Bumps, Bruises and Bowouts
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick – Leg
TE Travis Kelce – Ejected
WR Allen Hurns – Concussion
WR Victor Cruz – Ankle
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey – Foot
WR Jeremy Maclin – Groin
WR Travis Benjamin – Knee
RB Derrick Henry – Calf
Past the midway point, early season leaders like the Vikings, Broncos and Packers are falling back into the middle of the pack while the Dolphins, Chiefs, Raiders and Giants all have at least a three game winning streak. And their associated fantasy players are falling or rising along with their teams.
The next three weeks should hold surprising results from teams that will have their one trap game. After a few months of playing, inevitably they take an opponent too lightly and get caught mailing in the game.
The last two weeks held far fewer fantasy stars with a total of 12 teams taking their bye but scoring should get back to normal with only four out in each of the next two weeks. It made that handful of big player performances all the more advantageous.
I Think We’re Alone Now
Week 9 was destined to be a wasteland for fantasy tight ends with Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed and Tyler Eifert off on their byes. In Week 8, those three made up three of the top four performers. But instead of the same eight touchdowns, there were 12 scored by the position. Typically, most tight end stats decrease as the season progresses but the position suddenly provided all new relevance.
Antonio Gates (Chargers) – He led the team with 75 yards and a score on five catches and his nine targets tied for that lead. Gates had never gained more than 38 yards in any game this year but took full advantage of being the primary receiver in the win over the Titans. Gates schedule next greets the Dolphins, Texans, Buccaneers and the Panthers.
Eric Ebron (Lions) – Already coming off a good performance in Houston with seven catches for 79 yards, Ebron also had a season best game. He led the Lions with 92 yards on seven receptions in their win over the Vikings. After his Week 10 bye, Ebron faces three home games versus the Jaguars, Vikings again and the Bears plus a road trip to face the Saints.
Zack Ertz (Eagles) – Despite preseason optimism, Ertz never figured much into the new offense of the Eagles. But in the Week 9 loss to the Giants, he led the team with 97 yards on eight receptions for a season high. As the Eagles are struggling more on offense now than in early weeks, Ertz is finally starting to show up at the top of the box score. He’ll be going against the visiting Falcons this week and then face the Seahawks, Packers and Bengals next.
Lance Kendricks (Rams) – For many years, the Rams ranked poorly in tight end production as they were little more than extra offensive tackles for blocking. But Kendricks already had a season high seven catches for 55 yards in Week 7. Coming off the Week 8 bye, he led the Rams with 98 yards on seven receptions in the loss to the Panthers. The Rams face a tough immediate schedule with trips to the Jets, Saints and Patriots sandwiching a home stand versus the Dolphins. Kendrick has finally become a regular part of the weekly game plan.
Vance McDonald (49ers) – He never topped 25 yards since Week 2 but in the loss to the Saints, McDonald enjoyed a career best game. He caught three passes for 84 yards that included a 65-yard touchdown catch. He and running back DuJuan Harris had the only receiving scores for the 49ers. Their schedule is about to turn very tough with three of the next four games on the road to face the Cardinals, Dolphins and Bears with a home venue in Week 11 versus the Patriots. But gaining the confidence of Colin Kaepernick will pay off with more targets.
Richard Rodgers (Packers) – Facing the visiting Colts with a full complement of wide receivers did not suggest that Rodgers was in for his best game of the year. His six receptions for 64 yards were second only to Jordy Nelson in a performance that truly came out of nowhere since he had no catches the previous week. This was truly just an aberration.
Looking For Work
Teams that continue to have problem areas in their offense at least have some new options to consider.
Paul Perkins (Giants) – The fifth-round rookie was little used until Week 9 when he was given 11 carries to gain 32 yards and caught a season high three passes for 15 yards. That may not seem impressive but in the context of the team – it is. Rashad Jennings returned in Week 6 from a thumb injury and spent the last three games totaling 33 runs for 66 yards and a 2.0 yard per carry average. Much of Perkins yardage came on 14-yard and 15-yard runs in the fourth quarter but that was a level of production unseen from Jennings in a long time. He’s due to at least get more work and already out-carried Jennings last Sunday. The Giants get home games against the Bengals and Bears up next and then receive that NFL treat known as a trip to Cleveland.
Kapri Bibbs (Broncos) – There is no confusion about Devontae Booker being the primary back but he’s not exactly excelling in the role lately. In a Week 8 home game against the Chargers, he only gained 54 yards on 19 carries (2.8 YPC) and then in Oakland, he was limited to just ten runs for 22 yards. Bibbs was called up as the back-up when C.J. Anderson was placed onto injured reserve. Bibbs would run for 11 yards on two carries last Sunday and turn a short catch into a 49-yard weave through the defense for a score. Those were late game and not to be overstated but this week the Broncos play in New Orleans. If Booker continues to underwhelm, Bibbs would see more work.
Quinton Patton (49ers) – There has been precious little production from the 49ers wide receivers since Colin Kaepernick became the starter in Week 6 but in a sign of how bad the Saints secondary is, he passed for 398 yards and two scores for Week 9. The top receiver was Quinton Patton with six catches for 106 yards. While Kaepernick was limited to no more than 187 yard in his first two starts, there was one commonality within the meager production. Quinton Patton caught more passes each week than any other wide receiver (four and three catches respectively). With five of the next seven games played in road venues, Kaepernick will look for Patton before the other options.
Corey Coleman (Browns) – The 0-9 Browns are already starting to assess players for 2017 and that meant opting for the rookie Cody Kessler over the veteran Josh McCown. With only 203 yards versus the banged up Cowboys secondary, the Browns left potential production on the table. Notable was their first-round rookie pick of Corey Coleman who had last played – with Josh McCown – and gained 104 yards and two touchdowns in the Week 2 loss to the Ravens. Coleman’s first game back from his broken hand only produced three catches for 41 yards but his seven targets tied with Terrelle Pryor for the team high. Coleman gets a chance to come full circle with a trip to play the Ravens again this week and then home games versus the Steelers, Giants and Bengals. Using Coleman more heavily is preparing for the 2017 season.
Eli Rogers (Steelers) – He’s back. After an encouraging season opener (6-59, TD) in Washington, Rogers all but disappeared. He suffered turf toe in Week 3 and missed three games and played a minimal role in three others. During the loss to the Ravens, a healthy Markus Wheaton was inactive as the final step in his diminishing role. Sammie Coates was unable to catch any of his five targets including dropping a touchdown in the end zone. Darrius Heyward-Bey was lost with a foot injury. But Rogers led the Steelers with 103 yards on six catches and his ten targets were second only to Antonio Brown. That should at least buy more looks during the upcoming games against the Cowboys, Browns, Colts and Giants.
Down The Road
Week 11 may only have four teams on bye, but the Falcons, Broncos, Jets, and Chargers contain many weekly fantasy starters. It is the final week of byes other than Week 13 when the Browns and Titans are out. Plan now to get past that final weekend when your full roster is not available.
PIT 14, BAL 21
This was a defensive game that had 22 points scored in the fourth quarter including all the the Steeler’s scores. It also knotted up the AFC North. Ben Roethlisberger only threw for 264 yards and one score but ran in a second. Le’Veon Bell had just 70 total yards
? What the for his worst game of the year. Eli Rogers (6-103) is back in the news while Mike Wallace (4-124, TD) did little other than that 95-yard touchdown catch to set the Ravens team record. Slow game that had Roethlisberger clearly looking less effective in his first game back from the MCL injury. The 4-4 Steelers will host the Cowboys this week and the 4-4 Ravens welcome the Browns with open arms.
DAL 35, CLE 10
This had all the trappings of a trap game only the Browns are trapped in their own mediocrity. The Cowboys threw for three scores and Jason Witten (8-134, TD) was the lead receiver just to prove speed means nothing against the Browns. Ezekiel Elliott (18-92, 2 TD) failed to reach the century mark but scored twice simply because he could. Using Cody Kessler (203 yds, TD) instead of Josh McCown didn’t really pay off but by now the Browns are already playing for 2017. Isaiah Crowell (4-63) was the lead receiver which says all you need to know about Kessler who faced a Cowboys secondary missing two players). The 7-1 Cowboys head to Pittsburgh this week and the 0-9 Browns go to Baltimore.
JAX 14, KC 19
Just a predictable yawner. Blake Bortles (252 yds, 2 TD) had a late touchdown to make it look close. Chris Ivory ran for 107 yards that had to surprise even himself thanks mostly to a 42 yard run. Allen Robinson (7-76, TD) had a big game considering his 2016 reality. Nick Foles (187 yds, TD) threw one score that ended with Albert Wilson (3-42, TD) but Travis Kelce (5-58) was the lead receiver even with his ejection. Ends up that Charcandrick West (13-39) is not going to make anyone forget about Spencer Ware who has pretty much made everyone forget about Jamaal Charles. Except for that one guy in your league. The 2-6 Jaguars host the Texans this week and the 6-2 Chiefs head to Carolina.
NYJ 23, MIA 27
Close game and the winning score was a 96-yard kick return by Kenyan Drake. Matt Forte (12-92, TD) has no role as a receiver still and the best Jets receiver was Jalin Marshall (3-59, TD) just to make it confusing for the announcers and depressing for Brandon Marshall (6-45). November 6th will henceforth be celebrated annually as Dominique Jones Day since the sixth year tight end who has changed teams nine times in his career just scored his first NFL touchdowns and led the Dolphins with three catches for 42 yards (both career marks). Jay Ajayi did not break 200 yards for the third time in a row but he still ended with 24 carries for 111 yards and a score. The 3-6 Jets host the Rams this week while the 4-4 Dolphins play in San Diego.
DET 22, MIN 16
The Lions won this in overtime when Golden Tate caught a 28-yard touchdown and that came after Matt Prater made a 58-yard field goal to tie as regulation time expired. The Vikings came really close to winning that one but instead lost their third straight. Sam Bradford threw for 273 yards and one score to Kyle Rudolph (1-1, TD) who was shockingly under-used against a defense that ranked #32 against tight ends.
I’m not saying that Norv Turner would have noticed that and won the That was odd considering new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was,,, the ,,, tight end coach. The Lions used their tight end and Eric Ebron (7-92) led the team, Marvin Jones (1-5) not only remains hidden under a rock, but no one remembers which rock it is. Golden Tate (11-79, TD) is the new Marvin Jones. The 5-4 Lions now go to their bye with a winning record and the 5-3 Vikings play in Washington where their lack of any rushing offense on the road will again be an issue.
PHI 23, NYG 28
Not unlike the Vikings, the Eagles are cooling off after a hot start and they not only lost three of the last four, but each loss was against an NFC East rival. That’ll ding the old playoff hopes. Carson Wentz passed for 364 yards but no scores with Zach Ertz (8-97) as the top receiver just when it seemed safe to assume he was never going to do anything this year. Darren Sproles gained 71 total yards but saw Ryan Mathews (5-15, TD) and even Kenjon Barner (1-3, TD) steal his touchdowns. Eli Manning threw for 257 yards and four touchdowns because he is great at every home game and flops in every road venue. Odell Beckham (4-46, 2 TD) and even Sterling Shepard (3-50, TD) were top receivers and the Giants never have anything that could be considered a top rusher. The 5-3 Giants host the Bengals this week and the 4-4 Eagles face the incoming Falcons.
CAR 13, LA 10
You are on a three-hour flight, sitting between a baby with colic and a guy with the flu. And you say, “well, it cannot get any worse.” And then this game is played on the seat-back TV screen. Greg Olsen (5-52, TD) and Kenny Britt (4-49, TD) are the only reason why this was not 6-3. No one rushed fore more than 48 yards. The top receiver in the game was Lance Kendricks (7-90) who is a tight end for the Rams but mostly just that extra offensive tackle on the right. The 3-5 Panthers will host the Chiefs this week and the 3-5 Rams will hit the road to play the Jets.
IND 31, GB 26
Upset of the day. Andrew Luck only passed for 281 yards and one touchdown to Donte Moncrief (3-55, TD) and T.Y. Hilton (6-82) led the Colts. Frank Gore ran for 60 yards and two touchdowns to make the biggest difference. Aaron Rodgers passed for 297 yards and three touchdowns with Jordy Nelson (7-94, TD) being the only big fantasy play. The Packers trailed 31-13 in the final quarter but made it respectable and almost a comeback. The Colts are winning road games in Green Bay and the Packers cannot handle the visiting Colts. Times are changing. The 4-5 Colts head onto their bye and the 4-4 Packers travel to Tennessee this week.
NO 41, SF 23
This is why there is fantasy football.The 49ers are on a seven-game losing streak but fans show up and the game has huge impact for fantasy team owners. Drew Brees threw for 323 yards and three scores with Michael Thomas (5-73, 2 TD) as the top receiver. Mark Ingram went from shamed and benched in Week 8 to gaining 158 yards and a score on 15 carries while those who relied on Tim Hightower still had 92 total yards and a touchdown. For fantasy teams scraping the waiver wire for bye week replacements (and it is where almost all 49ers players live), the results were spectacular. Colin Kaepernick passed for 398 yards and two scores, while Dujuan Harris gained 142 yards and one touchdown. Quinton Patton (6-106) and Vance McDonald (3-84, TD) both had season highs. The 4-4 Saints have to host the Broncos this week while the 1-7 49ers get to head to Arizona.
DEN 20, OAK 30
The Raiders are for real. Cannot argue with a 7-2 record and a take down of the Broncos. Trevor Siemian threw for 283 yards and two scores but a very late 69-yard scoring catch by Kapri Bibbs made it look much better than it really was. No other Denver receiver had more than 56 yards and Devontae Booker faced the #22 defense against running backs and only managed 22 yards on 10 carries. Derek Carr did little with only 184 passing yards because Latavius Murray ran for 114 yards and three touchdowns on 20 rushes. It was just one game and they will play again in the season finale’ but it really looked like a passing of the AFC West torch from a team predicated on defense to a team winning with offense. The 6-3 Broncos head to New Orleans where the passing has to be better. The 7-2 Raiders take their bye pretty happy with themselves.
Huddle Player of the Week
Mike Evans – Could have made a strong argument for Melvin Gordon (261 total yards and one score) but Evans faced the Falcons on Thursday night and ended with 11 catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns. That’s the way you want to start out the fantasy week. Evans had 17 targets and the closet any other Buccaneer came was five catches for 46 yards. Evans is one of the handful of wideouts that get an insane number of targets and he was drafted after all the others.
Drama 101 – Somebody has to Laugh, Somebody has to Cry
Here is an oddity – almost no running back that was normally a RB1 or even RB2 had a really bad game. Helps that not one starting running back was injured.
|QB||Colin Kaepernick||398/23||2||QB||Cam Newton||225/16||1|
|RB||T.J. Yeldon||65||1||RB||Jonathan Stewart||42||0|
|RB||Chris Ivory||107||0||RB||Todd Gurley||74||0|
|WR||Taylor Gabriel||76||1||WR||Jeremy Maclin||0||0|
|WR||Quinton Patton||106||0||WR||Dez Bryant||19||0|
|WR||Eli Rogers||103||0||WR||Jarvis Landry||33||0|
|TE||Vance McDonald||84||1||TE||Gary Barnidge||23||0|
|PK||Cairo Santos||4 FG 1 XP||PK||Chris Boswell||2 XP|
|Huddle Fantasy Points = 111||Huddle Fantasy Points = 35|
Titans 35, Chargers 43
What’s not to like about a game that featured 10 touchdowns and only three field goals?
Marcus Mariota went back to using his wideouts and threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns plus he rushed in one score. No Titans gained more than 64 receiving yards but Rishard Matthews (6-62, 2 TD) and Delanie Walker (5-42, TD) were used in many fantasy lineups and DeMarco Murray gained 80 total yards and one score.
Philip Rivers passed for 275 yards and two scores that were split between Antonio Gates (5-75, TD) and Tyrell Williams (6-65, TD). It was a surprise that any Chargers were productive since Melvin Gordon ran for 196 yards on 32 carries with one score and added 65 yards on four catches.
Half of the winners this week were in road games. The 7-1 Cowboys have a game and a half lead on the entire NFC. Consider the following for an idea of just how dynamic and inconsistent the NFL is between some current records and where they ended up in 2015.
Dallas 4-12 vs. 7-1
Carolina 15-1 vs. 3-5
Arizona 13-3 vs. 3-4-1
Oakland 7-9 vs, 7-2
Denver 12-4 vs. 6-3
Cincinnati 12-4 vs. 3-4-1
Baltimore 5-11 vs. 4-4
New York Jets 10-6 vs. 3-6
Things change a lot in a year. And they can still change a lot in the final seven weeks of the season. Now is the time for NFL teams to start to assert themselves but it already looks unlikely that we’ll see much of a repeat of the 2015 playoffs.
The conference championships were the Panthers over the Cardinals and the Broncos over the Patriots.
Well. I guess the Pats will be there. Hope you make your playoffs.
Now get back to work…