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Week 7 flops: Brown, Kolb falter
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I believe that it’s safe to say that the coaching staff and players are spending most of their time trying to figure out how to jumpstart the sputtering running game. Sure, nobody expected the Dolphins to run on the league’s top-ranked rushing defense, but this is a season-long issue.
Ronnie Brown totaled 14 yards on nine carries. Ricky Williams produced a more palatable 48 yards on 11 carries. Brown caught two passes for 20 yards.
I’ll put the issue in perspective. The Dolphins currently rank 16th in rushing offense and have produced a single rushing touchdown this season. By way of contrast, the Dolphins finished with 22 rushing touchdowns in 2009.
Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall came into Sunday’s game against the Dolphins averaging 99 rushing yards per game. He produced a season-low 37 yards on 15 carries.
Brandon Marshall caught five passes for 57 yards against the Steelers, his third effort with fewer than 60 receiving yards this season. Unfortunately, Marshall has recorded only a single touchdown reception this season. He’s averaging seven receptions and 87.3 yards per game.
Heath Miller caught all three of the passes thrown to him against the Dolphins. He finished the game with 33 receiving yards. Alas, he couldn’t build on the Week 6 performance in which Miller scored his first touchdown of the season.
The Titans piled up 37 points on the Eagles. Chris Johnson owners who missed the action probably logged into their leagues this morning and assumed that a scoring error had occurred. No. There was no late 35-yard sprint for a touchdown this week. Johnson was held in check by the Eagles, generating a dismal total of 66 yards on 24 carries (two receptions for seven yards).
The Tennessee defense harassed Kevin Kolb into three turnovers and allowed Andy Reid to make a quick proclamation about the quarterback position for Week 9 (Michael Vick returns). Kolb completed 26-of-48 attempts for 231 yards with one touchdown and three turnovers (two interceptions).
Breakout fantasy hero Jeremy Maclin was limited to 42 yards on five receptions in the loss. That’s certainly a decent start for owners in PPR leagues, but owners in traditional scoring leagues were left wanting.
Brent Celek finally started to assert himself and become a bigger part of the Philadelphia offense in recent weeks. He was an afterthought in Sunday’s loss to Tennessee, finishing the disappointing loss with two receptions for just eight yards.
Christopher Ivory is now the lead back in New Orleans, and expectations for the undrafted rookie from Tiffin were high for Sunday’s tilt against Cleveland. Alas, this game did not play out as scribes and pundits nationwide had scripted, and Ivory was limited to 48 yards on 15 carries. For all of the hype surrounding his efforts in recent weeks (7.1 yards per carry in three games ahead of Sunday’s shutdown), Ivory has yet to actually score a touchdown.
Marques Colston finally produced the huge breakout game that fantasy owners had been anticipating. Unfortunately, his emergence pushed Robert Meachem (two catches for 31 yards) and Lance Moore (five catches for 43 yards) into the background. Meachem and Moore were targeted five and eight times, respectively.
Jay Cutler played catch with DeAngelo Hall on Sunday. Cutler completed 26-of-40 attempts overall for 281 yards with one touchdown, four interceptions, four sacks and a lost fumble. Granted, that fumble should have been ruled a touchdown, but throwing the red flag on Monday doesn’t count. With this effort, Cutler enters the bye week with seven touchdown passes and seven interceptions (three lost fumbles) and 27 sacks.
The Chicago running game sputtered once again this week. Matt Forte finished with 41 yards on 10 carries. Sadly, that’s his third-best rushing total in seven games this season. Forte’s five receptions for 32 yards helped owners in PPR leagues somewhat, but he did lose a fumble. Even the most ravenous Chicago fan looks forward to this week’s opponent: A bye.
Can I ask one additional question? Why has Forte carried the ball 12 times or less in five of seven games?
Cedric Benson carried the ball 20 times for 70 yards and lost a fumble. He’s rushed for more than 80 yards only twice this season and faces daunting tasks in the next two weeks against the Dolphins and Steelers.
Tony Gonzalez and Michael Jenkins get to experience the joy of the end zone. Gonzalez caught two of the four passes thrown to him for 27 yards. Jenkins finished the game with three catches for 25 yards on six targets.
Jonathan Stewart returned from the bye with another tepid performance. He carried the ball 14 times for 29 yards. Stewart is on the radar for Week 8 against the Rams, as backfield mate DeAngelo Williams is being treated for a sprained foot.
Michael Crabtree caught four passes in Sunday’s loss to Carolina, his fifth consecutive game with at least three receptions. Alas, he finished the game with only 31 receiving yards and his two-game scoring streak was halted. Crabtree has finished only one of seven games with more than 58 receiving yards.
Kellen Winslow remains a solid option in PPR leagues, but his red zone opportunities have been infrequent. He caught five passes for 44 yards in Sunday’s win over the Rams, his sixth straight game with at least three receptions. However, he has eclipsed 44 receiving yards only twice. Winslow has yet to score.
Larry Fitzgerald and the Cardinals failed to find any momentum coming out of the bye week. Starting quarterback Max Hall was injured early in the contest, thereby forcing the erratic Derek Anderson back into the lineup. As a result, Fitzgerald produced a smallish effort in the loss to Seattle. He caught three passes for 30 yards on 10 targets. He’s caught only 29 of the 64 passes thrown to him this season (for a 45.3 percent completion rate).
To put a positive spin on things, New England receiver Wes Welker caught two-thirds of the passes thrown to him by Tom Brady. Unfortunately, those four catches resulted in just 25 receiving yards. Welker has caught four or more passes in every game this season, but hasn’t found the end zone since Week 2 and is averaging just 49.2 receiving yards per game.
Deion Branch dominated in his return to the New England lineup in Week 6. He was shut out for most of Sunday’s game against San Diego before finishing the contest with four receptions and 39 receiving yards. He was targeted eight times by Tom Brady. I didn’t anticipate much from Ryan Mathews against the Vince Wilfork-led run-stuffing defense. I couldn’t have anticipated the Mathews would be limited to 15 yards on eight carries (two catches for seven yards). To add insult to injury, Mathews’ fantasy owners watched Mike Tolbert vulture another short-yardage touchdown.
The Raiders finally slowed the Brandon Lloyd juggernaut. He was limited to a single reception for 46 yards in Week 7, a catch that came late in the blowout loss. Fantasy owners were confused by the early scoring barrage from the Raiders, and found some solace in the fact that Kyle Orton would be chucking the ball downfield repeatedly. Alas, Lloyd was targeted only three times in the loss and had a tough individual matchup against Nnamdi Asomugha.
I must finish this with a nod to the Green Bay effort against Brett Favre. The Packers were aided by replays that wiped out a couple touchdowns, but the final stats are all that count. Near-misses don’t factor into the final equation. Favre completed 16-of 29 attempts for 212 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.