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Thursday 23rd Mar 2017

We have to start with the Raiders, who turned a major corner within their franchise and came back from a joke of a first half (-14 yards) to 15 unanswered points and a win. Never mind that Derek Carr never really fell into a groove, or that Amari Cooper was neutralized, or Latavius Murray virtually halted. 

The defense arrived (four field goals was it for Denver), but Oakland had a couple of games against good teams where in the end they had a lead, and could not hold it. The Raiders should have beaten the Bears, and could have beaten Denver and Pittsburgh earlier in the year. But let's face it, the team was still not quite ready. 

In fact, the team had some very flat moments against both the Chiefs and Vikings that lingered through the first half on Sunday. But, somewhere therein, I believe the team crossed over. Were those same Raiders to face Chicago or the Steelers again, I believe things would be different.

And, I am not saying that Oakland will even make the post-season this year. But I do think they are the team to beat in the AFC West next year, and we will look to that win as the starting point to a Raiders team that is once again successful.

Needless to say, none of the Raiders on my fantasy teams provided much help with much of anything this past week, and my post-season play has been put to a halt.

The Raiders play the Packers next, which brings us Eddie Lacy, who picked up 124 yards and a score (plus a catch), a performance that sort of came out of nowhere in an erratic year. It is tough, for playing Lacy is sort of like playing Matt Jones.

It is true Dallas was not really serious competition Sunday night, playing a game my cousin Richard called "...a pair of invalids slapping it out." On the other hand, Lacy does have 100-plus yards in three of his last four games. Granted Aaron Rodgers is a different species than Brock Osweiler, QB-wise, but Khalil Mack and his mates will make an interesting test regarding the path forward for both of these teams this weekend. If the Packers score, I am guessing it will be because of Rodgers, their defense, and Oakland's inexperience.

But, even with less yards, James Starks "out-pointed" Lacy, so if I had other options, I might look elsewhere. And, sometimes you have to play Matt Jones because he is the best option.

With the Panthers well set for the playoffs, they will want to give Jonathan Stewart some carries while at the same time keeping him as fresh and healthy as possible. Look at Fozzy Whittaker, who bagged 34 yards and a score on eight carries Sunday, for if Whittaker is the backup, it is important now that he stays sharp just in case.

What can you say about opportunity that Tim Hightower is likely not feeling today? Gone seemingly forever, injuries to Khiry Robinson and Mark Ingram opened room on the Saints, and 85 yards and a score were the results. Still just 28, Hightower might well get the ball the rest of the year and could be a great play all over.

Isaiah Crowell had a monster game against a terrible defense that is not sure what to do with itself. Next week, he gets Seattle, kind of the polar opposite of San Francisco (must be a west coast thing). Pick Lacy over Crowell.

You have probably noticed that the Jets' Bilal Powell keeps getting increased action, as he caught all five passes thrown his way, scored once, and carried three times for 36 yards. As the Jets continue, I am thinking he will get more chances.

Finally, as long as Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington are ailing (which seems like always), David Johnson is getting the ball to the tune of 191 yards, seven catches, and a TD. At this point, we are talking about plugging holes and moving forward, and Johnson could be some pretty good caulk.

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