Adam Levitan

Football Daily Dose

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Fried Rice

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ray Rice was made to be the scapegoat for the Ravens’ offensive misery last night. He uncharacteristically lost a fumble, had another one overturned by review, got blown up in blitz pickup and averaged just 3.5 yards per carry. The ESPN cameras caught him sitting all alone on the bench at one point in the first half while Ricky Williams got a series all to himself. Big deal.

Just about every team and player is going to lay an egg at one point or another of the course of a 16-game season, and Monday night’s stinker was it for Rice and the Ravens. The reason there’s no need to panic is because Rice is a rare breed in today’s NFL. He’s the early-down back, passing-down back and goal-line back. On top of that, he’s a special talent in terms of elusiveness and power. If anyone is selling on Rice this week, we should be buying.

Virtually all of Baltimore’s offense came with the Jaguars in a dime defense late in the game. They didn’t even have a first down in the first half. … Surprised I’m saying this, but Joe Flacco really misses Lee Evans. None of his other receivers can get open. Maybe Evans can. … Mike Sims-Walker was active in his return to Jacksonville, but played behind Jason Hill. Both belong on waivers. … Mike Thomas had a bigger impact in the return game than as a receiver. He’s really just a slot receiver on a good team, but is miscast as a No. 1 receiver in Jacksonville.

Marcedes Lewis is not the same player as last year. Hate to say it, but it looks like his 2010 campaign was all about the contract push. … No, I’m not adding Josh Scobee. He’s good, but the offense isn’t. … Have to be impressed by how healthy and effective Maurice Jones-Drew has been this year. He’s taken on the Bengals, Steelers and Ravens the last three weeks and emerged with 286 rushing yards. … Blaine Gabbert has great hair. Yet somehow, he’s a long way from being a great quarterback. Strange.

Editor’s Note: For early rankings, projections, the Running Back report, the top-200 going forward list and much more, check out the Season Pass!

The Redskins’ offense is thin. And it just got a whole lot thinner. Tim Hightower is done for the season with a torn left ACL and Santana Moss is out 5-7 weeks with a fractured left hand.

Look for Ryan Torain to serve as the primary early-down back and Roy Helu to be used as a change-of-pace/third-down back going forward. That is, until Torain gets hurt. At that point, Helu will get his chance to be a difference-maker. Make sure both are owned in all formats.

The new No. 1 option in the passing game will be Fred Davis. Jabar Gaffney is going to see a bump in targets, but he’s not good enough to separate against No. 1 corners or do anything with the ball after the catch. Niles Paul and Anthony Armstrong will rotate on the outside and Terrence Austin is the slot man. Yawn.

The news on Matthew Stafford was mostly good on Monday. He didn’t injure his knee and his ankle sprain is not of the “high” variety. Still, Stafford is going for a second opinion, which inherently assumes that the first opinion was not good. He was also in a walking boot. Stafford is officially day to day, but Shaun Hill needs to be owned. He averaged 259.8 yards passing and tossed 16 touchdowns in 10 starts a year ago.

Willis McGahee underwent surgery on his fractured hand and is out at least 1-2 weeks. In Sunday’s win over the Broncos, Knowshon Moreno got nine touches and Lance Ball got six. That’s about the split to expect going forward, with Moreno getting the nod as the starter and passing-down back. The real issue is that Tim Tebow will be the Broncos’ goal-line back going forward, capping the upside off all these backs.

Beanie Wells does not need surgery on his knee, but it’s the same one he had surgically repaired last year. So the reported bone bruise he suffered is a real concern. He’ll almost certainly miss this week and then be week to week after that -- and we all know that Beanie has an earned reputation of not playing well through injury. Alfonso Smith will be the lead back in a committee with LaRod Stephens-Howling and Chester Taylor in the meantime. They will only be desperation options with the Ravens’ on deck.

Darren McFadden has a mid-foot sprain and the hope is he’s ready after the bye. … Antonio Gates (foot) came out of his return healthy. … Felix Jones (ankle) won’t play in Week 8. It’s the DeMarco Murray show. … Marshawn Lynch (back) is uncertain for Week 8. … Sebastian Janikowski (hamstring) is expected back after the Raiders’ bye. … Greg Jennings is dealing with a mere hand bruise, not a fracture. … Danario Alexander is set for an MRI on his hamstring. … Braylon Edwards (knee) is expected back this week. … Sam Bradford’s (ankle) status is unknown. … Mark Ingram (heel) just has a bruise, but it’s worth noting that Chris Ivory (foot) is ready to return. … Percy Harvin is going for an MRI on his ribs. He can’t be trusted. … Brandon Jacobs (knee) returned to practice Monday. … Earnest Graham (Achilles) is done for the season.

Leon Washington is ahead of Justin Forsett as Marshawn Lynch’s backup. … Hines Ward’s ankle seems to be OK, but the Steelers may want to give Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders more reps regardless. … Coach Pat Shurmur hinted that Montario Hardesty will have a role even when Peyton Hillis (hamstring) gets healthy. Hillis is day to day. … The Titans still reportedly have no plans to bring in Terrell Owens. … Victor Cruz is still drawing the ire of coaches for inconsistency. He’s the clear No. 3 wideout.

Editor’s Note: Sick of your team yet? Get a new one and win real cash with SnapDraft!

Adding a different defense/special teams each week based on matchups is a fine strategy. Here are units that might be on waivers to consider this week for streaming purposes:

1. GIANTS vs. Dolphins - This unit may have been dropped as they were on a bye last week. But with Justin Tuck now healthy and Matt Moore looking inept, they should be scooped back up quickly. The Giants are tied for the league lead in sacks with 21 even though they’ve already had a bye.  

2. 49ERS vs. Browns - The Niners were also on a bye last week, and they pose the same problems for Colt McCoy that the Seahawks did last week. This time, the Browns are on the road and may not have Mohamed Massaquoi or Ben Watson due to concussions.

3. BENGALS at Seahawks - Yes, a third team off a bye. The Bengals have the  No. 1 defense in the league in terms of yards allowed and will feast on either Tarvaris Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst.

Adam Levitan is in his sixth season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
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