The Tom Brady-Deion Branch connection is back in New England

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 26: Tom Brady  of the New England Patriots directs the offensive line against the Buffalo Bills in the first half at Gillette Stadium on September 26, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Earlier in the week I noted that the acquisition of Deion Branch would certainly help the Patriots, but he “can’t do what Randy Moss can do on the field.”

Not that I was wrong in writing that, but Branch certainly proved in the Patriots’ 23-20 overtime win over the Ravens on Sunday that he can still be effective in the right offense.

Less than a week after he was acquired from Seattle for a mid-round pick, Branch caught nine passes for 98 yards and was targeted 12 times. He also caught passes of 23 and 10 yards in overtime to help New England kick a game-winning field goal after the two teams swapped possessions in the extra frame.

Tom Brady wasn’t particularly sharp, but he was at his best with the game on the line. He completed 27-of-44 passes for 292 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, but he led the Patriots on scoring drives late in the fourth and again in overtime to pick up a huge win over a Baltimore team that waxed them in the playoffs last year.

Without Moss, this is what you’re going to get out of Bill Belichick’s offense from here on out. They Pats will be balanced, they’re going to dink and dunk down the field and they’re going to take shots only when they present themselves. They won’t be the same high-scoring juggernaut they were three years ago when they went 16-0, but they beat a good Baltimore defense with this offensive approach on Sunday and at least for now, they showed that they don’t need Moss to be effective.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Patriots apparently want to re-live their 2002 season, may trade for Branch

SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 26: Wide receiver Deion Branch  of the Seattle Seahawks makes a catch against Donald Strickland  of the San Diego Chargers at Qwest Field on September 26, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Chargers 27-20. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Even though knee injuries have severely limited his production of late, the Patriots are interested in trading for Deion Branch says beat writer Danny O’Neil.

Branch’s best season came as a Patriot in 2005 when he caught 78 passes for 998 yards and five touchdowns. But in ’06, bad blood between him and the team started to form due to a contract dispute and he wound up filing a grievance against the Pats. He claimed that New England failed to complete a fair trade between him and another team that was willing to give him a contract extension. Finally on September 11, Branch was traded to the Seahawks in exchange for a first round pick in the 2007 draft.

Now the Patriots want him back and apparently Tom Brady has even been lobbying for the team to pull off a trade.

The Seahawks have a couple of young receivers that they would like to get on the field more, so moving Branch would be in their best interest – especially if they can get a mid-round pick for him. Obviously the Patriots have a need at receiver after trading Randy Moss on Wednesday, but will Branch want to return to the team that he cried foul play on? He didn’t exactly leave on the best of terms.

That said, it’s not like Branch has too many years left in the league and he may be willing to let bygones by bygones in hopes of having another chance to win a ring. The Seahawks are currently in the thick of things in the NFC West, but how long will that last? The Patriots still offer him the best opportunity to win.

What makes a fantasy football championship week goat?

Yesterday was a big day in fantasy football. Most leagues held their title games, and barring a tight contest with a player or two in tonight’s Bears/Packers matchup, the champions have been crowned.

With that in mind, Epic Carnival put together a list of the Top 10 Fantasy Football Championship Week Goats.

Here are a few of the more interesting blurbs:

10. Brett Favre. What could be better than the gunslinger facing his old coach, needing the win, against a secondary that’s been generous even by NFC West standards this year? Well, let’s just say that 18 for 31 for 187 with 2 picks wasn’t on the menu. Those Favre 4 jerseys are going to come cheap this off-season. He’d rank higher, but the fact is that if he was on your roster, you probably weren’t playing for much this week anyway.

9. Steve Breaston. The Arizona #3 WR moved up to #2 this week with the injury to Anquan Boldin. Against the Patriots secondary — note: normally horrible — this was a sneaky great play, and one that you had to feel good about. He wound up with 6 more yards than Boldin, thanks to our #1 retard. Heckuva job, Cardinals.

7. Matt Schaub. More or less a must start against the usually comical Raiders, especially after the recent Texans surge. I’m thinking you weren’t expecting the Raiders to more or less dominate the game, even if you were thinking that Nmandi Asomugha was going to make Andre Johnson disappear. Schaub’s 255 yards, no touchdowns, 1 pick and 10 yards rushing day probably didn’t make you lose, but it sure as hell wasn’t what you were hoping for, either.

1. Kurt Warner. Licking your chops for that Patriot secondary, were you? That must have been before you saw the snow, and the entire Cardinals team look like they were melting from the exposure to it. Your season savior had 30 yards today, got pulled due to the utter lack of competitiveness, and more or less reminded you why the Cardinals are the worst playoff team in the history of the world.

I expected that all four of these players would have big days, but once the snow hit in New England, I thought the Cardinals might struggle. Heck, I was so worried about the weather that I even benched Matt Cassel in one title game, but was (thankfully) still able to pull out the win, due in no small part to the fact that my opponent started several goats.

There are a few names on the list — Marion Barber, Willie Parker, DeShaun Foster — that I doubt anyone was starting in their title games. For a “championship goats” list, it’s helpful to look at players that were great all season (or especially productive in Week 15) that turned in pathetic performances in Week 16. Kurt Warner and Matt Schaub are perfect examples, but who else fits the bill?

I personally know two guys who are none too pleased with Andre Johnson (2 catches, 19 yards), who led many fantasy owners to their championship games with a huge 11-catch, 207-yard, one-TD performance in Week 15 against the Titans. Steve Smith also had a huge Week 15 (9 catches, 165 yards, TD) only to come up small — 68 total yards, 0 TD — in Week 16. To a lesser extent, Dwayne Bowe had a nice Week 15 (6 catches, 44 yards, TD) but posted substandard numbers (3 catches, 28 yards) in the Chiefs’ shootout with Miami. Deion Branch caught nine passes for 164 yards and two TD in Week 14 and Week 15, but mustered only two catches for six yards against a weak Jets pass defense on Sunday. In the same game, Thomas Jones gained 96 yards but failed to score a TD for only the second time in nine games. Roddy White came up small (3 catches, 24 yards) after a great season and a so-so Week 15. In non-PPR leagues, Brian Westbrook only scored 11 fantasy points, and my guess is that his owners needed more. Santana Moss (5 catches, 28 yards) failed to follow up a strong Week 15 performance (7 catches, 72 yards, TD) against the Bengals.

It’s interesting that most of the guys I mention here are wide receivers. It seems like most of the key QBs, RBs and TEs performed pretty well in Week 16, though I’m sure I’m forgetting a few guys.

Week 1 Fantasy Surprises: Now what?

Whether it’s a few breakout wide receivers, a suddenly mature quarterback or an out-of-nowhere running back, Week 1 of the NFL season always has its share of surprises. Here are a few of the bigger revelations from the first weekend of action along with what they might mean in the larger scheme of things.

Michael Turner ran roughshod over the Lions.
Most people were probably expecting a pretty good game out of Turner against Detroit, but I don’t think too many fantasy owners had “The Burner” racking up 220 yards (10.0 ypc) and two touchdowns in his Atlanta debut. The Falcons’ offensive line opened up monster holes for their RB, and unfortunately it’s not always going to be this easy. Turner will be tested against the Bucs this week before another nice matchup at home against the Chiefs. Going forward, Turner looks like a solid RB2, though he might have the occasional bad game when a team jumps all over the Falcons in the first quarter.

Jay Cutler shredded a good Raider secondary.
I was very high on Cutler heading into the season figuring that a guy who could throw 20 TD while losing 30 pounds (and a lot of strength) due to undiagnosed diabetes would be a good candidate for a breakout season now that his illness is under control. He did play the Raiders in Week 1 (never a good gauge) and shredded what was supposed to be a pretty good secondary for 300 yards and two scores. And that was without his top WR, Brandon Marshall. He looked comfortable and in complete control of the Denver offense, which looks like it could be one of the best in the league. I think Cutler has a great chance to finish in the top 5 this season, which isn’t bad for a guy that was available in the 7th round.

Read the rest after the jump...

Waiver Wire Watch: Week 2

Every week, I highlight a few players that you should target in waivers. This week is especially important as owners everywhere will be scrambling to pick up the league’s surprise performers. With Tom Brady, Vince Young and Brodie Croyle missing significant time, QB is especially important this week.

I’ll use the ESPN league data when filtering players, so the only players eligible for discussion here are those that are available on the waiver wire of at least 50% of ESPN’s leagues. I’ll list each player’s percentage-owned after their name so you have an idea of how available they are in leagues around the country. I’ll always try to mention a few players that are available in 90% of leagues for those of you in 12-team leagues or leagues with big rosters. I’ll rank them in the order I’d pick them up in a league with a high-performance, PPR scoring system.


1. Matt Cassel (0.2)
Clearly, this is the pickup for Brady owners. They’re probably behind the eight ball and they might as well gamble with the guy taking Brady’s place. Can he play? Who knows, but he has a load of weapons around him.

2. Vince Young (46.8)
Yes, he’s hurt, but he doesn’t belong on the waiver wire in deep leagues.

3. Jeff Garcia (25.9)
Garcia is steady and a solid bye week fill in.

4. Trent Edwards (8.7)
Edwards is beginning to look like a starting NFL QB. I can see starting him against weaker defenses.

5. Matt Ryan (14.1)
Ryan played pretty well against a bad Lions secondary. He’ll have his ups and downs.

Read the rest after the jump...

Related Posts