|Brandon Mc Manus||2||5|
BUMPS, BRUISES AND BOWOUTS
Donald Brown – Concussion
Rashad Jennings – Knee
Zac Stacy – Calf
Chris Polk – Hamstring
Reggie Bush – Ankle
Calvin Johnson – Ankle
Jimmy Graham – Shoulder
Jake Locker – Hand
Montee Ball – Groin
Geno Smith –
Fred Jackson – Ankle
Danny Amendola – Head
This is a challenging year fraught with constant injuries and inconsistent play. And yet for all the under performers and outright flops, there are many big games out there. There were five running backs, four wide receivers and three tight ends that scored twice in week five. Take a look at your league scores and chances are there’s a big difference between the best and worst weekly score. But the more dynamic and changing that players are, the more opportunities that exist you can exploit.
WATERCOOLER RUNNING BACKS
Numerous surprise backs showed up in the box scores and deserve a work break to discuss.
Andre Williams (NYG) – Rashad Jennings went out with a sprained left knee and will get an MRI this week. Williams was adequate as the full-time replacement rushing for 65 yards on 20 carries with one score and he added two catches for 18 yards. But Jennings may be back soon and the Giants schedule contains no easy matchups until weeks 13 and 14 when they meet the Jaguars and then Titans. Jennings only game of much note came at home against the Texans in week three. Williams doesn’t look to be much of a difference maker anytime soon barring a lengthy absence by Jennings.
Branden Oliver (SD) – Perhaps the most impressive performance of the weekend went mostly unnoticed beyond fantasy leaguers always looking for an upgrade. The Chargers are without Ryan Mathews for a few more weeks, Danny Woodhead is gone for the year and Donald Brown was ruining his golden opportunity. Brown left the game with a concussion after nine carries and the team turned to Shaun Draughn (10-19) and Branden Oliver (19-114, TD). The undrafted back out of Buffalo also added four catches for 68 yards and a second touchdown against the #1 defense against running backs. He’s 5-8/209 lbs. and showed more burst than any other back. Ryan may return in a week or two but up next are the Raiders. Oliver should be the first free agent taken. He’s already earned a spot at the table.
Benny Cunningham (STL) – Zac Stacy left the loss in Philadelphia with a calf injury and Cunningham took over as the full-time back. He ended with seven runs for 47 yards and one score plus caught three passes for 24 yards. But even if Stacy misses time, the Rams have a brutal schedule ahead with the 49ers, Seahawks, at the Chiefs, at the 49ers and then at the Cardinals in the next five weeks. Almost all value from the Rams backfield will come from receptions in those games. Cunningham just happened to play against one of the weakest defenses in the league last Sunday.
George Winn (DET) – The Lions were without Theo Riddick and Joique Bell, and eventually even Reggie Bush left the loss to the Bills with a twisted ankle. Though Bush only managed six runs for 13 yards, Winn would end with 11 carries for 48 yards. The Lions upcoming schedule is very favorable but Bell may be over his concussion by this weekend and Riddick is expected back from his hamstring soon. Bush indicated that his ankle injury was only minor so Winn may have only minimal value this week and none beyond that. Unless all backs are out when the Lions face the Vikings this week, let Winn ride the waiver wire.
Ronnie Hillman (DEN) – Monte Ball was knocked out of the win over the Cardinals with a groin injury that is expected to be serious. That immediately puts Hillman and others into play for one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL. Hillman gained 64 yards on 15 carries compared to only seven yards on six runs by Ball. But Hillman only gained more than three yards on four runs that all came in the second half against a tired defense that lost players. Hillman’s first two seasons were disappointments that showed he was not a primary back. But other options are only undrafted Juwan Thompson who scored on an 8-yard touchdown run and C.J. Anderson who in build and style is most like Ball. Hillman has a leg up thanks to being a veteran who can pass block but this is likely a committee of three players. You cannot count out Anderson. All three should be owned like a lottery scratch-off ticket. Facing the Jets this week is unlikely to produce any big stats from any of these backs but later on the schedule lightens.
Antone Smith (ATL) – Football has endless ways to make you humble. Antone Smith is just one of those. He’s 29 years old and in his sixth NFL season with the Falcons. He’s never been more than just running back depth. What makes him notable is that he’s only ran 11 times and caught six passes. But – he rushed for 121 yards and gained 156 yards as a receiver. Basically, he still does very little except in four different games he scored touchdowns from 74, 48, 38 and 54 yards. That’s an average of 53 yards per touchdown. His one non-scoring game was just two catches for 19 yards. HC Mike Smith said he would use Smith more but the four-man rotation continues to exist. That makes Smith nothing more than a fantasy desperation play. Without the one scoring play per week he’s a non-factor. But an 80% success rate is getting mighty hard to ignore.
BUT I JUST CUT HIM
The Patriots led off Sunday night with a touchdown pass to Tim Wright, the tight end they traded for at the start of the season. Wright would end with five catches for 85 yards and that touchdown to rank in the top five tight ends for week five. The Patriots went with more two tight end sets with great success and that should spell more work for Wright. With only four catches over the previous four games, Wright no doubt found the waiver wire in many leagues but he’s coming around in a new offense and already made a difference.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SCHEDULE
Kenny Britt finally showed up when he caught five passes for 69 yards in Dallas but he has a lengthy history of failure. After a bye, Britt was back at it with three catches for 68 yards and one score in the loss to the Eagles. But he’s one to leave alone having enjoyed the secondaries of the Cowboys and Eagles. Next up are the 49ers, Seahawks and Chiefs. Everyone looks good against the Eagles this year. Austin Davis is even more in the same category after big games against those weak secondaries and now facing far tougher opponents. Not to mention that HC Jeff Fisher says Shaun Hill remains the starter when he returns from a thigh injury.
THE SECRET TO KICKERS
Starting a kicker is always a tricky thing since their value mostly resides in their respective offenses getting close to a touchdown without actually scoring. Therefore – they need a field goal. It is not always about score per se – a kicker nets you more when their offense scores 13 points because seven comes from the kicker. But score six touchdowns for a healthy 42 total points and the kicker just gets six.
There is a consistency though. We just saw it this week in very clear terms. It pops up in every statistical study that I have ever done. The top seven kickers all had something in common. The kicker for the Patriots, 49ers, Giants, Broncos, Saints, Eagles and Browns all scored more than any other kickers and shared one other similarity. Their teams won the game. Want the right kicker from your roster or picking one for a daily game? Just pick a winner.
|MIN 10, GB 42||The Vikings have lost their quarterback(s), running back, throw in a few defenders and the beat down was on. Christian Ponder (222 yds, 2 int) reminded everyone why they hated him. He did steal the only touchdown away from Matt Asiata (15-72) while Jerick McKinnon (7-24) sort of made his supporters go quiet. Aaron Rodgers passed for only 156 yards but had three touchdowns that included Jordy Nelson (1-66, TD) and Randall Cobb (3-34, TD). Eddie Lacy finally blew up for 132 total yards and two touchdowns. Now the 3-2 Packers head to Miami and the 2-3 Vikings host the Lions.|
|CHI 24, CAR 31||Just cannot ever tell what those Bears are going to do. They led 21-7 in the second quarter but then the Panthers started getting their passing game going. Cam Newton passed for 255 yards and two scores and Greg Olsen (6-72) caught both touchdowns and no one else gained over 46 yards. The rushing effort was a committee even worse than usual but Chris Ogbonnaya (8-24, TD) scored once. Jay Cutler threw for 289 yards and two scores and ran in a score as well. Matt Forte had a monster game in what seemed to be his toughest venue. He ran for 61 yards and scored once on his 12 catches for 105 yards. Alshon Jeffery (6-97, TD) was the other big receiver while Brandon Marshall (3-44) still looks hurt. Now the 2-3 Bears head to Atlanta and the 3-2 Panthers travel to Cincinnati.|
|HOU 17, DAL 20
|This was a game that was far closer than it ever should have been but a 37 yard “close your eyes and chunk it” by Tony Romo was caught by Dez Bryant and led to the winning field goal. Romo threw for 324 yards and two scores split between Bryant (9-85) and Terrance Williams (2-71). DeMarco Murray ran for 136 yards on 31 carries and added six catches for 56 yards for a Cowboys team that apparently forgot you really can wear out your best player when he is on a pace for 416 carries on the season. Arian Foster only ran 23 times but gained 157 yards and two scores plus 15 more as a receiver. Ryan Fitzpatrick (154 yds) never scored and left Deandre Hopkins (6-63) as the best Texans receiver. Now the 3-2 Texans host the Colts and the 4-1 Cowboys travel to Seattle.|
|BUF 17, DET 14||Nice upset. Matt Stafford threw for just 221 yards and one score because Calvin Johnson (1-7) was hurt and may have been injured even worse working as a decoy for week two. Golden Tate (7-134, TD) easily led all receivers since no one else gained more 30 yards for the Lions receivers. A mad dash can now be made for George Winn who ran for 48 yards on 11 carries replacing Joique Bell and eventually also Reggie Bush (43 total yards) who left with an ankle injury. Kyle Orton ended with 308 yards and one score and Sammy Watkins (7-87) was his main target. C.J. Spiller only had 33 total yards and Fred Jackson ended with 107 yards. The win sends the 3-2 Bills home to face the Patriots and the 3-2 Lions travel to Minnesota.|
|BAL 13, IND 20||Andrew Luck passed for 312 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions for a slightly cooler game than his last couple. T.J. Hilton led the team with nine catches for 90 yards and Reggie Wayne ended with 77 yards on seven receptions. Ahmad Bradshaw (15-68) took the primary role away from Trent Richardson (9-37). Joe Flacco (235 yds) had trouble passing and Steve Smith was held to only 34 yards on five catches and Owen Daniels (5-70) was the lead receiver. Just to make it worse, Justin Forsett (6-42, TD) was the lead runner but Lorenzo Taliaferro (5-18) and even Bernard Pierce (4-30) both took their turns and on going you have to expect a three-headed monster. Now the 3-2 Ravens head to Tampa Bay and the 3-2 Colts go to Houston.|
|PIT 17, JAC 9||The Jaguars were doling out about 38 points per opponent so the Steelers 17 points should count more like a loss. Ben Roethlisberger passed for only 224 yards and one score. Antonio Brown faces the Jaguars and has his worst game of the year with 68 yards on four catches. He sets the record for most number of 5-50 games in a row and then gets four catches against the Jaguars. Le’Veon Bell ran for only 64 yards on ten carries. This entire game was a travesty and the Steelers owe us all. Blake Bortles only passed for 166 yards and two interceptions.|
|ATL 20, NYG 30||The Falcons continue to travel worse than a three-year-old with a case of the diaper squirts. Matt Ryan passed for 316 yards but only one touchdown and one interception. Julio Jones (11-105) still came up big and Antone Smith, yet again, had his one obligatory long scoring play and nothing else. He caught a 74-yard pass this time. Steven Jackson (13-37) actually scored a touchdown and now that everyone has given up on Devonta Freeman, he ran for 38 yards on four runs and caught five passes for 44 yards,. Eli Manning threw for 210 yards and two scores and Odell Beckham (4-44) caught one of those touchdowns in his first NFL game. Rueben Randle (4-33) had the other score but Victor Cruz was held to only 22 yards on three catches.|
|STL 28, PHI 34||The Rams made this much more of a game than anticipated and Austin Davis passed for 375 yards and three touchdowns to show just how bad the Eagles secondary is. Brian Quick (5-87, 2 TD) is impossible to ignore anymore and even Kenny Britt (3-68, TD) made a difference without getting injured. But Zac Stacy was held to just 78 total yards and Benny Cunningham (7-47) scored the touchdown. Nick Foles only passed for 207 yards and two scores. Jeremy Maclin (5-76, TD) was the only fantasy relevant receiver. LeSean McCoy ran 24 times for 81 yards but only caught four passes for five yards. Still that was better than McCoy’s more recent games. Now the 4-1 Eagles host the Giants and the 1-3 Rams host the 49ers.|
|ARI 20, DEN 41||The Cardinals just could not hang with the Broncos and lost Drew Stanton to a concussion. Logan Thomas came in and completed just one of eight passes but it went for a 81-yard touchdown to Andre Ellington who was the only fantasy relevant Cardinal. He ended with 144 total yards and two scores. Peyton Manning passed 500 career touchdowns and passed for 479 yards (his personal best) and four touchdowns. Demaryius Thomas is apparently okay since he caught eight passes for 226 yards (Bronco record) and two scores. Emmanuel Sanders (7-101) and Julius Thomas (6-66, 2 TD) both were great fantasy plays. But Monte Ball was held in check in the first half and left with a groin strain. That allowed Ronnie Hillman (15-64) to eventually have some success against a tiring Cardinals defense that lost a few defenders along the way. Now the 3-1 Broncos head to play the Jets in New York and the 3-1 Cardinals fall from the ranks of the unbeaten and host the Redskins this week.|
|NYJ 0, SD 31||Overall, the Jets have looked better. Geno Smith was benched for Michael Vick and all combined they still only completed 12 of 31 for 74 yards and one interception. There was no fantasy value here unless you were using Chargers. Philip Rivers passed for 288 yards and three touchdowns and Antonio Gates (4-60) caught two of them. Donald Brown has been a dud anyway but he left injured. Branden Oliver ran for 114 yards and one score on 19 carries against what was a top rushing defense. He also caught four passes for 68 yards and another touchdown en route to the top of your waiver wire. Now the 1-4 Jets have to avoid swirling down the drain while hosting the Broncos. The 4-1 Chargers head to Oakland and an eventual 5-1 record.|
|KC 17, SF 22||Kind of a boring game that makes you think the 49ers are good but maybe not so much great anymore. Colin Kaepernick threw for only 201 yards and one score and ran for only 18 yards. None of the wideouts mattered other than Anquan Boldin (4-72) and Vernon Davis did not play. Frank Gore ran for 107 yards on 18 carries but that was the extent of their offense. Alex Smith faced his old team but only passed for 175 yards and two scores while no receivers had more than 50 yards. De’Anthony Thomas (AKA Black Mamba) had his first NFL action and caught one pass for a 17 yard touchdown. Jamaal Charles never scored and gained 80 yards on 15 runs. Now the 2-3 Chiefs go on their bye and the 3-2 49ers head to St. Louis.|
|CLE 29, TEN 28||Just not the Titans year so far. Jake Locker “gasp” was injured but Charlie Whitehurst filled in surprisingly well and they combined for 273 yards and three touchdowns. Justin Hunter (3-99, TD) and Kendall Wright (6-47, 2 TD) were nice surprises and Wright was even the leading rusher with 43 yards on two runs. Once again, Bishop Sankey was promised a bigger role after yet again outperforming Shonn Greene. But Sankey was limited to only eight runs for 27 yards while Green ran 11 times for 36 yards. Brian Hoyer passed for 292 yards and three scores but Miles Austin (2-54) and Jordan Cameron (3-33) were the only likely fantasy starts and flopped. Ben Tate was back and ran for 123 yards on 22 runs and left both Terrance West (7-31) and Isaiah Crowell (6-19) with no real fantasy value. Now the 2-2 Browns host the Steelers and the 1-4 Titans host the Jaguars. THEY HOST THE JAGUARS. … “score”|
|CIN 17, NE 43||For at least one night, the announcers could blather on blindly about how the Patriots and Tom Brady were suddenly “2011” again and that we were honored to watch it. Brady did throw for 292 yards and two scores with no interceptions or about double what he had done in any other week. Rob Gronkowski (6-100, TD) finally topped 45 yards in a game and Tim Wright (5-85, TD) will become a waiver wire target this week after ending up there thanks to only one catch over the previous three weeks. Stevan Ridley ran for 113 yards and one score while Shane Vereen gained 90 yards on nine carries. It all worked for the Patriots and it was, according to the announcers, a thing of beauty and the natural order. Andy Dalton only passed for 204 yards and two scores and A.J. Green (5-81, TD) scored on the first play after Aqib Talib was injured. Giovani Bernard only totaled 70 yards in the lop-sided game. The Pats were finally fed up with being the object of local derision and pulled off a nice win. Now the 3-2 Patriots head to Buffalo and the 3-1 and no longer unbeaten Bengals will host the Panthers.|
HUDDLE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Peyton Manning – There were several good choices this week including Matt Forte (17-61, 12-105, TD) and Demaryius Thomas (8-226, 2 TD). But Peyton Manning passed for a personal best 479 yards and four touchdowns and when Manning sets a personal record, you know it is a big day. He broke past 500 career touchdowns and will scoot past Brett Favre in many categories before it is over.
DRAMA 101 – SOMEBODY HAS TO LAUGH, SOMEBODY HAS TO CRY
|QB||Austin Davis||405||3||QB||Matt Stafford||221||1|
|RB||Branden Oliver||182||2||RB||Montee Ball||18||0|
|RB||Pierre Thomas||112||2||RB||Reggie Bush||43||0|
|WR||Brian Quick||87||2||WR||Calvin Johnson||7||0|
|WR||Travis Benjamin||48||2||WR||Roddy White||26||0|
|WR||Kenny Britt||68||1||WR||Victor Cruz||22||0|
|TE||Jim Dray||25||1||TE||Jimmy Graham||36||0|
|PK||Josh Brown||12 pts||PK||Blair Walsh||4 pts|
|Huddle Fantasy Points = 155||Huddle Fantasy Points = 30|
Sunday’s Couch Commentary
Seemed like more of a standard week than most. After only five weeks, we no longer have any unbeaten teams thanks to the Bengals and Cardinals drawing tough road trips. But we still have the glorious Jaguars and Raiders searching for their first win. We have to give a tip of the hat to Buccaneers, Saints, Falcons, Bears, Vikings and Titans for giving up so many points in such a short time. They are truly what makes fantasy football worth playing.
Jake Locker got hurt. Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas went nuclear. Tom Brady finally had one decent game and was reappointed as the Golden Child once again by the announcers. The more things change, the more they stay the same. For one week anyway.
The Game-O-The-Week? Let’s score a lot of points. Then go into overtime. And then score more points.
Buccaneers 31, Saints 37
The Buccaneers were on the road and without their first round pick Mike Evans. The Saints were finally back at home and had every reason to want a blowout win.
Mike Glennon threw for 249 yards and two scores which makes it multiple scores in both games since he became a starter. Vincent Jackson reeled in eight passes for 144 yards and Louis Murphy had three catches for 35 yards and one score. That makes two games and one had 99 yards and the other a touchdown. He needs to be owned if only just in case.
Doug Martin (14-45) was not only held in check, but Bobby Rainey (6-21) took the only rushing touchdown.
For the Saints, Drew Brees posted 371 yards and two scores but had three interceptions. The wideouts were mostly unused other than Brandin Cooks (9-56) because the running backs were so busy. Khiry Robinson ran for 89 yards and the winning touchdown while Pierre Thomas racked up eight catches for 77 yards and a score plus 35 yards on four carries with a second touchdown. Somehow Marques Colston only caught three passes for 63 yards and Jimmy Graham (2-36) left with an injured shoulder.
The fourth quarter opened with Glennon hitting Robert Herron with a nine-yard touchdown to go up 31-20. But on the next series, the Saints drove the field and ended with Pierre Thomas running around right end for a 27 yard touchdown and a 31-26 deficit since the two point completion was not caught by Benjamin Watson.
The Buccaneers took over at their own 20-yard line with nine minutes to play but after a holding call and then fumbling but at least recovering it themselves, they were on the two yard line. On third down and 29 yard for a first down, Glennon was sacked in the end zone for a safety and with 6:38 left to play it was 31-28 in favor of the Buccaneers.
Once again the Saints would drive the field and when it was fourth down and eight at the Buccaneers 26-yard line, Shayne Graham kicked a 44 yard field goal to tie the score with 2:35 left to play.
Both teams would have one series each that did nothing more than chew up clock until it was overtime.
The new rule is that you cannot win on a field goal if you have the first series in overtime. That never was a problem since the Saints would drive the 80 yards in overtime and end with an 18-yard touchdown by Robinson to win the game.
But the Buccaneers were more than game and that was without Mike Evans. The Saints are not the same Saints we knew. The Patriots are not either, no matter what Chris Collingsworth wants you to believe. We’re draining running backs due to injury at an incredible pace and already relying on undrafted former practice squad players in some cases.
The Cowboys response to over-working DeMarco Murray was to increase his workload to a record 31 carries and six more catches. Calvin Johnson may have further injured a leg that has made him worthless for two weeks and suddenly the Lions are not quite such a bad cat. Demaryius Thomas is back and a monster. It’s almost like a new NFL each week.
And all I want is to get Tim Wright back. Dang.
Now get back to work…