Friday, November 15, 2013

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda: Week 10

This week's article is dedicated to the memory of my former co-worker Adolfo Otano, who passed on November 8, 2013. Al was a veteran of the US Navy, served 27 years in the FDNY, and was one of my "Senior men". Rest In Peace Papi.
cws week 10
It is getting awfully close to crunch time for the Fantasy Football season. Most leagues have had their trade deadline come and go, so from this point forward, what you can get on the waiver wire is your only hope. Some have already clinched a playoff spot, maybe even locked up the #1 seed overall, and in some leagues that is good for a first round bye. Others have already been eliminated from playoff contention and are now packing it in. If that is you, and you have become a regular reader of "Coulda Woulda Shoulda", I hope you will stick around. To the clinchers, congratulations – your hard work, and luck, has afforded you a sigh of relief. And to everyone in between, right in the thick of things, here is to hoping this column can be a difference maker for your season. Whether it is identifying players you may want to add for the stretch run, or if nothing else providing a little diversion from the stress of the playoff race, make this one of your favorite destinations. If you have the time, please leave a comment below on a highlight, or lowlight, of your season. Good Luck in all of your leagues!!
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The changing of the guard at the quarterback position continued in Week 10 of the NFL. We already knew the Packers Aaron Rodgers would be sidelined, but no one expected Scott Tolzien to be the one replacing him. It did take a gimpy Seneca Wallace ankle to make that possible, but the rookie more than held his own throwing for 280 yards, with 1 touchdown against 2 interceptions. He certainly has some weapons around him, and could be a nice play for a few weeks until Rodgers gets back. I would rather roll the dice with him right now, than to trust Eli Manning to get me points. The youngest Manning was my “Play of the Week” and he did nothing to impress, totaling just 140 yards with 1 TD/1 INT. His older brother Peyton turned in a typical day (330 yards, 4 TD’s/0 INT’s), and Drew Brees was his usual self (392, 4/0). Both Nick Foles (228 yards) and Case Keenum (201) continue to impress, as the youngsters tossed another 3 TD’s each without being picked off. Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick faced off, and neither was able to do much against aggressive defenses. Both were held without a touchdown, by way of air and ground, and each was intercepted once. If you thought the 91 passing yards totaled by Kaep was awful, keep in mind Cam was only slightly better with his 169. Jake Locker has been ruled out for the remainder of the year, and Ryan Fitpatrick should see a spike in his popularity. He has been better than average when filling in for Locker, and Sunday was no different as he threw for 264 yards, with 2 TDs’ and 0 INT’s. If Foles and Keenum are both unavailable, and you are in need of a QB, I would not hesitate to pick up Fitzpatrick or Tolzien, with the priority being Fitz.
Suggested Play, Eli Manning: 140 yards passing, 1 TD/1 INT. Verdict: Loss
Suggested Pass, Mike Glennon: 139 yards passing, 1 TD/1 INT. Verdict: Win
Running Backs
It was go big or go home for Week 10 rushers, as three went for over 145 yards, and only one other cracked the 100 yard club. Pierre Thomas receives my top honors racking up 87 rushing yards and 7 catches for 24 yards, and also scoring each way. Would you believe that his teammate Mark Ingram not only returned to action, but scampered his way to 145 yards. No seriously, he really did finish with that number and a touchdown to boot. Just two weeks ago Khiry Robinson was being touted as the guy to get in the Saints backfield, but now it feels as complicated as the Patriots group of runners. Ingram has had problems being consistent, and Darren Sproles also had a great game along with Thomas, so I have some reservations about his role going forward. For the most desperate of teams, he is not a bad speculative add, but do not overvalue him and drop someone more worthy of a roster spot. For example, as bad as Stephen Jackson looked (9 carries for 11 yards), I would not give up on him in favor of Mark Ingram. It pains me to say this, but it is time to pull the plug, if you have not yet done so, on Trent Richardson. He has now had the bye week, and good matchups, and this past week put up a grand total of 2 yards on 5 carries. It was only his 3 receptions for 33 yards that gave him any value at all. This is a case in which Ingram is a better play. Even better than that though, is Richardson’s teammate Donald Brown, who may still be available. Some owner in your league waited 10 full weeks for Andre Brown to return, and for at least one game it worked out well. He will be getting a boatload of carries from here on out, but I would temper expectations. He is someone I would confidently start each week, but an average of 80 yards per game with a score every other week is what I believe should be expected. The CJ Spiller (23 yards) roller coaster continues, and he should only be viewed as a Flex option at this point. I fundamentally have a hard time trusting Ben Tate, or any of his four cracked ribs, for the remainder of the season. His back up Dennis Johnson is more than likely available, and should be heavily viewed as an addition to your bench. Bobby Rainey, now in Tampa Bay, is another low level RB who should be on your radar as a potential impact player.
Suggested Play, Le’Veon Bell: 57 rushing yards, 1 TD, and 3 receptions for 39 yards. Verdict: Win
Suggested Pass, LeSean McCoy: 155 rushing yards, and 1 reception for 6 yards. Verdict: Loss
Wide Receivers
Once again, this position is the deepest producer of points for fantasy league owners. There is a long list of guys you can depend on each week to give you, at worst, average production, and an even greater number who can flat out dominate on any given Sunday. This week was another example of the proven, Brandon Marshall (7 catches, 139 yards, 2 touchdowns), the reliable, TY Hilton (7-130), and the surprise, Tavon Austin (2 catches, 2 TD’s, 138 yards – huh?). Demaryius Thomas (7-108-3) and AJ Green (8-151-1) showed again why they are elite talent, while Riley Cooper (3-102-2) and Jarrett Boykin (8-112) are showing the kind of consistency that can get them to that level. With Percy Harvin returning I would not bank on Jermaine Kearse (3-75-1) to have a repeat performance, kind of in the same fashion I warned against buying too much into Marvin Jones (1-2 yards). Wes Welker (3-21) and Cecil Shorts (2-42) are two names who slumped that I would not be too concerned about. They both have enough of a track record in their current systems to warrant an expected return to their average numbers. If you have any of the “unknowns” on your roster, filling out each week’s lineup card can be a draining task. Even if you missed out and had them on your bench, the good news is they did not score against you for someone else in your league. Two more guys you can add to the watch list are Tiquan Underwood (3-64), and Rishard Matthews (11-120-2), both of whom will be counted on heavily by their teams for the remainder of the season. Matthews may have hit his ceiling to never again return to this same neighborhood, but Underwood is establishing himself as a reliable target for an ever improving young QB. Either way, both are guys that should be monitored, and do not be afraid to pull the trigger on adding one if you are in need of a receiver for your squad.
Suggested Play, Emmanuel Sanders: 4 receptions for 13 yards. Verdict: Loss
Suggested Pass, Larry Fitzgerald: 3 receptions for 23 yards. Verdict: Win
Tight Ends
If you thought the Running Back position was becoming thin, I wonder how you feel about the Tight Ends. The further we get into the season, the shorter the list of reliable targets becomes. Of course there will be blips on the radar each week, John Carlson (7 catches for 98 yards, 1 TD) being the latest, but the bona fide studs are few and far between. To emphasize my point, one of the members of this elite group, Jimmy Graham, had an off day (5 receptions for 59 yards) and still is amongst the leaders. The bottom line is if you do not have Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Julius Thomas, Jordan Cameron, Jordan Reed, or Antonio Gates, you are playing Russian Roulette each week at the position. With Kyle Rudolph injured, Carlson is a decent gamble, as is Delanie Walker (4-62-1) in Tennessee. Garrett Graham is also someone who should be available, after disappointing some other owner in your league. The guy who should receive the most attention though is Rob Housler, who may be on the verge of meeting his lofty pre-season expectations. If you have a need at TE you should target the guy who has the skills to be on that elite level, and Housler fits the profile.
Suggested Play, Jordan Reed: 6 receptions for 62 yards, and 1 TD. Verdict: Win
Suggested Pass, Tony Gonzalez: 3 receptions for 29 yards. Verdict: Win
Play 'Em/Pass 'Em I take some heat for some of the guys who appear on this list, but more often than not they are accurate. It is a hypothesis, not an exact science. I will remind you: It is always better when I am asked to choose between specific players. Randomly picking guys from a roster that includes the entire league does not completely paint the picture for your individual team. You can do this by leaving your question in the comment section, emailing me at, or asking on Twitter. There are six (2) teams on a bye this week. Here are some of the guys I do and do not like...
Week 11 Byes: Dallas, St. Louis
Play 'Em: Case Keenum, HOU (vs OAK) This kid is proving he is for real, and now he gets a chance to showcase it at home in a very favorable matchup. Houston, there could be a problem.
Pass 'Em: Terrelle Pryor, OAK (@ HOU) On the flip side, the Texans defense is staunch. Pryor has been up and down, and I expect Houston to keep him grounded for another week.
Running Back
Play 'Em: Chris Ivory, NYJ (@ BUF) One of the most difficult places to play is Buffalo, which is exactly why the Jest should continue to feed their new bell cow. This will be an old school ground and pound all day.
Pass 'Em: Stevan Ridley, NE (@ CAR) His four game scoring streak will come to an end, against what is becoming the best defense in the entire league. The Patriots offensive line will be off balance the whole day.
Wide Receiver
Play 'EmPercy Harvin, SEA (vs MIN) Harvin had this game circled on his calendar since before his injury, and so have many of his owners. The adrenaline gets him through any rust.
Pass 'Em: TY Hilton, IND (@ TEN) The Titans secondary is pretty good, and as well as Hilton has been playing, the double teams will finally catch up to him, and limit him this week on the road.
Tight End
Play 'Em: Garrett Graham, HOU (vs OAK) So much has been expected of Graham since Owen Daniels went down. This week he has the matchup to get him back on track with his rookie QB.
Pass 'Em: Martellus Bennett, CHI (vs BAL) He has been on three teams now for a reason: he shows flashes but lacks consistency. He will continue to be missing in action against a tough group of Raven LB's.
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