Thursday, November 7, 2013

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda: Week 9

cws week 9

We have made it through half of the 2013 NFL Season, as every team has now played at least 8 games. A blockbuster trade, season ending injuries to star players, and some record setting performances have paced the way for an incredible season thus far. While the majority of the leader boards are littered with names you would expect, it is often the less heralded players who step up to help you win your fantasy leagues. Did you think Knowshown Moreno, Danny Woodhead, or Andre Ellington would be as important to your roster as they have become? Did you have Alshon Jeffrey, Cecil Shorts, or Keenan Allen pegged as the guys who would become difference makers for your team? The answer to both is probably no, but that is where we are headed into Week 10. The purpose of this column has always been to each week highlight some over-achievers, some under-achievers, and some guys you may have never heard of. Hopefully you have found it entertaining, insightful, and something you will continue reading. If the second half of the year is anything like the first, we have a ton of excitement left to go this season. These are the guys who stood out from the rest this past weekend. Don't forget, your comments are welcomed and appreciated. Find me on Twitter...
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What a wildly crazy week it was at the QB position, as several under the radar guys turned in huge performances. With many teams on a bye, and others missing due to injury, some of these guys were actually in fantasy starting line ups solely by default, for a lack of options. Of the top seven quarterbacks in the NFL’s Week 9, three of them were available off the scrap heap – and still may be. The attention has all been on Eagles backup Nick Foles, who threw for a record tying 7 Touchdowns, and rightly so. But a little less noticed were the Texan’s Case Keenum, and the Brown’s Jason Campbell, both of whom threw for 3 TD’s with no Interceptions. Keenum also got extra points for yardage, accumulating 350 through the air, and has looked more than comfortable as the new starter in Houston. You can even add Mike Glennon to the list, as he passed for another 2 scores for Tampa Bay, and nearly led his team to the upset of the season in Seattle. Jake Locker looked awful against a surprisingly good Rams secondary. He was unable to throw any TD’s for the Titans, and was picked off twice, ending his current hot streak. Matt Ryan continued to struggle with his new receiving corps. He has now thrown 7 INT’s in his past two games, while only amassing 2 Touchdowns, and it doesn’t get easier as the Seahawks come to town in Week 10. Finally, there was Alex Smith who has not been anything close to stellar, but was a need start for a lot of teams. He pretty much gave you nothing (124 yards, 0 TD’s/0 INT’s) and you have to wonder is he even worth the roster spot, as you hope to never have to start him. Of the guys who had great weeks, I believe it was real and can be duplicated. Not the seven touchdowns, but the lofty numbers that would earn them a start for your fantasy team. Foles, Keenum, and Campbell all have great weapons surrounding them and should be able to find this kind of success again. Out of all of them, Foles has the best chance to succeed, but unfortunately has the least job security. He should be the one to target, if available in your league, with Keenum being a close second.
Running Backs
This was the week owners have been waiting for from their Running Backs, as a total of thirteen (yes 13) broke the century mark, and trotted their way over 100 yards. The highly drafted CJ Spiller and Stevan Ridley were in that group, giving hope that they might be ready for the fantasy playoff push. In fact, Ridley has now scored in four straight games, for a total of six during that span. Another big name on this list was Chris Johnson who eclipsed 100 yards for just the first time this year. Hopefully it was due to the long awaited return of off-season recruit Shonn Greene, and CJ2K will be back to being elite. The most impressive of the top rushers in Week 9 though, were the class of Rookies. Zac Stacy (127 yards, 2 TD’s), Eddie Lacy (150 yards, 1 TD), Mike James (158 yards), and Giovanni Bernard (79 yards, 2 TD’s) all performed well, and looked comfortable in doing so. Stacy has now had at least 125 yards rushing in two straight games, and Lacy has been nothing short of stellar for five straight weeks. With the Packers losing Aaron Rodgers, for a minimum of three games, Lacy’s role can become even larger in Green Bay as he continues to creep into the overall Top 5 of Running Backs. Conversely, another former Alabama star is going in the exact opposite direction. Trent Richardson is lost, and may not find his way back again all season. I firmly believed the Colts would use the bye week to get T-Rich more comfortable in the offense, with an increased role due to the loss of Reggie Wayne. If 20 yards rushing is what we can expect after all of that, sadly I think it is time to sell. At the very least, you cannot conceivably start Richardson right now, even in the most desire of situations. He has become a complete liability, and the “possibility” factor does not even currently exist with him. His backup Donald Brown is out producing him, and is a strong waiver addition, if none of the others mentioned here are available. Other notable underachievers included Ray Rice (17 yards), Ryan Matthews (32 yards), Darren McFadden (12 yards), Willis McGahee (31 yards on 21 carries), and Darren Sproles (0 rushes, 1 reception). Of all of these names, the one that should stand out the most is Sproles. Since the calendar turned to October he has been absent from the Saints high octane offense, and now has just 48 targets through New Orleans first 8 games. It is very possible he can turn it around before the end of this year, but for now you should remove him from your starting lineup until he proves it.
Wide Receivers
With so many Quarterbacks having success, someone had to be catching all of those passes. Week 9 was very kind to Wide Receivers as well. Just one week after Calvin Johnson nearly broke an NFL single game record for most receiving yards, Texans star Andre Johnson made a strong push at the same. He hooked up with Keenum for 190 yards and 3 scores in just the first half alone, and finished the game with 229 yards on 9 catches. It has taken Keenum just two games to do what Matt Schaub could not do in over a year: get Andre Johnson into the end zone. This could turn out to be a dynamic duo for the remainder of the season, as Johnson is no stranger to the being amongst the elite at his position. Another player to watch, who is most likely available on your waiver wire, is the Browns Greg Little. The newly named starter Campbell appears to have found his favorite target, and connected with him 7 times for 122 yards. It is too early for Josh Gordon owners to panic, but this is a situation that should be monitored. It took a while, but TY Hilton settled in nicely to his new role of WR 1 on the Colts, finishing with 7 receptions for 121 yards, and 3 scores. Riley Cooper (5-139-3) has been very productive when Nick Foles plays, and after this weekend look for the two to continue playing well. Aaron Dobson (5-130-2) and Jerricho Cotchery (7-96-3) both had great games, but I would not expect a return to those statistics anytime soon. Keenan Allen (8-128-1) continues to be a must start, Pierre Garcon (7-172-0) stayed on pace for over 100 receptions, and Danny Amendola (4-122-1) gave patient owners a big day. I have long been a supporter of Dwayne Bowe, and was happy to see him go for 7 catches totaling 67 yards. I would still keep him benched for now, but if you can sell high, offer him up in a trade. Harry Douglas (3-82) had a slow start, but came on in the end to finish with respectable numbers, and has provided relief for those who lost Julio Jones. I would not be alarmed by Vincent Jackson (2-11) or Terrence Williams (2-33) poor days. Everyone is due for one, and I think they will both be fine going forward. However, three I did caution against going too crazy for were Kenny Stills (3-35), Dexter McCluster (2-9), and Darrius Heyward-Bey (1-11). All had poor weeks and I expect more like this. Stills has the most upside, but he is too one dimensional to rely on week to week as a starter. He will have at least one more big game this season, maybe more, but the inconsistencies will hurt your team while waiting.
Tight Ends
When I saw I was playing against Jimmy Graham this week, I had nightmares of what he would do to my team. Sure enough, his 9 catches for 116 yards and 2 Touchdowns was the difference in my matchup. I thought this guy was supposed to be injured! Not only that, but he made for an extremely confusing weekend for me. As a fan of the Miami Hurricanes, the New York Jets, and my own personal Fantasy team, you can imagine why. Hopefully I will not have to see him again, and you won’t as well – unless you own him, in which case you should have a permanent smile. The Tight End category is really a two man race for supremacy between he, and Rob Gronkowski. Gronk kept pace, hauling in 9 receptions for 143 yards and 1 score. Jason Witten (8-102-1) threw his name in the mix, but the only real emerging threat to Graham and Gronk were the Jordan’s, and they didn’t fare as well. J-Cameron pulled in a season low 1 pass for just 4 yards. Hopefully it was just a bad day, and not any signs of his new QB Campbell looking him off. J-Reed (4-37) had put together a nice string of consecutively successful games, but that came to an end as he took a back seat to Garcon in the Skins offense. One guy I really like for the remainder of the season, and who you may still be able to get, is Coby Fleener. Some better consistency would be ideal, but his role has clearly expanded since Dwayne Allen was lost, and now more recently Wayne. He only had 3 catches this weekend, but they were good for 64 yards. If he can become a Red Zone target more often he will jump into the Top 10 of Tight Ends.
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 (4) teams on a bye this week. Here are some of the guys I do and do not like...
Week 10 Byes: Cleveland, Kansas City, New England, New York Jets
Play 'Em: Eli Manning, NYG (vs OAK) Fresh off the Bye week, the Giants have new found hope after a dreadful start to the season. The Raiders just got torched by Nick Foles. Strap in.
Pass 'Em: Mike Glennon, TB (vs MIA) I love what the rookie has been doing, especially last week on the road in Seattle. However, the Dolphins will rattle him for one of the few times this year.
Running Back
Play 'Em: Le'Veon Bell, PIT (vs BUF) Two weeks in a row, Bell is my advised Play. Last week he rushed for 74 yards and caught another 65. I like that to continue against a weak Bills rush defense.
Pass 'Em: LeSean McCoy, PHI (@ GB) His production has slipped in recent weeks, and the Pack are one of the stingiest teams to run against. Things won't get any easier.
Wide Receiver
Play 'Em: Emmanuel Sanders, PIT (vs BUF) His targets have increased to 11 in each of the Steelers past two contests. The Bills are in for a long day trying to contain him.
Pass 'Em: Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (vs HOU) Carson Palmer is a mess, and the Cards passing game has suffered because of it. It's so bad, Arizona has considered trading the star wide out.
Tight End
Play 'Em: Jordan Reed, WAS (@ MIN) I like Reed to rebound from a poor performance in Week 9, and get back on track to the success he has been growing accustomed to.
Pass 'Em: Tony Gonzalez, ATL (vs SEA) The inconsistent play will resurface, and Ryan would continue to be rattled. Gonzo suffers as a consequence.
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