Bye Weeks: Minnesota, N.Y. Giants, Seattle, Tennessee
Grab a Helmet
Mathews @ DEN: Now that Chris Johnson has safely returned
to the camp of must-start running backs, it’s time to start looking
for our next reclamation project. Mathews certainly meets the
candidate qualifications. He was a top-notch rock toter as recently
as last year, ranking seventh overall at the position for the
2011 season. This year, he’s fallen off the map, ranking just
26th overall, both on a total points basis and on a points-per-game
basis (the more damning metric). It’s unlikely his skills have
deteriorated drastically (it’s only his third season), so…what
exactly gives and why should we start believing in him again?
Would “I don’t know” and “because I said so” suffice? Probably
not, huh? I guess you could say I’ve a hunch Mathews is about
to become more productive, provided he actually plays this Sunday
(he missed Wednesday’s practice). He’s topped the century mark
in three of his four career meetings against the Broncos and has
also tallied three touchdowns against them. It seems plausible
he could break out on Sunday.
Spiller v. MIA: Spiller’s credentials as a top-notch rock toter
can hardly be questioned at this point. He’s averaging an absurd
8 yards per touch (he’s a running back) and an even more absurd
7.3 yards per rushing attempt (a really GOOD running back). The
only thing preventing him from superstardom, both fantasy and otherwise,
is the fact he doesn’t touch the ball enough. Or rather, he HASN’T
touched the ball enough until now. That’s destined to change right
quick when the Bills square off against their division rivals, Miami,
in Orchard Park on Thursday night. Fred Jackson, the guy Spiller
bleeds all those touches to, needs more than the short week to overcome
his concussion (there’s that word again) and has already been ruled
out for Week 11. More touches for Spiller means those per-touch
averages will likely go down, but…more touches for Spiller! Get
With Jackson out, Spiller is a RB1.
Richardson @ DAL: Richardson recently warned upcoming opponents
they’re going to see “a whole other Trent” once his ribs are healed.
Translation: We ain’t seen nothing yet. Presumably, those tender
ribs healed during the Browns’ bye in Week 10, so consider yourselves
warned, upcoming opponents. It’s kind of scary, actually, to consider
how good Richardson might eventually become. He was billed as the
best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson back before April’s
draft and he’s been every bit as good as advertised despite playing
for a terrible squad with precious few other weapons. Marked men
in the NFL usually get routinely stymied but Richardson has managed
to stay within arm’s reach of the top 10 ranks for most of the season.
The nagging injuries might be a longer-term concern since he’s not
at all a finesse back, but he’s at least sturdily built and plenty
elusive. In other words, he’s able to avoid much of the contact
intended for him. I like the former Crimson Tide ground-pounder
to roll this Sunday.
Grab a Gatorade
Ivory @ OAK: Ivory is just the latest in a long line of out-of-nowhere
backs being gobbled up by fantasy GMs on league waiver wires.
This happens every year, after all, and especially at the position
most susceptible to rampant attrition, running back. The one big
problem with guys like him is that the guys they were asked to
replace inevitably return. In Ivory’s case, that’s happened much
sooner than was originally expected (Darren Sproles could play
this Sunday). Another problem with Ivory more specifically is
that his success rests on some pretty flimsy fundamentals. He’s
only carried the ball 17 times in two games. Though he’s scored
twice, one of them was a 56-yard house call against the Falcons
in Week 10. Take away that carry and he’s got 16 totes for 64
yards and a score in two games. Still interested in having Ivory
underpin your playoff run? We can’t take that 56-yard homer away
from him, of course, but I wouldn’t go expecting it to happen
again anytime soon. Be careful.
Turner v. ARZ: Hey, remember that time Atlanta’s coaching
staff vowed to cut down on Turner’s workload and give more carries
to Jacquizz Rodgers and then idiots like me lined up to guzzle
the Kool-Aid like thirsty desert wanderers? Never. Buying it.
Again. Also, they should probably have lived up to that promise
because Turner has looked really shaky at times this year. The
most recent case in point was last week at the Superdome when
he failed to get the necessary third-down yard (yes, yard) on
two separate occasions. One of those occasions was at the goal
line in the waning moments and likely could have sealed the win
for the Falcons. Alas, Turner was stuffed, the Saints ran out
most of the clock, and Mercury Morris and company popped a bottle
of champagne to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their perfect
14-0 season. You’ll probably start him against the Cardinals this
weekend but if I owned him, I’d feel more like punishing him with
Jennings @ HOU: We’re another week deeper into the season
but seemingly no closer to the first rushing touchdown scored
by a Texans opponent. Matt Forte, a fairly elite option, managed
just 39 yards on 16 carries in the Week 10 matchup at Soldier
Field and never really threatened to do the deed. That doesn’t
bode well for Jennings, a not-so-elite option getting the start
once again because Maurice Jones-Drew is still on the shelf. While
Forte was legitimately struggling against the stalwart Houston
defense, Jennings was struggling – to the tune of 27 yards
on 11 carries – against the far-from-stalwart Colts front.
He only got 11 carries, moreover, because the Jags were trailing
big almost immediately. Think there’s a pretty good chance
they’ll fall behind Houston this Sunday, and in a hurry?
If you do, think very hard about whether you wanna trot Jennings
out there. He’s a highly risky play in Week 11.