1. With Tyler Palko clearly limited as a downfield passing threat, the Chiefs moved quickly to claim former Bear and Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton when Denver unexpectedly placed him on waivers this week. While Orton will never be considered to have one of the stronger arms in the league, the Chiefs offense was limited by Palko’s weak arm and opposing defenses were certain to catch on quickly to his limitations and start dropping their safeties closer to the line of scrimmage, reducing the Chiefs options on short and intermediate throws. Look for Orton to move into the starting line up as early as Week 13 against the Bears with a strong likelihood that he enters this week’s game against the Steelers in mop up duty. Orton doesn’t rate as an option for fantasy purposes but his presence does bring a greater measure of comfort to Dwayne Bowe owners who were likely concerned about his ability to keep producing with Palko under center for the Chiefs.
2. With the Chiefs scooping up Orton, the Bears moved quickly to solidify the backup quarterback position behind Caleb Hanie, signing veteran retread Josh McCown. McCown will back up Hanie until Jay Cutler returns to the team, likely in the playoffs should Chicago qualify as a wildcard team. McCown is familiar with the team’s offense from his time together with offensive coordinator Mike Martz (as well as wide receiver Roy Williams) in Detroit. While Hanie has never been a Martz favorite and seems unlikely to return to the Bears in 2012, the odds of McCown stepping into Chicago’s starting lineup are slim. Hanie possesses solid athletic ability but is more of a freelancer and scrambler than Martz cares for. However, McCown is in Chicago simply to provide insurance behind Hanie given that Chicago’s third string quarterback is rookie 5th round pick Nathan Enderle, who is not ready to assume control of the team’s offense.
3. Let’s hand out some awards this week. The Absolutely Delusional Award goes to Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh for his post-game comments yesterday after getting ejected for ramming the head of backup Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith into the turf three times before stomping on his arm with his foot. From Suh’s viewpoint, he was being held down, just tried to get up and stumbled. Worse yet, Suh admitted that he saw the replay, which clearly shows him stomping on Dietrich-Smith’s arm. It’s one thing to be involved in a dirty play but another to fail to admit guilt when you have witnessed overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Albert Haynesworth received a five game suspension for stomping on Andre Gurode so, while that incident was worse than this one, the Lions will almost certainly be without their best defensive player for at least one game and possibly more.
4. Next up is Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio who gets the Don’t Hold Me Accountable Award. With Jacksonville trailing Cleveland 14-10 and having the ball on the Browns one-yard line with three seconds remaining, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter called for a Blaine Gabbert pass to diminutive wide receiver Mike Thomas. With running back Maurice Jones-Drew in the backfield it is easy to second guess Koetter’s call, but, as head coach, Del Rio could have ordered a Jones-Drew run had he wanted to. At his post game press conference, Del Rio threw Koetter under the bus stating that the offensive coordinator calls the plays and that reporters should speak to him. Here’s to guessing that Del Rio wouldn’t have the press go speak to Koetter had the play resulted in a Thomas touchdown. Here’s hoping that Jaguars management finally pulls the plug on Del Rio’s tenure in Jacksonville and they move on from a coach who has always been willing to lay blame but never accept responsibility.
5. Next up is the Eagles DeSean Jackson for the Me, Me, Me Award. Flipping the ball to the opposing teams defensive coordinator after a long completion is one thing but then doing the ole’ can’t stick to me thing is guaranteed to draw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. Of course, it is not surprise that Jackson was guilty of this considering he dropped the ball in the field of play prior to entering the end zone as a rookie. Note to DeSean – if you want to get paid like you’re a superstar, then play like a superstar and ditch the punk portion of your personality.
6. Finally, the award for Plummeting Performance Right After Signing a Massive Contract Extension goes to Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. In fact, this one wasn’t even close. Since signing a six-year, $59-million extension, Fitzpatrick has failed to top 200 passing yards in two of three games while throwing for two touchdowns and seven interceptions. Pre-extension, the Bills were averaging 30.1 points per game. Post-extension, they are averaging 8.7 points per game. With running back Fred Jackson having been placed on injured reserve, the offensive line banged up and missing their best player in Eric Woods and numerous injury issues at wide receiver, keep Fitzpatrick out of your fantasy starting line up at all costs.
7. With just six games left on the schedule, it is safe to conclude that the Josh McDaniels era has not gotten off to the start that Rams management was hoping for. McDaniels offensive play calling has generated very little scoring in St. Louis where the Rams average a league low 12.0 points per game. With quarterback Sam Bradford having thrown just five touchdowns in eight games and clearly regressing after posting a solid rookie season, the whispers are growing in St. Louis that McDaniels will not be back next season and that owner Stan Kroenke will also look to replace head coach Steve Spagnolo and general manager Billy Devaney.
8. For years, fantasy owners had to be concerned about whether or not they would be able to use their Colt players during the fantasy playoffs. This year, there’s a chance that fantasy owners will have to be concerned about whether or not they can use their 49ers. Who saw that coming? With a 9-2 record and a commanding lead in the NFC West, San Francisco could clinch the division title as early as next week and, with a soft schedule, could also clinch a first round bye prior to Week 16. Monitor that situation as well as the situation in Green Bay where the undefeated Packers could very well rest several key fantasy contributors perhaps as early as Week 15.
9. The Titans used the eighth pick in the draft on quarterback Jake Locker and the expectation was that he would likely enter the starting line up sometime after the midpoint of the season once Tennessee was eliminated from playoff contention. The athletic rookie quarterback played well in his first extensive game action last week, subbing in for injured starter Matt Hasselbeck and nearly bringing the Titans to a come from behind victory over the Falcons. While Locker played well, there are no plans to insert him into the starting line up since Tennessee, at 5-5, sits just two games behind division leading Houston in the AFC South. In fact, with Hasselbeck playing well despite missing the team’s wide receiver in Kenny Britt for much of the season and running back Chris Johnson having the worst year of his career, there is a strong likelihood that he will enter 2012 as the team’s starting quarterback.