Monday Morning Takeaway – Week 7

Monday Morning Takeaway – Week 7

Fantasy Football Fanatics

By, Eric Hartvigson

 

Seattle 6, San Francisco 13

Seahawks

The Seahawks are easier to evaluate than buttering a piece of toast.  Every week in this space you’ll find the same sentiments; “start the Seattle DST, start Marshawn Lynch, handcuff Robert Turbin and leave everyone else alone”. Week seven was no different as two NFC West foes went to battle in a classic defensive slugfest. With a rookie quarterback under center, coupled with very conservative play calling, no member of the Seattle passing game has proven worthy of a roster spot.

49ers

San Francisco’s fantasy production nearly mirrors that of Seattle; start Frank Gore, start the 49ers DST and handcuff Kendall Hunter. The lone difference is Vernon Davis. Coming into this game as the second highest scoring fantasy tight end, Davis was completely shut down not seeing a single target. Although highly unnerving, this is more of a testament to the Seattle defense than Davis himself. Also, as the 9ers took to the ground through much of the second half, as Davis was used more in the blocking scheme than the passing game. As the most athletic tight end in the game, Davis remains a lineup lock.

It’s worth noting that in the absence of Mario Manningham stepped Randy Moss into the starting lineup. Even though he was given an expanded number of reps, the 49ers only targeted Moss 4 times, with zero deep passes. Those holding out hope can safely drop the future Hall-of-Famer.

A side story exiting this wrestling match was the amount of money swayed by the decision of Jim Harbaugh to decline a last minute safety. My only question is, “why bet the game, when the over / under was 38 points?” Money in the bank.

 

Tennessee 35, Buffalo 34

Titans

Hello, hello. Welcome to the party Chris Johnson. With 18 carries totaling 195 yards and two touchdowns Johnson ripped through the porous Buffalo defense finally displaying his breakaway speed including a scoring run of 83 yards in classic 2K style. Up next are the 29th ranked Colts rush defense. Yee hah!

On the downside for Johnson owners, it is Jamie Harper’s emergence as the Titans goal line back stealing two short yardage touchdowns.  With Javon Ringer done for the foreseeable future, Harper is the now the primary handcuff to Johnson.

With four touchdowns turned in the by the ground game, Matt Hasselbeck and the Titans passing attack were limited in what should have been a very favorable matchup. Nate Washington led the way for Tennessee receiving core with 43 yards highlighted by a last minute touchdown. The confusion moving forward is which Titans WR to trust. I believe Kenny Britt is nearly impossible to sit whenever he suits up. Washington on the other hand smells like a low end WR3. Kendall Wright may have fallen below the Mason Dixon line, now a mid WR4.

Bills

CJ Spiller may be the most electric player on the Bills roster, but Fred Jackson is the lead pony with 17 touches, 110 total yards and a receiving touchdown.  Getting the load in the Bills backfield Jackson looks to be the more secure play as a high end RB2 whereas Spiller is the complimentary back in the mid lower RB2 range.

As a bye week spot start, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick delivered a home run for fantasy owners tossing for 225 yards and three touchdowns. As a small bonus Fitz added 23 yards rushing (I’ll take it). The Bills are on bye week 8, while facing the might Texans week 9.  If you’re in need of roster space Fitzpatrick could be expendable.

 

Cleveland 13, Indianapolis 17

Browns

Josh Gordon just continues to deliver for those of us who took a flyer. This game included 59 yards including 33 yard touchdown grab. However, Gordon dropped a long touchdown that would have been the go-ahead score after quarterback Brandon Weeden threw an absolute dime. Given his role as the deep threat on a team constantly playing from behind, Gordon is worthy of starter consideration with the 24th ranked Chargers pass defense up next.

Trent Richardson owners were playing the Crying Game while watching their rookie phenom playing the role of a spectator. After the game head coach Pat Shurmur claimed it was “a performance based benching”.  We’re learning the his poor performance is the result of T-Rich being plagued by the rib injury that had him limited in practice all week long. Hopefully Richardson owners handcuffed Monerio Hardesty who is clearly the primary backup, but facing a tough matchup with the third ranked Chargers coming to town.

Colts

RG III may be the most athletic rookie quarterback, but Andrew Luck does not get enough credit for his mobility. In this game Luck constantly evaded the Browns pass rush while scoring the Colts only two touchdowns with his legs. Still a low end QB2, Luck has solid spot starter potential.

A top waiver pickup two weeks ago, Vick Ballard finally had a chance to display is skills delivering 20 carries for 84 yards against a subpar Cleveland rush defense. Ballard was relieved throughout the game by Delone Carter who took 11 carries for 41 yards. With Donald Brown’s return still in question, Ballard has a very favorable matchup forthcoming against the paper thin Titans rush defense. Owners looking for help could use Ballard as a low end RB2.

 

Green Bay 30, St. Louis 20

Packers

The speculation entering the season was the role played by Randall Cobb in the Packers high flying offense? With Greg Jennings still hobbled by a hamstring injury, it was Cobb turn, torching the Rams secondary with 89 yards and two touchdowns. So long as Jennings is absent, Cobb remains a solid mid WR3.

James Jones owner should be pulling their hair out as Packers WR had two near miss touchdowns; one the result of good defense the second as Jones was unable to get his second foot inbounds. Like Cobb, so long as Jennings remains inactive, Jones has solid starter value as a mid / high WR3.

As Jones and Cobb have become integral members of the Green Bay passing attack, Jermichael Finley has become a lost soul. Only able to manage six targets over the past two games (two targets this week) Finley should be firmly planted on our bench until further notice.

Rams

The Rams continue to utilize an RBBC with a steady mix of Daryl Richardson and Steven Jackson. Furthering our confusion, both players averaged over 4 yards per carry, however it was S-Jax punching in a six yard touchdown run. Jackson is the superior talent, meaning he is the player to start, but barely clinging to an RB2 status.

As the Rams deep downfield threat Chris Givens caught a 56 yard pass, while totaling 84 yards on 4 touches in this game. Givens has become a player of interest surpassing 8 fantasy points in four straight games. Still a mid WR4, he is worthy of consideration depending on your options.

Sam Bradford may be amongst the best young quarterbacks in the game, but his lack of wide receiver talent and poor offensive line play continues to inhibit his fantasy production. Bradford is nothing more than a mid QB2, barely worth a roster spot.

 

Arizona 14, Minnesota 21

Cardinals

Just as we start gaining faith that William Powell is the Cardinals lead back, he puts the ball on the turf quickly entering the coach’s doghouse.  That opened the door for LaRod Stephens-Howling’s 24 touches for 149 total yards. Possessing a similar skill set to Darren Sproles, Stephens-Howling is a dual threat with capabilities as a pass catcher out of the backfield. Stephens-Howling will most certainly be hyped in the coming week as must add in every league. I agree he should be picked up, just be aware that his week eight matchup is agasint the stiff 49ers rush defense.

Andre Roberts is a level 10 conundrum.  He started the season on fire with four touchdowns in the first four games, then cooled off considerably whle being dropped in many leagues. Roberts came back in a big way this week leading his team with nine targets totaling 103 yards including a late game touchdown. Please be aware that much of the damage came late in the game as the Viking were playing prevent defense. With sporadic production it’s hard to trust Roberts as a weekly starter, but has earned the right to be rostered as a mid / low WR4

Vikings

In a game primed for Adrian Peterson Variety Hour, he did not disappoint delivering fantasy owners 153 yards and his third touchdown of the season.

Kyle Rudolph owners shouldn’t be overly concerned about his zero reception day. The Cards came into this game with the 6th ranked defense against tight ends. Also limiting Rudolph’s production was comfortable lead built by the Vikings as they simply rode their franchise player to victory. Rudolph should return to form with the weak Bucs passing defense next on the schedule.

Looks like the Jerome Simpson project should be put on hold for another week as the offseason free agent has yet to produce in the run based Minnesota offense. Simpson has become hard to roster now creeping into the lower WR5 category.

 

Washington 23, New York 27

Redskins

Answering the bell this week for the Redskins was veteran wide receiver Santana Moss.  Totaling 67 yards on three receptions, Moss was able to find paydirt twice in this game. Investigating Moss further we find he’s averaging a very meager four targets per game, while no single game has surpassed five targets. Moss’ value is also predicated upon the foot ailment of Pierre Garcon, which new reports have sufaced of torn ligament holding out Garcon until week 11. So long as the “French Waiter” remains absent, Moss has higher WR4 type value.

Fred Davis exited this game in serious pain with an apparent left ankle injury. He was later seen on the sidelines in a boot as the unofficial postgame reports are indicating a torn Achilles tendon.  This would be devastating as Davis will certainly be lost for the season.  As a result of Davis’ injury, Logan Paulsen would rise to the head of the receiving class with four receptions equating to 76 yards. Paulsen value will quickly diminish with reports that the Skins intend to resign for pro-bowler Chris Cooley.

Giants

Concerns about Ahmad Bradshaw’s foot injury should be put on hold as the feature back amassed 43 yards including a goal line touchdown. However, it was clear the G-Men coaching staff aimed to lessen the workload of the veteran ball carrier with the insertion of Andre Brown, who managed to score one yard touchdown of his own. With previous concerns of “who to handcuff between Brown or David Wilson, it is overtly clear that Brown is the secondary option.

Returning from his ankle injury, Martellus Bennett has reemerged as preferred target for quarterback Eli Manning. Bennett is now penciled in as a very high end TE2, and climbing.

So long as Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz remain upright, they are the wide receivers to own. However, it is clear that Dominick Hixon is Manning’s third option. Should either Nicks or Cruz miss action in the future, Hixon would gain serious fantasy value.

 

New Orleans 35, Tampa Bay 28

Saints

The Bucs jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead, but all knew what that means. Drew Brees came out and torched the 31st ranked Tampa secondary minus their best play maker Aqib Talib. On the receiving end of Brees 377 yards and four touchdowns were Lance Moore (121 yards), Devery Henderson (75 yards), Joe Morgan (48 yards and one touchdown), Darren Sproles (32 yards and one touchdown) and David Thomas (27 yards and one touchdown).  Most intriguing of these players was Thomas filling in for the injured Jimmy Graham. Should Graham’s injury linger, Thomas has carved out a niche as a high end TE2.

Buccaneers

Mike Williams’ owners who are discouraged by his poor stat line should be made aware that he was double teamed all game long. Nearly saving his day was a last second touchdown negated by penalty after stepping out the back of the end zone (ugh). Williams is a WR3 moving forward.

Of course the doubling of Williams meant V-Jax was left to single coverage annihilating the Saints pass defense to the tune of 216 yards and a touchdown. But if you’ve seen the highlights on ESPN you know Jackson’s box score should include a second touchdown after being tracked down by Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins on the one yard line ultimately costing Tampa Bay the football game.

Josh Freeman has now put together back-to-back games surpassing 320 yards while tossing three touchdowns in each matchup. Possessing two of the league more dynamic wide receivers, Freeman has the individual talent and team talent to be under consideration as a fantasy starter. However, he was limited earlier in the season by the Bucs coaching staff implementing a run based game plan. So where does that leave us? I’ve come to realize the trend with Freeman is; when the Bucs are challenged by the opposing team, Freeman is pressed into action as a lower QB1. I’d feel more comfortable starting him over Romo or Rivers.

We should quickly note that LeGerrette Blount was given the rock from the stripe on three straight plays, but failed to punch in the score. His teetering value is on decline.

 

Dallas 19, Carolina 14

Cowboys

Facing the anemic Carolina pass defense this game was primed for Tony Romo to bust out of his slump. What we got was 227 yards and one touchdown. Have we gotten to the point where Romo is no longer a QB1 fantasy option? The numbers would suggest yes. Although not droppable, I’d be hard pressed to start this guy until he can prove otherwise.

It’s hard to tell what happened to Dez Bryant in this game. After games of 13 and 15 targets, Bryant was only given 3 pass attempts as the camera rarely focused on the third year wide receiver. Instead it was Romo lighting up both Miles Austin and Jason Witten. Either the Panthers game planned to shut him out Bryant, his groin injury flared up or he landed in the doghouse after his recent antics. We should know more in the coming days.

Felix Jones was given is his first start of the season, but mediocrity may be his middle name. Failing to impress, the Dallas coaching staff turned to a full blown RBBC handing third sting Phillip Tanner 13 carries. However, Tanner didn’t fare much better as both players were held under three yards per carry. Jones should remain the starter so long as Murray is absent, but his waning value is more along the lines of high end RB3.

Panthers

Exiting the preseason we speculated that no Carolina running back is worth rostering, and that prediction is holding true (it’s never a good day when the leading rusher is the quarterback with six carries). Jonathan Stewart led the team in carries with 10, but found little room to maneuver totaling 35 yards. Stewart’s stats look even worse when we consider 20 of his yards came on one carry. DeAngelo Williams was nearly nonexistent with two carries all game, a puzzling revelation for a player who is third all-time in yards per attempt behind only Barry Sanders and Jim Brown. Mike Tolbert scored the Panthers lone rushing touchdown making every member of the Carolina backfield worthless.

Steve Smith is Newton’s security blanket, but it was Brandon LaFell garnering the lone passing touchdown on top of 53 yards. LaFell is a difficult book to read with more twists and turns than a John Grisham novel. I hate sporadic play, and that defines LaFell. Until we see greater consistency, he’ll remain a WR5 in my book.

The struggles of Cam Newton’s are transferring to Greg Olsen. A repeat of week five, Newton fails to read through his options and check down to one of the league’s most athletic tight ends. Olsen’s fantasy value is on the decline so long as Newton’s sophomore slump continues.

 

Baltimore 13, Houston 43

Ravens

The butt-whipping-of-the-week-award goes to the Baltimore Ravens for getting absolutely annihilated and embarrassed by the Houston Texans. In such a lopsided victory there is very little information of value. Fortunately the Ravens have a week to lick their wounds and get ready for a soft Cleveland defense in week nine.

Texans

The Texans win came courtesy of amazing play from their defense, particularly their defensive line. After being embarrassed a week earlier by the Packers on national television, Houston took it personally making the Ravens the focus of their anger. Harassing Joe Flacco all game long Houston put the Ravens QB on his back four times adding two interceptions including a pick-six. A bye in week eight will force fantasy owners to look elsewhere.

With the defense laying the smack down, the Houston offense basically toyed with Baltimore’s banged and battered defense. Andre Johnson amassed 86 yards, but much to the chagrin of fantasy owners failed to find the endzone for the fourth straight game in what should have been plus matchup against a hobbled Ravens defense. Johnson is now a mid WR3, a tough pill to swallow.

 

Jacksonville 23, Oakland 26

Jaguars

The alarming news of the day was seeing Maurice Jones-Drew carted off the field after get his ankle twisted in the first quarter. He would later return on crutches wearing street clothes and a walking boot. So far we’ve received little news, but if history is any indicator MJD will missing in action for an extended period of time.

In the place of MJD stepped Rashad Jennings getting the rock 28 times for a total of 102 yards and one touchdown. An explosive runner, Jennings will be the new feature back in Jacksonville  Although no timetable has been given for Jones-Drew’s recovery, this week’s hot waiver pickup will surely be Jennings.

The other injured player on the Jacksonville sidelines was quarterback Blaine Gabbert after an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. Chad Henne was then handed the reins to the Jags offense. I didn’t think it was possible, but Henne may actually be worse than Gabbert. No member of the Jags passing game is worthy of our time.

Raiders

The offensive line of the Raiders is downright awful, and I blame the coaching staff. With nearly the same personnel last season, former head coach Hue Jackson was able to utilize Darren McFadden and Michael Bush while creating an effective passing attack. Now the team just looks lost as Palmer is under constant pressure almost playing street ball as the play breaks down around him.

Averaging 23 touches per game, it’s nearly impossible to sit Run DMC. On the plus side, McFadden has one of the leagues easiest rushing schedules in the second half of the season. So you got that going for yeah.

Hands down this was the toughest game of the weekend to watch.

 

New York 26, New England 29

Jets

Mark Sanchez had a yeoman’s effort throwing the football with the excellent accuracy and gritting his team to a tough loss. I like the heart, but heart doesn’t win fantasy football games as Sanchez is still a lower QB2.

Shonn Greene took a devastating blow to the head after a catch over the middle. Laying on the ground for nearly a minute he was able to bounce up and walk off the field under his own power. He later returned to the game suggesting he’ll be ready next week. However, Greene has a real tough matchup facing the 4th ranked Dolphins rush defense.

Dustin Keller had himself a solid game becoming a favored target of Sanchez accumulating seven targets, seven receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. Looking like he’s over the hamstring injuries that plagued him since game one, Keller stock is on the rise but still in the TE2 range.

Patriots

I’m going to speculate that Aaron Hernandez is not 100% healed from his ankle injury after watching him limp slightly following his first catch of the game. I also know he isn’t fully recovered because a healthy Hernandez would have eaten up the much smaller Kyle Wilson.  Consider Hernandez 80% when submitting your lineups next week. But even a hobbled Hernandez is a low end TE1.

Brandon Lloyd has disappointed fantasy owners this season (1 reception, 6 yards) but it isn’t for a lack of trying. Lloyd was targeted 8 times in this game, but a number of near misses should provide a glimmer of hope. Hard to imagine he’ll be held down all season, but also hard to trust until his production increases. Now teetering in the lower WR3 specturm.

 

Pittsburgh 24, Cincinnati 17

Steelers

As expected, Jonathan Dwyer was handed the keys to the Steelers rushing attack in the absence of Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman. Dwyer literally took the ball and ran with it gashing the Bengals defensive line for 122 yards. Returning from his own injury, Dwyer’s red hot fantasy value will be predicated upon the practice status of Mendy and Redman in the coming week. Should he get another start against the leaky Washington rush defense, Dwyer would be a borderline RB1. However, if Mendenhall and Redman return we are headed for a full blown RBBC.

Mike Wallace was suffering a serious case of the drops Sunday night having four balls slip through hit grasp. Despite his poor on field play, Big Ben will never stop throwing him the football. Fantasy owners should be licking their chops with the Redskins up next.

Heath Miller just keep producing adding his fifth touchdown of the year. Keep rolling out Miller as a lower TE1.

Did anybody know that Ben Roethlisberger was a left footed kicker?

Bengals

A tough matchup for the Bengals who were dominated in the time of possession by the Steelers rushing attack. The only real insight I can pass along was Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis carrying the load in the Bengals backfield. Cedric Peerman was the only other Cincy running back touching the football on the night. Unfortunately that one carry resulted in the Bengals lone rushing touchdown. The Law Firm is a low end RB2 as the Bengals enter their bye week.

Teams on bye week 8; Buffalo, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Houston

 

In the words of the great Vince Lombardi;

 “Winning isn’t’ a sometime thing, it’s an all the time thing”

About Eric Hartvigson