Bye Weeks: N/A
Grab a Helmet
Ballard v. BUF: With every passing game, Andrew Luck is looking
like a more-than-worthy replacement for Indy’s former legend ,
Peyton Manning. He’s preternaturally poised in the pocket, possesses
ideal measureables, and is running a scheme that’s heavy on forward
passes (412 attempts through 11 weeks, 3rd most in the league).
That doesn’t mean there’s no space for a guy like Ballard to carve
out some production. After all, Joseph Addai was a fantasy stud
for several years playing in a similar scheme. Ballard probably
doesn’t have Addai’s receiving chops, granted, but he’s built
more sturdily and will continue wresting more of the workload
away from the oft-injured Donald Brown, I suspect. In fact, if
I have one concern with Ballard, it’s that other thing Andrew
Luck does pretty well: run with the football (five rushing TDs
to date). Give the kid a look against Buffalo’s crummy front seven
(5.2 rushing yds/attempt yielded) and hope his QB doesn’t poach
all those juicy goal-line touches.
Reece @ CIN: The Raiders’ failure to retain Darren McFadden’s
stable mate this past offseason, Michael Bush, seemed like a puzzling
oversight considering the former has never made it through a season
unscathed. Equally head-scratching was Oakland’s decision to scrap
the power running scheme DMC formerly excelled in, opting instead
for a zone-blocking approach he wasn’t comfortable with. Cut to
Week 12: McFadden (predictably) is on the shelf after a disappointing
first half of the season; Bush continues to languish away in Chicago
as Matt Forte’s backup; and Marcel Reece (ostensibly, a fullback)
is coming off a 19.3-point performance as McFadden’s replacement.
19.3 points as in the very most any running back tallied in Week
11. Maybe this was all just part of the Raiders’ master plan?
OK, that would be impossible since they never actually have one.
Regardless, Reece is a capable ball-carrier and a surprisingly
solid receiver. Give him a go against the Bengals this Sunday.
Parmele v. TEN or Ronnie
Hillman @ KC: You know it’s getting late in an NFL
season when guys you’ve never heard of and guys you’ve barely
heard of start figuring heavily in teams’ game plans. Parmele
spelled an ineffective Rashad Jennings last week (who was, in
turn, spelling an injured MJD) and performed admirably, tallying
80 yards on 24 carries. It was enough to earn him the starting
gig this Sunday against the Titians. Meanwhile, Hillman took over
for a banged-up Willis McGahee late in the win over San Diego
and will now keep the job since the latter has been relegated
to IR. I think you could do a lot worse than either man as the
matchups are pretty good. If I had to rank them in order, I’d
probably go with Parmele first since Hillman will probably share
carries with another relative unknown, Lance Ball. If you’re hurting
at running back, go find these guys and get them activated. Heck,
even Ball would do in a pinch, I think.
Grab a Gatorade
Leshoure v. HOU: Clearly, I’m not real high on the Detroit
offense right now. I’ve already suggested you sit the up-and-down
Matt Stafford for the Thanksgiving tilt against Houston. Now,
I’m urging you to reconsider giving his backfield sidekick some
run. LeShoure hasn’t been bad so much as he’s been, like the enigmatic
Stafford, a little hard to rely on. He tallied a whopping 26 carries
in his NFL debut and managed to reach, albeit precisely, the century
mark in that Week 3 game against Tennessee. Since then, he hasn’t
topped 20 carries (or that century mark) and has really only excelled
from a fantasy perspective when he’s found paydirt. Though he’s
done that four times in his last three games, the Texans offer
a much sterner test this Thursday. I mean, they’ve still yet to
give up a rushing touchdown on the season…the season that’s already
11 weeks old. Think about that for a second and then think about
sitting LeShoure down.
Starks @ NYG: Starks reclaimed his old starting position last
weekend and didn’t disappoint against Mr. LeShoure’s Lions. He carried
the football 25 times, tying a career high, and seemingly solidified
the lead back role, at least until Cedric Benson returns to the
fold. That’s, of course, as good as the news will get since we’re
talking about Green Bay running backs. Here’s the bad: He only tallied
74 yards on the day. Here’s some more bad: He didn’t score. But
wait, there’s more! He’s scored precisely two touchdowns in about
two seasons’ worth of career work. Starks is what Green Bay needs
him to be most of the time, an occasional foil to the Pack’s lethal
passing attack. I’m guessing you need him to do a little more than
that, so sit him down against the G-Men this Sunday night unless
you’re terribly desperate.
Starks is a desperation play at best.
Bradshaw v. GB: I think we’ll see a fair amount of points
in that Sunday night reprise of the NFC Divisional Playoff matchup
from 2011. The Giants have had a week off to clear their minds and
shake off the funk of a two-game skid. Green Bay, alternatively,
seems to be hitting its midseason stride just as the Bears are fading.
Any points that are scored, however, will almost certainly be produced
by the All-Pro QBs leading their respective offenses, Aaron Rodgers
and Eli Manning. Bradshaw, though certainly more productive than
Starks (and also more likely to score), seems to be losing touches
and critical goal-line looks to Andre Brown lately. If he’s
only looking at 10-15 touches per game now, and fewer of them in
the red zone, to boot, is he really any more interesting than his
previously discussed counterpart in Green Bay?