Scouting Notebook: Quality over quantity for Charles

I think any commentary right now would be crass without first giving the NFL a virtual standing ovation for outdoing itself every week with games that are simply astounding while setting new standards for pulse-racing excitement. Nothing else comes close.

Layering in our fake games just dials everything up to 11. And with epic games we get epic fantasy football scoring, too.

Like many who were still alive, I was "Charles'd" out of the playoffs, as in Jamaal Charles. But I tip my cap to Andy Reid and the Chiefs for realizing that piling up meaningless touches with him was doomed. The “less is more” approach, especially getting him in space on Sunday in the passing game, is clearly the way to go with this undersized but dynamic weapon. He’s gone from the high 20s to the low 20s in touches of late and Sunday he had just 16 for 215 total yards and four receiving touchdowns (five total), the first time in history a running back has done that.

We are biased toward offense. And irrespective of fantasy football, I know that it’s best to build an offense because it generally controls outcomes. But of course there are exceptions at the extreme ends of the defensive scale. What we are witnessing now in Dallas is really disgraceful. Letting a team’s fourth quarterback of the season (Matt Flynn) come in and light you up in the second half? Providing no resistance to Eddie Lacy (who is very solid now and, barring injury, for the foreseeable future)? Ridiculous.

Why the roof always seems to fall in late in the season on Tony Romo is a mystery but it’s never the quarterback’s fault when the other team scores 37 points and gains over 450 yards.

Isn’t Dez Bryant just the best though? That touchdown catch has to be seen to be believed. And that the refs got the call right on the field is amazing, too, given the grab seemed to defy multiple laws of physics. Beyond Romo, the real mystery with the Cowboys is why they just don’t play pitch and catch with Dez more given that even being well covered by multiple defenders isn’t an impediment to scoring. I also love Bryant’s obvious passion for the game. When you care so much and are so good you can only be great.

I don’t think I’d ever trust DeMarco Murray because he’s tall and relatively slender and runs tall, too. When he’s healthy, he’s often phenomenal but I just can’t allow myself to get caught up in that because he’s an injury waiting to happen.

Standard yards scoring for QBs is very annoying when a quarterback just piles up attempts in total garbage time like Drew Brees did. Add in a rushing TD and it was quite a productive day for a nothing day in reality.

Man, Marques Colston is a beast now suddenly. Every year there are castoffs or nobodies who make a lot of noise down the stretch. But again, when you start in a high-volume passing offense, it’s much easier to see an obvious path to fantasy relevance. Colston certainly should not have been cut. And when he’s healthy, he almost has to be a top 40 receiver, i.e, a starter, by default.

Zac Stacy is definitely first-round material next year. He fits the model with his body mass and his downhill, decisive style. You don’t want backs who you need to worry about getting subbed out in goal-line sets.

Quite a day for DeAngelo Williams, who I liked a lot in the summer because he’s really good. But he’s generally looked a step slower this year and is going to be 31 so forget about him in 2014. In Week 16 (vs. Saints), go for it.

I think Steve Smith is on the other side of the mountain now, too. Don’t try to catch falling knives, kids.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has been very productive generally (except for Week 14). But his day was all volume. His line on Sunday  (30-58-402) didn't even work out to 7.0 per attempt, which is below average. It’s important to play volume though when we can reasonably project it. Ironically, this is what we thought we’d see last week in Denver.

Alfred Morris’ fumbles aren’t a long-term concern. On one he had the ball knocked out by his own lineman, which is not a contested area where you’re really thinking ball security. The other one was a punch out. Why hang players for these types of miscues?

When I advise against a guy like Steven Jackson, I look more at the 15-38 than the two scores. And it’s the same thing when a back I think is going to get stuffed goes 15-105 without finding the end zone. Touchdowns are random and thus, generally (there of course are exceptions) not bettable.

Pierre Garcon, who had the second-most targets without much to show for them, finally had a real impact on the game in Week 15. I still am not sure he’s the same player he was before last year’s foot injury. He’s not big and, without elite speed, what is he?

I would have played Jordan Cameron last week and this week and it really would have stung this time. But you need to look at the big numbers and 75-848-7 is an every-week starter at tight end.

Where Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery go next year will be very interesting. They both seem like top 10 receivers. But this is a very loaded class coming up, in the first-tier at least. And who goes first? That’s really tough. Jeffery is getting better. Marshall has probably seen his best days. So, there, I answered it for you. Of course, you can wait for Marshall to go and THEN take Jeffery.

Well so much for Case Keenum’s future. Remember all that chemistry with Andre Johnson? It seems so long ago. Johnny Manziel in Houston makes a lot of sense to me.

Another meh day for Andrew Luck, who is just a guy at QB, in fantasy at least. In reality, he is middling in both YPA and passer rating (to be kind). Trent Richardson? Nah.

I say I don’t like short and slow. I have no problem with short and really fast, like DeSean Jackson, one of the most electric players I’ve ever seen. He lost an easy TD on a reverse when Nick Foles stupidly and meaninglessly blocked below the waist.

Riley Cooper is the clear No. 2 and not an elite player but he can have a big day in that offense at any time. Indoors in Minnesota, he had to be played. You have to bump up all players in this Chip Kelly offense. Don’t worry about overdrafting them.

Greg Jennings isn’t the guy to get next year in Minnesota. I’ll wager that Cordarrelle Patterson is, even later. But next week? Jennings.

I have nothing positive to say about the Bills or the Jaguars. Will you take two negative statements?

Since November 17th, Marshawn Lynch has 69 carries for 218 yards, a clip of 3.16 per tote. That’s terrible. The Seahawks are going to run their way right out of this postseason, I predict.

Eli Manning has three 20-plus interception seasons, third most since 1990. Only 12 QBs even have two.

Here is a depressing story hot off the presses for those who invested in the Giants passing game:

Tom Brady was also all volume. No one can break a play for him.

What the heck happened with Shane Vereen? It’s always dangerous to play a running back because you think he’s going to catch a lot of passes. Teams can put a stop to that especially when his mere presence on the field telegraphs intent.

Michael Crabtree looks like he’s the play over Anquan Boldin. But Vernon Davis is the man in San Francisco, as he should be. Davis’ 16.43 yards per reception is the most by a tight end with at least 40 grabs since 1981, and he’s the first TE ever with two seasons of 12 or more TDs.

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