Monday Morning Takeaway – Week 12

Houston 34, Detroit 31


After becoming a stalwart in fantasy leagues, the Houston DST has been on a downhill slide of late with gaping holes in pass coverage perpetuated by piss poor tackling. One week after getting torched by Jaguars second string quarterback Chad Henne, the Texans pass defense – minus shutdown cornerback Jonathan Joseph – were abused all game long by Mathew Stafford. Losing OLB Brooks Reed for 2-4 weeks with a groin injury, the Texans DST is still considered “startable”, but no longer amongst the elite fantasy options. At minimum, we should begin making alternate plans for week 14 with the Patriots on the schedule.

As the Lions continued to rack up points, the Texans passing offense was forced to keep pace as evident by Matt Schaub’s 315 yards and one touchdown along with Andre Johnson’s 188 yards. I still view Schaub as a lower QB1 in games the Texans can dominate, but after a slow start to the season Andre Johnson has resumed his role as a WR1.

Recently injured Owen Daniels was seen rotating in and out of the game which resulted in a subpar four receptions for 20 yards. Fortunately for fantasy owners, Daniels snuck under the defense for a nine yard touchdown. Despite a reduced role over the past two games, Daniels red zone presence makes him a must TE1 option.


Mathew Stafford and the Lions passing game went ballistic on the Jonathan Joseph-less Texans pass defense compiling 441 yards and two touchdowns. As always the primary beneficiary was Calvin Johnson racking up 140 yards and one touchdown.  However, the most intriguing player to fantasy owners was the insertion of rookie Ryan Broyles into the starting lineup. After the mid-week benching of Titus Young, Broyles played a major role Thursday morning resulting in six receptions on 12 targets for 126 yards. We should also note Calvin Johnson’s postgame comments suggesting the continued use of Broyles as the Lions number two wide receiver. Broyles may or may not be available in your league, but if he’s on the waiver wire run out and grab him immediately. As for Young owners, that’s your decision to make, but I’ve already dropped him.


Mikel Leshoure has been a real boost of late punching in his fourth touchdown in as many games. Now the clear cut lead back in Detroit, Leshoure is solid high end RB2 moving forward.


Washington 38, Dallas 31


The Redskins delivered a strong dose of reality to the Cowboys third ranked fantasy pass defense as Robert Griffin III shot more holes in the secondary than an Alabama road sign. Griffin ended the day with 311 yards and four touchdowns – boo yah!

On the receiving end of Griffin’s performance was the reemergence of Pierre Garcon. After missing six games with an unknown foot ailment, the “French Waiter” amassed 93 yards highlighted by dump pass turned into a 59 yard touchdown slicing through the Cowboys secondary. Leading the team in targets, it would appear Garcon has resumed his rightful role as the Skins #1 wide receiver, making him a solid WR2, just in time for the holidays.

I’ve been shying away from recommending Santana Moss over the past couple of weeks, but his recent production is undeniable. Scoring his sixth touchdown in seven games means Moss warrants starter consideration every week. Be reminded, if he doesn’t find paydirt his yardage alone will not save your day. I see Moss as a risky WR3.

Those concerned over Alfred Morris’ mini-slump can back away from the ledge. Racking up 24 touches for 113 yards and one touchdown, this game serves as a reminder that he is the real deal as a high end RB2 or better.


Typical Cowboys. Show a complete lack of urgency in the first half, fall way behind, then play catch up for the remainder of the game. The Cowboys loss is fantasy owner’s gain as Tony Romo lifted off with 441 yards and three touchdowns.  Yet another player who started the season at a snail’s pace, Romo has reestablished himself as a mid QB1, just watch out for that week 15 matchup vs Pittsburgh.

Felix Jones has been a pleasant surprise since taking over for the injured DeMarco Murray surpassing 10 fantasy points in five of the seven games he started. So long as Jones keeps carrying the load, he’s proven to be worthy of consideration as an RB2 in our starting lineups.

Miles Austin missed most of the game after suffering an apparent hip injury. The team has yet to reveal the severity, but exiting the game early indicates a prolonged absence as we need to start making preparations now. If you’re wondering, it was Cole Beasley stepping into the Dallas passing game with 15 targets. Even if Austin was to miss action, Beasley would only have high end WR4 value while wrestling for targets behind Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.


New England 49, New York 19


For the second straight week the Patriots absolutely dominated their opponents in all phases of the game scoring five touchdowns in the second quarter alone (21 points over a 60 second span). Two such touchdowns came from the Pats DST giving them four in the past two games. A much improved unit over the past three weeks, it’s time to add the Patriots DST for the stretch run.

With the injury to Rob Gronkowski, and downed production from Brandon Lloyd, it was Julian Edelmen being forced into an increased role. Edelman was seen rotating into the game, but once he and Brady finally hooked up it went for a 59 yard touchdown. However, in the second half Edelman would suffer a nasty concussion, knocking him unconscious, forcing him to leave the game. Already added in most leagues, his status will be in serious doubt as we prepare for week 13, especially considering the secrecy of the Patriots injury reports. I would prepare as if Edelman will not be ready for next week’s matchup with the Miami Dolphins.

The other player of note was the return of tight end Aaron Hernandez. The good news for fantasy owners was Hernandez playing 75 percent of the team’s snaps, while exiting the game without further injury. The downside was an easy touchdown grab negated by an unnecessary pass interference (ugh!). He has officially returned to TE1 status, and should make for a valuable piece during the stretch run.


The Jest must have been suffering from a tryptophan overdose playing more like a team on the NFL bloopers and follies. Funniest thing I’ve witnessed all season was Mark Sanchez running straight into the ass end of his center, fumbling the football for a Patriots scoop-and-score, as Sanchez lay on the ground woozy. Even Fireman Ed left the game early.

As with every game on Turkey Day, when a team falls far behind their offense was forced into a one dimensional attack. As a result, Jeremy Kerley targeted 10 times hauling in seven passes for 86 yards. Averaging just over six fantasy points per game, Kerley is not an every week starter.

The new RBBC that has sprouted up in New York continues to persist. The routine is the same; Shonn Greene is the incumbent starter taking the first snaps of the game and actually running with a power and burst I’ve never seen before. Bilal Powell continues to rotate while becoming the preferred ball carrier when the Jets get into the endzone. Hard to trust any Jets running back with an unknown division of snaps.


Minnesota 10, Chicago 28


After an explosive start to the season, Kyle Rudolph hit a three game skid causing many fantasy owners to jump ship. Rudolph has since reemerged as the Vikings red zone threat made evident by his two yard touchdown reception in yesterday’s game. Be reminded that Percy Harvin will cut into Rudolph’s production when he returns making Rudolph a shaky lower TE1.

Jarious Wright has been doing his best to impersonate Percy Harvin becoming the underneath threat while playing out of the slot. Currently the best wide receiver on the Vikings roster, Wright has minimal fantasy value once Harvin returns.


Matt Forte owners will be distraught to find out he was seen exiting the game badly limping on his right leg while heading to the looker room. We can only suspect the injury is a re-aggravation of the high ankle sprain suffered earlier the season. If our suspicions are proven correct, Forte will likely miss next week’s game, and possibly longer. Already the touchdown vulture, backup Michael Bush would assume the starters role giving him instantaneous fantasy value in Forte’s absence.

Brandon Marshall owners should be cussing his name after dropping yet another touchdown that would have given us an additional 11 fantasy points. B. Marsh would get my vote for worst hands amongst all WR1.


Oakland 10, Cincinnati 34


One week after getting bludgeoned by the Siants, the Raiders defense were spanked like a patron at a dominatrix convention. The inability of their defenses to keep their opponent out of the endzone is severely hindering the offense to maintain balance. This game was no different as Oakland was forced into a one dimensional attack even before the second half kicked off. With the Bengals defense pinning their ears back, Carson Palmer is under constant duress only able to play chuck-and-duck. Fortunately for fantasy owners of Denarius Moore one such pass found the wide receiver in the endzone. Things are getting real scary in Oakland.

The fantasy value of Marcel Reece is also hindered by the sieve that is the Raiders defense. Averaging 4.9 yards per carry, Reece is forced into pass protection and into a receiver role with Oakland playing catch up for much of the game. Up next is the Cleveland Browns meaning Oakland should be able to keep pace as Reece will return to RB2 status.


Mohammad Sanu will become a player of intrigue in the Bengals passing attack after scoring his third and fourth touchdown over the past three games, all coming inside the red zone. Tying AJ Green with a team high nine targets, Sanu’s has a lock on the number two wide receiver role in Cincy. Be forewarned that, similar to Santana Moss, yardage alone will not sustain a “startable” status meaning Sanu has become a high end WR4.

Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis ran like a man possessed ripping through the Raiders defense to the tune of 129 yards on 19 carries with an early game touchdown. His day should have went beast mode had he not been stuffed twice on the goal line, while being relieved during garbage time by fellow back Cedric Peerman. Green-Ellis has now scored three touchdowns in the past four games, but with the Chargers third ranked rush defense upcoming, owners need explore all options as the Law Firm should be considered a high end RB3.

If you’re not already doing so, it’s time to start Jermaine Gresham. He just keeps producing every week.


Pittsburgh 14, Cleveland 20


Charlie Batch played absolutely terrible on Sunday throwing the football all over the park with a limp arm as evident by his three interceptions. Playing the role of “check-down-Charlie”, Emmanuel Sanders became the only viable fantasy option picking up 75 yards on five receptions. Batch’s struggles, combined with a very conservative game plan, severely hinders the fantasy value of all Steelers wide receivers, especially Mike Wallace who is now considered a risky WR3 option.

The Steelers three headed monster at running back looks to have morphed into a four way RBBC as Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman, Rashard Mendenhall and Chris Rainey all touched the football. Ironically all four managed to lose a fumble, while Rainey was only player to reach the endzone. This backfield has been relegated to a fantasy no-man’s-land.


This was a game of turnovers as Cleveland’s DST stole the football eight times. With so many turnovers, combined with the Steelers inability to score points, the Browns went ultra conservative running the football 34 times, chewing up clock, and rolling with a win.

Although run heavy play calling will hinder the passing production of any team, we should note Josh Gordon continues to pace the Browns passing attack targeted seven times, hauling in four passes totaling 60 yards. Although mediocre production by our standards, this effort bodes well for Gordon’s upcoming matchups (Oak, KC, Was) putting him in the realm of a lower WR3 should you need help.


Buffalo 13, Indianapolis 20


The boring game of the week goes to the Bills vs. Colts. Unable to sustain drives each team scored just one offensive touchdown. For the Bills it was tight end Lee Smith (I couldn’t make this up). The only player who is an every week starter for the Bills is CJ Spiller, otherwise I’ve got nothing.


Former Colts number two wide receiver Donnie Avery has officially been passed by TY Hilton (the only Colts player to score an offensive touchdown). The difficulty we find is the sporadic target distribution. Over the past four games Hilton’s targets are as follows; 11, 1, 9, 3. Playing on a team willing to throw the football, Hilton should be considered a low end WR3.

The only other reportable news from the Colts side of the football is the continued timeshare between Vick Ballard and Donald Brown. Ballard starts, but the two continue splitting possessions right down the middle. Neither had a particularly great day as both will cross cancel each other. It’s worth noting that Ballard continues to be the superior player.


Denver 17, Kansas City 9


After the loss of Willis McGahee, the Broncos led fantasy owners to believe Ronnie Hillman would be the starting running back throughout the week. Denver then pulled the old bait-and-switch promoting fourth stringer Knowshon Moreno into the starting role just minutes before the game. As the teams newest three-down-back, Moreno will most certainly be a hot waiver wire addition with soft postseason fantasy schedule. Swoop him up if you can.


Newly inserted starter Brady Quinn was given leeway in the Chiefs’ offense taking a handful of deep shots. However, lacking downfield accuracy, Quinn was never able to connect forcing the Chiefs to settle for field goals. As stated last week, Quinn is not an NFL caliber starting quarterback causing a heavy decline in production for wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. Up next is Carolina’s middle of the road pass defense as Bowe is now relegated to a very low end WR3, at best.


Seattle 21, Miami 24


Despite the loss, Russell Wilson continues to elevate his game every week of the season delivering 224 yards and two touchdowns in this contest. Unfortunately, neither score landed in the hands of number one wide receiver Sydney Rice. Up next for the Hawks is the stiff Chicago defense as Rice will have low end WR3 status, while Wilson should be relegated to QB2 status.


Reggie Bush has become more confusing than a Rubix Cube. Topping seven fantasy points once in the past five games, Bush ran straight through the once stiff Seattle run defense for 87 yards and one touchdown. Bush is the epitome of a fantasy headache as he will surely let owners down in the single elimination playoffs. Only start him if you’re desperate. We should note fellow ball carrier Daniel Thomas also carried the football nine times for 60 yards and a touchdown. Let the RBBC continue.

The other breakout performer for the Fins was wide receiver Devone Bess. Topping 10 fantasy points in each of the past two weeks, Bess will surely be mentioned during the upcoming free agent period. However, Bess has been a perennial third down chain mover throughout his career, and I don’t see that suddenly changing. Relying on Bess will prove costly during the fantasy postseason.


Atlanta 24, Tampa Bay 23


Facing the league’s worst passing defense, Matt Ryan was poised for a monster game. Instead it was the ground game doing all the scoring after punching in two uncontested touchdowns from the one yard line. Offense production on the ground relegated the QB1 into a reduced role. Disgruntled fantasy owners should keep Ryan in the lineup with the Saints next on the schedule, a team Ryan torched for 31 fantasy points in week 10.

The Falcons have been slowly gravitating towards a timeshare in the backfield between running backs Michael Turner and Jaquizz Rodgers. Both were able to score a touchdown in this game, but it was Rodgers (10 carries, 49 yards) continually out producing Turner (12 carries, 17 yards). As stated every week, Turner owners will need a touchdown in order for the plodding runner to have solid fantasy value. Despite his poor on field performance, it’s hard to argue with production, and Turner keeps delivering. Most fantasy owners don’t have better options.


Wide receiver Mike Williams has fallen off the fantasy cliff of late averaging four fantasy points per game over the past three weeks. In his defense, Williams was wide open in the corner of the endzone but severely overthrown by Josh Freeman. With the stiff Broncos defense upcoming, Williams is a shaky WR3 play.

Dallas Clark continues to play an expanded role in the Bucs passing game hauling in four receptions for 65 yards in this game. Still amongst the high end TE2, Clark is a player to watch moving forward should you need help in the tight end department.


Tennessee 19, Jacksonville 24


Jake Locker continues to prove his college scouting report correct as he was widely inaccurate with a number of passes. Although Kenny Britt did find paydirt, trusting any Titans wide receiver is next to impossible.


Last week’s hot waiver pickup Jalen Parmele was injured in his first start as the Jags full time running back. After sitting out Parmele returned to action only to aggravate the injury and end his day. In his replacement was former starter Rashad Jennings who managed 16 carries for 43 yards and one touchdown. Averaging a meager 2.7 yards per carry, Jennings proved once again why the coaches benched him last week. However, so long as MJD and Parmele are sidelined, Jennings has very low end RB2 appeal. Should Parmele return, he would most definitely be inserted as the starter given Jennings’ struggles.

I was an early skeptic on Cecil Shorts (105 yards, one touchdown) production when he stepped onto the scene thinking; “yeah, but it’s the Jags”. I’m here to tell you this guy is the man and deserves to be started every week as solid WR2.

The other player to have emerged with the insertion of Chad Henne is Jags first round pick Justin Blackmon. This week the big bodied wide receiver followed up this gigantic week 11 performance with another solid performance amassing 62 yards and a touchdown. Similar to Shorts, I’m a skeptic, but it’s hard to argue with production. Up next for the Jags is the lackluster Bills pass defense making Blackmon a risk / reward WR3.

As for Henne himself, he has certainly entered the conversation as a very low end QB1 after two solid performances. A possible spot starter should you need help due to injury or a tough matchup.


Baltimore 13, San Diego 16


Nothing really new coming out of Baltimore. Ray Rice is beast and Torrey Smith is the only viable wide receiver as a week-to-week starter. Joe Flacco and Dennis Pitta continue to fly across our fantasy radar, but wildly inconsistent making them tough to trust on a weekly basis. Enough said.


San Diego is another team who are completely predictable. Malcolm Floyd is a red zone threat given his superior height as evident by his 21 yard touchdown reception. Danario Alexander (five receptions, 74 yards) is the most prolific wide receiver on the team and worthy of starting nearly every week. Phillip Rivers, Antonio Gates and Ryan Mathews are borderline starters who had much higher expectations entering the season. But you already knew all that.


San Francisco 31, New Orleans 21


Watching the 49ers it’s hard to see anything but a completely dominant defense. Better weigh all your options before starting anybody against the staunch San Fran D.

Colin Kaepernick continued to build on his amazing week 11 performance adding 231 yards, one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown. Likely to retain the starting gig, Kaepernick is breathing new life into the entire 49ers offense while the young quarterback is now approaching very low end QB1 value.


Despite playing the league most dominant defense, Drew Brees threw for 267 yards and five touchdowns. Unfortunately two of those scores went to the 49ers. He’ll shake this one off.

The power struggle at the Saints running back position continues as Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram were the lead ponies with eight and 10 carries respectively. Adding to the confusion is the return of scatback Darren Sproles into the mix. Sproles wasn’t relied upon until late in the game coming out of the backfield picking up 65 receiving yards after the game was out of control. I suspect his role in the New Orleans offense will increase as the hand continues to heal, adding further confusion to an already muddy situation.


St. Louis 31, Arizona 17


Steven Jackson has found new life since trade rumors circulated four week ago. For nearly a decade Jackson has been the only thing worth watching in St. Louis. Perhaps smelling the end of his long career in the Gateway City, he has been putting on a show for the fans delivering solid production for fantasy owners. Buyer beware as Jackson will play the staunch 9ers defense in week 12 (as mentioned above).

Two weeks removed from his team mandated suspension, Chris Givens returned to startable status hooking with Sam Bradford on five receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown. Since taking over the role as the Rams number one wide receiver, Givens has not disappointed and now amidst the ranks of the upper WR3, except next week.


As of late the Cardinals have been in complete disarray as evident by their starting of rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley.  All the rookie did was toss four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns as the Cards got waxed by the Rams. He’s drowning this team.

With a rookie under center, teams are game planning to eliminate Larry Fitzgerald (three catches, 31 yards), daring the young gun slinger to throw the ball elsewhere. As a result Andre Roberts finished the day with 9 balls for 91 yards. Larry Fitzgerald production over the past five games suggests WR4 type value, but he’s nearly impossible to recommend sitting. Roll the dice at your own risk.

This game also saw the return of Beanie Wells after a seven game absence. Averaging 2.8 yards per carry, Wells found it tough sledding against a swarming Rams defense but did reward fantasy owners with two touchdowns. Up next for Wells is the 30th ranked Jets rush giving Arizona running back RB2 status.


Green Bay 10, New York 38


The Packers ran into a hornets’ nest as the New York Giants defense applied unrelenting pressure to quarterback Aaron Rodgers from the word “go”. Jordy Nelson was the only Packers wide receiver to break free opening the game with a 61 yard touchdown. After that it was all New York.

The only other news from this game was the continued use of RBBC by the Packers. James Starks opened the game in the Packers backfield, but as promised last week Alex Green was provided increased opportunity. In my humble opinion Starks is the more dominant runner as Green has been nothing more than three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust.  Neither is a viable fantasy option, as Green isn’t even worth a roster spot.


All you Eli Manning owners can breathe a sigh of relief as the gun slinger returned to his Super Bowl form tossing for 249 yards and three touchdowns. Completely dismantling the Green Bay secondary Manning brought Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Martellus Bennett back to fantasy relevancy. Bennett owners should recognize the vicious shot taken by the tight end in the waning minutes of the game. Monitor his status in the coming week.

Although Ahmad Bradshaw had a very solid day with 109 all purpose yards and a touchdown, fantasy owners must have been throwing objects at the TV as the Giants running back was dropped on the one yard line after a 59 yard reception. In comes Andre Brown for another touchdown vulture. Bradshaw later scored what should have been a third touchdown, only to be negated by a holding penalty. We should note that Brown left the game with an ankle injury, as Bradshaw would return to high RB2 value should Brown miss action.


“Good enough is never good enough”

Coach Bill Parcells

About Eric Hartvigson