Oct 28, 2011
Amazingly, we are already more than halfway done the fantasy regular season in most leagues. Hopefully, you have reshuffled your personal depth charts if necessary and are adjusting expectations accordingly. Here are my thoughts on Week Eight…
Arizona Cardinals at Baltimore Ravens
Last week I said trusting Joe Flacco was a “risky proposition” yet still thought he’d do well because of what appeared to be a great matchup. The Jaguars came to play and Flacco was predictably terrible. He’s in a similar situation this week, but the Cardinals have absolutely nothing to hang your hat on when it comes to their defense. The Raven offense should be able to go nuts in this game, but that’s assuming Flacco hits Torrey Smith on the shots that should be available downfield, and we know that’s no guarantee. The one player I’m not worried about is Ray Rice, who didn’t see enough touches in a close game last week because OC Cam Cameron once again tried to make things too complicated instead of handing his best player the ball. You’ll notice I spent much of this game on the Raven side of the ball because the Cardinals do absolutely nothing for me. Larry Fitzgerald is all this team has with Kevin Kolb looking lost and Beanie Wells looking shaky because of his knee injury. There’s no need to get excited about Alfonso Smith if he starts because he’s not good enough to be productive against one of the better run defenses in the league.
Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
Lots of Christian Ponder love this week, which appeared to overshadow another great Adrian Peterson performance against a damn good Packer run defense. Ponder might be the future of this team, but when defenses have to worry about Peterson, it makes the rookie’s life easier. Neither one of these defense is very good, so we could see some points put up in this one. Peterson should have another big game, but it’s tough to expect much more out of the Vikes since their receiving corps is among the worst in the league, although they did a little addition by subtraction by getting rid of that joke, Bernard Berrian. The Panther offense typically relies on the passing game, and with Cam Newton coming off what I thought was the best game of his young career, he should continue his great play this week.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
The Jaguars seemed to be way too happy to be 2-5 after their win against the Ravens last week, even though their offense continued to look awful. Blaine Gabbert isn’t going to fare any better against the Texans since they can bring constant pressure and it’s apparent he’s not a fan of anyone getting in his vicinity when trying to throw the ball. Not having Andre Johnson once again shouldn’t be a big deal for the Texans since they’ve proven their defense and running game can carry them to victories over lesser teams, like the Titans last week and Jaguars in this matchup. Arian Foster once again proved why he is one of the most dangerous players in the league with his huge game last week, but he wasn’t alone. Ben Tate also ran for over 100 yards and while I don’t expect that to happen every game, it shows the Texans aren’t afraid to use both guys.
Miami Dolphins at New York Giants
Reggie Bush said the team stinks. His teammate, Yeremiah Bell said Bush stinks. Bush agreed. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2011 Miami Dolphins! Daniel Thomas feels like a lost cause on this team because they are in such a mess, but I’m not willing to give up on his rookie season just yet, although this will certainly be a tough week for him. The Giants went into the bye at 4-2 with Eli Manning quietly having a very nice season despite turnover in his receiving corps and OL coming into this season. I’ve said many times, I consider him one of the most consistent fantasy options on a weekly basis, but my expectations are probably a little higher this week going against a bad Dolphin defense that won’t have top CB Vontae Davis. RB Brandon Jacobs was complaining about his role once again this week, which is no surprise, but he doesn’t seem to understand that Ahmad Bradshaw is a much better player in all facets of the game and deserves to be on the field.
New Orleans Saints at St. Louis Rams
Will the Saints score 62 points again? Probably not, but this matchup certainly gives them the best chance to repeat their historic performance since the Ram defense, specifically their secondary, has been destroyed by injuries. To tell you how confident I am in the Saints and their ability to get the best players consistently involved, I made a trade to acquire both Darren Sproles and Marques Colston, and obviously that worked out well for me last week. Sproles, Colston, and Jimmy Graham have made Lance Moore almost useless for fantasy, which isn’t Moore’s fault, just the fact that there are only so many touches to go around. With Mark Ingram out, there seems to be way too much optimism over Chris Ivory, who has just a handful of meaningful fantasy performances and will be seeing the field for the first time since Week Seventeen of last season. He might get some touches in short-yardage and possibly goal-line situations, but with Ingram out, the guys I’d be happy to play this week is Pierre Thomas.
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans
Joseph Addai decided to make life difficult by practicing last Friday and playing in the game against the Saints with a hamstring injury only to leave early on after going down once again. He’s got a shot to play once again this week, but I want nothing to do with him. If you’re stuck, rolling with Delone Carter isn’t the worst option and the staff seems to be happy with what he’s done, specifically in pass protection, which should keep him on the field more than Donald Brown. There are no locks to start for fantasy on either team, although this appears to be the last chance for Chris Johnson. The Colts are one of the worst run defenses in the league, and the Titans have talked about running the ball more this week. If Johnson can’t get it done this week, it’s never going to happen. I waved the white flag on him already, but if you’re holding out hope, here is the matchup you’ve been waiting for.
Washington Redskins at Buffalo Bills
So how about that Redskin backfield? If you haven’t had it hammered into your brain by now, let me make it clear. No matter what news, rumors, or indications come out about who’s going to start, see the most touches, or what roles will be played, YOU CANNOT TRUST THE SHANAHANS. With Tim Hightower done for the season, Ryan Torain might look like the next logical option for the Redskins, but they also have Roy Helu, who actually played more snaps than any other back last week. They also have rookie Evan Royster on the practice squad and you always have to worry about Mike Shanahan running into Stephen Davis in town and giving him a look. The point is, be prepared for anything if you have to play a Redskin RB. In addition to losing Hightower, the Redskins also lost Santana Moss for the near future, which bumps Jabar Gaffney to the #1 spot, although I think the player this really helps is Fred Davis, who is now the only legit TE this team has with Chris Cooley on the IR. When it comes to the Bills, we know Fred Jackson is the guy, and you can rely on Stevie Johnson and Ryan Fitzpatrick, but that’s about it. By the way, nice to see a Harvard guy like Fitzpatrick signing a big contract extension in this rough economy.
Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos
With Willis McGahee out, it’s easy to think that Knowshon Moreno would be a hot pickup, but in four games this season he’s run just 17 times for 54 yards. We made this point before the season began when we suggested taking McGahee over Moreno, but I’ll make it again now. The staff doesn’t like Moreno. They want someone who can carry the load in their power rushing game, and that’s not the type of player Moreno is. However, that is the type of player Lance Ball is and he has the same amount of carries as Moreno coming into this week. He is by no means anything special, but he fits what the Broncos want to do better than Moreno. Tim Tebow will still probably get most of the rushes near the GL, so Ball’s value isn’t high. However, the point I’m trying to make is to not get excited about Moreno and think he’s going to inherit all of McGahee’s touches. Speaking of Tebow, he was terrible last week outside of about two minutes at that was against a bad Dolphin defense. How can we expect him to do well against a good Lion defense? He might be a low-end starter this week, but be sure to manage your expectations. It looks like Matthew Stafford will play, but let’s hope the Lions can get off to a quick start for once and take care of business early, as they should, so Stafford doesn’t have to play the whole game with that bad ankle.
New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers
This is not the year for the Steeler defense to be beatable, especially since Tom Brady has owned them when they’ve been playing better and will probably continue to torch them in this game. The Steeler LB corps has had to shuffle some players around due to injuries and that’s weakened the group as a whole. If the Steelers decided to use extra DBs, it could open things up for BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who at worst should have some chances to score in this one. I’d be fine using any of the weekly fantasy options for the Patriots, as I expect points to be scored in this one. New England’s secondary continues to struggle, yet they had no problem releasing CB Leigh Bodden. That’s good news for the Steeler passing game, which has had to carry the offense due to their struggles on the ground. I’d expect that to continue this week, and continue to feel good about Antonio Brown in addition to Mike Wallace, even if it’s Emmanuel Sanders getting the start for the banged up Hines Ward. Outside of Wallace, Brown has clicked the best with Ben Roethlisberger, so I expect targets to continue coming his way.
Cincinnati Bengals at Seattle Seahawks
We’re looking at one of the worst fantasy matchups of the week and that means not of lot of starting options. Obviously, A.J. Green is a weekly start and I’m okay with using Andy Dalton if you’re stuck against a Seahawk pass defense that has suffered some big injuries in their secondary. However, Seattle defends the run as well as any team, so I wouldn’t be jumping to get Bernard Scott in my lineup, even if he’s going to be the main ball carrier with Cedric Benson serving his one-game suspension. The Seahawk offense is awful with Charlie Whitehurst at QB, and it looks like he’ll have to start once again for the injured Tarvaris Jackson. This matchup isn’t a good one anyway, so try to avoid using any of their player. Actually, you’re probably better off not even watching this game.
Cleveland Browns at San Francisco 49ers
Could the 49ers really be heading to 6-1? The Browns shouldn’t give them any trouble. Montario Hardesty might be in line for another start since Peyton Hillis can’t seem to get healthy, but he didn’t look particularly good last week and faces a great 49er run defense this week. I continue to be cautious with Greg Little because we know he has talent, but it doesn’t mean it will always shine through in this developing offense, especially since Colt McCoy isn’t playing well and is limited as a passer to begin with. The Niner offense should continue to lean on Frank Gore and the rushing attack, but I continue to see good things from Michael Crabtree, who looks like he’s settled into a spot as a #3 fantasy WR.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
As I’ve said many times this week, I understand wanting to ride the hot hand with DeMarco Murray since he’s facing an Eagle defense that’s struggled to stop the run this year, but if you decided to sell high, I think it’s the right move. He’s not a special player and his value was never going to be higher than it was after his historic performance last week. Both teams should be throwing a lot in this one, and I expect points to be scored, but the defenses are actually what intrigue me the most. Will the Eagles finally let Nnamdi Asomugha be the shutdown corner we know he can be instead of having him play many different roles all game? They’ll have their hands full with Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, and because both players are so talented, I could see Asomugha seeing time on both. However, that still leaves Jason Witten, and the Eagles have struggled with good TEs all season, so I’d expect a big game out of him, especially since he owned them last season. Dallas’ defense has shown great improvement and DC Rob Ryan is getting the most out of his talent in the front seven, but they still have some issues in the secondary that are being masked by the pass rush getting pressure. If Michael Vick is able to take some shots down the field, he will make a big play or two to Jeremy Maclin and/or DeSean Jackson.
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
All eyes will be on Philip Rivers after he assured everyone that his struggles have not been due to injury since he says he’s healthy. If he isn’t hurt, then he should be able to take advantage of this great matchup, which is something he didn’t do when these teams met back in Week Three. The Chargers won that game because Ryan Mathews carried them, but the passing game was out of whack. It looks like Rivers will have his full complement of receivers with Malcolm Floyd returning to practice on Friday, so there shouldn’t be any excuses if the struggles continue. Mike Tolbert is still banged up, but after downplaying his injuries earlier in the week, I’d expect him to be out there, although this should be another big game for Mathews. Riding a Dwayne Bowe hot streak is fun, and he’s in the middle of one right now. The Chargers don’t pose much of a threat in their secondary, so it should continue, yet in the back of my mind, I’m always worried about trusting Matt Cassel. Luckily, the Chargers don’t have much of a pass rush, so Cassel should be good enough to get Bowe the ball. The RB situation saw two wrenches thrown into it last week when Le’Ron McClain saw looks at the GL and scored and CB Javier Arenas scored in the team’s version of the Wildcat. Sorry to all you Jackie Battle owners out there who got the volume, but not those important touches in scoring opportunities.
Please feel free to leave any lineup questions you may have for this week here or Tweet me (@TheMattCamp), and I’ll be sure to answer them before gametime on Sunday. Good luck and thanks for reading.