1. Last week I told you that there were three quarterbacks on pace to top Dan Marino’s record for the most passing yards in a single season. One of the three was the Colts’ Peyton Manning, but the odds of him bettering Marino’s record took a major hit this week. Running back Joseph Addai may miss a number of weeks with nerve damage in his shoulder, and Manning will be without two of his top three receivers for a number of weeks, also. Tight end Dallas Clark has a rare type of wrist injury and is out indefinitely, while wide receiver Austin Collie will miss 2-4 weeks after undergoing surgery on his hand. Look for Manning’s numbers to drop slightly over the coming weeks as he adapts to either Jacob Tamme or Brody Eldridge at tight end and Blair White, an undrafted rookie free agent, at wide receiver. Former first round pick Anthony Gonzalez will also be available once his high ankle sprain heals. The player most likely to benefit is wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who should see plenty of targets until the team’s other receivers recover from their injuries.
2. Sticking with Manning, one of the issues with having the league’s premier player on your fantasy roster is that the Colts often have home field advantage locked up by the time the fantasy playoffs roll around .That leaves Manning owners with a tough decision on which of their quarterbacks to play—but there shouldn’t be any such conundrum this season. The AFC South is a tough division this year, with the Colts, Texans, and Titans all tied atop the division with 4-2 records and with Jacksonville a game back at 3-3. If the Colts lose another game or two while waiting for their numerous injury issues to go away, they are very unlikely to have home field locked up before Week 17.
3. Another top-tier quarterback who may see his fantasy production go down over the next couple weeks is Philip Rivers. The Chargers may be without all three of their top receivers this weekend, with Malcolm Floyd likely out and Legedu Naanee and Antonio Gates questionable. It’s a big drop from those three to Patrick Crayton, Buster Davis, and Randy McMichael. Look for Chargers head coach Norv Turner to get Darren Sproles more heavily involved in the passing game until the injury issues pass over. It also might be a great time to target Ryan Mathews as a buy-low candidate. Since returning to the lineup, Mathews hasn’t seen many carries, but that is more a result of the team playing from behind than of his actual performance. Mike Tolbert is still stealing the short-yardage work, but Mathews is clearly a talented player who will break out if he stays healthy.
4. Sticking with the Chargers, it looks like Vincent Jackson will sign his tender next week, serve a three-game team suspension, and then be in the lineup for Week 12. Unfortunately for his fantasy owners, that’s too late to get anything in a trade for him, and he’s unlikely to establish himself as a quality starter before Week 15 or 16. If some other team is desperate, unload V-Jax for some depth and move on.
5. You have to love the intelligence of some of the players in the league. Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the third player taken in this year’s rookie draft, told reporters that he was going to “kill” former college teammate quarterback Sam Bradford. Presumably McCoy missed the news that two players were fined $50,000 this week for illegal hits while another player received a $75,000 fine.
6. Continuing with the fines handed down by the NFL this week and the intelligence of some the league’s players, did Steelers linebacker James Harrison really think his comments about retiring were anything more than a major league sulk job? Since he signed a six-year, $51.2 million contract with a $10 million signing bonus and $20 million in guarantees, Harrison would have to cut a significant check to the Steelers and forego an additional $10 million in guarantees if he were to retire. No surprise then that he returned to the team after “debating” his retirement for a day.
7. Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno, the first running back taken in the 2009 draft, has had a slow start to the season due to a hamstring injury suffered in the preseason—and with 12 carries for 48 yards, he didn’t do much in his first game since Week 2. Moreno owners also certainly took note of the 13 carries that went to Correll Buckhalter and Laurence Maroney. However, Moreno was benched for committing a false start penalty and fumbling and was likely being eased back into action by head coach Josh McDaniels. Look for Moreno to have his first big game of the year this week at home against a Raiders run defense that is once again among the worst in the league.
8. While Eagles head coach Andy Reid’s comments can never be taken at face value, I am convinced that Michael Vick will be back under center as soon as he is healthy. That being said, it is worth noting that with his 326-yard performance this week, Kevin Kolb has now passed for over 300 yards in three of his five career starts. Only two other quarterbacks have accomplished this feat.
9. Given their 1-4 record, it would be easy to write off the Cowboys’ playoff chances. But a closer look reveals that none of their losses has been by more than seven points. Dallas remains a talented team that is capable of going on a lengthy winning streak, which would be more likely if they could reign in their propensity for shooting themselves in the foot with numerous penalties.
10. Earlier this season, Rams running back Steven Jackson passed Marshall Faulk to become the franchise’s second-leading rusher. Jackson now stands just 32 yards shy of surpassing Eric Dickerson to become the Rams all-time leading rusher.
11. Ravens wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth is back practicing with the team after breaking a bone in his left foot during the preseason that kept him out of the first six games. Baltimore signed Stallworth to provide a speed element to their group of wide receivers, and he figures to be used on deep plays to help soften up opposing defenses. With tight end Todd Heap enjoying a productive season and Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason playing well, there is a possibility the Ravens could jettison T.J. Houshmandzadeh from the roster at some point. While that might sound ridiculous to some, Houshmandzadeh is no longer the player he was in Cincinnati, and he has made waves in Baltimore since signing with the Ravens, after being released by the Seahawks in the preseason. Showing his frustration might have been acceptable if he were producing, but he has just nine receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown in six games this season. Ravens management may well decide that Houshmandzadeh is likely to act out if Stallworth’s presence reduces his role (which is likely), and that he is more bother than he is worth at this point in his career. It doesn’t help matters than none of the Ravens top four wide receivers play special teams, which makes it possible that Houshmandzadeh could even become a game-day inactive when Stallworth returns.
12. I am the first to admit that I am not a huge college football fan, but my friends who are say that the performance of Rams wide receiver Danario Alexander in his first game as a pro was no fluke. Alexander caught four of his five targets for 74 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers, blowing past a flat-footed Antoine Cason before making a nice diving catch in the end zone. Alexander was expected to be a taken in the early rounds of the draft; that was, before he suffered a knee injury at The Senior Bowl, which caused him to go undrafted. The Rams other outside receivers (Brandon Gibson, Laurent Robinson, Mardy Gilyard) are unproven players, so Alexander has a chance to impress. While he’s hardly a candidate to start on a weekly basis in 10-team leagues, he could be useful in larger redraft leagues and is a great prospect in dynasty formats.
13. Another wide receiver that is worth picking up is Jason Avant of the Eagles. Avant will step into the starting lineup until DeSean Jackson returns from the concussion he suffered against the Falcons. The concussion is Jackson’s second since entering the league, and it’s possible that could cause him to miss multiple games. Like most teams in the league, the Eagles do not divulge any more information on injuries than is required, but players with multiple concussions are often held out for more than a week. While Avant is no threat to supplant Jackson or Jeremy Maclin in the starting lineup, he is a solid receiver on short and intermediate routes and is not afraid to go across the middle. He also has decent size and could steal some targets in the red zone.
14. With their loss this week to the Giants in New York, Detroit tied their own record of 24 for most consecutive road losses. Fortunately for the Lions, their next road game is in Buffalo in Week 10, where they have a solid chance to snap that losing streak.
15. Keeping with the Lions, rookie running back Jahvid Best was a fantasy revelation after the first two weeks of the season, with 55 fantasy points—40 of which came during a monster Week 2 performance against the Eagles. However, he has struggled since then, with just 274 total yards and no touchdowns. Worst yet, he has averaged just 3.2 yards per carry during that four-game span.
16. Could a 0-16 season be in the cards for the Panthers? After this week’s home game against 1-5 San Francisco, their remaining home games are against teams that currently have winning records. Their only road game against a team that currently has a losing record comes in Week 12 against the Browns.
17. If you go to the San Diego Chargers page on NFL.com, you will see that they rank first in the league in both offense and defense. Interesting stats considering they are 2-4. Further proof that there are lies, damn lies in statistics.
18. We all know about the Mike Martz factor on a team’s offense. Here’s further proof: The Bears gave up 35 sacks in 2009 but have given up 27 over just six games in 2010 (a projected total of 72 for the season).
19. Here’s to Chargers wide receiver Patrick Crayton for pointing out that his former coach in Dallas, Wade Philips, is very laid back and not involved in the team’s offense. If that’s not stating the obvious, I’m not sure what is. Philips has been a defensive coach for his entire career, and it is widely assumed that the only reason he has remained the Cowboys head coach, despite their repeated failures in the playoffs, is because he does what owner Jerry Jones tells him to do. If the NFL has a lap dog coach, Philips is it—and Crayton certainly would have been better-served keeping quiet on what is clearly well-known throughout the league.