Fantasy Football Strategy, Advice, and Commentary
By: Thomas Casale — December 10, 2013 @ 7:54 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.
Texans – Jaguars
The Texans’ 11th straight loss ended up getting Gary Kubiak fired. The good news is that Houston is now in the capable hands of Wade Phillips. Wow, a team that has lost 11 games in a row and has quit on the season being led by Wade Phillips. I set the over/under for players being at practice at 20. Houston may be struggling but Andre Johnson is still a force. He caught 13 passes for 154 yards on an absurd 21 targets. It came at a perfect time for owners that needed Johnson in the first round of fantasy playoffs. Maurice Jones-Drew left with a hamstring injury late but not before he went for over 100 yards on just 14 carries. Jacksonville has struggled covering the tight end all year and Garrett Graham took advantage by seeing 14 targets. Graham finished with eight catches for 73 yards and a score. He has now seen 47 targets through his last four games.
Raiders – Jets
Marcel Reece got the last-minute call to start when Rashad Jennings wasn’t cleared to play because of a concussion. Reece rewarded owners like me who inserted him in their lineups by racking up 161 total yards and scoring on a 63-yard run. Rod Streater also had a big game for Oakland, catching seven passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. Streater has emerged as the Raiders’ most consistent fantasy receiver this season. The Jets scored 37 points, which are more than they’ve combined for in about a month. Things went so well for the Jets on Sunday that even Ed Reed had an interception.
Andy Dalton’s big day came at just the right time.
Colts – Bengals
Andy Dalton had one of his five big fantasy days of the season, throwing for 275 yards and accounting for four touchdowns. And it came just in time for owners who started him in the first round of the playoffs. Giovanni Bernard just missed a 100-yard rushing day, while BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored twice. One week after realizing that Trent Richardson can’t play, the Colts did the same with Darrius Heyward-Bey. Although, to be fair, Richardson is Adrian Peterson compared to Heyward-Bey. Andrew Luck found chemistry with two young receivers on Sunday. Da’Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill combined for 160 yards and four touchdowns on nine receptions. I would recommend picking both guys up, but who knows what that idiot Pep Hamilton is going to do next week. He’ll probably want to run the fullback more.
Lions – Eagles
In what was the best of many snow games, the Lions and Eagles proved they could put up points in any conditions by combining for 54 in a blizzard. LeSean McCoy ran over the Lions’ defense for 217 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately for Reggie Bush owners, he didn’t run over anyone. Bush was dealing with a calf injury all week and then slipped in pre-game warmups. He never played a down and no doubt cost many owners a win. Joique Bell filled in for Bush and put up 127 total yards and a touchdown, although he did lose two fumbles in the snowy conditions. Brent Celek cost Nick Foles another touchdown because he slid down with less than 2:00 to go and the Eagles up by 14. Next time just score and do a snow angel.
Dolphins – Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger continues to have a strong fantasy season. He threw for 349 yards and three touchdowns, rewarding owners who started him in the playoffs. Lamar Miller left the game early with a concussion and Daniel Thomas took advantage by rushing for 105 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Antonio Brown had another huge game. He saw only five targets but caught all of them for 137 yards and a score. Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery also had touchdown receptions. It was Cotchery’s ninth of the season. Brown would have had another score on one of the craziest plays in NFL history but stepped out of bounds by two inches on the final play of the game.
Browns – Patriots
It’s really amazing how many bad teams choke against the Patriots. Don’t get me wrong, Tom Brady and New England deserve a lot of credit for coming back, but this was a game the Browns had to win. They dominated for much of the way and still lost. Then again, it’s hard when you’re playing against the officials too. What would happen if the Patriots played Notre Dame in Notre Dame? Would the refs just never throw a flag? Jason Campbell threw for 391 yards and three scores, Josh Gordon went for over 100 yards in the fourth straight game and Jordan Cameron caught nine passes for 121 yards and a score, yet the Browns still came up short. That’s because of Tom Brady and Shane Vereen. Brady threw for 418 yards and two touchdowns, while Vereen caught 12 passes for 153 yards and scored a rushing touchdown. Owners who dropped Vereen earlier this season must really be kicking themselves. The other big story from the game is the injury to Rob Gronkowski, who is out for the season with a knee injury. In my league where I had a bye, I’ve now lost Gronk, Reggie Wayne, Julio Jones and Justin Blackmon. It’s amazing I had a bye.
Chiefs – Redskins
I can’t fathom why teams still want to hire Mike Shanahan as their coach. Is he going to bring John Elway with him? Do you realize that since 2006 Shanahan has a record of 48-61? Even last year he needed a miracle run to avoid another losing season. Reports surfaced last week that Shanahan cleaned out his desk at the end of last season. Well, after Sunday’s 45-10 demolition, I have a feeling he’s going to be cleaning out his desk again. Don’t worry though because another team will be dying to hire him so they can go 7-9. The guy is the biggest fraud in the NFL. For most of the year it’s been good to own Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs’ defense. That was the case again on Sunday. Charles ran for 151 yards and scored twice, while Kansas City’s defense/special teams recorded six sacks, caused two turnovers and scored two touchdowns of their own.
Vikings – Ravens
In a game that featured one of the wildest final two minutes ever, the Vikings and Ravens scored four touchdowns over that span. The big story from this game besides the amazing finish was the injury to Adrian Peterson. Peterson left early with a foot injury, no doubt killing the chances of many fantasy owners. For those who survived, I’ve mentioned a couple of times that Toby Gerhart should be owned in all leagues by Peterson owners as insurance for the playoffs. However, now he has a “tweaked” hamstring, so his status for next week is up in the air as well. Cordarrelle Paterson has really been coming on and he torched the Ravens for 141 yards and a score. Dennis Pitta made an impact in his first game back, catching six passes for 48 yards and a touchdown. If you lost Rob Gronkowski, Pitta is a guy you should be targeting this week as a replacement. He looked pretty good, especially considering the conditions he played in.
Falcons – Packers
I was trying to think about what to write about this game but I realized I just don’t care anything about it. Can you believe that? This is a game that was supposed to feature two Super Bowl contenders but instead it ended up being a matchup only gamblers and fantasy football owners cared about. To make matters worse, owners of Aaron Rodgers didn’t even care about it. Even the guys who scored—Drew Davis and Andrew Quarless, for instance—were meaningless. Eddie Lacy ran for 65 yards and a score. Roddy White seems to be back. He had his second good game in a row with eight receptions for 74 yards. That’s about it though. Then after thinking this game was meaningless, I realized the NFC North is so bad that if Rodgers comes back next week the Packers will probably win the division. That Jim Schwartz is doing one hell of a job in Detroit.
Bills – Buccaneers
I guess the Bills are hoping the offseason gets here a little faster than the Bucs, because for a team that’s been pretty competitive this year, they didn’t have a lot in the tank against Tampa Bay. Last week I joked that Bobby Rainey’s big day was because he was playing against Atlanta’s awful rush defense. After I sent in the column I thought to myself, “Damn, he plays the Bills next week.” Well, Rainey did run over the soft Bills’ rush defense for 127 yards and a touchdown. The Bucs don’t have a soft rush defense, as C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson found out. The two combined for just 34 yards on 16 carries. EJ Manuel and Mike Glennon have had some good games this year but this wasn’t one of them. The two looked like rookies on Sunday, combining for six interceptions.
Titans – Broncos
It looked for a while like the Broncos might be in trouble, but then Peyton Manning and the offense got cranking and hung 51 points on Tennessee. Manning threw for another 397 yards and four scores, as he’s almost single-handily helping some owners to a fantasy title this year. Montee Ball had another good game, running for 77 yards and a score. Ball had 15 carries and Knowshon Moreno had 14. It stinks for Moreno owners because it’s coming at the worst time for them, but we officially have a committee in the Broncos’ backfield as Denver tries to keep Moreno fresh for the postseason. Matt Prater capped off a wild Sunday by kicking an NFL record 64-yard field goal.
Rams – Cardinals
Well, it’s not your week when you play against Larry Fitzgerald in the playoffs and he catches 12 of 12 targets for 96 yards and a touchdown. Not one ball thrown in the dirt? To make matters worse I also went against the Arizona defense, which racked up four sacks, caused two turnovers, got a safety and scored a touchdown. Andre Ellington and Rashard Mendenhall both scored. Zac Stacy found the end zone as well but was held to just 25 yards on 14 carries by the stout Cardinals’ rush defense. Stacy should have a much better outing next week versus New Orleans, if you’re still alive in your league.
Giants – Chargers
For all the crap Geno Smith is taking in New York, Eli Manning has thrown just as many interceptions. I guess the difference is that Eli has won two Super Bowls. While Giants fans will tell you none of Manning’s interceptions are his fault, the bottom line is that he’s played terrible this year. Sunday was more of the same, as his passes sailed and he threw two more interceptions. He would have thrown a third but it got called back. Philip Rivers is on the other end of the spectrum. He’s had a bounceback season. Rivers threw three more touchdowns on Sunday, two to sensational rookie Keenan Allen. Allen has been a savior for both the Chargers and my fantasy team.
Seahawks – 49ers
You know, I love Russell Wilson, but doesn’t he need to have a good game against San Francisco once in his career before we put him in the Hall of Fame? For all the talk about him being a borderline MVP candidate, you have to play your best against the best defenses before you get put in that category. There weren’t many fantasy studs from this game. Frank Gore went over 100 yards but didn’t score. Marshawn Lynch was held below 100 yards but did score. I mean, when Luke Wilson is the big fantasy performer from the game, that’s all you need to know.
Panthers – Saints
The Panthers came in with the league’s best defense but it got sliced and diced by Drew Brees Sunday night. Brees threw for 313 yards and four touchdowns, two each to Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston. Cam Newton was bottled up all game long until a late touchdown pass to Steve Smith. One of the things I was noticing watching the Panthers is they run the ball well but they don’t have a running back. Their best rusher is Newton. Jonathan Stewart is always hurt, DeAngelo Williams is average and Mike Tolbert is more of a specialty back. So the Panthers have three running backs but they need to draft a running back. Carolina gets a chance for revenge in two weeks but they’ll need to play a lot better than they did on Sunday if they want to even the score at home.
Cowboys – Bears
Monte Kiffin did it again. There have been three games this year when a team hasn’t punted and two have been against Dallas, including Monday night’s game. Kiffin is the worst coach on the planet. You can insert whichever first name you want, either Lane or Monte, but the worst coach in the world’s last name is definitely Kiffin. If you started Josh McCown he rewarded you with 348 yards and five total touchdowns. Matt Forte went over 100 yards and Alshon Jeffery continues to be a monster. Tony Romo threw three touchdown passes but only 104 yards. DeMarco Murray ran for 146 yards against the worst rush defense in the NFL.
By: Dave Stringer — December 3, 2013 @ 10:28 pm
Brady’s coming on at just the right time.
Tom Brady, Patriots
Since I pounded him when he was down, it is only fair that Brady get the Moving Up treatment this week. He threw for 371 yards and a pair of scores against the Texans, giving him a solid 1,443 yards and 10 touchdowns over the Patriots’ last four games. Can you say heating up at just the right time?
Tony Romo, Cowboys
When I go to the FFToday.com stat page and load up the average PPG for quarterbacks over the last three weeks, Romo is sitting as the 28th-ranked QB with 15.5 PPG. Up next are the Chicago Bears and a run defense that is struggling, so don’t expect a big game out of Romo in Week 14.
Donald Brown, Colts
The Colts finally did the obvious, benching Trent Richardson in favor of Brown. While Brown wasn’t spectacular, he was solid with 64 total yards and a score. The matchup this week isn’t great with the Bengals on tap, but you can likely bank on double-digit fantasy points in Weeks 15 and 16 against the Texans and Chiefs.
Adrian Peterson, Vikings
Could AP finally be at 100% after suffering through groin and hamstring injuries as well as having to deal with a tragic personal matter? He ran roughshod over a suspect Bears run defense, chalking up 211 yards on 35 carries. That gives him 357 yards over his past two games, with the Ravens, Eagles and Bengals up next.
C.J. Spiller, Bills
It’s a similar story with C.J. Spiller, who had his best game of the season this week against the Falcons with 157 yards and a score on 17 touches. After a tough matchup against the Bucs, he gets a pair of softies in the Jaguars and Dolphins.
Steven Jackson, Falcons
Another running back seemingly hitting his stride at an opportune time is the Falcons’ Steven Jackson. It took a soft Bills run defense but he finally got untracked this week, totaling 84 yards and a pair of scores on 23 carries. One game doesn’t make a run, mind you.
Rashard Mendenhall, Cardinals
You know what? After looking completely unimpressive in his first nine games as a Cardinal, Mendenhall has looked half decent over the last two weeks. He had 54 yards and a score on 13 carries against the Colts in Week 12 to go along with a 24-yard reception. This week, he looked even better against the Eagles, tallying 76 yards on 18 carries. He gets a soft Rams run defense in Week 14.
Lamar Miller, Dolphins
With Daniel Thomas out of the mix, Miller got the lion’s share of the work this week and the results were, not surprisingly, mixed. Against a stout Jets run defense, he managed just 72 yards on 22 carries. The sledding gets a little easier with the Steelers, Patriots and Bills on tap.
Trent Richardson, Colts
From Browns savior, to Browns retread, to Colts savior, to warming the bench. In a year and a half, no less. That is impressive. Or not impressive. Or maybe astounding. Or maybe just plain sad.
Stevan Ridley, Patriots
Healthy scratch. That makes Ridley a complete gamble with the fantasy playoffs starting up this week. Don’t overthink this one.
Josh Gordon, Browns
Moving Up two weeks in a row, and why not? You earn that distinction when you become the first player in NFL history to have consecutive 200-yard receiving performances. Over the past two weeks, Gordon has 24 receptions for 498 yards and three touchdowns. That’s just criminal. His fantasy owners are hoping that he can continue that hot streak over the balance of the season.
Alshon Jeffery, Bears
After a disappointing, injury-plagued rookie campaign, Jeffery has laid waste to any thoughts that he wasn’t worthy of being taken in the second round of the 2012 draft. With his 12-reception, 249-yard, two-touchdown performance this week, he went over the 1000-yard mark and sits at 1,109 with four games to go. Heck, he’s even carried the ball at least once in his last eight games.
Eric Decker, Broncos
After four less-than-stellar performances, in which he totaled just 13 receptions for 170 yards, Decker awoke from his slumber this week and absolutely torched the Chiefs with a number of big plays in crucial situations. And you can bet your bottom dollar that quarterback Peyton Manning took notice. The seemingly forgotten man in the Broncos receiving corps hauled in eight receptions for 174 yards and a nifty four touchdowns. Not bad for a player who is usually the third or fourth option in the Broncos passing attack.
Roddy White, Falcons
I’ve had Roddy penciled in to be Moving Up ever since he returned from an ankle injury, but it has taken him a few weeks to earn it. He did that this week with 10 receptions for 143 yards against the Bills, and he moves into must-start status for the fantasy playoffs.
Michael Floyd, Cardinals
After a pair of 100-yard outings (a combined13 receptions for 297 yards and a score against the Jaguars and Colts), Floyd was solid again this week with five receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown. He isn’t generating a lot of pub and that’s pretty much because he has just four touchdowns on the season. However, he is on pace to finish the season with 1,164 yards and is likely going to be ranked as a solid WR2 in 2014.
Jordy Nelson, Packers
No touchdowns in his last five games and just six receptions for 74 yards in his past two. And there are reports that the Packers are considering shutting quarterback Aaron Rodgers down for the rest of the season.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts
Hilton just isn’t ready for primetime as the Colts’ leading receiver. Since Reggie Wayne was lost for the season, Hilton has had two productive games. A bona fide seven-reception, 121-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Texans and a 130-yard outing against the Rams where he piled up yardage in garbage time. Over the last three games, however, he has 15 receptions for 128 yards. T.Y.’s a little dude and his extensive use might be catching up to him. Opposing defenses certainly have.
Ladarius Green, Chargers
Mea Culpa. A week late on this one. Green topped 80 yards in Weeks 11 and 12, scoring his first career touchdown in Week 12, so he should have been Moving Up last week. And his two-reception, 45-yard, one-touchdown performance this week against the Bengals would have validated that. With 16 targets over his last three games, Green is a reasonably safe bet during the fantasy playoffs, but his real value is in dynasty leagues. With Antonio Gates slowing down as the season draws to a close, Green is clearly the future at the tight end position in San Diego.
Zach Ertz, Eagles
The Eagles second-round pick in this year’s draft, Ertz’s solid play has effectively nailed James Casey and his three-year, $12-million contract to the bench. After his five-reception, 68-yard, two-touchdown performance this week, Ertz is averaging a healthy 10.7 PPG over his last three weeks with touchdowns in two of those games.
Julius Thomas, Broncos
Inactive in each of the last two games with a knee injury, Thomas will clearly be a roll of the dice, provided he dresses for the Broncos’ home game this week against the Titans.
By: Thomas Casale — @ 1:03 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.
Packers – Lions
It’s probably time to close the book on Matt Flynn. The only thing that stunk more than Flynn on Thanksgiving was my wife’s attempt at baking a pie. Flynn took down every single Packer with him too as only James Jones (3 catches 79 yards) had a decent fantasy day for Green Bay. The Lions had no trouble producing fantasy studs. Does Aaron Rodgers have anything to do with Green Bay’s rush defense? For the second straight week the Packers got run over by both a starter and his backup. Reggie Bush ran 20 times for 117 yards and a score, while Joique Bell racked up 94 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. With the awful run defenses of the Packers, Bears and Vikings all in the NFC North, it’s surprising Bush isn’t threatening to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record.
Raiders – Cowboys
In one of the weirder fantasy situations you’ll see, both Rashad Jennings and DeMarco Murray had strong fantasy days without doing much on the ground thanks to combining for five touchdowns between them. Jennings ran the ball 17 times for 35 yards and two touchdowns, while Murray rushed 17 times for 63 yards and three scores. The most productive runner on the day was actually Dallas’ Lance Dunbar with 82 yards on 12 carries but he didn’t score. Just to show that any receiver can get open on Monte Kiffin’s defense, former Dallas practice squader Andre Holmes caught seven passes for 136 yards on 11 targets. Holmes came into the game with five receptions for 76 yards and 13 targets in his career. My guess is Holmes’ performance has more to do with Dallas’ defense than him. A lot of guys are having career games against Kiffin’s defense this season.
Steelers – Ravens
This was a classic Ravens/Steelers game. Justin Tucker kicked five field goals for the Ravens, while Le’Veon Bell was Pittsburgh’s main source of offense. Bell racked up 136 total yards, seven receptions and a touchdown. He would have had another touchdown too had his helmet not popped off just before he crossed the goal line. Torrey Smith had a big fantasy night, catching six passes for 93 yards and a touchdown. Antonio Brown finally had a down game, which means the Dolphins are in trouble next week. Ray Rice had his usual 12 carries for 32 yards. I read somewhere that Rice will be a RB2 next week versus Minnesota. Listen, I know the Vikings’ rush defense stinks but on no planet is Rice a RB2. If someone is selling you that nonsense, you’re getting bad advice.
Titans – Colts
The Colts benched Trent Richardson. I don’t understand, how can you bench a guy who gets almost a full yard every time he touches the ball? Donald Brown got the start and rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown. Brown may not be a stud but at least there’s a chance he can get positive yards every time he touches the ball, unlike Richardson. I’ve criticized Colts’ offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton in the past and word is his job may be in jeopardy. Hamilton has the imagination of a wet mop. Hopefully for Andrew Luck dynasty league owners, Hamilton will be shown the door. Does anyone know why Darrius Heyward-Bey is still in the NFL? I don’t but I was hoping someone else did.
Josh Gordon: Unstoppable.
Jaguars – Browns
The Jaguars finally found a quarterback. Maurice Jones-Drew finished with a quarterback rating of 139.6. That’s good news because Marcus Mariota is going to be one of the biggest busts in draft history if Jacksonville was thinking about selecting him. No one throws to a wide open receiver like Mariota. That guy is awesome when Oregon is up by 30 against Colorado. Speaking of busts, Brandon Weeden started and while he threw for 370 yards, three Weeden turnovers in the final 2:00 of the first half really cost Cleveland. The guy is abysmal. Josh Gordon can’t be stopped. Gordon caught 10 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns. In his last two games Gordon has 24 receptions, 498 yards and three scores. Can you imagine what he would do with a real quarterback?
Bears – Vikings
If you own both Gordon and Alshon Jeffery and lost last week, you must have the worst fantasy team of all-time. Jeffery torched the Vikings for 12 receptions, 249 yards and two touchdowns. Josh McCown made a strong plug and play for owners who used him. McCown threw for 355 yards and two scores. The problem with Chicago is they have an offensive coordinator posing as a head coach. If Marc Trestman wants to hang around for a while, he has to do a better job with the defense. Even with the injuries, Chicago’s defense shouldn’t decline to the point where it’s the worst unit in the NFL. Adrian Peterson ran for 211 yards and Matt Cassel threw for 243 yards in a half. That’s simply inexcusable.
Buccaneers – Panthers
Mike Glennon and the Bucs have been playing well but Carolina’s defense was just too much for them on Sunday. That’s going to happen with a young quarterback. Cam Newton celebrated Auburn’s Iron Bowl win by racking up 331 total yards and three touchdowns. Cam did throw two interceptions but overall it was a big fantasy day for Newton. It looks like the shine has worn off Bobby Rainey. It turns out his huge day was because Rainey was playing against the Falcons.
Patriots – Texans
It’s pretty apparent that the Patriots can’t stop the run. One week after the Broncos rushed for 280 yards against them, Ben Tate ran for 102 yards and three scores. Tom Brady saved New England for the second straight week, throwing for 371 yards and two touchdowns. With Steven Ridley inactive, LeGarrette Blount and Shane Vereen shared the backfield duties. Neither did much on the ground but Blount scored and Vereen caught five passes for 37 yards and a touchdown. Vereen is clearly the best New England fantasy back to own for the playoffs because of the numbers he puts up as a receiver. Which back gets touches other than Vereen on a weekly basis is anyone’s guess. I have no idea.
Cardinals – Eagles
Michael Floyd just missed out on his third straight 100-yard game by a yard. He did catch five passes and score though, so it’s three big fantasy games in a row for Floyd. Nick Foles continues to be a fantasy machine. Foles threw for 237 and three more touchdowns. Foles still hasn’t thrown an interception this season, which is an amazing statistic. Zach Ertz is a tight end I like for next year. With Arizona’s corners locking down the Eagle receivers, Chip Kelly did a good job of using Ertz. The rookie tight end caught five passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Ertz’s performance was most likely gameplan specific but he’s a guy to watch for 2014.
Dolphins – Jets
Well, we can stick a fork in the Jets. After Geno Smith went 4-of-10 for 29 yards and an interception he was replaced by Matt Simms. He was much better completing 9-of-18 passes for 79 yards, an interception and a fumble. Hey, thank God the Jets signed Ed Reed, huh? Ask him if he can play quarterback, receiver or tight end. Then again he can’t even play safety anymore, so forget it. The big news in this game is Miami ran the ball 36 times. That’s more than they run the ball in a month. The Dolphins also had no problem moving the ball through the air. Brian Hartline, Mike Wallace and Charles Clay combined for 23 receptions, 189 yards and two touchdowns. There’s no need to fear the Jets’ defense anymore. It’s gotten worn down from being on the field so much this season.
Falcons – Bills
You have to think when the Falcons’ coaches thought of their offense this year; this was a little bit of what they envisioned. Steven Jackson rushed for 84 yards and two scores, Roddy White caught 10 passes for 143 yards and Tony Gonzalez hauled in four receptions for 43 yards and a touchdown. In what has been just a miserable year in Atlanta, Sunday the Falcons showed they still have a lot of weapons when their offense is firing on all cylinders. The same can be said about Buffalo’s backfield. This is kind of what the Bills envisioned had C.J. Spiller been healthy. Spiller ran for 149 yards and a score on 15 carries, while Fred Jackson racked up 78 total yards and scored twice on 15 touches. I guess at the end of the day this was the best of both offenses playing two bad defenses. Hey, it made for an entertaining game and produced a lot of big fantasy numbers.
Rams – 49ers
Zac Stacy was cleared to play after suffering a concussion and while his 72 yards on 19 carries wasn’t a huge game, it showed two things. First, Stacy is still going to get almost all the carries going forward, so owners don’t need to worry about Benny Cunningham. Second, even though Stacy didn’t blow up the stat line, he had a lot of tough runs against a defense focused on stopping him. Stacy should be rated very high heading into next season. Stedman Bailey is a player I liked coming out of West Virginia but he’s done virtually nothing until making his second career catch last week. Against San Francisco Bailey caught three passes for 46 yards. I still like Bailey if you play in a dynasty league as a receiver down the line. Frank Gore really only has fantasy value if he scores now. He scored on Sunday, so he had some value.
Broncos – Chiefs
In a game that featured almost 1,000 yards of offense, it was a bad week to be playing against Peyton Manning. I had the luxury of playing against someone who had both Manning and Adrian Peterson. Manning threw for 403 yards and five touchdowns. Four of those scores went to Eric Decker, who ended up with 174 yards on eight receptions. Decker torched rookie Marcus Cooper all day long. While Jamaal Charles had a strong game, Alex Smith also threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns. It was obvious Knowshon Moreno ended up playing but was a non-factor on the ground. Montee Ball saw 13 carries and recorded his first 100-yard game of his career. Despite his fumbling problems, Ball should be owned in all leagues for fantasy playoffs.
Bengals – Chargers
The Chargers are the most perplexing team in the NFL for me to figure out. I thought they were going to have a miserable season back in the summer. Then San Diego’s offense surprised me and played much better than I thought it would. Still though, some weeks the Chargers look like they can’t be stopped and other weeks they struggle to score 14 points. This was one of their bad games. Whether the Chargers are hot or cold, Keenan Allen has been productive. Allen had another 100-yard game; catching eight passes for 106 yards. Ladarius Green scored for the second straight week. Fantasy writers will be drooling over him next summer. Just as I was swearing A.J. Green up and down and declared that he was going to keep me out of the playoffs, he caught a touchdown pass. I then did the same thing to Wes Welker. It didn’t work with Welker who I’m considering benching for Jerricho Cotchery next week.
Giants – Redskins
Andre Brown had a Rashad Jennings like game where he didn’t gain many yards but his two touchdowns saved his fantasy day. Hakeem Nicks had his usual 34 yards receiving. Hey, it was just nice to see that Nicks’ agent allowed him to suit up this week. Brandon Myers has now scored in back-to-back weeks. That’s kind of amazing because I don’t think that guy can beat me in a foot race. To be honest, the Giants offense is trash. They struggled last week against Dallas and were held under 300 yards by a terrible Washington defense. Eli Manning is playing like garbage, the line is garbage and Nicks doesn’t want to be there. Speaking of garbage, you can close the book on the Redskins. I hope Mike Shanahan sends John Elway a Christmas card every year. For a genius, he hasn’t done a whole heck of a lot without one of the greatest quarterbacks ever running his offense.
Saints – Seahawks
In what was supposed to be a heavyweight fight in the NFC, the Seahawks scored a first round knockout. Drew Brees’ 43 consecutive game streak of throwing for over 200 yards came to an end as the Seattle defense smothered the Saints. Russell Wilson threw for 310 yards and three scores. He also added 47 yards rushing. The only negative from a fantasy perspective on the Seattle side was Marshawn Lynch was held to 45 yards on 16 carries. Jimmy Graham scored but had a terrible game overall. Graham caught just three of nine targets and looked like he wanted nothing to do with the Seahawks’ physical defense. Then again, neither did any of his teammates. The bottom line is Seattle was just way too physical for the Saints from the opening kickoff and the score actually didn’t do the Seahawks dominance in the game justice.
By: Dave Stringer — November 26, 2013 @ 8:09 pm
Matt Flynn, Packers
Flynn took over for an overmatched Scott Tolzien this week and played reasonably well (218 yards and a touchdown in two and a half quarters of playing time) given the conditions. With the Lions and their less then stellar secondary on tap for Thanksgiving Day, Flynn figures to get the start. In fact, he could get several, with no definitive word on when Aaron Rodgers will return to the lineup.
Andy Reid has decided now is the time to throw the ball down field.
Alex Smith, Chiefs
With the Chiefs suddenly struggling (or just not getting to face subpar quarterbacks every week), Andy Reid has gone pass happy, with Smith attempting 83 passes over the last two weeks. And Smith has been effective in those games, throwing for 524 yards and five touchdowns with just one interception. Up next are three defensive secondaries ranked 24th or lower (Broncos, Redskins, Raiders).
Philip Rivers, Chargers
After a five game run of decent but unspectacular performances, Rivers turned it up a notch this week against the Chiefs, with 392 passing yards and three touchdowns. With Ryan Mathews out, the Chargers figure to turn to the passing offense more, and Rivers seems to be getting hot again at the right time, with 700 passing yards through his last two games. A tough match up against the Bengals awaits, but that is followed by some easy pickings in the form of the Giants, Broncos and Raiders.
Andrew Luck, Colts
Removing some garbage time production during the Rams game in Week 10, Luck has been entirely underwhelming in the Colts’ last three games, with a pair of touchdowns and four interceptions. His fantasy points during that three game stretch were padded with some rushing production (79 yards and a score), but his production through the air when games are in doubt has suffered with Reggie Wayne out of the lineup. Don’t expect that to change over the next three weeks as Indy faces passing defenses ranked eighth or better.
Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman, C.J. Anderson, Broncos
Knowshon Moreno is in a walking boot with a deep bone bruise, but the truth of the matter is that Ball and Hillman have been injury-prone and unproductive while Anderson clearly isn’t ready for prime time.
Lamar Miller, Dolphins
It’s a similar story for Miller, who figures to see an increased workload with Daniel Thomas likely out for the year with a torn ligament in his ankle. The truth is that with just 95 yards on 29 touches over his last three games, Miller would be Moving Down if not for Thomas’s injury situation.
Danny Woodhead, Chargers
Woodhead is another player who will benefit due to injury, with Ryan Mathews likely out with a hamstring problem. But Woodhead really isn’t built to handle many more touches than the 11.7 per game he currently is getting.
Benny Cunningham, Rams
Because of a Zac Stacy concussion, Cunningham took over as the Rams’ lead back early in the second half against the Bears and finished with the first 100-yard game of his career. While the holes he ran through against an injury-ravaged Chicago defense were large, Cunningham’s 13-carry, 109-yard, one-touchdown performance was impressive nonetheless. He is a must-add in all formats.
Chris Ogbonnaya, Willis McGahee, Browns
A little look-see at the Bears’ upcoming schedule tells us these are the only running backs who you might be able to grab on the wire to exploit Chicago’s defense. Yeah, it was that bad on Sunday.
Stevan Ridley, Patriots
Another day, another fumble. Ridley coughed up his fourth lost fumble of the season this week against the Broncos and spent the rest of the night nailed to the bench. The only saving grace for Ridley is that LeGarrette Blount also fumbled—although that positive is somewhat negated by Brandon Bolden’s strong performance.
Ben Tate, Texans
Benched in favor of 5-foot-7, 195-pound Dennis Johnson. Wow.
With all of the injured players noted above, fantasy owners will have some tough decisions on their hands this week.
Antonio Brown, Steelers
When you torch the Browns’ Joe Haden for six receptions, 92 yards and a score, there is no doubt that you’re Moving Up. The score gives Brown a career-high six touchdowns this season, and it might surprise some that he leads the league in receptions with 80. Turns out the Steelers made the right move in deciding to retain Brown over the speedy Mike Wallace.
Josh Gordon, Browns
After his 14-reception, 237-yard, one-touchdown performance this week, Gordon now has 54 receptions for 988 yards and five touchdowns in just nine games. Extrapolating that over 16 games gives you 96 receptions for 1,756 yards and 8.9 touchdowns. Since that’s a lot of numbers in just two sentences, I’ll sum up what it means for fantasy owners: upper-tier WR1 in 2014.
Justin Hunter, Titans
This one’s a lukewarm endorsement since Hunter was targeted once in Week 11 while averaging 6.5 targets in Weeks 10 and 12. However, he looked solid this week against the Raiders, catching all six of his looks for 109 yards and a score. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a check-down artist but he might be receiving marching orders to get Hunter more involved.
Michael Crabtree, 49ers
Likely to be activated and available for the 49ers’ Week 13 matchup against the Rams.
Danny Amendola, Patriots
When Amendola returned to the lineup in Week 5 and was targeted nine times, it appeared that he would be a huge part of New England’s offense. In the five games since then, he has been targeted only 27 times, and since he rarely finds the end zone (eight touchdowns in 49 career games), that isn’t enough to warrant WR3 status.
Cecil Shorts, Jaguars
After finding the end zone seven times in 14 games last season, the big plays have dried up for Shorts, who has just one touchdown in 11 games this season. Worse than that is that he’s gone stone cold with fantasy playoffs approaching, hauling in just 12 receptions for 135 yards in his last three games and failing to find the end zone in his last six.
DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
The rookie first-round pick followed up his one-reception, seven-yard performance against the Raiders with a one-reception, eight-yard performance against the Jaguars. Hey, I guess I can’t say he didn’t improve.
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
While his stat line wasn’t outstanding (seven receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets), he looked the Gronk of old. Or a healthy Gronk. You know what I mean. His owners have been waiting, and he seems ready to explode over the last five games of the season.
Jacob Tamme, Broncos
Since Julius Thomas tried to give it a go this week but wasn’t successful, I expect him to be ready next week. But if not, it is worth noting that Tamme was extremely effective this week, catching all five of his targets for 47 yards and a score.
Antonio Gates, Chargers
It appears as though Gates’ 33-year-old legs are wearing down as the season comes to a close. He has just one touchdown in his last seven games and has topped 53 receiving yards just twice during that stretch.
By: Thomas Casale — November 25, 2013 @ 11:36 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.
Saints – Falcons
I’ve been talking about Darius Johnson since last year and I’ve mentioned him a couple of times in this column as well. Despite a costly fumble, Johnson caught six passes for 67 yards. He has gone from an afterthought on draft day and a nobody in training camp to a guy making some plays in the NFL. I’ve always thought Johnson could play and, like I’ve been saying since April, he’s a guy to keep an eye on. I swear, Jimmy Graham and Megatron must have a combined 300 fantasy points against me this year. Graham got me again for 100 yards and a score on five receptions. Pierre Thomas has been one of the most underrated players in the NFL for a couple of years. He had another one of his games where he racked up 130 total yards on just 15 touches. Steven Jackson had his best game of the year. The fact that he had 79 total yards and a score tells you what kind of season it’s been for him.
Panthers – Dolphins
I saw I was playing against Mike Wallace this week and figured he would finally have a big game. Wallace proved me right by catching five passes for 127 yards and a touchdown. Not counting Cam Newton, the Panthers ran the ball 21 times for 85 yards. It would take the Miami running backs a month to get to that number. Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas combined for 16 yards on 13 carries. The Dolphins are on their way to being one of the all-time worst rushing teams. I guess that’s why Mike Sherman was so popular at Texas A&M.
Buccaneers – Lions
Mike Glennon continues to play well and deliver for fantasy owners. He threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns, both going to Tiquan Underwood, who had 108 yards receiving. Glennon is showing a lot of promise for both the rest of the season and 2014. Bobby Rainey had only 35 yards on 18 carries after his huge performance last week. It should be noted that the Lions are tough against the run, but things won’t get much easier next week versus Carolina. Nate Burleson made a big impact in his return from an injured forearm. He saw 10 targets and caught seven passes for 77 yards a score.
Bears – Rams
I had a tough fantasy week. I own Zac Stacy in two leagues and after he racked up 87 yards and a score in the first half, he went out with a concussion. Then his backup Benny Cunningham ripped off 109 yards and a score on 13 carries. Now we know how Ray Rice had a big game last week. The Bears have the worst rush defense in the NFL. I’m so sick and tired of seeing that miserable hump Michael Bush in the game. When a team gets in the red zone it should have its best players on the field, not a declining, slow backup. Did you see that touchdown run Matt Forte had called back because of a penalty? Do you think Bush can make a run like that? These coaches overthink too much. It must be because they’re all geniuses. It takes a real genius to keep one of his best two players on the bench inside the red zone. It’s inexcusable and awful coaching.
Jets – Ravens
The Jets’ streak of playing well one week and poorly the next came to a crashing halt Sunday at Baltimore. After feasting on the Bears’ joke of a rush defense last week, Rice went back to his usual 16 carries for 30 yards against the Jets. All is right with the world again. The Jets’ defense got burnt by Joe Flacco, however. Flacco threw for 273 yards and a score, while Jacoby Jones had a 100-yard day and a touchdown. Geno Smith had a miserable game but it’s hard to blame all of the Jets’ offensive failures on him alone. New York’s receivers are so pitiful that their leading pass catcher on the day was Greg Salas. It’s easy to make fun of Geno all the time, but if the Jets want to evaluate a young quarterback, they should try doing so without the worst group of receivers and tight ends in the NFL.
Jaguars – Texans
I can pretty much sum this up by saying the Texans have given up on the season. This was a pitiful effort by Houston all across the board. The lone bright spot was Dennis Johnson running for 74 yards on 13 carries. However, he should already be owned in most leagues as insurance for Ben Tate by now. Maurice Jones-Drew continues to have a strong second half of the season. He finished with 144 total yards and a score. To show how lifeless Houston was on Sunday, Chad Henne had a passer rating of 93.1.
The Packers need this guy back… and soon.
Vikings – Packers
In probably the weirdest game of the day, the Packers went to their fourth option at quarterback in Matt Flynn and ended up with a tie against Minnesota. Flynn completed 21 of 36 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it was against Minnesota’s Swiss cheese defense. Hopefully for the Packers and fantasy owners like me, Aaron Rodgers will be back soon. Adrian Peterson ran over Green Bay’s defense for 146 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries. The Packers rush defense was so bad on Sunday that Toby Gerhart chipped in with 91 yards on eight carries. With Peterson’s bad hamstring, it would be wise for his owners to grab Gerhart as insurance.
Steelers – Browns
Some were worried about Antonio Brown going up against Joe Haden, but Brown still caught six passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. Brown simply sees too many targets every week, regardless of who is covering him. The guy is a beast. The Browns’ fantasy value took a hit when Brandon Weeden came into the game, but it didn’t bother Josh Gordon. Gordon torched the Steelers for 237 yards and a touchdown on 14 receptions. He caught 14 of his 17 targets. On the other hand, Jordan Cameron saw 10 targets but had only three receptions. That’s what happens when a team has bad quarterback play.
Chargers – Chiefs
In the most entertaining game of the afternoon, San Diego scored late to beat the Chiefs, 41–38. Kansas City has been leaning on its defense this season, but after losing Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, the Chiefs couldn’t stop Philip Rivers and company. Rivers threw for 392 yards and three scores, while Keenan Allen caught nine balls for 124 yards. Jamaal Charles had his usual huge game and the Chargers showed how much they’re struggling on defense by letting Alex Smith throw for 294 yards and three scores. The Chiefs’ defense is reeling and they have the Broncos on deck. I have them in two leagues, and even though they’ve been great, it’s time to start playing matchups.
Cowboys – Giants
The weather and some awful officiating kept the offensive numbers in check for both teams. Tony Romo and Eli Manning did manage to throw two touchdown passes each despite the windy conditions. Dez Bryant saw 16 targets after Dallas spent the bye week trying to get him the ball more. You would think the coaching staff wouldn’t need a bye week to figure out how to get its No. 1 receiver the football. Bryant responded by catching nine passes for 91 yards. Andre Brown ran over the Cowboys for 127 yards on 21 carries, but owners have to hold their breath every time he gets up in hopes that he isn’t injured. The guy is a tremendous player but whenever Brown gets tackled, it looks like he’s out for the year. And given his past injury history, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Titans – Raiders
It’s hard to believe, but the Titans are actually the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoffs right now. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 320 yards and two scores against the pitiful Raiders pass defense. Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright each went over 100 yards, while Delanie Walker had another solid game, catching five balls for 46 yards on nine targets. Matt McGloin played pretty well in only his second start. It’s clear after two games that McGloin likes throwing to Rod Streater. In McGloin’s two starts, Streater has 11 receptions for 177 yards and a touchdown.
Colts – Cardinals
The Cardinals remained red hot by slamming the Colts. Carson Palmer threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns and for the second week in a row Michael Floyd was his favorite receiver. Floyd is on his way to becoming a stud in 2014. The Colts’ high point may end up being their win over Denver. Andrew Luck’s poor pass a few weeks ago, which forced Reggie Wayne to turn awkwardly even though he was wide open, has led to the biggest injury in the NFL. The Indianapolis offense just hasn’t been the same since Wayne got hurt. At the time, after wins over Seattle, San Francisco and Denver, it could have been argued that the Colts were the Super Bowl favorites. Now without Wayne or a running game and with problems on the offensive line, this is a completely different offense. The Colts have been a fantasy disaster in two of their last three games.
Broncos – Patriots
In what will likely be the wildest game of the season, Denver jumped out to a 24-0 lead, only to lose in overtime, 34–31. I can’t see how Stevan Ridley gets another chance to be the lead back in New England. I’m all for second chances, but he’s fumbling so much it’s hurting the Patriots’ ability to win games. Shane Vereen is going to be huge for owners during the playoffs. Dropping Vereen was the biggest mistake some owners made this fantasy season. I was told Danny Amendola and Wes Welker are the same player. I guess those people were right. Neither guy did anything Sunday night. Welker caught four passes for 31 yards and Amendola caught three for 17. Overall, Amendola’s first season in New England has been a miserable failure.
49ers – Redskins
The 49ers needed to get their offense on track and they found the right tonic in the Redskins’ defense. Colin Kaepernick passed for 235 yards and three scores. He had three touchdown passes in his previous four games, so that tells you all you need to know about Washington’s defense. Anquan Boldin caught five passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Boldin has now had two good games in a row. Robert Griffin couldn’t get anything going for the Redskins. RG3 only threw for 127 yards, Alfred Morris rushed for 52 yards and Pierre Garcon caught eight balls but was held to just 48 yards. Overall it was a dreadful performance by a Redskins team that’s sinking fast.
By: Dave Stringer — November 22, 2013 @ 1:28 pm
1. With the Bears in the race for the NFC North crown, you would think the teams’ fans would be focused on the upcoming playoff run and the Bears chances of making a deep run into the postseason. However, the noise of the playoff run is being shared with debates as to whether the team will re-sign quarterback Jay Cutler at the conclusion of the season. Bears management has done its best to keep the Cutler debate out of the news, even announcing that they would not engage in negotiations during the season, but given the importance of the quarterback position, it has come to the forefront over the past several weeks. While it may seem like a foregone conclusion that Cutler will be re-signed, that isn’t necessarily the case. Cutler will turn 31 prior to the 2014 season, his backup, Josh McCown, is enjoying a solid season in relief and Cutler has led his team to the playoffs just once during his first seven years in the league. With Cutler having his second injury plagued season over the last three years, there is a solid chance the team will choose to place the franchise tag on him for the 2014 season. Given that leverage, the team can then sign him to a long-term extension on terms they are amenable to or else use a high pick in the upcoming draft on a quarterback to groom for the future.
2.In Oakland, the Raiders face a different type of conundrum at the quarterback position. Rookie undrafted free agent Matt McGloin is coming off a 18 for 32, 197-yard, three touchdown, no interception performance in the Raiders win over the Texans and incumbent starter Terrelle Pryor, thought to be the team’s quarterback of the future, is more than likely ready to return to the lineup from a knee injury. Head coach Dennis Allen has already named McGloin the starter for the team’s Week 12 matchup against the Titans but it is anybody’s guess as to what his reasoning is for that decision. It could be that Allen believes that he needs to win some games to return in 2014. While McGloin pulled out the win against the Texans, the team’s defense gets the kudos for that win, giving McGloin short fields to work with twice due to turnovers and allowing the team to play with a lead for the entire game. Meanwhile, although Pryor has been inconsistent as a passer and needs to improve his accuracy, he at least has the look of a potential starter provided he can improve on his ability to read defenses. The Raiders would do well to allow Pryor to finish the season as the team’s starter in order to determine whether they need to take a quarterback early in the 2014 draft.
Who’s really making the Quarterback call in Houston?
3. The Texans face their own quarterback conundrum and also appear to be hindered by a head coach looking to win a few games to help save his job. With Matt Schaub struggling and benched in favor of 2nd year undrafted free agent Case Keenum, it appeared likely that Schaub’s days in Houston were numbered. However, head coach Gary Kubiak gave Keenum the quick hook this week against the Raiders despite the fact that he had thrown for 822 yards and seven touchdowns with just one interception in his past three games. That’s not the type of decision making that inspires confidence in a young player or that signals that the organization views the player as a potential long term solution at the quarterback position. While Kubiak has said that Keenum will get the start this week against the Jaguars, you have to wonder whether that decision is of his own making or whether it is being forced upon him.
4. There are a couple of interesting matchups this week, one of which is Broncos’ wide receiver Wes Welker’s return to New England for Denver’s Sunday night matchup against the Patriots. New England’s fans are sure to give Welker, a long time fan favorite and quarterback Tom Brady’s go to receiver during his six year run as a Patriot, a warm welcome and it seems unlikely that Welker will give former head coach Bill Belichick the same type of welcome. Welker’s fantasy owners surely start him on a weekly basis but there could be some reluctance to roll with him this week due to his Week 11 concussion. However, teams often feature players when they face their former teams and it seems likely that quarterback Peyton Manning will look Welker’s way early and often this week.
5.In St. Louis, Rams defensive end Chris Long, who lines up mostly opposite the opposition’s right tackle, will face his younger brother, Kyle, during this week’s matchup against the Bears. Taken in the 1st round of this year’s draft, Kyle Long starts at right guard for Chicago. While they don’t figure to line up opposite each other since the Rams rarely use Chris inside as a defensive tackle, the Rams will surely stunt him inside where Kyle will need to slow him down.
6. The 49ers have struggled at the wide receiver position for almost all of 2013 but they appear to be getting healthy as they make a run at a wild card playoff berth. With Seattle leading the division and holding a nearly insurmountable 3.5 game lead, San Francisco will need to enter the playoffs with a wild card slot and that means holding off the Bears and a surprisingly strong Cardinals squad. Mario Manningham returned to the lineup in Week 10 and Michael Crabtree has an outside chance of playing during the team’s Monday night matchup against the Redskins. With Anquan Boldin slowing down as the season has progressed and Vernon Davis playing well when healthy, quarterback Colin Kaepernick has not had a breakout season during his second year as the team’s starting quarterback. However, with a healthy cast at receiver (Crabtree’s return to 100% may take several weeks), he could be in line for a strong run to the playoffs for the 49ers and for your fantasy squad during Weeks 14-16.
By: Dave Stringer — November 19, 2013 @ 8:10 pm
Big Ben is now 11th in FPts/G among all Quarterbacks.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
With 971 passing yards and nine touchdowns in his last three games, Big Ben is getting hot at just the right time for the Steelers and his fantasy owners. The matchups aren’t great between now and Week 15 (Browns, Ravens, Dolphins, Bengals) but Roethlisberger is a streaky player and he’s rolling at the moment.
EJ Manuel, Bills
This one’s more for the dynasty leaguers out there, but the Bills’ rookie first-round pick was solid this week in his second game after returning from a knee injury. Despite not having leading wide receiver Steve Johnson or Robert Woods available, Manuel threw for 245 yards and a pair of scores on 20-of-28 passing during the Bills 37–14 blowout win over the Jets.
Geno Smith, Jets
Yeesh! That was ugly.
Andy Dalton, Bengals
Dalton’s hot streak ended three games ago and he has turned into a turnover machine since then (eight interceptions). I am confident going on the record in stating that he’s not going to have any more three-touchdown outings when he throws for just 93 yards. Dalton needs to be on your bench until he gets hot again.
Bobby Rainey, Bucs
Well, I told you last week that Rainey didn’t have the look of a true lead back and I guess I’m eating my words today after his 30-carry, 163-yard, two-touchdown performance this week against the Falcons. Oh yeah, he also chipped in a four-yard touchdown reception. Rainey is clearly the lead back in Tampa over the balance of the season, and the matchups from Weeks 14 through 16 aren’t that bad (Bills, 49ers, Rams).
Donald Brown, Colts
The only thing holding Brown back from emerging as a solid RB2 over the balance of the season is the fact it would be extremely embarrassing for the Colts’ management and coaches to bench Trent Richardson. But it still might happen. Brown was great this week with 15 touches for 94 yards and a pair of scores, but the Cardinals are on tap next week (third-ranked run defense) and then the Bengals in Week 14 (ninth-ranked run defense).
Rashad Jennings, Raiders
Jennings is averaging 5.1 yards per carry and 8.2 yards per reception. Darren McFadden is averaging 3.6 yards per carry and 6.5 yards per reception. Jennings has a pair of 100-yard rushing games in the Raiders’ last three matchups. McFadden is a free agent at season’s end, will command a large salary on the open market, has one 1000-yard rushing season during his first five years in the league, and has topped 1,000 total yards just once. Jennings is also a free agent but will cost a fraction of what McFadden will. The Raiders have been in salary cap hell. Maybe they should spend the rest of the season finding out what they have in Jennings. He’s hot and, save for a Week 14 matchup against the Jets’ top-ranked run defense, the schedule is favorable.
Ray Rice, Ravens; Chris Johnson, Titans
Undoubtedly taken in the first round of most fantasy drafts this year, both Rice and Johnson have disappointed, with Rice being one of the biggest busts of the year. They are each coming off of solid games, with Rice topping 100 rushing yards for the first time and 100 total yards for just the second time. Johnson scored a pair of touchdowns, giving him four in his last three games. Consider Rice a sell candidate if your league’s trading window is still open, but I would ride Johnson the rest of the way.
Ben Tate, Texans
If Tate owners were hoping he would replicate Arian Foster’s success, they have been sorely disappointed. While Tate is clearly talented, he is also clearly not in Foster’s class as a running back. In the last three games, he has averaged 4.0 yards per carry, 75 rushing yards per game and chipped in just eight receptions for a measly 35 yards. He lacks Foster’s explosiveness, pass-catching ability and chops as a short-yardage runner.
Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
Montee Ball stole a pair of touchdowns this week, leaving Moreno with just one touchdown in his last three games. Not the kind of slide his fantasy owners want to see with the playoffs approaching.
Mark Ingram, Saints
With Ingram coming off of the first 100-yard game of his three-year career, I was cautiously optimistic the Saints would be committed to getting him consistent touches going forward. Sure enough, he had just seven touches in a close game against the 49ers this week. If the Saints aren’t committed, you shouldn’t be.
Michael Floyd, Cardinals
After averaging 7.4 targets per game over the Cardinals’ first seven games and being largely disappointing (32 receptions for 396 yards and one touchdown), Floyd saw his workload decreased to a total of six targets over the two games prior to this week. That seemed to motivate Arizona’s 2012 first-round pick, as he had the finest game of his career this week, hauling in six of his 11 targets for 193 yards and a 91-yard touchdown. He might be hitting his stride at just the right time.
Kendall Wright, Titans
Over the last two games, Wright has 21 targets, 16 receptions and 158 receiving yards. Ryan Fitzpatrick likes to look his way, and if the touchdowns every start coming (just one so far this season), Wright will emerge as a solid WR2 in standard leagues with even more upside in PPR formats.
Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
Sure, Bowe’s an idiot and the Chiefs MAY have been fools for signing him to a lucrative long-term contract extension, but it’s fairly obvious that he has been misused for much of this season. That might be changing. He averaged just 5.6 targets per game over the Chiefs’ first eight games but has been targeted 26 times over the past two. With Kansas City needing to establish a strong passing attack with the playoffs around the corner (as evidenced during their first loss of the season this week to the Broncos), Bowe figures to see the ball plenty as the season winds down.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Colts
Since Reggie Wayne went down with a torn ACL in Week 7, DHB has caught five of his 15 targets for 51 yards. So much for the notion that he would step up and become consistent with Wayne out. For the year, he has caught just 23 of his targets despite averaging just 10.5 yards per reception.
Wes Welker, Broncos
He’s concussed and has just one touchdown in his last four games after scoring eight times during the Broncos’ first six games.
Victor Cruz, Giants
The schedule looks good but Cruz has scored touchdowns in just two of ten games so far in 2013, including none in the past six.
Delanie Walker, Titans
Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown 61 passes in the last two games and targeted Walker 17 times. Hmmm… Opportunity is knocking on Walker’s door and he figures to get plenty of targets going forward since he caught all ten of his looks this week for 91 yards and a touchdown. That gives him double-digit fantasy points in three of his last four games.
Coby Fleener, Colts
Reggie Wayne was lost for the season and Fleener has been targeted 25 times in the three games since then, including 20 in the Colts’ last two games. He topped 100 receiving yards for the first time in his career this week against the Titans, with seven receptions for 107 yards. With Darrius Heyward-Bey struggling, look for Fleener to continue to get plenty of targets.
Garrett Graham, Texans
It was nice that Graham put up a career performance of seven receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown this week against the Raiders, but the fourth-year pro is likely headed to the bench soon with incumbent starter Owen Daniels targeting a Week 14 return.
Martellus Bennett, Bears
Bennett can’t seem to shake the ankle injury that has hindered his performance, and he was barely used this week with just two targets (two receptions for 48 yards). With just one touchdown in his last eight games and 120 receiving yards in the last four, it might be time to see if you can do better.
By: Thomas Casale — @ 8:28 am
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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.
Colts – Titans
At some point the Colts had to realize Trent Richardson was killing their offense, and Thursday night was that point. While Richardson was slogging to 22 yards on eight carries, Donald Brown racked up 80 yards and two scores on 14 carries. Like I said last week, Richardson has finally earned the right to be called a RB2. He’s now a RB2 on his own team. Delanie Walker is starting to become a solid option for those searching for a TE. Walker has now scored double-digit fantasy points in PPR leagues in three of his last four games. Ryan Fitzpatrick looks for the tight end more than Jake Locker, so Walker is worth picking up if you’re thin at that position.
Jets – Bills
The Bills’ defense dominated, recording four sacks and causing four turnovers. Of course, the entire world should have seen this coming because this was the Jets’ scheduled week to play poorly. Baltimore is in big trouble on Sunday because it’s the Jets’ week to play great. Buffalo’s offense didn’t have to do much but E.J. Manuel played well, completing 20 of 28 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns. Backups Marquise Goodwin and T.J. Graham were productive starting for the injured Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods. The duo combined for eight receptions, 155 yards and two touchdowns. Doug Marrone deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done in his first year with the Bills.
Carson Palmer had his best day of the fantasy season – 419 yds, 2 TDs.
Cardinals – Jaguars
After getting their first win of the season, the Jaguars went back to being the Jaguars. Carson Palmer lit up the Jacksonville defense for 419 yards and two touchdowns. One of the reasons for Palmer’s big day was because Arizona couldn’t run the ball at all. The Cardinals rushed 24 times for 14 yards. The Jaguars didn’t do much better, rushing 16 times for 31 yards. Michael Floyd was questionable much of the week. He looked healthy on Sunday. Floyd caught six passes for 193 yards, including a 91-yard touchdown.
Raiders – Texans
Matt McGloin made an impressive NFL debut by throwing for 197 yards and three touchdowns against the NFL’s top-ranked pass defense. It’s still too early to tell if McGloin is the real deal, but he had an excellent coach at Penn State in Bill O’Brien to prepare him for the NFL. Rashad Jennings ran for 150 yards and a touchdown. The Raiders have a Trent Richardson situation. There doesn’t seem to be any holes when Darren McFadden is in the game, but for some reason Jennings finds holes to run through when he plays. It must be that the offensive line only likes to block for Jennings. The Texans benched Case Keenum in favor of Matt Schaub and still lost. Who are the fans going to threaten now?
Lions – Steelers
This was a wild game. The only thing I can say is I’ve seen enough of Calvin Johnson for one season. I went up against Megatron when he faced the Cowboys and again last week when he caught six balls for 179 yards and two touchdowns. Matthew Stafford threw 46 times for 362 and two touchdowns, while Ben Roethlisberger threw 45 times for 367 yards and four touchdowns. Antonio Brown continues to be a target and reception monster, while Jerricho Cotchery found the end zone again. That’s now five touchdowns for Cotchery in the last three games.
Falcons – Buccaneers
If the Falcons and Jaguars were to play, I think I would go with Jacksonville. Atlanta is playing some God-awful football, but luckily for Harry Douglas owners he continues to put up strong fantasy numbers. There’s very little to like about the Falcons right now unless you have a fantasy player going up against their defense. Apparently Bobby Rainey will be replacing Mike James. Rainey ran for 163 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries. He also scored on a 4-yard touchdown pass. Meanwhile, Brian Leonard was a non-factor. Rainey is still owned in only 54 percent of leagues. That obviously won’t be the case come Wednesday. Mike Glennon continues to play well, despite being thrown into the fire as a rookie. He’s putting up strong QB2 numbers on a consistent basis.
Ravens – Bears
In a game that took about 10 hours to play, Ray Rice got his revenge on me. I’ve been smashing Rice for a year and a half now and I played against him this week. Rice gained 131 yards and a touchdown after coming into the game with 289 yards on the season. Although, I’m guessing that has more to do with the Bears’ abysmal defense than me. Alshon Jeffery continues to dominate and Josh McCown did just enough to get a win in ugly conditions. Joe Flacco is having a miserable season. I mentioned above that the Jets are scheduled to play well this week against Baltimore. Gang Greene’s defense will eat the Ravens’ offensive line and Flacco alive.
Browns – Bengals
The Bengals gained only 224 yards of total offense against Cleveland but they didn’t have to do much because Cincinnati’s defense dominated the game. The Bengals’ DST scored two touchdowns, caused four turnovers and registered four sacks. Andy Dalton only threw for 93 yards. He did toss three scores but none of those yards or touchdowns went to A.J. Green, who only caught two passes for seven yards. The Browns tried phasing Willis McGahee out of the offense but Chris Ogbonnaya fumbled twice. That could open the door for Fozzy Whittaker to see more touches going forward.
Redskins – Eagles
Nick Foles continues to play well and put up strong numbers. He didn’t throw for any touchdowns against Washington but accounted for 345 total yards and a score on the ground. I know that’s a pretty good fantasy day because I played against Foles in one of my leagues. Riley Cooper was finally held in check, catching only three passes for 37 yards, although he came up just inches short of scoring another touchdown. Robert Griffin isn’t having an awful fantasy season but he is struggling on the field. The interception he threw at the end of the game was inexcusable.
Vikings – Seahawks
Percy Harvin made his debut for the Seahawks on Sunday. He caught only one pass for 17 yards but it was a good sign for the owners who held on to Harvin to see him out there. By the time fantasy playoffs roll around, Harvin will be an asset to owners. The Seattle defense held Adrian Peterson to 65 yards on 21 carries. Other than Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, the two top fantasy performers from this game were Darius Wright and Doug Baldwin. So the story is that the Seahawks moved to 10-1 and Harvin made his debut.
49ers – Saints
The 49ers’ defense played well but their offense was held to fewer than 200 yards for the second consecutive game. Colin Kaepernick isn’t playing well but it’s hard to place all the blame on him. Defenses are double-teaming Vernon Davis on most plays and shifting coverage to Anquan Boldin. Why? Because their other receiver is Jonathan Baldwin and he shouldn’t be in the NFL. The 49ers are simply lacking playmakers on offense right now and they’re an easy team to defend. One week after rushing for 145 yards, Mark Ingram went back to his usual stat line of six carries for 25 yards. That’s what happens when you’re not playing Monte Kiffin’s joke defense in Dallas. Like most players in the NFL, Ingram had his best game of the year against the Cowboys.
Chargers – Dolphins
This was a weird offensive game for the Chargers because Philip Rivers threw for almost 300 yards but neither Keenan Allen nor Danny Woodhead were much of a factor. Allen left late with a knee injury but only caught three passes for 45 yards. Woodhead, meanwhile, totaled just 37 yards. Rivers spread the ball around to nine different receivers, while Ryan Mathews did the damage on the ground with 127 yards. Lamar Miller looked like he was about to break out a couple of weeks ago. Instead, he’s back to getting 17 yards on four carries. We’re at the point now that if you’re still starting a Miami running back, you’ve obviously given up on the fantasy season.
Packers – Giants
Scott Tolzien threw three interceptions but he played about as well as can be expected for a guy who was just signed off the practice squad and making his first start. The bottom line is that Green Bay’s offense is going to be in trouble until Aaron Rodgers returns unless they play the Cowboys. Remember when Hakeem Nicks was a No. 1 receiver? That guy used to dominate; now he looks like he doesn’t even want to be out on the field. Nicks had another ho-hum four-catch, 50-yard performance on Sunday. The good news for Nicks is that he does get to face Dallas’s defense this week, so a breakout game is likely.
Chiefs – Broncos
With all due respect to Peyton Manning, if I had an MVP vote I think I would have to split it between Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs defense. How that team went 9-0 with Alex Smith at quarterback is beyond me. That guy is tough to watch. Smith actually makes me angry at times with all his stupid checkdowns and the way he runs out of the pocket when there’s barely any pressure. The Chiefs won’t win a darn thing with him under center. I’ve always suspected John Fox hated me with the way he drafted running backs I loved in college and then never used them. Now I have my proof. Jack Del Rio takes over and Montee Ball scores two touchdowns. Expect to see Ball get 10-12 carries a game from here on in as the Broncos try to keep Knowshon Moreno fresh for the playoffs.
Patriots – Panthers
This game lived up to its billing, going down to the final controversial seconds. I own Shane Vereen and have been chomping at the bit for him to return. Vereen made a splash in his first game back by catching eight passes for 65 yards on 11 targets. Vereen owners got the added bonus of Stevan Ridley fumbling again. Vereen is always going to have value regardless of Ridley because of his ability as a receiver. However, Ridley is one more fumble away from barely seeing the ball anymore. Bill Belichick isn’t going to put that guy out on the field in the playoffs if he keeps putting the ball on the ground. Cam Newton played one of his better games of the year, gaining 271 total yards and scoring three touchdowns. He had to put the offense on his shoulders because Carolina couldn’t run the ball a lick.
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