Fantasy Football Fast Forward: Nick Foles flies like an Eagle

Monday October 14th, 2013

Philadelphia's Nick Foles (9) soared against the Buccaneers in only his seventh career start.
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

If you needed any proof that the Eagles wouldn't alter the playbook with Nick Foles at the helm, you got it at the end of their first drive against the Buccaneers on Sunday.

After marching down the field more than 80 yards, the Eagles had a first-and-goal at the Tampa Bay 4-yard-line. They set up in shotgun, spread out four receivers with LeSean McCoy in the backfield and ran a perfect quarterback draw to get on the board. It almost seemed a play call in honor of the injured Michael Vick.

Foles kept on rolling all game, finishing the day with 296 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions and 9.55 yards per attempt. Coming into the week, Pro Football Focus ranked the Buccaneers 10th in pass coverage. This is also a unit that picked Drew Brees twice and held him to one touchdown and 7.0 YPA. DeSean Jackson paired with Foles just fine, hauling in six passes for 64 yards and two scores, and Riley Cooper surprised with 120 yards and a score of his own. McCoy racked up the yardage yet again, this time totaling 171 from scrimmage, including his third 100-yard rushing game of the season. Against a respectable opponent, the offense truly did not skip a beat.

None of this changes the fact that Vick will be the starter once his hamstring has healed. That could still be a week or two from now, though, especially after Foles came in and showed them he can handle the role. Given that it's Vick and that hamstrings have a way of being tricky, the Eagles could decide to err on the side of caution and give him however much time he needs to get all the way back to 100 percent. Even if that's just one week, you'll want to hold onto him.

The Eagles host the Cowboys, who limited Robert Griffin III to 246 yards and 6.3 YPA, next week. However, Dallas had surrendered 8.2 YPA and 14 touchdowns on the season through five weeks. It's a little early for projections, but I'd bet that Foles ends up in my top 12 if he starts. The week after that, the Eagles welcome the Giants to The Linc. The Giants boast a surprisingly stingy 7.0 YPA, but they've allowed 14 passing touchdowns through six games. Foles should stick as a starting fantasy quarterback while he serves in Vick's place.

On to the rest of the Week 6 news...

The Good

Let's remain with that game but flip our focus to the other starting quarterback, Mike Glennon. He looked much improved in his second career start, completing 26-of-43 passes for 273 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Those aren't world-beating numbers, and the matchup with Philadelphia was quite friendly. The real takeaway is that he showed competence. Now, that doesn't really matter for him, at least in a fantasy context. I'm not recommending him as some under-the-radar option. It does give us reason to exhale with respect to Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin, though. They looked likely to fall short of high expectations due to poor quarterback play, but Glennon's performance on Sunday has to have Jackson's and Martin's owners breathing a little easier this week. Jackson had his highest-scoring game of the season, catching nine of 14 targets for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Martin didn't have a noteworthy day, but he'll benefit in the long term if Glennon can play at, or even just below, league average.

The Bad

If "St. Louis 38, Houston 13" in Houston isn't rock bottom, I'm not quite sure what is. If you didn't see any of the game, you'd probably just assume that Matt Schaub finally imploded and lost the job, especially when you see T.J. Yates' name in the box score. But Schaub only came out after he injured his ankle in the third quarter. In fact, Schaub's stats don't look that bad on the surface. He hit on 15-of-21 passes for 186 yards. That's good for 8.9 YPA. He didn't throw a touchdown or an interception. The offense still couldn't get going, and it's because they cannot seem to connect on big pass plays down the field as we diagnosed in last week's survivor column.

Schaub did not complete one pass Sunday that traveled more than 20 yards in the air. He only completed two passes for more than 20 yards, period. One was a screen to Arian Foster and the other was on an intermediate route by DeAndre Hopkins across the middle. That's what this once-potent offense is missing. Arian Foster continued to chug right along, racking up 141 rushing yards and 57 receiving yards. Andre Johnson did his part, catching seven of the eight balls thrown his way for 88 yards. The team clearly missed Owen Daniels, as backup Garrett Graham had just two receptions, but it's not as if the invisible lid on this offense just appeared when Daniels got injured.

Schaub didn't do anything to lose the job before getting injured, and it's not as if Yates shined when he got in the game. Just as Foles paid homage to Vick with a rushing touchdown, Yates honored Schaub by throwing a pick-six on his first drive. I feel it's likely that Gary Kubiak would be sticking with Schaub if he weren't dealing with the ankle injury. There's no word yet as to its severity, but the early bet here is that Yates will be under center come Sunday.

The Texans take on the Chiefs in Kansas City next week. You're not starting Houston's quarterback no matter who it is. They have a bye the following week. Given all the factors, I'd only consider adding Yates as a backup in two-QB leagues.

The Ugly

If you were excited for Jets-Steelers, you're probably a Jets fan. Seriously, I wouldn't even think Steelers fans would be all that jacked for the game with the way their team has played this year. It wasn't exactly a surprise to see this one turn into a snoozefest. In your standard 12-team league where everyone starts one quarterback, two running backs, two receivers, one flex and one tight end, only Antonio Brown and Heath Miller from this game scored at the level of a fantasy starter for Week 6. With one game left on the board, Brown is 22nd among receivers while Miller is seventh among tight ends in scoring for the week. And neither of them even found the end zone.

Bilal Powell ran for 30 yards on nine carries. His counterpart, Le'Veon Bell, slogged his way to 34 yards on 16 totes. Geno Smith threw for 201 yards and 5.9 YPA with no touchdowns and two interceptions. No Jet reached 60 receiving yards. Shuan Suisham was the scoring star of the day, drilling all four of his field goal attempts to pace the Steelers. Think of it this way: We all watched Cowboys-Broncos two weeks ago, right? This game was pretty much the opposite of that.

There is something for fantasy owners to pay attention to here, and that's the reemergence of the aforementioned Miller. He has 12 catches for 154 yards in his last two games, and is coming off a career year in which he posted 71 receptions, 816 yards and eight touchdowns. He has always been a favorite of Ben Roethlisberger, and is ensconced in his familiar role after easing back into the lineup two weeks ago.

Week 6 observations


• The Andy Dalton and A.J. Green bounce-back weeks were pretty easy to spot heading into this matchup. The Bills defense has put up middle-of-the-road stats in terms of pass yardage, but it had surrendered the 12th-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks and second-most to receivers. Dalton threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns, with 103 of those yards and one of the scores going to Green. The Bengals head to Detroit next week, making Dalton a fringe play at best.

Terrelle Pryor's struggles in Kansas City were equally as predictable as Dalton's and Green's success. Pryor looks like he's going to be a fine quarterback and fantasy option, but Sunday's game against the Chiefs was a nearly impossible assignment. You've got an untested quarterback playing at Arrowhead for the first time going up against quite possibly the league's best defense. We'll get to the Chiefs' remarkable defensive day later, but suffice to say that you probably won if you started them. For now, don't let this influence your opinion of Pryor all that much.

Cam Newton finally had a monster game, leading all players with 30.68 points in a standard scoring league. In real terms, he completed 20-of-26 passes for 242 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also ran for 30 yards and a score. Newton has no doubt been frustrating to own this year, but he has a few games like this in him every year. I've been getting more and more questions about him, and I keep finding myself coming down on his side. You'll be starting him for sure next week, as the Panthers host the Rams.

Matt Cassel started opposite Newton in that game, but those days are likely over. The Vikings will likely hand the reins to Josh Freeman when they visit the Giants on Monday night next week. I'd consider throwing a few bucks at him if you can spare the roster space. As horribly as his time ended in Tampa Bay, this is still a 25-year-old guy who threw for 3,451 yards, 7.3 YPA and 25 touchdowns against six interceptions at 22 years old. If he can be that Freeman, this offense could take a step forward. Having the league's best running back will help, and he has pass-catching weapons in Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph and Jerome Simpson that give him enough to succeed.

• If I were ranking quarterbacks for the rest of the year, I'd have Peyton Manning first, Drew Brees second and Aaron Rodgers third. However, Rodgers hasn't been piling up the statistics that matter to fantasy owners the last few weeks. He threw for 315 yards one touchdown and one interception Sunday, making it three straight games with just one touchdown. It was the first time he topped 300 yards since Week 2, which was also the last time he ranked as a top-10 quarterback for the week. I'm not exactly worried about him, but Randall Cobb and James Jones both left the game and did not return. Cobb looked seriously injured after a low hit from Matt Elam, but early reports suggest that it might not be as bad as is feared. Rodgers would certainly suffer if one or both missed time, which appears all but certain.

• We all knew Peyton Manning would have his worst statistical game of the year against the Jaguars, right? He was held beneath 300 yards for the first time his year, and had two touchdowns while turning the ball over three times. Next week should be interesting: The Broncos visit the Colts in Manning's return to Indianapolis.

Tom Brady lifted the Patriots to a huge victory over the Saints, churning out a workmanlike 269 yards and one huge touchdown, hooking up with Kenbrell Thompkins for the game winner with five seconds remaining. Even though he's doing a great job of quarterbacking the Patriots, he just isn't putting up the numbers to quarterback a fantasy team from week to week. Danny Amendola suffered a head injury that possibly could keep him out for some time, and the Rob Gronkowski saga continues to drag on for the Patriots. Brady remains a matchup play as long as he's without his best targets.

• Dallas managed to score 31 points against Washington despite having just 213 total yards. Tony Romo's owners had to be dreaming of a huge day against the hapless Redskins, but he put up just 170 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was the biggest let down for his owners among quarterbacks this week. However, I'm still starting him with confidence in the battle for first in the NFC East in Philadelphia next week.

Some people may have been down on Arian Foster before the season, but nobody is doubting him now.
Bob Levey/Getty Images

Running Backs:

• Not only will BenJarvus Green-Ellis not go away, but also he appears to have secured himself enough of a role to really be a thorn in Giovani Bernard's side. BJGE had 86 yards and 18 carries to Bernard's 15. Bernard had a huge game as a receiver, catching six passes for 72 yards and a touchdown and showing exactly why he has taken over as the de facto No. 1 back in Cincinnati. But the Bengals clearly trust the veteran Ellis, and he'll continue to get enough touches to be useful. In the average week, he's a fringe flex option.

Willis McGahee ran for 37 yards on 10 carries against a Detroit team that had surrendered 5.3 yards per game in its first five contests. That's a huge disappointment for a guy who looked like he could play his way into regular flex consideration. I do own him in a few leagues and would feel comfortable turning to him when I have regulars on bye weeks, but I would not feel good about my team if he were in my starting lineup every week.

Darren McFadden had a pedestrian day, totaling 83 yards from scrimmage on 19 touches. The good news, though, is that he had 16 carries and his balky hamstring seemed to hold up just fine. Meanwhile, Rashad Jennings had just four carries. There's no doubting which guy owns this backfield. The Raiders have a bye next week, which is welcome news for McFadden. He has a good chance to be fully healthy by their Week 8 game.

Eddie Lacy was a guy who felt like he was just one week away from legitimizing himself as a weekly starter. After racking up 120 yards on 23 carries against the Ravens, he has officially arrived. Through five weeks, the Ravens allowed 3.4 yards per carry, ranking fifth in the league. That's two straight weeks in which he has run the ball effectively and with authority. Lacy draws another tough matchup next week with the Packers hosting the Browns, but he has earned the matchup-proof stamp of approval.

• We talked briefly above about rest-of-season quarterback ranks, and there are some interesting debates there at the running-back position, too. For one, how high would Arian Foster go in a redraft league? He's up to 531 rushing yards and 22 receptions for 183 receiving yards this season. He was supposedly one of the biggest risks of the first round, and was going behind C.J. Spiller, Doug Martin and Ray Rice in seemingly every late-summer draft. You'd obviously take Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy ahead of him. But would he be the fourth back on the board? I'd see his prime contenders for the spot as Matt Forte and Marshawn Lynch, but I'd ultimately have Foster slightly ahead of them.

Zac Stacy put up nearly identical numbers in his second start as he did in his debut, running for 79 yards on 18 carries. He has played himself into weekly flex consideration. The Rams visit the Panthers next week, which isn't a great matchup for Stacy. My early line on him has him just outside the top-25 backs for the week.

Andre Ellington got himself 12 touches on Sunday, totaling 92 yards. He outgained Rashard Mendenhall in absolute yardage and yards per carry, picking up 56 yards and 8.0 YPC against Mendenhall's 40 yards and 4.0 YPC. The Cardinals are not going to completely excise Mendenhall from the offense any time soon. Not only does he have a concrete role to play for the team, but also they likely wouldn't want to tax Ellington with a ton of touches every single week. In fact, I wouldn't expect the breakdown to change all that much going forward. I could see Ellington getting a slight uptick in touches per week the rest of the year, but this feels like as pure of a 50/50 timeshare as we have right now. That makes both of them worthy of flex consideration in the right situation.

DeMarco Murray got just seven carries on Sunday night before suffering a knee sprain.

Brandon Jacobs looked like the beast of old on Thursday night, powering his way to 106 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. I'd be willing to bet a whole lot of money he won't approach those numbers in another game all season. It was the perfect storm of opponent and opportunity. The Bears defense has really struggled this year, allowing 373 yards per game. Jacobs and Da'Rel Scott were the only ballcarriers active for the Giants, and Scott left the game with a hamstring injury. The Giants will likely add another back, and Andre Brown is working his way back from a broken leg suffered during the preseason. Don't be fooled by Jacobs.

Wide Receivers:

Calvin Johnson played through a knee injury, but caught just three of his eight targets. Perhaps the knee was still limiting him. The Lions host the Bengals next week, and Johnson should just be one week stronger.

Denarius Moore had five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown. He has reached those numbers for two straight weeks now, and appears to be developing a nice connection with Terrelle Pryor. The Raiders have a bye next week, but this is the sort of consistency that could make Moore a weekly starter.

• As I said a bit earlier, Randall Cobb and James Jones both left Sunday's games with leg injuries. If both are out for an extended period, bump Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley up your rest-of-season rankings. While the overall offense would suffer a bit with two huge weapons like that on the sideline, Nelson and Finley would be able to make up for it with an increase in targets. And those of you in deep leagues looking to hit a home run may want to consider Jarrett Boykin. He'll likely step into the starting lineup alongside Nelson. In a system as lethal as this, sometimes all a guy needs is an opportunity.

• Well hello Justin Blackmon. This felt like it could be a huge game for him, but he didn't wait until garbage time to start making an impact. He got a whopping 20 targets and caught 14 of them for 190 yards. That gives him 19 catches for 326 yards and a touchdown in two games. It doesn't really matter who his quarterback is, though I do prefer Chad Henne for his prospects. Blackmon is a sure thing for the rest of the year, and looks like a star in the making. He's a top-10 receiver the rest of the way.

Terrance Williams is an interesting case for the rest of the year. It's hard to draw any fantasy conclusions from the Cowboys' performance against the Redskins, simply because the game flow didn't really allow for them to showcase any offensive players. Williams caught both of his targets for 27 yards and a touchdown, while Miles Austin made his return, catching zero balls on four targets. This offense has the juice to support two fantasy receivers, but it's hard to say whether Williams or Austin is ahead in the pecking order. Both make solid depth options for now. With a flattering matchup in Philly next week, you could do worse than either of them for a flex player.

Alshon Jeffery followed up his record-setting day by catching exactly one pass for 27 yards against the Giants on Thursday. Don't be discouraged, though. It just wasn't his day. Jay Cutler tried to hit him twice on deep balls, and both fell just out of his reach. One looked like a potential touchdown if Jeffery hadn't stumbled shortly before the ball got to him. The Bears take shots with him downfield with regularity, and he has even added 72 rushing yards on four carries. I'd get him in my lineup against Washington next week.

Tight Ends:

Joseph Fauria came out of nowhere for the Lions on Sunday, catching three passes, all of which went for touchdowns. The Lions have been getting spotty production from Brandon Pettigrew for a while now, and the team could clearly use another option in the passing game without a receiver stepping up alongside Calvin Johnson. Fauria may get a shot to be that guy. If he plays his way into that role, he could be worth grabbing. For now, just keep an eye on him.

• The Patriots have done the impossible. Somehow, some way, they managed to keep Jimmy Graham catchless. That hadn't happened since his rookie year of 2010. Aqib Talib followed Graham all over the field on Sunday, and did some of the best coverage work we've seen this season. What's especially troubling for the Saints, though, is that Graham suffered an undisclosed injury to his lower left leg. We should have more news on this early in the week, but be sure to watch this situation carefully. Luckily the Saints have a bye this week, so he has two weeks to heal.

• If you're planning for the potential of life without Graham, you may want to give some consideration to the widely available Dallas Clark. He caught four of his six targets for 81 yards Sunday, and is up to 33 targets on the season. Joe Flacco has looked his way at least six times in four games this year, making him one of the quarterback's favorite targets. The Ravens just got Jacoby Jones back, but this is a team desperate for someone who can take some of the pass-catching burden off Torrey Smith. The Ravens visit the Steelers next week. If you're digging on the wire, Clark is worth a shot.

• Garrett Graham didn't fill in admirably for Owen Daniels, catching just two passes for 25 yards. I still think he can be a plug-and-play with Daniels out, even if T.J. Yates ends up as the starter. He's another potential guy to look at if you're worried about losing Graham for a few weeks, but he's not someone you want to roll with each and every week.

• When the 49ers use Vernon Davis the way they did Sunday, he looks every bit as good as the superstar Graham. He's not the athlete Graham is, but he can create similar matchup problems against all types of defensive backs. In a redraft league, I'd think good and hard about making him the No. 2 tight end, and potentially the No. 1 depending on Graham's injury status.

• Here's one final Graham replacement option. Jordan Reed caught four passes for 58 yards in Washington's loss to Dallas, and now has at least six targets in three of the four games he has played this season. Again, he's not a big enough part of the offense to be trusted every week, but he definitely has the ability to fill in when the time is right. Washington has favorable matchups with the Bears and Broncos the next two weeks. Reed could easily sneak his way into the top 12 in one or both of those games.


• OK, remember that Chiefs performance we discussed about 3,000 words ago? Here it finally is. They racked up 10 sacks, three interceptions and a touchdown. It's hard to lose when you get a game like that out of your defense.

• Carolina again proved its mettle as a fantasy defense, sacking Matt Cassel three times, picking him off twice and holding the Vikings to 10 points. The Panthers should be one of the top-ranked defenses this week, hosting the Rams in Charlotte.

• For the lack of scoring, there wasn't a whole lot of exciting defense being played by the Steelers and Jets, at least from a fantasy perspective. They combined for seven sacks and two takeaways, both of which were by the Steelers. Despite both ranking in the top 10 in total defense coming into the week, they rank in the bottom-fourth of the league in fantasy points in standard scoring leagues.


GONOS: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em -- New faces in upper tier of WRs
BELLER: Player Stat Projections -- Top running backs will explode
SI STAFF: Player Rankings -- Quarterback may surprise owners
FLOOD: Waiver Wire -- Randle, Dobson worth a roster spot
BELLER, FLOOD: Weekly Roundtable -- Time to stash Brown, Crabtree?
McQUADE: Risers, Sliders -- Nick Foles emerges as a fantasy starter
BELLER: Early Week 7 advice -- Martin, Jackson owners can breathe easier

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