Unless your league awards points for eye-opening de-cleater blocks, Larry Fitzgerald had an awful night. The sad part is that he never had a shot.
Just four days after he struggled to get dressed in the locker room due to dual hamstring injuries, Fitzgerald posted two catches for 15 yards on five targets in Thursday’s 34-22 loss to the Seahawks. If he was at 70 percent, I’d be surprised. He couldn’t push off the line of scrimmage, couldn’t separate, couldn’t leap and couldn’t run away from anyone. He didn’t play every snap and didn’t line up outside very often. Yes, Fitzgerald saw a lot of dominant shutdown CB Richard Sherman, but it wouldn’t have mattered – Larry couldn’t move well enough.
Of course, this is going to send owners into a panic mode. And that’s our cue to send out some buy-low offers. Fitzgerald will have 10 days to get his hamstrings right for a dreamy Week 8 matchup against the Falcons. Then he’ll rest even more during the Week 9 bye before seeing the following schedule: vs. HOU, at JAX, vs. IND, at PHL, vs. STL. The only drawback is a Week 16 rematch with the Legion of Boom, but there’s definitely enough value here to make an acquisition.
CARSON NEARLY BENCHED
Carson Palmer’s arm is shot, he feels pressure that’s not there, moves like a hippo and consistently throws gut-punching interceptions. After his second interception Thursday night, it looked like Bruce Arians thought about going to Drew Stanton (he didn’t). Still, it’s not like we can’t expect quality performances against the Niners and Seahawks. Palmer will be much better against the aforementioned upcoming soft schedule. He’ll at least be productive enough to keep Fitzgerald as a WR1.
SEAHAWKS at CARDINALS QUICK SLANTS
Andre Ellington (five touches for 13 yards) didn’t play nearly as many snaps as I thought he would, although he did see some red-zone targets. It was not good that he lost garbage-time stats to pass-protecting specialist Alfonso Smith. … Michael Floyd is a good, physical receiver. He’ll be consistent but not explosive. … The Cardinals can’t block anyone and Rashard Mendenhall (13/22/1) can’t make anyone miss. It’s an awful combo. … Russell Wilson is so efficient in the red zone. In his two-year career, he has thrown 37 touchdowns and been intercepted 14 times. Combine that with his running skills and we have a back-end QB1 weekly. … Marshawn Lynch was about one foot away from a second touchdown. He looks incredibly fresh and powerful. … Don’t go overboard on Zach Miller’s 5/40/1 line. The Cardinals get torched by TEs weekly.
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NEWS OF THE DAY #1
There are a lot of frustrated owners out there that used a first-round pick on C.J. Spiller. Through six weeks, he’s fantasy’s No. 28 running back and is averaging 4.17 YPC. Over the previous three seasons, Spiller averaged 5.38 YPC.
We can certainly blame Doug Marrone for not having Chan Gailey’s creative offensive mind, and therefore not getting Spiller in space. Maybe we can blame the offensive line. Perhaps we can even blame Spiller himself. But one thing is certain: If Spiller is going to turn this thing around, he’s going to have get his ankle right. And it sounds like he’s on his way.
Spiller said the ankle he sprained in Week 4 is “definitely healing” and added he hasn’t sustained any setbacks.
"I definitely wasn't 100 percent,” Spiller said of Week 6, when he played on just 19 snaps. “It's all about having that confidence to cut off it and that's the biggest hurdle I face each week going into the game. It definitely felt better than last week, but I still feel like I'm not exploding like I normally do."
OK, so that’s clearly a big problem. But the schedule brings a little help. Over the next five weeks, the Bills will face the Dolphins (No. 15 run defense), Saints (21), Chiefs (23) and Steelers (22). Spiller, who did practice on a limited basis Thursday, says he expects to be 100 percent before the Week 12 bye.
Selling low on a guy as talented and explosive as Spiller isn’t going to get us anywhere. Get the ankle right, get into the soft part of the schedule, get to the bye and go from there. Spiller is just a timeshare back and borderline RB2 for me this week, but things are going to get better.
NEWS OF THE DAY #2
The Titans are reportedly optimistic that they’ll get 15-20 snaps out of Shonn Greene (knee) this week. That’s interesting on a number of levels.
First and most obviously, it’s not great news for Chris Johnson. He’s going to lose a series or two per game, and we know he’s not going to get the goal-line work. And what if Greene actually runs well? Johnson is averaging 3.08 YPC this year and has one run of 20+ yards. He’s not earning his 17.6 carries per game.
Of course, a Titans schedule that’s been absolutely brutal is about to lighten up in a big way. After the Week 8 bye, Johnson and Greene will face STL, JAX, IND, OAK, IND, DEN, ARZ and JAX (Week 16, fantasy Super Bowl week). It’s possible that both Johnson and Greene can help us in some of these dream matchups.
NEWS OF THE DAY #3
Let’s say you had a toddler and wanted to teach him how to ride a bike. So you book a flight to France, take him to the Alps, hand him a helmet and push him off the peak of the Alpe d’Huez. Seems rational, right? That’s kind of what the Texans are doing to Case Keenum.
Keenum is the NCAA’s all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns and completions, but he went undrafted in April because he’s 6’1/208, lacks arm strength and was labeled as a system quarterback coming out of the University of Houston. And now, with Matt Schaub (ankle/foot) out and T.J. Yates appearing inept, the Texans will give Keenum his first NFL action at Kansas City Sunday.
It’s a brutal environment for any quarterback. Arrowhead is arguably the NFL’s loudest stadium, the Chiefs have the league’s No. 7 real-life defense and No. 1 fantasy defense by a wide margin. You shouldn’t need us to tell you to downgrade Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins and Garrett Graham.
INJURY QUICK SLANTS: QUARTERBACK AND RUNNING BACK
Steven Jackson’s hamstring injury has lingered far longer than the Falcons anticipated. He remains without a timetable, leaving Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling to carry the mail … Jake Locker (hip, knee) has been cleared for contact. He should be back by Week 9. … Michael Vick says his hamstring injury is way worse than he originally thought and he can’t burst. He’s out for Week 7 and possibly beyond. … Shane Vereen (wrist) has ditched his hard cast and appears on track to play Week 11. I’m stashing him where I can – he would have had a monster season as the Joker if not for his injury. … Andre Brown (leg) is another guy on short-term IR I’d stash. He has resumed practicing.
INJURY QUICK SLANTS: WIDE RECEIVER AND TIGHT END
Calvin Johnson (knee) got another practice in and reportedly looked good. He’s going to play better this week. … Percy Harvin (hip surgery) was my No. 2 add at WR in Waiver Wired this week. Monday, there were reports he could be back as soon as Week 8. … Mike Williams (hamstring) continues to practice on a limited basis and is on track to play. … Cecil Shorts (SC sprain) is still having pain when raising his arm, but the Jags claim he’ll be a game-time call. I don’t buy it. … Stevie Johnson (back) is practicing in full and is ready to go, but he’s in a tough spot vs. Brent Grimes and has Thad Lewis at QB. … Roddy White (hamstring, ankle) remains out of practice and unlikely to play. It’s the Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez show this week. … James Jones (knee) still isn’t practicing. Jarrett Boykin is going to be an every-down play catching balls from Aaron Rodgers. That should make the hairs on your neck stand up at least a little. … Guys knocked unconscious like Danny Amendola was in Week 6 almost never get cleared for the next week. Look for Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson to be Tom Brady’s top targets again. … There’s nothing new on Rob Gronkowski (forearm). He’ll play when Dr. James Andrews clears him. That could be this week, or it could be 1-2 weeks down the line. We should know by Saturday.
DEPTH CHART QUICK SLANTS
The Chiefs say they expect Jamaal Charles’ workload to increase. Crazy. He’s on pace for 392 touches at 5’11/199. … Miles Austin took a rest day Thursday after struggling through his Week 6 return. I’d rather start a healthy Terrance Williams. … Mike Munchak claims he still wants Kenny Britt to play 20 snaps a game. I don’t believe him. The only reason to hold Britt for us is in case of a trade. … The rumors of a Josh Gordon trade for a second-round pick continue to persist. I still doubt the Browns pull the trigger. Gordon is too good.