Steve Smith suffered through a severe case of quarterback purgatory the last few years and was slowly and steadily being written off as another aging wide receiver. Cam Newton showed everyone how wrong they were. Smith has always been one to wear his heart on his sleeve, never one to shy away from expressing emotion. Right or wrong, this translated into his performance on the field when he had the likes of Matt Moore, an aging Jake Delhomme, and (gulp) Jimmy Clausen slinging him the ball. After accumulating just more than 1,500 yards and only nine touchdowns over two years, he was being left for dead in fantasy circles. Then Cam Newtown came to town.
That 1,394-yard, seven-touchdown campaign he's coming off of? It was no fluke. With the shot in the arm injected by Newton, Smith came back as strong as he was when he was in his 20s and it showed on the field. The burst off the line, battling for the ball in coverage, vertical speed, precise route running and mental toughness all came back in one giant explosion. He sure did not look like a fading 32-year-old with the new shot in the arm under center. There's little reason to expect that to change this year, either.
With David Gettis returning from injury, an offensive line ravaged by injuries finally healthy, a boost to the running game in the form of Mike Tolbert, and another year in the system for all of Brandon LaFell, Greg Olsen, and most importantly, Cam Newton, this offense is set to take off. Unfortunately for opposing defenses, they cannot focus on shutting down Smith. Their No. 1 focus must be on Newton, but, then what? If additional attention is shifted Smith's way, either the young guys LaFell and Gettis will break free or the middle of the field will be wide open for Olsen and Tolbert. If too many are committed to stopping the pass game, wide open running lanes for Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams emerge. In a division not known for their defense, even containing this offense will be a chore, so there's only reason to think Smith's level of production will increase, if anything. With so many mouths to feed, a Top 5 finish is probably a pipe dream, but a WR1 at a No. 2 price? Yeah, that's fair.
I realize the list of early- to mid-round wide receivers I like just continues to grow with articles already posted on Demaryius Thomas, see here. Pierre Garcon, see here. And Jeremy Maclin, see here. So take this as your sign to resist selecting wide receivers early (more on this in later...
Veteran free-agent quarterbacks Kyle Orton and Jake Delhomme could be considered for the open backup job with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
1/16/2012 Houston Texans
Jake Delhomme said Monday he's very likely to retire.
1/1/2012 Houston Texans
Relieving T.J. Yates in the first quarter, Jake Delhomme closed out the Texans' Week 17 loss by completing 18-of-28 passes for 211 yards and one touchdown against the Titans.
Delhomme played all but one possession. He was mostly sharp, relying on check downs and high-percentage plays while hitting Bryant Johnson for one deep shot, good for a 40-yard gain. If T.J. Yates' left shoulder is indeed separated, Delhomme may have to start in the Wild Card round. The Texans' offense would remain run heavy, theoretically minimizing the quarterback's impact on games. Early-game deficits can change that of course, but based on Week 17, at least, Delhomme doesn't appear to be a significant downgrade from Yates.
W.12.R. -- Week 12 Reactions
- Stevie Johnson's touchdown dance sadly was perhaps the most exciting play of the New York Jets-Buffalo Bills game on Sunday. Unfortunately for Johnson though, it left a bitter taste in most viewers' mouth (not mine) that turned in to a super-sized Elmo laugh when he dropped what could've led to the game-winning touchdown. Fortunately for fantasy owners Johnson's overall production (8 receptions, 75 yards, 1 TD) is a clear indicator that Revis Island can be shutdown, as long as the receiver gets to the middle.
- When Vince Young throws for 400 yards and Jason Avant (8 receptions, 110 yards, 1 TD) gets mistaken for Terrell Owens, you know that the opposing defense deserves to be ranked 32nd against the pass. The New England Patriots' pass defense is brutally atrocious, and it's not going to get any better unless someone besides Kyle Arrington starts making plays.
- The Texans need to get a quarterback, and fast. Neither T.J. Yates nor Jake Delhomme are the answers, and sooner or later Andre Johnson owners may be wishing he was playing in Denver. I mean, you thought the Indianapolis Colts' passing attack was a hot mess? The only worthy receiver right now in Houston's offense until they sort out their quarterback dilemma is sadly running back Arian Foster. Keep that in mind this week.
- Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz showed once again why he may be the team's best fantasy option period moving forward. Monday night was Cruz's five consecutive game with six or more receptions and 84-plus yards. It was his second consecutive 100-plus yard game. Supposed-to-be top option Hakeem Nicks has scored one touchdown, and has recorded six or more receptions just twice in the past five games. He hasn't gone over the 100 yard mark since Week 4. Put it in Cruz Control.
N.N. -- News Nuggets
According to the Indianapolis Star, the Colts will start Dan Orlovsky at quarterback this week against the New England Patriots.
"Curtis Painter will not start this game," Colts head coach Jim Caldwell said Wednesday afternoon.
Ironically, this will be Orlovsky's first start since 2008, when he was starting for the 0-16 Lions. What's the worst that could happen?
According to the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Demarco Murray was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for November. In the past four games, Murray has carried the pigskin 89 times for 434 yards and scored once. He also caught 20 passes...
11/30/2011 Houston Texans
Jake Delhomme participated in Texans practice Wednesday.
Delhomme was able to report and get in a full session one day after being signed. According to coach Gary Kubiak, Delhomme "came a long way just from the first play of practice to the last play." Delhomme won't be under center against the Falcons, but anything beyond this week will depend on how T.J. Yates performs.
I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving and had a chance to gather with friends and family. I'm thankful for all that and the faithful that keep reading us here at FantasySharks.com. Thanksgiving is always a bit of a line as far as waiver wire relevance. With most leagues having closed up the waiver wire, we'll keep things going with a bit of a different format this week, grouping some newsworthy players by position in what will be more like a round table discussion. Thanks, as always, for reading.
This week's column was written while hating the fact that so many key fantasy players have been declared out for the season in the last three weeks. Just painful to rely on a player for 10 weeks, only to have them swept onto Injured Reserve and be done for the season. Hopefully you have the depth to continue the fight to your league trophy!
On to this week's story ...
Forced to choose between the lot of quarterbacks likely available, I'd rank them like this: Caleb Hanie, Jake Delhomme (long term), Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman ... and that's about it. Hanie (Chicago) is going to play and his job is safe. All he has to do is not make any mistakes and Matt Forte will do the rest. Nothing spectacular, but again the key here is that the Bears are, for better or for worse, stuck with him for the rest of the season.
In a desperation move, the Texans signed Delhomme. Houston, to go along with a strong running game, has playoff hopes that they weren't going to trust in the hands of T.J. Yates. Apologies to those that ran out and took Matt Leinart, but now it is Delhomme that will eventually end up with the tools that are at the disposal of the Texans' starting quarterback.
Orton saw the writing on the wall (actually, ‘Tebowmania' is being discussed everywhere) and got his ticket out of Denver. His attempt at getting to Chicago failed, and he ends up in Kansas City. While many will scoff that the Chiefs are a terrible place for him to land, I will go in the opposite direction. This is a perfect opportunity, with only Tyler Palko in front of him on the depth chart, for him to get onto the field and showcase himself for 2012. It won't be long before he's the starter, somewhere in the area of 200 yards and a couple of touchdowns are the expected fantasy output.
I'd have Grossman further up on this list, but no one can seem to hold the starting quarterback job for the Washington Redskins for more than five weeks at a time. Three strong games in a...