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In the Trenches: The Bizarro World of Fantasy Football

Discussion in 'Fantasy Football Talk' started by ChargerRay, Sep 20, 2005.

  1. ChargerRay

    ChargerRay Producer/Host of BoltTalk Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    "Tales of the Bizarro World" started on the back pages of Adventure Comics #285 in 1961. It is a tale of a once uninhabited planet that was re-formed into a square and became the home for Bizarro Superman, a deranged imitation of Superman created from lifeless matter. The Bizarro World represents oddities and a total backwards existence.

    Welcome to the Bizarro World of Fantasy Football.

    A lot of strange events have occured in the first two weeks of the regular season that have owners both angered and confused. Studs who cost a first- or second-round selection seem weakened like Superman near kryponite, while no-names that had little to no value in drafts have sudden statistical powers.

    Here are some of the more bizarre facts and stats that have occured and what to expect in the future.

    Twelve quarterbacks have thrown more touchdown passes than Peyton Manning. The list of quarterbacks with more scores than "Super" Manning include Trent Dilfer, Drew Bledsoe, Gus Frerotte and Joey Harrington. Furthermore, 19 quarterbacks have thrown for more yards, a list that includes Dilfer, Ben Roethlisberger, Chad Pennington and Anthony Wright.

    That's correct, Kyle Boller's backup has more passing yards than Manning.

    Dilfer is the most unbelievable name on this list. He has been the third-most productive quarterback behind Donovan McNabb and Carson Palmer to this point in the season.

    He wasn't even drafted in most formats.

    These sort of stats are certain to even out and Manning will produce much more solid numbers across the board, but owners who took him in the first round could be winless after two weeks and in some trouble.

    Daunte Culpepper has 10 turnovers (eight INTs, two fumbles) and one touchdown. Culpepper might believe he doesn't need former teammate Randy Moss to be productive, but the fact is that his numbers have been mediocre without him. His totals without Moss in '04 told the tale: In five starts with the stud receiver either out or limited due to injuries, the veteran averaged 235.8 passing yards and 1.8 total touchdowns. With Moss on the field and at 100 percent, Culpepper averaged 321.6 passing yards and 2.9 total touchdowns.

    This season his numbers have been worse to the point where rookie Kyle Orton has been a better option in the first two weeks. Culpepper's passes tis past weekend against the Cincinnati Bengals seemed more forced than normal, and he wasn't even close to as accurate as he has been in the past.

    The loss of Moss, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and center Matt Birk have all combined to turn the red "S" on Culpepper's uniform into an enormous question mark. To hurt his stock even more, his best option in the pass attack, Nate Burleson, suffered a sprained knee and could miss some time. Since the veteran's trade value is at its lowest point in several seasons, most owners who drafted him will have no other choice but to hope he can re-claim his status as one of the league's most dangerous quarterbacks.

    A total of 17 running backs have more rushing yards than LaDainian Tomlinson. Rookie Carnell "Cadillac" Williams leads the league with 276 yards, former Steelers' No. 4 back Willie Parker is second, and Warrick Dunn, Thomas Jones, Larry Johnson and Reuben Droughns all have more yards on the ground than Tomlinson. He continues to find the end zone (he set a new NFL record with a rushing touchdown in 14 consecutive games), but he's recorded just 124 yards and received a mere 19 carries in each contest.

    Head coach Marty Schottenheimer will have to hand Tomlinson the football 20-25 times for the Bolts to win (it's no coincidence the team is 0-2), so expect an increase in carries for the former Texas Christian standout. Unlike Culpepper, owners should not be concerned with Tomlinson's level of production the rest of the season.

    Stephen Davis has more touchdowns than Corey Dillon, Rudi Johnson, Edgerrin James, Willis McGahee, Curtis Martin and Ahman Green combined. Davis' career seemed to be on the downside after he missed 14 games last season due to an injured knee that required a microfracture procedure. His status was in question throughout the preseason, that is until he returned to action in the Panthers' finale against Pittsburgh and was all of the sudden back in the mix.

    He started ahead of DeShaun Foster in the regular-season opener against the New Orleans Saints and in Superman fashion, rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown. The 31-year-old veteran then tallied three scores this past weekend in a win over the New England Patriots. Without question, he has been a middle-to-late round gem for countless owners. Though the potential for injuries is there for Davis more than most backs, it's still advised to ride him while he's hot.

    Kyle Johnson, Jerald Sowell, Troy Fleming, Jeremi Johnson and Ran Carthon all have more Fantasy points than Jamal Lewis. I've never been in prison and I never want to be in prison, but I've seen some movies about it and they're not like the one Lex Luther and his sidekick Otis escaped from in the first Superman film. Like most experts, I figured Lewis had time to heal from an injured ankle, lift weights, get mean as hell and look forward to a productive future.

    What the future has held thus far is miserable stat lines and rows of mad owners who thought he could at least produce solid numbers against a Tennessee Titans team that was dominated by Parker in their opener. Instead he rushed for nine yards on 10 carries with no touchdowns.

    Despite his poor start, it's hard to blame Lewis for his lack of production. The Ravens have fallen behind in both their contests and abandoned the run in order to attempt a comeback. In fact, the team ran the ball four times in the second half in Tennessee.

    Four.

    It's a little hard to fatten a stat line when you're handed the ball four times and defenses don't respect the team's pass attack. Lewis will improve (how can he not), but the Ravens have to commit to the run much more in order to appease owners and have a chance to catch the Steelers in the AFC North.

    A total of 87 wide receivers have more Fantasy points than Andre Johnson. That's an unbelievable stat, but it's true in leagues that reward one point for every 10 receiving yards. In fact, the former Miami Hurricane trails the likes of Arnaz Battle, Patrick Crayton, Antonio Chatman, Charlie Adams and Wes Welker.

    That's not a mistake: Johnson trails Adams and Welker in Fantasy points. Now that's a stat made for the Bizarro World of Fantasy Football.

    The problem isn't a decrease in Johnson's skills and abilities. The issue surrounds an offensive line that has looked awful and given little protection to David Carr, who has been sacked 13 times and thrown one touchdown with five turnovers (three INTs, two fumbles lost). If he continues to see so much time on his posterior rather than on his feet, Carr might be forced to pay admission on the road.

    The time is now for owners who still love Johnson's potential to make a run at him, because it's hard to envision a scenario where his value can be at a lower point.

    A total of 39 wide receivers have more receptions than Reggie Wayne. Wayne has recorded a mere seven receptions for 69 yards in two starts, which equates to six Fantasy points in most formats. Shaun McDonald, the No. 4 wide receiver in St. Louis, has more points on the season. This stretch of horrid production should end soon (the Colts have Cleveland, Tennessee, San Francisco, St. Louis and Houston on their schedule before a bye in Week 8), so owners should continue to start Wayne and expect better numbers in the near future.

    Steve Heiden has been more productive than Tony Gonzalez, Alge Crumpler and Jason Witten. It would not have been a shock to see a Browns tight end produce better numbers than Gonzalez, Crumpler and Witten after two weeks, but that athlete's name would have been Kellen Winslow, not Heiden. The South Dakota State product recorded an impressive six receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns in a 26-24 win over the Green Bay Packers, but chances are that he'll fall far out of the top five in Fantasy points at his position and turn back into no more than waiver-wire fodder.

    Unless you're in a league with 12-plus teams or are desperate for a tight end, there's little reason to put in a claim for Heiden.

    Thirteen kickers have more field goals than Adam Vinatieri. The Super Bowl hero and No. 1 kicker on most preseason rank lists hasn't had a great start to the '05 season. He has received a mere two field-goal chances -- that's four fewer than the league leaders, Rian Lindell and Neil Rackers -- and has been outscored by the Titans' Rob Bironas.

    Who?

    The value of kickers, even the league's most productive like Vinatieri, can do a 180-degree turn from season to season. Owners should continue to utilize Vinatieri as their No. 1 kicker at this point in time, but it would not be a shock to see him released later in the season should his numbers pale in comparison to those who reside on the waiver wire.

    The Ravens DST is rated 30th in the Gridiron Guru League. The GGL has an in-depth scoring system for defense/special teams units and is a good indicator of a team's value. LB Ray Lewis and his teammates didn't score a single point in the league in Week 1 and mustered a mere six this past week in a loss to Tennessee. That doesn't mean the Ravens defense won't improve as the season progresses (which it will), but what it does show is that there is never a reason to draft a DST until the late rounds.

    To prove that point even further, three of the current top 10 defense/special teams in the GGL (Titans, Rams, Cardinals) are still available.

    Notebook

    * Chiefs QB Trent Green hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in two starts and failed to produce even against a vulnerable Raiders defense in Week 2, and that trend could continue throughout the season. The reason appears to be a greater focus on the run now that the team has two "starters" in RBs Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson and an improved defense to keep points off the scoreboard. Green will still have his share of monstrous starts in what is an explosive AFC West, but his level of consistent production appears to have declined.
    * The Houston Texans have fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer and replaced him with offensive line coach Joe Pendry, who coached the offense under head coach Dom Capers in Carolina. Pendry was also former head coach Wade Phillips' coordinator in Buffalo on a team that leaned on the run, which is good news for RB Domanick Davis. There are still questions about the team's line, but a greater emphasis on the ground attack and a more ball-controlled scheme could be good for what ails Davis and this unit.
     

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