January 5-6 — Wild Card Playoffs
January 6 — Assistant coaches under contract to playoff clubs that have byes in the Wild Card weekend may be interviewed for head coaching positions through the conclusion of the Wild Card games.
January 12-13 — Divisional Playoffs.
January 13 — Assistant coaches under contract to playoff clubs that won their Wild Card games may be interviewed for head coaching positions through the conclusion of Divisional Playoff games.
January 15 — Deadline for underclassmen to petition for special eligibility for the 2013 NFL Draft.
January 19 — East-West Shrine Game, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida.
January 20 — AFC and NFC Championship Games.
January 24-25 — Regional Combine, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii
January 26 — Senior Bowl, Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama.
January 27 — AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii.
January 27 — An assistant coach, whose team is participating in the Super Bowl, who has previously interviewed for another club’s head coaching job may have a second interview with such club no later than the Sunday preceding the Super Bowl.
February 2 — Texas vs. Nation College All-Star Game, Eagle Stadium, Allen, Texas.
February 3 — Super Bowl XLVII, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana.
February 9-10 — Regional Combine, Orange Coast College-Lebard Stadium, Los Angeles, California
February 16 — Regional Combine, Methodist Training Center (Texans), Houston, Texas
February 17 — Regional Combine, Cleveland Browns Training Facility, Cleveland, Ohio
February 20-26 — Combine Timing and Testing, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
March 2-3 — Regional Combine, Atlantic Health Jets Training Facility, New York/New Jersey
March 9 — Regional Combine, One Buccaneer Place, Tampa, Florida
March 10 — Regional Combine, Halas Hall (Bears), Chicago, Illinois
March 9-11 — Clubs are permitted to enter into contract negotiations with certified agents of players who will be Unrestricted Free Agents at the end of the current League Year.
March 12 — Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must exercise options for 2013 on all players who have option clauses in their 2012 contracts.
March 12 — Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must submit Qualifying Offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts and to whom they desire to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation.
March 12 — Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must submit a minimum salary offer to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2012 contracts and who have fewer than three seasons of free agency credit.
March 12 — All 2012 player contracts will expire at 4:00 p.m., New York time.
March 12 — Top-51 Begins. All clubs must be under the Salary Cap prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time.
March 12 — The 2013 League Year and Free Agency period begin at 4:00 p.m., New York time.
March 12 — Trading period begins at 4:00 p.m., New York time, for 2013 after expiration of all 2012 contracts.
March 16-17 — Regional Combine, Atlanta Falcons Training Facility, Atlanta, Georgia
March 17-20 — Annual League Meeting, The Biltmore, Phoenix, Arizona.
March 23-24 — Regional Combine, Virginia Mason Athletic Center (Seahawks), Seattle, Washington
March 23-24 — Regional Combine, Baltimore Ravens Training Facility, Baltimore, Maryland
April 7-8 — Super Regional Combine, Cowboys Stadium, Dallas, Texas
April 25-27 — NFL Draft, New York City, New York.
May 20-22 — NFL Spring League Meeting, Hyatt-Harborside, Boston, Massachusetts.
September 5, 8-9 — NFL Kickoff 2013
January 5-6 — Wild Card Playoffs
Week 10 provided us with an interesting display of football as many games went as planned — while others took a massive detour into the unexpected. An, while we were right on with most of our fantasy predictions, we were a bit off on some and WAY off on others.
Not necessarily that the players performed well — but rather that our prediction of how they would perform was pretty much on the money.
Matt Ryan (Start)
The Prophecy: He has a VERY favorable match-up on tap in Week 10 when the Falcons head out to New Orleans to face the Saints. The Saints rank #30 in our Pass Defense Power Rankings. They also rank #32 in points allowed to fantasy QBs. New Orleans has been awful on defense this season and Ryan threw for a combined 724 yards and three scores in the teams’ two meetings last year. Call him our START OF THE WEEK.
The Reality: This one was really not that hard to predict. The game turned into a shootout, and Ryan put the ball in the air 52 times. He finished with 414 passing yards, 3 TD passes and an INT. He also came very close to completing a 4th TD pass at the end of the game.
Philip Rivers (Start)
The Prophecy: An average game for him is 230 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. That is not getting it done from a fantasy perspective. Even last week against the lousy Chiefs defense he was efficient rather than explosive. So why are suggesting rolling him out there this week? Well, Rivers takes on a weak Buccaneers’ passing defense. The Bucs are allowing over 318 passing yards per game — last in the league. They also rank #32 in our Pass Defense Power Rankings.
The Reality: In what turned out to be a losing effort, Rivers completed 29 of 37 pass attempts for 337 yards and 3 TDs. Alas, his 2 INTs were very costly, but he still wound up being a top 5 fantasy QB in most formats.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (Reward)
The Prophecy:Fitz remains a hit-or-miss proposition. Last week, we suggested sitting him against a strong Texan defense — and hopefully you took our advice. The usual flaws in his game continue to resonate: no touch on the deep ball, inconsistent accuracy (as opposed to downright inaccuracy) and a maddening tendency to average little more than 5-6 yards per pass attempt. Although these same issues will likely rare their ugly ahead this week once more against the Patriots this week, the good news is that the New England secondary has problems covering as well as tackling. The Patriots rank #28 in our Pass Defense Power Rankings and are giving up the fifth most points to fantasy QBs. Hence, Fitzpatrick should be good for a decent amount of passing yards and possibly multiple TD passes.
The Reality: This turned out to be genuinely prophetic, as Fitz did exactly what he suggested he would. He passed for 337 yards and multiple (2) TD passes. He also threw a really bad interception at the worst possible time, as the Bills were driving for a would-be go-ahead score with 30 seconds to go.
Matt Schaub (Sit)
The Prophecy: Schaub might be throwing more than expected in Week 10 at Chicago, but that will be a difficult match-up. The Bears’ defense ranks #1 in fantasy points allowed to QBs. Plan on using Schaub as a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback against the Bears.
The Reality: In what turned out to be an ugly (or beautiful, depending upon your perspective) defensive battle, the Texans had trouble getting the passing game going against the Bears. In fact, Schaub failed to crack the 100-yard mark, passing for just 95 yards. He did complete a TD pass to Arian Foster but also tossed 2 INTs.
Stevan Ridley (Start)
The Prophecy:He and the Pats are rested after a bye and will face a familiar opponent this week. Ridley had 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns Week 4 against the Bills, so Ridley will be a viable Fantasy option again Week 10. The Bills rank #31 in our Run Defense Power Rankings, #32 in rushing TDs allowed, #31 in rushing yards allowed, and are #32 in points allowed to fantasy RBs. Ridley should be a top 10 fantasy option at the RB position this week.
The Reality: We predicted 99 total yards and a TD. Ridley finished with 98 yards and a TD.
C.J. Spiller (Reward)
The Prophecy:The Bills made idiotically little use of the running game in their loss to the Texans last week, despite the fact that they were in the game until the closing minutes. That is on Chan Gailey. Hopefully, he will make better use of Spiller and Jackson this week against the Patriots. Throw out the poor performances by both Jackson and Spiller last time they faced the Pats (in Week 4) — both were being rushed (probably too soon) from injuries. Spiller is clearly the more explosive of the two Buffalo backs, and we expect Gailey to find clever ways to get Spiller involved. Even if the Bills fall behind early and are forced into the passing game, Spiller is effective in that role as well.
The Reality: Gailey did not exactly wake up and smell the coffee, but Jackson and Spiller combined for 25 carries against the Patriots, and, while Jackson did get the most attention, Spiller was indeed the more explosive of the two. In fact, Spiller finished with 131 yards on just 13 total touches.
Ryan Mathews (Sit)
The Prophecy: Mathews has yet to top 100 yards rushing in a game this year, and he has rushed for just one touchdown. He has a solid 4.4 yards-per-carry on the season, but (again) the lack of meaningful touches continues to be a problem. The Chargers will try to get Mathews going in Week 10 against the Buccaneers, a team that is allowing just 14.1 Fantasy points per game against running backs. The Buccaneers rank #5 in our Run Defense Power Rankings and are #1 in rushing yards allowed.
The Reality: We predicted 73 total yards with no score. Mathews finished the day with 76 total yards and no score. At least Norv Turner TRIED to get him involved with 17 rushes and 22 total touches in the game.
DeAngelo Williams (Sit)
The Prophecy: Just when we were all writing him off (even believing that the Panthers would trade him), Williams responded with a pretty good fantasy outing. Of course, this performance was essentially the result of a single carry — a 30-yard TD run in which Williams put on ballet-like moves to tightrope the sideline. The run was also aided by an inadvertent whistle (sure these are not replacement officials?), which may have caused the defense to ease up. Williams gained just 7 yards on his other five carries. Not good. So do not let this one run, fool you into inflating Williams’ value (unless you are trying to hoodwink another owner into trading for him). Williams and Stewart remain in what amounts to a time share with each of them getting an almost identical number of carries (67 for Williams, 62 for Stewart), and Stewart being the more effective of the two in the passing game.
The Reality: Bingo! Williams was his usual ineffective self with 6 rushes for 6 yards and a single reception for 17 yards. Not that Stewart is much better, but at least he managed to rush for 32 yards and caught 2 passes.
Matt Forte (Risk)
The Prophecy:Forte is an elite running back, and now has double-digit Fantasy points in three of his last four games. You probably have to start him, but be fore-warned that he has a tough match-up this week. The Texans rank #4 in our Run Defense Power Rankings, #1 in rushing TDs allowed, #2 in rushing yards allowed, and #3 in fantasy points allowed to RBs.
The Reality: The Texans indeed did a great job bottling Forte up all game long.
Michael Crabtree (Start)
The Prophecy: He’s a decent bet in your lineup this week being that he had 12 catches for 182 yards and 3 TDs against St. Louis last year and 10 catches for 183 yards and 2 TDs in 2010. This means that he’s scored 4 straight games against St. Louis.
The Reality: Make that 5 straight games. It did not matter whether it was Smith or Kaepernick throwing the ball, Crabtree was getting his share of looks. He finished with 5 receptions for 70 yards and a TD.
Malcolm Floyd (Start)
The Prophecy: The Chargers will take on the Buccaneers in Week 10, a team that has had trouble stopping wide receivers this season. They are averaging 27.9 Fantasy points against the Bucs this season as the Buccaneers rank #32 in our Pass Defense Power Rankings. The Buccaneers currently rank #32 in receiving yards allowed. The Buccaneers rank #30 against fantasy WRs. Consider Floyd a viable starting Fantasy option in most formats for the matchup.
The Reality: As I already pointed out in discussing Rivers, the San Diego passing game looked just fine against the Bucs on Sunday. Floyd caught 6 of his 7 targets for 63 yards and a TD.
Cecil Shorts (Reward)
The Prophecy: Because Shorts has made his living on big plays during this breakout season, you might think a low number of targets is the norm for him, but he was in double digits in his previous two games, but he fell flat on his face last week with Robinson back and Blackmon getting more targets. With the Colts D having given up 12 passing TDs to date, we see Shorts as a decent sleeper WR pick this week in deeper formats.
The Reality: It seems like awhile ago now, since this was a Thursday nighter. However, Shorts finished the game with 105 yards and a score.
Steve Smith (Risk)
The Prophecy: Smith is going to catch some passes this week against the Broncos. The guys is an incredible WR. In fact, he made an incredible catch for his touchdown last week against Washington. The problem is that he didn’t necessarily rack up the yards expected against Washington’s porous secondary. Being that he has only 1 TD on the season we wouldn’t bet on a repeat this week. And if he can’t find the end zone, he won’t be a great play.
The Reality: No end zone for Smith, who was targeted 7 times but caught just 1 pass for 19 yards.
Scott Chandler (Reward)
The Prophecy: The Patriots rank #28 in our Pass Defense Power Rankings and #29 against fantasy TEs. Being that the Bills will need to pass early and often against the Pats high-powered offense, Chandler figures for a good match-up. Also keep in mind that he had four catches for 62 yards and two touchdowns against New England in Week 4, so he should be considered a potential starter in Week 10.
The Reality: Chandler caught 5 passes for 65 yards and a TD. He came within inches of catching another TD pass on the play before Fitzpatrick’s ill-fated interception.
Kyle Rudolph (Reward)
The Prophecy: Looking toward Week 10 vs. Detroit, Rudolph managed just two catches for 8 yards Week 4 against the Lions. However, wide receiver Percy Harvin (ankle) might sit out Sunday, so that could mean more targets for Rudolph. In fact, we do expect him to catch a TD pass in a play-action situation as Detroit will likely sell out to try to stop the red hot Peterson.
The Reality: Rudolph led the team in targets (9 of them), and finished the day with 7 receptions for 64 yards — and a TD.
Brent Celek (Sit)
The Prophecy: The Cowboys rank #4 in our Pass Defense Power Rankings and #3 in receiving TDs allowed. Celek has underwhelmed in recent weeks and that trend continued Monday night. He has just 12 catches for 112 yards in the last three games and has not score since Week 5. Michael Vick’s struggles have hindered his value in Fantasy so owners with a more reliable option should consider keeping Celek reserved for Week 10 against the Cowboys.
The Reality: Although we did not predict that Vick would get hurt, it did not seem to matter which QB was in there. Celek finished the game with just 3 receptions for 31 yards.
These were all predictions on which we were a bit off.
Eli Manning (Reward)
The Prophecy: Eli has struggled to even get to a modest 200 yards passing in recent weeks. of course, he has faced some very strong defenses, so the match-ups have been tough. In the last four games he has taken on the 49ers, Redskins, Cowboys and Steelers. of those four, only the Redskins could be considered a favorable match-up. We expect Eli to get back on the horse this week against the Bengals. Opposing QBs average about 260 passing yards per game against the Bengals. Also, over the last 3 games, the Bengals have allowed 6 TD passes. Looking at it that way, 260 passing yards and 2 TD passes would qualify Eli as a mid-tier starting fantasy QB this week. You should view him as such.
The Reality: For fantasy owners, the Eli Manning situation has crossed the threshold now of being an absolute crisis situation. Against a Bengals defense that has been far from superb, Eli failed to get it into the endzone a single time and tossed 2 INTs.
Ryan Tannehill (Reward)
The Prophecy:Tannehill has a strong matchup in Week 10, against a Titans team that has surrendered 20 touchdown passes and is allowing 282.7 passing yards per game. Assuming the knee holds up, Tannehill should be considered a low-end Fantasy option in deeper formats for Week 10.
The Reality: Yea, well, that Tennessee-Miami game did NOT go an anticipated. Rather than a shootout, what we saw was a blowout. Tannehill struggled mightily with no TD passes and 3 INTs.
Sam Bradford (Sit)
The Prophecy:As we predicted headed into the season, Bradford has been a weak fantasy performer in 2012. In fact, he has really only posted two really good fantasy performances this season: a 3-touchdown pass game way back in Week 2 against Washington and a 315-yard effort against the Dolphins where he failed to throw a TD pass). Otherwise, Bradford has been an after-thought in fantasy. When we last saw him against the Patriots (a defense against whom we thought he may have had some success), he barely managed to crack the 200-yard mark and tossed just 1 TD pass. Jeff Fisher is a bigger fan of running the ball, and you have to figure that will be the Rams’ focus coming off their bye. Of great concern is the opponent this week, the 49ers, who are also coming off a bye. The 49ers rank #2 in our Pass Defense Power Rankings. They are also first in passing TDs allowed, #2 in passing yards allowed and #2 in fewest points allowed to fantasy QBs. Unless you are in a real bind and have no other choice, keep Bradford on your bench.
The Reality: Bradford actually had a very good game against the 49ers with 275 passing yards and 2 TD passes. Bear in mind that he also had another 80-yard pass to Danny Amendola called back due to a penalty.
Chris Johnson (Risk)
The Prophecy: At this point, Johnson is a borderline must-start, but temper expectations. He could still be fool’s gold — and takes on a Miami defense that ranks #3 in our Run Defense Power Rankings and is #3 in rushing yards allowed.
The Reality: At least we did not suggest benching him, so hopefully this was more a case of reaping better benefits than you anticipated. On 23 carries, he finished with 126 yards and a TD. He also tacked on a couple of receptions for 8 more yards for good measure.
Victor Cruz (Reward)
The Prophecy:Cruz remains a must-start Fantasy receiver in all formats for Week 10 at Cincinnati.
The Reality: It is hard to suggest benching Cruz, but he has now had 3 lousy games in a row. Obviously as Eli has gone, so has gone the Giants’ receivers. This a team that can really use their bye in Week 11.
Kenny Britt (Reward)
The Prophecy: It looks like Locker will play this week, but being that the Dolphins rank #29 in our Pass Defense Power Rankings, #30 in receiving yards allowed, and #29 against fantasy WRs, Britt should be a good play. Britt’s 67 yards last week represented a season high, and he seems to be steadily improving as he gets farther away from his lost 2011 season. Britt should be a nice flex-play or WR3 this week.
The Reality: The Titans dominated the Dolphins, but ironically Britt played a very little role in the game. Just 2 catches for 36 yards.
Brandon Lloyd (Reward)
The Prophecy:Lloyd has just three catches for 34 yards in his last two games, but two of those touchdowns have now gone for touchdowns, which is huge in Fantasy. Being that he scored a TD against Buffalo earlier this year and that Welker and Hernandez are dinged up, Lloyd should be a decent marginal WR2 or a really good flex option.
The Reality: The Buffalo-New England game was a very unusual one. Despite putting up 37 points against the Bills, the Pats’ offense was not overwhelming. In fact, 2 of their TDs were set up first and goal from the one yard-line due to questionable pass interference calls. Also an early turnover, set them up with a short field on which to score. So, while the Pats were effectively scoring, they were not having to consume large chunks of field and clock to do so — the Bills wound up controlling the time of possession and far out-did the Pats in terms of yards. Case in point is Lloyd, who caught 5 passes for a harmless 45 yards.
Danny Amendola (Risk)
The Prophecy: Amendola has been putting in limited practices over the past two weeks, but with the added benefit of teh extra bye last week to heal, he is fully expected to play in Week 10 against the 49ers. He has been Sam Bradford’s most reliable target but has been out since Week 5. The good news is that he should see the bulk of targets in the passing game. The bad news is that his welcome back does come against a stout 49er defense that is tough on opposing WRs. Given the concerns about his being rusty after missing so much time and the tough match-up, we do not see him as anything better than a flex play in PPR formats this week.
The Reality: No rust here. Amendola was a PPR stud Sunday with 11 receptions of 102 yards. As I already mentioned, he almost had another reception of 80 yards to add to the mix too.
Anthony Fasano (Reward)
The Prophecy:Despite the fact that Fasano has just 2 catches for 12 yards the last two weeks he won’t be a good bet in a PPR league. However, he should be a nice sleeper TE this week as he’s scored 2 TDs the last 3 weeeks and faces a Titans defense that ranks #31 in receiving TDs allowed and #32 against fantasy TEs. We expect to see him catch another red zone TD this week.
The Reality: Fasano slept through the game alright. Was he even there? Oh, he did catch one pass for 4 yards.
Dan Carpenter (Reward)
The Prophecy: Carpenter is a nice sleeper play if your regular kicker is on a bye this week. The Titans rank #32 against fantasy Kickers. So while Carpenter missed four of his first 10 attempts this season, he has not missed a field-goal attempt since Week 5 and is hot of late. Being that the Dolphins will likely put up points in Week 10 against the Titans we consider him a viable kicking option this week.
The Reality: Seeing a pattern here? That Tennessee-Miami game really did not go as forecast, and thus, we missed on a number of player, including Carpenter, whose contribution was a single field goal. It gets worse (see below)…
New York Giants Defense (Start)
The Prophecy: The Giants defense is rolling of late. They rank 2nd in the NFL with 26 turnovers and 3rd with 25 sacks. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the Bengals have allowed the 8th most sacks and Dalton has been picked off 11 times. The G-men should be a relevant fantasy D again this week. Start them in all formats.
The Reality: Yea, not much good to say about the Giants’ effort against the Bengals on Sunday. Any Dalton set a career high against them with 4 TD passes. Need I say more?
Undoubtedly many fantasy owners are slapping themselves this morning if they followed our advice on any of these plays in Week 10. Oh, if we only had a crystal ball!
Carson Palmer (Risk)
The Prophecy: Palmer will need to get his turnovers under control or he could be in for a long day when the Raiders head out to Baltimore to face the Ravens in Week 10. While Palmer has shown flashes of his high-end potential, he should be considered more of a low-end option this week.
The Reality: Palmer passed for 369 yards and 2 TD passes, as he was forced to air it out early and often against the Ravens. I should have made a better prediction on this one given that I knew that the Raiders’ running backs were banged up and that Palmer would HAVE to throw.
Rashad Jennings (Start)
The Prophecy:Jennings looks to be a sneaky good start this week. First, we already know that Maurice Jones-Drew will miss at least another week (and probably more than that) with his foot injury. That was the case last week too, but the Jags got down in the game early and were forced into pass-happy mode. On a per-touch basis, Jennings did fine. We expect the Jags to be much more competitive against the Colts this week, and expect the running game to be more on display. The Colts, meanwhile, present a most favorable match-up for Jennings and the Jags. Start him as a RB2 with confidence.
The Reality: Nothing “sneaky good” here. And I promise to never use the word “condidence” and Rashad Jennings in the same sentence again. Against a porous Indy run defense, Jennings managed just 27 yards on 11 carries.
Reggie Bush (Start)
The Prophecy: Although the Dolphins have played surprisingly well though the first half of the season, Reggie Bush has seen his touches drop week-by-week as Daniel Thomas has begun to eat into his production. Still, Bush remains the Dolphins’ top rusher, and it makes sense not to over-work him. They key is that Miami is finding ways to use him effectively. So, even if he only sees, say, 15 carries per game, the probability is strong that he will manage 60-70 rushing yards — and more in the passing game. He should have a good chance to find room to operate this week against the Titans. Tennessee has allowed 100 yards rushing in seven of nine games this season, and are surrendering 24.5 Fantasy points per game. The Titans currently rank #30 in rushing yards allowed and #30 in points allowed to fantasy RBs. We like him a s a solid RB2 this week.
The Reality: Not much to say here. Bush was highly ineffective: just 4 carries for 21 yards (actually not a bad 7.0 yard average) and caught 1 pass for 8 yards. The issue was a really bad fumble that proved costly. In fact, Bush wound up riding the pine for much of the day and watched Daniel Thomas get most of the carries.
Michael Turner (Reward)
The Prophecy: The Saints have been dreadful defending the run thus far (170.1 ypg) and Turner has averaged 77.8 yard rushing and scored four TDs over eight career games against them. Continue to roll with Turner as a viable start in all formats this week.
The Reality: If I were doing an All Villain Team, as I did a few weeks back, Turner would be the #1 selection. This was not a case, like Reggie Bush’s were he simply did not get enough carries. Turner actually got 13 carries in the game — but managed just 15 yards. He did not catch a pass, and when given multiple opportunities to score from short range could not get it done. If he couldn’t give fantasy owners more than 1.5 points against a terrible Saints defense, it is going to be VERY hard trusting him moving forward.
Steven Jackson (Sit)
The Prophecy: Are Jackson’s days in St. Louis numbered? It certainly looks that way. There were rumors that he was on the trading block headed into the trade deadline that came and went last week. Jackson is expected to void the final year of his contract — worth $7 million — and explore the market. That may not be such a good idea, considering that he really has not done anything this season to merit excitement in free agency. He also turns 30 in the off-season, which is ancient in running back years. Jackson has yet to crack 80 rushing yards in a game this season and is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry.
The allure to Jackson in the preseason was that he was one of the few workhorse RBs left in the NFL. Not any more. SJAX has lost valuable carries to rookie Daryl Richardson. The shift to the younger player could be even more pronounced now after the Rams’ Week 9 bye. Worse, the Rams take on the 49ers this week. The 49ers’ defense ranks #1 in points allowed to fantasy RBs. Our best advice is to leave him on the bench.
The Reality: Jackson had by far his biggest day of the year. The amazing thing is how involved he was in the offensive game plan: 31 total touches. He ran hard against the stout 49er defense, and finished with 127 total yards and a TD.
Sidney Rice (Sit)
The Prophecy:Sidney Rice has scored TDs in 3 of the last 4 weeks and has elevated himself to a WR3 option. The problem with planning to play him this week is that the Jets rank #3 in our Pass Defense Power Rankings and #1 in fantasy points allowed to fantasy WRs. Don’t plug him in and play him against the Jets who’ve grounded nearly all WRs to date.
The Reality: OK, Rice (who is unowned in the vast majority of fantasy leagues) only caught 2 passes in the Seahawks win over the Jets on Sunday. But both receptions were huge, as they amounted to 54 yards and 2 TDs.
Jeremy Maclin (Sit)
The Prophecy:After struggling with injuries in weeks 2-5, Maclin finally showed up against the Lions in week 6. However, he has been almost MIA since then with 8 catches for 61 yards. Adding insult, the Cowboys rank #4 in our Pass Defense Power Rankings, #3 in receiving TDs allowed, and #6 against fantasy WRs. With Michael Vick struggling and missing his top 3 OTs with season ending injuries, Maclin is not a good bet.
The Reality: Maybe he was not a good bet, but he turned out to be a great start in fantasy. He caught 8 passes for 93 yards and a TD.
Vernon Davis (Start)
The Prophecy: A bye week is a good time for a coach to reflect on his team and determine where they can improve. Where the 49ers can improve is to find a pass catching target to complement Crabtree. That should be Vernon Davis who started the year on fire and is now ice cold. Davis has had 3 or less catches and less than 38 yards in 3 of his last 4 games. We expect him to be more relevant in the pasing game this week and moving forward, so get Davis back in your lineup.
The Reality: Even with the benfit of an extra full quarter to play, Davis did very little. He caught just 4 passes for 30 yards.
Greg Olsen (Risk)
The Prophecy: With the Panthers enjoying more success on the ground, Olsen was held in check against Washington. This is disappointing as the Skins ranked 32nd in fantasy points allowed to TEs. This week Olsen has a shot at redemption against the Broncos 30th ranked D against fantasy TEs, but don’t put too many eggs in this basket. You see, Olsen has scored just once this season and will be just a borderline Fantasy option for Week 10 against Denver.
The Reality: Olsen was an absolute beast Sunday. He caught 9 of his 10 targets for 102 yards and a pair of TDs.
Connor Barth (Risk)
The Prophecy: While his team has been busy putting up a lot of points of late, the Chargers rank #1 in field goals allowed and #2 in fantasy points allowed to fantasy Kickers. Furthermore, being that Barth is only 13 for 17 in field goals on the year, he’s a shaky play.
The Reality: Kickers are always so hard to predict, which is why we always suggest waiting until the last round to draft one. Barth kicked 2 field goals and 4 extra points against the Chargers on Sunday. The Bucs’ offense has been highly productive the last several weeks, and Barth has been a major benefactor.
Chicago Bears Defense (Risk)
The Prophecy:Da Bears have that Monsters of the Midway defense that ranks 1st in the NFL with 28 takeways through 9 games. That’s more than 3 a game. They also rank 2nd in sacks per game. Therefore, you might wonder why we have them on this list. Well, the Texans rank 2nd in the NFL in fewest sacks allowed and have turned the ball over only 6 times.
The Reality:Yea, well. We obviously tried to get too cute here. If you have the Bears D, start them EVERY week.
Every week, we post our Fantasy Heroes from the previous weekend’s games. Today I am feeling a bit ornery and would like to post a list of some of the biggest Fantasy Villains — or guys who horribly under-performed — from this past weekend.
Let’s start with a couple of quarterbacks.
Andy Dalton. Yes, we knew that he had an unfavorable match-up against the Steelers, who had a few extra days to prepare and were sure to be in a foul mood after last Thursday’s loss to the Titans. However, we did NOT expect Dalton to pass for a mere 105 yards! Dalton is becoming less and less trustworthy as a fantasy QB.
Matt Hasselbeck. Yes, he threw the game winning TD pass. Yes, he avoided the big mistakes. Yes, he engineered an offense that managed to score 35 points against the hapless Bills’ defense. Still, from a fantasy perspective, he was not especially effective. With so many key players on a bye in Week 7 (Ryan, Rivers, Peyton…) many fantasy owners plugged Hass in Sunday expecting a Sleeper-like performance— and instead got the typical 205 yards and 1 TD pass that was merely ho-hum.
(Dis)Honorable Mention: Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger.
Now, the running backs.
Trent Richardson. The burning question all week long was whether or not Richardson would be able to suit up and play with injured ribs. By Friday it was pretty clear that he was going to play possibly with a protective jacket and that he may split carries with Montario Hardesty. I was not too worried about the shared backfield; after all, the opponent was the lowly Colts who had just allowed Shonn Greene to rush for 160 yards the week before. Also, I thought once Richardson got on the field, the adrenaline would get him through the pain. Well, Richardson managed just 20 total yards (only 8 rushing) — and was on the shelf by half time. Hardesty did little better (28 yards) subbing for him.
David Wilson. With Ahmad Bradshaw nursing a foot injury and Andre Brown less than 100%, many fantasy owners took a flier on Wilson last week as a bye-week fill-in. Wilson managed to touch the ball 4 times — all as a kick returner. He did not get a single carry or record a single reception on offense.
William Powell. Arizona has had a real problem with keeping their RBs healthy, and Powell has been no exception. However, on Sunday against a pretty decent Viking run defense, LaRod Stephens-Howling actually posted some quality numbers. Meanwhile, Powell (projected by many to be the better fantasy option) racked up just 18 yards in total offense.
Felix Jones. He was one of the hottest acquisitions off the waiver wire last week, given the injury to DeMarco Murray and the quality match-up against the Panthers. Jones was not terrible (74 total yards), but he was not the stud fill-in that many fantasy owners clamored for when they blew a sizable portion of their bid dollars to acquire him.
(Dis)Honorable Mention: Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew
Plenty of chaff among the WRs.
Brandon Lloyd: I was down a bit on Lloyd last week, and we even listed him as a “Sit” in our weekly Sit or Start column. But we certainly expected more than 1 catch for a mere 6 yards!
Justin Blackmon. I have to admit that I went into last week with the feeling that this just may be THE week for Blackmon to have something resembling a breakout performance. The Jags were coming off a bye, and they were facing an Oakland defense that had been very kind to fantasy WRs. Blackmon rewarded my faith in him with a single reception of just 7 yards. I know Gabbert got hurt early in the game, but still…
Dez Bryant. Speaking of breakout performances, that is exactly what Bryant had in Week 6, when he caught 13 passes, two of them for TDs. Too bad he could not follow that up with another stellar performance. The entire Dallas offense looked out of sorts against the Panthers on Sunday, and Bryant managed just 2 harmless receptions for 14 yards.
Larry Fitzgerald. Early on, it looked like Fitz was going to have a career game against his hometown team in Minnesota, as he caught 3 passes early on. However, Skelton inexplicably quit looking his direction, and he ended the game with just one more reception. The total was 4 receptions for just 29 yards. Not good.
(Dis)Honorable Mention: Kenny Britt, Torrey Smith, Mike Wallace
Not a great week for tight ends.
Vernon Davis. If you started Vernon Davis (which you probably did if he is on your roster), he rewarded you with a big, fat goose egg.
Fred Davis. He managed just one catch for 13 yards before leaving the game (and the rest of the season) with a knee injury. Chris Cooley anyone?
(Dis)Honorable Mention: Scott Chandler, Jermaine Gresham, Jermichael Finley, Greg Olsen, Dennis Pitta
Should I even mention kickers?
Jay Feely. Last week Feely made good on a 61-yard filed goal late in the game to tie the game and eventually force overtime against Buffalo. On Sunday against the Vikings he failed to kick a single field goal, missing the only one he attempted. He made good on two extra points, which is not exactly pay-dirt in terms of fantasy.
(Dis)Honorable Mention: Blair Walsh
As we head into Week 3 in the NFL, allow me a few moments to look back and vent a little about Week 2.
Antonio Gates? The Chargers told us all that he was going to be healthy enough to start — and he wound up not getting on the field at all! Liars!
One thing that stands out to me is the under-performance of so many key fantasy studs.
For example, here were the top 10 fantasy QBs (using traditional scoring) last week:
1. Robert Griffin III
2. Eli Manning
3. Cam Newton
4. Sam Bradford
5. Andy Dalton
6. Philip Rivers
7. Michael Vick
8. Brandon Weeden
9. Ryan Tannehill
10. Andrew Luck
That is really an amazing list when you look at it. There is no Aaron Rodgers, no Tom Brady, no Matt Stafford — all of whom were first round picks in many fantasy leagues. Instead, four rookies made the list — two of whom (Tannehill and Weeden) are unowned in the vast majority of fantasy leagues.
The poor performance from Rodgers is especially troubling. Last season he was a perfect 15 for 15 (remember, he sat out the season finale in which Matt Flynn exploded) using our modest Quality Fantasy Start formula: a combination of 300 all-purpose yards and/or multiple TDs for a QB. Last Thursday’s stinker against Chicago, a team he has historically posted good numbers against, was most certainly NOT a Quality Start. Of course, Rodgers did not get much help from his receivers, especially James Jones who dropped a TD pass and ran a bad route resulting in an interception.
The RBs proved to be an interesting bunch too:
1. Reggie Bush
2. C.J. Spiller
3. Trent Richardson
4. Willis McGahee
5. Ben Tate
6. Arian Foster
7. Jackie Battle
8. Marshawn Lynch
9. Andre Brown
10. Frank Gore
Three guys on the list — McGahee, Lynch and Spiller — are all former first round picks of the Buffalo Bills. In one of my leagues, I lost to a guy who “foolishly” loaded up on WRs and TEs early in his draft — but seriously neglected the RB position. The only RB of note he had was Fred Jackson, who of course went down with the knee injury last week. Fortunately, for this foe of mine — and unfortunately for me — he had the good sense to snatch up Spiller as a handcuff to FJax.
I have to admit that I was not especially high on Spiller heading into the season, as I was sure that the team would center the offense around Jackson. Through two games, Spiller is averaging over 10 yards per carry. And that is with a decent number of carries, so the average is not skewed by a single run or two. The last RB to rush for such a high YPC was the great Jim Brown — 50 years ago!
The Giants’ RB situation is puzzling. If you started Bradshaw (as I did in one of my leagues), you were expecting a good performance against the Bucs. The fact that Andre Brown rushed for close to 100 yards and a TD helps to validate that expectation; too bad Bradshaw went down so early in the game! The Bradshaw injury does not sound serious, but given that the next game is a Thursday night one, we have to expect that the Giants will err on the side of caution and sit him this week. With Brown having played so well, wonder where that leaves rookie David Wilson, who looked so good in the preseason?
1. Hakeem Nicks
2. Victor Cruz
3. Dwayne Bowe
4. Danny Amendola
5. Vincent Jackson
6. Roddy White
7. Demaryius Thomas
8. Mike Wallace
9. Reggie Wayne
10. Brandon Tate
Megatron, woher bist du? By this point last year Calvin Johnson already had 4 TDs. So far this year? Exactly the same number that my toothless puppy George has.
Instead, we have two Giants receivers at 1a and 1b, which is no great surprise given that Eli passed for 510 yards against the Bucs — much of that in the 4th quarter. However, Nicks hobbled off the field after his last catch, clutching his mending foot. Might that be a burden for him all season? And, again, the Giants do not have a lot of time to rest him in time for Thursday night’s game.
Speaking of Thursday night games… I am beginning to hate these Thursday night games. In messes with us from a fantasy perspective. Wonder if Greg Jennings would have been healthy enough to play a Sunday game, rather than being a Thursday night scratch last week? These games also introduce marital strife within the Lackner household:
Mrs. Lackner: “So what are we watching tonight?”
Mrs. Lackner: “What?!? You mean I have to put up with it all day Sunday, Monday night and now Thursday night too?!?”
Me: “Yep. I got Aaron Rodgers going tonight against the Bears”.
You can imagine what happened next.
With the deadline approaching for teams to slap the Franchise Tag on the player of their choice, things could get very interesting this weekend.
First, a look at the players who have already been tagged:
S Tyvon Branch - OAK
CB Trent Grimes - ATL
WR DeSean Jackson - PHI
RB Ray Rice - BAL
S Dashon Goldson – SF
DE Calais Campbell – ARI
K Mike Nugent - CIN
TE Fred Davis - WAS
Here’s a quick run-down on some of the soon-to-be free agents who could get tagged should their respective clubs not reach a long term deal with them prior the March 5th (Monday) deadline.
CB Cortland Finnegan – TEN
QB Drew Brees – NO
RB Marshawn Lynch – SEA
WR Wes Welker – NE
RB Matt Forte – CHI
WR Stevie Johnson - BUF
WR Dwayne Bowe - KC
That is 8 who have already been tagged and 7 more who most likely will, which brings the total up to 15. Some insiders believe that as many as 19 teams will use the franchise tag. Like I said, it should be an interesting weekend.