Welcome to the Tuesday Morning Buzz! Week 8 was a week of affirmations. Most of the teams and players that we expected to do well, did. And many of the questions about some players and teams on the bubble were answered. Let’s get right into it:
The Bucs once again looked fantastic in a blowout victory, with Josh Freeman and Doug Martin leading the way. Freeman’s three touchdowns and 262 yards made for a great fantasy day, but it was Martin that truly sold me on this Buccaneers offense. Perhaps I was too hard on him early on. I really believe his running ability allows the passing offense to click. It appears that the Tampa Bay rushing game is for real.
For the Vikings, Ponder improved from his epic, eight-completion victory last week, but once again it was ADP who attained the lion’s share of the fantasy points. However, the draft position value award has to go to Percy Harvin, who was undrafted in some leagues. Even one 17-point game will get a guy picked up from the waiver wire, and Harvin accomplished just that, in addition to his moderate success week in and week out.
Poor Cam Newton. The Preacher’s son is getting lambasted in the media for his turnover rate. Maybe he and Michael Vick should become better friends! Sadly, I would find another fantasy QB if Newton is your starter this year. However, next year he will be a great value pick. We had a healthy discussion in the comments section last week regarding Steve Smith’s career dominance of the Chicago Bears. That logic proved to be sound, and hopefully he can carry some of that momentum into future games as the rest of his offense is stalling.
For my preseason darling Bears, it was a great day for Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall but a horrific day for Jay Cutler. Not only was his yardage total unacceptable for fantasy (186 yards), but he threw a pick that negated most of those yards. Despite his feast-or-famine nature, I would still gladly release Newton for Cutler regardless of matchup. Cutler’s team is winning and spirits are high in Chicago; Newton’s team is losing and the criticism is only going to get worse.
The Chargers, in classic San Diego Charger fashion, are falling apart. This must be the final season for Norv Turner and A.J. Smith, right? How long will the organization and the fans put up with a team that can’t find it within themselves to play well for a full season? This team is in definite need of a culture shock, and until that happens they are going to be virtually useless on the field and in fantasy. My condolences to Chargers owners (hang in there—they may flip the switch when the win-loss record gets out of hand).
Also, what another success for the city of Cleveland! I won’t say the Browns played well, but Cleveland once again worked its deadly black magic on the visitor. Like an ugly, soggy, unapologetic Venus flytrap, they drew in the energetic Chargers and sapped their life from them until they were no more. I don’t have the numbers, but I would wager that Cleveland owns the record for most games with less than 21 total points scored.
The Seahawks couldn’t have asked for a better 55 minutes of football. Russell Wilson was accurate and Marshawn Lynch hit 105 yards on 12 carries. They were up with five minutes remaining, and their clamp-down defense had to hold a struggling Lions offense to close out the game. But they just couldn’t pull it off. Also of note, 13 of Wilson’s 25 completions went to Golden Tate and Sidney Rice for 64 and 55 yards, respectively. These wideouts will be promising low-cost options in next year’s draft.
For the Lions, it was the same old same old on offense. Running backs fought tooth and nail (unsuccessfully) for 50 yards, and the passing offense flourished on 49 attempts. If you’re hurting for WRs, though I can’t imagine that you would be, Ryan Broyles‘ arrow is definitely pointing up. Watch for his role to steadily expand in the Lions offense.
The most reassuring thing about the Jaguars lackluster showing in Green Bay was Rashad Jennings‘ 17 rush attempts. Even though the result was only 59 yards, those yards will eventually be augmented by touchdowns. For the passing options, the Jaguars continued to look mediocre at best. I’m not buying Cecil Shorts or Justin Blackmon with Gabbert at quarterback this season, but I am buying the six receptions Rashad Jennings had in addition to his rushing. If you’re playing in a dynasty league, you should consider holding onto Jennings, as MJD may find himself in a new home next year.
For the Packers, it was a rough day for Aaron Rodgers but a structurally sound day for the receiving core. I thought this might finally be the week that James Jones and Randall Cobb both have a great fantasy day, with Nelson and Jennings out, and while they scored similar points, neither was really worthwhile among this year’s bevy of WRs. Jermichael Finley was still unable to do much with both of the Packers top pass catchers out and is essentially droppable at this point.
Yikes! It was a bad day for Miami quarterbacks. Tannehill went down early with an injury (shown to be not too serious via MRI) and Matt Moore, last year’s starter, proved to be quite a downgrade. With Moore at quarterback, all of your Dolphins are suddenly virtually worthless in fantasy. However, Bush and Hartline may be able to produce next week against a weak Indy Defense.
Yikes! It was a bad day for New York Jets quarterbacks! Mark Sanchez is not the worst problem on this team by far, but he is going to take all of the blame. And with a fan favorite like Tebow waiting in the wings, it is only a matter of time before Sanchez takes the fall for the ineptitude of the players on this roster. However, if Tebow does start, Keller and Greene may actually see an uptick due to the absolute failure of the intermediate and deep passing game.
What is left to say about these Falcons? A few players stand out on paper, such as Jacquizz Rodgers, D.J. Davis and Jason Snelling, but when you see that the majority of their scoring came from single plays on just a few touches, all of a sudden their performance is less impressive. These Falcons get great production from their stars, and their stars are the only players you want on your fantasy team.
For the Eagles, see the Chargers comments above. These Eagles are stuck in a rut and nothing less than a complete restructure will dig them out. This isn’t a statement against Andy Reid, similar to Jeff Fisher’s exit from Tennessee; it’s simply a statement of fact. Until something brings these players together under a new banner, no one will be a guarantee…And fantasy is all about looking for guarantees.
I don’t think there are any fantasy owners bailing on RGIII after two less-than-perfect performances, but if you find one, take advantage. I trust that Griffin will be back in swing next week versus the woeful Carolina defense. The Steelers defense is as complex and difficult to play as they come, and no rookie quarterback should be expected to excel against them. Keep starting RGIII and Alfred Morris, and if you feel like taking a shot, think about Santana Moss.
For the Steelers, this was an example of a quarterback having a field day using every resource in his offense. Big Ben completed passes to nine different receivers, and all three of his touchdowns went to infrequent targets. That being said, this Steelers passing offense looks better each week, and I would be very optimistic about the falling Antonio Brown next week against a possibly gassed Giants D.
Unfortunately, blowout games like this say very little about the winner or the loser. There are all sorts of Patriots with gaudy numbers, and Chris Givens is one 50-yard touchdown from joining every single other St. Louis Ram in fantasy nonexistence. If there is any info to be gleaned, it is that Daryl Richardson and Steven Jackson both carried the ball seven times on Sunday. Is it finally time for Richardson to break into the starting workload and fantasy relevance?
Andrew Luck, who quietly has been more impressive than Robert Griffin III in my opinion, had a great day on 38 passes, despite a 1:1 TD-to-INT ratio. There is possibly some fantasy gold on this team, as Donald Brown, Dwayne Allen, Donnie Avery, and T.Y. Hilton all made a splash on Sunday. Brown should definitely be picked up from the waiver wire if someone in your league dropped him out of necessity.
P.S. If you missed Vick Ballard’s sweet barrel-roll touchdown, Google it.
The Titans played on the arm of Matt Hasselbeck and the legs of Chris Johnson on Sunday, and they looked pretty good doing it. They’re no offensive or defensive juggernaut, but the defense kept them in the game and the offense hung in there against one of the best young arms in football. Credit CJ2K’s 99-yard rushing performance and Kendall Wright’s continuation of his excellent rookie campaign. If Wright is still floating around in your league, he is a must-have for the rest of the season.
The Raiders were a nice, safe play this week in most situations. Palmer threw enough touchdowns to make up for a subpar yardage total and an interception, Darren McFadden had high yardage but no score, Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey performed up to snuff, Sea Bass kicked field goals with all the force and style of the General Lee, and the Raiders D nearly held Kansas City to a third week of no touchdowns. Overall, each Raider you started gave you exactly what was expected.
For the Chiefs, however, no one should have seen fantasy light-of-day unless you were so hurt in your flex position that you needed to start Dexter McCluster. There isn’t much else to say about these Chiefs. Avoid them like the plague until something changes at quarterback—which is a likely prospect for next season.
The result for the Giants was familiar, but the stat line was bizarre. Eli Manning didn’t touch 200 yards or complete a touchdown pass, Reuben Randle was the leading receiver, and Ahmad Bradshaw couldn’t outscore Andre Brown in fantasy points despite rushing for 19 more carries. However, Lawrence Tynes and the Giants D performed admirably and proved why they are worth their spots on your team, regardless of matchup.
Hey, remember when the Cowboys beat the Giants in the opening game of the season, and how this was finally going to be the Cowboys year, and how Eli and the Giants were going to finish third in the division behind the Cowboys and the Eagles? Here is the issue with every Cowboys team over the past 15 years: No discipline. The Cowboys are always in competition with the Raiders for most penalties on the season, and they are always in competition with no one for sloppiest route running and least inspiring play downfield. Until the Cowboys have a GM not named Jerry Jones, they will never be week-in, week-out starters for your fantasy team, and they will never compete for 16 games in a row.
Wise Saints fans knew before the previous season ended, before the bounty scandal, before the coaching suspensions, that this season would be for naught. How so, you say? Because the Super Bowl is in New Orleans this year. Having the Super Bowl in your home town is a death knell for your football team, and that is far less arguable than the more popular, “Madden Curse.” Thankfully, those rules don’t apply to fantasy. Though this week was somewhat lackluster for the Saints, there are a heap of them that can get you into your fantasy playoffs—despite the fact that they will not make their own playoffs. Keep starting all of your Saints.
Football Demigod Peyton Manning has already set the Broncos record for most consecutive 300-yard games (5) and has tied his own record with the same performance. For that specific reason, above all others, look for Denver to head to Cincinnati and push for a great fantasy day for the receiving corps. Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas should definitely be starters next week, and strong consideration should be given to Brandon Stokley as well.
The 49ers attained the first really great overly complicated, hyper-specific record of the season:
Alex Smith set the NFL record for most passes thrown with only one incompletion: 18 of 19. What is more impressive to me than his unsightly accuracy is that on his 18 throws he managed 232 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. That is phenomenal for Alex Smith and was good for sixth best this week among fantasy performances by QBs in standard scoring.
Amazingly, this same pitiful Arizona team that took the field on Monday Night started the season as 4-0. Now they are at 4-4 with no light at the end of the tunnel. The defense didn’t look great against a game-management style offense, but truly, the lack of rushing is their biggest Achilles’ heel. There were eight total rushes by Cardinals running backs in this game, and none of them were particularly astounding. As long as John Skelton is passing 52 times per game, this team will not win, and no Cardinals deserve your roster spots until that changes.
And that’s it! Week 8 is in the books and so is the first half of a season of epic proportions. As the races for the playoffs, MVP, and various in-season records heat up, we should see fantasy explosions all over the board in the second half. We luck out in Week 9, as very few startable fantasy players are on bye (Rams, Pats, Jets, 49ers), but if you should need assistance, look to your Broncos, Bears, Panthers, Redskins, Texans (blowout material—start Ben Tate!), and Saints. Also, please leave questions and comments in the section below or on Twitter, and I will respond on Wednesday. Have a great week!