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JUMbotron Friday Huddle: Week 9
John U. Miller
November 4, 2011

The FanDuel “Week 9 $500 Huddle FreeRoll” link is active.  CLICK HERE.  If you’re new just register for an account and you'll be taken straight to the FreeRoll -- or if you already have an account you log in using the "Existing Users?" link at bottom and you’ll be taken straight to the action!  C’mon, let’s get some new blood in this puppy.  We haven’t had over 500 players since Week 3.  Congrats to ‘hustles’ who took down 444 teams and won the $150 first prize!  He won with Adrian Peterson & Fred Jackson and scored a whopping 160.36 points! 

Prediction A:  RB ____ ____ will return after missing two games and plow the ____ for 100 yards and at least 1 TD.   They’ve allowed a 100-yard rusher in 3 of their last 4 games. 

Prediction B:  WR ___ _____ has had double-digit targets in 3 of the last 5 games and will continue that trend at ____, collecting 6+ catches and serving as a good WR flex.

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

Who is truly the #1 fantasy QB these days?  Most of you say Aaron Rodgers – lock, stock, and barrel – without blinking.  But is that true?  I looked at Aaron Rodgers side by side with a certain stud QB who hasn’t been getting much press this year.  Counting their last 16 full games (throwing out a few early exits that both made due to rib/hand/head injuries) I found out that technically Rodgers is still not the No. 1 fantasy QB.  

Michael Vick vs. Aaron Rodgers - Last 16 Full Games
Vick Rodgers
Tot Yds Tot TDs FP Tot Yds Tot TDs FP
329 2 27 343 3 30
291 1 21 331 3 29
405 2 33 396 2 28
491 2 36 444 6 52
267 2 23 300 3 27
284 2 27 321 2 25
326 2 30 313 3 28
372 4 43 250 1 18
286 3 29 430 4 39
350 3 34 337 3 31
377 2 29 395 2 32
292 1 22 322 4 33
413 6 53 330 3 31
292 2 28 175 0 9
321 4 36 309 2 24
321 2 26 327 2 27
  Total 497   Total 463
350+ yard games in bold

Sure, Rodgers has the edge this year – he’s scoring about 31 ppg in standard leagues to Vicks’ 26 though the true sample for me is always a rolling 16 games, a season’s worth of action.  Vick did miss 3 whole games last year which dents his reliability factor -- but he’s played through a busted right hand this year.  I’m telling you, when Vick gets those rushing TDs cranked up again he’s going to overtake Rodgers and finish #1 in 2011.  

Overall I’ve got no huge story to tell this week… no big, sweeping fantasy observation to share… but my mind is chock full of thoughts and opinions.  If I sound a little chippy it’s because I hate this weather.  I miss summer.  Anyway…

I’m gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it.  If you don't, send it right back.  I want to be on you.

It’s time for Jets RB Joe McKnight to get involved vs. Buffalo, folks.  Shonn Greene is holding this offense back.  He’s been the regular ball-carrier since Week 9 of last year and the numbers are so decidedly boring.  15 games, 221 carries, 847 yards, 3.8 per carry, 3 TDs, and only 1 run of over 20 yards.  1 run of over 20 yards in his last 221 carries!  In the new NFL you win by breaking off chunks of yardage.  Greene doesn’t-won’t-can’t offer that to the Jets.  Let’s put Greene’s lack of playmaking ability into better focus here – and you can impress all your friends with this one – Marshawn Lynch has 8 runs of over 20 yards in his last 221 carries!  Lynch isn’t exactly a game-breaker, folks.  Rex Ryan’s allegiance to this guy is vexing to me, but maybe he’s starting to see the light.  Reporters asked him about Joe McKnight on Wednesday and his face lit up.  “Absolutely he'll get more opportunities this week,” Ryan said.  “I think he's earned it and he's done a great job even as a receiver. (Buffalo) is using C.J. Spiller a lot as a receiver too.  You get an explosive athlete and you look for ways to use him, I can see us using him a little more this week.”  JUMbo Whisper: McKnight started last year vs. Buffalo in Week 17 when the Jets rested everybody and he gained 158 yards on 32 carries.

New Raiders WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh has been fielding questions from reporters about Carson Palmer’s arm strength. “People on TV, they're like, 'Oh, he doesn't have the arm strength.'  They don't know what they're talking about," said Houshmandzadeh on Wednesday, Nov. 2.  Hmmm…. Here’s a Palmer floater from two weeks ago.  And a soft Palmer pass picked off last year.  And another pick from 2009.  What do they all have in common besides telegraphing and a marshmallow arm?  They all occurred after his diagnosis of frayed ligaments in his right elbow for which doctors recommended Tommy John surgery.  “Palmer has visited five specialists who have concluded the quarterback has a worrisome injury,” wrote ESPN’s Chris Mortensen in October 2008.  Look, I’m not an NFL scout or a personnel guy but I know what I see, and Palmer’s throws look like Flutie/Pennington stuff to me.  Oh by the way, back on Oct .24, maybe not coincidentally a week before Houshmandzadeh became Palmer’s teammate again, here’s what T.J. had to say about Palmer’s arm.  “Last year, when me and Carson would throw [when working out together], he was always accurate, but he just didn't have that zip on the ball.  I didn't say anything.  I was just like, OK, his elbow has never really allowed him to get that natural zip that he had.”  Yeah, T.J., so now people suddenly “don’t know what they’re talking about” right?  Jeez, I can just feel that old Bungles disease slipping into the Raiders’ bloodstream.  This Palmer acquisition was one of the 5 worst trades I’ve seen in the last 20 years.

Speaking of the Raiders, Darren McFadden is still on crutches 10 days after injuring his foot vs. the Chiefs?  Why is no one talking about this?  A mid-foot sprain might mean the Lis Franc Shuffle, sportsfans.  JUMbo Whisper:  The Raiders worked out ex-Cowboys RB Lonyae Miller on Wednesday, a sign they are concerned about not just McFadden’s foot, but his active roster spot.  This is a fantasy tragedy.  McFadden was the 4th best fantasy RB in points per game going into Week 7 and now I doubt you’ll see him until Week 11 at the earliest.  But wait, Week 11 is on the Vikings’ tricky FieldTurf so they won’t put McFadden out there on that stuff.  Maybe Week 12 at home on grass vs. Chicago?  Man I’d give my left one for Michael Bush about now.  He was on my big local league’s waiver wire last month and I passed.  Doh!  Bush usually gets it done when he hauls the rock.  In his career he’s had 18 games with 10+ carries:

Michael Bush With 10+ Carries
Year Carries Yards Avg Rush TD
2008 16 90 5.6 1
2008 14 55 3.9 0
2008 14 48 3.4 0
2008 27 177 6.6 2
2009 12 55 4.6 1
2009 12 37 3.1 1
2009 14 119 8.5 0
2009 18 133 7.4 1
2009 10 52 5.2 0
2009 10 18 1.8 0
2010 26 104 4.0 1
2010 20 47 2.4 0
2010 15 52 3.5 1
2010 23 95 4.1 1
2010 12 24 2.0 2
2010 25 137 5.5 1
2011 10 28 2.8 0
2011 17 99 5.8 0
18 gms 295 1370 4.6 12

Remember my “Match Light” theory, the one about those precious mid-season RB breakouts that spark fantasy teams into the playoffs?  Domanick Davis, Julius Jones, Jamaal Charles… it’s a magical ride when you land one.  Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Mr. Match Light 2011 – Michael Bush

Pivoting off my Shonn Greene assassination attempt, I’ve got words for Daniel Thomas too.  Has an unproven running back ever got so much mileage off a rookie debut with 18 carries for 107 yards?  He’s averaged 3.4 per carry ever since while going in and out with this hamstring problem he’s had for months. Back on August 16th, two weeks before Thomas tweaked his hamstring, I wrote:  “Daniel Thomas is not 6’1, he’s 6’2½.  He’s too tall and his legs are easy targets.  I have a bad feeling here.  Looks like a nice talent, though – very quick feet for a big guy, like Brandon Jacobs.  Thomas also seems to hate would-be tacklers, like Marion Barber in his prime.  But I think he’s going to get hurt.”  These pullers, sprainers and tweakers like Thomas, Jacobs, Ryan Torain, Ryan Mathews, and Knowshon Moreno (even Jahvid Best now, sadly) that float in the 3rd-4th round of fantasy drafts, I simply leave them off my draft sheet.  I’m never going to pick them anyway so I just erase the clutter so I can hunt real value picks.  I don’t know much, but I know when a young running back’s body isn’t designed for the weekly perils of a starting NFL tailback.  By the way, Miami passed on DeMarco Murray and Stevan Ridley to take Daniel Thomas.

JUMbo Quotes of the Week:

“The 49ers have won the close ones, going 3-1 in games decided by six points or fewer, and they've won the easy ones, going 3-0 in games with final margins of 10 or more points.  The bulk of their division schedule still awaits them -- with five of their last seven games being division games -- but when you're in the NFC West, and the other three teams are a combined 4-17, that might be the best piece of news you could possibly get.” –’s Don Banks, who ranks the 49ers (6-1) the 3rd best team in the NFL.

“As a flex play this week, I think you could get lucky with Pierre.  Yes, it's a pass-first team and Sproles is there, but starting in Week 5, when DT Gerald McCoy went down with an injury for the Buccaneers, Tampa has allowed 543 total yards and five touchdowns to opposing running backs in just three games.” –’s Matthew Berry on Pierre Thomas in Week 9.

“I believe the Cowboys will still start Felix Jones when he returns from his left high ankle injury.  However, [DeMarco] Murray will likely get about as many carries as Jones does in games.” – Brandon George of  My how quickly a 253-yard game disappears into the ether. 

“That might fly in other places, but not here.” – Detroit radio disc jockey Bob Bauer upon hearing that Nickelback will play the halftime show of the Thanksgiving Green Bay/Detroit game.  A petition was started in hopes Detroit will cancel the Canadian stink-rock band’s appearance.  The petition reads:  “Is this some sort of ploy to get people to leave their seats during halftime to spend money on alcoholic beverages and concessions? This is completely unfair to those of us who purchased tickets to the game.”

You might think I’m light in the loafers but this Alanis Morrisette performance of ‘Hands Clean’ in 2003 is just super cool.  A beautiful young woman in her prime, strumming rhythm guitar… Sassy.  Whoa, check out the drummer absolutely attacking the kit! 

Top-10 QBs red-zone attempts: Brees 53, Brady 50, Vick 39, Stafford 39, Schaub 39, Newton 37, Ryan 36, Romo 35, Rodgers 32, Hasselbeck 32.

Top-10 RBs red-zone rushes: Gore 31, Turner 29, Peterson 27, McCoy 26, Benson 26 (despite missing a game), Foster 24 (despite missing 2 games), B. Green-Ellis 23, Tolbert 23, Fred Jackson 22, Ray Rice 21.

Top-10 WRs red-zone targets: Welker 13, Megatron 12, Burress 11, R. White 11, B. Marshall 11, D. Branch 10, Boldin 10, Colston 9 (despite missing 3 games), L. Naanee 9, Garcon 9.

Top-10 TEs red-zone targets: Graham 14, Daniels 11, Hernandez 10 (despite missing 2 games), Chandler 10, Pettigrew 10, Celek 9, Witten 9, Gonzalez 9, Gronkowski 9, Gresham 8 (despite missing 1 game).

Raiders K Sebastian Janikowski (hamstring) has yet to kick in practice this week to test that Grade II hamstring pull. He is expected to try and kick Saturday so the team can decide if they want to sign another kicker for Week 9.  It sounds crazy but fantasy owners have really missed this kicker.  He was launching moon shots before he got hurt.  Janikowski was the #1 fantasy kicker by a wide margin after five games, especially in distance-FG leagues where his 50-yarders (including a 63-yarder!) were flooding the box scores.

It’s too bad Chargers RB Curtis Brinkley (concussion) will miss this game vs. Green Bay.  He gave me a jolt Monday night, totally passed my eye test: 5’9”, runs behind his pads, one cut and go, lets his instinct be the guide.  Ryan Mathews does none of these things in my opinion… and always gets hurt too.  Mathews (groin) didn’t practice this week and will miss Week 9.  Mike Tolbert (hand/hamstring) practiced in full all week.  He’s one of my favorite NFL players because he lifts his teammates up around him.  Tolbert will get 20+ total touches vs. the Packers.  Believe it.

JUMbo Gamble QB of the Week:

Sam Bradford at Arizona.  I know he’s missed two games and I know his ankle is probably a purple mess and I know he hasn’t practiced much – if at all – but if you have Matthew Stafford or Cam Newton on bye this week, Bradford’s your guy.’s Jason La Canfora after Thursday’s practice:  “Bradford, battling a high ankle sprain for a third straight week, was feeling a little bit better Thursday, and he hopes to practice at least in some capacity Friday.  Based on that progress, the Rams are leaving open the possibility that Bradford makes his return this Sunday.”  Look, I know some of you are rolling with Matt Schaub (vs. Cleveland) or Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. NYJ), but man if this fantasy analyst ever had a gut feeling it’s now.  Sam Bradford.  Not just this week, for the next 4 weeks at Arizona, at Cleveland, vs. Seattle, vs. Arizona.  It’s fantasy destiny that Brandon Lloyd is a Ram and that all things should come together for this competitive young man.

JUMbo Gamble of the Week II:

Raiders RB Taiwan Jones vs. Denver.  If Darren McFadden is out for as long as I think he is, Oakland won’t let Michael Bush get too crazy and run himself into the ground.  18-22 carries at most, which could leave 6-8 for Jones in this offense.  Not to mention receptions, where Jones could see 3-5 targets on 3rd downs.  JUMbo Bio:  Jones is a burner/slasher from Eastern Washington who won 2010 Big Sky Co-Offensive Player of the Year, averaging 201.8 all-purpose yards per game.  Rob Rang of compared Jones to Jamaal Charles.

JUMbo Flex of the Week:

BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. NYG.  Last week the Patriots went too pass-happy – even by their standards – with Brady dropping back to pass on 18 of 21 first-down plays. He threw incomplete 7 times and was sacked twice.  They were in 2nd and long quite a bit and it framed the perfect scenario for the Steelers to attack. The Pats only had 12 rushing attempts all day so it’s no surprise the Steelers had the ball for 40 minutes and won the game.  I think Green-Ellis, who’s been ‘limited’ in every practice for two weeks, truly did jam his toe vs. Dallas in Week 7; but after essentially sitting out the Steelers game (5 carries) he’ll be ready to roll now.  The Giants rank 26th in the league giving up 4.7 yards per carry.  It’s time draw off that retainer again and let the Law Firm take action. 
The Steelers were blown out 35-7 by the Ravens in Week 1.  The Chiefs were blown out 48-3 by the Lions in Week 2.  We sure do overreact in September, don’t we?

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports QB Kevin Kolb has a mid-foot sprain, a bone bruise in his foot, and turf toe.  He’s totally jacked up.  Drop him now if you haven’t already.  John Skelton will start at least the next 3 games, probably 5 or 6.  Last year he pulled out a couple lucky wins vs. Denver and Dallas despite completing 42% of his passes in those wins.  He’s awful.  Skelton ranked 33rd in QB rating last season with a JaMarcus Russell-ish 62.3 mark.  You need to go out of your way to make sure you’re starting a fantasy defense against Skelton every week.  Week 9: Rams, Week 10: Eagles, Week 11: 49ers, Week 12: Rams, Week 13: Dallas. At the very least try to acquire the Rams for two good shots at Skelton; and if you can somehow field the opposing defense against Skelton in each of the next 5 weeks it will help you bag some wins.  JUMbo Whisper:  Trade Larry Fitzgerald now before the bottom totally falls out.  I’d trade him for Mario Manningham, Brandon Lloyd, or Michael Crabtree.    

I’ve had several inquiries about the injury to Falcons LT Sam Baker.  He’s out for at least a month with a back injury (similar to the one that required spine surgery in 2008) and Atlanta is going with Will Svitek at left tackle.  It’s not a big deal because Baker has been disappointing Falcons fans for years.  Last season on October, Pat Yasinskas of wrote: “It’s starting to look like left tackle is going to be high on their list of needs for the 2011 draft.”  And this week a homer named ‘Farmer2’ posted this on the message boards: “Typically I'd go nuts over losing our starting LT, but I just breathed a sigh of relief.  I'm guessing so did Matt Ryan.” I won’t pretend to know much about Will Svitek but I have read that he’s a solid professional. He signed with Atlanta in 2009 and they liked him enough to re-up at 2 years, $3.1 million.  That’s good money for a backup offensive lineman.  Bottom line, if you read some fantasy hack writing about how the Falcons are doomed without Sam Baker just copy-and-paste this clip for them.  JUMbo Whisper:  Roddy White did indeed have a “bothersome leg injury” for the first 8 weeks; as I was just told by a pal who works for the Falcons headquarters in Flowery Branch.  He said the bye week was “heaven-sent” for Roddy. His next 5 games: Colts (ranked 29th vs. fantasy WRs), Saints (19th), Titans (4th), Vikings (26th), Texans (14th).  All of them indoors.    

I’ve bagged on Sidney Rice for a while now.  C’mon, wasn’t it convenient that his “hip injury” healed up last year around Week 10, just in time to accrue toward free agency?  But hey, you gotta collect when and where ya can.  Minnesota didn’t have the cap room to pay him anyway.  So Rice entered the market in 2011 and sacked a 5-year, $41 million deal from Seattle with $18 million guaranteed.  Nice Cheddar!  And lately I have to say, Rice is worth every penny.  Despite being saddled with Charlie Whitehurst and Tarvaris Jackson he’s making plays.  After missing the first two weeks with a legitimate (I’m pretty sure) shoulder injury, Rice has been the 23rd best fantasy WR in ppg over his 5 contests.  He’s a legitimate weekly WR2 with upside.  Last week vs. Cincy he caught 7 passes for 102 yards – and just missed a 7-yard TD when he couldn’t get both feet down in the back of the end zone.  Rice was targeted 14 times, and if you give him that TD plus a couple uncharacteristic drops and he’s in the 10-130-1 range against a stout Bengals defense.

The Chris Johnson Chronicles, Part II:  Okay, okay, I came down real hard on CJ in my Under The Numbers column on Tuesday but I’d like to add one more thing… sort of play the devil’s advocate.  First, NFL Network’s Sterling Sharpe watched a lot of film on Chris Johnson this week.  “They’re giving him opportunities,” Sharpe said Wednesday.  “The Chris Johnson that we’re used to seeing, I don’t know why we’re not seeing him.  I can’t put my finger on it, and when you talk to the Tennessee Titans, they don’t know what it is either.  Usually, when he got one on one, he could make a guy miss and it was going to be electric.  Now he’s just curling up in a ball and looking for the softest spot on the field to lay down.”  Now, here’s my take.  Chris Johnson is a proud guy who has played hurt before without telling anyone.  After last season’s so-so (compared to his 2009 All-World numbers) year with 1,364 rushing yards and 12 TDs, Johnson whispered to the Tennessean’s Jim Wyatt in January that he played through a thigh injury for about 6 weeks.  My point is, usually when a player – especially a running back – is so obviously underperforming to the point where expert analysts like Sterling Sharpe say “I can’t put my finger on it” – it means there’s an injury.  Something subtle but nagging like back spasms, damaged meniscus, or a strained abdomen.  Remember when Matt Forte busted out of nowhere his rookie year with a top-3 fantasy ranking and then we all took him in the 1st round with eager lust?  Forte’s 2009 was a sticky, infuriating mess with 929 rushing yards and 4 TDs… even though he never missed a game.  He just never got going.  Sound familiar?  Sure enough, Forte had knee surgery when the season was over

Danny Ware is in for Ahmad Bradshaw (cracked foot) at least this week, maybe a couple more weeks, though I suspect Bradshaw’s “crack” sounds worse than it is.  He played through this injury on both feet for the better part of two full seasons – and now it’s just the surgically-inserted screw that’s poking or something (?).  Is Ware a flex candidate at New England?  I think you can do better elsewhere.  Mike Garafolo of the Star-Ledger says Brandon Jacobs (knee) is feeling better and set to carry the load.  Besides, whenever Ware gets a handful of carries he tends to underwhelm: A long run of 14 yards in 49 career attempts. 

Andre Johnson is a game-time decision after missing almost all the team drills this week.  He is absolutely killing fantasy owners with his increasingly longer recovery time.  Didn’t we all kind of know deep inside – right when we heard “hamstring surgery” – that he was gone for 6 weeks?  I saw it clearly, maybe because I’m not a Johnson-owner blinded by hope.  He’s missed about half of the fantasy regular season in some leagues!  I said two weeks ago he was toast -- and I’m telling you again, Johnson won’t play this week.  Now it really gets fun: Houston’s bye is Week 11 so you know Johnson won’t play next week, except perhaps as a decoy just to try and get his legs under him.  And last week’s statement – “Who wants to go out on the field and see a half speed Andre Johnson? That’s not a good thing” – from Johnson was so telling.  You have to read the tea leaves when they’re flashed in front of you.  Steer the car and avoid the potholes before it’s too late.  AJ just told you on Oct. 28 that he’s still a wreck.  Folks, you can’t get those revealing admissions from Patriots or Saints players… Use ‘em when you get ‘em.  My most satisfying email of 2011 was from a Huddler named Trevor J. who wrote Monday: “Thanks JUMbo for slapping me in the face about A. Johnson, I went ahead and dropped the fool for Antonio Brown two weeks ago.  I’m living a quality life again!”   

One more dig at Andre Johnson.  Let’s assume he’s ready to go in Week 12 at Jacksonville.  Are you really going to throw him in blind, not knowing what you’re getting, while trying to lock down a fantasy playoff spot? 

Prediction A:  RB LeGarrette Blount will return after missing two games and plow the Saints for 100 yards and at least 1 TD.  They’ve allowed a 100-yard rusher in 3 of their last 4 games.

Prediction B:  WR Eric Decker has had double-digit targets in 3 of the last 5 games and will continue that trend at Oakland, collecting 6+ catches and serving as a good WR flex.

JUMbo Tunes of the Week:

Bloc Party: “Kreuzberg”  Muse: “Starlight”  The Ataris: “The Boys of Summer”

JUMbo Cheerleader Series (Swimsuit Edition):

Bucs: Jaime.  Falcons: Heather.  Texans: Andrea.  Bucs: Rachel.  Chargers: Casie.

Good Luck This Week!

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