Everyone rags on the NFL preseason – “It goes on way too long” or “Exhibitions are just selfish cash-grabs for the owners” – and I totally get where they’re coming from. Heck, I thought about flying to Houston to see a buddy and catch the Cowboys/Texans exhibition on Saturday August 28th. The upper level goal-line seats are $48 apiece. Throw in parking and a couple cold beers to combat the 106-degree heat index, and we’re out $130 before the game even kicks off. The fake game, mind you…
But on sheer principle alone I do enjoy the preseason. All through August there are games on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I get fired up. ESPN almost wets themselves too – with all their new preseason NFL highlights to coddle like Chris Farley and his pretty little pet. And more importantly I get that fix I need so badly, a little shot of NFL medicine to numb the pain caused by baseball, golf, and tennis. I get pumped over anything and everything. Randy Moss only plays 11 snaps and catches two passes? Who cares, he burned a Saints DB like it was 2002. He’s not 33, he’s 23. Raise him up two spots on my cheat sheet! Reggie Bush dashes to the corner pylon for a score… I’m clapping like I already own him! This stuff fires me up. Hell, I even fist-bumped my wife when Colt Brennan threw a 33-yard TD pass last August. I could feel her staring at me for five minutes afterward…
One of the main things about preseason that I like is the rookies. The blue-chippers. The newly rich 22 year-old with millions of guaranteed dollars in his pocket. How much will he play, what number he’s wearing… Jahvid Best has #44? Sweet, he looks like a mini-Leroy Hoard! But the real curiosity for me is about the rookie quarterbacks. Specifically, the zillion-dollar ones like Sam Bradford. He just made $50 million by signing his name on a piece of paper. Is Sam ready for this? Those 6’1/220-lb Texas Tech linebackers he side-stepped are now 6’4/252-lb NFL man-beasts. And they run a 4.53.
Which leads me into today’s first JUMbo Rant…
How can these guys get paid so much money before they’ve even thrown a pass in the NFL? I pulled up the last six big, mega-bucks rookie QBs – Bradford, Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez, Matt Ryan, JaMarcus Russell, and Vince Young – to review their guaranteed dollars one more time. Young was the first rookie QB to pocket $25m guaranteed. Just four years later and Bradford has doubled it! And I’m not even counting the bloated, escalating salaries they start collecting in years 3, 4 and 5. This is major cheese! Let’s see, Bradford threw 893 passes at Oklahoma so if you divide that into $50 million he was just paid $55,991 for each attempt!
||$ Per Pass
Looks like Matt Ryan was a bargain.
More JUMbo Rants & Slants
** Rashard Mendenhall is over-hyped in the late-first/early-second round. Yeah, he broke 1,000 rushing yards in his second season. So did Natrone Means. Sure, Mendenhall’s a dangerous downhill runner. You would be too if you were a 5’10/225-lb pro athlete. I just don’t see anything special. He wore down last year. His best lineman, Willie Colon, is out with a torn Achilles’. Fantasy Nation’s first response to Ben Roethlisberger’s 6-game suspension was, “Hey, they’ll lean on Mendenhall even more at the beginning of the season.” Mine was actually, “Oof, Leftwich is under center for six games.” Look, Leftwich is a steady veteran but he’s totally immobile like Dan Marino – only without the scary release. Mendenhall will face crowds without Ben’s ball fakes opening wider lanes. Back in 2006 when Leftwich got hurt at midseason with Jacksonville, Fred Taylor’s avg. per rush actually went up… from 4.18 to 5.65 with dual-threat David Garrard under center. And Taylor was 30 years old!
** Jamaal Charles can't get any respect. Last year he set a new franchise record with 259 yards against Denver. He also became the first back in NFL history to rush for over 1,100 yards on fewer than 200 rushing attempts. Only Chris Johnson was a better running back than Charles in the second half of the season. Yet he's listed as No. 2 on the Chiefs depth chart. I know he had fresh legs, but sheesh… lots of tailbacks have taken over the reins in November and no one has pulled that 1,100/200 feat above. JC’s ADP has slipped from the early-second round to the early-third since Jones jumped the depth chart. I’ll make Charles my third fantasy pick all day long. Okay, I admit it, I had Charles last year and he won me a title. But I know what I saw. One thing’s for sure, you won't find a more hotly-debated fantasy topic. There's even a pinned thread on our Forums solely for Charles chat. I think he’s a beast. Thomas Jones is just there to help prime the pump.
** The term “handcuff” is misused these days. In the old days when you handcuffed you were taking out a cheap insurance policy on your stud RB by drafting his backup. You secured a complete hold on a team’s big rushing stats. Tomlinson was your 1st round pick, Turner was your 10th round pick. The Chargers ran at will. You’re covered. Nowadays, in the era of platoon RBs, the handcuff lines are blurred. People ask, “Should I handcuff Jonathan Stewart to DeAngelo Williams?” That’s not a handcuff situation. That’s a platoon. They both get tons of carries. Plus, it would cost you two of your first five picks to get both. If you want them both, go right ahead – but you better start them together. Who’s got the kahunas to do that? Not me. Dominic Rhodes was a classic handcuff to Edgerrin James. Bernard Scott is a classic handcuff to Cedric Benson. See the correlation? Finally, you don’t handcuff RBs on bad rushing teams. If you pick Cadillac Williams that’s great but don’t handcuff Derrick Ward in the 16th round: there’s nothing precious about Cadillac & the Bucs ground game that needs an insurance policy.
** Jay Cutler is going to get pounded. The stats should come in bunches, but boy, so will the sacks. In his stint as coordinator or coach of the Rams, Mike Martz’ offenses gave up sacks in bunches. I’m sure you’ve heard this Martz stuff before but do you know the numbers?
| Mike Martz Rams Offenses
I don’t count 1999 (they only allowed 33 sacks) because no one had seen this offense before. As you can see above, some pass-rushers were figuring it out… at least how to hit Warner or Bulger and disrupt their rhythm (or just knock them out of the game). Martz’ system had the same effect in Detroit where Jon Kitna put up some bozo numbers but at the same time they gave up 114 sacks in two years. Hmmm… the year before Martz signed on Detroit only allowed 31 sacks. Martz left for San Francisco and sustained 55 more sacks in 2008, more than any team. Get the picture? Jay Cutler is grittier than most people realize (he got his head smashed at Vanderbilt and never whined) and his talents are ridiculous, but he’s gonna get hurt. Maybe not badly, but he’ll get hurt.
** LeSean McCoy? I don’t know. Call me skeptical. The best fantasy running backs do it on the ground. Marshall Faulk and Brian Westbrook are dying breeds, and McCoy isn’t near the jock-dropper that they were. And did you know the Eagles haven’t ranked in the top-half of the NFL in rushing attempts since 2002? In fact most of the time they’re 25th or lower.
** Miles Austin? Okay, I’ll buy. He’s sort of too new to rate – last season just seemed like one continuous blurry Austin highlight – but after going back and watching some of his highlights I’m sold. No juicy stats to back it up, just a hunch that Austin is physically superior. Plus it’s actually his fourth year of practicing in Jason Garrett’s system.