We are four weeks into the NFL season, so I’m going to attempt something that, to my knowledge, has never been done before in any format. It’s a huge risk, but that’s how we experiment over here. I’m sort of the Kinsey of WEEI.com (minus the sadomasochism).
What I’m going to do is hand a couple of (wait for it) Quarter-Season Awards.
I know, I know. This is unfamiliar ground for us all. Let’s just see how it goes.
Remember, these picks are from a fantasy perspective.
Most Valuable Player
1. Jay Cutler
2. Drew Brees
3. Frank Gore
4. Greg Jennings
5. Adrian Peterson
6. Michael Turner
7. Tony Romo
8. Donovan McNabb
9. Brandon Marshall
10. Anquan Boldin
Cutler vs. Brees was close. Cutler’s one “bad” game was still a useful fantasy start (361 yards and a TD in Week 3), where Brees actually hurt owners with his only poor performance (216 yards and two INTs in Week 2). Plus, you have to factor in that Cutler is giving you this value as a late round pick, while Brees was a third or fourth rounder. I believe that Frank Gore (on pace for 2100 total yards) would be my pick if I had the first choice in a draft today. How good has Greg Jennings been so far? 120.5 yards per game and at least five catches in each contest. If Adrian Peterson stays healthy for the rest of the season there is no doubt that he has to top all 2009 drafts. Now that he has shown an ability to catch the ball (on pace for 36 catches) there is no weakness in his game. Maybe Michael Turner shouldn’t be so high (he’s been awful on the road), but he single-handedly gave owners a win in Week 1. I still think he’s going to be up-and-down, however, and is a great sell-high candidate. Tony Romo is quietly on pace to deliver another 30-TD, 4,000-yard season. Matt Hasselbeck, Carson Palmer and Derek Anderson all got picked WAY before Donovan McNabb in most drafts. It happens. McNabb is working on his best season since the 2004 campaign. There is no better QB/WR combo in the NFL than Cutler/Brandon Marshall. Another 100-catch season is easily on the horizon. Anquan Boldin has been a monster so far (on pace for 1464 yards and 20 TDs), but might miss a few weeks after a brutal collision last Sunday vs. the Jets that led to a (justifiable) suspension for Eric Smith. Just missing the list? Marshawn Lynch, Larry Fitzgerald, Chris Johnson, Clinton Ports and Marion Barber (who was probably around eighth on the list before his 26-yard effort vs. Washington last Sunday).
Least Valuable Player (Or: “Can We Just Give it To Maroney Again?”)
1. Laurence Maroney
2. Ryan Grant
3. Braylon Edwards
4. Derek Anderson
5. Randy Moss
6. Peyton Manning
7. Maurice Jones-Drew
8. Jamal Lewis
9. Chad Johnson
10. Carson Palmer
Until this season I would have still categorized Maroney’s career in the “minor disappointment but let’s withhold judgment” department. But his effort so far in 2008 (a whopping 18 carries for 67 yards with zero catches) has moved him into the “official disaster” group. I’m talking “Boom Goes the Dynamite” bad. Jim Corsi on “The Big Show” bad. “Baywatch Nights” bad. Turns out that nine (admittedly really good) games from Ryan Grant last season might not have justified a first-round pick. To be fair, he has been limited with hamstring issues. I thought the Browns would take a step back this season but I’m surprised Braylon Edwards has been so average. He’s on pace for just 44 catches, but what is truly alarming is his yards per catch. Last season he was at 16.1. This season? 8.6. Derek Anderson will hit the bench sometime in the next three weeks. A short leash plus a brutal schedule should finish his run in Cleveland. After a bye Sunday, the Browns host the Giants then travel to Washington and Jacksonville. (Taking a look at the rest of the season for Cleveland, 3-13 seems very possible. I hope Dean Pees is renting.) A good Week 1 vs. Kansas City is the only thing keeping Moss out of the No. 2 spot on this list. If he doesn’t bounce back against a shaky San Francisco D on Sunday we might be looking at a lost season. I still think Peyton Manning is great value as a buy-low candidate. If you need a QB and the Manning owner in your league has Cutler, Rivers, Warner or Rodgers (which is possible, all those guys went fairly late) try and snare Peyton. The Colts are getting healthy (Jeff Saturday, Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai are back) and I think Manning explodes on Sunday vs. Houston. And once that happens you’ll never get a shot at him again. Here is what worries you about Mo Jones-Drew. In three of Jacksonville’s four games this season he has had single-digit carries. Fred Taylor has been the lead back to this point for the Jags. There were about 50 RBs in the NFL who could have had the season Jamal Lewis authored for the Browns in 2007. He and Maroney are the only two guys I feel have no shot of bouncing back this season. Chad Johnson is on pace for 44 catches and 464 yards, but so what? He gets on ESPN ALL THE TIME. And that is all that matters. Carson Palmer looked ready to turn the corner with a nice game vs. the Giants two weeks ago. If this elbow situation lingers feel free to waive him. Just missing the cut? Joseph Addai, Matt Hasselbeck, Kellen Winslow (on pace for about 80 catches, but zero TDs), Torry Holt, Andre Johnson and Roy Williams (Lions).
A Few Week 5 Notes
I recommended Jake Delhomme last week as a bye week start, and he came through with a huge effort (294 yards and two TDs). If you own Delhomme he’s also a good start this week, as he gets a weak Kansas City D at home.
Boldin will almost certainly miss at least a game, so expect Steve Breaston to get increased looks from Warner this week. He caught nine passes for 122 yards vs. the Jets last week.
The clock is ticking on selling Ronnie Brown. After a 14-carry, 44-yard game vs. the Chargers on Sunday his work against the Patriots will seem like 10 years ago.
Turns out it wasn’t David Patten, Devery Henderson or Robert Meachem. Lance Moore (14 catches in the last two weeks) is the must-own New Orleans wideout. With Marques Colston (should he have been on the Least Valuable Player list?) out he is the lead WR for perhaps the top offense in the NFL.
Don’t give up on Meachem, however. Although he has only four catches in the last two weeks, he does have 185 yards receiving and a TD.
I’m actually warming to the possibility that Mewelde Moore could be a good start this week. With Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall out Moore should get 15-20 carries. But his real value is as a receiver. Would you take 50-60 yards rushing with five catches?
Bobby Engram returns this week. I’d hold off a week and see if he’s ready, but he is worth a roster spot.
The Broncos running back situation mirrors the Patriots RB deal from last year. Who to trust? Selvin Young has run the ball well (6.2 YPC), but has only 37 carries in four games. The goal-line touches have gone to Michael Pittman (four TDs but only 23 total carries). Mike Shanahan (who, with another Super Bowl, will challenge George Washington for the top spot on the “Greatest American with Wooden Teeth” list) probably doesn’t care much about placating fantasy owners.
E-mail of the Week
My man Eric steps up with a question chock-full of SAT words (though I was disappointed that “panacea” didn’t show up).
If I may, (I'm not sure if you take reader's q's like this or not), I have a question I'd love your highly prized take on:
My team is the only undefeated squad in my 12 team league. I'm being referred to on message boards as the league's lone "juggernaut." However, I can't help but feel I'm running on borrowed time, as my starting QB is K Warner. Am I wrong to assume he doesn't make it the entire season, either due to injury or the young fella taking his job?
As a reflection of my weariness, I've stacked my team with a cornucopia of mediocre QBs as "protection." A virtual ‘who’s who’ of fantasy irrelevance. Garrard (who I actually drafted before Warner and expected to be my starter, and who I still hold out a smidgen of hope for), JaMarcus Russel, and even Jim Sorgi, just on the chance Manning goes down, and he somehow emerges as Peyton Jr. I’m not sure any team can expect to have a season-long reign as league “juggernaut” with that 4-pack of precariousness.
So, my main question is this... A fellow owner has offered me Romo if I
flip him Portis. Do I bite? My other RB is M Lynch (which gives me a one-two punch that is largely responsible for my ‘best in show’ standing thus far.
But, if I flip Portis, he’d most likely be replaced as a started with Tim Hightower, currently the only back on my bench (an unfortunate situation stemming from my decision to carry an indefensible amount of QB’s).
Do you make that move?
First of all, waive Sorgi. Manning has never missed a start and Sorgi has proved nothing. Would you have kept Cassel on your roster last season?
I would not make that deal. Here’s the question you have to ask: Would you rather have Warner and Portis or Hightower and Romo? I’d prefer Romo over Warner if all things are equal (and I’d guess I’d go with Jessica Simpson over Brenda Warner), but it’s a much closer spread than Portis and Hightower. The Leinart factor is a real one, but I’m pretty sure that Arizona can stick around .500 this season. That should be good enough to contend in the NFC West and keep the veterans in the lineup (which also means Edgerrin James, more bad news for Hightower).
Sort of off-topic, but that Dallas loss to Washington is probably a good thing for Romo owners (which I am). I was concerned the Cowboys were going to run away with the top seed in the NFC, possibly making his last few starts irrelevant. His Week 16 matchup (Baltimore at home) will be the title game in most leagues, and a few more Dallas losses should ensure that the ‘Boys will be playing for at least home-field advantage in that one.
Kirk Minihane, WEEI.com Contributor, is the resident Fantasy Football expert for WEEI.com.