Dose: McCown Puts It on 'BoysTuesday, December 10, 2013
Josh McCown was at it again in the Bears’ 45-28, Week 14 victory over the Cowboys on Monday night. If we don’t count the Bears’ final possession which resulted in a kneel-down to kill the remaining six seconds on the clock, Chicago scored all eight times they possessed the ball. McCown has been a godsend the past seven games. He’s led the Bears to a 3-2 record in his five starts in place of an injured Jay Cutler and now owns a gaudy 13:1 TD:INT ratio through his seven total appearances. If not for Nick Foles in Philadelphia, we’d be talking a lot more about the work McCown has been doing. Granted, he’s faced some weak defenses. But, hey, you go out and play who’s on the schedule.
Coach Marc Trestman reiterated after the win that Cutler remains his starting quarterback when healthy. That could be any day now. McCown is scorching hot right now. It’s going to be extremely difficult to justify taking him out of the lineup. McCown isn’t turning the ball over and is making every throw asked of him. He’s also keeping everyone involved, leaning heavily on both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Both receivers are producing like WR1s, though they were also doing that with Cutler. McCown is simply a more consistent quarterback. The team is reportedly “hopeful” of getting Cutler back for Week 15 against the Browns. He’s been ruled out early in the week the past few weeks, so we’ll consider him questionable at best for the road matchup.
The Bears have some serious short-term and long-term decisions to make at quarterback. Both McCown and Cutler are scheduled to become free agents after the season. GM Phil Emery has already said he doesn’t want to slap Cutler with the $16 million-plus franchise tag. Emery would then have to decide whether it’s worth giving Cutler an $18 million-plus-per-year long-term deal or try and work out an incentive-laden deal with 34-year-old McCown to hold down the fort for the next couple seasons while the Bears search for the quarterback of the future. Cutler has the much higher ceiling talent-wise, but is it worth all that extra money when there are major holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball? That’s why Emery gets paid the big bucks. Trestman has clearly shown he can win with McCown.
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Cowboys at Bears Quick Slants
Alshon Jeffery led the Bears in targets once again in this one. In Josh McCown’s seven games of action, Jeffery has seen 60 targets to Brandon Marshall’s 61. McCown can feed both of these guys. Both players are on the WR1 map. … Matt Forte has piled up 100-plus yards from scrimmage in seven of his last eight games. … DeMarco Murray became the sixth running back in six weeks to rush for at least 100 yards against the Bears. That streak will likely end next week when the Bears face the Browns, but this defense is horrific. … Dez Bryant hasn’t had a 100-yard receiving game since Week 7. He has a dream matchup at home against the Packers next week, but there have been plenty of cupcakes on the schedule for Bryant in recent weeks. … Jason Witten’s one-catch – though it went for a touchdown – performance was very disappointing. The Bears struggle against tight ends. Jordan Cameron gets them next. … Miles Austin and Terrance Williams continue to form a sort of committee as the No. 2 receiver. Neither player is worthy of a roster spot in re-draft leagues.
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News Nugget #1
The way Adrian Peterson was squirming around on the ground when he went down with a right foot injury in Sunday’s game against the Ravens, it looked like it was going to be a serious matter. He had to be helped to the sideline after lying on the field for several minutes. Peterson, being the superhuman being that he is, was soon up and walking around on the sideline, testing out his foot.
After the game, coach Leslie Frazier characterized his star running back’s injury as a sprained foot. The term “sprain” is loosely used in the football world and can mean a lot of different things. Peterson underwent an MRI on Monday, and the results apparently “came back great.” The dreaded Lisfranc injury has been ruled out. Peterson will undergo a CT scan to make sure the bone isn’t broken. He reportedly doesn’t need surgery but is fully expected to sit out this week against the Eagles. All in all, Peterson has apparently avoided a long-term injury and could potentially play again this season.
However, coach Frazier conceded that the Vikings’ 3-9-1 record will factor into the Vikings’ decision whether to risk playing Peterson again in 2013. Peterson has already said he plans to play again, but it may not really be worth the risk. Minnesota’s season is over and it’ll be in full-blown evaluation mode the next three weeks. Foot sprains are easy to re-aggravate. Just ask DeMarco Murray. There isn’t a whole lot to be gained by playing. Toby Gerhart will handle lead-back duties for however long Peterson is sidelined. Gerhart needs to be owned in all formats. He will see plenty of work, considering the Vikings don’t have a quarterback. Due to the expected heavy workload, Gerhart will have RB2 upside.
News Nugget #2
Rashad Jennings suffered a concussion on Thanksgiving Day. He returned to practice last week and got in a full slate of limited sessions from Wednesday through Friday. However, Jennings couldn’t gain clearance over the weekend in time to lace up against the Jets. He was a game-day inactive, and Marcel Reece shifted over from fullback to running back to post 161 total yards and one touchdown on 21 touches. He did that against one of the top run defenses in the league.
On Monday, coach Dennis Allen revealed that Jennings passed his concussion test. That means he should be cleared to play this week against the Chiefs. We’d expect Jennings to resume lead-back duties and handle much of the work out of the backfield. But considering how well Reece played and the Raiders’ stated desire to get him more touches earlier this season, we wouldn’t be surprised if he chipped in more over the final three weeks. It shouldn’t be anything close to an even timeshare, but Reece could be in for 6-8 touches per game. Jennings will be back on the RB2 radar, but keep Reece in mind when setting lineups. Reece won’t be a start-able fantasy player with Jennings back.
News Nugget #3
Wes Welker sustained his second concussion in the past four weeks Sunday against the Titans. He went low to catch a pass just before halftime and was hit by safety George Wilson, forcing Welker’s neck to crunch and bend awkwardly. Welker underwent baseline testing Monday and would have to progress through the league’s concussion protocol at a rapid rate in order to play Thursday night.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that’s “very unlikely” to happen. Welker, of course, did not practice Monday. It’s a shame he’s going to miss a dream matchup against a weak San Diego secondary. Jacob Tamme will fill in as the slot man for Denver, but he won’t be a real fantasy option. Look for Julius Thomas to dominate targets between the hashmarks, while Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker go to work on the Chargers’ outside corners. Consider Welker more week-to-week than day-to-day for now.
Quarterback/Running Back Slants
Matt McGloin will remain the Raiders’ starter the rest of the season while Terrelle Pryor mixes in here and there. It’s evaluation season. … Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) will be reevaluated Wednesday. The Packers have left the door open for his Week 15 return, though they are planning to start Matt Flynn at this point. Things can quickly change. … Coach Mike Shanahan remained noncommittal on his Week 15 starting quarterback. … Christian Ponder (concussion) has been cleared for Week 15. … Coach Mike McCarthy said it’s “too early to tell” if Eddie Lacy (ankle) will be ready for Week 15. … Jonathan Stewart has been diagnosed with a torn MCL. He’s expected to miss a couple weeks and can be dropped in re-draft leagues. … The Lions are calling Reggie Bush (calf) day-to-day. … Maurice Jones-Drew (hamstring) hopes to practice by Friday. … Willis McGahee suffered a concussion Sunday.
Wide Receiver/Tight End Slants
Keenan Allen (shoulder) was listed as a full participant in Monday’s practice. He’ll be ready to rock on Thursday night against the Broncos. … Coach Jeff Fisher is calling Tavon Austin (ankle) day-to-day. … The Bills want to get Marquise Goodwin more involved on offense over the final three games. … Kendall Wright is battling both ankle and shoulder injuries. … Da’Rick Rogers played on 41-of-60 snaps Sunday. He has WR4 appeal in re-draft leagues. … Julian Edelman played all 82 snaps Sunday. He’s going to be a major factor in the passing game with Rob Gronkowski done for the year. … The Patriots placed Rob Gronkowski (torn ACL, MCL) on injured reserve. … Delanie Walker will undergo his final concussion test Tuesday. … Kyle Rudolph (foot) was sent to injured reserve. … John Carlson suffered a concussion Sunday. … Ladarius Green ran just five routes Sunday. He’s not a reliable re-draft fantasy option. … Dennis Pitta played on 36-of-85 snaps in his first game back from hip surgery.