Joe Dolan is the managing editor of FantasyGuru.com and a host for SiriusXM Radio. A former writer for PhiladelphiaEagles.com, Joe still contributes to the site with on-camera segments and written columns. He can be heard hosting "SiriusXM Fantasy Football Gameday" every NFL Sunday from 1-7 PM on Sirius 210, XM 87.
So this question gets asked every week ... but do the Eagles finally have someone we can believe in for fantasy at the quarterback position?
It's true. I've answered this question practically every week. I went from thinking Michael Vick would have a huge season to worrying about his durability. I went from thinking Nick Foles would be an awesome fill-in to wondering if his confidence was totally shot. I even dabbled in trying to assess Matt Barkley's keeper and dynasty value. And now, I'm back to being a believer in Nick Foles. Yes, Raiders secondary was awful against Foles last week in The Black Hole. Fact. But we saw what can happen when Foles doesn't take advantage of opportunities, the way he failed to do against Dallas. Even if Foles was given a lot of chances to throw his record-tying seven touchdowns against the Raiders, he still took advantage of them with great throws, quick decisions, and good reads. He now has 13 touchdowns and no picks this year, and I have to imagine that he has earned the Eagles' starting job for as long as he's healthy. And I'm still a believer in this offense – there were opportunities to convert against the Cowboys in Week 7 and the Giants in Week 8, but the circumstances of the Eagles' quarterback position held them back. It's clear to me that a healthy Foles is more than capable of getting the ball to these receivers, and more than capable of putting up big numbers. He should be picked up in all formats.
It seems this question gets asked every week, too. Do the Eagles finally have a wide receiver you trust for fantasy outside of DeSean Jackson?
I may be starting to budge here. Ah, heck, I've already budged. Because of his lack of great speed or separation ability, I've been very bearish on Cooper's fantasy value, but the guy now has 88 yards or more in three of his last four games, including a monster 5/139/3 performance against the Raiders last week. What's made Cooper effective is the fact that he's made plays down the field, in the red zone, and on Chip Kelly's patented wide receiver screens. At the least, he has a rapport with Foles, and good size to get targets in the red zone. He's also responded to a challenge, stepping up his play when he started to lose snaps about a month ago. While Cooper isn't a special athlete, the trend of production is starting to become pretty impressive. While Cooper can't separate anywhere near the way DeSean Jackson can, he can be a very productive receiver with his frame if he continues to see single coverage and Foles throws with anticipation. He's someone to plug into lineups if he has a good matchup, and he should see a lot of single coverage against the Packers this week.
What kind of impact will the Aaron Rodgers injury have on the Packers?
I'll go out on a limb and say it'll be a huge impact (can't get this analysis anywhere else, folks). The good news for the Packers, if there is any, is that they're better equipped to handle this injury offensively than they would have been last year or the year before. That's because of the presence of rookie running back Eddie Lacy, who has been absolutely phenomenal this season. And Lacy has certainly done enough to earn being the centerpiece of this offense, rushing for 150 yards and a score against the Bears last week, meaning he's now scored, had 100 rushing yards, or both in four consecutive games, with at least 20 carries in five straight games. So even with Rodgers, coach Mike McCarthy was making it a focus to get Lacy the ball. Unfortunately, now defenses will know that's the focus. Once Rodgers left the game against Chicago, the Bears started to creep their safeties closer to the line of scrimmage, which means Lacy and James Starks will face a lot of eight-man boxes until backup quarterback Seneca Wallace proves he can beat teams through the air.
Now, for fantasy, the first order of business is to congratulate you if you have Lacy, because I think he'll be run into the ground. But otherwise, the news isn't good. Jordy Nelson remains a stud and while his upside isn't as high as it would be with Rodgers, I have a hard time sitting him. The bad news is the value for the other receivers here. James Jones isn't yet 100 percent as he recovers from a knee injury, so he has to be downgraded to a No. 3 at best on your personal depth chart. Jarrett Boykin, who was only on the fantasy radar because of injuries and the fact that he was playing with Rodgers, has little value at this point.
Now, if you have Rodgers, it's worth holding onto him if you're well positioned for the playoffs. If he misses on the low end of his four-to-six-week time table, he'll be back in time for the fantasy postseason and you can probably skate by with matchup plays the next few weeks. But if you're sitting at 4-5, you need to make a push to get into the playoffs, and you have a short bench, you may have no choice but to make a move. If that's the case, I'd first try to trade Rodgers to someone else who may have the luxury of holding onto him that you don't. If not, dropping him in a redraft league to save your playoff chances is noble. It could backfire, but you need to try everything you can to try to make the postseason.
I lost Aaron Rodgers. I'm desperate for a Waiver Wire quarterback. Who's out there?
At this stage in the game, we want to examine both how a player is playing and his schedule moving forward. So here are some Waiver Wire guys to consider at quarterback (outside of Nick Foles, whom we discussed above and should be picked up if he's available).
Seneca Wallace, Packers – The obvious Rodgers replacement, Wallace has been a capable passer in the past in short spurts. Over the next five weeks, he has a very favorable schedule by the numbers (Eagles, Giants, Vikings, Lions, Falcons).
Jake Locker, Titans – Perhaps the best choice for this week, Locker plays the Jags. And moving forward, he has two matchups with the Colts, one with the Raiders, and one with Denver. He's inconsistent, but before last week he had been playing pretty well.
Case Keenum, Texans – Keenum's willingness to throw down the field has earned him the Texans' starting job for the rest of the year as he makes his push to be their quarterback of the future. After a tough matchup with the Cardinals this week, he gets two with the Jags, and one each with the Raiders and Patriots.
Jay Cutler, Bears – If Cutler's been dropped, go get him. It looks like he'll be able to start this week as he appears to have recovered quickly from his hip injury.
Geno Smith, Jets – Geno's on bye this week, but if you're desperate, he gets the Bills in Week 11. Geno will get sacked and turn the ball over, but he should be able to hit a big play or two, as he's done often this year.
So as you can see, there are several really appealing replacements for Rodgers if you lost him, as the schedule gods are smiling in your favor with some of these lower-end guys.
At this time of year, I need points wherever I can get them. What are some defenses with favorable schedules I can stream?
Arizona Cardinals – Perhaps the most underrated defense in football, Todd Bowles has his boys in Arizona playing a swarming brand of football. The Cards get the inexperienced Case Keenum in Week 10 and the Jaguars in Week 11.
Oakland Raiders – The Raiders laid an egg in The Black Hole against Nick Foles last week, but their matchups with the Giants, Texans, and Titans the next three weeks are favorable by the numbers.
Houston Texans – The Texans get three of the worst offensive lines in football over the next three weeks in Arizona, Oakland, and Jacksonville.
Buffalo Bills – This may be a stretch, but the Bills have had a knack for big plays this year and they have really favorable fantasy matchups with the Steelers' line in Week 10 and rookie Geno Smith in Week 11.
Who are some under-the-radar fantasy options who have been getting the opportunity to score touchdowns of late?
Last week, we discussed the situation in Tennessee with Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene. While I remain a huge CJ2K skeptic, I have to admit his explosion last week gives fantasy players a lot of hope with a favorable schedule moving forward. That said, I also have to point out that Greene did exactly what I thought he'd do – he received both of the Titans' carries inside the five-yard line (what I'll call "goal-line rushes), and he scored on one of them. The Titans want to run the ball, and Greene should remain their designated short-yardage guy.
I'm also very intrigued by the Denver Broncos backfield. Reports prior to Week 8's game with Washington suggested the Broncos wanted to scale back Knowshon Moreno's role a bit, as his yards-per-carry had suffered in recent weeks. And Moreno's role did slip, as he played only 46% of the Broncos' offensive snaps, to rookie Montee Ball's 37%. Then this week, he landed on the injury report with a minor ankle issue. However, banged up or not, we think he was used really properly – Moreno's best traits are his pass protection and his receiving ability, snaps he was ceding in hurry-up situations to Ronnie Hillman, who was a healthy Week 8 scratch and should remain benched. Against Washington, Moreno had only 14/44 rushing and got stuffed on his lone goal-line carry, but he also added 6/89/1 receiving with a 35-yard touch. Ball had three of the Broncos' four carries inside the five, and scored a touchdown, so moving forward I wouldn't anticipate Moreno scoring as much as he has been. The Broncos simply feel he'll be more effective in a limited role, and it's hard to argue. He may be more of a No. 2 going forward, with Ball, the Broncos' most naturally gifted between-the-tackles runner, assuming intriguing flex value.
I also want to focus very briefly on Justin Blackmon, who has been suspended for the rest of the season, at least. Over the last month, Blackmon's 10 red-zone targets tied him for the lead in the NFL. While I don't expect converted college quarterback Mike Brown to get all of those, this could mean an increased opportunity for Cecil Shorts to score touchdowns, while the Jags may also want to try out big youngster Stephen Burton in that role, for those of you in deeper leagues.
INJURIES TO WATCH
Arian Foster, Texans – Foster (back) is out this week. Ben Tate (ribs) is expected to start, with rookie Dennis Johnson backing him up.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys – Keep an eye on Dez (back). According to Fox Sports Southwest, the Cowboys are concerned that Dez has a herniated disc, and he could have to play at less than 100 percent. If he goes, you've got to play him, but his status needs to be monitored.
Trent Richardson, Colts – Richardson (ankle) is expected to play on Sunday, but it's yet another reason to consider benching him in his very disappointing season.
E.J. Manuel, Bills – Manuel (knee) will return to the starting lineup this week, which should help the Bills' already effective run game.
Jay Cutler, Bears – Despite the strong play of Josh McCown, Cutler (hip) will start this week after accelerating his recovery timetable.
Victor Cruz, Giants – Cruz (neck) has been limited in practice this week but should be good to go.
Marques Colston, Saints – Colston (knee) missed last week and is practicing on a limited basis this week.
Giovani Bernard, Bengals – Bernard (ribs) is expected to play this week, and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said he can expect to remain heavily involved.
Darren Sproles, Saints – Sproles (concussion) is cleared to play.
Andre Brown, Giants – Brown (leg) has been activated from IR and is expected to play this week, but on a limited basis.
Darren McFadden, Raiders – McFadden's bad hamstring is acting up again. Expect Rashad Jennings to fill in for him.
Roddy White, Falcons – Roddy (ankle/hamstring) could return this week, but I'm not starting him until he actually shows us something.
Cecil Shorts, Jaguars – It appears the Jags are being cautious with Shorts (groin). He didn't practice Thursday, but the Jags may just be extra conservative here given the Justin Blackmon suspension.
QB: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers – Pittsburgh's defense has fallen apart, and it's been Ben who has had to pick up the slack, as he put up monster numbers against the Patriots last week and may have to do the same against the Bills.
RB: Andre Ellington, Cardinals – I don't care if Rashard Mendenhall is back. It's so blatantly obvious that Ellington gives them more juice that I can't believe Bruce Arians would willingly reduce his touches in favor of Mendenhall, who has shown the explosiveness of a whoopee cushion this season.
WR: Torrey Smith, Ravens – The Ravens cannot run the ball at all, and Smith should have a favorable matchup with Bengal corner Leon Hall (Achilles) out for the season.
TE: Julius Thomas, Broncos – The ankle injury doesn't look serious, and this is a guy who has scored in six of eight games this season. You can't sit that type of production if he's active.
QB: Case Keenum, Texans – I love what Keenum's doing (he's averaging over 3.0 yards per attempt more than Matt Schaub did this year), but this aggressive Cardinal defense will get after him, with Patrick Peterson all over Andre Johnson.
RB: Andre Brown, Giants – If you watch this week's Fantasy Spin on Eagles Nightly, I detailed why I'm waiting on Brown before I declare him a fantasy savior. He's viable as a flex, but I would pump the brakes on expecting him to start taking over matchups for you. It helps that David Wilson is on IR and Brandon Jacobs still isn't healthy, however.
WR: Mike Wallace, Dolphins – I'm so sick of this guy. The Dolphins are a dysfunctional mess, and Wallace should see a good bit of Darrelle Revis, whom the Bucs are finally letting play more man coverage.
TE: Eagles tight ends – For now, enjoy what Brent Celek and Zach Ertz are doing on the real field and don't worry about your fantasy team. Their production was up last week but their snap split is still hard to figure out, so you're spinning the roulette wheel.