Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em – Week 8
Bye Week Teams
Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans
Peyton Manning (vs. NO - Sunday Night) – Wait a second here. Is Peyton Manning actually BETTER than he was before the neck surgery? It’s sure starting to look like it as he’s now put up four straight 300-yard games with three TD passes in each of the last three. The last time he had a streak like this was back in 2004 when he set the world on fire with 49 TDs. Coincidentally, 2004 was also the only other time he averaged this many fantasy points per game as he currently ranks fifth in the league with 19.9 a contest. I expect his average to go UP this week with the Broncos taking on a Saints defense that allows 22 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs—most in the NFL.
Andrew Luck (@ Ten) – Andrew Luck hasn’t thrown a TD pass in two weeks now, but being the awesome athlete that he is, Luck was still able to put up top-10 fantasy points last week rushing in the Colts only two TDs on the day. The first few weeks of the season are always a huge rush for rookies, but now that he’s settled into the league a bit, the mistakes are starting to show. Luckily for Luck and thank goodness for fantasy owners, the Colts take on the lowly Tennessee Titans defense this Sunday. The Titans have allowed the most passing TDs, the fourth-most passing yards, the highest QB rating and the third-most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season. They also only have five interceptions on the year, so Luck’s rookie miscues should be kept to a minimum. The LEAST amount of QB fantasy points they’ve allowed to a team so far this year is 15.9, which is normally right around the edge of QB1 status. Andrew should do better than that.
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. Was) – Whether Rashard Mendenhall or Isaac Redman come back to play or not doesn’t really matter as they’ll both be at less than 100 percent even if they do. Jonathan Dwyer looked good last week, but do the Steelers really trust him to carry the load? Either way, the Redskins rush D is FAR better than what they trot out there against the pass, so I expect Roethlisberger to continue with his weekly aerial assault and come close to 40 passing attempts yet again. In seven games this season, the Redskins have allowed SIX 300-yard passers; and do you know what the seventh guy did? It was Josh Freeman, and he threw for 299 yards. Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Heath Miller and even Emmanuel Sanders should all have their way out there, which can only mean big numbers for Big Ben this Sunday.
Philip Rivers (@ Cle) – The last game Philip Rivers played (the Monday night collapse against the Broncos) was probably one of the more forgettable ones of his career, yet Rivers has had to think about it for two weeks now with the Chargers being on a bye this past weekend. On the bright side, Rivers has thrown for multiple touchdowns in four of his last five games and actually has the highest completion percentage of his career right now (66.5%). On an even brighter side, his opponent this week, the Cleveland Browns, have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to QBs this season with no quarterback scoring less than 15.9 in a game. With Ryan Mathews back in full force and demanding attention, Rivers should be able to pick apart the Browns secondary for some pretty nice numbers this weekend.
Others with QB1 Potential:
Michael Vick (vs. Atl)
Carson Palmer (@ KC)
Matt Hasselbeck (vs. Ind)
Brandon Weeden (vs. SD)
Sam Bradford (vs. NE)
Alex Smith (@ Ari - Monday Night)
Matt Forte (vs. Car) – I can almost see the question mark hovering over your head as you digest Matt Forte being my top-ranked running back for the week. Please, allow me to explain. First of all, the Carolina Panthers rush D has been one of the worst in the league for a few years running now. Since 2009, they’ve allowed no better than the ninth-most fantasy points per game to RBs with that being precisely where they sit right now in 2012. Second, the Panthers just lost their middle linebacker (Jon Beason) for the season so they’ll likely be in a bit of disarray in Week 8. Third, and probably the most important factor; Matt Forte OWNS the Carolina Panthers. Last year in Week 4, Forte rattled off 205 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries while in Week 5 of 2010, he put up 166 yards and two TDs on just 22 carries. Every season is different, I know, but the mind somehow forgets those things come game-time, so with the Bears likely to deploy another rushing onslaught this week, I fully expect Forte to come through with some monster numbers.
Willis McGahee (vs. NO - Sunday Night) – McGahee has done very well this year putting up solid fantasy RB2 stats while transforming his game into a Peyton Manning-led offensive system. Some games have been better than others, but I expect this to be one of his best going up against a New Orleans Saints defense that has allowed RBs to run for 4.87 yards per carry and put up the second-most fantasy points per game in the league. I’d be shocked if 70 points weren’t scored in this game, which means there are five TDs on each side to be had. McGahee WILL get at least one of them and maybe even 130 total yards to boot.
Ryan Mathews (@ Cle) – More more more more more. That is the word San Diego should be in love with this week when it comes to Ryan Mathews. Use him more. Run him more. Pass to him out of the backfield on little screens and dump-offs more more more. The guy is simply the most athletic player on the team and needs to have the ball in his hands to make things happen. With the Chargers getting embarrassed on Monday night right before its bye week, you can bet they went back to the drawing board to see what works and I’ll guarantee you this; they saw that Ryan Mathews works. Against a Browns rush D that allows 4.84 yards per carry, it’s pretty much a no-brainer that Mathews will be getting the ball. If he doesn’t, their whole coaching staff should be fired within 10 minutes of the final whistle.
Chris Johnson (vs. Ind) – Chris Johnson’s monster 195-yard output against the worst rushing defense in the league last week has him leading the NFL in rushing from Week 4 through Week 7. However, it cannot be overlooked that he STILL ranks 24th in the league in fantasy points per game. That’s how BAD he has been in four of his seven games this year and though he’s been awesome three of the last four weeks, I still have my reservations. This week, however, I can’t help but put him in the top-10 as he’s facing an Indianapolis Colts defense that allows 4.95 yards per carry and the fifth-most fantasy points per game to RBs this year. I know it’s scary to press “submit” when you see CJ2K in your lineup, but this is one of those weeks you kind of have to get him in there.
Alfred Morris (@ Pit) – Alfred Morris has the third-most rushing attempts in the NFL… and he’s in a Shanahan offense!!! Has the world gone bat$#!+ crazy?!?! Actually, if you’ve seen this kid in action, you’d understand. Besides the fact that he can supposedly squat almost 650 pounds, his motor is non-stop as he continues to run through the whistle better than anyone I’ve seen since Purple Jesus broke into the league in 2007. Whatever the case, defenses are focused in on Robert Griffin now so Morris will always have a chance to put up nice fantasy numbers. He’s actually fourth in the league right now in fantasy points per game and is running the ball at 4.8 yards per clip. Pittsburgh’s rush D isn’t what it used to be, either, so I’m expecting another RB1 day from the rookie monster this weekend.
Others with RB1 Potential:
Darren McFadden (@ KC)
Darren Sproles (@ Den - Sunday Night)
Stevan Ridley (@ StL)
Jonathan Dwyer (vs. Was)
Rashad Jennings (@ GB)
Felix Jones (vs. NYG)
Alex Green (vs. Jax)
Pierre Thomas (@ Den - Sunday Night)
Donald Brown (@ Ten)
Demaryius Thomas (vs. NO - Sunday Night) – Break out the balloons, kazoos and party shoes, fantasy folk; ‘cause there’s gonna be some dancin’ in Denver this Sunday night! Endzone dancing, that is. Demaryius Thomas currently has three touchdowns on the season, but I expect that number to rise against a Saints defense that couldn’t keep a Lingerie Football League team from scoring on them. Not only does the New Orleans defense allow the second-most fantasy points per game to WRs, but they also seem to have particular trouble with bigger/taller receivers like Jordy Nelson, Malcom Floyd and just last week, Vincent Jackson. With that being the case, I have no doubt Demaryius’ size and speed will be able to get him at least 125 yards and a touchdown or two.
Mike Wallace (vs. Was) – Though he’s been a bit up and down in terms of yardage and catches this season, Wallace actually has a touchdown in four of the Steelers six games thus far and should be able to make it a fifth this Sunday. The Washington Redskins have pretty much given up the farm to wide receivers this year allowing at least one WR to put up double-digit fantasy points against them in each of their seven games. They’ve actually allowed TWO WRs to do it in four games as well, so if you’re scared that Antonio Brown will be the one stealing all the fantasy points here, don’t be. Wallace should have no problem giving his fantasy owners some top-flight numbers this week.
Marques Colston (@ Den - Sunday Night) – After a slow start to the season, Marques Colston has now averaged 8.3 receptions, 119 yards and 1.7 TDs over the last three weeks. Having the best fantasy QB on the planet (no offense Mr. Rodgers) certainly doesn’t hurt, but I’ve learned that after doubting Colston for the past couple of years, he’s actually become a much better receiver than I originally thought he would. His size and presence demands targets, of which he’s getting plenty, seeing 10 per game through the first seven weeks of the season. This week he’ll be facing off against the Denver Broncos in what should turn into a major shootout between Brees and Manning—as you might expect. Colston should have no problem whatsoever reeling in WR1 fantasy numbers this Sunday night.
Hakeem Nicks (@ Dal) – So Nicks finally got in a full week of practice after being hampered pretty much all season long. According to Eli Manning, Nicks is showing “a different burst” than he has all season and when it comes to knowing whether a wide receiver is playing well or not, his quarterback is the one I trust the most. Dallas has had a lockdown secondary this season with CBs Brandon Carr and rookie Morris Claiborne out there, but with MLB Sean Lee just put on IR, I can easily see their defense being in a bit of disarray this week. Victor Cruz will demand a ton of attention with the way he’s been playing, so I expect Nicks to sneak under the radar a bit this Sunday and put up some of his best numbers of the year.
Randall Cobb (vs. Jax) – Get ready for the onslaught, folks, because it’s coming whether you like it or not. We were singing his praises all offseason and had him ranked up in the top-25 WRs right as the season started—and now it seems our pre-season intuition will be coming to fruition. Randall Cobb has been putting on a clinic out there the last few weeks and just might be the most versatile player in the league other than Percy Harvin. With Greg Jennings unlikely to be back for at least a month and now Jordy Nelson a bit gimpy with a bum hamstring, Cobb will see even more action than he has been, which is quite a bit considering he’s in the top-five in fantasy points over the last three weeks. The Jaguars defense, though not terrible, won’t be able to contain this kid in Green Bay on Sunday.
Others with WR1 Potential:
Antonio Brown (vs. Was)
Jeremy Maclin (vs. Atl)
Dez Bryant (vs. NYG)
Lance Moore (@ Den - Sunday Night)
Kenny Britt (vs. Ind)
Jeremy Kerley (vs. Mia)
Nate Washington (vs. Ind)
Josh Gordon (vs. SD)
Sidney Rice (@ Det)
Titus Young (vs. Sea)
Brandon Stokley (vs. NO - Sunday Night)
Mario Manningham (@ Ari - Monday Night)
Robert Meachem (@ Cle)
Heath Miller (vs. Was) – Big Ben Roethlisberger continues to dote on tight end Heath Miller, with his most recent editorial stating that Miller is the “best all-around tight end in the league… no doubt about it.” To those of us who live in a fantasy world, it doesn’t really matter whether he’s right or wrong. What matters is that Roethlisberger continues to target him like a top-tier tight end, particularly in the red-zone where Miller is at his best scoring five TDs in the Steelers six games this season. Heath currently ranks third in fantasy points per game and I have no doubt he’ll stay at LEAST that high after playing a Redskins defense that allows the second-most fantasy points to tight ends this weekend.
Brent Celek (vs. Atl) – Celek isn’t having quite the year I thought he would, but he STILL ranks seventh in the league in fantasy points per game for tight ends. He’s getting the targets as well coming in at over seven per game, so you know the Eagles and Michael Vick know his worth to this offense. Still, a few more TDs and big-yardage games would be nice. This week he’ll take on a Falcons team that has allowed at least five receptions to a tight end in each of their last three games, with none of them being quite of Celek’s caliber (Greg Olsen, Fred Davis and Brandon Myers). The Eagles need a win in a big way here, so you can bet they’ll go to the players they know they can trust in this one. Brent is one of those guys and coincidentally, he also happens to be a much better fantasy player at home so if you’re an owner who’s been down on Celek lately, know that this is the week he turns it around for you.
Antonio Gates (@ Cle) – Gates is being targeted enough at this point to have made more of a fantasy dent than he has. With his talent, seven passes thrown your way each game should equate to a top-5 fantasy status—which he isn’t at right now coming in with the ninth-most fantasy points per game this week. However, after a nice bye week to rejuvenate his bones, I believe we’ll see a different player from here on out. His last game against Denver was clearly his best of the year catching six passes for 81 yards and two TDs but more importantly, he looked REAL good doing it. Cleveland is normally real good against tight ends, but if both Brent Celek and Jermaine Gresham can do well against them (as they did earlier in the season), then I like Antonio to go a bit off in this one.
Coby Fleener (@ Ten) – Fleener was predicted to be one of Andrew Luck’s favorite targets this season after being drafted out of the same school (Stanford) as him during the offseason, but he hasn’t quite lived up to expectations just yet. If there is one game on the schedule where he can finally fulfill the prophecy, this is it. The Titans have allowed not only the most fantasy points per game to tight ends this season, but also the most REAL points as well giving up almost a full five touchdowns per week (34 points/game). There’s not a lot to go on here besides the statistics in front of you, but the numbers sure do say a lot. His first touchdown of the year could be forthcoming.
Others with TE1 Potential:
Greg Olsen (@ Chi)
Jason Witten (vs. NYG)
Martellus Bennett (@ Dal)
Dustin Keller (vs. Mia)
Joel Dreessen (vs. NO - Sunday Night)
Dwayne Allen (@ Ten)
Anthony Fasano (@ NYJ)
Lance Kendricks (vs. NE)
Jay Cutler (vs. Car)
Matthew Stafford (vs. Sea)
Cam Newton (@ Chi)
BYE WEEK QBs
Baltimore – Joe Flacco
Buffalo – Ryan Fitzpatrick
Cincinnati – Andy Dalton
Houston – Matt Schaub
Mikel Leshoure (vs. Sea)
Steven Jackson (vs. NE)
Jonathan Stewart (@ Chi)
Shonn Greene (vs. Mia)
LaRod Stephens-Howling (vs. SF - Monday Night)
Isaac Redman (vs. Was) –QUESTIONABLE – Ankle
Brandon Bolden (@ StL) – OUT – Knee
BYE WEEK RBs
Brandon Lloyd (@ StL)
Denarius Moore (@ KC)
Dwayne Bowe (vs. Oak)
Michael Crabtree (@ Ari - Monday Night)
Malcom Floyd (@ Cle)
Brian Hartline (@ NYJ)
Alshon Jeffery (vs. Det - Monday Night) – OUT – Hand
Mohamed Massaquoi (vs. SD) – QUESTIONABLE - Hamstring
Harry Douglas (@ Phi) – OUT – Ankle, knee
Joseph Morgan (@ Den - Sunday Night) – OUT – Chest
BYE WEEK WRs
Aaron Hernandez (@ StL)
Jared Cook (vs. Ind)
Brandon Myers (@ KC)
BYE WEEK TEs
Buffalo – Scott Chandler
Cincinnati – Jermaine Gresham
Houston – Owen Daniels / Garrett Graham
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