Chad Pennington May Give Dolphins' Fantasy Value a Shot in the Arm
On the first, Chad Henne threw downfield to Marshall from Baltimore's 29 in the fourth quarter. The 2007-2009 version of Marshall would have been able to out-muscle the hapless defensive back left in single coverage with a leaping touchdown grab. The Marshall that now reels in many short gains but never scores, though, just looked awkward and out of his element, harmlessly falling to the ground along with Henne's pass.
Later on, the chances of both Miami winning the game and Henne remaining at starting quarterback soared into Ed Reed's hands, courtesy of a misfired slant from the third-year quarterback. The throw was rifled too high and behind Marshall, and his attempt to make the catch led to the pass being volleyballed into the Ravens secondary.
Along with the sobering realization that Marshall was about to turn in another mediocre fantasy day, that play led to my acceptance that he is indeed just a low-end third receiver in a 10-team league, which is what his stats show through eight games.
Then Chad Pennington came down from the skies.
Well, hyperbole aside, any change right now is welcome in Miami after watching Marshall transform from a perennial top-10 receiver to one that's averaged 50 yards and no touchdowns the past three weeks, putting the perfect cherry on top of the sundae that's seen Marshall haul in just one touchdown this season.
Henne hasn't looked awful -- the Dolphins' play-calling has been conservative to its detriment this season -- but he has been quite inadequate at throwing his team back into a game or hitting a receiver in the end zone, basically the things that ruin the fantasy value of a pass offense.
For Marshall to become the red-zone target that would delight his owners, for running lanes to open for Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams at the goal line, and for scoring colossus Dan Carpenter to stop stealing everyone's points, Miami needs a savvy, accurate quarterback who makes quick, confident decisions. Pennington has been that guy throughout his career.
Henne's piled up a nice 1,900 yards passing this season, but his 8-to-10 touchdown-interception ratio leaves much to be desired.
The offense may still struggle with stretching the field because of Pennington's less-than-cannon-like arm, but the Dolphins don't have a legitimate deep threat target to do that anyways. Marshall excels at catching the ball with room to run, something Pennington has facilitated pretty well in jump-starting the careers of great after-catch runners Laveranues Coles and Santana Moss.
Heck, he even squeezed 790 yards out of Ted Ginn, Jr.
So Marshall owners, don't panic on a trade quite yet -- you don't want to sell at rock bottom. Give Master Pennington a week to at least boost Marshall's value a bit: There still may be just enough juice left in Pennington's arm to do that.
A few other major changes occurred this week that could save fantasy runaway train wrecks. I'll let you know if there's a righteous Denzel Washington to jump on and wise-crack his way out of it.
Brett Favre, Brad Childress and the Sour Vikings
Brett Favre's magical comeback has kept the Vikings season hanging together by thread, as if he sprinkled fairy dust on it. Every time I hear someone on television refer to Favre or something Favre does as "magical," the more certain I am that everyone at ESPN has some giant bet going. Winner takes the pot by seeing how ridiculously -- and how often -- that descriptor can be used on air. Gosh, they talk about the man like he's Harry Potter.
I'm still afraid of plucking Favre off waivers in my league -- 446 yards at home against the Cardinals' miserable pass defense translates to about 230 yards and a couple interceptions this weekend in cold Chicago. And with all the reports about the borderline mutiny erupting with the Vikings, I'm steering clear if I can.
Rolling Titans Gather Headlines
Randy Moss in Tennessee may sound like a fantastic new beginning and the perfect complement for Chris Johnson with all that defensive attention Johnson requires in the box, but I don't trust a receiver who could do jack squat with Adrian Peterson sharing the spotlight. Remember, Moss totaled just 13 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns in four games with the Vikings.
Even if, as he claims, Moss isn't in Nashville to cause any trouble, he still needs to find rhythm with both Kerry Collins and Vince Young, and allow time for more of the playbook to incorporate Moss. Something gives me a feeling that the Titans' other receiver, Nate Washington, will receive plenty more targets and better stats for the next few weeks. Just look at how Harvin really blew up when Moss arrived. I would rather start Washington on my fantasy roster.
New Management in Dallas
Jason Garrett made the Cowboys spend Wednesday's practice in full pads, which would've been an incredible shock under Wade Phillips. Jon Kitna will not only need pads this Sunday against the Giants, but perhaps a shield, chain-mail armor, and perhaps a jet pack. This is the one time in history that America does not, in any way whatsoever, envy the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys.
Assuming the Giants siege Dallas' O-Line and parade around New Meadowlands with Kitna's head on a pike, we could soon see third-stringer Stephen McGhee, who has never played a regular season down in the NFL. Seeing what that pass rush has done to other quarterbacks, no one would blame Garrett for listing Kitna on the injury report as "OUT (hiding)." Put it this way: Despite the new Garrett regime, I do not like the idea of a 38-year-old statue behind that offensive line. As soon as possible, pawn off everything you own in the Cowboys' offense that has value, which would be Jason Witten, Miles Austin and Dez "Isn't anyone else trying out here?" Bryant.
Matt Moore Out for Season; Steve Smith Owners Out of Luck
We weren't seeing the old Steve Smith under Matt Moore, but halfway decent numbers did turn up -- 75 and a touchdown, nine catches for 85 yards two weeks ago. Now Moore enters injured reserve and sends Carolina back to Plan B. With Jimmy Clausen, look for more in the 10-to-70-yard range with no scores for Smith, because that's what has happened this year.
Poor Clausen. The man is repeatedly having his confidence beaten into the ground. John Fox has already benched him multiple times for multiple quarterbacks. Last week against New Orleans takes the cake, when Clausen was benched for Tony Pike -- another rookie quarterback, who Carolina drafted in the sixth round. Wow, what a mess. On top of that, Jonathan Stewart's out who knows how long with a concussion. I would not only waive every Panther from my fantasy roster, but then douse it with gasoline and light fire to my laptop. Goodbye, 2010 Panthers!