For a deeper review of players that are either new to the scene or playing differently than expected, Double Coverage will give the respective views of John Tuvey (Start Bench List) and David Dorey (Game Predictions and Player Projections). We'll bring 47 years of combined fantasy football experience to bear and hopefully a few things to think about as you manage your fantasy team.
QB Nick Foles (PHI)
TUVEY: Philly fans, you get what you asked for. This week that shouldn’t be all bad, what with the Redskins offering up little resistance to the passing game. If Foles can go for 219 and a touch being thrown into the fire against a top-five pass defense like the Cowboys, I like his chances against a bottom-five D like Washington’s with a week of prep—even more so if Jeremy Maclin’s sore back allows him to play. A good week will keep the fan base clamoring for the rookie, and the concussion will allow the Eagles to be as… um… “patient” with Michael Vick as they need to be. It’s a favorable closing sked for the Philly passing game, so Foles is just as good a long-term add as he is a short-term fix this week.
DOREY: I like him. I do not know why really. I just like him. This is the very best of all reasons to play fantasy football. I can imagine that Foles is starting some great career and I just grabbed him from the waiver wire. Sweet! I mean I am probably not going to start him until there is a reason, but I love guys like this. He is actually a little bigger than most quarterbacks at 6-6 and 243 and comes off an illustrious career at Arizona. He has the one characteristic that will serve him best in Philly - he is not Michael Vick. I grabbed him in a few leagues that I had room. Why not? Unlike most quarterbacks you know nothing about, he at least has a pretty good set of receivers in DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek (who I think I am liking more here lately) and LeSean McCoy. He knows this is an audition for the rest of the year and for 2013. I want to see what he can do because he has a really nice situation all things considered. I'll be watching.
WR Danario Alexander (SD)
TUVEY: When discussing Alexander, you’ll want to keep the phrase “when healthy” on speed dial. A hamstring injury that prevented him from working out for teams in the preseason kept alive his streak of missing at least six games in each of his three pro seasons; our sister station KFFL has a page tracking his entire injury history and it’s far too extensive for a guy in just his third year. That said, Alexander has managed to put together back-to-back quality games for the first time as a professional and there’s zero question he has the size/speed combo to be an impact wide receiver. Norv Turner says he’s going to use Alexander, and with Robert Meachem underachieving the Chargers have an opening for a wideout. So the opportunity is there, and the talent is there. However, the red flags are there as well. Enjoy Alexander’s run, start him if and when you can… but be ready for the inevitable injury that will knock him from your lineup.
DOREY: He's baaaaack. Alexander is the kind of player that only fantasy footballers would know and yet know him rather well despite his four career touchdowns over three years. It started in 2010 when his first game was 4-72 and a touchdown. Then no more scores again but he threw in games of 4-95 and 6-99 among the general nothingness just to keep him going on and back off the waiver wire. In 2011, his first game was 3-122 and a touchdown. Then he played ten games in all and scored once more and managed one decent game of 6-91. He missed five games in the middle of the season because he has already had five surgeries on his knees which by this point are held together with duct tape and Legos So he finally got some playing time in San Diego now and had 3-61 versus Kansas City and then 5-134 and a score in Tampa Bay. The Chargers need someone! Yeah, so did the Rams for two years too. Bottom line here - Yes. I would own him now (ahem... might have picked him in a league or two actually) but only because he's a cheap waiver wire guy now. But I have no faith he will remain healthy or string two big games together. Rare to find anyone with upside on the waiver wire this late in the year. What the heck.
TE Tom Crabtree (GB)
TUVEY: Jermichael Finley has been targeted more than Tom Crabtree in every game this season except Green Bay’s last game, when both saw two balls. And the story of the season is encapsulated in what Finley and Crabtree did with those targets: Finley caught one for six yards and most likely dropped the other; Crabtree caught one of the two targets and took it 72 yards for a touchdown. It’s to the point now where Finley and Crabtree are essentially seeing the same number of offensive snaps; even though Finley is still running a significantly larger portion of pass routes, he’s not turning them into nearly the productivity Crabtree is. Crabtree isn’t targeted enough to be relied upon as a viable every-week fantasy tight end, but as a plug-in option he’s more trustworthy than Finley. So when a favorable matchup like the Lions appears on Green Bay’s schedule and you have an injury or bye week issue to address, the tatted-up Crabtree is the more favorable fantasy start.
DOREY: This is an interesting tight end. Not in a " I want to go grab him" sort of way though. He caught the 72 yard touchdown versus the Cardinals in their last game. And he caught a 48-yard touchdown in Houston when the Packers were already up 35-17. My problem is that he's nothing more than those two catches. It seems prudent to look for the next great Packers tight end since Jermichael Finley apparently is not it. But they have not give up on him yet, surprisingly, and the reality is that this is not an offense that has to have a receiving tight end. Pretty effective even with Finley doing next to nothing. And Crabtree has just four catches for 63 yards outside of those two catches - all year. He's only caught as many as two passes in a game just once this year. Three weeks he was blanked. Enough - yeah he is at the top of your free agent tight ends but he's highly unlikely to do anything if you rely on him.
WR Alshon Jeffrey (CHI)
TUVEY: It’ll be tough to plug Jeffery into your fantasy lineup this week; he’s been sidelined since Week 5 with a broken hand and his return to action is iffy at best for the Monday night game, plus it’s a tough matchup and the Bears might be helmed by backup Jason Campbell rather than regular starter Jay Cutler. However, it’s a good time to snag Jeffery as a fantasy helper for the rest of the season; despite missing the last five weeks he still ranks second among Chicago wideouts in touchdown grabs and is just three yards behind Earl Bennett for second in that category as well. He demonstrated at least a little chemistry with Cutler during the early going, and once he’s back he’ll easily leapfrog the Bears’ other receivers to become Cutler’s number two downfield option. Number two to Brandon Marshall isn’t necessarily a lucrative role, but Jeffery offers more upside than just about anything else you can find bobbing in your free agent pool at this point of the season.
DOREY: Honestly I have already been surprised by how well Brandon Marshall has done for the Bears given that no receiver really ever does well for the Bears. Now I have to think about the #2 guy. First off - I would not want him the rest of the year because I cannot imagine that he'll do too much. Scares me too that week 12 (MIN), 13 (SEA) and 15 (GB) are at home outside where weather may be an issue. But Jeffrey is 6-3 and 220-ish and he definitely can become a decent enough flanker. He does provide the only decent set of hands to throw to outside of Marshall but even then he's only played one game with more than 45 yards in it. All I really see with him is a bye week filler sort of guy and even that will probably only happen next year when he gets better.
QB Colin Kaepernick
TUVEY: There is most definitely a place in today’s NFL for a guy with Kaepernick’s skill set; run/pass QBs like Cam Newton and RG3 have made an impact, and all the buzz suggests Chip Kelly is about to bring Oregon-style football to The League as well. That makes Kaepernick an intriguing dynasty stash, but his short-term fantasy value is significantly less mouth-watering. For starters, it sounds like Alex Smith will shake the cobwebs and be back in the lineup for the 49ers this week. Even if he isn’t, rather than a soft matchup like Nick Foles has Kaepernick would face the Monsters of the Midway on the Monday night stage. Also, Kaepernick still doesn’t have an NFL passing touchdown so he’s still more novelty than answer. San Francisco is doing a nice job of mixing him into the game plan, but it’s tough to tell if he’s ready for a full game of duty—and a date with the Chicago defense offers no margin for error if he’s not.
DOREY: I want to see what Kaepernick can do. He was drafted with the 49ers 2.04 pick last year, just one spot behind Andy Dalton. He's sort of the opposite of Alex Smith and was brought in to challenge him for the starting job. Kaepernick has a cannon arm and they bring him in for the 60 yard Hail Mary plays already. He runs well as we just saw when he gained 66 yards and a score against the Rams last week. Smith is a game manager who has been limited in the past with sub-standard receivers and a brand new offense to learn literally every year. But he doesn't have the big arm or the mobility. He is a veteran who won't make many mistakes which is important. Smith is probably going to play this week which is too bad because I really wanted to watch Kaepernick. Gore is getting old and the offense could use a refresh.