Titans @ Steelers – A Fantasy Perspective

September 10, 2009

The NFL regular season kicks off tonight with the Tennessee Titans traveling to Pittsburgh to face the division rival Steelers.  While, football fans everywhere are ripe with anticipation to get this season started, fantasy football owners are eager to see if all their draft preparation is going to pay off.  neither team will be confused with offensive powerhouses, with the teams ranked 21-22 in total offense last season.  Both teams make their bread and butter with punishing run games, both offensively and defensively.  So in the land of fantasy, the running backs on these two teams are safe bets to be team MVP.

Let’s look at tonight’s matchup to see where fantasy value lies.

Must start:

Willie Parker (RB) Pitt – True, the Titans were ranked 6th in the league in rush defense last year.  But they’ve also lost the big man in the middle, Albert Haynesworth, to the Washington Redskins.  Sure, they’ve been quite good in his absences in the past, but lets see how they fare this year.  Fast Willie Parker is healthy for the first time in a year and is looking to regain his spot among the most underrated runners in the past couple years.

LenDale White (RB) Tenn – Chris Johnson has all the hype, and rightfully so, but White is the banger inside for the Titans.  While I won’t project a monster game from White, he has the best chance to score on a short yardage run against an aging Casey Hampton at DT and a LB corp missing Lawrence Timmons.

Worth a shot:

Santonio Holmes (WR) Pitt – This all depends on how Tennessee matches up against him.  If they stick Cortland Finnegan on him, he’s going to have a very tough night.  On the other hand, against Nick Harper, I like Holmes chances at grabbing a few balls thrown his way, including one over the top on a play action pass.

Bo Scaife (TE) Tenn – True, Pittsburgh’s linebackers are among the elite in the NFL.  But I expect the Steelers front 7 to bring constant pressure against Kerry Collins and he’ll be forced to dump off to the tight end.  In PPC leagues, Scaife should be a good source of decent production.

Chris Johnson (RB) Tenn – Runners drafted in the first round of fantasy drafts are drafted there for a reason:  they are expected to produce on a weekly basis.  And I’m not discounting his talent or offensive line.  He’s due for a monster season.  But against this defense, yards are going to be hard to come by, so White will be the grinder for the short stuff.  Would it surprise me to see Johnson go off for 100 yards and a TD tonight?  No, he’s a number one running back and thats what you draft them for.  But am I willing to bet on it, given capable replacements available?  No, I’d rather start a Ray Rice or even try my hand with a Mike Bell for a one-week gamble.

Is Big Ben in for more of the same tonight?

Is Big Ben in for more of the same tonight?

Guys I’m avoiding:

Kerry Collins (QB) Tenn – Notice the lack of Tenn receiver love listed here?  It’s because nobody knows who will step up and be the number one receiver. (A number one receiver means, according to Emmitt Smith earlier this week, “When I say No. 1, I mean your No. 1 go-to guy.”  Thanks Emmitt, for clearing that up for us)  Plus, Pittsburgh owns the number one pass defense in the league from last year, and only look better this year.

Ben Roethlisberger (QB) Pitt – Tennessee’s secondary is also top-ten in the league.  Big Ben has never been an accurate passer or a volume passer, which doesn’t bode well against the likes of Cortland Finnegan and Michael Griffin.  I’d look at my other options at QB if possible.

From a non-fantasy perspective, this game should be a good one.  Pittsburgh is out to defend its Super Bowl title and is trotting out pretty much the same team as last season.  With a healthy Willie Parker and a full season from William Gay at corner, Pittsburg is the team to beat in the division.  The Titans have alot to prove this year, in spite of their playoff run from a season ago.  Was Collins worth the investment at QB?  Who will catch the passes?  That’s just on the offensive side of the ball.  On defense, they’ve lost their coordinator and the most dominating defensive tackle in the game during the offseason.  It will be interesting to see how Jeff Fisher can get his team to respond to the changes.  He always manages to get his team to play above expectations, so don’t expect a huge drop-off, just don’t expect playoffs again either.

Carebear’s BMW Championship Preview

September 10, 2009
The beautiful FedEx cup.  Golfs biggest prize.  I love corporate sponsorship

The beautiful FedEx cup. Golf's biggest prize. I love corporate sponsorship

The FedEx Cup is winding down and heating up as the tour rolls into LeMont, Illinois this week.  Steve Stricker took over the lead in the cup standings with his victory in Boston and Tiger is still reeling from a few tough losses, but finished strong at the Deutsche Bank. 

Cog Hill is a different animal than it was even last year.  The new 7,300 yard track should make this event finish closer to par than year’s past, but since I am never right when it comes to any of this I will just get to this week’s picks. 

My Four Horsemen:

1. Camilo Villegas:

Camilo is the defending champ of this event, and should defend it pretty well.  He finished well back in the pack last week after withdrawing the Barclays with a wrist injury.   So basically, I have nothing good to report about him except that he won last year. 

2. Jim Furyk

Some men can pull bald off, put the Srixon hat back on, Jim.

Some men can pull bald off, put the Srixon hat back on, Jim.

Furyk played well last week in Boston finishing tied for 8th and finished tied for 3rd at Cog Hill last year.  He is yet to win this season, but has 8 top-10’s.  His length off the tee will hurt him a bit (180th on tour, but he puts it in the fairway) but don’t be surprised to see him in the running. 

3. Paddy Harrington

Paddy started off so slow this season, but has been on a tear of late.  He just seems to find a way to give tourneys away on Sunday, though.  In his last four tourneys Paddy has finished 2nd, 4th, 10th, and 2nd, only Tiger puts up numbers like that regularly.  It seems Harrington has found his game its too bad he uses Wilson clubs or maybe he’d win every week. 

4. Geoff Ogilvy

Geoff had a solid week in Boston in what must be a frustrating season for the big Aussie.  Two wins will make anyone happy, but he won two of the first five events, and has since struggled a bit.  Ogilvy came back last week finishing 7th, and when he is on he is one of the top-5 players on tour.  He has the length to be a serious contender if he puts it together this week. 

My Darkhorse Surprise Guys

I dont know how I feel about Under Armour on a golf course, but Johnsons got a shot(Getty Images)

I don't know how I feel about Under Armour on a golf course, but Johnson's got a shot(Getty Images)

Dustin Johnson

He hits the hell out of the ball, but doesn’t hit the fairway much.  Finished tied for fourth last week, and this is a new course for everybody this week so who knows. 

Sean O’Hair

This being a course the players are not completely familiar with will put Sean O’Hair’s name out there as well.  He is becoming less of an underdog with every tournament he plays, but I will pretend he still is one.  A great ball striker, he may be the story that Villegas was last year here. 

Where’s Tiger?

A familiar image in the past couple months

A familiar image in the past couple months

Tiger has as good a chance as anyone, but he’s too popular a pick.  I really want to see how he deals with all these close defeats, though.  To think the man has played 15 events, made 14 cuts, and has 12 top 10’s and the season’s been a bit of a disappointment just speaks of how much better than everyone else Tiger is. 

FedEx Cup

This is the last tournament before the Tour Championship so it has some big implications.  The FedEx Cup will be guaranteed to the winner of the Tour Championship if they are in the top-5 of the cup standings going into the event.  So the BMW becomes a crucial event.  2,500 points will be awarded to the player who is #1 heading into Eastlake as well, making him hard to catch unless someone in the top-5 wins the Tour Championship. 

I don’t understand it either.  PGATour.com tries to explain it, but it may as well be in Swahili because I have no idea. 

Really at this point, Tiger, Stricker, and somehow Heath Slocum are the only guys with a chance to be number one going into the final, but there is a pretty large chance that the last tournament will decide the Cup unlike year’s past.  

As my colleagues did with their football picks, I will encourage you not to bet based on my predictions.  If this is your first time reading one of my tournament previews I tend to be very, very wrong.  But enjoy the tournament. 

A Little Champions Tour Sidestory

Mike Reid, Loyal to clubs or cheap bastard? (Photo/ Getty Images)

Mike Reid, Loyal to clubs or cheap bastard? (Photo/ Getty Images)

Golf is a sport where people often cite ever changing technology and ever rising prices when it comes to the clubs in player’s bags.  A few weeks back Mike Reid took down took down the Jeld-Wen Tradition shooting a 16 under 272 at Crosswater Resort in Oregon.  The surprising thing was, he was hitting ancient clubs.  Here’s a look at the old man’s bag and the club’s values from the PGA value guide.

I will list the High end prices, too. 

Titleist 983K, 7.5 Degree (gotta have a sweet swing to hit that one)  $31.30

3 Wood:
Taylormade 200 Tour(I could barely even track this down) $23.65

5 Wood:
Taylormade Burner Raylor(This thing is ancient. I had to search ebay to track it down so I don’t have an exact value, but bidding starts at.) $40

Titleist 909H- pretty new club- $71

(4-E)Ben Hogan Apex Forged, btw, the 1986 models.  The Value Guide has no value on these and the only set I found on ebay was selling them more as antiques I think.  Lets value them at $200 for both nostalgic and former great club value. 

Mizuno MP: $ 50
Titleist Vokey $ 50

Putter:  TP Mills Tradition- we will leave this out for sake of argument because it costs more than my whole bag. 

Sans putter his bag costs a grand total of $465.95
So if your excuse for not golfing is that you don’t have clubs, just know that Mike Reid won a big old man tournament with less than a $500 bag.  It would be hard to find any small time muny champ with less than a $500 bag.