October 04, 2010
On Sundays, I fill the notebook. On Mondays, I spill it out here.
• I'm not sure what to make of Ryan Torain(notes). On one hand I was impressed with his decisiveness, vision and power, and it's pretty clear that Clinton Portis(notes) can't be counted on. But Torain has no pass-blocking skills yet, and his upright running style is going to lead to a lot of punishment; you can see why he's had so many injury issues to this point in his career. I get the idea Torain is going to have some fantasy-deciding games this year, but I'm not confident he can last the season.
• It was encouraging to see Michael Crabtree(notes) get involved at Atlanta (five catches, 58 yards), but sometimes I wonder if he'll be a tweener for his NFL career: not fast enough to burn people deep, and not big enough to be a red-zone dominator. You can still be a star without those two skills if you do everything else at an elite level, but working with Alex Smith isn't doing him any favors.
• Andy Reid's coaching chops will be put to the test in the next few weeks, assuming Michael Vick(notes) will need to rest his injured ribs. Kevin Kolb(notes) was resourceful for the most part against Washington, running here and dumping off there, but he had no idea what he was seeing downfield and he basically removed DeSean Jackson(notes) and Jeremy Maclin(notes) from the game plan. Brent Celek's(notes) fantasy value takes a significant jump so long as Kolb is on the field, and obviously Shady McCoy is going to have to carry this offense while Vick rehabs.
• Peyton Hillis(notes) is almost too good to be true through a month of the season. He's scored in four straight games, he's collected 58 touches the last two weeks, he's shoved Jerome Harrison(notes) out of the way, he's caught 16 passes. And the Browns are going to run a conservative offense no matter what, with spotty quarterback options and an underrated defense. It sounds crazy to suggest it, but Hillis might be a Top 12 fantasy back for the balance of the year.
• The final box score from New York's rout at Buffalo gives a misleading take on the Jets backfield. There's no backfield controversy here, no week-to-week palm reading to do. LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) got most of the important work when the game was in doubt, and he's a better fit for this offense because you don't have to scale back the plan when he's on the field. Shonn Greene(notes) still looks useful as a closer – the type of back you ride when you're playing clock-ball in the second half, with a lead – but he's not cut out to be an NFL starter right now. If Tomlinson doesn't get hurt at some point in 2010, Greene is nothing past an occasional flex option.
• Kyle Orton(notes) might have the best fantasy context of any quarterback in 2010: his team can't run the ball at all and his head coach couldn't care less. There might not be a true superstar receiver on the Broncos roster, but there are four quality options here, and Orton is fine to throw to whomever has the weak matchup. Denver's defense also plays into Orton's value here – the Broncos might not be a sieve on that side of the ball, but it looks like a below-average unit. Who would you rather start a franchise with tomorrow, Jay Cutler(notes) or Kyle Orton?
• Sam Bradford(notes) is the headline story in St. Louis and justifiably so – he's every bit as talented and as ready as Matt Ryan(notes) was in 2008 – but don't sleep on the job Steve Spagnuolo has done with the Rams defense. The Men of Spags have confused two veteran quarterbacks (Matt Hasselbeck(notes), Donovan McNabb(notes)) over the last two weeks.
• I was impressed with Christopher Ivory(notes) of the Saints, even with the one fumble lost. I hate to say this, Pierre Thomas(notes) owners, but Ivory is probably good enough to cut into the workload even when Thomas is back to 100 percent.
• Just when I was ready to accept Darren McFadden(notes) as a trustworthy fantasy asset, the hamstring starts barking again. Michael Bush(notes) ran well as the second back Sunday (7-40 ground, 2-16 air) and is worth a grab in any league going forward.
• Teams have to accept that Antonio Gates(notes) can't be covered with a linebacker; the Cardinals tried that all day Sunday and were continually embarrassed. If I were defending the Chargers, I'd put my best corner on Gates (the Broncos have done this in the past with Champ Bailey(notes)) and force them to beat me with Malcom Floyd(notes) and Legedu Naanee(notes).
• Brandon Jackson(notes) can't play and the Packers seem to know as much; their use of Jackson over the last two weeks is telling. I'd see if the Bills are interested in a second or third-round pick for one of their backs.
• Sunday's sports bar had great food and flaky wireless. If it's an either/or thing, give me the solid connection.
• The fan in me doesn't mind that Green Bay can't run the ball consistency – it's a blast to watch Aaron Rodgers(notes) steer this offense. No team has four targets to match what the Packers roll out with Greg Jennings(notes), Jermichael Finley(notes), James Jones(notes) and Donald Driver(notes) (no one ever lost money on him).
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