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Scouting Notebook: Hawks' Wilson soars

Michael Salfino
Yahoo Sports

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Russell Wilson: Top 12 QB for '13. (Getty)

The missing piece for Russell Wilson all year has been productivity via the ground, which was the one thing we all felt was most certain in August. Against the Bills on Sunday, Wilson cemented his status as a top 12 quarterback in 2013 by rushing for 92 yards and three scores. That boosts his year-to-date total of rushing yards to over 400. And, oh yeah, another ho-hum 100-plus QB Rating day, his seventh of the year and one short of Ben Roethlisberger's rookie record (Robert Griffin III also has seven). But before we get too excited, Pat Haden had five for the Rams in 1975, when a 100 rating really meant something special. I'll say that it's about 25 percent that Wilson regresses next year in fantasy production (higher in rating of course), 50 percent that he stays about as productive and 25 percent that he improves.

The Steelers have really struggled in pass defense of late so the performance of Tony Romo and his receivers shouldn't have been a big surprise. But it was a pleasure to watch Romo and Roethlisberger, who are so much alike, escape seemingly certain capture in the pocket and go on to make big plays. This is Romo's worst year statistically and it would be ironic if he ends it by winning in December and capturing the NFC East title.

I don't understand how Jamaal Charles ends up with 10 yards on nine carries when the Raiders clearly seemed to have given up at stopping the run. Meanwhile, the Chiefs are the team that gives up and lets the opponent steamroll them on the ground. In the future, I'm going to really weight home team a lot more than last-week performance when trying to assess these meaningless, late-season contests for fantasy purposes.

That's it for Jim Schwartz in Detroit, I'd wager. Matthew Stafford's career is at a crossroads, too. Is he going to be good or so volatile that the mean ends up being mediocre? I'd bet the latter because I didn't even think Stafford was that good last year, which was a volume feast. The lesson is to check lofty TD totals against yards per pass attempt and when the latter isn't 8.0 or better, fade that guy.

Last week I took a lot of heat for saying that Philip Rivers was far better in reality than Carson Palmer. I deserved that. Rivers's rating was pretty good Sunday at 96.5 but the YPA was a sickening 5.3 and he just cannot hold on to the football, now fumbling 15 times (four Sunday) and losing seven (two vs. Panthers). Yes, he's now been sacked 43 times and the league average is a fumble every four sacks, typically. But that's bad and you have to get above average at holding the ball when you have so much getting-sacked practice.

Aaron Rodgers cannot be benched against anyone and came through as usual for his owners today, though it was a worrisome start. James Jones now has 12 touchdowns on barely 50 catches and 600 receiving yards. That's what we in the business call a "fluke."

Matt Forte brings a lot of nice things to the table but scores a touchdown every 2-3 games, which means he shouldn't be drafted before the third round, even in PPR. Take a shot on someone who can get goal-line work for easy points.

There is no team more volatile than the Giants and that's because of up-and-down-like-a-roller-coaster Eli Manning, who posted a 38.9 QB rating – over 100 points less than Sunday's counterpart Matt Ryan. That's Eli's fourth game under 60 in rating this year. Peyton has two since November 2008 and they're both 58-plus.

And Josh Freeman is even more volatile than Eli with an equally high number of plus-100 and below-70 QB rating games in his career while the top guys are about 3-to-1. How the Saints, the NFL's lowest-rated defense, could shut out a pretty explosive Bucs offense is even more crazy than the Cardinals scoring 38 points today, I believe.

Eight games is half of a season and Adrian Peterson has 1,300-plus rushing yards in his last eight. He's looking like vintage Jim Brown on these long scores, just running so easily by smaller men as if he has a higher gear. If he ever blows out his other knee, look out: 4,000 rushing yards.

Maybe Mark Ingram is a late bloomer and becomes the man next year? Nah, scrap that. Sean Payton will be back. Chaos surely will ensue.

Kirk Cousins looks good, too. That TD throw to Leonard Hankerson on the roll out was a thing of beauty. Mike Shanahan clearly can still work his play-calling magic when the players are good.

I think the RGIII effect on Alfred Morris is about 0.50-to-0.75 yards per carry. But who cares because he's going to have RGIII back, especially next year. So, 1,500 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013, which he'll probably finish with in 2012. I'll bet he'll be comfortable enough to haul in about 20 or 30 short passes, too. But what about Shanahan, who is so insane in the membrane with his backs? Scrap that nonsense (which I said was a nonsense in August). Morris has even had some big fumbles and it hasn't mattered a bit.

It looks like new Ravens OC Jim Caldwell wants to feature tight end Dennis Pitta (10 targets), so get him in your lineup if you still can.

Yeah, Knowshon Moreno had another big day, but the Ravens are nothing special now. So that was predictable.

Vick Ballard is the poor-man's Alfred Morris in keeper leagues. He has a nice setup going forward, too. The Chiefs await in Week 16.
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