Patrick Daugherty

Goal Line Stand

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Week 10 Rankings

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Updated on 11/10/2013 at 12:00 PM ET. 

Contrary to popular belief, the C.J. Spiller hype didn’t come out of nowhere. Spiller finished as fantasy’s No. 7 running back last season, both by raw points and weekly average. That, along with his prodigious physical skill, underrated durability and the Bills’ new run-minded head coach made him an easy pick for top 4-5 overall value.

Only things didn’t go to plan. Having entered the season with a consecutive-games played streak of 37, Spiller totaled a disappointing 55 yards from scrimmage in Week 1. He improved to 117 yards on only 19 touches in Week 2, but things went downhill from there, as Spiller tweaked his quad in Week 3 and sprained his ankle in Week 4. The injuries coincided with Fred Jackson stinging two of the league’s best run defenses in the Jets and Ravens for 159 yards on only 23 carries (6.91 YPC). Spiller should have rested for the Bills’ Thursday night trip to Cleveland in Week 5, but instead gutted out eight carries for 66 yards, scoring a 54-yard touchdown in the process. Spiller then had 10 days to get better for Week 6, but he didn’t, looking more ragged than he did in Week 5. He still somehow managed 55 yards on 10 carries, but appeared as limited as you will ever see someone on a football field.

Again, Spiller should have rested, but again he didn’t, suiting up for Week 7. This is where his season reached its nadir. Gaining all of seven yards on nine touches, Spiller looked like an old man only capable of running in a straight line, checking himself out of the game and limping after every single carry. On his longest scamper, an 11-yarder in the first quarter, Spiller avoided contact, got to the sideline and … kept running. In so much pain he couldn’t apply the brakes, Spiller ran a solid 10-15 yards out of bounds before motioning to the trainer. For whatever reason, Spiller stayed in the game, but went to near comical lengths to avoid contact on his final eight touches. The Bills finally got the message: Their running back needed a rest.           

Spiller got one in Week 8, and lo and behold, returned rejuvenated in Week 9, rushing for a season-high 116 yards on only 12 carries (9.7 YPC) while adding two catches for an additional 39 yards. A third of Spiller’s carries gained at least eight yards, while his receptions went for 12 and 27. Spiller’s nearly unmatched change-of-direction skills appeared all the way back, providing hope for fantasy owners who have gotten next to nothing out of their first-round pick, and emboldening his coach to remove him from the Week 10 injury report. "When they're off the injury report, then I feel they're fine," Doug Marrone said Wednesday. “(As) soon as someone comes off the injury report, I'm thinking that he's full go."

The really good news? Spiller’s return to full health comes as the Bills’ schedule is softening up. Even including the Jets’ league-leading run defense, Buffalo’s final seven opponents are allowing a collective 4.2 yards per carry, and 119 rushing yards per game. When you remove the Jets, those numbers increase to 4.3 and 127. On tap for Week 10 is the Steelers, who are permitting a very un-Steeler like 4.2 yards per carry and 131.3 yards per game. Marrone sounds like a man who wants to take full advantage of Spiller’s newfound health. "I think the more we can get his hands on the ball, there's an opportunity for him to make a big play,” Marrone said Wednesday. “So that's something we're always striving for."

Spiller’s season didn’t start the way anyone wanted it to, but nevermind that. It stinks, but it happens. All that matters now is that he’s in perfect position to redeem himself. Might it be a bit too late for some fantasy owners? Yes. But can it be better later than never for a vast majority who took the first-round plunge? Absolutely. Spiller is a special talent. Special talents don’t let a bad stretch ruin their season, or Fred Jackson steal all their glory. They rise to the top, and for Spiller, the ascent should start now.     


Week 10 Quarterbacks

Rank Player Name Opponent Notes
1 Peyton Manning at SD -
2 Drew Brees vs. DAL -
3 Matthew Stafford at CHI -
4 Philip Rivers vs. DEN -
5 Tony Romo at NO -
6 Andrew Luck vs. STL -
7 Robert Griffin III at MIN -
8 Russell Wilson at ATL -
9 Cam Newton at SF -
10 Nick Foles at GB -
11 Colin Kaepernick vs. CAR -
12 Andy Dalton at BAL -
13 Jay Cutler vs. DET Questionable (groin)
14 Jake Locker vs. JAC -
15 Terrelle Pryor at NYG Probable (knee)
16 Ben Roethlisberger vs. BUF -
17 Eli Manning vs. OAK -
18 Ryan Tannehill at TB -
19 Case Keenum at ARZ -
20 Matt Ryan vs. SEA -
21 Joe Flacco vs. CIN -
22 Christian Ponder vs. WAS -
23 E.J. Manuel at PIT Questionable (knee)
24 Chad Henne at TEN -
25 Carson Palmer vs. HOU -
26 Mike Glennon vs. MIA -
27 Seneca Wallace vs. PHI -
28 Kellen Clemens at IND -


QB Notes: Peyton Manning returns from the Broncos’ bye needing to average 320 yards per game to break Drew Brees’ single-season yardage record of 5,476. Currently averaging 365, Manning is on pace for 5,838. San Diego enters Week 10 with the league’s No. 27 pass defense, allowing 275 yards per game. … Unusually, Brees enters Week 10 not on pace to break his own record, but he’s still well on track for his fourth 5,000-yard campaign. Dallas’ 31st ranked pass defense isn’t going to slow him down this weekend. Of the six 5K campaigns in NFL history, Brees owns three of them. Until 2008, Dan Marino was the lone member of the 5,000-yard club. … Matthew Stafford enters Week 10 third in average fantasy quarterback points (26.2). That’s well ahead of his disappointing 2012 average (22.8), and just a shade behind his 2011 mark (26.5). The matchup is right in Chicago’s newly mortal defense. … Not only has Philip Rivers erased all memories of his nightmarish 2012, he’s on pace for new personal bests in yards (4,946) and completion percentage (72.7). He’s also on track for 34 scores, which would tie his career high from 2008.

Coming off his second best fantasy effort of the season (25.7 points), Tony Romo must match wits with Drew Brees on the Superdome’s speedway. Romo underperformed in three straight plus matchups between Weeks 6-8, but as was the case in Week 5 against the Broncos, that won’t be an option against the Saints. A big day is coming. … Coming off a fluky zero-touchdown effort in what was otherwise one of his best starts of the season, Robert Griffin III gets a Vikings defense allowing the second most fantasy points to enemy quarterbacks. Great matchups haven’t always translated to fantasy success for RGIII this season, but the Vikings’ broken-down secondary is going to offer little-to-no resistance. Fire him up without a second thought. … Quietly fantasy’s No. 10 quarterback over the past five weeks, Russell Wilson gets a Falcons defense allowing the 10th most points to rival QBs even though it's faced only two top-15 quarterbacks. Wilson will be the third.

Why does Wilson get the call over Cam Newton? It’s not a slam-dunk decision. Newton is coming off one of the best four-game stretches of his career, but has been fattening up on the some of the league’s most wayward teams (Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, St. Louis). Now he gets a 49ers defense that’s not only playing its best football of the season, but getting Aldon Smith back. Of course, the Niners haven’t faced a quarterback as good as Newton since Weeks 2 and 3, when they lost to Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck. If Newton can keep his good thing going against the best team in football on the road, his thus far career-defining streakiness might finally be a thing of the past. … To trust Nick Foles or not to trust Nick Foles, that is the question. In the span of two starts, Foles has had perhaps the worst performance by any quarterback this season, and one of the greatest games in NFL history. Here’s guessing he’ll split the difference against the Packers, who are more susceptible to the pass than run, and won’t be able to pressure Chip Kelly’s offense by matching points in the absence of Aaron Rodgers. Even if he gets off to a slow start in Lambeau, another face-plant shouldn’t be in the cards for Foles.    

Doggedly declared a bust by every fantasy owner who couldn’t understand why he wasn’t racking up huge totals in blowout wins, Colin Kaepernick has averaged 24.9 fantasy points over his past three starts, which would rank fourth on the season behind only Manning, Brees and Stafford. Now up another weapon in the passing game with the return of Mario Manningham, Kaepernick should continue to trend in the right direction even as he squares off with one of the league’s best defenses. … In theory, as fantasy’s No. 5 quarterback over the past three weeks, Andy Dalton deserves to be higher on this list. But as anyone who saw last Thursday night’s game can attest, this isn’t necessarily a new Dalton. That being said, as anyone who’s seen Dalton over the past two years can attest, this is indeed a more dangerous fantasy quarterback than he’s been in the past. Thanks largely to the best supporting cast he’s ever had, Dalton should find himself in the top-12 more weeks than not, even if his on-paper skill-set is still top 20, at best. … Playing the best football of his career, Jake Locker gets a Jaguars defense struggling against all quarterbacks, and fresh off getting demolished by dual-threat Colin Kaepernick in Week 8. Locker is an excellent bye-week streamer.      

Terrelle Pryor (knee) is expected to be fine for Sunday’s inviting matchup with the Giants. … Eli Manning has failed time and again to take advantage of plus matchups this season, but has another one in a Raiders defense allowing a 68.7 completion percentage. He’s a high-end QB2. … Case Keenum has burst onto the scene like very few have the past few seasons, but going on the road against one of the league’s best defenses, he’ll be without his play-caller Gary Kubiak. If Keenum can keep dropping bombs under those circumstances (he already has 11 completions of 25-plus yards), we’re going to have a player flirting with QB1 value on our hands. … Does No. 19 seem unfathomably low for Matt Ryan? It is, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t earned it. The owner of a 2:7 TD:INT ratio and 5.91 yards per attempt over his past two starts, Ryan is going to be hard pressed to shake his slump against the league’s most physical secondary. … Coming off one of the better spot starts by a 34-year-old former high school coach in recent memory, Josh McCown gets a Lions pass defense allowing 273 yards per game. … Wait and see with E.J. Manuel. … Don’t bother seeing with Seneca Wallace.     

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