Underrated/Overrated: Buccaneers unwilling to trust Blount's talent
Every week when we write this article, we're tempted to proclaim that the past week's football action was simply sublime, the best ever. Of course, that's not true, but can you blame someone for feeling that way? Each week there's a new goat and a new hero, a team on the rise and a team falling off a cliff, and a new controversy involving either a handshake or Tim Tebow.
Our job, however, is to make science of that excitement, to strip away the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat to expose the truth. The truth is, at least this week, that DeSean Jackson was wildly overrated even before he missed that meeting. The truth is also that Andy Dalton deserves your attention, Jay Cutler deserves your derision, and believe it or not, there's a receiver in Denver that should be on your radar.
He may have decent numbers, but remember that 72 percent of his points have come from two monster weeks, with next to nothing in the other weeks. Despite Earnest Graham's injury, he is still losing carries and targets to Kregg Lumpkin. That's right -- Kregg Lumpkin. Ouch. It gets me so angry, it almost makes me want to punch Byron Hout! In terms of rushing efficiency, Blount is much better than Lumpkin, earning a 40 percent success rate. With that said, the Bucs simply don't trust him on passing downs; he has a dismal catch rate of 54 percent, far below average for a running back.
Despite the Bears' success, Cutler continues to underperform. Cutler has scored under 10 points three times already this year and has yet to put up a 20-plus game. Digging a bit deeper, the Bears' passing offense has scored 14 fewer points than a league-average offense would if put in similar situations. Despite that, Cutler is still being started over the likes of Matt Hasselbeck, Mark Sanchez, and Andy Dalton. Trey Parker was right: Jay Cutler has the potential to be good someday; he's just not all that great right now.
Jackson owners have been sorely disappointed this season and his benching last week was the butterscotch icing on the Tastycake. Typically, Jackson will have subpar performances but make up for it with a few huge weeks -- the definition of a boom/bust performer. He's not performing like his typical self, though: he doesn't have a single 20-point performance, and he's also scored less than five points in two-thirds of his games. You don't have to drop him, but try to get some value out of him while you still can.
Dalton has helped power a surprising Bengals team that finds itself in the thick of the playoff hunt. The "Red Rifle" has a 14:9 TD to interception ratio, a very solid figure given the historical difficulty rookies have adjusting to the pace of the NFL. He has also scored 10-plus points in each of the Bengals' last six games, making him a solid and consistent fantasy option with the plethora of injuries to QBs this year. This week's matchup against the Ravens may not be all that great, but their upcoming schedule beyond that is softer than a Drake/Air Supply mashup.
While he is owned in the majority of leagues, he should be owned in just about all of them. Decker has totaled 35 points in the last three weeks (with Tebow at QB, no less) and has scored 10-plus in six of his nine games. He ranks 10th among all fantasy receivers, and has 64 targets on the year -- nearly double the next Denver receiver. The Minnesota product has been the only constant on the Broncos this year, unless if you're counting the constant disappointment of the Bronco faithful, or the constant barrage of Tebow jokes.
Frank Gore is always an injury risk and he showed it last Sunday, sitting out most of the second half. His backup, Hunter, has more sleeper potential than a narcoleptic on Thanksgiving. He has put up 10-plus points twice this season while playing behind Gore, and given a full workload could be a solid fantasy option. Hunter is averaging 4.8 yards per carry and boasts a 46 percent success rate, 10 percent higher than Gore. Oh, and the 49ers don't love to pass the ball either. Then again, would you if Alex Smith was your QB?