Today we were reminded once again that the Raiders suck, but at least this time it came in a unique way. Points for creativity, BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
The Law Firm’s rather random Sunday romp of the Raiders leads our thoughts and observations following the eight early games during this fine Week 12 Sunday. Many more words and rants follow after that.
The Raiders made BenJarvus Green-Ellis look like a perennial Pro bowler
You’ll look at Green-Ellis’ final line during Cincinnati’s 34-10 win over Oakland this afternoon that made Al Davis rise from his grave to draft five more really fast guys, and at first you’ll fake not being surprised about his 129 rushing yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. You’ll do that because despite his overall complete average-ness and status as the epitome of the also-ran this year while plodding along at 63.8 rushing yards per game, last week Green-Ellis showed that even running backs who do little forward running can take advantage of a great matchup. That’s when he posted 101 yards and a touchdown on the lowly Chiefs, good enough for 16 fantasy points after having six or fewer points in five games this year.
And if/when you do that, you’re both drastically overestimating Green-Ellis’ plodding, and underestimating just how awful the Raiders are when they’re asked to stop a football player who’s running with the ball. The Raiders entered the day averaging 122.2 rushing yards allowed per game, and 4.5 per carry — both really bad yet not quite woeful numbers. They descended to the latter category today.
A few fun facts about Green-Ellis, and his day of being made to look competent:
- Prior to this week his career-long run over 63 games was 33 yards. Today he had runs of 48 and 39 yards. In one game.
- On their own, both of those runs were longer than his rushing total in two games this year (Week 3 = 38 yards, Week 5 = 14 yards).
- In four of his games this year, Green-Ellis’ longest run was less than 10 yards.
- The Raiders allowed Green-Ellis to have only his sixth career 100-yard rushing game. At his current pace, he’s logging a 100-yard game only once every 10 games.
- On the season Green-Ellis was averaging only 3.5 yards per carry. That places him in the dusty, dank basement in that category (42nd). So, how did he do today? 6.8 yards per carry.
- Repeated for emphasis: a running back who ranks 42nd in YPC improved by over three yards in said category today.
The Raiders were thoroughly gashed, especially when we add in Cedric Peerman’s 61 rushing yards for a total of 190 yards allowed on the ground to running backs. So what fantasy fun awaits on their schedule now that we’re aware of Oakland’s supreme lack of tackling? Welp, Trent Richardson will enjoy running bros over next week. Ditto for Jamaal Charles in Week 15 as the fantasy playoffs start, and a week before that Knowshon Moreno could do some rumbling after he’s this week’s hottest waiver wire pickup following his 111 total yards today.
And for those in leagues that end in Week 17, Ryan Mathews may finish with a performance that’s not completely underwhelming against the Raiders and their scary songs and fans, but cuddly little defense.
And one more Bengals blowup
There was a time not so long ago when it would have been blasphemous to dedicate so many words to the Bengals and speak of them so jubilantly in any fantasy context. Thanks, Raiders.
Every week it seems there’s a wide receiver on the waiver wire who emerges, and he’s an obvious candidate for a claim if you have even a remote need for a WR. Such are the realities of football’s deepest position.
The problem is that far too often, the descent among these wideouts is just as quick as the ascent (see: Ogletree, Kevin). But with Cincinnati’s Mohamed Sanu, he seems for real, ya’ll.
With two more touchdowns today on five receptions, Sanu now has four scores over his last three games at a highly efficient scoring pace. Despite mostly still being Andy Dalton’s third option behind A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham (and indeed, Sanu’s 29 receiving yards were behind Green and Gresham today) he’s needed only 11 receptions during this three-game stretch to score four times.
With Andrew Hawkins still out, Sanu has firmly established himself as a red-zone presence, with both of his touchdowns today coming inside the Raiders’ five-yard line. Leaping ability will do that.
Sanu is owned in only one percent of ESPN leagues, a number that will rise quickly this week.
Michael Bush is still a vulturing jerk
Bush and Matt Forte had nearly identical first-half lines today (Bush had 11 carries for 24 yards, while Forte had nine carries for 28). Yet Bush received all the goal-line work, scoring two touchdowns, each coming on one-yard runs.
This isn’t about to change if both running backs remain healthy (umm yeah, more on that in a minute…hooray for foreshadowing), or get any less annoying. But while it’s never fun watching your running back sit with his helmet off on the sideline while his backup gets the glory carries, you’re getting what you paid for with Forte, as he’s simply never been a high-volume scorer. He’s scored only three times this year on 169 touches, and his career high was 12 scores back in his rookie year. To put that in perspective, Arian Foster currently leads all running backs this year with 14 touchdowns through just 11 games.
But injuries are the real story in Chicago
Bush’s vulturing came in the first half of the Bears’ beat down of the Vikings. The concern, though, is that an easy win for the Bears over a division rival may have produced the kind of dream-time thoughts that ruin your greatest fantasy achievements. What a world. We have fantasy achievements.
Forte left in the third quarter with an ankle injury, limping off the field after getting bent in a direction the human body was not designed to bend during a gang tackle. Forte owners need to check their waiver wires immediately, because even after the Bears’ starter missed a game earlier this year and even after Bush was one of the most coveted handcuffs, he’s still surprisingly available. Bush is out there in 32 percent of ESPN leagues, and 47 percent of yahoo leagues.
It gets worse for the Bears. Much worse, and pretty faceplam-y for those who own their defense, a unit that may have slowed somewhat with its fantasy point production of late as its scoring predictably regresses back to the mean, but collectively the Bears defense is still 18th overall in scoring with 151 points, ahead of A.J. Green and Ray Rice prior to today, to name only a few. So here comes the hurt: Charles Tillman left with an ankle injury of his own in the first half, and he was late seen wearing a walking boot.
Ugh. Of the Bears’ 15 forced fumbles, Tillman has seven of them. And of the Bears’ seven interceptions returned for touchdowns, Tillman has two. If he misses any time, the value and production of the Bears’ defense will suffer dramatically. Say, aren’t the fantasy playoffs starting soon?
The Steelers’ backfield: where fumbling is just the coolest
Every Steelers running back needs to go home to their drunk father, and have him tape a football to their arm after breaking his beloved lamp. Also, having your sores healed by a blond vixen is always desirable.
Two Friday Night Lights video drops in one day. My work here is done.
By now outside of flex starts and deep league plays, you’re mostly staying away from the Steelers’ backfield due to both its increasingly unpredictable workload distribution, and the presence of Charlie Batch, who traveled to his first NFL start in a car propelled by square wheels. Still, even those two categories compromise a lot of managers in a lot of leagues, and last week Rashard Mendenhall was started in 23.3 percent of all ESPN leagues, while Jonathan Dwyer saw fake fields in 11 percent.
Those rates likely hovered around the same levels this week, and for those of you who were dealt this backfield death hand, please accept my sincere condolences. Mendenhall and Dwyer combined for three fumbles — two of which were lost — and then when we throw in two fumbles by Chris Rainey and a ball grounding by Isaac Redmon, Steelers running backs fumbled six times during their loss to Cleveland today.
But it gets worse, because everything does today. Darkness, it’s still not fun.
Antonio Brown owners widely started Emmanuel Sanders, partly because despite Batch’s presence he’s still not a terrible play, but mostly because you didn’t have a damn choice. He had five receptions for 75 yards, which is neat, and had he ended right there he would have given his owners seven fantasy points — a fine day from a low-end WR3 or flex play. But he didn’t, as Sanders also fumbled twice, bringing the Steelers’ fumble total to eight. Thankfully he didn’t lose both of them, although his one lost fumble still turned a solid fantasy day of even points into a more mediocre day of five points.
Prior to today over 34 career game appearances with 74 receptions, Sanders hadn’t fumbled once. The fantasy football overlords crushed the Steelers and every notable fantasy option today under their pinky toes. Feel the fire, feel the burn.
Cecil Shorts = love
I’m not ashamed whatsoever to admit that. A real man publicly acknowledges his bro crushes. Embrace it. Be one with it.
My brain is melting while I look at another ho-hum, stupidly productive outing today from Shorts during Jacksonville’s win over Tennessee (four receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown), and then I look at his ownership. Again I get it: wide receiver is deep, and nearly every week we get a Mohamed Sanu. But Shorts has been posting great numbers for weeks now, yet he’s still available in exactly half of ESPN leagues, and 40 percent of Yahoo leagues. If you can give me an explanation for this, the floor is yours.
With his speed Shorts eats yards after the catch for every meal, as prior to today 237 of his 642 yards have come after the catch. That’s 37 percent of his total yardage, and today he became the third Jaguar since 2005 to have three +100-yard receiving games in one season.
Maybe that doesn’t impress you because the stat says far more about the state of terrible that’s been the Jaguars’ receiving corps over the past decade or so than it does about Shorts. Fine, but how about this: Shorts had a 59-yard touchdown catch today to go along with a pair of 23 yarders, and he made more history with that long touchdown grab too, tying Keenan McCardell’s franchise record for the most catches of 50 yards or more in a season. It was Shorts’ fourth grab of such length, and taking that further he now has eight catches for 20 yards or more despite just 36 receptions through 11 games. The math on that makes Shorts’ season — including his current pace for just 1,000 yards (996), his 26.3 yards per catch today, and 22.4 over Jacksonville’s last three games on 291 yards — even more incredible.
Now, about that ownership. What gives?