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A football week that started out on a promising note last Thursday with an exciting battle between two desperate teams ended on Monday with a boring contest between two teams going nowhere.

​The difference between the two games is that while neither the Washington Redskins nor the Minnesota Vikings (the combatants from the Thursday game) are close to a playoff spot, they provided an entertaining nail-biter that came down to a fourth-and-goal play, while the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (the teams from Monday) did just the opposite. The Buccaneers and Dolphins played a game full of mishaps, with the Dolphins failing to score in two out of the four quarters of the game.  Additionally, the Dolphins were only able to gain two rushing yards, and if that doesn’t tell you how boring the rest of the game was, I don’t know what will.

​One surprising occurrence that came out of Monday’s game was the emergence of a new wide receiver threat in Miami.  The hitherto unknown Rishard Matthews made a name for himself in front of a national audience, catching 11 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns.  Mike Wallace, Miami’s huge free-agent signing of this past summer, has only scored one touchdown all year, and has failed to make the impact that he was expected to.  Perhaps his lack of production has opened the door for Matthews to make an impact, though nothing is certain at this point.  I would tread carefully when it comes to considering Matthews for your fantasy team, as there are numerous examples of players that have one good week all year, then return to anonymity for the rest of the season.  I would suggest watching Matthews for another week before seriously looking to add him, in order to see if he keeps his elevated play consistent.

​For some unknown reason, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper has developed great chemistry with new quarterback Nick Foles.  I resisted talking about Cooper last week because I was convinced that his performance against the Raiders was a fluke (five receptions for 139 yards and three touchdowns).  However, Cooper’s recent play has forced me to reconsider my opinion of him.  It has come to my attention that Cooper hasn’t played all that well when the other Eagles quarterbacks (Michael Vick and Matt Barkley) are throwing him the ball.  The funny thing is, in the three weeks that Foles has been throwing passes to Cooper, the receiver has caught a combined 12 passes for 361 yards and six touchdowns.  I am not sure why these two have such great chemistry together, but I would definitely add Cooper to my team while Foles remains at the help of the Eagles offense, as they clearly work very well together.  In the worst-case scenario that Cooper fades back into obscurity, you can always drop him and add the next hot waiver pick of the week.

​Arian Foster, the star running back for the Houston Texans, has elected to have season-ending back surgery this week, opening the door for backup Ben Tate to get lots of playing time.  Tate has always been a popular fantasy handcuff to own, as Foster has a history of getting injured.  Now, seeing as Foster is done for the rest of the season, Tate becomes a must-add player.  While it is true that the Texans have underperformed when it comes to running the ball, Tate should get the starting reps for the team, which means that he should perform well if only as a result of the sheer number of chances that he will get to run the ball each game.  He is owned in 77.6 percent of ESPN leagues, so I recommend that you grab him while you can.

​A few weeks ago, I mentioned that Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin is recovering from hip surgery, and should play soon.  Harvin took much longer to recover than many predicted, but he says that he will play this Sunday against his former team, the Vikings.  It is ultimately up to his coach to decide if he is ready to play, and he should be rusty since this will be his first game back from injury, so I would keep an eye on him and see if he returns to the form he had with the Vikings the past few years.

​Finally, New York Giants running back Andre Brown made a major impact in his first game back from a fractured ankle suffered in the preseason.  The Giants, now on a three-game winning streak, have benefitted from the rebirth of their running game, which was absent for most of the season.  Brown looks likely to lead the way as the Giants’ starting running back going forward, after an impressive performance where he rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.  Giants quarterback Eli Manning hasn’t looked comfortable this season, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they run the ball frequently going forward, to Brown’s benefit.  He should be one of the hottest waiver wire claims this week, so put in a claim for him, but don’t be surprised if someone with a higher priority scoops him up before you can.

​I’ll see you next time as the season enters the homestretch.

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-- Senior | Assistant Sports -- English: Journalism

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