Things we learned in Week 9
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Running backs have been "missing in action" over the last few weeks, but even when 11 different guys earned the 100-yard bonus in Week 9, another quarterback stole the spotlight.
Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles did an excellent job of impersonating an idle Peyton Manning to make all other fantasy totals look minuscule by comparison.
Below are a few more things we observed on Sunday afternoon.
Kansas City at Buffalo
Taking a game off to let his ankle heal worked wonders for C.J. Spiller. The Bills running back still has a bit of a limp, but it looks like he can finally cut like he wants to. He finished with 116 rushing yards on 12 carries and 39 receiving yards on two catches.
Alex Smith finally threw Dwayne Bowe the ball, targeting him 12 times, but Bowe only had seven catches for 67 yards. He still doesn't have a 70-yard game this season and is averaging 11.2 yards per catch. He's simply been unable to create separation this season and Smith doesn't take many chances.
After a subpar week against backup Jason Campbell and the Browns in Week 8, the Chiefs' defense reaffirmed its fantasy dominance by taking two back to the house against the Jeff Tuel-led Bills. After the Week 10 bye however comes 9-0 Kansas City's toughest test of the season: at Denver.
Stevie Johnson is not going to be a reliable fantasy option as long as Tuel is under center. Johnson barely saw the football before Robert Woods suffered a knee injury in the third quarter. Johnson finished with five catches for 36 yards on seven targets. Thad Lewis had targeted him 24 times in the previous two games, completing 13 for 133 yards and a touchdown.
Atlanta at Carolina
Three more picks for Matt Ryan give him seven in the last two games. He's now thrown for just one touchdown in two straight games after producing two or more in the first six. Ryan will face another stiff test in Week 10 against the Seahawks.
Cam Newton needs more efforts like Sunday's to shed his boom-or-bust reputation. Coming off scoring 27 fantasy points in Week 8, Newton struggled, but found a way to get to 17 fantasy points against the Falcons. Fantasy owners need to see games like this become Newton's "floor" rather than performances like his six fantasy-point game in Week 5.
The return of Jonathan Stewart was as bad as we expected it to be for DeAngelo Williams. Williams had 13 carries for 42 yards, Stewart had nine for 43 and Mike Tolbert had six for 24 and a touchdown.
Minnesota at Dallas
Adrian Peterson had just 36 carries over the previous three games, getting no more than 13 in any one of them after carrying the ball at least 15 times in all 16 games last season. The Vikings rectified the issue by giving it to him 25 times in Week 9, and he responded with 140 yards and a touchdown while adding 37 receiving yards.
Greg Jennings continues to lead the Vikings in targets, but that doesn't mean he's anything more than a bye-week fill-in. His six catches for 56 yards on nine targets Sunday is about the best fantasy owners can hope for on a weekly basis.
Up until he caught a 34-yard pass on Dallas' final drive, Dez Bryant had as many penalty yards as receiving yards - 30. The mercurial receiver drew all of his penalty yards on one play when followed an offensive pass interference call by taking his helmet off on the field.
In his return from a knee sprain, DeMarco Murray had four carries ... which led the team.
Jason Witten's 10 targets Sunday tied a season high, and he recorded his second 100-yard game and fourth touchdown of the season. He's on pace for 33 fewer targets than last season, though his target total last season was boosted by a 22-target game in Week 8.
New Orleans at New York Jets
Drew Brees didn't seem to miss injured Marques Colston, throwing for more than 225 yards and two scores in the first half against a tough Jets defense. He finished with 382 yards, but he couldn't manufacture much second-half offense as his Saints lost to the Jets.
Jimmy Graham was much healthier this week which is bad news for opposing secondaries. He caught nine balls for 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The Saints running game, primarily Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram with Darren Sproles sidelined early on with a concussion, was non-existent with 12 carries for 42 yards.
Chris Ivory, a boom-or-bust running back, has put together two productive days in the last three games. A big first half against the Saints defense helped him finish with more than 20 fantasy points (18-139-1).
Tennessee at St. Louis
Shonn Greene made his presence felt catching a 28-yard pass and scoring from the 5-yard line in the first half. You would think that wouldn't be good news for Chris Johnson's fantasy owners, but you would be wrong! Johnson rushed 23 times for 150 yards and two second-half scores.
Titans quarterback Jake Locker can look very good or like today, very bad. Under 200 yards and two inceptions won't work for fantasy owners. it's his fourth game this season where he couldn't crack the pedestrian 200-yard passing mark.
Rams running back Zac Stacy is for real. Last week's 100-yard effort was not a fluke as he rushed a workhorse-like 27 times for 127 yards and two scores. Fantasy owners should start him on an every-game basis regardless of the opponent.
San Diego at Washington
Chargers receiver Eddie Royal caught a touchdown pass for the second consecutive week after not reaching the end zone in his previous four games.
But rookie Keenan Allen (8-128-1) is still the best wideout on San Diego's active roster. Sunday he was a huge asset down the stretch as the Chargers rallied to beat the Redskins.
Philip Rivers posted another 300-yard passing game, his fourth of the season, but now heads to a much tougher stretch with Denver, Miami, Kansas City and Cincinnati over the next four games.
Ryan Mathews' streak of 100-yard rushing days ended at two as he got just one second-half carry and seven for the game. He rushed for 34 yards.
Who is fullback Darrel Young and why is he stealing multiple touchdowns from fantasy starters Alfred Morris and Robert Griffin III? Morris had a good day, 121 yards rushing and one score, but Young scored three times from inside the 4-yard line. Last year they would all have gone to Morris.
Philadelphia at Oakland
The Raiders may not have left home without their American Express card, but apparently forgot to bring their pass defense. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles passed for 256 yards and four scores just 26 minutes into the game. Foles ended up throwing a record total of seven touchdown passes, more than doubling his season total.
Oh, Foles also threw for 406 yards making it the second-best passing performance of 2013. In one of my leagues it was worth 73 fantasy points.
Wideout Riley Cooper was the recipient of five catches for 139 yards and three scores to lead the receiving corps. Finally he's known for something other than a YouTube video.
DeSean Jackson amassed some late-game yardage to finish with 150 yards and a score worth 28 fantasy points.
Oakland's Rashad Jennings rushed for 102 yards and a score and likely no one noticed, because with Darren McFadden healthy he wouldn't have been started in any leagues.
Tampa Bay at Seattle
Mike James rumbled through the supposed tough Seahawks defense, taking the stress off fellow rookie Mike Glennon. James carried the ball 28 times for 158 yards. The Bucs running game looks solid for the future with Doug Martin and James.
Three touchdown passes for the Bucs and none of them went to Vincent Jackson, What were the odds?
Down 21-0, the Seahawks would normally have abandoned the running game, but they have become confident in their team and didn't panic. Marshawn Lynch managed to stay involved and finished with 125 yards rushing and 141 yards from scrimmage as the Seahawks rallied to tie it at 24 just after the two-minute warning and win it in overtime.
Russell Wilson also rebounded from a bad start to throw for 200 yards, two touchdown passes and ran one in for 27 fantasy points.
Baltimore at Cleveland
Joe Haden did it again, taking Torrey Smith out of the game. Without Smith running wild the Ravens couldn't manufacture much offense in the first half.
Joe Flacco hit Marlon Brown with two second-half scores as the Ravens fought back into contention. Note to self - never start the receiver being covered by Haden, but do start the guy opposite him.
The Ravens always talk about working Ray Rice and the running game more often, but its become just that - talk. Flacco led the team with 25 rushing yards.
In the last two weeks, Jason Campbell has thrown for five touchdowns without an interception. With the talented Browns receiving corps, he's become a low-end fantasy starter.
Pittsburgh at New England
Finally, the "real" Tom Brady showed up to play a football game. His first 300- yard game and first multi-touchdown game since Week 4. Welcome back Tom, we missed you.
It's Gronkowski (8-135-1) and Graham once again leading all tight ends. All others are simply pretenders.
Although likely not started in many leagues with Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman healthy, Aaron Dobson hooked up with Brady for five catches, 130 yards, two scores and 25 fantasy points.
Antonio Brown took advantage of cornerback Aqib Talib's absence with a nice second-quarter touchdown reception, beating Alfonzo Dennard.
Steelers receiver Jerricho Cotchery was owned in less than five percent of all fantasy leagues, but that number will take a huge jump after his 96-yard, three-touchdown performance in Week 9.
Brady and Ben Roethlisberger both threw for at least 400 yards, but Brady did it without an interception.
11/03 19:55:38 ET