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I just got back from my second straight year of trick-or-treating with my niece (now six years old). She understands the concept for the most part: dress up in a costume, knock on strangers’ doors and get candy. Even so, there is something special about that kid (and I’m sure every uncle, aunt, dad, mom, etc. think the same about yours), but for whatever reason, she enjoys giving out candy more than getting it… giving it to her “customers” as she calls the other kids.
Watching her, I’m not sure she truly gets the concept, but while sitting there, I started thinking, “Do any of these kids?” What is trick-or-treating anyway? There are never any tricks, and what effort is there in ringing a doorbell to get treats? Could you imagine a version for us? Trick-or-money please! Ding dong… I dressed up in a costume, so give me some cash! Yea… don’t think that would work. Nevertheless, it does for kids because well, they can get away with just about anything.
In truth, they even get to judge and/or dismiss these free treats. You know we did it as kids too. “Oh man, they gave me candy corn, pretzels, orange peanuts or the worst of the worse… a toothbrush.” Seriously, what demented adult had the insane idea to give kids toothbrushes on a night where candy is all they can think about? It’d be like going to the bank, handing them your check to be cashed and having the teller hand you an accounting workbook.
In any case, we did it, and today’s kids do it too: we place value on the free treats received. It’s kind of crazy when you think about it, throwing away food (granted junk food, but still) just because it’s not what we like. How different do we as Fantasy owners act though? We’re playing a game where real life players give their all every week (well, unless you’re Randy Moss) and we treat them like candy, picking the ones we like and discarding the ones we don’t. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but just think for a second, is it all that different from trick-or-treating? Costumes involved, sometimes treats are received and sometimes tricks, and a post-experience valuation of the goods. See? Bet you never look at Halloween the same again.
With that in mind, let’s trick-or-treat some players and even suggest some appropriate costumes.
Robert Griffin, WAS – Definite treat. Any other logical costume choice than Superman? Apologies to Cam Newton, but he’s lost the rights.
Tony Romo – Trick. Has anyone ever dressed up as an Apple Turnover for Halloween?
Peyton Manning, DEN – Treat. How about another superhero and go as Iron Man. Artificial implants in order to make him function at an even higher level? Check.
Andrew Luck – Treat. He should go as Peyton Manning. That’s just too easy.
Matt Ryan – Treat. Goes as Psy (you know… this guy). Everyone loves him now, but where were all the fans months ago?
Calvin Johnson – Trick. Can’t go as Megatron now. Reflector maybe? One of the worst Transformers of all time and a reminder of the Calvin we used to know (used to know… hmm, maybe even as Gotye?).
Randy Moss – Trick. Definitely a Matrix costume or The Joker, something from years ago that someone thinks would still work or be enjoyable, but really isn’t.
Andre Johnson – Trick. John Carter. What better way to show you’re the biggest flop of 2012? (That was a summer movie bomb in case you don’t recall… yep, flopped that bad.)
Heath Miller – Treat. Vampire. Classic, but perfect way to represent someone who was thought to be dead and rises again.
Darren McFadden – Trick. Zombie. Another classic and the best way to describe how he looks on the field every week.
Alfred Morris – Treat. Some type of hypnotist (are there any famous ones)? It’s the only explanation for getting Mike Shanahan to stick with one running back.
Joe Flacco – Trick. Honey Boo Boo – after all, both think they’re God’s gift to us, even though we all know the truth.
That’s just a few, and I knew I should have jotted down a list because I had a few other good ones I’ve now forgotten amidst my sugar high. Tweet me yours (@allinkid), and I might include them next week as a look back.
TOP PAIR (Guaranteed a Good Week): Matthew Stafford, DET; Doug Martin, TB; Demaryius Thomas, DEN – This is why you don’t bench Stafford. This is why you don’t sell low on him. This is why…ah, you get it… It’s always fun when owners can come out of the Thursday night game with a huge lead. This time, it was thanks to Dougie Fresh… Had Thomas as my No. 1 WR in Week 8, and that would have held true if not for two surprising WRs (mentioned below).
RIVER RAT (Surprising Top Performances): Alex Smith, SF; Dexter McCluster, KC; Titus Young, DET & Michael Crabtree, SF – Smith almost had a perfect day if not for the one incompletion being a blatant drop. Still, no one expected that against a strong Arizona D… As he does every year, Dex snuck in a highly valuable game. Too bad nearly no one used him… Hitting Crabtree first, at least many owners used him, but to abuse Patrick Peterson like that was still a shock. Meanwhile, few trusted Titus against Seattle and watched as he caught nine passes for 100 yards and two scores.
GUT SHOT (Let Everyone Down): Eli Manning, NYG; Reggie Bush, MIA; Victor Cruz, NYG – Two weeks in a row little bro. We can’t knock Eli down too far, but this game against Pittsburgh will be telling… I’m not sure if Reggie’s performance or the amount of carries Daniel Thomas received is more worrisome… Calvin Johnson was nearly a back-to-back selection, but Fantasy’s top WR mustered just two Fantasy Points (FP) against Dallas. I’ll say it again, “Dallas shuts down opposing WR1s.”
Breakdown: Hold ‘Em – start them and/or players I like more than most rankings have them. Fold ‘Em – outright sit them; don’t consider them start-worthy in standard-sized leagues. Bluffs – still start them, but I like them less than most rankings and they will disappoint.
Michael Vick, PHI (@NO) – My Ranking 8: Yes, the team is talking about benching Vick, firing Andy Reid, changing the team name to the Philadelphia Hype… okay, maybe not the last one. In any case, Week 9 is where you give Vick one more chance, just like the team, and Biggie. No one in football is worse on defense than the Saints, and they allow 317 passing yards per game!
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (@NYG) – MR 9: While the Giants are a bit better than the Saints on defense, it’s not by much. Tony Romo just torched them for 437 yards and a TD, and it could have been more if not for Dez Bryant’s fingertips…
Big Ben also has at least one TD in each game and only three INTs on the year.
Reggie Bush, MIA (@IND) – MR 14: As mentioned in the wrap-up, there are some concerns about Bush now. Put those fears to rest as Reggie faces the Indy defense. The Colts allow 121.9 rushing YPG, which means there is plenty of room for Reggie to run even if Daniel Thomas takes some carries again.
Mikel Leshoure, DET (@JAX) – MR 19: Disclaimer: As long as he plays – who knew Jim Schwartz was from the Belichick-Shanahan school of injury reports and RB handling. With that caveat in place, as long as Leshoure really isn’t hurt and gets a full workload, a good day is in store. The Jags allow 119.6 rushing YPG and Green Bay is the only team that hasn’t topped 12 RB FP against them.
Marques Colston, NO (PHI) – MR 10: Don’t let last week’s output sway you. After all, Colston still caught five passes for 63 yards. The Eagles pass defense isn’t as scary as The Birds, as they have allowed four teams to notch 23 FP or more against them (Cardinals, Giants, Lions and Falcons – no, not more birds!). Colston is easily Drew Brees’ favorite target with 70 targets on the year and 51 in the last four games.
Denarius Moore, OAK (TB) – MR 14: Staying on the targets theme for a moment, Moore has at least eight in every game after missing Week 1. He also has four TDs in the last five games and Tampa Bay allows 234.6 receiving yards and nearly a TD per game to WRs. Moore also has 40 FP over the last three games, and the Bucs allow 27.6 FPPG to opposing receivers. Sounds like plenty of reasons to love Moore… more. Yep, I did it.
Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson, PHI (@NO) – MR 19 and 22: On the other side of the Saints-Eagles matchup is Philly’s duo. I like Mike Vick this week, so obviously, I like the WRs. The Saints are the only team allowing over 30 FPPG to receivers and give up nearly two TDs per game to them. Pretty sure you can figure out that math and see why both have a good bet to score.
Greg Olsen, CAR (@WAS) – MR 6: Well, everyone is on my Heath Miller bandwagon now. As a result, we’ve broken down from the weight, and I need to find a new ride. This week, it’s Olsen’s wagon, as Carolina has the benefit of playing Washington. In case you haven’t noticed, the Skins couldn’t stop you and me from putting up passing numbers on them. They’re allowing 11.6 FPPG to TEs and have given up seven TE TDs already.
San Diego Chargers (KC) – MR 5: The last time San Diego played Kansas City in Week 4, they scored 20 FP on six turnovers and a defensive TD. No team has turned the ball over more (Chiefs have 25 on the year), and only Tony Romo has more INTs than Matt Cassel does (13 to 10) but on 77 more attempts.
Christian Ponder, MIN (@SEA) – MR 22: Not only is Ponder simply a matchup-based QB, sometimes those matchups don’t even help enough. Ponder managed just two FP versus Arizona and then produced just 13 against a weak Tampa Bay secondary. A large part is Ponder’s INTs (seven over the past four games), and Seattle isn’t the place to correct that. Seattle has allowed three QBs to hit double digits: Tony Romo, Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford. They even held Aaron Rodgers to nine points in Seattle. You think Ponder deserves to be in the same sentence as those or has a prayer in Seattle?
Isaac Redman, PIT (@NYG) – MR 42: Know how many carries Isaac Redman has the past two weeks? Zero (he can’t even get on the field). Even if he suits up, Redman is clearly the odd-man out, as Jonathan Dwyer has impressed and Rashard Mendenhall looks to be returning.
Montario Hardesty, CLE (BAL) – MR 47: So much for the hope of some value with Trent Richardson banged up. Twenty-four carries and 122 yards later, Hardesty is staring at the edge of football relevancy.
Tennessee WRs (CHI) – MR 43/44/45: It’s the Bears, run! No, seriously, Fantasy wise, you should run in the other direction. Chicago is a defensive juggernaut (bi***). The Bears allow just 8.6 FPPG to opposing QBs (the only team under 10.5) and rank as the third toughest matchup for receivers. Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright and Nate Washington will be lucky to score, as Chicago has allowed just four receiving TDs all year.
Domenik Hixon, NYG (PIT) – MR 51: It appeared as though Hixon would be the newest addition to the Giants-third-WR-who-has-value list. Unfortunately, Hixon is fighting off Rueben Randle as the third option meaning he isn’t the go-to option once Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks are covered. Add in a tough matchup with Pittsburgh and you have a situation to avoid.
Marcedes Lewis, JAX (DET) – MR 24: I know what you’re thinking, “It’s against the Lions; there is some upside here.” Not so fast. Lewis has two points in each of his last three games and was held scoreless against Indy. The only valuable games came with TDs, which Detroit doesn’t allow many of – just four TE TDs all year. Don’t get too cute in Week 9.
Philadelphia Eagles (@NO) – MR 21: I warned to stay away from their defense last week against Atlanta. Well, this week is no different. Wait, actually it is. It’s worse! A road game against the Saints? A team fifth in yards and sixth in scoring with Drew Brees at QB and at home? This is definitely worse.
Joe Flacco, BAL (@CLE) – MR 14: Honey Boo Boo did throw for 356 yards and a TD against Cleveland the first time, but that was while Joe Haden was suspended. Last year’s game against Cleveland for Flacco: 10-for-23, 158 yards, no TD; 11-for-24, 132 yards, two TDs, one INT. Those aren’t exciting numbers are they?
C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, BUF (@HOU) – MR 20/24: Between the two, Spiller gets the higher spot because of his explosiveness and pass catching. Make no mistake; both are risky against the tough Texans defense. The Texans already present a threat most weeks (Denver and Baltimore both held to five FP rushing), and with a clear timeshare, the upside for both is limited.
Donald Brown, NYG (MIA) – MR 27: Speaking of timeshares, it’s not a guarantee that Brown gets the full workload back. Ballard was decent in his time as the lead RB and was the one that found the end zone last week. That last part will be tough for both as Miami has ranked near the top all season for rush defense and has allowed just two rushing TDs.
Josh Gordon, CLE (BAL) – MR 35: I don’t like to revel in player’s failures, but I did say Week 8 was when Gordon would finally disappoint. It had to come. Teams finally recognized the name and watched some tape. Gordon is still a big-play threat – one of the biggest – but as I said, he is the definition of boom or bust. Do you want to risk the bust while hoping for the boom against Baltimore, a team that isn’t as bad as others are making them out to be?
Darrius Heyward-Bey (TB) – MR 42: Even when scoring, DHB has failed to top nine FP all season. It’s easy to see that Denarius Moore is the WR weapon of choice in Oakland, and while the Bucs secondary can be overly aggressive, it will take a blown play for DHB to have a big day.
Jermichael Finley, GB (ARZ) – MR 18: At this rate, I might just put “insert tight end playing Arizona here.” The Cardinals have allowed just one team to top six FP at the tight end position, and that was New England with Rob Gronkowski having a good day. The Cards just stifled Vernon Davis, and Finley is A) not on Gronkowski’s level and B) not as important to his offense as Gronk or Vernon Davis.