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Once again in 2014 (come September), we are bringing you in-season NFL Team Reports from our "Eye in the Sky" correspondents. These reports represent a local point of view which isn't readily available on the web. We remind everyone, the views expressed within these reports contain speculation as well as fact. It's just another extra bonus from FFMastermind.com to keep all fantasy football fanatics well informed.
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The Miami Dolphins opened a big can of whup-ass on the Chicago Bears last week. Now the local media’s starting to talk playoffs once again. Personally I’m not going to start drinking the Kool-Aid until I see them do that two weeks in a row. At least. For starters. Lest we forget, beating Da Bears got them to .500 at 3-3. To recap our story thus far: the Fins beat the (Cow) Patties in their Season Opener, choked the next two weeks, losing badly to Buffalo and Kansas City; then they beat the hapless Oakland Raiders (like – who hasn’t?) and choked versus Green Bay. So week in and week out you never know which Dolphins team is likely to show up: Dr. Jeckyll or Mr. Hyde. In addition, it is still difficult to envision the Fins ever rising much beyond mediocrity given the lack of football I.Q. emanating from their Head Coach – a.k.a. Joe “The Ostrich” Philbin.
Still, talk about a Golden Opportunity – Miami heads up I-95 this week to play the heretofore hapless Jacksonville Jaguars, who are coming off their first victory in recent memory, albeit versus the equally inept Browns.
On paper this looks like a Win for the Fins. That’s what worries me.
QB Ryan Tannehill had a good game versus Chicago, though he started out taking a sack on the first play. After that Miami started rolling him out, letting him run with the ball, and that seemed to catch the Bears Defense off-guard. Okay… A great game adjustment. Do you think the Coaches actually learned anything? Do you think the Coaches will actually do the same thing this Sunday? (What does it tell you we even have to wonder about that?) Tannehill completed his first 14 passes, had the best QB Rating of his career. Still, he threw for less than 300 yards and only two TDs, which isn’t going to make him a Fantasy Star any time soon. Even so, with Eli Manning and Philip Rivers on Bye this week, Tannehill might be a decent spot play versus the Jags.
With Knowshon Moreno on I.R. RB Lamar Miller had a pretty good game versus Da Bears and could become a decent Fantasy Option if the Miami Coaches weren’t so dead set against that happening. Miller rushed for 61 yards on 18 carries, caught 2 passes for another 22, scored one Touchdown and had a second called back on a Penalty.
WR Mike Wallace caught a Touchdown Pass, but his stat line was somewhat less than impressive with only 5 receptions for 46 yards. The team seems to have given up any hope their Quarterback of the future will ever be able to connect with their $60 Million “Deep Threat” on a long pass, so they are simply targeting Wallace on a bunch of underneath stuff. Unless he breaks a tackle, gets free after the catch, doesn’t look like Wallace will manage to amass much in the way of yardage. And you can’t blame Wallace for that. He’s done his best. The team just can’t seem to use him right.
What is interesting is Rookie WR Jarvis Landry seems to be supplanting perennial possession Receiver Brian Hartline as Miami’s #2. Landry had 4 receptions on 5 targets for 46 yards; Hartline 3 receptions on 3 targets for 35 yards. Landry obviously has a lot more upside, might be worth stashing in Dynasty Leagues.
Last few weeks has also seen the re-emergence of TE Charles Clay. He was 7th among Tight Ends last Season, but has started this year slowed by minor dings, but was targeted 5 times last Sunday.
Fantasy-wise that’s becoming a problem with Miami – they are spreading the ball around. Targets: Mike Wallace, 8; Jarvis Landry and Charles Clay, 5; Brian Hartline, Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas, 3; Dion Sims and Damin Williams, 2.
Well, as Nuke LaLoosh said in “Bull Durham’’ – “Winning, you know, it’s better than losing.” The Dolphins have a great opportunity this week to push their Season high win streak to – let’s see, we’ll add that up – two in a row. But after that they face San Diego, Buffalo, Detroit and Denver. Prior to the playing The Pack we said this 7-game stretch was going to make or break their Season. So far they are 1-1, should be able to beat Jacksonville and Buffalo. Still if they can’t pull out at least one win over the Chargers, Lions or Broncos that would make them 3-4 thru that stretch and 5-6 on the year with 5 games remaining.
Guess it’s that thing about the glass being half-empty or half-full, but still – what we have here is basically a team that is aspiring for mediocrity.
Which carries through to their Fantasy Prospects. Even in a big win you have a Quarterback who can’t throw for more than 300 yards and a leading Rusher with 61.
The only real question is whether the Fins will have to pull together at the end of the Season and work hard to get to 8-8, or if they’ll get the act together sooner, get into playoff contention so they can drop their last two or three games to miss the post-Season like they did last year.
Stay tuned for further developments. Meantime, we hope you have more viable Fantasy Options. Rooting for the Dolphins, starting them in your Fantasy League – it’s like Chinese Water Torture.
Jimmy The Finger
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
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NEW YORK JETS
It appears the Jets are about to rattle off seven straight victories to get back in it.
Believe that I’ll tell you another one.
Although they played a nice game against New England they simply won’t win a game like that when K Nick Folk is scoring all the points. The red zone offense must succeed or they won’t win even another game. That’s pretty simple.
We can talk about the best offense we’ve seen all year, but giving up the big play and not punching it in adds up to 1 and 6.
QB Geno Smith had a good day going 20/34/226/1/0. See that 0 at the end? That means no interceptions… shhh. He also ran for 37yds. Not a terrible fantasy day.
RB Chris Ivory is still the only fantasy guy. He ran 21 times for 107 with a score. RB Chris Johnson had 61yds. Together they caught 6 balls for37yds.
WR Eric Decker(who may be the only other fantasy guy, at times) was 4/65 while TE Jeff Cumberland had 50yds and a touchdown. TE Jace Amaro could have had a big day, but he drops the football too much.
Stats. Meaningless when you have 1 win.
The defense played hard and knocked QB Tom Brady around a bit, but again, the big play on the first drive set a bad tone that they tried they’re best to overcome, but couldn’t.
Folk had 4 FGs and remains the most reliable Jet. While that’s nice and all, you’d like someone other than the kicker to be the man, no?
This week they host the Bills in what I’m sick of hearing is a ‘winnable’ game.
It is, however, a must win or you can keep Red Zone on for the rest of the season without needing to flick back to the Jet game.
They have to run.
Run again and run some more, get an identity and let Geno make no brainer throws.
Oh yea, WR Percy Harvin is on the team now. I’ve never been in love with this dude, but the fact is he can make huge plays when he’s healthy and they have lost several one touchdown contests. This is an audition for him, so the move is an obvious one we’ll hope turns to gold. He does, at least make you look at the WR corps and not gag.
That’s it. Will this be the last week with any sort of hope?
We’ll see what Rex has got.
Enjoy your football weekend.
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Browns Eye in Sky Report. Browns lose to formerly winless Jacksonville and square off Sunday against the winless Oakland Raiders. Not team in NFL history has ever lost to two winless teams in a row this late in a season. Against the Steelers C Alex Mack went down with a broken leg and the team made it through that game unscathed but that loss caught up with them against the Jaguars as the interior of the offensive line was a mess. OG Paul McQuistan was truly awful and fill-in C Jon Greco had troubles with snaps and knowing his assignments before adding in the terrible play of McQuistan which also affected his play. Then stud rookie G Joel Bitonio had his worst game and it obviously was a side effect of the poor play to his right with Greco's struggles. Add up all of those issues and the rushing attack never got going. No running game wiped out play-action from the passing game. Without a rushing attack and lacking play-action the bread and butter roll-boot play was hit/miss. Basically the entire offense was shut down and the defense run defense fell to the bottom of the league which basically explains the loss in a nutshell. Lets dissect this further by going over the numbers.
QUARTERBACK PLAY What a difference a week makes, from the primrose path to one littered with thorns and calls for backup QB Johnny Manziel for Browns starting QB Brian Hoyer. Hoyer had another low completion game as he hit on only 14 of 41 passes for 215 yards with 0 touchdowns and 1 interception for a quarterback passer rating of 46.3. That stat line isn't reflective of how bad it should have been but Brian hit one deep 65 yard pass that didn't turn into a single point as WR Andrew Hawkins was caught from behind as Hoyer hung the ball up and the wide receiver had to wait on it allowing the defense just enough time to catch him from behind. The catcalls for Johnny are idiotic. Manziel is a rookie and we don't know if he even knows the offense and he came in with issues where he wasn't properly reading defenses or going deep enough into his reads before bailing on plays but now that Alex Mack is out the quarterback now to properly identify the MIKE linebacker and make protection calls for the offensive line, something that Mack handled but has been passed off onto Hoyer. So now the small number of Manziel fans who think last week's game is totally on Hoyer want to put in a rookie who didn't even have a playbook in college or takes snaps under center is the one they want to start? Um no. Their agenda is too obvious, they don't care about the team they want to vicariously stroke their egos through Manziel. This week expect at the very least a dead cat bounce game from Hoyer but we can't recommend him so at best QB Brian Hoyer is a yellow cautionary start.
RUNNING BACK PLAY Pretty simple. No one did anything do to the terrible offensive line play noted in the opening paragraph. Now the backs are carping about playing time and RB Terrance West is back into the mix making it a three headed monster. The guy with the highest average per carry is RB Isaiah Crowell and the Raiders defensive line isn't as stout as Jacksonville and the Browns are tinkering with the offensive line so we will see better production but who is going to get the bulk of the reps? RB Ben Tate seems the logical choice but we can't recommend anyone so yellow caution starts for anyone you choose.
RECEIVER PLAY Oy vey! The one guy we thought we could count on was TE Jordan Cameron but the Jags discovered his kryptonite. We expect Hoyer to find him this week so green light start TE Jordan Cameron but red lights for everyone else.
IDP REPORT The mainstay of the defense has been LB Karlos Dansby and he keeps on chugging with 3 solos 3 assists and 2 sacks. Karlos is green light start. One newcomer rookie LB Christian Kirksey actually lead the way this week with 7 solos 2 assists and 1 sack. Kirksey has been coming on the last two weeks so for dynasty leagues you may want to pick him up now and stash him. We can't green light him yet but we're keeping a lazy eye on him. With all of the injuries to the defensive line someone had to step up but it wasn't DE Desmond Bryant who had a disappointing 2 assists and nothing else it was NT Isemeli Kitchen who had 5 solos. We still like Desmond Bryant but he hasn't done anything yet this year so hold off on him this week and its possible Kitchen has another high production game but we think the script will play differently this week so the only other guy who gets a recommendation for the defense is FS Tashon Gibson who had a great game with 3 solos 1 assist 2 passes defensed and 2 interceptions which puts him as the NFL interception leader. One guy who had a good game was rookie CB Justin Gilbert but he doesn't rate a start.
The Browns defense is dead last against the run and face a Raider team coached by HC Tony Sparono who destroyed the Patriots when he sprung the Wildcat on them when he was the Dolphins coach. The defense knows they rank dead last defending the run.
"We don't have any excuses. This is the truth and the truth hurts."--Browns LB Karlos Dansby noting the Browns poor run defense.
Aspettate fino alla prossima volta... Till next time, Ciao!
The 4-3 Steelers got behind early against the 3-4 Texans on Monday night, then exploded for 24 points in the final 3 minutes of the first half. The defense forced a pair of turnovers and the offense scored twice from the red zone, clear weaknesses for most of the season. The Steelers added a pair of fourth quarter field goals and hung on for a 30-23 victory. Next up is a visit to Heinz Field by the streaking 5-2 Colts. Indy has won 5 straight after starting the season at 0-2.
QB: The offense struggled mightily for 27 minutes before everything broke just right. The final 30 minutes didn’t exactly contain offensive fireworks either. QB Ben Roethlisberger completed 23 of 33 passes for 265 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Decent enough totals. That said, this week there should definitely be better fantasy options in standard 10 or 12 team leagues. The Colts surprisingly have the third ranked total defense and fifth ranked passing defense. RB LeVeon Bell and WR Antonio Brown remain every week no-brainer fantasy starters regardless of matchup. Everyone else in black-and-gold is a desperation play at best.
RB: Bell dominated in the passing game, catching 8 passes for 88 yards and a TD. He added 12 carries for 57 yards. Bell has totaled over 100 yards from scrimmage in every game this season. Getting into the end zone for the second time was the real fantasy boon. Hopefully that will continue going forward making Bell all the more valuable. RB LaGarrette Blount as a pounding change of pace back did not have his best week with 9 yards on 7 carries and a reception for 8 yards. RB Dri Archer pitched in toting the ball twice for 7 yards. Archer’s value has taken a hit because he has not been needed in the passing game.
WR: The league record streak of games with at least 5 catches and 50 yards continued for Brown. He caught 9 passes for 90 yards and added a touchdown pass on a flea flicker from the 3 yard line to WR Lance Moore. Brown had a touchdown reception overturned on review despite what appeared to be inconclusive evidence. Still pictures released after the game clearly showed Brown got both feet in bounds. A changing of the guard has begun behind Brown. WR Markus Wheaton had only a pair of targets, playing on less than half the offensive snaps. He managed no catches. Moore added a 9 yard catch to the aforementioned TD from Brown as the third receiver from the slot. WR Justin Brown was finally a healthy inactive. WR Darius HeywardBey’s only catch was a 17 yarder for an important third down conversion deep in the Steelers own territory. WR Martavis Bryant caught a 35 yard touchdown for the first touchdown of the day, finishing with 2 catches for 40 yards. No receiver except Brown should be in a fantasy lineup of course. The change here is that if taking a flier on a Steelers receiver’s upside the choice is now Bryant. Wheaton can officially labeled a fantasy bust for this season and safely dropped in all formats.
TE: Not much action in the passing game for TE Heath Miller. He finished with a single catch for 13 yards. A concussion suffered by OT Marcus Gilbert put OT Mike Adams on the field for the first time this season. Miller was needed to help Adams in pass protection, although to be fair Adams played surprisingly well not allowing even a hurry let alone a sack. Miller except for one game has simply not been utilized enough to be considered a viable fantasy option.
K: After a couple of weeks without many chances PK Shaun Suisham had a mini-breakout. He scored 12 points on a trio of field goals and extra points. Suisham has still only missed once this season. He is all about the opportunities. Finding a different kicker for fantasy purposes is probably the safest course this week given the recent offensive struggles before (and actually after) last week’s 3-minute offensive explosion. Discretion is the better part of valor.
DEF/ST: The late first half turnover-fest while obviously welcome is unlikely to be a sign of things to come. S Troy Polamalu and LB Sean Spence both recovered fumbles. LB Lawrence Timmons had the only sack as the outside linebackers again could not get pressure. To be fair OLB Jason Worilds did force a fumble as did S Mike Mitchell. DE Brett Keisel had an interception that led to the final TD of the half. Keisel was very active after missing most of practice the previous week due to a slight knee injury. He somewhat surprisingly started over DE Stephon Tuitt and then earned his playing time. CB Cortez Allen struggled especially in the second half against WR Andre Johnson. LB Ryan Shazier and S Shamarko Thomas have legitimate chances to return against the Colts. Shazier’s speed would be welcome on the defense. Thomas’ speed on special teams. No matter who actually returns this coming week is obviously not a good matchup for the defense. QB Andrew Luck is not QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Colts are first in total offense, first in passing offense and second in scoring offense.
The fans in Houston support this franchise. They sell out every home game and heavily travel with the team. They deserve better. The OL play was spotty last Monday night; QB Ryan Fitzgerald was forced to do what he does worst towards the end of the first half. He almost brought the team back again in the fourth quarter; if he were only a little bit better. If they lose this week in Nashville they will indeed be in the running for QB Marcus Mariota.
I say this every week, the OL made mental mistakes that again really limited the QB’s effectiveness. In other words he had to run for his life. This OL needs to jell. It needs for someone to step up and demonstrate leadership; so far this hasn’t happened. Despite that RB Arian Foster and RB Alfred Blue both scored. They were tearing it up before the coaching play calling meltdown and two fumbles in the last five minutes of the first half changed the complexion of the game.
WR Andre Johnson and WR DeAndre Hopkins were again the top passing options. TE Garrett Graham only had two receptions. This team has reverted to small ball. My fantasy dark horse, WR DeVier Posey, has been inactive for all the games this year. This guy could be a star but he’s not even getting a sniff because of pass blocking issues and the abilities of the starting QB.
The STs had a hiccup last Monday night fumbling the kick-off on the two yard line. PK Randy Bullock has started another good streak.
DE J.J. Watt hopes that DE Jadeveon Clowney gets some reps this week; he needs the help. The Titans are starting a rookie QB this week; his first pro game ever. Enough said.
The Texans disappointed their fans last Monday. Playing in Nashville this week should be an opportunity for a win. If they lose this week you can be sure that the Texans are conspiring to lose games for a more advantageous drafting position. The Titans season is now irrelevant; hopefully the Texans have a different attitude; stay tuned. Foster should be good in this one. I like Johnson’ chances to score. The Texan D continues to create turnovers and always has a chance to score. Bullock should be a good start again this week.
Hey there Colts' fans! Here are my thoughts as the Colts take their five-game winning streak into Pittsburgh to face the always-dangerous Steelers:
Injuries/roster: It is really big news when two starting skill position players for the league's top-rated offense might be out of the lineup! WR Reggie Wayne has already been ruled out for this weekend's game, and I expect that RB Trent Richardson might also be held out, or at least very limited in his action. While this means that a few other guys might get their chance to step up, I think the realty is that the offense will instead lean on the other "usual suspects" a little heavier. Third TE Jack Doyle has been a valuable role player, especially as a pseudo-fullback, and he also is a bit gimpy. This could mean that other tight ends may have to stay in and block a bit more frequently. On the plus side, veteran DL Art Jones will cautiously return to the lineup this week, although he is expected to see a fairly limited number of snaps; I don't think this will influence him or any other IDP significantly, but it should help solidify the defense against a team with a few superstar playmakers. Also returning to the lineup is super valuable nickel corner CB Darius Butler.
QB: The Steelers have been fairly stingy to opposing fantasy passers, but those numbers may be a bit deflated due to the low caliber of the quarterbacks they have faced. Their worst game this year came against the guy most similar to QB Andrew Luck, Cam Newton (although Luck has far superior weapons with which to play). Its hard to predict against a guy who is lading the universe in all passing stats and who has ripped off five straight 300+ yard passing days. He is averaging 330 and 2+ TDs, so I think he will be right around his average this week with a pair of scores and just a hair over 300 yards.
RB: Amazingly, RB Ahmad Bradshaw is #5 in PPR scoring among running backs, despite never starting a game and yielding 60% of the touches to RB Trent Richardson. Clearly, he has been the best back too own in Indy, and this week's injury to T-Rich means that Bradshaw should get a ton of work. I don't think the team will hand over significant duty to third-stringer RB Boom Herron even though he is a great runner and solid receiver; the problem is that he is a very poor pass blocker and the crux of this team is to keep #12 vertical first and foremost. The loss of T-Rich as a willing and able blitz picker will be the biggest loss they feel in the offense, but I expect that Bradshaw will pick up the slack statistically, even if Richardson plays this Sunday. Look for over 100 combined yards for Bradshaw and a score on the ground, with Richardson best left on your fantasy bench, just in case.
WR: There is no way that WR TY Hilton gets shut down this week, and he will surely see a huge uptick in targets with Wayne on the sidelines. But Wayne garnered about 20% of Luck's targets through week 7, so there is a lot of work to be spread around. Everyone expects veteran WR Hakeem Nicks to get the start, but for rookie WR Donte Moncrief to get extended looks and have the big play potential. I don't necessarily disagree with this, but I do know that the Steelers have been more susceptible to bigger receivers, so Nicks' lack of separation ability recently may not be an issue if they go up top. I suspect that Moncrief will get a ton of snaps and that they will try to get him involved with big plays (including on the ground), but that Nicks is the guy to start for this week, if you need to start one of them. I believe that Hilton will be high-volume, high yards and that Nicks has a solid chance for a short TD pass. Definitely go get Moncrief in keeper or dynasty leagues though!
TE: The Steelers have been very susceptible to the tight end, allowing 4 of their 10 allowed passing TDs to the big fellas. I think that the loss of Wayne will have Luck focusing on his familiar faces, making both TE Coby Fleener and TE Dwayne Allen viable as spot starters and high-end #2 tight ends. Allen is a TD machine thus far, scoring in five separate games; Fleener has red zone targets in every game this far as well. Allen is the safer play - but this writer has a hunch that Fleener has a slightly better fantasy day this week. Neither should hurt you though in a PPR.
K: Usually kicking outdoors on the sketchy turf of Heinz Field is a death knell for your fantasy kicker, but a grizzled veteran like PK Adam Vinatieri who spent so many years in Foxboro is not likely to be effected. Since the Steelers have allowed the 2nd most kicker points and the most FGs in the NFL thus far, I look for Vinny to be a solid #1 this week.
D: This will depend on which unit shows up in the road in Pittsburgh, and more importantly which unpredictable version of Big Ben shows up! I think Bell will run well and often against the front seven, and Antonio Brown is the type of receiver that has a better chance to succeed against our secondary. The Colts' D will get you some points with a few sacks and turnovers, but likely will not keep the Steelers below 20 points. A mediocre play this week against a team that generally allows 4-6 fantasy points to defenses.
Overall: I think the Steelers are better than their record, and I believe that their "Big Three" of Bell, Big Ben and Brown are capable of taking over a game, especially at home. Bell should have a field day both running and receiving this week, as the unit is prone to giving up rushing scores and receptions to runners. However, I don't think the Steelers' D will slow down the Colts that much, even though some of the Indy options are out of commission this week and the playbook may be a little more limited. Since the Steelers have alternated wins and losses all year and they are coming off a slightly short week with the MNF game, I will give the edge to the streaking Colts 30-27, although this also could be a single-possession game that turns on a single turnover that swings the momentum.
That is all for this week from the Crossroads of America. Good luck in your fantasy games, and remember to stay...COLTSTRONG!!!!!
SF 17 Denver 42
The 49ers came into Mile High injured, coming off a short week, and playing on the road, but I never saw this coming. QB Peyton Manning threw for 318 yards and four touchdown passes, with his third breaking Brett Favre's all-time mark. Two of Manning's touchdowns went to the sizzling hot WR Demaryius Thomas, whose eight catches went for 171 yards. And RB Ronnie Hillman added 103 yards from scrimmage and two rushing touchdowns, including a 37-yarder, the longest play of his career. Denver held San Francisco to 310 yards of offense and 3/13 on third downs. Six of the Niners' 11 possessions went for 10 or fewer yards, four of them for zero yards or a loss. DE DeMarcus Ware sacked Colin Kaepernick three times, LB Von Miller took him down twice, DE Malik Jackson once and CB Aqib Talib intercepted him once by disguising his man coverage. When teams try to play man coverage against the Broncos, they get burned. WR Emmanuel Sanders (3-41-1) finally collected his first Denver touchdown on Manning's initial scoring pass of the night. On Manning's second touchdown pass, WR Wes Welker (3-50-1) dove for the near left pylon for the 39-yard score. Following a rare fruitless possession, Manning broke Favre's record with an eight-yard pass to WR Demaryius Thomas. And after Talib's pick set Denver up at the plus-40, Peyton hit Demaryius with the 49 yard touchdown pass number 510. After RB Ronnie Hillman (14-74-2; 4-29-0) capped the next two possessions with touchdowns of 37 and one yard, QB Peyton Manning's ( 22/26-318-4-0) night was over. TE Julius Thomas had a quit night with four receptions for 27 yards. Rookie RB Juwan Thompson added six carries for 30 yards. Paul Cornick (6'6" 310), who replaced the miscast Chris Clark at right tackle, was average in the running game and needs a little work on his pass blocking. Penalty flags are flying like crazy in the NFL making the flow of the game "choppy". SF (6/62) and Denver (8/75) contributed their share with a combined 15/137 during Denver's best game of the year.
SAN DIEGO @ DENVER Every Bronco game should be an Orange Sunday.
The Broncos rested some of their starters in the fourth quarter with a short week and the Chargers coming up on Thursday. San Diego HC Mike McCoy knows the Broncos as well as the Broncos know themselves, so Denver HC John Fox gave his protege something new to think about: a four receiver bunch set/four receiver bunch set used as blockers. San Diego (5-2) had done wonders to overcome injuries, but the lose to KC brought more of them and SD is expected to be without top corners Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett. Injured, coming off a short week, and playing on the road, the Chargers are 7.5 pt underdogs at Mile High. Look for mccoy to find ways to try and get T.J. Ward in man coverage looking for big plays. SD 22 Denver 29.
A crippled secondary for San Diego means start your Broncos passing game players. Hillman won't score two touchdowns again this week, but should benefit from running room created by the passing game.
QB Peyton Manning is a number one quarterback; must start RB Ronnie Hillman is a number two running back WR Demaryious Thomas is a number one wide receiver; must start WR Emanuel Sanders is a borderline number one wide receiver WR Wes Welker is is a borderline number two wide receiver; high end number three wide receiver. TE Julius Thomas is a number one tight end; must start PK Brandon McManus is an extra point dependent kicker, but worth a start
D/ST is a number one defense with a non-existent return game, but worth a start
"Win the Super Bowl or Bust"
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Gang, there is just no substitute for good coaching! Kansas City doesn’t have the greatest depth of talent on this roster but Andy Reid and his coaching staff get the most out of what is available. It is encouraging to think what this coaching group could do if they had an established receiving unit... there I go again. Despite the lack of playmaking pass catchers at WIDE RECEIVER, the Chiefs played a clean, efficient and sound game and knocked off division leading San Diego Chargers, 23-20. KC came out with a little new-wrinkle look on offense to start the contest; the first snap looked like this:
WR 82 Dwayne Bowe WR 88 Junior Hemingway WR 13 De’Anthony Thomas
LT 72 Eric Fisher
LG 75 Mike McGlynn C 61 Rodney Hudson
RG 73 Zach Fulton
RT 68 Ryan Harris TE 80 Anthony Fasano QB 11 Alex Smith RB 25 Jamaal Charles
Interesting to see RB Thomas open at WR, on the outside no less. Coach Reid ditched FB Anthony Sherman for the first look on offense and showed a ‘faster’ formation to the Charger defensive eyes in the sky. That obviously didn’t last long as Thomas only saw 12 snaps total in the contest, but possibly the 3-wide formation is a peek at things to come. Ironically, it would be fullback Sherman doing the damage as a pass-catcher, rather than the fleet Thomas; Sherman hauled in a 4th quarter TD pass that put the Chiefs ahead 20-14.
Receivers Dwayne Bowe and AJ Jenkins saw the majority of snaps at WR (65, 51 respectively). Bowe, playing against a depleted San Diego CB group, tallied 5 passes for 84 yards. As usual, he failed to hit paydirt. Jenkins was thrown at 2 times by Alex Smith, snaring both for 37 yards; no score. Rookie Albert Wilson snagged a pass for 11 yards and he would be the only other wideout to catch a football for the guys in red. Frankie Hammond and Junior Hemingway were targeted 3 times between them, but couldn’t bring their chances down. Hemingway injured a hamstring (again!) and missed snaps. It is somewhat encouraging to see Bowe finish with 5 catches and hit 80+ yards. If you project the Chiefs’ top receiver to end up with 5 TDs on the season, that means he has the potential to score in 5 of the final 9 games; not bad for a WR3 on a fantasy roster down the stretch. TE Travis Kelce hauled in all 4 of his targets but couldn’t shake loose for YAC; he closed with 33 yards. RB Jamaal Charles was his usual productive self, netting 107 yards from scrimmage and a nifty, shifty 16-yard TD run. Knile Davis chipped in with 10 rushes for a bummer 25 yards and rookie De’Anthony Thomas ended up seeing 1 carry for 5 yards and taking down 2 Smith offerings for 21 yards. AS mentioned earlier, Anthony Sherman scored an 11-yard TD catch and snagged one more for a yard.
The offensive line played well from center-to-right, but struggled mightily on the left side. Eric Fisher is having his troubles as an NFL left tackle and veteran Mike McGlynn is, well, Mike McGlynn. QB Alex Smith wasn’t harassed much but was sacked twice, both coming from the left of center. AS for Smith’s passing game, he managed (a horrible descriptive for a QB’s performance in FFB terms) 221 yards and a late game TD pass to Sherman; no picks.
The defense played well enough to win. OLBs Justin Houston and Tamba Hali got to Philip Rivers for sacks and Houston as especially disruptive with constant pressure on the Charger QB. DE Allen Bailey played a stout game and continues to quietly impress. The secondary as a unit played well, and got notable work from rookie CB Phillip Gaines and safety Kurt Coleman. ILB James-Michael Johnson did not fare well. He seemed to be unable to find a flow, rotating snaps with specific personnel groupings called by Coach Sutton.
Kudos to kicker Cairo Santos for not only hitting 3 field goals but nailing the game winner from 48 yards out. He has improved as the season has progressed.
Moving ahead to this Sunday, the Chiefs tackle the St. Louis Rams. St. Louis is bringing a young and improving club to Arrowhead. The offense features an anxious group of wideouts that mostly are still finding their way as pro players. Kenny Britt is a veteran but is flawed and a bit banged up this week; he has been that most of his career, flawed and banged up. Flashy Tavon Austin has not been able to translate his college jitterbugging ways to the NFL; the big boys on defense are big AND fast in the pros. Brian Quick go off to a ‘quick’ start, but has begun to mimic the player of limited separation ability he’s been in the past. Stedman Bailey has the best overall skill set of the Rams receivers, but he is working his way back into the lineup after serving a suspension early in the season. Speedster Chris Givens has regressed to a one-trick deep threat. The Chiefs surprising secondary of ‘no names’ should be able to keep this group of pass catchers in check.
One reason for the success of the KC secondary thus far is the pass rush applied upfront by OLBs Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Houston’s is playing like a man looking for a big pay day (which he is). His game has developed from situational pass rusher to full-service All-Pro linebacker. ILB Josh Mauga is getting the job done, but James-Michael Johnson seems to need full-time reps to be effective. He struggled as a sub-package performer last week. The linebacking crew will have their eyes on the Rams’ rotation in the backfield. Rookie Tre Mason is now the lead runner for St. Louis, and he has looked sharp in the last 2 games. Mason so far has not shown proficient in the pass portion of the offense. That role is now in the capable hands of Benny Cunningham. Cunningham is solid as a receiver and a hard-charging rusher. Former starter Zac Stacy has fallen behind the others as his game went soft. He’s been nicked up, but Stacy lacks suddenness. ILB Mauga will key on Cunningham and Mason and should be a nice IDP factor this week. Houston and Hali are sack-centric IDP plays, with Houston now a tackle threat also. Safety Husain Abdullah keeps making tackles and playing the pass well in place if Eric Berry, still injured. Rookie CB Phillip Gaines is sporting the closing speed he flashed at the Combine and in camp, but isn’t much on tackling yet. Abdullah is a fine IDP get this week as the Rams throw inside and short-to-mid range passes often. KC had best not sleep on QB Austin Davis. Davis is a heady, talented and accurate passer with good mobility and a strong leadership genes. He’s confident and, while not a powerful thrower, gets the ball off in a timely fashion and on target.
When the Chiefs have to football fanballers have little to count on for points. RB Jamaal Charles is our weekly given... and that’s it. The Rams are better than perceived on defense, but can be run on. Charles will once again favor the strong side of the o-line and head right on a majority of his rushes. He should approach if not breech 100 yards from scrimmage. Alex Smith will throw into a fading pass defense of the Rams. The St. Louis secondary has been eaten up lately, burned for 7 TD passes in the last 3 games. They might be better if the failing front-four would live up to the pre-season hype of pass rush monsters. Last week that front group did come alive and got 3-sacks. The Rams DBs have allowed 8.1 yards per attempt versus the air attacks of the opposition, but give up under 235 yards passing a game for the season. However they are getting ripped up over the last 3 as QBs have hit for 300-plus yards 2 of the last 3 games. Kansas City cannot ignore the potential of this unit turning it on this week and creating havoc for the QB. KC’s left side of the o-line is struggling badly and the Rams Robert Quinn brings it from that side. QB Smith could be on the move early and often. WR is such a disappointment. Dwayne Bowe is the best of this underwhelming group, and if he brings another 4 catches and 55 yards, consider it a huge let down here. Bowe and Smith have opened it up some the past couple of weeks as a tandem, and last week they took advantage of an injury-riddled cornerback situation of the Chargers; Bowe managed a decent 84 yards; good not great. If you are looking for a timely bail-out at WR during these challenging bye weeks, Bowe is a WR3 quality receiver against a sagging secondary that is getting beat in the endzone. Fanballers cannot hang a hat on any other KC wideout. AJ Jenkins has the ability, but is just missing that professional aggressive quality that takes a player to the next level. Travis Kelce makes a weekly option for those who need to start a TE. He continues to be Smith’s best chance at a big play, especially inside the 20. RB De’Anthony Thomas is a crap shoot offering. He has the game-breaking skills to bag FFB points in a hurry, on a single touch. But he just doesn’t see enough touches to make it worth the roll of the dice. Alex Smith may be a sneaky week 8 start as the Rams secondary has allowed 7 QB scores in the last 3 games. Again, he’s not sexy, but the matchup is there.
Special teams is coming around and with De’Anthony Thomas handling the football in returns, there is always a chance of the home run return. Kicker Cairo Santos is improving and showed nerve last week, nailing his 48pyard game winner at the end of the contest.
The Battle of Missouri is on this week in Kansas City. Should be an annual set up by the NFL. The Chiefs have showed grit and solid coaching as the season progresses. Let’s hope there is no emotional letdown after last week’s dramatic win over the Chargers.
The Oakland Raiders travel to Cleveland this week after a disappointing home loss to the Arizona Cardinals. I overheard something leaving the stadium this past Sunday. “We lose so much, we ain’t even mad anymore!” exclaimed a fellow departing fan. This is all too true as from both a fantasy and real life perspective, it isn’t pretty.
The Arizona defense has been hampered by injuries this season, and in the last few weeks have been gashed through the air. QB Derek Carr and the Raiders weren’t able to capitalize on the decent matchup this time around. Carr only completed 16 of his 28 pass attempts for a mediocre 173-yard day. This came after a very solid day against the division rival Chargers. I think the team has their quarterback of the future, but it is still a work in progress. Carr is becoming a strong leader with poise and presence despite a lackluster supporting cast. The Browns are solid in the secondary but with a makeshift front seven, Carr could have more time to pick his spots.
A somewhat bright spot for the team has been the play of RB Darren McFadden. He hasn’t been flashy, or dynamic just solid. Solid and healthy is pretty good for Run DMC in 2014. He could be a solid flex play especially during your fantasy teams bye weeks. This is the same Browns defense that was gashed by RB Denard Robinson running behind a bad Jacksonville offensive line. Run DMC was able to score a TD and had 18 touches for 56 yards. The Browns defense has over the last few weeks given up progressively more fantasy points to running backs.
The receiving corps is young and fairly talented, but also not that polished and inconsistent. For fantasy, if we had to pick one it continues to be WR James Jones as a low-end starter/bye week filler in a PPR. WR Andre Holmes is the upside/risky play. In the future with a little luck, maybe we will be talking about how sweet the Carr/Holmes connection is but not yet. While WR Denarius Moore seems to be taking a back seat, WR Brice Brown sure seems to be making the most of his touches. The coaches notice, including opposing coaches, maybe its time to get the talented, hardworking youngster some more time on the field. "Brice Butler jumps off the tape. I know he doesn't get a ton of touches, but when he does, he's a major threat," Cleveland coach Mike Pettine said Wednesday. WR Kembrell Tompkins and WR Vincent Brown have yet to get much involvement in the offense.
Interim HC Tony Sparano had said 2 points of emphasis in the previous weeks practice were improving on 3rd downs conversions and cutting down on penalties. The team was 4 of 12 on 3rd downs and was penalized 8 times for 74 yards. A few of them were undeserved but that seems to be the trend in the modern NFL, still a better job must be done.
''We're for the most part able to play good football on the early downs but for whatever reason, man, third downs, I don't know if there's a lack of focus or what it is on third downs but it is definitely our Achilles' heel right now,'' S Charles Woodson said.
The defense has struggled, to be sure and continues to be bitten by the injury bug. The team had signed DE Lamarr Woodley to be a veteran presence and provide leadership but that will have to be done via the sideline, as Woodley will be missing significant time with a bicep injury. It has been a disappointing season for Woodley and Sparano has said he is eager to see what some of the younger players will bring to the table. The unit also lost SS Usama Young to a leg injury and was seen leaving the field on crutches. Young was replaced by SS Brandian Ross, a 14-game starter a year ago who was waived at the close of training camp. Ross was claimed on waivers from Miami when the Raiders traveled to London after starting SS Tyvon Branch went on injured reserve with a fractured foot. DE Justin Tuck missed the Arizona game and his status is up in the air.
The effort from the team still seems to be there, just not the execution. "Right now there is a great belief in that room that we're going to get this thing turned around and that we are getting better," Sparano said. "It's just that they don't have the tangible evidence -- which is a win”.
Perhaps this is the week, after all the Jaguars got their first win of the season against the Browns. Maybe it can be a trend.
Let’s go Silver and Black!
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
The Kansas City Chiefs upset the San Diego Chargers 23-20 in the game’s closing moments. Truth be known, the Bolts were not sharp for the 2nd straight week. And things don’t get any easier this week, as the Chargers travel to Denver to face the Broncos on only a few days’ rest. This report will be a review of the loss to KC, as well as a preview of this Thursday’s San Diego at Denver game.
QB: San Diego QB Philip Rivers was 17/31 for 205 passing yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. While Rivers was not especially sharp, pass protection was not especially good either. It’s fair to say that Thursday night’s game has shootout potential. While Denver has the #6 overall defense, they are #18 against the pass. So given the nature of the game, Denver’s average pass defense, and given the stakes of this divisional game, looks like a pretty good opportunity for Rivers, making him a solid fantasy starter this week.
RB: Surprisingly, San Diego did not try to run the ball against KC, which may have led to their demise. RB Branden Oliver carried only 15 times for 67 yards and no TDs. Denver’s defense is #3 against the run, so given that and the aforementioned shootout potential, this doesn’t look like a fantastic week for the Chargers run game. Consider Oliver a solid fantasy RB2 or flex this week.
WR: Chargers wideouts didn’t do much last week. WR Keenan Allen showed us that he’s still breathing with 6 catches for 58 yards but no TDs. WR Malcom Floyd caught 3 for 50 with no TDs. WR Eddie Royal had only 1 catch for 20 yards and no TDs. This week, Royal’s status is uncertain due to an elbow injury, so he probably shouldn’t be relied upon. Consider Floyd and Allen fantasy WR3s with the boom or bust potential that we’ve discussed here before.
TE: Future Hall of Fame TE Antonio Gates caught 3 for 61 yards and a TD. TE Ladarius Green was shut out again. This Thursday, Gates looks like a solid start, while Green is highly risky due to lack of looks and consistency.
PK: San Diego PK Nick Novak was 2/2 on FGs and 2/2 on extra points. I expect there to be some points scored in Denver, so that plus the thin air makes Novak an excellent fantasy kicker this week.
DEF: Short and sweet. Denver has perhaps the NFL’s most prolific offense and the San Diego defense is badly depleted due to injuries. Do I have to spell it out? Avoid!
That my report for this week. The Chargers have cooled down for 2 straight weeks and despite the obvious importance of this game, they face a tough task in Denver. While I don’t expect a win, the Bolts have had Denver QB Peyton Manning’s number quite often over the years. But not this time, probably at least. Until my next report, GO CHARGERS!!!
The Dallas Cowboys are back in the saddle thus far in the 2014 season, and riding high at 6-1. The old saying goes the more things change, the more they stay the same. That indeed looks to be the case with the 2014 version of the Dallas Cowboys. We have the new triplets, QB Tony Romo, RB Demarco Murray, and WR Dez Bryant.
As we approach the midpoint of the season, many, including myself were surely expecting bad football from the ‘Boys, maybe another 8 win season. That would appear extremely unlikely now.
QB Tony Romo looks to be over his nagging back for the moment, although he gets an extra day or two off per week. He is often not asked to do a lot, but when he is, he delivers. Romo attempted only 23 passes against the Giants, completing 17 of those for 279. He also had 3 TDs, which is not too shabby at all. This week, against the ‘Skins, Romo should be able to put up numbers, if required.
The “if required” part will largely be up to RB Demarco Murray, who has been rolling in every sense. For you fantasy owners, you are loving life. For us Cowboy fans, the workload is troubling but the wins are so nice. What a dilemma. Murray is on a torrid pace and became the first player in NFL history to begin the season with seven consecutive 100-yard games. Murray broke the record previously held by Browns legend Jim Brown. If you're curious: Murray needs to average 132.4 yards over the last nine games to break Eric Dickerson's all-time single-season record.
There is nothing we have seen from the Washington defense that suggests that they are the ones that can derail Murray and the Cowboys, so play on.
When Romo drops back, its almost all Dez all the time. Bryant couldn’t be stopped, securing 9 passes for 151 yards. He had no touchdowns this time around, WR Terrance Williams did. For fantasy, all he does is catch touchdowns but not much else.
We finally got to see some of what TE Gavin Escobar brings to the table. The 6’6” 2nd year player caught all 3 of his targets for 65 yards and 2 scores. Escobar has been playing more snaps of late, and may very well command a bigger role. We all love Witten, but the times may be changing in Big D at the tight end spot.
The special teams unit is no small part of the team either. K Dan Bailey is money in the bank, and he gets plenty of opportunities. This past week, Bailey nailed a 49 yarder late in the 4th quarter to put the game out of reach.
The defense obviously has played much better than anyone ever thought they could or would. It helps that the success of the offense gives the defense good amounts of rest. Dallas this season has risen to third in the NFC and ninth in the NFL in scoring defense. DC Marinelli has taken what many personnel gurus would describe as "a bunch of guys'' and helped turn them into a difference-making group.
Hall of Famer/Cowboy legend QB Troy Aikman has said this defense is no accident. “The defense is far better than anyone thought, but more than that, it's got better players," Aikman said. "This isn't just a team that's overachieving. I think people underestimated the talent on that group. McClain's been obviously a great addition. He's played well. Durant's been healthy this year. He's played well."
This week, against a Redskins team where the quarterback position is in flux, ala QB Colt McCoy, it could be a really good matchup for this defense.
The Cowboys will be without RT Doug Free on Monday Night, which means RT Jermey Parnell will get the start. Parnell practiced fully today, but was listed with a chest injury. ILB Bruce Carter and DE Anthony Spencer were both limited today.
Lets go Cowboys, 7-1 is in your grasp!
NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants lost on to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday 31-21. Big Blue had opportunities to win the game but some costly turnovers combined with an inability to stop Dallas on key 3rd downs contributed mightily to their defeat. The G-Men are now 3-4 and 1-2 in the division. Hopefully they will regroup during the bye week and get some key injured players back for Week 9.
Here are the fantasy results:
QB Eli Manning played a very solid game. He did not make many plays downfield but took what the Dallas defense gave him. He completed 21 of 33 passes for 248 yards, 3 TD’s, 0 interceptions and a passer rating of 116.7. He was not sacked.
RB Andre Williams did not find much daylight. I think most of the issue is subpar blocking by the offensive line but I also think the rookie needs to do a better job of finding the seams. He had 18 carries for 51 yards. RB Peyton Hillis chipped in with 6 carries for 29 yards.
WR Rueben Randle had a solid game with 6 catches for 74 yards. Eli seems to trust him now and he should get plenty of targets going forward. Rookie WR Odell Beckham Jr. had 4 grabs for 34 yards and two TD’s! He also had a nifty 13 yard end around.
Welcome back, TE Larry Donnell with 7 catches for 90 yards! Unfortunately, he had two costly fumbles late in the game which had significant fantasy implications.
One interception and 2 sacks is middling road fantasy production. The rushing defense was improved slightly but the decimated secondary gave up key 2nd half 3rd down completions as QB Tony Romo had 3 touchdown passes. RB DeMarco Murray had his 7th consecutive 100 yard game.
PK Josh Brown had 3 PAT’s.
That’s all for now.
Here is a Preview of Week # 8:
The Eagles have rushed for 348 yards the last two games, including 203 in their shutout win over the Giants. But it’s going to be tough sledding against the Cardinals, who own the league’s No. 1-ranked run defense. They have held opponents to 72.5 rushing yards per game and 3.2 yards per carry. RB LeSean McCoy has rushed for 230 yards on 46 carries (5.0 ypc) with a touchdown in his last three contests versus Arizona. Though the statuses of RB Darren Sproles (sprained MCL) and RB Chris Polk (hamstring) are uncertain for Sunday, McCoy may be coming back to his old form. The Offensive line is getting healthy and the replacements are now gelling.
If Philadelphia is to come away victorious again in Week 8, it’s a safe bet tight ends will have something to do with it. As it turns out, the first-place Cardinals are one of the worst teams in the NFL when it comes to defending tight ends, a trend that dates back to last season. In fact, all three Eagles touchdowns in their 24-21 win over Arizona in 2013 were scored by tight ends, two for TE Zach Ertz, one by TE Brent Celek. The play of QB Nick Foles has not been consistent. He has 10 of the Eagles 14 turnovers. (7 interceptions & 3 Fumbles) He needs to release the ball quicker & must improve the deep accuracy. WR’s Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Matthews & Riley Cooper need to stretch the Cardinals defense and this will open the passing lanes for Foles and the running game.
The Eagles need to put pressure on QB Carson Palmer. They are coming off a 6 sack effort on the NY Giants that crippled their offense in the process. Philadelphia is eighth in the NFL with 19 sacks this season, 16 of those from the past three games alone. With fresh legs coming out of the bye, OLB Connor Barwin, OLB Trent Cole and company should be able to make Palmer’s life miserable and deliver another win. They might get ILB Mychal Kendricks back for this game. They also must contain RB Andre Ellington. Whether it be running or catching passes coming out of the backfield.
On Special Teams:
The Eagles are hopeful that RB Darren Sproles can play. He is another dimension of the Eagles playmakers. If he can’t or is restricted, look for WR Josh Huff to pick up the slack on returns. P Donnie Jones is another weapon. He has landed many of punts inside the 20 yard line leading to where the opponents have a poor field starting possession.
The Eagles are fresh after their Bye Week. Look for them to put the pressure on Arizona QB’s and force some turnovers. The TE’s for the Eagles should have a field day and Foles and McCoy will lead the way to victory.
That’s all for now from the BirdSeed.
Lions report, week 8 preview
Lions “at” Falcons (in London)
QB: Well this is one position where we don’t have to talk about injuries. QB Matthew Stafford has taken a lot of sacks this year and he will likely enjoy the bye week but for now there is a game against Atlanta and a very shaky defense. We’ll project Stafford for an easy 250 yards and two scores this week. By the way his next TD pass will make him the Lions all time leader in passing TDs. Usually when you are breaking an all time record it means you are close to retirement. Stafford just as a reminder is 26. As for this Sunday, could weather in London be a factor? It doesn’t look like it as the forecasts I checked look pretty good. Atlanta’s defense is bad across the board. It’s hard to find a single category where they are respectable.
RB: The latest injury updates are that RB Reggie Bush (ankle) was limited on Wednesday and out on Thursday. I think he is going to be a game time decision. RB Theo Riddick (hamstring) was limited on Wednesday and full practice on Thursday. As you can see they appear to be trending in opposite directions. The only sure thing from a health standpoint is RB Joique Bell, so you can bank on him getting the most touches this week. Bell is not exactly lighting the world on fire with his 3.3 ypc but he will get the most carries and should be good for 80 total yards and a TD this week. With injuries at tight end they might have to resort to bringing in a 6th offensive lineman to block in the run game.
WR/TE: We were sort of assuming that WR Calvin Johnson would sit out one more game and then be able to come back at 100% after the bye week. But the reports from London indicate there might be a chance he plays this week. I don’t think they would bring him back just to be a decoy like he was earlier in the season. They have to get him right, but if he doesn’t need the additional time off he could be out there on Sunday. Remember, unlike previous games in London that started at 1:00 ET, this game features the unusual 9:30 am ET kickoff, so for any game time decisions you will know early enough with inactives announced at 8:00 am ET, but you might want to make sure you don’t oversleep on Sunday morning if you are planning any lineup adjustments. The tight end position is a total disaster right now. TE Eric Ebron, TE Joseph Fauria, and TE Brandon Pettigrew are not practicing. The Lions had to sign TE Kellen Davis before leaving the country on Monday night and he could be pressed into action. Rookie TE Jordan Thompson is the other healthy tight end. You will likely see a lot of 3 and 4 receiver sets on Sunday, so having Megatron back would really help. WR Golden Tate is clearly a solid option this week with a soft matchup and could approach 100 yards with a TD.
K/DST: You kind of worry if the field at Wembley Stadium will be up to normal NFL standards. The Lions kicking game has been very erratic this year to say the least. Luckily PK Matt Prater is one Lion who has experience playing in London. Hopefully that will help. On defense this could be another showcase game for Detroit’s defensive line as the Falcons have been ravaged by injuries on their offensive line. I heard they are going with an undrafted rookie at center. Look for the pocket to collapse on Matt Ryan all day. You can definitely see Detroit as a top 5 fantasy defense this week.
Enjoy watching this game on Sunday morning and come back here as I review this game in my next report.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Week 7 Review: The Packers dumped the Carolina Panther 38-17 – and it wasn’t as close as the score indicated. The offense and the defense played very well. In fact five different Packers scored touchdowns. On offense it all starts with QB Aaron Rodgers who only threw for 255 yards, but completed 86% of his passes, threw 3 more touchdown passes, and no interceptions for a near perfect 154.5 rating. Nine different Packers caught passes from Rodgers include 4 wide outs, 2 running backs, and 3 tight ends. In the process Rodgers posted his sixth consecutive game without an interception – tying Bart Starr’s franchise record set in 1964. Rodgers joined QB Tom Brady as the only players in NFL history to post four straight three-touchdown games without an interception. Rodgers became the first player in NFL history to throw for at least 18 touchdowns with one or fewer interceptions in the first 7 games of a season. Rodgers completion percentage of 86.36 was a career high and the third best game mark in franchise history. And finally, Rodgers passer rating of 154.5 last Sunday was the second best of his career and third best in team history. Rodgers now rank 13th among NFL quarterbacks in yards, but 3rd in touchdown passes. RB Eddie Lacy got 12 carries for 63 yards – 5.2 yards per carry – and 1 touchdown. RB James Starks had 7 carries for 36 – 5.1 yards per carry average – and 1 touchdown before leaving the game with an injury. TE Andrew Quarless, TE Richard Rodgers, and TE Brandon Bostick each had 1 reception for a total of 12 yards. Not enough for a good fantasy tight end. WR Randall Cobb had 6 receptions for 121 yards and 1 touchdown. Cobb ranks 15th in yards among NFL wide receivers and 2nd in scoring. WR Jordy Nelson had 4 receptions for 80 yards and 1 touchdown. Nelson ranks 1st in yards among NFL wide receivers and 5th in scoring. WR Davante Adams had 1 reception for 21 yards and 1 touchdown. Meanwhile K Mason Crosby connected on 1 field goal and 5 extra points for a total of 8 points – a typical performance for him. The Packer defense allowed 108 yards rushing and 223 yards passing for a total of 331 yards. They had 3 sacks, 6 tackles for loss, 4 quarterback hits, 6 passes defended, and 1 interception. 14 of the 17 points given up came in garbage time. Without CB Sam Shields, CB Devon House and CB Casey Hayward filled in very well. The defense is playing well enough as a whole that LB Clay Matthews is not required to dominate on a regular basis. The addition of LB Julius Peppers and S Ha-Ha Clinton Dix is solidifying this defense. Hopefully all this continues.
Week 8 Preview: The Packers play the New Orleans Saints next week. Statistically, the Packer offense are about to play the 2nd best defense on its schedule so far. The Saints offensively are ranked 2nd overall and have the league’s 2nd ranked passing offense. But the Saints are ranked 21st in scoring against and rank 27th and 11th respectively defending the pass and run. The Packers have the NFL’s 2nd ranked scoring offense and the NFL’s 16th ranked points against defense. Projected season updates for significant fantasy Packer players are as follows: On the year Rodgers would have 3826 yards, 41 touchdowns, completion rate of 66.8%, and a passer rating of 117.7 – which has him holding steady overall. Nelson would have 107 receptions and 1627 yards and 14 touchdowns. Cobb would have 80 receptions for 904 yards and 16 touchdowns. They are both holding steady. WR Davante Adams would have 39 receptions for 430 yards and 5 touchdowns which have him holding steady. RB Eddie Lacy would have 210 carries for 841 yards and another 197 receiving and score 9 touchdowns. This has him holding steady, and if Starks is out he could get more than 20 carries. Crosby would have 107 points on the year he is the NFLs 22nd ranked kicker. The Packer offense continues to score limiting Crosby’s opportunities.
Start QB Aaron Rodgers, WR Randle Cobb, WR Jordy Nelson, and RB Eddie Lacy. Consider starting the Packer defense. They continue to improve and their ranking no longer reflects how they are playing. You must have a better kicker than Crosby – I would sit him. The Packer bye week is NFL week 9. You might want to plan ahead. At least for once, the Packers are not going into a bye week decimated by injuries. Next week I will review the Saints game and review how things are going in the bye week.
The report for this week has not yet been released.
This week, the struggling Falcons travel across the pond to London, to face the Lions. The Lions defensive line has been its strong point and the Falcons offensive line is its weakest link….and QB Matt Ryan is the one who has been affected by it the most…..
1. QB Matt Ryan – Ryan has been really affected by the injuries along the offensive line….and what quarterback wouldn’t be…..the Lions d-line can get after people and it could be a rough visit to London for Ryan….225 yards and 1 score.
2. Falcons Running Backs – There is absolutely nothing to discuss here, you are not playing any of these guys until the coaching staff says they are going to ride with one of them (which will never happen)….
3. WR Julio Jones – You have to start Jones, he’s a stud regardless of the matchup….look for 6 for 80 with a score.
4. WR Roddy White – White had a big game last week, and this week should come back down to earth….look for 5 catches for 60 yards….borderline WR3 this week.
5. PK Matt Bryant – Only got one point last week, I say this week one extra point and two field goals.
6. Defense – They actually created some turnovers last week in the blowout loss to the Ravens, but you can’t expect them to do that again, at least I can’t….and I won’t…if you are streaming defenses like I do, this is not a playmaking defense unless they are at home against the Bucs ort Jags or Raiders…..
Lions 24 Falcons 13
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
The 5-1 Cardinals now face two very tough games that could go a long way to see who has home field advantage throughout the playoffs. 3 one loss teams will play over the next two weeks all connected by the Cardinals. The Cardinals will take on the 5-1 Eagles this weekend and then the Cardinals travel to the currently 6-1 Dallas Cowboys. These two games are massively important for the Cardinals to really step out of the shadows on the NFC. No one is really thinking the Cardinals can keep this winning pace up. Time to prove yourselves, Cardinals.
Last week, the Cardinals dispatched the Oakland Raiders 24-13 and pretty much controlled this game from the start. The Raiders will get a win this year, but it won’t be at the expense of the Cardinals. The Cardinals had an average day fantasy wise, but the stars of the game were:
RB Andre Ellington 24 rushes 88 yards 6 catches 72 yards RB Stepfan Taylor 40 yards rushing 1 TD 2 catches 19 yards 1 TD (who saw that coming?) QB Carson Palmer 22/31 for 253 yards 2TD 1 INT (tipped) WR Michael Floyd 3 catches 47 yards 1 TD.
Again, the Cardinals are using their runningbacks like receivers lately. I would like to see WR Larry Fitzgerald and WR John Brown get more targets. But hey, they are 5-1 let’s not judge
This week, the Philadelphia Eagles come to town in the battle of 5-1 teams. This one should be very exciting and hopefully very very loud! This should be one of the better games of the week. QB Carson Palmer is definitely in control of this team. The Cardinals are working on a contract extension for Palmer. QB Drew Stanton proved to be an extremely valuable backup and QB Logan Thomas has a lot to learn. All in all, though this crew is good enough to carry the Cardinal far.
At the RB position, RB Andre Ellington is exciting and really turning into their lead running back. RB Stepfan Taylor had been a third down back and short yardage back, but Taylor came into his own against the Raiders and really starred in his own right. QB Stepfan Taylor rushed for 40 yards on 12 carries and 1 TD. Taylor also caught 2 passes for 19 yards and 1 TD. I hope this trend continues because a second threat to give RB Andre Ellington some rest. I would like to see RB Marion Grice used as well. I hope that comes this week.
At WR, the Cardinals are loaded and WR Larry Fitzgerald has taken on almost a decoy role. Fitz’ 4 catches for 21 yards is sub Fitz, but he seems to accept the role as leader and not stat leader while the Cardinals are ahead in the win column. RB Andre Ellington led the Cardinals in receptions and yards and that still worries me a little. I would like to see QB Carson Palmer utilize his receivers even more. They have talent but the good news is Palmer is definitely taking what the defense gives him. WR Michael Floyd is the best receiver and can explode at any point. WR Larry Fitzgerald is really just the best ever in my opinion. He brings leadership and energy. WR John Brown is still learning but is a major deep threat. WR Ted Ginn Jr truly makes one chain moving catch each game which is super important.
The TE are completely unpredictable for this team. Stay away from them fantasy wise.
The Defense is one I would start. PK Chandler Catanzaro has been truly amazing and I trust him to be my kicker.
This week, the Cardinals challenge the Eagles for 5-1 team superiority. I’m worried that the Cardinals won’t be used to the pace of the Eagle’s offense, but I’m hoping they had a very good week of practice and the simulated team did a good job showing the Cardinal defense what they will be up against.
Fantasy-wise, this game could become a shootout. The Cardinals definitely will have to score near 30 points to win this game.
WR Michael Floyd RB Andre Ellington
K Chandler Catanzaro
QB Carson Palmer WR Larry Fitzgerald RB Stepfan Taylor (if you need a bye week sub)
WR John Brown. He could go off this week.
I believe the Cardinals defense will continue to plug the running game of their opponents and force QB Nick Foles to throw more than he is used to. That would allow the Cardinal defense to continue their turnover fest and give the ball back to the offense.
Prediction: Cardinals 30 – Eagles 27.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
San Francisco played there worst game of the season in mile high on Sunday. Denver and QB Peyton Manning got out to an early lead and never looked back effectively beating the 49ers about 20 minutes into the game.
Defensively, the 49ers looked lost without ILB Patrick Willis and a bevy of secondary injuries. Hurt players are not an excuse but the 49ers cannot compete against the likes of Manning without their full or close to full complement of defensive players.
Offensively the 49ers weren’t much better. The offense just couldn’t get into rhythm and fell into the trap of having to abandon the running game just to try and keep up with the Bronco’s high powered offense.
Defensive paired with a solid running game has been the 49ers recipe for success and neither was on display on Sunday. San Francisco gets a bye and it could not come at a better time. The players get a needed mental break from the Harbaugh could leave distraction and the injured players get an extra week to get right.
Rookie safety Jimmie Ward (quad) and CB Chris Culliver and his minor shoulder stinger will both be back after the bye. Top CB Tramaine Brock was just ok on Sunday in his return game but now gets a full two weeks to get back into the flow of game day hopefully putting his turf toe behind him for the season. ILB Patrick Willis seemed to only have a two week injury so he also should be back after the bye.
OLB Aldon Smith now has just two games left on his suspension but there are rumors that he could get that suspension reduced or lifted for good behavior (a joke but it’s a real possibility). The possibility of Smiths reduced suspension stems from the NFL front office being under fire for there poor handling of player discipline this season.
ILB Navorro Bowman the final piece of the 49ers missing defense is still probably over a month away at best as the 49ers are rightfully being cautions of his return.
On offense the 49ers finally got RT Anthony Davis back. Davis played well and finished the game with no setbacks on his ankle. LG Mike Iupati missed Sundays game but should pass through concussion protocol and be back after the bye. Not all good news on the line, just as things were looking solid up front the 49ers lose OC Daniel Kilgore to a broken leg and now must scramble over the bye to replace him. Rookie OG/C Marcus Martin is the most likely choice and will be rushed into action. RB Marcus Lattimore has a real chance to be elevated to the main roster this week. Lattimore has run well in practice but the team would probably like to get a look at Lattimore in game time action. Lattimore isn’t a special team player but the 49ers are playing with fire this season by only keeping two runners on the active roster each week.
4-3 is a respectable record in the parody filled NFL. San Francisco would be best served over the next week to put out the Harbaugh could leave fire and get back to 49er smash ball football. Everyone needs a break and lets hope all is quite from San Francisco over the next week (except of course the Giants quest for a 3 World Series in five years).
Well, that game in St Louis was hard to watch. The dumping of WR Percy Harvin made for quite a confusing week. Seattle appears to be in turmoil, but for how long. Many players, like RB Marshawn Lynch, seem very upset about Harvin’s departure. Many others were obviously done with Percy and those cover basically everyone involved in the passing game including QB Russell Wilson who reportedly almost got into a fight with Harvin after Harvin told him he was not ‘black enough’. Harvin also reportedly got into fights with WR Golden Tate and WR Doug Baldwin, both of whom ended up with black eyes or other damage even right before games - including the Super Bowl. Well, Harvin sounds like the perfect guy to be hooked up with the New York City media to ferret out who he really is - other than just a pure blinding talent that has been traded away in his prime by two good teams.
Despite all the drama - and the loss - Wilson is producing huge fantasy numbers by doing things that have never been done before. Sure it is not like 509 career touchdowns, but running over 100 yards and passing for over 300 has never been done until Wilson did it. Add in 3 touchdowns and a 110.1 passer rating and it is hard to believe this was a loss! It probably was not a loss for those who started Wilson in their fantasy league. Now that was against a very stout defense in St. Louis. But now we have the Panthers. LB Luke Kuekley is like a yo-yo and he is really the only above average player on this defense now. It seems like he is amazing one week and bad the next. Last week he stunk and was kicked out of the game, so Seattle will likely get his best shot. Plus a guy like that has to get up for a game against the Champs, right? Other than Kuekley, this defense has not been defending the run well and have been giving up more yards per pass attempt than most anyone else in the league. With the tear Wilson has been on and the team having had time to adjust to Harvin leaving, this should be a fantasy bonanza for Wilson owners.
The only reason why Wilson’s numbers may not be through the roof would be if Lynch is all they need. Lynch had double the carries last week than he had the week before, but that line in St Louis was ready for him. Lynch finished with only 53 yards and no touchdowns. That is tough to take. This week should be back to his stud form and he must be started. Lost in the turmoil is the suiting up of RB Christine Michael. Remember last summer when everyone was starved for NFL news and the story hit that Michael was going to take away Lynch’s carries? Well, Michael suited up for the first time and carried the ball all of 2 times for 5 yards. Well, at least he got to be activated, but certainly not much to write about there!
WR- WR Doug Baldwin should have been grabbed by everyone once Percy was out. And he showed why last week with a monster 123 yards and 1 TD on 7 receptions of 11 targets. Baldwin will continue to be the primary guy and is a WR1 this week. Next up on the targets list was WR Jermaine Kearse with 7. That is not much of a boost for him but he still sneaks in as a WR3 this week. Also of note is the activation of WR Paul Richardson (5 targets, 4 catches, 33 yards) and WR Kevin Norwood (1 for 1 and 4 yards). These two rookies have a lot of promise and now should see more reps without Harvin.
With TE Zach Miller and his fantastic blocking skills out of the lineup Seattle has tried to bring in extra linemen instead of using tight ends for blocking. The result is that undrafted free agent TE Cooper Helfet has been relatively hot the last two games including catching 3 of 6 targets last week for 61 yards and a touchdown. This may or may not continue this week, but after watching that touchdown from last week a few times you have to believe they will keep throwing his way. At least add Cooper to your watch list and consider starting him as a gamble if your starter is on a bye week. TE Luke Willson has returned to practice which makes this even more of a gamble.
Another week and another 9 fantasy points for PK Steven Hauschka. Start him if you got him.
Welcome back CB Byron Maxwell! The Legion of Boom has looked like the Legion of One CB Richard Sherman lately, but with Maxwell back that should quickly improve. They will need to be ready for whatever QB Cam Newton throws at them. Last week Cam did not look like much, but the week before he looked like a bigger, badder Wilson. Who knows who he will look like this week. What has gone silently into the night was the story that the Chargers ‘exposed’ Sherm as an average corner. Last week Sherm was again left alone other than 2 passes - one nicely defended and one tackled for loss. Other than that he was just backing up the running game and shutting down his side of the field. Not much for fantasy stats there, but he has to pick one off soon, right? LB Bobby Wagner remains out, which is too bad because I think he is nearly as good as Kuekley and would like to see him show it on the same field. With the injuries at tackle for the Panthers, either Seattle defensive end becomes the IDP play of the week. DE Cliff Avril was completely shut out last week and I think he will come out on fire this week. But DE Michael Bennett is made for games like this and should have more snaps. I would start Bennett as my IDP.
Really, it is hard to ever pick against Seattle this year despite what has been happening. They have a huge amount of talent but they are getting every team’s best shot. Last year Carolina nearly beat them, but Carolina turned out to be a much better team at the beginning of last year than they are this year. With all their injuries in the trenches and the sad way their defense has been playing, I just do not see them keeping Seattle under 30. On the other side, they have to score points despite losing the battle of the trenches and that is not easy.
What’s Next? Go ‘Hawks!
ST. LOUIS RAMS
SPECIAL! Just when you think the season is lost and HC Jeff Fisher is on the hot seat, the Rams upset the Seattle Seahawks with the help of a few trick plays on special teams. St. Louis almost gave up another double digit lead but held on for the 28-26 victory. The Rams are 2-4 and feeling good heading to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs. Let’s take a look at the week 7 Fantasy production with week eight potential.
QB: QB Austin Davis (18-152 with 2 touchdowns) was efficient throughout the game and led the Rams on a fourth quarter game winning drive. Davis completed over 80% of his passes and did not turn the ball over. This guy is improving weekly. QB Shaun Hill was the backup but did not see the field. Kansas City is 2nd against the pass allowing 209 yards per game. The Chiefs have allowed 11 touchdowns while collecting 3 interceptions and 17 sacks in six games. Week 8 Recommendation: Davis should continue to produce decent numbers while running the ball control offense. 200-250 passing yards and 1-2 touchdowns are achievable.
RB: RB Zac Stacy (zero touches) played only one play and reports have come out that he was nursing an ankle injury; however, it looked more like rookie RB Tre Mason (18-85 and 1 touchdown rushing) has taken over as the lead back. Mason looked quicker and more explosive than Stacy but he almost cost the Rams a victory when he fumbled near the end of the game. Mason still needs to improve his pass blocking but he looks like a good runner. RB Benny Cunningham (2-3 rushing and 5-46 and 1 touchdown receiving) was solid all around and made huge contributions on special teams with a 75 yard kickoff return and a fake punt reception on fourth down. RB Tre Watts was relegated to special teams’ action only. Kansas City is ranked 18th against the rush at 117.7 yards per game but has yet give up a rushing touchdowns. Week 8 Recommendation: I have no idea who will carry the load going forward but I would have to bet on Mason for the immediate future. Pick up Mason if you can and see what happens.
WR: WR Tavon Austin (5-16 rushing and 3-6 receiving) got the most touches of the receivers but did not do much with them. WR Brian Quick (2-33), WR Kenny Britt (2-4), and WR Chris Givens (1-30) made important contributions but not enough for Fantasy teams. Stedman Bailey (punt return for touchdown) did not catch a pass but pulled off the trick punt return that gave the Rams a 21-3 lead. WR Austin Pettis was inactive for the Seahawk game and was released this week. WR Week 8 Recommendation: Tavon needs to turn his touches into more production to become Fantasy viable. The rest of the Ram receivers are Fantasy afterthoughts.
TE: TE Jared Cook (3-25) had a quiet game while TE Lance Kendricks (2-17 and 1 touchdown) scored the game winning touchdown. TE Corey Harkey (1-9) made a key first down with his lone reception. Week 8 Recommendation: Cook is still the top receiving tight end but Kendricks has been scoring the touchdowns. I would play Cook against the Chiefs.
K: PK Greg Zuerlein (4 of 4 extra points 1 missed field goal attempt (52)) missed his only field goal attempt and almost cost the Rams dearly. His attempts have been sparse so he needs to make them when given a chance. Week 8 Recommendation: Zuerlein is a second tier Fantasy kicker due to lack of opportunities but I stick with him due to his strong leg (we get bonus points for longer field goals).
DEF: Finally! “Sack City” gets more than one occupant. St. Louis sacked Russell Wilson three times; however, that was about all they did as Wilson rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown and passed for 313 yards with 2 touchdowns. CB Janoris Jenkins (7 solo tackles and 2 assists), DB Lamarcus Joyner (7 solo tackles), and CB E.J. Gaines (6 solo tackles) led the Rams in tackles so you know that linebackers LB James Laurinaitis (3 solo tackles) and LB Alec Ogletree (4 solo tackles and 2 assists) had poor games. Ogletree was especially disappointing failing to contain Wilson on his runs. DE Robert Quinn (3 solo tackles 1 assist and 1 sack) finally got to do his “Bernie Dance” recording his first sack of the season. DT Aaron Donald (4 solo tackles, 1 assist and 1 sack) continues to be productive and is enjoying a nice rookie season. Week 8 Recommendations: Laurinaitis and Ogletree are not producing as expected and Quinn has disappointed so far but hopefully he goes on a sack streak. I think Quinn gets to Alex Smith at least once while Laurinaitis and Ogletree accumulate a bunch of tackles. It would be nice to see a sack or interception from the linebackers.
A big win can do a lot for a team and hopefully the Rams keep in going against their cross state rival. My Fantasy team continues its free fall but there is not much I can do. My buddies and I are off to Cabo San Lucas this week so enjoy the games while we try to catch some big fish! Love and Blessings to my Family. Miss you Pops. Aloha!