My FanDuel team logged a season-low #384 finish out of 455 entries in The Huddle $500 FreeRoll. If you beat me (how could you not have?) you’re getting $5 deposited in your account later today. If you haven’t registered at FanDuel what are you waiting for? Their weekly fantasy leagues really add to your Sunday experience because you can field a totally different team every week.
Digging deeper for a baker’s dozen of did-you-know stuff from Fantasy Week 9.
1. Joe Flacco completed 28 of 47 passes for 300 yards, 1 TD and 0 INTs in the 23-20 win over Pittsburgh at Heinz Field. He targeted 9 different receivers.
Flacco’s game-wining drive was a thing of beauty, generating four 1st downs – all through the air – and ending with a 26-yard TD to Torrey Smith. The Ravens converted 14 of 21 on 3rd downs. They came into the game ranked a lowly 26th in 3rd-down conversions at 33% but this game launched their ranking up to 16th for the year, up to 40%. Could this be one of those springboard games that revs up the engines? All sings point to it. 1) Anquan Boldin is healthy and dynamic, quietly averaging 101 yards over his last 4 games. 2) They have a new weapon, H-back Dennis Pitta, who’s caught 11 passes for 90 yards the last 2 weeks. 3) LB Ben Grubbs is back after missing 6 games with a toe injury. NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora said Grubbs was a “difference-maker.” 4) The Ravens’ schedule is an absolute delight: at Seattle, vs. Cincinnati, vs. San Francisco, at Cleveland, vs. Indianapolis. JUMbo Whisper: Was it just me or did ESPN.com flash 314 passing yards – not 300 – for Joe Flacco on Sunday night? Even as late as 2:00 am, hours after the game, I swear it said 314 yards.
2. Reggie Wayne, or as I like to call him, Waldo, caught 4 passes for 30 yards in the 31-7 loss to Atlanta.
Where did this guy go? It can’t be just the loss of Peyton Manning, people. Reggie just isn’t getting separation, especially in the red zone where quickness is king. Heck, Larry Fitzgerald’s been playing with Derek Anderson, Max Hall, Richard Bartel, Kevin Kolb, and John Skelton for the last 24 games and still scored 9 TDs. In his last 24 games – 15 of them with Manning, mind you – Wayne has 6 TDs. You could argue that part of it is that Wayne has had to share targets with Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, and Dallas Clark – but that doesn’t fly. In his last 24 games Wayne has a whopping 243 targets, exactly the same as Fitzgerald’s 243 targets. Bottom line: Wayne is done. Drop him now if you haven’t already. It’s too late to trade him – no one wants that garbage on their lawn – and besides, right now there are intriguing young prospects on the WR wire: Jacoby Ford, Brandon Gibson, even Andre Caldwell, who was targeted 9 times in the slot for Cincinnati last week.
3. Brandon Jacobs carried 18 times for 72 yards and 1 TD in the 24-20 win over the Patriots. He also caught 4 passes for 28 yards, with a surprising 5 targets on the day.
Jacobs showed absolutely no signs of a nagging knee injury. Giants DE Justin Tuck said it best: “When that guy is motivated to play he’s tough to handle. I don’t care who’s playing him, people do not want to see him in the hole when he’s running like he was running today. I hope he understands how valuable he is to this team.” Jacobs didn’t rewrite record books or anything but he dished out punishment and made the Pats linemen very sore and tired. Only one of his 18 runs went for 0 or negative yards, and he didn’t seem to be tired at all in the second half. Jacobs had a chance for a second touchdown on Eli Manning’s incredible final drive but couldn’t ram it in from the 1-yard line. Now here’s the tricky part. Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) is possibly coming back in Week 10 so can you count on Jacobs getting 22 touches again? Do you Sell High, especially since his opponent is the nasty 49ers defense? I would imagine that Bradshaw – given his history of playing through “cracked feet” before – will definitely play next week at home vs. Philadelphia. Decisions, decisions.
4. Tony Romo completed 19 of 31 passes for 279 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, and a 112.2 QB rating in the 23-13 win over Seattle.
Romo hit Miles Austin and Dez Bryant for 16 and 39 yards on the second drive of the game and it looked like he’d hang 400 on the Seahawks. But Jason Garrett quickly noticed that DeMarco Murray had come to play and the offensive line was getting a major surge: Murray had 22 carries for 139 yards in what I consider a better performance than his 253 yards vs. the hapless Rams. Seattle came into the game holding opponents to 3.1 yards per carry and hadn’t yielded a single 100-yard game. Romo almost had a TD run from the 5-yard line, scrambling up the middle, but the hole closed too quickly. Austin popped his hammy again and some reports indicate it might be a full month before he’s back. I don’t think Laurent Robinson is necessarily a downgrade as Austin’s replacement – he’s looked great when he’s had extended playing time. Earlier in the year Robinson started for Austin against Detroit’s Cover-2 defense and caught seven passes for 116 yards. He’s also playing for that big second contract that so many players crave after three or four years in the league. I’m dropping Reggie Wayne for Robinson as you read this.
5. Drew Brees completed 27 of 36 passes for 258 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT and also had a 20-yard run in the 27-16 win over Tampa Bay.
Don’t look now but the Saints are re-committing to the run of late. Chris Ivory (15), Darren Sproles (8), and Pierre Thomas (4) carried the ball 27 times, mostly behind the mauling blocks of left guard Carl Nicks. He’s become quite a force. 16 of the 27 RB carries went to the left, off of Nicks and LT Jermon Bushrod’s bulldozing. However, Brees still got his numbers, and he’s ever-so-quietly on pace for an NFL-record 5,340 passing yards. Back in 2008 he was on the “Marino” pace all season and came within one misfire to Lance Moore in the season’s final minute of breaking Marino’s 5,084. Darren Sproles came through with 99 total yards and a TD catch – plus he also had a TD run negated by a holding penalty on Devery Henderson. Pierre Thomas scored again for the 3rd time in his last 5 games. He’s worth a weekly flex in all 12-team leagues.
6. Frank Gore carried 19 times for 107 yards and caught 1 pass for 7 yards in the 19-11 win over Washington.
Gore hurt his left ankle in the second quarter but gutted through it because he’s a man. It’s not the same ankle he injured in September, but there is “a reason for concern” because he was reportedly in a lot of pain after the game. Interestingly, the 49ers ran 6 plays in the red zone and Kendall Hunter carried the ball on 3 of them. Gore had 2 red-zone carries, including a stab from the 4-yard line where he couldn’t get it in. Gore also dropped a pass from Alex Smith inside the Redskins’ 10-yard line. Michael Crabtree caught 5 passes for 51 yards and continues to perform as a legitimate WR3 in 10- and 12-team leagues. The 49ers’ next 5 games are: Giants (ranked 24th vs. fantasy RBs), Cardinals (19th), Ravens (2nd), Rams (30th), and Cardinals (19th) again. Keep Kendall Hunter rostered, folks. If Gore can’t go Hunter will be a top-10 RB vs. the Giants.
7. Julio Jones returned after missing 2 games (3 weeks) with a pulled hamstring to catch 3 passes for 131 yards & 2 TDs. He was targeted 4 times. Jones also carried the ball 2 times for 33 yards. Roddy White caught 4 passes for 76 yards and was targeted a team-high 9 times.
Jones was electrifying with TDs from 50 and 80 yards out. On the 80-yard catch-and-go he outran three Colts DBs (two of which had an angle on him initially) to paydirt. White was still the primary receiver as usual, but Matt Ryan overthrew him twice and got picked off on a slant route. Ryan has thrown at least 1 TD in 7 straight games but it’s not enough given his lofty 6th-round ADP. Even if you “stole” Ryan in the 8th round he’s been a disappointment while fantasy draft-rejects like Matt Hasselbeck and Ryan Fitzpatrick have matched him point for point. I still can’t get off the Buy Low feeling on Ryan and White, however – and it might be outright stubbornness – because the Falcons’ schedule is friendly with 3 straight home games vs. New Orleans, Tennessee, and Minnesota next. JUMbo Whisper: RB Jacquizz Rodgers had 11 touches for 60 total yards vs. Indy, on the field for 22 snaps compared to Michael Turner’s 33. And don’t forget, this wasn’t a come-from-behind thing. Atlanta was up 14-0 in the 1st quarter. “Jacquizz Rodgers' touches went up this week and he's proven that he can run the ball from all our personnel groupings,” said HC Mike Smith.
8. Roy Helu carried 10 times for 41 yards and caught 14 passes for 105 yards in the 19-11 loss to San Francisco.
No more numbers here, just a warning. Sell High. How many more times can you bite on this Shanahan crap? You know darn well he’ll find a reason to bench Helu for Ryan Torain again. 14 receptions out of the backfield? He’ll never catch even 7 passes in a game again, much less 14. C’mon, you can land a king’s ransom from one of your league’s PPR blood-suckers. Do me a favor, please. Put Helu on the trading block and see what you’re offered – then post the proposals in Comments below. This might be a chance to reinforce your roster with bricks and mortar.
9. Reggie Bush carried 13 times for 92 yards and 1 TD, plus he caught 3 passes for 50 yards in the 31-3 win at Kansas City.
Bush is healthy again and running north-south. His TD was an end-around coming out of the slot and he just opened the throttle like he did in his USC days. Bush also had a 38-yard run wiped out by an illegal shift penalty. His 195 rushing yards in the last 2 games is his most ever back-to-back. The Dolphins only ran 2 plays in the red zone all day (strange, considering the beatdown score) and both were Matt Moore TD passes to Anthony Fasano and Brandon Marshall. Marshall played his best game of the year, burning Chiefs DBs constantly with sharp cuts and physicality. Watch Marshall (at top left) fight off the jam and get loose for a 30-yard reception. The Dolphins – with Chad Henne & Matt Moore quarterbacking this year – rank a respectable 12th in yards per attempt with a 7.3 mark. Fasano only gets 3 or 4 targets per game but he’s scored 3 TDs in 3 weeks. JUMbo Whisper: For some reason Fasano seems to turn it on later in the season, every year. Since 2007 he’s scored 18 TDs and 12 have come after Week 8. Back to Bush, Dolphins HC Tony Sparano told reporters he’s just learning how to use him because they just signed him on July 28th after the lockout. “A lot of this has to do with time missed,” Sparano said. “Had you had some of these guys [in mini-camps], maybe you would have a better idea of how you want to use Reggie a little better. The way we used Reggie yesterday is not necessarily the way New Orleans used him.”
10. Michael Bush carried 19 times for 96 yards and caught 2 passes for 33 yards & 1 TD in the 38-24 loss to Denver. He also had 2 carries for 7 yards negated by penalties.
His 22 combined carries & targets (The Huddle designates these as RB “Plays”) was 10th among all RBs in Week 9. That’s exactly what I expected, though it should be pointed out that if Carson Palmer hadn’t thrown 3 picks Bush would have had many more touches. In fact, in the last 2 games with Palmer and Kyle Boller at QB the Raiders have had 26:23 and 28:09 in time of possession. In the previous 3 games they had been averaging 31:12 in time of possession. The offensive line’s 5 penalties didn’t help either. Darren McFadden isn’t expected back in Week 10, which is a Thursday night game at San Diego. “Running back Darren McFadden (foot) hasn't started running yet ... Can he really play in 3 days?” tweeted Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday.
11. Brandon Lloyd caught 5 passes for 80 yards in the 19-13 loss to Arizona.
Lloyd leads the NFL with 38 targets over the last 3 weeks – his first 3 games as a Ram. That’s about 13 targets per game with Josh McDaniels at the controls. They didn’t sign Lloyd to serve mashed potatoes in the team cafeteria, folks. He will continue to get 10+ targets per game as long he’s a healthy player. How many other wide receivers can you say that about? Greg Salas suffered a fractured fibula and will miss the rest of the season. Salas had been getting seven targets per game over the last month, which is a lot of passes that need to be re-dispersed among Lloyd and Brandon Gibson. Sam Bradford was a little rusty on that bum ankle (255 yards, 73.3 rating) but he did stick a few nice throws. St. Louis is at Cleveland in Week 10 then home vs. Seattle in Week 11.
12. Michael Vick completed 21 of 38 passes for 213 yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT in the 30-24 loss to Chicago. He added 34 rushing yards.
One of the bigger weekly fantasy disappointments of the season, with countless owners sitting on Vick Monday night needing 16, 18 or even 25 points to pull out a win. Normally, Vick would have been a near-lock to strike a ‘W’ for those people Monday night because he’s scored 25> fantasy points in 12 of his last 16 full games. Not this time. Vick threw low, high, and behind his receivers all night. The Eagles offense is about explosive plays and only LeSean McCoy is offering them. McCoy had 117 total yards and 1 TD, and just took the #1 fantasy RB spot from Fred Jackson, PPR or not. Vick has only thrown 2 passes that traveled over 30 yards in the air over his last 3 games.
13. Willis McGahee carried 20 times for 163 yards and 2 TDs in the 38-24 win at Oakland.
The Denver Post reports the Broncos made some tweaks to their offensive line in Week 9, adding OG Chris Clark as an extra lineman for jumbo packages. McGahee's 60-yard touchdown jaunt came off that formation. Clark was used at right tackle with OT Orlando Franklin moving to the left side, which allowed them to put two starting tackles on the left side. I gotta say, this has John Fox written all over it. He used to do this stuff in Carolina and it helped spring DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart for huge runs. McGahee is on pace for a career-high 1,335 rushing yards despite missing 1 game with a broken hand. If Darren McFadden keeps missing games McGahee could sneak onto the AFC Pro Bowl roster with Arian Foster and Fred Jackson. Tim Tebow added 118 rushing yards vs. Oakland, helping the Broncos amass 299 rushing yards – the most they’ve had in a game since the 2000 season. Give Broncos OC Mike McCoy credit for installing the Tebow-friendly read-option offense. Adapting is winning. Tebow also threw TD passes to Eric Decker and Eddie Royal: He’s back on fantasy radar for a road game at Kansas City, who couldn’t stop anything the Chargers or Dolphins did recently. JUMbo Whisper: Eric Decker is a top-30 fantasy WR over his last 5 games.