Pats to Employ RB Rotation?Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Stevan Ridley lost a fumble for the third game in a row in the first quarter of Sunday night’s win over the Broncos. On Monday, he called his fumbling tendencies “almost disgusting.” He’s fumbled four times this season, losing all four. Ridley was quickly forgiven by the coaching staff after the first three, but it doesn’t sound like he’s going to be thrown right back into the lead-back role after this past one. He didn’t play a single snap against Denver after putting the ball on the ground.
"When things happen like this, in back-to-back games — or in this case a few games in a row — I think you certainly have to address what you can address in terms of trying to fix the problem," OC Josh McDaniels said Tuesday. "I have great confidence in Stevan as a runner. ... At the same time, obviously, ball security is the most important factor for our offense and for our team when we have the ball."
ESPN Boston expects the Patriots to employ a rotation of sorts at the “big back” – first- and second-down back – position for the immediate future. Trusty beat writer Mike Reiss says "the days of Ridley playing a running back-high 45 percent of the offensive snaps, as he did last year, are over. Too risky.” LeGarrette Blount replaced Ridley after his fumble Sunday night. He ended up losing a fumble of his own and was sent to the bench in favor of Brandon Bolden, who was the team's passing-down back while Shane Vereen was out with his wrist injury. Bolden ended the night with 69 yards and one touchdown on 14 touches. Bolden is a backup-type player, but we’d consider him the favorite to start this week against the Texans. Ridley and Blount will be mixed in, but none of the three will be particularly enticing fantasy options. Vereen is the only back we can trust. He’s in the RB2 mix with a ton of PPR upside.
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News Nugget #2
Darren McFadden re-tweaked his hamstring in Week 9 against the Eagles and hasn’t played since. In the three-plus games since, Rashad Jennings has racked up 413 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 73 carries (5.65 YPC) while catching 15 passes for an additional 140 yards. Simply put, Jennings has been a beast for the Raiders in McFadden’s absence.
DMC returned to practice Monday, doing some running on the side. He said he feels much better. However, on Tuesday, offensive coordinator Greg Olson said the team plans to ride Jennings’ “hot hand” Thursday against the Cowboys, even though McFadden is set to return. This is wonderful news for owners who scooped Jennings up when McFadden went down. He’s been a legit fantasy starter and now has a date with one of the league’s worst run defenses. Jennings will remain a locked-in RB2. McFadden will get some touches but isn’t anything more than a shaky flex option. He could earn more touches down the stretch with a solid showing, but for now Jennings is the guy in the Oakland backfield.
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News Nugget #3
Coach Chip Kelly confirmed what we all already knew Tuesday; Nick Foles will remain the Eagles’ starting quarterback for the remainder of the season even though Michael Vick is 100 percent recovered from his hamstring injury. It’s an obvious move. Foles has dazzled in his time under center, posting a ridiculous 16:0 TD:INT ratio while completing 63.6 percent of his passes. He’s led the Eagles to five wins over their past seven games while at the controls of Kelly’s high-octane offense.
Foles will be more of a high-end QB2 play against a formidable Arizona defense in Week 13, but he has some tasty matchups on tap thereafter. He’ll get a trio of NFC North defenses that have trouble stopping opposing pass games from Weeks 14-16 – vs. Lions, at Vikings, and vs. Bears. There aren’t many other quarterbacks with a more favorable fantasy playoffs schedule. Foles will be a middling QB1 for fantasy Super Bowl matchups. In real life, he can take a big step toward securing the Eagles’ quarterback job for 2014 with solid performances. Vick will be a free agent in March.
Quarterback/Running Back Slants
Aaron Rodgers participated in individual drills for the first time since breaking his collarbone, but he still remains an extreme long shot to play Thursday. Look for him to possibly return in Week 14. … Coach Mike Shanahan brushed off talk that Robert Griffin III should be benched. It’s not going to happen. … Mark Sanchez claims he wants to remain with the Jets past 2013. That also is not going to happen. … Jay Cutler wouldn’t be upset if the Bears slapped the franchise tag on him in the offseason. … Appearing on the radio, Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell said there’s a “realistic possibility” the team re-signs free-agent-to-be Maurice Jones-Drew. He’ll come cheaply as a 29-year-old coming off a down season, but the Jaguars would be smart to move on. … Eddie Lacy (asthma) will handle his normal workload this week against the Lions on Thursday. … Benny Cunningham is the favorite to start for the Rams against the 49ers on Sunday if Zac Stacy (concussion) can’t play.
Wide Receiver/Tight End Slants
Calvin Johnson (knee) missed practice again Tuesday but said his knee is “getting better.” He’ll be fine for Thanksgiving Day against the Packers. … Percy Harvin got a rest day at Tuesday’s practice. … The 49ers officially activated Michael Crabtree (Achilles’) from the reserve/PUP list. He’s fully expected to play Sunday against the Rams. … Hakeem Nicks’ (abdomen) status for Week 13 is up in the air. … Denarius Moore (shoulder) remained sidelined, while Mychal Rivera (concussion) practiced for the second consecutive day. … Kyle Rudolph (foot) could return to practice next week.