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Week 12 in Fantasy Football: More Concussion Discussion

Dude ... he's not getting up

Football fans bitch a lot about the recent rule changes that seem to be installed with the purpose of wrapping a cold, ultra-physical sport into a Snuggie. Any time a defender gets his hand or even a few fingers onto the quarterback’s helmet, that’s a 15-yard penalty. The guidelines for what exactly is a defenseless receiver or a late hit are somewhat sketchy and are commonly enforced to a point that I’m pretty sure makes Jack Tatum vomit in disgust.

It’s all part of the league’s plan to guard its players against major injury, specifically concussions. They are another aspect of the game that some people don’t understand, but that’s because we don’t have a body part named concussion. We know what a broken ankle or torn bicep is. So, let’s just stop calling them concussions and switch it up to something that everyone can understand: brain damage.

In the past, before the days of baseline testing and sophisticated neurological exams, concussions just meant you got your bell rung, were a little dizzy, but you were OK to continue punishing your body because all of your bones and ligaments were still in place. Plus, since concussions are usually an invisible injury, many players would lie about their condition just to get back on the field. Kurt Warner hit on that point earlier this week.

But now we know that concussions can lead to serious post-career problems and they are being handled with extreme sensitivity. With this recent string of high-profile players — Brian Westbrook, Ben Roethlisberger, Clinton Portis, Kurt Warner — suffering concussions, teams are erring on the side of caution. Each of those players missed at least one game due to their concussion and in the case of Westbrook, it’s likely to end his season.

This weekend, the list of concussed fantasy contributors gained at least two more members: Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson and Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell.

Jackson took a hard shot in the third quarter of Sunday’s game and clearly looked dazed on the sidelines. Campbell said he “blacked out” after being flung to the ground on the last meaningful play of the same game. That’s very concerning since the last time we heard of a player blacking out was Campbell’s teammate Portis, and he has missed the last two games with a third missed game on the horizon.

The Redskins haven’t said that Campbell officially suffered a concussion, but it certainly sounds like he did. Jackson is reportedly questionable for week 13, but you should expect him to miss at least one game. By trying to protect these players in the present, they are possibly saving their future. Apparently, Hines Ward doesn’t get that concept.

Falcons 20, Buccaneers 17

Matt Ryan and Michael Turner don’t have concussions, but they do have ailments that will likely force them to miss some game action.

Oh, that right foot does not look comfortable

Ryan is reportedly out for this week’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles with the dreaded turf toe. The injury occurred in the first quarter Sunday on this play. Ryan is not an extremely mobile QB, but this injury could certainly affect how he plants and pushes off on that right foot.

Meanwhile, Turner unfortunately re-injured his high right ankle again, just in a different spot. That’s the same ankle he sprained a couple of weeks ago, forcing him to miss week 11 against the Giants. I would expect the team to be very careful with Turner. It looks as if they brought him back a little too quickly from his high ankle sprain. Jerious Norwood and Jason Snelling will likely split carries against the Eagles if Turner misses the week 13 game. Neither would be a very good play.

Even with Turner out, this team can’t possibly win many games with Chris Redman throwing 41 passes. The Falcons’ final 21 plays were all passes. Screw offensive balance!

I’m still not sure how Roddy White was able to catch this pass. He hasn’t been very good lately and now would be a good time to go check out his remaining schedule. It’s TOUGH! Although, it is worth noting that White and Gonzalez each got 13 pass targets from Redman. That’s a very healthy number of looks. White was also pretty productive in 2007 with Redman behind center.

And in big transaction news: JASON ELAM HAS BEEN CUT!! The fantasy world of kickers currently spins off its axis.

Nice rebound game for Josh Freeman — 20 for 29, 250 yards, two scores — after last week’s four-turnover outing. But I’ll put that more on the Falcons’ horrible pass defense. We are inching toward the fantasy playoffs. I still wouldn’t suggest trusting this rookie. I’m also ignoring Antonio Bryant right now. He has been very inconsistent when healthy and had just four targets Sunday.

Bills 31, Dolphins 14

It looks like we no longer have an even split in the Buffalo backfield. Before Sunday, Fred Jackson had touched the ball 32 times. Marshawn Lynch? 33. On Sunday, Fred Jackson touched the ball 18 times. Marshawn Lynch? Four. Yes, it appears that Beast Mode has rightly been put into neutral. Jackson has been the more impressive Bills running back for the past three weeks. He deserves the majority of the work.

I thought that the change from Trent Edwards to Ryan Fitzpatrick would benefit Lee Evans the most. But look at what Terrell Owens is doing! He had his second big game in a row. Besides next week’s matchup with Darrelle Revis, TO has a very easy slate. It’s time to trust Owens and get him back into your starting linuep, I guess. He is at least a No. 3 WR in deep leagues.

Ricky Williams didn’t exactly run over the Bills, but fantasy owners should always take 115 yards and a TD.

Every week, there are always a number of odd plays that mean the difference between a win or a loss in fantasy football (coughMauriceJones-Drewcough). So if you lost your matchup by just a couple of points this week and own Williams, here’s your reason to cry.

Eagles 27, Redskins 24

The injury to DeSean Jackson means that Jason Avant and Jeremy Maclin should see more targets. If I had to choose one, I’d rather have Maclin, who has better deep-threat ability.

If Jason Campbell is forced to miss the New Orleans game, Todd Collins would start at quarterback. Uh, no thanks.

The good news for Jackson’s owners: He scored once Sunday on a play in which he was clearly forgotten by the Redskins (see bottom of post). The bad news: He had a one-yard score nullified by a horrible offensive pass interference call. I just think the officials would not allow Jackson to score from within 35 yards. On the drive that ended with Jackson’s touchdown catch, he almost ended it before it began with a punt return that would have gone for six if not for a last-line-of-defense ankle trip-up.

Another close call: If your matchup was decided by one or two points and someone started the Phily defense, blame Jim Zorn for inexplicably not taking a knee at the end of the first half.

If you thought it was odd to see Brent Celek drop three passes, there is an explanation for that. And yet, he’s probably a safer bet than Jackson to play this week.

We have reached the bottom of the talent pool with the Redskins’ running back. Rock Cartwright is serviceable as a bigger, change-of-pace back. But he is not someone who can be a dependable starter. Unfortunately, there just isn’t a lot of quality here with Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts injured.

Seahawks 27, Rams 17

Justin Forsett is not the first to make the Rams' defense look foolish. I just hope he gets the chance to make other teams look foolish in the future

Hello, Justin Forsett. It isn’t like a two-touchdown game against the Rams is something new. It’s just … JUSTIN FORSETT! Not Maurice Jones-Drew, not Chris Johnson. Justin Forsett. Can we please just make him the full-time starter in Seattle now and move on?? Nope, I guess we can’t.

What I would also like to know is how many people kept Julius Jones in their lineup, expecting him to return from his bruised lung after all of the positive things head coach Jim Mora Jr. said about him during the week. Oh, burn!!

By the way, Matt Forte, Chris Johnson and Frank Gore are among some of the running backs left to tear through St. Louis.

Nate Burleson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh didn’t do much, largely because the Seahawks’ passing game didn’t have to do much. Matt Hasselbeck threw just 25 passes. Housh didn’t even get a target until the third quarter, and five of his six targets came on one drive. Yet, he had a touchdown glance off his fingertips and still got more looks than Burleson (six to five).

Steven Jackson is hurting, but he still puts up numbers — 116 total yards and a touchdown. He’s just a freak.

Donnie Avery also scored again. It’s hard to depend on him weekly with the Rams’ putrid quarterback situation, but he now has three touchdowns in his past three games. He’s probably around the top-25 WRs right now. Although, you should continue to scour your league’s free agent pool for defenses that face the Rams. Seattle’s less-than-special D racked up four sacks, two interceptions and a touchdown Sunday.

Jets 17, Panthers 6

This is the one game Sunday that I didn’t really get to watch. I didn’t have anyone either on my team or facing me from this game, so I largely ignored. But let’s be honest: It’s the Panthers and Jets. That sounds about as thrilling as a three-hour seminar on life in 19th century Iceland.

What did I really miss here? A lot of this game followed expectations. Marc Sanchez only threw 17 times, leading to sub-par games from himself, Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery. Thomas Jones continued his success with another solid game. Steve Smith joined the list of great wideouts who have been absolutely shut down by Darrelle Revis (one catch, five yards).

DeAngelo Williams had the most disappointing day of any player in this game. He touched the ball 20 times and gained 50 yards. Plus, he missed some plays with a sprained ankle. Given that the injury doesn’t hold Williams out of any games, you have to write this outing off.

The one thing I take away from this game concerns Jake Delhomme. Now here’s a guy who knows something about bad games. Delhomme got back to his errant ways in emphatic fashion. He threw four picks, although one was a fluke beyond belief. Hopefully the previous month, in which he threw just one interception, didn’t give you reason to be positive about Delhomme. He’s still the same second-rate quarterback. And now he has a broken finger. I’m sure that’ll help. This isn’t just a bad game. This a bad season from a bad quarterback and I’m sure it will end badly.

Bengals 16, Browns 7

There sure is a difference between facing the Lions’ defense and facing the Bengals’ defense, eh? Brady Quinn goes from 304 yards and five touchdowns to 100 and zero. Don’t forget the 15-for-34 passing. Looking at the schedule … nope, the Browns don’t play Detroit again.

From my view, the Bengals looked to sleepwalk through this one. Carson Palmer completes just 13 of 24 passes for 110 yards and one score. And I still don’t understand how this defense couldn’t force a turnover and record only one sack against Cleveland. I just don’t think the Bengals cared to play this game. Hopefully they can wake up before what looks to be another sleep-easy matchup against Detroit next week.

The obviously major story line from this game was how well the Bengals ran the ball. Bernard Scott started and picked up 87 yards to go with a “mild” turf toe injury.

But out of nowhere, Larry Johnson gets 22 carries and turns it into 107 yards!? Whatever. Both he and Scott are just keeping the seat warm before Cedric Benson returns. And according to head coach Marvin Lewis, it sounds as if he will return in week 13. Going forward, if Benson stays healthy, I still think Scott will be the primary backup. I am not going to consider Johnson just because of one good game. It was his first 100-yard rushing game since Dec. 21, 2008.

Colts 35, Texans 27

I think you can start the countdown. Gary Kubiak has five games left as the head coach of the Houston Texans. Allow me to get on my soapbox here for a minute.

First, Kubiak should be fired for his sudden love for Chris Brown. Brown is so hard to watch with his plodding running style, there is no way that he is the best running back on this team. That’s because he’s not!

I know Steve Slaton has had his problems with fumbling, but considering the skills and speed he possesses, the lack of field time he is seeing doesn’t make any sense at all. And did Ryan Moats enter the Witness Protection Program? I don’t understand how Kubiak can just forget about a runner who gained 126 yards and scored three times just a few weeks ago.

Get. Out.

But it’s gotten beyond mishandling lineups for the Texans. Kubiak obviously doesn’t have this team prepared to win big games. For the third consecutive week, the Texans lost their “biggest game in franchise history.” But this loss had a certain choking sound that went with it. The Texans were loose and having fun on offense in the first half. Then, up 20-7 in the third quarter, you could see players such as Matt Schaub acting as if they were just waiting for the game to end. The pressure and the tension on the Texans were evident. That’s because they don’t know how to win important games and they haven’t been coached well enough on how to deal possible success.

Then, when the chips start to dwindle, they don’t fight through it. They give up. The Texans quit. There is no other way to describe this run by a third-string running back. And that type of attitude trickles down from the head coach. This team is extremely talented on both sides of the ball. But Kubiak doesn’t have what it takes to use that talent for positive results. So, with playoffs a slim possibility, he’s got five games to go before he starts looking for work.

If you own any Texans on your team, I am slightly worried about an end-of-the-season letdown. They know that this loss to the Colts pretty much knocked them out of postseason contention. So what else do they have left to play for? With nothing tangible, I could totally see this team going through the motions and not really giving a damn about these remaining games. It’s a very scary scenario for those who own players such as Schaub and Andre Johnson.

Schaub committed three turnovers, but he still put up a pretty decent line — 282 yards, two touchdowns — thanks in large part to a 75-yard touchdown drive of which he was responsible for every yard and that came in pure garbage time.

Dallas Clark always beats the Texans and he did so again Sunday. He has more catches, yards and touchdowns against the Texans than against any other team in the NFL. Shouldn’t Houston know this? Obviously, the middle linebacker on this play didn’t. Horrible.

The danger that the Colts will sit their starters in week 17 and even week 16 is a very real possibility. Get Donald Brown if you can. He is slowly being worked back into the game plan and could be gold if the team decides to protect Joseph Addai.

Chargers 43, Chiefs 14

If Dallas Clark was uncovered by the Texans, then what would you call the Chiefs’ defense against Antonio Gates? Nonexistent is probably best. That’s not even hyperbole.

Meanwhile, Vincent Jackson turned in his third consecutive sub-par game. Still, I’m not going to worry. He is still the No.1 receiver in San Diego and will bust out of this soon. Just look at what Marques Colston did on Monday night after a few low-output games. Jackson will come around. It may very well happen this week against Cleveland.

LaDainian Tomlinson scored two more touchdowns to make his fantasy owners happy, but he looked like the Tomlinson we’ve seen for the majority of this season. He gained just 39 yards on 13 carries and then lucked out on a couple of short touchdowns. He basically got the glory for other people’s work, like this amazing catch by Malcolm Floyd that was marked down at the one-yard line. Next play, Tomlinson walked three feet into the end zone. He may have another good game with the Browns next on the schedule, but take a look at his slate from weeks 14-16. Don’t expect much.

What a disappointing effort from the Chiefs coming off their win versus the Steelers last week. Embarrassing plays like this summed up what kind of afternoon it was for KC.

Two positives are that Chris Chambers got his revenge against his previous team (seven catches, 70 yards, one touchdown) and the running of Jamaal Charles. After some early debate when Larry Johnson was released, there is now no question who is the best running back on the Chiefs. Charles racked up 147 total yards and a touchdown on the day. Golf clap to head coach Todd Haley for actually giving his best runner the playing time he deserves. Gary Kubiak could learn a thing or two from him.

49ers 20, Jaguars 3

The Jaguars just need to stay on the right side of the country. They have scored three points in 120 minutes of West Coast time zone football this season. I’m not worried about players such as Mike Sims-Walker. David Garrard lost two fumbles, but he will have better days ahead. Maurice Jones-Drew still gained 110 total yards. Expect him to add to his league-leading touchdown total this week against the Texans at home.

For Alex Smith, this was a huge performance — 232 yards , two touchdowns and no turnovers. But he is still a No. 2 QB at best in fantasy leagues. Frank Gore made up for a rough day on the ground — 16 carries, 33 yards — with a receiving touchdown. Lastly, Vernon Davis caught a touchdown on a play that saw another star tight end unguarded. Right now, he has to be considered the NFC’s starter in the Pro Bowl at his position.

All in all, there just isn’t anything to take away from this game in a fantasy aspect. I guess it would have been easier for me to say that at the top and save some time.

Vikings 36, Bears 10

Here are two teams that couldn’t be headed in more different directions offensively. The Bears can’t run the ball, Jay Cutler looks as if he is dejected while playing, and their receivers — especially Devin Hester — looked lost Sunday.

I expect Matt Forte to finally have a really productive game this weekend against St. Louis. Then after this weekend, forget about him. Assuming that you don’t play in week 17 — because no fantasy leagues should — Forte’s future opponents are Green Bay, Baltimore and Minnesota. That should put the finishes touches on this tremendous fantasy bust.

And, even one week after the fact, I just had to show that clip of Hester getting pantsed. I don’t know why that defense isn’t used by cornerbacks more often.

Another three-yard run? We've seen too many

Percy Harvin is becoming a nice every-week start. He has scored in three of the past four games and this offense is just rolling.

Now, Brett Favre, Sidney Rice, Visanthe Shiancoe and Adrian Peterson are all fine and junk, but I do want to say that I am a little worried about AD. He has gained fewer than 100 rushing yards and has averaged less than four yards per carry in four of his past five games. He still has five touchdowns in that span, but he’s just not running as well as you have come to expect, and it’s pretty clear why.

This offensive line is missing Matt Birk. The veteran center signed with the Ravens in the offseason and I think his absence is affecting Minnesota’s run-blocking. It’s just not quite as good as last season. And that’s not good news for Peterson, who is a hard, but not-very-patient runner. So on a lot of plays, he runs to where a lot of lanes should develop, but don’t. Thus, he just runs into traffic and gets tackled after just a couple of yards. There are other gaps developing, but he’s missing them because he’s so set on hitting the lane that the play is designed to create. But those lanes just aren’t getting created.

With that being said, Peterson is still a fantastic fantasy player, but he’s certainly no longer No. 1. He’s probably behind Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew at least.

You don’t know how hard I had to try to use “gaps” or lanes” instead of “holes” in that paragraph.

Titans 20, Cardinals 17

Certainly, Vince Young’s game-winning drive Sunday was something to behold. His recent performance and future schedule could lead to him being a top-15 fantasy quarterback the rest of the way. But anyone who compares what Young did to John Elway’s “The Drive” in 1987 is just lying to himself. There is a gigantic difference between winning a week 12 home game at the last second after traveling the length of the field and doing the same thing in the AFC Championship game on the road. The comparison can only be made for useless conversation.

That easy remaining schedule also means good things should be ahead for Kenny Britt. He had more than 100 yards, caught the winning touchdown Sunday and it’s clear that Young is looking for him. Also, if you are in a pinch for a tight end, you could probably do a lot worse than Bo Scaife. He has nine catches in the past two games.

What else can I say about Chris Johnson other than: Good God, that doesn’t seem humanly possible.

Although, Johnson did look to be down at the one-yard line. But hell, just give it to him anyway. He was being limited pretty well for the majority of Sunday’s game, but all he needs is one big hole (fine, I did it) and he’s back on his 2000-yard pace.

I’m sure Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin can’t wait for Kurt Warner’s return. Matt Leinart did relatively well against the Titans on the road, but it was clear that the team didn’t want him to lose the game. Most of his passes were simple underneath routes. Thus, Fitzgerald and Boldin combined for less than 90 yards. And they led the team in receiving yardage.

But when will Warner return? He has a nice matchup this Sunday night against the Vikings, but the reports don’t sound all that positive. Pay attention throughout the week.

Just when we think that Beanie Wells is going to become the No. 1 running back in the desert, Tim Hightower carries the ball more often — 11 to 8 — and looked much more effective. Unfortunately both are nothing more than flex plays against the Vikings, even though both are very talented. Fred Jackson needs to be traded to Arizona. He would solve this timeshare in two days and still have enough time to get back to Buffalo and make Marshawn Lynch expendable.

Ravens 20, Steelers 17

If you thought Ray Rice would finally be slowed by the Steelers’ defense, you don’t know Ray Rice. He registered 155 total yards and if it wasn’t for another senseless appearance from Willis McGahee, he would have added a touchdown. Rice is already an every-week must-start, but this outing should give you confidence in him, no matter if he is facing the Lions (week 14) or the Steelers (week 16).

I’m not sure where Mark Clayton found the time in his busy routine of being horrible to put up a 129-yard game. You should treat that like it never happened. It certainly won’t happen again.

Dennis Dixon played well and, unlike Matt Leinart, got the team’s star receivers involved. But it’s likely that we won’t be seeing him again.

Rashard Mendenhall ran for 95 yards on 24 carries. I know that many still fear the Ravens’ defense, but this team has given up productive games to Mendenhall, Cedric Benson and Joseph Addai lately. This means that you shouldn’t fear starting Ryan Grant this Monday against Baltimore.

Saints 38, Patriots 17

Well, I guess ESPN got what it wanted out of this game. It is now the highest-rated second-highest rated ESPN program of all time. But this game didn’t live up to the hype. Instead, it lived up to logical reason. The Patriots didn’t have the defense to keep up with Brees and Co., and I think that showed juuuuuust a bit. But with the Patriots being slaughtered like that on national TV, I would be very wary if I was on the Miami Dolphins, the Pats’ next opponent. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said after Sunday’s loss to Baltimore that his team will “unleash hell” against the Raiders this Sunday. The same will be witnessed in Miami.

I think this past Monday was the strongest I’ve seen Laurence Maroney run, maybe ever. If you look at what he’s done since week six, he’s become a top-10 running back. That makes me feel dirty to say, but it’s true. Even with Sammy Morris back in the fold, it looks as if Maroney will continue to get 17-20 touches per game and all of the goal-line carries.

As for the Saints … start them. Start them all! ALWAYS!!!!

Maybe not Mike Bell, but he could get a short score in any week. Of course, it’s hard to run for a three-yard touchdown when Drew Brees is too busy throwing 75-yard darts. Robert Meachem is a bit of a boom-or-bust player, but you can’t deny that he has scored in each of the past five games. Also, it was nice to see Marques Colston come back from a recent slump and put up some stats that match up more with his talent. You shouldn’t have been worried about him in the first place.

We’ve seen some pretty bad pass coverage recently. Like, really bad. But this has to take the cake. There’s no description for that coverage.

That’s it for this week. I will have a fantasy recap of Thursday’s game, Jets @ Bills (Icelandic history, anyone?) posted sometime Thursday night. Quick advice: Start Thomas Jones and Fred Jackson. Bench everyone else.

Thanks for reading!

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