By George Kurtz
Yesterday was one of those days we have in our lives when we have to make a decision that we might think is tough, but is really a no-brainer for most people. A good friend of mine was getting married… on football Sunday. I haven’t missed a football Sunday since my oldest daughter was born (and I still watched the games while in the delivery room). On Sundays I wake up early, start taking in all the news, answer questions from the RotoExperts email queue and on Twitter, and just get everything set up for the games that day. I’ve known about the wedding for about two years (he warned us) but as the big day was getting close I wouldn’t have minded a snowstorm that forced me to stay home. The wedding itself was at 4:30 EST with the reception to follow at 5:30.
In my yard Saturday, after the RotoExperts Weekend Edition Fantasy Sports show on SiriusXM (plug), I worked out a plan that would let me have the best of both worlds. I wasn’t planning going to the wedding ceremony; this had nothing to do with football, even if the wedding was on a Saturday I still wouldn’t attend the ceremony. The reception was about 75 to 90 minutes from my house. I could watch all the early games Sunday, then leave once the last one ended (usually around 4:15 or so) and still make the reception on time. Well, it was all working out perfectly until A.J. Green caught the Hail Mary pass from Andy Dalton to send the Bengals/Ravens game into overtime. I recorded the three late games and the night game (as a Dallas fan I wish I hadn’t) and was up until 4am watching all the games. Am I crazy? Maybe, but at least I’m open and honest about it. Congratulations Gregg and Genesis. Now, let me share some thoughts about the Week 10 games.
All of a sudden Christian Ponder looks like a serviceable NFL quarterback again. Now, he did dislocate his shoulder during the game so he may not play this week anyway, but once again he is forcing the Vikings to make a decision. Without a true number one receiver it really isn’t fair to judge him. He’s never going to be a Fantasy stalwart with his best case scenario in standard leagues being a bye week or injury backup. Why he doesn’t really look Greg Jennings’ way is something we would all like to know. Perhaps Jennings has lost a step and is never open or maybe they just didn’t develop that chemistry that allows a passer/receiver combination to prosper.
I know that the loss of Julio Jones was a big one but the rest of Atlanta’s receiving weapons are back from injuries (Roddy White, Steven Jackson). Why does Matt Ryan still look so bad? Coming into this Fantasy season Ryan was considered a Top 5 QB, behind only Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and possibly Cam Newton – that’s it. He was 23 of 36 for only 172 yards during the home loss to the Seahawks, which was preceded by a 219-yard performance with three interceptions the week before. Maybe he just needs another week with White to get back in form, or maybe this is just a wasted season.
The Rams seem to have finally figured out how to exploit Tavon Austin’s talents. Photo Credit: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
When I heard during the middle of last week that the Bears were going to start Jay Cutler at quarterback, I automatically advised anyone who asked against starting him in Fantasy play. The reason being that this seemed to be a bit of a rush job. He was supposed to miss three or four weeks with the groin injury and instead only missed about 10 days. This had big red flags all over it. Unfortunately for me, by the time Sunday morning rolled around I had convinced myself that he would make it through the entire game, Josh McCown had played very well in relief of Cutler, so there really was no reason for the team to push for his return if he wasn’t 100 percent ready to go. I should’ve stayed with my original thoughts, as Cutler was hobbled early on and eventually had to be removed from the game. He is considered questionable to start in Week 11 at this time.
Who is Scott Tolzien? Anyone… anyone? If you had Aaron Rodgers as a starting QB and were forced to start Seneca Wallace this week due to the injury, you had to be banging your head against the wall when Wallace went down. Tolzien wasn’t terrible, 24 for 39 passing for 280 yards, but he’s not going to light up a Fantasy scoreboard either. I have my doubts about how quickly Rodgers will return. Broken clavicles generally don’t heal in just a couple of weeks. The Pack has already stated that Tolzien will start Week 11, but they are also bringing in Matt Flynn for a workout Monday. He knows the offense and could push Tolzien should he show off that knowledge this week in practice.
Congratulations to Jacksonville. I really don’t like to see anyone go winless for an entire season. The bad news for the Jags is that they are now behind the Bucs for the number one overall pick in next year’s NFL Entry Draft. A draft that figures to net one of these teams a franchise QB in Teddy Bridgewater.
Did the Rams finally figure out how to use Tavon Austin? Austin was supposed to be a major weapon in their offense this season, someone who would be a threat to take the rock to the house every time he touched the ball. Well, that hasn’t happened all that often this season, and quite a few Fantasy owners sent him to the waiver wire this week or planted him on the bench. Well, if you did start him, he had two long touchdown receptions and a punt returned for a score. Maybe the Colts just weren’t prepared for him or maybe the Rams finally figured out how to get the best out of his talent. I’m so looking forward to all of the Austin start/sit questions this week.
Watching Terrelle Pryor at quarterback yesterday was painful. He looked terrible. I know he is coming off a MCL injury and that is partially to blame, but what’s the excuse for staring down receivers and telegraphing to anyone watching exactly what you want to do with the ball? To put things nicely, he is a work in progress and if this injury truly is to blame for his subpar performance (I’m not buying that) then he has to be benched in Fantasy leagues until proven healthy again. He has more games this season with less than 130 yards passing (3) than he does with games of over 280 yards (2). Not to mention he hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since Week 6.
So Ben Roethlisberger has asked to be traded once again. This is not the first time, as Ben did the same thing after last season. He is just not meshing with the philosophy of offensive coordinator Todd Haley. The problem is twofold for Roethlisberger. First, it would seem unlikely that the Steelers could get enough of a return to justify dealing him. As for Haley, he was brought in by upper management to develop more of a short passing game. The Steelers were worried about all of Roethlisberger’s freelancing. Sure, it led to many big plays but it also led to injuries. Former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians wouldn’t adjust, so he was let go. If Roethlisberger can’t adjust either then perhaps it is best for the Steelers to move on.
Ray Rice Sunday – 18 rushes, 30 yards, a long of five yards, for a 1.7 YPC. What has happened here? Is the offensive line partially to blame? Yes, but there is just no explosion coming from Rice at all. He did catch six passes for 26 yards, including the big one to put the team in position to kick the game winning field goal in overtime, which saved his Fantasy day somewhat.
Those who think Michael Crabtree is going to save the 49ers passing game when he returns had better take a dose of reality. He’s coming off an Achilles tear and those usually take more than a full year before you are back at full strength. Sure, he will be on the field and defenses will have to account for him, but he’s not going to have the explosion that made him dangerous, and defenses are unlikely to pull any defenders off the line of scrimmage because they are worried about him getting over the top. If Vernon Davis (concussion) is forced to miss time, this offense could be in trouble.
So Arian Foster is gone for the season. Sure, this is terrible news for Fantasy owners but you can also look on the bright side; at least you don’t have to worry week in and week out whether or not he’s going to play. You can move on and make adjustments. If you handcuffed Foster with Ben Tate then your problem is solved. The season may be all but over for Houston but Tate has plenty to prove, as he will be a free agent after the season and is playing for a contract.
There is some concern about Peyton Manning. He will undergo a MRI on Monday for what is likely an ankle injury. Is he going to miss any game time? Probably not, but any loss of mobility for Manning in the pocket is cause for concern, especially with Denver scheduled to play the Chiefs twice in the next three weeks.
Why does it seem like the Cowboys get outcoached in every game? How come they can’t figure out a way to get the ball to Dez Bryant early in games regardless of the double teaming? The Lions get the ball to Calvin Johnson, the Bears to Brandon Marshall, the Bengals to Green, but Dallas can’t seem to figure this out. The Dallas defense is done. It’s finally catching up to the team that they are playing street free agents across the defensive line, and if Sean Lee is out for any amount of time with that hamstring injury, there might not be anyone left that can make a play.
Teams on bye this week are Dallas and St. Louis.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.
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