Rookie Backers Stepping Up
Many owners lost faith in two big-name rookies early in the season and in Week 5, both showed why that was premature. Bobby Wagner and Luke Kuechly both look poised to take their places as big-time IDP performers after impressing in Week 5.
Wagner was expected to be an every-down linebacker for the Seahawks but through four weeks was only in on 55-percent of the snaps for Seattle. With so many eye-for-the-ball tacklers in Seattle, that meant mediocre numbers and a spot on IDP benches and waiver wires. Through the first three games, Leroy Hill had been the nickel backer alongside K.J. Wright, but a calf injury has limited him the past two games, opening the door for Wagner. Against Carolina, Wagner burst through that door with five solo tackles and two sacks. He was also on the field for all 56 defensive snaps for the Hawks. If he continues to play like this, Wagner should remain the preferred nickel LB for Seattle and will be a valuable contributor for the remaining three quarters of the season.
For Kuechly, a change of position has been the bugaboo as he was shifted to the outside in favor of Jon Beason. Kuechly never looked comfortable on the edge and was limited in his snap counts as a result. Well surprise, surprise, Beason is hurting again and Kuechly was moved to the middle against Seattle. The results have stirred the rumor mill about the move being made permanent. Kuechly recorded six solos, six assists and an INT while playing every down for the first time this season. Previously, Kuechly has been in on just 55-percent of Carolina’s snaps. The problem with Beason, aside from continued health concerns, has been missed tackles. Beason has missed seven tackles and recorded 23 and he’s not the only one in Carolina missing tackles. Kuechly, on the other hand, has just two misses compared to 26 solos. That consistency is something the beleaguered Carolina defense sorely needs and Kuechly’s arrow is pointing way up as a result.
TD-only Impacts of RB injuries
Waiver wires are buzzing with mediocre RB options this week as Cedric Benson, Ryan Williams and Donald Brown will all be out for various amounts of time. TD-only leaguers are wondering what to make of this mess even more than standard leaguers and we’ve got you covered.
Cardinals – If the preferred running backs for a team are averaging just 2.7 yards per carry, what makes people think the next-man-up will do any better? In standard leagues, it means neither William Powell now Larod “Hyphen” Stephens-Howling is a great waiver-wire add. Hyphen actually has one of the two rushing TDs for Arizona this season and seven carries in the red zone. But the same reason standard leaguers are flocking to Powell or LSH should have TD-only owners doing the same. At just 185 pounds, Hyphen can’t be expected to be a major goal-line factor in the run game. He can be a receiving target, but with Larry Fitzgerald always a strong red-zone threat and Andre Roberts emerging, LSH won’t be the preferred target. Powell is still short at 5’9” but he weights 207. Chances are he will get the carries inside the five, but Arizona seems more likely to look to throw when near the promise land.
Colts – Though Brown is only expected to miss two to three weeks, TD-only owners are looking to bolster their RB corps during the thin bye weeks and Vick Ballard is a great choice to do that. Ballard has little competition for goal-line carries as Mewelde Moore has never been adept in that area and Delone Carter has never been adept at anything. With the young Colts offense starting to hum, more goal-line opportunities can be expected and Ballard will get them. There’s also upside here as Brown wasn’t setting the world on fire before his current injury. If Ballard can prove himself, he should maintain a role even after Brown returns.
Packers – Three backs who are neither huge nor durable will vie for carries in place of Benson and none of the troika of Alex Green, James Starks or Brandon Saine profiles well as a short-yardage guy. That leaves the already notorious TD-vulture John Kuhn as the best bet for goal-line carries. Chances are Kuhn is already owned in TD-only leagues, but if not, he should be now.
Brady Quinn: Two-QB Option
I know you’ve asked me this before, and it’s a valid question yet again, but no I have not been drinking. I’m here to tell you why Brady Quinn is a two-QB option for Week 6. Now for those of you who have continued reading let me explain myself. Week 6 features four teams on bye, which means 28 starting QBs in play. Simple math dictates 24 QBs start in 12-team two-QBers. So here are four QBs I’d choose Quinn over.
Russell Wilson vs. New England – In fact this could be the week we see the Seahawks turn to Matt Flynn. The Patriots aren’t great against the pass but they are ball hawking with six INTs already this year. That could mean big turnovers for Wilson who has yet to show much at all.
Mark Sanchez vs. Indianapolis – If I have to explain myself you haven’t been watching. Factor in the improved Colts defense and this is a no-brainer.
Matt Hasselbeck vs. Pittsburgh – A short week doesn’t bode well for the hobbled Titans and Hasselbeck could feel the brunt of it. Pittsburgh has been stingy, allowing only 185 yards passing per game and James Harrison is back with a vengeance.
Sam Bradford at Miami – No receivers, mediocre performance and a revitalized Miami defense mean no go on Bradford.
So why Quinn? Why the man of the career 67.3 QB rating, 10:9 TD:INT ratio and 52-percent completion rate? Frankly, he’s not exciting and he won’t set the world ablaze, but he faces a Tampa Bay defense that excels at stopping the run, and allows a lot of movement through the air. Jamaal Charles will still bear a heavy load, but TB is allowing just 3.2 yards per carry. Meanwhile, the Bucs league-worst 345 yards passing per game looks enticing for Quinn. I know we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel here, but I can see the Chiefs trying to open it up a little bit, Dwayne Bowe abusing Aqib Talib and Quinn owners reaping the rewards.