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Let’s talk about Herbert for a moment. Because we have every right to be concerned with what we saw with Herbert on Sunday. He wasn’t bad or anything. But the Chargers were so conservative with him on Sunday. Like John Lithgow as the church minster who wouldn’t let the local high school have a dance conservative. (Don’t worry, that was a reference to a movie that came out before you were born.) Justin didn’t start looking like his early-season self until he got a chance to let it loose late in the game. And of course, the Falcons were being the Falcons. Coach Tony Lynn said it was a “heck” of a drive for a young quarterback. And wow, coach, language. This is a family column. I hope they give Justin a chance to dial it up against the Las Vegas Raiders, who are a complete mess defensively right now. The Raiders spent all that money on defense during the offseason and can’t stop anybody. They have elevated Rod Marinelli. You might remember him as being the guy who wasn’t even good enough to lead the Cowboys defense (although he would be better than Mike Nolan, so that’s not fair.)
I honestly don’t know what to do with Brady this week. There are spots where he should absolutely smash, but it kind of comes up short. Kind of like when I went to see Kingsman: The Golden Circle. How do you miss with those books? In any way, Brady was fine on Sunday. I just wanted him to be better. And if I’m benching Russell Wilson for him this week, I want him to be really good. Brady has thrown 10 touchdowns in his last four games, which is big. He’s had 300-plus yards in two of his last four (alternating between big and small performances, this week being due for a big one in that every-other-week trend). And the Falcons are still one of the most generous to opposing quarterbacks this season. Which should have been a lot more if the Chargers weren’t once again hampered by clock-management issues. I think that’s probably the thing. If Herbert had gone for 400 and three touchdowns against the Falcons, I wouldn’t even hesitate for a moment with this one.
Philip has been rolling in recent weeks. He’s had 16-plus points in five consecutive games, a minor miracle considering he doesn’t run with the football. He’s become the dad in pickup basketball games (remember those?) who you can tell was once an ace athlete, but now he’s just hoisting threes and playing defense about once every five possessions. But always seems to know where the ball is going. That means he’s good, but limited. He was once again pulled for the wildcat when they got near the goal line this week. Which is fine. The Houston Texans have been generous to quarterbacks this year. Mitchell Trubisky just tore them up last week. And no disrespect (maybe a little) for that. Phil had close to 20 fantasy points when these two teams tangled two weeks ago. Hold for a moment, I need to take a break when I hit the alliteration like that. But I see the Texans with not much to play for, while, conversely, the Colts are battling for playoff position.
Doug Pederson hasn’t committed to Hurts yet, which is fine. It’s like the six-day rule from Swingers when you get a beautiful baby’s phone number. (Again, another movie from before you were born, but trust me, your parents loved it. And I also wrote that on Sunday night before Pederson made the announcement, but loved the Swingers reference so much, I’m keeping it in here.) Hurts scored close to 20 points in his first start against the Saints. The Saints! Who don’t allow points to anybody. The Eagles scored 24 points, which was the most since Week 6. The big thing was the rushing. Hurts went for 100-plus, as did running back Miles Sanders. And this was against a team that hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 50 consecutive games. The Cardinals defense is fine. But it’s not something that’s going to keep me away from this quarterback if you need to start somebody.
Tannehill has multiple touchdown passes in three of his last four games. He was very efficient against the Jaguars on Sunday with just over 16 fantasy points. It’s like when you find a $1 in your pocket while you are doing laundry. It’s a pleasant feeling for a moment, even though it’s not going to change your life much. It might actually hurt you. Think about it. You’re happy for a moment, but then you realize that it’s just a dollar. Which is good for a cup of coffee at McDonald’s. And then you’re like, “I like coffee.” But then you realize that you’re going to have to get into your car to drive to McDonald’s or walk. But it will take you 45 minutes round trip to walk. And if you drive, you just remembered that you need to get gas. So now that $1 has ended up ruining your life. That was Tannehill on Sunday. But mostly because Derrick Henry was shouldering the load. Hopefully the Lions will put up enough of a fight to elicit a bigger effort from Tannehill this week.
The Steelers were getting roasted on Twitter on Sunday night. People claiming they are fraudulent. Making fun of Diontae Johnson dropping the football and getting benched. I understand it looks terrible for the Steelers right now. But they have the Bengals. The NFL equivalent of thinking that you’re out of beers, but then you remember you picked up a four-pack of microbrews two weeks ago when you were coming back from getting gas and coffee at McDonald’s and your night is made. Roethlisberger is going to respond with one of his best games of the season. Now if you will join me in the way back machine, Roethlisberger smoked this team in Week 10. He had 333 passing yards and four touchdowns. You see this happen a lot in the league. A team looks like they are going to spiral out of control and we’ll never hear from them again. They have their best game of the season. BTW he’s had six games with at least two touchdown passes in his last seven, so you’re good here.
I’m really trying my best to be as impartial as possible with Cousins here. We told you last week that you wanted to keep Cousins on the bench because he has struggled on the road. And he finished as the QB14. Mostly because he managed 41 rushing yards. He did manage to finish higher than Deshaun Watson, who the Bears pretty well corralled for most of the afternoon as Mitchell Trubisky ran wild. Here’s my thing. The Bears defense played its best game in weeks. Was it a one-week, pride-factor game? Before they return back to the team that struggled with six consecutive losses? Or has the team turned a corner and it is on the cusp of running the table to make the playoffs. I’m obviously hoping for the latter. But Cousins has averaged 20-plus points in his home starts this year, so the rational (non-emotional) side of me says it’s a good start.
I want to talk about Russell for a moment. Because it really bums me out that this is Russell’s matchup for the fantasy semifinals. The Washington FT front has become one of the best in the game already. Chase Young is having that Nick Bosa-like effect on the defense and could lead it to the playoffs. Probably not the Super Bowl like Bosa did, but this is 2020. I picked up Tom Brady in my Second City league a few weeks back. Thinking that I was going to play him this week. But it’s not like Brady is a sure thing even though I like his matchup this week. I suppose I’m going to roll with Wilson this week. He’s going to get sacked a ton. Not have the day I would like him to and then I will hate myself for the rest of the year. Hey, that’s fantasy football baby! I was trying to think of the guys I would start over Wilson and it’s Lamar, Rodgers, Mahomes and Josh Allen. That’s about it.
I told you to bench Tua last week and he was a top-5 guy. I understand. But the matchup was bad. The reasoning was sound. I’m also not hype on starting him this week. And I realize the Patriots have had a history of not playing well in Miami. Or maybe it was just Tom Brady. But regardless, there has been some negative history in South Beach. But let’s also talk about the history of Bill Belichick against rookie quarterbacks. You don’t have to go too far back into history to see the evidence. The Patriots took apart Justin Herbert a few weeks ago. Might have even eliminated a lot of you. There is no way I could go with Tua in this situation.
Obviously this is a great matchup for the Rams. Love it. For Cam Akers. Although Goff was not cool stealing a touchdown last week, taking a score from Cam. That’s like taking the final slice of pizza without at least going through the theatrics of asking people if they would like a piece. That’s just not the way this works. And when looking at this matchup, you might be tempted to go with Goff. I understand this. But the volume might not be there. I don’t anticipate the Rams being challenged here. Which means a lot of running, and the Rams love to run near the goal line anyway. Good idea, here. But leave Goff on the bench.