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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Unconventional Wisdom - Week 5
Fritz Schlottman
October 7, 2005

FAVORABLE CONDITIONS

New Orleans at Green Bay

“Too many injuries…short work week…too much travel…yada, yada, yada.” Conventional Wisdom is telling you these teams are too tired and too beaten up to light up the scoreboard. Unconventional Wisdom laughs at the notion that either of these offenses will be slowed down.

Let’s start with the Packers. First, who thought they would be one of two winless teams in the NFL? Just looking at their injury report, you could make a pretty good argument that Green Bay will continue struggle. Center Mike Flanagan (hernia), left tackle Chad Clifton (ankle), halfback Ahman Green (knee, thigh) and No. 4 receiver Terrence Murphy (neck) all went down on Monday. Not to mention numerous other key offensive players that are limping around the practice field.

Center and Left Tackle are the two critical positions where not having your starter matters most. Flanagan is out for two weeks with a sports hernia and Murphy will miss the rest of the season. Left tackle Chad Clifton is questionable for Sunday with a sprained left ankle that kept him out of practice Wednesday. Even if RB Green is able to play somewhere near 100%, Green Bay’s offensive line was sub-par even before injuries took their toll. Missing three fifths of your starting offensive line doesn’t make the unit any better.

The Saints? After four games, the Saints (2-2) have scored only 68 points. If you have Saints players on your fantasy roster, I feel your pain.

Well, Unconventional Wisdom is here to tell you all your offensive woes are over (at least for this week). New Orleans turned the ball over 10 times in weeks 2-3. Help is on the way. The Packers defense has only two takeaways for the season.

Green Bay too inexperienced at wide receiver? Well the Saints will be without SS Jay Bellamy for the season and Mel Mitchell - one of their two healthy backups – was lost to a hamstring injury last week. Right cornerback Jason Craft, who has started the last three games in place of an injured Fakhir Brown, will back up Dwight Smith and Josh Bullocks at safety this week. LB James Allen is questionable for the game with the Packers after injuring his left hamstring against the Bills and LB T.J. Slaughter injured his right groin and is questionable for Sunday's game. CB Fakhir Brown remains questionable for this week's game because of a bone bruise on his knee that has caused him to miss the last three games. Is anyone left on the Saints defense?

Green Bay can’t run and the Saints defense is too damaged to stop anyone. It’s off to the races in Wisconsin as both teams march down the field at will in what should be a high-scoring game.

Tennessee at Houston

Two poor team that have looked all that much worse by starting the season against some pretty good defenses. Thankfully, that’s not the case this week.

Houston, oh they’re bad on offense. In the Texans' first three games, they have crossed midfield only 12 times and failed to score during eight of those trips. On seven of those non-scoring drives, the Texans went backwards because of sacks or penalties. The other time, Carr threw an interception.

Only one of those eight times the Texans got beyond the 30-yard line. Four times, they reversed or turned the ball over before reaching the 40-yard line. No wonder the Texans have averaged just eight points per game. Conventional Wisdom says there’s no way the Texans can score against anyone. Conventional Wisdom is wrong once more.

As bad as the offenses have been, the defenses haven’t been exactly exemplary either. For the stat-keepers among you. Texans - 27th against the run, 25th against the pass, 26th in overall defense and 18th in points against. That equal very bad if you’re keeping score at home. Titans- quarterbacks have competed 70.1 percent of their passes against the Titans, the Titans are allowing 12.5 yards per completion. Titans allow 26.5 points per game. Tennessee’s defense is little better.

Get well game for both offenses where the offense look a little better then they are. Both quarterbacks go down the field early and often in a game that’s higher scoring than expected.

Philadelphia at Dallas

A bad spot for the Eagles and a good one for the Cowboys. The Eagles are coming off a huge come from behind victory on the road at KC where no team comes from that far behind…literally. My guess is Philly used up most of their emotional juice in the 3 rd and 4 th quarters last week and there’s little in the tank for this week as they go back on the road for a second away game in as many weeks.

Dallas got caught looking ahead last week. They started flat against the Raiders and for three quarter sleep-walked through the game. That put Dallas in a must-win situation this week.

Unconventional Wisdom says the Cowboys should get the offense going again this week against an Eagle team that should struggle to maintain their intensity. Good time to put those Cowboys back into your fantasy line-up while McNabb and the Eagles take a week off.

Miami at Buffalo

Unconventional Wisdom says Buffalo isn’t dead yet. The change at QB to Kelly Holcomb has to spark this offense or the Bills season may die right here.

The series history is on the side of the offenses. For some reason both teams tear up the opposing defenses when the game is played in upstate New York. 2000- Miami 33 Buffalo 6, 2001-Miami 34 Buffalo 27, 2002-Miami 21 Buffalo 38, 2003, etc. Not lots of yards but lots of scoring. The team with the least turnovers has won 17 of the last 20 meetings. This should be another turnover filled game with scoring and drama in the 4 th quarter.

If you’ve hung on to your Buffalo fantasy players (especially WRs Moulds and Evans) through the dreadful first half of the season, you should enjoy the reprieve this week. Buffalo should go down the field on Sunday as it’s now or never for this offense.

UNFAVORABLE CONDITIONS

Tampa Bay at N.Y. Jets

Just a horrible spot for the Buc’s. Tampa Bay have to play on the road and play a New York team that everyone had high expectations for and who now struggle to get anything going on offense. A classic case where the unbeaten team tells itself to just do enough to get the win and get out of town.

Unfortunately for Tampa, the Jets have a pretty good defense. Worse yet, that defense will be sky-high to knock off an undefeated team. New York QB Testaverde may not have the entire playbook down yet, but Buc’s QB Brian Griese’s mistakes will sooner or later cost Tampa a game and it may be right here. With both defenses playing well and both offenses having execution problems this game could come down to who makes the least amount of mistakes.

In the end this will be one of many ugly games on Sunday. Tampa Bay may get the victory, but their offense is going nowhere this week. A reasonable chance for a mild upset as well.

Washington at Denver

Another ugly spot in a week pummeled far too much and far too long with the ugly stick. The Denver Broncos have the thankless task of going home to play a Redskins team no one has any respect for.

Do you think Washington is lucky to be undefeated? Probably, and probably so do the Broncos players and there lies the problem. Denver comes off big divisional games against the Chiefs and Chargers plus a road game to Florida (a state that has been a house of horrors for the ponies) and they come home to play a team from the other conference that finds ugly ways to win football games. Think it can’t happen here? Conventional Wisdom says so. Unconditional wisdom says this is another low-scoring, ugly game as the Redskins defense takes away the Broncos running game and force QB Jake Plummer to make good decisions. If you’re a Bronco fan keep those antacids handy this week.

Cincinnati at Jacksonville

This game has trap written all over it. When the number on this game first came out, I had to look twice at the board. Jacksonville a favorite against the unbeaten Bengals? You have to be kidding me!

Well exactly who have the unbeaten Bengals beaten? Well, there were the Browns, who are not very good; yep, and the Vikings…who are not very good; and the Bears who score less than they turn the ball over; and the Texans who can’t score against anyone. Hmmm, not exactly murders row are they?

And those Jaguars, who did they play? They beat Seattle and the Jets and played strong against two of the best the AFC has to offer: the Colts and the Broncos. A much harder opening month for Jacksonville.

Cincinnati has spent all week reading newspapers, watching Sportscenter, and listening to the radio about how good they are and how this is their year. This week, reality hits like an ugly steamroller. The fantasy gravy train ends for Carson Palmer owner’s right here as the Bengals get their first loss of the season.