Friday, September 22, 2006

Peter King's Fantasy

Fantasy footall's ridiculous emergence is a good thing. I don't think anyone will argue against that. Anyone with a vague interest in the NFL and a heartbeat plays in a league. So it would follow that its pretty near impossible to watch, listen to or read anything relating to the NFL without someone somehow tying it to its fantasy implications.

Watch Monday Night Football, where Tony Kornheiser shamelessly updates us on his team (which he might think people want to hear about, but they really don't - unless you're in Tony's fantasy league; even then I think it would be annoying). Read anyone's weekly preview column - fantasy football abounds. Listen to ESPN radio - or Sirius even, which has a whole channel devoted solely to it.

Sadly, its gotten out-of-hand. NFL experts who are good at what they do - being experts on the NFL - for some reason, can't translate that into making solid fantasy tips. Or even suggestions. The biggest culprit here, to my knowledge, is Peter King. Pete's football columns are sweet. But when he dwaddles on over to fantasy land, its more times than not confusing, pointless, and a waste of time. He writes a little column called "Ten fantasy tips." Here's what I mean:

My words in italics; Pete's in "normal."

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Tip of the Week: And don't even hesitate on the first of my 10 pieces of advice for Week 3.

1. Play Clinton Portis against Houston -- no matter who the other running back options are on your team. Some weeks, some players just feel right, even if they're not fully healthy. This week has at least 125 yards and a touchdown written all over it for Portis.

It's a must-win game for Washington, which is going against the 32nd-rated defense in the league. Big-time players play big when it really counts. Says Portis: "They [the Texans] can expect a full-throttle Portis. It's no setbacks or limited plays for me."

Alright, off to a good start. Play Portis, no matter what. Some solid advice, even if it is based on a complete gut feel and Portis saying he's ready to go, which he didn't say last week. (Oh, he did say that last week? Hmm. That makes me scratch my chin...)

2. Interesting week when it comes to the Seattle receivers. Who's going to get the ball, particularly against a Giants secondary that has been exposed two weeks in a row by Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb? My feeling is that it'll be Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram. They'll play more snaps than Deion Branch and Nate Butleson, who will split the flanker spot -- at least on Sunday.

OK, so D-Jax and Engram will get more snaps...but, like, a lot? Are they worth starting? In case I have all four of those recievers on my team, I'll just start Jackson and Engram. You're right, Pete, that is an interesting week in Seattle. Thanks for bringing it to my attention; I hadn't noticed the whole "Branch goes to Seattle" subplot and wondered how it would affect me fantasy-wise. Thanks for clearing it up.

3. Other than Kerry Collins, I would play any other starting quarterback this week ahead of Jake Plummer. That has more to do with my high regard for the New England defense than with my disrespect for Plummer, who will break out soon enough but not on Sunday night. Watch Ellis Hobbs, Jake. He's the real deal.

So...does this mean I should start New England's defense? I sure hope you were subtly - almost unnoticeably - trying to make that point, because surely NOT starting Jake Plummer is not one of the 10 most pressing things you needed to tell yuor audience, was it? I mean, it's not like the entire state of Colorado clammoring for Jake's head in favor of a rookie has made national news, has it?

You do, however, tell Jake to avoid Ellis Hobbs, however. So, after three "tips" the standing look like this:

Worthwhile and/or usable advice given to:
Jake Plummer: 1
National readership: 0

4. Don't give up on New England's receivers just yet. Ben Watson's and Troy Brown's numbers are going to get better and don't forget the name Doug Gabriel.

OK, I'll remember Doug Gabriel. I'll never forget him. Promise. And Watson and Brown will get, Pete? Any idea when? Kinda have a game this week...will they be useful? And oh yea: that rookie wide reciever they drafted in the second round that had a TD last week? Any thoughts there? Should I remember him, too?

5. I like Eli Manning a lot in Seattle. He was able to overcome those eights sacks and win on the road at Philly last week because he's got some determined playmakers around him.

Thank God Eli pulled that win out. I got a lot of points for the 'W' next to his name in the stat line. Saved my season, that win did. And his playmakers? Woo-ee. Solid. In fact, I think at flex this week, I'm starting "NYG Playmakers." I bet I win. Thanks, Pete.

6. I like Edgerrin James a lot this weekend too. Startling stat of the week: Opposing backs are rushing for 5.0 yards a carry against St. Louis, and you should have seen the look on James' face this week. He's ticked off that everyone thinks he can't run without that Indy offensive line. He might not break off a big run, but I think he'll get a touchdown, if not two, against the Rams.

Lotta man love going around this week, eh? That stat is startling: 5.0 per rush. And if ou aren't confident Edge can break a big run against that pourous of a defense, explain to me again why I should sart him?

7. Daunte Culpepper is the luckiest man in the league this weekend. He desperately needs a gimme, and wouldn't you know it, the Raiders have a bye this week. Luckily, the Tennessee Titans are willing to fly to south Florida. Culpepper comes back big, very big, this weekend, because Tennessee can't pressure the pocket.

Now, here's some good advice: Start Culpepper. At least he tried on that one. I don't tend to agree -"big, very big" ain't happening - but Pep could play good. We'll call it a draw.

8. So you want to know which Bengal receivers to play. The only healthy one is number four Kelley Washington, now that Chris Henry has a strained groin. I'm going to give you a cliche answer, based on a conversation I had with Chad Johnson recently. I don't care if he's got a headache, and a bad one, apparently. What he has inside of him is a voracious desire to play well against the Steelers, and if Carson Palmer doesn't throw him at least seven balls Sunday, Johnson's going to have a fit. So if you've got him, don't worry about the Steelers blitz or the other Bengal wideouts. Johnson will shine on Sunday.

Oh really? I should play the first receiver I drafted, no matter what? Even though he has a headache? Careful Pete...that limb is pretty flimsly. Don't wanna go out to far, now do we?

9. I'm not one to go too crazy on mid-week injuries in practice. But Simeon Rice wasn't playing well before tweaking his knee in practice Thursday, and the Bucs have no other pass-rusher who might scare Jake Delhomme. That means one thing and one thing only -- Keyshawn Johnson: six catches, 103 yards, two touchdowns.

Now, Pete knows more about the NFL than me. Clearly. But isn't it strange to recommend a reciever for an offense that scored 6 and 13 points, respectively, in its first to games? And the defense he's playing against...hasn't everyone been blown away by its opponents ability to run againt them? Didn't Atlanta rush for 946 yards last week? And isn't Jake Delhomme struggling like a mad man without Steve Smith? (He is, I've had him on my fantasy team.)

At least he made a prediction though. He gets points for originality.

10. The Saints, surprisingly, are among the league leaders with a 3.5-yard average per opponents' rush. Atlanta is coming to town. Emotional game. I'd love to tell you it'll continue for the Saints. But it won't. New Orleans has played two weak run-blocking lines -- Cleveland's and Green Bay's -- and the Saints don't have the bulk or the speed to stop the inside run or the rush on the edge of Warrick Dunn or Jerious Norwood. Expect big numbers from the Birds on the ground, just like in the first two weeks.

Ah, there we go. Finally got around to that in a round about sort of way.

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So that's my plea. Football writers - stick to football. There are nerds who lock themselves in their mom's basement all summer figuring this stuff out. Let them do what they do, and you do what you do. We'll call it a truce.

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