'The NFL Beat': Week 10
Raiders RB Darren McFadden blew a tire Week 9 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what turned out to be a case of the five syllables that fantasy owners hate the third-most. The Gold and Silver medal winners for this dubious distinction are "Dr. James Andrews" and "Lisfranc Injury."
Run DMC took home the bronze Sunday: "the high-ankle sprain."
I also told you to pick up his backup, former Texas A&M standout Mike Goodson, before the game started in the likely event that this injury would occur.
But fantasy football has a way of humbling you, as does giving expert advice regarding said obsession. Mike Goodson came into the game and promptly did what Mike Goodson does. Get hurt. He took home the same five-syllable bronze medal of fantasy misery as McFadden, exiting shortly upon entering with a high-ankle sprain injury.
Which brings us to the present. The moment in which we must live; especially you 5-4, 4-5, and 3-6 owners. This is the final push, and I stand by what I have always said. Fantasy champions are made through the home stretch and the hot teams entering their fantasy playoffs usually win, regardless of their standing (or lack of) throughout the season.
Can you believe it? Just yesterday our 2012 NFL season was a little baby boy with curly, gold locks of hair who crapped his pants and shoved Spaghetti-O's up his nose. Today he came home past curfew with a tattoo and smells like cigarettes. There are serious issues to be addressed.
This is "The NFL Beat."
Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens
We've established that starting Raiders RBs Darren McFadden and backup Mike Goodson are both out for Week 10 at Baltimore.
To say that Ravens fans and team officials alike are disappointed with Baltimore's defensive play this season is like saying that I was disappointed when Guns n' Roses released The Spaghetti Incident.
Fantasy owners in need of bye-week help at the RB position should exploit this matchup by leaving this page right now (then hopefully coming back to read the rest), and picking up Raiders RB/FB Marcel Reece. Your league mates will think the play is third-string RB Taiwan Jones, an explosive talent known just as well as a fumbler and an injury risk as he is a playmaker.
Reece has posted at least eight fantasy points in standard leagues in 21% of games played in his career. This is a fullback in a shared backfield with Darren McFadden and, until 2012, Michael Bush. Reece has never, never once, received more than eight touches in one game.
Reece is an explosive playmaker built like a fullback at 6 feet 3 inches, 240 pounds that played WR in college at Washington and is utilized heavily in the intermediate passing and screen games. He also runs a fantastic deep curl that can exploit the one-high safety looks the Ravens will roll opposite to Denarius Moore's side.
Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers
Fantasy owners are going to roll with their regular starters in this game, but I will say this to owners of Packers TE Jermichael Finley: Finley is on bye this week, and you must roster a different TE. This should be an eye-opening and pleasing experience for you. Points can, in fact, be scored from the TE position and used on your fantasy roster. After this week, you may actually elect not to start Finley after seeing that production could be had elsewhere.
I told you four weeks ago to grab Brandon Myers of the Raiders, but if he is unavailable by now take a look at Broncos TE Joel Dreessen in this game. Carolina represents my 10th-best matchup of 2012 thus far for fantasy TEs, and Dreessen is a predominant red-zone and hurry-up package target in a high-powered offense.
New York Giants at Cincinnati Bengals
A.J. Green was poised for a monster season and I knew it. I love Green in this matchup, and I am higher on Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham than I have been all season. I simply do not give much respect to the Giants LBs as a coverage unit, and their overall defensive scheme does not seem to dictate help from the improved play of New York's safety position against the bunch sets that Gresham will drag out of to rack up yards.
Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins
It looks like Titans second-year QB Jake Locker is coming back from injury in Week 10. This development was met with about as much fanfare in Nashville as a surprise Jesse McCartney performance at the local Lions Club: "Who is this kid? We didn't pay for this, did we?"
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
I let you in on my "No. 2-WR-against-the-Vikings" theory last week, and I hope it paid off big for you when you started Seahawks WR Golden Tate, as I did in numerous leagues, who had an extreme outlier two-TD performance.
In previous consecutive weeks it was Andre Roberts, then Mike Williams who shined while their "No. 1" counterparts in Larry Fitzgerald and Vincent Jackson fizzled.
While I do not think Lions No.1 WR Calvin Johnson will struggle in Week 10, this trend needs to be paid close attention to. Owners facing a pickle in their flex position may want to take a look at Lions WRs Titus Young Sr. or Ryan Broyles as high-upside plays against a reeling Minnesota defensive group.
Keep in mind, however, that the Minnesota defense put up an absolutely nasty fantasy monster in Detroit Week 4. Whether the Vikings can get back to that pace, we'll see, but I rely much more heavily on recent history in this, our very week-to-week National Football League.
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints
An NFC South matchup of epic proportions. Undefeated versus utterly defeated. Or, almost utterly defeated. The Saints defense has matched that description, and done so much to the glory of opposing offensive fantasy skill position players, leaving Saints QB Drew Brees in position to play constant catch-up.
The team coming in this week can score in case nobody has heard. I love every single Falcon in this game that owners would normally start, and I am higher on RB Michael Turner and, more so relatively, backup Jacquizz Rodgers.
While my fellow experts have Turner ranked as a consensus No. 2 RB for Week 10, I believe his owners should expect RB1 numbers in one of his best showings of the season this Sunday. Quizz Rodgers should see plenty of action on his own and I would put him in my flex spot with confidence, if only for this week.
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
As a Tom Brady owner, there may have been games this season in which you thought there could actually be some random guy donning the Patriots No. 12 jersey. Someone not quite Tom Brady. Maybe Tom Bradley, a professional HVAC tech who played for one year as a walk-on at Amherst.
No Tom Bradley appearances this week. This will be Tom Brady at his finest against a pathetic team that he absolutely loves to torch. Even with Matt Ryan facing the horrible Saints defense, Brady is my No. 1 QB for Week 10. One of the reasons you drafted him was to get to play him against the Bills at home.
San Diego Chargers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
You know you are in the right industry when one of your contemporaries is known professionally as The Fantasy Douche. That moniker belongs to Frank DuPont, Author of Game Plan: A Radical Approach to Decision Making in the National Football League and a truly illuminated fantasy football mind.
The Douche detailed, in this very informative piece for Rotoworld, that according to his proprietary GILLESPIE system for player projection, Chargers WR Malcolm Floyd has the highest probability of playing above his season average of any other WR in the NFL for Week 10.
This goes along beautifully with the matchup that my personal performance algorithm spit out, pinning Tampa Bay as my No. 4 matchup of Week 10 for opposing WRs.
New York Jets at Seattle Seahawks
My prediction: pain. I hate any Jets player in this matchup. I would not start one unless my options were extremely dire. Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch will have a Top 4 Week 10 performance at the RB position with his backup Robert Turbin serving as a risky but high-upside flex play.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
I hate to use this comparison given the criminal history of Eagles QB Mike Vick, but Eagles HC Andy Reid is like an abused dog that has been backed up against the wall by his organization and the media coming into Week 10. Not an animal I want to go around poking at, which is precisely the job of the Cowboys this week.
I love Eagles RB LeSean McCoy in this game, as the main criticism of Reid in this, the season he will look back on as the worst of his life for reasons much more important than football, has been his ridiculous pass/rush ratio.
Vick is a turnover machine as a pocket passer and the Eagles have one of the league's most deadly weapons in the running and short screen games. The Eagles and Reid will be deploying every weapon they can in Week 10.
St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers
One look at my matchup tool tells the story here. All red vs. all blue. The Rams started out the season as a surprisingly efficient defensive group, but have stalled out through this first part of the 2012's stretch run.
I am not starting one Rams player this week outside of Danny Amendola who will be returning from injury in Week 10, and is a must-start regardless of matchup, especially in PPR formats.
I will also note that 49ers TE Vernon Davis has been noticeably quiet lately, especially to his fantasy owners. My advice is to stick with him. You'll see why on Sunday. I'm 61% sure of it.
Houston Texans at Chicago Bears
Here are. The Big Kahuna. I could talk about this possible Super Bowl preview matchup for days, but the fact is, my editor wanted to kill me 900 words ago.
The TE position has been a chink in the Bears armor all season, and Texans TE Owen Daniels is a Chicago native who some dream of in a Bears uniform. Daniels does, however, appear very iffy to go with a back injury, and remember, this is a Sunday Night Football game. If you are relying on Daniels, as you should be, he has been fantastic, it's risky.
If you do decide to wait, see if James Casey is TE-eligible in your league. If so, pick him up. If not, Bears TE Kellen Davis should be available as an emergency fill-in, and in a not-so-bad worst case scenario, you could roster Tony Moeaki of the Kansas City Chiefs who will play Monday Night.
Which brings us to our final matchup. Steelers OC Todd Haley has told the media this week that he will "would not hesitate" to run the score up on a Chiefs team who ousted him as head coach during the 2011 season.
Todd Haley looks like a ski bum and should learn to not be so presumptuous. This is the National Football League and every player on the field is elite.
But no one knows that KC team better than Haley does. There also aren't many who know Chiefs HC Romeo Crennel's tendencies and weaknesses in as intimate a manner as Haley does. Last season, Crennel was reporting to Haley about the detailed state of the defense as defensive coordinator.
So now Crennel has stepped down from his defensive coordinator role. What lucky timing. Whether it's Gary Gibbs making the defensive play calls or Gary Coleman, I think Haley knows something to be true via first-hand experience that a lot of us are starting to believe may be the case.
The Chiefs are in trouble.