As quarterback controversies go, John Skelton vs. Kevin Kolb is not exactly Steve Young vs. Joe Montana. In fact, Skelton-Kolb may not even be on the level of, say, Derek Anderson vs. Brady Quinn.
But after Arizona's Week 10 win at Philadelphia — a game in which Skelton passed for 315 yards (miraculously) and three touchdowns (one of which was nearly a pick-six) — we clearly have a controversy. Skelton has directed his team to back-to-back victories, without earning many style points; Kolb hasn't participated in a win since Week 1, yet he's the guy with the $65 million deal.
A debate is probably taking place among Cardinals fans, and coach Ken Whisenhunt has a tricky decision to make as he evaluates two flawed options. Kolb is dealing with toe and foot injuries at the moment, but he'll be available soon enough.
Do we care enough about this offense for fantasy purposes to actually add Arizona's quarterback, whoever he is? No, obviously not — and I'm saying this during a week in which Skelton ranks among the highest-scoring fantasy QBs. I wouldn't be high on either Skelton or Kolb in an NFC West-only league. Each player has issues, and the Cards entered the day ranked in the bottom-third of the NFL in both scoring and total yards.
Still, I'm tied to this lousy quarterback situation as a multi-league Fitzgerald owner, as are many of you. And I can say with confidence, on behalf of the global community of Fitzgerald investors, that we would like to see Skelton get another start or two (or maybe six).
Skelton is just reckless enough to make absurd throws into heavy coverage, like the one pictured above. That's half the battle right there. Sometimes those throws work, sometimes they fail spectacularly. But the point is, Skelton pulls the trigger, unafraid to risk disaster ... or simply unaware of the potential for disaster. Either way, he makes the throws. It's possible he owns Fitz in a PPR league.
Fitzgerald has seen his two highest target totals of the year in the past two weeks, with Skelton behind center. The pair connected seven times for 146 yards and two TDs against Philly. No, Fitzgerald isn't really seeing many Kurt Warner-quality targets, but whatever Skelton may lack in skill he makes up for in volume (at least partially). For that, he gets our full endorsement. Take all the time you need to get healthy, Kevin.
• Frank Gore came into Week 10 dealing with an ankle injury, and he's added a knee issue to the list of complaints. This is a player who obviously isn't known for his durability, so all tweaks and strains are cause for worry. The early word is that Gore should be available for the Week 11 match-up with Arizona, but that game seems like an ideal spot to give Kendall Hunter a significant workload. Hunter finished with six carries for 40 yards and a TD in Sunday's win against the Giants, while Gore finished with six for nothin'.
Niners quarterback Alex Smith went 19-for-30 with 242 passing yards against New York, and he connected with Vernon Davis on a busted-coverage 31-yard TD. (Kenny Phillips was overwhelmed by a leaping Davis at the goal line). Smith still hasn't topped 33 throws in any game this season, but he may never need to single-handedly win a game in the regular season, not with San Francisco's defense playing at its current ridiculous level. The Niners still haven't allowed a rushing touchdown, which seems impossible but is nonetheless true.
Eli Manning, we should note, was occasionally brilliant in the loss to the Niners. His touchdown tosses to Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham were flawless — just look at this thing, with a blitzer coming — but Eli's final pass was batted to the ground by Justin Smith, deep in Niners' territory. Manning now has 17 touchdown passes and eight interceptions through nine games; last season, it was 31 TDs (great) and 25 picks (awful).
• Matthew Stafford was the central figure in the fight of the day, a sideline melee that resulted in DJ Moore's ejection, and that will likely lead to a billion dollars in player fines. Stafford finished a nightmarish day with 66 pass attempts(!), four interceptions, one touchdown pass, and a broken finger. He remained in that game way too long, as did Calvin Johnson, Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. The outcome wasn't really in doubt following a pair of Stafford pick-sixes early in the third quarter. Both defenses were punishing opposing skill players all afternoon, beginning with this early demolition of Megatron, continuing well beyond this late hit on Cutler. Calvin was leveled twice more after Nick Fairley's assault on Jay. Needless to say, these teams are not fond of each other. I did not have a visual on the Lovie-Schwartz post-game handshake, but I assume it was uneventful.
• Ray Rice finished with only five carries in Baltimore's loss at Seattle, which seems like it's not quite the right workload ... by approximately 15 carries. He still caught eight passes for 54 yards, and he actually threw for an early score, so his fantasy line wasn't completely useless. But still: Five carries, while Joe Flacco puts the ball in the air 52 times. Yikes. Ed Dickson finally had the big day we all saw coming, catching 10 balls for 79 yards and two scores. That guy has been impressive all season, not just this week.
Marshawn Lynch had yet another big game for the Seahawks, receiving a huge workload: 32 carries for 109 yards and a TD, five catches for 58. Lynch has now found the end zone in each of his last five games. There's something to be said for guaranteed touches. Lynch has a string of friendly match-ups on deck (at STL, vs. Was, vs. Phi, vs. STL), so there's no benching him in the weeks ahead. I have zero shares of this player, and I'm willing to admit that was maybe a portfolio mistake.
Early waiver adds for Week 11...
QB Carson Palmer at Min
QB Sam Bradford vs. Sea
QB Matt Cassel at NE (there's an injury here, so adder beware)
RB Kendall Hunter vs. Ari
RB Lance Ball vs. NYJ (but let's be realistic: NY should own this one-dimensional offense)
RB Marion Barber vs. SD
RB Taiwan Jones at Min
RB/WR Dexter McCluster at NE (6 catches, 93 total yards in Week 10)
WR Denarius Moore at Min
WR Earl Bennett vs. SD
WR Damian Williams at Atl
WR Vincent Brown at Chi
WR Harry Douglas vs. Ten
WR Leonard Hankerson vs. Dal (8 catches, 106 yards vs. Miami)
TE Ed Dickson vs. Cin
-posted at 11:30 pm ET
• Tim Tebow didn't complete his first pass on Sunday until the final minutes of the third quarter, and he didn't complete his second until he hit Eric Decker with this rather impressive strike at the 6:44 mark in the fourth. His third completion was ... well, it was non-existent. There was no third completion.
As of this writing, Tebow is the No. 6 fantasy scorer at his position, despite completing only two of his eight throws against Kansas City. Denver's run-pass ratio was 55-to-8 on Sunday, which is unlike anything you typically see in the NFL — at least over the past six decades.
Lance Ball finished his day with an even 30 carries for 96 yards, taking over for the injured Knowshon Moreno (after Moreno had taken over for an injured Willis McGahee). He'll be an add of interest this week, if neither Willis or Knowshon can return for Week 11. Just note that Ball's upcoming match-up with the Jets isn't so friendly.
• When Chris Johnson met Carolina's defense on Sunday, it was essentially a clash between an easily resisted force and an easily moved object. CJ won the battle, rushing for 130 yards and a score on 27 carries, gaining 75 of his yards in the fourth quarter. He added four catches for 44 yards, giving him — by a mile — his best fantasy line of the season. The Panthers entered Week 10 allowing the most fantasy points to opposing running backs, and they'll leave the week looking worse.
• Johnson wasn't the only Titan to top 100 scrimmage yards, as Damian Williams caught five passes for 107 and a score in Tennessee's win. That's four TDs for Williams in his last six games. He's widely available, relatively useful, and the Titans rest-of-season schedule is appealing: at Atl, TB, at Buf, NO, at Ind, Jac, at Hou.
• You might assume that in a week in which Matt Ryan attempted 52 passes and threw for 351 yards, Roddy White would have delivered a big fantasy number ... but no. White caught four balls for 62 yards, drawing another PI flag (his specialty). He also had a ball skip through his hands and into the arms of Saints linebacker Scott Shanle for an INT. Harry Douglas led the Falcons in receptions and yardage (8-133), and Tony Gonzalez caught six balls for 71 yards and a late score.
• Jeremy Maclin was dinged in the first half (shoulder), then again in the second (hamstring). We'll obviously be tracking his health situation all week. Neither Maclin nor any other member of Philly's receiving corps was at all useful on Sunday, as Michael Vick went just 16-for-34 with 128 passing yards, two interceptions and no scores. His game-ending pick was particularly awful. Vick was actually lucky to have finished with only two turnovers. With a record of 3-6, the Eagles are pretty much cooked. Sure, they have a few decent match-ups remaining on the schedule — like New England in Week 12 and Seattle in Week 13 — but most of us thought Arizona was a layup. My apologies for recommending any Eagles this week.
• It was this sort of day for Cam Newton...
...as the Panthers QB was harassed and abused all day by the Titans (five sacks). Newton passed for 212 yards and rushed for 55, but Carolina's offense never found the end zone. Some of us maybe needed a bigger game. Or at least a garbage time score ... anything. But the rookie was overdue for a less-than-stellar day; Cam's owners have all made a nice profit.
• Jimmy Graham was left all alone by the Atlanta defense on his 21-yard first half TD, accounting for the easiest of Drew Brees' 322 passing yards. Graham finished with seven catches for 82 yards and a score, reasserting his position atop the league's TE hierarchy. I'll assume you were never really worried.
• Houston simply destroyed the Bucs on Sunday, outscoring them 37-9 and out-gaining them 420 yards to 231. Arian Foster found the end zone twice, Ben Tate got there once, and Derrick Ward even broke the plane. The Texans' defense sacked Josh Freeman four times, picked him off three times, and held him to 170 passing yards on 33 throws. LeGarrette Blount was barely a rumor (10 carries, 34 yards), as often is the case when Tampa falls behind early. Matt Schaub finished with a solid fantasy line (242 yards, 2 TDs), thanks to an incredible yards-after-catch day by his receivers.
• In an otherwise awful day for Buffalo, Fred Jackson still found a way to help his owners, at least modestly (13 carries, 114 yards). But the Bills were a mess, as Ryan Fitzpatrick was intercepted three times — including a Terence Newman pick-six — and Stevie Johnson had an uncharacteristically quiet day (two catches, eight yards).
Dallas was completely dominant, winning by too great a margin for Tony Romo to compile any second half stats. Romo finished 23-for-26 with 270 yards and three TDs, finding Dez Bryant six times for 74 and a score. DeMarco Murray was terrific in all phases, rushing for 135 yards, catching six passes, stonewalling blitzers. That dude is an every-down back; Felix Jones is a supporting actor.
• Rashard Mendenhall rushed for just 2.8 yards per carry at Cincinnati, but he saved his fantasy day by crossing the goal line twice. On his late 9-yard score, Mendenhall left a trail of trail of shamed defenders behind him. Impressive run against a tough D.
• Curtis Painter was basically funny-bad against Jacksonville on Sunday, throwing two interceptions among his 19 passes, and nearly tossing more. Avoid these game highlights if you can. Dan Orlovsky eventually replaced Painter, an embarrassing moment for any pro. The Colts had no answer for Maurice Jones-Drew (137 total yards, TD), and they couldn't dent the Jaguars' defense (3 points). It's gonna take something more than Andrew Luck to fix that mess.
• We'll have more to say about Larry Fitzgerald's huge day in the final update. For now, let's simply note that Fitz caught seven passes for 146 yards and two TDs (and he was inches away from a third). There's something to be said for having a reckless quarterback who either doesn't see double-coverage, or doesn't care. We may just have ourselves a QB controversy in Arizona, though neither of the options are terribly interesting.
-posted at 6:15 pm ET
• Tony Romo opened his day with 13 straight completions, finishing the first half 18-for-19 with 237 yards and three scores. So that's ridiculous. It's nice to see Dez Bryant get chances to make degree-of-difficulty plays like this. If that guy is in single-coverage, he's open. Bryant's early highlight put Dallas on the board, then Romo connected with Laurent Robinson for a pair of scores. DeMarco Murray punched in a 1-yarder for the Cowboys' fourth TD of the first half.
This should go without saying, but we'll say it anyway: Ryan Fitzpatrick has Dallas right where he wants 'em. He seems to do his best work when trailing by 20 or more.
• Tim Tebow failed to complete a pass in the first two quarters against the Chiefs (0-for-4), yet he's still having an acceptable fantasy day. That's Tebow in a nutshell. He carried three times for 24 yards and a touchdown in the first half, breaking the plane from seven yards away on a designed keeper.
The bigger news for Broncos fans is that Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno have both checked out with injuries (hamstring, knee), leaving the backfield responsibilities to Lance Ball. Tebow might just be the team's most dangerous runner, even when everyone's healthy.
• Yup, Ryan Torain drew the start for the Washington Shanahans this week, not Roy Helu. Of course he did. Never mind the fact that Helu is coming off a 14-catch, 146-total yard game. This week Helu is merely playing on passing downs. Sure. Makes good sense. Torain's first 11 carries netted 20 yards.
• John Skelton offered up an early candidate for the day's ugliest throw, when he was pick-six'd by Asante Samuel. It was a short, ill-advised throw into heavy coverage, a pass that couldn't have gained much of anything if successful. High-risk, low-reward. Larry Fitzgerald owners appreciate the effort, but that ball never had a chance. Worked out nicely for Philly. Fitz caught a short score just five minutes later, his second in as many weeks with Skelton at the controls.
• Whoa, hey: Reggie Bush is getting goal line carries, and he's finding the end zone. Bush broke the plane from the 1-yard line in the early minutes in Miami, taking the final four touches on the Dolphins' first scoring drive. Daniel Thomas is in the gameplan, but Bush is again getting most of the work.
• Hey, here's something you may not have known: Jerricho Cotchery still gets paid to play football. He's a member of the Steelers' receiving corps, and he scored the first points for Pittsburgh on Sunday. Cotchery should have had a second early TD as well, but he cut off a route in the middle of the field, when left all alone. Ben Roethlisberger clearly thought Cotchery was going to continue running. Those two later connected on an apparent scoring play in the second quarter, but the TD was negated by penalty. Of course no one started Cotchery and, in all likelihood, no one's adding him. Moving on...
• While we're discussing catches that didn't actually count, take a look at this filthy grab by Kansas City rookie Jonathan Baldwin. He caught that thing clean, behind Brian Dawkins' back, but it was erased by penalty. You won't see a more difficult non-catch all year. Goodness.
• Matt Schaub owners caught a break when a first quarter red zone INT was overturned by replay review. Credit Derrick Mason with the quick strip on Aqib Talib, preventing the pick. Schaub finished the first half with an unexpected 222 passing yards on just 12 throws. He connected with Jacoby Jones on an 80-yard score, then later hit Arian Foster with a short pass that became a 78-yard TD. Not exactly a tackling clinic by the Tampa defense on either touchdown.
• AJ Green made an absolutely sensational touchdown catch near the end of the first quarter in Cincinnati, splitting Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark to haul in a 36-yard score, but he limped away from the play. Green hasn't revisited the box score since his TD; he was last seen riding the stationary bike on the sideline.
• Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham are both reportedly active for the late match-up with San Francisco, so use them with semi-confidence.
• Per their usual, Steven Jackson and Maurice Jones-Drew are both having big days in terms of yardage, but they haven't yet visited the end zone. When you play for teams that average just 12 points per game, these things happen.
-posted at 3:05 pm ET
ALERT: According to various reports, DeSean Jackson will be inactive in Week 10, punishment for having missed a team meeting on Saturday. TAKE EVASIVE ACTION. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
Jason Avant should see a bump in value, and so might Steve Smith and/or Riley Cooper. No doubt Jeremy Maclin was already in your fantasy plans. The match-up here is friendly (vs. Ari), so it should be a fine day for the Eagles passing game ... just not for D-Jax.
-posted at 9:50 am ET
OK, so maybe you're already trailing by 50-something points, facing some fool who started both Carson Palmer and Michael Bush this week. That's an annoying predicament, sure, but there's still hope. Until the finals seconds tick away on Monday night, you've got a chance — maybe not a great chance, but you're still in this thing. Don't concede, gamer. Set a good lineup, squeeze into the Wookiee suit, prepare for battle.
We've got huge games on the schedule this week, by the way. Playoff implications everywhere: Giants at 49ers, Steelers at Bengals, Behrens at Funston, Evans at Cole, Clemons at Hansen. I mean ... wow. That's a loaded slate right there.
Please consider spending a slice of your day with us, beginning with Fantasy Football Live at noon ET. And as usual, I'll be refreshing Sunday Scene throughout the day with notes and fantasy spin. If you're looking for post-practice injury notes, click here. For the updated Week 10 position ranks, try this link.
Now let's go get a win, then gather in comments to honor our defeated foes...
Photos via US Presswire