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Quick Fantasy Reactions From Week 9 in the NFL

Kurt Warner

I just traded for him. That season-ending schdule is too good to miss out on

With nine weeks in the books, it’s really time to start working the phones (or the AIMs, Facebook messaging, Twitters, etc.). With only two teams left to serve their bye, depth isn’t as important any more. If you have a surplus in one area, do what you can to get rid of it and make good use of it in another area. Those extra quality players can’t help you much when they are sitting on your bench.

But also, if you know that you are going to make your league’s playoffs, start planning for the season’s last few weeks. When you are making trades, you need to put some importance on the players’ schedule in weeks 14-17. Yesterday, I made a deal in my league, trading Jay Cutler and the Giants’ Steve Smith for Kurt Warner and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. On the surface, it may look like I gave up too much when you consider what a disappointment Housh has been this season. But look at Warner’s late-season schedule. You can’t pass that up.

That pun is unintended.

Check out this link for all of your remaining strength of schedule needs. It does make a difference.

Lastly, make sure you know when your league’s trade deadline is. For my league, it’s Friday, so I really needed to get that deal done now. There are some leagues that have a deadline in a few weeks. There are some others that don’t have a deadline at all, which I think is totally unfair and can lead to late-season fire-selling among eliminated teams. Next year, make the right move. Please get a deadline in there.

From my customary seat at local sports bar, here is what I saw this past Sunday.

Falcons 31, Redskins 17

Is it just me, or does Michael Turner have a very quiet 10 touchdowns? He’s rebounded well from a slow start and in the past two weeks, he certainly hasn’t looked like a player who had 376 carries last season.

LaRon Landry obviously had flashbacks Sunday of Brandon Jacobs dancing over his head

Meanwhile, Matt Ryan continues to put up underwhelming lines. I wouldn’t say he struggled against the Redskins because he didn’t really need to do that much. But that 5.6 yards per pass average is not pleasing to the eye. He has now thrown seven interceptions and six touchdowns in the past four games and has barely averaged 200 yards a game. Again, looking at the schedule, there is little reason for optimism. Obviously, that has a negative effect on Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White.

As if it could possibly get any worse for the Redskins, it did on Sunday. Clinton Portis is doubtful for week 10 with a concussion (and it sounds like he is a good bet to miss at least two games). Plus, starting quarterback Jason Campbell has a bruised chest and a high ankle sprain. Here’s the post-game report. Ladell Betts and Todd Collins would be the new starters at those respective positions if Portis and/or Campbell were to miss time. I like Betts. I don’t care for Collins.

If you have the Denver defense this week, I envy you.

Wasn’t LaRon Landry supposed to be a physical, hard-hitting safety when he came out of LSU? So why is he doing the “stop, drop and roll” drill in front of Michael Turner? Maybe he has a good long-term memory.

Cardinals 41, Bears 21

OK, so I am not expecting Warner to throw five touchdowns in any other game this season, but with that schedule, there should at least be a few outings of three or more scores.

Forty-one points is a bit much, but get used to this against the Bears, folks. That defense is very bad and getting worse.

Tim Hightower (15 carries for 77 yards) and Beanie Wells (13 carries for 72 yards) ran well, but Wells looked better and I still think that he will be the better RB to have out of this timeshare for the rest of the year.

During Saturday’s USC game, the broadcasters talked about how Mark Sanchez and Matt Leinart addressed the team during the week. My sources say that Sanchez encouraged the Trojans to keep fighting through a disappointing season. Leinart encouraged the Trojans to give him a ride to the kegger at Kappa Delta house.

Oh and on Sunday, Matt Leinart: 0-for-1, one interception. Love it!

Matt Forte didn’t score a touchdown, but considering that he only had five carries and still gained 107 total yards, you have to take that. He’s not going to pay much of a profit after what he did, or rather didn’t do, in the first seven weeks, but he should still be very usable every week.

Devin Hester was an unproven wide receiver coming into this season. Now he is probably a quality No. 2 WR in 12-team leagues. He has less than eight fantasy points in just two games this season. He has a chance to finish as a top-20 WR, which seemed unrealistic in August.

Greg Olsen … fluke, anyone? Sell high if you can.

Bengals 17, Ravens 7

As a Ray Rice owner, this was an infuriating game to watch as the Bengals always seemed to have the ball. And yet, even though Rice had just 14 yards in the first half, he still ended up with a very solid game (135 total yards and a touchdown). Of course, an absolutely cheap 35-yard reception as time expired helped. It feels a bit sacrilegious to say this, but he is turning into the next Maurice Jones-Drew.

Joe Flacco was horrible, but give credit to a really underrated Bengals pass defense. That is a group to be watch.

It took 34 carries, but Cedric Benson got another 100-yard game. You want to talk about nice schedules, look at this. Other than a matchup with the Steelers this Sunday and the Vikings in a few weeks, that is amazingly easy.

You know it was a slow week on the injury report when Chris Henry was on of the top items. Oh well. At least he didn’t get arrested. Stubbornly, I’m sure I’ll have him back on my sleeper list next summer.

“Is that a dollar bill?” I said. That stunt by Chad Ochocinco is probably funniest thing I’ve seen this season. I have to think about it, but I think that is tops.

Colts 20, Texans 17

It was yet another letdown for the Texans in another one of their “biggest game in franchise history.” But really, they should have won this game. It’s ironic that starting running back Steve Slaton gets benched last week for all of his fumbling problems and then Ryan Moats, who started this week goes ahead and fumbles as Houston’s going in for a touchdown.

Or maybe not? Dun, dun, duunnnnnnn!

Slaton is still the best running back here and will continue to be the most productive. He did score a short touchdown in this game as Moats gained just 38 yards on 16 carries. But as long as Slaton is sharing carries, he won’t be more than a flex play.

As many expected, Matt Schaub did look a little lost at times without tight end Owen Daniels, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. Kevin Walter, David Anderson and Jacoby Jones just don’t match up. But I am not worried about Schaub going forward. He has a nice schedule, will keep throwing and never underestimate the power of Andre Johnson.

Peyton Manning ended up with a pretty solid line, but watching him rip up the Texans in the first quarter for 19 completions on 25 attempts was beautiful.

Larry Johnson

He wants to go to a winner. And why not? If he wanted to go to a loser, he could have just stayed in Kansas City

Donald Brown should be ready to return in week 10, but Joseph Addai continues to put up solid numbers every week. Even with Brown back to take away 10 or so touches per week, Addai is looking like a nice No. 2 RB in fantasy. He ran well against a good Texans run defense and has five touchdowns in the past five games. It’s a far cry from what we saw last year when I thought Addai was already over the hill.

Jaguars 24, Chiefs 21

So, Larry Johnson has finally been cut by Kansas City. Good riddance. I’m sure someone will pick him up soon. And yes, the Chiefs have a horrible offensive line, no passing game to speak of and questionable play-calling. But Johnson looks painfully slow and dances behind the line way too much. I think he is absolutely finished as a consistently productive fantasy back.

Maybe for me, that thought will be Joseph Addai, part two.

By the way, Larry Johnson would like to be signed by the Steelers. In a related story, I would like a job at Sports Illustrated. Thank you.

Jamaal Charles and Kolby Smith basically split touches during the game as they replaced Johnson. Charles had nine touches to Smith’s five. Charles worked most of the first and third quarters while Smith played in the second and fourth quarters. Going forward, head coach Todd Haley must give Charles more than six carries. He is clearly the better player and is a nice start this weekend at Oakland.

Chris Chambers goes from being in Larry Johnson’s shoes (cut on Monday) to LARRY FITZGERALD‘S? (70 yards, two touchdowns on Sunday). But he only caught three balls and had just five targets. I am not a believer.

Apparently, Kansas City thought Mike Sims-Walker got suspended for this game. If you don’t like bad pass coverage, don’t look here or here.

Patriots 27, Dolphins 17

This game pretty much went the way I expected, with the Dolphins hanging tough and Ted Ginn showing again that he has no hands.

Ronnie Brown was a stud earlier this season, but you knew that string of two-touchdown games was not going to continue. Granted, Brown threw for a score to kind of save his fantasy line, but he has now been held to less than 50 yards rushing in three consecutive games. I think that is more of the norm for Brown than his early-season success. He does have a pretty good schedule remaining, but matchups in weeks 15 and 16 with Tennessee and Houston, respectively, are not promising when you consider how Brown has played against decent run defenses lately.

Big game for Randy Moss, Tom Brady and Laurence Maroney. Wes Welker catches nine balls. Pretty standard stuff against Miami. Moving on … .

Buccaneers 38, Packers 28

Aaron Rodgers

When you hold a football for as long as it takes to read War and Peace, even the weakest pass rush will get to you

What do you mean no one should lose them all? I was rooting hard for the Lions to get slaughtered every week last season like those back in the Coliseum. And this year, I rested my hopes on the Bucs. But nooooooooo!!! Some fresh-faced upstart has to lead them to victory. Just cancel the rest of the season. I’m so depressed.

There has been a lot of publicity this year given this year to the Packers’ bad offensive line. That shouldn’t have been a problem against a Tampa Bay team that had just 11 sacks on the season entering week nine. Yet, Aaron Rodgers was sacked six times. But it wasn’t his line’s fault. Rodgers just stood in the pocket and acted as if super glue was on his hands. And I don’t attribute the sacks to the Bucs’ defense, because they entered that game with one of the worst pass defenses in the league. Plain and simple, Rodgers was atrocious in making decisions.

Still, he accounted for three touchdowns, so it wasn’t all bad for fantasy owners.

James Jones and Donald Driver caught another touchdown. Greg Jennings, who had the most targets of the three, would have had a score as well if he hadn’t let a well-thrown pass from 45 yards away fall right through his open hands. That ended as an interception. Things are slowly starting to turn in his favor.

Congratulations to the Buccaneers … but this is a huge mirage. Two non-offensive touchdowns were really the difference in this game. Josh Freeman threw three touchdowns, but completed less than 50 percent of his passes and still made plenty of mistakes. Cadillac Williams was ineffective. Derrick Ward, who was a mid-draft pick in August, scored a receiving touchdown, but got just four carries. I don’t care to own anyone on this offense, ever. Even after this high-scoring output, I am going to play the Miami defense this week at home against the Bucs.

And those uniforms are uglier than Terrence Cody in a tank top.

Saints 30, Panthers 20

A week after picking off Kurt Warner five times, the Panthers keep Drew Brees under wraps, relatively. I mean, any defense that can hold Brees to one passing touchdown and force two turnovers is doing something right.

Has anyone noticed that Brees has lost a fumble in three consecutive games? No worries, but something to track.

OK, so we’ve finally got a beat on this Saints running games. After weeks of massive confusion, that’s two weeks in a row in which Pierre Thomas is the team’s most productive back and this week, he got the large majority of the carries. Mike Bell got five touches for 17 yards. Reggie Bush got nine touches and while he basically ran for about 170 yards, he gained 51. Thomas is a fine No. 2 RB going forward.

Robert Meachem puts together 98 yards and a touchdown, but he’s too boom-or-bust to trust. Marques Colston (one catch for 45 yards; how do you do, Chris Gamble?) is fine.

I am going to give myself +1 for the rhyme.

DeAngelo Williams is a stud, but Jonathan Stewart gains just 24 yards on 13 carries. Just write it off as a bad day. He’s still a good flex play in most weeks.

Seahawks 32, Lions 20

The Lions got out to a 17-0 lead, but that was because two Seattle turnovers and a boneheaded decision to go for it on fourth down. Detroit had to go just 56 total yards to get those points. And then the coaching staff decided that now would be a good time for Matthew Stafford to set a career high in pass attempts.

Expert analysis: I think that was a bad decision.

Kevin Smith is not having a great season, but how does he get just 13 carries? Ridiculous.

Two catches and 27 yards for Calvin Johnson. He is still not 100 percent recovered from his right knee injury from week five and it was glaringly obvious.

Julius Jones gets 36 yards on 16 carries against the Lions. He was typically unwatchable.

A week after throwing a fit on the sidelines in Dallas, T.J. Houshmandzadeh caught his first and only other touchdown outside of week five. I still believe in him — see: intro — during this underwhelming season, but Nate Burleson had another good game and is the wide receiver you should prefer out of Seattle.

Chargers 21, Giants 20

This is a tough one to talk about. Tom Coughlin was right; this was a must-win game. And yet, with first and goal inside the 5, the Giants can’t get it done. Instead, the rather disappointing Chargers come back thanks to Philip Rivers and the unguardable Vincent Jackson. And yes, unguardable is not a word. Ugh, the Giants are so frustrating!!! Anyway …

In weeks 14-16, San Diego has the easiest strength of schedule for QBs, so Rivers could be an absolute monster in the fantasy playoffs.

Of course, he is going to have to do a lot with LaDainian Tomlinson in the backfield. He ran for just 22 yards on 12 carries and caught only two passes for eight yards. Looking at the schedule, I would start him in week 12 against the Chiefs and week 13 at the Browns, but that’s about it. Simply, he just isn’t very good right now and on Monday, it sounded like he was trying to come to terms with the downside of his career.

LaDainian Tomlinson's career is on a slippery slope. And he knows it

Brandon Jacobs was better than Tomlinson, but still not very productive. He has a good playoff schedule, but he just isn’t running as hard as he was in the past couple seasons. He also got dinged up in this game, which limited his carries to just 11. He looks like he is dinged up all over. He should be treated as nothing more than a No. 2 RB in 10- or 12-team leagues.

Eli Manning was steady, but that’s what the Giants need him to be. Steve Smith caught a short touchdown, which saved a pretty mediocre day for him. He will continue to be a great player in point-per-reception leagues, but in standard leagues, expect a lot more 50-60 yards outings with a touchdown here and there.

Can you tell that I just traded him?

Titans 34, 49ers 27

Vince Young becomes the starting quarterback and the Titans’ defense does a complete 180-degree turn from the first six weeks of the season? I don’t think they have a correlation, but that defense is playing much better — which isn’t hard when you consider how horrid that unit was. I love them this week against the Bills.

Chris Johnson is amazing. This one-yard run is probably unappreciated for its need of supreme balance and quickness. This week against the Bills … are you kidding me? He may go for 200 and three.

Thank God that LenDale White isn’t being used much any more. He was worthless before tequila and he’s actually worse after it. Stupendous.

I’ll believe in Justin Gage when I see some consistency. He may have a rapport with Young, but most of his day came off two deep passes.

I’ll say the same thing with Jason Hill‘s connection with Alex Smith. You have to take notice when a receiver scores two touchdowns, but there is no reason to take a chance on a one-week wonder WR this late in the season.

At least Smith has Vernon Davis, who is now a must-start tight end after his 10-catch, 102-yard effort.

Frank Gore was tremendous with 188 total yards and a score, but he got poked in the right eye late in the game and the result isn’t very pretty. He will be fine for Thursday’s game against the Bears. You can’t say the same for his backup, Glen Coffee, who has been ruled out due to a concussion he suffered in the fourth quarter.

Cowboys 20, Eagles 16

You knew what you were getting when you drafted Brian Westbrook. You knew he was fragile, but now it’s just getting annoying. Westbrook practiced on Wednesday and Thursday next week, but apparently suffered some headaches on Friday and the Eagles took the better-safe-than-sorry route and held him out of the Dallas game. The Eagles said Monday that they will continue to be cautious with Westbrook’s post-concussion symptoms, and as if that wasn’t enough, the ankle injury that caused him to miss the team’s week three game is popping up again. Oy vey!

Backup runner LeSean McCoy had a very Westbrook-esque game on Sunday with 54 rushing yards on 13 carries and 61 receiving yards on seven catches. He is a solid start for every week that Westbrook misses and will probably get about 7-10 touches a game when he returns.

It was a tough Sunday night for all of the Eagles. DeSean Jackson didn’t catch a pass of more than 50 yards, so obviously he didn’t score. No worries. Donovan McNabb threw a couple of picks but it’s nothing much.

Don’t get the wrong idea though; that Dallas pass defense is overrated. It can still be exploited and you shouldn’t fear starting good quarterbacks against it.

The Eagles are notoriously bad at guarding the tight end, but even in this matchup, Jason Witten couldn’t do much (seven catches, 43 yards, no touchdowns). He was the clear-cut No. 1 option at the beginning of the season of a rather thin position. Now, he’s barely in my top five, behind the likes of Gonzalez, Davis, Dallas Clark and Antonio Gates at least.

Roy Williams with 75 yards in a rebound game? No thanks.

We basically assumed that with Marion Barber and Felix Jones healthy, Tashard Choice wouldn’t hold much value. That seems to be right. Even though he vultured a short score, Choice got just three carries.

But only four carries for Jones? Uh-oh. Since he returned from injury, he has touched the ball just 23 times in three games. He has basically turned into Reggie Bush without the receiving skills.

Barber is the only running back I would care to use right now out of this group and even then, he looks like a mediocre No. 2 RB.

Steelers 28, Broncos 10

Kyle Orton did his best Kyle Orton impersonation. Seriously, you didn’t really think he had stopped being mistake-prone?

As much as I think we have figured out the pecking order of running backs in New Orleans and Dallas, things got really confusing in Denver on Monday. Five carries for Knowshon Moreno? He had gotten 18 and 10 in the past two games. Correll Buckhalter had a rather normal nine carries. I understand that the Broncos were forced to throw often in this game, but that just seems like a misuse of a good running back. Things should clear up this Sunday against the Redskins.

I know it looked like Eddie Royal had a good connection going early in the game with Orton, but don’t let him back into your heart. Royal is just a bust, nothing more than bench fodder. Let him remain that way.

Rashard Mendenhall is now an every-week start, especially considering his remaining matchups, including games against Oakland, Cleveland and Kansas City. Huuuuuuuuuuuuge.

Hines Ward‘s yardage total was going to even out sooner or later, but he should continue to be a solid red zone target and a good start in most games. Or hopefully you got what you could for him a few weeks ago when his value was inflated.

Rashard Mendenhall was in the dog house during the summer for a lack of work ethic. Apparently, he's made some big changes as he is now working over defenses

That’s it for week nine. I’ll cut down on the tags this week. I am trying to get these posted sooner in the week, but I always underestimate how much time it takes to put this together. I know I should probably make the entries on each game shorter. But I probably won’t. I love to hear myself talk, even if it is in inaudible script.

Make sure to set your lineups in time for Thursday night’s game between Chicago and San Francisco, and good luck in week 10!

  1. November 13, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    I do not know how much of a pain it is for you to write these, but please continue to do so, even at such great lengths.

    It is the perfect Internet reading, so don’t fucking change it.

    • spokes310
      November 13, 2009 at 3:43 pm

      Thanks for reading, as always!

      It’s not that it’s a pain (I have time). I’m just bitching. All the linking and fact-checking takes time. But I’m just being a sourpuss.

      And I will continue to do it.

      • November 13, 2009 at 4:29 pm

        fuck fact-checking, IT’S THE INTERNET!

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