New Orleans 13, Atlanta 23
The Saints continue to prove that trusting any New Orleans running back is a complete roll of the dice. Over the past three weeks we’ve seen a steady rotation typically led by Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory. This week it was Pierre Thomas out of nowhere pacing the team in rushing attempts at 14 for 84 yards. Fortunately for Ingram owners, the second year runner punched in a one-yard score after Pierre Thomas was dropped on the one yard line. Best to avoid all three if possible.
We should also note the complete absence of Darren Sproles from the rushing statistics. However, what Sproles lacked in carries he made up for in targets with nine on Thursday night. Those numbers typically equated with a low end WR2, further solidifying Sproles as the only Saints RB worthy of starter consideration.
Fantasy owners have been flooding social media after the game with complaints about Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White. However, with Brees chucking up interceptions like beads on Mardi Gras, along with an early lead, the Falcons never had the urgency to move the football through the air, instead choosing to grind out the clock on the ground. Hard to blame a guy for poor fantasy production when his team wins the game.
Jacksonville 18, Buffalo 34
It’s tough to decipher through the television, but the weather report indicates rain and 20 mph winds impacting this game. That could be to blame for Chad Henne sailing passes, while the wide receivers weren’t helping maters with a number of critical drops. Combined with untimely penalties, the Jags couldn’t sustain drives and keep their offense on the field leading to poor statistics all around.
Cecil Shorts III amazing season continued finding the zone on a five yard touchdown catch. However, Shorts would be forced to leave the game after suffering a concussion giving fantasy owners concerns as we make our playoff preparations. Monitor this situation closely.
As for the running game, which usually prospers in poor weather, Rashad Jennings managed just 20 yards on eight carries before leaving the game with a concussion early in the 2nd quarter. More of a straight line plodder with the inability to make defenders miss, Jennings could find himself on the bench even if he returns next week. In his place stepped Montell Owens with seven carries for 29 yards. Falling behind early in this game killed Owens’ chances of making an impact, but the seventh year player did flash a better skill set than Jennings. I’m going way out on a limb, but I believe Owens will retain the job so long as Maurice Jones-Drew is sidelined. He is worth a long shot should you be devastated at the running back position.
Where the Jags failed to run the ball, the Bills prospered as evident by 46 rushing attempts compared to just 17 passes. Every week we read statement from head coach Chan Gailey, “CJ Spiller will get the ball more often,” and every week its Fred Jackson leading this team in touches. This game F-Jax tooted the rock 29 times for 109 yards as compared to Spiller’s 14 carries for 77 yards. Jackson was also the preferred red zone back while getting valuable junk time carries in clock killing mode. Fortunately for Spiller owners he was able to break a 44-yard touchdown around the left side late in the game while giving Jackson a breather. Spiller is impossible to sit, but Jackson will continue cutting into his production
Stevie Johnson was able to strike gold on a back shoulder catch for a touchdown in the early third quarter. However, Johnson would leave the game soon after, seen going to the locker room under his own power after his hamstring tightened up. Already a yellow flag injury risk, Johnson practice status throughout the week will give us better definition as to the severity of his injury.
Seattle 23, Chicago 17
Russell Wilson came of age in this game marching his team down the field for a touchdown with 24 seconds on the clock to take the lead for Seattle. After Chicago miraculously tied up the game, the ever poised rookie quarterback opened the extra period equaling his late game drive capping off a Seattle win with his second touchdown of the day. On top of his 293 yards and two touchdowns, Wilson added 71 rushing yards for 29 fantasy points. Hard to trust as an every week starter, Wilson is a very high-end QB2 should you need desperate help.
Golden Tate is a pure athlete catching the ball underneath and working through seven Bears defenders before leaping into the end zone for the go ahead score in regulation. Like so many borderline starters, Tate is hard to recommend, but the production is undeniable topping 15 fantasy points in three of the past four weeks making Tate a lower WR3.
Seattle’s number one wide receiver, Sydney Rice delivered once again with 99 yards and one touchdown. Owners beware as Rice was knocked silly after a vicious hit at the end of the game. He’s already taken to twitter and informed us he passed his postgame concussion tests.
As expected Matt Forte was held in check by the strong defensive line of the Seahawks. On the plus side was Forte breaking open on a twelve yard touchdown reception while playing the entire game without an injury setback. He’s impossible to keep out of our lineups when healthy.