Case Keenum is for real (USAT)
Most expected a shootout between the Chargers and Redskins, so it was a bit surprising to see this game scoreless after the first quarter, although the Chargers hadn’t allowed a touchdown in 12 quarters until Alfred Morris reached pay dirt in the second quarter. Morris had a great game, running for 121 yards on 25 carries, but if it’s not Roy Helu stealing three touchdowns from him, it’s Darrel Young. Seriously, Morris owners have every right to be furious. The Chargers entered having allowed zero rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs this season before yielding four Sunday…Speaking of being upset with fantasy backs, Ryan Mathews, who’s one of only two RBs with back-to-back 100-yard rushing games this season (Zac Stacy is the other), saw just seven carries Sunday, including only one during the second half. Meanwhile, Danny Woodhead saw a whopping 12 targets, securing nine for 77 receiving yards to go along with another 21 yards rushing. He also had a likely game-winning TD catch overturned by review late that was questionable at best…Robert Griffin got 9.1 YPA, but he now has a 4:6 TD:INT ratio over his past six games, and that’s come against a schedule that most would consider quite favorable. He had a handful of passes tipped/batted down Sunday, including this one that went for an SD defensive touchdown. RG3 is still working through major mechanical issues right now.
I mentioned to my wife how so few teams have scored touchdowns on their first drives in overtime since the new rules were implemented that some game theorists suggest you should actually defer if you win the toss (think college OT) right before Washington won the toss and proceeded to drive down the field and score a TD. Naturally…Philip Rivers has to be considered a top-five fantasy QB right now. He actually struggled some Sunday but also dealt with a handful of bad drops and as mentioned earlier, was a shaky review away from posting his fourth game with 3+ TD passes this season. He still managed 341 passing yards and got unlucky never touching the ball in overtime…Jordan Reed had 17 catches (on 23 targets) for 224 yards and a score over his previous two contests before a quiet game Sunday, although he came close to having a touchdown. He should be considered a top-five fantasy tight end moving forward…Keenan Allen actually had a bad drop, but what more can be said about him at this point? Over his last four games, he has 26 catches for 417 yards and three touchdowns. He’s already a stud…It’s hard to complain about Pierre Garcon getting 172 yards, which was helped by this ridiculously awesome catch, but he now hasn’t scored since Week 4, a four-game span in which he’s seen 45 targets. Some more TDs would be nice at some point.
In case you missed it, here’s my “Rapid React” to the Bengals/Dolphins Thursday night game.
It’s ridiculous just how often Calvin Johnson has been tackled at the one-yard line, but Steve Smith has been even unluckier.
The Chiefs remain the NFL’s only undefeated team, but there are more than a handful of teams I’d consider better. Their offense is obviously a problem, as Alex Smith is getting 6.1 YPA, and Jamaal Charles is getting 4.3 YPC and as much as I love him on my fantasy team, the latter is a candidate to breakdown later on with such a heavy workload. Kansas City hasn’t allowed more than 17 points in a game this season, but they have also faced Ryan Fitzpatrick, Terrelle Pryor, Case Kennum, Jason Campbell and Jeff Tuel over their last five games. A Tuel led Bills team outgained KC 6.1 yards per play to 3.9 on Sunday. Betting on defensive touchdowns isn’t exactly the safest route to winning championships. Kudos to what they’ve done, but their schedule starts getting tougher soon, and there are too many red flags pointing against a deep playoff run, even if they maintain the No. 1 seed…Dexter McCluster’s drop late in the second quarter was about as bad as it gets…It was nice to see C.J. Spiller look like his old self, totaling 115 yards on just 14 touches, but since he’s still not 100 percent, it’s going to create a headache for those who own both him and Fred Jackson moving forward. Watching Spiller’s runs Sunday at least gave some (albeit useless) vindication why he was drafted so early. His talent is unreal…Dwayne Bowe’s 12 targets were by far a season-high (previous best was nine), and while that resulted in a season-high in receiving yards, unfortunately it was just 67…Check out the Bills’ upcoming schedule, especially during the fantasy playoffs (@TB, @Jax, Mia). They have the third most sacks in the NFL, and their defense could be major difference makers in fantasy leagues down the stretch.
Here’s my latest NBA column, which is worth checking out even if you’re not into hoops but like my random links.
Zac Stacy is the real deal, there’s no other way to put it. He recorded the Rams’ first two rushing touchdowns of the season Sunday, also totaling 178 yards (and securing 6-of-7 targets). He may not be in the best situation playing for a mediocre Rams team, but there are so few feature backs these days, and Stacy looks quite talented. He’s broken 12 tackles over the past two games. To put that into perspective, Ray Rice has broken four all season. Stacy’s 2.9 YPC after contact ranks fifth best in all of football. He should be considered a top-12 fantasy back right now…Speaking of the terrible RB landscape, look at Chris Johnson rising from the dead, scoring his first (and second) rushing TD of the season while gaining 150 yards on 23 carries. He even looked halfway decent while doing so. He gets a home game against the Jaguars in Week 10…Kendall Wright entered having seen 37 targets over his previous four games. The sophomore wideout (who had more than 40 yards receiving than any other Titans receiver Sunday) isn’t explosive, but he’s clearly emerged as Tennessee’s No. 1 WR and is someone to watch moving forward…Tavon Austin has recorded fewer than 10 receiving yards in four of his past six games and has yet to reach 50 in a game this season.
Here’s an epic tow truck driver fail (NSFW language). “You have to be kidding me!”
Geno Smith completed eight passes, only three of which traveled beyond the line of scrimmage, as 111 of his 115 passing yards came after the catch. And yet, the Jets somehow beat the Saints. New York winning at home wasn’t shocking, but this is a team that was the only to lose by 40 points this year last week and was facing a New Orleans squad whose only loss on the season was the fluke game against the Patriots, so the outcome was somewhat surprising. The Jets have the worst point differential of any 5-4 team in the history of the NFL…Drew Brees matched his interceptions Sunday (two) than he had over his previous five games…I cautioned using Chris Ivory based on his unpredictable weekly usage, but man did he prove me wrong, as he went wild against his former team, rushing for 139 yards and a TD on 18 attempts, frequently looking like a man possessed while getting an insane 5.6 YPC after contact…I think Stephen Hill still has upside in the future, but he’s not worth owning even in the deepest leagues right now…I liked Lance Moore and especially Kenny Stills this week, but they combined for just 105 yards on 15 targets, and that was with Marques Colston inactive. Jimmy Graham is truly a beast. If a draft were held today, Graham would have to be a top-five pick, right?...The Saints somehow came away with points on the same drive they faced a 3rd-and-38…That was an odd play call by New Orleans on fourth-and-inches….What a horrible personal foul call in the fourth quarter, when the defender wasn’t even close to hitting Brees below the knees…I like Rex Ryan, but can anyone explain to me why he called two run plays by Bilal Powell at the end of the game before having Geno Smith just kneel? Totally bizarre.
Here’s a fireball resulting in an electrical outage (NSFW language).
If we needed any more evidence the Cowboys play to their competition, this game was it, as they were life-and-death against a Minnesota team they were more than 10-point favorites against. Life-and-death may actually be an understatement, as the Cowboys trailed with 40 seconds left, although they deserve credit going for a touchdown trailing by three, as so many teams typically play for a field goal there…I’m not sure what to make of DeMarco Murray’s usage as he saw just four carries, but that also led the team. And while he was sitting on the sidelines for good stretches, he also secured 6-of-7 targets, so as long as he came away healthy, it’s a positive development…Since the Super Bowl era, teams were 1-35 when attempting fewer than 10 rushes in a game before Dallas won Sunday…Nice to see Jason Witten still has a pulse…Blair Walsh missed an extra point (the first time he’s ever done so) with Minny up 23-20. It ultimately didn’t matter, but how does that happen?...Tony Romo’s 7.4 YPA is actually a career low, but he’s on pace to tie his career high with 36 TD passes anyway. He’s also sneaky…Adrian Peterson, who averaged just 12.0 carries over the past three games, totaled 177 yards from scrimmage on 28 touches, including this ridiculous TD run. I’m beginning to think AD might be strong.
Song of the Week: Arcade Fire’s “Normal Person.”
Both Atlanta and Carolina backfields seem like they should be avoided at all costs in fantasy terms, and it was surprising to see Drew Davis get just two targets playing exclusively from behind and with Roddy White inactive. Matt Ryan played well during his first game after losing Julio Jones, but the Bucs have proven to be even worse than we thought since then, and after that outing, the QB has posted a 2:7 TD:INT ratio over two games. Everyone knows how much of a reshuffle league the NFL is, but let’s reiterate that by pointing out last year’s NFC’s No. 1 seed and Super Bowl winner are a combined 5-11 this season…Cam Newton hadn’t been picked off and recorded a QB Rating of 111.6 or better in each of his past three games before a letdown Sunday, although it still resulted in a 24-point win against the Falcons. I realize Carolina’s schedule gets a lot tougher moving forward, but they have won four straight games by an average of 20.5 points. Fully admitting that my one other Super Bowl futures bet was the Steelers, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least point out my other one right now.
Headlines of the Week: Man Dies After Pitbull Bites Off His Testicles...School Shut Down and Kids Hospitalized After Sixth Grade Boys Spray Too Much Axe...Actor Slits His Own Throat as Knife Switch Turns Fiction Into Reality…The FFCC might mercifully end sports blackouts...Meet The Reddit-Enraging Food Blogger Who Only Goes On Dates So She Can Eat ‘Without Having To Pay'...To Stave Off Decline, Churches Attract New Members With Beer...Usain Bolt Ate 1,000 McNuggets At The Beijing Olympics Because He Didn't Like Chinese Food.
At the two-minute warning of the second quarter of the Bucs/Seahawks game, Tampa Bay was ahead 37.5 points if you took them against the spread. In other words, the big underdogs (who were winless) against the NFC’s best team were ahead 21-0 on the road playing in the league’s toughest environment. As a Niners fan, believe me, I fully expected what was bound to happen, but that outcome became even more improbable after the Bucs had a 5+ minute drive that resulted in a field goal to open the second half. I’m not sure what to say, other than I’m surprised how vulnerable the Seahawks have looked recently…Not only did Mike James run for 158 yards against a very tough defense (albeit one that was also gashed by the Rams the week before), he also threw a touchdown pass while jumping. What a performance. He looks good…Mike Glennon also wasn’t totally horrible, although Vincent Jackson owners would prefer the version in which he force feeds his No. 1 wideout regardless of the outcome…Let’s give Golden Tate a pass now that Darrelle Revis is feeling healthy enough to shadow opponents in man-to-man.
Russell Wilson threw more than one interception in a game for the first time since October 7 of last year, and that’s including the playoffs. His rushing TD was also his first of the year…Seattle had never come back from more than a 20-point deficit in franchise history…I liked Greg Schiano’s strategy, knowing he was a big underdog, calling for a surprise onside kick in the first quarter (that was recovered by TB but was nullified by an offsides penalty), but he didn’t take it far enough, as I would’ve gone for it on 4th-and-3 at midfield with 25 seconds left in a tie game. That was probably around a 50 percent chance of converting, a number that surely was lower when they entered OT (and it’s not like it was an automatic loss if they didn’t get the first there either. Although to be fair, if they successfully got this first down it wouldn’t have necessarily resulted in a sure win either). Schiano also challenged a five-yard catch at the end of the third quarter, making a possible 3rd-and-3 become 3rd-and-8. For such a minimal difference, you at least better be right (he wasn’t, the play was confirmed, costing the Bucs a timeout in the process).
Not only did Nick Foles tie an NFL record by throwing seven touchdown passes, but he was also the youngest ever to do so and accomplished the feat with 4:28 minutes left in the third quarter. In other words, he had 20 minutes of game time to break the record, but the Eagles called off the dogs, as he rested in the fourth quarter. Foles has looked good during all of his appearances this year expect his one outing at home against Dallas, when he admittedly looked terrible. But after tossing seven TDs against an Oakland secondary that entered having allowed just 10 on the season, Foles must now be taken seriously, and the Cowboys performance looks increasingly like an outlier. He now sports an 8.7 YPA and a 13:0 TD:INT ratio on the season. Philly’s upcoming schedule looks awfully favorable as well. It’s going to take an injury for Michael Vick to see the field again...I’m beginning to think Darren McFadden is an injury risk…Terrelle Pryor has shown genuine promise, and there’s plenty of reasons to be excited about him if you’re a Raider fan, but he also has a 1:7 TD:INT ratio over his past three games. And for someone who’s averaged 69.3 rushing yards per game, it’s pretty crazy that has resulted in just one score…LeSean McCoy is on pace to finish with 1,950 yards from scrimmage, but his touchdown Sunday was his first since Week 5…The Foles to Riley Cooper connection appears unstoppable.
In a battle between two of the most disappointing teams, the Patriots (whose record is obviously less “disappointing” than Pitt’s) handled business, scoring the most points and gaining the most yards against the Steelers in Pittsburgh’s history. In fact, New England got more points and more yards than their previous two games combined. I’m not going to say Tom Brady is back to being an elite fantasy option, but clearly the return of Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola to go along with the maturation of Aaron Dobson makes him back to being a top-10 fantasy QB…Gronkowski hauled in 9-of-10 targets for 143 yards and a TD. He remains an injury risk, but a healthy Gronk should be treated as a top-15 fantasy player moving forward…I’ll admit it, I didn’t expect Jerricho Cotchery to score three touchdowns this week. I was thinking more like two…Le’Veon Bell has seen 17 targets the last two weeks. There’s a ton of upside here moving forward…Aaron Dobson and Danny Amendola should both be considered top-25 fantasy WRs coming off New England’s upcoming bye…The Pats marked just the sixth time in NFL history Sunday to have three players with 100+ receiving yards with receiving TDs in the same game…Stevan Ridley finally looks to be back as a trustworthy option. He lost another fumble, but Bill Belichick absolved him of it afterward, and the third-year RB saw more than 20 carries in a game for the first time this season. He’s somewhat quietly scored six touchdowns over the past four games.
Over his two starts this year, Jason Campbell has a 7.8 YPA with a 5:0 TD:INT ratio and a 110.9 QB Rating. He’s done this while playing in Arrowhead against the NFL’s lone undefeated team and against last year’s Super Bowl winner. Go figure…Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce and Willis McGahee combined for 59 rushing yards on 38 carries, good for a 1.6 YPC mark. Meanwhile, Fozzy Whittaker got 5.5 YPC. Free Fozzy! In all seriousness, according to Pro Football Focus, Rice has been by far the least valuable running back in the NFL this season. He hasn’t reached 75 rushing yards in a game and has cleared 45 yards just once. He doesn’t have a single carry that’s gone for 15 yards. I wouldn’t drop him, but he’s clearly unstartable right now…I imagine Torrey Smith’s fantasy owners are frustrated that he’s scored just once all season, but he managed 78 yards with Joe Haden shadowing him all game Sunday and is still on track to finish with 1,414 receiving yards. Better things are to come…Props to the Browns, who went for it on both 4th-and-goal early in the first quarter and 4th-and-1 late in the fourth quarter. That they were successful both times is beside the point. It really seems like NFL teams are finally being more aggressive in these situations this year, and that’s a really good thing.
Here’s footage of skydivers’ terrifying collision and chaotic plunge. Somehow everyone survived despite two planes crashing in the air.
First off, I want to vent: I bet on the Texans on Sunday night, as I had a strong feeling they were undervalued while the Colts were overvalued. Up 24-6 with less than a minute left in the third quarter, I felt pretty comfortable, but oh boy was I wrong. I’m not one to root for someone to lose their job, but man, I’m also not the biggest Randy Bullock fan, who missed three field goals, including one laughably at the end. Obviously, the health of Gary Kubiak is more important than Sunday’s outcome, but it does appear his absence was meaningful, as there are reports of a “chaotic” halftime, and unlike some other coaches, Kubiak calls all of Houston’s offensive plays. And did the Texans really punt on 4th-and-11 with 2:12 left in the fourth quarter at their own 42-yard line down three points? Incomprehensible…Having said all that, Case Keenum really looks good. The previous record for the highest YPA over a QB’s first two games was Cam Newton (10.4). Keenum has gotten 10.5. He had the most career passing yards and passing TDs in Division I history in college football. He looks mobile and sharp on downfield passes. I’m all in on Keenum and will predict Houston wins its next five games (they are underdogs this week, by the way)…I can't think of a trade in any sport so obviously with a definitive winner so quickly than Trent Richardson for a first round pick. Are there other candidates I’m missing?...I’d love Ben Tate if not for his four broken ribs. With Arian Foster again hurt, Dennis Johnson is clearly now on the fantasy radar. Spend your FAAB accordingly…Andre Johnson scored more touchdowns Sunday than he had during his previous 22 games combined (playoffs included). Keenum!...T.Y. Hilton should absolutely be treated as a top-10 fantasy WR moving forward.
Longread of the Week: “Stranger in a Strange Land.”
Longread of the Week Part Two: “The NFL’s Dirtiest Player Comes Clean.”
The obvious question here is how severe is Aaron Rodgers’ injury, which if serious is obviously bad news for the sport regardless of whom you root for. At least the Packers’ next four games come against opponents with a combined 7-18 record. But I suspect this will be a 4-6 week type absence from Rodgers, which is a hit to those who own Jordy Nelson…Josh McCown has looked more than competent, as he posted a 2:0 TD:INT ratio and a 90.7 QB Rating on Monday night. Jay Cutler has a 61.5 QB Rating over eight career games versus Green Bay. This McCown to Brandon Marshall TD was pretty awesome…There was a crazy sequence early in the third quarter in which a pass intended to James Jones resulted in James Anderson dropping an easy interception then Jones hauling in the catch only to then fumble (although he did recover it)...I’m on board with Mike McCarthy calling for a surprise onside kick early in the third quarter, but his reputation for being clueless during in-game decisions was magnified late in the fourth quarter, when he not only didn’t call a timeout before the two minute warning, but he also didn’t call one when the Bears picked up a first down on the following play (he had all three available). No worries, 35 seconds aren’t very important there…The crazy thing about Matt Forte, Eddie Lacy and James Starks getting 6.1 YPC on 52 rushing attempts is that a lot of them came during obvious running downs considering the game (and the team’s QB) situations. But even while acknowledging Chicago’s porous front seven, Lacy sure looked good.
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