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Two Minute Warning: Long Live the King

September 10, 2008 | By Derek Jones | comment on this post

The King is Gone

Soon after Kansas City Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard rocked the NFL world by careening into Tom Brady’s left leg, thus causing a season-ending injury, my phone exploded with text messages from well-wishers and player haters. Messages came in from all points of the east coast; one from an excited Bills’ fan in North Jersey; another from a delighted Eagles’ fan watching his team slaughter the Rams at Lincoln Financial Field; and one from a depressed soul at a bar in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.

Bills’ fan: “Brady. Done.”
Eagles’ fan: “Yea, buddy!!!!”
Bar soul: “Oh no – the king went down – Brady hurt.”
Bar soul: “Do you feel like I do – I’m sick about him going down.”

You see, I’m not afraid to admit that Sir Brady is my favourite athlete. In fact, to honour the fallen superstar, his jersey hangs in my guest room, not to be worn again until he makes his triumphant return (perhaps actions like these are why I’m not married yet).

Just think what my reaction would be if he held a spot on any of my fantasy rosters. Brady had Kurt Warner-like fantasy ability in ’07 and crushed oppositions with one swift motion of his right arm.

Brady’s injury sent shockwaves throughout the NFL and fantasyland in a way that never happened before. Remember, when guys like Dan Marino, Joe Montana and Randall Cunningham missed seasons, people tracked game scores on Prodigy or CompuServe, not NFL.com, and fantasy football’s popularity was far from what it is today.

Now, fantasy owners (and the Pats) are left to sort out the aftermath following one of the greatest disasters in fantasy football history. Somehow, I figure that the Brady owners will not be quelled by Matt Cassel. Sorry Brady owners, see you in 2009. By osmosis, I feel your pain.

Ten Things We Learned in Week One

1. The Bengals stink: Cincinnati’s effort on Sunday at Baltimore was atrocious. If you’re not positive, go back and watch the touchdown run by Joe Flacco, which was horrifying. Granted, the Raven defense still possesses tremendous talent, but no team should limit Chad Ocho Cinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh to a combined 66 yards receiving. Unacceptable.

2. Injuries are the great equalizer: Everyone knows about the Brady injury, but other health concerns threaten to destroy teams already. Jacksonville lost three offensive linemen, including two starting guards, in the course of a week. That will have an impact on Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor this season. Meanwhile, Colt center Jeff Saturday is out and that will trouble the inside running game of Indy and its ability to stave off blitz pressure up the middle.

3. Indy, we may have a problem: Speaking of the Colts, even John Madden showed concern over Peyton Manning’s pre-game demeanor prior to taking on the Bears Sunday night. His worry came to fruition as Manning looked rusty and uncomfortable in the pocket. Interestingly enough, the Colts lined up Reggie Wayne in the slot often, not Anthony Gonzalez or Marvin Harrison. It had mixed results, with Wayne catching ten balls for 86 yards and a score. Manning had open receivers, but struggled to find the consistency which made him an all-time great.

4. Ram Defense = Fantasy Gold Mine: The Rams put forth one of the worst defensive efforts of the last 20 years against the Eagles. Sure, we’ve seen bad defense before, but this seemed to establish new futility. St. Louis allowed 361 yards passing and three touchdown passes to Donovan McNabb and his back-up receivers. Instead of bumping and challenging rookie DeSean Jackson, Hank Baskett and Greg Lewis, the Ram secondary played soft and allowed big gains constantly. I shudder to think what the rest of the season will bring their defense. Adjust your fantasy lineups accordingly.

5. The Raiders are still the Raiders: A 41-14 loss to start the season at home. Seriously? When did Eddie Royal become Jerry Rice?

6. Drew Brees is the king of fantasy quarterbacks: With Brady down for the count and Peyton Manning not himself, Brees is the best fantasy option at quarterback in 2008. Sorry, Tony Romo fans (except you, Jessica Simpson). His running game may steal scores from him. Fellow cheesesteak constituents in Philly say what about McNabb? Considering he hasn’t played all 16 games in a season since 2004, I’m not ready to commit yet. An assortment of weapons in the passing game makes Brees the man in 2008.

7. Willie Parker is here to stay…for now: After scoring just two touchdowns in ’07, Fast Willie rambled for three against the Texans. The 25 carries is the only troublesome note, but Parker is back in business in Pittsburgh.

8. Seattle’s receiving corps is snake bitten: Write down Seattle’s healthy receivers right now. Okay, I didn’t think it could be done either. Bobby Engram, Deion Branch and now Nate Burleson are all sidelined, forcing the team to sign Billy McMullen. Note to Matt Hasselbeck owners: good luck trading him. His stock is plummeting quickly.

9. Cleveland is in trouble: Facing one of the league’s more difficult schedules, the Browns laid an egg in the season opener against Dallas. Derek Anderson mustered only 114 yards passing. This season, as Anderson goes, so goes Braylon Edwards (who nearly dropped everything in sight Sunday) and the rest of the receiving corps. Next up for the Browns will be Pittsburgh on Sunday night. Uh oh.

10. Just because David Tyree pinned a ball to his helmet doesn’t make Eli Manning a great quarterback: As evident by his Week One performance against Washington, Manning yet again proved that his middle name should be “game manager.” The Super Bowl XLII MVP posted a quarterback rating of 61.1. Surely, that will improve against St. Louis, but if you’re waiting for him to turn into his big brother, don’t hold your breath.

Fantasy Power Poll

1. Drew Brees – Tossed three scores on the way to 343 yards passing; he’s the man with Brady out of the picture.

2. Adrian Peterson – I can’t imagine him falling too far on this list considering any achievement with Tarvaris Jackson as his quarterback should be viewed as Phelps-esque.

3. Willie Parker – Rashard who?

4. Michael Turner – He would have started higher, but he played against Detroit.

5. Donovan McNabb – He would have started higher, but he played against St. Louis.

6. LaDainian Tomlinson – Not a storybook ending in Week One, but he’ll be fine.

7. Tony Romo – As Joe Buck would say, “the legend of Tony Romo continues!”

8. Brian Westbrook – He’ll never get the credit he richly deserves.

9. Reggie Bush – Over 160 total yards of offense with a touchdown against a tough Tampa defense.

10. Randy Moss – He’s probably the angriest Patriot on offense over the Brady injury. He will not touch 23 scores, but he’ll survive – even with Cassel at quarterback.

Link of the Week

During the summer, I was captivated by one of the most over the top, ridiculous experiments I’ve ever seen. Utilizing Tecmo Super Bowl, someone created the greatest single season teams ever for each franchise and created a league for them. The produced, weekly ten minute segments are up to the divisional round at this point. I don’t know why he went to all of this trouble. The ’89 49ers are the greatest team of all-time. Period.

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