combine
New Address
New Address
Friday Football
Thursday Football (II)
Thursday Football
Wednesday Football (II)
Wednesday Football
Tuesday Football
Coin Flip Challenge - November

2005 NFL Season
Scouting Combine
Offseason News
Fantasy Football Preview
- Offensive Coordinators

Coin Flip Challenge '05
January - February
March - April - May
June - July - August
Sept - Oct - November

Hockey Picks
05-06 Season
03-04 Season

NFL Weekly Picks
2005 Season

2005 Fantasy Baseball
'27-29' Preview:
AL Spring Notes
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NHL Lockout

2005 NFL Playoffs
Super Bowl

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