“Mad Dog McCleese”: Bye Week Blues (Week 10 Preferred QB/TE plays)
Hopefully you survived Week 9 with six teams on bye and haven’t started suffering from any symptoms of the Bye week blues. The symptoms may include loss of sleep, nightmares, binge eating, drinking, and headaches due to injuries and suspensions. All of these symptoms may lead to elimination from playoff contention, illegal rosters, and even league mandated fines. If you or anyone you know is suffering from the Bye week blues please have them check out my article and the other great articles by our excellent staff of writers at MLFS. This disease is treatable if caught in the beginning stages but you have to act fast. Do not let this disease destroy your roster and your chance of making the playoffs.
As I begin to breakdown my Week 9 picks I find myself wondering, “Why?”. Maybe that’s the Engineer in me or maybe, just maybe there’s a logical explanation for my swings and misses on some of my picks. It didn’t help that Jerry Jones decided to keep his Texas-sized mouth shut for once and fail to inform us that Romo had two fractures in his back! Instead they decided to be coy stealing a page from Bill Belichick and waited until Sunday morning to disclose the seriousness of his injury. Timing is everything and I can only hope that Tony Romo owners had a solid backup plan in order. I’ll reluctantly take a Mulligan on the Romo pick and instead focus on breaking down all of my picks that did play.
Tony Romo (Top 10 pick) DNP
Colin Kaepernick (Top 5 pick) MISS
Prediction: 21-31 309 yards passing, 2 TDs, 8 rushes for 59 yds 1 rushing TD
Actual: 22-33 237 yards 1 TD, 5 rushes 14 yds, 2 fumbles
Standard scoring: 10 pts
MLFS scoring: 9.25 pts
This is a classic example of when the matchup is too good to be true, it probably is. Kaepernick was running for his life all game getting sacked 8 times. The Rams defense showed up and most importantly when it mattered the most, with the game on the line. Kaepernick’s line would have been respectable had he managed to score from the 2 yard line on a QB sneak in the closing seconds of the game. Instead he fumbled at the goal-line and the Rams defense recovered in the end zone. According to Kaepernick he was across the plane before fumbling the ball. The call could have gone either way and maybe if they had access to a better angle on the review to overturn the original call, it may have ended differently. Note that I did hit on the attempts and completions which was a positive. Kaepernick just didn’t have time in the pocket to make any big pass plays downfield to his receivers.
Alex Smith (Bye Week Plug-In) HIT
Prediction: 21-32 286 yards passing, 2 TDs, 5 carries 28 yards
Actual: 21-31 199 yards 2 TDs, 0 yards rushing
Standard scoring: 15 pts
MLFS scoring: 21.95 pts
Alex Smith took care of business Week 9 as I predicted vs a shaky Jets secondary. I was spot on with his attempts and completions, just a little high on the overall passing yardage. Captain check-down spread the ball around throwing passes to 9 different receivers. This game was out of hand early so there was no need for Smith to run or take any deep shots downfield. Smith was a solid start for fantasy owners who needed him in week 9.
Joe Flacco (Stay Away Play) MISS
Prediction: 19-32 189 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs
Actual: 30-45 303 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Standard scoring: 18 pts
MLFS scoring: 23.85 pts
The Steelers came out of the gate firing on all cylinders and in full control as Big Ben continued his assault on NFL secondaries. Big Ben was busy setting NFL records with another 6 passing touchdowns, giving him 12 total in two games which tied Tom Brady’s mark set in 2007. Meanwhile Joe Flacco’s overall numbers on Sunday Night Football were quite misleading. The Ravens were forced into catchup mode early behind 22-10 at the half. Flacco’s 2nd touchdown pass was in garbage time to Crockett Gilmore with [2:58] left in the 4th quarter. However in the Fantasy world garbage points count just the same so this was a miss for me.
Robert Griffin III (Stay Away Play) HIT
Prediction: 16-28 158 yards passing, 0 TD, 2 INTs, 5 rushes for 18 yards
Actual: 18-28 251 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 7 rushes for 24 yards
Standard scoring: 14 pts
MLFS scoring: 15.95 pts
If you watched this game I’m sure that you would agree with me that RG3 had no business in your fantasy lineup week 9. He was very rusty as I predicted and looked lost at times on the field. He missed Garcon on a crucial 4th down inside 2 minutes remaining in the game. Not to mention his Hail Mary at the end of the game was thrown into a crowd of 5 purple jerseys. It would have been a sure pick if the ball was thrown in play and not out-of-bounds. At least give your receiver a fighting chance at the ball! It also says a lot that on Monday morning Jay Gruden said “the jury was still out on RG3.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement or vote of confidence for the “Franchise” QB of the Redskins.
Larry Donnell (Top 5) MISS
Prediction: 8 receptions for 96 yards 2 TDs
Actual: 4 receptions for 25 yards 1 TD
Standard scoring: 8 pts
MLFS scoring: 12.5 pts
I’m going to be my worst critic and even though Larry Donnell had a decent fantasy line, I missed badly on this prediction. Eli targeted Donnell 8 times and a few of those passes were off the mark and a few of them should have been caught. I think I touched on the fact last week that the emergence of Odell Beckham Jr. has been a good thing for Donnell. However, in this case it appeared that Eli had tunnel vision in the 2nd half and locked onto Beckham like a dog in heat. Speaking of Beckham I would like to take the time to give props to fellow MLFS writer Matt Barkman for calling this in his weekly article, “Off the Matt” this past Sunday.
Prediction: 7 receptions for 108 yards 1 TD
Actual: 4 receptions for 67 yards 1 TD
Standard scoring: 12 pts
MLFS scoring: 14.7 pts
Travis Kelce backed me up in week 9 and didn’t disappoint his fantasy owners. He caught 4 of 5 targets with a long of 34 yards and hit pay dirt as I predicted he would. He also finished in the top 10, 7th overall in standard scoring and 8th in MLFS scoring. If he could just steal more targets he could easily be Gronk-Light. Kelce deserves more attention and is a prime trade target for unhappy Witten and Cameron owners.
Jace Amaro (Bye week Fill-in) MISS
Prediction: 5 receptions for 63 yards 1 TD
Actual: 0 catches
Standard scoring: 0 pts
MLFS scoring: 0 pts
C’mon Jace Amaro! You’re killing me smalls! I put myself on the line for you and you let me down miserably with a big goose egg! My takeaway from this game is that we can’t trust any Jets not named Percy Harvin until further notice. This was my biggest swing and miss and I’m still trying to figure out why Amaro was completely invisible to Michael Vick. I guess this is what I get for trusting a rookie and banking on any consistency was a tall order in this case.
Jason Witten (Stay Away Play) MISS (PPR) HIT (Standard)
Prediction: 3 receptions for 26 yards 0 TD
Actual: 6 receptions for 62 yards 0 TD
Standard scoring: 6 pts
MLFS scoring: 14.2 pts
The good news is that Witten finally topped 5 receptions for the 1st time all year! The bad news is that I’m having a problem putting this pick in the MISS category. The problem for me is that in a standard leagues Witten only scored 6 points and was the 14th ranked TE in week 9. I would consider this a HIT in standard leagues and MISS in PPR leagues or MLFS format. That makes this pick a split decision depending on your league format. Let’s all keep in mind that Weeden was under center and Romo should be back week 10. Witten will turn back into a pumpkin soon enough.
Jordan Cameron (Stay Away) DNP
Overall I was pleased with my week 9 picks and have already learned a few things about this very complicated art of prognosticating. I’ll try to stay away from some of the injury concerns in the future but will stick with my gut in most cases. And as always I’ll never shy away from a good matchup worthy of exploiting.
Week 10 Primer
It’s time to turn the page and keeping rolling into Week 10. Hang in there all you fantasy owners. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, I promise. Week 10 is the last week with 6 teams on bye so that’s one positive. It’s an especially rough week for all you Andrew Luck owners….I’m sure that all your leaguemates feel sorry for you. In the leagues that I own Luck I have some pretty nice secondary options and a couple of them made my list this week. In addition Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers, RGIII, Teddy Bridgewater, and Ryan Fitzpatrick owners will be scrambling for a bye week replacements. That’s 3 of the top 5 scoring Fantasy quarterbacks on the shelf for week 10. With all these top flight quarterback options sitting I will provide more quarterback recommendations due to supply vs demand. Sit down, strap in and enjoy the ride because we’re taking off.
Lock of the Week-Top 5 QB
Ben Roethlisberger @ New York Jets
Ok I get it, you probably think I’m playing it safe going with Big Ben as my lock of the week. Before you go jumping to that conclusion please hear me out. First consider that Big Ben is a backup on most fantasy rosters and went undrafted in many leagues. Secondly, with his record-tying 12 touchdown passes in 2 games he’s the hottest QB in the league not named Luck. How many times does Big Ben have to do it before we start believing in him as an elite QB option? Believe it or not there are still people out there who aren’t starting him so I’m hoping to reach them. This is a dream matchup for Big Ben vs a Jets secondary that has allowed a league high 24 touchdown passes. It’s obvious that the talent pool surrounding Roethlisberger is better than ever and key to allowing him to spread the ball around. Antonio Brown is arguably playing like the best wide receiver in football while rookie Martavis Bryant is quickly emerging as a star. Bryant gives them the deep threat and big red zone target they’ve been missing since Plaxico Burress left. If everything else breaks down then Big Ben can dump it off to Le’Veon Bell and we all know what he’s capable of doing in the open field. With all of their explosive weapons it’s proving to be a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators to prepare for them and execute their schemes with any success. What’s going on in the Steel City is no fluke and expect it to become a trend as the season progresses.
28-38 355 yards 3 TD’s
Strong Play- Top 10
Cam Newton @ Philadelphia Eagles (MNF)
Will the real Cam Newton please stand up, please stand up! Cam has easily been one of the biggest fantasy disappointments of 2014. It’s been impossible to trust Cam this year considering his slew of injuries and lack of running. Everyone thought he was turning the corner week 6 vs the Bengals when he threw for 284 yards and 2 touchdowns. And for the first time all year they opened up the offensive playbook and let Cam run wild for 107 yards and another score. Cam owners everywhere started getting excited at which time his arrow was pointing up. Since then he’s regressed and has only thrown 1 touchdown pass and hasn’t topped 250 total yards. The Panthers will have 10 days to prepare for the Eagles on Monday Night Football. If there is ever a matchup for Cam to get back on track and transform into Superman, this would be the one. The Eagles secondary is banged up and currently allowing the 3rd most fantasy pts to opposing QBs. My gut says he bounces back and takes advantage of this Primetime matchup in South Philly. He’s due and has to be motivated after his latest dud on Thursday Night Football. I’ll be starting him in a couple of leagues and I would advise you to do the same.
24-36 296 yards 2 TDs, 13 rushes for 78 yards 1 TD
Bye Week Replacement
Mark Sanchez vs Carolina Panthers (MNF)
Make no mistake Chip Kelly loves his Pac 12 players and Sanchez is the latest one to add to the long list. Laugh all you want too about this pick but first look at what Kelly did with Foles last year in his high-powered, fast-paced offense. The Eagles love to sling the pigskin around and have the 4th most passing attempts in the NFL. Don’t forget that Sanchez was great in the preseason and arguably outplayed Foles. After Foles left the game on Sunday Sanchez took over the reins and looked more than capable of running Chip’s offense. Sanchez was efficient completing 15 out of 22 pass attempts for 202 yards and two touchdowns. Kelly will be able to plug and play Sanchez into the playbook without making any changes thus allowing him to hit the ground running. It definitely helps that he’s surrounded by a great nucleus and supporting cast of playmakers in Maclin, McCoy, Sproles and emerging rookie Jordan Matthews. Sanchez could very easily become this year’s version of Nick Foles but will need to prove himself on the field and limit his turnovers. Could there possibly be any better way than to prove his doubters wrong than on MNF in a Primetime matchup vs a weak Panthers defense? Go out and get Sanchez if you’re a Nick Foles owner and don’t be afraid to plug him in just like Chip has.
26-38 338 yards 3 TDs, 5 rushes for 13 yards
Stay Away Plays
Ryan Tannehill @ Detroit Lions
Ryan Tannehill has been heating up and has been a pretty consistent starting option lately. He’s coming off his most productive game of the season in a blowout win vs the San Diego Chargers. Ryan lit them up completing 24 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 47 yards on the ground which was good for a total of 35.1 fantasy pts in MLFS leagues. In Week 10 he’s headed to the Motor City to take on a stout Lions defense. Tannehill has had some cupcake matchups lately but this one is going to be a major challenge. The last time he faced a top defense on the road was Week 2 vs the Buffalo Bills. Tannehill didn’t fare that well against the Bills throwing for 241 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Plus the Lions are coming off the bye and have had plenty of time to prepare for the Dolphins. They’ll bring the heat and put the pressure on Tannehill forcing him into turnovers. The Lions have the edge rushers and linebackers to frustrate Tannehill. I think they’ll use a similar game plan with Tannehill as they did vs Teddy Bridgewater whom they sacked 8 times and picked off 3 times. Adding another wrinkle into this matchup is the fact that Lamar Miller is banged up (separated shoulder) and if the Phins can’t establish the run then Tannehill is really in trouble. Regardless of who’s toting the rock it will be tough sledding on the ground as the Lions are only allowing an average of 74 yards per game, 2nd fewest in the NFL. Don’t be fooled into thinking Tannehill is a safe start in Week 10, because he isn’t.
28-42 258 yards 1 TD, 2 INTs, 5 rushes for 23 yards
Colin Kaepernick @ New Orleans Saints
I’m sure the majority of Colin Kaepernick fantasy owners were as disappointed as I was with his Week 9 performance. No one is questioning his athletic ability but at some point we need to reevaluate whether or not he’ll ever be more than a low-end QB1? As frustrating as he is to own (much like Cam Newton) I still refuse to give up on him long-term. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment but I just can’t quit Kaepernick, well except for this week. The 49ers travel to The Big Easy to take on Drew Brees and company. I’m predicting that Kaepernick and troops will be suffering a hangover from the gut wrenching loss at home to the Rams. The Saints defense has improved and did manage to contain another dual-threat QB in Cam Newton to 194 yards of total offense and 2 touchdowns. Playing in a dome, on the road, and in hostile conditions are all great reasons to sit Kaepernick this week. Here is my fearless forecast for Kaepernick this week;
14-28 228 yards 1 TD 2 INTs, 6 rushes 32 yards
Carson Palmer vs St. Louis Rams
Carson Palmer may not be a popular pick to sit this week but the Rams defense is for real. Robert Quinn is heating up with 5 sacks over the last 3 games. He’ll give Palmer all he can handle off the edge and get help from Aaron Donald on the interior. Carson Palmer has been ultra-consistent with at least 2 passing TDs a game while averaging 17 fantasy pts a week. That’s an impressive streak but I’m predicting that it ends this week. I’ll admit it’s somewhat of a gut pick on my part but I’m swinging for the fences with this one. I’ll be benching him for Sanchez in one league and if you have better options than I’d recommend that you use them this week. The law of averages tells me something has to give this week and Palmer is due for a letdown.
25-42 245 yards 1 TD, 2 INTs
This week the tight end pool is missing a couple of studs in Gronk and Gates. I’m sure a lot of owners will be without the services of Dwayne Allen and Jordan Reed. You can’t replace Gronk’s production off the wire but here are a couple TEs that may be available to snatch off the scrap heap.
TE Strong Play- Top 10
Charles Clay @ Detroit Lions
Earlier in the season Charles Clay looked nothing like the player who broke out last year for 69 receptions, 759 yards, and 6 TDs. The main reason for this was that he injured his knee in early August and has been nursing it ever since. It appears that his knee is feeling better and for his fantasy owners, that’s a sign of good things to come. Clay is a gadget type player who is ultra-versatile and can be utilized in many different ways in Bill Lazor’s offense. Don’t forget Clay has also been used as a short-yardage, goal-line option in the past. More importantly he led the Dolphins in targets with 8 last week and finished in the top 5 in standard scoring. Clay has struggled with consistency but has scored in 2 of his last 3 games and it appears he’s on the upswing. This is a week that Tannehill will need to heavily involve Clay vs a ferocious blitzing Lions front. He will need to lock onto Clay with less time in the pocket to survey the field and make his secondary reads. I’m predicting he’ll lead the Phins in receiving again this week making him a viable starter.
6 receptions for 76 yards 1 TD
TE Strong Play- Top 10
Heath Miller @ New York Jets
Heath Miller has been the definition of boom or bust at tight end this year. If you can just manage to predict the weeks he’ll boom and start him you’re money. If only it was that simple…well actually this week it is for his fantasy owners. Miller has a dream matchup vs the Jets secondary who have allowed 11 touchdown catches to tight ends this year. That’s the most allowed by any team in the NFL making Miller a virtual lock to explode this week. And speaking of explosions, in week 4 and week 8 Miller put up 24.5 and 26.15 fantasy pts respectively in MLFS leagues. I’ll be starting him in a few leagues and he has a lot of flex appeal. He’s a great one week rental for Gronk and Gates owners and is especially attractive in PPR leagues. With Big Ben tossing for 600 yards in back to back weeks there will be plenty of targets for Miller.
9 receptions for 101 yards 1 TD
TE Stay Away Plays
Mychal Rivera vs Denver Broncos
Mychal Rivera has been David Carr’s main squeeze the past couple weeks with 20 targets and 2 touchdown catches. Before week 8 Rivera had failed to top 31 yards receiving in his first 6 games. I’ll bank on the under 31 yards receiving as being the norm for him most weeks. Don’t get caught up chasing the touchdowns because you’ll usually come away disappointed with a big goose egg. Rivera is a risky start and even if you’re desperate with 6 teams on bye you should be able to find better options on the wire. Rivera is poor man’s Timothy Wright and that’s not saying much. He needs to prove that he’s not a flash in the pan before I burn up a roster spot on him or spot start him. If you’re starting Rivera then you’re throwing darts blindfolded and praying that you’ll get lucky. He’s fool’s gold so take my advice and stay away.
2 receptions 22 yards 0 TD
Zach Ertz vs Carolina Panthers (MNF)
Zach Ertz was a breakout favorite of many experts entering the season. Early on he lived up to the hype and lofty expectations by hauling in 7 catches for 163 yards and a touchdown in his first 2 games. Since then he’s become an afterthought in Philly’s offense registering zero games with over 50 yards receiving. It appears that Ertz has been losing snaps to Brent Celek who is used primarily for run blocking. The Eagles are getting some of their thumpers back with Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce so this might help his future prospects. I’m not writing Ertz off and he’s a classic buy low and bounce-back candidate. However until he shows something he needs to take a seat on the bench. I’d take the wait and see approach with Mark Sanchez now under center and see how it plays out before cutting him.
3 receptions 34 yards 0 TD
In closing I hope the Bye Week Blues don’t get the best of you and that you take proper action to ensure you’re safe. We’re all heavily invested in our Fantasy Football teams and can’t afford to fall asleep at the wheel. Many of us will be forced to make some very tough cuts during the biggest bye weeks of the season. Make sure you think it through before hitting the drop button because dropper’s remorse is 10X worse than buyer’s remorse in Fantasy Sports. Good luck to everyone in week 10! Be sure to tune in to Major League Fantasy Sports Radio Show on Sunday, November 9th at 11am EST. I’ll be on the show with host EJ Garr and we’ll be talking Fantasy Football with experts Corey Roberts and Jeff Nelson. We’ll also be taking live callers at 646.915.8596. I’m looking forward to a great show and talking Fantasy Football with some of the best in the business.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________(Click the link below to listen live) Major League Fantasy Football Show: Join Ej Garr and Corey D. Roberts on Sunday the 9th of November from 11am-12pm EST for this weeks episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio provided by The Sports Palooza Radio Network. We will be taking live callers at 646.915.8596.This weeks guests are Jeff Nelson and Ron McCleese. Jeff is the DB coach for White Hall H.S. in PA and a two time Major League Fantasy Football champion. Ron is the newest addition to the writing staff and his articles are published every Friday about QB/TE plays for the coming week! Come join the party!