Cullen: Quarterback changes coming after Week 10 injuries

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Scott Cullen
11/12/2012 1:55:45 PM
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It's time for the quarterback shuffle after injuries hit hard in Week 10, AP keeps running all day and two of the best tight ends in football went head-to-head. All that and more in Scott Cullen's Week 10 Review.

QUARTERBACK CAROUSEL
It was a tough week for quarterbacks in the NFL, with injuries and ineffectiveness potentially paving the way for changes.

Next week brings a matchup of NFC contenders, when the Chicago Bears travels to San Francisco to face the 49ers, but both teams lost their starting quarterbacks to concussions in Week 10. Alex Smith was replaced by Colin Kaepernick who adds intrigue to the position because of his ability to run the ball. He rushed for 66 yards on eight carries against the Rams (completing 11 of 17 passes for 117 yards) and has averaged 8.4 yards per carry on 21 rushes this season.

Cutler's replacement is veteran Jason Campbell, who was 11-of-19 for 94 yards passing in the rain against Houston Sunday night. Campbell isn't flashy, but is one of the most competent backup quarterbacks in the league having completed 60.8% of his passes and thrown for 74 touchdowns and 50 interceptions in his career.

Eagles QB Michael Vick has been on the hot seat for his performance this season, with calls getting louder for rookie Nick Foles to take over. After Vick suffered a concussion against Dallas Sunday, it appears that Foles is going to get an opportunity to guide the Eagles' offence. A third-round pick out of Arizona, Foles starred in the preseason and got an extended look against Dallas, going 22 of 32 for 219 yards with one touchdown and one interception. If he can avoid turning the ball over, Foles actually has a chance to be an upgrade for the Eagles' offence.

Second-year Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert left the Thursday night game at Indianapolis after aggravating a shoulder injury and he was replaced by Chad Henne who completed 10 of 16 passes for 121 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Gabbert is expected to get the start next week for Jacksonville, but Henne lurks behind, waiting for an opening.

Perhaps the highest profile quarterback situation in the spotlight is with the New York Jets. Mark Sanchez was, predictably, overwhelmed (9-for-24, 122 YDS, 1 INT), by the Seattle defence, which allowed Tim Tebow to get in for a little action (three passes, four runs). The Jets have lost five of six and visit St. Louis in Week 11. If they don't make a change this week, they aren't likely make a change for Week 12 either since the Jets play the Patriots on Thursday night (and it's extra difficult to change the QB on a short week).

In these uncertain times, this is when we remember that Carson Palmer isn't the worst thing in the world to happen to your fantasy team. For all of his shortcomings, Palmer has thrown for 1642 yards and 10 touchdowns in the last five games.

COMEBACK SPECIAL
It's not news that Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has been great, but it's remarkable that he's been so dominant coming back from knee surgery. After Sunday's effort (176 yards, 1 TD on 30 touches) against the Lions, Peterson leads the league with 112.8 rushing yards per game and his last four have been a tour de force (629 rushing yards on 82 carries, 7.7 ypc, 5 TD). The debate between Peterson and Broncos QB Peyton Manning for Comeback Player of the Year is a heated competition, but one that could spill into the MVP race too.

WHY NFL TEAMS DRAFT COLLEGE BASKETBALL PLAYERS
Two of the most productive tight ends in the league turned in outstanding games in the Falcons-Saints game. Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez (11 REC, 122 YDS, 2 TD) leads all tight ends with 68.6 yards per game this season, his 16th season since he was drafted out of Cal, where he averaged 6.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game as a junior forward.

MANNING DOWN
As the Giants imploded at Cincinnati Sunday, QB Eli Manning failed to pass for a touchdown for the third straight game, tying a career-worst streak, set in Weeks 11-13 of the 2004 season, when Manning was a rookie. With WR Hakeem Nicks healthy and paired alongside Victor Cruz, Manning should have been productive enough against a Bengals defence that ranked 19th in passing yards allowed (240.0) before Week 10.

Saints TE Jimmy Graham matched Gonzalez (7 REC, 146 YDS, 2 TD) on Sunday and the third-year pro is emerging as one of the elite pass-catchers in the league, averaging 66.6 yards per game this season despite barely playing in Week Five when he suffered an ankle injury. Graham played four years of hoops at the University of Miami, averaging 4.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game as a senior.

MEGATRON DESTROYS VIKINGS
After NFL Editor Justin Boone and I debated the merits of Calvin Johnson vs. Eric Decker at wide receiver last week, the Lions' superstar weighed in with a spectacular performance (a career-high 12 REC, 207 YDS, 1 TD) in a losing effort at Minnesota. It was only the second touchdown of the season for Johnson, but he leads all receivers with 108.2 yards per game.

ROOKIE RECEIVER
With the Vikings missing star WR Percy Harvin, who was sidelined by a sprained ankle, Minneota turned to other options. While Michael Jenkins and Jerome Simpson have more of a track record, rookie Jarius Wright, a fourth-round pick out of Arkansas, led Vikings receivers (3 REC, 65 YDS, 1 TD) against Detroit.

TURN FOR THE WORSE
Falcons RB Michael Turner, coming off his second 100-yard rushing game of the season, was somehow stifled (13 carries, 15 YDS at N.O.) by a Saints defence that had been allowing a league-high 176.5 rushing yards per game. As Turner struggles, Jacquizz Rodgers is ready and waiting for more touches. Even if he's not an everydown back, Rodgers can take time away from Turner and that ultimately affects both of their production.

IVORY TOWER
Stuck as the Saints' fourth-string running back coming out of training camp, Chris Ivory has been making up for lost time in the last couple weeks while Darren Sproles has been out with a broken hand. After Sunday's effort against Atlanta (85 yards from scrimmage, 1 TD, eight touches), Ivory has run for 120 yards on 17 carries (7.1 ypc), maybe enough to earn a spot in the crowded New Orleans backfield.

REECE'S PIECES
Raiders running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson both suffered sprained ankles last week, opening the door for Marcel Reece to get the bulk of the work against Baltimore. Reece, who primarily plays fullback and was a wide receiver in college, was productive enough (104 YDS, 20 touches) even though the Raiders were blown out by the Ravens.

BUFFALO STAMPEDE
While it's not easy to gauge which one will get more touches from one week to the next, the Buffalo Bills do have a productive pair of runners. Both Fred Jackson (115 YDS, 2 TD, 20 touches) and C.J. Spiller (131 YDS, 13 touches) had strong games against New England and while Spiller has the higher ceiling, Jackson isn't easy to knock out of the Bills' backfield. Jackson did suffer a head injury against the Patriots, knocking him out of the game late, and that could result in more touches for Spiller.

CJ SPLITS
In the first five games this season, Titans RB Chris Johnson rushed for 210 yards on 73 carries (2.9 ypc) with zero touchdowns. In the five games since, he has 652 rushing yards on 97 carries, scoring four touchdowns.

DOLPHIN DROPS
As starter Reggie Bush (29 yards, five touches, 1 fumble vs. Tennessee) continues to struggle with fumbles, backup Daniel Thomas continues to get work and he was solid enough (65 yards, 10 touches) in a losing effort against Tennessee. Bush hasn't gained more than 75 yards from scrimmage since Week Two (he had 62 yards in the first half of Week Three before getting hurt against the Jets), so his lack of production could be traced back to that injury, but that doesn't necessarily explain why he has lost fumbles twice in the last three weeks.

CHARGE FORWARD
Even though he through a crucial fourth-quarter pick six, Chargers QB Philip Rivers had one of his most productive games (29-for-37, 337 YDS, 3 TD, 2 INT) of the season, throwing three touchdowns in a game for the second time, surpassing 300 yards for the second time and completing 78.4% of his passes, his second-best rate (behind Week Nine's 90.0%).

One of the beneficiaries of the Chargers throwing more downfield is WR Danario Alexander who had a big game (5 REC, 134 YDS, 1 TD) against Tampa Bay, giving him 195 receiving yards in the last couple of weeks, as he landed a spot in the starting lineup when Robert Meachem was injured and remained a more prominent target for Rivers in Week 10.

RAM TOUGH
Coming back to the St. Louis lineup, WR Danny Amendola was stellar (8 REC, 102 YDS) in his return against San Francisco. Going to overtime also helped RB Steven Jackson (101 YDS, 1 TD, 29 carries), who put up his first 100-yard rushing game of the season against the 49ers' notoriously tough run defence.

COWBOY WAY
Cowboys RB Felix Jones is starting to find a groove as DeMarco Murray's replacement in the Dallas backfield. After his production Sunday (93 YDS, 1 TD, 19 touches) against Philadelphia, Jones has accrued more than 70 yards from scrimmage in four of five starts, scoring three touchdowns. Maybe not ideal No. 1 back numbers, but enough to help the cause.

JACKSONVILLE RECEIVERS
While any Blaine Gabbert-led passing offence is going to have issues, it's getting more and more clear that rookie WR Justin Blackmon isn't the immediate solution to what plagues Jacksonville. Blackmon had three catches for 25 yards against Indianapolis and, despite being the Jaguars' most targeted receiver this season, he's well behind Cecil Shorts (6 REC, 105 YDS, 1 TD at Indy) in production and Laurent Robinson (9 REC, 77 YDS at Indy) is healthy and ready to run in the slot, leaving Blackmon a long way from being the primary target this season.

INJURIES
Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo (concussion) Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia (concussion) Brandon Myers, TE, Oakland (concussion) Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco (concussion) Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago (concussion) Elvis Dumervil, DE, Denver (shoulder) Glenn Dorsey, DE, Kansas City (calf) Jason Avant, WR, Philadelphia (hamstring) Eric Wright, CB, Tampa Bay (ankle)

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Nick Foles (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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