What we are talking about:
He's the one
Back where he belongs
Could have been worse
One of the producers for "Around the League" on NFL Network was putting together a short list of MVP candidates and he didn't know if he should include Aaron Rodgers or Luck. I leaned toward Luck in this instance.
Luck has taken a team, which finished with the worst record in 2011, and now has them in the hunt for a playoff berth. Rodgers is great, but when you remember how Matt Flynn as able to step into the Green Bay Packers' offense and have a record-setting day, you have to consider Luck.
(And I don't want to make the point Packers quarterbacks are as interchangeable as Bond girls. Although there have been nothing but positive reviews about the latest picture and Bond girl Berenice Marlohe, but we'll get to that in a bit.)
But right now, it's hard to argue about what Luck has done for the franchise. Luck isn't the front-runner, but he's certainly in my Top 5. And I would strongly consider him if the Colts make the playoffs. He's a lock if they win the division (but they probably won't because the Houston Texans will run away with it).
All right, let's get to the fantasy football.
Likes and dislikes are in bold, for those of you who don't want to take the 88 minutes required to read this column. (But it's the weekend: What better way to cruise through it than by checking out my thoughts on fantasy football, comic books, wrestling, TV and music?) Facebook doesn't give you the option to dislike stuff, but I certainly do.
A big hand to stats maven Bill "Sudsy" Sudell for dropping the knowledge.
And without further ado ...
I went with Andy Luck over Cam Newton in my League of Record. How did that work out for me? No, I'm asking because I hand this column in on Thursday night right before the game starts. How do you not get that, yet?
Peyton Manning has passed all the tests I need to see. Manning has failed to score 19 points just once this season.
True story, I had a question this week from a friend who wanted to know if he should start Tom Brady or Josh Freeman. It's not crazy, I guess. But Brady had his highest total of the year against the Buffalo Bills in Week 4. And you might bench this guy?
I do like Freeman, though. If you have him, you can probably count on him to be your starter for the rest of the year. Freeman's playoff schedule (if you're into this sort of thing) is the Eagles, Saints and St. Louis FC. Good thing about Freeman, he has no interceptions in his last three games. That's why we liked him so much heading into last season.
Matthew Stafford is a good start this week. Stafford has averaged more than 300 passing yards with five total touchdowns in his last three games against the Vikings. Minnesota has allowed six touchdown passes in their last two games, and fifth most points to fantasy quarterbacks this year. Stafford had a bad fantasy game last week, but that was because the running backs took the touchdowns.
I like the Detroit Lions. I'm not a fan, mind you. But if you're new to the column, I grew up a fan of the Los Angeles Rams. I had season tickets to the Arizona Cardinals and San Diego Chargers. And I do like some of those woeful franchises, so I do admire the Lions and their fans. And you know, when they beat the Vikings, they are right back in this NFC race. And it would be awesome for them to make the playoffs. Mostly because it will make it easier for them when Mike Trout wins the MVP award.
Speaking of teams I like, the LA Galaxy will battle for a second-consecutive title. Yeah, I'm not a huge fan of soccer, but seeing that everybody gives us SoCal fans a hard time anyway, I shamelessly jumped on the bandwagon. And when I was a young scribe at Cal State Fullerton, the women's soccer team was dubbed "Adam's Bandwagon." I loved those teams. Well, the CSF women's soccer team won the Big West regular-season title, but was knocked out of the conference tournament. And, in what is typical at Cal State Fullerton, we were snubbed for an at-large berth for CSULB, which we beat twice this season.
BTW, can anybody explain the MLS playoffs to me? You play multiple games in the opening rounds, but just one championship? There is something about it that's appealing. Because you get playoff series, but the finality of one championship game. They might be on to something.
I have to start Joe Flacco in our "NFL AM" League. I don't really like it too much. The Raiders are an attractive matchup, so he's got that going for him. The trend for Flacco has been he's good at home and poor on the road. But that's not installing me with a lot of confidence. I have seriously considered some of the sleeper options available for this week to give it a go. Consider me officially nervous.
Russell Wilson has averaged at least 15 fantasy points in three consecutive home games. This is a tougher matchup than the Vikings, but if you need to pick up a quarterback with Aaron Rodgers and RG3 on a bye, Wilson will be a good option.
Well, the lack of Carl Nicks didn't hurt the Buccaneers last week. Doug Martin has 486 scrimmage yards with six total touchdowns in the past two games. Can you do that every week? No. Do I ever take him out of my lineup again? No. I feel sometimes we try to be too smart with this stuff and sometimes overthink things a touch. But that's fantasy, I guess.
Doug Martin doesn't like his nickname. It's too bad his first name isn't Ralph because "Wreck-It Ralph" would be a great nickname for a running back. And you'd better believe I will commandeer my niece and nephew to check out "Wreck-It Ralph" this weekend. Because otherwise it would be weird to go to a kids movie otherwise, right?
ImageI have about 31 nieces and nephews. Is it weird to have a favorite? Yeah, I didn't think it was. Is it weird, though, to rank them on a white board in my kitchen, with new rankings every week? "Yes Vince, you're only No. 4 this week. I don't know how you can move up in the polls, but let's just say that Diet Pepsi isn't getting out of the fridge on its own." I know, I'm going to burn for that one.
ImageAnd a quick note on movies, I hear nothing but good things about "Skyfall." It might be one of the best Bond movies ever. That's the thing, I don't think I've seen a Bond flick in the theater since the one with Pierce Brosnan and Denise Richards. But even the bad ones (like that one) are pretty entertaining. Do you think it's appropriate to take an eight year old to that movie? (Just kidding, people.)
ImageI do hear Berenice Marlohe tears up the screen as the new Bond girl. Maybe that's where the debate should be instead of MVP voting. Halle Berry has to be considered, but it's Ursula Andress, right?
ImageBut who is the best Bond? An underrated Bond is Timothy Dalton. If you follow the books, he was a pretty close representation. Of course, it's Sean Connery, but Dalton is a nice flex option for Bond. And of course, Roger Moore was The Saint, so it's kind of hard to get away from that.
Chris Johnson has at least 11 fantasy points in four consecutive games. His long touchdown run against the Bears was his first rushing touchdown in 13 home games. I really hate to put all of my faith in him. He was miserable during most of last week's game. But the Titans continue to run him, even when the team is getting blown out.
Shonn Greene has rushed for four touchdowns in three games, and has had at least 10 fantasy points during those games. The Seahawks are pretty tough on running backs, too. And in case you didn't know, the Jets are going to the playoffs, as predicted by Antonio Cromartie and backed up by Rex Ryan.
There is part of me which admires Rex Ryan and his bold predictions. I mean, what's he supposed to say? We all got on Mike Shanahan's case when he talked about next year. Man, it starts to make sense why Bill Belichick is the way he is. But seriously, it's the Jets, you're not going to go to the playoffs.
On the other side, Stephen Jones said it was "ridiculous" to think Jason Garrett's job might be in jeopardy if the Cowboys continue to lose. So do wins and loses not matter to the Cowboys? That's not what I would want to hear if I was a Cowboys fan. I would at least hope there was some accountability.
Jimmy Johnson's "A Football Life" was excellent. There is always a conversation of how many Super Bowls the Cowboys would have won if he had stayed on. Four consecutive Super Bowls is not outlandish. But think of how loaded the Cowboys would have been if he had stayed on through the draft. If you look at the Dolphins drafts during his tenure (1996-98), he would have added Zach Thomas, Sam Madison, Jason Taylor and Patrick Surtain to those loaded Cowboys teams. He also wouldn't have wasted picks on a guy like Shante Carver. Who knows how dominant that dynasty could have been. They would have at least been in the mix every year like the Patriots, even if they didn't win it.
But here's the thing with Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene, they are every-down running backs. There aren't many of those in the NFL right now. So they're in your lineup for the most part (you might have snuck Rashard Jennings or Vick Ballard into your lineup from Thursday night). It's a tough call. But sometimes you need to go with your guys.
Mashawn Lynch has seen his fantasy points increase over the last three weeks. We don't talk about him enough, so I had to say something about him.
Mikel LeShoure is another solid start this week. The Vikings are tough on fantasy running backs, but you have to go with LeShoure.
ImageStevan Ridley is another nice option, as the Patriots return from England and a bye week to get back in action. RAW was taped from England this week, too. Finally, Wade Barrett gets the face pop he deserves. I like that Ryback got a pin from CM Punk in a tag match. But at some point, can you book Punk to look strong again. But really, I'm barely watching RAW at this point.
ImageOur man, Showtime Eric Young, intimated on Twitter that he might be wrestling his last shows for Impact. But don't fret, we're going to get another season of "Off the Hook: Extreme Catches," so all is not lost. Check out this compilation of his best quotes from his TV show.
ImageModern Family was really strong on Halloween, but it went to another level this week. Same thing with James Van Der Beek in "Don't Trust the B----." And I hate to say this, but "The Middle" is also enjoyable. You don't get that a lot from regular TV, but these guys have brought it recently.
Vincent Jackson is following in the tradition of many former Chargers players who have gone on to excel in other locations. Guys like Drew Brees, Darren Sproles, Michael Turner, Shawne Merriman ... oh wait, how did he get in there? Not only do I like Jackson this week, he's going to break Flipper Anderson's single-game receiving yardage record. All right, maybe not that good. But he's going to be great.
Mike Williams is a decent play, but I really feel like the Buccaneers are going to get the ball to Jackson in this one. Look at some players who have gone against their former teams. Jackson will keep this trend moving.
Malcom Floyd just makes the bottom of the like list. He didn't do much against the Chiefs before he had a touchdown reception. That ability makes him a decent play. The Buccaneers have allowed the second-most yards to receivers and third-most fantasy points, so the matchup is sound.
Titus Young was a tough play last week, as we said here. But he has a good matchup this week and could end up with a good week. He's a nice sleeper.
Brian Hartline has had trouble with consistency this year. He's had huge games followed up by some duds. But if you need a receiver, you play Hartline because of the matchup. The bad games after good games are more coincidence than anything else. He's going to start in my league of record.
Danny Amendola just sneaks in here. He's had 49 targets in five games this season. What you want here is opportunity. Amendola is going to get it. He's a must-start in PPR leagues.
Antonio Brown is doubtful to play on Monday, so Emmanuel Sanders is a great option. The Chiefs have allowed 11 touchdown receptions to receivers this year, tied for seventh-most in the NFL. He's a third-receiver option.
Eric Decker has a touchdown reception in five consecutive games. He's had at least 13 points in five of his last six games. And his fantasy points have increased in five of his last six games. He and Demaryius Thomas are great starts every week.
The argument between Decker and Thomas is who is Batman and who is Robin? Well, to me, it's more of a question of who is Batman and who is Batman? Most people don't believe there are two Batmans. And as I had to explain to Akbar on NFL Fantasy Live this week, but there were two Batmans when Dick Grayson became Batman during some of the Grant Morrison books. Who doesn't know this?
Love the quick response from the NFL on the some of the legislation which passed in Colorado and Washington. I swear, the NFL had a memo out mere minutes after voters decriminalized the marijuana in those states. I wish NFL referees were as quick during replay challenges.
Start Owen Daniels if he plays this week. He's had a touchdown reception in five of his last six games. He's also had at least 11 touchdowns in four of his last five games. But you might want to add Dustin Keller in case Daniels is unavailable.
The Detroit Lions have seven takeaways in their last four games, and 12 takeaways in their last six games in Minnesota.
Eli Manning has been below 200 passing yards in three of his last four games. So as a favor to those of you who have suffered with Eli over the past few weeks, I have moved him into the dislike ledger. Eli always responds when I count him out. You're welcome.
The problem with Eli was, as I reasoned a few weeks ago, even when he was bad he was still a productive fantasy quarterback. Not in the last couple of weeks, though. So again, this is a service for the Eli owners out there who need him to bounce back. Be sure to check the rankings. Eli is volatile right now, he can bounce anywhere from 10th to 14th over the next couple of days. You can tweet your individual questions, too.
Philip Rivers has a great matchup this week. The Buccaneers are not good against the pass. Look at the game Carson Palmer put up against them last week. But Rivers has struggled against good matchups this season. And unless he's going against the Chiefs, Rivers hasn't delivered. I wish there was some way around that. I don't know how you can start him this week.
Another knock against the Chargers is they play in the dreaded 10 a.m. game. I still have yet to hear a reasonable explanation as to why West Coast teams have to play in those 10 a.m. games on the East Coast.
Ryan Tannehill has been very good recently. He's had at least 15 points (Michael Fabiano's Line of Delineation) in two of his last three games. Even more important, he hasn't thrown an interception in four games. The Titans have allowed the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. The Titans have also given up a league-high 20 touchdown passes.
So Rank, why is Tannehill in the dislike column? Well, he's a good spot start if your quarterback is out this week, on a bye, or is Christian Ponder. But Tannehill is still a rookie. And last year, we (or more to the point I) became enamored with Red Dalton's schedule down the stretch. And Dalton failed to deliver. So don't read too much into it.
If it comes down to a rookie and a guy like Eli Manning, I'm going to go with a more proven guy. Even if Tannehill's matchup is really good.
I'd even go with Michael Vick even though he has 11 total touchdowns and 14 turnovers this season. His 14 turnovers are the third-most in the NFL. (Seriously, two other guys have more?) Vick has scored at least 15 fantasy points in three consecutive games. But his game against the Saints wasn't what it was supposed to be. Vick is my No. 12. So you start him in 12-team leagues, but I would bench him in 10-teamers.
Speaking of Vick, congratulation to Marcus Vick who has now taken up the mantle of annoying brothers who embarrass their more-famous sibling. Like he's the football version of Billy Baldwin. Marcus Vick was critical of the Eagles during a Twitter rant the other night. (Seriously, Marcus Vick is on Twitter and Andy Luck isn't? Something ain't right.) But Marcus Vick said, "Trust me" I will never tweet like that again. Yes, because every time I think of Marcus Vick, the very first word I think of is trust.
You know what, I would go Tannehill over Jay Cutler. BTW, Jay Cutler reportedly is very generous to his linemen. You mean the same linemen who let him get knocked around every week? But poor Cutler; he was ripped years ago for not being passionate enough. Now when he shows some passion, he's derided for yelling at his lineman. He can't win. Well, except he landed Kristin Cavallari, so he's done something right.
Cutler has been below 14 points in his last three home games. He's just not consistent enough to make a difference. Oh yeah, and he's going against the Houston Texans.
I'm not sure if you caught Jay Cutler on Showtime's "Inside the NFL" but they brought up the "Smokin' Jay Cutler" site to him. And to my great amazement, Cutler was pretty cool about it. I swear, he's wearing me down little by little, this Jay Cutler. I don't know what it would take for me to be a fan, but it is little things like this which help.
Jake Locker is expected to start this week. He had 10 points in each game this season and the Dolphins provide a nice matchup, but he's not an option to start. The real trouble is what Locker means to Chris Johnson.
Here is something to be wary about with Chris Johnson. In three of Jake Locker's starts this year, Johnson has averaged 45 rushing yards. Oh wait, he's gained 45 rushing yards. Johnson had 141 rushing yards when Locker left with an injury in Week 4. Man, I don't like this trend. I'm going to downgrade Johnson just a bit. Not enough to make him a non-starter, but he's not as automatic. The Dolphins are also tough on fantasy running backs.
Obviously, a small sample size, so you don't want to overthink this immediately. But if Johnson does struggle this week, it might be time to dry to ditch him if you can.
Ahmad Bradshaw's fantasy points have decreased in four consecutive games. He's had fewer than six points in back-to-back games. There is as young, hungry running back who lurks for more carries. Bradshaw is not a great option.
I'm not as down on BenJarvus Green-Ellis as most people. He was brought into Cincinnati because he didn't fumble and he scored touchdowns. Well, he's fumbled a few times. But he did score a touchdown last week. Watch his injury status, though.
Ryan Mathews has scored more than 10 fantasy points once this season. He has only one touchdown in his last seven games and no touchdowns in 14 of his last 17 games. There aren't a lot of options for Mathews, so he might be unavoidable for a lot of you. But he's not a great option.
Mathews is in the same category with Felix Jones for me. I would start Mathews over Jones, but it's not that encouraging. The Cowboys running back has not made the most of his opportunity. Although, Felix has weirdly done really well against the Eagles in the past. It's almost unexplainable.
ImageMathews has been a bigger disappointment than Chuck Zito on "Sons of Anarchy." A couple words about SOA this week. First: Ewww. You all know what scene I mean. I don't want to even imagine it. The character of Tara could go away, but I guess she's needed to somewhat keep Jax grounded. SPOILER: Warming Glow makes a great point here. They need tangible evidence to take care of Clay, despite the fact the entire MC knows he was behind the home invasions. But Jax can go rouge on Juice. So that's how it works, eh?
ImageI've pulled the plug on Mathews, but I haven't quite yet on SOA. Mostly because there are only two episodes left, so I can afford to be a little bit more generous. But the thing to me is, who is left in the SamCro clubhouse? They're like Steelers running backs with the way its lost so much depth. You started the series with a pretty healthy roster, but bit by bit you keep losing guys. The show really needs some new guys for us to cheer for. Happy has been a nice start, but come on. Oh, and one more time, "ewww."
Isaac Redman was so great last week, and he looks like he would be wonderful against the Chiefs, who can't seem to stop anybody. But can you afford to wait until Monday with Jonathan Dwyer back at practice this week? Coach Mike Tomlin is going with the hot hand. It would be an extreme circumstance where you can play Redman. I do have him in one league, I think it's the "NFL AM" league, were I have to start him over Daryl Richardson. So there are some cases.
Fred Jackson is another running back who could be a tough start this week. You love the matchup, but there are reports he could lose carries to Spiller at some point. Please don't make me choose between Jackson and Jones. Neither guys are going to be very attractive this week.
But they are still better than Steven Jackson this week. You don't want to start any running back against the 49ers defense. But Jackson is even worse. Let's be honest, it's only a matter of time before Daryl Richardson gets the gig, so don't count on Jackson this week.
ImageHere is your bad coach update for Southern California: Norv Turner > Mike Butcher > Mike Brown. All of them are still employed! The Lakers situation is completely depressing. You knew there was going to an adjustment period with so many new players. Plus Steve Nash is hurt. But this is beyond an adjustment. The offense is all wrong. He was terrible with the Cavs. Why was this guy hired? (Oh yeah, Jim Buss is easily impressionable.) But seriously, you have to be pretty bad when you rank below Norv Turner in the category of worst coaches.
Going back to the Jimmy Johnson "A Football Life," Barry Switzer was obviously the guy who took over and he's often panned for what he did to the Cowboys dynasty. But imagine if the Redskins didn't hire Norv Turner. You could reason Turner becomes the head coach of the Cowboys, because he's Troy Aikman's buddy. Do you think the Cowboys win Super Bowl XXX with Turner at the helm? I certainly don't think so. So the Cowboys story could have been even more tragic and maybe the fans should thank Turner.
ImageUPDATE: The Lakers have fired Mike Brown. You hate to see anybody get fired from their job. Unless that person is Mike Brown. Kobe Bryant told reporters to not worry about the "death stare." And why should you because he had to know this was on the way.
Hey remember a couple of weeks ago when we all scrambled to add LeGarrette Blount to our rosters because he was going to take away goal-line carries? Yeah, me either.
Don't think it's gone unnoticed Blount first reached infamy when he punched Boise State footballer Byron Hout in the mouth. And now it's the Boise State running back who has, essentially, punched Blount out of relevance in fantasy and in real football in Tampa Bay.
Jonathan Stewart has one touchdown in 74 touches this season. He has just two touchdowns in his last 15 games. He's had fewer than 90 scrimmage yards in seven consecutive games. I'm really not bummed I dropped him in my League of Record.
A lot of you will want to put Marcel Reece into your lineup. But remember, he's a fullback. Taiwan Jones got the majority of first-team reps this week. I really don't trust any of the Raiders running backs this week. I'd go with some other options.
Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram were a couple of hot names last week, but it ended up with Chris Ivory as the guy in New Orleans. That's a joke. I wish I knew who the coach of the Saints was, because I would accuse him of #shanahanigans.
I would rather go with Danny Thomas as a sleeper this week, instead of one of the Saints running backs.
Jerome Simpson would have some sleeper value if Percy Harvin can't go this week. Keep an eye on the injury reports. I've added Simpson to my roster in my League of Record. He might be a nice play because the Lions have trouble with stopping teams. Even Kyle Rudolph might pull himself off the mat for an appearance.
For all the grief Harvin gets for being injured, Hakeem Nicks gets away with it all the time. Nicks has missed three games with injury this year. Which is, coincidentally, the amount of games Harvin has missed in his career. Nicks has had fewer than six fantasy points in four consecutive games. You wish the Giants would just shut him down Nicks prior to the bye week.
And this might just be my imagination, but the Giants always seem to have a bye week late in the year. Same with the Patriots. But a team like the Raiders always have an early-season bye week. In fact, I had Sudsy look this up: The Giants have had a bye in Week 7 or later in five of the last six years.
ImageIf it was up to me (and it's not), we should just jam the bye weeks over a two-week period. Half of the league off in Week 8 and the other half off in Week 9. Or if you wanted to stretch that over month from Week 8 through Week 11, then that would work, too. But teams with bye weeks after three or four games is completely weak. How did the players association not have this taken care of?
Andre Johnson has fewer than nine fantasy points five times this season. He's had just two touchdowns in his last 13 games. He doesn't go big, with only one reception of more than 25 yards in his last four games. And now you want to trust him against the Bears? I'm a big, start your studs guy. But if you want to go in a different direction, want to play a feel with some other hot shot, don't let me stop you.
This is a pretty bad matchup for the Eagles duo of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Jackson did well on a busted coverage against the Saints. But I guess busted coverage is a specialty of the Saints. And Maclin? I'm done with you.
Dez Bryant has no touchdowns in nine of his last 10 games. He has scored fewer than two fantasy points in two of his last three games, with eight total catches in his last three games. He's one of those guys who are capable of a great game. And when he does, it resonates for like six weeks because he looks like a great player. Like he should be real good.
At some point, I wish Dez Bryant would change his number. Don't you realize you besmirch the legacy of Michael Irvin and Drew Pearson? The Cowboys don't retire numbers (which is kind of cool), but there are certain numbers which won't be in rotation (like 8, 12, 22). The No. 88 has earned the right to be taken out of the rotation.
ImageAnd since we're here, I did a column this week of one thing I would change if I could about the NFL. I like the idea of rivalry week. A lot of you had some good ones, and you can check it out here. Some great ideas. One that I had but couldn't find the tweet later was for the Super Bowl trophy to be handed to the captain of the team, not the owner. I liked that one. If that person is reading, please tweet me again, I will give you props next week.
ImageOh, my point here. The NFL needs to adopt the college rule of overtime, and should also allow receivers, running backs and defensive players to wear whatever number they desire. The only thing I don't like about college football's number system is when two players on the same team wear the same number. I first remember USC doing it recently, but it's become a disturbing trend.
For the record, you can submit your fantasy questions to NFL Fantasy Live, Michael Fabiano or me on Twitter. But realize, NFL Fantasy Live has 70,000 followers, and Fabiano has 60,000. Me? Just four. See, the odds are better I will answer your question, so hit me up both via Twitter or via Facebook (oh wait, I told you to stop going to Facebook). Go instead to Google+. Also be sure to catch the latest "Dave Dameshek Football Program."