August 24, 2017

All Out Blitz

Arizona Cardinals: QB Kevin Kolb returned last week and the Cardinals won, but Kolb still didn’t play all that well. He was constantly throwing passes into the ground…..RB Beanie Wells is battling knee, thumb and hamstring injuries which has limited his practice time this week, but he still should play versus the 49ers on Sunday.

Atlanta Falcons: QB Matt Ryan has just not been able to take that next step this season. For the Falcons to advance deep into the playoffs, they will need him to do so or they will have no chance of beating the Packers or Saints…..RB Michael Turner is dealing with a groin injury that certainly seemed to slow him down last week, but the Texans’ defense may also have had something to do with his performance. This week he gets the Panthers, a much better matchup.

Baltimore Ravens: Some consider the Ravens to be the best team in the AFC, but I’m just not feeling it. I’m not sure I trust QB Joe Flacco to raise his game to an elite level when it matters. Even though the Ravens beat the Steelers twice, I still think the Steelers may be the best overall team…..LB Ray Lewis still isn’t practicing due to turf toe and is unlikely to play once again on Sunday.

Buffalo Bills: The injuries just keep coming for Buffalo as TE Scott Chandler won’t play this week due to an ankle injury and K Rian Lindell was officially placed on IR, ending his season…..LB Nick Barnett has had a very good first season for the Bills, already racking up 97 tackles. He would seem to be a must play in IDP leagues.

Carolina Panthers: WR Steve Smith’s production has been down of late even though the Panthers running game has picked up. Smith could certainly use some help to take the defense’s attention off of him. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to give QB Cam Newton another target to throw to, not to mention Smith is getting up there in age and could see a drop off in his numbers at any time.

Chicago Bears: Things just keep getting worse and worse for the Bears. First they lose QB Jay Cutler with a thumb injury, now they may have lost RB Matt Forte with a knee injury…..What makes the Forte injury even more interesting is that this is the last year of his contract as he and the Bears have been at odds all season long on an extension. It would seem business wise that it would be a good decision for Forte not to rush himself back, making sure he’s 100% healthy next season.

Cincinnati Bengals: It seems the sand may be running out in the hourglass for the Bengals as they were wrecked last week by Pittsburgh. They’re going to be a good team, but they still need time…..RB Cedric Benson is dealing with a foot injury that caused him to miss practice Thursday. He could still play though as he missed practice last Thursday as well.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns are going to have to make a decision this off-season. Do they believe in QB Colt McCoy, or do they draft a QB in the first round of April’s draft? They should have a top ten pick and could select one of the more highly rated quarterbacks that will be available. Of course they still need WRs and may need a RB also if Peyton Hillis leaves. Yeah, they don’t have many playmakers on this team.

Dallas Cowboys: Head coach Jason Garrett has been lit up this week for “icing” his own kicker. That isn’t actually what happened. You can clearly see special teams coach Joe DeCamillis and kicker coach Chris Boniol ask Garrett to call timeout…..What Garrett should be taking criticism for was not calling a timeout after WR Dez Bryant caught the pass at the Cardinals 32-yard line with 26 seconds left. Dallas had two TOs left and should have used one there so they could run a couple more plays to get in better FG range. It wasn’t like K Dan Bailey was having a great day. He missed a FG earlier in the game from 50+ and banked another one off the goalpost, not to mention the league percentage on 50+ yard FGs is 50.2. This is the reason why it’s extremely bewildering that Garrett keeps insisting that he didn’t make an error. Garrett has cost the Cowboys two games this season with conservative play calling (New England). If they miss the playoffs, the blame should fall squarely on him…..The good news is that WR Miles Austin should return this week as should FB Tony Fiammetta.

Denver Broncos: It is hard not to be a believer in QB Tim Tebow after last week’s performance. I know it came against a terrible secondary in Minnesota, but still this was the first game that Tebow had to win with his arm and not his legs…..The Broncos have to be considered the favorite to win the AFC West. Scary I know, but I still think they are one-and-done as they will most likely play Pittsburgh or Baltimore in the 1st round.

Detroit Lions: Head coach Jim Schwartz has done a great job of turning around the Lions, but he needs to get control of his team. They make way too many personal foul penalties and are playing way out of control which may be costing them games as well as yardage…..RB Kevin Smith is still being hampered by an ankle injury and is having a difficult time finishing games. He also hasn’t practiced this week which could lead to RB Maurice Morris having a bigger role this week.

Green Bay Packers: That’s 18 straight wins now for the Packers if you count the playoffs. The only team that I believe can beat them would be the Saints in a shootout. It might just come down to which team had the ball last or who had to kick a FG instead of a TD in a cold weather playoff game in Green Bay that hindered the passing attack (think Brett Favre versus the Giants when the G-Men last won the Super Bowl – it was close to zero degrees that night).

Houston Texans: The Texans just keep finding ways to win even without their best players. WR Andre Johnson’s return to the lineup was short-lived as his hamstring acted up once again and he had to leave the game last week. He has already been labeled as out for this week’s game. The Texans may want to keep him out multiple weeks to get him as healthy as they possibly can for the playoffs…..Another player who is really banged up is LB Brian Cushing who is dealing with injuries to various parts of his body. He’s not going to miss any game time, but certainly won’t be anywhere near full strength either.

Indianapolis Colts: I know the final numbers for QB Dan Orlovsky looked good, but keep in mind a good percentage of those numbers came when the game was out of hand and basically over…..The Colts have finally admitted that it is unlikely QB Peyton Manning returns this season. It seems we have known that for months, yet they still haven’t placed him on IR. It should be very interesting in early March when Manning is due a $28 million bonus. It will be decision time!

Jacksonville Jaguars: It is hard to believe that RB Maurice Jones-Drew leads the league in rushing on a team with virtually no passing game. QB Blaine Gabbert had what may be his best game of the season Monday night versus the Chargers yet was only 19 of 33 for 195 yards and two scores. That is hardly lighting up the scoreboard, but every journey starts with a first step. Hopefully, that’s what this is for the Jaguars and Gabbert.

Kansas City Chiefs: So much for QB Kyle Orton. He comes in for one play, a flea flicker, gets hit and dislocates a finger on his throwing hand. Now he is questionable at best to play this week…..My first question would be if Orton was mentally prepared enough to come in the game in the first half, why didn’t he start? Were the Chiefs really thinking Tyler Palko was going to improve?

Miami Dolphins: RB Daniel Thomas has played better of late, but RB Reggie Bush has so far proven that he can be an every down back. He’s not posting out of this world numbers, but they are solid numbers week in and week out…..LB Kevin Burnett is starting to justify his contract of late as his play has really picked up the past couple of weeks…..The Dolphins are playing great and are certainly one of the hottest teams in the NFL, but this still may not be enough to save Tony Sparano’s head coaching job.

Minnesota Vikings: RB Adrian Peterson is questionable to play Sunday versus Detroit, but Peterson came out Friday and said he is still having a difficult time cutting on that ankle. Assuming that’s true, I wouldn’t let Peterson play. He is your franchise player and you don’t need to be risking his health in a meaningless game…..WR Percy Harvin has picked up the offense with the absence of Peterson, showing why many people believe he is a threat to score anywhere on the field when he has his hands on the ball. He did however tear a ligament in his finger. He’ll play Sunday but could have a problem catching the ball.

New England Patriots: With the Patriots’ schedule for the remainder of the season, I still believe they end up with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs…..We’ve heard a lot of news this week concerning the health of WR Wes Welker as he is dealing with knee and wrist issues. He may be banged up, but it won’t keep him from any game action.

New Orleans Saints: You have to be rooting right now for a Saints-Packers NFC Championship game. If the weather was decent in Green Bay (big if), that could be a game for the ages. It would remind me of the Cowboys versus 49ers in the 90s…..RB Mark Ingram will miss this week’s game with turf toe. This guy just can’t stay healthy. What is even more annoying is that he comes off of two productive weeks where he was finally starting to show why the Saints drafted him so early.

New York Giants: You have to admire the bravado of S Antrel Rolle. After the Giants have lost four straight games, given up close to 80 points and 1,000 yards in the past two games, he still comes out and states the Giants have a great defense.  Yeah, not so much Antrel…..RB Ahmad Bradshaw returned last week. Although his numbers were not great, he should force defenses to respect the run again and not go all out to stop QB Eli Manning and the passing game…..The Giants seemed to have every call go against them last week, including a couple that maybe shouldn’t have. Even if that’s so, it just makes up for the Arizona game where a terrible call gave them the game.

New York Jets: I’m not a big Mark Sanchez fan, but you actually hear some of the talk shows in New York mention that the Jets should sign Peyton Manning (if he becomes available) in the off-season and trade Sanchez. It seems they forget that Sanchez is coming off back-to-back championship game appearances. He must have done something right and no one will know if Manning can truly come back from his neck surgery until he gets into a game, plus it’s not like he’s going to come cheap.

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders look like they are in the middle of a late season collapse. They barely showed up last week, getting crushed by Miami, and now they get the Packers. Sure they have injuries, maybe even more than most, but you still have to play the game…..Speaking of injuries, RB Darren MacFadden is out once again this week. This is longest day-to-day injury I’ve ever seen.

Philadelphia Eagles: QB Michael Vick and WR Jeremy Maclin are both expected to return this week. This should give the Eagles’ offense a boost, and it will certainly be interesting to see if Vick does play with more caution as he stated he will earlier this week…..How much money has WR DeSean Jackson cost himself with his play and attitude so far this season?  Jackson is still signed for another season, but the Eagles can’t go through this again. They either need to sign him to a long-term deal and make him happy or ship him to a team that will.

Pittsburgh Steelers: I wrote earlier in this column that Pittsburgh may be the best overall team in the AFC. Well that was before QB Ben Roethlisberger suffered a high ankle sprain in Thursday’s win over Cleveland. Ben probably won’t miss any game time as the Steelers don’t play again until a week from Monday, but Ben’s mobility will certainly be hampered…..Another concern for the Steelers is the health of C Maurkice Pouncey who also suffered a high ankle sprain in the same game.

San Diego Chargers: QB Philip Rivers looked real good Monday night. Granted it came against a Jaguars team that lacks a pass rush or a solid secondary, but it also shows what Rivers can do when all of his receivers are healthy…..Speaking of healthy, RB Ryan Mathews also looked good and could be a future star in San Diego…..I have a feeling the Chargers offense lights it up again this week against Buffalo, everyone else has of late.

San Francisco 49ers: Because of their record, the 49ers are listed as #2 in most power rankings. I just don’t see that and have a very strong feeling they are one-and-done in the playoffs. I think their record is more because of a terrible division and nice schedule. I love their defense, but in the playoffs you need to score points and I just don’t see QB Alex Smith being able to beat Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, their most probable playoff opponent.

Seattle Seahawks: You have to love the way RB Marshawn Lynch is playing of late. He’s actually making the Hawks offense somewhat interesting…..OT Russell Okung was placed on IR this week after tearing his pectoral muscle, a tough blow for Lynch and that running game…..QB Tarvaris Jackson reported this week that his arm strength is back to 100% after his pectoral injury earlier this year.

St. Louis Rams: As if the Rams offense isn’t bad enough, there is a pretty good chance that Tom Brandstater is going to start against Seattle on Monday Night Football. I’m sure ESPN is just thrilled with this game, not to mention RB Steven Jackson can’t be very happy with seeing what is sure to be an overloaded front to stop him…..WR Brandon Lloyd should probably be benched in fantasy leagues.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Here’s a stat I didn’t see coming–the Bucs have trailed for longer this season in term of minutes than any other team in the NFL, including the winless Colts…..QB Josh Freeman missed last week’s game with a shoulder injury. His replacement, Josh Johnson, suffered a dislocated shoulder on his non-throwing arm. Ouch! Now Freeman looks like he will start this week but how long he goes is anyone’s guess, not that it matters much right now.

Tennessee Titans: Tough game for the Titans this week as they host the Saints. I doubt the Titans would have a chance if this game were being played indoors, but in Tennessee in the elements and with RB Chris Johnson looking like he has returned to his normal self, stranger things have happened. Not to mention the Titans need the game much more than the Saints. Yeah, I’m not buying that either.

Washington Redskins: As if this wasn’t a dismal enough season for the Redskins, now they lose TE Fred Davis and OL Trent Williams for violating the league’s drug policy. Apparently they were supposed to be suspended for a year but were able to get it down to four games because of a technicality (the players thought there was a grace period after the lockout–like it’s even legal to do these drugs)…..Because of their dismal finish, the Skins should be in good shape to draft a franchise QB next year.

All Out Blitz

Arizona Cardinals: Adrian Wilson has a partial tear in his right bicep muscle that will limit what he can do this pre-season, and may even eliminate how many games he will play in during the regular season. Matt Ware is likely to take his place at SS…..As of now, it looks like Beanie Wells will be the primary ball carrier at the beginning of the season, but Ryan Williams is catching up fast.

Atlanta Falcons: The re-signing of Jason Snelling might have caught some off guard but you can never have too many backs. Jacquizz Rodgers still may touch the ball more than Snelling though. Rodgers will be the 3rd down back and the player who catches the ball out of the backfield; whereas Snelling would only play when Michael Turner needs a breather or if he were to get injured.

Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens let it be known this week that even with the signing of RB Ricky Williams, Ray Rice will still be the short yardage and goal-line back. That’s all fine and good, but I still have my doubts…..Losing WR Derrick Mason to the Jets has to hurt, as once again, the Ravens look a bit short in the receiver department.

Buffalo Bills: Looks like the Bills would trade WR Lee Evans if they could find the right deal. Problem is the receiver market has dried up and it may be too late to get the kind of value they are looking for (apparently the right price is a 4th round pick)…..Living on Long Island in Jets territory, the fans down here are not happy about the team not re-signing QB/KR/RB/WR Brad Smith and letting him go to a division rival. Smith sometimes gets a bad rap as just a return guy, but he can fill quite a few roles whether it be on special teams or on offense.

Carolina Panthers: Word is the Panthers are doing everything they can to get QB Cam Newton ready to start the 1st game of the season…..The Panthers did a great job in free agency this season, apparently signing everyone they wanted to, but still these are players that finished last season with one win.

Chicago Bears: Does it seem as strange to you as it does to me that WR Johnny Knox is not listed as a starter right now? He had a pretty good season last year and seems to have a good rapport with QB Jay Cutler. Seems even stranger that Devin Hester would be listed above him…..RB Matt Forte had initially stated that he wouldn’t play in any exhibition games as he wasn’t pleased with his contract, but he has softened on that stance.

Cincinnati Bengals: I know the Bengals just drafted QB Andy Dalton, but with the way this team is structured, would it surprise anyone if they ended up in the hunt for the first overall draft pick and QB Andrew Luck…..The Bengals are still receiving calls about the availability of QB Carson Palmer, but they are still being told that he won’t be traded.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns had hoped that RB Montario Hardesty would be 100% recovered from ACL surgery and could take some carries away from Peyton Hillis; thus allowing Hillis to be fresher as the year goes on. However, Hardesty has yet to practice and may not be able to take that much of a load off of Hillis, at least in the early part of the season…..With Hardesty having trouble with his knee once again, Brandon Jackson could be the backup to Hillis to begin the season.

Dallas Cowboys: Lots of rumors coming out of camp that Tashard Choice could find himself released. I fine that highly unlikely, but head coach Jason Garrett has never seemed to taken a shine to Choice…..One player to keep an eye on in camp is TE John Phillips. He was extremely impressive in camp last season before tearing his ACL. He has picked up right where he left off in camp this season and already seems to be ahead of Martellus Bennett.

Denver Broncos: Anyone listening to head coach John Fox after the Broncos pre-season game Thursday on how he thought QB Tim Tebow played? Knowing where Tebow is on the depth chart, he used the phrase “work in progress.” Kyle Orton will definitely start the season under center for the Broncos. That’s no guarantee he will finish there, but Tebow still needs a ton of work…..The bigger question is will Tebow be the 2nd or 3rd QB, as Brady Quinn could be the backup behind Orton.

Detroit Lions: Rookie RB Mikel Leshoure tore his Achilles on Monday and will miss the season. This would seem to be good news for Javhid Best fantasy owners as he looks to get the lion’s share of the carries. But the Lions don’t want to put to much on the second year player, especially after dealing with turf toe last year, so they have signed RBs Jerome Harrison and Mike Bell. Plus they still have Maurice Morris…..Leshoure’s injury is the second to hit the Detroit rookie class as DT Nick Fairley is also out after having surgery on his foot.

Green Bay Packers: LB Clay Matthews apparently played the last half of the 2010 season with a stress fracture in his lower leg. Imagine what he can do with two healthy wheels…..I know the Eagles made a bunch of high profile moves, but the Packers are still the best team in the NFC in my opinion…..RB James Starks has looked good in camp and put on some weight, he could be a serious threat to Ryan Grant’s playing time.

Houston Texans: WR Andre Roberts has recovered from his finger injury and looks to be completely healthy. If TE Owen Daniels plays as well this season as he did the end of last season, than the Texans offense could be tough to stop…..RB Arian Foster would like a new contract but owner Bob McNair has stated that he won’t get one off a single good season…..The Texans would like to trade RB Steve Slaton but Ben Tate continues to miss practice with a hamstring injury; thus the Texans have to hold onto Slaton.

Indianapolis Colts: TE Dallas Clark let it be known Thursday that he will have to wear a brace all season on his surgically repaired wrist. You have to wonder if this might affect him as the season goes on…..One of the new rules this season regarding game day rosters is that they have been expanded to 46 on game days. But there is no such thing as an emergency 3rd QB anymore. If you think you might need an emergency QB, than you have to activate him as part of your 46. Why do I bring this up? With the surgery to Peyton Manning’s neck this off-season, the Colts have already made it known that they will carry three QBs on game day.

Jacksonville Jaguars: LB Matt Roth stated earlier this week that he would sign with any team that offered him a $3 million deal. Well the Jags stepped up and gave him that contact. Roth has his issues, but he’s a solid LB in a 4-3 defense…..The Jags might need LB help after Clint Session suffered what is a probable concussion in the pre-season opener Thursday.

Kansas City Chiefs: TE Tony Moeaki is back practicing with the team. I still think he’s a sneaky play in fantasy leagues with defenses paying most of their attention to RB Jamaal Charles and WR Dwayne Bowe…..Speaking of Charles, you have to love coach Todd Haley who continues to play games with Charles’ head and fantasy owners draft picks by listing him 2nd on the depth chart…..For those of you wondering if Le’Ron McClain would take away any carries from Charles or Thomas Jones, hmmm, no.

Miami Dolphins: With all of the things that have gone on around WR Brandon Marshall, you have to wonder if the Dolphins are suffering from buyer’s remorse…..The Dolphins stated this week that RB Reggie Bush will not return punts this season. Why not? Shouldn’t your best playmakers be put in a position to do the most damage?…..LB Kevin Burnett will start with the 1st team defense Friday despite only having six practices with the Fish; shows you what the Dolphins think of him.

Minnesota Vikings:  Not sure how the Vikings could have let WR Sidney Rice leave via free agency when their starting wideout opposite Percy Harvin is Bernard Berrian…..Perhaps the lack of receiving talent is why the Vikings plan on getting RB Adrian Peterson more involved in the passing game…..Apparently one of the reasons the Vikings waived OT Bryant McKinnie was that his cholesterol was so high they were worried he wouldn’t be able to make it through practice.

New England Patriots: G Logan Mankins, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the NFL during the lockout, signed a new long term deal with the club…..TE Rob Gronkowski has looked unstoppable during camp and could be a highly sought after TE in fantasy drafts, but remember, Aaron Hernandez is still there, and he’s not so bad himself.

New Orleans Saints: WR Marques Colston still isn’t practicing much and it’s time to start wondering how healthy he will remain this season…..I like rookie RB Mark Ingram, but there are so many offensive players on this team that need to get their hands on the ball. It’s difficult to see Ingram having a huge season.

New York Giants: You have to wonder if the Giants would’ve made a stronger effort to sign WR Plaxico Burress had they known that Steve Smith would sign elsewhere. It has to hurt even more that he went to the division rival Eagles…..Mario Manningham however could be a sleeper in fantasy leagues as he is now the clear cut #2 option for QB Eli Manning.

New York Jets: Speaking of Burress, his ankle is still bothering him and is unlikely to play in the Jets first pre-season game. Missing the game is no big deal, but after not playing football for two seasons, he needs to get on the field and get in a rhythm with QB Mark Sanchez…..I know Jet fans are upset with the loss of WR Jericho Cotchery, but Derrick Mason would seem to be a nice solid upgrade.

Oakland Raiders: Memo to general manager Al Davis, signing TE Kevin Boss does not make up for losing Zach Miller…..Boss may not be the talent that Miller is, but he’s likely to have the best season of his career this year as QB Jason Campbell still doesn’t have a true number one receiver to throw to and may look for his big TE quite often.

Philadelphia Eagles: What is wrong with WR Jeremy Maclin? It doesn’t seem like the Eagles or Maclin have any idea. They both keep insisting that the illness won’t cause him to miss any regular season playing time, but I’m starting to have my doubts and you have to wonder if the signing of WR Steve Smith is an insurance policy against Maclin not being ready to go…..Word out of Eagles camp is that QB Vince Young is being outplayed for the backup job by Mike Kafka.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Jericho Cotchery, who signed with the Steelers this week, is slated to be their 5th receiver…..The Steelers biggest weakness could be along their offensive line which could force TE to stay in and block more often than he usually does…..WR Emmanuel Sanders has already recovered from foot surgery and should be back this week. He will once again be the teams #3 wideout.

San Diego Chargers: The Chargers are trying to send a message to RB Ryan Mathews by sitting him out of the pre-season opener. Apparently he’s not doing all that well in practice…..It’s looking more and more like Mike Tolbert will get his fair share of carries this season, and if Mathews doesn’t pick up his play, maybe even more than his fair share…..LT Marcus McNeil had foot surgery this week, but is expected back in the lineup before the regular season begins.

San Francisco 49ers: Anyone who saw the 49ers first pre-season game witnessed QB Alex Smith take a beating as the offensive line couldn’t block anyone…..WR Michael Crabtree is expected to be back on the practice field before the last pre-season game…..So far there are no takers for SS Taylor Mays and the 49ers are still trying to figure out how to use him.

Seattle Seahawks: If there is a true quarterback competition in Seattle, than after the first pre-season game, Charlie Whitehurst is well ahead of Tarvares Jackson…..OT Russell Okung had to be helped off the field with an ankle injury. This is the same injury that cost him six games last season. Not what the Hawks needed.

St. Louis Rams: WR Donnie Avery is still not practicing due to a hamstring injury and could be in danger of not making the team if he doesn’t get on the field…..Danny Amendola and Mike Sims-Walker would seem to be the Rams starters at WR.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Arrelious Benn seems unlikely to play this pre-season as he is still recovering from knee surgery. The best case scenario looks like a return for the regular season opener…..If you’re looking for a rookie to take in your IDP league, you may need to look no further than LB Mason Foster who should start the season for the recently departed Barrett Rudd…..RB Earnest Graham looks to be the favorite for the third down back.

Tennessee Titans: Due to the depth of the Tennessee secondary, Cortland Finnegan has spent the majority of his time at nickelback…..The Titans would like RB Chris Johnson to report to camp before they start talks on a new contract…..TE Jared Cook could be the teams 2nd receiving option outside of WR Kenny Britt.

Washington Redskins: TE Chris Cooley is likely to miss at least the next two weeks with a knee injury…..Tim Hightower had an impressive first preseason game for the Skins and could be the lead running back come Week One…..The injury to QB John Beck may give Rex Grossman a leg up on the QB competition, not that it really matters.