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NFL Week 2 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

September 18, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

gostowskiLet’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 2 in the National Football League!

– So it looks like Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall’s trash talking motivated the Packers defense. I wonder if the Packers defense will now turn the corner from their 2011 ways and look more like the 2010 defense that helped them win a Super Bowl.

– Jay Cutler is one of the most overrated Quarterbacks in the NFL and he clearly showed it this past Thursday night. He entered the game “talking the talk” and left the game “limping the limp.” If you want to talk like a top notch QB then you need to play like one.

- Buffalo carried over that 2nd half against the New York Jets into their game with the Kansas City Chiefs with a good bounce back victory in Week 2. I really think when the time comes for Fred Jackson to be healthy again he won’t be welcomed back into the offense like he used to. CJ Spiller is the real deal (finally).

– What is with Jamaal Charles this week with six carries and three yards rushing? Are the Kansas City Chiefs just taking it easy with their star Running Back coming off of a torn ACL or is it something more? It’ll definitely be worth keeping an eye on the next couple of weeks.

– Cincinnati was in a must-win situation as a young team in Week 2 and they got the win they desperately needed. Despite being a playoff team last season they need to prove that they are for real yet again.

– I love what I am seeing from the Cleveland Browns the last two weeks, granted they are 0-2 to start the season but they have pushed both the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals to the limit the last two games to start the season. They may become that really bad team that no one wants to face.

– Congrats to Andrew Luck on getting his first win as a starting Quarterback in the NFL. The “monkey is off his back” per se and now he can focus on continuing to make the Colts a competitive team once again.

– Minnesota obviously still has a ways to go but nearly going 2-0 to start the season shows that they are headed in the right direction no matter the competition they have been playing to start the season. Once again Adrian Peterson proves he is above the normal human being by giving a solid game eight months after tearing his ACL; why do I feel like this will be a common trend with him?

– Ladies and gentlemen please meet the Miami Dolphins and their explosive offense! Reggie Bush shows flashes of what many people thought he would do when he entered the NFL many seasons ago. The only question I have with Bush is if he can keep this going, if he can then he will be one of the best Running Backs (especially for Fantasy owners) in the NFL this season.

– Oakland continues to show that no matter how much they improve they are still the Raiders. This is not a good team at all and for them to reach the near .500 plateau yet again will be a very difficult challenge.

– The Arizona Cardinals win the award for the biggest upset of the week as they defeated the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Not only is it shocking because the Cards beat the defending AFC Champions at home but because Kevin Kolb was their starting Quarterback throughout the contest. I really liked what I saw out of the Cardinals defense this week as well.

– New England’s loss is obviously a very shocking one and shows that there could be some weaknesses in a very dominant franchise. Obviously anytime a dominant team for the last decade loses a game like this you have to wonder what they will be like at times during the regular season.

– The New York Football Giants stepped up in a big way on both sides of the ball in the 2nd half of the Week 2 game because they needed to or face a horrific way to start their 2012 season after winning Super Bowl 46 last season. Eli Manning played like he did all last season and that’s a great sign for the Giants. Also another great sign was how dominant both Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz were catching the ball for #10.

– Tampa Bay almost pulled off a huge shocker and nearly improved to 2-0 for the start of the season. I like what I saw out of the Bucs and see them as being a pretty decent threat this year in the NFC South. If they can get their defense under control then we could be looking at a surprise team in the NFC this year.

– The Philadelphia Eagles are 2-0 to start the season and a win is a win but they are the worst undefeated team in the NFL right now. They have not looked dominant at all and are just barely beating their opponents. If they can control the ball and not give up turnovers then this could be a much better team then they currently are.

– Baltimore should be 2-0 at this point in the season but they are showing flashes of their inconsistency that plagued them all last season. I blame that inconsistency clearly on Joe Flacco as his leadership skills have still not improved. Hopefully this is a wakeup call for a team that could be AFC Championship bound yet again if they can get themselves under control.

– As heard on Friday’s edition of The Bower Show I really liked Carolina in completing the upset of the New Orleans Saints this week and putting them at 0-2 to start the season. The Panthers did such and now the Saints are in a really bad place to start their 2012 season.

– Since 1990, 12% of teams that start 0-2 make the playoffs. Now that doesn’t mean the Saints won’t make the playoffs but it definitely is an uphill battle for this team. It’s amazing to see how poor they are playing WITHOUT Sean Payton on the sidelines. I was expecting Drew Brees to step up as a leader but he has failed to do such yet.

– Anyone who read my articles last season and my NFL preview this season knows how high I am on the Houston Texans. They play in a very weak division and are a pretty good team. Those intangibles can lead them to the AFC Championship or beyond. Houston continues to play well and has started the season off on the right foot; great things could be brewing in Houston.

– Jacksonville is a team that isn’t going places. They have very little talent on their team and appear to potentially be the worst team in the NFL so far this season.

– Jeff Fisher gets his first win as the St. Louis Rams head coach and he did so against a pretty good underrated team. Sam Bradford is starting to come into his own and looked very strong against Washington in Week 2. They could be a surprise team in the NFC this season.

– So let’s reel in everyone after the “love fest” RGIII received last week after a huge win against the New Orleans Saints. This team is good but they are 2-3 years away from fully competing in the NFC East. If you are a Redskins fan you should be very happy right now despite the Week 2 loss to the St. Louis Rams.

– Entering this season the Seattle Seahawks were one of those teams that many people liked to potentially shock teams in the NFC West. They didn’t do that in Week 1 but after a win against Dallas in Week 2 they are certainly looking like there is still hope to reach that potential, impressive job on both sides of the ball from the Seahawks in this one.

– “The Tony Romo era” for the Dallas Cowboys can be summed up in the last two games from this season so far. You get a really big win against a tough team the week before but get blown out from a team coming off of a loss in the next week. I still don’t know what to think of Romo and Big D just yet.

– Think Pittsburgh heard the whispers that their team was getting old and their window may be closing? Good win for the Steel city against a team they needed to beat in Week 2. While I still think their window is closing they certainly helped me insert my foot into my mouth this week.

– Just like Dallas these last two games for the Jets could be the tale of their entire season: huge offensive explosion the week before and then huge letdown the week after.

– Really like what I have been seeing the last two weeks from Phillip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers. I was a big fan of them having a comeback season from last year’s disappointment and so far they are living up to that potential. Rivers has a lot to prove to the rest of the NFL when it comes to his skills, especially as a leader.

– How are Chris Johnson Fantasy Football owners feeling after this 2nd consecutive horrible week? This could be a long season for the Titans…

– Yep, the San Francisco 49ers is the team to beat not only in the NFC but in the NFL as well. I have seen no weaknesses with this team in the first two games of the year.

– Detroit had their chances to try and make this game close on Sunday Night but Matthew Stafford looked like the pressure from the Niners defense was making him force poor decisions throughout the game. Had Stafford stayed even keel throughout the game maybe it would be a different story for the Lions offense.

– The biggest challenge to the San Francisco 49ers this season may be the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons, like the 49ers, appear to be the most complete team not only in the NFC but in the NFL as well.

- After a great game against the Pittsburgh Steelers the Denver Broncos struggled against a pretty underrated Falcons defense; looks like we need to “pump our brakes” on welcoming the “old” Peyton Manning back to the NFL.

– Please NFL, make a deal with the “regular” refs and bring them back!

For more NFL talk join Bower, Chris Johnson and myself Monday – Friday throughout the Football season on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, ESPN 1300 in New Haven and online at 979espn.com!

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

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Fantasy Football Start Em Sit Em Week 2

September 13, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

cj spillerThe time has come to call out all the big shots who actually get paid to do this stuff! Matthew Berry of ESPN, you think you want some of this? Yahoo Sports guys like Andy Behrens and Brandon Funston, you really think you can handle this? Fantasy Guru’s, RotoWorld, and on and on, you all want a piece of me? I am here to call all of you out.

Yes me, just a lone guy with no errand boys to do my research, no mega-million dollar studio or financial backing, just a man, a computer, and a little football knowledge, especially fantasy football. The Shark should be the buzz right now in the fantasy world and now you all have your chance to jump on the bandwagon!

“Who is this guy?”, “Why is this guy all into himself?”, you may all be asking. Well I will get right down to it. Week 1 of the NFL season saw me go a lusty 4-0 in my fantasy leagues, but not only that, I was the point leader in every league, including our league here at CamelClutchBlog.com. The pre-season promises I made all were falling into place. I told the world that Matt Ryan was going to be amazing, and he was.

I drafted Brandon Marshall in every league, and he was back to form. Reggie Bush? Yep I have lots of Reggie, and despite no TD’s, he was solid. You don’t trust Tony Romo? I sure did! Kevin Smith can’t get the job done? That’s fine I’ll give him a try. Stevan Ridley made an appearance, so did Malcolm Floyd. Ravens defense is too old? All is good, I rolled those dice. Oh everything went right, a sheer perfect week. All that was missing in “fantasy” was Sofia Vergara serving me dinner in a French Maid uniform. (A man can dream). The beauty or beast of it all is that you are only as good as the next week. As much as I’d like to think my bragging and confidence is a good thing, it can easily explode. No problem, it’s a long season.

Week 2 comes at us very fast, as we have a Thursday night game to deal with, so I have to come at you faster and more furious this week with Starts/Sits for your fantasy team. Injuries will have to be watched closer, and moves made faster. My advice to you as they say in the movies is to “stick with me kid”. The Shark is here with his Week 2 advice. Read, enjoy, and good luck in week 2. P.S. I contacted Berry and RotoWorld via Twitter, and have gotten no response on my challenge, no surprise there, I’d be scared of me too! Let’s look at the picks for this week:

Quarterback

Start

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons: Don’t think he’s back? Thomas, Decker and the gang think he is after carving up the rough and tough Steelers defense, plus he gets to play this week in a dome, as he has for years. Also the loss of CB Grimes is huge for the Falcons defense. Manning and Ryan will have a big shootout here, so if you own Manning, you roll with him here.

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers: It’s easy to say Aaron Rodgers every week isn’t it? Cutler and his Bears have a huge chance on Thursday night to go up 2 games on the Pack if they can pull off this mild upset. The return of Brandon Marshall mixed with his trust in Earl Bennett has Cutler looking sharp and he could be looking at a great year. If you remember last week, Alex Smith and the 49ers had their way with this defense, so no reason not to trust Cutler for 2-3 TD’s and maybe as much as 300 yards.

Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks: Do you believe in paybacks? Karma? Second Chances? If you do then you have to believe in Romo this week. Seattle is after all the scene of the crime where Romo botched that snap on a 19 yard field goal attempt in 2007 that cost Dallas a playoff game. He comes back to town with a loaded group of weapons, and confidence. The Seahawks defense was pegged as a tough defense, but not much of that was there against a pour Arizona team last week. I like Dallas’ pass game much better than its run game, so go with Romo.

Sit

Blane Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars vs Houston Texans: Yep, even I can be wrong, and I trashed Gabbert often, but last week he had good numbers and hung tough in Minnesota. This week he is home which can prove even better, but he will face a much better defense and a better team. Jacksonville will be a better team soon enough, but nothing about this match up looks all that enticing. If you just added him, that’s a fine move, but use it at the proper time.

Mark Sanchez, New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers: Another guy that I bashed but yet had a huge week last week. However this is not the Bills defense and he is not at home. The Steelers got roughed up by Peyton Manning last week, and that happens, but no way does Sanchez come back with the same performance. Also on that Jets sideline will be Tim Tebow. Why does that matter? Last time the Steelers saw Tebow, he was knocking them out of the playoffs, once again, paybacks baby!

Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins: Serious? Yep! I know the Dolphins don’t have much, but neither does this Raiders offense. This team is only as good as Darren McFadden makes it, and with a bunch of “who’s” at WR and no solid TE’s the Raiders are in total disarray already. Their only TD last week came as time ran out, by an undrafted WR. Oakland used a lot of draft picks on Palmer, he needs to prove to be something and quick!

Running Back

Start

CJ Spiller, Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs: The injury to Fred Jackson opens the door for a guy who has the stuff to be a fantasy stud. 161 yards rushing last week and a TD, mixed in with being one of the best fantasy backs in the last 4 weeks of last season is a lot to get excited about. The Chiefs are banged up on defense as well. Spiller makes the Bills offense better, and it should show this week.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts: Every expert, fantasy owner, heck even his own coach had little faith in Peterson last week, but I am here to tell you, he is the real deal again. 2 big TD’s last week against the Jags and he was able to handle 17 carries. This week he will be indoors, and the Colts run defense is usually nothing special. Peterson is showing that the knee is not about to slow him down, and it should not be a concern for fantasy owners as long as he stays healthy in the weekly injury reports.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins: Not crazy about Oakland’s QB situation, but that has nothing to do with McFadden. He was plenty busy last week, and that should continue to be the case as long as he is healthy. The Dolphins gave up a pair of rushing TD’s last week, and if the Raiders are going to hang in this game DMC will have to front the load. Do it!

Sit

Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: It may have been the bad weather, or the start of something special as the Bucs defense was brilliant last week against Carolina, especially on the ground. DT Gerald McCoy is suddenly coming into his own and they look tough up front. Bradshaw had a nice week 1 against Dallas, but I feel the passing game will need to do more to get the Giants back on track. Bradshaw may be able to punch one in here, but I don’t expect him to be huge.

Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers: Another guy who had a big week last week, but I have a hard time trusting running backs against the 49ers. The defense in San Fran looked tough last week in Green Bay, and Detroit will have to use the air to come out in this one. I like Smith, and if he is healthy you go with him, with the right match up. This is not that match up!

The San Diego Chargers backfield vs. Tennessee Titans: I know they got ripped up by Stevan Ridley last week, but it is hard to know how to measure what can happen against the Patriots offense. The Chargers have 4 different guys carrying the load, and none look all that special. Until Ryan Matthews comes back and gets into the groove I advise you avoid this mess at all cost. Hey, here is an idea, try playing Chris Johnson, what too soon?

Wide Receiver

Start

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons vs. Denver Broncos: I like the new Broncos defense with Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter, but this week they will have their hands full. The Falcons have the weapons, and Jones is many people’s option to be the next great WR. What better way for him to really come out than on a Monday night? Roddy White still draws the attention, Gonzalez can still get it done, and they are creative in the backfield. It is hard to know who to focus on if you are a defense, so if you give this guy room, he can/will kill you! He had 2 TD’s last week and possibly 2 more this week.

Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills: The Bills secondary was toasted last week by a rookie WR and a “who is that guy” WR led by Mark Sanchez. This week a real big time WR comes to town in Dwayne Bowe, so the young Bills secondary may have its hands full. Matt Cassel is not a top fantasy QB, but even he can find an upside here. Bowe needs to prove his worth with a new contract looming next year.

Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts vs. Minnesota Vikings: New QB same Reggie Wayne it would seem. After a slow start he had a big week last week, and now Wayne and Indy face a Vikings defense who at home last week had a hard time with an average Jags pass offense. Luck will have some growing pains, but he has to get 2 TD’s here I would think, and Wayne is due for one, and some more big yards. Wayne remains a factor as a WR2 or an emergency flex option.

Sit

DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Baltimore Ravens: If you ask me, the Eagles most reliable WR is Jeremy Maclin, and there is a good chance he won’t play this Sunday. I know Jackson is explosive and can do lots of good things, but to have him as the one main guy against a quality defense and CB Webb does not look great on paper. The Ravens will throw everything at Michael Vick, so he will have a hard time making the plays. Jackson is hard to trust right now.

Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins at St Louis Rams: Alright, it’s hunch time. With Cortland Finnegan being the main CB in St. Louis I think Garcon will have his hands full, not to mention that the Rams for some reason usually play the Redskins tough. RG3 showed he has QB skills, but Garcon did get banged up so he may be slowed, and there is at least a bit of game film now for the Rams to watch. Also the Redskins showed they can run the ball, so and all out air attack may not be needed.

Kevin Ogletree, Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks: I can’t believe I have to write this, but after seeing how many people bought into that week 1 effort I feel it is my duty. This team does still have Miles Austin and Dez Bryant and Jason Witten as well as DeMarco Murray. Ogletree is a nice number 3 WR for the Cowboys, and Romo likes his 3’s, but this guy won’t have 2 TD, 100+ yard games often, so you should not be relying on him as a WR1 or even WR2 in your leagues. If he does it a few more times, well then paint me red!

Tight End

Start

Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers: Sound easy? Well it should. Graham may be the best TE in football and is also the busiest target in a very pass happy offense. The Panthers have good linebackers who may slow him down, but you can’t really keep Graham down.

Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers vs. Detroit Lions: Still the most talented of the bunch here in San Fran, and he made good things happen last week. The Lions defense is a little tougher than Green Bay’s but Davis is a guy to be dealt with.

Sit

Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Jets: The Jets have good play at linebacker so Miller is not a sure bet even though they like him in close.

Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns: He looked sluggish Monday night after missing most of the preseason. I would like to see him have a big game or 2 before I trust him.

Defenses I like:

New England Patriots vs. Arizona Cardinals

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Jets

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns

Defenses I don’t like:

Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons

Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills

Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts

Waiver Wire:

I have some nice pickups for you this week. Come and get them while they last!

Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers: Greg Jennings may be out this week, and Cobb returns kicks and also has improved as a receiver. Cobb could stand to get busier in a high power offense like this.

Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins: Shanahan likes the hot hand, and Morris was very hot last week. He is a talented back, not blessed with speed but has shifty moves, good hands and runs strong. As long as he stays healthy, it is his job to lose.

Stephen Hill, WR, New York Jets: I said it back in my NFL Draft Preview, Hill has the skills to be the best rookie in this class and can be a factor in the NFL. He has good size and speed, and he put up 2 TD’s last week. He has plenty of upside so grab him and dump that guy you are clinging to that you grabbed in the 15th round.

Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars: A guy who was always on the brink of big things, Lewis was active last week and looks like a good target for young QB Blaine Gabbert. For TE leagues only, but a nice pick up/

Nate Kaeding, K, San Diego Chargers: Last year’s broken leg on the opening kickoff made many forget, but I am here to tell you to get Kaeding. He had a good game this past week, and is still one of the more accurate kickers in football.

So we are ready for week 2. I hope that my success can continue and I can help you all make your team a little better!

I have now joined Twitter, so if you would like to ask any questions or need any advice feel free to reach out to my personal account, @JPshark71.

Thanks again all for reading and good luck in week 2.

Fantasy Football Almanac 2012: The Essential Fantasy Football Reference Guide

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Top 20 Fantasy Football 2012 Quarterback Rankings

August 27, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Drew Brees & Aaron RodgersWelcome back seekers of knowledge and those who are just totally freaking out about who to take when for your upcoming Fantasy draft. I have already brought you the Top 20 Running Backs for 2012, and now we look at a position that gets to be more and more important every year, the quarterback! Yes the NFL has become a pass-happy league, so it has become essential to get a top signal caller early on and not settle for a guy who can get you average numbers.

As I have always said, the league is always changing, and every few years something new comes into the mix. Where teams were using 3 running back systems and going all screen pass happy just a few years ago, now it is all downfield, and teams like the Falcons and 49ers amongst many, are piling up on big receivers, and the need to have a big arm is huge right now. So I am here to help you shed some light on who is your choice at QB. The difference between the guy or guys that will go in rounds 1-4 are more evident this year over the guys that will go after, so think hard and choose wisely. It’s clear to me that a top QB will hold more value than a number 2 RB this season.

With that being said, here is my top 20 players at QB this season. Read,learn and win!

20. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans: It appears that the Jake Locker era is ready to begin for the Titans, and why not? After a rookie season in which he played in 5 games, throwing 4 TDs and 0 INTs, coupled with a nice pre-season it would appear he has earned it. Yes, Locker has looked really good, but as always I hesitate because of the question marks at WR for the Titans. Nate Washington is a decent choice, Kenny Britt is always hurting, and the team will look to run more with star back Chris Johnson. However, 2 games against Indy and Jacksonville will look nice, so if you need a back-up on your bench, maybe think Jake.

19. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals: Big Red surprised many of us last year stepping in as a rookie, and helping the Bengals into the playoffs. His numbers were decent, 20 TDs and 13 INTs, so one would think this season he can improve on those numbers. His top target, A.J. Green looks to be emerging as one of the games top WRs, but an injury to TE Jermaine Gresham and the departure of Jerome Simpson means he will have to find new weapons. Dalton will be a nice filler for a week or 2, but a back-up on your fantasy squad at best for now.

18. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Who do we get? Freeman from 2010 would prove to be an excellent pick. However Freeman from 2011 could be a disaster. At 6 foot 6 inches tall, and with mobility I think the 2010 one is more like the Freeman we should see. The Bucs added some key players in free agency this year, including a big target in WR Vincent Jackson. With a good balance of run and pass Freeman can be solid again, maybe even solid enough to be a steal later on in the draft, but if you draft him, wait and see first.

17. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens: Here we are again with a decent QB who always has us wanting to think there is more. Yes he has been a consistent 3,600+ yard passer, but last season he threw for just 20 TDs, which was down from 25 in 2010. The Ravens have some decent WRs, but we have to face the fact that with Ray Rice there, it is a run first offense. This could be the last year I have Flacco in my top 20, but the Ravens win often and get to the playoffs with him, but that won’t help in fantasy ball.

16. Robert Griffin 3rd, Washington Redskins: Rookie QBs have taken a big leap forward, thanks mostly to Dalton and Cam Newton last year, so why not try Griffin as at least a fantasy back up? He has shown excellent ability to run the ball, much like Newton, and he does throw a good ball. He seems smart and ready for the pro game and can be a nice sleeper if the offensive line holds up. The Redskin offense is loaded with RBs and decent talent in pass catchers, so yes at 16 I will get risky and say try Griffin.

15. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: Much like on draft day in the NFL, draft day of fantasy should have the same results, with Luck going right ahead of RG3. Yes I realize we are watching pre-season games, but Luck looks cool and calm in the pocket and has his timing down nicely. Also waiting for him is some talent at WR in veteran Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie. Rookie TE Coby Fleener, who was Luck’s teammate in college also helps his progress in having a familiar face to throw to should be given a shot as a number 2 QB, he could just surprise us.

14. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans: Remember not too long ago that this was the guy leading the way for every experts Super Bowl sleeper pick? Well Schaub is back from the injury that made many of us forget about him, and he still has guys like Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels to work with, as well as an excellent pass catching RB in Arian Foster. Schaub plays the game smart and has become a good clutch QB. The Texans have sewn up the offensive line as well, so he can find glory again as long as he stays healthy. Remember, when healthy he has been a regular in the 4,000+ yard club and threw for 54 TDs in his last 2 full seasons.

13. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: It may not be the fancy pick for most fantasy owners given the fact that he plays reckless at times and can always be good for a tough injury or 2 each week, but how can you not like Roethlisberger in the Steelers new and improved high flying offense? With plenty of speed at WR in Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Mike Wallace, who is expected back in camp soon, he has lots of talent to play with, and a good enough defense to keep the ball in his hands. They do like to run a lot, but the Steelers bread and butter has become the deep pass play, and Ben is one of the best on the league at throwing that deep ball. He may not be the starter on a fantasy championship team, but he is worth having for sure.

12. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos: Fear, lots and lots of fear here. The name alone holds tons of credibility, like a high roller at any casino, even if he has not played in some time. Manning is still plenty smart, and still can throw the ball, but he has to learn a new system with a young group of WRs who still don’t seem “Manning-ready”. Yes Eric Decker is a solid choice, but the others need to learn quicker and we still have to see how long Manning can hold up from previous injury. I would never tell you not to draft Manning. I am however going to tell you not to do it too early. Buyer, beware!

11. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: The numbers rarely lie in fantasy, and usually they speak of the player’s ability perfectly. However, despite 27 TDs last season it seemed as if Rivers was not the guy who owners once leaned on for huge points. Well here we are in 2012, and Rivers will be looking at new options and sort of a fresh start. His running game has been depleted with an injury to star back Ryan Mathews and the departure of Mike Tolbert and he no longer has to play the waiting game on departed WR Vincent Jackson. What he has is a hungry Robert Meacham, Malcom Floyd, Antonio Gates and when he gets healthy, Vincent Brown. Rivers shows us he has game, but the turnovers need to stay down. He is a guy that gets owners the juice, but I don’t see him as a guy who should go earlier than round 5 this season.

10. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears: I understand this pick may give some of you chills, but this could very well be the year that Cutler finally shows us why he has been seen as a big time talent at QB. Before his injury last year he had the Bears rolling and seemingly on their way to the playoffs. After his injury the offense proved it was hopeless. The Bears went out this offseason and added his former teammate and stat pumper, WR Brandon Marshall as well as rookie Alshon Jeffery who has looked really good so far. The usual suspects return as well in his trustee college mate Earl Bennett, the fleet footed Johnny Knox and Devin Hester as well as 2 good pass catching backs in Matt Forte and Michael Bush. So you see, all the stars are lined up for Cutler to have a huge season, and I say the time is right to roll the dice. No, don’t reach in rounds 1-4, but keep a close eye on Cutler.

9. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles: No, being from Philadelphia does not mean I am totally in love with Vick. I realize when healthy he can be a monster using both his feet and his arm to post big numbers. However, that is just the problem he plays reckless and takes too many big hits to be trusted. Vick has missed at least 4 games in each of his last 3 seasons, and that’s tough to swallow in a top 10 QB. On the plus side, in 2010, in just 12 games, he accounted for 30 total TDs and over 3,700 yards of total offense. He is the ultimate high risk/high reward player, so taking him early is a gamble. If you take Vick within the first 4 rounds, use your fifth round pick on another solid QB.

8. Eli Manning, New York Giants: It gets tougher in the top 8 to decide who falls in where. If this was a Super Bowl contest, yes you take Manning, but in fantasy, as good as he can be you always have to keep an eye on who is in front. He has good weapons, and gets the TDs and yards, but tends to turn the ball over more than desired. Losing Mario Manningham won’t prove to be as devistating as many think as he still has Hakeem Nicks, last year’s surprise Victor Cruz and rookie Reuben Randle to work with. The key is the offensive line keeping him upright. Manning has finally become more important than brother Peyton, and he should be an early round consideration for your QB.

7. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: The run of NFC East QBs continues with Romo. Many fear taking this guy because he just has not been the big winner that Dallas has hoped. But friends this is fantasy football, and in his last 2 seasons when healthy he put up TD numbers of 26 and 31, while also going well over 4,000 yards. Now he has solid WR play and guys in the backfield that can catch, so his prospects are looking up. His offensive line is the main concern, but if they hold up, it is possible that Romo can be even better than last year. Heck, like I said I am a Philly guy, and even I think he is an excellent choice for fantasy. Roll with it!

6. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: Here is my dilemma, how do I put a guy that I feel may be the best all around athlete in football at 6? Stats baby, stats! The guys in the top 5 are really good, and Newton could be as good as any of those guys. The worry is that the Panthers have RBs who can/could all steal touches, and the WR corps are not loaded with Pro Bowl players outside of Steve Smith. Newton did post 35 total TDs last year, which is an excellent number, and can get huge rushing yards. This year defenses will be a little better prepared, so we have to see if Newton will fall to the sophomore jinx, or if he will become that much better. Many will take him in the first 2 rounds, and despite me having him at 6, I have no problem with that.

5. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints: One of the most trusted names at QB over the past few years is back for more action in New Orleans with a brand new contract. Now, can he overcome not having his head coach all year? How will he deal with the loss of Pro Bowl Guard Carl Nicks? Can Darren Sproles really have that good of a year again this season? Alright I can go on and on with questions, but we will just have to wait and see. Brees is a record breaker, a TD maker and a big time gamer at QB. I put him at 5 only out of concern for how he plays without Payton on the sidelines, and that he lost WR Robert Meacham, which means that if/when Marques Colston suffers one of his usual injuries, who will be there to pick up the slack? I still say you take him early, I just happen to like 4 guys more this season.

4. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: How can’t you love the guy who passes to Mega-Tron? Quite frankly, you can’t! Stafford stayed healthy last year, for the first time and for it went over 5,000 yards passing and also had 41 TDs. His top weapon, Calvin Johnson, is easily the best WR in the game, and now he has help in emerging youngsters Titus Young and TE Brandon Pettigrew. Many think the Lions will have to find a running game to help Stafford, but I think he has all that he needs to be huge in 2012. Round 2 pick anyone?

3. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: Do not adjust your screen, this is not a mistake! Folks, you will all thank me later on this one right here. I almost, but guess I couldn’t, put him second, but he can’t surpass a Hall Of Fame guy, at least not yet. Okay, time to get to business. Every season his numbers go up, and he progresses beautifully. Now he has one of the best group of skill players in the league in emerging stud Julio Jones, the always big Roddy White, future Hall Of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez and now even a backfield threat in Jacquizz Rodgers. Also some food for thought, he plays 8 games in a cushy dome, where he always has big days, and also plays in sunny Tampa, domed New Orleans, and Carolina, so it is rare that weather plays a factor. I have been on the Ryan train since camp started, and I have told everyone I know that this guy is going to have a monster year. Some drafts I got him in rounds 6-9, which is almost like finding a solid gold bar in the jewelry section at a dollar store. Put this name on your paper, and take it to the bank, Matty Ice!

2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots: Ho-hum, another year and more Tom Brady. I would think that with all his millions, his good looks, his gorgeous wife and his success that this would get boring for him. Not a chance, and for his efforts the team got him a new toy to play with in deep threat, and sticky hand WR Brandon Lloyd. Oh and did I mention all the guys who are still here? Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker, Deion Branch, heck its almost like he can call plays from the old school yard days “turn left at the Buick and I’ll hit ya”. Brady is a no-brainer fantasy stud, so if you get him, you’re set at QB.

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: Is it possible that this guy is the best QB in Packers history? Well maybe not yet, but Rodgers is the guy whose name comes off everyone’s lips when asked “so who do you think is the number 1 fantasy QB?” Not to mention he is a 2-time winner of my personal Sharky Awards as fantasy MVP. I know, you all want numbers, so here they are: 4,900 total yards of offense, 48 total TDs and just 6, yes only 6 INTs. He is beyond smart and beyond sharp on the field, and cool and calm off the field. You are a true contender with this guy leading your team, and after the big 3 RBs are off the board, many will have to consider Rodgers. 1st round pick worthy for sure!

Alright owners, here are your top signal callers. So you may have not seen a name you like, don’t worry, they will be around at the late stages of your draft. So if you are in love with Carson Palmer, grab him, I have no problem with that. However, check my rankings first, just because I say so! Next we will look at WRs, but until then, happy studying students!

Fantasy Football Almanac 2012: The Essential Fantasy Football Reference Guide

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NFL Jerseys on Amazon.com

Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft

Fantasy Football 2012 Sleepers: Quarterbacks

August 23, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Blaine GabbertIf there is one intangible that repeats every season in fantasy football it is value. Successful fantasy players are usually those who generally got the best value out of their draft picks. That is what makes sleepers so key, especially at what has become the most important position in the game.

Just a few years ago fantasy football was about the running back. The strategy was to take an RB with your first, second, and maybe even your third pick. Thanks to committees and a shift in the passing game, those honors have gone to the quarterback. In just a few years the quarterback has become the most important position in my opinion in fantasy football.

Having a great QB in your lineup can be the difference in the 10 or 15 points that win or lose your games. It doesn’t take a genius to sit here and recommend Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees but you aren’t going to get them unless you draft in the top 8. That is why the late sleeper pick at QB could be the most important position you pick in your draft.

I have done a couple of real and mock drafts and one thing I have noticed is that there are a lot of fantastic options at QB available late in the draft. These sleepers are high risk players that most fantasy players prefer to avoid. To me, they are investments. I am investing in either insurance in case my early QB pick gets hurt or a stud to trade later on to fill a weak spot. Regardless of the reasoning here are five sleeper QBs that you can get very late in your draft that may could wind up in your starting lineup before the end of the season.

Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars – I never thought I’d write a blog recommending Blaine Gabbert but I am starting to become convinced. Gabbert has looked damned efficient in his first two preseason games and while it is only preseason, he diced up the New Orleans Saints starters. Gabbert has a new offensive-minded head coach this season that did pretty well with the Atlanta Falcons offense over the last few seasons. With Maurice Jones-Drew holding out and a new system, it would appear that the Jags are morphing into a throwing team. They didn’t draft Justin Blackmon and sign Laurent Robinson to give a running back the ball 400 times. Keep in mind that the Jags have an underrated defense who will give the offense good field positioning over the season. I wouldn’t build my team around him but I’d certainly take a flyer on him in the later rounds. You don’t want to be late on that train!

Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders – I am all in on the former fantasy football stud. Palmer lit it up down the stretch last season and is entering the season with some of the most dynamic weapons in the NFL. This former early round pick has an ADP of 134.3 which means you can take your starters and several backups before you even need to worry about targeting him. For a guy that has the potential to wind up as a top-five (Yes I said top-five) fantasy QB this season, that is pretty damned good!

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens – Two words will sum up my expectations for Flacco, “contract year!” Flacco is playing in the final year of his deal and if there is one thing a fantasy player loves, it is a quarterback in a contract year. The buzz coming out of Baltimore is that the Ravens will step up the passing game and may even incorporate a two-tight end system similar to the New England Patriots. For as much crap as Flacco gets, he really wasn’t that bad last season. Unfortunately as great as he could be on some weeks, he’d throw you enough stinkers to level the playing field. I think he is more consistent this season with a full offseason to work with Torrey Smith. Smith is another guy I love a lot this season. He reminded me of Mike Wallace in his rookie season and we all know how well the Rothelisberger-Wallace combination improved over time. I expect Flacco to finish as a top-10 QB which makes him a bargain at his current ADP.

Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings – I am surprised at the little amount of hype that Ponder is getting coming into this fantasy season. Fantasy experts seem to be more focused on Adrian Peterson than noticing the sleeper behind center. He was certainly up and down at the end of the last season, but he also had some brilliant games in there. I think with Peterson getting older and coming back off of an injury, you will see more of an emphasis placed on the passing game in Minnesota. I will say this. This passing game revolves around Percy Harvin. If Harvin can stay on the field, Ponder has the potential to do big things. Unfortunately Harvin hasn’t been able to do that for a full season which makes Ponder more high risk high reward than a bullish sleeper like the others on this list.

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts – I believe in Luck! There is funny thing that happened this offseason. All of the pressure on the new rookie QB went to the third pick in the draft, leaving the first pick under the radar. Luck is also coming onto a team that has one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, a running back with the potential to break out, and his former tight end in college. I expect the Colts defense to play their consistent lousy defense this season which plays well for the Colts QB. This is a team that will be throwing a lot to come from behind and while Luck will make his mistakes, I would be shocked to see anything but double digits every week from him. I am big on Luck and the lack of hype has kept his ADP at a phenomenal value. I am all in on Andrew Luck this season to the point where I may even consider taking RBs and WRs through the early rounds and taking him as my first QB much later in one of my drafts.

Fantasy Football Almanac 2012: The Essential Fantasy Football Reference Guide

Madden 13 video game on all consoles

NFL Jerseys on Amazon.com

Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft

Fantasy Football 2012 Sleepers: The Comeback

August 21, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

reggie wayne fantasy footballThe 2012 fantasy football is full of former early-round busts. Yet many of these busts are poised for big comebacks. Here are just a few former fantasy boom to bust sleepers that have the potential to bring you back major value in your fantasy football season.

Everyone loves a good comeback right? The NFL is full of comeback players and these comeback players generally turn into fantasy football sleepers in the preseason. For one reason or another, these are players that are coming off of highly disappointing seasons. Tarnished as frauds, these players didn’t just lose their talent overnight. You need to look hard at their situation last season and evaluate all circumstances surrounding the poor production. That time spent analyzing last year’s busts could bring you the highest rewards this season.

I have done a few drafts and the ADP (Average Draft Position) according to ESPN.com of some of these players astounded me. These are players you can probably wait long and hard on, take later, and insert into your starting lineup in week 1. Here are just a few former studs that I feel are ready for a comeback in 2012 that you need to target in the mid-late rounds of your fantasy draft.

Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts – I can’t find anyone as bullish on Wayne as I am and I love it that way. Wayne was once the number-one rated receiver going into drafts. Unfortunately for those who kept him, his production drastically dropped off in recent years. Of course last year he was missing Peyton Manning and counting on Curtis Painter to help put up those numbers. This year he is playing with Andrew Luck and that is a mega upgrade over last season. I absolutely love the Luck-Wayne combo. The Colts defense is still a major issue and their running game is suspect. They are going to need to throw every week to stay in games. I expect major numbers from Luck and that can only mean great things for his number one receiver. Wayne’s ADP according to ESPN.com today is 103.2! That means you can have the number one target on a throwing team in the 9th or 10th round! He is a steal and I would not be surprised if he ended the season among the top 10 wide receivers in fantasy football.

DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles – Philadelphia Eagles fans like me know that DeSean Jackson can be a very frustrating player. After tearing through defenses in 2010 and giving NFL and fantasy fans some of the most memorable plays in NFL history, Jackson was an all out bust in 2011. Jackson has since revealed that he played it safe in 2011 while negotiating a contract. Jackson is now fully healthy and paid! I predict a huge bounce back for a guy who flew off draft boards the last few years. He is getting picked around the late fifth, early sixth round right now which makes him a phenomenal pick for your WR 3 and gives you great options at the position. He is an absolute must pick if he is still around for your sixth pick!

Peyton Hillis, Kansas City Chiefs – From waiver wire darling to fantasy bust, Peyton Hillis is back for another season! Fortunately for you things are different as Hillis is reunited with his old coach on a new team with a running offense. Hillis has looked like more than just a Jamaal Charles-handcuff this preseason, rushing for 52 yards on nine carries and a score. Hillis is taking over Thomas Jones’ role and Jones was given plenty of production over the last couple of seasons in Kansas City. Even better, Hillis’ new offensive coordinator is Brian Daboll who called plays on the sixth-most rushing attempted team of the season last year in Miami. At an ADP of 112, Hillis is a freaking steal at that spot of the draft! Hillis’ talent just didn’t go away in one season. Hillis will be back and he could be a phenomenal asset had for a bargain basement price in your fantasy draft.

Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders – I just recently had a heated exchange on Twitter with another fantasy player over the prospects of Palmer having a great season. After laying out my statistical evidence, the truth came out and this Palmer naysayer was just an old anti-USC fan. Palmer was a top-10 QB in passing attempts last season when he played and he was number one in pass plays over 25 yards. Anyone remember that Oakland-Detroit game? Palmer only got better as the season progressed and now has a full offseason under his belt in Oakland and will be playing with some of the most dynamic offensive weapons in football. I have taken him very late in two drafts, passing up on “sexy” sleeper options like Robert Griffin III and Ryan Fitzpatrick. This former early round pick has an ADP of 134.3 which means you can take your starters and several backups before you even need to worry about targeting him. For a guy that has the potential to wind up as a top-five (Yes I said top-five) fantasy QB this season, that is pretty damned good!

Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I’ll be honest, I am not nearly as bullish on Williams as I am most of this list. I also don’t even know if he necessarily meets the criteria to be here because nobody was taking Williams in the first-round last season, although he was taken in the second or third rounds. I don’t think Josh Freeman is that bad and that makes all of the difference in the world. Additionally, the team has added Vincent Jackson and Dallas Clark. Instead of defenses keying in on Williams as the number-one offensive threat, teams will be scheming for Jackson, Clark, and the running backs. That should give Williams some fantastic opportunities in the red zone. With an ADP of 139.5, he is an absolute must grab at that spot in your draft.

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers – I play in one league where Gates was not only a first-round pick for several years, he was a keeper! Not anymore. Everyone is talking about Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski while Gates is just quietly coming back to form this preseason in San Diego. Gates is thinner, healthier, and with Vincent Brown out, one of the few options left for Philip Rivers this season. Gates has already scored in the preseason and I think he does plenty more in the regular season. For me, I’d rather wait and grab Gates later than waste a first round pick on Graham or Gronk. At an ADP of 47.1 he is a bargain as compared to recent years. He probably shouldn’t be on this list because his ADP is still relatively high, but it is much lower than in recent years. Owen Daniels at 130.1 is another tight end sleeper to look out for if you miss out on Gates.

Cedric Benson, Green Bay Packers – Okay I am reaching here but I had to find a running back and Benson looks best to me to make a comeback. Benson has gone from boom to bust to boom to bust several times in his career and is coming off a nice, but relatively disappointing season in Cincinnati. I know that everyone is in love with James Starks but the Packers signed Benson for a reason. If the Packers were that enamored with Starks, Benson would be playing somewhere else. What most analysts are missing here is that the Packers offensive coordinator is gone, and chances are good that they will try and establish a running game. In December when you need a guy you can count on and the Packers are playing a cold, windy game at Lambeau Field, Benson could be the man that clinches your playoff spot. At an ADP of 107 and bigger question marks behind him, he is certainly worth the roll of the dice. I could easily see a situation where Benson winds up as a top-10 RB in touchdowns, used primarily as a goal-line back. I kind of think he’ll get a lot of opportunities for that with Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball.

Fantasy Football Almanac 2012: The Essential Fantasy Football Reference Guide

Madden 13 video game on all consoles

NFL Jerseys on Amazon.com

Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft

Top 20 NFL Fantasy Football Running Backs: Preseason Edition

August 14, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Arian Foster fantasy footballWelcome back friends and family and advice seekers, another season of Fantasy Football is upon us. The last hot days of August are where we are torn between trips to the shore and watching preseason games and doing football homework. We stop at the store not only just for milk and bread, but also for that magazine full of player stats and information that will help put us over the top this year. Last year is far behind, the past is the past, and it is redemption time!

I am proud to be back here again this season at CamelClutchBlog.com as a fantasy writer, bringing my savvy and smarts to all of our followers. I play this game like it is my life sometimes, and I have good results and some trophies and rewards to show for the hard work. It’s a thrill, a joy and an all-out way of living for me from August until January. I watch NFL drafts, preseason games, do several mock drafts and it’s never enough.

I will let you in on this secret though: No one can predict injury, demotion, fumbles etc., so remember we are all only as smart as the end result. I bring you my best possible predictions, but nothing is concrete. So go in with your mind wide open, and leave your heart at the door. Hometown love gets you very little, and hate for a division rival of your team does not help much either. Dog eat dog is the theme, and to be the man, you have to beat the man! In other words here is my first pre-draft piece, the Top 20 NFL Running Backs, Enjoy!

20. Roy Helu, Washington Redskins: In a busy backfield this guy is my favorite, and an excellent all-around back. Last season, in limited action he went over 1,000 total yards and caught 49 passes. A 4.2 yards per carry doesn’t hurt matters either. The knock from his coach is that he is not a great pass blocker, but we don’t get points for that here. He will go later in most drafts only because of his spot on the Redskin depth chart, but as a whole, he may be one of the best options to have. Having a rookie at QB can mean more passes as a safety valve, and Helu makes the most out of his touches. If you wait and miss him, you will be tortured by him, I promise!

19. Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants: In August of 2011 Bradshaw was one of the hottest names in the NFL after a terrific 2010 season. Then it all came crashing down. Injuries, a rebirth for Brandon Jacobs, and a loss for the holes had Bradshaw owners in tears. 2012 is here and he may be down on some peoples list but he still will be the main carrier here. If he can find his way back to 2010 when he rushed for over 1,200 yards and 47 receptions he will be a steal this late. Brandon Jacobs is gone and there is a rookie as his back up. It is clearly his job to lose, and worth the gamble here.

18. Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons: He may not be “The Burner” as much now, but every year Turner brings the heat. He has had back-to-back 1,300+ yard seasons, double-digit TD’s, and yes even finding himself more involved in the passing game each year. The fear is all the hype surrounding teammate Jacquizz Rodgers and how he will steal touches. Rodgers is a Darren Sproles-type player with speed and skills, but Turner is the veteran and the leader here. Yes, he comes in at number 18 here, but you would be lucky to get him this late if he can continue his regular production.

17. Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins: At one point early in his career he was the guy we loved to hate. Come on let’s face it, big money contract, dating Kim Kardashian, waving his finger at Brian Urlacher in the playoffs, who liked Reggie Bush outside of New Orleans? Now we fast forward: No longer lost in the shuffle in New Orleans, and now a bigger, stronger lead back in Miami, and it paid off for owners last year. Very few backs were as good as Bush near the end of the season, and over the last 4 games he averaged 130 rush yards, including over 200 in week 11, 8 catches and 2 TD’s. If Bush stays healthy he can easily do this again as Miami looks to rebuild its offense. He will need to earn touches, but if he does them like this, he will be just fine.

16. Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints: Who kicked themselves more in 2011? The San Diego Chargers or fantasy owners who passed on Sproles? Clearly a tie, am I right? Yes, he was a share-time player and was on the filed less than a lot of players, but he so paid off. Over 1,300 yards of offense, a whopping 86 catches, 6.9 yards per carry, and 9 TD’s are amazing numbers, so you can imagine how big he can be if he plays more! The Saints are probably well aware of what they have here, and despite having a lot of weapons to use, he will be the busiest again this year.

15. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys: Bursting on to the scene in 2011, Murray proved valuable when he was healthy. 5.5 yards per carry is nothing to sneeze at, and he also hauled in 26 catches, so we know he has the hands. The big drawback was his lack of TD’s. The fear is that Felix Jones is still in Dallas, and was a guy handpicked by owner Jerry Jones, also they have a lot of guys who deserve touches all over the field. I find Murray to be the most talented RB in Dallas, but we have to wait and see how that plays on the field. If you take Murray, you may also have to try and grab Jones.

14. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers: His name is never the sexiest pick, and you rarely hear owners moaning and groaning when someone slaps Gore’s name up on the draft board. Truth be told though, Gore can handle his own, as in 2011 when he gained over 1,200 rush yards, and scored 8 TD’s. People question his health, yet he played all 16 games last season. The one problem, his catches went down drastically to just 17 in 2011. The 49ers loaded up with WR’s this off-season, but that could make things more open on the ground for Gore. You can’t beat the possible outlook at getting him in the 4th round based on history, can you?

13. Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns: As long as his knee is healthy, he will be the load-carrying back for the Browns. It seems like Cleveland is doing all they can to make him comfortable too, as they put the second best back, Chris Ogbonnaya, at number 4 on the depth chart. Richardson can follow up from what Ogbonnaya did last year, 4.6 yards per carry and 23 catches in limited play, which a guy like Richardson should be able to top. Yes, the usual fears apply: He is a rookie, he comes in banged up, has a rookie QB, and is a Brown. However if you remember, when Peyton Hillis had his huge break out year he was also a Brown, also dealing with a young QB and had a history of being banged up. Someone will take him early, now what can he do?

12. Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams: What is it that owners dislike about Jackson? Why would they dislike his multiple 1,000+ yard seasons? His 40+ catches every year? Perhaps it is his improved 4.4 yards per carry in 2011? Every year Jackson gets less and less respect, but he always finds his way to get good numbers. More TD’s would be nice, and as the Rams offense improves, so should Jackson’s already good numbers. He is the king of the second-tier backs, but we all need them too don’t we? For a fantasy team that will pile up WR’s early, he is a prime top back.

11. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs: K.C. seems to do all it can to make us afraid of this guy. The Thomas Jones thing, the 3 back committee, and now Peyton Hillis is in the fold. Charles of course needs to prove he is back from his 2011 knee injury, and if he can you can’t bet against his numbers. 6 yards per carry, 8 TD’s per season, and a career high 1,467 rushing yards in 2010 are awesome stats. They like to imply a hammer and nails type running attack in K.C. The big back hammers the defense then the speed back nails it shut. Charles is that ultimate speed back and has great hands. If he is healthy he can easily return to Top 5 status!

10. Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers: Before his clavicle snapped, Mathews was considered a Top 5 pick by any draft “expert” you would ask. The Chargers ditched Mike Tolbert, and added some veterans to fill that spot, but none are a big threat to Mathews. Head coach Norv Turner said he will touch the ball even more than last year, when he rushed for close to 1,100 yards at 4.9 per carry and caught 50 passes. He will heal and is expected back close to the beginning of the year, so while you can no longer take him in round 1, he will be gone by round 3 by a patient owner with a good bench. Be that owner!

9. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks: Raise your hand if you had “Skittles” as a top 10 back last year. Okay liars, but your hands down and listen up. Lynch found his game again last year with over 1,200 yards rushing, 12 TD’s, 28 receptions and at 4.2 yards per carry average. He showed big play skills, power running, and a team attitude that made him a model player for the Seahawks. Now he has to clean up his act off the field so he can be fully trusted. He is probably the only certain thing going into this season for Seattle, and if he can follow 2011’s performance up, will be a Top 5 player!

8. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings: The nickname “All Day” has become more and more fitting for Peterson, because all day, every day I wonder about him and his value. Yes, the man runs like a bull, and has done little to make us believe he is not an excellent back. Now though in 2012 he needs to come back from a big injury, a rumored police incident, and a bad offense. I would be lying if I said I don’t trust him, come on the guy had 12 TD’s last year despite missing time, but also got less catches. Peterson is an enigma, and he needs to be solved. However if he solves himself like usual, he will post numbers that can lead a team a long way, um a fantasy team that is!

7. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders: The make or break season for McFadden is here, and at just 25 years old. You can’t argue his talent, 5.4 yards per carry, 3 catches per game and 5 TD’s in just 7 games last year, but it is his injuries that make owners suffer. Last season he missed 9 games, 3 the year before, and 2 the year before that. His main backup, Michael Bush is now in Chicago, which means more action for “Run DMC”, and if he can prove he can carry that load he may be the best fantasy back in the league. However another DMC year injury wise like last year, and people will quit on him quickly. I for one love this guy, but even the best of love comes with the highest of caution.

6. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars: Production of the highest caliper is what you get from MJD. 1,600 yards last year, 11 TD’s and 4.7 yards per carry in 2011 is just another year in the life for Drew, but he has issues this year that scare some. He did not get his new contract he wanted, and contracts hurt players ( see Chris Johnson ), and has a young and uncertain QB to deal with this year. It is easy to love MJD, his power running style, his great hands and his nose for the end zone, but it is also easy to fall into the trap of fear that is the Jags mess. You still can’t pass him up in the late first round or early second, and why should you?

5. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears: I chuckle at everyone who knocks him. I chuckle at the Bears for trying to take touches from him, and I will laugh at owners who pass him by at the appropriate time. Before his injury last year, Forte was piling up the fantasy points with his usual style of catches and yards, 4.9 per carry to be exact. And as always, expect over 50 catches. He is an open-field nightmare for defenses, and makes the most out of his plays. Yeah, we all know Michael Bush can play, and may hurt his TD’s, but heck he has never been a huge TD guy and still gets the digits. Some players play better with something to prove, Forte did it last year when wanting a contract, and will give it his best this season to prove that he belongs well ahead of Bush. I for one like Forte.

4. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans: On a hunch, I am getting myself back in the CJ2K business. In 2009, Johnson was being dubbed “The next L.T.” and was seen by many as the best player in the NFL. A contract holdout, new QB’s, and a lack of training camps and dedication led to a tough last few years for Johnson. The fact is he can still run like the wind, he catches 50+ balls every year, and despite his slow start in 2011, still found his way over 1,000 yards. Taking him this early is a risk, no doubt, but I love the way he plays, and he is back to his comfort zone. The Titans are the prime example of the run setting up the pass, so they will need him, they will trust him, and he very well should produce. He has proven he can go over 2,000 rush yards, not many backs can say that, and now lots of owners want to say that again.

3. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles: Much like the man he replaced, Brian Westbrook, McCoy snuck up on the fantasy world and has become a superstar. 20 total TD’s last year along with over 1,300 rushing yards at a 4.8 per carry clip are excellent stats, now imagine if he goes back to the guy who caught 78 passes in 2010 over the 48 in 2011. McCoy is high on everyone’s charts, and he should be, as the Eagles will need to run the ball to help protect QB Mike Vick. The scary thing is, McCoy can only get better, and this season he may be the best. Take that chance, even possibly as early as first overall.

2. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens: His off year of 2010 was a distant memory in 2011 when Rice hammered defenses for over 2,000 total yards, also catching 76 passes and scoring 12 TD’s. The Ravens rewarded him with a new contract and the assurance that he is the leader of that offense. Where he differs from McCoy is that around the goal line he is the main choice, and does not have a running QB that may look to create more. Rice runs with the power of a big back, the speed of a fleet back and the smarts of a hall of fame back. If not for the talent of the only guy ahead of him, Rice would be number 1, and in some people’s eyes, he is!

1. Arian Foster, Houston Texans: Numbers, they rarely lie. Over 3,000 rushing yards, 30 TD’s and 119 catches over the last 2 years by a guy who was an undrafted free agent has to sell everyone on the fact that Foster is the fantasy leader at RB. Yes, he missed a few games last year, and shared carries with Ben Tate, but yet still was a top 5 producer, and helped Houston become a serious contender in the league. He now has his starting QB back, a good offensive line, and the out and out will to be a winner. He is number 1, maybe not as clear as last year, but this guy is still number 1. This is our new L.T., so use it as a measuring stick, get that top pick, and make it Foster.

So here are my top fantasy football RB’s going into 2012. There are many familiar names, but all the guys who should be counted on to put up the numbers. We will look at QB’s and WR’s coming up in the near future, until then sit down and do your homework!

If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected]

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The NFL & The City Of Angels: The Battle For Los Angeles

July 03, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Roger GoodellAppropriately, the city with the recycled-plastic conveyor belt that pumps out our movies and television shows would be the second largest television market in America. With 5.7 million households wired for everything from local news to late-night “As Seen on TV” infomercial murk, Los Angeles, California accounts for five percent of America’s home media spectatorship.

Only New York has a larger piece of the ‘idiot box’ pie (6.5%); only seven other metro areas can claim more than two percent each (Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, California’s Bay Area, Boston, Atlanta, and Washington, DC).

Those nine cities are represented by ten different NFL franchises, and yet one city listed has no team to call their own.

By now, you’ve heard that particular song, as well as its hook-wielding chorus. Since 1995, when Los Angeles lost both its NFL franchises, the Raiders and the Rams, many have wondered when La-La Land would be gifted with another 53 man squad. After all, for America’s Game to be blacked out in America’s number two city is akin to the NHL abandoning all of its Canadian franchises.

Wait, that might become a reality under Gary Bettman. Alright, bad example.

On Friday, Commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a memo to all thirty-two NFL teams that reads like a cautiously optimistic travel brochure. In light of the prospects of stadium development being “better than they have been in many years” in Los Angeles, Goodell offers a timetable and checklist of guidelines to owners who wish to follow Horace Greeley’s sage urging of “go west, young man.”

One guideline entails filing an application to move by mid-February 2013. Not hidden in that bullet point is the implication that a club who meets that criteria could begin the 2013 season as the Los Angeles ________ (Chargers? Raiders? Jaguars?)

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk claims that the San Diego Chargers are the only real candidate that can pull off the move to Los Angeles for the 2013 season, due to stadium and ownership circumstances surrounding other likely suitors. San Diego can opt out of their stadium deal with Qualcomm within the same time frame that they would have to apply for use of Goodell’s U-HAUL trucks (or Mayflower Transit trucks, for you hard-bitten Colts fans). That is, assuming they want to play in LA in 2013.

It’s just incredible how badly Goodell wants to bring football back to Hollywood and Vine, when his predecessor allowed Los Angeles’ two franchises to exit stage left.

Despite making the playoffs eight times in the 1980s, the Los Angeles Rams had become in the early 1990s what the Jacksonville Jaguars are today: a team that couldn’t sell out home games. From 1990 to 1994, the Rams never posted a record better than 6-10. They finished dead last in the NFC West in four of those five seasons.

Owner Georgia Frontiere watched her franchise, inherited from late husband Carroll Rosenbloom, tailspin into blackout hell. Home games were played at Anaheim Stadium, which could hold 69,000 strong. Limping into the 1990’s, attendance had dropped to an average of 45,000, well below the necessary threshold for local TV airing. The blackouts offered little encouragement to a dwindling fanbase.

After the 1994 season, when Frontiere couldn’t convince anyone that building a new stadium was the keystone to turning it all around, she made the decision to move the Rams. After a failed attempt to relocate to Baltimore (pre-Ravens, remember), “Madame Ram” decided on her hometown of St. Louis, which had been spurned by the Cardinals, who left for Phoenix after 1987.

The other owners opposed Frontiere’s eastward jaunt. As the Bidwills and the Maras and the Cookes of the football world blamed Frontiere for the financial woes of her team, she went ahead and threatened legal action. Then-Commissioner Paul Tagliabue relented, and allowed the move.

What Roger Goodell would do for a DeLorean right now.

Nearly fifty years of history and tradition in Los Angeles were wiped out after mismanagement, increasing fan apathy, and forceful acts from a divisive owner.

And speaking of divisive owners, this leads us to Act Two.

For a thirteen year run, NFL’s poster boys of anti-heroism were uprooted from Oakland and had their roots firmly planted in the Los Angeles Coliseum. In the early 1980s, Raiders owner Al Davis was unable to get the renovations he wanted for the Oakland Coliseum, leading to him to sign a memorandum that would move the club. After the other owners voted nearly unanimously to block it, Davis and the LA Coliseum filed an antitrust lawsuit.

In May 1982, a jury sided with Davis, and the Raiders moved 370 miles southeast to Los Angeles.

In their crowning moment in Los Angeles, the Raiders won the Super Bowl handily in the 1983 season over the Redskins. That would be their last taste of glory (for Oakland as well; the Raiders haven’t won it since), before tapering off by the end of the decade. By 1988, with the team now perennially .500-or-worse, there were rumors then that Davis would bolt back to Oakland.

Selling out the 90,000+ seat Coliseum was too daunting a task.

Even as the Raiders made playoff runs in the early 1990s under coach Art Shell, the Los Angeles honeymoon was declared over. Davis announced in March 1991 that the team would be headed home. This announcement came on the heels of two years of negotiations between Davis and Oakland.

In June 1995, more than six years after the first step toward going home, Davis signed the letter of intent to bring the Raiders back to Oakland, which the NFL all too happily signed off on. Less than three months later, the Raiders defeated the Chargers at the old Oakland Coliseum on opening day.

Since then, Los Angeles has been a ghost town to NFL football, with rumors surrounding every low-attendance team concerning a football Manifest Destiny. Except now the NFL is handing out a detailed blueprint on how to populate the City of Angels with excited fans in team colors.

After the ignominious exits of the last two Los Angeles teams, let’s hope whoever winds up in TV land can actually get their games on television.

Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose work appears on many websites. He provides wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture columns for CamelClutchBlog.com, as well as several wrestling columns a week for Wrestlechat.net and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.

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Not-So-Top 10 Worst Super Bowl Games

February 02, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Super Bowl XXYou prepped so very hard. You got your party favors, your wings, pizza, beer, snacks and on and on. The hours of preparation and hard work seem to be just the beginning of a fun-filled football evening, full of excitement and cheer, big plays and the 2 best teams letting it all hang out. Sadly, it turns into card games, girl talk and soggy left overs sometimes, when one of these 2 great teams kind of leaves the “A-Game” at home, and we are stuck watching a dud.

Sure, over the last few years we have had some excellent games, and as we look ahead to this year’s Super Bowl XLVI match-up between the AFC’s New England Patriots and the NFC’s New York Giants, chances are we will see another good one. We also have to be ready for the fact that all that glitters is not always gold.

So what I am bringing to you here is a list of the Top 10 worst outings in NFL Super Bowl history. 10 clunkers where a team just was happy to be there and not really gave the fans a quality performance. It has to stick in the heads of the players for years to know they got on the grandest stage and just fell totally flat. Sure, I have never played pro ball, but I know enough to be aware of a clunker! So, with all that in mind, my “Not-So-Top 10″ worst Super Bowl moments:

10. Super Bowl XLI: Indianapolis Colts 29 vs. Chicago Bears 17

The game started off with a bang. Kick return super stud Devin Hester made Super Bowl history by returning the opening kick-off for a touchdown for the first time in Super Bowl history while head coach Lovie Smith was running down the sidelines in jubilation. The rest, well not so pretty for the Bears.

In a game that featured 2 African-American coaches for the first time in NFL history, the world watched as the 2 teams combined for 8 turnovers, watched the Bears have the ball for just 21 minutes to the Colts 39, and the Bears muster just 265 yards of total offense. What made it worse for those who went to the game were moments of heavy rain and the first-ever tailgating ban by the NFL. Fans were not allowed to consume alcohol in the stadiums parking lot pre-game and no non-ticket holders were allowed anywhere near the stadium for pre-game activities.

In summary not an awful game, but with the combination of all that played out this is a worthy of a top 10 spot here.

9. Super Bowl XXIX: San Francisco 49ers 49 vs. San Diego Chargers 26

The Niners came into this game as the 2nd highest favorite in Super Bowl history at 18 points, yes that’s right, 18 points!

Steve Young, who tied a Super Bowl record with 6 TD passes and opened it up quick with a 44 yard TD pass to Jerry Rice, followed quickly by a 51 yarder to Ricky Watters. Yes, San Diego answered back to cut it to 14-7, but the Niners pretty much had control the whole time taking leads of 28-7 and as high as 42-10.

The Chargers were not expected to bring much to the game yet some expected a little more out of the AFC reps in this one. The Niners domination of the NFL was quite evident here, but it still was one of the most viewed Bowls in history.

In summary the Chargers gave as much of a performance as expected, which was not a whole lot by 49ers standards.

8. Super Bowl XXXVII: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48 vs. Oakland Raiders 21

Jon Gruden’s old team from Oakland came in as a 4 point favorite against Gruden’s new team from Tampa. What was labeled as “The Gruden Bowl” turned into a very lopsided mismatch.

For the first time in Super Bowl history the number 1 offense in the league went head to head with the number 1 defense in the league and well as the phrase goes, defense wins championships. Raiders QB Rich Gannon threw 5 interceptions, 3 of which went for TDs and 2 of them to Dwight Smith. The Raiders could get very little going against the Bucs which included just 10 yards rushing on 7 carries from RB Charlie Garner. Every time it appeared the Raiders would make some kind of run the Buc defense came up big.

As for the crowd, it was the 3rd lowest in Super Bowl history as maybe the fans expected what we had saw in the end. The Raiders were listless and seemed totally over-matched, especially for a team that finished 11-5. The speculation raged on as to how Gruden knew their every move and how to sniff out every formation, but hey you can’t blame the guy for using what he had to win it all.

In summary, the Raiders really have yet to recover from this game and are still struggling to get back to the playoffs or get another winning season. The curse of the “traded” coach Gruden lives on.

7. Super Bowl XIX: San Francisco 38 vs. Miami Dolphins 16

This Bowl, which was heavily hyped as the battle of footballs 2 best QB’s turned into a very one-sided affair which lacked in many elements. The game started off with the first ever Presidential coin toss by California native Ronald Reagan yet sadly done via satellite at the White House. Even Ronnie knew better than to waste his time on a plane ride to this one.

While 49ers QB Joe Montana was living up to his end of the hype with 3 TD passes with 1 rushing DT counterpart Dan Marino had little to brag about. The Niners defense sacked him 4 times, picked him off twice and only allowed just 1 TD pass. As a team the Dolphins rushed for just 25 yards and had a game total of 315 which was  a far cry from the 537 the Niners racked up. Make no mistake, this 49ers team may have been the 49ers all-time best coming in with a record of 17-1. Despite trailing one point 10-7 it was only a matter of time before San Fran would run off 21 unanswered. One high note: the heavy TV exposure of star Teri Hatcher, who at the time was a 49ers cheerleader.

In summary, Montana proved to be more of a big game QB then Marino, who would never make it back to a Super Bowl after this loss.

6. Super Bowl XVIII: Los Angeles Raiders 38 vs. Washington Redskins 9

The mighty Redskins who entered the game wait a 16-2 record and also came in as 3 point favorites. They were a team that many thought were a true football dynasty…well until this game.

Marcus Allen and the Raiders offense pounded the NFL’s top ranked run defense. The Raiders scored 2 TD’s and Allen finished with 191 yards himself. In a game still known as “Black Sunday”, the black jersey of the Raiders rough and tough defense scored TD’s on a blocked punt and an interception run back against a very out of sync Skins team. The Raiders held Washington to 283 total yards of offense, and making this one of the more unexpected blow outs in Super Bowl history.

In summary, the Skins did have some good Super Bowl success in but for quite a while this lasted as the most one-sided blowout in Super Bowl history. That record has since been smashed.

5. Super Bowl XXII: Washington Redskins 42 vs. Denver Broncos 10

This game quickly seemed like one you would turn off  but not by the team we thought would rout in the end.

The Broncos raced out to a 10-0 lead behind QB John Elway and seemed as if they were going to put this game away early, in addition to  playing tough defense. The next thing to happen turned into Super Bowl history. The Redskins ran off 35 unanswered points in the second quarter, setting records for most points in a half or a quarter by scoring the  most TD’s in a quarter by a QB. Doug Williams was the man here, also the first African-American QB to win the Super Bowl. The Redskins shattered many records on their way to the destruction of Denver.

In summary, we see the Broncos had the ability to really lay flat in Super Bowls. As great of a legacy as John Elway had this was a real clunker. Elway was sacked 5 times and picked off 3.

4. Super Bowl XVII: Dallas Cowboys 52 vs. Buffalo Bills 17

If no one ever remembers who finishes second, then the Buffalo Bills must have been one of the most forgotten teams ever in this era. After 2 straight Super Bowl losses, the Bills gave it their all ( or more like nothing ) against the resurgence of America’s Team.

The Bills let it float away behind an effort of 9 turnovers, a Super Bowl record. They did somehow manage to get as close to 31-17, but the score was not indicative of the blowout. This game that seemingly had lots to offer including an awesome 98,712 person attendance, a halftime show featuring Michael Jackson, and America’s team. The Bills just looked beat for the third of 4 tries to be exact and were never able to shake off the previous losses. Troy Aikman passed for 4 TD’s in the first of the Cowboys 2 blow outs of the Bills.

In summary, the Bills never had the NFC’s number in the Super Bowl and as good as the likes of Jim Kelly, Andre Reed and Thurman Thomas were, they just did not have the fire power Dallas, Washington or the New York Giants had. Four straight Super Bowl losses is a long standing record for the Buffalo Bills that will probably never be broken.

3. Super Bowl XXXV: Baltimore Ravens 34 vs. New York Giants 7

Even though the Ravens came in as a Wild Card team, the defense managed to get red-hot at the exact right time in the ultimate example of “defense wins championships” and thumping the New York Giants.

In a Super Bowl that may have been the worst outing by two offenses in history, it was the Ravens defense that forced the tempo with 5 turnovers including 4 interceptions of QB Kerry Collins, who was just 15-39 passing. As a team the Giants only posted 152 total yards of offense as opposed to the Ravens 244 yards. The Ravens used defensive and special teams scores to pull away here.

In summary, one of if not the poorest played Super Bowl games in history. Some of these guys are still in the league and the Ravens continue to play good, hard-nosed defense.

2. Super Bowl XX: Chicago Bears 46 vs. New England Patriots 10

Not that many had any faith in what the Patriots could do yet it was worse than any could have imagined.

When one team comes to the big game with a 17-1 record, and a top 40 billboard hit with a song known as “The Super Bowl Shuffle” chances are they are really good, and in this case a little too good. The Patriots were a surprise opponent, starting the season 2-3, flip flopping quarterbacks without the a star-studded roster. The Bears, and the ferocious 46 defense set a Super Bowl record with 7 sacks, allowed just 7 yards rushing, and held the Patriots to just 123 yards the entire game which is second lowest in SB history. The Bears even used William Perry, the well-known defensive tackle for rushing TD’s and pass attempts, showing they had zero fear of who was in front of them.

Sadly some of the Bears swagger took some of the class out of the winning. In the days leading up to the game, we of course had the ego-laden “Shuffle” but we also had Bears QB Jim McMahon calling New Orleans women “sluts”, and of course his head band scandals refusing to respect the NFL’s uniform policy. None of that seemed to really matter or slow this team down all season.

In summary, it was a game I clearly remember being over quickly, despite the Pats jumping out to a 3-0 lead. My clearest memory? My friends and I breaking into a game of indoor volleyball at half-time, after the Pats -19 yards.

1. Super Bowl XXIV: San Francisco 49ers 55 vs. Denver Broncos 10

This was not what the league had in mind when Super Bowls were invented, clearly.

This one, by far was the most lopsided game in the history of the Super Bowl. While the 49ers put on one of the very vest performances led by Joe Montana and his 5 TD passes and 279 pass yards and 3 TD catches by Jerry Rice, the Broncos could only muster a total of 167 yards of total offense and just one TD. The Broncos would drop their third attempt at a Super Bowl victory, and it marked the second time they were beaten so badly. The 49ers 55 points and 45 point margin of victory are still Bowl records.

Not a lot of surprise being that the 49ers came in as 12 point favorites, and in anticipation of such a mismatch this game earned the lowest TV ratings since 1969. The Niners put up 300 more total yards of offense, and this game never even had a sniff of being close. For the 49ers it was a second straight Bowl win, and the first by a rookie coach, George Seifert, who took over for retired coach Bill Walsh.

In summary, it was what the 49ers did to opponents back then. Although many think the Steelers teams of the 70’s may have been better, the Niners left everyone in their path and steamrolled all the way up to this Super Bowl.

I certainly hope that this year brings good plays, excitement and action. I fail to see how these two teams, with such similar styles and quality athletes could give anything less. Then again even legends like Elway and Marino can have bad days, as we saw here.

For the Super Bowl remains as heavenly to men as a wedding day to women, we hope not for divorce due to such poorly matched “couples”. Happy Super Bowl Day everyone!

If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected].

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2011 Fantasy Football All Waiver Wire Team

December 19, 2011 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

The 2011 fantasy football season may go down as one of the least predictable years ever. Looking back at this crazy year, most fantasy drafts ended up being busts.

The so called fantasy football experts got most of it wrong missing out on guys like Cam Newton and over valuing players like Felix Jones. Interestingly enough you had a better chance building your championship team this year through the waiver wire than the draft.

Playing the fantasy football waiver wire is a tricky game. It requires patience, foresight, and the ability to look at a player’s situation objectively. Remember, any starting quarterback or running back can look like a monster for one week in the right situation. Having the ability to see through that and find that diamond in the ruff that will shine for an entire season is a talent all in itself.

The season may not be over yet but I think we are far enough along to start analyzing studs and duds. I went back and looked at all of the guys that fell through the draft and onto the waiver wire and the amount of talent available on the wire this season was stunning. If you picked up any of these players chances are you are either in the playoffs or were a contender. While leagues vary in size of 6-16, I based this roster on a 10 team league. Without further a due I give you the 2011 All Waiver Wire Fantasy Football Team.

Quarterback

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers - May I present your 2011 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire MVP! This was a an easy choice as far as I am concerned. Newton wasn’t drafted in any of my 10-team leagues after a horrendous preseason. Even after he threw up over 400 yards and went into high double digits in his opener against the Arizona Cardinals, he still remained unclaimed. Fantasy experts called him a fluke but if you were savvy like me you picked him up simply for the possible upside. He is number two overall in standard scoring leagues only behind Aaron Rodgers (ahead of Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Michael Vick) and he was yours for the taking on the waiver wire. If you waited to take a QB late and drafted heavy on RB and WR early, you are probably rolling if you grabbed Newton off waivers.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals - If you can find me the guy that predicted Dalton would come in to a Bengals team as a rookie without the usual Cincinnati supporting cast and put up the numbers he has produced, I would crown that analyst a genius. Nobody could foresee the chemistry between Dalton and AJ Green, who have the potential to become one of the most explosive QB-WR combinations in the NFL. Dalton wasn’t drafted in any of my leagues and if you needed a QB, he was a great fix. In standard scoring leagues he is ahead of Joe Flacco, Matt Hasselbeck, Josh Freeman, and Jay Cutler, all guys that were predicted to have better years than Dalton. He certainly isn’t the difference maker that Newton was, but you weren’t going to find much better on the wire.

Running Back

Michael Bush, Oakland Raiders - While nobody at the position came off the wire with the same kind of impact that Peyton Hillis had last year, Michael Bush came pretty darn close. Once Run DMC went down, Bush emerged as one of the elite running backs in the fantasy. He has teetered off a bit in recent weeks, but he still remains the best value of any RB in fantasy football considering the fact that you probably got him on the draft. If you were a cautious Darren McFadden owner, you already had him on your bench. However in two of three leagues I am in he was out there for the taking and became a big difference maker for his new owners.

Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints - I went back and forth between Sproles and DeMarco Murray but overall, Sproles has had a much better season. In two of three leagues he was on the waiver wire as nobody expected him to come into New Orleans and become Drew Brees’ favorite running back ahead of Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram. His ability to catch out of the backfield and make plays happen in space have resulted in some huge games for the new Saint in standard scoring leagues and some monster weeks in PPR.

Wide Receiver

Victor Cruz, New York Giants - Going into the season it was Hakeem Nicks that was the favorite among most fantasy experts, ranked number four overall in ESPN’s preseason rankings. Yet thanks to injuries and opportunity, it was Cruz that emerged as Eli Manning’s go-to guy in New York. In my standard scoring league he is currently fourth overall, ahead of everyone in ESPN’s top 10 preseason rankings other than Calvin Johnson. The guy has been a monster and if you have him, you grabbed him off the wire. Rarely does a wide receiver with that much impact wind up on the waiver wire, but this year Cruz did.

Laurent Robinson, Dallas Cowboys - This was a tough one as I bounced back between Antonio Brown, Robinson, and Jordy Nelson. In the end it appears Nelson was not nearly as available as these guys on the wire and Brown has not had as many huge games as Robinson has. Robinson has quickly turned into the go-to guy in a high powered offense. Right now Robinson is in the top 15 in my standard scoring league overall and would likely be higher if he got his opportunities earlier in the season. Since Week 8 Robinson has had at least one touchdown every week but one. He has become an every week starter for me in three of my leagues and has saved a lot of seasons for struggling owners at the WR position.

Tight End

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots - Quite frankly, I bounced back and forth between Gronkowski and Newton for the overall MVP. Gronkowski has not only emerged as the best fantasy tight end in the game, he has more points than any wide receiver in the NFL in standard scoring leagues. Think about that one for a second. This guy has outscored Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Wes Welker, etc and he is a tight end! To get that kind of production at your tight end position is just insane. I was lucky to get him in one of my leagues and I am reaping the benefits in the playoffs. As a matter of a fact, every Gronkowski owner is in the playoffs in all of my leagues. Hopefully you are too if you were lucky enough to grab him.

Fred Davis, Washington Redskins - Davis was on pace to have a top five fantasy season at tight end until he was suspended for the remainder of the year. Davis wasn’t giving anyone Gronkowski numbers, but he was a fantastic pickup at one of the most inconsistent positions in all of fantasy sports. He is currently tied for fifth overall among TEs with Antonio Gates in standard scoring leagues (number four before he was suspended). ESPN had him at #24 coming into the season, while Yahoo Sports didn’t even have him in the top 25. Savvy players did see the potential last season, yet even they weren’t gutsy enough to draft him.

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NFL Week 14 Thoughts – Inside The Wheelhouse

December 13, 2011 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Todd Haley firedLet’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 14 in the National Football League!

– The win may have not looked pretty against a below average team in Cleveland but a win is a win and the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to roll as we are now three weeks away from the playoffs beginning. It hasn’t looked pretty in the process nor dominating but the Steelers have now rolled off 8 wins in their last 9 games making them the hottest team in the NFL sans the Green Bay Packers. This team looks to taking a slight edge as a potential AFC favorite as we get closer to the playoffs.

– Whether or not Peyton Hillis returns to the Cleveland Browns won’t be their biggest off-season storyline yet whether or not Colt McCoy is their starting quarterback will be. I believe he is but he needs more weapons because the Cleveland offense isn’t putting him in the best of lights right now. Decent quarterback, ton of potential, just needs to tap into it.

- Okay two things here: who would’ve thought that the Houston Texans would have won the AFC South this season and done it all thanks to current starting quarterback T.J. Yates? You may have thought one of the two but not certainly the latter of them. People may think you can sleep on the Texans but I don’t think so yet, they are still a team that you cannot take for granted.

– The Bengals gave it their all and tried their best to play spoiler but came up short this Sunday. One thing I noticed in this game that is positive for the Bengals is that A.J. Green is a future elite wide receiver and you can see that in his rookie year. I believe he will be discussed in the likes of Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald in a couple of seasons.

– Detroit needed to make a statement today that they were a playoff caliber team and despite winning they did not prove that in the slightest. The Lions have been struggling just as much on the field as they have off of it & needed that win to give them some confidence so they could carry for the rest of the season. I did not see a team that is ready to make a turn yet and prove to be a dangerous team come playoff season.

– Minnesota made a game of it but they are in desperate need of their offensive leader Adrian Peterson. I’m starting to be skeptical based on their record if we will ever see Adrian Peterson suit up for the rest of this season. If not no worries, there is always backup QB Joe Webb to take the carries.

– Speaking of making a statement the New Orleans Saints failed to do the same as well in Week 14 as they barely beat the fading Tennessee Titans. The Saints needed to have a decisive victory to prove that they are an elite team that can knock off the Packers and have failed to do so yet again. They are winning but not decisively like Green Bay has, New Orleans and the Giants (if they make the playoffs) are the most dangerous teams to knock off the defending champs.

– Do you write off the Titans yet? I’m not sold on that until we see how they do in Week 15. But one thing is for sure, you need to win 10 games in the AFC to make the playoffs this season.

– “The Dream Team” living up to their self given nickname in Week 14 as they put the boots to the Dolphins as they continue to play for nothing but a hope & a dream. LeSean McCoy had the crazy statistic of Week 14 as he carried the ball twenty-seven times and only rushed for thirty-eight yards. No matter what, Andy Reid is still getting fired, even if they finish the year 8-8.

– Farewell Tony Sparano. I look forward to Bill Cowher becoming the head coach for the Dolphins next season.

– Rex Ryan stated when the Jets were 5-5 that “every game was a playoff game from here on out” and they are playing like it as they have gone 3-0 in their last three games & becoming the favorite for the sixth seed in the AFC playoffs right now with three games to go. New York has one of the easiest schedules for the rest of the season and I don’t see any reason why they should not make the playoffs at this point. Will they be dangerous like they have in years past, that I am not sure yet.

– Farewell to Todd Haley, very surprising firing to be honest. Would’ve figured he received some sort of pass after the injuries they were dealt to this season. Guess it might have been more then meets the eye in Kansas City.

– New England is the best team in AFC as right now in Week 14. For them to keep that title they need to beat teams like the Washington Redskins convincingly. They failed to do that in Week 14 as their flaws are continuing to be showcased against weak teams in the final stretch of the regular season. If they get a first-round bye I will be shocked if they make the AFC Championship Game at this point.

– Washington’s offense showcased the flaws of the New England defense to the rest of the league. If the Redskins can just barely beat them imagine what a team like the Ravens, Steelers or even the Texans may be able to do. It was a great job by the ‘Skins in making it interesting all the way to the end.

– Atlanta wants to be in the playoffs they proved that to me and the rest of the league today as they came from behind to beat the Panthers this week. At one point I thought we were getting close to putting the “nail in the coffin” on the Falcons but they came back from a pretty good deficit to live for another day. This could be the momentum the Falcons need to carry them for the final push in the regular season.

– Is the wear & tear of the NFL starting to get to Cam Newton? He hasn’t been as dominant in recent weeks and I’m wondering if we could see his flaws being showcased now by the professional defenses in the NFL. You know what they say, time shall tell.

– Don’t know what to say about this Jaguars/Bucs matchup except that Maurice Jones-Drew is a beast. He has had another terrific season that people just don’t realize because he plays for Jacksonville. How he hasn’t demanded a trade to a contender at this point in his career is baffling.

– Could there be a chance the Bucs don’t bring back Raheem Morris next season? I guess only if a Bill Cowher or Jeff Fisher wanted to coach there; I consider him in the same boat as Todd Haley. He is in the hot seat for sure next season.

– The “Suck for Luck” campaign has now reached 13 straight losses! They are getting closer to clinching the #1 pick for the 2012 NFL Draft! Oh and its official, in case you thought it was already but Peyton Manning is done for the season. I am officially shocked.

– Baltimore gets the win and improves to 10-3 on the season. They are still my AFC favorite to make the Super Bowl and are playing very well lately whether it is against good teams or bad teams. I’ll be interested to see if Joe Flacco ever takes the leadership role on this team though.

– If you thought the “cat was out of the bag” on the Green Bay Packers last week then you were wrong as they took it too playoff contender the Oakland Raiders. Green Bay gets a convincing win and now sets itself up to clinch home field advantage next week. The only major concern right now for Green Bay isn’t their schedule for the rest of the season but the health of Greg Jennings.

– I think it’s safe to say that the Oakland Raiders are starting to fade back to where I predicted they would be fading to, yet gave them credit, six weeks ago right? They looked good for that short while but that short while has come and gone. If they want to play in January they need to start acting like it now. I’d almost consider Hue Jackson on the hot seat at the end of this season if they don’t make the playoffs since it is Oakland…

– I feel like I am repeating myself since Denver keeps doing the same thing week after week but damn Tim Tebow is clutch. You have got to give the guy credit for what he continues to accomplish this season. He may never accomplish anything else after this season for the rest of his career but people will always remember the “Tebowmania” that has swept the NFL for the 2011-2012 season as the Denver Broncos currently lead the AFC West with three games to go.

– They have been hit with a slew of injuries to Jay Cutler and Matt Forte & their chances of playing in the playoffs this season will be a miracle at best for the moment. Tough break for the runner-up in the NFC Championship game last season; with that being said is Lovie Smith on the hot seat? Hey look at this way, Todd Haley was fired and the Chiefs made the playoffs last season but have been held back by major injuries as well, think about it.

– In the last five games the San Francisco 49ers are 2-3 despite winning the NFC West and being at one time an easy guess for a first round bye in the NFC playoffs. That has all changed in recent weeks and the Niners flaws are continuing to be showcased by the rest of the league. They are a division leader but they are being led by Alex Smith, the Texans may have more faith in T.J. Yates then San Francisco has in their former #1 overall pick.

– Arizona continues to play well and win when Kevin Kolb isn’t their QB or getting the most reps. Maybe the Cards need to rethink their franchise’s game plan of Kolb being their quarterback. Things just haven’t worked in Kolb’s favor at all in 2011.

– I love how the Chargers have come back from the dead and have looked like the Chargers team we typically remember the last two weeks. They are sitting at 6-7 currently and are still in the playoff mix & should not be counted out just yet. They very well could shock the world and make the playoffs whether it is by Wild Card position or dare I say the AFC West. Stay tuned.

– Man the Buffalo Bills really have disappointed me this season. They are a bad case of a team having two seasons in one season as they started off strong (5-2) and have ended up horrible (0-7) with a record of 5-8 on the season. I really believed this team could have shaken things up in the AFC East and now I’m starting to wonder if they ever will with Chan Gailey as their head coach or with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their quarterback.

– I believe that based off of momentum from the last two weeks, the New York Giants are the 2nd best team in the NFC right now and that is with a record of 1-1 in those two games. They are playing very well, came close to beating Green Bay, defeated Dallas after being behind by 12 with a short time to go and are now atop the NFC East. They needed these two games to set the tone and are looking towards a decent playoff run come January, watching out for the Giants.

– What can you say about Dallas? They had their opportunities but they just did not get things done. Would it shock you if Jason Garrett gets fired during the off-season?

– I can’t believe it either but at least for now the Seattle Seahawks are still in contention to make the playoffs. They have had a great stretch the last couple of games with Marshawn Lynch living up to his “beast mode” nickname in those last 5 games. Seattle has played well down the stretch this season and while I don’t see them making the playoffs (shocking I know), they have a lot to look forward to next season if they can get an actual NFL QB under center.

- Is Steve Spagnuolo the next to go? This team continues to disappoint me as they had a lot to look forward to this season and just have not lived up to their potential.

Join Bower, “The Sweet Nasty” Chris Cause & myself every Sunday for more NFL & Fantasy Football talk over at www.wheelhouseradio.com!

Jeff Peck is the producer for the “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday at www.wheelhouseradio.com.

Jeff also co-hosts “The Still Real to us show” with Eric Gargiulo which can be available at www.wheelhouseradio.com and can be downloaded in the “Real Guy Radio” section of the site.

You can follow “The Champ Jeff Peck” on Twitter at www.twitter.com/therealjeffpeck you can also follow Wheelhouse Radio on twitter at www.twitter.com/thewheelhouse and you can e-mail them @ [email protected]

Fantasy Football Almanac 2011: The Essential Fantasy Football Refererence Guide

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Madden 12 video game

NFL America’s Game Super Bowl I-XL on DVD

NFL Week 12 Thoughts – Inside The Wheelhouse

November 29, 2011 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Stevie Johnson Plaxico Burress TDLet’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 12 in the National Football League!

– Green Bay improves to 11-0 on the season after a pretty big win against the Detroit Lions. Many people the Lions were the team to beat and this was the game to do it this season. The Lions still have one more chance to knock off Green Bay this season but they can’t let their emotions get to them like they did in this one.

– The Lions defense plays extremely dirty. Case in point, the Suh stomp on Thanksgiving; a very costly immature play for the youngster but he will definitely learn & bounce back from this one.

– Miami is becoming one of the best pesky teams to watch play these last couple of weeks. Ya really can’t knock Matt Moore for the job that he has done in this one, he isn’t a franchise QB by any means but he definitely has proven he is way better then Chad Henne was for the Fins.

– Big D continues to roll and they are looking more & more like the NFC East Division winners for this season in a last second win for the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. They still aren’t playing like they “are setting the world on fire” but they are winning and that’s what counts the most. They still have a little bit to go before I believe in them as NFC elite.

- Baltimore gets the “W” in a statement winning game on Thanksgiving against the 49ers and now can say with pride that they are one of the AFC’s best this season. The Ravens played a very good Niners team, held them to 6 points and most importantly got the “W.” I look for this to be the game that sets the proverbial table for the rest of the season.

– San Francisco’s weakness was show on Thanksgiving night in that Alex Smith just isn’t a franchise quarterback. He did nothing to help beat the Ravens defense and he was shown as someone who was just in the right place at the right time. He reminds a lot of the Jake Delhomme from the year the Panthers went to the Super Bowl; amazing defense, mediocre quarterback.

– I actually believe that if Adrian Peterson was healthy enough to play in Week 12 that the Minnesota Vikings might have defeated the Falcons on Sunday. The Falcons didn’t win in convincing fashion and nobody outside of Roddy White really stood out as a big playmaker for the 7-4 Falcons in Week 12.

– Atlanta is outside of the NFC Elite this season and at best is a Wild Card team. I really am looking forward to what kind of Falcons team we will see for the rest of the season.

– Cincinnati struggled for most of the day but the improved to 7-4 on the season and for all things considered are still in on the AFC North. They aren’t eliminated yet but I still believe the ship has set sailed on their playoffs hopes. More power to them making things interesting these final five weeks.

– The Browns played tough all day but it just wasn’t enough. Peyton Hillis returning to action and got most of the carries for the Browns in Week 12; I’ll be interested to see if this is a reunion between the Browns front office & their star running back.

– Tennessee is still making things interesting in the AFC South as they got the big win over the Bucs on Sunday but the real news to note is that Chris Johnson had his first real “Chris Johnson game” of the season as he ran for 190 yards against a historically good Bucs defense. If Johnson continues to play close to what he did in Week 12 I believe the Titans can actually catch the Texans in the AFC South.

– No real bright spots for the Bucs in this one with the exception of Blount being a true power running back in every sense. If they can continue to build their offense I believe this team will be right back in it next season and beyond. They have the tools they just have to grow, learn and use them.

– I swear someone must have radioed to Curtis Painter to throw that INT in the end zone at the end of the game against the Panthers. They must have reminded him that they are playing for Andrew Luck and not wins in 2011.

– Carolina gets the win but does so in a fashion they haven’t been used to all this year. The numbers weren’t there from anyone on offense and the defense was the one everyone was talking about after this one. It was as if the old Carolina Panthers returned for one game and filled the shoes of the 2011 Panthers in Week 12.

– Beanie Wells had a hell of a day as in 228 yards rushing but I don’t know if it truly reflects his “beast mode” since the Rams have one of the worst rushing defenses in the entire league. Despite the explosion of rushing offense from Wells today I still don’t see him as a running back any team in the NFL can build around. Still need to see more out of him.

– Like I said before, the Rams have one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL and they are coached by a defensive minded head coach. They’ve worked really hard building that defense in the draft and it just isn’t performing at the level they should be. I’m really perplexed at what the Rams future will look like in the next couple of years, one week they show potential and the next they show this stink bomb like they had in Week 12; tough to be a Rams fan right now.

– The New York Jets remains alive as they got the big win in Week 12 and basically eliminated the Buffalo Bills from any chance of making the playoffs this season. The Jets got the win and did so in surprising fashion as Mark Sanchez shows that for at least this week, he should be the starting quarterback in New York as he threw for 4 touchdowns in this one. It wasn’t pretty but the Jets got the job done.

– Stevie Johnson’s touchdown dance imitating Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the leg was very tasteless. I hope the NFL does the proper action by suspending him or giving him a very hefty fine.

– If things couldn’t get worse for a first place team in the AFC they did for the Houston Texans on Sunday as it appears backup quarterback Matt Leinart is out for the season now as well with a broken collarbone. T.J. Yates did okay but he is not a quarterback who should be leading his team to a playoff spot. I wonder who the Texans will sign to lead this team to the AFC playoffs…

– Maurice Jones-Drew leads the team in rushing and receiving in this one & once again I send my apologies to MJD for thinking he may have been done being a productive back in the NFL.

– I can not get over how well the Oakland Raiders have played in recent weeks and they are really starting to look like a potential threat come playoff time. This team really reminds me of the Jets the past couple of years in that on paper you weren’t afraid to play them but you knew they could beat you any given Sunday.

– Calib Hanie seriously didn’t know how to spike the ball properly? Well it blew the chance of the Bears getting one more shot to win it and now the alarm system may be going off in Chicago. They are another team getting ready to patrol the free agent market for some QB depth.

– Rex Grossman threw for 300 yards in Week 12 as the Redskins won their fourth game of the year. Bet you never thought I’d write that this season.

– Marshawn Lynch continues to be a beast for Seattle this season. Had the Seahawks actually have a good offense this team could’ve really given the Niners trouble come season’s end but sadly for football fans out there that won’t be the case. It’s only a matter of time before the Niners win the West.

– New England looked really good this past Sunday as they beat the Eagles in Week 12, I mean really good. They are the best team in the AFC right now by far.

– This is it Philadelphia you are getting your wish granted. Andy Reid will be fired for sure this season after the “dream team” dropped their 7th loss. They can at best right now finish 9-7 which could get you a playoff spot but it’s highly unlikely at this point. I guess people can return their Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles t-shirts now.

– All Tim Tebow does is win, win, win, no matter what; I believe that this Broncos team is playoff bound now and they will at least win a Wild Card spot.

– Just like Andy Reid will be in Philly, Norv Turner will be gone in San Diego. This team has nothing, has had nothing and doesn’t play like they want to be on the field. Some unemployed head coach will be a very lucky person when they take over this team next year.

– Pittsburgh barely beats Kansas City on Sunday night but improves to 8-3. They are like what the Chicago Bears were last season in my mind, not a very good team with a very good record. I still believe New England and Baltimore are higher on the echelon of the AFC right now.

– Do you think Todd Haley join Andy Reid and Norv Turner as fired head coaches at the end of this season? I don’t think as he gets a pass due to the Jamaal Charles and Matt Cassel injuries.

– New Orleans laid the smackdown on the Giants on Monday Night. Great win for the Saints against a historically good defense. The Giants do not have an easy schedule as they play the Saints and Packers in back-to-back games. New York continues to slowly fall out of the playoff race.

- I believe Week 12 was one of the most exciting weeks the NFL has had all season. Most of the games were close and whether or not they looked to be appealing or unappealing matchups the games were great. This was definitely one of the best weeks for this season thus far.

Join Bower, “The Sweet Nasty” Chris Cause & myself every Sunday for more NFL & Fantasy Football talk over at www.wheelhouseradio.com!

Jeff Peck is the producer for the “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday at www.wheelhouseradio.com.

Jeff also co-hosts “The Still Real to us show” with Eric Gargiulo which can be available at www.wheelhouseradio.com and can be downloaded in the “Real Guy Radio” section of the site.

You can follow “The Champ Jeff Peck” on Twitter at www.twitter.com/therealjeffpeck you can also follow Wheelhouse Radio on twitter at www.twitter.com/thewheelhouse and you can e-mail them @ [email protected]

Fantasy Football Almanac 2011: The Essential Fantasy Football Refererence Guide

NFL Jerseys on Amazon.com

Madden 12 video game

NFL America’s Game Super Bowl I-XL on DVD

Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Week 12 Pickups

November 22, 2011 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Kevin Smith, Waiver WireFantasy Football owners in need of a running back or quarterback may be in a lot of luck this week. Searching for help on the waiver wire in Fantasy Football Week 12 is never easy. However, a few injuries have presented owners with some rare opportunities this late in the season.

Quarterback

Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans - Take a look around the NFL this season and check out Cam Newton and Christian Ponder. Rookies can play in the NFL (well not if you are on the Jacksonville Jaguars). Locker was a hell of a quarterback in college and may wind up turning into the next Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning if the Titans can surround him with the right talent. He stepped in Sunday and threw for 140 and two TDs. Not bad for a guy that has only played in one NFL game prior to Sunday. Hasselbeck is expected back, but he may have a real short leash after the performance that Locker put in on Sunday.

Matt Leinart, Houston Texans - Matt Leinart couldn’t get it done with Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, so what makes you think he will get it done with Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones? One answer, a running game! The bread and butter of this team is the running game and teams will spend more time defending the run and leaving the pass open. Leinart will certainly get his opportunities to make some things happen here, even if he is nothing more than a game manager. His NFL career is on the line here. If you own Matt Hasselbeck or Jay Cutler, you should at least grab him and watch what happens. This is truly a boom or bust situation if I have ever seen one.

Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins - He was on a lot of waiver wire blogs last week but I needed to see another week before I became a believer. Am I believer who would start him every week? Absolutely not. Am I believer who would grab him if I owner Jay Cutler or Matt Schaub? You better believe I would. He has some interesting matchups along the way against some very beatable secondaries. With Reggie Bush breaking out, Daniel Thomas back, and some nice chemistry developing between him and Brandon Marshall, Moore could be a nice play in weeks 15 & 16 against the Bills and Patriots.

Matt Flynn, Green Bay Packers - This is the time where some of us start looking ahead to the playoffs.The great news is that if you drafted Aaron Rodgers you are probably at least in the hunt for a playoff spot. The bad news is that he probably won’t be there when you need him. There is a serious shot that the Packers clinch home field by Week 15 and sit Rodgers for at least the final game of the season, if not more. If you own Rodgers and don’t have a capable backup, you need to grab this kid pronto. If you want to screw with the Rodgers’ owner in your league, grab Flynn pronto.

Running Back

Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions - Welcome back to the NFL Kevin Smith. As a former Smith owner I can tell you that Smith was not a bad fantasy RB when he started for the Lions a couple of years ago. He returned this Sunday and returned with a vengeance. Smith exploded for over 200 all purpose yards and two TDs against the Carolina Panthers. Was it a fluke? I don’t think so. He’ll get plenty of work in both the receiving and rushing game, making him a potential beast for the rest of the season. Maurice Morris had more than enough chances to take the starting job and couldn’t. For a team that desperately needs a running game, Smith’s return couldn’t have come at a better time. I am a believer!

Joe McKnight, New York Jets - Where has this guy been all season? Oh yeah, on special teams. McKnight finally had his chance to play last Thursday and showed more explosiveness in the Jets running game than any running back has in the last two seasons. Rex Ryan would be a fool not to elevate McKnight to the feature back role. Rex Ryan is a lot of things but I don’t think he is an idiot. He’ll go with the hot hand at running back and right now, McKnight is that hand.

Wide Receiver

Jacoby Ford, Oakland Raiders - Maybe I am crazy but I picked up Ford this week in three leagues off of the waiver wire. He is out there. He will be back soon, maybe even next week. Before he went down with the injury, he and Carson Palmer were developing some real nice chemistry in the Denver and San Diego games. I know that Denarius Moore was flavor of the week last week but he had only two targets and one catch on Sunday. Ford will be welcomed back as the #1 receiver when he returns and that is huge in such a high-powered offense.

Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Fool me once shame on you, you know the rest. Maybe I am a little quick here to jump the gun but he did have a season-high 83 yards and a TD against the Green Bay Packers. Yes it was the Pack, but maybe there is something there. The guy is obviously talented so either it his quarterback or a mental issue. Maybe he has solved both? I don’t know but he could be a sneaky waiver wire pickup this week. Just close your eyes when you click his name.

Fantasy Football Almanac 2011: The Essential Fantasy Football Refererence Guide

NFL Jerseys on Amazon.com

Madden 12 video game

NFL America’s Game Super Bowl I-XL on DVD