Monday Morning Knee Jerk Reaction

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Monday Morning Knee Jerk Reaction

Week 9 offered up a few upsets, and near upsets and some very intriguing match-ups. One of the first was the Chicago Bears against the Arizona Cardinals. The Bears are 3-0 at home, the Cards 3-0 on the road. The Bears got good news before the game, that the Cards were holding out WR Anquan Boldin, but the Cards didn't need him. Kurt Warner threw the first of his five TD passes to WR Larry Fitzgerald (one of his two) on their way to a 41 - 21 beat down. The lone bright spot for the Bears and fantasy owners, was Jay Cutler's 369 passing yards, and three TD passes, all of which went to TE Greg Olsen. The window on stealing the under-performing Olsen just closed. RB Matt Forte looked bad again in the running game with only 33 yards, though he did eclipse 100 total yards with his receptions. For the Cardinals, it was nice to see their running game put up 150 yards, but as usual it was evenly split between Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells, neither of whom scored. Though Wells did break some tackles for big gains. If you're in a keeper league, now's the time to work a deal for him before he has a huge day.

Top Waiver Wire Grab of Week 8 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB, Josh Freeman

Every week seems to bring us yet another shocker of an upset, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win over the Green Bay Packers may be one of the most unlikely. Considered by many to be the lock of the week, Green Bay's offensive line looked terrible and QB Aaron Rodgers looked average.  The real fantasy surprise was the outstanding play of first time starter, rookie QB, Josh Freeman. He wasn't expected to do much this week, except try and keep his team in the game, instead he lead them to an astounding  38 - 28 victory over the suddenly stumbling Packers for their first win of the season. But Freeman did not do it alone. The Bucs defense finally showed some life with six sacks, by five different players, along with an interception returned for a TD and blocked punt returned for a kick.

While Freeman will undoubtedly be a huge waiver grab this week, I wouldn't expect another three TD performance the rest of the way. We are still talking about the Bucs.

On a side note, RB Ahman Green became the Packers all time leading rusher yesterday.

BAL vs. CIN - This was expected to be a hard fought battle, but the Ravens didn't even bother to show up. The Bengals got up 14 to nothing in the first quarter, and never looked back. The Ravens' defense kept them in it, limiting Cincinnati to only a field goal in the final three quarters, but Ray Rice was Baltimore's only offense as both leading rusher and leading receiver. Rice scored the team's lone TD, and QB Joe Flacco threw two INTs to zero TDs. Cedric Benson, who was the first RB to put up more than 100 yards rushing on the Ravens defense in recent memory, did it for the second time this season.

WAS vs. ATL - In my various columns I have been mentioning the fragile nature of Clinton Portis, and that it might be a wise idea to grab Ladell Betts. Sunday, Portis left the game with a concussion and Betts filled in with 15 rushes in three quarters, for 70 yards and a score. Portis may be fine by next week, but he's been injury prone all season and fairly unproductive. In deeper leagues he makes a nice pick up. For the Falcons, RB Michael Turner finally put up a legitimate quality start, with 166 yards on 18 attempts for a 9.2 YPC average. That will help his season average. He also scored twice.

SEA vs. DET - This was expected to be a Seahawks blowout but the Lions came out firing and QB Mathew Stafford threw two quick TD passes to put Detroit up 17 - 0 in the first quarter.  Unfortunately, that's all the roar the Lions had in them. The Seahawks settled in for the remaining three quarters and racked up 32 points that was capped off by a late 61 yard interception return by DB Josh Wilson for the final score of the game.

For the Lions, fantasy owners should take note that rookie TE Brandon Pettigrew had another solid day, with seven receptions for 70 yards and a TD in the loss. For the Seahawks, RB Julius Jones led the team in both rushing and receiving, but don't go racing out to grab him. Much like he disappeared after his big game against the league's other whipping boys, the Rams, Jones will likely disappear for fantasy owners again for the rest of the season. For IDP owners, I've been pushing LB David Hawthorne who replaced Lofa Tatupa for the season. In every game he's started he's put up great fantasy stats. This week was no different with nine tackles and two interceptions.

Honorary Waiver Wire Grab of Week 9 - Kansas City Chiefs WR, Chris Chambers

It's official: The Chiefs have released Larry Johnson today, paving the way for RBs Jamaal Charles and to a lesser extent, Kolby Smith, to become instant waiver wire picks ups in most leagues. Charles will split carries with Smith pretty evenly if Sunday's game is any indication. At least until one takes the reins.

The day after Chris Chambers made the key catch in the Chargers win over Oakland, they released him. He landed in Kansas City, where he wasted no time becoming fantasy relevant on a team in desperate need of offensive help. Chambers only caught three balls, but they were good for 70 yards and two touchdowns. Given his last couple of years in San Diego, it's too soon to make much of his fortuitous production in this game. The Chiefs also played their first game without Larry Johnson carrying the rock. Jamaal Charles only got the ball six times but he grabbed 36 yards for a 6 YPC average. He is now a solid pick up in all fantasy leagues, but it looks like the team will split carries with Kolby Smith, who also had four carries and a 4.2 YPC rate.

For the Jaguars, Mike Sims-Walker took another opportunity to stake his claim as the team's top receiver, and a legit top fantasy WR. He had six receptions for 147 yards and a score. Maurice Jones-Drew also continued his dominance, with a day that moved him to the top of the fantasy RB ladder ahead of Adrian Peterson.

NOS vs. CAR - The Saints managed to keep their season perfect with a comeback win over the Panthers. The Panthers have always played the Saints tough, but a 14 - 0 lead in the first quarter was a bit of a surprise. Then, much like the Seahawks/Lions game, the Saints took over the rest of the way. The first quarter scores were both courtesy of RB DeAngelo Williams who had 149 yards in the game, and left partner Jonathon Stewart with nothing but a few table scraps. WR Steve Smith led the team in receptions, but it wasn't worth much to fantasy owners. The only significant part of the day was QB Jake Delhomme managed not to throw any interceptions. However, five fumbles, including one by DeAngelo Williams that lead to a return for a TD, sealed the team's fate.

For the Saints, it was another big day for the fantasy defense, which scored another TD. Drew Brees only managed one TD, but he had over 300 yards passing, and RB Pierre Thomas found the endzone again. The rest of the scoring came off the foot off kicker John Carney.

TEN vs. SFO - Who in the world is Jason Hill? The 49ers QB found the receiver four times Sunday including twice for TDs? Fluke? Most likely. Vernon Davis and Frank Gore were still the focal point of the team's offense. In his second start, Alex Smith threw two TDs, but three picks, including the one that cost the team the game, a 39 yard interception returned for a TD by the Titans' Cortland Finnegan.

The Titans also had another big day from running back Chris Johnson who put up two more TDs and 135 yards. This may be the point in the season where most owners can get rid of Lendale White. He's just not helping anyone this season. Vince Young started his second game and looked pedestrian, throwing for less than 200 yards and his only TD came by way of his feet, making all his receivers fantasy worthless. Justin Gage managed to get 97 yards on four catches, but next week it may be Nate Washington or Kenny Britt. Other than Johnson, Tennessee has become a fantasy wasteland on offense.

Fantasy Game of Week 9 - San Diego Chargers vs. New York Giants

The G-men have gone from the league's best team through the first five games, into their bye week on a four game skid. They went into Sunday's game with a do or die focus, and came out on the losing end by one point when Chargers QB Philip Rivers led the team down the field and capped an 80 yard drive with a TD pass to Vincent Jackson for the win. The touchdown gave them 21 points with 21 seconds left. That's a bitter pill to swallow for the Giants, who otherwise played a solid game. Eli Manning returned to fantasy relevance by throwing for over 200 yards with two TDs and no picks. RB Brandon Jacobs looked solid against a poor rush defense. The nail in the coffin may have been the team's 9 penalties for 104 yards.

For the Chargers, Philip Rivers had another three TD game, two of which went to his star receiver, Vincent Jackson. RB LaDainian Tomlinson once again looked dreadful with a paltry 22 yards on 12 rushes at a 1.8 YPC clip. This is becoming painful to watch.

MIA vs. NEP - I picked the Dolphins to pull the upset in this game, and they certainly did their best to make that happen. Every time they used the Wildcat the Patriots defense looked lost. Unfortunately, until QB Chad Henne and his band of merry receivers become more of a threat, they will struggle against great teams like New England. One fantasy notable was WR Greg Camarillo who led the team in receiving yards. Camarillo is a poor man's Wes Welker, and in deeper leagues it may be time to snap him up for the stretch run. For the Pats, Randy Moss sealed the deal with a 71 yard TD reception to end the third quarter.

HOU vs. IND - The two high-powered passing offenses managed 629 passing yards, but only two passing TDs. The big question for fantasy owners this week, was what would happen with RBs Steve Slaton, and Ryan Moats. The two split carries and catches, and both had a score. This could be the way the rest of the season plays out, with Moats being the yardage guy and Slaton playing the Texans version of Reggie Bush. For Indy, Joseph Addai had a great day with a both a rushing and receiving TD.

IDP notables: Rookie Brian Cushing again led the Texans with 12 tackles, while Colts LB Clint Sessions put up 14 tackles and an interception.

DAL vs. PHI - It's hard to call this an upset win for the Cowboys, but that's how it's being perceived. The game was a defensive contest for the most part with each QB managing only one TD pass each. The kickers handled the rest. One notable exception was the Cowboys use of RB Tashard Choice in the Wildcat, which led to the game's first and only rushing TD. The Eagles rookie TE Brent Celek scored Philly's only TD, while WR Miles Austin scored on what would be his only catch of the night for Dallas. Fantasy Notable: Struggling receiver Roy Williams was targeted eight times, and led the team with five receptions.

Enjoy the Monday Night game between the Steelers and Broncos and I'll see you back Friday with this week's Start/Sit.

by Rustyn Rose at Top Fantasy Football

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