1. If there was ever any doubt that Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is no ordinary rookie, he proved it last night at the end of Indianapolis’ 27-10 dismantling of the Jaguars. With the game in hand in the 4th quarter, Luck rolled out and took off running before sliding and taking a hard shot from Jacksonville safety Dawan Landry, which drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty. With his teammates in a lather, Luck quickly hopped up and directed them back to the huddle before accepting Landry’s apology for the hit. If that wasn’t enough, he topped 20 fantasy points for the ninth time in ten games this season, throwing for a subpar 227 yards but rushing for two touchdowns, giving him five on the season. Despite lacking a proven threat opposite Reggie Wayne, injury issues at running back, a leaky offensive line and two rookies atop the depth chart at tight end, Luck is on pace to finish the season with just under 4,700 passing yards and 18 touchdown passes.
2. Sticking with the Colts, Wayne was expected to leave via free agency prior to the season but chose to stay in Indianapolis, a somewhat surprising decision especially considering the team’s struggles in 2011. However, he chose to stick around and is on pace for a career year in 2012. Coming off eight straight seasons with at least 70 receptions and 1,000 yard receiving seasons in seven of those years, Wayne is on pace to finish the season with career highs in receptions (123) and yards (1,655). Here’s to Wayne for not bailing on the Colts and being rewarded for staying to play for a rebuilding franchise that was expected to struggle with a rookie quarterback.
3. The Steelers backfield has been a fantasy mess this season as Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer have all taken turns in the starting lineup. Dwyer looked like a solid bet to maintain the lead back role after consecutive 100-yard rushing efforts in Weeks 8 and 9. Then Redman had a career game in Week 10 with Dwyer out with an injury, gaining 147 yards and a touchdown on the ground. However, it appears that Mendenhall will take over in the starting lineup as soon as he is ready to play. Despite Mike Tomlin’s comments this week that the Steelers would go with the hot hand at running back, both Dwyer and Redman as well as the team’s running backs coach, Kirby Wilson, have stated at various times this season that the starting job is Mendenhall’s due to his superior speed, power and agility. Don’t overpay for Redman or Dwyer in the hopes that they can fill a hole at running back on your fantasy roster.
4. With the sale of the Cleveland Browns finalized, it appears that Pat Shurmur’s run as the team’s head coach will come to an end once the season is over. New owner Jimmy Haslam III is expected to change directions at head coach as he looks to put his stamp on the organization. While Shurmur has hardly been overly successful, the bottom line is that he has been severely handcuffed by a roster devoid of talent at the skill positions in 2011 and at wide receiver and along the offensive line in 2012. Barring a miracle turnaround by rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden and strong development at wide receiver from Greg Little and Josh Gordon, Shurmur will almost assuredly be looking for work in 2013.
5. Dynasty leaguers might want to take note of the performance of third year Redskins tight end Logan Paulsen, who has hauled in 13 of his 20 targets for 178 yards over the past three weeks. Incumbent starter Fred Davis was lost for the season due to a torn left Achilles’ tendon and he may not return to the team for the 2013 season. Davis received the franchise tag this past offseason as the team preferred locking him up under a one-year deal rather than securing his services with a long term contract extension. While Davis played reasonably well, his off the field issues could cause the team to once again shy away from offering him a long-term deal, especially if Paulsen continues to play well.
6. 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree is coming off perhaps the best game of his four-year career and could be in line for a strong finish to the season. In a Week 8 win over the Cardinals, Crabtree badly outplayed Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson, catching all five of his targets for 72 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Crabtree regularly got separation from Peterson and also looked good running after the catch. With a Week 9 bye behind him, Crabtree faces a number of plum matchups over the next several weeks before facing a sturdy Seahawks pass defense in Week 16. Up next for the 49ers are the Rams (17th ranked pass defense), Bears (15th), Saints (28th), the Rams again, the Dolphins (29th) and Patriots (28th). While Crabtree has been up and down this season, his strong performance against Peterson coupled with a great schedule make him a must start over the next six weeks.