Eyes of the Guru
Posted 11/23 by John Norton, Exclusive to Footballguys.com
The bad news is it's a short week but the good
news is we only have to wait until Thursday for the next game. This weeks EOTG
will be an abbreviated version due to the lack of time created by the shuffled
schedule. I'm going to hit on the important points that jump out at me.
Hands down the most significant IDP injury of the week was
Zach Thomas who may be lost for the season with a shoulder injury. If by some
chance Channing Crowder is available in your league he should undoubtedly be at
the top of the pickup list. Crowder is the future of the MLB position anyway and
now we will get a preview of things to come. The Dolphins will shuffle their
linebackers to compensate for the loss by moving Crowder inside until/unless
Thomas is able to return. Junior Seau was finally healthy enough to play in week
11 but left the stadium in a walking boot after the game. It's anticipated that
he will move back to WLB if he's able to play but chances are we may see Donnie
Spragan at WLB and Derrick Pope at SLB in week 12...
Green Bay Packers
Rookie FS Nick Collins hasn't set the world on fire by any
stretch but he has shown steady improvement as the season progresses. Entering
the campaign he was touted as the next Darren Sharper. In week 11 he showed
why with the best performance of his young career including his first interception.
Collins was drafted for his big play ability but like Sharper as a rookie, he's
started slowly and not yet reached a comfort level within the scheme. Don't
expect Collins to be a big factor on a consistent basis until next year but
you Dynasty owners should consider packing him away on your roster for the future.
He's going to be a good one... Aaron Kampman is a guy I was somewhat high on
entering the season but he's been even better than expected. In the preseason
EOTG I mentioned his quality tackle numbers but Kampman is also emerging as
a quality pass rusher. His 5.5 sacks to date are already a career high and he's
on pace for 54 solo tackles. The Packers are struggling but they have some talent
to build on and Kampman's emergence will allow them to turn their concentration
to other positions this off season.
After a few weeks using a 3-4 base defense the Vikings opened
in a 4-3 against Green Bay. At this point it's hard to say if the switch back is
permanent or if it was a match up situation but it's a safe bet that the Vikings
defensive linemen are pulling for it to be, especially rookie Erasmus James who
got the start and recorded his first career sack in the game. James has been a
non-factor until now but don't be surprised if we see a lot of him over the next
Looking for help at DB? You may want to consider safety
Stuart Schweigert. Since injuries made him a full time player 5 weeks ago
Schweigert has averaged better than 5 solo stops per game and has been very
consistent. He turned in a then season high 7-1-0 in week 9 and then beat that
high with his 8-1-0 and a pick in week 11. He may not be a long term answer for
dynasty owners but will be a contributor down the stretch, especially when you
consider the match ups with Miami, San Diego, Cleveland over the next 4 weeks
and then Denver in the all important week 16.
in a surprise move the Falcons started safety Ronnie Heard at
corner in place of regular starter Jason Webster in week 11. There is no report
out of Atlanta as to any reason for this unusual move. Webster was active and
did get on the field a few times but only on a very limited basis. One would
almost have to assume this was a disciplinary situation. Heard is no corner so
chances are his corner career will be a one week gig. The Falcons expect tackle
Chad Lavalais back in the starting lineup this week but they will likely
continue to be without Brady Smith for another game or two. Rookie Jordan
Babineaux has been holding down the fort but he isn't much of a pass rush threat
off the corner.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There was a strange name near the top of the Bucks box score
this week as injuries at safety forced the coaching staff to turn to unheralded
special teams contributor Kalvin Pearson at FS. Will Allen and Dexter Jackson
are both still gimpy and very questionable for this weeks game against Chicago.
Pearson is in line for his second career start... Greg Spires sucked it up and
played in week 11 despite a very sore shoulder. He suffered no setbacks and will
be a week healthier come week 12. Dewayne White will just have to keep waiting
for his turn.
St. Louis Rams
This is a good week to be looking for help at DB and if you
are Jerome Carter is a guy who should be on your short list. Adam Archuleta
spent last Sunday night in a hospital after suffering a serious concussion against
Arizona. He has already been ruled out for week 12 and could miss time well
beyond, especially with the Rams heading in the wrong direction in the standings.
Carter made some good impressions during the preseason but ultimately lost his
bid at a starting job due to mental (rookie) mistakes and the fact that he just
wasn't as physical as Archuleta. One thing that is stacked against him (or Archuleta
if he returns) from a fantasy perspective is the schedule which includes some
very soft match ups (Hou, Phi, Min, SF) down the stretch. On the other hand
the Rams aren't exactly strong themselves so these all have the potential to
be close games. Carter went 4-2-0 after replacing Archuleta against the weak
running game of the Cardinals.
Rookie corner Eric Green got his first call as a starter in
week 11 and the Rams wasted no time in going right after him. Green fared pretty
well overall and racked up a monster 15 tackles in the process. He'll never post
that kind of numbers against a more run oriented Jacksonville offense but you
can bet he will still be a target for their passing game. Owners in leagues that
require corners should be all over this kid as he is likely to be in the lineup
the rest of the way... Unpolished rookie Darryl Blackstock got the call at SLB
for the injured Karlos Dansby in week 11 and made a good showing while producing
a solid 4-0-1. No one doubts his ability to get after the passer but Blackstock
is very raw in nearly all other aspects of the position. Dansby is still gimpy
and considered day to day, meanwhile Lance Mitchell's sore knee has all but
ruined any shot he may have had at pushing for playing time. Blackstock will
likely make at least one more start as he continues to audition for next season.
San Francisco 49ers
Heading into last week the Niners were optimistic that the
might get Ahmed Plummer back soon. As it turns out Plummer isn't as close as
they had anticipated. Not only did he not play in week 11 but he not likely to
go in week 12 and there are rumblings that he might end up on IR... They haven't
mentioned IR yet for Bryant Young but with only 6 weeks to go in the season,
that has to be something they are considering. Young tore his MCL and some
cartilage against Seattle and is expected to miss about 6 weeks. Isaac Sopoaga
will likely take his place in the lineup though there is speculation Anthony
Adams will move from NT to Young's end position with Sopoaga playing in the
San Diego Chargers
OLB Steve Foley is supposedly close to making a return to the
field but the way second year pro Shaun Phillips is playing Foley may find his
starting job filled. Phillips now has 5 sacks on the season with 3 in the last
two games. He and rookie sensation Shawne Merriman have become quite a set of
bookends for the Chargers 3-4... Terrance Kiel returned to action in week 11
although you wouldn't know it by the box score. It's a safe bet that Washington
will generate more than the 11 rushing attempts that Buffalo did so there is no
reason to hesitate in returning him to your lineup.
It was a typo! Ray Lewis was inactive for week 11 however
he shows up in the box score with a special teams tackle. Lewis is however much
improved and there is a chance he could return to practice late this week and
attempt to play in week 12. Lewis is expected to be upgraded to questionable
on this weeks injury report. Coach Billick was reportedly encouraged by his
progress and plans to reevaluate the situation later in the week... The news
is not as optimistic for Ed Reed who is recovering slowly and expected to be
doubtful for week 12.
I talked about Trent Cole last week but after his huge 6-0-2
against the Giants he's worth bringing back up. Not only has Cole exploded onto
the scene but there are some reports that he has passed ND Kalu on the depth
chart and is now considered the starter. Unless Cole pulls a "Samkon" and turns
back into a pumpkin after two games, he could very well remain the starter even
into next year when Jerome McDougle is back in the mix. It doesn't matter if you
have short term need or are looking for the future, he's a must pickup if you
have the room. Kalu is expected to return this week so we will know very shortly
where this all stands, but don't wait to make the move or you will miss the
guy... The Eagles put Lito Sheppard on IR early this week which forces a shuffle
at corner. Roderick Hood will step up to play full time with Dexter Wynn or
recently signed Donald Strickland handling the nickel duties. Hood should be a
target for opposing offenses until/unless he proves himself right away. He could
have some value in leagues that use corners.
New York Giants
Michael Strahan had an MRI done on his sore neck this week.
The diagnosis is a pinched nerve. He is being treated this week and is expected
to play but this kind of injury can be nagging. You can't bench a Strahan if he
going to suit up, but you can sure be nervous about starting him.
New York Jets
FS Erik Coleman was benched during Sunday's loss but coach
Edwards has basically chalked it up to a bad day at the office. Oliver Celestin
replaced him and played pretty well but the job still belongs to Coleman. What
we should take from this is the fact that if either of the Jets safeties ever go
down, Celestin will make a solid replacement for both them and us.
Fragile Dan made another early exit in week 11 but this time
it wasn't the sore shoulder acting up. Morgan sprained his ankle and it looked
pretty bad. This time he is almost certain to miss some time. He'll be doubtful
on this weeks injury report. There are reports that Chris Draft will take his
place in the lineup but don't count on that unless Vinny Ciurciu is not healthy
enough to go yet. No matter who takes his place in the lineup, it will likely be
Will Witherspoon who takes his place in the box scores.
The numbers weren't nearly as gaudy in week 11 but don't
overlook the fact that Bradie James once again led the club in tackles. I talked
about him last week and I'll say it again, I just have a guy feeling about this
guy. He's a Parcells draft pick and a big physical presence on the inside which
is just what Parcells wants out of the position. I picked him up in a few
leagues last week and just can't keep myself from starting him against the
Broncos in some of them. So I'll either be stuffed and sitting on the couch with
a big content smile, or I'll be cussing him for making me look bad in the
national spotlight. Such is the life of a FF writer...
Those of us who are Teddy Lehman diehards will have to wait
another year for him to blossom. Lehman landed on IR early this week. Dynasty
owners will again be forced to make the decision, "do I let this guy take up
room on my roster like all those old clothes in my closet that don't fit any
more, or do I cut the ties?" It's a tough call but I for one will tuck him away
and give him one more chance. Heck I sat on Lamont Jordan for 5 years :)
Cincinnati Bengals vs Indianapolis Colts
I'll leave you with this observation to end this weeks
report. In this game there were 93 offensive plays run that resulted in a tackle
being made. Cincy ran 47 and Indy 46. Yet if you add up the box scores the
Bengals are credited with 37 solo tackles and the Colts with 40. This is the
kind of thing that drives me nuts. I sat at that game and counted at least 8
solo stops for Odell Thurman yet he was credited with only 4-3-0. I think I'll
send a letter to Mike Brown about this one and see if they need someone to fill
that scorer's job.
That does it for the week 12 short edition.
The cheat sheet will be back next week. Best of
luck to everyone this weekend and have a great Thanksgiving!