As we enter Week 12, the revolving door that is the running back position and the return of a superstar wide receiver co-headline this little show of ours.
Let’s start with the return of the NFL’s answer to Willie Nelson — Josh Gordon. The extremely talented, yet oft suspended receiver, smoked defenses and lit up the NFL to lead the league in receiving yards last season, despite missing two games. Browns coach Mike Pettine says he’s going to ease Gordon back into the lineup this week. That makes about as much sense as Brad Paisley giving up the guitar to become a world-renowned oboe player. It’s not going to happen. If you were smart enough to stash Gordon on your bench (something I suggested many weeks ago), put him in your line-up this week and maniacally laugh as he torches the Falcons on Sunday.
Moving on to the running backs…if you still have your two top backs from draft day take a bow. You got lucky. Between suspensions, injuries, releases and coaches who like to play the hot hand, it’s become even more difficult to sort out who to start each week.
Let me attempt to figure it all out. It appears we are finally nearing closure on Adrian Peterson (as expected, he ain’t coming back this year), so Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata will continue to underwhelm in Minnesota, right? Wrong. They might be taking a backseat to newly signed Ben Tate who the Browns released on Tuesday. Both McKinnon and Asiata are banged up so Tate may be thrown into the fire right away. As a fantasy owner I’m thinking, “If he couldn’t hack it in Cleveland, what makes you think he can do better on a far worse team?” I’d only pick him up if I was desperate.
Last week’s big injury to Ahmad Bradshaw means that Trent Richardson will return as featured back for the Colts, which means, expect Andrew Luck to throw the ball even more than he already does. Seriously, there’s more of a chance that a massive tickle fight will occur at a Florida Georgia Line show than there is of Richardson actually putting up decent numbers. Again, only pick him up if you are truly desperate.
With the aforementioned Tate gone in Cleveland, Isaiah Crowell will get the nod with Terrance West nipping at his heels. Crowell might be worth stashing on your bench (if you have room). I’d still wait to see how the situation works itself out before giving him a start.
Finally, we have the New England Patriots and their mystery triangle of backs. Bill Belichick loves his running backs. He also loves to keep teams (and fantasy owners) in the dark as to who may or may not be seeing much action from week to week. When Stevan Ridley went down in Week 6 everyone thought that FINALLY there was a clear No. 1 – Shane Vereen. NOPE. Insert undrafted rookie Jonas Gray who last week went off for 200 yards and four touchdowns. So is Gray now the go-to guy? Who knows? It could still be Vereen. That’s why I stay away from Pats running backs. Making the mystery triangle even more, um, mysterious, the Pats re-signed the recently released LeGarrette Blount. I think at this point I’d have more faith in starting Trent Richardson than any Patriots running back. TICKLE FIGHT!!!
Bye, Bye Week
And so the final bye week is upon us. But let’s not all be sad about it. We must press on and discover that the Steelers and Panthers get to spend their Sunday playing hopscotch and skipping rope (well, you know they won’t be out there helping Buffalo dig out from under the eight feet of snow that continues to befall the home of my Bills). Make sure Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Heath Miller, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart, Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen are all on your bench. To be honest with the exception of Olsen and Benjamin, you really shouldn’t be using anyone on Carolina even when they are playing.
Victory is Mine
Last week my Takin’ Bills (team name officially approved by Angeleena Presley during this week’s #CMchat Humpday Hookup) did something it hadn’t done in six weeks – Win. I had almost forgotten what that felt like. Suddenly, food tasted better. Flowers smelled flowerier. Beer tasted the same…it’s always awesome. Heck, I even enjoyed listening to the latest Hunter Hayes cd. Barring catastrophe, I should be able to keep the winning ways going this week as I face one of the few teams in the league who has a worse record than mine. Yahoo! sure thinks I’m going to win as their “projections” have me winning by 30 points. As I’ve said in previous columns, I take little stock in projections. I should win by 50.
Well, that’s all my feeble mind can think of for this week. Hit me up @sneezeguard with questions, advice, hate mail, whatever really. Good luck this week, unless you’re playing one of my teams.