Friday, October 30, 2009

Sweet Home, Chicago?

The struggling Bears hope to be singing a different tune, when they return home this Sunday to face the Browns. Following back-to-back road disappointments to the Falcons and Bengals, Chicago hosts its first game at Soldier Field since the October 4th victory against the Lions.

The formula for a return to the win column is simple. Take care of the ball on offense. The past two weeks have seen the Bears turnover the ball a total of seven times. Jay Cutler was the main culprit, as he tossed five picks in those two games.

The Bears come into this week’s game desperately needing a win to have any hope of playing meaningful November and December football. The 1-6 Browns, who are having their own problems putting points on the board, (just over ten per game), present a golden opportunity for Chicago to begin a new winning streak.

Cutler and company WILL be able to move the ball, as the Browns bring one of the league’s worst defenses, ranking 24th against the pass and 31st against the run.

If Matt Forte cannot break the century mark in rushing for just the second time this season, against the next-to-last rushing defense in the NFL, then the Bears faithful might as well get started early on their holiday shopping.

The Broncos brass must be in pain from laughing so hard at the early returns of the offseason deal that brought a very consistent Kyle Orton to Denver in the Jay Cutler trade.

Unless the Bears let Josh Cribbs loose on special teams for a couple of scores, there should be no reason to expect anything less than a convincing triumph by Chicago.

Should the Bears hold serve against Cleveland, the following week brings the Arizona Cardinals to town for an uncomfortable, perhaps chilly November matchup. At 5-3, Chicago would remain in the conversation as a playoff contender.

On the other hand, the 2009-10 Chicago Bears are not in a position to look past any team in the NFL. Let’s hope that the Bears themselves don’t soon turn into a “look-ahead” team.

Bears 28 Browns 10


Start em


Jay Cutler: The Bears are coming off extremely disappointing back-to-back road losses to the Falcons and Bengals respectively. With the Vikings atop the NFC North and the Packers now a game ahead of the struggling Bears, a win over the Browns is critical. Jay Cutler will need to cut down on his interceptions, should he hope to end his team’s 2-game skid. A date with Cleveland should do the trick. The Browns yield an average of 244 pass yards and 170 rush yards per game. If Cutler and the offense can take care of the ball this Sunday in Chicago, they will get the job done. Jay limits his picks to one, and tosses a pair of TD’s for the victory at home.

David Garrard: Awaiting Jacksonville after a Week 7 bye is the Tennessee Titans. The Jags certainly didn’t need an extra week of rest for this one, as the winless, hard-to-believe 13-3 club of a year ago; trot out Vince Young as the team’s new starting QB. Garrard and the Jaguars have been mediocre at this season ay 3-3, but against a team that is already playing for next year, should have no problems cruising to victory. Garrard tore up the Rams in Week 6, and should up comparable numbers this week in Tennessee. Expect a 300 plus, 3 TD performance in Week 8 from the Jag’s signal caller, against the worst pass defense in the entire NFL.


Matt Forte: I am going to assume that Forte is over his brief fumbling episodes, and ready to return to form at home against the Browns. Matt has been a shell of himself thus far, with the exception of a strong performance against Detroit in Week 4. The good news for Forte owners this week is the arrival of a similarly weak opponent in the Cleveland Browns. Count on the Bears feature RB for over 100 yards rushing, a few catches out of the backfield, and a score.

Ray Rice: At 6-0, the Broncos are rolling. Coming off a bye week following an impressive showing in San Diego two Monday nights ago, Denver would appear to be ready to continue its unexpected perfection. Unfortunately, a visit to Baltimore and the first formidable defense on Denver’s schedule, presents a difficult matchup. The sophomore stud Ray Rice has been nothing short of spectacular, and will again shine. The Broncos will be the next unblemished team to go down, as Rice has another strong day.


Austin Collie: Having emerged as the number two option for Peyton Manning, Collie has been creeping up on opponents. Now a viable fantasy starter, Austin may have the opportunity to serve as Manning’s primary target in Week 8. Reggie Wayne has been hampered by a groin pull, and is questionable for Sunday’s game. Through the first 7 Colts games, Collie has scored 4 TD’s and has a golden opportunity to improve on that total, at home, against a weak Niners pass defense. Pencil Collie in for at least 60-80 yards and a TD with an active Wayne, and another 40-60 yards and another score if Wayne sits this one out.

Steve Smith (Car): This is not Steve Smith that is presently number one in fantasy receiving points this season. That honor belongs to the Steve Smith that plays for the New York Giants. The Panthers’ Steve Smith has not resembled himself so far this season, but neither has the entire team. Jake Delhomme has received a vote of confidence from the Panthers brass, and looks to get HIS Steve Smith more involved, as Carolina travels to the desert to face the Cardinals, who come off an impressive road win over the other Steve Smith’s Giants. The Panthers explosive running tandem of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart should help open up the passing lanes for the Panthers receivers against a mediocre Arizona defense. The PANTHERS Steve Smith finally goes off, getting his first TD of the season, and adding a second.


Visanthe Shiancoe: Even fantasy fanatics are looking at this game with a different type of appreciation than the others on the schedule in Week 8. Brett Favre makes his return to Lambeau field, just a couple of weeks removed from the Vikings triumph over Green Bay in Minneapolis. The 6-1 Vikes come into this spectacle a little banged up from their defeat in Pittsburgh last week. Shiancoe has been steady thus far, but will likely be relied upon a bit more this week, as Minnesota WR’s such as Bernard Berrian, and Percy Harvin are hurting. Although the Packers will get revenge against Favre and the Vikings this week, Shiancoe will post a strong fantasy line of 6 catches, 80 yards, and a TD.

Donald Lee: With Jermichael Finley likely sidelined for the return of Brett Favre to Green Bay, the pass-happy Packers will turn to Donald Lee as their primary TE. Minnesota continues to be difficult to run on, so Aaron Rodgers will be airing it out all day against a Viking secondary that will be without Antoine Winfield for a few weeks. Lee should enjoy a productive afternoon, close to what Finley owners are used to.

Sit em


Kyle Orton: Very few people predicted that Orton and the new-look Broncos offense would perform the way that they have through Week 7. Kyle has been as consistent as a fantasy QB can be. It’s just a matter of time before Orton and the Broncos turn in a stinker. This week’s game against the still-intimidating Ravens defense could be the week that Denver comes down to Earth. Against most other teams in the NFL, Orton is a strong start each week. In Week 8 however, the odds will be stacked against Kyle, as the rested Ravens get the Broncos at home.

Matt Hasselbeck: Matt will not have the luxury of facing either the Rams or Jaguars pass defense this week, as those are the only two teams he has been able to thrive against. Although Hasselbeck and the Seahawks are coming off a bye week, they head to Big D, still struggling to find consistency in their offense. With Walter Jones out for the remainder of the season, the offensive line is going to continue to struggle, making it very difficult for Hasselbeck to find any rhythm.


Frank Gore: Back from an early season ankle injury, Gore looks to recapture his former fantasy prowess against an undefeated Colts team. Unable to get it going against the Texans last week, it will be a tall order to expect Frank to find his stride in Indianapolis on Sunday. Gore may be a week or two away from regaining his typical fantasy stud value. The good new for Gore owners is a Week 9 meeting with Tennessee.

Julius Jones: After a strong start to the season, Jones has been practically invisible. It’s really not his fault, as the Seahawks offense has been racked with injuries. Against an NFL doormat such as St. Louis, Jones could still be a viable starter, but in Dallas, it’s tough to recommend Jones or any other Seahawk player this week. With Detroit visiting Seattle in Week 9, a Julius Jones sighting may actually occur.


Patrick Crayton: This guy did score on a 73 yard punt return last week against Atlanta, but with just two catches in that game, and the recent emergence of Miles Austin, Crayton is looking more and more like a risky start. If you subtract Patrick’s Week 1 performance, he has not caught just one other TD pass, and hasn’t hauled in more than 4 passes in any single game since. There are simply too many other targets for Romo to consider at this point.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh: I realize that I have recommended benching almost the entire Seahawks offense this week. I’d be remiss if I didn’t include T.J., who has got to be very disappointed with his new team thus far. It could get worse in Seattle for Housh before it gets better. Hold off on TJ until next week against the Lions.


Brent Celek: It’s unclear how many folks from New York or Philadelphia will be interested in this game, as the Yankees and Phillies will be the main attraction in the Northeast this Sunday. Nevertheless, the Giants host the Eagles, who are hoping to have a gimpy (shocker) Brian Westbrook available for the game. The Giants have dropped two straight, and look to take out their frustrations on rival Philly. Celek has turned in a couple of strong weeks, but he’ll struggle in Week 8 against a hungry Giants D that is 2nd against the pass this year.

Tony Scheffler: The Bronco TE had a monster effort in San Diego prior to the Week 7 bye. That said, it was his only productive outing all year. It’s highly unlikely that Scheffler will deliver his 2nd productive week against a brutal Ravens secondary in Baltimore. Look elsewhere.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Going Once!, Going Twice!...

For those of you that have not taken the plunge into the auction style of fantasy drafting, here's a taste of my recent experience.

On the eve of the NBA's opening night, I ponied up to my aging Sony Vaio desktop, and logged into the "Double Dribble" auction room, hosted by CBS Sportsline. Once upon a time, this type of event was held in a small living room, somewhere in the outer boroughs of New York City. In 2009, due in large part to my relocation to the Atlanta area, we've taken the auction online.....for better or worse.

I think we'd all agree that whether it's a draft or an auction, it's an exciting evening. We prepared for this moment for weeks, and in my case, watch the auction room count-down clock wind down to zero.

If it was only that simple. First of all, some guy that calls himself "Patches" is AWOL. No worries. We'll wait for him to login, while we amuse our selves on the chat board with mock auction!

It's 8:00PM an no "Patches". We'll give him until 8:30PM says "Monte", the auction facilitator. More chat board banter ensues.

The bottom of the hour arrives, with "Patches" nowhere to be found. This ten team league has just shrunk to nine.

After another HOUR of arguing over roster adjustments to accommodate the smaller league, coupled with the usual technical glitches courtesy of CBS Sportsline, we are finally ready to roll.

Since the majority of league owners are simultaneously tuned into the Yankees - Angels ALCS game, and a couple of beers into the evening, the two hour delay doesn't seem to affect morale.

If you are unfamiliar with fantasy auctions, here's the skinny.....$260 or "units" used to purchase a roster of sixteen players, consisting of twelve active players and four reserves. In our league we do not have any position minimums or maximums, rather any combination of players that will effectively contribute to the standard ten fantasy basketball scoring categories. (We use free throws made as opposed to the more common free throw percentage)

The beauty of the auction is the rapid -fire nature of the player selection process. Each team owner has a recurring turn of nominating a player of his choice, at a dollar amount of his choice. At the beginning of an auction an owner will typically nominate a player that he does not covet, in the hope that the other owners with hefty bankrolls will haphazardly bid on guys like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

Our auction featured the aforementioned studs, along with such other standouts as Chris Paul and Dwight Howard going early and for big bucks.

There are varying strategies when it comes to how much to spend on each player. At an average of just over sixteen dollars per player, it is critical to spend wisely. If you are prepared enough, you may be able to do what my brother Darren did last year, and spend heavily on a few elite players early, while waiting to scrape up low-dollar, high-value guys that fall through the cracks.

Last season, Darren was able build a winner using blocks named LeBron James, Dwight Howard, and Chris Paul. Whether or not that strategy works this year for a guy named Brian, remains to be seen. The 2009 version of the top-heavy squad features Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and LeBron James.

If you are going to consider this "Stud and Dud" route, understand that you will be spending a hug percentage of your auction dollars on small percentage of your roster.

In the case of Brian’s auction this year, a total of $183 was spent on just three players. Spending over 70% of your budget on just three players is a risky play. Fortunately for Brian, he has been a fantasy basketball owner for many years, and improved his overall chances of cashing in this year, by grabbing players such as Luol Deng, Chris Kaman, and Tayshaun Prince for a buck apiece.

Other value players that fell by the wayside due to early auction overspending include Richard Jefferson at $6, Ray Allen at $6, Jason Terry at $3, Josh Howard at $1, and Marcus Camby at $1.

On the other side of the spectrum, a few "must-have" guys were picked up at a premium. These include Deron Williams at $65, Amar'e Stoudemire at $55, and Devin Harris at $42.

Yours truly splurged on Danny Granger at $68, rolled the dice on Gilbert Arenas at $39, spent big on Troy Murphy at $31, and "stole" Lou Williams for $1.

Despite a two-hour "Patches" and CBS Sportsline-induced delay, we completed our auction shortly after Midnight.

A few bumps in the road did not prevent "Double Dribble" from embarking on a new season. We all had a blast, especially the Yankee faithful who watched the Bombers re-capture the pennant against the outmanned Halos.

At the time of this article, just two days into the 2009-10 NBA campaign, Brian's LeBron-led corps is in first place, followed by your FantasyPros911 author Adam's Pacer-heavy crew.

Of course I had a "doubtful for opener"“Danny Granger benched in a two-game week, thereby preventing me from claiming a ridiculously early-season lead....but such is life in "Fantasyland".

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Get Over It!

For those of us that are not Yankees or Phillies fans, perhaps we should simply put our disappointments and jealousies aside and enjoy what should truly be a Fall Classic.

Believe me, as a lifetime Mets fan, I am as unhappy as anyone that I have to sit through another World Series featuring “The Evil Empire”. If that’s not enough of a kick in the keister, the defending World Champion Philadelphia Phillies, and New York Mets “rival du jour”, create an impossible rooting situation for most Mets faithful.

I have some advice for my Mets brethren, not to mention all of Red Sox Nation, and any other fans still sobbing about what might have been. Get over it!

If you are truly a baseball enthusiast, then you can swallow your pride for a week or so, and enjoy watching the two best teams in baseball. No other matchup could possibly have offered more of a marquis atmosphere.

The 2009 World Series will feature a collection of players that posses a truckload of in-season and post-season hardware. This batch of MVP’s, CY Young award winners, Gold Glovers, past Series champions, and future Hall of Famers is spectacular. There is not a single significant accomplishment that has not been, or will not be achieved by this group.

I suppose a reunion with Joe Torre would have been cute for New Yorkers to talk about for a few days. A “Freeway Series” would have been electrifying…..for the handful of Californians that would choose baseball over Kobe this time of year.

The beauty of this year’s Series is that those of us that don’t have a rooting interest, can sit back, relax, and watch the past two AL CY Young award winners duel in Game 1, Pedro Martinez take another crack at the Yankees in Game 2, the greatest closer of all-time hurling once again in October, and winners of a total of five MVP’s in the past 6 years slug it out……not to mention post-season legends Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte, and 3-time defending Silver Slugger Chase Utley.

As for my personal rooting dilemma, I will stick to my guns and root against the Yankees….as always. If it’s too difficult to watch another celebration by either the Yankees of the Phillies, there is another alternative…..the opening of Michael Jackson’s “This is It” film.

I didn’t think so.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Humbled in the Jungle

The Bears never got out of the gate in this one. In as ugly a performance as the Bears have displayed in many years, a flawless Carson Palmer carved up an ill prepared Chicago defense to the tune of 45-10. The only positive “take-away” from this game is that it’s finally over.

A truly pathetic effort by Chicago, this laugher featured five TD passes by Carson Palmer, a career-best 189 yards rushing by former Bear Cedric Benson, and a Samba dance in the end zone by none other than Chad Ochocinco. For everything that the Bengals did right, the Bears did wrong. As if it was a continuation of last week’s Falcons debacle, Jay Cutler hurled 3 more interceptions and Devin Hester chipped in with a fumble of his own. Those four turnovers resulted in 24 Bengals points. This thing was over before the 2nd quarter whistle sounded.

Carson Palmer engineered touchdown drives on the first four Bengal possessions. Each of these drives was over 60 yards long, as Cincinnati launched time consuming, balanced drives throughout the first half. Cedric Benson had his way with his former mates on a whopping 37 carries and a score.

The 31 points yielded by the Bears in the first half, was the most since 2003, when Chicago surrendered 33 to the San Francisco 49ers. When the massacre was mercifully over, the Bears had defense had allowed Carson Palmer to throw for 20 or 24 passes, for 233 yards, 5 touchdowns, and a 146.7 passer rating. Palmer must have thought he was playing against ghosts, as the Bears defense, for the second straight week, failed to record a sack. Chicago did not force a single turnover in this “contest”, and did not force the Bengals to punt until midway through the fourth quarter. A first half Robbie Gould field goal, and a meaningless second half Devin Hester TD grab, was the only points the Bears could muster the entire game.

At 3-3 the Bears find themselves now looking up at the 4-2 Packers and the 6-1 Vikings in the NFC North. With a pair of home games against the Browns and Cardinals respectively, this sinking ship had better find some buoyancy before it’s too late. Heading into this home stand, Chicago must find a way to regroup and get ready for Cleveland. The 1-6 Browns have nothing lose, and are looking for some respect of their own after a 31-3 beating at the hands of the Packers.

If Lovie can find a way to rally the troops, and stop the bleeding, maybe the season can be saved. A loss next week at home against the lowly Browns would signify a total collapse in confidence and likely an abrupt end to the 2009-10 campaign.

The Bears will need a “November Reign” to have a shot at the post-season. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Start em


Eli Manning: Following an embarrassing showing on National television in New Orleans last week, Eli and the Jints look to take advantage of some home cooking, and a date with the Arizona Cardinals. The Cards are 3-2, but haven’t faced a defense nearly dominant as that of the New York Giants. With the 31st ranked pass defense, Arizona will have its hands full with a Giants offense that features a host of reliable targets, including Domenik Hixon who returned from injury last week. Eli comes off two un-Manning-like performances, and will be focused on getting him and his mates back in the win column, Count on “Little Brother” to surpass 300 yards in passing, with 2 or 3 TD passes.

Philip Rivers: At 2-3, Rivers and the Bolts are not where they expected to be, five games into the season. The for-real Broncos handled the Chargers with ease in front of a stunned Monday Night crowd in San Diego last week. With an aging LT less of a threat than ever before, Rivers must do a better job of finding his huge receiving corps. A single TD toss on Monday night was nit nearly enough to hand Denver its first loss of the season. If the Chargers have any chance of making a run at the playoffs this year, they must get it done against the lowly Chiefs and the 25th ranked pass defense. Rivers does just that by connecting for 4 TD’s in a romp.


Michael Bush: According to Richard Seymour, the Raiders are playoff bound. Considering Oakland is a 2-4 team with a “Franchise” QB that is beginning to draw comparisons to Ryan Leaf, I think the former Patriot may be making a slightly bold prediction. Nevertheless, Oakland gets a Jets team that has just lost for the season, its anchor against the run, Kris Jenkins. If that’s not enough, Gang Green makes its historically unsuccessful trip to the West Coast following a deflating loss to the undermanned Bills at home. Michael Bush is not going to be asked to do the cover of Madden 20xx anytime soon, but it doesn’t even matter who the Raiders feature against the Jets this week, This game has Riders victory written all over it. Against a suddenly vulnerable Jets run defense, even Michael Bush will rush for 100 plus yards and a score.

DeAngelo Williams: The lone bright spot for the Jets against Buffalo last week was the stellar performance by Thomas Jones, who ran for a career and Jets franchise best 210 yards. The Bills are dead last against the run, and face a DeAngelo Williams who is fresh off a 152 yard outburst against the Bucs last week. D-Will should have another field day against a Buffalo team that will not pick off another 5 passes this week. Williams could do his best Thomas Jones impression on Sunday in Charlotte.


Donald Driver: Greg Jennings may be on the shelf for this one, so Driver could slide back into his former role as the primary target for Green Bay. The Packers get a horrible Browns team in Week 7, so even if Jennings does suit up, Driver should come close to duplicating his impressive line of 7-107 against the Lions last week. DD is a great play against Detroit.

Santonio Holmes: In a game that many see as Minnesota’s first defeat, Pittsburgh hosts the scorching Brett Favre and the Vikings. Big Ben has done his typically brilliant job of spreading the wealth in Steeltown, with Health Miller being the latest target of choice. This week, Santonio Holmes will take advantage of a Vikings secondary that has perhaps been the one weak link this season in Minnesota. Holmes should go for 80-100 yards and a TD.


Tony Gonzalez: Gonzo and the Falcons head to Big D with momentum and shot at one of the weakest pass defenses in the NFL. Cowboy defenders have garnered just two picks all year, and will be facing a Falcons offense that is confident, and beginning to heat up. Gonzalez has been consistent, but has yet to post a 100 yard receiving or multi-touchdown game. This may be the week.

Greg Olsen: Few teams will be hungrier to bounce back from a defeat last week than the Chicago Bears. After a disappointing loss to the Falcons last Sunday night, where the Bears “dropped” a game they should have won, the newly extended Jay Cutler and company will be firing away at a deceptive 4-2 Bengals team that just isn’t that good. Olsen hasn’t hit his stride yet, but he’s about to, as the Bears face these Bengals, the Browns and the Cardinals the next three weeks.

Sit em


Kurt Warner: Benching a QB coming off a pair of 275-plus, 2 TD performances is not a typical move. In this case however, the QB is the aging Kurt Warner, heading into a game with his former New York Giant mates at the blustery Meadowlands. The Giants D will present a much steeper challenge to Warner than the porous Texan and Seahawk defenses did the past couple of weeks. Additionally, the Giants are returning home after being smoked out on Monday night in New Orleans. Kurt’s a much better play the following week at home against a lousy Panthers squad.

Carson Palmer: The first place Bengals…..that sounds strange… the angry Bears, who are looking for redemption after blowing multiple opportunities to put away the Falcons last Sunday night in Atlanta. Although Cinchy is standing tall at 4-2, they have likely overachieved to date, and limp into this contest after a beating by Matt Schaub and the Texans. Chicago is in an early must-win situation, and will be primed to shut down Palmer and the Cincinnati offense. Carson may put up 200 yards and a TD, but it won’t be enough to make him fantasy-worthy in Week 7.


Tim Hightower: Tim needs to take a seat next to Kurt Warner this week, as it will not be in the ”Cards” for Arizona against the vaunted Giants D.

Clinton Portis: The injury prone Portis, much this week’s RB counterpart Brian Westbrook is a must start when healthy. Unfortunately, CP is once again banged up, and facing divisional rival Philadelphia before the “Deadskins” head into the bye week. Portis will probably play, as he is a warrior, but he shouldn’t be expected to provide much in the way of production. With the exception of a decent Week 5 performance against Carolina, Clinton has been just another reason to tune out the Skins on Sunday.


Braylon Edwards: The suddenly struggling Jets limp into Week 7 without All-Pro Kris Jenkins, and a just a week removed from a horrendous showing against a back-up QB led Bills team that shocked the Green and White in the “Swamps of Jersey”. Mark Sanchez will be without Jerricho Cotchery this week, and will have difficulty finding Edwards, the Jets only viable option left at WR. Sanchez may not throw another 5 INT’s, but he’ll be hard pressed to find Braylon open with Nnamdi draped all over him for 4 quarters. The Jets could be looking at yet another disappointing trip to Northern California.

Santana Moss: Another Redskin makes the “Sit em” list, as it’s difficult to recommend going with any Washington starters the way this season has played out for Jim Zorn and his struggling offense. Having been stripped of his play calling duties after last week’s defeat to hapless Kansas City, Zorn must now sit back and watch his punchless offense try its luck against Philadelphia and its 5th rated pass defense. “No Moss” in Week 7.


Kellen Winslow: Despite a strong Week 1 and 2, and a monster 9 catch, 102 yard, 2 TD effort in Week 5 in Philadelphia, the exceptionally talented but enigmatic KW Jr. should be passed on this week against New England. The Pats are starting to roll, and the Bucs are….well…the Bucs. Winless Tampa Bay gets the Patriots in London of all places on Sunday, but New England is “storming” in off a 59-0 humiliation over the Titans. With the NFL’s 6th ranked pass defense and an offense that should be on the field for the lion’s share of the game’s 60 minutes, the Patriots will shut down the Bucs, sending them to an 0-7 start.

Chris Cooley: Do you see a trend here? Have I made myself clear? DO NOT start any Redskins players this week. Just don’t do it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Same Faces, New Places

The 2009-10 Fantasy Basketball campaign kicks off just 5 days from now. This year promises to be a special season, as a host of big-name ballers changed addresses during the off-season. Shaq joined King James in Cleveland, Artest traveled to LA to help Kobe "defend" the title; Vince flew down to the Magic Kingdom to fight the Magic's foes with Superman, and Rasheed headed up to Beantown with hopes of aiding “The Big Three" in getting back to The Finals. It doesn't stop there. The Matrix inked a free agent deal with the Mavs, Hedo Turkoglu headed north of the border to Toronto, and Emeka Okafor looks to fortify CP3's Hornet front line in The Big Easy.

All of this movement makes for some exciting early-season hype, but what we really want to know is how will the fantasy value of these NBA studs be affected as they change colors?

Let's take a look at the top transplanted "Fantasy Phenoms", to see what to expect for the upcoming season.

Shaquille O’Neal: Shaq has been one of the most prolific fantasy players, ever since he was drafted by the Magic back in 1992. With the exception of his abysmal FT%, "The Diesel" has dominated practically every other "Big Man" category for many years. Father time has taken his toll on Shaq, but last season in Phoenix saw O'Neal suit up for 75 games, lead The Association in FG%, and average 17.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game....not bad for the 17 year veteran.

If Shaq can stay relatively healthy again this season, he should be able to approach those same numbers in Cleveland. He may see a drop in his points per game production, but his other totals should stay consistent across the board. The biggest challenge perhaps for Shaq, is a return to the rugged Eastern Conference, where he'll have to face off more with young beasts likes Dwight Howard more than twice during the regular season. At 37, Shaquille O'Neal is still one of the more productive centers in fantasy basketball.

Ron Artest: The biggest risk with a guy like Ron Artest is not his ability to fill the stat sheet, rather his tendency to let his ego get in the way. If there’s a team in the NBA where Ron should be a solid citizen, it’s the World Champion Lakers. Phil Jackson will have no problem getting Artest to buy in to the Zen of the day philosophy, and there will never be any confusion as to whose team the Lakers are.

As for fantasy production potential for Ron Artest with the Lakers, one would assume that the first category to take a hit would be points. Ron’s 17.1 points per game will certainly take a nose dive, perhaps to the 10-12 point level. There won’t be many shot opportunities left after Kobe, Pau, and Lamar take theirs’, so Artest will likely depend on garbage buckets and points off turnovers. One category that may actually see a lift is the steal column, as Artest will take the heat off Kobe on the defensive end, freelancing for I would imagine over 2 steals per game.

Vince Carter: Vinsanity makes its way to Central Florida, where the former Slam Dunk Champion meets another former throw-down king in Dwight Howard. When healthy, VC has been a consistent, if not spectacular fantasy player his entire career. Vince is a scoring machine, who also ranks among the best each year in assists by Forwards. Carter will certainly add even more firepower to the Magic this season, but as a fantast player, will not likely duplicate the statistics that he achieved with the Nets last year.

The Magic already feature Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis as its top two scoring threats, so Vince’s 20.8 points per game average of 2008-09 suffer. A healthy and productive Jammer Nelson also makes it difficult for Carter to duplicate the 4.7 assist that he posted last year. Nevertheless, Vince Carter will award his owners with around 15-17 points per game, 3-4 assists per game, 4-5 rebounds, and over 100 three’s.

Rasheed Wallace: If you think Ron Artest and Vince Carter will have difficulty duplicating past fantasy achievements this year, you’ll certainly be scared away from drafting Wallace. With the possible exception of three point goals, Wallace has seen his fantasy production dip along side the decline of the Detroit Pistons. Once a fantasy force, Sheed joins a team that is loaded with offensive options. There is no question that the former Tar Heel will add the intensity that the Celtics will need if they hope to be a serious contender in the Eastern Conference. As a fantasy asset however, Wallace will not even match the modest 12 points per game and 7.4 rebounds he averaged while with Detroit last season. Additionally, the once dangerous three point shooter will fail to eclipse the century mark in treys converted this year. Stay away, except as a reserve player.

Regardless of how these and other new arrivals perform for their respective squads, the 2009-10 NBA season promises to be one the of the most exciting in years. With a handful of fully loaded teams vying for the hardware, there will be nightly excitement from coast to coast.

As we move through the season, I will provide a weekly snapshot of such topics as “Rookie Watch”, “Breakout Candidates”, “Buy Low – Sell High”, and other fantasy segments. I look forward to my weekly visit with the Fantasy Hoops fanatics of

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Has It Really Been 30 Years?

As sports fanatics, we all use the events around our favorite teams and players to reflect back to our youth. When I think of growing up in Queens, NY in the seventies, I recall the lean years of the Mets and the resurgence of the once dynastic Yankees. The NFL and NBA in the seventies were not all that relevant in New York City, as it had been a decade since Joe Willie shocked the world, Bill Parcells was a few years away, and the Knicks Championship years seemed a distant memory. As for hockey, the Rangers continued to be a running punchline, and the Isles were still in their embryonic stage. There was always passion for baseball however.

In 1979, the Yankees were fresh of back-to-back World Series titles, the team’s first since 1962, also the inaugural year for the Metropolitans. “Pops” Stargell and the “We are Family” Pirates celebrated with the Steelers in “The City of Champions”, after overcoming a 3-1 Series deficit to the Orioles. While the Steelers would go on to capture 2 more Super Bowl titles in the new millennium, the Pirates, save for a brief pre-steroid Barry Bonds playoff run, would plunge to the depths of Major League Baseball, culminating in the team’s current run of 17 straight losing seasons.

Thirty years ago, there was no Wild Card playoff berth, the Brewers were an American League team, and there was a Canadian team called the Montreal Expos. In 2009, the Wild Card berth has drastically changed the landscape of September baseball, the Brewers are a National League team, and the Montreal Expos are now the Washington Nationals. There is one other “minor” difference in today’s game….the impact of modern economics.

When I attended Game 6 of the 1977 World Series at Yankee Stadium (yes, the one where Reggie smacked three straight HR’s….and yes, I’m a lifelong Mets fan), my Upper Deck ticket cost $10. When the 2009 World Series kicks off in about a week, I won’t be able to park my car for $10.

While it wouldn’t be realistic to expect the cost of attending a baseball game to remain the same after the passage of 30 years, I am saddened by the fact that my experiences as a young fan cannot possibly be replicated by my son and today’s youth. I had the good fortune to be able to take a bus or train to Shea Stadium, walk up to the ticket window and plunk down 3 bucks for an Upper Deck General Admission ticket. At those prices, even a kid that earned 15 or twenty dollars a week from his paper route could take in a bunch of games each year.

This is my inaugural article for Baseball Reflections, so I don’t want to introduce myself as a complainer…..although that would be quite easy, as I sit back once again and watch the Yankees storm through the post-season, while the Mets lick their wounds and look towards February.

Three decades after my love affair with baseball began, although I do not have the time to watch or attend as many games as I once did, my passion remains high. In 2009, I can live in Atlanta, and watch practically every MLB game that is played on a once unimaginably large screen, with a lifelike defined image. If it’s the bottom of the ninth, and my team is rallying, I can press a button on my remote control, step away to refresh my beverage, and return to the game without missing a pitch. There’s a price to pay for thirty years of advancement, but those that are technological in nature are well worth it.

With so many years of memories and experiences, I could take this article through the World Series and into Spring Training. I will however close out my maiden voyage on Baseball Reflections by thanking Peter for the opportunity to share my thoughts with his readers. I look forward to a weekly visit, and more trips down memory lane.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Road Block

On a night filled with missed opportunities, the Bears dropped a 21-14 decision to the Falcons to put an end to their 3 game win streak. A host of miscues including back-to-back 4th quarter fumbles by Matt Forte, a pair of Jay Cutler interceptions, and nine penalties for 65 yards ultimately doomed Chicago.

As quick glance at the game’s final player statistics would seem to indicate that the Bears did enough to steal a road win, as they outgained Atlanta 383 to 253 yards, and held the ball for 33:54 versus 26:06 for the Falcons. Neither team were able to move the ball on the ground, as lead backs Forte and Turner tallied just 23 and 30 yards respectively. When Jay Cutler leads the offense with 34 rushing yards, it’s likely going to result in a losing effort.

As for the multitude of Bear missed opportunities, the list continues with zero points in 3 of 4 Red-Zone trips, a failed fumble recovery, and a dropped interception. The Sunday night game of the week began in much better fashion for Chicago.

The Bears were able to get off to a quick start in this one, as Cutler connected with rookie speedster Johnny Knox on a 23 yard TD pass, on the opening 2nd quarter play. The 1st quarter was scoreless. The 7-0 lead did not last long as Matt Ryan struck back with a pair of 2nd quarter TD tosses of his own to Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez.

At the half, the Bears trailed 14-7, with the ensuing 3rd quarter playing out uneventfully much as the 1st quarter did. Late in the 3rd quarter, however, the momentum began to swing in the Falcon’s favor. Following an 8 yard reception by Desmond Clark to put the Bears on the doorstep at the Falcon 1 yard line, Matt Forte proceeded to cough up back-to-back fumbles. The first was recovered by Chicago, but the next one was captured by the Falcons at their own 2 yard line. The Bears had squandered a golden opportunity to even things up. With an entire 4th quarter to play, however, there was plenty of time to play mistake free football and even the score.

Chicago was able to knot the score at 14 with a 2 yard Jay Cutler to Greg Olsen TD connection with just 6:14 to play in the game. On that drive, Cutler drove the offense 92 yards, including a 30 yard scamper of his own.

With 3:06 left to play in the 4th however, the Bears couldn’t contain Michael Turner, as he blasted into the end zone on a 5 yard TD dash.

With less than a minute remaining on the clock, the Bears were looking at a 4th and 1 from the Atlanta 5, when Orlando Pace committed a critical false start penalty, pushing the offense back to a 4th and 6 at the Falcon 10 yard line. Cutler’s next pass was incomplete to Clark.

The Bears couldn’t have hoped for more opportunities to get by the Falcons Sunday night. Despite a no-show from Matt Forte and the Bears offensive line, Cutler was able move the ball well enough to create scoring opportunities for Chicago. In the end however, Cutler’s tosses to Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud, along with Morte’s blunders, and the multiple penalties assessed to Chicago proved to be too much to overcome.

Next week will no be any easier for the Bears, as they travel to Cincinnati to take on a 4-2 Bengals squad that has the weapons to capitalize on any mistakes the Bears may be prone to making. A repeat performance of this week’s careless showing will likely push Chicago further behind the red-hot Vikings. As we near the mid-season mark, there will be very little margin for error going forward. It’s time to seize the opportunity.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Back to Work for the Bears

The Bears take the show on the road, as they look to make it four in a row, and build on the momentum the strong 3-1 start established before last weeks’ bye.

This week’s opponent, the Atlanta Falcons are coming off a 45-10 thrashing of the Niners in San Francisco last Sunday. In a primetime matchup, the rejuvenated Birds will have the “Dome” crowd behind them this time, as sophomore sensation Matt Ryan and company will be seeking an opportunity to move into a potential first place tie with the undefeated Saints, who host the undefeated Giants in New Orleans.

Although the Falcons have taken 9 of their last 10 home games of the Mike Smith era, the lone defeat came at the hands of Jay Cutler and his former Bronco mates. This time around, however, the Falcons are a more seasoned bunch, and will likely post 30-plus points, forcing Cutler to the air early and often. Should the Bears defense hope to slow down the Falcons aerial attack, they will have to handle Michael Turner the way this 9th ranked rushing defense has corralled other backs that have challenged them this year.

Should Turner and the Falcons be unable to run the ball effectively throughout the contest, the Bears defense will be able to provide help on the coverage of dangerous Roddy White and ageless Tony Gonzalez. The Bears flaunt the 9th ranked run defense in the NFL to date.

If a road upset is in the cards for Chicago, the Bears ground game will have to perform better than the 27th ranked run offense that they are. The Bears offense will need to control the clock and keep Ryan and the Falcons scoring machine on the bench for as long as possible. A fifth straight victory by the Bears will likely require a Forte effort similar or stronger than the one he delivered against the Lions two weeks ago.

The good news for the rested Bears offense this week, is the fact that they will be facing a Falcons defense that despite an impressive showing in last week’s triumph, still rank a dismal 22nd and 24th in the league in passing and rushing defense respectively.

Unfortunately for the Bears, however, they will likely face an uphill battle all evening, having a difficult time defending the multi-pronged passing attack of Matt Ryan, and being forced into a game of catch-up in a hostile environment. If Cutler and the offense play mistake-free football, the Bears have a chance to hang around in this one, but it will probably not be enough to get the job done.

Falcons 31 Bears 20

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Start em


Aaron Rodgers: The Pack look to rebound off last week’s heart-breaking defeat at the hands of Brett and the Vikes. Rodgers threw for 384 yards in that game, on the road, against a much better defense than he’ll see this week from the Lions. A date with the NFC North’s cellar dwellers is just what Aaron and the Packers need to get over the Vikings hangover. Expect Rodgers to toss 3 TD’s and once again surpass 300 yards in the air. He may even get the 4th quarter off in this one.

Jason Campbell: The Skins haven’t exactly been lighting up the scoreboard thus far, but along come the dreadful Chiefs and their 29th ranked pass defense. Campbell should contribute to the Jim Zorn support effort by continuing to throw efficiently (Jason has a 66.7% completion percentage through the first 5 weeks of the season). J-Cam’s yardage total should be in the same neighborhood as the 340 yards he threw for against the hapless Lions in Week 3. Add a couple of TD’s for good measure.


Matt Forte: A well rested Matt Forte looks to pick up where he left off before the Bears took a seat for an early Week 5 bye. Forte is coming off his 1st 100 yard rushing performance of the year, and should add another against an Atlanta team that is returning from an emotional thrashing of the 49ers. The Falcons can certainly score points on offense, but have yet to prove that they can shut down a talented back such as Forte.

Knowshon Moreno: The surprisingly 5-0 Broncos take their show on the road to San Diego, and the Monday Night stage. Knowshon has taken the reigns as the starting back having averaged over 18 carries per game the past 4 weeks. The disappointing Chargers bring the 27th ranked run defense into Week 6. With Correll Buckhalter still hobbled, Moreno should add a 20 plus carry, 80-100 yard performance to his rookie resume.


Braylon Edwards: In his home debut, the new number one for Gang Green will be welcomed by a raucous Meadowlands crowd, hungry to put last week’s Wildcat woes behind them. Edwards has been nothing short of spectacular since his arrival from the Browns, delivering a stunning performance in the loss against the Dolphins, and following it up with a week full of highlight reel grabs on the practice field. Jerricho Cotchery aggravated his leg injury last week and may sit this one out, paving the way for a huge afternoon for Braylon.

Mike Sims-Walker: Following a Week 5 that saw MSW deactivated for missing the team’s bed check late Friday night, the hopefully remorseful Sims-Walker will be motivated to take advantage of the “Rush”-less visiting Rams. The arrival of the NFC West doormats couldn’t come at a better time for MSW, as he should have all of the desire he needs to get it going again heading into the Week 7 bye. Count on 6-8 catches, 100 plus yards and a score for the returning WR.


Jeremy Shockey: You think Shock had this one circled on his calendar? The undefeated Giants visit the undefeated Saints for this week’s marquee matchup and Jeremy Shockey grudge fest. In an expected shootout between two of the league’s premier riflemen, Brees will no doubt be connecting with a fired up Shockey throughout the contest. Sheer adrenaline alone should carry Jeremy to his best performance of the season. This one is going to be fun to watch.

Jermichael Finley: Before their Week 5 bye, the Packers faithful witnessed a coming out party by Jermichael Finley, as he delivered an electrifying 62 yard catch and run against the Vikings. This Sunday’s massacre-to-be against the Lions will be another Rodgers-Finley love-fest and another 100 yard plus performance for the talented TE.

Sit em


Kerry Collins: Jeff Fisher may be sticking with Collins as his QB, but Kerry continues to be a poor bet on Fantasy Sunday. The still winless Titans travel to New England, where they will likely run into a buzzsaw. The Patriots welcome back the ageless Junior Seau this week, as they look to remain unbeaten at home. The Pats may not bring the vaunted defense they did during the Championship years, but find ways to get it done at home week after week. Collins is short on play-makers at the WR position and he’ll once again fail to get to 300 yards passing or toss more than a lone TD pass.

Joe Flacco: Coming off a long afternoon against the underrated Bengals defense, Flacco gets the undefeated Vikings in the dome on Sunday. While it’s highly unlikely that Flacco’s top target Derrick Mason will be shut out in back-to-back weeks, Jared Allen and the sack happy Vikings D will make life miserable for the Sophomore QB.


Jerome Harrison: After a 100 yard rushing performance against the Bengals, Jerome posted a whopping 21 yards versus the lowly Bills in last week’s 6-3 sorry excuse for a victory. The back end of this Browns road trip is in Pittsburgh, where the 2nd ranked run defense of the Steelers play host. While Braylon Edwards is suddenly the toast of the town in NY, the offensive starved Browns will be hard pressed to move the ball against the Champs. Harrison has the potential to be a decent fantasy RB, but with an inconsistent Derek Anderson at the helm, and a very thin WR corps, Jerome will have to be patient.

Pierre Thomas: A banged up Pierre Thomas is now in jeopardy of a time share with Mike Bell, and to make matters worse, preparing to heal in time for the New York Giants. Even with a full load of carries, Thomas is not an advisable start against the Jints.


Calvin Johnson: To even consider benching Megatron has got to be a gut-wrenching dilemma for fantasy owners. With his early departure from last week’s game against the Steelers due to a leg injury, and a week full of uninspiring practice sessions, it’s time to bite the bullet and look elsewhere this week. As high as the upside is for CJ owners each week, he’s just too risky a play this time around.

Terrell Owens: The TO experiment is about to combust. With trade rumors swirling, the Bills head to The Meadowlands to visit the angry Jets, and Rex Ryan defense that will be motivated to show the league that last week’s effort was an anomaly. TO will be wrapped up by Darrelle Revis, who will be certain not to allow another big play TD similar to the one he yielded to Ted Ginn in Miami. The TO show has “jumped the shark”.


Zach Miller: The Raiders may be the worst option in the NFL when looking for fantasy talent. It seems like it’s been ages since Rich Gannon lit up defenses en route to an NFL MVP award and a Super Bowl appearance. Things have changed considerably since then, with a slew of poor free agents signings, and questionable draft picks. Zach Miller is a solid TE that would be more than serviceable on most other NFL teams. The Raiders are not most NFL teams.

Dustin Keller: For the second straight week Keller should be benched. He was shut out in Miami on Monday night, and now with Braylon Edwards in town, Dustin’s targets will just go down. The Jets continue to search for that elusive pass catching TE that has seemed to evade the franchise since Mickey Shuler donned the Green and White.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Week 5 Start Em and Sit Em


Start em


Derek Anderson: Having “secured” the starting nod, and coming off a decent performance against an underrated Bengals D, Derek should put up at least 2 TD’s and 250 -300 yards, against the 21st ranked Buffalo pass defense. The emergence of Jerome Harrison will force the Bills D to focus on stopping the ground game, opening it up for the electrifying Georgia Alum Mohamed Massaquoi.

Matt Cassel: A healthy Cassel looks to get the Chiefs in the win column against a Dallas defense that has thus far failed to resemble the stout 2008 squad. Dwayne Bowe should be running on all cylinders for KC, presenting problems for the struggling Dallas secondary. The Boys come into this week ranked just 29th against the pass. The Chiefs will be hungry to earn their first win of 2009 in front of their home crowd.


DeAngelo Williams: The early bye week has given the Cats a chance to regroup, and their Week 5 opponent just makes things easier. The Skins continue to search for their identity in a loaded NFC East division. A fresh D-Will should turn in his first 100 yard rushing performance of the season, and add a touchdown or two in the process.

Glen Coffee: The injury to Frank Gore has opened up an opportunity for the Bama rookie to carry the load for the 3-1 Niners. Coffee carried the rock twenty-plus times the past two weeks, and will repeat the feat again this week against the Dirty Birds. The defensively thin Falcons will return home from the West Coast at .500, as Coffee will be featured all day, eclipsing the 100 yard mark on the ground, as well as contributing a few catches out of the backfield.


Colts Receivers: This could get ugly. Peyton Manning and the Colts are ripping through defenses in vintage form. The putrid Titans will have their hands full with a stable of young Colts receivers. Reggie Wayne is a must start every week, but against the pitiful Titans secondary, I would start Pierre Garcon, and even Austin Collie in deeper leagues. The stampede continues, as the elder Manning throws for another 300+ yards and 3 or 4 TD’s.

DeSean Jackson: He’s baaaack!....Donovan McNabb that is. The timing couldn’t be better for Donovan’s return, as the woeful Bucs are in town this week, following the early bye for the Eagles. DeSean should pickup where he left off with Kevin Kolb two weeks ago, and continue his stellar sophomore campaign. This one is a no-brainer, as a well rested Eagles squad will soar, with DeSean posting 7-10 catches and a pair of TD’s.


Dante Rosario: Dante is another Panther that will take advantage of the extra rest, and struggling opponent this week. Prior to the Week 4 bye, Rosario cashed in on a TD in weeks two and three. Jake Delhomme is fighting to keep his job in Carolina, and this week’s remedy is courtesy of the Washington Redskins. Count on Dante to add another score to his resume on 5 catches.

Dallas Clark: DC will join the endzone party in Tennessee this week. (see Colts Receivers)

Sit em


Mark Sanchez: Although he should turn in a much better performance than the clunker that he delivered in The Big Easy, “Madison Mark” will struggle with his new-look receiving corps on the Monday Night stage. Braylon Edwards will eventually settle in as the go-to guy, but it may take a couple of weeks for the new combo to gel. Sanchez limits his mistakes this week, but throws only 1 TD to go with an INT. The growing pains continue.

Chad Henne: Miami’s neophyte QB will not fare much better, having to contend with “The Revis Effect”. Whoever the primary target is this week for the Fins will have a boring afternoon. Henne won’t have much luck elsewhere, as Rex Ryan’s swarming D will have the QB running for his life all night. You can find much better QB options than the “other” Chad in Week 5.


Steven Jackson: This one was tough, but I’m gong to recommend benching one of the NFL’s most talented backs. I do this because the 2009 St. Louis Rams are far and away the worst team in the league, facing a charged-up, Brett Favre led, 4-0 Vikings team, which is on a mission. Sure, S-Jax will get his 20-25 carries and a handful of dump-offs, but a visit to the end zone is highly unlikely. I am taking my own advice as well, benching Jackson in favor of DeAngelo Williams, who I recommended all of you start this week.

Kevin Smith: A banged up Matthew Stafford plus a banged up Calvin Johnson plus a date with the Champion Steelers equals a pass on Kevin Smith in week 5. Enough said.


Antwaan Randle-El: After a strong showing in Week 1 versus the New York Giants, Antwaan disappeared against far inferior defenses in St. Louis and Detroit. This week’s foe, the Carolina Panthers, feature the league’s 6th ranked passing defense, and are coming off a bye week, playing at home. I can’t imagine this being the week that Randle-El regains his opening week form. Take a pass.

Mario Manningham: With Eli Manning a game-time decision, Mario is a shaky start this week. It doesn’t help matters that Oakland’s Nnamdi-led secondary could cause problems for either a gimpy Eli or a horrible David Carr. Besides, Steve Smith has clearly emerged as the man for Big Blue.


Kellen Winslow: Junior busted out of the gate quickly, but after a quiet Week 4, things don’t get any easier as the Bucs travel to Philly to face their third NFC East opponent in as many weeks. The Eagles boast the 2nd ranked pass defense, and will ride the excitement of McNabb’s return to a landslide victory. The Bucs will be forced to air it out often in this one, but Winslow will be lucky to corral more than 3 or 4 catches for 40 or 50 yards, and no TD’s.

Dustin Keller: He has bright future with a young Jets receiving corps, but he will struggle to produce this week, as Sanchez continues to work through his rookie experience. Maybe next week when the Bills visit “The Swamps of Jersey”, but not on Monday night.