Tag:Steelers
Posted on: October 23, 2009 11:44 pm
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Can the Vikings Steel a Win?

The Viking Ship - Week 7: Steeling a Win

By: Christopher Torola

This weekend the Vikings will travel to Pittsburgh's Hines Field to take on the Steelers, were coach Mike Tomlin will face his old boss Brad Childress. This should be a high scoring affair. Both teams have been the victims of fourth quarter collapses, although the Vikings have been able to hold off all their challengers all year. The biggest challenge this week will be for the Vikings to get their ground game going., which they have been able to do against AFC teams this year. This week will be harder then the Browns and the Ravens though... the Steelers are tied with the Vikings for the best run defense, allowing only 3.3 yards per carry on the season.

Some Things to watch this week.

- Will Adrian Peterson stay on track against an elite run defense, which should include Troy "Hair" Polamalu returning from a knee injury?

- Will Heath Miller continue the trend of opposing tight ends scoring big yards and touchdowns against the Vikings secondary, or will he need to stay in and help block Jared Allen and the Viking's sack-happy defensive line?

- Will Brett Favre continue to keep his cool, and the ball, or will he return to forcing balls into tight spots against a tough Steelers defense?

- Will Big Ben Roethlesberger be able to "keep the play alive" long enough to complete his signature pass' or will he fall victim to the Vikings continued success in the turn-over battle?

- Will Antonie Winfield be able to take the field, or could the Steelers be able to take advantage of a match up against a back up cornerback.

 

In a game that will likely come down to the wire, with plenty of scores... we should see another Viking win as they continue to fight for the top spot in the NFC.

 

Posted on: October 15, 2009 5:35 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2009 8:08 pm
 

Buy Low , Sell High - Fantasy Time.

Time to start making those trades!!!

By: Christopher Torola


Hello fellow fantasy football junkies. Right now is that magical time of year when you look at your roster and think one of a few things. Hopefully, "Wow! My roster is stacked, is it time to start looking at playoff match ups?". Then there are those thinking, "My team is so close, if I could just rearrange my talent a bit." And of course there are those of you thinking.... "If I don't put together a big winning streak... I'm done." Or maybe your like me and play in way too many leagues, so your facing all of the above.

No need to worry. I have decided to put together a list of some players that will make your team better as the year goes on, as well as a list of guys that you may want to sell high on. I'll go position by position, and list a few guys in each category.

Quarterbacks: Buy Low

- Matt Cassel is a great buy low option. He has increased his numbers week by week as he has regained his health. The Kansas City Chiefs defense is terrible so he is likely to still be throwing the ball late in games, Larry Johnson has proven ineffective this year, and he still has games against 7 bad teams, including the Bills and Browns during the 1st two rounds of most fantasy play-offs (weeks 14 and 15).

- Donovan McNabb is another that may be had for cheap. He was hurt yet again, but he seems to already be recovered from that. The Original Campbell's Chunky Soup Man has already had his bye, has 2 running backs that will catch the ball, and a couple talented young wide outs. He has put up his numbers against bad teams, but he still has plenty of those left, and just look what Kevin Colb was able to do with the Eagle's weapons when he was running the team. McNabb may play even better if he thinks he has to worry about losing his job.

Quarterbacks: Sell High

- Joe Flacco. Of the teams remaining on his schedule, at least 6 look to be tough match ups. His receiving core is old, and not that good anymore. Both Todd Heap and Derrik Mason tend to get banged up. A few of his touchdowns have come off passing plays to Willis McGahee in the redzone. You shouldn't expect that to keep up. As the season goes on Ray Rice should continue to mature and turn passing play calls into rushing ones.

- Tom Brady is an odd choice for sell high, as he has not been meeting expectations this year; however, if you act fast you may be able to trade him to someone who thinks that he is still knocking the rust off. I think that what you have seen from Brady so far, is what your going to get this year. Over the next 2 weeks he plays the Titans and the Buccaneers, but after that he has a bye followed by 5 straight quality passing defenses. If you can still find someone willing to pay top value for Brady.. cash in.

Running Backs: Buy Low

- Pierre Thomas. Thomas was hurt to start the season and missed the first 2 games. Since he has been back he has averaged more fantasy points per start then Adrian Peterson. I know 2 games is a small sample size, but look at what he did the end of last year. Another interesting note is that as Thomas has preformed, Brees has cooled off. It seems the Saints will be willing to get a quick lead and then run the ball with Thomas. He is still being listed on the injury report and limited at practice... you should be able to get him for a song.

- Steven Jackson. Jackson has been running hard this season, but has been unable to find the endzone. That is the difference between Jackson being a decent #2 and a fantasy darling. With a return of Marc Bulger on the horizon, Jackson should see a little less of the 8 and 9 man fronts. He also has a great play-off schedule, that feature the Titans, Texans, and the Cardinals.

Running Backs: Sell High

- Willis McGahee. McGahee has seen a huge amount or red zone success this year, and the Ravens have a line built for running, but there just too many chefs in the kitchen. So far McGahee has seen almost all of the touchdowns, and that is unlikely to continue. Ray Rice is playing amazingly, and is the future of the team. If you can find someone to buy his NFL leading 7 TDs as anything more than an anomaly, trade with them quick.

- Rashard Mendenhall. He is coming off to very productive weeks, and there are a lot of people out there who think he is going to become the guy in Pittsburgh. It seem like almost the only people saying otherwise are the Steelers. This is a risky sell high, because if he does hold on to the starting job, he will put up good numbers... but I think a job share with Willie Parker is much more likely. If you can get good value for him, play it safe and deal him now.

Wide Receivers: Buy Low

- Roddy White. He is coming off a huge week, so it may already be too late to get him cheap. I am assuming the reason for the slow start was his hold out. He played very poorly the first 3 weeks, but as soon as the team had the bye week off, it seems as though Matt Ryan and WHite synced up, and should continue to put up solid numbers.

- Brandon Marshall. Here is another guy the secret may be out on already.He is coming off his 2 touchdown game against the Patriots, but get him if you can. He has posted better numbers each week this season, which makes sense after getting kicked out of practice this pre-season. Marshall may be turning into T.O. Jr, but with the attitude comes the talent.

- Braylon Edwards. Take a chance on him as a player with upside. Don't pay for his 2007 numbers, but look for better then his 2008. It is suppose to take a while for a wide out to make any impact on a new team, but Edwards caught a TD in his first game as a member of the Jets. He actually caught 2, but the refs blew a challenge and reversed the second.

Wide Receivers: Sell High

- Terrell Owens. T.O. isn't as much of a sell high, as an abandon ship. If you have him, you know how bad it is. There still might be someone in your league who hasn't got burnt by T.O. yet, find him and see what he will give you for him. Don't give him away for nothing, but if you can find someone who will give you a viable #3 or low end #2... it might be time to cut your losses. 

- Calvin Johnson. Thats right, Megatron. This has more to do with his and his QBs injuries then anything else. I will not be surprised if he misses more then just last week with his thigh and knee injuries. Mix that with the possibility that he will be going with either a banged up rookie or a washed out veteran throwing him the ball, and it may be time to move on him. I am still a big Calvin Johnson fan, but I don't think this is his year. You may want to try trade on his name for big value while you still can

Tight End: Buy Low

- Jason Witten. The talent is still there and the scores will come. As teams start to game plan against the Cowboys running game, we should start to see Witten sneaking past the line backers for 20 yards up the middle on a regular basis. Get him while owners are worried about the demise of Tony Romo and the Cowboys passing game.

Tight End: Sell High

- Heath Miller. Miller has traditionally been a hot starter, but tends to disappear as the year goes on. This could have a lot to do with Big Ben usually getting killed in the pocket, and the Steelers looking for extra blocking. As the Steeler look to build up their running game, Miller will become less and less of a factor in the passing game.

I hope this helps some of you out there. Feel free to throw out some more names, talk about the ones I suggested, or just call me an idiot. Feedback is fun!

Posted on: August 9, 2009 2:36 am
Edited on: August 9, 2009 3:35 pm
 

The Secret to winning your fantasy league!

So the one secret to winning is....

By: Christopher Torola

That there is no one secret that works. I have heard every publication or pair of knuckleheads on a podcast touting everything from "Draft the Opposite" to "The Magic Formula". They also claim to have mathematic proof and historical data to prove that their method works... the trouble though is that "Draft the Opposite" tells me to always draft wide receivers and quarterbacks ahead of running backs so you have the pick of the litter at those positions, and "The Magic Formula" was basically telling me that I have to take as many running backs as I can start with my first picks, since they score the most points. If they both have proof that their systems work the best, how can they be the complete opposite strategies?

So I have decided to put my strategy right here on this blog, and may even claim that it is the only sure fire way to win... why not? Everyone else is doing it. The trouble is, I like to look at drafts in many different ways.  You have to take into effect the different variables like, scoring system, league size, draft position, trends, possible injuries, the average barometric pressure and how they effect quarterback's passer ratings, and the other owner's temperament. Sadly, I don't actually have a system that will work with when taking all those variables into consideration... Instead, here is a list of some tips that have worked for me in the past.

- Watch for steep drops in talent on a given year and actually use tiers for the different positions. For example this year there seems to be a sharp drop in talent after both the first 4-5 running backs and the first 5-8 wide receivers. So if you are in a 12 team league, and you have the 12th and 13th picks in a snake draft, go ahead and take 2 WR or a WR and a QB.

Using the CBS average draft position or ADP: if you went with the top 2 RB's you would most like get 2 of  - Chris Johnson ADP 11, Marion Barber III ADP 17, or Brian Westbrook ADP 18.  With your next 2 picks, 36th and 37th, your QBs and WRs are the likes of Dwayne Bowe ADP 36, Kurt Warner ADP 37, Terrell Owens ADP 37, Wes Welker ADP 37, and Tony Romo ADP 39.

On the other hand, at 12th and 13th pick you can get WR and QBs like - Tom Brady ADP 12, Andre Johnson ADP 13, Randy Moss ADP 15, or Peyton Manning ADP 16. When it comes back around to picks 36 and 37 your available RBs are - Kevin Smith ADP 34, Larry Johnson ADP 40, Darren McFadden ADP 41 and Marshawn Lynch ADP 47.

Given these 2 options which team would you rather have after 4 picks? Team A - Marion Barber III, Brian Westbrook, Kurt Warner and Wes Welker or Team B - Andre Johnson, Peyton Manning, Larry Johnson and Darren McFadden? Need a hint? CBS projects Team A to score 847 total points and Team B to score 875 total points.

This works the same way for the running backs. If you have a top pick, you are going to want to take guys like Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, and Maurice Jones-Drew. Say your favorite guy is Tom Brady and you have the number 3 pick. You know he won't be there when it gets back to you, but Phillip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers will be. If you take Brady with the 3rd pick, your RBs that make it back to you are in the class of Ryan Grant and Ronnie Brown. The difference between Brady's projected fantasy points - 325 and Phillip Rivers - 318, is 7 on the year. The difference between Matt Forte, 196, and Ronnie Brown, 154, is 42 fantasy points.

- Avoid joining player runs. This goes back to the tiers and drops in talents, but if in the 5th round of a 10 team league some one right after you takes Jason Witten, and before it gets back to you Antonio Gates, Dallas Clark, Tony Gonzalez, and Greg Olsen are taken as well. You could take Chris Cooley with your 6th round pick to make sure you get one of the better tight ends, trouble with that, is Cooley should be able to go another round or two before you need to get him. Instead you could take Chad Ochocinco, Matt Schaub, Jay Cutler or Santonio Holmes.

- Don't be afraid to start runs. In the last example it was good to be the guy the grabbed Jason Witten, just don't do it too early or it won't become a run, just a bad pick. If it works you got the best player at the position and forced everyone else to follow suit. This will generally only work with TEs and the mid-level QBs.

- Pay attention to draft averages and spot some underrated talent. Pick a couple guys to watch that look to out perform their average draft positions and target them. An example could be Cedric Benson. His ADP is 73rd and he is set to run the ball in with for the Bengals, a team that just lost T.J. Houshmandzadeh and does not have a RB by committee. 

- Load up on proven commodities in the middle rounds. Its fun to pick guys who are about to break out, but it is hard to get it right. Knowshon Moreno and LenDale White are both being drafted around the 57th pick. It is true that Moreno could break out, but chances are better he won't. White on the other hand has been getting better year by year, and he was more than serviceable last year.

- Go Bill Belichick if you can get away with it. Anyone feel like trading draft picks? If you can find someone to take the 7th overall pick from you for their 2nd and 3rd round picks... go for it. Then see if you can trade one of your two 3rd round picks for a 4th and a 5th round pick. The way I see it, two 2nd rounders, a 3rd rounder, two 4th and 5th rounders are better then just one pick every round. Good luck pulling this off; however, its a good lesson to apply to auction leagues as well. Spread your money out on good wide outs and 2nd tier running backs, avoid the few huge dollar guys. Since I called it Belichicking, i guess you should also tape your competition doing mock drafts.

- Take chances in the later rounds. Ok you got all your starters drafted, even have a good back up QB, RB, and WR. Sure Isaac Bruce is still available, but why not take a rookie wide receiver. Bruce or a player like him would be o.k., but you will never want to start him, not even on a bye week. If you take a late chance you might end up with this years DeSean Jackson.

-Lastly, and most importantly, take your kicker with your last pick. Nothing more needs to be said about that.

 

 

Posted on: July 10, 2009 3:01 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2009 7:35 pm
 

My Top 10 Quarterbacks going into 2009.

Top 10 QBs

By: Christopher Torola


 Drew Brees - Is the NFL's answer to the spread offense. Last year he threw for over 5,000 yards and connected for 34 touchdowns. Since arriving in New Orleans it has seemed that Brees and head coach Sean Payton have been completely on the same page. This year Brees should also have a healthy Marques Colston and a full off-season to work with tight end Jeremy Shockey. Combine that with an O-line that only allowed 13 sacks in almost 650 passing attempts along with the fact that his running back, Reggie Bush, is a better weapon catching the ball than he is rushing it and you end up with the NFL's top QB heading into the 2009 season.


Peyton Manning - is always at or near the top of current QB lists. His ability to dissect defenses at the line mixed with a strong arm and the sure hands of Reggie Wayne, along with blossoming new comer Anthony Gonzalez, make Peyton my number two QB for this year. He is several years removed from his 40 touchdown days, but still has one of the best O-lines, is another year removed from his surgery, and what has to be an improved running game will only help his passing numbers this year.

Philip Rivers - Broke the 4,000 yard mark for the first time last year. As LaDainian Tomlinson declines, Rivers has begun to take the reigns as the team leader. AT 27 he is still a young QB. He has a great competitive drive that may come off as cocky, but he is developing a game to go with it. He led the NFL in passing touchdowns last year totaling 34. The only concerns here are that uber-tight end Antonio Gates is another year older, Vincent Jackson doesn't have the surest hands, and Chris Chambers hasn't really lived up to expectations... but that, like his unorthodox throwing style, hasn't stopped Rivers yet.


Kurt Warner - is another year older, but does that really matter when you are tossing the ball to the likes of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin? Last year he proved that he could still throw for 4,500 plus yards and 30 touchdowns, and all that was done with no running game to speak of. He got his team almost as deep into the play-offs as possible. He is likely to start performing at a lower rate some day, but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until he proves otherwise.

Ben Roethlisberger - Has never had amazing numbers, but did throw 32 TD's in 2007. He also just won his 2nd Super Bowl and is only 27 years old. He is as clutch as they get, thats right Brady. He may also be the games best playmaking QB. As a big man he is able to keep plays alive much longer then they should be. Team that with a rocket launcher arm the the ermgence of Santonio Holmes and you have Big Ben, number 6 on my QB list.

Tom Brady - Although some may think me crazy for putting him this low on the list, I had a hard time putting him this high. He is coming off of a serious knee surgery, and was already not very mobile. It may also take him some time to recover his throwing strength and rhythm.  That being said, he still has Randy Moss and Wes Welker to catch the ball. He has always made good reads, and he knows how to win. I doubt he will ever throw 50 again, and i can almost guarantee he won't hit 40 this year, but his history is too good to place him any less then 6th on my list.

Donovan McNabb - Has consistently been one of the NFL's best passer. He has also consistently been hurt. He has also consistently had little talent at the wide receiver position since the infamous departure of Terrell Owens. He made it to the 2nd round of the play-offs last year with the help of always steady Brian Westbrook and new comer DeSean Jackson. As long as Westbrook continues to catch the ball out of the backfield, Mr. Chunky Soup will remain a top flight QB.


A Healthy Brett Favre as a Minnesota Viking. This may be the Viking homer in me, but I am basing this off a few things. If he plays for the Vikings, that means his surgery was a success. When healthy last year with the Jets he still looked like a top QB. The year before he took the Packers to the NFC championship game. Playing for the Vikings he would be souronded by talent in a great O-line, Bernard Berrian, emerging tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and rookie play-maker Percy Harvin. Combine those players with the NFL's most explosive running back, Adrian Peterson, and Vikings receivers should see a lot of single coverage. Put all that together and old number 4 comes in at number 8 on my list... and that is only because he may not actually play.


Aaron Rodgers - had a few extra years of study behind Favre and in his first season as the starter, it has seemed to pay off. He threw for over 4,000 yards and connected for 28 TDs. He also ran for 4 more. If he improves his red zone offense he could be a force to be reckoned with. I still feel he is at least a year or two away from becoming one of the top passers. In all fairness, I despise the Packers and had a hard time including Rodgers on my list, so he may be lower then he should be.



The number 10 spot falls to Tony Romo. It may just have been an off year where he missed a few games due to injury, but he also lost his best receiver in Terrell Owens. Some say the Owens loss is a good thing, but look what has happened to other QBs the years following his departure. Romo did get Roy Williams, but he has never been T.O. That leaves Jason Witten as Romo's top target, and eventually opposing defenses will learn to double team him. I would have ranked Romo higher, but he always has a second half crash, and until he can prove he can handle the pressure, he will stay in my top 10, just towards the bottom of it.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com