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Fantasy Intelligence Report — Week 13

B.D.N. – Breaking Down News

In Pittsburgh, bad news has churned up for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. According to the
Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the sprained right foot that Roethlisberger suffered on Sunday against Buffalo has turned in to a broken metatarsal bone, a re-aggravation of a previous injury where scar tissue is present.

Roethlisberger was limited in practice on Thursday, but has said he expects to play Sunday night against Baltimore. Roethlisberger will have to wear a shoe with metal plates to help protect and provide support for his broken foot.

The question is will his bad foot affect the game plan against the Baltimore Ravens? Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians doesn’t seem to think so and he’s not changing a thing.

“He just has to know what he can do to protect himself,” Arians said after watching Roethlisberger practice for the second day in a row. “I feel confident he’ll be fine that way. But we won’t change a thing.”

This is tough news for fantasy owners of any Steelers’ player to swallow. Roethlisberger’s presence behind center has vastly improved every player’s numbers, especially Mike Wallace. If Roethlisberger goes down, so will the rest of the Steelers’ fantasy ship, because behind him are Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich, who aren’t exactly eye candy when it comes to offensive production.

Let’s just hope that Roethlisberger doesn’t overdue it and cost his team and fantasy owners a shot at a title.

In St. Louis, there is surprisingly plenty to talk about when it comes to the Rams and their playoff aspirations. One of the latest hot topics has been the rise to glory, even if it’s short-lived, of one Billy Bajema. According to the
St Louis Dispatch, Bajema is becoming a hit on the field for the Rams. So where did it all start?

Well, in San Francisco of course, a place where Bajema found himself blocking so much that it was becoming frustrating, especially when he didn’t catch a single pass in 2006 or 2007.

“For a period of time, that was pretty much just to be a blocker. So that’s what I had to do,” he said. “I always felt like I wanted to do more, and I was never satisfied with the role of being exclusively a blocker. That part of it was frustrating. But always, I hoped for an opportunity to do more.”

Indeed, Bajema has waited a long time for his opportunity to catch passes at the rate he is in 2010, and now he seems to be ready to embrace his pass-catching role, something that he has earned with hard work.

In fact, according to quarterback Sam Bradford, when the rookies arrived in St. Louis all the coaches pointed to Bajema and said, “If you want to know what a professional is, look at Billy Bajema.

“And that’s what it is,” Bradford said. “He works hard, he does the right thing, and he helps this football team in a lot of different ways.”

Bajema added, “It’s a lot of fun. Most of my career has been defined by blocking and doing things on special teams … I’ve always hoped to get some opportunities and I’ve had some here.”

Wait, there’s more …

Associated Press also recently pointed out that offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur really likes Bajema’s consistency, and has received very high marks from his position coach.

“Billy’s probably one of our most consistent guys,” Shurmur said. “(Tight ends coach) Frank (Leonard) says it all the time when we’re talking about personnel as his position coach. He says, ‘Hey, you know what to expect from Billy, and he gives it to you everyday.’ To me, he’s a very valuable guy to this team and this offense.”

Now, the big question is with Michael Hoomanawanui scheduled to miss at least a month with an ankle injury, what kind of fantasy value will Bajema carry as the season winds down?

Well, with the way the entire team respects his play and effort I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns in to a poor man’s version of Jacob Tamme. At the same time, I know that the Rams do struggle at times to score points, so odds are not in favor of seeing high numbers from Bajema each and every week. If fantasy owners do have room for a second tight end though, I would definitely stash him, and wait to see if he does indeed catch the Tamme fever.

In Tampa Bay, running back LeGarrette Blount is doing plenty of dazzling these days. In fact, according to
The Tampa Tribune, Buccaneers players don’t want to watch tape of some of Blount’s runs. Instead, they want to see it live.

“You’re supposed to be blocking and doing all of these things, but you end up watching him because he’s so amazing,” Buccaneers receiver Micheal Spurlock said.

“Some of the stuff he does, you see plays that there is no way he’s getting out of there and then he bounces out of there and goes for 30 (yards), he goes for 40 yards, and you’re like, ‘How in the world did he get out of there?’”

He’s not the only one in shock when Blount bulldozes linebackers, leaps defensive backs and carries defensive linemen on his back like he’s in some of strong man’s competition. Center Jeff Faine’s eyes get wide when watching Blount too.

“I’ve experienced it and, still, when it happens I’m in shock,” Faine said. “You think it’s a 2-yard gain and all of a sudden it’s a 6-yard gain because he’s running with a guy on his back. It’s shocking to me still. Even though I know he can do it, it’s still like, ‘Wow.’”

Most importantly, Blount’s play has caught the eye of his fast maturing quarterback Josh Freeman and has actually caused a minor problem.

“He’s a very exciting player,” Freeman said. “He’s a great combination of a powerful runner, but yet he has quite a bit of finesse. It’s very entertaining handing the ball off to him.”

“When we first got LeGarrette, I was having a tough time carrying out my fakes after handing the ball off because I just wanted to watch and see what he was going to do. We got that corrected.”

Fantasy owners should be elated to hear news like this, because clearly he has garnered some major respect from his teammates and coaches with his “Blount Force” play. He is slowly entrenching himself as the workhorse running back in the Buccaneers’ offense, and will be a valuable piece heading in to fantasy playoffs.

This week’s matchup against the Atlanta Falcons will be intriguing, especially with Michael Turner across the field, who has some of the same attributes as Blount, but obviously has performed at a much higher level.

In Tennessee, Titans’ wide receiver Randy Moss is once again rubbing in the fact that he’s a complete idiot. The latest, according to the
Tennessean, is that Moss is frustrated that the Titans have turned in to a losing team since his arrival.

“The frustrating thing is the losses. I am used to being in an offense and not having a lot of balls or not catching any balls. But the thing that really hurts is that at the end of the day, if you are winning or you are losing.”

“Us just going out here and trying to find a way to win is what’s going to satisfy me and everybody else in this locker room. Me not getting any balls and things going on the last couple of weeks is not getting me down, because I got to get paid, get my check and feed my family each and every week.”

Translation: “I wish I was in New England still.”

Hey, I wonder what Moss is thinking about every time Rusty Smith or Kerry Collins is snapping the ball. My guess would be something along the lines of “I’m sorry Tom (Brady) for jabbing at your Fabio-like haircut.”

This week, the Titans need to get back on track against the Jacksonville Jaguars if they want any kind of a chance of making the playoffs, something that Moss knows.

“It is all on us,” Moss said. “It is nothing that the opponent is doing. We just have to work. The coaches coach, the players play. So that goes hand in hand. So if we are going to try and make a playoff push because we are one game out of the division, coaches have to be on their “A” game, players have to be on their “A” game and that is how you make that playoff push.”

Wow, it sounds like he is reading from a script produced by Boomer Esiason. For once, he actually sounds somewhat intelligent with the things he’s saying. Let’s see if he can translate those things on to the field and be the impact player the Titans need him to be.

As for fantasy purposes, he may be a good start this week against the Jaguars, but beyond that, until he shows a little something, he’s staying on my bench. That’s unless I’m purposely on a mission to lose a toilet bowl playoffs. At this time though, and contrary to the way the Titans’ season has gone, I can’t say that I am.

P.F.M. – Prime Fantasy Matchup

Mark Sanchez vs. Tom Brady

2010 Numbers

Sanchez –
2,472 yards, 18 TD (two rushing), 8 INT. He has also recorded three games without a touchdown.

Brady –
2,703 yards, 24 TD (one rushing), 4 INT. He hasn’t gone touchdown-less in a game yet this season and has thrown for 11 in his last four.

The last time they met … Sanchez threw for 220 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, while Brady went for 248 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Jets won 28-14 when Sanchez took over the game in the second half.

This time fantasy owners should look for a bigger game out of Brady. He’s red-hot right now, and word is that the Jets don’t know where to line up Darrelle Revis this time around with Randy Moss out of the equation. Plus, I also hear that starting safety Jim Leonhard has been lost for the season, an area of the field Brady loves to dissect. Do I hear Rob Gronkowki’s name hollering at me?

On the Jets’ side of things I would look for Sanchez to have a solid game, especially considering that from a numbers perspective the Patriots pass defense is one of the worst the NFL has to offer (288.5 yards per game). Plus, Sanchez has played much better on the road than at home this season and does tend to elevate his play when playing against superior quarterbacks.

S.O.V. – Speaking Out Violently

For the longest time I’ve been a huge Cris Carter fan. Heck, I still have his jersey hanging in my closet as a memory of the times I would play football as a kid and pretend I was just like him. Yeah, I can even imitate his first down move, even though Donald Driver’s is much more exciting.

To sum it up, with the exception of Barry Sanders he was my favorite player to watch in his prime. He was kind of like an idol to me.

But as with anything good in life, things change, and so do opinions, as is the case with mine of Carter.

You see, I did think he was a good guy, a great player and someone who was smart, but after hearing what he had to say about the whole Randy Moss/New England situation earlier this week I started to think that maybe I idolized the wrong player.

When talking about Deion Branch to WEEI Boston’s “Big Show,” he said the following … ”Deion disappears too much against regular corners. He disappears in the game. He’s made, like, three guest appearances since the Super Bowl. … Look at his stats. Look at his game.”

Ok, I’ll admit that Branch hasn’t been the most reliable as his career has progressed, but if I remember correctly his Super Bowl appearance against the Eagles post-2004 wasn’t exactly guest-like. In fact, in that game he not only caught 11 passes for 133 yards, but he claimed MVP honors as well in the Patriots’ 24-21 win.

How many Super Bowl rings and MVP honors has Carter won again?

So I did a little more digging, and thanks to the
Providence Journal found the comments Carter made after the Patriots traded Moss to the Vikings.

“There’s no way you take Randy Moss away from any quarterback in this league, and that quarterback gets better. It’s not possible,” Carter said. “This is a game about talented players. But you can only do so much if you don’t have the weapons. Tom will still be a great quarterback until he retires. He is that good. But he will have to work extra hard. Wes Welker’s job became a little bit harder.”

Really, Cris?

The Patriots are 6-1 since Moss’ departure and as noted above Brady hasn’t recorded a touchdown-less game. He also has four straight multiple touchdown games.

It seems as though Carter has stooped to the Moss level of intelligence. It’s either that or he just wants to be like Tony Dungy and believe in a guy just to prove everyone else wrong. Either way, he has lost most of his credibility with me, and I’m sure others will soon follow behind.

Thanks for reading!

Eric Huber is a staff writer for Fantasysharks.com.

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