By George Kurtz
Week 6 was another tough one for Fantasy owners. Saints tight end Jimmy Graham not only put up a big fat zero in the reception department, but also underwent an MRI on his foot. There was a report earlier Monday that he will miss the next 8-10 weeks. That report is false and the good news (sort of), is that the Saints have a bye this week, so hopefully Jimmy will be able to return at full strength for Week 8. The Cowboys’ DeMarco Murray suffered a sprained MCL (shocking, I know) and will be out of action for at least this week’s game versus the Eagles (a battle for first place in the NFC Least). Murray was having a solid season and will be missed, as running backs are becoming harder and harder to come by this season. Good luck to those Fantasy owners that will try to figure out who will start for Dallas at RB. Joseph Randle is likely to start with Lance Dunbar still hurting. Life in Green Bay was rough this week also as the Pack lost two of their top three receivers in Randall Cobb and James Jones. Jones (PCL) looks like he could play Sunday but Cobb (fibula) went on short-term IR. This is how a Fantasy team can go from the penthouse to the outhouse in a big hurry. Let’s take a look back at the rest of Week 6.
The Giants are a complete mess. Running back David Wilson, who has been terrible anyway, is out three to four weeks with a neck injury. Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks may or may not be on the trade block. Eli Manning is throwing what seems like more interceptions than completions and the defense couldn’t stop a local flag football team. Even in the watered down NFC East they are a laughingstock. Is there any good news? Brandon Jacobs looks like he has turned the clock back about five years. He actually rushed for over 100 yards versus the Bears and is a legitimate pickup in Fantasy leagues.
Jordy Nelson now faces more defensive attention. Photo Credit: Chris Voss 
Fantasy owners shouldn’t have been surprised about Alshon Jeffery being a dud this past week. Sure, he had the big week versus the Saints in Week 5, but after that game his counterpart Brandon Marshall actually complained about the ball not going in his direction enough. It shouldn’t have come as a shock that Jay Cutler looked Marshall’s way an awful lot last Thursday.
Thad Lewis actually played pretty well at QB for Buffalo but also suffered a foot injury, making his availability this week questionable. The team signed Matt Flynn (insert joke here) to cover themselves in case Lewis can’t go. Steve Johnson missed the game with a back injury that just didn’t loosen up. If Johnson can go this week, that can only help Lewis/Flynn, Jim Kelly, Joe Ferguson or anyone else Buffalo wants to put behind center.
Calvin Johnson is still not anywhere near 100% healthy. He only played 38 of 74 snaps against Cleveland and only had three receptions for 25 yards. Sure he had Joe Haden covering him and Haden might be the best CB in the NFL, but those numbers indicate just how much of a hindrance this injury is. Listen, there isn’t much you can do if you own him. If the Lions are starting him, then so are you, but you might be well-served to curb your expectations for a little while.
Do we have a QB controversy brewing in Philadelphia? Nick Foles was pretty much outstanding versus the Bucs. He went 22-31 for 296 yards and three touchdowns. He even ran for a score. Does he have the playmaking ability that Mike Vick possesses? No, not many do, but Foles does seem to make better decisions than Vick does. It’s not like the Bucs defense is porous. That secondary is one of the best in the game and Foles pretty much shredded it. At the very least one would think that coach Chip Kelly won’t be in a rush to re-insert Vick as the starter until he is sure Vick is 100% healthy. I do have to wonder though if Foles keeps the job should the Eagles defeat the Cowboys on Sunday.
As mentioned about the Packers, the receiving corps took a huge hit with the injuries to Jones and Cobb. Jones as a sprained PCL and will more than likely be listed as questionable for Sunday while Cobb is out 6-8 weeks with a fractured fibula. The biggest beneficiary to these injuries, besides the teams the Pack are going against, are Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Jermichael Finley. They will be the main targets for Aaron Rodgers. Jarrett Boykin should also be added to your Fantasy roster if available. It also shouldn’t surprise anyone if the Packers rely more on the running game in the near future. They do have a solid stable of backs in Eddie Lacy, Jonathan Franklin, and James Starks (when he gets over his own knee injury).
It’s only a matter of time now until the Texans bench Matt Schaub. The decision may have already been made for Gary Kubiak if the leg injury Schaub suffered keeps him off the field this week. The problem is this for Houston: They play the Chiefs on Sunday, in Kansas City. That’s not exactly the place you want to start T. J. Yates, plus the Texans have a bye in Week 8. It might be best to start Schaub this week and then make the move to Yates during the bye week to give the team two full weeks to prepare him. Either way, the passing game will take a hit, and even the running game could have some issues as opposing defenses could stack the line of scrimmage to stop Foster and force Yates to beat them.
The Chiefs defense is for real boys and girls. Normally when the bye comes around for my DST, I just throw my DST into the waiver wire pool and pick up the next best one. Well with KC, I’ll eat up a bench spot to make sure I can start them week in and week out after the bye.
Matt Cassel was awful against the Panthers. Sure his completion percentage looks good, as he went 32-44, but that was only for 241 yards. That’s an average of 5.5 yards per completion. That is the definition of checkdown Charlie. I would have to think it would be an upset if Cassel were to start this week. Christian Ponder could get one last chance to prove he deserves the job or the team could hand the reins to the recently signed, Josh Freeman, if they feel he is ready. As for Adrian Peterson, I’m not knocking him for playing two days after the tragic death of his son. I played a hockey game the night of my father’s funeral, we all deal with grief in our own way.
In a PPR league, Antonio Brown is looking like gold. Is there anyone else that big Ben looks for? The running game, even with the return of Le’Veon Bell is average at best, and Heath Miller isn’t the same player yet after coming back from knee surgery. Brown could be a candidate to catch over 100 balls this season and in PPR leagues, that is monstrous.
I was guilty of taking a flier on Sidney Rice in a couple of leagues. Well, that was a crash and burn as it looks like both Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate are higher in the pecking order than Rice. Off to the waiver wire you go.
How good is Justin Blackmon? I just turned down a team that offered me Chris Johnson for him in a PPR league. Perhaps this tells us more about Johnson than Blackmon. With Cecil Shorts missing most of the game versus Denver, Justin had 14 receptions on 20 targets. While he certainly won’t see that many looks in his direction each week, he still looks like someone who is good for 7-8 catches each week, and that is just too much for me to trade away for a RB who has done little now over the past year and a half.
Do you think Bronco fans are a little spoiled? They actually booed the team at halftime because they only had a two-point lead. Fantasy owners probably weren’t any happier when Peyton Manning “only” ended up with 295 yards passing and two touchdowns. Knowshon Moreno, who is a must-play week in and week out, hit paydirt three times. Moreno only rushed for 42 yards on the day, but no one will remember that. When the Broncos have their bye week (9), many a Fantasy owner is going to cry.
This is what makes roster decisions so tough: The Cardinals had a late start Sunday. News came out at about noon that Larry Fitzgerald may not play. There were certainly strong vibes leaning that way. Being the conservative player I am, I took him out of my lineups. I hate to take a zero when I knew beforehand that there could be a problem. What happened? Fitzgerald not only played, but caught six balls for 117 yards and a TD. Granted, 75 of those yards came on one play, but still, this is what makes me want to take a long walk, off a short pier. Oh well, have to get back on the horse. I spoke last week about Andre Ellington, he is the man you want in that backfield.
How does Jimmy Graham end up with a zero in Fantasy leagues? The Patriots used their top cornerback, Aqib Talib, to shadow him on most downs. This is not something new, as other teams have tried this (Miami did it on the Monday night game) but Talib was extremely physical and the officials let him get away with it. Talib was so effective that Drew Brees rarely looked Graham’s way after the first quarter.
I don’t know what to say about Rob Gronkowski. Now we are hearing he may miss two more weeks or may play Sunday. No matter what, he wasn’t worth the fourth-round pick you spent on him. Not unless you’re pretty much guaranteed a playoff spot anyway and can reap his benefits when he is at full strength later this season. There is some good news, however, when it comes to the Patriots. Stevan Ridley finally looked like the player we thought he was when we drafted him in the third round with 96 rushing yards and two touchdowns. It looks like it’s time to get him back into our lineups as a RB2 at the very least.
Robert Griffin III was both good and bad against the Cowboys. The good, he was running more than we have seen him yet this season. I wouldn’t say he had the same explosion as last season, but still he looked dangerous. His accuracy, howeve,r left something to be desired. Several passes seemed to float on him and he missed several open receivers with bad throws.
Teams on bye this week are Oakland and New Orleans.
As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.
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