Real football, and it’s fantasy brother, are still a few months away. So, as a result, this time of year we get hit with stories about lawsuits against the NFL, punters getting contract extensions, minor trades, and retreads getting a second chance. As exciting as all of that is, I’ve been busy compiling some stats that I found intriguing; and that, in some cases, may prove helpful come fantasy football time. I’ll start first with the AFC East:
Back on October 28th of last year, Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick signed a fat, new, contract extension worth $24 million in guaranteed money. At the time, Buffalo was off to an exciting start, and a win that following Sunday pushed their record to 5-2 through seven games. It was all downhill from there. In the ten games after being extended, Fitzpatrick led the Bills to a 2-8 record, completed just 59.7% of his passes, threw 12 TD passes to 17 interceptions, and averaged a pedestrian 6.4 yards per pass attempt. Fitzpatrick is 29 years old, has a career 59.2% completion percentage, and is 18-33-1 as a starter. His second half of 2011 is right in line with his career performance, making that contract extension seem premature in hindsight.
Dolphins RB Reggie Bush has expressed his desire to lead the league in rushing this year. While he did run for a career high 1086 yards last year, his goal is far from likely. In the final four games of the 2011 season, Bush ran for 519 yards and 6.3 yards per carry – a yardage total that would have been the third best season of his NFL career. But those four games came against the league’s 32nd, 19th, 24th and 27th ranked defenses in yards per carry. His yardage total in those four games would have been his highest rushing yardage total since 2007. Buyer beware.
Santonio Holmes of the Jets has now played in 28 games since being acquired from the Steelers. Since then, he’s average 3.7 catches, 50 yards, and 0.5 touchdowns per game. In that same time span, TE Dustin Keller has logged an average of 3.8 receptions, 46.8 yards, and 0.3 touchdown catches. Translated to points in a PPR (points per reception) fantasy league, Holmes has scored 11.7 points per game, to 10.3 for Keller. Despite being the Jets’ de facto number one receiver, he barely out-performs the team’s middle-of-the-road starting tight end.
At the ripe, old age of 34 last year, Patriots QB Tom Brady set career highs in completions, attempts, passing yards, yards per completion, and rushing touchdowns. Brady’s yards per attempt and passing touchdown totals were the second highest of his Hall of Fame-worthy run. Yes, some players slow down with age, but it’s pretty obvious that Brady has several gallons left in the tank. The Pats’ short passing game is their run game, so Brady remains one of the few QBs that fantasy drafters can target early.
A weekend trip to visit my in-laws afforded me the opportunity to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio for just the second time. My first trip came back in 2001, when the 22-year-old version of me capped the day off by purchasing a bright orange Cleveland Browns jersey with the name “Brown” stretched across the back. Brown, as in “Courtney Brown.” As in the first pick of the 2000 NFL Draft. So promising, those times. A few years later though, and Brown was off the team, his jersey relegated to a storage bin somewhere in a closet. It’s been a long time now, and with a few hours to kill before the Final Four tipped off last Saturday, my father-in-law and I made the short trek down I-77 to stroll through football history and take some pictures along the way…
Nearly halfway through the 2011 season it’s fairly easy to identify the MVP candidates. Aaron Rodgers is the front-runner and appears to be playing on another level. Tom Brady and Drew Brees are the usual suspects, nipping at Rodgers’ heels. Matt Forte is the darkhorse candidate, leading the league with 1091 yards from scrimmage. And Darrelle Revis is the token defensive player in contention. But who are the Least Valuable Players, either by virtue of underwhelming performance, bloated salary, inflated reputation, or some combination of the three. Below, in no particular order are some of the candidates for the league LVP award through the first seven weeks of the NFL regular season… Continue reading
Yesterday, SI.com ran the story of the day: An article detailing confessions of former NFL player agent Josh Luchs. In the piece, which also runs in the October 18, 2010 print edition of Sports Illustrated, Luchs admitted to paying players, luring them with promises of fame, and other shady dealings. If you’re like me, you’re thinking, “Oh yeah, big surprise. I. Am. Shocked.” And I get that. With current, prominent NCAA players being suspended and booted from their teams left and right, this story is clearly not a big surprise. It’s literally been happening for decades. Primo players get loot when they are in college. Money, cars, houses, whatever. Hell, Reggie Bush just gave back his Heisman because of alleged, under-the-table wheelings and dealings. So why? Why am I even talking about the Luchs story? Simple. Becase Luchs named names!!! Ryan Leaf, Jonathan Ogden, Santonio Holmes. Even Mel Kiper Jr. Luchs has opened up cans of worms all over the country. Ohio State, for example, is already looking into the allegations against Holmes. Meanwhile, ESPN took a quick peek at Kiper’s alleged involvement (and promptly completed the investigation). The point is, Luchs name-dropped and people eat that kind of thing up. This is an age of tabloid journalism. Of facebook and twitter. Yesterday, SI gave us the most names since the Mitchell Report. Sure it may not all be true. It probably isn’t. But it’s still an enthralling read that I highly recommend. It’s a first hand account of cheating and it shows that players aren’t just innocent victims in the game. Often times they are the ones with their hands out. Well, according to Luchs anyway. No matter the case, the story inspired this week’s News and Notes, sprinkled with plenty of pop culture. Enjoy… Continue reading
Tragedy struck the Denver Broncos once again this week. The team had already endured the murder of CB Darrent Williams and the surprise death of RB Damien Nash in the early stages of 2007. And now, the team is mourning the shocking death of 23 year old WR Kenny McKinley, who was found dead Monday after an apparent suicide. While police suspect suicide one former teammate, DB D.J. Johnson, thinks there may have been other factors involved. Johnson contends that McKinley had too much to live for, including a one year old son; and that there is a criminal element in Denver that targets professional athletes. As of now, there is no final word. Here’s hoping for a swift, and conclusive resolution to this unfortunate incident. In other news around the league… Continue reading
This weekend, Paris Hilton took another bold step in her undying quest to remain relevant. She apparently borrowed someone’s purse (or let someone borrow her purse or something) for a night out on the Vegas strip with her boyfriend, some guy named Cy Watts. Long story short, Watts was pulled over for suspicion of DUI; and while the cops were dealing with that, a baggie of nose-candy hopped out of Paris’s purse and into the hands of LVPD. Paris told police that just about everything in the purse was hers…except for the cocaine and the rolling papers. Now she could be facing some jail time. If this had happened in L.A. they’d probably go easy on her because she’s some kind of celebrity. But this happened in Vegas. At least one celebrity could attest to the difference between L.A. courts and Vegas courts. His name of course is Orenthal James Simpson. On to some more news, notes and links… Continue reading