Nov 11

Inside the Locker Room, NFL Week 10 Review: A look at Sunday’s action

Thanks for checking out the text-version of our NFL Week 10 review. We’ll be broadcasting live from Shark Club Yonge-Dundas at 6:30pm Eastern on Monday Night. Come back and check us out on air.

Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery have each had back to back great games, regardless of the QB (Photo: David Banks/Getty Images)

Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery have each had back to back great games, regardless of the QB (Photo: David Banks/Getty Images)

With his second consecutive solid season, Brandon Marshall isn’t getting enough credit as one of the game’s elite WRs. To start Chicago’s game against Detroit, Marshall took over the opening drive catching three straight balls for 61 yards including great focus on a TD catch going to the ground. Thereafter the Lions rolled double coverage his way and Jay Cutler worked with Alshon Jeffery for the rest of the half… until Detroit’s secondary didn’t know which one of them to double. Both players came up big for the Bears in a comeback that fell just short.

Cutler looked good early in his return from a groin injury but re-aggravated things at some point in the first half. For what its worth, Cutler is saying that it was a new ankle injury and not his groin injury that hindered his mobility. As we learned today, even in the loss, it doesn’t matter to Chicago a) which of these two is catching the ball and b) who is throwing it to them. The Bears offense, under Marc Trestman, is making great use of their two big-bodied matchup nightmare receivers. Today, they saw 30 targets between them including a career high 18 for Jeffery. In terms of action items, again, regardless of QB Jeffery is well inside my WR top 20. As an owner, it is my hope that the ankle/groin injury actually projects to cost Cutler a couple of weeks leaving a sliver of buy low opportunity as it relates to Alshon.

  • Nick Foles’ first touchdown pass, thrown to DeSean Jackson, was perhaps an ill advised throw as it came up a little short and the WR was double covered… but, he took a shot deep and sometimes that helps pay the fantasy bills. Foles would later find Riley Cooper for a score, and while he wasn’t involved as frequently as he was last week, the Foles-Cooper connection lives. Of interest, this TD was similar… Cooper was double covered and the pass required a significant adjustment from the recever. Without taking anything away from what he’s doing with the Eagles offense, I’m shocked that Foles has gone through the season without an interception to date.  Cooper came up limping after the score causing some concern, but later returned to the game and to the endzone – scoring from 32 yards on a play where he was left wide open by Green Bay defenders after a nice cutback to the sideline.
  • A week after giving up 50 points to the Eagles, the Raiders defense was all over Eli Manning from the first whistle this week, creating a ton of pressure. They’d done the same in Week 8 as well sandwiching an ugly game with reasonably strong outings. The Oakland/New York tilt didn’t exactly give us a bounty of useful QB play. Between them, Terrelle Pryor and Eli Manning completed less than 50% of their passes, for 262 yards, one score and three turnovers. Manning’s outing is particularly damning coming off a bye, against a defenes that gave up seven scores a week ago. Through the Giants’ struggles I’d been ranking Victor Cruz as a WR1 pretty much every week, but I don’t think that’s a position I can support any more. He had lots of volume today, with ten targets, but if the offense isn’t getting it done it doesn’t matter.
  • Before Peyton Hillis fumbled, he started the game and had two touches to Andre Brown’s three. Afterwards, the workload tilted entirely toward Brown, finishing 31-6. While no one projected a workload of that size for Brown coming into the week, his conditioning appears just fine and there should be no reason to assume he’ll be anything but the workhorse the rest of the way. His 115 rushing yard performance, with a nearly uncontested touchdown, is a welcome addition to the Giants run game and he’ll be a useable RB2 or better the rest of the way. Per above, if Eli can start putting together even remotely respectable passing games he’ll have more to run, but, I’m not counting on that. On the other side, Rashad Jennings totalled 117 yards and played well while spelling the injured Darren McFadden, but, he didn’t score a TD so fantasy owners likely didn’t notice. If the DMC injury lingers you could do much worse than Jennings’ productive runs.
  • On a personal woe-is-me note I bought Seneca Wallace, a ‘great value play’, this week in numerous daily leagues. In case you missed it, Wallace hurt his groin after give attempts. Scott Tolzien entered the game, and while he threw two interceptions (one tipped) he kept the chains moving for the Packers and has already been named the team’s starter for Week 11. He helped keep Jarrett Boykin relevant, too – perhaps due to time spent while the starters were getting their reps in practice. Eddie Lacy received his standard workload and posted 84 total yards but clearly will struggle to post big weeks with opposing defenses keying on him instead of the pass.
  • Joe Flacco’s first half interception may have been the worst decision I saw this week. Why he would throw it, on 3rd down while in the grasp without a receiver open, I have no idea. Take the sack, punt the ball, move on.
  • I didn’t watch a lot of the Colts/Rams game but I did turn my head over that way enough to see a Darrius Heyward-Bey drop on 3rd down. He simply is not consistent enough to warrant using in all but the deepest of leagues despite his great situation.
Tavon Austin spent his day running away from the Colts, but, with just three targets it was a curious fantasy day (Photo: AJ Mast/AP).

Tavon Austin spent his day running away from the Colts, but, with just three targets it was a curious fantasy day (Photo: AJ Mast/AP).

  • Tavon Austin had his best day as a pro, annihilating his season to date punt return average and scoring a 57 yard touchdown. The TD pass came on a surprise play call from the Colts on 3rd and 7 but Austin simply roasted Vontae Davis on a one move go route. I’m not all in on him yet – it’s been a rough season to date – but if he continues to get opportunities as part of the gameplan he can be a contributor down the stretch. Austin picked up where  he left off in the second half, making a great catch over the middle where he, again, gained huge separation against his defender. Austin displayed the open field skills we all were excited about coming into the season, cutting back inside and outmanoeuvring the safety on his way to the endzone. Clearly, you’ve got to check your wire to see if Austin’s owner had given up on his year… but, he had just three total targets so he won’t be a guaranteed useful play even if he builds on this game and starts getting the ball on deep routes.
  • After another score this week, we need to at least give some consideration to Jerricho Cotchery. Many were willing to write off last week’s 3 TD performance as a result of game context and a bit of luck, but, he drew another redzone target this week and turned it into a five yard touchdown.
  • I’m happy that I was the third lowest fantasy pros ranker on Andrew Luck this week. Jeff Fischer’s defense is legit, and, the Rams have to start being considered as a team that you avoid when other options are available. The amount of pressure they get on opposing QBs can clearly throw off a whole offense, as we saw today. Andrew Luck was clearly affected… he played poorly for most of the game and was just making bad decisions. His 3rd quarter interception to James Laurinaitis was one such occasion… there was no one in the area.
  • Charles Tillman traditionally plays Calvin Johnson tough and made one great play on a slant in particular, but with a reception on an endzone fade along with a 4th quarter score on another touch pass from Matthew Stafford – and a solid game otherwise, Johnson paid off for his owners as he does more often than not. In fairness to Chicago’s defense, they allowed Johnson to make just 6 catches on 17 targets.
  • LeSean McCoy had his best game with Nick Foles as starter, finishing with 155 yards rushing on 25 carries. A positive sign for those concerned that having a less mobile QB behind center would impact the holes available for the Eagles back.
  • Chris Johnson did little, and lost a crucial fumble, while posting a pedestrian 77 total yards. He joined Spiller in a disappointing week for CJ’s expected to build on strong play from Week 9. Ryan Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, isn’t looking like a downgrade for Tennessee’s receivers. Well, receiver, in terms of fantasy relevance as you’re likely only starting Kendall Wright. Wright had a nice day, very serviceable in PPR, with seven catches on nine targets but he’ll continue to underwhelm if he can’t find the endzone.
  • In an unpredictable twist, the Jags controlled the game against Tennessee and thus Cecil Shorts and Mike Brown had just four targets and two catches apiece. I’m still behind them as great volume plays, though.
  • A.J. Green struggled through a quiet first half against the Ravens and would have wound up with an unremarkable sub-100 yard game were it not for his gift TD to take the game to overtime. That’s not on Green though, as Andy Dalton played four poor quarters in the face of Baltimore’s relentless pressure. He was sacked five times, and threw three interceptions (on the other side, Flacco tried hard to give the game away with two picks of his own). Marvin Jones – last month’s darling – caught just one ball on seven targets. Torrey Smith struggled, generally speaking, against Cincinnati which has happened more often than not during his career. With a TD catch and 10 fantasy points, the line was just fine, but he struggled against coverage and caught just 35.7% of his passes.
  • Ryan Mathews shook off an injury to have a productive day on 14 carries for San Diego, making his limited use last week even harder to explain. This week, it was Woodhead who (with ten touches) had a less than anticipated workload. In three of four games Mathews has had more than 10 fantasy points and a 4+ YPC average.
  • Cam Newton, who I’d ranked at 5 and listed as start worthy despite the matchup, started 2/11 with an interception against San Francisco. At the final buzzer, he and Colin Kaepernick finished with 260 yards passing, 33 rushing yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions which would have made for a terrible fantasy day if the line belonged to just one of them, let alone both.
  • Trent Richardson had a terrible day against St. Louis. He didn’t get a lot of opportunities because the game was out of hand almost immediately, but with five carries for two yards he’s not helping your fantasy team and he’s killing the Colts. Donald Brown, meanwhile, didn’t run the ball well at all but he contributed as a receiver. He’s got reasonable FLEX value, particularly if the Colts snap out of it with Richardson and let Brown get the bulk of the work.
    • Speaking of preseason top-12 backs who have disappointed… I expressed my desire to cut-ties with Ray Rice in a number of places this week and that holds after this week’s game. Rice was a key contributor on Baltimore’s game winning drive in overtime, so good for him, but he was still awful. Rice carried 18 times for 30 yards, his second consecutive game held under 2 yards per carry. What is different this weekend is that Bernard Pierce actually looked decent running behind the Ravens line – his stats won’t blow you away, but he was quicker getting to the hole than Rice – so it looks like that excuse doesn’t fly this week.
  • It’s time we face it. Atlanta is a fantasy wasteland. There was a lot of propaganda coming into the game about how Roddy White was finally back to health, etc. Now, he won’t face the legion of boom every week but with just one catch for 20 yards and hardly showing the mobility that would be expected of someone who was fully healthy, I’m ready to walk away from White. Likewise, with nine carries for 11 yards Steven Jackson was a mess. He’s not a start, unless in the ripest of fantasy matchups.
  • Golden Tate’s score was a thing of beauty, and he played a solid game in general for Seattle. He’s playing good football in recent weeks – strong enough to hold onto most of his reps when Percy Harvin returns to the lineup, which looks like next week. Marshawn Lynch had another 27 touches and 20 plus fantasy points. Big workloads and scoring totals are just par for the course.
  • Le’Veon Bell is working hard to have the plodding, sub 3 YPC line that is saved by a few catches and a touchdown named after him ala baseball’s Mendoza line. 96 total yards and a score on 25 touches looks a lot better on your box score than it does on film.
  • After all the C.J. Spiller is back to normal talk, his week was extremely underwhelming – particularly against a generous fantasy RB defense. Spiller saw four fewer touches than Fred Jackson and didn’t do a whole lot while he had the ball. He started the game looking like he was going to be featured, but, didn’t really get it rolling. I still think he’s on the RB2 radar on a weekly basis but I’m not excited about him and I shouldn’t have been so this week.
  • The Texans fell to the Cardinals but we’ve received full confirmation that Case Keenum plans on keeping Andre Johnson fantasy relevant. Against an Arizona secondary that had allowed just one WR1 to post more than 12 fantasy points until today (Calvin Johnson). With Keenum slinging it, all of Houston’s receivers get an upgrade.
  • Rashard Mendenhall lost a fumble, again, and at a crucial moment no less. Despite coach Bruce Arians’ proclamation that the Cardinals would look to get Andre Ellington 20 touches a game moving forward, he had 13 opportunities to Mendenhall’s 14. With Mendenhall having issues with ball security and Ellington proving to be the more effective runner Arians’ statement should eventually be made correct, though his dedication to Mendenhall remained this week. Ellington’s 73 total yards were serviceable, but could work toward 100 or better if he gets to the 15-18 touch level.

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