We’re with you every Sunday to provide the Sunday Six Pack, an article featuring six of the biggest story lines heading into each and every week of the season. Keeping tabs on these events will keep you prepared and informed throughout the season – just don’t drive within six hours of reading this.
Can #1) Southern Comfort
It’s safe to say there appears to be a spark in Florida. Jacksonville’s Chad Henne led the Jaguars to their second win of the season, ultimately prevailing 24-19 against the Tennessee Titans. On the day, Henne went 17-of-26 for 261 yards and two touchdowns, while throwing just a single interception. The 27-year old is certain to now finish the year under center and, if he can perform well through the balance of the season, may actually give Jacksonville the flexibility to look beyond the quarterback position in the first round of the 2013 rookie draft. We still look for the Jags to target one of the top slingers in the draft, but they have many needs on the offensive side of the ball other than quarterback.
Can #2) Desert Disaster
If it’s possible for a team to release all their quarterbacks in a single week, Arizona may just be the team to try it. Ryan Lindley did pass for 312 yards, but with no touchdowns and four interceptions. As has been my criticism with Lindley from his days at San Diego State, he shows very little touch on his passes and often seems lost on intermediate and long routes. And for the second game in a row, Larry Fitzgerald all but disappeared as a weapon, facing bracket coverage most of the day. If Kevin Kolb is ready to play in week thirteen, expect the Lindley experiment to come to a close, at least for 2013. As far as Fitzgerald goes, he’s not startable as anything other than as your last flex position should Lindley remain under center.
Can #3) 49ers Strike Gold?
The worst kept secret during week twelve was that San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick was to start ahead of Alex Smith in a tilt against the New Orleans Saints. While he didn’t look elite in the start, Kaepernick did show command of the pocket, nice touch on all range of passes and fleet feet when the situation called for it. On the day, he completed 16-of-25 passes for 231 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also added a second touchdown on a well-executed seven yard scamper in the first quarter. For his part, Kaepernick did leave yardage on the field on several passes, but the Niners offense showed nice balance and the ability to move the ball. Unless the wheels fall off over the next three games, look for him to carry the load for the remainder of the season and for the Alex Smith era to end at the conclusion of the 2012 campaign.
Can #4) DX Factor
There’s no telling when the music will stop for Danario Alexander, but fantasy owners continue to reap the benefit. Alexander didn’t score in week twelve, but did lead the Chargers once again hauling in five receptions for 74 yards on a team-high eight targets. Fantasy owners would like to see DX continue to get into the end zone, but every week of good numbers draws more defensive pressure. With Robert Meachem and Antonio Gates quickly fading into the background, look for DX to continue to be targeted early and often by Philip Rivers. Now with a pair (including Malcom Floyd) of 6’5″ receivers, one has to wonder if slot receiver Vincent Brown will be able to gobble up yards in a Wes Welker type role when he returns from injury. As for Alexander, keep playing him until the wheels (knees) fall off … again.
Can #5) What you worried about Willis?
As Gomer Pyle once said, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!.” Out of nowhere came the news early Sunday morning that none other than fourth string back Knowshon Moreno would get the start over both Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball. Perhaps even more surprising was the fact that Ball received zero touches on the day while Hillman tallied just three carries for nine yards. To his credit, Moreno rose to the occasion and rushed for 85 yards on 20 carries and also hauled in four receptions for 26 yards – that’s over 15 PPR fantasy points for you scoring at home. Many fantasy coaches risked a Hillman play on Sunday and certainly paid the price. Next up for the Broncos are the Buccaneers of Tampa Bay, who themselves have a highly ranked run defense. With Peyton Manning leading the aerial attack and the Bucs unable to stack the box, look for Moreno to get a material number of touches again. He’ll be the pickup of the week and could play an important role as we head into the fantasy playoffs.
Can #6) The Book of Eli
The book of Eli (Manning) in week twelve contained a chapter unlike others seen this year, or at least recently. The Manning-led G-Men shocked the Packers by a score of 38-10 and it wasn’t even that close. On the night, Manning threw for 249 yards, three touchdowns and never turned the ball over. He also found three different receivers (Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle) for touchdowns, proving the old Eli is still in the building. Manning is still best suited as a QB2 in fantasy with QB1 tendencies on occasion. He’s a great asset to have behind your core starter. Better yet, Manning’s upcoming trio of games finds the Redskins, Saints and the Falcons – all of which should have trouble defending a dynamic passing attack like that which the Giants possess when chemistry is present. Welcome back Eli – those with Giant receivers are very happy to see you again.