Two Minute Warning: The Hy-Vee is Open
Sacrificed at Altar of Kurtis Eugene Warner
Imagine living in Iowa back in the mid-’90s, and you’re walking around in a local grocery store called Hy-Vee around 10:30 p.m. local time. While on the way to pick up some milk and orange juice, you walk past the canned foods section and notice a rather tall gentleman, maybe around 6’2″, making sure that the shelves are stocked with beets, corn and string beans.
You don’t pay him much mind at all except for a glancing thought of “wow, this guy’s life must suck.” Little did you know, that after leaving the store, that random dude piling up the butter beans would go on to become a two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl XXXIV MVP and a fantasy football deity.
Kurt Warner, who is in the process of resuscitating another lowly franchise, is enjoying an MVP season. Lost in the haze of Tom Brady, Tony Romo and Peyton Manning last season was that fact that Warner fired 27 touchdown passes in 14 games. When given an actual opportunity, he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Unfortunately though, he was saddled with awful coaches and put in poor situations to succeed, thus his precipitous drop off after a legendary three-year run with the Rams from 1999 to 2001.
Warner managed to survive years of Mike Martz, thumb injuries, being the fall guy for the Eli Manning era, and Dennis Green to reestablish himself as a force in the NFL. At 37, the closing run of his career isn’t just for the Cardinals; it’s for immortality and a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (which he richly deserves, but that’s a whole other argument for another day).
In my fantasy football experience, no quarterback can ruin and create dreams quite like Warner. As a part of the league I run, my team played in three championship games without him from ’95 to ’97 and lost all three. Upon his arrival to my keeper team in ’99, I won three of the next four titles with him either starting or on the roster. Seriously, the man represents the single greatest investment of my lifetime. Occasionally, I dabble in the stock market, but this man’s skill was a true commodity. I paid $2 for him in ’99 and he has won me hundreds. Literally, I own a few extra suits because of this guy.
Sadly though, the great one foiled me on Monday night. Up by 17 points, I faced Warner, while I had Anquan Boldin, the ‘Zona defense, and Frank Gore. Surely, I could hold on to the lead assuming the former Hy-Vee employee didn’t go crazy.
While he tossed three scores (two to Boldin), his 328 yards killed me. By the numbers, he’s the most accurate marksmen in league history and on Monday night, he was every bit the surgeon. Slicing and dicing until the lead evaporated, which it finally did.
However, I didn’t go quietly. I grabbed a three-point lead. With seconds remaining, I was on my way to defeating the league’s defending champion…and then Gore fell down at the two and a half yard line for a loss of one, costing me five points in the process. One ill-fated fourth down run with Michael Robinson later and Warner sunk my team’s battleship in one of the most heart wrenching fantasy losses of all-time. The Gore play cost me, but the yeoman’s work of the Cardinal quarterback laid the foundation for the loss.
Warner giveth and he taketh away.
Ten Things We Learned in Week 10
1. The ‘Niners have no one to blame but themselves for their loss to Arizona: Offensive coordinator Mike Martz blames the spot on the Gore play, but he should be blaming himself for calling a play that allowed Michael Robinson — and not the team’s leading rusher — to carry the ball from the two. Also, perhaps one should criticize Shaun Hill for taking 31 seconds to spike the ball after a first down catch by Jason Hill. Ultimately, the ‘Niners’ attempt at a two-minute drill turned into a bit of a SNAFU.
2. The Eagle defense can’t handle the NFC East at home…or on the road: Philadelphia’s last win over an NFC East team at home was the 2006 NFC Wild Card game against the Giants, a 23-20 triumph. Since that game, the Birds have lost five straight home contests to division foes and are getting pounded this season by their rivals. In three NFC East games in ’08, the Eagles have allowed an average of 33 points.
3. Buffalo is a fraud: After dropping three in a row, the wheels are falling off Dick Jauron’s team. This should not be a surprise considering that Jauron led only one of his teams to a winning record in his eight previous seasons as a head coach. Marshawn Lynch still can’t produce in the running game while quarterback Trent Edwards can’t do it all alone. Meanwhile, when the combo of Matt Cassel and BenJarvus Green-Ellis collaborate on a nine-minute fourth quarter drive, trouble looms for your team.
4. Jeremy Shockey is done: Can we get over Shockey? Drew Brees seems like a level-headed quarterback and he blew up at him Sunday for messing up assignments. Shockey is either injured or inconsistent. I feel like I wrote this weeks ago.
5. Adrian Peterson is back and he’s dragging head coach Brad Childress with him: Heading towards the season’s stretch drive, the Vikings ought to just turn the reins over to Peterson as team leader. He carried the ball 30 times for 192 yards and a touchdown and had to convince Childress to go for it late in the game. They failed to convert, but clearly Peterson’s intensity spilled over and carried the Vikings to a win.
6. This Tyler Thigpen fellow isn’t half bad: Kansas City is going to be a decent team in 2009 and Thigpen could be one of the reasons. Assuming the Chiefs do the right things like jettisoning Larry Johnson and adding a bit more polish to that defense, they might have a gem in Thigpen. He has six touchdown passes in the past three games and the Chiefs are actually competitive in games.
7. With the fantasy playoffs approaching, target bad teams: The Rams, Lions, 49ers, Texans, Broncos, Chiefs and Bengals are amongst the worst in the league in points allowed per game. The Rams are the clubhouse leader, allowing 31 points a contest. Don’t be afraid to make a few lineup gambles at season’s end with these miserable defenses on the schedule.
8. Coast-to-coast matchups often yield poor results: It’s been a particularly bad year for teams traveling from coast to coast. Teams traveling from the east coast seem to enjoy slightly more success than their west coast counterparts. Those hailing from the left coast are 0-13 visiting the Eastern Time zone. That trend may continue this week when the Chargers visit the Steelers.
9. Tennessee must provide balance: The Bears started playing nine guys near the line of scrimmage against Tennessee’s lethal running game. The Titans countered with Kerry Collins airing it out and throwing for 289 yards and two touchdowns. As long as Collins can throw like that, it’ll prevent opponents from sending an eighth and ninth defender to the line of scrimmage to protect against the running game. If Tennessee provides run and pass balance, it can only benefit Chris Johnson and LenDale White owners.
10. Jake Delhomme is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Delhomme’s 7-of-27 performance for 72 yards and four interceptions ought to send a cold chill down the spine of Steve Smith owners. Delhomme has been relatively solid for the Panthers this year, but that effort is an eyebrow raiser.
Bad Football R Us Salute of the Week
In this season of bad football teams, it’s time to pay salute to the dregs of the National Football League.
Trailing Jacksonville 38-14, the Lions were called for a holding penalty and allowed two sacks, prompting a fourth and 34 from the Jags’ 42 yard line. After deciding to go for it, Drew Stanton promptly threw a short dump off pass to the tight end that netted 13 yards. That’s why Detroit is on its way to going 0-16.
Fantasy Power Poll
Last week’s rankings are in parentheses
1. Kurt Warner (1) – After the Warner Express makes a stop in Seattle in Week 11, the Cards face the Giants and Eagles in a five-day stretch.
2. Drew Brees (3) – The Saint quarterback caused a few fantasy headaches for opponents by throwing a touchdown pass on the game’s final play versus the Falcons.
3. Adrian Peterson (4) – All Day should be ready to roll, but will have to get by Tampa’s defense this weekend.
4. Clinton Portis (2) – Head coach Jim Zorn called him 50/50 versus the Cowboys on Sunday, and if he’s unable to go it would put a big crimp in Washington’s plans.
5. Anquan Boldin (10) – Two more touchdowns by Boldin on Monday night brings his season total to 10. Do I hear Pro Bowl, anyone?
6. Philip Rivers (8) – He’ll face an extremely formidable challenge in the league’s number one defense when the Chargers visit the Steelers on Sunday.
7. Frank Gore (7) – Michael Robinson!?! Michael Robinson?!!?
8. Andre Johnson (5) – His hot streak did not continue against mighty Ray Lewis and the Raven defense.
9. Calvin Johnson (9) – I thoroughly enjoy how Sportsline’s fantasy news update on Johnson typically refers to him as “Megatron.”
10. Brian Westbrook (6) – He says he is not 100 per cent and it definitely showed on Sunday night.
Link of the Week
I’ve been on a real kick lately watching Mike Tyson stuff on YouTube, including his two wild fights with Evander Holyfield back in the late ’90s. However, to catch the true essence of Kid Dynamite, I’ll refer you to his top 10 media moments ever.
There is plenty more outstanding Tyson material online, however you’ll have to become familiar with the letters N.S.F.W. in order to view them. Mr. Tyson is a bit of an angry young man.
Next Week: I said we’d do it this week, but this time I’m serious — we’ll look at the top five most influential fantasy teams of all-time assuming something cataclysmic doesn’t happen to my fantasy team again (or Mike Tyson doesn’t hunt me down and beat the snot out of me).