Notes for all 32 Teams (Week 8)
Jeff Haseley catches us up with what’s going on around the league for each NFL team.
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Carson Palmer has thrown exactly two touchdown passes in each game this year. His 7.21 yards per attempt is equal to his career average. I think it’s safe to say he’s over his shoulder/neck injury. He’s still a high end QB2 in my opinion, but I like his matchup this week at home vs. Philadelphia. Andre Ellington is on the rise, especially as a receiver. Only Matt Forte (16 recs) has more receptions than Ellington (12) in the last two games. The NFL is a what have you done for me lately league and Ellington is the 7th best PPR RB in the last two games with a plus matchup this week.
Roddy White has responded to his critics (myself included) to the tune of 9 catches for 100 yards and 1 touchdown on a league high 15 targets. I hope you started him, because I didn’t. Now he just needs to keep up the production. The only thing worse than a player who doesn’t perform is a player who performs on your bench. Kendall Wright owners also know what I’m talking about. Matt Ryan and the Falcons play the Lions at London this week. Even though this is a home game on the schedule, it’s really not – plus Detroit’s pass defense is one of the best in the league. Only one quarterback (Drew Brees last week), has thrown more than one touchdown pass against Detroit this year. In the last three games, quarterbacks have more INTs (5) than touchdown passes (3) against the Lions. I don’t like this matchup for Atlanta UNLESS Detroit is able to get out to a big lead, which will mean more passing from Ryan. The Falcons will be without five offensive linemen in this game. The Lions already have a strong pass rush. Add the deficiencies on the offensive line and that spells potential disaster. There could be a lot of dump offs and short routes in this game. Atlanta has lost four consecutive games since the blowout win against Tampa Bay on Thursday Night Football.
The Ravens have had two no-contest games in the last two weeks (TB, ATL) outscoring them 77-24. Joe Flacco has 7 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in that span, which has elevated him to a Top 10 fantasy quarterback (9 to be exact). This week they play at division rival Cincinnati, who has had defensive issues recently. As bad as Cincinnati has played, this is still a divisional game. I expect this to be a battle, with or without A.J. Green who remains out with a toe injury. I don’t love Flacco this week, but he’s not a horrible play either. Justin Forsett had 23 receptions in the first five games, but zero in the last two games (both blowouts). This has gone somewhat unnoticed because he rushed for 111 and 95 yards in those games. We’ll see if the receptions return, but once is a fluke, twice is a coincidence. If it happens again this week, that’s a trend. If you are an optimistic person, you may want to take a flier on Ray Rice and see if he is available in your league. His suspension appeal is two weeks away and if he is found eligible to play, he could latch on with a team that needs a running back. Perhaps Buffalo, Tennessee, Washington, Oakland or some other team could take a gamble on him. Remember, he had over 50 catches last year. I still think there is some gas left in his tank for another run. One other nugget of information, the Bengals have given up the 2nd most points to opposing tight ends this year. Owen Daniels had a decent game last week and represents good value this week as well.
Overshadowing the last second win against Minnesota last week is the news of both starting running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson going down with injuries. Spiller (clavicle) is believed to be out for the season and Jackson (groin) will be out for at least 4 weeks. Look for Boobie Dixon to see more involvement going forward, plus Bryce Brown will see action as well. Brown is the one I’m intrigued by. He lives and dies by his ability to get to the edge and turn the corner. If he can learn to run successfully between the tackles, he can be a force. I don’t say “I told you so” that often but Sammy Watkins continues to be the Bills primary receiving threat and now he has a game-winning touchdown catch to add to his team leading stats for targets, receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. In short, he’s the Bills version of Golden Tate without Calvin Johnson returning at some point. His fantasy production is following suit (WR11 in PPR) and should continue to hold steady, if not rise going forward.
The Panthers host the Seahawks this week as home underdogs. Both teams are reeling lately and are looking to right the ship. The big bad Seattle defense isn’t the same as last year and the same can be said for Carolina. Vegas has this game in the mid-40s so I’m not expecting an all-out offensive slug fest, but if Carolina can stay close on the scoreboard, this benefits Cam Newton, Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen. It’s possible that DeAngelo Williams (ankle) will be back for this game and they can definitely use him. Greg Olsen is currently the top ranked fantasy tight end with Julius Thomas right behind him. Keep in mind though, Carolina hasn’t had their bye yet. Olsen has scored or had a 100-yard game in each of the last three games. Tight ends have scored 8 times against Seattle this year including at least once in every game but one. Seattle also has allowed at least two touchdown passes to opposing quarterbacks in every game since Week 1. This is a good, but not great matchup for Cam Newton and an even better set up for Olsen to have another above average game.
The Bengals are 0-2-1 in their last three games with division rival Baltimore coming to town this week. Last week’s 0 on the scoreboard against Indianapolis is a concern for the downtrodden Bengals, but there is some room for optimism. They have hit rock bottom, but at 3-2-1 they are still in the mix in the AFC North. The struggling offense could mean a return of A.J. Green sooner than the team would like. possibly even this week. Cincinnati has already had their bye week, so there is no upcoming opportunity for increased rest for Green. I’m afraid that his toe injury will linger through a large portion of the season and there’s the possibility of reinjuring it. In short – I’m leery on Green coming back full strength and full production. Remember Roddy White‘s 2013 season? I’m afraid Green may be in for a similar result. Mohamed Sanu, who has benefited in Green’s absence, should continue to see a fair amount of targets and receptions going forward. I’d be more excited about Sanu than Green for now. I know that sounds hard to believe, but until I see Green getting 100-yard games with a score, I’m not hopping back on the bandwagon yet. Baltimore is a fraction of a point behind Houston for the most fantasy points allowed to wide receivers this year. This is a good matchup for Sanu if you were on the fence about him this week.
For the first six games, the Browns running game and offensive line has been above average with solid performances from Ben Tate, Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West. Center Alex Mack goes down with a broken leg and the running game falters. Against Jacksonville, no less. Whether or not Mack is the key ingredient in a successful Browns run game is yet to be determined, but I know this – it’s not as good without him. It may take some time for the line to gel, but each game there is lack of cohesion is a detriment to the ground game. This week, the Raiders come to Cleveland in what looks like a good matchup for Ben Tate and company.
Matt Forte is on fire. Only DeMarco Murray has more fantasy points at running back than Forte right now. He is seeing a ton of targets and already has 52 receptions after seven games to lead all players in the league. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are both in the Top 20 among WRs, however combined they only have one touchdown in the last three games. This week’s matchup at New England is good, but not great for Cutler and the Bears receiving corps. I’d be surprised if one of Marshall or Jeffery doesn’t find the end zone. The offense is too good for them to endure too many down fantays weeks.
Nobody can stop the runaway train that DeMarco Murray is driving. Seven straight 100-yard games is nothing short of amazing. This week’s matchup against Washington is not a good one, but don’t let that stop you. When Murray is the second ranked running back this week in a bad matchup, what does that tell you? I do like Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams against Washington’s secondary. Tony Romo is also someone who should benefit this week. Romo’s touchdown passes in the last five games are a very healthy 2, 3, 2, 2 and 3. For those wondering about tight end Gavin Escobar, he has 9 targets all year, five of which came last week. I tend to think his two scores are more a result of him being in the right place at the right time and Romo exploiting a lack of coverage and attention paid to him. I’m not that excited about his fantasy relevance at this time.
Ronnie Hillman is finding success in the lead role where Montee Ball did not. Perhaps the right back for the Broncos is more of a style that Hillman brings to the table. His quickness and speed helps get him past the initial wall and into space where he can do some damage and gain yards. I like the passing game more than the running game this Thursday night vs. San Diego. That’s not to say I don’t like Hillman, but if he gets 70 total yards and a touchdown it will be more than I expect. Julius Thomas had his first down week of the year. I don’t expect that to be the norm. Demaryius Thomas is also having a great year with a pace of 90-1400-16. You’d take that right? Gotta love Denver fantasy options.
The Lions have a road game against Atlanta, but the game will be in London this week – and make sure your lineups are set early, because the game itself will be aired live at 9:30 am et on Sunday. I really like this matchup for the Lions this week for both the running and passing game, as well as their Def/ST. Calvin Johnson (ankle) is probably going to be a game time decision, but don’t be surprised if the Lions rest him for one more game. Their bye is the week after the London game, which makes sense to keep him out so he can get another week of rest before returning Week 10 for the second half run. Reggie Bush may have played last week, but his ankle injury is still bothering him. I can see Joique Bell getting the lion’s share of the carries. If you have Bell, strongly consider starting him. The Falcons run defense has allowed the most fantasy points to RBs this year by far.
Aaron Rodgers has 18 touchdown passes this year, 16 of those went to wide receivers and 14 of them went to Jordy Nelson (6) and Randall Cobb (8). Long story short, Rodgers, Cobb and Nelson are all very strong starts this week against a Saints team that has allowed 9 touchdowns to wide receivers in six games. They also have allowed six touchdowns to running backs this season, so I like Eddie Lacy to have a decent game as well.
Arian Foster has what looks like a good matchup against the Titans this week, but Tennessee has been decent against opposing running backs this year. They have allowed only two rushing touchdowns in the last four games and only one running back has rushed for more than 60 yards in the last five games. I expect Foster to see plenty of action this week, but the defensive numbers for Titans could keep his totals in check.
Andrew Luck has 19 touchdown passes this year, however only 4 of them went to wide receivers. Nine went to tight ends and six went to running backs (all six to Ahmad Bradshaw). Dwayne Allen has scored in every game but two. This week’s opponent, Pittsburgh has allowed 10 passing touchdowns this year. Four to wide receivers, four to tight ends and two to running backs. I like Dwayne Allen’s chances of reaching pay dirt once again. T.Y. Hilton has 90 yards receiving or more in each of the last four games. This isn’t the best matchup for him, but he should still put up good numbers. Reggie Wayne (elbow) is expected to miss 1-2 games, beginning this week. Filling in for Wayne will be Hakeem Nicks, but also rookie Donte Moncrief. I am more interested in Moncrief than Nicks and think he could get some good targets in the next few weeks. Take a look at Moncrief, especially in dynasty leagues. His chance to showcase his abilities is now.
The flavor of the week at running back for Jacksonville is Denard Robinson. He had 127 yards and a score last week on 22 carries. Will that carry over into Week 8 against the Dolphins? That’s yet to be determined, but Robinson is someone you can take a flier on, if you’re in need of running back help. Miami has held running backs to under 49 yards rushing in each of the last three games. I think you’d be chasing fantasy points if you started Robinson again this week hoping for the same. I’d lay low on Jacksonville backs this week and see what shakes out. If Robinson has another strong game, we can talk about where he fits into your lineup. If he doesn’t have a decent game, like I expect, then there’s no further clarity on the Jaguars run game. I do think the Jags can build off their win last week and wouldn’t be surprised to see them put up a fight against Miami. Two weeks ago they played well enough to beat Tennessee, but it wasn’t in the cards. Last week they beat Cleveland handedly, which may not have been a fluke. Keep your eye on these Jaguars, they could be turning the corner.
The Chiefs are on a roll with the Rams coming to town this week. The Rams weakness is their secondary, not their run defense. The Chiefs strength is their running game, not necessarily their passing game. Something has to give this week. My thinking is that the passing game picks it up more than usual. That’s not to say Jamaal Charles won’t have a good game though. It’s hard to keep him contained both as a rusher and receiver. Travis Kelce had an average game last week, but I expect him to be more involved against the Rams. The Chiefs don’t have a lot of completions (usually under 20 per game) otherwise I would show more intetest in Kelce (or any receiver for that matter).
Lamar Miller continues to have a career year, reaching the Top 10 among fantasy running backs. Miller has four touchdowns in the last three games with at least one score in each game. Now that he is the lead back, he is not giving it up. This week’s opponent Jacksonville has a decent run defense. They kept the Browns in check last week and have given up only one rushing touchdown since Week 2. Mike Wallace has scored a touchdown in five of the six games this year. He has yet to have a big yardage game, but the touchdown consistency is keeping him in the Top 20 (16th in PPR). Wallace is a good bet to perform well this week, plus Ryan Tannehill is looking more confident under center. If the two finally get on the same page, it could be a strong second half of the season for Wallace.
I’m not interested in many Vikings most weeks but this week’s matchup against Tampa Bay is one to be aware of. The Bucs have allowed 10 touchdown passes in the last three games, including the 5-spot to Joe Flacco before their bye last week. Teddy Bridgewater is starting to get some traction and this week could be the week he gains more confidence. Jarius Wright is someone who is turning my head lately. His 18 targets in the last three games are second on the team (Greg Jennings 19). Wright is tied with Jennings in receptions in that span with 11. He may not have a lot of value, but it’s progress and he’s moving into a potential flex option with a good matchup this week.
So far the running back who has taken over for Stevan Ridley has been Shane Vereen. Expect more of the same this week against the Bears. Vereen is a versatile weapon for the Patriots who is capable of putting up strong numbers as a rusher and receiver. I would not be shocked to see him reach 100 total yards again this week. Rob Gronkowski is starting to put it together. He has just one score in the last three weeks, but he has 18 receptions in that time and should see plenty of looks against a Bears team that has been kind to opposing tight ends lately.
The Saints lost a tough one in the waning seconds of the game last week at Detroit. They are 2-4 with Green Bay coming to town. I am expecting a shootout in this game with plenty of opportunities for Drew Brees to make plays down field. Jimmy Graham (shoulder) played last week, but mostly on red zone snaps on third down. Monitor his practice schedule to see if he is a full go in practice this week. If so, plan on seeing him more involved. A healthy Graham is exactly what this team needs. Pierre Thomas is out for the next 2-3 games with a shoulder injury. His replacement as a receiving back is Travaris Cadet. Now is a good time to grab him on the waiver wire. I expect him to see quite a few targets while Thomas is out. From a PPR perspective, Cadet can be inserted into your lineup as a flex option or weak RB2 option with potential to put up double-digit numbers. Mark Ingram struggled against Detroit last week, but I see him bouncing back against a Packers run defense that has been less than desirable this year.
The Jets host the Bills this week. I don’t love the matchup, especially when the Jets strength on offense (running game) is the Bills strength on defense. This could be a relatively low scoring game with the first team to score 17 wins. I’m interested to see how involved Percy Harvin will be for the Jets after just one week of practice. I don’t see him leading the team in targets this week, but I can see him being a play maker that they desperately needed. He’s a flex option at best in my opinion right now. It’s possible that he comes out of the gates hard with plenty of looks, but it’s also very possible that he is eased into the playbook and winds up with minimal opportunities. I think he’ll be somewhere in the middle.
The Raiders play at Cleveland this week. I see this game being in the upper teens or low 20s for both teams with not a lot of scoring. The two main fantasy weapons are James Jones and Andre Holmes, but I would be a little reserved on starting either one this week. Derek Carr struggled to find a rhythm against Arizona last week, which was surprising against the 32nd ranked pass defense. Carr is still very much a QB2 option, if that, but there is reason to believe he has the potential to put up decent numbers going forward.
The Eagles play a tough conference game at Arizona this week. The Cardinals run defense has been strong this year, allowing the fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. LeSean McCoy shook off some rust in his last game, but I would be a bit cautious hoping for a big game from him this week. The passing game led by Nick Foles should fare much better. Jeremy Maclin has a great matchup, but Jordan Matthews and Riley Cooper could also have a decent outing. Zach Ertz has seen his level of play increase recently so he is also someone to consider against the Cardinals.
Antonio Brown has a tough matchup this week going against Colts cornerback Vontae Davis, who has found success against some of the best receivers in the game this year. Demaryius Thomas struggled against Davis, so did Jeremy Maclin and Steve Smith and last week Mohamed Sanu. It’s still possible for Brown to find success, but I don’t expect to see one of his 7-9 catch games this week. Indianapolis has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this year. I wouldn’t bench Brown, but don’t expect a big game. The Colts are coming off a shutout win against Cincinnati, so I’m not thrilled at the matchup across the board. They held Giovani Bernard and the Bengals offense in check last week. We’ll see if that translates to success on the road. Pittsburgh can be a struggling team at times, so if Indianapolis shows up on defense again, it could be a long day for the Steeelers.
The Chargers play at Denver on Thursday night. I don’t like this matchup for the Chargers running game, but the passing game could produce some gems, especially at tight end. I like Antonio Gates‘ chances of a positive game. Keenan Allen (hamstring) is still dealing with injury issues, which is keeping him from being a force in the passing game like he was last year. He may not be fully back to health until after the Week 10 bye. Until then, he’s a WR3 with potential.
The Seahawks play at Carolina this week in what looks like a good matchup on paper. The Panthers defense has been horrendous lately. They aren’t doing a good job of rushing the passer, which is leading to a high completion percentage against them, which is leading to points scored. Russell Wilson is a strong play this week against a reeling Panthers team. If there is no pass rush, look for Wilson to sit back and find open receivers all game long. This is also a great matchup for Marshawn Lynch. Carolina has allowed 37 points or more in four of the last five games. Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse are excellent flex options this week. If you’re looking for a low priced DFS option, take a look at either of these guys. Paul Richardson is also getting more looks with the departure of Harvin. Richardson is a speedster who can come in handy on plays over the top. I don’t think he’ll be that much of a factor this week, but his chance to shine is definitely coming.
Bye Week – next three games (STL, at NO, at NYG)
The Rams are coming off an exciting win against Seattle this week, but now they have to go into Arrowhead and play the Chiefs on the road. The big news in St. Louis is the emergence of rookie running back Tre Mason. It looks like Jeff Fisher is getting Mason involved more in the offense. He had 18 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown last week. I expect we’ll see more of Mason this week against the Chiefs, but I don’t think he’ll be the only back to see action. Zac Stacy should return to the fold after being held back due to ankle and calf injuries. Mason is worth a waiver claim, but I see a committee approach with a healthy Zac Stacy, Benny Cunningham and Mason all getting carries.
The Bucs are excited to play Minnesota and the Vikings are excited to play the Bucs. Something has to give here. The Bucs are coming off a bye, but before that, Joe Flacco torched them for five first half touchdown passes. When that happens it’s hard to assemble any form of offensive rhythm. I expect to see more from the Bucs and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Doug Martin have a decent game this week.
The Titans have a decent matchup against the Texans this week, who have allowed 9 touchdown passes in the last four games. The Texans secondary has seen it’s share of problem this season, especially on the road. Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker are the two bright spots for Tennessee and are the only true fantasy options to consider at this time. Bishop Sankey is coming on recently, but he has yet to have a big breakout game, which is keeping me from being excited about his chances. Kendall Wright has been off and on this year. When he’s on, he’s a legit fantasy start, but when he’s off, his fantasy production is limited. Jake Locker (hand) is expected to return to action this week, but he is not a valuable fantasy start.
The return of Robert Griffin is expected soon, but it won’t be this week against Dallas on Monday Night Football. Starting for Washington will be none other than Colt McCoy. Obviously Jay Gruden thinks McCoy is better suited to lead the team than Kirk Cousins right now. He is a stopgap until Griffin returns. Temper your expectations on DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed, however I do see one or two of those three being a common target for McCoy this week. If I had to guess, it’s Pierre Garcon. Jackson is more of a down field threat, which isn’t McCoy’s strength. Jordan Reed could see a lot of action in the intermediate range, plus the Cowboys have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this year. I like Reed, but my money is on the veteran Garcon to come through as the main recipient of McCoy’s passes. Alfred Morris is also someone to consider this week, but if Washington finds themselves trailing early in the game, Morris’ value will drop considerably.
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