Thursday, September 30, 2010

LWFL NFC Power Rankings Week Three

Eagles Fly High, Face Another Stiff Test

In the NFL, going up against the "Williams Wall" of the Minnesota Vikings is usually an exercise in futility for anyone hoping for success. #93 Kevin Williams and #94 Pat Williams are perennial All-Pros who are considered the best tandem at defensive tackle in the NFL today.

In the LWFL, defending league champion Rebecca Newkirk and her Team Eagles will face her own version of the Williams Wall as she moves from meeting (and beating) the Rescue Rangers Al Williams in a high-powered showdown to playing the Islamic Socialists, currently ranked second in the league in scoring, coached by Mark Williams.

This will be the second consecutive #1 vs. #2 showdown for Team Eagles.

Now, the similarity between the NFL's Williams Wall and the LWFL Williams Wall pretty much ends at the waistline, but the analogy is clear--if one Williams doesn't knock you around on Sundays, there's always another one waiting for the same chance.

So far, the Eagles are responding to all challenges and defending their crown with the heart of a champion, but look for them to face another stern challenge in week four.

The winner of the Eagles vs. Islamic Socialists game will determine next week's top spot in the Power Rankings.

#1 Team Eagles

In the first #1 vs. #2 match up of the season, the Eagles were actually underdogs against the Rescue Rangers but pulled thru with a 21 point victory behind great performances by Peyton Manning and DeSean Jackson. With 5 players in double figures, the Eagles showed good balance thru out the lineup with a very solid effort.

The Rescue Rangers normally have 5 or more players in double figures, but only had 4 players with 10+ points last week, and were especially hurt by poor performances from their mainstays at RB and WR. Pierre Thomas, MJD, Reggie Wayne and Miles Austin all scored in single digits with very disappointing efforts. It's hard to win when your studs play like backups.

While 115 points is good enough to win most weeks in the LWFL, it might also be said that the Rangers lost this game more than the Eagles won it. But give credit where it's due--in their first big game of the season, the Eagles won handily.

#2 Islamic Socialists

The Islamic Socialists have led the league in scoring in each of the last two weeks, and are now the #2 scoring team in the league by rolling to a 46 point victory over Team Falk.

Once again, the Socialists spread the production around the entire offense with a total of 6 players hitting double digits and that's with Anqoun Boldin's 32 points left on the bench. This team has solid players at every position and should remain in the top 3 in scoring all year long, although they may have face some difficulties against the Eagles in Week Four because of bye issues.

#3 Rescue Rangers

Despite their loss against the Eagles, the Rescue Rangers remain the #3 scoring team in the league. When your team scores 'only' 94 points on a bad day for your top 4 players, you're not really hurting.

Barring injuries, the Rangers will be a serious contender for a championship, although the lack of production from Maurice Jones Drew could prove problematic down the road. Without better quarterback play from David Garrard, opposing defenses will continue to stack the box and make it very difficult for MJD to produce.

Keep an eye on MJD's performances, because the Rangers bench isn't very deep and they will probably need to play the waiver wire for spot starters as we enter into bye weeks. The Jacksonville star might prove to be the Achilles heel for the Rangers during the stretch run.

#4 Mr. Al Davis

Mr. Al Davis claims the #4 spot with their win over the Dreaded Mercenaries, although this won't be the last time this season these two evenly-matched teams trade positions in the Power Rankings.

Mr. Al Davis scored 115 points last week, with outstanding results from their stars Tom Brady and Chris Johnson, with LeSean McCoy and the Eagles DEF also contributing in a major way.

Owner Justin Rocha made a shrewd move in picking up Austin Collie off the waiver wire this week, especially in light of a toe injury to their #2 RB Jahvid Best. The move will allow McCoy to slide into the RB2 position and Collie to play as their regular flex player. McCoy will be an inconsistent performer as long as Michael Vick is playing at his current level, so Collie's steady performances will bring some stability to this lineup.

If you're Mr. AD, it's a little troublesome that 75% of your scoring came from 45% of your lineup--with 3 players scoring more than 20 points and one right behind at 18. They continue to get 50+ points from Brady and Johnson every week, but relying on that kind of production on a regular basis from top players will prove to be disappointing on many weeks too.

Still this team embodies it's namesake--it's a high-risk, high-reward team that can score mega points in any given week. Look for them to continue their high-scoring ways in week 4.

#5 Dreaded Mercenaries

You know what Dreaded Mercenaries owner Sarah Snow has in common with Minnesota Vikings running back Toby Gerhard?

They are both recent Stanford grads who excelled in college but find themselves competing against superstars in the pros and come up a little bit short. For now. And it's got to be killing both of them to lose a little lustre off their star power.

Gerhard, of course, is the back up to Adrian Peterson in Minnesota and only sees the field for maybe 5-10 plays in any given week.

The Mercenaries remain one of the better teams in the league, but were simply outmatched against Mr. Al Davis in week 3, although they kept the game closer than expected. Still, their balance was on display with four players in double digits. Dreaded Mercenaries RB's Steven Jackson and Knowshon Moreno are hit with the injury bug right now, so this team could struggle some in the next few weeks.

On the other hand, 95 points in an 'off' week is an indicator of the strength of this team, and if they can play .500 ball for the next few weeks while their RB's get healthy and play the waiver wire well, this team will be formidable down the stretch and can be a championship contender.

#6 Heavenly Rampagers

Whatever prayers the Rampagers sent towards heaven must have paid off as they break thru not only with their first win of the season, but their first score over 100 as well.

The Heavenly Rampagers are going to be a 'tweener' team all season long--in any given week, they are capable of playing with any other team, but there is a clear distinction between the top 5 teams in the league and the bottom 3 in how consistent their scores will be. While the top 5 are scoring 95 points or so on an average-to-bad day, teams like the Rampagers are scoring 100 points on a good day.

Frank Gore will anchor this team along with Tony Romo, but after that, the rest of the lineup is an exercise in hope every week. Ray Rice is a puzzle thus far in the season and now has a bruised knee to add on top of that. If the Baltimore Ravens air attack continues to produce like it did last week, Rice will see fewer defenders in the box and find a little more running room as the year goes on.

The WR's on this team are all solid but at their best, will score 8-9 TD's over the course of the year, which means that they will not all produce every week. In some weeks, 2 of the 3 WR's will produce, and in some weeks, none of them will, and the Rampagers just don't have the firepower at other positions to make up for any lack of production.

This is a team that needs to fire on all cylinders in order to compete with the top 5. But when they ARE on--they can beat any team in the league.

#7 Team Damages

The Damages avoid the basement for a second straight week based on a better showing in their 102-82 loss to the Heavenly Rampagers. This is a team that is showing signs of coming to life.

Once again, #1 pick Aaron Rogers did his part to carry the team, and got support from Cedric Benson and Ladanian Tomlinson, but were let down once again by DeAngelo Williams, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith and the SF DEF. Each of these players were projected to be among the best at their respective positions at the beginning of the year, but for various reasons are underperforming and are likely to continue to underperform on a consistent basis in the forseeable future.

There's no question that Larry Fitzgerald is among the top 3 pass catchers in the league, and Steve Smith is one of the most explosive and exciting WR's in the NFL. However, both suffer from poor quarterback play--and a receiver whose QB can't get him the ball isn't much of a help to either their real team or the FF owners.

This could be one of the better teams in the league if the players on this team had some support on their actual NFL teams. Don't be surprised when Team Damages busts out with a 120 point performance, but don't expect that every week quite yet.

#8 Team Falk

The Falkians had the bad luck to run up against the rabid Islamic Socialists last week AND had nearly half their players going against each other in the Bears/Packers game on Monday night in what turned out to be a low-scoring affair.

Team Falk is another team plagued by inconsistency--each of their players have had outstanding efforts at some point so far this season, but owner Susan Falk hasn't gotten more than 3 players with good efforts from her team in any given week.

Team Falk will need to work the waiver wire and trade route in order to upgrade their team--they are solid at 7 of the 9 positions, but lack depth and consistent performers at the other two, which puts added pressure on the other players to give noteworthy efforts. The RB2 position is a particularly glaring weakness.

Due to bye week issues by their opponent, Team Falk stands a decent chance of grabbing their first win of the season in week 4.

Week Four Predictions

Last week predictions: 3-1
Season Record: 3-1

Marquee Matchup: Team Eagles vs. Islamic Socialists

Another high-scoring affair is predicted in this game, with the official spread favoring the Islamic Socialists by a single point. Both teams are projected to score 130+ points, but I don't think the actual game will be that close or that high scoring.

Team Eagles catch this game at the right time, with the Socialists starting RB tandem of Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles on the bench with a bye. These two players are significant weapons for the Socialists, currently ranked as the #1 and #13 ranked RB's in the FF right now.

Still, the Socialists have depth and can plug in Darren McFadden and Joseph Addai. McFadden is currently #5 among fantasy RB, and while Addai is not a threat for big yardage days and only ranked 26th, he is usually good for 100 total yards running and receiving and a TD, making him a solid one-week replacement running against a weak Jacksonville defense.

The Eagles will have a definite advantage at QB with Peyton Manning facing the pitiful Jaguars secondary, while the Socialists will have slight advantages at RB and WR and a definite advantage at TE. DEF and K are about even.

The key matchup in this game will be at the flex position with the Socialists Jeremy Maclin facing Arian Foster. Maclin is likely to get 100 yards and a score in his game against the Redskins, but Foster--who ran for 200+ yards and 3 scores against Indy in week 1--is running against an Oakland Raider defense that ranks among the worst at defending the run.

The Socialists win if they can squeeze double-digit scoring out of 7 of their players, and the Eagles win if Arian Foster runs for 125 yards and two scores.

Prediction: Socialists by 4

Watch Out For: Dreaded Mercenaries vs Team Damages

This is one of those games where the individual player match ups could go either way. The DM's start Drew Brees at QB and the Damages counter with Aaron Rodgers, so those two should cancel each other out.

When it comes to RB's, both teams feature RB's who get the ball a lot in their respective offenses and are considered workhorses. The Damages will start DeAngelo Williams and Cedric Benson against the Mercenaries Rashard Mendenhall and Peyton Hillis.

The problem here is that all four RB's are running against stout run defenses this week, so expectations should be tempered.

The Mercenaries have an edge at WR, if for no other reason than they actually have quality QB's throwing them the ball, while the Damages have to rely on Kenny Anderson and Jimmy Clausen to get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Smith respectively.

At the bottom of the lineup, the Mercenaries have a slight edge, which leaves the flex position and an intriguing matchup of the Mercenaries Calvin Johnson vs. the Damages LT. LT should have the edge here, running against a weak Buffalo defense, BUT…it's a divisional game, and the Bills tend to play well within their division.

Calvin Johnson is one of the best receivers in the NFL, but has faced consistent bracket coverage and tight defenses the first few weeks. The coverage tends to ease up late in the game, so Johnson is always a threat for a big play and a score, even if that score comes in garbage time.

I'm going to say that the deciding factors in this game will be the RB 1 matchup along with WR2 and TE. Whichever team wins 2 out of those 3 positions should win the game.

Prediction: Dreaded Mercenaries by 12

Mercy Kill of the Week: Mr. Al Davis vs. Heavenly Rampagers

Mr. Al Davis is favored to win this game by 30 points, and I'm not sure that it's even going to be that close. Mr. AD has favorable match ups thru out his line up and the Rampagers simply don't have the fire power to keep up. I can see the Rampagers going down by 40 in this game.

One caveat that could make this game a LOT more interesting and deliver a huge upset for the Rampagers is that Mr. Al Davis has 3 players from the Eagles game against Washington, representing 1/3rd of his team.

The Redskins are currently ranked among the worst defenses in the league, but they always play well against division rivals. Philly is playing at home where their own fans have been known to boo them, so if Washington DEF can get a couple of early stops and turnovers, they just might burst Michael Vick's bubble and could turn into a low-scoring game.

If that happens, the Rampagers might squeak out an upset. It's not likely, but hey, just like a UFO landing in a remote area of the Nevada desert, it could happen.

Prediction: Mr. Al Davis by 34

Upset Special: Rescue Rangers vs. Team Falk

This could be the week that Team Falk breaks into the win column as they take on a Rescue Rangers team with two key players on a bye.

On paper, the Rangers should win this one without much worry--almost all of their starters are playing home games against teams that are ranked far below them and that's usually a recipe for a high-scoring affair and fantasy success. Don't be surprised if this team scores 115+ points this week.

So what makes me think that Team Falk could pull off an upset?

The Falkians are also playing against teams they should be able to exploit, so I look for them to break the 100 point barrier for the first time this season in this game. Given that MJD and Pierre Thomas have underperformed the past couple of weeks for the Rangers, that makes them a little vulnerable.

Pierre Thomas is one of my favorite players and is capable of putting up 15 points every single week, but his ankle is a little banged up and the Saints are thin at RB, so he might not see as much work as usual this week. New Orleans won't need much of a contribution from Thomas in order to beat Carolina. So he could wind up with only 5 points or so.

MJD normally runs well against the Colts (who doesn't?), but opposing defenses have done a good job of shutting him down so far this year, so it wouldn't be much of a shocker to see him only contribute 5-7 points too.

And while the Rangers are in the enviable position of having two outstanding #1 WR's in Reggie Wayne and Miles Austin on their roster, they will only have one available this week, with Austin's Dallas Cowboys inactive on their bye this week.

If these two teams played 10 times, I'm sure the Rescue Rangers would win 8 or 9 times out of 10, so this isn't a matter of Team Falk suddenly becoming a great team…but rather, the Rangers are ripe to under perform.

Call this one a gut feeling, but if Chicago scores more than 30 points against the NY Giants this week, and Falk finds a better RB2 than Brandon Jackson off the waiver wire, AND both Rangers RB's turn in performances similar to last week, then Team Falk could pull off a stunning upset.

So just for fun…

Prediction: Team Falk by 3

Best of luck to everyone this week…unless you're playing ME!

--Da Commish

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