The Bucs earned their first win of the season by beating the Dolphins 22-19 on Monday night. The Tampa Bay rushing attack and its defense teamed together to pull out the victory. But it appears to have come at a price. Bucs rookie running back Mikes James fractured his left ankle on the opening drive.
James, who has been filling in for Doug Martin (shoulder, injured reserve) the past month, was shredding the Dolphins on the ground on that opening drive. He piled up 41 yards on five carries and had a 17-yard run called back due to an illegal motion penalty. James was well on his way to back-to-back 100-yard games after he gashed the Seahawks for 158 yards in Week 9. On the play he was injured, James was tackled from behind at the one-yard line by Dannell Ellerbe. James’ ankles got pinned awkwardly between the turf and Ellerbe. The cart then came out to whisk James away to the locker room. Initial X-rays revealed a fractured left ankle, and James is “out indefinitely.” He’ll undergo further tests this week.
After James went down, passing-down back Brian Leonard was thrust into the lead-back role. He carried the ball 20 times for 57 yards but looked a bit sluggish doing so. Leonard isn’t built to carry a full load. Bobby Rainey, who was claimed off waivers from the Browns on October 21, saw his first action as a member of the Bucs. He was sprinkled into the mix and showed a bit more juice than soon-to-be 30-year-old Leonard. Rainey broke off a 31-yard run in the fourth quarter before beating everyone to the left pylon for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown a couple plays later. If the Bucs don’t go out and sign a veteran to lead their backfield, our best guess is that Rainey will handle early-down work while Leonard sticks to his third-down duties and mixes in a bit. Rainey is worth a look in 14-team leagues. Leonard is on the deep-league PPR radar. The Bucs host the Falcons in Week 11.
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Dolphins at Bucs Quick Slants
Ryan Tannehill looked good for most of the night, but he also missed a couple throws. He completed 12 consecutive passes before halftime. Prior to that, Tannehill couldn’t hit a wide-open Mike Wallace for what would have been a 30-plus-yard pickup. The second-year quarterback has seen his ups and downs in 2013. … The Dolphins rushed for just two yards, a franchise-worst. Lavonte David is a monster on the Tampa Bay defense. … Tim Wright saw just one target against a Dolphins defense that struggles against tight ends. The Bucs were running the ball with too much ease to turn to the passing game. … Rishard Matthews entered the game with ten catches on the season and 21 in his career. He caught 11 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Matthews has stepped in as Miami’s new slot receiver following Brandon Gibson’s season-ending knee injury. Matthews is on the radar in deeper PPR leagues. … Vincent Jackson was targeted a team-high eight times but didn’t seem to be on the same page with Mike Glennon a couple times. Jackson should get back on track next week against Atlanta. V-Jax burned the Falcons for 138 yards and two touchdowns on ten catches in Week 7.
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News Nugget #1
The Seahawks activated Percy Harvin (hip) from the reserve/PUP list Monday. He’s been doing stuff on the field with the team for the past few weeks but will get in his first official practice of the season on Wednesday, according to coach Pete Carroll. Carroll has been upbeat about Harvin but has also consistently said the team has no plans to rush him back. Carroll says how Harvin “responds” will determine if he makes his Seahawks debut this week against his former Vikings teammates.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport have both reported that the plan is for Harvin to indeed take his first snaps of the 2013 season this upcoming Sunday. Schefter stated on NFL Insiders that Harvin will face his old ‘mates “not in a full capacity” and play in “limited spots.”
With that bit of information, it will be hard to trust Harvin as anything more than a WR3 gamble for Week 11. The Seahawks have a Week 12 bye before hosting the Saints in what surely will be one heck of an NFC battle on Monday Night Football in Week 13. We’d fully expect Harvin to be all systems go against New Orleans, just in time for the start of the fantasy playoffs. Harvin needs to be owned in all formats. He’s one of the most dynamic, electrifying talents in the game and possesses WR1 upside.
News Nugget #2
Returning from a torn groin that he suffered in Week 7, Jay Cutler suffered a high-ankle sprain against the Lions on Sunday. The Bears have ruled Cutler out for Week 11 and they’re calling him week-to-week. High-ankle sprains are typically multi-week injuries, so it’s safe to say he’s highly questionable at best for Week 12. Cutler was still noticeably being affected by his groin injury in Week 10, and coach Marc Trestman admitted he should have removed Cutler from the game before he finally did with 2:18 left in the fourth quarter.
Josh McCown, who has completed 42-of-70 passes for 538 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions in one start and parts of two other games, will get the start against the Ravens this week. He’s been able to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers and should be able to keep the Bears in games. For fantasy purposes, we wouldn’t downgrade Brandon Marshall or Alshon Jeffery too much. Matt Forte receives a bump. McCown will be a mid-range QB2.
News Nugget #3
Jake Locker exited Sunday’s game against the Jaguars with a right foot injury. All we knew by the time Sunday night was over was that Locker wasn’t going to play in Week 11 against the Colts and that the Titans feared the injury could be season-ending.
On Monday, coach Mike Munchak confirmed Locker suffered a Lisfranc injury and his season is over. Whether Locker needs surgery is not yet known. Ryan Fitzpatrick will quarterback the Titans for the remainder of the season. He’ll be nothing more than a weekly low-end QB2 option, and that’s putting it kindly. Locker has one year left on his rookie deal. By the time the 2013 season ends, Locker will have missed 14 games due to injury. The Titans may look for his replacement next offseason.
Quarterback/Running Back Slants
Peyton Manning (ankle) is expected to be fine for Week 11 against the Chiefs after an MRI revealed no new damage. … Nick Foles will remain the Eagles’ starter moving forward. … The Packers signed old friend Matt Flynn. He’ll back up Scott Tolzien this week against the Giants. Seneca Wallace (groin) is likely headed to injured reserve. … Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) remains without a timetable for return, per coach Mike McCarthy. … Chad Henne will continue to start for the Jaguars. … Coach Dennis Allen says Rashad Jennings has “earned more touches” going forward. Darren McFadden remains day-to-day with his hamstring injury. Jennings will be an RB2 in Week 11 against the Texans, assuming McFadden sits out. … Interim head coach Wade Phillips would neither confirm nor deny that Arian Foster needs season-ending back surgery. … Coach John Harbaugh said there’s “no doubt” Ray Rice is still being affected by his early-season hip injury. Harbaugh added that he’ll go with a hot-hand approach in the backfield between Rice and Bernard Pierce moving forward. … Mark Ingram is expected to continue to be the No. 3 running back even after his 145-yard effort Sunday night. … Jonathan Stewart played 22 snaps to DeAngelo Williams’ 20 against the 49ers.
Wide Receiver/Tight End Slants
The Colts promoted Da’Rock Rogers from the practice squad. He dominated in college and has an intriguing size-speed blend but his status as a world-class knucklehead kept him from being drafted in April. Rogers will try to impress coaches the second half of the season and see if he can work his way up the depth chart. … Tavon Austin played just 15 offensive snaps in his breakout Week 10 against the Colts. … Santonio Holmes (hamstring) is expected to return to the lineup this week. … The Cardinals are calling Michael Floyd (shoulder) day-to-day. … Roddy White played 56-of-58 snaps in his return to the lineup Sunday. … Dez Bryant insisted his back didn’t bother him at all in the Week 10 loss. … Stevie Johnson is battling a right groin injury. He plans to play in Week 11, but we’ll find out more later in the week. … Coach Mike Smith declined to update the status of Tony Gonzalez (toe) at Monday’s presser.