Fantasy Football

Fitzpatrick a sleeper for Week 10

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Michael Harmon

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Harmon Rankings: QB, RB, WR, TE/DEF/K

Fantasy owners anticipated a huge game from Andrew Luck in the Thursday night opener to Week 10 against the Jaguars. Luck completed 18-of-26 pass attempts for 227 yards with an interception, two sacks and a lost fumble. He added 11 rushing yards on seven attempts, including two rushing touchdowns.

Of course, I was curious to watch Blaine Gabbert on the other side of the ball. He made several big throws but, alas, also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Gabbert also left the game for a play because of a shoulder injury. He tried to return after a penalty was marked off. However, Gabbert was pulled back to the sideline and did not return to the game.

I’ll celebrate the brilliance of Cecil Shorts III and bemoan the RBBC approach employed by the Colts in Thursday’s game in the wide receiver and running back previews, respectively.

Let’s lock and load with this week’s quarterback edition of “Lineup Calls.”


(Exclude Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan and Eli Manning)

Ben Roethlisberger vs. KC
Roethlisberger posted a strong effort in a tough road game in Week 9 against the Giants. It was his fifth multi-touchdown game of the season, and Roethlisberger has yet to be shut out in 2012. There’s no chance that his scoring streak ends on Monday night.

This is a glorious spot for owners to get reacquainted with the Pittsburgh defense, and I expect Roethlisberger to benefit from advantageous field position. Add the Todd Haley factor into the equation (facing his former team) and you’ve got a recipe for a big day. The Chiefs have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks (17 touchdowns against six interceptions).

Matthew Stafford at MIN
Expectations were high for Stafford following his breakout Week 8 performance against the Jaguars. He passed for 285 yards, but was shut out of the end zone. Calvin Johnson was tackled at the one-yard line and Titus Young dropped a sure touchdown, mind you. Unfortunately, close calls don’t yield points in the box score.

Shake it off. The rise of the Detroit offense continues this week on the road in Minnesota, a team absolutely reeling in the secondary right now. However, I’m bullish on Stafford because of the team’s recent ability to engage in a balanced attack and the fact that the Minnesota run defense has been downright porous of late. The Vikings have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks and have generated few turnovers (14 touchdowns against four interceptions).

Josh Freeman vs. SD
There may be no hotter hand in the game right now, and the recent surge from Doug Martin continues to afford Freeman additional opportunities downfield. In the past four weeks, Freeman has averaged 314.3 passing yards with 11 touchdowns and just a single interception.

The Chargers have allowed the 14th-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks (14 touchdowns against eight interceptions), but that ranking was certainly aided markedly by the Week 9 demolition of Matt Cassel. Overall, the Chargers rank eighth in the NFL, allowing just 19.6 points per game.

Philip Rivers at TB
Fantasy owners still have visions of the second-half debacle against the Broncos, thereby ignoring the fact that he’s produced four multi-touchdown games in his past five starts. Granted, he’s passed for 241 yards or fewer in three of those four games, but touchdowns are touchdowns.

The rise of Danario Alexander (check the wire) opposite Malcom Floyd intrigues me against this scuffling Tampa Bay secondary. I know that the numbers were moderately inflated against the Raiders and Carson Palmer, but this is still a team that has surrendered the eighth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Andy Dalton vs. NYG
The Giants have finally gotten somewhat healthy, and we’re starting to see some shades of the usual push up front that gets things started. Still, the secondary has given up big play week after week (with the obvious exception of the win over San Francisco).

Dalton and top receiver A.J. Green have connected for a touchdown hookup in seven consecutive games. I’m moderately fearful that the lack of a true No. 2 other than tight end Jermaine Gresham becomes a factor here, but I anticipate a game in the upper-20s here. As a result, Dalton rates as a mid-QB2 play this week. Aside from the torturous loss to the Steelers, Dalton has passed for at least 221 yards in every game and has been shut out once (the opener against Baltimore). Keep chucking.

Joe Flacco vs. OAK
The road to “elite” status began well for Flacco and this new-look Baltimore offense. Flacco produced three multi-touchdown efforts in his first four starts, but his output has slowed markedly in the past month. His last multi-touchdown game was, in fact, the Week 4 contest against the Browns.

Still, I’m cautiously optimistic about his chances for a strong home effort this week against the Raiders. Oakland has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks and rarely generates turnovers (14 touchdowns against five interceptions). Taken further, opponents have completed two-thirds of their passing attempts.


Ryan Fitzpatrick at NE
It’s been a feast-or-famine season for Fitzpatrick fans and fantasy owners in 2012. He’s produced five multi-touchdown games this season, but has been shut out on three occasions (all road dates). I’m not anticipating a dominant effort, mind you, particularly with Stevie Johnson working through a leg injury. However, the Patriots have been the fifth-most generous defense to quarterbacks this season (17 passing touchdowns against nine interceptions).

Alex Smith vs. STL
Do you trust him? Smith has produced four multi-touchdown games this season, including his Week 8 gem against the Cardinals (18-for-19 for 232 yards with three touchdowns). Conversely, he’s been shut out twice and has passed for more than 232 yards just once. The Rams have allowed the 13th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks (13 total touchdowns against eight interceptions) while allowing the opposition to complete 65.9 percent of their pass attempts. The balanced and efficient San Francisco offense strikes again in this home tilt. He’s a mid-QB2 option this week.

Ryan Tannehill vs. TEN
Tannehill returned to the Miami lineup for a showdown against Andrew Luck and passed for 290 yards with a touchdown in the 23-20 loss. He’s potentially a sneaky plug-in option this week against the terrible Tennessee secondary. The Titans have allowed the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, ceding 20 passing touchdowns against six interceptions.

Jake Locker at MIA
Locker returns to action following a lengthy absence because of a shoulder injury. The health of his shoulder makes him a difficult start, as the pass rush of the Dolphins (23) could aggravate that issue and send him back to the sidelines. If he does finish the contest, there’s opportunity against this secondary (433 yards to Luck in Week 9). The Dolphins have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.


Jay Cutler vs. HOU (Matt Schaub at CHI)
I propose that we sit back and watch this game and just enjoy it. For fantasy purposes, I want no part of this defensive battle. Granted, there are always opportunities for a game to open up via a slip by a defender, broken coverage or short fields set up by the defenses. I don’t know that I can bank on either passing game to break through.

With the exception of the pathetic effort against the Packers, the Texans have been dominant. The Bears are, well, the Bears and the expected availability of Charles “Peanut” Tillman mutes the potential impact from the Houston passing game. You’ll start Brandon Marshall and Andre Johnson (Owen Daniels, if healthy), but you’re running away otherwise. Grab the popcorn.

Cam Newton vs. DEN
Newton hardly took advantage of the advantageous matchup against the Redskins in Week 9. Sure, he yielded two touchdowns (one rushing) and the Panthers earned a road win, but he completed just 13-of-23 attempts. My spirits are moderately buoyed by the return of Brandon LaFell to the lineup, but we can reasonably expect Steve Smith to be stifled by Champ Bailey. As a result, the ceiling for Newton is lowered. He’s ranked 14th on my board this week.

Michael Vick vs. DAL
I’ll just throw my hands up. No, I’m not starting a “Party In The USA” sing-along. You can’t ponder starting Vick this week against the Dallas secondary. He’s been a turnover machine and, aside for the occasional big play (the 77-yarder to DeSean Jackson in Week 9, he’s been wildly inconsistent. The Cowboys have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Might he post a breakout game in a huge spot and wow the masses? Sure he could, but I’m not betting on it.

Carson Palmer at BAL
Fantasy owners were slow to jump onboard the Palmer bandwagon despite strong weekly yardage efforts (nearly 300 yards per game). Now that he’s pushed up to the top of the QB2 ranks, I have to caution owners to take a step back this week. For all of the news stories about the demise of the Baltimore defense and the injuries impacting the normal parade of stars, the Ravens have been strong against opposing passing games. The health of Haloti Ngata dictates the strength of the defensive interior, but this is a Baltimore unit that ranks third against quarterbacks in terms of fantasy points (nine interceptions against six touchdowns).

Tagged: Falcons, Bills, Bears, Bengals, Browns, Broncos, Lions, Titans, Colts, Chiefs, Raiders, Rams, Dolphins, Saints, Giants, Eagles, Buccaneers, Panthers, Jaguars, Ravens, Steelers, Chargers, Texans, Drew Brees, Steve Smith Sr., Carson Palmer, Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Alex Smith, Matt Cassel, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Calvin Johnson, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Stevie Johnson, Matthew Stafford, Josh Freeman, Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Andy Dalton, Ryan Tannehill, Andrew Luck

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