The Eagles would like to give you an early Christmas gift. No, it’ll be nothing like the tire iron my dad once bought my mom for Christmas because she recently had a flat (seriously). It’ll be more like a pool filled with gold. So please accept this gift bestowed upon you by the Eagles defense, and start Tony Romo this week.
Despite Romo’s highly appealing matchup, there’s an intriguing and difficult Romo question that’s kicks off this week’s tweetbag. So let’s dig in, and rip open our digital bag 0′ fun. As always, I tried to answer most of your questions, but couldn’t get to all of them. Keep firing away every week, and I’ll fire back. Together, we might learn something. Maybe.
Damn, thanks for starting us off with an easy one, Zac. Actually, I guess I choose the order of these questions, but I’m still blaming you.
In one corner we have Matthew Stafford, who may be inconsistent, but he’s coming off a week when he finished fifth among all QBs in fantasy points, earning 25 points while throwing for 441 yards and two touchdowns against the Texans. Yes, the overtime helped to inflate those numbers, as did the absence of Johnathan Joseph. But he was still opposing a fierce pass rush led by J.J. Watt and his 14.5 sacks, and even without Joseph the Texans still have a decent secondary featuring Daniel Manning. So this was no slouch performance by Stafford, and most importantly it also featured the emergence of his receiving toy Ryan Broyles, who averaged 21 yards per catch on six receptions, and 126 receiving yards overall. Stafford’s matchup is highly appealing this week too, as he’ll face a Colts secondary that’s allowing nearly two passing touchdowns per game.
But what of Tony Romo? Welp, as much as he’s often despised in reality, he’s still a pretty chill guy in fantasy. And he’s hot too, and I only mean that in reference to his production (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Sure, Stafford looked like the 2011 Stafford last week, giving zero shits while chucking from his back foot and finishing with all of the passing yards. But Romo was better, logging 27 fantasy points against the Redskins while also passing for 441 yards.
Can you play both? No? Alright then. It’ll be painful to bench Stafford, and it’ll result in highly unhealthy levels of sleep. But Romo’s matchup against an Eagles team that’s been torn to pieces by injuries and general incompetence is just far too attractive. The Eagles were horrific Monday against the Panthers, blowing basic high school-level assignments while allowing Cam Newton to be, yes, better than both Stafford and Romo, and be the highest fantasy point producer at the position in Week 12 with 37 points. Newton has had two games this year with less than 10 points, and his output last week against the Eagles was significantly higher than his weekly season average of only 18 points.
Remember, this is also a defense that’s one week removed from allowing Robert Griffin III to finish with a perfect passer rating. As good as Stafford’s matchup is, Romo’s is better, especially with Jason Babin gone now too.
We hear your screams, Newton owners, though again, you were soothed by the healing powers of the Eagles defense. You should still befriend patience, though, especially this week.
Newton draws the Chiefs, a team that’s generally terrible in nearly every aspect of football except one, sort of: defending balls thrown in the air. The Chiefs are OK against the pass, a mark they fail to reach in all other categories, as they allow an average of 219.9 passing yards per game. That’s the discouraging part of the various numbers beside the Chiefs’ secondary this year, but here’s a highly encouraging number: 22 touchdowns. That’s how many scores Brandon Flowers et al have allowed, the league’s second worst total.
So that scoring rate is highly in Newton’s favor, which brings us to the numbers that are highly against Luck. He’s been brilliant, but he’s been significantly less brilliant on the road, and Indy’s game this Sunday takes place at Ford Field. Of Luck’s 13 interceptions, 10 of them have come during the Colts’ five road games. For leagues that subtract two points for picks (which is most leagues), that could bring some serious pain.
Start Newton with confidence.
It seems the denizens of Fantasyland are especially concerned about the flex spot this week, so let’s hit up a few of these stressing flex questions. As you’ll see below, it looks like Knowshon Moreno and Beanie Wells are the epicenter of the decision-making difficulty. Mitch here has done us one better by owning both Moreno and Wells. You guys just hate easy decisions this week, huh?
I’ve developed a serious man crush on Moreno, and I have no shame in admitting that publicly. However, as I wrote earlier this week, those who spent their waiver priority on Moreno this week (which predictably was many of you, as his ownership increased 33.8 percentage in ESPN leagues) need to go through one week of awful before you’re able to ride some great matchups throughout the rest of the season. That’s because in Week 13 he’ll face the Buccaneers, a team that boasts a group of linebackers with quick sideline-to-sideline ability who are the core of the league’s best run defense (Tampa’s allowing only 81.5 yards per game).
What does that mean for you this week, the proud new Moreno owner? If you can (and, well, most of you can), avoid him, and slot in anyone else. Anyone at all, and Wells is a fine option against the Jets. Ryan Lindley is still in the process of getting destroyed while learning how to be an NFL quarterback, so in his second game after scoring twice last week Wells could see his touches increase while he’s leaned on heavily.
The many words above still apply to Moreno, but you’ve introduced another fun name, Kris. Pierre Garcon, who still moonlights as a Canadian lacrosse goalie.
Williams is a viable option for many owners in many leagues at the flex spot since he’s in sole possession of the starting running back role in Carolina this week with Jonathan Stewart out, although Mike Tolbert will still receive his slice of carry pie, a holiday favorite. Williams has a fine matchup against the Chiefs too, but of the four names dropped here, for me Garcon easily gets the nod.
The Redskins draw the Giants on Monday night this week, a team that dominated Aaron Rodgers this past Sunday, but they did it primarily through quarterback pressure with five sacks. They still have a weak secondary, and one that allowed Robert Griffin III to complete 71.3 percent of his passes in Week 7 at a pace of 9.2 yards per attempt. That’s when he didn’t have Garcon, his favorite target who has a combined 195 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the two games this year that he’s played at full health (Weeks 1 and 12). Those games also include two catches for over 50 yards.
If Garcon can post 86 yards at a pace of 21.5 per catch against Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, he’ll be pretty, pretty good against the Giants.
All Shorts all day.
Shorts owners, if you haven’t developed a Moreno-level man crush (again, embrace it) on a wide receiver who could be the best waiver wire pickup of the year, you need to start the love-in now. Shorts now has a competent quarterback in Chad Henne, and since he started to receive significantly more targets following the Jaguars’ Week 6 bye (3.8 per game prior to the bye, and 8.6 after) his production has absolutely skyrocketed along with that usage.
He’s averaged 90.3 yards per game during the six-game stretch since Week 7 with four touchdowns. Much of that yardage has been powered by his long receptions, as he’s now put together three straight games with a +50 yard catch. And most of those long receptions have been powered by his yards after the catch, with Shorts often turning into a punt returner once he makes the catch. He’s also behind only Chris Givens in yards per catch (20.8).
Shorts gives great value at the flex spot, as he could be used as a WR2.
As inviting as Hilton is as a flex option (and if you can use him there too, Danny, please make the necessary clicks), he’s been wildly inconsistent. That’s not a weakness or a flaw. It’s simply a fact, and it’s what you should expect from a rookie who’s essentially splitting time with Donnie Avery, resulting in very sporadic targets. One week Hilton will receive one target (Week 10), and then another week he’ll get nine targets for 100 yards (Week 11).
Alexander, meanwhile, has become the Chargers’ newest Vincent Jackson, a role that Robert Meachem failed in miserably. Since he returned to full health in Week 9 Alexander has 365 receiving yards over four games. He’ll face a ninth-ranked Bengals secondary with Leon hall and Nate Clements this weekend, which is a little concerning, but I’d still confidently slot in Alexander with his status as Philip Rivers’ new favorite option over Hilton, who’s busted far more than he’s boomed. Hilton has three 100-yard games, but he’s also posted seven games with less than 40 yards.