Bye Weeks: Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Houston
Grab a Helmet
Johnson v. IND: If I hadn’t flip-flopped on Johnson about
seven times already this season, I’d be gloating more about last
week’s expertly called shot, a breakout performance against the
Bills’ woeful front seven. The artist formerly known as C2K tallied
over 100 yards and two scores (aka, a really good day) well before
the second quarter had even started. He broke a long homer-less
streak with a mammoth 83-yard bomb on just his fourth carry of
the afternoon. All told, he finished with just a shade under two
bills for the game (195 yards) and managed to tally over 30 fantasy
points despite Jamie Harper poaching two more potential touchdowns
later in the contest. So, he’s totally back, right? Well…. He
still makes me crazy nervous. Also, calling the Bills front seven
“woeful” is being kind (they give up an atrocious 6.0 yards/carry).
We’ll probably need to see that type of output a few more times
before we start getting really excited. Luckily, the Colts aren’t
a whole lot better against the run (4.8 yards/carry) so there’s
a strong possibility for more excitement in the very near future.
McGahee v. NO: Like Johnson, McGahee’s faced some of the league’s
better run defenses to start the 2012 season (Pittsburgh, Houston,
Oakland, New England, and San Diego). Unlike Johnson, he’s managed
to produce something reasonably decent in most of his matchups,
enough so that he’s the 13th ranked RB from a points-per-game
perspective (12.4). That places him in pretty good company (right
behind LeSean McCoy) and now he’s got some favorable matchups
to look forward to. First up is New Orleans in Week 8, the league’s
second-worst rushing defense (160.3 yards/game and 4.8/carry).
If McGahee is somehow slowed on the ground, take heart: He’s been
a surprisingly solid contributor in the passing game, as well,
operating underneath as Peyton Manning’s primary check-down option.
He’s not the sexiest of assets at the running back position but
I’m sure glad he’s playing for my squad this week.
Favorable matchups for McGahee begin this
week with the Saints.
Jennings @ GB: Little Bro, bless his heart, is one of the unluckiest
fantasy GMs in history. He drafted Jennings – a
guy I touted back in August – fairly late in our 12-team keeper
league, thinking he was getting a cheap starter and a guy he could
potentially parlay into something better early in the season. As
it turned out, Jennings saw only eight Week 1 carries against a
tough Minny defense and then did virtually nothing of note for several
games as Maurice Jones-Drew assumed the reins again. Jennings was
finally recalled to duty when MJD went down in Week 7, precisely
one week late for Little Bro who naturally, had dropped him so he
could nab Felix Jones in advance of our titanic, brother v. brother
showdown. Oops. Little Bro’s out of free agent money now but if
you aren’t, go spend some on the former Liberty standout. He’s a
solid stopgap solution and is one of the more useful receiving options
out of the backfield for Blaine Gabbert (if you’re afraid the Jags
will be trailing by too much to run the ball).
Grab a Gatorade
Jackson or Daryl Richardson v. NE (in London): In case you
hadn’t noticed, the Rams are in the midst of a very deliberate
changing of the guard (see what I did there?). They intend to
transition more of Steven Jackson’s once-ample workload to the
more explosive and younger Richardson. However, they don’t seem
to be in any hurry to make the complete switch any time soon.
Until they fully commit to the reverse setup (Richardson as lead
man and Jackson as supporting cast member), neither back seems
particularly start-worthy, especially when the matchup is a daunting
one. This week’s matchup is certainly that. New England is allowing
just 86 rushing yards/game and a mere 3.3 per carry (good for
third best overall). Though Jackson and Richardson are capable
receivers and could perform well against a poor Pats pass defense,
I’m loath to guess which will produce at Wembley Stadium this
Sunday. Save these guys for a better matchup or until their roles
are more clearly defined.
Richardson or Montario Hardesty v. SD: There’s no running
back controversy in Cleveland and if it weren’t for the star rookie’s
ailing ribs, there wouldn’t be much of a platoon to worry about
either. Unfortunately, Richardson is no sure thing to suit up
on Sunday and may end up being a game-time call that morning.
Even if he does get the nod, there’s no guarantee he gets a full
load of work in. Ribs are a difficult part of the body to protect
when you’re getting routinely thumped by opposing tacklers. Even
if Richardson gets the nod AND all or most of the work, he still
has to worry about the particular tacklers he’ll be facing, San
Diego’s above-average run-stoppers (71.2 yards/game). In case
you weren’t counting, that’s a whole lot of ifs to worry about
in this particular case. I’d pass on Richardson if you have reliable
alternatives and on Hardesty if you have anyone else with a pulse.
Stephens-Howling or William
Powell v. SF: Coach Ken Whisenhunt used a term this
past weekend to characterize his running back situation which
should smother any potential enthusiasm for Stephens-Howling after
his stunningly successful Week 7 performance against the Vikings:
“hot hand.” As in, Stephens-Howling had the “hot
hand” against Minnesota so Whisenhunt et al. continued to
give him the rock. And what happens when said hand goes stone
cold, as it’s likely to do against a dominant San Francisco
defense on Monday night? I don’t pretend to know what the
Cardinals’ brain trust thinks about any of their options
at running back but here’s what I think of them, in spite
of last Sunday’s outburst: not much. You’re either
really brave or really desperate if you’re thinking of starting
either man in the Week 8 showdown against the Niners.