Adam Levitan

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Boiling Broyles

Friday, November 23, 2012

Titus Young’s off-field antics and on-field unreliability got him suspended by coach Jim Schwartz for Thursday‘s game against the Texans. The play of Ryan Broyles could result in a more permanent demotion.

Before we get to Broyles’ day, let’s backtrack on Young. While at Boise State, he was suspended for most of his sophomore season after a fight with a teammate. He had a red “character issues” flag next to his name on draft day. Last season, Young was benched for a half against the Saints after a silly personal foul penalty. During the offseason program, he sucker-punched teammate Louis Delmas, one of the most respected players on the team. And then last week, he lined up wrong twice and Lions assistants were screaming at each other while arguing over whether to bench him. Young also sulks when the ball doesn’t come to him and has been criticized for running lazy routes. Other than that, he’s on the right track.

The point of the previous paragraph is that Schwartz is looking for an excuse to move on. Thursday’s suspension for conduct detrimental to the team in a must-win spot on national television spoke volumes.

So, enter Broyles. At first, the Lions said that Mike Thomas would start in place of Young. But when the starters were announced Thursday morning, it was Broyles opposite Calvin Johnson. And that’s the right choice. Thomas is an inferior player and doesn’t have the same rapport with Matthew Stafford.

"Every time I throw him the ball, he makes a play," Stafford said of Broyles last week. "Maybe I should throw it to him some more."

Stafford did just that in the overtime loss to the Texans, targeting the rookie 11 times and completing six of those for 126 yards. With Young fading to the background, Stafford showing 2011 form and Thomas in his wake, Broyles is well worth an add ahead of Week 13.

* If you just look at the box score, you’d think Justin Forsett had a great 81-yard touchdown run. He didn’t. Forsett’s knee came down on the play and the Lions stopped playing, but the refs never blew the play dead. It wasn’t reversed on replay only because Jim Schwartz threw a challenge flag on a scoring play. That’s a 15-yard penalty and means the play can’t be reviewed. It’s definitely one of the worst rules in sports and needs to change.

* The Texans played without top corner Johnathan Joseph (hamstring) and it showed. They tried Alan Ball and Kareem Jackson on Calvin Johnson with no success whatsoever. Megatron had a 5/103/1 line in the first half, so it was actually surprising he finished with “only” 8/140/1.

* Coach Mike Shanahan is in love with Alfred Morris. Not only was he the only running back to get a carry in their impressive win, but he’s also playing on third downs now. Alf is an absolute workhorse, which makes up for his lack of big-play ability.

* Felix Jones was able to play through a pair of sore knees and dominated the backfield. He couldn’t get anything going on the ground once again, but squeezed into the end zone on a 10-yard dump pass in the fourth quarter to salvage his fantasy day.

* Miles Austin went down with a strained hip flexor and is headed for a Friday MRI. Cole Beasley impressively stepped in as an every-down receiver opposite absolute monster Dez Bryant.

* Robert Griffin III is going to finish the season as fantasy’s No. 1 player. I’ve been saying it since Week 3. He put four more passing touchdowns, 311 passing yards and 29 rushing yards on the Cowboys.

* Pierre Garcon’s foot isn’t 100 percent, but he’s gutting it out in limited snaps. It was enough for a 5/93/1 line Thursday. With 10 days to rest before Week 13, Garcon is on the risk/reward radar in a big way.

* I thought Aaron Hernandez (ankle) looked very good while playing nearly every snap. He had a touchdown pass on a goal-line fade called back for offensive pass interference. LaRon Landry had no shot against him anyway.

* Just before the game, there were reports that Tim Tebow was nursing a rib injury. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t get on the field even though the Jets were down 35-3 at halftime.

* Julian Edelman took a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit and appeared to be unconscious on his way down. It’s a shame because he was shaping up as an excellent PPR play while playing in two-wide sets.

* Speaking of those two-wide sets, the Pats didn’t run many of them -- probably thanks to Rob Gronkowski’s injury. They went three-wide plenty, getting Brandon Lloyd on the field for his usual disappointing production.

* Stevan Ridley is averaging 18.7 carries per game on the season and hasn’t had less 13 totes in any game this year. What committee?

The 49ers aren’t hiding behind Alex Smith’s concussion.

ESPN reported late Thursday night that Smith has been medically cleared, but that they’re still planning to start Colin Kaepernick. Coach Jim Harbaugh said he graded Kaepernick’s debut start last week as a “A-plus-plus.” He sounds excited about the upside he can bring to the offense instead of the game managing Smith does.

Fantasy owners should be excited too. A mix between Randall Cunningham and Tim Tebow, Kaepernick has a monster statistical floor thanks to his running ability. I’d be legitimately thrilled to start him as my QB1 against the Saints Sunday.  

Percy Harvin (ankle) didn’t practice Thursday. He’s a major longshot for Sunday. … Danny Amendola (foot) still isn’t practicing. Consider him questionable. … Darren Sproles (hand) practiced in full once again. He appears ready. … Michael Vick (concussion) and LeSean McCoy (concussion) aren’t going to play Monday. Nick Foles and Bryce Brown will start. … Julio Jones (ankle) returned to practice. He’s headed for a game-time call. … Greg Jennings (groin) doesn’t have his wind yet. He’s not close to a major role.

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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