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Sunday Morning Huddle: Week Fourteen

As always, there’s a ton of information out there this morning. We’re not going to waste your time by repeating the news and notes about who’s in or out this week, since that’s really not what you visit us for. We’re also not going to do another article on starts or sits this week – we already have our weekly personalized lineup advice for you as part of the premium content package. Again, there are 100 places you can go for game day reports, so we’re doing something different on Sundays for our premium content subscribers.

The Sunday Morning Huddle goes through each game and states what we’re looking to see from a dynasty perspective. We pick one player from each team who have our eye on and describe why their weekend performance is a key one for them in relation to their dynasty value.

Early games

Baltimore at Washington

Quick, here are the stats for two different rookie running backs:

Player “A:” 236 carries, 1,106 rushing yards on 4.7 yards per carry, nine rushing touchdowns, 32 receptions, 374 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown

Player “B:” 230 carries, 1,106 rushing yards on 4.8 yards per carry, six rushing touchdowns, six receptions, 42 receiving yards

One of those players is regarded as a sure-fire first round pick in new start-up dynasty drafts, while the other is tough to even get RB3 value for in a trade. As you may have guessed, Player “A” is Doug Martin and Player “B” is Alfred Morris of the Redskins. What’s been lost in the hype of this rookie class has been the effectiveness of Morris, who is running with great power and determination. He has a chance to eclipse 1,500 rushing yards this season and he’s become a great player to own, regardless of what you think of his Head Coach.

For the Ravens, they’ve again promised to get Ray Rice more involved in the offense this week. We’ll see if that comes to fruition, but it’s amazing how they seem to forget he’s their best offensive weapon.

Dallas at Cincinnati

For the Cowboys, Dez Bryant has finally emerged as a bona fide WR1. Over his last three weeks, Bryant has 26 catches on 32 targerts, good for 388 receiving yards and five touchdowns. The Bengals have a solid pass defense, but Bryant is finally turning into one of those “start regardless of matchup” type of players.

The Bengals are hot right now as well and they’re actually being led by BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who has put together his own monster three game stretch that has featured 348 rushing yards and two touchdowns on over five yards per carry. If the Cowboys want to win this game, they won’t be able to simply focus on AJ Green – the law firm is the player to watch today.

St. Louis Rams at Buffalo

For the Rams, we’re finally seeing Chris Givens emerge into an explosive weapon. He followed up his 5/115/1 line against Arizona with 11 catches for 92 yards in last week’s upset win against San Francisco. St. Louis is starving for offensive skill players, but it looks like Givens may just be growing into one.

The Bills gave Fred Jackson 27 touches last week and CJ Spiller 15. Let’s just all watch and hate them together.

Philadelphia at Tampa Bay

Let’s see.  Bryce Brown is now fifth overall in rushing yards for rookies after starting just the last two games. After following up his 178 yard performance against Carolina with 169 last week against Dallas, we all know he can play. There’s only one number that matters today – it’s zero. Brown needs to make it through a game without fumbling to instill some more confidence in his coaching staff and his owners. It’s quite possible he could be carving himself out a nice change of pace role for next season.

After posting a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 16:22 last year, Josh Freeman has bounced back in a big way with 23 touchdowns and just eight interceptions so far this season. With the burnable Eagles in town, anyone with Freeman on their roster has to be seriously considering using him this week, even if you’re in a “win or go home” scenario.

Atlanta at Carolina

Of all the players with disappointing performances last week, Roddy White was towards the top of the list with just one catch for 20 yards. The last time he played the Panthers, White had eight catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns – his owners would be happy with just half that production today.

Slowly, but surely, Cam Newton is starting to rise up the quarterback rankings. Over his last two games, Newton has thrown for 538 yards, rushed for another 130 and accounted for seven total touchdowns. Even better, he hasn’t thrown an interception since week ten. With the Panthers running game non-existent, perhaps Newton has finally adjusted his game to be the dynamic player we remember from last season.

Kansas City at Cleveland

Yeah, I don’t really what to say here, either.

San Diego at Pittsburgh

How about Danario Alexander? If you extrapolate his four game stretch since being named the starter into an entire year of production, he’d be on pace to post a season that featured 92 catches for 1,624 yards and 12 touchdowns. Sure, that’s a huge stretch, but it does illustrate just how good he’s been this season. When you consider Robert Meachem couldn’t do anything with the same opportunity, it’s been a nice run for DX. Now, how about those knees? He’ll be one of the more interesting restricted free agents at the end of the season if he can hold up physically.

Where you Mike Wallace? In most games, we came to almost expect Wallace to catch a 90 yard touchdown. Now, he has just 91 receiving yards in his last four games combined. Sure, much of that has to do with the loss of Ben Roethlisberger, but Wallace seems like the forgotten piece of the puzzle in Todd Haley’s new offense. Can the return of Big Ben light a fire under him? He’s surely not much of an option as teams need him the most this week.

Tennessee at Indianapolis

Don’t look now, but Jared Cook is finally getting some action in the offense. Over the last two weeks, Cook has twenty total targets. While his stats haven’t been that impressive (98 total yards), it’s obvious the Titans and Jake Locker are trying to get him integrated into the flow of the game. If you’re desperate for a tight end today, you could do worse.

Lost in the shadow of his touchdown last week, Coby Fleener had a grand total of two targets last week even with Andrew Luck throwing the ball 54 times. Meanwhile, fellow rookie tight end Dwayne Allen had five targets and two catches of his own. It’s going to be very interesting to see how things are distributed between these two going forward.

NY Jets at Jacksonville

This is quite likely the last chance for Mark Sanchez. After being dreadful last week, he was benched for Greg McElroy and there’s no doubt the leash will be very short against Jacksonville this week. With his completion percentage at just 55% and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 12:13, it’s safe to say things haven’t gone well for him this year. Toss on the seven fumbles on his record and we’re likely seeing the end of the Sanchize era in New York. While the Jets did him no favors with skill position players, Sanchez has done little improving over his four year stint with the Jets. You have to wonder what the Jets are hoping to see in start #60 for him that they haven’t seen in the last 59.

For the Jags, the M*A*S*H unit at running back continues as Montell Owens gets his shot this week to carry the ball. While he’s been a great player on special teams, this will be the first time we see what he can really do on offense. We’re not expecting much, but it’s watching nonetheless.

Chicago at Minnesota

Can the Vikings just put ten players on Brandon Marshall and see what happens? Marshall is putting together a ridiculously good season both on and off the field. He’s averaging nearly 12 targets per game on the season and has been virtually unstoppable all season. Right now, he’s on pace for 121 receptions for 1,576 yards and 11 touchdowns. Not bad.

For the Vikings, someone is going to have to step up to replace the production of Percy Harvin, who is now out for the season. Look for Jarius Wright and Kyle Rudolph to be the beneficiaries of increased targets. We’re especially interested to see what Wright can do with his extended audition.

Late Games

Miami at San Francisco

Don’t let last week’s one catch performance fool you – Davone Bess is being used a lot more lately. In fact, he’s had 26 targets over the past three weeks. While he shouldn’t be in your lineup this week, his rapport with Ryan Tannehill is very important for his future prospects. The number of targets he gets today will be very interesting.

After being a healthy scratch for the entire season, rumor has it that LaMichael James will finally be activated this week. Will it happen?  Will we finally get to see what he can do with some touches? Hmm…

Arizona at Seattle

It’s back to the John Skelton show in Arizona. Is that good or bad for Larry Fitzgerald? I think it’s safe to say he misses the days of Kurt Warner. Just how good does that guy look about now?

For the Seahawks, this is a huge game for their playoff chances and it seems they have just the guy under center in Russell Wilson. Over his last four games, Wilson has nine touchdowns and no interceptions. For all the talk that Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are getting (and rightfully so), it’s actually Wilson who leads all rookie quarterbacks in touchdown passes (19) and passer rating (95.2). There was big talk last week about Luck being the first rookie quarterback to lead a team to eight wins. Well, Wilson has seven of his own as well. This rookie class is impressive.

New Orleans at NY Giants

The Saints need to run the table to have any chance at the playoffs. Let’s see how Drew Brees bounces back from his dreadful five interception disaster against Atlanta last week. The Saints have no hope unless he bounces back. If you’re an owner of Brees, don’t outcoach yourself – the chances of him having back-to-back clunkers is pretty slim.

The Giants receivers should have a field day against New Orleans in this one. Expect big days from Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Martellus Bennett and Eli Manning. The Giants seem to play better when people doubt them and the Saints pass defense should be a nice little remedy for the pain they’re feeling after last week’s loss to the Redskins.

Sunday Night Football

Detroit at Green Bay

With Ryan Broyles out for the season, Mike Thomas should get his chance to post a nice line this week. Let’s see if he can step up and keep defenses semi-honest against Megatron. It’s doubtful, but Thomas has shown some ability in the past.

With Jordy Nelson out yet again, it’s time for Greg Jennings and James Jones to step up for the Pack. With the backfield down to just Alex Green and the newly signed Ryan Grant, Green Bay is a safe bet to air it out against the vulnerable Lions secondary.

Monday Night Football

Houston at New England

Arian Foster is having another great season, but have you checked out his yards per carry average lately? In 2010 it was 4.9. In 2009, it was 4.4. This year, you ask? Foster is currently gaining just 3.9 yards per carry. Now, some of that is overblown since he gets so many carries inside the ten yard line, but it’s a concern with him being on pace for 378 carries this season. Do the Texans start taking it easy on him and start using Ben Tate and Justin Forsett more?

For the Pats, it’s going to be interesting to see if they use Brandon Bolden or Shane Vereen as a change of pace behind Stevan Ridley this week. Bolden was very impressive earlier this season, but an injury and a suspension derailed him. Vereen has played well of late, so let’s see how this shakes out on Monday night.

Have a great week and good luck if you’re in the playoffs!

Ken Kelly
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