Crushing Expectations

No football in LA LA Land?

In football, as in life, some things are crystal clear.

Joseph Addai didn't score. People who drive into E-Z Pass toll lanes, but then have to back up and move to a Cash Only lane because they forgot they don't have an E-Z Pass transponder, should face the death penalty. Jay Cutler fumbled. Anyone who claims they frequent Hooters "for the wings" actually means "for the hooters." Laurence Maroney, LenDale White and D'Angelo Williams will lose even more carries by the time you finish this sentence. Jobs with the highest mortality rate: 1. Logger. 2. Seattle Seahawks wide receiver. 3. Great White Shark trainer.

Some things, however, are not so clear, like whether or not two weeks is enough action by which to truly judge a player's stock. But I'll try . . . Ed Hochuli as my witness, I will try!


Jay Cutler/Brandon Marshall: They lead the NFL's unexpectedly most potent offense, and have lit up two of the NFL's (alleged) top pass defenses. Don't even think about selling high. But Jay? Noel Gallagher wants his hair back. Kindly un-snap it and FedEx to Manchester, UK, post haste. Thanks.

Jonathan Stewart: It took only two games, but Stewart topped D'Angelo in carries (14 to 11) and scored twice against the tough Bears D. Consider Stewart a solid Flex play right now, with the upside of a weekly RB2 if he continues to usurp Williams. If you're deep at RB shop him hard to the D'Angelo owner. Otherwise, hold and enjoy the TD's, at least.

Tony Scheffler: Another MCI fave, Scheffler proved his worth again with a 6 catch/64 yard/2 TD game. Hold tight to this key cog of a potent passing offense, unless you can snag Winslow from someone who foolishly thinks the Browns offense is done or Witten from someone who fears that separated shoulder, because Scheff has battled some naggy little bruises himself in the past.

Calvin Johnson: Quick, name one receiver besides T.O. or Marshall that you'd deal Calvin for, straight-up. (Crickets.) Basically, Calvin's the poster boy for the man-crush until further notice. Side note: Roy chirped this week about being under-used, so we might see a spike in Kitna-to-Williams this weekend, but fear not. Calvin's the man.

Philip Rivers: Tied for the league lead in TDs (6) with his pal Cutler (kidding, they hate each other), Rivers has nice weapons and is taking advantage. That said, if you can pry a Peyton away from a semi-frustrated owner, feel free to sell Rivers high.

Darren McFadden Fargas wrenched his groin and DMac took advantage. Watch the turf toe possibilities, and pick up Michael Bush if you haven't already, but sky's the limit for McFadden. Or, well, the lame passing game and defenses stuffing the box is the limit, but he's got the talent to put up RB2 numbers if he gets 20 carries/game.

Darren Sproles: Shark owners drafted Jacob Hester over Sproles, thinking they'd snagged LT's real handcuff over their guppy league mates. Wrong. Sproles looks speedy and powerful, and would put up nice numbers if LT continues to battle his partially torn courage muscle. If you own Sproles and are set at RB, time to extort the LT owner and get yourself a stud WR or QB. Or, deal Sproles anyway on the off chance that LT is indeed healing.

Aaron Rodgers:After Akili Smith, Kyle Boller, Joey Harrington, and David Carr, man did Jeff Tedford need this for his resume! Without Rodgers' first two weeks, Tedford would be like Richard Williams . . . if Williams had created crappy, overrated scouting combine heroes instead of champion tennis players. But Rodgers is a nice sell high: he had his way with the Vikes and Lions. Yay. So if you can leverage his hot start and pry a Peyton away from his quasi-frustrated owner, or pair him with a stud RB or WR and snag Romo, go for it.

Hines Ward: 32-years-old and coming off knee surgery didn't get you jazzed up when you drafted him. But Ward has been the star of the Steeler passing game, with almost 6 catches per, nice in PPR leagues. Possible sell high note: Big Ben's shoulder is ailing, and Mike Tomlin vowed to "spread the ball around more" to WR's not named Ward and Holmes. Still, unless you can package him for a Reggie Wayne or Braylon, I'd hang onto Hines. He's been Ben's go-to guy in the red zone.

Julius Jones: Along with John Carlson, he's the last offensive man standing in Seattle. My advice: watch him run on the Rams this weekend and then deal him.


DeSean Jackson Actually, his value is still soaring. But next time, cross the stripe, dumbass.

Laurence Maroney Hurt, under-used and part of a 4-part RBBC is no way to go through life. If there's a Pats homer in your league who still believes and needs RB help, package Maroney with a WR for a better WR.

LT: If anyone out there works at NASA, please build me a time machine so I can go back to my Vegas draft and take Westbrook over LT. Now it's turf toe. If you have LT, after his first big game (assuming he has one) you might consider dealing him and his weekly "Questionable" tags for a slightly lesser RB1 and an upgrade at QB or WR.

Larry Johnson: When a bad coach (Herm Edwards) starts saying that a relative no-name 3rd-round, track star, preseason-fumblitis backup (Jamaal Charles) could start stealing carries from you, the outlook is bleak. Won't even get into the horrific Chiefs passing game (was that Yancey Thigpen at QB?) and O-Line, or the fact that LJ looked as nimble as one of the Klumps and couldn't penetrate the awful Raiders run D. If he has even a semblance of success this weekend, deal him to the lone Penn State alum in your league. Otherwise, you're stuck with a guy who might complain his way into more short term carries, sure, but that'll just mean a bunch of 23 carry/47 yard outbursts. Yay.

Vernon Davis: -- How long are people going to keep mentioning what a tremendous physical specimen Davis is? Mike Martz clearly doesn't care about body fat percentage when it comes to pass distribution. Davis will have some monster highlight plays, but will also completely disappear, as he did on Sunday. I'd still rather own Owen Daniels or Randy McMichael over the course of the season. Seriously.

Lane Kiffin The only way this situation could be more emasculating for Kiffin is if Al Davis publicly fired him the way Mr. Spacely would always fire George Jetson - "Kiffin, yoooooou're fiiiiiirrrrred!!" -- and then post it on YouTube.

Ryan Grant: His owners had sugarplumb visions of Grant "going Michael Turner" on the Lions. Oops. Still, Grant is a decent buy-low candidate because (A) Brandon Jackson (hope you handcuffed him), while stealing carries, is also giving Grant rest and helping his hammy heal, (B) the Pack's passing game keeps defense honest and (C) he's clearly still working his way into game shape after a lost pre-season. Buy now - maybe package a Chris Perry, Edge, LJ, McGahee or LenDale-type RB with a WR? -- give it a few weeks and hopefully reap the benefits from Week 6 or 7 on.

Tavaris Jackson:Benched for Frerotte. 'Nuff said. But this could bode well for the stock of Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice, as Frerotte can at least throw downfield with some degree of human accuracy.

Braylon Edwards: Tough start. Dropsies aplenty. But after having very little pre-season time together due to Derek Anderson's concussion, they played a tough Dallas D in Week 1 and then vs. Pittsburgh during a hurricane/locust swarm. So they'll take a little bit to shake the rust off, especially against BAL this week. But if you can get Edwards in a package featuring a hot starter like a DeSean Jackson, Eddie Royal or even Chris Chambers, go for it. I'm a little more wary on Anderson, however . . .while also a tad undervalued right now, he'll have a short Brady Quinn leash if Cleveland keeps losing.

Los Angeles Pro Football: OK, why doesn't Los Angeles have an NFL team yet? Reason I ask is, I'll be out in SoCal for the next ten days. In the past, whenever I've been in another city on a fall weekend, I've tried to catch an NFL game. Tailgate. Talk to hometown fans. Mooch free beer. Kinda my own "visit all 32 stadiums before I die" football geek vision quest. Saw the Bears at Soldier Field, Jets/Giants in the Meadowlands, the 'Skins (RFK, not FedEx), Steelers (Three Rivers, not PNC), Eagles (the Vet, not the Linc), Vikings in the Metrodome, Dolphins at Pro Player, Bills at Ralph Wilson, and the Falcons in the Georgia Dome. But that doesn't really count, because I lived in Atlanta that year (1996) and the 3-13 Falcons weren't quite an "NFL team." I've seen more fans at Pats rookie camp. At one point, I even strolled onto the field and took some snaps at QB. Everyone must have just assumed I was Browning Nagle.

But this weekend, sadly, there'll be no live football for Mark. While catching the Arizona-UCLA game at the Rose Bowl with David "dad-gone-wild" Hasselhoff and drunkenly hitting on his daughter's Tri Delt pals is tempting, I'm not a college fan. My LA friend Big Dog tells me Sonny McClain's is the big Pats bar, so if you want to buy me a bloody mary (or punch me in the throat) that's where I'll be for Sunday's games. But watching in a sports bar just won't be the same as soaking in the sights, smells and sounds of a live NFL game in some exotic, faraway land. Like Baltimore.

Look, I understand the actual reasons why the NFL hasn't returned to LA: stadium and infrastructure issues (it'd take an estimated billion dollars to make the Coliseum NFL-ready); tax issues; current NFL owners not wanting to share revenue with another expansion team; seat license and luxury suite sales problems; and, of course, incredible competition for fan/viewer attention from the LA Galaxy, LA Kings, USC-UCLA, Disneyworld, Knott's Berry Farm, La Brea tar pits, and the "Norbit" movie franchise. But seriously, are you telling me that Becks and Posh, Eddie Murphy or those pesky Scientologists couldn't afford a luxury suite or two?

It's been about 14 years since LA had pro ball, and though they claim that a team -- or two, so the league isn't an unbalanced 33 - will move to SoCal in 2009, for all intents and purposes LA is virtually no different than, say, Glendive, Montana.

I'm sure Glendive is a perfectly nice place to live. Just ask famous Glendivians like porn-mustachioed hoopster Adam Morrison or composer Kamran Ince. (You also no doubt play in a fantasy Turkish-American composer league, so you probably knew he was from Montana). But paddlefishing is the top local activity (no time to explain, Google it). The closest pro team is the Vikings, almost 700 miles away. And the annual Buzzard Day celebrates the return of the turkey vulture to eastern Montana with an 8K "buzzard run" -- whether that means people running, or buzzards running and people wagering on them, I don't know. So there's clearly not a lot of time left over for football. Or many TV's on which to watch: Glendive is dead last in Nielsen's television market rankings -- #210 -- with 3,940 TV households.

Meanwhile, LA is the #2 media market, with 5,654,260 TV households. Hell, Harvey Weinstein probably has 3,940 TVs in his rumpus room alone. And SoCal also has a rich football tradition -- the "Fearsome Foursome" Rams, Marcus Allen's Raiders, USC, UCLA et al, and countless semi-pro teams - not to mention rich people who have claimed they'd help fund a stadium. So this is about as incomprehensible as DirecTV cementing itself as the most evil corporation this side of Halliburton by making loyal customers pay extra for HD games. (Yes, this is my rally cry: Bring your dish down to your local DirecTV office and throw it through the window like Mookie in "Do the Right Thing.")

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