Week 5: Fantasy Blitzkrieg
Every week during the season, I will throw out some quick observations of the previous NFL week. With the invention of the DVR and Directv’s ‘Quick Bits’, I am able to watch almost every snap of every game and give you a lightning ‘blitz’ war ‘krieg’ to bring to your fantasy league for domination. Bring on the games!
Momentum is very important and when this game started the Titans were on the way up and when the game finished, it was the Steelers that had found their way. Chris Johnson ran well early, but the Steelers ended up locking him down after the second series. CJ250 finished with 51 yards on the ground and a TD. Matt Hasselbeck did all he could dinking and dunking down the field. Hasselbeck threw 49 times and completed 29 of them for 262 yards and threw a TD to Damien Williams. Williams finished with 6 catches for 66 yards and may very well be the #2 WR in town. The Steelers shifted momentum on special teams with the arm of a punter and the hands of a reserve safety as the fake punt generated excitement and sparked the Steelers offense. Ben Roethlisberger was limping around the entire game, but that didn’t stop him from throwing 5 TDs for 228 yards. New old OT Max Starks held his own after 9 months away from football. Mike Wallace didn’t get back to his 100 yards, but he did chip in 6 catches for 82 yards and a TD. Hines Ward showed the youngsters Antoinio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders how to play with 2 TD catches! Issac Redman ran like he was Rudi Johnson (no-nonsense), but got banged up. Jonathan Dwyer ran for 107 yards on 11 carries, but please remember 76 yards came on one run. Rashard Mendenhall owners should be happy as well, because the o-line is running blocking better.
The next game, the hoodie vs. the mouth, was everything we weren’t expecting: a ground game was featured by both sides, Welker still got over 100 yards, Sanchez didn’t throw for 300? The Jets committed to running the ball behind Shonn Greene who finished with 92 combined yards and a TD, as Tomlinson does not look to be a fantasy factor any more. Mark Sanchez had a 61% completion rate and threw for 166 yards with 2 TDs. Darrelle Revis spent a lot of time on Wes Welker, but Welker managed to get 5 catches for 125 yards. Yes 77 yards of that was on a broken play, but he did find a way to keep the ball moving. BJGE helped the Patriots power their way over the Jets with 27-136 yards and 2 TDs. The Patriots tight ends spent some significant time blocking, much of that had to do with the health of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. I expect them to be used more next week and beyond. Tom Brady once again threw for over 300 yards and a TD pass to Deon Branch.
The Falcons vs. the Packers game is the reason I watch every game in its entirety, instead of staying up for the first half and watching the rest in the morning. The Falcons were firing on all cylinders on their first two drives by using a good balance of runs and passes keeping the Packers on their toes. The Packers suffered early injuries to their o-line that made them seem to be greatly wounded. Roddy White had 6 catches for 50 yards and a TD, but Julio Jones hurt his hamstring and left the field before the end of the first half. Michael Turner ran hard for 56 yards and a TD and Tony Gonzalez had 6-60 yards receiving, but that was not enough to stave off Aaron Rodgers’s aerial assault. Rodgers had 396 yards and 2 TDs with a 70 yard TD pass to James Jones. Jones finished with 5 catches for 140 yards and that TD. Jermichael Finley looked inconsistent dropping a TD. Finley did catch 4 for 67 yards of his 7 targets. Unfortunately the Packers were not effective running the ball as they finished with a collective 57 yards on 20 carries. If you want to jump on the James Jones merry-go-round, it’s your head. I won’t.
The Raiders and Texans game weighted heavily with emotion for Al Davis. Maybe it was the spirit of Mr. Davis that got the Texans off their game. Matt Schaub completed 47% of his passes for 416 yards with 2 TDs and 2 interceptions. Arian Foster did everything he could by getting 184 yards on 27 combined touches. The Texans TEs also came up big as reserve Joel Dreessen had 5-112 yards and a TD, while Owen Daniels had 7 catches for 89 yards. Thor aka James Casey suffered a pectoral injury and did not get a chance to contribute. On the Raiders side, let’s go with what was working in previous games that didn’t work vs. the Texans: Darren McFadden had 19 touches for 68 yards and rookie Denarius Moore was targeted 6 times, but could not make a single catch. Jason Campbell suffered from Moore’s and others drops finishing with 190 yards and 2 TDs with a 43% completion rate. Darrius Heyward-Bey showed the world why Mr. Davis drafted him high, as he had 7 receptions for 99 yards and a TD. Safety Michael Huff was the Raiders hero by intercepting Schaub in the end zone to finish the game.
The Panthers had more fight in them than the Saints probably realized. The new star of the Panthers was an old one named DeAngelo Williams. He took direct snaps and handoffs like it was 2008. Williams finished with 9 carries for 115 yards and a 70 yard TD! Cam Newton, not to be outdone, had 3 TDs (2 in the air and 1 on the ground). Newton only completed 51% of his passes while throwing for 224 yards and adding another 27 yards on the ground. Steve Smith caught 3 passes for 79 yards and a TD and Jonathan Stewart slowed down with 6 carries for 20 yards giving way to D-Will. Sometimes I really hate having both D-Will and J-Stew on the same fantasy squad. Marques Colston showed up ready to play with 5 catches on 6 targets for 69 yards. Darren Sproles continued to muddy the water for all Saints offensive skilled players not named Jimmy with 91 yards on 16 touches. Rookie Mark Ingram finally scored his first TD finishing with 48 total yards, but got sniped again by his fullback at the goal line. Jimmy Graham has decided to tip passes to himself and others, but he did manage to catch 8 of his 12 targets for 129 yards. Drew Brees threw for 359 yards with 2 TDs and 1 of Graham’s tips became an interception, but I believe Brees will forgive him.
The “Battle for Luck” had more offensive firepower than anyone had initially thought. The Colts started the game on fire, leading 17-0. Curtis Painter looked more relaxed out there completing 56% of his passes for 277 yards and 2 TDs. Any guesses who those 2 TDs went to? That’s right, Pierre Garcon, had 5 receptions for 125 yards and those 2 TDs. Garcon ran through broken coverage for his long TD catch. Joseph Addai got hurt early and the Colts gave rookie Delone Carter a chance to run the ball. He did not come out as big as us fantasy owners would have liked, 14 touches for 34 yards and a TD, but he doesn’t have a good o-line blocking for him and has very little wiggle. Dallas Clark did almost nothing to help the cause as he dropped 4 out of his 5 targets. Matt Cassel more than helped out the Chiefs cause, he brought the Chiefs back. His 71% completion rate for 257 yards and 4 TDs won the game. Steve Breaston made the most out of his 5 targets by catching 4 for 50 yards and 2 of those TDs. Unlikely hero, reserve RB Jackie Battle, got 21 touches for 140 yards. Battle looked like another big bodied RB similar to Oakland’s Michael Bush out there. Let’s face it Dexter McCluster is a specialist and should have limited touches. The fantasy superstar was Dwayne Bowe who had 7 catches for 128 yards and 2 TDs. Bowe was great with after the reception yardage and made a circus catch in the end zone after being interfered. Keep starting him, unless he is on bye, like this week.
The Jags vs. the Bengals was likely to be a low scoring affair, but it didn’t turn out that way. MJD ran well, rushing for 85 yards on 19 carries and scored a TD. For whatever reason, he is not being used in the passing game. Jason Hill looked good as he had his best Jags game with 5 receptions for 118 yards and a TD. Rookie Blaine Gabbert looked more comfortable completing 53% of his passes for 221 yards and a TD, but had a lot of drops. Marcedes Lewis bobbled 2 receptions in the end zone on 2 separate drives that could have turned 2 field goals into 2 TDs. The Bengals never gave up as they converted two 4th and 6 plays to keep drives alive. One of those drives led to a Jermaine Gresham TD with 14 seconds left in the first half. Andy Dalton had a fair day completing 64% of his passes for 179 yards with 2 TDs and 1 pick. AJ Green, ever the hero, had 5 catches for 90 yards and a TD. Any owner that got him top 3 in a rookie draft is dancing a jig now!
The Eagles vs. the Bills looked like it could be a blowout thanks to Vick’s mistakes, but then Vick put his best efforts to bring the Eagles back. Michael Vick was very productive for the Philly offense (air and ground) and for the Buffalo field position (4 interceptions). Vick completed 65% of his passes for 315 yards, threw 2 TDs, and ran for 90 yards on 5 carries. Buffalo LB Nick Barnett had 2 of the interceptions and returned 1 for a TD. Brent Celek was a huge disappointment 2 weeks in a row catching 1 for 6 yards on 5 targets. Jason Avant had a huge day catching 9 out of 10 targets for 139 yards, while DeSean Jackson had 5 receptions for 86 yards and a TD. LeSean McCoy did his part finishing with 107 total yards and a TD. The Bills played this game to win as they used Brad Smith in the wildcat, and ran Ryan Fitzpatrick up the middle to catch the Philly D off guard. The “Amish Rifle” Fitzpatrick is giving way to the fantasy force known as Fred Jackson. Jackson had 26 carries for 111 yards and a TD, while adding 6 receptions for 85 yards. David Nelson is disappearing as he had 2 targets and caught 1 for a 6 yard TD, that’s a fall from grace.
The next game was an old-fashioned butt-whopping. The 49ers handed it to the Bucs. LaGarrette Blount couldn’t get going as he finished with 10 carries for 34 yards. Mike Williams aka Tampa Mike caught 4 passes for 28 yards on 9 targets and was smashed while making one of the catches as he fumbled it away. Old man Kellen Winslow was the bright spot catching 5 for 54 yards. 49ers CB Carlos Rogers looked good taking a pick to the house. Alex Smith barely completed 50% of his passes and only passed for 170 yards, but finished with 3 TDs all to his tight ends. 2 TDs went to Vernon Davis and the other one to reserve TE Delanie Walker. The 49ers running game worked well with Frank Gore running for 125 yards on 20 carries and a TD, while Kendall Hunter added another 65 yards on 9 carries. The middle of the Tampa team was easy to run through due to an injury to DL Gerald McCoy.
If you thought a second half QB change would spark the Broncos, you must have loved this game. Willis McGahee ran like a man possessed, rushing for 125 yards on 16 carries. The Broncos got an early spark from CB Cassius Vaughn who had a long interception TD return thanks to Rivers. Later, Kyle Orton returned that favor by throwing a pass that looked like a fluttering duck that got intercepted. Denver’s receivers and the Charger defense were always waiting on Orton’s passes to arrive. Orton got benched for Tim Tebow to start the second half. Tebow fired up the Broncos as a whole and finished with 4-10 attempts for 79 yards passing, a passing TD, 38 yards on the ground, and a rushing TD. Eric Decker and Brandon Lloyd combined for 3 catches for 16 yards on 9 targets. Good thing Tebow found a way to use everyone as the TEs and Knowshon Moreno combined for 7 catches for 97 yards and a TD. Phillip Rivers looked shaky in this game with a fumble and an interception. River’s 250 yards, rushing TD, passing TD, and 62% completion rate were enough to hold off the Broncos. Malcolm Floyd finally came through for fantasy owners with 3 catches for 100 yards and a TD. Floyd just missed out catching a shorter TD earlier. Ryan Matthews ran hard, left the field, and came back to finish with 24 carries for 125 yards.
Monday Night Football was back in Detroit and the fans, including myself, were disappointed with the sloppy, ugly, and penalty-filled first half. Jay Cutler stood strong in the pocket throwing for 28-38 attempts for 249 yards and a TD. Cutler was knocked around 6 times and got sacked 3 times. The other bright spots for Chicago were Matt Forte, 151 yards on 26 touches, and Dane Sanzenbacher, who had the most targets (10), the most receptions (6), and 64 yards. Other than the win, the Lions most important stat continued as Calvin Johnson had his 9th TD catch of the year along with 5 catches for 130 yards. Jahvid Best had a very deceiving night as he finished with 12 carries for 163 yards rushing and a TD. Two of Best’s carries were for 132 yards (88 yard TD run and a 44 yard run). Brandon Pettigrew had a decent night catching Matthew Stafford’s second TD finishing with 39 yards on 4 receptions. Stafford threw for 19-26 attempts for 219 yards and the above 2 TD passes with 1 interception. The Lions kept on rolling.