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Fantasy Intelligence Report – Week 14

B.D.N. – Breaking Down News

We start in New Orleans, where word on the street is that running back Pierre Thomas will play on Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. How much? Well, according to
The Times-Picayune, that’s yet to be determined.

“He’s had a good week of practice,” head coach Sean Payton said. “He’s really in his second week (of practicing), and he’s ready. He’ll be up and part of the plan. We’ll be smart and try to package the plays accordingly like we do, and we’ll see how the game unfolds in regards to his snaps.”

Thomas is excited to get back on the field, and isn’t worried about his lingering injury.

“I’m not thinking about my ankle,” Thomas said when asked if he feels like he might be limited. “I’m more focused on what I have to do to help win this game. (The ankle) hasn’t been bothering me all week.”

This is not the news the fantasy owners who have been adding Christopher Ivory probably were hoping for. Ivory has scored five touchdowns in the last three weeks, and is coming off a 117-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Now, with both Thomas and Bush scheduled to be in the mix for touches, Ivory’s value is fading fast. I’m just glad I don’t have any Saints’ running backs period, otherwise I would probably need some serious Tylenol.

Speaking of headaches, in Arizona, the Cardinals will be looking for a kick start to their offense when John Skelton gets his first NFL start on Sunday.

According to the
Republic, Skelton insists that he’s overall not nervous about his first, hopefully, shining moment.

“There will be nerves but they will be tempered a little bit because I did get to play last week,” said Skelton, a fifth-round pick out of Fordham. “But at the same time, it’s my first start. I’m not a guy who gets real nervous, but I’ll probably be real anxious.”

The plot gets better (or worse depending on your perception) for the Cardinals, as they recently signed Richard Bartel to back-up Skelton.

“We’ve got young quarterbacks and you know what you face,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “I’m excited to see what he can do. I saw him do some good things in the game last week, but playing a whole game … is a little different. There are some things you are going to have to live with but hopefully the time that he’s put in will help prepare him for that.”

Even though they’ll be up against one of the weaker run defenses in the NFL, fantasy owners might as well forget about the Cardinals rushing attack (as if they didn’t already). The Broncos will stack the line and really challenge the inexperienced Skelton. The only player I’m even considering this week within the Cardinals offense is Larry Fitzgerald. That’s only because he’s Larry Fitzgerald.

In New York, good news is spreading fast. The fantasy playoffs are here for some, and it’s just in time for the Giants’ Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks to return to action, or so they think.

According to the
New York Post, both receivers insist that they feel good to play this week against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night, but are still listed on the injury report as questionable.

“I think I’m good, but it’s their decision at the end of the day,” Nicks said. “Everything’s pretty good. Originally, the doctors had me at three weeks so I think they’re deciding to cut the three weeks short. I’m just waiting on the decision now.”

Nicks is battling compartment syndrome in his lower right leg, while Smith has missed four games with a partially torn pectoral. Smith will have to wear protective harness that prevents him from crossing his arm over, which could lead to re-injury of his pectoral.

“It keeps you from stretching back too much or stretching for the ball too high,” Smith said. “Hopefully Eli (Manning) will keep it within my arm radius.”

Fantasy owners should wait until game day to decide to start either player. The Vikings’ pass defense has been better lately, but they’ve still allowed 19 touchdowns through the air for the season compared to six on the ground. My guess is that Manning could throw a few touchdown passes, and if Smith and Nicks both play there’s a real good chance they’ll be on the receiving end of those passes.

D.Y.K. – Did you know?

Drew Brees recorded a season-high 82.8 completion percentage last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, and has been averaging more than two touchdown passes per week in the last seven games.

In two games against the Atlanta Falcons last season, Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart averaged more than seven yards per carry and scored two touchdowns. Carolina plays Atlanta twice in the next four weeks.

Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback Brett Favre has 14 career touchdown passes in six games against the New York Giants, and in his last appearance threw for 316 yards and four scores. Now, we know why coach Leslie Frazier is hopeful No. 4 will play on Monday night.

Green Bay Packers’ wide receiver Greg Jennings has scored six touchdowns in his last four games, but has scored just four times in eight games against the Lions. Furthermore, Jennings’ worst career month is December, where he is averaging just 62.4 yards and less than a half a touchdown per game.

S.O.T. – Speaking Out Truthfully

DISCLAIMER/EDITOR’S NOTE:  The author’s viewpoints are not necessarily those of FantasySharks.com.

Disgusted. It was the word that came to mind whenever my parents said the words “liver” and “onions” when I was a young child. It’s the word that best describes the feeling I get when I see anyone throw away even a sliver of pasta. Most of all, it’s the word that best described the feeling I got when I read the “Point After” in this week’s
Sports Illustrated. It is the subject of this week’s Speaking Out Truthfully.

Let’s play pretend for a minute or two.

Picture this – The Oakland Raiders, riding a six-game losing streak, are down 27-6 to the Cleveland Browns. Starting quarterback Jason Campbell is pulled by head coach Tom Cable, but is seen laughing it up on the sidelines with teammate Langston Walker.

After the game none of the reporters even bother asking Campbell what was so comical about Walker’s 360-pound frame. Instead, they focus in on how many times he missed wide receiver Jacoby Ford. In other words, Campbell gets a free pass on his tickling sideline session.

See, Phil Taylor had the first part of the fan’s perception right in his analysis “Make War, Not Love,” when he said, ”Appearances do matter.” However, he missed the bigger picture. In fact, all he did was share the same opinion as his friends, only because he felt he had to, not because he wanted to.

It’s kind of the same feeling most employees get when talking in a large group about their bosses in front of their boss. If the mood is positive, nobody brings up anything negative, because they want everyone else to like them.

Now, if I were writing the “Point After” I would make sure to include the word “expectation.”

See, the truth is that most fans – black, white, hispanic, chinese, whatever – have a higher expectation of the white quarterback, because a lot of times, right or wrong, he is perceived and generalized as smarter. It’s why a lot of folks have a hatred towards Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Heck, at one point, five years ago I’ll admit I even did.

Everyone loves the underdog though, because they feel closer to or smarter than that person, thus they don’t have to ask the hate-filled questions. In Derek Anderson’s case though, because he’s a white NFL quarterback who is supposed to be smarter than the average Tom, Dick or Joe, he’s put on a higher pedestal and asked the tougher and argument-starting questions when things go wrong.

Now, you may disagree with my viewpoint, and may have other nasty thoughts, but I wouldn’t be bringing this up if someone would just see the truth and not be afraid to speak it without worrying about racial implications.

In the case of Phil Taylor all he reinforced was the fact that he is a conformist to not only the media, but his own community.

In fact, if I had to put it in to proper context I would say he missed wide left, and if you don’t think his viewpoint was race and media provoked, then you have missed wide left too.

For the record, my favorite quarterback growing up was Randall Cunningham. I still even have his Philadelphia Eagles tackling buddy sitting in my office; something that I’ve kept for almost 20 years now, and plan on “passing” to my own child someday.

Thanks for reading!

Eric Huber is a staff writer for Fantasysharks.com

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