Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NFL WEEK 9 – Thursday Night Preview

Chiefs fans aren't so enthralled with this season.
The 1-6 Chiefs travel out West to face the 3-4 Chargers, losers of three in a row. The Chiefs management and coaching is under heavy fire from local pundits and reporters alike to put up a product the fans can trust, and their impatience may be justified. According to Sam Mellinger's football commentary, the Chief are the first team to go seven weeks without a lead since 1940. To say that's a point of embarrassment for the Kansas City fandom is to be euphemistic at minimum.

Chargers fans aren't much less surly, and this division matchup once filled with such promise now becomes a game even the local fans can't bear to watch. San Diego's offense has been pretty dreadful. Philip Rivers started with a completion rate of 72 percent or better in three of their first four games. Since then, all games have been under 65 percent, and declining each week. Antonio Gates appears to be a shell of his former self, and he now has fewer receptions than backup RB Ronnie Brown. B
oth teams have running backs that seem to be under-utilized. The Chargers Ryan Mathews has had ball security issues, and lost another fumble last week.  The San Diego Coaching Staff has made it all but clear he's lost any chance at red zone carries.  However, Norv Turner's image is nearly at the point of being burned in effigy, and at some point Turner's going to have to ride out his fortunes on someone, and it might as well be Mathews.

Mathews has had over 20 carries the past two games, but has seen his receptions diminish, not to mention sharing the load with RBs Ronnie Brown and Jackie Battle.  This week, don't count out Battle again being used against his former team. Though he hasn't had more than four carries since their first meeting, in the last game against Kansas City he carried 15 times and scored twice. So while Mathews should be getting 20 carries, he might lose 6-8 of them to Battle. Rivers threw only 23 times last game, but in all likelihood the Chargers won't be given as many short fields to play with. Thus, I expect more attempts and more opportunities for Malcom Floyd, who has six touchdowns against the Chiefs in 12 games. He'll get his second score of the season. Eddie Royal hopes to be healthy enough to play and could return punts, but it's also possible he'd see more targets if he's active. After all, Robert Meachem (hamstring issue) dropped a sure touchdown pass last week, and I'd be surprised if his opportunities increase. If Royal can't go, Denario Alexander and recently signed Seyi Ajirotutu could see more action, but I wouldn't pin any hopes on them for your lineup. Antonio Gates has owned the Chiefs to the tune of 12 touchdowns in 15 games, but based on a short week and the fact he managed just three grabs against KC last time, I'm not putting a whole lot of faith in him here. 

The Chiefs have to get out of their own way.  In the last meeting, the Chiefs turned the ball over five times, and two of Matt Cassel's interceptions hit his receivers right in the hands.  Not surprisingly, two of those interceptions came on long situations, so don't be shocked if Cassel is throwing on early downs again, and using Jamaal Charles on second and short and third and manageable situations.  Charles received only eight touches last week, and after Romeo Crennel's press conference where he stated he wasn't sure why Charles saw such limited action, you can bet he'll get plenty of opportunities here. In seven games against San Diego, Charles sports a per carry average of over five yards and has scored three rushing touchdowns. The matchup is favorable as San Diego's rush defense has fallen to 20th, and the Chiefs are going to want to limit their quarterback's exposure. Peyton Hills could mop up a touchdown in red zone duty, but not much else. Wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin hasn't had more than two catches in the last three games, so you're actually coveting Dwayne Bowe in this game for nearly 80 yards and a score. The Chiefs discovered their TE Tony Moeaki last weekend, giving him eight targets and four receptions. However, while it would seem prudent to give Cassel the easier assignment of finding Moeaki in the middle of the field, the Chargers have allowed just one pass TD to a tight end all season. Moeaki may get you 45-50 yards, but that's all.  If you're looking for PPR help, RB Dexter McCluster is now second on the team with receptions, and is a poor man's Darren Sproles.  He has returner's speed but has a higher center of gravity and won't likely break many tackles.

In the end, this game will come down to the rushing attacks, and which defense causes the big turnover. The Chiefs should have taken the first game but put five turnovers in the Chargers hands with Cassel has been victimized by his own receivers. Turnovers tend to balance out over time, and this Chargers team won't get the benefit of two tipped interceptions, or as many Jamaal Charles fumbles. The Chiefs are going to make this one close before lfinding a way to lose by a field goal.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

NFL WEEK 8 – T & R

As we near the halfway point of the season, the pretenders pretend and the contenders contend. This is often true in fantasy football as well. Luck can only last so long. You won't always go up against the highest scoring team every week. You won't always run up against the guy who plugged in, say, WR Titus Young this week because he had no one else and ended up the jackpot winner. Likewise, you won't always be the team that gets that kind of break all time. Many times you'll leave the guy on your bench who was the best sub. One thing is for certain, it's time to start checking your roster and your players' schedules down the road. There is now a large enough sample size to do this with credible information. The NFL trade deadline is Thursday, reminding you that your trade deadline is not too far behind. If you're going to make a deal, start the discussions now. And by the way, if you really want to get a deal done, don't email, don't text --- call. You're all friends here and the best way to get a trade finished is to treat it like a real transaction. Below are more things you should consider.

While a victory by the Patriots seemed all but assured, it was how they won that should have NFL coaches, particularly defensive coordinators losing sleep. They ran for two scores and put up over 150 rushing yards. They passed for four more touchdowns and threw for over 300 yards. Danny Woodhead was a fine PPR with 10 points. Brandon Lloyd caught his first two touchdowns since the blowout of the Bills four weeks ago. Rob Gronkowski finished with over 100 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Remember the last time Josh McDaniels was coordinator for the Patriots' offense, Tom Brady threw a record 50 touchdown passes. It appears the offense is kicking once again.

The Rams returned to their penalty-prone ways, drawing 12 flags for over 100 yards. This is not a team who can overcome those kind of mistakes. Steven Jackson has lost out on the competition to be the starting running back in St. Louis. Rumors are floating he could easily be traded, which would augment Daryl Richardson to official starter. This might also lift Isaiah Pead into a position where he'll see more action. Pead had three carries for 32 yards Sunday, and though he's been slower to make the transition to the pros, it doesn't mean he won't get his shot to make an impact this year. Simply put, the Rams need playmakers, and besides Chris Givens, they've been challenged to find any.

The Eagles are really this bad. A week after firing Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo, a move that seemed popular by Philadelphia fans standards, the defense couldn't stop a listing boat, taking on water in the middle of gale-force winds (to be storm analogy appropriate). In what has to be the most ironic game of their season, the Eagles didn't turn the ball over once. However, once a ship starts sinking, the Captain goes down with the vessel. Several weeks back I urged you dear reader to consider the day QB Nick Foles might make an appearance. He's likely to make that appearance sooner than later. Perhaps the change in chemistry will help this offense, but remember that even with the ridiculous amount of turnovers Michal Vick had, they were still seventh best in the NFL in terms of yards per game.

Two major concerns regarding the Eagles: First, for all the contract bluster and such that was bestowed on DeSean Jackson, not necessarily one of the brightest players in the NFL, their $47 million deal has gotten him one touchdown reception and the worst average catch rate for his career at less than 16 yards per grab. Some will blame Michael Vick for this, and they would be partially accurate. Just what will Jackson provide once a new quarterback's under center? Second, after starting the season averaging over five yards per carry in three of four games, RB LeSean McCoy has averaged 3.3 yards per carry of less in the last three. Atlanta has one of the worst rushing defenses in the NFL, and was yielding 5.2 yards per carry to opposing rushers entering Sunday's game. McCoy could only manage 2.8, suggesting this offensive line is falling apart, or he's not 100 percent. The good news is he's still scoring, but touchdowns are pretty random, while average yardage is not.

If you want to lay a lot of blame, you can look no further than Cam Newton and Steve Smith this time. I still am not sure how he threw that pass so far over his receiver's head, but it reminded me of Neil O'Donnell's passes thrown to CB Larry Brown in Super Bowl XXX. It's the easiest interception and touchdown Tim Jennings will have this season, and maybe for his career. Wide receiver Steve Smith slipped, but the pass looked like it was sky high anyway as Jennings was near the sideline when he picked it off. Smith probably should have caught a touchdown pass that Newton put in an almost perfect spot. I say almost because Smith went after it one-handed on a semi-dive. Regardless, it was good to see Carolina finally realize they have a rushing attack. The Panthers put up 119 yards rushing on the Bears, and though divided between four players, including Newton, they ran 36 times. There is word that DeAngelo Williams is on the trading block. If he goes, Jonathan Stewart's value will indeed rise. They did everything right but score touchdowns. In three trips to the Red Zone Carolina settled for three field goals.

Newest Charger WR Denario Alexander
All I can say is wow. The game ended with a one point differential as I had predicted, but 7-6? This was ugly in many ways, but more so for my prognosticating powers. Some may say the weather factored in but then you look at the Pittsburgh/Washington game and say, same weather, much different score. The case has truly been made now that the Chargers were quite the pretender. Their defense has failed to close out games, and Philip Rivers is trying to do too much on offense by himself. For some reason starting RB Ryan Mathews had only four passes thrown his way, while backup Ronnie Brown led all receivers with eight targets and seven catches. This isn't likely to repeat much, so don't become enamored with Brown, but what it does tell you is that the Browns secondary shut down the Chargers' receiver corps. The loss of Vincent Jackson for Robert Meachem has not worked out. Meachem had another zero catches on three targets. Mathews also fumbled again, something that will not endear him to Norv Turner when his job is on the line. Denario Alexander did make an appearance in a Chargers uniform, but was only targeted once, and it was on a toss-up pass that almost ended up in an interception. As for the Brownies, WR Josh Cooper might have been a one-week phenomenon. He only received on target. As for the Trent Richardson/Montario Hardesty scenario, Richardson showed why he is coveted by coaches and pundits alike, while many a fantasy player was reminded why Hardesty was relegated to second string. Resist the urge as a fantasy owner to make the replacement guy with a bad history (in this case, Hardesty) the next "big thing" you're going to discover.

This game could happen three more times and I don't think anyone would have Green Bay holding just a 14-12 edge at the start of the fourth quarter. And remember it took a blocked punt recovered for a touchdown for Green Bay to be in the lead. Let's hand out some credit here. Coming back from injury and without his star running back, Blaine Gabbert stepped up in a big way. He threw for over 300 yards in Green Bay, and didn't turn the ball over. Cecil Shorts III came up with 116 yards receiving and Justin Blackmon had 67 yards on four catches. For some reason, Gabbert plays a lot better on the road. With Jordy Nelson's injury compounding on the loss of Greg Jennings, the Packers had trouble running their spread offense to success. While Jennings has made it clear his groin surgery will not be season ending, I'm not necessarily buying that. This game has to concern Green Bay fans as to just what the Packers offense can do without a running game, and missing their top two receivers.  This could affect Aaron Rodgers fantasy value greatly as the season continues.

Titus Young is now the current WR2 in Detroit
I said I wouldn't use a waiver priority on Ryan Broyles….yet. Well, I might not lose my waiver priority over him, but Matthew Stafford did look for him five times on Sunday and once in the red zone. However, it was Titus Young who ended up with two touchdowns and 100 yards receiving. It's clear that defenses are doing everything they can to remove Calvin Johnson from the equation. The question is what can be expected from the rest of Detroit's receiving corps. So far, Titus Young has stepped into the WR2 role and has performed well in his first two games. He caught all nine passes thrown his way Sunday. However, the Lions did go out and sign Brian Robiskie, the Browns' second round disappointment out of Ohio State, but who knows what kind of wine that grape will bring considering Robiskie never lived up to his potential in Cleveland. However, Robiskie's built more like a prototypical receiver (6'4", 212) than both Young (5'11', 174) and Broyles (5'10', 188). For now Young is the man, and hopefully his recent success will put him past the days of subpar efforts.

Indy RB Vick Ballard may never land a starting position in the NFL again, but his pirouetting touchdown dive will be replayed for some time to come. Not only was it the game-winning score for the Colts, but it was his first ever NFL touchdown. Donald Brown's return relegated Ballard back to the RB2 position, and he'll likely remain there as for the season he's averaging 3.4 yards per carry. For Tennessee, word is that TE Jared Cook has demanded a trade, and as the deadline approaches Thursday, keep an eye out where he ends up. He has the gifts to be a difference maker if he moves to the right team. Reference his three games at the end of 2011 if your memory is failing you. By the way, one of my top sleepers for 2012 Reggie Wayne now leads the league in receiving yards. (yes, my horn goes "toot, toot").

The Steelers defense played with a renewed vigor that hasn't been seen for most of 2012, and Pittsburgh kept both Alfred Morris and Robert Griffin III in check. Though he had just four grabs for 21 yards, Santana Moss added fourth touchdown in the past three games. For the Steelers, the offensive line kept Ben Roethlisberger clean the whole day, and that allowed what arguably is one of the fastest receiver groups to pick apart the Redskins secondary. It appears for all the friction that supposedly existed between Big Ben and Steelers Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley, the offense is hitting its stride. If the defense can regain its health, particularly of Troy Polamalu, the Steelers are looking more and more like a worrisome foe for Baltimore. The Steelers did lose Safety Ryan Clark to a concussion Sunday. They'll need him in the picture if their pass defense is going to stay intact. More importantly for the Steelers, it's clear they have a new running back in town. Jonathan Dwyer posted his second 100-yard outing in as many tries. As I wrote last week, he's a Jerome Bettis flashback, and one the Steelers need badly. Redskins WR Josh Morgan had a strong game, but was injured in the process and is not expected to play this Sunday.

Mark Sanchez has been the fall guy for New Yorkers, and in many ways, he hasn't exactly played well. But Ian O'Connor's blog on ESPN sums it up best. Before you even get to his article, let's talk about how the Jets bought into the hype that Sanchez was a savior to begin with. He had one year starting at USC and his year was solid, if not spectacular. Was he tops even among his peers with his numbers that year? Well he was sixth in pass efficiency rating and ninth in touchdowns. He was 15th in pass completion percentage. So even among his class in 2008, Mark Sanchez wasn't the greatest of his year by any stretch of the imagination. Now add the fact as O'Connor's article mentions he's hardly been given a great surrounding cast, and a Head Coach who talks more than he wins, and you have the makings for an even tougher place to win. If Rex Ryan makes it through the season I will be surprised. And if he does, he won't be coaching the Jets next season.

If you're the Raiders defensive coordinator, aren't you hitting yourself for actually knocking Brady Quinn out of the game? I mean, let's be honest, the bounty systems that have existed (and might still quietly) in NFL locker rooms were not designed for Quinn. Allowing Matt Cassel back actually gave the Chiefs the best chance to win the game. Quinn was 2-for-4 for one yard and an interception in his short tenure as a starter. Jamaal Charles disappeared for the second straight game, and one has to wonder with the quarterbacking issues Kansas City is having whether teams aren't using that issue to their advantage by stacking their defense in the box. It was just two weeks ago that Charles rolled up 140 yards against the Ravens, so you're not putting him on your bench. However, until the Chiefs get some clarity under center, he may be harder pressed to repeat such performances. Tight end Tony Moeaki was finally used as part of the game plan, grabbing four of eight targets. He tied Dexter McCluster for the most targets for the Chiefs this week.

If you're Oakland, you're looking down at a five game schedule that includes four of the worst defenses in the league in Baltimore, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Cleveland. While Carson Palmer didn't play his best game, he didn't turn the ball over and threw two more TDs. He should be an above-average quarterback over the next five games for your fantasy, as should Darren McFadden, as Baltimore, New Orleans and Cleveland are in the bottom third against the run. The Raiders receivers aren't marquee names, but they are competent. Denarius Moore is quietly putting together a solid campaign. He has only 26 receptions but four of those are for touchdowns, and remember he missed opening day. Your biggest worry with Moore is injury, but if healthy, he represents your best chance for fantasy points from a receiver in Oakland.

Tony Romo threw three interceptions in the first half, leading to thirteen New York Giants points. How the game was this close after that one can only ponder, but these are the Dallas Cowboys recently. Their NFL team slogan should be Dallas Cowboys, doing just enough to disappoint. Even after the first half debacle, Tony Romo recovered and led the team back to within two inches of winning the football game. Dez Bryant's catch in the back of the end zone appeared to put an exclamation point on a season sweep of their division rival, when replay showed that his hand scraped the end line. Keep in mind, Romo started this drive on his own 30-yard line with no timeouts and just 40 seconds remaining. While Bryant made a heck of a grab, had Romo fired that ball as more of a dart toward the corner, he'd have gotten Bryant while he was wide open. This game does fall on Romo, as even in the comeback, he wasn't sharp enough to put down a solid defense like the Giants. You do have to give the guy credit for actually giving his team the lead, as late in the fourth quarter Dallas actually led 24-23. It was then their defense let them down. Regardless, Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin and his Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride aren't going to be happy that with all the field position they were given, they constantly sent kicker Lawrence Tynes out to kick field goals instead of extra points.


McGahee is a prime target for acquisition
After all the words that have been emptied about whether or not Peyton Manning could make it through this NFL season in one piece, there's no longer doubt. Securing Denver's place as the front-runner in the AFC West, Peyton Manning again demonstrated why he was made for prime-time, outdueling Drew Brees and the New Orleans Sainst 34-14. He now leads all NFL QBs in passer rating. However, there may be no player who has benefited more from the revival of the QB position than Willis McGahee. The running back has seen his tenth anniversary as a player go platinum, with 554 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He also is on his way to career high in receiving yardage as through seven games McGahee has a 166. His career high is 231. With Ronnie Hillman allowing him to take several series off a game, and San Diego, Tampa Bay and Oakland being the best rushing defenses he faces the rest of the way, McGahee is a prime target for acquisition.


The once 4-0 Cardinals are now 4-4. Against a defense that was considered as tough as any this season, San Francisco QB Alex Smith completed all but one of his passes, threw three touchdown passes, and avoided any mistakes for a near perfect passer rating. Michael Crabtree caught all five of his targets, schooling CB Patrick Peterson for two touchdowns. Larry Fitzgerald was tested for a concussion early on in the game, but remained. However, even with his favorite quarterback John Skelton under center, he was only able to get five catches for 52 yards. I don't know if there's such a thing as trading for an offensive lineman, but it doesn't really matter who is under center for the Cardinals right now because he's fodder for the opposing pass rush. Skelton was sacked four more times, and was hit countless others. I still think Kevin Kolb is the better of the two QBs, but neither is mobile enough in the pocket to avoid the hastily deteriorating pocket on pass plays. The problem is only exacerbated by their lack of a running game, which managed seven yards on just nine attempts. Arizona is a prime trading partner for a running back right now, and fantasy owners should be on alert. You don't want your starting running back heading to Arizona.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


The Perfect Storm; While the country braces for a weather event that became the subject of Sebastian Junger's famous novel, the NFL braces for a solid mix of division rivalries and cross conference challenges. Games could be affected by the weather if they're anywhere on the east coast, and though most rain or snow has no effect, we could be dealing with tremendous winds. Double check the local forecasts.


What can one say but to expect a jolly good show when the Patriots and the Rams take to the pitch at Wembley for yet another regular season NFL game overseas. The last time the Patriots visited London was 2009, and they thoroughly dismantled Tampa Bay 35-7. For the Rams, this is their first visit to the United Kingdom. There are rumors that one team might play a good portion of their home games using London as their base in the near future. Could this be an audition for the London Rams?

The Rams tenth ranked defensive unit will be tested by a New England offense that is now ranked first overall and leads the league with 217 points scored. The Patriots have been held to less than 20 points just once all year, but are 1-2 away from Gillette Stadium. Stevan Ridley leads a strong rushing attack, which has leapt into the top five, averaging 149 yards per game and scoring 10 touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Patriots passing game has a bevy of weapons, starting mainly with their two tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The Rams will attempt to keep Brady's passing offense off balance by using DEs Chris Long and Robert Quinn in different blitz packages to upset Brady's timing. Expect Cortland Finnegan to play some bump and run on Wes Welker in an attempt to take him out of the equation physically, and with Hernandez being ruled out this week, I expect Rob Gronkowski to see 10-12 targets. Brandon Lloyd should get five-seven targets and a shot downfield against his former team. He'll finish with sixty-five yards and a touchdown. Don't be surprised if Danny Woodhead ends up having another solid day, as his hybrid style makes him the perfect back to have beside Brady against blitzes for inside screens and quick flat passes. Expect Tom Brady will give you another 280 yards and three touchdowns, with Lloyd leading the way this time in terms of receiving yards for the wide outs. Gronkowski will again figure big, with 100 yards receiving and at least a touchdown. Taper your expectation for nothing more than 85 yards for Ridley.

Richardson has been a pleasant
 surprise for everyone but Steven Jackson
The Rams boast the 15th ranked rushing attack with the duo of Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson. They'll try to control the ball on the ground and keep Brady's unit sidelined as much as possible. The problem is the Patriots have a pretty strong run defense, yielding just 86 yards per contest and just 3.3 yards per carry. That means Sam Bradford is going to once again have to step up, this time against the weak Patriots secondary. Chris Givens has 12 of his 27 targets in the last two games, and is averaging over 23 yards per catch in that span. With both starting safeties for the Patriots out, Givens is primed to go deep again. Brandon Gibson led all receivers last week against the Packers, so don't be surprised to see him get another 6-7 targets this week, making him a decent WR3 play. The best news for St. Louis could be the return of Danny Amendola, who hasn't yet been ruled out with his shoulder problem. Amendola, who I've often referred to as a poor man's Wes Welker, was off to a torrid start when injuries sidelined him. However, it's hard to imagine the Rams wanting to expose their prize possession when they're still very much in the thick of things at 3-4.

In each game Bradford attempted over 35 passes the Rams lost. The Rams have won two of three games where Bradford stayed at 30 attempts or under. Expect Bradford's line to be better because of the Patriots compromised secondary, but he'll likely have to exceed 35 passes again.


Both teams are coming of their Bye Weeks, meaning that they will be well rested and likely healthier than they've been for awhile. For the Eagles, their last game was another disappointment to add to a growing list. The Lions came storming back from two 10-point deficits to overtake them in the overtime. The Falcons struggled as well, allowing Oakland 474 yards of total offense, but they escape with a three point win. These two teams met last year in Atlanta and it was a slugfest that ended with the Falcons topping out 35-31.
This year the outcome could be a little different. Michael Vick has been a much better quarterback at home, as testament to his 8.55 yards per pass attempt indicates. He completes almost 65 percent of his passes at Lincoln Financial and in addition, has been more inclined to use his legs to get out of trouble there. Thus, he's been sacked three less times, has rushed nine more times, and scored his only rushing TD of the year in his home park. Matt Ryan has been even more effective protecting the football away from the Georgia Dome posting a 70 percent completion rate and an 8/2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. However, he's struggled against Philadelphia completing just 55.3 percent of his passes with 6.3 yards per pass attempt.

Whether you realize it or not, the Eagles still have the seventh best offense in the league, averaging 379 yards per game. Though LeSean McCoy is coming off a subpar performance, he's had an extra week of preparation. The last two years after a Bye McCoy has average a combined six yards per carry. The Falcons rushing defense gives up on average 5.2 yards per carry, and though McCoy has struggled in the past against Atlanta, this game feels too important for Marty Mornhinweg not to supply McCoy with 20 carries here. Expect those 20 carries, at least 90 rushing yards and a score, with another receiving score to boot. Michael Vick completed 68 percent of his passes against his former team last year, and will have to protect the football for the Eagles to win this one. Atlanta has 10 interceptions, and a plus-10 give/take. Vick will have to control the ball, rush occasionally to keep Atlanta off-balance, and take a few shots down the field. Matt Ryan also will need to throw in this game, as RB Michael Turner hasn't had tremendous success against the Eagles. In four games against Philadelphia, he's managed just 219 rushing yards and one touchdown. He won't get in the end zone here either. The Eagles have struggled to generate sacks this season, and that means Ryan will have big opportunities to get his receivers down the field. Look for big days from Julio Jones and Roddy White. Tony Gonzalez feasted on the Eagles safeties last year for two scores in the final quarter. The Eagles will keep him from being a major factor here. . Expect Ryan to throw between 35-40 times against the Eagles secondary, and he'll get you two touchdown passes and 250 yards.

In the end, it will be the team that turns the ball over the least that keeps this game in their hands. For once, I'm betting on Vick, letting his legs be the difference in this one. Instead of making that bad throw this time, I'm expecting he'll continue his home trend of fleeing the pocket and making his former team forced to keep a 'spy' on him. That will allow him to take advantage of the deep middle with Brent Celek and keep his top target Jeremy Maclin from drawing too many double teams. I expect eight targets for Celek and around 85 yards. DeSean Jackson will get a few deep shots and quick plays to use his speed, but it will be Maclin who'll find the openings for another 10- yard day and a touchdown. I like Vick as a solid fantasy play here, for nearly 300 yards through the air, and another 50 on the ground, with a couple of touchdowns and a rushing TD as well.

Weather could be a huge factor in this one as a cold front moves across the East and Hurrican Sandy approaches the coastline. Bad weather only favors Philadelphia. Mike Smith has a 3-1 record when coming off of the Bye Week since he took over in Atlanta. His one loss came in Philadelphia to the pesky Eagles.


Unfortunately for Panthers QB Cam Newton, things don't get any easier this week. However, if Ron Rivera is paying attention, Cam could get some relief in facing the Bears defense. The last two marquee runners to face this Bears front seven, Maurice Jones-Drew and Mikel Leshoure, averaged well over four yards per attempt on the ground. Enter the Panthers, a team that has as more depth at the running back position than the Pacific Ocean, and you have the makings of an interesting game. The Bears passing defense is ranked 16th in terms of yards against, and their offense is a hardly a defensive coordinator's nightmare. If ever there was an opportunity for a team who just lost their GM to shift the tide of their season, this is it. After all, the Bears barely defeated Carolina at home last year, and it took an interception return and kick return for touchdowns to do it.

The key for Carolina is to attack and grab a lead, because Jay Cutler is not a great quarterback at playing from behind. However, whether Rivera and his offensive coordinator Rod Chudzinski
can get Newton's head on straight and utilize their weapons remains to be seen. The Panthers average 4.6 yards per carry, a better ground average than 27 other teams in the league. Last year against Chicago DeAngelo Williams averaged over eight yards per attempt, and Jonathan Stewart added over six. Stewart's been declared the starter this week, but that means little because in three games against the Bears, Stewart has totaled 30 carries and Williams 33. That's a nice split but it averages to just 10 carries per game. That's not a lot of opportunity. Steve Smith had a fantastic game last year and should be a solid WR2 for your team this week. Expect close to 100 yards and another 8-9 targets. Greg Olsen is your best play here, as the Bears are allowing an average of 6.7 fantasy points to TEs in ESPN standard scoring leagues. One third of touchdowns against them to come from that position.

The Bears will run Matt Forte until the cows come home against this Carolina defense, especially now that they're missing MLB Jon Beason. Forte ran for over 200 yards last year and should see between 20-25 attempts. The Panthers also recently placed CB Chris Gamble on the I.R., so expect rookie Josh Norman to be facing off against WR Brandon Marshall because their other CB, Captain Munnerlyn, gives up nearly a half of a foot to Marshall. Marshall will require double-teams, so he could get frustrated, but that makes Earl Bennett who has seen 16 targets in the last three games a sneaky sleeper this week. Tight end Kellen Davis isn't really a consideration.

The Bears will use Forte and compliment him with Michael Bush when necessary. They'll harass Newton and cause a few turnovers, and that will likely be the difference. However, if you're getting over seven points as the spread, I'm taking the road team again.


Was anyone really surprised that WR Robert Meachem hadn't exactly lit up the scoreboard for the Chargers? In an admission of sorts to that failure, the Chargers signed WR Denario Alexander, an oft-injured but speedy addition. He's reputed to have had five knee surgeries and he's only 24. He's also listed a six foot five, which would give the Chargers two speedy head toppers as they head to Cleveland to face the Browns' unheralded secondary. Alexander could make an appearance this weekend, but don't get too excited.

If you read this blog, you know I've picked the Browns a fair share this year, and they've covered well. This game, I'm not on board. Two things make the difference. First, RB Ryan Mathews of the Chargers is not only a strong runner, but he's one of the better pass-catching backs in the league in his just his second year. On the ground he averages 4.5 yards per carry, the same number the Browns give up. Second, for all their secondary's prowess, the Browns have given up a lot of scores (15 passing touchdowns and 180 points). Add to that the fact the Browns injury report looks like a hospital ward, with a good part of their secondary on it, and you get more bad news for the Cleveland. Philip Rivers may not have the weapons of old, but he's got a lot more than QB Brandon Weeden, who last week watched a victory slip through the hands of their newest goat, Josh Gordon.

The Browns have managed to score over 30 points just three times this year, and those came against the banged up Giants team and twice versus the hardly stout Bengals defensive backfield. Brandon Weeden has seen his numbers turn upward, and even with a receivers group seems to drop as many passes as they catch, he's a good play at home against San Diego's 25th ranked secondary. The Chargers have just 10 sacks this season, meaning Weeden should have some time to find his newest deep threat Gordon for another touchdown pass. Only seven teams give up more fantasy points to wide receivers, so look for Greg Little to have at least 10 targets, which for him means four or five grabs on the day. Keep an eye on the newest Josh to play with this group, Josh Cooper, who saw his targets rise from just three in his first NFL game, to eight last week against Indianapolis. He's a waiver wire guy to keep an eye on and a deep sleeper this week because with Trent Richardson hurting and possibly sidelined, Montario Hardesty would get the start. That means more passing for the Browns.

The Chargers have blown two big games against two worthy offensive foes. In what I expect to be a high scoring affair, this Chargers team coming off a Bye is going to take their anger out on this Cleveland franchise, with Ryan Mathews delivering over 100 yards rushing and a couple of touchdowns. Malcom Floyd will find his second touchdown of the year as well, after hauling in eight passes for 95 yards. Antonio Gates has given the Browns problems in the past, but his age and their defensive backfield do not make me optimistic for anything more than 60-70 yards. Rivers biggest concern has been pass protection, as he's been dropped 18 times this season. If he can get some extra time, Robert Meachem is likely to get a shot or two deep to see if San Diego can't leap on top.

Although both quarterbacks will put up over 250 yards on a clear day in Cleveland, the Chargers running attack will be able to score and control the clock, and thus, close the game.


The Packers offense was just getting into full gear when they ran up against a speed bump Wednesday.  Wide receiver Jordy Nelson tweaked his hamstring in Wednesday's practice, leaving him as a spectator the rest of the week. He's likely to be a game-time decision, meaning Randall Cobb and James Jones just became this week's fantasy jackpot winners. The Packers rely on being able to stretch the field with viable threats in all of the receiver positions. Having lost WR Greg Jennings to a groin injury which was recently corrected via surgery, the Packers find their depth at WR now challenged. Donald Driver is likely to return, but Driver's in the waning twilight of his golden career, and expectations for more than anything but a few receptions will be met with the giggles of your fantasy opponents. That's not to say Driver's hands don't have value. He can still make some possession grabs and at least draw some coverage. Losing Nelson would slow this offense down, as he's coming off two 100-yard performances in a row, and four touchdowns in the last two games. Running back Alex Green was handed 20 attempts last week and disappointed, with a 1.8 yards per carry average. Even so, he's likely to get the same number again, as James Starks still isn't healthy, and Green Bay needs to prove they can run to keep the oft-sacked Aaron Rodgers upright. Jacksonville isn't quite as strong up front as their last opponent, the Rams, so I expect a similar number of runs with more success. Red Zone favorite John Kuhn has been ruled out Sunday giving Green's value a slight uptick as there's no threat of Kuhn playing touchdown vulture.

Can Jennings change the outcome?
Jacksonville hobbles into Green Bay without Maurice Jones-Drew, who has a foot sprain. No timetable has been given for his return. That means Rashad Jennings gets the start, and you could do a lot worse here. It will make a difference for Jennings that Blaine Gabbert start, as the playbook won't be pared down as it might have been with backup Chad Henne under center. Jennings has only carried the ball more than 10 times in three games, and his durability as an every down back has been a concern. Laurent Robinson is still not back, having had three concussions this year already, and he's stated he doesn't feel like he's in playing shape, something you never like to hear from a player say. Thus, Gabbert will again be looking for Cecil Short III and Justin Blackmon, with an occasional appearance from Mike Thomas. Ironically, Gabbert has posted a QB rating over 98 on the road and has zero interceptions this season. That may change this week as the Packers lead the NFL with 24 sacks and has become more opportunistic in recent weeks. Gabbert has been sacked 18 times this year and will be under pressure all day long. Cecil Short is worth playing in this one as your flex or third wide out as Jacksonville will have to throw.

If this game was in Jacksonville…. and Mike McCarthy was hit by lightning…. and Aaron Rodgers had a leg removed…. It probably still wouldn't' be very close. Your biggest worry fantasy wise is that Rodgers and the offense put up a huge lead, and they sit him with line like 195 yards and three touchdowns. You're taking Green Bay all day.


These two teams have more in common than you would think. Both offenses have been struggling and return to action after games where they lost after their defenses gave up just 13 points. Both teams have improved defenses ranked fifth and eighth respectively, and both stuff opposing running backs over ten percent of the time. Both have solid pass defenses, yielding fewer than 220 yards per game passing. Both teams have recently lost a wide receiver for the immediate future to injury. Where the Lions have a fourth ranked offense overall, the Seahawks tote the 30th ranked offense. Yet both teams are having problems putting the ball in the end zone. For all of their offensive yardage, and they average 306 per game, the Lions have scored just 133 points, good for 21st in the NFL. Seattle ranks 26th with 116 points and manages just 293 yards per game total.

Detroit's biggest problem has been falling behind. The Lions haven't led once when entering the fourth quarter, and while a large part of the problem has been their special teams, a good part of this burden has to fall on their QB Matthew Stafford. Detroit has been terrible at scoring this season, managing just 48 percent of the time to get seven points when setting up inside the 20. Not only that, they've been turning the ball over in droves, and Stafford has thrown six interceptions to just five touchdowns. Calvin Johnson is still averaging nearly 100 yards per game, but has found the end zone just once. Now the team has lost Nate Burleson, and though they're still averaging among the tops in yards per play, this is a team just seems to that lack any chemistry. Detroit doesn't have nearly the potent running game of San Francisco, meaning Mikel Leshoure will get 15-17 carries, but to what end? Scott Linehan seems married to the idea of throwing because since Leshoure's first game where he carried 26 times, Leshoure hasn't breached 15 carries in a contest since. I don't' see Detroit's offense meriting much attention. You can't bench Megatron, but you can sit Stafford as I have done in several leagues. According to, he's on pace to throw just 13 TDs this season. Whether he breaks out of this funk will depend a lot on how effective Titus Young is in stepping into the WR2 spot. However, having watched Young simply break off routes and give some lackluster efforts, I'm not keen on that happening. Thus, Ryan Broyles becomes a candidate to monitor. He had Detroit's loan touchdown last week against the Bears, but I'm not wasting a waiver priority on him yet.

Seattle is coming off a tough divisional loss where the ugly scab that is their offense became a full on sore. Russell Wilson was unable to get anything going against the 49ers defense, going 9-for-23 for 122 yards and an interception. The problem though really isn't Wilson. He was accurate with his throws as any QB this season. He has so few guys that can catch the ball. Marshawn Lynch will again be the focal point and Detroit will do what most teams have tried to do, load the box and force Wilson to throw. Lynch will deliver 100 yards anyway, and against the Lions and should be in your lineup. Wilson will be looking for Sidney Rice, who should manage well considering the numbers Brandon Marshall put up. However, Rice has disappointed many times before, and Golden Tate, his favorite deep target, is more likely to make plays. While you're not playing him, you should note that Ben Obomanu received four targets last week and two of them were deep downfield. He's never been more than a WR3 in fantasy, but he should be on your watch list with this offense.

At some point Stafford has to get it in gear. I wouldn't start him this week, but 220 yards and a touchdown might be enough to seal the deal. Can Seattle's secondary keep Calvin Johnson from making some big plays an entire game? My guess is not at home. I'd play kickers Jason Hanson and
even Steven Hauschka, as both these teams fail to finish drives a lot.

Detroit is minus-6 in the give/take and Seattle is minus-1. Turnovers will likely decide this one, and with Wilson being the visitor, I expect his offense to crack first. With Seattle getting fewer than three points as the underdog, I'll take Detroit at home.


The Colts have lost both their games on the road and have been outscored 76-30. Donald Brown practiced fully for the Colts, and his return couldn't come at a better time. The Titans rush defense gives up 134.7 yards per game and 4.3 yards per carry. They've also allowed seven rushing touchdowns. In five games against the Titans, Brown has averaged 5.63 yards per carry, including 10.1 yards per tote in last year's matchup in Indianapolis. He finished that game with 161 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Brown wasn't as strong in Nashville last year, but did manage a touchdown, and this year is averaging over five yards per carry on the road. In fact, Brown has the only rushing touchdown this year against the Chicago Bears defense, so I like this matchup here for him. He should get a minimum 12-15 carries for nearly 70 yards and a score. He also could provide some receptions as well.

While Andrew Luck has been tolerable at home, he's been abysmal on the road, completing barely 51 percent of his passes while throwing five interceptions against one touchdown. Reggie Wayne has been his best target, and the Titans have given up an average of 21.6 points against wide receivers. Wayne is a strong play on Sunday. Tight end Coby Fleener has yet to score his first NFL touchdown, but this is the week to plug him in. The Titans are the worst at yielding fantasy points to opposing tight ends, allowing them to score 13.4 on average. Eight of their 16 passing touchdowns allowed went to tight ends.

On the flip side of things, RB Chris Johnson has been terrible at home, averaging just 2.7 yards per carry this year, and for his career against Indianapolis has managed just 3.67 yards per tally in seven games. He's coming off his best game of the season against the Bills, and now gets a match-up against a Colts defense giving up 4.8 yards per carry. The Colts have improved their pass defense, making Matt Hasselbeck's job more difficult. Though they've given up 12 passing touchdowns, they're ranked seventh in terms of yards, giving up 211 per game. Yet if there's one receiver that seems to get a boost with him behind center it's Nate Washington. The last three games Washington was targeted 17 times. For the month of October, he has 13 receptions for 146 yards and a score. That's a huge increase in targets from the 18 total he received in the first four games.

I expect Chris Johnson will get his share of carries, but his numbers won't be fantastic. Expect 85 yards and a touchdown at best. Instead, Matt Hasselbeck will target Washington and Britt often, relegating Kendall Wright back to a slot receiver and chain mover. Expect Washington and Britt to be solid plays, and Hasselbeck to deliver two touchdown strikes. Though last year TE Jared Cook had a tremendous nine reception, 103 yard showing he's likely to struggle against the Colts new 3-4 that has yielded the fewest fantasy point for tight ends.

Andrew Luck hasn't yet taken that next step in his development to assume he can win this divisional matchup, even against a Titans defense yielding 238 points so far. However, the Titans won't be able to stop Reggie Wayne or Donnie Avery, and a newly healthy Donald Brown might deliver his best game of the season. With 3.5 points I'm taking Indianapolis to cover.


The RGIII show comes to Heinz field where the NFL's second rated defense in awaits. As I mentioned Tuesday, RB Alfred Morris has my vote as ROTY so far, and he's the kind of runner the Steelers have trouble with. He's big and physical, and with the Steelers front seven giving up 4.1 yards per carry, expect Morris to gain chunks of yards finishing with just under 100 on the day. Where Robert Griffin III will have to be successful is in protecting the football. Mike Shanahan knows the Steelers well, and the likelihood is with the mobile Griffin, they'll try to spread the Steelers out and take advantage of Griffins legs on draws and mismatches on defense. Santana Moss has filled in at the WR1 spot admirably for Pierre Garcon, who announced this week he has a torn ligament in his foot. With Garcon ailing, Leonard Hankerson will be the 'Skins deep threat. Hankerson will likely be the responsibility of CB Ike Taylor, the Steelers tallest and most physical corner. Don't expect a ton from him if Taylor's on his game. The Steelers are the second best pass defense in terms of yards at 185 per game but they do give up points, particularly late in games. RGIII should be penciled in for 180 yards passing and 65 yards rushing for the day. I expect though he'll give you a combination of three touchdowns.

For the Steelers, the return of Jonathan Dwyer from his turf toe injury couldn't have come at a better time. Dwyer fits the mold of Jerome Bettis, a big man who can deliver contact but has quick feet and good acceleration. They'll also mix in Chris Rainey, who showed his what his 4.4 speed can do if there's a place to run. The Redskins worst ranked secondary is their biggest concern here, as the Steelers weapons of Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and TE Heath Miller are each likely to each get targets in this game. Ben Roethlisberger has yet to attempt fewer than 30 passes in a game so expect sizable numbers from him this week. His top target Brown will get 8-10 catches for nearly 100 yards. However, even with his spate of recent drops, it's Wallace that poses a tremendous threat to the secondary, particularly after we all saw Victor Cruz blaze past them during an obvious passing situation. Wallace is in for a big game Sunday. Expect 120 yards and a touchdown. You're starting Heath Miller as well, as the Redskins not only give up the most fantasy points to opposing WRs, they give up second most to opposing TEs.

This game will simply come down to how much of a difference Griffin can make on third downs. The Steelers are ranked tops in the league in third down conversions, while the Redskins are ranked 29th. The Steelers will attempt to clog up the running lanes and try to force long third downs for this team. If the Redskins can't get their defense off the field, the Steelers will be able to do with them as they please. With the return of Center Maurkice Pouncey, the Steelers will get gain some rushing yardage, and should be able to stay undefeated at home.


The Jets escaped this Miami team in Week 3 when Dan Carpenter sent a 48-yard field goal wide in overtime, leaving the Jets great field position to get one of their own. One would think that after keeping pace with Patriots, that playing Dolphins in late autumn in the Meadowlands would favor the Jets in a big way. Well, in recent years, the Dolphins have been weather immune, winning the last three meetings between the two, and all happening in November or later. That's good news is a cold front is expected to move into the area, and the possibility of snow exists this weekend.

The Dolphins are winners of two straight, and QB Ryan Tannehill is actually doing more by doing less. What I mean by that is in recent weeks he has less attempts, a better completion percentage and less turnovers. In fact, he hasn't been intercepted in his past two games while throwing for two scores. With the war of words that has gone on between these two teams, expect a now healthy Reggie Bush back to mid-season form and ready to go. It was against the Jets that Bush hurt his knee after posting 10 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown. He'll be given a greater sum of the carries here, and I like Bush for 120 rushing yards and a couple of touchdowns against a Jets defense yielding 4.6 per carry and 147 yards per game. While the Jets shut down receivers to the tune of just 13.7 fantasy points, they are third worst against opposing tight ends. Anthony Fasano had five catches in their first matchup, and I'd expect Miami to attack the Jets' middle again, making Fasano a good fill-in this week. As for the Dolphins receivers, don't expect much from Brian Hartline, who went target-less last week. He'll have a tough match-up with Antonio Cromartie on him. Davone Bess is second on the team with 47 targets, and he'll like have the best match-up here, but it won't matter because the dirty work is going to be done in the trenches.

Mark Sanchez has played better of late, and this week he'll have a healthy Dustin Keller. Keller's a must start here, as he was targeted seven times for seven catches and a touchdown against New England. Miami's pass defense isn't much better, and Keller is a likely difference maker in this one. The Dolphins have been plagued by big plays with three touchdown passes against them for longer than 40 yards. Jeremy Kerley will test Miami's secondary again, and should put up 5-6 catches for 70 yards. Shonn Greene fared lousy against the Dolphins rush defense last meeting. Now ranked fourth and giving up 3.3 yards per carry, the Dolphins run defense is good enough to where they don't have to load the box to stop Greene. In fairness to Greene, he's a much better runner on the Meadowlands turf, averaging almost one and one-half yards better per carry there. He'll get 65 yards, plus a few receptions.

Linebacker Bart Scott is the heart of this defense. He'll miss this week, leaving Bush and Daniel Thomas to carry 27-30 times between them. The Dolphins will take this one down to wire and pull it out in the end. I'm willing to take Miami and the 2.5 points.



After seeing what Miami's RB Reggie Bush did to Oakland's rushing defense in Week 2, it seemed this would be another year where Oakland simply couldn't stop anybody. However, besides their lopsided loss the Denver, the Raiders haven't given up more than 54 total rushing yards in their other three games. Granted, part of that is going up against teams with subpar offensive lines (Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Jacksonville). And even though the Chiefs are solid up front when it comes to running the football, with Brady Quinn now behind center, you can bet Oakland will stack the box to keep RBs Jamaal Charles, Shaun Draughn and Peyton Hillis (probable) from beating them. That means Quinn is going to have to prove that he can indeed be a starting QB in this league. Brian Daboll will likely try to build Quinn's confidence. Expect a lot of early screens to Charles and another appearance by TE Steve Maneri, who led all Chiefs receivers two weeks ago in their blowout loss at Tampa Bay. The Raiders' pass defense is ranked 22nd, but I'm not even interested in Dwayne Bowe at this point until I see that Quinn can anticipate throws better and not be so gunshy. Charles is the only fantasy start here, and he'll likely get you 120 all-purpose yards.

For Oakland, a hot-handed Carson Palmer gets the likes of the Chiefs 15th ranked defense, which though tough on yards against, has been compromised by their own offense's turnover woes. It was against the Chiefs last year that Darren McFadden went down with his foot injury and didn't return. However, in the six games against the Chiefs where he has played, McFadden owns a 5.02 YPC with 363 yards on 63 carries. His health issues aside, this should be a solid match-up for McFadden, even on the road. The Chiefs are giving up 122 rushing yards per game and 4.7 per carry. While Palmer might want to look for Denarius Moore, my guess is the Chiefs will see him as the biggest threat and match Brandon Flowers against him as much as possible. That could mean more targets for Darius Heyward-Bey, who had seven targets against Jacksonville. He'll get another 6-7 here and I expect 75-80 yards. 

The Chiefs have broken the 20 point barrier on offense just once this year. The Raiders have scored over twenty points in three of their last four games. Call me Quinn-skeptical, but the turnovers are there for the Raiders taking, and Oakland will do enough to get Sebastian Janikowski his share of opportunities to squeak this one out.


Tanner is likely to get his first start
The Giants have had the Cowboys number in Arlington, and after Jerry Jones' boys stole one from New York opening week, you can bet they'll be set to get their revenge. In the first game of the season, the Dallas defense sacked Eli Manning three times, and held him to one touchdown pass. Ahmad Bradshaw managed 78 rushing yards and a touchdown, but the rest of Manning's receivers were held in check, with Victor Cruz topping out with six grabs and 58 yards. Since that time, Manning has been sacked just three more times, Victor Cruz is fifth overall in the NFL for receiving yards (second best fantasy WR), and Ahmad Bradshaw has gotten himself injured again.

With DeMarco Murray still healing and Felix Jones questionable again, proving he's not an every down back, Philip Tanner gets the opportunity to start for Dallas. Though the Cowboys tend to give up on their running game, Tanner won't be sharing many of his carries, and that should provide him an opportunity to get between 17-20 totes. However, the Cowboys will likely attack the banged up secondary of New York, which is ranked 21st against the pass having yielded 10 passing touchdowns. Tony Romo has been a fantasy owner's dream against the Giants, with his recent worst outing coming last year in New York where he threw for 289 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He's in your starting lineup this week as a potential 300-yard hurler. Miles Austin has scored in four of their last five meetings, so expect Romo to keep looking his way this week. Jason Witten has been completely uneven against the Giants, putting up one solid game per season. He wasn't healthy Week One, but I still don't like him here. Besides the fact the Giants pass rush has added seven sacks in the last two weeks, they are giving up just 4.6 fantasy points on average to opposing tight ends. Dez Bryant is the wild card here, and you probably can't bench him, but he's just not reliable week to week yet.

The Giants continue to be road warriors. Besides Philadelphia, they dismantled the 49ers top rated defense, and have clobbered just about everyone else. Their passing game is ranked third, and they're protecting Eli's back to the tune of less than one sack per game. Even without Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants have Andre Brown and speedster David Wilson to carry the load. Expect Manning to again throw on early downs to shorten the distances into manageable increments where their playbook can be opened. Then watch Hakeem Nicks pop off several big plays and have his best day of the season. Tom Coughlin and Kevin Gilbride will use the run, and if it works, they're not afraid to go back to it over and over. The Cowboys lack of pass rush will hurt them in this game, and if they can't slow Manning down, the Giants will turn the game over to their runners and pound away like they did in San Francisco. 

For all his trials, Tony Romo still has a ton of weapons surrounding him. The Giants nearly blew one to the Redskins at home a week ago because of Manning's uneven play. The Cowboys will get a pick or two off of Manning, and I see Philip Tanner posting decent enough numbers to give Romo some leeway to beat the Giants and sweep the season series.



This game actually feels a lot less like a shootout and more like a blowout. The Saints are 2-7 overall versus the Broncos and have won only once in the Mile High City. Last time these two teams met was 2008 and the Broncos, led by Jay Cutler, handed Drew Brees a tough 34-32 loss.

This year, the Saints offense isn't so much the problem. Defensively, the Saints have allowed 20 touchdowns and 182 points. They've been equally bad against the run and pass, yielding 465 yards per game on average. Against Peyton Manning, who has the Broncos offense now ranked sixth, fourth in the passing department, the Saints are staring at an opponent with enough firepower to keep up with them, and a defense that can stop them.

Two things could change the outcome for the Saints. First, they need a win badly. At 2-4 they're staring down the barrel of a virtual gun and their schedule doesn't get any easier. Second, the Broncos have fumbled the ball nine times and lost all nine, and along with four interceptions have 13 turnovers that have resulted in 36 points.

Colston is again atop fantasy WRs
The Broncos goal is to keep their defense rested, force a few turnovers and sustain time of possession through a mix of passes and runs. Willis McGahee has only carried the ball more than 20 times in a game once this season. Expect him to get another 17-20 carries here, and you can bank on some fruitful runs for a 100-yard performance. That will leave Manning to work play action and use all his receivers. Every Denver receiver should have value this week, including a healthy Brandon Stokley, who now has three touchdowns and 216 yards.

For the Saints, their 32nd ranked rushing attack will struggle in Denver. Drew Brees will throw a lot, so don't be surprised to see 40 attempts and 300 plus yards through the air. Jimmy Graham is questionable on his bad ankle and will likely be a game time decision. If he plays, we've seen the Broncos give up scores to Heath Miller, Tony Gonzalez, Owen Daniels and two to Antonio Gates. He's a top TE play if he's healthy. Marques Colston has seen his numbers take off in his past three games. He has dominated the fantasy landscape, finishing twice in the top five with 25 catches on 41 targets for 327 yards and five scores. He and Lance Moore both have a shot at over 100 receiving yards. You can also start Darren Sproles, who is bound to be used on key third downs and for screens to take advantage of Sproles speed.

This game just feels like the one-dimensional passing offense of the Saints will get them into trouble. Sooner or later, the opportunistic veteran secondary of Denver will force a mistake or two, and that will be enough for the Broncos to cover.



In 2011, the 10-2 49ers marched into cool Phoenix desert expecting to return home with their 11th win. What they got instead was a shocking 21-19 defeat at the hands of a 5-7 Cardinals team.

It was John Skelton who threw three touchdown passes in that game, and it was the third in a string of six straight wins to finish off the season. Skelton is set to start for the Cardinals again, but this time the 49ers are the best defense in the NFL. Skelton's 55.4 percent completion rate should give fantasy owners pause, especially since it's combined with just one TD pass versus three interceptions. You can't bench WR Larry Fitzgerald, as he has 11 career touchdown catches against San Francisco, scoring in three of the last four. Even with the 49ers pass defense giving up just 173 yards per game and six receiving touchdowns, Fitzgerald's just too good to consider sitting him here. While teams like the Giants have put up decent rushing numbers against San Francisco, Arizona's offensive line is nothing close to New York's. LaRod Stephens-Howling appears to be in line for the most carries but he's likely to finish outside the top 20 runners in fantasy this week. Andre Roberts, the beneficiary of Skelton's lone TD pass this season, isn't much more than a yardage play this week.

The 49ers are going to pound RB Frank Gore into this unit as much as possible, in order to keep control of the tempo. He should be good for 22-25 carries and well over 100 yards. The 49ers defensive unit, which surprisingly has just 11 sacks, is about to augment its total and is a strong D/ST play this week. Don't expect a lot from Alex Smith or his wide receivers this week. This should be a low scoring affair much like San Francisco's grinder against Seattle. The difference will be the tattered offensive front of Arizona allowing too many 49ers linebackers to terrorize Skelton.

Expect 185 passing yards from Smith, most of which will go to Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. Davis will be good for a short TD as well, and the 49ers will take revenge on last year's let down.


Thursday, October 25, 2012



Momentum can shift in a second.  When OT Donald Penn got into it with Vikings DE Jared Allen, it appeared to be a turning point in the game.  You could feel the Minnesota faithful exhale a collective breath with a deafening scream.  Allen and his bloody nose sacked Josh Freeman and held firm.  After that, they came up with two second half stops to give their team a chance to get back in the game.  But as much as momentum can change things, sometimes it occurs too late.  The doggedly stubborn Buccaneers refused to let this one out of their hands. Doug Martin had a career game, putting up over 200 total yards and two scores.  Josh Freeman threw for three touchdown passes and had no turnovers, and Tampa Bay rode their streak to six straight wins over the Vikings.  Vincent Jackson hardly factored in the game, with two catches for 40 yards, though one was a very big third down conversion after that scuffle between Penn and Allen.   As for Minnesota, the turnover fest continues.  Two first half fumbles, one by Adrian Peterson, and one by WR Jerome Simpson, were enough to boost Tampa Bay’s confidence, and add 10 more points to the Buccaneers tally.  The Vikings offense is struggling big time.  Their first four drives were three plays and out and they added three more drives of just three plays in the second half.  Two of their possessions that exceeded three plays ended up in turnovers, just before any sort of rhythm could be established.  Though Peterson fumbled, he really was the lone highlight, becoming just the second runner to exceed 100 yards against the Buccaneers defense this year.  Christian Ponder was pressured most of the night, and garnered most of his yards when the game was out of hand.  
 Ponder is likely to see more time on your bench.
The suddenly offensive Buccaneers have the likes of Oakland, Carolina and San Diego in their sites, making players on this offense worth targeting.  The Vikings have three of their next five games against top rated defenses Seattle and Chicago twice.   Guess which defense is ranked 11th in overall fantasy points?   That’s right, the Bears, scoring more points than every position player but nine quarterbacks and Arian Foster.  It doesn’t bode well for Peterson or Harvin, but even less so for Ponder.  Continue to keep him on your bench for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


 On a short week, who would you rather have; a quarterback coming off a career day and a loss, or a quarterback who had his worst day and won?  That’s the conundrum of Thursday night’s matchup as Greg Schiano’s Buccaneers head into Minnesota to face Leslie Frazier’s Vikings. The Buccaneers have blown leads in four of their six games, leading to their current 2-4 record.  The Vikings have led and closed all but one of their five wins.  The passing offense of the Bucs, ranked 29th just two short weeks ago, is now ranked 15th, thanks in largest part to free-agent signee Vincent Jackson.  The last three weeks have been a banquet for Jackson owners as he's delivered 382 yards receiving and five touchdowns.  Josh Freeman enters Thursday’s game coming off a career day throwing for 420 yards and three touchdowns, averaging over 10 yards per attempt. The Vikings passing offense, ranked 24th two weeks ago is on a downward trajectory, now ranked 27th, with their average pass attempt dropping to 6.27 yards.  Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, who spent the first four games protecting the football has thrown six interceptions in the last three weeks against five touchdowns.  He4 has seen his QB rating plummet from numbers in the hundreds to last week's season-worst game rating of 35.  Vikings WR Percy Harvin leads the NFL in all purpose yards, and leads the NFC in receiving yards with 577. 
Adrian Peterson is a key match-up against the Buccaneers now third-rated run defense.  It’s no surprise that Peterson averages 4.8 yards per carry and the Vikings as a team manage 4.5.  No surprise either that when Peterson eclipses the 20 carry mark as he’s done three times this year, Minnesota is 3-0.  It didn’t hurt Tampa Bay run defense that they got a whole pass (pun intended) on the rushing attack by facing the Saints, but even prior to that game they were yielding just 3.1 yards per carry, the lowest average in the NFL.  They’re also stuffing runs at an astounding 22 percent.  The Bucs have allowed just one runner, Alfred Morris to top the 100-yard mark in a game.  Peterson looked the fastest he’s been all season last week against Arizona, and expect that he’ll get 17-18 carries here.  However, taper the yardage totals to 110 all-purpose yards, with 85 rushing and a score.
Vincent Jackson has struggled against the
Vikings in the past.
However, it is Christian Ponder that has to play much better against the Tampa Bay 31st ranked pass defense.  Ponder still holds a 67 percent completion rate and is facing a defense that allows teams to score on 62 percent of their drives.  It's very possible this is one case where the Vikings offense attacks aerially in order to loosen up the tackle box for Peterson.  That means Harvin will again see lots of action and is a top play, and I'd consider both Michael Jenkins and Jerome Simpson.  Tampa Bay has allowed receivers to average 28.3 fantasy points against them, fourth worst in the league.  Simpson is fighting through foot and back injuries, so while this is a favorable matchup, I'd look more for Jenkins to have an impact here.  Tight end Kyle Rudolph should get some good yardage, but is an unlikely end zone target this week.
For the Bucs, Doug Martin faces a stiff test, as Minnesota has allowed just three rushing touchdowns to running backs, and last week's score by LaRod Stephens-Howling was their first given up in the last five contests.  A lot of this game will be on Josh Freeman's shoulders.  Call me crazy as Freeman has completed just 45 percent of his passes on the road along with a 3:3 TD/INT ratio, tbut he deep threat this offense poses a true chance at an upset.  With DE Jared Allen limited in practice due to a groin injury and Freeman having been sacked just nine times, Freeman should have some time to throw.  Minnesota has allowed over 64 percent of opponents passes to reach their targets, and have given up two touchdown passes of greater than 30 yards.  Four out of the eight passing touchdowns Minnesota has allowed have gone to tight ends.  Yes, I could be beating a dead horse, but Dallas Clark comes off his best game of the season with five catches, 51 yards and a score.  He's a likely red zone target here.  Vincent Jackson will get a shot at the end zone, but against CB Antoine Winfield, who is having a career year so far, will struggle.  I don't see his numbers topping six receptions and 80 yards this week.
The Buccaneers have won the last five contests against the Vikings, including last year's 24-20 victory in Minnesota.  Ponder's recent struggles have to have the Minnesota coaching staff concerned, and it's likely Tampa Bay is going to try punch another hole in his confidence early.  Because this is a short week and Freeman has a hot hand, there's no reason to think he won't be throwing successfully against the banged up safeties of Minnesota. I see Freeman throwing for at least one touchdown pass, garnering 250 passing yards, and picking up a touchdown plunge of his own.  I think Minnesota wins this one in a close contest, but I'd take Tampa Bay and the points.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Scott Chandler showing the fans how
many catches he had Sunday.
It was the best of weeks, it was the worst of weeks.  My boldest call of the week didn’t work out.  Eli Manning for his part did throw 40 times.  He did reach 300 yards.  Unfortunately, inside the red zone, the Giants ran the football and scored twice on the ground.  Close but no cigar.  Hey, you don't get anywhere by not making a few strong predictions, and occasionally you whiff.

For this blog, the fantasy recommendations of Chris Johnson, Randall Cobb, Doug Martin, Josh Freeman, Dan Bailey along with predicting Eli Manning's 40 attempts, that Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin would score, that Cecil Shorts III was a calculated bye week play, starting Chris Givens, that Heath Miller's touchdown odds were on the money.  I said Wes Welker wasn't a strong play this week like the two tight ends.  Gronk and Hernandez had five and six catches respectively.  Gronk scored twice.  Welker ended with six for 66.  The bad was predicting Eli Manning would outscore RGIII, that Darren McFadden would bust loose, that Justin Blackmon might be worthy WR3 this weekend, that Greg Olsen was a strong start, that Dez Bryant would find the end zone, and that the Bengals would beat the Steelers.  Shonn Greene was pretty mediocre on the ground, but did get 34 receiving yards on six catches and scored a TD.  While I was worried that the Patriots running game would be shared more, Stevan Ridley was still big play I went with this week.  The Patriots carried 31 times, Ridley only got 17.  Worst, Scott Chandler disappeared in the Bills offense.   Those were three solid losses for me.  In terms of picking winners, I was 10-2.  In terms of point calls, I was 6-4 and two games ended up even.

The battle of two putrid defenses proved to be just that.  Tennessee WR Kenny Britt had 26 yards on the first drive.  He finished with 30 yards, something as baffling to me as wanting to watch this game.  The big though not surprising news is that Chris Johnson had a huge day – 195 yards rushing and two touchdowns. I've been reading other pundits say that this game shows how bad the Titans’ offensive line has been.  While that’s true, that dismisses altogether that Chris Johnson had nothing to do with it.  To ignore the aggressiveness that has gone missing from some of his runs is to ignore the player.  Unless you’re 6-1 or 5-2 in your fantasy league right now where you can afford to be a little more strategic about who you trade, you sell him high right now.  The next four weeks has Johnson going against three top five defenses.  While his final four weeks are pretty decent, Colts, Jets, Packers and Jags, let's not forget two of those matchups are divisional foes, and often the rankings get tossed because there is extra familiarity and motivation there.  My guess is you’re not holding a winning record if you drafted Chris Johnson, and you can get someone to invest him for a more consistent back in return.  Buffalo runner Fred Jackson had his best game of 2012, giving you 130 all-purpose yards and a receiving touchdown.  Of course, he did that right after I jumped his bandwagon.  Keep in mind this was the Titans, and that as the season progresses Jackson will get healthier. C.J. Spiller still received three more carries and had one less target.  Yes, you have a timeshare officially in Buffalo.

Before you go picking up Vick Ballard as a fill-in RB for your team, look at the Indianapolis' red zone offense.    The Colts had two red zone opportunities, and both saw RB Mewelde Moore as the running back behind QB Andrew Luck.  Ballard got 20 carries and turned that in 86 yards, and while Moore wasn't exactly successful putting the ball over the goal line, it does allude to the trust Bruce Arians has for his former Steeler cohort.  Josh Gordon had another touchdown catch, but on 10 targets he brought in just two receptions.  Lousy percentages, but Gordon now has four touchdowns and has scored in three straight games.  As for Trent Richardson, his rib injury was serious enough he couldn't manage a full game.  It was a killer for fantasy players, both who picked up Montario Hardesty and those who stuck by Richardson.  In deep PPR leagues Chris Ogbonnaya has become another receiver who is steady.  He has 19 receptions this year, third best on a team which is throwing more and more often.  He won't run the ball much, but he's getting three grabs a week 30 yards or six points average.  Should Richardson miss a game or two, his value may be augmented further.

This game wasn't as close as some had thought it would be.   QB Aaron Rodgers averaged 9.2 yards per attempt in the continued revival of Green Bay's big-play offense.  Alex Green's second appearance didn't go quite as planned with a 1.8 yards per carry average.  This just goes to remind you that in most cases, waiver wire replacements are on the waiver wire for a reason.  The opportunities are still there for Green until Benson returns but you have to choose the match-up wisely for it to translate into anything viable for your team.  For St. Louis, Chris Givens has leapt far and above the competition at wide receiver, providing the Rams with a credible deep threat.  He's been targeted 17 times in the past three weeks, and had six receptions and 158 yards the past two games. 

LaRod Stephens-Howling got the majority of carries and seemed to provide a spark to the offense.  He was the guy I
toted several weeks ago as the only runner in Arizona I would consider.  William Powell got his chance last week and did well, but there is speculation by Chris Harris at ESPN his opening kickoff fumble is what relegated him to the bench.  It's possible, but the question is would Whisenhunt stay with the inexperienced runner over Stephens-Howling, who was fighting injury earlier this year and has more experience.   Now Stephens-Howling is healthy, and that is more likely the reason Powell got less carries.  As for the fans of JSFLF (that’s John Skelton For Larry Fitzgerald) numbers, I supplied the increased stats for Fitzgerald when Skelton was under center, mainly because I didn't believe them myself.  The fact is they did show Fitzgerald getting an uptick – It just didn't happen against the Vikings.  Unfortunately, another seven sacks were yielded by Arizona's line, even with Stephens-Howling providing over five yards per carry.  As for Minnesota, at this point I'd recommend keeping QB Christian Ponder, but benching him right now.  He's still a developing quarterback who I believe has a bright future, but he's getting careless with the football.   Arizona is a tougher defense, and Ponder's limited weaponry makes it so you use him only against very friendly foes, or if you're other quarterback is up against an incredibly bad matchup.  Depends who it is.

When people speak of elite quarterbacks, Sunday's game is the reason people have a hard time mentioning Eli Manning in that company, even with two Super Bowl wins.  Let's be realistic, his first Super Bowl win against New England was impressive, but it wasn't Manning's throw that saved that game, it was WR David Tyree’s helmet catch.   Sunday's game reminded all of us who really thought Manning was beyond laying eggs at home, that he’s still going to be Eli Manning.  And even against one of the worst defensive backfields in the NFL up to this point, Manning will occasionally make some mind-boggling throws.  While he's still a top ten fantasy QB (he is after all leading in passing yards) he reminded all of us he is blessed with as good a group of receivers as any team in the NFL.   Even more importantly, he was sacked just once, making that just six sacks the Giants have given up for the season.  His offensive line is NFC gold, and if you're looking for a team that could take down Atlanta, it is again the Giants. 

As for Washington, Robert Griffin III has truly been amazing.  Even when he makes mistakes, and he made some crucial ones Sunday, he is resilient, something Cam Newton is now taking heat for not being.
  Santana Moss continues to be the receiver to own while Pierre Garcon is on the mend.   He won’t always be the biggest yardage gainer, but he is the most trusted hands, especially around the goal line.  Alfred Morris was hardly mentioned prior to the draft.  He was a sixth round pick out of Florida Atlantic.  Suffice it to say, Morris might be the rookie MVP of this season.   Many will point to Griffin, but without a steady running game that has credibility, Griffin’s job becomes ten times harder.  No team can afford to have their quarterback continually scramble, even as good of an athlete as Griffin is.  Losing Morris would render this offense very one-dimensional.

The key to New Orleans winning this game was simple.  While Drew Brees had had good yardage totals against Tampa Bay in the past, he often turned the ball over.  Sunday, Brees threw four touchdowns against one interception, turning the tide of previous performances in Raymond James Stadium.  Wide receiver Lance Moore met my expectations but did everything but find the end zone.   For Tampa Bay, Vincent Jackson delivered what might have been his career best performance.  He caught seven of 14 passes throw his way for 216 yards and a score.  That made him not only the best fantasy receiver of the week, but the best NFL receiver of the week period.  Admittedly, having watched Jackson now for years, I have always felt he was overrated, that he’s always been a 50-catch receiver with higher ceiling potential, but that his attitude had limited his talents.  He’s still catching fewer than 50 percent of the balls thrown his way (27 of 60), which really for a top receiver is inconceivable.  However, he has given Tampa Bay a more consistent downfield presence then they’ve had in a long while and he’s been worth his contract.  He almost was the difference maker on Sunday.

I’ve written about it before.  So have others.  It’s really unbelievable that the Panthers paid RBs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams over $14 million together and have only giving them a total of 85 carries in six games.  There are 20 running backs in the NFL which currently have more than 85 attempts on their own.  Then, in the off-season the Panthers added Mike Tolbert for another $2.7 million instead of someone like Vincent Jackson who might have given Newton an outlet besides the aging Steve Smith.  It’s a simple question of managing the resources you invested in, and Ron Rivera and his staff clearly prefer to throw the football.  This is why GM Marty Hurney found himself without a job Monday.  Felix Jones received 15 carries but only managed 2.9 yards per carry.  He did add five catches for 30 yards, making him a better PPR candidate than standard league runner.  Philip Tanner didn’t do much better, though at least the two shared 28 carries. 

If Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback then we are going to have to redefine our terms.  Flacco’s numbers in September were that of an elite QB.  He completed 63.5 percent of his passes with an 8.14 average attempt and had a 7:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio.  But being elite is more than a month of great numbers.  It’s winning big games, and while New England was a huge victory, it turned out that New England wasn’t as strong as we once thought.  October has seen Flacco’s number correct to a 53 percent completion rate, a 5.92 average pass attempt and two touchdowns versus three interceptions.   Perhaps most impressive was his counter-part Matt Schaub.  While it seemed apparent that Arian Foster would deliver a solid day, Schaub picked up more than his fair share of the slack.  He completed 23-of-37 for 256 yards and two touchdowns.  Schaub has a pretty favorable schedule coming up, with his toughest test coming against Chicago in Soldier Field November 11.  The Houston offense this year still advances behind the running game, but Schaub is having a stronger season than just a game manager.


Three plays.  This was the difference between an upset and a loss.  The Jets got a huge turnover, forcing Darren McCourty to fumble on a kick return, setting them up with 2:01 left on the New England 18.  This was when Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano decided to get cute.  The Jets brought in Tim Tebow, and ran, then gave Joe McKnight a run, then on third and long had to pass.  Mark Sanchez was sacked; obviously a result of the coverage sitting back on a pass play, and the Jets almost blew tying the game.  If you're a Jets fan, you blinked and thought you were watching the way Pittsburgh has played in that situation – for a safe field goal.  Playing for a safe field goal versus the Patriots is like spending hours deer hunting and then coming across a prize-winning buck and letting him saunter off (I’m not a hunter, but hey, good analogy).  This series of plays cost the Jets the game. 
Observation one:  why bring in Tim Tebow if you're not going to use him for what he can give you – an option, a roll out, something different than a straight up QB draw?  Two:  Why was Joe McKnight out there in crunch time?  If you're standing behind Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene as Rex Ryan has, why during the most crucial point was your starting QB and RB on the sidelines to start this drive.  Why weren't you throwing against the weak New England secondary?  Hindsight is always 20-20 I know, but who didn't watch that series and have to refasten their chin to their face. 

It's hard to know why, but Shane Vereen started this game at running back for New England.  Vereen is a smaller shiftier back than Ridley, who forces more of a power running game.  Considering Vereen saw zero snaps against the Seahawks and Stevan Ridley was nowhere to be found on the injury report, this seems like another Bill Belichick move just meant to mix up defenses.  Not sure this one worked.

As if Jacksonville had anything positive going its way after scoring 13 points in the last two games, the Jags lost both their quarterback and running back for the foreseeable future.  Blaine Gabbert has a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder.  That means surgery is likely at some point.  Maurice Jones-Drew’s foot injury is the wound most of us worried about and a lot of us figured would have happened earlier.  MJD has always been questioned as an every down back because of his size, but remember, this year he was coming off the most carries of his career, 343.  There has been significant connective tissue to runners with that many carries and an injury soon after.  Now, to be fair, this is football, and accidents happen.  This writer does not think this injury was the result of wear and tear.  Instead, it’s an odds game, and the more carries a runner gets, the closer he gets to the one where something goes wrong.  In MJD’s case, it was number 86.  Strange enough, this was Blaine Gabbert’s best game up until the injury.  He had just 12 pass attempts, but had completed eight of them, for 102 yards and a touchdown.  He was averaging almost four more yards per pass than his season average of 5.5.  Not too many people would have argued prior to Sunday that it was possible Chad Henne was a better prospect as a QB.  He looked rusty Sunday.  Now it appears that he’ll get a chance to lead this offense, with Rashard Jennings behind him.  Jennings will be among the hottest waiver wire grabs this week.  He’s definitely worth an add right away.

Jonathan Dwyer reprised a role he played against Tennessee last October.  In a big divisional meeting against the Bengals, Dwyer delivered 7.2 yards per carry average for 122 yards on 17 carries.  Left Guard Willie Colon has struggled in pass blocking assignments.  However, on Sunday he was not only productive, but was a viciously aggressive run blocker.  He was a high point in the Steelers rushing attack, paving the way not only for Dwyer, but for Chris Rainey, who gashed the Cincinnati line for the go-ahead touchdown.  Mike Wallace had his second week in a row of dropped balls, but this week he nearly cost Pittsburgh the game.  However, the most surprising development was that CB Ike Taylor contained WR A. J. Green, probably because I predicted Taylor would get eaten alive.  Remember the two games Taylor had this year and last against Bronco’s wide receiver Demaryius Thomas?  Remember last week’s outing against Kenny Britt?  Both are not quite at the level of Green, and yet Green managed one catch for eight yards and a touchdown.  Second year man Ryan Whalen led all Bengals receivers with four receptions for 31 yards. Whether he’ll replace the injured Armon Binns temporarily, and whether he holds future promise in this offense remains to be seen.  But he now is worth monitoring, especially in deep leagues.


Two fumbles by the Detroit runners inside their opponent’s 20 yard line against a defense like Chicago’s will cost you a football game.  The Lions learned that Monday night.  The Bears defense caused six fumbles total, and recovered three, but none were more important than the two red zone fumbles they took away.  For the game, Detroit’s runners Joique Bell and Mikel Leshoure both averaged over four yards per carry but for some reason only got 15 carries between them.  Titus Young led all Detroit receivers, but most of his yardage came in the last few minutes when the game was hardly in question, and struggling to get anything of any real threat going.  Meanwhile, for the second time in three games Calvin Johnson was held to under 60 yards receiving. He has one touchdown on the year, and as the first receiver off the fantasy board, has been a minor disaster for your fantasy season.  There are 10 games left and at this pace Johnson would end the season with maybe three touchdowns.  Johnson is on his way to another 80 catch season and nearly 1500 yards.  You can’t bench him.  You can’t really trade him because his contribution down the stretch could still be a huge factor in your season.  This goes to a point I used to make all the time, which is the person who scores the touchdown is very random.  Yes, in the case of receivers like Johnson, the odds are greater because we know he’ll get more chances to score.  In most cases, the play that is called which results in the score is often determined by strategy, not by the player.  And thus, when you do your research for fantasy drafts and rank your players, estimating TDs is at best, a dubious task.  As for Titus Young, how annoying is it to see a receiver catching the ball at the most crucial and harried time of the game and celebrate his first downs.  Now Young becomes crucial because Nate Burleson suffered a broken leg, and Young is in line for those receptions.  The kid’s got talent but you have to worry about where his head is cause it sure isn’t on football.