Fantasy football thoughts from Puerto Rico

So these past few days have been a bit of an adventure for me, as I was traveling down to Puerto Rico for work and due to some hurricane-induced delays, mixed with the reliability of the Puerto Rican internet, I have not been able to write some much needed analysis of what is shaping up to be a crazy opening weekend in the NFL. Let me just start by saying that while Matt felt it unnecessary to mention Tom Brady’s season ending injury (and it wasn’t even to that stupid foot we kept hearing about!), I have to admit that I am shedding a few tears internally as my favorite team’s Superbowl hopes are now resting squarely on the shoulders of a guy I thought the team was going to cut before the season started…Mr. Matt Cassel. Luckily for my alternate, fantasy football reality, I only had Brady in one league this year and it was my lame EA Sports league that I really don’t care much about, but let’s get to the rest of the action that transpired this weekend…

  • A tale of two teams (who are both missing almost every receiver on the depth chart): When the Seahawks lose all their receivers (Nate Burleson is now out for the season with an ACL injury), the team goes into a tailspin and gets killed by the Bills. Donovan McNabb on the other hand makes the most out of his situation and throws for over 300 yards and 3 TD’s (with a rookie leading the team in receptions and receiving yards) as the Eagles completely dominate the St. Louis Rams. By the way, the Rams offense was bad in the preseason and now that the first team offense was out there the whole game…they may have looked worse?
  • Two guys who’ll get their fair share: Even if the rest of the offense looks bad, Andre Johnson (10 receptions for 112 yards) is going to get plenty of balls thrown his way. Same goes for disgruntled Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin, who caught nearly half of the completed passes (8 of 19) for Arizona in their win over San Francisco.
  • Running back surprises: Did anyone expect Michael Turner to rush for 220 yards and two touchdowns? Or Willie Parker to go for 138 yards and three scores? How about even predicting that Thomas Jones (who had one touchdown all last season!) would go over 100 yards with a touchdown in his first game running behind Brett Favre? If you said yes to any of those questions, we could be interested in offering you a co-author job on
  • Not your normal vultures: Here’s a few backup running backs that got a little more attention than expected in week one (what does it mean for week 2?)
    • Chris Johnson (TEN) – 15 carries for 93 yards, while starter LenDale White runs 15 times for just 40 yards (but does get the team’s lone rushing touchdown). Johnson is also used in the passing game though, catching three passes for 34 yards and a score.
    • Fred Jackson (BUF) – I assume this one was just because the team was killing Seattle so bad and there was no need to keep Marshawn Lynch out there, but Jackson had 10 of the team’s 29 rushing attempts.
    • Warrick Dunn (TB) – Dunn rushes nine times, while his teammate Earnest Graham, who was most likely drafted ten rounds or so earlier in your league, rushes just 10 times in their loss to the Saints.
    • Sammy Morris (NE) – So much for this being the year that Laurence Maroney takes the reigns in the rushing game. I’m now glad that I didn’t draft Maroney in any of my leagues, after seeing Brady go down and Morris rushes 10 times (to Maroney’s own 10 rushes.) Morris also got the rushing touchdown.
    • Steve Slaton (HOU) – Did you draft Ahman Green? That was stupid. Hopefully you took Slaton as well, who got the majority of the carries in this one (13 of the team’s 20 rushes.)
    • Le’Ron McClain (BAL) – Who? Whoever he is, he got 19 carries, while rookie Ray Rice got 22 carries in the Ravens win over the Bengals. However, I don’t expect this to continue when Willis McGahee comes back.
    • Felix Jones (DAL) – Wow, did Jones look like a beast when given the chance in the
      Cowboys/Bears game (a rushing touchdown on his first carry as a professional)? With Barber showing his human side in this one, suffering a rib injury, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team work both of the backs frequently to keep them both healthy, although I still see Barber getting the majority of the carries as long as he plays.
  • Puff, puff, fumble: Ricky Williams (10 carries for 24 yards, four catches for 15 yards, and TWO fumbles) did not look like a running back that was “the best player on his team” and deserved a contract extension in his game versus the Jets this Sunday.
  • Keeps on truckin’: Favre threw for just 194 yards, but did throw two touchdowns in the win over the Miami Ricky Williams’…and I expect him to keep getting better this year (especially now that the Patriots are mere mortals.)
  • Jaguars forget how to run the ball: Tennessee must be pretty good against the run to stop the Jaguars two-headed monster dead in their tracks. In their 17-10 victory over the Jags, the Titans held Maurice Jones-Drew to just 13 yards on five carries, while keeping Fred Taylor to 18 yards on nine carries. The debate over who the best running back in Jacksonville is doesn’t really matter when both of them can’t even put up a “2” spot on your league’s scoreboard for the week. Losing both starting guards for the season (possibly) won’t help either!
  • Lions and Rams and Colts…OH MY!: I hope this is not a sign of things to come from the Bungles (loss to the Baltimore Flacco’s 17-10), Brownies (28-10 beatdown at hands of Cowboys), and Rams (wrong end of a 33-10 domination by McNabb and the Eagles.) Otherwise, it’s going to be a long season for their fans…and a VERY long season for fantasy managers who have Carson Palmer (10 of 25 for 99 yards, one INT), Ocho Cinco (22 receiving yards), T.J. Houshmanzilly (44 receiving yards), Torry Holt (ONE catch for nine yards!), Marc Bulger (14 of 26 for 158 yards and four sacks), Steven Jackson (74 total yards), Derek Anderson (11 of 24 for 114 yards, 1 TD), Jamal Lewis (76 total yards) or Braylon Edwards (2 catches for 14 yards) on their teams.
  • Bears are back?: Is rookie running back Matt Forte (23 rushes for 123 yards, plus three catches for 18 yards) the real deal, and can Kyle Orton continue to not try and do more than necessary? If so, and the defense can keep up the intensity that limited Peyton Manning and the Colts to just 13 points, Chicago fans could be in for a treat this year.
  • Ocho Cinco es negado (I think that means he “is denied” in Spanish): Unfortunately for the man formerly known as Chad Johnson, he wasn’t allowed to wear his new name on the back of his jersey due to some financial obligations with Reebok. Who knows when the issue will be resolved, but I bet he is a much better receiver once he has Ocho Cinco on his nameplate!
  • Eddie Royal is my boy!: Until my real boy Brandon Marshall is back at least. I knew this guy had sleeper potential, but I didn’t know it would start this early! (I’m writing this 5 minutes into the Broncos/Raiders game and he already has over 50 yards and a touchdown.)