Patrick Daugherty

Football Daily Dose

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Court Adjourned?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Heading into Week 5, there was no hotter waiver pick up than Stevan Ridley.

The Patriots’ third-round pick was coming off a 10-carry, 97-yard performance, while BenJarvus Green-Ellis, despite turning in what had then been his best game of the season in Week 4, appeared to be fading quickly into the background.

But as so often happens in fantasy football, the script was flipped before owners had time to so much as wonder why their newest addition spelled his rather common first name in such an uncommon fashion.

Ridley carried the ball seven times for just 13 yards in New England’s Week 5 win over the Jets as Green-Ellis shredded Gang Green’s once proud run defense for a career-high 136 yards and two touchdowns.

The Law Firm ran angry, and looked like a man with every intention of holding onto a job he laid claim to in 2010.

Clarity, right?

Of course not. One day after being limited in Patriots practice with a toe injury, Green-Ellis was downgraded to out on Thursday. Few things are more ominous for a player’s status than a mid-week downgrade, and just five days after throwing a wrench into everybody’s plans, the Law Firm instead appears ready to issue Ridley’s ascension a continuance.     

So one week after the fact, is Ridley ready for a post-hype breakout?

Unfortunately — or as usual — the answer is not so clear. The rookie will have New England’s power runs all to himself if Green-Elllis cannot go, but will be dealing with Dallas’ No. 1 ranked run defense.

He should also have to contend with something Green-Ellis didn’t in Week 5, an active Danny Woodhead. There’s no question Ridley’s arrow is pointing back up, but at this stage it’s hard to say he’s a surer bet than someone like Kansas City's Jackie Battle.

With Green-Ellis likely to be either out or diminished and six teams on bye this weekend, Ridley will be worth getting into lineups. But even if he shines, there’s no guarantee he won’t again find himself stuck in a rotation when the Patriots come off their bye in Week 8.

When both LeGarrette Blount (knee) and Joseph Addai (hamstring) missed practice Wednesday, it suggested neither would be available for Week 6.

When they both sat out again on Thursday, it all but ensured it. Starting in Blount’s place will be Earnest Graham, whom we learned all about on Wednesday.

Spelling Addai will be a combination of rookie Delone Carter and disappointing former first-round pick Donald Brown.

Although Carter appears to have the clearer path to carries, HC Jim Caldwell has hinted Brown will not be forgotten like he was in Weeks 1 through 5. Going up against a surprisingly stout Bengals’ run defense, neither is an inspiring fantasy start this weekend.

According to the Denver Post, the Broncos have placed Brandon Lloyd on the trade block. This, of course, is smart. A 30-year-old journeyman whose previous career high for catches was 48 before former HC Josh McDaniels turned him into an out-of-nowhere superstar last season, Lloyd would not be a wise long-term investment for a team turning the page in nearly all phases while making the transition to a run-based offense.

They are best off trading their formerly valueless asset while he still has any. With so many teams deficient at receiver, the interest in his services could prove to be robust heading into Tuesday’s trade deadline.

Although Steelers OC Bruce Arians has declared things “back to normal” in his backfield, he’s also intimated Rashard Mendenhall (hamstring) may not be in for his typical compliment of carries this weekend. … Daniel Thomas (hamstring) has guaranteed he will be ready for Miami’s Monday night tilt with the Jets. … Jason Hill (thigh) returned to full practice Thursday and is in no danger of missing Week 6. … Aaron Hernandez (knee) declared himself "healthy and ready to go.” He’s Rotoworld’s eighth-ranked tight end this week. … Lee Evans (ankle) was downgraded to out at Ravens’ practice Thursday. At this point, it’s growing difficult to recommend holding onto him in any format.

FANTASY GAME OF THE WEEK: Dallas at New England
Any time you have either of these two teams, you already have one half of an explosive fantasy matchup. Mix them together, and you have a recipe for real fireworks.

Throw in the fact that Tony Romo, Felix Jones, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Aaron Hernandez are all rounding back to full health, and you have a game that should feature more touchdowns than punts.

After posting 16.9 fantasy points (per standard scoring rules) in just one half of play after wresting the Broncos’ starting quarterback job away from Kyle Orton last weekend, Tim Tebow will be looking to follow up a 2010 where he averaged 217 passing yards and 66.3 rushing yards in three starts while finding the end zone seven total times. He’ll just be doing so in Week 7. A bummer for all those who rushed out to add him last Sunday, but still something to look forward to.

Horrific mechanics and long-term NFL prospects aside, Tebow represents the kind of midseason fantasy savior that almost never arrives at the quarterback position. It will likely be ugly to watch on television, but the roto results should be hard to argue with.

We’ve already seen one team (the Cowboys) deal with a quartet of injured fantasy studs all at once, and the Chargers would have been the second had they not been on bye this week.

Alas, Ryan Mathews (calf), Mike Tolbert (concussion), Vincent Jackson (hamstring) and Antonio Gates should all be good to go for Week 7, with only Gates representing a real question mark.  

Big game: Philadelphia 27, Washington 13. With desperation setting in for the NFL’s “Dream Team,” they’ll ease by a Redskins club that looked anything but crisp in its Week 4 win over the Rams.

Big game II: New England 38, Dallas 21. Dallas has the league’s top ranked run defense, but its pedestrian passing unit won’t be enough to slow down Tom Brady. Not even New England’s pathetic secondary will be enough to keep Dallas in the game.

Upset of the week: 49ers 21, Lions 17. Picking against the Lions didn’t work so well last week, but coming off yet another maddeningly inconsistent performance against the Bears, the explosive but sloppy Motown Maulers will finally get their wake-up call.

The I really don’t have a clue but will pretend I do game: Baltimore 31, Texans 17. The Ravens could not have looked more out-of-sync offensively in their Week 4 win over the Jets, but should be able to dole out some punishment at home against a team missing Andre Johnson and adjusting to life without Mario Williams.  

Patrick Daugherty is a football and baseball writer for He can be found on Twitter .
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