-The only thing worse than having one of your studs grossly underperform, is having one of your studs grossly underperform on Sunday night. The only thing worse than that, is having one your studs grossly underperform on Sunday night because they weren’t given the proper opportunity to do their studly things. That was the case with Rashard Mendenhall this week. Mendy-Pants was on his way to a decent game with 11 carries and 50 yards through two-and-half quarters, but with the Steelers facing a 24-3 deficit, they completely abandoned the run mid-way through the third, attempting not a single rush over the final 20 minutes. They were basically in third-down mode, which meant extensive time on the field for Mewelde Moore, and extensive cussing out of innocent television sets by Mendenhall owners. Shouldn’t be an issue going forward, but damned if didn’t make for a crappy late-night conclusion to an otherwise splendid Sunday of football viewing.
Other Week 10 Indigestions…
-Blame it on the dual turf toe injuries. Blame it on the offensive line. Heck, blame it on the rain if you want – none are a valid excuse for Jahvid Best rushing for 35 yards against the Buffalo Bills. He saw a season-high 17 carries, and netted more negative rushes (4) than he did gains of five or more (3). If you throw out his monster Week 2, the rook is yet to top 60 rushing yards or 40 receiving yards in a game. Even more alarming, despite the fact the Lions are converting nearly 90-percent of their trips inside the 20s into touchdowns, Best hasn’t received a dirt payment since Week 2 (you can blame Megatron and Brandon Pettigrew for that). Unless you’re PPRing, I’d avoid using his services.
-Fans of the name Zach Miller have been anticipating the Jaguars version to become fantasy relevant for over a year now. Outside of a big effort in the final game last year, which doesn’t really count, this week’s four catch, 79 yard effort –highlighted by a 52-yard touchdown grab that doubled as the Jaguars longest pass play of the year – was by far his best effort in a real NFL game. Too bad it won’t resonate. Marcedes Lewis still had five catches for 53 yards, and saw six targets to Miller’s five. Simply chalk it up to Houston’s piss-poor pass defense and store the knowledge in your wallet for later. It’ll be more useful than the scented condom you’re still carrying around.
-Sorry Shonn Greene owners, you still drafted a backup running back in the third round. Although Greene saw more carries and yards (20 for 72) than LaDainian Tomlinson for the first time all year, LDT was on the field nearly double the amount of snaps as Greene.
Glass Half Full Gary Says: Who cares about snap counts, it’s all about touches, and Greene has clearly become the better option when handed the ball. Since the Buffalo game when both freaked out, Tomlinson is averaging 3.7 yards-per-carry while Greene is pounding out runs at 4.3 yards a clip. He’s younger, he’s fresher, he’s dabbling in pass-catching – six receptions for 41 yards in the last three games – and most importantly, he’s been great in short yardage, converting three 3rd -downs and a 4th-down on a lengthy third quarter drive this week. If he gets goal line duties down the stretch, your Gang Greene team name will finally stop looking so silly.
-Forced into action after Chad Pennington‘s shoulder was ripped out of socket and used to club Chad Henne in the knee (or something like that), Tyler Thigpen looked like the 2008 version of himself. He completed four of six passes on his lone drive (three to Anthony Fasano and one to Brandon Marshall), finishing with 64 yards and a touchdown. He also picked up seven yards on a scramble, a not insignificant part of his game (think Ryan Fitzpatrick). If you were a Henne guy early in the season, it’s okay to switch your allegiance to Thigpen. In fact, it’s advisable – he was a top 12 fantasy QB in the second half of ’08.
-Once again, Johnny Knox did Johnny Knox things – catching five passes for 90 yards without a score. If you forget the two games prominently involving Todd Collins, a good idea if you own any Bears receivers and/or respect the game of football, Knox is averaging 4.2 catches and 82.7 yards an outing. On the year, he’s tied for eighth in the league with 11 catches over 20 yards, and only Mike Wallace, Brandon Lloyd and DeSean Jackson are averaging more than the 19.3 yards per catch Knox is pulling in (among WRs with 25-plus catches). The one touchdown is a bummer, but at the clip he’s hauling in balls, he’s bound to catch a couple long scores over the final six weeks.
-Speaking of guys who enjoy deep-ball cradling, Anthony Armstrong doesn’t quite make the aforementioned 25-plus catch designation, but he’s been the elitist of the elite when it comes to yards-per-reception (22.6 YPR). He nabbed a 76-yarder against the Eagles, finishing with three grabs on five targets for 83 yards. Of his 20 catches on the year, nine have been over 20 yards, and four have gone for 40 or more. The one thing Donovan McNabb still definitively does well is throw the deep ball, and with Santana Moss drawing more coverage than a sit-down interview with Brad Childress and Brett Favre’s penis, Armstrong is increasingly becoming his preferred target.
-I thought Delanie Walker‘s impressive showing in London was just a result of Vernon Davis leaving in the second quarter with an ankle injury. Nope. Troy Smith really, REALLY likes the guy. Against the Rams he had 80 yards, leading the team for the second straight game, and caught four passes on five targets. After catching seven balls with the bad Smith as his QB, Walker now has nine catches for 165 yards in two games with Troy under center.
-If you’re a fan of human physiology you already knew how important a healthy set of hammies is to effectively execute the running motion. If you’re an owner of Knowshon Moreno, you found out on Sunday. Moreno used the bye week to get healthy for the first time all year, and finally had a yardage breakout, carrying it 22 times for 106 yards. He added another 50 yards and a score on three catches, marking his best day as a professional fantasy player. The playoff schedule – Arizona, Oakland, Houston – is the best in the biz, and if Know-Mo stays healthy, you’ll be able to hop on his back and ride him to a championship (as long as stupid Tim Tebow doesn’t interfere too much).
-I mentioned last week how Mark Sanchez benefitted from additional time and lax coverage late in the game against Detroit, and I suggested not relying on the garbage-time points. I was wrong. For one week, anyway. Once again, Sanchez capitalized on outstanding circumstances – this time an extra 14 minutes and 44 seconds – to pad his stats. The 299-yard total looks tantalizing on the heels of his 336-yard outing last week, but 117 of those came in the extra period. In reality, he’s averaging 233 passing yards in official game time over the past two weeks, not the gaudy 317 his on-paper number suggests. One of these days the Jets are going to beat a bad team without needing overtime, and that will not be a good week to start Sanchez.
-In other garbage time news: All nine of Jermaine Gresham‘s catches against the Colts came in the 4th quarter. With the Bengals max protecting Carson Palmer in an (unsuccessful) attempt to give him time to hit TochoCinco down the field, the Indy defense was dropping eight into coverage. That created the perfect umbrella under which Gresham could settle after chipping either Dwight Freeney or Robert Mathis at the line. Palmer, not finding the groove with the ambiguously gay duo, simply dumped the ball off, completing nine of 13 passes to the rookie tight end in the fourth. Gresham’s been a decent option all year, but don’t view this as the start something special.