Wednesday, November 16, 2011
All-NFC East Team: Week 11 Update
By Dan Graziano
Confession time: The ESPN.com writers I read the most are the fantasy sports guys. I am an obsessive fantasy football and baseball player, and as such I believe you can never get too much advice. So while some people procrastinate at work by playing solitaire on their computers, I'm reading Matthew Berry and Chris Harris and Eric Karabell. Those guy have a recurring trick I want to try with regard to this week's update of the rolling NFC East All-Division Team. You look at the 2011 stat lines of these two quarterbacks and see if you can tell me who they are:
Quarterback A: 202-for-320 (63.1 percent) for 2,688 yards, 17 touchdowns, eight interceptions, 97.0 passer rating, 67.8 Total QBR
Quarterback B: 200-for-309 (64.7 percent) for 2,508 yards, 16 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 97.7 passer rating, 74.8 Total QBR
That's close, people. About as close as it gets. Those two quarterbacks are the two candidates for the starting quarterback spot on this week's update of the All-Division Team. Which one are you picking?
First, the disclaimer that no one will read: This is an All-Division Team based on overall performance to date, not simply on performance in this past week's games. We updated it each week, but it always takes into account the entire season to this point. That's why poor Leonard Hankerson isn't on it.
This week's team includes eight Giants, eight Cowboys, six Eagles and five Redskins and features changes at only two spots -- wide receiver and defensive tackle -- from last week's team. Some of the races are very close, but in most cases, not close enough to warrant change yet.
Eli Manning edged out Tony Romo to start for the All-NFC East team.
So, Quarterback A was Manning, who retains his spot, and Quarterback B was the Cowboys' Tony Romo, who's right on his tail. Wouldn't you know it? We killed all that time during the lockout debating Manning vs. Romo and it looks like we'll keep doing it right through the season.
Yeah, Maclin still leads all NFC East wide receivers in catches, but now he's hurt and he had a lousy game and Cruz is obviously a huge part of the Giants' passing attack and passed him in receiving yards and quite frankly deserves the spot. Can't rule out Maclin or Dez Bryant making a run at one of those spots the rest of the way, but as of now it's the Giants' world in the passing game.
At defensive tackle, Jenkins has had a fine season and simply plays more snaps than do the Giants' interior defensive linemen. So rather than continuing to try to figure out whether the spot should go to Joseph or Rocky Bernard or Chris Canty every week, I'm going with the guy who's played the most and the best at the 4-3 defensive tackle spot, even if he does play for the 3-6 team.
I know, I know, Todd Herremans fans. He's fantastic. But he's not as good as Smith or Peters, and I can't put him on the team ahead of either tackle. I took a real long look at the idea of making him the starting right guard on this team, since I'm sure he could play it and, if I were trying to put together my "best five" offensive linemen, I'd have to find a place for him. But he hasn't played guard since training camp and that felt like I'd be trying to force something. Watkins has been fine since taking over as the starter -- certainly better than anyone else who's played right guard in the division this year. Where have you gone, Chris Snee?
And I hear all the Redskins fans' complaints about Brandon Banks, but the fact is that no one is distinguishing themselves as a return man in this division this year. Seriously, the first dude who runs a kick or punt back for a touchdown gets the spot. I don't care if it's a third-string offensive lineman who scoops up a squib kick and only has to go 60 yards. He gets in the end zone, he gets the spot. Meantime, it goes to the guy with the best stats, since there's nothing else to go on with no one doing anything exceptional.
Finally, fullback. Watching Young play, you see the impact he has. He's a monster blocker, and whatever issues the Redskins are having on offense, he's not part of the problem. But he is getting a push from the Cowboys' Tony Fiammetta, whose impact on the run game in Dallas and the emergence of DeMarco Murray cannot and should not be overlooked. The additions of Fiammetta and left guard Montrae Holland have been as critical to the establishment of the run game in Dallas as has the brilliance of Murray, and if those guys continue to play the way they have so far, Dallas becomes a real scary offense from here on out.