There has been a lot of talk about what the Indianapolis Colts will do with their inevitable No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. Here are a few of options that I can see playing out:
1. Peyton Manning comes back in December and starts a few games, getting the Colts out of the No. 1 overall pick and ending their chances in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. I don’t think this will happen, though, because Manning hasn’t practiced at all yet and probably won’t step foot on the practice field until after Thanksgiving at the earliest. This would mean that Manning wouldn’t start the week after Thanksgiving (Week 13), and he would only be able to start three games. I don’t think that the Colts risk this happening with the guy to whom they’re paying all that money, plus they have nothing to play for. The only reason they would want Manning back on the field this year is to see if he is fully healthy and whether or not they should be looking at drafting Luck.
2. The Colts draft Luck with the No. 1 overall pick. This would lead them into two options. Option 1: The Colts keep Manning and let Luck mature under him and take over the franchise in three or four years. Even though Luck is being called one of the most NFL-ready quarterbacks to come out of the college ranks in a long time, I just don’t see this happening. Having the No. 1 overall pick, not start on Day 1 of the 2012 season is pretty unheard of. Option 2: The Colts trade Manning away and hope that Luck is their next franchise quarterback and can do what Manning did for more than a decade for the next decade to come. This could be entirely possible, but I don’t think the Colts want to take that risk. I don’t see Indianapolis giving up on Manning after signing him to such a huge contract, although if they wanted to they could release him as his contract is structured as a one-year deal with a one-year extension.
3. The last option I see as the most likely. The Colts trade away the No. 1 pick. With this they could get a ton of other draft picks in the deal. Indianapolis doesn’t need a backup quarterback, and this is not the place to draft a new offensive line or defensive line player. Trading down even a half-dozen picks to a team that really needs a quarterback like Miami or Seattle makes the most sense to me. The holes I see on the Indianapolis team are running back, offensive line and defensive secondary. They could fill all of these positions with top draft picks in the first round and a half if they were to trade down. They could even take another quarterback in the second round and have him study under Manning for three or four years until he finally can’t go anymore.
Now onto the calls for the week.
Carson Palmer has averaged 315 passing yards in his two starts and thrown multiple touchdowns in both. This week in Minnesota should be no challenge for him to put up good numbers. Minnesota just lost their top cornerback, Antoine Winfield, for the season, and their other cornerback, Cedric Griffin, can’t cover the whole field. Minnesota is a bottom five team against quarterbacks, and Palmer seems to be getting in a good sync with Denarius Moore. Starting Palmer would be a good call this week.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has not had a good run since he came off his bye week three weeks ago. Three games against Top 10 defenses (Washington, New York Jets and Dallas) have been tough on him. He finally gets a break this week when the Bills head to Miami. The Dolphins rank in the bottom half of the league against quarterbacks, and this will seem like a much easier game after all the tough ones he’s faced recently. Miami gives up an average of 230 yards and just under two touchdowns per game. Fitzpatrick is slightly above average and should be able to make those average numbers.
Andy Dalton gets his first taste of the Baltimore Ravens style of defense this week. The Ravens haven’t allowed any quarterback all year to get more than one touchdown in a game, and they give up an average of 174 yards per game to quarterbacks. Dalton is still a rookie and this game will not be a fun one for him or for you if you start him this week.
Joe Flacco has more turnovers (12) than total touchdowns (11) on the year. He also hasn’t thrown more than one touchdown pass in a game since Week 3. His yardage totals have been good, but we all know we want our quarterbacks throwing touchdowns. Flacco is starting to slide into that questionably startable area with Jay Cutler and Sam Bradford. Flacco’s opponent this week, the Cincinnati Bengals, are actually pretty good against quarterbacks. I see this game being a defensive shootout with Baltimore winning because they have Ray Rice to run the ball. Flacco won’t be productive in this game and shouldn’t be your starting quarterback this week.
Marshawn Lynch has scored a touchdown in the last five games in which he’s played. His last two games have been better than 100 yards rushing, and those two games have come against Dallas and Baltimore, which have the eighth- and first-ranked rush defenses, respectively. Lynch seems to get stronger the more carries he gets in a game. This week he gets a cupcake game against the St. Louis Rams, who have been second-worst in total rushing yards given up this year. Lynch should have no problem plowing over the Rams and would definitely be a good call to be in your lineup this week.
Kendall Hunter will make a good start for your team this weekend and let me explain why. Hunter’s touches have gone up in the last three weeks from three to eight to nine. Frank Gore has an injured knee, which he’ll probably try to play through, but not the whole game. San Francisco has a Thanksgiving night game at Baltimore, a game for which they’ll want Gore rested. So Arizona comes to San Francisco this weekend to face the 49ers’ second-ranked run defense, and have John Skelton at quarterback. My guess is that the 49ers are up 14 at the half and Gore rests the entire second half. Hunter is averaging 4.8 yards per carry this year, and in the second half would be able to see around 15 touches. That should give him a stat line of around 70 yards and most likely a touchdown. More than enough for him to be in your starting lineup.
Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells should be on your bench this week if you’ve got another decent option. Wells goes to San Francisco to face the stout second-ranked rush defense in the NFL. Wells has slowed down as of late with only 95 total yards in his last two games and no touchdowns. With John Skelton at quarterback, everything will be stacked against Wells this week, including the San Francisco defense line. Nothing lines up for Wells to be productive this week.
I myself will be sitting Cedric Benson for Kendall Hunter this week. Benson has been averaging 74 yards a game this year, but only has two touchdowns. He’s not going to get a touchdown against the top rush defense in the league, in Baltimore, this week. Benson will probably have one of his worst games of the year, and here are some guys I’d start over him: James Starks, Brandon Jacobs, Maurice Morris, Daniel Thomas and Jackie Battle. As you can see I’m not big on Benson this week, and starting him would be a bad call.