by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
After another Sunday of NFL football it’s hard not to walk away with more questions than answers. It was yet another tough week, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t able to come able learning some valuable lessons. Let’s take a look at 10 things we learned from Week 10:
1) That Doug Martin has become a player to virtually ignore…
While Martin continues to see regular opportunities, he’s consistently failed to do anything with them. Martin has now had at least 18 carries in four of his past five games, but the results have been ugly:
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Sandwiched in there was a game against the Saints where he had 7 yards on 8 carries. How many poor performances do the Buccaneers need to see before giving someone else an opportunity? It’s not like Jacquizz Rodgers has done much damage this season, nor has Chris Sims, but sooner or later they almost have to try something different. Maybe the schedule gets a little bit easier, but at this point Martin is best left on your bench until he proves otherwise.
2) That Samaje Perine may be able to capitalize on an opportunity…
First it was Rob Kelley going down last week, which opened a little bit of an opportunity. With Chris Thompson suffering a broken leg yesterday, Perine is now set to be the unquestioned featured back. He was viewed as a player with upside heading into the season, though he had struggled with 210 yards on 66 carries and 0 TD entering the day. He quieted his critics in Week 11, though, as he took 23 carries for 117 yards (5.1 YPC) and 1 TD against a defense that had been solid against the run. With the Giants, Cowboys and Chargers on the schedule over the next three weeks he’s also going to have the potential to keep this momentum going. Consider him a viable RB2 over the next few weeks.
3) That the Bills were misguided with their change to Nathan Peterman…
Disaster may not be a strong enough word as Peterman was abysmal in his first NFL start. A fifth round rookie, he finished the first half going a poor 6-14 for 66 yards. If that weren’t enough, he threw 5 INT and fumbled once (though he recovered). Obviously the Bills wanted to believe there was some “magic”, after Peterson came in during Week 10 and completed 70% of his passes (7-10) while throwing for 79 yards and 1 TD, but this clearly was a wakeup call. It’s unlikely we see Peterman back under center come Week 12, or maybe at all for the rest of the season.
4) That Latavius Murray is the running back to own in Minnesota…
Everyone wants to go with McKinnon every week, but it’s Murray who was the more productive option in Week 11:
- Latavius Murray – 16 touches, 96 yards, 2 TD
- Jerick McKinnon – 19 touches, 60 yards, 0 TD
This comes after Murray had 68 yards and 1 TD a week ago (and is only weeks removed from 113 yards and 1 TD). He’s now scored 4 TD over his past 4 games while McKinnon has 1 TD over the same span. McKinnon’s topped 60 yards in a game just once over this stretch, and while he does have added value in PPR formats it’s hard to rank him ahead of Murray. Is Murray a must play? Probably not, but he’s continually found the end zone and shown an ability to run the football. He’s the better as of today.
5) That it’s time to stop buying the Joe Mixon hype…
Maybe that conclusion should’ve come weeks ago, but after taking 20 carries for 49 yards it’s becoming harder and harder to believe that the breakout will ever come… Maybe that’s a stretch, but he’s now averaged 2.5 yards/carry or less in three of his past four games (and he hasn’t broken a run of more than 13 yards over this stretch). Sure he had found the end zone in back-to-back games, but a TD dependent option who isn’t necessarily going to get over 15 touches is going to be a tough sell.
At the same time a 4-6 Bengals team likely isn’t going anywhere, so it makes sense for the team to continue feeding him the football and seeing if he can finally get going. We wouldn’t drop him, obviously, as running backs with upside are hard to find, but until he shows us some type of breakout he’s a desperation FLEX play and nothing more.
6) That Keenan Allen gave us a reminder about just how good he is…
Allen entered the day with a modest line of 44 receptions, 596 yards and 1 TD and hadn’t topped 70 yards since October 1 (and hadn’t scored since Week 1). He exploded against the Bills, though, turning 13 targets into 12 receptions, 159 yards and 2 TD. After missing the bulk of 2016 due to injury it was fair to be concerned, though let this serve as a reminder of his upside and why you don’t want to ignore him. With the potential to keep this going on Thanksgiving Day against the Dallas Cowboys, don’t be surprised to see him back up in the WR1 spectrum for Week 12.
7) That Ameer Abdullah is nothing more than a TD dependent option…
It was a poor performance against the Bears, taking 11 carries for 22 yards, though his day was saved by catching a TD (2 receptions for 13 yards). These struggles shouldn’t come as a surprise, as he entered the day averaging 3.5 yards per carry and has now averaged 2.5 yards per carry or worse in three of the past four games. He has scored in each of the past three , though, and that has allowed him to maintain at least a little bit of value.
Can we expect Abdullah to continue finding the end zone? Next up is a Thanksgiving date with the Vikings, and that’s going to be a completely hands off situation. After that maybe things get easier against the Ravens and Buccaneers, but it’s impossible to bank on it. He’s a TD dependent option, and that makes him difficult to trust (in a similar mold to Joe Mixon).
8) That there may be no reason to believe in Brett Hundley, and that leaves little value in the offense…
He was terrible against the Ravens, completing 21-36 passes for 239 yards, 0 TD and 3 INT (and he also lost a fumble). He now hasn’t topped 245 yards in any of his games while throwing 2 TD vs. 7 INT. With a running game that’s been plagued by injuries the Packers need to depend on their passing game, but performances like this make that impossible. The bigger problem is what type of effect his struggles have on the talented receiving corps:
- Davante Adams – 8 receptions for 126 yards
- Randall Cobb – 3 receptions for 34 yards
- Jordy Nelson – 2 receptions for 24 yards
Adams has now totaled 216 yards over the past two weeks, while Nelson has 44 yards and Cobb 86 yards. It’s clear who Hundley’s preferred target is, and Adams is the best option and worth using each week. The other two are better suited as bench options/desperation plays, until they prove they can be productive with Hundley under center.
9) That Larry Fitzgerald is quarterback proof…
It’s amazing what he’s done, regardless of who is under center. Over the past five games he’s had three different starting quarterbacks, including Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert, yet he has four games of 70+ yards (and three games of at least 90 yards). This week, while many were assuming that Gabbert would be a downgrade, Fitzgerald turned 10 targets into 9 receptions, 91 yards and 1 TD. It’s amazing what he’s been able to do, and at this point it’s impossible not to consider him among the elite receivers in the game today.
10) That Rob Gronkowski could fall out as a top tier tight end…
Maybe that’s a stretch, but he was targeted 3 times (3 receptions for 36 yards) as it was Brandin Cooks turn to rule the offense (6 receptions, 149 yards, 1 TD). Throw in the four-headed running back committee, as well as the presence of Dwayne Allen and Martellus Bennett who could siphon off a few of the tight end targets, and it’s fair to wonder if Gronkowski could be used in a limited role moving forward in an effort to keep him healthy.
Game flow likely played a part, but Gronkowski has averaged just 4.6 receptions per game on the season and we all know the talent that the team possesses overall. No one is going to say not to use him, but he could consistently be behind players like Zack Ertz, Travis Kelce and Evan Engram in the coming weeks.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com