July 25, 2014

Fantasy Football: Week 8 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

On to Week eight were jolly, ole England gets a taste of American football. I’m sure they will enjoy it. Well, probably not, but hey, we ship our NFL over there once a year whether they like it or not.

Let’s take a look at who to start and sit this week. Also, there are a couple of small changes to Survivor

Remember, I usually like to use Rotoworld’s rankings as a quick guide and then see where I can take advantage of lower or higher rankings. Follow along, as I read aloud. If you have questions, just leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter.

Bye week: Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals

Quarterback      

Up: Sam Bradford has a terrific matchup even if he’s playing in a country where football is played with one’s feet. The Patriots defense has given up three or more passing TDs in four of the last five weeks. In those five weeks, the lowest total passing yards was 298. I will go out on a limb and say that Bradford will be a top six QB this week – 300+ yards and at least three TDs. Start him with confidence.

Brandon Weeden seems to end up on this list each week. He faces a Chargers defense that gave up 35 points in the second half to the Denver Broncos two weeks ago. I do not trust that the Chargers coaching staff has figured out the defenses issues. Weeden isn’t Peyton Manning (he might not even be Cooper Manning), but he’s established himself as a solid bye week option. With Trent Richardson less than 100%, the Browns could look to Weeden to carry the offensive load. I’d move Weeden into the top 12 and would start him over Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton.

Carson Palmer faces the mighty Kansas City Chiefs on the road. The Chiefs have been solid against second and third tier QBs this year. However, I see Palmer having a chance to sneak into the top 10 this week as Darren McFadden continues to look like he won’t be able to run effectively in the new blocking system.

Josh Freeman looked good again this week in the Thursday night’s game against the Vikings. This isn’t a note to start him of course, but his schedule looks solid for the remainder of the season. In a keeper league this week, I dealt Marshawn Lynch (who I couldn’t keep for him. I like him a lot for the rest of the season as a consistent top 12 performer.

Down: Cam Newton needs to get healthy. The Chicago Bears’ defense is not one on which to get healthy. Newton should likely not be started in most leagues. I see him continuing to struggle and like him to finish outside of the top 15.

Andrew Luck on the road is not Andrew Luck at home.  While his matchup is very attractive against the Titans, I think he struggles on the road this week as the Titans will attempt to control the clock and run the ball as much as they can. I see him ending up on the cusp of the top 12.

Matthew Stafford against the Seahawks? No thanks. You should be able to find a viable option on the waiver wire this week. I’d rather have any of the options above in my “Up” section than Stafford.

Running back

Up: Giants RBsThis is the Cowboys first game without stud ILB Sean Lee. As a result, the Giants should have ample room to run. Ahmad Bradshaw is a must start even with his lingering foot injury. However, that foot injury makes Andre Brown and David Wilson (in return yardage leagues only) flex plays this week. I think Bradshaw will be given breaks and Brown and Wilson will have more chances than usual.

Alex Green has a great matchup this week, but he’s only ranked at #30. He’s a clear top 20 RB this week in my opinion as I believe the Packers will “spread the love”

The matchup says it may be tough, but I think Felix Jones will have a successful day against the Giants. The Giants have some injuries on defense to contend with and I think the Cowboys will want to establish the run to try to control the clock a bit and hopefully sweep the Giants. I see him in the top 15 as the Giants have given up nearly 100 yards per game this season to RBs.

Down: Jonathan Stewart is going to be the starting RB for the Carolina Panthers for the rest of the season in my opinion. We may see other changes on offense as well now that Marty Hurney was fired as GM of the Panthers. However, Stewart will struggle in his matchup with the Bears. This is probably the last chance you have to buy Stewart (he’s likely on your waiver wire somehere). I’d grab him this week and stash him as I can see him being a low end RB2/high end flex for the rest of the season.

Look! Darren McFadden has another great matchup this week against the Chiefs. He won’t take advantage of it (again!) He’s a flex option only for me this week.

Frank Gore will fall outside of the top 20 this week against the Cardinals. He’s starting to pick up some nagging injuries each week so I think his snap count will be down beyond the tough matchup he has.

Jonathan Dwyer gets another start for the Steelers, but it’s against a Redskins defense which has been solid against the run. I’d rather start a player like Alex Green over him. If you start Dwyer, do not expect a big game from him.

Wide Receiver

Up: You don’t need me to tell you, but get your Steelers WRs (Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace) and Broncos WRs (Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and even Brandon Stokley in deeper leagues) into your lineups. They both have great matchups.

Brian Hartline is ranked at #36, but with the Dolphins coming off a bye, I think they may have found new ways to get him the ball. The Jets do struggle in coverage against non WR1s according to Football Outsiders. I don’t think the Jets will key Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on Hartline so he’ll have his chances this week. I see Hartline as a flex option (top 25) in most leagues especially PPR.

St. Louis Rams WRs – The Patriots continue to make passing offenses look like the old run ‘n shoot. Both Chris Givens and Brandon Gibson are top 25 options for me this week. I can see each hauling in a TD and should have five receptions and 80 yards as well.

In deeper leagues (especially PPR) I like Ryan Broyles. I know the Seahawks have a great secondary, but I think Young can find some holes as the third WR in the lineup. Based on Football Outsiders’ rankings, the Seahawks aren’t quite as good (but still better than league average) against other WRs.

I get the feeling that Cecil Shorts has a TD in him today. The Packers have lost a couple of DBs this week and Shorts just seems to be a guy who takes advantage of coverage mistakes at least once a game. He’s a desperation flex play.

Down:  Jordy Nelson didn’t struggle last week as predicted. However, he’s got a nagging hamstring injury so watch his status prior to game time. He’s now a much riskier play as he could be hampered if he does play and also has a chance of re-injuring the hamstring. If he starts, he’s a must play, but he may not be 100%. (Ed: Looks like Nelson will not play which makes Randall Cobb, James Jones and even Donald Driver great plays this week).

Let’s try this again this week. Dez Bryant is hurting (when isn’t he) and he faces an improved Giants secondary. They do lose Kenny Phillips this week (which I think helps Jason Witten a bit), but I still think the Cowboys will limit the targets for Bryant this week. He’s too risky for me.

Larry Fitzgerald will continue to struggle again this week. I see him outside of the top 25 in scoring as John Skelton will be harassed all day by the 49ers defense. I might think about sitting him if you have better options on your bench. He’s a tough guy to sit, but his performance this week is quite risky.

Tight End

Up: Anthony Fasano faces the fourth worst defense against TEs with respect to fantasy points. Coming off a bye I think the Dolphins will attempt to exploit that weakness. I see Fasano as a top 12 TE this week.

If the Carolina Panthers are paying any attention, they might try to target Greg Olsen. The Bears have been relatively generous to TEs this year. And, if the Panthers really want to attempt to simplify things against the Bears I can see them trying to run a bit more and targeting short and intermediate routes against the Bears. It’s a risk, but Olsen could sneak into the top eight of TEs this week.

Joel Dreesen is a great pickup for those waiting out Jimmy Graham’s status. He plays in the Sunday night against Graham’s Saints and would be an easy plug and play option. I’d rather him over Jacob Tamme or Graham’s replacement David Thomas.

Down: Vernon Davis laid an egg last week. Many sites are predicting a bounce back for him this week. I do not see it. The Cardinals have an athletic set of linebackers who can cover Davis. Moreover, the defense can get to the QB so Davis may be called upon to block more. I see Davis outside of the top 12 in TE scoring.

Our weekly “Who are Tennessee Titans facing?” update is the Indianapolis Colts. However, I’ve moved this weekly feature to the ‘down’ section for two reasons. One, it looks like the Titans have started to control TEs better. Two, even if the Titans don’t cover well enough, I’m not sure we can predict who between Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen will benefit. I think either is fine as a bye week replacement, but I think the chances of a zero are just as high as the chances of a ten out of either of them.

I don’t see Jacob Tamme as starting material this week even against the Saints. In fact, I’m not sure Tamme has to be rostered in any league at this point. He hasn’t shown any consistency and Peyton Manning has many other weapons at his disposal.

Finally, a note, in case you had not seen the news, but Aaron Hernandez is out this week for the Patriots game against the Rams in London. This should mean more targets for Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker.

Oh, cut Jermichael Finley. Just another reminder. I don’t care that Jordy Nelson is out this week.

Defense

Up: I like the Tennessee Titans as a top 12 option this week. The Colts have shown they will struggle on the road and I think the Titans can win this game and give Andrew Luck problems. The Colts don’t have a reliable running game so the Titans may be able to force them into a one-dimensional game.

In deep leagues, I think the Panthers could be an option as the Bears do not have an explorsive offense. I don’t see any way the Panthers win the game, but the Bears aren’t made to score 3o points. If you are desperate, I can see a couple of sacks, a couple of turnovers and about 21 points scored against for the Panthers.

Down: The New York Giants have a couple of injuries on defense. Moreover, Tony Romo performs extremely well against the Giants. He’s thrown 26 TDs over 13 games and completed nearly 67% of his passes. I see Romo putting up some statistics and Giants falling out of the top 12.

Survivor

Week seven saw a huge scare from the New England Patriots. The Pats won (and likely didn’t deserve to) so most pool members are still swimming. I was wrong about leaning away from the Packers as they certainly do look all the way back. We’ve got another big favorite this week. And who you choose might depend on whether your pool has been going since Week one or it is a ‘restart’ pool. I’m on a train heading to Philadelphia so this one will be short.

My updates from my Thursday column are in bold below. No changes in the rankings, but a couple of updated game notes and a thank you to a reader.

Bye week: Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals

Survivor Pool – Week 8 selections

Thanks to reader Max Garfield for the suggestion to move away from ESPN and add Yahoo! into the article. Yahoo! is much more representative of the present choices than the ESPN pool which allows you to choose teams weeks in advance. Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of early Sunday morning:

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Pool

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1

Packers

57.70%

1

Green Bay

48.31%

2

Bears

14.70%

2

Chicago

20.15%

3

Vikings (L)

9.20%

3

Minnesota (L)

11.02%

4

Patriots

5.80%

4

New England

6.42%

5

Broncos

2.50%

5

San Diego

5.34%

6

Chargers

2.40%

6

San Francisco

2.85%

7

49ers

2.40%

7

Denver

1.39%

8

Titans

1.50%

8

Pittsburgh

0.93%

9

Steelers

1.20%

9

Tennessee

0.72%

10

Jets

0.80%

10

New York (NYJ)

0.59%

 

The Green Bay Packers are this week’s only double digit favorite and they are going to be hard to pass up for most players. Are there other options with more risk, but a better payoff? The ESPN numbers seemed skewed and I may stop using them after this week. I believe players enter multiple weeks and then when they lose they never go back to change anything.

My early picks for this week are below (my final column will be up Sunday):

  1. Green Bay Packers – This week, I’ll err on the side of caution after recommending the Minnesota Vikings last week as my top pick. The Packers should have no issues with a Jacksonville Jaguar team lead by a one-armed QB (or perhaps even worse Chad Henne) and Rashad Jennings. My feelings do not change even if Jordy Nelson is out. I give the Packers an 88% chance of winning this matchup.
  2. Chicago Bears – The Bears defense is impenetrable. They do have a short week, but I don’t think Cam Newton will be able to overcome that defense. Newton seems to have regressed (and taken the Panthers offense with it). The Panthers also lost their top cover corner to IR this week in Chris Gamble. I give the Bears a 79% chance of winning.
  3. Denver Broncos – The Saints are a bad team. They are one dimensional and may be without Jimmy Graham again. If Graham starts, I’ll likely move the Broncos down, but the Broncos defense is solid enough to stop Drew Brees a couple of times. And Peyton Manning and Willis McGahee should have no problems with the Saints defense. I give the Broncos a 75% chance of winning.
  4. Philadelphia Eagles – If you want to be bold, take the Eagles. No one is on them in any pool. But they are coming off a bye (as is their opponent Atlanta). Andy Reid has never (13-0!) lost after a bye week. The Falcons looked shaky before the bye and I have to believe the Eagles have a bit more at stake than the undefeated Falcons. I give the Eagles a 67% chance of winning the game.

Other teams I like early in the week: San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings (though I’m concerned with Christian Ponder’s injury) (The Vikings lost on Thursday so hopefully no one went this deep).

As for the avoid list, I’d lean away from the New England Patriots on the road against the Rams. I know it’s a road game for both as they are in London, but that doesn’t change my analysis. Nor does the chance that Danny Amendola will play as I don’t think there is a better than 10% chance he’ll play and even if he does I imagine he will be a decoy.

The Patriots are not the Patriots of the last decade. They have a porous pass defense which should allow Sam Bradford to throw to whomever he wants, whenever he wants. I think the Rams have a decent shot at winning this game and I wouldn’t want to touch the Patriots again.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d take the Miami Dolphins. Coming off a bye, I think their defense can handle the Jets.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at 
@chrisgarosi

 

 

%d bloggers like this: