Instant reactions from Week 8
Thank you, Stevan Ridley . The jinx is over.
After a four-game streak of failed Start of the Week predictions, including David Wilson and Jay Cutler not making it past halftime because of injuries, Ridley had a solid game in Week 8 against the Dolphins. He had 14 carries for 79 yards and a touchdown.
I was a little nervous watching Brandon Bolden score in the third quarter and then LeGarrette Blount playing well late, but in the end Ridley scored his fourth touchdown in the past three games and continued his run of recent success. He is back as a must-start Fantasy running back heading into Week 9 against the Steelers.
But while Ridley is doing well, it's time to be concerned about Tom Brady . He was 13 of 22 passing for 116 yards, one touchdown and one interception for eight Fantasy points. Brady now has single digits in Fantasy points in three of his past four games, and he has just one game with more than 20 points this season. He is also battling a hand injury.
This game was troubling because it was the first time all season where Brady had his full complement of weapons with Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola healthy. Both struggled with Gronkowski catching two catches for 27 yards on five targets, and Amendola had three catches for 15 yards on six targets. Gronkowski did have a touchdown called back for holding, but Brady is clearly struggling.
You have to continue starting Gronkowski, but Brady and Amendola are now worth benching if you have better options. In Week 9, I'd start Terrelle Pryor (vs. PHI) and Jake Locker (at STL) over Brady. I can't believe I just wrote that, but it's the right move to make.
The Patriots are also running in the red zone, which has hurt Brady and could be a product of Gronkowski being out prior to last week and Aaron Hernandez out all season. New England has six rushing touchdowns in the red zone the past three games against New Orleans, the Jets and Miami, which has taken away scoring chances from Brady.
We hope Brady can turn things around, but until he does you can't consider him a must-start Fantasy quarterback. That could be good news for Ridley if the Patriots continue to rely on him, but we just hope Bolden and Blount don't keep getting in the way.
• Injuries of note: Michael Vick (hamstring), Julius Thomas (ankle), Brandon Gibson (knee), Ryan Broyles (Achilles)
Vick started against the Giants, but he couldn't make it past halftime after he aggravated his previous hamstring injury. He finished the game 6 of 9 passing for 31 yards and an interception. He was replaced by Matt Barkley , who was 17 of 26 passing for 158 yards and one interception, and Barkley could end up starting at the Raiders in Week 9. Nick Foles is still dealing with a concussion and might not be ready.
It's clear the Eagles' quarterback woes are hurting LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson . Both have been inconsistent since Vick first went down in Week 5, and we hope coach Chip Kelly can turn things around heading into Week 9 no matter who starts at quarterback
Thomas hurt his ankle early in the third quarter against the Redskins, and he finished with just three catches for 29 yards on three targets. We hope he'll be OK after Denver's bye in Week 9. With Thomas out against the Redskins, Joel Dreessen caught a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Gibson could be out for the season with a knee injury, which is unfortunate since he had been playing well. He caught a 4-yard touchdown against the Patriots before getting hurt.
Broyles is lost for the season, which is disappointing, since he never got the chance to prove himself. He finished the season with seven catches for 77 yards, and he's now suffered a season-ending injury the past three years with a torn ACL in his final season at Oklahoma, a torn ACL in his rookie year in 2012 and now the ruptured Achilles.
Also, it appears like we avoided a serious injury for Robert Griffin III (knee) and Steve Johnson (groin), but keep an eye on their status heading into Week 9.
• Jason Campbell good for the Browns: I guess we know Brandon Weeden is the problem for the Browns. Campbell was Brian Hoyer -esque in helping Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron play at a high level again.
Campbell did a nice job at Kansas City with 22 of 36 passing for 293 yards and two touchdowns, but not many Fantasy owners will ever start him. We all use Gordon and Cameron, and it was great to see them shine after a couple of down games thanks to Weeden after Hoyer (ACL) went down in Week 5.
Gordon had five catches for 132 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets, and Cameron had four catches for 81 yards on four targets. We still want to see more from Cameron, but eight Fantasy points will make him a Top 10 Fantasy tight end this week.
• Marques Colston and Darren Sproles struggle again: Fantasy owners are concerned about Colston and Sproles, and rightfully so. They were awful again in Week 8 against Buffalo.
Colston had three catches for 18 yards on six targets, and Sproles had four catches for no yards on four targets and no carries. That's unreal, especially since the Saints won 35-17 with Drew Brees throwing five touchdowns.
Colston now has three Fantasy points in the past three weeks, and he hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 1. He faces the Jets in Week 9, and it will be hard to consider starting him until he proves he can produce again on a high level.
Sproles has 10 Fantasy points combined the past three games, and he has just one game with a touchdown, which was Week 4 against Miami. Pierre Thomas outplayed Sproles with 14 carries for 65 yards and three catches for 29 yards, and like Colston, you can't continue to play Sproles in most Fantasy leagues until he improves.
• Andre Ellington takes over: We hope the Cardinals saw enough of Ellington's play as the featured running back against the Falcons to make him the starter when Rashard Mendenhall (toe) is back in Week 10 following Arizona's bye week. Ellington had 15 carries for 154 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 8 yards against Atlanta.
This is now three games this season with double digits in Fantasy points for Ellington, but it was his first game with double digits in carries. I can't imagine the Cardinals going back to Mendenhall in a featured role, but you never know how coach Bruce Arians will handle it. In any event, Ellington should be considered a potential starting option moving forward, especially in PPR leagues, and he's a difference maker for Fantasy owners down the stretch.
• Matt Ryan struggles in desert: Last week I wrote in this column that it appeared Ryan would be OK without Julio Jones (foot) and Roddy White (hamstring). This week, Ryan showed he could still use his top weapons.
While Harry Douglas was a standout for the second week in a row with 12 catches for 121 yards on 18 targets, Ryan struggled with 34 of 61 passing for 301 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. He got little help from Tony Gonzalez (three catches for 26 yards) and Steven Jackson (11 carries for 6 yards and three catches for 7 yards), who played for the first time since Week 2 because of a hamstring injury.
Drew Davis played well with five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown on seven targets, but we hope White will return in Week 9 at Carolina. Without White it will be hard to trust Ryan against a solid Panthers defense.
• Colin Kaepernick comes alive: The last time we saw Kaepernick score more than 20 Fantasy points was Week 1 against Green Bay. Since then he's been at 19 Fantasy points twice, but he hasn't been able to break through -- until Sunday against the Jaguars in London.
Kaepernick was awesome with 10 of 16 passing for 164 yards and a touchdown and seven carries for 54 yards and two touchdowns. He finished with 29 Fantasy points, and he heads into his bye week ready to take off.
If you can still buy low on Kaepernick do it now because Mario Manningham (knee) could return in Week 10 against Carolina, and Michael Crabtree (Achilles) could be back in Week 11 at New Orleans or Week 12 at Washington. That's only going to make Kaepernick better, and I expect him to close the season strong.
• Lamar Miller finally steps up: One week after Daniel Thomas looked like he was ready to take the lead in the Dolphins' backfield it was Miller who had the better game at New England. Thomas scored on a 5-yard reception, but he finished with just nine carries for 47 yards.
Miller, meanwhile, had 18 carries for 89 yards and three catches for 33 yards. It was a season-high in carries, rushing yards, catches and receiving yards for Miller, and we hope this is a sign of things to come.
Thomas still has value because he will continue to get touches, but Miller should be the star of this backfield. Buy low on Miller if his owner is still willing to part with him for something cheap.
• Waiver Wire preview: Here is a preview of the players we will highlight in Playing the Waiver Wire on Tuesday.
Quarterbacks: Terrelle Pryor , Raiders (62 percent ownership on CBSSports.com), Jake Locker , Titans (42 percent), Jason Campbell , Browns (5 percent), Matt Barkley , Eagles (1 percent)
Running backs: Daniel Thomas , Dolphins (46 percent), Mike Tolbert , Panthers (42 percent), Montee Ball , Broncos (36 percent), Brandon Bolden , Patriots (29 percent), Fozzy Whittaker , Browns (1 percent), Anthony Sherman , Cardinals (0 percent)
Wide receivers: Michael Floyd , Cardinals (74 percent), Emmanuel Sanders , Steelers (54 percent), Marvin Jones , Bengals (38 percent), Aaron Dobson , Patriots (27 percent), Lance Moore , Saints (23 percent), Ted Ginn , Panthers (15 percent), Kenny Stills , Saints (12 percent), Dexter McCluster , Chiefs (3 percent), Mike Brown , Jaguars (2 percent), Drew Davis , Falcons (1 percent), David Nelson , Jets (0 percent)
Tight ends: Jermaine Gresham , Bengals (28 percent), Timothy Wright , Buccaneers (15 percent), Joel Dreessen , Broncos (1 percent)
• Start 'Em/Sit 'Em star: We had Andy Dalton as a starter and Marvin Jones as a sleeper in the column, and both were awesome against the Jets. Dalton finished two Fantasy points behind Brees as the No. 2 quarterback this week with 41 points. He was 19 of 30 passing for 325 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. And he threw four touchdowns to Jones, who had eight catches for 122 yards on eight targets. Dalton is worth starting every week while he's hot, and Jones is a must-add receiver off the waiver wire.
• Start 'Em/Sit 'Em flop: Rueben Randle was one of the few start suggestions I missed on in Week 8. He had a three-game scoring streak coming into his matchup with the Eagles, but he finished with no catches on just one target. His run as a quality Fantasy option might be over based on his declining target totals (from 14 to five to three to one since Week 5), and he is worth dropping if you need a roster spot in Week 9 with the Giants on a bye.