Injuries are spreading pestilence across the league. Sleeping giants have awakened, lions begun to roar. Goats have become heroes, and would-be heroes became goats. This was Week 6 in the NFL. This is your week in numbers.
1. Kenny Britt: 4 receptions, 62 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
If you had the stones to start Britt against Pittsburgh after injury concerns dogged him throughout the week, congratulations.
Aside from injuries, Britt just has not gotten it going this season. Whether it was simply due to rustiness coming back from a torn ACL or a lack of chemistry with Jake Locker, the talented wideout had caught just nine passes for 83 yards to that point.
We got a reminder of Britt’s fantastic play of a year ago with Matt Hasselbeck. It was not quite the incredible output we saw from Britt during his brief brush with fantasy stardom, but a solid performance nonetheless. Which begs the question: will he be able to keep it up, particularly when Jake Locker returns?
2. Isaac Redman/Baron Batch: 5 carries, 14 yards; 4 receptions, 105 yards/10 carries, 22 yards, 1 touchdown; 1 reception, 3 yards
A week after Rashard Mendenhall’s triumphant return to the Pittsburgh lineup, he finds himself back on the sidelines with another injury. We do not know how long he will be out, but it looks like we do know what the plan will be while he is out.
Baron von Batch did a decent enough job on the ground to lead the team in carries after Mendenhall’s injury. Isaac Redbull, while sporting 100-plus yards receiving thanks to some Chris Berman-inspiring running, was not a big part of the offense with just nine touches overall.
If you must wade into the muddy waters of Pittsburgh’s backfield, Batch might be the safer bet.
3. Baltimore Ravens Rush Defense: 819 yards, 7 touchdowns
Underrated going into Week 6 was the fact the Ravens defense had some problems stopping the run. Jamaal Charles had just run wild the previous week in Kansas City. Charles is an elite talent, but BenJarvus Green-Ellis had his best week against them too, and that was in Baltimore’s best game of the season in Week 1.
It was this relatively poor rush defense that gave up 227 rushing yards to the Cowboys, including 92 yards to the resurrected fantasy corpse that is Felix Jones. Injuries played a part—Haloti Ngata, in particular, was a big loss in the middle of that defensive line—but the Cowboys were gashing them on the ground all game long. This looks like it will be a trend now that the Ravens cannot depend on injured Ladarius Webb to shut down opposing receivers. Ray Lewis—the heart, soul and motivation of this defense—is gone for the season as well.
Baltimore was already a nice matchup for opposing running backs before these injuries. Going forward, it should be a great one if your running back is going up against that depleted defense.
4. Matthew Stafford: 22/45, 311 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception; 3 carries, 7 yards, 1 touchdown at Philadelphia Eagles
The Lions were coming off a bye, so it stood to reason they would be able to work the kinks out of their sputtering offense.
The kinks were still there through three-and-a-half quarters. Stafford was missing open receivers at times and throwing into double coverage at others. Jason Hanson was once again a fantasy stud as the Lions offense continued their trend of failing to finish drives.
Only at the bitter end, when Stafford’s fantasy owners were cursing their luck and tearing their hair out, did the Lions wake up and roar. This is what you drafted Stafford for, minus the heartburn. Keep the faith.
5. Shonn Greene: 32 carries, 161 yards, 3 touchdowns vs. Indianapolis Colts
Do not adjust your computer monitors; you are seeing that stat line correctly. The Mayans might be stirring in their graves, though.
As if halftime and post-game shows did not already make you aware, Shonn Greene had the game of his life against the Colts. The Indianapolis defense made Greene look like Earl Campbell out there as the third-year running back pounded his opponents into the ground.
Now would be the time to sell high on Greene. His career has crested. There is nowhere to go but down, down to the depths of fantasy irrelevance once more. If we are wrong, may the Police Plodder meet an untimely death.
6. Randall Cobb: 7 receptions, 102 yards at Houston Texans
Aaron Rodgers went nuclear on the Houston Texans, but none of those touchdowns went to Randall Cobb. Instead, two of James Jones’ three catches for 33 yards were in the end zone.
While Cobb may have been shut out of the end zone, he is clearly becoming a bigger part of this offense—Percy Harvin Lite, if you will. He is not likely to be involved in the offense nearly as much as Harvin—particularly when Greg Jennings returns—but he clearly has the potential to have a huge fantasy day or two. Now might not be the time to buy, but if Jennings returns and Cobb gets relegated to backup duty once more, Cobb will be a sneaky good stash.
7. Felix Jones: 18 carries, 92 yards, 1 touchdown at Baltimore Ravens
Directly correlated to Baltimore’s defensive woes against opposing running backs, Felix Jones rose from the dead and had a great game. He even got his touchdown before injuries really hit the Ravens, scoring on a 22-yard scamper that was initially called out-of-bounds at the one yard line.
Adding to Jones’ appeal this week is DeMarco Murray’s foot injury. It knocked him out of the game, and we have no idea the extent of the damage. While it might seem like it will be minor, we thought the same of Darren McFadden last season. He turned out to miss the final nine games of the season.
Apparently Murray suffered some ligament damage and will likely miss Week 7. At this point, Jones is a must add, particularly if Murray is going to miss extended time. He comes with a big red warning sticker: the talented running back is every bit as injury-prone as Murray is turning out to be, and he has never taken full advantage of his skills. If you are set at running back, you could hold him hostage to the Murray owner in your league.
8. Josh Gordon: 3 receptions, 99 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Last week’s game against the Bengals marked two in a row where Gordon caught a long touchdown pass. This time it was a beautifully lofted pass that was matched in beauty by the one-handed catch Gordon made in stride en route to the end zone.
With Greg Little continuing to struggle and the Browns receiving corps depleted, could this be the beginning of a trend for the second-round pick? He got off to a predictably slow start after being taken in the supplemental draft mid-July—he was behind the eight ball when it came to learning the offense and adjusting to NFL competition, particularly coming off a year-long hiatus from football.
It seems he is coming into his own, but to what extent? The long touchdown passes will not be there every game; without them, Gordon’s statistics would be quite pedestrian over the past couple of weeks.
9. Alex Green: 22 carries, 65 yards; 1 reception, 8 yards at Houston Texans
We have our answer to the question of who will be garner the most playing time in Green Bay. James Starks was largely relegated to mop-up duty after the Packers mopped the floor with the Texans.
The issue with this line is the paltry 3.0 YPC. Houston has a good defense, which may have been the real reason, but Green’s average could have been higher considering how much attention the Texans had to pay to the passing game. At this point, though, Green is a good RB3/flex option in a good offense. The touchdowns will come if he continues to play this much.
10. Josh Freeman: 15/26, 328 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception vs. Kansas City Chiefs
This is a glimmer of what we could see from Freeman if he could play at a high level on a consistent basis.
He has two great receivers in Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, and the Tampa Bay running game can set up the pass nicely. Kansas City’s defense has not been terribly good this season, but they do have Brandon Flowers, who did not live up to his billing. Is this a fluke performance or can we expect more performances like this from Freeman?
Until he shows some consistency, we will lean more to the former on this one. Do not fall all over yourselves trying to get Freeman if he is available and you need a quarterback, but he would certainly be a nice backup if you are so inclined.
11. Dez Bryant: 13 receptions, 95 yards, 2 touchdowns at Baltimore Ravens
This is the type of performance we have expected out of Bryant for years only to be stymied by immaturity and a lack of effort. Of course it was not all rainbows and lollipops for Bryant, who dropped the game-tying two-point conversion and did a fair amount of whining throughout the day.
Still, this was a great fantasy performance from the third-year receiver. It comes on the heels of the second 100-yard game of his career. He has now caught 21 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns over the past two games, both against good defenses. (Though, in fairness, Ladarius Webb was injured midway through the game in Baltimore, altering the Ravens’ pass defense significantly.)
There are two ways to look at the last couple of weeks from Bryant: 1) He is finally living up to his potential, and Tony Romo is rewarding him for it, or 2) It is indicative of nothing, taking the rest of his career into consideration. If you feel like this is a fluke, now would be a good time to sell high.
Marshawn Lynch: 15 carries, 1 yards vs. New England Patriots
This is more indicative of New England’s game plan than Lynch’s ineffectiveness as a runner. The Patriots dared the Seahawks to beat them with the pass, and Russell Wilson was up to the task.
Darren McFadden: 27 carries, 70 yards, 1 touchdown at Atlanta Falcons
He might have had a nice fantasy day, but McFadden’s YPC continues to plummet on the season. He did look better than he had through the season’s first quarter, but he was still unable to generate big plays on the ground.
Michael Turner: 11 carries, 33 yards vs. Oakland Raiders
We warned you about Turner and what would happen if he did not get into the end zone. It was a good matchup for the Falcons offense all around, but Turner could not get anything going, even at the goal line. He might be a bit too ripe to sell at this point, but his value might still be high based on his workload.
Stevan Ridley: 16 carries, 34 yards at Seattle Seahawks
It was good to see Bill Belichick continue to trust Ridley with a big workload despite some fumbling issues, but he did not reward his fantasy owners with a good game. The Seahawks do have a pretty good defense, but Ridley has had some trouble with the better defenses in the league. His average against Arizona, Baltimore—which we have established is actually not very good against running backs—and Seattle comes out to a paltry 3.0 YPC.