Adam Levitan

Football Daily Dose

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Out with Orton

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The neckbeard is on the move again.

The Broncos surprisingly waived Kyle Orton Tuesday afternoon, presumably in hopes that someone claims the remaining $2.58 million on his contract. It was clear that Tim Tebow is starting the rest of the year and Brady Quinn had supplanted Orton as the backup.

Of course, the timing of this release is not coincidental. When word broke that Jay Cutler had a fractured thumb, Orton’s agent reportedly pushed for the release. Orton was drafted by the Bears and although he has never played in a Mike Martz system, he does have some level of familiarity in Chicago.

Now here’s where it gets tricky. The Bears have the No. 30 waiver claim. If the Colts or Chiefs are actually trying to win, they’ll put in a claim and upgrade their rancid quarterback situation. Other teams could simply block the Bears by claiming Orton and then collect a compensatory pick if he walks as a free agent after the season. Note that the Texans are not expected to put a claim in -- they are all-in with Matt Leinart.

But most importantly for our purposes, the Bears are expected to roll with Caleb Hanie as their starter no matter what. Even if they are awarded Orton, he’ll serve as the backup.

So we proceed as scheduled here. Hanie is worth an add as a weak QB2 thanks to his strong arm and athletic ability. Earl Bennett and any other Bears receiver you were trotting out need to be downgraded. And Matt Forte is still going to be an absolute workhorse. Neckbeard or no neckbeard.

The Redskins are a ship without a rudder. Tashard Choice lasted a few short weeks with the team, appearing in one game and carrying the ball six times. Tuesday, he was cut and rookie Evan Royster was promoted from the practice squad.

The most mind-blowing aspect of this whole mess is Mike Shanahan’s reluctance to just give the ball to his most talented back, Roy Helu. He used to do it in Denver all the time. But on Monday, he had this to say about Helu: "I don't want to put too much pressure on him too early. He's not ready for that."

Helu is a still a must-hold, especially now that Choice is out of the mix. Perhaps Shanny will eventually see that his season is in the toilet and decide it’s time to let all the young kids play full time.

To the surprise of no one, Kevin Smith operated as the first-team running back at Lions practice Tuesday. He’ll start Thursday’s showdown with the Packers and Jahvid Best (concussions) still has no timetable for a return.

While Smith will certainly get his chance as the best fit in this offense, let’s not start thinking we have a season-saver here for fantasy teams. Last week’s game came against the Panthers, Smith wasn’t exactly elite even before his injuries and carrying a load on a week-to-week basis is a lot to ask a guy that last had 20 touches in game during Week 14 of the 2009 season.

Think solid plug-n-play more than savior.

James Starks (knee, ankle) is headed for a game-time call Thursday. … LaDainian Tomlinson (knee) had a setback. Joe McKnight is on track to be the third-down back behind a healthy Shonn Greene (ribs). … Matt Hasselbeck (elbow) is expected to start Sunday. … The Giants don’t sound optimistic on Ahmad Bradshaw (foot). … Joseph Addai’s (hamstring) status remains cloudy.

Greg Jennings (knee) is a go for Thanksgiving. … Donald Jones (ankle) is out for the year. … Darrius Heyward-Bey is dealing with both a concussion and neck issues. He’s in doubt for Week 12. … Calvin Johnson has a little ankle tweak, but it’s not a concern. … Miles Austin (hamstring) won’t play Thursday, meaning another start for Laurent Robinson. … Emmanuel Sanders (knee) returned to practice Monday, but his role is unclear.

The Vikings said they will give Percy Harvin a bump in touches while Adrian Peterson is out. … Steve Smith (Eagles) played just seven snaps last week. Riley Cooper is the handcuff to Jeremy Maclin. … BenJarvus Green-Ellis led the backfield in snaps Monday night. That’s what happens when the Patriots get a lead. … The Steelers are expected to go shotgun-heavy to protect Ben Roethlisberger’s fractured thumb. They’ll air it out. … The Titans are blaming the run game’s Week 11 faceplant on the offensive line. Seems like they’ll stick with Chris Johnson.

This week marks the trade deadline in a lot of fantasy leagues. Hot stove time! A look at the market:
1. Josh Freeman, QB, Bucs -- The decimation at the quarterback position likely has a bunch of owners scrambling. Freeman is a guy you can get on the cheap that won’t have to contend with weather issues down the stretch. He also has two matchups with the Panthers left, one of which comes in fantasy Super Bowl week. With a fully healed thumb, Freeman lit up the Packers for 342 yards and two touchdowns last week.

Bonus buy: LeGarrette Blount -- I don’t think he’s very good at all, but he gets the Panthers twice. The Panthers made Chris Johnson and Kevin Smith look like Jim Brown.

2. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals -- Look past this little knee hyperextension and look toward the fantasy playoffs. In Week 15, Green faces the Rams and then he gets the Cardinals in Week 16. Buy him, hope he sits out another week or two and then ride him.

3. Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings -- Adrian Peterson’s ankle injury is Harvin’s gain. He’ll get even more reps as a traditional I-formation tailback now and the Vikings are finally promising to feature him. They don’t really have a choice -- he’s the only playmaker they have.

1. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs -- Tyler Palko has an overcooked noodle for an arm. Use Bowe’s good game Monday night against a brutal Patriots secondary to get what you can.

2. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks -- I can’t really explain how beast mode is suddenly back, but I know not to believe in it. Although Lynch has a touchdown in six straight games, he also is averaging just 3.8 yards per carry on the year. And in Weeks 15 and 16, he’ll face the Bears and Niners.

3. Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins -- This is Bush’s sixth year in the league and now he’s finally excelling as a between-the-tackles, goal-line and feature back? Not only does his effectiveness figure to wane in this role, but he’s a major injury risk. And the Dolphins have Daniel Thomas right there ready to siphon carries. 

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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