B.D.N. — Breaking Down News
In Green Bay, the ageless wonder Donald Driver has been dealing with some injury bug-a-boos lately, but that’s okay because it has opened the door pretty wide for James Jones. However, like so many young wideouts have done in the past while following veteran greats, inconsistency is keeping Jones from reaching his full potential.
In fact, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Jones himself fully understands that he truly is an “up and down” type player, but also maintains that he could play better with more opportunities.
“James Jones could play better, yes,” Jones said. “But James Jones believes to be up, you need opportunities. I can’t throw the ball to myself. I can’t do that.”
“Have I been playing flawlessly? Not even close,” said Jones. “But people have yet to see what James Jones can truly do, in Year 4. Hopefully, that will present itself and I have to make the best of my opportunities.”
Jones has shown flashes of brilliance at times this season, but needs to elevate his game to a whole new level if he wants to become the kind of long-term impact player for the Packers he’s capable of becoming. And with Aaron Rodgers throwing him fastballs he will become a fantasy gold mine both in the short and long term if he does show up each and every down.
Green Bay plays Minnesota this week, and with Driver’s status still in question Jones could get his opportunity to show that he’s not that hot and cold, on and off player fantasy owners have seen thus far this season and in seasons past.
In New Orleans, running back Reggie Bush should return this week against the Seahawks, and according to WWL News AM 870 quarterback Drew Brees is excited to have his star playmaker back again.
“Yeah he looks good. It’s been a tough 6-7 weeks for him since the injury. You know he’s itching to get back on the field just like we’re all anxious to get him back as well,” Brees said in a radio interview.
“He’s a guy that you get him the ball in space and he can do a lot of things with it’, his versatility to not only run the ball out of the back field but also catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s just a big matchup problem for defenses.”
Fantasy owners should be excited to have Bush back as well, especially this week against a Seattle defense that has allowed 17 touchdowns on the ground, but is also ranked 30th in passing yardage (245.4 per game). Expect somewhere in the neighborhood of five-seven receptions, 80-90 total yards, and maybe a touchdown; a solid start for PPR owners.
Of course, the only downfall to having Reggie Bush this and every Sunday is the suspense of that pesky injury bug biting hard again.
In Miami, the Dolphins have an injury mess at quarterback. Chad Pennington is done for the season, and Chad Henne has what appears to be a pretty major knee injury. And although there is talk within the Dolphins organization of Henne not missing the rest of the season, according to the Miami Herald there is uncertainty as to what his short-term outlook is. Head coach Tony Sparano insists though, that his quarterback is day-to-day.
“I’m proceeding under the assumption that right now we are day-to-day,” said Sparano, disputing a media report from another publication that Henne was “more than likely” done for the season.
The good news here is that third string back-up Tyler Thigpen looked good in relief during a fourth quarter drive capped off by a touchdown pass to tight end Anthony Fasano. It’s something that players like Devone Bess are excited about.
“Tyler did a great job of picking it up,” Bess said. “He did really well, and we’re excited about him. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We still have the second half of the season to play, and we have a good shot at doing something great.”
It’s looking more and more like Thigpen will start at least this week on Thursday night against the Bears, as he has been taking a lot of reps this week in practice and according to Sparano is moving along fine. He’s also a quarterback who has enjoyed plenty of fantasy success when given the starting keys.
In Minnesota, there is now talk that Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice could opt to sit out the rest of 2010 if the Vikings don’t start winning.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune the Vikings have until next Wednesday to activate their 2009 star wideout, otherwise he will remain on the PUP list for the remainder of this season. Remember, Rice is coming off hip surgery, and head coach Brad Childress has been reportedly leaving it up to Rice as to whether he will play or not.
What’s even more intriguing is that Rice becomes a free agent after this season, and has agent Drew Rosenhaus giving him advice. I’m guessing Rosenhaus is shouting “It’s not worth the risk!”
So basically in a nutshell, fantasy owners shouldn’t expect anything out of Rice this season, even if for some odd reason he does decide to come back and play. And for what it’s worth, the only receiver on the Vikings I’m starting at this point is Percy Harvin.
S.D.T.S. — Speeding Down The Stretch
Quarterbacks have been dropping at a rapid rate this season. Here are a few fill-ins and unlikely fantasy heroes who could help you more than you think.
Josh Freeman — The Buccaneers are red hot, and in Weeks 14-16 play the Redskins, Lions, and Seahawks, all teams ranked in the lower half of the NFL in passing yards allowed per game. Yes, I know, by now Freeman has probably become a fantasy staple in most starting lineups, but for those looking to trade for a potential playoff hero at a reasonable price Freeman could be that hero.
Jon Kitna — Some might have given up on Kitna after the Cowboys colossal collapse at Green Bay, but new head coach Jason Garrett has injected new life in to the offense. The Cowboys play the 16th ranked Eagles in Week 14 and 17, and have games against the 31st ranked Redskins and 27th ranked Cardinals sandwiched in between.
Troy Smith — With the exception of the 49ers showdown with the Packers on December 5th Smith and the offense will be playing in warm weather cities against defenses that are surrendering at least 20 or more points per game. Add-in the fact that Frank Gore has been finding the end-zone on a limited basis, and Smith could be the poor man’s version of Michael Vick down the stretch.
Tyler Thigpen — As noted above Chad Henne’s future looks grim. Thigpen will be counted on to pick up the slack, but I suspect he will do more than that come fantasy playoff time. With Buffalo, Detroit, and New England on the schedule three of the Dolphins last four games Thigpen could become a force, especially with receivers like Brandon Marshall and Devone Bess to work with.
N.T.R. — Numbers to Remember
415.3 — It’s the number of total yards the Redskins defense has allowed this season. It’s also the number of yards that Chris Johnson is capable of getting on his own this week. I’m not kidding either.
413 — It’s the number of yards Michael Vick will not total this week against the Giants. It’s also the number of yards Brent Celek recorded last week if you take all three and add them together like you would if you were in first grade math class; 4+1+3.
14 — It’s the number of touchdowns the Broncos defense has allowed on the ground this season. It’s also the number of offensive players the Chargers have been without at some point this season….. I think.
757 — It’s the number of yards Darren McFadden has rushed for on the season. Take the first seven off, and you should get the number of yards the Raiders as a team will rush for against the Steelers this week.
8 — It’s the number of touchdowns no starting quarterback has thrown for this season. It’s also the number on the back of the quarterback destined to be a bust this week. I’ll give you a hint — he’s not the quarterback on the team that needs a haircut.
102.9 — It’s Phillip Rivers‘ quarterback rating. It’s also the number of yards per game Panthers’ rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen is shooting for by the end of the season. He’s only three yards away.
4 — It’s the number of touchdowns Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez will throw for this week against the Texans. It’s also Brett Favre‘s magical jersey number, as if anyone but Favre himself really cares.
Thanks for reading!
Eric Huber is a staff writer for Fantasysharks.com