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NFL Fantasy Help -- Week 12

eagle eye

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Darn the luck. My job has kept me so busy I haven't been able to keep up with the changes in NFL this week and there have been a couple of doozies.


Right off the bat Cleveland RB Ben Tate was cut by the Browns. After signing a free agent deal this past off season with the Browns it looked as though Tate had found a situation where he would be the No 1 guy after backing up Arian Foster since he was drafted by Houston in 2010. After watching Isaiah Crowell get the lion's share of touches last week he openly complained about how the Browns were NOT using him. He was part of a 3 back rotation that included Crowell and rookie Terence West. Instead of the bell cow he expected to be he was again a role player and it frustrated the heck out of him. Rather than have a disgruntled player to poison the locker room Cleveland waived him on Tuesday and the Vikings claimed him yesterday and he may have fallen into a situation where he'll start right away. Matt Asiata is dealing with a concussion and Jerick McKinnon has a back issue and both missed practice Wednesday. Today Tate made his first practice as a Viking and with Asiata again missing and McKinnon limited that left only Tate and 3rd stringer Joe Banyard as the only healthy RBs on the field.


Another Vikings guy to keep an eye on is 2nd year WR Charles Johnson. He made his semi-breakout game against Chicago last week recording 6 grabs for 87 yards. but he recorded his first NFL catch in Week 5 against the Green Bay Packers. The Packers actually drafted Johnson last year in the 7th round but injuries in the mini camp and training camp caused him to fall behind and eventually get cut because he was nursing an MCL sprain. Prior to a workout with the Browns then OC Norv Turner it was discovered that Johnson actually had a torn ACL with required a lot of rehab. The relationships and the impression he made on Vikings OC Norv Turner (see the connection here?) Johnson got another chance with Minnesota this season. Johnson may be worth a chance in keeper leagues. His value is more in the future than in the present but if you need a sleeper pick as flex option in this last week of bye weeks he could be an option in deeper leagues.


Another disgruntled RB that lost his job this week is LeGarrett Blount. Like Tate he didn't like the way he was being used in Pittsburgh but he expressed his displeasure by leaving the field early in the Steeler's win over Tennessee. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin evidently doesn't play those types of games and Blount was cut the next day. Blount wasn't out of work long because he was signed by the New England Patriots today. With Stevan Ridley out and Shane Vereen pretty much penciled in as a receiver out of the backfield he will be RB by committee of Blount and Jonas Gray.


Tonight's game involves the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders. There are several players who will be worth a definite play in this week's fantasy lineups as well as a couple of possible plays.


KC - Jamaal Charles is a definite and a Alex Smith is a possible. TE Travis Kelce is another play tonight.

Oakland - I don't see a play here. It's Thursday and the whole week is left and honestly, despite the fact this is a storied rivalry I can't see any reason to take a chance on anyone from Oakland. Maybe you could take a chance on Darren McFadden but unless you're desperate that's it.


About 20 minutes to game time so check your rosters, ice down some cold drinks and grab a snack or two. I may not be much of a game but what the hell, it's the NFL and it's the only game worth watching.

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As for last night's game between the Raiders and the Chiefs you've heard it time and again division games are just different. Not only in the NFC East where I ramble on about the Cowboys all the time but each and every division has it's rivalries. Da Raidas and Chiefs are one of those rivalries where record doesn't matter. I forgot that last night in my post. On paper a 0-10 team going up against a 7-3 team it's a no-brainer right. Aaaah! The buzzer sounds indicating a wrong answer. There are certain games where you can throw out records and just sit back and enjoy watching another chapter in the rivalry unfold. The Raiders have come close to winning a couple of times this season. The best chance they had was in a game against San Diego a few weeks ago where they really had the Bolts on the ropes but Phillip Rivers was able to pull out the win. (Another division game I might add.) But last night there was no last second heroics from Alex Smith. It was just a hard fought game that Oakland was able to pull out.


The biggest surprise of the game was the performance of RB Latavius Murray. The 2nd year back out of Central Florida made a huge impression on a national TV game---and he only played a half! He only had 4 carries! 2 for touchdowns!! He ran for 112 yds on those 4 carries before sustaining a concussion just before halftime. The majority of the yards came on a 90 yard breakout in which once he cleared the line of scrimmage there was only open field ahead and nobody on the Chiefs was nearly fast enough to catch him. The guy is a load at 6'3 and 225 lbs but he's also fast being clocked at 4.37 at his pro day at CFU in 2013. It's almost unfair. BTW the two rushing TDs he score were the first two the Chiefs had given up all season. He flashed a little something last week in a 13-6 loss to the Chargers, the second game this season Oakland had pushed the Bolts to the limit before losing. He had 4 carries for 43 yds to go along with 3 catches for 16 yds in that game. Before last night he never had more than 4 carries in a game (Week 11) and most of his damage came as a receiver. Including last night Murray has had a total of 14 carries, 8 of those in the past two weeks, and he had 8 receptions most coming when he didn't record a rush. It took the firing of former Raiders coach Dennis Allen and installing Tony Sparano as the interim HC for somebody to remember about Murray. Oakland drafted him in the sixth round of the 2013 draft despite not being invited to the NFL scouting combine. He did excel at his college pro day which brought him to the attention of the Raiders. His season was over by August last year as he needed arthroscopic surgery on his ankle which needed a second surgery last December. Murray had said he didn't feel right again until this past May. Murray languished on the bench this year but he was given a chance last week to show what he could do and this week going into the Chiefs game Sparano said he deserved more touches in the game. He was devastating to the Chiefs in a absolute downpour in Oakland last night until a helmet to helmet collision on his fourth carry sent him to the locker room at halftime where he was diagnosed with concussion symptoms. It's a shame that such a physically gifted athlete can't catch a break from the injury bug. Murray was given a chance because Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew have not been very good this season. Murray gave the Raiders a huge shot in the arm and the Raiders defense led by Charles Woodson, playing better than a 40 year old man should, and rookie Khalil Mack. This whole paragraph is my reason to recommend picking up Murray if you can. Especially in keeper leagues because he is looking like the guy who will be The Man in Oakland from here on out---IF he can stay healthy.


Interesting stats:

> Matt Stafford is 0-15 on the road against teams finishing with winning records. This week the Lions travel to face the New England Patriots who......

> ......have scored 40 or more points the last 3 games. My money is on New England.

> The Baltimore Ravens is the only team in the NFL Drew Brees has yet to beat. He is 0-3 against the Ravens. He is looking to break a tie he has with Tom Brady and Kerry Collins who all have defeated 31 teams in the NFL out of 32. Brady is never going to beat the 32nd team unless the Patriots release him and he beats the Pats with another team. Collins failed to beat the Dolphins while playing with any of the six teams he played for in the NFL. He is currently retired. If Brees can lead his Saints over the Ravens he will join Brett Favre and Peyton Manning as the only QBs to beat all 32 teams in the NFL.

> Josh Gordon returns after his suspension this week. In his first two seasons Gordon ranks 3rd in receiving yards in the NFL since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970 behind only Jerry Rice and Randy Moss. It's worth noting that Gordon missed two games last year and still ended up with 1648 yards receiving. This earned him first team All Pro honors along with Calvin Johnson. Think Brian Hoyer is glad to get this guy back? Now, if he can only stay OUT of trouble.

> The Bills have not score a TD in 21 straight drives since their last TD in the first quarter of the Week 10 game against the Chiefs. The longest streak of consecutive drives in 2014 without a TD belongs to Cleveland with 26. An early winter blizzard that dropped 70 inches of snow on the Buffalo area has caused the game this week to be moved from Buffalo to Detroit and also moved from Sunday afternoon to Monday night. So, there will be 2 MNF games on TV this week. Actually, the only place I have found for sure televising the game will be on local CBS affiliates in Buffalo and New York area markets. This was the only thing that could be done so the game could take place. The devastating snow storm has brought the whole Buffalo area to a screeching halt and the Bills have been unable to practice at all this week. Moving the game to Detroit and Ford Field and moving the game to Monday night will allow the Bills 3 days of practice which is about normal for an NFL week. The Bills needed to be able to practice to have a chance in the game and the fact that at 5-5 they are still alive for a playoff spot. The Bills face the Jets in an important division game.

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The Washington Redskins QB situation is a bit of joke. Head coach Jay Gruden had what could have been considered at the time of his hiring an embarrassment of riches with RGIII coming back from injury and Kirk Cousins the primary backup. Somewhere this past spring Washington acquired Colt McCoy to be the 'Skins #3 man. The Redskins started off the season with RGIII but he was injured (again) and Kirk Cousins came in and promptly stunk up the join. He was replaced in the second half of the game with Tennessee where McCoy led them to a victory. The next week, Week 8, McCoy led his team to a very unlikely win over the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football. In Week 9 RGIII returned and the Redskins lost in Minnesota to the Vikings. Week 10 Washington was on their bye week and coming off their bye last week Washington was embarrassed by Tampa Bay in a game where RGIII played like he didn't have a clue. In the post game presser Gruden slammed RGIII citing several fundamental flaws in his game. It is felt that Gruden would like to replace RGIII with Colt McCoy who is more fundamentally sound but pressure to make RGIII work since he was the 2nd pick in the NFL draft a couple of years ago is keeping Gruden from making the move to McCoy. I have said in posts that I thought McCoy got a raw deal in Cleveland and it didn't look like he would get another chance to start but circumstances gave McCoy another chance and he made the most of it. He won where nobody else seemed to be able to. The Redskins are 3-7 on the season and McCoy has been the QB in 2 of those wins. There are even those in the Redskins locker room who are said to be in support of McCoy. If RGIII struggles again this week against the 49ers, a team McCoy was on last season, then Gruden may have all the reason he needs to put McCoy in the game. Then again Daniel Snyder may have his own view of the situation. It bears watching especially if you're a McCoy fan (like me).


Okay, I think it's very possible that LeGarrett Blount will be the RB of the week in New England this week? Why? Because last week's hero, Jonas Gray, overslept and missed practice on Friday. I'm just saying.


Former Eagle and now former Carolina Panther Jason Avant has been signed by the Kansas City Chiefs. Avant, who left Philly for a free agent deal in Carolina was cut earlier this week by the Panthers because Avant just wasn't working out. Enter KC. After an unexpected loss to Oakland on Thursday and being receiver challenged anyway because of injuries the Chiefs reunited Avant with his former Philly coach Andy Reid. It shouldn't take long to acclimate himself to the Chiefs offense since it is Reid's offense, one he is quite familiar with. I wouldn't expect a huge fantasy impact in Week 13 but he should be a good fit in KC going forward.


Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald has been labelled as "iffy" for Sunday's game against Seattle. Fitz has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 MCL sprain and has been limited in practice this week.

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Need a WR? You may try Cecil Shorts. He had 119 yards receiving last week and that was before Allan Robinson was injured and done for the season. Blake Bortles is learning on the job and he's getting better by the week. So I guess if you need a QB for this final bye week Bortles may be available and may be a nice option. Jax is playing Indianapolis looking to bounce back from a butt whippin' by New England last week so playing either player could carry some risk. Duh!


A better option at WR is probably New Orleans' Kenny Stills. Brandon Cooks suffered a broken thumb last week so if he's available Stills will be a hot pickup this week.


Tre Mason is finally paying real dividends for fantasy owners as well as the St Louis Rams. Last week he had 29 carries and gained 113 yards not to mention a few pass receptions to please PPR league guys. Mason isn't available in most leagues but if he is get him and if you have him play him. The Rams travel to San Diego and the Chargers have been very giving to running backs lately. With Shaun Hill at QB the Rams have a guy who isn't spectacular but he isn't as likely to turn the ball over either which means the Rams' drives will be longer giving Mason more opportunities to touch the ball. With the Rams defense playing like they were expected to at the beginning of the season they seem to be trying to climb back into the playoff race. It may be too late for that but the Rams can certainly play spoiler to a few teams along the way.


Will it be Jonas Gray or LeGarrett Blount toting the rock for the Patriots this week? It looks like a prime game for the running game but the Lions defense is a little more stout than Indianapolis' defense. That really doesn't mean a thing. If the Pats want to run the rock, they are going to run the rock. Or, it could be the Pats want to screw with the Lions and throw the ball all over Foxborough. Patriot RBs are iffy plays as it is and now with Gray semi-in the doghouse for missing Friday's practice Blount could be Gray's punishment. Sheesh. Play Brady, Gronk and LaFell and you won't be unhappy.


Finally, Fantasy Playoff time is right around the corner. You can protect yourself by picking up handcuffs to your primary running backs. Some will be gone already like Alfred Blue because Arian Foster is nursing an injured groin. But, if you have DeMarco Murray you'd do well to pick up Joseph Randle. If you have Eddie Lacy James Starks would be your man. Robert Turbin is Marshawn Lynch's understudy and the list goes on. It's a way to protect yourself down the stretch.

Also, pick up a reliable QB as a backup. They are out there you just have to know where to look and don't write off an unusual play like I had last week. I picked up Tampa Bay QB Josh McCown and he scored 28 point for me. I lost the game but it wasn't because of my QB. I lost because my opponent had Mike Evans, Jamaal Charles and Emmanuel Sanders who all blew up and buried my team despite the fact that my roster was rock solid. As they say, "sh^t happens".

One more thing, pick up a defense/ST or two and play matchups to your advantage. You can dump players who haven't been contributing and who you won't play anyway.

Good luck this week, unless you're playing me and I'll see you in the playoffs.

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Last minute advice on the way.


Indianapolis lost Ahmad Bradshaw for the rest of the season last week. Enter Dan Herron. The 2nd year player from THE Ohio State may not start this week but he will be by the time the fantasy playoffs start. He certainly has more upside than Trent Richardson. The caveat here is the Colts play Jacksonville, a game that could be a good one for Richardson to play well. But, Richardson keeps losing his job to different RBs and Herron really has the most upside of the RBs left on the Colts roster.


Cleveland gets Josh Gordon back and I expect him to make an impact even though he may only play 25-30 snaps. Cleveland will be without TE Jordan Cameron due to a concussion.


Atlanta will have Julio Jones on the field but he's recovering from an illness and Joe Haden will likely be all over him. I think Roddy White is a better play.


In the Philly game WR Jordan Mathews is a high value play. I suppose it's because Marc Sanchez threw to him a lot in practice with 2nd teamers. They have developed a chemistry and he's right up there with Jeremy Maclin as a fantasy option. Sanchez is an iffy play because he's had one good game and one not-so-good game. No consistency developed yet.


Reggie Bush will miss yet another game so Theo Riddick is a possible flex option today.


Matt Asiata is out vs the Packers today. Ben Tate is likely the man the Vikings lean on today in Minnesota.


Surprisingly enough Giovanni Bernard is back on the active roster but he may be splitting carries with Jeremy Hill. Both look like flex options today.


In today's Bears-Bucs game Doug Martin is active. Okay that's great but what will the breakdown of touches be. I'm not sure you can count on either Martin or Charles Sims. It may be a week to avoid both.


For Broncos fans and Emmanuel Sanders fantasy owners the news that Sanders will be back in the lineup.


Good luck and we'll talk later!

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This doesn't exactly have much to do with Week 12 but the Kansas City Chief announced today that their Pro Bowl safety, Eric Berry, was found to have a growth on his chest and it is believed to be lymphoma. Berry will be seeing a lymphoma specialist as soon as possible and the Chiefs have placed Berry on the NFI (Non-Football Injury) list thereby ending his season.


Another man down in the NFL is Houston QB Ryan Mallett who, it was announced today, has a torn pectoral muscle that he suffered in the pre-game warmups before the Cincinnati game yesterday. Mallett opted to play despite the pain of his injury because he was finally getting his chance to start after 4 years in the NFL. It certainly explains why he didn't play very well. You can appreciate his toughness but hindsight tells us he probably shouldn't have played. It is thought that Ryan Fitzpatrick will go back in as the starting QB for the Texans going forward.


Before the season started the Broncos kicker Matt Prater was suspended for violating the league's policy on substance abuse. As a result the Broncos decided to cut ties with Prater despite the fact that Prater had been clutch for them for years. The Broncos went with rookie kicker Brandon McManus. The last couple of weeks McManus has missed some field goals. Beginning today the Broncos began working out kickers. Today AJ Feeley worked out for Denver and they are also considering a workout for Connor Barth. Either way, McManus unreliability may cost him his job as the Broncos may opt for a more reliable veteran kicker.

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Tonight, if you have anyone like Sammy Watkins or Kyle Orton or Michael Vick and are interested in watching the game I know that if you have Directv the game will be televised on NFL Sunday Ticket channel 706 at 6 o'clock.


The regular MNF game will be televised as usual on ESPN beginning about 7:15.

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