People say you can’t learn anything this late in the season. I say people are wrong. Why, just look at this past week. Personally, I learned it’s a bad idea to back up a cold weather QB (Jay Cutler) with another cold weather QB (Ben Roethlisberger). I learned that when a team promotes the former RB coach to interim head coach, that’s a good thing for the running back (Knowshon Moreno), and a crap-your-pants awful thing for the quarterback (Neckbeard). I also learned Adrian Peterson got the nickname “All Day” because he runs like a mopey tween girl in gym class during night games (seriously, check out his day/night splits). Most importantly, I learned sometimes seasons are lost because an opposing owner decided to blindly pick-up Jay Feely four minutes before kickoff.
If your fantasy footballing came to a premature end because of one of the above reasons, or another of the myriad of unfortunate happenings this past week, I feel your pain, and I agree you were perfectly justified in sending a 2,000 word e-mail announcing your formal “retirement” to your league mates. The whole bed sheet tied to the ceiling fan thing was a bit too far, though.
Other Week 14 Indigestions (with a look ahead)…
-Getting targeted was never a problem for Pepe Garcon — he’s seen at least seven in every game — it was his ability to successfully handle those targets that drove owners nuts. In the first seven games he caught just 47% of the balls directed at him, but after catching six of seven this past week, he’s now caught 19 of 22 targeted passes over the last three games. My calculator tells me that’s 86%. What my calculator doesn’t tell me is the reason for Garcon’s resurgent hands (stupid technology).
On a Reasonable Explanation Side Note: After suffering from hammy issues early in the year, Garcon finally has his “legs under him,” which no doubt makes a huge difference in his ability to break out of routes in a manner appropriate with Peyton Manning‘s greatness. In other words, the timing issues that plagued the two are now settled, and Pepe is in store for a monster game against a Jags secondary responsible for allowing 340 yards to Jason Campbell.
-I’m fairly certain not even Shaun Hill‘s wife has yearned for him as much Calvin Johnson owners are right now. Drew Stanton was abysmal, as expected, completing 11 passes for 117 yards with a touchdown and two picks against the Packers. The performance prompted Jim Schwartz to compare his QB to a “pitcher who couldn’t find the strike zone,” and as a result, ‘Tron caught just one pass. Stanton doesn’t completely kill the big fella’s value, the one completion was a 44-yard bomb, but unless Hill returns from his broken finger, Johnson has no chance of a playoff freakout, even against abusable secondaries like Tampa (Week 15) and Seattle (Week 16).
-In case you blacked out shortly after Aaron Rodgers was blacked out, Matt Flynn was terrible against a terrible Detroit secondary. He did hook up with Greg Jennings four times for 52 yards, and completed another four passes to tight end Andrew Quarless, but if he’s behind the controls against the Patriots this weekend, there’s not a single Packers pass-catcher I’d trust anywhere near my starting lineup.
-Since we’re talking awful backup quarterbacking, might as well mention how much damage Brodie Croyle did to the Kansas City offense. Coming into the game, the Chiefs offense was averaging 67 plays from scrimmage and controlling the ball 33 minutes per contest. Against the Chargers, they ran 37 plays and were on the field a grand total of 20 minutes. Of fantasy note — Jamaal Charles led the way with 49 yards on 12 touches, while Thomas Jones had one yard on three carries and Dwayne Bowe caught a single three-yard pass. If Matt Cassel can’t convince doctors he’d rather suffer internal bleeding than watch Croyle butcher his offense again, only Charles will warrant a start against St. Louis. And even then, you’ll probably end up disappointed.
-After giving the Lord of No Rings one final middle finger by sitting out the first two games upon his reinstatement, Vincent Jackson finally made himself useful on Sunday. More so to the Chargers than fantasy owners, but at this point, any kind of production is a positive. He finished with three touches — two catches and a 14-yard run — with all three of his handles coming within the first five minutes of the game, and all resulting in successful third down conversions. The Chargers got up big early, so his services weren’t necessary after the opening quarter, but Jackson stayed in the game, snagging a 37-yarder in the fourth quarter that was negated because of a penalty. If you’re playing against the guy who owns Philip Rivers, you have to roll with V-Jax Thursday night.
–Ronnie Brown has been mostly irrelevant in rushing for 644 yards and three touchdowns this season, and his 55 yards on 16 carries last week against the Jets is nothing to get excited about, but the next two weeks could make the unfounded Brown love slightly founded. The Bills and Lions are the opposition, and with Chad Henne‘s recent ineptitude, the Dolphins are sure to stick to the ground against two of the leagues worst run stopping units. Brown’s seen an uptick in action of late, carrying it 56 times to Ricky Williams‘ 40 in the last three games. The heavy workload combined with the penetrable upcoming defenses should equate to quality RB2 production the next two weeks, although I find it hard to fathom a fantasy championship involving Ronnie Brown.
-The Zach Attack is back! Not the band, unfortunately, although I hear they may play the halftime show at the Super Bowl. I’m talking about the tight end. Zach Miller. The one in Oakland. Miller had four catches for 68 yards against Jacksonville, and wasn’t seen noticeably limping for the first time in a month. Even better, he wasn’t relegated to blocking duties the majority of the game. With Darren McFadden at his unstoppable best, Miller was allowed to release from the line and roam the second-shelf, coming away with a pair of 20-plus yard catches. Two crappy run defenses (Denver and Indianapolis) round out the fantasy schedule, which means less blocking and more partying in the secondary for the healthy-enough Miller.
-When a talented rookie wideout completely freaks-out in Week 14, topping his previous career best in yards by 69, you have to ask yourself three questions: Was it a matchup issue? Was there flukiness involved? And did he impress enough to earn a continued role? In the case of Arrelious Benn, he was facing the Redskins 29th ranked unit, but he burnt the shizz out of DeAngelo Hall on a 64-yard go-route, and added a diving 43-yard grab on his way to four catches for 122 yards. He also picked up 17-yards on an end-around, further displaying his legitimacy in the offense. As for his continued role, OC Greg Olson said simply, “we need to find ways to get him the ball.”
-Okay, now I’m really confused – which one is Batman, again? I was certain Terrell Owens was cruising around in the Bat Mobile, while Chad Ochocinco was stuck wearing that gay Robin outfit, but now, I’m not so sure. Ocho had six catches for 71 yards on a team-high nine targets against the Steelers, the fourth time in the last five games he’s seen more love from Carson Palmer. Owens hauled in only one of the six passes thrown his way, and hasn’t topped 50 yards in three weeks, yet I’d still rather own him down the stretch. He’s been chirping incessantly this week about a lack of adjustments, and lamenting the fact he can’t throw the ball to himself. As we all know, the squawking bird gets the pellets in Cincy. Look for Batman, errr Robin, errr whatever you want to call Owens to resume his WR1 activities this weekend.
On a Money, Money, Money Side Note: Owens is only one touchdown away from earning a $333,333 bonus. He’s also 28 receptions and 317 yards away from another $666,666 (pay no attention to the consecutive sixes, it’s a purely coincidental number … as far as we know). As long as there are still dollar bills on the table, you can trust that T.O. will stay as hungry as a narcissistic lumberjack.