This was the "Any Given Sunday" Sunday. Let's dissect in the Scouting Notebook. Remember to send me any questions, comments, pro-Tim Tebow tirades/eternal damnation threats to me via Twitter @MichaelSalfino.
Since Reggie Bush was drafted in 2006, there have been 380 games where a back has had at least 25 carries. Bush hadn't been one of them until Sunday. He made the most of these extra touches, topping 200 rushing yards. He's only going to be 27 next season, younger than Michael Bush and DeAngelo Williams and only six months older than Chris Johnson. Where does he get drafted in '12? He's an injury risk, but every running back is that. Let's put him comfortably in the top 36.
I really thought that this was Tebow's best game. I'm not going to be a hypocrite about it. It doesn't matter to me that the Broncos lost just like it didn't matter to me that the Broncos won his other games. Tebow threw the ball better than I've seen and also had by far his best game as a runner (where he's been ordinary). Still, he had two quarters where he wasn't able to generate any offense at all. Tebow to me is the QB equivalent of a knuckler. When he's going good, you enjoy it but you know it's not going to last. If he does become good/valuable, the Broncos can't use him in the read option because teams have a free shot on him every time he fakes the ball. Thus far, I'm only aware of the Jets' Bart Scott taking advantage of this. But it's legal. Right now, the Broncos don't care very much if he gets hurt. It's like the Abbott and Costello joke: "I want to marry an ugly girl because the pretty girl is liable to run away." "Isn't the ugly girl liable to run away, too?" "Yeah, but who cares?" And I will still wager that Tebow, when he loses the read option, will end up being like Tim Wakefield without his knuckler. Tebow would be a dynamite backup/relief pitcher though.
C.J. Spiller is interesting. The Bills, if they are smart, will trade Fred Jackson, who will be 31 next year. But I do not think the Bills are smart. Drafting Spiller in the first place in the top 10 was insane. Backs hardly ever get taken that high anymore because backs are mostly fungible.
The Titans are not remotely a playoff team, so losing to the Colts is the best thing that could have happened to them. Jake Locker has been effective in relief and needs to start now.
We don't know enough about the 2012 Colts to project Donald Brown, but I liked Brown this summer only because the Colts don't generally whiff on No. 1 picks. But I do not like him next week against the Texans, who should have Wade Phillips wearing a headset next week and really need the game to try to get the No. 2 seed.
Cam Newton and Steve Smith (and also DeAngelo Williams to a lesser extent) took advantage of Phillips's absence. The Texans looked pretty ordinary on defense. Coaching is so much more important in football than in any other sport. It's another wild card in projecting players, making doing so in fantasy football so difficult but so interesting, too. Compared to fantasy football, fantasy baseball is painting by numbers. It's hitter vs. pitcher and often the baselines for each are so well established. Take Player A in football and put him with Coach B in System C and the range of possibilities is enormous.
Drew Brees against the Vikings wasn't fair to everyone who faced Brees in the fantasy playoffs this week. But you can't say you didn't see it coming.
If you had Eli Manning on your team, though, you may have thought you could counter Brees. For most of that game, in most scoring formats, Manning was in negative point territory. Hakeem Nicks trying to catch a wide open bomb with his face mask didn't help. Nicks is known league wide for his great hands. He later dropped another touchdown pass, too.
Boy, that Kyle Orton didn't really produce much in fantasy but he's a real winner, isn't he? Remember when he went 6-0 to start his Broncos career with some miracle finishes? That raised his career mark at the time to 18-6. Then all of a sudden he couldn't win anymore. Hmmm. What's the lesson here, class?
Calvin Johnson is just ridiculous. His showing on Sunday in Oakland was epic. It's pretty sweet when your player's performance matters even more to him and to his teammates than it does to you in winning your week. Makes the universe seem like it's in harmony, doesn't it? Johnson gives Matthew Stafford such a high floor. I don't like all the shots Stafford takes, but he's a solid pick next year in the fifth round (and I hate taking QBs then in 12-team leagues). Since he plays indoors, I'd take him over Eli Manning. And if Norv Turner is fired, over Philip Rivers, too. (Turner knows his offense, don't kid yourself.)
It's funny how the Jets and Giants were both pasted but still control their playoff destiny (Jets own tiebreakers over the Bengals). The Jets defense is going to be in a nasty mood after being dismantled by the Eagles in a turnover-plagued game. If you survived Hakeem Nicks this week, you will not in Week 16. Same goes for Eli Manning, who will not score as many fantasy points as Mark Sanchez, book it.
Michael Salfino writes and edits the SNYWhyGuys blog that projects player and team performance for New Yorkers. He's also a quantative sports analyst whose writing regularly appears in the Wall Street Journal.