Lee Evans, Marques Colston, and Reggie Brown still play in the NFL? That was news to most of us until Sunday’s games were completed, but I’m convinced that the first two of these three breakouts are for real. Analysis of these three split ends’ performances, as well as injury news, positional battles, sleepers, and expectations for the coming weeks will be covered in this recap. So sit back and make all the right reads, it’s time to start the Tuesday Morning Quarterback!
• Browns 27, Rams 20
Derek Anderson continues to impress as he elevates the play of his top two targets, Kellen Winslow Jr. and Braylon Edwards. All three are must-starts each and every week, and it will only get better in my opinion as their fantasy playoff schedule is absolute cake. They finish up against the Texans, Cardinals, Jets, Bills, and Bengals after week 11… Music to a fantasy owners ears! Don’t forget about Jason Wright either. The aforementioned schedule and the fact that he backs up Jamal Lewis make him worth owning in all formats.
Steven Jackson teased us with 10 touches for 50 yards and a score, but then left the game with a back injury. He should be good to go after the bye, but don’t go dropping Brian Leonard. Marc Bulger is close to re-emerging as a starting quarterback down the stretch and is worth rostering again in hopes of a strong finish by the Rams offense. Torry Holt had his best game of the season posting 110 yards and a touchdown and should be a fantasy starter going forward.
• Giants 13, Dolphins 10
Many might look at the box score of this game and ask, “What is wrong with Eli Manning?”. Eli did not have a great day yardage-wise but was let down by his receivers continually dropping balls in the end zone. He had two sure touchdowns dropped on one drive, and a long pass dropped by Plaxico Burress that would have been a score. Brandon Jacobs is a top 10 running back in this offense when healthy, and he is really getting it rolling for the G-Men.
There are not many good things to say about this team in fantasy or reality, but at least Ted Ginn Jr. peaked our interests with a late score that gave the 90,000 British fans something to cheer about. Jesse Chatman looks like a nice option out of the Dolphins backfield as he topped 100 total yards against a stout Giants defense. He is worth a pickup if he is still available.
• Eagles 23, Vikings 16
Reggie Brown is the first of the breakout receivers, but sadly he is the one that I think needs more time to prove that he will continue his performance. He tallied 8 catches for 105 yards, which is impressive until you see that it happened against a porous Vikings secondary. I think he will be a more consistent option than Kevin Curtis from here on out, but don’t hold your breath on 100-yard games just yet.
Adrian Peterson ran decently for the Vikings, but with their defense giving up so many yards and their passing game in the dumps, you will have to expect nothing better than middle tier starter numbers with an occasional big game. The defense is a decent bye week option and remains the only other Viking worth starting in fantasy land. EJ Henderson has double digit tackles in 3 straight and is a consistent IDP option.
• Colts 31, Panthers 7
Those of you who bought into the Kenton Keith hype now see why he belongs on your bench until Joseph Addai is either injured or rested. He is an emergency bye week filler at best, as he was overshadowed by Addai’s 109 total yard, 3 touchdown performance. Reggie Wayne continues to pick up the slack as Marvin Harrison sits. Gary Brackett looks to be the Colts linebacker to own for those in IDP leagues.
It didn’t matter who played quarterback for the Panthers, as David Carr and Vinny Testaverde averaged a pathetic 4.1 yards per attempt. They are killing whatever value Steve Smith has left, and only Jeff King looks like he is worth a start in deeper leagues. It looks like it is time to cut bait with DeAngelo Williams – he will be playing second fiddle all year.
• Lions 16, Bears 7
He’s back! Kevin Jones is a legitimate fantasy football threat again, as he is the undisputed starting tailback in Detroit’s Mike-Martz-run offense. He has 3 nice matchups in a row with Denver, Arizona, and New York (Giants), but beware of his playoff schedule. Hope for a big afternoon against the Broncos putrid run defense and sell him as high as you can. John Kitna showed me nothing to make me believe he is worth starting in anything smaller than 14 team leagues, though I think Roy Williams will get it going again.
I tried to trade Cedric Benson straight up for Chris Chambers after he was dealt to the Chargers, and the Chambers owner laughed in my face. If Chicago had any better options they would be scrambling, but sadly enough, Benson’s job is relatively safe for the rest of the season. He has no trade value, so you either have to drop him, or keep him and do some serious praying. Greg Olson looks to be the only consistent scoring threat in Chi-town.
• Steelers 24, Bengals 13
Hines Ward had a very nice game and looked to be performing at full strength for the first time all season. He was a stud in all formats with 8 catches for 88 yards and 2 touchdowns. I look for him to flourish in the coming weeks with the ground game working and Ben Roethlisberger looking to his trusty number one. Willie Parker finally found the end zone and had good yardage totals too.
Carson Palmer continues to put up pedestrian numbers after his explosion against the Browns in week two. I think he is a good buy low candidate at quarterback, so long as his owner doesn’t buy into his higher overall point total for the season. With Chris Henry coming back after next week’s game, Palmer will have another trusted target and the passing game will flourish. Henry makes for a nice pickup, as this week may be the last time to get him on the cheap.
• Titans 13, Raiders 9
This was probably the ugliest game of the weekend, with a single bright spot in the form of LenDale White. I’ve been bemoaning his low yards per carry lately, so he goes and gains 133 yards on 25 carries? My math skills aren’t what they used to be, but I’m seeing a number over 5.3. I guess I’m all for negative reinforcement! The non-jailbird Chris Henry is making surprising gains in the running attack, and with Chris Brown finally out, I think the Titans have a much better running back tandem. Vince Young is not startable in all formats until further notice.
I am fully convinced that Kirk Morrison is the only Raider player worth starting every week. This guy is a brick wall at the linebacker position and is the only consistent contributor of double digit fantasy points on this team. LaMont Jordan is back to being a bum, and the quarterback and receiver play for this team is laughably horrible. I’ll continue ringing the bell for Michael Bush until someone in this organization gets a clue and gives him a chance… the time is now!
• Jaguars 24, Buccaneers 23
Quinn Gray did just enough to eek out a victory in this intense matchup of Floridian teams, but I don’t read too much into his one 8 yard completion to Matt Jones (yeah, that Matt Jones) for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Fred Taylor ran ineffectively on 24 carries, Maurice Jones-Drew was limited to 12 touches, and LaBrandon Toefield vultured a rushing score, further cementing the fact that the Jaguars defense might be its only worthy starting candidate.
Jeff Garcia had his worst game as Tampa’s starter – he was picked off three times and only threw for one score. Joey Galloway was the recipient of this touchdown pass and had a nice game. I look for him to take some looks away from my ever-popular wide receiver sleeper, Ike Hilliard; both are worth starting in deeper leagues from here on out. Ernest Graham ran effectively, but his carries were limited to 14 against the stout Jaguar defense and then Michael Bennett stole the glory with a 19 yard touchdown scamper (don’t buy into this too much).
• Bills 13, Jets 3
In the first chapter of nearly meaningless quarterback changes, JP Losman came into the game in relief of the injured Trent Edwards to lead a game winning field goal drive. He then added an 85 yard touchdown to Lee Evans, who finished the game with 5 catches for 138 yards and a touchdown. Evans was getting in better sync with Edwards, but really likes catching passes from Losman. Either way, I think that the second of my breakout receivers is going to be for real and will start making more big plays for this team down the stretch. Get him cheap if you still can.
The Chad Pennington era is seemingly over in New York, and though I know this breaks the hearts of most Jet fans, I have a feeling they will get over it faster than Tom Brady forgot about Bridget Moynahan. Kellen Clemens has the arm strength and wherewithal to make some throws that could make this offense move the ball more consistently, but I would stray away from starting anyone on this team other than a healthy Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery. Jonathan Vilma is out for the season, so he is safe to drop in leagues that use individual defensive players.
• Chargers 35, Texans 10
The Chargers didn’t need no stinking LaDanian Tomlinson to win this game running away, just a pair of Antonios. Antonio Cromartie and Antonio Gates each scored twice in this first 20 minutes, effectively putting the game on ice for the Chargers. Phillip Rivers was efficient in going 7 for 11 passing with 3 touchdowns, and was able to find the newly acquired Chris Chambers on a nice 14 yard scoring toss. Chambers was the only Charger wide receiver to catch a pass, don’t forget this fact in the future – it will be a recurring theme.
The Texans running back and quarterback situations are such a mess right now that there is only one offensive player worth starting for this team until the return of Andre Johnson. That player is Kevin Walter… he topped 5 receptions and 70 yards for the fifth straight game and looks to be the only consistent threat to score in Houston. Start DeMeco Ryans, as he is the Kirk Morrison of the Texans.
• Saints 31, 49ers 10
Marques Colston, welcome back to fantasy football greatness! The diminutive Saints receiver was one of the truly bright spots in this game, as he hauled in 8 catches for 85 yards and an eye-popping 3 touchdowns. He looks like he has regained his early 2006 rhythm with Drew Brees, who also posted a breakout game with 336 yards and 4 touchdown tosses. Look for both to continue their re-emergence as the season continues. David Patten is worth a hard look too.
This San Fransisco group is the worst team with a win in the NFL. You can’t deal Frank Gore (or bench him) because he is so dynamic, and I think he will turn it around to some degree down the stretch; but man this offense is u-g-l-y. Alex Smith arguably played worse than Trent Dilfer, and other than finding Vernon Davis for a score at the end of garbage time, he was utterly and completely worthless. Derek Smith is back from the ashes and is making for a nice linebacker duo with Patrick Willis. Both are every-week IDP guys.
• Patriots 52, Redskins 7
Man am I glad I face the guy with Tom Brady in week 10 when he is on a bye! I think that might be the only way for me (and any of us) to avoid losing in the week that we face his owner. 5 more touchdowns, including 2 always-valuable rushing scores for this Moynahan-ditching signal caller – I see no end in sight. Randy Moss scored on a fake spike, and I think his best asset in fantasy might be to make Wes Welker a top 10 receiver alongside him in this offense. Laurence Maroney ran the ball well and might be set to overachieve the low baseline I set for him before.
Chris Cooley owners thank God for that 15 yard scoring pass in absolute garbage time, as it was the only offensive highlight of the entire game. Jason Campbell had his second rough outing of the season, and I’m still recommending benching all of his receivers not named Cooley. London Fletcher racked up 15 total tackles and so did the impressive rookie LaRon Landry; both are obvious must-starts, and Landry is a great option in keeper leagues that use IDPs.
• Packers 19, Broncos 13 (OT)
This game absolutely sticks in my craw, as my fantasy squad blew a 20 point lead to lose by 5 on Brett Favre’s impressive 82 yard scoring toss to Greg Jennings on the first play of extra football. I wonder how many other owners lost their matchups because of the sequence of events down the stretch Monday night… Pf-ft! Favre, Jennings, and Donald Driver are all must starts with the Pack passing game rolling. James Jones and the backfield flavor of the week, Ryan Grant, are worth looks in deeper leagues. The Packer running backs have been inconsistent and untrustworthy, but Grant ran the ball hard and looked quite good against the Broncos. I would temper expectations, but he is definitely worth a speculative pickup.
Jay Cutler looked uncomfortable in the pocket, but made enough good throws on the run to make the two Brandons (Marshall and Stokely) look pretty good going forward. Selvin Young looked pretty nice in what could be his audition for the starting role as Denver’s tailback, gaining 120 yards on 24 touches. Though the cat might already be out of the bag, Tony Scheffler makes for a very nice tight end fill-in from here on out, and is worth starting in deeper leagues if you are sick of waiting for Todd Heap and LJ Smith to come back.
Alright you Tuesday morning quarterbacks, that wraps up my coverage of the action from week 8. Its time to ice down that throwing arm and hit the research until next weekend. Hopefully this information will help you lead your team to victory in a Brady-like fashion from here on out. I hope to see you all next week and look forward to your feedback and suggestions. Feel free to e-mail or PM me at any time.
Michael Stephens is an avid fantasy sports enthusiast who writes for the Cafe. He hails from the Pacific Northwest and is a die-hard Seahawk fan to the core! You can find Michael in the Cafe's forums where he actively posts under the name of WaCougMBS.
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