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Moving Up, Moving Down – Week 14

By: — December 6, 2011 @ 4:17 pm
Filed under: Player Analysis


Moving Up

Tim Tebow, Broncos
Tebow was hardly dominant in fantasy this week against the Vikings, scoring 19.4 fantasy points on 202 passing yards, two touchdown passes and 13 rushing yards. However, he’s Moving Up because the passing totals represent career highs (it was his third game with two touchdown passes) and it was the first time he has completed over 50% of his passes as a starter. Unfortunately, the increase in his passing totals was more than offset by the decrease in his rushing production. Nonetheless, Tebow is going to need to be a more efficient passer to be a consistent fantasy threat at quarterback and we saw a glimmer of hope of that happening this week.

Moving Down

Flacco continues his downward spiral.

Joe Flacco, Ravens
Let’s just say that Flacco’s not exactly peaking as the playoffs approach, both for the Ravens and for fantasy purposes. Both the 49ers and Browns have shut down the Ravens passing attack over the past two weeks, holding Flacco under 200 passing in both games. He was especially bad this week against the Browns, completing just ten of 23 passes for 158 yards and no touchdowns. The only saving grace is that he avoided interceptions in both games. Flacco’s status as a fantasy backup is basically cemented given his performance this season and, with just one 20 plus point performance over the past seven games, the odds are far greater that he will cost you a win in the next three weeks than help get you one.

Vince Young, Eagles
To the bench for you, young man. Likely for 2012 as well since his performance this season gave little reason for any quarterback needy team to take a chance on him as their starter next season.

Running Backs

Moving Up

Marion Barber, Bears
Given the Bears reliance on the run and Matt Forte’s knee injury, Barber is going to be the top waiver wire add this week in shallow leagues. The only problem is that quarterback Caleb Hanie hasn’t generated much offense in his two starts and he seemed to regress this week against the Chiefs. Let’s just say that it is hard to get on the offense on a roll when your quarterback throws three interceptions every week. That being said, the Broncos, Seahawks and Packers are up next and they all feature middle of the pack run defenses and Barber hasn’t been that bad this season. His 3.7 yards per attempt average is skewed by his low number of rushing attempts and usage in a short yardage role.

Roy Helu, Redskins
Hey, Mike Shanahan did what he said he was going to do for once and Helu owners are grateful. The rookie is picking up steam over the final part of the season, topping 20 fantasy points in each of the last two weeks. He has topped 100 rushing yards while chipping in 96 passing yards in the process, giving him a tidy 304 total yards and two touchdowns over the past two weeks. With Fred Davis suspended for the final four games of the season, look for Helu to become an even bigger presence in the passing game. It’s also nice that backups Evan Royster and Ryan Torain are getting precious few touches behind Helu (one in each game).

Chris Johnson, Titans
Hallelujah. It’s about time. Johnson torched the Bills this week for 153 yards and a pair of scores on just 23 carries, one week after going 23 for 190 against the Bucs. That gives him three 100-yard performances in the last four weeks (with a 12 carry, 13 yard dud against the Falcons thrown in the mix). Up next are the Saints and Colts with the Jaguars in Week 16. If the Johnson of old is back, he might be ready to carry a few fantasy squads to some championships.

Moving Down

Darren McFadden, Raiders
Not much news coming out of Oakland on when McFadden would return to the line up other than head coach Hue Jackson’s comment that he thought it would be this year. Hope you weren’t counting on him for the fantasy playoffs.

BenJarvus Green-Elllis, Patriots
When you can only muster 14 yards on eight carries against the Colts, something is wrong. The touchdown was nice, but again, not a guy you want to rely on. It’s touchdown or bust with The Law Firm.

James Starks, Packers
Ditto for Starks. This guy’s running into injury problems just when his fantasy owners were expecting him to seal the lead back role and get some additional carries in some bad weather games in December.

Wide Receivers

Moving Up

Percy Harvin, Vikings
After hitting double-digit fantasy points just twice in his first nine games, Harvin has been on a tear over the Vikings last three games. He struggled to fulfill the role Minnesota handed him as the team’s lead wide receiver early in the season but is beginning to blossom as a dual running-receiving threat as the 2011 season draws to a close. This week’s eight reception, 156 receiving yard, two-touchdown performance brings Harvin’s three week totals in the passing game to 22 receptions for 324 yards and four touchdowns. He has also chipped in 51 yards on the ground during that span, averaging 20.5 fantasy points per game. Outside of Victor Cruz of the Giants, Harvin is the hottest fantasy wide receiver in the last three weeks.

Malcom Floyd, Chargers
With Andre Johnson owners desperate for a replacement as the fantasy playoffs heat up, Floyd just might be the answer. Of course, he is as likely to produce as he is to end up sitting on the sidelines. In his first game action after missing four weeks, Floyd torched an overmatched Jaguars secondary on Monday night, hauling in four receptions for 108 yards and a score. That gives Floyd three 100-yard games this season in just eight games and brings his average yards per reception up to 22.1. With the Bills up next followed by the Ravens and Lions, Floyd is a decent option as an AJ replacement although you might look for a better option against Baltimore.

Mike Williams, Buccaneers
Williams was perhaps the worst fantasy wide receiver bust over the first nine games of the season, as he found the end zone just once after scoring 11 touchdowns during his rookie season. While not many expected Williams to replicate that feat, it was expected he would increase his yardage total from the 955 he totaled in 2010. While that isn’t likely to happen, he has a chance to come close to that total as he has lit it up over the past three weeks, finding the end zone in Weeks 11 and 12 and posting five receptions for 93 yards this week, bringing his three week total to 18 receptions for 260 yards. Up next are the Jags, who just got torched by San Diego’s passing offense, the Cowboys and Panthers. That’s not a bad three-week stretch.

Golden Tate, Seahawks
This one’s for deeper leagues only. The man who loves donuts seems to be head coach Pete Carroll’s preferred option at receiver in the red zone. With Sidney Rice out for the year and Mike Williams M.I.A., Carroll has given Tate some red zone opportunities over the past two weeks and he’s scored in each game. The Rams are on tap next week.

Austin Collie, Colts
Collie still hasn’t found the end zone in 2011 but put up season highs in receptions and yards this week with his seven for 70 performance against the Patriots. Maybe Dan Orlovsky is more comfortable throwing to him than Curtis Painter was. For desperate AJ owners, maybe Collie is the answer.

Donald Driver, Packers
Driver is Moving Up courtesy of his four-reception, 34 yard, two-touchdown performance this week against the Giants but I’m not recommending him. He’s here because he’s one of my favorite players so I’m taking an opportunity to give him some kudos for an outstanding career given that he is unlikely to be back in Green Bay for another season. It’s not often that a 7th round pick (from tiny Alcorn State) hangs around the NFL for 12 seasons, posting seven 1,000 yard seasons and accumulating 725 receptions for 9,897 yards and 57 touchdowns. And he did it with class. Driver was never mentioned as one of the most talented receivers in the league but he was one of the hardest workers and he avoided the diva tag. He has been a great leader and his work ethic has clearly rubbed off on the Packers younger receivers, the most talented and feared in the league.

Moving Down

Andre Johnson, Texans
Sure, it’s a mild a hamstring injury. My question is, when you have hammies like AJ’s, is there such a thing? Even if this is only a one-week deal, I wouldn’t feel too comfortable starting him in Week 15 against the Panthers.

Mike Thomas, Jaguars
Sign a big contract, turn into a piece of crap. We’ve seen it before, we’ll see it again. Four games into his third season (and with a year remaining on his rookie deal), Thomas signed a three-year, $18-million extension ($9-million in guarantees) that runs through 2015. In eight games since signing the extension, Thomas has caught 19 passes for 177 yards and no touchdowns. He was fed, now he’s napping.

James Jones, Packers
Forgotten once again, Jones target totals have fallen off the map over his last five games (1, 1, 3, 4, 0). It’s nice that he has scored twice despite the low target total but counting on a touchdown is fantasy folly.

Eric Decker, Broncos
Here is another player who is suffering in the key target statistic. After averaging eight targets per game over the Broncos first seven games, Decker has seen his average targets drop to 4.6 over the last five games. Again, it’s nice that he has scored three times over that span of games but the odds of him averaging a touchdown ever 7.6 targets are pretty darn low.

Tight Ends

Moving Up

Tony Gonzalez, Falcons
Here is an excerpt on my outlook for Gonzo prior to the season: “Gonzalez has been a dynamic tight end throughout his career and is clearly headed to the Hall of Fame, but the writing on the wall can’t be ignored. He is in serious decline.” Well, so much for that. In all honesty, I would be willing to bet some hard earned cash that he had some kind of undisclosed injury holding him back in 2010 because he certainly has an extra spring in his step this season. Over his last five games, Gonzalez has topped nine fantasy points in four games, caught touchdowns in three games and is averaging 10.6 points per game. Rejuvenated. Renaissance season. Call it what you want.

Moving Down

Owen Daniels, Texans
You would think that a pass catching tight end on a team that just lost their best (and only solid) wide receiver to a hamstring injury would be Moving Up but that’s not the case with Daniels. After finding the end zone in three of the Texans first four games, he has failed to score in his last eight games and has between 31 and 35 receiving yards in each of the last four weeks. Consistent – yes. Consistently good – no. It has now been over two years since he suffered a torn ACL that ended his 2009 season and there’s enough evidence to conclude that he will never again produce at the level he was at prior to the injury.

  • Tom

    Great writeup of Driver. If you know old school Wisconsin sports, Driver is the Jimmy Gantner of the NFL. Not the fastest or biggest, but give me a team full of guys like driver and we’ll win the Superbowl every year 🙂

  • Dave Stringer

    @ Tom,
    Agreed – consumate pro and a great team player.

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