Fantasy Football News

Sunday, November 25, 2012

It's Game Day: Everything you Need to Know

We're about 30 minutes from the kick-off of the early games. Here's your one and only stop for all you need to know about the 1:00pm (eastern time) games and updates of the games.

I'll be gathering information from sites such as NFL.com, CBS Sports, FOX Sports, ESPN.com, SI.com and more, so no need to go anywhere else.

12:30 pm: I will be continually updating the page, so be sure to keep checking back for more.

12:32 pm: If you're lucky, maybe there will be some live blogging during the early games as well.

Key Inactives:

Vikings @ Bears (1 pm)

MIN: Percy Harvin (ankle)
CHI: Alshon Jeffrey (knee)

Raiders @ Bengals (1 pm)

OAK: Darren McFadden (ankle), Mike Goodson (ankle), Richard Seymour (knee, hamstring)
CIN: Andrew Hawkins (knee)

Steelers @ Browns (1 pm)

PIT: Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder, ribs), Byron Leftwich (ribs), Antonio Brown (ankle), Jerricho Cotchery (ribs), Troy Polamalu (calf)
CLE: Dimitri Patterson (ankle), Josh Cooper (knee)

Bills @ Colts (1 pm)

BUF: Mark Anderson (knee), Aaron Williams (knee)
IND: Coby Fleener (shoulder), Vontae Davis (knee)

Titans @ Jaguars (1 pm)

TEN: Jamie Harper (ankle)
JAC: Blaine Gabbert (forearm), Maurice Jones-Drew (foot)

Broncos @ Chiefs (1 pm)

DEN: Willis McGahee (MCL), Tracy Porter (illness)
KC:

Seahawks @ Dolphins (1 pm)

SEA:
MIA: Lamar Miller

Falcons @ Buccaneers (1 pm)

ATL:
TB: Arrelious Benn (shoulder)

Ravens @ Chargers (4:05 pm)

BAL: Jimmy Smith
SD: Eddie Royal (hamstring), Jared Gaither (groin)

Rams @ Cardinals (4:25 pm)

STL: Mario Haggan (elbow)
ARI:

Niners @ Saints (4:25 pm)

SF:
NO:

Packers @ Giants (8:20 pm)

GB: Greg Jennings (groin), Clay Matthews III (hamstring), Sam Shields (ankle)
NYG: Domenik Hixon (ankle)

Panthers @ Eagles (Mon., 8:30 pm)

CAR:
PHI: Michael Vick (concussion), LeSean McCoy (concussion), Jason Avant (hamstring)

Additional Injury/Player Updates

*Jay Cutler (concussion) will be starting for the Bears today after missing last week's loss to the 49ers. No Jason Campbell this week, Bears fans.

*With both Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich out, Charlie Batch will be making the start under center for the Steelers today. The newly-signed Plaxico Burress is active and will be available in mostly red zone packages today as well.

*With Willis McGahee out and on the IR (would be eligible to return if Denver makes it to AFC Championship, however), Knowshon Moreno will be making the start at RB today.

*Haven't received official word yet, but reportedly San Francisco's Alex Smith was told that Colin Kaepernick would make the start today. Smart move if he does.

*Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy (both concussions) will miss the Eagles' Monday night match-up with Carolina. As if the Eagles weren't already worried about being embarrassed on National television...

Key actives: NO RB Darren Sproles, ARI RB Beanie Wells, BUF RB Fred Jackson, KC WR Dwayne Bowe, ATL WR Julio Jones, STL WR Danny Amendola

In-Game Talk

2:10 pm: Pittsburgh's offense has gotten off to a slow start, as expected. Cleveland just extended its lead to 13-7 with a 32-yarder off the foot of Phil Dawson. Charlie Batch is showing rust, making his first NFL start since December 24 of last year, but it's just his 8th start with the Steelers.

*Dawson's field goal is his 27th consecutive made FG, tying a team record.
*Steelers have turned the ball over three different times: a fumbles by running backs (Mendenhall, Redman and Dwyer). Longest play from scrimmage for PIT has been 11 yards (from Charlie "check down" Batch to Emmanuel Sanders).

2:13 pm: Cincinnati is drowning the Raiders at this point, up 21-0 at the two minute warning. Andy Dalton is 10/15, 116 yards and 2 TDs while BenJarvus Green-Ellis has run for 74 yards and a TD on offense.

2:20 pm: Matt Bryant shanks a last-second field goal for Atlanta as the Falcons (9-1) and Bucs (6-4) head into the half with a 10-10 tie.

2:22 pm: Speaking of domination, the Bears are up 25-3 over Minnesota thanks in part to Jay Cutler's 80 yards and 1 TD and Michael Bush's 2 rushing TDs. Under two minutes to play in the first half in Chicago, between two NFC North teams in the playoff hunt.

2:29 pm: Well, just before the half Pittsburgh's offense finally gets in to the end zone with a Chris Rainey 1-yard run. 14-13 Pittsburgh at halftime.

2:30 pm: Other halftime scores include DEN 7, KC 6...SEA 7, MIA 7...TEN 6, JAC 7. Lots of low-scoring games thus far today.

2:56 pm: Rookie Russell Wilson is looking great for Seattle, throwing his 2nd TD pass on the day to Michael Robinson. Early in the third the Seahawks are up 14-7.

2:58 pm: Down 13-10 early in the third qtr, Matty Ice and Julio Jones hooked up for an 80-yard touchdown. Originally questionable for today's game, Jones now has 4 catches for 123 yards and a TD on the day.

3 pm: Oops. Seahawks/Dolphins game has temporarily been delayed because the sprinklers came on. That doesn't happen during an NFL game very often, I'll say that much.

3:04 pm: It's all good though, the delay only lasted a couple of minutes.

3:05 pm: Offensive explosion in Tampa. Both the Falcons and Bucs offenses have had 5 plays go for 20 or more yards.

3:06 pm: Pittsburgh's woes have continued. Charlie Batch has a pass intercepted by Sheldon Brown, leading to a rare rushing TD, ran in from 15 yards out by rookie Trent Richardson. Cleveland elects not to go for 2, so it's 20-14 Cleveland.

3:12 pm: Peyton Manning's latest touchdown to Demaryius Thomas has the Broncos up 14-9, and that TD pass looked prettier than ever off the right arm of Manning. He may not be as explosive as his Colt days, but he's still got the Manning touch.

3:14 pm: T.Y. Hilton now has a 75-yard punt return TD and an 8-yard TD catch under his belt today. Andrew Luck's Colts are up 20-6 over the Bills.

3:19 pm: Pittsburgh's rookie OT Mike Adams was just carted to the locker room. Adams was the Steelers' 2nd round draft pick this past April.

3:23 pm: News on the late games...St. Louis wideout Danny Amendola has been announced as active and Arizona's Beanie Wells will be active for the first time since Week 3. Darren Sproles will be active for the Saints, and in that same game it's been announced that Colin Kaepernick will, in fact, make the start for the Niners. Nothing shocking there.

3:29 pm: Fifth turnover of the game for the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is getting out of hand and is very uncharacteristic of this offense. Exactly why I felt the Steelers should have signed David Garrard to a contract, he's been ready to play for quite some time now.

3:31 pm: Tampa Bay has re-taken the lead from Atlanta thanks to a Doug Martin 1-yard TD and a Connor Barth 48-yard field goal. 10 unanswered from Tampa. 23-17. Great game in Tampa.

3:32 pm: Clearly that was a late update on my part (^^^), because a Michael Turner 3-yard run and a Bryant extra point gives Atlanta a 24-23 lead. Probably the best game on at the current moment. I advised you flip the channel.

3:46 pm: Adrian Peterson with another 100 yard game. The rushing leader now has 5 consecutive games with 100+ and has accumulated over 1,200 on the season. His 108 yards, however, has not been enough for the Vikes to overcome Chicago, as they still trail 28-10 with just over seven minutes to play in the game.

3:51 pm: Atlanta just missed a long field goal, giving Tampa the ball back trailing 24-23. The problem is that Josh Freeman has just :08 to get into field goal range to win the game. Interesting end to this one.

3:53 pm: Tampa's last-second hail mary fails and Atlanta pulls away with a fourth consecutive victory of six or less points, 24-23. The Falcons improve to 10-1, tying the Texans with the best record in the league.

4 pm: Seven. Yes, seven turnovers for Pittsburgh's offense. A Chris Rainey fumble just gave Cleveland the ball back at the 2 minute warning. With a 6-point lead, appears as if the Browns will come away with a 20-14 victory.

4:03 pm: Two more final scores...Denver fends off the Chiefs, 17-9 as the Dolphins defeat Seattle 24-21 with last heroics from kicker Dan Carpenter, who kicked one through the uprights from 43 yards away as time expired.

4:06 pm: With Chad Henne the starter, Jacksonville captures its second win of the season with a 24-19 victory over Jake Locker's Titans. Henne threw for 261 yards and 2 TDs in the win. Breakout receiver Cecil Shorts completes his third 100-yard season and catches his 6th TD of the season. Fantasy stud at its finest (Henne would be a great pick-up if you're one of those owners who picks up quarterbacks on a weekly basis).

4:12 pm: Last play for Pittsburgh results in yet another lost fumble while attempting a desperation lateral. Ugly game all around for the offense, as the Browns force 8 turnovers. Browns win 20-14. Lets face it, Charlie Batch is more of a game manager. If you aren't running for 100-150 yards and running the ball early and often, you can't count on him to win you the game. Batch didn't lose it, the running game just didn't get the job done.

4:14 pm: Colts defeat Bills 20-13, Bears over Vikes 28-10, Bengals destroy the Raiders 34-10.

Well, that just about wraps up the early game coverage. Unfortunately I may not be able to stick around and do the same for the 4 pm ET games, but recaps and analysis of the day's action will be coming soon, and possibly even a separate thread for tonight's Packers/Giants SNF match-up tonight.

Thanks for following along this afternoon!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Day Recap: What Have we Learned?

Unfortunately I was unable to post a preview of the three Turkey day games (happy belated Thanksgiving, by the way!). But I happened to go 3-0 on the day in terms of picking the games, so that's a positive––check out the "picks" tab if you don't believe me.

Thanks to some interesting football games, there is plenty that Thanksgiving day taught us and there's so much to take away from what we witnessed. Here's a start:

Parity, Parity, Parity

The 12:30 pm ET game between Houston and Detroit has proven even further that the National Football League is full of parity this season. This has made it extra tough to pick out a true No. 1 team in the league.

Early on, the Houston Texans were without a doubt the clear No. 1 team coming out of the AFC. Starting the season 5-0 and not allowing a team to put up any more than 25 points, Houston appeared to be on its way to an easy division title. They have continued to pull away with victories and are 10-1 on the season, but injuries to the defensive squad (Brian Cushing has been out for the season since Week 5; Johnathan Joseph missed Thursday's game due to hamstring injury) have exposed them.

The Texans' lone loss came at home against the Packers, a game in which Houston 427 yards and 42 points. The last two weeks, including Thursday, resulted in two overtime victories––43-37 over Jacksonville and 34-31 over Detroit––but very easily could have put Houston at 8-3 and just two games ahead of the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South.

Despite being the first team in the league to reach 10 wins, the Texans' defense has been exposed and could be in trouble when they get around to preparing for the 8-3, high-flying offense of the New England Patriots on Monday night, December 10. Keep your eye on the AFC South over these last 5 weeks of the season, especially considering Houston still has three division games remaining.
Ndamukong Suh has yet to change his style of play

I'm not saying whether or not it was on purpose, but the fact that it was Ndamukong Suh who happened to be the Detroit Lion defensive lineman that kicked Houston's quarterback Matt Schaub in the family jewels on Thursday seems a little fishy to me.

It appeared to be an accident, in my opinion, but the league has decided to review the play and decide whether it warrants a fine or not. If you're going to suspend Ed Reed for three safety rules violations over three seasons (though the 1-game suspension was reduced to a $50,000 fine), then why not suspend Suh for a game if the commish finds this to be a dirty play?

I'm just throwing ideas out there. It's one thing to play until you hear the whistle and play aggressively, but I would consider Suh's actions over-aggressive and unneeded. Suh, 25, is now in his 3rd NFL season and, as of last December, had been flagged for 9 personal fouls for his over-aggressive style of play and exactly one year ago today (on Thanksgiving vs. Packers) Suh stomped on Green Bay's offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith. He was suspended two games for the act.

In his first year and a half in the league he had been fined a total of $42,500 by the league. To top it all off, the a players' poll conducted by The Sporting News revealed Suh to be the league's dirtiest player. After 2+ seasons of this, he has clearly yet to change his attitude. At this point, I don't think he will ever change. It makes for interesting football, that's for sure.


NFC East will come down to the wire: Does Dallas still have a shot at the playoffs?

A 28-3 halftime lead for the Skins seemingly put the game away for Washington, until Dallas' Tony Romo came out in the 2nd half and put up 28 points. The deficit, however, was too large for the Cowboys, who ran for just 35 yards on the day. The Washington victory tied them with Dallas for second in the NFC East at 5-6.

Robert Griffin III continues to impress for the Skins, and is in the heart of the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. But with three more divisional match-ups and a tough game in Baltimore remaining on its schedule, the road to a postseason appearance looks to be rocky.

Clearly the East is still up for grabs as they are both just a half game behind the 6-4 Giants, but at this point the Cowboys, surprisingly, look to have the best shot at capturing the East. Despite the loss to Washington at home, the 'Boys have the easiest remaining schedule (vs. Philly, @ Cincy, vs. Pitt, vs. NO, @ Wash.). Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Washington are all win-able games for Dallas if their offense shows up and, depending on whether Pittsburgh has Ben Roethlisberger or not, they can compete with both the Steelers and Saints.

As for the Giants, they are already on a two game losing streak prior to the Week 11 bye and they still have a tough road ahead of them: vs. Green Bay (primetime), @ Washington (primetime), vs. New Orleans, @ Atlanta, @ Baltimore, vs. Philadelphia.

But, these are the Giants, you can never count them out of it in December. Not to mention the Cowboys and Skins have both been somewhat inconsistent this season. So this is clearly anyone's division, even the 3-7 Eagles have a slim shot at turning things around (doubtful). But my money is on the Cowboys getting things together down the stretch.
The Patriots once again have the scariest offense in NFL; Jets are done

I was expecting a rout of the Jets, but not on the defensive side of the ball. In New England's 49-19 embarrassment of the New York Jets on Thanksgiving night, New England put up 14 points on defensive touchdowns while forcing a season-high 5 turnovers and sacking Mark Sanchez twice.

Tom Brady and the offense put up staggering numbers too, of course, against New York's 14th-ranked scoring defense. The offense's 323 passing yards, 3 TDs and 152 rushing yards, 2 TDs was enough for a 30-point victory over the division rival. With 407 points in 11 games is an NFL-best, with the 2nd-ranked Texans putting up only 327 on the season.

The Patriots will get the chance to insert its dominance of the AFC in two weeks when they take on 10-1 Houston in primetime on Monday night. It will once again be up to the defense to step it up and make plays if they wish to make a Super Bowl run down the stretch. The offense is right where it's been for years.

As for the now-4-7 Jets, they've gone so far as to embarrass the infamous fan "Fireman Ed" so much that he left the game at halftime and deleted his Twitter account, according to ESPN. Wow, is the only word that can clearly describe the Jets' current state. Fans have been calling for Tim Tebow to take over the starting role, but Mark Sanchez isn't anywhere near the only problem with New York's squad.

My suggestion to New York: clean house after the season. Rex Ryan has had his chance and hasn't gotten the job done. I think it's time for a huge change within the Jets' organization and it all starts with Ryan.
Week 12 action is sure to reveal many more lessons:

*How will rookie signal caller Andrew Luck react to last week's beating. If he is able to bounce back against the Bills, he can savor his chances of winning OROY and stay in the hunt for Wild Card.
*Is starting Chad Henne going to save the rest of the Jags' season?
*Can Pittsburgh win with Charlie Batch under center, and what impact will the Plaxico Burress signing have?
*After last week's loss to San Fran's Colin Kaepernick, can Chicago's defense bounce back against the league's leading rusher (Adrian Peterson)?
*Is Tampa a contender coming out of the NFC South? They will get their shot at proving they belong with a chance to upset the 9-1 Falcons.
*49ers @ Saints: Rematch of last year's NFC Divisional showdown.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Week 11 Action Gives Out Mixed Signals

I'm not so sure about everyone else, but I have had a hard time deciphering exactly what happened around the league yesterday.

Records being set, feats being accomplished, players being hurt left and right, overtime games every where you look.

Impressive performance after impressive performance, and the Rookie of the Year debate has continued to heat up. Indianapolis' Andrew Luck may have taken a step back after his disappointing debut against Tom Brady and the Pats, but Robert Griffin III, Doug Martin and Trent Richardson continue to impress. Even Justin Blackmon stepped up to the occasion against Houston's defense.

The NFC East just got interesting, with RGIII putting up a head-shaking performance against the struggling Eagles, throwing for 200 yards and 4 TDs on 14/15 passing, in addition to his team-leading 84 rushing yards. Washington improved to 4-6 with a 31-6 victory over Philly's rookie signal caller Nick Foles (filling in for the concussed Michael Vick).
At 4-6, the Skins are just two games behind the regressing New York Giants, who had the week off but have dropped two straight after starting the regular season at 6-2. The Eagles have now dropped six consecutive and are a couple of losses away from a possible Andy Reid firing, and the Cowboys, though they survived a scare against Cleveland with a 23-20 overtime win, have been inconsistent at 5-5 and are not looking like a team that could compete for a playoff spot.

The NFC East is just one of many NFC divisions that are completely up for grabs at this point. In fact all four divisions are wide open with six weeks left in the regular season:

*Chicago (7-2), Green Bay (7-3) and Minnesota (6-4) are all neck and neck up North.

*San Francisco (6-2-1) and Seattle (6-4) are battling it out on the west coast.

*Tampa Bay (6-4) even has a shot at catching the Falcons (9-1) in the South after late-game heroics yesterday in an 11-point comeback and overtime victory to capture its fourth consecutive victory. Don't count out Drew Brees and New Orleans (5-5), either. A 3-game win streak has put them back on the map in the South.
The Niners and Bears face-off tonight on Monday Night Football, a game which features two back-up quarterbacks making their first start of the season. San Fran's second-year QB Colin Kaepernick is making his first career start and Chicago's Jason Campbell is making his first start as a Bear. Both signal callers are filling in for the injured Alex Smith and Jay Cutler, respectively, as they both left last week's games after sustaining concussions.

Speaking of concussions, that's another questionable topic of conversation these days, and it's not just quarterbacks that have been getting them this season. Through last week's action, 77 different players have suffered from at least one concussion and just three teams (Arizona, Cincinnati and Tampa) have yet to have a player sustain one, according to CBS Sports' website.

Also according to the article I read, 19 teams have had multiple players suffer from a concussion. That's basically 60% of teams. This past Friday there were five different defenders fined for illegal hits from the previous two week's of play, by commissioner Roger Goodell.

Clearly player safety has been put into question this season, and for a good reason. Concussions have been aplenty this season and it's been a huge concern for the National Football League. I plan on looking into this issue a little more later on this week, and will hopefully be making a post in further detail.
Until then, however, the AFC issues must be addressed. Denver and New England appear to be on the midst of running away with their respective divisions.

New England put on a clinic against the rookie Luck, putting up 59 points. With a 24-17 halftime score, a classic Indy/NE showdown looked inevitable. But 35 second half points, including an 87-yard interception of Luck that was turned into a pick-6, put the game well out of reach early in the fourth quarter.

Well aware of the offensive explosion that is New England's offensive attack, should 59 points against the Colts really surprise anyone? I still feel Indianapolis are playoff contenders, especially after Chad Henne stepped into the game against Houston and put up 354 yards, 4 TDs and 37 points against a tough and physical Texans' defense. Houston was exposed and showed that maybe they aren't completely invincible within the South? They came away with the win anyways, but it was a hard-fought game from a 1-9 Jaguars' squad.

New England will run away with the East like we've seen for years under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, especially with an ever-improving defense. And Peyton Manning is finally looking comfortable as Denver's starter.

Not only does Manning (2,975 yards, 24 TDs, 7 INT, 106.2 rating) find himself in the MVP race, but the Broncos have won five in a row and are sitting atop the West at 7-3. Not to mention the Chargers, Raiders and Chiefs are currently on 2, 3 and 7-game losing streaks, respectively.
The North and South may be a bit different. As mentioned above, Houston took a step back in a close victory over the Jags. Indy is three games behind and, if Houston falters down the stretch, they could steal one from the Texans. I still believe Houston is a top 3 team in the conference, but considering they have much tougher opponents in the final six weeks, anything is possible. Long story short, those two IND/HOU match-ups in the final 3 weeks of the season could prove vital for both teams.

As for the North, last night was an ugly showing for both Baltimore (8-2) and Pittsburgh (6-4), though the Ravens came away with a tough 13-10 victory and extended its division lead to two games. A couple of key mistakes by Pittsburgh's veteran defenders late in the game cost Mike Tomlin's crew and Ben Roethlisberger's sprained shoulder and dislocated rib (pressing into his aorta) could keep them from keeping up with the Ravens.

Luckily for us, however, the two teams will meet again in just two short weeks.

The final six weeks of the season will become slightly clearer after tonight's showdown in San Francisco, as more Week 11 wrap-up will be coming your way in the next couple of days.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Week 11: Injured Quarterbacks on Contending Teams

It's been a busy week for the quarterback position thus far, and it's only Wednesday. This past weekend four different teams witnessed its starting quarterback go down with an injury, two of which have already been ruled out for this Sunday's match-ups with division rivals.

Three of these four teams are contenders and the fourth team is fighting for its playoff chances.

The aforementioned quarterbacks include Philly's Michael Vick (concussion), San Francisco's Alex Smith (concussion), Chicago's Jay Cutler (concussion) and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger (right shoulder sprain).

Vick has been ruled out of Sunday's game against Washington, as rookie Nick Foles will make his first career start for the struggling 3-6 Eagles. Foles, filling in for the injured Vick this past Sunday, completed 22 of his 32 pass attempts for 219 yards, 1 TD and an interception against Dallas. The interception was returned 47 yards for a Brandon Carr touchdown.
If Foles can keep the Eagles competitive, who knows how long Vick will end up being out of the lineup. This may have just lost him the starting job if Foles can take advantage of this opportunity.

Smith, before leaving the game, went 7/8 for 72 yards and a TD before Colin Kaepernick took over and threw for 117 yards on the Niners' way to the first tie since the Eagles and Bengals ended in a 13-13 tie during the 2008 regular season.

Smith appears to be doing much better after suffering the concussion on a blow to the head against the Rams. He's been following NFL protocol for concussions, and if he's cleared by a neurologist he could play in San Fran's Monday night game with the Bears.

Speaking of the Bears, news on Cutler in Chicago is similar to that of Smith. It's unclear as to whether or not he'll play but since no significant news has broken that he isn't likely to play, I think we'll see him in uniform. Smith and Cutler's concussions suffered in Week 10 will certainly make for a interesting Week 11 match-up, should they both suit up and play for their respective teams.

The big news this week has without a doubt been Ben Roethlisberger. All of these concussions have been overshadowed by Roethlisberger's right shoulder sprain suffered in Pittsburgh's 16-13 overtime victory over Kansas City on Monday night. His agent claimed that it is an unusual injury, which tells me this may be a little more serious than just a sprain.
Either way, he's been ruled out for Sunday night's game against AFC North rival Baltimore, leaving the door open for former Jaguars starter Byron Leftwich to make his first official start as a Pittsburgh Steeler.

In terms of contending teams being effected by the injured quarterbacks, I don't think the Bears or Niners have much to worry about, even if Josh McCown starts for the Bears and Kaepernick the Niners this Monday. It's the Steelers that have the most to worry about. With no set timetable for Roethlisberger's recovery, it looks as if it will just be a week-to-week basis until team doctors know more.

One thing is for sure, however. If Pittsburgh is forced to rely on the right arm of Leftwich for the long-term, the team's playoff hopes may go down the drain.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Week 10 Fantasy Update: Start 'em, Sit 'em

Torn between whether or not you should start your ailing star, or replace him this week with your underrated, ready-to-breakout running back? Well, you've come to the right place.

It's Week 10 already, which means you really only have a couple more weeks of the fantasy regular season. Every match-up counts on your way to your league's championship, and making one wrong move could cost you a victory.

So here is a list of players you should either start this week (if you happen to have them on your roster or can pick them up off waivers) or sit on your bench. Clearly I tried by best at picking guys to start that aren't obvious answers, but there still may be a couple of them on there:

Start

QB

Ben Roethlisberger, PIT vs. KC

Now that there have been injuries depleting the Steeler backfield this season, Roethlisberger has completely taken over the reins of the offense. As one of the more underrated fantasy passers, Ben has put up 20+ on four separate occasions thus far. And he usually fares pretty well against the Chiefs (2-1 record, 6 TDs, 3 INTs) and on Monday night's (8-3 record).

Tony Romo, DAL vs. PHI

Atlanta and Philadelphia's pass defense are ranked No. 11 and 12, respectively. Romo put up great (fantasy) numbers against Atlanta last week and even nearly came up with a victory too. Putting up nearly identical numbers with Atlanta's Matt Ryan made Romo look pretty good last week, meaning there's no doubt Dallas can keep up with Vick and the Eagles this week.

Josh Freeman, TB vs. SD

Likely one of the top QBs on the waiver wire, Freeman got off to a slow start to the season. Through the first four weeks of the season Freeman put up no more than 17 fantasy points in a game (10, 7, 17, 15). But after the Bucs' Week 5 bye, Freeman turned it on and his own % sky-rocketed quickly. Over the last four games he's put up 21 or more each week, including a 33-point and a 37-point performance in back-to-back weeks. I'm expecting between 20-25 points this week, so if your QB has a bye this week, snag Freeman.
RB

Ray Rice, BAL vs. OAK

After watching Tampa Bay's rookie Doug Martin tear up Oakland's defense for 251 yards and 4 TDs last week, it's likely the Ravens will give the Raiders a heavy dosage of Rice early on. He'll get 25+ carries and a couple of TDs for you if you keep him in your lineup.

Adrian Peterson, MIN vs. DET

If you're unsure whether or not AP can keep up his tear against Detroit's run defense (ranked 5th in terms of points allowed to opposing RBs), the answer is yes. Normally I'd be a little more skeptical against a defense that has surrendered just 2 rushing TDs all season. But Peterson is completely healed and is on a roll, scoring 4 TDs in the past three games with 100-yard performances in each. Peterson will put up 140 and 2 TDs against Detroit.

Doug Martin, TB vs. SD

Only one team has rushed for more than 120 yards against the Chargers this season, but if anyone has the hot hand it's "Muscle Hamster." Following his record-setting performance against Oakland, Martin is looking to record his third consecutive 100-yard game and I don't have a doubt he'll accomplish it this week.

WR

Mike Wallace, PIT vs. KC

Wallace has yet to really put up eye-popping numbers this season, as he did in 2011. But with Antonio Brown to miss Monday night's showdown with Kansas City, I'd expect this to be Wallace's game to do so. A little bit of rain isn't going to stop Ben Roethlisberger from throwing the ball.
Vincent Jackson, TB vs. SD

Is playing your old team motivation to play well? Why, yes it is. In Jackson's case anyways. Philip Rivers and his Chargers have struggled at times, and have shown that he misses his big target in Jackson. So what's Jackson going to do? Catch eight passes for 120 yards and a TD against his former team of course.

TE

Antonio Gates, SD vs. TB

He finally appears to be healthy. Combining for just 25 points over the first five weeks of the season before breaking out for 26 in Week 6, Gates' entire season has been filled with disappointment. But he finally appears to be a weekly weapon again after battling a rib injury early on. Tampa Bay allowed 26 points to TEs last week against Oakland, so that's a good sign for Gates too, right?

Sit

QB

Michael Vick, PHI vs. DAL

Vick has cut down on his interceptions lately, at least. But he was eaten alive last Monday against the New Orleans front. He was sacked 7 times and threw yet another pick-6 in the red zone, which of course was returned 99 yards for a NO touchdown. Against Dallas, things wont get much better for Vick, especially if he is given as much time as he was given against the Saints. Lets just say you may be in trouble if Vick is your weekly starting quarterback.

Matt Schaub, HOU vs. CHI

First of all, I hope Schaub isn't your No. 1 QB every week, because he has been underperforming in the fantasy world this season. Second of all, if he is, please place him on your bench. You're likely better off picking a guy such as Carson Palmer or Andy Dalton off waivers for this week than starting Schaub against Chicago's defense. The Bears have held two different QBs to -1 points this season. Enough said.

Jay Cutler, CHI vs. HOU

Clearly the theme of today is "don't start any offensive players from the Sunday night match-up" (you'll find one more if you keep reading). But that's clearly because two of the league's top defenses are going head-to-head, which will likely result in a 14-10 final score. Cutler's been inconsistent (24 pts last week, 4 the week prior) and I don't trust him against Houston's 8th-best defense vs. opposing QBs this season.

RB

Arian Foster, HOU vs. CHI

This is a shocker, I know. I'm even shocking myself by putting Foster on the "sit" list. But going up against Chicago's defense, which happens to be 3rd against opposing RBs this season, I'm worried for him. He's put up at least 14 points each week in ESPN's standard scoring leagues, but the Bears have allowed just one 100-yard team performance (last week vs. TEN) and have held teams under 90 yards in all 7 of the other games this season.

Chris Johnson, TEN vs. MIA

Johnson is coming off a 141 yard, 1 TD performance last week vs. the Bears and has rushed for 90 or more yards in each of the last four weeks. But his inconsistency continues to plague his reputation and his opponent, Miami, has allowed just 16.3 points to RBs this season, good enough for 5th in the league.

Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG vs. CIN

It's been announced that Bradshaw will, in fact, be active today. But as a fantasy owner that doesn't mean you stick him in your lineup right away. Have you seen his numbers lately? A total of 10 points in the last two games (ESPN standard). Even if he finally is healthy again, Andre Brown and David Wilson have been taking carries away from him. The days of Bradshaw being a viable second RB in fantasy lineups appear to be over.
WR

Demaryius Thomas, DEN vs. CAR

Carolina has been one of the best at containing wideouts this season, and are top 10 against the pass. Thomas' teammate Eric Decker will likely get more action as he has caught 7 TDs in his last five games. Carolina has surrendered just 5 receiving touchdowns to wideouts this season and over 200 yards one just one occasion. So, if you have to choose between which Bronco receiver to start (Thomas or Decker), choose Decker not Thomas.

Wes Welker, NE vs. BUF

Welker has fared very well in the team's last three meetings with the Bills (397 yards, 2 TDs), but after rolling his ankle in Week 8 against the Rams, there's reason for concern. With a bye week last week, he appears to have gotten plenty of rest and is ready to go, but I'm not completely sold. Not to mention Brady has plenty of other viable options and it wouldn't be surprising to see Welker get only a few targets.

TE

Owen Daniels, HOU vs. CHI

Daniels hurt his hamstring earlier in the season before injuring his hip last week vs. the Bills. Daniels' production has been there all season, but listed as questionable and expected to be a game-time call, it appears as though it'd be the safe bet to sit him and start a TE off your bench (if you even keep a second tight end on your roster) rather than risking it. Even if he does play he likely wont be as productive as he has been in recent weeks.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Performance of a Lifetime: TBs Doug Martin Puts up Greatest Single-Game Performance by a Rookie

Rookies ruled the NFL in yesterday's action, with two records being broken in fashion.

Indianapolis' Andrew Luck broke the single-game passing yards record with 433 yards in a 23-20 win over Miami's starting rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The previous record was 432, set by Carolina's Cam Newton a season ago.

Luck also posted his rookie record-tying fourth 300-yard game of the season, which tied Indy's Peyton Manning from 1998. With eight games left on the Colts' schedule, there's no doubt Luck will shred Manning's record by season's end.

But it wasn't Luck who stole the show, despite the gaudy numbers he posted and his team's current 5-3 record. No, it was a guy who wasn't expected to make an immediate impact when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected him with the 31st overall pick in last April's draft.

Doug Martin--the 5'9"/223 pound running back out of Boise State--ran for his first 100-yard game last week against the Minnesota Vikings. This week he one-upped himself with a franchise-record 251 yards and 4 TDs. In addition to being TB franchise records, they are also both rookie single-game records.
His astonishing performance has put him on the map, if his 135 yards, 1 TD performance on October 25 didn't already do so. What better way to put yourself on the map than to put up one of the 5 best fantasy performances of the last decade? He topped 50 in most leagues and, in the ESPN.com league I am in this season, he put up 60 points.

With a 10.0 yards/carry average on his 25 attempts against Oakland's defense, Martin is averaging over 5.0 yards/carry on the season and now has 794 yards and 7 TDs in 8 games.

Move over Luck and RGIII, Doug Martin is officially the man to beat in the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year race.

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

No Panic Button for Chargers: Slow Start in San Diego Follows Yearly Pattern

Just hours away from a Thursday night primetime match-up with AFC West rival Kansas City, the 2nd place San Diego Chargers (3-4) may find themselves in a must-win situation.

At 1-6, the Chiefs are virtually out of playoff contention as we approach Week 9 in the NFL, especially considering the Broncos and Peyton Manning appear to be heating up. The Chargers, however, find themselves in the heat of the race for the division title.

Philip Rivers' offense got off to a quick start to the season, beginning the season at 3-1 (including a 37-20 victory over these same Chiefs) with the lone loss coming to the still-undefeated Falcons. On defense, San Diego limited opponents to 17.8 points/game while putting up 25.0.

But since that Week 4 victory over KC, the Chargers have dropped three straight games, including a devastating 35-24 loss to Denver three Mondays ago and a 7-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns just last Sunday.

There didn't appear to be any reason for concern when the New Orleans Saints knocked off the Bolts by one touchdown in the beginning of October, but after blowing a 24-point halftime lead to the Broncos the following week, concern started building up.
To make things worse, the Chargers failed to re-group following the bye week and failed to put the ball into the end zone against a team (the 2-6 Browns) that has allowed the 4th-most yards, 10th-most points and 4th-most passing TDs in the entire league.

It's not like the Chargers didn't have run support against Cleveland, either. Running back Ryan Mathews, who, by the way, has finally appeared to be fully recovered from the broken collarbone suffered in August, ran for 95 yards on 24 attempts. But the struggling Rivers managed to complete just over half of his passes for 154 yards.

San Diego's 9th-best scoring defense and 8th-best total yardage defense did its job against rookie signal caller Brandon Weeden and the Browns, limiting them to just 250 total yards and one Trent Richardson touchdown. But Rivers failed to get anything going in terms of touchdown drives and two Nick Novak field goals is all San Diego came away with.

It's been clear that added pressure and lack of a true No. 1 receiver has really hurt the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback thus far in 2012. But, there's certainly a silver lining when it comes to Rivers' and San Diego offense's slow start: it can be overcome, and overcome rather quickly.

Ever since taking over the full-time starting role with the Chargers in 2006, the Bolts have struggled to pull away with a division lead through the first 7 games of the season. In fact, they're usually right around the current pace in terms of winning percentage. Just take a look:

Chargers' year-by-year records (thru first 7 games) since 2006: 5-2, 4-3, 3-4, 4-3, 2-5, 4-3, 3-4.
Total record (thru first 7 games) from 2006-12: 25-24 in seven seasons (average per year: 3.6-3.4)

How many postseason appearances over those 7 seasons? Four. With three double-digit win totals.
When it comes to Philip Rivers' numbers, everyone should be aware of his December/January breakout. Here's a look at his career regular season stats from September-November, compared with his December stats:

Pre-December: 77 games, 42-35 record, 245.0 yards/game, 1.6 TDs/game, 0.9 INTs/game
December/January (Regular season only): 31 games, 27-4 record (undefeated in January), 53 TDs, 18 INTs; 99.9 rating in Dec., 100.7 rating in Jan.

As a whole, San Diego's offense just plays better December football thanks in part to Rivers' elevated play. So, before you start rule the Chargers out of the race out Wes, keep in mind that Rivers is bound to turn this one around and improve on his current 82.4 rating (tied for his career-low as regular starter).

Despite being without top receivers Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal tonight (both inactive due to injury), San Diego's quest for its first postseason appearance since '09 begins with a victory over Kansas City.

Moral of the story: Never rule out the Chargers.

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