Sizing up Christian Ponder’s NFL Debut
After Donovan McNabb was benched, we got our first glimpse of Christian Ponder. He looked OK. He sort of reminded me of an old Viking during his rookie season, Rich Gannon. Not too imposing in arm or size, but a good scrambler. He had to dodge a lot of 4th quarter called blitzes by the Bears in a blowout game (classy). He is well suited for the West Coast offense as he threw some good strikes on moving targets, which bodes well for Percy Harvin to at least continue to rack up the yards. Rookie tight end Kyle Rudolph should get increased playing team to accelerate the chemistry of a Ponder to Rudolph connection. I’d keep an eye on Harvin and Rudolph’s stat line against Green Bay this Sunday. Some opportunity could be had in Minnesota.
A Little Slip
Had Greg Little not tripped himself up at the 1 yard line against Oakland, he would have had a double digit day and toting his first NFL touchdown. If he had done that, the hype on Greg Little would have been out of control during this past waiver claim, but it didn’t happen. I watched a lot of the Raiders – Browns game and Little looked most comfortable in the slot. He made one decent outside catch, the 16 yarder that ended just short of the goal line. Colt McCoy threw one deep ball to him in the second half and Little looked a little awkward adjusting to the ball with air underneath it. He was at his best catching the ball short and turning upfield quickly, trying to shed tacklers with his strong frame. That pretty much was his game as his final stat line was 6 catches for 72 yards on 12 targets. I like Little a lot, but in his rookie year so far, he definitely reminds me more of an Anquan Boldin on a top end comparison; a guy most comfortable on short and intermediate routes.
Don’t Eject Brandon Marshall from your Team
Another guy that Greg Little can be a little bit like if his career continues to progress is Brandon Marshall. Marshall topped Little’s 12 targets, by going one better at 13. New starting quarterback Matt Moore was looking to him in one of the toughest scenarios for a passing attack. The Moore to Marshall connection responded with 6 receptions for 109 yards against Darrelle Revis and the rest of the Jets stifling secondary.
Like Little, Marshall just missed a score. So we have two scenarios, both benefiting Marshall owners. If his play continues, Brandon Marshall might be the equivalent of that that high volume, but inefficient scorer in the NBA. Everyone knows that guy. He takes 25 shots, shoots 43% in the field, but gets 20 a game on a losing team. If Marshall is that guy, you got yourself a decent WR2. However, if Marshall can get out of the league leaders in dropped passes (tied for first with 6) – especially around the red zone – you might have yourself a strong 2nd receiver who gets consistent targets, yards, AND touchdown production. Even after a solid week 6, he might still be considered a good buy low candidate.
Matt Ryan will not fulfill 2011 Expectations
Against Carolina, Matt Ryan threw a beautiful deep ball to Roddy White, and the usually sure handed White couldn’t come up with catch while getting some contact. It’s been tough being a Matt Ryan defender this year. In the first half of the season, he has been forced to throw more early, looking uncomfortable with all the passing attempts and under fire from seeing heavier pass rushes. In recent weeks, it looks like the playbook is again relying more on the run game, which should benefit Ryan. Unfortunately that means while he may again be a solid fantasy play, he will not take the next step that pundits like I thought he would. After 28 touchdowns thrown in 2010, he will be closer to 25 in 2011.
Santana Moss defends Grossman
Santana Moss brings up a good point defending his guy, Rex Grossman. Michael Vick threw 4 interceptions against the Bills and he is the unquestioned starter the next week. When Grossman did it, he doesn’t even finish out the game! My colleague, Dan Lehto, thinks Grossman is terrible. I see him more as an average quarterback. Who would you rather have, him or Kevin Kolb? OK Kolb, but you had to think about it just a little bit right? I brought up Moss early in this conversation, because I wonder how good he would be now that John Beck is the full time starter. I’ll admit to not watching a lot of John Beck in college or the pros. For all we know he is a check down type. For all we know, Tim Hightower will be the team’s leading receivers from here on out. Santana Moss owners will have to wait and see.
Houston Dunderheads are at it again
As a fantasy owner, I can get worked up on a few head coaches around the league. For example, I’m not a fan of Todd Haley and all his a$$hole glares and yelling. If Raheem Morris won the Super Bowl, I’d still call him an idiot. But the OG of head scratching coaches currently in the NFL is Gary Kubiak. Here’s a guy who has been 8-8 forever, sort of on the hot seat (he must have a long leash), and when his best receiver goes down, there was no urgency to pick up anyone viable. The fact that they haven’t even tried to find a viable number two receiver in the past offseason in case of this scenario has boggled my mind. If I were a Matt Schaub owner, I’d be ticked that Houston has way too much faith in solid, but not great Kevin Walter and a receiver, still trying to define a career in Jacoby Jones. Really?? The Texans upgraded their defense and it’s been showing, but in today’s NFL, without Andre Johnson, they won’t win many shoot outs. Had they went for a guy like Malcom Floyd in the last offseason, losing Andre Johnson to his annual 2 or 3 games missed, wouldn’t have been too painful.