Monday Morning Takeaway – Week 14

Denver 26, Oakland 13


If you had Knowshon Moreno pegged as a solid start facing the 31 ranked Raider rush defense, and you were right. Now the lead ball carrier in the Denver backfield, Moreno touched the ball 36 times, accumulating 22 fantasy points. Even more encouraging was Knowshon taking goal line looks, while punching in his third attempt. With the 21st ranked Baltimore up next on the schedule, Moreno looks to be a solid option once again as a higher RB2.

Owners of Demaryius Thomas got a scare as the WR1 was taken to the locker room in the first quarter of Thursday night’s matchup after injuring his shoulder. Scare averted as Thomas was able to return in the second half. Given 10 days to heal up, Thomas should be good-to-go facing a leaky Baltimore secondary.


Darren McFadden made his triumphant return to the starting lineup after missing four games with a high ankle sprain. During the week prior we were led to believe DMC would be on a “limited snap count”.  That was a damn lie as McFadden carried the ball early and often picking up 64 yards on 13 touches including a six yard touchdown reception. However, McFadden would once again leave the game after re-aggravating the same ankle injury. Early reports are calling the malady a mere tweak, as head coach Dennis Allen was quoted as saying “I don’t think it should keep him out any time”. Funny, the same quote we heard before McFadden missed his last four game stint. DMC owners should be watching those practice reports.

Rod Streater has jumped onto the scene of late picking up 196 yards and a touchdown over the past two weeks. In this game Streater’s highlight was a 58 yard strike off the arm of Carson Palmer. A Preseason deeeeep sleeper, if you are absolutely desperate at the wide receiver position, Streater could be a worth a look as an upper WR4.

Coming off 15 targets the week prior, and facing the leagues 32nd ranked defense against tight ends, Brandon Myers was widely projected as a top 6 tight end coming into this game. Instead Myers was targeted just twice, pulling down one pass for a measly seven yards. The cause of Myers poor performance was the unrelenting pressure applied by Von Miller. Unable to slow down the pro-bowler, Oakland was forced use Myers as an extra blocker, essentially killing his fantasy production. I still see Myers as a lower TE1.


St. Louis 15, Buffalo 12


On paper it would appear newcomer Chris Givens had a down game, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying as Givens was targeted a team high 10 times, but only able to pull down three passes for 25 yards. Much blame could be placed on the inaccuracy of Sam Bradford, while Givens had a handful of drops. His day could have been respectable after nearly scoring a touchdown, but pushed out of bounds at the one yard line. Steven Jackson would eventually get the goal line plunge. With Minnesota next on the schedule, Givens remains a lower WR3 with upside.


Every week the postgame comments are the same from head coach Chan Gailey, “we need to get Spiller more involved”. And every week its Fred Jackson taking a majority of the Bills snaps despite a decrease in yards per carry. However, next week I will assure you Spiller will lead the team in touches as F-Jax has suffered a “serious knee injury” after taking a helmet to the knee. Owners beware as the Bills face the stiff Seattle rush defense as Spiller is a mid RB2.

Returning from last week’s hamstring injury, Stevie Johnson had another workman like performance with six receptions for 71 yards. Stevie J has become the definition of a rock solid mid WR3 hitting right around the eight fantasy point mark every game.


Dallas 20, Cincinnati 19


DeMarco Murray proved once again that the foot is healed enough to produce solid fantasy numbers grinding out 75 yards while scoring his second touchdown in as many games. However, with the angry Pittsburgh Steelers traveling to Jerry World next weekend, it would be wise to find other options as Murray is a very low end RB2.

Coming off back-to-back weeks of two targets, Miles Austin actually paced the Boys receivers with 10 targets. However, Austin was only able to pull down four receptions for 46 yards while being held out of the endzone. Austin has proven to a very risky start made even less attractive with the aforementioned Steelers next on the schedule.


For the second straight week Andy Dalton starts the game on fire, this time hooking up with Andrew Hawkins for a shovel pass touchdown on the Bengals opening drive. After that Dalton went missing for much of the game only able to accumulate 206 yards and one interception on the day. Dalton’s outing could have been improved had AJ Green not dropped a walk in touchdown late in the game. With the burnable Eagles secondary next on the schedule, Dalton should produce mid QB1 numbers. Furthermore, owners should be made aware of a week 16 matchup with Pittsburgh forthcoming as Dalton would fall to a high end QB2.

Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis continues to produce at a high level tearing through the banged and battered Dallas defensive line averaging 7.4 yards per carry. Underutilized, the Law Firm only received 12 carries pulling down 89 rushing yards. Green-Ellis will be a mid / lower RB2 facing the 11th ranked Philly rush defense next week.


Kansas City 7, Cleveland 30


The Chiefs started this game in high speed as Jamal Charles took the opening handoff for an 80 yard touchdown. Dwayne Bowe then showed up adding 70 quick yards on the team’s next possessions. Just when things were looking up it all came crumbling down like a house of cards as Bowe would be forced out of the game with two broken ribs. The Chiefs offense sputtered for the remainder of the game, only crossing the 50 yard line once more.


I keep saying it every week, but Josh Gordon is developing into a special talent. All he did in this game was catch eight balls for 86 yards on 12 targets. His day could have been a whole lot better had he not been shoved out of bounds at the Chiefs three yard line. He was also targeted on three other occasions in the red zone. Gordon has one more plus matchup next week facing the 30th ranked Skins pass defense. Get him in your lineup as a high end WR3. After that it’s back to the bench.

Veteran tight end Benjamin Watson has made his presence felt of late becoming a player of intrigue. Although the box score shows three receptions for 43 yards, what we don’t see are three red zone targets, one of which Watson hauled in for a touchdown negated by an illegal shift. Oddly enough Trent Richardson then caught the touchdown only to be called for offensive pass interference. Owners struggling at the tight end position could do worse than Watson who offers very low end TE1 appeal.


Tennessee 23, Indianapolis 27


Jake Locker is becoming a conundrum of the highest order. At times he’s a world beater with tremendous accuracy and timely decision making as evident by his 213 yards and one touchdown first half. Then he’s erratic with the football staring down his wide receivers made clear by his second half performance including 43 yards passing and two interceptions, the first of which resulted in a Colts pick-six. Of course Kenny Britt owners won’t complain as the preseason favorite is finally delivering with three straight games over eight fantasy points. With the tough Jets defense next on the schedule, Locker is high QB2 while Britt is a low end WR3.

Losing four starting linemen over the past two games, Chris Johnson found little running room as the Colts defense did an excellent job closing on the speedy running back. Those linemen aren’t coming back any time soon, making Johnson a mid / lower RB2 facing the Jets next week.

Jared Cook was in the mix early pulling down all three targets for 20 yards and a touchdown. Just when things were looking up, Cook exited the game with a shoulder injury and headed to the locker for the remainder of the game. Next week’s availability is still uncertain.


Vick Ballard took the start in the Colts backfield after fellow Indy running back Donald Brown suffered an ankle injury causing him to miss this weekend’s contest with the Titans. Ballard is a solid talent taking 19 carries for 94 yard. On the downside, he was stuffed on the one yard line twice. The first resulted in a Reggie Wayne one yard touchdown reception the other was a Delone Carter touchdown plunge. Nerve racking! Up next is the daunting Texans rush defense placing Ballard as a very low end RB2.

Recent rookie phenom TY Hilton cooled off as he was only targeted a five times reeling in two receptions for 50 yards. Fellow emerging star Donnie Avery was also held in check. Despite being targeted nine times, Avery had a meager three receptions for 31 yards. Avery could have salvaged his day, but missed a clear touchdown that hit him square in the facemask that would have iced the game. A tough go for fantasy owners hoping for big numbers facing playoff elimination. If you squeaked through, both are lower WR3 facing a good Houston team in week 15.


Chicago 14, Minnesota 21


Starting quarterback Jay Cutler was forced to leave the game with what the Bears are calling a neck injury, as Cutler is calling himself “day-to-day”. Jason Campbell filled in for Cutler tossing a 16 yard strike to Brandon Marshall for a touchdown. Should Cutler’s absence linger, Campbell will be asked to fill the vacated role. Brandon Marshall would have diminished value, but no way we’re sitting him now.

The only player of note from the Bears side of the ball, other than Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall, was Alshon Jeffery (three receptions, 57 yards and one touchdown).  Missing much of this season with a variety of injuries, Jeffery lacks consistency to warrant consideration.


Adrian Peterson. Enough said.


San Diego 34, Pittsburgh 24


The surprise game of the day as San Diego took it to the mighty Steelers in Pittsburgh. As suggested last week, the one player who continues to perform for the Chargers on a weekly basis, even amidst a poor season, is Danario Alexander. In this game DX started slowly but eventually teed off on the Pittsburgh secondary minus Ike Taylor picking up 88 yards and two touchdowns. He remains a rock solid starter the rest of the way.

With a decimated offensive line, and facing the fifth ranked rush defense, Ryan Mathews did his best to grind out 65 tough yards on 25 carries. Even after missing the first two games of the season, Mathews has been a major disappointment only topping double digit fantasy points once all year. However, with the Chargers playing loose, Mathews will be solid start squaring off against the 27th ranked Panthers rush defense next week in San Diego.


A normally stout Pittsburgh defense looked more like the Aluminum Curtain as Phillip Rivers had his way. Being dominated on defense negated the Steelers rushing attack as evident by Jonathan Dwyer’s eight carries for 32 yards. On the plus side, Dwyer appears to have taken the top spot as the Steelers starting rotation facing the anemic Cowboys rush defense next week has him projected as a mid / upper RB2.

Despite the numbers, Big Ben struggled for much of this game putting up nearly half of his 285 yards late in the fourth quarter including two of his three touchdowns. But as the old saying goes, “they don’t ask how, they only ask how many”.

This game was the perfect storm for Mike Wallace to break back on the scene. As the Steelers fell behind, and with Big Ben returning under center, the deep threat was a green light. All he did was torch the Chargers secondary for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Wallace has officially earned the right to considered amongst the mid WR3 range.

Heath Miller continues to play at a pro-bowl level. Owners should be curing the fantasy Gods as Miller could have doubled his six fantasy points after being dropped at the one yard line late in the game only to give way to Antonio Brown’s touchdown. With Big Ben’s return, Miller is again solidified as a mid TE1.


Philadelphia 23, Tampa Bay 21


A game that started out at a drunk-snail’s-pace suddenly got traction as quarterback Nick Foles ended the day with 381 yards and two touchdowns.  Foles also did his best Michael Vick impersonation scoring a third touchdown with his legs. Foles has become the sixth rookie starting quarterback, and like his compatriots has played leaps and bounds better with each start showing improved accuracy, properly reading the blitz, keeping his eyes downfield and making solid decisions with the football. The long term future looks bright although an impending matchup with Cincinnati has Foles as a high end QB2.

With the growth of Foles, the loss of DeSean Jackson for the season, Jason Avant prospered with 12 targets, seven receptions and 133 yards.  That brings his two game totals to 11 receptions for 202 yards. We should temper our enthusiasm as the Bucs are dead last against fantasy wide receivers. All told Avant is moving up the waiver wire to be considered a very low end WR3, only for the most desperate of fantasy owners.

Blazing onto the scene two weeks ago was Bryce Brown. However, it looks like the rookie met his match as the league’s best rush defense locked down the newcomer. Brown should be able to bounce back to upper RB2 against the 19th ranked Bengals rush defense forthcoming (baring an unlikely LeSean McCoy return).


Credit the Eagles for holding down the Bucs offense for much of the day as they were able to apply constant pressure on Josh Freeman holding the big bodied quarterback under 200 yards. in In the second half The Bucs finally got things moving in the right direction as Freeman found both Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson for touchdown strikes. We should note Freeman has an A+ matchup with the Saints next week, the same team he burned for 34 fantasy points in week seven.

Doug Martin had a grind-it-out-game as the Eagles were committed to stopping the run, adopting the same game plan presented by the Bucs previous two opponents. Despite the Eagles efforts, Martin still delivered 128 yards on 28 carries capped off by a four yard scoring run.

The recent production of Dallas Clark has drawn the attention of fantasy owners becoming a recent waiver addition in many leagues. In this game Clark was brought back to earth catching one pass for 19 yards in what should have been solid matchup. On the upside he continues to see red zone targets, but inconsistency makes Clark a tough start on a weekly basis.


Baltimore 28, Washington 31


Joe Flacco had himself a solid game tossing three touchdowns, two of which landed in the hands of Anquan Boldin including a dime to back corner of the endzone. Over the past two weeks Boldin has accumulated 159 yards and three touchdowns. With the Denver Broncos next on the schedule, and Champ Bailey likely to cover Torrey Smith, Boldin has a mid WR3 value.

Tight end Dennis Dickson was ruled inactive before the game allowing Dennis Pitta to reassert himself leading the team in targets with six for 46 yards and a touchdown. A roller coaster season, Pitta has been way to inconsistent to trust on a weekly basis


The lone knock on Robert Griffin III all season was the unnecessary hits he continues to take game-in and game-out. In the waning minutes of Sunday’s matchup with Baltimore, Griffin’s reckless style finally caught up with him taking a devastating hit to the knee from defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Griffin tried reentering the game, but unable to place any weight on the injured leg went straight back to the training table. The team is telling the media “no serious ligament damage is detected”. Just be forewarned that head coach Mike Shannahan is a notorious liar, especially when it comes to injury news. Make sure to have a plan B for the next week or two.

It’s worth noting that Curt Cousins came into the game following Griffin’s injury and immediately found Pierre Garcon for a touchdown strike, then ran in a two point conversion to tie up the game. I guess there is a silver lining for Garcon owners.


Atlanta 20, Carolina 30


Atlanta’s offense was absolutely dominated in the first half running a total of ten plays with a time of possession reading 23:48 to 6:12.  Falling behind 23-0, Atlanta was in comeback mode for much of the game being forced into a one dimensional aerial attack as Matt Ryan turned to old faithful Roddy White (nine receptions 117 yards and one touchdown) but also found Julio Jones (five receptions 66 yards and one touchdown).

With the Falcons trailing early Michael Turner was rendered to the backup role for much of the second half only able to pick up seven carries by games end. But in classic Turner style he managed to salvage his day with a late game touchdown dive. I don’t know how he does it every week, but I keep saying it’s hard to argue with production. Start Turner at your own risk.



Cam Newton looked like a man possessed rushing for 116 yards and one rushing touchdown coupled with 287 yards passing and two touchdowns. He’s good.

With Brandon LaFell missing in action Louis Murphy started opposite Steve Smith (seven receptions, 109 yards). Murphy was targeted nine times hauling in five passes for 36 yards. Running wide open down the sidelines Murphy’s day would have gone next level on a definite touchdown had Cam Newton not overthrown him. This one play solidifies the reason no Panthers wide receiver, other than Steve Smith, is worthy of starter consideration.

In back-to-back weeks Greg Olsen has scored the opening game touchdown only to go missing for much of the contest. Like Michael Turner listed above, it’s hard to dispute production as Olsen remains mid / lower TE1.

DeAngelo Williams finally had himself an solid game with 112 yards on 19 touches and one touchdown. Fantasy football managers should be aware that 53 yards and the score came in junk time with the Falcons playing down on the run. D-Will remains a higher RB3 so long as Jonathan Stewart ankle injury lingers.


New York 17, Jacksonville 10


The Rex Ryan signature ground-and-pound was alive and well as the Jets ran the football 39 times compared to just 19 pass attempts. In this game Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell mirrored each other performances as Greene carried the ball 20 times for 77 yards and one touchdown, while Powell had 19 carries for 78 yards and his own touchdown. With the Jets RBBC proving successful, Green and Powell will continue splitting time meaning both are a crap shoot as an upper RB3 with the Titans next on the schedule. It’s worth noting that Powell has scored four touchdowns in the past four games.


The Chad Henne experiment took a turn for the worse as the Jags starter totaled 185 yards, two interceptions and zero touchdowns. We could cite the loss of Cecil Shorts while playing against the sixth ranked Jets pass defense with Justin Blackmon was blanketed by Antonio Cromartie. Things do get easier heading to the 14th ranked Miami pass defense, and the hopeful return of Shorts.

Hello Montell Owens. During this game I thought to myself, “this dude has much more wiggle and burst than his 5’ 10” 225 lbs would suggest”. As the Jags newest three-down-back, Owens carried the rock 14 times for 91 yards and one touchdown. Granted the matchup was soft, but that’s still 6.5 yards per carry. Owens will get a tough test traveling to face the 10th ranked Miami rush defense. Consider Owens a lower RB2.


Miami 13, San Francisco 27


The use of Reggie Bush must be contingent on the opponent because the Fins decided this was the game to use a one-back system. Bush was seen in the backfield for a majority of the game as backup Daniel Thomas was handed the football just twice, the lowest total of any game Thomas has played in all season. Even more peculiar was seeing Bush taking carries in the redzone? Hard to know what to make of this effort as Thomas could very likely resume his role as a tandem backfield next week. Bush remains a risky lower RB2.

If you’re starting any of the Fins other players, odds are you aren’t playing the fantasy postseason.


Colin Kaepernick struggled for the third straight game saved by a 50 yard rushing touchdown just before the two minute warning. A fall from grace since his week 11 performance against the Bears in which the young signal caller looked like a world beater. He has been efficient as the 49ers quarterback, but a sketchy starter with aspirations of taking home your leagues championship trophy. Consider Kapernick a very low end QB1.

In three of the four games in which Kaepernick has started under center, Vernon Davis has been a complete non factor. That trend was solidified by Davis’ two targets, one reception for four yards. I’d rather be starting Ben Watson myself.


New Orleans 27, New York 52


With Chris Ivory ruled inactive before the game, it was Mark Ingram leading the Saints in carries at 13 for 68 yards. However, it was Darren Sproles leading the team in production with 84 yards and two touchdowns. As the team’s dual threat, Mighty Mouse remains the only New Orleans running back worthy of consideration facing the Buccaneers next week, who just so happen to be the league’s best rush defense.

Lance Moore suddenly went missing in this contest hauling in just one of his paltry four targets. This makes no sense as New Orleans was playing from behind for a majority of the ball game as evident by Drew Brees 43 pass attempts. A streaky WR3, Moore’s upside warrants starter consideration depending on your matchups.


Ahmad Bradshaw was seen on the sidelines having his knee examined by the training staff causing him to miss nearly a full quarters worth of action.  Bradshaw would return for limited number of reps, ultimately finishing the game with 11 carries for 33 yards.

Subbing in for Bradshaw was first round rookie David Wilson who finally saw his first extended duty with 13 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Made even more impressive was the rookie sensation returning a first quarter kickoff back for a touchdown. Wilson’s talent has been obvious, but the Giants have sighted fumbling issues along with an inability to pass protect, a common problem for young NFL players. Although Wilson’s role may be trending upward, Bradshaw is still the teams starter in close games.

Hakeem Nicks was seen running with a noticeable limp from the first snap, but played through an obvious aggravation of his ongoing knee issue. Reports have surfaced that Nicks received x-rays after the game, and as all signs indicate no further damage. Tough to sit, tough to start.


Arizona 0, Seattle 58


I assure you Arizona was on the field. I watched it. What I saw was a very frustrated Larry Fitzgerald as the future Hall-of-Famer has now fallen to the 40th ranked fantasy wide receiver. He’s best to be left on the bench.


Holy butt kicking Batman! Seattle’s DST absolutely brought the hammer, teeing off against the wobbly Cardinals offense. In this game Seattle had an interception for a touchdown, a muffed punt for a touchdown return, four interceptions total, four fumble recoveries, three sacks, also holding Arizona to 154 total yards and zero points. I don’t know how your league scoring goes, but I assume they had a nice day.

Marshawn Lynch also played a big role in this game as Best Mode did just. In fact, backup Robert Turbin even surpassed 100 yards while Leon Washington added his own rushing touchdown.  As a Seattle fan, it was a good day.

With the Seattle defense crushing the Cardinals, Russell Wilson and the Hawks passing game wasn’t needed.


Detroit 20, Green Bay 27


Funny watching a game with snow flurries on high definition. Looks like the old televisions in which we had to adjust the rabbit ears.

I say it every week, but Joique Bell is the best running back on this team for a multitude of reasons including; greater elusiveness, excellent visions and his abilities out of the backfield. The Lions coaching staff does not agree as Mikel Leshoure continues to pace the team in carries. Now sharing snaps, both players need a touchdown to reach fantasy starter status. Impossible to predict we should consider Bell and Leshoure as high RB3s.

Wide receiver Chris Durham, and not Mike Thomas started opposite Calvin Johnson. Hard to gauge Durham’s performance due to bad weather, although he did leave quarterback Matt Stafford high and dry failing to undercut the defender on a route resulting in an interception. Stafford’s roommate in college, and finishing the night with nine targets leads us to belive that Durham is here to stay. He would have low end desperation WR3 appeal if you are absolutely hurting at the position.

Brandon Pettigrew exited the game with a left ankle injury and did not return. If you are relying on Pettigrew, monitor his status throughout the week as his week 15 availability could be in doubt.


With James Starks gone for the remainder of the regular season, Alex Green assumed the starter role in the Packers backfield carrying the rock 13 times for 69 yards. Forever the RBBC proponent, head coach Mike McCarthy also used DuJuan Harris on seven carries including a 14 yard touchdown scamper up the middle untouched by the Lions defense. Even with Starks absence, it appears Green will not top 15 touches making him tough to rely on as anything more than a upper RB3.

About Eric Hartvigson