News & Notes for Every Team (Week 7)
Jeff Haseley catches us up with what’s going on around the league for each NFL team.
FootballGuys has been gracious enough to share a weekly article with our users for free. For additional FootballGuys insight, you can visit FootballGuys.com
Carson Palmer (shoulder/neck) returned to the lineup with a decent outing, producing quality fantasy points for those who took a flier on him last week – perhaps to replace Drew Brees (bye). Even though he found some success, there was a somewhat noticeable difference in his throwns, especially the longer ones. Perhaps they didn’t have the same zip as they did prior to the injury? The more he continues to heal the better off he’ll be. A crucial piece of news was that Palmer didn’t have any negative feedback on Monday after throwing 44 passes in the game. He should be fine going forward, which is also good news for Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown.
I touched on Roddy White‘s lack of production last week and now believe we should pump the brakes on him for the time being. Some believe he will rebound once Harry Douglas returns to the lineup, others say he’s not the same receiver he used to be. I know this – this year his reception percentage (recs / targets) is a paltry 48.7%. That’s not like White at all to have such a low rec%. For his career he has a 56.8% reception percentage. Last week he took a viscious hit on the shoulder’helmet in the first half that may have affected his play for the rest of the game. Atlanta doesn’t have a great match up at Baltimore this week, so you might want to bench White until he returns to form. If he does.
Justin Forsett has blossomed into one of the league’s bigger surprises this year. Those fortunate enough to acquire him via waivers this year are reaping the benefits. Forsett is averaging 6.4 YPC in 64 carries. He has double-digit carries in four of the Ravens six games with 23 receptions on 27 targets. Throw in his three touchdowns and that makes him a Top 10 running back in PPR format. Torrey Smith has scored in two of the last three games, but his sub-50% reception percentage is not helping him out. He is moving into flex option territory at WR48 in PPR leagues, but in my mind, he is too inconsistent to rely on. Last week Joe Flacco exploited a weakness in the Buccaneers secondary that happened benefit Torrey Smith. That won’t be the case every week.
Buffalo is on a roll and Fred Jackson is winning the battle against Father Time. Jackson is clearly the back to own over C.J. Spiller and it doesn’t appear to be close. Spiller is a very talented back who will likely reach pay dirt during free agency this off season, but for now, it’s Jackson leading the Bills. Let this sink in for a minute – Sammy Watkins is a heavily targeted receiver (47 targets leads the team), however Fred Jackson has more receptions (30) to Watkins 26. Jackson is the 9th ranked RB in PPR and should be started each week without fail. I am a big buyer in Sammy Watkins right now, especially after his low yardage day of 2 catches for 27 yards last week. The potential for him to rise up the ranks is high. I see more 6-8 catch games than 2-3. As long as the targets are there, the production will follow.
I mentioned briefly last week that the Panthers were thinking of unleashing Cam Newton as more of a rushing weapon now that he is beginning to feel closer to 100% healthy. That’s exactly what happened on Sunday at Cincinnati. I don’t expect the norm to be 17 rushes a game for Newton, but he is now capable of making plays with his feet which further elevates his fantasy value. This news catapults him into a QB1 again. You won’t see the stifling Carolina defense of last year, which means Newton and the offense will have more opportunities going forward.
The news out of Cincinnati is that Marvin Jones (foot) was placed on the Reserved/Injured list and will have surgery to repair his injured right ankle. If you were holding out for his return, you can effectively drop him now. Sticking with the receiving corps, A.J. Green (toe) is expected to miss at least one more week. The biggest beneficiary of these unfortunate breaks has been Monhamed Sanu, who now leaps into the conversation as a wide receiver you should start until proven otherwise. Since returning from the Week 4 bye (2 games), Sanu has 16 receptions for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns. Only three WRs have more fantasy points in the last two games (Demaryius Thomas, T.Y. Hilton and DeSean Jackson). Giovani Bernard is keeping up with the elite RBs, currently RB6 in PPR and he already has his bye week out of the way.
I still like Isaiah Crowell, but for right now, Ben Tate is the incumbent back and he’ll likely be the primary ball carrier for the Browns until further notice. Tate has been the 9th best RB since the Week 4 bye and has earned his spot in your lineup each week. The Browns offensive line has been a big reason for the team’s success running the ball, which is another good reason to like Tate and have interest in Crowell. Andrew Hawkins‘ play has dropped lately mostly due to weak run defenses that Cleveland has been able to exploit. The return of Jordan Cameron also is partly to blame. I wouldn’t get rid of Hawkins just yet, but he has shown a tendency to disappear against weaker teams. The Browns play at Jacksonville this week, so he may not be a big part of the game plan, especially if the running game continues to flourish.
Brandon Marshall is back to his old ways again. He looks like he is over his ankle injury and should be safe to expect solid numbers going forward. The Bears offense is firing on all cylinders. Matt Forte leads the league with 46 receptions and despite just one touchdown, only DeMarco Murray is ahead of him in PPR rankings. Chicago hosts the Dolphins this week who have only given up one big rushing game (to Knile Davis), otherwise they have held opposing backs to less than 69 yards rushing. I expect a big game from Jay Cutler in this one with the receiving combination of Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett seeing plenty of good looks.
Terrance Williams is just 6 FP behind Dez Bryant. They may look pretty similar, but Williams is overachieving and Bryant hasn’t begun to stretch his legs yet. It’s just a matter of time before Bryant takes off. He’s a great buy low (if you want to call it that) who could turn in a stellar game any given week. DeMarco Murray had his toughest task to date (at Seattle) and he came out smelling like a rose. His schedule gets eaiser too.
I was wrong on C.J. Anderson getting the most looks in Montee Ball‘s absence. Ronnie Hillman is the back you want in Denver right now with Juwan Thompson in his rearview mirror. Usually John Fox finds a back and sticks with him for the most part. For now, it looks like Hillman is that guy. He’s not a high volume runner though, so don’t be shocked to see Thompson and maybe Anderson get some short yardage carries. If the running game happens to stall or struggle no matter who the back is, don’t think that Peyton Manning won’t abandon the run and turn the offense into an air assault.
The word out of Detroit is that Calvin Johnson (ankle) will miss the next two games and Reggie Bush (ankle) will try to play Week 7. Matthew Stafford has struggled without Johnson in the lineup, passing for 185 last week and 221 the week prior. This week the Lions are at home against a Saints team that has been porous against the pass, but be wary of starting Stafford nonetheless. Golden Tate was decent last week, but he has been more effective with Johnson in the lineup acting like a decoy. Without him, defenses can focus on him as the main threat. The expected return of Reggie Bush neutralizes Joique Bell‘s value. Both are considered a low RB2 in my mind this week.
The Packers host Carolina this week in what is shaping up to be a strong match up for both the rushing and passing game. This is a great week for Eddie Lacy to get back on track and if Aaron Rodgers has time to throw, he should benefit as well. The Packers have been going with a lot of three-WR sets with Davante Adams joining in on the fun with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Adams has raised my eyebrows over the last few weeks and deserves an opportunity to find his way onto your roster. He may not be flex worthy yet, but he’s gaining momentum.
The way the Browns running game dismantled the Steelers last week, you’d have to assume that Arian Foster has a decent chance of producing big numbers, even on the road. Andre Johnson had a strong game against the Colts despite the short week and missing practice. He overshadowed DeAndre Hopkins last week, however Hopkins has been the more consistent receiver for the Texans this season catching at least six passes or a touchdown in every game but last week. I see last week as just a down game for him. I expect his level of play to increase once again.
Andrew Luck and the Colts host the Bengals this week, who just allowed 37 points to the Panthers. The Bengals defense has struggled over the last two games, which makes this a prime match up for Luck and the Colts offense. T.Y. Hilton is the 5th ranked wide receiver this year despite catching only one touchdown so far. Colts tight ends have caught 8 of Luck’s 17 touchdown passes this season. Dwayne Allen has scored in four of the team’s six games and has earned a start as a flex option or low TE1 for your lineup. Luck’s career high in touchdown passes is 23. He has 17 already to lead the league. He’s a lock to break his career high which could likely happen before their Week 10 bye.
I was somewhat on the Storm Johnson train last week but the train barely left the station. Yes he did score a quick first quarter touchdown on a short drive, but even in a closely contested game, the Jaguars abandoned the running game and took to the air to try to beat Tennessee. It turns out Johnson was on a snap count put into effect by the coaching staff. At this time he still has some kinks to work out, but it’s promising that the staff wants to develop his game. Fantasy wise, Cecil Shorts returned from his hamstring injury to command a team high 16 targets with 10 catches. It looks like Shorts and Allen Robinson will be the two main wide outs with a combination of Ace Sanders, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee playing the slot/3rd receiver role. Stay away from the Jaguars running backs until one proves better than the others. Even in good situations, the running game doesn’t appear to be a priority in the offensive game plan.
The Chiefs return from their bye week with a visit to San Diego. The combination of Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis has been productive lately. There’s no reason to think we won’t continue to see more of the same – a shared role. Both have performed well in their respective roles but Charles is still the alpha dog in the offense and should see the majority of the committee approach. Travis Kelce is moving his way up the ranks. He’s still only the 10th best tight end, but keep in mind, he’s already had his bye week. I fully expect to see him become even more involved in the offense going forward.
The big news is the loss of Knowshon Moreno to a torn ACL. His loss provides more clarity in the running game with Lamar Miller taking over fulltime duties. Miller is averaging 5.2 yards per carry with four total touchdowns and 15 receptions. Damien Williams and Daniel Thomas will share backup duties, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Williams getting more looks in the reserve role. Now is the time to be a buyer in Jarvis Landry. He should be available on your waiver wire, but that may not be the case after this week. Get him before he blows up. What we saw last week (6-75-1) is a preview of what we can expect this season. He has excellent hands and plenty of ability and grit to be an effective offensive weapon for Miami.
I’m starting to sour on the Vikings this year. Cordarrelle Patterson is having troubles getting open consistently and Teddy Bridgewater is struggling to find him when he is open. The end result is another two-reception game, his third in a row. The running game is struggling to find an indentity with Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon that nobody is truly benefiting. They need to just feed McKinnon the ball and show what he can do, but it doesn’t look like Norv Turner is ready to give him that kind of freedom just yet. Kyle Rudolph‘s eventual return will help some, but there’s still not a lot of fantasy interest in the Vikings right now.
It took a few games, but it looks like the Patriots offense is back. The offensive line woes have diminished, Rob Gronkowski is showing signs of a renaissance and Brandon LaFell is turning into the Patriots deep threat they didn’t realize they have. The big news in New England this week is the loss of running back Stevan Ridley to a torn ACL. His loss promotes Shane Vereen and elevates James White and Branden Bolden into the mix as available options in the running game. Nobody knows what Bill Belichick will do to fill the void, but a lot of people believe James White could start to see increased action. My take is that Shane Vereen will see increased carries, but so will veteran Branden Bolden with some James White sprinkled in here and there. The hot hand will get the most looks. It’s anyone’s guess as to who that will be but we see it every year – a Patriots back comes in and elevates his game and those of us who guessed right will benefit. What else did you expect from Belichick?
The Saints return from their bye week to play at Detroit. The Lions pass rush could easily give Drew Brees and the Saints offense fits. This isn’t the same Saints juggernaut team anymore, especially not without Jimmy Graham, who will likely be out this week with a sprained shoulder. Mark Ingram (hand) is expected to return to action this week, but monitor his practice schedule before making any moves. His return would decrease the production from Khiry Robinson and Travaris Cadet. I am not loving this match up for Brees and company unless Detroit gets out to a big lead. The Lions have struggled themselves without Calvin Johnson in the lineup so don’t assume a high scoring game will be the plotline here.
The Giants offensive line and running game looked horrible against an Eagles team that has allowed other teams to score at will against them. That’s not a great sign for the Giants, especially with Dallas on the schedule this week – in Dallas. Eli Manning and the Giants have been off and on all year, so it’s anyone’s guess which team will show up this week. There were a lot of injuries this week, but perhaps the biggest was the loss of Victor Cruz to a torn patella tendon. The loss will open the door for Odell Beckham to play opposite Rueben Randle while Preston Parker will occupy the slot. The moves will also free up Larry Donnell who could also see time in the slot role at times. After a huge first few games, Donnell has slipped back to earth, however the change in the Giants receiving alignment will give him more opportunities for catches. He’s not an elite talent, but he’s a serviceable option who has raised Manning’s game early on. Beckham and Randle figure to benefit the most. Randle leads the team with 49 receptions, including 39 targets in the last four games alone. The Cruz injury catapults him into WR3 territory, but if the offensive line plays like they did last week, nobody will benefit.
The Jets have a tall order this week playing at New England on a short week. Rex Ryan has found some success against Bill Belichick and the Patriots in the past, but this team isn’t the same caliber as some of those other teams – playoff teams. This Jets defense is nowhere near those other teams and the injuries continue to pile up. The one bright spot lately has been the development of tight end Jace Amaro, but even he is a low end TE1 at best. Playing the role of “someone has to catch the ball” is Eric Decker. He actually has some fantasy value if the Jets can find some rhythm on offense. I’m not thrilled with the fantasy options on the Jets, especially not this week.
The Raiders are 0-1 in the eyes of their interim Head Coach, Tony Sparano – and they nearly pulled the upset over the Chargers last week. It was a moral victory which doesn’t count in the win loss column, but any form of progress is good. Andre Holmes is turning heads once again and now he has a quarterback who can get him the ball in Derek Carr. The combination of Andre Holmes and James Jones has piqued my interest as fantasy relevant options going forward. The Raiders host the Cardinals, who are 32nd against the pass this year. If you’re looking for a diamond in the rough with a good match up, Derek Carr may be your guy this week. If he excels, so should Holmes and Jones.
The Eagles have a bye this week, but It looks like LeSean McCoy has broken out of his slump and with Darren Sproles scheduled to miss at least one game after the bye, McCoy should get an opportunity to be the main rushing threat for at least one game. Perhaps he can turn that into more with another impressive performance.
The Browns have has the Steelers number since the second half of the Week 1 game. Pittsburgh hopes to right the ship this week vs. Arian Foster and the Texans. The Houston defense has been vulverable this year, allowing big games to opposing running backs and receivers. I imagine Pittsburgh will look to exploit the Texans weak secondary, which is good news for Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton and Heath Miller – not to mention Ben Roethlisberger. Look for LeVeon Bell to get plenty of looks as well. I like this match up for Pittsburgh, but if Jadeveon Clowney (knee) is back this week, things could get interesting.
The Chargers have benefited from the emergence of Branden Oliver, who has rushed for over 100 yards each of the last two games, with four catches in each game for an additional 91 yards. Oliver should be the main rushing option this week vs. the Chiefs as well. The big question is – what role will Oliver have once Ryan Mathews (knee) returns in the next few weeks. If he continues to play well, I fully expect to see him share duties with Mathews and occupy the Danny Woodhead role. If that happens, I can see Eddie Royal‘s contribution taking a dip, as he has been the main replacement as the Chargers short passing game option since Woodhead went down with his injury.
Could there be a chink in the armor of the almighty Seahawks? Russell Wilson doesn’t lose at home. Yet he lost last week against a determined Dallas team. The Seahawks go to St. Louis this week and should be able to take care of business, however they struggled last year at St. Louis and barely escaped with a win, thanks to a late game goal line stand. Marshawn Lynch should be a big contributor in this game, especially if he’s effective. The Rams pass rush has dropped off dramatically since last year which should give Wilson plenty of time to pick apart the defense. I like Seattle to win this game with a relatively low pass attempts game, which doesn’t necessarily bode well for the receiving unit.
The 49ers, winners of their last three games, play at Denver this week. Colin Kaepernick had a big game last week against the Rams, passing for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns. Those numbers are not commonly seen from Kaepernick and I don’t expect to see them against Denver. This has the makings of a grind it out type of battle, but the 49ers defense has not been as dominant as they have been in the past. I’m not sure if they’ll be able to slow down Peyton Manning, who is gunning for Brett Favre’s careeer touchdown record. The match up seems to favor the passing game, which generally is not Kaepernick’s strong suit. If that turns out to be the case, Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Steve Johnson could benefit.
We saw a glimpse of what rookie running back Tre Mason can do on Monday night against the 49ers. Mason should start to see more carries going forward and by the looks of it, they need him to step up. No other backs have the speed and quickness that Mason has. If he continues to excel, we could see more of him in the coming weeks. The Rams had a tough match up last week against the 49ers and now it gets tougher with Seattle coming to town. Brian Quick and Jared Cook lead the team in targets but Quick was non-existent last week. We’ll see what that brings against Seattle, but he’s not a lock to be a WR3 or even a flex option until he establishes more consistency.
The Bucs are on a bye this week where hopefully they will remember how to play defense again. Joe Flacco and the Ravens had their way with the Bucs defense last week. I am not excited about any Bucs player right now, but if they continue to lose, the garbage yards will continue and that’s good news for Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans and even Louis Murphy.
The Titans need to figure out their offensive identity quickly and I’m not sure if Jake Locker is the answer. I would not be surprised to see Zach Mettenberger get a chance to see what he can do. Kendall Wright has been up and down this year and Justin Hunter hasn’t been able to flex his muscle as a receiver just yet. Both players are still worth holding onto, because a change at quarterback could be exactly what they need. Charlie Whitehurst isn’t the answer.
DeSean Jackson has been on fire lately. It looks like he has taken over the number one option in the receiving game leaving Pierre Garcon to fend for sloppy seconds. I don’t expect that to be the case all year, especially when Robert Griffin returns from his injured ankle. Yes I do believe Griffin will get the job back when he’s healthy. Kirk Cousins has done a decent job filling the void, but he has struggled with accuracy and bad decisions since taking over. Jordan Reed is back and it didn’t take him long to pick up where he left off. His return relegates Niles Paul back into a reserve role with little fantasy relevance.