It was another wild week both in the NFL and for fantasy owners. Here’s a recap of every game in the Tuesday Morning Buzz.
Bengals – Dolphins
Andy Dalton went over 325 yards passing for the fourth straight game but was responsible for four turnovers and didn’t throw a touchdown pass. It wasn’t the performance those (like me) who inserted the red-hot Dalton into their fantasy lineups were looking for. It’s hard to blame Dalton though. He was under heavy pressure all game long and Mohamed Sanu can’t catch. Giovani Bernard had his “up” game by totaling 104 yards and scoring twice, including one amazing 35-yard run. Bernard hurt his ribs but it doesn’t really matter if he plays next Sunday against Baltimore anyway. That’s scheduled to be Bernard’s “down” week when the Bengals’ coaches refuse to give him the ball. Speaking of getting the ball, Miami’s coaching staff is finally giving it to Lamar Miller more and he responded with his first 100-yard game. Miller could be big for fantasy owners down the stretch if he continues to get more than 10 carries per game.
Chiefs – Bills
Doug Marrone is doing a tremendous job in his first year with the Bills, but a coach can only do so much when a team gets down to their 10th quarterback. Buffalo fought again and almost upset the undefeated Chiefs, but two touchdowns by the opportunistic Kansas City defense did in the Bills. C.J. Spiller returned from an ankle injury and racked up 116 yards on 12 carries. If Spiller could ever stay healthy he would be a fantasy beast, but that’s a big if. Fred Jackson chipped in with 77 yards on 16 carries. It’s becoming evident that under Marrone the Bills can run the ball on pretty much any defense with pretty much any quarterback under center. Dwayne Bowe caught seven passes for 67 yards. In the old days Bowe owners would be mad over that output. Now they’re doing backflips.
Titans – Rams
Fantasy owners were waiting for Chris Johnson to have a monster game. All it took was for him to play the Rams. You have to wonder why last week against St. Louis Seattle only ran the ball eight times with Marshawn Lynch. Johnson ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. If I owned Johnson I would trade him right now. Not only is this likely to be his best fantasy game of the year but Shonn Greene also saw nine carries for 38 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. I would shop CJ to a team desperate for RB help. Not to be outdone, Zac Stacy recorded 178 total yards and two touchdowns. Stacy has really saved my butt in one league where I needed running back help. Stacy was tough as nails in college and he showed that toughness again last week by battling through an ankle injury to put up big numbers.
Chargers – Redskins
You can’t beat the Chargers if you’re looking for an entertaining game. San Diego plays a nail-biter virtually every week, and Sunday was no different. One week after infuriating Alfred Morris owners by allowing Roy Helu to steal two short touchdowns, Mike Shanahan found a way to outdo himself by letting Darrel Young score two from short range. Morris still had 125 yards and a score but he could have had a huge day if not for Young vulturing those two short touchdown runs. Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead continue to be weekly fantasy monsters in San Diego’s offense. The two combined for 17 receptions for 205 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. The only receiver not really doing anything for the Chargers right now is Vincent Brown, as Eddie Royal scored his seventh touchdown of the season against Washington.
Falcons – Panthers
One of the biggest surprises of the 2013 season has been the play of the Panthers’ defense. Ron Rivera has Carolina’s defense playing at an elite level after the Panthers created four more turnovers on Sunday. To say Matt Ryan is struggling without Julio Jones and Roddy White would be an understatement. Ryan has now thrown seven interceptions in his last two games. We found out one thing with Johnathan Stewart returning to the Panthers’ backfield: It’s a big mess. Stewart had nine carries for 43 yards, DeAngelo Williams had 13 carries for 42 yards, and Mike Tolbert had six carries for 24 yards and a touchdown. The Panthers’ system works fine for real football but it’s a headache to avoid for us fantasy owners.
Vikings – Cowboys
It’s big news in Dallas when Monte Kiffin’s defense doesn’t allow a 400-yard passer. I suppose if Kiffin allowed Christian Ponder to throw for over 400 yards, even he would have to admit that he can no longer coach. Although, if you do the math, Ponder throwing for 236 yards is like a real NFL quarterback throwing for 400. One thing DeMarco Murray owners might want to do is pick up Lance Dunbar. I told you a couple of weeks ago that Joseph Randle was average, and when he got a chance to play he did nothing to prove otherwise. Dunbar isn’t a superstar, but if Murray gets hurt again he’ll provide more fantasy value as a receiver out of the backfield than Randle. Troy Aikman compared Cole Beasley to Wes Welker. The media should just tell us the one white receiver who isn’t Wes Welker and make it easier on everyone.
Saints – Jets
It was the Jets’ week to win, and the Saints walked right into the buzzsaw. I used to gamble a ton of money and my friends still do. It’s amazing how dumb gamblers are sometimes. My friends all bet New Orleans, despite knowing that the Jets are an every-other-week team. At least their bookie is happy. Chris Ivory ripped his former team for 139 yards and a score. Ivory has really been running well, and if he can stay healthy the former Saint will be in for some big games over the final two months of the season. I’m going to draft Jimmy Graham in the first round next year even if I have the first pick. I just can’t take the risk of playing against this guy anymore. Graham must have 300 fantasy points against me the last three years. If you can’t beat him, draft him. That’s should cool his butt off once and for all.
Eagles – Raiders
A couple of weeks ago I joked that Nick Foles looked so bad against that awful Dallas defense that maybe Mike Vick “persuaded” him to play poorly so there wouldn’t be a quarterback controversy in Philadelphia. After watching Foles play on Sunday I’m not so sure that’s a joke. Going back to last season Foles has looked pretty good in almost all of his starts. Now after Sunday’s amazing 406-yard seven-touchdown performance, Foles has thrown 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions this season. Yet he had that one atrocious performance against the team that ranks last in the NFL defending the pass. Go figure. Foles obviously loves throwing to Riley Cooper. In the three games Foles has started, Cooper has 15 receptions for 347 yards and four touchdowns. Hey, doesn’t Cooper remind you of Wes Welker? I would mention that Darren McFadden hurt his hamstring again, but that’s like saying the sky is blue.
Buccaneers – Seahawks
This game went the way most people predicted. The winless Bucs came into Seattle, took a 21-point lead, and then the Seahawks had to storm back just to edge a win in overtime. Seattle has some issues right now. The main one being that their defensive front has been pushed around by inferior teams over the last two games. Mike James ran for 158 yards on 28 carries. The Bucs couldn’t use James much in his first start because they fell behind early. That still might be a problem going forward, but if Tampa Bay can stay in games, James will be a solid fantasy option. For the time being, fantasy owners no longer have to be afraid of their running backs going up against the once-feared Seattle defense.
Ravens – Browns
Jason Campbell put together his second straight impressive start, throwing for 262 yards and three touchdowns. That’s the good news; the bad news for fantasy owners is that Campbell honed in on Greg Little this week. My guess is that not many people started Little. Unlike last week, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron didn’t have a big impact with Campbell under center, but the bottom line is that he’s playing well. It’s getting tough to watch Ray Rice. I predicted he would be the biggest bust of the fantasy season. I’m now predicting he’ll be retired by 2015. You can say what you want about the Ravens’ offensive line, but I started noticing it last season: Rice is about done. You can’t just blame the offensive line when a running back is constantly going for 20 yards a game. Some of the blame has to go on him, too. Next year will be Rice’s last season in Baltimore. Mark it down.
Steelers – Patriots
I predicted it would happen. I said the second I benched Tom Brady he would get out of his funk, and he did. So let me explain what’s going on here. Last week I had Andy Dalton on the bench. This week I started Dalton and had Brady on the bench. So, astonishingly, I had a QB that scored 46 fantasy points sitting on the bench in back-to-back weeks. Brady owners should be thanking me because I took one for the team here. I knew he was just waiting for me to bench him before he ripped a defense for 432 yards and four touchdowns. I like when Phil Simms—who is by far the worst analyst of all-time—said of Jerricho Cotchery, “The next team that plays the Steelers is going to have to pay attention to this guy.” I bet you they don’t pay attention to him, Phil. I bet they pay attention to Antonio Brown, Heath Miller and Emmanuel Sanders instead. Teams don’t have to worry much about a receiver that has two big games a year. Dynamite drop-in, buddy.
Colts – Texans
Case Keenum looked really good for the second straight game, throwing for 350 yards and three touchdowns. The Colts made some adjustments in the second half but Keenum was still getting the ball out to his playmakers instead of throwing to seven different tight ends like Matt Schaub does. Andre Johnson must be happy. He had more production in a half with Keenum than he’s had all season with Schaub. T.Y. Hilton exploded in his first game without Reggie Wayne. Is there some reason why offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton couldn’t get the ball to Hilton more when Wayne was healthy? Trent Richardson scored his usual seven fantasy points. What is he ranked now? Like the 42nd highest scoring fantasy RB this year? Listen, the Colts play St. Louis next week. If Richardson can’t run all over them then he has no reason to get out of bed in the morning. He already embarrassed himself against Jacksonville. If we add the Rams to that list, I’m not sure what’s left for him.
Bears – Packers
The big story from this game was the Aaron Rodgers’ injury. At the time this was being published we don’t know how long Rodgers will be out but his injury certainly didn’t look good. Speculation is that he will miss three weeks. It’s obviously a huge blow to any fantasy owner who owns Rodgers. I have been shocked before but if Seneca Wallace can lead the Packers’ offense I will be shocked. He’ll get a start but my guess is Green Bay will have to bring in another quarterback. Like I said, I’ve been shocked before. At least Wallace has some weapons at receiver and he can hand the ball off to Eddie Lacy 30 times a game. Josh McCown looked good filling in for Jay Cutler but reports say Cutler will be back next week. We know the Bears’ offense won’t suffer much if Cutler gets hurt again because McCown can run Marc Trestman’s offense.