Having been a football coach at the high school level I’m well versed in the types of things that drive a coach crazy, especially by special teams players. Jordan Todman plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but what seems like an eternity ago, he was a running back for the Dartmouth High School Indian and I coached against him.
Dartmouth won the toss and elected to receive the opening kick. They got a good return to about the 50. (This particular year our kickoff team just couldn’t tackle well, no matter what we did or who we put out there.) On the first play they went shotgun snap to future Boston College Safety Sean Sylvia who under hand flipped it to Todman who ran between future Miami Dolphin Tight End Arthur Lynch and future University of New Hampshire Wide Out Justin Mello untouched for a touchdown.
If you want to watch the run here you go. Oh the power of YouTube.
On the sideline we started talking and the one thing we were sure of was he is better than his tape. On our first play from scrimmage our RB went 80 yards for his own score and we thought we had a game. We didn’t. (I mentioned they had 2 guys now in the NFL and 2 more that played division 1 football right?)
It’s been fun to watch Todman go from a star on the opposite sideline to UCONN and then bounce around the NFL. Now though, that he plays for the Steelers, he is on Coach Hannon’s favorite team. (Coach Hannon is the Head Coach I worked for.) So the other night when Todman was on the punt return team and committed a very bad, very obvious block in the back penalty negating a fairly nice Antonio Brown penalty, that I texted Coach Hannon asking if it hurt a little more that Todman was the guilty party. He texted back that it was ridiculous. Knowing Coach as well as I do he means that it was ridiculous of Todman to commit the penalty. He didn’t need to block the guy at all for Brown to get free and so it was a mental mistake and so yes it hurt more than if it was someone we had no connection to.
Those types of penalties are what have guys that are on Todman’s level looking for practice squad jobs the next week. The Steelers didn’t cut Todman, but many more mistakes like that and he will be looking for work. And he is a physical freak, s short one, so he’ll keep getting chances until his speed is gone, but only as long as he doesn’t make mental mistakes. Now onto the NFL:64!
More bye weeks is here. Check your fantasy lineups! Get anyone on the Cowboys, Raiders, Rams and Bucs out of your lineups! Ok you probably aren’t using any Bucs at this point, but still.
|1.NE 4-0 LW1|
|2.GB 5-0 LW2|
|3.CIN 5-0 LW3|
|4.DEN 5-0 LW4|
|5.ATL 5-0 LW5|
|6.ARZ 4-1 LW6|
|7.CAR 4-0 LW7|
|8.NYG 3-2 LW9|
|9.SEA 2-3 LW8|
|10.MIN 2-2 LW11|
|11.NYJ 3-1 LW12|
|12.BUF 3-2 LW15|
|13.WAS 2-3 LW17|
|14.STL 2-3 LW13|
|15.OAK 2-3 LW19|
|16.IND 3-2 LW18|
|17.PIT 3-2 LW16|
|18.DAL 2-3 LW14|
|19.PHI 2-3 LW22|
|20.CLE 2-3 LW29|
|21.CHI 2-3 LW30|
|22.JAC 1-4 LW26|
|23.BAL 1-4 LW10|
|24.SD 2-3 LW21|
|25.TEN 1-4 LW24|
|26.TB 2-3 LW27|
|27.KC 1-4 LW17|
|28.NO 1-4 LW23|
|29.HOU 1-4 LW25|
|30.MIA 1-3 LW28|
|31.DET 0-5 LW31|
|32.SF 1-4 LW32|
- The Cowboys are looking at changing QBs from Brandon Weeden to Matt Cassel and looking at changing starting RBs from Joseph Randle to Christian Michael. None of these changes are going to change the fact that the Cowboys 2 franchise players are still out with injury. Is Cassel better than Weeden, does it matter?
- Christian Michael becomes very interesting in fantasy if he is the starter because the offensive line is still the best in the league, but there is only so much they can do when there are 8 defensive guys lined up to stop the run every play because your QB and outside WRs aren’t a threat to do anything particularly explosive.
- I thought the Raiders were going to pull of the big upset of Denver last week. This is a team on the come, they can score, and they can play defense. They have explosive young playmakers and veteran studs. Its a lethal combination and makes for a fun team to watch.
- What will happen with Latavius Murray is the big question. Has he been benched? Is he just hurt? No one seems to have a definitive answer and it being the bye week there isn’t going to be any clarity probably until they play in week 7, but maybe when they hit the practice field next week.
- The Washington loss isn’t looking as bad right now. This team can play defense and Nick Foles isn’t afraid to chuck it around. WIth Todd Gurley now in the fold this is a team that will be able to play extremely well with a lead. Can they get those leads though? And can they march down the field and score when they absolutely need to? I don’t know because they don’t have a WR who I think of as totally reliable to catch that 3rd and 5 they need to keep a drive going.
- Todd Gurley is a stud. Nick Foles is a nice bye week fill in if you are desperate and if Brian Quick is healthy then he too can be used as a bye week stop over.
- That’s a good win for the Bucs against a Jacksonville team that I like a lot. I don’t think that means this team is any good though. I have no confidence in the coach.
- I don’t really know what to make of this team in fantasy. Doug Martin is a fine guy to play in a week he is on, but he is very inconsistent and so unreliable. The WRs haven’t been what the hopes were, so other than bye week replacements I’m not using them anywhere.
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
- Does Roddy White make a reemergence now that Julio Jones and Leonard Hankerson are banged up? Does it matter for this week? I don’t think so, the Saints are so out of sorts and give up so many yards on the ground that Devonta Freeman likely continues his torrid pace.
- I hate starting naged up guys on Thursdays. So I think the only guy that I play this week would be Devonta Freeman. I’d do my best to find fill ins for Matt Ryan, Jones and Hankerson.
- Ugh, I declared last week’s Saints/Eagles game win or go home. Saints lost and so they are done. Drew Brees isn’t the same guy and the rest of the team can’t function with him not being the same guy. Plus Rob Ryan is the lesser brother in terms of coordinating defenses, even if he does have great hair.
- If I can avoid the Saints I do. If not Brandin Cooks and Mark Ingram are reasonable plays and you probably have to start Brees or take your chances with Blaker Bortles? Josh McCown? Those names don’t inspire confidence, but are putting up better numbers than Brees of late.
Falcons 34, Saints 20
SUNDAY 1 PM GAMES
- A very tough, overtime loss for the Redskins at Atlanta last week. They deserved to win that game, but couldn’t quite make it happen. They are proving to be far better defensively than anticipated, and I thought they would be pretty good to start. Offensively, they are staying within themselves, controlling the clock and when they don’t turn it over, staying in games. They feel like a team that is going to have a chance to win every week by playing ball control and defense, so when Vegas gave the Skins 6 points against the Jets, who aren’t exactly an explosive offense I jumped at the chance to take the points.
- The defense is the most fantasy relevant part of the Redskins. If Matt Jones of Alfred Morris can get 20 touches a game one of them will be, but until then it’s a fantasy wasteland.
- Todd Bowles has this team over achieving in my opinion. Defensively we knew they would be good, but offensively Ryan Fitzpatrick looks very good when he has the ability to throw to studs like Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. They get Sheldon Richardson back on defense so the Washington run game is likely to be stifled even more than usual.
- Start Marshall, Decker and Chris Ivory for sure. I don’t love the Ivory play, but it’s likely to be a game about controlling the clock and so the RBs will get touches.
Redskins 17, Jets 14
- Not an easy trip to go to Pittsburgh, but the Cardinals have been lighting up scoreboards and the were Big Ben playing (and he might) I’d consider this a likely shoot out. I expect the Cardinals to be able to do just about whatever they want on offense and be able to hold down Steelers no defesne.
- Start your Cardinals. I’m assuming Chris Johnson still have a firm grip on the dominant RB role, so maybe slow your roll with Andre Ellington, but if you are desperate he should get 8-10 touches and he has the ability to make those count.
- If Big Ben doesn’t play, will they take the reigns off of Michael Vick and let him throw the ball? I doubt it. Which means it might be a feeding frenzy for the Cardinal secondary. I don’t know that the Steelers are any good. I know they have some good players. Its why they are 17th in the ranks, I don’t really know what they, or any of the teams around them are, especially without Big Ben.
- The Antonio Brown question. In the end it’s more about coaching. Will they let Vick drop back and trust him to get the ball to Brown? I have no reason to believe they will. But he is so capable of having the best WR week every week you have to play him. Start Le’Veon Bell. That’s about it. I want to see Martavis Bryant do it first before I put him in a lineup, especially with Vick under center.
Cardinals 31, Steelers 24
- I’m sorry Chiefs fans. I feel like you deserved a better fate than twice losing Jamaal Charles to ACL tears. Look at it this way, it’s not like you were winning the Super Bowl with Alex Smith under center.
- I think Charcandrick West and Knile Davis are going to be set squarely in a time share. West will get more yards and Davis more TDs is what I think.
- Off the bye week I expect Minnesota to come out swinging, or running with Adrian Peterson. I also think they will have fixed what was ailing their passing game, or at least tried to.
- I’d start Adrain Peterson and I think that’s probably it. Mike Wallace and kyle Rudolph maybe as a bye week fill ins.
Vikings 24, Chiefs 10
- I don’t care that it took OT to beat a down Seattle team, that is a game the Bengals have continually lost in the Marvin Lewis/Andy Dalton era and this time they prevailed. It’s a building block win in a year, they keep winning building block games. This week in Buffalo will be another.
- Play your Bengals, except Jeremy Hill. He is super touchdown reliant and I’m not sure running at the goalline is the way to score against the Bills when you have AJ Green and Tyler Eifert to throw to.
- They won last week against a bad Titans team. It’s not much of a win, but a win nonetheless. Then can go a long to proving how good they are by winning at home against Cincy. Sadly for My Friend Craig I don’t see that as likely.
- Do not start any Bills. They are all hurt and Tyrod Taylor’s value is high because of his ability to run, he can’t run with a sprain MCL. And doubly don’t start any Bills if EJ Manuel is starting instead of Taylor.
Bengals 24, Bills 9
- The John Fox effect is starting to show in Chicago. He is keeping the team in games and allowing them a chance to win late, which they have done. I expect them to continue that trend this week.
- Go for it with your Bears starters this week. Its entirely likely Detroit doesn’t try very the rest of the year.
- The Lions have no head coach and it shows. I mean they have one in name, but he stinks. He was held up in Indy by the greatness of Peyton Manning, and he was help up in 2014 by the greatness of the Detroit Defense. Until he goes Detroit won’t be good again. Those questions are starting to circle around Matthew Stafford too.
- Bleh. I don’t know who to start at RB, so the answer is probably no one. Start Calvin Johnson, if he doesn’t do it this week he probably won’t.
Bears 28, Lions 14
- Raiders gave the Broncos all they could handle last week. I expect something similar in Cleveland because they are going to do their best to put points up even though Denver defense is the best in the league. DEnver should win, but getting 4 for the Browns was tempting.
- Time for a real assessment of Peyton Manning. He just doesn’t have the same arm. It’s not about power or touch or feel, it’s about the fact that he THINKS he can throw it a certain way and he just can’t and it’s resulting in bad passes. The Broncos need a running game desperately because Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders can only do so much to save Peyton.
- I didn’t see the Browns beating the Ravens off a bye week, but that says more about the Ravens than the Browns in my opinion. The Ravens are just bad. Does not mean the Browns aren’t fun to watch, but it doesn’t mean they are good.
- Travis Benjamin, Duke Johnson and Josh McCown are all desperation fantasy plays this week because the matchup sucks, but they are all good bye week fill ins in other weeks.
Broncos 28, Browns 20
- This Houston team isn’t like a train wreck because you don’t even get stuck staring at it. It’s ugly though and the lack of a QB sits at the center of all the problems.
- Start Arian Foster and DeAndre Hopkins, sit everyone else.
- I really like this Jacksonville team. I think they are a team on the rise. Their record doesn’t reflect it yet, but they are playing close and late and that is going to begin to turn their way at some point.
- Start you Jags. Julius Thomas could have a coming out party this week.
Jaguars 27, Texans 10
- The talent in Miami isn’t bad. The coaching apparently was, they have changed coaches and that can go either way, but I’m guessing it helps at least immediately, so I took the points even on the road.
- I’m gingerly starting Ryan Tannehill and Jarvis Landry. I don’t know that anyone else is worth it.
- They could have made a name for themselves if they held off the Bills at home in a game they led most of, but they didn’t. That’s not a great sign, but it’s a young team and while I don’t think they bounce back this week, I still feel there is talent there.
- I think you sit your Titans this week.
Dolphins 21, Titans 20
SUNDAY 4 PM GAMES
- I know the Panthers haven’t beaten anyone who looks good. I know Cam Newton has no one to throw to besides Greg Olsen. I’m still taking the points! Off the bye, getting Luke Kuechly back on defense against a team with a very mediocre offense, I like the Panthers to play this game close and late.
- I would start Cam and Olsen and sit everyone else.
- That’s not a bad loss in Cincy off a short week, going west to east. They played loser to the Seahawks style than I feel they had all year. Creating and capitalizing on the Rex Burkhead fumble. I still don’t think their defense is good enough to win without their offense being decent and right now their offense still looks bad.
- I’d sit everyone except the starting RB (Marshawn Lynch or Thomas Rawls) and maybe Russell Wilson, if you are desperate.
Seahawks 15, Panthers 10
- The Chargers aren’t good. They are exciting, but that doesn’t mean they are good. The defense just can’t make a stop when they really need it. Philip Rivers is great and deserves more recognition for taking that team wherever they go, but the team around him is bad.
- The Packer defense is way better than I thought it would be, so off the bad Chargers loss on a short week going to Green Bay I’d sit all Chargers. Rivers is ok as a fill in.
- Green Bay at home wins. Aaron Rodgers finally threw some picks at Lambeau so we don’t have to hear about that anymore, thank god. They are taking care of business week in and week out, hence they are my number 2 team.
- Start your Packers. Even though Eddie Lacy looks bad, he is a buy low. Hell I tried to buy medium and got turned down. No one is worried about Lacy, so you shouldn’t be either.
Packers 34, Chargers 17
- Well the Ravens stink and need to start to figure out 2016. A team that consistently drafted amazingly well and were able plug those guys in and continue to compete. That just isn’t the case anymore.
- Joe Flacco if you need him and Justin Forsett are the Ravens fantasy guys. Javorius Allen if Forsett is out.
- The 49ers are this year’s roller coaster team because one week they look pitiful and the next week they look competitive. I don’t know which will show up this week, but I’ll take 2.5 points against the Ravens because the Ravens stink.
- Frank Gore would be the only guy I’d consider starting in fantasy.
49ers 34, Ravens 30
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
- I know the “revenge game” idea seems like something the Patriots would typically ignore and just beat the opponent because they are the next team on the schedule. I feel the Colts are a little different because they cast aspersions on the entirety of the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era. I picked the Pats to have a really high number before I knew they lost their left tackle for the year. I don’t think it matters. I’m keeping the high number and 7.5 vegas? I’ll give you those points thank you very much.
- Start your Pats, including Dion Lewis and Legarrette Blount.
- The Colts have rallied without Andrew Luck to save their season. I think Luck is back this week, but I also am not sure it matters either way. The question will become how does Luck look throwing the ball.
- Frank Gore, TY Hilton, Luck if he plays are all starts. Watch for the newly signed Ahmad Bradshaw’s usage. He was waiting to sign coming off of a broken leg and was a great red zone threat for Indy last year. I added him to my bench.
Patriots 55, Colts 27
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
- I’ll take 4 points Vegas, thanks. The Giants are really only a couple of bad minutes from being in the 5-0 group. I expect them to keep getting better and to dominate the first 3 quarters enough to beat the Eagles outright.
- If Odell Beckham isn’t healthy I’m playing Dwayne Harris because it’s Monday Night, but ODB loves the spotlight and is likely not going to miss a Monday NIght game. I think you have to play Shane Vereen because I think he is going to set up all over the field with the injuries in the Giant WR corps.
- I don’t think the Eagles fixed anything against the bad Saints. I think they just beat up a bad team.
- I don’t know what to do with this team. You have to start DeMarco Murray and probably Sam Bradford, and likely Jordan Matthews, but anyone else seems like a stretch.
Giants 28, Eagles 21