Instant Impressions: Week 10
• At some point we're all finally going to be convinced that the Philadelphia Eagles just aren't very good. They lost another close one versus the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, and the offensive culprits were legion. Michael Vick rushed for 79 yards but was otherwise every bit the erratic passer we all remember from his Atlanta days: 16-of-34 for 128 yards, no TDs, two INTs and several missed opportunities. He's also getting the heck beaten out of him again, and reportedly suffered two broken ribs early in the contest (which could help explain some of the erratic play).
DeSean Jackson missed a Saturday meeting and was benched altogether. Jeremy Maclin did nothing (two catches for six yards) with the opportunity to be a true No. 1 in what looked like a dream matchup Sunday morning. Maclin suffered a shoulder injury early in the game, followed by a hamstring injury that knocked him out of the contest late. Jason Avant started at flanker, and had one catch for two yards. Riley Cooper didn't catch a pass. The Eagles travel to play the New York Giants next Sunday night, they're 3-6, and I frankly don't know what to do with them in fantasy leagues. LeSean McCoy is great. Brent Celek is emerging. And otherwise it's a pickle. I didn't love Vick to start the year, ranking him sixth among fantasy QBs. He now sits ninth. There's a chance he misses Week 11, which would probably mean Vince Young would get the start, and that doesn't figure to go well. Maclin has a good chance of missing the Giants game, and it's tough to see Jackson with tons of fantasy value if VY is under center. Ugh, what a mess.
• Matthew Stafford revealed to reporters after the Detroit Lions' disgusting 37-13 loss that he broke the ring finger on his throwing hand in the previous game, two weeks ago against the Denver Broncos, but claimed that his four INTs Sunday versus the Chicago Bears were due to swirling winds. Maybe. But my eyes tell me that might be a load of bull. Watching Stafford throw was painful (especially for Calvin Johnson owners), as pass after pass was wildly inaccurate, including near-back-to-back pick-sixes for the Bears' defense. Stafford went 0-for-14 in red zone passing until utter garbage time, when he finally threw a score to Tony Scheffler. There will no doubt be reports galore on Stafford's finger all week leading up to a home matchup versus the Carolina Panthers. Right now, I'm not sure what to tell you, except that Stafford owners might want to think about picking up Shaun Hill.
• The Denver Broncos set back offensive football 50 years in their upset win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, and are somehow now 4-5 and a game out of first place in the AFC West. Tim Tebow produced 16 fantasy points, which means in the Broncos' past five games Timmy T has at least 16 points in four of them. Of course, he was 2-of-8 for 69 yards throwing the ball. That's not a misprint. 2-of-8 for 69 yards. And 56 of those yards came on one play, a late TD bomb to Eric Decker. It may not always be quite so ridiculous for Tebow's Broncos (who rushed it 55 times compared to those eight throws). After all, Willis McGahee (hamstring) and Knowshon Moreno (knee) got hurt in the first quarter and didn't return, which led to Lance Ball getting a career-high (ya think?) 30 carries. Heck, Eddie Royal got three carries. Moreno isn't expected to be healthy enough to play Thursday night against the New York Jets, though John Fox said McGahee could've returned "in an emergency," so he might be able to go. Tebow is still a borderline fantasy starter, even against the Jets' solid pass defense, and smart McGahee owners should pick up Ball as insurance.
• The knee injury that cost Frank Gore nearly the entire second half Sunday would've been the lead story of this column if Jim Harbaugh didn't come out and say he expected Gore to be able to play in Week 11 versus the Arizona Cardinals. Gore was limited to 8 yards on seven touches Sunday, dealing a fantasy punch-to-the-gut to owners who had to watch Kendall Hunter streak for a 17-yard fourth-quarter score that gave the San Francisco 49ers their eventual winning points. Gore has now suffered an ankle and a knee injury in consecutive weeks, which should sound eerily familiar to his fantasy owners. If you haven't handcuffed Hunter to Gore yet, shame on you; Hunter is still unowned in 95 percent of ESPN.com leagues, and it's incumbent upon you to grab him if you're a Gore owner. For the moment, I believe Harbaugh. But you never know how Gore will feel during the week.
• Put yourself in a fantasy football ranker's shoes. Your job mandates that you rank Washington Redskins running backs every week. But you don't want to. Anything but that. Because no matter what you do, Mike Shanahan winds up making you look foolish. Frankly, I'm proud of us here at ESPN.com this week. Despite the many proclamations that Roy Helu had wrested the starting job in D.C. and was the No. 1 back going forward, we resisted the temptation to make Helu a top-20 back in our ranks, and I made Helu my No. 26 RB of the week, with Ryan Torain coming in at No. 42. Well, Shanny did it again. Torain was the unquestioned starter in Sunday's loss in Miami. Man. Torain had the Skins' first 10 carries. Helu had one touch (a reception) in the game's 40 minutes. Only when the Redskins decided to spread out their offense in catch-up mode did Helu assume the primary ball carrier's role, whereupon he looked decent, ending the day with six carries for 41 yards and three grabs for another 13. Meanwhile, Torain had 11 touches for 24 yards. Helu is the better player for sure. But I have one Redskins-related request for you this week: Don't listen to people who tell you they have this backfield figured out. They don't. (And I should also mention that Tashard Choice could get healthy from his hamstring at any point and take touches, too.)
• I took at least a dozen questions last week about whether to sit Larry Fitzgerald, who was coming off a four-catch effort in Week 9. Fitz displayed why the maxim "Don't Bench Your Studs" is a good one. Fitzgerald didn't let Philly's supposed elite secondary or John Skelton's sometimes shaky throws deter him. The stud wideout managed seven grabs for 146 yards and two TDs and came within inches of getting into the end zone a third time. It doesn't always work out this perfectly, but heed these words: Don't Bench Your Studs.
• With Miles Austin out, Laurent Robinson continued his solid play for the Dallas Cowboys. His two TDs Sunday gave him four in his past three games. Robinson's second score was a 58-yard bomb on which the Buffalo Bills simply blew a coverage, so I'm actually more excited about his first score, a 5-yarder from Tony Romo that showed how quickly Robinson has become integrated into the red zone offense. With the Cowboys way ahead, Romo took the air out of the ball and Robinson only wound up with three grabs for 73 yards, but this isn't a complete fluke. Dez Bryant is a monolith (how about his spectacular first-quarter TD grab?) and the man playing opposite him is in a valuable role. As of this writing, Robinson is owned in 13 percent of leagues, and his shelf life won't last forever. But nobody seems to be expecting Austin to return for Week 11's game versus the Redskins, so Robinson is worth an add.
• Speaking of receivers worth adding, please go pick up Antonio Brown. What more proof do you need? The Pittsburgh Steelers are on bye for Week 11, and perhaps Hines Ward and/or Emmanuel Sanders will get fully healthy with rest. But Brown is obviously Ben Roethlisberger's No. 2 (and favored underneath) target, and with the number of times Big Ben slings it (another 33 times in the wind Sunday), that's a valuable role. In his past four games, Brown has 26 catches for 364 yards. As of this writing, he was still unowned in about 46 percent of leagues. Sheesh.
• A.J. Green made a terrific circus TD catch late in the first quarter Sunday, leaping over three defenders and snaring a 36-yard bomb from Andy Dalton. On the play, Green hyperextended his knee and only touched the ball once more the rest of the day, on a running play. He was also seen on the sidelines trying to stay loose on a stationary bike. The Cincinnati Bengals maintain that the injury isn't serious and that Green should be able play next week against the Baltimore Ravens, but this is a situation worth monitoring, because having scored a TD in six of nine games this season, Green has injected himself into must-start territory when healthy.
• Week 9 whipping boy Chris Ogbonnaya played pretty well Sunday, albeit against an intermittently terrible St. Louis Rams run defense. I'll admit Cleveland Browns-St. Louis Rams might be a game whose footage I don't watch in the interest of time and sanity, but the few runs of Ogbonnaya's that I saw Sunday showed occasional promise. I mean, seven of his first eight carries went for 2 yards or fewer, so let's not give the guy the key to the city just yet. But I checked in on a third-quarter screen that netted 17, and Ogbonnaya also had a field-position-changing 32-yard scamper in that third stanza. It doesn't sound as if either Peyton Hillis or Montario Hardesty will return in Week 11 to face the Jacksonville Jaguars, which have a tougher run defense than the Rams. But Ogbonnaya, who's unowned in 86 percent of leagues, seems like a continued decent bet to see 15-plus touches every week.
• Sidney Rice reportedly suffered a concussion in the Seattle Seahawks' surprise win over the Baltimore Ravens. While the team characterized the injury as "mild" Sunday evening, TV cameras picked up Rice on the bench looking entirely glazed. It's no sure thing that Rice will be cleared to play for Week 11 against the St. Louis Rams.
• As Maurice Morris continues to underwhelm as the Detroit Lions' starting RB in place of the concussed Jahvid Best (11 touches for 50 yards in Sunday's loss), it's worth noting that newly signed Kevin Smith has replaced Keiland Williams as the second option out of that backfield. Smith, just a few days removed from walking in off the street, got six touches for 29 yards Sunday. Certainly there's not a ton of fantasy value in any of these guys. But if you're desperate, adding Smith to your bench isn't a terrible idea. If he can regain his form of a couple years ago (which I'll admit isn't a great bet because of his many injuries), Smith is a more talented player than Morris.
• LaDainian Tomlinson injured a knee with two minutes to play in Sunday night's loss to the Patriots, in garbage time on a hit from (of all people) Julian Edelman, who was out there playing defense because New England is basically out of defensive backs. LDT looked hobbled, and as of this writing, the extent of his injury is unknown, but an MRI is scheduled for Monday. Joe McKnight could get a look as Shonn Greene's backup if Tomlinson is injured seriously, and McKnight might be worth a handcuff in deeper leagues.
Christopher Harris is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner. You can ask him questions at www.facebook.com/writerboy. He is also the author of the newly published football novel "Slotback Rhapsody." Get information about this book at www.slotbackrhapsody.com.
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