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.