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JUMbotron Friday Huddle: Week 2
John U. Miller
September 16, 2011

The Huddle partnered with Fanduel to bring you The $500 NFL FreeRoll and Week 1 was a big success.  Each week is a new “season” so you can jump in anytime.  You just Click here and sign up, build your Week 2 fantasy football squad, and go to battle.  $500 in cash prizes is up for grabs, plus an additional $5 bucks goes to any Huddler who simply outscores the JUMbotron’s team. 128 Huddlers did it last week. Free. Easy. Fun.  Check it out.

Prediction A:  WR ___ ____ had more than 10 targets (11) last week for only the 3rd time in his last 20 games.  He will catch at least 6 passes and score a touchdown at home vs. the ____ this week.

Prediction B:  If the ____ defense is going to be as bad as feared, then RB ____ _____ will play a ton of snaps this year and make a significant impact in PPR leagues.

I’ll fill in those blanks in a few minutes. 

Let’s go over 5 of the most common emails, tweets, or forums messages I’ve received this week.  There’s fantasy panic in the streets, just like every year after Week 1, so it’s time to put out a few fires.

1. “Should we worry about Jamaal Charles? Chiefs looked awful.”

Yes, the Chiefs looked awful.  But for heaven’s sakes you’ve got to watch these games.  If you don’t have Sunday Ticket then park your rear end in a sports bar, order up some wings, and get your eyes on as many TVs as possible.  Then, over the next two nights try to catch the NFL Replay games on NFLN (schedule here) where they are condensed to 1½ hours long.  But I digress… The Chiefs stunk but I watched the game.  Dexter McCluster sported Buffalo a 7-0 lead by fumbling the opening kickoff.  Matt Cassel’s rib injury was an issue too: His first 12 passes went incomplete, sacked, incomplete, -6 yards, 2 yards, incomplete, 6 yards, 15 yards, 15 yards, incomplete, sacked, incomplete.  During this syrupy slow start by Cassel the Bills pounced on a 20-0 lead with 6 minutes remaining in the half!  It was one of those avalanche things where momentum was impossible to recover.  Game over.  Charles didn’t help with an early fumble inside his own 20-yard line.  Still, he looked spry at times and had 15 touches, plus he caught a touchdown pass for God’s sake!  I bet Charles has a more typical *J-Chaz* type game at Detroit in Week 2 and I’d buy low if I could right now.

2. “Do you think Shonn Greene and LeGarrette Blount will bounce back and have good years, or will they struggle all season?”

What is Greene bouncing back to?  He’s never had a good year.  Greene’s resume’ includes three big postseason TD runs – 16, 39, & 53 yards – and that’s it.  His longest regular-season run is 33 yards out of 303 career carries.  By comparison, Seahawks RB Leon Washington has runs of 33, 47, 49, 60 & 61 yards out of 397 career carries.  Ironically, Greene is one of the big reasons the Jets traded Lil’ Leon away in 2010.  I want to see Joe McKnight get more involved in the offense.  As for LeGarrette Blount, I was as guilty as anyone of ranking him too high this year based on his furious finish as a rookie.  For all we know he’s another William Green.  Just sayin’… It is also disturbing that Blount had 5 carries while Earnest Graham had 6 carries – plus Graham caught 8 passes!  Blount wasn’t targeted once.  Ugh.  This Graham dude reminds me of Moe Williams back when I was the #1 Onterrio Smith Nut… Moe just wouldn’t go away man.

3. “Team Defense by Committee w/ Chiefs/Dolphins duo might be a fail, any other ideas?”

Yep, I packaged the Chiefs & Dolphins in my wait-to-draft-DEFs-late strategy, known as TDBC.  But hold on, the benefit of using 17th and 18th round picks on Kansas City and Miami is you can easily drop them and pick new DEFs.  Move on, adapt, hit the wire.  Besides, jumping on the Packers, Steelers or Patriots in the 9th or 10th round wasn’t exactly “winning” either.  So yes, it’s obvious the Chiefs have something wrong with them on defense and they lost Pro Bowl S Eric Berry for the year.  I’m back to the drawing board with a Week 2 waiver claim on the - you guessed it - Buffalo Bills.  Why not?  They seem like they have a collective chip on their shoulder.  Rookie DT Marcell Dareus, the 3rd overall pick from Alabama, was a wrecking ball.  I love the Oakland at Buffalo matchup in Week 2 with the Raiders traveling to the East Coast (on a short week!) for the Bills’ home opener; and since my league requires rostering 2 DEFs I also dropped Miami for Cleveland.  In Week 3 when Buffalo plays New England I’ll flip to Cleveland at home vs. Miami.  In Week 4 it’s back to Buffalo at Cincinnati.  In Week 7 when Buffalo is idle I’ll use Cleveland at home vs. Tarvaris Jackson.  Plus, somewhere down the line Roscoe Parrish and Josh Cribbs will bust a few return TDs to help me out.  Team Defense By Committee: You can’t stop it, you can only hope to contain it.           

4. “I went with Hillis over Forte, now I’m scared I’ll ‘chase the points’ if I go to Forte right now.”

Another one I got a lot was “I went with Gore over Forte…”  Sheesh, I didn’t truly realize what an island I was on because benching Forte just doesn’t (didn’t) seem fathomable to me.  The JUMbotron ranked Forte #5!  So I guess it’s all in how you look at it, because I’m not ‘chasing points’ with this guy.  He starts for me no matter what, when or how.  Hopefully he’s in every fantasy lineup now because he had 21 touches for 158 total yards & 1 TD vs. Atlanta and would have had 25-30 touches if they weren’t kicking so much butt (Kahlil Bell got 6 “ice it” carries with the score 30-12).  By the way, I absolutely love that Chicago hasn’t paid Forte yet.  Keep dangling that $20 million guaranteed, boys.  He’s running angry!  Schedule note: Chicago is at New Orleans, vs. Green Bay, and vs. Carolina in the next 3 weeks.  JUMbo Trivia:  1) Matt Forte leads all active RBs with 49 consecutive starts.  2) Over the previous 8 weeks back to last year Forte is 3rd among all RBs in total yardage with 980 – barely behind Ray Rice’s 984 and Arian Foster’s 981.  3) Repeat that last one to yourself out loud.

5. “I’m thinking either Dez Bryant or Jordy Nelson over Larry Fitzgerald this week, whaddya think?”

Easy there, gigs.  I know Fitzgerald was quiet with 3 catches for 62 yards, and we all get nervous when our studs don’t totally explode in Week 1 -- but I saw Fitzgerald getting open left and right against Carolina.  Kevin Kolb seemed to be holding back early, perhaps a little rigid in his first Arizona home game.  But after taking 2 sacks and coughing up a fumble in his first 13 drop-backs, Kolb woke up and started making throws.  And I gotta say, this 4th quarter rainbow to Fitzgerald was the best throw I saw in the league on Sunday.  Don’t bench Fitz for Bryant or Nelson.  Bryant’s a little banged up with a sore thigh and Nelson is just not reliable from week-to-week (yet).  If you’re in a similar situation and you’re that deep at WR you need to trade one to somebody.  Schedule note: Arizona is at Washington, at Seattle, and home vs. the beleaguered Giants in the next 3 weeks.

JUMbo Crystal Ball:  Cedric Benson will outscore Maurice Jones-Drew this year, PPR or not.  Sure, it’s early but after Week 1 it’s Benson 19, Jones-Drew 16; and it’s kinda wimpy to make these predictions if Benson’s up comfortably after 8 weeks, right?  I’m not stopping there either.  I think the Bengals will go 8-8 this year. The JUMbotron always backs it up with data so here you go: Bengal-bashing has been so rampant lately that I have to assume Marvin Lewis is posting quotes inside every player’s locker.  “Welcome to the truly dysfunctional family that is the Cincinnati Bengals,” barked Boomer Esiason on the CBS pre-game show last week.  What a jerk.  Boomer’s a former Bengal who became a multi-millionaire in that city and enjoyed their adulation for 9 years.  Blame owner Mike Brown for his childish behavior – better yet, blame Carson Palmer for being a quitter – but dude, don’t rip the 53 guys out there fighting every Sunday.  So Cincy goes out and beats Cleveland – on the road – scoring 27 points and only committing 3 penalties… despite losing Andy Dalton at halftime.  Benson carries 25 times for 121 yards & 1 TD behind the league’s heaviest offensive line, led by outstanding LT Andrew Whitworth.  TEs Jermaine Gresham and Colin Cochart were stellar run-blockers in Week 1.  Oh, and they get RG Bobbie Williams back from suspension on Oct. 3.  They’ve got a steady backup QB in Bruce Gradkowski and a schedule with countless winnable games on it: at Denver, vs. San Francisco, vs. Buffalo, at Jacksonville, vs. the Manning-less Colts, at Seattle, at Tennessee… get the picture?

2011 Concussion Count:  Panthers RT Jeff Otah, Falcons WR Harry Douglas.  Both are believed to be relatively minor but both might miss Week 2.  Last year we had 4 concussions on opening weekend:  Kevin Kolb, Matt Moore, Kevin Boss, and Stewart Bradley.   

From the Week 1 database:

--The 752 points scored tied for the 9th-most in a single week in NFL history and were the 2nd-most ever scored on Kickoff Weekend.
--There were 89 touchdowns scored, tied for the 6th-most in a single week in NFL history and tied for the most ever on Kickoff Weekend (2002).
--NFL teams combined to throw for 7,842 net passing yards, the highest total in any week in NFL history.
--There were 5 games in which each team had a player throw for at least 300 yards, the most such games in a week in NFL history.
--14 quarterbacks threw for at least 300 yards, the most in a single week in NFL history.
--There were 8 combined kick-return touchdowns (5 punt, 3 kickoff), the most combined kick-return touchdowns in a single week in NFL history.

You know what those numbers tell me?  The lockout greatly affected defenses and special teams. This Wild West shootout stuff might continue for a while until bye weeks begin to help defenses settle down and assimilate what they’re doing.

Hopefully for Michael Turner owners the Falcons won’t fall way behind too often.  When the Bears were blowing them out Turner was often on the sidelines with a pained look on his face.  In fact, Jason Snelling was on the field for 37 snaps in Week 1 compared to Turner’s 29.  I also noticed Jacquizz Rodgers had 2 carries inside the Bears’ 25-yard line when the Falcons were down 16-3.  Later he had 2 red-zone targets when it was 30-12.

The biggest NFL free-agent signing of the offseason didn’t occur in that frenzied late-July spree.  Yeah, there were some big ones – CB Nnamdi Asomugha to the Jets, the Kevin Kolb/Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie trade – but neither of those compare to the one the Baltimore Ravens slipped by us on Aug. 23:  LT Bryant McKinnie.  Dumped unceremoniously by Minnesota for reporting at 387 lbs (was that really such a big deal?), the Ravens snatched him up for the bargain price of $7.5 million max.  In Week 1 McKinnie, who still looks like he’s at least 365, absolutely mauled Steelers LB James Harrison early in Week 1 and set the tone for what could be a lethal Ravens rushing attack.  You see, McKinnie took over the left side which allowed Michael Oher to move back to his more natural right side.  Everyone is clicking now.  I’ll let USA Today’s Jim Corbett explain what happened Sunday: “On the game's first play from scrimmage, McKinnie, tight end Ed Dickson, left guard Ben Grubbs, and fullback Vonta Leach rumbled around the left side on first-and-10 from the Baltimore 34-yard line.  (James) Harrison was erased by McKinnie and Grubbs.  Then, McKinnie took out linebacker James Farrior while center Matt Birk blunted nose tackle Casey Hampton to spring running back Ray Rice for 36 yards.”

The Rams are likely going into Week 2 on Monday night at the New York Giants without QB Sam Bradford (finger), RB Steven Jackson (quad), WR Danny Amendola (elbow), and their top corner Ron Bartell (neck).  Oh, and RT Jason Smith has what is believed to be a high ankle sprain; even if he plays he’ll be less than 80%.  Bradford’s right index finger is seriously bruised but they are saying he can go.  He threw “pretty well” on Thursday according to team medical correspondent WR Mike Sims-Walker.  The 2011 season is already a nightmare for St. Louis, whose schedule from Weeks 3 to 8 is about the hardest I’ve seen:  vs. Baltimore, vs. Washington, bye week, at Green Bay, at Dallas, vs. New Orleans.  Speaking of Sims-Walker, apparently he lost the battle to replace Amendola in the slot.  Greg Salas will get first crack at it per the Post-Dispatch and I’m intrigued because Bradford looks underneath more than any QB in the league.  I’ll remind you that Salas played slot in the run-n’-fun offense at Hawaii (just like Davone Bess did) and caught 119 passes last year.  Note: Brandon Gibson (5 targets last week) remains the flanker and Sims-Walker (4 targets) stays at split end.

Saints WR Marques Colston had a metal plate inserted into his collarbone on Monday but the team hopes he can return by Week 6. They’re dreaming.  I’m guessing Colston is back at practice – full contact & team drills – by about Week 7, which would have given him six weeks to recover.  Then he takes the field in Week 8, exactly seven weeks after the injury.  Heck, Milwaukee Brewers OF Carlos Gomez broke his collarbone and missed six weeks… and that’s friggin’ baseball!  While Colston is out, the one to watch is Robert Meachem, who already played 58 of the team’s 73 offensive snaps in Week 1 with Colston active.  He played through a surgically-repaired second left toe last year and was never at 100%, but now Meachem’s healthy as a horse.  Update: Lance Moore missed Week 1 with a groin injury but did some individual drills this week.  If active, Moore goes back in the slot where Devery Henderson would normally fill in quite a bit.

Are we not talking about Bills TE Scott Chandler (2 TDs in Week 1) enough?  Would we talk about him more if he had a cooler football name, like Anthony McCoy?  Chandler sure looked the part last week.  A former 4th-round pick by San Diego in 2007, the guy caught 117 passes at Iowa and only missed one game in 3 years.

Did you see Tedi Bruschi’s tirade about Chad Ochocinco tweeting?  I’m not sure why Tedi got so wound up over Ocho’s innocent “Wow!” about Tom Brady’s performance.  But Jackie MacMullan of the Boston Globe suspects the ex-Patriot Bruschi has a “little inside information” about Ochocinco and his shaky status on the team.  Hmmm.  I gotta pat myself on the back (since no one else will) because I sniffed out this Ocho crap and even said it was “pretty likely” that Deion Branch would catch 6 passes for 92 yards and 2 TDs  in the opener, while Ocho gets snubbed.  Branch caught 7 passes for 93 yards & 0 TDs.  Ocho caught 1 pass.  Here were my exact words. “All this stuff about Ochocinco not assimilating the offense makes me feel like we’ll get Belichicked.  Branch was a top-10 fantasy WR over the last 7 games of 2010.  Yes, he’s been completely invisible in the preseason, but that is why I’m nervous.”

Just for kicks I compiled the top fantasy producers in Week 1 and listed their ADP:

Top-10 Fantasy Producers - Week 1 - ADP
Tom Brady 2.5 Mike Tolbert 7.7 Steve Smith 8.2
Chad Henne ?? Ray Rice 1.2 Wes Welker 4.4
Cam Newton 14.4 LeSean McCoy 1.7 Kenny Britt 6.11
Drew Brees 3.2 Matt Forte 2.10 Calvin Johnson 1.12
Aaron Rodgers 1.9 Cedric Benson 6.2 Reggie Wayne 3.11
Michael Vick 1.6 Ben Tate 9.6 Early Doucet ??
M. Stafford 7.2 Beanie Wells 5.4 D. Jackson 3.4
R. Fitzpatrick 14.1 M. Jones-Drew 2.1 Andre Johnson 1.8
Tony Romo 4.2 D. McFadden 2.2 D. Henderson ??
Mark Sanchez 13.3 T. Hightower 5.2 Greg Jennings 2.8

JUMbo Things I Noticed That Perhaps You Didn’t:

--The St. Louis Rams committed 9 penalties (5 on defense) vs. the Philadelphia Eagles.
--Rams WRs dropped 6 passes and the offense was 2-of-12 on 3rd downs.
--The New York Jets had an inconceivable 48-16 pass-run ratio.
--Matt Cassel hit TE Leonard Pope for a 19-yard TD, but it was ruled out of bounds.
--RB (WR?) Dexter McCluster touched the ball 9 times and compiled 67 yards.
--RB Thomas Jones was only on the field for 4 snaps in the blowout loss to Buffalo.
--Dallas LB Sean Lee had a 38-yard INT for a TD, but it was reversed to the 1-yard line.
--Bears backup RB Kaklil Bell had an 18-yard run negated by penalty.
--The Steelers defense didn’t collapse.  They just never got a rest.  7 turnovers will bury any defense just hoping to get a couple swigs of Gatorade on the sidelines.
--Arizona’s ranks 2nd in the league at 7.3 yards per play after one game.
--Miami’s offense went for it on 4th down 5 times vs. New England and got 4 of them.
--Miami and New England’s defenses are tied at 10 for most 20+ yard passes allowed.
--Cam Newton’s TD sneak came off Greg Olsen’s 43-yard catch down to the 1-yard line.
--Panthers WR Steve Smith spun the football on the ground after crossing the goal line on his 77-yard TD.  Cards S Adrian Wilson picked it up.  Smith asked for it so he could give it to Cam Newton for his first NFL TD pass, but Wilson wouldn’t hand it over without a childish little skirmish.  Be careful Adrian, Steve will absolutely beat you senseless. 
--Yes, Ricky Williams got 12 carries vs. the Steelers. But 8 of them came in the last 10 minutes when the game was long since decided.  Ray Rice is The Show this year, folks.
--Joe Flacco hit TE Ed Dickson for a 34-yard gain that was negated by penalty. That catch would have boosted Dickson to a 6-93-1 stat line in his first NFL start.
--Joe Flacco hit Anquan Boldin for a second TD (9 yards) but Boldin was called for pushing off.
--Seattle’s defense was gritty and tight.  They held the 49ers to 2.7 per carry and a meager 1 of 12 on 3rd downs.  Seattle plays at Pittsburgh this Sunday.
--Jaguars WR Mike Thomas was quietly 5th in Week 1 with 11 targets. He caught 8 for 55 yards.

“The Bills offensive line was a major concern coming into the game.  It's only one game, but that group was really sound.  The only glaring mistake was Erik Pears losing Chiefs DE Tamba Hali on the one sack Ryan Fitzpatrick absorbed.  Otherwise, he was upright most of the rest of the day.  In the run game, the Bills were winning at the point of attack on most plays.” – Sal Maiorana of the Democrat & Chronicle 9/11/11

“The under-the-radar, terminally underappreciated Grossman -- rightfully so -- managed the game perfectly for the Redskins in a 28-14 win over the Giants. He completed 21 of 34 for 305 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions and a 110.5 passer rating. There's a reason father and son Shanahan picked Grossman over John Beck, because they loved Beck. And it's because Grossman had such a good summer. He continued that Sunday.” – Peter King of 9/12/11

“You want to put 8 men in the box and try and get to Philip Rivers before he can get the ball out? Have fun defending the screen pass to Ryan Mathews or Mike Tolbert. Want to try and jam Chargers WRs at the line of scrimmage?  Vincent Jackson will gladly take the 1 or 2 deep TDs he can get from that.” – John Gennaro of 9/12/11 (who didn’t even mention Antonio Gates & Malcom Floyd)

“Maurice Jones-Drew was happy the Jaguars won, of course.  But he was honest too:  He was upset the Jaguars put him on a pitch count and didn’t think Jack Del Rio needed to worry about how much he played.  Jones-Drew is coming off offseason knee surgery and a very limited training camp and preseason.” – Alfie Crow of 9/12/11

“Bills head coach Chan Gailey revealed after the [Thursday] session that Steve Johnson has been dealing with a nagging groin injury over the course of the past month, so they gave their top wideout a rest day.  Gailey added Johnson will be ready to play on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.” – Joe Buscaglia of 9/15/11

JUMbo Sleeper of the Week:

Bears WR Johnny Knox at New Orleans.  Since Roy Williams is a game-time decision with a groin injury, Knox should be starting at split end across from Devin Hester.  With Knox it’s always been about playing time.  Last week he was caught in a maddening 4-man rotation with Williams, Hester, and Earl Bennett.  Take away Williams and the math suddenly works in Knox’s favor.  More targets.  Knox has almost always delivered when he gets a respectable amount of targets – let’s say at least 6 – as I’ll demonstrate below:

Johnny Knox with 6+ Targets
1 Wk 17 2010 7 targets 0-0-0
2 Wk 16 2010 6 targets 4-92-2
3 Wk 15 2010 7 targets 2-78-1
4 Wk 11 2010 8 targets 5-55-0
5 Wk 10 2010 7 targets 5-90-0
6 Wk 7 2010 12 targets 6-86-1
7 Wk 6 2010 11 targets 5-120-0
8 Wk 3 2010 6 targets 4-94-0
9 Wk 1 2010 7 targets 3-52-0
10 Wk 14 2009 7 targets 5-83-1
11 Wk 10 2009 6 targets 2-20-0
12 Wk 9 2009 6 targets 4-30-0
13 Wk 7 2009 6 targets 4-42-0
14 Wk 6 2009 7 targets 3-34-1
15 Wk 4 2009 8 targets 5-31-0
16 Wk 2 2009 9 targets 6-70-1

JUMbo Sleeper of the Week 2:

Rams RB Cadillac Williams at New York Giants.  Cadillac is averaging a surprising 5.16 yards per carry over his last 10 games going back to 2010. He’s got juice in his legs.  He’ll start Monday night in place of Steven Jackson (quad) against the Giants, who have allowed an uncharacteristic 4.5 yards per carry over their last 10 games.  Cadillac is also as good a bet as any to handle the ball 20 times. 

Prediction A:  WR Steve Smith had more than 10 targets (11) last week for the only 3rd time in his last 20 games.  He will catch at least 6 passes and score a touchdown at home vs. the Packers this week.

Prediction B:  If the Chiefs defense is going to be as bad as feared, then RB Dexter McCluster will play a ton of snaps this year and make a significant impact in PPR leagues.

JUMbo Cheerleader Series:

Bucs:  Nina
Bucs:  Meagan (from swimsuit shoot)
Bucs:  Marlana
Redskins:  ??
Texans:  Megan
Cowboys:  Brittany
Cowboys:  Sydney (from auditions)
Cowboys:  Ashton
Jaguars:  Kelli
Chiefs:  ??
Cardinals:  ??

Good Luck this week!

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