Welcome to the Tuesday Morning Buzz! In Week 6, the plays on the field were less exciting than the action off the field. From coach fights, to empty threats of getting into fights, to quarterback controversies, it was one for the headlines but not very exciting between the hash marks. Let’s get right into the action that did go down.
The Falcons once again won with the strategy that seems to have sold everyone but them: Run the ball. The more Turner runs the ball, the more dominant the Falcons are. I would take Atlanta in nearly any game versus any opponent if I was guaranteed that Michael Turner’s rushing attempts would outnumber Matt Ryan’s passing attempts. Everyone wants Ryan to be “unleashed,” but the fact is that his team scored 31 points while he had 14 completions for 163 yards and one touchdown. Hopefully for Turner owners and Falcons fans, the coaching staff will realize this and quit trying to be the Chargers or the Saints.
For the Panthers, Newton had (so far) uncharacteristically low passing numbers but salvaged his fantasy day with 50 yards rushing and a touchdown. Since any offensive success on this team runs through Newton, most everyone else had relatively pedestrian fantasy days as well. Jonathon Stewart actually had a nice day, but I just can’t put any stock into either running back until I see some consistency for two or three weeks straight.
Colts – Bengals
Any other year, the Bengals winning this matchup by any means would be unheard of. This year, however, the mighty Bengals brought in the 0-5 Colts and very nearly came to a 20-20 overtime matchup. The final score looks like the Bengals had this game in hand, but it took a blocked field goal and a recovered fumble to make it happen. Curtis Painter almost led the Colts to a coveted fourth-quarter comeback (the most overrated of football stats) and should be a pickup for bye weeks. These Colts are motivated and angry and their fantasy points will start increasing.
49ers – Lions
And you thought the Seahawks getting to the playoffs at 7-9 was a firestorm! Just wait until the 49ers have a first-round bye in the playoffs after they run the table on their division. The Niners are 5-1 right now, with five games left against their own miserably bad division. I wonder if a less fantasy-relevant offense has ever had such a great winning record. Certainly, terrible teams have had very fantasy-relevant offensive stars, but I’m straining to remember a team with double-digit wins that didn’t have a fantasy player I really wanted. The status is quo for the Lions; if fans really thought they were finishing this season with no losses, then the delusion had gone far past the bonds of sanity.
In what was possibly the most entertaining event of the weekend, Lions coach Jim Schwartz erupted after the insufferably great Jim Harbaugh reportedly added injury to insult, literally, by smacking Schwarz then cussing at him. I imagine Jim Harbaugh said, “Hah! Looks like we’re the best f%!&ing terrible team turned great this year!” and then slapped an “actually good team” sign on Schwarz’s back. Of course, the coach of the team that holds the prestigious no-wins-in-a-whole-season award wasn’t going to host any thought of his team not being the sole feel-good reformation story, so Schwartz blew up. Afterwards, Harbaugh blamed the incident on “too hard of a handshake.”
Rams – Packers
Packers are good, Rams are bad. However, late today Brandon Lloyd was traded to the Rams for a fifth- or a sixth-round pick. It will take a couple of weeks for him to get acclimated, but remember the stats he had last year under former Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels? If you’ve forgotten, McDaniels is the offensive coordinator in St. Louis now, and Bradford is a heck of a lot better quarterback, talent-wise, than Kyle Orton. Watch for Lloyd to have a big second half if he can manage to avoid the injuries that are wracking the football world this year.
Bills – Giants
Just like the Colts, the Buffalo Bills did an impression of a 2008 team Sunday—the 2008 Buffalo Bills! Those Bills started 4-0 then had a fatal loss of momentum and went 3-9 the rest of the way. At least 2008 draft steal Stevie Johnson caught a touchdown in this game. The Bills started hot but couldn’t maintain as they allowed the Giants to just keep scoring while the Buffalo offense sputtered. For the Giants this week, Ahmad Bradshaw was this close to scoring four touchdowns, and Eli Manning looked above average again. This game was evidence that the season is starting to double back toward preseason expectations.
Jaguars – Steelers
Just like the Rams–Packers game, the Steelers and Jags went down just like it might’ve been scripted. Both quarterbacks combined to complete 24 passes for a 309 yards and two touchdowns (a slow day in comparison to most quarterbacks this year), and each running back carried the offense on their back. Let’s hope both of these teams continue to let their running backs win the battle, because God knows we fantasy owners need better RBs this year.
My Kingdom for an RB!
To that point, where have all the RBs gone? Did you know Fred Jackson, Beanie Wells, and Jahvid Best are top-10 fantasy backs through six weeks? And Willis McGahee ranks 15th! No wonder each team feels weak at RB. After all, how much confidence does McGahee inspire in you? I blame this one on the lockout in an indirect way. It is widely understood that the faster you can put up points, the better chances you have. And it is widely understood that passing against a bad pass defense runs up the score faster than rushing would. With the rule changes (which I support) and the lack of time defenses have had to “gel,” it seems that just about any offense can pass on just about any defense. So, by deduction, if scoring quickly wins, passing scores quickly, and passing is easier than ever, then the running game suffers. As the defenses start to rally, watch for passing numbers to fall and rushing numbers to rise. Buy low on RBs now if you can.
Speaking of rushing, guess who is leading the league? The dynamite combination of Vick and McCoy, of course! Really, there isn’t another team I’d consider over it. McCoy is one of the top scoring RBs each week and the Eagles’ QB is a lock for 50 plus yards a game. It was apparent to anyone who knows the Redskins that they would lose this game. The poor, poor Redskins are the only team better than the Cowboys at shooting themselves in the foot. I wouldn’t touch any Washington player with a 10-foot pole, and I’m starting all Eagles as I normally would for the rest of the season. But, you say, haven’t the Eagles been a low-performance, bad-attitude team all year? Don’t you always say not to start players on teams with their arrows pointing down? Yes, that’s true. Everyone has been down on the Eagles, but the Eagles haven’t been down on themselves. The offense has been clicking in general, and Vick has continued to put up top-3 QB numbers.
Okay, so Flacco and Boldin didn’t do that awesome. Flacco did rush for a touchdown, but that simply countered his interceptions. Boldin did have a good game on an encouraging eight catches but was missing a touchdown that would’ve really made his day. Jacoby Jones had a great day, but let’s see it consecutively before we crown him Andre Johnson II. From what I saw, the Texans got outmuscled without their fantastic receiver and couldn’t stay in the game.
McFadden had a good day against these Browns, but Cleveland has allowed 100-plus yards on the ground to their opponents every game this year. And in that light, McFadden had 91 and a touchdown on 20 carries. Look for him to get even more work in the coming weeks, as the passing game just went down with the loss of Jason Campbell. Until the Raiders can trade for a quarterback and get him integrated, McFadden will approach 30 carries a game. Look for him to be the No. 1 scoring RB next week against the Chiefs in the Black Hole.
Oh, Dallas Cowboys, how do they hate thee? Let me count the ways. It was already penciled in that Dez Bryant and Miles Austin would both have 100 yards and a score or two. Against the worst pass defense in football, each receiver got less than 80 yards and no touchdowns. Just when it looked as if the Patriots would finally lose one at home (it’s been since 2006!), it was as if Dez Bryant were on the sidelines screaming, “What?! We can’t win this game! Can’t you fools see we are meeting our expectations! Coach, call three consecutive run plays and give the ball back to Brady!” and Jason Garrett listened. Pats fans beware: this is the second time this year the Patriots have committed four turnovers in a game. Those are the type of miscues that come back around to bite you.
The Patriots are number one in total offense, the Eagles are three, the Packers are four. So who is number two? The New Orleans Saints, of course. Due to the inflated passing stats this season, being second in passing offense and 18th in rushing offense makes you second overall. However, the Saints did not look like world beaters on Sunday. Once Jimmy Graham fell on head coach Sean Payton (who suffered a torn meniscus and a fractured knee in the accident), the momentum was just sapped from the team. Drew Brees tried to pull his team back from the dregs with another Herculean effort, but not even the Super Bowl-winning, franchise quarterback could pull this one out. However, Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham both combined for great fantasy numbers and should be started as the Saints face the Colts then the Rams in Weeks 7 and 8.
For the Bucs, this was a mediocre game that was enough to get a win over a sleeping Saints team in Tampa. Earnest Graham was a nice replacement for LeGarrette Blount, but you have to be feeling pretty nervous about any Buccaneers you may own.
There were really only two statistical stars in this game: The Bears DST and Devin Hester. Hester looked great as he had a couple of incredible returns—including one for a score—and also caught a touchdown from Jay Cutler. You cannot count on this kind of performance every game, however, and the returns are frequent but impossible to predict. Shy away from Hester unless your league allows points for return yardage. For the Vikings, if his name isn’t Adrian Peterson, don’t start him. I don’t care about matchup; there is someone on the waiver wire better than any other Viking
$#^% Chris Collinsworth Says
On rookie QB Christian Ponder:
“And there goes some of the mobility that made him an attractive draft choice. A lot of issues, arm, elbow, shoulder, issues down there. Some surgery and they feel like he’s back to full strength again.”
Now, I’m no grammarian, but I’m not really sure what that one meant. I loved it so much I had to include it though. I’m assuming that Chris was trying to get across that Ponder had some injury questions coming into the draft, though I’m not sure what “issues down there” was referring to. Ponder is the story of this game, however, as it looks like the reins may have finally come off. If he can keep the footballs off the turf, maybe he can take advantage of the passing spree that the rest of the league’s quarterbacks have been enjoying.
Andrew Luck fans, are you prepared to see him in a Dolphins jersey? AFC East fans, does it make you nervous? No pun intended, but luck has not been on the Dolphins’ side when it comes to quarterback, as everyone knows they’ve had a new one nearly every season since Marino hung up his cleats. I, for one, will be very interested to see the Luck–Marshall Combination. Defense wins championships, but I believe that the league is changing so that defense alone won’t get you there. You don’t have to be a spread offense going five-wide, but you have to be able score touchdowns more often than kick field goals. These two offenses are not Super Bowl bound this year because they cannot score points. Obviously, the Dolphins are not even three-win bound, but the Jets have legitimate playoff hopes. If they don’t get this offense shored up and able to score at least a couple of touchdowns per game, they’re going to find tough sledding in winning the division against the Patriots or competing for the wild card.
And there you have it. I’m excited for the Tebow-mania that will ensue in Miami next week as he takes the field after the ’09 Florida Gator championship celebration for his first NFL start . Expect Tebow to throw for 20 touchdowns and rush for eight more. There is no QB I would start over Tim Tebow next week. None.