Monday - May 20, 2019

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JL’s Observation Deck – Week 5


Around The League

A surprisingly entertaining game broke out across the pond in London between two teams that hadn’t won a game in the young season. I gathered two main conclusions from watching that game. First being the play of Pittsburgh rookie running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell showed the quick feet and patience that made him successful at the college level. What he showed me in this game, that impressed me more than I expected, was his short area quickness to go along with those quick feet.

In college, too often it took him too long to get going when he took the handoff; in this game Sunday, it was evident the weight he has shed definitely benefited him and his explosiveness. He played like a runner with something to prove, and despite the awful performance of the Steelers’ running game in the first three weeks of the season, this rookie has brought hope to fantasy circles desperately looking for a solid RB2 – which has become a rarity in this day in age.

Secondly, it was also apparent that
Matt Cassel

helped the overall rhythm of the Minnesota passing game. This is a guy who can come in and make stick throws. Think about it, what does he have to lose? He is the clear backup now (so the coaches say) and the pressure is off him. His throw to
Greg Jennings

on their second touchdown of the day is the exact kind of throw I don’t see
Christian Ponder

make or even attempt to make. With that said, don’t get overly excited about the prospects of
Greg Jennings

moving forward, as he didn’t even play 40 snaps in the game and ran less than 25 pass routes.

Back in the states, there were a number of intriguing games, but none more heart-breaking for their own fan base than the Seattle-Houston contest. While you will likely hear a lot of the blame fall on
Matt Schaub

for this loss because of his late fourth quarterback mistake that ultimately cost the Texans the game. What you won’t hear about is what happened before that play.

On the Texans’ previous drive prior to the game-tying
Richard Sherman

interception return, the Texans got the football up seven points and proceeded to throw on three straight plays. All resulting in incompletions, which caused Houston to go three-and-out and punt the ball back to Seattle. When coach Gary Kubiak’s team got the ball back once more, he called four straight
Arian Foster

runs that resulted in one first down, 18 yards and a lot of time off the clock. What did he call next? The play action pass in which Schaub failed to take a sack and instead threw a season-changing interception. With the success of the running game throughout the game, and the situation at hand, I put just as much of the blame on Kubiak’s play-calling as I do Schaub’s decision making.

Furthermore, in Houston on Sunday, none of that scenario would have even played out if two things didn’t happen from the very start of the fourth quarter when Seattle was backed up on its 2-yard-line.
Russell Wilson

decided to take over the game with his legs and
Doug Baldwin

proved why he is one of the more underrated football players in the NFL when fully healthy. In fact, these were basically the only two elements of the drive that cut the Texans lead from 14 to seven. Baldwin made two difficult catches, both on 3rd-and-7 that extended drives, including the first of the two which was the best catch of the entire football weekend at the pro or college level. In the mainstream media, you’ll hear plenty about who they think cost Houston the game. What you won’t hear about are the little things that actually decided the game.

Jake Locker of the Tennessee Titans suffered a terribly unfortunate injury
on Sunday afternoon. Locker has not only been one of the highest-rated quarterbacks on the young season, but has shown incredible improvement from a year ago. It is amazing what a little extra confidence can do for a quarterback’s accuracy. The last two weeks Locker has done much more than just manage the game and has shown true signs that he belongs in the discussion of young franchise quarterbacks that seem to be taking over the NFL. There is no doubt while
Ryan Fitzpatrick

might remain serviceable in Locker’s absence, this definitely puts a dent in the chances of this team pushing to make the playoffs – something I don’t believe the casual fan who doesn’t watch much Titans football believed
Jake Locker

and this defense could do.

I have never been a fan of a team taking their foot off the proverbial gas pedal when they grab a comfortable lead, but the Detroit Lions should definitely consider giving a large chunk of their clock-grinding carries to
Joique Bell

rather than Reggie Bush
. On Sunday, Bell received four carries from the early third quarter and beyond when the Lions were comfortably ahead 17 points. Bush on the other hand, carried it seven times, with only one of those runs exceeding a five yards.

Sure, that might not sound like much of a disparity, but Bush is playing at an elite level right now and if there is any avenue you can explore to limit his touches, you have to do it. Keeping him healthy and fresh for the remainder of the season should be one of the Lions’ top priorities. Bush has brought a dynamic to their rushing attack and has made them a legitimate NFC contender in a very stout NFC North division. If Bush was to get dinged up again, especially when carrying the rock in quarter four of a game the Lions are ahead, they would become a much different team that is only capable of a middle-of-the-pack finish with Matthew Stafford shouldering such a heavy load.

Bruce Arians is frustrated with the play of
Rashard Mendenhall

and the overall lack of explosion from the Arizona offense thus far in 2013. The beneficiary of this will be their rookie running back Andre Ellington
. Ellington is by far the biggest threat the Cardinals have to offer right now and it’s obvious Arians wants to get him on the field, even using him multiple times as a true fullback in the previous two games. Look for his snaps to go up as the Cardinals look to improve on an offense that has only converted two third downs total in their two victories this season.


Roddy White

is looking a little more like himself, and if there was ever a time to buy low on the Atlanta receiver, it might be now. White missed only two snaps in the game Sunday night against New England and he was targeted a season-high nine times. If you are truly in a gambling mode, you can even wait one more week and hope his performance against the New York Jets isn’t too much of a breakout on national TV Monday night, and then steal him from the manager who doesn’t want to eat his Week 6 bye week. White should return to form in Week 7 after two weeks rest and should pay dividends late in the year for managers who use the foresight to acquire him now.

Thanks again for reading this week’s “Observation Deck.” Follow me on twitter for more good information @JohnnyLFootball. Don’t be afraid to ask me all the start/sit and trades questions you might need a second opinion on. Have a great week fellow fantasy football peeps.

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