Half way through the season and there have been some real ups and downs to the NFL season from a fantasy perspective. For instance, who saw the ascension of Andy Dalton becoming a fantasy stud QB? Who saw the Colts acquiring Trent Richardson and then forgetting he’s on the roster, or Tony Romo being a better quarterback statistically than Aaron Rodgers? So many twists and turns happen within a 16 game season. It’s how you react to the oddities that either sink your team or help you rise to a playoff berth. Let’s take a look at what might help you in week 9.
• (OAK) QB Terrelle Pryor vs. Philadelphia Eagles– This is really simple. The Eagles rank 31st out of 32 teams in defense. Pryor has played well against poor defenses, such as Pittsburgh and San Diego. Though he doesn’t throw for 300 yards EVER… his ability to be a multi-purpose threat as a runner or passer gives him the unique ability to be fantasy relevant while only throwing for 88 yards and 2 picks. Consider Pryor a QB2 with a chance for a big day.
• (TEN) QB Jake Locker vs. St. Louis Rams– In his first game back from injury, Locker threw for 326 yards with 2 TDs and only 1 INT. This guy has been slowly progressing since being drafted 8th overall in 2011. His new found confidence has made him particularly useful in fantasy recently and that trend will continue this week against the Rams. St. Louis has a good defense, but the loss of Sam Bradford will continue to be their Achilles heel. Since coming in for Sam Bradford in week 7 Kellen Clemens has 1 Fumble lost, 2 INT’s 177 Yards passing and NO TDs. We will talk about this game a little later in the article.
• (PIT) RB Le’Veon Bell vs. New England Patriots – I have a tough time with this match-up. Bell hasn’t been very consistent in his output. In the last 3 weeks he has had 2 games with less than 40 yards rushing but somehow continues to put up some FLEX like numbers in fantasy. It’s even more perplexing when the defense he plays has lost numerous players of stature and continues to play well. Since losing Vince Wilfork for the season the Pats have 11 sacks, 4 INTs, 2 fumble recoveries and a defensive TD. Bell will look to add to his numbers as he pushes his way thru the 19th ranked defense of the New England Patriots on his way to FLEX play statistics for his fantasy owners.
• (SD) WR Keenan Allen vs. Washington Redskins – This kid has made such an impression on his teammates and coaching staff that the other receivers on the team want him to get more catches. Allen’s work ethic was never in question. After failing multiple drug tests in college, it appears that the questions about his maturity are a part of the past. Though he only caught 3 passes in week 7 for 67 yards, Allen has impressed the right people: quarterback, coaching staff, and fellow receivers. His output for the remainder of the year should continue to improve. Consider Allen a WR2 with potential for more.
• Tennessee Titans DST vs. St. Louis Rams – Let’s review the statistics I gave before about Kellen Clemens recent performances: 1 Fumble lost, 2 INTs 177 Yards passing and NO TDs through 1 and a half games. This is a matchup the Titans defense should be licking their chops for. Though the Titans don’t have a franchise like defensive player, they are ranked 13th in the NFL and that spells trouble for Clemens and the rest of the Rams’ offense. Zac Stacy will be the only Rams offensive player worth gambling on for possibly the rest of the season.
Less Appealing Options
• (NE) Tom Brady vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – Here’s a stat for you. Since Brady entered the league in 2000, he is throwing for his worst completion percentage of his career(55.7%). Brady has never played as poorly as he is now. Last year his threw for 4,827 yards with 34 TDs. If he doubles his numbers from the first 8 weeks he will account for less than 4,000 yards and less than 20 TDs. That’s a dramatic decline. After all the bad press the Patriots have incurred this last offseason, one could have guessed Brady might be in for a tough season, but this is unprecedented. No one could have guessed he could go from legend to lackluster in just one year. Yes Brady now has Gronk back, but that doesn’t seem to be enough to fix the drastic difference in the statistics from last year to this one. The Steelers rank 4th overall in defense and should look to press Brady often and force him into more poor throws and bad decisions.
• (ATL) QB Matt Ryan vs. Carolina Panthers – 2 problems immediately come to mind when I look at this match-up. 1) The incredible job the Carolina defense has done against the pass thus far, and 2) Even IF Roddy White comes back for week 9, he will be on a snap count. That means that Harry Douglas will again be the best receiving option outside of Tony Gonzalez. Ryan also has another problem, his nonexistent running game. Through 7 games Steven Jackson has 83 rushing yards… Seriously 83 yards! Jacquizz Rodgers who filled in while Jackson was hurt, as he often is, compiled 201 rushing yards in 7 games. That’s less than 30 yards per game. When a QB has no other choice but to throw the ball against a defense that defends the pass well, my instincts tell me that QB is gonna be in for a long day at the office. Play Ryan with caution this week expecting QB2 like numbers.
• (BAL) RB Ray Rice vs. Cleveland Browns – At the beginning of the year how many of you would have believed me if I had predicted Ray Rice would be averaging less than 50 yards per game rushing?? Well that’s exactly what is happening. His actual average thru 7 games?? 40.33 yards per game. WOW. The Baltimore offense has gone pass happy, and Rice as well as his fantasy owners are livid. For those of us who took Rice in the first 5 picks of the draft, you thought you were in for another great year. Instead he has to be the biggest disappointment other than CJ Spiller at the running back position this year. Well here comes Cleveland and their stout run defense. If it wasn’t bad enough that Rice wasn’t getting the carries or looks he once did in the office, he also has to play a top ten defense against the run. Look for Rice to give RB2/RB3 numbers once again in what looks to be a lost season for the highly touted running back.
• (TB) WR Vincent Jackson vs. Seattle Seahawks – I know this might seem crazy after Jackson got 79 yards on the very impressive Carolina defense but Richard Sherman and the rest of the Seattle Seahawks secondary are a beast of a different breed. Seattle is ranked 3rd overall in passing defense. Carolina ranks 10th and Mike Glennon is going to have his hands full. Jackson is the only legitimate weapon the Bucs have right now. Without Freeman who was released, Martin not at full strength and Williams (Hamstring) out, the defense is going to be all over him. Expect WR2 numbers this week and possibly until TB figures out how to score without Jackson.
New York Jets DST vs. New Orleans Saints – The Jets rank 6th overall, 1st against the run, but 15th against the pass and that’s what the Saints do, PASS. Thru 8 games Drew Brees has thrown 271 times for 183 completions, 2,290 yards, and 19TDs. In other words, no defense can stop this guy, especially not one that ranks outside the top 10. Look for Brees to have Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles, even Marques Colston shooting for the stars as they take the big play approach against the Jets defense all day. Rank the Jets D towards the bottom half simply because of the dreaded Drew Brees matchup.
The Giants have been a mystery thus far this season. At 2-6, things couldn’t get much worse. As a fan, I know this team has the potential to make a second half push! So let’s bring some positivity to the Giants aura and see if we can help them along to a few more wins when they back from the BYE. GO Giants!