Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Check the blog for NFL Week 13 analysis!

The Thursday, November 30 edition of THE FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER program on is being preempted because I will be attending the MAC Championship Game to report on the success of my alma mater, the Ohio Bobcats. We will be listing the Week 13 NFL notes here on the blog, however, the same ones that we always feature on the show. Check back here this weekend and we'll be back on the air next Thursday night on the mighty, mighty STC.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving

I'm on the road this weekend in Atlanta visiting my brother's family. Hope you all had a great holiday, and for the benefit of everyone who's used to this weekly feature, we're still bringing you the game-by-game analysis of Sunday's NFL games. Here we go:

Cincinnati vs Cleveland: You don't have to be told to play any and all Bengals (hopefully, anyway), but we'll be the ones to tell you not to fear the Browns as well. Braylon Edwards popped off about the game plan like a dummy, but may be able to back it up provided he's not too far into the doghouse. If your starting quarterback is in a full-body cast, there may be worse options than Charlie Frye as he tries to rally C-Town this week.

Pittsburgh vs Baltimore: The other AFC North battle also projects as a shootout, providing some good scoring opportunities. Monitor Hines Ward all the way up to gametime to see if the knee problem keeps him out. I believe the answer to that will be "no" as of today.

Carolina vs Washington: Bad time to start Skins as the Panthers' D finally is not underachieving. DeAngelo Williams is a great start as DeShaun Foster is not 100%

New Orleans vs Atlanta: The Falcons are scuffling offensively, but this is a sleeper shootout in the making as the Saint D has not been stout lately either. Few players around the league will be as motivated as Michael Vick after Jim Mora, Sr. labeled him a "coach killer" this week.

San Francisco vs St. Louis: Who would have believed that it would be the 49'er offense coming into this game with momentum? Still, this isn't a game for any marginal fantasy starters.

Houston vs New York Jets: With so many better fantasy games this week, this matchup of up-and-down offenses is not a great opportunity for players on either team.

Arizona vs Minnesota: Regardless of what we've seen so far this season, I hope you're not dumb enough to be benching any Cardinal starters right now. The Vikings aren't nearly so compelling, although Chester Taylor is a borderline every-week starter and Brad Johnson should be able to crank out at least his trademark statistical mediocrity here.

Jacksonville vs Buffalo: Notwithstanding the nimrods rushing to pick up J.P. Losman off of waivers, he is not for real -- certainly not yet, anyway. This is not a great game for marginal starters.

Oakland vs San Diego: Beware the injury status of the San Diego receivers. With Randy Moss left as the only quasi-worthy Raider starter, this won't be a shootout like they had in the old AFL days.

New York Giants vs Tennessee: Your "Officer Barbrady Game of the Week": Nothing to see here.

Chicago vs New England: Hold back your Pats here, except Tom Brady. With the improving New England D, marginal starter Rex Grossman should be a last resort.

Philadelphia vs Indianapolis: Even without Don McNabb, the Eagles can still move the ball on the Indy defense, but this smacks of a mediocre fantasy matchup. Unfortunately, though, most Colts are always must-start.

Green Bay vs Seattle: These two teams, cross-pollinated by the Mike Holmgren influence, now have injury questions in common as well. Nevertheless, Brett Favre will be a good start if he is able to play (might be tough to ascertain that by gametime Sunday; you're lucky if you can wait longer to declare him a starter for Monday night), along with many others from both teams.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ohio State-Michigan Firsthand Report

Thanks to my dad having season tickets, I was able to attend the Ohio State-Michigan game yesterday. As promised, my thoughts on the game.

First of all, I can tell you that I have never seen an atmosphere like the one at the Horseshoe yesterday. I have been at a number of big games in my life, from Game Four of the 1997 American League Division Series (the game won by the Sandy Alomar home run off of Mariano Rivera – the only blown save Rivera would have until Game Seven of the World Series four years later) to the 1995 Ohio State-Notre Dame game to the Browns’ win in the final regular season game in 1988 to capture a playoff spot. From the moment a half hour before kickoff that I emerged from underneath the stands to walk up to my seat, I was floored by the intensity of the crowd. My heart was beating much like it was a week ago when I made the ill-advised decision to slam a can of Red Bull before a dodgeball tournament. The tone was certainly set well before kickoff.

And how necessary was that tone? Well, I believe that with the resiliency Michigan showed yesterday that the emotion of Bo’s passing would have carried them to victory, maybe easily, in their own building. But the hostile road atmosphere they faced, which was embodied by every frantic and futile attempt that Chad Henne made to communicate with his teammates over the wall of noise, allowed what was the better team to win the game.

For all the talk of how evenly matched the two teams were based on the 42-39 final score, I say that an examination of the circumstances is necessary. On a few occasions, Ohio State seemed on the verge of putting Michigan away, only to commit heinous unforced errors. Troy Smith’s interception was a mildly ill-advised pass, but was transformed into a disaster by a deflection. Doug Datish, while a strong part of the Buckeye offensive line that produced far more protection from the excellent Wolverine front seven than anyone had a right to expect, was absolutely horrific in his snapping out of the shotgun. Well before Smith lost his sky-high and worm-burner snaps for fumbles, my dad and I noticed that Smith had to field some very difficult snaps. The game was close because the Buckeyes made stupid mistakes and the Wolverines, due probably to the Bo motivation, were more resilient than they have been against Ohio State in the Jim Tressel era. Ohio State was clearly the better team, because their best efforts to give the game away were not successful, merely enough to keep Michigan as the greyhound chasing the rabbit for 60 minutes. A shallow reading of the final score should not be used as justification for rendering this game a mulligan by mandating a rematch in the BCS Title Game.

Now, I am somebody who really loves the X’s and O’s of football and breaking down the strategy and formations used in a game. As such, I was fortunate that my dad’s seats were almost dead-on in the end zone, just inside the left hashmarks. I had a straight-on, or nearly straight-on view of most of the action. Several aspects of the game seem quite clear to me from my point of observation:

The pundits seem befuddled by how two excellent defenses could yield 81 points in this game. I’m surprised that the answer doesn’t seem so obvious to more people. Both teams are very balanced offensively, and have the opportunity to establish the run and the pass equally. At various points during the game, each team was able to get the defense to play back on its heels by simultaneously establishing the threat of run and pass. No defense on its heels can adequately shut down the array of playmakers present on the chewed-up turf in Columbus yesterday.

Michigan was able to establish the run and pass with equal ruthless efficiency on the opening drive. I can tell you that a harsh realization came over the crowd as they contemplated the potential for the “Win One for Bo” factor. It’s not possible to convey just how effortless that drive seemed for the Maize and Blue. Ohio State’s response on the next drive was absolutely crucial, just as it was in the Fiesta Bowl when Notre Dame struck early. Smith made a number of precise throws on the drive, including three to Roy Hall. Had Ohio State not been able to respond immediately, the entire game might have turned out differently with Michigan’s insane early momentum. Remember just how critical the home atmosphere was to the Buckeyes; to have the crowd support negated in any way would have been very damaging.

Nobody in the country has enough cornerbacks to shut down the Buckeye offense when they go empty-backfield. Ted Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzalez, Brian Robiskie, Roy Hall and Brian Hartline possess a dizzying array of skills. Any variation of the Ohio State spread is very difficult to defend. Having been to the Scarlet and Grey Game this year for the first time ever and also the Penn State game in addition to watching the others on television, I have had more of an opportunity to see this team up close than ever before. I have said all along that if Jim Tressel could sufficiently abandon his close-to-the-sweater-vest tendencies and allow an offensive scheme that would dictate aggressively to the defense that they would be unstoppable. I believe I’ve been proven correct. The only wrinkle that I haven’t seen that I have been advocating is for Chris Wells to appear in the backfield with Antonio Pittman in the slot.

Speaking of Wells, there’s no way that a big man like him should be able to turn on the jets to that degree. He is the prototype, and how fitting that his first signature moment in an Ohio State jersey comes in the biggest game since the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. With his prototype big-man-with-speed skills being so similar to those of Maurice Clarett, maybe Buckeye Fan will be able to let go of his longstanding grudge. Eh, maybe not.

The speculation about Troy Smith’s Heisman chances should have reached its end yesterday in Columbus. He will win, by one of the biggest margins ever, not only because of his (nearly) flawless season but by the absolute dearth of serious candidates still standing.

And this Buckeye team? It is one win away from a short list of the greatest single-season teams of all time. How ironic that the 2004 USC Trojans are also on that short list, and the Bucks may well face some of the remaining players from that team in the title game. For Jim Tressel and Pete Carroll, the best big-game coaches in college football today, to meet for the first time on the game’s biggest stage and in a rekindling of the old Rose Bowl rivalry would be almost beyond belief. But then again, after watching an Ohio State-Michigan game that actually exceeded the insane hype just like the 2006 Rose Bowl did, I don’t think anything is beyond belief anymore.

Friday, November 17, 2006

NFL Week 11 Fantasy Notes

I'll be in The Shoe on Saturday for the Big Game. Prediction: 23-17 Buckeyes. And RIP Bo, a great, great coach.

I'll recap the game in the days to come as well. I was at the Ohio State-Notre Dame game in 1995 and never thought I'd see a bigger game. I stand corrected.

Oh, and also, congratulations to my alma mater, the Ohio Bobcats, your 2006 Mid-American Conference Eastern Division Champions.

Atlanta vs Baltimore: Good opportunity for marginal Ravens like Jamal Lewis and Steve McNair. For the Falcons, nobody outside the gimmes (Dunn and Crumpler -- in TE-mandatory leagues) is worth a shot.

Bufffalo vs Houston: No good plays for the Bills, as the Texans' D is improving. Andre Johnson is the only good play for Houston in a horrible fantasy matchup.

Chicago vs New York Jets: Beware the Bernard Berrian rib injury (questionable) -- check close to gametime on his status. Regardless of recent play, no Jets are worth starting in this matchup.

Cincinnati vs New Orleans: Forget what I've said from time to time. Never bench Marques Colston ever again! Go all in on Bengals and Saints for this huge shootout.

Indianapolis vs Dallas: Another all-in game. You got 'em, you start 'em.

Minnesota vs Miami: The dreary offensive display of Super Bowl VIII will be recalled here. Just the gimmes in this game.

New England vs Green Bay: Oddly, after the prediction for the last game, the shootout of Super Bowl XXXI will be recalled here. All in here as well.

Oakland vs Kansas City: The flashbacks end here. This game won't remind anyone of the AFL shootouts they had in the '60s. Randy Moss' mouth alone isn't enough to warrant a benching, but few fantasy options exist here.

Pittsburgh vs Cleveland: This looks like the field goal battle of the week. Mediocre fantasy production will abound, with Braylon Edwards being perhaps the only marginal play of any value in this game aside from the kickers.

St Louis vs Carolina: With a Monday Night Hangover likely for the up-and-down Panthers, they should fall behind and end up producing a bonus for their passing game. The Ike Bruces and Keyshawn Johnsons of the world look good here.

Tennessee vs Philadelphia: We'll keep this short and to the point: yes on Eagles, no on Titans.

Washington vs Tampa Bay: Don't play anyone outside of the Skins' "automatics" until Jason Campbell gets his feet wet. This could well be the week that the Cadillac breaks out of his year-long slump.

Detroit vs Arizona: Keep playing the Cards as better days are near. Don't go outside of Kevin Jones/Roy Williams for the Lions.

Seattle vs San Francisco: The most important story here is the health of Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander. Monitor this all the way up to Sunday afternoon. Mike Holmgren would be stupid not to give them another week off, but one never knows.

San Diego vs Denver: Jake Plummer has been better of late, so go all-in with your players in this game as well.

New York Giants vs Jacksonville: Both teams are in a bit of a funk right now. Don't go outside of the Eli Manning-type gimmes here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006 College Hoops Team Draft

This Thursday night on THE FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER on, we will bring you a unique event: our college hoops team draft. Details below with the show agenda:

9 PM EST: As per our new practice, we will start off with a little fantasy hockey update. Since the show is now following the new and improved TWO HOUR version of NORTHCOAST HOCKEY TONIGHT with Paul Teeple and myself, TONIGHT will always end with some fantasy hockey talk to carry over into the INSIDER. Ain't synergy great?

9:10 PM EST: The college hoops team draft gets underway. Here's our draft board and suggested league guidelines.

10:00 PM EST: Game-by-game analysis of NFL Week 11.

Check out our show, as well as our NFL Week 11 game-by-game notes on the blog this weekend. We'll also have a recap of the gargantuan Ohio State-Michigan game. My dad, the Buckeye season ticket holder, will be taking me to the Game of the Century and I'll bring you an eyewitness recap here.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Mike Vili's words of wisdom for NFL Week 10 football analyst Mike Vili is back, offering up his insights for Week 10 in the NFL:

Cleveland vs. Atlanta: In a week of many questionable and horrible fantasy matchups, this is without a doubt the sleeper game. Notwithstanding Charlie Frye's back problems, all Browns merit your consideration.

Buffalo vs. Indianapolis: Don't get the wrong idea about this week, because we're recommending many players, including the Bills despite the Willis McGahee injury. There are very few good fantasy matchups, and these two games just happen to be among those.

San Francisco vs. Detroit: A toss-up game that is hard to judge. Play only your traditional number ones.

San Diego vs. Cincinnati: Play the whole house here, including guys like Chris Henry and Keenan McCardell. This is another great fantasy game.

Baltimore vs. Tennessee: Another fantasy toss-up, made tougher to gauge by the fact that the totals line has been increasing through the week. Play it safe and only go with your certain starters here.

Washington vs. Philadelphia: This toss-up game has seen a steadily decreasing totals line throughout the week. Be cautious with your marginal players like Mark Brunell.

Green Bay vs. Minnesota: Caution is again the word of the day, as the Brett Favre's of the world don't merit consideration here.

New York Jets vs. New England: The totals line has been coming down this week, indicating a tough fantasy environment.

Kansas City vs. Miami: With injury questions afoot here, marginal players like Damon Huard are a stay-away.

Houston vs. Jacksonville: This is a fantasy snoozer, meriting no consideration among anyone except the every-week fantasy starters.

Denver vs. Oakland: Play your Denver gimmes, and stay away from Oakland altogether -- even the players you should not normally bench such as Randy Moss.

St. Louis vs. Seattle: Despite the glaring Seahawk injuries, play as many guys as you can in this game, including sometimes fantasy starters like Ike Bruce.

Dallas vs. Arizona: Yet another game that could profile as a shootout or a grindout. Go outside your "gimmes" with extreme caution.

New Orleans vs. Pittsburgh: The Saints should have enough offense to win, but neither offense deserves to have anyone other than the "must" players in your lineup.

Chicago vs. New York Giants: Injuries make this game a prognosticator's nightmare. Don't play anyone other than the Eli Manning-level gimmes.

Tampa Bay vs. Carolina: This is another "quicksand game" because of the injuries. Prepare accordingly.

Don't forget to tune in next Thursday at 9 PM EST for THE FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER on as we bring our first-ever college hoops team draft in addition to fantasy football coverage and much, much more.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Great Thursday show coming up

THE FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER on on Thursday night at the NEW timeslot of 9-11 PM EDT will be another outstanding jaunt across all corners of the fantasy sports world -- and beyond.

9 PM: Fantasy hockey analysis with the season approximately 1/5 through. Incidentally, this coverage will carry over from the end of NORTHCOAST HOCKEY TONIGHT, the show Paul Teeple and I host on from 7-9 PM EDT. Each week, we'll end STC's flagship hockey show with fantasy hockey coverage and carry over to the INSIDER.

9:10 PM: Here's where the aforementioned "beyond" comes in -- a recap of our groundbreaking fantasy Congress draft, complete with the crowning of a winner and analysis about the smartest picks.

9:25 PM: NFL Week 10 game-by-game analysis with our football analyst Mike Vili.

10:40 PM: NFL injury analysis beyond Week 10. We'll talk about the big stories: Shaun Alexander, Amani Toomer, et al.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Football notes for NFL Week 9

For the second time this season, I, Rick Morris, am sitting in for our football analyst Mike Vili. Let's look at who to play this weekend in terms of the marginal fantasy starters.

Atlanta vs. Detroit: Borderline Falcon fantasy players like Ashley Lelie will be worth your while; no marginal Lions except MAYBE Jon Kitna (if the bye week absolutely compels you) will be.

Cincinnati vs. Baltimore: This one will be a shootout, with the few "maybe" Bengals like Chris Henry worth a shot and most Ravens being worth something for a change.

Dallas vs. Washington: Don't drink the Romo Kool-Aid. This won't be a favorable fantasy game for either team (the Redskins because of their ongoing problems adapting to the Al Saunders scheme, the Cowboys because the very smart Gregg Williams just got two weeks to prepare for them).

Green Bay vs. Buffalo: The only marginal play here is Greg Jennings, health permitting. Check his injury status before game time, with Google News probably being the best way to go.

Houston vs. New York Giants: David Carr is back to being a "sometimes" fantasy starter, with last week's benching serving as evidence of that. But he's the only such player useful in this game.

Kansas City vs. St. Louis: This week's theme seems to be games with only one useful marginal fantasy starter. For this game, Ike Bruce is the man.

Miami vs. Chicago: The headline for this game is that, due to the putrid Miami offense and the pan-glorious Bears' defense, this is the closest we may come all year to benching core fantasy players. We're sure you know this, but we're speaking of Ronnie Brown and Chris Chambers.

New Orleans vs. Tampa Bay: This is the fantasy game most difficult to gauge this week. Perhaps you are in a situation, like me, in which you must start a marginal player like Joey Galloway. All such players merit a square "thumbs in the middle" this week.

Tennessee vs. Jacksonville: This will be perhaps the greatest field goal duel of the week. Finally, I get some value from Rob Bironas!

Minnesota vs. San Francisco: Each of these offenses has a rich fantasy heritage, but those days are long gone. In a game in which Chester Taylor is the only "gimme," this might be the most worthless overall fantasy game of the week.

Cleveland vs. San Diego: In Week 2 of the Jeff Davidson era, the Browns' offensive coordinator change will begin to bear fruit. Go with some of your occasional starters like Braylon Edwards and Reuben Droughns.

Denver vs. Pittsburgh: This is the counterintuitive game of the week: slumping Steeler O, red-hot Denver D. But Big Ben will be worth a play in the Pittsburgh Desperation Bowl (the closest they will get to a Super Bowl this year, by the way).

Indianapolis vs. New England: While few Patriot wide receivers are worth a warm pitcher of spit right about now, this game is the exception. Play all the Pats you have -- and we never need to tell you to play your Colts.

Oakland vs. Seattle: Great matchup this week for ESPN's Sunday Night Football Now on Monday Night, eh? With the key Hawk injuries, this is another field goal battle royal.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Program agenda and NBA predictions

This week's FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER on (Thursdays from 8-10 PM EDT) will have the usual bursting-at-the-seams two hours of content you have come to expect:

8 PM: Our pal Jim Kushlan from THE MORNING AFTER (heard Monday-Friday, 9 AM to Noon EDT on joins us for more analysis of our Congress Draft from October 12. With the presidential standard-bearer from the last election for one of our two major political parties insulting our troops, how will the voting climate change, if at all? Butters will break it down for us.

8:35 PM: We examine the midseason "Buy Low, Sell High" candidates in fantasy football.

9:00 PM: NFL Week 9 game-by-game analysis with our analyst Mike Vili's notes about each game.

Also, we'll take this occasion to give your our NBA predictions, with each record predicted, playoff results and major awards.

NBA Atlantic
X-New Jersey 46-36
Y-Toronto 40-42
Boston 38-44
New York Knicks 34-48
Philadelphia 32-50

NBA Central
X-Cleveland 55-27
Y-Detroit 53-29
Y-Chicago 44-38
Indiana 38-44
Milwaukee 36-46

NBA Southeast
X-Miami 57-25
Y-Washington 45-37
Y-Orlando 42-40
Charlotte 31-51
Atlanta 24-58

NBA Northwest
X-Denver 48-34
Y-Utah 40-42
Minnesota 30-52
Seattle 27-55
Portland 25-57

NBA Pacific
X-Phoenix 58-24
Y-Sacramento 44-38
Y-Los Angeles Clippers 41-41
Los Angeles Lakers 39-43
Golden State 38-44

NBA Southwest
X-Dallas 53-29
Y-San Antonio 51-31
Y-New Orleans 43-39
Memphis 39-43
Houston 35-47

Playoff First Round
Miami over Toronto in 5
Cleveland over Orlando in 6
Chicago over Detroit in 7
Washington over New Jersey in 6
Phoenix over Utah in 4
Dallas over Los Angeles Clippers in 6
San Antonio over New Orleans in 5
Sacramento over Denver in 6

Playoff Second Round
Miami over Chicago in 7
Cleveland over Washington in 6
Phoenix over Sacramento in 5
Dallas over San Antonio in 7

Conference Finals
Cleveland over Miami in 7
Phoenix over Dallas in 7

NBA Finals
Phoenix over Cleveland in 6

NBA MVP: Lebron James
Coach of the Year: Mike Brown
Rookie of the Year: Brandon Roy