Rotisserie By The Numbers: Several Topics on Fantasy Football Folks

Nov 8, 2007 - 4:35 PM By Craig Rondinone PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

Without one main story dominating the fantasy football scene this week, I have decided to pull a James Harrison and tackle a couple different topics in this week's column.

Injuries, comebacks, surprises and debuts are all in the news. Here is a look at several stories that have impacts on the fantasy football world.

Larry Johnson's foot injury: If you placed a five-dollar wager in Las Vegas before the season on Priest Holmes becoming Kansas City's starting tailback at some point this year, you might be looking at a $1,000,000 windfall.

Conflicting reports have Johnson missing just this week with a sprained foot or missing the remainder of the season with a possible broken foot. Somehow I think the injury is somewhere in the middle and he will be out for a couple games but not the entire season. However, I am no fortune teller.

The Chiefs have stayed quieter about L.J.'s status than Bill Belichick during a press conference, so Johnson owners and people interested in picking up Priest will probably be in the dark about who the main running man is for K.C. until Saturday or even Sunday morning. Rest assured, Holmes should be picked up immediately in all fantasy leagues, because Johnson looks likely to miss at least this week's game against Denver, and we all know how porous the Broncos' run defense is.

Tank Johnson activated by the Dallas Cowboys: Fantasy football's favorite gun collector is ready to appear in his first game as a Cowboy, and America's Team's run defense is probably going to improve because of him. But the truth is, Dallas' run defense really does not need a Tank in the middle of the line.

Everybody was worried that nose tackle Jason Ferguson's season-ending injury in Week One was going to cause the 'Boys to get torched for 200 rushing yards a week, but that has not been the case at all. Dallas is ranked fifth in the NFL in run defense, allowing just 84 yards per game. Now a lot of that has to do with the fact that Dallas gets out to big leads in many games and opponents have to throw for the majority of the second half.

Even so, Johnson's presence does not look like it will mean much fantasy-wise. If anything, it is the Dallas pass defense that might get a slight boost from Tank. He has 8 1/2 sacks over the past two years and can push the pocket in on some quarterbacks.

Kellen Clemens looking solid in second start: The Chad Pennington Era is over, and the Kellen Clemens Era is officially underway. All you have to do is watch Clemens play for one series and you can tell immediately that he has a stronger arm than Pennington (by the way, so do I), along with quicker feet and better scrambling ability than Chad as well. Clemens had 48 rushing yards last week against Washington.

In his two starts this season, Clemens has amassed 486 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He looks poised in the pocket, does not panic when he feels pressure and has a solid corps of targets to throw to with Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery.

Besides experience, the only other thing Pennington has the kid beat on is accuracy. Clemens is completing a Joey Harrington-like 51.5 percent of his passes this year and seems to miss high a lot, especially on sideline patterns. While it is much too early to call him better than Pennington, fantasy owners will probably prefer Clemens over Damon Huard, Brian Griese, Steve McNair, Jason Campbell, Alex Smith, any QB in Carolina or Miami and many other NFL signalcallers.

The Detroit Lions playing some defense: We all figured that the Lions would be known for their run-and-gun, Mike Martz-led laser light show offense, but no one planned on them also having a ball-hawking defense that would lead the NFL in takeaways.

Detroit's D is first in interceptions, tied for second in fumble recoveries and, for some sprinkles on top, the Lions are also fifth in sacks with 24. Heck, in many leagues defensive tackle/monster in the middle Shaun Rogers has a higher fantasy value these days than Roy Williams or Calvin Johnson does.

Now depending on the defensive scoring rules of your fantasy league, Detroit could be the best defense to own or only somewhere in the top 10. What makes the Lions a little less than the best in many leagues is that they still give up plenty of yards (28th in total defense) and points (23rd in scoring defense), making them a defense that does bend AND break - unless they get a sack or turnover.

Detroit's defense could be on a fantasy decline in the coming weeks, though. The schedule the rest of the way includes two huge divisional battles against Green Bay, along with games vs. Dallas, San Diego, the New York Giants and an Adrian Peterson-heavy Minnesota team. You might want to trade the Lions' defense while their fantasy value is at an all-time high.

RUN AND SHOOT: Can you believe a defense with Julius Peppers on it is last in the league in sacks? That is the case with Carolina. The Panthers have a league-worst seven sacks this season. ... Pittsburgh's defense has allowed just 26 points combined in four home games this season. Jay Cutler and his Denver Broncos piled up 31 points on the Steelers in one road game, however. ... It should come as no shock that Buffalo's Lee Evans is back to being one of the most dangerous deep threats in the league again. Evans has 14 receptions for 303 yards and two scores over his last two games - because J.P. Losman was the one throwing him the ball most of the time. Hopefully Trent Edwards stays on the bench from here on out, because he should have never been starting once Losman was healthy in the first place. ... Time to pat me on the back. I told you all that San Diego's Vincent Jackson would be hurt by the arrival of Chris Chambers. Well, since the trade, Jackson has one catch for 16 yards in two games. Where is my raise?

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Jeff J. from Camden, New Jersey has a trade offer to ponder. Jeff asks, "How do you feel about this trade? I would be trading Jeff Garcia, DeShaun Foster and Jeff Reed for Drew Brees?"

Answer: Jeff, as soon as you are done reading my column, pick up the phone and finalize that trade faster than Don Shula can put an asterisk by New England's undefeated record. Garcia has gotten off to a good start, Foster is a starting running back and Reed is an above-average kicker, but none of them can win you a fantasy league singlehandedly like Brees can.

Brees is back, baby! After a little too much offseason gumbo, the New Orleans offense is running like a well-oiled machine once again, with Brees racking up 1,246 passing yards and 11 touchdown throws in his last four games.

Reed, like all kickers, is replaceable. So is the injury-prone, mediocre Foster, who rushes for 100 yards about as frequently as David Carr passes for 300. And Brees is a gigantic upgrade over Garcia, who is more of a No. 2 fantasy quarterback because he is normally only good for 200 yards and a TD pass at best on most weeks. So sign your name on the dotted line and get Brees into the fold. Your chances of finishing in the money in your league will definitely go up.

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