Football Sunday’s are not the most conducive of learning environments. With pizza, beer, nagging spouses, and unwarranted heckling all acting as distracters, it’s a wonder we’re able to retain anything. Thankfully osmosis still works even when your brain is soaked in Budweiser.
Here’s what I learned from Week 1…
–Rashard Mendenhall owners need to buy Jeff Reed a beer. Not all at once, of course. That would definitely lead to property damage. Reed missed what would have been a game winning field goal with 39 seconds left in regulation, giving Mendenhall a chance to salvage what was an otherwise non-descript afternoon of work. Salvage he did, turning a 21-carry, 70-yard performance into a 20 point fantasy day with one 50-yard touchdown scamper. Appreciate the end result, but don’t discount the 3.3 YPC through regulation. The Steelers did not look good with Denny Dixon at the helm.
-The Jaguars did plenty right against the Broncos, but the smartest decision made by Jack Del Rio was prohibiting any contact between Champ Bailey and David Garrard. Unfortunately for those who invested in Mike Sims-Walker, The Champ was suckled to him like a baby mammal all afternoon, leading to zero catches on zero targets. Frankly, you should have expected this kind of inconsistent production out of MSW – it’s kind of his M.O. There are big games coming, so don’t panic, but let this be a lesson: Sims-Walker is not to be trusted in anything other than WR3/Flex role.
-Not that you should, but if you care, David Nelson led the Bills in targets, Steve Johnson was the leading receiver, and Roscoe Parrish scored Buffalo’s only touchdown, a 31-yard catch that came on busted coverage. In related news, Lee Evans sucks.
-Anyone who hyped Matt Moore as a potential sleeper should be slapped in the mouth. I haven’t seen a QB perform that poorly since Jake Delhomme was wobbling passes…in Carolina last year. After three interceptions in the end zone, Moore’s day thankfully ended early when he was mildly-concussed by Osi Umenyiora. He’s expected to start against Tampa Bay this week, but if he’s unable, or relents in the middle, it’ll be the cock-sure, yet completely unprepared, Jimmy Clausen who takes the reins. Somewhere, Steve Smith is scowling.
-Speaking of Smith, considering the high probability of poor quarterbacking in Carolina this season, you’d think he’d be an obvious downgrade, but I wouldn’t be so hasty. The perpetually angry wideout still managed to catch five balls for 75 yards and a score against the Giants, and looking at his history, he once posted an 87 catch/1,002 yard/7 touchdown season with David Carr and a 44-year old Vinny Testaverde as his primary passers. It doesn’t get any worse than that.
-After watching Brandon Jackson rack up 18 carries for 63 yards in a little over a half of action against the Eagles, here’s what we know: He’s not particularly explosive or quick, he’s not elusive, and he doesn’t break very many tackles. He is, however, a better than average pass protector and receiver. And he knows the offense. Judging from the workload on Sunday, the Packers seem pretty comfortable letting him take over Ryan Grant‘s duties in entirety. If you were lucky enough to snag him off waivers, consider Jackson an RB3 with considerable RB2 potential.
Two Side Notes: If you thought John Kuhn was annoying before, wait till you see what he does now. He got the goal line carry last week, and could easily poach seven touchdowns this year. Kuuuuhhhhnnnn.
If you’re into deeeep sleepers here’s a name for you: James Starks. His nickname is Buck. I’ll let you Google the rest.
-*WARNING: OBLIGATORY WHITE WIDE RECEIVER COMPARISON* Maybe it’s just me, but is Jordan Shipley the next Danny Abramowicz? Same build, same fearless demeanor, same pasty skin…it’s uncanny.
I know the Bengals passing numbers were skewed a bit against the Patriots, and Shipley padded his totals by catching a 51-yard Hail Mary at the end of the first half, but it was pretty apparent the rumors about him were true. Mainly that he’s a sure-handed, precision route runner with enough quickness to not make him Greg Camarillo. With Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco demanding more attention than a drunk girlfriend on the outside, and Jermaine Gresham already a matchup nightmare, Shipley will find himself in plenty of wide-open spaces. For those of you born after 1970, think Austin Collie of last year, minus the touchdowns.
-Davone Bess is a PPR machine. With Camarillo out of the picture, and Brandon Marshall dominating the defense’s focus, Bess is able to do what he does best – worm his way free 5-10 yards down the field and catch everything thrown at him. In the opener he hauled in six passes for a useable 51 yards, and was the pumpkin of Chad Henne‘s pupil every time the Dolphins needed to convert a third down. You have to go all the way back to November of 2008 to find the last time Bess didn’t catch at least three balls in a game. There’s no sexy upside, but there’s something to be said for knowing what you’re getting week-in, week-out. Hell, it’s the reason I’m married, and not dating Diamond the vajazzled stripper.
-People were quick to point the finger at Derek Anderson’s inaccuracy as the reason Larry Fitzgerald only caught three passes, despite 15 targets. While that’s true to some extent, it’s not the whole story. Fact is Fitzy, who was blanketed single-handedly by some dude named Ron Bartell, couldn’t get open like he usually does because of his still-balky knee. Hopefully it’s just lingering soreness and a lack of strength in the knee that’s slowing him down, two things that will get better with time. Meanwhile, don’t worry about the awkwardness between him and Anderson. It’s nothing two margaritas and a little practice can’t fix.
Pessimistic Pete’s Take: The injury was initially reported as a mild MCL sprain, and shouldn’t still be giving him this much trouble four weeks later. If you start hearing the words “treatment” and “missed practice” with regularity, sell immediately. The only thing that lingers with more negative ramifications than a fart is a knee injury.
-If the Falcons were located in Vermont, I’m pretty sure Matt Ryan would have asked Roddy White to marry him by now. That’s how much he loves his stud wideout. Of his 44 pass attempts against the Steelers, 23 were directed at White, who hauled in a career-high 13 balls for 111 yards. With Tony Gonzalez slowly deteriorating, and Michael Jenkins and Harry Douglas being who they are, don’t be surprised if White’s your NFC receptions leader at year’s end.
-As expected, the answer to the question, “Who is Donovan McNabb going to throw to?” is Chris Cooley, Santana Moss, and hopefully nobody else. Each came out of the Cowboys game with nine targets and six catches. Anthony Armstrong, who I kind of actually like, saw five targets, but caught just one ball, looking like the former member of the Odessa Roughnecks that he is. Fred Davis, Joey Galloway, and Devin Thomas were nowhere to be seen, and Malcolm Kelly may be dead. Or on IR. Not really sure, and don’t want waste two minutes Googling his name. Either way, point is, an aging McNabb is still better than any QB Cooley or Moss has ever had, and if all three can stay healthy, monster seasons could be in store for the two pass catchers.
Random Stat Predictions: Moss – 83 catches, 1,237 yards, seven touchdowns
Cooley – 92 catches, 1,012 yards, eight touchdowns
–Peyton Hillis is no fluke. He’s practically guaranteed all goal line work, is a perfect short target for the impotent-armed Delhomme, and runs with the power/speed combination of a late-90’s Mike Alstott. Plus, it’s pretty clear that Jerome Harrison hooked up with someone in Eric Mangini’s family. He’ll be the full-time starter over the Mangenius’s bloated, dead body. If Hillis gets over 185 touches, which is entirely possible, he’ll be a legitimate RB3, on par with Marion Barber and Thomas Jones in PPR leagues.
-The running back you want to own in Seattle is…nobody. Well, I guess Justin Forsett‘s explosiveness and pass catching skills are worth holding onto, but I’d loosen my grip considerably. Thanks to eternal pain in the arse Julius Jones, the Seahawks backfield is now a clustered muck of a mess. Against the 49ers, Jones led the way with eight carries, Leon Washington had six, and Forsett had seven, reeling off a 32-yard run, but averaging 1.8 YPC on his six other attempts. There’s yardage to be had on the ground against Denver this week, but good luck guessing who’ll produce it.