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Grogan Verdict Week 5: Dan's Judgement
 
The Grogan Verdict by Dan Grogan (10/3/12)

Week 5


The purpose of this report is to shed additional light and clarification on players who fall into the "gray area" of fantasy line-up decision making. Not all players make it into the report each week.


QUARTERBACKS

Arizona's Kevin Kolb has tossed 5 TD passes in the last two games putting him in the "interesting" category when it comes to fantasy starters. However, this week's matchup with the Rams doesn't look easy. St. Louis has pitched shutouts the last two weeks (Jay Cutler and Russell Williams) but they were even more impressive against Robert Griffin III (1 TD) and Matthew Stafford (1 TD). Kolb had a notable 324 yards last week against the Dolphins, but he was forced to throw more (48 times) playing from behind. I question that opportunity this week...I know Arizona's pass defense was blistered by Ryan Tannehill last week (431 yards) and despite looking for a reason, all I can come up with is that the Cardinals simply let down. I'm expecting the defense that shut out Michael Vick and limited Tom Brady to a single score shows up for Sam Bradford in Week 5... The Seahawks don't give up much via the air and they can slow the pace of a game down with their running game. I think this ups the risk for Cam Newton this week and I doubt he'll post big passing yard numbers. The bottom line is that I think he'll need to deliver a rushing TD to have some effectiveness. Regarding whether or not Newton will run for a score, I saw a stat about this matchup that got my wheels turning. It said that it has been 18 games since Seattle has surrendered a rushing TD to a QB. That piqued my curiosity and I did some digging. Yes, that statistic is true, however, it wasn't like the Seahawks faced a QB running threat each week for the last 18 weeks! In fact, in the last 15 games of 2011 the QBs that played Seattle had a total of 8 rushing TDs for the season. To clarify, that's 8 scores among 15 guys over umpteen games! The only quarterback Seattle faced in 2011 that posed a running threat was Vince Young and, it's true, he didn't score. I think this stat is meaningless. I don't know if Newton will run one in this week, but if he doesn't, I don't think it's attributable to the fact that Seattle's D always shuts down running QBs. Newton has run for a score in each of the last three weeks just in case you have him...My forecast for the over/under on TD passes for Ryan Fitzpatrick this week is 1.5. I know he has riddled defenses for 12 aerial scores already, but he faces San Francisco which has yielded just 5 TD tosses in 4 games...It looks like Alex Smith has regressed the last two weeks. After throwing 2 TD passes in each of the first two games, Smith has just one in his last two. If you're still interested, however, he has a favorable matchup with the Bills this week. Buffalo has given up 9 TD passes so far...I'm not expecting another 4-TD game from Ben Roethlisberger this week, but two scores and 250-275 seems doable against the Eagles. Philly has surrendered just 5 aerial scores through four games...Jacksonville's defense may have yielded just 4 aerial scores, but they've given up 10 TDs in total. That's on the high side giving Jay Cutler another shot at a 2-score game this week...


RUNNING BACKS

After four games with no TDs and little yardage value, Steven Jackson is making it awfully difficult for fantasy owners to stick with him. His O-line hasn't been doing him any favors. He has had a couple of tough matchups (Seattle, Detroit) and, in all fairness, was injured against the Redskins after a promising start (9 rushes for 58 yards). But Arizona will be a tough matchup this week. The Cards have done an admirable job against Marshawn Lynch (85 yards; 4.0 yards per rush) and Reggie Bush (67; 3.9)...We all got a bit excited for Ryan Williams after he sprung for 83 yards (13 carries) against the Eagles in Week 3. However, following a dismal 26-yard effort (13 rushes) against Miami last game, can he be trusted? He faces a St. Louis team in Week 5 that looks a bit soft against the run. Although Lynch has been the only back to crack the 100-yard mark against them, Kevin Smith (4.8 yards per rush), Alfred Morris (5.6) and Lynch (5.9) have all run well in their matchups with the Rams. In addition, St. Louis has yielded 6 rushing scores in four games...Tampa Bay is off this week, but you might want to be wary of Doug Martin when they return. The Bucs' running game has flat lined since week one and prior to last week's game there were rumblings about a change. Martin saw just 8 carries against Washington in Week 4 while LaGarrette Blount got 6. Not earth-shattering numbers but that was a lot closer to sharing than we saw the first three games...I'm not overly sold on Michael Turner this week. I know he's coming off a 103-yard game and a TD catch (the first in his career) last week, but Washington's run defense has looked good against the Saints (32 yards), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (38) and Doug Martin (33). While the Skins have been beaten like a drum through the air (11 TDs), they've yielded just 2 rushing scores...The fact that Carolina's backs (DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart) generally don't see big workloads (the most carries by either one in a game so far has been 14) and that they're facing a stingy Seattle D this week makes both risky starts...The defensive game plan for beating the Seahawks should be simple: stop Marshawn Lynch and make Russell Wilson beat you. However, I still wouldn't bet against Lynch this week versus Carolina. The Panthers haven't stopped any runner thus far giving up 100+ yards to Michael Turner, Andre Brown, and Pierre Thomas. Doug Martin (95) just missed joining this group...Besides the dilemma of dealing with an RBBC with Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller, fantasy owners also have to factor in a San Francisco run D that has stuffed every back they've faced so far. Opposing runners are averaging just 3.3 yards per rush against the Niners. One more when considering Jackson or Spiller. The Bills suffered two key injuries to their O-line last game and may be without their starting LT and RG...Rashard Mendenhall is expected to return to the field this week against the Eagles, but how much playing time he gets is anyone's guess. Philly's run D has been up and down. Giving up 99 yards to Ray Rice and 83 to Reggie Bush, but holding Trent Richardson to 39 and the Giants duo of Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown to 52. My guess is that Mendy will see 14-16 carries... Maurice Jones-Drew's best fantasy game so far was that 1-TD, 177-yard outing versus Indianapolis. It came in Jacksonville's only victory too when the Jags were able to give MJD 28 carries. He's averaging about 15 rushes in the Jaguars' other three games - all losses. Another interesting fact regarding MJD is that he has Jacksonville's only rushing TD and it came on a 59-yard run. The Jags have three scores of 5 yards or less and they've all been through the air...If the Bears split the carries as evenly as they did last game with Matt Forte (13) and Michael Bush (10), it might be difficult to start either one...I'm not ready to jump on the Chris Johnson bandwagon yet even though he ran for 141 yards last week (see the Déjà vu story below). He also faces a pretty good Minnesota run D that's yielding fewer than 3.5 yards per rush and has allowed just one rushing score...Adrian Peterson had his first 100+ yard game of the season against Detroit last week (102 yards) and I like his chances of extending the streak in Week 5. The Titans have given up at least 140 yards rushing to New England, San Diego and Detroit.


WIDE RECEIVERS

Cards' WR Andre Roberts had a career day with 2 TDs and 118 yards last week and I wouldn't overlook it. He has now scored in three of the first four games...Although Larry Fitzgerald's stats have been pedestrian so far. Don't give up on him. He has been targeted 40 times (24 in the last two games)...Speaking of targets. The Rams' Danny Amendola has been targeted 44 times in four games and is at minimum a solid WR3/flex play...Just in case the Rams' Steve Smith is on your team, you might want to dump him. Smith was inactive last week as St. Louis is going with a younger receiving corps...A hand injury kept Julio Jones from being anything more than just a decoy in last Sunday's game with Carolina (1 catch). He still saw 8 targets, but that's not going to appease fantasy owners. If he's better, he and Roddy White look to have a great opportunity against a Washington D that has given up 3 aerial TDs in three different games and have seen 5 WRs top 100 yards against them...Can you afford to sit Carolina's Steve Smith? He still hasn't scored a TD and has an unfavorable matchup with the Seahawks this week. Seattle has big physical CBs and so far they've manhandled Larry Fitzgerald (4 catches, 63 yards), Miles Austin (4, 63), Greg Jennings (6, 35) and Jordy Nelson (3, 17). Impressive!...With just 1 catch in his last two games, Carolina's Brandon LaFell doesn't instill much fantasy confidence. Making matters worse is a tough matchup with Seattle in Week 5...I can't see playing any of Seattle's receivers yet. Seattle's offense is built around the running of Marshawn Lynch. QB Russell Wilson hasn't put up fantasy-worthy numbers. He has just one multi-TD game and his best yardage outing has been 160...Buffalo's Stevie Johnson will see better matchups than he has this week (San Fran) and I think he's better suited as a WR3/flex consideration. WRs have accounted for just one of the five aerial scores allowed by the Niners... Niners' WRs have not scored a TD in any of the last three games. Michael Crabtree might be the only one with fantasy consideration (WR3), but even he's risky. Crabtree has been averaging 8 targets per game, but that's not an overwhelming number...Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown face a Philadelphia defense that has allowed three WRs to top 100 yards in the last two games (Larry Fitzgerald, Victor Cruz and Domenik Hixon)...I don't know if Jeremy Maclin can be trusted as a fantasy starter. He appears to be over the hip injury, but caught just one pass last game (3 targets). He was in on 64 of the Eagles' 69 offensive plays too... Jacksonville's Laurent Robinson suffered his second concussion in as many weeks and that might be enough to hold him out against Chicago...Kenny Britt sat out last week's game with an ankle problem and he's too risky to start him until he shows he's 100%...Jerome Simpson's Viking debut wasn't too bad last week (4 receptions, 50 yards) and he's worth picking up particularly if you're in need at WR. He won't usurp Percy Harvin's go-to receiver role, but Simpson is Minnesota's deep threat...Speaking of Harvin; his sub-par game against the Lions last week (3 rec., 22 yards) was disappointing but not a reason to question him. Minnesota's passing game never got on track and the offense went into conservative mode after jumping to a lead. Tennessee, the Vikings' opponent in Week 5, has given up 10 TD passes. But keep in mind, they've faced Brady, Rivers, Stafford and Schaub in the first four games... Santonio Holmes is done for the season. He suffered what is now being described as a Lisfranc injury which is definitely a season-ender. The Jets have signed ex-Jaguar Jason Hill who's basically a fantasy unknown. New York's passing game will now center on the youngsters Stephan Hill and Jeremy Kerley.


TIGHT ENDS

Playing with a prolific TD producer like Matt Ryan (11 TD passes) and having caught at least five passes in every game so far, Tony Gonzalez makes it tough to leave him out of a starting fantasy lineup... Greg Olsen really falls into the gray area this week: Difficult matchup with Seattle who has allowed just 3 TD passes in four games and I doubt this matchup will be an aerial war. On the flip side though, I like the fact that he has caught at least 6 passes in three of his four games and has been targeted 21 times in the past two weeks. I think he's an "OK" start, but I'm not expecting huge numbers... Provided Buffalo's Scott Chandler can play despite suffering what may have been a concussion last week, I like his upside in Week 5 despite a tough matchup with San Francisco. He has been on the end of five of Ryan Fitzpatrick's 12 TD passes. While I don't think we'll see a huge yardage game from him, Chandler has a favorable stat in that the 49ers have given up 4 TD catches to tight ends...Heath Miller doesn't rack up many yards, but you can't argue with his scoring. He has 4 TD catches in three games...You wonder if the Vikings Kyle Rudolph is salivating this week. He faces Tennessee which has allowed 7 tight end TDs in four games. Covering the tight end position has been a challenge for the Titans. New England's Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez caught 12 passes against them, San Diego's Dante Rosario and Randy McMichael had 8 (and Antonio Gates didn't play), Detroit's Brandon Pettigrew also grabbed 8 passes and Houston's Daniels and Casey combined for 11...


POSSIBLE FREE AGENTS I'M EYEING

Jackie Battle/RB/SD - Battle started ahead of the fumble-prone Ryan Mathews in Week 4 and popped for a couple of scores.

Joique Bell/RB/DET - Has only carried the ball 13 times, but has 12 receptions for 175 yards in the last three weeks.

Matt Hasselbeck/QB/TEN - Could provide you some QB help if you're in need. Starter Jake Locker (shoulder) could be out a while.

Brian Hartline/WR/MIA - 12 catches and 253 yards will get you attention, but it will also attractive every other fantasy owner.

Andre Roberts/WR/ARZ - Has quietly put up 4 TDs.

Brandon Bolden/RB/NE - Last week's 1 TD and 137 yards had to impress coach Belichick.

Scott Chandler/TE/BUF - All he has done is score in three of the first four games.

With Robert Meachem nearly invisible the first month of the season, keep Vincent Brown's name in mind. Brown has been out with a broken foot since late in the preseason, but he might be ready to return by Week 8. I don't think you need to grab him now, but you might want to start considering it soon (only if you have WR needs) before the word gets out into the mainstream. 


WEEK 4 WHIFFS

Brandon LaFell/WR/CAR - Three targets; no catches.

Kevin Smith/RB/DET - For the second consecutive week Smith failed to register a single carry.

Robert Meachem/WR/SD - The "bust" label is firmly affixed. Two targets, no receptions.

Dennis Pitta/TE/BAL - After a solid fantasy start, Pitta was shut out by the Browns.

Randy Moss/WR/SF - Forgotten on Sunday. Just one target.


GO FIGURE

Tampa Bay gave up more rushing yards (160) to Washington last Sunday than they did total in the first three weeks (142) against Carolina, Dallas and the New York Giants...If there was a "Go Figure" award, I'd have to split it three ways for Week 4. The first recipient is Miami's Brian Hartline. How does he catch 12 passes for 253 yards and a score against Arizona? The second tri-winner is Dolphin QB Ryan Tannehill. 431 yards passing after not posting more than 219 in the first three games??? Finally, the Cardinals defense has to share this accolade. Tom Brady's 316-yard game against them in Week 2 wasn't too surprising. The Cards harassed Michael Vick into a 17 for 37 passing day with just 217 yards in Week 3. But Tannehill looked like Dan Marino last week!


DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN?

There were two performances from Week 4 that got me saying to myself, "Have I seen this before?"  Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's four TD passes against the Patriots on Sunday give him 12 aerial scores in the first four weeks of the season. Last year he was on a similar pace with 9 aerial scores in the first three games. However, in 2011 he went on to throw just 15 TD passes over the next 12 games.

In a similar circumstance, until last Sunday Tennessee RB Chris Johnson had been on a pace that was even worse than last year. Through the first three games of this season Johnson ran for all of 45 yards on 33 carries. A microscopic 1.4 yards per carry average. But that average will shoot up following his 141-yard game (25 rushes) against the Texans on Sunday.

These numbers are eerily similar to last season when he had 98 yards on 46 attempts (2.1 ypr) through the first four games. Then Johnson had what appeared to be his "breakout game" when he ran for 101 yards in Week 4. However, he struggled over the next four weeks failing to post more than 64 yards in any week.

CJ and Fitzpatrick owners certainly hope this déjà vu thing doesn't continue!


@ RISK

Doug Martin/RB/TB
- I'm not saying Martin is going to lose his starting job, but word out of Tampa is that the Bucs aren't happy with the run production which until last Sunday, has mostly been in the hands of Martin. However, in Week 4 we saw LaGarrette Blount get six carries (Martin had 8) and it was Blount who scored the Bucs' only rushing TD - a goal line run.

Russell Wilson/QB/SEA - The only reason Seattle has a couple of wins is because of the running game and stifling defense. This team has failed to score more than 16 points in three of their four outings and that has coach Pete Carroll concerned. However, Wilson's job is safe for a while since backup Matt Flynn is still nursing an elbow injury. Everything could change though once Flynn gets healthy.

Matt Cassel/QB/KC - The Chiefs have one just one game under Cassel's watch so far and his 5 TDs to 7 INTs ratio doesn't help things. How much more will coach Romeo Crennel stomach before Brady Quinn or Ricky Stanzi gets the call?


REALITY CHECK

Here are some of the things that were said back in the preseason and what has actually happened after the first month of the regular season.

Remember. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...or the guy wearing the headset." My apologies to the Wizard of Oz.

What was said: San Francisco said they wanted to reduce Frank Gore's workload this year.

Reality: Through the first 4 games Gore has carried 66 times versus 74 in the first month of 2011.

Verdict: Technically, they have cut his carries, but as far as fantasy goes, it's not a big deal.


What was said: Minnesota wanted to ease Adrian Peterson back into the lineup following his recovery from ACL surgery late last season.

Reality: AP opened the season with 17 carries and now has 79 rushing attempts through the first four games.

Verdict: Not much "easing" going on. What was his backup's name? Coby something?


What was said: Atlanta indicated that it wanted to reduce Michael Turner's rushing to about 70% of his total in 2012.

Reality: It's funny, but Turner was seeing about 68% of Atlanta's total rushes in the first four games of last season. He's at 64% this year.

Verdict: Another one that is technically valid, but hasn't had significant fantasy impact.


What was said: Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he hoped to cut down on Marshawn Lynch's workload this season.

Reality: Lynch has carried the ball 20+ times in every game so far. His 92 attempts trail only Arian Foster (103) for the league lead.

Verdict: Lynch owners like Pete Carroll.


What was said: Miami wanted to decrease Reggie Bush's rushing work in 2012 and use him more in the passing game.

Reality: After four games, Bush's ratio of runs to receptions is higher this season. He has 67 carries versus 10 catches (and remember he left Week 3's game with an injury). At this time last year, he had 41 rushing attempts to 11 catches.

Verdict: Reports of Bush's decline as a runner have been greatly exaggerated.


What was said: Carolina coach Ron Rivera stated that he wanted a bigger role for WR Brandon LaFell this season.

Reality: LaFell has been targeted 21 times in the first four weeks versus 16 in the first month of the 2011 campaign.

Verdict: I guess you can tweak the numbers and say he's up 31%!


What was said: Packers coach Mike McCarthy expressed the interest in getting TE DJ Williams more involved in the offense this year (at the expense of decreasing Jermichael Finley's action).

Reality: Williams has caught 2 passes in the first four games.

Verdict: Not so much.


LOOKING AHEAD

Dallas, Detroit, Oakland and Tampa Bay all off in Week 5 so plan accordingly.


LOOKING FARTHER AHEAD

With Carolina, Chicago, Jacksonville and New Orleans all on a bye in Week 6, there are a number of good starters who will be idle.


Good luck this week everyone!

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