Fantasy Football Strategy, Advice, and Commentary
By: Doug Orth — November 18, 2013 @ 10:15 am
Note: Fantasy highlights are from the early Sunday games.
Poor weather was the theme of the day in several NFL cities in Week 11, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise that a player named Bobby Rainey – on his third team of the season after getting cut by the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns – poured it on in the Tampa Bay Buccaners’ blowout win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Rainey – the fourth Bucs’ running back to see significant work in a game this season after Doug Martin and Mike James suffered season-ending injuries – shredded the Falcons for 167 total yards and three touchdowns.
As Rainey dominated the ground on a clear day in Tampa, WR Vincent Jackson ruled the air with 10 catches for 165 yards and a touchdown against the hapless Atlanta defense. In two games against the Falcons this season, Jackson has 20 receptions for 303 yards and three scores. In his other eight games combined, he has 36 catches for 524 yards and two scores.
The box score will suggest that Atlanta QB Matt Ryan (254 yards and two touchdowns) and WR Harry Douglas (six receptions for 134 yards and a score) had their way against the Bucs, but most of that production came after Tampa Bay was leading by 32 points late in the third quarter. WR Roddy White (three catches for 36 yards) even found the end zone for the first time this season in garbage time – something the Falcons and fantasy owners of players like Ryan, Douglas and White should get used to down the stretch.
Elsewhere in Week 11:
Antonio Brown was the beneficiary of Big Ben’s big day.
– While Bucs-Falcons lacked any hint of drama over the last 2 ½ quarters, the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers lit up Heinz Field with offensive fireworks in less-than-ideal conditions. Pittsburgh WR Antonio Brown (seven catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns) enjoyed most of his success in the first quarter and QB Ben Roethlisberger (367 yards and four scores) sealed the deal with two fourth-quarter touchdown passes. Meanwhile, Detroit QB Matthew Stafford (362 yards and two touchdowns) and WR Calvin Johnson (six receptions for 179 yards and two TDs) did virtually all their damage during a 27-point second-quarter explosion.
– Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer toyed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, throwing for 419 yards and two touchdowns. WR Larry Fitzgerald (six catches for 61 yards and a TD) and TE Rob Housler (six receptions for 71 yards) each pleased their fantasy owners, but Michael Floyd (six catches for a career-high 193 yards) stole the show with a 91-yard touchdown catch that broke the game open.
– Several fantasy defenses had a field day in the early wave of games, particularly the Cincinnati Bengals in one of the contests that was affected greatly by heavy rain. Over a 1:54 stretch of a franchise-record 31-point second quarter in their victory over the Browns, Tony Dye returned a blocked punt for a touchdown and Vontaze Burfict recovered a fumble for another score. All told, the Bengals forced four turnovers and tallied four sacks.
– QB Nick Foles (298 yards passing) had a great matchup on tap this week against the Washington Redskins, but wasn’t really needed as the Philadelphia Eagles held a 24-0 lead midway through the third quarter. Foles saved his day with 47 yards and a touchdown on the ground, but Philadelphia leaned more heavily on RB LeSean McCoy (77 yards rushing, 73 yards receiving and two total touchdowns).
– Backup quarterbacks were all the rage in Houston, where it was anticipated the Texans’ Case Keenum would continue his unlikely rise from third-string signal-caller. Instead, Keenum (170 yards and a touchdown) was benched for Matt Schaub in the fourth quarter and watched fellow undrafted free agent QB Matt McGloin (197 yards and three scores) of the Oakland Raiders tear apart Houston’s top-ranked pass defense. WR Rod Streater (six catches, 84 yards and a TD) was his favorite target, although both players got plenty of help from RB Rashad Jennings, who rushed for a career-high 150 yards and a touchdown.
By: Dave Stringer — November 16, 2013 @ 11:43 am
Kap is struggling without Crabtree.
1. In San Francisco, the 49ers are anxiously awaiting the return of wide receiver Michael Crabtree to the lineup. Tight end Vernon Davis suffered a concussion early during the team’s Week 10 loss to the Panthers, leaving quarterback Colin Kaepernick with a group of unproven receivers outside of Anquan Boldin and Mario Manningham, who was playing in his first game since tearing both his ACL and PCL in December of last season. With Crabtree and Manningham both out of the lineup, Kaepernick has struggled during his second season as the team’s starting quarterback, failing to throw for 200 yards in seven of nine games. With Crabtree in the lineup last season, Kaepernick topped 200 receiving yards in nine of his ten starts. Unfortunately for Kaepernick owners, the 49ers have not put a timetable on Crabtree’s return and there are no guarantees that when he returns he will be the player he was at the end of last season when he had solid chemistry with Kaepernick and was playing at a Pro Bowl level. A torn Achilles’ tendon is a significant injury for a wide receiver and it is unlikely that Crabtree will return to Pro Bowl form at any point this season.
2. Another team with issues at wide receiver is the Kansas City Chiefs. A schedule littered with back up quarterbacks and key injuries to their opponents has helped the Chiefs start the season with a 9-0 record. With a key showdown against the Denver Broncos on tap for Week 11, Dwayne Bowe, the team’s top wide receiver, was arrested this week for speeding and possession of marijuana. One of the league’s most talented receivers, Bowe’s lack of maturity was the key reason behind the Chiefs reluctance to sign him to a long term contract after the 2011 season. They chose to place the franchise tag on him for the 2012 season before signing him to a five-year, $56-million contract prior to this season. Their reward has been the least productive season of his seven-year career as he has just 33 receptions for 369 yards and a pair of touchdowns. While some of that decline is explained by the conservative style of quarterback Alex Smith, the Chiefs can’t be too pleased to be paying Bowe over $11-million per season and for him to be on pace to finish with less than 800 yards receiving. His troubles this week aren’t likely to help his team in Denver or help him get on track in 2013.
3. The Vikings travel to Seattle this week to play the Seahawks and there is a good chance that former Viking Percy Harvin will make his Seahawks debut. While Minnesota received solid value in return for Harvin (1st, 3rd and 7th round draft picks), they enter the game with major issues not only at quarterback, where Christian Ponder has failed to assert himself as a solid starter, but also at wide receiver where Greg Jennings, signed in the offseason to replace Harvin, has struggled, Jerome Simpson has continued to disappoint and rookie 1st round pick Cordarrelle Patterson remains very much a work in progress. Jennings is a poor fit with a checkdown artist like Ponder at quarterback and Patterson is so raw that he is unlikely to contribute much even in 2014. It seems clear that Harvin was an excellent fit in Minnesota, especially with Ponder under center. Meanwhile, in Seattle, Harvin has yet to see the field after undergoing hip surgery at the beginning of training camp. Fortunately for the Seahawks, the struggles the 49ers have endured have allowed them to open up a two and a half game advantage in the NFC West. Otherwise, they might very well be regretting this trade.
4. With Donald Brown asserting himself in the Colts backfield on Thursday night (94 yards and a touchdown on 15 touches) and continuing his run of solid production over the team’s last seven games (421 total yards and four touchdowns in a backup role while averaging 9.4 PPG), Indianapolis will have an interesting dilemma at the running back position during the 2014 offseason. Brown’s rookie contract expires at the end of the season, making him a free agent. After the trade for Trent Richardson, it seemed clear the Colts intention was to use him as their starter in 2014 with Vick Ballard, out for the season with a torn ACL, in reserve. That scenario left Brown on the outside looking in but his strong play, coupled with Richardson’s massive struggles (3.0 yards per carry average and no games with more than 60 yards rushing as a Colt) could result in his return. That wouldn’t bode well for Richardson’s already rapidly declining dynasty league value.
5. It seemed a foregone conclusion when Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was lost for the season with a torn ACL in late July that he would re-sign with Philadelphia in the offseason. While Maclin has never fulfilled the potential many thought he had after being taken in the 1st round of the 2009 draft out of Missouri, the Eagles lack of a solid option behind DeSean Jackson signalled Maclin would return in 2014. However, the recent strong play of Riley Cooper increases the Eagles options at the wide receiver position as well as reducing Maclin’s negotiating leverage. While Cooper is also a free agent, his contract demands are likely to be much more modest than those of Maclin, who may need to sign a prove it contract to return to Philadelphia.
6. With the fantasy playoffs around the corner, it is time to review the upcoming schedule for your key performers and one player who seems likely to be in for a rough ride is Chargers running back Ryan Mathews. After a solid matchup this week against the Dolphins, the Chargers face the Chiefs, Bengals, Giants, Broncos and Raiders. While Mathews has actually played well in recent weeks when given an opportunity, this slate of games spells trouble since the Chargers figure to be playing from behind plenty and Mathews rarely sees the field on passing downs (just eight receptions on the season) and is only used sporadically at the goal line. He rates as a RB3 over the remainder of the season so unless you are in a flex league, he should likely be on your bench.
By: Dave Stringer — November 12, 2013 @ 8:14 pm
Russell Wilson, Seahawks
It has been an inconsistent year for the Seahawks’ second-year quarterback but he seems to be clicking on all cylinders with the fantasy playoffs just around the corner. With his 287-yard, two-touchdown passing performance this week, Wilson has now thrown for 878 yards and nine touchdowns over his last four games. Did we mention help is on the way in the form of one Percy Harvin? A couple of caveats: Seattle has a Week 12 bye and the schedule shows some tough passing defenses between now and Week 16.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers
Anybody hoping to ride Kaepernick through the fantasy playoffs is asking for trouble. The 49ers’ signal caller has topped 200 passing yards just twice in nine games this season and he just lost tight end Vernon Davis to a concussion. Until Mario Manningham or Michael Crabtree get up to speed, the 49ers don’t have any receivers that gain much separation, at least until Davis returns.
Andre Brown, Giants
I reminded you last week that Brown was returning to the Giants lineup and would likely emerge as an RB2 over the balance of the season. I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. Sure enough, Brown was given a massive workload, carrying the ball 30 times for 115 yards and a score. The Giants face run defenses ranked 13th or lower over the next five weeks before they head to Detroit to face the Lions’ eighth-ranked run defense in Week 16.
Bobby Rainey and Brian Leonard, Bucs
Mike James is out indefinitely with a fractured ankle so these guys get the Moving Up treatment, but the truth is that I wouldn’t trust either of them. Leonard is a solid pass receiver out of the backfield but he is ill equipped to handle lead back duties. Rainey had a solid stat line this week with eight rushes for 45 yards and a score to go along with an 11-yard reception. However, he didn’t have the look of a true lead back and we have no way of knowing if the Bucs trust him in pass protection.
Shane Vereen, Patriots
It is a light week for RBs in the Moving Up category so let’s make note of the fact that Vereen is eligible to return to the Patriots’ lineup this week. He will assume the pass-catching role and eat into Stevan Ridley’s rushing attempts as soon as he is ready. Since he’s a Patriot, we have no idea when that will be.
Mark Ingram, Saints
A first-round pick in the 2011 draft, Ingram this week finally had his first 100-yard rushing performance, carrying the ball 14 times for 145 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys. Lo and behold, he also caught a pair of passes for 15 yards. Yeah, it all happened in a blowout win, but at least it happened. Maybe he will emerge as a flex play in larger leagues as the season winds down.
Steven Jackson, Falcons
Even though the Seahawks run defense was like a sieve for the last couple of weeks, SJax couldn’t take advantage of them this week, carrying the ball nine times for 11 yards. The truth is that he doesn’t appear to be fully recovered from the hamstring injury that sidelined him in Week 2.
C.J. Spiller, Bills
Hey, Spiller could have a monster game this week against the Jets’ league-leading run defense. He’s here because you never know what the Bills coaches have in store for him. After a solid 14-touch, 155-yard game against the Chiefs solid defense, Spiller had just 11 touches this week for 34 yards, with Fred Jackson getting 15 touches.
Andre Ellington, Cardinals
Remarkably, after missing two games, Rashard Mendenhall had 14 touches this week to just 13 for Ellington. Mendenhall averages 3.4 yards a touch and Ellington averages 7.7. If this isn’t proof that the Cardinals view Ellington as nothing more than a change-of-pace, receiving back, then I don’t know what is.
Riley Cooper, Eagles
Cooper gets the Moving Up treatment for the consecutive weeks courtesy of his three-reception, 102-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Packers. That gives him six touchdowns in his last five games, during which he has recorded at least 88 yards four times. He’s a WR2 the rest of the way, folks.
Tavon Austin, Rams
Has Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer finally figured out how to use Austin? Or was Austin’s two-reception, 138-yard, two-touchdown performance this week just a fluke? No and no. Austin was targeted just three times on the same plays the Rams have been running for him all year, but his speed and elusiveness cannot be discounted. Sure, he’s Moving Up, but with just 14 targets over his last five games, you shouldn’t expect consistent production.
18 targets for Jeffery in Week 10.
Alshon Jeffery, Bears
Just in case you haven’t noticed, Jeffery has been on fire of late with double-digit fantasy points in five of his last six games. He was targeted a whopping 18 times this week, hauling in nine receptions for 114 yards. Over his last six games, Jeffery has 34 receptions for 631 yards and three touchdowns.
Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Seahawks
Kearse went three for 75 and a score this week while Baldwin had five receptions for 76 yards. Last week, both players had double-digit fantasy points. Unfortunately, some dude named Percy Harvin is expected to return to the Seahawks lineup in Week 11.
Rishard Matthews, Dolphins
Let’s face it, the Bucs did a poor job covering Matthews. But, hey, the kid looked good, hauling in 11 of his 14 targets for 120 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Sure, he had just ten receptions coming into the game, but Matthews showed that he has enough talent to succeed. With Brandon Gibson out for the year and Brian Hartline struggling to replicate his 2012 success, Matthews could be a solid flex play in larger leagues.
Vincent Jackson, Bucs
Jackson hasn’t found the end zone for three consecutive weeks and put up his second straight dud this week. He has just ten receptions for118 yards over the Bucs’ last three games despite being targeted 25 times.
James Jones, Packers
Since returning to the lineup in Week 9, James has five receptions for 61 yards, and the quarterback situation in Green Bay is a mess.
Greg Jennings, Vikings
Speaking of quarterback messes, how about the Vikings? Jennings just might be wishing he was still in Green Bay. He has ten receptions for 101 yards in his last three games. This guy is still capable of making big plays but he needs somebody who can get him the ball down the field.
Nate Washington, Titans
Washington seemed ready to emerge after a pair of solid games in Weeks 3 and 4 but it has been all downhill since then. He hasn’t scored since Week 4 and he has topped 60 receiving yards in just one of the Titans’ last five games. He put up an O-fer in Week 9 and followed that up with a three-reception, 29-yard performance this week against the Jaguars’ lowly pass defense.
John Carlson, Vikings
Back from the dead, we present John Carlson. With Kyle Rudolph out for four to six weeks with a broken foot, Carlson stepped up this week, catching all seven of his targets for 98 yards and a touchdown. He was also targeted a healthy six times in Week 9. After the coming game against the Seahawks, the Vikings face four straight passing defenses ranked in the lower half of the league.
Tyler Eifert, Bengals
Eifert, one of the Bengals’ first-round picks in this year’s draft, has had a disappointing rookie season so far but may be on the verge of turning that around. Although he only hauled in three receptions for 55 yards this week, he was targeted ten times. He could emerge as a low-end TE1 with that kind of usage.
Vernon Davis, 49ers
Davis left this week’s game against the Panthers with a concussion and will need to go through the league’s concussion protocol before he can return to action. With the fantasy playoffs around the corner, Davis owners will need to add a quality backup.
By: Thomas Casale — November 11, 2013 @ 11:42 pm
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.
Redskins – Vikings
This game featured a lot of offense, in large part because both defenses are awful. Alfred Morris owners can’t catch a break…sort of. Morris has had three strong games in a row, but after losing short touchdown runs to Roy Helu and Darrel Young the last two weeks, Morris got skunked again when Logan Paulsen caught a one-yard touchdown pass. At least this time there was only 10 seconds left in the half. Robert Griffin had another big fantasy game in a loss, targeting Pierre Garcon and tight end Jordan Reed a combined 19 times. For Minnesota, Christian Ponder was playing well against Washington’s Swiss cheese defense before hurting his shoulder. John Carlson had a big game filling in for the injured Kyle Rudolph, catching seven passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. That will likely be Carlson’s best game of the year unless he gets to play Washington’s defense again.
Brown quickly became a workhorse.
Raiders – Giants
So much for Andre Brown being eased back into action with a few touches. Brown carried the ball 30 times for 115 times and a touchdown. I picked him up in one of my leagues a while ago because I knew those tomato cans Peyton Hillis and Brandon Jacobs were just stop-gaps, but not even I thought Brown would get 30 carries in his first game back. This is great news for his owners moving forward, until he gets hurt again in three weeks. Terrelle Pryor has had his moments this year, but you can tell over a 16-game span whether a guy can play quarterback in the NFL. Now that Pryor has played a while, it looks like the Raiders may still need to draft a quarterback. Pryor has played better than I expected overall, but he doesn’t look like the long-term answer in Oakland.
Seahawks – Falcons
The Seahawks hadn’t been playing well the last two weeks and needed a cure. They got it in a Falcons team that may be playing the worst football in the NFL right now. Marshawn Lynch blasted the woeful Atlanta defense for 145 yards and a score. Russell Wilson and Golden Tate also had big days, as Seattle basically did whatever it wanted. Roddy White started but only caught one pass for 20 yards on four targets. My boy Darius Johnson caught his first career touchdown pass, but overall the Falcons are a fantasy disaster to avoid right now.
Bills – Steelers
Some games are ugly. They look ugly, they feel ugly, they sound ugly and the fantasy stats from them are ugly. This was one of those games. Unless you started Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell or the Steelers’ defense, there wasn’t much to like about this game. Brown caught six passes for 104 yards, while Bell totaled 96 yards and a touchdown. Other than that it was a mix of good defense and bad offense. Mostly, it was bad offense.
Bengals – Ravens
There were a lot of bad things in this game. There was atrocious offensive line play. There was bad quarterback play. It’s hard to blame Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton for everything because they were under a lot of pressure and the wind was blowing hard, but even their easy throws were way off. Not to be outdone, Ray Rice continued to try and run the ball. Rice has now been held to less than 50 yards rushing in seven of eight games this year. No one in their right mind is still starting Rice, are they? That would be as crazy as starting Trent Richardson. Two guys you can start are Giovani Bernard and A.J. Green. Green’s stats were helped out by that crazy Hail Mary at the end of the game. So were Dalton’s miserable stats. Remember when Dalton had that red-hot three-game stretch? Don’t worry, neither does anyone else.
Lions – Bears
God knows I’m not right all the time. However, when I was really high on Alshon Jeffery this summer, one thing people kept saying is that he wouldn’t get enough targets. I admit, with Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte ahead of him at the time, it was a concern, but I thought Jeffery still had the talent to catch 70 balls and top 1,000 yards this year. I guess after seeing 18 targets on Sunday those concerns now seem silly. Jeffery and Brandon Marshall are now one of the most feared receiving tandems in the NFL. The good thing about them is that it doesn’t matter if Jay Cutler or Josh McCown is under center. Personally, I think McCown should be playing right now. Cutler is hurt and McCown is doing a great job of leading the offense. The Lions had their usual target distribution. Megatron saw 17 and the rest of the team saw a combined 17.
Eagles – Packers
Last week I mentioned that Seneca Wallace couldn’t play and that the Packers would have to find another option at quarterback. I didn’t think it would be so soon. Wallace hurt his groin and Green Bay had to turn to Scott Tolzien. To be honest, my guess is that Tolzien performed better than Wallace would have. Tolzien went from the practice squad to throwing for 280 yards, so he could offer some hope if he remains the starter. He got the ball to Green Bay’s receivers. Jarrett Boykin went over 100 yards, while Jordy Nelson and James Jones combined for 10 receptions, so there were some positives for fantasy owners to take away from this game. On the Eagles’ side, the love affair between Nick Foles and Riley Cooper continued. Cooper went over 100 yards for the third time in four of Foles’ starts and caught two more touchdowns. I once said I never saw Riley Cooper catch a pass. I didn’t realize that was Mike Vick’s fault.
Rams – Colts
This has to be the most shocking outcome of the season. Not only that the Rams beat the Colts but that they dominated them from start to finish. How many people are going to put in ridiculous waiver requests for Tavon Austin this week? Austin caught two passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored on a 98-yard punt return. You know what though? Looking at it from a fantasy perspective, he was only targeted three times in the passing game and he caught two passes. Is he going to score from 81 and 57 yards every week or do you think that was more of a fluke? Hey, Trent Richardson rushed for five yards on two carries. Is he still an RB2? You know what, he is a RB2. He’s a RB2 on the Indianapolis Colts.
Jaguars – Titans
I must be the biggest jinx on the planet. I’m already on Tom Brady’s Christmas card list. After finally benching him he exploded for 46 fantasy points. Then after declaring Jacksonville would go 0-16, they win their next game. Oh well, at least I got 17 fantasy points out of Maurice Jones-Drew. But why am I watching Jordan Todman score? I’m telling you, fantasy football is more frustrating than gambling sometimes. Jake Locker is hurt again. Can we cross him off the list yet? Seriously, the guy is either hurt or playing below average. The entire world knew Minnesota and Tennessee reached for Locker and Christian Ponder in the 2011 draft. Let’s admit it and move on.
Panthers – 49ers
As fantasy owners we love offense, but sometimes it’s nice to see a great defensive game. There’s a big difference between a bad offensive game and a good defensive game and this was the latter. The Panthers sacked Colin Kaepernick six times and caused two turnovers, while San Francisco got to Cam Newton four times and also caused two turnovers. Carolina held the 49ers to under 200 yards of total offense and really harassed Kaepernick all afternoon. There weren’t many offensive fantasy statistics to take away from this game other than the Carolina backfield committee being in full effect. Jonathan Stewart got 13 carries for 41 yards, while DeAngelo Williams got eight carries for 46 yards and a touchdown. The only surprise was that Mike Tolbert saw just two carries.
Broncos – Chargers
When Julius Thomas scored on a 74-yard pass early in the game I thought it was Demaryius because they look almost identical on the field wearing the numbers 80 and 88. When I saw it was Julius I was so mad I started looking at possible trades for Demaryius. Then seven catches, 108 yards and three scores later from Demaryius, I reconsidered and decided he could stay on my fantasy team. It’s frustrating owning Bronco receivers sometimes though. I own Wes Welker in another league and I thought he got hurt. Speaking of spreading the ball around, Philip Rivers spread it around so much on Sunday he pretty much killed everyone’s fantasy value. In the future, just throw the ball to Keenan Allen and be done with it.
Texans – Cardinals
The Mad Bomber Case Keenum had a tougher time this week against an aggressive Arizona defense but he still managed to throw for three touchdowns. As I’ve said in the past, the best thing about Keenum is he gets the ball to Houston’s receivers. Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins combined to see 23 targets, catching 11 passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns against a stingy Cardinals pass defense. Andre Ellington continues to impress but the Arizona coaches continue to waste time by giving Rashard Mendenhall 13 carries. That almost came back to bite them in the butt because Mendenhall’s late fumble nearly cost the Cardinals a win.
Cowboys – Saints
Jerry Jones hired Monte Kiffin to fix the Cowboys’ defense. Let’s see how he’s doing. Dallas has allowed an NFL record four 400-yard passers this year (Drew Brees almost made it five by throwing for 392). The Cowboys set a franchise record for most yards allowed in a game (623) against Detroit, only to break that record two weeks later versus New Orleans (626). The Saints recorded an NFL record 40 first downs on Sunday night. Hey, that’s a heck of a hire Jerry Jones. The Saints lit up Kiffin’s defense, but if you couldn’t see that coming you’re probably not the most observant person on the planet. The Dallas defense is such a joke it made Mark Ingram look like Adrian Peterson. Dez Bryant caught one pass. It just goes to show that not all the bad coaches in Dallas are on the defensive side of the ball.
Dolphins – Buccaneers
Even when things go well for the Buccaneers they go bad this year. Tampa Bay got its first win of the season but lost running back Mike James with a fractured ankle. The Bucs are now down to Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey at running back. Leonard will probably get first crack at replacing James and could be a decent fantasy play because of his receiving skills but he’s nothing special as a runner, that’s for sure. Rainey was a great college player at Western Kentucky, so he could sneak in there if Leonard keeps looking like Trent Richardson. Rishard Matthews had a career night catching 11 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns. I thought the Bucs had an interesting defensive scheme to stop Matthews. They decided to leave him wide open all night long. Week 10 will be known as “Waiver Wire Bust” week this year. There were a bunch of players that had ridiculous weeks that we’ll likely never hear from again.
By: Dave Stringer — November 5, 2013 @ 8:00 pm
What a difference a week makes.
Nick Foles, Eagles
Seven touchdowns are what most pundits expected Foles would throw for a full season, or half of one. Not one game. But that is what Foles did this week against the Raiders. He needed just 28 attempts to throw all those touchdowns while accumulating 406 yards through the air. His performance should give him a stranglehold on the starting job over the remainder of the season, but remember that just two short weeks ago he was nothing short of awful against the Cowboys.
Tom Brady, Patriots
It’s not often you discount a performance against the Steelers defense, but that is where we are at with the underperforming Pittsburgh squad. After throwing for just two touchdowns in his last four games, Brady found the Steelers’ porous pass defense to his liking, throwing for 432 yards and four touchdowns. With both Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola healthy, perhaps Brady is ready to elevate his game. I’m not ready to make that proclamation just yet, but things are looking a whole light brighter than they did a week ago.
Case Keenum, Texans
Keenum knows his bread is buttered by Andre Johnson and was smart enough to go to him often this week on his way to 20 of 34 for 350 yards and three touchdowns against the Colts. While it wasn’t enough to secure a Texans victory, it was almost certainly enough to earn him more starts ahead of Matt Schaub.
Geno Smith, Jets
You surely weren’t riding the Smith train this season, but if you have him as your backup, you might want to look for an upgrade. Despite scoring rushing touchdowns in two of his last three games, Smith has averaged just 15.8 fantasy points per game over that span. With the Jets turning to the running game, Smith has throw for 233, 159 and 115 yards over his past three games, with just one touchdown pass and three interceptions. It appears as though the Jets are dialing down the passing offense as the season progresses, not expanding it.
Zac Stacy, Rams
Cue the Alfred Morris comparisons. After a very good performance last week against a stout Seahawks run defense (134 yards on 26 carries), Stacy was even better this week against the Titans with 178 total yards (127 rushing, 51 receiving) and a pair of touchdowns on 33 touches. With the Rams’ offensive line jelling, Stacy looks like a candidate to break out in the second half and carry some fantasy squads to the promised land. It’s probably too late to grab him in most leagues, but if there is an owner out there who doesn’t believe, then make your move. It never hurts to ask.
Mike James, Bucs
First off, let’s clear up the notion that the Seahawks have one of the league’s top run defenses. At the moment, they certainly don’t. Rams rookie Zac Stacy ran over them last week (134 rushing yards), and James, another rookie, ran over them this week (158 yards). James isn’t the most talented running back but seems to get what is blocked and isn’t averse to running defenders over. The only caveat here is that the Bucs are often trailing, and that takes away some of his fantasy appeal.
Andre Brown, Giants
Just a reminder that Brown is expected back this week and the Giants face run defenses ranked 16th or worse between Weeks 12 and 16. He will apparently get a set package of plays this week against the Raiders, with his role expanding over the balance of the season. There is a good chance that Brown will emerge as an RB2 given the lack of talent on the Giants depth chart at running back.
Chris Johnson, Titans
Johnson scored his first touchdown of the year this week against the Rams. Woo hoo. Then he added another on his way to a 150-yard performance, his first 100-yard rushing performance of the season. That’s the good news. That bad news is that Shonn Greene appears to be fully healthy and had nine rushes this week, including a short-yardage touchdown. With CJ2K, the glass is always half empty.
Rashad Jennings, Raiders
When Darren McFadden left this week’s game against the Eagles, Jennings took over and had his most productive game as a Raider, with 15 carries for 102 yards and a score. He also chipped in seven receptions for another 74 yards. Look for McFadden to miss at least a game or two, leaving Jennings to benefit from the soft run defenses that await. Up next are the Giants (10th-ranked run defense) followed by the Texans (18th), Titans (26th), Cowboys (16th), Jets (1st), Chiefs (24th) and Chargers (23rd).
Lamar Miller, Dolphins
Thanks a lot, Mike Sherman and Joe Philbin. Right after I buried Miller, the Dolphins increased his workload. In each of the last two weeks, he has had at least 20 touches and more than 100 total yards. The touchdowns still aren’t there (just two on the season), but if he keeps up this workload, they will start appearing.
DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert, Panthers
With Jonathan Stewart back in the lineup, the Panthers running back situation is a fantasy mess that you want to avoid. Stewart had 12 touches this week (65 yards) to Williams’ 15 (54 yards) while Tolbert had nine (37 yards). Ugh.
Eddie Lacy, Packers
This one falls into the “maybe” category, but if quarterback Aaron Rodgers is out for an extended period, Lacy will likely see plenty of eight- and nine-man fronts. While he has been a beast over the last five weeks with 545 rushing yards and three touchdowns, he doesn’t have a hope in hell of maintaining that with Seneca Wallace (or maybe Matt Flynn?) under center.
Darren McFadden, Raiders
Run-DMC hasn’t been very good this season (3.6 YPC and just 85 receiving yards) and, once again, is proving how brittle he is. He came out this week against the Eagles after re-aggravating a hamstring injury that slowed him down earlier this season and caused him to miss the Raiders game against the Chargers in Week 5. He will likely miss more time, and that’s unfortunate given Oakland’s favorable run matchups over the next several weeks.
Andre Johnson, Texans
As noted above, rookie starter Case Keenum was smart enough to go to AJ early and often this week, with Johnson hauling in nine of his 13 targets for 229 yards and three touchdowns, his first scores of the year.
Aaron Dobson, Patriots
Moving Up. Again. I told you in my Week 7 Dave’s Take that Dobson was the Patriots rookie WR to have, and he has left fellow rookie Kenbrell Thompkins in his dust since then. This week, Dobson topped 100 receiving yards for the first time, with 130 yards and a pair of touchdowns on his five receptions. The Patriots passing offense has struggled thus far in 2013, but it might not be a bad idea to gamble on them turning it around.
Riley Cooper, Eagles
Who knows, maybe time lessens the pressure of making a complete ass of yourself. No matter how you cut it, Cooper turned in a career-best performance this week against the Raiders with five receptions for 139 yards and three touchdowns. Cooper doesn’t usually generate much separation, but he was solid this week and is averaging six targets per game over the Eagles’ last four games. He just might emerge as a low-end WR3 over the balance of the season.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts
No surprise here as Hilton emerged as the Colts’ top wide receiver with Reggie Wayne out for the year. The Indy coaches could talk Darrius Heyward-Bey up all they want, but Hilton was clearly the player with more upside. While Hilton is hardly a complete player at this stage of his career (he has caught only 52.2 percent of his targets this season), he figures to emerge as Andrew Luck’s go-to guy, and his seven-reception, 121-yard, three-touchdown performance this week went a long way to securing that honor.
Lance Moore, Saints
Nothing special this week with six receptions for 70 yards, but the 10 targets were nice. Also, there are no assurances that tight end Jimmy Graham will remain healthy, that Darren Sproles (concussion) will be ready for next week or that Marques Colston will be effective when he returns to the lineup after struggling for most of 2013. That spells opportunity for Moore.
Cecil Shorts, Jaguars
With Justin Blackmon out for the year, Shorts is once again the Jaguars top wide receiver, and he has been productive filling that role over the last year and a half. He rates as a mid-tier WR2 over the last half of the season.
Stephen Hill, Jets
Hill appeared to be on the verge of a breakout season, with 13 receptions for 233 yards and a score during the first three weeks. He has fallen off the face of the earth over the last six games, however, with just 10 receptions for 107 yards. Did he pee in Geno Smith’s or Marty Mornhinweg’s corn flakes? Inquiring minds want to know. With Santonio Holmes out this week and Jeremy Kerley injured early in the game, Hill had only one target, which he failed to bring in.
Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Jarrett Boykin, Packers
Another bunch of maybe Moving Downs. If Rodgers is out, Nelson becomes an upper-tier WR2, Jones becomes an upper-tier WR3 and Boykin becomes a major question mark (he had just one target this week).
Greg Olsen, Panthers
Nothing too exciting going on at TE this week, so Olsen gets the Moving Up treatment. After his four-reception, 66-yard, one-touchdown performance this week against the Falcons, he has touchdowns in consecutive weeks and is on pace to better his career year from last season when he finished with 69 receptions for 843 yards and five touchdowns.
Jordan Cameron, Browns
Cameron has cooled down considerably since his hot start to the season. After four games, he had piled up 30 receptions for 360 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 10.8 targets per game. In the five games since, he has 20 catches for 240 yards and a score (just 5.8 targets per game). I’ll do the math for you: 16.5 PPG to 6.0. Opposing defenses have focused more on him and his production is suffering.
By: Thomas Casale — @ 9:31 am
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.
Spiller showed some explosiveness, but the ankle is still an issue.
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.
By: Doug Orth — November 3, 2013 @ 10:21 pm
Note: Fantasy highlights are from the early games only.
For the second time in three weeks, Washington, D.C. was front and center for a plethora of fantasy points and more frustration for Alfred Morris owners. It’s not as if the second-year back had a poor day with a season-high 121 rushing yards and a touchdown, but FB Darrel Young played the vulture role that backup RB Roy Helu Jr. enjoyed in Week 7 with three short scores against the soft interior of the San Diego Chargers defense.
Washington WR Pierre Garcon (seven receptions for 172 yards) has caught at least five passes in every game this season, but his yardage and touchdown totals have disappointed for most of the season. While Garcon was kept out of the end zone for the fourth straight game, he made up for it with a career-high yardage total. Redskins rookie TE Jordan Reed (four catches for 37 yards; 18 yards rushing) saw his a recent string of quality fantasy performances snapped after a quick start in Week 9, but his status as an every-week starter remains unchanged.
Chargers WR Keenan Allen (eight receptions, 128 yards and a touchdown) continued to prove why he should remain a fixture in fantasy lineups for the rest of the season. Over his last four contests, the third-round selection out of California posted at least 100 yards receiving and a touchdown three times. San Diego QB Philip Rivers (341 yards passing, two touchdowns and two interceptions) had a rare inefficient performance, but most owners will be happy to put up with such numbers in an “off-game” from one of the top five quarterbacks in fantasy this season.
Other Week 9 fantasy highlights:
- New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham (nine catches, 116 yards and two touchdowns) continues his contract-year push and assault on the NFL record books despite playing through a partially torn plantar fascia in a loss to the New York Jets. The former college basketball player is one touchdown short of his career high for a season (11) through eight games and easily on pace to break Rob Gronkowski‘s single-season record of 17 with the New England Patriots in 2011.
- Two of the bigger disappointments at running back over the first half of the season began the process of making amends to their fantasy owners in Week 9. Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson (170 total yards and two scores) broke the century mark for the first time this season and scored his first two rushing touchdowns as well against the St. Louis Rams. Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller (155 total yards) has been dogged by a high-ankle sprain for most of the season and was still clearly affected by it against the Kansas City Chiefs, but still broke loose for runs of 29 and 61 yards.
- There was a time earlier in the week when Rams RB Zac Stacy appeared unlikely to play and backup Daryl Richardson had a shot to be relevant in fantasy. By the time Sunday rolled around, the roles reversed and Stacy erased what little doubt remained about his feature-back status with 27 carries for 127 yards and two touchdowns against the Titans. The fifth-round rookie entered the contest with only seven receptions, but caught six passes in one of the finer fantasy performances by a running back during the early wave of games.
- The Minnesota Vikings may not know who their starting quarterback is from week to week, but the focal point of the offense doesn’t figure to change anytime soon. RB Adrian Peterson (177 total yards and a rushing TD) nearly matched his rushing totals from the last three weeks combined with 140 yards against the Dallas Cowboys. In the same game, Dallas TE Jason Witten (eight catches, 102 yards and a touchdown) proved why owners cannot bench QB Tony Romo‘s main target no matter how long he comes up a bit short in the box score. Witten had an inconsistent first half last season as well, only to set a league record for receptions by a tight end with 110.
- Quite often in fantasy, being opportunistic in a given week is just as important as being good. Such was the case for the Chiefs, who were outgained 470-210 against the Bills. Kansas City made up for its shortcomings with defense as CB Sean Smith intercepted Buffalo rookie QB Jeff Tuel at the goal line in the third quarter and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown. LB Tamba Hali scooped up a fourth-quarter fumble from Bills WR T.J. Graham and added a second defensive score from 11 yards out.
By: Dave Stringer — November 1, 2013 @ 1:45 pm
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Michael Vick’s days in Philadelphia are numbered.
1. In Philadelphia, quarterback Michael Vick’s latest injury could sound the death knell for his career as an Eagle. Less than a quarter into his return from a hamstring injury suffered in Week 5, Vick reinjured his hamstring, proving once again how unreliable he has become during the later stages of his career. He has failed to appear in all 16 games since the 2006 season and has missed 19 games, and parts of several others, over the past four and a half seasons. The odd part of this situation is that Vick’s only hope to return in 2014 depends on how Nick Foles performs over the remainder of the season. If Foles plays well to convince the team’s management that he is their quarterback of the future, then the team could look to bring Vick back in a backup role. However, if Foles struggles, the Eagles will almost certainly look to the 2014 draft to find their future starter.
2. Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon hasn’t had an easy go of it in his rookie season and his job is about to get even tougher with the news that starting wide receiver Mike Williams will miss the rest of the season with a hamstring injury. The Bucs have been without running back Doug Martin since Week 7 and there is no definitive time set for his return. Journeyman Tiquan Underwood, who had a career year in 2012 with 28 receptions for 425 yards and two touchdowns, will replace Williams in the starting lineup. Underwood lost his third receiver role to Kevin Ogletree to open the season but won it back when Ogletree was released. Behind Underwood are four 1st or 2nd year players that have combined to catch 12 career passes. Fortunately, the Bucs appear to have hit on tight end Tim Wright, who figures to see plenty of targets with Williams out. With 181 attempts in Glennon’s first four starts, offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan has proven that he isn’t averse to relying heavily on the passing game.
3. Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne tore his ACL in Week 7 and was placed on season-ending injury reserve last week. The Colts will look to promising 2nd year player LaVon Brazil, David Reed and Griff Whalen to fill Wayne’s role. With Wayne out, it will mark the first time since late in the 1998 season that Indianapolis will field a lineup without Wayne or his former running mate Marvin Harrison. Not only have the Colts had stability at the all important quarterback position, they have also been blessed to have it at wide receiver.
4. In Carolina, running backs DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert have had reasonably solid fantasy production over the first seven games of the season with Williams chalking up 588 total yards and one touchdown and Tolbert chipping in 252 yards and five touchdowns. However, look for that to change with the return of Jonathan Stewart to the lineup this week against the Falcons. A return to their respective roles last season seems likely, with Stewart and Williams sharing the early down work and Tolbert subbing in on passing downs and in short yardage situations. This is a situation to avoid unless you are looking for flex options in larger leagues.
5. After racking up a career high 147 targets in 2012, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten has just 56 targets thus far in 2013, putting him on pace to finish the season with 112. That would mark his lowest number of targets since the 2006 season and the question has to be asked if Father Time is catching up to the Cowboys 31-year old tight end. Entering his 11th year in the league, Witten has a lot of tread of his tires but a closer look reveals there is a reason for his lack of targets. Running back DeMarco Murray was injured in Week 6 and his absence has allowed opposing defences to focus on Witten. His targets have dropped from an average of 8.6 over the first five games of the season to just 4.3 over the Cowboys last three games. Look for that to change when Murray returns to the lineup, as early as this week, making Witten an excellent buy low opportunity if you are in the market for an upgrade at tight end.
6. Mea culpa. Just six short weeks after ripping the Browns for their decision to jettison running back Trent Richardson from the roster just over a year after making him the 3rd overall selection in the 2012 draft to the Colts for a 2014 1st round pick, we are now likely at the point where we can conclude the Browns knew best. Richardson has been nothing short of ordinary in Indianapolis, failing to top 60 rushing yards in his five games as a Colt while averaging a paltry 3.0 yards per carry. While the Colts clearly hoped that Richardson’s presence would force opposing defences to respect the run, allowing for more single coverage on their receivers, that hasn’t been the case. Given Richardson’s lack of explosiveness, look for him to share the role with impending free agent Donald Brown over the remainder of the season and with Vick Ballard in 2014.
7. Rams rookie running back Zac Stacy has put together an impressive four game run with 75 carries for 344 yards including this Monday night’s impressive 26 carry, 134-yard performance against a stout Seahawks run defense. However, his fantasy upside appears to be limited based on the poor performance of the Rams offensive line in short yardage situations. St. Louis has yet to score a rushing touchdown in their eight games. Not helping matters going forward is that Harvey Dahl, the team’s top guard, suffered a knee strain the Seattle game and will miss several weeks. While Stacy has upside in keeper formats, he is best left as a depth player over the balance of the 2013 season.
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