Just when you thought it was safe to spend a day getting ready for the college football picks this weekend, the need for free NFL picks rears its head yet again. This time, it’s the fantasy footballers among us in need of a little guidance after at tumultuous week in the league.
Of all the news that came down on this week, none was bigger for fantasy-tics than Ryan Grant’s season ending ankle injury. for the past three years, Grant has been a fantasy mainstay. as one of the few NFL running backs not having to share significant and playing in a high-powered offense, he had become a late-first round or early-second round pick in just about every league. if he’s still available on the waiver wire – a slim chance at this late hour – Brandon Jackson is your man. While he won’t give you the same value that you likely would have gotten from Grant, Jackson can be a quality 2nd or 3rd fantasy back.
In the event that you missed out on Grant, two different backs may have just gained fantasy value with just one move. the new England Patriots shipped Laurence Maroney to the Denver Broncos for a pair of draft picks. the move means Maroney can probably expect a few more carries in the Mile High, although he will still be solidly behind Knowshon Moreno. It also gives veteran Fred Taylor a slightly tighter grasp on the top job at Foxboro. That status comes with a big asterisk – the Patriots’ depth and running back by committee approach that made Maroney expendable also make Taylor not as solid a pick as he could be.
Running backs weren’t the only ones impacting your free NFL picks. Detroit Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford reportedly suffered a joint sprain in his throwing shoulder. the initial diagnosis says he will miss the next four to eight weeks. however there is concern that after a visit to Dr. James Andrews, Stafford could end up being out a lot longer. Let’s be honest, you’re not picking up Shaun Hill. however, depending on how deep your league is more attractive pickups like Kyle Orton or Jason Campbell could still be available. Temper your enthusiasm on Campbell, but if you’re going to play him, this is the week with Oakland lining up against the Rams.
Finally it appears that Kevin Kolb’s concussion (say that five times fast) will likely keep him out of the lineup, although the Eagles have yet to make an official determination. nonetheless, it significantly boosts Michael Vick’s value for the week. Long-term, it would still appear to be Kolb’s job to lose – although the Philly fans were ready to fire him in the second quarter of last week’s loss to Green Bay. Vick sparkled for the Eagles last week and it would appear that as long as Kolb can’t play, Vick’s a good option.
Jason Campbell is Out For the Year, and With The Raiders in Playoff Contention, They May Look to Trade for Carson Palmer
Jason Campbell scrambled up the middle yesterday, and when he hit the ground, he broke his collarbone. Oakland went on to win the game, moving to 4-2 in the AFC, one-half game behind the Chargers in the AFC West, and tied with the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Buffalo for the final playoff spot at the moment. now, though, they turn to Kyle Boller, at least temporarily.
Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports writes that the Raiders are pushing hard for “retired”-disgruntled Carson Palmer in a trade with the Bengals. a few problems stand in the way of such a move. first, Mike Brown. As Cole says, “Brown has never been a guy to give in to demands, even when they are logical.” Add in that the Bengals are one of the contenders in the AFC for a playoff spot at 4-2 also, and a trade that would strengthen the Raiders would lower their chances. So, even if logic and avoiding emotional decisions such as punishing Palmer at the expense of adding value to the team isn’t Mike Brown’s strong suit, in this case a trade does not make sense for Cincinnati unless it gets superb value.
The other problem: the Raiders do not have a 2nd, 3rd or 4th round pick in next year’s draft, so they may not have the trade value necessary to make the move. do they really want to part with next year’s first also? I don’t see Cincinnati being swayed by a future mid-round pick delayed for a few years, particularly when they aren’t inclined to trade him anyway.
If they don’t make a trade for Palmer, then the options are stick with Boller, or sign someone who comes free of charge, like David Garrard (where there are questions about how committed he is to continue to play) or–gulp–Brett Favre.
Let’s try to assess the decisions facing the Raiders. Here’s the research on what a starting quarterback is worth. Jason Campbell is the very definition of a league average starting quarterback at this point. His yards per attempt is 7.2, similar to the last several years, and his league adjusted numbers are pretty much right at average. of course, an average starting quarterback is a good thing when the alternative is below replacement level starter.
Kyle Boller is almost perfectly the definition of a sub-replacement level starter or backup. He’s 30, hasn’t played much in recent years, but his career numbers suggest he’s going to be a dropoff across the board. the Raiders aren’t going to fall apart–Darren McFadden is still the key to the offense, and they’ve still got playmakers at the receiver positions who can be used in other ways such as reverses–but the team’s offense will be worse off. that research would suggest you can expect somewhere around one less win over the course of a season.
The problem for Oakland, though, is that any drop in average win expectancy has dramatic effect on the playoff chances for a team currently projected to win between 9 and 10 games with Jason Campbell. they are right at the cusp; before this week’s win, they were 57.7% to make the playoffs according to Football Outsiders, and 50% according to Advanced NFL Stats, with average win projections in the 9.5 range. Those odds would go up slightly after the Cleveland result, though it wasn’t unexpected and the likelihood already accounted for.
Teams that win 10 games usually make the playoffs. Teams that win 9 games can, often at the whim of tiebreakers, and teams that win 8, they rarely do unless in a weak division or a down conference. even if we drop the Raiders down by 1 win on the average win projection, that lowers their chances of making the playoffs by 25-30%.
So Oakland must decide if Carson Palmer is worth staving off most of that playoff likelihood drop for one season, or whether someone else out there that can be had for free is worth the upgrade over Boller given the lack of familiarity and practice with the team.
[photo via Getty]
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Successful quarterback play wins games in fantasy football. out of these three quarterbacks, who do you choose?
Matt Schaub goes against the best pass defense in the NFL in the Pittsburgh Steelers. that number isn’t truthful though because the Steelers have played Tarvaris Jackson and a combination of Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter.
Look at what happened in Week 1 against Baltimore. Joe Flacco threw for three touchdowns and 224 yards against a secondary that is poor at best.
Pittsburgh should be fired up to play this game on the road as the underdog. They play much better when they are supposed to lose, so that standpoint is a little concerning for Schaub owners.
Rex Grossman plays at the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. the Rams have yet to win a game this season and they have been getting blown out in the process.
They should come out with nothing to lose.
Washington has struggled with the Rams in the past few years. St. Louis has beat Washington in two of the past three seasons.
After Grossman put on a show against the new York Giants in Week 1 throwing for 305 yards and two touchdowns, he has proven in the past two weeks that he still has issues turning the ball over. Against the Arizona Cardinals he threw for two interceptions. Against the Dallas Cowboys he threw one interception compared to one touchdown, but had a costly fumble at the end of the game.
Although he plays the Rams, Grossman has taken a few steps back.
If the Oakland Raiders plan on upsetting the new England Patriots Jason Campbell needs to play well. the Patriots have the worst statistical pass defense in the league.
Bill Belichick always has his team prepared to win following a loss the previous week. he will have something in store for Campbell scheme wise.
Campbell has been known to struggle in his career too. the Raiders have the 26th best pass offense in the NFL.
He will benefit from the best rushing attack in the league led by Darren McFadden. new England will load the box up in order to stop McFadden which may leave the door open for Campbell down the field.
All three of these players have a chance to have great games. Matt Schaub would be my guy if I had to choose because of the Steelers secondary. that Pittsburgh defense, as a whole, would scare me though because they could finally decide to show up.
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