Bye Weeks: Carolina, Indianapolis,
N.Y. Jets, San Francisco
Melvin Gordon has been leaking snaps to
Austin Ekeler but he's still the lead back in a plus matchup.
Grab a Helmet
Crowell v. JAX: Volume isn’t everything (ask Adrian
Peterson’s owners) but Hue Jackson’s continued unwillingness to
feed Crowell this season, despite preseason pronouncements to
the contrary, is one of the more puzzling coaching decisions of
2017. Cleveland started the season with an exceedingly raw quarterback,
frighteningly poor weapons at receiver, and an offensive line
one could build a solid running game around. Nevertheless, Crowell
is averaging only 15 touches per game (mostly rushing attempts)
and the Browns are no closer to earning that elusive first victory.
The good news if you haven’t given up on him yet? He’s been much
more productive the last two weeks, scoring 17.8 and 15.5 fantasy
points, respectively, against a tough Minnesota D and then Detroit.
Jacksonville is abusing quarterbacks this year but has been gashed
by opposing backs. If ever there were a time for 20 Crowell carries,
this is it. Start him on Sunday.
Gordon v. BUF: Jacksonville has been gashed by opposing
backs, but Gordon wasn’t the one doing the gashing last Sunday.
While the Chargers’ meal ticket was notching a paltry 42 yards
on 21 touches, his teammate, Austin Ekeler, was running all over
the Jags (119 yards on 15 touches). Should we be concerned by
this virtual Week 10 job share? Ekeler’s certainly earned more
work but received only 14 touches in the two previous games, leading
me to believe last week’s split was more situation and game flow-related
than anything else. I’d feel very confident starting Gordon against
a Buffalo defense that started the year as one of the league’s
best against the run but has since become one of the league’s
worst. The Bills have surrendered a staggering 47.8 points/game
to opposing RBs the past two weeks and that has to have both Gordon
and Ekeler owners salivating.
Lewis v. OAK (in Mexico City): Some backs do more with
less (Ekeler). Some do less with more (AD). Still others do just
about right with just about right. Lewis definitely belongs in
this last category now that he’s clearly supplanted Mike Gillislee
as the Pats’ primary back. OK, so there really ISN’T such a thing
in New England, but he’s about as close as it gets. The former
Pitt Panther has averaged over 13 carries per game since Week
6 and has rewarded us with just over nine fantasy points per outing
(more if your league counts special teams scores). Lewis’ owners
might be concerned by the sudden emergence of Rex Burkhead and
that concern is somewhat justified. However, there’s more than
enough work to go around in a New England offense that is explosive
and desperately short of wide receivers. Continue to ride Lewis
in Week 11.
Grab a Gatorade
Blount @ DAL: Blount was one of those just about right
guys from Week 3 to Week 8, averaging just over 14 carries per
game and a respectable 9.4 points/contest. Naturally, the Eagles
went out and nabbed Jay Ajayi at the trade deadline, adding another
body to an already crowded backfield that also includes Wendell
Smallwood and rookie Corey Clement. Smallwood looks like the odd
man out for now, but it could be Blount in the longer term and
his value probably takes the largest longer-term hit. The Eagles’
Week 9 boat race of the Broncos should have featured lots of LGB,
but he was limited to just 9 carries (Ajayi notched 7, Smallwood
5, and Clement a surprising 12) and did very little with that
workload, accumulating just 37 yards. That can’t excite his owners
in advance of a critical divisional showdown with the Cowboys.
Sit him down.
Morris v. PHI: Philly can all but wrap up the NFC East
with a win in Big D Sunday evening, as a four-game lead with six
to play would be virtually insurmountable, especially since the
Cowboys will be without Zeke Elliott for all but two of those
final six games. If you were harboring hopes the ‘Boys would be
able to replace Elliott with the three-headed monster of Morris,
Rod Smith, and Darren McFadden, last week’s debacle in Hotlanta
should have disabused you of that notion. Morris wasn’t terrible
(53 yards on 11 carries), but he did most of his damage on one
meaningless drive and actually played fewer snaps than the rookie
Smith, who replaces the target-allergic Morris on obvious passing
downs. There will be plenty obvious passing downs against the
high-flying Eagles, who have defended only 133 rushing attempts
all year, 46 fewer than any other squad.
Cohen v. DET: Which way did he go? That’s what most
were asking earlier this season when the diminutive but explosive
FCS product was zig-zagging his way through unsuspecting secondaries.
Now it’s literally…which way did he go? In his first
three games as a Bear, Cohen averaged about 15 touches and almost
100 yards. Unfortunately, in his last three games as a Bear, he’s
only touched the ball 8 times TOTAL and has managed just 30 yards
per outing. What the heck happened? It’s not like the Chicago
offense is setting the world on fire of late (just 15 points per
the last three games), so this sudden drop in utilization is a
real head-scratcher. Cohen seems like the perfect relief valve
for a developing quarterback but apparently, Benny Cunningham
is better in pass protection on third downs. Look elsewhere.