Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who's Hot and Who's Not for Week 8

It's week 8 and the following teams have a bye: Cincinnati, Kansas City, New England, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington.  You'll need to replace some strong quarterbacks in Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, and Big Ben Roethlisberger.  Also riding the pine this week are running backs Rashard Mendenhall and Cedric Benson, along with big receiving names Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Dwayne Bowe, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Mike Wallace, Chad Ochocinco...well, the list is pretty deep this week with tight ends included as well.  You'll be looking for some strong alternatives, and I've got 'em for you.

Start 'Em!


Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. Cleveland

The Cleveland Browns have really only managed to stop Trent Edwards this year and obviously that's not really saying much.  With continuing morality issues, the Puppies of Ohio will suffer against the cannon-armed Cutler, who will take hefty advantage of the talent of Greg Olsen and speed of Devin Hester.  In addition, the Bears need a win lopsided victory to not end any possible bid they could have for the playoffs.  When the stakes are high, Cutler will surely toss an interception or two, but a three touchdown performance is more than possible, it's likely, as the Bears can no longer rely on the previously exceptional Matt Forte (though this game will likely help pad his stats as well).

The Line: 35 attempts, 23 completions, 257 yards passing, 3 passing touchdowns, 2 interceptions

David Garrard (JAC) vs. Tennessee

Garrard has not had a stellar season and no one is looking to send him to the Pro Bowl, but his week four performance against the Titans was certainly eye-opening for matchup plays.  If you're keeping Garrard on your bench, play him this week, then drop him in favor of Jamaal Charles or Beanie Wells.  He's not the most reliable quarterback this year, but he should repeat his performance against the worst pass defense in the league.  With Maurice Jones-Drew crushing across the turf, Garrard will be able to throw unhindered to his strong duo of Mike Sims-Walker and Torry Holt.  A rushing touchdown even seems plausible as well.

The Line: 32 attempts, 25 completions, 285 yards passing, 2 passing touchdowns, 3 carries, 15 yards

Running Backs:

Beanie Wells (ARI) vs. Carolina

It's obvious now that Wells is the more talented part of the Arizona backfield and deserves more carries going forward.  This week, he and Hightower will split carries against Carolina's paltry run defense that ranks 26th in the league in yards against and the defense overall surrenders 24.2 points per game, 23rd in the league.  If Wells sees the same involvment as Hightower in the passing game, then it could be an even better outing for the rookie, who is part of an excellent crop of backs this year competing for the top jobs on their teams and rightfully so.  After last week's strong outing against the Giants, Wells should be getting much more attention from the coaching staff going forward, starting with this week.

The Line: 13 carries, 61 yards rushing, 1 rushing touchdown, 3 receptions, 10 yards

Kevin Smith (DET) vs. St. Louis

He's up against the St. Louis Rams, coming off of a bye week and Matthew Stafford won't be back just yet.  This is all good news for the second year rusher, who is an unsung workhorse amongst starting backs this year.  The last challenge he faced was the Steelers defense, which will mean that running amongst the Rams will seem like a much-needed joy ride.  In this week's "Clash of the Insignificants," Smith should thrive and be well-utilized against the team giving up the 6th most yards to opposing backfields and 3rd most points to their opposition.  Start Smith in most all formats and he will yield strong results.

The Line: 22 carries, 78 yards rushing, 2 rushing touchdowns

Wide Receivers:

Malcolm Floyd (SD) vs. Oakland

Floyd seems to be a well-kept secret for the Chargers.  He's only got nine receptions this season, but he's got 187 yards, giving him 20.8 average yards per catch.  Against the mediocre Raiders, he could see another couple of receptions for solid yards and there's no reason that once the game becomes a blowout that he won't grab a touchdown to boot.  The Oakland corners are a respectable bunch, but they will have trouble against the 6-foot-5 Floyd, whose size matches that of Brandon Marshall and Vincent Jackson.  Expect start-worthy numbers in 12+ team leagues.

The Line: 3 receptions, 64 yards receiving, 1 receiving touchdown

Torry Holt (JAC) vs. Tennessee

Mike Sims-Walker has been the big story this year for Jacksonville, but Holt is still averaging 67.8 yards per game.  Against the Tennessee pass defense, just about anything is possible and Holt is sure to benefit against the team that is allowing the most yards per game through the air and the most points per game.  Even with a bye week to figure things out, the Titans won't be rebounding from their lackluster defensive performances anytime soon.  Holt is available in 38 percent of Yahoo! standard leagues, so if you own him, start and if you don't pick him up to fill in for this week.  It will be a worthwhile investment for week eight.

The Line: 7 receptions, 85 yards receiving

Tight End:

Brandon Pettigrew (DET) vs. St. Louis

This rookie tight end is definitely part of Detroit's future.  Like his teammate above, Pettigrew has the wonderful matchup against St. Louis and that is nothing but good great phenomenal for opposing offenses.  The young offense of the Lions is evolving together, with Calvin Johnson, Kevin Smith, Matthew Stafford and Pettigrew being a large part of that, though Stafford should continue to be sidelined this week, with the coaching staff being cautious and understandably so.  This week, if the Lions want to win, they should do their best to get the ball to Pettigrew more than a few times and Daunte Culpepper should do just that, so if you're looking for a strong matchup play to rock your flex slot or tight end zone in deeper formats, sweep this youngster up off of the waiver wire right away.

The Line: 6 receptions, 70 yards receiving, 1 receiving touchdown

Defense/Special Teams:

Arizona Cardinals vs. Carolina

Arizona's defense started strong against the run coming out of the gate, but they have come into their own against the pass in the past couple of weeks.  Assuming Jake Delhomme's starts for Carolina, a pick six is always possible for the Cardinals and a couple of interceptions almost seem certain.  With a strong run defense already in place, it's possible that the Panthers will yet again make the mistake of relying on Jake the Fake, giving ample opportunities for turnovers.

The Line: 14 points allowed, 3 interceptions, 2 sacks

Sit 'Em...


Matt Hasselbeck (SEA) vs. Arizona

We've seen him throw four touchdown passes one week and then goes 10-for-29 with one interception the following week against Arizona.  Obviously, times are tough for the 34 year old passer.  This week he's against the Cowboys, who are going to look to improve on their victory from last week.  The pressure will be on for Hasselbeck, whose offensive line is in shambles, much like the Rams offensive line last year.  Again the case concerns the absolute lack of reliability, which will be no good against the pass rush of DeMarcus Ware, who just received an extremely lucrative contract extension.  Hasselbeck may even leave the game with an injury after being pummeled over and over again.

The Line: 39 attempts, 20 completions, 192 yards passing, 1 passing touchdown, 2 interceptions

Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. Dallas

If you see the Falcons' receiving corps flinch after each catch this week, you can blame it on the crushing hits of the Dallas secondary, who had some of the scarier legal hits in the past weeks against Atlanta last week.  This week, Ryan faces down the New York Giants, who allow the fewest yards per game and the second fewest yards per game through the air.  They aren't about to let another Drew Brees incident happen and will look to put a stop to Roddy White.  While Tony Gonzalez may prove mildly effective, it will have to be Michael Turner carrying much of the load if the Falcons want to win, leaving Ryan hanging.  Allow he is not the most turnover prone quarterback in the league, he still makes mistakes, and the Giants defense will be ready to take advantage of that fact.

The Line: 31 attempts, 18 completions, 202 yards passing, 1 passing touchdown, 1 interception

Running Backs:

Jamal Lewis (CLE) vs. Chicago

It's unlikely that you're starting Lewis, or even that you own him.  However, every week, a large enough number of owners take a risk on the Browns' running back.  He is absolutely unreliable in an offense that is incapable of getting any momentum.  It seems like every week, the Browns are getting picked on, but there is a strong reason why.  If you are one of the few who are considering playing Lewis, just drop him in favor of a player on a more productive offense.

The Line: 18 carries, 47 yards rushing, 1 reception, 6 yards receiving

Ryan Grant (GB) vs. Minnesota

Last week, Grant ran all over the Browns, one of the weakest defenses in the league.  This week, however, it will be a quarterbacking showdown and the Packers will have to rely on the arm of Aaron Rodgers to beat the Minnesota Vikings.  Grant's job will be clock management against a still-strong Vikings defense that may not be the best in the league, but is still more than capable of doing the job.  Grant will likely be tackled in the backfield a number of times and his yardage numbers will reflect the punishment.

The Line: 19 carries, 71 yards rushing

Wide Receivers:

Mario Manningham (NYG) vs. Philadelphia

Probably the most important factor towards benching Manningham this week has been Eli Manning's lackluster performances in the past two weeks.  He has just two touchdown passes and four interceptions over that period along with completing less than 50 percent of his passes.  Philadelphia has a strong secondary that is allowing the 9th fewest yards through the air.  Manningham's dropped touchdown pass last week will also cause Manning to look away from him and towards Hakeem Nicks.  Unless Manningham proves to be an unstoppable force against the secondary, expect him to post rather meager numbers this week.

The Line: 2 receptions, 34 yards receiving

Braylon Edwards (NYJ) vs. Miami

Though he is a talented receiver, Edwards has a lot going on off the field, including potential jail time courtesy of a minor assault charge.  This week the distraction won't help against a young, but talented, group of Miami corners.  Though they are giving up the 14th most passing yards per game, Miami showed their eagerness to get to the ball and Edwards' slippery hands could create a couple of interception chances.  Though always a potential end zone target, he is probably better replaced with a more reliable receiver.

The Line: 3 receptions, 39 yards receiving

Defense/Special Teams:

New York Jets vs. Miami

Miami's double-dragon running attack of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams will crush the Jets into submission, forcing them to put eight in the box and leaving a little room for Chad Henne to operate.  Though Henne may not post big numbers against the strong secondary, it won't be a big day for the defense.  They'll have to deal with the formidable Wildcat formation which will run circles around the suffering rushing defense of the Jets.

The Line: 27 points allowed, 1 interception

The Inve$tment Corner

Jamaal Charles (RB-KC)

Notable Matchups (Playoffs): Week 14 vs. Buffalo, Week 15 vs. Cleveland, Week 16 at Cincinnati

Larry Johnson has dug himself deep into a hole with his unnecessary tweeting and his 2.7 yards per carry average.  If the owners show their disdain for the old guy, Charles could be their man going forward.  At the very least, Johnson is no longer the future of the Chiefs and Charles will get more carries as the year goes on, as Johnson is slowly phased out.  Up against not-so-stellar run defenses during the fantasy playoffs, look the way of Charles as he proves himself to be the back that the Chiefs need for the second half of the season.  Matt Cassel seems to be working out a strong connection with Dwayne Bowe and the Chiefs in general will be looking to the future as the season goes on, working out who their starters may be next year.  If one of your normal starters gets injured or you are a Larry Johnson owner, pick Charles up now, before he breaks a big game and gets swept up off of your waiver wire.

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