Are You For Real?: Randle El, McCown, Brown
So here we are, face to face. A couple of silver spoons. It's been awhile, eh? Hector and Victor, reunited under one banner, though we've yet to agree what color this banner will be. OK, we'll spare you the "we're so glad to be back" routine and jump to what you came here for: pictures of Lisa Guerrero in Playboy.
Uh, no. That would be Victor's other Are They for Real column.
Instead, we'll discuss some names that might be flying off the shelves in your league this week. Wide receivers who set career highs in scoring, running backs who did the most with their 20 carries and quarterbacks who might have played their way into a starting spot. Do you want them? Are they worth dumping one of your draft picks for?
Let's be honest. Randle El has been on everyone's collective radar screen since he played both football and hoops for Indiana back in the late '90s. He had an instantly recognizable (though widely misspelled) name and really tugged at our heartstrings -- the little man from the little school who ran and passed for 40 million yards in college and should have won the Heisman and then had a Disney movie based on his life, which would then go directly to DVD.
But something happened on his way to instant success in the NFL -- the Steelers had so much fun with the Kordell Stewart Experiment that they thought they'd convert Randle El to receiver (sticking him behind Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress on the depth charts) and bring him into the spotlight for the occasional trick play. The result? Randle El never amassed more than 601 receiving yards in four seasons with the Steelers, then totaled just 351 yards with the Redskins in 2006.
On Sunday, Randle El had five catches for 162 yards, which begs the question: Is he new quarterback Jason Campbell's new favorite target, or was this performance just an opening-week fluke?
HECTOR: First things first, Vic. Let's just get rid of that 54-yard Hail Mary catch Antwaan nearly had at the end of regulation and consider this a four-catch, 108-yard day. Not too shabby, but nothing to go calling Canton about, either. With the Clinton Portis/Ladell Betts combo bringing opposing defenders into the box, Randle El is going to get his share of deep routes in man coverage, and more than a few will result in flying chains. But let's not get to thinking this will be an every-week occurrence, compadre. Randle El could just as easily get shut out as get triple-digit yardage, and now that the proverbial cat is out of the bag, defenses aren't about to let him roam free.
VICTOR: I will take your supposition one deeper, Hector, and bring up what I consider to be the two most obvious impediments to Randle El's weekly success: Santana Moss and Brandon Lloyd. And there's also "sub-threat" James Thrash. There aren't going to be enough receiving yards to go around each week. I'm not as concerned about Lloyd -- or Thrash -- as I am about Moss, who has had much more success than Randle El in the past. I'd be cautious with Randle El and not expect him to go for more than 40 yards per week and a touchdown every few weeks. Anything above that is just cheddar cheese on top of the potato, my friend.
HECTOR: So in other words, for those of you whose universal translator is out for repair, what he's trying to say is "I agree with Hector." It usually takes until Week 14 for him to admit that. How progressive of you, Vic.
All that "Mike Williams reuniting with Lane Kiffin" talk was obviously just a front for the real acquisition in that draft-day trade between Oakland and Detroit: Josh McCown.
McCown, you might remember (or, most likely, might not remember), started 13 relatively forgettable games for the Cardinals juggernaut in 2004, throwing for 2,511 yards, 11 TDs and 10 interceptions. He is also the brother of Luke McCown, a backup quarterback for the Buccaneers, so be careful when you go back in your fantasy memory banks to try to figure out which middling NFL quarterback we are talking about (and this is without even considering Cade McNown, presidential candidate John McCain, "Simpsons" character McBain or even Conrad Bain of "Diff'rent Strokes," for that matter).
In Week 1, McCown the Elder was 30-for-40 for 313 yards, two touchdowns and one mysteriously sprained finger. Coach Kiffin had hinted that he may rotate the quarterbacks before McCown got hurt, so we could see Daunte Culpepper enter, stage right, and usurp the job in Raider Nation. Still, McCown saw only 10 passes not hit the hands of his receivers, and he enters Week 2 with a 93.0 QB rating, a good 20 points higher than his career mark. Can he repeat that? Will he even be given the chance?
HECTOR: Funny how you play loosey-goosey with the facts, Vic. Where is the mention of the two picks and three fumbles? Sure, he didn't lose all the fumbles, but if you mess with the bull, you'll eventually get the horns. It's hard for me to seriously consider a quarterback whose head coach is young enough to have been his resident advisor in college. The Raiders' quarterback position reminds me of "Logan's Run" (1976). Daunte is 30 and has already entered the Carousel. Josh is just two short years away from joining him in oblivion, since by then JaMarcus Russell will be ready to take his turn at the helm for at least a good six years. Find your sanctuary elsewhere, friend.
VICTOR: Hey, I call 'em as I see 'em, Hector. And although I'm just as wary about McCown as you are, you can't argue with the numbers. Yes, he threw a couple picks, but who doesn't? (Note from Victor: Before you nerds start a "conversation" about the quarterbacks who didn't throw an interception this week, realize that I was using hyperbole to make a point). My concern here is that Kiffin won't be afraid to rotate in or call upon Culpepper and -- eventually -- Russell. Even if McCown is playing well, we've seen this movie before, most recently with Kurt Warner and Matt Leinart last season.
HECTOR: Hyperbole, Vic? I would have guessed you thought that word meant "a really big bowling alley." Who knew? Kiffin is a young coach, Vic, but he wasn't born yesterday. If McCown continues to throw for 300-plus yards per week, he's not going to sit him. Remember, all Kid Kiffin must do is win four games this year, and he's the next John Madden in Al Davis' book. But as a fantasy owner, I'm not happy with a helmsman who could be yanked off the field and given a red shirt after one or two quarters of mediocrity.
It was all but assured that Chris Brown and LenDale White would be battling it out for carries in Week 1. And then Week 1 actually happened. White and Brown did indeed split the carries but with markedly different results: White carried the ball 18 times for 66 yards; Brown carried the ball 19 times for 175 yards.
So it was Brown, with the candlestick in the libr-- er, wait ... it was Brown, with the yardage, but still only half the carries. But who will it be next week? Or will we be seeing -- in a new parent's diaper-changing nightmare -- more of Brown and less of White?
HECTOR: Fantasy owners must have collectively gotten together and opted for the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind. How quickly we have forgotten that it was only two short years ago (2005) that Brown gained more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage for the second straight season. Yes, he had a lost season last year when Travis Henry led the Tennessee waltz, but there's no reason to think he won't get back to being a 1,000-yard rusher again. Heck, he's nearly 20 percent there already! He's probably a free agent in your league, but you should rectify that forthwith, good sir.
VICTOR: Look, it's Chris Brown, the guy with a checkerboard injury history who didn't even re-sign with the team till mid-June. I mean, he wasn't on a fantasy owner's radar on draft day in standard leagues. And the future of the team is not Chris Brown; it's LenDale White. I can't see the team giving Brown the torch and sitting White indefinitely. Even if they did give Brown the torch, he'd probably fall and suffer some sort of leg injury. At the least, he won't do much in Week 2 against a Colts defense that shut down the dual-pronged attack of Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister. And all bets are off after that.
VICTOR: And with that, it is time for your beloved Hector and Victor to leave you. Have any parting words, old chum?
HECTOR: Old chum. Coming from a whale like you? I have no more to say. Until next week, then...