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11/24/2006 11:44:00 AM
Thanksgiving fantasy notes
Larry Johnson's recent hot streak showed why he was taken at the top of many fantasy drafts.
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
So there were some Turkey Day heroes to get fantasy teams off to a good start in a critical Week 12. Few should be surprised Larry Johnson continues his great season (although he’s falling behind LaDainian Tomlinson in the TD department), and even Tony Romo’s record game isn’t completely shocking, either. On the other hand, did anyone really think Joey Harrington would finally have his best Thanksgiving game – as a member of the Dolphins?
Here are some other notes and observations from the Thanksgiving games:
Broncos-Chiefs: Larry Johnson was pretty much the only player to make a considerable fantasy impact in this game. And while LaDainian Tomlinson has been ridiculous lately, LJ has 845 rushing yards and 11 total TDs in his last six games. Not too shabby. … Jake Plummer was a modest 25-of-39 for 216 yards with a TD and an interception, and there’s a pretty good chance he’s about to lose his job to Jay Cutler. Of course, having no running game can’t help as Tatum Bell was out again, and Mike Bell ran for just 28 yards. … Tony Gonzalez returned to the lineup and had a modest four catches for 35 yards. Bucs-Cowboys: It was a great day for the opening day No. 2 guys in Dallas as Tony Romo threw for 306 yards and five TDs, Terry Glenn caught two of the TD passes and Marion Barber catching two scores of his own. … Terrell Owens bounced back a bit with a 100-yard game of his own plus a TD although he dropped another potential score. … Barber has become the Cowboys back you want after rushing for 84 yards to go with the two TD catches, while Julius Jones had just 40 yards rushing. … Carnell Williams (17-78-0) and Joey Galloway (3-71-0) had fair outings for the Bucs, while Bruce Gradkowski threw two picks.
Dolphins-Lions: Marty Booker is such an up-and-down wideout, but he did rack up his second 100-yard game of the season, catching two of Harrington’s TD passes. … Ronnie Brown left with an injured hand in the third quarter, but Sammy Morris filled in with 91 yards, including a 55-yard run. … Chris Chambers had a season-low 23 yards, and he hasn’t had a game over 66 yards this season. … Jon Kitna did throw for 251 yards (including 126 to Roy Williams), but a pick and eight sacks didn’t help things. … Neither did the 37 total yards from Arlen Harris or the 14 from Aveion Cason spelling the injured Kevin Jones.
Jeff Garcia will have started a game for four teams in four seasons when he goes on Sunday.
First off, a couple of fantasy notes off the news: -- Jeff Garcia indeed will start for the Eagles this week against the Colts. He has a better track record than other backup QBs who have come in this season, but he's still a dicey proposition this week. And as many of us have mentioned, it could be L.J. Smith and Brian Westbrook getting a lot of looks from Garcia at the expense of the wideouts.
-- Tiki Barbercriticized the Giants coaching staff for not getting enough carries in the loss to the Jaguars. Barber had 10 carries for just 27 yards. However, Barber should bounce back in a big way against the Titans.
-- Willis McGaheereturned to practice on Wednesday but is still questionable with his rib injury. There is a chance he could come back, which could mean the end of the A-Train as a fantasy prospect.
-- Gary Matthews Jr. probably wasn't drafted all that high or went for that much money in your fantasy draft last spring. But after a big year (.313-19-79), he cashed in with a five-year, $50 million contract with the Angels. I'd be a bit hesitant to think he'll match the numbers next season, although he won't be a $2 or $3 outfielder anymore.
Question of the day: With Thanksgiving tomorrow, what are your favorite Turkey Day fantasy memories? A big effort from one of your players on Thanksgiving can get the ball rolling for a good week.
Among the big Thanksgiving performances in recent years: -- Barry Sanders, 1997: 167 yards, 3 TDs vs. Bears -- Randy Moss, 1998: 3 catches, 163 yards, 3 TDs vs. Cowboys -- Cowboys defense, 1999: 5 interceptions of Dan Marino, one returned for a TD -- Ahman Green, 2001: 150 total yards, 2 TDs vs. Lions -- Emmitt Smith, 2002: 23 carries, 144 yards vs. Redskins -- Chris Chambers, 2003: 5 catches, 96 yards, 3 TDs vs. Cowboys -- Peyton Manning, 2004: 23-28, 236 yards, 6 TDs vs. Lions -- Julius Jones, 2004: 150 yards, 2 TDs vs. Bears
Who is in line for a big game this Thanksgiving? Ronnie Brown, Roy Williams (either one), Terrell Owens, Larry Johnson? Someone who might come out of nowhere like Ron Dayne last year? Maybe Bruce Gradkowski or even Joey Harrington?
It was a down night for Tiki Barber, who had just 10 carries for 27 yards.
Doug Benc/Getty Images
I'm doubling up on sports in this blog with some football and baseball tidbits as we head into Thanksgiving.
First off, the Giants-Jaguars game didn't have a ton of dynamite performances, although Eli Manning should have his owners worried after throwing two more picks. However, Manning was burned by a huge drop from Plaxico Burress, who did have a score, and Tiki Barber, who was held to a season-low 27 yards rushing. On the bright side, Jeremy Shockey produced a season-high in receiving yards, which is necessary given the issues at wideout.
Over on the Jacksonville side, the Fred Taylor-Maurice Jones-Drew tandem can work on a week-to-week basis, especially in TD-only leagues. However, how many fantasy leagues were decided on that Taylor fumble? Also, David Garrard can pile up yards on the ground, but through the air, it appears his best bets are the running backs or Ernest Wilford. Matt Jones had one big play but missed a couple of others and Reggie Williams is no longer a factor.
On the injury front, the most pressing issue for Thursday's games is Kevin Jones, who doesn't appear like he will play after spraining his ankle against the Cardinals. Arlen Harris and Aveion Cason will share the load at running back if you need help there.
As for other players up in the air for Thursday, Tony Gonzalez likely will be a game-time decision but could have a decent shot at playing, while Tatum Bell probably plays after sitting out the Sunday nighter with his toe injury.
If you're continuing to monitor the waiver wires, Devery Henderson becomes an even more popular target this week with both Marques Colston and now Terrance Copper suffering from ankle injuries. Either way, Joe Horn gets a ton of looks this week.
Switching to baseball, here are some quick hits on moves from the past day or so that have considerable fantasy impact: -- Juan Pierre signs with the Dodgers: He was on fire in the second half, and no matter where he goes, he'll get his stolen bases. You just have to hope he hits like he did late in the year for the Cubs, and that's a big if. He replaces Kenny Lofton but at a much higher price tag. -- Moises Alou signs with the Mets: There were rumblings he'd go to Queens at the trade deadline and now the veteran outfielder has landed at Shea, likely filling Cliff Floyd's spot in left. He has a little pop left in the bat and could be in for a few more RBI chances with guys like Carlos Delgado and David Wright hitting ahead of him in the lineup. -- Royals acquire Jason LaRue from the Reds: LaRue has had his moments in Cincinnati, but he's only a marginal fantasy catcher. The move probably opens up more at-bats for David Ross, who was a surprise last year.
Going back to football, which of the Thanksgiving games are you most looking forward to seeing? And it's a bit of a trick question since there are still plenty of people who won't be able to see the Chiefs-Broncos game with the NFL Network not available on many cable networks or on the digital tier in others. If you have a satellite dish, more power to you, but for everyone else, will you try to find a place to watch it, follow it on a box score, watch something else (like BC-Miami) or just enjoy more turkey?
Brett Favre's elbow injury is one of many murky situations for fantasy owners to face this week.
Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
Thanksgiving week becomes a bit hectic for fantasy owners, primarily because you have now three early games to contend with in terms of setting your lineups. Lots of injury news still floats out on Friday and Saturday, and while most leagues allow you to switch around your lineups even after Thursday for those playing on Sunday, it's always a tough week to make sure you've got a healthy lineup in place.
At least in the cases of guys like Donovan McNabb and LaMont Jordan, the answer is clear -- they're not playing this week. But for others such as Marques Colston (day-to-day with the ankle sprain), Hines Ward (hyperextended knee) and Brett Favre (injured nerve in elbow), it's a lot murkier.
And it's even more intriguing with banged-up players scheduled to go on Thursday like Kevin Jones, Tony Gonzalez and Tatum Bell.
Other players also in the spotlight this week because of injuries or otherwise include: -- Matt Hasselbeck: He didn't play on Sunday but it's looking more likely that he will go in the Monday nighter against the Packers. And speaking of the Packers, Brett Favre's status is still up in the air, but Green Bay may be more inclined to use No. 4 since backup Aaron Rodgers is out for the year after breaking his foot in relief. Rookie Ingle Martin is the No. 3 quarterback.
-- Alex Smith: Tampa Bay's tight end sprained his ankle and could miss the game. Anthony Becht would get the start in his place.
-- Wali Lundy/Samkon Gado: The committee actually worked out for the Texans on Sunday, so they're going to stick with it against the Jets. Even if the two split carries, they would both be decent No. 3 running backs/flex players at the Meadowlands.
-- Keenan McCardell: He suffered a calf injury late in the Broncos game and didn't return. San Diego has other options like Malcolm Floyd and Vincent Jackson to use if McCardell can't go, so the veteran's value is pretty low right now.
-- Jeff Garcia/A.J. Feeley: While it seems like a no-brainer that the veteran Garcia would start in McNabb's place, there are rumblings that the third-stringer Feeley may be the choice. The Eagles have long been a fan of Feeley and brought him back after stints in Miami and San Diego failed. No matter what, the value of the Philadelphia wideouts takes a hit.
Now for the questions of the day: If you have McNabb, how are you going forward the rest of the season? Did you have a serviceable backup on the roster? Are you going to push hard for Garcia or even Feeley?
And in a somewhat unrelated question, will McNabb get slapped with the "injury-prone" label in upcoming seasons? It's the third time in five seasons (and second in a row) that McNabb has had his season cut short by injury. You know what the production can be when he's healthy, but next year he will be a question mark depending on his recovery. For example, Daunte Culpepper never seemed to get things in order, while it's taken Carson Palmer a little extra time to get his game back.
What type of damage can Alfonso Soriano do at Wrigley Field?
David E. Klutho/SI
It's time switching gears once again to baseball and all of the offseason moves and what that could mean for your fantasy teams this spring.
This past week saw two major signings of players switching teams, including a gigantic one (both in contract amount and fantasy impact) that will keep many NL-only keeper league owners very happy.
That huge deal is the Cubs signing Alfonso Soriano to an eight-year, $136 million contract. He's arguably the top fantasy baseball player out there based on his potential to turn in a 40-40 season at almost any point, and now he's going to the Friendly Confines. If Soriano could hit 40 homers at RFK, he could be approaching 50 at Wrigley Field. Plus, Lou Piniella isn't adverse to the run, so Soriano could get the green light a lot.
Even though he made a big fuss when he first moved to the outfield in spring training, it appears Soriano could play center in Chicago. The Cubs signed Mark DeRosa to play second, so don't expect Soriano to get back that infield eligibility. His value will just keep on going up.
As for DeRosa, he had a career year with 13 homers and 74 RBIs with a .296 average for Texas after spending most of his career as a backup infielder with the Braves. He'll get at-bats, but don't crazy bidding him up either.
The other major player switching teams was Frank Thomas moving north of the border to the Blue Jays after signing a two-year, $18 million deal. The Big Hurt was rejuvenated in his one season with Oakland, hitting 39 homers with 114 RBIs, showing flashes of his past glory with the White Sox. He'll solidify Toronto's DH spot, and if he maintains his health, he could match last year's stats.
While Soriano and Thomas are the big names to move, one notable player to stay put is Nomar Garciaparra, who signed a two-year, $18.5 million deal with the Dodgers. They needed to keep one big bat in the lineup with J.D. Drew opting for free agency. Garciaparra was NL comeback player of the year after hitting .303 with 20 homers and 93 RBIs. As long as he can stay healthy, Garciaparra is a solid fantasy producer, but that's always a big if.
As for a few other deals to go down: -- Texas brings back Frank Catalanotto, a career .297 hitter, to play some outfield, DH or even the infield. A solid if unspectacular hitter in his career, Catalanotto sort of fills the vacancy left by DeRosa. -- The Angels signed reliever Justin Speier to a four-year, $18 million deal. Speier can strike guys out and will be part of a strong bullpen. If he gets a prime setup position, he could be in line for a bunch of vulture wins and saves, although right now Scot Shields is in this position. -- Cincinnati signed reliever Mike Stanton to a two-year deal after he shined down the stretch for the Giants. Unless Stanton becomes a no-doubt closer in the spring, he's not worth a whole lot fantasy-wise. -- The Reds also signed shortstop Alex Gonzalez away from the Red Sox, giving him a three-year deal. Gonzalez has a little pop, although he only hit nine homers in Boston last season. For fantasy purposes, I'd rather have DeRosa than Gonzalez up the middle.
The red-hot Frank Gore earned his first 200-yard game as the Niners upset Seattle.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Before jumping into the late games, here's an updated on some of the early injuries: --Donovan McNabb: Torn ACL, out for the season; Jeff Garcia takes over as the Eagles starting QB --LaMont Jordan: Torn MCL, likely done for year; Justin Fargas becomes the starting RB --Brett Favre: Injured nerve in elbow, status for next week unclear; Aaron Rodgers was also hurting after the game
And to add to the mix, Kevin Jones injured his ankle early against the Cardinals, with Arlen Harris getting most of the carries in his place.
Colts-Cowboys: Decent numbers all around, but the defenses forced enough turnovers and stopped drives at just the right places to prevent scores. ... Peyton Manning did throw for 254 yards and two scores but also had two picks and lost a fumble as the Colts lost their first game of the season. ... Tony Romo was 19-for-23 for 226 yards and completed his last nine passes but had no scores and lost a fumble. However, Romo got Terry Glenn (6-78-0) more involved in the passing game. ... Julius Jones did run for 79 yards and added 25 through the air, but Marion Barber vultured the short-yardage TDs. ... Reggie Wayne had a 100-yard game and a score. ... Mike Vanderjagt missed two field goals against his former team but it didn't come back to haunt him.
Seahawks-49ers: Shaun Alexander did return for the Seahawks but was only a minor factor, rushing for just 37 yards on 17 carries. … Seneca Wallace threw two early picks but then bounced back with two TDs only to throw one more pick in a failed comeback attempt. However, he did get both Darrell Jackson and Deion Branch decent stats. … Frank Gore continues his great play, picking apart Seattle for a team-record 212 yards rushing (but somehow no scores) although he was nearly a goat when he fumbled late in the game to give the Seahawks one more chance. … Alex Smith had a rushing TD in addition to a passing one to Arnaz Battle. … Vernon Davis still hasn't contributed, but Eric Johnson led the team with 48 receiving yards. … After a four field-goal game last week, Joe Nedney had one blocked and missed a chip shot late in the game.
Lions-Cardinals: Kevin Jones left with an ankle injury early and was replaced mostly by Arlen Harris, who ran for a TD late in the game. … Jon Kitna passed for 248 yards but was sacked four times and picked off once. … Recently re-signed Corey Bradford had three catches for 54 yards. … Matt Leinart earned his first win as a starter after passing for 233 yards and a score while also running for another. … Edgerrin James still is without a 100-yard game, but he had 96 yards on 22 carries. … Bryant Johnson had a score for Arizona, Anquan Boldin led the team with five catches for 87 yards but Larry Fitzgerald was held to two catches for 30 yards.
Chargers-Broncos: Just imagine how good San Diego's offense could be if it showed up for both halves. ... LaDainian Tomlinson tied a record with four TDs in consecutive weeks and he already has 22 in 10 games. And to think that he was losing carries to Michael Turner earlier this season. ... Philip Rivers bounced back from some earlier woes, like having an interception returned for a score, to throw two scores, including a nifty 51-yard catch and run by Tomlinson. Rivers entered the game with three picks and had two tonight. ... Mike Bell started in place of the injured Tatum Bell and ran for 90 yards with two scores. Tatum Bell may play on Thanksgiving, though. Third running back Damien Nash had 88 total yards (52 rushing, 36 receiving) in limited action, trying to prove again that any back can thrive in Denver. ... Last week's surprise receiver Malcolm Floyd had just one catch for seven yards, but fellow tall receiver Vincent Jackson did get the score in the red zone.
Lee Evans got fantasy owners off to a fast start with 205 yards and two scores in the first quarter of the Bills' win over the Texans.
This looks like one of those weeks where you might need to rely on late-game players to carry your squad. Despite 11 games going on simultaneously, there have been a ton of injuries and off-games to go with a number of very long scoring plays (including two 83-yard TD catches from Lee Evans).
Among the top players to go down during the early games include: Donovan McNabb (torn ACL, done for the season), Brett Favre (elbow), Marques Colston (ankle), LaMont Jordan (knee) and DeShaun Foster (elbow).
However, there were plenty of long scores, with Evans scoring twice from 83 yards, Chad Johnson going for 41 and 60, Joe Horn scoring from 72 and Steve Smith going from 62. But the number of performances eligible for dud status is seemingly endless as well.
Bills-Texans: Lee Evans had 205 of his 265 yards and both scores in the first quarter. … J.P. Losman was amazing early thanks to Evans, slumped a bit in the middle then led a nice game-winning drive, capped off by a great catch from Peerless Price to win it. Losman finished with 340 yards. … Anthony Thomas ran for just 56 yards but did have seven catches as well. … David Carr completed 22 passes in a row, tying Mark Brunell's mark from earlier in the year but had no TDs and was picked off once. … Samkon Gado (10-69-1) and Wali Lundy (8-61-1) both were solid while sharing time.
Bengals-Saints: Drew Brees broke 300 yards for the fourth straight week, this time going for 510 yards and two TDs, but his three picks were huge -- two of them were in the end zone and the third was returned for a score. … Carson Palmer was solid again (275 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) and he's finding a groove once again with Chad Johnson who followed up last week's huge game with 190 more yards and three scores. However, Ocho Cinco was the only wideout to produce as T.J. Houshmandzadeh (2-15-0) and Chris Henry (2-24-0) were non-factors. … Rudi Johnson turned in his third 100-yard game of the season. … Reggie Bush had his best yardage game (51 rushing, 58 receiving) since 119 in the opener and added eight catches. … Devery Henderson (9-169-0) and Terrance Copper (6-87-1) picked up some of the slack after Marques Colston was injured.
Raiders-Chiefs: Larry Johnson saves the day again with 154 yards and two scores. Just another day at the office for him. Michael Bennett had a couple of long runs spelling LJ. … Trent Green had just 102 yards and no scores in his return but did a decent job on the final drive. … Aaron Brooks started and threw for 179 yards and a score but was picked off in the end zone on a potential game-winning drive. And he got no catches from Randy Moss, but he did get five catches for 85 yards from Ronald Curry. … Justin Fargas ran for 52 yards in relief of LaMont Jordan, who left with a knee injury.
Patriots-Packers: Tom Brady shook off the rust from the past couple of weeks for 244 yards and four TDs to four different receivers. … Laurence Maroney (19-82) had his best rushing game in weeks and also caught a TD pass. … Reche Caldwell is looking like the receiver of choice for now as he added another score, this time a 54- yarder. … Brett Favre missed the second half with an elbow injury but was ineffective before then (5-15, 73 yards). Aaron Rodgers was just 4-of-12 for 32 yards in relief. … Ahman Green struggled badly, held to just 28 yards on 13 carries.
Steelers-Browns: Ben Roethlisberger overcame a horrid start with three picks by throwing two second-half TDs, including a smart flip to Willie Parker for the winning score. Parker also added a rushing score after he was terrible early on. … Jason Wright started for the injured Reuben Droughns and provided 74 rushing yards. … Braylon Edwards broke 100 yards again with seven catches for 137 yards but couldn't haul in the last pass after a series of tips and juggles. … Hines Ward has at least 80 yards in each of his last five games.
Rams-Panthers: Steve Smith's 62-yard TD was the only score in the game, although DeAngelo Williams (20-114-0) provided a solid running game after DeShaun Foster got hurt again (although Foster went for 63 yards on nine carries before then). … While Torry Holt did have seven catches for 68 yards, the rest of the St. Louis offense was dormant. Marc Bulger was sacked seven times and passed for just 142 yards with a pick. … Steven Jackson had as many catches (seven) as rushes and finished with just 57 total yards as the Rams were blanked.
Falcons-Ravens: B.J. Sams provided much of the yardage for the Ravens with 212 on returns, but you can't take anything away from Jamal Lewis, who surprisingly came through with a three-touchdown game. … Mark Clayton (5-89-0) and Todd Heap (6-62-0) were again top targets from Steve McNair at the expense of Derrick Mason (3-28-0). … Michael Vick had one of his usual-looking games (127 yards passing and a TD with 54 rushing yards) but the Ravens sacked him five times.
Redskins-Bucs: Jason Campbell passed for 196 yards and two scores in his first start but had no help from his running game -- Ladell Betts (7-18-0) and T.J. Duckett (5-26-0) did little running, although Betts added 48 yards as a receiver. … Chris Cooley did help out Campbell with a team-high five catches for 58 yards. … Carnell Williams turned in his second 100-yard game of the season, and Joey Galloway did add 64 yards and a score. He bobbled another pass in the end zone that landed in the hands of Anthony Becht for his score.
Titans-Eagles: Donovan McNabb injured his knee in the first half, and Jeff Garcia stepped in with 189 yards and a score on 26-of-48 passing. McNabb apparently tore his ACL and is done for the season. … Brian Westbrook had a great game in point-per-reception leagues even without scoring a TD as he rushed for 102 yards and added 12 catches for 46 more yards. … L.J. Smith bounced back from two cold weeks with seven catches for 57 yards and a score. … Vince Young didn't need to throw much to win -- he completed just eight of 22 passes for 101 yards and a TD strike to Ben Troupe (favorite tight end Bo Scaife went empty). Young added 49 more yards on the ground. … Still trying to figure out Travis Henry -- he's hot again after burning the Eagles for 143 yards and a TD on just 18 carries. … The Titans added two scored via special teams and defense -- they did the same in their win against the Texans.
Bears-Jets: Mark Bradley provided the only TD, even though Bernard Berrian was back in the lineup (but was held without a catch). Bradley was the only Bears receiver to make any fantasy dent. … Thomas Jones put in another 100-yard game. … Chad Pennington slid back again with just 162 yards passing and two picks, although he connected eight times with Laveranues Coles for 80 yards. … Cedric Houston returned to the lineup and led the team with 50 yards, further muddying the running back picture. Leon Washington had 13 carries for 22 yards and Kevan Barlow just 2 yards on four carries.
Vikings-Dolphins: Ronnie Brown was held to just 2 yards on 12 carries, but Joey Harrington's 254 yards and a score helped carry Miami (as did a fumble return for a score). … Chester Taylor may have turned in another candidate for "greatest moments in fantasy football history" as he scored as time expired, but the Vikings still lost 24-20. … Travis Taylor had eight catches for 68 yards for the Vikings, while Marty Booker led the Dolphins with six catches for 84 yards. Chris Chambers did have six catches as well, but for just 44 yards.
Among the late injury and lineup decisions of note for this week:
-- A handful of top receivers are back, including Joe Horn, Bernard Berrian and Marcus Robinson. It should be safe to start the first two. With Berrian back, Mark Bradley becomes the Bears’ No. 3 wideout, limiting his value.
-- Reuben Droughns is out for the Browns with a foot injury. Jason Wright and Jerome Harrison will get their looks, but go elsewhere for running back help unless you’re desperate.
-- Ronnie Brown will play for the Dolphins this week despite a groin injury. However, the Vikings have the league’s best run defense.
-- Santana Moss is out for the Redskins again. Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El will be the main targets of Jason Campbell’s passes.
-- Aaron Brooks gets the start at quarterback for the Raiders over Andrew Walter if you’re looking for help at that position.
-- It’s looking more likely that Shaun Alexander will play this week but share time with Maurice Morris. However, Matt Hasselbeck may not play, with Seneca Wallace getting another start.
It should be an interesting Week 11, so feel free to add in your fantasy thoughts throughout the day.