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Fantasy Game Recaps: Week 8
The Only Constant In Fantasy Football Is That There Are No Constants

Two weeks ago I wrote about the return of the proven quarterbacks. Last week I wrote about the replacement running backs. This week, it was all about the wide receivers. Household names and not so well known names blazed the gridiron this week with a baker’s dozen of wide receivers gaining 100 or more yards, two touchdowns, or both. Conversely, only four running backs eclipsed the 100 yard mark. Roddy White and Steve Smith led the day with over 100 yards and two touchdowns each. Young receivers Ted Ginn, Jr. and Donnie Avery were the days ground gainers for wide receivers with 175 and 163 yards respectively. And Avery was also among the 100 yard performers who scored, which included Santana Moss (140) and Matt Jones (117).

Eagles 27 - Falcons 14

Fantasy Superman: Brian Westbrook, Roddy White
Fantasy Performers: Donovan McNabb, Matt Ryan
Fantasy Hens: Michael Turner

After a down month, Brian Westbrook returned with a roar, rushing for 167 yards, two touchdowns and catching six balls for 42 yards. Reaping a slight benefit of Westbrook’s return was Donovan McNabb, who connected on 19 passes for 253 yards. Although he did not throw any touchdown passes, McNabb rushed for 25 yards and a touchdown, but fumbled away one. The Eagles may be a better team with all of its receiving corps healthy, but fantasy owners are rapidly recognizing that the Eagle spread the ball offense is back. Other than Westbrook’s six catches, no wide receiver/tight end caught more than three passes, with DeSean Jackson leading the way with 72 yards and the returning Kevin Curtis with three catches of 45 yards.

The Atlanta offense was led by the Matt Ryan to Roddy White show. Ryan threw for 277 yards, two touchdowns and an equal number of picks. Roddy White scored both touchdowns for the Falcons, on eight catches for 113 yards. Michael Turner carried the ball 17 times, but could only muster 58 yards and no scores.

Jets 28 - Chiefs 26

Fantasy Superman: Leon Washington
Fantasy Performers: Brett Favre, Thomas Jones, Jerricho Cotchery, Laveranues Coles, Tyler Thigpen, Dwayne Bowe, Tony Gonzalez, Mark Bradley
Fantasy Hens: Chiefs Running Backs

Nearly every player in this game put up respectable fantasy numbers. On the Jets side of the field, even though Brett Favre threw three interceptions, the Chiefs defense could not contain the gunslinger who threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns. One of those touchdowns went to Leon Washington, who only touched the ball on offense six times, but put up 101 combined rushing-receiving yards and two touchdowns. Thomas Jones had a setback after two strong weeks, but nevertheless went double-digit in fantasy leagues with 54 yards and a touchdown. Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles put up similar numbers (in different fashion), Cotchery catching nine for 102 yards and Coles catching seven for 64 yards and one touchdown.

Despite having no running game again, the Chiefs passing game fared well, with even a third receiver getting into the mix. Dwayne Bowe finally broke the 100-yard barrier with six catches for 102. Tony Gonzalez’ 19-yard touchdown capped off a six catch 79-yard performance. From the where are they now files, Mark Bradley reminded us he is still in the NFL, catching five balls for 42 yards and a touchdown.

Saints 37 - Chargers 32

Fantasy Superman: Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates
Fantasy Performers: Deuce McAllister, Lance Moore, Vincent Jackson
Fantasy Hens: Marques Colston, Chris Chambers

Drew Brees led the attack for the Saints with a flawless performance. He connected on 30 of 41, for 338 and three touchdowns, without turning the ball over. Deuce McAllister led the running game with only 55 yards, but ran for a touchdown and caught four balls for 30 yards. The return of Marques Colston has not hurt Lance Moore or Devery Henderson, who each had a touchdown, Moore on six catches for 90 yards and Henderson on three catches for 34 yards. Colston owners are only finding silver lining in the fact that Marques finally had two catches for 56 yards.

The Saints may have won the game, but the Chargers’ fantasy players pretty much outperformed the Saints’ fantasy players. LaDanian Tomlinson finally paid dividends to patient fantasy managers, rushing for 105 yards, catching five for 60 yards and scoring one touchdown. Philip Rivers’ numbers were nearly identical to Drew Brees’, throwing for 343 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Antonio Gates also had a big day catching six for 96 yards and one touchdown. Vincent Jackson went four for 600 yards and a touchdown, but it was the one that got away that has VJ owners once again frustrated as he dropped an over the shoulder catch which would have undoubtedly gone for a long bomb touchdown. Chris Chambers returned with limited numbers of five catches for 47 yards.

Patriots 23 - Rams 16

Fantasy Superman: Kevin Faulk, Donnie Avery
Fantasy Performers: Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Marc Bulger, Antonio Pittman
Fantasy Hens: Torry Holt, BenJarvus Green-Ellis

Matt Cassell and Randy Moss are becoming more and more comfortable with each other and it showed in Moss’s third strong performance in four games. Moss caught seven for 102 yards. Wes Welker’s consistency is great for ppr leagues catching his average of seven receptions for 79 yards. But the top performance for the Patriots was delivered by Kevin Faulk who rushed for 60 yards, caught four for 47 yards and scored one touchdown. Teams that swept up BenJarvus Green-Ellis after a strong second half performance against Denver Monday night were saved by his 2-yard touchdown run, as he put up only 16 yards on nine carries.

Donnie Avery is rapidly turning into a must have wide receiver after breaking off a lengthy touchdown of 69 yards. Avery’s numbers have been on the rise every week and he ended this week with six catches for 163 yards and a touchdown. Marc Bulger tossed for 301 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Antonio Pittman filled in nicely in the absence of Steven Jackson, running for 83 yards, without a score. Torry Holt’s 28 yards once again lands him on the Hens list.

Dolphins 25 - Bills 16

Fantasy Superman: Ted Ginn, Jr.
Fantasy Performers: Chad Pennington, Ricky Williams, Marshawn Lynch, Lee Evans
Fantasy Hens: Ronnie Brown, Greg Camarillo, Trent Edwards

Some decent fantasy points were delivered by the Dolphins’, however, the question is did any of these points find there way on to active rosters this weekend. The Dolphins two best fantasy performers, Ronnie Brown and Greg Camarillo were held silent, with Brown rushing for 43 yards and Camarillo having only 35 yards receiving. The Dolphins’ first round investment in Ted Ginn, Jr. finally paid off this week with a seven catch, 175-yard performance. Ginn helped out Chad Pennington who ended the day with 314 yards and one touchdown. Ricky Williams filled in for depleted fantasy rosters with two catches for 43 yards, 16 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Marshawn Lynch put up decent numbers with 63 rushing yards, 34 receiving yards and one touchdown. Lee Evans also had a nice day with seven catches for 116 yards. Trent Edwards did not have a very good fantasy performance, turning over the ball twice, without a score and 227 yards passing.

Redskins 25 - Lions 17

Fantasy Superman: Santana Moss
Fantasy Performers: Clinton Portis, Jason Campbell, Chris Cooley, Calvin Johnson
Fantasy Hens: Kevin Smith

Santana Moss had his third grand performance of the season, hauling in nine receptions for 140 yards, one touchdown and in return yardage leagues, an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown. Clinton Portis is keeping on pace for over 2000 yards with a 125 yard rushing performance. Santana Moss did not hog up all the passing yards as Jason Campbell threw for 328 yards and a touchdown. Chris Cooley was the second beneficiary of the passing game with six catches for 74 yards.

With the departure of Roy Williams, few fantasy teams are hoping for much out of the Lions’ offense. Calvin Johnson may be good for a touchdown every week, but his receptions are inconsistent. This week Megatron got his touchdown on only four catches of 57 yards. The Lions run game is non-existent. Between four players, the ball was ran only 15 times for 57 yards. The largest number came from Rudi Johnson, who ran for 21 yards and a touchdown. Shaun MacDonald emerged as the receiver of the week with five catches for 68 yards.

Cowboys 13 - Buccaneers 9

Fantasy Superman: None
Fantasy Performers: Marion Barber
Fantasy Hens: Everyone Else

Marion Barber barely made out of the Hens category as he ran for 71 yards and caught six balls for 29 yards, giving him combined yardage of 100. But, When kickers are the top fantasy performer in a game, there is simply little to discuss. The Cowboys may have won the game, but Jason Witten’s eight yards, Terrell Owens’ 33 yards and Roy Williams’ two-yard touchdown catch giving him two catches for 10 yards, did not help fantasy managers at all. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers’ top performer was Antonio Bryant with 45 yards on six catches. Earnest Graham’s 42 yards and Warrick Dunn’s no rushing yards makes Cadillac Williams look like the running back to have on the Tampa Bay roster. Jeff Garcia’s 227 yards passing without a touchdown is not what was expected against a depleted Cowboy secondary.

This game was every bit the fantasy yawner of the year.

Panthers 27 - Cardinals 23

Fantasy Superman: Steve Smith, DeAngelo Williams, Anquan Boldin, Kurt Warner
Fantasy Performers: Larry Fitzgerald, Jake Delhomme, Steve Breaston
Fantasy Hens: Jonathan Stewart, Muhsin Muhammad, Edgerrin James, Tim Hightower

Steve Smith has been atop the wide receiver charts for five straight weeks and in typical Steve Smith fashion, found a way to turn a short gain into a 65-yard touchdown on Sunday. For the third consecutive week, Smith topped 100 yards with a 117 yard, two touchdown day. DeAngelo Williams’ lack of consistency may be driving managers crazy and only Kenny Rogers may “know when to start ‘em, know when to sit ‘em.” The question is whether Williams’ combined 123 yards and touchdown were on the bench or activated. Jonathan Stewart on the other hand should remain a bench performer given his limited upside and his 10-yard day. Muhsin Muhammad seems to be suffering from a magnetic repulsion to Steve Smith and for the third week in a row, put up weak numbers catching five for 38 yards.

The Cardinal aerial assault fired on all pistons, while the running game was virtually non-existent. The return of Anquan Boldin was big for Boldin owners and did not harm teams with Larry Fitzgerald or Steve Breaston. Boldin scored another two touchdowns on nine catches, 63 yards receiving and 30 yards rushing. And there were quite a number of receptions to be doled out as Steve Breaston caught nine for 91 and Larry Fitzgerald caught 7 for 115 yards. Even Jerheme Urban got into the action with four catches for 51 yards. Boldin led the rushing attack, gaining more yards than the entire backfield. Kurt Warner ended the day with 381 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Edgerrin James’ 17 yards and fumble gave James a goose egg in most formats. Tim Hightower failed to amass any rushing yardage points, but at least he crossed the goal line once and may have gained a point or two on his 18 receiving yards and two catches.

Ravens 29 - Raiders 10

Fantasy Superman: Joe Flacco
Fantasy Performers: Willis McGahee, Demetrius Williams, Ray Rice
Fantasy Hens: Justin Fargas

When managers think super-athlete, Joe Flacco is not the first name that comes to mind. In fact he is probably not even in the first 200 names. On Sunday, people may be thinking differently. Flacco may have only thrown for 140 yards and a touchdown, but he also ran the ball four times for 23 yards and a touchdown and he was the second leading receiver with a 43-yard reception. Willis McGahee could only average 2.5 yards per carry, but on 23 carries that was enough for 58 yards and a touchdown. Ray Rice had 101 combined yards, 64 rushing and 37 receiving. ON one catch, Demetrius Williams went for 70 yards and a touchdown.

Its difficult to believe that too many fantasy managers were expecting points from Raiders players against the Ravens in Baltimore. About the only player on the Raiders worth considering as a start were Justin Fargas and Zach Miller. Jamarcus Russell did not have a horrible day, going 15 of 33 for 228 yards, 13 yards rushing, one touchdown and an interception. But Justin Fargas did with only 24 yards on the ground. Zach Miller had two catches for 56 yards and was outperformed by this week’s Raiders’ one catch wonder Chaz Schilens whose 60-yard reception gave him three for 76 yards on the day.

Texans 35 - Bengals 6

Fantasy Superman: Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Kevin Walters
Fantasy Performers: Steve Slaton, T.J. Houshmandzadeh (ppr)
Fantasy Hens: Cedric Benson, Chad Johnson, Owen Daniels

Andre Johnson has been just plain ridiculous over the last month, averaging just over ten catches and 148 yards per game. Sunday was no different and while he did not cross the plane of the end zone, he had 11 catches for 143 yards. But only in points per reception leagues did he outperform his teammate Kevin Walters who had 70 yards on five catches and entered the end zone not once, but twice. The only fantasy receiver on the Texans not to perform was tight end Owen Daniels who caught three for 21 yards. Matt Schaub put up another fine performance with 280 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers. Steve Slaton owners may need to be a little concerned by the number of touches Ahman Green is getting, but Slaton had another decent outing with 53 yards rushing, 13 yards receiving and a touchdown.

If Carson decides to get Tommy John surgery, not getting off of Bengals players will be the death of many fantasy teams. The run game is non-existent and Cedric Benson’s 49 yards is not the answer. Ryan Fitzpatrick nearly outran Benson with 42 yards of his own, but his 155 passing yards and three turnovers diminished any fantasy value he may have had. T.J. Houshmandzadeh reeled in eight catches, but he only gained 54 yards to lead the offense. Chad Johnson only netted 44 yards.

Browns 23 - Jaguars 17

Fantasy Superman: David Garrard, Matt Jones
Fantasy Performers: Derek Anderson, Jamal Lewis, Reggie Williams
Fantasy Hens: Braylon Edwards, Maurice Jones-Drew, Fred Taylor

Either there is no correlation between fantasy performers or a good passing game will not mask the weaknesses of a bad running game. Cleveland did not put up any stellar fantasy performances, but Jamal Lewis’ 81 yards and a touchdown, were enough to beat the Jaguars. Derek Anderson had another decent week with 246 yards passing and one touchdown. The leading receiver was Kellen Winslow’s replacement Steve Heiden with 73 yards on three catches. Braylon Edwards’ two catches for 64 yards would not be bad for a fill-in receiver, but given his draft position, managers should be expecting from Edwards numbers put up by a ton of other receivers on Sunday.

David Garrard had a great fantasy day as did Matt Jones. Even Reggie Williams had a decent day. Garrard threw for 283 yards, two touchdowns and ran for 59 yards. Matt Jones had eight catches for 117 yards and “sniffed” his way across the end zone for a touchdown. Reggie Williams also scored on three catches for 52 yards. But, the Jaguar run game was held in complete check with Maurice Jones-Drew gaining only 43 combined yards and Fred Taylor rushed for 24 yards.

Seahawks 34 - 49ers 13

Fantasy Superman: Leonard Weaver
Fantasy Performers: Seneca Wallace, Frank Gore
Fantasy Hens: Maurice Morris, Julius Jones, Bobby Engram, John Carlson, J.T. O’Sullivan

A relative fantasy yawner as well. The Seahawks may have scored 34 points, but no fantasy players did well. Teams forced to run out Maurice Morris or Julius Jones saw the Seahawks only gain 39 yards between five backs in the run game, Maurice Morris leading with 16 yards. All the points came from fullback Leonard Weaver who had two touchdowns on four receptions of 116 yards. Of course, Weaver’s non-fantasy performance helped Seneca Wallace who threw for 222 yards and the two Weaver touchdowns (I’m guessing that only in the most limited format where fullbacks are mandated - never seen this before - Weaver was on zero active rosters). The only other Seahawk fantasy players, Bobby Engram and John Carlson, were equally quiet with Engram catching here for forty yards and Carlson one for 13 yards.

Only Frank Gore has a decent fantasy day, rushing for 94 yards and leading the receivers with seven catches for 65 yards. However, the 49ers passing game was flat and J.T. O’Sullivan got yanked after turning the ball over two times on 131 yards passing. Shaun Hill had a decent second half with 173 yards passing and a touchdown and 20 rushing yards, but obviously was not on any active rosters. Isaac Bruce had only 49 yards on five receptions and new starter Josh Morgan had no catches. Jason Hill turned out to be Shaun Hill’s favorite target with three catches for 38 yards and a touchdown.

Giants 21 - Steelers 14

Fantasy Superman: None
Fantasy Performers: Mewelde Moore, Nate Washington
Fantasy Hens: Plaxico Burress, Brandon Jacobs, Steve Smith, Amani Toomer, Domenik Hixon, Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward

The Giants once again decided to bench Plaxico Burress, for at least part of the game. The only problem for many fantasy owners is that the news released early Sunday morning was that Plaxico would “not start,” thus making it difficult to sit him, if you even heard the news. Those who did not bench him saw him catch only three for 15 yards. Those who heard the news though they might get fat on late pick-ups Steve Smith, Amani Toomer and Domenik Hixon. None of the receivers amounted to much. Steve Smith caught three for 45, Amani Toomer had two for 39 yards and Domenik Hixon only hauled in one catch for 17 yards. Not totally unexpected, Brandon Jacobs also had a tough day against a tough Steeler run defense and carried the ball 18 times for only 47 yards. The only decent days were turned in by Derrick Ward who ran for 37 yards and caught five balls for 43 yards and Eli Manning who threw for 199 yards and one touchdown.

The Steelers got some good fantasy performances from their replacement players Mewelde Moore and Nate Washington. Washington had only one catch, but it was for 65 yards and a touchdown, rewarding savvy managers who picked him up to replace Santonio Holmes. Moore had another strong performance rushing for 84 yards and a touchdown and catching the ball twice for 10 yards. The air went out of Ben Roethlisberger and Hines Ward as the tough Giant pass rush had Roethlisberger throw four picks to his one touchdown. Roethlisberger came up short on numerous throws to Ward, who only had three catches for 30 yards.