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Fantasy News: Week 14 Edition

WHEN WILL WESTBROOK RETURN?

Eagles running back Brian Westbrook has recently been plagued by two concussions, but that doesn’t seem like that will stop him from returning to the game he loves.  In fact, according to the

Philadelphia Inquirer the 30-year old Westbrook even has his sights on returning before the end of this season. 

“That’s my hope – to get back out there and play,” he said Wednesday. “I think all of the signs right now are aiming toward being able to play before the end of the season.”

Coach Andy Reid insists that Westbrook’s progression isn’t going to be rushed. 

“We’re trying to ease him back in to make sure he doesn’t have any symptoms – headaches or anything,” Reid said. “The next step is putting the helmet on and going out and running around and getting him back into football shape. He hasn’t been able to do much over the last couple of weeks. The only way to do it is to take baby steps and see how he feels.  I’m not going to throw him in there if he’s not feeling right. That’s not going to happen.”

When is enough, enough for Westbrook?  Three, four, maybe five concussions?  And what has encouraged Westbrook to want to return, even in light of the long-term effects concussions do produce. 

“I think it’s because of the love of the game,” Westbrook said. “You still think you can play. In my situation, I still think I can play, still think I can produce. . . . I want to play football. That’s what I love to do. That’s what I’ve been doing for a long time.”

Nobody should be surprised by the recent Westbrook revelations.  The Eagles star back has come back from so many bad luck injuries in the past and has clearly proved over the years that he’s a gamer.  However, this is not a knee or foot injury we’re talking about here.  This is a head injury, and considering that it’s the most vital part of the body, maybe No. 36 shouldn’t pull a Trent Green, so he and his hundreds of fans don’t have to continue to bear the pain that will haunt him with just one swift hit. 

As for fantasy purposes, don’t count on much from Westbrook or LeSean McCoy for that matter for the rest of the season as the Eagles rushing attack has lost its mojo.  This week, with Westbrook out it will be up to McCoy and fullback Leonard Weaver to get things rolling against a Giants defense that allowed the Cowboys usually potent rushing attack to run for 48 yards last week.   

IS JENNINGS CREATING A STIR?

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings is creating quite a stir on the field, and in the stat column this season.  Why?  Coming off a two drop game with less than normal numbers already, some, including fantasy owners are becoming concerned with the Packers supposed-to-be star receiver’s production.  However, according to the

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Jennings himself insists that drops are a part of the game and there should nothing to be concerned over when it comes to his production. 

“No, no, I’m not concerned about that, not at all,” Jennings said. “I’m nowhere close to being concerned it. Not sounding cocky about it, but drops are a part of the game. What happened to me on (Monday), the slant, totally me, totally like 100 percent, that is just uncalled for. I can’t control the lights.”

For the year Jennings has recorded just 53 catches for 799 yards and has scored just three touchdowns.  Most notably, though, is the fact that Jennings has been targeted an NFL 24th best 89 times compared to his tenth best 140 times last season.  Why?  According to Jennings it’s because defenses are naturally paying closer attention to him, which has opened the door for others like Jermichael Finley, James Jones, and even Donald Driver to excel. 

Ultimately, it would be nice for fantasy owners and Jennings himself if he would see passes flying his way all the time, but since the team is winning he’s a little more hesitant about being vocal in wanting the ball more.  Besides that, his partner in crime, Donald Driver is being targeted roughly the same amount of times this season (88) anyways, which is a testament of how smart of a quarterback Aaron Rodgers has become. Now No. 12 just finds the open receiver instead of focusing on one No. 85. 

“When we’re playing the way we’re playing, we’re winning, you’re going to get nothing but smiles,” Jennings said.

The only stir this Packer is creating is in fantasy lineups, and lately it hasn’t been a good one. 

THE NAWLINS’ CHASE IS ON, SO IS MEACHEM. 

While fantasy owners scramble to find possible replacement quarterbacks in Weeks 16 and 17 for their productive Saint-like starter, according to the

New Orleans Times-Picayune Drew Brees himself has one thing on his mind — 16-0. 

And why does Mr. Brees want to go undefeated so badly?

“Because we’re here, aren’t we? Who knows if we will ever get this close again,” Brees said. “But it’s one at a time. I mean, you can’t look any further past this game, no matter who you’re playing. And the fact is we’re going on the road (at Atlanta), playing a team that’s only lost two games at home the last two years. And they’re a divisional opponent, and they would love nothing more than to knock us off.”

Indeed the Falcons are a great home team, but they’re a banged up home team, and one that has injuries to two major offensive positions — quarterback and running back.  Both Matt Ryan and Michael Turner will be game-time decisions, and if they can’t go this week the Falcons offense will resemble an offense more like another division foe Bucs team.   

But can this Saints team handle the pressure and distractions that come with chasing down a sacred record.  Brees believes they can. 

“I know what you’re saying, because yeah, obviously the more that you win and the longer you stay undefeated, the more distractions come with that. And more people are calling you, more media people want to talk to you, and more people want to talk about an undefeated season. But, no. This team can handle it. I mean, I think we’ve handled it well. Really, six weeks ago is when I think some of the rumblings started, or the just, ‘Hey, they could do it.’ And now all of a sudden we’re 12-0. Well, let’s finish this thing the way that we started.”

The best part about the Saints is that they have so many weapons, especially on offense, where wide receiver Robert Meachem is starting to make a name for himself, as he continues to take advantage of every opportunity thrown to him. 

“You learn from experience, but if I could say one thing, that guy has taken advantage of every opportunity he’s been given,” Brees said. “If two years ago or last year, he was only getting one play, doggone it he was making the most of that one play he was in. All of a sudden it gets to a point where you’re building a little package for him.  Now it’s to the point where you can pretty much dial anything up for him and you feel confident that he’s going to make a play. It’s been an unbelievable progression from then into now.”

Meachem has scored six touchdowns in the past five games, and oddly enough the last time he didn’t reach the end zone was against the same Falcons team the Saints will be matched up against this week.

The overall bottom line here is that as long as the Saints stay undefeated there is no reason why No. 9 and every other offensive starter won’t play each and every week, even when they wrap up home field advantage before Week 16. 

And for what it’s worth, against his final four opponents combined Brees himself has averages of 264.8 passing yards, and 2.2 touchdowns per game through 26 career games. 

WAYNE IS THINKING TEAM.

Sorry fantasy owners, but Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne has his undefeated team to worry about, and not fantasy numbers.  At least that’s the message he sent recently according to the

Associated Press.  How else is he to explain his seven receptions for 67 yards combined in the last two weeks?

“It’s part of the game, there’s nothing you can do and as long as we win games that’s OK,” Wayne said. “There are going to be some games where I disappoint some fantasy coaches, but that’s how it is.”

“I think this is a different type of year for him,” quarterback Peyton Manning said recently. “His role has changed. He’s taken some of these guys under his wing a little bit and helped those guys. (Assistant head coach) Clyde (Christensen) has challenged Reggie to take his game to the next level. I think Reggie has answered that challenge.”

Much like Marvin Harrison did with Wayne when he first came on to the scene, No. 87 is mentoring and helping mold rookie Austin Collie, and second year player Pierre Garcon in to top Manning targets. 

For the season Collie has 47 receptions for 501 yards and has scored five touchdowns, while Garcon has caught 43 passes for 710 yards and has scored four touchdowns.  Combined they are both like having a Marvin Harrison on the field (90 receptions, 1211 yards, and nine touchdowns).  Let’s not forget either, that tight end Dallas Clark probably has the best numbers in the NFL at his position thus far (77 receptions, 859 yards, and five touchdowns), and has also benefited from Reggie’s field presence. 

So how does one Reggie Wayne produce gaudy numbers at all with all the weapons on this Colts offense? 

“You’ve got to be prepared for whenever your name is called,” Wayne said. “One game it’s Dallas having a big day, then it’s Collie. Whenever you have that many bullets in the chamber, that’s going to happen. You have to stay focused and know that sometime your name will be called and if you’re moping around you’re not going to be ready for the opportunity.”

The bigger question now is: How do fantasy owners stay focused on continuing to utilize Wayne if he continues to be shut down and players like Garcon and Collie continue to rise? 

It almost makes you think as a fantasy owner that this late in the season it almost may be better to have the young pups as No. 3 options as opposed to having a not always show-stopping No. 87 as a top option.  Then again, you probably can’t name a top option that is show-stopping all the time anyways.  Plus, it’s too hard to ignore Wayne’s four 100-yard games, and eight starts with at least one touchdown reception, especially once you reach that championship game. 

ON THE INJURY FRONT…….

According to the

Atlanta Journal-Constitution quarterback Matt Ryan is being listed on the injury report as questionable (turf toe), but did some work during the team’s closed walk-through session on Friday.  “Matt worked again this morning in our walk-through,” head coach Mike Smith said. “He continued to progress and we’re going to make a decision as we get closer to game time.”

Other injuries

WR Lance Moore — Questionable

RB Mike Bell — Questionable

RB Michael Turner — Questionable

WR Roddy White — Questionable

WR Michael Jenkins — Questionable

QB Matthew Stafford — Doubtful

WR Mark Clayton — Doubtful

S Ed Reed — Doubtful

LB Terrell Suggs — Questionable

WR Devin Hester — Questionable

DE Mario Williams — Questionable

RB Donald Brown — Out

WR Anthony Gonzalez — Out

K Adam Vinatieri — Out

DE Robert Mathis — Questionable

WR Mike Sims-Walker — Doubtful

CB Rashean Mathis — Doubtful

RB Bernard Scott — Out

WR Percy Harvin — Questionable

CB Cedric Griffin — Questionable

CB Antoine Winfield — Questionable

RB Adrian Peterson — Probable

QB Jake Delhomme — Out

RB DeAngelo Williams — Probable

RB Jonathan Stewart — Probable

QB Tom Brady — Questionable

QB Mark Sanchez — Out

RB Carnell Williams — Questionable

RB Steven Jackson — Questionable

QB Kyle Boller — Probable

QB Vince Young — Questionable

DT Albert Haynesworth — Questionable

WR Darrius Heyward-Bey — Doubtful

S Eric Weddle — Doubtful

TE Jason Witten — Probable

WR Jeremy Maclin — Questionable

SMACK OF THE WEEK

Anyone who believes Brett Favre should be NFL MVP is not seeing the whole truth and needs to listen up.  As far I’m concerned the only two candidates who should be even in the running for MVP are the Colts Peyton Manning, and the Saints Drew Brees.  Both quarterbacks are undefeated, and have had to single-handedly rally each of their teams on a regular basis with regular starters dropping like the snow fell this week in the Midwest.  You take each of those quarterbacks off their respective teams and those clubs become losing franchises (below .500).  You take Brett Favre off the Minnesota Vikings and the purple and gold merely hold their ground as a 10-6 team, which oddly enough, is still possible this 2009 season. 

BLOW THAT HORN!

In a game of serious competition, Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco likes to have fun when he reaches the end-zone, but most that aren’t living in a secluded cave know that already.  However, do you know what No. 85 has planned for this weekend when the Bengals visit the Metrodome in Minnesota, according to the

St Paul Pioneer Press?

 

“I’m going to steal it from him. What’s his name, Ragnar?” Ochocinco said during a playful conference call Wednesday with Twin Cities reporters. “He better give it to me or I’m going to MMA him.”

That’s right, he’s going to steal the Vikings’ Gjallarhorn if he scores a touchdown, and the Vikings coaches and players are having fun with it. 

“I think it would be pretty funny if him and Ragnar got into an MMA match,” Vikings defensive end Jared Allen said. “I’m pretty sure Ragnar would beat him. I’m positive. Ragnar is a big dude.”

“I don’t want to see him score, but that would be kind of cool to see him do that,” Brett Favre said.

“It looks like he likes to have fun,” Childress said. “Back in the day when he was (a young player), he spent a lot of time in the office bugging on the coaches. He spends time at his trade. I know he’s ‘controversial,’ if that is what you want to say. I kind of enjoy his personality.”

“It’s nothing more than just entertainment,” said safety Madieu Williams, who played four seasons in Cincinnati before signing with the Vikings in 2008. “He even laughs at himself. He sees some of the stuff you guys write and he says, ‘Did I really say that?’ ”

Ding, ding. 

“I don’t think he’s going to be blowing anything but a lot of hot air by the end of the game,” said Joe Juranitch, an Ely, Minn., resident better known as Ragnar.  “I would just tell him to leave those cubic zirconia earrings that he wears back in Cincinnati because it’s not really cool for guys to be wearing cubic zirconia earrings here in Minnesota.”

My bet is on Ragnar. 

Thanks for reading!  Good luck. 

Eric Huber is staff writer for Fantasysharks.com.  E-mail him at

e.huber12@yahoo.com

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FantasySharks.com began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.