It's ironic that we have twelve scenarios to look at in week twelve. This week represents families coming together for a big meal, some talk about shopping, and the greatest sport in America. I'm talking about a battle in the trenches, where two teams try to impose their will on each other until one breaks. It's raw, filled with emotion, and captivating to watch. I'm calling out this week's dirty dozen scenarios that you need to know about and capitalize on. Let's get started before the lines start for black Friday's electronic fiesta.
All Jim Harbaugh wanted for Christmas last year was a quarterback. Specifically, Harbaugh wanted Peyton Manning. The 49ers were in the running for a minute and make no mistake, it would have been a defining moment. Manning was courted by a few teams, and eventually signed in Denver. Meanwhile, Alex Smith was flapping in the wind without a contract. Had Manning signed with San Francisco, Smith would have been either a starter for a doormat team, or a clipboard holder. It is today's reality that he could be that clipboard holder watching Colin Kaepernick start for the 49ers.
It took a concussion to get Kaepernick a start versus a defense that has tormented many a signal caller. Kaepernick rose to the challenge and has people talking, including Harbaugh. During the press conference, Harbaugh said that he would evaluate that later this week. It's what he didn't say that struck a chord with me. Kaepernick was not only spot on with his throws but brought something to the table that Smith lacks, elusiveness. The bottom line is that Kaepernick has won the job. Should you hear some non-sense about Smith being the starter, it will take one bad read, or turnover before Smith is benched. Smith will be on the sidelines before long. I'm betting it's this week.
When LeSean McCoy went down last Sunday, he opened a door for one of the most electric runners that folks need to get a look at. Bryce Brown will start this week if McCoy is unable to go. It is my belief that McCoy will be rested regardless of the concussion tests. Don't get too excited that he will take McCoy's job, because it won't happen. What will happen is that you will see what Brown can do with 20 carries. The answer is look out. This is unbelievable natural talent. This week versus Carolina who allows 118 yards per game on the ground (average of 4.2ypc), look for Brown to get to the second level. His game speed is faster than his 40-time indicates. Panthers rookie middle linebacker Luke Kuechly has played pretty darn good against the run in the past few weeks. He will be focused on stopping Brown. Should be exciting to watch this one. Grab Brown as an exceptional one week fill-in.
Willis McGahee finally shed the durable tag as most of us knew he would. It was a pretty good run for the self-proclaimed best back in the game. Now before you think that it will be all Ronnie Hilman, take a close look at Lance Ball. I think this will be more of a timeshare with Hillman, Ball, and Knowshon Moreno. Expect a two-headed monster and a light load for Moreno. I think Hillman has pretty solid value and should be grabbed immediately. I think Ball may surprise here. The Broncos will run with the lead in quite a few leagues down the stretch. I'd start Hillman without regret and I'd take a look at Ball because he runs with urgency. The Broncos travel to Kansas City this week which has allowed a league high 14 carries over 20 yards. This is a good week to own a Broncos' rock toter.
Last week I talked about the last time that Ben Roethlisberger missed a game. We had to go a ways back. You got a good look at Byron Leftwich's patented windup and chuck. It is no mystery why he has been riding pine. It was painfully obvious during the last minute of the game that he was hurt when he undershot a target by almost twenty yards. He just doesn't possess the common sense to let anyone know he's hurt and needs to come out. Had he alerted the staff that his ribs didn't feel right, Pittsburgh may actually had put someone in there that could hit that wide open target.
Instead, we got the same Byron Leftwich who played an entire series with a broken leg in college, only there's no chance of success against professionals. This week look for Charlie Batch to step in and convert a little more because he doesn't need to setup for three seconds to throw. He'll need to be accurate versus a Browns pass defense that only gives up 248 yards avg. per game. It is far more likely that the ground game is the center piece. Don't ever think about Batch as a start.
Titus Young has been benched. I won't speculate as to how or why. All you need to know is that he is worthless in Detroit like Kevin Smith. Everyone saw the flashes that Smith gave Detroit, but he doesn't get any carries. I'm guessing they have a two story doghouse with some kind of hot tub, and cable television. Ryan Broyles will stay in the slot and newly acquired Mike Thomas on the outside. Broyles has looked pretty darn good and until Thomas shows something, leave him on the wire.
Rookie Jarius Wright, the fourth round pick out of Arkansas, looked the part when Percy Harvin was out. My gut tells me that he will be getting additional looks based on his explosive play. As a fantasy owner, I wish there was someone other than Christian Ponder under center in Minnesota because there was an element of intrigue on my part. Minnesota travels to Chicago to face an embarrassed Bears team that was humiliated on the national stage on Monday night. There is nothing good that will come out of this game for any rookie that is vying for more time. Take a look at Wright though. He has some serious skills.
Jericho Cotchery suffered broken ribs last Sunday. Combine that with Antonio Brown having ankle issues and you have some serious problems. Plaxico Burress still can play and having an additional big bodied red zone threat is just what Pittsburgh needs. I expect owning Burress will be a feast or famine affair from week-to-week. Had this happened with a healthy starting quarterback in place, it would have been something.
Blaine Gabbert lost his starting job to Chad Henne. Rashad Jennings lost his job to Jalen Parmele. Now the Jacksonville Jaguars are starting to look like a team that can score massive garbage time points. In my opinion they are not as bad as their 1-9 record indicates, but they are bad. They will have some bright spots, but ultimately the Titans will take the wind out of the sails. Parmele can be started in a pinch this week. I'm not currently on the Henne train nor do I think that he is the long term answer to any question other than who is 1-10?
The Miami Dolphins waived Jabar Gaffney and that tells me that Marlon Moore will be the third receiver in Miami. Moore has deceptive speed and is averaging 20.75 yards per reception this year. The Gaffney experiment was a failure and regardless of Moore's deep play ability, Bess and Hartline are the goto targets.
Alshon Jeffrey came back from a broken hand only to hurt his knee in Monday Night's flogging of the Bears. He will have arthroscopic surgery and miss significant time. Earl Bennett and Devin Hester will continue to get targets. I believe that Marshall is the only one that you really can trust every week. Eric Weems is also listed on the depth chart behind Hester. Weems is pretty speedy, but not as polished of a route runner. Nothing to see here unless Bennett draws a favorable matchup. This week could be just that, but check if Cutler is under center first.
Ahmad Bradshaw has had issues almost every week. He did resume practice on Monday and appears to be good to go against the Packers this week. Folks waiting on David Wilson to get a shot will be waiting at least another week because the Giants will have their hands full this week. Andre Brown seems to be the heir apparent if Bradshaw's wheels come off. Wilson has been all mouth to this point and Brown has been quiet. Brown's value will increase if Bradshaw were to miss any significant time.
Chris "Beanie" Wells is set to return against the St. Louis Rams this week and is still vailable in quite a few leagues. LaRod Stephens-Howling had the game of his career last week, but is quite a different runner than Wells. I expect him to be fresh and give a real lift to the offense. The goal line carries will certainly go in the direction of Wells. Regardless of who starts at quarterback, the backs are all in line for a heavy workload. Believe it.
Enjoy the scenery this week as the leaves turn color, and the weather starts to get a bit on the colder side. It's the perfect season for some smash mouth football. Perhaps it doesn't net the kind of points that owners long for, but it is the purest form of the game. Thanks for the read folks and I hope the "dirty dozen" gave you some insight this week.
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