Patrick Daugherty

Football Daily Dose

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More Than A Vulture

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The vulture.

Ugly, lazy, cunning instead of clever — it’s nature’s most shameless animal, and also one of its most reviled.

The same is, of course, true in fantasy football. Vultures swoop in and reap the benefits of somebody else’s hard work.

In 2011, few have been better at it than Michael Bush. While Darren McFadden was busy piling up 610 yards on the ground through his first six games, Bush loitered on the sideline, occasionally checking in en route to running for 138 yards.  

But despite rushing for 77 percent fewer yards than McFadden, Bush was able to score nearly as many touchdowns, reaching the end zone three times to DMC’s four.

Bush’s combined distance on his three scores? Three yards.

Three touchdowns over the course of six weeks could easily be the difference between making or not making the fantasy playoffs. Quite a sad story for McFadden owners.

However, though it’s undeniable Bush has proven to be one of the leauge’s most infuriating vultures, it is not a distinction he’s earned by choice, or even merit. You see, Bush is actually a pretty decent runner, and could be a starter on many other teams. The NFL is the league, after all, where Willis McGahee, Joseph Addai and Marshawn Lynch all currently own starting jobs. But thanks in large part to McFadden’s all-world talent, Bush has been forced to toil as a backup the past four seasons.

What he’s done when on the field, though, should not be viewed through the narrow prism of “vulture.” On his 436 career rushes, Bush has gone for an average of 4.4 yards. Not elite, but impressive for someone often tasked with simply plunging up the middle.

In three starts in place of McFadden last season, Bush twice surpassed 100 yards. This brings us to Week 7. With McFadden spraining his foot just minutes into a disastrous loss to the Chiefs, Bush was forced into action. As the walls closed in on the rest of Oakland’s offense, Bush barreled through them, taking the ball 17 times for 99 yards. He was the lone bright spot on an otherwise dismal afternoon.

With DMC now appearing all but certain to sit out this weekend, Bush will be making his first start of 2011. What should you expect? Big numbers against the Broncos’ middling run defense, and production you’d take week-in and week-out if only Bush could get the work.

Bush may clean up after the kill for his day job, but in a fair world, he’d be going in for it.  

Known mostly for its disastrous play and 4:05 ET start times, the NFC West has been trying to stake a new claim to fame this season: injured quarterbacks.

Sam Bradford has missed two games with a high-ankle sprain, while Tarvaris Jackson has been held out of parts of three with a pectoral issue. But just as St. Louis and Seattle’s signal callers appear to be returning to health (both are on track to start in Week 9), Kevin Kolb is losing his.

Three days after being diagnosed with turf toe, Kolb was revealed on Wednesday to also be dealing with a “mid-foot sprain” and bone bruise. The situations has cast grave doubt on his Week 9 status, paving the way for the return of the John Skelton magical mystery tour.

If you’ve been starting Kolb in a two-QB league, take this as your opportunity to move on to greener pastures.    

On Monday, the news that breakout tight end Fred Davis was in a walking boot with an ankle injury became the latest black cloud hanging over a disintegrating Redskins offense. On Wednesday, the news that he was already out of it created a rare sigh of relief.   

Davis is not out of the woods yet, however. Although he is dealing with “just” a garden variety ankle sprain, he failed to practice yesterday and is not guaranteed to return on Thursday. He is ultimately expected to take the field against the 49ers, but will be someone to pay close attention to between now and Sunday.  

The news is less good for Davis’ newest teammate Tashard Choice, who has already been ruled out for Week 9 with the hamstring injury that played a part in his release from the Cowboys. Such an early deactivation does not bode well for his Week 10 status.

Considering the volatile state of Washington’s backfield, Choice should not be owned in any format. If you need immediate help, you should be looking elsewhere.     

Peyton Hillis just can’t do anything right these days. Less than 48 hours after blowing off a children's Halloween party he was supposed to attend, Hillis (hamstring) missed yet another practice, putting him on track to sit out for the third straight weekend.

With Montario Hardesty out with a calf injury, that leaves Cleveland with Chris Ogbonnaya and Thomas Clayton at running back. Barring an unforeseen second half renaissance, Hillis will likely find himself feeling like the kids he stood up on Monday when it comes time to negotiate a new deal this winter.

Already considered a long-shot to play this weekend after injuring his groin in Monday’s embarrassing loss, Ryan Mathews’ odds of suiting up against the Packers grew longer when he failed to practice Wednesday. Unless he makes a surprise return to full participation this afternoon, he should sit out while a finally healthy Mike Tolbert (hamstring) carries the load against one of the league’s stingier defenses.

Elsewhere in the Chargers backfield, Curtis Brinkley (concussion) has yet to pass his baseline test, and will almost certainly miss Week 9. … "Swollen and sore,” Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) did not practice Wednesday. Not a huge concern after he played through the injury on Sunday, but it will be a red flag if he’s not at least limited today. … According to respected beat writer John McClain, Houston does not “have a clue right now" if Andre Johnson (hamstring) will play this weekend. With the Texans bye coming in Week 11, it’s hard to see them forcing their all-world receiver out there on Sunday. … Two weeks after being released by the Rams, Mike Sims-Walker (knee) landed on injured reserve Wednesday. Just two years removed from an 869-yard season, his NFL career could be over. … Despite missing practice Wednesday, Beanie Wells (knee) is expected to play hurt for the second straight week. … Mark Ingram (heel) is uncertain for Week 9 after missing another practice Wednesday. … Daniel Thomas (hamstring) was limited, but it’s too early to tell if he’ll return on Sunday.  

Looking for second-half sleepers or guys who underperformed in the first eight weeks who should turn things around? Check out Gregg Rosenthal on Wednesday night's NBC Sports Talk on Versus.

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

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