Monday Morning Huddle
It has been a while since I have taken the time to do any extensive ink (or in the digital age, pixel ) work for my usual Monday piece. And well I thought it was time to shake off the cob webs and get things kick started once again. Now I know this piece was intended for a Monday delivery, but better late Tuesday than never. With pen in hand or keyboard to be literal let’s get to what makes football great or at least interesting;
The Impact of No Favre
Could there really be a possibility that the great one they call Brett Favre may actually have to sit out a game on Sunday. Now this is big news considering the last time Brett did not start a game on Sunday the first Bush President was in office; now that’s quite a while.
As most that follow the great game of American football may have suspected the 41-year old gunslinger was banged up pretty good on Sunday suffering a sprained shoulder. Now there have been a few mixed reports, but the gist of it is he’s injured and the shoulder injury is his throwing shoulder. It has yet to be determined and won’t be until Thursday when Favre returns to practice if he will play, but his absence from the lineup appears hardly anything to be of concern for fantasy owners.
Last Sunday when Favre went down early in the first quarter, backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson took the field in relief and showed folks and fans alike a lot to behold. Jackson had great mobility and awareness in the pocket. He also showed great confidence in his receivers and showed no fear heaving the pigskin downfield.
For most a healthy Brett Favre under center would be the preference, but after watching Jackson complete 68 percent of his throws and connect with fantasy favorite wide receiver Sidney Rice, I would think he’ll do. Jackson also gives the offensive line a little more help with his speed, quickness and mobility. His ability to extend plays could lead to some big plays down the field; which every fantasy owner loves.
No More Josh in Denver
I really don’t believe there is anyone in Denver that could say they were surprised by the move; maybe folks outside of Colorado may have raised an eyebrow. After the recent scandal of Spygate II and another umimpressive effort, the writing was definitely on the wall (more like graffiti on a bill board).
Less than two seasons ago McDaniels ushered in a new Era and borught with him a new attitude; unfortunately an attitude that many of the team’s best players didn’t agree with. In less than two full seasons McDaniels managed to trade away a franchise quarterback, an elite wide receiver, and what we are now seeing a versatile, talented, and productive running back. Most impotantly after starting out his NFL coaching career with an impressive 6-0 record, he was unable to recreate any of that magic at any point since losing the next 17 of his 22 games coached.
Enough with the bad, what McDaniels did manage to do well while on the Broncos sidelines was rejuvenate and elevate a couple of careers. It doesn’t appear to be any kind of coincidence to see quarterback Kyle Orton and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd enjoying career years when you think about what Josh did his last season in New England with Matt Cassel (3,693 yards passing and 21 touchdowns in 2008).
McDaniels departure will leave a lot of questions for the franchise to address and answer, but for concerned fantasy owners there should be no cause for alarm. The Bronco’s featured running back Knowshon Moreno has been on a tear of late averaging well over 100 yards of total offense over his past four starts. With the offense playing as well as it has don’t expect interim coach Eric Studesville to tinker with the radio too much. Except for maybe a slight more conservative approach (which could mean more touches for Moreno), I would look for a lot of the same from Orton (3,487 yards passing,20 touchdowns), Lloyd (60 receptions, 9 touchdowns), and the boys on offense.
With their defense ranked 27th overall and allowing nearly 28 points per game, if any changes are to be made that’s likely the best place to start.
The Redskins have had, to say at the very least a tumultuous season and they don’t even have Brett Favre on their roster. Nonetheless their season has not been without its’ fair-share of high noon drama. From Haynesworth to McNabb, from McNabb to Shanahan, and from Shanahan to the carousel of running backs the Redskins carry, there seems to be little inviting for fantasy owners to consider. Once you look past McNabb, Moss, and Cooley, there’s just not much left; with the exception of wide receiver Anthony Armstrong.
The rookie receiver has really made strides this season as a playmaker with four games this season with at least 80 yards receiving; including six catches for 97 yards and a touchdown last week. On the year Armstrong has caught 31 passes for 642 yards, but only two scores. He certainly has big play potential as evident on Sunday as he consistently beat the Giants secondary downfield.
In his last two games he has had 17 targets and since week 10 he is second only to Chris Cooley (36 targets) with 29 targets. After a nice performance this past week, this Sunday will be a nice test for the rook and could ultimately determine if he is fantasy playoff worthy. If the rookie should prove his worthiness on a consistent level this week, with some favorable matchups coming up with the Cowboys (week 15) and Jaguars (week 16) he could be a diamond in the rough ready to shine.
The Green Bay Packers have been utterly crippled at the running back position this season, but they don’t let that stop them from telling everyone they are 8-4 and still in the hunt to win the NFC North. Ranked 23rd in rushing this season the Packers have been going through a complete laundry list of running backs (which includes fullback John Kuhn) trying to find the answer for replacing the injured Ryan Grant who was placed on IR back in week one.
Last Sunday against the 49ers stout 10th ranked run defense that only allows 3.6 yards per carry, the Packers may have found what they were looking for; rookie running back James Stark. In his first action this season, Starks debuted in impressive fashion with 18 carries for 73 yards on the ground. It might be a little quick to jump on this ship, but Starks 18 carries tied for the most by a Packer running back in any game this season. Another impressive note to consider, leading up to the Sunday matchup with San Francisco running back Brandon Jackson was expected to be the “main guy.” Starks was so impressive on Sunday running hard and making positive yards with every opportunity that Jackson was limited to just four carries himself.
Great expectations might be a small stretch, but Starks looks like a shiny rock ready to flash some bling-bling in the fantasy playoffs.