News and notes to help you make those all-important lineup decisions for Week 9…
Byes: Arizona, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, NY Giants, San Francisco.
• Do you hear that? The sad, tortured, unrelenting sobbing? It’s almost certainly coming from a nearby Tom Brady owner. (The support group – ever growing – meets on alternate Tuesdays.) Last week in this space, we suggested the unthinkable: that the previously reliable fantasy quarterback had become a matchup play. We’re reiterating that point this week. And underlining it. And highlighting it. Despite having Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola back, Brady completed just 13 of 22 passes for 116 yards, one touchdown and one interception, against the Dolphins. In standard scoring leagues, that amounted to only eight points. In eight games, Brady has mustered more than 15 points just three times. He is the 20th-ranked fantasy quarterback. Making matters worse, he’ll face Pittsburgh in Week 9. The Steelers allow the fewest points per game (15.4) to opposing QBs. Find a better option than Brady. Unless you’re really stuck, he should be on your bench this weekend.
• In other depressing quarterback news, Michael Vick threw nine passes against the Giants. He completed six to the Eagles and one to New York. That works out to minus-one point. Then he was yanked because of a nagging hamstring injury. After a promising start to the season – he scored 31, 47 and 19 points in his first three games – Vick has been hurt and ineffective of late. Even if he sits out a few weeks and fully recovers, in what scenario would you feel comfortable enough to start him? In 10-team leagues, Vick is droppable.
• So what does the Eagles quarterback situation mean for DeSean Jackson owners? Jackson totaled 63 yards for six points in standard leagues last week. It was his second-straight single-digit performance. But he also had eight catches on 11 targets against the Giants. Those are positives. Also encouraging: The Eagles travel to Oakland this weekend. The Raiders surrender 23.9 fppg to opposing WRs (12th most).
• So much for the trade rumors and new quarterback affecting Josh Gordon. The Browns’ wideout was targeted 10 times against Kansas City, catching five passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. The Browns take on Baltimore in Week 9. The Ravens give up 23.7 to opposing WRs. Gordon is an auto-start in all formats and league sizes going forward.
• The Cardinals are on bye in Week 9. When they return, Andre Ellington should be the main man in their backfield. Ellington had 17 touches for 162 total yards and a touchdown. Rashard Mendenhall is nursing an injured toe, and he wasn’t very good when he was healthy. The job appears to be Ellington’s. He’s worth starting as a No. 2 RB or flex play.
• Atlanta is ranked 16th against tight ends this season, allowing 8.4 fppg. That puts the Falcons right in the middle of the pack, which means they're a neutral defense against the position. That’s good news for Greg Olsen owners. The Panthers play the Falcons in Week 9. Olsen has scored at least one touchdown in each of his last three games against Atlanta.
• Jake Locker is worth a look if you’re in need of a QB. Locker posted 24 or more fantasy points in each of his last three games, and with the exception of Week 1, he’s had at least 18 points in each start. The Titans play the Rams this week. St. Louis allows 20.1 fppg to opposing QBs.
• In Week 7, Washington running back Roy Helu had three touchdowns and 12 touches. Naturally, fantasy freaks got excited. They’re likely less excited after Helu got just six touches in Week 8. If the workload isn’t consistent – and it hasn’t been – then the production won’t be either for Helu. With Washington playing San Diego this weekend – the Chargers allow the fewest fppg (11.8) to opposing RBs – it’s best to stay away from Helu.
• Quick hits: Terrelle Pryor had more rushing yards (106) than passing yards (88) in Week 8 against Pittsburgh, but he still put up 22 points in standard leagues. And that’s against a Steelers defense that has allowed the fewest points to opposing quarterbacks. Pryor is in line for a much easier time this weekend. The Eagles surrender 24 fppg to QBs (eighth most)… In his last four games, Seahawks wideout Golden Tate has averaged eight targets and nearly five catches. Seattle faces Tampa Bay in Week 9. The Bucs have allowed 20.1 fppg to opposing WRs in their last four games….After a tough start to the season, Stevan Ridley has rebounded nicely. The Patriots running back had seven points or fewer in his first four games. In the last three, however, Ridley has averaged 15.3 points. Even better for Ridley owners: four of his next five games are against defenses that are in the bottom third against opposing RBs.