Tag Archives: Aaron Rodgers

Green Bay Packers Super Bowl Preview


It should come as no surprise to anyone to see the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl.

They may not have been the NFC’S trendy pick — that distinction would have gone to the Eagles, Falcons or Saints — but they’ve been a picture of consistency through the entire season and it seems a lot of people failed to notice.

This is as Packers team that did not trail by more than a touchdown all season. A Packers team that did not lose a single game by more than four points all season. A Packers team that barely skipped a beat without franchise signal-caller Aaron Rodgers under center.

Now Green Bay is (relatively) healthy and rolling behind the momentum of three straight road playoff wins.

That said, let’s take a position-by-position look at what Green Bay brings to the Super Bowl table.

Quarterback: Coming off three straight road playoff victories, Rodgers has become a hot commodity and is quickly ascending to ‘elite’ status in the NFL.

His performance in four career playoff games is impeccable; Rodgers has accounted for 13 total touchdowns to just four turnovers. His career QB rating in the playoffs is well over 115. More importantly? His record is 3-1, with the only blemish being an overtime playoff loss to the Kurt Warner-led Arizona Cardinals.

It’s clear Rodgers has learned from that defeat. It’s clear that he’s now a better quarterback. The ball is coming out of his hands quicker than ever, he’s fitting balls into windows that barely even exist and he’s evading the rush and moving fluidly in the pocket.


In short, Rodgers is doing literally every thing you could possibly want a quarterback to do.

Runningback: Here is where the Packers are going to have some issues.

When Ryan Grant went down for the season in week one, he left a massive void at tailback. Ryan was the Packers’ every-down, 1,200-yard, chain-moving back. He was dependable and versatile. In his absence, the Packers have employed a running-back-by-committee approach with Brandon Jackson, John Kuhn and upstart James Starks.

The problem is that even combined, the trio doesn’t do what Grant could always be depended on for: getting the yard yardage. Kuhn is serviceable as a short-yardage and goal-line back, Starks has the speed and vision to run off-tackle, and Brandon Jackson has some power up the middle, but none of them have the burst and the drive that Grant has.

None of those backs can tear through a hole on second-and-9 and get into the secondary before being taken down for a 15-yard gain. The big-play ability just isn’t there, and against a swirling Steelers defense with some hard-hitting linebackers, the Packers have little to no chance of running consistently.

Wide receiver: Playmakers abound here for the green-and-gold. While Rodgers surely misses his big tight end in Jermichael Finley, he’s got a wealth of speed and play-making ability and the Packers go four deep with it.

Greg Jennings is the man the Steelers will need to key in on, though much easier said than done. Jennings can hurt a defense in a variety of ways — he’s just as likely to take a quick slant up the middle and to pay dirt as he is to torch a safety over the top. Look for him to be double-covered though much of Sunday’s action.


If Jennings is covered, Rodgers will likely turn to cagy veteran Donald Driver. While the 12-year pro can’t boast the speed that he once thrilled with, his hands are as sure as ever and he’s a fixture in third-down situations.

If Rodgers needs eight or nine yards on third down, you can bet he’s looking for Driver on a hook or a curl route.

In the slot will be James Jones. A quick receiver out of San Jose State, Jones knows just how to find seams on drag and post routes that drive defenses crazy. It’ll be up to free safety Ryan Clark to keep one eye on Jones at all times to ensure that those 10 or 15-yard gains don’t turn into 30 or 35-yard gains.

Last is the biggest of Green Bay’s wide receiver corps, the 6’3” 217-pound Jordy Nelson. Nelson really came into form late in the season and his size — coupled with the fact that he’ll likely be matched up on by linebackers or the nickel back — will give Rodgers a large target to throw at should his first couple reads break down. Think of Nelson like a large, sure-handed safety valve.

He could be one of the keys to the Packers’ offense should that Pittsburgh pass rush routinely flush Rodgers from the pocket.

Offensive line: What a difference a year makes. In 2009, the injury plagued Packers line could do nothing to keep quarterback Aaron Rodgers off his back. Rodgers was sacked a league-high 50 times in ‘09 — tied with the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger — compared to just 31 times in the 2009 season. A lot of that has to do with the improved health of the line, namely when it comes to left tackle Chad Clifton.

On the other end of the line is big-bodied Brian Baluga, who has fought through some early-season growing pains to really be dependable in the right tackle position.

The line will have its work cut out for it with the complex blitz packages gameplanned by Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, so they’ll need to have their best game of the season to give Rodgers the time he needs to find those receivers.

Defensive line: Anchored by former Boston College standout B.J. Raji, who is not-so-quietly having the best season of his young career, this three-man line was part of a unit that was second in the league in sacks during the regular season with 48 and first in the playoffs with 10.

Raji’s ability to command a double team is what opens up the gaps for blitzes from the linebackers, but right end Cullen Jenkins is quite a pass rusher in his own right with seven sacks on the season.


It’s not just about blitzes, though. Far from it. This Packers front three is plenty capable of stopping the run, especially in the red zone. Green Bay was second in the NFL — behind you guessed it, Pittsburgh — with having allowed just six rushing touchdowns all season.

That staunch red zone defense will have to keep up that level of play this Sunday to force Roethlisberger into poor throws around the end zone.

Linebackers: This is where this Green Bay defense really starts to shine.

When Dom Capers first instituted a 3-4 defensive scheme in 2009, the Packers were a mess. They missed assignments, couldn’t plug gaps, and flat-out couldn’t stop anyone. That’s no longer the case. Led by defensive player of the year runner-up Clay Matthews, this linebackers quartet is as quick, strong and technically sound as any in the league.

It starts in the middle with A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop. The two run-pluggers not only lead the Packers in tackles, but combined for 3.5 sacks and six forced turnovers. When the middle of a defense is versatile enough to stop the run, rush the passer and drop back into coverage, and cover all those bases successfully, it opens up the outside linebackers to wreak havoc.

And that’s exactly what Clay Matthews did this season.

His 13.5 sacks were good for fourth in the NFL, but the opponents’ backfield wasn’t the only place he did his damage. Matthews is fast enough to drop back into coverage and get interceptions. He’s a hard hitter that’s going to force fumbles on players coming across the middle. Matthews needs to be accounted for literally every single time he’s on the field.

Secondary: Had you told me that a Green Bay Packers team without Al Harris or Atari Bigby — who combined for six picks and 13 passes defensed last season — was going to be just as dangerous this year as last year, I’d have laughed at you. And then told you to go watch the WNBA.



Well, then, it seems that the joke’s on me.

The team might not have forced as many interception’s as last year’s 38, but they clamped down on opposing wide receivers for just about every team they’ve played and the interceptions have come at the biggest possible moments. Tramon Williams has emerged as a premier corner and Nick Collins has quietly been one of the best safeties in the NFC this season.

With all the pressure forced by the Packers’ front seven, it allows the secondary to take more chances breaking on balls, as quarterbacks like Matt Ryan all too quickly to find out.

Kicking: Mason Crosby had a pretty average year in the kicking game, and was only 2-of-4 from beyond 50 yards, but he’s made big kicks for the Packers in the past and coach Mike McCarthy should feel comfortable enough with him in any pressure-kicking situation that may arise.

Tim Masthay is a fairly middle-of-the-road punter; the kind of player that’s not often going to pin a team inside their own five but a player that also isn’t going to net just 13 yards on a kick off the side of his foot. We’ll just say he’s no Matt Dodge.

– Jordan Rogowski


NFL Week 11 picks and predictions

It’s Week 11 and in both conferences, division and wild card races are finally starting to take shape.

Pictures are murky at best, but this week’s batch of games should help in clearing the waters. The game to really look out for is San Diego at Denver, where the suddenly resurgent (stop me if you’ve heard this story before) Chargers take on the suddenly tail sliding Broncos. Can echoes carry over from one season to the next?

I (obviously) didn’t finish this column in time for the Thursday night game due to some travel, but I’ll be honest and say I had picked the Panthers to win that game.

And prior to kickoff, all signs pointed to just that happening. The Panthers have been playing good football as of late, the Dolphins were to be without their best players on both sides of the football and it was in Carolina. And then, something happened.

More specifically, John Fox happened.

What his rationale was in letting Jake Delhommne throw over 40 passes while his star running back — who had averaged over 10 yards per carry through three quarters — sat idly by may never be known. What is, now, is that Carolina is out of the wild card race and John Fox has no one to blame but himself.

I went 10-5 last week to push me to 94-50 so far this year.

Let’s get on with the show, shall we?

Washington (3-6) @ Dallas (6-3):

Let’s get something straight right off the bat: Washington is not a good football team.

Yes, they beat what was a 6-2 Denver team last week, but it was a team without its quarterback and it was due in large part to a how-the-hell-did-that-just-happen 114-yard performance from Ladell Betts. A second consecutive win is out of the question; the Redskins will be traveling to Jerryworld to play a Cowboys team that needs a win to keep pace ahead of the Eagles and Giants in the NFC West.

Now that Romo has his monthly clunker out of the way, he will need to get back to business — and the rushing game will have to follow suit — against the top-ranked pass defense in the NFL.

Points will be at a premium, but the Cowboys take it at home.

JORDAN SAYS: Cowboys 20, Redskins 10


Cleveland (1-8) @ Detroit (1-8):

No. Just no.

Lions 22, Browns 6


San Francisco (4-5) @ Green Bay (5-4):

These are two teams that both still have realistic playoff hopes. Slim? Maybe. But hopes none the less.

The Packers’ hopes are contingent on the offensive line improving at least to a point where Aaron Rodgers is on his feet more than his back. And give credit where it’s due; Rodgers is the fifth-ranked passer in the league even without a running game or an offensive line to protect him. Miraculous doesn’t even cover it.


Rodgers should have plenty of time to throw against the 49ers’ lackluster pass rush (just 17 sacks this year) but the same will be true of Alex Smith.

Smith faces a tougher overall defense, though.

The Packers have flawlessly implemented the 3-4, and San Francisco running back Frank Gore is going to have tough time getting past linebackers Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk. If the Packers can lock down Gore and force the visitors into third-and-long scenarios the game is theirs to win because Smith isn’t capable of routinely beating Al Harris and Atari Bigby on bump-and-run coverage.

JORDAN SAYS: Packers 24, 49ers 16


Pittsburgh (6-3) @ Kansas City (2-7):

The Chiefs may have shed a burden with the recent release of the much-maligned Larry Johnson, but addition by subtraction it wasn’t.

Not only did Kansas City’s already embarrassing run game take a hit, the fact that Johnson was released instead of being moved at the deadline did nothing to shore up a defense allowing just shy of 24 points per game. That average will certainly go up with Ben Roethlisberger, Rashard Mendenhall and their high-powered squad rolling into town.

Kansas City ranks near the bottom of the league in sacks (12), interceptions (5) and forced fumbles (0). That inability to force turnovers means the defense will be out there even longer than usual.

JORDAN SAYS: Steelers 30, Chiefs 12


Atlanta (5-4) @ New York Giants (5-4):

It’s very possible that neither of these teams, both of which came into the 2009 season with Super Bowl aspirations, don’t even make the playoffs.

And they’ve arrived at their respective underachieving status’ through vastly different paths.

The Falcons have played a brutal schedule, and three of their four losses have come at the hands of the Patriots, Cowboys and Saints. No shame there. On the other hand, the Giants are experiencing a precipitous fall after mopping through their early, creampuff schedule.


Most importantly, the Tom Coughlin face is back.

You know the one. The “wait… did I leave the oven on this morning? I wonder what the population of Norway was in 1923” face after Eli Manning throws an errant pass or Brandon Jacobs is stood up by a defensive back half his size.

It’s not a good sign for a New York team too talented on both sides of the ball to be where they are. The aforementioned Jacobs is having trouble penetrating the line of scrimmage, Manning’s connection with Steve Smith 2.0 that looked so good through five weeks has withered, and the vaunted defense is allowing over 22 points per game — good for just 20th.

New York is simply too talented to lose five straight, especially  against a Falcons team that will be without the services of Michael Turner.

Giants 27, Falcons 23


New Orleans (9-0) @ Tampa Bay (1-8):

The Saints, despite being undefeated, have had a tough go of it the past three weeks. Narrow wins over Carolina and St. Louis have raised from warning flags, and the struggles are coming from the most unlikely of places.

Drew Brees, who started the season on pace to shatter every major single-season passing record, has shown a propensity to turn the ball over — through fumble and interception — and its hurt his team in recent weeks. Luckily for the Saints, they now have a defense to bail them out.

Not that they’ll need it against the Buccaneers.

And not to take anything away from them — rookie Josh Freeman has this team playing great football, but Tampa Bay still has the second-worst defense in football. The pass defense has markedly improved since the beginning of the season thanks to lockdown corner Aqib Talib and the emergence of Tanard Jackson, but only Buffalo has a worse rush defense.

So with Reggie Bush not playing due to a groin injury, Mike Bell and Pierre Thomas will each get plenty of touches. Look for New Orleans to lean on that run game at the outset, before turning the ball over to Brees, Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey.

JORDAN SAYS: Saints 31, Buccaneers 16


Buffalo (3-6) @ Jacksonville (5-4):

Jacksonville has been a thorn, no, a spear in my side all year. I expect them to zig, they zag. I expect the Jets to beat them, they beat the Jets. I can’t win.

Until this week.

This game is as simple to pick as last weeks was. Now, Maurice Jones-Drew is no Chris Johnson, but he is a powerful, game-changing runner and he’ll take full advantage of the gaudy 173 yards per game the Bills are surrendering on the ground.


It’s the same every week for Buffalo. Their defense performs admirably through three quarters (holding New Orleans 10 points in as many quarters, Houston to nine) and then falls apart in the fourth due to sheer exhaustion. As if the Bills’ run defense wasn’t bad enough, they’ll be without the services of run-stopper Marcus Stroud and leading tackler Keith Ellison.

So, for those of you keeping score at home, Buffalo will be without both starting defensive tackles, both starting outside linebackers, both starting cornerbacks and the starting strong safety.

It’s going to be a long day.

JORDAN SAYS: Jaguars 28, Bills 10


Indianapolis (9-0) @ Baltimore (5-4):

The Ravens are already at a point where every week will present a must-win game, because 11-5 or 10-6 may not be good enough to make the playoffs, let alone the 9-7 mark they’re on pace for.

I’m not questioning Peyton Manning’s competitive spirit or that of anyone on his team, but the simple fact is this is an irrelevant game to the Colts. They’re going to be a 13-win team and a loss on the road to a possibly playoff-bound Ravens team wouldn’t look badly on them.

Conversely, Ray Lewis and Co. will be fired up not only because it’s a must-win, but because it’s a chance to knock off the undefeated AFC juggernauts and re-assert the Ravens as a conference power.

Tom Brady and the Patriots exposed the vulnerability of the Colts’ secondary last week, so Flacco would be wise to attempt some deep strikes to Derek Mason to get an early lead. The bigger necessity, though, is establishing Ray Rice and Willis McGahee on the ground. Rice is averaging 5.2 yards per carry and is bruising between the tackles — another place that Indy is vulnerable — and McGahee has been a sure thing in red zone situations this year.

Ravens play just enough defense on Manning and Rice has a big day in the win.

JORDAN SAYS: Ravens 23, Colts 20


Seattle (3-6) @ Minnesota (8-1):

I don’t know how in the world it’s possible, but the 8-1 Minnesota Vikings are flying beneath the radar. There’s plenty of talk about the Saints, Colts, Cowboys, Steelers, Patriots and Bengals, but the Vikings definitely have a case for best team in the league.


The Seahawks will find that out first-hand on Sunday.

With only one victory over a winning team (a 41-0 romp over the mercurial Jaguars) there’s just no evidence that Seattle can hang with Minnesota. Their middle-of-the-road defense may keep Adrian Peterson under 100 yards, but putting eight in the box to do that means the play-action that the Vikings run to perfection will be even more dangerous.

Couple the play-action threat with the ever-dangerous Percy Harvin and you’ve got an incredibly tough offense to stop. The only advances from Minnesota that Seattle will be able to stop are Brad Childress’ if they’re able to get a hold of Chris Hansen before kickoff.

Vikings 29, Seahawks 14


Arizona (6-3) @ St. Louis (1-9):

After getting blown out of the water in four out of its first five games, St. Louis has settled down. True, the Rams’ only win was over the Lions, but they played the Jaguars into overtime and the Saints deep into the fourth quarter, so this is a team capable of pulling the upset.


And the reason why is quite simple — Stephen Jackson. Even on a bad team, with no offensive line and every defense knowing they have to stop him, Jackson has rushed for at least 130 yards in three consecutive games.

Now he gets to face a Cardinals defense allowing over 100 rushing yards per game.

So the question isn’t whether Jackson will get his touches and get his yards, but whether or not he’ll be out-dueled by Father Time for the Cardinals. Warner is coming off his best game of the season — a 340-yard, two-TD performance against the Seahawks — so there may be a bit of a letdown and Beanie Wells is not yet to the point where you can count on the type of performance he gave last week regularly.

JORDAN SAYS: Rams 20, Cardinals 19


New York Jets (4-5) @ New England (6-3):

Rex Ryan is a crier.

That just feels good to say.

The brash, arrogant, sore loser of a Jets coach had a little tear duct issue when addressing his team this week, and there’s a good possibility that it flares up again after New England runs roughshod on the Jets this week.

One of the Patriots’ three losses came against the Jets earlier this season in a game Ryan predicted they’d win — believe that New England has been thinking about that non-stop since it happened. No Bill Belichick-coached Patriots team has lost twice to a division opponent in one season. New England isn’t going to be taken by surprise by Mark Sanchez this time, and now that Tom Brady has his confidence in the pocket back, he won’t be intimidated by a Jets squad ranking third in total defense.

Revenge will be sweet for the Patriots.

JORDAN SAYS: Patriots 26, Jets 14


Cincinnati (7-2) @ Oakland (2-7):

The bad news for the Bengals is that Cedric Benson is doubtful for Sunday’s game.

The good news is that they’re playing the Raiders.


That’ll make any team feel fortunate, and even the combination of Bernard Scott and Over the Hill Johnson should be able to exploit a Raiders team giving up over 155 yards per game on the ground. The Silver-and-Black have allowed their last three opponents to have hundred-yard rushing days, and none of the teams that had those performances were even in the top half of the league in rushing.

Oakland will combat, er, try to combat the Bengals’ offense with Bruce Gradkowski.

I’m sure I’m not alone in laughing after reading that sentence.

JORDAN SAYS: Bengals 24, Raiders 3


San Diego (6-3) @ Denver (6-3):

Tell me if you’ve heard this story before: the Denver Broncos start out hot and fade down the stretch, and the San Diego Chargers start off cold and heat up down the stretch.

For the second straight year, we’ve been bamboozled in the AFC West.

And the Broncos’ struggles are not indicative of a team on the verge of collapse — not yet. There’s no shame in consecutive losses to the Ravens and Steelers, and the loss to the Redskins last week stems from Kyle Orton getting knocked out of the game in the first half.

Still, as I’ve been saying all year, the Broncos cannot play from behind and the Chargers are a team that loves to put some quick points on the board in the first quarter. The emergence of Vincent Jackson as one of the game’s more dangerous deep threats has given Philip Rivers a needed field-stretching element, because the running game is still one of the league’s worst.

The Chargers get up early and keep the lead.

JORDAN SAYS: Chargers 21, Broncos 12


Philadelphia (5-4) @ Chicago (4-5):

There is nobody in the NFL better at throwing interceptions than Jay Cutler. He is the gold standard to Jake Delhomme’s and Jamarcus Russell’s bronze.


No one is going to accuse Chicago of having the best wide receivers corps in football, but the amount of times that Cutler forsakes the right play for the one that shows off his arm strength is alarming. Couple that with the lack of Matt Forte sightings and a defense that frankly isn’t very good — over 22 points per game allowed — and the result is a team that’s headed for the offseason instead of the playoffs.

Philadelphia still has a chance for the playoffs, but it has got to start running the ball.

Andy Reid is a pass first, ask questions later coach, but with the Bears having just the 21st-ranked pass defense, he’d be wise to get Lesean McCoy into the game early.

JORDAN SAYS: Eagles 31, Bears 19


Tennessee (3-6) @ Houston (5-4):

This is likely to be the most exciting game of the week.

With Vince Young revitalizing the Titans offense — and playing damn well in the process — and Chris Johnson leading the in rushing, they have the cogs to go toe-to-toe with Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Steve Slaton.

With points sure to come from both teams, this comes down to which team can play better defense. The Texans will need linebacker Brian Cushing to be an omnipresent force shadowing Johnson’s every step and Mario Williams will have to find a way to beat the double-coverage pitted against him because nobody else on Houston’s d-line can so much as spell quarterback pressure.

Tennessee will need the same kind of performance from Keith Bullock and Cortland Finnegan will need to do his best in locking down Andre Johnson.

A key turnover could help swing what should be a close matchup.

Texans 27, Titans 26

– Jordan Rogowski

Week 8: The Fantasy Football Follow-Up

So some might say this was a rough week for yours truly… I’d prefer to characterize it more as a “feast or famine” type of affair. Turns out I either killed it with my good picks or I killed your week if you followed my bad ones. But, for all the naysayers, 11 out of 18 ain’t bad, in fact it’s pretty freaking good. In short, I’m not perfect, but I’m certainly good enough to help out your team, so here’s the recap on why…

Nailed It (Great call!):

Tony Romo (QB, Dallas Cowboys): Yep, 256 yards and three TDs, I called that one! Honestly though, I didn’t really think Roy E. would get one…

Stephen Jackson (RB, St. Louis Rams): Super high on Jackson going forward, do whatever you have to do to get him. His 149 yards and a TD are indicative of the top-5 performer he’ll end up being.

Stephen Jackson


Joseph Addai (RB, Indianapolis Colts): Hahaha, I can’t say luck isn’t always involved… I did predict he’d play a part in the passing game, just not as the passer.

Steve Smith (WR, Carolina Panthers): He’s not over yet… three catches, 56 yards, and the TD don’t necessarily scream fantasy animal, but he’s headed back towards must-start status.

Tony Gonzalez (TE, Atlanta Falcons): No pay dirt, but Tony was a prime target against the Saints. Ryan struggled, but not to find Gonzalez (six times for 89 yards).

Jeremy Shockey (TE, New Orleans Saints): I hate it when I’m right sometimes.

Brent Celek (TE, Philadelphia Eagles): The Eagles looked crazy-good against the Giants this past week, and Celek played a big role in a big win.

Chargers (D/ST, San Diego): Talk about big time pressure on the QB! Five sacks from a team most experts claimed lacked a legitimate pass-rush. INTs help as well.

Dolphins (D/ST, Miami): Can’t say I predicted the Special Teams explosion, but I’ll take the final result regardless. Not as high on Miami next week against my beloved Pats however.

Nick Folk (K, Dallas Cowboys): He’s a kicker, and he scored points.

Robbie Gould (K, Chicago Bears): See Nick Folk.

Got Nailed (Terrible call!):

Kurt Warner (QB, Arizona Cardinals): Wow, that was ugly. This was one of my all-time bad calls. I figured it would be the Arizona D picking off Delhomme left and right, not the Carolina D making Ol’ Kurt look foolish.

Kurt Warner 2


David Garrard (QB, Jacksonville Jaguars): Another bad one. How inconsistent can Garrard actually be? He’s filthy at home, but on the road he’s downright terrible. Just 139 yards and two picks makes me regret suggesting him to you guys.

Marshawn Lynch (RB, Buffalo Bills): Bad, bad, bad. Nine carries for 43 yards. No sight of Fred Jackson, and T.O. was the best RB for the Bills on the field, that tells the story.

Mike Sims-Walker (WR, Jacksonville Jaguars): Two catches, nine yards. This was unacceptable.

Lee Evans (WR, Buffalo Bills): My prediction was so far off… Apparently T.O. is there to be a receiver, not just a decoy to help Lee. Either way, I’m hating both of them from this point on.

Cardinals (D/ST, Arizona): Carolina ran at will, and scored in the process… Not  a good combo for a fantasy D/ST.

Neil Rackers (K, Arizona Cardinals): When you get worked over, you kicker doesn’t get much work.

Wash (Probably didn’t kill you…):

– Well, “feast or famine” means nothing falls in the middle.

* (39-29-22, 0.5556) after Week 8. Still treading water above 500!

Haterade Blog

My hate was misplaced across the board. I should have known these guys would pop off…

Braylon Edwards (WR, New York Jets): Braylon played well, splitting targets evenly with Jericho Cotchery, a concern I had going into Week 8. I thought Cotchery would steal a lot of Braylon’s looks, but I was mistaken.

Everyone (RBs, Oakland Raiders): Justin Fargas is actually a surprisingly acceptable play moving forward. His value (for me at least) was limited by Michael Bush, but its clear that Fargas is the guy, until McFadden returns in a few weeks. Fargas = not hateworthy.

Michael Crabtree (WR, San Francisco 49ers): It wasn’t because I don’t like him, believe me, I do. I just thought he’d be eased into the offense a little more gradually than he has been. He looks great, and the scores will come. I won’t be hating Crabtree in the future if he keeps this pace up.

* (9-4-2, 0.6667) A minor setback, but my hatefulness shall return, worry not!

“Big Johnson”:

Chris Johnson (RB, Tennessee Titans): Monster, and I mean monster week! Seriously, Chris was head and shoulders above all other Johnson’s and I think he maintains that pace moving forward. It’s going to take a lot to stray from him in the future, but keep checking back… the money’s always in the matchups.

* (2-3 0.4000) calling the Johnson’s. Inching back (I’m used to it… ha!).

Week 8’s Top Performers: Fluke or For Real:


#1. Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers

FOR REAL: This isn’t going to change guys… Aaron is filthy, and will continue to be. There aren’t a lot of QBs I’d take over him going forward. In an epic showdown, Rodgers came out on top, despite his team falling at home. Aaron threw for 257 and three TDs, earning him a decided FOR REAL.

#2. Brett Favre ­– Minnesota Vikings

FOR REAL: He’s a good quarterback, on a great team, and the key is that he’s not being asked to carry his squad. In a complementary role, Favre is really thriving, and he’s surrounded by great players. He’s FOR REAL.

Brett Favre


#3. Mark Sanchez – New York Jets

FLUKE: He’s going to throw more and more as the season progresses, and the Jets running game has really shown some dominance. I expect Sanchez to play relatively well, but to be FOR REAL, there needs to be a good chance you end up in the top 3 in a given week. Sanchez isn’t there yet.

Running Backs:

#1. Chris Johnson ­– Tennessee Titans

FOR REAL: I’m calling it now — top-3 fantasy back at the end of the year. Any time he touches the ball, he can take it to the house. Notching 228 on 24 carries and two TDs is a pretty tall order each week, but he’ll be FOR REAL for his owners, no doubt.

#2. Ryan Moats – Houston Texans

FLUKE: And so it begins… The Great Slaton Debate! Stop panicking!

Ryan Moats


There really isn’t a debate here folks. Moats will be a top waiver pickup, and will be the subject of much discussion this week, but at most, he’ll be splitting carries with Steve. The benching was a statement, not a permanent decision. I think Slaton, despite the fumbles, is a great buy-low candidate right now, and Moats is nothing but a FLUKE.

#3. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars

FOR REAL: He is straight smashing everyone in his path. Monster. FOR REAL. 8 rushes, 177 yards, 2 TDs. Unreal.

Wide Receivers:

#1. Reggie Wayne – Indianapolis Colts

FOR REAL: Massive, but I’m sure his owners have grown accustomed to it. It doesn’t get a lot better than 12 catches for 147 and a TD. It shouldn’t be news to anyone that Wayne is FOR REAL.

#2. Roddy White – Atlanta Falcons

FOR REAL: More and more, Roddy is showing his doubters that he is a No. 1 wide receiver. Matt’s been a little shaky, but surrounded with great weapons, White should only get better. I like guys that make big plays, and he was close to surpassing his great 100+ 1 TD game. Face it, the dude is FOR REAL!

Rod Roddy


#3. Vincent Jackson – San Diego Chargers

FOR REAL: Big plays, big plays, big plays. It’s the same thing every week. V-Jax has the hands and the wheels to make it happen, and with the Chargers run game taking on water each week, I think he only improves. My love for V-Jax is FOR REAL!

Tight Ends:

#1. Dustin Keller – New York Jets

FOR REAL: I was high on him at the beginning of the season, and there has been peaks and valleys with his performance since then. Keller has really shown a good relationship with Sanchez, namely that when he feels some pressure, he looks to Dustin to dump to. In PPR leagues especially, Keller is proving to be FOR REAL.

#2. Dallas Clark – Indianapolis Colts

FOR REAL: Big time player on a crazy-good pass offense. Clark is looking like the ’08 Witten, and is showing no signs of slowing down. With elite fantasy TEs dropping like flies, Clark could be the best out there right now. Did I mention he’s FOR REAL?

#3. Kevin Boss – New York Giants

FLUKE: No. If you watched this game, you would already have figured out that Boss’ performance was a result of everyone else being shut down. Three catches for 70 yards and  a TD is nice, but it’s not something you can expect, just merely a FLUKE.

Rick Ross 2


Defense / Special Teams:

#1. Chicago Bears

FOR REAL: The Bears were really really good. If they can come even close to putting up two-INT, three-fumble recoveries, TD and a blocked kick game again, they’ll be a D/ST to be reckoned with. I’m thinking they’re FOR REAL.

#2. Carolina Panthers

FLUKE: Not a chance these guys are FOR REAL. You can’t expect that each week a QB will cough up five INTs and your D/ST will score. It just doesn’t happen that often. Not buying into this FLUKE.

#3. Atlanta Falcons

FOR REAL: For now… A lot of turnovers forced are a good thing. I like their upcoming schedule in the near future, and I dig some of the plays they’ve been able to make. I’m saying hold onto them for now, until the show they’re not FOR REAL.


#1. Rob Bironas – Tennessee Titans

FLUKE: So they got their first win, but I’m not a big fan of anyone but Chris on that team.

#2. Matt Stover – Indianapolis Colts

FOR REAL: He saw extensive work on Sunday, comprising nearly all of the Colts’ points. I also give extra credit for those guys who maximize opportunities they are given. While Adam Vinatieri heals, Stover should fill in quite nicely

#3. Steven Hauschka – Baltimore Ravens

FLUKE: I’m not there yet. I just have questions as to how many non-XP opportunities Baltimore K’s get. I’ll pass…

* Make sure you take a look at the GASB on Friday for the Week 9 F3, where I’ll make my fantasy picks for the next weekend. As always, any questions or comments can be emailed to briangrimsley@gmail.com.

– Brian Grimsley

The Week 6 F3: Fantasy Football Forecast

Well ladies, I’ve maintained a record that exceeds .500 in choosing fantasy football starts, and hopefully that will only continue to improve. The good news is, if you only follow my advice half the time, you could nail all my picks… (or get nailed on all of them, or some other combination). But just like the weathermen, if I’m right — I’m brilliant, if I’m wrong — I’m just maintaining the professional norm. Here we go: my “sure-to-be-brilliant-in-some-fashion” picks for Week 6!


–  Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers

First off, I rarely weigh in on betting games, but please don’t take the points in this game. Detroit likely will be without Calvin Johnson, which is a big offensive blow, which leads me to believe that it will actually be a much closer game then the line suggests. Wait, what? That’s the kind of backwards-thinking I’m known for. Back to Rodgers, the Lions D is a clear-cut indicator that you must start the opposing QB. Look for Aaron to shred.

Matt Hasselbeck – Seattle Seahawks

I was right last week, so right in fact that I’ll pick him again!

Granted, Arizona’s D should put up more of a fight than Jacksonville’s but I still like Matt to go off again. You could see the timing and execution really tune up last week, and I expect the Seahawks to come out firing again. P.S. Hasselbeck was dropped in a ton of leagues, and if he’s available (which he shouldn’t be), snag him the first chance you get!

Kyle Orton – Denver Broncos

Eddie Royal has a pulse! Brandon Marshall has bought into the offense! Knowshon Moreno is heating up!



Whoa, so many positives for a team whose off-season was filled with only the negative… Jordan Rogowski showed some love for Orton, and I’ve got no reason to disagree. Oh, and another thing: we all know how consistently dominant the Chargers’ D is (sarcastically said, if you couldn’t tell).

Running Backs:

Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers

Willie Parker is done. He’s extinct. If you drafted him, you were either far too ballsy or flat-out dumb. The value is in Mendenhall. I’ve said it before; small, fast and good hands equal great fantasy RBs so long as they get the carries they deserve.



Rashard is the Pittsburgh RB you want, and he’ll show you why against the Browns, whose D I told you to buy last week, then immediately sell. Deploy with confidence.

Knowshon Moreno – Denver Broncos

I, like most people, have a hard time buying Bronco RBs. There are always too many, and historically, that scheme hurts individual runners’ carries. Under McDaniels, I see something different. Especially under the lights of MNF, Moreno should find all the spots he’ll need to put up big numbers.

DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers

Williams was among the top RBs in the NFL fantasy-wise in 2008. We haven’t seen the same kind of performance in ’09, but look for this Sunday to resemble a highlight reel the 2008 season. DeAngelo is too good to stay quiet this long. Tampa Bay’s D is his opportunity to remind everyone why he belongs near the top.

Wide Receivers:

Nate Burleson – Seattle Seahawks

I’ve already said how much I like Hasselbeck in Week 6, and unlike last week, where T.J. Houshmandzadeh got a lot of the looks, I see Nate being Matt’s prime target. Teams with two strong WRs excel against Arizona, who can only seem to cover one. I think T.J. gets the double cover, and Nate roams free, gobbling up a bunch of targets.

Mario Manningham – New York Giants

The New Orleans D made one NY football team look average at best, but that team was not the Giants. I see Steve Smith taking a bit of a fantasy hit, in favor of Manningham, but don’t think that Darren Sharper will be able to read Eli like he did Sanchez. Manningham gets his share this week, you can bank on it.

Dennis Northcutt – Detroit Lions

This is not a ringing endorsement of Northcutt going forward.



I think he’s a real solid play in Week 6, but once Megatron heals up, his value returns to a No. 3 WR. The Lions, as expected, will likely be playing from behind, and I think Northcutt, with Calvin out, will be the prime target to move down the field. He’s been decent this year, turning heads with his unexpected numbers, but I’m not buying him for the rest of the season.

Tight Ends:

Owen Daniels – Houston Texans

I’ve got a feeling in my gut that Owen goes big on Sunday. There isn’t a lot of situational factors that support it, though. Cincy is strong, and there are other options aplenty on the Texans. This one’s a hunch, and I refuse to feed you a line to substantiate it. Just go with me.

Jermichael Finley

Detroit can barely handle defending WRs, let alone a TE with hands. We’ve seen what Finley is capable of… (fantasy-absurd numbers). Everything about this matchup screams breakout game version 2.0. Start him, I know I am.

Zach Miller – Oakland Raiders

It’s rare that I advocate for anyone on the Raiders offense. That said, JaMarcus Russell still has a job, and has to throw it to someone. Darrius Heyward-Bey? Louis Murphy? No, Miller has the most targets, and I think he puts up some points this week. This is my risky pick, because you can never bank on the Raider passing game, but out of those options, I say give Zach a go.

Defense / Special Teams:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Although I predict DeAngelo Williams has a big day, I think Jake Delhomme serves up an INT or two, and I see some big Special Teams plays coming from the Bucs. I think they’re a decent option against the Panthers, who seem to be in disarray in ’09.

Washington Redskins

­We’ve heard a lot about the Redskin locker room seeking clarity in the Jim Zorn situation. A few weeks back, I predicted that a team with their back against the wall would come out strong. It didn’t happen then, but I think it will in Week 6 against the Chiefs.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jags were abhorrent last Week, giving up a ton of points and scoring none. No way to correct that embarrassment better than beating up on the St. Louis Rams. Hell, even Rush Limbaugh will be rooting for the Jags this week.




These kickers should supply some points for you in Week 5. As always, stream your kickers for good matchups: a good week helps, a bad week kills!

David Akers – Philadelphia Eagles

Nate Kaeding – San Diego Chargers

Rian Lindell – Buffalo Bills

Haterade Blog

I’ll pour 3 glasses to the rim. These are the guys I can’t stand in Week 6:

Brandon Jacobs – New York Giants

This is a risky drink. We all know what Jacobs is capable of. He was a near machine in ’07 and ’08. What worries me is that we’ve only seen a ghost of that Brandon. Against the Saints, I think he stays contained.

Terrell Owens – Buffalo Bills

The trade talks have surfaced. The media has been prodding him for an explosion in the conference room. Why expect an outburst then, when he’s been utterly burst-less all season on the field. He sold some jerseys and maybe a few tickets, but this experiment has been a bomb. No change in Week 6 against the Jets.

Reggie Bush – New Orleans Saints

– I hate Reggie Bush. He’s a perpetual heartbreaker. He’s an RB that’s more of a slot receiver, except slot receivers can take hits. Reggie is always either injured or inexplicably forgotten in the Saints’ mix. For all the times that Bush has blown up, there are twice as many times that he’s goose-egged his owners. Against the Giants, I see one of those type weeks.

“Big Johnson of the Week”:

Andre has absolutely burned me in the past two weeks. I’m willing to bet its because one of his buddies forwarded him the column, and out of alpha-male rage, he’s been determined to be the biggest Johnson. I haven’t hit this yet, but I think Andre is a safe bet for “Big Johnson of the Week”!

* Check back on Tuesday for the Fantasy Football Follow-Up to see how my picks panned out and a review of the week’s top fantasy performers. Any fantasy-specific questions can be sent to briangrimsley@gmail.com. Best of luck in Week 6!

Week 4: The Fantasy Football Follow-Up

The first portion of the Follow-Up will be devoted to recapping my picks for the past week, and we’ll keep track throughout the season (Nailed it – Got Nailed – Wash). For those of you that checked out the F3 for Week 4, here’s how my picks came out…

Nailed It (Great call!)

Aaron Rodgers (QB, Green Bay): Didn’t walk away with the win, but ended up with a very good week, despite finding his back to the ground often. (384 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT)

Steve Slaton (RB, Houston): On the ground, through the air, Slaton bounced back. Nice week. (65 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD, 24 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD)

Steve Smith (WR, New York Giants): Ohhhhh yeaaaaah! The definition of nailing it! Absolute monster week for Smith, who has cemented himself as the stud of the Giants’ receivers. (11 catches, 134 yards, 2 TDs)

Mike Sims-Walker (WR, Jacksonville): Nailed this one. Out of the Jacksonville receivers, he’s the guy, and looks to be a must-start going forward. (11 catches, 92 yards, 2 TDs).

Vernon Davis (TE, San Francisco): TEs that reach paydirt are a big help each week. Davis has gotten there three times in the past two weeks. (3 catches, 43 yards, 1 TD).



Chris Cooley (TE, Washington): 5 catches, 65 yards, 1 TD, and the best quote you’ll ever read post-game (via Twitter): “Our team is like Viagra…we make it hard every week. But who cares, we won.” He’s the reason they did…

49ers (D/ST, San Francisco): Patrick Willis went nuts! Big weeks like this aren’t easy to come by, and it would be foolish to expect three return TDs again, but I nailed it this week!

Lawrence Tynes (K, New York Giants): No. 1 ranked kicker in the league this year. Stick with him, period.

Got Nailed (Terrible call!)

Matt Schaub (QB, Houston): This was bad. Just a 50% completion rate, 224 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. Nnamdi Asomugha accounts for a drop in any QBs numbers, but it shouldn’t have been this big.

Jason Campbell (QB, Washington): Ugly. I tried to hedge my bet in picking Campbell by explaining it might be a stretch and it turns out I was right. Not on him, but on the fact that it was a stretch. (170 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs)



Darren McFadden (RB, Oakland): I’m so sorry. If you played him, I definitely owe you a beer. (-3 yards rushing, 5 yards receiving, and an injury)

Ryan Lindell (K, Buffalo): Sorry about that, he did virtually nothing as a result of his team getting housed.

Jay Feely (K, New York Jets): See above, minus the housing… New Orleans was the better team Sunday.

Wash (Probably didn’t kill you…)

Fred Jackson (RB, Buffalo): So he managed double-digit fantasy points in most leagues. Apparently, the timeshare prediction took a bigger toll than expected… (42 yards rushing, 26 yards receiving). I predicted 50 rushing, 50 receiving, so all in all, you probably weren’t killed by playing him.

Vincent Jackson (WR, San Diego): He didn’t pop off like I had expected, but he finished in the middle of the pack among WRs in Week 4, so he probably isn’t responsible if you had a poor week. (4 catches, 56 yards)

Jeremy Shockey (TE, New Orleans): Four catches and 34 yards isn’t a terrible TE week, and you should be pleased that he didn’t completely murder you, as he’s been known to do.

Bengals (D/ST, Cincinnati): 13 points in most leagues. They gave up 20 points to a bad Browns team, but they countered that with the always pleasant return TD. This pick couldn’t have killed you.

Redskins (D/ST, Washington): Held the Bucs to 13 points on the day, and without being too flashy, scored you 14. Not bad.

* (8-5-5, 0.583) after Week 4. Not bad!


Dwayne Bowe (WR, Kansas City): Complete non-factor against the Giants.

Roy E. Williams (WR, Dallas): Not No. 1 receiver numbers, by any calculation. (3 catches, 35 yards)



LT & Darren Sproles (RBs, San Diego): A total of 15 yards receiving and rushing between the two. Yikes.

* (3-0, 1.000) when it comes to hate!

“Big Johnson”:

Chris Johnson (RB, Tennessee): Kudos to Calvin for knocking Chris to only the 2nd “Biggest Johnson” in Week 4.

* (0-1 0.000) calling the Johnson’s.

Week 4’s Top Performers: Fluke or For Real


#1. Peyton Manning – Indianapolis Colts

FOR REAL: More of the same. Obvious play. Do I need to say more?

#2. Jay Cutler ­– Chicago Bears

FOR REAL: The numbers weren’t astounding, but the efficiency was. Cutler went 18-of-28, for 141 yards and two TDs through the air, one on the ground. Surrounded by no-names, Jay has been outstanding. He’s definitely FOR REAL.

#3. Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers

FOR REAL: I told you last week that Aaron Rodgers was the better quarterback between he and Brett Favre. Favre outshined Rodgers on Monday night picking up a win in “Favre-ageddon”. Don’t overlook the fact that Aaron played at an extremely high level, under serious pressure throughout the game. He is still FOR REAL.

Running Backs

#1. Rashard Mendenhall ­– Pittsburgh Steelers

FOR REAL: FOR REAL, for now… With Willie Parker nursing an injury, I feel comfortable endorsing Mendenhall in the short term. He capitalized on his opportunity this past week by laying down a performance leaving him head and shoulders above the rest of the RBs.



The second-year player boasted a performance of 165 yards on the ground and two TDs, with a few catches in there as well. If he lives up to the reputation he was drafted for, he should thrive in a run-first Pittsburgh offense, assuming Parker is sidelined. With Willie on his last leg, I think Mendenhall has a bright future.

#2. Ronnie Brown – Miami Dolphins

FLUKE: The Miami offense is clearly “feast or famine”. If the Wildcat gets roaring, Brown blows up for video game numbers. However, the Wildcat doesn’t always work, and the Dolphins don’t get to run all over the Bills each week. I can’t say he’s FOR REAL because the consistency just isn’t there, and you always have to consider Ricky “High Times” Williams as a threat to steal carries.

#3. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears

FOR REAL: I was really high on Forte going into the season. I, admittedly, have a love affair with pass-catching RBs, but Forte impressed on the ground this week even moreso. He averaged 10+ yards per carry for 126 yards and a TD. He’s FOR REAL, and definitely worth the top 5 pick you spent on him.

Wide Receivers

#1. Steve Smith – New York Giants

FOR REAL: Close the book on the “No. 1 Receiver on the Giants” discussion. It’s over. Smith is FOR REAL, and the gap isn’t small between he and the other Giants receivers. Domenik “Nicked Up” Hixon and Mario “No Hands” Manningham have taken the backseat. Look for Smith to keep up his impressive pace. P.S. 11 catches for 134 yards and 2 scores… Wow.

#2. Mohammed Massaquoi – Cleveland Browns

FLUKE: First off, you’re probably thinking, who is this? Good question! On a serious note, I’ve had my eye on this guy for a few weeks, and I’ve seen a lot of upside. It’s always smart to check out No. 2 receivers on teams with studs at No. 1. Chances are the No. 1 will get doubled, which will give more chances to the No. 2. Here’s the problem though —  as of this morning, that No. 1 stud is gone, so the days of eight catches for 148 yards are likely gone too.

#3. Calvin Johnson – Detroit Lions

FOR REAL: “Megatron” is a beast. For the record, it doesn’t matter if its Matt Stafford or Daunte Culpepper throwing to him, he’s going to dominate most corners week to week. In Week 4, Calvin didn’t even need a touchdown to be the No. 3 receiver for the week, which says a lot.

Tight Ends

#1. Jermichael Finley – Green Bay Packers

FOR REAL: I’ll catch flack for this one, but I have been high on Finley since training camp. While his performance Monday night is way too high to be expected consistently, I think you can bank on him playing a big part in the Green Bay passing game. Keep an eye on him, and don’t be surprised if he turns out to be FOR REAL…

#2. Antonio Gates – San Diego Chargers

FOR REAL: I predicted big plays to come from Vincent Jackson against the Pittsburgh secondary, and Gates assumed that role. Falling way behind the Steelers, the Chargers were forced to throw, almost exclusively, and Gates reaped the benefits. Nine catches, 124  yards, and two TDs is proof positive. He won’t do that again, but he’s still in the TE elite.

#3. Heath Miller – Pittsburgh Steelers

FLUKE: This was a tough call. Here’s the deal, I like Miller. I like the TE to get looks in Pittsburgh’s offense. I just look around and visualize a run, run, Hines Ward, run, run Santonio Holmes-type strategy going forward. I don’t feel comfortable telling you guys to buy Miller. There’s a lot of talent in the Steelers’ offense, and I think he finds his way to the back of the shuffle, more so than the back of the end-zone, which he did twice Sunday.

Defense / Special Teams

#1. San Francisco 49ers

FOR REAL: YES! I’ll admit, pitching a shutout against the Rams isn’t the greatest of accomplishments, but the 49ers showed some serious teeth making turnovers touchdowns on Sunday. I really think the 49ers can be a turnover machine, and it could turn out that Singletary’s intensity trickles down to his players. I’m in.



#2. New Orleans Saints

FLUKE: It had to happen sooner or later. Rookie QBs are never invincible. I don’t think that the Saints have an elite defense, I just think they played at an elite level Sunday, in a game so big the Jets’ savior couldn’t handle. They capitalized on his mistakes, and I credit them for that, but I’m not seeing the Saints as a dominant D.

#3. Houston Texans

FLUKE: Nope. The points this week belong to Jacoby Jones’ return. No thanks. Up until this week, Houston’s D/ST were painting the cellar. They should be better, but they’re not. Don’t be fooled by the big points put up this week. They’re a bad D with streaky special teams. They’ll probably find their way onto this list again before seasons end, but they’ll stay near the bottom more often.


#1. Josh Scobee – Jacksonville Jaguars

FLUKE: Do not, I repeat, do not count on Scobee. Week 4 was a serious blowout, and he racked up tons of XPs, but don’t expect it going forward. No way.

#2. Robbie Gould – Chicago Bears

FOR REAL: See above, except I think you can expect it going forward. I really like kickers in offenses that can move the ball, without serious big play threats. I see Gould hanging out near the top.

#3. Adam Vinatieri – Indianapolis Colts

FOR REAL: As a Patriots fan, his departure to the Colts broke my heart. He has lost the luster of his Superbowl heroics, but he’ll be finishing off many XPs, and in a dome, is money between the hashes. I loved him on the Pats, but without bias, he’s for real.

* Check back on Friday for the Week 5 F3, where I’ll make my fantasy picks for the upcoming weekend. As always, any questions or comments can be posted here or emailed to briangrimsley@gmail.com.