"Oh. Hi Michael Bush. How have you been? Yeah, I remember you at Louisville. Congratulations on the great game. No, I don't think you've got the greatest future ahead of you, but when healthy, you are a dynamite running back. Why don't I think you've got the greatest future ahead of you?
Well, you're going to be 28 years old by next season for one. You're also a free agent, and while you'll probably go find a starting job somewhere, the Raiders have proven to be one of the best systems for running backs recently. There's no guarantee you'll find the same success in say.. Seattle. And then there's that whole injury history thing.
The good news is that you just broke a Raiders record: 242 yards from scrimmage being the most by a Raider since the AFL-NFL merger. You scored a touchdown and blew up for 30 fantasy points, giving many owners great hope that they're going to win this week, and it's not even the weekend yet. But it's the weekend for you, and enjoy it. Darren McFadden will possibly be good to go to play the Vikings next week and you'll return to being one of the better backups this week. Maybe your owners who don't have McFadden should try and sell you to that owner right now. Like... right now!
Thanks for chatting Mike."
Other things that happened:
Carson Palmer threw for 299 yards, 2 TD/1 INT. He has five TDs in his two starts, and has a few favorable matchups left on the schedule. I pondered to one of our writers, Mike Gallagher, if he was a top 12 QB rest of season. I'd say he is.
Jacoby Ford got hurt.
Denarius Moore had 123 yards and 2 TDs, undoubtedly making him one of the hottest pickups. Not a bad idea if Ford misses a lot of time.
Philip Rivers threw for 274 yards, 2 TD/1 INT. He has 15 INTs now. Still a good fantasy QB in recent weeks.
All in all, the Chargers once again look like the most under-achieving team in the league. Will they win their last seven games, like they always seem to do? I don't know about that, but if Marty Schottenheimer can get fired after going 14-2, why the hell is Norv Turner going to get a sixth season? He's not.
Onto the preview of the rest of the week:
The Five Sleepers
I could go Blaine Gabbert here, but he hasn't really done much to make me think he can have a great game against anybody right now. Let's be honest: you wouldn't play Blaine Gabbert even if I cut the legs off of the guy you're already starting. It's a phenomenal matchup, but it's also Blaine Gabbert, the guy who has five TD passes in five starts and is completing 45.7% of his passes. But that doesn't mean one of his receivers can't have a good day.
The former Washington State standout has three touchdowns in his last four games and though he's only topped 100 yards once, he faces a unit that's giving up 260 passing yards a game and a league-high 18 passing touchdowns. I would expect Hill to get something like 4 balls for 80 yards and a score.
Deep sleeper right here, but it's a situation to keep an eye on. A new rumor today says that Beanie Wells could really use a week of rest on his injured knee. The only running back in Arizona that's NOT dealing with injuries is Alfonso Smith.
The Eagles rush defense has steadily improved this season, then they got gashed by Matt Forte, but he's a pretty good running back from what I hear. Smith is not. Smith is pretty average. But opportunity reigns supreme and if Wells is unable to go and Larod Stephens-Howling is too banged up, Smith could get 10-15 touches and goal line duty. If I owned Beanie Wells, I'd already have Smith on my bench just in case.
I always like to give you one quarterback, just in case. Ponder faces Green Bay on Monday night and there's good news and bad news. Good news: The Packers have given up 16 passing touchdowns this year, third most in the NFL. Bad news: They've intercepted 16 passes, most in the NFL. Good news: They are 31st in passing defense, giving up 300 yards per game. Bad news: The Vikings are on the road, and the rookie makes his first start at Lambeau.
The Monday night crew will spend two hours praising Aaron Rodgers, but they'll also spend considerable time talking about "this kid looks great, he's going to be very special."
When you've watched football as long as I have you find out two things: the games are hard to predict and the announcers are so easy predict that you can pretty much say what they're going to say before they do. Monday Night Football drinking games will ruin your Tuesday.
Lots of questions from you folks about whether to start Josh Cribbs this week, and I'd definitely start him in return leagues. Otherwise, I like Greg Little. He's been targeted 20 more times than any other receiver in Cleveland, and though he's had his struggles (catching only 52% of those targets) let's be fair to the rookie. Wide receivers usually take time to adjust to the league. That being said, he has 21 catches in his last four weeks for 188 yards. Not spectacular, but he's got a spectacular matchup.
The Rams have given up 15 passing touchdowns this year, and why not just go out on a limb here and say that Little gets the first of his career on Sunday.
1. Chris Johnson versus the Panthers
Has it really come to this CJ2K? Really? That you'll wind up on my "Sleepers" list? You were a top three pick, owners only concerned that you would hold out into the regular season. Maybe you should have held out and saved yourself the embarrassment.
Johnson has rushed for a minimum of 1200 yards in each season of his career. He rushed for 2,006 yards and 14 touchdowns, with 503 yards receiving in 2009. He's been a Pro Bowler every year. Last year he was "disappointing" and he had 1,364 yards with 11 TDs and another TD through the air. Johnson is the epitome of why owners are afraid to give running backs long-term contracts. The Cowboys just found their running back of the future in the third round and he's signed for pennies on the value of his dollar. This year Johnson is rushing for 3 yards per carry and has a single touchdown. The only bright spot being his 206 yards receiving, easily on his way to the second highest total of his career in that department, if not a new high. But you need to get something done on the ground, and you're losing traction to Javon Ringer.
This week he faces the Carolina Panthers, a team that's given up 11 rushing scores, a three-way tie for worst in the NFL. They also give up 133 yards per game. The least amount of rushing yards they've given up this season is 92. Man up Chris. We're over this game. Act like you earned that contract.
The Five That Struggle
With Ahmad Bradshaw out again, Jacobs gets the majority of work and this time does it in San Francisco. Good luck Brandon. The 49ers have allowed three less touchdowns than Baltimore has. The Ravens have allowed three. Could San Fran go a whole season without allowing a rushing score? That would be pretty insane, but they're halfway there. The Niners give up 3.5 yards per carry and have allowed one carry of 20+ yards. I'd stay far away from Jacobs.
Revis is going to show up on this list every week. Every. Week. He has allowed 12 catches this season. Rex Ryan calls him the "best player in the NFL" and it's certainly an argument you can make. The recent headlines state that Calvin Johnson and Revis are the "new faces of the NFL" and that's certainly a reasonable statement.
In their first matchup, Welker caught 3 passes for 77 yards when defended by Revis, most of those coming on one miscommunication between Revis and safety Eric Smith that allowed Welker to get behind them. Sure, he's one of the smartest players in the NFL, but can Welker have a repeat performance?
The Pats aren't the same offense today that they were a few weeks ago. Well.. they're the "same" but they are slowing down considerably. I'm not saying you bench Welker, but he's going to have a long day.
3. Marshawn Lynch versus the Ravens
This might as well just say "Seahawks." The Ravens have allowed nine offensive touchdowns in eight games, and the Hawks are one of the worst offenses in the NFL. Long days for Sidney Rice, Lynch, and anyone else you thought about starting. Too bad. Lynch is starting to look pretty legit.
Houston has significantly improved their pass defense from last season, going from last in the NFL to second and only 10 TDs given up in nine games. Meanwhile, Freeman has struggled to find his place after being a popular draft pick expected to blow up this year. Instead, he's blown up in the negative sense. Don't expect a good day from Josh.
Haden could be the next cornerback to get his own island. He's pretty quickly developed into one of the top defensive players in the game, and you have to start seriously considering him when setting your lineups. Lloyd has struggled to catch balls throughout his career, and he'll be shadowed all day by Haden on the struggling Rams offense.
The Five to Buy Like Apple Pie
By the way, am I the only person seriously annoyed by McDonalds now asking you if you want an apple pie EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU GO THERE? Wouldn't I have ordered an apple pie if I wanted one? I also didn't order two fish filets, but you aren't asking me if I somehow forgot to order two additional filet'o'fishes. I've shown enough restraint to limit myself to "only" 3000 calories on my order, please don't add anything else. Thanks.
Arizona has given up 11 rushing touchdowns. They're defense is pretty bad. They are pretty bad. The Eagles should be leading by 14 in the first quarter and then go McCoy-McCoy-McCoy. Anything less than 150 total yards and two scores would be a disappointment. PS - McCoy is the "cutest" player in the NFL, and I don't mean that in a weird way, he just looks like a beanie baby or something. He looks like he'd be the hottest selling toy for Christmas this year.
4. Matt Ryan and Drew Brees versus Each Other
Another critical divisional matchup this week, this time the Saints versus the Falcons, in the comfy confines of the dome in Atlanta. I expect Ryan to have a good day against a defense that has given up 14 TDs versus 4 INTs. I expect Brees to have a good day because he's Brees. How about a nice old fashioned shootout, not unlike Rodgers versus Rivers last week.
Champ Bailey Shmamp Shmailey.
The Broncos are giving up 258 yards a game in the air and 17 passing touchdowns. The talent of Bowe has surpassed the talent of Bailey. Jacoby Ford had 105 yards against them. Calvin Johnson had 125 yards against them. Brandon Marshall had a decent day: 6 catches for 61 yards. And I'm only going back three games.
I'll take Bowe for 100 yards and a score.
Do I have to shake some sense into you people? Why are there still sit/start questions with DeMarco Murray?
Fact: Murray is one of the top 10 running backs in the NFL, and the only reason he's not being considered one is because he's new. Don't let being "new" fool you. Look at the top running backs in the NFL and tell me which ones were first round picks or weren't surprises at the beginning of their careers.
Arian Foster, Fred Jackson, Matt Forte, Frank Gore, Michael Turner, Ray Rice... none of these guys were top of the line running backs when they came into the league. They were a ball of potential, just like Murray.
The Bills also have given up 10 rushing touchdowns.
Watch Murray actually play, and then tell me he is not a sure-fire first round pick next year. I predict he'll go top 5.
1. Greg Jennings and Aaron Rodgers versus the Vikings
No doubters here. I'll take the whole passing offense of the Packers on Monday night versus the soft passing defense of Minnesota. It's the perfect stage for Green Bay and the amount of praise thrown upon them by Jaws and Gruden will be sickening, and probably deserved. Rodgers has won the MVP and Jennings is his go-to guy. A minimum of three touchdowns for Rodgers, and at least one to Jennings, and one to Jermichael Finley, and maybe another one to Jordy Nelson. Just a good idea all-around here.
I also don't scoff at the idea of Adrian Peterson having a good game.
Follow me on twitter @casetines. I don't always tweet about fantasy sports, but it's the best way for you to ask me weekend advice on who to sit/start.
- So if the Chiefs beat the Broncos, they'll stay tied for first. But if they don't, you'll have the Broncos in a three-way tie for second place and the Raiders in the lead. I'm completely over the idea that the Chargers "should" win the AFC West. They play terrible defense, they make too many mistakes, and they absolutely deserve to be where they are. With Carson Palmer, the Raiders look like a legit bet to win the West, but I would be surprised if they won more than a wild card game.
- I think Tebow will have another good fantasy game, even if he only completes 10 passes. He's a top 12 fantasy QB, without any doubt in my mind. He's just not a top 30 NFL QB, and those are entirely different things.
- I wanted to buy on Matt Cassel this week, but he sucked it up against the Dolphins last week, so forget him. I don't got your back at all Matt.
- The Bills travel to Dallas and they absolutely have to prove that they belong in the playoff conversation. Getting to 5-3 is great for them, but it would be the first time we saw a surprise first half team fall all the way back to earth and then some in the second half. I have seen it happen with my Seahawks. I could see it happening with the Bills, a team that plays really suspect defense, and is getting by mostly on wits on offense. They could literally go 6-10.
- The Eagles were right on the cusp of getting to 4-4 and then they looked flat against the Bears, a team that looked much better than them all around. Michael Vick has been exposed somewhat as a QB that can throw a dart, but it's a super low dart that oftentimes flies right into the lap of the defense. And he is not running it into the end zone like he used to. They should absolutely destroy the Cards this week, but if they don't, forget 'em. Playoffs: Over.
- The Colts play at home against the Jags. If the Colts don't win this week, the first pick should be theirs. If you can't take care of business against Jacksonville at home, then you can't possibly win a game. Unless Peyton Manning decides to return later in the year. If they do win, they'll have as many wins as the Rams and Dolphins (if those teams don't win) and we've got a race again.
- The Rams are at Cleveland (a team that is honestly one of the worst five teams in football, they've just happened to play three terrible teams and won) and the Dolphins host the Redskins, so they actually could both get to two wins this weekend.
- If the Falcons beat the Saints, and they have a legit shot to, then they'll be in first place. Interesting, considering that they looked kind of crappy to start the year.
- Where are you Roddy White?
- The Bengals host the Steelers, and like the Bills, this is a really huge game for them. The big difference is that the Bengals are a legit top 10 defense. They rotate well on the defensive line, they've got good players in the secondary, and they've got a good game manager in Andy Dalton. The Steelers need this win badly after getting swept by the Ravens.
- If the Texans move to 7-3 then they have pretty much sewn up the AFC South. I think there is a pretty good chance that Houston is the best team in the AFC. The Ravens have their argument, but Matt Schaub > Joe Flacco. The Texans and Lions would be my dream Super Bowl scenario, excluding the Seahawks obviously.
- I've been a Houston fan since they came into the league and a Lions fan since around the time they drafted Charles Rogers.
- Do you remember that Rogers started off his career pretty hot? The injuries are what killed him.
- Cam Newton draws the Titans. While Megatron and Revis could be the face of the league now, Newton is going to be right there with him when he starts winning games.
- San Francisco has done some crazy damage on the east coast, but the tides are turned and the Giants travel to San Francisco. (San Francisco.... Giants... funny) I think the 49ers are a legit Super Bowl contender. But they absolutely have to take down New York in order to prove that.
- There is a three-way tie in the AFC East now. But that will be only one or two after Sunday when the Patriots travel to the Jets. If the Bills lose, then there will only be one. It's a tough call for me. I'll go ahead and say that the Jets are in first place after Sunday.
- Questions and comments, throw them down below and I will be here all day.