The FOX broadcast team must have panned over to Alex Smith about a dozen times during the 49ers 31-21 win over the Saints in New Orleans. Anyone that tuned into the game got to watch him pace the sideline while Colin Kaepernickcompleted 16-of-25 passes for 231 yards, a touchdown and a pick, while throwing in another 27 yards and a score on the ground.
While the people at FOX were undoubtedly trying to drum up controversy, Kaepernick’s play has done all of the talking. Sure, it’s only been two games, but the kid laid a whipping on an elite Bears defense and followed that up with another strong performance this week in the Superdome.
There is a whole lot to like about this change from a Fantasy perspective. Kaepernick has some pretty elite wheels, something that proves invaluable from the quarterback position. When under pressure he shows tremendous pocket presence for a guy with two career starts, keeping his eyes fixed downfield until all options are exhausted.
Perhaps the biggest reason to like the change though is the fact that he just makes this offense better. He has a better arm than Smith does and isn’t scared to throw the ball downfield. Smith is the epitome of what you would call a game manager. Kaepernick is a guy that just looks like he wants to make plays, particularly in the red zone – an area where the 49ers have struggled with Smith under center.
Moving forward, Kaepernick should be viewed as a QB1. If he is still on your waiver wire, do yourself a favor and put a claim in for him. The values of Vernon Davis (even though he failed to record a catch this week), Michael Crabtree and Frank Gore all get an uptick as well.
If Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin owned an Easy Button, I would be willing to bet everything I own he would have pressed it after the Steelers 20-14 loss in Cleveland. The best way to describe their offense would be putrid. With Charlie Batch under center, the Browns made a concerted effort to shut down the Steelers running game; and did so. As a group, they tallied 20 carries for 49 yards and a score. Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and Chris Rainey accounted for seven fumbles, four of which were lost. Batch completed 20-of-34 passes for 199 yards and tossed three interceptions. His inability to get the ball downfield rendered Mike Wallace nonexistent. One thing is for certain here, until Ben Roethlisberger returns, you can expect every opponent to follow the Browns blueprint. Until you have confirmation that Big Ben is ready to hit the gridiron, you have no business starting a single Pittsburgh player on your Fantasy squad.
Matt Forte was forced from the Bears victory over Minnesota in the third quarter with what looked to be an injury to his right ankle. Ankle injuries are a big point of concern for running backs, but for Forte, it becomes an even bigger concern as it is the same one that he suffered a high ankle sprain earlier this season. Based on this I think it’s very safe to assume that the team plays it very safe with their franchise back to ensure they get him back to 100 percent for their final playoff push. Michael Bush, who has found his way onto waiver wires in recent weeks, courtesy of his low overall usage combined with a decreased role in the red zone, would once again be asked to carry a full load. He isn’t going to light the world on fire behind a lackluster Bears offensive line but should be good for 80 total yards and a few chances at a score against Seattle next week if he starts. Solid FLEX material in a week where many owners will be attempting to lock down playoff berths.
It’s hard to believe I am saying this, but Chad Henne has been a godsend for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Since taking over for Blaine Gabbert during their Week 10 loss to the Colts, he has completed 43-of-75 for 736 yards and seven touchdowns. His willingness to throw the ball downfield has led to the emergence of rookie first rounder Justin Blackmon, who has gone from a Fantasy afterthought to a legitimate WR3. Speedster Cecil Shorts has caught three of Henne’s touchdown tosses and also should be considered a WR3 for the remainder of the season. Marcedes Lewis, whose name has barely been uttered in Fantasy circles since Gabbert came to town, is also a player to keep an eye on. He has hauled in 10 passes for 132 yards and a pair of scores over his last three games. Henne is playing for a chance at starting for this team next season and faces a Buffalo defense that has given up 20 passing touchdowns and an average of 247 yards per game through the air. I like his chances at another strong performance in Week 13.
The Giants were dealt a big blow to their running back depth following their Sunday night win against the Packers when Andre Brown was diagnosed with a broken left fibula. Typically, a backup running back going down to injury doesn’t have huge Fantasy implications, but when you are talking about becoming second in line behind the ever-brittle Ahmad Bradshaw things get interesting. Preseason sensation David Wilson has struggled with ball security and pass protection as a rookie, but you can’t deny the fact that he has game-changing ability with the ball in his hand. With Brown out for the remainder of the regular season, Giants coach Tom Coughlin has to get Wilson involved for the pure sake of preserving Bradshaw. Expect 10-12 touches a game for the rookie, which will make him someone to consider starting as a FLEX play. He is available in 79 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com and is worth an immediate pickup. Bradshaw is now a lock for 20-plus touches a game and all of the teams goal line work. As long as he is healthy, consider him an RB1.
Most anticipated Willis McGahee’s knee injury would open the door for rookie Ronnie Hillman to see his first start and 20-plus game start of the season. Broncos coach John Fox is notorious for his preference for veterans, and we all should have known better than to write off Knowshon Moreno, who not only got the start, but also saw 24 touches to Hillman’s three. Moreno rushed for 85 yards on 20 carries and caught four passes for another 26 yards. A workmanlike performance against a Chiefs rush defense that ranks 25th in the league. Fantasy owners are going to rush to waiver wires to get their hands on Moreno, as they should. I would however plead to the owners that do pick him up to temper expectations. When the Broncos review the game tape, they are going to see plenty of yards left on the field. Moreno’s biggest value to the team is his ability to pass protect for Peyton Manning. Hillman hasn’t lit the world on fire yet this season, but is without a doubt the superior option carrying the football. Denver faces Tampa Bay’s top ranked rush defense next week and one to be avoided if at all possible. I also expect a more even workload distribution as well.
Beanie Well‘s returned from the injured reserve this week and many anticipated that he would split carries with La’Rod Stephens-Howling against the Rams, but what appeared to be an aggravation to a rib injury for Stephens-Howling ended that pretty quickly. Wells got 17 carries, gaining 48 yards and scoring twice in the Cardinals loss. There was no word of a setback for Wells, so it looks like he should be good to go as their starter moving forward. Let me be the first to tell you he shouldn’t find his way into your lineup as an RB2 unless it is a desperation move. Arizona’s remaining schedule is brutal, with road games against the Jets and Seahawks followed by home games to close out the season against Detroit, Chicago and San Francisco. Those last four games contain defenses that rank in the Top Five in terms of limiting Fantasy scoring to opposing running backs. With the poor offensive line and quarterback play of the Cards, Wells isn’t going to provide a late season surge for your Fantasy team.