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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Commentary From the Edge - Week 1
Kevin Ratterree
September 4, 2007

As usual, the off-season certainly produced its share of surprises. The one nobody saw coming was Michael Vick. Vick took being the league a-hole to a new level, and blew T.O. right out of the water. Notice we haven’t heard so much as a peep from Owens?

I guess Owens knows the jig is up. Blowing up franchises is child’s play compared to the criminal enterprise Vick concocted.

Who knew we could get sick of hearing about someone more than we did T.O.?

Speaking of a-holes, did you hear that Rodney Harrison got suspended for cheating? Wow, you think you know somebody…………and then you get confirmation.

Somebody posted on he Huddle message board last week that they had “trusted” the Huddle and drafted Roddy White, since he was the highest ranked Atlanta WR on our cheat sheets. Someone “trusted” the Huddle to make that decision for them? I’ve got news for you. All the major fantasy sites gave up a long time ago trying to figure out how to rank the Falcons receivers. At this point most site providers just write the names of the top 3 in the Falcons depth chart on three darts. Then they throw them at a dartboard marked, “sucks”, “really sucks”, and “induce vomiting if accidentally drafted.”

Is it just my imagination or does Cam Cameron seem a little whacked now that he is a head honcho?

Speaking of whacked head honchos, the Rat Shanahan finally has a chance to avoid pissing off the entire fantasy football community this year. He has an every down back. Why can’t we shake the feeling he is going to piss us off anyway?

Norv Turner may have finally stepped into the right situation. Building an NFL champion is a process, and it seems Turner has come into the process at about the right time. This situation reminds me of a jigsaw puzzle that is almost completed. They lead Turner into the room with the final piece in his hand. All he has to do is put that one piece in the right place, and the puzzle is complete. Like Jon Gruden and Barry Switzer before him, Turner inherits a team ready-made to win a Championship. That is the good news. The bad news is that there isn’t much but downside here for Turner. If he wins with this team, he wins with the team that Marty built. If he fails with this team, the “Norv Turner = Head Coach” theory will have run its course and been proven tragically flawed.

Jack Del Rio pulled a fast one last week when he announced that Garrard was going to be the starting quarterback, then ditched Leftwich. Hey Jack, a better time to decide to dump your starting quarterback would probably be sometime after the regular season ends, rather than the end of training camp. They have these things called “free agents” and “trades” whereby you can attempt to improve your team during a more convenient time than immediately before the season starts. Apparently Leftwich wasn’t putting in the time required to be an NFL caliber quarterback. Unfortunately, this belated realization is much like slapping on a condom halfway through.

There were other surprises in player movement as the roster cuts came down. Though most of us had never heard of DeDe Dorsey before the Colts led us to believe he would be backing up Addai, most leagues took the bait and Dorsey was drafted in just about every deep league I saw. The Colts suddenly decided on plan “b”, and cut him on Saturday. Handcuffing just isn’t what it used to be.

The Kevin Jones saga has certainly been an interesting one. He was rumored to be heading to the PUP list for weeks leading up to final roster cuts, but when the time came, he ended up on the active roster. Jones was drafted all over the place in fantasy drafts leading up to cut day. I’ve seen him go from the 5th round and the 14th round. Biggest spread on a player this season I would imagine. And what becomes of him as the season progresses remains a big wild card in fantasy leagues. Buy and hold works well……..as long as the company doesn’t go belly up. But the bottom line is, betting on a crowded backfield on a Mike Martz run offense is a “kids, don’t try this at home” proposition.

Isaac Bruce has been creeping up the draft boards as the season drew near. People finally did the math. Hobbled Holt + Healthy Bulger = Isaac Bruce -fantasy draft bargain. Here is the problem with trying to bury a guy like Bruce. You can be wrong betting against him a whole bunch of times. You will only be wrong betting ON him once. Same goes for the people that keep trying to bury Harrison. I think both of those geezers will make the doubters sick to their collective stomachs again. Don’t fear the reaper.

Crazy as Hell Pick of the Week

Welcome back degenerates! Yes it’s that favorite time of year again. Time to check back in with the man and try to pick his pockets with our cunning. You know how I hate to brag, but this portion of the column has been a smashing success. The overall record is 11-21 (65.6%) since 2005. The only people hitting like that are NBA referee’s mob buddies. I look forward to another season of making Brandon Lang look like my beeyatch. But then again, that isn’t saying much. Dartboards hit better than Lang and cost a whole lot less.

You guys know the drill by now. I tell you why one team should cover the spread, and then I pick the other team. Don’t ask me why I have to do it this way, just roll with it. Sometimes my picks will seem insane, like when I told you that the Bears wouldn’t cover the spread against the Arizona Cardinals last season on that fateful Monday night. Some call it madness. Some call it genius (mostly me), but it is in almost every way, the Crazy as Hell Pick of the Week.

As I always remind you, the first part of the season is often the hardest to wager. We have no parameters. The slate is clean. The NFL changes so much from season to season, it takes a month to get a good handle on how games will shake out. So this week I will try to stay on safe ground, and concentrate on the team I think I have the best “feel” for. That would be the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs are a 3 point underdog at Houston this week. Now, on the surface, with last season still in the back of our minds (Chiefs playoff team - Texans also ran’s), we might be tempted to take that 3 points and dare the Texans to prove us wrong. But I have seen enough of the Chiefs in this exhibition season to draw a few conclusions. Conclusion #1: They stink. That offense is going nowhere. If the Texans can score 13 in this game, they will cover the spread. And while that may have been a question last season, the Texans are unquestionably a better offensive team with the additions of Schaub, Ahman Green, and Jacoby Jones. I see a big coming out party in store for this team at the Chiefs expense. Larry Johnson is not physically able to carry the Chiefs through this game, and I fully expect a blowout for the home team. Chiefs +3

Misery Index

10) Titans Vince Young’s heroics last season were something to remember. Apparently the Titans front office thinks that if Young tears off his jersey, there will be a giant “S” on his chest. Because they let most of their skill players go in the off-season. Young made the mistake of “overselling” himself in his first season. He has convinced the management that he can carry the team on his back, and that is apparently what they intend to try and let him do this season. Without Pacman Jones, Travis Henry, and Moulds clogging up the field instead of Drew Bennett, it is hard to imagine this team being as good as they were down the stretch last year. If Vince pulls this off my friends, we are truly in the presence of greatness.

9) Browns Maybe I should be optimistic about the Browns. They have a good nucleus of Edwards and Winslow. Brady Quinn has looked good in preseason action, and may be closer to taking the reins than we might have guessed after his holdout. And Quinn has a giant chip on his shoulder after being passed down the line in the NFL draft like a drunk skank at a biker party. Everything seems to be looking up. But why do I have this feeling something bad will happen again? Oh yeah, it’s the Browns.

8) Vikings Tarvaris Jackson throwing errant passes to the worst receiving corps in the league this side of Tennessee. Yeah, it’s going to be a long season.

7) Cardinals This is a team that should be better than last season. But then again, we have been singing that song for a long time now. So, having been burned in the past I think the safest thing is to just to put them in the Index and let them work their way out. But if you want to crown their ass, then crown their ass. They are probably exactly who you thought they were.

6) Dolphins I may be giving this team way too much credit. They have a real shot at the Misery Index title this year. The new head coach has a 37 year old concussion risk at quarterback, playing behind an inferior offensive line. And aside from that, he has been playing mind games with his two biggest offensive skill players. Chambers and Ronnie Brown have both returned kicks in the preseason. After coaching the likes of Tomlinson and Gates all those years, Cameron is having trouble adjusting to the cold hard reality that is Miami Dolphins football.

5) Lions This could be a huge mistake, ranking the perennial Misery Index frontrunners on this preseason list. After all, Jon Kitna says they will win 10 games, and hinted he might throw 50 TD passes. The Lions play the Raiders in week one. If this team really is going somewhere besides the dumpster this year, week one would be a good place to start proving it. Mr. Kitna, you will need to throw 3 touchdown passes to stay on pace. The Raiders were 5th in the league against the pass last season.

4) Texans They have a shiny new quarterback, and the fans are feeling hope for the first time since the Texans improbable upset of the Cowboys in their inaugural game as a franchise. That was about 250 or so David Carr sacks ago. Will Matt Schaub make the difference? Or will he simply take Carr’s place as the Texans version of a crash test dummy. The team has looked good in preseason, but they have pulled that routine before, then tanked once the real blitzes started coming. The Chiefs are coming to town for week one, so a temporary reprieve from the Misery Index seems well at hand.

3) Falcons The optimist in me says this team is ready to move on in a new direction. They can put away the clown suits and the jugglers, and sweep up the peanuts. The circus that was the Mike Vick Experience has packed up and headed for a prison near you. Most are predicting disaster for this team, but I actually think the Falcons may be halfway respectable in the short term, and much better off in the long run. The sideshow superstar for all his charms just never seems suited to lead a team to the promised land. Football is about the team. And the team may now find out what it is like to play as a team. And who knows, maybe all Harrington needed was just one more chance, on a team that doesn’t completely suck. Wait a minute……let me check that Atlanta WR depth chart……..hmmmm……. oh boy.

2) Chiefs The team tried to give the starting QB job to Brodie Croyle, but his performance in the exhibition games was as putrid as the inside of John Madden’s shoes on a hot summer day. So the gig goes to the slightly less putrid Damon Huard. The defense looks improved, but the offense is a huge question mark. The Chiefs may “play to win the game”, but it will likely be a rare occurrence that they are successful. This team could give the Raiders a run for their money in the Misery Index this season. The good news is that the running back pool coming out of college next year looks good, so the Chiefs should be among the first in the draft line to find a replacement for Larry Johnson. They will need to after they use up what is left of him this season with their clever play calling.

1) Raiders Last year’s Misery Index darlings are going to start the season sitting on the throne once again. With a scepter in one hand and an unsigned contract offer for Jamarcus Russell in the other. Culpepper is in town, so Russell’s plan to hold out the entire camp, thus ensuring he doesn’t have to take the field with this bunch of losers until at least week 14-15 seems to have worked out just fine. After being unceremoniously dumped by Miami, Culpepper did a personal evaluation of all the teams in the league, and according to his parameters, the Raiders were the perfect fit for him this season. Apparently one of the main factors in Culpepper’s decision was to play for a crazy owner that likes to watch his quarterback wing it 50 yards downfield, with no real sense of where the ball is actually going.

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