For me, the most intriguing action of Week 5 didn’t even occur on a playing field. It happened in an interview room in the Cincinnati clubhouse, and involved Michael Irvin and Terrell Owens. Let’s just say, if you had Week 5 in your “when will T.O. poison the Bengals locker room” pool, you win. In 10 short minutes, without mentioning any names or specifics, Owens managed to subtly undermine the entire organization. From claiming that his opinion wasn’t valued, to outright driving the bus over offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski, it was vintage T.O. And in the process, he made it perfectly clear what the “implications” were if his voice was not heard (see: San Francisco, 2004; Philadelphia, 2006; Dallas, 2009).
On a related note: He now leads all receivers with 60 targets, and in his last two games has 17 catches for 324 yards and two touchdowns. As an owner, I have no idea what to do right now. After the bye, I guess I’ll just keep him in my lineup, avoid watching Bengals games, and start drinking heavily. Did I say start? I meant continue…
Other observations from Week 5:
-For the second straight week, DeSean Jackson was a virtual non-factor, catching just two balls on three targets for 24 yards. In the last two weeks he has a combined five catches for 43 yards. I’m sure there’s a reason for the sudden drop-off in production, but I’m not seeing it …………. oh. Kevin Kolb.
The difference in Jackson’s production with Kolb under center compared to Mike Vick is downright alarming. Not only does he have 10 more targets and 10 more receptions with Vick quarterbacking, but Jackson’s 23.2 yards per catch is massively different than the 9.2 average he has with Kolb throwing the ball.
The reason is simple. Jackson is often bumped at the line and doubled over top, meaning he’s usually not open at first glance. Which is the only glance Kolb gives him. When he sees Jackson surrounded, he immediately checks down to Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy, or looks over to Jeremy Maclin, who often sees single coverage. Vick, on the other hand, excels at stretching the play, giving time for Jackson to separate from coverage down the field. Plus, he throws an elite deep ball, which obviously plays to Jackson’s strength. With Vick expected to return soon, there’s no need to do anything rash, but in the short-term, I’d bench Jackson until Kolb is re-replaced as the starter.
– I was under the assumption Robert Meachem went missing in the French Quarter at the end of training camp and was presumed dead. Guess not. He showed up on Sunday against the Cardinals, catching four balls and scoring a 35-yard touchdown. He’s got 10 catches and 111 yards on the season, which seems abysmal considering the expectations, but it’s really no different than his ’09 season. Heading into Week 9 last year, Meachem had eight catches, 151 yards, and two touchdowns. He then proceeded to delight owners with 37 catches, 571 yards, and four scores in his last nine games. If the Saints can ever get on track, the return of Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush will help, a repeat could be in store.
–Mike Hart was useful in his first extensive action of the season, rushing for 50 yards on 11 carries, good for 4.5 YPC. He’s shifty between the tackles, and hard to take down, and his 11-yard touchdown run was a thing of beauty (and I’m not just saying that because I’m a Colts fan. Ok, maybe I am, but still…it was a big-boy NFL running back touchdown). Problem is, Joseph Addai‘s neck injury doesn’t appear to be too serious, and Donald Brown returned to practice this week. If either of those guys is in the lineup, Hart won’t see more than five carries, 10 if the game’s a blowout. If you’re debating, Brown’s the better waiver pickup.
-Looking less comfortable than a man in skinny jeans, Matt Schaub was held under 200 passing yards for a second straight week, and finished without a touchdown for the first time in 12 games. He was also sacked three times by the Giants, and has now hit the ground on 14 occasions this year, a number surpassed by only Jay Cutler. A hobbled Andre Johnson and an absent Jacoby Jones didn’t help, but Schaub’s attempts are way down compared to last year, and the Texans are clearly at their best when Arian Foster is grinding out yards on the ground. Don’t do anything drastic, but it may be time to start discreetly looking for a replacement– Schaub has the feel of a low-end QB1, rather than the high-end one you paid for.
-While everyone was watching the aerial antics of Philip Rivers, Malcom Floyd, and Antonio Gates, Ryan Mathews quietly slipped past Mike Tolbert on the depth chart. The box score showed Tolbert had 12 carries while Mathews had nine, but the story is in the play-by-play. The Rotund Runner started, and had nine of the first 11 carries of the game, gaining 15 yards while scoring a short touchdown and coughing up a fumble. His last tote came on the first drive of the 3rd quarter, at which point Mathews took over, finishing with 59 yards on nine carries. He looked healthy throughout, and flat-out electric on runs of 15 and 17 yards. With the Chargers sitting at 2-3, Norv Turner is done easing Mathews into the lineup. The leash comes off against the Rams this week.
Unfortunate Downer Side Note: Fatty McTolbert still has his sweaty palms on the short yardage/goal line duties, so don’t expect more than five or six touchdowns from Mathews.
–Matt Ryan looks like an elite QB, wins like an elite QB, and, I’m guessing, smells like an elite QB. But he’s not an elite QB. Not in the fantasy game anyway. Not even close. After throwing for 187 yards and a touchdown against the Browns on Sunday, he’s now averaging 15 fantasy points a game, and has been held under 12 points in three of five contests. In 38 career games, Ryan has thrown for 300 yards just three times, with two of those coming in his rookie year. Essentially you have a 12% chance of getting 300-yards when you start Ryan, making his value largely dependent on touchdowns. And as we all know, relying on touchdowns in fantasy usually leads to drunken bitter emails, and a new hobby by December. Ryan’s barely a top 15 QB.
-With Jermichael Finley sidelined eight-ten weeks after a knee scope, and Donald Lee out at least two games with a man-boob strain, starting tight ends duties in Green Bay fall to some dude named Andrew Quarless. In three quarters of action, the athletic rookie fifth rounder didn’t look half bad, catching four balls for 51 yards on six targets, and showed his ability to stretch the field on a 21-yard reception. The Packers even called his number on a fourth-and-goal play, but the pass was a bit behind him and he couldn’t haul it in. Gotta love the immediate confidence the coaching staff showed in him though. As long as Aaron Rodgers isn’t a concussion casualty, Quarless is a fine plug-and-play over the next few weeks. Think Tony Moeaki with a better chance of scoring. Touchdowns, of course.