Have to admit – I hate Thursday night games. The Saints-Panthers first meeting ended with a 41-38 for the Saints. Last night it was 23-20 for the Panthers in a game that had every player underperform expectations. My suggestion – only have teams coming off a bye playing on Thursdays or do not have them. They all looked like they were at the end of a 16-hour shift.
Pull up a chair. Here’s the next six guys I’ve been thinking about.
1. RB Christine Michael (GB) – The good thing was that Michael was dropped by the Seahawks and then picked up so quickly by the Packers that owners did not even have time to throw him away. He lands on a team that needs help desperately. This is also a guy that gets cut and re-signed so often that he should just buy a big Winnebago and live in the parking lot at the headquarter of whatever team he is with.
The Seahawks used Michael extensively this year but one good game from C. J. Prosise and the return of Thomas Rawls sent him packing. Moving to Green Bay is not going to rejuvenate his well-traveled career. The Packers currently rank #32 for running back fantasy points and that is more than just a lack of a rusher. It is offensive line problems and the team falling behind and abandoning the run. What Michael is good for is trading right now before he shows in Green Bay why the Seahawks just dumped him for the second time in the middle of a season.
2. RB Thomas Rawls (SEA) – He comes back from a fractured fibula that has kept him out since Week 2. But Rawls is off injured reserve and has gone through full practices. Christine Michael was released as a sign of Rawl’s health (and a significant dislike for Michael). Rawls had a 5.6 yard per carry average last year on his 147 carries and scored five times. He broke 100 yards rushing in four different games.
But C.J. Prosise finally had a full load last week in New England when he ran for 66 yards on 17 carries and added seven catches for 87 yards. What happens with Rawls return? HC Pete Carrol said that Rawls would get plenty of work his first week back but other reports have him more likely to be eased back and that Prosise will remain the primary back at least for now.
One this is sure – Prosise is the better receiver. At worst he’s going to be the third down back. Unfortunately, the best expectation for Rawls is to remain mostly just a rusher and defer to Prosise as the main back. This is all worth watching to be sure since the offense can produce fantasy relevant players. For the first week back, Rawls will surprise if he has fantasy relevant numbers. Unlike Doug Martin in Tampa Bay, there actually is someone else to turn to and that player may be even better than the undrafted Rawls.
3. WR Tyreek Hill (KC) – The fifth-round pick is already the leader for receiving touchdowns with four of the 11 that has been thrown. What is worth tracking is that he turned in 5-98-1 in Week 8 and then after the Chiefs mailed in a low point win over the Jaguars, Hill had a season best 10-89-0 last week in Carolina. Jeremy Maclin is out this week with a groin injury so that leaves Hill as the primary wideout at home against the Buccaneers this week.
He is worth watching this week with a nice matchup and what should be another week of high targets. If he can carve out a bigger role, the Chiefs face the Falcons, Raiders and Titans in Weeks 13 to 15.
4. RB Akeem Hunt (HOU) – Alfred Blue was nursing a rib injury last week and the Texans called up Hunt from the practice squad and made him active in the Jaguars in Week 10. He ended up with 52 yards on eight carries and had a one-yard catch. Hunt was actually used last year from Week 11 onward and totaled 17 carries for 96 yards. He was an undrafted rookie from Purdue who played four years there and was at his best as a senior with 173-949-6 as a runner and 48-293-2 as a receiver.
With a 6.5 yard average on his eight carries last week – does that mean anything? Actually – maybe. He was cut after the preseason but declined practice squad offers from the Bears, Saints and Chiefs to remain with the Texans on their squad. He has been a standout there but finally got his chance last week when Jonathan Grimes was sick. He’s not going to ever be a workhorse back at 5-10 and 183 pounds but he ran a 4.37/40. He’s popular with his teammates. He has a chance, finally, to try and secure a role on the 53-man roster.
5. QB Jared Goff (LA) – The first overall draft pick last April finally gets his chance to be thrown into fire for a team with a sub-standard offensive line, marginal rushing support and questionable receivers in a scheme that prefers not to throw but has no choice most of the time. What’s not to like? Goff had all the hype before the draft and has had none since. All reports were negative coming out of training camp though in fairness, there just haven’t been many reports at all.
Will Goff surprise and play well? Who knows – chances are not high. But the initial weeks of a new quarterback can sometimes be good because there is no game film on them and no expectations. Goff had the talent and skills in college to prompt the Rams to spend the big bucks for a franchise quarterback. But his performance this week versus the Dolphins is worth noting. He plays Saints, Patriots, Falcons, Seahawks and ends up against the 49ers in Week 16. There’s a few weeks that he at least gets to face weak defenses.
6. TE Vernon Davis (WAS) – The Redskins needed to replace the inactive Jordan Reed in Weeks 6 and 7, So Davis stepped up and produced stat lines of 2-50-1 versus the Eagles and 6-79 at the Lions. But the Redskins liked the results enough that once Reed did return, they have gone to using base two tight end sets. Davis totaled 8-158-1 over the last two games while Reed produced 11-140-1. And those games resulted in a tie in Cincinnati and a won over the Vikings.
Davis hasn’t been this productive since 2103 back in San Francisco. He is getting around five or six targets per game but he isn’t decreasing Reed’s stats as much as replacing what wideouts or running backs would have done. More than anything, he’s one of the very few tight ends that is actually a handcuff for the primary tight end (Rob Gronkowski/Martellus Bennett).
And an extra point…
Think about adding a second kicker to your roster before the playoffs arrive and your free agency dies. It is not all that likely that your kicker gets hurt but it is certainly can happen. But even more possible would be having the star quarterback or running back or wide receiver from that team miss the game and bring the offense down with him – including kicking opportunities.
Always make sure you have options!