What a week in the NFL. There were a lot of exciting finishes and close games, injuries, surprises, blowouts, and Philip Rivers threw multiple interceptions.
So in other words, it was mostly just like every other week in the NFL.
Good news: Adrian Peterson will most likely not miss any games.
Bad news: Jay Cutler will miss the rest of the season.
If you're in a league deep enough to start Cutler, then you're probably in trouble because that means there are slim pickings on the waiver wire. Caleb Hanie takes over for Cutler and tries to keep the Bears winning streak alive and into the playoffs. It's unfortunate for Chicago, as I felt that they'd be the most dangerous team in the playoffs and give the Packers a real run for their money.
Hanie was a third-string quarterback last season after being undrafted out of Colorado State in 2008. He entered the NFC Championship Game last season and played well but it seems unlikely that he'd be anything more than an emergency QB in fantasy.
It's probably too late to snag Matt Moore, but he would be the best of the guys that were available before yesterday.
With two weeks left in most fantasy regular seasons, it's getting to be that time where you either make the playoffs or you don't. There will be a lot to go over in the following two weeks trying to get you prepared, so stick around. With three games on Thursday, you won't want to be late.
Onto this weeks games:
Bengals are Consistent; Failed Big Test Two Weeks in a Row
Two games ago, Cincinnati was 6-2 and wanted to prove that they belonged in the AFC North division-winner talks, but they had yet to play Pittsburgh or Baltimore. Last week against the Steelers, they fell short and lost by a touchdown, proving they might be close but they're not there yet.
This week they faced the Ravens with a chance to stay tied at the top with Pittsburgh but fell short again, and again lost by a touchdown, 31-24.
Andy Dalton wasn't spectacular, completing 24 of 45 for 373 yards, 1 TD/3 INT. The yards were a career-high, as were the interceptions. Dalton's completion % for the season has fallen under 60% and his QB rating has fallen under 80, making him look more and more like a rookie QB.
Cedric Benson had 41 yards on 15 carries and scored two TDs, doubling his season total on touchdowns. Still, he hasn't topped 100 yards since week 4. He has good matchups left against Cleveland, St. Louis, and Arizona.
Jerome Simpson was targeted 14 times and caught 8 passes for 152 yards. Simpson has more 100-yard games this season (3) than he does touchdowns (2.) As long as A.J. Green is out, Simpson will be the man. Andre Caldwell was targeted 10 times and caught 3 passes for 63 yards and a TD. Antrell Hawkins was targeted 8 times and had 4 for 47 and Jermaine Gresham was targeted 7 times and had 3 for 48. The Bengals should be able to roll over the Browns next week.
Joe Flacco threw multiple TDs for the first time since week 3: 17 of 27 for 270 yards, 2 TD/1 INT. Flacco had thrown 3 TDs total over his previous six games. His overall numbers are still worse than Dalton.
Ray Rice topped 100 yards for the first time since week six, gaining 104 on 20 carries with 2 TDs. He has six touchdowns in his last four games. He added 5 catches for 43 yards.
Torrey Smith had a huge day with 6 catches for 165 yards and a TD on 7 targets. It was a career-high in catches and yards. Anquan Boldin was only targeted twice and had one catch, but it was a 35 yard touchdown. Ed Dickson had 2 catches for 21 yards.
Browns Top Jags 14-10, Teams Issue This Statement to Fans: "We're so sorry. We're so, so, so, so, so sorry. We'll try to be better next year."
It's ironic that this game had an exciting finish, because otherwise you would have never known it existed. These are two teams in the very depths of a rebuild situation, and from a fantasy perspective it has Maurice Jones-Drew and nobody else on either side.
The Jags drove down to the Cleveland 2 yard line with :13 left and down by 4 points but failed on three attempts to score and win the game. Blaine Gabbert still has a long ways to go to being an NFL QB. Not technically. He's technically already one of those. But in the grander sense of the word.
Gabbert was 22 of 41 for 210 yards, 0 TD/0 INT. He's officially started 8 games, and his 16-game pace based on these numbers: 48.9% completions, 2,470 yards, 12 TD/10 INT, 64.4 QB rating.
MJD gained 87 yards on 21 carries with a TD, and had 4 catches for 31 yards. He has scored a TD in three straight games, a relief to owners who tired of him being a workhorse back that couldn't get it into the end zone.
Colt McCoy was 17 of 24 for 199 yards, 1 TD/1 INT.
Greg Little was targeted 8 times and caught 5 for 59. Josh Cribbs was targeted 4 times and caught 3 for 20 with a TD.
As a person who starts Stafford in 3 of 4 leagues, and Calvin Johnson in 2 of those, I get incredibly upset when he does badly. He's talented, he's young, and he's finally healthy. So why does he have to play so damn bad at times? It seems like Detroit is constantly starting out in a hole that they have to dig themselves out of.
The Lions first two drives ended on interceptions, and their third on a Keiland Williams fumble. I was about to fire Stafford and quit fantasy altogether, but luckily I waited and saw him become the top quarterback of the day. I don't know why he has to torture us at the start of every game.
Stafford was 28 of 36 for 335 yards, 5 TD/2 INT. He has 6 interceptions in his last two games, but has thrown 25 TDs in 10 games. You'll live with the INTs if he keeps scoring like that.
From Bizarro Romo to just plain bizarre, Kevin Smith walked back into the Lions stadium off of the street and reeled off a career game.
Expecting to get a few touches alongside Maurice Morris, Smith was so dominant from the start that Jim Schwartz would have been an idiot to remove him from the game and he dominated snaps amongst Lions RBs. Smith had 140 yards rushing on 16 carries with 2 TDs and 4 catches for 61 yards and another TD. While Smith will be the huge pickup of the day, don't forget that Jahvid Best still exists and that the Panthers are one of the worst defenses in the league. Smith isn't an unknown prospect, he's been around the league for awhile and failed. It's a mystery as to when Best will return, but it would seem that he could be the lead back again by the time the fantasy playoffs roll around.
Megatron was targeted 8 times and had 5 catches for 89 yards. He hasn't scored or topped 100 yards in two games, and the fact that that surprises me is amazing. It shows how good he really is. Stafford spread his touchdowns around to five different players: Nate Burleson, Kevin Smith, Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Scheffler, and Titus Young. Burleson had 7 catches for 63 yards and caught all 7 targets.
The Panthers were poised to pull the upset after they led by scores of 10-0, 24-7, and 27-17 at halftime, but they were unable to stop Stafford in the second half and Cam Newton showed that he is indeed a rookie.
Newton was 22 of 38 for 280 yards, 1 TD/4 INT and ran for 37 yards and 2 more TDs. He threw three picks during the Panthers final four drives. Still, in fantasy, you have to love him. I would guess that he's already working his name up to the top 5 fantasy QBs in the league and potentially is going to get some first round love next year. He could become the top player in the fantasy game.
Steve Smith was targeted 13 times and caught 5 for 41 with a TD. Greg Olsen was targeted 9 times but only caught 3 for 23.
Green Wins Bragging Rights Over Tampa in "Battle of the Bays"
The sliding Buccaneers nearly pulled off a major upset over the Packers, pulling to within two points in the fourth quarter, but ultimately fell short and lost 36-25.
Tampa has now lost 5 of their last 6 games. To be fair, every team they've lost to is a playoff team.
Aaron Rodgers continued his ridiculous season, going 23 of 34 for 299 yards, 3 TD/1 INT. He has thrown multiple TDs in all 10 games this year. He has thrown 3 or more in 8 of 10 games. He just threw his fourth interception of the season, matching what Cam Newton did yesterday. In fact, yesterday there were five QBs to throw 3 or more INTs and Rodgers took 10 games to throw his fourth.
He might be having the greatest season any QB has ever had. It's funny that he slipped in the draft because he wasn't seen to be quite as good as Alex Smith, and now both of those guys are 1-2 in the NFC race this year.
James Starks had 38 yards on 11 carries and 6 catches for 53 yards, but sprained his knee. Ryan Grant will see a bump in his value if Starks misses any time, but the Pack don't run much. Grant had 16 yards on 4 carries.
Jordy Nelson led Green Bay with 6 catches for 123 yards and 2 TDs on 7 targets. Greg Jennings was targeted 9 times but only caught 2 passes for 6 yards. Donald Driver had 4 catches for 72 yards on 6 targets. Tom Crabtree caught a TD pass.
Josh Freeman was 28 of 38 for 342 yards, 2 TD/2 INT. That was a season high in yardage, and he has 8 TDs in his last 5 games, but he has 9 INTs in his last 4.
LeGarrette Blount had one of the best runs of any player this season, a 54-yard bruising TD run, and finished with 107 yards and that one score. Kellen Winslow was targeted often and had 9 catches for 132 yards on 13 targets. Mike Williams had 7 catches for 83 yards and a TD on 11 targets. Dezmon Briscoe caught a TD pass as well. Arrelious Benn had one of his better games of the season, catching 5 for 75. Williams had his best game of the year and scored for the first time since week one.
Remember when the Bills were tied for first and the Dolphins were winless? If you don't remember, you should go see a doctor because it was only three weeks ago and maybe you're smoking too much dope. Now that the Bills have lost three straight and the Dolphins have won three straight, only two games separate them from the bottom of the AFC East.
Ryan Fitzpatrick was 20 of 39 for 209 yards, 0 TD/2 INT. Fitzpatrick has thrown a pick in six straight games and 11 total over that span against only 7 TDs. Ever since he got paid handsomely, he looks ugly.
Fred Jackson had his worst game of the year, gaining 17 yards on 7 carries, and had 5 catches for 50 yards, but left with an injury. X-rays were negative and he just feels "very sore" today. Keep an eye on it and an eye on C.J. Spiller.
Scott Chandler is best known for catching 1-yard TDs, but instead had 5 catches for 71 yards and 0 TDs. Stevie Johnson was targeted 10 times but caught only 2 passes for 16 yards.
Matt Moore was 14 of 20 for 160 yards, 3 TD/0 INT, his second 3 TD/0 INT game in the last three weeks. As I've been saying, Moore isn't bad by any means, he's a decent QB. The Dolphins would probably still like to find a QBOTF in the draft next year.
Raiders Honor Al Davis, By Waiting Until After He Died to Be Good Again
Oakland is 4-2 since Davis passed away, and now hold the keys to the division after a 27-21 victory over Minnesota yesterday.
Carson Palmer was 17 of 23 for 164 yards, 1 TD/0 INT. He now has 6 TD/4 INT in his three starts and the Raiders are 2-1.
I said before the year that Michael Bush was one of the best backup RBs in the league and in his first opportunity to show what he could do as a starter, he hasn't failed. Bush gained 109 yards and a TD on 30 carries and in his last four games he has 461 yards on the ground. It will all end when Darren McFadden returns, but enjoy it while it lasts. Bush is also a free agent after the season.
Christian Ponder was 19 of 33 for 211 yards, 2 TD/3 INT but also gained 71 yards on 5 carries.
Adrian Peterson had his ankle rolled on but everything being said by him today seems positive. It's still too early to tell one way or the other, but I wouldn't panic. AP had 26 yards on 6 carries and a TD. Toby Gerhart came in relief and had 18 yards on 7 carries.
For shame Dallas. For shame. Washington is one of the worst teams in the league and it took a fourth-quarter comeback and missed FG by the Skins in order for you to pull off the victory. When will you finally be as good as you could be based on talent?
The Skins got to the Dallas 33, but lost a yard on third down instead of getting closer to field goal range and Graham Gano missed from 52. Dan Bailey ended the ugly affair a few minutes later with a 39-yarder.
Tony Romo was 23 of 37 for 292 yards, 3 TD/0 INT. Over his last 3 games he has 8 TD/0 INT and is having perhaps the best season of his career as Dallas has won four of their last five games. Outside of a 3-INT game against Detroit, he only has 4 picks in the other 9 games but 19 TDs on the year
Laurent Robinson was the most targeted player for Dallas, catching 4 passes for 34 yards and a TD on 12 targets. Dez Bryant was targeted 8 times and had 3 for 68 and a TD. Jason Witten was only targeted 3 times, but he caught all 3 for 85 yards and a TD, including a long 59-yard score.
Grossman was 25 of 38 for 289 yards, 2 TD/1 INT and ran for a score.
Roy Helu had the most carries, but so what. Mike Shanahan hates you, and me, and fantasy, and running backs. Helu had 8 for 35, Ryan Torain had 5 carries for 4, and all of a sudden Tashard Choice comes in and gets 6 carries for 7.
The Cardinals Just Turned It Over Again to the Niners
When you look at a team in the NFL and say "How the hell are they that good? They seem overrated" because Alex Smith is the QB and they don't have a star WR or what have you, look no further than turnovers. The Niners are nearly 10-0 because they've forced 2 or more in every game this season, but only have turned it over more than once one time this season. They are first in the NFL in takeaway/giveaway differential.
Beanie Wells ran the ball 8 times and gained 33 yards and lost a fumble. That's 32 straight games of not allowing a 100-yard rusher for San Francisco (two seasons worth!)
Efficient Alex Smith was 20 of 38 for 267 yards, 2 TD/1 INT. He has thrown a TD pass in 7 straight games and only has 4 INTs on the year.
Frank Gore had 88 yards on 24 carries, Anthony Dixon had 32 yards on 7 carries, and Kendall Hunter had 27 yards on 11 carries. I said I had a hunch on Hunter, and I was mostly wrong. Though he had 12 touches, they didn't result in much and Dixon ran the clock down in the fourth quarter.
Michael Crabtree gets a little more interesting after he had 7 catches for 120 yards on 11 targets. He still only has 1 TD on the year. Vernon Davis was also targeted 11 times and caught 5 for 67 and a TD. Kyle Williams caught 5 for 54 yards and a TD.
Good News Rams Fans, You're Getting Another High Draft Pick!
St. Louis started off slow, then won two of their last three and nearly three in a row, but now after a loss to Seattle at home to drop them to 2-8 they look again like one of the worst teams in the league and far from competing again. This after they nearly won the division last year when they fall just shy of 8-8 after an end-of-season loss to the Seahawks in 2010.
The Rams are going to need to strike gold in the upcoming draft, taking either an offensive lineman or number one wide receiver, one of which should be available. They could not get anything going on offense against the Hawks.
Sam Bradford was 20 of 40 for 181 yards, 1 TD/1 INT. He has 5 TD/5 INT in eight games this season.
Steven Jackson was stuffed by a stout Seattle run D, held to 42 yards on 15 carries and 3 catches for 19.
Tarvaris Jackson wasn't very good, going 14 for 24 for 148 yards, 1 TD/2 INT and Sidney Rice threw a 55-yard strike to Mike Williams on the first play of the game.
Rice caught 3 of 5 targets for 31 yards and a TD. Doug Baldwin caught 3 of 5 for 60 yards. Mike Williams caught 2 of 5 for 62 yards.
Roddy White Hires Hitman to Take Out Julio Jones Now That White is Finally Good Again
So all season long we've talked about the disappearance of White on the field as his numbers have suffered, formerly being an elite WR to just being an average one. With Jones missing the game, White finally became "the man" again and the Falcons beat the Titans 23-17.
White was targeted 16 times and caught 7 passes for 147 yards.
Matt Ryan was 22 of 32 for 316 yards, 1 TD/0 INT. Michael Turner ran for 100 yards and a TD, his eighth of the season. Tony Gonzalez caught 5 of 8 targets for 74 yards and a TD. Harry Douglas was targeted 5 times and caught 4 for 51.
Matt Hasselbeck left the game with a sprained right elbow, but it isn't considered serious, and he's still the starter when healthy. Matt was the perfect stopgap option for Tennessee until Jake Locker was ready, and for now, Hasselbeck is still the starter in Tennessee.
Hasselbeck was 13 of 25 for 124 yards, 0 TD/1 INT. Locker was 9 of 19 for 140 yards, 2 TD/0 INT. It was a good "real" debut for the rookie and he's definitely one to watch in drafts next season.
Chris Johnson went back to being a giant disappointment, gaining 13 yards on 12 carries and 15 yards receiving. After gaining 130 yards rushing last week, he put out his worst performance of the season. Good work CJ2K.
Nate Washington had his best game of the season, working well with Locker in the second half. He caught 9 passes for 115 yards and 2 TDs on 10 targets. Jared Cook had 5 for 51 on 9 targets. Damian Williams was targeted 11 times and all he could come down with was 1 for 16.
Bears Get Big Win and Huge Loss on Same Day. Rivers Continues to Go for INT Record.
Up until the news came out that Jay Cutler was going to miss the rest of the regular season with a hand injury, I was getting ready to proclaim that the Bears were the most dangerous playoff team in the NFL. With the Packers clinching the division soon enough, the Bears were going to be a wild card team that some unfortunate division-winning team would have to face and then potentially travelling to San Francisco or Green Bay, two teams they could beat with Cutler.
Now, I'm not so sure.
I feel more confident in the Texans recovering from the loss of Schaub than I do the Bears recovering from this.
In his last game of 2011, Cutler was 18 of 31 for 286 yards, 2 TD/1 INT. He'll finish the year with pretty typical Cutler numbers: 85.7 QB rating, 13 TD/7 INT. But more importantly, Cutler has ability that far outweighs any QB that will come in for the Bears at this point.
Matt Forte gained 57 yards on 20 carries and 26 yards in the air.
Johnny Knox had his best game of the season, 3 catches for 97 yards and a TD on 5 targets. Roy Williams caught 5 of 8 targets for 62 yards. Earl Bennett was targeted 11 times and caught 3 for 75. Kellen Davis had a TD catch.
Meanwhile, the Chargers may be hoping that Philip Rivers suffers a similar season-ending injury after tossing his 16th and 17th interceptions of the season. His second interception came on an attempt to just throw the ball away as San Diego tried to mount a comeback, but he threw it right into the arms of a Bears defender. He looks like a shell of his former self to be honest, and I'm not sure what's wrong. He just looks terrible. On the bright side, he has 8 TDs in his last 3 games.
Rivers was 21 of 31, 280 yards, 2 TD/2 INT.
Vince Young Continues Tradition of QBs that "Just Win" but "Aren't Very Good"
Young was 23 of 36 for 258 yards, 2 TD/3 INT. Okay, those are better numbers than Tebow, but I doubt there's a QB controversy in Philadelphia. He did throw 3 INTs and he's not paid nearly as much as Michael Vick.
LeSean McCoy had 113 yards on 23 carries and is in the lead for the NFL rushing title.
DeSean Jackson topped 80 yards for the first time since week five, catching 6 for 88 on 9 targets. Young fell in love with Riley Cooper, a player who didn't have a catch all season, targeting him 12 times for 5 catches and 75 yards with a TD. Brent Celek was targeted 6 times and caught all 6 for 60 yards. Steve Smith, formerly of the Giants, caught a TD pass.
Eli Manning looked like Eli Manning of old last night, not playing anything like the elite level he had been playing up until this point.
He was 18 of 35 for 264 yards, 1 TD/1 INT.
Brandon Jacobs went nowhere on the Eagles, gaining 21 yards on 12 caries.
Victor Cruz continues to have a ridiculous season after not being drafted last year, catching 6 for 128 and a TD on a team-leading 10 targets. He now has 800 yards on the season. Hakeem Nicks was supposed to be "the guy" but he's lost some traction to Cruz and caught 3 of 8 targets for 69 yards. Mario Manningham caught 1 of 2 targets for 4 yards. Jake Ballard was targeted 7 times but only caught 1 for 13 yards.
I give you all these reports, you give me a follow? @casetines on twitter.
- In my preview last week, my sleepers were: Denarius Moore, Jake Ballard, Tarvaris Jackson, James Jones, Jon Baldwin and Steve Breaston, Kendall Hunter, Maurice Morris, and James Starks. I really would like Baldwin and Breaston to save me a little bit as few of those guys did much.
- I said these guys would struggle: Beanie Wells, Ray Rice, Philip Rivers, Steve Smith. Well, Wells didn't do good and Rivers continues to throw picks. But Smith caught a score that saved him. Rice was a beast.
- I loved: Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, Brandon Jacobs, DeMarco Murray, Wes Welker, and Rob Gronkowski. Jacobs was no good.
- My bonehead move of the week was getting cute and benching Blount from my flex for Kendall Hunter. I figured Blount would be a non-factor against the Packers in the second half, but his brutal TD run made him a good play. Fortunately, I have a 30 point lead and my opponent only has Dwayne Bowe.
- Staffords 40 points pretty much made me a winner across the board.
- The Eagles defense has definitely turned a corner in the latter part of this season. They allowed over 100 yards in each of their first five games, and under 100 yards in four of the last five. I wouldn't plan to love that matchup in quite the same way based on full-season stats.
- It's time to start better attention to what defenses have done in recent weeks, not what they did in week one.
- Is LeSean McCoy the new #1 fantasy running back? If the season ended today and the draft for 2012 was tomorrow, who would your first pick be?
- The Patriots should beat the Chiefs tonight easily, but what do I know? Crazy things happen on Monday night.
- If I ranked the top 5 teams in the NFL: Packers, 49ers, Steelers, Patriots, Ravens. If Schaub and Cutler were healthy, that list would be very different. The Lions are too inconsistent, as are the Giants, Cowboys, Eagles, and Falcons. The Saints and Ravens might be interchangeable on that list.
- The bottom 5, starting with the worst: Colts, Rams, Jaguars, Browns, Cardinals. The Vikings have AP, Ponder, Harvin, Steven Hutchinson, and two devastating defensive lineman. The Panthers have Newton, but admittedly their defense is terrible But at least they don't have to address the QB position. All four of the Browns wins have been over teams that are terrible or were terrible at the time tha t they played. The Redskins just missed this list, they are in big trouble at the QB position.
- Any questions or concerns heading into the final weeks, throw it in the comments.