EYES ON RAY RICE, ANDRE ELLINGTON
I started my home Fantasy league in 1988. Actually, it was a friend of mine who came up with the idea, I just ran with it, coming up with the requirements and rules to play. Back then it was an automatic that you drafted running backs early and often. In this day and age though, do they really mean anything? To say the NFL has become a passing league is like saying cereal tastes better with milk. It's a given at this point and although nothing can be done about it now, I'm wondering if next season's Fantasy drafts will start to reflect this. What I mean is that it may become time to start moving receivers up in our drafts, especially in PPR leagues. Doesn't it seem like there are quite a few running backs who are busts this year (Doug Martin, C.J. Spiller, Trent Richardson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Stevan Ridley, David Wilson, Steven Jackson, Alfred Morris)? Wide receivers may end up being the safer route to go next year. Here are my reactions from Week 5.
The Cleveland Browns have really been a strange story so far this season. When they traded away Trent Richardson they seemed to be announcing that they were playing for the future, but now they have won three straight games. Quarterback Brian Hoyer made the passing offense relevant again with help from Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron. Then fates took over, or just plain bad luck, and Hoyer tore his ACL and is out for the season. This brings Brandon Weeden back into the limelight. Can he pick up where Hoyer left off? Probably not, but those owners in two QB leagues may have no choice but to hope Weeden learned a little something while watching Hoyer.
I ended up playing both Spiller and Fred Jackson in all of my leagues last Thursday. It's not that I saw a big game coming from either, but rather my internet connection failed and I couldn't get online to change my lineups. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.
The Bills QB situation is now a complete mess. EJ Manuel suffered an unnecessary knee injury versus Cleveland by taking a hit when he could've easily stepped out of bounds. It looks like he will be lost to Fantasy owners for at least a couple of weeks. Jeff Tuel came in to replace Manuel and was terrible to say the least. He was so bad in fact that coach Doug Marrone announced Monday that Thaddeus Lewis has been activated from the practice squad and will start Sunday versus Cincinnati.
Darren Sproles' owners had to be very disappointed with his performance Sunday, especially after he gutted the Dolphins on Monday night. Sproles only had six touches versus the Bears as Pierre Thomas took over the receiving role out of the backfield with nine catches and 28 overall touches. While coach Sean Payton will surely love yet another passing threat, Fantasy owners won't. This could become a guessing game week in and week out as to who will become the better Fantasy play. Good luck. That big sigh you hear are Mark Ingram owners realizing it's over.
Just when you thought Tom Brady was returning back to normal -- not so fast. Yeah the weather was lousy and true he still doesn't have Rob Gronkowski (maybe next week), but still I don't think anyone outside of Bengal fans thought Brady's streak of games with at least one touchdown pass would come to an end Sunday. Danny Amendola did return with four catches for 55 yards, so life should get better for Tom, but the running game is still a huge question mark. Ridley missed the game with a knee injury and although LeGarrette Blount was the hot claim this week, he is certainly not the answer. Not sure what that answer might be and neither is New England.
The Jaguars are yet another offense that is pretty close to a disaster. They seem to be playing revolving quarterback each week although they are giving Blaine Gabbert every chance to prove to them that he can handle the job, he can't. Chad Henne is a better QB, but he certainly isn't the answer either. The good news is that Justin Blackmon came back from his four-game suspension with a bang, 5-136-1. Even Maurice Jones-Drew had a usable Fantasy day with 70 yards on 17 carries (hey, it's progress). I can't say it enough, if I'm the Jags, I would trade him as soon as possible, while he still has value.MJD
If you watched the game Sunday than you know that Ray Rice had next to no jump in his step. Sure, he scored two touchdowns versus the Dolphins, but those were from two and three yards out. He's still a must start but he may also be TD dependent to really have a big Fantasy day.
What do we make of Lamar Miller? He can look explosive at times, like he is just about ready to blow up, but he can also have games like Sunday versus Baltimore, with seven carries for a measly 15 yards. The Dolphins did abandon the ground game as they fell behind the Ravens by multiple scores, but perhaps they wouldn't had they seen something positive from him. Charles Clay had a solid game with three catches, 52 yards, and a touchdown, but also had several drops. He is still a work in progress but he has been a very pleasant surprise.
If you're a Michael Vick owner and are thinking about whining and complaining about him getting hurt, and now also that he will be out this week, get over it. This was just a matter of when, not if. I have Vick in two leagues (both 2QB leagues) and will be happy if he is only out the one game. Nick Foles did look good in place of Vick but let's see how he does when a defense (Tampa Bay) is preparing for him.
Reuben Randle had a big game for the Giants (6-96-2) but also dropped two bombs that would've easily put him over 200 yards for the day. Eli Manning had another terrible game with three more picks, but he also deserves credit for going back to Randle after those drops. Just when it looked like David Wilson may have found his game, out he went with a neck injury. The injury is not considered to be serious and he could play Thursday at Chicago. On a side note, those backflips he does after scoring a TD, while they are fun to watch, if I were the coach, would have to come to an end.
Calvin Johnson being inactive for the game Sunday caught just about everyone by surprise. His knee injury is not considered to be a long-term concern, but any time missed by Johnson causes a ripple effect throughout the entire offense. Even if Nate Burleson were healthy, there just isn't another receiver on that roster who can strike fear into the hearts of defenders. Some might have thought that Reggie Bush would be the beneficiary of more targets with Johnson out. While that may be true, he is also the main focus of the defenses, and they will do their best to take him out of the game.
In the opening I mentioned all the RBs that have been disappointing so far this season. Well, the poster boy for receivers who fit that mold is Dwayne Bowe. He has 17 receptions for 183 yards and two touchdowns so far this season. Alex Smith's inability or unwillingness to throw the ball into the secondary is definitely making him no more than a Flex play. At this point Donnie Avery seems to be the go to WR after Jamaal Charles.
Welcome to the 2013 NFL season, T.Y. Hilton. He was one of those players that quite a few owners may have had on their bench this week, and really, who can blame them. He had been battling a groin injury and even when healthy had been ineffective. Then he busted out with 6-140-2. There are always tough decisions to be made and sometimes the wrong choices are made.
It may be time to pick up Andre Ellington if he is still available in your league, especially if you play PPR. Rashard Mendenhall will still get his touches, but he may be more of the short yardage guy now. I doubt Ellington is going to be the next big thing, but at the very least he is a bye week filler.
Miles Austin has now missed two games with what was supposed to be a minor hamstring injury. He may end up like Wally Pipp. Terrance Williams had a huge game versus Denver (who didn't). Miles will still end up being the slot receiver if and when he returns to the lineup, but his days in Dallas would appear to be numbered. Apparently the word that came out about Tony Romo being completely healthy and now able to throw the deep ball, was true, or at the very least it signaled a change in philosophy. That was 500-plus yards he threw for, and have you seen the defenses he is playing the next few weeks (Washington, Philadelphia, Minnesota)?
Is Matt Schaub going to be replaced as starting QB for Houston? This is now four straight games in which he has throw a pick six and the fans are calling for his head on a stick. The problem is T.J. Yates is really not the answer and it would seem unlikely that coach Gary Kubiak would be inclined to make this change. His job could depend on whether or not Schaub rebounds.
I'd like to say that I stayed up to watch the Oakland/San Diego game, but the truth is I recorded the game and watched it this morning. Fantasy owners have to be disappointed that Rashad Jennings only lasted 10 carries before suffering a hamstring injury. He seems unlikely to play this week and with Darren McFadden's status also up in the air, Fantasy owners might want to grab Marcel Reece.
Teams on bye this week are Atlanta and Miami.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.
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