BUMPS, BRUISES AND BOWOUTS
Philip Rivers – Hand
Lamar Miller – Shoulder
Michael Vick – Concussion
Arian Foster – Groin
Nick Foles – Broken Clavicle
Jeremy Hill – Knee
Week nine may have missed six teams that were on bye, but it still served up a dozen players who scored more than one touchdown and four quarterbacks who passed for at least three touchdowns. The only problem is that they are rarely the same players each week so you must keep up with the changes.
SWAPPING DRIVERS AT 70 MPH
Tony Romo fractured two small transverse processes in his back. While they did not announce him out until Sunday, Brandon Weeden prepared all week to start. His 183 yards and one score against two interceptions disappointed but it was against a solid defense. This week the Cowboys play in London against the Jaguars. Jerry Jones was quick to say Romo would play but the Cowboys are facing a bad 1-8 team and then taking their bye. Holding Romo out another week shouldn’t affect the standings and gives him three straight weeks to heal up. That makes Weeden a better start against a soft Jaguars secondary in a week with six teams on their bye. But that probably lowers the production of the Cowboys wideouts.
Nick Foles broke his clavicle in the win over the Texans and Mark Sanchez stepped in nicely to complete 15 of 22 passes for 202 yards and two scores. Jeremy Maclin caught six passes for 158 yards and two scores while the rookie Jordan Mathews also scored on his three receptions for 40 yards. The Eagles offense will be without Foles when they face the Panthers, Packers, Titans and Cowboys in the next month. Sanchez faced a weaker secondary but looked sharp moving the offense. He’s a must-grab from the waiver wire this week with those weapons and that schedule.
Michael Vick left the loss to the Chiefs temporarily to check for a concussion but later returned. While his stats remain below fantasy relevance – 196 yards and one touchdown – he did manage to help out both Percy Harvin and Eric Decker. He tossed 13 passes to Harvin who caught 11 for 129 yards and Decker ended with nine receptions for 63 yards and a score. Judging by the last two weeks, when the Steelers visit on Sunday the aerial show by both teams will start and only Harvin and Decker are getting Vick’s attention.
After missing two months, Robert Griffin III returned in a losing effort to the Vikings. To his credit, he continued to make DeSean Jackson the team star with four receptions for 120 yards and a score. But he did not renew his previous chemistry with Pierre Garcon who was held to just three catches for 15 yards and was thrown just one pass in the second half. Griffin also rushed for just 24 yards on seven runs. While Griffin is a capable passer, failing to make use of his rushing ability makes him one-dimensional and hurts the offense. The Skins are on their bye but will host the Buccaneers in week 11 for what should be a coming out party for Griffin.
TWEAKING THE FORMULA
The Browns backfield has been in constant flux this year but may have finally found the right rotation. Isaiah Crowell fell from favor and received no touches in the win over the Buccaneers. While Ben Tate was considered the starter, he was only allowed ten carries to gain three yards and would add 29 yards on four catches as well. But Terrance West gained a team high 48 yards on 15 carries and even scored on his only catch in the game. While this week in Cincinnati won’t be easy, the following games go against the Texans, Falcons and Bills.
Giovani Bernard missed the win over the Jaguars and left Jeremy Hill by himself to face the Bucs. The rookie ran for 154 yards and two touchdowns on only 24 carries and will face a visiting Browns team this week. HC Marvin Lewis has been elusive about Bernard’s status for this week but the Bengals play on Thursday and there is less time for healing. The hip pointer forced Bernard to miss all practices last week and sets up Hill to turn in a second big performance.
TIGHT END SHIFTS
The Raiders rarely use their tight end and spend each summer pretending that David Ausberry matters. But Mychal Rivera last two games suggest he’s becoming a relief receiver for Derek Carr. His claim to fame was limited to being the brother of Naya Rivera who plays “Santana” on “Glee” (at least to me). But he caught seven passes for 83 yards in Cleveland and then last Sunday posted a career best eight receptions for 38 yards and two touchdowns. He’s still hard to rely on but deserves to leave the waiver wire.
Notable is the Vikings using tight end Chase Ford for six catches that gained 61 yards in week eight and then the third-year player turned in a career best five catches for 66 yards and one touchdown in the win over the Redskins. This is not to say you should grab Ford. The Vikings are on the bye anyway and in week 11 the plan is to return Kyle Rudolph to the offense. He’s been out with a groin injury since week three and currently resides on many waiver wires. Teddy Bridgewater likes tight ends already and Rudolph is more talented than Ford. Make sure Rudolph is not a free agent in your league.
IT AIN’T OVER
It is not enough that the Steelers are posting ridiculous passing stats the last two weeks. Ben Roethlisberger threw for six touchdowns in the wins over the Colts and the Ravens. He only threw ten scores over the first seven games but now set a record with the 12 touchdowns over a two game period. Antonio Brown is the most consistently productive wideout in the league and yet now the rookie Martavis Bryant is also a weekly factor with five catches for 82 yards and two scores over the Colts and then three receptions for 44 yards and two more touchdowns against the Ravens. Both games occurred at home but were against previously good defenses. This week? The Steelers face the hapless Jets and their secondary that already has proven to be one of the worst.
Why it took Mark Ingram four years to look this good is a fair question, but then again – why ask? He’s running exactly as they expected (circa 2011) for the last two weeks. After gaining 172 yards and one score on 24 runs against the Packers, he turned in 100 yards and two more touchdowns in the road win over the Panthers. They are on a two game winning streak largely because of Ingram. Don’t expect that to stop soon. The Saints are about to start a three game stretch of home games against the 49ers, Bengals and Ravens who cannot just load up against Ingram and expect Drew Brees to leave them alone. Ingram has a nice schedule the rest of the season with only a road game in Pittsburgh that will challenge him the most.
|NO 28, CAR 10||The Panthers are just getting worse every week. They took away Kelvin Benjamin (2-18) and nothing else worked (like every other game). The return of DeAngelo Williams meant both he and Stewart would take eight carries each to gain “it doesn’t matter’. Drew Brees threw for 297 yards but only one touchdown though he ran in a rare rushing score. Brandin Cooks continues to be a factor only at home while Mark Ingram gained 100 yards and two scores because they gave him 30 carries. Now the 4-4 Saints actually lead the NFC South and host the 49ers while the 3-5-1 Panthers head to Philly.|
|JAC 23, CIN 33||The Jaguars made this look like a game with late scoring but all you need to know was that Alan Hurns (7-122, 2 TD) had another big game that you can never really count on and Denard Robinson ran for 94 yards and a score on 17 carries as the only new and interesting thing about the Jaguars.The Bengals opted to run Jeremy Hill for 154 yards and two scores while both Mohamed Sanu (4-95, TD) and A.J. Green (3-44, TD) had a decent game. The loss sends the 1-8 Jaguars home to host the Cowboys who have lost their glass slipper while the 5-2-1 Bengals welcome the Browns.|
|TB 17, CLE 22||Seems like this should have generated more points. But both QBs threw for two scores and Mike Evans (7-124, 2 TD) had the only big performance in the game. Bobby Rainey turned in 121 total yards and the Browns have taken to playing spin the bottle to determine which back will be running for the series. Terrance West (15-48) and Ben Tate (10-3) were only marginally better than the inactive Isaiah Crowell. Now the 1-7 Buccaneers host the Falcons for an actual chance of a victory while the 5-3 Browns head to Cincinnati.|
|ARI 28, DAL 17||NoMo RoMo combined with facing a very good defense was more than the homefield Cowboys could handle. Brandon Weeden passed for 183 yard and a score but had two interceptions. DeMarco Murray’s fabled stretch of 100 yard games has ended when he only gained 79 yards on 19 runs. Dez Bryant had just two catches for 15 yards and scored with just a minute left so he wouldn’t complain in the locker room. Carson Palmer threw for 249 yards and three scores but none of the Cardinals had a big game other than Andre Ellington who totaled 134 yards and a score. Now the 7-1 Cardinals own a nice full game lead on the entire NFL and host the Rams this week. The 6-3 Cowboys heads to Jacksonville.|
|PHI 31, HOU 21||Good fantasy game that may signal some changes next week. Nick Foles injured his clavicle and Mark Sanchez ran the offense pretty well with 202 yards and two scores. He even threw two interceptions just like Foles. Jeremy Maclin blew up for 158 yards and two scores while LeSean McCoy ran for 117 yards. Arian Foster ended with 119 total yards and a score while Deandre Hopkins (6-115, TD) turned in a big game as well. Now the 6-2 Eagles host the Panthers and the 4-5 Texans go onto their bye.|
|NYJ 10, KC 24||No surprises here including that Michael Vick was injured in his first start. Percy Harvin caught 11 passes for 129 yards so the move to New York is already a positive (unless winning mattered). Chris Johnson even ran for 69 yards on 11 carries and outplayed Chris Ivory (8-22) just to make it surreal. But Jamaal Charles gained 88 total yards and one score and Alex Smith threw scores to Travis Kelce (4-67) and Anthony Fasano (3-24) who showed in the end it is all about where you sit. Now the 1-8 Jets host the Steelers and the 5-3 Chiefs head to Buffalo.|
|SD 0, MIA 37||Chance that the Chargers did not take this serious enough. Every team has a trash game they forget to show up for and this was that for the Chargers who were never remotely in this game. All you need to know is that Philip Rivers passed for 138 yards and three interceptions. Ryan Tannehill (288 yds, 3 TD) had a big showing though no receiver was any better than Charles Clay (5-65, TD) and Lamar Miller ran for 49 yards and a score before injuring his shoulder. The loss drops the Chargers to 5-4 and they head onto their bye. The 5-3 Dolphins head to Detroit this week.|
|WAS 26, MIN 29||The return of Robert Griffin only meant 251 pass yards and one score though he added 24 rush yards. DeSean Jackson (4-120, TD) remains the only fantasy play since Pierre Garcon still only had three catches for 15 yards. Teddy Bridgewater (268 yds, TD) had no turnovers but no Vikings player did much. Jerick McKinnon ran for 54 yards but the Vikings opted to allow Matt Asiata to run in the three short touchdowns. Greg Jennings was tops with 76 yards on six catches. Now the 3-6 Redskins and the 4-5 Vikings both go onto their bye.|
|STL 13, SF 10||Hate these sort of games. Imagine saving up your money to go see 23 total points scored. Austin Davis only threw for 105 yards and one score but no receiver had more than 38 yards and Tre Mason ran for 65 yards on 19 carries. Colin Kaepernick is doing himself no favors with only 237 yards and a score while losing a fumble at the one-yard line with nine seconds left to lost the game. Frank Gore only ran for 49 yards while Anquan Boldin managed 93 yards and a score as the only fantasy relevant player in the game. This one cuts deeply for the 49ers. The 3-5 Rams head to Arizona this week and the 4-4 49ers travel to New Orleans.|
|OAK 24, SEA 30||How is this even a game? The Raiders had an onside kick at the end that could have been a chance to win. Marshawn Lynch ran for only 67 yards but scored twice and added five catches for 76 yards as the lead receiver. Russell Wilson only passed for 179 yards and no score. Derek Carr threw for 194 yards and two touchdowns both to TE Mychal Rivera (8-38) but all combined the Raiders only ran for 28 yards on 16 carries. The Seahawks took a week off and they still get the win. Now the 0-8 Raiders host the Broncos and the 5-3 Seahawks.|
|BAL 23, PIT 43||Obvious Game-o-the-Week contender but they already did that last week. I am not saying that Ben Roethlisberger sold his soul to the devil (but if he did he wisely went for the multi-game package). I am saying this is the NFL and how poorly or well a team plays from week to week hardly follows a dotted line. Big Ben threw for another six touchdowns which by this point is sort of smacks of something that later will haunt them. But he fell to only 340 passing yards. None of the running backs mattered but Antonio Brown (11-144, TD), Markus Wheaton (2-62, TD), Martavis Bryant (3-44, 2 TD) were the top receivers. Joe Flacco’s 303 yards and two scores looked kinda silly in comparison and Steve Smith (5-36) did little. Justin Forsett at least totaled 105 yards. Now the 6-3 Steelers are a half game back of the Bengals and head to New York to play the Jets who might allow six scores by halftime. The 5-4 Ravens host the Titans.|
HUDDLE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Jeremy Maclin – He dropped in most drafts because he was returning from a blown knee and many did not think he could fill in what DeSean Jackson left behind. Not a problem. What Maclin lacks in long balls he makes up in receptions over the middle Against the Texans velvety soft secondary, he caught six passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns as the top receiver of the day.
DRAMA 101 – SOMEBODY HAS TO LAUGH, SOMEBODY HAS TO CRY
|QB||Ryan Fitzpatrick||252||2||QB||Philip Rivers||138||0|
|RB||Matt Asiata||57||3||RB||Branden Oliver||26||0|
|RB||Mark Ingram||110||2||RB||Chris Ivory||22||0|
|WR||Mike Evans||124||2||WR||Andre Johnson||12||0|
|WR||Allen Hurns||112||2||WR||Kelvin Benjamin||18||0|
|WR||Taylor Gabriel||87||1||WR||Wes Welker||31||0|
|TE||Mychal Rivera||38||2||TE||Antonio Gates||28||0|
|PK||Caleb Sturgis||13 pts||PK||Nick Novak||nope|
|Huddle Fantasy Points = 157||Huddle Fantasy Points = 16|
Sunday’s Couch Commentary
Another week and a new set of head scratchers. Apparently the “tried to mail it in” teams of the week include the Chargers and almost the Seahawks who managed to make the visiting Raiders look more like a 8-0 team than a 0-8 team. We saw Matt Asiata hawk three touchdowns one week after only running four times to gain one yard. Mike Evans and Allen Hurns both blew up for 100+ yards and two scores each even though Hurns had not been fantasy relevant for five straight games and Evans is only three games away from turning in a zero for week five.
The Game-O-The-Week? While there were no high scoring nail biters, we had to love when our fantasy players all have decent production.
Broncos 21, Patriots 43
This was supposed to be a cold weather game with wind but nothing happened and it was only the first time of many this season that we’ll collectively freak out and over-estimate the effect of weather.
Tom Brady passed for 333 yards and four scores and has re-invigorated his relationship with Rob Gronkowski (9-105, TD) and even Julian Edelman (9-89, TD). Brandon LaFell (6-53, TD) and even Shane Vereen (5-38, TD) also found the endzone though the rushing totals were low for both teams and only Ronnie Hillman would rush in a score. Hillman was held to only 16 yards on ten rushes but also added seven catches for 47 yards and a second touchdown.
Peyton Manning threw for 438 yards and two scores with Emmanuel Sanders (10-151) and Demaryius Thomas (7-127) both racking up yardage with no scores. Julius Thomas scored but only had 33 yards on two catches.
We’ve reached week ten and by now many of you are no longer in contention. This season had so many top talent players go out at least for some time that getting a fast start was all about health as much as crafty drafting. If you haven’t ever considered it, check out Daily Fantasy Leagues for something fun to do that uses your knowledge and doesn’t have to cost anything if you you find free to be really attractive now. There are a multitude of providers and I would be remiss to not mention Fantasy Score as a place to play either free or pay games.
The nice thing is that unlike scrambling for free agents on Tuesday and considering your lineup as practices and injuries occur, you can always just go there on Saturday and submit a lineup. Bada Boom – you are done.
It’s been a screwy year and even a handful of my teams have hit the skids. Daily Fantasy is a fun way to extend your involvement in football.
If you are in the fight for your fantasy league – congrats! Hard to imagine any team out there that could consistently win and not work the waiver wire to keep your team fresh and up with the constantly changing NFL. Week ten has a lot of teams out that will impact fantasy scores right when they count the most. Not sure how your leagues are but almost all of mine are topped by teams with only 5-3 records coming into this week. Does anyone have a league with an unbeaten team? Hard to imagine.
One last tip – if you are making your playoffs consider what kickers you want on your roster. You should carry two just in case and one should be in a dome or play in the deep south or west coast to prevent weather from being a factor.
The last thing you need is to spend all season on a team that loses the trophy by a field goal.
Now get back to work…