Pittsburgh Steelers

Zach Miller feels for Jesse James and hopes the NFL brings 'a little bit of common sense' to definition of a catch

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USA Today

Zach Miller feels for Jesse James and hopes the NFL brings 'a little bit of common sense' to definition of a catch

Zach Miller had a message to another tight end who had a touchdown taken away thanks to the NFL’s bizarre and inscrutable catch rule: “I feel for you, brother.”

Miller, who received the PFWA Chicago Chapter's “Good Guy” Award on Thursday at Halas Hall, was referring to Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James, who on Sunday had what looked to be a go-ahead touchdown overturned on replay review. James caught a pass from Ben Roethlisberger, stretched toward the goal line and, according to the NFL, did not “survive the ground” in his attempt to score a go-ahead touchdown in a pivotal AFC clash against the New England Patriots. 

The NFL’s inability to clearly communicate the definition of a catch continues to be a bad look for the league, especially in such a high-profile moment as the Steelers-Patriots game on Sunday night. 

Miller knows all too well the inconsistencies of the NFL’s definition of a catch, having had what was initially a touchdown overturned on the play on which he dislocated his knee and tore an artery against the New Orleans Saints in October. 

“I don't know where this is going, where it's already been,” Miller, who began walking without for the first time since his injury this week, said. “I feel like we probably need to bring in a little bit of common sense to this thing.”

Miller said he hasn’t watched NFL senior vice president of officiating Alberto Riveron’s explanation of why his touchdown in New Orleans was overturned, which you might remember featured this arrow “showing” the ball being on the ground:

Miller, though, did say he watched Riveron’s explanation of why James’ touchdown was overturned to being an incomplete pass, which has been viewed over 1 million times on twitter. 

“First of all it's hard to listen to it, the monotone talk — that's not for me to hear,” Miller said. “Give me my touchdown back and maybe I'll listen to his takes. But I haven't heard mine.”

Miller doesn’t feel the need to get an explanation from Riveron as to why what could’ve been the final reception of his career was overturned to being an incompletion. 

“I can walk him through it,” Miller said, “how it really happened.”

Fantasy Football: 10 waiver wire targets for Week 6 and beyond

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AP

Fantasy Football: 10 waiver wire targets for Week 6 and beyond

Another week. Another rash of injuries in the NFL.

Odell Beckham Jr. was one of three New York Giants wide receivers to go down with season-ending injuries. Bilal Powell, DeVante Parker and Travis Kelce all exited their team's victories after getting struck by the injury bug. 

While the majority of these injury cases won't really do much in terms of elevating another player from obscurity to fantasy relevance, we've done our best to gather a list of reinforcements who could be worth a roster spot on a thin waiver wire week.

Here's a list of 10 players who should provide some help in Week 6 and beyond. 

1. Adrian Peterson, RB, ARI

Just when you thought you could forget about the artist formerly known as AP, the Arizona Cardinals go out and make him fantasy relevant once again. The Cardinals pulled off a rare in season trade by dealing a 2018 conditional draft selection to the New Orleans Saints for Peterson on Tuesday morning. While Peterson looked pedestrian at best (81 yards on 27 carries) during his four games with the Saints in 2017, the trade gives him an opportunity to join a backfield in which he'll likely be in line for early-down work and an offense which better suits his running style. In a week where there aren't many upgrades on the waiver wire, Peterson has the chance to provide flex value in Arizona. 

2. Jerick McKinnon, RB, MIN

If you watched Monday's Bears-Vikings game, you'd know that McKinnon is hands down the best running back on the Vkings roster. Murray plodded his way to a meager 31 yards on 12 carries while McKinnon took control of the backfield with 16 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown, while also adding six receptions for 51 yards. McKinnon has teased us before, flashing high upside and off the charts athleticism early on in Minnesota, so it's easy to be pessimistic, but he's currently the only quality back in Minnesota and he'll certainly get the touches moving forward.

3. Aaron Jones, RB, GB

If you missed out on Jones last week, shame on you. He's currently owned in 66 percent of leagues, meaning there's still a chance he could be available for you. If so, he should be your No. 1 priority. Jones looked explosive in his first career start against the Cowboys, rushing for 125 yards and a touchdown with an eye-popping 6.6 yards per carry. Even if starting running back Ty Montgomery returns this week, there's a good chance the Packers ride the hot hand until Montgomery is 100 percent. 

4. Elijah McGuire, RB, NYJ

As the first-place Jets (try saying that with a straight face) get set for a showdown with the New England Patriots, they'll likely be without Bilal Powell (calf) and Matt Forte (knee), meaning the rookie McGuire will be in line for a heavy workload against a Patriots defense that's allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. McGuire doesn't possess the highest ROS upside, and he'll likely be relegated to third-string duties once the Jets are fully healthy at running back, but he's a player that should be targeted for the FLEX position in a juicy Week 6 matchup. 

5. Marlon Mack, RB, IND

The rookie out of South Florida had the best game of his young NFL career on Sunday, rushing for 91 yards on nine carries and flashed his explosiveness with a 35-yard touchdown run. Mack won't be stealing Frank Gore's starting job anytime soon, but his big-play ability and change-of-pace style could force the hand of head coach Chuck Pagano. As of now, Mack is stash and watch candidate who could provide major value later in the season.

6. Matt Breida, RB, SF

Following the 49ers loss to the Colts, head coach Kyle Shanahan uttered the words no fantasy owner likes to hear, "the team will use a hot hand approach" at running back. This news, coupled with Carlos Hyde's lingering hip injury, means Breida needs to be scooped up in all formats. Breida has seen an uptick in touches in every game this season, and had a career-high 10 carries for 49 yards in Week 5. Look to see those touches continue to climb moving forward. 

7. Ricardo Louis, WR, CLE

The wide receiver position has been like a game of musical chairs for the Browns this season. One week it was Corey Coleman, then it was Rashard Higgins, after that it was Kenny Britt, and as of late it's been Louis. A fourth-round draft choice in 2016, Louis has shown promise in Year 2 as he's seen 17 targets the last two weeks and hauled in 10 receptions for 135 yards. For a team that's going to be playing from behind in a majority of games this season, Louis is a must-add as the current de facto No. 1 in Cleveland.

8. Juju Smith-Schuster, WR, PIT

The Steelers have been searching for a viable No. 2 option in the passing game behind All Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown, and while we all thought this would be the year that Martavis Bryant breaks out, his struggles have forced the Steelers to get Smith-Schuster more involved in the offense. The rookie wideout has seen more snaps than Bryant over the last three games and has seven receptions on targets for 105 yards and a touchdown in his last two contests. Smith-Schuster may not be a WR2/FLEX option just yet, but he's worth stashing.

9. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, NYJ

We've been waiting for ASJ to become fantasy relevant for years now, and it appears his time has finally come. Seferian-Jenkins caught his first touchdown in a Jets uniform in Sunday's victory over the Browns. Since returning from suspension, he's hauled in 15 receptions for 106 yards and a score. On a team that's thin at weapons in the passing game, ASJ is a must-own in all league formats.

10. Jacoby Brissett, QB, IND

With injuries piling up (Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr) and players on bye weeks (Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson and Tyrod Taylor), now may be the time you need to hit the wire in search for a streaming option at the quarterback position. Despite not throwing a touchdown pass, Brissett had his best day as a passer, tossing for 314 yards in a win over the 49ers. Brissett's steady play should continue against one of the league's most charitable defenses (TEN) for opposing signal callers. If you're looking for a one week option, Brissett should be your guy. 

Depth check: How injuries and suspension will have a major impact on Bears-Vikings

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USA TODAY

Depth check: How injuries and suspension will have a major impact on Bears-Vikings

A month ago, the Bears could reasonably describe their depth at inside linebacker as strong, and maybe as the strongest unit on the team. 

But on Monday, the Bears will be without the trio of players who comprised that depth: Jerrell Freeman is on injured reserve with a pectoral tear; Nick Kwiatkoski’s pec injury isn’t as serious but will keep him sidelined; and Danny Trevathan will serve his one-game suspension for the helmet-to-helmet hit he leveled on Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams last week. 

Trevathan will be back next week and Kwiatkoski appears to have avoided injured reserve, meaning he can be expected back at some point this season. But without them, the Bears will roll with Christian Jones, John Timu and Jonathan Anderson (the latter two began the season on the practice squad) against the Minnesota Vikings. 

“It's a concern, but at least we're playing with guys that were here that were in camp,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “That was the one position on defense, when we went to the 53 and practice squad where we did have guys, we had four active and two on practice squad and now all six of them have played, so (we) feel good about that in that we're not having somebody in off the street having to learn a new system and I think they'll all do fine.”

Jones and Timu have seen a decent amount of snaps alongside Trevathan this year: In the last three weeks, Jones’ defensive snap counts are 47, 36 and 28 while Timu played 17 snaps against Pittsburgh and 19 against Green Bay (Anderson has not played a defensive snap since Week 2). 

Timu, who’s played in 20 games over the last three years, will handle the defensive calls on Monday.

“We’re confident in John,” Fangio said. “John knows our defense. He’s been here for three years. The game’s not too big for him. He loves to play. He is instinctive and smart. So we think he’ll go in there and do fine.”

Added linebacker Pernell McPhee: “Timu’s a very good player, a very smart player, a very patient player. I think his play on the field shows how much he’s studying and how much he’s really locked in throughout the week.”

The Bears may be without two other starters, too: Saturday’s final injury report listed outside linebacker Willie Young (tricep) as doubtful, while cornerback Marcus Cooper is questionable with back spasms. Going back further, the Bears are also without veteran safety Quintin Demps, who handled a lot of the communication duties for this defense. 

But the Vikings will be without rookie Dalvin Cook (74 carries, 354 yards, 2 TDs), who tore his ACL last week. Backups Jerick McKinnon (2.6 yards/attempt) and Latavius Murray (2.7 yards/attempt) haven’t inspired much fear in 2017. And the expectation at Halas Hall is that quarterback Sam Bradford will start, though he’s listed as questionable on the Vikings’ final injury report. 

So in the matchup of the Bears' defense against the Vikings' offense, the group that gets the most out of its depth guys may be the one that swings that battle on Monday. 

“Any time you lose a starter — I think there's a reason they're the starter — but you know I feel good about our backups,” coach John Fox said. “I feel good about the replacement people we've had in there. We've got more depth this season than we've had in the past so I feel confident in the people we'll have out there and the options we have.”