October 28, 2012
After Thunder GM Sam Presti surprisingly traded James Harden to the Houston Rockets, everyone’s reaction could be summed up by Kevin Durant’s tweet last night, “Wow.” Most people knew Harden and the Thunder wouldn’t agree to an extension this season, but no one expected the Thunder to pull the trigger this early. With the new look Lakers looking to get back to the Finals, why would they sacrifice their greatest advantage… their continuity? If you were going to trade Harden, why not wait until the end of the season and give this group 1 more shot. This team, lead by the Durant/Westbrook/Harden trio, was only 3 wins away from an NBA championship last year.
Officially this multi-player deal sent James Harden, C Cole Aldrich, F Daequan Cook, and F Lazar Hayward to the Rockets, while the Thunder received G Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, 2 1st round picks, and a 2nd round pick. Harden was the de facto PG for the Thunder and stabilized the offense. Kevin Martin is a solid guard, capable of scoring in bunches. Now OKC has 2 shoot 1st combo guards in Martin and Westbrook. Who’s going to get KD the ball? Martin is also a liability on defense, and has never played for a championship contender. Will Martin get acclimated to the team in time for another playoff run?
Jeremy Lamb has a lot of potential. I think after a few years the UConn product will become a solid NBA player. With the NBA season a few days away the Thunder don’t need potential, they need production. I don’t think Lamb is a player the Thunder can count on to come in and make an immediate impact.
Speaking of potential… the Thunder can make something of these 3 draft picks. They will eventually need to find mobile big men that cater to their style of play. Kendrick Perkins was useless in the Finals against the Heat due to his lack of mobility and shooting touch. A more traditional PG/good perimeter shooter won’t hurt either now that Harden is gone.
Long term, I think this trade will work in the Thunder’s favor. They have an intriguing prospect in Lamb and the front office does a great job of judging talent, so I think they will maximize the potential of the 3 draft picks they received. That being said, the chances of OKC returning to the Finals aren’t good without Harden. He was the glue that fit the Thunder system together. Despite being MIA during the Finals, Harden is a dynamic playmaker that can create for himself and others. The Thunder will surely miss him when facing the likes of LA and San Antonio in the playoffs. Don’t get me wrong, any team with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will be a contender. PG Eric Maynor is coming back from injury and rookie Perry Jones III has looked good during the preseason. However, after this trade they are no longer the clear cut favorites to win the West. With the regular season starting on Tuesday, the Thunder will have some catching up to do…
October 25, 2012
The Redskins are relevant again, and Robert Griffin III is a big reason why. On Sunday, Washington came to New Jersey and dominated the Giants most of the game. RGIII completed 71% of his passes for 258 yards and 2 TDs, his last TD came with less than 2 minutes to go in the 4th quarter. He capped spectacular a 77 yard drive, that included a 19 yard completion on 4th & 10 and a 24 yard run, with a 30 yard TD pass to Santana Moss.
In 7 weeks, Griffin has given hope to franchise that hasn’t seen much success in many year. Chocolate City embraces the rookie phenom from Baylor and so far his has lived up to the hype. His elite athleticism, throwing accuracy, leadership qualities, combined with the ability to make winning plays is what makes him special. The ability to make winning plays is what I think separates him from guys like Cam Newton, who put up big numbers but haven’t found a way to win consistently.
Speaking of winning consistently . how about Eli Manning? Many suspected the Giants wouldn’t be able to capture last year’s playoff form that led them to a Super Bowl championship. Despite having a bad day, throwing 2 horrible interceptions in the 2nd half, Eli managed to upstage Griffin’s 4th quarter TD by responding with one of his own 2 plays later. He hit Victor Cuz in stride for a 77 yard catch and run game winning TD.
For the past 1 1/2 year, the younger Manning has been the hottest QB in the league. He has lead the NFL in 4th quarter/OT comebacks in that span. Because of Eli Manning, the Giants are never out of a contest and are primed for another deep playoff run. Despite injuries to WR Hakeem Nicks and RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Manning has still produced. Whether he’s throwing passes to Rames Barden or handing off to journeyman RB Andre Brown the Giants have found a way to win. Eli is the definitive frontrunner for MVP the 1st half of this season. The Giants are 1st place in the NFC East, one of the toughest divisions in football.
The 2nd half of the NFL season surely won’t disappoint. On Sunday we learned that the NFC East matchups will be must see TV for the rest of the year. RGIII is a good for a few ESPN highlights per game. Mike Vick and Tony Romo are very good QBs in their own right, and of course Eli, who has become “Tom Brady/Aaron Rodgers” elite.
October 16, 2012
The Living Legends suffered a tough loss 299-232 to That Team. Poor play from the defensive line, kicker, and strong performance from That Team led to my demise. This loss puts me in a 3 way tie for 1st place in my division. My division is very competitive this year and I will need to get a winning streak going to keep pace.
Tony Romo: Romo is a top ten talent at QB. He is capable of putting up big numbers against anybody. Against the Ravens D, Romo threw for 261 yards and 2 TDs. However, when it counts the most this Cowboys team always finds a way to lose.
Ray Rice: Rice has been “Mr Consistency” for the Living Legends all year. He racked up 106 total yards and 2 TDs. Through 6 weeks, Rice has kept up a 20 fantasy ppg average. The Ravens dynamic RB has been automatic this year and I will need his production down the stretch.
Buster Skrine: This young DB has had a solid year for the Browns. He had 11 total tackles against the Bengals, and has 36 on the year.
Bruce Irvin: The rookie DE has had his share of ups and downs this season, most young players experience this learning curve. In Seattle’s narrow victory against New England, Irvin manage only an assisted tackle.
Martellus Bennett: Bennett has found himself in a funk after a strong start to the season. He hasn’t found the endzone since Week 3 and even in a 26-3 blowout against the 49ers, he only managed 1 catch for 9 yards.
David Akers: Akers missed 2 field goals against the NY Giants, his lone field goal was the 49ers only points in the contest.
Free Agency: With David Akers recent struggles I decided to pick up Chicago Bears K Robbie Gould. He has averaged 9 fantasy ppg. Last week against the Jaguars, Gould 2 made field goals, 5 PATs, and scored 11 fantasy points. Team “Pats” up next…
October 20, 2012
So much for taking it easy in the preseason… In Wednesday’s match-up of the Clippers and Jazz, journeyman Clippers forward Turiaf has the worse 22 second sequence of his career. He pulls up for a mid range jumper, when the athletic youngster Jeremy Evans comes out of nowhere for a HUGE block. He then takes it coast to coast and drops the hammer on Turiaf who unfortunately went for the retaliation block. I have a feeling we will be seeing highlights of this play for the rest of the year.
October 10, 2012
That makes 2 in a row for the Living Legends. 2 Chicago playmakers carried the squad in a 233-146 victory over the “Travln All Starz.” A big game from QB Jay Cutler usually means he WR Brandon Marshall are on the same page. In Chicago’s 4 wins this season, Jay has thrown for 1,083 yards and 6 TDs. His teammate, Marshall has had 100+ yard receiving in 3 out 5 games this season. My defense was solid in week 5, despite the DL’s struggles. Cleveland Browns CB Buster Skrine lead the way with 20 points, and all 3 LBs were in double digits This win also vaulted me to a 4-1 record and 1st place in my division.
Jay Cutler: Another solid performance from the Bears QB. Cutler and the Bears followed up a big win against the Cowboys on MNF by racking up 41 points on the Jaguars. The offensive line kept Cutler clean for the most part, allowing only 1 sack. Jay took advantage throwing for the 292 yards and 2 TDs.
Brandon Marshall: Marshall was a recipient of 1 of those TDs and caught 12 passes for 144 yards. The Bears made it a point to get Brandon the ball, he was targeted 17 times by Cutler and it paid off.
Buster Skrine: The youngster for the Browns has continued to impress during the 1st quarter of the fantasy season. Against the NY Giants, Skrine had 9 tackles and 3 pass defended in a 41-27 loss. He has averaged 13 fantasy ppg and been a strong addition to my defense.
Derrick Morgan: Morgan was held ineffective in the Titans 30-7 loss against the Vikings. He managed 1 assisted tackle, for 1 fantasy point.
Jason Babin: Last year the Eagles D-lineman lit up fantasy football, and Babin was no exception. This year the star DE simply hasn’t produced sacks. Jason hasn’t had a sack in a couple of weeks. In week 5’s loss to Pittsburgh he only had 3 points. Hopefully Babin can return to form next week against the mistake prone Detroit Lions.
Charles Godfrey: This marked the 1st week that Panthers S Godfrey failed to score 10 or more fantasy points this season. He only had 1 tackle and 2 assisted tackles for the game. I don’t expect it to be a trend however, Godfrey is a Pro Bowl caliber player and will bounce back.
Free Agency: I acquired 3 quality players in CB Sean Smith, RB Joe McKnight, WR Josh Gordon. Smith is a physical force at 6’3, 214 pounds and has been a playmaker for the Miami Dolphins. He has averaged 20 fantasy ppg the past 2 weeks. I’ve been looking for a versatile RB for depth and Joe McKnight fits the bill. He is a dynamite kick returner, and can be explosive if given touches. Rookie WR Josh Gordon had a breakout game against the Giants and seems to be gaining chemistry with QB Brandon Weeden. He taught 2 passes, both for TDs, for 82 yards.
With the SuperDome packed to capacity, and loud as ever, Drew Brees lead his current team against his former in a 31-24 Saints victory. Brees not only secured New Orleans first win of the season, he did it in front of suspended head coach Sean Payton, assistant head coach Joe Vitt, and general manager Mickey Loomis . The Saints got off to a rough start to begin this season losing 4 straight games. The team seemed to have been out of sync, lacking the leadership of their head coach. Upon Brees special request to NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell, Sean Payton’s season long ban was uplifted. Payton was granted permission to witness his QB make history. “I guess you really couldn’t have written a better script for tonight,” Brees said. “To break the record, to get the win, and the fashion in which we won — really a complete team effort all the way around.
Brees passed Johnny Unitas with his 47th consecutive game with a TD on a 40 yard strike to Devery Henderson. He didn’t stop there either, and went on to throw for 370 yards and 4 TDs. After trailing by 3 at halftime, the entire Saints team cranked it up during the 2nd half. With Brees and the offense giving the team a cushion in the 3rd quarter, the defense held the potent Chargers offense to only 7 points in the 2nd half.
Now that the New Orleans Saints finally get a much needed win, it is yet to be seen if their season has been saved. After a rough start to the season, the Saints get a much needed bye week. Going forward, Drew Bress will continue to be Drew Bress no doubt, but how they fare the rest of their season will depend on their defense. The first 4 games of the year, the Saints defense was horrible. They couldn’t stop the run, or pass, and failed to cause turnovers. They have given up 32 ppg through 5 games this year, which puts tremendous pressure on Brees and the offense to score points. If new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo can find a way to shore up the defense, the Saints will win more football games. As far as making the playoffs, I think the turnaround will be a little to late unfortunately. The NFC is deep this year and it will likely take 10 wins to secure a Wild Card spot. Still I think this was a monumental win for the Saints, who were searching for a silver lining to this difficult season.
October 5, 2012
On Thursday night, the Rams defense shined in an ugly 17-3 win over the Cardinals. Arizona came into St. Louis as one of the hottest teams in the NFL. They were coming off back to back impressive wins against the Patriots on the road and the Eagles. St. Louis didn’t seem to care however, as the defense played big and the offense was efficient enough to pull off the huge upset on prime time.
Kevin Kolb spent most of last night running for his life. The Rams sacked Kolb 9 times and forced a fumble. St. Louis held Arizona’s running game virtually ineffective, holding them to only 45 total rushing yards. This forced the Cardinal offense to become one dimensional, as Kolb threw the ball an uncharacteristic 50 times. Despite having the ball for 34+ minutes, they failed to score in 3 trips to the red zone and could only manage a field goal. After getting his helmet knocked off twice and failing to establishing any type of offensive rhythm Kolb admitted, “I’m glad we’ve got the weekend to heal up, mentally and physically.”
The Rams offense had their struggles as well. QB Sam Bradford threw a TD on the opening drive, then missed on 12 straight passes and threw an interception in the redzone. After scoring a 53 yard field goal in the 2nd quarter, the Rams didn’t score again until the 4th quarter on a Chris Givens 51 yard TD catch. They only had 12 first downs, 131 passing yards, and 242 total yards (less than the Cardinal’s 282). It wasn’t pretty, but it was enough Thursday night as the Rams are over .500 for the 1st time since 2006.
I like the direction coach Jeff Fisher has the St. Louis Rams headed. Their defense is starting to find their niche and has emerging playmakers like DE Robert Quinn, who had 3 sacks and a FF against Arizona. Their offense will only get better as Sam Bradford adjusts to yet another offensive coordinator. Surprisingly, the Rams are right in the mix of NFC West. They are only a game back of the 49ers and Cardinals for the division lead. The schedule gets a little tougher though, they have Green Bay and New England up next, and then what will be a much needed bye week. After the bye week, the Rams’ 2nd half schedule features a lot of games against divisional foes. If the Rams can find a way to split their games against the 49ers and take care the rest of the division games, don’t be surprised if St. Louis steals a NFC wild card spot.