Monday Morning Breakdown – Week 9

Fantasy Football Fanatics

By, Eric Hartvigson

 

Kansas City 13, San Diego 31

Chiefs

It’s becoming apparent that Kansas City is on the fast track towards the first pick of 2013 NFL Draft.  In this matchup their game plan looked non-existent as the play calling was wildly misguided and predictable. Even more annoying is falling behind and yet no big shots to stretch the field. NFL defenses will always be playing downhill if the Chiefs never challenge them deep. Annoying.

The quarterback play from Matt Cassel (181 yards, zero touchdowns) has been awful, to put it politely. With the game still in the balance, Cassel managed to provide the Chargers defense with two touchdowns. The first was a sack, strip, fumble in the endzone followed on the next possession by a pick six. Cassel likely won’t be the starter next week.

Jamal Charles opened the game very slow but started to gain traction in the second half only to take a big shot the head / shoulder causing him to leave the game. Although report have already surfaced that Charles will be ready for next week, three straight games under seven fantasy points is becoming alarming with the might Steelers upcoming.

Dwayne Bowe was the only player able to produce for Kansas City leading to eight receptions for 79 yards. Bowe’s value is predicated by Cassel’s high number of targets. Should Cassel be benched next week, Bowe’s value would slide to the high end WR4 facing Pittsburgh.

Chargers

Regardless of the score, the Chargers offense continues to play down to the competition. Facing the 23rd-ranked Chiefs pass defense this game was teed up for Philip Rivers to finally explode. Instead Rivers kept the game close as personified by his poorly thrown interception in the end zone just before half. Putting up a modest 220 yards and two touchdowns, Rivers has only surpassed 20 fantasy points twice this season. Up next for the Chargers quarterback is the 25th-ranked Buccaneers pass defense. After that the schedule goes downhill for Rivers who will become a bottom of the barrel QB1, at best.

Malcolm Floyd remains the lone wide receiver on the Chargers roster even worth owning, let alone worth starting. As stated above, Floyd has a ripe matchup next week and should be started.

Antonio Gates owners will be thankful for the first-quarter touchdown, but oddly he went missing after the early game score. Nearly impossible to sit, all you can do is pray to the heavens.

Ryan Mathews breakout season has been put on hold for one more game as the Chargers feature back was only given the rock 13 times for 67 yards. Mathews continues to linger around 8 fantasy points per game giving him mid RB2 value.

 

Denver 31, Cincinnati 23

Broncos

The Broncos are one of the few teams in the NFL that require very little analyses. In this game it was the usual suspects as Eric Decker (eight receptions, 99 yards and two touchdowns), Demaryius Thomas (77 yards) and Petyon Manning (291 yards and three TDs) all delivered for fantasy owners. Thomas did leave the game with an apparent knee injury, but returned to the game shortly thereafter. Make sure to monitor for any lingering effects.

Willis McGahee owners who did not see the game will be wondering about his 23 carries for 66 yards averaging 2.3 yards per carry? Give credit to the Cincinnati defense for game planning to shut down the Broncos feature running back. Fear not as the Broncos have the soft Panthers run defense next on the schedule keeping McGahee atop the heap as a must start.

The other significant new to report was Jacob Tamme leaving the game with a with an arm injury giving way to Joel Dreessen as the Broncos lone tight end. The former Texan put together four receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown. Dreessen stock would be on the rise as a must add, but Tamme later returned to the game continuing to limit both players. Dreessen has the higher upside, but remains a very low end TE1.

Bengals

Andy Dalton had a mediocre day in the box score throwing for 299 yards and one touchdown. De was under constant duress from the Denver defensive all game long as the Cincy offensive line couldn’t slow down the pass rush. Dalton’s fantasy value is slipping into the mid / lower QB2 range.

Jermaine Gresham has been a fantasy enigma averaging just under seven targets and seven fantasy points per game. Definitely worthy of a waiver addition if he’s not already picked up in your league as a low TE1, but his upside will be limited by play calling and Dalton’s still growing.

Just as we begin lose faith in Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis, he answers our prayers and gets into the zone. Still averaging 61 yards per game and only three total touchdowns on the season the “Law Firm” is high end RB3.  Simply based on the sheer number of carries, Green-Ellis is worthy of starter consideration in a plus matchup.

A.J Green had another solid performance, and fantasy owners will be pleased with his 99 yards and one touchdown day. However he was stopped 2 yards short of a second receiving touchdown (ugh).

 

Baltimore 25, Cleveland 15

Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens came out absolutely on fire with Ray Rice moving the ball straight down the field for an opening drive touchdown. On the very next possession it was fellow running back Bernard Pierce scoring from 12 yards out. After that the Ravens went into hibernation shutting down their offense until falling behind by one point late in the game. Baltimore then kicked it back in gear scoring a late game touchdown to Torrey Smith. Yawn.

The only real news to take from this game was; Rice owners should certainly have Pierce handcuffed in case you haven’t done so already.

Browns

The Browns game plan was obvious; run, run and run some more as Trent Richardson was the given the ball 31 times totaling 136 yards. Even when down 14-0 in the first quarter the Browns never deviated from their game plan.

A run heavy attack severely limited Brandon Weeden and the Browns passing game. Late riser Josh Gordon was seen double covered on a number of plays indicating the Ravens defensive effort to shut down the rookie, as evident by Gordon’s three targets. Gordon did have a nice 18 yard touchdown called back by an ineffectual illegal formation (ugh). Even with the added attention, no other Browns receiver was able to capitalize confirming that Gordon and T-Rich are the only players with viable fantasy value.

 

Arizona 17, Green Bay 31

Cardinals

LaRod Stephens-Howling is clear and away the lead ball carrier for the Cardinals. In this game he was able to amass 59 yards on 19 touches, including a one yard goal line scamper around the edge. Eclipsing 17 carries in 3 of his last four games, the “hyphen” has earned RB3 status.  Just be aware that Stephens-Howling has a bye week upcoming, along with the immanent return of Beanie Wells in week 12. All told, he’ll only have one more game as the Cards 3-down-RB in week 11 against the Falcons, then it’s back to the bench (that is until Wells gets hurt again).

Fantasy owners must be elated by Larry Fitzgeralds stat line reading 12 targets, 74 yards and one touchdown. Even more encouraging was seeing Arizona attempt to open up the game plan and fling the ball deep. Just thought I’d try and make you feel better.

Andre Roberts actually led the team in receiving with four receptions for 86 yards. We’re hearing reports that Michael Floyd will be more involved in the game plan moving forward. If you can stomach the swings, Roberts will resume his role as a low end RB3 after his week 10 bye.

Packers

Oddly James Starks started the game behind Aaron Rodgers, but we also saw an even mix between him and Alex Green. The Packers turned to Starks in the closing minutes of the game to milk out the clock indicating a return to faith. In my humble opinion Starks looks the more complete running back as a pounder to compliment the Packers high powered passing attack. Starks is certainly worth adding, but be reminded the Packers have a long history of an RBBC and Starks is one mistake away from falling right back into the doghouse.

Jordy Nelson was seen limping badly after rolling up on his ankle. This likely won’t be the dreaded high ankle sprain, but he wasn’t able to return. A week 10 is just what the doctor ordered.

Randall Cobb is Percy Harvin reincarnated, on a much better offense. His first touchdown was on a sick slant and catch, followed by an over the shoulder snag in the corner of the endzone.  He was even seen running the football out of the backfield. With Jennings gone for the foreseeable future, and Nelson once again hobbled, Cobb is now a WR1.

Jermichael Finley is all but dead to Aaron Rodgers.

 

Chicago 51, Tennessee 20

Bears

Absolute, and total domination by the Chicago Bears led by the “Monsters of the Midway”. In this game we saw a blocked punt for a TD followed by a Brian Urlacher interception for a TD. To make matter worse for the Titans, Chicago forced six fumble of which four were recovered capped off by two sacks.  Greedy Bears DST owners will be dismayed by Devin Hester breakaway kick return as he was barely caught on the eight yard line by a shoe string tackle.

Oh by the way, Matt Forte accumulated 148 total yards and touchdown of his own, while Brandon Marshall capped things off with 122 yards and three touchdowns (ka-boom!!!!).

Titans

Even with the poor team performance, Chris Johnson managed 141 yards rushing capped off by an 80 yard scamper for a touchdown in junk time. As the old saying goes, “the don’t ask how, they only ask how many”. An awesome game against one of the leagues premiere defenses now has CJ back into the RB1 conversation.

The rotation of viable fantasy wide receivers for the Titans has becoming more unnerving than the “no touching rule” at the strip club. Once again it was Kendall Wright, Kenny Britt and Nate Washington swapping production. This week it was Washington catching the lone passing TD (last week it was Wright). I must admit that I have absolutely no clue who to recommend moving forward.

 

Miami 20, Indianapolis 23

Dolphins

In the first half the Dolphins did an excellent job controlling the clock working the ball to Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas.  They both managed to rip off big runs highlighted by Bush’s 18 yard touchdown score. For some reason the Fins got stupid in the second half putting the game on the arm of Ryan Tannehill as evident by 17 rushes to 38 passes eventually outdueled by the Colts quarterback.

With the Fins taking to the air it was Brian Hartline on the receiving end of 107 of Tannehill’s 290 yards. Hartline’s production on the season continues to have more swings than a metronome. With the Titans coming to South Beach, Hartline should be considered a lower WR3.

Colts

Andrew Luck continues to prove that he was every bit the player the Colts drafted with the first over selection. In this game he carved up the Miami pass defense to the tune of 433 yards and two touchdowns. Luck’s fantasy value continues to linger as a mid lower QB1.

With so many passing yards multiple Colts wide receivers prospered including Reggie Wayne (78 yards and one touchdown), T.Y. Hilton (102 yards) and Donnie Avery (108 yards). Even Tight end Dwayne Allen go into the mix with 75 yards. We should also note that Donnie Avery exited the game with a hip injury failing to return. Should his ailment be serious enough to cause downtime, the fantasy value of T.Y. Hilton would rise to lower WR3 value.

Donald Brown was on the field for the Colts opening drive, but wasn’t seen for the remainder of the game indicating the knee injury is still bothersome. With Brown’s injury lingering, it was Vick Ballard stepping in as the Colts lead ball carrier taking 19 touches for 98 yards. Ballard has done an awesome job in filling in with quick feet and surprising power. Even more impressive is the role he plays in the Colts passing game as a check down for Luck converting a number of crucial first downs. It wasn’t all Ballard as Delone Carter remains in the mix with eight carries for 31 yards. Ballard’s value is contingent on Brown’s continued recovery, but will approach high end RB2 against the Jags should Brown’s miss another game.

 

Carolina 21, Washington 13

Panthers

Head coach Ron Rivera has promised in recent weeks that Jonathan Stewart will emerge as the Panthers bell cow back so long as he keeps a hot hand. That claim could most accurately be characterized as “a damn lie”. Stewart was able to rip off a number of long runs early in the game only to be supplemented by DeAngelo Williams. D-Will then took a handoff 30 yards to score the lone rushing touchdown of the Panthers running backs. Cam Newton would also tack on a rushing touchdown after a one yard touchdown plunge. Stewart’s value will remain in the RB3 variety as the RBBC is alive and well in Carolina.

Steve Smith finally caught his first touchdown of the year capping off a 99 yard drive. About time.

Cam Newton continues to struggle with accuracy completing 56 percent of his passes. However his legs still salvage his fantasy performance with 37 yards on the ground topped off by the aforementioned rushing touchdown.

Greg Olsen’s was the preferred option in the passing game garnering nine targets en route to 48 yards. Olsen was having a great game until the Panthers went conservative trying to milk a lead. He remains a high end TE2.

Redskins

Alfred Morris sleeper season looked to stay on track picking up 76 yards on 13 carries. Morris would exit the game after suffering a “shoulder injury” giving way to Evan Royster who scored the Skins only touchdown of the game in the waning minutes. The status of the Skins backfield will rely on the extent of Morris’ injury, as Royster would be solid waiver addition should the injury cause Morris to miss action.

Panthers pass defense was simply amazing only rushing four all game long and still getting to quarterback Robert Griffin III with four sacks.  The young signal caller would be held out of the endzone for only the second time all season only able to muster 16 fantasy points. The Skins will have a much needed bye in week 10.

Aldrick Robinson would get the start over Leonard Hankerson. But it was Hankerson finishing the day with 49 yards along with a touchdown called back after an illegal formation. Hankerson still appears to be the wide receiver to own, but nothing more than a high end WR5.

Santana Moss suffered head injury now classified as a concussion causing him to miss the fourth quarter. Moss had been on a tear catching three touchdowns in the past two games, but averaging just over four targets per game has him pegged as nothing more than a low WR4.

 

Detroit 31, Jacksonville 14

Lions

It was a coming out part for the Lions running game as Mikel Leshoure who was unstoppable rumbling through the Jags for 70 yards and three touchdowns. Made even more impressive was the Joique Bell tacking on 73 yards a touchdown on top of Leshoure’s performance. The moral of the story is; line up your running backs facing Jacksonville. Up next for the Lions is a middle of the road Vikings rush defense as Leshoure is low end RB2, while Bell returns to being an RB3.

After a mid week scare, Calvin Johnson was able to start for his team and becoming a huge piece of the offense gather 129 yards on eight targets. Much of Megatrons production came in the first half as Stafford tried force feeding the ball to his number one receiver and get him involved early. He nearly scored his second touchdown of the season landing on the one yard line. Johnson admitted after the game that his knee issue continue to bother him and will likely be a limiting factor for the remainder of the season (ugh).

In contest dominated by Mikel Leshoure and Megatron, Titus Young was only targeted five times. He did however drop a clear touchdown that hit him right in the “bucket”. With all the defensive attention being drawn by Calvin, Young Sr. has WR3 value moving forward.

Jaguars

The roller coaster ride that is Blaine Gabbert hit a few bumpy patches as the young signal caller ended the game with 220 yards and two touchdowns. Only able to accumulate 41 passing yards before half, it wasn’t until second half that a sense of urgency hit Jags forcing Gabbert into comeback mode. It didn’t work.

The Jags player of note over the past few weeks has been wide receiver Cecil Shorts. Just as we finally decide to trust a Jags wide receiver, here comes Laurent Robinson leading the team in targets at nine. To make matters even more complicated, Blaine Gabbert’s two touchdowns were thrown to Michael Spurlock (?) and Justin Blackmon. We shouldn’t be quick to throw Shorts back into the free agent pool, but his value has slid to the mid WR4 range.

Rashad Jennings remains the workhorse running back in the Jacksonville backfield still minus Maurice Jones Drew. But with the game out of hand the Jaguars went to the air causing Jennings to become nearly nonexistent. Up next for the Jags are the 26th ranked Colts rush defense as Jennings will possess mid RB2 status.

 

Buffalo 9, Houston 21

Bills

As expected, the Bills offense ran into a buzzsaw unable to score a touchdown as the Texans defense put them down like a rabid dog.

CJ Spiller remains the lone bright spot in an otherwise anemic Buffalo Bills offense. In this game Spiller touched the ball a team-high 11 times able to rack up 102 yards. Spiller is clearly the best weapon on the Bills offense as head coach Chan Gailey stated after the game that “he intends to give Spiller more carries moving forward”. Of course this sentiment has become a broken record. Given his current role within the offense, Spiller is a mid / low RB2 traveling down to New England in week 10.

Facing the number one-ranked Texans pass defense proved to be a formidable task for wide receiver Steve Johnson. Targeted seven times, Johnson was only able to haul in three passes for 29 yards. Reports are surfacing postgame that Johnson suffered a thigh injury that kept him hobbled for much of this contest. As always, Johnson is more of a spot starter facing poor secondaries which happens to be the case in week 10 as they take on the New England Patriots. Consider Stevie-J a mid WR3, dependent on the thigh issue.

Texans

You know the drill. Typical Texans football game. Strong defense, run the football and hit Owen Daniels for a deep touchdown. Ho hum.

The only difference we find was Andre Johnson emerging with eight receptions for 110 yards.  This should be calming to see Johnson owners who have grown accustomed to seeing their WR1 putting together poor outings when the Texans are able to keep the opposition at arm’s length. Up next are the Bears in what should be slugfest.

If you’re wondering why Arian Foster only put together 17 fantasy points against the league’s worst rush defense?  First of all you’re spoiled, but secondly Foster played this game while suffering from the flu.

 

Tampa Bay 42, Oakland 32

Buccaneers

Josh Freeman’s continues to develop in leaps and bounds ripping the ball downfield to his favorite targets Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. Freeman would’ve had a much bigger game had Doug Martin not worn through the Oakland rush defense in route to the third-best performance for a rookie running back. Freeman’s growth continues to hold up as he, Jackson and Williams are viable fantasy options with the 23rd-ranked San Diego Chargers next on the schedule.

Oh yeah, Doug Martin had himself an OK game. I suggest you start him next week.

Raiders

Despite getting body slammed by Doug Martin, the Raiders offense actually made a game of this led by Carson Palmer’s 414 yards and four touchdowns. Believe it or not, his day could have been better after a deep bomb for a touchdown to Derreck Hagen called back on a holding penalty. Up next is a very beatable Ravens secondary as Palmer will have low end QB1 value.

The biggest concern for fantasy owners was watching red flag injury risk Darren McFadden limp off the field. Early indications are suggesting the dreaded “high ankle sprain” which has a very predictable timetable of 4 weeks recovery. Normally we would immediately add Run DMC’s backup, but Mike Goodson was also absent after suffering his own ankle injury. The official Raiders depth chart has Taiwan Jones listed as a likely starter should both McFadden and Goodson be absent next week. Be careful as Jones is also a red flag injury risk, but worthy of a look once all the injury news shakes out.

Raiders tight end Brandon Myers has been a player of interest over the last few weeks but the only thing missing from his resume was a touchdown. The goose egg in the TD column was quickly erased with two scores off the arm of Carson Palmer as the Raiders were in comeback mode all game long.  You won’t believe me if I told you, but I actually started Myers over Kyle Rudolph this week (thought I’d slide that in there). Myers will remain a mid / high TE2 until he can prove this one week wasn’t a fluke.

 

Minnesota 20, Seattle 30

Vikings

Adrian Peterson ripped through the normally stout Seattle defense accumulating 182 yards on 17 carries. Unfortunately, that was the limitation of the Vikings offensive production as Christian Ponder was held to 63 total passing yards (63?). It’s never good when a team’s leading receiver is Jerome Simpson with 14 yards on one reception. Even worse was watching Percy Harvin rolling on the ground in agony grasping at his ankle. Harvin could later be seen gingerly running on the sideline before returning to the game. However, watching him run routes it is overly apparent that he is nowhere near 100%. Never one to miss a game, Harvin will likely play through the injury next week if possible, but should be downgraded playing on a balky ankle.

After starting the season en fuego, Kyle Rudolph has fallen off the earth having scored a combined 1.7 points over the last three games. With the regression of quarterback Christian ponder, Rudolph is now on the slippery downslide into the mid-TE2 range barely clinging to a roster spot (where did it all go wrong).

Seahawks

How about some offensive explosion from the normally quite Seattle passing attack? Rusell Wilson is slowly getting feet under him as an NFL quarterback after tossing for 173 yards and three touchdowns. As he continues to grow, the coaching staff will put more on his plate allowing him to open up the passing game each week.

The two primary beneficiaries of Wilson’s solid performance were Sidney Rice for 54 yards and one touchdown and Golden Tate catching 28 yards and two touchdowns.  Now surpassing 11 fantasy points in three of the last four games, Sidney Rice has become an extremely viable fantasy option with WR3 value (much to my surprise).  As for Tate, his production is far too sporadic to be relied upon a weekly basis and should remain on the waiver wire.

 

Pittsburgh 24, New York 20

Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers have become a team predicated upon running the football regardless of who is in the backfield.  This week is was Isaac Redman running rough shot over the New York Giants front seven for a total of 147 yards on 26 carries. It seems whoever lines up behind Big Ben is in store for RB1 production. Maybe next week I’ll take the carries.

Mike Wallace was held in check for much of this game as the Steelers dink and dunk offense continues to be predicated up on the running the football and short to intermediate passes. Fortunately Wallace was the recipient of one of those passes and able to break it 51 yards for a touchdown. As a Wallace owner myself, I am extremely worried about his role in this new Todd Haley offensive system. Wallace is too valuable the sit, but owners should be crossing their fingers weekly.

Antonio Brown exited this game after suffering what he deemed to be a “high ankle sprain”.  The team has come out to refute those claims. A preseason darling, Brown’s minimal fantasy value could be in the balance depending on his “actual” injury.

Giants

I am absolutely perplexed by the play of Eli Manning in this game only able to muster up 125 yards and one interception. Much credit should be given to the Steelers defense for confusing Manning while getting constant pressure, but also shutting down the running game. Manning owners can back away from the ledge as he will have a much easier matchup next week with Cincinnati Bengals.

Victor Cruz owners got a real scare as he laid on the ground motionless as the trainers attended to the top tier wide receiver. He would later return to the game to lead the team with 67 yards on five receptions. Pay attention to the weekly injury news, but I’m guessing he’ll be fine.

Of course Manning struggles will translate into the rest of his receiving corps. In this game Hakeem Nicks was only targeted four times hauling in one pass for 10 yards. Totaling 15.3 points over the past four games, Nicks is becoming a scary proposition for fantasy owners. We keep hearing that he’s over his injury issues that plagued him early in the season, but Nicks production would indicate otherwise. Nearly impossible to sit, with the Bengals up next the Giants will look to get their passing game back on track

As expected, Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw struggled to find holes facing the leagues 5th ranked Pittsburgh rush defense. Even more unnerving was Andre Brown once again stealing New York’s lone rushing touchdown. Like Nicks, Bradshaw is nearly impossible to sit, but temper your expectations as the Brown is the new Brandon Jacobs.

Quick note; Martellus Bennett seen walking very gingerly after the game. Worth monitoring as the week plays out.

 

Dallas 13, Atlanta 19

Cowboys

Dez Bryant may have started this game, but I didn’t see him on the field after catching one ball for 15 yards. Instead it was Kevin Ogeltree coming up big for the Cowboys on 96 yards and one touchdown. Of course Ogeltree’s value is somewhere amidst the WR6 range, so don’t run out an add him.

What the Cowboys are sorely lacking is a running game with DeMarco Murray still absent (two games my hiney). I guess you could call Felix Jones the starter, but he actually did more damage in the passing game finishing with 14 touches for 109 yards. Felix did his best impersonation of a running back, but he doesn’t have the power to stuff it between the tackles and likely to lose goal line looks. Should Murray miss another game, consider Jones a low end RB2 with the Eagles next on the schedule.

Falcons

The Falcons have the best record in football for good reason, they are the most balanced team in the NFL. Once again it was Matt Ryan tossing the football all over the park leading to Julio Jones accumulating 129 yards followed closely by Roddy White’s 118 yards. The only lacking on this night was a touchdown. However, production of this nature should excite confidence as the Cowboys are the 3rd ranked pass defense while Ryan and the gang have a very soft schedule upcoming.

Michael Turner must have got the lead out as he found a gear we have not seen in a long time. Ripping through the Cowboys rush defense, the “Burner” racked up 102 yards scoring the Falcons lone touchdown on the night. Even more impressive was Turner grinding out the clock and preserving Atlanta’s undefeated season.

 

Teams on bye week 10 – Green Bay, Arizona, Cleveland, Washington

“It doesn’t matter how many dragons you slay, it’s who goes home with the princess”

Good luck and we’ll see you next week.

About Eric Hartvigson