Here are some random thoughts about Steve Slaton, Kevin Smith, and a handul of other players as we look to this week's football action.
Now that we've had a couple of days to digest what has happened in the Texans backfield, my recommendation is not to panic, just sit back and wait and see. This isn't anything new to the owners of Steve Slaton as they've been waiting to see a strong performance from their high draft pick all season! The Buffalo Bills were predicted to be just what the doctor ordered for the Houston running game, and indeed they were. Unfortunately, Slaton put the ball on the ground early in the game and was asked to remove his helmet and watch the rest of the game from the sideline. He, like all of us, watched Ryan Moats light up the Bills for over a hundred yards and not one, not two, but three (!!) touchdowns. A monster fantasy day.
The word out of Houston is that the coach isn't sure who is going to get the ball going forward. A three way monster is possible? That's right. We haven't even mentioned Chris Brown, who has been vulturing goal line carries (albeit, unsuccessfully). Come on coach, Houston, this is a problem for the fantasy owner!!
The Texans are up against the Colts this week. Generally by this time in the season we can see a trend and reasonably predict what might happen, but the Colts schedule to this point has been, well, easy street. Indianapolis ran into some trouble last week against San Francisco, giving up 91 yards on the ground to Frank Gore. Gore was also able to catch 5 passes for 43 additional yards. This was a close game where the Colts were forced to come back in the second half to squeak out a tough 19-14 come from behind win. As we know, Frank Gore is a pretty good back and 100 total yards in a game is not something new. A closer look into the numbers has Gore gaining 64 of his yards on a single touchdown run early in the game. Take that run away and his numbers are pretty bleak for the game.
The previous two games for the Colts defense were against two hapless offenses sandwiched around a bye week. In week 7, the Rams' Steven Jackson ran for 134 yards, but no one from St.Louis found the end zone (a common occurrence in 2009). In week 5, the Titans were only able to muster a combined 85 yards on the ground between Chris Johnson and LenDale White. In both of these games, the Colts won easily by 36 and 22 points.
So where does that leave us this upcoming week? The Colts enter the game as a nine point favorite, and though the Texans are coming off a big win, it was against Buffalo. So really we've got a matchup here of teams where we're not sure if the Colts are that good, and we're not sure if the Texans are good at all. This one is lining up to be another Colts blowout, or a tight matchup where neither offense will get much going on the ground.
Like many, I recommended Ryan Moats as the top player to grab off this week's waiver wire. He will no doubt be owned in all formats. Perhaps the best news of all is that the Texans have a bye week after playing the Colts. This way Houston can try a couple of things this week, then take a week off to re-evaluate who should be on the field. In the end, Slaton is the most talented back on the Texans roster, and he's also the best they have catching the ball out of the backfield. I believe that eventually he will get himself re-established as the starter on this team.
As for this week, if you have other options, I recommend keeping Slaton on your bench. As an example, for my flex position I'm sitting him in favor of Michael Crabtree. I also have Hakeem Nicks, I'd put Nicks in my starting lineup this week over Slaton as well. I don't see a goose egg in Slaton's future this week, but I do see a two and possibly three player rotation in this game. I see the Colts as pulling away in this game, making the running game obsolete no matter who is on the field.
Kevin Smith The Lions have had (another) difficult year, and many individual players have mirrored what is going on in Detroit. Every week it seems that Kevin Smith is picking up another injury. From his foot, to his shoulder this past week that kept him out of the end of last week's game, he's a tough player fighting through a lot of stuff. Complicating things for the Lions offense is Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford also missing some time.
In the short term, Maurice Morris is poised to step in and relieve Smith of some of his playing time. This is unfortunate as the Seahawks this week are a decent running matchup. I do recommend picking up Morris, and if the Lions declare Smith out of this week's game, then Morris is a good start. Beyond this week, Detroit visits Minnesota, which will be an extremely tough test for their running game. There are several other tough matchups on the remaining schedule as well (ie. Cincinnati and Baltimore). So while I do see Morris cutting into Smith's playing time, even a healthy Smith, the Lions in general aren't going to be rushing for many yards on a weekly basis so keep your expectations to a minimum.
The bottom line is this, unfortunately for the Kevin Smith owner, what you have seen for numbers is what you are going to get the rest of the season. He might be able to sprinkle in a hundred yard rushing game (against Cleveland). He might even run for a touchdown or two, adding to his total of three touchdowns so far this season. The best that can be hoped for is that he continues to suit it up and you keep riding him as a low end RB2 or flex play.
Jamaal Charles Just a bizarre situation taking place in Kansas City. There's no need for me to rehash the non-football stuff, the bottom line is that the Chiefs have gone all-in with Jamaal Charles. They'd like nothing better than for Charles to have a tremendous game this week (and really, they'd settle for a good game), this way they can bury Larry Johnson on the bench for good. While traditionally it has been the case that a matchup against the Jaguars spelled doom for a runningback, that is not the case this year. Last week they were lit up by Chris Johnson for 228 yards, if we assume that Charles is 1/2 the player Johnson is, that's over a hundred yards. Look for Charles to excel this week, even as a sneaky flex start, and going forward, look for Kansas City to continue to feed him the ball even if they let Larry Johnson back into the fold.
Michael Crabtree Hopefully you grabbed this rookie when the grumblings of him ending his holdout began. He should be owned in all formats, and I see his numbers continuing on an upward path. 56 yards in his first game, 81 yards last week...don't be afraid to start him this week against the Titans' weak secondary. I own him, and I expect a consistent 6 or 7 catches for 80 or so yards every week. He'll find the endzone soon, too.
The Philip Rivers/Vincent Jackson show finally has a settled secondary player. The Chargers released Chris Chambers, opening up a starting position for Floyd. Don't bother looking at Floyd's numbers to try and detect a trend, with Chambers out of the way and no other threat, Floyd will be the full time #2 for the Chargers. This translates to average numbers of 6 catches for sixty yards and a TD.
The Giants offense had trouble solving the Philadelphia defense this past week. As a result, the numbers of all those in the passing game were way down. This has led to some "is Nicks overrated" threads, I don't think that he is. Every wide out, especially this year, has had a down week or two. The Giants are committed to Nicks, and when he has a good game, the Giants usually put up a lot of points. Look for a bounce back game this week against the Chargers, so don't be afraid to keep him in your lineup this week as a WR2 or WR3.
Have reports of his demise been greatly exaggerated? I think so. Yes, he's missed some time this year, but that wasn't entirely unexpected from a now thirty year old. Last week he finally looked healthy, and though his numbers weren't lofty, it was nice to see him in the end zone twice. One of those came on a direct snap "wildcat" formation, so the Chargers have their full confidence in him once again, especially at the goal line. So Tomlinson owners rejoice and get him back into your starting lineup regardless of the matchup.
Geez, not sure what I can say here. As a suffering Boldin owner, I wish the Cardinals would sit him for a game or two so that he can get back to full strength. Watching him limp around the field, while valiant, has been painful to see. If he continues to play thru the pain, then he will continue to put up very low numbers. I won't be putting him in my starting lineup until he sits out a game to get healthy.