Breitman vs. Chowderhead - Week 2 Fantasy Debate

September 22, 2009

Ever wonder what happens to those guys in your fantasy football pool with too much knowledge, even more opinions, and seemingly no semblance of a social life? Well, we've found them and started a series of fantasy football fights between the two. All the hot topics are covered as Breitman goes toe-to-toe with the mythical Chowderhead.

Meet David Breitman. He’s the sports editor here at Spike.com, a former ESPN talk show host, NFL writer, and $74,000 in debt thanks to a rough 2008 Fantasy Football year.

Meet Chowderhead. He’s worked in the fantasy football world for years, and as anybody in the 17 different leagues he’s entered will tell you “this guy needs to get a life, but God damn he knows a lot about fantasy football.”

Together the two of them waste hours everyday debating the latest fantasy football topics from around the league. (Literally, it’s remarkable how either of them have time for friends or gainful employment). So why not put their reputations where their overly used mouths are? They will answer five burning fantasy football questions each week and likely spend the remaining six days going over their answers. Five topics, two guys, one winner. So, grab some popcorn, fire up the laptops, and join the debate.

5) Are LaDanian Tomlinson’s Days as a Fantasy Stud Over?

Breitman – What’s 5-foot-10, 30-years-old, currently injured, and competing for playing time with the most electric running back in the NFL? Answer, not a guy you’re drafting in the first five rounds of your fantasy football league next year. Let’s set aside the fact that other great running backs like Shaun Alexander (1800 yards/ 27 touchdowns at age 28 down to 716 yards/4 touchdowns at age 30), Terrell Davis (retired age 29), and Travis Henry (arrested for cocaine trafficking just before his 30th birthday) all struggled to stay on top after the big 3-0. And let’s pretend that his recent injuries aren’t a down payment on the property he’s now purchasing on the Chargers’ disabled list. Let’s simply look at the numbers - One of the greatest assets to Tomlinson’s fantasy game has been how often he touches the ball. In 2006, when he set a single season record with 28 touchdowns he had 348 rush attempts. In 2008, with Darren Sproles beginning to establish himself and Phillip Rivers becoming an elite quarterback, LT only had 292 carries. Essentially the Chargers’ offense no longer runs directly through Tomlinson, which means his days as a fantasy stalwart are long behind him.

Chowderhead
– LT is just two years removed from gaining almost 1500 yards in 2007 and an astounding 1800 yards in 2006. Sure, he had some injuries last year that limited him down the stretch, and there have been questions about his toughness, but let’s be honest, what running back doesn’t get hurt? Even the beast that is Adrian Peterson has missed games during the regular season. The fact that you mention how his carries have dwindled over the last couple years actually works in LT’s favor as it's less wear on the tires. You saw the last play of their game against the Ravens. Sproles was flattened by Ray Lewis. The Chargers cannot expect Sproles to carry the normal workload for a season due to his small stature. LaDanian didn’t look great before he got hurt against the Raiders, but Oakland proved last week that their defense is vastly improved. It’s too early to close the book on Tomlinson. If Sproles gets hurt he’s right back where he used to be. Will he ever gain 1800 yards again? That’s doubtful, but I don’t think that 1300 yards and 12 TDs is out of the question. That makes him a top 10 back.

4) Is Mario Manningham the biggest surprise so far this in this fantasy football season?

Chowderhead – I guess we’re going for who has been the most positive surprise this season, and not who has been the biggest disappointment. I think I would say that the Giants passing attack has been a big surprise, and not Manningham in particular. Steve Smith actually has better stats than Mario with fewer TDs. With Plaxico doing time and Amani Toomer being shipped off there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the G-Men passing game. But all their young receivers (and Eli) have really delivered so far, and against some stiff competition, too. The problem is that it’s going to be difficult to predict which of the Giants receivers do well each week. Then when you start talking about players like Brent Celek (who went undrafted in a lot of leagues), Cedric Benson, Cadillac Williams, or Tim Hightower the conversation gets a lot more interesting. Even with all these things considered, Manningham is the top-scoring fantasy player right now in a lot of formats, so he has to be the most pleasant surprise, but I would be shocked if he keeps this kind of production going.

Breitman
– Mario Manningham is absolutely not the biggest surprise of the fantasy football season thus far. In fact, after this week I’m not even sure he’ll be the biggest fantasy producer on his team thanks to Steve Smith’s continually improving play. No, this honor goes to the Buffalo Bills’ Fred Jackson – who was originally supposed to fill in for Marshawn Lynch while he was suspended. To put this in perspective, Jackson was an undrafted free agent in the National Indoor Football League in 2004. He had three career NFL touchdowns before this season, yet has already put up over 325 yards of total offense in his first two starts. Mario Manningham is a young player coming into his own, Fred Jackson is a guy who came out of nowhere.

3) Who will finish the year as the top Fantasy Football point leader, Drew Brees or Adrian Peterson?


Breitman – I’m going to take Drew Brees for three reasons. One - he has not missed a regular season game since 2004, which was right around the same time Peterson was doing his third stint on the injured reserve of the Palestine High School football team. Granted, A.P. has played 30 of his possible 32 regular season games since being drafted, but for a guy who’s been battling injuries since he was a teenager, what are the odds he goes three straight professional years without being put on the shelf? Secondly, the supporting cast around Brees doesn’t consist of a surly grandfather with a Wrangler Jeans endorsement coming off his second retirement, a set of wide receivers still reliving college glory and a locker room filled with guys tied up in legal troubles over banned diuretics. Instead, he has to “settle” for three talented running backs to help his play action, a stable of emerging receivers and a pseudo-psychotic, yet lovable, tight end with something to prove. Hell, if Disney doesn’t make a movie about the little quarterback that could, they’re really missing on something with Mighty Ducks potential. Lastly, I love when you make you’re point about “teams always going to the run at the end of the season, so backs are always more important.” It’s adorable, so go ahead…

Chowderhead - I agree with Mr. Breitman on this one. I definitely think that Brees will end up as the top point-scorer by season’s end when compared to Adrian Peterson. Peterson is notorious for having bad weeks near the end of the season just when fantasy owners need him the most. Last season during weeks 14, 15, and 16 (when most leagues have their playoffs) Peterson rolled up an impressive 346 yards rushing, but zero TDs. In week 16 (championship week) he had a paltry 76 yards rushing. That’s not going to get it done when you’re trying to win it all. Looking over the course of a season, eventually they will lighten his load and let Chester Taylor vulture some goal line carries as well. That’s not the case with Brees. But I do think there’s another player that has a chance to end up scoring more than Brees this season…

2)Who has been the biggest disappointment thus far in fantasy football?

Chowderhead
- After two weeks of the season, I don’t think there’s another player who’s been more disappointing than Matt Forte. I know this from personal experience as I drafted him extremely high in one league and he’s fallen completely flat. The man accounted for over 35 percent of the Bears’ total offense last season, so 84 total rushing yards and zero TDs so far isn’t living up to expectations. That said, he did play against the Steelers this past week, and Green Bay in week one (whose rush defense looks vastly improved over last year). The good news is that his schedule lightens up a great deal and we should start seeing some production from him, but single digit scores in both weeks to open the season has put a crimp in a lot of owners’ seasons.  

Breitman – I’ll admit that Matt Forte has been substantially underwhelming this year, but to me the bigger bust has to be Steve Slaton. As a rookie Slaton was a fantasy stud with over 1,200 yards and 9 touchdowns. However, two games into his sophomore season and the West Virginia alum has 51 yards on 26 carries with three fumbles and zero touchdowns. And what makes this even worse is that his team actually played really well on offense in week two. Matt Schaub is put up huge numbers and Slaton can’t break 30 yards. I’ll tell ya Seniore’ Chowderhead, Steve Slaton is by far the biggest fantasy bust at this point.

1)Who will win the Week 3 fantasy showdown between Tom Brady and Matt Ryan?

Breitman – Do you hear that? If you listen closely you can actually hear the sound of Tom Brady fantasy owners (most of whom drafted him late in the first round) wondering what the hell they were thinking. See, just like an over eager teenage girl, Brady supporters didn’t look at the big picture. Take away his one 50 touchdown season and he’s never actually thrown for more than 28 scores in his previous six years. Sure, he didn’t have Randy Moss before 2007, but he did have a running game to help set up the pass – something he clearly doesn’t have right now with Fred Taylor at 32-years-old. In the first two weeks of the season, the Bills and Jets have sat back and dared Brady to throw the ball (100 pass attempts in his first eight quarters), yet he only has two touchdown passes to show for it. Conversely, thanks to a strong running game, Ryan has already passed for five touchdowns this season on nearly 40 less attempts. He actually gets one-on-one coverage and the ability to use play-action. Plus, as an added bonus, Ryan will actually get to practice this week instead of answering thousands of questions about squandered undefeated seasons or Moss’ lack of effort.

Chowderhead – I disagree with you here. You have to look at the competition each team has played against. Yeah, Brady looked rattled on Sunday, but the Jets defense is proving to be nasty. On the other hand, Ryan played against the Panthers, who looked like a college defense the week before. You can’t discount the Randy Moss effect. The man singlehandedly beat the Bills in week one. In 2007, when Tom Brady threw 50 TDs, he also had a game just like the one he had against the Jets. Yet I think he bounced back all right. Sure, the Patriots haven’t run the ball much, but they never do. They use short passes to substitute for the run. One thing you don’t want to do is stoke the competitive fire of Tom Brady, and after the embarrassing loss to the Jets he’s going to be out for redemption. Matt Ryan will be facing his first good defense of the season as the Patriots are sixth against the pass after two weeks. Meanwhile the Falcons are 17th against the pass and haven’t faced a potent passing attack yet. A lot will ride on whether Wes Welker returns to the field, but I still see Brady winning this matchup easily.

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