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JUMbotron Friday Huddle: Week 10
John U. Miller
November 11, 2011

The FanDuel Week 10 $500 Huddle FreeRoll is active.  Click here and if you’re an existing FanDuel user log in with the "Existing Users?" link at bottom -- and you’ll be taken straight to the action!  We haven’t had over 500 players since Week 3.  Why?  You might not win the big cash but $5 goes into your account if you beat the JUMbotron.  It’s FREE to play!  Wake up!

Prediction A:  ____ ____ will be a top-6 fantasy QB in Week 10 vs. the ____ in interconference play.

Prediction B:  A well-rested ____ _____ will go to _____ and shred their secondary for double-digit catches.

I’ll fill in those blanks in a few minutes…

How would you like to secure a top-12 fantasy RB for the fantasy playoffs right now, totally on the cheap, without gutting your roster or killing your rhythm?  Well, you can.  49ers RB Kendall Hunter.  First, if you already own him – Hold on tight.  If he’s on the waiver wire – Pick him up now.  If he’s on someone else’s roster – Make an offer.  Here’s the JUMbo Scoop: San Francisco is 7-1 and their 5-game lead in the NFC West is untouchable.  Believe it or not, the 49ers could lock up the division in two weeks.  Soon they could have a whole let less to play for except the No. 2 seed behind Green Bay – but even that could be well in hand by Week 15 if the NFC East and NFC South continue to beat themselves up.  If the 49ers win their next two – vs. NYG, vs. Arizona – and both Arizona & Seattle lose their next two, the NFC West battle is over.  Arizona plays at Philadelphia, at San Francisco: Two losses, mark it down.  Seattle is at home vs. Baltimore and at St. Louis: Two losses, quite possible.  So what’s the big deal about Kendall Hunter?  Well, if you were Jim Harbaugh and you were say, 10-2, going into a Week 14 game at Arizona – and your star tailback Frank Gore was approaching 2,000 career touches on two sore ankles, what would you do?  You’d give Kendall Hunter at least 15 touches, maybe 18-20.  The kid averages 5.6 yards every time he touches the football – run or catch – and is probably the premier handcuff in the NFC.  Even in the most conservative estimate let’s say Harbaugh waits to pull Gore in Week 16… Hunter would start in fantasy championship week at Seattle, getting 20-25 touches against a team undoubtedly thinking about 2012 and trying new personnel.  He could be your flex for God’s sake!  I see Kendall Hunter helping some of you hoist a fantasy trophy.

I want to give a State of the Union on the top RBs in today’s NFL.  As I’ve said before, a rolling 16-game sample is my measuring stick for current greatness.  What I want to know is, which RBs are generating the most yards – on the ground, through the air – and what is their average gain every time they touch the ball?  Touchdowns matter, but not quite as much as yards to me.  TDs come and go, but if the yardage is constantly high the scores will follow suit.  I tabulated the top-10 RB yardage makers over their last 16 games each.  A few of them missed a game here and there so I simply counted back a couple weeks further to fill their 16-game sample.  Note:  Frank Gore has the 8th most total yards over his last 16 games (1,769) but I left him off the list because he missed the last 5 weeks of 2010.  You have to be reasonably durable to make the cut and Gore simply missed too much action last year.

Top-10 RB Yardage-Makers Over Their Last 16 Games
Running Back Total Yds Touches Avg TDs Games Out
Arian Foster 2237 416 5.38 16 2
Matt Forte 2141 344 6.22 6 0
Fred Jackson 1995 338 5.90 11 0
M. Jones-Drew 1937 380 5.09 8 2
L. McCoy 1911 321 5.95 15 1
Ray Rice 1882 357 5.27 12 0
D. McFadden 1878 301 6.24 13 2
A. Peterson 1592 315 5.05 17 1
S. Jackson 1516 341 4.44 9 1
M. Turner 1486 347 4.28 14 0

A few observations:  Aside from the hamstring injury that cost him 2 games this season (and probably 2 losses for his fantasy owners) Arian Foster is still the man.  All is forgiven.  He gets the most touches, most yards, and loads of TDs.  The Texans offensive line made a transformation into the 2002-2005 Broncos offensive line, with perfectly executed zone-stretch runs and a healthy dose of chop blocks.  Not to take anything away from Foster.  Matt Forte is the No. 2 yardage-maker and thusly, the 2nd best fantasy RB right now in my eyes.  6 TDs is a little low but gosh, he makes up for it in the receiving game.  And he’s never missed a football game.  Ever.  Jay Cutler has tossed 8 TDs to other players inside the 10-yard line over these 16 games – otherwise Forte’s possibly right behind Foster in total fantasy points.  LeSean McCoy is officially elite.  He’s also the youngest guy on the list at age 23.  I’ll point out that Maurice Jones-Drew is holding up nicely but he’s still got a bum left knee, and I bet he’s secretly had it drained a few times this year.  MJD just crossed the 1500 career-touch mark too, the first step in a running back’s inevitable decline – even with good knees.  Darren McFadden, on paper, is the premier yardage-maker on a per-touch basis at 6.24.  Remember that when injury skittishness puts him in the early 2nd round of your draft next year.  Adrian Peterson’s fantasy reputation is based on touchdowns of late, and that just can’t hold up.  He just crossed the 1500 career-touch mark as well.  Fred Jackson didn’t just come out of nowhere, he was balling down the stretch last year.    

JUMbo Buy/Sell/Chill Report:

BUY: Rams QB Sam Bradford.  As expected Bradford was a little rusty in his first game back after missing two weeks with a high ankle sprain.  Though 255 yards and 0 TDs was not exactly what I expected.  But things have to turn around for Bradford, I’m convinced of it.  Steven Jackson is starting to rumble again with 289 rushing yards in the last two games, his most back-to-back since Weeks 7-8 of 2009 (283).  Brandon Lloyd appears on the verge of a re-breakout according to my eye test.  Mark Clayton is coming back from a torn Achilles’ and says he’s at 90 percent and climbing.  I’ve been staring at this portion of the Rams’ season since posted the schedule on April 19 -- at Cleveland, vs. Seattle, vs. Arizona – and I swear by the Hammer of Thor that Bradford can help some QB-needy owners this month.

BUY: Cowboys WRs Dez Bryant & Laurent Robinson.  They’re reporting Miles Austin will miss 2-4 weeks with his aggravated hamstring but we all know that’s misleading.  When the hammy re-pops and he grabs his buttock for the second time in one season, you know it’s bye-bye for 4 games, period.  Bryant’s been lukewarm by our lofty fantasy standards but he’s tallied at least 63 yards and/or 1 TD in 6 of his 7 games.  Bryant’s 17.0 yard avg. per catch is robust too.  He’s on the verge of a breakout.  Robinson is the absolute top-dog #1 WR pickup this week.  Big fan.  Did you know he’s the 24th-ranked WR over his last five games – and that’s with Austin on the field for 4 of those games!?!  Now with Austin swept into a dustpan the floor is clean enough for Robinson to eat off it.  JUMbo Whisper: Robinson has two 100-yd games this year.  Austin has 1, Bryant has 0.   

BUY: Saints WR Lance Moore.  Sean Payton’s playbook is like a carousel, spinning around and throwing people off as quickly as they hopped on.  Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson have been tossed.  Henderson had 9 targets in Week 1 but only a scant 20 in the last 8 games.  Meachem, never a target-monster himself, did get 8 in Week 1 and had a faux-fantasy spurt with 1 TD in each of the first 3 games.   Lately?  Invisible.  Perhaps not coincidentally Lance Moore missed the opener when those two guys were so busy.  He had a wicked groin injury in August and it took two full months to get rolling, but over the last 3 weeks he has 16 targets, 13 catches, and 2 TDs.  Henderson and Meachem have barely filled the box scores.   Early Friday morning update:  Moore missed Thursday’s practice with a hamstring.  Follow The Huddle News for more.

BUY: Ravens QB Joe Flacco.  Over the last 3 weeks Flacco leads all QBs with 136 pass attempts.  It’s only resulted in 2 TD passes but I gotta say the general pass-attempt trend is inviting.  Flacco had a rough first half of the season but it seems like the light flicked on last week at Pittsburgh; though it actually came on the week before, at home vs. Arizona.  Down 24-3 late in the 1st half the M&T Bank Stadium crowd was booing Flacco harder than Nashvillians boo Chris Johnson. Or were they booing Ravens OC Cam Cameron?  Either way, Cameron stuck Flacco in the shotgun in the 2nd half, ran some no-huddle – and Boom!  He goes 19 of 27, with 2 TD drives & the game-winning kick.  Flacco faces Seattle, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Cleveland & Indianapolis in the next 5 weeks… 3 at home.  In Week 16 he’s got Cleveland again, at home.

BUY: Chiefs RB Jackie Battle.  Sort of a mini-Match Light, Battle averages 17 carries for 76 yards over the last 4 weeks, with 1 TD and a 100-yard game.  Last week was supposed to be his official coming-out party (at least in my eyes) at home vs. Miami, but the Chiefs defense betrayed him.  Midway through the 2nd quarter Miami was up 14-3 – when Battle already had 10 carries for 32 yards – and Todd Haley abandoned the run.  From that point on Haley called 32 pass plays and 13 run plays, and 5 of those 13 runs went to come-from-behind guy Dexter McCluster. I love Battle at home vs. Denver this Sunday.  You’ll also want Battle on your roster if you make it to Week 16: at home vs. Oakland’s 30th ranked defense vs. fantasy RBs.

BUY: Redskins WR Jabar Gaffney.  Coming off a 4-40-0 game, I noticed that Gaffney is one of the 8 “Most Dropped” players in ESPN leagues this week.  His owners threw a brick at the TV when RB Roy Helu ate up a never-again-fluke-of-the-year 14 catches against the 49ers.  Swoop in and pick up Gaffney right now if you’re a little crispy at the flex spot.  He won’t re-write fantasy record books but he’s a No. 1 WR on his own team, something rarely spotted on waiver wires.  Before last week Gaffney was nestled comfortably in the top-25 targeted WRs.

SELL: Chargers RB Ryan Mathews.  Did you see him almost intentionally try to get tackled in his own end zone last night? You know me, I pick on this guy every chance I get.  Two weeks ago the sight of Mathews standing on the sidelines – helmet off – in a divisional war with the Chiefs made me sick.  Of course he missed Week 9 vs. Green Bay.  Against the Jets in Week 7 he missed half the game with a thumb injury (?).  His thumb.  Man where are have all the warriors gone?  Curtis Martin, Emmitt Smith… Sigh.  Oh, and in Week 5 Mathews left in the 4th quarter with a calf injury.  If not for the Week 6 bye he would have missed that game too.  Look, I know Mathews was impressive for a prolonged stretch earlier this year – a top-5 fantasy RB from Weeks 2-5 – but “earlier” doesn’t count.  Beanie Wells was impressive “earlier” too.  You wanna win a fantasy title?  Don’t rely on Mathews.  Trade him.

SELL: Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald.  That TD catch last week was lucky because Rams safety Craig Dahl was in a daze.  Use that TD and shop Fitzgerald now.  Kevin Kolb (foot) is a mess and won’t be back for another couple of weeks, and it’s not like his presence put Fitz in the fantasy stratosphere anyway.  It just seems to me that moving Fitz now – fresh off a ESPN highlight catch – is your chance to peel a solid RB off someone.  Marshawn Lynch?  James Starks?  Even Chris Ogbonnaya (who will rebound off that tough Texans matchup).  Get an RB to flex in the playoff stretch, and besides, middling WRs like Fitzgerald grow on trees… 4 catches, 43 yards, 1 TD, you can grab that off the wire anytime.

SELL: Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.  After a frisky September – first 3 games, avg. 280 pass yds, 9 TD passes – he’s come back down to Earth.  6 TD passes in his last 5 games.  The schedule was nice early, opening against the then-medicated Chiefs, the Asomugha-less Raiders, then the awful Patriots secondary; but the schedule has tightened up and will get even worse.  Three straight road games at Dallas, Miami, and NY Jets, followed by a Dec.4th home game vs. Tennessee when the Hawk wind starts to reach 30-50 mph in fluctuating directions.  Weeks 15 & 16 are at home for Fitzpatrick too.  His fantasy owners want him on the road somewhere – anywhere except at home in late December.  And what’s with Steve Johnson?  First 3 games: 20 catches, 256 yards, 3 TDs.  Last 5 games: 22 catches, 267 yards, 1 TD.  That groin injury might have finally put the kibosh on Stevie.  Trade him now too.   

SELL: Texans WR Andre JohnsonHis 6th missed game, are you kidding?  When Andre went down on October 2 didn’t they try to shovel the same “2 to 4 weeks” crap that Miles Austin owners are being fed now?  Now Johnson is out until Week 12 because of next week’s bye.  Call me a cynic but unless you’re in a keeper format are you sure A.J. isn’t stopping you from acquiring real WR help?  In fact, don’t call me a cynic: I told you right off the bat that Johnson was gone for 5 or 6 weeks and I was right. 

CHILL: Titans WR Damian Williams.  The yardage just isn’t there, but man he knows how to score.  Williams has scored in 3 of his 5 starts since Kenny Britt went down.  I know some Williams-owners are getting fidgety, thinking he’s living on the edge with the bail-out TDs – but you must stay the course.  Who else are you gonna play at WR3 or flex?  The targets are going to increase for Williams, too:  TE Jared Cook (knee), WR Lavelle Hawkins, and WR Nate Washington (hip) are all game-time decisions at Carolina this week.  I know “Someone’s gotta catch ‘em” is a fantasy cliché but it’s never been truer than with Williams.

CHILL: Cardinals RB Beanie Wells.  What else ya gonna do?  His reputation is so up-and-down, no one wants to take on the drama.  Hold onto Wells.  Strangely he’s been toughing out the hamstring & knee cartilage stuff (to mixed results) but last week was definitely a stinker.  10 carries for 20 yards against the Rams.  Ugh.  However, I’ll point out that John Skelton dropped back to pass on 22 of the Cards’ last 25 plays.  Beanie got 1 carry in the last 25 plays of the game.  I might even venture to say Beanie’s a BUY candidate coming off that bad game – because it wasn’t his fault or his injuries that were responsible.

CHILL: Bengals RB Cedric Benson.  Many of us hoped (me included) Benson would rip the Titans a new one last week, coming off a restful suspension with fresh legs.  20 carries for 78 yards.  Ugh.  However, I was at the game and I can tell you with confidence that Benson is still hitting holes hard – and he had two carries for 17 yards negated by penalties.  This is a rare back who averages 20 carries per game and you cannot just trade him willy-nilly because he didn’t score a touchdown.  I know the schedule is rough – Steelers and Ravens up next – but the Bengals move the chains and rank 10th in time of possession, so Benson will never lack for opportunities.  JUMbo Whisper: I’m eyeing his Week 15 & 16 matchups vs. the Rams and Cardinals and it’s chubby city, folks. 

I’ve never seen a button work so hard to stay fastened, Ms. Sterger.

JUMbo Quote of the Week: 

“If Albert Haynesworth wasn’t excited to play football with an absolute ton of money, how the heck is he going to get excited to play for no money?” -- ESPN’s Cris Carter on Tampa Bay claiming Haynesworth off waivers (11/9).

JUMbo Quote of Last Week:

“Remember my “Match Light” theory, the one about those precious mid-season RB breakouts that spark fantasy teams into the playoffs?  Domanick Davis, Julius Jones, Jamaal Charles… it’s a magical ride when you land one.  Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Mr. Match Light 2011 – Michael Bush.” – John Miller (11/4). 

Let’s talk about Bush because he looks like a damn monster, a cross between Jerome Bettis and Ricky Watters (with more bulk).  Great feet, iron stiff-arm, sticky hands.  Jesus this can’t be good for Darren McFadden’s dynasty value… Oh, wait… Bush is a free agent in 2012!  Man, nothing brings a tear to my eye quicker than a tailback chasing the cheddar.  Instead of hash marks whizzing by Bush sees dollar signs marked every 10 yards!  Bush rushed for 157 yards and 1 TD on 30 carries against the Chargers and also added 3 catches for 85 yards!  JUMbo Whisper: Darren McFadden was still (yes, still) using crutches to get around on Thursday.  18 days after the injury.  Bush-owners, you’re free and clear for another two weeks – at Minnesota, vs. Chicago.  Frankly I suspect McFadden has a Lis Franc sprain which would not only end 2011, it would hinder his offseason conditioning program in 2012.  I hope I’m wrong. 

JUMbo Tweet Highlights:

Redskins RB Tashard Choice practiced Wed. I can't WAIT to see Shanahan's new magic act, this is better than The Prestige!

No matter how early Packers clinch, Rodgers will sit out Wk 17 at most. He won't sit out Wk 16 & take a MONTH off before Rd2 home game.

Besides, Rodgers-owners... You have to GET to Week 16 first. Ignore any "Rodgers might not play in fantasy playoffs" stuff. Please.

Anquan Boldin quietly averaging 101 yds over his last 4 games. H-back/TE Dennis Pitta's caught 11 passes for 90 yds the last 2 games.

Willis McGahee avg's 5.1/carry at age 30. On pace career-high 1,335 yds despite bad hand, should be AFC Pro Bowl RB w/ Foster & Jackson.

Laurent Robinson, go to the bedroom, get under the bed. The next part is very important. They're going to take you. Stay focused baby.

Anyone else get the feeling Andre Johnson's fantasy season essentially ended 6 weeks ago? Distal (hamstring) tendon surgery?  C'mon.

Ryan Torain must have pinched Ms. Shanahan's butt again. He's been benched for Roy Helu.

"Ok, 8 feet of rope, will that be all today?" – Wal-Mart cashier to the man wearing a Ryan Torain jersey.

Chiefs falling behind by 14 or more = Jackie Battle standing next to waterboy.

RT @CarloGuerrera : Michael Bush (vs. DEN) over Brandon Jacobs (vs. NE) in a traditional scoring league Wk 9. Agree? > Yes. I'm a traditional kind of guy.

I could be totally missing something but Jonathan Baldwin still doesn't exist to me.

RT > I'm on fence about benching Jordy Nelson for the rookie WR Baldwin in KC. I'm crazy to bench Jordy, right JUMbo?  > Certifiable.

Most underrated player in the NFL right now is Darren Sproles. Runner-up: Bengals LT Andrew Whitworth.

RT @ROQQINRIQ : JUM, is Arrelious Benn worth grabbing this week?  > If you like losing.

They always mention Josh Freeman's comebacks. It's starting to smack of Jake Plummer. The best QBs strike early, don't need comebacks.

If you like recreational wagers I have a lead-pipe lock for you: Bengals +3 over Steelers.

JUMbo Things I’ve Noticed That Maybe You Haven’t:

--Matt Hasselbeck leads the league with a 74.3% completion percentage in the red zone.  It’s hard to complete 54%, much less 64% in a crowded NFL red zone.  I know there are whispers that Jake Locker is going to take over, but it’s not happening.  Hasselbeck has been very steady, a wonderful addition to the Titans who’s made the fans forget the horror that was Vince Young.  2012 is Locker’s year.

--Michael Turner leads all RBs with 15 carries inside the 3-yard line.  No one else even has 10. This is his bread and butter, the paydirt runs.  No matter what you think about his speed, or whether he’s lost a step (which he has), he doesn’t have a John Kuhn, Jed Collins, or Marion Barber to steal from him.  And technically, though the eye test says Turner isn’t as fast as he was 4 years ago, he already has 6 runs of 20+ yards with half the season left.  His career-high is 11 from back in 2008.

--The leaders in red-zone catches, regardless of position, are Wes Welker (11), Darren Sproles (9), Jimmy Graham (9), Rob Gronkowski (8), and Calvin Johnson (8).  These are the guys that will help you win over the long run - if you just leave them in the lineup.  Their name is etched in the playbook where it counts.  Interestingly, some big names are near the bottom: Greg Jennings (4), Jason Witten (4), Larry Fitzgerald (4), and Steve Johnson (4).  Sadly Andre Johnson came out fast with 4 red-zone grabs in his 4 games.  He was off to a helluva start.

--The most-sacked QBs per attempt are: Matt Moore (16 sacks in 154 dropbacks, or 10.4%), John Beck (10.2%), Blaine Gabbert (9.9%), Sam Bradford (9.7%), Kevin Kolb/John Skelton (9.5%).  As we hit the home stretch you’ll want to angle your Fantasy DEF lineup to try and meet one of these gentlemen.  Note that Ben Roethlisberger (7.5%) is pretty high up the list too, as he always is.

JUMbo Cheerleader Series:

Dolphins:  Anonymous
Texans:  Andrea (Can’t get away from this girl.  If I was standing next to her she’d be frantically swatting me off like a sweat bee)
Redskins:  Perfect
Eagles:  Fly Girl
Bengals:  Cutey Patooty

Prediction A:  Matt Moore will be a top-6 fantasy QB in Week 10 vs. the Redskins in interconference play.

Prediction B:  A well-rested Calvin Johnson will go to Chicago and shred their secondary for double-digit catches.

Follow me @HuddleJUMbotron so I can get over this damn 1,000 mark.  It seems to slide further away the closer I get to it.  I thought when Public Enemy’s Chuck D. started following me (no kidding) I would faint.  I used to listen to the PE in college when I was struggling with suburban discontent and drinking 40’s.  I’m serious.

Good Luck This Week!

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