Saturday, October 25, 2008

FDH Fantasy Newsletter: Volume I, Issue VIII

Welcome to our eighth edition of the FDH Fantasy Newsletter, as we continue to bring you weekly fantasy sports updates in addition to our usual content on In case you missed it, here are the previous issues:

^ Volume I, Issue I (September 4, 2008)
^ Volume I, Issue II (September 13, 2008)
^ Volume I, Issue III (September 19, 2008)
^ Volume I, Issue IV (September 27, 2008)
^ Volume I, Issue V (October 4, 2008)

^ Volume I, Issue VI (October 11, 2008)

^ Volume I, Issue VII (October 18, 2008)

In this week's edition:

^ NFL Week 8 game-by-game fantasy preview
^ NFL Week 8 top 5 waiver wire pickups

^ Fantasy football heading down the road to a doomsday prophecy?

^ The FDH New York Bureau Report

NFL Week 8

NOTE: Our advice, as it does on our FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER weekly program (Wednesdays, 7-9 PM EDT on, is based on helping you determine which of your marginal starters are worth a play this week. Hopefully, your initial draft/auction efforts were successful, because frankly, “playing the matchups” is far from an exact science regardless of what you will be told by other advisory services claiming to possess a crystal ball. But our weekly game notes are designed to try to help you maximize the potential of your situation. We will post this preface to the notes every week to remind you of the context of our advice. Also, each of our game previews links to the page for that game on, with statistical information and a video preview of each game.

In addition, every week right here we will provide you a link to your ultimate Sunday morning last-minute news source: Google News. Although any updates from responsible news providers are very useful, pay particular attention to those who come from team beat reporters, because they are closest to the action.


(Byes: Chicago, Denver, Green Bay, Minnesota)

Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens 1:00 p.m. RB McFadden is not a great play; you might want to avoid him if you can. His counterpart RB McGahee is a recommended play again after last week and WR Mason rates a rare start against the underachieving Oakland secondary – if he plays.

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers 1:00 p.m. With WR Boldin looking good to go, this looks to be an all-in game for your marginal starters, including both Panther RBs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys 1:00 p.m. In a week with some great fantasy matchups and some really horrible ones, this is another outstanding game. All-in!

Washington Redskins at Detroit Lions 1:00 p.m. Three all-ins in a row! Just kidding, but the Redskins do rate that, including WR Randle El, who is usually the only player we are hesitant on from week to week in this offense. For Detroit, it doesn’t go beyond the gimme of WR Johnson as usual.

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins 1:00 p.m. Given that we don’t consider RBs Lynch and Brown and WR Evans as marginal plays, the only one in this game on either side that really counts is QB Edwards.

St. Louis Rams at New England Patriots 1:00 p.m. If you were wavering on RB Jackson and WR Holt, and we have said that you shouldn’t be, you certainly shouldn’t be any more. Against a secondary in transition, WR Avery is worth a look and there’s not a Pat starter who should be on your bench.

San Diego Chargers at New Orleans Saints (LONDON) 1:00 p.m. WR Chambers isn’t a strong bet to contribute even if he does play. RB McAllister won’t be suspended yet, so this might be his last recommended start for awhile. Don’t even try to guess who to slot if you have any Saint WR2 candidates until the situation shakes out a bit more.

Kansas City Chiefs at N.Y. Jets 1:00 p.m. If WR Cotchery is able to play, the Jets are a no-brainer all-in. WR Bowe and TE Gonzalez are as close to being recommended-against plays as they can be with the state of the QB play there.

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles 1:00 p.m. QB Ryan should certainly be sitting and WR White isn’t a great bet either. RB Turner should be a constant in your lineup at this point. Aside from the questionable WR Brown, the Eagles are all-in – unless RB Westbrook’s prognosis is downgraded Sunday morning.

Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars 4:05 p.m. With the respective state of both offenses and defenses right now, this one is all-out (NOTE: The FDH New York Bureau files a dissenting argument on a player below).

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans 4:05 p.m. Even without QB Palmer, you still can’t chance benching either Cincy WR. Houston is all-in against the Bengal D.

N.Y. Giants at Pittsburgh Steelers 4:15 p.m. Pittsburgh is all-in except WR2 with the Holmes suspension (and with Moore counting as our recommended RB). The Giants are all-in.

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers 4:15 p.m. Even with two suspect-at-best defenses, there are only two non-gimme (read: non-Gore) plays worth anything here: RB Jones and QB O’Sullivan.


Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans 8:30 p.m. For Tennessee, don’t go beyond the usual suspects of RBs Johnson and White. If Addai can’t go (probably), don’t look to RB Rhodes against these maulers. Frankly, anybody outside the gimmes of QB Manning/WR Wayne and TE Clark are risky.

NFL Week 8 top 5 waiver wire pickups

1. Javon Walker: Better late than never! Walker is showing signs of life at last and he’s got more raw talent and a better track record than just about anybody else on the scrap heap right now, so that in and of itself gives him value.

2. Donnie Avery: As goes Avery, so go the Rams. His emergence is forcing other teams to play Torry Holt more honestly, which benefits the entire passing game. A rising tide lifts all boats, indeed.

3. Benjarvis Green-Ellis: Before Monday night, you wouldn’t have taken this undrafted rookie on your fantasy team over Joe the Plumber, but he ran wild when given the opportunity. With the injury epidemic in the Pats’ backfield and the need to take pressure off of Matt Cassel, anybody with a hot hand has potential right now.

4. Mike Furrey: Sans Roy Williams, it looks like this guy is right back in his role as Lions’ second wide receiver. It’s a horrible offense, but at least he’ll have opportunities.

5. Antonio Bryant: We named him a few weeks ago to this list and he’s still not widely owned. Jon Gruden says he’s likely to remain the top wide receiver even after Joey Galloway finally gets back on the field, so maybe Bryant is done being a fantasy tease at long last.

Fantasy football doomsday scenario moving forward?

We couldn’t help but take note of a recent report in the Wall Street Journal about a high-stakes fantasy football league that boasts as its participants a number of big-time wheelers and dealers. Not to make light of recent problems, but may we say it’s a good thing that they collected the dues from these guys before the market meltdown in September!

Now, while the worldwide recession is going to dry up disposable income even among the well-heeled for some time to come, clearly we have seen a milestone with a million-dollar league materializing. Insamuch as football is the fantasy sport most reliant on luck by a wide, wide margin, we can think of several other sports that could have offered much better odds with the deployment of the right system (such as anything offered by FantasyDrafthelp!), but that’s not our main point here.

Rather, this story reminded us of an apocalyptic scenario painted a few years back by talented author Mark Barnes. We had Mr. Barnes as a guest on our fantasy webcast, THE FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER, when his great book THE LEAGUE was published.

The plot revolved around a $30 million league that was formed by some super-wealthy individual players and a few consortiums. One malevolent owner decided to increase his odds of victory by putting out hits (in the mob sense, not the on-the-field sense) on players who performed for other teams in his fantasy football league.

Eventually, puzzled authorities began looking for common threads among the players to go down and the build to the climax of the story was really interesting. We recommend the book strongly.

But again, the book recommendation is not our point here, either. It’s the common thread between today’s Wall Street Journal story and tomorrow’s potential scandal involving manipulation of players who are drafted into high-stakes leagues. Gambling has long been legally verboten in this country, and since the dawn of the fantasy sports era, there has been at least a low-level debate about whether fantasy sports should be classified separately from gambling. There are definitely similarities between the two, with fantasy sports owners essentially gambling on rosters that they have created. You could certainly classify these pursuits as first cousins at the very least.

And high-stakes fantasy sports leagues could ultimately draw them close together in ways that would be unfortunate for both. Already, sports gambling lives under the shadow of suspicion in terms of past point-shaving scandals and the ever-present temptation that athletes often face. Imagine outcomes of games being determined by wealthy megalomaniacs who deploy their means to influence events in a negative sense. It’s a long ways away, probably at least half a decade, but as the industry continues to grow, it will be a possibility – and nothing would be more damaging to the hobby that we all love so much.

FDH New York Bureau Report

By Steve Cirvello

NYB's Sneaky Starts Week #8:

QB: Matt Ryan (ATL at PHI)

RB: Thomas Jones (NYJ vs KC)

WR: Jerry Porter (JAX vs Cle)

TE: Heath Miller (PIT vs NYG)

K: Rob Bironas (TEN vs IND)

DEF: SF (vs SEA)

RED ALERT: (Player coming off injury who could make an impact)

ANQUAN BOLDIN - WR: Boldin is rumored to return for Arizona's game at Carolina this weekend after suffering facial injuries in the Cardinals' Week #4 game against the Jets. If that happens, QB Kurt Warner would have another weapon at his disposal on the road against a Panthers defense that shut down the Saints last week. If he plays, Boldin would have to be a part of the game plan if Arizona has any hope of escaping Carolina with a win.

LOOKEY HERE: Team with favorable fantasy schedule over the next three weeks...


Week #8: vs. CLE

Week #9: at CIN

Week#10: at DET

Though the Browns may give them a test at home, if they can get by Cleveland, the Jags have what appears to be an early Christmas present from the schedulemakers - two back-to-back road games against two of the worst teams in the NFL. Although they will be without their top wideout Matt Jones for this stretch due to a 3-game suspension, Jacksonville's 1-2 punch running game should be able to give them early leads in all of these games. Then it will be up to the Defense to keep the opposing offenses out of the red zone.

The Ricky-O Trio: Questions for FDH Managing Partner Rick Morris

1 - Was last week Matt Cassel's official coming-out party, and will the Pats repeat as AFC East Champs with him at the helm?

If it was consequential, it was only in the sense that it solidifies his hold on the starting job and keeps the team out of any QB controversies that would be ridiculous only because there really are no other internal (or external) options. With Denver’s turnovers contributing to the boatrace effect of the game, I don’t count that as a coming-out party for any one player. My first guess when Tom Brady went down was that the team was still good enough to eke into the playoffs with a caretaker QB and that remains my guess. Presently, we’ve got New England at #10 in our FDH NFL power rankings and Buffalo at #5, so no, I don’t see the Pats doing better than a wild card at this point.

2 - Can either Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger have a bad game this week and still lead their team to a big win in the weekend's top matchup?

Can either of them have a bad game and still win? No. Can either of them have a less-than-sensational game and still win? Yes, as long as neither of them turns the ball over much. Both teams have balanced offenses, so premium QB play will not be necessary to win – but the team that gets it may well prevail.

3 - What do the Colts have to do at Tennessee on Monday night to deal the Titans their first loss of the year?

This one is easy: stack the box. Indy can’t stop the run without Bob Sanders and the Titan offense can’t do much EXCEPT run the ball – although they really haven’t had to do much other than that. The Colts must force Kerry Collins to use his horrible WRs to beat them.


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