Week 8! Scary how the football season goes so fast like the days of the week right? Ah its Monday, how crap. Cool hey Tuesday nice to see you. Wednesday, NICE! Thursday oh hey where do you come from? Jesus it’s Friday, what the hell have I done all week… Week 8 people! A lot of teams on the bye this week which leads to a few less games than we are usually treated to. A few good ‘uns, a few duds but one thing is always definite, it won’t be boring!
I cannot lie, I had a miserable week last week, on top of the Niners losing I only guessed 2 games correctly. In itself that is the beauty of the NFL. You can plan and prep as much as you want but sometimes one mistake, one penalty changes the face of a game. Upsets a plenty in this year, who seriously would have put San Diego over Atlanta and a tie in Arizona? Ah well, here we go!
Arizona @ Carolina
My how times change!! One of the fascinating things about the NFL is how quickly fortunes are reversed. Forget about my beloved 49ers and their historic collapse, the Cardinals and Panthers current woes are even harder to fathom. From their mountainous heights last year getting to the NFC championship and Superbowl respectively, you would have thought that they would be repeating their success. Not so! My personal worry about Carson Palmer and his meltdown in the championship game seems to have carried over to this season and he is not throwing with the same decisiveness as he did last year. Fear? Aging QB finally submitting to father time? Either way his receivers haven’t been helping him. Only Larry Fitzgerald has produced anything from the WR group which was loudly touted as one of the strongest skill groups in the league. To put in to perspective, both Palmer and Newtons passer rating has dropped over 18 points from last year. Naturally if you have the freak of nature David Johnson lining up in the backfield then he can pretty much carry a team on his broad shoulders. Speaking of Johnson, in last weeks’ dullfest with Seattle, he had a monstrous 41 touches. For his sake he shouldn’t get that again but he always seems to product no matter how many reps he gets. Even with the Panthers secondary getting torched on a weekly basis, they still have a strong defensive unit in comparison with the rest of the league so Luke Kuechly will be extremely important. If he is in the mix then he is a legitimate game changer on that side of the ball. The Panthers offensive struggles are also concerning, getting WR1 Kelvin Benjamin back should have fixed any perceived weakness in the Carolina offense and springboard them back to the Superbowl but if anything it has somehow made them worse. Little WR help and a less than dominant run game hasn’t helped but you can see the shine coming off Cam Newton a little bit now. Luck is huge in the NFL and all the things that went right for Cam last year, slinging throws and blasting through d-lines just isn’t there. Tough matchup but the Arizona run D allows the second lowest fantasy points to running backs so I see the run game being stifled and Cam forcing things through the air.
Winner – Arizona
New York Jets @ Cleveland
The Jets D is listed as the top streaming defense this week, which against the Browns makes sense. However, the Browns have to win at least one game right? I think if they are only going to win one then this is it. Their schedule is not favourable at any point for the rest of the year as they face the Cowboys, Steelers (twice) Giants, Bengals, Bills and Chargers. Only the Ravens and potentially the Giants provide them with a glimpse of a victory so they take their shots against a streaky Ryan Fitzpatrick. The QB room in Cleveland looks like a Hospital revolving door, Josh McCown IS practicing, Cody Kessler ISN’T so rookie Kevin Hogan is slotted to play. Hogan is clearly a fine runner so expect some trickery and unique formations from Cleveland to give Hogan the best chance to succeed. The Jets front 7 is good and is only allowing 75 yards a game on the ground so Hogan will need to at least provide a slight threat of a passing game so the Jets don’t stack 8 in the box. For the Jets, Matt Forte has had a few strong weeks but is heavily TD dependent and despite all the waiver wire appearances, I don’t think Bilal Powell is the answer either. The passing game has only Brandon Marshall as a legitimate threat. This is more than the Jets are more of a mess than Cleveland being the better team. This one is my win so they don’t go 0-16.
UPDATE – Josh McCown pegged to start. Looking better for the Browns!
Winner – Cleveland
Detroit @ Houston
In 16 games with Jim Bob Cooter, Matthew Stafford has a 35:8 TD:INT ratio. That’s REALLY good. From last weeks’ numbers, you would think that Golden Tate has got himself back in to the Lions good books but Marvin Jones was shadowed by Josh Norman and got all his looks and yards after Norman went out with a concussion. Therefore don’t read too much in to Tate’s success, play him in fantasy if you don’t have anyone else but things should go back to Jones. Also Theo Riddick and Eric Ebron are both back at practice this week which will eat in to Tate’s looks. Houston’s problems seem to continue, apparently with one fan starting a gofundme page to buy out Brock Osweiller’s contract which I think is hilarious. If GM John Elway, who has proved to be as astute and smart as any GM in the league over the last few years, isn’t willing to pay an unproven player then maybe that should have set off alarms over in Houston. They had Brian Hoyer though so I do get why the big money was splashed out. Nuk Hopkins continues to struggle but so do all Texans WR’s as no one passed 40 yards last week. Despite his strong arm, Osweiller’s air yards per completion was 4.3 yards which is just bad and doesn’t show any signs of improving. With Riddick and Ebron back it could be a sign that Stafford can spread his passes around and keep the Top 10 Texans D at bay. Although the Texans D plays well, without perennial HOFer JJ Watt, they just aren’t that intimidating a unit.
Winner – Detroit.
Kansas City @ Indianapolis
Andrew Luck seems like he is finding a bit of that magic that he had his first couple of years in the league doesn’t he? I think he is gaining a bit more of that form and I believe he is QB2 from a fantasy perspective so hes putting up big numbers. Speaking of number TY Hilton anyone? Another 12 targets and over 100 yards again. Jack Doyle getting a lot of love as well seeing plenty of opportunities so pick him up while Allen is out. TY will get his numbers and the ageless Frank Gore will keep pounding the rock in between the numbers. If Luck stays upright, which is a concern against a typically feisty Chiefs D. As I wrote last week, the Chiefs are looking like an offense in the Atlanta mould, a pick your poison attack. No one can argue that Spencer Ware has looked good, REALLY good since taking the starting RB spot. Even to an extent that rumours are surfacing about making Jamaal Charles expendable. Bad for fantasy but great for the Chiefs to have a tried and tested but bigger version of what Atlanta has with their RB committee. No one really sees the Colt’s D as a threat and although they like the big play, the Chiefs D haven’t been as dominant as recent years either so there will be points in this one. Start Spencer Ware (if you weren’t what is wrong with you?) but difficult to pin point anyone else specifically as Alex Smith will simply find the guy that is open. Colts had a strong outing last week against a improving Titans team so I think Luck works his magic once again.
Winner – Indianapolis
Seattle @ New Orleans
Now I dropped Drew Brees last week against a Kansas team at home. The odds are against him and they lose, but Brees still put up good numbers. You kind of have the opposite scenario here, Brees is at home where traditionally he throws up 1000 yards a game and 12 touchdowns but against a very good Seattle D. They haven’t been getting the consistent pass rush that they have in previous years but they just play so well as a unit they don’t really have any flaws. No flaws and no mistakes will be needed against a potent Saints offense that loves to pass and loves the big play. Michael Thomas has been huge and I think people forget he is a rookie. Is he their top wideout? Possibly. Cooks and Snead look more like complimentary pieces when you look at Thomas’ numbers over the past few weeks including last weeks’ 10 receptions for a buck 30. The receiving corp will have to earn every yard this week as Seattle typically don’t allow many YAC (yards after catch). Seattle’s offense has regularly been carried by Wilson this year but they are still hampered by a bad O-line which still doesn’t make sense to me. They execute when it matters though so if this comes down to a close game, both sides have QB’s who you want on your team. The Jimmy Graham career revival train continues to roll on each week as Seattle are FINALLY figuring out how to use him but strangely enough Seattle were in 3 WR sets almost 90% of the time against Arizona. This is a massive change from their usual ground and pound with Marshawn Lynch. New Orleans missed out last week despite playing well, Seattle bored us all last week so home team wins.
Winner – New Orleans
Oakland @ Tampa Bay
Oakland did not play great last week. The Jags lack of offensive prowess helped their woeful D out but it was really a poor game considering how well the Raiders are generally playing and how bad the Jags are playing. Tampa Bay surprised me last week. Must admit but they played well and deserved to win. I don’t know if you have seen but Jacquizz Rodgers is TINY. Well, I say tiny, he towers over Tom Cruise at 5’6” but he weighs 14 ½ stone which is a lot of power in a small compact frame (Anyone see Antman? The Muscle Hamster and Ant Boy? I’d watch that movie). Wouldn’t be a regular 16 game feature back but he is playing extremely well as a fill in for now and he should have more success this week because no one can find him behind his lineman. My boy Mike Evans is proving my belief, and proving a point with Adam at least that he will be a top 5, if not top 3 WR by the end of the year. Winston’s flaky ball control and penchant for turnovers are difficult to predict but it is good seeing him find other people like Humphries, Brate and Shepard instead of opposing defenders. Good to also see Murray back for the Raiders, at least as someone to take the early down work but the work will still go through Cooper and Crabtree against a weak Tampa secondary. West Coast teams typically don’t do well with the long flight across the country but I don’t think either D can contain the others WR groups so again I expect points in both real and fantasy worlds.
Winner – Raiders
San Diego @ Denver
Oooh this might be good one. CJ Anderson is on IR so Booker is now in line for a massive increase in his workload. All indications look like he is more than capable as Anderson was being gradually phased out anyway. The Denver offense and San Diego kind of balance each other out, as does the Chargers offense and Denver defense so if you are expecting points, as I always say, defense usually wins out. A fantasy perspective should tell you how this one will go. Sit Rivers, all their WR and TE. Start Melvin Gordon as his 10 touchdowns leads all backs so far. As for Denver, their system of playing smart ball and leaning on their D shows that their 5-2 record is justified. The fire power isn’t there but they do just enough to ensure they pull ahead. Thomas and Sanders need their touches, when they do, they are successful. The Chargers can run with teams thanks to Rivers just playing so damn well but the match up this week is just not a good one for him. Oh and they are playing in Denver. This might be more of a game of the kickers and making no mistakes, Denver has the advantage in both these regards.
Winner – Denver
Philadelphia @ Dallas
I really missed Zeke Elliott last week. When rookies play you obviously hope that they play well but you expect mistakes and a steep learning curve. You would also hope that they show you their ‘floor’ potential. If 2016 is Mr Elliott’s ‘floor’ what the hell is his ‘ceiling’ going to be? Greatest RB of all time? Now I know I know there is a lot more to this and a much longer journey for this guy but he really does seem to have a great career ahead of him. Led by Zeke and fellow rook Dak Prescott, Dallas have played great. I don’t see their D as a particular strong unit but when the offence controls the time of possession like they have so far, then they just need to avoid mistakes and they will more than likely win. Enter Philly. They hounded and knocked around Minnesota giving them their first loss of 2016. I picked the Vikings to win based on the Eagles D not looking as good as it had in the first few weeks but man was I wrong. I was extremely happy when I managed to pick them back up in one of my fantasy leagues and then I realised they were playing Dallas. My mood dropped slightly but I am still starting them. The Eagles swarm and hound and should give the Cowboys a problem but the Cowboys also have Dez Bryant back. Yes he has been hampered by injuries and although I am not the biggest fan of his, you can’t question that when he is on the field, he does produce. Not as well as Cole Beasley mind (lol jokes) but it gives Dallas another option to help Zeke out in the run game and keep the Eagles honest in their formations. Carson Wentz should have a bounce back game providing that he gets on the field, he won’t have half the troubles he had as he did against the Vikings top ranked D so he should spread the ball around and keep the Eagles moving. I feel like the trendy pick is to go with Dallas but I think the Eagles D has found it’s mojo and will be a massive factor in this game. Zeke will still get 100 and a TD but this could be the first game we see Dak Prescott look like a rookie.
Winner – Eagles
Much fewer games to go over this week so I thought I would share my fantasy line ups in my 2 leagues this year. Italics means they are starting this week
League one 5-2 Rank 2
Brady, Stafford, Ajayi, West, Booker, Elliott, White, Hopkins, Evans, Robinson, Shepard, Walker, Rudolph, Matt Bryant, Eagles – White might get the nod over Robinson as my flex
League two 4-3 Rank Tied 4
Brees, Mariota, Ware, Gordon, Coleman, McCoy, Brown, Evans, Montgomery, Moncrief, Beasley, Kelce, Henry, Bailey, Patriots
Will leave you for now with one thought that will get me through the weekend, at least the Niners won’t lose….