Monday Morning Takeaway – Week 5

Monday Morning Takeaway – Week 5

 By, Eric Hartvigson


Arizona 3, St. Louis 17

Cardinals

It would be safe to say the overwhelming theme for the Cardinals was horrible offensive line play. This has become a reoccurring theme as Kevin Kolb was sacked eight times in week four and nine times in this game. I read a stat that Kolb was hit on 52% of the Cards offensive plays. A popular addition in many leagues last week, Kolb’s fantasy value is more along the lines of a mid QB2 as a desperation spot starter.

Speaking of the Arizona passing game, another popular sleeper in recent weeks has been Andre Roberts. Thursday night Roberts had the worst fantasy performance of the 2012 season. However, the astute fantasy owner will recognize his 10 targets, including a badly overthrown ball that would have resulted in a sure fire touchdown.  Roberts remains a mid WR3.

Ryan Williams has officially taken control of the Zona backfield with the continued absence of Beanie Wells. If heart dictated fantasy production, Williams would be an every week starter. However, he doesn’t posses the raw talent to make defenders miss or the strength to gut out tough yardage. Further compounding Williams problems is the terrible o-line play. Williams also suffered a mysterious shoulder injury forcing him to exit this matchup. Even with the 27th ranked Bills rush defense up next, the second year tailback is only a high end RB3.

Rams

Nothing is more devastating to a fantasy team than injury, and guess who reared her ugly head on Thursday Night? Danny Amendola went down hard on his right shoulder causing “joint separation” with a projected recovery time table of 6-8 weeks. This puts Amendola on track to return week 12 against San Francisco. We should further note this is Amendola’s second straight season with a significant injury meaning he is a “red flag” in future seasons. As for the here and now, if you have the room on your roster he’s worth holding on to, but if you get desperate I wouldn’t fault you for dropping him. We’ll be watching which, if any, of the Rams alternate wide receivers step up.

As a Steven Jackson owner I kick myself for drafting him, then I wonder where that old Jeff Fischer 3-down running back has gone, ala Eddie George and Chris Johnson. For long stretches of this game the less effective Daryl Richardson was taking carries, including goal line packages. Very tough to sit, but with a brutal schedule and limited touches S-Jax owners are in for a long season.

The final position of note from Thursday night was the Rams defense. Over the past couple of years they’ve put considerable resources into this unit including; James Laurinaitis, Chris Long, Robert Quinn and Cortland Finnegan. The NFC West is slowly becoming the new Black and Blue division. The Rams are an excellent spot start next week against Miami, but don’t be so fast to drop your current defense. After that it’s the Packers (week 6), Patriots (week7) and their bye (week 8).

 

Miami 17, Cincinnati 13

Dolphins

Although his fantasy production won’t reflect it, the maturation of Ryan Tannahill is more and more evident with each passing week. Still void of real fantasy value, his progress should provide comfort for owners of Brian Hartline.

Speaking of Hartline, coming off his record setting game last week, he finished 59 yards on only five targets. Be informed this game was more a product of circumstance than performance as the Dolphins leaned heavily on their rushing attack. Hartline is a low end WR3 with the 4th ranked Rams pass defense upcoming.

Reggie Bush looks to be stuck in a running back rotation Daniel Thomas. Bush still managed a solid outing with 72 total yards including a 13 yard scamper into the endzone. However, Bush is losing goal line looks to his much bigger running mate, as it now appears his touchdowns will need to come from outside the 10 yard line.  His stature as a weekly must start is waning slightly.

Bengals

The running game of the Bengals is oddly reminiscent of last season as Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis found little running room between the tackles. Before jumping to a conclusion we must remind ourselves the Fins were the number one ranked rush defense in terms of rushing yards allowed entering this game. The Law Firm is a mid RB2 facing Cleveland next week.

Bengals emerging wide receiver Andrew Hawkins saw an astounding 13 targets including a red zone look becoming an integral piece of Cinncy’s passing game. Hawkins targets have been all over the board .However, the trend I’ve come to recognize is when the Bengals face a stiff rushing defense Hawkins becomes an extension of the running game, as evident week one against the Ravens. Up next is Browns meaning Hawkins should be returned to our bench.

 

Indianapolis 30, Green Bay 27

Colts

Like many teams on this day, the Colts offense got off to a slow start falling behind 21-3 at the halftime intermission. Andrew Luck turned up his game finishing with 362 yards passing and two touchdowns. Luck’s talent is overly impressive as the rookie remains a borderline QB1.

Donald Brown’s solid fantasy season continued averaging 4.9 yards per carry on 17 carries. As one of the few 3-down running backs in the NFL, Brown has starter value in the mid RB2 range.

Through four games (Colts had a bye week 4) Reggie Wayne is the most target wide receiver in football.  The number two option on this team is a grey area as both Donnie Avery and TY Hilton were targeted eight and nine respectively. Avery had a long toss just barely overthrown on what would have been a sure fire touchdown. Gun to my head, I’d start Avery over Hilton.

Packers

The Packers came to play opening up their passing attack leading to Aaron Rodgers 243 yards and three touchdowns.

A beneficiary was wide receiver Randell Cobb catching all 4 of his targets equalling 82 yards while scoring his first touchdown of the season. Cobb has value so long as Jennings is absent, but more along the lines of a high end WR4.

The other Packers wide receiver to take advantage was James Jones leading the team with seven targets, two of which ended in touchdowns. Like Cobb, so long as Jennings is ailing Jones will solid fantasy value as a high end WR3.

Although it didn’t look all that bad Cedric Benson left the game on a cart after getting his ankle rolled up. With James Starks still recovering from a turf toe injury, it was second year man Alex Green taking nine carries for 55 yards. As a potential starter, Green will be a coveted waiver addition this week, and rightfully so. His value will be predicated upon Benson’s recovery period.

 

Baltimore 9, Kansas City 6

Ravens

Damn the Ravens are puzzling. They open the season with a no huddle offense blowing the doors off the Bengals. Then they hibernate against the Eagles only to punch the throttle against the Patriots and Browns. Now we get this stinker against in what should have been a plus matchup.

Joe Flacco led the suck fest with 187 yards and zero touchdowns. A complete lack of consistency should have Flacco owners befuddled what to do with the low end QB1. With two tough matchups against the Cowboys and Texans, followed with a bye week, I be looking for better options.

Anquan Boldin put together a decent day targeted a team high 10 times, but only hauling in 4 balls for 82 yards.

Chiefs

In case you didn’t know the Chiefs are a running team. In this game they made a valiant attempt at run the wheels off Jamal Charles totaling 33 touches for 161 yards. Backup Shuan Droughn even got in the mix with 12 carries for 40 yards. In fact, third stringer Cyrus Grey finished with 4 attempts. With a purely run based offense Charles is must start every week (if you didn’t already know).

With so many rushing yards it was a long day for the Kansas City passing game as Dwayne Bowe put together a relatively quiet 60 yards. He did have a touchdown called back on routine a “rub route” that was actually called. He has the beatable Buccaneers up next making Bowe a lineup lock.

KC fans were calling for the head of quarterback Matt Cassell, but were helped out he was sandwiched between two Ravens defenders causing him to leave the game. As a Bowe owner myself, I prefer seeing Cassell under center because he always looks for the big man in times of desperation.

 

Celveland 27, New York 41

Browns

The Browns came out with their hair on fire scoring 14 quick points as Trent Richardson rumbled in 15 yard touchdown complimented on the next drive with Brandon Weeden connecting with Josh Gordon for a 62 yard bomb for a score. Cleveland would then go on a long dry spell before Gordon caught another touchdown in the final minutes.

With Greg Little plagued by drops, our Browns wide receiver watch now turns to Gordon finishing with eight targets. On the upside he caught two touchdowns (as mentioned above), on the downside he only caught two balls the whole game. As the box score would suggest it was actually Jordan Norwood leading the team with nine targets, catching every ball for 81 yards. Gordon is a deep flyer on the waiver watch, but remains a WR5 until he can string together multiple productive games.

Giants

Ahmad Bradshaw owners were heavily rewarded after a monster game including 34 touches for 229 yards. We should note Andre Brown left this game very early due to a concussion. The Giants have made it clear they will “lean with the hot hand” as Bradshaw could probably melt steel after this performance.

Two weeks ago we saw the emergence of Ramses Barden. Last week Domenik Hixon exploded onto the scene. The rotation of Giants secondary wide receiver landed on rookie Rueben Randle this week with a team high nine targets, six receptions for 82 yards. This newest development makes it nearly impossible to trust any Giants wide recever beyond Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks (when he returns).

 

 

Philadelphia 14, Pittsburgh 16

Eagles

This game was a bit of a defensive grudge match as indicated by Michael Vick’s 175 yard two touchdown performance. After that, there really isn’t anything new to report from Philadelphia.

Steelers

Although we witnessed a steady rotation of running backs early in the game, it’s obvious that Rashard Mendenhall is the premier player in the Steelers backfield. Although Pittsburgh claimed they would ease their lead back into this game after recovering from offseason knee surgery, Mendenhall saw 16 touches for 101 yards a touchdown. This is clearly Mendehall’s job moving forward as Isaac Redman is purely handcuff material.

Most devastating news for the Steelers was injuries to key defensive players Troy Polamalu and Lamarr Woodley. Still to early to read any indication as to the extent of the injury, owner of the Steel Curtain defense should be monitoring closely.

 

Atlanta 17, Washington 24

Falcons

Like so many teams the red hot Atlanta offense opened the game at snail’s pace. But holding the Falcons down is like wrestling a honey badger. Down 7-10, Matty Ice dialed up the passing game as it was the usual suspects on the receiving end including; Tony Gonzalez, Julio Jones and Roddy White).

Michael Turner also had himself another solid performance rumbling off 67 yards and a touchdown. Tuner has one of the leagues easiest running schedules locking him in as lower RB1 in the foreseeable future.

Redskins

The headlines from this game were Robert Griffin III leaving the field after a vicious blow to the chin. The good news is Griffin left the game under his own power which gives us an early indication he should be returning next week. The bad news is, similar to Michael Vick, Griffin fails to avoid “big hit” constantly putting his body and his fantasy season in jeopardy. Two weeks ago Robert Griffin III made statements the media he’ll bounce back from anything the defense throws at him. Not so quick young man.

Preseason darling Pierre Garcon struggled through another lack luster performance en route to 24 yards on three catches. On the plus side, Garcon did finish the game meaning his injury issues should be in the rear view mirror. However, with Griffin now ailing it might be best to take a wait and see approach throughout the upcoming week(s).

 

Seattle 16, Carolina 12

Seahawks

All week we’ve been hearing that coach Carroll is going to take the reins off rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. Instead of his usual 150 yards passing, Wilson pieced together 221 yards including a touchdown to Golden Tate after a nice catch and run. Although an improvement, it doesn’t incite fantasy confidence in any member of the Seattle passing offense.

Panthers

Every week I write the same sentiment in the space occupied by Seattle’s latest opponent. The Seahawks are a very, very good defense and should be accounted for every time we set our lineups. This week it was the Carolina Panthers as Cam Newton was held to 10.25 fantasy points. The rest of the Panthers offense didn’t fare much better as Cam laser locked Steve Smith neglecting the rest of his teammates. The Seahawks also did an excellent job snuffing out the read-option run.

 

Chicago 41, Jacksonville 3

Bears

Jay Cutler would end the game with 292 yards and two touchdowns suggesting a solid performance. However, the Bears were knotted up at 3-3 exiting the first half as it took Cutler until fourth quarter finally strike pay dirt. Jay is the model of inconsistency which is a killer to fantasy seasons making a high end QB2.

Good to see both Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall have resumed their role amongst the fantasy elite. To bad they go on bye next week.

Alshon Jeffery will show up in the stat line after scoring his second touchdown of the season. Those looking for wide receiver help should search elsewhere as Jeffery is averaging paltry 4.6 targets per game.

Jaguars

All you need about the Jaguars is indicated by their score. Blaine Gabbert impressive preseason has now proven to be fraudulent as the second year quarterback is struggling mightily in the regular season unable to move his team. Gabbert dismal play resulted in two interceptions returned for touchdowns by Bears defensive players meaing Gabbert alone was 14-3 against his own team. The Jags have obviously made a conscience move to get Justin Blackmon more involved, but the quarterback struggles set the bar on rookie as a WR5.

The poor quarterback play is also indicated in the lopsided time of possession trickling to limit the rest of the offense including Maurice Jones-Drew. Thankfully the Jags have a bye week to regroup.

 

Tennessee 7, Minnesota 30

Titans

I’ll summarize the Titans offense in one word, awful. Matt Hasselbeck seemingly waited for the fourth quarter to arrive before kicking the Titans into gear and tossing a junk time touchdown to Jared Cook.

Just as Chris Johnson gave us a glimmer of hope he rips our heart out with this stink bomb. Up next are the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers as every Titan’s player should be on our bench.

Vikings

Christian Ponder is a young quarterback on the rise with borderline QB1 ability. Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin are every week studs. But credit should be given where credit is earned as the Vikings defense has been eye opening through the first five weeks of the season. They have manhandled their opponents complimented by an excellent ball control offense. With the Skins, Cards, Bucs and Hawks next on the schedule, the Vikings DST should be owned in every league.

 

Denver 21, New England 31

Broncos

I not a fan of wasting your time writing about the obvious so I’ll let you know that Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Willis McGahee and Eric Decker all did what was expected.

The lone confusion we find is which Broncos tight end to start? This conundrum is more difficult than an “expert” Soduko puzzle. Jacob Tamme has received 38 targets on the season, including 11 this week. Joel Dreessen has only 16 targets on the entire season. However, Tamme has only scored a touchdown week one whereas Dreessen has a touchdown in three straight weeks. I’ve looked long and hard to uncover a trend, but I have no answers. Both are risky starts in the foreseeable future.

Patriots

What was billed as a shootout turned into a game of ball control by the New England running game, for the second week in a row (?). With Aaron Hernandez missing and Rob Gronkowski ailing the Patriots are proving their versatility topping 50 rushing attempts. Oddly enough the only “startable” member of the Pats passing attack was Wes Welker with 104 yards and a touchdown and Tom Brady’s 21 fantasy points.

Steven Ridley owners must be pulling their hair out early in the game watching the highlight of Shane Vereen march his only carry of the game into the endzone for a short yardage touchdown. Ridley was later afforded two carries from the 10 yard line pushing the ball down to the 1 yard line before being replaced by Brandon Bolden. He finally got his shot at the stripe but failed on two more attempts from the one yard line before Brady finally cleaned things up. Ridely did score a rushing touchdown, but it came from eight yards out.  Further frustrating Ridley owners was a late game fumble while milking out the clock in the final minutes. This quickly prompted the Patriots to switch gears and insert Bolden on the next drive.  Ridley was looking like a solid play, but as we know mistakes will get a player benched, especially playing for Bill Bellichick. I don’t think the page has been turned, but the lack of short yardage convergence and a late game fumble will hinder Ridley’s value moving forward to a mid RB2.

 

Buffalo 3, San Francisco

Bills

This matchup actually started as a real football game with the 49ers going 3-and-out their first possession then giving up a punt return for a touchdown negated on a penalty. We even had a tied ballgame at 3-3 in the early second quarter. After that the Bills were put down like a wild turkey on Thanksgiving. Buffalo would total 45 offensive plays, making it hard to hard to properly evaluate anybody.  We do know the Bills DST is terrible after surrendering 1100 yards and 97 points in two weeks, ugh.

49ers

With 621 yards of total offense the 9ers absolutely crushed the undermanned Bills defense. If you started a 49ers player, any player, you likely had a great day. Even backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick got in the mix with his second rushing touchdown in as many weeks.

Identical to the Bills, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, evaluating this circus performance is difficult. We know this; Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and the San Fran DST are must starts. Also, don’t over exaggerate Michael Crabtree’s 113 yard 1 touchdown performance; he is still WR4, although his stock is rising. Despite an explosive performance, Alex Smith is averaging just under 20 fantasy points per game, with Colin Kaepernick vulturing plays, making Smith a high end QB2 with spot starter potential.

 

San Diego 24, New Orleans 31

Chargers

The Chargers running back situation has been a bit silly and somewhat childish. Last week San Diego sat their best runner Ryan Mathews as punishment for fumbling. This week they opened the game Jackie Battle as the “starter”. But when the chips were down, and the Chargers needed points they quickly turned to Mathews. I never want to overact to one game, but Mathews is well on his way to reclaiming his position as an RB1, so long as he does not fumble.

Examining the box score we find Robert Meachem finally emerged from the darkness catching three balls for 67 yards and two touchdowns against his former team.  Before running to waiver wire and adding Meachem please realize he finished the night 6th in team targets on with four, right at his season average. He is only a desperation add.

Saints

Congratulations to Drew Brees for breaking Johnny Unitas’ record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass. Brees then put on a passing clinic for the home town fans. When the dust finally settled Brees totaled 370 yards and four, count them four touchdowns.

On the receiving end were Marques Colston and Devery Henderson. Colston went beast mode to the tune of 130 yards and three touchdowns. Most surprising was Henderson who nearly tripled his entire output on the year with 18.3 fantasy points.

As the aerial attack took flight the ground game suffered as none of the Saints three running backs managed lived up to our fantasy standards. Darren Sproles remains the option.

Don’t forget the bye weeks roll along as this week it will be; Chicago, Jacksonville, New Orleans and Carolina.

About Eric Hartvigson