The latest from around the league for your Fantasy usage from our NFL Insider.
The Bears have a problem with their run defense, and their inability to stop Brandon Jacobs of the Giants last week has reverberated around the NFL.
Jacobs had all of 48 yards on 22 carries when the Giants limped into Chicago last Thursday night. He was expected to be a non-Fantasy factor against the Bears, but he rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
Fantasy players may want to buy Jacobs all they want, but that’s not the recommendation from this corner. The thunder has not returned to Jacobs’ tree-trunk-like legs. Instead, the Bears’ defense has turned baby-soft against the run.
This is not lost on the Bears, especially not their head coach Marc Trestman, who is perhaps the most cerebral of the 32 head coaches in Roger Goodell’s empire.
He saw his front seven get pushed around and he saw the heavy-legged Jacobs pound through huge holes. He also knows this is not likely to change a lot. Julius Peppers, 33, appears to have slowed down considerably. He will make big plays from time to time, but he will get glued to his blocker far more often than he should.
It comes down to this: if All-Pro linebacker Lance Briggs is not making the play against the run, the opposing running back is likely to get five or more yards per carry.
Theoretically, this means that a huge game should be at hand for Washington’s Alfred Morris. He is second to Houston’s Ben Tate among running backs (with 50 or more rushing attempts) as he has a 5.2 yards per carry average. Morris can’t be the top priority for the defense, since RGIII is under center and he is finding his running legs after a very slow start.
But our sources say the Bears will try to combat the Redskins by taking them out of their running game as much as they can.
If quarterback Jay Cutler can get off to a fast start and lead the Bears to a couple of early touchdown drives, Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will be far more likely to get out of his ground-and-pound running attack and ask Robert Griffin III to throw the ball.
That’s where the Bears have the advantage. RGIII was just 19-of-39 against Dallas in Week Seven, and his 80.4 passer rating ranks 25th in the league.
Even if RGIII has a successful possession, Cutler is going to get the ball right back. He is going to throw the ball and pick up huge Fantasy points, and so are wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
However, nobody may benefit more than Matt Forte (686 yards), because he ranks fourth (among running backs) in total offense behind LeSean McCoy (871 yards), Jamaal Charles (775 yards) and Arian Foster (714 yards).
This is the way Trestman wants to play the game. He wants to build a big lead early so he can take the Redskins out of their preferred running game. If he can, it means big Fantasy points for the Bears’ skill players.
Overlooked Mathews is the real deal
Even though Ryan Mathews ran for 102 yards against the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football, he is still being overlooked in Fantasy Football.
The Chargers are coming off a stellar victory and they have the privilege of lining up against the winless Jacksonville Jaguars this week. The Chargers are still an afterthought as far as being an NFL postseason contender, but don’t tell head coach Mike McCoy that, because he will just laugh at you.
McCoy loves Mathews because he runs with maximum effort on every carry. He is going to get the ball at least as much this week when the Chargers face the worst run defense in the league. Not only have the Jaguars allowed a league-worst 915 rushing yards, opposing running backs gain 4.8 yard every time they carry the ball, and have scored 10 touchdowns.
That’s why Mathews is nearly a lock for a great game. McCoy trusts him thoroughly, and he is coming off his best game. Mathews has not scored a rushing touchdown yet, but it changes against the Jaguars, because McCoy knows the Jacksonville defense will give it up once a running back starts pounding.
Nevertheless, Mathews is just the 24th-rated Fantasy running back by ESPN.com’s panel of experts. That group is obviously spooked by his TD total, which remains at one (vs. Houston as a receiver in Week One).
Mathews should be rated no lower than 10th among all running backs this week, because his matchup is so favorable.
If this were the old San Diego regime under Norv Turner, we would be worried about the typical San Diego letdown that would follow a big victory. But McCoy is building a constituency in the San Diego lockerroom and it starts with Philip Rivers.
His players believe in him, and they should be able to build off a big win from a Fantasy perspective. Look for Mathews and Danny Woodhead (five catches in each of his last five games) to lead the way.
If you are going to fall in love with the Chargers, you also have to lock Keenan Allen in your lineup if you haven’t already. He has back-to-back games with 100 yards and a touchdown.
But the emphasis here says that it is Mathews who has the big game and really deserves the Fantasy start.
Glennon far better than scouting reports indicated
Few teams are messier than the winless Tampa Bay Bucs.
Start with the way head coach Greg Schiano handled the Josh Freeman situation. It was vindictive and humiliating, and not befitting of an NFL head coach. Now Freeman has a chance to start with the Minnesota Vikings after his nasty exit from Tampa Bay.
But that doesn’t mean Schiano wasn’t right to take Freeman out of the lineup. His team appears to be much better off with Mike Glennon under center.
You are not going to start Glennon, unless you have the most desperate of quarterback circumstances. However, he can throw the ball accurately and do it on the run, something that last year’s scouting reports indicated he could not do.
He is not immobile. He can move enough to stay upright and he can read opponents’ coverages and defenses. Glennon completed 26-of-43 passes in Week Six against the Philadelphia Eagles, and that’s the first time this season that a Tampa Bay quarterback has completed more than 50 percent of his passes in a game.
With the arrow pointing up for Glennon, it means you must start wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who capitalized on Glennon’s accuracy by catching nine passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Our insiders report that Jackson is a lot happier than he was, and that means he should continue to be featured in the Tampa Bay offense this week when the Bucs play at Atlanta.
The Falcons have given up a TD reception in every game this season, so Jackson and Timothy Wright should have opportunities. If you are desperate for a TE, Wright might fit the bill. He is 6-3 and 220 pounds, and he has averaged six catches in the two games Glennon has played at quarterback.
The Detroit Lions are in a good position to attack the Cincinnati Bengals and their ninth-ranked pass defense as they come back home after improving to 4-2 with a road win over Cleveland. The news this week centers on the gradual return to health of Calvin Johnson, who has been battling a knee injury. He played sparingly against the Browns but should be close to his old self against the Bengals. The interesting part of the story for the Lions is the acquisition of Kevin Ogletree, who got on the field against Green Bay and Cleveland. This is the week he should be able to show off his deep speed, as the Bengals concern themselves with Johnson and tight end Joseph Fauria (five touchdowns). We hear that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and Jim Schwartz want to put Ogletree’s deep speed into action against Cincinnati.
Forget what head coach Mike Munchak said about being “proud” of the way wide receiver Kenny Britt has handled himself in recent days. Our sources say the Titans would love to trade Britt and that means he has to get on the field against the 49ers. While wideouts Kendall Wright and Nate Washington are top receiving options, the Titans would like to give Britt at least 20-to-25 snaps so he could draw interest from a potential trade partner. Fantasy players do not have to worry about Wright and Washington losing opportunities. It’s merely a showcase.
Look for Cole Beasley to take on a bigger role for the Cowboys this week from a Fantasy perspective because Miles Austin continues to have trouble with his hamstring. Beasley caught four passes vs. the Redskins and he’s got two important people in his corner – quarterback Tony Romo and head coach Jason Garrett. Both men see Beasley doing even more this week. Simply put, Beasley gets open and he does not drop the ball. That’s why Beasley is an emerging player and possibly a future breakout star.
If there’s ever a team that needs a wide receiver to open up the offense, it’s the Kansas City Chiefs. Quarterback Alex Smith may be the most unloved undefeated quarterback of all-time because his Fantasy numbers are so unimpressive. Seven passing touchdowns in six weeks is miserable. Smith and head coach Andy Reid know that the Chiefs are going to be in a very poor position soon and they need to get a legitimate receiver in a trade. We have told you that Dwayne Bowe is a mercenary and nothing has changed that.
If you need a tight end, Heath Miller is back in circulation as a Fantasy play. He has not scored a touchdown yet, but that changes this week against the Ravens. He has caught 12 out of 15 balls thrown his way in the last two weeks, and he makes it pay off with at least one touchdown this week
Love Him, Hate Him in Week Seven
Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett may not have had a touchdown since Week Two against the Minnesota Vikings, but he will exploit the slow Washington secondary. The Redskins have been quite charitable to tight ends, and the quirky Bennett will take advantage of it this week. LOVE HIM.
Maurice Jones-Drew has had two good back-to-back games with 70 rushing yards or more. He has also scored two touchdowns in the last four games. But don’t be tempted to play him. The Chargers are not going to let this opportunity to roll over an easy opponent slip through their grasp. They will shut him down. HATE HIM
WR Jordy Nelson is going to be a full-out stud this week against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns have been tough against wideouts – they haven’t given up a touchdown in the last four games – but Aaron Rodgers is going to be throwing to him all game as a result of injuries to Randall Cobb and James Jones. LOVE HIM.
It looks like Jets running back Bilal Powell has a chance for a productive game against the Pats, since they won’t have Vince Wilfork or Jerod Mayo. However, the Patriots’ defense is going to make stopping Powell and the running game their top priority. Look for the Patriots to crush Powell and the Jets’ running game. HATE HIM