For the first time in three weeks (since losing Alex Mack), the Browns were able to run the ball. Against Cincinnati’s 31st-ranked run defense, the rushing yards came pretty easy as all three of Cleveland’s back found success. Whether you had Terrance West, Isaiah Crowell, or Ben Tate on your fantasy team, you came out alright.
If you were stuck with A.J. Green, Jeremy Hill, or, Lord help you, Andy Dalton, it was not such a great night, to say the least. Good news though: I can help you rebound. Read on!
As always though, we’ll start with the few of you still in your survivor pool(s). (Though if you’ve made it this far, you probably have not done so by listening to me.)
Sure Bet: The Browns’ Thursday night game against Cincinnati was quite possibly the first in a series of lopsided games this week, but the time has come when your survivor options are probably beginning to dwindle. You have probably already chosen the Patriots, Broncos, Colts, Seahawks, Packers, etc., and the choices are only going to get tougher and riskier.
This week, one good option might be the Baltimore Ravens. Unreliable up to this point, the Ravens get to play the hapless, Mettenberger-led Titans in week 10. The Titans might be the worst team in their division, and considering they play in the same division as the Jaguars and Texans, that is pretty darn sad.
If you still have them as options, you could also bet on Dallas (over Jacksonville in London), Arizona (over St. Louis at home), and Denver (over Oakland on the road). If you can do none of these, consider Green Bay to make it 11-of-12 against Jay Cutler, or the Philadelphia “Sanchise” to best Carolina at home.
Not So Fast: My upset pick for the week is the Miami Dolphins to go into Ford Field and take down the Detroit Lions.
Let’s face it, the Lions should be on a two-game losing streak. They pulled off miracle wins against New Orleans and Atlanta in consecutive weeks, but also lost to Buffalo not so long ago. You might say, “Well, they didn’t have Megatron.” To which I ask, “How did they lose to Carolina then?” Detroit’s only truly impressive win came in week three against Green Bay—a result for which I still have no explanation.
Miami, meanwhile, is hot—and I am not talking about the city; I am talking about the Phins. The Dolphins shut down and shut out a good San Diego football team last week—this on the heels of consecutive wins against Jacksonville and Chicago, and a tough, close loss to Green Bay. Miami has won four of their past five games (with the three-point loss to Green Bay being the outlier), and in that stretch have outscored their opponents 153-68.
Look for a defensive struggle in this game, as the top-ranked Lions defense meets the No. 3 Miami unit. I like Miami on the road.
On a less confident note, don’t sleep on Mike Vick and the Jets hosting Pittsburgh either.
Surprise Performer: It has been a while since I spotlighted a tight end in this section of the mission briefing, so how ’bout this: Owen Daniels is my surprise performer this week.
Daniels rebounded uncharacteristically quickly from a knee scope a few weeks ago that cost him week eight. Returning in week nine, Daniels posted six receptions for 53 yards in a bad loss to Pittsburgh, but also played on 52 of 67 snaps. Not bad for a notoriously injury-prone player coming off a knee scope at age 32!
Tennessee’s defense is bound to spend a lot of time on the field with Zach Mettenberger operating the offense; that translates to Daniels getting plenty of opportunities, especially considering Gary Kubiak’s tendency to feature tight ends. With only Crockett Gilmore behind him, Daniels has exclusive rights to that pass-catching tight-end role in the Ravens offense.
Disaster Waiting to Happen: This just in: don’t start any Bengals players!
Too late for that, but you can cut your losses by benching Michael Crabtree this week.
Crabtree has not scored since week six, and has a season-high of 82 yards, posted way back in week two. Since then, the 49ers offense has plummeted to 18th in the league, with the passing game settling in at 21st overall. The play-calling does not benefit Michael Crabtree, and he has not had more than five catches since week three.
Another poor start is any Rams running back. Arizona’s run defense is terrifyingly good. They are unrelentingly consistent, limiting opposing offenses to just over 79 rushing yards per game—good for third in the NFL. They are the only team thus far to keep DeMarco Murray under the century mark (holding him to—you guessed it—79 yards), so they should not have any trouble with Tre Mason, Benny Cunningham, Zac Stacy, or whatever tailback Jeff Fisher rustles out of the bushes.