Monday, September 8, 2008

Monday's Starting Five

1. Picking Up Matt Cassel in Your Fantasy League. There is no one who feels better this morning - not Matt Ryan, not Joe Flacco, not Brett Favre -than the person who rushed to their computer after reading the ticker-tape news about Tom Brady's knee injury during the first half of whatever game they were watching in the 1 o'clock slot and picked up then-backup QB Matt Cassel from the pool of unclaimed players in their fantasy football league. If Brady is indeed out for the season with a torn ACL then Cassel all of a sudden has the chance to become a top-flight fantasy QB. After all, somebody has to throw the ball to Randy Moss and be the beneficiary of all that sign-stealing. And, remember this is how Brady got his job. Oh, Karma you are such a fickle mistress. Drew Bledsoe was the star QB in the Boston States who was knocked out with an injury early in the season and Brady, seemingly a lifelong backup, stepped off the bench. And the rest is history. Finding the surprise star, whether or not that player is Cassel remains to be seen, during any given fantasy season is probably more important than having the best first round pick. Just ask the guy who tapped Brady with his top selection...

2. The New York Metropolitans. Although they did lose the weekend series to the Fightin' Phillies, 2-games-to-1, the Mets still did what they needed to do by winning last night behind Johan Santana. All in all, they only had one game shaved off their division lead and finished the series on the harmonious high notes of Santana's strong 7+ inning outing and Delgado's two-home-run night. Of course a series-win would have been nice but the lowly Washington Nationals arrive at Shea this week and the Mets should be able to grab back the one game they lost over the weekend while the Phils tussle with the better-than-Washington Marlins.

3. The Philadelphia Phillies. A sweep of the New York Metropolitans at Shea Stadium sure would have been nice but the Phils did what they needed to do by taking two of three this weekend in Queens. Trailing in the NL East by three games as the series got underway on Friday night, the Fightins couldn't afford to lose the set. And they didn't. After losing each of the previous gatherings with the Mets during the 2008 regular season, Charlie Manuel's charges needed this win to keep their confidence sky-high going into the stretch run. No doubt buoyed by asinine emails from former players and the memories of 2007, Utley and co. feel the division is still their for the taking. And, the news that Mets closer Billy Wagner is done for the rest can only make them feel even better about the last few weeks of the campaign.

4. East Carolina University. The Pirates are trolling the waters of Virginia and pillaging at will. One week of pulling off the surprising upset over then-ranked Virginia Tech with a last minute blocked punt, the ECU Purple Pirates absolutely blew minds and teaser wagers with their shock win over No. 8 ranked West Virginia University. And this time the game wasn't even in doubt in the late stages. In fact, it was a blowout. ECU rolled WVU, 24-3, and completely shut down Moutaineer QB Pat White. The Pirates are now looking ahead to their Conference USA schedule during which they won't have to play a team nearly as good as the two they've already knocked off. All signs are pointing for this to be the team that makes the BCS system look foolish this year.

5. The Buffalo Bills. For reasons that don't need defending or explaining all the AFC East talk yesterday was about the potentially Brady-less Pats and the victorious Favre-having Jets. Even Chad Pennington (who really, really looked poised to steal that game in the waning moments) making his first start in Miami got a noteworthy amount of pub. And, yet it was the other team in the AFC East that made, perhaps, the loudest statement of the weekend. The Buffalo Bills shellacked the Seattle Seahawks in Buffalo yesterday, 34-10. The Seahawks have won the NFC West four years on the bounce and Meanwhile, the Jets barely outlasted the Dolphins, who finished 1-15 last season and the Pats found themselves in a close game with the woeful Kansas City Chiefs. The Bills were dominant in every facet of the game. They ran for a touchdown. They passed for a touchdown. They kicked a few field goals. They returned a kick for a touchdown. They faked a field goal and threw for another touchdown. And the defense racked up five sacks and forced Seattle to punt 11 times. And, in case that wasn't enough impressiveness, the Bills also have the drunkest fans. It sure looks like they're going to get this club turned around in Buffalo just in time for the team to be stolen away by Toronto. Nice.

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