Sometimes you just get lucky. In the TJR fantasy league, I was playing fellow writer Michael Ryne. On my bench were Vincent Jackson, Randall Cobb, Rashad Jennings and Santana Moss. My bench completely outscored my starters 96 to 85. And I still managed to get a three-point win over Ryne thanks to some last-minute Robbie Gould heroics on Monday night.
Sometimes you just get lucky.
On to Week 8! Your bye weeks belong to the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills, so this week will be NFC-heavy. No Ray Rice, Arian Foster, Fred Jackson, CJ Spiller and BenJarvis Green-Ellis, plus no DeMarco Murray or MJD due to injury means a lot of patchwork at the running back position, but I think the amount of patchwork RBs (Felix Jones, Rashad Jennings, Vick Ballard, Alex Green, LaRod Stephens-Howling) is pretty deep and could contribute mightily to the fantasy scoreboard in Week 8.
Let’s get to it!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Comfortables: Christian Ponder, Doug Martin, Adrian Peterson, Vincent Jackson, Percy Harvin, Minnesota Defense
Cautions: Josh Freeman, Mike Williams, Kyle Rudolph, Tampa Bay Defense
Casualties: LeGarrette Blount, Toby Gerhart, Jerome Simpson
Sleeper: Dallas Clark
What a day the Bucs had last week against the Saints. That 95-yard non-scoring play was crazy. Note to Greg Schiano…don’t give it to LeGarrette Blount near the goal line anymore. I expect Doug Martin will continue to do well, even against a stout Vikings D. I don’t know what the hell happened to Kyle Rudolph last week, but he ruined one of my fantasy teams. I don’t think Ponder even threw a pass his way, so it’s not all his fault, but it’s certainly troubling that he’s not getting targeted. He can’t throw and catch the passes himself [/Giselle]. For Minny, the only safe bets are to roll with AP and Percy.
Prediction: The Vikings win again at home as Josh Freeman’s magic doesn’t follow him to Minnesota.
Carolina Panthers vs. Chicago Bears
Comfortables: Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Michael Bush, Brandon Marshall, Chicago Defense
Cautions: Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Steve Smith, Earl Bennett, Kellen Davis
Casualties: Mike Tolbert, Khalil Bell, Brandon LaFell, Louis Murphy, Carolina Defense
Sleeper: Devin Hester
Cam Newton once again showed why he is no leader and a one-year fluke. He was real cryptic, but he basically threw his coaches and his teammates under the bus in a post-game news conference after his team lost (again) to drop their record to 1-5. Now they have to go to Chicago? Against a Bears defense that ate Tony Romo for lunch a couple weeks ago and just held Matthew Stafford to one touchdown? Forget about it. Cam’s most certainly a sit in this one. I’m being generous by listing him as a caution. It must be nice to be DeAngelo Williams. You get paid millions of dollars and only receive two carries last week. Anyway, enjoy starting all your Bears, including Michael Bush, who I think will get some close-range TDs and some garbage time work. I expect this to be a blowout. I even think Devin Hester will break one. He’s overdue.
Prediction: The Bears destroy the Panthers, and Newton whines and complains some more.
San Diego Chargers vs. Cleveland Browns
Comfortables: Philip Rivers, Ryan Matthews, Trent Richardson (if active), Malcolm Floyd, Josh Gordon, Antonio Gates, San Diego Defense
Cautions: Brandon Weeden, Jackie Battle, Montario Hardesty, Robert Meachem, Benjamin Watson
Casualties: Ronnie Brown, Chris Ogbannaya, Greg Little, Josh Cribbs, Mohammad Massaquoi, Cleveland Defense
Sleeper: Vincent Brown (if active)
The Chargers need this game after being shocked at home two weeks ago by Peyton Manning. Even though I have to give them kudos for hanging tough week after week, the Browns just don’t know how to win games when it matters. All starting San Diego options are good to go, including Antonio Gates, who FINALLY had that breakout game all of his owners were looking for. As for Browns options, you can add Josh Gordon to the list, which now makes two Browns worth starting. Trent Richardson owners must be pulling their hair out, as they have to wait out a week and monitor his practice, knowing that even if he’s active, he might get pulled early in the game like he was last week (which I was grateful for, having to play him in two leagues). Note to deep leaguers, Chargers WR Vincent Brown comes off mid-season IR this week, so he might be worth a roster spot in 16-team leagues.
Predictions: The Chargers bounce back and win at Cleveland, as the Browns’ woes continue.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Detroit Lions
Comfortables: Matthew Stafford, Marshawn Lynch, Mikel LeShoure, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Defense
Cautions: Russell Wilson, Golden Tate, Sidney Rice, Titus Young, Seattle Defense
Casualties: Robert Turbin, Joique Bell, Kevin Smith, Doug Baldwin, Braylon Edwards, Anthony McCoy
Sleeper: Ryan Broyles
The Seattle Seahawks are a tale of two teams: damn-near invincible at home, punchless on the road. They only have one road win, and that was against hapless Carolina. I don’t imagine things change here against a Lions team that’ll be at home and pissed off after losing a close game to the Bears last Monday. The only Seahawk worth starting is Beast Mode. Nate Burleson is out with a broken leg, so the normally unreliable Titus Young should see an uptick in targets, as well as Ryan Broyles, who came out of nowhere to score a TD last Monday. He warrants sleeper appeal.
Prediction: The Lions bounce back and roll at home.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Green Bay Packers
Comfortables: Aaron Rodgers, Rashad Jennings, Alex Green, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Green Bay Defense
Cautions: Greg Jennings (if active), James Jones, Jermichael Finley
Casualties: Jacksonville Starting QB, James Starks, All Jacksonville Pass-Catchers, Donald Driver, Jacksonville Defense
Sleeper: Montell Owens
This has all the makings of a blowout, so much so that I believe this could also qualify as a trap game. I’ll pick the more likely outcome and say that all starting Packers should be started in fantasy. I really should put a hex on Jordy Nelson, as the fantasy gods have decided to smite me by having to play against him in all three of my money leagues. Of course he’s going to go off. Greg Jennings, come back soon! Still though, Randall Cobb, not James Jones, was the primary benefactor from another Jennings scratch last week. Alex Green also did very well, so those who started him last week should feel free to do so again. The only Jag worth starting is Rashad Jennings, who I stupidly cut only this week after holding onto him, figuring MJD would be healthy all year. D’oh. MJD owners need to pick him up off waivers (if I don’t beat them to him first).
Prediction: Green Bay wins comfortably as Aaron Rodgers throws for 15 TDs, all of them to Jordy Nelson.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans
Comfortables: Andrew Luck, Matt Hasslebeck, Vick Ballard, Chris Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Kenny Britt
Cautions: Donnie Avery, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Coby Fleener, Jared Cook, Indianapolis Defense, Tennessee Defense
Casualties: Delone Carter, Mewelde Moore, Darius Reynaud, T.Y. Hilton, Damian Williams, Dwayne Allen
Sleeper: Jamie Harper
To those of you who bought low on Chris Johnson and acquired him from a team who’s all but eliminated, kudos to you! Those who stuck with CJ2K, nice work last week, but did it really matter in the grand scheme of things? I think this is going to be a shootout, but I have no idea who will benefit, other than the six names I have listed as Comfortables (yes, even Hasslebeck!). The rest…your bet is as good as mine.
Prediction: Upset special (although not really), Indy wins on the road.
New England Patriots vs. St. Louis Rams
Comfortables: Tom Brady, Stevan Ridley, Steven Jackson, Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker, Daniel Gibson, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski
Cautions: Sam Bradford, Brandon Bolden (if active), Daryl Richardson, Lance Kendricks, New England Defense
Casualties: Danny Woodhead, Deion Branch, Julian Edelman, St. Louis Defense
Sleeper: Shane Vereen
Brandon Lloyd, this is your last chance. He is absolutely torpedoing two of my fantasy teams, as it’s obvious he’s playing at less than 100% and hasn’t developed the chemistry with Brady yet. If he can’t get it done against his old team (thus dispelling my theory about guys playing against their former team for the first time), then I might have to cut ties and test the market with him.
Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets
Comfortables: Reggie Bush, Miami Defense, New York Jets Defense
Cautions: Ryan Tannehill, Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene (if active), Brian Hartline, Davone Bess, Jeremy Kerley, Anthony Fasano, Dustin Keller
Casualties: Daniel Thomas, Lamar Miller, Bilal Powell (if active), Stephen Hill, Chaz Schillens, Jason Hill
Sleeper: Joe McKnight
Last time these two teams faced off I didn’t want to write anything. The feeling hasn’t left for this go-around. Both teams aren’t nearly as bad as everybody expected them to be at the start of this season.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Comfortables: Matt Ryan, Michael Vick, Michael Turner, LeSean McCoy, Roddy White, Julio Jones, DeSean Jackson, Tony Gonzalez, Brent Celek, Atlanta Defense
Cautions: Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Defense
Casualties: Jacquizz Rodgers, Bryce Brown, Harry Douglas, Jason Avant
Sleeper: Nick Foles
This is my vote for game of the week. Something has to give. It’s the Falcons unbeaten streak vs. Andy Reid’s 13-year unbeaten streak for games coming after the Eagles’s bye week. I expect an offensive explosion. Yes, even Michael Vick is worth starting this time around! But juuuuuust in case Vick lays another egg, everybody better be running to the waiver wire next week because Nick Foles may get an opportunity! I’m going back and forth on whether the Atlanta defense will have a good game, because I expect this to be a shootout, but at the same time, you have to start the defense playing Michael Vick because of the juicy turnovers. I’m stumped on this one, folks.
Prediction: Andy Reid’s streak comes to an end (along with his job tenure at the end of the year!) and the Falcons continue to stay unbeaten!
Washington Redskins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Comfortables: Robert Griffin III, Ben Roethlisberger, Alfred Morris, Rashard Mendenhall (if active), Santana Moss, Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace, Heath Miller
Cautions: Isaac Redman (if active), Pierre Garcon (if active), Pittsburgh Defense
Casualties: Evan Royster, Ryan Grant, Jonathan Dwyer (if Mendenhall and Redman are active), Aldrick Robinson, Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan, Emmanuel Sanders, Logan Paulsen, Washington Defense
Sleeper: Chris Cooley
Lotta injured folks in this game. If either Mendenhall or Redman can play, thanks for coming, Jonathan Dwyer. All starting Steelers should be good to go against a porous Washington defense, even Mike Wallace, who might be in the doghouse for his untimely drops last Sunday night. For Redskins offensive options outside of RG3 and Alfred Morris, I would be wary of starting Pierre Garcon even if he was active (and I need to badly!). Santana Moss has filled in nicely, and I think he’s a safe bet to start. The Pittsburgh D, with or without Troy Polamalu, isn’t what it used to be. I think we’re going to see another shootout.
Prediction: Big Ben leads Pittsburgh to a win at home.
Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Comfortables: Darren McFadden, Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Oakland Defense
Cautions: Carson Palmer, Brandon Myers, Kansas City Defense
Casualties: Brady Quinn, Mike Goodson, Taiwan Jones, Shaun Draughn, Rod Streater, Jonathan Baldwin, Tony Moeaki
Sleeper: Dexter McCluster
Brady Quinn is a gift from the fantasy football gods. Go get the Oakland Defense if it’s available! Get it right now! Yeah, outside of DMC and J-Mail, as well as the Garbage King Dwayne Bowe, steer clear of either offense. When did the AFC West turn into the NFC West? I have McCluster down as a sleeper because I figure Quinn’s going to need a lot of help on the running side of things.
Prediction: Oakland’s D gobbles up Quinn and the Raiders win another close one.
New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
Comfortables: Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Martellus Bennett, Jason Witten, New York Giants Defense
Cautions: Andre Brown, Felix Jones, Domenik Hixon
Casualties: David Wilson, Philip Tanner, Reuben Randle, Ramses Barden
Sleeper: Kevin Ogletree
Revenge time! The Cowboys will be favored being at home, so of course the Giants are going to dismantle them. I envision the bad game from Tony Romo that I thought he was going to have Week 1. He’s an automatic start in the Bad Quarterback League I’ve got going on at Grantland. Felix Jones put up respectable RB2 numbers last week, although that wasn’t going to be enough for DeMarco Murray owners who needed him as a replacement (ahem). Murray is trying to make it for this game, but I’d stay away from the Dallas running game entirely. All passing options from either team are in play, as I expect both Eli and Tony to come out firing. Maybe we’ll even see Olgetree: The Return?
Prediction: The G-Men avenge their Week 1 loss and beat the Cowboys in JerryWorld.
New Orleans Saints vs. Denver Broncos
Comfortables: Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Darren Sproles, Willis McGahee, Marques Colston, Eric Decker, Demariyus Thomas, Jimmy Graham (if active)
Cautions: Pierre Thomas, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson, Brandon Stokley, David Thomas (if Graham is inactive)
Casualties: Mark Ingram, Randal Hallman, Lance Ball, Knowshown Moreno, Jacob Tamme, New Orleans Defense, Denver Defense
Sleeper: Joel Dreessen
Say, do you like defense? You won’t find any here. Lots of throwing will be going on here. I love all offensive starting options in this game. I even like the third throwing options as sneaky flex plays. I’m a bitter former Jacob Tamme owner who has made the switch to Joel (Salad) Dreessen. Manning is looking to him, not Tamme, to score the TDs from the Tight End position.
Prediction: Denver wins 63-56.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals
Comfortables: Frank Gore, Larry Fitzgerald, Vernon Davis, San Francisco Defense
Cautions: Alex Smith, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Michael Crabtree, Andre Roberts, Arizona Defense
Casualties: John Skelton, LaMichael James, Brandon Jacobs, Anthony Dixon, William Powell, Alphonso Smith, Mario Manningham, Randy Moss, Todd Heap (if active)
Sleeper: Kendall Hunter
On one hand, I’m glad these NFC West games are getting primetime coverage because the division is the best in football. On the other hand, these defensive battles can be a tad boring to watch for the fan who is used to the exciting Packers/Saints/Patriots/Giants method of running up the score. I think I’ll rather watch wrestling while occasionally checking the score to see how people are doing. I don’t like any Cardinal offensive option outside of Larry Fitzgerald, and that’s only because you have to start him. Helter Skelton is not going to get the job done.
Prediction: It won’t be pretty, but the 49ers will get another tough win and continue their dominance on the road.
So for those that want to pay attention, there are 15 QBs, 25 RBs, 11 tight ends, and 12 defenses worth starting. Unfortunately, only 27 wide receivers look like starting options, which means in 10-team leagues, some teams are going to be hurting for options.
Remember to follow me on Twitter @PocketSeagull, and good luck in Week 8!