Here is the latest from around the league from our NFL Reporter, Steve Silverman.
We have been waiting for Percy Harvin to begin his career with the Seattle Seahawks all summer, and it’s almost certainly going to happen this week when the Minnesota Vikings travel to the Pacific Northwest.
However, Pete Carroll is no fool and he is not going to put this potential playoff (NFL — not Fantasy) difference-maker in a position to reinjure his hip labrum in his first time out.
Don’t expect to see Harvin get more than 15-to-20 snaps in his first game back. However, don’t think for a minute that Harvin is not going to be dangerous. Insiders report that Harvin looks super sharp and Carroll himself called Harvin a very hungry looking player who is motivated to get back on the field.
That motivation is two-fold. Harvin wants to impress his new team and he wants to make his old team look bad. Harvin would like to come back with a bang and punish the Vikings because he wants to show them just what they are missing.
So, what does Harvin’s presence mean and what should we expect from the Seahawks this week? The Seahawks should be razor sharp.
They are coming off a decisive road win over the Atlanta Falcons and they have their bye in Week 12. The last time the Seahawks played in Seattle, they had a sluggish overtime victory over the Tampa Bay Bucs in Week Nine. If they had let that game slip away, a lot of observers would have questioned this team’s commitment and focus, and they would have lost quite a bit of status as the NFC’s top dog.
The team’s leadership recognized this, and that’s one of the reasons they were so methodical in their 33-10 destruction of the Falcons.
The Seahawks should pick up where they left off in that game against the Vikings. Start off with Russell Wilson, who was on top of his game in completing 19-of-26 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns. Look for a similar performance, only we expect three TDs from him.
Marshawn Lynch should be able to run over a soft Vikings defense (30th in yards allowed per game) that is giving opponents 113.7 rushing yards per game. Lynch, motivated to go into the bye week on a high, should be good for at least 150 yards per game.
Among the receivers, Golden Tate should be the go-to guy and he will be quite functional in this game. He should catch 6-to-8 passes and get close to 100 yards. However, the spectacular plays in this game should be made by Harvin.
It may be a gamble that most would not take, but we believe that Harvin has so much anger and disdain for the Vikings organization – not his old teammates but management – that he will make the most of his opportunities. If you are in need of a spectacular boom-or-bust performance, we say to take a chance on Harvin and that he will get you at least one big-play touchdown and perhaps more when he sees those nasty Vikings uniforms.
Sometimes you need to take some chances if you are going to win in Fantasy Football and put yourself on the line. We understand that and recommend Harvin and his Seahawks teammates Wilson, Lynch and Tate with a full heart.
Houston’s Ben Tate a man among men
We are incredulous that Ben Tate has the guts to line up and start at running back for the Houston Texans despite multiple broken ribs.
This is an incredibly painful injury that would put three-quarters of the players in the NFL on the sidelines and quite a few on injured reserve.
But Tate is an old-school football player who wants to be in the lineup. He doesn’t talk the talk; he simply walks the walk.
While we admire Tate for his courage and pain tolerance, we are not putting him in our lineup when the Texans host the Oakland Raiders.
One thing the Raiders can do is stop the run. They rank seventh in rushing yards allowed per game and they are not going to hesitate to put it to Tate and they won’t feel a bit sorry for him.
That brings us to Tate’s quarterback, Case Keenum. He has not been able to put the Texans in the victory column, but he has been able to give them credibility at the quarterback position that they had lost when Matt Schaub was in the lineup.
Keenum has seven touchdown passes since being inserted into the lineup and he has not thrown an interception.
This should be the week that the Texans break through and get the win that they have not been able to get since Week Two against the Tennessee Titans.
More important than that for Fantasy Football players, the Texans should be able to light up the scoreboard against the Oakland secondary.
I’m not saying that Keenum is going to match the Week Nine performance of Philadelphia’s Nick Foles, who riddled Oakland for seven touchdown passes, but Keenum should be able to throw three TD passes. If you have Keenum on your roster or you can add him, you must do so.
In addition to Andre Johnson, look for tight end Garrett Graham and wideout DeAndre Hopkins to be the beneficiaries. Graham has three TD receptions and should be able to get in the endzone at least once, while Graham has nine receptions that have gone for 20 yards or more. He’ll get at least two more of them.
Make sure you play Keenum, Johnson, Hopkins and Graham as the Texans explode and get in the win column against the generous Oakland secondary.
Could Harbaugh be easing up with Niners?
For much of the last two years, Jim Harbaugh has been looked at as one of the best coaches in the NFL. The former Stanford head coach made what appeared to a seamless transition to the pro game and he took his team to last year’s Super Bowl against his brother’s Baltimore Ravens.
We all know how that turned out. But while mainstream media were quick to praise Harbaugh for his ability to get the most out of his players, his aggressive, in-your-face personality didn’t get as much attention.
The truth is that Harbaugh is a very difficult man to play for and that’s been especially true when the Niners have been coming off of losses.
However, we hear that Harbaugh has eased off the throttle this week following the team’s 10-9 home loss to the Carolina Panthers.
It was a particularly painful loss for both Harbaugh and Fantasy players because the Niners’ offense was so inept.
Normally, Harbaugh could have been expected to be all over Colin Kaepernick and the Niners receivers after such a poor showing, but he has not been this week. Instead, Kaepernick has been building his team up with a game against the imposing New Orleans Saints.
New Orleans rolled to a huge 49-17 victory over the Cowboys last week as Drew Brees found his groove after a head-slapping loss to the Jets in Week Nine.
Harbaugh knows his team is not going to be able to shut down the Saints. If San Francisco is going to win on the road, the offense must perform.
The good news is that Vernon Davis (concussion) has said that he is feeling much better and that his presence would help the Niners dramatically in this game. He can stretch the field the way no other San Francisco receiver can.
No official word yet on Davis, but the feeling here is that he will be in the lineup Sunday.
The Niners may not win, but they will score points. Davis, Frank Gore, and Anquan Boldin will all be the beneficiaries in this high-scoring game.
Make sure you play Davis unless you hear Sunday morning that he has taken a downturn.
Here’s what you need to know about Jay Cutler and his sprained ankle. Cutler left Soldier Field last Sunday with a walking boot on the ankle and it was announced Monday that he would not play in the Week 11 game against the Ravens. However, when he showed up at practice on Thursday, the walking boot looked a lot more like a hard cast. In addition to missing the Ravens game look for Cutler to sit out against the St. Louis Rams in Week 12 and possibly the Vikings in Week 13. From a Fantasy perspective, don’t hesitate to play backup quarterback Josh McCown.
The Baltimore Ravens know that their running attack has been invisible this year with Ray Rice running for 289 yards and a painful 2.5 yards per carry. This week, the Ravens know they have to run the ball against the Bears’ awful run defense. However, we don’t expect Rice to go through a rebirth. No, this week it’s about Bernard Pierce getting the bulk of the carries. Rice will start, but then Pierce will get his chance and he is much more viable at this point. He’s a good play against Chicago’s 30th-ranked rushing defense.
We are very concerned about Peyton Manning this week. He has a sprained ankle that is almost certainly going to limit his mobility against Kansas City. Manning practiced Thursday and all seems well in Denver, but what happens when Tamba Hali and Justin Houston start chasing him? It’s not going to be pretty. Yes, it’s a big game and the Broncos have rolled offensively every week, but we are going to swallow hard and pray that an injury does not take Manning out of the game early. We will still play Manning, and his crew of wide receivers Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas, but we are quite worried about it.
Don’t play any of your Jets this week. Here’s why: They won the opening week of the season, and they have alternated between wins and losses every week since in building a 5-4 record. They won their last game by shocking the explosive New Orleans Saints in Week Nine before their bye, so they are due for a loss. This is not just coincidental. The Jets don’t have players that can keep their foot on the accelerator every game. Geno Smith will have a bad game at quarterback and that means the receivers will also be unproductive. The only thing you can hope for is that Chris Ivory can run the ball effectively, but the Bills defense will focus on him.
LOVE ‘EM, HATE ‘EM IN WEEK 11
Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals have lost back-to-back overtime games. They also dropped a 17-6 decision at Cleveland in Week Four. Head coach Marvin Lewis may not have the best strategy when it comes to deploying his offensive talent, but he will have his team fired up to beat the Browns. Look for Dalton to have one of his best games as he rips the Browns for 325 yards and three TD passes. Look for A.J. Green to catch two of his TD passes and Giovanni Bernard to catch the other. LOVE HIM.
Eddie Lacy has been a monster for the Green Bay Packers, but with Scott Tolzien taking snaps under center this week, the Giants will give the Packers’ third-string quarterback the freedom to do whatever he can to beat them. However, they will load up to stop Lacy. The Giants rank 11th against the run and will not allow Lacy to beat them. HATE HIM.
This is the week to put all your chips on Alfred Morris. The Redskins play their best when they have a balanced attack and while the tendency might be to ask RGIII to take the team on his shoulders when they go to Philadelphia, the quarterback has acknowledged that he has been taking too many hits. RGIII will make a couple of plays on the ground but he is going to leave the bulk of the running up to Morris. CI can’t see the Eagles winning three games in a row and the Redskins get revenge for their Week One home loss to Philadelphia. Morris runs for 115 yards and scores two touchdowns. LOVE HIM.
Matthew Stafford has the Lions in first place in the NFC North after last week’s road victory over the Chicago Bears. Stafford has thrown for 2,836 yards with 19 TDs and seven touchdowns. The Lions are a better team than the Steelers, but they are going to get spanked by the Steelers in this game. Head coach Jim Schwartz seemed pretty satisfied by Detroit’s win over the Bears, and the Lions will be satisfied fat cats when they take the field in Pittsburgh. The Steelers will jump all over Stafford and sack him four times, and he will throw three interceptions. HATE HIM.