– The big news around the NFL is a change at QB for last season’s NFC Super Bowl representative. Rex Grossman is out, Brian Griese is in. It was a move that had to happen: Lovie Smith couldn’t continue to let Grossman throw away games the defense was giving them a chance to win. As badly as they wanted to show faith in Rex and consider him their long-term quarterback, the results just were not there. His 1 TD and 6 INTs with a QB rating of 45.2 is probably one of the ugliest lines you will ever see.
Brian Griese should be a much more steady QB who’s capable of just managing games and not turning it over. Don’t expect too much though. With the exception of some decent games in Tampa Bay in 2004, he really hasn’t played well since that run in 2000-01 when he made his name as the Denver quarterback. Griese’s not a grat playmaker by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s certainly more accurate and less turnover prone than Grossman.
As far as the fantasy implications, this should be a good thing for most of the Bears offensive players. If nothing else, they’ll be on the field more with fewer turnovers. Bernard Berrian and Greg Olsen owners should feel comfortable starting their guys against poor secondaries. Cedric Benson figures to carry even more of the load, if he’s capable of doing so, and perhaps opposing teams won’t stack the box and dare the Bears to throw quite as often.
– A lot of people have wondered if Reggie Bush could ever be a featured running back in the NFL, and they should have their answer very soon. Deuce McAllister’s torn ACL will sideline him for the season, and the rest of his career is in jeopardy after suffering the same injury in his other knee a few weeks into 2005. On Monday night Bush did manage to punch in a few goal-line carries, so it’s likely he’ll remain the every-down back and be only briefly spelled by Aaron Stecker. No matter how you cut it, it’s good news for Bush’s fantasy stock. His yards per carry will proably take a hit (if it’s possible for such a fast man to be worse than his 3.5 career YPC and 2.8 YPC in 2007), but he’ll be on the field all day and he’s always a threat to make huge plays. The Saints will probably be more active in the passing game as well, and that’s where Bush can really excel in a similar fashion to Brian Westbrook. He should be among the NFL leaders in receptions as the year wears on.
– Raise your hand if you predicted the Chicago Bears Defense could be considered an expendable fantasy commodity by Week 5. Taken on average in Yahoo! fantasy drafts early in the fifth round, the Bears D has been hit harder by injuries than perhaps any other unit in the NFL, and their fantasy points production has severely suffered. Starting safety Mike Brown and defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek are on the IR, and CBs Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman are already banged up and missing time; the same goes for DT Tommie Harris. It’s still early, but in ETB’s fantasy league the Bears D has earned less points than such defensive powerhouses as the Lions, Chiefs, Cowboys, and Titans. Another reason why we prefer not to waste a draft pick in the first 12 rounds on a Team D.
– We’re getting the impression here at ETB that a couple of injuries to starting running backs–Ahman Green and Steven Jackson–are more serious than their teams are letting on. It came out today that Steven Jackson has a 40 percent tear of his groin, which means that two weeks is the absolute minimun he will miss and it’s far more likely that he’ll be out for around five weeks. Brian Leonard looked fantastic in the preseason, making impressive plays all over the field. Of course, he’s a must add in every league and the second-round pick from Rutgers is a strong RB3 while Jackson is sidelined. Keep in mind what the more talented Steven Jackson did in this St. Louis offensive quagmire though.
Meanwhile, Ahman Green isn’t expected to contibute at all this weekend. An MRI didn’t reveal any major damage, and Green has said, “It’s nothing bad. Just swelling. I’m taking it one day at a time.” We’re not convinced. It just sounds like one of those “minor” injuries to a load-bearing joint that players at the tail end of their career suffer and never fully recover from. Ron Dayne becomes a nice RB3 option against the struggling Falcons rush defense this week, and would have nice long-term value if the knee injury ends up being as serious as we fear.
– Chad Johnson makes the headlines for his trash talk–and rightfully so–but Detroit Lions Pro Bowl WR Roy Williams can be almost as entertaining when given the chance to display his unflappable confidence. The Bears always seem to bring “the best” out of him; check out what he had to say this week:
“We can play with the Bears. That’s not an issue,” Williams said. “Their defense is what they are. Like Denny Green, they are who we think they are. We know them. They know us, and it’s going to be one heck of a ballgame.
“Best in the league as far as a group. There’s no group of wide receivers that are better than the Detroit Lions’ wide receivers,” Williams told some Chicago reporters on a conference call. “A lot of people are starting to notice Shaun McDonald, people already know about Mike Furrey from last year, Calvin Johnson has come in and contributed a lot. We have the best group in the NFL. We create a lot of mismatches. You bring your third corner in, that’s that guy who’s not good enough to be a starter, and we have four guys who can start so that’s a mismatch there. And, if you go dime, you bring in your fourth corner and that’s a waste of time.”
We love that he invoked the now-infamous Denny Green tirade, and feel like Roy would be well-suited to a career as a boxing promoter when his NFL playing days are done. Rotoworld’s Aaron Gleeman has two more fantastic Roy quotes (about halfway down).
– Can you start all three Packers wideouts with confidence? Rookie James Jones and second-year vet Greg Jennings both had nine looks last week against the Chargers, while Donald Driver had eight. This team just isn’t running the ball, and like the Lions it looks like, for now, they’re going to stick with the all-passing formula that’s worked so well thus far. All three of them look like solid options for at least this week, as the Pack will likely try to spread out the Vikings stout defense and take advantage of a secondary that struggles on 12 – 15 yard slants over the middle and deep balls on the outside. Favre excels at throwing both.
– Derrick Ward has been quite serviceable in his absence, but we’re looking forward to New York Giants RB Brandon Jacobs getting back on the field again and flattening defenders like Mario on super mushrooms. News yesterday out of the Big Apple say the beastly 6-4, 264 pound running back’s injured knee is “feeling good” and that he hasn’t been ruled out of action for this week’s big NFC East clash with the Eagles. Like the Detroit Lions’ Kevin Jones last week, if Jacobs does suit up it’ll likely only be for a few snaps with Ward performing relatively well, so don’t be tempted to plug him in as a flex play just yet. Both Jacobs and the team want to play it safe and not rush him back, but this is great news and it looks like he’ll be ready to resume full-time duty for the delicious Week 5 matchup at home against the Jets. If you think you can swing a deal, now is the time to buy low. Here’s the Giants upcoming schedule: vs. PHI, vs. NYJ, @ ATL, vs. SF, @ MIA, bye, vs. DAL, @ DET. He should score quite a few of touchdowns over the next two months.
– According to DenverBroncos.com, Jay Cutler went through a full practice on Wednesday and looks safe to use on Sunday if you need him (though you probably have better options with the Indy pass defense playing well). While Cutler is A-OK, Javon Walker may not be. He’s experiencing swelling and soreness in the same knee that was surgically repaired after ending his season two years ago. It’s never a good sign when a reconstructed knee starts acting up. MRI results were negative, but the team revealed that it’s been sore for a few weeks now and he could miss some time. Walker owners need to monitor this situation, while Brandon Marshall owners are starting to feel like they have a big, talented WR2 on their hands.
– Atlanta Falcons CB DeAngelo Hall is an overrated jackass. Seriously, outside of the odd big play here and there, what exactly has he accomplished in the NFL other than getting burned, flagged, and fined? Hall tells anybody who will listen that he’s a premier cornerback, but it’s a load of garbage. He gets beat, badly and often. What’s worse is when his mouth gets him in trouble on the field. In last week’s loss to the Panthers, Hall earned 67 penalty yards in the fourth quarter alone after a pass interference and two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. The Falcons did the right thing by fining him $100,000 and not letting him start this week, but we wish they would have gone a little farther.
– And just when you thought Kellen Winslow was no longer a major injury risk, he’s gone from being diagnosed with a bruised shoulder, then to a sprained shoulder, and now to a partially separated shoulder in a matter of 48 hours. His status for Sunday’s home game against the Ravens is still in question, but teammate Braylon Edwards scoffed at the media yesterday when they asked him if Winslow would sit it out. Even if he does suit up, Winslow isn’t an especially strong option against the ball-hawking, hard-hitting Ravens secondary. He’s certainly Derek Anderson’s top target, though, and if you own him you pretty much have to start him if he’s active.