The Monday Rundown 10/17 - Dak is For Real, Roethlisberger Returns Quick, NFL Observations, Rising Fantasy Stars

BY ZACHARY KRUEGER
Twitter - @CentralBirdland

The guy in the lead photo for today is wide receiver Cameron Meredith, and he is just in there because he has been one of my favorite stories (maybe just fantasy football stories) of the last two weeks. We'll get to that later.

The Ravens couldn't cover anybody yesterday, mostly Odell Beckham Jr., and Terrell Suggs is likely done for the season. Even in the 410, I can't justify too much time covering the Ravens at this point.

I will re-state again that I called them the most overrated 3-0 team in the league just after their win against the Jaguars, and I never thought it had anything to do with Marc Trestman. The talent just isn't there, and it took another hit yesterday with Suggs tearing his biceps for the second time in his career. There's a chance he could play through it, but how much are we to expect from a wounded 34-year old veteran?

The Ravens have a very real chance at falling to 3-4 after next week's matchup in the Meadowlands against the Jets, which may even cause some to think that Harbs could be on the hot seat, which is fair. We'll see how next week plays out and do further judging from there, but there are far more exciting things to dive into this week.

So without further adieu, let's get this Monday rundown started!

Dak Prescott is the Franchise as of Today

I will no longer be arguing against Dak Prescott until he gives me a reason to do so, and yesterday afternoon's impressive win against the Packers in Green Bay certainly didn't give me any reason to think this team needs Romo's presence on the field this season, or ever.

Dak Prescott just looks legit folks. I don't care how talented is offensive line is, and I realize that his rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott is making life even easier on him by leading the league in rushing with 703 yards (LeSean McCoy is second in the league with 587 yards).

Dak just looks the part at this point, just like he did in Green Bay yesterday. He finished the day going 18-for-27 passing with 247 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. He also lost a fumble, but his day was far better than the quarterback playing host to him, Aaron Rodgers. 

I haven't been one to believe in momentum as being a reason to play somebody, I think Tim Tebow turned me off to that when people wanted to constantly justify starting one of the most inept quarterbacks of the last ten years. The difference between Prescott and Tebow is that Prescott isn't inept.

Dak has composure and poise. Every time he steps behind center he has a commanding presence. Not only is his appearance that of a franchise quarterback, but his stats are too. He has been knocked for his check down passes, and likely will be for the remainder of this season at times, but he has become more effective over time as a downfield passer, and has great accuracy in doing so. His touchdown pass to Brice Butler yesterday was a perfect example of where Prescott can put the football when he needs to.

So the momentum argument for Prescott, is it a good one? Absolutely. The Cowboys are 5-1. Dak is playing effectively, Zeke is about to churn out a record breaking season and the entire offensive unit is playing as effective as we've ever seen them in a while.

Roethlisberger Hurt, Back Sooner than Anticipated

It hasn't been officially announced when Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will return from his torn meniscus that he suffered in the team's Week 6 loss to the Dolphins, but I'd be willing to bet that it is sooner than anybody is expecting.

Ben Roethlisberger is as tough a quarterback as they come, there aren't many things that he won't play through. Roethlisberger has missed his fair share of games throughout his NFL career, but he has also played is share of games injured, and effectively.

The Steelers sit at 4-2 on the season right now, and lead the AFC North by a full game with the Ravens sitting at a 3-3 record.

You may even be able to argue that there has never been a season where the Steelers need Roethelisberger more than they do this year.

The Steelers have suffered losses to the Eagles and the Dolphins this year, bad losses where their defense was unexpectedly gouged by opposing running backs (125 rush yards allowed vs. Philadelphia, 222 rush yards against vs. Miami), and have a completely defunct backup quarterback in Landry Jones. 

Pittsburgh used to enjoy stability at their backup quarterback position with guys like Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich and Bruce Gradkowski. None of whom were great, but all of them were trusted to fill a void for a couple of games. Now the ball will be put in the hand of Landry Jones, a quarterback who could barely thrive in the preseason, and will now face Tom Brady and the Patriots. Landry has to be hoping that the defense will at least provide him enough support to at least keep the game close.

Roethlisberger is set to undergo surgery on his torn meniscus this week, and will have a bye week in Week 8 before preparing to face the Ravens in Week 9. 

I think Roethlisberger returns by Week 9 in time for his matchup against the Ravens in a game that could hold serious playoff weight. There aren't many players who I would pick to play 15 days after undergoing surgery on a torn meniscus, but Roethlisberger is no ordinary player. Shoot, even yesterday he came back to finish out the game against the Dolphins, you really think he won't want to be back for his team in two weeks?

With Roethlisberger, the Steelers are virtually guaranteed to be a playoff team. Without him, I'm not sure they are even a five win team. He knows this, coaches know this and any unbiased analyst would know this as well. If his history has shown us anything, it's that Roethlisberger will be back by Week 9 to face the Ravens in a meaningful matchup against a division rival.

Monday Musings from Week 6

  • Rex Ryan said the Bills have been winning with "boring football" because of their recent run-first approach. It might be boring football, but it is winning football. I'm more curious to see what they can do against good quarterbacks. In their four straight wins, the Bills have beaten Carson Palmer, Jacoby Brissett, Case Keenum and Colin Kaepernick.
  • Tom Brady is now averaging 391 pass yards and three passing touchdowns per game since his Week 5 return. The future Hall of Fame quarterback is now on pace to pass for 4,692 yards and 36 touchdowns over the 12 game span he has been given for this year. In 2015, 4,692 passing yards would have been the third highest total that season.
  • Devontae Booker went underappreciated in Denver for yet another week. The fourth round rookie running back ran for 46 yards on five carries, while CJ Anderson ran for 37 yards on 10 carries. It's only a matter of time until Booker overtakes Anderson for the bell cow position, but until then we will have to continue to watch him go under-used.
Anderson has averaged only 3.5 YPC this season, while Booker is averaging almost 5.0 YPC.

Anderson has averaged only 3.5 YPC this season, while Booker is averaging almost 5.0 YPC.

  • The Carolina Panthers just might be the worst team in football not named the Cleveland Browns. They got burnt on their decision to release Josh Norman, and now their secondary can't cover anybody. Cam Newton is back to being the most unhappy player in the league, and the 1-3 Saints just beat the Super Bowl runner-ups. The NFC South is on the rise, and Carolina will be lucky to finish better than third in that division.
  • Jay Ajayi ran for 204 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday, but look for how he plays in the weeks to come. The Steelers are one of the worst defensive units in the league (28th in yards allowed/game), and Ajayi has yet to be given a key role until this point. Miami plays host to the Bills and Jets over the next two weeks before traveling to San Diego and Los Angeles in weeks 10 and 11. With some stout run defenses on the Horizon, Ajayi will have opportunities to prove Sunday's output wasn't a fluke.
  • ESPN dropped this epic blind quarterback resume today on First Take. 

Fantasy Players on the Rise

You may not have heard of them, or perhaps you just haven't considered them, but here are a few players you should consider claiming on the waiver this week.

  1. Cameron Meredith - Wide Receiver (Chicago Bears)

The second-year wide receiver out of Illinois State has been turning heads since he burst onto the scene in Week 5 against the Colts. The undrafted, former quarterback is a 6-foot-3, 207 pound force of nature to cover, and he runs a 4.57 40-yard dash. In the last two weeks he has been targeted 27 times by Brian Hoyer, and has managed to haul in 20 receptions for 243 yards and a touchdown over the last two weeks. He could soon become the favorite over Alshon Jeffery.

        2.  Jay Ajayi - Running Back (Miami Dolphins)

I just wrote that his 204 yard performance could be a giant fluke, but that doesn't mean that it shouldn't garner him a majority of the workload moving forward. In a game where volume is everything, Jay Ajayi should be a popular add in all leagues. 

        3.  Ty Montgomery - Wide Receiver (Green Bay Packers)

Davante Adams has had trouble with drops all season, and Montgomery filled in on Sunday against the Cowboys for an injured James Starks. The end result? Montgomery hauled in 10 passes for 98 yards after going catchless for the first five games of the season. The Packers are operating on a short week and play Thursday night against the Bears. If Adam's poor hands don't keep him out of the game, the fact that he may have a concussion could. Montgomery could be a hot pickup in a short week against a vaunted Bears defense. Starks could also set, giving Montgomery the chance to spell Lacy out of the backfield.

        4.  Hunter Henry - Tight end (San Diego Charger)

I'm not sure why, but Chargers tight end Hunter Henry is only owned in 35% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues, which seems a little low for a guy who looks like he could be a top five tight end for the rest of the season. In the last three weeks, Henry has converted on 13 of his 19 target opportunities for 218 yards and three touchdowns. Philip Rivers has shown throughout his entire career that he loves throwing to his tight end. Veteran Antonio Gates is no longer the guy to own in San Diego, scoop up Henry if hes still available in your league.

        5.  Kendall Wright - Wide Receiver (Tennessee Titans)

The tights have had a mostly anemic passing attack this season, and Tajae Sharpe isn't quite primed to be a number one receiver just yet. That opens the door for Kendall Wright, who capitalized on his opportunity yesterday against the Cleveland Browns. Wright was targeted nine times by Marcus Mariota on Sunday, and finished the game with 155 yards and a touchdown. 

Wright is just five years removed from being a first round draft pick out of Baylor, and caught 94 balls his second year in the league. He can be a PPR gem with the right quarterback, and is currently only owned in 3% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues. Of course, he is owned in mine because I picked him up as I was writing this.