Can Eli Manning and the New York Giants keep it rolling this week after finding themselves during the bye week? Will Dez Bryant, Andre Johnson and Calvin Johnson continue to dominate the receiver position? David Grey answers these questions and many more in this week's installment of "The Grey Report," because, "Not All Matchups are Black and White."
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6 Months New York Giants
Eli Manning admits he was dealing with a tired arm before the Giants' Week 11 bye.
"I never felt like it in the last weeks. But after a week off and coming back to practice it felt good. It felt live," Manning said. "The ball seemed to be coming out with a little extra pop on it (in Sunday's win). ... It definitely needed a little rest." Manning completed just 16-of-30 passes against the Packers, but his ball did have noticeably more zip. He threw for his first touchdown since Week 7, and had his first multi-score night since Week 5. He passed Phil Simms for the most touchdown passes in Giants history in the process. We'll find out how "back" Manning truly is when he takes on the Redskins' bottom-feeding secondary in Week 13.
6 Months New York Giants
Eli Manning completed 16-of-30 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns in New York's 38-10 Week 12 win over the Packers.
Manning wasn't necessarily "back," but he did have his best night in over a month. The touchdowns were his first since Week 7, while the multi-score night was his first since Week 5. However, he was the beneficiary of often generous field position, and still misfired on a number of throws, including a pair of potential touchdowns. That being said, his "zip" did appear much improved, while his mistakes were neither as numerous nor crippling as they were in Weeks 6-10. Manning's yardage total would have been much higher had a big lead not enabled the G-Men to take the air out of the ball in the second half. He can be trusted as a low-end QB1 for the stretch run in fantasy leagues. Eli and the Giants get the Redskins' burnable secondary in Week 13.
This week's lines are from USAToday.com (as of Thursday night).
ATS - Against the Spread; SU - Straight Up; O/U - Over/Under
Denver at Kansas City (+10)
In last week's win over the San Diego Chargers, the Bronocs lost running back Willis McGahee for most of the season due to a torn MCL. There is an outside chance he may be able to return sometime in the playoffs. In the meantime, rookie Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball should be able to step up and keep the run game going. Denver has won six of their last seven games and look to feast on the Chiefs who have only one win on the season. Kansas City is going to stick with quarterback Brady Quinn who has a 52.9 QB rating on the season with zero touchdowns and three interceptions.
Denver is 4-1 ATS in their last five games while the Chiefs are 1-4.
Gimme the Broncos minus the points.
Seattle at Miami (+3)
The Seahawks were on a bye last week and are on a two game winning streak with rookie quarterback Russell Wilson leading the way with five touchdowns and zero interceptions. Running back Marshawn Lynch has rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown in the last two games and looks to keep it going against a Dolphins defense which ranks 9th in the league against the run.
The Dolphins rank 27th in the league against the pass so Wilson shouldn't have a tough time finding Golden Tate downfield for a few big plays. Tate has three receiving touchdowns in his last two games. Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been awful in his last two games, throwing only one touchdown with five interceptions. Things won't get any easier against the Seahawks defense which ranks 2nd in the league in total points allowed (16.1 points per game) and 3rd in the league against the pass.
Gimme the Seahawks minus the points.
Tennessee at Jacksonville (O/U 44.5)
Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne, who has taken over for Blaine Gabbert for the rest of the season, has played well when given a chance. Henne threw for 354 yards and four touchdowns in last week's overtime loss to the Houston Texans. This week he faces the Titans defense which ranks 31st in the league in points allowed (31.1 points per game). The Jaguars are not much better, ranking 29th in the league (28.9 points per game).
Gimme the Over.
Atlanta at Tampa Bay (O/U 50)
The Falcons are averaging 27 points per game, 6th in the NFL while the Buccaneers are averaging 28.7 points per game, good for 5th in the NFL.
The Tampa Bay offense...
6 Months New York Giants
Eli Manning says he's got more "pop" in his throwing arm coming off the Giants' bye week.
"I think it definitely had a little bit more pop to it (Monday)," Manning said. "That's something, you take a week off and you definitely get a little bit more fire. It was coming out good." Manning insists a tired arm wasn't behind the paltry 212.4 yards he averaged between Weeks 6-10, but his words continue to tacitly admit otherwise. We expect a rested Eli to look much sharper against the Packers' bottom-12 pass defense this Sunday.
When I drafted Eli Manning this year in one of my leagues, I was looking at getting out of the gate strong. I did accomplish that, but thought that it would be easy to figure out who to start in his place by Week 11. As I look at the wire, I have a huge dilemma as to which play makes sense for me. My original thought was that I would have Jay Cutler available. While his match-up wasn't necessarily a great one, I didn't need him to hang the moon or anything in order for my team to be competitive.
As you know, Cutler suffered a serious concussion and is not expected to play this week. Jason Campbell will likely start in his place versus the San Francisco 49ers. Alex Smith also had concussion-like symptoms after taking a vicious hit last Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. Colin Kaepernick looked 'OK' in relief and should be the starter against the Bears Monday night. The problem lies in that there will be no time to make the correction if any of these scenarios change. If you decided to roll with either Campbell or Kaepernick, you probably don't look too much at defensive statistics. Both clubs have very stout defensive units and it's pretty hard to run or pass on either. The contest will more than likely be decided by special teams and defensive play. It is probably not the scenario that you were hoping for.
So I now have Cutler on the shelf, Manning on a bye, and only a couple of options on the wire. I immediately thought back to the injury sustained by Ben Roethlisberger. However, I don't think Byron Leftwich played well enough to get the nod. Come to think of it, the last time Roethlisberger missed a game, it was Charlie Batch who leapfrogged Leftwich on the depth chart to get the start. Based on the guessing game that we have been playing with the backfield in Pittsburgh, I don't think that I want any part of this scenario, either. Batch was not dressed last week; that won't be the case this week. It makes you think that even if Leftwich does get the start versus Baltimore, that he will be on a short leash. So I'm avoiding the scenario all together.
Michael Vick also suffered a serious concussion last week. Nick Foles came in and found Jeremy Maclin on a 44-yard scoring play. Given a completion percentage north of 68 percent, I would say this situation merits a closer look this week versus the Washington Redskins. Washington ranks second-to-last in points given up to quarterbacks. Let's reexamine that number coming at the hands of Drew...
In most standard fantasy leagues, you are going to get 12 managers participating in a 13-week regular season. It is very likely that only a couple of managers in your league feel completely comfortable with their playoff position, and only a couple managers looking to 2013, already. In leagues that are more advanced, you might see a larger chunk of weeks designated for the playoffs, and might only have one to two more weeks in your fantasy regular season. Here are a few tips that will keep you from agonizing in the coming weeks.
1. Do what it takes right now to get you into the playoffs. Sounds very simple, I know. But far too many managers hold on to injured players or non-contributors in hopes of hitting the home run in the fantasy playoffs. Every move you make, you should weigh the goal of making the playoffs heavier than any other factor. There will be no possibility of long-term success if you don't take care of business right now.
You obviously have to play the risk vs. reward game in your mind when pulling the trigger on any given move in fantasy football. If that risk involves you not even gaining the opportunity to compete in your playoff format, then your decision should be made for you. If your trade deadline has not passed, and you are sitting right in the thick of the playoff race, don't be afraid to make the trade that helps you in the short-term first and foremost. Even if that means making a trade giving up a Victor Cruz, who is on bye this week, take the necessary steps to give yourself a chance to make a run. The manager who just sits on his roster, plays it stubborn and then misses out on the playoffs will always wonder ‘what if?' I highly recommend not being that guy.
2. Don't overthink it. Dance with who brought you. Start the players who have been the most consistent and are the healthiest. Don't try and pull the start you think will make noise in your league, just do what you know works. It is another simple concept that I see people have trouble with on a consistent basis. A good example this past Sunday would have been if you had a decision between keeping Steven Jackson in as an RB2/flex or starting new Oakland ‘starting' running back Taiwan Jones.
You probably felt pretty good when you picked up Jones, and you might have even thought it was an instant upgrade because of Jones' speed and the new opportunity he was getting. You knew Jackson would get his 15 touches against San Francisco going into the game, with the...