Week 12: Super Sleepers
I heard there was a football game on Monday night, but when I changed the channel to watch the game it didn't seem as though Chicago had come to play. The Bears managed just 192 yards of total offense in the game, while San Francisco -- with second year man Colin Kaepernick -- posted 366 yards of total offense. If Kaepernick continues to play as well as he did Monday night, Alex Smith won't be rushed back to the field as he recovers from a concussion he sustained week 10 against the Rams. While Kaepernick's body of work is limited, it is clear the young man has a good grasp on the offense. While completing just 16 passes Monday night he found 7 different receivers. Colin's ability to see the field and spread the ball around helps not only himself to be successful but his teammates as well. Of the 16 pass attempts in Monday's game 5 of them went to Michael Crabtree, who pulled in 3 for 31 with a touchdown. This may not seem like a lot, but Crabtree is only averaging 4.7 receptions per game this season so having Kaepernick under center doesn't look like it will change Michael's numbers much. This week San Francisco heads to New Orleans to face a Saints defense that is allowing a league high 462 yards a game. After 11 weeks the Saints are ranked 31st against the pass and 32nd against the run. There is little reason to believe if San Francisco could be as successful as they were against a solid Chicago defense that they won't be as successful against this Saints defense. Crabtree may not post big numbers from a yardage perspective, but a solid 10 point performance a fourth week in a row is not out of the realm of possibility.
Late in Sunday's blowout win over Indianapolis, Tom Brady lost one of his favorite targets -- Rob Gronkowski -- to a broken forearm. The loss of Gronkowski leaves a big gap in the Patriots offense. Due to his size and athletic ability, Rob is a very difficult player for opposing teams to cover often causing teams to double team the tight end. With Gronk out of the line up, New England will need to find another receiver to pick up the receptions he would have had. This first man up for this honor will likely be wide receiver Julian Edelman. At just 5' 10", Edelman plays a very similar style to that of fellow receiver Wes Welker. This is both good and bad for New England. On the bad side, Edelman is a downgrade on size when compared to Gronkowski. However, on the other hand, Tom Brady is very comfortable playing with Welker (whose playing style is similar to Edelman's), so there is a comfort level already there between Tom and Julian. Edelman's size, speed and versatility will be difficult for opposing teams to match up against. If you're looking for a receiver with potential who also happens to be on a team with a great quarterback then Julian is your man.
Over the past month, teams have struggled to slow down Marshawn Lynch who has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of Seattle's last 4 games. This weekend that 100 yard rushing streak could be in jeopardy when Seattle heads to Miami. The Dolphins run defense is currently ranked 9th in the league allowing just 98 yards per game. We expect Miami's focus to be stopping Lynch and forcing rookie quarterback Russell Wilson to make plays. If Miami's run defense is successful then Seahawks receivers could be in for a treat. The Dolphins secondary is currently ranked 27th in the league allowing 277 yards per game. One receiver who could have a nice game this weekend is Zach Miller. In Seattle's game two weeks ago agains the, Jets Miller had 5 receptions on 6 targets for 37 yards. While not great fantasy numbers, his 6 targets were second only to Sidney Rice's 7 and accounted for nearly 33% of Seattle's pass attempts. Sometimes just getting the ball into your receiver's hands is an issue, but that doesn't seem as though it will be an issue here.