- The Season's Over -

Fantasy Football: Week Nine Matchups

October 31, 2007

Rivers draws the NFL's worst pass defense

We’re entering the stretch run for a spot in the fantasy playoffs, with some of us (Andrew) faring better than others (Brian) in the ETB League. Who to start, who to bench, and who to plug in for a spot start is crucial no matter what. To aid your worthy quest for a title, ETB continues to break down a few key fantasy matchups at all the positions that matter (sorry, kickers are putzes). For each roster spot we’ll spell out our Five Strong Plays, a few players to Temper Your Expectations for, one Sneaky Play of the Week, and one Dud of the Week.

These are not always the guys we think will score the most points or score the least points: there will always be obvious situations and choices we ignore. These also aren’t all sneaky plays. These are just the matchups that we feel deserve mention*.

Make sure to check back on these matchups the following week to see how each one of our picks actually fared. That way you can either sing the praises of ETB (likely) or scoff at our incompetence (very unlikely).

Good luck, but with ETB at your disposal “luck” just isn’t relevant.

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8 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell and Brian Spencer on Oct. 31, 2007 at 9:36am in ETB Articles, NFL, NFL Fantasy News

ETB’s NBA Prediction-O-Rama

October 30, 2007

Don’t Question Me

Bring on the the NBA! The ETB Fantasy Basketball Draft took place last Tuesday, and we have to say it was one of the most competitive hoops drafts we’ve been involved in. All of the owners were savvy, competitive, prepared and investing in the right young players. There’s nothing like a heated draft to get you psyched for the NBA and fantasy hoops season, and with tipoff set for tonight it’s time to unveil ETB’s NBA Prediction-O-Rama.

We’ve been poring over stats, records, scouting reports, news, mock drafts, expert analysis and everything else we can get our hands on for the last two months. Now we put ourselves on the line with our bold and daring picks for Individual Awards, Team Awards, Gut Feelings and the all-important Over/Unders.

The bones reveal many mysterious things. Enjoy.

Individual Awards:

Rookie of the Year:
Andrew: Kevin Durant, Seattle Supersonics
Brian: Al Thornton, Los Angeles Clippers

Breakout Point Guard:
Andrew: Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
Brian: Raymond Felton, Charlotte Bobcats

Point Guard Bust:
Andrew: Mike Bibby, Sacramento Kings
Brian: Mike Bibby, Sacramento Kings

Breakout Shooting Guard:
Andrew: Gerald Green, Minnesota Timberwolves
Brian: Ronnie Brewer, Utah Jazz

Kevin Durant and Jeff Green

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11 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Oct. 30, 2007 at 9:36am in NBA, NBA Fantasy News

Fantasy Football: Week Nine Stock Report

October 29, 2007

Marques Colston strikes a pose

Fantasy football and the stock market have a lot in common. To master each, it’s vital to have your finger on the pulse of the market and to buy low and to sell high with your assets (or players). You never want to pay over market value, and getting in early on an emerging star can make your portfolio blossom… or in this case, help your fantasy team compete for a title.

With that theme in mind, your dear friends at ETB have poured through all the Week 8 NFL action, and are ready to help you get set for Week 9 of the fantasy football season with news and notes on the latest gridiron heroes and zeroes.

Big Gainers:

Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints: Well, well, well–look what we have here: 8 receptions, 85 yards, and 3 TDs from everybody’s favorite WR/TE of 2006. It’s hard to say whether Colston’s early-season malaise was a byproduct of his quarterback’s struggles, or if it was on his own shoulders. It was probably a little of both, but he and Brees have finally emerged as viable fantasy options once again. Last year’s seventh-round pick out of Hofstra is still trying to get over the 100-yard-game receiving hump, but you have to love the activity and a favorable schedule after next week’s home game against the Jaguars. On a personal note, love that as a Colston owner in one league, I’m rewarded by facing somebody who started Brees. Nothing like three TDs from your WR2 being essentially wasted.

LenDale White, RB, Tennessee Titans: Now that all that Chris Brown silliness from Week 1 is an afterthought, the team’s 2006 second-round pick has flourished with a full workload and running behind one of the NFL’s most underrated offensive lines. After failing to top the century mark in his first 18 professional matches, he’s now gone for 104 and 133 in successive tilts and has gotten about 26 carries per over the last three. With the Titans’ passing attack stuck in the mud, expect White to keep getting his chances. All owners should have rookie backup Chris Henry on their roster just in case.

Hines Ward, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Now in his ninth NFL season, Ward’s slow start looks to have been a case of nagging injury, not a sign of a drastic decline in fantasy production. After basically missing three games, Ward has returned with 15 catches for 166 yards and 2 TDs over his last two. Not huge numbers, but Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers are excellent at picking their spots, and Ward is going to be a big part of this above-average passing attack as they face a series of soft secondaries over the next month or so. With Santonio Holmes improving every week, Ward should find plenty of room to do his damage; 6 – 8 receptions and 75 – 100 yards/per, and 3 total TDs, is a reasonable guess for Weeks 10 – 13.

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No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Oct. 29, 2007 at 7:26pm in NFL, NFL Fantasy News

ETB’s Week Eight NFL Hangover

October 29, 2007

A special bond – It took awhile, but it looks like the New Orleans Saints offense that fantasy players came to know and love last season is back. Drew Brees gunned down the 49ers secondary on Sunday, recording his best overall game of the year in going 31-39 for 336 yards, 4 TDs, and 0 INTs (that last stat is a big one considering he’d thrown 9 picks in his first four games). He now has 8 TD passes over the past three weeks and has an average QB Rating of 111.3 over that stretch. Marques Colston was the recipient of three TD passes, and probably could have had a fourth one if not for some pass interference. And Reggie Bush went over 100 combined yards despite leaving in the fourth quarter with a boo-boo. All three of these players should be considered strong fantasy options from here on out.

- St. Louis Rams stud running back Steven “Stephen” Jackson made a very strong return to the lineup on Sunday. That is, until he got hurt again. Jackson came out and put up 31 rushing yards and a touchdown on the Rams opening drive. He looked strong and quick through the holes, even if he acknowledged he wasn’t 100%. It was the Rams first rushing TD of the season, only eight weeks into the campaign.

Then, to the chagrin of his owners, Jackson went to the locker room with a “back injury” in the second quarter. Fortunately, it turned out to be just back spasms as a result of overcompensating for the groin injury and Jackson said after the game, “It’s not an injury that keeps you out for weeks.” Phew. He should be fine and can still be counted on as a starting running back going forward.

- Detroit Lions fans, please kindly remove thine heads from under those brown paper bags–your team just swept the season series from the Chicago Bears and is 5-2 for the first time in 7 years. Playoff talk is still a bit premature (“Playoffs?! PLAYOFFS?!”), but this team is coming together and has the look of at least a contender for a postseason berth. Jon Kitna has now gone two weeks straight without a turnover, RB Kevin Jones scored again and went over 100 combined yards, and that maligned defense now leads the league in takeaways with 20 after picking off Brian Griese four times.

With Tatum Bell completely out of the picture for now (inactive on Sunday), KJ should be considered a solid RB2. Look for another big day from him when the team sporting the league’s worst rush defense, the Broncos, visit Motown in Week 9.

- Antonio Gates kept his strong season rolling despite the Chargers attempting just 11 passes on Sunday. Gates managed to snag 3 of them for 92 yards and 2 TDs. There was also a Chris Chambers sighting. Undoubtedly elated to be out of the Miami morass, Chambers caught his first TD of the season and should maintain his WR3 value in San Diego. With 7 completions in his 11 attempts, 3 for TDs, QB Philip Rivers had a tidy 143.9 passer rating. It’s also worth noting that Vince Jackson was held without a catch.

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2 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell and Brian Spencer on Oct. 29, 2007 at 10:35am in NFL, NFL Fantasy News

ETB’s NFL Week Eight Crystal Ball

October 26, 2007

We’re all about the ballsy predictions here at ETB. We enjoy analyzing and second-guessing other experts’ picks, but we’ll also put ourselves on the line. So in the days leading up to Sunday’s NFL action, we’ll both be peering into our fantastical crystal ball and posting the daring predictions that present themselves.

Many will come true, but more of them will not. That’s why we’ll be bragging about them when we nail it. Repeatedly. And when we biff it, well, you’ll have to remind us about it because we won’t be bringing it up. Ladies and Germs, it’s ETB’s NFL Week Eight Crystal Ball.

Andrew’s Predictions:

De Lorean DMC-12

1. Against the Vikings two weeks ago, Devin Hester showed that his inhuman speed and preternatural vision can be just as deadly when he lines up as a wide receiver. The Bears are trying to get him more and more involved, and this week Hester grabs 4 passes for 75 yards and a TD.

2. While Channing Crowder adjusts to the culture shock, he’ll also be dealing with a bad case of Brandon Jacobs. Jacobs is poised to go off in this game against an already hapless defense missing Zach Thomas: 125 total yards, 2 TDs.

3. When you drafted Lee Evans, you knew you were taking a streaky player. A guy who would go for long stretches without producing, then come out of nowhere to win you a couple games. Somehow everybody has forgotten the man only had 1 TD through eight weeks last season and still managed to finish with 8 TDs on the year. Against the Jets corners, this is one of those magical weeks when Evans wins your matchup for you: 8 receptions, 140 yards, 2 TDs.
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No CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell and Brian Spencer on Oct. 26, 2007 at 3:33pm in NFL, NFL Fantasy News

Fantasy Football: Week Eight Cheat Sheet

October 26, 2007

Starting the studs at RB, QB, and WR is easy, but fantasy championships are won with the well-informed decisions we all make on fringe starters every week. We agonize over these players until 7 minutes before kickoff, then kick ourselves about the guys we started 8 minutes after kickoff; we’re talking about the WR/TE Flex and WR/RB Flex plays.

As we gear up for the playoff run, Empty the Bench will be making a small change in policy. We have expanded our Position Rankings to include 20 Quarterbacks, 30 Running backs, 36 Wide Receivers, 15 Tight Ends and 15 Team Defenses. You can now refer to the Position Ranks for your WR3 and RB2 ranks. From here on out, the Cheat Sheet will be focused on those crucial flex-position rankings.

Jump for joy, Lee Evans gets the Jets

Prepare to plant foot squarely in ass–Empty the Bench’s Week Eight Cheat Sheet is here.

Week 8 Cheat Sheet Rankings

Week 8 Wide Receiver/Tight End Flex Plays

1. Lee Evans, Buffalo @ NYJ
2. Andre’ Davis, Houston @ SD
3. Greg Jennings, Green Bay @ DEN
4. Tony Scheffler, Denver vs. GB
5. Donald Lee, Green Bay @ DEN
6. Devery Henderson, New Orleans @ SF
7. Owen Daniels, Houston @ SD
8. Ronald Curry, Oakland @ TEN
9. Roydell Williams, Tennessee vs. OAK
10. Devin Hester, Chicago vs. DET

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No CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell and Brian Spencer on Oct. 26, 2007 at 2:36pm in Fantasy Rankings, NFL Fantasy News

Fantasy Football: Week 8 Position Rankings

October 25, 2007

Can anyone keep up with Moss?

Lucky you, starting this week Empty the Bench have slightly expanded our weekly position rankings. Every Thursday we’ll give you our top 20 QBs, 30 RBs, 36 WRs, 15 TEs, and 15 Team Defenses based on recent performance, injuries, bye weeks, and matchups. There’s a ton of conflicting ranks out there, but there’s only a few you can really count on. We’d like to think we’re one of ‘em. Buttoned up like never before, it’s ETB’s Week 8 Fantasy Rankings sans the idiot kickers.

More Week Eight Fantasy Advice:

ETB’s Week Eight Matchups

ETB’s Week Eight Stock Report

Fantasy Week 8: Top 20 Quarterbacks

Wayne Brady's Younger Brother

1. Tom Brady, New England vs. WSH
2. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis @ CAR
3. Ben Roethslisberger, Pittsburgh @ CIN
4. Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia @ MIN
5. Carson Palmer, Cincinnati vs. PIT
6. Eli Manning, New York Giants @ MIA
7. Derek Anderson, Cleveland @ STL
8. Drew Brees, New Orleans @ SF
9. Jon Kitna, Detroit @ CHI
10. Brian Griese, Chicago vs. DET
11. Vince Young, Tennessee vs. OAK
12. Philip Rivers, San Diego vs. HOU
13. Chad Pennington, New York Jets vs. BUF (Check Status)
14. Jeff Garcia, Tampa Bay vs. JAX
15. Brett Favre, Green Bay @ DEN
16. Marc Bulger, St. Louis vs. CLE
17. Jay Cutler, Denver vs. GB
18. Jason Campbell, Washington @ NE
19. Cleo Lemon, Miami vs. NYG
20. Trent Edwards, Buffalo @ NYJ

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No CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell and Brian Spencer on Oct. 25, 2007 at 3:15pm in Fantasy Rankings, NFL Fantasy News

Kevin McHale’s Fantabulous Garage Sale

October 25, 2007

Nobody wants meOh, Kevin McHale, you are a shrewd one. The beleaguered Minnesota Timberwolves GM pulled off another head-scratcher yesterday, trading away SG/SF Ricky Davis and PF/C Mark Blount to the Miami Heat in exchange for PF/Blob Antoine Walker, PF/C Michael Doleac, PF Wayne Simien, and a conditional first-round pick.

Other than dumping salary and freeing up minutes for the Timberwolves’ youngsters, the only thing McHale accomplished here was bailing out the Heat. After a miserable offseason which saw Miami rebuffed in every attempt to upgrade their roster, they land a legitimate scorer on the wing in Davis and a sharp-shooting big man in Blount. Pat Riley and Walker never saw eye-to-eye because of Walker’s inability to keep himself in shape and play disciplined basketball, so it’s also addition by subtraction there as well.

It’s unclear what role, if any, Walker will play for the rebuilding Timberwolves this season. Hopefully he’ll be bought out or benched, because it doesn’t make any sense to give shots and minutes to a 31-year-old forward who plays selfish basketball when Minnesota should be spending the year working on team chemistry, evaluating talent, and developing forwards Corey Brewer, Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, Al Jefferson, Chris Richards and Craig Smith. Wayne Simien has talent, but he’s unlikely to develop into much more than a role player. Hopefully this deal was another move designed to clear cap space to make a run at free agents during the next two offseasons. We shall see.

No CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Oct. 25, 2007 at 9:48am in NBA

Fantasy Football: Week Eight Matchups

October 24, 2007

Ben and his owners are clapping about a matchup with the Bungles

We’re halfway through the campaign, which means you’re fighting for supremacy (Andrew) or hanging on for dear life (that would be Brian). Who to start, who to bench and who plug in for spot starts is crucial in either scenario. To aid your noble quest for a title, every week during the 2007 NFL season ETB continues to examine a few key fantasy matchups at all the positions that matter (sorry, kickers don’t qualify). For each roster spot we’ll give out our Five Strong Plays, a few players to Temper Your Expectations for, one Sneaky Play of the Week, and one Dud of the Week.

These are not always the guys we think will score the most points or score the least points: there will always be obvious situations and choices we ignore. These also aren’t all sneaky plays. These are just the matchups that we feel deserve mention*.

Make sure to check back on these matchups the following week to see how each one of our picks actually fared. That way you can either sing the praises of ETB (likely) or scoff at our incompetence (very unlikely).

Good luck, but with ETB at your side you probably won’t need it.

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1 CommentPosted by Andrew Thell and Brian Spencer on Oct. 24, 2007 at 11:37am in NFL, NFL Fantasy News

Fantasy Basketball: NBA PG Rankings 1-30

October 23, 2007

Nash tops the PG ranks

1. Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns: You may have heard of this guy: the league’s best pure passer, shoots the lights out from the field and charity stripe, nails a few three-pointers every game, stays relatively healthy, and is the safest bet as the top fantasy hoops PG. Yes, He of the Countless Nicknames, just below, fills up the box score with more chutzpah, but the insane 53.2% FG, 90% FT, and 11.6 assists/per will go a long, long way towards helping you win categories that many of your fellow combatants overlook on draft day. Okay, these are all lies–he’s only here because he’s white. Rrrrrrraaaacial.

2. Gilbert Arenas, Washington Wizards: The field-goal percentage and the fact he’s coming of major knee surgery are the only things that keep him out of the top spot. He’s in a contract year, which could mean two things: he’ll be very motivated to perform on a level deserving of the max contract he so desires and he will likely not jeopardize his health if/when complications flare up from the surgery. You know we’re not fans of drafting guys with potential injury problems that could nag them all season (see Chris Bosh), but it’s hard to pass up Arenas after he averaged 28.4 points, 6.0 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals last year—even if he shot 41.8% on 20.9 field goal attempts.

3. Jason Kidd, New Jersey Nets: Every year we expect the stats to fall off a cliff, and every year we’re wrong. It’s time to accept that he’s a basketball cyborg and move on. The lower back pain will probably bother him all year, but he’s played through these kinds of ailments before. You have to love having a PG who averaged damn near a triple-double in 06/07 with 13 points, 8.2 boards (!), and 9.2 assists. The field-goal percentage isn’t so hot (40%), but you can live with it. The return of a healthy Richard Jefferson and Nenad Krstic could help push him back over 10 feeds/per.

4. Deron Williams, Utah Jazz: He’s for real, and he has the potential to be a more athletic John Stockton in Sloan’s offense (if less tenacious and clutch). There’s some differing views out there on the third-year player’s fantasy prospects, but we’re buying. For him to truly warrant this preseason rank, however, he’ll need to bump up his below-average 74.7% free-throw average, toss in another three-pointer to push him to about 2 per, and maintain, if not add to, his 80 overall steals in 06/07. Great talent around him, especially if Okur and Boozer stay healthy, AK-47 keeps his head in it, and Ronnie Brewer takes the next step.

5. Chauncey Billups, Detroit Pistons: Mr. Big Shot experienced somewhat of a down year in 06/07, most notably in his three-point shooting percentage (down almost 10 points to 34.5% compared to 05/06), assists (1.4 decrease) and points (1.5 drop). You’ll struggle to find a more consistent, heady fantasy player at his position over the past four or five years, however, and we think he’ll rebound with a nice overall effort in his sixth season with the Pistons. Preseason comments from him indicate he’ll be more aggressive in going to the hole, which should mean more free throws for this 88.2% career shooter.

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1 CommentPosted by Andrew Thell and Brian Spencer on Oct. 23, 2007 at 7:33pm in NBA, NBA Fantasy News

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