NFL Football Column: Football Daily Dose
What can Brown do for you?
Sometimes there’s a man who, well, he’s the man for his time and place. This year in fantasy football, that man is not The Dude. He is a dude named Bryce Brown.
At this point, everyone is well aware of Brown’s story. He’s the former No. 1 overall high school player in the country that had a troubled college career. He’s a seventh-round rookie that opened training camp behind Dion Lewis. And in the last two weeks, he’s been the biggest difference-maker in the most crucial weeks in fantasy football.
Therefore it’s completely understandable why there’s so much rabid interest in Brown right now. Over the last two weeks, he’s rushed for 347 yards and four touchdowns as a true every-down workhorse. He’s getting 21.5 carries per game while LeSean McCoy was getting 17.7. The question everyone wants to know is how long this can last.
That is a complicated answer:
1. When will LeSean McCoy be back this season? McCoy is currently in Phase 3 of the five-part concussion rehab. He’s progressed off last week, when he was in Phase 1 as of Thursday. Still, this does not mean McCoy is close to a return. Note that Michael Vick has been in Phase 4 of his rehab for roughly two weeks now. Consider McCoy doubtful for Week 14 and very questionable for Week 15.
2. Will the Eagles shut down McCoy even if he’s cleared? I don’t think so. Yes, they are in all-out evaluation mode for 2013. But this is very different than the Jason Babin or Michael Vick situations. Babin was a cancer in the locker room and a lock to get cut after the season. Vick is a poor bet to be back next season and at quarterback, you can only play one guy. If McCoy gets fully -- and I mean fully -- cleared, he figures to suit up. He’s still a core piece of this team’s future and under contract through 2017.
3. Can we count on Bryce Brown if McCoy returns? Expect a timeshare. Unlike quarterback, the running back position allows coaches leeway. Andy Reid can please both Brown and McCoy by giving each 10-14 touches while saving some wear on their tires. Brown and McCoy would each be flex plays in that scenario.
NEWS OF THE DAY #2
Ben Roethlisberger is known for playing through pain. So it wasn’t a surprise when the reliable Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Tuesday morning that the Steelers expect Big Ben to start Sunday’s game against the Chargers. The soreness in his chest/shoulder is diminishing, his arm strength is coming back and his range of motion has improved.
However, coach Mike Tomlin isn’t ready to make that call yet. At his Tuesday press conference, he claimed the Steelers were building the gameplan around Charlie Batch right now. Expect that to change as long as Roethlisberger shows well at Wednesday’s practice.
In other Steelers news, Tomlin followed through on his “co-starter” plan between Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders last week. Wallace played on 41-of-67 snaps, a 61-percent clip. In the 11 previous games, he was playing on 83 percent of the snaps. Meanwhile Sanders played 49 snaps. Still, Wallace saw eight targets and will still be on the WR3 radar as long as Big Ben gets back under center. There’s enough three-wide sets here for everyone to eat.
And in the final piece of Steelers news, Tomlin announced that he’s sticking with Jonathan Dwyer as his starter this week. No flip-flopping with Rashard Mendenhall, who projects as a healthy scratch once again.
NEWS OF THE DAY #3
Darren McFadden (ankle) appeared to be held out of Sunday’s loss to the Browns as a precaution, possibly due to a muddy field. So it’s no surprise that he now is locked and loaded to make his triumphant return against the Broncos on Thursday night.
Per running backs coach Kelly Skipper, McFadden has “got his burst back” and is “a lot better” this week. That sounds like a man preparing to start and ride his most talented player. With Marcel Reece nursing hamstring and quad issues, the only viable fantasy play in this backfield this week is McFadden.
DEPTH CHART QUICK SLANTS
Rashard Mendenhall is headed for another healthy scratch. … Constant underachiever Mike Thomas will step into the starting lineup for Ryan Broyles (knee). Titus Young has been banished to IR. … The Cardinals saw enough of Todd Heap and cut him Tuesday. Rob Housler is entrenched. … Tim Tebow is not considered a candidate to start Sunday, so fantasy owners can ignore the big Greg McElroy vs. Mark Sanchez controversy. … David Wilson played just seven snaps on Monday night. He’s a mere handcuff.
INJURY QUICK SLANTS
Julian Edelman (broken foot) is done for the year. Brandon Lloyd should get more looks in theory, but I wouldn’t bet on it. … Brandon Stokley (wrist, hip) was limited in Tuesday’s practice. He’s a game-time call again for Thursday. … Sidney Rice is going through concussion protocols this week. Monitor this situation. … DeMarco Murray (foot) emerged from his 27-touch return setback-free. … Alshon Jeffery (knee) is on track to return to the starting lineup Sunday. … Brandon LaFell (toe) is in a walking boot. These turf toe issues are scary. … James Starks sustained a potentially serious and previously undisclosed knee injury last week. Alex Green should be added in most formats.
DEFENSIVE SPOTS STARTS
Adding a different D/ST each week based on matchups is a fine strategy. Here are three units that might be on waivers to consider for streaming purposes:
* For more waiver thoughts at all positions, check out Chris Wesseling’s latest here.
1. BROWNS vs. Chiefs - We’ve been talking about the Browns in this space for the better part of the last month. Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin are premier run-stuffers. In the seven games Joe Haden has played this season, the Browns are 4-3 and are giving up just 17.1 points per game. The Chiefs could have an emotional hangover off last week’s stirring win over the Panthers.
2. JETS at Jaguars - A Jags’ offense that once had upside is now dealing with concussions to playmaker Cecil Shorts and starting running back Rashad Jennings. Going on the road isn’t exactly intimidating when you’re at Jacksonville. They’re averaging 11.3 points in six home games this year.
3. JAGUARS vs. Jets - The Jags have a really bad defense. But they’re at home and the Jets are going to start Greg McElroy or Mark Sanchez. We could do worse.
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