Tuesday’s Take: Looking back on Week 1

NFL Football is back and better than ever. Let’s skip the pleasantries and go right to the Week 1 story lines.

Arian Foster lived up to the preseason hype then tacked on an additional 100 yards for good measure. Colts linebackers looked lost and Foster’s one-cut style reminded many of Terrell Davis circa 1996. Sky is the limit and he’s the main beneficiary of being in a top flight offense. It’ll be interesting to see how Foster will fare this weekend against a formidable Redskins defense and a week’s worth of film.

Arrowhead Stadium hasn’t been this electric since Joe Montana was slinging the rock to Willie Davis. Javier Arenas, Dexter McCluster, and Jamaal Charles turned that game into a freaking track meet last night. Every good football team has a home-run threat. This team has four (don’t forget about rookie safety Eric Berry). Cassel only threw for 68 yards but no one seemed to care. Why does every west coast team struggle in the elements? San Diego had four chances to tie it with the game on the line and Rivers failed to execute. Memo to Phillip Rivers: drop the “aw shucks” routine from your post-game press conferences. LT is gone, V-Jax won’t come back and you just blew it against a division opponent. Step away from the L.L. Bean catalog and mix in a decent suit for once. There’s room for only one redneck quarterback in this league and his name is Brett Favre.

Minnesota's precarious Situation.

As for Favre, is he ever going to stop treating the NFL like a game of Madden? Forcing balls, refusing to check down, and tunnel vision are the types of things that make watching Favre so tragic yet so awesome at the same time. There’s your “How’d he do that?!” moments followed by your “Why’d he do that?!” moments. Favre’s 2009 was a lot like Jersey Shore season 1 because he vastly exceeded expectations and we were wildly entertained. If Minnesota season 2 is anything like Jersey Shore season 2 we’ll skip the live show and just wait for highlights (thanks Joel McHale). Perhaps Favre’s pants-on-the-ground bit was his jump the shark moment in Minnesota. Jersey Shore jumped the shark when it moved to South Beach. C’mon people, the name of the show is Jersey Shore.

Well look what the cat dragged in… Michael Vick is back and brought a full blown QB controversy with him. He stepped up in place of the injured Kolb (concussion) and led a furious comeback. The last time Vick rushed for 103 yards in a game rap music actually sounded good and sub-prime mortgage brokers were printing money. Oh the memories! After the game Vick stated “If I had been out there for four quarters maybe we would have had a chance to win the game”. How’s that for a headline?

They’re real and they’re spectacular: Foster, Jahvid Best, Matt Forte ver 2.0, the Renaissance of Jay Cutler, Hakeem Nicks, Wes Welker’s knee, and Trent Dilfer’s broadcasting skills.

He lives in a van down by the river.

Monitor the performance of Run DMC over these next few weeks before making a trade. Sure, that Oakland offensive line is turrrrrable but Darren McFadden’s receiving skills should off-set any disparity in the touchdown department. For the record, not enough has been said about how scary Oakland Raiders coach Tom Cable looks on the sidelines. He should’ve been there for Tony’s protection in that last episode of Sopranos. Cable needs to channel that bully mentality and use it to ride the officials more… it worked for Mike Tice in Minnesota. There’s not a single player on that team I’d take over Cable if I needed some back in a bar fight.  Cable could probably take on a whole biker gang Terminator 2 style if he wanted to. Forget the Chuck Norris jokes because this guy is for real. He’s also the only coach in the league who broke an assistant coach’s jaw to make his point. It’s a shame Cable can’t fight his way into the playoffs. Quarterback Jason Campbell is a modern day Scott Mitchell: every GM wants him to do well yet no one is smart enough to figure out why he sucks. Allow me to spell it out for you football “geniuses”– no quarterback should take four years to develop. It doesn’t matter how bad the line is or how many coaches he has. Did I really just burn 228 words on the Oakland Raiders? Sorry about that… they’re just so amusing and ironically awesome. What ever happened to James Jett anyway? That was a great name for a wide receiver. It reminds me of those fake names old video game programmers had to use when they lacked the NFLPA license. Honorable mention goes to former Raiders tight end Doug Jolley and Miami Sharks quarterback Willie Beamen.

The two wins that weren’t: A game-winning Calvin Johnson reception was overturned by an official review. The Bears are who the Lions thought they were and the officials let em off the hook! Roy Williams and his Cowboys teammates were too busy humping each other in the end zone to realize Alex Barron mugged his way toward a holding penalty that ended the game in favor of the Skins. “Never gonna give you up… never gonna let you down…”

The Cowboys were one of seven playoff teams that started 2010 with a loss. The others include Philly, Minnesota, the Hard ob-Knocks-ious Jets, Bungals, Colts (thanks Arian), and Bolts. Vick starting against the Lions defense this week should be entertaining. I don’t know much about betting but I know it’s never smart to bet against home underdogs vs. a division opponent. The Redskins, Texans, Chiefs, and Seahawks all won. Only the lowly Bills (+3) couldn’t cover against the Fish and lost 15-10.

Which weighs more-- 100 lbs or a jar full of nickels the size of Shonn Greene's head?

Sure it’s only one game but the Jets looked overhyped, overexposed, and over-everything. LT, not Shonn Greene, looks like the running back to own on this team. He essentially got benched Monday night in a game that was dominated by the Ravens defense. Is it just me or does he look eerily similar to Ken Griffy Jr. did when the nuclear accident gave him a giant head in that episode of The Simpsons? It’s gotta be hard to run full speed with that thing weighing you down. Examples like this are exactly why you don’t take chances in the first few rounds of fantasy drafts. Minimize risk and enjoy the guaranteed production. No one would’ve argued if you selected Reggie Wayne over Greene in the early 2nd round. At least you’d know what to expect on a weekly basis.

That sound you heard Tuesday morning was millions of fantasy footballers left-clicking their way to claim Packers running back Brandon Jackson off the waiver wire. Congrats if you landed him. Jackson will provide solid RB2 production as the featured back with incumbant starter Ryan Grant out for the season. Even before week 1 Mike Montgomery praised Jackson and suggested that he was fully capable of being a featured back in that offense. While Jackson may lack the pass-blocking skills of Grant, he’s a great receiver and has the ability to make secondary defenders miss in the open field. Be prepared to watch him run to the sidelines on long third downs. He’ll provide the cheddar in a tasty matchup with the Buffalo Bills this week. Prediction: 140 total yards and two touchdowns.

Week 2 survivor pick: Green Bay. Cheese wins over buffalo wings any day of the week.

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Fantasy Folesball: The RBs I Love & Loathe

You’ve seen the numbers. You know the names. When the clock is ticking will you make the right choice? In this entry I’ll highlight five running backs I love and the ones you should avoid.

THUMBS UP:

Jamaal Charles– Breakaway speed on an improved offense. He set an NFL record for fewest carries (190) to reach 1,100 rushing yards for 5.9 yards per carry. That’s some Madden type stuff right there. The presence of Thomas Jones will scare off enough people to make Charles a nice value in the 3rd round of fantasy drafts. He’s an ideal RB2.

Thumbs Up for Southeast Jerome!

Clinton Portis– His offseason conditioning has received high marks from the local media. The arrival of Donovan McNabb and old-new coach Mike Shanahan will open the running game enough to reach 1,200 rushing yards and 6 TDs (if healthy).

Ryan Matthews– Norv Turner sure knows how to please fantasy football fans doesn’t he? Turner suggests that Matthews will fetch 250+ carries and over 40 receptions in his rookie season. One has to like this talk coming out of Chargers camp. Slot him ahead of marginal first rounders LeSean McCoy and Rashard Mendenhall.

Ladanian Tomlinson– Value, value, value. LT will be ignored in the early rounds. Take him late and expect solid production. The Jets offensive line is the best in the league and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will give LT every opportunity to earn his fair share of the carries. I forecast a 50/50 split (timeshare with second year back Shonn Greene) and LT getting most of the action near the goal line. “What it do!”

Beanie Wells– In a recent interview on the Jim Rome Show Wells provided some insight as to why his rookie season started so slow. It was the first time he’d ever lived outside the state of Ohio and he struggled with the pressures of being the 1st round pick to a team that made the Super Bowl in its previous season. This year he’s fully loaded and ready to set the fantasy world afire. Arizona will lean heavily on the 6’1″ 235lb back to give Matt Leinart more room in the passing game. Expect his workload to increase significantly from the 176 carries posted in ’09. Prediction: 1,400 rushing yards, 10 TDs, and dozens of trade offers from your fellow leaguemates. You’re welcome.

Keep your eye on…

Buffalo Bills running back CJ Spiller is primed for some major preseason carries. Fred Jackson, who’s fresh off a 1,000 yard season behind that same offensive line, will be out 4-6 weeks due to a broken bone in his hand. Incumbent starter Marshawn Lynch was the mayor of Suck City last season and he’ll be on the sidelines for the next 3-4 weeks nursing a sprained ankle. Monitor Spiller’s progress and adjust your rankings accordingly.

"Are you not entertained?!"

THUMBS DOWN:

Adrian Peterson– Are we supposed to forget that this guy is a torn-ACL-waiting-to-happen? AP now has 742 touches in the past two seasons. He logged 412 total touches last season including the playoffs. Don’t forget the fumbles either. If you have the #1 overall pick just draft Chris Johnson and enjoy the ride.

The mutant child of JStew & DeAngelo Williams– Who’s their quarterback? Which of these two running backs is the starter? How will the carries be divvied up? What’s the ratio of stanley nickels to schrute bucks?

Avoid the Dirty Birds this year.

Michael Turner– Have you ever seen this guy run in the open field? Michael “the Burner” Turner isn’t… and hasn’t been since 2008. He’s every bit of 28 years old in a very young league. Matt Ryan looked very JV last season and defenses will continue to stack 8 men in the box. Yuck.

Ryan Grant– He’s that guy in the office who got promoted to management and no one seems to know why. Yet Ryan Grant shows up to work on time, leaves promptly at 5pm, and does just enough not to get fired. Somehow people keep drafting Grant in the 2nd round. That’s terrible value for a guy who only topped 100 yards twice last year. LOATHE!

Knowshon Moreno– A simple Google Images search will show there are three full pages of pics from Moreno’s college days before you get to some snapshots of him sporting Broncos gear. There’s a reason for that. After a rather uninspired rookie campaign in which he averaged a very pedestrian 3.8 yards per carry, Moreno has yet to show flashes of the form that made him a fixture in Athens. Couple that with the departure of playmaker Brandon Marshall, sprinkle in a few extra gimmick plays for Tim Tebow (hey, you have to sell jerseys somehow) and you have the recipe for regression. He’ll probably never be the featured back in Denver so why waste a 3/4 round pick on him? Don’t be that guy on draft day wearing the hideous Broncos throwback jersey with #27 on the back.

Stay tuned next week for a preview of the wide receivers.