The Dallas Cowboys saw their 2014 season flash before their eyes Monday night as quarterback Tony Romo lay flat on his back after being pummeled by Redskins linebacker Keenan Robinson.
The 34-year-old quarterback has had his back surgically repaired twice, landing him on the NFL injury updates list, and that’s exactly where he took the shot from Robinson. He crumpled to the turf as Cowboys fans and fantasy owners held their collective breaths.
Romo was taken in for X-Rays and when they came back negative, the coaching staff made a highly questionable decision and stuck him right back into the game. Romo was clearly in no shape to play and backup quarterback Brandon Weeden had already engineered 10 points for the struggling Dallas offense.
Romo went on to lose the game in overtime and was slow and sore when he left the stadium. An MRI will determine whether or not Romo suffered any additional damage, but the team is reporting that the beleaguered quarterback will limp away with just a muscle contusion. We will keep an eye on him in our fantasy injury updates column.
This will be a short week for Romo and the Boys who are scheduled to play at home against a Cardinals defense that shuts down the run and will force Romo to throw. Stay connected with Fantasy Focus for the most up-to-date injury updates.
NFL Fantasy Sleepers -
The Detroit Lions have to be the worst 6-2 team in the history of football, but 6-2 they are. The Lions don't have a long list of best fantasy football keepers and should really be a nice 4-4, but now they are likely headed to the playoffs. They tried desperately to lose this game…they got down quick, but not insurmountable (obviously). They totally abandoned the running game and instead tryied to overwork Theo Riddick (3 carries for 5 yards, 8 rec. for 74 yards and 1 TD on 12 targets)…which was a big mistake.
During the 2nd-half, the team remembered it had Joique Bell (14 carries for 39 yards, 2 rec. for 22 yards on 3 targets) on the roster, and recalled the Falcons have no run defense. Bell had some huge plays…not as much long/crazy gainers, as they were critical extra effort plays that changed the course of the game by extending drives.
This week, Riddick will be the one of the fantasy RB sleeper picks that Fantasy analysts slobber over. He’s a marginal talent…I mean marginal. He’s Fozzy Whittaker good. Feed any NFL-worthy RB 12 targets…and you might get eight catches too. Riddick cannot carry Reggie Bush’s (DNP) jock, but the controversy is on now…at least for a week. This is the NFL, so I guess I won’t be shocked if Riddick hones in on 3-4-5 targets a game, taking them from Bush. When Bush is back…this RB situation is probably a full-on mess.
Here is a list of Fantasy Injury Updates:
RB - Darren Sproles – Questionable
Eagles running back Darren Sproles has been struggling with a knee issue since he got injured two weeks ago in a Sunday night game against the Giants. He’s been limited in practice all week long and is certainly at less than 100%
RB - Shane Vereen – Starting
Shane Vereen has been sick and missed Friday’s practice, but is not expected to miss any time during the Patriots home matchup against the visiting Bears. He’s a solid play against a shaky Chicago defense.
RB - Trent Richardson – Questionable
No final decision has been made yet, but it looks like the Colts are going to hold Trent Richardson out of this afternoon’s game against the Steelers. Richardson is struggling with a hamstring issue and has been in our NFL injury updates a lot. If he’s held out of the game, Ahmad Bradshaw owners could see a nice boost in production against the subpar Steelers defense.
WR - Vincent Jackson – Starting
As the trade talks swirl around Bucs receiver Vincent Jackson, he’s been listed as questionable all week long with sore ribs. However, Jackson played through the injury during Week 6 and benefitted from extra time off with a bye week. He is a strong play at home against a patchy Vikings pass defense.
WR - A.J. Green – OUT
A.J. Green says he will be at less than hundred percent for the rest of the season because of a toe injury and will NOT suit up for the Bengals Week 8 contest against the visiting Ravens. Fantasy owners should not expect Green to return any time before Week 10.
WR - Reggie Wayne – OUT
Reggie Wayne will NOT be in the Colts Week 8 lineup on the road against the Steelers. He hurt his elbow during Week 7 against the Bengals and his numbers have been tumbling since a big game against the Titans during Week 4.
TE - Jimmy Graham - Starting
Jimmy Graham fantasy owners are left in a tough spot again as the banged up tight end will likely play tonight against the visiting Green Bay Packers. Graham was used only as a decoy last week against the Lions and dropped a big fat ZERO on fantasy owners. However, he is Jimmy Graham and you have no choice but to plug him into your lineup tonight and hope for the best.
Stay tuned to Fantasy Focus for the latest injury updates.
We are at the midway point for the fantasy season and your focus should be on the playoff push from now until the end of the season. As I mentioned last week, it is time to start loading up your team for the upcoming bye weeks and playoff run. If you can stash a player like Josh Gordon or perhaps a player that has been injured such as Ryan Mathews, you should look to see if you have space on your bench for such players. Think about a few years back when Vincent Jackson was suspended and traded. Or how about when Randall Cobb came off missing 10 games to post top-10 fantasy stats.
These are some moves to consider when looking down the road. Week 7 was by far the craziest week this season. I am sure many of you have lost a game or two because of backup players scoring all the points. I lost one game by 2 points because Alfred Blue vultured the touchdown. I would have been 6-1 in that league. Stepfan Taylor took not 1, but 2, touchdowns away from Andre Ellington. From Gavin Escobar to Cooper Helfet the list was pretty long this week of players not in your lineup scoring points.
The Golden Mug Award - Awarded to the fantasy players who came through for their team.
Russell Wilson- 313 passing yards 2 touchdowns, 7 carries for 106 yards and 1 touchdown. Wilson now has 3 riding touchdowns in 3 consecutive games while rushing for over 100 yards in 2 of the 3. Rushing yards can be unpredictable but he is averaging 54 rushing yards per game. The next 3 games against the Panthers, Raiders and Giants should provide a ton of rushing stats for Wilson along with racking up nice passing yards.
Demaryius Thomas- 8 receptions for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns. That makes 521 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns in the last 3 games. Thomas had just 141 yards and 1 score before the bye week but has dominated since.
Sammy Watkins- 9 receptions for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns. After just 27 yards last week, Watkins exploded in this game which included the game winner. He has a tough matchup this week before the bye.
The Urinal Cake Award - Awarded to the fantasy players who you would like to, well you know.
Alshon Jeffery- 2 receptions for 9 yards. Jeffery had a big game last week with 136 yards receiving but couldn't duplicate that effort this week.
Jordan Cameron- 1 reception for 5 yards. He was coming off a 100-yard game and facing the Jaguars but only had 1 catch on 6 targets. It is hard to know if you can trust Cameron on a week-to-week basis.
Justin Hunter- 1 reception for 6 yards. After two decent games, we expected Hunter to breakout but that never happened. Another change at quarterback this week might not help.
Good quarterback matchups this week:
Carson Palmer against the Eagles. Since returning to the lineup, Palmer is averaging 17.5 fantasy points by averaging 251 yards passing and 2 touchdowns in each game. He faces the Eagles who are coming off a bye week but are still allowing the 4th most fantasy points to quarterbacks with 19 per game. The Eagles are 23rd in the NFL allowing 256.5 passing yards per game with 13 touchdowns given up. I expect this to be a high scoring game so put Palmer down for 20+ fantasy points.
Brian Hoyer against the Raiders. Last week was an ugly game for a team facing the winless Jaguars. Maybe the Jaguars were due. This week, Hoyer faces another winless team in which he has to win or will face Johnny Football time for the rest of the season. The Raiders are giving up 16.3 fantasy points to quarterbacks, but are playing on the road where they were 1-7 last year and 0-2 this season. Hoyer has to put up good numbers or he'll be joining Kirk Cousins on the waiver wire next week.
QB Sleeper Pick of the Week:
Kyle Orton against the Jets. Orton doesn't excite the average Fantasy owner until you look at the numbers. He's averaging 19 fantasy points per game since taking over as the starter and will be facing the Jets who have given up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks with 20.9 points per game. If you’re in a QB bind, Orton is a player you should think about using.
1. QB Matt Ryan, ATL:
Atlanta’s Matt Ryan has managed only 3 touchdowns over the course of his last three games and things will not get any better with a visit from a punishing Lions pass defense. Ryan has been held in check by the Giants, Bears and Ravens and there's no reason to believe he can turn things around against Detroit's top rated defense. The Lions have been beating down quarterbacks all season long and the Falcons do NOT have an offensive line healthy enough to keep Ryan from getting his head handed to him. Get Ryan out of your lineups now, because the Falcons and Lions kick off at 9:30am EST on Sunday in jolly old England.
2. WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI:
Jeffery has a difficult match up ahead of him, as he will have to deal with the Patriots stout pass defense on Sunday. He will most likely be followed by elite cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, which should cause him to have a long day. As a unit, New England surrenders ONLY 208 passing yards per contest. Jeffery failed to make too much an impact last week as he was only able to put up a line of 2-9-0, while receiving 7 targets from quarterback Jay Cutler. Go with a better option if you can find one as Jeffery is likely to put up only middle of the pack WR3 numbers.
1. WR Torrey Smith, BAL:
Torrey Smith has started to produce at a much higher level as of late, and expect him to keep the ball rolling in Baltimore's Week 8 contest with Cincinnati. Over the last two weeks, Smith as gone off for 7-132-3, and he should have no trouble torching the Bengals again this week. The Bengals rank 27th in the league allowing 270.3 yards per game, leaving Torrey Smith and the rest of the receiving corps the opportunity to have a field day. Head Coach John Harbaugh stated that they were going to make an effort to get Smith more involved in the passing game about two and a half weeks ago, and that's what has happened. Smith can be used as a solid WR2 at Cincinnati.
2. RB Tre Mason, STL:
Running back Tre Mason has taken over the Rams backfield, and all signs point toward him getting the most touches from here on out. The rookie out of Auburn is coming off a solid 18-85-1 performance against an impressive Seahawks defense. This week, the Rams face off against a Chiefs defense that does very well against the pass, but struggles with the run. They rank 18th in giving up 117.7 rushing yards per game, and Mason should be able to put together a second straight impressive performance. Mason is a good fantasy football start option and can comfortably be used as an RB2 in standard fantasy formats.
For the latest fantasy sit start info, tune into ASL!
TE Fantasy Football News -
Martellus Bennett has a habit of starting off the season red hot in September and then cooling off in October and the remainder of the season. This year, he appears to be heading down the same road.
Bennett kicked off the 2014 season as a fantasy TE phenom with four touchdowns in the first three weeks, but hasn't been able to find the end zone since. Bennett hasn't eclipsed 60 yards in any game in the last three weeks and is now listed as questionable for Week 8 against the Patriots with a tight hamstring. Bennett didn't even show signs of an injury during Week 7, but fantasy owners should be cautious.
While Bennett's production has dropped, he's still a startable fantasy football TE when active. At 6'6 and 265 pounds, Bennett causes huge match-up problems, especially when defenses have to worry about covering Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. While Bennett looks like he will play in Week 8, it's a good time for fantasy owners to have a backup plan if Bennett's production continues to dip.
Owen Daniels and Charles Clay are two Tight Ends who are available in roughly 50% of leagues and need to be rostered before it's too late.
Owen Daniels has been on the receiving end of a lot of targets in a Ravens offense that has been on fire the last few weeks. Owens racked up six catches for 58 yards and a touchdown during Week 7 and is playing a Bengals defense that has struggled lately due in large part to injuries. Daniels is a player that can provide some nice TE insurance and may be worth several starts depending on his match-up throughout the season.
Charles Clay is coming off of his best game of the season. He caught four passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. Clay has had a really quiet season until last week, but Ryan Tannehill is playing his best football of his young career the Dolphins have a soft schedule moving forward.
Clay is no more than a bye-week filler right now, but he is a nice player to have as a security blanket for the remainder of the season.
Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups -
DL Aaron Donald, St. Louis (Currently #40 ranked DL for Week-8 on Fantasy Pros)
To me, and our computer scouting models, IDP Aaron Donald was arguably the single best player in 2014 NFL Draft (Ryan Shazier being the other consideration). The world will rarely see a DT prospect like Aaron Donald...one of the most athletically nimble, and gifted college DTs we've seen in years.
He has an incredible nose for the ball, and amazing ability to slip past blockers. In his first four games this season, Donald was not starting, but played sporadically. Through four games, he was averaging 26.5 defensive snaps per game...42.7% of the available defensive snaps. During that span, he averaged just 1.8 tackles per game.
During the past two weeks, Donald has been unleashed. He's played 54.5 defensive snaps in Weeks 6-7 (79.6% of the snaps...high for a rookie DT), leading the Rams D-Line in snaps in Week-6. With the increased time has come increased output: 4.5 tackles per game. He had 3.0 tackles-for-loss, and a sack last week (and sacks have been rare for the Rams this season). Donald is too good to play part time...and miraculously the Rams run-defense has gone from a sieve to stellar during the past two weeks with Donald leading the way. They shut down Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch. I'm not sure if it starts in Week-8, or 2018, but Donald is going to be one of the premier Defensive Tackles in the NFL...so says our computer models. Definitely one of the best fantasy pickups available.
LB Jeremiah George, Jacksonville (Currently listed as a NY Jet on Fantasy Pros, and definitely not in the top-50 for Week-8)
Now, this is a deep-sleeper IDP...
Originally drafted by the NY Jets in the 5th-round this season, LB Jeremiah George was eventually released to add WR Walt Powell (the single stupidest WR-related personnel decision by the Jets in 2014...not Percy Harvin). Our computer scouting models ‘liked’ George, but I ‘loved’ what I saw on tape in college and in the preseason. George was created to be a Middle Linebacker. He plays 150% at all times, and has an excellent ability to slice through traffic and blow up a RB or WR coming out of the backfield.
During 2013 with Iowa State, George was 1st in the Big-12 in total tackles and 10th in the nation with 133 tackles in 12 games (11.1 per game). Consider, George had just two tackles opening day 2013 against Northern Iowa…which means he averaged 11.9 tackles per game against his D1 schedule last college season.
The Jaguars stud ILB Paul Posluszny was lost for the season last week, and journeyman/backup LB J.T. Thomas is projected to start in place of Posluszny, and he's OK, but George is better (we feel). I assume George will be active this week, and if he gets in on some plays...there may be no turning back.
He's either a ‘watch list’ guy, or Dynasty deep-sleeper stash to see what unfolds.
CB Bradley Roby, Denver (Not currently in the top-50 DBs for Week-8 on Fantasy Pros)
We felt Bradley Roby would be the best pro of all the 2014 NFL Draft CB prospects, and so far we have been correct. Roby has been terrific since game-one for Denver. He's played a key role in stifling an aerial comeback attempt by the Colts...with Roby shutting down Reggie Wayne on many targets in the second half.
For Fantasy purposes, Roby has clearly out-produced, and outscored his big-name Denver DB teammates T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib. Roby is like a strong safety playing cornerback...he has elite speed along with a big-hitter mentality. He's had six or more tackles in a game three-times this season, Talib and Ward have done that just once so far in 2014.
Roby has also posted 1.0 PDs per game as well. I can't wait until he gets more experience! The Broncos often jump on opponents, and force them to the air to keep up...which is great for the Denver DBs for Fantasy, and so far Roby has capitalized the most. It should only get better from here.
-- R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics.com, and a football projections analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics.com. His group also provides player projections for Advanced Sports Logic’s football software "The Machine.”
Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups -
1. RB Denard Robinson, JAC:
Denard Robinson provided a major upgrade at tailback for the Jaguars this weekend over rookie tailback Storm Johnson. Robinson rushed for 127 yards and a score off of 22 carries. The former Michigan quarterback has successfully made the transition to halfback, and may have earned the starting spot in the Jacksonville rotation. Starting back Toby Gerhart sat out Week 7 with a foot injury, but he was outclassed by Robinson.
Robinson should continue to receive a decent amount of carries going forward, due to lack of competition at the position, and is worth an add in all standard leagues. However, he may struggle to get things going against Miami's 10th ranked rush defense (allowing 100.3 yards per game on the ground) this week, but he is still one of the better fantasy pickups for this week.
2. WR Doug Baldwin, SEA:
Baldwin proved to be QB Russell Wilson's favorite wideout, drawing 11 targets, and going off for 7-123-1. The departure of Percy Harvin left the door open for other WRs to see increased levels of production, and it seems that Baldwin may be the biggest benefactor. Most looks will come to both Baldwin and fellow WR Jermaine Kearse, but Baldwin should be the number one target until further notice. Baldwin is worth an add as a WR4 with major upside, and could pan out as a middle-of-the-pack WR2.
3. RB Tre Mason, STL:
Mason has emerged as the best running back available in St. Louis, and has taken over in recent weeks. The 3rd round rookie out of Auburn put up an impressive line of 18-85-1 against an elite Seahawks defense, while taking 27 out of 51 offensive snaps. During Week 7, Zac Stacy took only 1 snap and Benny Cunningham took 19. With Stacy out of the picture, and Cunningham's role diminishing, this is slowly but surely becoming Tre Mason's team. Look for Mason to get anywhere from 15-25 touches per game. He can be added and implemented into starting lineups starting as a high RB2 going forward.
4. RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN:
McKinnon has not been added in some leagues yet, and there is no reasonable explanation as to why. Once again, he had a solid performance, rushing 19 times for 103 yards. He was able to do this against the Bills number one ranked rush defense, racking up 57 yards after contact. McKinnon is the real deal, and has proven his ability to get the job done on a weekly basis. The rookie halfback has broken 100 yards twice in the last 4 weeks, and looks to be the Vikings solution to fill the void left by Adrian Peterson. He is locked in as a high RB2 in standard fantasy formats, with high value in keeper leagues.
RB Fantasy News -
The St. Louis Rams entered Sunday’s matchup against the Seahawks reeling. Just a week ago, the 49ers manhandled them on national television. The team was a disaster on both sides of the ball and their defense had a grand total of just one sack on the year.
So of course, that same Rams team came out and beat the defending champs this week.
And except for a few gutsy special teams calls, the two biggest reasons for the Rams win was their resurgent pass rush and rookie fantasy RB Tre Mason.
The former Auburn back ran for 85 yards and a score, providing great sleeper RB fantasy football value for any fantasy owner that took a chance on him earlier this year. However, the key question now, is should fantasy owners be rushing to pick him up?
Is the rookie ready to take the reins for the rest of the season?
The answer is yes, and here's why.
First, we need to look at who Mason is competing against to get touches week-to-week.
Benny Cunningham has provided some contribution in the passing game, his best effort coming this week with 46 yards and a touchdown. However, he only had two carries for three yards, and has yet to make a mark in that respect all season.
Zac Stacy? Forget about that guy. Once an intriguing fantasy prospect, Stacy is no more than an afterthought at this point. Against the Seahawks, he had a whopping zero carries. Not only is Mason more talented than Stacy, but the Rams already trust him with the bigger workload.
For the moment, Mason’s biggest competition for carries is Tavon Austin. And while versatile, Austin is not a running back.
Another reason fantasy owners should take a chance on Mason is his aforementioned talent. He may be a rookie, but Mason is the Rams most skilled back. He was a beast at Auburn, and was just as big of a part of their national championship game run as quarterback Nick Marshall. He runs low to the ground, can take a hit, and is deceptively fast. He ran a 4.5 40 yard dash at the combine.
Taking his competition and talent into account, we must also remember that his sample size is small. Mason only has two games’ worth of carries to show. However, there's no reason to believe he won’t keep getting chances to put up stats. Rams quarterback Austin Davis needs all the help he can get and Mason is their best option for building some type of running game.
The only caveat from the Seahawks game is that Mason will need to prove that he can hang onto the ball, as he had a critical fumble with under two minutes to go in the game. Lucky for him and the Rams, a review of which team recovered the fumble was inconclusive and the Rams were able to run out the clock.
The Rams are 2-4 and likely out of the playoff chase. However, they may have stolen Tre Mason in the third round of last year’s draft and wound up with a running back for the future. Do the same and pick him up if he’s available in your league.
Get the most up to the minute advice and RB news with ASL!
NFL player news -
After a grey outlook for a couple of key NFL fantasy players, Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and Saints all-start tight end Jimmy Graham look to be in play in for NFL Week 7.
Kelvin Benjamin: The NFL Network reports that Kelvin Benjamin has passed his concussion protocols and will be a green light against the Packers in an unusually warm and sunny Lambeau Field. The Packers secondary has not been able to slow down opposing receivers, and Benjamin could produce another banner day for fantasy football owners. Get him back into your lineups and watch the points roll in.
Jimmy Graham: The news isn’t quite so rosy for Jimmy Graham owners. Graham is expected to play, but will not start against on the road against the Lions. Expect him to be part of the Saints red zone packages. Fantasy owners have little choice but to plug him in and hope for the best. Unless you somehow snagged Jordan Reed off of the waiver wire, start Graham in a tough road matchup against the Lions.