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The Broncos-Cowboys defenseless showdown, perhaps the greatest three and a half hours in fantasy football history, offered at least a few lessons for fake footballers, even if they didn’t benefit from the 99 points and the 1,039 yards gained in that contest.
Broncos games pulsate with fantasy potential because of Peyton’s Perfect Machine and its systematic decimation of defenses. I think Dallas was the first team this season to take an unyielding stance against that machine and pin the offensive accelerator to the floor.
It worked, for the most part, as Tony Romo (506 passing yards) shredded the vulnerable Denver secondary that showed signs of leakiness in the season’s first four weeks. Not every team is stacked with weapons like the Cowboys, so don’t over-inflate expectations for signal callers and pass catchers playing Denver.
The Cowboys exposed the Denver defense, however, and perhaps provided a blueprint for how to counter Manning’s unstoppable offense. The Broncos’ defense is giving up 347 pass yards per game, and as long as Manning keeps that machine humming, Denver’s secondary is going to be tested by every opponent hoping and praying to keep pace.
It’s more than fair to say that quarterbacks, receivers, and even tight ends get a not-insignificant bump when they face Denver from here on out.
- Probably it’s reading too much into a small sample size to say that Alshon Jeffrey is the Bears’ No. 1 receiver. It’s not presumptuous to say, however, that he’s 1B, just behind Brandon Marshall. Jeffrey was fantasy’s top receiver this week with a 217-yard one touchdown explosion against a New Orleans defense that has proven somewhat stout against the pass, allowing just 221 yards through the air heading into Week 5. Jeffrey was targeted a whopping 13 times to Marshall’s five looks. Jay Cutler seemed to lock on to the towering red zone target throughout the second half, throwing it Jeffrey’s way despite double coverage. This isn’t a matter of Jeffrey reaping the benefits of double and triple teams on Marshall; he’s a weekly fantasy asset, and he’s certainly not a sell high. Jeffrey, fantasy’s No. 6 receiver, has been targeted just two fewer times than Marshall.
- Arizona Cardinals’ sixth round draft pick Andre Ellington should be rostered in every 12-team fantasy league. It’s a forward-looking move, of course, as Ellington isn’t likely to become an 18-touch workhorse in the next week or two. The rookie with frightening quicks played 30 snaps against Carolina — the same as presumed starter Rashard Mendenhall — and saw 11 touches in the Cardinals’ struggling offense. Ellington, whose draft status plummeted after a pulled hamstring last spring, is going to overtake the plodding Mendenhall — it’s not a question of if, but when. A great sign of things to come: Ellington is averaging .35 fantasy points every time he touches the ball, eight among qualifying running backs, according to Pro Football Focus. “You saw his college film? Whew. He’s pretty special,” Arizona offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said about his rookie runner in a recent interview. “I’m glad he’s on my team.”
- Our theory paid off once again in Week 5: James Jones became the latest in a string of receivers to scorch the Lions’ secondary. Detroit’s No. 2 cornerback, Darius Slay, continued his fantasy friendly ways against the Packers. Jones had a lengthy score called back after review — a reversal that pushed him out of the day’s top spot among wide receivers. Fantasy owners should continue to roll out No. 2 receivers against Detroit (I call Jones a No. 2 because Randall Cobb plays mostly in the slot and Jordy Nelson often draws the defense’s top cover man). Next up on the Slay bandwagon: Greg Little, Mohamed Sanu, Terrance Williams (or Miles Austin), and our man, Alshon Jeffrey.
- Andy Dalton is no longer an option, even in 12 and 14-team leagues. The Bengals have transitioned to “don’t let Dalton lose” mode, as Jay Gruden let Dalton throw it just 27 times in Week 5. Game flow had something to do with the low throw total, but make no mistake: Dalton will have a firm leash around his fantasy prospects for most of the rest of the season. There will be several waiver wire options who prove to superior to the Ginger General on a weekly basis, as not even A.J. Green can save him now. Dalton is now fantasy’s No. 24 quarterback.
- The Lions’ offense doesn’t work without Megatron. Matthew Stafford isn’t a top-12 fantasy signal caller without Calvin Johnson, there are no other viable receivers, and Reggie Bush doesn’t have the underneath space with Johnson out of the lineup. Bush told reporters in August that he signed with the Lions precisely because of the attention defenses gave to Megatron. The Packers suffocated Bush underneath with no deep threat to keep safeties deep and coverage titled toward Johnson. Stafford avoided a disastrous fantasy day with some garbage time production, but without the game’s best receiver, he’s a borderline start. That’s a product of Kris Durham becoming his No. 1 receiver.
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