Thanks to seven feet of snow in Buffalo last week, we were treated to a double dose of Monday Night Football. Fortunately, the Bills’ 38-3 thrashing of the Jets wasn’t the one on national television. The Ravens’ 34-27 victory over the Saints wasn’t the best game we’ve seen all season, but considering the level of competition in primetime games this season, we’re not going to complain.
Justin Forsett has been a great story all season, as he’s emerged as the clear No. 1 back in Baltimore. Following Monday night’s 182-yard, two-touchdown outburst at the Superdome, Forsett credited OC Gary Kubiak for standing on the table for him when the Ravens signed Forsett in the offseason. At the time, the signing was more of an afterthought. It’s proven to be one of the best bargains of 2014. Forsett is the league’s seventh-leading rusher with 721 yards and is eighth among running backs in fantasy points. He has a very favorable schedule ahead — vs. SD, at MIA, vs. JAX, and at HOU — for the fantasy playoffs. All four teams are in the bottom half of the league when it comes to points allowed to running backs. Forsett is a perfect fit in Kubiak’s zone-blocking scheme. And the Baltimore offensive line is creating massive holes in the run game. Keep riding Forsett, who has back-to-back 100-yard and two-touchdown games, to a fantasy championship.
The Bills “hosted” the Jets at Detroit’s Ford Field Monday night. Nothing exciting resulted from the contest, but Fred Jackson did return to the lineup after missing Week 11. The Bills stayed with their three-back committee. Jackson started the game and finished with the most touches, but lost some goal-line work to Anthony Dixon. Jackson also appeared to be at less than 100 percent. Bryce Brown was third in line for carries and wasn't a factor in the pass game. Brown offers the most big-play ability and could push for bigger workloads going forward. Jackson’s been held to 3.3 YPC in his last two starts. The Bills should increase Jackson's snaps as he gets closer to full health, but he isn't going to have an every-down role. Jackson is start-able as a low-end RB2. Based on their usage against the Jets, Dixon projects as a better FLEX option than Brown.
Monday Night Football Notes
The Bills ended a 21-possession touchdown drought by scoring on the opening drive Monday night. … Michael Vick was horrific against the Bills’ vaunted pass rush, as he completed just 7-of-19 passes for 76 yards before getting benched in the second half in favor of Geno Smith. Just before halftime, Vick missed a wide-open Eric Decker for what would have been a 69-yard touchdown. … Sammy Watkins was held to a 3-35 line after roasting the Jets for 3-157-1 in Week 8. He figures to draw shadow coverage from Joe Haden in Week 13. … Percy Harvin managed just one catch for two yards. He didn’t have a chance with the disastrous Vick at quarterback. … Robert Woods sprinkles in a big game every now and then. He was the star of the night for the Bills, posting a 9-118-1 line, topping it off with a one-handed catch down the right sideline. We’re not going to chase the big night on the waiver wire. Woods is merely a WR5 when he doesn’t get to face the Jets’ atrocious secondary. … Drew Brees has tossed three pick-sixes this season. … Mark Ingram was stuffed from the one-yard line on first-, second-, and fourth-and-goal on the opening drive. He couldn’t get anything going against Baltimore’s stout front-seven. … Kenny Stills and Jimmy Graham proved to be the biggest beneficiaries in the Saints’ first game sans Brandin Cooks (thumb), as they combined to see 19 targets. Marques Colston saw just four passes come his way. Stills is a legit WR3. … Pierre Thomas and Ingram spilt touches 11-11 in Thomas’ return from a shoulder injury. … Steve Smith Sr.’s 89 yards were his most since Week 6. He also found the end zone for the first time since September 12.
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In Other News…
Football is of no concern to Eric Berry right now. After playing all 69 snaps in Thursday night’s Week 12 loss to the Raiders, the Chiefs sent Berry to the reserve/non-football illness list Monday. It’s believed he has lymphoma after doctors discovered a mass in his chest. The former No. 5 overall pick is done for the season. It’s a tough blow to everyone involved, as the Chiefs lose a leader and Berry is in his contract year. Our thoughts are with Berry.
Ryan Mallett injured his right pectoral in pregame warmups before Sunday’s game against the Bengals. He played through the injury, but it was discovered after the game that he suffered a tear in the muscle and is done for the season. Mallett waited for over three years to get his first start in the NFL, and he lasted just two games before it’s now over. Headed toward free agency, Mallett will be an interesting case this spring. The Texans have informed him they want to re-sign him. Houston will now presumably go back to Ryan Fitzpatrick, with Tom Savage or newly-signed Thad Lewis filling in as the No. 2. Downgrade Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins a bit.
Browns FS Tashaun Gipson collided with Joe Haden on Sunday against the Falcons, with Gipson, the NFL’s interceptions leader, receiving the worst of the hit. Gipson had to be carted off the field with an injury to the PCL and torn MCL in his knee. He’ll miss the remainder of the regular season before having a chance to return for the playoffs.
Quarterback & Running Back Slants
Robert Griffin III will remain the Redskins’ starter for Week 13. … Coach Pete Carroll expects Marshawn Lynch (back, illness) to play Thanksgiving night against the 49ers. … Bishop Sankey suffered a stinger in the Week 12 loss to the Eagles, but later returned. He should be fine for Week 13. … Dexter McCluster is in the league’s concussion protocol. … Coach Mike Pettine praised Isaiah Crowell’s practice habits and work ethic following his breakout Week 12. … Reggie Bush (ankle) was limited on Monday. … Coach Bill O’Brien said Arian Foster (groin) “could play” in Week 13. … Latavius Murray remains in the concussion protocol. … Nick Foles (collarbone) is due for a follow-up appointment with the doctor this week or next. … Trent Richardson says he didn’t start Week 12 because he was sick during the practice week. We’re not buying it. He and Dan Herron are in for a timeshare.
Wide Receiver & Tight End Slants
The Colts say Dwayne Allen (ankle) remains day-to-day. … Brandon Marshall (ankle) was limited on Monday. … Calvin Johnson (ankle) was held out of Monday’s practice. … Rod Streater (foot, I.R./recall) resumed practicing Monday. … Odell Beckham (back) admits he’s “sore,” but could practice in full this week. … Coach Bruce Arians admitted he should have done a better job of getting Michael Floyd the ball in Week 12. … The Cardinals remain in wait-and-see mode with Larry Fitzgerald (knee). … Jordan Matthews (knee) and Zach Ertz (oblique) are practicing in full ahead of Thanksgiving Day’s game with the Cowboys. … After playing 74 percent of the snaps in Week 11, Marquess Wilson played just 49 percent of the snaps Sunday. … Kyle Rudolph played 61-of-69 snaps Sunday after being eased back in from hernia surgery in Week 11. … Charles Johnson played 67-of-69 snaps for the Vikings in Week 12. He’s emerging as the Vikings’ No. 1 receiver. … The Panthers will continue to feed Kelvin Benjamin weekly. … Donte Moncrief out-snapped Hakeem Nicks 30-28 in Week 12, but he hasn’t pulled far enough away to be more than a WR4/5. … Josh Gordon played 69 percent of the snaps in Week 12. Expect that number to rise as we move forward.