What we are talking about:
Now you may start him again
Not so fast, my friend
Can't wait for Episode VII
There was a time when the New York Jets were an anonymous team to me. They had Joe Namath and a win in Super Bowl III, Mark Gastineau had a sack dance and Joe Klecko appeared in one of the greatest movies of all time, "The Cannonball Run."
And that was it.
That's all we had to hear about the Jets until about three years ago when the team hired Rex Ryan. And then it became all Jets all the time. You can't go anywhere without hearing about the Jets. And just when you thought this team would fade into obscurity, they acquired Tim Tebow during the offseason. And now, even in the team's bye week, we still get bombarded with Jets news -- this time because Tebow has a 'girlfriend' now.
Her name is Camilla Belle and she's famous for dating one of the Jonas Brothers. So there's no way this smacks of a well-timed publicity stunt to garner media attention during the Jets' bye week. Yes, that makes sense in #oppositeland.
All right, let's get to the fantasy football.
Likes and dislikes are in bold, for those of you who don't want to take the 88 minutes required to read this column. (But it's the weekend: What better way to cruise through it than by checking out my thoughts on fantasy football, comic books, wrestling, TV and music?) Facebook doesn't give you the option to dislike stuff, but I certainly do.
A big hand to stats maven Bill "Sudsy" Sudell for dropping the knowledge.
And without further ado ...
Cam Newton is going to have a monster game. Part of the reason is the matchup. It has to be. The Redskins have allowed the fourth-most points to quarterbacks this year. The other part is the human element. Newton was the most celebrated player in the NFL in 2012. The torch has unwittingly been passed to Robert Griffin III. This is one of those instances where you can feel Newton is going to put the Panthers on his shoulders.
And if you want to get out in front and take a look at matchups, realize Newton and the Panthers face the Falcons, Chargers and Raiders during the fantasy playoffs. So maybe you can swing a trade today before Newton's fantasy rebirth starts.
There is a chance Matt Ryan could be your backup if you are in a 10-team league and you like to stockpile quarterbacks. One of the guys in my league of record (with my mates from Corona, Calif.) does this and he's always trying to figure out who to start between Ryan and Matthew Stafford. I like both, but I favor Stafford this week. Or maybe I'm just trying to fool him because he's been my long-running nemesis. Like the Sinestro to my Green Lantern.
Do you have a good nickname for Aaron Rodgers? It's one of the objectives for the "Dave Dameshek Football Program," which is available on iTunes. If you have a good one, tweet it with the hashtag #Rodgersnickname.
Tony Romo is one of my top 12 quarterbacks this week. Romo has scored at least 14 fantasy points in three consecutive games. And sure, 14 is one point below fantasy analyst Michael Fabiano's line of delineation for fantasy quarterbacks, but I like him this week. I also like the Dallas Cowboys as seen in Shek to the Future.
More cheap plugs: I hope you had the chance to check out my NFL/Star Wars connections. It's old, we typically run it on May 4 (May the Fourth be with you), but brought it out in honor of Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm.
ImageI like the idea of a new "Star Wars" trilogy. I joked George Lucas and Disney was going to re-master "Episode I" to add in Tony Stark and Wolverine, but let's be serious for a second. Disney has done a great job with Pixar and Marvel movies, so these "Star Wars" movies should be even better. Seriously, did Disney ruin "The Avengers?" No, so this is good. Remember, George Lucas is great at big picture stuff, not so much with stuff like story development, dialogue and plot points. So look at this as a good thing. The new trilogy is going to be epic and much better than the prequels.
ImageNobody has asked me, but "Episode VII" should open with Boba Fett crawling out of the Great Pit of Carkoon. If you followed the books, you know Fett doesn't go out like a punk, as intimated by "Return of the Jedi." So there's how you start. The best way to go would be to follow the books. Jacen Solo (Darth Caedus) might be my favorite character from the extended universe. It would also give you a way to have Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher reprise their roles.
I'm going with Romo over Josh Freeman this week. You can read more about Freeman in the dislike column, but this was a popular debate on Twitter. I would start Michael Vick over both of them. If not this week for Vick, it's never going to happen again.
Eli Manning will slip into my top 12 this week. There's something about the Steelers having to travel on Sunday morning to the game, which should throw off the rhythm of the team. I know, not very scientific, but you sometimes have to look past the numbers and trends.
Russell Wilson is a nice sleeper option at quarterback. Obviously, you wouldn't start him over guys like Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers, but he does have a nice matchup against the Vikings, who have allowed 20 touchdown passes in their last 10 road games. The Vikings have allowed the fifth-most points to fantasy receivers.
I almost wish Jim Brown hadn't made nice with Trent Richardson. I liked the idea of Richardson as a guy who continued to strive for the Hall of Famer's approval. (As if Richardson really cared, which I will just pretend he does.) If they ever make a movie of Richardson's life, you know Jim Brown's criticism will be the central plot line.
Richardson has scored a rushing touchdown in five of his last seven games and has more than 100 scrimmage yards four times this season. And don't fear the Ravens, they've allowed the fifth-most points to fantasy running backs in 2012.
It will be interesting to see what an injury on the offensive line to Carl Nicks does to running back Doug Martin, whose touches and fantasy points have increased over the last three games. I'm less enthused about starting him, but don't see any way around it. The Raiders are a tougher matchup than you would believe.
Freddy Morris is third in the NFL with 151 rushing attempts. He had more than 200 attempts in three consecutive years at Florida Atlantic. I don't know if I'm grasping for straws because a Mike Shanahan running back is doing so well, but put me on the Officially Worried list. Not for this week, mind you. Rather, long-term.
Mike Shanahan said he was a dumb (expletive) after he allowed RG3 to take a shot after he ran a trick play against the Steelers. Ah yes, Mike. Many fantasy enthusiasts have said that for years. But how did the Steelers not get flagged for the hit on a defenseless receiver who was a running back?
Rashad Jennings is the biggest predicament this week. The Lions had been tough on fantasy running backs this year. But the Lions have allowed 130 rushing yards in back-to-back games, and more than 100 rushing yards in six of their last seven road games. Jennings has scored at least nine fantasy points in back-to-back games. So Jennings it is over Darren Sproles. I like Sproles, and you know I love my Monday night guys, but I will ride with Jennings.
Darren McFadden is back. I haven't been so excited for the return of something since news broke that "Community" will be back on Thursday nights in February. It's about time. "Community" has gained on "Scrubs" in the "Great TV Show Needlessly Jerked around by NBC" category. And yes, "Scrubs" is a great TV show and might be one of the most underrated sitcoms of all time. The "Community" duo of Gillian Jacobs and Alison Brie is one committee I can really get behind.
Do you think we will look at Calvin Johnson at the end of the season and think, "Wow, I can't believe he scored only one touchdown." Or do you feel he will correct himself and finish with eight or nine scores? If you believe the latter, the tear is going to start soon. Titus Young is nice, but if he plays better it can only help Megatron in the long run.
Hakeem Nicks has just two touchdowns in his last nine games. But he has fought injuries. You'd be foolish to give up on him so soon. The Giants will be able to move the ball a little bit in the air against the Steelers.
The Redskins have allowed the second-most fantasy points to receivers and 19 touchdowns passes (most in the NFL) this year, so I'd roll with Brandon LaFell in a pinch. Don't start him over your studs, but in a pinch.
Denarius Moore has a touchdown reception in three consecutive games. And the Buccaneers have allowed the third-most fantasy points to receivers. Moore is a favorite target, too, with at least eight targets in each game this year.
Dez Bryant found his name on the injury report this week, but he's still a solid play. Bryant has 11 targets in three of his last four games. But his lack of touchdowns is troubling.
Dare we take another chance on Jeremy Maclin after he burned us last week? Yes. Him and DeSean Jackson have great matchups against the Saints on Monday night. And you know my feelings on Monday night guys. Yes, I know I said I was going to sit Sproles earlier, but I still like the matchups on Monday night.
ImageSpeaking of Monday night, I got home after a show and the TV already had "RAW" on. And when I sawCM Punk, Alberto Del Rio, Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow and The Mizin the ring together, I marked out like no other. That's a stable I could get behind. But I do like the idea of having true "Survivor Series" matches. The Three Man Band behind the music also was well-done.
ImageThis will be perfect booking for Ryback. He'll be the last face standing and he will eliminate everybody except for Punk who will get the win over him. But at least you can make Ryback look like a champ by "Rybacking" a bunch of dudes, and Punk finally doesn't get booked like a chump for a change. Seriously, he gets the "Where's Boba Fett?" booking too much lately.
You can't sleep on Cecil Shorts anymore. Yes, he's routinely mentioned in That Helps No One, but now he's becoming more of a mid-card guy. Shorts has 22 targets in his last two games and he is the Jags' top receiver.
Kellen Davis is a matchup play tight end if you are in a severe pinch. Don't add Davis and then start him over Jason Witten. That's just silly. But if you're desperate for a tight end, go with Davis, who plays the Titans. Tennessee has allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends this year.
Heath Miller has six touchdown receptions this season (second-most among tight ends) and has had at least 10 fantasy points in four games.
The Browns defense has scored at least 10 fantasy points in two of their last three weeks, and have forced at least one turnover in 14 consecutive games.
Phil Dawson was a great sport, but who is the kid with the Lou Groza style kicking these field goals? That kid has some style. Big thank you to Culver City High School for the help. I like Culver City to take down Beverly High School this week.
Josh Freeman has scored at least 22 fantasy points in three consecutive games. He's thrown at least three touchdown passes in a game for three consecutive games. The Raiders have allowed a lot of fantasy points to quarterbacks this year. But this just screams of a trap game for the Buccaneers.
The thing with Freeman is, if he has a great game, it's like "Yeah, the numbers were trending up." But if he struggles, it's like, "Yeah, we should have seen this trap game coming." Boy, you have to love fantasy football.
The final verdict is to sit Freeman this week. The injury to Carl Nicks, maybe it's an overreaction; I just can't feel comfortable with it.
Joe Flacco has been lousy on the road, so I don't know if you can trust him this week against the Browns. Only two of Flacco's passing touchdowns this season have come on the road, where the majority of his interceptions have occurred.
If you look at Jay Cutler and think, "Wow, he has a great matchup this week at Tennessee," realize he had a great matchup against the Panthers last week, and came away with just 5.84 fantasy points. The only thing we can expect consistently from Cutler is great photos from Smokin' Jay Cutler.
And no Jay Cutler, the fans didn't boo you. They were saying Boorandon Marshall needs to get the ball a lot more so please get it together, but at least you still had better body language than Newton.
ImageI agree with Richard Dent, Mike Ditka was the reason the 1985 Bears didn't go on a string of Super Bowl titles. It was the 1986 Bears team that set the defensive scoring record and the move to Doug Flutie after Jim McMahon's injury that killed their chance -- though McMahon killed the Bears in 1987. And to be honest, I'm not sure they were better than the 49ers in 1984 or 1988. All of this leads to one question: How did Ditka put it together to beat my Los Angeles Rams in 1985? Ugh, we would have killed the Patriots, too.
Brandon Weeden has topped 15 fantasy points in three of his last four games. The Ravens aren't the same defense they were years ago. But while you can run on the team, quarterbacks have struggled to throw the ball. So keep Weeden on the bench this week.
I like the Browns to beat the Ravens this week, but it shouldn't translate into a huge game from Weeden. That's why Richardson and the Browns defense is in the like ledger. BTW, did you know the Browns haven't beaten the Ravens in Cleveland during the Flacco/Ray Rice era?
Hey Marvin Lewis, was it necessary to work blue when talking about Red Dalton like that? In case you missed it, Lewis said Dalton needs to be more of a (expletive), and that he's being too nice of a guy. And you know what, I kind of agree with Lewis. Sometimes the quarterback needs to show a little fire and take charge. Peyton Manning doesn't have a problem being a little bit of a (expletive) when he needs to be. It can be a good thing for a quarterback.
Although, many in the NFL use that adjective to describe Philip Rivers, so it's not an absolute. I kept Philip Rivers out of my Top 12 this week. How did that work out for me? No, seriously. I'm asking because I file this column on Thursday afternoon before the games. How do you not get that yet?
One theory I keep thinking about Rivers is his unique throwing motion has compromised his arm, similar to the way Dontre Willis suddenly lost it in baseball. If Rivers didn't come through with a solid performance against the Chiefs, I'm not sure there is a matchup you can trust him in for the rest of the season.
The biggest problem with Rivers has been with the deep ball. Only Stafford and Carson Palmer have been worse on the deep ball. Headed into Thursday night, Rivers was 8 of 31 for 264 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions on balls thrown at least 21 yards in the air. His passer rating on such plays was 33.7.
Let's stick with the Chargers. Again, this column is penned on Thursday and I might have to update this if the Chargers lose, but who is the first to be fired in Southern California, Norv Turner, Mike Butcher or Mike Brown? Too many teams have underachieved and somebody has to go.
ImageThe thing with the Lakers is inexcusable. Sure, the Lakers struggle against the Trail Blazers, but how did they lose to the Mavericks? There is a real chance the Lakers open the season 0-4. Why fool around with this? Hire Mark D'Antoni right now. He would at least make the Lakers fun to watch. And I hate to say this, but the Miami Heat look great right now. Trust me, as somebody who loves his country, I hate giving the Miami Heat any credit.
Oh no, Smoking Jay Cutler might now have been overtaken by Fumblr: A loving tribute to Philip Rivers' mustache. The Internet can be a wonderful place sometimes.
Mike Pouncey said Ryan Tannehill is the best rookie quarterback. This can only mean Mike Pouncey doesn't own a television and thus, has not seen the other rookie quarterbacks. Somebody sign him up for Game Rewind on NFL.com. I feel terrible he's missing out on so much good TV. Kind of like when somebody tells me they aren't watching "Homeland."
Michael Turner has had fewer than seven fantasy points in back-to-back games. He's averaged fewer than 4-yards per carry in three consecutive contests. And he's topped 100 scrimmage yards only once this season. He's living off a reputation. If you have other options, you might want to investigate.
Jonathan Stewart has been given every opportunity to earn the No. 1 spot for the Panthers. I understand, he played the Bears last week, so you don't want to write him off because of that. But he's failed to reach 90 rush yards in 23 consecutive games and has eight fantasy points or less in five straight.
Why is DeAngelo Williams still with the Panthers? When you think of how good he would be on any number of teams (Green Bay, Arizona or even Dallas), it's really a shame there aren't more trades in the NFL. Speaking of which, here are six trades that need to happen sooner, rather than later via The Pick Six.
Williams would have been great in Dallas. Neither DeMarco Murray nor Felix Jones can stay healthy. The Cowboys are in a similar position to the St. Louis FC: They have a better running back option (the Cowboys have Philip Tanner), but refuse to go to him. Even if St. Louis moved Steven Jackson, it would have been better. Football needs to work on this. NFL owners are like those fantasy owners who refuse to make decent trades.
How crazy is it baseball has had as many trades this week as football? But so long Ervin Santana. Did you know his real first name is Johan? But to avoid confusion with the other Johan Santana, he changed his name to Ervin, like Ervin "Magic" Johnson. I'll kind of miss the kid.
Jonathan Dwyer really showed something during his days as a feature running back (both games), but his production will take a hit if Rashard Mendenhall returns this week. Dwyer has said Mendenhall should start when he returns. Maybe Dwyer should take some of Marvin Lewis' advice and be a (expletive) about it.
The Packers' desire to run the ball is akin to the stack of comic books I keep meaning to get to. But it's just not feasible. Alex Green hasn't taken advantage of his opportunity. You want to play him after you saw what the 49ers did against the Cardinals run defense. But I can't advise it.
Mikel LeShoure and Joique Bell have combined to form one of the worst running back by committees in NFL history.
ImageMark Ingram has settled deeply into the Saints bench. And this should be a good indication why Steve Spurrier's notion Alabama could beat some NFL teams is completely laughable. How many of the Tide's players will go on to play in the league? And then some of the recent superstars like Ingram can't even make it on the NFL level. This is a nice little topic to chat about in the Tuscaloosa WalMart, but we can't take this stuff seriously. But Spurrier was pretty deft, as he got us to overlook South Carolina's annual choke job again.
Julio Jones (staying with the Alabama theme) has scored five touchdowns this season. None of those have come at home. Jones has nine receptions for 107 yards in three home games. The Cowboys have allowed the third-fewest points to receivers this year. It's tough to sit Jones because if you start three receivers, it's going to be difficult. But this matchup is terrible and the trend is heading in the wrong direction.
ImageSpeaking of unexplainable trends, how the (expletive) did Mike Trout not win a Gold Glove award? This is headed into the wrong direction. I have a real fear the guy who left his bat on his shoulder to end the World Series might steal the MVP award. It's not a rational fear, mind you. Anybody objective about it will say Mike Trout is the MVP of the American League, but when you have to deal with baseball writers, reason is often excused.
ImageThe notion of "Hey the Tigers made the playoffs" is not a valid argument for Miguel Cabrera. (You know, the guy who left the bat on his shoulder to end the World Series.) The Angels had a better record than the Tigers and Anaheim might have made the playoffs if Trout had played the entire year.
I like Titus Young as a sleeper this week, but I'm not starting him as one of my elite options. If you play in a three-receiver league and you need a guy because of injuries and bye weeks, I like Young. He's a nice play and he will continue to be productive. But don't chase a miss on last week's big game by doubling down against the Jaguars.
Lance Moore is guy who frustrates me to no end. He gets enough receptions to be a viable option, but has never really taken hold as a fantasy superstar.
Josh Gordon has scored a touchdown in three of his last four games, but his fantasy production has been on the decline. I've been using Gordon in my flex spot, but I'm going to keep him on the bench this week against the Ravens. You can run on the Ravens now, but it's getting harder to throw on them.
Kevin Walter had a season-high 74-yard receiving yards against the Ravens in his last game. He's strictly a matchup play for a desperate own, as the Bills have allowed the fifth-most points to fantasy receivers. I can't put him on the other side, because then people freak out and start him over Dre Johnson. But Walter is a nice sleeper. Maybe if you're worried about Jordy Nelson not being available or something, then you could look at Walter. But don't play him over elite options.
Torrey Smith has scored fewer than nine fantasy points in three consecutive games. He looked like he was going to be an automatic fantasy start at one point this season. Instead, he has continued to be inconsistent. And as noted above, Flacco has struggled on the road.
Fantasy owners who chastised Braylon Edwards during a recent hospital visit should be ashamed of themselves for even having Edwards on their team.
ImageSpeaking of being ashamed, why did John Cena wear jorts when he took A.J. Lee out to a nice dinner in a conference room at a local Ramada? Seriously, WWE; I get the logistical problem of having to film from a restaurant. At least fake a restaurant better.
ImageLet's talk a little about Hell in a Cell, too. Here's the problem with fantasy booking; it's always better than the real thing. I'm not the only one who wished Brock Lesnar was going to rush down to the ring. Instead, we have a throwback to the Nick Patrick angle. The WWE has also made Punk seem a little too cowardly. The old Punk seemed to have enough rage to make it believable that he could take out a guy like John Cena. Cowardly heels do nobody any good.
For the record, you can submit your fantasy questions to NFL Fantasy Live, Michael Fabiano or me on Twitter. But realize, NFL Fantasy Live has 70,000 followers, and Fabiano has 60,000. Me? Just four. See, the odds are better I will answer your question, so hit me up both via Twitter or via Facebook (oh wait, I told you to stop going to Facebook). Go instead to Google+. Also be sure to catch the latest "Dave Dameshek Football Program."