Welcome to the Tuesday Morning Buzz! Things are getting serious now as league leaders are fighting to hold on to their leads and wild cards are fighting for their rightful spots in the playoffs. Let’s get right into all of the fiery Week 12 matchups.
It was a tough day for Lions fans and fantasy owners. Matthew Stafford owners saw a 3:1 interception-to-touchdown ratio. Kevin Smith went down, Jahvid Best shortly after went on IR, and Jason Hanson was frankly lucky to get no points. If you are a Calvin Johnson owner, you have to be happy with 49 yards and a score, but that seems so paltry for this year’s most dominant wide receiver. In addition, it took him until the final seconds of the game to grab the score. Ouch. Still, with Cutler going down—and the Bears with him—the Lions may still be competing for a wild card late in the season.
For the Packers, this was probably their least impressive performance of the season. They had a couple of good drives capped with touchdowns by Greg Jennings and John Kuhn, but the rest were punts, field goals, and taking advantage of busted coverage. It wasn’t a bad outing per se, it just wasn’t the 40-point dominance these Packers typically show.
The Color Silver
How about that Ndamukong Suh? Nothing like a good old stomp to the breastplate. He reminds me of that one bully in elementary school who hit puberty at age seven and was six feet with a full-grown mustache by 12. Did you see him making Dietrich-Smith eat dirt? Ridiculous. The man is a thug just like James Harrison and Richie Incognito, and thugs have no place in the public eye. If I were a GM, I wouldn’t allow Suh on my team, ever if I had him for a 10-year deal at a dollar a year. I value attitude more than talent, and personality more than draft status, and that means Suh is worthless to me.
The biggest question for Cowboys owners is what will happen when Miles Austin comes back. A lot of Laurent Robinson’s big plays have been against broken coverage, as most big plays to receivers are, but he’s gained popularity and will not be going away. Especially with DeMarco Murray taking so many snaps, these Dallas receivers could soon become Saintly or Packeresque, in that they will all be valuable but rarely in the same week. For the Dolphins, they must’ve heard a rumor about an Andrew Luck drug habit or something. They were in the thick of it with Indianapolis (who has the right idea, by the way), and now they’re catching up with Buffalo and the Jets. As long as the Dolphins are on this tear, it will be awfully hard to sit Brandon Marshall in any format.
Christian Ponder is the anti-Tebow. He always looks better to me than his stat line. He’s proven his mobility, his competency, and his football IQ. Yet, when it all shakes out, all of that great play amounts to less than Matt Moore or Carson Palmer put up on the stat sheet. Still, however good Ponder has been, I don’t expect much next week when that stout Tebow defense comes to town. For the Falcons, Matt Ryan looked impressive. I am well documented in my opinion that the team is best served when Ryan has more hand-offs than pass attempts, but at least for this week Atlanta’s passing game was very successful. Look for a contingency plan for the playoffs if you’re a Julio Jones owner though, as that hamstring looks like it is going to frustrate him all season long.
Though few would compare the two, Ryan Fitzpatrick performed just as well as Matt Ryan against a much tougher secondary. Any QB that throws three touchdowns needs to be owned in all leagues, even if he’s been fairly miserable the past few weeks. Similarly, Stevie Johnson also needs to be held on to. Many have been trumpeting that the Bills are back to being the Bills of old, that they are just as terrible as they used to be. I don’t buy that. I don’t know how useful they will be in the fantasy playoffs this year, but the Bills are the biggest fantasy force they’ve been in decades. For the Jets, it was an extremely forgettable game. Even though their receiving game had a monster fantasy day, Sanchez completed less than 50 percent of his passes for less than 200 yards, and Shonn Greene had only 13 total carries.
Sometimes I think the Bills must wear silver Under Armour. How else do you explain the fervor with which Steve Johnson lost this game for his team? There were boneheaded mistakes across the field for the wideout, as he dropped passes that rivaled his infamously dropped touchdown of a season ago. He has the natural talent of any receiver in the league, but if he gets any more excessive celebration fouls, it is going to get “so serious” really quick.
For the Browns, there are two main points. Peyton Hillis got all of the work for the RB squad, and Greg Little is the man among the WRs. As long as he’s healthy, Hillis is the only Cleveland Brown I would consider starting—and I’m not a fan of him, either. For the Bengals, Cedric Benson put up a good showing, but I’m going to need to see at least 60 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers next week to consider putting him in my lineup in the fantasy playoffs.
Someone I would trust in my fantasy playoffs is Mike Williams of the Buccaneers. He’s had a couple of solid performances and will finish the fantasy regular season against the Carolina Panthers. Start him in all formats. I would also start LeGarrette Blount in all formats against that Panthers D next week. For the Titans, the passing situation remained muddied with an even distribution among pass catchers. However, if you look at fantasy points scored, your choice would have to be Damian Williams—and it wouldn’t even be close. Chris Johnson had the first game this season where he truly looked like his old self, netting 19 points in yards alone. That would be enough for me to give him the go next week against the porous Buffalo defense.
Who would imagine that two teams with absolutely nothing to play for would get into a rushing battle? These two went at it to the tune of 200 rushing yards and three touchdowns for the Panthers, and Donald Brown alone had 80 yards and a touchdown for the Colts. Despite that, I wouldn’t touch any of these running backs with a ten-foot pole. I’d rather have Brandon Jacobs, if Bradshaw is out, over any of these guys.
Which has a better chance of happening next week against the Cowboys in Arizona: Beanie Wells rushes for 150 yards, or Kevin Kolb comes back and outscore Mark Sanchez in D.C.? For my money, I bet Kolb shows enough flashes of starter ability to keep suckers…I mean owners…starting him in the playoffs. For the Rams, Steven Jackson continues to be the only presence worth starting week in and week out, if only for his upside. But even if some of these guys seem to have starter ability, I wouldn’t feel confident using any player from either team for the rest of the season.
Unfortunately, Andre Johnson came back just in time for Yates to stink up the playing field. I don’t think there is anyone else out there that the Texans could use ahead of Yates, which essentially ruins any playoff hopes. Baby steps, though, Texans fans. It wasn’t long ago that just making the playoffs was an off chance each year. For the Jaguars, I have only one triple-named player you should be concerned with: Cecil Shorts III. Kidding, of course. Only MJD is a factor on this team.
I do not think Hanie is as bad as the rep he’s getting. Johnny Knox was able to make his regular number of catches and yards to add up to a successful fantasy day. However, I don’t see this continuing, as Forte and the D/ST are the Bears’ only chances to get into the playoffs as a wild card. Martz cannot continue to put the game in Hanie’s hands, despite how well he may be able to manage. For the Raiders, Sebastian Janikowski kept his team in the game. When just passing midfield means you’re in scoring position, it’s easy to win games against good defenses. In my opinion, I don’t think this game affects my view of any Bears or Raiders. I’m starting all Raiders or Bears as usual and not taking any chances, despite this game.
Redskins – Seahawks
Blah blah blah, Roy Helu. Blah blah, Santana Moss. Mumble mumble, Marshawn Lynch. Ok, honestly, Lynch was pretty good. However, I find it hard to get excited about anyone wearing jerseys of either team. Start Lynch if you’ve got him, but try to forget about it until the score is final.
Tim Tebow has been a great fantasy QB every week except for that terrible Detroit game. His defense is keeping his opponents in check enough that his mediocre-at-best quarterback play has to be respected. If a team can get up big quickly, as the Lions did, then the Tebow magic, whatever that may be, can be taken out of the equation. Along with Tebow, I want whichever Denver running back is starting to be on my roster as well. Willis McGahee has been absolutely killing opposing defenses, and here’s a little secret: he’s no Arian Foster. For the Chargers, this is about the best fantasy day you can hope for. Everyone except Rivers played ok—not great, but they didn’t wow you with silly mistakes—and it was missed field goals that afforded the Tebow the chance to win. Unfortunately, it looks like that whole call of their pending Super Bowl victory seemed to be a little off…
P.S. Do you think the Eagles and Chargers will trade coaches? I think they just might.
What an amazing tumble the Eagles have taken. They just can’t catch a break. Their offensive line and defense has finally gelled, so of course their potent passing attack has now gone and taken a dirt nap, along with their playoff hopes. DeSean Jackson can’t keep his head on straight, Vick is out with broken ribs, Maclin hasn’t been consistently healthy all year long, and Vince Young can’t get that “Dream Team” comment off his back. LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick, if he’s healthy, are the only Eagles I’m starting and feeling good about. For the Pats, it was as simple as giving Tom Brady time. As soon as BJGE’s two red zone touchdowns had the Eagles reeling, Brady went to work and never slowed down. I feel like I’m in danger of becoming a broken record, but I’ll say it again: sit any New England pass catcher at your own risk.
In an actually very skillful defensive battle, the Ravens came out on top. For my money, there were two main factors that contributed to the win, and neither has to do with fantasy. The Ravens were at home, and they are much more accustomed to low-scoring defensive battles. I’ll take the Ravens in Baltimore over any team in the league if you’ll guarantee that both teams will score less than 21 points. Due to this double-sided shut down, neither team had much of a fantasy star. This is another game I’d dismiss in relation to fantasy opinion, due to the defensive prowess on display.
Similar to the 49ers–Ravens game, this was an intense defensive battle. Now, the Chiefs’ offense is less than unimpressive, but you still have to give it to the Steelers. And like the Ravens, the Steelers are far more experienced and skilled in a game where you have to rely on your defense. However, I think Antonio Brown has been having a coming out party the past five weeks and is the Miles Austin to Mike Wallace’s Dez Bryant. For the Chiefs, blech…though I am excited to see if Kyle Orton can bring Dwayne Bowe back from the dead.
$#^% Chris Collinsworth Says
“Al, one of the things the Pittsburgh Steelers wanted to do tonight is, they described it, is throw the kitchen sink at Tyler Palko. Well, much of that kitchen sink is in the form of Troy Polamalu and they can’t do it now!”
Well, despite CC’s imaginative use of the kitchen sink metaphor, it seems like the faucet and drain plug remaining on the field were enough to keep the Chiefs in check. Even if they don’t have all their appliances on the field next week against the Bengals, I’m starting the Steelers D, with gusto, in all formats.
Has the Superdome surpassed CenturyLink and Arrowhead as having the best home-field advantage around? It has certainly seemed like it this year, as the Saints are undefeated and scoring in droves when in New Orleans. The Saints will be watching the two-loss 49ers very closely now, as New Orleans seems to be in prime competition for the #2 seed and a first-round bye. Just like the Patriots and Packers, this is an all-hands-on-deck offense with a multitude of playmakers who can rack up points quickly. For the Giants, it was a sad display of defense, but you can’t hold them too accountable for the previously mentioned Saints at home. They could’ve played better, but the deck was stacked against them from the start. I’m starting all of my Giants next week against Green Bay, even Brandon Jacobs.
P.S. The Saints won the coin toss. Told you! I can’t wait to collect at the office this afternoon.
And that’s it! Next week is the final week of the regular season in most standard formats, so things should get interesting. I like Colts receivers in Foxborough, I’m starting Joe Flacco against the Browns in Cleveland, and I love Marshawn Lynch against the Eagles in Seattle. I’m staying away from any Bengals in Pittsburgh, all of the Vikings, and the other 52 men on the Denver Tebow.