Philip Rivers, Chargers
Rivers struggles in 2011 have been well documented so let’s not spend time rehashing that. However, as I noted in my Dave’s Take column on Friday, the Chargers have been a great second half team with Rivers at the helm and sure enough he and wide receiver Vincent Jackson were in fine form this week against the Packers in a high scoring affair (NFL and fantasy football style). Rivers threw for season highs in yards (385) and touchdowns (four), on his way to his best fantasy performance of the season (35.2 points). Up next are the Raiders (25th ranked pass defense), Bears (27th) and Broncos (19th).
Colt McCoy, Browns
Over the first five games of the season, McCoy looked comfortable leading the Browns attack with a touchdown pass in every game and three games with two touchdown passes while averaging 19.4 fantasy points per game. At that point, he certainly appeared on the verge of cementing his status as Cleveland’s starting quarterback for years to come. Since then, the wheels have come off. Over his last three games, McCoy has passed for 565 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions, averaging 14.3 points per game. The recent stretch has caused him to plummet to the 26th overall fantasy ranking at quarterback, making him officially worthy of being dropped.
Curtis Painter, Colts
Hmmm. Do you think defenses have figured Painter out? The Colts third year signal caller raised hopes with a pair of decent starts against the Bucs and Chiefs where he averaged 279 passing yards and two passing touchdowns per game. Since then, it’s been mostly downhill sledding. Over his last four games, Painter has two sub-100 yard passing performances, just one touchdown pass, five picks and is averaging 151 yards per game. Yuck.
Roy Helu, Redskins
Let’s face it – if you didn’t think Helu was going to get a chance in the Redskins backfield, then you’re likely in elementary school. The only issue is that his owners were salivating at the prospect early in the season with the Redskins offense rolling and now they might just be the league’s worst due to their numerous injuries. Let’s just say I’m a lot less excited by Helu’s presence in the starting line up than I thought I would be (yes, I own him). Let’s assume Helu starts for the rest of the season (a big if). What’s the over/under on how many touchdowns he scores? Two? Three? Yeah, he’s worth grabbing (especially in dynasty leagues) but keep your expectations in check. With Helu grabbing 14 passes this week and the Redskins figuring to be playing from behind plenty over the second half of the season, I like him a lot more in PPR leagues.
Reggie Bush, Dolphins
With Daniel Thomas back in the lineup, the odds seemed pretty strong that Bush would once again be relegated to more of a backup role this week against the Chiefs despite his strong Week 8 performance against the Giants where he had 15 carries for 103 yards and added another 17 yards on four receptions. However, even though the Dolphins staked out a big early lead, a situation that would seem to call for the bigger back get more work, Bush stayed in the game, producing 92 yards and a score on 13 carries and adding three receptions for 50 yards. It’s anybody’s guess as to who will get the playing time in any given week in the Dolphins backfield but it would seem hard for the team’s coaches to ignore Bush’s solid performance over the past two weeks.
Frank Gore, 49ers
Five straight 100-yard rushing performances. Touchdowns in four of his last five games. Plays for a team that’s winning by pounding the ball on the ground. Suffered an ankle sprain this week. Three out of four ain’t bad.
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
As my momma taught me, give credit where credit is due. And so I begrudgingly have Lynch Moving Up this week. Do I own him? No. Do I like him much? No. Has he scored touchdowns in four straight games? Yes. Does he have double-digit fantasy points in three of his last four games? Yes. After this week’s game against the Ravens, do the Seahawks face another run defense ranked better than 10th? No. Lynch is Moving Up, I just puked in my mouth and I hope you’re all happy.
Beanie Wells, Cardinals
Can you say enigma? If there’s a word to describe Wells, this is it. Minor injury, out. Stud against great defenses. Ridiculously bad against bad defenses. Despite not being expected to play last week against the Ravens due to a knee injury, Wells was a go and ran the ball 22 times for 83 yards and a score against the league’s third rated run defense. With the Rams on tap in a tantalizing matchup, Wells went flat, gaining 20 yards on ten carries. Maybe even worse is that he suffered a neck stinger in the fourth quarter. If he won’t play with a hang nail, he’s certainly not going to play after suffering a neck stinger.
Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
So bad that the Broncos would rather start a pedestrian 30-year-old with a broken hand rather than him. If anybody in Denver knows a good realtor, Knowshon could use your help.
Joseph Addai, Colts
In Week 8, Addai dressed but didn’t play. In Week 9, Addai dressed but didn’t play. My wife tells me I can be a little slow on the up take at times but I do sense a trend here.
Delone Carter, Colts
Carter did play in Week 9, it’s just that he fumbled on the Colts first series and was benched for his efforts. Donald Brown stepped in and looked decent. Carter may get the start next week, or he may not. At this point, it’s anybody’s guess as to whether it’s going to be Carter, Brown or Addai in the starting line-up.
Earl Bennett, Bears
Roy Williams has been horrible (witness his horrendous drop on a deep ball on Monday night against the Eagles). Devin Hester suffered an ankle injury this week and has been almost as bad as Williams. And it seems like the Bears coaching staff is doing everything in their power to keep Johnny Knox from getting consistent playing time. Enter Bennett. In his first game after suffering a chest injury in Week 2, Bennett carved up the Eagles, catching all five of his targets for 95 yards and a touchdown. All that plus the knowledge that quarterback Jay Cutler loves throwing to his former college teammate.
Laurent Robinson, Cowboys
Moving Up last week and Moving Up once again this week courtesy of Miles Austin’s injured hamstring, an injury that may keep him out for weeks. Despite being released by the Chargers in the preseason and then signed, released and re-signed by the Cowboys and not playing until Week 3, Robinson is the 44th ranked fantasy wide receiver and sits at 28th in average points per game. This week, he caught all five of his targets for 32 yards and a score.
Vincent Jackson, Chargers
Vjax owners were having their patience tested this season with the Chargers top wide receiver posting just a pair of double-digit fantasy performances over his first seven games. There were a few ugly stat lines in there (think two for 31, three for 34, one for 15) but his owners were rewarded this week with a seven reception, 141-yard, three touchdown performance against the Packers. With defenses often double teaming tight end Antonio Gates, Jackson just might be ready to explode in the second half of the season.
Josh Cribbs, Browns
Yeah, I know, it’s hard to trust Cribbs but the numbers don’t lie. He’s had at least three targets in every game, is averaging 4.9 targets per game and we know what he can do with the ball in his hands. Over the last two games, he’s caught seven passes for 106 yards and a pair of scores. With Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty likely out at running back next week and Chris Ogbonnaya flopping badly in his first career start this week against the Texans, the Browns figure to use Cribbs a decent amount next week against the Rams and their pathetic defense.
Lavelle Hawkins, Titans
With Nate Washington going down with a hip injury, Hawkins stepped into the Titans receiving fray and posted a solid game with five receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown. Interestingly enough, I checked his FFToday players page and this dude is averaging 5.7 targets over his last seven games. Who knew? And who knows how long Washington will be out but I’m guessing a hip injury isn’t a good thing for a wide receiver. Up next are the Panthers and their 14th ranked passing defense followed by the Falcons (24th), Bucs (26th), Bills (24th), Saints (11th), Colts (22nd) and the Jaguars (8th) in Week 16. If quarterback Matt Hasselbeck can stay upright and Washington’s hip is problematic, Hawkins might be a decent option in larger leagues.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders
Raiders head coach Hue Jackson questioned his team’s smarts after they took 15 penalties for 130 yards during this week’s 38-24 home loss to the Broncos. Raiders fans questioned head coach Hue Jackson after he failed to use Heyward-Bey (one target, no catches) despite the 2009 1st round pick coming off the best stretch of his career (22 receptions, 385 yards and a score over his last four games). So, who’s dumber? Hue or the Raiders? Or is that a trick question…
Mike Williams, Bucs
Somebody in Tampa, please let the team’s coaching staff know that Williams isn’t the same player he was last season. Touchdowns: on pace for 2, down from the 11 he posted in his rookie season. Yards: on pace for 726, down from the 955 he posted a year ago. Targets: on pace for 142, up from the 128 he had in 2010. Yards per catch: down from 14.9 last season to 9.8 this season. This situation has me more confused than Elmer Fudd.
Jacob Tamme, Colts
If my memory serves, those who jumped on Tamme immediately after Dallas Clark suffered a season-ending injury in 2010 were rewarded. With Clark suffering a potentially season ending leg injury this week, could history be repeating itself? Nah. Peyton Manning is out and Curtis Painter’s been horrible so Tamme has almost no chance of replicating his solid performance from last season when he accounted for 67 receptions, 631 yards and four touchdowns. Still, he’s worth grabbing as your TE2 if you don’t like your current option.
Ben Watson, Browns
I needed an option to have Moving Down at tight end and Watson is what I came up with. At first glance, his performance this season hasn’t been far off what he did last season (5.9 PPG vs. 5.3) but he’s stumbled over the past four weeks, coincidentally struggling along with McCoy. Watson caught nine passes for 130 yards over that span and it also doesn’t help that he’s been targeted just nine times over the past three weeks. Let’s just say that’s it’s hard to be a productive fantasy tight end in a struggling offense when you’re averaging three targets a game.