BUMPS, BRUISES AND BOWOUTS
Doug Martin – Ankle
Giovani Bernard – Hip
Brian Quick – Arm
Robert Woods – Back
Le’Veon Bell – Ankle
Stepfan Taylor – Calf
Jordan Cameron – Concussion
Nate Washington – Shoulder
Cordarrelle Patterson – Foot
The pass is alive and well in the NFL with four quarterbacks topping 400 yards in just one week and Ben Roethlisberger torching the #2 pass defense of the Colts for 522 yards and six touchdowns. The season is nearing that point where depth charts change when teams realize the playoffs are out of reach and they try new players in anticipation of 2015. A few NFL teams each week get tired and fall prey to trap games or face highly motivated opponents usually defending their own stadium. The Colts and Packers never had a chance in Pittsburgh or New Orleans respectively.
The opportunities to upgrade your roster are becoming fewer but they still exist.
SETTLING ON A BACKFIELD
The target seems ever moving but the Ravens say they’ve settled on Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro as the joint starters and Bernard Pierce is back on the sidelines. Pierce returned in week five and spent the next two games scoring in each but with minimal yardage. Forsett remains the primary runner and backfield receiver. But in the loss to the Bengals, Pierce was a healthy scratch and Taliaferro ran seven times for 27 yards and two touchdowns plus added two catches for 42 yards. This coming week features six teams on bye and now Taliaferro is back in play as a fantasy starter and will be facing the visiting Buccaneers. Pierce’s time in the backfield rotation is over.
Jonas Gray turned in career marks when he rushed for 86 yards on 17 carries and that was not simply running out the clock late in the game. Gray was the starting running back in the win over the Bears and rushed nine times for 47 yards over the first two offensive series before Shane Vereen handled the next set of plays. Gray returned the following series with three more runs to gain 23 yards. The Pats then abandoned the run until later in the fourth quarter when Gray finished out the game. With the Patriots offense clicking again, Gray is relied on for the rushing chore early in games and his success cements his role as the Stevan Ridley replacement.
Life without the starting running backs was not a problem for the Bills who dominated the Jets. But Bryce Brown only ran for 15 yards on seven carries while Anthony Dixon gained 44 yards on 22 runs. Neither are fantasy relevant and both predictably performed poorly in New York. The Bills go on their bye now but return to face the Chiefs and Dolphins. Fred Jackson may return by then but his complement is not necessarily the more heavily-used Dixon. Brown just had his first playing time and should figure in more when they return. Of course Frank Summers hawking a rushing touchdown tempers any expectations that this backfield can produce anything more than desperation flex play in the coming weeks.
Mark Ingram spend his first three years in New Orleans doing little to remind anyone that he was a Heisman Trophy winner from Alabama who scored 46 touchdowns and averaged nearly six yards per carry in the SEC. But he not only comes off a career best 172 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries in the win over the Packers. He was held to just ten carries for 16 yards in Detroit in his first week back from a hand injury. But the first two games of the year contained 61 yards and two touchdowns in Atlanta and 104 yards and a score in Cleveland. Ingram is in a contract year and destined to be a free agent in the offseason. Coming up is a trip to Carolina before returning home to face the 49ers, Bengals and Ravens.
WIDEOUTS ON THE MOVE
It is just one game but at least Cordarrelle Patterson received a team high 12 targets – twice that of any other receiver. And he ended with a season best six catches for 86 yards and one rush for ten yards. The former first-round pick has been more about potential than production but has talents that should translate to the NFL. It is encouraging that Teddy Bridgewater would finally make him a priority. He’s found his way back onto many waiver wires and yet with his next two opponents of the Redskins and Bears, he belongs on a roster again if only to see if Bridgewater will continue to seek him as a primary target. The rookie quarterback’s first NFL touchdown went to Patterson in just the previous game.
Don’t undervalue the big game from the Colts wideout Donte Moncrief who ended with seven catches for 113 yards and a touchdown in the loss to the Steelers. The 6-2/221 rookie from Mississippi joined the team in the third round last May and only recorded nine catches for 103 yards in previous games. But Moncrief replaced the injured Reggie Wayne who is likely to either retire or assume a lesser role when he turns 37 in 2015. The Colts would prefer to let Moncrief become the new flanker and his first real playing time impressed. Wayne is currently out with an elbow injury. If he cannot play this weekend, Moncrief faces the Giants for his second start.
Another rookie who merits attention is the Steelers 4.18 pick of Martavis Bryant out of Clemson. His playing time comes at the expense of the disappointing Markus Wheaton. The rookie’s production in just two NFL games demands he belongs on a fantasy roster and not on your waiver wire. Bryant caught two passes for 40 yards and one touchdown in the win over the Texans during week seven. In the upset of the Colts, he caught five passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns. The Steelers have struggled in the red zone this year and the 5-11 Wheaton is not a solution. The 6-4 Bryant totals seven receptions for 123 yards and three touchdowns in just his first two games.
PASSING THE TORCH
The Jets offense is an obvious disappointment this year and the addition of Percy Harvin made no difference. Not only did Geno Smith throw three quick interceptions and get benched, but one interception was intended for Harvin. On a crossing route with Harvin running clear, Smith threw an incompletion about a foot over the smallish Harvin. He ended with only three catches for 22 yards despite the nine targets and was more effective as a running back from the shotgun when he gained 28 yards on four carries. Harvin is not a savior and the Jets are in equally bad shape using either Smith or Michael Vick at quarterback. HC Rex Ryan refused to name the starting quarterback in the post-game interview but if he goes back to Smith, the risk is that he looks like he has given up.
Zach Mettenberger’s first start resulted in a loss but he passed for 299 yards and two touchdowns against a visiting Texans defense. He not only connected with eight different receivers, the top two were the starting wide receivers Nate Washington (4-68) and Kendall Wright (3-53) and he threw one touchdown to slot receiver Justin Hunter (4-31). The rushing effort remains poor at best and offers no support to the passing offense. That means the next opponents of at the Ravens, Steelers and at the Eagles will force the Titans to throw. One game is too small a sample to consider Mettenberger as fantasy relevant yet, but his first playing time impressed and that makes him worth tracking.
There were a few surprising appearances and performances that could have to do with the pending trade deadline on Tuesday afternoon. Among those players considered most likely to be considered are Doug Martin, Zac Stacy, Matt Schaub, Larry Fitzgerald and Vincent Jackson. The NFL always has a way to surprise the fantasy world so pay attention this week if players change teams. That not only helps their new team, but reorders the depth charts for their previous offense.
|SD 21, DEN 35||This was a little disappointing only in that it ended up like it should have if you connect the dots from this year. Philip Rivers and the Chargers usually are problematic in Denver but never really made this into a game. Peyton Manning passed for 286 yards and three touchdowns that all went to Emmanuel Sanders (9-120) while Demaryius Thomas (8-105) still managed a nice showing. Julius Thomas was held to only 23 yards for his third straight bad game. Philip Rivers threw for 252 yards and three touchdowns as well which were split between Antonio Gates (5-54, 2 TD) and Keenan Allen (9-73, TD) who finally had a score this year. The difference was that the Chargers ran for only 44 yards on 14 carries while the Broncos saw both Ronnie Hillman (20-109) and Juwan Thompson (7-24, 2 TD) gave great ground support. Now the 6-1 Broncos head to New England and the 5-3 Chargers travel to Miami.|
|DET 22, ATL 21||
This was a great game in a low-scoring, “eat your blood pudding and mash” kind of way. The London affair kicked off at 9:30 AM EST and many on the west coast are still unaware it was played. Somehow the Lions let this be a game by allowing the Falcons to get ahead 21-0 in the first half but then because the Falcons are cursed this year, they ended up losing not only on the final second field goal, but the first attempt was no good but a delay of game penalty let Matt Prater try it from 48 where he was successful. Matt Stafford ended with 325 yards and two scores and Golden Tate (7-151, TD) has been outstanding in the absence of Calvin Johnson. Matt Ryan threw for 228 yards and two scores but the only player with a decent game was somehow Steven Jackson (18-60, TD). Now the 6-2 Lions and 2-6 Falcons both go onto their bye.
|SEA 13, CAR 9||Not exactly what we were wanting. The Panthers somehow got 79 yards on 16 carries by Jonathan Stewart but Cam Newton was held to just 171 yards and one interception. Kelvin Benjamin ended with a respectable 94 yards on four catches. Russell Wilson threw for 199 yards and one score but no receiver did better than Doug Baldwin (6-61) and Marshawn Lynch ran for just 62 yards on four carries. Notable – both Robert Turbin (2-10) and Christine Michael (4-12) were active this week. Now the 4-3 Seahawks host the Raiders and the 3-4-1 Panthers are still in the lead of the NFC South and host the Saints.|
|BAL 24, CIN 27||Good game that was a contender for Game-o-the-Week. Andy Dalton ran in the winning score on fourth down from the one-yard line with one minute left. He threw for 266 yards and no scores with Mohamed Sanu (5-125) still the only real passing weapon for the Bengals with A.J. Green still out. Dalton would run in two scores while Giovani Bernard (16-45, TD) had one score. Joe Flacco only passed for 195 yards and two interceptions. Justin Forsett ran for 68 yards but Bernard Pierce was a healthy scratch and Lorenzo Taliaferro not only ran for 27 yards and two scores but ended up as the leading receiver with just two catches for 42 yards. Now the 4-2-1 Bengals host the Jaguars and the 5-3 Ravens head to Pittsburgh.|
|MIA 27, JAX 13||No surprises here. The Fins pull off the win but Ryan Tannehill only passed for 196 yards and one score and no receiver had more than Mike Wallace (2-59), Lamar Miller ended with 99 total yards. Blake Bortles passed for 221 yards and a score but also two interceptions. Denard Robinson ran for 108 yards on 18 carries for a nice second start and Allen Robinson (5-82, TD) caught his score at the end of the fourth quarter. Now the 4-3 Dolphins host the Chargers and the 1-7 Jaguars head to Cincinnati.|
|STL 7, KC 34||The Rams never had a chance. Austin Davis was held to only 160 yards and one score while the marginal rushing game was once again divided into three parts for Tre Mason (7-32), Benny Cunningham (4-27) and Zac Stacy (5-17). Alex Smith only threw for 226 yards because Jamaal Charles ran for 73 yards and two scores with 44 more yards as a receiver. Knile Davis ran for 49 yards and a score as well. The 2-5 Rams do not fare well away from home and head to San Francisco this week. The 4-3 Chiefs will host the Jets.|
|CHI 23, NE 51||The Patriots exerted some homefield muscle over the stumbling Bears and Tom Brady ended with 354 passing yards and five touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski finally paid off big-time with nine catches for 149 yards and three touchdowns while Brandon LaFell (11-124, TD) and even Tim Wright (7-61, TD) both turned in very nice efforts. Shane Vereen only managed 45 total yards while Jonas Gray ran for 86 yards. Jay Cutler threw for 227 yards and three scores but Martellus Bennett (6-95, TD) and Alshon Jeffery (5-59, TD) were as good as it got for the Bears. Matt Forte ran for 114 yards and added six receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown. Now the 3-5 Bears head onto their bye and the 6-2 Patriots host the Broncos.|
|BUF 43, NYJ 23||It just never gets any better for the Jets. Geno Smith started out completing two of eight passes for five yards and three interceptions. Michael Vick grabbed his helmet and only threw one interception during his 153 pass yards. Vick ran for 69 yards while Chris Ivory turned 13 runs into 43 yards and two scores. Percy Harvin had nine targets that became three catches for 22 yards so the move was positive for him. Kyle Orton threw for 238 yards and four touchdowns and Sammy Watkins (3-157, TD) becomes the most recent rookie to learn about celebrating a long touchdown a little too early. The funny part? Anthony Dixon (22-44) and Bryce Brown (7-15) were both waiver wire grabs last week but of course Frank Summers ran in the lone rushing score. Now the 5-3 Bills go on their bye and the 1-7 Jets travel to Kansas City.|
|MIN 19, TB 13||That was quick. A low scoring, mostly boring game goes into overtime and the first play has Mike Glennon (171 pass yards, TD) throwing a strike to Austin Sefarian-Jenkins (3-26, TD) who then was stripped and the fumble returned for the Vikings win. There was no big performances here other than Cordarrelle Patterson (6-86) actually doing something. Jerick McKinnon ran for 83 yards on 16 carries. The Buccaneers are dividing up the rushing pie so that no one matters and that only gets worse when Charles Sims returns.The 3-5 Vikings will host the Redskins this week and the 1-6 Buccaneers head to Cleveland.|
|HOU 30, TEN 16||Nothing much happening here other than Arian Foster (20-151, 2 TD) adding a third score as a receiver (4-22) and everyone else could have stayed home. Zach Mettenberger received his first start and ended with a respectable 299 yards and two scores with one interception. And that was using eight different receivers with no one better than Nate Washington (4-68). But Bishop Sankey (9-35) never got in gear and the Titans were playing from behind almost the whole game. Now the 4-4 Texans will host the Eagles for more offensive fun and the 2-6 Titans go onto their bye.|
|PHI 20, ARI 24||Solid game for fantasy purposes. Nick Foles passed for 411 yards and two scores with two interceptions. Jeremy Maclin ended with 12 catches for 187 yards and two scores. LeSean McCoy turned in 97 total yards. Carson Palmer threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns that were mostly split between Larry Fitzgerald (7-160, TD) and John Brown (5-119, TD) but Michael Floyd failed to catch any of his four targets. Andre Ellington ran for 71 yards and a score and added 14 more yards on three receptions. Now the 5-2 Eagles head to Houston and the 6-1 Cardinals head to Dallas for a very hyped game.|
|OAK 13, CLE 23||The Browns were good enough that there was no talk about replacing Brian Hoyer (275 yards, TD) with Johnny Clipboard for this week though they were playing the worst team in the NFL. Ben Tate only ran for 26 yards on 15 carries but scored once. Andrew Hawkins (7-88, TD) was the top receiver for the Browns. Derek Carr passed for 328 yards and one score but Andre Holmes (5-69, TD) scored with only ten seconds left so don’t read much into that. This was an ugly game and now the 0-7 Raiders head to Seattle for what would be a hilarious upset and the 4-3 Browns host the Buccaneers.|
|GB 23, NO 44||This was a n excellent late Sunday game and a contender for Game-o-the-week. Aaron Rodgers threw for 418 yards and one score and his two interceptions both came off tipped catches. Randall Cobb (5-126, TD) was the top receiver and Eddie Lacy added 59 rush yards to 123 yards on eight catches for a big game. Drew Brees threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns with Brandin Cooks (6-94, TD) and Jimmy Graham (5-59, TD) best for the Saints. Mark Ingram set a career high with 172 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. The 2-4 Saints head to Carolina and the 5-2 Packers go onto their bye.|
HUDDLE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Ben Roethlisberger – The Steelers are too good to call it a trap game but the Colts were overwhelmed by the Steelers for the entire game and Big Ben’s numbers could have been higher than his 522 passing yards and six passing touchdowns. Unfortunately his stats this year did not suggest such a monster game was in the making and he may have gone off on many fantasy benches. The Colts were merely the #2 defense against quarterbacks. “Were”.
DRAMA 101 – SOMEBODY HAS TO LAUGH, SOMEBODY HAS TO CRY
|QB||Kyle Orton||244||4||QB||Cam Newton||195||0|
|RB||Theo Riddick||79||1||RB||Marshawn Lynch||64||0|
|RB||Lorenzo Taliaferro||69||2||RB||Shane Vereen||45||0|
|WR||Brandin LaFell||124||1||WR||Jordy Nelson||25||0|
|WR||Martavis Bryant||83||2||WR||Brandon Marshall||35||0|
|WR||Donte Moncrief||113||1||WR||Steve Smith||35||0|
|TE||Tim Wright||61||1||TE||Julius Thomas||23||0|
|PK||Dan Carpenter||13 pts||PK||Nick Novak||3 pts|
|Huddle Fantasy Points = 144||Huddle Fantasy Points = 30|
Sunday’s Couch Commentary
Big passing games this week. Arian Foster, Matt Forte and Jamaal Charles continue to dominate the running back world and Eddie Lacy is finally waking up as well. Aside from Antonio Brown and Demaryius Thomas, it’s hard to find a consistently good wide receiver. Rob Gronkowski owners only had to wait eight weeks to get the sort of production they envisioned back in August when they made that draft third round gamble.
Big scores by a lot of players this week and that translates well into fantasy leagues. The Game-O-The-Week? Merely the biggest fantasy gold mine of the weekend.
Colts 34, Steelers 51
This sort of smacked of a trap game of sorts. The Colts sported one of the very best defenses against quarterbacks and wide receivers but ended up allowing Ben Roethlisberger a personal best 522 yards and six touchdowns that ended up mostly with Antonio Brown (10-133, 2 TD), Heath Miller (7-112, TD, Martavis Bryant (5-83, 2 TD) and even Markus Wheaton (5-56, TD). Le’Veon Bell ran for 92 yards and added 56 yards on six catches. Monster games.
Andrew Luck had to play shootout style which is nothing short of delightful. He passed for 400 yards and three touchdowns that included T.Y. HIlton (6-155, TD) and Donte Moncrief (7-113, TD) along with the obligatory weekly touchdown pass to a tight end – Dwayne Allen with one catch for 21 yards.
Ahmad Bradshaw played without Trent Richardson on the field and ended with 35 yards and a score as a runner and then 52 yards on seven receptions in a game where the Colts never had a chance to establish a run.
It was major fantasy points for all the regular fantasy starts and seemed like one of those destined defeats of the Colts that still prompts Luck to make it interesting.
Sunday started early with the London game at 8:30 A.M. CST and I awoke at 7:30 A.M. just to check the inactives and make sure that Matt Stafford didn’t have bad fish and chips or that Julio Jones didn’t step out into traffic looking to the left instead of the right. They delivered a good game but I think I speak for most of us when I say LET US SLEEP IN A LITTLE BIT ON SUNDAY.
Oh yeah, watch those kiddos on Friday. It doesn’t take that much candy to hop them up and lower their safety concerns. The last thing we want is for anyone to drive down the street feeling like DeMarco Murray busting through the Redskins defense.
If you are in the neighborhood, drop by since we give full-sized candy bars. But I’ll recognize you by the third or fourth time you ring the doorbell again.
Now get back to work…