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NFL Barometer: Cardinal In Crisis

Mario Puig

Mario Puig

Mario sets the direction of RotoWire's college football and NFL draft content, with his other responsibilities primarily resting in those same subjects. He's a fan of Ishmael Butler, James Harrison and David Bowie.

RISING

Alshon Jeffery, WR, CHI


Quarterback Jay Cutler hyped Jeffery all offseason, saying at one point that Jeffery had a better training camp than anyone else in the Chicago offense. If the last two weeks are any indication, Cutler wasn’t especially guilty of hyperbole. After only making an impact in PPR leagues in the first three weeks, when he totaled 13 catches for 104 yards while running for 30 more yards, Jeffery went wild over the last two weeks by catching 15 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns on 24 targets, adding 27 more yards on the ground. After primarily using him on short routes in the first few games, the Bears have finally realized Jeffery's potential as a downfield target, where his size and ability to high-point the ball in traffic allow him to bully defensive backs. Jeffery has shown some signs of streakiness and therefore might ideally make him more of a flex option than a WR2, but volatility aside, his aggregate numbers to this point are WR2 quality.

Harry Douglas, WR, ATL

Julio Jones is expected to miss the rest of the season with a foot injury and Roddy White is dealing with both ankle and hamstring issues, leaving the Falcons with just Douglas and Tony Gonzalez as its only pass-catching candidates who are both healthy and vaguely accomplished. Although he has yet to score on the season, Douglas is averaging a decent figure of 8.1 yards per target, and he should be a candidate for around eight looks per game with Jones (59 targets in five games) out of the lineup.

Keenan Allen, WR, SD

Although he fell to the third round of the 2013 draft, Allen was for a long time expected to be a first-round pick, perhaps even the first wide receiver selected. A persistent PCL ailment kept him from working out for much of the pre-draft process, and then he ran a 4.7-second 40-yard dash that sank his stock even further. Allen has caught fire over the last two weeks, though, and it appears that the Chargers might have themselves a steal. Allen has 11 catches for 195 yards and a touchdown on 15 targets over the last two weeks and, with Malcom Floyd out for the year, there’s no reason why he can’t maintain the momentum. Philip Rivers is putting up strong numbers in the passing game, and somebody has to catch those passes.

Andre Ellington, RB, ARZ

Rashard Mendenhall isn’t impressive, but Ellington is consistently gaining ground in the Arizona backfield rotation due to his own merits rather than any deficiencies Mendenhall might have. The explosive rookie out of Clemson is probably a second-round talent rather than a sixth-round one, and he only dropped to that sixth round due to his inability to stay healthy in college. Ellington forced an even split with Mendenhall against Carolina on Sunday, with each runner taking 30 snaps. Ellington ran for 52 yards on seven carries while catching four passes for 31 yards. Ellington is now up to 120 yards (6.7 YPC) on the ground and 144 yards (6.6 YPT) though the air, with all but 13 of those receiving yards coming in the last four games.

Nick Foles, QB, PHI

Michael Vick (hamstring) will likely miss at least this week’s game against Tampa Bay, and there’s probably a decent chance that he’ll miss the next week’s game against Dallas, too. Foles will almost certainly head back to the bench when Vick is healthy, but as long as he’s on the field Foles should provide borderline QB1 value to those who use him. Through five games, Vick and Foles combined for a total of 198 pass attempts and carries, which averages out to 39.6 per game. In Philadelphia’s hurry-up offense, Foles should push for 35 pass attempts per game, which projects to nice yardage numbers when you consider Foles is averaging 8.2 yards per attempt while Vick averages 9.0 yards per attempt.

FALLING

Matt Schaub, QB, HOU


T.J. Yates Time might not be here quite yet, but it's definitely right around the corner if Schaub doesn't drastically improve the quality of his play. Over Houston’s last three games – all lossess – the Texans were outscored 87-32 by the Ravens, Seahawks and 49ers, and Schaub threw two touchdowns (both against Seattle) compared to eight interceptions. The Texans are a team with too much ambition to let that slide for long. Schaub should do well this week against a St. Louis team that is badly underachieving on defense, but a road matchup with Kansas City the week after is a very dangerous setting for Schaub.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARZ

The Cardinals have faced some tough defenses over the last three weeks, as all of New Orleans, Tampa Bay and Carolina have been rude to opposing offenses this year, but it is nonetheless obvious that Carson Palmer is a really bad quarterback. He is averaging just 6.6 yards per attempt on the year and has just five touchdowns compared to nine interceptions. Fitzgerald’s fantasy value has suffered badly for it, and he heads into his sixth game with just 24 catches for 288 yards and three touchdowns. There unfortunately doesn’t appear to be any end in sight for Fitzgerald’s struggles, because Palmer is regressing and the schedule is extremely tough in the next couple of weeks – San Francisco and Seattle are not what a struggling pass offense wants to see.

Ryan Broyles, WR, DET

Nate Burleson (arm) missed the last two games and Calvin Johnson (knee) sat out Sunday’s ugly loss to Green Bay, but Broyles hasn’t done anything noteworthy for the Lions in that span of time. It’s possible he has not fully recovered from his December ACL tear, but the fact that he has been on the field since the preseason implies otherwise. It appears that Matthew Stafford quite simply isn’t looking Broyles’ way, because he has seen just six targets on the year despite the fact that he’s averaging 10.2 yards per target, compared to the 7.0 yards per target and 5.8 yards per target averaged by more favored wideouts Kris Durham and Patrick Edwards, respectively. Broyles averaged a similarly effective 9.7 yards per target in 10 games as a rookie, so his lack of use is puzzling.

Kenny Britt, WR, TEN

Britt’s 2013 season couldn’t have gone much worse than it has so far. He has six catches for 52 yards in four games, while averaging a remarkably bad 2.4 yards per target, and he has earned criticism for drops and a generally poor approach to his profession. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains was clearly irritated with Britt after Sunday's loss to Kansas City, attributing three drops to Britt while saying the team would have to "reassess everything" in reference to Britt. It seems at this point tha the Titans not only have no use for Britt, but they don’t even like him that much. For the sake of Britt’s fantasy value, hopefully he gets traded or cut soon.

Brandon Myers, TE, NYG

Myers remains the clear top tight end with the Giants, which historically is a role that provides good fantasy production. However, his role as a receiver appears to be dwindling. After receiving 19 targets in the first two weeks, just 12 targets have gone Myers' way over the last three games as wideouts Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle have increased their share of the team's target distribution. There’s a chance that Myers might regain the prominence in the offense he held during the first two weeks, especially when/if he gets over the ankle injury he has played through lately, but it’s far from a guarantee since Eli Manning has an uber-talented trio of wideouts to throw to in Victor Cruz, Nicks and Randle.