This was a weird weekend for football. It started off with the Javon Belcher news on Saturday. I won’t say too much about it because it is being talked about everywhere you look. However, I am a Romeo Crennel fan as far as from a personal aspect, and I was proud of the way he and the Chiefs players handled the situation. I was rooting for them in this one, and of course my prayers go out to everyone grieving from the events on Saturday morning. Now, let’s get to the rest of the action from a fantasy perspective.
Injuries: The theme of the year continued with more concussions in week 13. Cecil Shorts, Rashad Jennings and Sidney Rice all suffered concussions. There isn’t much available right now as to their statuses but we’ve seen concussions go either way with no absences or prolonged absences so If you’re counting on any of them you’ll need to keep up to speed as the week progresses. Jordy Nelson re-injured his hamstring on Sunday and early thoughts are that he will miss at least a game. Other than that this week’s biggest injury news were guys who didn’t make it back to the field coming off of injuries. Percy Harvin and Danny Amendola look like they might each miss one more game, while Darren McFadden should finally be back for Thursday night’s game against the Broncos.
Waiver-Wire Adds: Russell Wilson is owned in less than 20% of ESPN leagues, but he is the only NFL QB to score at least 15 standard fantasy points in each of the last 5 games. You might not be starting him, but he deserves to be on benches in case of injury to a team’s starter. Donnie Avery has been maddening to own this year, which is probably why his ownership has dropped to 8%. He has been targeted all season long and has rarely produced. However, when he has a big game, he really goes off. Another guy who probably won’t start for you unless you’re desperate, he still should be owned. Josh Gordon got a lot of love earlier in the season after a run of long TD catches, but has slid back off the radar a bit with a few quiet weeks. Those quiet weeks have shown improvements though from a route running perspective and Gordon no longer is just a fly route prayer. He’s got some great matchups the next could weeks as well. Going along with the Wilson development, Golden Tate has seen an uptick in performace the last two weeks and no longer is just a TD prayer play. He is getting more targets, and doing more with those targets the last 4 weeks.
What Can Brown do for You?: Bryce Brown…. Bryce Brown. It’s hard to ignore two straight weeks of 180+ total yards and 2 TDs. He is still available in over 30% of ESPN leagues, but I felt like he deserved his own section. The fumbles are a slight concern, but if you’re looking for impact pickups at this point in the season it will be hard to find many better options, especially at the RB position. McCoy has progressed in his recovery from his concussion, but he may miss one more week. If he does, Brown has to be a top-10 option. Even when McCoy comes back, I think Brown has bought himself some significant PT. Nick Foles certainly hasn’t been very impressive, so I expect the Eagles to be a run-heavy team for the remainder of the season.
My, My Myers: Another criminally under-owned player that deserved his own section, Brandon Myers exploded this week for a 14-130-1 line against a previously stout Browns defense. Myers has been a top-10 TE this season, yet his ownership in ESPN leagues sits at only 22%. Myers might not be very flashy from a skills perspective, but he just keeps producing this year. His value could take a hit if the Raiders make the switch to Terrell Pryor at any point, but he should still be owned in 100% of leagues.
Frenchy: I talked a little bit about this in last week’s Start Em’ and Sit Em’ column, but it is time to recognize that Pierre Garcon is back and a legitimate WR1-WR2 option. He may not be 100% healthy, but that hasn’t mattered the past 2 weeks. As long as his injury doesn’t get worse, it is clear that he is the favorite and most trusted target for RGIII. When you have a QB with a laser arm and a WR who can fly and run crisp routes, good things will happen.
It’s Great to Give and Receive: With Danny Amendola out this week, Rams WR Chris Givens stepped up to the tune of 11 receptions for 92 yards. While the low yardage total relative to the opportunities may seem a little disappointing, this represents a significant development for the young receiver. Givens previously had only been regarded as a deep threat, a straight-line burner. However, he showed that he can now also execute other kinds of routes. The 11 receptions more than doubled his previous high of 5, and showed that once Amendola returns, he should be more dangerous a weapon with a larger arsenal of routes where Bradford trusts him.
Murray Returns: DeMarco Murray finally returned to the field in week 13 and while he looked a bit hesitant at times on his injured foot, it’s hard to complain about 100+ total yards and a TD. This performance just solidified that as long as he is able to play, he is the unquestioned leader for touches out of the Dallas backfield.
Mendy: During drafts this season, a popular late round stash pick of mine was Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall. The thinking was that he might return earlier than expected from his knee injury and that the rest of the Steelers bunch wasn’t very impressive. Well the beginning of the season went well from that perspective, and after Mendenhall’s first start it looked like it had been a wise investment. Well he injured his Achilles in the next game, and never really got a significant chance after that due to the emergence of both Dwyer and Redman. In week 13, Mendy was a healthy scratch, cementing his fall in the backfield pecking order. I finally have come to terms with the fact that he will be useless, and have dropped him everywhere. Other owners should follow suit if they haven’t already. Once you hit the playoffs it’s all about what will help you win this week.
Rudolph: The final note I wanted to make this week is in regards to Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph. I watched most of the game on Sunday, and I couldn’t help but think that Rudolph may be a Jason Witten clone. This really creeped into my head on Rudolph’s amazing one-handed grab during the first half. Witten is 6’6″, 261 lbs. Rudolph is 6’6″, 258 lbs. Witten really took off in his 2nd season after producing a 35-347-1 line during his rookie season. Rudolph seems to be following that route in his 2nd season after posting a 26-249-3 rookie season line. The main thing that might hold Rudoplh back in the near future is his QB, Christian Ponder. I’m not the biggest Ponder fan, but Rudolph will most likely have him for another couple years as the Vikings seem committed to him for now. Watch out down the line though, Rudloph could be a PPR beast down the line.