Fantasy prospects at the Super Bowl
Updated: Friday January 26, 2001 7:05 PM
By James Quintong, CNNSI.com
Sorry to break it to a lot of you, but I'm actually more intrigued by the start of the XFL season and the start of spring training in baseball than I am about this Super Bowl.
I'm a fan of offense (you become one when you keep on playing fantasy football) and the business of scoring points has taken a back seat this time around. Not terribly surprising considering the Super Bowl is taking place in Tampa, where defense has become the name of the game.
You can tell offense is an afterthought when the most overexposed personalities are defensive players -- Ray Lewis, because he's that good and, oh yeah, for being on trial last year; Jason Sehorn, a good defensive back whose injuries didn't stop him from winning the Superstars competition or getting engaged to Angie Harmon; and Tony Siragusa, who seems to be Baltimore's version of Norm Petersen of Cheers fame.
The talk about the offensive side of the ball is about how bad Kerry Collins and Trent Dilfer are in the grand scheme of the Super Bowl. On the greatest stage of their NFL careers, in a place where players like Joe Montana, John Elway and Terry Bradshaw became household names, we're immediately throwing out the names David Woodley and Stan Humphries. Offense puts fans in the seats, defense wins championships. So I guess if this weren't the Super Bowl, who'd be interested in this game if you're not from Baltimore or New York?
Anyway, for those of you trying to finish with a bang in your playoff fantasy leagues, here's the lowdown on what to expect:
Baltimore: Trent Dilfer actually won a playoff game completing just five passes. He's 10-1 as a starter, more often than not, doing just enough not to screw things up. The Giants roughed him up in their last meeting when he was still with the Bucs, but he was still trying a bit too hard at that time. The Ravens play it safe this time.
New York: Kerry Collins had a spectacular day against the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game, but the Minnesota defense was suspect all year long, especially in the secondary. The Baltimore secondary can be beaten, as seen by Vinny Testaverde's 481-yard effort in the final game of the regular season. The Giants may resurrect the game plan from that contest if they know the Ravens' front seven will put the clamps on the running game.
Baltimore: Jamal Lewis is a workhorse back who should see the ball early and often. During the season, he piled up plenty of yards but didn't see the end zone as often as you might like (just six TDs). He'll shoulder the load again but remember that the Giants allowed only 64.2 yards on the ground during the season.
New York: Baltimore allowed just 51.1 yards on the ground during the season, so it will be tough to get yards that way. Even with the broken forearm, Tiki Barber will be the main back for the Giants. He's shifty enough to cause some problems at times for the Ravens' front seven. As for Ron Dayne, he's a big back who's trying to run like a scatback. That's not going to work against Ray Lewis and company.
Baltimore: With Dilfer playing it safe, don't look for a lot of production from the receivers. Qadry Ismail is their best deep threat, but don't look for them to go deep that often against Jason Sehorn. Brandon Stokley looks to get the start as the No. 2 receiver and he's not bad as a possession receiver. One player to watch for, though, is Jermaine Lewis. While he's an outstanding punt returner, he could also help stretch the defenses when needed with his speed.
New York: Ike Hilliard and Amani Toomer are a very underrated 1-2 receiving tandem. With the Ravens' secondary spotty at times, one or the other will step up. I just can't figure out which one will have the breakout game. Joe Jurevicius is a big target who's perfect for third-down conversions, and rookie Ron Dixon could serve as a similar threat as Jermaine Lewis.
Baltimore: Shannon Sharpe talks a big game and will have plenty of chances to prove it. Plus, the Giants have problems covering tight ends, so Sharpe could be the X-factor in this game.
New York: Pete Mitchell is a decent receiving tight end and could get a catch or two, but the receivers will get most of the attention.
Baltimore: Matt Stover led the NFL in field goals, hitting a whopping 35 of 39 field goals during the regular season. He was the Ravens' offense in October. Should the offense sputter again, he'll be a critical part of the game.
New York: Brad Daluiso hit 17 of 23 field goals in the regular season. He could see a bit more action kicking the ball with the Ravens clamping down and stopping many drives short.
Baltimore: The Ravens are trying to cement their claim as the best defensive unit in NFL history. They'll get to show off a lot because the Giants' offense can sputter at times. The front seven is close to unstoppable but the secondary can be exposed at times (see the Jets game and the first meeting with the Jaguars when Jimmy Smith went for 291 yards receiving).
New York: The Giants have a solid defense across the board, just not as stingy as the Ravens. Then again, the Ravens didn't play the Rams. They've been solid against the run and should flourish if Trent Dilfer has to pass. They picked him off three times in 1999 when he was still with the Bucs.
Like most people, I'm expecting a reasonably low-scoring contest. And considering the defenses involved, I wouldn't be surprised to see a safety thrown into the mix. The Giants may have just enough offense and will be disciplined enough not to make mistakes.
However, since most people are predicting a low-scoring game, if the final score becomes 35-28 or something like that, let's just say I warned you.
James Quintong is Fantasy Sports Producer at CNNSI.com