BUMPS, BRUISES AND BOWOUTS
Vincent Jackson – Knee
Arian Foster – Torn Achilles
Phillip Dorsett – Fractured Ankle
Leonard Hankerson – Hamstring
Josh McCown – Shoulder
Joseph Randle – Back
Week 7 witnesses the loss of Arian Foster and the continued rise of Todd Gurley. For a league that prides itself on parity, there are only 11 of 32 teams that currently own a winning record. But a remarkable four unbeaten teams will head into Week 8.
Overtime doesn’t pay
A winning team scores more points by definition and that usually translates into better performances of the star players. Fantasy kickers and defenses almost always score the most when they are victorious. But there is an interesting trend that emerges in the 2015 season. There have already been nine overtime games. There were only 11 in 2014 and 16 in 2013.
Does playing those extra minutes mean anything to the next game? The answer is clearly “Yes”. Overtime winners are just 2-6 in their next game with the Broncos yet to play. And the losers are only 1-7 with the Bears left to return from their bye.
Even worse – the visiting teams from overtime games are 0-7 with the Broncos and Bears still to go. Playing that extra time and then having to fly back home just wears down a team no matter if they win or not. The home teams went 3-6 in their next game for a better result- but not much.
Free Agent returns and long looks
Each week features a few players that spark fantasy interest for the first time. And there are always others who were dropped earlier in the season but now look more attractive.
Kirk Cousins – The Redskins quarterback was stuck on one touchdown games for the first six weeks but comes off a career best fantasy showing of 317 yards and three touchdowns in the win over the Buccaneers. He added three runs for 15 yards and a fourth touchdown as the highest scoring fantasy quarterback of the week. Having a healthy Jordan Reed made a difference as will DeSean Jackson when he returns. Cousins is worth a stash since he next faces the Buccaneers, Patriots and Saints.
Orleans Darkwa – The Giants running back capitalized on his first eight rushes of the year when he ran for 48 yards and one score in the win over the Cowboys. He led the team in carries but the three other backs were also given four or five carries. Darkwa’s just an additional runner in an already crowded backfield that is not looking to rely on anyone heavily.
Chris Conley – The Chiefs wideout was drafted with their 3.12 pick last April and he’s been little used in the first six weeks. But Conley turned in six receptions for 63 yards and one score in the win over the Steelers. He was replacing Jeremy Maclin who was inactive due to concussion but consider the ex-Georgia start worth monitoring or even adding in a deep dynasty league. The Chiefs desperately need play makers after the loss of Jamaal Charles.
Robert Woods – The Bills wide receiver is another at least worth tracking since he comes off a season best nine catches for 84 yards and one score in the London game. Woods led the team in targets (13) as well. Percy Harvin appears lost for the season and Sammy Watkins cannot stay healthy. Woods will be needed more in future weeks but goes on his bye before facing the Dolphins in Week 9.
Clive Walford – The Raiders spent their 3.04 pick in the 2015 draft on Walford as the second tight end drafted. The 6-4, 259 pound product from Tight End U. (Miami) is being brought along slowly and caught just five passes this season. But two of them were in the win over the Chargers and his first catch went for a 23-yard touchdown. He’s more of a dynasty stash to be sure but was drafted with the intention of becoming the receiving tight end.
Arian Foster tore his Achilles and will miss the rest of the season. That could be the end of his career as well given that he turns 30-years-old next summer and has already contemplated retirement as far back as 2014. His absence in the first three weeks of the season relied primarily on Alfred Blue though Chris Polk had a larger role and even led the backfield in Week 2 with 14 carries in the loss in Carolina. Blue turned in 31 carries for 139 yards and one score in the home win over the Buccaneers but offered minimal production in the previous two weeks. Blue is still the best bet to lead the committee but plays in Miami next.
Mike Evans was hampered by a hamstring strain earlier this year but came off his Week 6 bye to post eight catches for 164 yards and one score in the win over the Redskins. Evans is healthy and meshing well with Jameis Winston with a nice stretch of schedule looming. The Bucs next face the Falcons, Giants, Cowboys, Eagles and Colts with a chance to extend his return to elite fantasy points.
Eric Ebron is quietly having a great second season after being drafted with the Lions 1.10 pick in 2014. He scored in each of the first two games, caught four passes for 61 yards in the loss to the Broncos and then injured his knee in Week 4. He returned on Sunday to face the Vikings and led the team with five receptions for 89 yards and one touchdown. So long as he is healthy, he’s been productive every week even against great defenses. This week he’ll face the weak Chiefs secondary.
Charcandrick West became the clear leader in the backfield when he rushed for 110 yards on 22 carries with one score in the win over the Steelers. Knile Davis was only given one carry. He’s still short of replicating Jamaal Charles since he only recorded two receptions for 19 yards. His next two opponents are the Lions and Broncos so he’ll have lower production in the coming weeks.
Todd Gurley rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Browns and that made it three straight weeks that he topped 100 yards in a game. The last time a rookie accomplished that feat was ten years ago by Cadillac William who hit that mark in his first three games before stumbling in the next four games when he failed to gain more than 30 yards. That’s unlikely to be a problem for Gurley who should make it four when the 49ers come to visit for Week 8.
Darren McFadden comes off his best game since 2011 when he rushed for 152 yards and one score in the loss to the Giants on Sunday. McFadden caught nine passes for 62 yards in Week 6 when he replaced Lance Dunbar who was lost for the season. Joseph Randle was limited to only two runs on Sunday because of a back injury. The performance will at least buy more playing time and the Cowboys are at home the next two weeks facing the Seahawks and Eagles.
Jordan Reed started the year on a hot streak with three straight games of six or more receptions. But he suffered a concussion in Week 4 and was inactive the next game. He returned with a very quiet game playing as a visitor against the Jets. But last Sunday he picked up his production again with an 11-catch, 72 yard effort in the win over the Buccaneers. He also scored twice. The rushing offense for the Redskins just gets worse and the need to pass increases. Reed has the confidence of Kirk Cousins and will remain a big part of the game plan when he comes off his Week 8 bye to face the Patriots, Saints, Panthers and Giants.
|SEA 20, SF 3||The 49ers are back to being the same horrible team we knew a few weeks ago and they would bench Colin Kaepernick but there is no one else to turn to besides Blaine Gabbert. Every 49er had a bad game besides Vernon Davis (4-61). Marshawn Lynch ran for 122 yards and a score on 27 carries but the rest of the Seahawks were mediocre. Russell Wilson is still stuck at one touchdown pass per game and even playing a bad team he was sacked five times. Like most Thursday night games, it was a snooze-fest.|
|BUF 31, JAC 34||I hate the London games. Too early to be up and just weirdness can happen like the Jaguars getting a 27-3 lead. Plus we had to watch this one online which was like playing Call of Duty while your kid is downloading the Library of Congress. Had to stop watching twitter because it was ruining what was going to happen in two plays. T.J. Yeldon ran for 115 yards and two scores while LeSean McCoy rushed for only 68 yards but had 36 yards on two catches. Blake Bortles only threw for 182 yards and two scores that by contract have to go to Allen Robinson (6-98) and Allen Hurns (2-53). Like getting up early? 6:30 AM on the West Coast. The Chiefs and Lions play in London NEXT WEEK.|
|MIN 28, DET 19||Apparently the Vikings don’t want the Lions to get that sense they are improving. Adrian Peterson was scary bad but eventually broke a 75-yard run and ended with 19-98 instead of 18-23. The only real notable in the whole game is that Calvin Johnson (5-86, TD) had another good game and Stefon Diggs is apparently everything that all MIN receivers were supposed to be for the last decade but weren’t. Diggs has only played three games but is averaging over 100 yards and scored his first NFL touchdown. If the amount of points made in this game made you think a lot happened you would be wrong.|
|NO 27, IND 21||Sure – why not? Saints only had two wins and yet they dominated the Colts for a 20-0 halftime score. Andrew Luck was really bad in that first half but ended with 333 yards and three scores. T.Y. Hilton had 150 yards and two touchdowns on just four catches. The Saints suddenly had a great rushing offense with Mark Ingram (14-143, TD) and Khiry Robinson (14-28, 2 TD) turning in big games unlike C.J. Spiller. But all that rushing meant Drew Brees only passed for 255 yards and one score. This was the Colts playing flat for two quarters and then not being able to make up the difference.|
|PIT 13, KC 23||This game was better than the score suggested. Landry Jones (209 yds, TD) threw two interceptions but gave Antonio Brown 124 yards on six receptions and Martavis Bryant scored once. Le’Veon Bell ran for 121 yards but even Charcandrick West rushed for 110 yards and one score. Turnovers made the difference here and Big Ben may be back next week anyway. At least Antonio Brown came back to life.|
|HOU 26, MIA 44||If this goes on one more week, there are probably a dozen NFL teams thinking “if we just fire our head coach…”. Winning the first week after the firing of Joe Philbin is not unusual. Extending that two weeks and stomping on an equal record team is rare. Ryan Tannehill was everything we expected last summer but never saw until now. He threw for 282 yards and four touchdowns. Jarvis Landry (14-175, TD) and Rishard Matthews (3-75, TD) had big games but Lamar Miller went nuts running for 175 yards and one score and adding 61 more yards on three catches with a second touchdown. The Texans surprisingly had Nate Washington (9-127, TD) and DeAndre Hopkins (6-50) reverse roles this week. But the story was that Arian Foster apparently blew out his Achilles that will end his season and at 30 years of age next year he might just call it a career. This was the worst case scenario for the Texans. Now Hopkins is all they have.|
|NYJ 23, NE 30||It took two fourth quarter touchdowns to prevent the loss but the Pats remain unbeaten thanks to Tom Brady (355 yds, 2 TD) who was also the lead rusher since he gained 15 yards and a score on his four runs while LeGarrette Blount lost three yards on his three rushes and James White only gained four yards on his two runs. So running backs = five runs for one yard. Rob Gronkowski (11-108, TD) was his usual self. Danny Amendola (8-86, TD) outplayed Julian Edelman (5-54) who was usually shadowed by Darrelle Revis. The Jets had 295 yards and two scores from Ryan Fitzpatrick but none of the usual suspects did much fantasy-wise. Close game but then the Pats took it late.|
|CLE 6, STL 24||The Browns were never really in this and have absolutely no idea what running back to use so they use them all. Gary Barnidge (6-101) remains the old guy that no one covers but nothing else positive happened for them. Josh McCown hurt his shoulder so there is a chance that Johnny Manziel plays in Week 8. The Rams have become nothing more than Todd Gurley (19-128, 2 TD) who also caught four passes for 35 yards. Gurley is a stud without argument but at some point soon, the Rams will need more than one running back. Next week they host the 49ers, so Gurley will be enough again.|
|ATL 10, TEN 7||Apparently everyone took the week off. Devonta Freeman (130 total yards) had the obligatory 100 yard game and Julio Jones caught nine passes for 91 yards and one score but that was all that happened for the Falcons. That was actually more than what happened for the Titans who used Zach Mettenberger (187 yds, 1 TD) but no receiver topped 55 yards and the only rushers were Antonio Andrews (10-57) and Dexter McCluster (5-20). At least Freeman and Jones had decent showings because this was a throw away game otherwise.|
|OAK 37, SD 29||Following the theme for the day, the better team never woke up until it was the second half and the Chargers trailed 30-6. By the time it was all over, the game was close but the Chargers fell too far behind. David Carr passed for 289 yards and three scores that included nice games for both Amari Cooper (5-133, TD) and Michael Crabtree (6-63, TD). Lamont Murray rushed for 85 yards and one score because they did not bench him this week. Philip Rivers passed for 336 yards and three scores. Keenan Allen (9-89) and Danny Woodhead (11-75, 2 TD) were the top receivers while no runner gained more than 35 yards. This was an upset but at least there were fantasy points produced in the process.|
|DAL 20, NYG 27||Ends up that Matt Cassel (227 yds, TD) was a little rusty and threw for three interceptions including an important pick-six. The Giants had very little offense in this and the only notable was that Odell Beckham (4-35) must have been bothered by his hamstring and the newest grab and trash free agent is Orleans Darkwa (8-48, TD). Christine Michael’s much anticipated debut was a great success though wearing a “MCFADDEN” jersey seemed to confuse the announcers. For the first time, the Cowboys had a 100 yard rusher this year and
|PHI 16, CAR 27||This was a decent late Sunday game though the only truly big performance was Jonathan Stewart rushing for 125 yards on 24 carries though both Can Newton and Mike Tolbert stole the rushing touchdowns. Tolbert even caught the lone passing score despite only totaling four touches for 17 yards. Greg Olsen was the lead receiver with just three catches for 65 yards. The Eagles only managed one touchdown on a nice 63-yard run by Ryan Mathews who only gained 97 yards in the game while DeMarco Murray was less effective with his 65 yards on 18 carries. At least the game went off as expected.|
HUDDLE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Lamar Miller – If only they had fired Joe Philbin before the season started. Miller ran for 113 yards and a score in the Week 6 game in Tennessee when they came off their bye week firing of their head coach. He merely followed that up with a league leading 14 carries for 175 yards, three catches for 61 yards and then two scores in the rout of the Texans. After averaging only 43 rush yards per game for the first month, Miller has found his groove.
DRAMA 101 – SOMEBODY HAS TO LAUGH, SOMEBODY HAS TO CRY
|QB||E.J. Manuel||336||2||QB||Eli Manning||170||0|
|RB||Darren McFadden||162||1||RB||Carlos Hyde||40||0|
|RB||Charcandrick West||129||1||RB||Christine Michael||20||0|
|WR||Stefon Diggs||108||1||WR||Odell Beckham||35||0|
|WR||Robert Woods||84||1||WR||DeAndre Hopkins||50||0|
|WR||Danny Amendola||86||1||WR||Julian Edelman||54||0|
|TE||M. Hoomanawanui||31||1||TE||Julius Thomas||4||0|
|PK||Blair Walsh||5 FG 1 XP||PK||Ryan Succop||1 XP|
|Huddle Fantasy Points = 134||Huddle Fantasy Points = 26|
Sunday’s Couch Commentary
This was a brutal week for picking games because many teams just came out really flat and then had to make a furious comeback in the second half. The Dolphins won again and in a big way. The Cowboys lost again since the roster debris of the Bills threw too many passes to the other team. Seemed like scoring was down a bit and nine teams failed to score more than 20 points.
Buccaneers 30, Redskins 31
This was a very representative game of the weekend. The Redskins were favored but let the Buccaneers take a 24-0 lead in the second quarter.The Skins ripped off three straight touchdowns by the start of the fourth quarter when each team had field goals. The Buccaneers seemed to seal the win with a field goal with 2:27 left to play when they were up 30-24.
But Kirk Cousins drove 80 yards in two minutes and on third down and goal to go at the six-yard line, he threw the winning score to Jordan Reed with 28 seconds left to play.
This is what is supposed to happen when bad teams meet. Fantasy points all around. Jameis Winston ended with 297 yards and two scores which mostly benefited Mike Evans (8-164, TD). Doug Martin ran for 136 yards and added 35 more on three catches.
Cousins passed for 317 yards and three touchdowns that mostly went to Jordan Reed (11-72, 2 TDs). But the Redskins rushing just got worse and Matt Jones was tops with only 29 yards on nine runs.
Be careful if you are out and about this coming weekend because the little ones (and some curiously big ones) will be trick-or-treating. They won’t be looking out for you so please pay extra attention. This is a somber weekend too since the tragedy in Stillwater that has killed four people and injured 40 others hits a little closer to home for me. My son just graduated from Oklahoma State and I’ve driven through that intersection many times.
Pay attention, be safe and Happy Halloween!
Now get back to work…