Week 8 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em
Based on the comments I received via email and Twitter, it's my fault Jay Cutler got hurt against the Redskins and is now out at least four weeks with a torn groin. Apparently I caused the injury.
Cutler was our Start of the Week for Week 7, and he became the latest victim of what you guys have called the "Eisenberg Jinx." He joins the list of previous Start of the Week candidates Eddie Lacy and David Wilson , who failed to finish the first half of the game they were highlighted because of an injury.
I wish these guys didn't get hurt, and this has been frustrating. Maybe I am cursed, but I promise we'll pick it up from here. One formula for success should be following my sleeper picks, and we listed Ryan Mathews , Jacquizz Rodgers , Terrance Williams , Jarrett Boykin , Harry Douglas and Jordan Reed in that category last week. All were Top 10 finishers at their respective positions.
We had some bad calls as well with Matt Ryan , Russell Wilson and Chris Johnson shining despite being listed as sit candidates, and Tom Brady , Hakeem Nicks and Bilal Powell failing to perform as starts. But we also warned you about starting Torrey Smith , Larry Fitzgerald and C.J. Spiller , and we recommended starting Robert Griffin III , Eddie Lacy and Alshon Jeffery , among others.
|Player||Fantasy Pts. (proj.)||Fantasy Pts. (actual)||Start %||Pos. rank|
|Jay Cutler , QB, Bears||25||minus-1||64||31|
|Robert Griffin III , QB, Redskins||25||29||55||5|
|Eddie Lacy , RB, Packers||13||16||90||6|
|Alshon Jeffery , WR, Bears||11||11||72||17|
|Torrey Smith , WR, Ravens||9||6||80||41|
|Larry Fitzgerald , WR, Cardinals||10||1||76||92|
|C.J. Spiller , RB, Bills||8||1||58||60|
|Tom Brady , QB, Patriots||25||7||76||28|
|Hakeem Nicks , WR, Giants||12||2||84||67|
|Bilal Powell , RB, Jets||13||0||47||62|
|Matt Ryan , QB, Falcons||18||28||58||7|
|Russell Wilson , QB, Seahawks||18||25||46||9|
|Chris Johnson , RB, Titans||7||16||47||7|
Start of the Week: Stevan Ridley , RB, Patriots
So based on my previous luck with the Start of the Week candidates, you might want to put in a waiver claim for Brandon Bolden or LeGarrette Blount now to get a head start. Ridley's selection in this category obviously means he's destined to get hurt based on my jinx.
We're kidding -- or so we hope -- because Ridley should do well against Miami at home. He's scored in consecutive games against New Orleans and the Jets with 31 carries for 146 yards and three touchdowns over that span, and the Dolphins have allowed a running back to score in each of their past five games.
|Giovani Bernard||vs. NYJ|
|Darren McFadden||vs. PIT|
|DeAngelo Williams||at TB|
|Zac Stacy||vs. SEA|
|Maurice Jones-Drew||vs. SF|
There have been five running backs to score double digits in Fantasy points against Miami, and Ridley has a good history against the Dolphins with three touchdowns in two meetings last year and at least 13 Fantasy points in each game. The Dolphins have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this season, but Ridley has the chance for 80 total yards and a touchdown this week.
Ridley could continue to lose carries to Bolden, who should be considered a sleeper in Week 8, but we still expect Ridley to get plenty of touches with the chance to score. We like Ridley as a Top 15 Fantasy running back this week, and hopefully he'll make it past halftime without getting hurt.
Russell Wilson (at STL): I've had Wilson as a sit each of the past five weeks, and I'm 2-3 on my predictions. He was great against Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Arizona and struggled against Houston and Tennessee. We'll get to .500 this week because Wilson should do well against the Rams. There's always the risk of him not throwing much with Seattle's strong ground game, but he has at least 25 Fantasy points in his past two road outings. The potential debut of receiver Percy Harvin (hip) only enhances Wilson's value, and the Rams have already allowed three quarterbacks to score at least 21 Fantasy points this year. In Wilson's last game against the Rams in the season finale in 2012 he passed for 250 yards and one touchdown and ran for 58 yards and another score.
Andy Dalton (vs. NYJ): We saw last year that when Dalton gets hot he could be unstoppable. He had a stretch from Week 2 to Week 12 in 2012 with multiple touchdowns in seven of 10 games, and he's looking like that quarterback again the past two weeks. Dalton has 62 Fantasy points in the past two games against Detroit and Buffalo, and he's getting good production from Marvin Jones (two touchdowns over that span), which has helped support Dalton and A.J. Green . The Jets have allowed three quarterbacks to score at least 21 Fantasy points in the past five games, and we like Dalton to do well against this secondary.
Robert Griffin III (at DEN): Last week was our first real glimpse of the Griffin who took over the NFL as a rookie in 2012. He passed for 298 yards, two touchdowns and one interception against Chicago with 11 carries for 84 yards. He has now run for at least 77 yards in the past two games after Washington's bye week, and with that aspect of his game back, he could be unstoppable. The Broncos will be a tough test, especially at home, but four quarterbacks have already scored at least 20 Fantasy points against their defense. Also, Terrelle Pryor , Michael Vick and Andrew Luck had success running against Denver with each adding an additional three Fantasy points to their total, and Griffin could be leading the Redskins in a comeback effort since they likely will be chasing points against Peyton Manning .
Michael Vick (vs. NYG): Vick is expected to return this week after missing the past two games with a hamstring injury, and it's a great matchup for him. The Giants have allowed five quarterbacks to score at least 20 Fantasy points against them, and Vick was on his way to making it six during their first meeting in Week 5. He got hurt in the first half after passing for 105 yards and running for 79 more, and he and Nick Foles combined to score 30 Fantasy points in that matchup. There's some concern Vick won't be 100 percent for this game, and the Giants defense has played better with the addition of middle linebacker Jon Beason . But if Vick plays as expected he has the chance to do well, and we'd gamble on him as a Top 10 quarterback this week.
Matt Ryan (at ARI): Ryan showed in Week 7 against Tampa Bay that even a depleted receiving corps can't slow him down. He had his best game of the season with 28 Fantasy points, and he did that with minimal production from Tony Gonzalez (two catches for 30 yards). Douglas and Rodgers led the way with three combined touchdowns, but Gonzalez should do well this week since the Cardinals have allowed the most Fantasy points to opposing tight ends. And five quarterbacks have scored at least 19 Fantasy points against Arizona this season, which should allow Ryan to have another solid game. He would benefit greatly if Roddy White (hamstring) and Steven Jackson (hamstring) returned for this matchup, but even without them we still like Ryan as a starting option this week in the majority of leagues.
|Carson Palmer||(vs. ATL)||ATL has allowed five QBs to score at least 21 Fantasy points this year.|
|Colin Kaepernick||(at JAC)||My only concern is how much he'll be needed in an easy game vs. JAC.|
|Eli Manning||(at PHI)||It's a great matchup, but can Manning finally take advantage of it?|
Ben Roethlisberger (at OAK): The Steelers are riding a two-game winning streak into this matchup, but it's not because Roethlisberger is having big performances. He has one game with 20 Fantasy points this season, and he's been at 17 points or less in his past three outings. Roethlisberger does have a great history against the Raiders with an average of 310 passing yards in four meetings with 11 total touchdowns and five interceptions over that span, including a 384-yard, four-touchdown outing at Oakland last year. But the Raiders have been good against opposing quarterbacks of late, holding Griffin, Philip Rivers and Alex Smith to an average of 15 Fantasy points in the past three games. I'm not opposed to using Roethlisberger as a bye-week replacement this week if you're stuck, but he's not a Top 12 quarterback in my rankings.
Mike Glennon (vs. CAR): Despite being 0-6, Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano has to feel good about his quarterback situation heading into Week 8. Former Tampa Bay starter Josh Freeman fell flat on his face in his debut with the Vikings in Week 7, and Glennon has played well in his last two starts. He had at least 21 Fantasy points in each game against Philadelphia and Atlanta, but his recent run of success should end Thursday night. Carolina has yet to allow a quarterback to score 20 Fantasy points this season with five touchdowns allowed and nine interceptions. It's also a Thursday night game, which hasn't been good for most quarterbacks this year, and we expect Glennon to struggle. He's a low-end starting option even in a two-quarterback league this week.
Ryan Tannehill (at NE): Tannehill is on the cusp of a big game, but he has yet to score 20 Fantasy points this season. He has two games with at least 300 passing yards and two games with multiple touchdowns, but the 19 points he scored in Week 7 against Buffalo was a season high. He might stay below 20 points again this week since he struggled in two games with the Patriots last year, passing for a combined 421 yards, no touchdowns and an interception, a rushing touchdown and two fumbles. Tannehill has yet to throw multiple touchdowns in 11 career road games, and the Patriots have only allowed two passing touchdowns in three home games this season. We need to see Tannehill be more consistent -- especially behind his battered offensive line -- before we can trust him as even a bye-week replacement in deeper leagues.
Alex Smith (vs. CLE): Since the 2011 season, Smith is 26-5-1 as the starter for the Chiefs and 49ers. That's amazing and shows how valuable Smith can be to an NFL franchise. He's not, however, a great Fantasy quarterback with only 13 games with multiple touchdowns and one game with 300 passing yards over that span. Smith is obviously capable of some big performances as we've seen this season with at least 20 Fantasy points in three of his first four games. But he's combined for 30 Fantasy points in his past three outings against Tennessee, Oakland and Houston. This is a good matchup against the Browns since three of their past five opposing quarterbacks have scored at least 21 Fantasy points -- including two in a row -- but we just can't count on Smith to do enough to make him a starting Fantasy quarterback in most leagues.
Geno Smith (at CIN): There are two things working against Smith this week. The first is his pattern of a good game followed by a dud going back to Week 3 against the Bills. He had 28 Fantasy points against Buffalo, followed by four points at Tennessee, then 27 points at Atlanta, four points against Pittsburgh and 22 points last week, leaving him in a potential hole against the Bengals. He's also struggled on the road this season with an average of 234 passing yards in three games with four total touchdowns, five interceptions and two fumbles. In three home games, the Bengals have held Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady to 32 combined Fantasy points, and they should be able to limit Smith this week.
Bust alert: Terrelle Pryor (vs. PIT): Pryor has been good more often than not this season with at least 20 Fantasy points in three of five games. He struggled in his last outing before Oakland's bye in Week 6 at Kansas City with three interceptions, and he was sacked nine times. The Steelers present another tough test, even on the road, since they have allowed just Matt Cassel in Week 4 to score more than 18 Fantasy points, including matchups with Jake Locker , Dalton and Cutler. Cassel is the only one to throw multiple touchdowns against Pittsburgh, and the Steelers are confident heading into this game after winning two in a row. We like Pryor as a great bye-week replacement in Week 9 against the Eagles and Week 10 at the Giants, but this is a tough week to trust him as anything more than a low-end starter in two-quarterback leagues.
Le'Veon Bell (at OAK): Bell's best Fantasy game was Week 4 against Minnesota in London with 19 points, but that's because he scored two touchdowns despite rushing 16 times for just 57 yards. His best rushing game was Week 7 against Baltimore with 19 carries for 93 yards, and hopefully he'll build on that performance this week. The Raiders have allowed a running back to score and reach double digits in Fantasy points in each of their past four games with Ronnie Hillman , Roy Helu , Danny Woodhead and Jamaal Charles . Bell could be poised to take off starting this week, and we like him as a Top 10 Fantasy running back in this matchup.
Fred Jackson (at NO): Jackson was back in double digits in Fantasy points in Week 7 at Miami after missing out in Week 6 against Cincinnati for the lone time this season. It wasn't pretty as he battled through a knee injury with 11 carries for 36 yards, but he scored a touchdown and had four catches for 49 yards. He now has at least four catches in six of seven games -- including three in a row -- and he's taking away more and more work from Spiller. As long as Jackson's knee holds up he should do well this week since the Saints have allowed five running backs to score double digits in Fantasy points, including three in a row with Lamar Miller , Matt Forte and Ridley. Jackson should make it four in a row if he continues to play like he has all season.
Darren Sproles (vs. BUF): There's some concern over Sproles since he has just one game with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league since Week 1, and he has just two touchdowns this season. He does have at least six catches in four of six games, but he's been underwhelming based on preseason expectations. The good news is he's played better at home than on the road with his two best games this season against Atlanta in Week 1 and Miami in Week 4, and he's scored a touchdown in three of his past five home games overall. The Bills have allowed two running backs this season to catch at least six passes in Shane Vereen in Week 1 and Giovani Bernard in Week 6, and four running backs have scored at least 13 Fantasy points against this defense. We expect Sproles to have a rebound game in this matchup, and owners in all leagues should have no hesitation to start him.
Peyton Hillis (at PHI): Things will obviously change for Hillis if Brandon Jacobs (hamstring) returns this week, but we'd consider Hillis a potential Top 20 Fantasy running back in Week 8 if he's sharing playing time with Michael Cox again like he did in Week 7 against Minnesota. Hillis wasn't great, but he was serviceable with 18 carries for 36 yards and a touchdown and five catches for 45 yards. The Giants have now scored a rushing touchdown in three games in a row, including David Wilson scoring against the Eagles in Week 5, and Philadelphia has allowed five running backs to score at least eight Fantasy points this season. Given the running back landscape for this week, we consider Hillis a solid flex option in all formats.
Darren McFadden (vs. PIT): McFadden is reportedly looking "explosive" in practice coming off Oakland’s bye in Week 7, and that’s a great sign for this matchup against the Steelers. He has at least eight Fantasy points in five of the six games he's played this season, and last year against Pittsburgh he had 18 carries for 113 yards and a touchdown. The Steelers have allowed three running backs to score double digits in Fantasy points with seven touchdowns allowed, and McFadden should return to must-start status as long as he can stay healthy for the rest of the season.
|Jacquizz Rodgers||(at ARI)||Steven Jackson should return, but Rodgers will remain relevant in PPR leagues.|
|Mike Tolbert||(at TB)||He's scored in consecutive games and is outplaying DeAngelo Williams .|
|Kendall Hunter||(at JAC)||He's scored in three of past five games and could get garbage-time points.|
|Andre Ellington||(vs. ATL)||He should get back on track after down game in Week 7 vs. SEA.|
|Roy Helu||(at DEN)||Helu has scored at least seven Fantasy points in three straight.|
C.J. Spiller (at NO): We hope Spiller can get his injured ankle at 100 percent soon because right now it's hurting his production -- as well as Jackson's superior level of play. Spiller was limited to six carries for 11 yards in Week 7 at Miami, and he finished that game with a season-low one Fantasy point. This is a great matchup against the Saints, but Spiller isn't even getting the playing time to help him succeed. He's played 18 snaps or less in each of the past three games against Cleveland, Cincinnati and Miami because of the injury. He should only be considered a flex option at best, but until he's back to full strength it's hard to trust him in most standard formats.
Lamar Miller (at NE): Miller has a favorable matchup this week against the Patriots, but it's hard to trust him when he's losing playing time and production to Daniel Thomas , who is the better Fantasy option this week, although neither is worth starting in most formats. Miller has one game in his past four outings with double digits in carries, and in his past two games against Baltimore and Buffalo at home he's combined for 16 carries for 58 yards and one catch for 4 yards. He hasn't had more than 14 carries in a game this season, and if the Dolphins are chasing points he's not going to help much with only six catches on the year. Unless Miller pulls away from Thomas with his playing time he can't be trusted.
Maurice Jones-Drew (vs. SF): The last two running backs to play in London were Bell and Adrian Peterson , and both were awesome. We expect Frank Gore to handle his business, but can you count on Jones-Drew to do the same? We'd bet against it given his performance this season. He does have double digits in Fantasy points twice in the past five games, but he hasn't rushed for more than 71 yards this season. He's also been limited as a receiver with only 10 catches this year, and the 49ers have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher. Now, six running backs have scored double digits in Fantasy points against San Francisco, including three in the past three games in Arian Foster , Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson . But those three each had four catches to help their cause, and Jones-Drew isn't getting those opportunities. He's just a flex option at best.
Mike James (vs. CAR): Is James worth picking up in all leagues with Doug Martin (shoulder) out? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean you have to start him right away. The Panthers have only allowed three touchdowns to opposing running backs and four to reach double digits in Fantasy points, but Spiller in Week 2 is the only running back to top 62 rushing yards, including matchups against Marshawn Lynch and Peterson. On top of that, the Buccaneers have not had a running back score a touchdown since Martin in Week 1 at the Jets or get 100 rushing yards since Martin in Week 2 against New Orleans. We don't expect James to come in and play better than Martin, so give him time to prove himself, especially in a tough matchup.
Chris Ivory (at CIN): I like Ivory better than Powell this week, but I would stay away from both if you can. The Bengals have only allowed three touchdowns to opposing running backs and three to reach double digits in Fantasy points, and Johnathan Franklin in Week 3 is the only rusher above 55 rushing yards this season, including matchups with Matt Forte , Fred Jackson and Reggie Bush . Ivory was great last week with his first game of the season with double digits in Fantasy points, but he needed 34 carries to get 104 yards against the Patriots. It's doubtful he'll get that much work this week, especially if the Jets are chasing points, and Ivory is limited as a receiver with one catch this year. He's just a flex option in standard leagues and should be benched in PPR formats.
Bust alert: Zac Stacy (vs. SEA): The more I watch Stacy play the more I don't understand what took the Rams so long to feature him. He's improved his Fantasy production each of the past three weeks, and it was good to see him catch four passes and become the first St. Louis running back to score this season at Carolina in Week 7. But the loss of quarterback Sam Bradford (ACL) should hurt this entire offense, and facing the Seahawks won't help either. Seattle has only allowed Jones-Drew and Foster to score double digits in Fantasy points this season, including matchups with Gore and Chris Johnson . Stacy should hover around seven or eight Fantasy points like he did in his first two games, and he should only be used as a flex option. He might be asked to carry more of the offense with Bradford down, but the Seahawks will make things tough on Monday night.
Larry Fitzgerald (vs. ATL): Fitzgerald has been plagued by a hamstring injury for most of the season, and he was reportedly at about 80 percent in Week 7 against Seattle when he had a season-low two catches for 17 yards on just five targets last Thursday night. We're hoping the extra time between games helps him get close to 100 percent, and this is a great matchup for him. The Falcons have struggled with opposing receivers all season with nine scoring double digits in Fantasy points and nine touchdowns allowed. We hope Carson Palmer decides to focus on Fitzgerald because in his three games with double digits in Fantasy points this year he had at least nine targets. That appears to be his magic number, and if his hamstring holds up enough he should be successful in this game.
Marques Colston (vs. BUF): Colston needs a big game in the worst way after his performance in his previous two outings. Prior to the bye in Week 7, Colston combined for three catches and 26 yards at Chicago and New England. He's been better at home this season with at least seven Fantasy points in three games against Atlanta, Arizona and Miami, but he has just one touchdown on the season and no 100-yard games. The Bills could be a good cure for his woes since 10 receivers have already scored double digits in Fantasy points with 12 touchdowns allowed. The best of Colston is yet to come, and we expect him to end his slump in this matchup.
Jarrett Boykin (at MIN): Boykin had a featured role against Cleveland in Week 7 with Randall Cobb (knee) and James Jones (knee) out, and he responded with eight catches for 103 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. Jones could return this week, but Boykin should remain relevant with Jermichael Finley (neck) out. It's not the best matchup since Minnesota has allowed just four receivers to score double digits in Fantasy points with six touchdowns allowed, but three of those scores have come in the past two games. In Green Bay's last game at Minnesota in the season finale of 2012, three Packers receivers combined for four touchdowns, so Aaron Rodgers should attack this defense with plenty of success, including plenty of production for Boykin.
Terrance Williams (at DET): Receivers in general have done well against the Lions this season with seven scoring double digits in Fantasy points and six scoring touchdowns. The majority of that production happened in the past four games against Chicago, Green Bay, Cleveland and Cincinnati, and four No. 2 receivers in Jerome Simpson , Jeffery, James Jones and Marvin Jones have scored double digits in Fantasy points against Detroit. You're obviously starting Dez Bryant in all leagues, but Williams is worth consideration as well after scoring three touchdowns in each of his past three games, with 44 Fantasy points over that span. Williams has played so well the Cowboys can afford to rest Miles Austin (hamstring) until he's 100 percent, but by the time that happens, Williams might not come out of the lineup because he's been playing so well.
Rueben Randle (at PHI): Randle comes into this game on a three-game scoring streak that started in Week 5 against the Eagles. He had six catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns in that game on 14 targets, and he hasn't cooled off since. I like Victor Cruz and Nicks in this matchup, but those guys are must-start options in the majority of leagues. It's time to give Randle his due respect since it's clear Eli Manning trusts him. And the Eagles have allowed 11 receivers to score double digits in Fantasy points with 14 touchdowns allowed. You should consider Randle at least a No. 3 receiver or flex option this week, and I would start him over established guys like Cecil Shorts , Josh Gordon , Mike Wallace and Denarius Moore .
|Golden Tate||(at STL)||Every No. 1 receiver has scored at least eight Fantasy points vs. STL.|
|Greg Jennings||(vs. GB)||He could have a big game in his first meeting with his former team.|
|Brandon Gibson||(at NE)||Gibson has scored at least seven Fantasy points in three straight.|
|Jeremy Kerley||(at CIN)||He has at least 60 receiving yards in three of his past four games.|
|Anquan Boldin||(at JAC)||JAC has allowed 10 TDs to opposing receivers this season.|
Denarius Moore (vs. PIT): Moore is one of several bust alerts at receiver this week because it's hard to bench him in the majority of leagues based on his overall level of play this season. Moore has scored in four of six games, including two in a row with at least 82 yards over that span. But he's facing a tough Steelers pass defense this week thanks to cornerback Ike Taylor , who has helped limit No. 1 receivers all season. Green, Brandon Marshall and Torrey Smith all finished with six Fantasy points or less against Taylor, and we expect Moore to follow suit. He should be considered just a No. 3 Fantasy receiver this week.
Harry Douglas (at ARI): Douglas was a star last week against Tampa Bay in the first game without Julio Jones (foot) or White, and he finished with seven catches for 149 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. He has the chance to play well again this week, but he should be viewed as more of a No. 3 Fantasy receiver. The matchup with Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson will be tough, and Peterson has held every No. 1 receiver he's faced outside of Calvin Johnson in Week 2 to seven Fantasy points or less, including Colston, Vincent Jackson , Anquan Boldin and Golden Tate . Douglas should again see plenty of targets, but this game could be dominated by Gonzalez and Rodgers out of the backfield if Peterson shadows Douglas as expected.
Julian Edelman (vs. MIA): Edelman's value was down heading into this week before the potential return of Danny Amendola (concussion). Now you can bench Edelman in most standard formats altogether and even PPR leagues. He does have five catches in each of his past two games against New Orleans and the Jets, but he hasn't topped 60 receiving yards in his past three outings or scored since Week 1. Brady will likely lean on Amendola and Rob Gronkowski when everyone is healthy, and you're looking at a minimal stat line for Edelman most weeks moving forward. If Amendola is out for this week then Edelman's value will improve slightly for PPR owners, but we wouldn't start him in most standard leagues based on his recent level of play.
Mike Wallace (at NE): Wallace was serviceable in Week 7 against Buffalo with eight Fantasy points, and he had at least 75 receiving yards in consecutive games for the first time this season. He's also coming off two games in a row with double digits in targets, and we hope that continues the rest of the season. But facing the Patriots could be tough if standout cornerback Aqib Talib (hip) returns for this matchup. We would anticipate Talib following Wallace, which would hinder his production. Keep in mind Wallace has just one touchdown this season, and Tannehill is not a good road quarterback with his production early in his career. Like we said about Moore and Douglas, consider Wallace just a No. 3 Fantasy receiver this week.
Steve Johnson (at NO): Johnson and Thad Lewis wasted no time trying to connect in their first start together in Week 7 at Miami since Johnson was out in Week 6 with a back injury. Johnson had 13 targets against the Dolphins, but he finished with just six catches for 61 yards. He hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 2, and the Saints have only allowed Julio Jones , Jeffery and Kenbrell Thompkins to reach double digits in Fantasy points against them, including matchups with Vincent Jackson , Wallace and Marshall. Johnson has better value in PPR leagues since he has three games this season with at least six catches, but his lack of touchdowns in a tough matchup should limit his overall value in standard formats this week.
Bust alert: Josh Gordon (at KC): Like most of you, I can't afford to bench Gordon in the leagues where I own him. He's a difference maker, and sometimes players of his caliber make the best of bad situations. But this is a bad situation this week. Brandon Weeden was benched in favor of Jason Campbell , and we don't know how the two will perform. It's also a tough matchup against the Chiefs, especially lining up against standout cornerback Brandon Flowers , who has helped limit Shorts, DeSean Jackson and Andre Johnson to eight Fantasy points or less. Gordon struggled last week at Green Bay with two catches for 21 yards on six targets, and it was his worst game of the season. This might be a two-game slump given the matchup, and you should just lower your expectations if you're forced to start him.
Heath Miller (at OAK): Miller has returned from last year's knee injury playing at a high level. He has either a touchdown or 70 receiving yards in each of the past three games, and he should continue to be heavily involved with Roethlisberger. The Raiders have faced two elite tight ends this season in Julius Thomas and Antonio Gates , and Thomas scored a touchdown with Gates catching seven passes for 74 yards. Three tight ends have scored against Oakland, and we can see Miller adding his name to that list. He should be considered a Top 10 Fantasy tight end this week.
Jordan Reed (at DEN): Reed is dealing with a hip pointer, but he is expected to play against the Broncos. Just monitor his status heading into this matchup. The Broncos have allowed a tight end to score in two of the past three games with Jason Witten in Week 5 and Coby Fleener last week. We expect Reed to remain hot in this matchup after his performance last week when he had nine catches for 134 yards and a touchdown on nine targets. That makes three games in a row with at least six targets and 50 receiving yards. With the Redskins likely chasing points all game, look for Reed to again be heavily involved, and we consider him a potential Top 10 Fantasy tight end moving forward this season.
Charles Clay (at NE): The Patriots are among the best teams against opposing tight ends this season, but that shouldn't matter against Clay. He's been unstoppable all year. Gonzalez is the lone tight end to hurt the Patriots, who shut out Jimmy Graham in Week 6. But Clay has been on fire with three touchdowns in his past three games and four touchdowns in his past five outings. Clay has made his money in the red zone as the fourth-best tight end in terms of Fantasy points scored inside the 20, trailing only Thomas, Jordan Cameron and Martellus Bennett . Don't be surprised if Clay scores against New England, and he's a great starting option if you're without Gates, Bennett or Finley this week.
|Kyle Rudolph||(vs. GB)||GB has allowed a tight end to score in consecutive games.|
|Anthony Fasano||(vs. CLE)||CLE has allowed four TDs to tight ends in the past two games.|
|Joseph Fauria||(vs. DAL)||DAL has allowed four touchdowns to tight ends this season.|
Timothy Wright (vs. CAR): Wright was a huge disappointment in Week 7 at Atlanta with two catches for 15 yards on three targets. He had done a nice job the previous two games with 12 catches for 132 yards on 15 targets, and it looked like he and Glennon were developing a nice rapport. I still think there's hope for Wright this season, but this is a tough matchup. Kyle Rudolph is the lone tight end to hurt the Panthers with 15 Fantasy points in Week 6, otherwise every other tight end they've faced has been limited to seven points or less. Wright also hasn't scored a touchdown yet, and he might not find the end zone this week.
Jared Cook (vs. SEA): Here's a fun stat for you. Cook scored 24 Fantasy points in Week 1, but he's combined for 18 Fantasy points the past six games. The quarterback change from Bradford to Kellen Clemens could help Cook, and he did get seven targets in last week's game at Carolina, which was his best total since Week 4. But on top of his struggles, Cook is facing a Seattle defense that has allowed one tight end to score all season, including matchups with Vernon Davis , Greg Olsen and Fleener. We'll see how Cook does working with Clemens from this point forward, but we need to see a lot from Cook before we can trust him again in any format.
Brent Celek (vs. NYG): Celek scored in his last meeting with the Giants in Week 5, and the Giants have allowed five touchdowns to opposing tight ends this year. But Celek is hard to trust right now since he's sharing targets with Zach Ertz . In the past two games against Tampa Bay and Dallas, Celek has five targets for two catches and 19 yards, while Ertz has 11 targets for six catches and 36 yards. Celek could easily score in this matchup, especially with Vick back, but the Giants have also looked better defensively since Beason was traded from Carolina. In the past two games against Bennett and Rudolph, those tight ends combined for nine catches for 95 yards and no touchdowns. Given how the Giants looked against tight ends prior to those matchups, it's definitely an improvement.
Bust alert: Jordan Cameron (at KC): You're not benching Cameron in the majority of leagues this week, but lower your expectations for this matchup. Kansas City has yet to allow a tight end to score a touchdown, and Cameron has struggled since Brian Hoyer went down. He did score last week at Green Bay, but he is averaging just five catches for 52 yards in the past three games. And now Campbell will replace the struggling Weeden. The good news for Cameron is the Browns should be throwing all game, which should lead to a lot of targets, but this could be another down week for him based on the matchup.
Saints (vs. BUF): The Saints DST has struggled the past two games in road contests at Chicago and New England with 16 Fantasy points combined. The Bears game was the first one this season for the Saints without an interception, and the Patriots scored a season-high 30 points against New Orleans. Coming off their bye, the Saints DST should rebound at home against the Bills. New Orleans is allowing an average of just 13.6 points at home in three games against Atlanta, Arizona and Miami, and the Saints have six interceptions, 11 sacks and two fumble recoveries in those matchups. The Bills have allowed four of their past five opponents to score double digits in Fantasy points, and Lewis could struggle going into New Orleans in just his third start of the year.
Dolphins (at NE): The Jets defense did a good job containing Brady and the Patriots offense last week, but Brady should rebound at home. He just missed on a couple of touchdowns to Gronkowski, and this offense is poised to pop. In three home games this season against the Jets, Buccaneers and Saints, the opposing DST has averaged just over eight Fantasy points. The Dolphins DST has three games this season with double digits in Fantasy points, but only one on the road at Cleveland in Week 1. Miami has allowed an average of 23 points a game this season with seven interceptions, 17 sacks and three fumble recoveries, but the Dolphins should struggle in this matchup on the road.
|Sebastian Janikowski||vs. PIT|
|Jay Feely||vs. ATL|
|Graham Gano||at TB|
Alex Henery (vs. NYG): Henery is coming off his worst game of the season with just three Fantasy points since he failed to attempt an extra point and made only one field goal against Dallas. He should rebound against the Giants. Henery had his best game of the season against the Giants in Week 5 with five field goals and three extra points. The Eagles offense should play better this week with Vick back, and Henery has two games with at least 12 Fantasy points in three outings at home. The Giants have also allowed four kickers to make multiple field goals against them this year, and Henery is 7 of 7 on field goals in two home games against the Giants in his career.
Blair Walsh (vs. GB): It's clear that Walsh's hamstring injury in his plant leg is bothering him. He has combined for just two field goal attempts the past two games against Carolina and the Giants, and he has five Fantasy points combined over that span. By comparison, Walsh scored at least eight points in his first four games of the season before getting hurt. The Vikings offense is also struggling, which has limited Walsh's attempts, and the Packers have only allowed two kickers to make multiple field goals against them. Phil Dawson in Week 1 is also the last kicker to score double digits in Fantasy points against Green Bay. Walsh needs to prove he's 100 percent healthy before you can start him again.
Disclaimer ... … Please understand that we are not in the business of stating the obvious and wasting your time (or ours), so you won't be reading here why you need to start Drew Brees, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson or any other top-tier players. We're here to help you with the tough decisions.