Another wild week is almost at a close, and to say that there were some surprises along the way is probably an understatement. The Jets blow a team out, but not on Favre's arm. The Vikings kept Bernard Berrian from doing much of anything without any help from the Packers. Running games weren't there, passing attacks were, and vice versa. Just another Sunday in this messed up season.
Let's run down the events of Sunday.
Big Ben as a Viable Fantasy Quarterback
We hit on this last week. The guy is 93% owned and being started in many cases. He's obviously hurt. Some of the throws from this past week looked awful. Additionally, he wasn't able to make any sort of throws in practice until Friday. Against a tough secondary this week, he struggled, but it doesn't seem to have mattered the opponent.
From here on out, our recommendation is that Roethlisberger is, at best, a matchup play. Unless you're in a 12-team league, there really isn't much reason to own him. Owners won't be satisfied plugging him into the lineup, and many would get better point totals if they looked to Chad Pennington, Tyler Thigpen, and even Seneca Wallace. We're ok with not owning Big Ben at all.
By the way, there is no reason for Roethlisberger to be throwing 42 times. Behind or not, Pittsburgh needs to run the ball MUCH more than that. They can't keep pressure off of him as it is, why look to compound it with that many attempts?
DeAngelo Williams is "The Man" in Carolina
You can say that this was a direct result of the injury to Jonathan Stewart, and you would be right. The fact remains that Williams has had two very solid weeks in a row. Even though this was Oakland's run defense, Williams still had to do the job. He did that and then some, torching the Raiders for over 100 yards and a touchdown.
Stewart has a solid long-term future, and we've seen glimpses of his ability. There's no doubt that there will be a part of John Fox that wants to get him as many touches as possible down the stretch to keep Williams fresh. Still, you need to do what puts your team in the best position to win. Right now, that's using Williams as the primary back and looking to Stewart to spell him for a series here and there.
Don't look to use Stewart in the near future, and Williams quickly becomes a number two back in deeper formats.
Kerry Collins' Arm Not Yet Dead
If you told Lovie Smith that he would hold the Titans to negative yards rushing in the first half and under 70 for the game, he'd have told you that means his Bears would win. Not so fast, Lovie. Kerry Collins had something to say about that.
You can only call this a metamorphosis (not in that Kafka way, either). The Titans have changed the last two weeks, moving away from being as run-heavy as they seemed early in the season. They've relied on Collins to lead their team, and he has done just that against the Colts and the Bears.
You might have been able to anticipate this against Chicago, seeing as they aren't the best against the pass, but you still would have to have assumed over 100 rushing yards in order for the Titans to come out with a win.
What this is doing is making the Titans much more dangerous, especially in the running game. As long as there is a threat that Collins can throw the ball, defenses won't be able to stack up on Johnson and White as much going forward.
Seriously, Tyler Thigpen and Mark Bradley??
I know, I don't get it either, yet here we are. Herm Edwards basically has the Chiefs running a spread offense. Not the most common offense being run in professional football, but the Chiefs are doing it well.
Spreading the field has opened things up for Tony Gonzalez (who had a fantastic day yesterday) and Dwayne Bowe (who should always be started). What we're seeing, though, is the emergence of another receiver. Bradley has come up with big plays every week since he signed with the Chiefs.
In deeper leagues, you have to look at Bradley as an add if only as a flex option. I'm upgrading him to an all-out own in those formats until further notice. We tell you to ride the hot hand in baseball, and this is no different.
As for Thigpen, I certainly have more trust in the way he is running the offense than I do many other quarterbacks currently being started across fantasy football. Thigpen would be a fine backup and has moved his way into, at the least, a matchup play for teams that need it.
The Rise of the Rookie Quarterback
Draft preparation dictates that staying away from rookie quarterbacks is the best way to go. Sure, there may be one every couple of years that is able to beat the odds and generate immediate success, but those don't come around very often. This season, though, we have two rookie signal-callers that are maturing before the eyes of fantasy owners. Keeper league members are already salivating.
Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan each threw two touchdown passes yesterday in performances that continue to build on previous success. Ryan has led the Falcons to a 6-3 record with the help of Michael Turner. In fact, Turner's presence has made Ryan's transition to the pro game that much easier. The running game in Atlanta is taking 50 percent of the burden, and Ryan hasn't been asked to go out and win a game with his arm.
He has, however, brought double-digit fantasy points to the table and the rejuvenation of Roddy White. Not too bad for a guy that is just learning the system.
Flacco has been trusted with more responsibility every week. The Ravens have been a run-first football team for a while, but with the changes in the backfield each week, it has allowed Flacco to do more and more in the offense. As he can be trusted to effectively manage a large part to the playbook, it makes the running game better and has given us Derrick Mason Redux.
Even better, we saw him spread the ball around that much more this week. Confidence can grow even against a bad defense.
Check back tomorrow for leftovers from Week 10 in fantasy football.