What in blazes is happening in fantasy football lately? Nothing makes sense anymore. I can trace it back to Week 6, the day when Fantasy Planet was knocked off its axis. Some of us still haven’t recovered or adjusted yet either. Up to that point we were cruising along with relatively few surprises. Sure, Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd were doing a great Kelly-to-Reed impersonation. No problem, we picked them up and got back to work. Arian Foster unloaded like a fantasy howitzer and we welcomed him aboard. But overall everything was pretty much as expected. QBs Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers were near the top, RBs Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson likewise, and of course WR/TEs Reggie Wayne, Miles Austin, and Antonio Gates were clicking. Then here comes Week 6. Bench players, aging players, erratic players – even unowned players – manufactured more points than anyone expected. Using ESPN scoring, look at some of Week 6’s fantasy leaders vs. the flops.
|Week 6 Leaders
|K. Kolb 23
||R. Torain 22
||D. Bowe 22
||B. Watson 14
|M. Cassel 20
||L. Tomlinson 18
||P. Garcon 16
||H. Miller 11
|J. Flacco 19
||T. Jones 17
||D. Branch 16
||B. Scaife 11
|C. Henne 16
||C. Ivory 16
||R. Williams 14
||T. Heap 10
|C. McCoy 14
||D. Woodhead 12
||D. Alexander 13
||A. Fasano 9
|Week 6 Flops
|B. Favre 6
||J. Best 4
||S. Holmes 3
||A. Gates 1
|D. McNabb 9
||M. Turner 4
||D. Driver 3
||J. Shockey 2
|P. Rivers 11
||M. Jones-Drew 5
||M. Colston 5
||C. Cooley 3
|T. Brady 11
||R. Mathews 7
||W. Welker 5
||B. Celek 4
|J. Cutler 12
||L. McCoy 8
||S. Moss 7
||D. Clark 5
It’s never been the same since. A lot of you scrambled to pick up Chris Ivory or Danario Alexander. The joke was on you. I actually benched MJD after that 5-point week and went with – you guessed it – Chris Ivory. It’s Sunday morning, Week 7, 11:00 am. I’m setting my lineup after picking up Ivory a few days earlier. The Saints were at home vs. Cleveland and as you recall, MJD just wasn’t clicking. “New blood,” I thought to myself. “Let the chips fall where they may.” Whatever. Some 3 hours and 9 beers later those “chips” turned to “chunks” when I saw Jones-Drew hang 17 points on Kansas City. Ivory had 4 points vs. Cleveland. Aargh. I’ve been out of sync for weeks now.
Now fast-forward to Week 11 and a league-wide injury explosion has left a huge crater. We’re seeing fantasy points pouring in from the most unlikely of sources. Look below at the scoring leaders over their last 5 games:
(Note: I’m not counting Michael Vick, who’s in Madden mode with an obscene 152 points in barely 5 full games this season. That’s a story for another article, I promise.)
|Fantasy Leaders - Over Their Last 5 Games
|E. Manning 102
||D. McFadden 98
||D. Bowe 94
||A. Gates 72 (Wk 4-8)
|M. Cassel 97
||A. Foster 91
||R. White 86
||V. Davis 48
|J. Flacco 95
||A. Peterson 90
||T. Owens 82
||M. Lewis 46
|K. Orton 94
||C. Johnson 84
||B. Lloyd 81
||T. Heap 45
|P. Rivers 93
||P. Hillis 81
||C. Johnson 80
||J. Witten 40
|A. Rodgers 91
||F. Gore 80
||H. Nicks 76
||R. Gronkowski 38
|R. Fitzpatrick 89
||J. Charles 77
||M. Wallace 73
||J. Tamme 37 (3 gms)
What’s my point? Hell I don’t know. I just wanted to show empirical evidence that 2010 has been absolutely nutty. Matt Cassel, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Peyton Hillis, Brandon Lloyd, Marcedes Lewis… these were undrafted fantasy players.
Now I’m going to start fresh with my personal Rest Of Way Rankings list from Week 11 forward. It’s a 7-game season. Here are 20 QBs, 30 RBs, 45 WRs, 20 TEs, taking into account the schedule, weather, personnel, etc., with tons of patented JUMbo commentary included. No kickers or defenses please, this season’s been hard enough without trying to predict those. OK buckle yourself in. This is a very, very long writeup.
(Warning: Although I’m deadly serious with this list, it’s comprised with the idea that all pre-season fantasy rankings are null and void. Even September is a distant memory. I’m hitting the reset button on 2010. For a more responsible Rest Of Way map, click here for Huddle staffers John Tuvey & Tim Van Prooyen’s rankings.)
1. Philip Rivers – If the Chargers are going to make the playoffs they will have to ride Rivers’ arm. By Week 12 all his wide receivers (including Vincent Jackson) will be back. Rivers finished as the 5th best fantasy QB in 2008 and could have been around 5th again last year if he didn’t leave the meaningless Week 17 game after one series. This year he’ll take Top QB honors, chucking it all the way through the finale at Denver.
2. Michael Vick – I’m trying not to be blinded by Vick’s 6-TD solar flare on Monday night. It’s hard not to put him #1. His numbers have been staggering (No duh!) when he’s been on the field. You’ve surely heard about some of his eye-popping stats but here’s another one: Vick is averaging 26 points per game in ESPN leagues right now, and yet when Tom Brady threw 50 TDs in 2007 he only averaged 24.4 per game!
3. Peyton Manning – Has anyone noticed Peyton cooling down? He’s thrown 3 TDs in his last 3 games, the fewest he’s had in a 3-game stretch since Weeks 1-3 of 2008. His QB rating has also been sub-90 in three straight contests for the first time since that same stretch in 2008. Perhaps not coincidentally, Dallas Clark has missed the last 3 games. Austin Collie’s return (likely next week) will help immensely.
4. Jon Kitna – One of my best fantasy teams ever had Seahawks triplets in 1999: Jon Kitna, Ricky Watters, and WR Derrick Mayes. Kitna’s had a month of first-team practices with Dallas now. His reps are like dog years, so a month for him is like a year’s worth of reps for say, Colt McCoy. Don’t you dare bench Miles Austin or Dez Bryant.
5. Drew Brees – Last year the Saints’ Week 13-16 slate was pretty nice -- @ WAS, @ ATL, vs. DAL, vs. TB. Brees was cooling a bit at that late stage in the season but still averaged 318 passing yards in those games, along with 7 TDs and 2 INTs. This year’s Week 13-16 slate is @ CIN, vs. STL, @ BAL, @ ATL. Not much Superdome love in crunch time. That’s the reason Brees is not in my top-3.
6. Aaron Rodgers – Did you know 3 of his next 4 games are indoors? Weeks 11-14 are @ MIN, @ ATL, vs. SF, @ DET. Lots of warm and toasty spirals in the fantasy oven... However, Donald Driver just admitted he tore a muscle in his thigh last month. James Jones has a bad case of the dropsies but he can flat-out dominate at times. If TE Andrew Quarless returns this week from a shoulder injury it’s a bonus.
7. Ben Roethlisberger – I get the feeling he’s thinking too much lately. In his first 2 games off suspension he had a 123.2 QB rating. In the last 3 games it’s 81.8. And if the Patriots hadn’t let off the gas when they were up big in the 4th quarter, Ben’s recent numbers would be worse. Still, out of these 8-12 ranked names Ben is most capable of erupting into the top-4. Note: I don’t think Nnamdi Asomugha (high ankle) will come back this week because of that treacherous Heinz field sod.
8. Shaun Hill – In 6 or 7 years we’ll be talking about Hill like we do about Kitna now. A reliable fantasy product when he’s playing, always underappreciated. Hill has the most underrated WR/WR/TE trio in football – Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, and Brandon Pettigrew. Matthew Stafford isn’t coming back so Hill is golden.
9. Eli Manning – LT David Diehl (hip/hamstring) is out for a couple more weeks. Actually these absentee left tackles don’t freak me out like they used to. Philip Rivers went buck-wild without Marcus McNeill. Ryan Fitzpatrick has one of the worst left tackles in football. Eli will cool off a little, but not much. I hate his Week 15 (vs. Philly) and 16 (at Green Bay) though.
10. Kyle Orton – He’s on pace for 4988 passing yards, 28 TD passes and 9 INTs. Orton will steal an AFC Pro Bowl alternate spot since Ben Roethlisberger missed 4 games and Matt Schaub has been shaky.
11. Josh Freeman – Don’t forget, if LeGarrette Blount rams it in on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line two weeks ago at Atlanta, we’re talking about the 7-2 Buccaneers. Freeman has thrown at least 1 TD in 6 straight games and even though he’s yet to hit 300 yards, his 25 yards/gm rushing offers nice support. Freeman’s Week 14-16 schedule -- @ WAS, vs. DET, vs. SEA -- simply cannot be ignored.
12. Joe Flacco – Make no mistake, he’s been very steady lately. I don’t like Cam Cameron’s play-calling anymore though. Flacco can’t help win fantasy titles against New Orleans in Week 15 or at Cleveland in Week 16.
13. Tom Brady – Weird to see him down here. Weird season though. His hair looks weird too, sort of like Andy Gibb circa 1978.
14. Matt Ryan – As long as Ryan has Roddy White he’s a good matchup-play in 12-team leagues.
15. Matt Cassel – I’m just not a believer. Cassel was downright awful vs. SD, CLE, IND and BUF.
16. Jay Cutler – Last month I told you RG Roberto Garza was back from a knee scope and would give the Bears “a small hint of consistency up front… allowing Chris Williams to move to left guard where he’s best suited.” The result? Only 5 sacks on Cutler in 3 games. Too bad we don’t get fantasy points for improved offensive line play. The good news for Bears fans is they have a real shot at the NFC North crown.
17. Vince Young – Ask any Titans insider and he’ll tell you Vince, uh, overreacts a bit to pain. His ankle is fine. The question is, and always will be, can he make their passing game consistent? Forget the 97.6 QB rating, he’s only thrown it 140 times all year.
18. Ryan Fitzpatrick – Early in the season he was gunning it downfield but lately they’ve been calling too many 7-step drops. This offensive line isn’t built for cozy pockets. Fitzpatrick’s only completing 54% of his passes the last three games.
19. Sam Bradford – His rookie season ranks up there with the best of ‘em so far. 60.2% completions, 12 TDs, 8 INTs… and he’s a thrown a TD in all but one game.
20. Mark Sanchez – Carson Palmer, Donovan McNabb and David Garrard just missed the cut. McNabb’s $78 million contract is bogus and for all we know he’ll get pulled for Rex Grossman again. Garrard? I would have sold high two weeks ago. Palmer? He might get hospitalized at the NY Jets on Thanksgiving.
1. Chris Johnson – Is it a coincidence that CJ2K averaged 6+ yards per carry at Miami for only the 3rd time in his last 14 games? Nope. The Randy Moss effect. OC Mike Heimerdinger must be in the film room rubbing his hands like Mr. Burns.
2. Arian Foster – Foster has 24 runs inside the 10-yard line, tops in the league, more than Ronnie Brown (6), Ray Rice (6), and Rashard Mendenhall (11) combined. Remember back in Week 2 when people asked, “Sell high?” I hope you didn’t. Foster’s enjoyed holes bigger than Phil Hellmuth’s ego.
3. Frank Gore – The quietest top-5 fantasy back in a while, Gore is on pace for 2,100 yards from scrimmage, and with the 5th easiest fantasy schedule there’s a chance he’ll push it up near 2,300. That’s all-time top-10 territory, folks. If your fantasy title game is Week 17 (yes, some leagues actually still play that week), note that Gore is at home vs. Arizona.
4. Jamaal Charles – He’s still a top-10 fantasy RB in any scoring system and has proven to be quite a nice fantasy pick. Many of you got him in the 3rd round too. No one, I mean no one, has an easier fantasy RB schedule over the next 4 weeks: vs. AZ, @ SEA, vs. DEN, @ SD. Giddy up.
5. Adrian Peterson – 4 of his next 5 games at home on the lovely Field Turf (or Momentum Turf, whatever they call it now). Did you know that over the last two seasons Peterson averages 4.64 per carry on fake stuff and 4.15 on grass? Hey, every little tidbit counts.
6. Peyton Hillis – Every few years some big fella bursts on the scene and runs like a complete madman. This year it’s Hillis. Brandon Jacobs, Marion Barber, even Anthony Thomas, they were that guy once. Cleveland’s offensive line is playing better than anybody (sorry NYJ) and the schedule offers up the Jags, Panthers, and Bills over the next month.
7. Ahmad Bradshaw – Anyone else feel a 150 total-yard/3-TD game coming soon? I do. Are you listening to a biased and hopeful Bradshaw-owner? You are. Bradshaw is on pace for 1,850 yards from scrimmage and is averaging 24 touches over the last 4 games. Sort of Faulk-like lately with all the catches.
8. Darren McFadden – He’s the #1 RB in football on a yards per game basis. Do you realize he would be on a 1,700-ish rushing pace if he hadn’t missed two games? Even so, McFadden is going to pass Napoleon Kaufman’s 1,294 mark for 2nd all-time in Raiders history behind Marcus Allen’s 1,759 yards in 1985. Look out for McFadden in Week 16 at home vs. Indianapolis.
9. Michael Turner – Keep starting him. The next 2 games aren’t ideal matchups -- @ STL, vs. GB -- but from Weeks 13-17 Turner has the 2nd easiest fantasy RB schedule in the league.
10. Steven Jackson – Not a Jackson fan, never have been. He causes too much stress with all those game-time decisions. However, he has 593 total yards and 2 TDs in his last 5 games – and besides that busted finger his body’s in pretty good shape.
11. Maurice Jones-Drew – Back-to-back 100-yard rushing games for the first time since Weeks 6-7 of 2009. I’ll hand it to the guy, he kept fighting when things were bleakest last month. I still believe the rumor that MJD had his knee scoped in late August, which makes him even more of a hero.
12. Rashard Mendenhall – Do you old-timers remember how Ahman Green used to run out of gas in the later part of the season? From 2000-2006 Green played in 24 December games and averaged 3.75 per carry or less in 13 of those games. That’s how I see Mendenhall. I’m hope I’m wrong.
13. LeGarrette Blount – Two weeks ago I told you Blount would be the next great “Match Light” – the term I use to describe RBs that spark fantasy teams later in the season with fresh legs. If you get into your fantasy playoffs with Blount, he’s got Washington, Detroit, and Seattle from Weeks 14-16, the last two at home.
14. LeSean McCoy – It was annoying to see Jerome Harrison mixed in so soon last Monday night (the score was only 14-0), but Andy Reid wanted to see what his new acquisition could do. Harrison broke a 50-yard TD on his third carry. I don’t smell pure RBBC but I do anticipate Harrison playing more than McCoy-owners would like.
15. Ray Rice – I had Rice #6 on my draft board behind (in order) Johnson, Gore, Turner, Peterson and (ugh) DeAngelo. I’m into “paydirts,” the term I use for carries inside the 6-yard line. Opportunities. Since ‘09 Rice has 13 paydirts and Willis McGahee has 20.
16. Shonn Greene – Just a hunch. The numbers are trending toward Greene’s emergence. He’s young, fresh, and coming off a season-high 23 touches.
17. Fred Jackson – The backfield is his, with Spiller out (for a game or two) and only Quinton Ganther left to spell him a few times. Fred is strong in the 4th quarter. Big fan.
18. Cedric Benson – I probably give him too much credit. I thought since the Bengals kept dangling that carrot (he only got a 2-year $7 million deal in 2008) that he’d chase it for 1,500 yards this year. He hasn’t. Schedule shows Week 12 @ NYJ, Week 14 @ PIT, Week 15 vs. CLE.
19. Knowshon Moreno – I want to talk about how great he looked in the Chiefs blowout but I’m afraid I’ll jinx him. What a breath of fresh air if he starts contributing!
20. Felix Jones – The Cowboys have the easiest remaining fantasy RB schedule in the league from Weeks 11-17. Felix is healthy too. I still think he’s Norwood 2.0, however.
21. Jahvid Best – Best leads the league in a category you don’t want to lead in: Stuffs. He’s been stuffed at-or-behind the line of scrimmage 21 times. It’s not just the toe, the Lions offensive line sucks. However, Kevin Smith (thumb surgery) is gone so Best remains locked in for 20 touches.
22. LaDainian Tomlinson – First 5 games, 5.7 yards per carry. Last 4 games, 3.4 per carry. Math is king. You’ve been warned.
23. Reggie Bush – This is a PPR-based list and I have a hunch Bush is chomping at the bit. It was just a small crack in the fibula, not knee cartilage. He’ll be fine.
24. Thomas Jones – After a hot start Jones has only averaged 2.7 per carry the last 3 weeks. These old guys are showing their mileage. I’m tempted to stick Keiland Williams up here, somewhere around #23-25, but I usually steer clear of Shanahanigans.
25. Matt Forte – Mike Martz is toning it down and starting to grind the ball more with Forte. Not as much as he should, but at least more. Forte’s fantasy RB schedule is 26th going forward but the way he’s running he could surprise us. If he were playing for Cleveland or Kansas City he’d be Pro Bowl bound.
26. Marshawn Lynch – He’s listed at 215 lbs. No way, he’s 225 easy. Lynch looks slow, and this Bills blogger noticed it too.
27. Donald Brown – I’ve said from day one that Addai’s nerve damage spooks me big-time. Mike Hart apparently wrecked his ankle (high sprains are often actually cracked fibulas) so I’m assuming Brown is the main guy from here on out. Javarris James is a fly in the soup, but at #27 I’m not declaring Brown a stud.
28. Willis McGahee – Taking out his inactive Week 6 (when they held him out pending a trade that obviously fell through), McGahee has scored in 5 of 8 games.
29. Keiland Williams – As of Thursday Ryan Torain (hamstring) is not practicing and is unlikely to play. K.W. seems safe at Tennessee this Sunday, but I’ll bet you an autographed Joe Jacoby helmet that Shanahan plays James Davis this week or the next.
30. Brandon Jackson – No one talks about it but Jackson was a very expensive free-agent pickup in bidding leagues; I know one guy who spent $600 of a $1000 fantasy FA budget to get what he thought would be Ryan Grant numbers. Huge bust.
1. Calvin Johnson – Johnson has scored at least once in 17 of his last 30 games (again, for the purpose of my columns I always count that TD catch at Chicago). He’s got 8 TDs in his last 6 games. I don’t care who the QB is as long he played some junior-college ball and has a temperature of 98.6.
2. Greg Jennings – Again, 3 of the next 4 are indoors. What a gift! Jennings’ next 5 opponents have a combined average ranking of 20th against fantasy WRs. I love him coming off the bye week.
3. Hakeem Nicks – The loss of Steve Smith shouldn’t be an issue. Mario Manningham will continue to draw the same attention that Smith did. Nicks leads everyone with 6 red-zone TDs. That’s where the fantasy money is.
4. Roddy White – He’s the man. You aren’t benching him. And except for Week 15 at Seattle every remaining game is indoors or warm weather.
5. Jeremy Maclin – Before you log out and leave me here, let me explain this ranking. I’m all about health, touchdowns, and targets at this point. Maclin is built solid unlike his teammate D-Jax and he’s scored 8 TDs in his last 10 games including playoffs. In the last 5 games that Maclin and Jackson were both on the field, Maclin out-targets him 32-22. I think Maclin is the key to many fantasy trophies this year.
6. Miles Austin – Kitna is groovin’ and Dez Bryant is movin’. The field is opening up. Over the long haul I expect Austin to make a push toward the top-10 WRs. From Weeks 11-16 every one of their games are indoors.
7. Reggie Wayne – It’s kind of hard to decide where Wayne belongs. You could justify him at #2 or #3 just on past demonstrated reliability. What bothers me is he’s had one touchdown in his last 7 games. One.
8. Brandon Lloyd – You know all about his numbers by now. At this point the only things that can stop him are A. Orton getting hurt, B. Lloyd getting hurt, C. Weather.
9. Terrell Owens – This list is “Rest Of Way” not “Last Six Games” or else he’d be #1 or #2. Carson Palmer’s throws are losing more zip each week and the Bengals have the hardest fantasy WR schedule from Weeks 11-16.
10. Mike Wallace – Like I said in my last Under The Numbers column: “Frankly, I believe Nov. 14, 2010 is the day Wallace became a star in the NFL.” He was awesome last Monday night.
11. Andre Johnson – The nagging high-ankle sprain, Matt Schaub’s knee bursitis, doesn’t it feel like AJ’s walking a tightrope? Yes, he had a huge game last week but I’m telling you, there was a 60-yard reception where he was easily caught from behind. His right ankle is heavily wrapped on Sundays.
12. DeSean Jackson – No one can deny he’s the most explosive WR in football, but I can’t go top-10 without receptions. How do you open with an 88-yard TD on the first play and only end up with 2 catches for 98 yards? I also noticed Jackson grabbed his hip in the 3rd quarter. Dude is fragile.
13. Larry Fitzgerald – Don’t look now but Larry’s been a top-8 fantasy WR over the last 3 games.
14. Dez Bryant – Hot is hot, I don’t like to question it. Dez is lightning and if you bench him you risk missing at least one huge play.
15. Marques Colston – I mentioned that the Saints have a bunch of road games coming up, but this week Colston is at home at Seattle. Then after that his next 5 opponents have a combined average ranking of 21st against fantasy WRs. Not bad.
16. Percy Harvin – Weeks 14-16 bring the Giants, Bears, and Eagles. Two are at home, but it’s still a jagged playoff slate.
17. Mike Williams (TB) – The 2nd easiest fantasy WR schedule from Weeks 11-16 including home games vs. Detroit and Seattle in 15 & 16. Williams has more fantasy points than Jennings, Austin, or Fitzgerald.
18. Steve Johnson – Last week was the first game that Johnson didn’t have at least 1 TD and/or 100+ yards since Week 2. Amazing! I do feel that defenses have more of the “Fitzie & Stevie Show” on tape so there could be tough sledding ahead.
19. Anquan Boldin – The yardage is spotty but he’s scoring touchdowns here and there. Boldin could be huge at Houston and vs. Cleveland in Week 14 & 16.
20. Dwayne Bowe – 8 TDs in 5 games is simply amazing but sooner or later he’s going to get bottled up. There’s no one else to draw attention away.
21. Danny Amendola – The new Wes Welker PPR specialist, and he’s never had the benefit of a Randy Moss across from him. Disclaimer: I just acquired Danny and will start him at WR3 vs. Atlanta.
22. Randy Moss – I’ll admit that I’m a Titans season-ticket holder and yes, I’m sort of giddy. Not in a fantasy way, but in a hoping-for-a-Nashville-postseason-game way.
23. Vincent Jackson – I’m assuming Jackson will reclaim his starting ‘Z’ spot in the lineup for Week 12 at Indianapolis. Then the next 3 games are at home.
24. Pierre Garcon – Drops, penalties, bad routes. If there weren’t so many other Colts injured, I bet Peyton Manning would have put Garcon on waivers himself.
25. Mario Manningham – It’s not rocket science. Eli’s on pace for career-highs (though also for INTs) and Manningham is the No. 2 WR for at least 2 more weeks.
26. Johnny Knox – He has quietly posted over 400 receiving yards in his last 5 games, 9th in the league over that span.
27. Malcom Floyd – If his hamstring is OK then he is still a threat to score in every game, with or without Jackson on the field.
28. Wes Welker – Still hasn’t scored a touchdown since Moss left. It’s amazing how less-than-great you become when the field isn’t stretched out for you.
29. James Jones – If not for some tragic drops he’d be a top-20 fantasy WR over the last 3 games.
30. Brandon Marshall – Uh oh, the hammy. It’s a game of musical chairs for WR Bust of the Year, and Larry Fitzgerald finally stole a seat. Only Brandon Marshall and Randy Moss are left. Two guys, one chair. Cue the music…
31. Nate Burleson – NFLN’s Brian Baldinger said Burleson is playing at a very high level. True, though it’s all fun and games when Megatron is out there with you.
32. Braylon Edwards – No 100-yard games, but 5 touchdowns. The 5th easiest fantasy WR schedule from Weeks 11-14.
33. Jabar Gaffney – Very effective fantasy player in 12- and 14-team leagues. Stick him in the flex and just leave him there. Don’t over-think it.
34. Davone Bess – One of the JUMbo fantasy darlings, I’m afraid my boy will lose momentum with Tyler Thigpen under center.
35. Louis Murphy – Don’t snooze on this guy. His bruised lung is healed and the Raiders offense is no longer one-dimensional.
36. Mike Thomas – “Hail Mike” was my Week 10 JUMbo Hunch of the Week. Wow, hunch indeed! Six or seven of you have dropped wonderful words of gratitude in my inbox. I appreciate the success stories because it makes my job fun.
37. Mike Williams (Sea) – Bizarre player, he only shines when they play Arizona. In those 2 matchups he has 22 catches – in his other 7 games he has 24 catches combined.
38. Hines Ward – Forget the concussion, his problem is age. Over his last 20 games he averages 11.2 yards per catch.
39. Chad Ochocinco – His shoulder is really banged up (I swear it looked like a season-ending injury on TV last week) and either he or Carson Palmer won’t finish 16 games.
40. Nate Washington – He scored a TD in Randy Moss’ first game as a Titan. Hmmm…
41. Robert Meachem – His offseason toe surgery is finally behind him and Reggie Bush is back. Meachem’s their best pure playmaker and he should surge in the coming weeks.
42. Lee Evans – His patented midseason burst has come and gone. 11 catches for 192 yards and 4 TDs vs. Jags & Ravens. To astronomers he’s like Evans’ Comet and he won’t score again for 76 years.
43. Derrick Mason – No one notices but he’s had at least 80+ yards and/or 1 TD in 4 of his last 6 games.
44. Santonio Holmes – He’s been back from suspension since Week 5 and scored once.
45. Michael Crabtree – Actually, last week when 49ers WR Josh Morgan caught a 65-yard pass I thought to myself, “Morgan’s better than Crabtree.”
TEs: (Not much to say about tight ends, all the injuries took the fun out of them)
1. Jacob Tamme
2. Antonio Gates
3. Jason Witten
4. Brandon Pettigrew
5. Vernon Davis
6. Dustin Keller
7. Kellen Winslow
8. Tony Gonzalez
9. Marcedes Lewis
10. Aaron Hernandez
11. Brent Celek
12. Zach Miller
13. Andrew Quarless
14. Chris Cooley
15. Rob Gronkowski
16. Greg Olsen
17. Todd Heap
18. Visanthe Shiancoe
19. Ben Watson
20. Anthony Fasano
JUMbo “Flex Gem” of the Week: Raiders WR Louis Murphy at Pittsburgh. He’s had over three weeks to rest after suffering a bruised lung in Week 7 at Denver. The Steelers secondary is a mess. CB Ike Taylor is playing well but Bryant McFadden and William Gay are huge liabilities. Now we hear that S Troy Polamalu has a strained Achilles’ tendon. With the play-action fakes set up by Darren McFadden’s running I believe Jason Campbell will find Murphy deep down the seams.
JUMbo “IDP Surprise” of the Week: Bucs LB Geno Hayes at San Francisco. Hayes isn’t making anyone forget Derrick Brooks but Bucs fans know he’s shown signs of being a playmaker. Hayes took a pick-6 to the house at Arizona, and also leads the team with 8 tackles for loss. He’ll disrupt Troy Smith’s passing lanes (who will be without LT Joe Staley) and maybe jump a couple short routes. Plus, I’ve always rooted for Hayes after his girlfriend stabbed him in the head with a pair of scissors last year. Women…
Speaking of women… Three saucy cheerleaders made the cut this time, one from Dallas, one from St. Louis, and of course we always peek at a Tampa girl.
Good Luck this week!