Nick Foles is coming back home to Lincoln Financial Field. Should I be worried?
It's hard to ignore that the Eagles haven't won at home this year. It's hard to ignore that of Nick Foles' 16 TD passes this year, none have come at Lincoln Financial Field. It's hard to ignore that of an overall impressive body of work in his short career thus far, Foles' worst start came just a few weeks ago in Philadelphia, sandwiched between two excellent performances on each side. But to me, it's also hard to ignore that Foles has now gone on the road the last two weeks into the Black Hole and Lambeau Field, and emerged each time with huge numbers while leading the Eagles to victory.
I don't think there's going to be anything magical holding Foles back when he gets home. He's a professional quarterback who had a bad game against Dallas. That said, it is very important that he and the Eagles get off to a great start against a Washington defense that shouldn't be able to hold them back. The Eagles chewed up Washington in Week 1. Expect Chip Kelly and company to come out at breakneck speed once again, looking to consistently move the chains and take shots downfield to DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper. Washington has struggled to get to the passer, and Foles should have time to throw against a beatable secondary.
Jordan Reed: Who is this guy and should he be in my lineup?
I've gotten a really strange number of Twitter questions on Reed this week. It's as if fantasy players who have him don't realize the impact he's made this season, especially lately. The rookie tight end out of Florida ranks second at his position in a PPR format over the last four weeks with 18.3 fantasy points per game on 27/323/2 receiving. That number ranks him No. 10 if we combine tight ends and wide receivers, ahead of guys like Jordy Nelson, Antonio Brown and even DeSean Jackson.
He's had at least four receptions in all but one game this season and has dipped below 50 yards just three times. He is, without a doubt, the No. 2 option in this passing offense behind the great Pierre Garcon (who has earned the "PPR Platinum" distinction from me this year), and he's a no-doubt starter at tight end. Heck, over the last month, he's outproduced even Jimmy Graham. Reed is a true impact player who – if he keeps up anything close to this pace – will be a starter on a lot of fantasy championship teams. If for any reason he's available as part of a trade package, he'd almost certainly represent an upgrade for your team at tight end, unless you already have Graham or Rob Gronkowski.
What, if anything, will change from the Week 1 matchup in this game to now?
First of all, contrary to what the Washington players have said this week, I don't believe they were ready for the pace of Chip Kelly's offense. In fact, a player who has a shot to go to Canton when all is said and done, linebacker London Fletcher, looked like a rookie. I do expect Fletcher to look better against the Eagles this time around, simply because he has to. However, will Washington be better overall? I'm not too convinced. The Eagles crushed them with Chip Kelly's staple packaged plays the last time out, and other teams have beaten them with the same concepts time and time again this season. If the Eagles execute well, they should have no problem putting up yardage on the ground and through the air in this one.
One thing I would expect to change would be the overall effectiveness of Robert Griffin III and the Washington passing attack. We know they can run the ball, and Alfred Morris remains one of the game's most underrated running backs. But the passing game has started to become more refined and effective in recent weeks, as RGIII has settled into a bit of a comfort zone. Check out Fran Duffy's awesome piece on how Washington attacks opponents through the air with a simple but lethal concept, something that's become even harder to defend since the emergence of Jordan Reed.
Chip Kelly said this week that RGIII looks a lot healthier than he did in Week 1, and I tend to agree. RGIII and company are capable of putting up points a lot sooner than they did the last time these two clubs met, and the Eagles are going to have to try to slow them down with Earl Wolff injured.
How does this relate to the Bud Light Fantasy Challenge?
Glad you asked! I will atone for my sins for picking Eddie Lacy over LeSean McCoy last week by switching back to Shady this week against a defense he shredded in Week 1. I love watching Alfred Morris run, but I'm afraid the Washington defense hasn't improved enough from Week 1 to slow down the Eagles, which would mean more of Roy Helu.
That said, I don't consider Helu much of a threat outside of a prayer fantasy play – since his fluky three-touchdown Week 7 performance, Helu has touched the ball on 15 percent of his 92 snaps. Morris has touches on 51 percent of his 133. Morris is a foundation player of the offense, while Helu is an ancillary piece and the hurry-up back.
If Washington is playing from behind, or at least trying to keep pace with the Eagles, that would also mean more of RGIII and the passing game, and I think he and Pierre Garcon will get me a lot of volume here. That's why I went with them over the Nick Foles/DeSean Jackson combo, because I feel the Eagles will be able to play a balanced game.
At linebacker, I'm picking DeMeco Ryans, who is absolutely on fire, over London Fletcher, who looked lost against the Eagles the last time out.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
It's late in the season. All the guys thrust into big roles have been taken off the Waiver Wire. Who are some deep bench stashes I should be looking at?
Bobby Rainey, Buccaneers – This guy is more of a "right now" type of play, but I should discuss this backfield situation now that both Doug Martin and Mike James are out for the season. Picked up off waivers a few weeks ago from the Browns, Rainey all of a sudden has been thrust into a potentially big role. Last Monday night, he carried 8 times for 45 yards and a TD, adding an 11-yard catch too. The Bucs are 1-8 and are going to go into evaluation mode sooner rather than later, once it's more obvious than ever now that Greg Schiano won't be a back. A player built low to the ground with some juice, Rainey is the type of player who could see more snaps than veteran Brian Leonard, whom the Bucs well know isn't part of their future.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings – According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Patterson could be in line for his first career start, as Jerome Simpson was arrested this week and may not start the game. Whether Simpson is being disciplined or not, Patterson should see more snaps because he's a huge piece of the Vikings' future and they need to take a good look at him. He had 2/22/1 receiving in Week 10 against Washington, while playing 40 percent of the Vikings' plays. I think coaching and quarterback play has held Patterson back, and he probably needs a full offseason to fully get himself in a spot where he can reach his potential. But if you can pick up a guy who should get an extended look moving forward, I'd suggest making a move now because he's a potential difference-maker.
Brandon Bostick, Packers – Eagles fans will be familiar with this guy from last week. Given the unfortunate circumstances with Jermichael Finley's career-threatening injury, an athlete like Bostick could get his chance to shine before he's truly ready. And he acquitted himself well with a 3/42/1 line against the Eagles in Week 10, while playing 37 percent of the Packers' offensive snaps. He's much more of a movable "Finley type" than starter Andrew Quarless, so I'm not ruling out some deeper redraft value this year for Bostick in addition to his clear dynasty potential.
Rishard Matthews, Dolphins – This guy was a huge revelation on Monday night, owning the Bucs to the tune of 11 catches, 120 yards, and 2 TDs. Filling in for the injured Brandon Gibson, with whom quarterback Ryan Tannehill was developing a rapport before his injury, Matthews got himself open as a checkdown and security blanket option. He's more of an immediate value type of guy, because the Dolphins' offensive line struggles prevent them from stretching the field, but if he continues to make plays he may have good long-term dynasty value as well.
INJURIES TO WATCH
Peyton Manning, Broncos – Peyton (high ankle sprain) may not be 100 percent, but he'll start this weekend against the Chiefs.
Terrelle Pryor, Raiders – Pryor (knee) has practiced on a limited basis this week. If he can't play, Matt McGloin, formerly of Penn State, is expected to start.
Percy Harvin, Seahawks – Harvin (hip) is expected to make his season debut this week.
Tony Gonzalez, Falcons – Gonzo (toe) practiced for the first time on Friday, albeit in a limited capacity. He is listed as questionable.
Vernon Davis, 49ers – Vernon (concussion) is seeing light work this week and needs to pass tests to play on Sunday.
Martellus Bennett, Bears – Bennett (ankle) was added to the injury report on Thursday and is unsure if he'll be able to play on Sunday.
Darren McFadden, Raiders – McFadden (hamstring) is not expected to play this week. Rashad Jennings has been a very good fantasy fill in with McFadden injured.
Ryan Mathews, Chargers – Mathews (hamstring) was limited in last week's game and has been limited in practice this week. Expect the Chargers to proceed cautiously, as Mathews has played his best football this year as part of a rotation.
Harry Douglas, Falcons – Douglas (knee) was added to the Falcons' injury report on Thursday, but returned to action on Friday.
Stevie Johnson, Bills – Stevie (groin) is out this week. With Robert Woods (ankle) also expected to miss some action prior to the Bills' Week 12 bye, rookie deep threat Marquise Goodwin could be the main benefactor, if EJ Manuel can actually get the ball out.
Michael Floyd, Cardinals – Floyd (shoulder) left last week's game against the Texans after catching only two passes. He expects to play this week against the Jags, but it's fair to wonder exactly how many snaps he'll get.
Santonio Holmes, Jets – Holmes (foot, hamstring) has a chance to return this week in a key game for the Jets' playoff hopes.
QB: Case Keenum, Texans – At home against a Raiders defense that has played well overall but doesn't have a whole lot of talent. Keenum's a worthwhile reach this week.
RB: Andre Ellington, Cardinals – The split with Rashard Mendenhall is infuriating, but there should be enough room for two guys to make their hay in this matchup with the Jags.
WR: Golden Tate, Seahawks – The return of Percy Harvin should only help the emerging Tate in this strong matchup with the Vikings defense.
TE: Greg Olsen, Panthers – Top corner Aqib Talib will occupy himself with Steve Smith, and the Panthers are exploitable at safety, so Olsen should have some room to make plays down the seams.
QB: Colin Kaepernick, 49ers – Kap absolutely collapsed last week when Vernon Davis went down with a concussion. This is the perfect week to use a streaming quarterback option with a good matchup over him, as Rob Ryan has really coached up the Saint defense.
RB: Stevan Ridley, Patriots – I absolutely love Ridley's skill set, but if there's a week to sit him, this is it. The Panthers' front seven is nasty and Shane Vereen is expected to return, further complicating an already ugly backfield.
WR: Cecil Shorts, Jaguars – For the first time in forever, he didn't get garbage-time catches last week, and now he faces off against Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson.
TE: Heath Miller, Steelers – If you haven't given up on Miller, now's the time to do so. Pittsburgh has been throwing the ball a bunch and he still can't make a big contribution.