Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Twi-Night Doubleheader - Week 25

Fantasy Players of the Week
  • AL Hitter: Mike Aviles, 2B/SS, Royals (.313, 9 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 SB) - It was so nice of Aviles to stop by again. His 2009 was horrible, but he seems to have put that behind him, and he's having a nice season. Wouldn't count on many multi-homer weeks out of him, though.
  • NL Hitter: Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pirates (.481, 6 R, 3 HR, 15 RBI) - Between Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates have a couple of young guys talented enough to have long, productive careers...for the Red Sox and Angels.
  • AL Pitcher: Matt Thornton, RP, White Sox (2 W, 1 SV, 8 K, 0.00/0.20) - I relish the rare opportunity to highlight a reliever in this feature, particularly when it's not a true closer. Thornton is one of baseball's best relievers, and he's having a great season...again. I'd be surprised if he didn't at least get a chance at the closer's gig next year in Chicago, or elsewhere.
  • NL Pitcher: Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies (2 W, 9 K, 1.69/0.69) - Halladay has been the most consistently effective pitcher this season. We've seen bursts out of Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Carlos Zambrano, and Max Scherzer, but all season long, it's been Halladay. I'm glad he'll finally get a chance to pitch in the postseason.
Preliminary Keeper Lists

As a favor to all of my fellow owners, I've decided to put together my personal assessment of each team's top 8 players, in order. Granted, this can change over the course of an offseason, based on team changes and just changes in my opinions, but this is my current evaluation. Use this information as you will.

Those Guys
  1. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees
  2. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Padres
  3. Josh Johnson, SP, Marlins
  4. Mike Stanton, OF, Marlins
  5. Shane Victorino, OF, Phillies
  6. Jonathan Sanchez, SP, Giants
  7. Daniel Hudson, SP, Diamondbacks
  8. Bobby Abreu, OF, Angels
Columbus DamKnights
  1. Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees
  2. Joe Mauer, C, Twins
  3. Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins
  4. Michael Young, 3B, Rangers
  5. Torii Hunter, OF, Angels
  6. Corey Hart, OF, Brewers
  7. Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians
  8. Travis Wood, SP, Reds
Akron Pronks
  1. Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants
  2. Jayson Werth, OF, Phillies
  3. Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Indians
  4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B, Red Sox
  5. Chris B. Young, OF, Diamondbacks
  6. Victor Martinez, C, Red Sox
  7. Brian Roberts, 2B, Orioles
  8. Drew Stubbs, OF, Reds
Cleveland Enforcers
  1. Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Rockies
  2. Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers
  3. Jose Reyes, SS, Mets
  4. Cole Hamels, SP, Phillies
  5. Davis Price, SP, Rays
  6. Francisco Liriano, SP, Twins
  7. Max Scherzer, SP, Tigers
  8. Clay Buchholz, SP, Red Sox
Mercer AutoWreckers
  1. Joey Votto, 1B, Reds
  2. Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners
  3. Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies
  4. Hunter Pence, OF, Astros
  5. Heath Bell, RP, Padres
  6. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox
  7. Adam Dunn, OF, Nationals
  8. Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees
Vandelay Industries
  1. Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays
  2. Adam Wainwright, SP, Cardinals
  3. Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Mariners
  4. Curtis Granderson, OF, Yankees
  5. Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers
  6. Aaron Hill, 2B, Blue Jays
  7. Nick Swisher, OF, Yankees
  8. J.A. Happ, SP, Astros
Huber Heights Heroes
  1. Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees
  2. Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies
  3. Matt Cain, SP, Giants
  4. Dan Uggla, 2B, Marlins
  5. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox
  6. Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Astros
  7. Rafael Furcal, SS, Dodgers
  8. Adam Jones, OF, Orioles
Stewies SexyParties
  1. Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins
  2. Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers
  3. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates
  4. Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies
  5. Cliff Lee, SP, Rangers
  6. Roy Oswalt, SP, Phillies
  7. Tim Hudson, SP, Braves
  8. Colby Rasmus, OF, Cardinals
Feisty Mosquitoes
  1. Carl Crawford, OF, Rays
  2. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies
  3. Matt Holliday, OF, Cardinals
  4. Justin Upton, OF, Diamondbacks
  5. CC Sabathia, SP, Yankees
  6. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals
  7. Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds
  8. Trevor Cahill, SP, Athletics
Riders of Rohan
  1. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers
  2. Jon Lester, SP, Red Sox
  3. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers
  4. Alex Rios, OF, White Sox
  5. Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers
  6. Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers
  7. Jose Bautista, 3B/OF, Blue Jays
  8. Ian Kinsler, 2B, Rangers
Dunedain Rangers
  1. Buster Posey, C, Giants
  2. Jered Weaver, SP, Angels
  3. Austin Jackson, OF, Tigers
  4. Dan Haren, SP, Angels
  5. Andrew Bailey, RP, Athletics
  6. Neftali Feliz, RP, Rangers
  7. Brian McCann, C, Braves
  8. Adrian Beltre, 3B, Red Sox
The Usual Suspects
  1. Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals
  2. David Wright, 3B, Mets
  3. Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers
  4. Mat Latos, SP, Padres
  5. Johan Santana, SP, Mets
  6. Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Rockies
  7. Jason Heyward, OF, Braves
  8. Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers

Parachute Express



Monday, September 27, 2010

2010 Redskins Report Card - Week 3 vs. St. Louis Rams

Rams 30, Redskins 16

This will be a tough one to write.

Offense: D+

Donovan McNabb didn't have a terrible game, though there was more than one instance where his accuracy left something to be desired. The interception he threw was a stupid pass, and he deserves all the credit for that one. His passing touchdown to Santana Moss, though, was also mostly a McNabb feature, so at least there's that.

Maybe the most frustrating thing about Sunday's offense was that the run/pass split was so pronounced. Last week, I could understand it; the Redskins' passing offense was clicking. But this week, with the passing game kind of hit-or-miss, and the running backs (Clinton Portis and Ryan Torain) pretty much kicking ass, why did the team continue to ignore the ground game? There were 17 rushes versus 33 passes, and one of those rushes was a scramble by McNabb. So the play-calling provided more than double the number of pass plays as run plays. I worry that Mike Shanahan might establish a potentially effective gameplan during the week, but not react to game-day circumstances.

Defense: F

They gave up 30 points to the Rams, including 16 points in the second half, when Steven Jackson was injured. There's no excuse for that.

Special Teams: C+

Devin Thomas was again an effective kickoff returner, offering a lot of the consistency that Rock Cartwright provided in the same capacity last year and for several years. But the story of the special teams was the injury to Josh Bidwell in warmups that forced Graham Gano into punter duties. One of his punts was blocked, and he seemed to outkick his coverage on more than one occasion. I don't blame Gano for that; I blame the NFL.

I understand that there's a motivation to have a limited roster size, but 45 people on game day means that you only have room for one backup at each position, even though those backups also play on special teams. In such an injury-laden sport as football, doesn't it behoove the NFL to make sure that we're not stuck in situations where we watch ineptitude? I'm not necessarily saying that Gano was inept, but he certainly wasn't good. I think they should expand overall rosters to 65, and expand game day rosters to 55. Let each team have a 3rd string QB and a backup K/P, every day.

Overall: D

The Redskins seem to always find a way to sucker-punch their fans. Last year we got a couple, the worst of which was their crumble against the Saints. This year, after beating Dallas and putting up an offensive display against Houston that we haven't seen in years, they barely show up against the Rams.

It is definitely not easy to be a Washington sports fan.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Twi-Night Doubleheader - Week 24

Fantasy Players of the Week
  • AL Hitter: Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Indians (.458, 8 R, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 2 SB) - This is the kind of across-the-board production you expected out of Choo when you drafted him. Granted, three of his home runs and seven of his RBI were in one game, but hey, you started him, right? Right?
  • NL Hitter: Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies (.381, 8 R, 5 HR, 14 RBI) - In all honesty, I might take Jayson Werth's week (.417, 9 R, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 2 SB) over Tulowitzki's, but it's at least a tie with Tulo at shortstop. Plus, I wanted to mention that Tulowitzki has 34 RBI in September...with over a week to go. Ridickydonk.
  • AL Pitchers: Ervin Santana (1 W, 13 K, 1.06/0.76) and Jered Weaver (2 W, 9 K, 1.98/0.88), SPs, Angels - It's nice to see that, even though the Angels are all but eliminated from the playoff hunt, these guys are pitching their asses off. And they're both under the control of the Angels until 2013, so there's plenty of reason for optimism going forward.
  • NL Pitcher: Matt Cain, SP, Giants (1 W, 7 K, 0.00/0.46) - Cain offered a couple of fantastic starts as the Giants head into the home stretch towards the playoffs. They're a game up in the division, and they'll need their stacked pitching staff (Cain, Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez, and Barry Zito) to lead the way. Lord knows their offense can't do it.
2010's Biggest Disappointments (Non-Injury)

As you may remember from last week's post, I talked about the players who've come out of nowhere to be fantasy forces this season. But just as often, players are highly rated at the beginning of the season, but end up being very disappointing. Some of those have been due to injury (Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury...gosh, no wonder Boston is gonna miss the playoffs), and I won't be talking about them. Let's focus on the guys who appear to have let us down for no good reason.

Once again, I'll be mentioning where these players were drafted in our keeper league (though a lot of them just rate as "keepers," which can only really mean they were viewed as being roughly among the top 96 players).
  • Aaron Hill, 2B, Blue Jays (.209, 64 R, 24 HR, 63 RBI, 1 SB), keeper - Hill was a huge surprise in 2009, posting career-highs nearly across the board. This year, he's been able to hold onto his power, but his batting average and on-base percentage have plummeted, resulting in considerably lessened run production. No idea what to think of him next year.
  • Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs/Braves, (.258, 77 R, 18 HR, 73 RBI, 1 SB), keeper - The most shocking part of Lee's 2010 swoon is that his batting average dropped so much. He came in as a .284 career hitter, and hadn't dropped below .270 in a decade. Lee can blame Aramis Ramirez a little bit, but he's also in his 14th major league season. It's possible he's just slowing down.
  • Adam Lind, OF, Blue Jays (.234, 54 R, 22 HR, 71 RBI), keeper - Lind has played mostly designated hitter this year, but he's been more of a designated fly-outter, perhaps due to reduced plate discipline. He passed last year's strikeout total in mid-August, and he's on pace for 17 fewer walks than last year. I'll say this, though: if Toronto can ever get their offense firing on all cylinders, they're going to be scary.
  • Mark Reynolds, 1B/3B, Diamondbacks (.203, 77 R, 32 HR, 84 RBI, 7 SB), keeper - Reynolds was a huge producer in 2009, posting big numbers in HR, RBI, SB, and K. Yes, strikeouts. And today, that seems like his undoing. Because when you can't pick out good pitches from bad, you end up costing both your real life team and your fantasy team. Reynolds' 2010 has been a reminder of the risk you run when you punt batting average.
  • Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs (.241, 58 R, 23 HR, 76 RBI), keeper - Ramirez was particularly awful before the All-Star break, hitting .207 in 237 at-bats, dragging your average to the bottom of a well. What's particularly heart-breaking about that is that his batting average was a big part of why you draft Ramirez in the first place; he hadn't been below .289 since 2003 (the year before we started our keeper league). Ramirez does have two Middle Earth Fantasy Baseball League titles...maybe he's getting lazy.
  • Pablo Sandoval, 1B/3B, Giants (.264, 59 R, 12 HR, 60 RBI, 3 SB), keeper - Sandoval was looking like the next...well, I don't know, but the next something good. He hit .330 with pop in 2009, his first full season, and a lot of us thought he might be very good. I do remember thinking that, even though I liked him, he was overrated in drafts, always going well before I'd have taken him. I certainly didn't expect this kind of drop off, though. Here's hoping he turns it around next year.
  • Javier Vazquez, SP, Yankees (10 W, 118 K, 5.05/1.37), 1st round - I don't know why I'm saying this was a surprise. We all knew that, with a return to the AL, Vazquez would be back to his old ways. The one thing we can say we're surprised about is that his strikeout rate is way down. He's got the worst K/BB ratio of his career, and the worst K/IP since, wait for it...his other season with the Yankees.
  • Matt Wieters, C, Orioles (.256, 37 R, 11 HR, 53 RBI), keeper - Wieters had shown enough flash last season that he warranted being kept, based on pedigree and potential. This year, his future is a little more in doubt. He started the year particularly awful, and though he's bounced back a little in the second half, he's not hitting at nearly the clip we'd expect out of a keeper quality catcher.

Monday, September 20, 2010

2010 Redskins Report Card - Week 2 vs. Houston Texans

Texans 30, Redskins 27

At halftime, with the Redskins up 20-7, I was on cloud nine. Neil Rackers hit a field goal to bring the Texans within 10, then Donovan McNabb answered right back with a great passing touchdown to Chris Cooley. I was giddy. Then I watched in horror as the Redskins gave the game back to the Texans. Could I take some positive things away from the game? Sure, and I'm sure the team will. But...damn it.

Offense: B+

The passing offense was tremendous. McNabb looked extremely comfortable, the offensive line did a good job of holding a pocket for him, and the receivers generally did well to get open and make plays. Four different players had at least 60 receiving yards, and six players had receptions of at least 20 yards.

However, there's still room for improvement, specifically with the run game. Four different players had rushing attempts, and Mike Sellers, who had zero yards on one rush, was the second best runner on the day. Clinton Portis averaged just 2.5 yards on his 13 carries, though he did manage to get into the end zone twice. With just three rushing first downs, the Redskins were unable to pound the ball forward late in the game, when they needed to kill clock. That opened the door for the disappointment that was to follow.

Defense: C

In terms of big plays, this Redskins defense was better than any we've seen in a decade. Five sacks, one interception, and several more big tackles, and it seemed like everyone on the defense made at least one important play, from Adam Carriker to Brian Orakpo to Carlos Rogers. LaRon Landry in particular was flying around the field, causing problems for the Houston offense. The problem was that Houston found ways to get passes completed to make up for all those sacks.

They did a pretty good job stifling Arian Foster, the AFC Offensive Player of the Week last week, and they did generate a lot of big plays. If they can combine their bend-don't-break performance from week 1 with their sack-happy performance in week 2, they'll be a force.

Special Teams: C

I'm not going to blame Graham Gano for his two misses. The first one was blocked on an outstanding play by a Texans defender, the second one was a 52-yarder that he actually hit the first time, but was negated because of a Texans timeout. I don't know how I feel about the rule that allows for these last-second timeouts on field goals, but I know that I was frustrated when I saw it happen, even before I saw the ball go through the uprights on the first attempt.

The return game was fine, not exceptional, but fine. Coverage was very good on kickoffs (particularly on kickoffs that Steve Slaton elected to take out of bounds at his own 1 yard line), so-so on punts.

Overall: B

While I'm obviously disappointed that the Texans came back to win, this game offered Redskins fans a lot of things to feel encouraged about. McNabb looked fantastic, and Jim Haslett might have finally figured out what to do with Landry. Next week's game in St. Louis becomes very important, because the Redskins have to show they can beat the teams they're supposed to beat...since a lot of their games this season are going to be against teams they're not supposed to beat.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

2010 NFL Wrap Up - Week 1

This will basically be the same thing that I did much of last year as part of my Redskins Report Card. I'm splitting it off from that because...well, I could tell you it's so that my content is properly organized, but it's really just so that I have posts more frequently.

Around the League
  • Minnesota did not look like the same team that took New Orleans to the brink in the NFC Championship game last season. Do we attribute it to the absence of Sidney Rice, or to the fact that Brett Favre had a practice and a half before the game?
  • I can't believe the referees stole that touchdown from Calvin Johnson and the Lions. This whole "process of the catch" concept is asinine.
  • The Dolphins won 15-10 over the Bills. A win is a win, but it's the Bills...
  • Green Bay's Mason Crosby kicked the longest field goal in franchise history in a 27-20 victory, but the story here is that Kevin Kolb, the anointed heir to Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia, was ineffective, and is now hurt and unlikely to play in week 2. So, Michael Vick is a starting QB in the NFL again.
  • Eight catches, 64 yards, two TDs. Yeah, Wes Welker is back.
  • Seattle laid the lumber to San Francisco. I get the impression that Mike Singletary would be a good coordinator, or a nice interim option, but might not have the knack for being a head coach for the long haul. Just an impression; the 49ers will probably win nine straight now.
  • Peyton Manning was 40/57 for 433 yards and three TDs, and he wasn't the story on offense on Sunday's loss to the Texans. Arian Foster ran for 231 yards and three scores. See ya, Steve Slaton.
  • Baltimore's offense was erratic, but generated twenty first downs. On the other side of the football, they allowed just six first downs in a tight win over the Jets. If they can learn to hold onto the football, there's no reason the Ravens can't go to the Super Bowl.
  • For me, the big question after week one is this: are the Chiefs legit, or are the Chargers in trouble? One thing is certain, though. If you own Jamaal Charles in your fantasy league, no need to worry about that handcuff.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Buck

Eddie Trash Talk

Rock Band 3 Setlist

The Rock Band 3 soundtrack has been released (view it here). When compared with my Ultimate Rock Band 3 Setlist, there are two overlaps: Cold as Ice by Foreigner, and Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon. I also managed a few band overlaps (David Bowie, Steve Miller Band, Dire Straits, etc), which may not "count" when it comes to predictions, but definitely make me look forward to the game.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Twi-Night Doubleheader - Week 23

Fantasy Players of the Week
  • AL Hitter: Coco Crisp, OF, Athletics (.389, 6 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 9 SB) - Yes, you read that correctly. Nine stolen bases for Crisp over the past seven days. He's got 27 steals since the All-Star break, and he's likely made a difference for some team in your fantasy league. I know I sure wish I had grabbed him.
  • NL Hitter: Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies (.346, 9 R, 6 HR, 11 RBI) - Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez are powering another late-season charge by Colorado. Can you imagine how good the Rockies would be if they could win games in April and May?
  • AL Pitcher: Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers (2-0, 18 K, 1.80/0.80) - If Verlander could bump his April (1-2, 5.53 ERA), both he and the Tigers would be looking good. As it is, the Tigers are destined for .500, and Verlander will just be another very good pitcher.
  • NL Pitcher: Brett Myers, SP, Astros (2-0, 18 K, 0.64/0.79) - If you're looking for the best pitcher since the All-Star break, you have to consider Myers. He's having a career year in a low pressure situation in Houston. He'll be virtually impossible to value in next year's draft.
I often try to find a way to choose players who aren't also Yahoo's highest ranked players over the past week, but this week, that was impossible. These four guys were a cut above.

2010's Biggest Surprise Performers

Every year, players come out of nowhere to have career years, and help carry their fantasy owners to victory. Vinny Castilla's 131 RBI in 2004, Esteban Loaiza's insane 2003 (21-9, 207 K, 2.90/1.11), and Brett Myers this year, they all came out of nowhere to provide substantial assistance to fantasy teams. Here are a few more guys who've had unexpected explosions this season, along with where they were drafted in our super keeper league:
  • Jose Bautista, 3B/OF, Blue Jays (.262, 96 R, 46 HR, 110 RBI, 7 SB), undrafted - In four full seasons (three in Pittsburgh, one in Toronto), he topped out at 16 HR, 63 RBI, and a .254 average. This year, he leads the American League in home runs, and is second in RBI and walks. Not bad for a four-time castoff.
  • Trevor Cahill, SP, Athletics (16 W, 98 K, 2.61/1.05), 22nd round - Cahill was the fifth-to-last player drafted, which means that almost every team had 14 chances to nab him. Then, Cahill was waived early, so everyone had another chance to nab him. So...we're all pretty stupid for having not done so.
  • Tim Hudson, SP, Braves (15 W, 122 K, 2.62/1.13), 18th round - I still see Hudson as a guy who's unreliable from year to year, and doesn't produce the kinds of strikeouts you'd like out of a starter. But with those wins and ratios, you learn to love the minimal strikeout production.
  • Aubrey Huff, 1B/OF, Giants (.294, 90 R, 24 HR, 81 RBI, 6 SB), undrafted - Remember back in 2004, when Huff was the next big thing, a hotshot third baseman for the Rays? Or in 2008, when he was a great comeback player for the Orioles? Well, nobody in our league did, where Huff was undrafted, and remained a free agent until June 21st. The Pronks can't justify keeping him, but he's been a solid producer.
  • Paul Konerko, 1B, White Sox (.322, 85 R, 36 HR, 104 RBI), undrafted - Is Konerko's power production surprising? Not overwhelming so, he's got two 40-homer campaigns on his resume. But him posting a career-high batting average at 34, after three mediocre years, that's surprising. Still, it's also surprising that the guy keeps going undrafted, when he's shown year after year that he can be a useful source of power.
  • Mat Latos, SP, Padres (14 W, 174 K, 2.43/0.99), 18th round - Latos was actually a guy that fantasy experts projected to do pretty well this year (as you can tell by the fact that he was drafted in our league), but nobody expected this kind of performance. He's Yahoo's fourth-rated pitcher, and twelfth-rated player overall. Wowie zowie.
  • Angel Pagan, OF, Mets (.287, 73 R, 10 HR, 60 RBI, 33 SB), undrafted - I know, for my part, I looked at Pagan several times early this summer, because I needed speed, but my outfield was too heavy for me to justify adding a guy who I'd have trouble starting. Turns out, I probably should've made room. Pagan has been a consistent if not flashy producer, and speed can be tough to acquire.
  • Carl Pavano, SP, Twins (16 W, 111 K, 3.47/1.14), undrafted - Perhaps the most insane part of Pavano's very solid season is that the Twins seem to have expected it. They traded for him last season, then made him a reasonable arbitration offer and brought him back for another season. How did they see what apparently nobody else saw...or at least remembered, from his mastery of the Yankees in the 2003 World Series?
  • Martin Prado, 1B/2B/3B, Braves (.313, 97 R, 15 HR, 65 RBI, 5 SB), undrafted - Prado was interesting to a lot of teams because of his position eligibility, and he was nabbed up in April. That eligibility, along with his consistent production at the top of the Braves' lineup, has made him a valuable part of the AutoWreckers' charge towards the top 3.

Monday, September 13, 2010

2010 Redskins Report Card: Week 1 vs. Dallas Cowboys

Redskins 13, Cowboys 7

It's a fine morning, isn't it? Any morning after a Redskins win is pretty good, but after a win against Dallas, the air smells a little sweeter, the traffic moves a little quicker, the coffee is a little more Irish...err, that might just be me. Was it a pretty win? No sir. But a win is a win is a win.

Offense: D+

Donovan McNabb's first game as a Redskin wasn't exactly a huge performance. He had more incompletions than completions, averaged just 5.3 yards per attempt, and didn't lead the team on any touchdown drives. But for his first game, I wasn't too disappointed. I mean, he definitely put some passes in the grass that could've been completed, and his longest pass was just 24 yards. But he seemed more comfortable and confident than Jason Campbell ever was for Washington. Part of that is experience, but part of that is also just the raw knowledge that you can make the plays you want to make.

The running game, however, was atrocious. Take out McNabb's 17-yard scramble, and the team rushed for 72 yards on 21 carries, a paltry 3.4 yards per carry. Clinton Portis had a crucial 18-yard run late in the game to help set up Graham Gano's second field goal of the game, but other than that, he and Larry Johnson were utterly useless. It's a new offensive line, so hopefully the development of chemistry is the only hangup here, but I don't think I'm alone in thinking that we might be watching the decline of Portis.

Defense: A-

I don't think you can say enough about how well the Redskins' defense played. The Cowboys are one of the most vaunted offenses in the NFC, and deservedly so. The talent is all there for this team to score fifty points on any given Sunday. Holding that offense to seven points is reason to be excited. Moreover, the defense just looked good. They had pressure on Tony Romo for much of the game. The stat sheet reflects only one sack, but of the twelve penalties called on the Cowboys, several were holds and false starts, forced by the constant pressure that Jim Haslett's defense was putting on Dallas.

Also worth mentioning is that Dallas made a series of bonehead mistakes at the end of the first half, and Washington's defense capitalized. With eleven seconds left, and on their own 36 yard line, the Cowboys elected not to take a knee and go into halftime down 3-0. Romo dropped back, but as his pocket crumbled (a regular occurrence last night), he scrambled and made a swing pass to Tashard Choice. Choice was immediately wrapped up, but rather than go to the ground, he tried to fight his way free. Redskins defenders swarmed to the spot, and DeAngelo Hall ripped the ball out of Choice's hands, then picked it up and returned it all the way to the house.

Last year's Redskins would've found a way to kick that ball out of bounds...

Special Teams: B

There was a botched field goal attempt that looked like it might have been the difference in the game, but thankfully it wasn't. Obviously you don't want that to happen again, but with the first new long-snapper in like a decade, a little bit of growing pain isn't completely unforeseeable. Furthermore, the kicking team did convert on a 49-yarder in the fourth quarter, and those are the kinds of kicks you want your kicker to be able to make.

Devin Thomas showed a lot of flash in his kick returns, and he may have found a spot where he can contribute, even if he's not the wide receiver we were all hoping he'd be. Josh Bidwell punted well enough, nothing noteworthy.

Overall: B+

I feel okay about this season's prospects. Again, stifling these Cowboys is an impressive feat by this defense, and if the offense can catch up, the Redskins could challenge for a playoff spot. Gotta get that running game moving, though.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Twi-Night Doubleheader - Week 22


Fantasy Players of the Week

  • AL Hitter: Jim Thome, UT, Twins (.455, 5 R, 3 HR, 6 RBI) - Thome is certainly capable of making the most of limited opportunities. With eleven at-bats and just three starts last week, Thome made his presence known. Thome is probably a guy who deserves more consideration as an all-time great than he gets.
  • NL Hitter: Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Rockies (.567, 6 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 SB) - Here's some food for thought: in one week, seven days, Gonzalez raised his batting average from .326 to .340. He was 17/30 in the past week. Ridiculous.
  • AL Pitcher: Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners (1-0, 17 K, 0.00/0.73) - A pair of scoreless outings put Felix in the discussion, and the 17 strikeouts sealed the deal. In a season of disappointments for Seattle, it's nice to know that their ace is as good as advertised.
  • NL Pitcher: Tommy Hanson, SP, Braves (1-1, 7 K, 1.38/0.62) - In a crowded field, I'll take Hanson as my pitcher of the week. He had a phenomenal game against the Mets, and pitched well enough to win against the Pirates most nights. Others who merit distinction: Brian Wilson (5 SV, 0.00/0.60), Roy Oswalt (2-0, 13 K, 2.70/1.05), and Ian Kennedy (1-0, 11 K, 1.80/0.87).
Projected Final Standings

Yes, we here at Joe & Joe do occasionally pay attention to baseball in a non-fantasy capacity. In that spirit, here are my projected final standings (my preseason predictions are here for your reference/humiliating remarks, and the current MLB standings are here):
  • AL East: New York Yankees - I'm standing by my pick...mostly because, I mean, come on. They're going to win the East.
  • AL Central: Chicago White Sox - I feel like speed is a little more useful in September against rookie pitchers who don't know how to deal with it, and the White Sox have some scary speed.
  • AL West: Texas Rangers - Shockingly, the Rangers have a balanced team, and have for all intents and purposes wrapped up the West.
  • AL Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays - A near career year by Crawford and the emergence of Longoria as an elite hitter have the Rays sniffing the division title.
  • NL East: Philadelphia Phillies - Now that they've caught up with the Braves, I really don't see any way they don't take the crown.
  • NL Central: Cincinnati Reds - Six games up on the Cardinals, I don't think they'll collapse. But if anyone would...the Reds would.
  • NL West: San Francisco Giants - Maybe pitching still wins championships?
  • NL Wild Card: San Diego Padres - And maybe it also wins wild card berths?

Top 500 Songs - Dave Matthews Band

This was always going to be the hardest of my band lists, because I like so many of DMB's songs, and have liked them so differently over...