DAN SAYS EVERY NFL TEAM HAS SOMETHING TO BE THANKFUL FOR IN THIS WEEK'S START HIM! SIT HIM!
‘Tis the season for giving thanks, and I thought it would be fun to look around the NFL landscape at all 32 teams and reveal what each fan base has to be thankful for this holiday season. It’s done in power rankings order–as I see it–from worst to first; and while there are no surprises in where it starts or where it ends, the fact remains that everyone has something for which to be grateful.
32) Indianapolis Colts – Whether they select him to be their quarterback of the future or trade his rights on draft day, the Colts can be grateful that in 1989 Andrew Luck’s parents brought something into this world that–in football circles–is approximately as valuable as the Arc of the Covenant–and Indy has the map to its whereabouts.
31) St. Louis Rams – In addition to being grateful that there are only six more games left on their schedule, Rams’ fans can be grateful that when the 2012 NFL season kicks off, the best receiver on the team probably won’t be named Mike Sims-Walker.
30) Minnesota Vikings – With their season long over, Vikings’ fans can join hands Thursday night and be universally grateful that Adrian Peterson’s ankle injury wasn’t much, much worse than it really was. Also, Jared Allen is chasing Michael Strahan’s sack record on a 2-8 team, so they’ve got that going for them.
29) Jacksonville Jaguars – With nothing but the draft to look forward to before the start of the 2012 season, Jacksonville’s fans can still be grateful that Los Angeles hasn’t stolen their franchise away… yet.
28) Carolina Panthers – Two words: Cam Newton.
27) Washington Redskins – After years of ineptitude at the position, it appears that even the Redskins’ front office has come to the realization that they need to draft a QB in the first round of April’s draft; and for that, Washington fans can be grateful.
26) Arizona Cardinals – The thought of 2011 rookie CB Patrick Peterson returning punts for the next dozen or so years in Arizona gives Cardinals fans at least one more thing to be grateful for this year in addition to Larry Fitzgerald.
25) Miami Dolphins – Hey, at least you live in Miami, right?
24) Cleveland Browns – Hey, at least you live in– …oops, sorry about that. Ummm… Well, at least you can be grateful that LeBron has won the same number of championships that I have. … Still doesn’t do it for you? All right, well Joe Haden is a reeeeeally good cornerback. That’s all I have. Sorry.
23) Seattle Seahawks – We are only five months away from April’s draft, which means we are only five months away from finding out who Seattle’s next QB is going to be. Sorry Seahawks’ fans, that’s really all I have for you too.
22) Kansas City Chiefs – Chiefs’ fans can be grateful that safety Eric Berry and running back Jamaal Charles will be back on the field in just ten short months, at the start of the 2012 NFL season. Oh, and they also should have much less Tyler Palko next season. So, there’s that.
21) Buffalo Bills – Buffalo fans can be grateful that they had something to cheer for in the first two months of the season for the first time in a long time. Also, they can be grateful that David Nelson ran over to his Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleader girlfriend and gave hope to all of the average-looking guys out there that you, too, could date a smoking hot cheerleader. You know–if you’re a professional football player and everything.
20) New York Jets – While expressing gratitude that Rex Ryan has yet to announce that New York will win the 2013 Super Bowl, Jets’ fans can also be thankful that Mark Sanchez’s play has likely expedited the organizational search for a new QB. Peyton Manning anyone?
19) San Diego Chargers – If Chargers’ fans have anything to be thankful about, as their team currently sits two games behind Oakland at 4-6, it’s that this will likely be Norv Turner’s last season in San Diego. Also, they still get to live in Southern California, right?
18) Denver Broncos – When you really think about it, athletes truly are just entertainers. You want them to play well and win, but their only real job is to sell out arenas, sell merchandise and generate a buzz that stirs up interest in the team. I guess Broncos’ fans can be grateful that–when defining what a quarterback’s job really is–theirs may be the best in the league.
17) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – (In my Ron Jaworski voice) “You can not overstate the value in having stability at the quarterback position in the National Football League. Josh Freeman gives that to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; and for that, Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ fans can be grateful.”
16) Philadelphia Eagles – With a playoff berth unlikely, the only thing Eagles’ fans can be grateful for this holiday season is that there won’t be any “Dream Team” talk heading into next season. Also, LeSean McCoy is really, really good and hasn’t complained about his contract… yet.
15) Oakland Raiders – In addition to being grateful that the team has yet to trade their 2013 first round pick, Raiders’ fans can be grateful that they play in the AFC West, where the weekly personification of mediocrity can still get you into the playoffs every season.
14) Tennessee Titans – Hey, at least Chris Johnson hasn’t held a press conference to announce that he no longer cares about football, right? Even Lindsay Lohan thinks it’s outrageous how quickly his career has gone down the toilet after one big payday.
13) Cincinnati Bengals – Andy Dalton and A.J. Green have given Bengals’ fans plenty to be grateful for this holiday season, but perhaps the most astonishing part of Cincy’s surprising season is that Pacman Jones hasn’t been arrested since July. The times, they are a-changin’.
12) Houston Texans – With linebacker Mario Williams and QB Matt Schaub lost for the season, you would think Texans’ fans don’t have much to be grateful for at this point; but at 7-3, fans should just be grateful that their team looks poised to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. And if they don’t, Matt Leinart should, at least, provide great comic relief down the stretch.
11) New York Giants – If nothing else, Giants’ fans should be grateful that it only took New York media outlets eight seasons to realize that you can’t spell the word “elite” without the letters E-L-I. Somehow, though, it only took the same group one day to beat that dead horse directly into the ground.
10) Dallas Cowboys – In addition to discovering hidden-gem DeMarco Murray this season, Cowboys’ fans can be grateful that they play the Dolphins this year on Thanksgiving. Oh, and also be grateful that the giant TV suspended above the playing field hasn’t fallen down yet.
9) Atlanta Falcons – (Jaworski voice again) “I mentioned this earlier in reference to Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but let me just reiterate that you can not overstate the value of having stability at the quarterback position in the National Football League. That’s exactly what the Atlanta Falcons have in Matt Ryan – or as I like to call him, “Matty Ice” – and he’s given the Atlanta Falcons’ fans a lot to be grateful for this holiday season.”
8) Chicago Bears – Love him or hate him–the loss of Jay Cutler is a big blow to the Bears for the rest of the season; but if nothing else, Chicago fans can still be grateful that Matt Forte hasn’t taken a page out of DeSean Jackson’s playbook and undermined his team while worrying about his impending free agency.
7) Detroit Lions – Somewhat lost in the shuffle of how dominant their defensive line is and how great Calvin Johnson has been this season is the fact that Lions’ fans have (so far) had their one wish for the season come true–Matt Stafford staying healthy. As football fans and fantasy football players, I think we are all grateful for that.
6) New England Patriots – Belichick and Brady. Brady and Belichick. In whichever order you thank them, Patriots’ fans, don’t forget to express your gratitude towards team doctor Thomas Gill, who apparently performed some sort of medical magic while repairing Wes Welker’s ACL in February of 2010.
5) Pittsburgh Steelers – Perhaps the thing Steelers’ fans should be most grateful for is that they don’t necessarily need to play the Ravens again in order to make it to the Super Bowl.
4) Baltimore Ravens – Perhaps the thing Ravens’ fans should be most grateful for is that they don’t necessarily need Joe Flacco to win them a single game in order to make it to the Super Bowl.
3) New Orleans Saints – Anytime you can score 62 points on an NFL team (and I use that term very loosely, Indianapolis) the fan base is going to be very grateful for the offense; but I think Darren Sproles, in particular, deserves an extra turkey leg this Thanksgiving. He, after all, turned out to be the player Saints’ fans hoped Reggie Bush would become.
2) San Francisco 49ers – The obvious recipient of 49ers’ fans gratitude has been Jim Harbaugh – and rightfully so – but don’t forget about Alex Smith. He may not be sexy (even though he kind of looks like Ryan Gosling) but he gets the job done. He probably won’t ever live up to the expectations that come with being the #1 overall pick, but 49ers’ fans–if I had told you on draft day that he would be leading a 9-1 team staring straight at a first round bye in the playoffs, would you really care that you could have drafted Aaron Rodgers? … All right, maybe that wasn’t the best way to go with the argument, but you get the point.
1) Green Bay Packers – Thursday night, Packers’ fans, when you all hold hands and tell your loved ones about the 10-0 team for which you are grateful, don’t forget to individually thank the 23 teams that passed on Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 NFL Draft. Oh, and Minnesota passed on him two times to select Troy Williamson and Erasmus James, so make sure you thank your hated rivals twice.
Now before we get into the Week 12 START HIM! SIT HIM! it’s time to look back at Week 11 and see how I did:
QB Carson Palmer - Projected * 268 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT (16 Points)
Actual * 164 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 1 rushing TD (16 Points)
Palmer’s saving grace was a one-yard TD-plunge that elevated his fantasy stat line from “acceptable” to “respectable.” Nice effort from Palmer, but with a tough matchup this week against Chicago, he falls back off the fantasy radar.
RB Marshawn Lynch - Projected * 88 yards, 1 TD (14 Points)
Actual * 88 yards, 1 TD (14 Points)
What I am most grateful for this holiday season is that I finally had one perfect projection before the guys at Back Sports Page got rid of me. Thanks, Marshawn!
WR Denarius Moore - Projected * 83 yards, 1 TD (14 Points)
Actual * 14 yards, 0 TD (1 Point)
And, with that, I come crashing back down to earth. Thanks, Denarius!
TE Benjamin Watson - Projected * I just think he'll score (6+ Points)
Actual * 18 yards, 0 TD (1 Point)
Did he score? No. Did he have 60+ yards receiving? No. Not even close. It’s safe to say that I’m 0-1 in Tight End Roulette so far.
Giants' Defense - Projected * 24 points allowed, 5 sacks, 2 turnovers (11 Points)
Actual * 17 points allowed, 1 sack, 3 turnovers (8 Points)
The Giants may have lost the game, but their defense did enough to reward the owners who stuck with them last week. They didn’t sack Vince Young as many times as you may have thought, but they intercepted him three times and held the Eagles to 17 points. Not quite great, but certainly good enough for the fantasy football win.
QB Tim Tebow - Some Hideous Amalgamation Of Statistics That Result In (9 Points)
Actual * 104 yards passing, 0 TD, 0 INT, 68 yards rushing, 1 TD (16 Points)
Infuriating. That’s really the only word I have for this pick.
On a 3rd and 4 on the Jets’ 20 yard line late in the game, Tebow was sitting on eight fantasy points, and I was feeling terrific about this pick. Then, New York comes on an all-out blitz that flushed Tebow out of the pocket and allowed him to somehow rumble into the end zone for a game-winning score. With it came eight more fantasy points; thus killing my bold prediction that he would be held under ten points.
Et tu, Tebow?
RB Shonn Greene - Projected * 65 total yards, 0 TD (6 Points)
Actual * 14 total yards, 0 TD (1 Point)
Greene was hurt early in the game after only three carries and fourteen yards, but it should be painfully clear at this point that he isn’t an every-week fantasy starter. Bench him if you can afford to, but don’t keep running him out there expecting him to finally figure it out. He simply isn’t a high-end talent.
WR Eric Decker - Projected * 43 yards, 0 TD (4 Points)
Acutal * 0 yards, 0 TD (0 Points)
Zero catches for zero yards and zero touchdowns. Also known in fantasy circles as "A Chad Ochocinco".
TE Vernon Davis - Projected * I just don't think he'll score (Sub-6 Points)
Actual * 67 yards, 1 TD (12 Points)
I am actually starting to think that if I didn’t have to pick a random tight end that would score and one random tight end that wouldn’t score each week I would actually have a pretty respectable record. Alas, I do, and I don’t.
Bills' Defense - Projected * 27 points allowed, 2 sacks, 1 turnover (4 Points)
Actual * 35 points allowed, 1 sack, 0 turnover (1 Points)
If Matt Moore completes more than 66% of his passes against your defense for three TDs without throwing an interception, it’s safe to say you need work on that side of the ball. Do not start the Bills’ defense in fantasy until 2012 at the earliest.
Well, that concludes another week of 6-4 picks; better known in fantasy circles as “A Dan LaLonde”.
On to Week 12!
QB Matt Hasselbeck – Projected * 256 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT (16 Points)
The one caveat here is Hassebeck’s health. He hasn’t been cleared to play yet in this game due to an elbow injury sustained last week, but facing a depleted Buccaneers’ defense this weekend should give whichever QB is under center plenty for which to be thankful. Make sure to check back before game time to see if Hasselbeck or Jake Locker gets the start, but if it’s Hasselbeck, you want to get him in your lineup, because he could put up huge numbers as Tennessee’s coaching staff further reduces carries for ‘The Artist Formerly Known As Chris Johnson.’
QB Joe Flacco – Projected * 189 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT (9 Points)
Listen, this is a terrific week for QBs. I count fourteen that are must-starts in Week 12, and I sincerely hope no one is contemplating starting Flacco, but if you are, please don’t.
The Harbaugh Bowl figures to be a low-scoring affair Thursday night, and there are simply better options out there. Even if you don’t have Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees you can start a better QB than Flacco. Guys like Hasselbeck, Josh Freeman, Colt McCoy, and the immortal Curtis Painter are better plays this week. Leave Flacco on your bench or the waiver wire and let’s move on.
RB Toby Gerhart – Projected * 64 yards, 1 TD (12 Points)
Simply as a flex-option. He’s getting the nod this week in place of Adrian Peterson, and while he probably won’t make Vikings’ fans forget about #28 anytime soon, he does a serviceable job and can more than hold his own on the goal line. Assuming they get inside the two-yard line at least once, Gerhart should score this weekend, and that’s good enough for a flex-option.
RB Reggie Bush – Projected * 74 total yards, 0 TD (7 Points)
As a flex-option, maybe; but he’s getting RB1 consideration this week and that’s simply not right. Dallas has a strong rush-defense, and Bush isn’t big enough to wear them down over the course of the game. His value is tied to whether or not he will score, and because I’m betting Miami will be down for the majority of the game, I think Bush’s touches will be limited. If you have to start him–go for it, but temper your expectations.
WR Percy Harvin – Projected * 87 total yards, 1 TD (14 Points)
With Peterson slated to miss the game, look for Minnesota to get creative in how they use Harvin this weekend. He figures to see plenty of carries out of the backfield, and will be used in the slot for the remainder of the game. The Vikings have ignored Harvin for much of the season, but with Peterson out, Harvin’s playmaking ability should stick out like a sore thumb this Sunday in Atlanta.
WR A.J. Green – Projected * 43 yards, 0 TD (4 Points)
In his first NFL game, Green was given the unenviable task of getting open against Joe Haden on the road in Cleveland. Haden shut Green down the entire game; holding the rookie to just one catch. However, that one catch happened to be a 41 yard TD reception where Cincy caught Cleveland napping on a quick-snap while they were still in a defensive huddle. I’m betting that Green won’t be so lucky this time around, and I’m sitting him this week.
Also, Green has been slowed by a knee injury and may not play this week. If he doesn’t play, then I’ll project the same stats for Stevie Johnson, making him the fifth recipient in 2011 of the, “I don’t know who to recommend as a SIT this week, so I’ll just take the guy Darrelle Revis is covering!” award.
TE Kellen Winslow – Projected * I just think he’ll score (6+ Points)
Did you know that the word “karaoke” means, “empty orchestra” in Japanese?
TE Heath Miller – Projected * I just don’t think he’ll score (Sub-6 Points)
Did you know that the elephant is the only mammal with four knees?
Redskins’ Defense – Projected * 17 Points allowed, 3 sacks, 3 turnovers (11 Points)
It’s probably not a good sign that I’m genuinely excited for the Redskins-Seahawks game this Sunday. Usually–just like everyone else–I’m excited for good QB play, solid defenses and all-around good teams to square off.
But not this week. Not in Seattle.
With the tag-team quarterback tandem of Charlie Whitehurst and Tarvaris Jackson slated to do battle with Rex Grossman and John Beck, I’m genuinely excited to see if the defenses will outscore the offenses.
When you have that type of incompetency at the most important position in sports, I think it’s safe to say that literally anything is possible. Regardless, I’m starting either defense in the game and am just going to sit back and watch the blooper-reel unfold before my eyes in real-time.
Tennessee Titans – Projected * 27 points allowed, 2 sacks, 1 turnover (6 Points)
(I’ll let Jaws take us into the holiday weekend)
“I’ll tell you what–I’m really excited for this matchup here between the Tennessee Titans and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have stability at the quarterback position in Josh Freeman, as well as a real BEAST in the backfield in LeGarrette Blount. The Tennessee Titans figure to have their hands full with this group, and I wouldn’t be surprised if an old-fashioned SHOOTOUT broke out in western Florida on Sunday afternoon!”
Good luck to everyone this week, and that goes double for the Indianapolis Colts as they try to avoid being relegated to the CFL.
START HIM! SIT HIM! Season Record: 61-49
Follow me @Dan_LaLonde where I wonder aloud what words featuring the letters E-L-I that Giants’ fans came up with other than “elite” to describe their quarterback’s performance on Sunday Night.