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JUMbotron Friday Huddle: Week 8
John U. Miller
October 28, 2011
 

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Prediction A:  WR ___ ____ steps up into the No. 1 role with ____ _____ out and collects 10+ targets and amasses 100+ receiving yards in a wild one at ____.

Prediction B:  RB ___ ____ bounces back like a wild hellion and runs around, through, and over the reeling ____ _____ for 130+ yards and at least 1 TD.

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

Let’s talk about the enigma that is Ben Roethlisberger.  No other fantasy QB can be so delightful one week and so wishy-washy the next.  It’s always seemed that Roethlisberger delivers when you least expect it – in the tougher matchups – but sort of falls short when everything points to a huge day.  “Cincinnati goes to Pittsburgh, Woo-Hoo!”  I’ve heard that one so many times.  Big Ben only has 1 TD pass and 1 TD run in his last 3 home games vs. Cincinnati while they finished 18-29 overall from 2008-2010.  In some years he’s a good value pick, in other years he becomes an erratic piece of an ill-advised QBBC.  Remember when he threw 32 TDs in 2007?  He only managed 3,154 passing yards at the same time.  Ugh, you’ve all owned Big Ben at least once by now… I know you feel me.

To me a “big day” for a quarterback in standard fantasy leagues is 24> points.  Bag those points and your team is much harder to beat.  A letdown is <18 points because the QB puts too much stress on the rest of your roster.  Anything between 18-24 is doable and helps you compete.  If you don’t own studs like Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers you’re just hoping for a guy who can maintain the 18-24 range most weeks and keep the car on the road.   Roethlisberger swerves all over the place with tires screeching: 5 TDs vs. Tennessee (who saw that coming?) then 1 TD vs. Jacksonville?  Same story, year after year with him.  Here’s Roethlisberger’s 18-24 point variance going back to 2008, compared with Brees and Rodgers.

Big Ben <18 or 24> Fantasy Points Since 2008
<18 FP Letdown 24> FP Big Day
Big Ben Brees Rodgers Big Ben Brees Rodgers
21 10 7 20 29 27

My hunch is correct.  Ben hangs pretty tough with Brees and Rodgers on the “big days” of 24> points.  He’s got 20 of them since 2008 which is pretty good considering he missed 4 games in 2010 – and is always taken around the 5th to 8th round; but then you look at the “letdowns” and he’s got a whopping 21.  His fantasy owners probably lost in over half of those 21 matchups.  Where am I going with this?  Hell, I don’t know.  I guess I just don’t trust guys like Roethlisberger because you get what you pay for, you know?  As the table above shows, half the time he’s superb and half the time he totally holds you back.  Maybe I’m also subliminally re-visiting my newfound hatred for QBBC.  Where do the 5th-8th round QBs really get you in life?  In the new NFL you gotta have a rifleman, homey.  Brees, Rodgers, Brady, Vick, even Cam Newton.  Plug one in and chill, then worry about the rest of your roster.  Last year if you recall I tried the Roethlisberger/Cutler QBBC.  You know the routine: Massive carb-loading on RBs & WRs early in the draft, scooping up “value” at QB later.  All I got was too many good RBs & WRs and I couldn’t pick the right starters anywhere to save my life.  There were also steadier QBs available via waiver or trade that could have easily solidified my week-to-week numbers.  Here’s a snapshot of my 2010 QBBC dilemma I posted lasted December.

JUMbotron QBBC Dilemma in 2010
Week Started - FP Benched - FP Could Have Used Or Even…
8 Roethlisberger-10 Cutler-bye Kitna-24 Freeman-20
9 Roethlisberger-14 Cutler-21 Kitna-14 Freeman-20
10 Cutler-26 Roethlisberger-33 Kitna-30 Freeman-22
11 Cutler-12 Roethlisberger-38 Kitna-29 Freeman-18
12 Roethlisberger-14 Cutler-30 Kitna-18 Freeman-16
13 Cutler-17 Roethlisberger-17 Kitna-15 Freeman-16
14 Cutler-10 Roethlisberger-15 Kitna-23 Freeman-18
15 Roethlisberger-20 Cutler-22 Kitna-24 Freeman-21

JUMbo Recommendation:  Sell High on Roethlisberger after this New England game.  This matchup seems inviting (again, you never know with him) because the Pats are ranked 32nd against fantasy QBs -- so hopefully Ben pops a hat-trick and builds his stock back up.  Then it’s vs. Baltimore (ranked 2nd), at Cincinnati (5th), bye week, at Kansas City (16th), and vs. Cincinnati (5th) again.  Ship him before the Ravens game.  Detroit and Carolina are on bye that week so a “name” QB like Roethlisberger will be desired by someone in your league. 

Another theory I used to subscribe to was the “QB Throwing Late” theory.  Feeding into the outdated “Wait on a QB” theory that I also used, I surmised that mid-round QBs were sneaky picks because their team was often just mediocre enough to sustain high pass attempts in the 2nd half.  More come-from-behind meant more fantasy points, and for several years I had success picking Marc Bulger, Aaron Brooks, Jake Plummer, or Jake Delhomme late.  The QBs tossing it in the 2nd half were the value-makers.  It’s not necessarily true now because many of the current top-10 2nd half passers are quite stinky:

QBs - 2nd Half Passing
QB Att/Gm TDs
Colt McCoy 25.2 3
Drew Brees 21.0 10
Sam Bradford 20.8 3
Tom Brady 20.3 8
Matt Ryan 19.7 3
Cam Newton 18.9 4
Josh Freeman 18.9 5
Tony Romo 18.8 4
M. Hasselbeck 18.8 5
M. Stafford 18.6 10

McCoy, Bradford, Ryan, Freeman, even Romo…lots of late-game passing, not always much to show for it.  Brees and Brady get it done early and late.  Rodgers has 11 TD passes in the 1st half alone – more than what Kevin Kolb and Sam Bradford have combined for in full games this year.  Hey, weren’t Kolb and Bradford two of the most popular “Wait on a QB” guys this summer?   “Wait on a QB, Wait on a Championship.”  In the interests of full disclosure I ranked Kolb #10 in the preseason.  Holy S--tzky!

Did Philly really lose 4 in a row after winning the opener at St. Louis?  That seems like last year or something. 

SI’s Don Banks predicted the Bengals would go 3-13.  I said 8-8.  I’m smarter than Don Banks.

Remember last year when Matthew Stafford went down and everyone panicked, saying Shaun Hill had a “weak arm” and “Oh God, Calvin is doomed.”  To this day nothing gets me more riled up than the Shaun Hill “weak arm” thing.  It’s absolutely ludicrous.  Hold on a second, is Hill still available in your league?  Do you have room for a rainy-day QB?  Stop right now, open a new Firefox window, log in to your league and grab him right now.  I’ll wait for you to get back……….. Okay, good job.  It is looking more and more like Stafford will gut it out and start at Denver, but the odds are (sadly) that he’ll get nicked again.  His offensive line suddenly remembered that they stink and Stafford’s been hit 18 times in 3 weeks.  Just keep Shaun Hill in your back pocket.  Here’s Detroit’s schedule from Weeks 10-15: at Chicago (27th in NFL pass defense), vs. Carolina (12th), vs. Green Bay (31st), at New Orleans (16th), vs. Minnesota (29th), at Oakland (25th).  If you’ve already used your bye-week QB2 maybe it’s time to drop him and fly solo with your QB1 – while holding Hill like a potential winning lottery ticket.

I don’t know if it’s pro-Shaun Hill or anti-Tony Romo but I had a strange hunch to compare the two – basically just because I have no life.

Shaun Hill vs. Tony Romo - Last 22 Full Healthy Starts
Hill Romo
Avg 240 pass yds Avg 294 pass yds
33 TD passes 40 TD passes
290 total rush yds 146 total rush yds
2+ total TDs in 13 gms 2+ total TDs in 13 gms

The latest on Lee Evans… "We'll just have to see as the week goes on," John Harbaugh said Tuesday.  "[His ankle] has been such a mystery, and it's still got to heal." Wow.  Let's review what's transpired here.  Evans caught a couple beautiful bombs from Joe Flacco in the preseason but injured his foot in the third exhibition.  He was originally listed as "day-to-day" by Harbaugh.  Evans suited up in Week 1 but clearly wasn't full speed.  That’s OK, he started again in Week 2 and beat Titans CB Cortland Finnegan for a 32-yard gain in the 4th quarter.  Then his season suddenly washed out.  Evans stood on the sidelines for the last 10 minutes.  No limp, no chat with trainers.  Nothing.  I know because I was seated behind the Ravens bench that day.  Now Evans is about to miss his 5th game.  Something is wrong.  Maybe Evans is simply unhappy in the city of Baltimore and he’s purposely trying to get cut so he can live somewhere else.  Remember, Buffalo just up-and-shipped him off for a measly 4th round pick the day after paying him a $1 million roster bonus.  How many times has a franchise’s 4th best receiver of all time (behind only Andre Reed, James Lofton, and Eric Moulds, right?) been unceremoniously dumped like that?  If you haven’t dumped Evans yet please do so right now.  It’s not going to happen for him in 2011.  Jabar Gaffney, Greg Little, Dezmon Briscoe, Jason Hill, anybody….

Saints RBs Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas each played 26 snaps in Week 7 against the Colts while Mark Ingram was in for 27.  Now Ingram has a bruised heel and is “day to day”… If Sproles and Thomas split up 27 extra snaps vs. the freaking Rams they’re both going to have a field day!  Even with Ingram stealing touches those two guys have been the 5th and 18th best PPR RBs respectively over the last 3 weeks.   

Saints TE Jimmy Graham has been targeted 66 times through 7 games, 9.4 per game.  Busy boy, logging almost twice as many targets as any WR on the team – though it should be noted that a surging Marques Colston is averaging 8 targets the last 3 weeks, with the needle pointing higher.  Can Graham sustain his wild production with a 100% healthy Colston out there?  Aw shucks, of course he can.  Don’t overthink it.  The Saints are in the red zone so often they should be charged rent.

DeMarco Murray might be one of those headline-grabbing “Match Light” RBs I speak of every year, but then again – haven’t the Rams just totally given up?  Murray had 253 freakin’ yards, with a 91-yard TD run on his very first carry of the day?  Sell High.  Sky High.  You’ll never get more for Murray than you will right now.  It could be a mini-Herschel 3-for-1 deal if your buddy is desperate enough.  Besides, Felix Jones is out of the boot and could be back in a week or two.  I know how we fantasy owners are – We’ve all decided Murray is the new Jamaal Charles and gets 20 carries per game from now on – but that’s where our “fantasy” is sometimes.  He’s a rookie.  Remember that.   

JUMbo O-line Spotlight:

Kansas City Chiefs:  The left side is locked down and managed nicely by LT Branden Albert and LG Ryan Lilja who haven’t gotten any press this year.  The Chiefs quietly rank #1 in the league running off left tackle with a 7.95 average gain.  C Casey Wiegmann started his 165th consecutive game vs. Oakland which is simply amazing.  Think about the battles he’s had down there week after week, year after year!  Wiegmann isn’t a bull-smasher type guy at age 38 and a svelte 285 lbs – but I watched him vs. the Raiders and he’s helping Matt Cassel direct the offense smoothly.  2nd-year RG Jon Asamoah (3rd round pick) is a high-motor guy, as I witnessed in the 4th quarter when he shoved his man out to help Jackie Battle bust a 24-yard run.  I haven’t seen or heard much on RT Barry Richardson but that’s usually a nice indicator for an offensive lineman:  No news is good news.  This Chiefs group is healthy and organized.  Matt Cassel has been sacked 10 times – only Buffalo, Oakland, Philly, and Tennessee have allowed less sacks.  After this San Diego game at Arrowhead on Monday night the Chiefs have Miami and Denver at home as well.  Nice.  Going 6-3 is a possibility and this offensive line might just help them get there.  

“He’s running in slow motion.” – Titans HC Mike Munchak captured mumbling on NFL Films after Chris Johnson got stuffed on a run in the 2nd quarter in Week 7.

Redskins RB carries/targets after Tim Hightower went down in the 3rd quarter last week:  Roy Helu 0 carries/2 targets, Ryan Torain 1 carry/0 targets.  So it sounds like Helu really didn’t make an impact, right?  Hold on, Helu was on the field for all 25 Redskins snaps after Hightower went down.  Torain only got on the field twice.  “Wait John, the Skins were behind and Torain doesn’t fit the pass-heavy packages.”  No, the Redskins were only down 16-13 a couple minutes after Hightower left.  Helu was out there because Mike Shanahan likes Helu now.  He’s going to like Helu this week at Buffalo too.  I have a crystal ball and already saw what will happen:  Helu will get 12 carries for 61 yards, 1 TD, around 4-6 receptions too.  Torain will do the 9 for 37 routine and cause bricks to penetrate TV screens nationwide.  The Helu love will spread across Fantasy Nation on next Tuesday’s waiver wire but Shanahan, mired in a 3-game losing streak after losing to Buffalo, will name Evan Royster the starter on Friday, Nov. 4th before the 49ers game.     

Ravens WR Torrey Smith has settled into a mortal man after his 3-TD NFL debut in Week 3. However, Smith did catch 3 passes for 32 yards in that historically bad Monday nighter vs. the Jags, which translates to like 7 catches for 78 yards in a normal football game.  This week he’s at home vs. Arizona who has given up the 3rd most 20-yard pass plays in the league. Buy Low.  As I mentioned earlier, Lee Evans is a mess.

So, my feelings on Ben Roethlisberger are pretty clear.  However, Rashard Mendenhall is quite fond of Ben.

JUMbo Sleeper Flex of the Week:

Bengals RB Bernard Scott at Seattle.  Cedric Benson is serving his suspension.  Sunday is the biggest day of Scott’s professional football career.  I’m not being dramatic.  It’s his first start in three seasons and he’s only made $1.2 million dollars in the NFL – heading into the final year of his rookie deal.  You don’t think Scott’s family and friends aren’t on pins and needles?  You don’t think Scott knows this is a chance to put it on film for 31 teams – or possibly convince the Bengals to break the bank?  Never underestimate the power of money.  Scott is chasing a lot of it.  He doesn’t want to be selling insurance in 2014.  Seattle is a tough opponent this week, especially   JUMbo Whisper:  In his 2 other NFL starts (as a rookie) in 2009 Bernard Scott carried 21 times for 119 yards and 18 times for 87 yards.

JUMbo Sleeper Flex of the Week II:

Patriots WR Chad Ochocinco at Pittsburgh.  Yep.  Bear with me here.  I have a couple wild theories that point to Ochocinco finally showing up.  First, it’s the Steelers.  He’s faced them 20 times in his career and he knows Dick LeBeau’s schemes better than several young Steelers defenders.  Second, I believe he’s had some sort of nagging minor injury – a thigh, lower back – something that has contributed to his absence so far this season.  There’s no way he has stunk so badly that Bill Belichick would just put him totally on ice.  Yes, I’m sure Ochocinco had problems with the new playbook… but he’s had three full months now and this bye week might have refreshed Chad and helped him take it all in.  Think I’m crazy?  Listen to what Mike Tomlin said on Wednesday:  “You would expect to see more of Chad Ochocinco with those guys, coming off of a bye week.  He’s capable of taking the top off of the coverage… Under the circumstances of how the offseason unfolded, I am sure he had a productive week with those guys last week.  We expect to see more of him than what we’ve seen on tape.”  

Andre Johnson (hamstring) has been practicing but is it really practicing?  Did you see NFL Network’s Total Access on Wednesday when they had the “Texans Cam” rolling during team drills (not the morning-media session, how did that get by Gary Kubiak)?  Johnson was half-jogging like he had a knife in his butt.  Slowly, with great concern.  Johnson had surgery to repair the distal tendon of his hamstring on October 4th.  That was only 24 days ago.  I was curious about this surgery and started digging some more.  I never really found anything to expand on, but I came across this article where Johnson says “an old injury led to a ‘pretty big lump’ of scar tissue that had been causing pain behind his knee…”  Old injury, scar tissue, behind the knee…What the hell is going on here?  I’m convinced that Johnson’s not playing this week.  Maybe next week, but not this one.  It’s an early game so you’ll be able to make an informed decision.

Anyone know what Brooke Burke is up to these days?  Is she still married to that dude from Baywatch?  I’d like to beat him up.  Ok, ok, here’s one more.

JUMbo Things I’ve Noticed That Perhaps You Didn’t:

--Dustin Keller played a career-high 68 snaps last week vs. San Diego. 
--WR Damian Williams (head) practiced fully Wed/Thurs. Don’t forget to re-flex him again.
--Browns TE Evan Moore had 5 targets (4-35-0) last week, his most looks since Week 1.  Why?  Ben Watson left with a concussion, his second one since August.  Watson is likely out vs. the 49ers.  
--New Jags WR Mike Sims-Walker didn’t do anything vs. Baltimore but he did play 58 snaps and thereby cut Mike Thomas down to a season-low 30 snaps.
--Ravens CB Lardarius Webb is a top-7 IDP DB, the only member of the Ravens secondary in the top-40.
--Malcom Floyd (hip) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday.
--Santonio Holmes had an amazing TD catch called back last week.
--Mohamed Massaquoi (concussion) might be out this week too.  He hasn’t had a 100-yard day since Week 10 of 2009.
--K David Akers is 5th in fantasy points per game.  He was undrafted in many leagues.
--Since taking over for the injured Nate Kaeding, Nick Novak is 11-of-11 on FGs and 12-of-12 on PATs.
--Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall had a sack vs. Carolina taken away by the Elias Sports Bureau and credited to DT Barry Cofield.
--Matt Forte leads all RBs with 55 consecutive starts.
--Jared Allen leads the NFL with 11.5 sacks.
--Ben Tate is 5th among all RBs with 18 rushes of 10+ yards despite limited snaps.
--James Starks has 14 rushes of 10+ yards on 83 attempts.
--DeAngelo Williams has 7 rushes of 10+ yards on 68 attempts.
--Ryan Fitzpatrick has only been sacked 6 times in 208 pass attempts, #1 ratio in the NFL.
--Antonio Gates is practicing fully.  Every day.
--Michael Vick’s pass-catchers have only given him 641 yards after catch, ranking him 20th among all QBs. 
--Greg Little played a whopping 81 snaps last week.
--Josh Freeman is on pace for 617 pass attempts, the most by a Bucs QB in club history.
--This Sunday Drew Brees needs 3 TDs to pass Dan Fouts (254) and Sonny Jurgensen (255) for 12th all-time in TD passes.
--Indianapolis ranks #32 in defending fantasy RBs.  Indy is at Tennessee this Sunday. 
--Marshawn Lynch (back) practiced Thursday.  LG Robert Gallery (groin) is healthy too.
--Greg Jennings is on pace for an astonishing 96 catches, 1547 yards & 11 TDs.  It would be his 4th straight 1000-yard season.  He’s only 28 years old.
--Dwayne Bowe had a touchdown vs. Oakland reversed back to the 1-yard line by the replay official. 
--Matt Schaub vs. Jacksonville:  The Jags held Newton, Roethlisberger, & Flacco to 3 combined TDs.
--Peyton Hillis’ avg yards/carry in first 8 games last year: 4.84.  Hillis' last 11 games: 3.72.  Last 6 games: 3.32. (Thanks Evan Silva)
--Detroit at Denver:  The Broncos haven’t allowed a rushing TD to a RB all season.
 
A big JUMbo Shout-Out to Burning Hotels, a dynamic rock group out of Fort Worth who also happen to be Huddle subscribers!  Listen to their song ‘Beard’ for free here.  Pretty damn cool, eh?  I hear cowbell, and man that bridge is epic:  “What is the next step?  Where are you going?”  Burning Hotels is playing in New York City at Pianos on Nov. 3.  Follow them on Twitter to get in the know.

“I've done this for 13 years.  I'll steal a Robert Mathis quote -- 'I ain't sucking for anybody' -- That's the reality of it.  I'm out there every week trying to win games.  I don't care about all the rest of it. I'm trying to take care of this week.” – Colts C Jeff Saturday when told Colts fans want them to keep losing in the ‘Suck For Luck’ sweepstakes.

“HC Pat Shurmur said RB Peyton Hillis' hamstring is sore after practicing yesterday, and he won't practice today.” -- Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, tweeting Thursday.

“We feel that this is an ideal time to approach the future NFL Hall of Famer.  It would be a fantastic honor to add Terrell to our current roster for the 2012 season.” – Gene Nudo, GM of the AFL’s Chicago Rush.  Nudo just offered Owens a one-year deal that pays $400 per week.

“That said, regardless of a serious neck surgery to the star quarterback, what exactly was the plan in the secondary?  Is an evaluation that leaves Jacob Lacey, Terrence Johnson, Kevin Thomas and Chris Rucker as cornerbacks No. 2 through 5 good enough?  Absolutely not.” – ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky on Peyton Manning’s injury not being the only problem with the Colts.

“In my opinion, the Chiefs could have and should have used Jackie Battle more against the Raiders.  Dexter is a nice change of pace and Thomas Jones should MAYBE get 5 carries/game in relief, but it was clear Sunday that the Indy game was not a fluke.  Battle was by FAR the best looking running back on the field for KC and looks like he will give the Chiefs a solid option at RB the rest of the season.” – Lyle Graversen of ArrowheadAddict.com.  Battle had 16 carries (and 1 more negated by penalty) for 76 yards vs. Oakland.

Prediction A:  WR Jabar Gaffney steps up into the No. 1 role with Santana Moss out and collects 10+ targets and amasses 100+ receiving yards in a wild one at Buffalo.

Prediction B:  RB Ray Rice bounces back like a wild hellion and runs around, through, and over the reeling Arizona Cardinals for 130+ yards and at least 1 TD.

JUMbo Cheerleader Series:

Falcons, Falcons, Chargers, Rams, Bengals, Cowboys, Phoenix Suns, Redskins, Bucs

JUMbo Tunes of the Week:

Longwave: “Tidal Wave”  Replacements: “I Will Dare”  Seven Mary Three: “Lucky”

Follow me right now @HuddleJUMbotron.  This column will suspend operations until I hit 1,000 followers.  Is that what you want?

Good Luck This Week!
JUM


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