Welcome to Tuesday Morning Buzz! Each week, yours truly breaks down all of the weekend’s action from a fantasy perspective. Let’s get right into it.
In classic Falcons fashion, they took what was working, broke it, rebuilt it, and almost lost because of it. Last week, I complimented the Falcons on being smart and giving more rush attempts to Turner than pass attempts to Ryan. This week, Ryan failed to dazzle as his 34 attempts turned into Tebow-esque passing numbers. We’ll get much more into Tebow later, but in the same fashion, Ryan was bailed out by a rushing touchdown on a quarterback keeper that was fueled by the mouths and actions of the Detroit front four. For Detroit, had they been able to get anything going in the fourth quarter, they could’ve steamrolled a Falcons team that only scored two touchdowns.
Rumors have been flying about Ndamukong Suh being a dirty player since his college days. On Sunday, you saw him unnecessarily shoving an offensive lineman who was fired up after an unnecessary shove of Matt Ryan by Corey Williams. Ah, there’s nothing quite like caveman-sized thugs acting like the brutes they are. This play also directly affected fantasy football, as I’m sure it was Ryan calling for the quarterback keeper to get back at the Lions’ D-line. Good for him; but I’m sure Michael Turner owners everywhere were even more furious than the average Falcons fan after that one.
This week Matt Forte continued to make his case for a new paycheck as he ran all over the “home team” Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If you consider homefield advantage to be relevant in deciding the fate of the game, doesn’t it seem unfair that someone has to call the London game a home game? Why not just allow both teams to count this matchup as an away game so that they get to take full advantage of their home stadium? I understand the Bucs are very popular among the Brits, but I still find one team giving up a home game in London to be ludicrous. Due to the extreme consequences of travel, I’m willing to give the Bucs one more pass on a terrible offense before I pronounce that 10-win offense of last year a one-year-wonder.
If this column relied upon superlatives, this game would take the “Most Irrelevant Game in Fantasy” award for 2011. Both of these teams are absolutely terrible and look to continue being so into the foreseeable future. However, both have played well enough to likely keep themselves out of reach of the much coveted Andrew Luck, who, for my money, will wear a Miami Dolphins jersey next year. Montario Hardesty emerged from the scrap heap with double-digit points in standard scoring formats, but he needed an ungodly amount of tries to get there. Look for these teams to be miserable for the rest of this season, and don’t plan on getting any sort of consistent fantasy points from a single player on either team.
The Broncos eked out an overtime win on the road versus the worst team in football, in a game where the home team’s fans were all rooting for the road team. My, my, that’s impressive. The Broncos are another team that really needs to build through the draft. If they can come out of the 2012 draft with a first round-talent running back and a better offensive line, they may be able to reach 8-8 next year. For the Dolphins, it is Suck for Luck time. No other winless team needs a franchise quarterback as much as Miami, and their coach is a sitting duck. If Sparano gets fired, watch for an “interim” head coach and extremely conservative play calling for the remainder of the season.
As I’ve stated in previous weeks, I’ve never before seen such blind clamoring for an unproven athlete as there has been for Tim Tebow. For fantasy, however, he’s a top-10 option every week regardless of opponent. He can throw for 150 yards and no touchdowns but rush for enough to have a fantastic fantasy day. One rushing touchdown (which for Tebow is a near lock each week) is worth 120 yards passing in standard scoring. Combine that with the other 40 yards rushing he’s likely to accumulate, and you have incredible value at the quarterback position. As a quarterback, Tebow has all the intangibles to be great but obviously lacks a lot of fundamentals and polish. However, if he can merely come close to Jake Delhomme’s passing ability and combine that with his own rushing skills, and if the Broncos can find a decent running back (a la DeAngelo Williams), who knows how far they can go next year under head coach John Fox.
I like to think that Arian Foster is paying back fantasy owners for the first five weeks of the season. No Texan has ever gone for 100 yards passing and 100 yards receiving in a single game, but Foster did just that against the Titans. These Texans are hurting without Andre Johnson and Mario Williams, and they are one excellent Arian Foster performance away from a terrible outing. Until AJ gets back, I’m uncomfortable playing any Texan not named Foster. For the Titans, this felt like curtains to me. CJ2K is obviously not going to right this train this year. The question is, will he right the train next year, or is he doing his best Albert Haynesworth impression and giving up after getting paid?
Many fantasy owners stared at Mike Tolbert and another flex-play RB (like James Starks) on their bench and pondered, “How much work is Tolbert really going to get?” If you’re like me, you probably chose the less talented RB who was going to have more touches than the Michael Turner-esque Tolbert. Also, if you’re like me, you were wrong. Tolbert will not always get the red-zone score, but he’ll always get the opportunity. The No. 2 running back for these Chargers, who love to run in the red zone, is worth more than many top dogs in timeshares across the league. For the Jets, their defense finally looked like they turned a corner, but I have to wonder how much of that was this silly San Diego team that refuses to allow opponents to look bad.
I have no faith in any offensive players on the Redskins outside of Fred Davis. There is a quarterback, a wide receiver, and a running back carousel in Washington right now, and that will continue to be the case under Mike Shanahan. I’m fighting my instinct to pick up Roy Helu. Helu projects as a great RB, but Shanahan takes some kind of deviant pleasure in ruining fantasy players’ weeks. For the Panthers, go Cam Newton, go! If defenses can’t shake off this lockout slumber, Newton may walk away with the rookie record for passing yards in a season.
Well, Darren McFadden went down in the first quarter and the Raiders’ quarterbacks combined for 15 of 35 for 187 yards, no touchdowns, and six interceptions for an average quarterback rating of 19.8. It sounds like McFadden will be back after the bye, and hopefully two more weeks of practice will get Palmer ready to craft an actual performance. I don’t know what to think about the Chiefs, who have now won three straight, but I know I do like Steve Breaston and Jackie Battle in deeper leagues. Any team playing with momentum in a western conference has a decent chance to put up good numbers.
This entire game was predicated on one fact: the Cardinals defense stinks. Yours truly was on record in saying that Patrick Peterson should’ve been the first overall pick in the draft this year, and I stand by that; but not even No. 1 overall talent can fix a defense this bad. The Steelers are starting to roll, but I don’t think they’re as good as this game made them out to be. This game also did nothing to shape my opinion of any player on either team. Keep starting your starters and don’t pick up anyone from these teams who isn’t already owned.
P.S. Mike Wallace is really fast.
With DeMarco Murray coming two yards short of Felix Jones’ rushing total for the season, it seems likely that another game or two of strong performances could bring about a changing of the guard at running back. The Rams persist in being the Newt Gingrich of the winless teams: they have no interest in the grand prize of being worst in the league but persist in competing for it. In the coming weeks, watch for the Rams to be eliminated from that competition for worst, as they have at least three wins in them versus the Saints, Cards, Browns, Seahawks, and then the Cards again.
I live in Oklahoma. I’m almost equidistant from the St. Louis Cardinals’ and the Texas Rangers’ home fields. The Tulsa Drillers have been a minor league team for both the Cardinals and the Rangers, and there is about a 50/50 fanbase in my area. So, when the Cardinals faced off against the Rangers in Game 3 of the World Series right after the Cowboys faced off against the Rams, it was very interesting in my neck of the woods. I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like in Dallas/Fort Worth for a Boys game followed by a Rangers World Series matchup.
For the Packers, I’m not sure what there is to say. Sit any Green Bay receiver at your own risk, as they’re just as likely to go for 70 yards and a touchdown as they are two catches for 30 yards. For the Vikings, Christian Ponder looked good in his first start and McNabb handled the situation with poise by giving Ponder advice as needed.
In an amazing lack of coverage, only in the MNF pregame show did I see mention of Vikings defensive end Brian Robison squarely planting his cleat in Packers O-lineman T.J. Lang’s meat and potatoes. That’ll teach the young ones how to play fair.
If I had a nickel for every point the Saints scored in this game… Well, I’d only have $3.10, but 62 points allowed by any NFL defense is unacceptable. Graham, Colston, and Sproles put up the majority of the Saints’ points, all of which were scored in the first half. There was no running up the score here, the Colts simply gave up on this game in the face of a quick deficit and the tremendous homefield advantage of the Saints. That being said, on a neutral field, I would pick the Colts over the Dolphins by a touchdown.
$#^% Chris Collinsworth says
On the collapse of the Indianapolis Colts:
“It’s always such an interesting debate, whether or not… this team would be the same or anywhere close to it without Peyton Manning, but I don’t think any of these guys, these championship-caliber players, thought it would fall apart like this.”
Ah, what a beautiful run-on, crafted as only Chris Collinsworth can. My wife posed the question to me, “Do you think it frustrates Peyton Manning or inflates his ego that his entire team is ineffective without him?” To which I replied, “I don’t know about Peyton, but I imagine the rest of this team has to feel terrible. The other 52 can’t even compete without him! Even the defense!”
Defer to your wisdom
To begin the Monday night football game, the Jaguars won the opening coin toss and chose to defer the kick to the Baltimore Ravens. This is a great strategy in Madden, but does this work in the NFL? I am generally skeptical. Especially playing against such an aggressive defense, it seemed unwise to give them the chance to build and protect a lead. Luckily for the Jags, the Ravens didn’t eclipse 20 total yards until the third quarter.
What a barnburner. Ironically, Steve Young said in the pregame that the Ravens had to be able to score 40 points to contend this year. Forty-five minutes in, they had scored none against a defense that has been gashed by many of the same offenses the Ravens figure to battle in the playoffs. Thanks to a miraculous catch by Torrey Smith and a quick post route by Anquan Boldin, they came within two points. After a failed onside kick, the Ravens D made an efficient stop only to see it rendered fruitless by a Joe Flacco interception with just less than two minutes left. The Ravens’ lack of offense—90 total passing yards—seems inexplicable. Is the Jags defense really that good?
This game contained a great hyper-specific stat: “Sam Koch was the first alternate for the AFC punter’s group in the Pro Bowl last season.” How prestigious! How glorious it must be to be elected the alternate punter for the Pro Bowl.
Week 7 was a bit of a downer as the doldrums of the bye weeks set in. Many fantasy teams will play ugly games next week as the Falcons, Bears, Packers, Jets, Raiders, and Buccaneers go on bye. But look for good fantasy production out of your Bills and Niners. Michael Crabtree should be started in every league this week.