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Fantasy Intelligence Report - Week 6

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Last season Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers put up astonishing video game-like numbers on his way to becoming the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. This season he hasn’t been himself, and has thrown four interceptions while being sacked 21 times. Some of the blame can certainly be directed at the offensive line.

However, at the same time some of the blame can certainly be pointed in the direction of Rodgers himself, who has made some poor decisions, and has often been spotted holding the ball way too long while in the pocket. In a recent interview courtesy of ESPNMilwaukee.com, Rodgers recently assessed his own play, touched on holding the ball too long, and is looking forward to making improvements.

"I have not played as well as the expectations are, obviously," Rodgers said. "The ones I put on myself are, I like to think, as high or higher than people outside put on me. . . . I set the bar high. I expect to play at a high level. I have been making mistakes I have not been used to making. Throwing the ball to the other team. I mean I have done that four times already. It's just uncharacteristic of the way I have played. Have made some checks that have been unproductive. Missed some throws I have been accustomed to hitting. Just haven't played the way to the standard I have set."

"Now, there have been a couple of times I have held on to it longer than I should have," Rodgers said. "I think we need to do a better job as a whole making sure we can cut down on those because it makes for a long season."

"My solemn promise is I'm going to work every day to get better. I'm going to clean up the things I am not doing as well as I should. But the proof is in the pudding, and right now I'm not getting it done. I have to look at myself first. But I can tell you nothing has slipped in the way of preparation or the way I practice, the energy or the leadership I take to it, which is probably the most frustrating thing. You can't really point to one thing. It's just I haven't performed as well on Sundays as I'm used to performing."

Through five weeks Rodgers ranks in the top five or six among quarterbacks in points (per week) in most formats, so it’s not as though he has gone completely bust. Rodgers and the Packers offense will be in Houston on Monday Night Football.  After what is bound to be a tough showdown with the Texans he will be looking to air it out against the Rams, Jaguars, and Cardinals before getting a much needed bye week.

I believe Rodgers will get back on his MVP track soon enough, and don’t be surprised if it starts in Houston. He is still a must start no matter what your conformed cheat sheet expert tells you this week.  Rodgers has the ability to post big numbers each and every time he steps foot on the gridiron. I mean, this is not Jay Cutler we’re talking about here.


Staying in the division, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson suffered a close call against the Titans. According to the St Paul Pioneer Press, Peterson suffered a twisted ankle in the first half. He received a treatment for it at halftime, but ultimately wasn’t too pleased with the way it affected how he ran the football in the second half.

 

"I got my ankle twisted up. I couldn't cut and I was trying to test it out. That threw my focus off," Peterson said. "I was hesitant on some plays, but the guys kept me encouraged. I got through it."

It’s not an injury to be overly concerned with at this point, but it definitely left the All-Pro running back frazzled and unfulfilled with his overall performance against Tennessee.

"I was thinking about my ankle too much because it was tender," Peterson said. "I had to come in the second half and readjust. I did all right the second half, but I can do better."

Peterson should play this week on the road against the Redskins, but according to head coach Leslie Frazier his workload remains in question. Washington is ranked tenth against the run, and 30th against the pass.

Note: Peterson returns to Fedex Field for the first time since tearing his ACL last season. 

O.W.6.T. -- Other Week 6 Tidbits

- With both Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells on the shelf, LaRod Stephens-Howling is the next running back up in Arizona. However, according to the Arizona Republic there is a thought that the Cardinals believe he can’t be an every down back, because of his build and history of wearing down as the season progresses.

William Powell had a great preseason and would be next in line behind Stephens-Howling, something to consider for those fantasy owners desperate for help at the position. The Cardinals' struggles running the football this season have had a direct impact on the passing attack at times, so it’s important someone steps up.

- Indianapolis Colts starting running back Donald Brown is scheduled to miss two-to-three weeks, and according to the Indianapolis Star, rookie Vick Ballard will start this week against the New York Jets. Delone Carter is expected to back-up Ballard.

- New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks' status remains in question for Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers. However, as the New York Daily News recently reported, Nicks is ready to get back to action.

"I’m ready to see," Nicks said. "It’s been three games. I’m ready to get back out there, but I’ve just got to be patient. I’ve been down this road before. It ain’t nothing new. I’ve just got to get back right."

Nicks' injuries to his ankle and knee will never be 100% for the remainder of the season. Fantasy owners will just have to keep careful track of the Big Blue receiver, and make game day decisions accordingly.

- Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew may be on the verge of asking to be traded, as the Jacksonville Times-Union recently noted he’s sick of losing.

"It's tough just from the fact it's been going on for five years," Jones-Drew said. "I'm just tired of losing. I'm just tired. You're tired of not being able to sleep at night and not be able to play with your kids after losses."

To put it bluntly, the Jaguars stink, and it will take more than one MJD to get them on a winning path. Jones-Drew’s time in Jacksonville may be running out quickly. My guess would be that teams like Green Bay or Arizona could be possible destinations, as they have some pieces that may interest the Jaguars.

- In Washington it looks as though Robert Griffin III is still on track to play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, while wide receiver Pierre Garcon‘s foot is still not where it needs to be. According to the Washington Times Griffin III (concussion) fully participated in practice on Friday, while Garcon was limited.

"If he (Griffin III) passes his tests and we don't see any symptoms, then it looks like he'll be ready to go," coach Mike Shanahan said.

As for Garcon’s foot?

"It's tender and it's still sore, but it's a pain issue," Shanahan said. "Not sore enough to where he can't push off all the time."

"He’s battling it, I can tell," offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said Thursday. "You can see him on the practice field and in the games that it hurts him to run. He has a lingering foot problem and it does hurt him."

Both players are listed as questionable on the injury report.

G.T.E.M. -- Going The Extra Mile

 

On this play the Philadelphia Eagles are in a Cover-2 Nickel zone defense with the deep safeties playing 15-20 yards off the line of scrimmage before the ball is even snapped. The middle linebacker (black box) has the inside assignment of the deep middle zone (in between the hash marks), thus he chases deep right away --- a mismatch.

As noted above the safeties are assigned to the deep zones to the right and left sides of the field (from each hash mark to the sidelines). The outside linebacker and nickel defensive back (Brandon Boykin) are assigned to the middle 10-15 yard zones.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers this is a basic read for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He motions Emmanuel Sanders up (black route) to the inside of Antonio Brown knowing that he’ll run the deep post route, keeping both safeties back and forcing the linebacker to trail deep.

Mike Wallace (yellow route) runs a deep post corner towards the sidelines, which draws the strong safety over, which then forces the free safety to move to the middle deep on Sanders and help out the trailing linebacker. This starts to open up a nice throwing lane 10-15 yards down the field.

The running back to the left of Roethlisberger stays in and blocks to his quarterback’s backside of the designed reads. The tight end to the right of Big Ben will run a ten yard curl. He is the ultimate decoy, but also serves as the check down just in case the nickel back (Boykin) doesn’t take a step forward.

Brown is the prime read on this play, and will run a 15 yard square in route just two yards past the nickel back (Boykin) and 10-15 yards in front of both safeties. With the middle linebacker too deep, Roethlisberger has a fantastic throwing lane right in front of him. He makes a perfectly timed throw for the easy completion and some extra yardage.

This is something every Brandon Pettigrew and Nate Burleson fantasy owner should be excited for this week. With Calvin Johnson in the Lions starting lineup the Eagles will have no choice but to play their safeties deep. Pettigrew and Burleson run excellent routes and the Lions will design a few plays specifically for them to expose this weakness in the Eagles pass coverage. Both are solid starts this week.

Thanks for reading!

Eric Huber is a Senior Writer for Fantasysharks.com and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). E-mail him your thoughts ehuber@fantasysharks.com