1. The leading fantasy producer at tight end for the Houston Texans is Owen Daniels, right? Wrong. It’s Joel Dreessen courtesy of his five-reception, 73 yard, one touchdown performance this past week against the Raiders. In fact, his 13 fantasy points last week are nine more than Daniels (who has two games with under 10 yards) has this season. At this point, it appears that Dreessen has surpassed Daniels in the tight end pecking order in Houston.
2. Eagles head coach Andy Reid has always had a reputation of being poor at clock management but he seems to have taken his incompetence to a new level. This week, LeSean McCoy was ruled down just short of the goal line with 23 seconds remaining before halftime and Philadelphia trailing Washington 17-3. The replay booth called for a review that took five minutes to complete and the call was not overturned. Despite having all that time to come up with a fourth down play call, the Eagles were called for delay of game, forcing them to kick a field goal on fourth down at the six-yard line.
3. Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee’s 59-yard game winning field goal against the Colts last week was the third longest game winning field goal and eighth longest in the history of the league. For whatever reason, the Jaguars always play the Colts tough and Scobee now has three game winning field goals over Indianapolis, all from greater than 50 yards. I have some advice for Josh. After you nail a game winning kick, don’t try to run away from your teammates. You are a kicker. They will catch you. Hit the ground after the kick and take cover so you don’t get hurt.
4. Moving to the Colts, Reggie Wayne’s monster day last week (10 receptions for 176 yards) moves him and quarterback Peyton Manning into second place on the list of most receiving yards between a wide receiver and quarterback in league history. The only duo ahead of them are Manning and former Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison.
5. Since the start of the 2007 season, there have been three 40-yard runs by quarterbacks. It’s not surprising that Vince Young and Donovan McNabb have accomplished the feat given their running ability but Lions quarterback Shaun Hill was a surprise addition with a 40-yard scamper last week against the Packers.
6. Packers cornerback Charles Woodson had an interception return for a touchdown last week against the Lions, given him ten such plays in his career. That ranks him third all-time in that category behind Deion Sanders (12) and Rod Woodson (11).
7. With their special teams having a dominant performance during the shellacking of the Dolphins on Monday night, New England became the first team in NFL history to score a touchdown on a run, a pass, interception, kickoff return and a blocked field goal.
8. Here’s to the Rams, who are currently tied for first place in the woeful NFC West with a record of two wins and two losses. Entering last week’s home game against Seattle, the Rams had lost ten straight games to Seattle and 15 straight division games. With their 20-3 thrashing of the Seahawks, the Rams stopped both streaks and are beginning to look like they could challenge for the division crown behind rookie quarterback Sam Bradford and running back Steven Jackson, who surpassed Marshall Faulk this week to become the team’s second leading all-time rusher behind Eric Dickerson. That’s good company to keep.
9. Keeping with the Rams, they have allowed 17 points or less in their first four games, an astounding statistic given that their defense has ranked at the bottom of the league for most of the past decade. This is the first times a Rams defense has achieved this feat since the 1978 season.
10. More Rams. Their defense has given up four touchdowns – tied for the league lead with the Steelers and Ravens (sorry – I’m a Rams fan and I just had to mention that since I may never get the opportunity to do so again).
11. It was a coup for Fred Jackson owners when Buffalo finally traded Marshawn Lynch; shipping him to the Seahawks. Jackson figures to take over for Lynch in the Bills starting line-up and was a solid producer in that capacity in 2009. However, the Bills figure to be out of the playoff hunt early and so there’s a high probability that the team’s management will want rookie first round pick C.J. Spiller to see extended playing time before the end of the year. Jackson definitely shapes up as a sell high candidate over the next few weeks, provided of course that he performs the way he did last season.
12. Keeping with the Bills, tight end Shawn Nelson is eligible to return to the team this week after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Nelson underwent groin surgery four weeks ago so he may not be quite ready but the Bills are hopeful that the speedy tight end can help provide a spark to their anaemic passing attack. He flashed his ability at times during his rookie season in 2009 and may be ready for a bigger role in 2010.
13. With Randy Moss out of the picture, reports are circulating that the Patriots have contacted the Chargers about Vincent Jackson and the Seahawks about Deion Branch. While Jackson would make some sense in New England, it seems unlikely that Chargers general manager A.J. Smith would deal him to a team that San Diego could face in the playoffs. However, the Patriots are loaded with 2011 draft picks so they have the ability to make an offer that Smith would have a hard time turning down. As for Branch, he is on his last legs and would merely provide veteran depth and experience to the roster. Perhaps the Patriots are putting the Branch option out there to help drive down the price on Jackson, who is the player that could help propel them into the playoffs.
14. Here’s to Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz for stepping up and taking the blame for the team’s inept offensive effort during last week’s loss to the Giants. However, more than a fair share of the blame should go to quarterback Jay Cutler as well as the team’s offensive line. Cutler’s ability to read defenses has always been a question mark and never more so than against the Giants. While the league’s best quarterbacks are all adept at defeating the blitz, generally by throwing to the location that a blitzing defender has vacated, Cutler either misread several blitzes last week or refused to throw to the area the blitzing player left open.
15. Sticking with the Bears, look for the team to alter it starters along the offensive line for the third time this season. J’Marcus Webb, a rookie seventh round pick, has been subbing in for starter Kevin Shaffer at right tackle but may take over in the starting line-up this week. Guard Edwin Williams (Redskins), plucked off the waiver wire prior to the season, could start ahead of second-year player Lance Louis at right guard. In addition, left tackle Chris Williams may return to the line-up this week. Either way, it looks like the Bears will start their third offensive line combination in five games this season.
16. Looks like Tennessee wide receiver Justin Gage is battling a hamstring injury and might miss this week’s game against the Cowboys. Perhaps that will provide an opportunity either Nate Washington or second-year player Kenny Britt to finally emerge as the Titans number one wide receiver.
17. Keeping with the Titans-Cowboys matchup, here’s a little tidbit that might be useful – the Titans have won ten straight games against NFC opponents.
18. Here’s a name to keep your eye on if you are in a dynasty, PPR league – Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola. The Rams grabbed him off the Eagles practice squad last year and he played reasonably well as a rookie with 43 receptions for 326 yards and a touchdown. In the preseason, he held off rookie fourth round pick Mardy Gilyard to retain his position out of the slot. So far in 2010, he’s been targeted just under eight times per game and has 21 receptions for 208 yards – good enough to qualify as a solid backup in PPR leagues. He’s shown a willingness to go over the middle and he’s quick on underneath routes. In short, he’s a poor man’s Wes Welker but only in his second year and could grow into one of the league’s top slot receivers over the next couple of years.
19. After his second DWI charge, the Panthers finally rid themselves of wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett. Taken in the second round of the 2007, Jarrett had done little during his first three years in Carolina but was expected to be elevated to the starting line-up this season. I guess when the general manager uses a second round pick on you and is so convinced of your abilities that he releases Keyshawn Johnson, he is bound to give you more opportunities than you deserve in order to save face. Jarrett’s release is one in a long list of reasons why nobody should be surprised if both head coach John Fox and general manager Marty Hurney are looking for employment following the 2010 season.
20. Like every other fantasy enthusiast, I love reading the Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em articles out there (none more so than FFToday’s own The Shot Caller’s Report by Bill Aquaviva). However, I’m getting more than a little tired of reading that I should be starting whichever wide receivers are facing the Baltimore Ravens. As Bill points out in this week, the Ravens are giving up a miniscule 119 yards per game through the air and have given up just one passing touchdown in 2010. Entering the season, the Ravens were expected to have a poor passing defense but that clearly hasn’t been the case so it’s past time to adjust that viewpoint.