A week ago when LeSean McCoy left the Eagles’ latest imitation of a high school team with a concussion, the reaction by his owners should have been swift and immediate: pick up Bryce Brown. Now. Right away. Like, five minutes ago.
There were two reasons for this, and they were equally obvious. The most obvious of the obvious was that when a starter goes down and he has a clear backup, said backup needs to be universally owned. This wasn’t a Willis McGahee situation in Philadelphia, because in Denver when their main running back crumbled for the season we all initially thought Ronnie Hillman would get the bulk of the carries, but even before Knowshon Moreno rose from his grave we weren’t fully confident, as Lance Ball would be a factor too.
There’s no Ball or Moreno in Philly, just Brown. And what did Brown do for you last night? He led the league in rushing this week with 178 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns, adding 11 yards through the air for 189 total yards. He looked like Sam Gordon crushing boys. It’s just a shame that the Eagles defense looked like Sam Gordon’s opponents, with their blown assignments and repeated mental fumbles leading to an early 14-3 deficit that was eventually too much to overcome. The real, physical fumbles didn’t help much either, and neither did the fact that pretty much the entire Eagles offense is in a hospital somewhere by now, with DeSean Jackson the latest to leave a game.
But we’ll spare you the Eagles misery, because that’s reserved for far less happy places of the Internet. Brown brings us joy.
The second obvious reason why you should have known to start Brown last night if you made a waiver claim on him is the Panthers defense. Brown’s ownership is scattered and low in some places, which is a little baffling. Again, at minimum he should have been an automatic claim for the McCoy owner, and there’s one of those in every league, as he was universally a top five pick. Yet while his ownership is right around where it should be in Yahoo leagues (39 percent), it’s stupid low in ESPN leagues (five percent). What gives, you guys?
Anyways, there was much astonishment last night while Brown was slicing up the Panthers, and it was at least partly surprising. Did any of us predict an explosion of this magnitude that led to 26 fantasy points? Ummm, no. That would require some kind of Nostradamus ability. However, leaning heavily towards Brown having a very, very good day wasn’t difficult, simply because we’ve seen this movie before, and it’s Oscar worthy.
Close your eyes, and let’s go back to Week 3 together. That’s when the Giants and Panthers squared off on Thursday Night Football, and Andre Brown started in New York’s backfield while replacing the injured Ahmad Bradshaw because David Wilson was still firmly tied to Tom Coughlin’s dank doghouse. Against this same Panthers front seven, a running back who had been cut by eight teams and only had 70 career rushing yards prior to that day finished with 113 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns. No, that’s not 178 yards, but it’s still only two fantasy points fewer than Brown’s total last night, because the New York Brown can keep the football in his hands. Last week Doug Martin also posted 138 yards against this same Panthers defense that’s giving up an averaging of 126.2 rushing yards per game.
Monday night was teed up perfectly for Brown, and while Week 13 against the Cowboys will be tougher with McCoy likely remaining out, Sean Lee still isn’t walking through that door for the Cowboys’ front seven. Start Brown, and do it with confidence after he reached the second level several times last night, with two 19-yard runs, and his 65-yard score.
The concern is his fumbling. If we assume that Andy Reid is still the Eagles’ head coach by the time I finish writing this post, fumbling isn’t tolerated by any coach on any team, regardless of its record. In fact, at this point Reid’s tolerance for such buttery fingers may be about equal to that of a coach on a playoff-contending team. His chances of maintaining employment in Philly beyond this season seem remote, but every win helps. So by extension, every fumble hinders, and a coach clawing for his job with every score and every positive play will be quicker with a hook.
Brown’s two fumbles in his first start are typical of a rookie running back who will, you know, make rookie mistakes, especially after he nearly went undrafted last spring (Brown waited until the end of the seventh round to hear his name called). Reid knows this, and we all know it. But that doesn’t make tolerating the growing case of fumbleitis any easier.
Expect to see more of Dion Lewis if Brown fumbles again early against Dallas. But that’s not enough to keep you from being aggressive on the wire if he’s available in your league.
And now the links part of the links post…
- The denial game continues with the two Seahawks cornerbacks and their alleged PED use. [USA Today]
- Jim Harbaugh will name his Week 13 quarterback by the middle of the week. Why is this still even a discussion? [The Associated Press]
- Charles Tillman has a chipped bone in his foot, but that likely won’t keep him out of any game action. Normal breathing is good breathing, Bears defense owners. [Chicago Tribune]
- Speaking of defenses, if you need to stream one this week, pick up the one that’s playing the Cardinals. I haven’t even looked at the schedule yet, because it doesn’t matter. Why? Because Ryan Lindley. [The Fake Football]