Ravens’ Offense Now a Fantasy Wasteland
The Ravens may have edged out a victory against the Rams but they essentially lost their season in the process. Quarterback Joe Flacco suffered a torn ACL and possible MCL during their game-winning drive and stayed in the game to clock the ball and set up a Justin Tucker field goal.
Just when you think things really couldn't get any worse, Justin Forsett broke his arm early in the first quarter of this game as well, and he too was lost for the rest of the season. Taking a look at the depth chart is enough to give Fantasy owners nightmares. Matt Schaub, the man whose career has imploded over the last few years, will be under center for Baltimore against Cleveland next week. In his last meaningful work with Houston, he lost his starting job after setting a record by giving up a pick-six in four consecutive games. Anyone care to wager how many interceptions for TDs he throws in the six games to close out the season? My money has him for two.
[caption id="attachment_100804" align="alignright" width="416"] Joe Flacco's season ending injury rendered almost all of the Ravens' offensive players useless for Fantasy. Photo Credit: Keith Allison[/caption]
Forsett will be replaced by Javorius "Buck" Allen. In his first extended look he gained 67 yards on 22 carries while adding in another 48 yards on five receptions. The Rams’ defense isn't a cupcake matchup, so these numbers aren't terrible by any means. With only Raheem Mostert and Terrance West behind him on the depth chart, Allen has RB2 potential against weak opposing defenses. Unfortunately, he should see plenty of stacked fronts courtesy of teams having no respect whatsoever for Schaub.
What we do know is that this will now be a unit to stream opposing defenses again. When your offense is highlighted by the aforementioned Allen, Kamar Aiken and Crockett Gillmore, optimism should be non-existent. Allen will be the only player worth starting from here on out.
In his first start as a pro, Brock Osweiler completed 20-of-27 passes for 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns, leading the Broncos to a win over the Bears. Despite taking five sacks on the afternoon, he looked solid in the pocket. Remember, this Denver offensive line has been atrocious all season long. Osweiler's ability to extend a play with his legs is a big change from the “fall down and crumple into a ball” Peyton Manning technique we have seen this year. Denver played ball-control and didn't ask Osweiler to win the game for them. He responded by managing the game well and protecting the ball, while moving the offense effectively. In Manning's nine starts this year, he turned the ball over at least once every game. Next week, the Broncos face off against the Patriots, which is a matchup to avoid if you are looking to get Osweiler into your lineups. After that, though, Denver faces San Diego, Oakland and Pittsburgh. Each of those defenses has given up over 16.6 standard scoring points-per-game to opposing quarterbacks this year. If Osweiler is still under contest for any of those games, he should be worth using if you don't have a stud on your roster at the position.
The Chiefs suffered another injury at running back, with Charcandrick West getting knocked out of this week's game early in the third quarter with what the team is calling a hamstring strain. The ETA for his return is still up in the air, meaning Spencer Ware will step into a starting role. After watching him gain 96 yards on 11 carries while adding two touchdowns in less than two quarters of work, he is going to be a very popular guy on waiver wires this week. Ware is a bowling ball of a man at 5'10”, 229 pounds. He also is surprisingly quick for his size. Ware passed Knile Davis on the depth chart two weeks ago, so the second-year man has gained the eye of the Chiefs’ coaching staff. If West can't go next week and Ware does a good job against Buffalo, it is very realistic that Ware will become the lead back with West picking up change-of-pace and passing down work. Buck Allen should be the first back picked up off waivers, but if you miss out on him, Ware should be an adequate fallback plan.
Jameis Winston had his best showing as a pro on Sunday, completing 19-of-29 passes for 246 yards and five touchdowns. In his previous nine games he had 10 touchdowns, so this was truly a breakout game for him. While this doesn't make him a weekly start in Fantasy leagues, it does improve the outlook of the entire Bucs offense. A look ahead at their schedule reveals that the Colts, Falcons, Saints, Rams and Bears will close out the rest of the Bucs’ Fantasy season. Of that group, only the Rams can't be viewed as a plus match-up. Mike Evans looks like he can be relied on as a low end WR1 from here on out. Doug Martin continues racking up yardage and should be viewed as an RB1 as well. The touchdowns will come, people. Vincent Jackson returned from his knee injury and looked good in the process. He should be a WR3, provided he remains healthy and on the field. When Austin Seferian-Jenkins finally returns from his injury (my money is on next week) Winston is going to have three targets over 6'5" to pepper with jump balls. Things are coming together here, and there is going to be some scoring from this group to close out the season. Be sure go get your Bucs active.
Heading into Week 11, we had at no fewer than five 300-yard passers per week. This week heading into Monday night, we have a grand total of two, both coming in the Sunday night game. If you were looking for a reason why your Fantasy team laid an egg this week in terms of scoring, you need not look any further. Sure, this week we were missing Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning, as their teams had byes, but that wouldn't have changed the fact that this was just a rough week as a whole. One might assume there was an abundance of 100-yard rushers instead, but that wasn't the case. If you managed to get out of Week 11 with a victory, count your blessings. An ugly win is still a win.
Marshawn Lynch was a surprise inactive this week against the 49ers. He was listed as questionable heading into the contest, and there was zero chatter about him missing the contest. My personal opinion is that coach Pete Carroll played it safe against an inferior opponent and gave Lynch an extra week to heal up for the stretch run. Regardless of that though, Thomas Rawls put up some serious numbers in his stead, gaining 255 total yards on 33 touches while adding two touchdowns. This is now his fourth 100-yard rushing game on the season. Lynch has just one. Rawls now leads the team in rushing yardage (604) and yards-per-carry (6.0), and quite frankly he has looked like the better player this season. If Seattle is going to make a run at the playoffs, they are going to need Rawls to touch the ball more often. Lynch owners should be worried, as he isn't likely to be relied on for 20-plus carries per game. Without that volume he isn't an RB1. In fact, his performance falls into the low-end RB2 range. Rawls will likely fall into the FLEX play conversation the rest of the way, as he is fully capable of putting up respectable point totals with 10-to-12 touches per game.
For the record, I have never been a Cam Newton guy. His accuracy (59.1 percent career completion percentage) has been sub-par throughout his career. This year hasn't been much different in that respect, as he has completed only 56.8 percent of his passes. That hasn't held him back, though. After connecting for another five touchdown passes this week, he now has 20 for the season. His career high heading into this season was 24. He’s also added another six touchdowns via the run. With six games remaining, he is on pace for 42 total touchdowns, which would crush the career-best 34 he had as a rookie sin 2011. Nothing he has done aside from passing and running for touchdowns is any better than his career lines. Newton is a QB1 based on what he has accomplished this season. When those touchdowns dry up, though, he is an average quarterback whose legs help mask the holes in his game. That being said, he has a sweet schedule the rest of the way, and should be started with confidence as a QB1. Just remember to take a look at his final stat line this year before automatically anointing him a Top-5 option heading into drafts next year.
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