Monday Night Madness
While walking through the parking lot at a Philadelphia sports bar before Monday night’s Dallas/Philly slugfest, an excitable gentleman hustled through the area trying to pawn off t-shirts.
“Get your t-shirt! Romo and Owens: Brokeback Mountain 2.” The aforementioned t-shirt sported a photo-shopped picture of the Dallas duo wearing cowboy hats and hugging each other much like their names were Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist.
As the man nearly chased my friends and I into the bar, I endured that warm feeling that happens twice a year when the Eagles play Dallas. The Delaware Valley area comes alive with a little extra juice when Dallas pops up on the schedule. Birds’ fans have blood in their eyes while interlopers who wouldn’t know anything about Cowboy history if Chuck Howley fell on top of them strut around wearing Terrell Owens or Roy Williams jerseys. However, something has changed in the last decade — fantasy football.
Eagle fans that participate in fantasy football must break bread with the enemy Cowboys. Yelling obscenities at the television while Tony Romo and Terrell Owens run amuck is replaced by an unsettling warmth that your fantasy team is one step closer to victory because you own Owens.
Fantasy football is a mistress to fan loyalty. The game’s greatest rivalries are slightly trivialized by fantasy football and the looming prospect of your rooting for the enemy. As Owens hauled in a 72-yard touchdown catch during the first quarter, my initial reaction of “here, we go again” was quickly replaced by “man, I’ve got Owens and Calvin Johnson. Who is going to stop me?”
The passion play didn’t stop there though. That long catch by DeSean Jackson for a touchdown — wow, what an awesome play. Oh wait, I’m playing against him tonight. How should I process these feelings? It’s too much to root for your team and the survival of your fantasy team when both are seemingly intertwined.
Imagine Cowboy fans in the ’80s being consoled by the notion that Redskin running back John Riggins was on their fantasy roster? It’s a new frontier, ladies and gentleman.
Fantasy football, I wish I knew how to quit you.
Ten Things We Learned in Week Two
1. Brandon Marshall is the truth: Marshall slid down fantasy draft boards over what originally was supposed to be a longer suspension from the NFL. Yet, his penalty dropped to one game and he returned last Sunday with a vengeance to catch 18 passes for 166 yards and a score versus San Diego. Only two men in league history caught at least 18 passes in a game — Hall of Famer Tom Fears and the current record holder Terrell Owens, who caught 20 against the Bears in 2000. After one game, Marshall is atop the league in receptions.
2. Eddie Guns is human: Ed Hoculi’s ill-fated “inadvertent whistle” allowed Jay Cutler to throw a fourth touchdown pass and ultimately lead Denver to a one-point win over the Chargers. Referees make mistakes, but Hoculi is taking a beating on this one. The rule needs to be addressed in the offseason.
3. LT owners, wipe away those beads of sweat: It’s not time to panic over LaDanian Tomlinson quite yet. Nonetheless, Tomlinson is perhaps on the downside of his career. He saw limited action against Denver because of a bum big toe. If you drafted LT with the number one pick, you may very well be sporting an 0-2 record.
4. Defense, anyone?: Amazingly, the season’s opening weeks featured teams that ran for at least 300 yards during a game. The Raiders hit 300 against the Chiefs on Sunday, while the Falcons accumulated 318 yards against the Lions. Also, San Diego surrendered 18 receptions in a game to Marshall, as we discussed earlier…and then there was St. Louis. The Rams have allowed a league-high 79 points in the first two weeks.
5. Rookie runners are en vogue: Darren McFadden, Matt Forte, Jonathan Stewart, Felix Jones and Chris Johnson have all flashed tremendous potential early. Meanwhile, Detroit’s Kevin Smith hasn’t been as fortunate to show what he can do. Detroit’s first two opponents, Atlanta and Green Bay, each tagged the Lions for 21-0 starts, thus taking the Lions out of the running game quickly.
6. Paging Mr. 370: Attention all Willie Parker owners (you too, Mike Tomlin): Parker is on pace to carry the ball an NFL-record 424 times. He’ll be on the injured reserve before he makes it to that number. A dose of Rashard Mendenhall is needed soon before Parker wears down. To all fantasy novices out there, running backs that reach at least 370 carries during a season don’t have a long shelf life in the seasons after. Just ask Shaun Alexander and Larry Johnson.
7. Reggie still can’t run: The good news for Bush owners is that he has caught 15 passes so far this season. However, he continues to labour running the ball. His 3.3 yards per carry will not get it done. Bush remains a number two fantasy back.
8. Larry Johnson is done: Andy Goldstein and I have been driving the “Larry Johnson is done” bandwagon for two seasons before it was the cool thing to do. Johnson’s time in Kansas City may be running out. Through two games, the former Penn State running back has garnered only 96 yards on 34 carries. Now, he’s taking handoffs from Tyler Thigpen. I’m not saying release him from your fantasy roster, but at this point he is only a bye week starter at best.
9. DeSean Jackson, Brian Westbrook owners say thanks: For the second straight year, Westbrook was involved in a controversial fantasy moment. After catching a long bomb from Donovan McNabb, Jackson tossed the ball away just a yard from crossing the goalline. After an instant replay review, the ball was spotted at the one and Westbrook scored one of his three touchdowns on the evening. Surely, many fantasy owners did not find this a laughing matter. Don’t feel bad for Jackson though. He did the same thing in a high school all-star game years ago.
10. Brett Favre + Bill Belichick = A Bad Day at the Office: Those ready to kick dirt on the Patriots were treated last Sunday to a sound defensive effort by the Belichick gang. In Favre’s last two games against the Patriots, his teams have lost by a combined score of 54-10. Also, he’s just 23-of-41 for 254 yards with one touchdown pass and an interception.
Fantasy Power Poll
Last week’s rankings are in parentheses.
1. Adrian Peterson (2) – He needs to get into the endzone. but Tarvaris Jackson is partly to blame.
2. Brian Westbrook (8) – Three scores for Westbrook in Dallas on Monday night adds to his status as one of fantasy football’s best backs.
3. Tony Romo (7) – This guy is for real, folks. Three more touchdown passes against Philly and he’s headed to Green Bay for Week Three.
4. Donovan McNabb (5) – So far so good for McNabb who has not been affected by the loss of Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown.
5. Brandon Marshall (NR) – Denver’s offense looks good and this should allow Marshall to catapult into the top 10 of fantasy receivers.
6. Calvin Johnson (NR) – Detroit’s terrible defense allowed Johnson to post big numbers during the first two weeks. Make that two games and two 100-yard efforts for Johnson.
7. Terrell Owens (NR) – Repeat after me: first ballot Hall of Famer.
8. Anquan Boldin (NR) – Kurt Warner’s reemergence brings Boldin back to the forefront of receivers. Cross your fingers that he stays healthy. A 100-catch, 1,400-yard, ten-touchdown season is in store if he does.
9. Drew Brees (1) – Brees came back to earth in the second week because of the Marques Colston injury.
10. Willie Parker (3) – Hopefully Tomlin remembers that he drafted Mendenhall.
Link of the Week
If any woman can provide a better impersonation of Sarah Palin than Tina Fey, I’d like to meet her. On a brief side note, some SNL fans are up in arms over how poorly Michael Phelps performed last Saturday. However, let me remind folks that Phelps is a world class swimmer, not the next Chris Rock. Furthermore, in case no one noticed, the current SNL cast isn’t going to exactly conjure up memories of Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase or even Will Ferrell. The writing wasn’t exactly groundbreaking either.