By: C.J. Doon
Last week, your favorite blogger correctly predicted the breakout performances of Chris Johnson and Vincent Jackson, who went on to lead the league in fantasy points at their respective positions. Johnson silenced the critics and fantasy haters with 195 yards rushing and two touchdowns, including an 83-yard scamper in the first quarter that reminded everyone in the stadium about CJ2K’s super-human speed, while Vincent Jackson compiled 216 yards receiving and one touchdown against the porous Saints’ defense, with 95 of those yards coming on one play late in the third quarter.
For those of you smart brave enough to heed my advice, you were rewarded with two of the most spectacular fantasy performances of the year, and, for that, a celebration is in order! Let’s hope for both of our sakes our string of good luck continues.
Moving on to other NFL news, it appears as if Psy’s smash-hit “Gangnam Style” has finally found its way into NFL locker rooms. A handful of players – such as Stevie Johnson of the Buffalo Bills and Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants – celebrated big plays with the popular dance move, much to the delight of the hometown crowds and Koreans everywhere.
If you don’t know the background story of the YouTube sensation – it currently has 500 million views, and is the most-liked video in YouTube history with 4 million “likes” – it is a sarcastic depiction of an affluent section of South Korea where, as Psy puts it, people are “noble during the day and crazy at night”. It has become so popular that K-Pop, which stands for Korean Pop music, has infiltrated the airwaves of countries all over the globe. Euny Hung of The Atlantic even mused that the emergence of irony in South Korea means that the country has reached its final stage of evolution.
In other news, the Panthers fired GM Marty Hurney after 10 seasons with the team, creating rampant speculation that the suddenly fallible Cam Newton is to blame. After a remarkable rookie season in which Cam threw for over 4,000 yards and 21 touchdown passes, the Panthers’ quarterback has struggled to find success in 2012. Through six games, Newton has completed less than 60% of his passes, thrown six interceptions, and has fumbled the ball five times. After suffering a fourth straight loss to the Cowboys this week, the Panthers now sit at 1-5, bringing Newton’s career record as a starter to a dismal 7-15. While Newton’s erratic play isn’t totally the reason for the Panthers’ struggles, it’s certainly part of the problem.
With the NFL news covered, let’s move on to this week’s edition of Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em!
Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, WRs, Denver Broncos – Note to self: Start every single wide receiver facing the New Orleans Saints’ defense. Last week, Vincent Jackson absolutely tore through the Saints’ secondary, catching 7 passes for 216 yards and one touchdown, with Josh Freeman throwing him the football! Just imagine what Peyton Manning & Co. will do the poor defensive backs from the Bayou on Sunday Night Football. I shudder at the thought.
Alex Green, RB, Green Bay Packers – Green Bay’s running backs have been a nightmare to fantasy owners this season, with Cedric Benson, James Starks, and Brandon Saine all jockeying for position in the Packers’ backfield. However, in the last two weeks, the second-year pro out of Hawaii has carried the rock 20 or more times, and is emerging as the go-to guy for the Pack. The problem is he’s only put up 100 yards rushing on 42 carries for an average of 2.3 yards/carry, which, as you know, is very, very bad. But here’s the kicker: he’s facing a dreadful Jacksonville Jaguars team this Sunday that allows 147.3 rushing yards per game and 8 touchdowns to opposing running backs. Even if Aaron Rodgers and the Pack continue to go to the air, this game has all the makings of a blowout. If that’s the case, look for Alex Green to amass a huge number of yards in garbage time.
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers – Rivers and the Chargers are coming off a much-needed bye week, after getting embarrassed on national television by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. The Chargers blew a 24-0 lead and lost to their division rivals in the final seconds, after Rivers’ fourth interception led to six points. However, the football gods are shining down on the Chargers this week, as they face the 1-5 Cleveland Browns. The Browns have allowed 15 touchdowns through the air this season, and are surrendering 276.9 yards/game to opposing quarterbacks. Rivers will be looking to avenge his dreadful performance against the Broncos with the Browns’ defense acting as the sacrificial lamb.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers – Newton’s decline is well-documented, but things are going to get worse before they get better. The Panthers face the vaunted Bears’ defense this week, a unit that has picked off opposing quarterbacks 13 times this season, and has only allowed five passing touchdowns. Unless Newton can summon some his magic from a season ago, the second-year quarterback will have a long day against the Bears.
Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns – The rookie out of Alabama has been very solid as the Browns’ starting running back this season, amassing 348 yards rushing and 197 receiving, and averaging 12.5 points per start. This week he will face one his toughest tests, as the Browns face the Chargers stiff run defense, which allows 71.2 yards/game on the ground and has given up only two rushing touchdowns all season. Richardson is also fighting a rib injury that held the rookie to 8 yards rushing on 8 carries last week against the Colts. If Richardson can’t go on Sunday, backup running back Montario Hardesty also deserves to sit.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals – Fitzgerald has had flashes of brilliance this season, most notably his 9-catch, 114 yards, one touchdown performance against the Eagles in Week 3. However, Fitzgerald has only amassed double-digit fantasy numbers in three of his six games. Things will not get any easier this week, as the Cardinals host the San Francisco 49ers and their terrific defense. The Niners have only allowed 13 passes of 20 yards or more this season, which means that Fitzgerald will have a tough time making a big play down the field. Don’t forget, John Skelton will be throwing passes this week for the Cardinals as well, which severely decreases the odds of a big performance by Fitz.