Posted on: November 14, 2008 9:43 am 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

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

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.


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, 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!
Posted on: September 23, 2008 9:17 am

LT running in slo-mo because of sore toe?

I got a good look at LaDainian Tomlinson running the ball last night against the Jets, and I didn't like what I saw.

I don't know if his toe is the problem, or if his age is the problem, but Tomlinson simply isn't the same back we've come to lean on in Fantasy Football. In fact, I'm not even sure if he's a No. 1 Fantasy RB anymore.

What I am about to say is going to make you groan and cringe: Last night, Tomlinson reminded me of Shaun Alexander, circa 2007.

Ugh, I feel dirty just TYPING that.

I'm a big fan of Tomlinson, especially since he's such a big part of Fantasy Football. Like all the other big name offensive NFL players, someone in every single league relies on LT each week, so it's in everyone's best interests that he plays well.

But in Week 3, with the national spotlight on him, Tomlinson's electric moves and trademark acceleration were replaced by a seemingly magnetic draw to Jets defenders on every single carry he had. Shaun Alexander and Cedric Benson were two rushers who had that last year, and they're both out of the league now. It's not surprising at all that Tomlinson's longest run of the game -- on 26 carries -- was five yards. The two touchdowns were both short-yardage jobbers where all he had to do was dive. It was painful to watch.

Worse yet, there were times when San Diego ran the ball, and I did see that trademark speed. "Oh, there he is," I thought. But every single time, it was Darren Sproles.

After the game, Tomlinson pinned his shaky yardage on his sprained right big toe.

"Today was going to be one of those physical running days," Tomlinson said. "Making one cut and going straight ahead is not a problem for me."

He added that he was happy with how his toe felt after the game.

"I think I'm pretty close. If my toe feels like it does now, I think I'll practice for the full week this week," he said.

So the bottom line is that Tomlinson feels his toe is holding him back. For now, we have no choice but to take his word for it. And for the sake of the millions of people who start Tomlinson in their Fantasy leagues week in and week out, I hope he's right.
Posted on: August 30, 2008 10:37 am

Fantasy impact of losing OT Bryant McKinnie

The NFL has suspended OT Bryant McKinnie four games. What does this mean for Adrian Peterson?

Surprisingly, not as much as it will mean to Tarvaris Jackson (or whomever is starting at QB for Minnesota).

Let's drill deeper ...

McKinnie's suspension is for four games for violating the Personal Conduct Policy. I'm a huge fan of McKinnie, a fellow Hurricane and someone who used to talk to him on a weekly basis back when he was going through the draft process, and I think he's a solid left tackle and a big reason why the Vikings' run game is so good.

But his absence will make an impact. Artis Hicks, a seven-year veteran, will start in his place.

WEEK 1: Minnesota at Green Bay. Hicks will go head-up with Packers DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila on passing downs and Cullen Jenkins on running downs. This matchup isn't as fearsome as you might think as KGB has taken a step back and is actually hurt right now. Jenkins is a versatile big boy but he shouldn't overmatch Hicks.

WEEK 2: Indianapolis at Minnesota. Hicks will take on Dwight Freeney. Oof. Freeney is well rested after missing a chunk of last year with an injury. Even though he'll be at home, I don't think he'll do very well against the speed and quickness Freeney utilizes.

WEEK 3: Carolina at Minnesota. Hicks draws Julius Peppers as his opponent. Double Oof. Peppers has been a house of fire this preseason, something new from him. Obviously, he realizes his 2007 season was a huge bust and if he's going to cash in on his contract year, he needs to play inspired ball. I don't like Hicks' chances here, either.

WEEK 4: Minnesota at Tennessee. Assuming Hicks isn't benched by now, his opponent here is Kyle Vanden Bosch, who is a powerful bull rusher who not only can get to the quarterback, but also stop the run. To be honest, this is the only matchup I'd be a little nervous about Adrian Peterson not performing well in.

Ultimately, I think Jackson will see much more pressure in the pocket than Peterson will have against the run. Peterson remains a top-five Fantasy pick, but I might go elsewhere for a backup QB.
Posted on: August 21, 2008 4:39 pm
Edited on: August 21, 2008 4:41 pm

Fantasy Huddle: DeSean Jackson

Since Terrell Owens left Philadelphia in a huff in 2005, the Eagles have been desperate for a game-breaking receiver. Spurned in their effort to sign Randy Moss away from the Patriots this offseason, the club spent a second-round pick on DeSean Jackson. While it appeared at the time that the Eagles were adding another short, speedy receiver to their corps of wideouts, we now know that they picked someone who can attract quite a crowd.

And now with Kevin Curtis sidelined with a sports hernia for the start of the regular season, Jackson is cruising to a starting job.

Aside from a hamstring strain that kept him off the field at the start of training camp, Jackson has been lights-out with the Eagles. He's displayed his break-neck speed in practice and learned from a good mentor that studying the playbook is the most important thing he can do. It's paid off: Jackson is leading the team in receptions this preseason with 122 yards on a dozen catches.

In his most recent preseason game vs. the Panthers, Jackson started and saw time with the first- and second-team offense (thanks to teammate Reggie Brown leaving early with a hamstring injury). His seven-catch, 71-yard performance was impressive. So were the 14 passes he was targeted for, including a deep lob down the left sideline where Jackson had his man beat by a yard but couldn't catch up to Donovan McNabb's pass. By the start of the regular season, that will be fixed.

Jackson spoke after the game and talked about how he developed into a reliable offensive threat so early on in the preseason, who he's modeled his game after, and much more about his spot with the Eagles.

You saw a lot of reps against the Panthers, playing with the first- and second-team offense. Did you know coming in that you'd see so much playing time?

"I did. It was great."

What feeling do you have when you're asked to contribute so much right away?

"It's great. There can't be no better feeling than to be in this offense with Donovan, Westbrook and all of the receivers. I'm just going to keep doing my work and every practice, every game, I'll just do the best I can."

Does it surprise you that you were thrown at 14 times?

"I'm not surprised. They've been giving me a lot of balls in practice. I'm just happy, but I'm a young rookie in the NFL and I've got a lot of work to keep doing."

You're listed at 5-foot-10, and I imagine that you've had to defend your size at every level you've played at.

"I can't worry about my size. It is what it is, and that's what you get. You have got to go out there and play football and have fun."

Would you say you play beyond your size because of your great vertical and the way you play?

"I feel like I do. I feel like I don't play nothing like my size. I can catch the ball across the middle, I can do whatever I need to get open and help this team."

Is there someone in the pros now who you feel like you've modeled your game after?

"Steve Smith. I watched him when I was younger. I've always liked his after-the-catch ability and what he's able to bring to the football field, scoring deep touchdowns and being very quick and versatile."

It's well documented that you've worked on your game with Jerry Rice. What are some things that he may have taught you that you've run into in these first few games?

"The biggest thing Jerry taught me was to work hard, understand the playbook, put in the extra work and just do the little things to get better to stay in this league for a long time. The biggest thing for him was, he was in the league for 17 or 18 years, and every year he worked like it was his first year. Nothing changed, he kept doing the hard work. So I'm just trying to do that."

Did he teach you anything about the West Coast offense?

"No. He's out of the game now and he doesn't really know this offense (compared to the version he was in). Coach Marty (Mornhinweg) used to coach him, and so there's a little similarity. Like I said, the biggest thing he taught me was to stick my head in that playbook."

What's the hardest part about learning this offense?

"There's just a lot of plays. That's the hardest thing. Once you feel like you've got the offense, there are more things that come in there that you're like 'Whoa.' That's the biggest thing."

Category: NFL
Posted on: August 21, 2008 1:36 pm

Latest rankings updated

Lots of changes following our most recent rankings and projections movement. The projections have been updated; here are the highlights from the rankings:


Carson Palmer and Derek Anderson flip flop. Palmer's receiving corps gets better with Chris Henry coming aboard while Derek Anderson's sour play this preseason knocks him down a step. Both are still No. 1 Fantasy QBs, but they obviously have more questions surrounding them than you'd like with your starting passer.

Donovan McNabb, Marc Bulger, Matt Hasselbeck take a dip; Eli Manning benefits. The Eagles lost WR Kevin Curtis, which will undoubtedly hurt McNabb's early-season stats. Marc Bulger's early departure against the Chargers is construed as what's to come for him thanks to a subpar offensive line. Matt Hasselbeck's back is in worse shape than his receiving corps. All this while Eli Manning has played moderately well without Plaxico Burress this offseason, and his receiving crew is awfully deep.

Jon Kitna, Matt Schaub inch up. Based on the strength of their preseason play (especially Kitna's).


Backups on the rise. Just making an adjustment on Maurice Morris, Derrick Ward and Fred Jackson. All three are expected to see some sort of playing time in Fantasy circles this season and should be drafted.


Bengals on the move. Chad Johnson slid past Wes Welker and could slide further depending on the severity of his shoulder injury. We thought nothing of it until they added Chris Henry. Now there's talk he might miss some time. Henry debuts at 58th among WRs, by the way.

One Lion jumps another. Calvin Johnson is flying up draft boards, so we took another look at him and his teammate, Roy Williams. Citing Kitna's tendency to chuck it at Johnson every time he's in single coverage, he's got a shot to put up better numbers than Williams, who should still do well as he's in a contract year. Johnson is 15th, Williams is 16th, and I think even Williams -- a Fantasy buff like you and me -- wouldn't argue for long about that one. Jon Kitna's looking really nice right about now.

Kevin Curtis stumbles, fumbles and crashes. A sports hernia surgery, which is scheduled for Thursday, by the way, is serious stuff, especially for a receiver who relies on speed. Our guess is that he will miss the first three weeks of the season. If that happens, then he'll be away from Fantasy owners for four of the first seven weeks of the season. Not a lot of value left there, especially considering his inconsistent production. DeSean Jackson should get the first chance to step up and be a factor in Philly's passing game. It looks like he's got a solid knowledge of the offense already. Reggie Brown is still saddled low. Anyone else wondering why McNabb's stock is tumbling?

Bears WRs down, Eddie Royal up. Royal is catching on strong with the Broncos and should start the season with the first-team offense. Meanwhile, Kyle Orton's arm isn't so good for Marty Booker and Devin Hester. The deep game is better with Grossman, believe it or not.


Ben Utecht down. Chris Henry will take some catches off of his plate.

Agree with these changes? Disagree with these changes? Sound off on the message board below. I'll check out the responses and jump in the conversation.
Posted on: August 14, 2008 7:17 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2008 12:53 am

Live Preseason Coverage from Philadelphia

12:46 a.m.: The Eagles won in dramatic fashion on a night that saw a ton of rain and a near-hour rain delay. I just got back from the locker rooms -- here are the highlights on upcoming stories from this game:

-- DeAngelo Williams was friendly after the game and was happy both with his results and his reps. He's toting the company line that whatever the club wants to do at running back is fine with him, but he's got some solid film this preseason that says he's ready to lead.

-- Jonathan Stewart was low-key and definitely quiet. Reminded me of Ricky Williams, which may or may not be a good thing. I gave him the eyeball test, and while he's built well, he's a little shorter than I imagined. Then again, I was face-to-face with Brandon Jacobs last week and I felt like Papa Smurf standing next to Andre the Giant.

-- Also spoke with coach John Fox after the game. Not worried with the loss, he still is not sure of how they'll use the running backs.

My guess, after two preseason games, is that Williams will start and begin the season posting his best stats.

-- Also got to talk to DeSean Jackson, who was modest. Nursing a wrapped left pinkie finger, Jackson knew he'd see a lot of work tonight and was not surprised to hear he was targeted 14 times. He did NOT like questions about his height, so I asked if he felt like he played bigger than what he's listed at, and he defended himself well.

He's going to be a player in this league -- assuming he can stay on the field.

Those stories coming to you hopefully tomorrow here on

That'll do it for me. Special shout out to my cousin, Michael Richard, wishing him and Elise the best as they get married this weekend, as well as a wave of the hand to Gordon Schumway and his very cool new shade of blue.

11:30 p.m.: Another rookie disappointing tonight: James Hardy, who went catchless for the Bills in their win over Pittsburgh in Toronto.

According to the play-by-play feed, Hardy didn't even have a pass thrown his way. Not sure if that's accurate. He might have gotten hurt for all I know. If I hear something, I'll put it in.

11:23 p.m.:
Looks like Jonathan Stewart's night is over. Suffice to say, DeAngelo Williams looks a lot better.

Stewart had four runs, three of which were interior, and he ended with 3 yards. He looked tenative, like he had to think about where he had to go. It's even tougher to swallow when you consider he went up against Philly's second-string defense.

Williams, on the other hand, has been at this for a long time and looked like it. He had 32 yards on eight carries, aided by a 23-yard run in the second quarter. He also had 13 yards on two catches. Way more polished, and Williams wasn't taken off the field on any play.

Bottom line: Stewart has a ways to go.

11:18 p.m.:
Through three quarters, I count 14 targets for DeSean Jackson. He has seven catches. Decipher as you wish.

11:00 p.m.:
Got an eyeful of Kevin Kolb. While he's a dart thrower, he's far from ready. Several balls were way low, one very deep ball was on the money for Greg Lewis, who caught it but couldn't come down in bounds.

I think DeSean Jackson has been targeted like 10 times tonight. Official count later. They're gonna lean on him.

10:45 p.m.: Jonathan Stewart has arrived.

First carry: off left guard, 1 yard.

Second carry: right sweep with blockers, got tripped up, lost a yard

That's it so far. Stayed on for an incomplete third-down pass.

10:20 p.m.: McNabb looked awful on last drive. Lots of high passes. He needs a big target. Couple of drops didn't help either.

Mercifully, the first half ends with Carolina drubbing the clock.

10:01 p.m.: Carolina's drive seemingly ended with a touchdown in the back of the end zone from Delhomme to Muhsin Muhammad, but the replay ruled it a drop. Muhammad lay on the field after the score, stunned by a helmet-to-helmet hit. He eventually jogged off under his own power.

The Panthers are showing me that DeAngelo Williams can get it done. But he's the classic little guy at running back. One play is a loss for 2 yards, the next is a gainer. Williams was in at the goal line on this drive too, making it nearly six full preseason quarters without rookie Jonathan Stewart getting a red-zone or goal-line rep. I need to see the guy.

I haven't even noticed Steve Smith out there. Not sure he's even BEEN out there.

9:50 p.m.:
No doubt, the Eagles want to get DeSean Jackson involved. Two of McNabb's last four passes went to him, including a 27-yard improv play where he connected with RB Lorenzo Booker for the gain but was in front of the line of scrimmage.

Carolina first team still out there.

9:38 p.m.: So let me get this straight ...

The Eagles, after a 58-minute rain delay, drive into field goal range with their first-team offense in the driving rain on a very wet field, and opt to try a fake shovel pass on the FG attempt, only to see CB Richard Marshall be johnny-on-the-spot and intercept the ball and run it back 78 yards for a touchdown.

Weirdest. Preseason game. Ever.

9:30 p.m.:
Shows you what I know. Here comes McNabb ...

9:25 p.m.: The consensus in the press box is that unless either coach wants to get fired, we're going to see a LOT of the third stringers for the rest of the game. The Eagles are warming up right in front of me and I see Kevin Kolb and A.J. Feeley taking the reps. Delhomme still taking reps for Carolina, though.

9:18 p.m.:
Word has it that there will be a football game here starting soon. I just spent the last 45 minutes or so kibbutzing in the press box with friends old and new.

Still raining buckets here with some lightning still in the area. I can't imagine that either club will risk their stay players further in a meaningless preseason game with a wet turf and inclement weather. I hope I'm way wrong.

8:32 p.m.:
And, we're in a weather delay.

Gives me a chance to update this.

Philadelphia has been mostly vanilla thus far. Lots of dinks and dunks, with McNabb not hitting on deeper routes. On the deep fly pattern with rookie DeSean Jackson, McNabb was off by a smidge or else that would have been an electric touchdown. Definitely some proof that McNabb can eventually get it right with the speedy rookie and connect on some bombs. Take note.

Meanwhile, the Panthers' offense has been stifled. DeAngelo Williams had a nice dump-and-run, but can't run against this Eagles front. I'm dying to see Jonathan Stewart.

Best part about the weather: The local weather girl did a report on the big screen how there might be a possible t-storm. It was raining as the report came on. She was boooooooed by the Philly faithful. But, her report was dead on, as you can see if you're watching on TV.

8:12 p.m.: Jonathan Stewart has dressed for the Panthers. We'll see him tonight.

Carolina was pretty much stifled on their first three passes. Asante Samuel's pass break up is an example of what he'll be doing for Philly's defense this year.

8:06 p.m.:
DeAngelo Williams starting for Carolina.

8:03 p.m.: I'm not terribly far from Canada, but a Ben Roethlisberger interception killed a Steelers drive that the Bills turned around and scored with, ending on a 7-yard pass from Trent Edwards to TE Robert Royal. Wish it had ended with a Marshawn Lynch touchdown or a James Hardy catch.

Game time here. Brian Dawkins just brought down the house with player intros.

7:16 p.m.:
Greetings from lovely Philadelphia, where I'm coming to you from the Panthers-Eagles preseason game. I've already bumped into The NFL Today GM Charley Casserly, and I'm a few feet away from one of my former and favorite co-workers, current beat man Andrew Mason (if Ellen Levy could see us now).

Not a whole lot to report right now. Carolina is on the field warming up. The fans here are night and day from the fans from Detroit, where I was last week and saw more seats than fans. This place will be packed -- for a preseason game!

More to come. We hope you keep your Internet connection rolling while watching the game. Emails can be sent to
Category: NFL
Posted on: August 8, 2008 3:27 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2008 3:28 pm

Fantasy Huddle: Brandon Jacobs

After the Giants-Lions preseason game, I had the chance to talk with Giants RB Brandon Jacobs, who had no yards on his first carry, and 27 yards on his second in one series of work.

In person, Jacobs is a walking brick wall. Linebackers aren't as huge as him. But because he's so big, he gets hurt a lot. As Giants GM Jerry Reese told me, "(Jacobs) takes a lot of shots because he's got a lot of mass to hit."

Anyway, it's nothing earth-shattering, but here's our conversation.

First and foremost, how is your body doing?

"I feel pretty good. I didn't play that much or get hit that much. I just had the chance to get out and run in the open field. I got to see what I was working with. Everything will be fine. I think we'll come together as a unit, work in all this stuff and we're going to figure out what kind of a team we are."

What are your expectations for work during the regular season?

"I have no idea, and it doesn't even matter. Just as long as every time I'm out there, I'm productive."

Is the contract in the back of your mind at all?

"No, I'm done with that. There's nothing I can do about that situation, so I'm just going to go out there and compete."

So it's easier to just forget about it rather than try to resolve the problem quickly?

"Well when you're talking about money like that, it's never easy to forget about it. But I won't let it interrupt my performance."

During the game, I saw that you lined up wide and ran a short in pattern. Eli Manning had you in his sights but the ball got tipped. Is this something new for you this season?

"No, I do it. I like it because it's just another way to get out there and make a play. I know I can catch just as well as I run."

What's your assessment of the Lions defense?

"I think they're going to be pretty solid. They were missing a few people, but they have a lot of speed over there. It's a preseason game, you can't really find out what's going on, but I think they'll be pretty good."

Finally, what are your goals for the upcoming season?

"I've got some, but I'm keeping them to myself. They're big. Real big."
Category: NFL
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