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JUMbotron Friday Huddle: Week 11
John U. Miller
November 18, 2011

The FanDuel Week 11 $500 Huddle Contest is active.  Click here and if you’re an existing FanDuel user log in with the "Existing Users?" link and you’ll be taken straight to the action!  $5 goes in your account of you take down the JUMbotron!  Listen up, the action is still pretty light and we have even fewer actual depositors, so please get in there in and try a 5-team or 10-team league!  Did I mention that even the 2-team league – a real FanDuel – is fun too?  Just you and a pesky know-it-all stranger, mano a mano.    

Prediction A:   RB ____ _____ will catch 8+ passes as his team gets slaughtered at ___ ____ in Week 11.

Prediction B:  ____ LB ___ ____ will be a top-10 IDP LB for the second straight week as a sleeper play on the road at ____.

Most fantasy trade deadlines are up by Week 12 so it’s a good time for me to get something off my chest that bothers me more and more each year.  “Garage Sale” trades.  You know what I’m talking about.  The 2-8 guy in your league, we’ll call him “Bucky,” suddenly ships off Aaron Rodgers, Delone Carter, Michael Crabtree, & Brent Celek to the 8-2 guy “Randolph” for Philip Rivers, Steven Jackson, Mike Wallace, Kellen Winslow, & the Bears defense.  This stuff infuriates me because it often gets approved by a lily-livered commissioner.  The trade is Aaron Rodgers for nobody.  Period.  C’mon, man, it’s a garage sale.  You can even add 5 more semi-stars to Bucky’s squad but what the hell is he gonna do with them?  The first thing you have to ask yourself is, “Are Bucky and Randolph buddies?”  You never know, Randolph might have promised Bucky a case of PBR if Aaron Rodgers secures him a title.  Not buddies?  You’re sure?  Okay, then we are still left with a late-season deal involving the league’s premier fantasy weapon.  Randolph is probably lucky to be 8-2 while starting Rivers anyway.  He doesn’t deserve Rodgers!  This player is on pace for 501 fantasy points, which will easily pass the QB fantasy record of 462 points set by Tom Brady in 2007.  That was a 50-TD pass season and Rodgers is going to top that point total by some 10%!

Why would Bucky trade Rodgers away?  Well, I know how he’ll spin it: “Guys, my season is over at 2-8 but at least I get Rivers, Jackson, and Wallace for my 3 keepers next year.”  That’s bull-poop.  1) Philip Rivers’ huddle is a mess right now and it will only get worse in 2012:  Vincent Jackson is a free agent and will chase the biggest pile of money he can get, and LT Marcus McNeill has chronic neck problems and has already had cervical fusion surgery in 2008.  2) Steven Jackson has touched the ball almost 2,400 times.  His decline will be shockingly quick and lethal next year.  Not a keeper, I don’t care how hot he’s been lately. 3) Mike Wallace, well, okay… He’s a keeper at a reasonable price. 4) Who the hell is Kellen Winslow?  Let’s be real here:  Dude just gave an 8-2 fantasy team Aaron Rodgers for absolutely no reason.  You can’t let these deals go down, especially when “keepers” or “dynasty” or anything about next year comes into play.  There is no next year.  What if either Bucky or Randolph doesn’t play in the league next year?  In this economy you never know:  One of them could be transferred or laid off and have to move in with his parents in Oregon.  Maybe Bucky loses interest overall after such a crappy season anyway!

Keep your eyes on the road, Commish.  Don’t be afraid to wield the gavel this time of year.  We all put a lot of hours into this stuff and it just isn’t fair for a Mustang GT to morph into a Lamborghini Gallardo for free.  The top fantasy players need to stay on their fantasy teams unless both trade partners are in the running and both are taking a chance in some way.  Anything less, get out of my league.

Is that Roddy White?  I think it is.  I swear I forgot what number he wears.

How many of you grabbed Kendall Hunter at my suggestion last week?  I swear to God I landed more Twitter followers on one day last Sunday than I had in the previous two weeks combined.  “Hey JUMbo I followed you because they’re saying you’re the Hunter guy.”  Uh, yep.  That’s me (?).  However, I didn’t think Gore would check out that quick.  Still, even if Gore guts out 15 carries per game on that bum knee over the next two weeks, you Hunter-owners are still in the driver’s seat:  Healthy or not, it’s very likely that Gore will be rested liberally beginning in Week 13 at home vs. St. Louis. 

After the 49ers beat the Cardinals this week, they will be 9-1 going into Thanksgiving night in Week 12 at Baltimore (who might be without Ray Lewis).  A win there, coupled with a loss by Seattle either at St. Louis this Sunday or at home vs. Washington next week, and they clinch the NFC West… and probably the No. 2 NFC seed.  Jim Harbaugh won’t stomp the gas pedal to try and battle the Packers for the No .1 seed – at least where Frank Gore is concerned – because it would be silly.  A bye is a bye, and risking Gore’s postseason health just to guarantee home-field throughout is not what Harbaugh will do.  Kendall Hunter’s gonna be very busy, kiddos.  And it’s not just the workload that’s appealing – like an assembly line RB in a system – this Hunter kid is the real deal.  I could envision a 200-yard game for Hunter in Week 14 at Arizona, when the stadium will be empty because half of Maricopa County will be Christmas shopping at the Casa Grande Outlet Mall. 

Here’s a quote from my Aug. 23rd JUMbotron (It’s funny how some things I say end up being omniscient, but so many other things just float into the ether):  “It’s probably fake-game love but Hunter’s 53-yard TD really churned my butter.  He still has to beat out Anthony Dixon for the No. 2 job but I see a Ray Rice clone here, a 5’8 guy who isn’t quickly located by 6’4” 330-lb defensive linemen.  Throw in Frank Gore’s contract grumbling (and advancing age) and there’s some intrigue here.”

JUMbo Things I Noticed That Perhaps You Didn’t:

--Redskins TE Fred Davis played every snap last week on a bad ankle. He’s the 7th-ranked TE in FP/gm, 8th in targets, and has posted 80+ yards five times.

--Dolphins RB Daniel Thomas averaged 5.0 per carry in his first 2 games, but 2.5 over his last 4 games.  When asked if injuries are an issue, Thomas said “I’m totally healthy.”

--Adam Schefter said on ESPN that Jahvid Best (concussion) "doesn't look like he's going to play this week, or for some time."

--The Bengals lost CB Leon Hall for the year to a torn Achilles.  NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger said Hall is “Cincy’s version of Nnamdi Asomugha” who shuts off one side of the field.  The next 3 QBs to face the Bengals are Joe Flacco, Colt McCoy, Ben Roethlisberger, and Matt Leinart.

--QB red-zone pass attempt leaders:  Brady 68, Brees 58, Stafford 55, Ryan 47, Schaub 45, Rodgers 44, Vick 44, Romo 42, Newton 40, Dalton 40. 

--QB red-zone rush attempt leaders:  Newton 26, Vick 8, Rodgers 7, Tebow 7 (in 5 starts), Rivers 6, Fitzpatrick 6, Brady 5, Freeman 5, McCoy 5.

--RB 100-yard rushing game leaders:  F. Jackson 6, Gore 5, Turner 4, Tate 4, Foster 4, Forte 4, McCoy 4, McGahee 4, S. Jackson 3, Peterson 3, Jones-Drew 3, Murray 3 (in 4 starts).

--WR 100-yard receiving game leaders:  Megatron 5, Welker 5, S. Smith 5, Wallace 4, Bowe 3, Fitzgerald 3, V. Jackson 3, Jennings 3, Marshall 3, J. Jones 3 (in 7 starts). 

--I don’t know if Bill Belichick’s constantly reported “toe” injury for BenJarvus Green-Ellis is legitimate or not, but sometimes the truth is right in front of you.  He’s had 39 carries in the last 4 games, compared to 70 carries in the previous 4 games before the toe thing popped up.  You don’t cut your most experienced tailback’s workload in half if he’s healthy, I don’t care how pass-wacky you are.  His toe’s jacked up. 

--Jordy Nelson has TD catches of 93, 84, 64 and 50 yards.  Over his last 16 games including playoffs (remember, a rolling 16-game sample is my measuring stick) he has 64 catches for 1124 yards and 10 TDs.  He’s a star.  Stop asking “Should I start Nelson or ____.”  My good friend, you’re starting Nelson.

--Redskins K Graham Gano has the yips.  He missed from 49 and 50 yards last week, both wide left.  Gano’s been a popular fantasy starter in 12- and 14-team leagues because he’s top-10 in attempts – but he’s missed 6 of 21 kicks now, and you need a solid, steady leg going into these crucial few weeks.

--WR receiving yardage leaders the last 5 weeks: Megatron 434, Colston 431, Fitzgerald 431, Boldin 427, Welker 390, Jennings 389, Wallace 386, A. Brown 380, Bowe 371, D. Bryant 346.

--Everyone talks about busts, and there’s plenty this year, especially at the WR position:  DeSean Jackson, Roddy White (to some degree), Andre Johnson (hey, injuries are injuries), Miles Austin, Reggie Wayne (even without Manning he should have delivered more), Mike Williams, Santonio Holmes… all of those guys snatched up in the first 4 rounds.  But to me one of the biggest busts is Malcom Floyd.  He was usually picked in the 7th round but often as high as the late 5th.  He’s missed 2 of 9 games and left early in 2 others.  And in 5 of his 7 games he’s scored less than 6 fantasy points.  Throw in all the confusing “questionable” and “doubtful” tags that tripped us up, and Floyd has been toxic.  And to think Floyd was selected ahead of Steve Smith in probably 80% of leagues.  Wow! 

--WR yards-after-catch leaders:  Welker 486, Wallace 336, Megatron 323, Garcon 312, S. Smith 293, J. Nelson 291, Cruz 258, Fitzgerald 257, Doucet 249, Jennings 248.

--RB yards-after-catch leaders:  Sproles 480, Foster 451, Rice 442, F. Jackson 434, Forte 407, Mathews 358, Tolbert 336, J. Best 319 (in only 6 starts), P. Thomas 313, J. Stewart 297.

--In 25 games as a New York Jet (including playoffs) Santonio Holmes has only topped 90 yards three times (93, 114, 126).  Mark Sanchez is robbing Holmes of his prime years.

--In his last 16 games Maurice Jones-Drew has 9 100-yard games.  Arian Foster has 7.

--In his last 16 games Calvin Johnson has 15 TD catches.  Roddy White has 6.

--Ben Roethlisberger has completed 51.4% of his passes in the red zone.  Matt Hasselbeck is at 74.3%, leading the NFL.  Rookie Andy Dalton is at 60.0%.

--Redskins castoff DE Andre Carter is now a Patriot and ranks 7th in the league with 8.5 sacks.  I think that’s funny because Mike Shanahan was behind that move.

JUMbo Lost in Translation:

--Redskins OC Kyle Shanahan said newly-acquired RB Tashard Choice is still a “fairly good distance behind” Ryan Torain and Roy Helu on the depth chart.  JUMbo Translation:  Kyle and his Dad have reviewed the ESPN Fantasy League website together and saw that Tashard Choice is one of the 25 Most Added players.  They will make sure none of you start Choice before they turn him loose for 13 carries and 2 receptions.  It’s the little things that get them off, folks.

--49ers RB Frank Gore (hyper-extended knee) said “Yeah, I’ll play… and I’ll play good,” when asked about his status for Sunday. When asked about the injury last week, he said: “They fell on me.  Banged it.  Hit the ground. Hyper-extended and that kind of shut down my whole leg. I couldn’t really push off like I wanted to.”  JUMbo Translation: Gore’s getting 40 milliliters of fluid drained out of that twice-surgically repaired knee as I write this.  He believes he can play because he’s tough as nails, but he knows he’ll wave himself off when the 49ers are up 14-0 on the Cardinals – and he’ll genuinely root for Kendall Hunter to pile up 100 yards.

--Eagles OC Marty Mornhinwheg believes Michael Vick (broken ribs) has a chance to play Sunday. "He's a tough guy and he wants to play.  He's tough mentally and physically and he's doing everything he can, so we'll see."  JUMbo Translation:  Mornhinwheg hasn’t slept in days, staying up late trying to figure out ways to help Vince Young succeed in a West Coast offense that’s far too complicated for him.  He’s also praying deep in his heart that Vick wakes up Sunday morning and says, “I can go,” so that Philly has a chance to avoid losing their 7th game in 9 weeks.  Vince Young has no chance vs. the Giants defense.

--Colts VP Bill Polian on the fact that Indianapolis has a comfortable lead in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes:  "The bottom line is that if the right person is there, and it has to be the right person, then now is the time to make that choice.  Peyton and I have spoken about that, and he's okay with that.''  JUMbo Translation:  Polian is weighing whether to give $25m guaranteed to Andrew Luck or a $28 million roster bonus to Peyton Manning.  He can’t do both.  Because it’s a business he already knows what the choice will be: Luck.  It’s a business and the Colts’ best product, Manning, is defective.  Besides, Manning already built the $720,000,000 Lucas Oil Stadium.  The paint is dry.  The best young quarterback prospect in 28 years is here and the decision has already been made, folks.

--Bills WR Stevie Johnson (groin) didn’t practice much this week but says he can play at Miami. “We’ll see what happens when we make it to Sunday,” Johnson said.  “I’m definitely making progress.  In the training room we’ve been doing a lot of treatment.  Hopefully we get everything we need so once Friday or Saturday comes around I’m fully confident in going out there and using my arm and throwing people by and all that stuff.”  JUMbo Translation:  Last week’s 5 targets and 2 receptions tell the story.  Johnson’s been playing (admirably) through a pulled groin the entire season and now he can’t body up and use his underrated physicality.  There’s a reason Donald Jones and David Nelson combined for 15 targets last week.  You can’t start Steve Johnson this week if you have any other viable option.  Did anyone heed my “Sell” call on Ryan Fitzpatrick & Steve Johnson two weeks ago?     

JUMbo’s Top-10 2012 NFL Offensive Free Agents:

1. Drew Brees – A mortal lock to re-sign with Saints. End of story.
2. Ray Rice – Would he test the waters?  It would be a coup if Cleveland landed him.
3. Matt Forte – It’s ridiculous that Forte might hit the market. Chicago deserves to lose him.
4. DeSean Jackson – Don’t let this erratic season fool you. 15 other teams lust for D-Jax.
5. Dwayne Bowe – I’d like to see him in Minnesota with a growing Christian Ponder.
6. Vincent Jackson – You’d think the Chargers would load the truck, but they won’t.
7. Jermichael Finley – Vernon Davis got $20.4m guaranteed last year. Finley will get $25m.
8. Wes Welker – I hope the Pats re-sign him because I fear he’ll disappear in 31 other offenses.
9. Cedric Benson – He’ll be 29 years old with about 1,700 career touches. Tricky to sign.
10. Steve Johnson – You can’t imagine the Bills not breaking the bank, but it’s the Bills, people.
(Arian Foster & Mike Wallace are restricted free agents)

Did the NFL Lockout trigger more injuries this season?  It sure feels like it.  However, a recent study by Kevin Meers of the Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective shows we’re right on pace for the usual amount of injuries.

If Mark Brunell (released in July) and Joe McKnight had been starting this year would the Jets be 5-5?  It’s worth asking.  Mark Sanchez is 29th in completion % at 56.7, and Shonn Greene is 34th in yards per carry at 3.9.  The two guys that handle the ball the most for the Jets are severely mediocre in their two main goals:  Completing passes and breaking tackles.  Food for thought.  #OccupyJoeMcKnight

Here’s a great article on the NFC Playoff Race by Elliot Harrison.  The 6th spot is totally up for grabs.

JUMbo Cheerleader Series:

Let’s get back to some classics – Bucs Rachel, Bucs Marlana, Bengals Andrea, Cowboys Sydney, Broncos Renee, Falcons Alicia, Falcons Erin, and a couple brand new pics – Redskins ??, Cowboys Sydney, Cardinals ??.

And finally, my new favorite JUMbo Cheerleader to date (sorry Marlana): Cowboys Amy Reese.  Here’s one more.  And a swimsuit pic.

I’m getting a lot of Matt Leinart questions.  “Can he deliver as a QB1?”  “Is he worth a pickup for a possible spot-start?”  I say Yes and Yes.  I’ve always been a Leinart fan.  Back in 2006 when the Big Three QBs were in the draft – Vince Young, Matt Leinart, Jay Cutler – I was caught in the middle of the firestorm in Nashville.  The Titans had the 3rd overall pick and it was pretty much a lock that Houston and New Orleans would go with Mario Williams and Reggie Bush in either order.  Some felt Houston would take Young at #1 but if you followed football closely you knew the Texans were in the business of stopping Peyton Manning – Vince couldn’t do that like Mario might.  So the Titans were up at #3 and we had three distinct camps in Nashville, all screaming at the TV: 1) The Vince Young camp, citing the Rose Bowl and all that crap.  I never bought it.  2) Matt Leinart camp, wisely pointing out that ex-USC OC Norm Chow was currently the Titans OC.  Plus Leinart was spotted looking at homes in Brentwood, a nice suburb of Nashville.  I was in the Leinart camp.  3) Jay Cutler camp, who had a solid case because his heroics were on display for years at Vanderbilt, right smack in downtown Nashville.

Obviously the owner of the team won – Bud Adams insisted on Vince Young – and you know the rest.  Leinart went to Arizona, got injured, then watched as Kurt Warner revived his Hall of Fame quest and played the best overall football (with less weapons than in St. Louis) of his career.  Then in 2010 Leinart had the job free and clear, completed 19 of 23 passes in the preseason, and got unceremoniously bumped for Derek Anderson.  Flat-out released.  I heard a rumor that Leinart made some wise-ass remark to Ken Whisehunt in 2008 and Whiz never forgot it.  Anyway, I’ve always pulled for Leinart after that because you know there was indeed something personal behind Leinart’s release.  Derek Anderson?  C’mon.

From the moment Leinart joined the Texans he’s received nothing but positive press.  They adore him.  "He has been waiting for this moment,'' said right tackle Eric Winston on Wednesday.  "Obviously, this isn't ideal, losing your starting quarterback while you're in a serious playoff chase.  But I really believe he can do it -- execute our offense and keep us on track.  When people ask me what Matt Leinart's like, I think they expect me to say he's some brash, cocky kid who doesn't work very hard.  It's totally wrong.  The first year he was here, he wanted to come in on Saturday to do extra work to try to catch up in the offense.”  Eric Winston is the leader of the Houston Texans.  I believe him wholeheartedly.  This team has a machine-like offensive line and two great runners.  Owen Daniels is a Jay Novacek-type safety valve.  And if Andre Johnson comes back anywhere near 100% healthy it’s just a bonus.  Look at the Texans’ schedule:  They have a bye this week so Leinart will be spit-shined for duty.  Then they’re at Jacksonville, vs. Atlanta, at Cincinnati, vs. Carolina, at Indianapolis, and vs. Tennessee.  Matt Leinart belongs on all fantasy rosters right now.  He might even be a big factor in the fantasy playoffs.

By the way, Ken Whisenhunt is the most overrated coach in pro football. A middling 35-38 record, a miracle Super Bowl trip fueled by Warner & Fitzgerald playing pitch-and-catch, and some of the worst personnel decisions of the decade.  The best coaches – no matter what their background is – can assemble a formidable defensive unit within three years.  Arizona’s scoring defense under Whisenhunt has ranked 27th, 28th, 14th, 30th and 22nd this year.

Prediction A:   RB Dexter McCluster will catch 8+ passes as his team gets slaughtered at New England in Week 11.

Prediction B:  Titans LB Akeem Ayers will be a top-10 IDP LB for the second straight week as a sleeper play on the road at Atlanta.

Quote of the year in the NFL so far:  "After the loss to Detroit in Week 8, we decided if Tim is going to be our guy, we can't do that other crap." – Broncos HC John Fox on re-doing the playbook with OC Mike McCoy so that Tim Tebow could succeed.

Good Luck This Week!

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