OUTLOOKS FOR RODDY WHITE, PERCY HARVIN
It really is hard to fathom that there are only four weeks left in the regular season of most Fantasy leagues. The football season does fly by. At this time of the year, decisions become more important, more intense. Tempers will flare and accusations will be hurled. Working in this industry, I've learned a couple of things over the year. First, you need to have a thick skin. People are going to blame you for choices that don't add up. That's fine, it's the nature of the business, and we all want to win. I referee adult men hockey leagues a few nights a week. I know going in that I'm going to get yelled at. If I'm going to take that personally, then it's time to move on and find something else to do. It’s the same situation in Fantasy. The second thing I've learned that it is impossible to make the correct prediction all the time. You're considered good in this field if you're correct more than 60 percent of the time. Anything over 65 percent and you are an ace, 70 percent a Fantasy genius. What I'm trying to say is that you will never hear me call myself an expert; I don't believe that's possible in this industry, not at a 70 percent success rate anyway. A doctor is an expert. An engineer is an expert. They can't make mistakes. I'm an analyst. I take all the information I have and put that information into my predictions. I actually care about getting those predictions right more than I care about a majority of the leagues I play in (I do care about the money leagues). Now, let’s move on to my reactions from Week 9.
If you play in an IDP league (and if you don't, you really should), the loss of Geno Atkins to a torn ACL is a big one. The Bengals have taken a beating on defense the past couple of weeks, losing Leon Hall and Ray Maualuga as well as Atkins for the season. Carlos Dunlap is going to feel awfully lonely on that defense. Fantasy-wise, the Bengals DST takes a significant hit and is no longer a Top 10 play. Someone who is quickly becoming a Top 10 play is Giovani Bernard. That was an impressive game he had against the Dolphins. Now that the defense is coming unraveled, don't be surprised if the team gives Bernard a few more touches down the stretch. They can't keep playing it safe with their best playmaker next to A.J. Green.
Once again Lamar Miller looked good in a game. Is this fool's gold? Probably. Miller has looked like a legit back before, only to lose carries to Daniel Thomas. I'm not buying in, but I'm not ignoring him either.
I'm not saying you should, but if you have been thinking about trading the Kansas City D/ST, now would be a good time. Not only are they on a bye this week, but they also play the Broncos in Weeks 11 and 13.
One week after teasing us with seven catches for 67 yards and a score leading to a nice uptick in his ownership percentage, Dexter McCluster was a complete dud on Sunday with two receptions for nine whole yards. What made things even worse was that he dropped what easily should've been a long touchdown pass from Alex Smith. Watch his ownership percentage drop this week.
How bad is the Cowboys pass defense? Bad enough that it made Christian Ponder look like a usable Fantasy QB. Life should get better for the Dallas defense. DeMarcus Ware should return this week and Morris Claiborne will probably be back after the bye week. The problem is they play Drew Brees Sunday night and it would seem quite likely that they will get lit up once again no matter who returns to that lineup. Aside from the game against Denver, the Cowboys offense hasn't clicked for most of the season. They only ran the ball nine times versus the Vikings and one of those runs was a Romo scramble. There just doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for why the Cowboys do things. DeMarco Murray didn't play for large chunks of the second half but he didn't reinjure his knee. With the Cowboys it's anyone's guess as to what is going on. I can almost see the game plan for this Sunday versus the Saints. Go heavy with the run to keep the Brees off the field, but when that puts the Cowboys behind by double-digit points, abandon the run and go bananas with the pass to try and get back in the game. Dallas needs to figure out the right balance.
Welcome to the NFL, Zac Stacy. Is this kid the real deal or what? Sure, he ran for 127 yards and two scores to go along with another 51 yards on six receptions, but before we crown him as a weekly must- start, let's remember that with Kellen Clemens at the helm, teams will now focus all of their defensive efforts on Stacy.
Well, perhaps the threat of losing touches to Shonn Greene woke up Chris Johnson. He rushed for 150 yards versus the Rams (I know, doesn't everyone) and scored his first rushing touchdown of the season. Is this a sign of things to come? Maybe. Perhaps Johnson needed a kick in the backside. Perhaps it was just the Rams defense. As for Greene, he did end up with nine carries for 38 yards and a score of his own. With four teams on bye this week, he could still be a flex option for some owners, but I would hope that you would have better options.
Jimmy Graham is certainly looking more and more like his former self. He now has four touchdowns in two games since being diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. What is more important to his owners is that he was used more liberally yesterday, not just in red zone situations like Week 8. Darren Sproles suffered a concussion in the early going and was once again a zero for his owners. There is no word yet on when he might return. This may not be the worst thing, though. At least now you're forced to take him out of your lineup.
It's becoming a must-do thing now to start any player going up against his former team. That was 139 yards that Chris Ivory piled up versus the Saints. With Geno Smith struggling again (8-19-115), it would seem the Jets may have to rely on their running game after the bye week in order to move the chains.
Was yesterday the game that signals the return of RGIII to Fantasy prominence? At least with his arm it was. He looked good once again and may finally be a consistent weekly threat. It looks like RGIII will be a regular fixture in my Top 10 QB ranks for the rest of the year. Shame on me for not recommending Darrel Young this week. Doesn't it seem like Mike Shanahan is just toying with us sometimes? Alfred Morris is still the guy you want; let's not go crazy over Young like we did about Roy Helu a few weeks back.
Well, Roddy White didn't play yesterday after all. At this point, even when he does return, I wouldn't start him unless I have no other options. He's going to have to prove to me that he is healthy enough to make it through a full game before I put him back in my lineup, and even then I'd want to see some production first. Steven Jackson looks old and slow, but he did average 4.4 YPC during the game. Granted, the team was behind, so the Panthers weren't playing the run, but it's a step in the right direction.
What to do with Carolina's running game? Jonathan Stewart is back and looked like the best of Panthers stable. Mike Tolbert is just the goal line guy, so Stewart's return doesn't really change his value. However, DeAngelo Williams owners could see a change of touches in his near future. The Panthers may have to keep relying on that running game also, as Cam Newton was all over the place with his throws. He has been a bit on the inconsistent side so far this year.
Anyone who tells me they knew Nick Foles was going to go off yesterday had better be able to back that up in writing. Now, I started Foles in two leagues, but both of those were two-QB leagues and I had no other options (well, I could've started Jeff Tuel in one). Needless to say, I'm wondering two things. One, can he do it again this week versus Green Bay? And, if he continues to play well, will this keep Michael Vick on the bench? We all thought Foles was the next coming when he lit up Tampa Bay, but then saw him implode against Dallas. I need some consistency please.
That's back to back dud weeks for Terrelle Pryor. Perhaps the bloom is coming off the rose here. Throw in the knee injury that forced him from the game and I have my doubts as to whether or not I'd want to start him against a Giants team coming off a bye. Oh, and stop me if you have heard this before - Darren McFadden is hurt once again.
Not sure what to make of a Seattle defense that has made Zac Stacy and Mike James look like All-Pros in back to back weeks. The run defense seems to stiffen up when it matters, but struggles when it doesn't. You can get away with this against weaker teams, but it's not going to work as well against stronger ones.
Percy Harvin is still experiencing problems with his hip. Not major problems, but the team hasn't seen a reason to push their luck with him. The Hawks play Atlanta this week, then Minnesota before their bye week. It really shouldn't come as any surprise if the Hawks hold him out until Week 13. Some would say that is when their season truly begins, as they play New Orleans and San Francisco in back-to-back weeks.
It's too late to trade Ray Rice for anything worthwhile, but now has come the time where if you have other options, you should seriously consider starting them. Rice just looks old and slow. I'm not feeling all that good about Joe Flacco either.
You almost have to feel bad for Tom Brady owners. He finally has a huge game, throws for over 400 yards and four scores, looks like the Brady of old, and they have a bye this week. The time to buy low on Brady is over. With all of his weapons back and the bye week to get everyone at full strength, this team should continue to rock offensively.
The Texans may have found their quarterback of the future in Case Keenum. At the very least, he is making Andre Johnson a top wideout again. The biggest difference between Matt Schaub and Keenum is that Case likes to get the ball deep. He's not looking to dink and dunk. He also has more mobility than Schaub and is able to buy time to find the open receiver. We had doubts about Arian Foster and his availability all week with his hamstring injury, but it was a back problem that forced his early removal last night. It should be another fun week trying to figure out whether or not he will play Sunday.
Teams on bye this week are Cleveland, Kansas City, New England, and the Jets.
As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.
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