[Editor's Note]: Last year, Scott Mieszala served as my Assistant Sports Editor before I went all Dusty Baker on him and burned him out midway through the semester. Still, Scott presented his highly regarded weekly columns. The fact that he is without a job while scabs such as Rick Morrissey and Chris DeLuca are still employed is a sad. Someone, hire him. With that said, and the Detroit Lions are coming into Soldier Field to face the Chicago Bears, I thought it would be the perfect time to bring Scott on to reprise his award-winning column, "Who's Burning Detroit?"
So, who will it be this week? Find out after the jump.
A lot has changed in the NFL since the 2007 season. Only one of the division winners from that season currently sits atop its division. LaDainian Tomlinson and Cedric Benson appear to have undergone the same sort of face-swap procedure that John Travolta and Nicolas Cage did in “Faceoff.” Tom Brady and the present-day Patriots’ offense look completely different than they did in 2007, but one unit doesn’t seem to have changed at all: the Detroit Lions’ defense.
At the request of this blog’s proprietor, Mr. Ludameister, I am bringing back a 2007 fantasy football column segment called “Who’s Burning Detroit?”. It was born in Week 3 of that season, when Eagles receiver Kevin Curtis torched Detroit for 221 yards and 3 touchdowns. Curtis would only catch three more touchdowns the rest of the season, and has only eclipsed 100 receiving yards in a game twice since. After that game I began ending my weekly fantasy football column with “Who’s Burning Detroit?”, directing readers to pick up a receiver available in most leagues who happened to be going against the Lions.
“Who’s Burning Detroit?” was perfect for fantasy owners who were hurting at the WR spot (e.g., me). The success stories that come to mind are Brandon Stokley (who went for 32 yards and a TD – not bad for a free agent pickup), Muhsin Muhammad (49 yards and a TD), Antwaan Randle El (100 yards) and Sidney Rice (53 yards and a TD). I’m pretty sure these guys were only owned in leagues that their parents participated in.
Look at that list again. Imagine if you could find a way to predict when Jason Kendall was to hit a home run or when Samuel Dalembert would score 15 points in a game. This is the magic of “Who’s Burning Detroit?”.
Just so we’re clear, I don’t consider myself a great innovator for simply giving a name to a way to take advantage of a favorable match-up. I’m sort of like the first guy to think to rob a bank, in that these are both simple ideas that nobody had acted on yet. Speaking of which, do you think the first bank robbery was really easy, like it didn’t occur to the first bank owner that someone might attempt to rob the place so he didn’t hire security? How long did the banks operate with no issues before the idea to rob one hit the original bank robber? And how would I go about researching such a subject?
And while we’re off-subject, I’d like to present to you this week’s Headline That Caused Me To Do A Double-Take: “Chicago Bear Jay Cutler playing within himself” from the Chicago Tribune. I think it’s pretty clear what I misread that one to say. OK, let’s get back on topic.
Something’s going to have to change soon to level the playing field for the Lions. It’s not the players’ fault the team was being run by Matt Millen all those years, and he traded its only respectable cornerback for Tatum freaking Bell. If the NFL isn’t going to change the rules for the Lions, like giving them an extra three defenders on the field or suspending pass interference rules and giving them weapons, the fantasy football powers that be might want to think about cutting points scored against the Lions in half because they’re quite easy to come by.
(And I don’t know who the fantasy football powers that be are, or if they exist. I would assume they all strongly resemble Eric Karabell, though.)
But until then, the Bears hosting the Lions this week is really a perfect storm, so it’s a great time to bring back “Who’s Burning Detroit?”. Consider: Jay Cutler and his wide receivers are still getting used to each other, they could use an easy opponent to rack up points to get in sync, and two of them are available in most leagues. Johnny Knox, who’s available in 46 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 79.6 percent of ESPN.com leagues, has lately been referred to as Cutler’s new Eddie Royal. Then Earl Bennett, available in 75.4 percent of ESPN.com leagues and 73 percent of Yahoo! leagues, leads the Bears in receptions. Bennett, like Knox, was labeled Cutler’s new Eddie Royal. Not by the same person though. I don’t think so, at least.
If you could use some help at WR this week (say, if you’re an owner of the original Eddie Royal), “Who’s Burning Detroit?” suggests you pick up either one Bennett or Knox. I’d prefer Knox due to his big-play ability.
But who knows? Maybe the Lions’ win last week could be the start of a new era in Detroit, one in which they aren’t likely to give up decent points to virtually any wide receiver who faces them.