It was a tough week to be a Redskins fan. Tougher than usual at least.
With the somewhat porous Buffalo Bills on tap at the Rogers Centre, Washington will be coming north of the border minus three top offensive contributors.
Running back Tim Hightower is lost for the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee last week. That leaves Ryan Torain and rookie Roy Helu as Mike Shanahan’s options in the backfield. Torain may only have 31 carries in three games this season, but he did post a solid 135-yard performance against the Rams in his season debut in Week 4. Helu could be a nice speculative pickup in deeper leagues, considering Torain’s injury history.
The Skins passing game also took a big hit with Santana Moss going down for 5-7 weeks with a broken bone in his hand. He ranks third on the team in receiving yards, but has two TDs and leads the team in targets. This means Jabar Gaffney and TE Fred Davis get an increase in value. Anthony Armstrong will start opposite Gaffney, but just remember that it is John Beck under centre.
Finally, after sitting out last week with a broken finger, Chris Cooley was placed on the IR and is done for the season. He hadn’t performed well this year with Davis clearly taking the torch as the Skins’ top TE.
* Tim Tebow’s passing numbers probably impressed nobody last week, but there’s reason for optimism — for at least one player. Demaryius Thomas, in his first game of the season after hand surgery, was Tebow’s top target against Miami with 10 looks. Sure, he only had three catches for 27 yards and a TD, but there’s some hope that the young QB’s accuracy will improve.
* Now for the bad news out of the Mile High City: Willis McGahee, who had usurped Knowshon Moreno as the team’s top running option, is out at least a week after having surgery on a broken finger. That leaves Moreno and Lance Ball to take on the stout Detroit Lions run defence this week and probably next. McGahee says he’ll be ready for Oakland on Nov. 6, but that remains to be seen.
* Even with a bye week to get healthy, the Buffalo Bills receiving corps is still ailing. So much so that they’ll be trotting out second-year RB CJ Spiller at wide receiver for some snaps on Sunday. The extra amount of time on the field will of course help Spiller, but he still shouldn’t have too much value this weekend. The real interesting wrinkle would be if he’ll qualify at the position. If that happens and Fred Jackson gets injured, you could plug in a starting back as your WR3.
* Houston and Andre Johnson fans rejoice! The Texans’ all-world receiver is back practising after injuring his hamstring four weeks ago against Pittsburgh. It’s still uncertain if he’ll play, but he has run well in practice and should be in your starting lineup if he suits up. Since he went down, the Texans receiving corps has been less than impressive, with running back Arian Foster leading the team in receiving yards two of the three games.
* It really goes to show that maybe Dallas Clark’s success was more based on Peyton Manning’s brilliance at QB, than the tight end’s actual talent. He currently ranks 25th in points for TEs — behind such luminaries as Delanie Walker and Daniel Fells — and didn’t even get a target during Sunday night’s blowout loss.
* This may hurt to hear, but even Steven Jackson is being dragged down by the putrid Rams. St. Louis has put up a shocking 56 points this season, which is fewer than New Orleans scored last week. Jackson currently ranks 27th in fantasy scoring for running backs and the team’s top receiving option — Brandon Lloyd — picked up most of his points on a long reception during garbage time of Sunday’s game.
Chris Johnson’s longest rush out of his 10 carries last week against Houston was for three yards. Yes, a mere three yards.
YOU SHALL NOT PASS
It must be tough for QBs in the AFC North division: The top four pass defences in the league, in order, are Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cleveland.
Torrey Smith, WR, BAL
* Since his big break-out game in Week 3, he has had fantasy totals of 0, 8 and 3 points.
* He is still getting lots of routes and looks downfield, meaning great big-play potential.
* Arizona is allowing the third highest yards per pass attempt, nice for a deep threat.
* He has twice as many targets (24) as he has catches (12).
Eric Decker, WR, DEN
* Had only three targets and two receptions last week against the Dolphins.
* In case you haven’t heard, Tim Tebow is not the most accurate of quarterbacks out there.
* Facing Detroit, who may be middle of the road in pass defence yardage-wise, but are second best in YPA.
* With Brandon Lloyd gone, he leads the team in receptions, yards and TDs.
Verdict: While I wouldn’t bet on Smith making at least one big play on Sunday, Decker is the safer guy to start for your team.
* Start Matt Stafford, QB, DET at DEN — He’ll be playing through the pain of an ankle injury, but will be leading the offence on Sunday.
* Start Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT vs. NE — Teams have looked sloppy coming off the bye this season and the Pats can easily be passed against.
* Sit Peyton Hillis, RB, CLE at SF — He’s coming off a hamstring injury and the Niners have the best run defence in the league.
* Start DeMarco Murray, RB, DAL at PHI — He won’t rush for 250+ yards again, but he will be the featured back again.
* Sit Bernard Scott, RB, CIN at SEA — He may be starting with Cedric Benson suspended, but he’s only averaging 2.8 yards per carry so far.
* Start Davone Bess, WR, MIA at NYG – Aaron Ross has been pretty bad at covering secondary receivers so far this season.
* Sit Sidney Rice, WR, SEA vs. CIN — He’ll have his buddy Tarvaris Jackson back at QB, but the Bengals pass defence is tough.
* Sit Kevin Walter, WR, HOU vs. JAC — Even with Andre Johnson was out of the lineup, he only had one double-digit fantasy game.
* Start Fred Davis, TE, WAS at BUF — Has very suddenly become the go-to guy in the Skins’ passing game.