By Christopher Harris

ESPN.com

(Archive)

Week 17

San Diego Chargers

(8-7)

Denver Broncos

(4-11)

Analysis: In Week 17, the Chargers will: take out their frustrations on the Broncos. They're not making the playoffs and they've still got one of the most banged-up offenses in football, but expect the guys who do play to rack up some numbers. In Week 17, the Broncos will: do everything they can to have the Tim Tebow hype build this spring and summer. This franchise isn't winning any time soon. They're awful and old on defense, and their offensive line is just so-so. That means their mission in 2011 will be to promote Tebow (already the NFL's best-selling jersey).

Fantasy Up: Mike Tolbert sustained a serious-looking neck injury early against the Bengals last week, and while his longer-term prospects should be unaffected, he's not playing here. That makes Ryan Mathews a top-10 fantasy back. Mathews' third-quarter 23-yard touchdown, which narrowed the Chargers' deficit to just three points and seemed like it would signal a big momentum shift, showed off an aspect of Mathews' game that's been lacking in his rookie year: speed. It's funny, you watch a guy like Mathews or Matt Forte plod around on plays where there's little room to run (which seems to happen often) and you get an image in your mind of them as unathletic. Then you see them finally get a crack, and they can scoot. … I'll admit it: Tebow played much better in the second half against the Texans. The Broncos didn't give him much to do in the first stanza, and it showed on the scoreboard: Houston 17, Denver 0. Then Tebow was allowed to throw it down the field more, beginning with the very first play of the second half, a bomb straight down the middle to Jabar Gaffney on which three Texans defenders basically stared at one another. This wasn't exactly John Elway stuff, but it wasn't far off; the very next drive, the first two plays, Tebow went play-action and heaved it deep to Brandon Lloyd (granted, the second never should've been thrown, and Lloyd only caught it because he jumped up over two guys covering him). After that, the Texans respected Tebow more, and the short stuff opened up, including a score on a sweet misdirection screen to Correll Buckhalter. And then Tebow showed poise and patience marching to the winning score, in the end finally flashing what will really be his fantasy calling card -- his rushing legs -- with the winning touchdown. These things will come by degrees for Tebow. First he played against Oakland, and he did a few good things with a very limited game plan. Then he was given a chance with a more wide-open second-half plan, and proved he could move the ball against the worst defense in football. Now he takes a step up in weight class against the Chargers defense, and maybe he'll make some mistakes. But he's done well so far, and as a Week 17 option? Heck, I've got him rated No. 12 among quarterbacks. And Mr. Lloyd, please forgive my doubting you. Lloyd should start in all leagues. … Vincent Jackson is also a top-10 option at his position, but mainly because so many other stars will sit. I tried to tell Jackson owners not to go crazy with him in Week 16; he was obviously coming off a crazy three-touchdown effort a couple Thursdays ago, a game that many folks rightly didn't start him, concerned about his calf injury. But you can't chase points retroactively, you know? It turned out Jackson saw safety help the entire game in Cincinnati, and outside a pass interference call he drew in the end zone, wasn't much of a factor (he did have nine targets, but only four catches). In this one, he'll likely see a bunch of Champ Bailey, provided Bailey's heel is well enough for him to play. You start him and Philip Rivers, yes. But don't expect three touchdowns. … It sounds as though Malcom Floyd has a decent chance to play, too, and he probably is an acceptable No. 3 wideout, but no more. Certainly you worry that one or both of his hammies could explode at any moment.

Fantasy Down: Knowshon Moreno gave a big (insert obscene gesture here) to fantasy owners Sunday, getting eight touches for 41 yards in the first half, then sitting out the entire second. Interim coach Eric Studesville engaged in varying degrees of dissimilation this week, as he tried to get us to buy he was only "riding the hot hand" in sitting Moreno and using Buckhalter in the second half, and that Moreno could've returned to the game. I'm not buying it. I'm quite sure Studesville was told not to jeopardize the team's franchise running back after Moreno felt his rib injury bother him. So what happens this week? For the moment, I'm expecting Moreno to suit up, though as of this writing he hadn't yet practiced, and it won't be a shock if word comes out Friday or Saturday that he won't play. If he starts, view him as a risky flex. If he doesn't, Buckhalter and Lance Ball split touches, and probably aren't viable. … No, you're not going to see Antonio Gates in this game. He's been placed on injured reserve.


Christopher Harris is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner. You can ask him questions at www.facebook.com/writerboy and follow him at www.twitter.com/writerboyESPN.

Fantasy Focus Football

Nate Ravitz, Matthew Berry and Stephania Bell recap a tough game for the Buccaneers and preview all the games in Week 3.

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?