fantasy football     JOIN THE HUDDLE    
HOME ARTICLES NEWS DRAFT GUIDE REGULAR SEASON STATISTICS NFL TEAMS MESSAGE BOARDS

FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Waiver Wire Warriors - Week 9
Dennis Leonard
November 3, 2005

Hello again and welcome back to Waiver Wire Warriors. Tuesday morning there was a skip in my step, a smile on my face, and a cramp in my small intestines. The latter of the three was attributable to taxing – too heavily perhaps – the spoils of my kids’ trick or treating efforts. The former, however, were due to my 49ers shocking Tampa Bay in Week 8. I was at the game and the first half was little more than a punting fiesta. However, if you’ve never been to Candlestick (aka, the stadium no one refers to as “Monster Park”) the weather is usually drab, cold, and blustery. Ah, but not last Sunday. No, the weather was perfect. The refreshments were, well, refreshing. And the tickets were free. Good times, my friends. Good times.

Of course, the insufferable part of being a technophobic fantasy freak at a NFL game is that you’re disconnected from the real time results of your fantasy squad(s). And cutting the DSL cord is probably a good thing from time to time. However, upon returning to the comfort of high speed internet access, I learned that I defeated my Huddle league opponent worse than a libertarian presidential candidate (I’m now 4-4 and 2nd in points). And in yet another local league cliffhanger in won 128 to 127 (both high scores in that format) despite starting Chris Simms as my QB, leaving me 6-2, in first place, and with a nice lead in the points race. I’m real proud of my local squad because while my trio of studs (Steve Smith, Tomlinson, and Thomas Jones) continue to pull their weight, the rest of my team has been a conveyor belt of waiver wire warriors for most of the year. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: folks, I play these picks, too. So let’s see what we’ve got on the menu this week, as I need a QB, a kicker, and I’m always looking to improve depth at every position. And now, our featured presentation… <dim lights>

Combo Defenses: Most fantasy squads do not have stud team defenses that they can put on autopilot for the rest of the season, unless they’ve got the Steelers, Falcons, Bucs, Bears, or Colts. For the rest of us, we rotate defenses. That’s fine. A big part of what I do is identify team defenses with favorable match ups that can be exploited based on the weakness of the opposing offense. And a lot my success when juggling defenses from week to week comes from targeting the NFL’s 8 worst offenses, which is something of a shifting target, but constant enough at the mid point of the fantasy season that I think we can take this concept to the next level.

I typically look at the worst seven teams in following six categories: (1) points scored on offense, excluding defensive and special team scores; (2) yards gained on offense; (3) turnovers/giveaways; (4) sacks allowed; (5) lowest percentage of first downs achieved; and (6) penalties on offense. I rank the bad offenses based on my own methodology, but for the most part if a team is on three or more of those lists then even an average defense is productive enough to use against them for fantasy purposes. At this point in that season those eight teams are, in no particular order:

  • Houston;
  • San Francisco;
  • Chicago;
  • New Orleans;
  • Cleveland;
  • Minnesota;
  • Baltimore; and
  • the New York Jets.
  • However, with the return of Kurt Warner and loss of Anquan Boldin, I’m including Arizona as an honorary member until they prove me wrong.

Fine, that’s just ducky. But aside from using this list on a week to week basis, we can do much more with it. For example, did you know that from now until week 16 the Jaguars face 6 of these teams (in bold) over the next 8 games?

  Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
Jaguars HOU BAL TEN ARZ CLE IND SF HOU

This alone suggests that the Jags defense, while a top 12 defense, is totally worth trading for based on its strength of schedule. The Jags’ DEF isn’t sooooo good in the public’s eye that you’ll have to pay the same premium like you would for the Steelers or Colts. So if you can trade – especially from a position of depth – to acquire the Jags that would be a huge benefit to you. And, if you are truly lucky and the Jags are somehow on waivers, you need to pounce on them immediately. Moreover, the only bald spots you’d need to cover are Week 14 versus the Colts and, to a lesser extent, Week 11 versus the Titans. Well what do ya know: both the Seahawks and Rams – both largely available on waivers – cover those needs and even provide additional options. Thus, if you could acquire the Jags and your choice of either the Seahawks or Rams, your team defense options (in bold) could looks something like this:

 

Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
Jaguars HOU BAL TEN ARZ CLE IND SF HOU
Rams bye SEA ARZ HOU WAS MIN PHI SF
Seahawks ARZ STL SF NYG PHI SF TEN IND

Daaaamn, Gina! That’s what I call options.

Now, if the Jags can’t be obtained cheaply, or if the owner has read this article and now knows the true value of what they’ve got, there are other less appealing – though still effective – combo defense options floating around out there.

How about the Lions and Rams?

 

Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
Rams bye SEA ARZ HOU WAS MIN PHI SF
Lions MIN ARZ DAL ATL MIN GB CIN NO

It’s not perfect, but both of these defenses can probably be obtained off waivers, or very cheaply, and leave you with only Week 15 to cover. Since that’s in the middle of most league’s fantasy playoffs: (a) let’s hope that’s a problem you have to deal with; and (b) there should be plenty of one-week options available to you, as fewer teams will be scouring the waiver wire for free agents as they get kicked out of contention by then.

How about the Panthers and the Titans?

 

Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
Panthers TB NYJ CHI BUF ATL TB NO DAL
Titans CLE bye JAX SF IND HOU SEA MIA

Not ideal, but certainly serviceable and largely available.

As you can see, the right combinations of defenses – when rotated correctly – can basically face one of these nine teams from now until most fantasy Super Bowls. Yes, this strategy requires you to carry two defenses on your roster, and that a price you have to pay. And yes, these 9 teams could change over the coming weeks, so we need to monitor who continues to stink on offense and who gets their act together. However, the benefits should outweigh the costs – especially if your league imposes transaction fees on free agent picks ups – because once you’ve got your combo down, you basically never have to scrounge for team defenses on a week-to-week basis again.

The New Recruits

Kyle Orton – CHI QB: I’m starting to take a liking to this king of the underdogs. Not only has the unlikely rookie led the Bears to the head of their division, he’s been playing progressively better football for fantasy purposes through each of his last four games. Has that translated into anything impressive? Not yet. But it’s a trend worth noting, especially with beatable teams like the Saints and 49ers up next. Here’s what I like about Orton:

  • He’s thrown 1-2 TDs in each of his last four games;
  • In those last four games he’s thrown 5 TDs and only 1 INT. However, he has lost 4 fumbles;
  • During the last three weeks he’s moved up into the top 20 fantasy QBs from a points per game perspective – around the same neighborhood as Bledsoe, Vick, Eli Manning, and McNair; and
  • During those last three weeks he’s thrown 11 passes in the red zone – only 7 QBs threw more.

Wow, not much there. And the Bears just lost wide receiver Mark Bradley. However, there are two overriding positive factors about Orton that are undeniable: (1) he’s improved in each of his last four games; and (2) his downside appears to be limited compared to other scrubs like Dilfer, Pickett, Simms, Testeverde, or maybe even Frerotte. Right now I don’t view Orton as much more than a disposable QB for this week and next. But you’ve got to respect the fact that the Bears’ DEF is going to keep things close every week and that opponents will continue to focus on stopping Chicago’s running game. So acknowledge Orton for what he is: a QB that probably won’t give you more than an average game, but who won’t shaft you with a goose egg, either.

Ernest Wilford – JAX WR: I noted Wilford as a person of interest two weeks ago and I’m now convinced he’s in a position to contribute. Sure, Wilford is pretty low rent as far as waiver wire material goes. However, he’s largely available and posseses significant – though yet to be determined – upside. So he’s my kind of refuse. The three main reasons Wilford’s value is on the rise are: (1) the Jaguars said they were going to get him more involved two weeks ago and reiterated that point this Tuesday; (2) the Jag’s #2 receiver Reggie Williams suffered an injury last week that could open the door to more playing time for Wilford; and (3) Wilford… went… OFF last week when given his most significant playing opportunity this season. Wilford went 6 of 7 earning 145 yards for a thrilling 24.2 yards per catch and topped it off with a score. However, aside from last week’s performance Wilford has more to offer, which should also be considered.

  • An extremely impressive 78.95% reception ratio – he’s gone 15 of 19 on the season;
  • Those 19 pass targets account for only 10.32% of all Jaguar’s 184 total passes, yet Wilford accounts for 30% of all Jacksonville’s receiving TDs (3);
  • No turnovers;
  • Zero dropped passes;
  • Averaging 17.5 yards per catch – 8th highest in the NFL;
  • 14 of his 15 receptions went for first downs, giving Wilford a ridiculous 93.3% percentage in that regard – easily the best in the NFL;
  • 4 of his receptions have gone for “big plays” (i.e., plays of 25 yards or more). Yet, despite his very limited involvement thus far only 10 other pass targets have more “big plays” than Wilford;
  • Only the 4th most targeted Jaguar, yet has accumulated then 2nd most receiving yardage – 262;
  • Bye week is over;
  • Only two remaining games are against the pass – Ravens in Week 10 and Colts in Week 14 – the rest are bottom feeders; and
  • Only owned in 2% of Fanball leagues

Wilford clearly has ability and a favorable schedule. The only serious risk factor is how involved the coaches will allow him to become in the near term. However, the Jags have been searching for a compliment in the passing game to take some pressure off Jimmy Smith. So there’s a decent chance they’ll take note of what Wilford has accomplished and give him a shot for as long as Reggie Williams is hurt, but perhaps more permanently. Because Williams has been pathetic in comparison, gaining fewer yards, much lower yards per catch, and zero TDs despite seeing twice as many passes. And for those looking for some spot duty help this week, Wilford will be facing off against the lowly Texans.

The only real caveat here is Reggie Williams’ involvement going forward, so feel free to add Wilford now. Just keep track of Williams’ status.

Courtney Roby – TEN WR: Roby appears to have temporarily secured the Titans’ starting wide receiver position much like the airman’s boots in the novel ‘All Quiet On The Western Front.’* That is to say, he obtained it through the attrition of others. Roby had seen only 1, 1, then 3 pass targets in Weeks 2, 6, and 7 respectively before seeing a massive increase to 12 pass targets in Week 8: only four wide receivers saw more than 12 passes last week. Thus, by virtue of being one of the few healthy Titans’ receivers Roby stands a very good chance for continued opportunities to contribute.

Roby, a rookie, capitalized in Week 8 by catching 7 of the 12 passes thrown his way for 83 yards and one TD, which was good enough to make Roby a top 12 wide receiver in almost every scoring format last week. On the season, Roby possess a serviceable though unspectacular 58.8% reception ratio and is averaging 14 yards per catch. Those numbers aren’t fantastic, but they are certainly good enough to translate into useful fantasy production so long as Roby continues to be involved.

This week the Titans’ face a slightly below average Cleveland pass defense that is allowing about 208 passing yards per game and has permitted 8 passing TDs in 7 games. While those stats are not awe inspiring, anyone who has watched the Browns play lately must agree that Cleveland is not playing well. Case and point: the Browns gave the worthless Houston Texans their first and only win. Looking forward, it is also worth noting that the Titans do have one of the easier schedules against the pass during the remainder of the season, with only the Jags, Colts, and a bye week imposing non-Titan-related impediments to their potential success in the passing game. As long as either Drew Bennett or Brandon Jones remains sidelined, Roby is in a good position to contribute, as Steve McNair – barring additional back issues – is actually playing pretty well considering the skeleton crew he’s working with.

L.J. Smith – PHI TE: Smith is a top five tight end so he’s certainly gone in TE-mandatory leagues. However, as a TE/WR flex he has some appeal. Namely, he’s averaging 5 receptions and 50 yards a game, and scoring roughly 50% of the time. That’s not bad at all for a #3 receiver, especially in leagues that award points for receptions. Smith is clearly the Eagles 3rd favorite receiving option behind Owens and Westbrook, as he has amassed the 3rd most receptions (35), pass targets (49), receiving yards (351), and TDs (3). Lewis also leads the Eagles in red zone passes (11) and has a super strong 71.42% reception ratio, which are both good indicators that if he ever saw an up-tick in his raw number of passes thrown to him he’s post some tasty stats. Well, as is discussed more fully below in the Greg Lewis recommendation, Terrell Owens is really iffy to play this week. If Owens can’t go, or is limited, look for Smith to capitalize on the increased roll, even if only on a temporary basis.

Bo Scaife – TEN TE: Are you in a big TE-mandatory league and scratching your head for a waiver wire tight end to plug in this week? Consider Scaife, who isn’t owned by anyone.

The Titans’ receiving talent is beat up real bad right now. With so few receiving options available the team has been rather successfully running two tight end sets. In fact, tight ends account for 4 of the Titans’ 9 receiving TDs and over 1/3 of the team’s pass targets and receiving yardage. Normally Erron Kinney and Ben Troupe are the main tight ends, with the rookie Scaife providing relief duty. However, Troupe suffered what appears to be a high ankle sprain last week and those injuries tend to linger. Until Troupe can return expect Scaife to pick up the slack.

In general, Scaife has caught 17 of the 20 passes thrown to him for a sweet 85% reception ratio, bringing in a little over 100 yards and 1 TD. That means he’s not a big yardage guy and would be more useful in leagues that award points for receptions. However, he saw 6 passes last week so his level of involvement should be good enough that you can use him if you’re in a bind (though if Kinney were available I’d prefer him). While Week 9’s opponent – the Browns – have been pretty stingy versus tight ends, I’ll consider this pick a success of Scaife sees more than 6 passes and catches at least 2/3 of them. Obviously, you’ve got to be one step away from picking names out of a hat to roll with Scaife this week, but sometimes that just how deep we dig here at Waiver Wire Warriors.

Giants’ DEF: last week I recommended adding the Giants in anticipation of this week’s game against the 49ers. Both teams had uncharacteristic games in Week 7, so we’ll likely expect to see a regression to their more usual level of play. Still, the Giants bring respectable attributes to the table:

  • 10 INTs – tied for the 5th most;
  • 13 fumble recoveries – highest in the NFL;
  • a very average 16 sacks; and
  • While the Giants are allowing the 3rd highest average passing yards per game, that shouldn’t be a problem as the 49ers have been relegated to starting a Cody Pickett – rodeo cowboy – as their alleged quarterback.

In contrast, my 49ers have the dubious honors of:

  • Scoring the 3rd fewest points per game on regular offense;
  • Tying for the 6th most sacks allowed;
  • Giving up the 3rd most turnovers on offense;
  • Accruing the 2nd lowest average yards per game; and
  • The absolute fewest first downs per game.

Hey, does that rodeo cowboy QB comes with his own rodeo clown to distract the Giants’ defensive linemen? If not, look for the Giants to hog-tie then Niners on offense by stuffing the run and daring Pickett to throw.

Chargers’ DEF: also recommended as an advanced pick up last week, the Chargers face a Jets team that is simply disintegrating. I’m real happy that Vinny Testeverde wasn’t hurt badly back in Week 6, but I fully expect the Chargers’ DEF to follow the Falcons’ Week 6 defensive play calling and pressure the Jets’ QB like crazy. It is worth noting that only the Colts have notched more sacks (26) than the Chargers (24). Moreover, the Jets’ only legitimate weapon – Curtis Martin – should find little room to run against a Chargers’ defense that is allowing an average of only 78.4 yards per game – the 3rd lowest in the NFL. While the Chargers’ secondary is still highly suspect – allowing the 4th highest average passing yards per game – that vulnerability may not matter much, as the Jets are averaging the 7th lowest passing yards per game and have a shameful 3 passing TDs on the season to date, which is obviously dead last in the league. Ironically, even the Chargers Landanian Tomlinson has thrown for 3 passing TDs.

While the Chargers’ DEF is below average when it comes to creating turnovers (only 11 so far), they should make enough hay with sacks and limiting the Jets’ points and yardage to be a productive plays this week, as the Jets are averaging the fewest points per game on offense, the 4th fewest first downs per game (15.3), and are tied for allowing the 3rd most sacks in the NFL (25).

Titans’ DEF: The Titans’ DEF is a risk/reward play this week, as they’ve come up big four times this year (versus the Ravens, Rams, Texans, and Cardinals) but produced virtually nothing for fantasy purposes in their four other games (versus the Steelers, Colts, Bengals, and Raiders). Tennessee can’t brag about takeaways, as they only have 9 in 8 games – only six other teams have fewer takeaways and each has played 1 less game than the Titans. However, the Titans are tied with the Chargers, Cowboys, and Falcons with the 2nd most sacks to date (24). The Titans are slightly above average when it comes to allowing yardage (308.8 yards per game), but have allowed the 6th most points per game. So normally I wouldn’t recommend them.

However, this week’s opponent – the Cleveland Browns – is fairly inept in several areas.

  • Scoring the 4th fewest points per game on regular offense;
  • 7th fewest yards per game; and
  • 3rd fewest first downs per game.

And keep in mind that the Browns stats are being propped up by two good games in Weeks 1 and 2. Since then:

  • Trent Dilfer has thrown 3 TDs but turned the ball over 10 times;
  • Dilfer has averaged only 166 passing yards per game;
  • Dilfer has been sacked 16 times, after having not been sacked at all in the first two games.

Furthermore, during the entire season Cleveland has rushed for the 8 th fewest yards per game and zero – nada – rushing scores during the entire season. Therefore, while the Titans’ DEF may be a little feast or famine, the Browns should be more than enough for a fantasy brunch this week.

Seahawks’ DEF: I didn’t give much consideration to the ‘Hawks underrated DEF this week until I heard Warner might start. Upon further consideration, Seattle’s DEF – which is surprisingly not a top12 team defense this year – is a good play. For starters, stud wide out Anquan Boldin isn’t going to take the field in Week 9. Then there’s the fact that Arizona’s run game was last seen on the back of milk carton. And lastly, there’s Warner himself.

I’m at a loss to explain why McCown got benched, as he won some games and brought way more spark to the previously struggling Cardinals. I can’t knock Warner too hard, as he played efficient football. And he’s still sporting the NFL’s 11th highest average passing yards per game (232) despite getting KO’d and failing to finish Week 3. However, he was sacked 9 times in those two and a half games and had a 1-to-3 TD-to-turnover ratio, which both sucks and blows at the same time. While Warner may rack up some yards this week, he’s also more likely to cough the ball up than he is to score, and he’s very, very likely to get sacked repeated by a Seahawks’ DEF that has notched 23 in just 7 games. Seattle may not get many turnovers – averaging just one per game – but they are allowing only the 7th fewest total yards per game (299) and 11th fewest points per game (18.1). So I fully expect the fragile, immobile Warner to struggle mightily without the support of a decent running game or the participation of Boldin. And, given the fact that it was Seattle who took Warner down in Week 3 to begin with, I wouldn’t be half surprised if the ‘Hawks put a Mortal Kombat-style finishing move on him before Week 9 is through.

Veteran Recommendations

Bobby Engram – SEA WR: Excuse the broken record, but Engram looks like he’s playing this week. The Seahawks have – hands down – the easiest schedule against the pass from here on out. I’ve implored you to add Engram for countless weeks, especially in leagues that award points for receptions, but this week he’s actually worth playing. If you have more certain options at WR, by all means start them. If not, slide Engram in as your #3 WR with confidence.

Greg Lewis – PHI WR: New flash, T.O. is on crutches and has stated that he doesn’t think he’ll play this week. Coach Reid was only slightly more optimistic, saying TO was “doubtful” and that it was going to take a lot to get him on the field come Sunday. *If* T.O. sits or is limited you’ve simply got to expect Lewis’ role will increase. I wish Lewis’ reception ratio were higher than 55.31% but this week, against Green Bay, I’m not sure that it matters. (The Packers are allowing an average of about 208 passing yards and 2 TDs per game, whereas the Eagles lead the NFL with 296 passing yards per game and have scored 15 passing TDs in just 7 games – only two teams have scored more).

The Eagles are simply the passingist (is that a word?) team in the NFL and I don’t expect that to change if T.O. sits. Even if Owens’ share of the pass load (averaging over 14 looks per game) were evenly distributed four ways between Lewis, Westbrook, L.J. Smith, and Reggie Brown that would still represent a significant increase in Lewis’ work load, as Lewis is currently averaging about 7 passes per game. The risks with this pick are: (1) the upside is predicated on Owens’ absence; and (2) the Eagles play on Sunday night, which always makes for tricky line up dilemmas. Caveat emptor.

Josh Brown – SEA KR: he’s largely available, which surprises me. I guess people didn’t feel like carrying a second kicker during Seattle’s bye. Whatever, I scooped him up to cover my boy Rian Lindell’s bye week. Seattle is going to wail on Arizona this week and Brown should get at least a half dozen kicking opportunities, though they might all be extra points.

Guys I Thought About Recommending In More Detail But Opted Not to

Steve McNair – TEN QB: I like him this week versus Cleveland and would have no problem picking him up off waivers or playing him if my regular starter wasn’t available. But I just couldn’t stomach yet another lengthy analysis of yet another Titan this week.

Marion Barber III – DAL RB: recommended last week as an obvious pick up, Barber is making a run for the title of most valuable backup. And Anthony Thomas got fired. So as long as Julius Jones is gimpy Barber shouldn’t be on waivers in any sized league, even during the Cowboys’ bye week.

Charles Rogers – DET WR: There’s nothing to say about this guy, performance wise. He’s little more than an injury prone bust who himself got busted. While I personally won’t be picking him up I nevertheless recognize the opportunity that may fall to him. I think he’s more valuable with Garcia at QB, and Garcia may not play this week. However, *if* Rogers got the starting nod this week versus a Vikings team for whom little else can go wrong, then *maybe* Rogers worth taking a gamble on. I just view that possibility as too remote to put any real soul into recommending Rogers this week, though he does qualify as a grab-n-stash bench candidate, as most of us... er, I mean “those people” who drafted Rogers have already cut him loose long ago.

Jerry Porter – OAK WR: in case you just woke up from a coma, Porter woke up from one of his own last week in time to go to town on Titans. Porter was actually dropped in my local, so if you’re in a similar situation he’s worth adding. But his production is always pretty skitzo, so it would be foolish to think last week’s impressive numbers will be the norm going forward.

Jabbar Gaffney – HOU WR: Everyone is understandably a little gun shy about relying on the Texans’ offense, outside of Dom. Davis. However, Gaffney isn’t doing too badly. While I would not rely on Gaffney over the next two weeks versus the Jags and Colts, he’s on my watch list after that, pending Andre Johnson’s comeback bid. Because beginning in Week 11 the Texans’ schedule gets a little easier. If you want to add Gaffney in the mean time, be my guest. But starting him is a risky proposition.

Bryant Johnson – ARI WR: Boldin may only have a bone bruise, but we should expect him to miss two to four games. While some may see this as an opportunity for Johnson to get some starting action – which he probably will – I just can’t get excited about the guy. He’s only caught 15 of the 38 passes thrown his way for a damnable 39.47% reception ratio. Furthermore, he’s averaging a very low 9.7 yards per catch and has scored no TDs. And despite his fairly limited receiving opportunities he’s dropped three passes – only 7 NFL receiving targets have dropped more. Honestly, if I were Denny Green, I’d look elsewhere.

Waiver Wire Report Card

Okay, let’s see how we did last week: seven hits, six misses, two deferred adjudications, and one push. All things considered, I’ll take it, but I really want to see better going forward.

Jeff Garcia – DET QB: I didn’t recommend playing Garcia last week. Rather, I recommended adding him to play this week and going forward. So, of course, Garcia goes and gets his gimpy leg all dinged up. I still maintain that Garcia is a good play when healthy. Let’s call this one a wait and see, though if he misses this week I’ll call it a miss next week.

Kelly Holcomb – BUF QB: went 20 of 33 for 263 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 fumble lost, 1 INT. He didn’t set the world on fire, but he contributed at an acceptable level for the bye week filler that he is. About the same as Bledsoe, but better than Favre, Brooks, Eli Manning, Dilfer, McCown, Culpepper, Brunell, and Brady. Modest hit at about the expected level.

Chris Simms – TB QB: Well, my Niners put up more of a fight than anyone would have expected in the best of scenarios. But Galloway saved this pick from disaster on his long TD catch giving Simms Kelly Holcomb-like fantasy production. (Ooooooh, ahhhhhhh). Hey, he contributed for one week and that’s all we asked for. Now dump his worthless carcass, because if that’s the best he can do against the NFL’s consensus worst secondary I have no interest in seeing how he handles himself a defense built of something more formidable than Lincoln Logs and sock puppets. Cheap hit, but a hit nonetheless.

Chester Taylor – BAL RB: Hit. I’d have liked to see better rushing stats, but his receptions and TD make it a lot easier to swallow. FYI, in leagues that award points for receptions, Taylor has now scored more fantasy points than Jamal Lewis this season.

Patrick Pass – NE RB: a deferred adjudication from Week 6, I’m not sure what to say here. Despite the usual disinformation from the Pats, Pass started the game, took a few snaps, and then came up lame with a hamstring issue. I’m willing to take some credit, as the upside to finding a starting RB on waivers clearly materialized with Pass last week. However, it didn’t result in anything useful. Push, I suppose.

Alvin Pearman/Greg Jones – JAX RBs: also a deferred adjudication from Week 6, but it turned out to be no good as Fred Taylor played and played well. Pearman was a mixed bag, as he did rip off one nice 45 yard run and also tacked on some return yards. However, he got negative receiving yards and lost a fumble. Jones did nothing. Eh, this pick was a long shot going into the Jags bye but it was still a miss.

Mike Williams – DET WR: you know it’s a miss when running back Shawn Bryson out performs your receiver pick in both receptions and yards. 3 for 27 is the best you could do, Mike? Sheesh. I’d love to blame this one on lack of opportunities but Williams was thrown 7 passes.

Antonio Chatman – GB WR: unqualified hit. 11 pass targets and 8 receptions for 97 yards, plus some more punt return yards made Chatman a top 15 WR against a very respectable Bengals’ DEF.

Wes Welker – MIA WR: Well, Booker played. Rats. And even in leagues that award points for return yards Welker failed to crack the top 40. Miss.

Doug Gabriel – OAK WR: This one frustrated me, as he performed very well against the Bills, which I didn’t expect. Then he chokes against the like of Tennessee, which caught everyone off guard. Gabriel did play, as he was thrown to 3 times. But last week was all about Jerry Porter. Miss.

Bobby Engram – SEA WR: Wait and see.

Jermaine Wiggins – MIN TE: as a flex candidate he looked great on paper, but failed to bring home the bacon. Sure, C-pep got hurt and that didn’t help. But Wiggins failed me. Miss.

Josh Scobee – JAX KR: three extra points is nice and all, but missing his only two field goal attempts earns this pick a miss.

Phil Dawson – CLE KR: he was tied for like fantasy’s top 7 kicker last week. Hit.

Browns’ DEF: Boy, was this pick playing with fire. And despite the Browns losing the game, they’re understated performance nevertheless qualified for top 12 billing for team defenses last week. A modest but ballsy hit.

Panthers’ DEF: my expectations were higher for the Panthers’ defense, but they still ended up as a top 12 fantasy squad last week. Modest hit.

Well, that’s our show for this week, folks. Next week will bring new opportunities that we’ll capitalize on and, with a little luck, perhaps some of the names here listed here today will contribute value to your squads going forward. Take care, good luck in Week 9, and game on!

* Non-football note: ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’ is a fictional novel that honestly depicts the trench warfare fought along the French/German border during World War I. The book’s author, Erich Maria Remarque, fought in those trenches himself and was wounded five times in battle, though he obviously survived to pen this classic, which has become required reading in a number of American high schools. If you’ve never read the book it’s worth your while. While many war stories reek of propaganda one way or the other, I thought this tale was devoid of political agenda or any real moralistic message. It was just a good book that didn’t pull any punches when it came to the trench stuff.

The reference to the “airman’s boots” in the discussion of Courtney Roby (above) is in relation to one of the story’s more commonly discussed pieces of symbolism, in which German soldiers pass down a specific pair of comfortable – and therefore coveted – full length marching boots with regularity, as each successive occupant is killed very quickly after inheriting them (or, as the case may be, stealing them off a corpse). But if you’re too busy to read the book, a movie by the same name was made back in the ‘30s, which actually did a pretty good job of maintaining the novel’s integrity.