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Dave’s Take: Fantasy Football Tips, News & Notes – Week 6, 2012

By: — October 12, 2012 @ 3:56 pm
Filed under: Player Analysis
Alfred Morris

Are the Shanahanigans over?

1. It looks like the running back carousel in Washington js over with rookie sixth-round pick Alfred Morris having laid claim to the starting position and unlikely to relinquish it barring injury. With his 115-yard rushing performance this week against the Falcons, Morris became just the second rookie in NFL history to rush for at least 75 yards in his first five games in the league. With 491 rushing yards to go along with four touchdowns, Morris is currently the 6th ranked fantasy running back. While he is unlikely to attain that lofty ranking by season’s end due to his lack of ability as a receiver (just two receptions for 16 yards) and the likelihood the Redskins will be trailing in at least a few games this season, his fantasy owners have been rewarded by a solid performance from a Mike Shanahan coached running back, a situation that hasn’t occurred much in recent seasons. And that’s unlikely to change with 2nd year player Evan Royster and veteran journeyman Ryan Grant in reserve.

2. With Donald Brown out two to three weeks with a knee injury, rookie 5th round pick Vick Ballard will take over in the starting lineup with Delone Carter and Mewelde Moore spelling him. While Brown has been a decent fantasy producer over the first four weeks of the season, a closer look reveals that his production is mostly volume based as he has averaged just 4.0 yards per carry and caught three passes for 47 yards. Given that the Colts have spent plenty of time playing from behind against soft defenses, his production this season and poor performance during the first three years in the league hardly ensures that he will get his starting job back if Ballard or Carter performs well. Both Brown and Carter were inherited from the previous regime making it likely that Ballard will be given an opportunity to win the job outright. His production thus far in his rookie season has been underwhelming (21 carries for 42 yards and one reception for four yards) but he is definitely worth taking a flier on if you are in need of help at running back.

3. With Matt Cassel out with a concussion this week, Brady Quinn will take over in the Chiefs staring lineup at quarterback. Cassel owners likely weren’t using him as a starting quarterback so Quinn will only end up on rosters in leagues that have 14 to 16 teams but his presence will have an impact on the Chiefs other skill position players. And that impact is most likely to be negative. While it is hard to believe that Quinn, the 22nd pick in the 2007 draft, has only started 12 career games, what is harder to believe is how unbelievably bad he has been in those games, averaging 154 passing yards with ten touchdown passes and nine interceptions. Look for opposing defenses to stack the box to stop running back Jamaal Charles, forcing the Chiefs to open up the passing game. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe has had a hot start to the season and is on pace to finish the year with a career-high 1,286 receiving yards and ten touchdowns but a long stay in the starting lineup for Quinn is likely to result in a decrease in his production.

4. Last week’s Cardinals-Rams matchup may have featured the worse group of starting offensive tackles in a game in decades with the Cardinals lining up D’Anthony Batiste (cut by five teams) and rookie 4th round pick Bobby Massie and the Rams countering with Wayne Hunter and Barry Richardson. Of course, this week’s Cardinals-Bills matchup will come close to topping that with the Bills starting rookie 2nd round pick Cordy Glenn, who has been decent, and veteran journeyman Erik Pears. The Rams accounted for eight sacks last week with most of the pressure being applied by defensive ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long so if the Bills prized free agent acquisition Mario Williams doesn’t get it going this week, it might be time to purge him from your IDP roster. Williams has failed to record a sack in four of five games thus far in 2012.

5. Sticking with the Cardinals, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is once again putting together a solid season with 30 receptions for 337 yards and a pair of touchdowns during Arizona’s first five games despite another season of poor quarterback play in the desert. With 9,953 career receiving yards, Fitzgerald is just 47 yards shy of the 10,000 mark and with Buffalo, the team’s Week 6 opponent, having surrendered over 1,200 totals yards in its last two games, it seems a good bet he will reach that milestone this weekend.

6. Recently signed by the Dolphins, Jabar Gaffney figures to make his season debut this week against the Rams. Coming off a career year in 2011 with the Redskins in which he caught 68 passes for 947 yards and five touchdowns, Gaffney signed this offseason with New England only to be released in training camp. With a depth chart that basically goes two deep with Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, Gaffney is likely to earn a significant role early in his tenure with the Dolphins. Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the team’s 1st round pick in this year’s draft, has played reasonably well after his Week 1 debacle against the Texans so Gaffney may emerge as a decent addition in deeper fantasy leagues.

7. With a pair of touchdown receptions this week against the Giants, Browns rookie receiver Josh Gordon became the first Cleveland receiver to score multiple touchdowns in a game since Braylon Edwards accomplished the feat late in the 2007 season. With Greg Little failing to nail down the lead receiving job due to his poor hands, look for the Browns to utilize Gordon in the coming weeks. With Little struggling, it seems likely the Browns will either bench him when Mohamed Massaquoi returns from the hamstring injury he suffered in Week 3 against the Bills or have the two players split time opposite Gordon.

Moving Up, Moving Down – Week 5, 2012

By: — October 9, 2012 @ 1:42 pm
Filed under: Player Analysis


Moving Up

Andrew Luck, Colts
Move over Aaron Rodgers, there’s a new sheriff in town. Well, maybe not but there was for one day at least. Luck proved he is no ordinary rookie with a come from behind win over the Packers. He completed 31 of 55 passes for a career-high 362 yards and a pair of touchdowns – his third consecutive game with two touchdown passes.

Brandon Weeden, Browns
Another rookie who is playing well is Weeden. If your league doesn’t punish interceptions, Weeden has been productive over his last four games after an opening day flop against the Eagles. In his last four contests, Weeden has thrown for 1,170 yards and five touchdowns. It would be nice if he could cut down on the picks (nine on the season and five in his last four games).

Moving Down

Sam Bradford, Rams
Bradford was a borderline fantasy backup despite having just one starting caliber wide receiver. And he just lost that guy with Danny Amendola out for six to seven weeks with a dislocated collarbone.

Running Backs

Moving Up

Rashard Mendenhall

Mendenhall: RB2 rest of the way.

Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
He was Moving Up last week because he was ready to resume playing for a Steelers team in need of a spark at running back. Spark supplied to the tune of 81 rushing yards, over 100 total yards and a score. RB2 the rest of the way.

Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
So much for a time-share in the Giants backfield. Bradshaw extinguished that possibility with a 200-rushing yard, one touchdown performance this week against the Browns. While Bradshaw was chalking up 34 touches, backup Andre Brown went down with a concussion and failed to touch the ball on offense.

Ryan Mathews, Chargers
Mathews showed this week why he’s the man in San Diego and no longer the hottest buy low opportunity in fantasy football. You needed to make that happen last week, folks, because Mathews owners won’t be letting him go for 50 cents on the dollar after his 80 rushing yards, 59 receiving yards, and one touchdown performance this week against the Saints. Jackie Battle proved he is a plodder while Mathews looked like a hungry, top five fantasy running back.

Alex Green and James Starks, Packers
Cedric Benson could be headed to injured reserve with a Lisfranc sprain, opening up the starting gig in the Packers backfield. Green subbed in with a nine carries, 55 yards this week but 41 of those yards came on one carry. Head coach Mike McCarthy has said he doesn’t yet trust giving Green a full workload but Starks may not be fully healed from the turf toe injury he suffered in the preseason. Looks like it will be a committee but if I had to pick one guy, I’d gamble on Starks.

LaRod Stephens-Howling, Alfonso Smith and William Powell, Cardinals
Beanie Wells is on injured reserve and Ryan Williams is headed there so the Cardinals backfield is wide open. These three guys have to be Moving Up but none can be trusted until they emerge and I don’t see that happening. Don’t give up your waiver priority for a 1/3 chance at a RB3. If you’re truly desperate, my pick is Smith but it is worth noting that there are several serviceable veteran free agent running backs that are looking for work.

Daniel Thomas, Dolphins
Goal line dud in 2011 to goal line stud in 2012? Not quite but he does have touchdowns in two of his last three games and the bye weeks are upon us with the injuries at running back piling up.

Moving Down

Ryan Williams, Cardinals
He’s out for the year with a shoulder injury which means he won’t set a MU/MD record of Moving Down three weeks in a row. Basically, Williams’ injury forces his owners not to start him, which isn’t a bad thing the way he was playing.

DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
With Stewart healthy and the Panthers offensive line a mess, neither Panthers running back is startable. They are bye week fill in or flex options, at best.

Wide Receivers

Moving Up

Marques Colston, Saints
Colston looked a step slow and like a player playing through a foot injury during the first three weeks of the season. Sure enough, he was. Over the Saints past two games, Colston has caught 18 passes for 284 yards and four touchdowns. Looks like the foot is healed. Did we mention that tight end Jimmy Graham was wearing a walking boot after the Saints-Chargers game this week?

Victor Cruz, Giants
Duh. With Hakeem Nicks out, Cruz has been a target machine, averaging over 11 per game. This week, he caught five balls for a measly 50 yards but three were for touchdowns. With Nicks’ future cloudy, Cruz is looking set as a WR1 over the balance of the season.

Josh Gordon, Browns
In his most extensive action of the season, Gordon came up big for the Browns, hauling in a pair of touchdown passes and gaining 82 yards on the day. Sure, the touchdowns were the only catches he had but he made them count and his eight targets were six more than the drop prone Greg Little had. Gordon could be the team’s new top threat at wide receiver much earlier than expected. If you read above, you also know the Browns are throwing it around plenty over their last four games.

Robert Meachem, Chargers
Meachem is another guy who made his catches count this week, hauling in a pair of touchdowns amongst his three receptions. Looks like he might finally be on the same page as quarterback Philip Rivers and if the price is right, he makes for a good trade target.

Jeremy Kerley, Jets
The Jets need to throw it to someone and with Stephen Hill and Dustin Keller out this week, Kerley had nine targets, catching five of them for 94 yards.

Moving Down

Jordy Nelson, Packers
After his two receptions and 29 yards this week against the sad sack Colts secondary, Nelson is on pace to finish the season with 925 receiving yards and three touchdowns and that’s with Greg Jennings having missed almost three full games. That’s a tad off his 1,263-yard, 15-touchdown performance from 2011. That being said, I would rate him as a buy low option.

Jeremy Maclin, Eagles
Returning from a hip injury this week, Maclin caught five of his eight targets for 39 yards against the Steelers. That gives him seven receptions for 69 yards over his last three games.

Brandon LaFell, Panthers
After a pair of nice games to open the season, LaFell has gone cold, catching just four passes for 71 yards over his past three games including an O-fer in Week 4. After the Panthers Week 6 bye, he gets the Cowboys and Bears. Not good.

Justin Blackmon, Jaguars
The most receiving yards he has put up in a single game is 48 and he’s averaging 2.4 FPts/G. Blaine Gabbert isn’t helping Blackmon but it doesn’t appear that Blackmon’s helping Gabbert either.

Tight Ends

Moving Up

Joel Dreessen, Broncos
He ain’t sexy, he’s my touchdown scoring tight end. Meet Joel Dreessen. Dreessen has become Mr. Red Zone for the Broncos, tallying scores in each of the team’s last three games despite chalking up just 74 receiving yards in those games.

Moving Down

Jimmy Graham, Saints
An ankle injury caused him to miss time this week and we won’t know until next week how serious the injury is since the Saints have a bye in Week 6.

Tuesday Morning Buzz – Week 5, 2012

By: — @ 11:23 am
Filed under: Player Analysis

Welcome to Tuesday Morning Buzz for Week 5! And what a week it was! This week we will attempt to break the record for most consecutive fantasy football recaps authored by an Aaron Williams. Let’s get right to it:

Cardinals – Rams
With many QBs struggling, injured, or on bye, many fantasy owners may be looking for a temporary fill-in. Kevin Kolb could be that guy. The Cards are doing well and Kolb is a big part of that, with a 60.5 completion rating and seven touchdowns. He’s no world-beater but could be a nice fill-in for you in the right matchup. Ryan Williams is now done for the year and Beanie Well is out until late November, so look for the Cards to trade for a running back soon. For the Rams, the perennially-too-highly-drafted Steven Jackson ran for 76 yards on 18 carries, which is still not enough to be worth your while.

Dolphins – Bengals
Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush make up a true running back committee, with 48 an 29 yards, respectively, and a touchdown each. Either player would be great if he were playing alone, but as it is, the timeshare makes me uncomfortable starting either one. Brian Hartline again led the Dolphins passing attack—but this time with much more realistic numbers. He had five receptions, but so did fullback Charles Clay. Caveat emptor.

The story of this game for the Bengals was Jermaine Gresham’s 60 yards. Gresham is a borderline starter and definite fill-in. With future injuries inevitable for starting tight ends, Gresham should be stashed from the waiver wire or traded for cheaply before he does something great and becomes unavailable.

Matt Cassel

Cassel's injury will have Brady Quinn starting in Week 6.

Ravens – Chiefs
This is the first of a couple of games that had very little fantasy value, as all of the scoring involved field goals. Rice and Charles both operated under their MO: running for high yardage totals but not touchdowns. Also, Shane Draughn got 12 carries, and he’s likely to fill the Peyton Hillis role. If Draughn continues on, he may prove Hillis superfluous. Don’t expect Matt Cassel (concussion) to play Week 6. Brady Quinn will be under center when the Chiefs travel to Tampa.

Speaking of Kansas City’s quarterback woes, Chiefs fans booed Cassel and cheered for his injury as he was knocked out after a legally vicious hit. The most effective illustration of my own opinion on the matter was quietly noted by Chiefs offensive lineman Eric Winston.

“We are athletes. We are not gladiators… It’s sickening. I want every fan to know it. We have a lot of problems as a society if people think that’s okay.”

I encourage you to Google his entire comment and take it in—especially if you happen to be a Chiefs fan or broadcast animosity towards any other fellow man. Many times, especially in terms of fantasy football, players are seen as objects instead of humans. I hope we can all agree that this perspective is ghoulish; we should all cheer the big hits, but not the injuries.

Browns – Giants
If the Browns could be guaranteed a day like this from Weeden (291 yds, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) each weekend, they could expect one of their best seasons ever. At some point these Browns are going to have to stop trading down and get some elite talent on their team, and maybe Trent Richardson is a good sign of the future.

The Giants passed the ultimate test this week as they were able to play offense and maintain their talent level against the Browns. Typically, Cleveland is able to sap the strength and will of opponents and force them to play some kind of penalty-laden mud fight. Until something changes, start ALL your Giants!

Eagles – Steelers
The Eagles broke an NFL record after Week 4, winning their first three games with the lowest margin of victory in history (+1, +1, +2). Now, after a 2-point loss to the Steelers, the Eagles have finally felt the numbing loss of giving away a football game. Michael Vick threw no interceptions but did have three fumbles and lost two of them. At this point, these Eagles are walking a thin line to fantasy sit-worthiness. Only LeSean McCoy had a great day for the Eagles.

For the Steelers, Big Ben and the passing attack had a mediocre game plagued by drops, but Mendenhall was excellent rushing the ball in split time. Be wary if the Steelers go back to him full time though, as Mendy is a very old 25 and could see more injury with a heavy workload. If Isaac Redman continues to spell him, he should be quite effective in fantasy and on the field.

Falcons – Redskins
Matt Ryan (345 yds, 2 TDs) was once again fantastic and should be started every week, as the coaching staff has finally done what they have been promising for years and taken off the reins. Tony Gonzalez made the most of the Falcons’ passing success with 123 yards and a touchdown, continuing his epic 16th season.

It was a scary game for Redskins fans as RGIII went down with a concussion; and I assure you no one was cheering, as Griffin was apparently unable to recall the score of the game or the current quarter. Yikes! It seems the effects of the concussion have worn off, However, and the electric RGIII should be back in action on the field and on your team in Week 6.

Seahawks – Panthers
The second un-fantastic football game of the week was played in Carolina. It seems the book is out on Cam Newton, and his play has decreased because of it. Fantasy owners would be wise to keep this in mind for Andrew Luck and especially Robert Griffin III next year.

Bears – Jaguars
The Bears defense has five pick-sixes through as many games and are well on pace to break the NFL record of nine held by the 1961 San Diego Chargers. The Bears DST should be started at all costs, and at this point I would consider trading someone like Marshawn Lynch or Alfred Morris for them; I don’t see any reason this defense will stop its ball-hawking strategy and success. Forget this game if you’re playing a Jag, as it likely wasn’t a good indicator of their performance—unless you’re starting Cecil Shorts.

Titans – Vikings
Chris Johnson is another bad game closer to being tradable for the Bears defense, too. The Vikings are playing way above their heads right now—but this is unacceptable for CJ2K. He was 15 for 24; however, considering one of those runs went for nine yards, the rest of his carries came to 1.07 yards per carry. The Vikings are now 4-1 and Peterson and Harvin should be started in all formats as long as this team is flying high. Ponder is another promising bye-week fill-in as well.

Broncos – Patkowskis
The Broncos are actually not playing that well. The Patriots controlled this game from the onset, and the Broncos simply defended their honor by scoring late in garbage time. Here’s the great thing about fantasy though: none of that matters! The Broncos getting down and fighting back through the air will lead to Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Willis McGahee, and Eric Decker having great fantasy days and winning matches for your team. Wise fantasy owners of said Broncos should be actively rooting against Denver.

This is the best Pats running game we’ve seen in some time. Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden, and Danny Woodhead all performed admirably, but Ridley especially proved his fantasy effectiveness and could be great trade bait right now. From an owner looking through Pats-colored glasses, you could probably get yourself a RB who’s much better than Ridley.

Bills – 49ers
At this point, any offense playing Buffalo should be started with gusto. The Bills have the dubious honor of breaking multiple team and NFL records for being a miserable defense. They broke a team record for most yards given up (580) last week to the Patriots and followed that up by breaking it again, allowing 621 yards to the 49ers on Sunday! On top of that, the Bills became the first team since the NFL–AFL merger to give up 300 yards passing and rushing in the same game and also became the first to give up 550 or more yards in consecutive games. It was truly a defensive stenchfest of epic proportions.

For the 49ers, it was obviously a fantastic day. But be warned that this won’t be the norm. This is not a 45-point team, and they likely won’t eclipse 25 points in most games this season. Don’t get sucked into an Alex Smith trade either, as there are plenty of cheaper and equally valuable options out there.

Chargers – Saints
Both quarterbacks had fantastic nights, but this one belonged to Brees. Floyd and Meachem looked great for the Chargers, and Colston and Henderson swung a lot of fantasy games with elite performances. Even Greg Camarillo got involved, catching four passes for 44 yards. The only rusher worth his weight on Sunday night was Ryan Mathews, who rushed 12 times for 80 yards—and a hyper-athletic touchdown—and tacked on six receptions for 59 yards.

$#^% Chris Collinsworth Says
On Brees having to crane his neck to see over his offensive linemen:

“It’s a six-year-old trying to see over Dad to throw a pass or something—but this six-year-old is pretty good!”

Collinsworth certainly has an interesting way of putting things, but my own thoughts on Brees are best summed up in the following hotly-contested piece from last year’s Tuesday Morning Buzz.

Brees for MVP!
I have made no bones about my infatuation with Drew Brees or about making outlandish statements of opinion. Last year I argued that Drew Brees was just as legitimate of a candidate for MVP as Aaron Rodgers and is the best quarterback playing today. This year I will argue one step further: I believe that Drew Brees is the best quarterback the NFL has ever seen. Consider what Brees has done in his limited play time: Most passing yards in a single season (5,476), most seasons with 5,000+ yards, Highest completion percentage in a season (71.2), most seasons with a 70 percent completion percentage, most completions in a season (468), Most 400+ completion seasons, most consecutive 4,000-yard and 30+ touchdown seasons (4), Most games with 5+ touchdowns, and dozens more. I highly suggest anyone skeptical of my opinion to view his full list of accomplishments. Oh, and guess who is leading the league in yards and touchdowns through five weeks?

This week, however, Drew Brees broke one of the records that, as commentators love to say, “I thought would never be broken” in Johnny Unitas’s streak of 47 games with a touchdown pass. It should be said that Johnny U played primarily in a rushing league, which intensifies how epic that record was then. But as no other quarterback is really close to that number (Brady is next at 37), I don’t view today’s passing league as having anything to do with Brees’ domination.

In his pursuit of this record, Brees has used his great accuracy to burn through passing yardage stats (fastest to reach 40,000 yards in a career as well as fastest to reach 3,000, 4,000, and 5,000 yards in a single season). Just to use the stats presented during the game, Brees broke Unitas’s record of 1,302 completions on 1,891 total passes (68.8%) compared to Unitas’s 697 completions on 1298 passes (53.7%). In addition, Brees threw 114 touchdowns with 50 picks while Unitas threw 102 touchdowns and 61 picks over the same span.

Finally, Brees’ leadership quality and personality traits cannot be questioned. He is a fiery competitor, a fierce teammate, a consummate professional, and carries the entire city of New Orleans on his back. There simply is no category in which another quarterback has ever been better. Now, if your requirement for “greatest quarterback ever” is Super Bowl wins, then he likely will not meet your expectations; but in efficiency, skill, or any other quarterback trait, Brees cannot be definitively outmatched and is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Sadly, I don’t believe most of the NFL fanbase realizes the greatness we’re seeing.

Texans – Jets
The story of the Texans offense in Week 5 is the story of Arian Foster and Owen Daniels. We’re used to Foster (152 yds, 1 TD), but it’s been a while since Owen Daniels put his targets to good use. If he’s able to maintain the level of production this Texans offense can give him, he can easily crack the top 5 at his position this year. For the Jets, this seems to be a lost season. They started slow in the preseason, had a fantastic Week 1 win against the Bills’ pitiful defense, and then went on a slew of unimpressive performances up to, at least, Monday night. I can’t imagine there are many New York Jets on fantasy teams, but if you’re hanging on to someone like Shonn Greene, I’d find other options.

And that’s it! For Week 6, I believe you should maximize matchup decisions and bye-week fill-ins using players from the following teams: Falcons, Lions, Eagles, Vikings, Packers, Texans, Broncos, and Chargers. Feel free to ask me questions in the comments here, but please also ask them/follow me on Twitter!

Dave’s Take: Fantasy Football Tips, News & Notes – Week 5, 2012

By: — October 5, 2012 @ 5:54 pm
Filed under: Player Analysis

1. It has been written about plenty but we will chime in here anyway. It seems only a matter of time before the Jets make a switch at the quarterback position. Incumbent starter Mark Sanchez has been nothing short of awful after dismantling Buffalo in Week 1 but it turns out that was hardly a monumental achievement as the Bills ranked a lowly 23rd in pass defense despite facing the Chiefs and Browns in two of their four contests. With the team’s rushing attack struggling and Santonio Holmes, the team’s top playmaker on offense, out for the season and a cast of journeymen and unproven rookie 2nd round pick Stephen Hill on the depth chart at wide receiver, the Jets will be forced to run more often. We expect the Jets coaching staff will determine that backup Tim Tebow gives the team the best chance to win over the remainder of the season. If he is available on your league’s waiver wire and you need a QB2 for your fantasy roster, grab him a week early rather than waiting a week too long and missing out.

Shonn Greene

Greene: Off to another slow start.

2. Sticking with the Jets backfield, running back Shonn Greene is off to another slow start in 2012. After a solid performance in Week 1, Greene has struggled to find running room over the last three weeks, gaining just 97 yards on 41 carries and failing to top the 40-yard mark. While the Jets have faced some strong run defenses to open the season including the Steelers and 49ers, those numbers are disappointing and New York has increased backup Bilal Powell’s workload, particularly in games where the Jets are playing from behind. Greene’s contract expires at the end of the season and it does not appear the team is any hurry to offer him an extension. Given his struggles and contract situation, it won’t be a surprise if the Jets have a new starting backfield by midseason.

3. Another running back that has struggled after a solid start to the season is Buccaneers rookie 1st round pick Doug Martin. Expected to log extended playing time, Martin saw his role reduced this past week after a pair of subpar efforts in Weeks 2 and 3. In his last three games, Martin has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry on his 47 attempts. Worse yet, he has failed to be a target in the passing game with just four receptions during those contests and lost goal line touches to LeGarrette Blount. Thought to be a solid RB2 entering the season, Martin is shaping up as an RB3.

4. With their win last night over Arizona, the Rams went over .500 for the first time since the 2006 season (not a typo, folks, they have been that bad). While their win over the Cardinals was big news, even bigger was the news that the team had renegotiated running back Steven Jackson’s contract to allow him to void the final year of his deal in 2013. With the Rams looking to reload at the running back position and having used 2nd and 7th round picks in this year’s draft on Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson, Jackson will need to have an impressive year to remain with the team in 2013.

5. Sticking with the Rams, the news that slot receiver Danny Amendola will miss six to seven weeks with a dislocated clavicle is a devastating development for the team’s passing attack and quarterback Sam Bradford. Clearly the team’s best receiver and Bradford’s go to guy, Amendola had caught 31 passes for 351 yards over the first four weeks of the season. Look for Steve Smith or Austin Pettis to take over his role and if one takes over the job outright, they are worth taking a flyer on in deeper leagues.

6. The word out of Green Bay is that the Packers brass has been pleased with the play of running back Cedric Benson. The question is why? He is averaging 3.6 yards per carry while finding the end zone just once in four games. What he has done is avoid coughing up the ball, fumbling just once on a play that did not result in a turnover. While there is plenty of evidence to suggest Benson will hold on to the lead role in the Packers backfield, those desperate for running back depth could stash Alex Green or James Stark on the bench in the hopes that the Packers determine they need more from their lead back or Benson rediscovers the fumbling issues that plagued his last season in Cincinnati.

7. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan compared rookie running back Alfred Morris to Terrell Davis this week and said he had a “big time” future. In past seasons, you would figure it would be any minute before Morris found himself on the inactive list. However, with Roy Helu on injured reserve, Evan Royster struggling and unable stay healthy and only Ryan Grant also on the roster, it appears that Shanahan will likely lean on Morris for much of the 2012 season. This might just be the year that the Shanny curse at running back doesn’t materialize.

8. With Santonio Holmes out for the year, there has been plenty of speculation as to which wide receiver on the roster will benefit from his absence. Rookie Stephen Hill, 2nd year player Jeremy Kerley and veteran journeyman Chaz Schilens figure to earn the majority of the playing time at wide receiver but none are expected to emerge as a solid, go to receiver for the team’s quarterbacks. If you are looking for the player to reap the benefit the most from Holmes’ absence, look no further than tight end Dustin Keller. While Keller has missed the past three games with a hamstring injury, he should emerge as the team’s main weapon in the short and intermediate passing game and should be plenty motivated given his impending free agent status.

9. Broncos running back Willis McGahee was expected to see his production decrease in 2012 after a stellar campaign in 2011 when he rushed for 1,199 yards during his first year as a Bronco. However, he has benefitted from a running back depth chart that has suffered through injury, ineffectiveness and fumbling issues to continue to get a healthy number of touches each week as the team’s lead back. With 325 yards on the ground in four games, McGahee is on pace to eclipse his production from last season and while his current projected total of 1,300 rushing yards seems unrealistic, nobody on the team’s roster seems set to eat into his playing time in a big way at the moment. That makes him a great target since whoever added him to their fantasy roster likely picked him up as a RB3.

Moving Up, Moving Down – Week 4, 2012

By: — October 2, 2012 @ 1:02 pm
Filed under: Player Analysis


Moving Up

Matt Ryan, Falcons
Okay, this one’s obvious but there was a lack of suitable candidates so this is recognizing that Ryan is the real deal as a fantasy starter. The Falcons are chucking it plenty even when they play soft run defenses, putting Ryan on pace to throw for over 4,500 yards and 44 touchdowns. That’s upper tier QB1 territory.

Moving Down

Matt Cassel, Chiefs
Seven picks and three lost fumbles and we’re only four games into the season. If Cassel continues to be a turnover machine and the Chiefs continue their losing ways (currently sitting 1-3), it won’t be long before Cassel finds himself riding the pine.

Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars
Gabbert has had his moments this season but it said a lot when he couldn’t produce this week against a Bengals secondary that was missing its four top cornerbacks. With Leon Hall, Nate Clements, Dre Kirkpatrick and Jason Allen out, Gabbert threw for just 186 yards. After a solid performance in Week 1 against the Vikings, Gabbert has thrown for 394 yards over Jacksonville’s last three games. That type of production will have him heading to the bench at some point in 2012.

Matthew Stafford

Stafford is the 14th-ranked fantasy QB after four games.

Matthew Stafford, Lions
Opposing defenses are forcing Detroit to march the ball down the field and the Lions and Stafford have not adjusted. With just three touchdown passes on the season, Stafford is going to have to have a monster performance over the final 12 games to match the 41 touchdown passes he threw in 2011. That seems unlikely.

Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said this week that backup Matt Flynn won’t start because his elbow isn’t ready to handle a full week of practice. That doesn’t mean Wilson won’t be on a short leash during this week’s matchup against the Panthers.

Running Backs

Moving Up

Chris Johnson, Titans
He’s alive! Sure – it was in a blowout loss. But Johnson looked good, gaining 141 yards on 25 carries against the Texans. CJ2K is probably still a buy low but not quite as bad as he was last week when I was offered his services for Darren Sproles and declined.

Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
Steelers have averaged a very un-Steeler like 65 yards per game on the ground with Mendenhall out of the lineup. He’s apparently ready and he vaults to the top of the team’s depth chart at running back provided he is healthy. Look for that to happen this week.

Branden Bolden, Patriots
With 137 yards and a touchdown this week on just 16 carries, Bolden has to be Moving Up. Will he be joining my roster in any of the leagues that I am in? Probably not. Let’s remember that Danny Woodhead was claimed in many leagues based on the 16 touches he had in Week 3 and this week he touched the ball twice.

Michael Turner, Falcons
Sell high, folks! When a former stud running back who can’t catch the ball has seen his role decrease to the point where he is getting 15 touches a game pads his point total with a 60 yard touchdown pass, the first of his nine-year career, against a sad sack defense and notches 23 points on the day, you thank the fantasy gods and sell high.

Moving Down

Ryan Williams, Cardinals
When the Cardinals placed Chris Wells on injured reserve, everybody went gaga over Williams. But you didn’t see him Moving Up last week, did ya? Outside of Williams chalking up some garbage time points against the Eagles in Week 3 (seven rushes for 62 yards in the fourth quarter of the Cardinals blow out win), he’s been nothing short of awful. Take away the garbage time points and Williams has rushed 69 yards on 37 carries. No, that’s not a typo. Touchdowns – zero. Receiving yards – 39.

Darren McFadden, Raiders
It has been tough sledding thus far in 2012 for Run-DMC, as he has failed to top 2.6 yards per carry in three of his four games. There has been plenty of speculation as to whether the team’s new blocking scheme is to blame but really, does it matter when he’s averaging 9.3 FPts/G, a far cry from the 15.3 he put up in 2011.

DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
He’s averaging 3.9 yards a pop on the season and just 2.6 over his last three games. His receiving chops are helping out (16 for 114 on the season) but if the Cowboys offensive line doesn’t improve, Murray is clearly headed for RB2 status.

Ryan Mathews, Chargers
It’s a timeshare for the time being in San Diego with Mathews splitting carries with the legendary Jackie Battle. And no, Mathews isn’t the one getting the goal line looks.

Doug Martin, Bucs
Martin’s lackluster performance over the past three weeks (3.2 yards per carry) resulted in LeGarrette Blount getting his most extensive work of the season this past week, including some goal line carries.

Wide Receivers

Moving Up

Dez Bryant, Cowboys
Moving Down one week. Moving Up the next. Sure – he dropped a ton of balls but he also showed us on Monday night just how good he can be if he ever gets rid of the concentration lapses. Bryant caught eight of 13 targets for 105 yards but he could have come close to 200 yards without the drops.

Brian Hartline, Dolphins
Who knew Hartline was this good? Not me, that’s for sure. After failing to top 100 receiving yards during his first 45 games in the league, Hartline has topped the century mark twice in the last three weeks, including his 12-reception, 253-yard, one touchdown performance this week against the Cardinals. Let’s not go overboard here but I’m ready to make the call that Hartline is a mid-tier to low end WR3 over the balance of the season.

Andre Roberts, Cardinals
Four games, four touchdowns for Roberts to go along with 15 receptions for 229 yards. The Cardinals like Roberts although this Moving Up is tempered by the knowledge that rookie 1st round pick Michael Floyd was targeted eight times this week.

Domenik Hixon, Giants
I guess after Hixon’s six-reception, 114-yard performance this week it is safe to conclude that Ramses Barden isn’t the Giants third wide receiver after all.

Moving Down

Laurent Robinson, Jaguars
It appears that Robinson suffered his second concussion of the season this week. Not good.

Hakeem Nicks, Giants
Can’t seem to get healthy.

Greg Jennings, Packers

Tight Ends

Moving Up

Greg Olsen, Panthers
Our preseason preview made note of the fact that Olsen was AWOL from the Panthers offense for the last few games of the 2011 season. That’s ancient history. With 21 targets over the last two games and 31 on the season, Olsen has emerged as a lower tier TE1. Better yet, he’s on a roll over his last two games with 13 receptions for 187 yards and a score.

Moving Down

Jermichael Finley, Packers
Seriously, folks. Will Finley ever break out? He had another okay game this week catching four of his five targets (the third week in a row that has happened) for a ho-hum 54 yards. With Greg Jennings sidelined, Finley’s owners need to ask themselves why he hasn’t been a bigger part of the Packers offense and whether it’s time to see what they can get for the talented yet enigmatic Green Bay tight end, who is on pace to finish the season with 748 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

Tuesday Morning Buzz – Week 4, 2012

By: — @ 12:41 pm
Filed under: Player Analysis

Welcome to the Tuesday Morning Buzz! Week 4 is all about finding patterns and things you can count on throughout the bye weeks. To that end, much of this article is about what you can take away and what you should ignore. And now, a moment of silence for the much maligned Replacements.

Pain Heals. Chicks Dig Scars. Glory Lasts Forever.
So, after our glorious debate last week, the NFL caved and gave the regular officials their pension and ridiculous pay increase. Imagine this, not only do you get to keep your pension of yesteryear, you get a 30 percent pay increase over the next five years. Can you imagine a 30 percent pay increase in five years? That is a CEO level of bump. Such is the world of the NFL! However, it is great to have the regulars back again, so that at least the teams and players can focus on playing the game and not on trying to rattle rookie refs. My favorite moment with The Replacement was the ludicrously named Don King and his JFK-esque manner of speech. What was your favorite ref-related instance from the first three weeks?

I’ve got to start this week by eating a little crow. The Browns are better than I thought they were. With high fantasy points from their star RB and WR, as well as confident play from their quarterback, the Browns looked like they just may not be the worst winless team in football. Start Richardson and maybe Little, but relying on Cleveland still terrifies me. The Ravens showed you nothing new this week, as Ray Rice, Joe Flacco, and Anquan Boldin played exactly as you expected they would when you drafted them. Make sure Torrey Smith is owned in your league, as that spotlight is not going away any time soon.

Matt Ryan

Mad man, Matt Ryan.

This week, Cam Newton put forth a statistical spectacular of Vick-like proportions, as though saying to fantasy owners, “Look baby, I know I hurt you last week, and I know you’re mad, but let me make it up to you.” At this point, I’d take the preacher’s son over Tom Patkowski. The Falcons have finally become a consistent offensive powerhouse, as they have been talking about for four years. Not only is Matt Ryan throwing the ball like a mad man, but White and Jones are becoming the NFL’s wide receiver tandem of the year. Don’t worry about Jones’ one catch this game; he’ll bounce back next week against a Redskins defense that will contain Roddy White.

The Pats were pissed. They’d been looking downright human the past couple of weeks, and that doesn’t sit too well with a team that considers themselves the cream of the crop—and the Bills only made matters worse by jumping out to a 21-7 lead into the third quarter. Then, with five straight possessions ending in touchdowns, the Pats came back and took a victory. I’m not sure how much I would trust Brandon Bolden, or Wes Welker for that matter, to repeat that performance again this year, but Stevan Ridley earned my vote to start the rest of the season. The Bills aren’t world beaters, but the rookie looked impressive.

For the Bills, it’s an impossible-to-win guessing game as to which one of their WRs will approach 100 yards from week to week, so I would generally stay away if you can. However, I would consider starting Spiller, even in the presence of Fred Jackson. Spiller’s injury is the only thing that kept his touches down in this game.

How ‘bout them Minnesota Vikings? With good fantasy days from Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, whose numbers were helped by a classic return for a touchdown, the Vikings are challenging for a division title (which they won’t win). However, as long as a team thinks they’re good, they’ll continue to play excellently until someone deflates them. And since they’ve recently won the toughest game on their schedule (49ers), it may be some time before the Vikings fall into fantasy insignificance.

For Detroit, it was good to see Matthew Stafford return and throw 51 passes for 319 yards, plus running back Mikel Leshoure rushed with every meaningful carry in the game—a pattern likely to repeat for higher rewards. Leshoure may be easy to trade for with your flex WR, and he is likely to be a much better value.

In the wake of an injury to Jake Locker early on, Chris Johnson flourished under the quarterback play of Matt Hasselbeck. Amazingly, when a competent quarterback stands behind them, the offensive line suddenly performs and Johnson suddenly has legs again. This likely has to do with defenses respecting Matt Hasselbeck, but that should provide a bit of breathing room, and as we all know, a little bit of room is all Johnson needs to take it all the way.

For the Texans, the only real news is the resurgence of Owen Daniels. Just in the nick of time, too, as he should fill in nicely for TEs on bye. Six receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown is no fluke.

If you ever need a replacement defense—say, if you own the now Revis-less Jets—the Chargers are always a good choice. They never seem all that dominant, even when they are first in the league, as they were a couple of years ago, but they will likely be a top-10 DST by season’s end. Also, look for Ryan Mathews to come back and be a workhorse in the coming weeks—that is, if he can stay on the field.

The Chiefs have exactly two players worth owning in 10-team leagues: Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles. Both played highly important roles in the Chiefs’ limited success on Sunday, and both are automatic starts most weeks. If you picked Charles at value, you should feel extremely confident in the explosive back’s play for the rest of the year.

What is there to say that hasn’t already been said by these San Francisco 49ers? The defense is fantastic, the offense is good enough, and their fantasy value is a razor-thin line between not-enough and decent. Essentially, Frank Gore is matchup-proof and should be started at all times, with Kendall Hunter waiting in the wings for his inevitable fall.

For the Jets, is Greg McElroy the best passer on this team? I hate to be so terrible to Mark Sanchez, who just got paid and has a great record, but I’ve liked McElroy since college. I’ve spoken at length on how a quarterback’s brain is more important than his arm or legs in modern-age football, and this is why Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are able to play at the level they do. Not to mention his Rhodes scholarship finalist status, McElroy scored a 48 out of 50 on the Wonderlic test (twice the average score of quarterbacks) and was sadly underwritten.

Why do I bring this up? In my opinion, the Jets are sitting on a goldmine in McElroy and will someday be rewarded if the Sanchez–Tebow combination ever gets run out of town. I don’t know what will happen if this team continues to flounder, but if they give McElroy a real starter’s chance, I believe he will change the concept and the skill level of the Jets offense on the field. He’s definitely worth a pickup if the Jets continue to flame out.

How sad is the state of affairs for these offenses when there is but one player between both teams who is worth starting each week? Marshawn Lynch broke free from the bonds of Buffalo and has since electrified the Seattle fanbase, but otherwise there are no fantasy studs in this matchup. “But what about Steven Jackson?” you ask. Jackson has taken 59 carries for 195 yards (3.3 yards per carry) and has scored as many touchdowns as Marshall Faulk this season. Don’t let the name and the NFL Shop commercials fool you—Stevan Ridley will end this season with more points.

In Training Camp Hype, yours truly stated that, “Brian Hartline is the best thing [the Dolphins] have got talent-wise, and that is certainly damning with faint praise.” I have known that the wide receiver was good since his Ohio State days. However, he has always been good for a few big catches per year but has never been an every-week starter. We shall see if he can turn that corner and become a consistent target for Ryan Tannehill. Either way, he is definitely worth a bench spot—at least as trade bait—in case he turns out.

Another DST unit in the same underrated and ugly class as the San Diego Chargers is that of the Arizona Cardinals. They are so good up front that they can sometimes pressure the quarterback with only two down linemen. They don’t always hold off a high point total, but they’re usually good for some defensive bonus points. And in the manner of Brian Hartline, I would also consider stashing Ryan Williams, just in case the Cardinals do the sensible thing and feature him.

What? The Raiders played a sloppy football game and got forced to play out of their comfort zone in a big divisional matchup on the road versus Peyton Manning? You don’t say! I hope you started your Broncos, as Manning, McGahee, Thomas, and Decker all did very well for themselves, and should continue to produce when the matchup is favorable enough. This was a game that went exactly as the Broncos drew it up. Get to a lead early to reduce the risk of Darren McFadden, and then pummel the weak Raiders passing offense with lockdown D. Raiders fans should have heart, though, as McFadden and Sebastian “White Trash Awesome” Janikowski will continue to be startable in all formats.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis owners everywhere must have ripped their hair out when Andy Dalton scored the only rushing touchdown of the game for either side. Sadly, Green-Ellis’ stat line looks a little flat with 82 yards and zero touchdowns. I still maintain that he will end the year ranked far higher than he was drafted due to the Bengals red-zone rushing tendencies, but this definitely put a hamper on his week. He should fare better next week when they play the Dolphins in Cincy.

Marcedes Lewis, similar to Martellus Bennett, is a low-value waiver-wire TE pickup. Perhaps you have Jermichael Finley or Jason Witten and are looking for a replacement until they get it together. If so, look no farther than Lewis, who has quietly had two excellent games this year. He’s definitely a matchup play, but TE is tough this year.

Drew Brees, last year’s rightful MVP according to yours truly, showed his mettle on Sunday, throwing for 446 yards, three touchdowns, and just a dash of hope for fantasy owners. Most of the scoring in this game has to do with the bad defensive play of both teams, and little to do with the power of either offense. Rest assured that Marques Colston probably has his best game behind him and should be shipped off to the highest bidder. Brees will not allow this team to quit on this season, so expect point production all year long from at least Brees and Graham.

A couple of interesting points for the Packers: James Jones believed in himself and filled in nicely for the oft-injured Greg Jennings. Perhaps those Jet Ski push-ups aren’t the best rehab option for a groin injury. Cedric Benson also showed up briefly and ran against the Saints’ miserably weak run defense. Around 85 yards and maybe a touchdown is about the best performance you can expect from Benson, who won’t get a lot of carries in a five-wide Packers offense.

I want to say that Alfred Morris has earned a role as a fantasy starter. However, the arrival of Ryan Grant may throw a wrench into those plans. If you drafted RGIII as the backup to any quarterback, sell your previous starter as quickly as possible. Griffin’s going to be just fine all season long and should produce staggering fantasy numbers. For the Buccaneers, Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount cannibalize far too much of each other’s game to make either anything more than a bye-week fill-in. The Bucs passing game is clicking, however, as Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson played excellent games on Sunday and should continue to produce for the remainder of the season.

In Week 1, I brought to your attention the R.E. Shay quote, “Depend on the rabbit’s foot if you will, but remember it didn’t work for the rabbit,” after the Eagles managed a 1-point victory over the Cleveland Browns in a game rife with turnovers. This statement still holds true, as the Eagles won their third of four games this season by less than one field goal—thanks to a rare miss by Lawrence Tynes—and Michael Vick has been a one-man turnover machine (albeit he was clean this week).

This year, the Giants have found early success on the stat sheet and in the win column, which means one of two things: Either this will be Eli Manning’s best season to date, or the Giants will fizzle out by playing their best football early. Remember, this team has made their hay by turning it on late the past few years. Your Giants starters may become less valuable as the season wears on, so it would be prudent to keep a close eye on their momentum.

$#^% Chris Collinsworth Says
This week, Jon Gruden is our resident Chris Collinsworth, with his bizarre and hilarious likening of Jay Cutler and Tony Romo to famous Hollywood Cowboys.

“God Bless Tony Romo—They need to change the words of this song!”

All of my frustration with Gruden’s berating of The Replacements last week was gone, as he related Cutler to my favorite spaghetti western character, Josey “Buzzards Gotta Eat Too” Wales. If you haven’t seen Clint Eastwood’s Josey Wales flick, do yourself a favor and check it out—it’s fantastic. If you didn’t catch Gruden’s pre-game, he also compared Tony Romo to John Wayne in stating, “This is the toughest Cowboy in Texas.”

I don’t see how someone could have written a script more telling of the storylines for these two teams. The Cowboys came out, at home, and threw away the game by throwing the ball to the other team. Those interceptions were all good plays by the defense on ruined routes by the Dallas wide receivers, but it will all be blamed on Tony Romo. However, Romo did end up cancelling out some turnovers with a touchdown throw early, and Kyle Orton helped the slow-starting Jason Witten save his fantasy day with a late touchdown. For the Bears, it was a good, but not great, offensive performance. Cutler had a modest stat line, and Brandon Marshall racked up some yardage and a touchdown on a busted play in garbage time. These Bears are for real if they can ever develop a consistent O-line. I’m looking to a strong remainder of the season from Forte, Cutler, and Marshall.

P.S. How weird and awesome was that Los Lonely Boys intro? I have no idea who they are, but I hope ESPN continues to make really cool region-pieces for all of their Monday Night Football games.

And that’s it! Week 4 is in the proverbial books and there was not much controversy to mar the actual football talk of the week. For Week 5, I believe you should maximize matchup decisions and bye-week fill-ins using players from the following teams: Packers, Panthers, Patriots, Chargers, and Texans. Feel free to ask me questions in the comments here or on my brand new Twitter account!

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