September 28, 2011

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NFL Predictions: Week 4 Surprise Fantasy Studs

By: Rick Jarrell

Man, was Week 3 for the NFL exciting. A total of ten underdogs took home wins, the highlight being the Buffalo Bills, who survived Tom Brady’s New England Patriots to take the early division lead. The Oakland Raiders mostly dominated the New York Jets, the Cleveland Browns scored a game winning touchdown in the last two minutes, and Michael Vick somehow managed to start, but got knocked out, again. All around entertaining week.

My NFL fantasy predictions, however, were a mixed bag. Rex Grossman had a decent game against the Dallas Cowboys, but failed to put up significant numbers. The San Diego Chargers were a huge disappointment, not blowing out the hobbled Kansas City Chiefs as they should. Vick started, but Mike Kafka did get some playing time, but did not impress.

The bright spot was Rob Gronkowski, who again, scored two touchdowns in a high scoring battle against the Bills. Ochocinco should have had a good game, as well, but dropped a sure fire 50 yard touchdown pass. It slipped right through his hands. Stunning. Still can’t believe it. While I continue to try to digest that, on to Week 4 NFL predictions.

Tony Romo

A lot of people have been down on Romo. Sure, he screwed up in Week 1 against the New York Jets. But he’s still a Top 10 quarterback, and whether or not he’s a true leader, he’ll still give you NFL fantasy points. I’ll admit, his performance Monday was less than stellar. I expected much more. But he is playing with broken ribs and a pierced lung, so he deserves some slack.

Another week to recover should be good for him. Although it’s a short week and recover time isn’t normal, expect him to have a big game against the Detroit Lions. The Lions secondary is sub-par, and with a high scoring offense led by Matt Stafford, I see this being a shootout. If Romo can’t go, Jon Kitna wouldn’t be the worst pick up for those desperate.

Donovan McNabb / Percy Harvin

I’m very surprised to be saying this, but I think McNabb is poised for a good week. Perceived by many to be well past his prime, and Week 1’s performance was nothing short of proof, McNabb has played decently the past two weeks. The Vikings would have won Sunday if not for their aversion from Adrian Peterson in the second half, which was strange to say the least.

A match up against Kansas City, a team down a Pro Bowl safety in Eric Berry, and a team I predicted to get slaughtered last week, should be favorable, despite my incorrect prediction. Without deep protection, McNabb’s top deep threat, Percy Harvin, should be able to get some space.

Tim Hightower/Roy Helo

The running back by committee is a fantasy owner’s worst enemy. Washington Redskin’s coach Mike Shanahan is a notorious offender. But their Week 4 match up against the St. Louis Rams’ – the worst running defense in the league – should have one, if not both, poised for a big game.

Historically, Shanahan’s “no-name” backs have exploded randomly a few times a season, but never stuck as top of the depth chart guys. I like what Hightower does as a blocking back, and Helu certainly has potential, so hopefully they do stick. But expect an offensive explosion from one of them sometime this season, likely this week being their best shot.

September 21, 2011

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Predicting the NFL Week 3 Fantasy Studs

By: Rick Jarrell

Like many media personalities, I’m going to take a stab at predicting which NFL players will have spectacular statistical performances this upcoming weekend. But unlike many media personalities, I’m going to predict the top five players in the league – Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, Andre Johnson, etc – will have a great week. That’s a cop out. Anyone can do that. The following are my somewhat bold predictions for NFL Week 3 fantasy studs.

Rex Grossman

I’m still surprised the Washington Redskins didn’t decide to go with Jon Beck as their starting quarterback, but I digress. Grossman has shown flashes of the good and bad we saw during his Chicago Bears days. Mike Shanahan may be reeling in the gun slinger, creating a reliable starter, and the suspect Dallas Cowboys’ secondary provides a solid match up. Where Dallas’s secondary lacks, it’s run defense makes up for it, with playmakers on the defensive line, which leads me to believe the Skins will be even more inclined to take it to the air as much as possible. But I caution you, as always, Grossman will throw a pick or two on his way to a 400 yard game.

Rob Gronkowski & Chad Ochocinco

Gronkowski has already been tearing it up this year, with three touchdowns in two games, even while splitting time with fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez (often in two tight end formations). But now that Hernandez will be out the next 2-4 weeks, Gronkowski should benefit even more by being additionally targeted by Tom Brady.

But one man can only do so much. There has to be another benefactor, someone who hasn’t tallied as many receptions as normal on the team. Someone who’s very vocal, but strangely not the last two weeks. That man, of course, is Ochocinco. He’s crowded behind the aforementioned athletic tight ends and very Patriot-minded players Deion Branch, Wes Welker, and Julian Edelman. Even with Brady throwing for 500 yards a game, that’s a lot of love to spread around. Expect Ocho to benefit from Hernandez’s absence, possibly more than Gronkowski will.

The Entire San Diego Chargers Team

The Kansas City Chiefs surprised everyone last year by winning the division handily but have stumbled out of the gate this year. They lost their Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry in Week 1, and Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles in Week 2. Both to ACL injuries. Both are out for the year. Couple that with the wide perception the team would take a step back this NFL season, it will likely be a very long year for the team and their fans.

The beneficiary of the Chief’s misfortunes this week will be the division rival Chargers. Moving the opposite direction of the Chiefs, as they are widely perceived to have underperformed last year, stud quarterback Phillip Rivers should have a huge game against the depleted secondary. Who catches the ball the most – Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd, Antonio Gates – is irrelevant, as it’s probable all three will have very favorable games for their fantasy owners.

Mike Kafka

That’s right, I said it – Mike Kafka. League rules state Michael Vick has to sit out at least one game after his concussion (at least I think those are still the rules). So unless they change the rules specifically for him, Kafka is the man for Philadelphia this Sunday. The former Northwestern quarterback is highly unknown, but I can tell you this – it seems no matter who the Eagles put in at quarterback, they still win. Donovan McNabb, AJ Feely, Kevin Kolb, Vick, and now Kafka, who went 7-9 after Vick’s departure this past weekend.

Don’t expect Kafka to turn into Drew Brees. Not even close. They’ll probably try to establish the run, with LeSean McCoy having a breakout season so far. But the Giants have a strong defensive line. They’re weak in the secondary. So in a situation where you’d think Andy Reid would limit pass attempts to below 20, it may actually eclipse 30.

I hope none of you drafted Peyton Manning and David Garrard and are already hounding the waiver wire. But for the few that exist, Kafka is a decent option. Assuming Grossman is unavailable, that is.