The Scoop

By Dalton Del Don

Despite getting 20 carries in a game just once this season, LeSean McCoy is on pace to finish with 1,809 total yards and 12 touchdowns thanks to his activity in the passing game. In fact, he’s on track to record a whopping 89 catches this year. McCoy has clearly established himself as Philadelphia’s franchise back for years to come, and while the Eagles skew toward the pass, it’s still a terrific situation to be in, especially with Michael Vick’s transformation, as the Eagles possess one of the best offenses in the league. McCoy is just 22 years old, so there’s even room for improvement. He’ll enter 2011 as a top-five fantasy running back…Michael Vick has more 300-yard passing games this season (three) than he had during his entire career beforehand (two)…The difference between the Eagles’ pass defense with Asante Samuel compared to without him is quite drastic…With 3:30 left in the fourth quarter down 34-24, Joe Theismann asked whether the Texans should consider it four down territory. Seriously. How can NFL Network possibly think this booth is a good idea?

Chad Henne was downright awful Sunday, throwing three interceptions and getting 5.4 YPA at home against the Browns. He completed just 50.0 percent of his passes and posted a 37.8 QB rating versus a middling Browns secondary that entered having allowed 19 TD passes over 11 games. Henne now has a 12:15 TD:INT ratio on the season, and his status as Miami’s franchise quarterback has come into question. He’s been picked off eight times over the past four games, and the money spent on Brandon Marshall has largely been wasted so far. According to Pro Football Focus, the Dolphins have been the best pass blocking team in football in 2010, making Henne’s poor play all that more discouraging…Sunday marked the first game Jake Delhomme didn’t commit a turnover since Week 10 in 2009…Ben Watson (my wife hates me because every time he’s mentioned I inevitably say “Mr. Randy Watson!”) gained 100 yards and scored a touchdown last week, catching 10 of his 11 targets, as Delhomme locked onto him. Delhomme will get another start in Week 14, so expect Watson to once again be heavily involved. Moreover, Cleveland faces a Buffalo defense that has allowed a league-high eight touchdowns to tight ends this season, as only Houston has allowed more fantasy points to TEs…Props to Cleveland for taking a knee and not trying to score a TD at the end of the game.

This movie looks rather bizarre.

James Starks made his NFL debut Sunday and immediately acted as Green Bay’s lead back, gaining 73 yards on 18 carries (the most by a Green Bay RB this season). Brandon Jackson received only four rushing attempts, so if this is a sign of things to come, Starks could be a difference maker in fantasy leagues from here on out. Green Bay is likely to institute a committee, but Starks is clearly the most talented member of the Packers’ backfield, and coach Mike McCarthy referred to him as an “every-down back.” Starks would have been drafted much higher if not for his injury history, and he’s got fresh legs at this stage of the year. While his workload is no sure thing, Starks is the Packers running back worth owning in fantasy leagues…Over the last three games, Greg Jennings has totaled 393 yards with five touchdowns, as no receiver is hotter in football. After averaging just 36.6 receiving yards over the season’s first five games, he’s topped 70 yards in every game since, and his 11 touchdowns rank third in the NFL. Jennings scored 21 times over 29 games from 2007-2008, so last year’s low TD total looks increasingly like an anomaly. There might not be a better fantasy WR start than Jennings at Detroit in Week 14…Jeff Reed’s legs are absolutely ridiculous. Bigger than some linemen without a doubt. My torso may be smaller. And I have a beer gut…Troy Smith is 3-2 as a starter this season, while Alex Smith is 1-6. So naturally, the team is switching back to the latter for Week 14.

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I fully expected a different outcome, but after they combined for 78 points during their first meeting, I was surprised to see the Broncos and Chiefs total 16 points Sunday. Funny, Kyle Orton has been one of the team’s lone bright spots all season, and on the day they have their best defensive performance and rushing attack, the QB has his worst game of the year…Josh McDaniels might be the worst personnel decision maker in NFL history, but he can coach up an offense. The team that buys low on him as their next OC will be happy. That said, what a coward for punting down four points on 4th and four with 2:23 left Sunday. That alone was a fireable offense…I’m a big Adrian Peterson fan, but the best running back in football is Jamaal Charles.

Sidney Rice hauled in five receptions for 105 yards and two scores Sunday, and his 31-yard TD catch was highlight worthy. He benefitted from playing a poor Buffalo defense and not having to battle Percy Harvin for targets, and his schedule gets much tougher over the next three games, but Rice looks like he’s back to full health. A strong option in the red zone as well as a terrific downfield threat, he should be worth using in fantasy leagues down the stretch…Pretty hard to evaluate Tavaris Jackson after that performance. The three interceptions (including a pick six) against the team that entered with the fewest picks in the NFL were pretty ugly, but he also got 8.5 YPA and tossed two touchdowns. I fear the Vikings less with Brett Favre at the helm…Fred Jackson loses some fantasy value with the return of C.J. Spiller, but Stevie Johnson should be started with confidence in Week 14.

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Earl Bennett led the Bears with seven catches for 104 yards Sunday, one week after scoring twice, so he’s quietly emerging as the team’s No. 1 option in the passing game. Johnny Knox is a superior downfield threat, but Jay Cutler is developing a nice rapport with his former college teammate. Mike Martz hasn’t produced the gaudy passing stats many expected in Chicago, but Bennett has become an option for owners in deep leagues…Surprising to see Jahvid Best rise from the dead and record both a run for 45 yards and also a catch for 32 yards. I’d still stay away until 2011, when I’ll be recommending him aggressively.

Chris Johnson ran for just 53 yards Sunday in a home game against a mediocre Jacksonville defense one week after being held to just five rushing yards in Houston. Johnson is on pace to finish with nearly 1,000 fewer yards from scrimmage this season compared to last, as his YPC has dropped from 5.6 to 4.3, and his activity as a receiver has dramatically declined. Johnson is still on pace to finish with 1,527 total yards and 12 touchdowns, and he’s a top-five start in Week 14 against the Colts, but fantasy owners have to feel a bit let down. Pro Football Focus ranks the Titans as the third worst run blocking unit in the NFL (with only the Steelers and Buccaneers worse), which is a big step back from last year and certainly a big part of the problem…Teams with Randy Moss this season are 4-8. Those same teams without him on their roster are 16-7…Over the last five games, Maurice Jones-Drew has totaled 803 yards and while his fantasy owners (and by that I mean myself) have panicked seeing Rashad Jennings score two touchdowns to open both games, it really is hard to complain. MJD is peaking at the right time, and over the next three weeks, he faces run defenses (Oak, @Ind, Was) that all rank in the bottom 10 in fantasy points allowed versus running backs this season.

I always suspected DeLino DeShields was up to no good.

Mario Manningham managed just two catches for 36 yards last week despite a plus matchup at home against the Redskins, who are severely depleted in their secondary. He hasn’t had more than three receptions or topped 65 yards receiving in any of the past three games, so he hasn’t exactly taken advantage of being the Giants’ No. 1 wide receiver. With Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks both due back soon, Manningham’s role is going to be diminished. His fantasy value is fleeting…I wouldn’t start either, but I trust James Davis more than Keiland Williams at this point.

Cedric Benson has scored more touchdowns and recorded more receptions and receiving yards in one fewer game compared to last season, but his YPC has dropped from 4.2 to 3.5, and he’s lost four more fumbles in 2010, meaning he’s been one of the least valuable running backs in football. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, teammate Brian Leonard, who has played 175 snaps compared to 492 by Benson, has been more valuable thanks to his superior blocking…Chris Ivory has five touchdowns over the past three games, but with zero action in the passing game and averaging 15.0 carries over that span, he’s a risky play in the fantasy playoffs….The Cincy offsides penalty Sunday was the single dumbest play of the 2010 season, without question.

This guy is almost certainly not sane.

I’m beginning to think San Diego is the type of team that doesn’t live up to its potential…I’m also willing to admit Ryan Mathews might have been drafted too high this year. In all seriousness, Mathews will likely be a pretty good target in 2011 drafts…With Legedu Naanee proving me wrong last week and again succumbing to injury, Seyi Ajirotutu is a viable option in deep leagues…Maybe Nnamdi Asomugha is healthier than anticipated.

LeGarrette Blount ran for 103 yards and a touchdown against Atlanta, which was especially noteworthy since the Falcons have allowed the second fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. Blount has just two catches on the year, and there are rumblings he may lose his role as the team’s short-yardage back, but he’s averaged 18.9 rushing attempts over the past six contests, so he’s clearly emerged as Tampa Bay’s featured runner. Over the next three weeks, the Bucs face the Redskins, Lions and Seahawks – three teams that rank in the bottom-eight in fantasy points allowed to running backs, so Blount could be a huge difference maker during fantasy crunch time…The season-ending loss of Aqib Talib was brutal, but the loss of Jeff Faine, who was horrible in pass protection, wasn’t nearly as impactful.

Seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

Mike Goodson scored for the second straight week Sunday, but he finished with just three touches and later left with an injury to his shoulder. Jonathan Stewart, meanwhile, ended up with 22 touches and has taken control of Carolina’s backfield. Goodson is now only a handcuff for fantasy purposes and can’t be trusted in Week 14 against a Falcons defense that has been stingy against the run…What a ridiculously unpredictable game by Marshawn Lynch…What a tackle by punter Jason Baker.

In Yahoo Friends & Family and my home league, I needed to either win OR have an opponent lose to get a Week 14 bye. Went 0-4 in those scenarios. FML.

After fumbling a simple handoff in Week 11, a problem he’s had throughout his brief career, Chris Wells blew a blitz pickup Sunday, which led to his playing time once again being reduced. He received just three carries, giving him a total of 18 touches over the past four games. His YPC is down to 3.6 on the year, as the sophomore back continues to disappoint. Wells has talent, and he’s tempting to use in Week 14 at home against a Denver defense that has allowed the second most fantasy points to running backs this season, but he’s in a timeshare and has the disadvantage of playing on a team with the worst quarterback situation in the league…Chris Long’s 47 QB pressures are the most in the NFL.

Dez Bryant was lost for the season with a broken fibula, and after totaling just four catches for 22 yards over the final three games, his year ended on a low note. It was still an encouraging rookie campaign to be sure, and he’ll likely cost a relatively high draft pick next year. Miles Austin and Roy Williams should see a bump in value as a result of Bryant’s injury…Seriously, what’s the deal with Peyton Manning?

After catching just one ball for 13 yards in Week 12, Hines Ward has been held to fewer than 30 yards receiving in five of his past six games. He’s averaging just 43.6 yards per game this season, his lowest mark since 2000. At age 34, Ward is entering the decline phase, and he’s quickly become an unreliable option in fantasy leagues…What a physical game that was Sunday night. Love the Ravens/Steelers rivalry.

Tom Brady has posted a 15:0 TD:INT ratio over the past five games, as no player in football is hotter (he’s also playing well). Over the previous four contests, he’s completed a remarkable 73.4 percent of his passes while getting 9.7 YPA. With a 27:4 TD:INT ratio and a 109.5 QB rating, Brady is right in the middle of the MVP race. His numbers are especially impressive when you consider the lackluster weapons on offense he has to work with…I decided to make the Jets my “best bet” for Week 14, as I fully expect them to rebound in a big way after getting so embarrassed Monday night.

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2 Responses to “The Scoop”

  1. Dreamweapon says:

    Ok, so, playoff time is upon us, time for me to go second-guessing what got me there in the first place. In my home league (4 of 14 go), snagged the #1 overall seed @ 11-2 and am facing a much weaker 8-5 #4 over a two-week semi-final. I should smoke him regardless, but just in case, would you go ahead and roll with the featherweight Denver D/ST @ John Skelton & Co., or use the stalwart Philly D/ST in an iffy Sunday night game @ Dallas?

    I should add that ditching Philly last week for the Rams D against the self-same Cards snagged me a W last week in the season finale against the second-strongest team, and that’s the only reason I’m facing a relative pushover instead of a strong #3. Still, Denver makes the Lambs look like the ’85 Bears, this may be a bridge too far. OTOH, it’s John fucking Skelton…. Perhaps you can sympathize with my conundrum.

  2. RotoScoop says:

    It’s def. not a an easy call. Especially since Samuel is iffy. I think I’d go with Denver, actually. I worry Zona goes ultra conservative, and I also wouldn’t be shocked if they win that game, but I still lean toward the Broncos.

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