Oh what fun the NFL is, week-to-week. Last week, I thought the Dolphins would be all over the debut of Jared Goff, ignoring the traditionally solid defense of the Steelers against the hapless Browns. Oops. So, this week I figured that solid Rams defense would come up big facing the Saints, but oops redux. At the last minute, I did have some clarity, changing my DFS picks to the Giants, who were facing the same Browns this week. And, well, that seems to be the play: whoever faces the Browns.
And, I gotta admit, I think Cleveland is going to be very good in a year or so. There is some good stuff happening there, though the team needs a quarterback. I do love watching teams rebuild, so I am going to be watching Cleveland for the next few months. I think of them like Atlanta in baseball: both with a lot of young talent, but both needing experience and the discipline that goes with professional sports at the highest level.
And, as the season progresses, a bunch more names have popped out, like rookie Malcolm Mitchell of the Patriots. An alum of Georgia, the wideout had a total of 11 catches this year for a decent 193 yards and a score. Mitchell got a personal high five receptions on seven targets Sunday, good for only 42 yards, but two more touchdowns. It is always worth checking out the younger players this time of year, as they have three-quarters of a season down, know the drill, and it is make or break time to take a step up. Mitchell is one of these players.
Some other rookies starting to make a mark? Well, I might have thought the Rams defense was a good bet, and I've been wrong, but Jared Goff clearly stepped it up for his second start against the Saints. Goff threw for three scores and 214 yards (20 of 32), looking much more comfortable than last week's debut performance. Granted the Saints pass defense is not the toughest in the league, but this is a big step forward for Goff and the team. I have Goff as a ninth rounder in a keeper league, and can freeze him at six next year, and I will (it is a two-QB league).
Another rookie getting a chance to shine a bit would be Derrick Henry, who was getting some decent albeit sporadic work through Week 8, when suddenly he dropped off the face of the scoring universe, with goose eggs in Weeks 8 and 11, and nine carries for 31 yards in between. But, with the Titans chances for the post-season more than bleak, and their normal starters down, Henry should indeed get some playing time. He did get eight rushes for 60 yards and a score on Sunday, and I would expect usage to increase and productivity along with. Henry does not, however, seem like much of a receiver.
The Dolphins' Dion Sims is a fourth-year player, and big, as in 271 pounds, for a tight end. That weight suggests more blocking than catching, seven of eight targets the past couple of weeks, good for a Sunday score. The Dolphins are on a a roll with six straight wins, with Sims contributing mightily the past two weeks. He is likely not much of a play, however, except as a potential cheap DFS selection against a team vulnerable to the tight end.
OK, maybe LeSean McCoy, who has been on hiatus since Week 6 when he scored three times against the Niners, is back. McCoy picked up a pair of scores and 103 yards rushing along with 31 yards on a pair of catches. He has slipped over the past five weeks in DFS value, so McCoy might become a good cheaper play.
Second-year man Daniel Brown is a wide receiver out of James Madison. Brown scored his first NFL TD on Sunday, a day he made his first receptions of the season. Brown caught a total of six passes last year on 11 targets. He might be obscure, but he's a receiver on a team with some issues at the position, and that means taking advantage of opportunities. Sunday was a good start for Brown.
Dontrelle Inman is a third-year player on the Chargers, and is one who has also had an increasing role thanks to the length of the season and injuries. Inman caught six from Philip Rivers on Sunday for 119 yards and a score and he now has 38 catches for 527 yards and a pair of TDs. That spells career highs for the Virginia alum, who has averaged five catches per game over his last four contests.
Jason Pierre-Paul gets this week's defensive nod, having three sacks and a fumble recovery for a score as he has picked his game up seriously. Pierre-Paul, as you might remember, destroyed his right hand on the Fourth in 2015, at the "hands" of an M80. But, he was the man on Sunday, bagging his seventh sack of the season to lead the Giants, and reminding us how good he was and might well be again. Inspirational, this kind of stuff is. And in my league where we look at individual players instead of team defense, I am scrounging for him.
Don't forget you can hit me up @lawrmichaels.