Welcome to the Tuesday Morning Buzz! In what should have been a week of clarity, most situations became only muddier as backups performed with skill, starters sat on the bench in pain or humiliation, and the number of winless teams fell to one. How ‘bout them Dolphins?
Beware of the offense that faces this floundering Colts team. The Julio Jones– Matt Ryan connection blew up for over a hundred yards and multiple scores this week, despite showing little in any week prior. A couple of weeks ago, anyone who owned Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham likely won their game, even if they sat everyone else. I wouldn’t start any Colts, and I would start most backups versus Indy.
P.S. What if the Colts allow Peyton Manning to play just enough games to keep them out of the Luck sweepstakes? Wouldn’t that be fitting for the team who sat their starters when staring down the barrel of a 16-0 season?
The magic of the high-flying Bills offense has started to fade as defenses have begun to settle in to the new rules. The Jets proved that they can tackle in form—rather than just take headshots—and that they can cover without touching the receiver past five yards. I’m a bit skittish to go all-in on the Jets after one game, but that defense looked as menacing as ever Sunday afternoon. I’m not too comfortable with any of the Jets offensive options, but I could easily see the choice between Flacco and Sanchez leaning toward Sanchez at this point in the season.
I weep for those of you who dropped Ben Tate when Arian Foster came back. Tate won’t run against Cleveland every week, but he does seem like a good bet to get 20 yards and a touchdown in most any matchup, and especially against the Gerald McCoy-less Bucs this week. I also weep for those of you who drafted Matt Schaub early this year. He’s found himself in a situation much like Ryan Fitzpatrick’s. This offense operates through the run game, despite having an excellent quarterback and No. 1 receiver.
As the year of the leg injury continues, Miles Austin went down for another 2-4 weeks with the same hamstring that has bothered him all season. This week the Cowboys play the bend-but-don’t-break Buffalo defense, and I could see Laurent Robinson getting 100 yards and a touchdown in Austin’s place. I am all-in on the Cowboys as they take on the Bills. For the Seahawks, I might start Sidney Rice as a flex play in some weeks, but I’m steering clear of any Seahawk in any league when they face the Ravens.
In their own effort to thwart their chances at landing Andrew Luck, the Dolphins went on the road and made the Chiefs think they were reliving Week 2. As I’ve documented on multiple occasions, I’m not a fan of big-talent guys on bad-attitude teams. However, Brandon Marshall’s talent is so transcendent that it’s impossible for me to feel iffy about him. I don’t know if this was the Chiefs D looking past Miami or if Matt Moore has actually become a viable starting quarterback, but I wouldn’t advise sitting Brandon Marshall unless you have a truly elite receiving corps.
The curse about losing the Super Bowl when it’s in your own stadium may be legitimate, but New Orleans hosts the big game next year, and I believe the Saints now have the most dominant home-field advantage. It is loud, it is crazy, and you can almost see the Superdome becoming animated with trumpets just poking out of it at all times blasting swing music and jazz. Okay, that was a little overdone, but you get my point. Start your Saints when they’re at home, and start them at your own risk when they’re away. If you drafted any Buccaneers, all you can do is hang in there and hope they come alive in the second half.
P.S. Remember when everyone spoke of Josh Freeman as a running quarterback? While his two rushing touchdowns this year has infinitely increased from zero rushing touchdowns in 2010, the hope of his compiling Vick-like numbers is going to have to wait at least one more season.
In Other News…
As I told you a couple of weeks ago, I live in Oklahoma. I’m not sure if it made your local news, but tremors were felt all over the state on Saturday as three “major” earthquakes shook the ground. It was the real experience. Cups rattled, pictures fell from shelves, dogs and cats went crazy, the whole kit and caboodle. Instantly, Facebook and Twitter burst with statements harkening the end of days and the self-destruction of the planet. As if happenings in such prestigious towns as Prague and Meeker really have any sort of bearing on the status of the entire world! Did you hear about the quake in my home state?
Speaking of big events for unassuming entities, the Niners went on the road and got their seventh straight victory. Could it really just have been that Mike “Can’t-Win-With-‘Em” Singletary just couldn’t win with them? With virtually the same team, Jim Harbaugh is looking at clinching his division in Week 11 and nabbing a first-round bye. I’m looking at Crabtree and Smith as bye-week fill-ins for Week 11, but after that, I’d be hard pressed to start them unless I were really in dire straits.
As for the Redskins, yours truly was a week too soon on Roy Helu. I feel like he is a better back than Ryan Torain, and I fell for the bait last week after Tim Hightower’s unfortunate injury sidelined him for the season. However, it was this week that Helu would come alive. . . well after I dropped him for the great Brandon Jacobs.
Speaking of Big Blue, these Giants just have the Patriots’ number, don’t they? In the fourth quarter, as Jake Ballard and Mario Manningham brought the game to a close, this game drew a myriad of comparisons to Super Bowl XLII. The Patkowskis have gone from looking unshakable to pretty shaky in just a matter of weeks, but the offense keeps ticking. Brady, Welker, Gronkowski, and even Hernandez will continue to give great fantasy performances. However, when they play strong man-to-man defenses (Steelers, Giants, and now the Jets), they struggle and quite often lose. It’ll be tough to bench any New England stars, but I might consider other comparable options this week.
Chris Johnson’s talent is such that even yours truly—who was ridiculed in the offseason for saying I wouldn’t take him with a third-round pick—would not have guessed he could go all year without a hundred-yard game. For God’s sake, even Jackie Battle has one of those this year! However, keep in mind that Battle is also currently edging CJ2K on the stat sheet as well. For the Bengals, as I have said previously, their arrow has started to tilt upward. If these guys are somehow able to split their next two games (Steelers, Ravens), their confidence will grow exponentially and Dalton may become a fantasy starter.
I can only imagine how Tebowing will grow in popularity after the Broncos’ big win in the black hole. I say we begin a “Palmering” fad, where we come in with inexplicably high expectations and are all let down. It might be a little harder to pull off, but all the more glorious when it becomes a national pastime, right? Anyway, Palmer emerged from the game with passable stats, while Tebow once again blew up the fantasy football gridiron. I’d have to have pretty strong quarterback options to not start Tebow week-in and week-out. Meanwhile, it’s my prediction that the Broncos win this division in a stunning turn of events: Palmer and Rivers combine for 100 interceptions, the Chiefs lose every remaining game by 20 points, and Tebow rushes for 22 touchdowns and throws for four more. Now that would surely spell the end of man.
P.S. Willis McGahee will finish the season with more than five points per game over CJ2K. That’s not even that crazy…
My Super Bowl pick, the Chargers, are deeply entrenched in a three-way tie for first. The catch? Three AFC West teams are at .500, and fourth place is only a game back. Both teams played as they should have in this game, so there isn’t much fantasy advice here. However, the Chargers certainly had the most impressive day in the division as they went toe-to-toe with ironically red-hot Green Bay. Don’t these Packers remind you of the ’06 Saints? Great offense, hyper-elite quarterback, and a defense that can make just enough plays to ride the coattails of the offense to a win. Those Saints lost in the NFC Championship game to the Chicago Bears; can these Packers make it back to the Super Bowl?
P.S. I was on record saying that the Panthers should’ve drafted Patrick Peterson and given Jimmy Clausen another shot. Obviously, the Panthers made a great decision, but Peterson again proved his worth in this game.
Somehow, the Ravens have emerged from a four-game stretch that included a loss to Jacksonville and a come-from-behind win in Arizona as world-beaters. The Blackbirds marched into Heinz field and handed the Steelers an “L”. Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin were more successful than I imagined, and Joe Flacco blew up the waiver wire, where yours truly left him last week. For the Steelers, I’m really starting to come on to Antonio Brown. It seems plausible that the combination of Wallace, Sanders, and Brown may very soon become the best receiving corps that Pittsburgh has ever had.
Last week, Dot Miltrix commented on my statement that the Steelers were going to roll the Ravens:
“I hope I’m playing you next week in fantasy—you may get one TD out of all of your Steelers.”
While the Steelers technically scored two offensive touchdowns, the overall point still stands. In a week where series records were broken all over, the Ravens swept the Steelers in the regular season for the first time since 2006. I’ll own this one; I had more faith in a rejuvenated Steelers team off that great win than they apparently deserved.
P.S. How about Harbaugh 1.0 quoting Teddy Roosevelt? That was awesome.
$#^% Chris Collinsworth Says
On pregame expectations for the Ravens–Steelers game:
“This game could only get better if these defenses got to play against one another.”
Au Contraire! The defenses were great, particularly the despicable James Harrison, but the offenses made this game a thriller. However, if there were ever a paradoxical double-defense matchup I’d want to see, it would be between these guys. Ray Lewis pump fakes and passes short over the middle to Ed Reed who takes a hard hit from Ryan Clark! What???
This was the best game Jay Cutler has ever played. Sure, he’s put up better stats, but he had the game of his career as far as I’m concerned. He extended plays like the best of them, he was accurate, he was decisive, and his throws were perfect. The drive at the top of the fourth quarter was momentous, capped off with a beautiful pass to Earl Bennett. The Bears’ offensive stars will likely have to sustain some passing potency if they have any hope of staying close to the Packers and getting a wild card spot.
For the Eagles, it was as normal. LeSean McCoy was huge, Vick continued to develop as a passer, and Maclin and Jackson remained unimpressive in comparison to years past. Some of that had to do with the Bears effectively shutting down the deep ball with their Cover 2, but the Eagles passing game hasn’t been itself all year long. In fact, it was sloppy passing and receiving that sealed the deal on the Eagles’ hopes for a win.
P.S. How about the Eagles pass rush getting 0.0 sacks on Jay Cutler? When did the Bears O-line become their strength?
And that’s it! Another action-packed week of NFL play is in the books. There are no byes this week, so with any luck your team will be back to full power. If you’re hurting bad because of injuries, you might consider some of the Vikings as they face a Green Bay D that isn’t scaring anyone right now.