1. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Despite the passing of Raiders owner Al Davis, Oakland once again hit the trade market in a desperate manner this week, giving up a 1st round pick in the 2012 draft and a conditional pick in the 2013 draft that could also be a 1st round pick in exchange for Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer. At worst, the 2012 pick will be the Raiders 2nd round choice. Unfortunately for the Raiders, Palmer hasn’t been the same player since suffering elbow ligament damage in 2008 and having shoulder issues last season. The bottom line is that the Raiders are a team loaded with deep threats at wide receiver and they gave away a boatload to acquire a player who hasn’t been much of a deep passer over the last two years.
2. Sticking with the Palmer situation, the play the Raiders lost starting quarterback Jason Campbell for the season due to a broken collarbone occurred when Cleveland linebackers Scott Fujita and Chris Gocong took Campbell down on a pass rush. What kind of karma is that for the Browns? Credit Fujita and Gocong for helping hand the Bengals two premium picks in the next two drafts. If the Bengals hit on those picks, Browns fans will remember that bad karma for years to come.
3. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, the first player taken in the NFL draft, has taken the league by storm as well as the fantasy world with his amazing start to the season. However, you could make the argument that the most successful rookie quarterback, and the one with the best chance of taking his team to the playoffs, is the Bengals Andy Dalton. While Newton’s Panthers sit at 1-5, Dalton’s Bengals are 4-2 with a legitimate shot at making the playoffs.
4. Here’s a reminder why it’s always nice for your fantasy prospects to load up on players from the top offenses in the league. The Patriots failed to top 30 points this week against the Cowboys, marking the first time in 14 games that they failed to score 30 or more points. The Rams squads from the 1999 and 2000 seasons set the mark with 14, leaving the current New England squad one game shy of matching their record.
5. Sticking with the Patriots, while they didn’t hit the 30-point plateau this week, they did eek out another home win, giving them 20 straight wins at Foxboro. It seems like they manage to pull out wins there even when they play poorly, as was the case this week against Dallas.
6. Staying with that game, it was certainly a curious decision by Cowboys coach Jason Garrett to play for a field goal near the end of regulation, relying on his defense to hold against the Patriots offense. That decision backfired and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called him out on it this week. Of course, that was Jerry being Jerry since he also wasn’t pleased when the Cowboys continued to play aggressively despite a big lead over Detroit, that decision also backfiring when quarterback Tony Romo threw three second-half interceptions, including two that were returned for touchdowns, as the Lions came back to beat the Cowboys.
7. Sticking with questionable coaching, if Buffalo wasn’t a small market team, there would be howls of outrage over the decisions Chan Gailey made this week. With a little over four minutes remaining in a tied game, the Giants with two timeouts remaining and the Bills already in field goal position at the Giants 27-yard line, Gailey called for a go pattern down the sideline to Steve Johnson. However, Corey Webster had spent much of the day draped all over Johnson and already had one interception. Webster picked off an underthrown pass from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Giants promptly marched down the field for the game winning field goal. While running back Fred Jackson had been bottled up by the Giants run defense saved for a couple of big runs, Gailey would have been better served playing more conservatively, with the worst case scenario having the Giants needing a field goal to tie.
8. The Panthers placed starting right tackle Jeff Otah on injured reserve this week, marking the third time in his four seasons in the league that he has finished the season on injured reserve. Carolina’s 1st round pick in the 2008 season, Otah was outstanding in his rookie year but not as impressive in his sophomore season before missing all of the 2010 campaign. With Otah out of the lineup, the Panthers will turn to rookie undrafted free agent Byron Bell but that may be a stop gap measure until recently signed Reggie Wells is ready to play. If Bell struggles, look for left guard Travelle Wharton to slide out to right tackle with Wells stepping in at guard. Otah’s loss hurts the Panthers rushing attack, which is already struggling with neither DeAngelo Williams nor Jonathan Stewart having solid seasons.
9. Chargers tight end Antonio Gates is listed as questionable this week but the odds are on him suiting up against the Jets. Head coach Norv Turner has indicated that Gates will be scaled back if he plays but one area where that likely won’t be the case is in the red zone, where the Chargers have struggled. Quarterback Philip Rivers has made a habit of protecting the ball in the red zone but has already thrown two picks there already in 2011. Look for Gates to resume his role as the Chargers preferred option near the goal line, resulting in fewer scoring opportunities for wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd.
10. While Saints rookie 1st round pick Mark Ingram has not performed up to expectations thus far in 2011, he gets a solid matchup this week in a home game against Indianapolis. The Colts run defense ranks 30th in the NFL and has played well in only one game thus far, a Week 4 road loss to the Steelers. Ingram has been a disappointment, averaging just 3.3 yards per touch but his fantasy performance has been saved by the three touchdowns he has scored in his last four games. If he can’t get it going this week against the Colts suspect run defense, it might be time to nail Ingram to your bench, if you haven’t already done so.
11. There was a lot of noise coming out of Chicago this week, the result of quarterback Jay Cutler being caught on camera telling Bears quarterback coach Shane Day to tell offensive coordinator Mike Martz to do something that shouldn’t be repeated on a family friendly website. This shouldn’t come as any surprise and is hardly newsworthy. Martz is known for riding his quarterbacks wherever he has been, including in St. Louis with his star pupil Kurt Warner. When Todd Haley was the Cardinals offensive coordinator, he had frequent sideline blowups with head coach Ken Whisenhunt, Warner and wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. Cutler’s apparent broadside amounts to little more than a tempest in a teapot.
12. Saints quarterback Drew Brees is having an MVP caliber season with his team throwing the ball far more than most expected. Having signed veteran free agent running back Darren Sproles away from San Diego and trading up to take Ingram near the end of the 1st round of the draft, the Saints were expected to run the ball more frequently than they did in 2010 when they struggled with injuries at the position. Their ability to run the ball was a key factor in their Super Bowl winning season and head coach Sean Payton was expected to attempt to replicate that strategy in 2011. However, the running game has struggled, leaving Brees to throw early and often. He threw for 383 yards in this week’s loss to the Bucs, making Brees the first player in league history to throw for 350 or more years in four consecutive games.