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NFL Barometer: Bear Down

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

Da'Rick Rogers, WR, IND


There were doubtlessly dozens of NFL Draft nerds exclaiming “FINALLY!” on Sunday as the Colts put Rogers into a lead wideout role against the Bengals, with the troubled but talented former Tennessee star turning his nine targets into six catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Character and/or work ethic issues led Rogers to go undrafted in the the 2013 recent draft and there was little demand for his services after the Bills cut him prior to the season, but Rogers has always had first-round talent at 6-foot-3, 208 pounds with WR1 athleticism. History says he will get to burning bridges in Indianapolis, perhaps in the near future, but as long as he’s playing big snaps he’s a very legitimate candidate to emerge as Andrew Luck’s No. 1 target.

Toby Gerhart, RB, MIN

Adrian Peterson is perhaps the most competitive player in the league and always an optimist regarding his injuries, but it seems like he will sit out this week’s game against Philadelphia due to the foot injury he suffered against Baltimore on Sunday. If Peterson does sit out, Gerhart would likely step in as starter and could provide as much as RB2 utility in a workhorse role. Double check on Gerhart’s status to make sure the hamstring tweak he suffered against the Ravens isn’t an issue this week, but it seems for now as if he’s not in much danger of sitting. Gerhart is producing at an extremely efficient level in 2013, averaging 7.9 yards per carry while running for 283 yards and two scores, and he put up 89 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries against the Ravens.

Dennis Pitta, TE, BAL

What was initially announced as a season-ending hip dislocation back in July ended up costing Pitta just 12 games, and his owners couldn’t have been much happier with how he played in his 2013 debut against Minnesota on Sunday. Although he played just 36 of Baltimore's 85 snaps, Pitta was frequently targeted by Joe Flacco, earning 11 targets – that’s nearly one every three plays – while catching six passes for 48 yards and a touchdown. It’s quite possible that Minnesota just totally neglected to game plan for Pitta, and he won’t remain under the radar of defensive coordinators moving forward, but Pitta seems like a legitimate threat to produce like a top-12 TE from here.

Jordan Todman, RB, JAC

Maurice Jones-Drew (hamstring) is questionable for this week’s game against Buffalo, leaving the realistic possibility that Todman might get a workhorse role as the Jaguars take on a defense that just allowed 127 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries Sunday. Allowing with five other teams, the Bills are allowing 4.2 yards per carry on the year, tied for 11th worst in the league. That's a nice on-paper fit for Todman, despite his unimpressive average of just 3.2 yards per carry on the year.

Jacob Tamme, TE, DEN

The concussion suffered by Wes Welker against Tennessee on Sunday – the second Welker suffered in a four-week span – figures to keep the slot wideout inactive as the Broncos take on San Diego on Thursday. Tamme saw his play count increase sharply when Welker left the field against the Titans, as Welker’s snap percentage drop from 90 the week before to 51 Sunday occurred alongside an increase from 27 to 51 percent for Tamme. Tamme finished the Tennessee game with four catches for 47 yards on five targets.

FALLING

Lamar Miller, RB, MIA


Not only did Daniel Thomas make a return to the field Sunday just a couple weeks after it was initially reported he would likely miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury, but he just happened to have the best game of his career in Miami’s victory over the Steelers on Sunday, running for 105 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries off the bench. The return of the timeshare was already bad news for Miller’s fantasy value, so the concussion he suffered in Thomas’ breakout game couldn’t have been worse timing. Even if Miller doesn’t miss any time, it’s hard to like him as much more than a flex consideration in leagues with 12 or more teams as long as Thomas is stealing touches.

Robert Griffin, QB, WAS

Griffin’s fantasy value isn’t exactly high these days, but it could see yet another drop in what has been a fairly disastrous sophomore season. His own effectiveness has been an issue, but Griffin’s concerns are compounded by the distraction caused by the strain between himself and coach Mike Shanahan, and the strain between Shanahan and owner Dan Snyder. Moreover, Shanahan said Monday that Griffin might not start for the Redskins against Atlanta this week over health concerns. Be it the season-ending knee injury Griffin suffered in the playoffs of his 2012 rookie season or merely adjustments made by opposing defenses, Griffin has been nowhere near as effective in 2013, with his completion percentage dropping from 65.6 to 60.1, his passing average dropping from 8.1 yards per pass to 7.0, and with 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as a passer after throwing for 20 touchdowns and five interceptions last year. He has also averaged 5.7 yards per rush while failing to run for a touchdown after scoring seven times on the ground last year, averaging 6.8 yards per carry.

Jay Cutler, QB, CHI

Head coach Marc Trestman insists that Cutler remains the starting quarterback for Chicago, but unless Trestman and the Bears have a complete disregard for results, it’s difficult to imagine how his statement could possibly be true. Josh McCown has not just been better than Cutler this year; his production is several tiers ahead of Cutler’s by a safe margin. Even the improved version of Cutler we've seen this year posted relatively average numbers in terms of yards per pass (7.2) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (13-to-8). McCown, meanwhile, has completed 66.8 percent of his passes while averaging 8.2 yards per attempt, throwing for 13 touchdowns and one interception in seven games. If the Bears really go back to Cutler, such a move is based on contract size and reputation rather than actual performance.

Terrelle Pryor, QB, OAK

It seems as if the Raiders are done experimenting with Pryor as a starting quarterback. His deficiencies as a passer proved insurmountable at the NFL level, and after throwing for five touchdowns and 10 interceptions as an eight-game starter, it seems safe to say Pryor is a less viable NFL quarterback than undrafted rookie Matt McGloin, a former walk-on at Penn State with six touchdowns and three interceptions in four starts. Although the Raiders rotated the two against the Jets on Sunday, Pryor was left with just 14 snaps while McGloin played 55. Pryor barely has any appeal left even in dynasty formats. A WR-TE experiment could be his best hope of seeing the field again.

John Carlson, TE, MIN

Starting Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph was placed on IR on Monday due to a foot injury, so Carlson’s value won’t necessarily be down for long in an offense that has plenty of opportunity up for grabs at the tight end position. In the meantime, though, he will need to deal with a temporary setback after suffering a concussion against the Ravens on Sunday. Carlson was a useful PPR league substitute for Rudolph in the four weeks prior to Sunday's game, catching 19 passes for 264 yards and a touchdown in that span, but his day was done after two catches for 19 yards against the Ravens. Rhett Ellison would likely start against Philadelphia if Carlson can’t, and Ellison is almost strictly a blocking specialist.