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Waiver Wire Warriors - Week 10
Dennis Leonard
November 9, 2005

Hello again and welcome back to Waiver Wire Warriors. I continue to dominate my local league. However, with Thomas Jones looking real iffy to play and Tomlinson on a bye in Week 10 I may feast on a double helping of my hubris of late on Sunday. But like Bullwinkle, I’ve pulled a few lions out of my hat this year when others were expecting bunny rabbits. So I concede nothing yet. On the flip side, my Huddle league is giving me chest pains. While most people are fretting about injuries, I’ve sustained none. While many are unhappy with their QBs, I’ve got three solid options; toss in Alexander, Westbrook, Chris Brown, Bears’ DEF, and a cadre of serviceable receivers. I scored the second most points last week, narrowed the gap in the overall points race, but still lost to the only team that could have beat me. At 4-5 it is theoretically possible that I could win the over all points race but still not make the playoffs. Serenity now… serenity now…

The New Recruits

I had a decent idea last year that I want to revisit: quarterbacks on a budget. Much like our Combo Defenses from last week the idea is to pair and rotate two lesser, largely available QBs against soft match ups with idea of getting serviceable week to week production without having to agonize over whom to snag off waivers each week, or having to trade away value players at other positions. Will it work every time? Probably not. Freaky things happen every week and a more permanent option could be just an injury away. However, I’d rather have a reasoned, logical plan with upside going forward than settling for mediocrity or living hand to mouth. I think this strategy works for best for primarily two camps of fantasy teams: (1) those with a stud QB they can trade away to substantially improve another position in preparation for the playoffs; and (2) those hopelessly screwed at the QB position.

Based on a scoring system that awards 1 point for each 20 yards passing, 1 point for each 10 yards rushing, 6 points for each passing or rushing TD, and -2 points for turnovers, the following twelve teams have given up the most fantasy points to opposing QBs, starting with the our perennial whipping boys:

  • San Francisco
  • Kansas City
  • New England
  • Saint Louis
  • Minnesota
  • Tennessee
  • Philadelphia
  • Houston
  • San Diego
  • Green Bay
  • Denver
  • Carolina

These are the defenses we want to target.

Next, there is the menu of loser QBs that we’ve got to choose from. Under the same scoring system I excluded from consideration the top 15 or 16 QBs (based on average points per game thus far) because if you had one of them you quit reading this section of the column and skipped to the next a few sentences ago.

Anyone still with me? Cool.

I then identified the remaining QBs playing our twelve targeted defenses (above) most frequently and then matched up their schedules looking for complementary fits. Excluding obvious reject QBs that no sober person would start, I came up with four names that can be arranged in the following four combinations: (1) Kurt Warner/Steve McNair; (2) Kurt Warner/Kelly Holcomb; (3) Brooks Bollinger/Kelly Holcomb; and (4) Brooks Bollinger/Steve McNair. Yeah, I know it’s uglier than a tequila hangover. But just stay with me here for a second and take a look at what I’m talking about.

Combo 1 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
Warner at DET at STL JAX at SF WAS at HOU PHI
McNair bye JAX SF at IND HOU SEA at MIA

Combo 2 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
Warner at DET at STL JAX at SF WAS at HOU PHI
Holcomb KC at SD CAR at MIA NE DEN at CIN

Combo 3 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
Bollinger at CAR at DEN NO at NE OAK at MIA NE
Holcomb KC at SD CAR at MIA NE DEN at CIN

Combo 4 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
Bollinger at CAR at DEN NO at NE OAK at MIA NE
McNair bye JAX SF at IND HOU SEA at MIA

Personally, I like the Warner/Holcomb and Bollinger/Holcomb pairings the best. They provide more options and cover every week from now until Week 16. FYI, Combo 2 (Warner/Holcomb) has given up the highest total average of points to QBs thus far. (I could show you the math, but I’ve got a sneaky suspicion you didn’t come here for insomnia solutions). And aside from the aforementioned favorable schedules, here are a few tidbits about each QB that I thought worth mentioning:

Kurt Warner – ARZ QB: I’m not in love with the guy, but let’s give credit where credit is due. He’s completing 62.4 % of his passes and only 9 or 10 current starters are doing any better. He’s averaging 257.5 passing yards per game, which is the 5th highest in the NFL despite an abbreviated Week 3. He’s also averaging 37.2 passes per game, which is the 3rd most in the NFL. Sure, he doesn’t score many TDs and last week he turned the ball over four times. But assuming he holds on to the starting gig he’ll have some value based on sheer volume of opportunity. Boldin getting back into the line up would help, too. While Warner hasn’t finished any week as a top 12 fantasy QB he’s always contributed something useful. Honestly, the biggest risk here is yet another QB switch for the Cards. However, Josh McCown works equally well – perhaps even better – for purposes of this strategy. So that’s something to keep track of.

Kelly Holcomb – BUF QB: Kelly Holcomb has performed okay in his last four games, only one of which was against an easy pass defense. During that span he’s averaged 190 yards, scored six times, and lost the ball six times. His upside appears limited but his downside is tolerable, as he always contributes. Against weaker defenses I’d expect him to sniff top 15 fantasy QB territory. His QB rating is a very respectable 92.0 and his completion percentage is a mind-numbing 67.8%; only Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer are doing better in that regard. Holcomb just hasn’t been asked to pass much, is all.

Brooks Bollinger – NYJ QB: No one owns this guy yet – available in 99% of Fanball leagues. He had a huge day playing for less than a full game against the Chargers in Week 9 and *still* finished the week as a top 12 fantasy QB, despite the limited time. Bollinger has already been named the Jets’ starter for Week 10 versus Carolina, who has allowed an average of 231.8 passing yards per game (8th most in the NFL) and an above average 11 passing TDs. He’s completing a pedestrian 54.4% of his passes. But on the other hand he’s thrown the ball 68 times and rushed it 4 without turning the ball over once. He’s plucky, hungry, and the Jets’ offense is better off with him under center.

Steve McNair – TEN QB: McNair is having a very mediocre season. He’s been big against flimsy opponents. (Rams in Week 3 and Texans in Week 5) but has been only moderately serviceable against average-to-good defenses. He’s also the least likely to be available on waivers, so to use Combo 1 or 4 you’ll probably have to start off with McNair already on your roster, or be able to get trade for him cheaply. His completion percentage is a solid 62.2% but he’s got more turnovers (13) than TDs (10), which isn’t pretty. He is averaging slightly over 200 passing yards per game, though. And after the Titans’ Week 10 bye there is a good chance he gets a few of his currently injured pass-targets back into the line up, which would be helpful to McNair’s fantasy prospects.

Well, that’s that for QBs on a budget. Hope it helps someone out there (though I seriously doubt anyone will admit publicly to requiring such help). Here are some more names for Week 10.

Sam Gado – GB RB: Yeah, yeah. Fourth times the charm, right? With Tony Fisher unavailable in the near term (“mysterious” cracked rib, minor eye surgery last week), the Packers are – once again – taking applications for the featured running back position. (Previous NFL experience “optional”). The rookie Gado averaged 2.38 YPC against a Steelers DEF that is allowing 3.2 YPC on the season. But Gado did score and got all but two of the Packers’ carries, including five in the red zone. Gado also caught the only pass thrown to him for 9 more yards.

Head Coach Mike Sherman said on Monday, "I don't imagine [Fisher’s] availability will be anytime soon," and "It's Sam Gado if we were playing today." Sure, Green Bay also has 3rd year Walt Williams on its roster. However, Williams is cousin to New England RB Kevin Faulk (out for season with ankle injury) and distant cousin to Packer WR Javon Walker (already on IR). So if Williams ever became the Packers’ featured back he’d likely spontaneously combust as the cursed Packers’ RB position collided with freak genetics. Thus, only ReShard Lee – who got yanked last week when he lost a fumble after just 2 carries – poses any real threat to Gado’s time while Fisher is sidelined.

Unfortunately, Gado isn’t much of a secret going into Week 10. But Atlanta’s defense has allowed an average of 4.6 YPC to opposing rushers – the NFL’s 5th highest – and an above average 8 rushing TDs. Therefore, Gado is very much worth pursing if you need help at running back this week and perhaps over the next few weeks. Because unlike many of the other popular free agent running backs this week he’s virtually a lock to play in Week 10 and there no major impediments to his continued usefulness until Fisher’s return.

Michael Bennett – MIN RB: Why not? We’re living in a fantasy football opposite world, so it makes total sense that after nothing else can go wrong for the Vikings Bennett comes out of no where to earn 111 combined yards and a TD. It’s almost obvious in retrospect. Moore sprained his wrist in the third quarter last week but benched himself for fear of fumbling in a close game. So Bennett’s value is likely contingent on the extent of Moore’s wrist, but based on last year’s ankle ding we have little evidence that Moore is a fast healer.

Bennett looked uncharacteristically competent last week and is absolutely worth a speculative pick up until additional information is available. While Head Coach Mike Tice was naturally evasive on the issue of who will start next week – even if Moore sits – he did speak at length about how important it was to him that players have the right attitude. In that regard Tice said, “I think Michael Bennett right now is a perfect example of the attitude and posture that our football team should take the rest of the way out.” Next week’s opponent – the Giants – have allowed a below-average 98 yards per game and a very low 5 rushing TDs thus far. It’s not the best match up, but if you’re in need of a starting RB this week Bennett might fit the bill.

Adrian Peterson – CHI RB: So, have you heard that Thomas Jones could sit next week against the 49ers? (Yes, I’m being sarcastic). Peterson averaged 9.66 yards per carry last week *and* he scored. The Bears’ defense should get the ball back often from a Niners’ offense with frequency in Week 10 because the Niners are registering a NFL-worst 10.8 first downs per game. That should create more than enough for running work for Chicago to platoon two backs, which is the most likely scenario at this point.

Though stay tuned, as the Bears’ backfield drama has taken more dramatic twists this season than the plotline of ‘Employee Of The Month.’* Obviously, late-week info could have a major impact on this recommendation. For example, apparently Jones benched himself last week. And given how he played on a questionable knee a few weeks back after everyone expected him to sit Week 10 could come down to a game time decision. Thus, Thomas Jones owners might be especially interested in Peterson. (Well, at least this one is).

Duce Staley – PIT RB: Pretty much the same speculative value as Bennett, except either Willie Parker or Jerome Bettis could foil or reduce the value of this play. Head Coach Bill Cowher stated Monday that he believed Parker’s injury wasn’t too serious. However, subsequent wishy-washy comments leave the door wide open for Staley to get the start. In fact, the rumors early Wednesday are that Staley starts and *maybe* Bettis chips some relief effort.

Staley wailed on the underrated Green Bay run defense last week (previously allowing only 3.6 YPC and 3 rushing TDs) for 76 total yards on 15 carries (i.e., over 5 yards per carry). And he was having a terrific year last year before hamstring issues got in the way. Week 10 opponent (Cleveland) has allowed 129.4 rushing yards per game – the 5th most in the NFL – so which ever back starts for the Steelers in Week 10 is a great play.

Scotty Vines – DET WR: Over the last three weeks Vines has been a top 24 receiver in point per reception leagues despite the fact that he has not scored a TD. I disregarded his Week 7 performance (thrown to 8 times, caught 5 balls for 34 yards). I did notice his Week 8 stats (again thrown to 8 times, again caught 5 balls for 61 yards) but didn’t think much of it. But then Vines came out in Week 9 screamin’ like a banshee. He was thrown to 17 times (no typo), which was the most of any target in Week 9 and he hauled in 9 catches for 109 yards… despite bruising his calf last Thursday. While I doubt Vines repeats the performance, I’ve been on the wrong side of doubting Mr. Scotty Vines twice in the last two weeks. So today Vines get some props.

Vines has been thrown to 1, 2, 8, 8, and 17 times in Weeks 5 through 9, respectively and I like that trend a lot. His 58.33% reception ratio could be better, but outside of Artose Pinner, Vines surprisingly the team’s best regular reception ratio. Vines is also tied with Pinner for the 2nd most team pass targets (33) and 1st most receptions (21). And Vines has also amassed the 2nd most receiving yardage of any Lion (227). And he did all of that over basically the last three weeks.

The fact is Mike Williams looks like he busted his foot last week. Kevin Johnson is already on injured reserve. And Roy Williams isn’t at 100%. Neither is Kevin Jones. Charles Rogers couldn’t even manage a good practice last week despite having a full month off to muster some motivation. That leaves Vines and TE Marcus Pollard as the only two Lions who are doing much of anything on offense right now. I like Vines because he’s quietly showing a ton of hustle at time that unabashed egomania occupies the NFL’s headlines, and in spite of the fact that his team is in the crapper. I think Vines makes for good WR depth in medium to large leagues due to his speculative prospects for continued involvement. Detroit still faces some very beatable secondaries going forward, so Vines may still have some surprises left. But he could just as easily whither away if Williams and Rogers can both get their acts together. But I think that’s about as likely to happen as the state of Texas legalizing gay marriage (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Amani Toomer – NYG WR: Over the last three weeks Toomer has been a borderline #3 WR, despite Eli Manning’s two-way man-love affair with Burress and Shockey. During the last three weeks he’s caught 13 of the 26 passes thrown to him, including 4 in the red zone, for 143 yards and 1 TD. Nothing spectacular. However, this week Toomer looks better than usual. Vikings’ corner back Fred Smoot has a broken collarbone and will miss at least a month. Expect Toomer and the Giants to exploit the bald spot in the Vikings’ secondary, which allowed 224.5 passing yards per game (10th most) and 15 passing TDs (only five teams have allowed more) even when Smoot was healthy.

Justin McCareins – NYG WR: McCareins is having a poor season due largely to the state of the Jets’ abysmal offense and QB merry-go-round. I’m not saying Justin isn’t to blame for some of his lack of production, as demonstrated by his laughable 40% reception ratio. And over the last three weeks we’ve seen a serious decline in both his opportunities and production. But how much of that was due to Vinny T? McCareins saw 8 looks last week and 5 came from Brooks Bollinger, so there is a chance Bollinger develops chemistry with McCareins. I’m not advising that you start McCareins this week, but his very speculative upside in connection with the new QB makes him worth picking up off waivers (assuming he’s there) until we see how the two click versus the Panthers this week. I’ll consider this pick a hit if McCariens starts to appreciably turn his reception ratio around this week or sees some meaningful attention from his Bollinger. If not, back to loach for you, Nessie!

Matt Stover – BAL KR: over the last three weeks no kicker has made more field goals or field goal attempts than Stover. During that span he’s been a top 6 kicker and is available in about 41% of Fanball leagues. Stover is also still pretty good at long range kicks, as 6 of his 16 field goals were for 40 or more yards. Bottom line, he’s one of the only parts of the Ravens’ offense that’s getting it done right now, as he has accounted for 55 of Baltimore’s 97 total points (56.7%) this season. He’s a great bye week filler or a potential upgrade if your regular kicker is doing little more than pounding sand.

Veteran Recommendations

Kyle Orton – CHI QB: If Chris Simms can be moderately useful against my Niners, so can Orton. Orton burned me last week, but he makes for a decent desperation play in Week 10 if you’ve got no other options. He shouldn’t be called upon to make many risky passes, but he’s scored in his last five games and there is not reason to believe that’s going to change.

Kelly Holcomb – BUF QB: Combo or not, Holcomb is a serviceable fill-in QB this week against the Chiefs, who are allowing 260.6 passing yards per game (2nd most in the NFL), have allowed 16 passing TDs (only 2 teams have allowed more), and logged only 14 INTs (only 5 teams have fewer). Holcomb should have a decent day for fantasy purposes because even without Priest Holmes the Chiefs will put some points on the Bills and Buffalo probably won’t be able to abandon their passing game.

Ernest Wilford – JAX WR: Umm, yeah. Over the last five weeks, which included a bye, Wilford has:

  • seen a steady increase pass targets (1, 2, 6, then 7);
  • has scored 3 TDs – only Harrison and Steve Smith have scored more during that span;
  • averaged 20 yards per catch – only Kevin Curtis and Justin McCareins have a higher average over the same span;
  • has accumulated 260 receiving yards – tied with Burress for 20th most; and
  • has forged an unbelievable 81.25% reception ratio, which is not typically seen outside of tight ends and pass catching running backs.

Other miscellaneous points worth noting:

  • Despite very limited activity, he has 4 receiving TDs on the season. Only 14 NFL pass targets have more, most of whom have substantially more than Wilford’s 19 total receptions;
  • 18 of his 19 receptions have been for first downs, which makes for a near-perfect 94.7% in that regard;
  • 6 of his 19 receptions have been “big plays” for 25 yards or more;
  • Wilford has officially been moved up to the #2 WR on the Jags’ depth chart; and
  • Jacksonville’s schedule going forward isn’t bad at all once they get past Baltimore this week.

If Wilford can put up decent stats against the Ravens this week, he’ll officially be an every week starter in small and medium sized leagues. In large leagues, he already is.

Alvin Pearman/Greg Jones – JAX RB: I called this pick a miss last week, perhaps prematurely: Fred Taylor reinjured his bone bruise and couldn’t finish Week 9’s game. Taylor remains optimistic he’ll play versus the Ravens in Week 10. However, he’s been routinely optimistic about his availability even when he hasn’t played, so Taylor’s word on the matter means little. At this point if you own Taylor you simply have to handcuff him, if you haven’t done so already.

I maintain that Jones is the more valuable back to own in leagues that do NOT award points for receptions. Jones saw zero targets in the passing game last week, but had 7 carries (including three in the red zone) for 27 yards and a TD.

And I maintain that Pearman is equally or possibly even more valuable in leagues that DO award points for receptions, as he saw five passes (2nd most last week, tied with Jimmy Smith) and caught all five for 34 yards. Pearman also ran the ball twice for 7 yards. And Pearman is still returning punts, if you care about that.

Jacksonville’s remaining opponents have, on a combined average basis, given up about the 5th most fantasy points to running backs thus far. So whoever is rushing for the Jags has a real nice schedule to look forward to.

Combo DEF #1 Jaguars and Seahawks/Rams: This week the Jags should do fine against Baltimore.

Combo DEF #2 –Lions and Rams: This week it’s the Lions versus Arizona.

Combo DEF #3 – Panthers and Titans: this week it’s the Panthers versus the Jets.

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

Kyle Boller – BAL QB: Boller went 15 of 23 completing a tasty 65.2% of his passes back in Week 1 against the Colts’ much-improved DEF before he got taken man-handled. Last season was not a good one for Boller, so he’s got no track record of strong performance and expectations are understandably low. However, he’s once again the starter for Baltimore and Ravens’ fans are no doubt crossing their fingers and praying that Boller somehow kick starts one of 2005’s worst offenses. Faith is a good thing but actual ability is generally preferred. This week’s tilt with the Jags should provide some indication if Boller has even a glimmer. But aside from ability, weakness of opponent can create fantasy value. And Baltimore faces Houston, Denver, Green Bay, and Minnesota in Weeks 13 through 16, respectively and (as detailed above) each of those defenses is in the top 12 for giving up points to opposing passers. While you’d have to have a gun to your head to rely on Boller during the fantasy play offs, *if* he shocks the football community and steps it up going forward he could serve as a “break glass in case of emergency” type of back up. But let’s see what he does in Week 10 before we get ahead of ourselves.

J.J. Arrington – ARZ RB: I’m hurtin’ for a #2 RB this week in my local and noticed Arrington had his best game of the year last week. So I figured I might take a chance and cue him up in case my other choices didn’t pan out. However, Sunday night rumor leaked about a possible shoulder injury. That news has since been confirmed (sprain), however the severity is unknown as of Tuesday night. Thus, I can’t recommend adding or playing Arrington right now. However, if the sprain turns out to be nothing then I like his chances to contribute modest production this week versus the Lions, though he’s clearly more valuable in point per reception leagues.

Jonathan Wells – HOU RB: even if Dom. Davis sits in Week 10 the poor Texans are going to get suffocated by the Colts, who will surely focus on extending their undefeated streak and, secondarily, getting the game over with as fast as possible. Unless you’re a Davis owner looking to handcuff, Wells doesn’t look particularly appealing at the moment.

Cedric Benson – CHI RB: If Thomas Jones sits next week (aggravated bruised ribs) – and you’ve still got Benson on your roster – you’ve simply got to play him against the 49ers. Your other options would have to be bullet proof not to. But you shouldn’t need my help figuring that out.

Reggie Brown – PHI WR: Assuming he didn’t get picked up late last week, he’ll surely be on everyone’s radar screen now that: (1) it’s official that T.O. will not play for the Eagles again this year; and (2) Brown produced right out of the box. Week 11’s opponent (Dallas) is defending the pass well this year. However, Brown’s value could easily extend throughout the duration of the 2005 season, so don’t let this week’s match up be a dissuading factor in snagging him if he’s still available.

Bryant Johnson – ARI WR: I still don’t like this guy. He drops passes, commits penalties, will likely see a reduced role when Bolding returns, and produces better when Warner is under center, which makes his value more volatile than a bi-polar Bridezilla. However, by sheer quantity of passes thrown his way he does possess starting value this week. He saw 10 passes last week; only 5 pass targets saw more and there is not reason to believe Week 11 will be any different.

Doug Jolley – NYJ TE: Chris Baker broke his ankle and is d-o-n-e. If you’re desperate for a starting tight end for the rest of the season, Jolley has the skills. The larger question is whether he’ll have any significant opportunity. He’s clearly built for pass catching, but the Jets could hold him back to protect Bollinger from getting impaled by a defensive back, like his two predecessors.

Chris Cooley – WAS TE: Targeted 9 times last week, including twice in the red zone. Caught 7 of those passes for 85 yards leading all Redskin receivers. He’s back to being an every-week starter in TE-mandatory leagues and is also a viable TE/WR flex player. Week 10 opponent – Tampa Bay – is stingy versus tight ends, though. So while I do not recommend starting him as a TE/WR flex this week, I still think he makes for decent bench depth to be used later on.

The Waiver Wire Report Card

Combo DEF Watch:

Jaguars and Seahawks (or Rams): This week the Jags finished around the 8th best fantasy DEF last week. Hit. Though, the Seahawks did great, too.

Lions and Rams: The Lions were recommended for this week and put forth a somewhat disappointing, average performance: 1 turnover and 3 sacks. However, they did outplay a dozen other defenses and only a few surprising waiver wire defense candidates (Vikings and Saints) performed better in Week 9. Tiny hit, bordering on push. However, they outplayed the likes of the Chargers, Ravens, Jets, and Bucs, which tips the scales.

Panthers and Titans: Carolina turned out to be the better play but Tennessee still contributed about the same as the Lions. Which is to say they were better than the Chargers, Ravens, Jets, and Bucs, etc. Tiny hit.

Kyle Orton – CHI: Miss. I played Orton out of desperation hoping he’d have less downside than Dilfer. I got that wrong, but I still won. I’m not sure why the Bears wanted him to air the ball out so much, as his long ball isn’t very accurate. Though, the Bears also won and Orton is doing enough to deserve some respect.

Earnest Wilford – JAX WR: Hit. Sadly, Wilford was used against me last week in my local. So watching Wilford’s success was bitter sweet.

Courtney Roby – TEN WR: Dude, where’d you go? Six pass targets and you only catch one ball? I picked up Roby last week in attempt to end my never-ending quest for a more productive WR in my Huddle league. With the Titans on a bye this week, my quest continues. Miss.

L.J. Smith – PHI TE: 1 catch then knocked out with a concussion. Aargh. Miss.

Bo Scaife – TEN TE: Of all my picks I was hoping most of all that Scaife would be a hit because he was an obscure and unique recommendation last week. He went 5 of 8 for 59 yards and was more highly recommended in leagues that award points for receptions. And he was the 9th most productive tight end in such leagues last week. Hit.

Giants’ DEF : Roughly the best fantasy DEF last week. Big, big hit.

Chargers’ DEF: Not a huge miss, but a miss nonetheless. I expected better things from this squad. They didn’t totally abandon you, but they were kind of in the bottom third last week, as far as fantasy production goes. We can blame Brooks Bollinger for the failure of this pick… %*&!)#+@ little punk.

Seahawks’ DEF: Easily a top 6 fantasy DEF last week. Nice hit, as Warner turned the ball over more than he scored (as predicted) and was sacked repeatedly (as predicted).

Bobby Engram – SEA WR: I played him, for what’s it worth. However, don’t freak out about Engram’s lack of production. Last week was all about Alexander and no other pass target was much more involved than Engram. It’s a miss for last week but I still love Engram’s value for the rest of the season.

Greg Lewis – PHI WR: Of the two, Reggie Brown was the upside pick. But as of the time I submitted last week’s article, TO had not officially been suspended. So I went the conservative route and recommended the player who, of the two, was guaranteed to see the field but who also stood to see some upside if Owens didn’t play. Lewis didn’t have a huge game, but he contributed 5 receptions for 57 yards, which made him a top 30 or so WR last week in leagues that award points for receptions and a top 40 or so WR in leagues that don’t. Not spectacular, but still somewhat useful. Small hit.

Josh Brown – SEA KR: Brown got stolen out from under me last week in my local, so I rolled with Todd Peterson (ATL) instead. Brown, as it turns out, would have been a much better play as he got the six kicking opportunities I figured he’d get, connected on five of them, which was good enough to make him a top 6 kicker in most formats.

Jeff Garcia – DET QB: I said last week if Garcia didn’t play in Week 9 I’d call him a miss this week. Well, he sat; miss. Hopefully my recommendation of Garcia a few weeks back didn’t waste valuable bench space for you.

Well, that’s it for this week, folks. Wish me luck in my local, I’m going to need it. Also, in the last two columns I’ve included more detailed than usual featured pieces. Those efforts came at the expense of including a greater number of names than usual and I’ve yet to hear any feedback on that. It’s important to me that this column actually be useful to y’all, so feel free to shoot me an email via the Huddle writers contact email thingy (found on the main page of the site). Because if no one finds the Combo Defense or QB on a budget-type concepts useful or interesting, that’s something I’ll take into consideration in the coming weeks.

Good luck in Week 10, may you avoid injuries, and game on!

* Non-Football Note: the 2004 indie film Employee Of The Month didn’t get much press, but I loved it. Matt Dillon, Steve Zahn, Christina Applegate, and Dave Foley put together a nice sleeper rental here. It’s a hilarious, subtle revenge caper in which many of the characters do things we’ve all thought about but never for the life of us would actually attempt. I can’t detail much more of why this film is superb because it would ruin the fun. But right when you think you’ve got the wanna be yuppie scum (Dillon), his perfect fiancée (Appelgate), his amoral best friend (Zahn), and the seemingly extraneous gay buddy (Foley) all figured out the movie takes such an unexpected twist that it knocked my socks off. (Or was that Bushmills 16 year?) And the first twist is hardly the last. Or best. Its rated R for some graphic violence and T&A, but most of that is merely backdrop. This film is worth renting based on Zahn’s funny, raunchy soliloquies alone.