Join SI.com's James Quintong in a discussion of some of the latest news in football, baseball and other sports and how it relates to fantasy teams and leagues.
10/26/2006 10:47:00 PM
Frustration, fantasy football style
Donte Stallworth has just one catch since opening the season with 222 yards and two TDs in his first two games.
To continue with the crazy fantasy football stories, I had one in the SI.com office league this week where we might've set the record for the latest a game was won. Never mind Monday night, how about this Thursday morning. That's when one team discovered it had lost its game (and dropped from sixth to 12th place overall) thanks to a late scoring change from the NFL that gave credit to the Patriots defense for a fumble recovery at the end of the first half against the Bills.
But looking ahead to this week, one of the most aggravating fantasy players in recent history may be on his way back as the Eagles' Donte Stallworth is listed as probable because he returned to practice this week after missing the last three games with a hamstring injury. The probable looks nice on the injury report, but that was his status before surprisingly sitting out of the 49ers game with that hammy.
You know the production is there - he had two big games to start the season before the injuries kicked in against the 49ers and then the next week against the Packers where had just one catch. But just like his time in New Orleans, Stallworth seems to miss as many games as he plays, making him a bit of a risk to start almost all the time. If you have better options at a No. 3 wideout or flex this week, use them instead of Stallworth, but just keep a close eye on the injury report.
But is Stallworth the most aggravating player to own for fantasy purposes? Now I don't necessarily mean a very disappointing player like Daunte Culpepper or Edgerrin James. I'm talking a player who can burn you because of lack of consistency from week to week, the constant threat of injury or even losing points because they're not in the game at the goal line.
Beside Stallworth, here are five other players who could qualify as major fantasy aggravations:
-- Joey Galloway, WR, Buccaneers: Here's Galloway's game-by-game point totals using the SI.com Experts League scoring rules: 0, 25.1, 7.8, 21, 13.9, 0. It seems like he's either really big (he's got games of 161 and a 110 yards) or small (two games with no catches). He seems to be the poster boy for inconsistent play.
-- Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles: He's the No. 3 overall fantasy player this year using that same scoring system, and that 100 rushing/100 receiving yard game last week was great. With that said, there's always that potential for injury like his teammate Stallworth. In fact, Westbrook aggravated tons of fantasy owners before the Week 4 Monday nighter against the Packers when he was a late scratch because of that tricky knee. He's been healthier recently, and as long as his knee holds up, he needs to be on your team, but be sure to have lots of options around, just in case.
-- Tiki Barber, RB, Giants: His farewell tour is going just fine so far as he leads the league in rushing and is still a great pass-catcher out of the backfield. However, he is still without a touchdown this season, while brother Ronde, a cornerback, has two. Brandon Jacobs has become the primary short-yardage and goal-line back, and he's done fine in that role so far, meaning Tiki will need to find other ways to score TDs. In most leagues, Barber is still very valuable (especially if you get points for catches), but in TD-only leagues, he's been a bust.
-- Santana Moss, WR, Redskins: A couple of times each year, he'll go off for a two- or three-TD game and then be silent for weeks after that. Moss has three TDs this year - all in that Jacksonville game in Week 4 where he also had four catches for 138 yards. Other than that, his best yardage game was exactly half that - 69 against the Vikings and Cowboys each the first two weeks. At least he's not Galloway in that he's getting some catches in the games he's not going crazy.
-- Michael Vick, QB, Falcons: I suppose it's a matter of expectations. You almost want to expect decent running back stats from him (thankfully sacks don't get counted as negative rushing yards like in college) and below average passing stats. In many ways, he's like a Reggie Bush or Kevin Jones, who can have mediocre rushing stats but supplement them with decent receiving stats - just with a few more turnovers. Put it together, he's an average fantasy quarterback - the Steelers game notwithstanding. Don't get me wrong, Vick is fun to watch, but if you think he's going to put up 300 passing yards and 100 rushing yards in one game with any regularity, you're mistaken.
What other players, either currently or over the years, have frustrated you as a fantasy owner?
Tony Romo had issues with Michael Strahan and the Giants pass rush on Monday, and it won't get easier with a trip to Carolina.
Tim Heitman/US PRESSWIRE
It's shaping up to be an interesting week for quarterbacks. You've got a handful of them injured, another one about to be benched and a few with very intriguing matchups this week. And of course, there are those dreaded bye weeks; however, this week's byes are the Bills, Lions, Dolphins and Redskins - four teams with quarterbacks who probably are bench players at best (although Jon Kitna has put up big stats this year).
Let's take a look at five quarterbacks under the spotlight for fantasy owners this week:
-- Tony Romo: Romo will indeed start for the Cowboys ahead of Drew Bledsoe this week against the Panthers. While Bledsoe has had an up-and-down season at best this year, Romo was far from sharp when he took over in the second half. Romo did throw two TD passes, but was picked off three times and sacked twice. The youngster does have some scrambling ability and has thrown two TD passes to Terrell Owens this season, but an iffy Cowboys line against the Panthers defensive front doesn't bode well for Romo. Get him if you have Bledsoe and few other options, but don't expect a lot this week. Down the line, however, he might be a decent play with the Redskins and Cardinals up after Carolina.
-- Ben Roethlisberger: Despite the big hit that knocked him out of Sunday's game, Roethlisberger appears he will start on Sunday against the Raiders. I would watch this situation all week, since the Steelers do have a viable backup in Charlie Batch should Big Ben not make it. Either way, it's a tough matchup for Pittsburgh since the Raiders have a much better pass defense than many would believe - look at what they did to Matt Leinart last Sunday.
-- Seneca Wallace: Matt Hasselbeck is out three weeks with a sprained knee ligament, so it's up to Wallace to handle the offense that's without Shaun Alexander for one more week. Add him if you must, but remember that he had three turnovers in the second half and that the Chiefs defense can be dangerous at home.
-- Byron Leftwich: He still played despite a bum ankle last week, and it helped lead to the Jaguars' loss in Houston. There's a chance that Leftwich won't play this week with that ankle injury, so keep David Garrard in mind since he'd move into the starting lineup. Jacksonville has a tough matchup with the Eagles, whose secondary can either be really good or really bad depending on the week. Plus, Matt Jones is still questionable, possibly taking one receiving option out of play for another week.
-- Peyton Manning: My colleague Greg Kellogg says you may want to sit Manning this week if you've got better options on your bench (hopefully it's not one of the quarterbacks I've listed above). And Manning does have an intriguing matchup against the Broncos, who have only allowed two TDs all season -- two garbage-time passing scores from Tom Brady and Charlie Frye.
Take out the two games against the Texans and Redskins, where he went for 742 yards and seven TDs combined, his average passing output in the other four games is 219.5 yards and five total TDs. Even with the tough Denver defense, there's a good chance he'll about hit those numbers. Of course, you'd like more than that since you didn't draft Manning in the early rounds for 220 yards and one TD a week.
Tony Romo threw for 227 yards with two TDs and three INTs after relieving Drew Bledsoe at the start of the second half.
-- So the Dallas quarterback situation is very much up in the air after Tony Romo replaced Drew Bledsoe in the second half. Bledsoe threw a pick and was sacked four times (while also rushing for a score), while Romo threw two TD passes but also had three interceptions (including one returned for a TD) and looked shaky at many points. I'm not sure who will start against the Panthers on Sunday, and at this point, you're probably better off avoiding the Cowboys quarterbacks this week.
-- Tiki Barber had another 100-yard game but is still without a score this season. Somehow, brother Ronde now has two more TDs than Tiki. Instead, Brandon Jacobs got another goal-line TD. On the other side of the ball, Julius Jones was held to just 30 rushing yards after three straight 100-yard outings.
-- Terrell Owens did put up solid numbers with six catches for 98 yards and a TD from Romo, but he dropped a key fourth-down pass and had a late slip trying to get another catch. Meanwhile, Jason Witten finally had a big game with four catches for 72 yards. Will he get more looks in the offense or will he have to continue to help out as a blocker?
-- Eli Manning was solid early but then let the defense and running game take over from there, which would explain the decent but not eye-popping stats (189 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT). He did connect with Plaxico Burress on two long passes, including a 50-yard TD in the first quarter.
-- LaVar Arrington also looked great for the first time in a long time, but then tore his Achilles and is likely done for the year. It was a huge night for the Giants defense in general, as they recorded six sacks (and now 13 over the past two weeks) with four total interceptions, including one returned for a score. This unit may have won a few fantasy games this week.
While just about every Monday night game will bring about stories of amazing comebacks or heartbreaking losses in your fantasy league, this contest probably brought about a ton of stories - whether it be T.O.'s late TD catch, the sealing interception return for a touchdown by the Giants or even Jacobs' goal-line TD. Because of my own bad lineup decisions, I know I was keeping close tabs on the game in a couple of my leagues, mostly for T.O. And while I came up short in both, I'm sure there were others who did come away with wins thanks to the Monday nighter.
Feel free to share your "great moments in fantasy football history" either from this past Monday night's game or other Monday night games in the past.
Seneca Wallace appears to be the starter for the Seahawks' upcoming games against the Chiefs, Raiders, Rams and 49ers.
Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images
-- Reports have Matt Hasselbeck missing 2-4 weeks with an MCL injury, but not an ACL injury. Seneca Wallace takes over as the starting quarterback, but he looked lost after being thrown into the starting lineup. Hasselbeck owners may have to roll the dice with Wallace, especially with some favorable matchups ahead, but you may want to go elsewhere for help. The change at quarterback may hurt the value of the Seattle receivers.
-- There are also reports that Shaun Alexander wants to return this week. It's still a bit of a longshot, but Seattle could use him in the lineup with Hasselbeck out and Maurice Morris struggling as the starter.
-- Ben Roethlisberger suffered a concussion after that hard hit against the Falcons, and his status for Sunday is still up in the air. Keep an eye on the situation because Charlie Batch could be a decent play against the Raiders. Surprisingly, Hines Ward has three TD catches from Batch and just two from Big Ben.
-- As for the third quarterback who left Sunday's game early - Oakland's Andrew Walter appears ready to play on Sunday after injuring his hamstring against the Cardinals. However, he gets the Steelers on Sunday, and they'll be looking to turn things around after allowing four passing TDs to Michael Vick. Meanwhile, LaMont Jordan should play as well after being a surprise scratch with a back injury that flared up midweek and didn't improve during pregame workouts.
-- San Diego's vaunted defense now has a couple of holes with Shawne Merriman suspended four games for a steroid violation and Shaun Phillips injured his calf during the Chiefs and could miss 4-6 weeks himself. Playing your Rams could be a better bet this week.
-- On the other end of the spectrum, Browns DB Gary Baxter tore tendons in both knees and is obviously done for the season. That bodes well for Chad Pennington on Sunday as he faces an already thin Cleveland secondary.
-- Donte Stallworth may be ready to return this week after missing the past few contests with a hamstring injury. Of course, he'll still be a gametime decision, so while this is good news, be sure to have other options at your disposal.
-- Vikings teammates Travis Taylor and Troy Williamson both suffered concussions against the Seahawks. For now, both appear ready to play next Monday's game against the Patriots.
A couple of leftover notes and numbers from Sunday's games:
-- The tight end position had a bit of a resurgence this week with 11 catching a TD pass. That list includes such stars as Antonio Gates and Alge Crumpler (who had three), but also includes such guys as Owen Daniels, Kris Wilson, Reggie Kelly and Kris Mangum. Yet with all of the tight ends scoring, highly rated guys like Tony Gonzalez, L.J. Smith and Randy McMichael were kept out of the end zone.
-- Before Sunday's game, Matt Bryant was just 2-of-5 on field goals, with a season-long of 28 yards. So of course, he goes 3-for-3 with kicks of 30 and 40 yards before booting the miraculous 62-yarder to stun the Eagles.
This scene does not look good for Seahawks fans or Matt Hasselbeck owners.
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Injuries took a toll on fantasy teams in the second set of games with Matt Hasselbeck going down with a knee injury, LaMont Jordan being held out after tweaking a leg injury during the pregame, Clinton Portis also missing time with a bruised leg and Santana Moss suffering a hamstring injury. It wasn't the same set of wild and crazy games as early in the afternoon, but there was enough going to turn the tide in many fantasy contests.
Vikings-Seahawks: Matt Hasselbeck strained his right knee early in the third quarter, and it looks like bad news for the Seattle passing game going forward because backup Seneca Wallace threw two picks and fumbled on a sack for a Minnesota touchdown. They really do need Shaun Alexander back as soon as possible, especially with Maurice Morris not doing much. Before Hasselbeck went down, he clicked with Darrell Jackson on a bunch of big plays. … On the other side, Chester Taylor set a career high with 169 rushing yards, thanks in part to a 95-yard TD run, the longest in team history. Ex-Seahawk Steve Hutchinson paved the way on that run. Meanwhile, Nate Burleson, who switched places and big contracts with Hutchinson, had no catches.
Redskins-Colts: I think the Colts have found their No. 1 back, and it's Joseph Addai. He was eating up the Redskins run defense and seems to have earned the lion's share of the carries over Dominic Rhodes. Addai finished with 85 rushing yards, Rhodes just 26. Also, Addai played more with the game still in doubt, Rhodes played more in garbage time. … Peyton Manning took full advantage of a banged-up Redskins secondary for just his second 300-yard game of the season. And this time he made sure to find Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison for most of those scores. … Portis hurt his leg early in the game after playing OK and was replaced by Ladell Betts, who did have 93 total yards. The Redskins also lost Santana Moss in the second half. … On the plus side for the receiving game, Chris Cooley has TDs in consecutive games.
Cardinals-Raiders: Matt Leinart finally showed the rookie jitters as he sprayed passes everywhere, got a bunch tipped and felt a lot of Oakland pressure. And that Cardinals line still can't run block, with Edgerrin James going for just 34 yards on 13 carries. … Randy Moss had a big game with seven catches for 129 yards and a score, but he dropped a bunch more as well. … LaMont Jordan dressed but didn't play, but Justin Fargas picked up the slack with 23 carries for 66 yards. … Andrew Walter committed three more turnovers (one pick and two fumbles) but he did throw for 263 yards and a score before getting hurt late. … If you're looking for a sleeper tight end, Courtney Anderson went for 55 yards on three catches after going for 56 and three last week. … Neil Rackers provided all the offense for Arizona with three field goals, showing that he wasn't completely rattled by missing that potential game-winner on Monday night.
Broncos-Browns: Denver can't score a lot of points, but they won't allow a lot either, although Charlie Frye connected with Joe Jurevicius for just the second TD against the Broncos all season long. However, Reuben Droughns was bottled up again. … Tatum Bell this time broke the 100-yard barrier and did score, so he seems to be good for that each week. … Jake Plummer threw for 200 yards and a score and had a couple of big gains to Javon Walker and Rod Smith again, but the three turnovers is not a good sign. And what was he doing throwing 41 times?
Brian Westbrook put up 214 total yards and a touchdown in a wild loss to the Bucs.
Doug Benc/Getty Images
Another week, another crazy set of early games with ridiculous finishes and fantasy stats to be had everywhere if you played your cards right (which I'll admit I didn't do). Here are a bunch of the highlights, game-by-game:
Chargers-Chiefs: So much for the Chargers defense keeping Larry Johnson in check. He went off for 132 yards and two scores plus two more catches for 29 yards. Classic LJ. … However, LaDainian Tomlinson did his part with 138 total yards (66 rushing, 72 receiving with a score), plus he also had a 1-yard TD pass but also fumbled in the first half, so LJ won this battle, barely. … Philip Rivers did his best to rally the Chargers in the second half even though he only threw 12 passes after halftime (but 31 before). Meanwhile, Damon Huard may have made a case for the starting job for one more week, throwing for 232 yards and two scores against a ferocious San Diego defense. … In the battle of top tight ends: Antonio Gates had nine catches for 63 yards and a score. Tony Gonzalez had six catches for 138 yards but no scores. … Lawrence Tynes made up for missed extra point with the game-winning field goal.
Steelers-Falcons: OK, I benched Hines Ward in a few of my leagues because of what looked to be a not-so-great matchup. I was burned in a big way as I totally forgot about his return home to Atlanta. This was the type of performance that made Ward a top pick to begin with. What's interesting is that he has three TDs from Charlie Batch and two from Ben Roethlisberger, who had 238 yards and three scores until leaving after a big hit in the second half. Batch came in and threw for 195 yards and the two scoring strikes to Ward. Santonio Holmes (91 yards) and Nate Washington (76) also had nice games. … Michael Vick had his first four-TD game, as it looked like his receivers were not dropping his passes. He connected with steady Alge Crumpler for three of the four scores. So Vick can actually win a game with arm (although he did have 40 rushing yards). … Warrick Dunn had a modest game (24 carries, 65 yards and a score), while Jerious Norwood only had eight carries but nearly matched Dunn with 64 yards. … Willie Parker was a non-factor with 47 yards rushing and a fumble that set up a Falcons score.
Eagles-Buccaneers: Matt Bryant hadn't done much kicking all year, so this time he responds with a game-winning 62-yard field goal. Go figure. … Same with the Bucs defense, which had just one pick all year, then get three interceptions on Donovan McNabb, including two from Ronde Barber for touchdowns. … Still, McNabb shook off three interceptions and threw three TD passes and broke 300 yards once again even without Donte Stallworth once again. (But Reggie Brown was sharp again with four catches for 77 yards and another score)… But the big winner was Brian Westbrook (who's seemingly always an injury risk), who broke 100 yards in both rushing and receiving, including a wild 52-yard catch and-run that gave the Eagles a very brief lead. ... Bruce Gradkowski managed just 104 yards passing and got no catches again from Joey Galloway and just three for 30 from Michael Clayton. ... Cadillac Williams rushed for 83 yards.
Packers-Dolphins: And the best passing day of the season to date goes to Joey Harrington? Yup, he went for 414 yards and two scores, but three interceptions, as he tried to rally Miami throughout the second half. He also got a huge game out of Marty Booker (seven catches, 110 yards, 1 TD) after he missed last week with an injury. And despite the 414 yards, Chris Chambers managed just two catches for 29 yards. … Ronnie Brown had just 59 yards on the ground but surprisingly tallied 78 more through the air, saving a lost day. … Greg Jennings injured his ankle late in the first half, meaning Donald Driver was the only experienced receiver in the Packers arsenal. Driver was fine with that, finishing with 10 catches for 93 yards and a score. … Thankfully for Brett Favre, he also had Ahman Green back to ease some of the pressure. Green responded with 118 yards, including a 70-yard score.
Lions-Jets: Leon Washington seems to be the Jets' primary running back, going for 129 yards and two TDs, shredding a Detroit defense that entered the game 11th against the rush. Kevan Barlow pitched in 49 yards and a score on 12 carries. … Jerricho Cotchery bounced back with a seven-catch, 77-yard game, but Laveranues Coles was quiet for the first time in a while (four catches, 29 yards). … Jon Kitna continues to put up big stats once again with 269 yards and three scores (but two picks). This time, Mike Furrey was the big winner, breaking 100 yards and hauling in a score. … Kevin Jones quietly is a fantasy force as he tallied 143 total yards (86 rushing, 57 receiving plus a score).
Jaguars-Texans: Houston may have finally found a running game, as Wali Lundy came in for 93 rushing yards and a score, plus adding 15 more receiving yards. He easily eclipsed Sam Gado, who started but had just 27 yards rushing. … David Carr got his game back, throwing for 224 yards and two scores with no picks and just one sack. Plus, he clicked once again with Andre Johnson, who seems to be good for 100 yards or a TD or both each week. … Byron Leftwich started despite a bum ankle, but was very mediocre, throwing for just 125 yards and not connecting with Reggie Williams once. … Fred Taylor did run for 84 yards but had a key fumble. Maurice Jones-Drew had the lone score and added seven catches for 58 yards.
Panthers-Bengals: Rudi Johnson bounced back with a 101-yard game for the Bengals. However, his counterpart DeShaun Foster ran for just 59 yards. … Carson Palmer seems to be good for 240 yards each week, this time he had two scores, including another to T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who has four this year, compared to Chad Johnson's one (although CJ did outgain TJ 73-71). … Jake Delhomme continues to bond with Steve Smith, with Delhomme throwing for 238 yards and two scores, although Smith didn't see the end zone. However, Smith did put up yet another 100-yard game.
Patriots-Bills: Not much to write home about from a fantasy perspective, although Corey Dillon did have two touchdowns (but just 47 rushing yards). However, Laurence Maroney tallied just 29 on the ground but did have a long kickoff return. … Tom Brady was quietly effective, and did get TDs from Chad Jackson and Doug Gabriel. … Lee Evans caught just one pass from J.P. Losman, who had three turnovers of his own. … Willis McGahee did break the 100 total-yard barrier, thanks in part to a 56-yard reception.
A few observations from the first half of the early games in Week 7:
-- The Lions were supposedly solid at stopping the run, and the Jets struggle on the ground. So of course, Kevan Barlow and Leon Washington look sharp for New York, each scoring a touchdown.
-- Speaking of surprise touchdowns, there were plenty already. Not sure how many of you would even have Justin McCareins, Marty Booker, Nick Goings, Reggie Kelly, Kris Mangum or Kris Wilson on your roster, and yet they've all scored in the first half.
-- Nice call by Peter King on Michael Vick, as he set a career high with three TDs in a game - all in the first half against a very good Steelers defense. Unfortunately, he also has two interceptions as well in that busy first half.
-- And on the other side, Ben Roethlisberger is also looking very sharp in the passing game as well, getting a whole host of wideouts into the game. Instead of two running games going at it, it's an air show at the Georgia Dome.
-- The Chiefs defense has reawakened at home after getting steamrolled by the Steelers last week. They've rattled Philip Rivers already (he has two turnovers and 31 pass attempts in the first half) and are doing their best to keep LaDainian Tomlinson in check.