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Moving Up, Moving Down – Week 6

By: — October 11, 2011 @ 7:49 pm


Moving Up

Matt Cassel, Chiefs
The good news is that Cassel is heating up as we’re going through bye weeks. The bad news is that he’s on a bye in Week 6. Rats. Over the last two weeks, Cassel has looked like the player we expected entering the season, solid but far from spectacular. He had his best fantasy game of the year against the Colts, throwing for 257 yards and four touchdowns, one week after throwing for 260 yards and a score against the Vikings. Here’s his schedule beginning in Week 7: Raiders (28th ranked pass defense), Chargers (2nd – okay, not so good), Dolphins (27th), Broncos (21st), Patriots (31st), Steelers (1st), Bears (26th), Jets (5th), Packers (29th) and Raiders (28th). That’s right through to Fantasy Football Championship Games in Week 16 and it looks pretty darn nice.

Curtis Painter, Colts
Turns out Painter’s not quite as clueless as he led us to believe during significant playing time in a pair of games to close out the 2009 season and in most of his preseason contests. With the Colts in desperation mode, Painter has started each of Indianapolis’ last two games and looked solid, completing 28 of 59 passes for 558 yards and 4 touchdowns with no interceptions. That’s pretty impressive considering the state of the Colts offensive line (they were horrendous during Painter’s first start against the Bucs).

Tebow is likely to give his fantasy owners a wild ride.

Tim Tebow, Broncos
It’s Tebow time. Help yourself to what surely will be the one of the most up and down fantasy quarterbacks for the balance of the 2011 season. The Broncos were surely looking to find a reason to insert Tebow into the starting line up and incumbent starter Kyle Orton provided it this week with a dud of a performance against the Charges. The good news is that Tebow is his own goal line back and has seven rushing touchdowns (including one this week) in just 12 career games. The bad news is that it often looks like he’s throwing to opposing cornerbacks as much as his own wide receivers. Dig in for a wild ride, folks.

Moving Down

Mark Sanchez, Jets
Frustration. If you own Sanchez in a dynasty league, that’s what you’re feeling. He’s blown hot and cold for much of his career but appeared ready to emerge as an upper tier fantasy backup after three decent outings to start the season where he averaged 25.9 fantasy points per game. Unfortunately, his combined point total over his last two games (Ravens and Patriots) didn’t hit 25.9 – try 22.6 including a true Week 4 dud against the Ravens with just 6.3. That one you could excuse him for but just 16.3 fantasy points on 166 yards and a pair of touchdowns against a very poor Patriots secondary is cause for concern.

Running Backs

Moving Up

Jackie Battle, Chiefs
While it’s difficult to say with certainty that Battle is a big upgrade over Thomas Jones, he did get a healthy dose of playing time this week and he certainly made the most it. In the first extensive playing time of his career, Battle had 19 carries for 119 yards and two receptions for 21 yards. His 21 touches topped the Chiefs running backs with Thomas Jones getting 12 and Dexter McCluster just five. That doesn’t mean Battle has earned the starting position for the balance of the season but it does mean he’s earned it for the time being. The Chiefs have a Week 6 bye followed by a stretch of games where they face run defenses ranked 12th or lower until they face the Packers 3rd ranked run defense in Week 15. Lightning in a bottle perhaps? You never know.

Delone Carter and Donald Brown, Colts
Starter Joseph Addai injured his hamstring this week against the Chiefs and initial reports indicate he will miss 1-3 weeks. That opens the door Carter and Brown and if this week is any indication, the Colts will ride the hot hand. Brown had been left for dead but looked like the better back of the two this week with 38 yards on eight carries. Can’t say I’d want to have to rely on either one and it’s possible this situation will remain muddled until Addai returns. Only for the desperate.

Willis McGahee, Broncos
Okay, enough already. The Broncos have clearly given up on 2009 1st round pick Knowshon Moreno. When you’ve handed the lead role to the plodding McGahee, what other conclusion can be reached? On the plus side, McGahee has topped 100 yards in three of the past four weeks. Sure, the Broncos are facing soft defenses and they play from behind but McGahee is making the most of the opportunities and it’s not like the Broncos are about ready to turn their season around, Tim Tebow or no Tim Tebow.

Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers
With Rashard Mendenhall out with a hamstring injury and replacement starter Isaac Redman suffering from cramps, Dwyer stepped into the fray and showed why Pittsburgh used a 2010 6th round pick to acquire him. Dwyer had easily his best game as a pro, gaining 107 yards on 11 carries and catching a pass for six yards. The Jaguars are on tap in Week 6 and if Mendenhall can’t go, Dwyer has likely earned at least 1/3rd of the carries in a split role with Redman.

Moving Down

LaDainian Tomlinson, Jets
After having two solid performances during the first three games of the season, LT has become a forgotten man in New York with just seven touches over the last two games. Looks like the Jets are making a concerted effort to get Shonn Greene going and he posted his best game of the season this week against the Patriots. That doesn’t bode well for LT owners.

Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
See above. Relegated to 3rd down duty and nothing more. This week, that meant not one single carry. Ignore the fantasy point total which was padded with a receiving touchdown.

Dexter McCluster, Chiefs
McCluster’s touches have gone from 15 to 10 to 5 … hard to be productive without the ball. So much for McCluster being the back to attempt to replace Jamaal Charles’ production.

Wide Receivers

Moving Up

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders
Has the light finally gone on for the much maligned Raiders 2009 1st round pick? Heyward-Bey has been a colossal bust for the first two years of his career but he has shown a glimpse of promise over the past two weeks. He looked solid against the Patriots in Week 4, catching four of seven targets for 115 yards and again this week against the Texans, catching seven passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. Rookie Denarius Moore and 2nd year player Jacoby Ford were getting all the fantasy love as the Raiders wide receivers to own but Ford has been a bust and Heyward-Bey has been getting the looks in the games that both he and Moore have played (29 to 18). You know the adage – it’s all about opportunity.

Victor Cruz, Giants
Do I truly believe? Not really. But there’s no denying two things: 1. Cruz is on a hot streak and 2. quarterback Eli Manning is looking his way. Cruz’s targets have went from 5 to 9 to 11 over the past three weeks, a period in which he has caught 17 passes for 369 yards and three touchdowns. The guy seems to have a knack for making big plays. Mario Manningham is too good not to start eating into at least some of that production but Cruz is definitely startable until he proves otherwise.

Pierre Garcon, Colts
If you’ve ever read my column, you know I’m not a Pierre Garcon fan. But I am warming up to him now that he’s become new starting quarterback Curtis Painter’s favorite target in the passing game. Painter has looked his way 16 times during his past two starts compared to 15 for Reggie Wayne, with Garcon catching seven of those targets for 271 yards and four touchdowns. Hey, some of it has been on broken coverages and some of it the result of bad tackling but points are points.

Steve Breaston, Chiefs
The Chiefs offense has come around over the past two weeks and Breaston is making the most of his limited targets – just in time to help his owners through their bye weeks. He’s also shaping up as a decent flex play in leagues that employ that position, with eight receptions on ten targets for 141 yards and a pair of scores over the last two weeks. Turns out a rising tide lifts all boats in Kansas City and the Chiefs increased offensive production is extending to Breaston’s performance.

James Jones, Packers
I’ll be honest – it doesn’t take as much to impress me once the bye weeks hit. Hello, James Jones. Three week scrub becomes solid two week starter becomes who knows what. With so many solid receiving options in Green Bay, Jones’ nice two-week stretch of eight receptions for 188 yards and a pair of scores might mean nothing in the Packers Week 6 game against the Rams. Of course, it’s the Rams who are down to Al Harris, Justin King, Rod Hood, Josh Gordy and Brian Jackson at cornerback. That ain’t pretty, folks. Start all your Packers.

Michael Crabtree, 49ers
He was Moving Up last week when he probably didn’t deserve and after a two reception, 36-yard performance, he probably doesn’t deserve it this week. But who exactly is going to catch the ball for the 49ers? Braylon Edwards remains out and Josh Morgan suffered a broken leg during this week’s blowout win over the Buccaneers. That leaves Crabtree and Ted Ginn Jr. as the team’s starter and T.J. Houshmandzadeh was brought in for a workout. Hey, the 49ers did score 41 points this week.

Moving Down

Jacoby Jones, Texans
With Andre Johnson out of the line up, Jones got a Moving Up last week with a qualifier that it was “as tepid a Moving Up as you’ll ever find.” If you watched any of this week’s Texans-Raiders contest, what you saw was a quarterback not on the same page with his wide receiver. If Jones wasn’t running an out pattern at the wrong depth, then it was a slant at the wrong depth. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen less chemistry between a quarterback and a wide receiver. By game’s end, Jones had caught one of eleven targets. The sad parts are that these two have been playing together since Jones came into the league in 2007 and it’s not like Jones doesn’t have talent. He just can’t get do anything with it.

Mike Williams, Bucs
Well, I’ve waited long enough and it’s time for Williams to be Moving Down. When you are the lead receiver on a team that got crushed 48-3 and all you contribute is four receptions for 28 yards despite a healthy dose of garbage time opportunity and you’ve been a disappointment for four straight games, you’re Moving Down. It’s that simple. The big plays that were there in 2010 have dried up for Williams who is averaging just 9.6 yards per reception and has just one touchdown thus far in 2011. He’s benchable, folks, and I don’t care if the bye weeks are here.

Jacoby Ford, Raiders
Hello, little used little slot receiver. Preseason reports of Ford’s ascension to top dog status amongst the Raiders wide receivers were great exaggerated (mea culpa). I no longer believe and neither should you.

Tight Ends

Moving Up

Owen Daniels, Texans
Meet the fantasy beneficiary of Andre Johnson’s absence. Daniels finally looks like he’s back to being the player he was before suffering a serious knee injury at the midway point of the 2009 season. With Johnson out, Daniels had 11 targets this week, catching seven for 89 yards. Since a poor Week 1 outing, Daniels has caught 20 passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns and appears ready to reclaim his role as a top five fantasy tight end.

Jake Ballard, Giants
The bye weeks are here and there have been some disappointing tight ends and a couple that are banged up. Hello, Jake Ballard. If you’re desperate, Ballard has scored in each of his last two games (six receptions for 105 yards on seven targets) and has a solid looking schedule on the horizon with Bills 25th ranked defense up followed by a Week 7 bye, the Dolphins (27th), Patriots (31st) and 49ers (22nd). The lack of targets doesn’t give you the warm fuzzies but the touchdowns just might keep coming.

Moving Down

Dustin Keller, Jets
Last year, it lasted four weeks. This year, it last three. Two in 2012? After a solid first three weeks to open the season (16 receptions for 249 yards and a pair of touchdowns), eerily reminiscent of his first four weeks in 2010 (19 receptions for 254 yards and five touchdowns), Keller has gone stone cold with just three receptions for 19 yards over his past two games. Looks like Keller is well on his way to finishing 2011 like he finished 2010, when he caught 36 passes for 433 yards and no touchdowns over his final 12 games.

Dallas Clark, Colts
It seems like it happens to one stud tight end every year and this year, it is Clark’s turn. The O-line turns turnstile and the tight end has to block. Welcome to Clark’s world. He’s averaging just 5.6 targets per game after averaging 8.4 during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. And with the Colts offense struggling for much of 2011, it’s not like Clark has made up for the lack of looks by finding the end zone more often (one touchdown this season). He’s officially benchable.

Tuesday Morning Buzz – Week 5

By: — @ 3:11 pm
Filed under: Player Analysis

Welcome to Week 5 of Tuesday Morning Buzz! I enjoyed the slate of games this week, even though Eric Decker, Steve Johnson, and Darren McFadden brought me a loss in my most important league. It was a week where many teams played as they were expected to, and many others showed their true colors (including Silver!)

Vick is a nightmare for fantasy opponents.

Michael Vick cannot help but score fantasy points. His underperformances are better than most QBs‘ good weeks. In contrast, Vick’s rushing numbers alone nearly eclipsed Ryan Fitzpatrick’s entire day. Or, if you like, consider it this way: Vick’s rushing yards counterbalanced four interceptions. He can throw multiple picks and still get his complete passing stats. If you aren’t completely tired of the analogy, at least this Dream Team member continues to present nightmares for fantasy opponents.

For the Bills, there isn’t much to say. They beat an Eagles team that has lost nearly every matchup they have played this year. Buffalo didn’t come from behind, which is promising, but they did lose their deep threat in Donald Jones. Seems to me they traded a receiver with good deep-threat ability this offseason… Maybe he was too high-profile for this team.

How about them KC Chiefs? They showed a little gusto and got into a bad-team shootout with the Colts in Indy. Somehow, despite both teams missing by far their best offensive stars, this matchup was far more entertaining than last year’s snoozefest. If you don’t recall—and who could blame you—these two teams kicked field goals for three quarters last year until, finally, the illustrious Mike Hart scored the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. This year you saw Matt Cassel and Curtis Painter looking like Joe Montana and Johnny U. I’m kidding, but thanks to the help of Dwayne Bowe and Pierre Garcon, there was at least one game where both offenses had some steam. Let’s see if either team can carry that momentum into next week and create a week-in, week-out fantasy starter somewhere.

P.S. Start Pierre Garcon until he proves you wrong.

If someone had asked me to predict this game in the offseason, this is how I would’ve predicted it. Peterson had a great game, both QBs were middling, the Vikings defense kept the Cardinals down well enough, and Percy Harvin did nothing. My perceptions of these two teams have been off this year, but this week they were dead on. Of the combined 106 men on these two rosters, there is only one player that you should be starting next week: Adrian Peterson. If the Cardinals weren’t on bye, you’d have to start Fitzgerald; but since he’s out, you can start that bench player you’ve been tempted by all year.

I warn you: do not be swayed by this Seahawks team. Their win this week was a symptom of the New York Giants being unable to handle the pressure, not of fantastic play by the Seahawks. Lackadaisical defense can often make subpar offenses look shiny for one week. For some reason, the Giants get worse in proportion to how many points they’re favored by. Right now, in a very contrary fashion, I think the Giants are both sell-high and buy-low targets. If you can get good value for any of your Giants, I suggest selling them like Biggie T-shirts. However, if you see an owner panicking and offering players like Ahmad Bradshaw at a steal, then I say buy them up like Bank of America stock.

This is another game that played out how I would have expected in the offseason. Ben Roethlisberger lit up a defense that I thought was trending downward, and the Titans, including Chris Johnson, looked generally subpar. Johnson, like a great many other RBs this year, is someone I would never have drafted because he would’ve had to fall rounds below his ADP to be worth the risk to me. Maybe CJ2K returns to form after the bye, but I really don’t see it. At this point, I would feel better starting Darren Sproles or even Jahvid Best over Johnson. For the Steelers, watch for them to continue to play well at home and continue to look unimpressive and asleep on the road.

Jed Collins has two TDs in two games. Look for him to have three TDs max by year’s end. The Saints love putting up points with guys you’ve never heard of, but the only real stars on this team are Brees and Graham, with a nod to Colston if he can ever have another healthy season. I was worried about Cam Newton’s prospects as an NFL quarterback coming out of the draft, and once the hype came to a crescendo after a great opening game, I thought for certain there was about to be a crash. However, Newton has continued to perform and put up numbers unbecoming of his experience and his situation. And Steve Smith looks a decade younger out there.

The Raiders have looked better this year than they have in a long, long time. Their quarterback has been good enough, and that speed they’ve been drafting for years has finally paid off. If Darren McFadden had been able to really get it going on the ground, the Raiders would have done everything they wanted to against a Texans defense that’s gaining steam. For the Texans, their stock just keeps plummeting. For years, yours truly has been picked them to win that division, and I finally gave up this year and picked the Colts anyway. Now I have no faith in my ability to predict this division and will not be overly surprised if the Titans come out on top. The Texans, as well as fantasy owners, are praying every day that Andre Johnson gets back ASAP to keep this year from being lost to another 8-8 finish. Houston has a great team, but their playoff potential is slipping with each major injury.

The Color Silver
In a freakish turn of events, the Patriots had become the league’s most penalized team (in total penalties and penalty yards) through five weeks, with 40 penalties for 355 yards. The Raiders, with 11 total penalties on Sunday, in honor of their past glory, made a run at that top spot as they stalled multiple drives as the first half wound down. They even brought out the ever-popular holding penalty on back-to-back plays. But the Lions made a furious comeback on Monday Night to take first place; they were actually responsible for more Chicago first downs in the first quarter than the Bears offense was! The Lions now have 43 penalties for 315 yards.

On paper, the Jags looked better than the Bengals this weekend. Hill had better stats than Green, MJD had better stats than Cedric Benson, and Dalton had the two touchdowns, though Gabbert had better yards on fewer attempts. Really, it was the Bengals defense that made the difference, and it was their score on a fumble recovery that really iced the game. Green’s talent can’t be denied, and he certainly should be started, but you will not find him on any of my lineups per my fantasy philosophy of staying away from entire teams that I don’t feel good about. With all of the drama in Cincy, I just can’t get behind any skill players, despite how impressive their stats are. However, I would consider the Bengals DST a good fill-in for any bye weeks or bad matchups for your starters.

Well, I suppose all of those conspiracy theories that Harbaugh might throw the season to get Andrew Luck are finally put to rest. I have been hesitant to believe in San Francisco this year because of all of the hype that surrounded them last year. However, these 49ers appear to be buying into Harbaugh’s system and likely only need three or four more wins to clinch their division. If their momentum continues to grow, watch for 49ers players to quickly be snatched off of waiver wires worldwide.

If John Fox is smart, the Tim Tebow era has finally come. Tebow hasn’t proven he’s worthy of starter status, but his popularity has reached a fever pitch. The Broncos were losing when Orton was in, and they made an inspired comeback once Tebow took over. Look for Tebow to be a great Week 7 pickup as he heads to Miami where the Sunday pregame show will celebrate the ’09 Florida Gators championship. How about a maniacal fanbase cheering for your QB on the road against a team that can’t get it together at home? Yes, please. An inspired performance with that kind of crowd could win Tebow the job permanently.

For the Chargers, they have still started slow and have still been generally underwhelming through September, but unlike in previous years, they’ve managed to hang on and are 4-1. If they come on like they have in the past, this could be a devastating lead for the rest of the division to catch up to. Watch for Chargers players to be a major factor in the fortune of owners in the fantasy playoffs.

My wife’s suggestion for this section:

“Dear Jets and Patriots fans, I hated this game. It doesn’t have anything to do with your teams except for the fact that they were the ones in it.”

While mostly true, this is another game that went about as predictably as possible. The offensive line woes for the Jets are tearing apart their entire offense, and the offensive line strength of the Patriots is helping Brady tear apart defenses league wide. As much as Ryan may want the Jets to get back to “ground and pound,” they really could have stuck with the pass for one more week, as the Patriots’ pass defense is so miserable.

Honestly, I thought Aaron Rodgers would’ve defeated the Falcons twice at home by more points. I mean, with a team that talented, I thought he would throw for six touchdowns and run for two more. I can’t believe he allowed Michael Turner to run for that touchdown. Why didn’t he return a punt for a score? Certainly an athlete this fantastic should be able to play all three phases of the game.

$#^% Chris Collinsworth Says
“Right now the Packers offensive line needs to Skype somebody on the outside ‘cause they need help!”
Shortly after Chad Clifton went down, the Packers O-line looked miserable. They appeared confused, and the Falcons pass rushers were circling their prey in anticipation. However, the Packers settled down on their next possession and went on to fend off the Falcons without a hitch for the rest of the game.

Jay Cutler flashed what convinced the Bears to bring him in and what convinced the Broncos to draft him early. For at least one prime-time game, he looked downright heroic. He was throwing hyper-accurate darts all over the field and was a couple of dropped passes from being even more impressive. It is frustrating having to watch him constantly dodge the pass rush. The believer in me is screaming, “What if he had protection? He could be the next Steve Young!” but the cynic in me is saying, “Yeah right. Remember last week when he couldn’t complete a pass? The Broncos upgraded with Orton!”

The Lions looked mighty good on Monday Night as even Jahvid Best got involved on actual rushes instead of just catching passes. They did everything they wanted on offense and kept Cutler running all night on defense. The Lions earn a well deserved 5-0 start and just have to feel somewhat unlucky to be in the same division as the Packers, the only other undefeated team in the NFL.

On that note, I bid you adieu until next Tuesday, fantasy football fans. For next week, I’m looking forward to starting Ravens and Cowboys who have favorable matchups against the Texans and Patriots. Watch for Flacco, Boldin, Romo, and Dez Bryant to all have big games next Sunday.

Dave’s Take: Fantasy Football Tips, News & Notes – Week 5

By: — October 7, 2011 @ 1:27 pm
Filed under: Player Analysis

1. Big news coming out of Miami this week with word that quarterback Chad Henne will miss the rest of the season due to a shoulder injury suffered during the Dolphins loss to the Chargers. Henne’s injury likely spells doom both for his future as the team’s starting quarterback as well the future of head coach Tony Sparano. The Dolphins needed to contend for a playoff spot this season in order for Sparano to earn a contract extension but the chances of that happening with Miami sitting at 0-4 and Henne out for the season are remote at best. Sparano got the kiss of death this week when the team’s majority owner Steven Ross gave him a vote of confidence. As for Henne, he is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and has done little to suggest that the Dolphins will re-sign him, having compiled a 13-18 record as the team’s starting quarterback.

2. With Henne out of the picture, the Dolphins will turn to veteran journeyman Matt Moore to take his spot in the starting line up. The team also signed Sage Rosenfels this week to bolster the depth chart and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he takes over at some point. Moore started for the Panthers at the end of the 2009 season, compiling a 4-1 record with eight touchdowns and just a pair of interceptions. However, he bombed in the starting role in 2010, winning just one of six starts before suffering a season-ending injury.

3. Dolphin central this week. If you’re wondering what the impact of Miami replacing Henne with Moore for the team’s wide receivers, more specifically Brandon Marshall, here is what you need to know. Despite having Steve Smith at his disposal in Carolina, Moore has averaged just 6.7 yards per attempt, making him more of a checkdown artist than Henne. Moore clearly does not possess Henne’s arm strength so there is little reason to suggest that Marshall will be able to deliver the big plays that were missing from the Dolphins offense for most of the 2010 season. From a fantasy perspective, that makes running back Reggie Bush the player most likely to benefit with Moore in the starting line up.

4. The Rams placed wide receiver Danny Amendola on injured reserve this week. Amendola was the team’s top receiver in 2010, catching 85 passes for 689 yards and three touchdowns. The Rams attempted to upgrade their receivers this year, signing former Jaguar Mike Sims-Walker and using three draft picks on tight end Lance Kendricks (2nd round), Austin Pettis (3rd) and Greg Salas (4th). Unfortunately for the Rams and quarterback Sam Bradford, that hasn’t worked out as planned. That quartet has combined to catch just 30 of 68 targets for 329 yards and no touchdowns while dropping a several passes, including some in key situations. St. Louis has turned to Danario Alexander over the last three weeks (23 targets) while reducing the role of Brandon Gibson this past week (one target). However, the receiver who may ultimately provide a boost to the Rams passing attack is Mark Clayton. Clayton is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list after Week 6 and was Bradford’s main target during the early part of the 2010 season. Despite being acquired from the Ravens at the end of the preseason, Clayton caught 22 passes for 300 yards and a pair of touchdowns during his first four games before suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 5.

Rushing into the record books.

5. Thus far in 2011, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has not been able to replicate his 2010 production but he has a chance to reach a league milestone during this week’s road game against Buffalo. Vick needs just 71 yards to surpass Randall Cunningham to become the league’s all-time leading rusher amongst quarterbacks. Considering Vick is just 31 years old and does not appear to have lost any of the speed he entered the league with, the only obstacle to him making this record virtually untouchable is remaining injury free. If only he could start scoring some touchdowns for his fantasy owners (none so far in 2011 after scoring nine in just 12 games last season).

6. Last week, I told you that there was little chance of the Broncos handing over the leading running back role to Willis McGahee, mainly due to his age, lack of explosiveness and because it made sense for them to figure out what they had in former 1st round pick Knowshon Moreno. Denver head coach John Fox thought otherwise, stating this week that McGahee had earned the right to be the team’s starter after a pair of 100-yard rushing efforts over the last three weeks. I guess what I was missing was that McGahee was brought in by Fox and Moreno was acquired by the previous regime. That means I forgot the golden rule that all NFL head coaches prefer to provide the solution rather than have the solution be on the roster when they arrive. Nonetheless, McGahee is averaging a pedestrian 3.8 yards per carry and just 4.5 yards per reception so there is a decent chance Moreno ends up in the lead role soon enough.

7. The scuttlebutt surrounding the Redskins running back situation is that it’s best to avoid the teams’ three running backs altogether for fantasy purposes. Tim Hightower looked solid in the preseason, claiming the starting role on opening day from an injured Ryan Torain with rookie 4th round pick Roy Helu set as the team’s main backup. Sure enough, head coach Mike Shanahan seems to have changed that rotation with the emergence of Torain this week against the Rams (19 carries, 135 yards and a touchdown). All you had to do was watch that game to realize the talent differential between Torain and Hightower. The competition for the lead back role isn’t between Torain and Hightower (as most pundits have it), it’s between Torain and Helu. While Torain clearly is the more powerful of the two runners, Helu has the breakaway speed and upside that Shanahan craves in his running backs. Look for Torain to be given every chance to keep the job but history says that either injury or performance will provide Helu with an opportunity to start, probably sooner rather than later.

8. On initial glance, the news that Bengals running back Cedric Benson was facing a three game suspension for his off the field indiscretions couldn’t have come at a worse time for his fantasy owners with the bye weeks beginning this week. However, it appears that Benson’s appeal of his suspension could take a few, if not several, weeks to be resolved as his legal team is challenging the league’s right to suspend players for their off the field actions when they were locked out. Benson owners should hold off on hitting the panic button until this situation is resolved.

9. And on a somewhat football related note, I’m going to miss Hank Williams Jr. doing the introduction to Monday Night Football. It used to send shivers up my spine when I was younger, as it heightened the anticipation of what was generally a key game, often between division rivals. Not that I’m condoning his actions.

Moving Up, Moving Down – Week 5

By: — October 4, 2011 @ 2:48 pm


Moving Up

Cam Newton, Panthers
Let’s do the projections. Passing yards: 5,544. Passing touchdowns: 20. Rushing touchdowns: 16. Fantasy points: 507. And it’s not like Newton’s been putting up these numbers against bad defenses. By season’s end, Chicago and Green Bay figure to be in the top ten in total defense, Arizona should be middle of the pack and the Jaguars will likely be near the bottom. In fact, if you toss out the Jacksonville game where the weather was horrendous, Newton is averaging 37.3 points per game. I’m rolling with him as my number one unless I own Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Michael Vick or Drew Brees.

Moving Down

Schaub becomes is a big question mark with AJ out of the lineup.

Matt Schaub, Texans
Schaub hasn’t been the same fantasy producer since Arian Foster burst onto the scene in 2010 and with Foster back in the line up for this week’s game against the Steelers, he had his worst fantasy performance since Week 5 of last season with just 11.0 fantasy points on 138 yards passing and one touchdown. Even worse than that, it appears that wide receiver Andre Johnson will miss time with an injured hamstring. Jacoby Jones would take Johnson’s spot in the starting line up but he has been a disappointment. If AJ is out, the Texans will turn to Foster even more than they did against the Steelers (30 carries), rendering Schaub even more of a question mark than he has been since the end of the 2009 season.

Sam Bradford, Rams
A quarter of the way into the 2011 season and it’s time to shelve the notion that new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is going to turn the Rams passing attack into one of the league’s best and make Bradford a solid fantasy starter. Where to begin… the Rams lead the league in dropped passes, the offensive line has given up a league worst 19 sacks and McDaniels continues to feed wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker and tight end Lance Kendricks who have combined to catch 39.6% of their passes (19 of 48).

Running Backs

Moving Up

Arian Foster, Texans
He’s back. And with a bang. Not only did Foster return with a vengeance, gaining 155 yards and touchdown on 30 carries against the Steelers in his first full game of the season, the Texans coaching staff kept backup Ben Tate nailed to the bench, which may or may not have been the result of a groin injury. Tate had just two carries despite the team’s heavy reliance on the run and maybe, just maybe the assumption that Tate had earned himself a solid chunk of playing time was fallacious.

Stevan Ridley, Patriots
Ridley has now outperformed starter BenJarvis Green-Ellis for two straight games, gaining 97 yards and a touchdown this week on 10 carries after putting up 44 yards on seven carries in Week 3. The Law Firm also performed decently in the Patriots 31-19 win over the Raiders with 75 yards and a score on his 16 carries but it appears that this will be a timeshare situation moving forward. The only caveat here is that BJGE is unlikely to make a mistake that causes him to lose playing time while the rookie Ridley is far more likely to lose a fumble or a blow a pass protection that lands him a spot in Bill Belichick’s doghouse and on the bench.

Ryan Torain, Redskins
I’ve been preaching that Tim Hightower is a dud for weeks (read it here and down at the bottom here). Okay, maybe I was banking a little more on rookie 4th round pick Roy Helu than Torain. This week, head coach Mike Shanahan had Hightower on a short leash after his lackluster performance against the Cowboys that caused Helu to see time in the fourth quarter for the second week in a row. Sure enough, Hightower disappointed with just 24 yards on eight carries, opening the door for Torain who ran roughshod over the Rams, gaining 135 yards and a touchdown on his 19 runs. That’s a nifty 7.1 yards per carry and it’s worth noting that he averaged 4.5 last year while Hightower is at 3.5 in 2011. The best part is that Torain’s almost assuredly available on your league’s waiver wire. Giddy up.

Matt Forte, Bears
With Forte, it’s by ground or by air. He’s the FedEx of Fantasy Football, getting the job done one way or the other each week. His receiving production carried the day for the first three weeks of the season (22 receptions for 287 yards and a score) and this week, the mail got delivered on the ground to the tune of 205 yards and a touchdown against the Panthers. He’s hit double-digit fantasy points in three of the Bears first four games and is averaging 18.9 points per game. Can you say RB1? This isn’t a Sell High. It’s the type of good, solid production that nets you a championship.

Isaac Redman, Steelers
Rashard Mendenhall suffered a hamstring injury that caused him to miss most of the second half of the Steelers loss this week to the Texans. Redman and Mewelde Moore split the workload with Redman finishing with six carries for 40 yards and he even chipped in a reception for 12 yards. Of the two, Redman is the running back to own if Mendenhall were to miss any time given that he would get the goal line work. The Steelers are a mess and so is their offensive line but Redman would likely be worth a look in your lineup if he ends up starting.

Moving Down

Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
Mea culpa. I was wrong or at least it seems that way. Either Moreno re-injured his hamstring this week or the Broncos new coaching staff isn’t interested in finding out whether he can be the team’s lead running back. Back in the lineup this week after a two game absence, Moreno carried the ball just twice while Willis McGahee had 15 carries for 103 yards in a blowout loss to the Packers. McGahee’s performance doesn’t count for much considering the Packers were up by 11 by the end of the first quarter and never looked back. But Moreno’s lack of use does because he is definitely the better receiver of the two but had just one target despite the Broncos needing to pass for much of the game.

Peyton Hillis, Browns
I’m not a doctor so I can’t say with certainty that strep throat could cause you to miss a start and then need to split time the following week. However, since I doubt that’s the case, the only reason to explain Hillis getting 15 touches and Montario Hardesty getting 12 is that the Browns running back rotation has quickly turned into a timeshare. Hardesty has looked decent given his increased playing time over the past two weeks, gaining 157 yards on 21 touches. The next week or two will tell us whether Hillis has a chance to reclaim his 2010 fantasy glory this season but the odds seem set against him (and his owners).

Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster, Chiefs
I told you the answer to losing Jamaal Charles wasn’t either of his handcuffs but I can’t say I thought Jones and McCluster would be this bad. They have COMBINED (yes, combined) for 17 fantasy points over the past two weeks against the Chargers and Vikings. That’s ten points for McCluster and seven for Jones. If you were planning on riding one of these guys, it’s time to move on.

Wide Receivers

Moving Up

Julio Jones, Falcons
The Falcons 1st round pick has been dynamite thus far in his rookie season, with 24 receptions for 342 yards. Impressive indeed but when you scroll down FFToday’s season statistics at wide receiver, he’s currently the 28th ranked fantasy wideout. Not impressive as we’d expect and it’s all to do with touchdowns. See, Julio has looked great but he hasn’t found the end zone just yet. If his owner sees him as just a WR3, then it’s high time to hand over a decent trade offer. Jones has topped 100 yards in each of his last two games and got heavy use this week against the Seahawks with 17 targets, catching 11 passes for 127 yards. He’s a solid WR2 for the balance of the season.

Pierre Garcon, Colts
Monday Night Football. Two long touchdowns and 146 yards receiving, both career highs. You know all of your fellow owners saw it. He’s Moving Up but he’s also Sell high, folks.

Michael Crabtree, 49ers
Grabbing five of nine targets for 68 yards and failing to find the end zone generally isn’t going to get you Moving Up. But it does for Crabtree. Stick with me here. He was left for dead, fantasy persona non grata. Five for 68 against a solid Eagles secondary is pretty decent production. He’s apparently back to full health. And maybe, just maybe the 49ers offense has something to build on after a solid, come from behind win over Philadelphia.

Laurent Robinson, Cowboys
If you’ve seen Robinson in a few games, you know that he’s a talented wide receiver. Lack of talent isn’t the issue, staying healthy is. And when you don’t contribute on special teams, you need to be in the starting lineup and teams generally like their starters to be reliable (aka healthy). With Miles Austin out of the lineup with a quad injury, Robinson had a solid outing, catching seven of ten targets for 116 yards. The Cowboys have a Week 5 bye and Austin is expected to be back in the line up for Week 6 but Robinson is worth taking a shot on in deeper leagues since it seems like Austin and Dez Bryant are taking turns on the inactive list.

Jacoby Jones, Texans
Well, Andre Johnson owners can rest assured that Jones has no chance of replacing AJ’s production so better to find another option. That being said, if you’re in a deep league and need to find something, Jones is worth a shot. There you have it – a tepid a Moving Up as you’ll ever find. Yes, it was a slow week for Moving Up at the wide receiver position.

Moving Down

Mario Manningham, Giants
Manningham was one of this season’s fantasy darlings at wide receiver, expected to post a breakout season after a pair of solid seasons as the Giants third option behind Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith. With Smith out of the picture having signed with the Eagles and no proven slot receiver or tight end on the roster, Manningham figured to be in line for plenty of targets. However, his stock is sliding after concussion suffered in Week 2, a subpar performance to start the season from quarterback Eli Manning and a trip to the bench this week against the Cardinals after he apparently ran some wrong patterns. That gets Manningham Moving Down but also makes him a great Buy Low opportunity since Cruz is nothing more than a slot receiver and the Giants have no one behind Manningham capable of starting outside.

Devery Henderson, Saints
Let’s see. With a full slate of cast and characters at wide receiver and tight end for the first time this season and diminutive running back Darren Sproles earning plenty of touches, Henderson had one target and no receptions. Hopefully Henderson’s owners enjoyed the nice three week run he had because, barring injury, it’s not going to repeat itself.

Plaxico Burress, Jets
You generally need to get open to get the ball and it doesn’t seem like Plaxico can do that on a regular basis anymore. The Jets have opened the season against four teams with that either have suspect secondaries or injury issues in the secondary and he hasn’t been able to do much with just ten receptions on 25 yards. Sure, he’s scored two touchdowns but it’s a roll of the dice to be relying on touchdowns for fantasy production.

Tight Ends

Moving Up

Jimmy Graham, Saints
Just like Henderson is Moving Down because his looks decreased with everybody available, Graham is Moving Up because he was quarterback Drew Brees’ main weapon this week against the Jaguars with career highs in targets, receptions and yards. Graham caught ten of his 14 targets for 132 yards and a TD and the performance helped make him the 2nd ranked tight end for the season behind only Rob Gronkowski of the Patriots. Don’t expect that to change with Graham having a shot to be the top ranked tight end by season’s end with Antonio Gates injury situation ensuring he will not earn that title.

Tony Gonzalez, Falcons
Here’s a begrudging Moving Up to Gonzalez who, on first glance, appears to be having a bit of a renaissance season in Atlanta. The 35 year-old has four touchdowns in his last three games and 21 receptions for 229 yards on the season, this after a lackluster 2010 sin which he posted a career low 9.4 yards per reception and topped 50 receiving yards just four times. He is clearly benefitting from the extra attention afforded wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, not to mention the Falcons inability to run the ball. I’m not sold on him keeping it up so this is definitely a Sell High opportunity.

Brandon Pettigrew, Lions
After two games, it sure looked like the pundits who had predicted that strong armed quarterback Matthew Stafford would lighten Pettigrew’s load in favor of chucking it downfield to Calvin Johnson et al were right on the mark. The 2009 1st round pick had just nine targets over the first two weeks but his role changed dramatically starting in a Week 3 win over the Vikings. With running back Jahvid Best struggling, Pettigrew essentially became the Lions short yardage option and that role continued this week against the Cowboys. He has chalked up 22 targets over the past two weeks, catching 17 passes for 176 yards, and there’s little reason to expect that to change. If only he could find the end zone (no touchdowns in 2011).

Moving Down

Fred Davis, Redskins
Davis looked like a world-beater over the first two games of the season, catching 11 of 13 targets for 191 yards and a score. And then head coach Mike Shanahan inexplicably forgot about him against a Cowboys squad with a pair of coverage challenged safeties and again this week against a Rams squad whose secondary allowed three touchdowns passes to Ravens rookie 2nd round pick Torrey Smith. I guess Shanny is extending his fantasy curse from running backs to also include tight ends.

Brent Celek, Eagles
Second year player Clay Harbor caught three passes for 55 yards and a touchdown this week, nearly eclipsing Celek’s production for the year. If there was a flicker of hope for Celek reclaiming his fantasy status from the 2009 season when he finished as the fourth ranked fantasy tight end (and it’s debatable whether there was a flicker), those hopes should now be extinguished. To the scrap heap, even in the deepest of leagues.

Tuesday Morning Buzz – Week 4

By: — @ 10:57 am
Filed under: Player Analysis

Welcome to Tuesday Morning Buzz! Most fans should be pretty happy this week. Win or Loss, most teams had a pretty good showing and proved to be either contenders for the playoffs or thorns in the sides of contenders for the playoffs. Let’s get right into it:

Panthers – Bears
How about that Cam Newton? He did everything he could to upset the status quo here. He is burning down the opinions of those, like yours truly, who said that rookie quarterbacks shouldn’t be trusted and that that Newton hadn’t proven enough to warrant the first-round pick. He threw deep on a Bears secondary that makes its money on keeping the play in front of them. And he’s certainly statistically the most impressive rookie quarterback. In fact, I’d wager that if you count tangibles and intangibles he’s probably looking the best a rookie has ever looked, especially at a 1-3 record. There’s still plenty of time for this thing to come crashing down around their ankles, but right now my guess is that Panthers fans would rather be 1-3 with Cam than 4-0 with Clausen.

For the Bears, I don’t have much to say here. The special teams unit had a punt return, a kick return, and a blocked punt and still managed to come out with fewer points than they began the day with. The Chicago defense, special teams, and receivers, along with Jay Cutler, are who we thought they were. Forte is proving his worth and making owners who were brave enough to draft a running back on the Martz-led Bears feel good about their third-round pick.

Bills – Bengals
The league’s top comeback-win team fell to the hapless Bengals this weekend. I am a big fan of what the Bills have been able to accomplish this year. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Stevie Johnson are both starters on a great many of my fantasy teams this season. At halftime the score was 17-3, Fitzpatrick and Johnson had their typical first-half points, and I was ecstatic. These Bills just keep scoring like mad in the second half, and I was certain the minimal first-half offense was going to translate into huge gains in the late quarters. Unfortunately, it was all Bengals in the second half as the Bills were one field goal away from their final score. I still trust no Bengal, and I still love those Bills, but this is one the Buffalo fans and fantasy owners are going to need to forget quickly—the Bills come home to an angry Philadelphia Eagles team next week.

Titans – Browns
If the question “What do you think of the Dolphins and the Titans?” were posed to me at the beginning of the year, my answer would have been a single word: “Terrible.” Now, while the Dolphins have been doing their darnedest to prove me hypothetically correct, the Tennessee Titans are looking good. This is perfect for them because I could feel the anxiety coming from Houston that there just might be no teams to give the division to this year. Matt Hasselbeck has given just as much life to this franchise as this franchise has given to his career. He was dropped for the lowly Tarvaris Jackson in Seattle and now has the Titans on a three-game winning streak without their main playmakers (Kenny Britt is out; Chris Johnson might as well be.) I’m trading CJ2K this week for anything I can get and, beginning Week 7, after a matchup in Pittsburgh and the bye, I’m starting Hasselbeck for the rest of the year unless I find myself with one of the elite few at the top.

Lions – Cowboys
Oh my, was there a lot of silver in this game! In the first half, Dallas was rolling and Detroit couldn’t do a thing. Tony Romo and the Cowboys were looking like world beaters, and if you slowed the frame rate down you could see a halo just beginning to form around Romo’s helmeted countenance. Unfortunately for Dallas, after halftime you have to come back onto the field. It was as if the Cowboys said, “Wait a minute. Do you see the silver on our uniforms? We can’t be doing this well against a nationally acclaimed team!”

The Lions roared back in the second half, and I like to think it was just to prove me right. Last week, much to the chagrin of Lions fans, I warned that Detroit was looking like a “come-from-behind team” and cautioned that the true greats can build a lead and keep it. At that point, the Lions had won one game from behind and had soundly defeated only the awful Kansas City Chiefs and a young Buccaneers team that is still discovering who they are. Now, I wonder, how Lions fans feel as 50% of their total wins and 66% of their road wins are come-from-behind victories. I don’t mean to trash the team; they have great talent. I am just not sure that they yet know how to win. They are 4-0 and looking very impressive, but they are closer to being 2-2 or even 1-3 than most fans would probably like.

AJ may be out for "some time."

Steelers – Texans
The Texans, like the Lions, have great talent and a great record this year but, like the Lions, they make me extremely nervous. I have lost many a dollar the past few years picking Houston to win the AFC South. This year, however, they look poised to finally take that step and showed it in a solid victory over the Steelers. To contrast the big win over what may have been their most daunting opponent coming into the year, the Texans lost Andre Johnson for “some time.” In the same game that they regained Arian Foster from a nagging hamstring, they lost AJ to the same injury. Expect at least three to four weeks before Johnson is back to form. Because of that, Schaub is one of those QBs I would be sitting for Matt Hasselbeck—possibly for the rest of the year.

Saints – Jaguars
There really wasn’t much to see here. Blaine Gabbert looked like a fine rookie quarterback through the first half but went on a dreadful Jay Cutleresque 0-for-10 streak during the second. The Saints were the Saints, and the oft-injured Marques Colston came in only to block, though he did catch one check-down late in the game. Along with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Stevie Johnson, I’ve been soaking up the greatness of the young Jimmy Graham, who I drafted in the 12th round while some owners were drafting the Pittsburgh DST.

Vikings – Chiefs
I was sure that, against Kansas City, Minnesota would break my favorite hyper-specific stat of Week 3, when the Vikings were tagged “the first team to lose the first three games of the season after leading by double digits at halftime in each consecutive game.” Well, they broke that streak, but not quite in the way I expected.

Not only did they not build a double-digit lead, they barely scored double-digits against a Chiefs defense that had allowed 36.3 points per game coming in. For Chiefs fans, if you can forgive the first two weeks of the season, you have two close games and a 1-1 record, which shouldn’t be too far away from preseason rankings. However, I am thankful I am not in a league where I have to decide if I want to put my week in the hands of Dwayne Bowe. I’ve said it before, “Dwayne Bowe: Great for fantasy team names, terrible for fantasy teams.”

49ers – Eagles
Ah, the Eagles locker room must be in a worse mood than the city of Philadelphia is these days. When I watch the Eagles play with Vick under center, they seem to be doing well. Vick has a 61.2% completion percentage and is on pace for 4,000 yards passing, LeSean McCoy has been running with purpose, and the defense hasn’t allowed that many points. And yet, Vick has pedestrian fantasy numbers in two of his four games and has been sacked just as many times as he’s thrown a touchdown (6). On the other side of the ball, the Jim Harbaugh-led 49ers are very quietly 3-1 in an eight-win division. If the 49ers are playing for the division late in the season, look for some of these guys to be heroes of the fantasy playoffs.

P.S. Can we quit with the “nightmare” and “dream team” analogies? I bet Vince Young wants to punch Dan Patrick in the face. Or at least throw some batteries at him.

Redskins – Rams
In competition for one of the most boring football games of the season, the Redskins and the Rams slugged it out for four quarters, and Washington wound up with 17 points on the back of their running game. Now, despite having infinitely more touchdowns this game than Dallas had last week, this score still would not have defeated the Cowboys’ all-field-goal score of Week 3. This Rams defense has looked mediocre over four games but had allowed 32 points per game coming into Sunday. If you can’t go on the road and outscore Dan Bailey’s leg and a team allowing that many points per game, there is no way you can compete in your division. I know what the Redskins’ record looks like now, but if they can finish this season at .500 I will frankly be shocked. As for the Rams? Maybe next year, guys. Sam Bradford is a fantastic quarterback, but this team has a lot of holes to fill, especially on offense, before they become fantasy-relevant.

Giants – Cardinals
The much maligned Beanie Wells and Eli Manning both continued to cement their comebacks in this game. Wells, on what is considered a pass-first offense, ran for 138 yards and 3 TDs versus a normally tough and hardnosed Giants defense. Granted, Wells won’t get 27 carries each week, but he also won’t be playing the New York Giants each week, so I consider that a wash in the terrible NFC West. For Eli, the NFC East is also looking particularly vulnerable, and he’s quickly turning around a poor preseason and an awful start to the regular season. Eli has always started slow but gotten better by October (he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers after all…) and it seems as though that tradition will continue. Eli Manning, Matt Hasselbeck, and Ryan Fitzpatrick are a fantastic class of QBs no one likes. I’m counting on these gentlemen to continue to impress and put at least two of their teams in the playoffs this year.

Broncos – Packers
For as far out of this game as they were, the Broncos never really acted as if they were out of it until well into the fourth quarter. Lloyd looked good, Decker scored a ton of points from fantasy owners’ benches (mine included) all around the league, Orton continued to do just well enough to keep himself in the starter’s seat, and the D played better than the score shows. For the Packers, all was normal in fantasy land: Rodgers can’t be benched, any Green Bay WR is worth a shot, and no Green Bay RB is worth a shot. I like Grant and Starks, but neither of them are going to do well enough this season to ever justify starting them in standard leagues. I would take Randall Cobb in my flex position before either RB in any matchup this year.

This game contained the hyper-specific stat of the week, “Aaron Rodgers is the first Packers quarterback to pass for 400-plus yards and four TDs since Brett Favre.” Aaron Rodgers is a great quarterback, but in our incessant lovefest, we’re now looking for new ways to attribute greatness to him. Any quarterback doing anything is the “first” to do it since the previous quarterback. Credit this fantastic analysis to CBS.

Patkowskis – Raiders
Another third-round RB like Matt Forte, Darren McFadden, continued to shine in this game, though he did look somewhat human, emerging with 123 yards but no touchdowns. My money is on McFadden as this year’s leading rusher by season’s end. As for the Pats, they continue to let Tom Brady throw the ball, although he’s now on pace for a paltry 6,212-yard season. Breaking Marino’s all-time record by a mere 1,200 yards almost seems disappointing after all the swooning over Brady’s passing numbers this year.

Dolphins – Chargers
In a game where both offenses looked stale (1 rushing TD, 1 receiving TD for San Diego; 1 rushing TD for Miami), I’m not sure there is really much to glean from this game as far as fantasy goes. Philip Rivers still connected on the patented deep bomb to V-Jax for a touchdown, and Mike Tolbert still got in the end zone from the goal line. Ryan Mathews still had more carries, more yards, and a better yards-per-carry average.

For Miami, the injury to Chad Henne means no chance for a win as long as he is out. I know the fans in Miami don’t like him, but he’s a good quarterback who has shown flashes of greatness this year. As for the running game, Lex Hilliard inexplicably had a better day than Daniel Thomas (out), Reggie Bush (13 carries but only 50 yards), and Steve Slaton. Heck, Slaton had the same amount of carries as “backup” quarterback Chad Henne, but, hey, at least Slaton was able to double Henne’s rushing output by gaining two yards. It’s not all bad for Miami, though. In fact, you could say that Chad Henne is the first quarterback to rush for at least one yard since Chad Pennington!

Jets – Ravens
From a technical standpoint, this was one of the most interesting games of the weekend. Both QBs had abysmal outings (they combined for 282 yards, 0 TDs, and 2 INTs), and Sanchez alone fumbled four times and lost three. Every facet of both offenses stalled, Shonn Greene went 10 for 23, and Ray Rice went 25 for 66, though he did score a touchdown. This was all about the defenses and their record-setting five returns for scores. While the offense had an off night, that Ravens D is looming mighty large for the AFC North. Could this be their year? For the Jets, this is common of the Rex Ryan era. They’re flying low right now, but watch for them to be just good enough to get into the playoffs as a wild card and be a pain in everyone’s side.

It doesn’t get much easier for the Jets next week as they go to Foxborough to battle the much-hated Patkowskis. It has become an extremely rare occurrence for the home team to lose in Gillette Stadium, and I don’t see the upset after this loss. My bets are on the Jets looking uninspired in New England, despite how important this game really is, and I’m likely sitting any of the Jets I own.

$#^! Chris Collinsworth Says
On the defensive takeaway driven scoring of the game:

“If these teams played with no offense they’d have a better chance of winning!”

Chris Collinsworth, in the way only he can, called out these offenses for being woefully inept on Sunday night. In a very Mike Singletary “I’d rather play with ten players and get penalized all the way down the field” type of comment, Chris illustrated what we all saw and what we should have expected from a Ravens-Jets game.

Colts – Buccaneers
For the first time in eight years, MNF kicked off in Tampa. At first, the Bucs seemed to struggle and the Colts offense was somehow moving well. However, during the second quarter, the Bucs began to shake the sleep off and started to fire back. But by the end of the third quarter, Pierre Garcon had caught two long-bomb touchdowns and the Buccaneers were back in dreamland, despite tying the score. These Colts have been underestimated so thoroughly that teams just can’t believe they’re in trouble against them. The Buccaneers talent eventually won out against the attrition of the Colts, but this is not the Indianapolis Colts of Week 1. If Painter starts and the matchup is right, I would consider him as a bye-week fill in.

The Colts on the other hand are banding together and playing total team football (did you see that epic Reggie Wayne block?). I can’t imagine a scenario where Curtis Painter is not the starter next week, despite Kerry Collins’ health. If the Colts want to win some games this season, though, they’re going to have to get out of those classic, simple defensive looks. The only thing more antiquated in Raymond James Stadium Monday Night was Peyton Manning’s rotary telephone upstairs. Come on Tampa, I know they’re the away team, but you couldn’t even spring for a touch tone?

Next week starts the byes weeks, and with the bye weeks come the one-week, waiver-wire superstars. Who will you pick up when Aaron Rodgers takes a week off? Maybe Curtis Painter? We’ll talk about it next week on Tuesday Morning Buzz.

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