While week 9 in fantasy football was a scoring explosion compared to past weeks, week 10 for fantasy football was one known more for who was carted off the field than its performances on it. RG3 and Aaron Rodgers had the entire week off while Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, Alex Smith and Jay Cutler took half days for health reasons, three concussions and one shoulder separation. These injuries will impact week 11 and potentially the fantasy playoffs, especially in the case of Vick and Big Ben. This new weekly column will address the relevant activity and it’s impact in every game on the weekend’s calendar for week 10 in the NFL so let’s get right to it.
Colts 27, Jaguars 10
In this game the lack of stats tells us more than the productive ones. Vic Ballard and Donald Brown both had disappointing yardage totals and no TD’s but the split carries is the story here. The wide receiver position is where we see reasons to be optimistic if not outright bullish. For Jacksonville, Michael Spurlock was productive with minimal targets while both Cecil Shorts III and Laurent Robinson were productive and more importantly, targeted significantly. All good signs for teams slogging through a 2-QB league with Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne or for owners that took a shot on Cecil Shorts III or Laurent Robinson. For Indianapolis, T.Y. Hilton’s emergence looks to be a bit premature with Donnie Avery being the #2 guy in this offense behind Reggie Wayne and even Avery only got 6 targets.
Bengals 31, Giants 13
Disappointing once again for Eli Manning and his “tired” arm. TD’s are king in fantasy football and that anoints Andy Dalton into royalty in week 10 with four scores with only seven weeks to go. Hakeem Nicks seems to be back and productive while Andre Brown and Ahmed Bradshaw both ran well in limited carries. The big fantasy story for the Giants is TE Michael Bennett and RB Andre Brown being targeted significantly in the passing game as well as news that Ahmed Bradshaw is battling an injury going into week 11.
Titans 37, Dolphins 3
Ryan Tannehill took a step back this week with three INT’s while Chris Johnson took another step closer to solidifying himself as the stud RB he once was and people thought he might never be again. Brian Hartline stepped up big as well in a pathetic overall offensive effort by Miami.
Vikings, 34 Lions 24
There were big fantasy stats in a losing effort for Matthew Stafford and the revitalized Megatron. Adrian Peterson once again shows that he is a beast no matter what else is going on in Minnesota. Concerning Mikel Leshoure, you better hope he gets some goal line carries because he doesn’t do much else well. A monster day for AP. The story here that matters most is when Percy Harvin sits, Kyle Rudolph matters and when Harvin plays, Rudolph seems to disappear. This is one to watch more closely in coming weeks.
Patriots 37, Bills 31
The big story here is that YES, the Patriots pass defense is THIS bad. They are second worst defense in the NFL on 3rd down ahead of only… yes that’s right…BUFFALO. Start every wide receiver you can find when facing the Patriots. Can Talib turn things around?? Seems unlikely. Mount up WR’s. Spiller owners should be excited with the news that Fred Jackson will miss week 11 if not more.
Saints 31, Falcons 27
Matt Ryan may end up being the highest scoring QB in the NFL which means a lot of targets to go around and the player with the biggest upside for the remainder of the season on this team is Jacquizz Rodgers. His targets can go nowhere but up and with the Falcons essentially in the playoffs there is no reason not to continue to expand his role. From the Saints, Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram are gaining steam and may be becoming fantasy relevant.
Buccaneers 34, Chargers 24
This Bucs offense is a juggernaut, second only to the Falcons in the NFC. Surprisingly, week 10 was not an explosive week for the Bucs versus a mediocre Chargers defense in what appeared to be a great match up. With San Diego, a lot of passing attempts to go around but nobody to bet heavy on to catch them consistently. Malcolm Floyd and Antonio Gates seem to be the safe bets but not enough consistent production for me to be excited.
Broncos 36, Panthers 14
It was a high scoring fantasy week for Carolina players that didn’t translate into a W for the Panthers who can probably be eliminated from the NFL discussion officially after losing to the Broncos. Denver players didn’t produce enough and didn’t score enough to make their fantasy owners happy. Willis McGahee seems to be a flex RB at this point and a mediocre one at that while Daniel Thomas looks to be elevating himself into the upper tier of WR’s with the help of Peyton Manning in Denver. MORE TOUCHDOWNS DENVER. WE NEED MORE SCORES. Carolina’s running game appears to be non-existent which bodes well for Cam Newton, Brandon LaFell, Steve Smith and Greg Olsen owners.
Ravens 55, Raiders 20
On the two podcasts that I host on the Leatherheads National Podcasting Network (The Monday Rundown at 7:00 P.M. EST on Mondays and The Leatherheads Fantasy Football Show at 9:00 P.M. EST on Wednesdays), I have time and time again made the point that Ray Rice is not getting enough touches and in a big win versus the lowly Oakland Raiders, we once again saw or better said, didn’t see Ray Rice toting the rock. In winning big, they didn’t need Rice but for one of the best all around RB’s and a top five fantasy draft pick in the game to only touch the ball 17 times, I wonder if this signals a transition from a trend to a fundamental offensive shift of focus by John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens. With more of the Raven’s offense highlighting the passing game, Joe Flacco’s role was expanding and we knew this coming into 2012, but to see the significant reduction of Ray Rice’s touches is beyond what anyone would have ever expected. As far as the Raiders go, Carson Palmer and the WR’s are becoming legitimate and must starts. With the Raiders likely to be behind in almost every second half the remainder of this season, there is no reason not to be upset if you own Darren McFadden and you should be elated if you own Denarius Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey or tight end Brandon Myers who all have been consistently targeted on this hot fantasy run by the Raiders offense.
Seahwaks 28, NY Jets 7
The Jets don’t have much fantasy relevance unless Tim Tebow can somehow tear the starting QB job from the cold, dead hand of Rex Ryan. Shonn Greene appears to have the RB carries almost completely too himself but the production from those carries is miserable. Jeremy Kerley is getting some targets and he has some big play ability, but how do you make big plays when your QB can’t throw the ball well enough to get it to you? As for Seattle, it is all about Marshawn Lnynch. If Lynch can manage to survive the season, he is going to be one of the hardest worked RB’s in the game–if not the history of it. Only Arian Foster has more carries this season and may pass him by season’s end. Ride Lynch to the ground and ignore the horrible Jets all together. Oh, and maybe you may want to claim Golden Tate because he throws the ball better than Russell Wilson.
Cowboys 38, Eagles 23
In a game that saved the Cowboys season and officially ended the Eagles one, we saw what many fans were hoping for and what most fantasy owners dreaded, Nick Foles in and Michael Vick out. An offensive line that singlehandedly can be blamed for the abysmal Eagles season in this fantasy expert’s opinion, finally got Michael Vick knocked out and it could be awhile before we see Vick play again–and it may be with another team next season. Nick Foles made one play, a 44-yard TD on a broken coverage, while Tony Romo, who didn’t sparkle, did make a few highlight reel plays and was able to get it done for the Cowboys. Felix Jones seems to be finding his groove and Jason Witten is officially the only true, reliable player to catch Romo passes. For the Eagles, Jeremy Maclin was targeted over and over, which is normally a good thing, but for me its a mirage. This offense can’t overcome an offensive line that leaks like a swiss cheese built boat and refuses, not unlike the Ravens, to get its superstar RB the ball. If your thin then Maclin seems to be a consistent play, but I rank him as a WR3 at best. I would downgrade him from there with Foles at the helm.
Rams 24, 49ers 24
In a rare tie in the NFL, this was a game where an injury was possibly the best thing that could happen to a struggling fantasy owner. Alex Smith looks to be sidelined due to a concussion which opens the door for the fleet afoot Colin Kaepernick. The issue here is that the 49ers have a tough matchup versus the Bears in week 11 (a team who also lost their starting QB in week 10) and this may be the only week Alex Smith misses. So the one week where a fantasy team owner that picked Kaepernick has a chance to start him, it may be better to sit him due to the matchup and then lose the upside to a returning Alex Smith. I can’t even recommend holding on to Kaepernick even if you have the roster space because it seems unlikely he gets any playing time. He is an intriguing guy if you are desperate. As for the Rams, Stephen Jackson had a big game versus one of the best run defenses in football and that may give some breathing room to Jackson owners who can feel the footsteps of Daryl Richardson right behind them. Danny Amendola came back from a life threatening injury to have a big game and it looks like he is a reliable WR3 if not even a WR2 in the right matchups. Oh, and if you are truly desperate make a claim on Rams punter Johnny Hekker who was 2-2 for 40 yards passing. Who knows how often he throws the ball but he is still a better play than Mark Sanchez so keep that in mind.
Texans 13, Bears 6
The biggest story of this game was defense. Both that Chicago’s didn’t score and that it suffocated scoring with the exception of Arian Foster and Brandon Marshall who both hit the century mark. From an NFL matchup perspective, this was the game of the week. From a fantasy perspective, it was almost entirely irrelevant. The Bears lost Jay Cutler before halftime to a concussion and Jason Campbell will have to lead the Bears in week 11 vs San Francisco. A tough loss for the Niners both in week 10 and week 11.
Steelers 16, Chiefs 13
Perhaps, the biggest fantasy story in week 10 was all the injuries with the Steelers potentially losing Big Ben Roethlisberger for the season as possibly the biggest one. The Steelers continue to mess with fantasy ballers heads by playing musical carries. Is it Rashard Mendenhall? Is it Jonathan Dwyer? Is it Isaac Redman? Week 10 predictors say Dwyer, but with Mendenhall coming back the picture remains muddled.
Time for Week 11!!!