There's nothing (nothing!) more harrowing than holding an all-too-slim lead with all your players done and Arian Foster yet to go for the other side. But Arian needed 19 points for the opposition, and he only made 17.70. There's nothing (nothing!) more glorious than just barely holding on against the best your enemy's got to offer. Here's hoping your teams and mine can do it all over again this week.
Quarterbacks sure are dropping like flies, huh? Good time to own a backup.
This week, some of you may be cross with me. I am so, so sorry about Ryan Tannehill. Who saw that coming, right? Tennessee's defense is awful, but the ability of NFL offenses to go into deep hibernation mode at the drop of a hat can't be sold short. Just ask Giants fans who are wondering who kidnapped Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning and replaced him with a doppelganger. But stay patient; I suspect the Giants will fix many of their problems over the bye week.
Of course, if you grabbed Ryan Fitzpatrick or Danario Alexander, you're welcome.
Doesn't it seem like most NFL games now are ugly? Poor play, mental errors, bad penalties, cheap penalties, missed penalties, red-zone turnovers, goal-line failures… it seems like for all but a few teams, these brutalities are the norm. The quantity of unwatchable NFL games seems to be growing exponentially. I do wonder how well the league would be doing if not for betting and fantasy.
Colin Kaepernick, SF – Alex Smith was concussed against the Rams, and in stepped Kaepernick, who led the Niners to fourth-quarter comeback, only to see the game end in a tie. The second-year man out of Nevada went 11-for-17 for 117 yards and – of greater interest to fantasy owners – ran eight times for 66 yards and a touchdown. He's actually rushed for three scores on the year, mostly in a gadget role running the Wildcat. Although a tough matchup against the Bears is on tap for Monday night, Kaepernick could still be of some fantasy relevance thanks to his Cam Newton-esque body and skillset. Smith is improving, though, so don't go nuts.
Nick Foles, PHI – Michael Vick went and injured himself, as is his wont, leaving the game – and perhaps the season – with a concussion. The Eagles will now turn to Foles in his stead. Foles did so somewhat capably despite Philadelphia's mish-mosh of an offensive line, going 22-for-32 for 219 yards, a touchdown and a pick. Foles is expected to start against Washington on Sunday, and he could carve out his place in the Eagles' future with a big first outing. The weapons are certainly there; we'll see how quickly it comes together.
No, I'm not going to recommend you own Chad Henne, Jason Campbell or Byron Leftwich in most formats.
Ben Tate, HOU – Since Tate has served a fairly marginal role this year and missed two games with a hamstring injury, the one-time hot commodity gradually become available in a lot of leagues. But Tate could be back this week against Jacksonville and, considering the relative quality of the teams, will probably pick up a good number of garbage-time carries, pushing Justin Forsett back to the bench.
Chris Ivory, NO – Ivory's been useful in consecutive weeks since the Saints decided to start using him, totaling 120 yards and two touchdowns (plus two catches for 15 yards) despite carrying just 17 times in all. It's hard to see where he can carve out a bigger role than 7-10 carries, but that's enough to make him fantasy-relevant this week against Oakland.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, OAK – To say the least, I'm not a big Heyward-Bey fan. However, he's been a major factor in the passing game the last two weeks, and you know Carson Palmer's going to be airing it out against the Saints. For what it's worth, Heyward-Bey is the class of this week's bye replacements.
Emmanuel Sanders, PIT – With Antonio Brown slated to continue missing time, Sanders is worth a pickup as the Steelers' No. 2 receiver. Though he caught just two balls for 30 yards on Monday night, Sanders' seven targets were second-most on the team. Of course, Ben Roethlisberger's injury is going to hurt Sanders, as Byron Leftwich isn't worth much.
Greg Olsen, CAR – Where's this guy been all year? Cut loose in many leagues in the midst of an underwhelming season, Olsen essentially was the Carolina offense on Sunday, catching nine balls for 102 yards and two TDs. We all know he's a talented pass-catcher, and he's actually putting up the highest yards per game of his career (55.2). It's the touchdowns that have, until last week, been lacking.