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Fantasy Intelligence Report — Week 12

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B.D.N. – Breaking Down News

In San Diego this week, there is plenty of chatter surrounding the Chargers’ running back situation. To no surprise, rookie runner
Ryan Mathews will most likely not play on Sunday night, but according to the
San Diego Union-Tribune at this point some may not even care. Why?

Michael Turner

Part 2” is the new nickname bruising back
Mike Tolbert is starting to hear. Why? He runs north-south and has a somewhat surprising burst. However, Tolbert himself has kind of “poo-pooed” the comparison to the productive Atlanta Falcons’ runner, and just wants to be the best on the field come Sunday.

“I’m just trying to get better every week, trying to do good and do what I can do,” Tolbert said. “I’m not thinking about being the next Michael Turner or the next LT (LaDainian Tomlinson). I just want to be the best Michael Tolbert I can be.”

As the
Union-Tribune pointed out, Tolbert is averaging 4.5 yards per carry, and has broken as many 20-yard runs as
Maurice Jones-Drew with much fewer carries. So what are the Chargers going to do when Mathews can stay on the field for more than two plays? And does Tolbert himself think he can be a full-time starter in the NFL?

“Yeah. I’ve got confidence in my ability,” Tolbert said in the tunnel leading to the Chargers’ locker room. “But there’s a reason they drafted (Mathews) so high. I’m going to be there when he comes back and gets healthy. I’ll be there to back him up (or) to play alongside him. I’ll back up (fullback) Jacob (Hester). I can do it all.”

Indeed he can. However, this week Tolbert’s primary role will be plowing through a Colts’ defense that is allowing a 31st-best five yards per carry. Combine that with the fact that he has scored a touchdown in six of his last seven games, and he’s an absolute must-start for those who own him.

In New York, Giants’ head coach Tom Coughlin has decided to bench starting running back
Ahmad Bradshaw in favor of helmet-tossing bruiser
Brandon Jacobs, who has been averaging 5.4 yards per carry since going to anger management classes. Why is No. 44 being benched?

Bradshaw is carrying the disease that Vikings’ superstar
Adrian Peterson carried all through the 2009 season – fumblelitis, or the disease of the slippery pigskin. It’s something, that according to the
Associated Press, Coughlin wants to eliminate immediately.

“The No. 1 consideration is to try to stop beating ourselves,” Coughlin said. “That’s one area that we should be able to improve. It’s very frustrating not to improve in that area.”

I wonder if grumpy knows that Bradshaw ranks fifth among NFL running backs in rushing yards with 867. I also have to wonder if the Giants’ new benchwarmer is going to start throwing his helmet around this week.

“I can’t say frustration is the word,” said Bradshaw, who said he had been told only that he was no longer starting. “Like I said, all I can do is play my game.”

Honestly, I’m not buying any of it. Yes, coach grumpy is making a point, and a good one at that. However, it is my belief that this is all part of Coughlin’s game plan to mess with the Jacksonville Jaguars. With both
Steve Smith and
Hakeem Nicks scheduled to miss this week’s game, Coughlin needs Bradshaw to stay fresh for third down plays when Eli Manning needs a reliable check down who knows how to get the extra yardage.

The bottom line is that fantasy owners should not feel the need to sit Bradshaw this week in favor of that rolling dud. There will be enough carries and touches available to lock Bradshaw in to starting lineups.
Note: The Jaguars are one of six teams allowing an average of at least one rushing touchdown per game.

In Miami, Dolphins quarterback
Chad Henne should be back on the field this Sunday against the Raiders, but top wideout
Brandon Marshall likely won’t be. Marshall has a hamstring injury that could force him out for more than just this week. What does this mean?

It means that not only will quick cutting possession receiver
Davone Bess get the majority of the passes flying his way, but
Brian Hartline should also see a spike in production as well. It also could mean that the Dolphins’ primary focus will be on running the football with
Ronnie Brown and
Ricky Williams, something they haven’t done enough this season as it is.

In fact, according to the
Miami Herald, Brown could whine to coach Tony Sparano about his underused hands, but No. 23 has decided to be a good soldier and refrain from complaining, even though the Dolphins are losing and he’s not getting the ball.

“At a certain point, yeah, I could probably do that,” Brown said Monday. “But I don’t think it would be helpful. It would only add to the other things going on. We’re not winning. If you have a guy complaining, that’s just adding to the issue.”

It will be interesting to see if Sparano decides to take advantage of the 25th-worst run defense this week, and run the ball effectively. There has to be a sense of urgency at this point, and as far I’m concerned without Marshall the Dolphins may be left with no choice but to use and abuse No. 23.

In Indianapolis, it’s been one funky year for Colt receivers and fantasy owners that own them. One of the bigger disappointments has been
Pierre Garcon, who most had high expectations heading into the season. According to the
Indianapolis Star though, Garcon is on pace to finish with similar final regular season numbers as he recorded in 2009, even though he has been quiet for much of this season. Colts’ quarterback
Peyton Manning certainly isn’t panicking, and Garcon himself isn’t feeling any pressure.

“You’ve still got to remember he’s a young player,” Manning said. “He’s still developing and seeing something new each week.”

Garcon added, “No, there’s no pressure, but I always want to improve on it, do well, but things haven’t been going my way. I’ve got to just stay fighting, got to keep fighting against it.”

Fans and fantasy owners have to keep in mind that Garcon still has good long-term potential, and just needs some time to develop. It’s exactly what
Reggie Wayne was allowed in his first three years before becoming the 1,000-yard receiver he’s been since the 2004 season.

It’s also important to note here that the offense has been revolving around both Wayne and emerging tight end
Jacob Tamme, both whom have been targeted 45 and 47 times by Manning in the last four games.

For the time being, fantasy owners need to temper their expectations when it comes to Garcon, if they haven’t done so already. Please just don’t hit that panic “drop” button. Why?

It’s simple – with the way pass-catchers have been dropping in Indianapolis this season you just never know when No. 85 is going rise to the top of Manning’s target chain. That in itself has to be worth something.

P.F.M. – Prime Fantasy Matchup

Matt Ryan vs. Aaron Rodgers

The last time they met … Ryan threw for 194 yards and two touchdowns and led the Falcons to a 27-24 win at Lambeau Field. One of those touchdowns went to top wide receiver Roddy White. Ryan connected with White eight times for 132 yards in the game.

Meanwhile across the way, Rodgers finished the game with 313 yards and three touchdowns, winning the fantasy battle, but losing the game.
Greg Jennings and
Donald Driver both caught touchdown passes, but it was Jennings who led all receivers with four catches and 87 yards.

This time fantasy owners … should really expect much of the same, with a different final outcome. The Packers have perhaps the top cornerback tandem in the NFL in Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams, and they know that the Falcons’ offense revolves around White and Michael Turner. Ryan is really going to have work hard to move the offense, so fantasy owners shouldn’t be surprised if he keeps his yardage total low again.

On the other side though, Rodgers has more than just a few weapons to lean on, and has already proven that he can move the offense without his top target (
Jermichael Finley). Plus, in eight career games indoors Rodgers is averaging 281.9 yards and more than two touchdowns per game. He also has three rushing touchdowns. Noise should not be a factor, so a 250-plus yard multi-touchdown game is a reasonable expectation.

T.N.G. – The Numbers Game

5 – It’s the number of fumbles both
Peyton Hillis and
Cedric Benson have, which is one short of coach Coughlin’s pal Bradshaw. Remember?

353 – It’s the number of more yards Broncos’ wide receiver
Brandon Lloyd has recorded than Dolphins “superstar”
Brandon Marshall. Lloyd has also caught six more touchdowns than No. 19 as well.

55-49 – It’s the number of receptions tight ends
Brandon Pettigrew and
Chris Cooley have recorded this season. Raise your mouse if you thought in the preseason that these two would be second and third in this category come the start of Week 12.

0 – It’s the number of games
Kyle Orton,
Drew Brees,
Tom Brady and
Philip Rivers have not scored at least one touchdown in. Meanwhile Peyton and Eli Manning have two goose eggs each. 

S.O.V. – Speaking Out Violently

I can only imagine what the billboards in Philadelphia are looking like this Christmas season. Puppies with little Santa hats being petted by Michael Vick as he tries to entice the fans to buy Eagles gear? Or how about a picture of Vick’s milk mustache as he holds a glass of milk in one hand, and pets a Pitbull that is lying in his arms as if it were modeling for the magazine
Dog Fancy.

Don’t those sound super swell?

Now, I don’t know what billboards truly look like in Philadelphia, but I have a vision of what they should look like.

Picture this – a crowning ceremony featuring commissioner Roger Goodell front and center. To his left is No. 4
Brett Favre with his head down, weeping like a toddler. To his right No. 7 Vick, with his head up receiving the crown that has Goodell’s face embossed in the middle of a $100 bill. Money is falling from the sky, and the caption states … “Fans, there are no role models. Just money makers.”

This is what defines the NFL today, and it’s what Goodell has whipped together with his Harry Potter-like wand.

How is it okay for a federal criminal to come back to the most talked about and watched sport in America, when other average Joes who commit pettier crimes can’t even return to their hometowns, or even walk down the street without someone being as scared as Scooby-Doo upon seeing a ghost?

Please, don’t throw in my face the fact that Vick is doing all this charity work and that he’s learned his lesson. You don’t think those faces in the crowd who have to deal with much worse adversity are wishing they had a second chance at a normal life. Yet, just because they’re not superstar athletes or Lindsay Lohan’s best friend they get confined to working in small factories or living out of cardboard boxes. Please, just shut up!

Roger Goodell is pathetic; plain and simple.

I don’t care about Vick’s glory, and what he has brought to the game this season. I don’t care that he looks like a changed man on a mission. And most of all I don’t care that he is Goodell’s new moneymaker who is morally challenged.

Vick should’ve never gotten a second chance. He made his bed, and it was one covered with a single dirty sheet. Now, because he was given new life by Tony Dungy and smiley commissioner he will enjoy a new bed with clean Egyptian cotton sheets, a fuzzy blanket, a feather-filled comforter and a new dog he can wrestle with at night, only much softer.

Come to think of it, you could say “softer” is the kind of word that best describes this great game these days anyways.

Thanks for reading! Good Luck.

Eric Huber is a staff writer for Fantasysharks.com.

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