Another week has nearly come to a close here in the NFL, and with it, as per usual, has come another batch of story lines to examine. In Whooley’s Weekly Words, I, Bruno Boys Whooley, tackle just a few of the more interesting items to catch my eye from the weekend. This week, I’ll be discussing the New Orleans Saints’ back field, the return of the 2007 Tom Brady, and the sensational play of Matt Schaub.
The Bell Tolls for Thomas?
Just as fantasy owners got a reprieve thanks to the confusion around the Baltimore Ravens’ backfield finally clearing up, a new three-headed monster has come onto the scene in the form of the New Orleans Saints. In Mike Bell, Reggie Bush, and Pierre Thomas, the Saints feel they have three solid backs they can turn to on any given Sunday to get the job done, much to the chagrin of fantasy owners. So, who’s who in this backfield?
It appears that Bell and Thomas will be the team’s go-to-guys between the tackles, a role they both occupied while the other was injured earlier in the season. Bell performed admirably in weeks one and two with Thomas out, going for 229 rush yards and a score, while Thomas tallied 212 rushing yards and three scores during Bell’s absence in weeks three and four. The question, though, becomes who’ll get more work with both active.
Sadly, week six shed little light onto the situation as both runners accumulated 15 rushes. With 72 yards on those 15 rushes, Thomas edged out Bell who totaled just 39 yards; however, it was Bell that had the score between the two.
Fantasy owners (and experts alike) will have difficulties determining the value of both Bell and Thomas heading into weekend contests from here on out. With that being the case, both RBs can be considered high-end RB3 types. If you have to roll the dice with either, just hope you don’t crap out.
As for Bush, his role is not effective by the presence of either Bell or Thomas. Bush has a niche he’s carved himself into, and he’ll continue to occupy that niche. He continues to be a matchup type flex option moving forward.
Bombs Away for Brady
While solid and economical in the Patriots’ first five games, Brady had yet to play up to his fantasy owners expectations as his highest point total in any contest was just 21 fantasy points, which he accumulated in week one against the Buffalo Bills. In fact, through five weeks of play, Brady had just six passing TDs to go along with four TOs.
But, then came week six. Playing in a winter wonderland in New England, Brady provided his fantasy owners with an early Christmas present as he threw for 380 yards and six TDs. Yes, Brady matched his season output for throwing scores in less than three quarters of play on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.
Brady’s big day wasn’t unexpected as the Titans’ ranked 31st against the pass going into the contest, leading many to believe (the Bruno Boys included) that Brady would post his best game yet. Still, I’m not sure many could have forseen just how good Brady would be.
In all honesty, had Brady not started the second half (a move that I think Bill Belichick should have made with the Patriots up 45-0), I believe his owners would have been more than pleased with a 300+ yard and five-TD outing. Still, you won’t hear any of them complain about Belichick letting Brady get a little extra “practice” time.
This could be the day Brady needed in order to return to his other worldly self. If that’s the case, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’, who, like the Titans, have also had their troubles against the pass, better take heed.
Schaub Stunning Yet Again!
Heading into the season, the Bruno Boys alerted all of you out there in Bruno Boys Nation not to sleep on Houston Texans’ quarterback, Matt Schaub. Yes, durability concerns surrounded him as he played in just 11 games in both the 2007 and 2008 seasons, but as we stated, when on the field, he is one of the best quarterbacks out there for fantasy purposes. And, so far, Schaub hasn’t disappointed.
Following a poor week one outing in which he threw for just 166 yards and one INT, Schaub has been on fire. In five games, the Texans’ QB has thrown for 1,644 yards to go along with 14 TDs to just five TOs. That’s an average of 328.8 passing yards and 2.8 passing scores a contest. Now, tell me, what fantasy owner wouldn’t want that type of production in their lineup.
Schaub is benefiting big time from two distinct features of the Texans’ offense. For starters, he has talented options galore in Houston to chuck the football to.
Not only does he have one of the best WRs in the game in Andre Johnson to target, but the Texans’ roster also includes solid No. 2 and No. 3 receivers in the forms of Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones, a sure-handed tight end in Owen Daniels, and an excellent pass catching running back in Steve Slaton for Schaub to turn to in times of need.
Sure, defenses may be able to hold one or two of Schaub’s options in check, but that still leaves three other places for the man to look.
The second item currently benefiting Schaub is the Texans’ lack of a running game. While Slaton is excelling as a pass catcher, he has had his struggles on the ground to start the season. In fact, Slaton’s 282 receiving yards outshine his 274 rushing yards.
With the ground game sputtering, head coach Gary Kubiak has had no qualms about placing the outcome of the game on Schaub’s shoulder. As a result, Schaub is averaging 36.5 pass attempts per contest—a very healthy number.
Should Schaub play a full 16 games in 2009, the likes of Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Aaron Rodgers better watch out because they’ll be getting more company atop the fantasy leader board.
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