Fantasy Roundtable - Week 6
Posted 10/12 by Maurile Tremblay, Exclusive to Footballguys.com
Various staff members will share their views on a range of topics each week in discussion format. Feel free to eavesdrop.
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Rams without Martz
Rams without Martz
What changes do you expect in Saint Louis
without Martz calling the plays? Is this bad news (fantasy-wise) for Marc
Bulger and Torry Holt if the Rams turn to a more balanced offensive attack
instead of throwing the ball 40+ times a game?
First off, I want to extend our thoughts and prayers out to Martz and his
family. Sometimes football has to take a back seat. To answer the question,
though, I think that the Rams will stick with the plan. Bulger and the WR corps
will be fine.
Jason Wood: Love or
hate Mike Martz as an NFL head coach, you have to respect his ability to scheme
dynamic passing attacks. Much like departed Pats coach Charlie Weis, what makes
Martz so productive is his aggressiveness. Steve Fairchild has learned from
Martz, certainly, but will he have the same pacing,
the innate sense for when to gamble in exploiting a mismatch? I don't see how
anyone can believe losing Martz is a good thing for the Rams’ passing attack.
The running game, on the other hand, may actually get a significant bump up,
and I would be looking to acquire Steven Jackson if you can find an owner who
may be reading the situation incorrectly.
Marc Levin: I
think it is great news for Stephen Jackson owners, but won't tremendously affect
Bulger or Holt. With the Rams struggling so much on defense, they are going to
have to keep throwing the ball on offense. That said, the play-calling could
become more conservative inside the red zone, and that Bulger's passing numbers
inside the 20 will suffer while RB Jackson's and PK Wilkins' opportunities will
increase. On the other hand, if he can come back after six weeks, a rested and
rejuvenated Mike Martz could be very good for Bulger owners in the FF playoffs.
Will Grant: From
what I've been reading, it looks as if Martz might be out for a significant
amount of time. To go from missing a
couple practices to a two week stay in the hospital is pretty bad. Six weeks
seems to be conservative at this point. We could be looking at him being out
for the season. As for the passing attack, I think I'd have to agree with Marc.
You'll see a slight dip in passing and increase in running, but not a huge
amount. They're not going to throw out the playbook. Why expect a significant
change? Jason's point is well taken: the crunch time play calling may not be
the same. But I am not sure it's enough to make me want sell Holt and Bulger
just yet. One interesting note in this: Martz is a 'run the
play that I call' coach. If Bulger is allowed to audible now, will that
improve or hurt the passing game?
Dave Baker: I
personally don't see much of change, at least for the next five weeks or so. If
it appears as that time arrives that Martz will be out for an extended time
beyond that, then all bets are off, but the team is built around that passing
game and I think it will continue to be so.
David Yudkin: I
tend to agree with Dave. I don't see a radical departure in the Rams' attack.
There may be some situational changes and a couple plays different here and
there, but I don't see the Rams turning into the Falcons. As Jason pointed out,
Martz has been a master of the aerial assault. Maybe Fairchild can match that
success in play calling, maybe not. But I don't see a lot of experimenting the
next few weeks. The Rams are generally in almost every game, so they are at the
very least a competitive team. Normally, competitive teams don't make radical
Ronnie Brown averaged better than five yards a carry for the second consecutive
game now. Has he shown enough to be considered the featured runner in Miami,
or are we going to see a heavy dose of Ricky Williams?
Will Grant: I'll
believe that Ricky Williams is the number one back on this team when he's
touching the ball 20 times a game.
Until then, Ronnie Brown is going to be the feature back. He has to be. The
Dolphins took him as the number one running back in this draft, number two
overall. I don't see them making that kind of commitment to Brown and then
turning the job over to Williams the minute his suspension is over.
Jason Wood: Brown
certainly seems to have gotten his sea legs. To suggest any of us really know
how Ricky Williams is going to perform upon his return would be misleading.
Sure, he's looked good in practice and gotten praise from his coaches. Yes, we
know that if he's in game shape and motivated he's capable of being a stud
(because he's done it before). But let's not forget that his return was largely
driven by financial necessity, and I'm not sure any player can excel without a
real passion for the game; at least not for an extended period of time. If I
had to crawl around Nick Saban's brain and hazard a guess, I’d say that the
Dolphins would like to run the ball a lot and get both guys some carries, but Brown
will remain the starter until his play warrants giving Ricky a look.
Dave Baker: Ronnie
Brown is the man in Miami. Ricky Williams might get some playing time, but it
won't be too significant. Unless Brown really stumbles, I think it's his job to
lose from here on out.
As Jason mentioned, it's hard to predict how Williams will do after having been
out of football for over a year. But when he's in football shape, he's one of
the top RBs in the league. I don't think the same can be said for Ronnie Brown
at this point. In my opinion, except when it comes to franchise QBs, coaches
play the guys who give them the best chance to win right now, without regard to
developing rookies for the future or other more amorphous considerations. If
Ricky Williams is a more effective running back than Brown right now, I think
Williams will get the majority of the carries. That's a huge if, though, since it's hard to know if
he's still the same RB he was a couple years ago -- or if he'll ever be the
Marc Levin: From
my understanding of Saban's recent comments in the Miami Herald, the team is planning to line both guys up in the same
backfield. They’ll probably start in that formation, and then swing Brown into
the slot and leaving Williams behind the QB. They are also putting them both in
the backfield and using Brown as a fullback for Ricky since he is such a good
blocker. Brown also has excellent hands, so the Dolphins may look to get him
into the pattern on passing downs while using Williams to pick up the blitz. It
is way too early to say that Brown
has earned the feature role. The Dolphins have to outstanding RBs, and will figure
out ways to get them both on the field.
Here’s how I see things breaking
down over the next few weeks. This weekend, I think you can expect it to be a
Ronnie Brown versus Cadillac Williams show, with Ricky just getting a few plays
to get his feet wet. Next week against the Chiefs, you will see the team bust
out the full arsenal and get both RBs a lot of work. In week 8, the Dolphins
face New Orleans, who really can not stop anyone, I would expect Ricky to run hog wild over the Saints (his
old team). After that, it really is anyone's guess. But I think both guys will
be used too much to call either one of them the “feature back.”
Cecil Lammey: Nick
Saban will want to showcase what Ricky can do so that he may trade him in the
offseason. Ronnie may have gotten his sea legs now, but if he falters, Ricky
will be there to carry the rock. Saban is a no-nonsense coach and will do
whatever it takes to win.
Maybe I'm reading into this too much, but Williams had the job and resigned,
then a year and a drug suspension later shows up
looking for his job back. I envision this as Williams slowly getting a chance
to show what he can do but he will have to earn
his way into the lineup. I think the suspension helped mitigate some of the ill
will towards RW, and in some ways the damage control on the surface looked
good. Williams was trying hard and was motivated, the team took him back, the coach encouraged him, etc. But behind closed doors,
there may not be so much harmony and unity, and I expect that Ricky Williams
will have to work very hard to get a chance to be a contributor again. I've
followed this situation for quite a while, and I am not sure if the Dolphins
want to keep Williams beyond this year or trade him, as the rumors have blown
both ways. I suspect he'll be a bye week fill-in or flex player for fantasy
purposes unless he really goes off or Brown totally tanks, neither of which I
Dave Baker: I
think the overall sentiment here is incorrect. Despite the fact that Saban was
not here last year when Ricky hurt the team so badly, I believe there remains a
feeling that the team can not trust Williams. Given that the team spent such a
high pick on Brown, I don't think the Dolphins need to "showcase"
Williams in order to trade him. Unless Brown stumbles, I think he'll remain the
main man from here on out.
Should Mike Anderson owners worry? Tatum Bell was extremely impressive in last
week's win over the Redskins (a very tough defense to run on). Has he earned a
large role -- perhaps even the main role -- in the Broncos' rushing attack
Dave Baker: I
think Anderson owners should be very worried, but hopefully they
understood this when they acquired Anderson in the first place. Anderson is much older and the Broncos spent a high draft pick on
Bell. So as Bell gets his chances and succeeds with them, it should
definitely cause concern for Anderson owners. Anything can still happen and all it takes is an
untimely fumble or missed block to make Shanahan remove Bell, but Bell's speed
and skills are too tantalizing for Shanahan to ignore much longer.
Marc Levin: Yes,
Mike Anderson owners should be extremely worried. Anderson was a “sell high” commodity a couple of weeks ago, and I
hope some folks cashed in on that one. Bell has definitely earned a larger role in the offense and I
think he is now winning the race that started in the preseason to earn the
feature role, if that role will exist on the Broncos this year. Mike Shanahan could
keep Anderson in the starting role to motivate Bell (keeping that starting back role just inches away from
his nose), but give Bell the majority of the carries later in the game. That said, Bell is the fantasy option you will want come fantasy playoff
time -- not Anderson -- regardless of whether Bell is the starter or the guy coming in to punch the defense
when it is wearing down.
Cecil Lammey: Bell is the guy that Shanny has wanted in there all along.
Mike Anderson was the "safe" choice to start the season. He entered
training camp as the starter, and did nothing to lose the job throughout camp
and the preseason. But Bell’s game-breaking is a threat every time he touches the
ball. The bigger concerns are whether Bell can hold onto the ball and pick up the blitz. He won’t
be the full-time back unless he can do those two things. But yes, Mike Anderson
owners should worry – unless they’ve got Tatum Bell on their roster as well.
Frustrated Tatum Bell Owner here . . . in a couple leagues. The thing that
scares me the most is that even though Bell has shown flashes of explosion, it doesn't seem as if
he's a 25-touches-per-game kind of back. I don't think he's even had a game
where he's touched the ball more than 20 times... For whatever reason, it seems
he's much more effective in limited use or as a change-of-pace guy. To answer
the question, I'd be very worried if I were a Mike Anderson owner who didn't
have Bell on my roster as well.
Jason Wood: Not only
should Anderson’s fantasy owners have expected this, but I think Anderson
himself was probably prepared for it. He’s stuck around through the last few
years as his role progressively diminished, which tells me he's got the veteran
maturity to know that “things change.” Anderson is a team player who wants to see the Broncos win. If
getting Bell more of the carries helps the team win games, I don’t
think we’ll see Anderson sulking over it.
Marc Levin: I
fully agree with Jason that Mike Anderson is mature enough, and has been around
the team long enough, to know that there is a great chance he will be replaced
over the next few weeks by Tatum Bell -- and that he could just as easily see
himself back in the starter role three weeks later.
Vinny Testaverde didn't have great stats last week, but he did enough to get
the Jets their second win of the season, and he got Laveranues Coles six
catches for 89 yards. Is Coles going to end up having a productive season with
Vinny at the helm?
Jason Wood: I expected
Coles to have a great season as long as his toe was OK. The guy was highly
productive (1,200+ yards) in two different offenses, on two teams with
different QBs, coaches and supporting casts; he's not without talent. Obviously
the whole Jets offense has been a disappointment to date, and while I don't
expect Vinny to recapture the magic of old, I do think he'll be steady enough
to get Coles (by far their best pass catcher, it's not even close) back to a
top 30 fantasy option week in, week out.
Testaverde might not be what he once was, but he's good enough and smart enough
to get the ball to Coles as much as possible. That might be limited in this
version of the Jets’ offense, but nonetheless, I think that Coles will see
enough targets from here out (or as long as Testaverde is at the helm) to make
him a viable option as a fantasy WR2 or WR3.
Marc Levin: I
agree with Jason. Coles' production will depend on Coles, not whoever is
pitching him the ball. When healthy, Coles is so good at getting separation,
that it doesn't really matter who the passer is so long as the passer leads him
a bit. I do not believe you will see overwhelming stats from Coles, but he may
be a great "buy low" candidate right now from an owner nervous about
Cecil Lammey: Coles
does have more value with Vinny at the helm. There is no glass slipper that
will make him into a fantasy stud, but Laveranues can become a consistent
playmaker that gets a few TDs here and there.
David Yudkin: My
Cousin Vinny still has a strong arm and can still deliver the ball accurately
and with some zip on it, two things that Chad Pennington was going to have
problems with this year. So all in all, Testaverde likely does help Coles over
the long haul, even if Vinny has a lot of rust to shake off. It remains to be
seen whether defenses will identify this and start to change their coverage
schemes to thwart Coles as a bigger threat. Curtis Martin could also help Coles
by picking his game up a notch or two.
Will Grant: The
biggest factor with Coles isn't which QB is throwing him the ball, but who else on the Jets is catching it. Coles leads the team with 22 receptions. Chris Baker
opened the season with seven catches and a TD. He's had eight receptions and a
fumble since then. Justin McCareins has 12 receptions for the first five games,
but five of them came in week two. Curtis Martin has just 10 receptions over
the first five games. With no clear #2 target to draw defensive attention,
Coles is going to see a lot of double coverage. If that continues, Coles will
struggle to reach 80 receptions this season. Top 40 WR? Probably.
Top 30? Probably not.
With Deuce McAllister done for the season, it looks like Antowain Smith moves
into the starting role, but Aaron Stecker will likely get a lot of playing time
as well. What do these guys bring to the table? Do you see either one having
much fantasy value for the remainder of the season?
Jason Wood: I'm very
close to abandoning the Saints entirely. Aaron Brooks and Donte Stallworth are
the most maddening players at their respective positions, and the team is now
dangerously close to falling over a precipice I don't think the coaching staff
can survive. With Deuce out for the season, one has to wonder whether Smith
and/or Stecker will bring much to the table on a consistent basis. I know I
wouldn't look forward to having to start either one of them regardless of the
Will Grant: I've
picked up Stecker and Smith in the league where McAllister was my regular
starter, but I'm not convinced they're going to see my starting lineup much. Stecker filled in nicely for McAllister last season, but
this is not the same Saints team. Deuce is averaging just 3.6 YPC. Can you
expect any better from Smith or Stecker? Highly doubtful.
I agree with Jason: Stallworth and possibly Horn if he recovers are about all
that is left of this team for 2005.
Dave Baker: I
think Smith represents decent value. He should get the bulk of the carries from
here on out. Stecker admittedly might get the ball on third downs and in
passing situations, but he's not a viable play in my opinion. The wildcard is
Jesse Chatman, for whom the Saints just traded a late-round draft pick in 2006
to the Dolphins.
Maurile Tremblay: Chatman
is formerly LaDainian Tomlinson's backup. He rushed 65 times for 392 yards (6.1
YPC) last year in relief of Tomlinson, but he's often had trouble keeping his
weight under control. Chatman's running style is similar to Antowain Smith's.
He's got decent quickness for a big back, decent power, and great balance. He
doesn't have great speed (although he did break a few long runs last year), and
I don't know how he'd do on 25 touches instead of 5. His stamina is an issue. But
if he's in shape he could contribute.
Marc Levin: I do
not believe either Smith or Stecker will have a lot of use, but if you are in a
point-per-reception league, Stecker could be the better play of the two. With
the news that the team also traded for Jesse Chatman, it could become a REAL
mess down there as far as predicting who gets the carries, who gets the
catches, etc. I say avoid this at all costs. If you are desperate to replace
Deuce with one of these guys and are not
in a PPR league, I guess Antowain Smith is the one you want. I believe he will
ultimately be the one who earns the "start" every week. But I
wouldn’t expect the Saints’ RBs to put up any better numbers than the 49ers’
Cecil Lammey: The
Saints are struggling mightily and it will be hard to get on track in 2005. Antowain
Smith represents value because he is more than likely available in most every
league. He is a power runner with limited moves/vision/speed. But he can lower
his head and bull for some extra yardage. I like the signing of Jesse Chatman.
He was surprisingly productive last season for the Chargers and kept Michael “the
Burner” Turner on the bench. We could see a full blown RBBC with
Chatman/Smith/Stecker. Both Stecker and Smith have had some injury problems,
and Chatman has had issues with his weight. I think the Saints were smart to go
get another veteran back, but I feel that none of these guys will be the true
feature back. The real question is, can the Saints
stay in a game where they don't have to pass all day long to catch up? Getting
behind by 21 at the half certainly limits the running game. As Marc mentioned, Stecker
has the most value for a PPR league.
David Yudkin: The
Saints were having a tough enough time as it was, given their 16 game road
schedule and aftermath of the hurricane. The running game wasn’t doing all that
well even with Deuce, so I doubt any of the other guys (all much inferior to Deuce
in talent) are going to produce worthwhile fantasy numbers. We saw a similar
situation in Miami last year after Ricky Williams retired – it’s probably
best to avoid the whole thing.
Denny Green praised Josh McCown for his physical talent before the 2004 season,
comparing his size, arm strength, and overall athleticism to Daunte
Culpepper's. McCown didn't come close to living up to that hype last year, but
he's put up some crazy numbers in his two starts this season. What's his
outlook for the rest of the year? If you're Denny Green, do you start McCown
again next week against the Titans even if Kurt Warner is available? (The
Cardinals have a bye this week.)
Will Grant: San Francisco has the worst pass defense in the NFL. Carolina was ranked 23rd going into the game against Arizona. Huge numbers against both of those teams should be
taken with a grain of salt. That said, Dennis Green is going to go with the guy
he thinks is going to give him a win. Warner, McCown, Davey
or whoever. Right now that's McCown and I think that's who Green is
going to stick with. Furthermore, Arizona has no running game. McCown is the number two rusher on
the team right now. He led the team in rushing this week with just 29 yards!
His ability to run makes him more valuable to the Cardinals now that Warner is.
Just as a side note, Kurt Warner actually led the team in rushing in week one
with 11 yards.
Dave Baker: One
reason people were excited about Warner heading into this season was the
weapons he had to work with in Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. With Warner
hurt, McCown has those weapons and they proved to be valuable the last couple
of weeks. But those were against weak pass defenses and I actually don't like
the fact that the running game is so inept. For McCown to have a lot of success
the rest of the year, I think a decent running game is a must. But the mere
fact that he has those WRs gives McCown some decent fantasy potential.
Marc Levin: Yes, I
start McCown against the Titans if I am Denny Green. That does not preclude me
from letting Warner come into the game late if McCown is struggling. Maybe I
put in Warner to simply mop up, which would also cut into McCown's numbers as
garbage time numbers are a key to a fantasy QBs' success. But, I definitely
start McCown against the Titans over a gimpy Warner just returning from injury.
Warner's return, however, means McCown gets a short leash -- fantasy aside,
this game is about winning and McCown is 1-1. If the Cards lose against the
Titans, regardless of McCown's stats, we could see Green making the switch.
McCown has good athletic ability and has been known to string together some
good games from time to time. As Levin said, it's all about winning and if Denny
Green believes that Warner gives them a better chance to win then he will be in
there. I think that McCown should get a full chance to shine. Last year he was
very inconsistent, but the kid can make plays. Unfortunately, I believe that Green
will pull him at the slightest hint of trouble.
McCown has totaled 778 passing yards and 4 TDs in his two starts. I don't care
if he played my son's Pop Warner football team. Those are some head-turning numbers.
Even though the Cards lost this week, I can't see how you can bench someone who
almost had back-to-back games of 400 yards. I don't have the data in front of
me, but if you asked me how many QB have had that many passing yards over a two
week stretch, I would fathom a guess of "Not Many."
With rookie Alex Smith at QB last week, the 49er WRs as a group caught a grand
total of one pass for 13 yards. (RBs had 7 catches, TEs had 1.) Are the 49er
wide receivers going to be fairly worthless for the rest of this year with a
rookie QB at the helm like the Giants' wide receivers were last year?
Will Grant: While
worthless is a pretty strong word, it's probably an accurate statement for the
SF WRs this season. Last season Brandon Lloyd was the top SF
receiver with just 565 yards and 6 TDs (47th fantasy WR). He's over half
way there now and should be able to beat that total this season. But will he
finish top 30? Probably not. Top 40?
Maybe. That makes him a backup WR in most leagues. Battle was on his way to a nice season before his injury, but I
don't see him finishing in the top 40 for a WR either.
Dave Baker: First
of all, we're not exactly dealing with Randy Moss and Terrell Owens there in San Francisco. It's unlikely that Lloyd or Battle would be starting on any other NFL team. Then you mix in
an unsettled offensive line. Sprinkle in a generally ineffective running game
and add a pinch of a rookie QB, and you definitely have a recipe for disaster.
With Tim Rattay at the helm, the 49er WRs had some promise. With Smith, I think
they're generally worthless.
Marc Levin: I
agree with Will and Dave. If the team is committed to having Alex Smith learn
by fire (a mistake, in my opinion), then the San Francisco receivers will be an extremely shaky group. The analogy
to the Giants' receivers in 2004 is apt.
Cecil Lammey: I
agree as well. Brandon Lloyd and Arnaz Battle are both going to suffer due to
the fact that Alex Smith has a big learning curve. The biggest problem with San Francisco is their porous offensive line. Smith has absolutely
zero time to throw, and when he does have time he is not adept at making the
David Yudkin: I
think "worthless" may be a little strong. Smith should take his lumps
and might have a couple of decent games if he starts the rest of the way, so
Lloyd and Battle may have another decent week or two -- but certainly these two
are not Fitzgerald and Boldin. If you are in a deep league that starts 3-4 WRs,
Lloyd and Battle may still be decent bye week options. I wouldn’t totally
write them off, but I wouldn’t jump to acquire or start them either.
And that will wrap it up for this edition of the Roundtable. Thanks, guys. See
you next week.