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Dave’s Take: Fantasy Football Tips, News & Notes – Week 14

By: — December 9, 2011 @ 4:38 pm
Filed under: Player Analysis

1. With most fantasy leagues beginning their playoff rounds this week, line up decisions become more paramount and there is a major question mark surrounding Monday night’s tilt between the Rams and the Seahawks. The Rams top two quarterbacks are injured and may not play, leaving recently signed journeyman Tom Brandstater as the team’s potential starter against Seattle. Sam Bradford sat out last week with a high ankle sprain and A.J. Feeley suffered a thumb injury. Neither have practiced this week. If Brandstater starts, Brandon Lloyd’s fantasy takes a significant hit so his owners may want to consider other options. In addition, running back Steven Jackson struggled mightily against the Seahawks in Week 11 (15 carries for 42 yards and 19 yards on three receptions) so Sjax owners may want to sit him if better options exist.

2. If Brandstater starts, it will almost certainly add to a long line of bad quarterback play on Monday nights this season. Maybe the NFL needs to flex out some of these matchups.

3. Chargers linebacker Takeo Spikes will play his 200th game this week against the Buffalo Bills, becoming just the 13th linebacker to accomplish the feat. The Bengals 13th pick in the 1998 draft, Spikes has been remarkably healthy throughout his career, being fortunate enough to miss just 21 games with 13 of those coming in 2005 due to an ACL tear. Unfortunately, despite his talent and longevity, Spikes has yet to play in a post-season game throughout his career with the Bengals, Bills, 49ers and Chargers, another remarkable feat.

The road is getting bumpy for Lynch.

4. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has had an outstanding run of games, topping 100 yards in four of his last five games and scoring a touchdown in his last eight. However, after this week’s game against St. Louis, the Seahawks face the Bears (8th ranked run defense), 49ers (1st) and Cardinals (19th) and the bad news keeps pouring in along the offensive line. Having already lost rookie starters James Carpenter (right tackle) and John Moffitt (right guard) for the year, the Seahawks found out this week that left tackle Russell Okung, the team’s best offensive lineman, would miss the rest of the season due to a torn right pectoral muscle suffered when he was flipped to the ground by Eagles defensive end Trent Cole near the end of last week’s win over Philadelphia. While Seattle offensive line coach Tom Cable may have been lost as the head coach in Oakland, his hiring will go down as one of the more astute assistant coach hires of the 2011 offseason.

5. It is difficult to win your division when you can’t muster wins against division opponents and with the Browns 14-3 loss to the Steelers on Thursday night, 2nd year quarterback Colt McCoy is now 0-8 against the AFC North. This loss was especially painful for Browns fans, as Cleveland failed to capitalize on three Pittsburgh turnovers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger playing more than half the game with a high ankle sprain. While McCoy has shown improvement in his second year in Cleveland, there remain significant doubts about his ability to help make the Browns competitive in what is perhaps the toughest division in the league. Despite playing in new head coach Pat Shurmur’s west coast offense, a version that relies on short passing more than perhaps any other previous scheme, McCoy’s completion percentage has actually dropped from 60.8% last season to 57.2% in 2011. His lack of accuracy, arm strength and inability to win within the division could doom McCoy’s chances of returning as Cleveland’s starter in 2011.

6. Down in Jacksonville, Jaguars fans are just about ready to write off rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert, the 10th pick in the draft, after just ten starts. Gabbert has struggled mightily in Jacksonville, completing less than 50% of his passes, failing to consistently move the offense and displaying poor mechanics, including failing to step into his throws in the face of oncoming defenders, a criticism that was included in several scouting reports prior to the draft. While Gabbert is largely responsible for the Jaguars 31st ranking in offensive scoring, the criticisms he has endured have been overblown. He was not expected to take over as the team’s starting quarterback so early in his career (most teams had him pegged as a project due to his poor mechanics and having led a spread offense at Missouri) but was forced into the role when former head coach Jack Del Rio released David Garrard in the final days of the preseason and then benched Luke McCown after just two starts. That was an especially poor decision, even irresponsible, given that Gabbert had a shortened offseason and wasn’t given first team reps throughout training camp and the preseason. That left him leading an offense he was not familiar with, devoid of playmakers other than running back Maurice Jones-Drew, whose offensive line has failed to develop and who feature the least talented group of wide receivers in the league. In essence, the ingredients for success were never there for Gabbert so his failure should come as no surprise. Look for Jacksonville to hire an offensive minded head coach to help salvage Gabbert and return the Jaguars to respectability on offense.

7. In Minnesota, another rookie quarterback is suffering from a lack of talent surrounding him in the starting lineup. Christian Ponder has outperformed expectations thus far in 2011 but he has been beset by injuries at running back to Adrian Peterson and at wide receiver to Michael Jenkins, a unit that was considered a weak area even with Jenkins available. In addition, dual running-receiving threat Percy Harvin has only begun to play at a consistently high level over the past few weeks and Charlie Johnson has proven himself to be nothing more than a stop gap starter at left tackle for the departed Bryant McKinnie. Look for Minnesota to spend some high draft picks on upgrading their offensive talent and providing Ponder with a better chance at success in his sophomore season.

8. With Matt Flynn a free agent at season’s end and wanting a chance at a starting position, Green Bay will be looking for a new backup to Aaron Rodgers for the 2012 season. Former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell had been on the team’s practice squad but was signed to the active roster this week when the Buffalo Bills offered him a spot on their active roster. Look for Harrell to be the frontrunner to backup Rodgers next season.

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.

Tuesday Morning Buzz – Week 13

By: — @ 11:24 am
Filed under: Player Analysis

Welcome to the Tuesday Morning Buzz! Week 13 had nary a matchup without playoff implications in the NFL or in fantasy. Many players proved why they deserved your draft pick, and many others tried to prove why they deserve attention as a waiver-wire pick-up. With varying degrees of sanity, its time to get aggressive and start dropping those bench players for long-shot starters.

If you have ever played in a Pick ‘Em league with confidence points, this game should’ve screamed, “Pick me! Pick me for 16 points!” The Seahawks were a three-point home dog against an Eagles team that is bailing water. Combine the short week, the emotional loss to the Patriots the week before, the travel distance, and the generally lackluster play, and you had a surefire bet to lose this game. The Seahawks are not a powerhouse. It’s dangerous to start looking for fantasy goodness among the 31 points scored, as 21 of them came from long runs and a pick six. I like Marshawn Lynch in Seattle against bad defenses, but I’m not too concerned about anyone else on this roster. Vick will likely come back for the Eagles next Monday, so hopefully his presence will bring some spark back to this offense as they play spoiler for the rest of the year.

In contrast to Philly–Seattle, there was plenty of fantasy goodness for the winner of this game. You saw Arian Foster get another rushing touchdown, Yates looked like he can keep the offense afloat, one tight end got a lot of targets, the other got a touchdown, and Andre Johnson nearly got a hundred yards and would’ve had a touchdown or more if he could have kept it going. Unfortunately, he has now suffered from the rare double hammy pull. According to sports news of the day, this pull is much less severe, so he may back in two weeks.

For the Falcons, their winning formula is proving unsustainable. As stated many times in this column, the Falcons’ best option is to run more than pass. However, Michael Turner has been a workhorse for this team for years and is starting to show signs of weariness. Look for one of two things to happen: either Jason Snelling will step in and be serviceable (a great start in the fantasy playoffs if so), or the Falcons will rely heavily on their passing game and miss the playoffs in a fizzling blaze of glory.

You know, Tyler Palko’s first NFL touchdown may have been the most dubious first touchdown ever in the NFL. The Bears will frequently drop Urlacher deep into coverage when expecting a Hail Mary, but I don’t think the game plan was for Chris Conte to do a street-ball denial on him. Defenders are coached to bat down balls instead of intercepting them in some cases, usually when the punt return is likely to get better field position, but I don’t think the goal was to drop it right into McCluster’s breadbasket. Speaking of McCluster’s catch, did you see him anticipate the ball? He was crouched and ready to make a play on the ball in case it was batted into the air, and an instant later Palko was somehow credited with a touchdown. Despite all this, I think the fantasy result for both teams are the same: As long as the backups are in, sit everybody but the D.

I don’t think the Bengals will make the playoffs this year, and that is ok. This was supposed to be a rebuilding season for Cincinnati, yet they have been able to compete all season long in what may be the toughest division in football. A.J. Green is the only Bengal I feel comfortable starting in a standard league, but nevertheless, this is the most impressive I have seen the Bengals look in my adult life.

For the Steelers, it was business as usual…on steroids. Rashard Mendenhall rushed for two touchdowns, Mike Wallace caught two touchdowns, and Antonio Brown caught a long bomb and returned a punt for a touchdown. Look for the Steelers to continue to roll as they try to find a way to pass the Ravens for AFC North supremacy.

Do you think one of the Titans found Bugs Bunny’s bottle of Michael’s secret stuff (See Space Jam) and gave it to CJ2K? In the blink of an eye, Chris Johnson has transformed a regrettable season into a respectable playoff run in two games. It’s unlikely that the Titans will be able to pass the Texans for a playoff bid, but they have had a season very much like Cincinnati’s in that they have performed vastly outside of their expectations. I’m starting CJ2K in all formats until something changes.

For the Bills, Steve Johnson salvaged his fantasy day with a late touchdown to keep the score respectable, but this game was all Titans in Buffalo. It’s a shame that the Bills didn’t have the lasting power or the will to win to keep up their magic from early on; I would’ve loved to see a Buffalo team that competed for 17 weeks.

As stated last week, Tim Tebow isn’t a great quarterback. However, I think he provides more of a spark to an offense than, say, a Jake Delhomme did. In case you’ve forgotten, John Fox coached the Delhomme-helmed Panthers to a Super Bowl in a very similar situation to what is now developing in Denver. Watch for the Broncos to win their division and one playoff game.

For the Vikings, Christian Ponder looked great, despite the turnovers. He hasn’t had the season of Cam Newton or Andy Dalton, but he’s embedded himself just as deeply into his franchise’s future plans. Look for Ponder to continue to improve as the season rolls along and for Harvin to become a factor in the fantasy playoffs because of it.

Feeling good with Gronkowski.

While watching this game, I wrote in my notes, “Garcon: In case you were considering, no.” Against the Pats, these Colts nearly outscored their total points of the past four weeks. However, I wouldn’t count on this kind of production again from a team that takes five weeks to score fifty points. Granted, one of those weeks was a bye, but this team has no chance this year.

For New England, nearly every point was placed on the scoreboard by a -kowski. Only Green-Ellis fought the good fight and put a stop to this kowski-dominated offense. If you own Brady or Gronkowski, you’re probably feeling good headed into your playoffs, as the Tebow are the only semi-viable challenge to the Pats’ scoring tendencies.

While watching this game, I wrote in my notes, “Housh: In case you were considering, no.” Reggie Bush, however, yes. He’s got three fantastic matchups coming up against the Eagles, Bills, and Pats. In week 17 he has to run against the Jets, but if they are out of the hunt, who knows how hard they’ll play. I wouldn’t consider Matt Moore unless you’re truly desperate; and if you’re truly desperate you probably aren’t competing in the playoffs, so maybe you feel froggy and give him a chance. I say if you’ve got nothing but pride on the line, you should go for it! Fortune favors the bold.

For the Raiders, forget this game. Don’t forget how bad the Raiders have looked over the past few weeks, however. This team sorely misses their starters, and hopefully they’ll catch a break and get McFadden back this week against a porous Green Bay defense. The Raiders are the last gasp of hope for those rooting against a perfect season for the Packers. And it would be just like the unpolished and dirty Raiders to go into Lambeau and hand the Pack an L. I’m not saying it will happen, I’m just saying that I wouldn’t be surprised.

While watching this game, I wrote in my notes, “Shonn Greene: In case you were considering, no.” Ok, so you’re catching on now: same joke, different ingredients. Despite that, it’s true. And I wouldn’t be totally surprised if Greene is unable to total this output in his remaining games. I don’t like starting any Jets, but I really don’t like Greene. There’s no way I would put my fantasy playoffs in his hands.

For the Redskins, well, I guess there isn’t no way I’d start Greene in the playoffs. If it came down to Greene or Helu, I would probably play matchups. Helu got all the carries on Sunday, but can he be started in the playoffs with Shanahan as his coach? My other options would have to be pretty awful. Helu is a great talent, but Shanahan simply enjoys lying about his running backs. He feels it gives him a competitive advantage. I want to say that Helu is a great start when the Patkowskis come to town next week, but I just can’t shake the feeling that he’ll end up with the third most carries on the team.

It’s no wonder that Cam Newton is as popular as Dubstep. He’s the real deal! He leads the league in rushing touchdowns. In fact, he has more rushing touchdowns in a single season than any quarterback in the history of the NFL, and I bet he has four or five more in him. I would start Aaron Rodgers ahead of Newton only because his team is more guaranteed to play a full 60 minutes. Look for Newton to be an epic draft prospect next year.

For the Bucs, this has been a throwaway season. If you can avoid Tampa as a whole through the playoffs, I most definitely would.

Well, Peyton Hillis returned to form this week on the stat sheet. However, five of his nine fantasy points came on one reception in busted coverage. I want to say that Hillis is going to be a great waiver-wire pick-up or buy-low candidate for the remainder of the season, but I just can’t endorse it. It is just too iffy to ever rely on a Cleveland Brown.

For the Ravens, they played on their own level instead of to the level of their opponent. For what seemed like the first time this season, they came out of the gate strong and maintained that intensity in defeat of a team that doesn’t have half their talent.

Ok, one more. In case you were considering Andre Roberts, no. At least not until his ability is proven through consecutive games. As the top teams begin to rest starters, he may be a late-season pick-up, but I wouldn’t trust him at all outside of that.

For the Boys, they are so lucky the Giants had the hateful schedule they had. I like the Cowboys. I like Tony Romo, I like Dez Bryant, and I love Demarco Murray. However, the team as a whole always seems to lack the mental toughness to bring it all home. I think the offensive stars will continue to win games for owners all the way through Week 17, but I think Romo will be playing armchair quarterback in January.

Well, Michael Crabtree and Alex Smith have transformed into a dynamic NFL duo. I won’t speculate on who is Batman and who is Robin, but I am very proud of Alex Smith. I can only hope that Jason Campbell and Matt Leinart are afforded this same chance eventually.

For the Rams, it is now complete ineptitude on offense. I think Bradford and Steven Jackson are both studs, and I think Bradford will become one of the premiere quarterbacks in the league if management can build a team around him. To be fair, I don’t think the Rams are as bad as their points-allowed stat implies, but there are at least 25 other DSTs I’d rather start.

In my estimation, Nelson and Jennings combine to form the best wide receiver duo in the NFL. Both rack up inordinate amounts of yards and touchdowns being on a team with as many options as the Packers have. Hey, hey, remember the beginning of the year when I was theorizing about which Green Bay running back you want? Oh, man! Just say that phrase out loud: “Green Bay running backs.” Sounds ridiculous.

For the Giants, I’m confident they will win their division. It’s likely that the Cowboys will classically stub their toe in one of their non-New York matchups in Week 15 or 16—my money is on Tampa Bay in Week 15. Watch for Eli Manning to save both the Giants’ season and Tom Coughlin’s career in the coming weeks.

Wow! Has the inexperience of the Detroit Lions ever been as obvious as in the past two weeks? This team simply does not know how to win. They have the talent to win, they have the coaching staff to win, but they just don’t have the mindset to win. Stupid penalty after stupid penalty, including the rarely seen contact with an official, kept the Lions in their own way. Collinsworth astutely brought up that they were unlikely to win against Brees even without the penalties, but the miscues sure didn’t help.

For the Saints, the race is on to pass San Francisco. One game back from a round-one bye, the Saints are hoping the Steelers and the hated Seahawks can put two more ticks in the loss column for the Niners. As for the New Orleans receiving corps, Meachem, Henderson, and Moore all share too much time to be trusted in the playoffs. But if you have to use one, I’d go with Moore.

P.S. I’m not going to argue with you about it, but I believe Drew Brees is the best quarterback in the NFL. I think, compared with his contemporaries, he will retire with the best career, have the best single season, and be the best quarterback of this season when it’s all said and done.

$#^% Chris Collinsworth Says
“Take it from a guy who cheated his whole career, you just can’t do it!”

Masked behind this classic admission of foul play was a great point. If you want to win in the NFL, you can’t just go around stomping on dudes and pushing refs. Just like the Raiders, these Lions lack maturity but are talented enough to be tied for first in their division.

The Chargers are always vexing, but this year’s version has been as hard to figure out as the lyrics to those NFL Play 60 commercials. What the heck are those kids saying about the bus anyway? For this night at least, the Chargers looked like the squad I picked to win the Super Bowl. With their offensive weapons healthy, they did what they wanted all game long.

For the Jags, there were signs of life, but this team has forgotten about a winning season. There may be too much upside to MJD to drop him or sit him; but I’d rather start Colt McCoy than Blaine Gabbert, and I’d rather start Pierre Garcon and have no WR2 than start any two Jacksonville receivers.

P.S. How wild is it that the top two overall picks may come to the AFC South next April?

And that’s it! Week 13 is all wrapped up. Look for your Steelers, Raiders, and Dolphins (read: Reggie Bush) to have a big Week 14. Thanks for reading, and be sure to check back next week as the fantasy playoffs get underway.

Dave’s Take: Fantasy Football Tips, News & Notes – Week 13

By: — December 2, 2011 @ 1:13 pm
Filed under: Player Analysis

1. Who knew the NFL was becoming the NBA? Hey, you want to be waived for a chance to go play for a contender, here’s your pink slip. First up was Kyle Orton being waived by the Broncos last week, paving his way to join the Kansas City Chiefs. This week, it is Sage Rosenfels and Donovan McNabb hitting the waiver wire with Rosenfels likely headed to Houston and McNabb possibility on his way to Dallas, where the Cowboys have concerns about Jon Kitna as their top backup quarterback. Frankly speaking, this practice is unfortunate and it is very likely that the league will correct this issue as soon as one of these late season releases ends up tilting the balance of power in a playoff race or in the playoffs.

2. Keeping with that theme, let’s go around the league and do a quick hit on the various quarterbacking situations that are looking quite muddy due to numerous injuries over the past couple of weeks. In Houston, rookie T.J. Yates is in but the Texans signed Jake Delhomme and are likely to put in a waiver claim for Rosenfels. Head coach Gary Kubiak says the Texans will rally around Yates and that sounds about as hollow an endorsement as you will find. Look for Yates to be on an extremely short lease and it won’t be a surprise if Rosenfels is under center by season’s end, provided the waiver process lands him in Houston.

3. In Kansas City, head coach Todd Haley is inexplicably standing by Tyler Palko although Palko is splitting reps on about a 60/40 basis with Orton. This proves that there is stubborn, but at a point stubborn becomes stupid. Haley’s insistence on starting Palko is an example of the latter. Palko’s arm strength is negligible, his running prowess was overstated (two carries for minus six yards in his two starts) and he has been a turnover machine (seven in two starts with six interceptions). With no touchdowns and just four field goals in his two starts, Palko has not been able to generate any kind of offensive rhythm for the Chiefs or even a big play to get them in scoring position. In a must win game this week against the Bears, it will shocking if Orton isn’t under center by the second quarter.

4. Down in Arizona, the Cardinals are set to hands the quarterback duties back to Kevin Kolb. While Kolb has been a huge disappointment after coming over in a trade with Philadelphia, backup John Skelton proved in his four starts that he is not yet ready for prime time. Skelton compiled a 3-1 record in those games but it’s fair to say that the Cardinals won more in spite of him than because he was solid. His lack of accuracy resulted in seven interceptions over the last three games and two of his wins came against the lowly Rams. The Cardinals will spend the balance of 2011 figuring out what they have in Kolb, who needs to display better accuracy and decision-making to prevent Arizona from spending a pick in the upper rounds in this year’s draft on a quarterback.

5. Over in Indianapolis, it was interesting to hear that the Colts will hand the quarterback reins over to Dan Orlovsky to turn around their 0-11 season. This is the same Dan Orlovsky who lost all seven of his career starts in 2008 for the Detroit Lions, a team that finished that year 0-16 in becoming the first (and only) NFL team to fail to win a game. So, what does Orlovsky bring to the table for Indianapolis? Let’s just say he’s experienced in going 0-16.

One more snap in Indy?

6. Sticking with Indy, quarterback Peyton Manning was advised by doctors that his neck is healing properly and that he should be ready to resume his career, almost certainly in 2012. The team has said that Manning is being kept on the active roster so that he can practice with the team prior to the end of the season. However, with the Colts expected to have the number one selection in the rookie draft, a roster that has numerous veteran free agents such as Reggie Wayne, Jeff Saturday and Robert Mathis and Manning due $28-million prior to the start of the league’s 2012 year, perhaps there is a chance that Manning is being kept on the active roster so that he can go under center for one final play to end his career with the Colts. Given the state of the team’s roster and quarterback Andrew Luck’s availability at the top of the 2012 draft, it would seem imprudent for the Colts to re-sign their veteran free agents, pay Manning his bonus and keep Luck as a backup while attempting to win the Super Bowl over the next two years. There is precedent for Manning going under center for one play. Isaac Bruce was finishing his career with the 49ers in 2009 as a game day inactive but dressed in the team’s final game as a starter, playing one play before calling it a day. Such a scenario would give Indy fans one final chance to salute a player who single-handedly made the team a perennial playoff and Super Bowl contender and will go down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, player to ever play the game.

7. On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles chose to spend heavily on their trio of Pro Bowl quality cornerbacks and along the defensive line and if there was ever a game that showcased the fallacy of this strategy, it was Thursday’s night loss to the Seahawks. Facing a determined running back in Marshawn Lynch, the Eagles linebackers failed to bring him down on several runs and compounding the problem was the play of the team’s safeties, who also missed several tackles and took horrendous angles. While Lynch is having perhaps the best stretch of games of his career, the Eagles used several eight-man fronts to slow him down last night but to little avail. The scheme was right but the fading Eagles simply don’t spend their cap in a manner to make it work.

8. Sticking with that game, it is now safe to conclude that Eagles quarterback Vince Young will not have the career renaissance that Michael Vick experienced after joining Philadelphia. Young’s poor decision making was on display several times as were his poor mechanics which resulted in a number of poorly thrown passes.

9. The Jack Del Rio era came to a crashing halt this week in Jacksonville as the Jaguars fired Del Rio and promoted defensive coordinator Mel Tucker to interim head coach. In nine seasons with the Jaguars, Del Rio compiled a 68-71 record and took the team to the playoffs twice, compiling a 1-2 record. However, he failed to win a division title and goes down as the longest tenured coach with one team that failed to accomplish that feat. Del Rio will likely be remembered most for his handling of the team’s quarterback situation, twice choosing to release an incumbent starter mere days prior to opening day (Byron Leftwich in 2007 and David Garrard this season), a move that other teams have rarely if ever, made.

10. The much-maligned Patriots defense has struggled against both the run and pass for much of this season but is reputedly getting stronger as the playoffs approach. Don’t believe it. While New England has improved to 12th against the run, they remain the league’s worst ranked pass defense and there is a quick explanation for both rankings. Over the past three weeks, the Patriots have faced struggling quarterbacks, starting with the Jets Mark Sanchez in Week 10, Vince Young of the Eagles in Week 11 and Tyler Palko of the Chiefs last week. They have played with a large lead in all contests, forcing their opponents to eschew the run for the pass. Up next are Dan Orlovsky (Colts), Rex Grossman (Redskins), Tim Tebow (Broncos) and Matt Moore (Dolphins). That’s good fortune folks, but the Patriots task will get much more difficult in the playoffs.

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