I’m writing this column in the Tampa Bay International Airport as I’m waiting for my flight (three hour delay). I spent the weekend in Tampa, as my family was throwing a surprise party for my Aunt. I’m sure you’re all wondering, but I had a great time. The best part of the trip wasn’t the party, but watching the football games on Sunday and Monday with my brother and cousins. Sure, doing this job can sometimes leave you numb to enjoying the games, as usually when I’m watching and I see the stats scroll across the bottom of the screen, the first thing that goes through my head is, Bryant (12 receptions, 122 yards, two touchdowns), 36 Fantasy points in a PPR, 24 in standard. Watching it with family, however, you get more into the games. It seems like everyone was rooting for a different team and you could feel the emotion. Some play Fantasy Football, some don’t. It was all about getting together and making fun of each other when things went wrong or almost happy for them when things went their way. Good times indeed, well, not if you were Buccaneers fan.
If a draft was held today you have to wonder if Andrew Luck would be the first quarterback taken overall. He’s putting up a monster Fantasy Football season. What is really even more impressive is that he is doing this with an average running game at best and an offensive line that doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of the opposing team. Luck is also making TE Dwayne Allen Fantasy-relevant and perhaps we shouldn’t be so eager to send him packing now that someone like Jordan Reed is back.
Maybe it wasn’t RB Toby Gerhart’s fault after all. It’s not like anyone else that they have thrown out there behind that offensive line has done any better. Storm Johnson may have run for a touchdown but he was unimpressive with only 21 yards rushing on 10 carries. Quarterback Blake Bortles actually led the team in rushing yards, not really what you want. To put it nicely, I would stay as far away from this situation as possible.
You know that Tampa Bay must be pretty bad to make QB Joe Flacco look good. That was five touchdown passes he threw in the first half. Even WR Torrey Smith made an appearance, as he caught two of those TD passes. Wouldn’t it be nice now if those two could do it again this week? Flacco has had trouble being consistent and one would have to believe it would only help him to get T. Smith more involved in the offense.
I imagine that Fantasy owners are a little concerned that WR Wes Welker only had one reception Sunday versus the Jets. Is he not recovered from the concussion? Is he not as big a part of the game plan now that Emmanuel Sanders has arrived? It could just be the Jets defensive scheme forced Peyton Manning to look in other directions but that would seem unlikely. Welker is a sell candidate for me.
The Lions may have won the game Sunday but they are a mess right now on offense. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson missed the game due to that ankle injury and we really aren’t sure when he will return; could be this week, could be three weeks from now. Running back Reggie Bush is also dealing with an ankle injury that doesn’t seem to be as severe as Johnson’s, but still enough to keep him out of the game. The biggest problem for the Lions is that even when they return, they may not be anywhere near full strength.
All of those Fantasy Football owners who released QB Tom Brady two weeks ago now need to be talked off the ledge. Brady has put up back to back big games and once again looks like a must-start QB. If WR Brandon Lafell can continue to make big plays or, at the very least, continue to make opposing defenses respect the deep ball, Brady should continue to find success. There was some bad news for the Patriots, however, as RB Stevan Ridley was lost for the season due to a torn ACL. Brandon Bolden would seem to be the biggest beneficiary of this news, but rookie RB James White should also see an increase in touches and Shane Vereen could also. It won’t be any fun guessing what Coach Bill Belichick will do.
Ridley wasn’t the only RB to go down, as the Dolphins Knowshon Moreno is also done for 2014 with a torn ACL. This means Lamar Miller will now see a full complement of touches game in and game out, and should be considered no worse than a RB2 in most matchups.
Is QB Cam Newton back? It sure seems that way after watching him rush for over 100 yards versus the Bengals. Newton’s Fantasy value is in his legs. As a drop back QB he is average at best, and during the first five weeks of the season we have seen that, as the Panthers had kept him in the pocket to protect his ankle and ribs. Well, Sunday they let him loose and we saw the Cam we have all come to know and love.
Running back Terrance West was a surprise inactive Sunday. No reason was given. Has he fallen that far down the depth chart? Sometimes teams have tough decisions to make, especially with third string players that don’t contribute on special teams. Now, we know Ben Tate is the starter now that he is healthy, but now we also know that Isaiah Crowell is the one you want behind Tate.
What happened to the Seahawks Sunday versus the Cowboys? Did they take them lightly? Was it because of the short week? Possibly the coast to coast flight? Maybe it’s a little bit of everything, but that was a pretty ugly performance all around. These kinds of games happen though during an NFL season, so don’t do anything silly like trade QB Russell Wilson or RB Marshawn Lynch. I am a bit worried about WR Percy Harvin, though. Those big plays seem to be few and far between.
Raiders WR Andre Holmes is going to be the hot waiver wire addition this week, and who can blame anyone for claiming him? Holmes and James Jones are building up quite a rapport with QB Derek Carr and more big games could be in their future. Both of these WRs will be in the WR3/Flex range. As for the running game, I want nothing to do with it unless I’m completely desperate.
Quarterback Carson Palmer returned for the Cardinals on Sunday and he immediately made WR Larry Fitzgerald and WR Michael Floyd Fantasy Football relevant again. Now, Palmer didn’t throw many deep passes and that was probably the game plan, as it was estimated that he was only throwing the ball at about 80 percent of his velocity, but that should get better with each passing day. The time to buy low on either WR could be over. One thing, though; if I had a choice of which receiver to trade for, I’d rather have Floyd.
The Falcons offensive line problems are starting to take their toll on the passing game. Quarterback Matt Ryan just doesn’t have any time to throw. If his first read isn’t open, he may not have time to find his second option. The running game is old and slow when Steven Jackson is handling the rock, but much more interesting when Antone Smith gets the ball. Smith has been a journeyman during his NFL career and only touches the ball around eight times a game, but he’s making the most of those touches with five scores already this season. Should you add him? Well, you just know that as soon as you do he won’t score and you’ll be lucky to get three Fantasy points from him.
The Giants were not only crushed by the Eagles on Sunday but they lost WR Victor Cruz for the season with a torn patellar tendon. How will the Giants replace Cruz? Odell Beckham will now be moved into the starting lineup with Reuben Randle. Beckham would seem to be the real deal but he is also going to make his share of mistakes, however, he is still a must add in most leagues. Andre Williams got his first start in place of Rashad Jennings but the offensive line was so bad it was hard to get a read on how well he’s going to play in the next week or two.
Should RB Zac Stacy be benched, or maybe released? I wouldn’t go that far, but aside from the game versus the Cowboys he has not looked like the back we expected him to be. This could quickly develop into a three headed monster with Benny Cunningham and Tre Mason, which means that I’m staying as far away as possible. I try to avoid any RB situation where it becomes a guessing game as to who will do what (St. Louis, New England and Oakland). No, thank you.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz