Colin Kaepernick will never be this popular again. We all want to know if he’ll be better than Matt Ryan or Josh Freeman or Cam Newton or Johnny Unitas this week. And that whirlwind discussion is surrounding a quarterback who’s maybe/almost definitely starting over Alex Smith, but we still don’t have a definitive word, and we might not get that blessing until Sunday morning. Fantastic, yes?
So it came with little surprise that our weekly dive into the digital mailbag begins with another question about the Big CK. I’m not sure if anyone’s called him that yet, but dibs if it catches on.
Keep submitting your questions to our friendly neighborhood Twitter account here at theScore.com starting every Tuesday, and I’ll keep answering them on Thursday. Some call that a system. I call it controlled ranting.
@thescore who do I start this week Newton or Kaepernick?
— Aaron (@wpgjets2_0) November 22, 2012
I’ve stocked up on so much Kaepernick Kool Aid that I could start a corner store and turn a tidy profit. This morning I wrote what amounted to a love letter to him, saying that Kaepernick owners who are also Matthew Stafford owners and are on the playoff fringe in their leagues should bench the latter quarterback, and take a moderate risk with a Kaepernick start. Admittedly that call looked a bit better before the Texans and Lions started the Thanksgiving Day football festivities, but here’s how good Kaepernick could and should be in a highly favorable matchup Sunday as San Francisco travels to New Orleans. Stafford had 25 fantasy points during Detroit’s farce of a loss to Houston in which ref ass hattery was on full display, and at his very worst Sunday Kaepernick should match that, and he’ll more than likely still top Stafford’s production by accumulating far more valuable rushing yards.
Newton can do that too, of course, which is why this decision is more difficult, and the advantage isn’t nearly as decisive either way. There’s also the matter of the Eagles — Newton’s opponent Monday night — and their recent failed attempts to field a professional defense, most notably last week when they allowed Robert Griffin III to finish with a perfect passer rating and 32 fantasy points (200 passing yards, four touchdowns, 80 rushing yards). That makes this decision both easier and harder, and it means my hind region is hurting from this fence I’m riding. Newton isn’t nearly as accurate as Griffin, but he should still be able to carve up a defense that’s given up an average of 31.8 points per game since Philly’s Week 7 bye.
However, I’d still favor Kaepernick, because his matchup is just that damn good against an improved but still struggling Saints defense that’s giving up 83 more passing yards per game than the Eagles, and most importantly for Kaepernick, they’re still last against the run (157.8 yards per game). If you need more, the Saints are also one of only three teams allowing five or more rushing yards per carry.
If you’re choosing between these two, there’s no wrong call, but Kaepernick is more right.
@thescore julio jones vs bucs or shonne greene vs pats for flex spot
— Rob Fufaro (@infamousR0BB) November 20, 2012
I’m not sure what’s worse: my worry about Julio Jones and his ankle, or my hate for Shonn Greene.
There’s very little reason to like Greene in any spot, especially now that Rex Ryan will lean more towards a rotation in his backfield, meaning suddenly Bilal Powell isn’t completely irrelevant. Greene has only saved his season and his overall fantasy production with his 161-yard, three-touchdown performance in Week 6 that’s a massive outlier compared to the rest of his season. If we take that away he has only two touchdowns, and an average of 52.2 yards per game over his other nine games. Combine those two factors — Greene’s overall plodding awfulness, and the new backfield rotation — with the Patriots’ run defense that’s giving up only 3.9 YPC, and it’s not a good look for Greene.
But there may be even less reason to trust Jones. Last week he was limited in practice and there was heavy doubt about his playing status before we all received the joyous news that he was active against the Cardinals. Then he tried to play, and soon returned to the bench due to soreness, and a general inability to cut. Game action still isn’t the same as practice.
Jones was limited again today, and he’s likely headed for another game-time decision. If he was healthy, this would be an easy flex call with Jones set to torch the Bucs, who own the worst passing defense in the league. But I’m having difficulty trusting Jones this week in any format regardless of the cushy matchup. Unfortunately that means you should lean elsewhere, and in this case start Greene.
— Tom Laird (@Lairadio) November 20, 2012
My condolences on the Michael Turner ownership. He hasn’t reached early 2012 Chris Johnson levels of suck yet, but he’s getting there. Sure, he had a 102-yard rushing day with a touchdown in Week 9 against the Cowboys, but his three other recent performances have led to the emergence of a running back who only gives you value if he scores. Somewhat similar to Greene, the Dallas game is Turner’s outlier, and if we exclude it he has 2.2 YPC over Atlanta’s other three games since their Week 7 bye.
Unfortunately, among this group there’s no way around another Turner start. Beanie Wells should play this weekend, but he’ll be very gently eased back into the Cardinals’ backfield in a split with LaRod Stephens-Howling, minimizing the value of both backs. The most appealing option of the group is Marcel Reece with his 392 yards from scrimmage over the past three weeks in an offense that utilizes him heavily as a dynamic option. So hesitantly roll with Turner, and slot Reece in with confidence.
— Sean Meyers (@SeanMeyers) November 20, 2012
The Aaron Rodgers effect leads to hesitancy with the Giants. Use the force to ignore it.
Rodgers will get his share of passing yards, and surely a touchdown or two. Fine, whatever. Defensive fantasy points primarily come from sacks and interceptions, and the Packers’ offensive line is one of the most vulnerable units in the league, as they’ve allowed the fourth most sacks (32). That’s resulted in Rodgers continually being under pressure, and getting sacked three or more times in six of the Packers’ 10 games. So while there will be plenty of chunk yardage accumulated against a defense allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 63.7 percent of their passes, the sack opportunities given to Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, and Jason Pierre-Paul should compensate for the failings in the defensive backfield.
The Bengals, meanwhile, are facing a more sturdy Raiders offensive line (they’ve allowed 20 sacks), and an offense that’s shifted dramatically to the pass since Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson went down in Week 9. That will present more interception opportunities, but it’ll also present more scoring opportunities and likely lead to another shootout. Over Oakland’s last three games Carson Palmer has averaged 48.6 pass attempts per game, a high volume that’s led to 1,094 passing yards during that stretch with eight touchdowns and six interceptions. Since the Bengals only have seven picks through 10 games and they even allowed the dysfunctional duo of Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn to escape without an INT last week, their lack of ball hawking will likely make Palmer’s pick throwing proficiency a non-factor.