I stashed Nick Foles just in case. If he plays, is he worth a start this week?
I thought Foles played very well last week, and he does have a history in Tampa, beating the Bucs on the road last year with 32-of-51 passing for 381 yards and 2 touchdowns, adding 3/27/1 rushing as well. Now, it's hard to expect that from Foles again, in a different offense, and against a much-improved Bucs secondary. On the year, Tampa's defense is surrendering 19.6 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, which ranks in the better half of the league, and their incredibly fast defense matches up well with Philly's offense on paper.
If Darrelle Revis can slow down DeSean Jackson, this will be tough sledding all afternoon for Foles and the Eagles passing game. If the Eagles are going to generate any consistency with the passing game, especially with Foles in there, they'll have to utilize deception to get Jackson into space, where he's most effective. It would also help if the Eagles could have any of their other receivers get off man coverage, which has proven to be a struggle this year. We're very interested to watch this offense with Foles at the helm, to see if Chip Kelly throws any wrinkles into the mix, but we're probably looking somewhere else for a fantasy quarterback.
What's the impact on the rest of the Eagles given the quarterback situation?
With Foles in the game against the Giants last week, the Eagles managed only 10 rushing yards in the second half. Why's this? Well, first of all, the Giants did an excellent job slowing down LeSean McCoy in the first half, with interesting stunts and looks that confused the normally very effective Eagles offensive line. But with Vick down, the Giants could key on McCoy on the Eagles' staple plays, the inside and outside zone reads.
Expect the Buccaneers to do many of the same things. Last year, they had the NFL's top run defense because they slanted and stunted their defensive linemen, led up front by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. The chess match between the Eagles OL and the Bucs front seven will be fascinating to watch, especially because the Bucs feature one of the NFL's fastest linebacking corps with Lavonte David, Mason Foster and Dekoda Watson. If there's one team in the NFL with the adequate personnel for slowing down McCoy, it's this one. But I still expect the Eagles to stick with what works, and as McCoy proved last week, even when his yards per carry are down, he gets it done for fantasy purposes.
The Bucs are giving up six receptions per game to running backs, so McCoy can help out there. I'd also expect to see Zach Ertz's snaps continue to rise, especially if Revis shadows Jackson.
Vincent Jackson had a big game against the Eagles last year. Should I worry about him even with a rookie quarterback?
I don't think Mike Glennon was particularly impressive in Week 4, but it was his first career start, and he does have a big arm when he gets time to throw. And here are the facts: the Eagles are allowing a league-high 55.9 fantasy points per game in PPR scoring to opposing wide receivers, 10 points more per game than No. 2 Buffalo. And Jackson, who battled through a rib injury in Week 4, isn't even listed on the injury report this week. To avoid single coverage on Jackson, I'd expect the Eagles to go with more zone coverage than they have this year. If the Bucs are going to beat the Eagles, a big play would be a key reason. The Eagles will try to prevent one at all costs. However, the numbers speak for themselves, and while I'm downgrading Jackson because of Glennon, it's not enough to totally bench him this week.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Who are some running backs with positive or negative schedules over the next few weeks?
Eddie Lacy, Packers – Lacy's looked great when he's had the ball in his hands, and after a tough matchup with Baltimore in Week 6 and the underrated Cleveland defense in Week Seven, he has one of the best schedules for the run in the NFL.
DeMarco Murray, Cowboys – Matchups with the Redskins and Vikings, two of the worst defenses against fantasy running backs thus far this year, bookend the next month for Dallas.
Le'Veon Bell, Steelers – I'd advise picking up Bell because he's someone the Steelers absolutely need, but the matchups with the Jets and the Ravens the next two weeks are tough ones.
Chris Johnson, Titans – Johnson has the Seahawks and 49ers the next two weeks, then his bye. He finally created a long play for a touchdown last week, but it was a total broken, improvisational play from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He's done nothing to suggest he's a guy who can consistently gain yardage that isn't blocked for him. I'd try to unload him and avoid the headache.
What is going on in Atlanta? Should I be looking to acquire anyone here or shy away?
The Julio Jones injury is a total crusher for a team that was already struggling to keep its head above water. The Falcons were a few plays away from the Super Bowl last year, but they still felt like a team heading into this season that had very little margin for error. There's no pass rush, the offensive line is subpar and three of their five best offensive players are hurt (Jones, Roddy White and Steven Jackson).
It's only quarterback Matt Ryan and tight end Tony Gonzalez doing anything to keep them from truly falling off the map, but I don't think it's going to be enough. Honestly, I'd try to avoid this team if I could. Harry Douglas will be a hot waiver add this week, and he should be if you need receiver help, but I also should point out that his production has been inconsistent at best this year, despite White playing on one leg (he had a high-ankle sprain, and now could miss time with a hamstring injury). Jackson is returning from his own hamstring injury, but I'd only go out there and get him if I can acquire him on the cheap. White is someone Atlanta needs, but he's clearly not at 100 percent right now, and might not be this year. So, aside from Gonzalez, I'd probably prefer to avoid this club. If I can somehow trade Ryan, I'd do it, but I think that window has passed as well.
Will Marques Colston ever reap any benefits from Jimmy Graham's huge season?
When an offense is a machine the way the Saints have been, occasionally, one guy is going to be on the outside looking in. That appears to be Colston this year. And it's not always, but when Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham consistently dominate, we notice when a guy like Colston isn't producing the biggest numbers in the world. Sometimes, the explanation is as simple as "Brees will throw to the open receiver, and sometimes, that's not Colston (and Graham can make plays when he's not the open receiver, as well)."
But ultimately, Colston still has 23 catches for 313 yards and a touchdown this year, which means he's still on pace for 74 catches and over 1,000 yards receiving. That's about what you peg Colston as, and I'm pretty convinced he'll end up as a No. 2 fantasy receiver when all is said and done. Colston is no longer the go-to guy in this offense, and that will occasionally mean disappointment. I still view him as an attractive buy-low candidate, as he has a fairly positive schedule after the Saints' Week 7 bye.
Who are some players I should consider off the Waiver Wire if a need a start this week?
Zac Stacy, Rams – Talked about in this article last week, Stacy ended up leading the Rams in rushing and did nothing to lose his newly found starting job. Tough matchup against Houston this week though.
Garret Graham, Texans – Graham was a top-20 fantasy tight end as the Texans' No. 2 guy. With Owen Daniels on short-term IR, he could be a borderline top-10 guy.
Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen, Chargers – The Charger passing offense is for real, and these guys will be the anchors on the perimeter.
Harry Douglas, Falcons – See comments above, with regards to the Julio Jones injury.
Andre Ellington, Cardinals – He should begin to see more touches than Rashard Mendenhall, as he's been more effective.
Percy Harvin, Seahawks/Andre Brown, Giants/Shane Vereen, Patriots – If you can stash a guy in your roster, it may be time to start considering any of these three, who may have a role when they come back in a few weeks time.
INJURIES TO WATCH
Calvin Johnson, Lions – A surprise inactive with a swollen knee last week, Calvin looks to be a game-time decision again on Sunday. Have a backup plan at the ready.
Owen Daniels, Texans – Daniels (fibula) is on short-term IR and will miss at least eight weeks. Garrett Graham will fill in.
C.J. Spiller, Bills – Spiller (ankle) reportedly looks significantly better in practice this week, and he did score a long touchdown last week despite the injury.
Stevan Ridley, Patriots – Ridley (knee) was inactive last week, and this backfield is a mess as is.
Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings, Raiders – Both running backs are dealing with hamstring injuries, and if neither can play, Marcel Reece should handle the load. Remember that the Raiders have a Week 7 bye, so there could be incentive to keep them out to get them some extra rest.
Ryan Mathews, Chargers – Mathews (concussion) looks unlikely to play at this point.
Stevie Johnson, Bills – Johnson (back/personal issue) has missed practice this week and is questionable to play.
Miles Austin, Cowboys – Austin (hamstring) could return this week, but he could also lose snaps to Terrance Williams.
Santonio Holmes, Jets – Holmes (foot, hamstring) is not expected to play.
QB: Andrew Luck, Colts – Luck was phenomenal last week against the Seahawks, and the Chargers have been a sieve on the back end.
RB: Le'Veon Bell, Steelers – Bell has a tough matchup with the Jets this week, but the Steelers desperately need him to keep this offense afloat. He can catch the ball, too.
WR: Justin Blackmon, Jaguars – The Jags could be throwing it a ton in the second half in garbage time against the Broncos.
TE: Jermichael Finley, Packers – The Ravens' safety play has been subpar, and Finley can exploit them down the seams.
QB: Geno Smith, Jets – He was phenomenal in Atlanta last week, but Steeler defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is 13-1 against rookie quarterbacks since 2004.
RB: Chris Johnson, Titans – On the road in Seattle. This one is self explanatory. He'll almost certainly need another broken play to come through.
WR: Anquan Boldin, 49ers – Cardinal corner Patrick Peterson is balling and the 49ers passing offense has set football back about 50 years.
TE: Jared Cook, Rams – Last week, in this article I said on Cook: "If it doesn't happen for St. Louis … against the Jag defense and their poor safety play, I wonder if it's ever going to happen." The Rams responded by giving Cook the third-most snaps among tight ends on their own team. It's inexplicable. I'm sick of this offense.