I know that it's Tuesday and everyone is thinking about their lineup for week 10, but history is a great way to predict the future. The following is a reflection upon a fantasy week past. You will find some advice, but mostly the facts as they took place.
Falcons 31 - Redskins 17
Matt Ryan wasn’t at his sharpest, but he didn’t need to be with Michael Turner running the way he did. Turner racked up 166 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns. After a slow start, Turner now has 8 TDs over his last five games. Ryan struggled again (135 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) and has thrown nine INTs over his last five games. At this point, Ryan is a risky fantasy QB. Tony Gonzalez found the end zone for the eightieth time in his career and finished with 41 receiving yards. Roddy White didn’t get many looks as the Falcons ran the ball most of the second half. He finished with three catches for 27 yards.
One day the Redskins will score more than 17 points in a game, but that day did not come Sunday. Clinton Portis left the game with a concussion after gaining just four yards. I think bets will be out this week, as most teams will sit a player for a week after suffering a concussion. His backup, Ladell Betts, performed nicely with 93 total yards and a score. However, the Redskins face the #3 rushing defense next week, so even if Portis sits out, Betts still isn’t more than a RB3. Santana Moss led the receivers with 56 receiving yards. Jason Campbell left the game with a chest injury but later returned; he threw for 196 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. He also rushed for 40 yards and, if you’re desperate for a QB, you could do a lot worse than Campbell.
Cardinals 41 – Bears 21
What a difference a week makes! One week after throwing five INTs, Kurt Warner threw 5 TDs against the Bears. Larry Fitzgerald was the main recipient with 9 grabs for 123 yards and two scores. With Anquan Boldin out with an ankle injury, Steven Breaston started and had 66 receiving yards and a touchdown. Against the once-ferocious Chicago defense, the Cardinals ran for 182 yards: 77 by Tim Hightower and 72 by Beanie Wells. Because of Hightower’s versatility in the passing game (on pace for 80 receptions), he is a better fantasy play than Wells.
Just as they did two weeks ago against Cincinnati, the Bears fell behind early and abandoned their running game. Matt Forte had only six rushing attempts but still finished with 107 total yards (74 receiving). Greg Olsen matched the number of touchdowns he had through the first eight weeks in this single game (3). Devin Hester and Earl Bennett had 94 yards and 93 yards respectively. Jay Cutler threw for 369 yards and 3 TDs, both highs for him as a Chicago Bear.
Bengals 17 – Ravens 7
Carson Palmer was solid again, throwing for 224 yards and one touchdown. After throwing seven INTs in his first six games, Palmer has not turned the ball over in the last two games. Cedric Benson proved his 100-yard game versus the Ravens earlier this year was no fluke by rushing for 117 yards and one touchdown. Chad Ochocinco had 66 receiving yards but lost a fumble, just as he did in the first game against Baltimore. After catching one pass for 20 yards, Chris Henry broke his forearm and the remainder of his season is in doubt. His loss is Andre Caldwell’s (15 yards, 1 TD) gain, as he no longer has to split reps with Henry as the team’s #3 receiver.
For the second time this year, the Bengals held Joe Flacco to under 200 yards passing; they also picked him off twice. This is the last time these two teams will meet this year, so Flacco remains a QB1. Ray Rice was again the focal point of the offensive gameplan as he led the Ravens in rushing (48 yards), receiving (87 yards), and touchdowns (1). Derrick Mason was targeted 13 times but only came down with three receptions for 31 yards.
Colts 20 – Texans 17
Another Colts win. Another 300-yard game for Peyton Manning...it's what he does. Manning also threw a TD as the Colts won their seventeenth consecutive regular season game. Joseph Addai scored 2 TDs rushing and had 112 all-purpose yards. Dallas Clark continues his assault on tight end single-season records; he had 14 receptions for 119 yards. Reggie Wayne had a rare poor game with only 64 receiving yards. He also threw an interception in what was likely the first and last pass attempt of his career.
This was the first time both Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson were on the field together versus Indianapolis. They both came up big, but it wasn’t enough. Schaub threw for 311 yards and one touchdown but also threw two picks. Johnson had 10 receptions for 103 yards but failed to get into the end zone. A big question heading into this game was the number of touches Steve Slaton and Ryan Moats would receive. Well, Moats owners have to be rejoicing as he had 19 touches for 53 yards and 1 TD. Slaton had 9 touches for 29 yards and 1 TD. However, Moats did lose a fumble, which was the reason that Slaton was benched last week.
Patriots 27 – Dolphins 17
For the third game in a row, Tom Brady (332 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) threw for at least 300 yards as the Patriots held on for the win. It looks like heeees baaaack. Randy Moss had 147 yards and 1 TD and is undoubtedly a WR1 despite his inconsistency this season. Wes Welker had nine catches for 84 yards and is a WR2 in regular formats--but a WR1 in PPR leagues. Laurence Maroney remains the feature back in New England with Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor still out. Maroney had 82 rushing yards and 1 TD. He remains a RB2 until one of the other running backs returns.
Over the past three games, Chad Henne has thrown only one touchdown. That should tell you all you need to know about his fantasy value. Ronnie Brown threw the lone passing TD in this game, along with rushing for 48 yards. Ricky Williams had 33 rushing yards and scored a TD on the ground. No Dolphins receiver/tight end is worth starting on your fantasy team, but Davone Bess was targeted 14 times. He only managed to catch six of those passes and finished with 56 yards.
Jaguars 24 – Chiefs 21
With Mike Sims-Walker’s 147 receiving yards and one touchdown, the Jaguars are now 4-1 when Sims-Walker has at least 80 yards receiving. Maurice Jones-Drew had 134 total yards and one touchdown and, along with Steven Jackson, MJD is the closest thing to an every-down back. David Garrard (264 passing yards, 29 rushing yards) threw his first touchdown pass in five weeks but, because of his running ability, he is a sleeper as a QB1.
Matt Cassel was on pace to be a bust before throwing two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Along with those two scores, Cassel threw for 262 yards and did not turn the ball over. Newly signed Chris Chambers caught both touchdown passes and had 70 yards. Chambers struggled mightily in San Diego this season but seems to have caught on quickly with Kansas City. He won’t be the fantasy stud he was a couple of years ago, but he still has plenty of talent; enough to warrant a WR3 role. Dwayne Bowe led the team with 74 receiving yards and Jamaal Charles, starting in place of Larry Johnson, had 55 total yards. I started Jamaal Charles, because I expected him to do well, but he proved me to be foolish.
Buccaneers 38 – Packers 28
After not winning a game since last November, the Bucs finally got one in rookie QB Josh Freeman’s first NFL start. Freeman threw for 205 yards and 3 TDs, one each to Derrick Ward, Kellen Winslow, and Sammie Stroughter. Cadillac Williams only had 16 touches on the day and finished with just 56 yards. Maurice Stovall was targeted seven times but that was likely due to Antonio Bryant being out with an injury. Freeman has a lot of upside but is not likely to put up numbers as good as these for the rest of the season. He is a QB2 and should remain the Bucs starter unless he is injured.
Just imagine what the Packers could do on offense if they had decent blocking. Aaron Rodgers, while being sacked six times and throwing 3 INTs, threw for 266 yards and 2 TDs. He also rushed for 26 yards and 1 TD. James Jones is making the most out of Jordy Nelson’s injury as he had 103 receiving yards and 1 TD. Donald Driver also found the end zone en route to 71 receiving yards. Greg Jennings was again the victim of Rodgers not having a lot of time, as he only had 61 yards. Ryan Grant had a nice game running the ball, with 96 yards and a score, and remains a RB2.
Seahawks 32 – Lions 20
This may have been the game where the Seahawks officially went from a running team to a passing team. Matt Hasselbeck threw the ball 51 times for 329 yards and 1 TD. Julius Jones still got enough touches to score a touchdown and gain 114 total yards (78 receiving). Nate Burleson led the team with seven receptions and had 75 receiving yards. T.J. Houshmandzadeh won’t wow you with his yardage (34), but he is still a nice play in PPR formats. He had six receptions, one of which went for a touchdown. Someone to watch for in future games is Justin Forsett. He is Jones’ primary backup now with the release of Edgerrin James and is a rushing/receiving threat. He had 59 yards from scrimmage along with 5 receptions and is worth a roster spot in deeper, PPR leagues.
This was a game that Matt Stafford would like to forget…quickly. Stafford threw 5 INTs as he often tried to force the ball. Calvin Johnson returned but had only two receptions for 27 yards, and he did not look 100% healthy. Kevin Smith averaged 5.2 yards per carry but had only 13 rushing attempts. He finished with 67 rushing yards and failed to get into the endzone for the fourth game in a row. The offensive star for Detroit was rookie TE Brandon Pettigrew, who had 70 yards and a score. He also caught seven passes on only eight targets, a stat that will no doubt endear him to Matt Stafford. However, he is still a TE2 at this point.
Saints 30 – Panthers 20
Unable to get their run game going, the Saints relied on the arm of Drew Brees as they came from behind to remain undefeated. Brees had 330 passing yards as well as 1 TD and 1 INT. Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell, and Reggie Bush combined for just 83 rushing yards, though Thomas did get into the end zone. Devery Henderson had 93 receiving yards but is a very inconsistent play. Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey had quiet games as they combined for only 4 catches for 71 yards. With Lance Moore out, Robert Meachem stepped in and led the team with 98 yards and 1 TD. He will likely return to the bench once Moore is healthy enough to play. For the time being, any Saints receiver not named Colston is a WR3.
Once again, turnovers were the main reason the Panthers lost a game; however this time it was due to fumbles, not interceptions. Jake Delhomme, DeAngelo Williams, and Jonathan Stewart all lost fumbles. Delhomme threw for 201 yards but no scores, and Steve Smith had 64 receiving yards. Williams did his part on the ground with 149 rushing yards and 2 TDs. His partner-in-crime, Jonathan Stewart, had 13 carries but only converted them into 24 yards.
Chargers 21 – Giants 20
Eli Manning may have outperformed Philip Rivers, but Rivers’ team got the win. Rivers threw for 209 yards, 3 TDs, and 2 INTs as the Chargers had to rely entirely on his arm to move the ball. LT had only 22 rushing yards on 12 carries and chipped in only eight receiving yards. Vincent Jackson further cemented his status as one of the top-5 fantasy WRs with 58 receiving yards and 2 TDs, including the game winner. Antonio Gates had 67 receiving yards and Malcolm Floyd had 29 yards. Floyd is now a starter with the release of Chris Chambers.
Even though he had his best game in four weeks, Eli Manning’s arm wasn’t enough to keep the Giants from stopping their skid. Manning threw for 215 yards and 2 TDs without turning the ball over. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw had solid games as they respectively had 68 total yards and 66 total yards. Neither got into the end zone, however. Steve Smith broke out of his four-game scoreless streak and finished with 57 yards. Mario Manningham came back after missing one week to catch six passes for 52 yards.
Titans 34 – 49ers 27
Another Vince Young start. Another win. The guy is a plain old winner. Another great Chris Johnson performance. That pretty much sums it up as Young threw for 172 yards, ran for 14 yards, and scored a rushing touchdown. With 135 rushing yards and two scores, Johnson continues to make LenDale White irrelevant. For the second week in a row, Justin Gage was the top receiver (97 yards). Young clearly has a rapport with Gage that he lacks with Nate Washington and Kenny Britt, as neither of those two was even on the team when Young was the starter in 2007. The Titans won’t light anyone up thru the air but Gage is worth consideration in deeper leagues.
Another Alex Smith start. Another loss. Another great Frank Gore performance. With three INTs and lost fumble, Alex Smith did not have the same amount of success as Vince Young. But he did throw for 286 yards and two TDs. The recipient of both TD passes was Jason Hill, who finished with four catches for 50 yards. These were his first receptions of the year, so we have to wait to see if this increase in playing time is permanent or simply an experiment. Michael Crabtree had only 30 yards on three receptions but another former first rounder, Vernon Davis, had 10 grabs for 102 yards. However, the star for San Fran was Frank Gore who had 83 rushing yards, 75 receiving yards, and a rushing touchdown. In his five full games this season, Gore is averaging over 125 total yards and he has scored six touchdowns.
Cowboys 20 – Eagles 16
Even though Tony Romo’s (307 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) three-game streak without an interception ended, he did find Miles Austin for the deciding score in the fourth quarter. Despite Tashard Choice scoring a rushing TD out of the Wildcat, only Marion Barber could really get anything going on the ground. Barber had 50 rushing yards while Choice and Felix Jones combined for only 23 rushing yards. After complaining about not getting “good passes” thrown his way, Romo seemed to appease Roy Williams by throwing his way often. Williams finished with 5 catches for 75 yards. Jason Witten had his most receptions since Week 2 as he caught 7 balls for 43 yards, but he failed to get into the endzone for the sixth game in a row. Austin caught only one pass--but it went for 49 yards and the game-winning touchdown...I'm still mad at Sheldon Brown for getting beat with a pump fake.
LeSean McCoy is turning into “Brian Westbrook-lite” as he had 54 yards rushing and 61 yards receiving in the Eagles’ Sunday night loss. Brent Celek caught a TD pass and, if it weren’t for the great years that Dallas Clark and Vernon Davis are having, more people would be talking about Celek as the premier fantasy tight end. Donovan McNabb struggled with accuracy throughout the night and finished with 227 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs. Explosive playmakers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin were relatively quiet as they had 29 receiving yards and 44 receiving yards, respectively. Jackson is the more consistent of the two, so he is a WR2 while Maclin is a WR3.