BUMPS, BRUISES AND BOWOUTS
Knowshon Moreno – Elbow (out 4-8 weeks)
Allen Hurns – Ankle
Tavon Austin – Knee
Jamaal Charles – Ankle
A.J. Green – Ligament strain
Robert Griffin III – Dislocated Ankle (may be serious)
Lamar Miller – Ankle
Roy Helu – Knee
DeSean Jackson – Sprained AC joint
Marcedes Lewis – High ankle sprain
Ryan Mathews – Knee
Rod Streater – Hip flexor
Vance McDonald – Knee
Vernon Davis – Ankle
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFLPA and the NFL decreased the number and length of practices before the season starts. The argument has been that players show up less conditioned and once again is hard to argue with so many injuries to start the season. Just two Sundays in and already eight starting running backs, four wide receivers and two quarterbacks have missed at least one game.
And then there is the challenge of interpreting coach-speak. Both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery were reported to be very likely out for their game on Sunday night. Most owners had no other options and sat them for lesser players. And then watched Marshall score three times in San Francisco. Antonio Gates nursed a hamstring strain in practices and had to face the Seattle defense. No matter – he also scored three touchdowns. Carson Palmer and Doug Martin had nice matchups and yet sat on Sunday. Surprising fantasy game scores followed with so many players already out and so many more leaving the game.
We should also wonder if NFL defenses have figured out all the rules that made it easier to pass. This summer had a rash of holding calls to enforce the rule regarding grabbing jerseys by defensive backs. But on average in 2013, there were seven quarterbacks that passed for 300+ yards per week. Never fewer than three and even that was during the bigger bye weeks. But while week two of 2013 witnessed 11 quarterbacks with 300-yard games, week two of this season only produced one. Aaron Rodgers threw for 346 yards thanks in part to the 80-yard completion in the third quarter. We dropped from eleven to only one and that with great weather for every team.
Only five wide receivers topped 100 yards this week and yet seven running backs rushed for more than the century mark. That’s like returning to the 90’s only without all the stud running backs.
Back ‘Em Up
No position is better for back-ups becoming major players than running backs. Consider the effect of this past weekend:
Lamar Miller – Knowshon Moreno is out for the next month or more and Miller is averaging 4.7 yards per carry this year. He’ll be facing the Chiefs, Raiders, Packers, Bears and Jaguars next.
Knile Davis – Shame on the Jamaal Charles owner who missed out on Davis. Once Charles was out in Denver, Davis ran 22 times for 79 yards, caught six passes for 26 yards and scored twice. If Charles remains out or is limited, the next opponents are the Dolphins, Patriots and Chargers.
Donald Brown – The leading rusher from the Colts last year, he’ll take over for Ryan Mathews if his knee injury persists. Brown should be owned anyway with the Bills, Jaguars, Jets, Raiders and Chiefs up next.
Matt Asiata – The third-year back already gained 84 yards and a score last week. If the legal problems for Adrian Peterson persist, Asiata goes against the Saints, Falcons and Packers.
Terrence West – Since Ben Tate is out at least until week five, West gets a chance to improve upon the 90 total yards and a touchdown he notched against the Saints. He’ll go against the visiting Ravens this week and then onto his bye. Tate already has a record of missing games.
Bobby Rainey – Taking over for the inactive Doug Martin, all Rainey did against the Rams was to rush for 144 yards on 22 carries and add 30 yards on three catches. If Martin remains out this week, Rainey gets to tear up the Falcons defense.
Darren McFadden – Maurice Jones-Drew missed the Texans game after hand surgery and McFadden gained a total of 68 yards and one touchdown. If Jones-Drew remains sidelined, McFadden faces the Patriots and Dolphins.
Are those already taken in your league? If you have room to stash players, make sure that these are not living on your waiver wire. You don’t want just any back-up running back. You want the few that are more likely to do well if called upon.
Lorenzo Taliaferro – The 6-0, 226 lb. rookie would step up if Bernard Pierce is injured.
Ka’Deem Carey – Primary back-up for Matt Forte though Shaun Draughn would also play.
Lance Dunbar – Dallas is rush-blocking well and DeMarco Murray has never played all 16 games.
James Starks – Already averaged 5.3 yards per carry in week one replacing Eddie Lacy.
Alfred Blue – Arian Foster was injured before and Houston likes to ride one guy.
Robert Turbin – Marshawn Lynch is very durable but he is getting older.
Plan for the Week Four Bye Now
The most important free agent move you make this week is probably meaningless this Sunday. Because the moves you should consider are to cover the deadly week four bye. That is when every player of the Cardinals, Bengals, Browns, Broncos, Seahawks and Rams are not available. Think ahead and avoid the rush. And there will be a rush.
Consider players on these teams since they have the best match-ups to exploit: Vikings (vs. Falcons), Chargers (vs. Jaguars), 49ers (vs. Eagles), Saints (at Cowboys), Patriots (at Chiefs), Falcons (at Vikings) and Redskins (vs. Giants).
Rookie Running Backs
Unlike the past two seasons, there have been no rookie runners that have exploded onto the scene though Terrance West turned in a nice effort against the Saints replacing Ben Tate. Jeremy Hill showed up last weekend with 96 total yards and a score. But is it time to bail on the other rookie runners?
Carlos Hyde opened with a touchdown but then accounted for no yardage in the loss to the Bears. Richard Sankey only gained 25 yards in Kansas City and then only three yards in the loss to the Cowboys. Jerick McKinnon has 13 yards over his first two weeks. Devonta Freeman gained 33 yards versus the Saints but then only caught two passes in the loss to the Bengals. Time to cut and run?
That depends. If you have small rosters and cannot afford to hold players that may not come around for six weeks – then yes. Granted they could blow up next game but the reality is that rookie backs have to gain the confidence that they can handle the tailback role in all its responsibilities and paramount in that is not letting a blitzer blow up the quarterback. In leagues with rosters of 16 or less, you need players that are going to offer you value every week. They may never improve during the season, but you need all roster spots in play to field a weekly team.
But if you have anything over 16 roster spots or can justify holding one player, then do not give up quite yet on them. Hyde is never going to be more than the back-up but if Gore is injured, then Hyde becomes very valuable. Jerick McKinnon’s role could increase sharply soon depending on the outcome of the Adrian Peterson situation. Sankey was the best running back in the NFL draft, he was selected by the new coaching staff and he only has to surpass Shonn Greene. The Titans will have a committee in any instance, but Sankey looms more as a “second half of the year” player. Of course – you need to get there with a winning record for him to ever matter.
Freeman was promising in the preseason. He’ll likely only play a minor complementary role this season unless Steven Jackson is injured. Unless you own Jackson, Freeman is probably better off back on the wire.
|JAC 10 , WAS 41||Predictable win but Robert Griffin III left with a bad ankle that will have him out from four weeks to the rest of the season depending on who is guessing. That makes Kirk Cousin (250 yds, 2 TD) come into play for now. Alfred Morris ran for 85 yards and two scores but this was an odd bit of play calling since Pierre Garcon only caught one pass, DeSean Jackson left the game after one catch and yet Niles Paul (8-99, TD) had a career day replacing Jordan Reed. Chad Henne (193 yds, TD) did nothing to keep Blake Bortles on the sideline and Alan Hurns (2-13) went from hero to injured in one game. Toby Gerhart was held to eight yards on seven carries as nothing worked on this offense. The Jaguars head home to host the Colts and the Redskins head to Philadelphia.|
|DAL 26, TEN 10||The Cowboys took a solid win on the road thanks to DeMarco Murray (29-167, TD) who lost a fumble for the second game in a row. Tony Romo passed for just 176 yards and one score that went almost entirely to Dez Bryant (10-103-1). Jake Locker (234 yds, TD) played the Romo part this time with two interceptions and made Delanie Walker (10-142-1) the only Titan with more than 31 receiving yards. The backfield for the Titans remains devoid of fantasy value. Now the Cowboys head to St. Louis and the Titans go to Cincinnati.|
|ARI 25, NYG 14||The Giants lost again but at least they generated more offense in the process. Eli Manning (277 yds, 2 TD) still threw for two interceptions. Rashad Jennings ran for 64 and added 45 more yards on four catches. Victor Cruz (5-60) at least showed up this time and Rueben Randle (4-39) had a receiving touchdown. The Cardinals were without Carson Palmer so Drew Stanton passed for only 167 yards but made Larry Fitzgerald (6-51) the lead receiver. Andre Ellington ran for 91 yards but had only one catch. Mostly the Cards let the Giants just beat themselves which seems like a weekly theme.|
|NE 30, MIN 7||The Pats made up for last week and got a break with Adrian Peterson getting a timeout by the team. Tom Brady only passed for 149 yards and one score and bears only casual resemblance to the Brady of a few years ago. Stevan Ridley (25-101-1) is not gone quite yet though Shane Vereen pretty much disappeared with just with 40 rush yards and one catch for no gain. Julian Edelman (6-81, TD) was the only decent receiver and that includes Rob Gronkowski (4-32). Matt Cassel passes for 202 yards and one score but no one had more than 56 yards as a receiver and the only real fantasy value here was Matt Asiata with 84 total yards and one score. The Vikings head to New Orleans while the Patriots finally get their home opener facing the Raiders.|
|ATL 10, CIN 24||In this weekend where what worked in week one did not in week two, the Falcons fell back with Matt Ryan passing for 231 yards and one score but with three interceptions. Julio Jones (7-88, TD) showed up late in the game but no one else managed more than 52 yards. Steven Jackson (11-46) has nearly no fantasy value despite being a starting running back. Andrew Dalton only needed to throw for 252 yards and one score even though A.J. Green left the game. Giovani Bernard turned in 169 total yards and one score while Jeremy Hill ended with 96 total yards and a touchdown. Mohamed Sanu (3-84, TD) is starting to just replace all the injured wideouts. The Falcons head back home to face the Buccaneers and the Bengals remain home to host the Titans.|
|DET 7, CAR 24||The Panthers are scary good and they do not even need an offense at times. Matt Stafford passed for 291 yards but only one touchdown while no runner gained over 36 yards on them. Calvin Johnson (6-83) was as good as it got for receivers and Joique Bell ended with 97 total yards to only 32 yards for Reggie Bush. Cam Newton threw for 281 yards and one touchdown to Jason Avant (5-54) and Greg Olsen (6-72) led the receivers though Kelvin Benjamin (2-46) left the game injured. Jonathan Stewart was the clear primary back with DeAngelo Williams out but still only ran for 37 yards on 15 carries but with one touchdown. Now the Lions return home to host the Packers and the Panthers remain home to host the Steelers.|
|MIA 10, BUF 29||The Bills came to life thanks mostly to their defense. E.J. Manuel only threw for 202 yards and one score to Sammy Watkins (8-117). C.J. Spiller ran for 69 yards and also returned a kickoff for 102 yards and a touchdown. Fred Jackson only totaled 51 yards. Ryan Tannehill passed for 241 yards and a score to Mike Wallace (5-56) who led the team. Knowshon Moreno left injured and Lamar Miller still only ran 11 times for 46 yards and one catch. After the big win over the Patriots, the Fins looked flat. They will host the Chiefs this week and the Bills host the Chargers.|
|PIT 6, BAL 26||The Steelers kept stopping themselves in Baltimore and Ben Roethlisberger only threw for 217 yards and one interception. Antonio Brown (7-90) dominated all the receivers and Le’Veon Bell turned in 107 total yards. Just a poor offensive effort. The Ravens had Joe Flacco passing for 166 yards and two touchdowns that both went to Owen Daniels (5-28) and Steve Smith (6-71) still led the team receivers. Bernard Pierce ran for 96 yards on 22 runs but the Ravens did not have to do much offensively other than not make mistakes. The Steelers have to play in Carolina this week and the Ravens take their first road game of the year and head to Cleveland.|
|HOU 30, OAK 14||Ryan Fitzpatrick only needed to throw for 139 yards but scored twice on passes. Andre Johnson (6-74) was the leader and DeAndre Hopkins (3-22) scored once. Arian Foster remains one of the nicest surprises since he remains as productive as ever even though much of the rest of the league is having running back problems. He gained 138 yards and one score on 38 carries. You know it went well when J.J. Watt was allowed to come in and catch a touchdown. Derek Carr (263 yds, TD) was intercepted twice but was also the leading rusher with 58 yards on four runs while Darren McFadden (12-37) did little but scored once. James Jones (9-112, TD) is clearly the best wideout in Oakland. Now the Texans get to play the Giants in New York (so sort of a home game) and the Raiders head to New England.|
|NYJ 24, GB 31||The Jets made this into a surprisingly good game. Geno Smith only passed for 176 yard and one touchdown to Eric Decker (4-63) and the Jets went with a three man rotation in the backfield to gain 80 yards on 29 carries but Ivory scored once. While there were no stars for the Jets, Aaron Rodgers passed for 346 yards and three touchdown and connected with Jordy Nelson nine times for an NFL-high 209 yards and one score. Randall Cobb (5-39) caught the other two passing touchdowns. Eddie Lacy only managed 43 yards on 13 runs against the tough Jets front line but he added two catches for 18 yards. Now the Jets host the Bears and the Packers head to Detroit.|
|KC 17, DEN 24||This was a better game than anticipated given the Chiefs looked dead at home against the Titans last week. Alex Smith passed for 255 yards but no scores and Jamaal Charles left injured. That allowed Knile Davis a career best 79 yards on 22 runs with two touchdowns and 26 more yards on six catches. Travis Kelce (4-81) lead the team and Dwayne Bowe (3-40) had his first playing time of the year. Peyton Manning passed for 242 yards and three scores. He spread the wealth out between Emmanuel Sanders (8-108), Demaryius Thomas (5-62, TD) and Julius Thomas (4-39, TD). Monte Ball only ran 12 times but gained 60 yards and added 29 yards on three receptions. Now the Chiefs head out to Miami and the Broncos go to Seattle.|
|STL 19, TB 17||In this crazy NFL, the Rams won on the road even though Zac Stacy (19-71) scored their only touchdown and Austin Davis passed for 235 yards and no scores. Brian Quick (7-74) was the top receiver again this week but no one else had more than 50 yards. The Buccaneers only saw Josh McCown pass for 179 yards and while Bobby Rainey ran for 144 yards on 22 carries, McCown stole both rushing scores from him. Vincent Jackson was tops despite only catching four passes for 51 yards. Low scoring game with marginal fantasy results. Now the Rams host the Cowboys and the Buccaneers take their first road trip of the year and head to Atlanta.|
|SEA 21, SD 30||Yet another set of teams opting to reverse their week one results. The Seahawks went from awe-inspiring to only having Russell Wilson pass for 202 yards and two scores between Robert Turbin (2-35) and Marshawn Lynch (4-27) both as receivers. Lynch only ran for 36 yards on six carries while Percy Harvin was the leading rusher with 45 yards and a score on just two runs. Philip Rivers was undaunted by the Seahawks and passed for 284 yards and three touchdowns which all went to Antonio Gates (7-96). Keenan Allen was held to just 55 yards on five catches. No Chargers running bach gained more than 32 yards. The Seahawks return home to host the Broncos and the Chargers travel to Buffalo.|
|CHI 28, SF 20||A weekend of upsets and surprises ended appropriately when both Alshon Jeffery (3-47) and Brandon Marshall (5-48, 3 TD) were able to play after never practicing last week and being game time decisions in the late game which forced many owners to play it safe and start lesser options. Jay Cutler ended with only 176 yards but four touchdowns and he was the leading rusher as well with 25 yards since Matt Forte was held to only 21 yards on 12 carries but added five catches for 15 yards. Colin Kaepernick ran for 66 yards and passed for 248 yards but only threw one score against three interceptions. Frank Gore ran for 63 yards and one score while Michael Crabtree (7-82, TD) was the only decent receiver since Anquan Boldin (2-34) wasn’t playing in a season opener and Vernon Davis left injured. The Bears ruined the grand opening of the 49ers new stadium and now head to New York to face the Jets. The 49ers pack up and head to Arizona this week.|
HUDDLE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Antonio Gates – It wasn’t enough that he missed some practices with a sore hamstring or that he was facing the fearsome Seahawks defense. All Antonio Gates did was to catch seven passes for 96 yards and three touchdowns to help the Bolts with their improbable win. Antonio deserves to say it – “Ladarius who?”
DRAMA 101 – SOMEBODY HAS TO LAUGH, SOMEBODY HAS TO CRY
This is one of the worst comparisons I can remember.
|QB||Derek Carr||321||1||QB||Robert Griffin III||60||0|
|RB||Knile Davis||105||2||RB||Knowshon Moreno||4||0|
|RB||Bobby Rainey||174||0||RB||Jamaal Charles||12||0|
|WR||James Jones||112||1||WR||A.J. Green||0||0|
|WR||Sammy Watkins||117||1||WR||Marques Colston||0||0|
|WR||Mohamed Sanu||134||1||WR||Pierre Garcon||12||0|
|TE||Niles Paul||99||1||TE||Jason Witten||32||0|
|PK||Dan Carpenter||2 XP 5 FG||PK||Blair Walsh||1 XP|
|Huddle Fantasy Points = 142||Huddle Fantasy Points = 8|
Sunday’s Couch Commentary
Weird week. Lot’s of significant injuries. Only one 300 yard passer. Just one game that topped 31 points. We can already be confident that the Jaguars, Chiefs, Giants and Raiders are going to struggle this year. The year is like 2013 with injuries and the Sunday morning guessing game really impacting the ability to field the team you want.
The Game-O-The-Week? Not much question which game prompted “Really?” the most.
Saints 24, Browns 26
Yeah, did not see this one coming.
Drew Brees passed for only 237 yards and two scores while Mark Ingram (11-83, TD) once again sparks the question “where in the hell have you been for the last four years?”. Jimmy Graham (10-118, 2 TD) still makes his just a little too smug. But all the wideouts for the Saints laid an egg in this one.
Brian Hoyer threw for 204 yards and one score and got hot at the end when it mattered the most. Terrance West ran for 68 yards and one score while Isaiah Crowell ran for 54 yards. This was a lower scoring game with much less production looking at the box score.
The Saints went up 24-23 at the start of the fourth quarter when Mark Ingram ran in his touchdown. After the Browns could not pass midfield, the Saints took over on their ten-yard line with nine minutes left to play and reached the Browns 31-yard line when Brees was sacked on third down and lost seven yards. Instead of trying a 55-yard field goal, they punted to the Browns four-yard line with 2:46 left to play.
Ten plays later the Browns were at their own 32-yard line with 46 seconds left when Brian Hoyer completed a six yard pass. On four down, he found Gary Barnridge for ten yards to the 48-yard line with 38 seconds left.
A 13 yard strike to Miles Austin dropped it to 15 seconds left at the 39-yard line.One incompletion to Austin was followed by a 28-yard connection with Andrew Hawkins at he Saints 11-yard line with only six seconds left. Field goal wins it as the time expires.
Just to clarify – that was the Browns beating the Saints.
The season is starting on a unstable, ever-changing note with the upsets and injuries and inconsistent play. That makes it hard to predict.
Now we also have to add in the media circus that has been Ray Rice and assumedly is shifting gears for Adrian Peterson as the NFL becomes more like TMZ. Watching the myriad of NFL and fantasy football shows should bring us tremendous amounts of information. Instead, it all smacks of MTV that started out about the music but by now bears no resemblance to the origin. They don’t even play music anymore.
It just seems like the more we get the worse it gets. I follow football because for my entire life I have loved the game in all facets. I wish with so many hours of programming to fill that there would be more info about personnel changes, coaching philosophies, scheme analytics. Instructional material about special teams or interviews with college scouts and what they look for. Even General Managers talking about the salary cap.
There are worthwhile tidbits from the shows to be sure. But those are harder to glean when the NFL is all about damage control and public opinion. I have seen the Ray Rice video seems like a thousand times. Domestic violence is a serious matter and I do not mean to downplay it. That Peterson went too far in his attempt to discipline his child is worthy of legal attention and maybe it can bring up important issues with ADP as the poster boy. When I turn on any of the football shows for background noise, I wonder why they don’t call it ENFL. The E is entertainment!
Me? I just love football. I am hopelessly old school I guess in a world more interested in agendas, causes, sensationalism and “protecting the brand”. It is all important.
I just miss the music.
Now get back to work…