Articles By Mark Ross

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Not to pick on Jacksonville, but there’s a reason its opponent leads off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings for Week 9. To put it simply, the Jaguars are allowing an average of 17 fantasy points per game (Athlon scoring) to opposing DSTs. Last week alone, Miami returned two Blake Bortles interceptions for touchdowns. This week’s lucky DST is Cincinnati, which has rebounded somewhat after some disappointing showings. Another strong starting option this week is Kansas City, which will unleash Justin Houston (NFL-leading 10 sacks) and its other pass-rushers against Michael Vick and the turnover-prone Jets (18 giveaways) on Sunday.

 

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

 

Teams on bye: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Tennessee

 

RankPlayerOpp
1Cincinnati Bengalsvs. JAC
2San Francisco 49ersvs. STL
3Kansas City Chiefsvs. NYJ
4Seattle Seahawksvs. OAK
5Cleveland Brownsvs. TB
6Philadelphia Eaglesat HOU
7Minnesota Vikingsvs. WAS
8Houston Texansvs. PHI
9Baltimore Ravensat PIT
10Miami Dolphinsvs. SD
11Indianapolis Coltsat NYG (Mon.)
12Arizona Cardinalsat DAL
13Pittsburgh Steelersvs. BAL
14Denver Broncosat NE
15New England Patriotsvs. DEN
16Washington Redskinsat MIN

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

DEFENSIVE SCORING
0 points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit www.FantasyRundown.com

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 06:30
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Points will probably be aplenty in New England, but Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings for Week 9 gives top billing to a guy who will be toiling in the Steel City on Sunday night. Justin Tucker, who nailed a 50- and 53-yard field goal last week, checks in at No. 1 on this week’s list because Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh matchups usually go down to the wire and touchdowns are sometimes scarce. Tucker is second to Stephen Gostkowski in fantasy points and field goals made, and the Ravens’ reliable kicker has already attempted six field goals from 50 yards and beyond, connecting on three of them.

 

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

 

Teams on bye: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Tennessee

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Justin TuckerBALat PIT
2Adam VinatieriINDat NYG (Mon.)
3Stephen GostkowskiNEvs. DEN
4Dan BaileyDALvs. ARI
5Steven HauschkaSEAvs. OAK
6Cody ParkeyPHIat HOU
7Chandler CatanzaroARIat DAL
8Phil DawsonSFvs. STL
9Brandon McManusDENat NE
10Nick NovakSDat MIA
11Blair WalshMINvs. WAS
12Cairo SantosKCvs. NYJ
13Shayne GrahamNOat CAR (Thurs.)
14Randy BullockHOUvs. PHI
15Shaun SuishamPITvs. BAL
16Mike NugentCINvs. JAC

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

KICKER SCORING
PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Kicker Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/5-nfl-trades-we-would-love-see
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The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 28 at 4 p.m. ET. Typically the quietest of the four major sports’ deadline days, it’s possible that the biggest deal that will be made this season has already occurred. Seattle sent wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Jets for a conditional 2015 draft pick on Oct. 18. While the complete ramifications of this deal are still to be determined, in-season trades involving Pro Bowl-caliber players are the exception rather than the norm in today’s NFL.

 

This lack of perceived blockbuster trades, however, does not prevent any fan or knowledgeable follower of the sport from playing armchair general manager. To that end, here are some NFL trades we would love to see happen, but fully acknowledge the reality that these proposals will never come to fruition. Again, the point of this exercise is to have some fun at the expense of ignoring things such as current health, contracts, teams’ salary cap situations, roster makeup and, most importantly, what it would take to acquire these players in the first place.

 

Ndamukong Suh to Dallas

Of all the ideas proposed here, this one may actually make the most sense. For starters, Suh will be a free agent after this season and he’s already expressed an interest in playing elsewhere. While Dallas doesn’t appear to be the city atop his wish list (New York), do you think Suh would say no to a chance to play for the most recognized franchise in the NFL and one that, just like the Lions, is sitting at 6-2 atop its division?

 

For the Cowboys this makes total sense, as Suh is an All-Pro defensive tackle that would give Rod Marinelli’s defense the impact player it is sorely missing. Dallas’ success thus far is largely a byproduct of a clock-chewing, run-heavy offense that has kept a patchwork defense from getting too exposed. The Cowboys lack star power and playmakers on defense and Suh would fit both bills. A defensive tackle, Suh has 3.5 sacks while Dallas' entire defense has nine in eight games. This also would give Suh eight games to showcase his abilities to potential suitors around the league, including one particular owner who has very deep pockets and also serves as the general manager.

 

Vincent Jackson to New England

Tampa Bay is 1-6, pretty much already eliminating the Buccaneers from playoff contention even with nine games left. Again, not knowing what New England would be willing to give up to acquire a Pro Bowl-caliber wide receiver like Jackson, it’s certainly fun to picture him with the Patriots, no? After stumbling some out of the gates, Bill Belichick’s team has won four in a row and is considered a pretty safe bet to win its 11th AFC East title in the last 12 seasons.

 

However, in New England the goal isn’t just to win division crowns. And for these Patriots to get back to the Super Bowl, Tom Brady sure could use an established vertical threat like Jackson. Right now the closest thing Brady has is Brandon LaFell, who is averaging 15.4 yards per catch. But LaFell has never caught more than 49 passes in a season while Jackson has five 1,000-yard seasons on his resume, along with 448 career receptions and 54 touchdowns. Jackson is averaging 17.2 yards per catch in his career and his best seasons came when he was in San Diego and had Philip Rivers as his quarterback. You don’t think Jackson and Brady couldn’t do some damage together?

 

Jay Cutler to Tennessee

Chicago signed Cutler to a seven-year, $126 million contract extension in January. So clearly money is a big factor when it comes to Cutler changing teams anytime soon. But for the moment, let’s say that contract doesn’t exist. Cutler first made a name for himself when he earned SEC Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2005 as a senior at Vanderbilt. After three seasons in Denver, Cutler was traded to Chicago and has had his shares of highs and lows in both uniforms.

 

Despite Cutler’s struggles, there’s no denying his athletic ability and strong arm, tools that Tennessee head coach Ken Whisenhunt would probably love to get his hands on. In his first season leading the Titans, Whisenhunt has used three different quarterbacks – Jake Locker, Charlie Whitehurst and this past Sunday rookie Zach Mettenberger – and of this trio only Mettenberger seems to have a realistic shot of an extended stay with the team. Prior to coming to Tennessee, Whisenhunt served as San Diego’s offensive coordinator. In one season, he helped Philip Rivers go from a turnover-prone (NFL-high 22 in 2012) quarterback to a Pro Bowl signal-caller (4,478-32-11) on a playoff team. Cutler’s no stranger to Nashville and Whisenhunt’s got a pretty good track record when it comes to coaching signal-callers. Would this duo be a hit in Music City? There’s only one way to find out.

 

C.J. Spiller to Indianapolis

Spiller broke his collarbone a week ago and won’t be eligible to return until Week 16, but for the sake of this argument, he’s completely healthy and still playing. The No. 9 overall pick of the 2010 draft, Spiller rushed for 1,244 yards two seasons ago, but has really yet to live up to the hype surrounding him after a record-setting collegiate career at Clemson. Spiller has breakaway speed and more than enough athleticism to make him a legitimate big-play threat, but he’s also been nicked up by various injuries throughout his career.

 

For whatever reason, it just hasn’t completely worked out in Buffalo, so perhaps a change of scenery would do the pending free agent some good. Enter Indianapolis, a team that could desperately use a change-of-pace running back like Spiller. Trent Richardson has been better in his first full season with the Colts, but he certainly hasn’t lived up to his lofty draft status (No. 3 overall, 2012), and as productive as Ahmad Bradshaw has been (8 total TDs), he doesn’t possess the speed and explosiveness that Spiller does. Andrew Luck is already one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. Just imagine how much more dangerous Luck and Indianapolis’ offense could be if it were to add a versatile, all-purpose dynamo like Spiller.

 

Johnny Manziel to Houston

To this point, Manziel’s playing time during his rookie season has consisted of one token appearance on a trick play where he caught a pass, which was nullified by a penalty. For better or worse, head coach Mike Pettine seems committed to sticking with Brian Hoyer as his quarterback. That means, for our purposes, that Manziel is available for relocation.

 

There are several teams out there that need a quarterback and as appealing as some of those options are for different reasons (Johnny Football in the Silver and Black!), the one that makes the most sense is Houston. Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t the long-term answer at quarterback for the Texans and no one knows if former New England backup Ryan Mallett or fourth-round pick Tom Savage are either. Bill O’Brien has had some pretty good success with quarterbacks during his coaching career, including some guy named Tom Brady, so why not make Manziel his newest project. Manziel’s already enjoyed a fair amount of success in Texas, why can’t history repeat itself? And how ironic would it be if Manziel were to accomplish this with the Texans instead of the Cowboys?

 

And one more to chew on…

 

Robert Griffin III to Philadelphia

So do I have your attention now? RG3 has yet to get back on the field since dislocating his ankle in Week 2, but it’s also safe to say that the honeymoon is over for the second pick of the 2012 draft. Since winning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and leading Washington to the NFC East title his first season, Griffin has gone 4-11 as a starter with more turnovers (17 total) than touchdowns (16). Rookie head coach Jay Gruden has yet to fully endorse Griffin as his quarterback, so why not speculate where he could wind up should he become available?

 

After taking the NFL by storm in his first season, Chip Kelly’s Eagles have not been near as productive on offense to this point. Some of this can be attributed to the erratic play of Nick Foles. In his first full season as the starter, Foles has already thrown more interceptions (nine) in seven games than the two picks he had in 13 contests last season. Foles doesn’t exactly fit the mold of the dual-threat quarterbacks that ran Kelly’s offense so successfully at Oregon. While everyone has already opined about Marcus Mariota reuniting with Kelly in the NFL next season, the reality is that the Eagles probably won’t be positioned high enough in the draft to take a guy who is among this season’s leading Heisman Trophy contenders.

 

That’s where Griffin comes in. RG3 didn’t play for Kelly in college, but he did excel in a similar offensive system at Baylor, one that let him fully showcase his throwing and running abilities. As a rookie in the NFL, Griffin also was highly successful running an offense that used a lot of zone-read option looks, as evidenced by his 815 yards rushing to go along with 3,200 yards passing. Griffin hasn’t been the same quarterback since tearing the ACL and LCL in his right knee for a second time in the Jan. 2013 playoff loss to Seattle. While he may never be as dynamic and explosive as he was in his prime at Baylor and as a rookie; one can’t help but wonder how Griffin would fare running Kelly’s offense, a system that on paper appears to be tailor-made for RG3’s skill set. Besides, it’s not like the Eagles and Redskins haven’t “traded” players recently, right? At least this time, Kelly probably wouldn’t have to worry about this ex-Redskin not being a team player.

Teaser:
5 NFL Trades We Would Love to See
Post date: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, waiver wire, NFL, Fantasy, News
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Week 9 may represent the halfway point of the NFL season, but in fantasy football it’s where things really start to get interesting. For starters, the fantasy playoffs are creeping closer with every passing week, which means every game is critical. Add to this the fact that six teams are on bye in Weeks 9 and 10 and it’s shaping up to be one busy week of moves and maneuvers.

 

Roster depth and management skills will certainly be put to the test this week not only because of injuries but also due to the fact that guys like Aaron Rodgers, Matt Forté, Julio Jones, Jordy Nelson, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett and many others are not available.

 

Athlon Sports is here to help you sort through some of the potential free agent options. The players listed in our weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding on to all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may simply want to keep an eye on.

 

Teams on bye: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Tennessee

 

Quarterbacks

 

Week 8 Recap: Carson Palmer threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns in Arizona’s come-from-behind win against Philadelphia. Both of Palmer’s touchdown passes were 75 yards or longer, with the game-winner to John Brown coming with 1:21 left in the game. Palmer has appealing matchups (at Dallas, St. Louis) on tap for those who have bye-week issues to deal with.

 

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

Dalton has been mentioned in this space before, but with 12 teams on bye over the next two weeks, quarterback help may be a little harder to come by. While his numbers are down compared to last season, Dalton is still a top-20 fantasy QB in terms of points and he’s got pretty decent matchups the next two weeks – home against Jacksonville and Cleveland. Dalton also should get All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green back pretty soon, perhaps as early as this week. Remember, of the 19 QBs currently ahead of Dalton in fantasy points, eight of them will be going on bye in the next two weeks.

 

Michael Vick, New York Jets

Geno Smith was awful, to say the least, on Sunday against the Bills. Before getting pulled, Smith had more interceptions (three) than completions (two). Vick took over and while his numbers left much to be desired (18-of-36, 153 yards, INT, 49.9 passer rating), he led the team in rushing (69 yards on eight carries) and got the Jets to within a touchdown at halftime. Vick also lost two fumbles, but Rex Ryan has already named Vick as his starter for this week’s game in Kansas City. So with several sure-fire fantasy starting QBs (Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler) on bye, you have to at least consider Vick over some of the other fill-in options, right? For example, are you really going to rely on rookies Derek Carr (at SEA), Blake Bortles (at CIN) or even Teddy Bridgewater (vs. WAS)?

 

Other possible fill-in options*: Joe Flacco, Alex Smith, Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill

 

Running Backs

 

Week 8 Recap: Denard Robinson posted his second straight 100-yard rushing game (16 att., 108 yds.), as one of the few bright spots for the Jaguars. Robinson fared considerably better than either Tre Mason (7 att., 32 yds.), Anthony Dixon (22 att., 44 yds.) or Bryce Brown (7 att., 15 yds.), who struggled to get anything going on Sunday.

 

Travaris Cadet and Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints

Ingram (right) was highlighted in this space last week and that was before he gashed Green Bay for 172 yards (7.2 ypc) and a touchdown. If Ingram is still available, he should be added immediately. Cadet meanwhile could prove to be a sneaky pickup, as Pierre Thomas (shoulder) is out for at least another game or two and the short turnaround for Thursday’s game against Carolina doesn’t appear to benefit Khiry Robinson’s (foot) injury situation. Cadet got just one carry (7 yards) Sunday night, but he was targeted five times, finishing with four catches for 40 yards. With so many running backs on bye, Cadet could be an intriguing flex fill-in option, especially in PPR leagues.

 

Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals

Giovani Bernard left yesterday’s win over Baltimore with a hip injury. Bernard is pretty banged up right now so even if he doesn’t miss any time, he may see a decrease in his touches. To that end, Hill’s 10 carries Sunday were only the second time he had topped double digits this season (15 in Week 2). He’s averaging less than four yards per carry, but does have three rushing touchdowns. Hill’s numbers should go up with more opportunities, which is certainly possible given Bernard’s growing list of bumps and bruises.

 

Bobby Rainey and Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Doug Martin hurt his ankle in the third quarter of Sunday’s overtime loss to Minnesota, adding yet another bump in the second-year player’s road. Even when he’s managed to stay on the field, Martin has been ineffective at best, averaging less than three yards per carry with one touchdown. Rainey figures to be next man up, as he’s leading the team in rushing with 287 yards (4.6 ypc) and is third in receptions (22). Sims, however, is the potential wild card. The Buccaneers’ third-round pick, Sims fractured his ankle during the preseason and has been out since. He returned to practice last week and with Martin’s uncertain status, Sims could get some touches sooner rather than later. Described as a Matt Forté clone when he was drafted, Sims was touted coming out of West Virginia (started collegiate career at Houston) for his pass-catching ability. If anything, Sims is worth a stash, especially if your league has an injured reserve (IR) slot.

 

Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers

Carolina hosts New Orleans on Thursday and for the first time in a while, the Panthers may have a crowded backfield. Williams, who has missed all but two games because of ankle injuries, is expected to return to action this week. This muddies the outlook for Stewart, who missed three games because of a sprained knee but has rushed for 129 yards since his Week 7 return. Carolina loves to run the ball and would prefer to have its backs carry the load rather than quarterback Cam Newton. Even though Stewart and Williams figure to split the carries (as long as the other doesn’t get hurt again), they still could provide RB2/flex-worthy production, especially considering the Panthers’ upcoming matchups (NO, at PHI).

 

Other possible fill-in options*: Andre Williams, Darren McFadden, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Carlos Hyde

 

Wide Receivers

 

Week 8 Recap: Doug Baldwin led the Seahawks with six catches for 61 yards while Jermaine Kearse was limited to just two grabs for 15 yards. Mike Evans paced the Buccaneers with 78 yards on four receptions, while Jarvis Landry caught three balls for 23 yards.

 

John Brown, Arizona Cardinals

A third-round pick from Division II Pittsburg State, Brown leads the Cardinals with four touchdown receptions, which is as many as Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd have combined. On Sunday, Brown caught five passes for 119 yards, including the game-winning, 75-yard touchdown strike from Carson Palmer, to help Arizona get by Philadelphia on Sunday. Even with Fitzgerald and Floyd around, Brown has averaged seven targets and 67.7 yards receiving over the last three games. The big-play ability is clearly there, as well as a developing chemistry between the young Cardinal wideout and his quarterback. With a steady diet of targets, Brown could develop into a second-half fantasy surprise.

 
Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers

Antonio Brown is an absolute stud, and Markus Wheaton and Heath Miller (see below) have to be accounted for, but Bryant has made quite the first impression as a rookie. Held out of the first six games because of a preseason hamstring injury, Bryant now has three touchdowns in his first two career games. Two of those came on Sunday, as Bryant (5-83-2) played a big part in Ben Roethlisberger’s record-setting (522, 6 TDs) performance against Indianapolis. Wheaton has struggled to produce consistently, which helped open the door for Bryant to get involved right away. The speedy fourth-round pick from Clemson has already shown what he brings to the table, and it’s highly likely there’s more big plays to come.

 

Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts

Reggie Wayne missed Sunday’s game because of an elbow injury and it’s possible he could be out again this week. Hakeem Nicks got the start in place of Wayne, but it was Moncrief who shined with more playing time. The Colts’ third-round pick, Moncrief’s contributions were minimal to start, but he busted out in a big way on Sunday. He was targeted a team-high 12 times, catching seven of those for 113 yards and a touchdown. Even when Wayne returns, Moncrief could replace Nicks as Indianapolis’ No. 3 wide receiver, as the rookie boasts more big-play ability and athleticism than the veteran. And being the third wideout in the league’s most pass-happy offense is not exactly the worst situation to be in fantasy-wise.

 

Other possible fill-in options*: Brandon LaFell, Odell Beckham Jr., Andre Holmes, Cecil Shorts, Dwayne Bowe, Malcolm Floyd, James Jones

 

Tight Ends

 

Week 8 Recap: Charles Clay followed up the best game of the season with his worst effort – one catch for one yard.

 

Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers

The wily old veteran had a nice outing on Sunday – season-high 112 yards with a touchdown. While he may not be as productive as in years past, Miller is still one of Ben Roethlisberger’s most trusted targets. And the more looks Miller gets, the better his numbers have been. In the three games where’s he gotten at least seven targets, Miller has averaged seven receptions for 77.3 yards and both of his touchdowns. He’s still a top-10 fantasy TE, which is an asset that will be in short supply these next two weeks with so many teams on bye.

 

Other possible fill-in options*: Larry Donnell, Austin Seferian- Jenkins, Jace Amaro, Coby Fleener


Defense/Special Teams

 

Week 8 Recap: Indianapolis’ DST did recover two fumbles and blocked a poorly executed punt by Ben Roethlisberger. Unfortunately, the Colts also gave up 522 yards passing and six touchdowns to Big Ben, as the Steelers piled up 639 total yards and put up 51 points (43 allowed by the DST) on Sunday.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals’ DST has been a fantasy disappointment in many ways (total of -1 points in Weeks 5 and 6 combined), but there’s still plenty of time for this unit to redeem itself. For starters, this DST did post double-digit fantasy points in each of the first three weeks and has forced four turnovers over the last two games. Then there’s the matter of this week’s matchup with Jacksonville. The Jaguars are giving up the most fantasy points (17 per game) to opposing DSTs, including 30 on Sunday to the Dolphins. Blake Bortles leads the NFL in interceptions (12) even though he’s played in just six games and he has had four of them returned for touchdowns. Forget bye-week fill-in, I could make an argument that the Bengals are a must-start DST this week.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs had a sack party Sunday against the Rams, bringing Austin Davis down seven times. They also picked off one pass and got a 99-yard kickoff return from Knile Davis to finish with 21 fantasy points, tied for second behind Miami (30 pts). For the season, the Chiefs are tied for fourth in the NFL with 24 sacks and with a few more turnovers (5 total) would be a more productive fantasy DST. The good news is that next up is a Jets team that coughed it up six times (4 INTs, 2 fumbles) and gave up four sacks to the Bills on Sunday. After the Jets, Kansas City draws Buffalo in Week 10. Given the Bills’ backfield woes, the Chiefs’ DST may be worth keeping around for a few weeks.

 

Other possible fill-in options*: Baltimore, Arizona, Miami, Cleveland

 

Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point PER 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.

 

*Players owned in less than 70% of Yahoo! leagues.

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Waiver Wire: Week 9
Post date: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /nfl/washington-redskins-vs-dallas-cowboys-preview-and-prediction-0
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NFC East archrivals headed in opposite directions will wrap up the Week 8 slate when the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys face off on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” The Cowboys (6-1) look to maintain the NFL’s best record with a seventh straight victory, while the Redskins (2-5) will apparently turn to their third-string quarterback in hopes of winning back-to-back games for the first time this season.

 

Dallas holds a 64-40-2 edge over Washington in this historic rivalry, including last season’s sweep. The Cowboys beat the Redskins 31-16 at AT&T Stadium in Week 6 last season even though the visitors doubled up the home team on offense (433 total yards to 213).

 

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys

 

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Dallas -10

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Washington’s Quarterback Carousel

Robert Griffin III is close to returning from the dislocated ankle he suffered in Week 2. So close in fact, that he might be out there tonight, although head coach Jay Gruden has publicly said that third-stringer Colt McCoy would be the starter. If McCoy gets the call, he would be the Redskins’ third starting quarterback through eight games. Griffin’s injury is what started this carousel spinning, as Kirk Cousins replaced RG3 in the team’s second game. But after enjoying some early success, Cousins’ struggles led to Gruden benching him last week. Collectively, Washington’s quarterbacks haven’t exactly filled up the box score. The trio has combined for 2,143 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions, for a passer rating of 91.3. Most of this production belongs to Cousins, who went 1-4 as the starter in relief of Griffin. The ironic thing when it comes to that win-loss record is that the win Cousins gets credit for was last week’s against Tennessee, a game in which McCoy came on in relief and led the second-half comeback. Likewise, Griffin gets credit for the Week 2 win in Jacksonville even though it was Cousins who got the Redskins on the board first after RG3 got hurt in the team’s second offensive series. The bottom line is that Washington enters tonight’s game 2-5 thanks in part to inconsistent quarterback play. Will that change with McCoy at the helm? Or will RG3 make a miraculous comeback and reclaim not only his starting job, but also make a statement that this is still his team?

 

2. DeMarco Murray’s Historic Run

Murray leads the NFL in rushing by nearly 300 yards and he’s the first player in history to start a season with seven straight 100-yard games. Running behind arguably the league’s best offensive line, Murray is the engine that makes the best rushing offense (159.7 ypg) churn. A legitimate MVP candidate, Murray is on pace for 427 carries and 2,086 yards rushing. As magical as 2,000 yards is for a running back, 400 carries is just as concerning. Murray is averaging 27 carries a game and he entered Week 8 with more rushing attempts than 20 entire teams. Can the Cowboys afford to keep handing it off to Murray at this pace or should they turn to backup Joseph Randle and call a few more pass plays to take some of the load off of their workhorse? On the other side of the field, Washington has done a pretty good job against the run thus far with the exception of one game. Seattle ran for 225 yards in a 27-17 Week 6 victory at FedEx Field. Outside of that game, the Redskins have allowed an average of 83 yards rushing per contest. Of course, it should be pointed out that the Seahawks’ big ground game came on a Monday night. Either way, Washington’s defense will have its work cut out for it as it seeks to do what no other defense (including Seattle’s at home) has been able to yet – prevent Murray from breaking the century mark. 

 

3. Dallas’ Deceiving Defense?

The Cowboys are 6-1 and entered Week 8 with the NFL’s best record. Is Dallas the league’s best team? Perhaps, but as well as the Cowboys have played and looked, Jason Garrett’s team still has its flaws. For one, its turnover margin is only plus-one. The real concern moving forward, however, is can this defense continue to hold up, especially when the offense struggles? Dallas boasts the No. 2 offense thanks in large part to the most productive running game in the league. Besides picking up a bunch of yards, the Cowboys’ ability to effectively run the ball has allowed them to chew up a lot of clock. Entering Week 8, the only offense that has held the ball longer than the Cowboys (average of 34:35 per game) is Andrew Luck and the Colts (36:56). So while Tony Romo and company are running an average of 66 offensive plays per game, the defense has only been on the field for 57. That difference of nine may not seem that big, but consider that Dallas’ defense was on the field last season for 1,094 plays or 68 per game. That’s a big reason why the Cowboys finished dead last in yards allowed in 2013 at 415.3 per game. This season, Dallas’ defense has fared better, but it’s still giving up nearly 344 yards per game, a number that likely would go up if opponents had more opportunities with the ball. So despite their sterling record, the Cowboys’ margin of error still appears to be rather thin. The offense may be championship-caliber, but the jury is still very much out on this defense.

 

Final Analysis

 

The Cowboys may no longer be “America’s Team,” but there are still plenty of Dallas fans across the world thoroughly enjoying this season. Jerry Jones is smiling and talking Super Bowl, Jason Garrett has gone from the hot seat to leading Coach of the Year contender and Tony Romo is no longer the most talked about player. The Washington Redskins meanwhile are struggling to find their identity, not to mention a starting quarterback, under rookie head coach Jay Gruden. The Cowboys have won six in a row, but this team still has some question marks, most of them on defense. However, Garrett’s team doesn’t have near as many holes as Gruden’s. What happens with Dallas come December and January remains to be seen, but for now, Cowboys fans should just sit back and enjoy this ride.

 
Prediction: Dallas 34, Washington 20
Teaser:
Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, October 27, 2014 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, NFC, NFL, News
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Two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks will share the spotlight tonight when the Green Bay Packers take on the New Orleans Saints on NBC. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (5-2) are in the midst of a four-game winning streak, while Drew Brees and the Saints (2-4) hope a return to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome will produce better results on the field.

 

Tonight marks the fourth head-to-head meeting between Rodgers and Brees, who have a combined 175 regular-season wins, 78,868 yards passing, 580 touchdown passes, 11 Pro Bowl invites and two Super Bowl MVP awards between them. Rodgers holds a 2-1 edge, as the home team has won each time. The last meeting took place at Lambeau Field during Week 4 of the 2012 season. Green Bay won 28-27, as the two quarterbacks combined for 765 yards and seven touchdown passes.

 

Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints

 

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Spread: New Orleans -1

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Red-Hot Rodgers

Following Green Bay’s uncharacteristic 1-2 start, Aaron Rodgers had a simple message for the Packers’ passionate fan base: R-E-L-A-X. Turns out the MVP and Super Bowl-winning quarterback knew what he was talking about. Since losing 19-7 in Detroit in Week 3, Green Bay has won four in a row with only one of those victories coming by less than 21 points. Not surprisingly, Rodgers has been at the forefront of this hot streak, completing 71 percent of his passes for 977 yards, 13 touchdowns and no interceptions over the last four games. Besides blowing out the Bears on the road and the Vikings and Panthers at home, Rodgers tossed the game-winning touchdown pass with two seconds remaining to beat the Dolphins in Miami in Week 6. In short, Rodgers has done it all during this streak and trying to slow him down will New Orleans’ main priority. Easier said than done, however, as the Saints enter this game ranked 28th in the NFL in passing defense (270.5 ypg). 

 

2. Saints in a Rush?

New Orleans’ offense begins and ends with Drew Brees, but the Saints also have had success running the ball this season and it’s a strategy they may want to stick to tonight. New Orleans is second in the NFL in total offense (437.0 ypg), and while the passing game is doing its usual thing (314.0 ypg, 2nd), the running game also has been getting the job done. The Saints are 13th in rushing at 123.0 yards per game, which is a far cry from the 92.1 they averaged last season. Mark Ingram got off to a strong start (143 yards, 3 TDs) before breaking his hand in Week 2, but he returned last week. In Ingram’s absence, Khiry Robinson picked up the slack and the second-year back is leading the team with 330 yards on a 5.2-yard-per-carry clip. Pierre Thomas also has chipped in with 133 yards (4.4 ypc) and two touchdowns on the ground, but he’s expected to miss 2-3 weeks after injuring his shoulder in last week’s loss in Detroit. As a team, the Saints are averaging 4.9 yards per carry with seven rushing touchdowns, compared to 3.8 and 10 for all of 2013. This success on the ground may very well continue tonight, as Green Bay is second to last in rushing defense. The Packers are allowing close to 150 yards rushing per game and have yet to hold an opponent to less than 108. New Orleans may not be known for running the ball, but head coach Sean Payton may want to stay grounded tonight, especially if it gives the Saints their best chance of winning.

 

3. Jimmy Graham’s Supporting Cast

Graham is without question one of the hardest players to cover in the NFL and his numbers back this up. Over his last three seasons, Graham has averaged 90 receptions for 1,169 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those numbers are impressive for a wide receiver let alone a tight end. Graham is once again leading the team in receiving (34-376-3), but he’s also dealing with a sprained shoulder that basically turned the All-Pro into a decoy last week. Playing through an injury that reportedly was going to keep him out several weeks, Graham was targeted twice, but didn’t catch any passes in the loss to Detroit. Graham’s injury underscores the need for other pass-catchers to step up their production. After all, even though the Saints have had success running the ball, they also have an offensive mastermind for a head coach in Sean Payton and a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees. They should be able to beat defenses through the air too. Wide receiver Marques Colston is the veteran and he has had his moments with two 100-yard games already, but he also posted a bagel in the Week 2 loss in Cleveland. First-round pick Brandin Cooks was supposed to be Payton and Brees’ new favorite toy, but the speedy Biletnikoff Award winner from Oregon State has just one touchdown and is averaging only 8.2 yards per reception, despite being tied with Graham for the team lead in catches (34). Kenny Stills has big-play ability (16.3 ypc), but an injury slowed him early on, although he is coming off of his best game (103 yards vs. Detroit). Even with the injury to running back Pierre Thomas, who is second on the team with 26 catches, Brees doesn’t lack for options to throw to. He just needs those not named Graham to be more consistent and make a few more big plays, especially with his most trusted and productive target a little banged up at the moment.

 

Final Analysis

 

Green Bay is one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now, winning its last four games by an average of 19.3 points per game. Aaron Rodgers is once again putting up MVP-caliber numbers, which have been needed since the Packers have had their issues both running the ball consistently and on defense. New Orleans is reeling somewhat after letting one slip away in Detroit last week. The Saints play four of their next five games at home so they can ill afford to let any of these opportunities pass by. While things have been going Green Bay’s way lately, it’s really hard to pick against New Orleans in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Sean Payton’s team gets back to the basics, including a heavier dose of the running game than usual, and Drew Brees chips in with some big throws late, as the Saints defend home turf and start their march back to playoff contention. 

 
Prediction: New Orleans 30, Green Bay 27
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Sunday’s Week 8 action gets off to an early start in London where Detroit is expected to be without one of its top running backs. That’s just one of the key RB or QB injuries associated with today’s games.

 

Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens

Probable – Ribs
Bernard is dealing with some sore ribs, which limited his practice participation Wednesday and Thursday. He was a full go on Friday, is listed as Probable and fully expected to play in today’s key AFC North clash with Baltimore. Bernard is not only the Bengals’ leading rusher, he also figures to be one of Andy Dalton’s prime targets with A.J. Green listed as Doubtful. Bernard is one of the most dynamic backs in the NFL and he must be in your starting lineup.

 

Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons (London)

Out – Ankle
Bush played last week, but re-aggravated his ankle injury and had to leave early. After arriving in London for today’s game, Bush’s ankle didn’t respond to any treatment during the week. He was limited in practice on Wednesday, but didn’t participate at all on Thursday or Friday. He was listed as Doubtful on Friday, but was officially ruled Out earlier this morning. The extra early kickoff (9:30 a.m. ET) and the fact the Lions are on bye next week, probably contributed to the team's decision. With Bush sidelined, Joique Bell should see plenty of carries against a Falcons defense that’s giving up the most fantasy points to RBs. I could make an argument that Bell’s a borderline RB1 this week, and Theo Riddick (Probable, Hamstring) could end up with enough touches to merit flex consideration. Remember, this is a Lions offense that besides Bush is without Calvin Johnson and several TEs.

 

Benny Cunningham, RB, St. Louis Rams at Kansas City Chiefs

Probable – Knee
Cunningham was added to the injury report on Thursday after a knee injury limited him in practice. Whatever it is, he was a full go on Friday and appears to be a pretty safe bet to play based on his Probable designation. There’s been a lot of turnover in the Rams’ backfield in recent weeks, as rookie Tre Mason has emerged while former starter Zac Stacy has seen his playing time practically disappear. Cunningham’s status as the backup has been pretty constant, but it’s hard to trust Cunningham fantasy-wise because of the uncertainty regarding his workload. Mason is the Ram back to own moving forward and Stacy can probably be dropped in shallow redraft leagues at this point.

 

Shonn Greene, RB, Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans

Probable – Hamstring
Greene got in limited practice sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, but was able to go full speed on Friday. He’s listed as Probable and expected to return after missing the past two games. Greene was arrested Friday night on multiple charges after trying to avoid getting a ticket for parking in a handicapped spot, but reports say the incident doesn’t impact his playing status today. On the field, the interesting thing to watch will be how the carries are distributed between Greene and rookie Bishop Sankey. The Titans are starting rookie Zach Mettenberger at quarterback in place of Jake Locker (see below), so if the youth movement is in full force that would favor Sankey. However, Greene was the starter until he got hurt, so head coach Ken Whisenhunt may decide to go back to the way it was. If I had to handicap this race, I still think Sankey boasts more upside and is the Titan back to own, but it may not play out that way for a game or two. The only Titans I would trust fantasy-wise this week are TE Delaine Walker, WR Kendall Wright and maybe, if you’re feeling lucky, WR Justin Hunter as a potential flex option.

 

Toby Gerhart, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Miami Dolphins

Probable – Foot
After missing the past two games because of a foot injury, Gerhart is expected to return today. He was able to practice fully both Thursday and Friday and is listed as Probable to face the Dolphins. Gerhart has struggled to gain much ground (123 yds., 2.6 ypc), so at best he will share carries with Denard Robinson, who broke out in a big way (127 yds., TD) last week. Rookie Storm Johnson also could factor in. Right now, I see no reason to rush Gerhart back into the starting lineup unless you have no other options.

 

Josh McCown, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Minnesota Vikings

Questionable – Thumb
Coming off of the bye, McCown is making progress in his recovery from an injury to the thumb on his throwing hand. He finally returned to practice and even got in a full session on Friday. He’s listed as Questionable, but even if McCown plays it will be to back up Mike Glennon. Glennon has been solid in relief of McCown and is in the QB2 discussion based on today’s matchup against the Vikings.

 
Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans

Probable – Hand
Locker practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday and Thursday and was a full go on Friday. He’s listed as Probable, but the only way he will play today is if Zach Mettenberger gets hurt or head coach Ken Whisenhunt decides to pull him. Whisenhunt named Mettenberger, the Titans’ sixth-round pick, as his starting quarterback earlier this week, pretty much destroying any remaining fantasy value Locker had. As far as Mettenberger goes, if you want to rely on a guy making his first career start against a defense led by J.J. Watt you go right ahead.

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Plenty of No. 1 wide receivers show up on the Week 8 injury report. Find out below who is shaping up to be a game-time decision, who has already been ruled out and who should be ready to roll.

 

A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens

Doubtful – Toe
Green didn’t practice at all this week, but he was able to get some rehab and conditioning work in on the side. This progress prompted head coach Marvin Lewis to express some optimism about getting his All-Pro wide receiver back. However, Green’s Doubtful designation certainly puts a damper on things. There are reports Green will test his injured toe out early Sunday, but even then you are looking at a game-time decision at best. With Green’s toe still keeping him from merely taking part in practice; it seems highly unlikely that he will return after missing the past two games. Personally, I am not going to sit around and hope Green makes a miraculous return. So Green will remain on my bench and I’ll revisit his situation next week. Mohamed Sanu remains a fairly safe WR2 option with upside.

 
Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons (London)

Out - Ankle
Johnson did take part in practice for the first time in three weeks, but he remains limited by his ankle injury. With the Lions already expected to be without several other skill position players, they certainly could use Johnson. But he has repeatedly stated that he won’t get back on the field until he knows he can perform at the All-Pro level he expects. And that apparently is not today, as the team ruled Johnson Out prior to kickoff earlier this morning. The Lions being on bye next week probably contributed some to the decision to deactivate him. With Johnson officially inactive, Golden Tate is a bona fide WR1 based on the matchup (Falcons 29th in NFL in passing defense) and the fact that Matthew Stafford also does have Reggie Bush or several of his tight ends to throw to today.

 
Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Minnesota Vikings

Questionable – Rib
The Buccaneers are coming off of their bye yet Jackson is still being limited in practice because of a rib injury. That’s not the most encouraging sign, nor is his Questionable designation. However, Jackson is expected to be out there today, as he’s played through this injury previously. Jackson and Mike Glennon have combined for 15 catches for 242 yards and a touchdown over the past three games, so Jackson remains a relatively safe WR2 today against the Vikings.

 

Harry Douglas and Julio Jones, WRs, Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions (London)

Questionable – Foot; Probable – Ankle
Douglas has missed the past four games with a foot injury, but he was back at practice this week, albeit in a limited fashion. He is listed as Questionable and it will be a game-time decision whether he plays or not. Just remember that this game is in London, which means a much earlier start (9:30 a.m. ET). Jones meanwhile is taking it easy earlier in the week to give his bothersome ankle as much time to recover as possible. He was a full go on Thursday and Friday and is listed as Probable. Jones remains a must-start WR1, while Douglas should be left on the waiver wire or your bench if you own him.

 

Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans

Probable – Ankle
The good news is that following the short turnaround after playing Monday night, Johnson was able to get one full practice session in on Friday. He’s dealt with this nagging ankle issue for several weeks, but he’s still yet to miss a game. That won’t happen today either, as he’s listed as Probable. Johnson has just one touchdown catch so far, but he’s seeing at least seven targets and registering at least four catches every game. He’s a legitimate WR1 and you just have to keep putting him out there and hope this is the week he and Ryan Fitzpatrick really click.

 

Eric Decker, WR, New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills

Probable – Hamstring
After not being a factor on last week’s injury report, Decker’s back on because of his bothersome hamstring. He was limited in practice all week, but apparently the coaching staff isn’t concerned about his readiness since he’s listed as Probable. Decker’s been more of a hit-or-miss option this season, but it will be interesting to see how he and Percy Harvin, his new teammate, fare in their first game together. For now, Decker is a risky WR2 and a much safer flex option.

 

Already Ruled Out:

 

Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts – Wayne injured his elbow in last week’s win and underwent an MRI to determine the severity. What the MRI showed the team has not shared, but Wayne didn’t practice at all this week and was spotted wearing a compression sleeve on his injured elbow. He’s already been ruled out for this afternoon’s game and the hope right now is that Wayne will only need to miss one or two more games. T.Y. Hilton becomes the Colts’ No. 1 wide receiver in Wayne’s absence, but his actual role and production doesn’t figure to change that much. The beneficiary of Wayne’s injury could be Hakeem Nicks, who should see more opportunities, but don’t rule out rookie Donte Moncrief either. It’s probably too risky to rely on Nicks or Moncrief this week, except maybe in deeper leagues.

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Arizona and Philadelphia both have some banged up running backs headed into this afternoon’s Week 8 showdown. Will both teams’ backfields be at full strength and who is going to handle the carries for the Saints tonight against the Packers?

 

Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Probable – Foot
The foot is still an issue, but Ellington added some bruised ribs to his list of ailments last week. He was limited in practice the first two days, but was a full go on Friday. He’s considered Probable and at this point, I think Ellington has earned the benefit of the doubt. Ninth in fantasy points among RBs this season, Ellington is a top-10 RB this week against the Eagles.

 
Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals

Questionable – Knee
Sproles suffered a slight MCL tear in his left knee in the Eagles’ Week 6 win over the Giants. He was originally expected to miss at least two weeks, but coming off of a bye, Sproles was back at practice this week. He was limited on Wednesday and Thursday, but was a full participant on Friday. He’s officially listed as Questionable, but it’s certainly possible that Sproles will be out there this afternoon. The team’s second-leading rusher and an active part of the passing game, Sproles is usually a pretty safe flex option. However, with him not being at 100 percent and the matchup against Arizona, the NFL’s No. 1 rushing defense, you may be better off leaving Sproles on your bench. The Eagles also are expected to get Chris Polk (Probable, Hamstring) back, which could mean fewer touches for Sproles in the first place.

 

Trent Richardson, RB, Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers

Questionable – Hamstring
Richardson felt something in his hamstring last week, which caused him to depart the game early. While at the time it was deemed to be too serious, Richardson did undergo an MRI on Monday and then proceeded to miss all of practice. Richardson’s injury has been referred to as a sore hamstring, but it must be bad enough considering he’s listed as Questionable and will more than likely be a game-time decision. Richardson leads the Colts in both carries and rushing yards, but his numbers still haven’t been that spectacular (358 yds., 2 TDs), as Ahmad Bradshaw has been the more productive back. Throw in a late kickoff (4:25 p.m. ET) and it sounds like Richardson would be better off sitting this one out.

 

Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (Mon.)

Questionable – Ankle
This much is clear: RG3 is getting closer to getting back on the field. He took part in practice every day, but the understanding is that third-stringer Colt McCoy and not Griffin (or Kirk Cousins) will get the start on Monday night against Dallas. Head coach Jay Gruden has yet to make it official, but all indications are that he’s not quite ready to give the job back to RG3. He has said that if RG3 is not the starter, he won’t be the backup either, so for now keep RG3 on your bench and check back next week. In the meantime neither McCoy nor Cousins have much fantasy appeal, even for 2-QB leagues.

 
Already Ruled Out:

 

Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills – C.J. Spiller is on injured reserve with a designation to return because of a broken collarbone he suffered last week. Jackson also left that game on a cart because of a groin injury, and he’s expected to be sidelined up to a month. Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown will take over in the backfield. Brown has started before (posted three 100-yard games when he was with the Eagles in 2012-13) and carries more upside potential, but Dixon figures to get the bulk of the carries at least early on. The Jets’ defense has been pretty good against the run, but it’s also given up some big yards on two different occasions. Dixon is worthy of flex discussion this week, but Brown is the one to keep an eye on, especially if he busts out today.

 

Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas, RBs, New Orleans Saints – The Saints will be missing two of their top backs as Robinson won’t play tonight because of a forearm injury and Thomas is expected to miss a few games because of a shoulder injury. Fortunately, Mark Ingram returned from his broken hand last week and will carry the load against the Packers. Travaris Cadet will back him up and also serve in Thomas’ role as a receiving threat out of the backfield. Ingram is pretty much locked in as a RB2 and could do even more against the Packers’ 31st-ranked rushing defense. Cadet meanwhile could be a sneaky flex play in PPR leagues.

 

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers – Williams will miss another game, as his ankle injury hasn’t progressed enough to allow him to return to practice. Fozzy Whittaker (thigh) also has been ruled out, leaving Jonathan Stewart and Darrin Reaves to carry the load for the Panthers. Stewart figures to see the bulk of the carries and he’s the only one worth consideration this week. Other than Cam Newton, the Panthers have had trouble running the ball consistently and it doesn’t figure to get any easier against Seattle today. Stewart is a risky RB2, but he could provide decent value if employed as a flex option.

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Detroit’s tight end situation is a mess for Week 8, while New Orleans may not know until around kickoff if it will have its All-Pro on the field. Here’s the latest on those situations and some TE injuries.

 
Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints vs. Green Bay Packers

Questionable – Shoulder
Unlike last week, Graham practiced to some degree every day. So even though he’s Questionable again, he seems a safer bet to play this week compared to last. He’s still probably going to be a game-time decision, and this time the Saints don’t play until Sunday night. So the timing of the game definitely needs to be taken into consideration. Also don’t forget that while Graham did play last week, he was nothing more than a decoy (2 targets, 0 catches). He also hasn’t been talking to anyone, so there’s really no way to gauge how Graham’s shoulder feels or how the Saints plan on using him against the Packers. Graham is the No. 1 fantasy TE without question, but how much of a stomach do you have for another potential scoreless showing?

 
Martellus Bennett, TE, Chicago Bears at New England Patriots

Probable – Hamstring
Bennett put a scare into his fantasy owners earlier this week when he did not practice on Wednesday due to a hamstring injury and followed that up with only limited participation on Thursday. It looks like you can breathe easier, however, as Bennett was a full go on Friday and is listed as Probable. The Bears’ offense has struggled at times, but Bennett’s been pretty consistent. He’s currently fourth at his position in fantasy points and is a must-start TE1.

 

Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs vs. St. Louis Rams

Probable – Ribs
Kelce’s dealing with some sore ribs and he was limited in practice on both Wednesday and Thursday. Fortunately, he was a full go on Friday and is listed as Probable for today’s game. Kelce has been a top 10 fantasy TE thus far, but his production has been up and down at times too. He oozes TE1 upside, but the Chiefs just don’t seem to be ready to trust him as a blocker, which has impacted his snap count. As long as Kelce isn’t a surprise last-minute scratch, he should be in your lineup because he’s a red-zone threat who also is capable of breaking off a big play any time he get his hands on the ball.

 

Eric Ebron, Joseph Fauria and Brandon Pettigrew, TEs, Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons

Out – Hamstring; Out – Ankle; Doubtful – Foot
Now is not a good time to be a Lions TE, as Ebron and Fauria have already been ruled out for today’s game in London. Pettigrew isn’t in much better shape, as his foot injury held him out of practice this week. He’s listed as Doubtful and even if he does play, Pettigrew is not worth investing in despite a seemingly appealing matchup against the Falcons’ porous defense. With Reggie Bush Doubtful and Calvin Johnson Questionable, Matthew Stafford is going to lean heavily on Joique Bell and Golden Tate.

 
Charles Clay, TE, Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars

Probable – Knee
Clay finally got into the end zone last week against Chicago and has certainly been more involved in the offense since the Dolphins’ bye week. His knee injury is still limiting him in practice, but he’s listed as Probable, so he should be out there today against the Jaguars. Clay’s not back to must-start TE1 status yet, but I can get on board with using him in 2-TE leagues or as a flex in deeper leagues.

 

Already Ruled Out:

 

Owen Daniels, Baltimore Ravens – Daniels appeared on the injury report on Wednesday after not practicing, but word out of Ravens camp was that their starting TE was “fine.” Apparently that wasn’t the case, as coach John Harbaugh announced on Friday that Daniels underwent a procedure on his knee and would miss today’s game. Whether the team’s second-leading receiver misses more than one game remains to be seen, but with Daniels sidelined and Dennis Pitta on injured reserve (hip), the Ravens most likely will start third-round pick Crockett Gillmore today. For now, there’s no reason to drop Daniels nor is there a reason to rush and add Gillmore to your roster.

 

Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings – Rudolph underwent surgery for a sports hernia on Sept. 23. The projected time frame for his recovery is a minimum of six weeks, which would put a potential return around mid-November. If you have room, I would keep Rudolph; just understand this will be a prolonged absence.

 

Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars – Lewis is on the injured reserve/designated for return list because of a high ankle sprain. Unless you have an IR spot and/or are smitten with Lewis, there’s no reason to hold onto him or even stash him away.

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Peyton Manning not only laid claim to another record, he also holds the No. 1 spot in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings for Week 8. With four touchdown passes in Denver’s convincing win over San Francisco, Manning passed Brett Favre’s 508 career touchdown pass total, a number he’s likely to put completely out of reach before he retires. Manning and the Broncos have a short turnaround this week with Philip Rivers and the Chargers on tap for Thursday night. Meanwhile, no quarterback has been hotter recently than Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay has won its past four games by an average of 19.3 points, as Rodgers has looked the part of an MVP candidate: 71 percent completion rate, 977 yards, 13 TDs and no interceptions. Rodgers will look to continue his hot streak when he goes head-to-head against Drew Brees and the Saints in the Superdome on Sunday night.

 

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

 

Teams on bye: New York Giants, San Francisco

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Peyton ManningDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
2Aaron RodgersGBat NO
3Andrew LuckINDat PIT
4Drew BreesNOvs. GB
5Russell WilsonSEAat CAR
6Philip RiversSDat DEN (Thurs.)
7Tom BradyNEvs. CHI
8Tony RomoDALvs. WAS (Mon.)
9Jay CutlerCHIat NE
10Nick FolesPHIat ARI
11Carson PalmerARIvs. PHI
12Matthew StaffordDETvs. ATL (London)
13Cam NewtonCARvs. SEA
14Ryan TannehillMIAat JAC
15Matt RyanATLvs. DET (London)
16Alex SmithKCvs. STL
17Joe FlaccoBALat CIN
18Ben RoethlisbergerPITvs. IND
19Kyle OrtonBUFat NYJ
20Andy DaltonCINvs. BAL
21Mike GlennonTBvs. MIN
22Austin DavisSTLat KC
23Teddy BridgewaterMINat TB
24Brian HoyerCLEvs. OAK
25Geno SmithNYJvs. BUF
26Ryan FitzpatrickHOUat TEN

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

 

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No surprise that DeMarco Murray continues to lead the way in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings for Week 8. Not only is Murray leading the NFL in rushing by nearly 300 yards, he also is the first player in history to post seven straight 100-yard games to start the season. Murray faces an interesting test Monday night against a Washington defense that’s been pretty good against the run. Meanwhile, last year’s rushing champion, LeSean McCoy, finally broke through in a big way two weeks ago with 149 yards rushing against the Giants. McCoy should be fresh coming off of a bye, but he must head out West for a showdown against Arizona’s stingy defense. The Cardinals are No. 1 in the league in rushing defense and in terms of fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing RBs. McCoy’s a must-start player, but he barely made our top 10 because of this matchup.

 

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs

 

Teams on bye: New York Giants, San Francisco

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1DeMarco MurrayDALvs. WAS (Mon.)
2Matt ForteCHIat NE
3Marshawn LynchSEAat CAR
4Arian FosterHOUat TEN
5Jamaal CharlesKCvs. STL
6Le'Veon BellPITvs. IND
7Andre EllingtonARIvs. PHI
8Lamar MillerMIAat JAC
9LeSean McCoyPHIat ARI
10Eddie LacyGBat NO
11Justin ForsettBALat CIN
12Ben TateCLEvs. OAK
13Giovani BernardCINvs. BAL
14Joique BellDETvs. ATL (London)
15Ahmad BradshawINDat PIT
16Branden OliverSDat DEN (Thurs.)
17Shane VereenNEvs. CHI
18Ronnie HillmanDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
19Alfred MorrisWASat DAL (Mon.)
20Jerick McKinnonMINat TB
21Chris IvoryNYJvs. BUF
22Mark IngramNOvs. GB
23Doug MartinTBvs. MIN
24Tre MasonSTLat KC
25Darren McFaddenOAKat CLE
26Reggie BushDETvs. ATL (London)
27Bishop SankeyTENvs. HOU
28Anthony DixonBUFat NYJ
29Denard RobinsonJACvs. MIA
30Trent RichardsonINDat PIT
31Steven JacksonATLvs. DET (London)
32Isaiah CrowellCLEvs. OAK
33Jonathan StewartCARvs. SEA
34Darren SprolesPHIat ARI
35Khiry RobinsonNOvs. GB
36Bernard PierceBALat CIN
37Bobby RaineyTBvs. MIN
38James StarksGBat NO
39Bryce BrownBUFat NYJ
40Benny CunninghamSTLat KC
41Jeremy HillCINvs. BAL
42Chris JohnsonNYJvs. BUF
43Knile DavisKCvs. STL
44Matt AsiataMINat TB
45Travaris CadetNOvs. GB
46Stepfan TaylorARIvs. PHI
47Zac StacySTLat KC
48Alfred BlueHOUat TEN

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit www.FantasyRundown.com.

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Running Back Rankings: Week 8
Post date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-wide-receiver-rankings-week-8
Body:

Demaryius Thomas isn’t leading his position in fantasy points, but no one has been more productive recently, which is why he leads off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings for Week 8. Besides helping teammate Peyton Manning make history on Sunday night, Thomas has caught five touchdown passes in the last three games alone while scoring a total of 95.1 fantasy points (Athlon scoring) during that span. In other WR news, the hope is that A.J. Green will be back after missing the past two games with a toe injury. Our No. 9 ranking shows that we share in this optimism, but this is definitely a situation to keep an eye on as the week progresses. The outlook isn’t as promising, however, as it relates to Calvin Johnson. Megatron did return to practice this week, which is a good sign, but with Detroit’s bye on the horizon there’s really no reason to rush him back for Sunday’s game in London against Atlanta. Especially considering how well Golden Tate has played in Johnson’s absence. In the last four games, Tate has put up Megatron-esque numbers (32 rec., 448 yds., 2 TDs), which is why he checks in at No. 7 this week.

 

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers

 

Teams on bye: New York Giants, San Francisco

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Demaryius ThomasDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
2Jordy NelsonGBat NO
3Dez BryantDALvs. WAS (Mon.)
4Antonio BrownPITvs. IND
5Randall CobbGBat NO
6Jeremy MaclinPHIat ARI
7Golden TateDETvs. ATL (London)
8Julio JonesATLvs. DET (London)
9A.J. GreenCINvs. BAL
10T.Y. HiltonINDat PIT
11Mike WallaceMIAat JAC
12Emmanuel SandersDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
13Brandon MarshallCHIat NE
14Julian EdelmanNEvs. CHI
15Alshon JefferyCHIat NE
16Steve SmithBALat CIN
17Andre JohnsonHOUat TEN
18Vincent JacksonTBvs. MIN
19Michael FloydARIvs. PHI
20Kelvin BenjaminCARvs. SEA
21Sammy WatkinsBUFat NYJ
22DeSean JacksonWASat DAL (Mon.)
23Pierre GarconWASat DAL (Mon.)
24Terrance WilliamsDALvs. WAS (Mon.)
25Doug BaldwinSEAat CAR
26Roddy WhiteATLvs. DET (London)
27Marques ColstonNOvs. GB
28DeAndre HopkinsHOUat TEN
29Keenan AllenSDat DEN (Thurs.)
30Larry FitzgeraldARIvs. PHI
31Percy HarvinNYJvs. BUF
32Torrey SmithBALat CIN
33Brandin CooksNOvs. GB
34Eric DeckerNYJvs. BUF
35Kendall WrightTENvs. HOU
36Brian QuickSTLat KC
37Mohamed SanuCINvs. BAL
38Wes WelkerDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
39James JonesOAKat CLE
40Andre HolmesOAKat CLE
41Dwayne BoweKCvs. STL
42Cecil ShortsJACvs. MIA
43Greg JenningsMINat TB
44Mike EvansTBvs. MIN
45Justin HunterTENvs. HOU
46Cordarrelle PattersonMINat TB
47Brandon LaFellNEvs. CHI
48Malcom FloydSDat DEN (Thurs.)

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:                                            

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit www.FantasyRundown.com

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 8
Post date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-tight-end-rankings-week-8
Body:

Julius Thomas didn’t catch a touchdown pass for the first game this season, but that’s not enough to knock him from his perch atop Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 8. As good as Thomas has been, however, Greg Olsen currently leads TEs in fantasy points. Thomas’ nine touchdown grabs are still pacing not only his position, but the entire NFL, while perennial fantasy stud Antonio Gates isn’t too far behind with seven. Injuries also continue to be a factor. Jimmy Graham’s sprained shoulder didn’t prevent him from playing last week, but he was nothing more than a decoy (2 targets, 0 catches) in the Saints’ loss to the Lions. Now Graham owners must decide whether to take their chances on starting him this week or look elsewhere.

 

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

 

Teams on bye: New York Giants, San Francisco

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Julius ThomasDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
2Rob GronkowskiNEvs. CHI
3Greg OlsenCARvs. SEA
4Martellus BennettCHIat NE
5Antonio GatesSDat DEN (Thurs.)
6Jimmy GrahamNOvs. GB
7Delanie WalkerTENvs. HOU
8Jordan ReedWASat DAL (Mon.)
9Travis KelceKCvs. STL
10Dwayne AllenINDat PIT
11Zach ErtzPHIat ARI
12Jordan CameronCLEvs. OAK
13Owen DanielsBALat CIN
14Jason WittenDALvs. WAS (Mon.)
15Charles ClayMIAat JAC
16Heath MillerPITvs. IND
17Coby FleenerINDat PIT
18Jared CookSTLat KC
19Clay HarborJACvs. MIA
20Jace AmaroNYJvs. BUF
21Scott ChandlerBUFat NYJ
22Austin Seferian-JenkinsTBvs. MIN
23Niles PaulWASat DAL (Mon.)
24Jermaine GreshamCINvs. BAL

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit www.FantasyRundown.com

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Tight End Rankings: Week 8
Post date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-8
Body:

Sometimes it’s all about matchups and that’s definitely the case here as it relates to Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings for Week 8. For the season, Miami’s DST Is averaging 10.2 fantasy points (Athlon scoring), which places the Dolphins seventh. Jacksonville has allowed the most sacks in the NFL and is giving up 15.1 fantasy points per game to opposing DSTs. Sometimes it really is that simple. If Miami isn’t to your liking or is unavailable in your league perhaps Indianapolis’ DST would interest you? The Colts may have Andrew Luck, but this defense is coming off of a shutout of the Bengals and has posted double-digit fantasy points in each of their past five games. Indy also is one spot ahead of Miami in terms of fantasy points per game (10.9) on the season.

 

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

 

Teams on bye: New York Giants, San Francisco

 

RankPlayerOpp
1Miami Dolphinsat JAC
2Detroit Lionsvs. ATL (London)
3Buffalo Billsat NYJ
4Houston Texansat TEN
5Dallas Cowboysvs. WAS (Mon.)
6New England Patriotsvs. CHI
7Kansas City Chiefsvs. STL
8Baltimore Ravensat CIN
9Denver Broncosvs. SD (Thurs.)
10Indianapolis Coltsat PIT
11Philadelphia Eaglesat ARI
12Seattle Seahawksat CAR
13Arizona Cardinalsvs. PHI
14Cleveland Brownsvs. OAK
15Cincinnati Bengalsvs. BAL
16Tampa Bay Buccaneersvs. MIN

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

DEFENSIVE SCORING
0 points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit www.FantasyRundown.com

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 8
Post date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-kicker-rankings-week-8
Body:

Stephen Gostkowski continues to lead the way in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings for Week 8, but a rookie out West also has made an impact with his leg. Chandler Catanzaro has rewarded the faith Arizona showed in the undrafted rookie from Clemson. The Cardinals cut veteran Jay Feely late in training camp, handing the starting kicking job to Catanzaro and all he’s done is go 11-for-11 on extra points and 15-for-15 on field goals, including six-for-six from 40 yards and out. He’s a top 10 fantasy kicker right now and don’t forget that unlike some of the others ahead of him, Catanzaro has played one less game because of a bye.

 

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

 

Teams on bye: New York Giants, San Francisco

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Stephen GostkowskiNEvs. CHI
2Dan BaileyDALvs. WAS (Mon.)
3Adam VinatieriINDat PIT
4Chandler CatanzaroARIvs. PHI
5Justin TuckerBALat CIN
6Brandon McManusDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
7Cody ParkeyPHIat ARI
8Steven HauschkaSEAat CAR
9Nick NovakSDat DEN (Thurs.)
10Blair WalshMINat TB
11Mason CrosbyGBat NO
12Dan CarpenterBUFat NYJ
13Shaun SuishamPITvs. IND
14Robbie GouldCHIat NE
15Caleb SturgisMIAat JAC
16Matt BryantATLvs. DET (London)

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

KICKER SCORING
PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Kicker Rankings: Week 8
Post date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, waiver wire, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-waiver-wire-week-8
Body:

While injuries continue to leave their mark on the fantasy landscape, the Week 8 outlook has already been impacted by something that happened off of the field. On Saturday, Seattle traded wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Jets for a conditional 2015 draft pick, shaking up the depth chart at the position for both teams. As it relates to this exercise, the biggest beneficiaries appear to be Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse (see below), both of whom could be available in your league.

 

Elsewhere, both of Buffalo’s starting running backs had to be carted off the field on Sunday while new ball carriers appear to be emerging for Jacksonville and St. Louis. And that’s just part of the waiver wire story this week with Philadelphia and Tampa Bay coming back from bye and the New York Giants and San Francisco taking Week 8 off.

 

Athlon Sports is here to help you sort through some of the potential free agent options. The players listed in our weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding on to all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may simply want to keep an eye on.

 

Teams on bye: New York Giants, San Francisco

 

Quarterbacks

 

Week 7 Recap: Joe Flacco didn’t repeat his five-touchdown performance from Week 6, but he did add two more to his season total. He also threw two picks, but it didn’t matter much in the Ravens’ 29-7 win over the Falcons. Flacco is still solidly among the top 10 QBs in fantasy scoring for the season.

 

Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

The bruised nerve in his shoulder doesn’t look it’s just going to go away, so Palmer definitely carries a fair amount of injury risk. However, he’s made two straight starts now and in the three games he has played, Palmer’s averaged 23 fantasy points per game (Athlon scoring). Even though it’s a small sample size, Palmer’s per-game average ranks him sixth among QBs for the season. Arizona has enough weapons and a solid enough offensive line, along with a pretty good defense that can create additional scoring opportunities, to at least put Palmer in a position where he can score 20 or more fantasy points on a weekly basis. The question becomes is that enough of a potential reward to accept the inherent risk that comes with Palmer’s shoulder?

 

Running Backs

 

Week 7 Recap: Mark Ingram played for the first time since breaking his hand in Week 2, but he was ineffective (10 att., 16 yds.) against Detroit’s front seven. Neither Ben Tate nor Isaiah Crowell (7 att., 18 yds.) could find any room to run against Jacksonville, as the Browns finished with just 69 yards rushing on 30 carries in the loss to the Jaguars. And Shane Vereen completely dominated the touches on offense (16 total, 114 yds., 2 TDs) in New England’s Thursday night win over the Jets, as Brandon Bolden caught one pass for four yards and didn’t get a single carry.

 

Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon, Buffalo Bills

Sunday’s last-second win against Minnesota was a costly one for Buffalo’s backfield. C.J. Spiller broke his collarbone, most likely ending his season, while Fred Jackson could miss up to a month because of a groin injury. That left Dixon (13 att., 51 yds.) to carry the load. Dixon has been nothing special in his five seasons (3.4 ypc), but he could provide some value, especially if he gets 15-20 carries per game. Whether that happens or not could depend somewhat on Brown. Philadelphia’s seventh-round draft pick in 2012, Brown posted three 100-yard rushing games with the Eagles, including 347 in back-to-back contests in 2012. Acquired by Buffalo via trade during this year’s draft, Brown has yet to see any game action with the Bills, but that could change given the injury situation. Dixon may get the nod for the short term, but Brown carries more upside and seems to be a better fit to fill Spiller’s role after Jackson returns.

 

Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams

It has taken some time, but Mason may finally be taking over as the Rams’ No. 1 ball carrier. The third-round pick didn’t get a single carry in the team’s first four games, but he’s picked up 125 yards on 23 carries (5.4 ypc) over the last two. He led the way with 85 yards on 18 carries and scored his first career touchdown in the impressive win against Seattle on Sunday. Perhaps even more telling than Mason’s increased workload is the fact that starter Zac Stacy and backup Benny Cunningham combined for just two carries, and both of those were by Cunningham. Whether Mason has officially replaced Stacy atop the depth chart remains to be seen, but he’s definitely the hot hand right now and at minimum should be back on your radar.

 

Denard Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars won their first game of the season thanks in large part to Robinson’s 127 yards rushing. Toby Gerhart was sidelined with a foot injury and rookie Storm Johnson got just six carries (16 yds., TD), leaving the rest up to Robinson. The former college quarterback, who also has been used as a wide receiver, wound up with 22 carries and averaged nearly six yards per tote (5.8 ypc) against the Browns. He also scored on an eight-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Even when Gerhart returns, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch may choose to stick with Robinson, since he’s been the Jags’ most productive back thus far. And in some leagues, Robinson may carry eligibility at both RB and WR, which only increases his appeal.

 

Wide Receivers

 

Week 7 Recap: As expected, Rueben Randle led the Giants in targets (nine), while finishing second in both catches (six) and yards (74) in the loss to the Cowboys. The Giants are on bye, but Randle will maintain his status as the team’s No. 1 wide receiver moving forward. Mohamed Sanu shared in the Bengals’ struggles against the Colts, catching just three of nine targets for 54 yards in the shutout loss. Brandon LeFell took a backseat to the Shane Vereen show on Thursday night, but he still topped all Patriot wide receivers in yards with 55. Arizona did a good job limiting Oakland’s big plays, as the Raiders had just one catch of 20 or more yards and it wasn’t by Andre Holmes (3 rec., 34 yds.).

 

Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, Seattle Seahawks

It was quite a weekend for the defending Super Bowl champions, who bid farewell to Percy Harvin before losing to St. Louis on the road. Trading Harvin to the Jets may actually end up being addition by subtraction for the Seahawks and it’s definitely a positive from a fantasy standpoint for Baldwin and possibly Kearse. With Harvin gone, Baldwin is without question Russell Wilson’s No. 1 target, which was evident following the 11 targets Baldwin got against the Rams. He finished with seven catches for 123 yards and a touchdown and there’s no reason to not expect similar production moving forward. Baldwin moves from borderline WR3/flex territory to becoming a pretty safe WR2 with upside. Kearse likewise also could benefit since he takes over as the starter opposite Baldwin. He averaged 16.7 yards on his three catches against St. Louis and Kearse in essence is now what Baldwin was when Harvin was still in Seattle.

 

Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Evans injured his groin in the Buccaneers’ Week 4 win in Pittsburgh. Originally expected to miss between two to four weeks, Evans returned last week against Baltimore, catching his second touchdown in as many games. Now coming off of the bye, Evans has had more time to heal and could be in position to capitalize. After getting off to a slow start, Evans has averaged seven targets over his last three games. He’s caught at least four passes in every game, but has been more productive since Mike Glennon took over for an injured Josh McCown. With the hope that Evans is back to close to being 100 percent healthy, the former Texas A&M star may be ready to show the rest of the league why he was the seventh player taken in May’s draft.

 

Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins

Mike Wallace is the Dolphins’ No. 1 target, but the Miami wide receiver that has made the most waves recently has been Landry. The Fins’ second-round pick in May, Landry has averaged six targets over Miami’s last five games and he caught his first touchdown two weeks ago against Green Bay. This past Sunday, he tied tight end Charles Clay (see below) for second in targets (five) and matched Wallace’s 46 yards receiving in the win in Chicago. At minimum, Landry has replaced Brandon Gibson as the team’s slot receiver, so the rookie should see a fair amount of looks moving forward.

 

Tight Ends

 

Week 7 Recap: Jordan Reed tied for the team lead in targets (six), catching five passes for 54 yards in the Redskins’ win over the Titans. Jimmy Graham ended up playing against Detroit and although he didn’t catch a pass (2 targets), his mere presence pretty much negated any impact Benjamin Watson’s (1 rec., 3 yds.) might have had otherwise.

 

Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins

It’s just one game, but hopefully it’s the start of Clay’s return to fantasy relevance. After doing next to nothing over the first five games, Clay finished with a season-high 58 yards and, more importantly, caught his first touchdown pass since Week 14 of last season in the Dolphins’ road win in Chicago. Clay has been dealing with a knee injury since Week 1, but looked awfully spry against the Bears. I’m not ready to reinstall Clay as an every-week TE1 starting option, but he’s definitely someone I would keep a close eye on moving forward. Don’t forget, Clay was No. 7 in fantasy points among TEs last season.


Defense/Special Teams

 

Week 7 Recap: Buffalo’s DST did indeed bounce back on Sunday against Minnesota, registering five sacks and two INTs on its way to 12 fantasy points. Next up for the Bills, a visit to the Big Apple to play a Jets team that’s ranked sixth in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing DSTs.

 

Indianapolis Colts

Yes, the Colts have Andrew Luck, but maybe it’s time to start taking this defense a little more seriously. Following Sunday’s shutout of Cincinnati, Indianapolis’ DST has posted double-digit fantasy points in five straight games. The Colts have averaged four sacks per game during this span, along with a total of 11 takeaways. For the season, Indy’s DST is sixth in fantasy points and that’s after scoring just three total in the first two games (at DEN, PHI). 

 

Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point PER 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Waiver Wire: Week 8
Post date: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: AFC, Houston Texans, Pittsburgh Steelers, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/houston-texans-vs-pittsburgh-steelers-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Two teams that missed the playoffs last season aiming to get on the right side of .500 will finish off Week 7 in the NFL when the Houston Texans take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” The Texans (3-3) are hoping to put an end to their two-game losing streak while the Steelers (3-3) are looking to bounce back at Heinz Field after a somewhat surprising 31-10 divisional setback to Cleveland last week.

 

After going 2-14 last season, results that netted Houston both a new head coach (Bill O’Brien) and the No. 1 pick in the draft (Jadeveon Clowney), the Texans got off to a 2-0 start, but have lost to the Cowboys in overtime and at home to the Colts in their last two games. Pittsburgh has gone 8-8 in each of the last two seasons, missing the playoffs both times, and has started this season by alternating wins and losses. Both teams are looking up in their respective divisions, but a win tonight would allow the victor to keep pace with the current leader.

 

Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers

 

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Pittsburgh -3.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. J.J. Watt, 2014 NFL MVP?

With apologies to early MVP contenders like DeMarco Murray (league’s leading rusher by a wide margin), Andrew Luck (1,987 yards passing, 19 total TDs), and Philip Rivers (117.6 passer rating, 15:2 TD:INT ratio for 5-1 Chargers), there’s a guy on the other side of the ball who’s putting together an impressive award-worthy season of his own. Six games into the season, not only is J.J. Watt well on his way to taking home his second Defensive Player of the Year award (2012), he also is on the short list of MVP candidates. Houston’s All-Pro defensive end has four sacks and a league-leading 20 quarterback hits, but he’s much more than just a pass-rushing specialist, as evidenced by his six pass breakups (tied with Baltimore DT Haloti Ngata for most by a DL), two fumble recoveries, an interception and a blocked extra point on special teams. Watt also has three touchdowns – one on an 80-yard interception return, another on a 45-yard fumble return and the last coming on a one-yard catch when he lined up as a tight end. So not only has Watt scored more touchdowns thus far than the likes of Calvin Johnson, Frank Gore and many others, he also has as many receiving touchdowns as Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald and teammate Andre Johnson. Watt is making the six-year, $100 million contract extension he signed in September look like a bargain. And if Pittsburgh’s offensive line, which has already given up 17 sacks, and Ben Roethlisberger (3 INTs, 2 lost fumbles) aren’t careful, they may inadvertently end up endorsing Watt’s MVP candidacy tonight.

 

 

2. A More Balanced Pittsburgh Offense?

Entering Week 7, the Steelers rank sixth in the NFL in total offense (396.5 ypg). Their ground game is fifth (137.3 ypg), while the aerial attack checks in at No. 11 (259.2 ypg). Mike Tomlin’s offense is in good hands with Ben Roethlisberger orchestrating things and Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown leading the way, but this unit needs to figure out how to get more production from others, especially in the passing game. Bell is second in the league in rushing (542 yards) and Brown is second in receiving (629) and they also are their team’s leading pass-catchers (Brown 41 receptions, Bell 28). Combined, this duo has been responsible for 60 percent of the team’s total offense and nearly half (6) of the offensive touchdowns (13). Tight end Heath Miller has been a reliable and productive target for Roethlisberger for years and wide receiver Markus Wheaton was expected to emerge following an injury-plagued rookie season, but both have had minimal impacts thus far. They have combined for 50 catches and just one score. This is one of the reasons why despite all of the yards gained, the Steelers are just 23rd in the league in scoring offense (20.7 ppg). Others need to step up on offense or else Bell and Brown’s Pro Bowl-caliber efforts could wind up going to waste. And the same could be said for the Steelers’ postseason hopes too.

 

3. Houston, We’ve Had a Problem… Passing the Football

The Texans are a top 10 team when it comes to running the football (128.5 ypg), but languish in the bottom five in passing offense (208.5). This is why Bill O’Brien’s squad is middle of the pack or worse in both total (337.0 ypg, 19th in NFL) and scoring (22.0 ppg, tied for 21st) offense and is seeking to put an end to its two-game losing streak. Despite missing some time because of a hamstring injury, Arian Foster is third in the league in rushing (513 yards) and has five touchdowns, which is already more than all of last season (two TDs in eight games). Ryan Fitzpatrick on the other hand, hasn’t been near as productive in his first season as Houston’s starting quarterback. Fitzpatrick is averaging 211 yards passing per game with as many touchdowns as interceptions (six each). He’s ranked 12th in completion rate (65.0), but only 24th among starters in passer rating (86.1). All-Pro Andre Johnson and 2013 first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins have combined for just four touchdown catches and only 11 plays of 20 or more yards. And after Foster’s 16 receptions, the only other Texan with at least 10 is tight end Garrett Graham. Houston’s offense has been effective on the ground, but that could change if the passing game continues to sputter. It’s very hard to win in the NFL with a one-dimensional offense, unless that one dimension is throwing the football. And even then you need a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback to get the job done. Care to guess how many Pro Bowls Fitzpatrick has been invited to?

 

Final Analysis

 

J.J. Watt is a grown man and one of the few players in the NFL who is capable of winning a game by himself. Pittsburgh doesn’t have a defensive playmaker close to Watt’s level, but the Steelers are a more talented, well-rounded team. As talented as Watt is, even he can’t do enough as a tight end to make up for Houston’s inefficiencies on offense. Another heavy dose of Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown will be enough to counter a big night from Arian Foster on the ground and Watt’s unrelenting and imposing presence on defense. Pittsburgh sticks to the script it has written thus far by following up last week’s disheartening loss with a satisfying win in front of the home crowd.

 
Prediction: Pittsburgh 24, Houston 20
Teaser:
Houston Texans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, October 20, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/san-francisco-49ers-vs-denver-broncos-preview-and-prediction
Body:

The losers of the past two Super Bowls will take the next step in their quest to get back to that stage when the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos face off tonight on NBC. Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers (4-2) have won three in a row while John Fox’s Broncos (4-1) have won both of their games since their Week 4 bye.

 

These two franchises have spilt their previous 12 regular-season meetings, but it’s the one postseason affair that will always be remembered. San Francisco destroyed Denver 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV, a title game rout that still holds the record for largest margin of victory.

 

San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos

 

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Spread: Denver -6.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Manning Makes More History?

After throwing three touchdown passes last week against the Jets, Peyton Manning has 506 in his career. He needs just three more to pass Brett Favre for No. 1 on the all-time list. Even though Manning is well off of his record-setting pace from last season, he’s still tied for second in the NFL in touchdown passes (15) and is third in passer rating (110.5). He’s thrown just three interceptions while completing 67 percent of his passes. Manning is averaging three touchdowns per game, so he just needs an “average” game against San Francisco to get the record. Will it come tonight? While Manning is focused more on winning than breaking records, it should be pointed out that the 49ers are just one of two teams (Browns the other) Manning has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns against in his career. In four regular-season games, Manning is 2-2 versus San Francisco with six picks compared to five touchdowns and an 81.8 passer rating. Based on his past history, it will take a career-best showing against this 49ers defense for Manning to stake his claim to yet another record. 

 

2. San Francisco’s Spilt Personality on Offense

A signature of John Harbaugh’s teams has been an offense built around running the football. In each of his three seasons as the 49ers head coach, the team has ranked eighth or better in the NFL in rushing offense. San Francisco currently ranks seventh in that category, averaging 135.7 yards rushing per game and trails only Dallas in rushing attempts (192). The formula for the 49ers thus far has been pretty simple – run the ball 30 or more times and win. In four wins, Harbaugh’s team has averaged nearly 36 carries and 151.3 yards rushing per game. In the two losses those numbers drop to 25 and 104.5. While that seems pretty straightforward, San Francisco flipped the script on Monday night when the 49ers had more passing attempts (36) than rushing attempts (30) in the win in St. Louis. To be fair, Colin Kaepernick was more than effective throwing against the Rams’ defense, finishing with a season-high 343 yards and three touchdowns, while the team gained just 89 yards on the ground. The issue is that prior to Monday night, the 49ers had lost the two previous games in which they threw the ball more than they ran it. So as tempting as it may be to let Kaepernick throw it all over the field, the more effective strategy for San Francisco has been to establish the run and use it to wear down the opposition. However, this may be easier said than done tonight. For one, Denver’s offense is certainly capable of striking early and often, putting teams in a position where they are forced to throw to try and keep up. Secondly, the Broncos’ remade defense has been very effective against the run, checking in at No. 4 in the league at 76.8 yards per game. In fact, they are just ahead of the 49ers (79.8) in that category. So while good things tend to happen when San Francisco runs the ball, the question becomes will tonight’s opponent and/or game flow allow the 49ers to do just that?

 

3. Broncos Finding Balance?

Everyone knows about Peyton Manning and Denver’s potent passing attack. And even though the Broncos’ offense is not piling up the yards or points at the record-setting pace it did last season, it’s still been highly effective. Denver is averaging 389 yards (9th in the NFL) and 29.4 points per game (3rd), while wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders both rank in the top 10 in the league in yards receiving and tight end Julius Thomas leads the NFL in touchdowns (nine). But everyone also remembers how Seattle manhandled the AFC champions in Super Bowl XLVIII, which made it painfully clear to Broncos general manager John Elway that he needed to beef up his defense and develop a more balanced offense. Elway spent a lot of money in free agency on the defensive side of the ball, while pinning his hopes of a more effective ground game on second-year running back Montee Ball. Even though Ball suffered a groin strain two weeks ago and wasn’t that productive when he was on the field, Elway’s master plan is starting to bear some fruit. Denver’s defense currently ranks fourth in the league in yards allowed, which is better than the offense. The Broncos are giving up less than 21 points per game and also have been very solid against the run (76.8 ypg, 4th). And while the rushing offense is well back in the pack (91.2 ypg, 26th), Denver has averaged 115 yards per game since its Week 4 bye and has done this against two pretty decent defenses (Arizona and the New York Jets). Ronnie Hillman rushed for 100 last week in his first start as Ball’s replacement and the more success he and the other backs have moving forward will only make things easier on Manning and the passing game. But again, if the defense continues to play as well as it has, the offense won’t need to carry this team by itself. In other words, the Broncos are sticking to the blueprint that Elway laid out in the offseason.

 

Final Analysis

 

After an early rough patch, San Francisco has turned things around in large part by doing what it does best – run the football. Denver meanwhile has started to change its image, as the defense has kept up with the offense in terms of statistical success. The 49ers’ defense is still pretty good in its own right, but its depth has been tested constantly due to injuries and Aldon Smith’s nine-game suspension. Even with Peyton Manning on the verge of breaking Brett Favre’s record for career touchdown passes, the key to this game is the other side of the ball. In that respect, I think Jim Harbaugh’s defense is just too banged up and will eventually wear down in the thin air at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Manning may not break Favre’s record tonight, but he’ll still get the chance to celebrate after the game.

 
Prediction: Denver 27, San Francisco 20
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Arizona’s offense should be close to full strength for Week 7 while Carolina is ready to welcome back one of its top running backs. Here are some QB and RB injury updates from around the NFL to help with your fantasy preparations.

 
Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals at Oakland Raiders

Probable – Foot
Yes, Ellington practiced on only a limited basis this week. Yes, he’s listed as Probable for this afternoon’s game. Yes, he should be in your starting lineup, as he’s averaging 20 touches per game and is facing a Raiders defense that’s 10th in the league in fantasy points allowed to opposing RBs. And yes, he’s a top-10 RB again this week. Any more questions?

 

Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers (Mon.)

Probable – Groin
Foster was limited on Thursday, but he practiced fully both Friday and Saturday. The Texans are trying to limit the wear and tear on their workhorse by resting him earlier in the week. He’s listed as Probable and will be aiming for his fifth 100-yard game of the season on Monday night against the Steelers. Outside of a six-yard effort in Week 4, Foster has averaged 126.8 yards rushing in his four other games.

 

Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks

Probable – Ankle
Just like last week, Stacy sat out the first day of practice to rest, but was a full go the rest of the week. He’s listed as Probable and should see the bulk of the work against the Seahawks. Stacy had just 17 yards rushing in the Monday night loss to San Francisco, but still wound up with the most carries (eight) on the team. The production just hasn’t been there this season for Stacy, who has seen his stock drop from RB1 to flex territory.

 

Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals at Oakland Raiders

Probable – Shoulder
Despite being Questionable last week, Palmer not only got the start, he also led his Cardinals to a win over Washington. The bruised nerve in Palmer’s shoulder remains an issue and continues to limit him in practice, but apparently it’s being managed enough considering he is listed as Probable. While the risk of relying on Palmer is obvious, he’s also produced an average of 23.9 fantasy points in the two games he has played. Today’s matchup against Oakland shouldn’t scare anyone away if they had thoughts of using Palmer in a 2-QB league or were looking for another option at the position.

 

Darrin Reaves, Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, RBs, Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers

Questionable – Calf; Probable – Knee; Out – Ankle
The big takeaway from the Panthers’ injury report is that Stewart should be back after missing the past two games. He was able to practice fully and is listed as Probable. With Williams already ruled Out and Reaves Questionable, Stewart figures to be the Panthers’ top ball carrier today. However, don’t forget that Cam Newton actually paced the team in rushing (17 att.,107 yds., TD) last week while Reaves and Fozzy Whittaker combined for 42 yards on 17 carries (2.5 ypc). Stewart is somewhat appealing, but he doesn’t have the strongest track record and it appears that Ron Rivera doesn’t have any concerns about Newton’s surgically repaired ankle. I’m fine if you want to take a flyer on Stewart today, just be sure to temper your expectations.

 

Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders vs. Arizona Cardinals

Probable – Ankle/Knee
Carr was Questionable last week yet still played and posted the best numbers (282-4-1) of his brief NFL career. He got in two full days of practice and is listed as Probable. Carr’s potential is intriguing, and the Cardinals are sixth in fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs. There’s plenty of risk if you decide to take a flyer on Carr this week, but the payoff could be worth it, especially in 2-QB leagues.

 

Already Ruled Out:

 

Rashad Jennings, New York Giants – Jennings will miss a second straight game due to a sprained MCL, but the hope is he will be able to return following the Giants’ Week 8 bye. Andre Williams and Peyton Hillis will handle the workload in Jennings’ absence. Williams remains the more appealing fantasy option, even though he struggled in his first career start (17 att., 59 yds.) last week in Philadelphia. Williams should not be viewed as anything more than a RB2/flex option until he produces on the field.

 

Montee Ball, RB, Denver Broncos – Ball will miss his second straight game due to a groin strain. Ronnie Hillman was a workhorse for the Broncos last week, rushing 24 times for 100 yards against the Jets. Hillman is no worse than a RB2, as he also is capable of making plays as a receiver. Juwan Thompson (Probable, Knee) picked up 38 yards on eight carries last week and should remain somewhat active today. Thompson should be monitored, but he’s probably a target in deeper leagues only for the time being.

 

Donald Brown and Ryan Mathews, RBs, San Diego Chargers – Neither Brown (concussion) nor Mathews (MCL sprain) practiced this week, meaning Branden Oliver will get at least one more start. Oliver has been fantasy gold these past two weeks, rushing for a total of 215 yards and two touchdowns with eight catches for 91 yards and another score. The Chiefs’ defense figures to be a tough test for the undrafted rookie, but Oliver is still a top-10 option because of the likelihood he will see 20-30 touches.

Teaser:
Fantasy Football Week 7 Injury Updates: Arian Foster, Andre Ellington, Carson Palmer, Jonathan Stewart
Post date: Sunday, October 19, 2014 - 06:30
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Detroit’s and New Orleans’ backfields should be close to full strength for their Week 7 matchup while injuries have caused some shuffling in Denver and Jacksonville. Here some key backfield injuries to track before today’s games kickoff.

 
Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints at Detroit Lions

Probable – Hand
The Saints are coming off of their bye and should be back to full strength in their backfield. Ingram broke his hand back in Week 2 and has been sidelined since. He returned to practice this week and is listed as Probable. Before the injury, Ingram was off to a great start, averaging six yards per carry with three touchdowns. Ingram’s return means fewer carries for Khiry Robinson, while Pierre Thomas (right, who also is Probable even though an illness limited his practice time) will remain the primary receiving threat out of the backfield. Ingram should be a viable RB2 moving forward, although today’s matchup against Detroit won’t be easy. Thomas’ use has been inconsistent, but he did score two touchdowns in Week 5 against Tampa Bay. RB2 potential also is there for Thomas, but right now he’s no more than a flex option.

 

Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions vs. New Orleans Saints

Probable – Ankle
Bush was present for parts of Wednesday and Thursday’s practices and was a full go on Friday. He is listed as Probable and it sounds like he will be back after missing last week’s game. And Bush also has some extra motivation based on today’s matchup against the team that drafted him. Joique Bell could end up with more carries, but Bush should be involved enough as a receiver, especially with Calvin Johnson not expected to play, to provide RB2/flex production.

 

Ben Tate, RB, Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars

Probable – Finger
Tate picked up two rushing touchdowns last week against Pittsburgh, as the Browns continued their strong play. He’s still listed on the injury report with a finger issue, but he was a full practice participant all week and is Probable to face the Jaguars. The Browns are making a point of running the ball, so Tate should get plenty of touches against a generous Jacksonville defense. Tate checks in as a top-10 option this week and it’s possible that backup Isaiah Crowell winds up with enough carries to merit flex consideration.

 
Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans at Washington Redskins

Questionable – Hand
Locker did return to practice this week, but he was limited every day. Locker is listed as Questionable, but even if he plays it looks like he won’t be 100 percent healthy. It’s also not like Locker was lighting it up when he was playing. Whether it’s Locker or Charlie Whitehurst getting the start today, there’s enough uncertainty present to push the two Titan QBs way down the board in terms of starting options for this week.

 

Already Ruled Out:

 

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Miami Dolphins – After missing three games with a dislocated elbow, Moreno returned last week only to suffer a season-ending knee injury (torn ACL). Moreno’s loss means the workload belongs solely to Lamar Miller, who is now locked in as a RB2.

 

Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redksins – RG3 took the next step in his recovery from the dislocated ankle he suffered in Week 2 by returning to practice this week. He was limited and has already been ruled out, but it may not be too long before Jay Gruden has a decision to make at QB. Kirk Cousins has had his chances, but turnovers continue to haunt him. If Cousins can’t put together a strong game against the Titans’ defense, he may make Gruden’s decision that much easier. Despite Cousins’ struggles, this matchup with Tennessee is appealing enough to keep him on the QB-2 radar.

 

Toby Gerhart, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars – Gerhart will miss a second straight game because of a foot injury that won’t even let him practice. Storm Johnson led the team with 10 carries last week, but he totaled just 21 yards while Denard Robinson and Jordan Todman combined for 23 yards on eight carries. With all of the Jaguars’ struggles on offense, this backfield should be monitored and not utilized until further notice.

 

Shonn Greene, RB, Tennessee Titans – Greene went from Doubtful on Friday to Out on Saturday, so it will be the Bishop Sankey show for a second straight game. Sankey is worthy of RB2 consideration although it should be pointed out that Washington has done a pretty good against the run. The Redskins are 24th in terms of fantasy points allowed to RBs.

Teaser:
Week 7 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Reggie Bush, Mark Ingram, Ben Tate, Jake Locker
Post date: Sunday, October 19, 2014 - 06:30
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Cincinnati and the New York Giants will both be without their top wide receivers in Week 7. Find out who will fill in and whether or not they should be on your fantasy radar this week.

 
Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers

Probable – Ankle
A nagging ankle issue limited Johnson early on this week, but he got in a full session on Saturday. He is listed as Probable, so Johnson is safe to start against the Steelers. Johnson does have three touchdown catches, which is good considering he has topped six targets in a game just once this season. Still, the potential for a breakout game is every present, which is why Johnson is pretty much locked in as a top-15 WR.

 

A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts

Doubtful – Toe
The Bengals’ injury situation at wide receiver only got worse this week. First, Marvin Jones was put on injured reserve due to an ankle injury, ending his season. Green meanwhile did not practice. After initially expressing some optimism on Green’s possible availability, Marvin Lewis changed his tune and said there’s “no time table” on when the All-Pro will be able to return from this toe injury. Green may be listed as Doubtful, but there’s no doubt in my mind – Green will not play. Mohamed Sanu filled in admirably (10-120-1) last week and should be another solid play today.

 
Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona Cardinals at Oakland Raiders

Probable – Groin
Floyd was limited in practice on Wednesday due to a groin injury, but was able to participate fully Thursday and Friday. He’s listed as Probable and even though his numbers haven’t been that impressive (16-306-1), the potential is still there, especially as long as Carson Palmer is under center. Floyd is a pretty safe WR2 with upside and he’s ranked among Athlon’s top 20 WRs this week.

 
Mike Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins at Chicago Bears

Probable – Foot
A foot issue continues to limit Wallace’s practice participation, but he doesn’t appear to be in any danger of not playing. He’s listed as Probable and needs to be your lineup as a WR2 based on him being the Dolphins’ most consistent and productive (25 rec., 4 TDs) target thus far.

 

Already Ruled Out:


Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants – Cruz tore the patellar tendon in his right knee in the Sunday night loss in Philadelphia. He underwent surgery earlier this week and is out for the rest of the season. In Cruz’ absence, Rueben Randle takes over as the Giants’ No. 1 wide receiver with rookie Odell Beckham Jr. sliding into the other starting spot. Randle is now in WR2 territory while Beckham is more of a WR3/flex option for now, but there’s plenty of upside too, especially in Beckham’s case.

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Week 7 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: A.J. Green, Andre Johnson, Michael Floyd, Mike Wallace
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Detroit figures to be without its No. 1 wide receiver in Week 7, while Carolina is hoping its top wideout will be cleared to play. Here are some key WR injuries to read up on before setting your starting lineup.

 

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers

Questionable – Concussion
The Panthers’ first-round pick suffered a concussion last week against the Bengals. He did not practice Wednesday or Thursday while going through the league-mandated concussion protocols, but was a full go on Friday. He’s listed as Questionable, and did make the trip with the team to Green Bay, which is a good sign he's at least on track to play. Benjamin has been as good as advertised in his first season, currently just outside of the top 10 in fantasy points at his position. All indications are that Benjamin will be cleared to play, and if he's out there, he needs to be in your lineup.

 

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions vs. New Orleans Saints

Questionable - Ankle
While the mere fact that Johnson has gone from Doubtful last week to Questionable is a good sign, I wouldn’t get my hopes up too much. He missed all of practice for the second straight week, and Jim Caldwell went as far to say “miracles have happened” when asked about Johnson’s chances to play. Johnson himself said he doesn’t intend to return until he’s confident he’s 100 percent, so it seems highly unlikely Megatron will be out there today. Reggie Bush’s expected return also takes off some of the pressure in rushing Johnson back. Once again, Golden Tate should serve as Matthew Stafford’s primary target, putting him in WR2 territory.

 

Harry Douglas, Devin Hester and Julio Jones, WRs, Atlanta Falcons at Baltimore Ravens

Out – Foot; Probable – Hamstring; Probable – Ankle
Douglas’ foot injury continues to be an issue, keeping Douglas out of yet another game. Hester and Jones are both expected to play, as each practiced in full on Friday and are listed as Probable. Jones, as always is a must-start WR1 with Hester measuring up as a slightly risky WR3/flex option.

 
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings at Buffalo Bills

Probable – Hip
Patterson was a full go at practice this week and is listed as Probable, so his health seems to be the least of his issues. Instead, it’s the four catches for 23 measly yards that he’s provided over the last two games combined. Patterson has gone from a disappointment to an outright bust and fantasy owners aren’t the only ones who are frustrated with him. Mike Zimmer, Patterson’s head coach, said his talented, but maddeningly inconsistent wide receiver needs to do a better job of getting open. Patterson posted a strong second half last season and at this point that’s probably the best his owners can hope for. Until he does something meaningful on the field, I wouldn’t have Patterson in my starting lineup.

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At tight end, the biggest injury-related question for Week 7 is will Jimmy Graham play or not? But Graham’s not the only prominent TE that appears on the injury report that you need to know about.

 

Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos

Probable – Back
The good news is that after not playing in Week 5, Davis was back in there on Monday night against St. Louis. The better news is that even with a short turnaround, Davis was a full practice participant every day and is listed as Probable. Now Davis’ owners hope he gets back to the player he was in Week 1 when he caught two touchdown passes. Since then, Davis has seven catches for 77 yards in three games. That said, unless you have a better option, you’re starting Davis and hope this is the week he breaks out again.

 
Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints at Detroit Lions

Questionable – Shoulder
Graham injured his shoulder two weeks ago against Tampa Bay and even though the Saints were on bye last week, reports were that the Saints’ All-Pro tight end would miss up to three more weeks because of the injury. Graham may prove a lot of people wrong, as he did enough in practice on Thursday and Friday to merit a Questionable tag, leaving open the possibility of him playing today. Graham will be a game-time decision, so the 1 p.m. ET kickoff should help in that respect. Even if he does play, Graham figures to be limited, but considering who we are talking about, it’s certainly worth waiting until the last minute to see if he can give it a go or not. Besides, you’re not going to really rely on Benjamin Watson are you?

 

Related: 5 Tight Ends to Replace Jimmy Graham

 

Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers

Probable – Ankle
After being listed as Questionable a week ago because of his ankle, Olsen got in full practices on both Thursday and Friday. He’s listed as Probable, so the No. 2 scoring TE in fantasy is perfectly safe to employ today.

 

Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars

Probable – Ankle/Shoulder
Cameron caught just three passes last week, but they went for 102 yards and a touchdown (51-yard catch), as he showed why he was one of the first TEs off of the board in fantasy drafts. Cameron’s still listed with ankle and shoulder injuries, but he was a full practice participant this week and is Probable once again. At this point, there seems to be no reason to worry about whether to plug Cameron into your lineup or not.


Eric Ebron, TE, Detroit Lions vs. New Orleans Saints

Doubtful - Hamstring
Ebron, the Lions’ first-round pick, suffered a hamstring injury in practice on Wednesday, which sidelined him for the rest of the week. He’s listed as Doubtful, but there’s really no reason to expect him to play today. Ebron wasn’t even among the top 30 fantasy scorers at his position prior to the injury, so it shouldn’t be that hard to find a replacement if you were using him. Brandon Pettigrew will see more playing time in Ebron’s absence, but there are probably better options available.

 

Charles Clay, TE, Miami Dolphins at Chicago Bears

Probable – Knee
Clay is coming off his best game yet in terms of yardage, but it was only 35 yards, underlining the fantasy disappointment he’s been this season. His knee still seems to be bothering him since he went from full practice participation on Wednesday and Thursday to being limited on Friday. That said, he is listed as Probable, so the expectation is that he will play. The real question is though should Clay even be in your lineup as a TE2?

 

Already Ruled Out:

 

Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings – Rudolph underwent surgery for a sports hernia on Sept. 23. The projected time frame for his recovery is a minimum of six weeks, which would put a potential return around mid-November. If you have room, I would keep Rudolph; just understand this will be a prolonged absence.

 

Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars – Lewis is on the injured reserve/designated for return list because of a high ankle sprain. Unless you have an IR spot and/or are smitten with Lewis, there’s no reason to hold onto him or even stash him away.

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Several top targets are missing in action as it relates to Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings for Week 7. Victor Cruz is out for the rest of the season with a torn patellar tendon, while Calvin Johnson appears to be a week or two away from returning from the sprained ankle he initially tried to play through. It’s also looking like the Bengals will be without All-Pro A.J. Green another week, as his toe injury continues to bother him. Mohamed Sanu filled in admirably last week in Green’s absence, catching 10 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown, and he remains a solid play this week. Meanwhile for the Giants, Rueben Randle will move into Cruz’ No. 1 spot, increasing his fantasy potential, with rookie Odell Beckham Jr. also receiving a boost as the new starter opposite Randle. Will either or both flourish on Sunday in their new roles against what has been a surprisingly stingy Dallas defense?

 

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 7 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers

 

Teams on bye: Philadelphia, Tampa Bay

 

Updated at 8:45 p.m. ET on 10/17/14 to reflect Percy Harvin being traded to Jets. Harvin removed from rankings because Jets played on Thursday night. Seattle's Doug Baldwin (No. 27) and Jermaine Kearse (No. 45) added.

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Jordy NelsonGBvs. CAR
2Demaryius ThomasDENvs. SF
3Antonio BrownPITvs. HOU (Mon.)
4Julio JonesATLat BAL
5Dez BryantDALvs. NYG
6Brandon MarshallCHIvs. MIA
7Steve SmithBALvs. ATL
8Alshon JefferyCHIvs. MIA
9Randall CobbGBvs. CAR
10Emmanuel SandersDENvs. SF
11T.Y. HiltonINDvs. CIN
12Mike WallaceMIAat CHI
13Andre JohnsonHOUat PIT (Mon.)
14DeSean JacksonWASvs. TEN
15Golden TateDETvs. NO
16Kelvin BenjaminCARat GB
17Julian EdelmanNEvs. NYJ (Thurs.)
18Michael FloydARIat OAK
19Mohamed SanuCINat IND
20Pierre GarconWASvs. TEN
21Reggie WayneINDvs. CIN
22Rueben RandleNYGat DAL
23Larry FitzgeraldARIat OAK
24DeAndre HopkinsHOUat PIT (Mon.)
25Keenan AllenSDvs. KC
26Terrance WilliamsDALvs. NYG
27Doug BaldwinSEAat STL
28Roddy WhiteATLat BAL
29Torrey SmithBALvs. ATL
30Andre HolmesOAKvs. ARI
31Marques ColstonNOat DET
32Brandin CooksNOat DET
33Sammy WatkinsBUFvs. MIN
34James JonesOAKvs. ARI
35Michael CrabtreeSFat DEN
36Odell Beckham Jr.NYGat DAL
37Brian QuickSTLvs. SEA
38Cecil ShortsJACvs. CLE
39Kendall WrightTENat WAS
40Eric DeckerNYJat NE (Thurs.)
41Justin HunterTENat WAS
42Wes WelkerDENvs. SF
43Anquan BoldinSFat DEN
44Andrew HawkinsCLEat JAC
45Jermaine KearseSEAat STL
46Dwayne BoweKCat SD
47Malcom FloydSDvs. KC
48Cordarrelle PattersonMINat BUF

                                            

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit www.FantasyRundown.com

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Fantasy Football 2014 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 7
Post date: Friday, October 17, 2014 - 20:45

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