Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
 
Tag:Dave Richard
Posted on: January 15, 2009 10:50 am
 

Fantasy Huddle: Ed Reed

I make no secret about being an alumni of The University of Miami, and as such, I make no secret that I tend to follow Hurricanes players throughout their careers. So you won't be surprised when I tell you that my favorite player in the NFL today is Ravens safety Ed Reed.

Reed is widely considered to be not only one of the best safeties in the NFL, but one of the league's top defenders. He's the type of player you can learn from by just watching him. But by talking with him, you can also gain some insight. Reed took a conference call with the media before the Ravens' AFC Championship Game at the Steelers -- here are some of the highlights that might interest you as a Fantasy Football owner.

Every time Willie Parker goes up against the Ravens, he's slammed. He's never scored on the ground against you guys, never had a 100-yard game. I know you guys are good vs. the run against everybody, but what is it about your defense that makes life tough on him?

Reed:
"The front seven. The front seven are doing a great job. It's not just with Willie Parker, it's just with running backs in general. They take pride in stopping the run -- <i>we</i> take pride in stopping the run, but it's a totally different game now. Willie Parker is looking a lot healthier. He's running the ball a lot tougher, a lot harder. So, we've definitely got to step our game up."

And with that in mind, how did you guys rebound after the Giants game where they ran on you?

Reed:
"The way you've seen us rebound to get to this point."

You go up against Joe Flacco in practice all the time. Can you tell us when you saw him transform from a bright-eyed college passer into an NFL quarterback? When did it happen?

Reed:
"Just when I first saw Joe Flacco in mini-camps, when I saw him throw the ball, knowing that Joe can throw. He can throw the ball. When I first saw him in training camp, man, he threw his first ball, I already knew what we had in him. And it was just a matter of time, like I always said, just a matter of time of him developing into the guy he wanted to develop into. And, he still has a long way to go."

So who's the next Ravens offensive player who we should know about?

Reed:
"Shoot man, Le'Ron McClain. You already know about that guy. (Offensive guard Marshal) Yanda, who got hurt. And we've got some young receivers who haven't been playing (Marcus Smith, Justin Harper) or who are on practice squad (Edward Williams, Ernie Wheelwright). If they continue to grow, they definitely could be some show-stoppers."

What's your take on McClain getting this role in the offense and taking advantage of it?

Reed:
"It's just a tribute to the team, how guys step in and step up when their number is called."

And Willis McGahee has dealt with it well. He's still getting his carries and doing pretty well with them. 

Reed:
"Yeah, of course. That just goes to show his heart, full of team chemistry. He's going to do whatever it takes. It's no different than Edgerrin James down in Arizona. Willis took advantage of the time he had off because he was hurt. He was playing with a lot of injuries early on in the season, and that was being pointed out in a negative way, but he took advantage of that, and now he's doing the things that he needed to do on the field."

Is there a difference between this defense and those from the past?

Reed:
"Nothing has changed with this defense. If you go back and look at the past couple of years, nothing really has changed. Guys go down, guys are in, guys step up. It's the same mold. Nothing has changed with this defense."

Your defensive coordinator, Rex Ryan, is a candidate to be a head coach in a number of places around the NFL. How would you describe him as a coordinator, and do you think he'd make a good head coach?

Reed:
"After the season is done, we'll see (about) that. I think Coach is a hell of a coach, what he brings to the table. He's definitely tradition-oriented and can step in anywhere right now and lead a franchise. But that's not on me. That's up to GMs to make that decision. But as a defensive coordinator, we already know what Rex Ryan brings to the table."

You guys aren't surprising many people as the No. 6 seed in the playoffs, and one of the most underrated elements of the postseason is momentum. How important is momentum to have on your side in the playoffs?

Reed:
"Momentum is always huge. Momentum is always huge. That's why you play the game accordingly, and hopefully it stays on our side."
Posted on: December 5, 2008 10:35 am
 

Rivered by Rivers?

Count me among the throng of Fantasy analysts who expected Rivers to be a dud in Week 14. And, count me among those in the Fantasy playoffs that benched Rivers.

I took a look at the game last night and dug into Rivers' outing. Before I start, in the interest of full disclosure, I have been a HUGE Philip Rivers supporter for a long time. I studied and scouted him while he was at N.C. State and have thought the world of his skills. And yes, even with that statement, I thought he'd have a light night vs. Oakland.

First drive: The Chargers called all of two pass plays -- one was the 46-yard deep ball to Vincent Jackson down the right sideline where he somehow came down with the ball in double coverage, and with a defensive pass interference call on Nnamdi Asomugha (the stats counted because the Chargers declined the penalty). The second pass attempt was a busted play where Rivers threw out of the end zone.

Four runs and two passes for San Diego. Let's keep track of this.

Second drive: JaMarcus Russell fumbled on a sack and the Bolts got the ball back on the Raiders 12. Three runs later, LT's in the end zone.

Through this point, the Chargers have called seven runs and two passes.

Third drive: A looooong drive by San Diego that started at their own 4 and got backed up to their own 1. It was helped along by a Raiders unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Tommy Kelly and by the fact that San Diego had only one third down on the entire drive! Why? Because they ran silly against the Raiders. In addition to the 11 called running plays on the drive, Rivers scrambled on two plays (his third run on the drive was a dive on fourth-and-1). Counting Rivers' scrambles, which were likely passing plays that dissolved, the Chargers called four passes on the drive.

Touchdown play: The play call was a delay screen to Darren Sproles, who caught it near the line of scrimmage and sped into the end zone. Nice play by Sproles.

So we're at 18 runs and six passes. That's exactly a 3-to-1 ratio. You tell me how they've chosen to attack the Raiders.

Fourth drive and touchdown play: A little bit of deja vu. After an LT run and an incomplete toss, Rivers on third down threw a perfect deep ball down the right sideline to a wide open Vincent Jackson (on the other side of the field from Nnamdi Asomugha, by the way), who caught the ball and easily scored. 59-yard pass play. Great pass by Rivers.

19 runs, eight passes.

Fifth drive: A three-and-out as the Chargers tried the run three times and finally the Raiders wised up and stuffed them.

22 runs, eight passes. This is what we were expecting, and this is why we suggested Rivers as a sit for Week 14.

Sixth drive: The Chargers get great field position on the Raiders 37 following a JaMarcus Russell interception. Inside of two minutes, the Chargers predictably go into pass-frenzy mode as most offenses do with 2:00 to play. Rivers struggles, connecting on one of five pass attempts, with three of the attempts deep balls. Only one run play on the drive, which ends with a field goal.

23 runs called, 13 passes called through one half of play.  Rivers is 5-of-11 passing, but he's got 149 yards and two touchdowns. While we can definitely deduce that the Chargers wanted to run the ball like mad, they also had the deep ball as part of their repetoire.

Seventh drive: A run-run-pass three-and-out.

25 runs called, 14 passes called.

Eighth drive: Another Chargers drive that stalls, this time at midfield. On this drive, we get a real good idea of who Rivers has confidence in as he attempts to connect with Vincent Jackson on three of his four tries. But also note that San Diego came out on this drive running, giving LT the first two touches before Rivers hit Sproles on a screen for a first down, then hit Jackson on the next play to change up the play calling. The drive stalled when Rivers missed on two passes, one deep down the right sideline to Mr. Jackson (notice any trends lately?). This was a good attempt by the Chargers' staff to mix up the play calling a little bit.

We're up to 28 runs called, 18 passes called.

Ninth drive: The Chargers continue to change things up when on the first play of the drive they go after Asomugha with Chris Chambers with a deep pass down the left sideline, but it's not complete. The mixing up worked because Tomlinson rushed for nine yards on the next play. Through a series of penalties, the Chargers got backed up into a first-and-20 and Rivers couldn't complete a pass, watching the drive end on a run on third-and-20.

Counting a LT run on a play that was nullified by a penalty, we're up to 31 runs vs. 22 passes called.

10th drive: The Chargers get the ball at midfield after the Raiders turn the ball over on downs and revert back to running, probably because they wanted to grind down the clock, get their bell cow back some carries and just otherwise take it easy. One run by Rivers was on a shotgun play that was likely a pass and will be counted as a pass.

Touchdown play: This is what grinds my gears -- the Chargers, as predicted, run all over the place, then on a lousy screen from Rivers, Sproles turns on the afterburners and finds the end zone. Second screen pass TD for Rivers on the game.

Our count is at 36 runs and 25 passes called. And now the score is at 34-7 -- a blowout. Normally when that happens, you see a lot more running ... and that was accounted for in our pregame prognosis for Rivers.

So if you're not a football purist, your count ends here with the 36/25 run-pass playcall ratio.

11th drive: Three runs by Jacob Hester. Chargers punt.

12th drive: Four runs by Jacob Hester and the game ends.

Final tally: 43 runs called by the Chargers vs. 25 passes called. This is what we expected.

Now here's something completely unexpected and something truly tough to explain:

Rivers completed 10 passes! That's it.

Vincent Jackson had half of them.

Running backs accounted for four of them, all on short screens.

Chris Chambers, Antonio Gates and LaDainian Tomlinson had NONE of them. Chambers was thrown at three times. Gates was thrown at twice. Tomlinson was off the field on many passing downs. 


While we are all mad/disappointed/disgusted/thrilled
our opponents benched Rivers, the reality is that we made a pretty decent choice on the surface. If I had told you that the quarterback you were going to start was going to hear his number called 25 times out of 68 plays and complete just 10 of his passes, you would have started anyone else.

That said, feel free to use the space below to explain why you started Rivers, or why you're angry about benching him. Go ahead, let us have it.

It's just one of those games where a quarterback throws a touchdown on 30% of his completions. Happens all the time.

/sarcasm.
Posted on: November 28, 2008 10:10 am
 

Breaking down Westbrook's Thanksgiving night

I watched the Cardinals-Eagles game twice, once live and again on DVR, checking out how Brian Westbrook was able to cut up the Cardinals. Like a good handful of Fantasy Football owners out there, I sat Westbrook in my league. Forty points on my bench, and I need to win this week to get a high playoff seed.

Before I break down Westbrook's performance, let's look at why he was a risky play in Week 13. For starters, he had been playing very poorly over his last four games, totaling 61 carries for 186 yards (3.0 avg.) and 14 catches for 74 yards (5.3 avg.) and no touchdowns. This was attributed to knee and ankle injuries slowing him down, and it was obvious watching him in the games before Week 13 that such was the case. And like the rest of the players who played on Thanksgiving, he was going on three days rest. The Cardinals defense was also stronger against the run than the pass, yielding 22 passing touchdowns this season vs. eight on the ground. And, Arizona had allowed one 100-yard rusher all year.

So making the case to call Westbrook a must-start was tough considering these facts. We did refer to him as a "middle-end No. 2 Fantasy RB with obvious upside" in his player analysis days before the game and never called him a must-bench. Obviously, if you did bench him, you did because you had someone else who was healthier and had a better matchup. That makes sense, and it's normally good Fantasy management. Realistically speaking, the only semi-reasonable excuse you could give to call Westbrook a must-start is that "he's a stud and you never ever sit your studs." Of course, if you had used that brilliant analysis in any of Westbrook's previous four games, you looked like a fool. But I digress ...

The primary reasons for Westbrook's success were because the Cardinals didn't defend the run as aggressively as they did the pass, and in conjunction with that, the Eagles' offensive line was highly functional and able to push Arizona's front seven around. Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and quarterback Donovan McNabb also deserve some high praise as they were also big reasons for Westbrook's success.

First drive: Philadelphia went dink-and-dunk, which is common with west-coast offenses, and Westbrook had a hand in it. He had four carries on the 12-play drive and helped set the table for easy second- and third-down conversions with good gains. The Cardinals did a nice job closing in on him once he got past the line of scrimmage, but he routinely was able to scoot through nice-sized holes carved out by his offensive line.

First TD: An awesome play call where McNabb goes back to pass and then shovels it to Westbrook, who made the rest of the play elementary from 5 yards out. I am a big fan of the shovel pass because when the quarterback takes from center, it looks like a pass, and the defense adjusts. But the shovel pass is essentially a glorified handoff, and it fools the defense that's already on its heels and not ready to stop the run.

Second drive: Philadelphia capitalizes on a Kurt Warner interception and rides Westbrook into the end zone. Westbrook gets all but two of the yards on a 41-yard drive against a tired Cardinals defense that had already been on the field for 8:47 of the game.

Second TD: Standard goal-line draw. Nothing out of the norm here, and a solid call.

Third drive: Eagles don't use him at all and go three-and-out. I imagine that someone asked someone else over the Eagles' headsets "And we didn't let Westbrook touch the ball ... why?"

Fourth drive: Philly makes up for the last drive with five runs (four by Westbrook) in their first six plays to get them into the red zone. The lone pass in those six plays was a 20-yard hook-up from McNabb to Hank Baskett on an out route that was good for 20 yards and called on a first-down, catching the Cardinals off guard. Again, excellent play calling.

Third TD: If you saw this play, you knew Westbrook was going to score even before he waved his hand in the air indicating he was wide open. The Cardinals blitzed McNabb while playing zone coverage in the end zone, but they left Westbrook all alone in the right flat from two yards out. McNabb threw a lob that Westbrook easily reeled in. He could have crawled like a baby into the end zone, that's how open he was.

So at this point, Westbrook had three touchdowns and 75 rush yards and 7 receiving yards on two touchdown catches. Mighty impressive output through 1 1/2 quarters of play.

Fifth drive: Westbrook gets one touch and the Eagles pass exclusively inside the 2:00 warning to set up a field goal. It's 24-7 at the half.

Sixth drive: One touch, 4 yards for Westbrook on a three-and-out series. Remember what happened next when the Eagles did this in the first half, dontcha?

Seventh drive: Not as much Westbrook as you might expect (four total touches on the 11-play drive) as McNabb was able to throw short routes and let his receivers do much of the work (DeSean Jackson is perfect for the Eagles' offense).

Fourth TD: Again, a standard 9-yard run. Handoff wasn't odd or anything, and Westbrook got to the end zone before the Cardinals could tackle him.

Eighth, ninth and 10th drives: The Eagles scale back Westbrook's production, holding him to three runs for 8 yards and one catch for 13 yards in 13 offensive plays.

Westbrook's night was over after the Eagles took a 48-20 lead and he didn't participate in the team's last two series.

What is amazing about Westbrook's game is that you never would have guessed he ran for 110 yards or had 22 carries by watching the game. His longest run was for 17 yards and he had just two carries for more than 10 yards. So there was no break-away run, just a lot of pounding and grinding and digging in for yardage. His offensive line really deserves a game ball -- not only did they spring him like they did, but McNabb was sacked one time during the game. Westbrook didn't look perfect -- he likely left some yards on the field, but the team's use of him near the end zone and throughout the first half was a very positive sign.

The good news for Westbrook owners: Now the running back will have as many as nine days to rest up and get his body ready for the rest of the season. This is exactly what he needs.

The bad news for Westbrook owners: The Eagles play at the Giants in Week 14. Even with Westbrook's incredible history before this season, the expectations have to be somewhat in check ... don't they?
Posted on: November 14, 2008 9:43 am
 

CBSSports.com Fantasy in the news

We had Angela Sachitano from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel swing by our office this week and talk to us about Fantasy Football and how it's exploded, especially among women. It was for part of a package of content done by the paper covering Fantasy Football. It's actually a very good story, even if it includes a mention of Women Against Fantasy Sports.

Here's the link. Video is embedded in the story.

Not only do you get to see me in the video, but you get a good look at our (modest) Ft. Lauderdale-based studio, where we shoot everything except for Fantasy Football Today. Kind of a cool behind-the-scenes look at things.

OK, fine, you also get a look at Lauren Shehadi. I'm not stupid -- I know why most of you watch these things!!
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 16, 2008 9:49 am
 

Slaton vs. Gore

Better in Week 7: Slaton or Gore? We've received a bunch of emails this morning with people asking which running back is the better start in Week 7 between Steve Slaton (vs. DET) and Frank Gore (at NYG). Let's answer the question.

Last 3 games -- average rush attempts: GORE: 15.6 SLATON: 13.6

Last 3 games -- average receptions: GORE: 3.3 SLATON: 3.3 (but one each in last two for Slaton)

Last 3 games -- average total yardage: GORE: 102.6 SLATON: 91.0

Last 3 games -- total touchdowns: GORE: 2 SLATON: 3

So from these stats, we can see that Gore is getting more touches and doing more with them, even though Slaton has one more touchdown. Let's continue.

Gore plays at NYG

Giants:
Allowing 94.4 rush yards per game on the season, two rush TDs allowed on the season. The Giants are coming back from a Monday night game where Jamal Lewis grinded out a nice stat line on them.  At home, the Giants have allowed one rush TD and zero 100-yard rushers through three games (Clinton Portis, Chris Perry, Julius Jones were the primary rushers in those games).  The Giants' run defense is strong at home.

Slaton plays vs. DET

Lions:
Allowing 171.0 rush yards per game on the season, seven rush TDs allowed on the season. Running backs have topped 110 yards rushing at home vs. Detroit in three games (Michael Turner, Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson were the primary rushers in those games; Jerious Norwood also had 93 rush yards against them in the same week Turner had 220). Five of seven rush TDs allowed have come on the road, but none last week at Minnesota.

Projections

It's close, and it wasn't done intentionally. We have Gore getting 104 total yards and a touchdown, and Slaton getting 105 total yards and a touchdown. We did project that Gore's touchdown would come through the air, not on the ground.

Additional factors

Gore always has the potential for a monster stat line, but those don't seem likely against good run defenses on the other side of the country. However, Slaton will still share the ball with Ahman Green, and the Texans are more than willing to throw to move the chains instead of run. Gore is about the best chance the 49ers have.

This is a tough call. It's Gore's potential vs. Slaton's matchup. I really don't like Slaton sharing the ball with Ahman Green. I don't like Gore going up against a pretty good run defense. But Gore will definitely win the battle of who gets more touches, and Gore has been consistent in his rushing average, getting at least 4.5 yards per carry over his last four games. By comparison, Slaton's has dipped below 4.0 twice in his last three. To me, that's the tiebreaker. Gore's bigger workload + better rushing average beats out Slaton's lesser workload and up-and-down rushing average. I'd go Gore despite the matchup. But it's a heck of a coin flip.

Agree? Disagree? Write us at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com, or post a comment below and tell us who you'd start. Good arguments will be posted either in Today's Take or here in my blog!
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com