Random thoughts as we enter Week 13:
Sam Bradford, QB, Rams:
- If I was starting an NFL franchise right now, and could draft any player from any team, I'd take Philip Rivers first overall. If you disagree, who would you put first? Don't tell me a non-QB - today's NFL is dominated by elite QBs - you have to start there. I can see arguments for Tom Brady, but he's already 33. Rivers is just 28 and has several years left in his prime. Peyton Manning isn't even in the conversation - he's 34 and on the downside of his career. (Nobody wants to come out and say it, but his skill set may be deteriorating right before our eyes). There's an argument for Matt Ryan or Sam Bradford, but they aren't on Rivers' level yet and for all we know may never be. Heck, I'm not sure anyone has maintained the level of play Rivers has shown recently. The past two-plus seasons, Rivers has 85 TDs versus just 29 INTs, and check out the insane YPA, year-by-year - 8.4 in 2008, 8.8 last year, and now 8.9. The only player in NFL history who's done anything like that was Kurt Warner from 1999-2001 with the "Greatest Show on Turf," and Warner had inner-circle Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk and borderline HOFers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. Except for Antonio Gates, Rivers is posting these numbers with a revolving door of C and D-level receivers, especially this year. Skeptics will argue he hasn't come through in the playoffs, but you could have said the same thing about Manning not too long ago. As for Aaron Rodgers, I'd have him second, even though he's two years younger, because his running style makes him more injury-prone and he has fared poorly in close games throughout his career. For me, the only question at the top spot is whether I'd prefer to start my team with Rivers or Bill Belichick.
- Call me stubborn, but I still think the Eagles are better than the Bears. Asante Samuel being out made a huge difference, as he's the type to get an INT or two on boneheaded throws that Jay Cutler always makes. If these teams meet again in the playoffs, remember that Samuel missed the Week 12 matchup.
- I emailed a few buddies the other day asking them to put $100 down for me on the Chargers winning the Super Bowl at +1400 (in Vegas, legally). Nobody came through for me, and I'm not very happy about it. I'm not going to name names (it was Liss, Dalton and Payne), but after shellacking the Colts, the Chargers are down to +850. Dang it. Anyway, other notables:
Patriots + 700
Packers + 800
Steelers + 800
Jets + 850
Eagles + 900
Saints + 1000
Giants + 1200
Bears + 1500
Colts + 1500
Chiefs + 5000
Jaguars + 10000
Vikings + 20000
- If you ever wondered what it's like to be a Bills fan, think about it like this. They're 2-9 and suffered some absolutely demoralizing losses (including three in overtime in the past six games), yet this is the most I've enjoyed watching them play since I can remember. It's twisted, really - I have no delusions about playoffs, so I can just watch and be entertained at the never-ending ways they find to lose games.
- Steve Johnson had an awful drop in overtime, but if he enters next season with Ryan Fitzpatrick as his QB, I think you have to draft Johnson as a top 12 fantasy WR. He's getting crazy targets (10 more last week), scores TDs, plays on a team with a bad defense, and has no real competition as the top WR. When I look at the play where he dropped the ball, I realize the drop was bad, but realize, too, that he got wide open in overtime against an elite team despite double-coverage because he ran an awesome route. Lee Evans faded into the background for years in the face of double-coverage on a bad team - studs post stats despite it.
- If I'm a Steelers opponent, I game-plan against them the same way the Bills did - take away Mike Wallace and force them to win by running and with underneath throws to Hines Ward.
- Any reason we shouldn't create a website for people to make donations to help Andre Johnson pay his fine for beating up Cortland Finnegan on Sunday? OK, there are two reasons - we're in a recession, and Johnson has plenty of money to pay the fine on his own. That said, Finnegan has had that coming for a long time, and it was awesome to see.
- Speaking of having people chip in money, how about we all pay $10 to have Vince Young for a private workout with Rotowire. Nothing crazy - just five minutes. Wouldn't you love to know if he can throw accurately despite his thumb injury? The more I think about it, and after watching the Titans spit up on themselves on Sunday, the more I wonder - how did Jeff Fisher not at least let Young try to play? What's the worst that happens - he sails a few balls and you take him out? Would that have been worse than what we saw Sunday? Has Fisher become such an egomaniac - or so entrenched in his opinion that VY isn't the QB for the Titans - that he's not doing what's best for the team? Particularly since they claimed Randy Moss, and Kerry Collins was already injured, how don't you try to salvage the season with Young?
Yes, I'm concerned Bradford won't have to throw much against an awful Cardinals team this week. But the Cardinals are bad, and Bradford seems like a good bet for a multiple-TD day, even if the yardage total may not be great. Besides, unless you like Jon Kitna
at Indy or Josh Freeman
against the Falcons, there really aren't any other good options among QBs likely to be found on waivers.
Toby Gerhart, RB, Vikings:
The Vikings are trying to ascertain the significance of Adrian Peterson
's ankle injury. If he's out this week, Gerhart gets a sweet matchup against a Bills defense that gives away rushing yards like candy on Halloween. If I had to choose right now, I'd make Gerhart my top waiver choice this week - he's a must start in virtually all formats if Peterson is inactive.
Derrick Ward, RB, Texans: Arian Foster
has been the NFL's best running back, and Ward is hardly seeing the field, so Ward seems like a waste of a roster spot. At this point of the season, though, why own a running back or receiver who you're never possibly going to start? If Foster were to get hurt, you'd be starting Ward for the rest of the season. Even if the chances of that are only, say, 10%, I'd rather use a bench spot that way. The Adrian Peterson
and Frank Gore
injuries are a good illustration of what could happen to Foster.
Brian Westbrook, RB, 49ers:
Westbrook looked great on Monday night filling in for an injured Frank Gore
, but let's not go overboard. The Cardinals may be the worst team in the NFL right now. Even if Gore is out again this week, a matchup in Green Bay is not nearly as appealing for Westbrook. That said, as I've said in recent weeks with Keiland Williams
and Mike Goodson
, you can't ignore feature backs, even in bad matchups.
Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers:
My gut tells me that Jackson won't be in a rush to return from his calf injury. After all, he was content to sit out 10 games when he was healthy, so undoubtedly he's in no hurry to get back on the field. I can't put him as "dead to me," though, because if I'm wrong, Jackson will have Rivers throwing to him. I'd stash Jackson on the bench instead of a mediocre RB or WR who you'll never start.
Legedu Naanee, WR, Chargers:
I don't perceive Naanee has the upside of Vincent Jackson
or Malcom Floyd
, but if those guys are injured, Naanee becomes Rivers' top option and makes a decent start this week against Oakland.
Hines Ward, WR, Steelers:
If I'm right about how teams game-plan against the Steelers, Ward will have more value going forward. In a nasty divisional matchup with the Ravens, I can see him scoring a TD.
Ben Obomanu, WR, Seahawks:
I'm not terribly excited about Obomanu on a mediocre Seahawks passing offense, but he looks like the best receiver on Seattle if Mike Williams
is inactive. Obomanu has had 6 targets each of the past two games and has scored a TD in three of the past four, so there's been some production here. Consider him a plug for deeper leagues.
Brent Celek, TE, Eagles:
I was clamoring in a recent Live Blog about how the Eagles had to incorporate Celek into the offense given how teams were defending the Eagles WRs. Last week, the Eagles finally made the adjustment, as Mike Vick targeted Celek 8 times, good for 50 yards and a TD. This week, Celek gets a Texans pass defense that should revert to form as the league's worst.
Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots:
With Darrelle Revis
covering Wes Welker
(I'd guess) and Antonio Cromartie
covering Deion Branch
, there's a fair chance that Tom Brady
will look to his tight ends more than usual this week.
The Texans have a historically bad pass defense, yet they posted a shutout against the Titans last week. In related news, the Titans started rookie Rusty Smith
at QB. Keep an eye on Kerry Collins
' progress from his calf injury - if he can't play again this week, the Jaguars are a good option for your fantasy defense.
I thought about profiling the Seahawks defense since they play at home against the Panthers, but Carolina's defense is good enough that they mask some of the flaws from starting Jimmy Clausen
. Plus, Seattle's defense is terrible. The Rams should win their division, and they face a Cardinals team that stinks on both sides of the ball.