NFL Real Talk: Week 10

Like an all-white rap group, thinking your 2-7 team can make the playoffs is sad
Photo Credit: Artist Management

As we enter Week 10, it’s become pretty clear in your league who are the contenders and who are the… not-contenders. If you find that your team is the latter, make like the House of Pain and “pack it up, pack it in.” While some believe that there is some dignity in playing the role of spoiler, the truth is there ain’t. Sure there are some rare circumstances where it seems right to go all-out until season’s end, like when your sworn fantasy sports nemesis has their playoff life hanging in the balance in Week 13 and you have the chance to knock them off. Yet there’s two things embarrassing about that scenario. First, you have a fantasy sports nemesis (nerd alert; someone needs to get laid). Second, how can you really own bragging rights against someone who has a better team than you?

People will argue that the lower-seeded teams need to keep trying their best. After all, it’s “unfair” to give the teams facing a quitter the opportunity at an easy win. Right. Because football doesn’t already have a million different luck-based developments that happen in a given season. Hey, at least you’ll know what’s coming if the bottom-feeders in your league hang up their keyboards. No one gave Jamaal Charles owners the courtesy of a heads-up.

If I put money in a league and am no longer in the running for a cut of the payout, what difference does it make to me who wins or loses? Matter of fact, if you are out of the playoff picture and someone bitches to you about the need for you to check your lineup or make some moves, bench every player in your starting lineup to see how they react. That’ll learn ‘em.

More Real Talk after the j-u-m-p:

If you asked the Dallas Cowboys who will step up in the wake of Miles Austin’s latest hamstring injury, chances are Laurent Robinson will scream “It’s me Austin!” Let me be clear about this: Robinson is a must-own fantasy commodity. That may sound like crazy talk considering Tony Romo still has Dez Bryant and Jason Witten to throw to, but it really isn’t. Robinson already has a pair of 100-yard performances under his belt and has always had great speed and quickness. The major knock on his four-year NFL career is that he’s a big injury-risk, but that shouldn’t stop owners from picking him up. Robinson has already shown a pretty good rapport with Romo and opposing defenses will focus their efforts on stopping Witten and Bryant. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Robinson string together some big games while Austin is out, which could be awhile considering the way his season has been going.

Denarius Moore saw 12 targets from Carson Palmer and while most seem to think little of it, WR-needy owners should take a flier on the super-talented receiver. The general consensus seems to be that between the emergence of Darrius Heyward-Bey, health of Jacoby Ford, and addition of Palmer’s “bottom” T.J. Houshmandzadeh, there just aren’t enough targets to go around to make Moore a viable fantasy option. While that could end up being the case, Moore’s upside is too great to pass up. Plus, we’ve seen Palmer favor his best receivers heavily during his time in Cincinnati. With Moore easily being the best overall talent among Oakland’s WRs and Palmer having shown an affinity to feed him the ball (at least for one week), fantasy owners should be all over Moore. This is a player who could be a fixture in your starting lineup by the time the fantasy playoffs roll around.

Though Chris Ogbannaya looked terrible against the Texans, you have to start him in most leagues this week. Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty have already been ruled out for Week 10, and if Marshawn Lynch has taught us anything (other than how to look as grotesque as humanly possible), it’s that starting RBs who don’t have any competition for carries should be started regardless of how crappy they are. Plus, the “O-G-B” should have a much easier time against a Rams defense that is giving 5.38 YPC to opposing RBs. He’s a solid flex play with no threat to his touches.

Your boy Stat Bundles casted doubt on the fantasy outlook of Antonio Brown in the last two editions of “NFL Real Talk” (boom and pow), but now I’m having second thoughts. Don’t get it twisted, Pittsburgh’s offensive line and Ben Roethlisberger’s injury-prone body still present some risk. However, with Mike Wallace no longer being featured the way he was early in the season, Brown has become the go-to receiver on the team. Teams may begin to put more pressure on Brown since he does have play-making ability, but until he slows down, he should be cemented in your fantasy lineup.

Back in the Week Six edition of “NFL Real Talk,” your boy Big Poppa Pockets tried to warn you that Matt Schaub’s days as a QB1 were done in 2011. In the four games since that post, Schaub has thrown just four TDs while turning the ball over twice and averaging a modest 215 yards per game. While Andre Johnson will obviously provide a boost upon his return, Houston will remain a run-first offense and Schaub will be stuck in QB2 territory.

Steve Breaston went into “Breast Mode” on Sunday and tallied seven catches for 115 yards. He’s quietly been putting up some solid performances over the last few weeks, registering at least 50 yards in five of his last six games. That said, there’s no reason to pick him up in most leagues. When Matt Cassel is throwing you the ball, there’s only so much fantasy value one can possess. Plus, Jonathan Baldwin is still very capable of being the second option in the passing game behind Dwayne Bowe. It’s possible that Breaston may have another big game or a few more solid performances left in him, but at this stage of the fantasy season, starting Breaston could cost you a much-needed dub.

No, Jerome Simpson is not about to save your fantasy receiving corps. He’s my sell-high player of the week, especially after scoring in back-to-back games. Sure he has a pair of 100-yard efforts under his belt, but the Bengals are a run-first team and Andy Dalton spreads it around more than a porn star working overtime. You won’t get much for Simpson in a one-for-one deal, but if you can put a package together for an owner looking for WR help, make it happen.

With 262 yards in his last two games, Reggie Bush is starting to look legit. He’ll never be a competent between-the-tackles presence, but Miami’s run-blocking has improved and they are doing a good job finding him room outside and in the open field to do his thing. Bush said he is getting into more of a rhythm in this offense, and that’s plausible considering the injuries suffered by the offensive line early in the season and the fact that Bush had little time in camp to learn the playbook. With the O-line looking much improved in Week Nine and Bush being put in situations to rack up yards, things are looking promising for his rest-of-the-season outlook, even with Daniel Thomas looming. Even with 15 touches a week, Bush should be considered a high-upside RB2.

I really want to believe in Greg Little. The targets are there, the coaching staff loves him, and he’s by far the most appealing receiving weapon on the Browns. Yet here he is, averaging a scant 4.14 catches and 37.4 yards per game while scoring zero TDs on the season. He is simply not on the same page as Colt McCoy and Cleveland’s offense has been atrocious. He’s still worth owning in case all those targets begin to translate into fantasy production, but there’s no way you can trust him as even a flex play at this point.

Two words that should make a fantasy owner think twice before believing that Roy Helu is the answer: Mike Shanahan. Yes all the reports are indicating that Helu is now the featured back and Ryan Torain is merely there to give the almighty Helu a breather now and then. Yet how many times have we seen this scenario with Shanahan? Just saying, be aware that at any moment, Helu could throw up a dud.

Kendall Hunter needs to be owned in more than just 14-percent of Yahoo! leagues. Frank Gore was seen limping following Sunday’s game and even though coach Jim Harbaugh has already stated that his star RB is fine, fantasy owners should be concerned. Frank “The Shank” (a much more suitable name for Gore than “the Tank” due to his prison-style physicality) has a long injury rap sheet and hasn’t carried the rock this much since 2006. Even if Sunday’s ankle injury doesn’t end up costing him any time, he is due for a breakdown. Hunter is not only a Gore handcuff, but a savvy pickup for owners looking for RB help. After all, with bye weeks almost over, you should have more roster space to stash a high upside player who can help down the road (especially one as enticing as Hunter).


About Starbonell

Starbonell is the co-founder of Sons of Roto and one of the most insightful and colorful fantasy analysts in the game. Mixing intelligent and well-researched advice with an entertaining style of writing that is easy to digest, Starbonell is the king of info-tainment.