It truly has been a roller-coaster season for the Fantasy owners of Ben Roethlisberger. He was on his way to a monster game, completing 24-of-44 passes for 334 yards and a pair of touchdowns before going down with a foot injury in the fourth quarter. Based on how he was unable to put any pressure on his left foot, it looked like a possible ruptured Achilles or a Lisfranc injury, but preliminary reports are that it’s just a sprained foot.
As things stand now, he expected to only be sidelined for a week or two. The Steelers have a Week 11 bye, so this really turned out to be a best case scenario. Considering how well this offense hums with him under center, plenty of Fantasy seasons hang in the balance with his return. As we saw earlier this year when he was sidelined by a bad knee, the receivers in the offense become borderline unusable. Antonio Brown caught 17 passes for 235 yards in the four games Big Ben missed. He caught 17 for 284 yards with Roethlisberger under center (most of the time) this week. Brown owners have a WR3 without Big Ben under center.
With Landry Jones as quarterback next week against a very bad Browns rush defense, you can expect to see plenty of DeAngelo Williams. The 32-year-old has been absolutely fantastic filling in for Le’Veon Bell, and in the three full games he has played in his absence has racked up 449 total yards and five touchdowns. As long as he is on the field, consider him an automatic start regardless of opponent.
Ken Whisenhunt was jettisoned as the coach of the Titans and replaced by Mike Mularky on Tuesday. It’s always interesting when you have a coaching change during the season. How will the team respond? Will the philosophies on offense or defense change? We got some answers, as the Titans went out and beat the New Orleans Saints on the road this week. For starters, they are going to roll with Antonio Andrews at running back with some Dexter McCluster on passing downs. Andrews is a grinder that can provide low end RB2/FLEX type numbers with 20 touches a game. The other big change was finally getting rookie Dorial Green-Beckham involved in the passing game. In his first seven games, he had seven catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns on 14 targets. This week, he caught five passes for 77 yards on 10 targets. Expect this trend to continue, making Green-Beckham (currently owned in just nine percent of leagues on ESPN) a top waiver wire target this week.
Dion Lewis was forced out of this week’s game against the Redskins with an injury to his left knee in the third quarter. Seeing the injury live was worrisome, as there wasn’t any contact and he immediately clutched at his knee in agony. He walked off the field and was ruled out of the game immediately. Early reports have him suffering just a sprained MCL. How long he will be out remains a mystery but his absence gives an immediate boost in value to LeGarrette Blount. Brandon Bolden stepped in after Lewis went down and saw four touches in a game that wasn’t close, meaning his services weren’t really required in the passing game. New England faces off against a Giants defense next week that is the worst in the league against the pass and also struggles against the run. Guessing how the Patriots decide to pick apart this woeful unit isn’t exactly an easy proposition. What we do know, though, is if the Giants manage to keep this close, Bolden could see enough work to warrant FLEX consideration in PPR leagues.
The Jaguars may have lost their sixth game of the season this week against the Jets, but from what I have seen from second-year signal caller Blake Bortles, they really have a future on offense. He completed 24-of-40 passes for a career-best 381 yards and two touchdowns and added another 32 yards on the ground. This marked the third time in his last four games that he has thrown for over 300 yards, and the fifth time in his last six games that he has thrown more than one touchdown pass. Yes, there are issues, particularly with his accuracy. As a rookie last year, he completed 58.9 percent of his passes and threw 17 interceptions. This season, he’s completed just 56.3 percent of his passes and thrown 10 interceptions. The main problem has been pass protection. Last year, he was sacked a league-high 55 times. This season, he has been sacked 24 times through his first eight games. Even with the shaky line he has begun looking downfield more and with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns as his receivers, he is going to put up numbers. He isn’t a weekly start, but he should be a streaming option against lesser defenses from here on out. If Jacksonville adds some offensive line help heading into next season, Bortles very well may make the jump to become an every week QB1.
The Dallas Cowboys ran the ball a total of 27 times on Sunday night against Philadelphia. Darren McFadden received all 27 of those carries and gained 117 yards, and added another catch for five yards. With Joseph Randle out of the equation, Matt Cassel was the only other player on the Cowboys to run the ball over the line of scrimmage. McFadden ran hard and gained plenty of yards after contact in this one. There was not only a lot to like from this game but also a lot to like in the future as well. The Cowboys don’t face an elite rush defense from here on out. The Cowboys look fully intent on running McFadden into the ground, much like they did last season with DeMarco Murray. Yes, McFadden has had plenty of issues with injuries throughout his career. Murray had those questions heading into last year as well. He survived. If McFadden stays on the field behind this dominant offensive line, he is going to be a RB1 for the rest of the season.
Sammy Watkins returned to the field against Miami and did some fine work, catching all eight of his targets for 168 yards and a touchdown. This is the type of production Fantasy owners have been waiting for all season. Unfortunately, this game may turn out to be an outlier on the season. Tyrod Taylor attempted just 12 passes on the afternoon. That’s right, twelve. That’s the third time in Taylor’s six starts he has attempted less than 20 passes in a game. His ability to run, combined with Buffalo’s overall game plan of winning games with ball control and defense means that if things go right for them on game day, they aren’t throwing. In their four victories, they haven’t thrown more than 29 passes. If you own Watkins, now is an optimal time to sell high on him. He is ultra-talented, but unless he catches just about everything thrown in his general direction, like he did today, big games are going to be few and far between.
Eddie Lacy fumbled with five minutes remaining in the first half in Green Bay’s loss at Carolina. He proceeded to see just one touch after that point in which he injured his groin and was done for the game. Lacy finished the afternoon with 10 yards on five carries. For the season, he has carried the ball 83 times for 308 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while adding another 10 grabs for 92 yards. He has yet to receive twenty carries in a game or rush for over 90 yards this season. His long run on the year is just 16 yards. He has shown zero burst, and after fumbling for the third time in as many games he is now showing no confidence. There is a very strong chance James Starks was going to take the starting from Lacy after yet another clunker. Now with the injury, Starks is likely going to run away with this job. Even when he returns to full strength Lacy is going to need to string together a few strong performances to gain your trust. With the Fantasy playoffs rapidly approaching is he a player you want to plug into your starting lineup? If you answered yes to that question you probably aren’t in playoff contention.