Fantasy Football: The Comfortables, The Cautions, and The Casualties: Week 8
One of the biggest problems I have with fantasy football managers is their ridiculous clinging to their draft picks in non-keeper leagues. Managers place too much faith in the team that they drafted, thinking it’s championship caliber before Week 1 even starts. As we’ve seen by these injuries lately, things change quickly in the fantasy world. There’s a team out there that conceivably drafted Doug Martin, Julio Jones, Randall Cobb, David Wilson, and Reggie Wayne with their first five picks. How you drafted has little to no meaning at this stage of the season.
So imagine how frustrating it is when I try to buy low on CJ Spiller by offering Terrance Williams, and I’m met with this explanation: “There’s no way I’m trading my #1 draft pick for some dude you picked up off the Waiver Wire.” Terrance Williams’ fantasy points over the past three weeks: 23, 8 and 13. CJ Spiller’s fantasy points over the past three weeks: 12, 6 and 0. Williams is tied to a very potent passing offense and Spiller is hobbled. There’s a chance I might actually lose out on this transaction, but he was stacked at RB and I was stacked at WR. Yet he was unwilling to part with his first-round pick, even though Spiller’s riding his bench this week. These are the same guys who are still rostering Julio Jones in non-keeper leagues, even though he is proverbially burning a hole in a roster spot. Guys, don’t hold onto the past! Look toward the future! In my four money leagues, only one of my first-round picks is still on my team, and that’s Matt Forte.
Last week was my best week this year, going 4-0 in my money leagues and 5-1 overall. Interestingly, three of my four money leagues had me facing a guy who was starting Kyle Rudolph, and the matchups were close. Rudolph’s performance was directly related to whether I’d go 3-0 in those matchups or 0-3. I actually attended the Giants/Vikings game, with primo seats on the 45 yard line, and I watched Rudolph on every Vikings offensive play. I breathed a sigh of relief every time he went into blocking formation and held my breath every time he went into a pass route. Every play was essentially a mini heart attack. Thankfully, Rudolph didn’t play well at all, and I even won one of my matchups by less than a point thanks to Reuben Randle’s touchdown. Maybe the bad luck ends!
Note: “Comfortables” can be started in all leagues. “Cautions” may be started in 12-team leagues and should definitely be started in 14-team leagues, but might be bench considerations for 10-team leagues or lower. “Casualties” shouldn’t be started in any leagues. “Sleepers” are meant for FLEX spots in 12- and 14-team leagues
Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Comfortables: Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith, Vincent Jackson, Greg Olsen, Carolina Defense
Cautions: Mike Glennon, Mike Tolbert, Mike Williams, Tim Wright, Tampa Bay Defense
Casualties: Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn
Sleeper: Mike James
Doug Martin’s injury is very ill-timed for a Tampa team that was struggling on offense even with him in the lineup. Just the threat of the Muscle Hamster breaking out kept defenses honest enough for Mike Glennon to find Vincent Jackson. Just how much respect will the usually stout Panther Defense give Mike James in his relief role? James is a good bye-week plug in, especially for smarting Martin owners (coughcough), but I wouldn’t expect the world. You know that V-Jax will command the extra attention, but I think the talent is too much for you to not start Jackson comfortably. We saw what he did on that long bomb last week with two guys on him. Along with James, he’s the only Buc you can consider starting this week. For the Panthers, it’s the usual suspects. I love the fact that Tolbert vultures TDs because I have no shares in DeAngelo Williams, but I’m sure DeAngelo owners are pulling their hair out. I even started the Kool Aid Man last week and was very pleased with his 1-yard vulture. If you’re going to chase touchdowns, there aren’t very many better options at RB.
Prediction: The Panthers take advantage of the depleted Bucs and win a big division game on the road.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions
Comfortables: Tony Romo, Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush, Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Calvin Johnson, Jason Witten
Cautions: Joseph Randle, Joique Bell, Miles Austin (if active), Brandon Pettigrew, Joseph Fauria, Dallas Defense, Detroit Defense
Casualties: Patrick Edwards, Kris Durham, Ryan Broyles, Kevin Ogletree
Sleeper: Lance Dunbar
This looks to be a shootout, but we said the same thing about Dallas/Philly last week, and look what happened there. Joseph Randle didn’t see a full workload in relief of DeMarco Murray last week, and Lance Dunbar even managed to score. You can’t feel completely comfortable starting either, but I like Dunbar as a very deep sleeper. Terrance Williams now warrants weekly comfort for starting, especially with the news that Dallas is considering shutting down Miles Austin for the season. Matthew Stafford should be fine throwing against Dallas, even after what they did against Nick Foles last week. Foles is no Stafford. Continue to roll with Bush and Megatron as usual.
Prediction: The Lions rebound from a tough loss last week and shock Dallas.
Buffalo Bills vs. New Orleans Saints
Comfortables: Drew Brees, Fred Jackson, Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Jimmy Graham (if active), New Orleans Defense
Cautions: Thad Lewis, CJ Spiller, Stevie Johnson, Marques Colston, Scott Chandler, Buffalo Defense
Casualties: Tashard Choice, Khiry Robinson, Robert Woods, Kenny Stills, Robert Meachem, Nick Toon
Sleeper: Benjamin Watson (if Graham is inactive)
Buffalo is still alive and kicking thanks to some last-minute heroics against Miami last week. New Orleans is coming off its bye but isn’t completely healthy. Jimmy Graham has popped up on the injury report, and apparently wouldn’t have been able to play had the Saints had a game last week. Thankfully, they didn’t, and Graham should be able to suit up this week. If he can’t, Kyle Rudolph owners who plugged him in for Graham and got burned last week might want to consider Ben Watson as a replacement. For the Bills, Fred Jackson gets the must-start treatment, as he seems to be out-touching CJ Spiller. Either Spiller’s more hurt than he’s letting on, or Coach Doug Marrone was blowing smoke up our asses when he said he’d feed the rock to Spiller until he throws up.
Prediction: Brees and company run the score up on Buffalo.
Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots
Comfortables: Tom Brady, Lamar Miller, Stevan Ridley, Mike Wallace, Julian Edelman, Charles Clay, Rob Gronkowski, New England Defense
Cautions: Ryan Tannehill, Daniel Thomas, Brian Hartline, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, Miami Defense
Casualties: LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden
Sleeper: Brandon Gibson
Every week I have to talk about the Miami Dolphins, and every week I have to talk about the ridiculous timeshare between Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas. And yes, this is coming from a frustrated Miller owner. He out-snapped Thomas last week, but not by much. I’m holding out faith that Miller can get more involved this week. As for the Pats’ backfield situation, it’s still Ridley’s, at least until Vereen comes back. Despite scoring last week, I don’t think Brandon Bolden warrants starting. It looks like Danny Amendola might be out another week with a concussion, so Julian Edelman remains a good starting bet, despite ceding targets to Gronk. I don’t like the rookies Dobson or Thompkins in this matchup. Miami’s secondary is actually pretty solid, and they still have problems with drops.
Prediction: New England rebounds from last week’s tough loss.
New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Comfortables: Eli Manning, Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, Victor Cruz, Reuben Randle, DeSean Jackson (if active)
Cautions: Brandon Jacobs (if active), Peyton Hillis (if Jacobs is inactive), Bryce Brown, Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Myers, Zach Ertz
Casualties: Mike Cox, Jason Avant, Brent Celek, Philadelphia Defense, New York Giants Defense
Sleeper: Riley Cooper
The Giants got a win! The Giants got a win! I don’t think it happens two weeks in a row, unfortunately. Mike Vick is coming back, and he’s notoriously a Giant killer. Even though he got hurt in their previous matchup, he was torching the Jints before that. I’ve moved Hakeem Nicks from a comfortable to a caution. He gets the targets, but he’s got a serious case of the dropsies. Reuben Randle has performed admirably in picking up the slack. Like Terrance Williams, he’s moved into every-week start territory. DeSean Jackson got hurt last week, but it looks like he will play. Keep monitoring his situation this week.
Prediction: Philly’s offense picks back up and cuts the Giants’ winning streak off at 1.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Comfortables: Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Anquan Boldin, Cecil Shorts, Justin Blackmon, Vernon Davis, San Francisco Defense
Cautions: Kendall Hunter
Casualties: All Jaguars Except Shorts and Blackmon (including Defense), Anthony Dixon, LaMichael James, Quinton Patton
Sleeper: Mario Manningham (if active)
By the way, how rough has the Jags schedule been? Despite being an awful team, they have to play the NFC and AFC West, which are two powerhouse divisions at the moment. And instead of hosting San Fran, who would be at a disadvantage by traveling across the country, they BOTH have to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to play the game in Jolly Ol’ London. I’ll make it easy for you regarding the Jags. Shorts and Blackmon. No MJD, no Henne, no nothing. Shorts and Blackmon. Yes, I know MJD can poach a goal-line score if they get down there (he did it in Seattle). Kaepernick finally showed signs of being fast on his feet last week, which will open up the passing game more now that defenses are forced to respect his running ability. I like Boldin and Davis this week, especially Vern.
Prediction: Niners put on a show across the pond.
Cleveland Browns vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Comfortables: Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles, Josh Gordon, Dwayne Bowe, Jordan Cameron, Kansas City Defense
Cautions: Jason Campbell, Willis McGahee, Chris Ogbannaya (in PPR format), Donnie Avery, Cleveland Defense
Casualties: Knile Davis, Greg Little, Davone Bess, Shaun McGrath
Sleeper: Fozzy Whitaker
Is the Chiefs’ 7-0 record all smoke and mirrors? They’ve certainly benefited from an easy schedule. It gets easier with Jason Campbell rolling into town making his first start, although Case Keenum played pretty well in his first start last week. I would have felt better about the Chiefs D with turnover machine Brandon Weeden at the helm, but even with him benched, I don’t think Campbell will be able to get his mind right going into Arrowhead to face an undefeated team without a single start this year. Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron still remain the every week starts, with everybody else ranging from a caution to a casualty. An interesting name to tuck away is Fozzy Whitaker, who came out of nowhere last week and got some carries for the Browns. Maybe they’re seeing what they have with him? Only the bravest of the brave dare roll him out, but he’s certainly someone to monitor.
Prediction: Chiefs go to 8-0.
New York Jets vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Comfortables: Chris Ivory, Giovani Bernard, AJ Green, Cincinnati Defense
Cautions: Geno Smith, Andy Dalton, Bilal Powell, BenJarvis Green-Ellis, Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, Mohammad Sanu, Jeff Cumberland, New York Jets Defense
Casualties: Marvin Jones, Jermaine Gresham
Sleeper: Tyler Eifert
Jets lucky blah blah blah. I’m tired of talking about it. Chris Ivory got thrust into a workhorse role last week with Rex saying he was riding the hot hand, while Bilal Powell was left with a mere three carries. Who knows if the situation will change this week, but Ivory is a decent start as long as he remains healthy, and Powell is worth a stash in case he isn’t. I’m not convinced yet that Geno is the real deal for fantasy purposes. For Cincy’s side, you can really only comfortably roll with Gio, AJ, and the Bengal D.
Prediction: Cincy’s D stifles Geno and the Jets.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Oakland Raiders
Comfortables: Ben Roethlisberger, Terrelle Pryor, Le’Veon Bell, Darren McFadden (if active), Antonio Brown, Denarius Moore, Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Defense
Cautions: Marcel Reese (if McFadden is inactive), Emmanuel Sanders, Rod Streater, Oakland Defense
Casualties: Jonathan Dwyer, Felix Jones, Rashad Jennings, Mychal Rivera
This is Le’Veon Bell’s backfield, which certainly has rewarded the owners who stashed him early on. This was made evident by the Steelers cutting ties with Isaac Redman this week. I like all of the top Pittsburgh options this week, as it appears they’ve righted the ship a bit after going 0-4. I haven’t heard any injury updates on Darren McFadden, and maybe the Week 7 bye was good for him. If he can go, he should be started. Pitt’s run defense isn’t that great. I don’t like Denarius Moore that much with Ike Taylor playing great this year, but I think Pryor should be able to get him the ball.
Prediction: Steelers continue the winning streak on the road.
Washington Redskins vs. Denver Broncos
Comfortables: Robert Griffin III, Peyton Manning, Knowshown Moreno, Pierre Garcon, Demariyus Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Jordan Reed, Julius Thomas
Cautions: Alfred Morris, Roy Helu
Casualties: Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball, Leonard Hankerson, Washington Defense, Denver Defense
Sleeper: Aldrick Robinson
The Shanihanigans have returned! Roy Helu rushed for three touchdowns last week, angering Alfred Morris owners everywhere (although Morris was pretty productive himself). Denver’s run defense has been pretty stout so I think you have to start both with caution this week. Helu is a must-own handcuff for Morris owners, because if The Butler goes down, Helu has inherited a hefty workload in a great offense. Speaking of this offense, RG3 is back, baby! He’s finally been unleashed on the ground, and it’s making his fantasy owners very happy. We saw what Andrew Luck did with the awful Denver secondary last week, and I expect RG3 to do the same, especially if Peyton gets in a rhythm and the Skins have to play from behind. Aldrick Robinson becomes a nice deep sleeper. Jordan Reed has moved into every-week must-start territory as well.
Prediction: Denver gets back on the winning track and wins a shootout.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Arizona Cardinals
Comfortables: Matt Ryan, Steven Jackson (if active), Jacquizz Rodgers (if S-Jax is inactive), Andre Ellington, Harry Douglas, Larry Fitzgerald, Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Defense
Cautions: Carson Palmer, Rashard Mendenhall, Roddy White (if active), Michael Floyd, Arizona Defense
Casualties: Alphonso Smith, Stephan Taylor, Brian Robiskie, Andre Roberts, Rob Housler
Sleeper: Jason Snelling (if S-Jax is Inactive)
Julio Who? Roddy What? Harry Douglas performed admirably in relief of the injured star Falcon receivers to the tune of catching all seven of his targets for damn near 150 yards and a score. Opportunity knocked last week, and Douglas kicked the door down. Matt Ryan owners who were holding their breath nervously can breathe a small sigh of relief. Hopefully Steven Jackson can play because the Atlanta running backs have really thrived over the past few weeks, especially in the passing game. I’ve moved Andre Ellington up to a comfortable. Every week his touches increase. Like Gio Bernard on the Bengals, this is starting to become his backfield. Mendenhall’s still sticking around with getting touchdowns though. Larry Fitzgerald had 10 days to recuperate, so hopefully he puts in a better performance than last Thursday.
Prediction: Atlanta shuts down Carson Palmer and wins on the road.
Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Comfortables: Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, Adrian Peterson, Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin, Green Bay Defense
Cautions: Christian Ponder, James Jones (if active), Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph
Casualties: Jonathan Franklin, Toby Gerhart, Jerome Simpson, Cordarelle Patterson, Minnesota Defense
Sleeper: Andrew Quarless
Minnesota made the Giants look good. That’s all you need to know. AP is the only Viking you can start with confidence. Christian Ponder will start instead of the injured Josh Freeman, but it’s not much of an upgrade (Maybe Kyle Rudolph gets a bump…Maybe). All Packers are good to go (it might be too late in the schedule for you to roll the dice with James Jones unless you have Jennings or a Seahawk or Ram going on Monday). Andrew Quarless steps into Jermichael Finley’s old role, and while I won’t expect the same amount of targets Finley was used to, opportunity is everything.
Prediction: Pack rolls.
Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams
Comfortables: Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Defense
Cautions: Zac Stacy, Golden Tate, Sidney Rice, Zach Miller, St. Louis Defense
Casualties: All Rams Offensive Players Not Named Stacy, Robert Turbin, Christine Michael, Doug Baldwin
Sleeper: Percy Harvin (if active)
Percy Harvin is back practicing, and might be taken off the PUP list and cleared to play. If so, it will be quite the roll of the dice, but we all know the talent is there, and St. Louis’s defense isn’t intimidating enough for you to bench Percy as a precaution. Monitor his progress, and hope that you have one of the other Seahawk receivers or a Rams receiver to plug in if he’s inactive. Sam Bradford is out, Kellen Clemens is in, and Brady Quinn lurks in the shadows. You want no part of the Rams offense other than Zac Stacy. I’ve got serious buyer’s remorse with Tavon Austin right now. Even with Bradford in there he wasn’t producing.
Prediction: Seahawks dominate a second-straight Monday night laugher.
Good luck in Week 8, and remember, don’t hang onto the past!