That collective gasp you heard with 1:56 remaining in the fourth from FedEx Field came after watching Robert Griffin III take a vicious shot to his right knee at the completion of a 13-yard scramble. He was replaced for a play by backup Kirk Cousinsfor a play but returned just a play later with a noticeable limp. He completed 2-of-3 passes for 37 yards and took an intentional grounding penalty on the play that ultimately finished his day.
Cousins ended up tying the game with a touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon two plays later and followed that up with a two-point conversion that he ran in. The Skins ultimately beat Baltimore in overtime, but Fantasy owners and Redskins fans alike want to know at what cost. After the game, RG3 told the media that that he didn’t think the injury was major, and he was right. Results from an MRI taken after the game came back clear, and he has been diagnosed with a sprain.
Averting major injury is great news, but not when you are counting on him to lead your Fantasy squad. Personally, when I have a stud quarterback that I start every week (like RG3) and a roster littered with injured players, I don’t keep a backup QB on my roster. Usually this doesn’t come back to bite me. In this case, though, I feel it may. Sure, the Redskins are battling for a playoff spot, but having him fully healthy for what will likely be a win or go home Week 17 game against Dallas is going to be the team’s ultimate priority.
A quick look at quarterback choices available on my waiver wire isn’t pretty. Brandon Weeden is the best available option (owned in 25 percent of leagues) and will be my claim. Coincidentally, he will face off against the Redskins. Their secondary currently gives up 18.1 points per game in standard scoring formats, the fifth most generous in the league. Trust me when I say I pray it doesn’t come to this, but I ultimately have to provide my team with what I feel is the best available fail-safe option.
The Bills Fred Jackson suffered a knee injury in their last minute loss to St. Louis. After the game coach Chan Gailey was quoted as saying, “it did not look good.” On Monday, Jackson was diagnosed with a sprained MCL and conceded his season looks to be over. Obviously, this means Christmas comes early for C.J. Spiller owners, as Jackson has been his kryptonite all season. The 25-year-old star in the making has 1,298 total yards and six touchdowns on just 178 touches. Let’s put that in perspective by looking at a few other backs with the “explosive” label. Jamaal Charles has racked up 1,255 total yards and four touchdowns with his 252 touches. Chris Johnson has amassed 1,188 total yards and four touchdowns over with 234 touches. And last but not least, Ray Rice has 1,281 total yards and eight touchdowns with 247 touches. To say Fantasy owners have been done an injustice by his lack of playing time is an understatement. He will be unleashed this week though, right in time to help win some Fantasy championships. This kid needs to be in your lineup if you own him over anyone you own outside of Adrian Peterson or Arian Foster.
Fantasy owners finally got to see what David Wilson is capable of. He racked up 327 all-purpose yards (a Giants record) in New York’s 52-27 thrashing of the Saints. Ahmad Bradshaw missed more than a quarter of action during the first half and was used sporadically in the second half courtesy of an injury to his knee. Wilson took that opportunity to rush for 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 13 carries, showing off his game-breaking speed and elusiveness. Typically, games like this mean more playing time as a reward for the strong showing. Unfortunately, I just don’t think it will be the case for Wilson unless Bradshaw can’t suit up next week. The Giants know exactly what they have with Wilson, but that means they know his limitations as well. Pass protection and ball control are at the top of the list. Up to this point, he has been put in situations where the team feels he can excel. Don’t get cute in a playoff game and try rolling Wilson out into your lineup unless Bradshaw does indeed take a seat. No sense rolling the dice on a flex option in what is likely the semifinals of your league’s playoffs.
Cam Newton was drafted as early as the end of the first round in Fantasy draft this season, and his play through his first 10 games left many owners questioning why they pulled the trigger. Well if you survived his average start and stayed in contention in your league, you are now reaping the rewards after his third consecutive monster performance. That however isn’t what I wanted to talk about here. What I find interesting is that many are going to say this was a down year for him, but outside of finishing down in his rushing touchdown total, he has improved or maintained status quo across the board. Two things I like that show his improvement as a passer are an improvement in his yards per pass attempt (7.84 to 8.26) and quarterback rating (84.5 to 88.0). Not huge statistical improvements, but strong indicators that he can remain an above average NFL quarterback. Another thing I love is he is doing a better job picking when picking his spots to run. Last season he averaged 5.6 yards per carry, this year he is up to 6.2 yards per carry and should flirt with 800 yards rushing. Store this into your memory banks for next season, as yet another reason why should wait to draft a quarterback. Newton is going to be a supreme value next year coming off draft boards after the Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, RG3, Tom Brady and in some leagues even after Peyton Manning and Matthew Stafford.
Ben Roethlisberger’s much anticipated return from injury brought with it the hopes that he would rejuvenate the Steelers offense. He finished the day completing 22-of-42 passes for 285 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. From a Fantasy standpoint, you’ll take those numbers, but they weren’t indicative of how poorly this team played. After recovering a fumble with 5:16 remaining in the third quarter, San Diego opened up a 27-3 lead and basically turned the rest of this contest into garbage time. Big Ben was 9-for-19 for 105 yards at this point in the game. If this game was closer and San Diego wasn’t playing a soft prevent defense for the last 20 minutes, this game had the potential of being a disaster for his Fantasy owners. Roethlisberger will look to start next week’s game against Dallas much stronger. I, for one, can’t recommend starting him against a secondary that has given up just 15 touchdown passes and an average of 232 yards passing to opposing quarterbacks this season.
Heading into this season, I found myself staying away from Torrey Smith in my Fantasy drafts. I didn’t like the fact that he did most of his damage courtesy of the deep ball. With most of the leagues I play in using point-per-reception scoring I saw him as nothing more than an extremely fast boom or bust player with a quarterback in Joe Flacco that just hadn’t earned my trust yet either. With 13 games now in the books, my suspicions were correct. Smith has caught just 43 of his 95 pass targets for 753 yards and seven touchdowns. So, we are looking at a guy that catches an average of 3.3 passes per contest. That is less than guys we considered waiver wire fodder heading into the season like Andre Roberts, Donnie Avery and Jeremy Kerley. Knowing this I just can’t see how owners can trust him as anything more than a WR3 on a team that is desperately thin at receiver.