If the NFL and fantasy football have anything in common, it is this: there are no guarantees. How your favorite NFL team did last season has as much to do with this season as the effect NASA shooting the moon will have on our tides… maybe less.
Take a look at Tennessee this season. Last season they had a record of 13-3, best in the NFL, the number one seed in the AFC. Going into the playoffs, every Tennessee fan had their eyes set on the Super Bowl and most of your analysts had them as favorites. Then, they lost in their first home playoff game. So much for the experts.
Then, during the off-season, they lost the middle of their defensive line, the disruptive force of nature which goes by the name Albert Haynesworth. They didn’t do a whole lot to replace this loss on defense, but everyone seemed quite happy with their acquisition of Nate Washington. Which leads me to a quick tangent, ever notice how many Pittsburgh Steelers receivers move on to other teams and do absolutely nothing? Burress might be the lone exception, and he’s in prison now.
Anyway, Tennessee is now off to a 0-4 start and I believe only one team has ever come back from 0-4 to make the playoffs (bonus points to the first person who posts what team that was. Double bonus points if they can truthfully say they didn’t have to google it).
Does one player like Albert Haynesworth make that big of a difference to a team? Every coach in the NFL will tell you, no, we can’t rely on one player to make that big of a difference and we can’t use the loss of that one player as an excuse. However, in reality the loss of one real difference maker can in fact make a difference, otherwise, why call them “difference makers” in the first place?
And, as is the case in many situations, what happens in the NFL has a direct result on what happens to your fantasy football team. The loss of Albert Haynesworth has a direct result on the fantasy performance of Lendale White. Most people think, but one is on defense, the other is on offense, what possible connection could there be?
The loss of Haynesworth has resulted in Tennessee falling behind earlier and more frequently in games. White is a grinding running back, normally used to wear down the opponent in the second half and close the door. That kind of running back doesn’t fit into the game plan as easily when your team is trailing. Now, is the loss of Haynesworth the only reason White is having a significantly less successful season this year when compared to last? No, I wouldn’t say that, but I do believe there is a definite effect that happens team wide in the NFL with the loss of a significant player, whether on offense or defense. Fantasy owners who can see these kinds of trends before their draft will already have a leg up on many of their opponents.
And, speaking of somewhat hidden trends, I’m starting to think it might be wise to keep your eye on who I am taking as a potential sleeper player each week and then avoiding them! Glen Coffee had a fairly decent game, but he couldn’t find the end zone and dropped a couple of passes which would have added to his overall total yardage. I’m going to give myself a push on that one. But, Darren McFadden gets injured early in the game and is now out for 2-4 weeks. However, Brandon Jacobs did not get into the end zone against Kansas City nor did he go over 100 yd., so that has to be a pretty good pick. So far, I am 2-5-1
This week for my secondary players like think should perform well, I’m going to try out the wide receivers. Braylon Edwards has been a disappointment since 2007, and he just got traded a couple of days ago. But, he will be playing on Monday night and I just cut him from another one of my teams, so I’m expecting a big game from him. Also, Chad Ochocinco is no longer considered a number one receiver in most fantasy football leagues, but he has been having a really decent season so far and even though they are playing a tough Baltimore defense, I think he does well and should be in your starting lineup.
For my guaranteed starter who I expect to struggle, I’m going to go with Tom Brady. I know he hasn’t been scoring as expected so far this season, but everybody still views him as one of the top two fantasy quarterbacks in the game today. But, they are going to Denver and Denver has just had a beastly defense so far. Depending upon who your backup quarterback is, I would seriously consider setting Brady
Onto the power rankings!
1. MM of M (2) – the Monkeys step up to the number one spot for the first time this season, and standing above all of the other teams shout out the immortal words of Denzel Washington “King Kong ain’t got (number two) on me!” even though 31 of their 108 points came from the defense, their overall roster still performed outstandingly, and that is without Frank Gore and Steve Smith (Carolina edition). Much like Donkey Kong, the Monkeys have stolen our girlfriend and stand at the very top of the tallest skyscraper hurling barrels at all of those beneath him in an attempt to stop a simple, hard-working plumber from rescuing his true love.(extra bonus points for anybody you can tell me the name of Mario’s girlfriend, double points if you can honestly say you did not google it)
2. Team Eagles (1) – the Eagles drop-down one spot, but they are still more than competitive. Drew has had a couple of slow weeks and is off this week, but, barring injury, he’s going to start scoring again sooner rather than later. The only real concern for this team right now is, what is the real personality of the running backs? Is Darren going to be given the chance for more playtime after his off week? And is Willis for real in Baltimore?
3. Evil Midnight Bombers (3) – the Bombers once again score somewhere in that 80-100 range, but this week it is not enough for them to win the game as they fall to their division rival, the heartless King Donkey Monkeys. There is a lot going on with this team. Matt Forte is starting to come around a little in Chicago, Philip Rivers continues to score excellent fantasy points while losing every big NFL game he plays in and now there is a bit of injury concern with Felix Jones and Hester both being unavailable this coming week. The Bombers hold on to number three, and while I still think they have the ability to get back to number one, I would know of no longer be surprised if they slip out of the top five
4. Dreaded Mercenaries (4) – they get back on the winning track but hold steady at number four. The main reason for this is all of the question marks in Dallas. Barber is a gamer, no doubt about that. But what is happening leading man Tony Romo? The All-Pro quarterback (who has never won a single big game) who always collapses in December is starting to play the same way in September and October. That’s not good news for Cowboys fans, and it’s definitely not good news for the Mercenaries
5. The Bloodsuckers (6) – last week they had their eyes set on the top five, this week that move into the top five with another good overall team performance. Big Brother Manning looks like he wants to move back into the number one fantasy quarterback spot. They are extremely solid at quarterback and wide receiver, but they’ve got some significant problems at running back with Fred Taylor being out indefinitely. Julius Jones is now their only remaining running back, so it will be interesting to see what kind of waiver wire moves that make. Or, could there potentially be a trade in the works with Donovan McNabb?
6. Farva’s Shovelheads (7) – they moves up to number six, but there are certainly reasons for concern. McFadden is now out at least two weeks and didn’t guy named Greg Jennings used to play for Green Bay? Whatever happened to that guy? The good news is word out of Tampa Bay is that Cadillac is going to start receiving more playtime again. The bad news is he still on Tampa Bay. This team needs just one spot away from the top five, but that may be a difficult spot to move into
7. Team S (5) – in my opinion, one of the best albums of the nineties was The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails. However, you don’t necessarily want a statistical representation of that album to be the legacy your team leaves on the league. Unfortunately, that appears to be exactly what is happening with Team S. This past week they started a quarterback who wasn’t playing even though they had a quarterback that was eligible on their bench. Sure, Jason Campbell isn’t MUCH of a quarterback, but he still got 12 points more than nobody. Would it have made a difference in the game? No. But, this team has arguably the number one player in all of fantasy football with AP and they are not scoring points. You start to see players who are not playing in the starting lineup and it brings up the question of how committed the ownership is to winning. The lyric “I… hurt myself today” comes to mind
8. Mopar’s Marauders (9) – the Marauders flip-flop with the Pharmacists and move right back into the top half of the league. They remain unbeaten, thanks in huge part to the performance of the San Francisco 49ers defense this past week. 43 points? That’s just insane. Which brings me back to something I spoke about over a year ago, I’ve never really liked the scoring system in most fantasy football leagues. Anytime teams are routinely scoring over 100 points, I think there are too many bonus points being given out. I’m not sure that a 10 yd. gain is really worth one point. Does a running back getting 60 yd. for your team honestly equal a touchdown that a running back scores? It just doesn’t seem balanced. But, that’s a discussion for another time. Even with this is going system, your defense is not going to the 43 points every week. However, this team is still looking at moving up the rankings next week
9. Amateur Pharmacists (8) – the Pharmacists slide right back down into the number nine spot.. They managed to score nearly 90 points without Michael Turner, and they have one of the hottest defenses in Denver. If Ryan Grant would get on track then this team could make some serious headway in the power rankings
10. Damages (10) – they managed to hold steady at number 10 without two of their major contributors contributing. This team has made some great acquisitions in free agency and right now I think that they may be my frontrunner for coach of the year as they seem to be squeezing every bit of points they can out of their lineup from week to week. It hasn’t been enough for too many victories thus far, and Baby brother Manning as a slight injury concern now. But, could there be a trade on the horizon? Damages currently have two decent quarterbacks, and there are plenty of teams in this league who could use one of them
11. Heavenly Rampagers (11) – Ronnie Brown does his best to prove to me that he is indeed a number one guy, but even with his performance he still is not the leading running back for this team this week. The good news for this team is the possible emergence of Rashard Mendenhall. Willie Parker is out again this week, so that means at least one more game with Rashard being the main guy. If he performs against Detroit anything along the lines of how he performed against San Diego, Parker may have a hard time finding his way back into the starting lineup. It also might be the beginning of a surge up the power rankings for the Heavenly Ranpagers
12. Legion of Doom (13) – my own team gets its first victory of the season and moves up one spot. However, 53 points came from the tight end/Defense/kicker combination, and as I said before, that’s just not going to happen on a regular basis. There are some signs of hope though, Donald Brown and Knowshon Moreno both seem to be getting more and more playing time every week. It’s possible there is still a chance for this season
13. Team Falk (12) – they lose their game and slide down one spot. More disturbing than that, the warning signs from last week seemed to have carried on as this week they start another player who was not playing. In this case, it’s even worse as it’s a kicker and it was his off week. Add to that the injury to Roy Williams and the overall trouble in Dallas and this team may be looking at the bottom three in the not-too-distant future
14. OffInThe Shower (15) – they go over 100 points again and climb up another spot. This might be the beginning of a climb all the way up into the top half. Steve Slaton seems like he might be starting to get on track and there are signs that Brandon Marshall might be starting to find some chemistry with his new quarterback. Add to that the outstanding performance of Steve Smith (New York Giants edition) recently and the consistent performance of Brandon Jacobs and this may be a team to keep an eye on.
15. Mr. Al Davis (14) – you know what I just realized? The team Mr. Al Davis doesn’t have a single Oakland Raider on his roster. You get knocked down a spot for that if nothing else! I think that this team is most likely going to remain in the bottom 25% of the power rankings throughout the season. Neither other quarterbacks are going to score points consistently, and Jones-Drew is really their only serious threat. However, they did win their game, so while I don’t see them moving too far up the power rankings or competing for overall points, the season is far from over
16. Gaul Village Asterix (16) – well, so much for a new Team Voodoo. They score more points than they have on any other week, so of course they suffer their first loss of the season. Even though this team is 3-1, I think that has been more a result of scheduling and luck than anything else. They are getting Westbrook back, so that’s something, but otherwise I just don’t see this team scoring more points than most of the other teams in this league on any given week
We are already 25% of the way through the NFL season. But, what that really means is that we still have 75% of the way to go! Are there some teams who are already dropping by the wayside? Can any of the 0-4 teams, either here or in the NFL, still make the playoffs? Your guess is as good as mine