Calling my shots for the second half
So, kinda funny.
Funny in an ironic way, not in a "ha-ha, that's hilarious" kind of way. And more ironic in an Alanis Morissette song way than truly ironic.
But I was supposed to do a second-half "You Heard Me" last week as the open to my Week 9 "Love/Hate." My plan for bold predictions for the second half was to start out with the Matt Hasselbeck benching himself story to show how, even with the best inside knowledge and most spot-on intentions, fantasy football predictions are tough to nail. I was going to look back at my " You Heard Me" column from the preseason with some great calls (Joe Flacco and Terrell Owens among them) and some terrible ones (Joey Galloway, Anthony Fasano). How injuries killed ones that were looking good for me (Owen Daniels, Antonio Bryant) and bailed me out of ones that probably weren't gonna go my way (Anthony Gonzalez).
I was going to talk about the fact that if we all agree on something (like, hey, Adrian Peterson is good) then it's not really a prediction, is it? At least, not one that helps anyone. The only way a prediction matters is if it goes against conventional wisdom or would be unexpected in some way. That you can never, ever, ever tell what will end up happening with any certainty. And against that backdrop, I would present my bold predictions for the second half.
But then the story kept getting longer and longer and I liked the intro more and more and well, I scraped the whole bold predictions piece, added the blackjack thing and did the Week 9 predictions. As I sent it in, I remember thinking it was pretty funny that, in a column talking about how we never know what will happen, even the intro didn't stay what it was supposed to be.
But, if you've read me for any amount of time, you know two words describe me: "fearless" and "needanintro." So, without further ado, here are 20 bold predictions (emphasis on bold) for the second half.
1. Michael Crabtree is a top-20 fantasy wide receiver in Weeks 14-17.
2. Vernon Davis is the No. 1 fantasy tight end from now until the end of the season. The apocalypse follows soon after.
3. Sammie Stroughter scores four more touchdowns.
4. Brett Favre is a top-four fantasy quarterback from Week 10 on.
5. Jamaal Charles has 800 total yards the rest of the way.
6. Matt Ryan finishes outside the top 15 fantasy quarterbacks.
7. LenDale White, Willis McGahee and Fred Jackson combine to score zero touchdowns the rest of the way. But each continues to be owned in more than 50 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
8. Terrell Owens scores only once more. And continues to be owned in more than 75 percent of leagues.
9. Miles Austin finishes the year (finishes, mind you, not from this point forward) as a top-10 fantasy wide receiver.
10. Kevin Boss finishes the year with seven touchdowns. You heard me.
11. Mark Sanchez averages 14 fantasy points a game over the second half.
12. Matt Hasselbeck averages 17.
13. Ronnie Brown will finish the year with more touchdown passes than all Cleveland Browns quarterbacks combine for over the second half.
14. Lance Long finishes the season for the Kansas City Chiefs with more fantasy points than his flashy new teammate Chris Chambers.
15. Matt Forte has 800 total yards the rest of the way.
16. After the bye, Steve Slaton has more fantasy points than Ryan Moats.
17. And Kevin Walter is a top-30 wide receiver.
18. Marshawn Lynch finishes with seven touchdowns. He currently has one.
19. I will get some of these right. When that happens, everyone will say "Yeah, but that was obvious. Everyone knew that would happen."
20. I will get some of these wrong. When that happens, people will use it as an example of how terrible I am at my job.
While I put mine in print, the truth is that we all make predictions every single day. When you draft your team, when you pick up a free agent or when you drop someone. When you choose one guy over another. You are making a prediction on what you think will happen with those guys by drafting them, dropping them, starting them and sitting them.
And while the future is cloudy, I am sure of one thing. At least one of your predictions didn't work out. Whether it's an injured wide receiver, a running back who didn't work out or an inconsistent quarterback ... you have needs. You have to readjust your predictions. Which is why we now get to the Week 10 pickups.
Don't look back in anger"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think" - Christopher Robin to Pooh, A.A. Milne.
Here are some guys I suggested you pick up in previous editions of this column. Somehow, you managed to avoid my genius, or you ran into my idiocy and picked up the wrong guys. Either way, they remarkably are still available in some leagues. Consider this a combo of obvious names and a listing of guys previously discussed. They should be picked up before any of the guys listed below them. I've listed them in the order I would claim them. As always, ownership percentages are for ESPN.com standard 10-team leagues.
Kevin Walter, WR, Texans (67 percent) is on a bye and is an obvious name, but if he's available and you don't need him this week, I like him a lot going forward in the weeks A.O. (After Owen). ... Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs (37 percent) just got some more job security. ... Ryan Moats, RB, Texans (52 percent) is clearly going to be in the mix somehow after the bye week.
What more does Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers (19 percent) have to do to get picked up? Feel like I've been writing about him for six weeks now. ... Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers (60 percent), Justin Fargas, RB, Raiders (10 percent), Correll Buckhalter, RB, Broncos (57 percent), Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, Vikings (64 percent), Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers (6 percent), Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles (42 percent), Kolby Smith, RB, Chiefs (1 percent) and Dustin Keller, TE, Jets (52 percent) round out the list. ... And by the way, it's worth noting that Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders (54 percent) is back on the practice field.
Pickups of the week"Say Baby, is there an airport nearby? Or is that just my heart taking off?"
Ladell Betts, RB, Redskins (3 percent): And the backup running back whom no one owns but is now valuable because the guy in front of him who got injured this week is ... Yeah, with Clinton Portis likely to miss this week's game, Betts is a guy I like. He ran well after coming in for Portis last week (16 touches, 103 yards and a TD) and we know a few things: Washington is committed to the run, Betts is also part of the passing game (where Jason Campbell enjoys the checkdown) and the Redskins face a Denver team that is on the road, on a short week and that has given up 324 total yards to opposing running backs the past two weeks.
Justin Gage, WR, Titans (17 percent): Maybe a bit of a surprise for the No. 2 slot on the pickup list but I mentioned him last week in the Mendoza section as someone whom Vince Young was looking at in his first game as starter. It continued in Week 2 of VY's reign as he caught four for 97. In the two weeks Young has been the quarterback, Gage has 13 targets to Nate Washington's seven. Now, I don't like his Week 10 matchup against a better-than-you-realize Buffalo pass defense (I do, however, love Chris Johnson's chances against the worse-than-you-can-imagine, generously named run defense). But, I do like Gage going forward and especially as long as Vince is the quarterback. Talk about things you never thought you'd write.
Devery Henderson (41 percent) and Robert Meachem (5 percent), WR, Saints: With Lance Moore continuing to battle injury, these guys have stepped up. I buy Henderson (11 for 210 the past three weeks) more than I buy Meachem (7 for 145 and a TD the past two) but two important things to remember here: Everyone on the Saints has value and they play the Rams this week.
Sammie Stroughter, WR, Buccaneers (1 percent): Three straight games with at least 60 yards or a score, the Bucs are definitely going to have to throw and there's something here that I like. Do I trust him? Not yet, and he's maybe not even an add in 10-team leagues. But it's a fairly shallow week, especially with most teams past their byes, and I wanted to throw him in here.
Lance Long, WR, Chiefs (0 percent): Hah! Thought I'd put Chris Chambers (27 percent) here, didn't you? In that case, you probably skipped the intro. You might want to go back and read it, it's got actual football in it and no stalkable celebrities are mentioned. (Sorry, Alanis.) Well, obviously, after Chambers' two-touchdown performance on Sunday, we have to discuss him, but I actually like Long a little more. Long used to be with the Arizona Cardinals, so he is familiar with Todd Haley's playbook and clearly, Haley wanted him (he came over after Haley became the Chiefs' head coach) and in the two games that Long has been active, he has 16 targets. He snatched eight catches for 74 yards last Sunday. He's playing in the slot (the Steve Breaston role in the Cardinals' offense) and I don't think you can count on Chris Chambers to repeat that kind of production, well, ever. Does Chambers warrant a pickup? I guess so, in deeper leagues, but Long is the guy I am more interested in, due to opportunity and role in the offense.
Alex Smith, QB, 49ers (16 percent): More for guys who need depth, or Matt Schaub/Eli Manning owners this week, but he now has double-digit fantasy points in three straight games and he plays on Thursday (remember, Thursday games start this week). I always like teams going on Thursday. Short week, defense doesn't have a ton of time to prepare, so I tend to expect them to be a little more higher-scoring than normal. The Bears have given up 28 and 29 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks the last two games (OK, they held Derek Anderson to three points in between those games, but that doesn't count) and there are definitely worse plays out there.
By the way, I should mention Jason Hill, WR, 49ers (1 percent) here, as he had four receptions for 50 yards and two scores on Sunday, his first stats of the season. I'm not sure how much I buy this as he is, at best, the fourth option behind Frank Gore, Davis and Crabtree, but it's worth noting and if you wanted to take a flier this week, here's a guy. Truthfully, he should be in the Mendoza section, but since I'm mentioning Alex Smith here and I'm all about the symmetry and crap, there ya go.
Just below the Mendoza Line:"So close. So very very close."
It's a baseball saying, but it's appropriate here as well. (As far as I'm concerned, OK?) Here are some guys who shouldn't be picked up in 10-team leagues, but for those in 12-team or deeper leagues, I like them, and you should keep an eye on them.
James Jones of the Packers now has three touchdowns in his past four games. ... Speaking of Joneses, Jacoby of the Texans had a decent game in the first game A.O. and while on a bye this week, I'm putting him in this section again. I may have to rename this section Just Below Jacoby Jones. ... Andre Caldwell gets a small boost in value with the injury to Chris Henry.
When Antonio Bryant missed the game with an injury, Maurice Stovall was the guy who started in his place. Stovall lead the team in targets with seven and caught three balls for 46 yards. As long as we are talking the Bucs, Josh Freeman does not excite me, but he is now the starter for those in crazy-deep two-quarterback leagues and he did throw three scores last week. Can't totally ignore that, though he did not look good overall. ... We've said it before, we'll say it again. If you own Maurice Jones-Drew (or want to screw over his owner), Rashad Jennings is the guy you want. ... I've mentioned Justin Forsett quite a bit, but with the release last week of Edgerrin James (after this column came out), I like Forsett down the stretch for deeper leagues, and obviously if anything happens to Julius Jones.
Finally, there was an Earl Bennett sighting. Still rather have Johnny Knox than him after Devin Hester, but he did have seven receptions for 93 yards and, as mentioned above, gets the 49ers at home on Thursday night in a short week. And for the second straight week, I'll mention Ahman Green, who had 55 yards on just seven touches against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Welcome to Dumpsville. Population: You
As always, these are not guys I'm saying you should drop, and as always, some of you will ignore that caveat. But if you need roster space, I have no issue with dropping these guys. They're good players who will have productive weeks but I feel ultimately won't lead you to the promised land, based on schedules and who else is available in ESPN.com standard 10-team leagues.
Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, Jason Campbell, Jake Delhomme, Willis McGahee, Fred Jackson, LenDale White, Tashard Choice, Felix Jones, Willie Parker, Chester Taylor, Glen Coffee, Larry Johnson, Terrell Owens, Patrick Crayton, Kenny Britt, Lance Moore, Eddie Royal, Josh Morgan, Domenik Hixon, Muhsin Muhammad, Tony Scheffler, Todd Heap, New York Giants D/ST.
One last prediction: People will have a problem with at least one name on this list. OK, that wasn't so bold.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- predicted he wouldn't have anything clever to put here this week. Nailed it. He is also the creator of RotoPass.com, a Web site that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his Cyberfriend
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