Inside the Huddle: Week 5

Two receivers (Miles Austin & Roddy White) put up 200 yard efforts.  Tony Romo had the big game that owners have been waiting for.  Rashard Mendehall had another big game, making Willie Parker owners what is going to happen when he returns from injury.  Let’s look at these stories and all the rest from yesterday’s games:

Cleveland Browns 6, Buffalo Bills 3

  • The Browns may have won, but their offense was absolutely pitiful in this game.  First of all 17 passes.  That was all that Derek Anderson attempted, completing two of them for 23 yards and an interception.  That is inexplicable and almost impossible to comprehend.  Obviously, with such a terrible performance, the receivers were completely nonexistent.  Mohamed Massaquoi, last week’s darling, had just one catch for 16 yards.  There will be better days.  Actually, all should be better days because it cannot get much worse than this.
  • The only positive was Jamal Lewis who rushed for 117 yards.  That type of performance should limit the hype on Jerome Harrison, but I would not write him off completely.  If you have room on your bench, keep him stashed away.  There’s a good chance that he takes a prime role again at some point this season.
  • Marshawn Lynch didn’t take long to get into the groove.  He rushed for 69 yards as well as making 6 catches for 56 yards.  He’s a viable option in all formats.
  • We continue to wait for Terrell Owens to have a breakaway performance, but it still has yet to come.  He had four catches for 44 yards this week as his mundane season rolls on.  Despite his sub par performance to date, all you can do is to continue to roll him out there.  Sooner or later he’s going to put together a big day and you don’t want to have him on your bench for that.

Pittsburgh Steelers 28, Detroit Lions 20

  • Rashard Mendenhall continued to make his case to be the prime back in Pittsburgh, rushing for 77 yards and a touchdown while adding two catches for another 16 yards.  It will certainly be interesting to see what happens when Willie Parker returns to the line-up.
  • Calvin Johnson had one catch for two yards before leaving the game due to a leg injury in the first quarter.  This is a potential devastating injury for fantasy owners, so certainly stay tuned.  You may want to put in your waiver claim for the best receiver you can find, just in case.
  • The Steelers continue to focus on the pass, with Ben Roethlisberger going 23-30 for 277 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.  He spread the ball around with Hines Ward (7 catches for 85 yards), Heath Miller (5 catches for 54 yards) and Mike Wallace (2 catches for 52 yards) all catching touchdowns.

Dallas Cowboys 28, Kansas City Chiefs 20

  • Tony Romo went 20-34 for 351 yards and 2 touchdowns, but he was far from the offensive star for the Cowboys.  That honor goes to Miles Austin who exploded in the absence of Roy Williams.  He caught 10 passes for 250 yards and 2 TD.  Unbelievable showing in what could be his breakout performance.  We all know that Williams has been a bitter disappoint and this certainly could be the changing of the guard for who is the top receiver.  You do have to consider the opponent, but still.
  • Larry Johnson rushed the ball 21 times for 37 yards.  That is an average of 1.8 yards per carry.  There’s nothing to say except now may be the time to stash Jamal Charles.  It seems like it is only a matter of time before a change is made.

Minnesota Vikings 38, St. Louis Rams 10

  • Adrian Peterson rushed the ball 15 times for 69 yards and 2 TD, while also catching a pair of passes for six yards.  The guy just puts up numbers every single week, even when he clearly was not at his best.  I still cannot fathom why some people opted to pass him over with the first pick of fantasy drafts.
  • Vishante Shiancoe caught 4 passes for 49 yards and a touchdown.  Maybe this performance will help get him going, having caught just 9 passes for 67 yards heading into the day.  He’s a low-end starting tight end in all formats, but as we all know you can never tell who is going to have the big, breakout day for the position.
  • Donnie Avery had 5 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown.  Considering the state of the Rams offensive, that’s not too shabby.  Maybe Steven Jackson will get a little bit of help along the way?  It certainly didn’t come from Kyle Boller, who went 20-31 for 209 yards and an interception.  Marc Bulger was a perfect 7-7 for 88 yards and a touchdown.  Who do you think is going to get the start next week?

New York Giants 44, Oakland Raiders 7

  • The Oakland Raiders are really bad.  There is just no other way to say it and no way to sugar coat it.  This week it was Zack Miller who was the most productive, catching four passes for 69 yards.  He was also the only receiver to be targeted more than three times.  Considering they only threw the ball 13 times, that shouldn’t be a surprise.  At this point, avoid all Raiders players at all costs.
  • While it was undetermined if Eli Manning would be able to play, he did make the start but wasn’t needed for long.  He went 8-10 for 173 yards and 2 TD before being pulled from the game.  No reason to risk having him out there in what clearly was a romp.
  • Ahmad Bradshaw had a huge day, rushing the ball just 11 times yet gaining 110 yards and two touchdowns.  He added one reception for an additional 55 yards.  He clearly has emerged as an option in flex formats.

Philadelphia Eagles 33, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14

  • Kellen Winslow exploded to catch 9 passes for 102 yards and 2 TD.  It certainly helps that the Buccaneers went down big and tried to pass their way back into the game, with Josh Johnson throwing the ball 50 times in the game.  Antonio Bryant also had a decent game, catching five passes for 62 yards, as he tries to work his way back into fantasy relevance.  He has nine catches over the past two weeks and is potentially usable depending on your other options.
  • Donovan McNabb returned to the line-up with a bang, going 16-21 for 264 yards and 3 TD.  Additionally, he carried the ball twice for 30 yards, leading the team in rushing yards.
  • That last statement is telling about the Eagles running game.  Brian Westbrook had just 6 carries for 18 yards and a touchdown (plus 2 catches for 17 yards).  LeSean McCoy also carried the ball just 6 times, going for 14 yards (plus 2 catches for 15 yards).  Don’t panic, with the Raiders next on the schedule, but you clearly would have liked to have seen more production.

Carolina Panthers 20, Washington Redskins 17

  • Clinton Portis rushed for 57 yards and a touchdown while adding two catches for 17 yards and a touchdown.  While the rushing yards don’t blow you away, he clearly appears ready to produce despite the concerns of his health.  He rushed for 98 yards last week and has the Chiefs next on the schedule.  Keep him active in all formats.
  • Jake Delhomme went 16-25 for 181 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.  Well, at least it was only one pick this week, right?  In just four games he’s already been intercepted eight times while throwing just three touchdowns.  If you haven’t already given up hope, it’s just about time.

Cincinnati Bengals 17, Baltimore Ravens 14

  • Carson Palmer went 18-31 for 271 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.  He’s been seemingly improving week after week and certainly is a usable option in two quarterback leagues.  In single quarterback leagues, depending on his match-up, he also is potentially usable, though I wouldn’t call him a must start each and every week.
  • Big game for Cedric Benson, rushing for 120 yards and a touchdown, while also catching two passes for 16 yards.
  • Willis McGahee, who has been a huge surprise for those in leagues that require a FLEX, was virtually silent this week.  He got just one carry that went for -2 yards while catching one pass for four yards.  If he’s not going to get a share of the carries (Ray Rice had 14 carries for 69 yards), he is going to be an unusable option once again.

Atlanta Falcons 45, San Francisco 49ers 10

  • There were good games everywhere you looked for the Falcons.  Matt Ryan went 22-32 for 329 yards, 2 TD and 1 INT.  Michael Turner rushed for 97 yards and 3 TD.  Roddy White had 8 catches for 210 yards and 2 TD.  It was just a monster day all around for a team that completely torched the 49ers defense.
  • Vernon Davis continues to grow, catching 5 passes for 51 yards.  He now has five or more catches in three of the five games this season and certainly has emerged as a solid option for fantasy owners at a position where you never really know what to expect.
  • Glen Coffee rushed for 45 yards and a touchdown while adding four catches for 21 yards.  It was a good day, but one cut short due to injury.  Frank Gore can’t get back into the line-up soon enough if Coffee is going to be out for any length of time.

Denver Broncos 20, New England Patriots 17

  • Randy Moss had just one catch for 36 yards?  That is almost unbelievable, isn’t it?  While he was held to one catch in the final week of 2008, it hadn’t happened in a game he played prior to that since Week 10 of the 2006 season.  I’d expect big things from him next week against Tennessee.
  • There was an Eddie Royal sighting, as he went off for 10 catches and 90 yards.  Couple that with Brandon Marshall’s 8 catches for 64 yards and 2 TD and you can tell that it was a big day for Kyle Orton (35-48, 330 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT).  We all know the type of talent that Royal has, so hopefully you didn’t prematurely give up on him due to his slow start.  This game shows you just how good he could still be.

Arizona Cardinals 28, Houston Texans 21

  • Matt Schaub went 35-50 for 371 yards, 2 TD and 1 INT with Andre Johnson (8 catches, 101 yards, 2 TD) and Owen Daniels (8 catches, 94 yards) being his top receivers.
  • What is going on with Steve Slaton?  He had just 39 yards rushing, as well as 6 catches for 59 yards.  His best game this season is just 76 yards rushing and he’s only managed to score two touchdowns (both in Week 4).  It’s hardly the type of season many were hoping the sophomore to have.
  • The Cardinals only rushed the ball 16 times.  Why exactly did they take Beanie Wells in the first round if they have no intention of using him?
  • Larry Fitzgerald (5 catches, 79 yards, 2 TD), Larry Fitzgerald (7 catches, 81 yards) and Steve Breaston (4 catches, 66 yards) all contributed in the passing game.  It’s tough to imagine there being enough balls to go around every week, but if they continue to ignore the run maybe there will be.  If someone is going to get hurt, it’ll be Breaston, obviously.

Seattle Seahawks 41, Jacksonville Jaguars 0

  • Michael Sims-Walker was suspended for the game due to violating team rules, not that it would’ve mattered.  It was just a tough break for fantasy owners who had been depending on him.
  • Maurice Jones-Drew was silenced for just 34 yards on the ground (he added 5 catches for 23 yards).  That’s back-to-back terrible weeks, having rushed for just 48 yards over the past two games.  Now is not the time to give up on him, though, with the Rams on the schedule for next week.
  • Matt Hasselbeck returned to throw for 241 yards and 4 TD (two each for Nate Burleson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh).  It’s like he didn’t miss a beat.

Indianapolis Colts 31, Tennessee Titans 9

  • It was all about the pass for the Colts, with Joseph Addai rushing for 27 yards and Donald Brown rushing for 22 yards.  You’d expect to see more damage on the ground, but at least Addai added 10 catches for 53 yards while Brown had just two catches for 13 yards.
  • For the second straight week, Austin Collie had a big game.  He caught 8 passes for 97 yards and 2 TD, giving him 14 catches for 162 yards and 3 TD over the last two weeks.  It would appear that he has entrenched himself into the offense, at least until Anthony Gonzalez returns to the line-up.
  • One week after racking up seven catches for 105 yards, Kenny Britt regressed to just two catches for 18 yards.  He also has not yet found the end zone this season.  He’s someone to have on your bench, but the rookie has been awfully inconsistent and shouldn’t be counted on at this point.

What do you think was the biggest story coming out of yesterday’s games?  Who was the brightest star?  Who was the biggest disappointment?

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