|Fantasy football Week 8: Trick or treats||10.29.10 at 8:07 am ET|
What better time of the year to debut the LEEInks weekly fantasy column than Halloween — now I can use a lame pun for the title! As should be expected here every Friday for the remainder of the season, following are some slightly obscure names I expect to tally some serious points, based off of matchup analysis.
Sure, it would be easy to recommend an elite back such as Frank Gore against a Broncos defense that just got torched by Darren McFadden for 196 total yards and four touchdowns. And yeah, anybody can say Arian Foster is in line for a big week against a horrid Colts run defense that he demolished for 231 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1.
But I’m here to reveal the diamonds in the rough that are primed to explode, even if the majority may be riding the fantasy pine or are on the waiver wire. Like the creepy old lady in the neighborhood who actually gives out king-size candy bars, these players might not initially appear attractive, but if you’re willing to take the risk, they could yield a nice profit.
So this Halloween, if your lineup is feeling some bye-week woes, or you’re at the bottom of the pack and need a spark, give the old lady a visit and plug in one of these guys. You can thank me when you’re watching your fantasy team dominate while mowing down a king-size Milky Way.
Ryan Fitzpatrick at Kansas City
Quick quiz: Who leads all fantasy signal-callers in points per game? Shocking answer: Not Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning, but Buffalo’s Ryan Fitzpatrick, who wasn’t even starting entering the year. Fitzpatrick has netted 26.0 points a game in standard formats, while throwing for multiple TD passes in all four of his starts. Most recently, he absolutely shredded a stout Ravens pass defense for 382 yards and four touchdowns. His 102.2 passer rating trails only Manning’s.
As a Harvard graduate, my boy’s wicked smahhhtt (48 out of 50 on the Wonderlic). Though his physical tools don’t blow anyone away, his big brains allow him to study and read defenses skillfully. Combined with an accurate ball, Fitzpatrick is a perfect fit for coach Chan Gailey’s pop-gun attack. While no Michael Vick, Fitzpatrick can move in the pocket, which allows him to buy time behind his suspect line and also compile some decent rushing stats (29 yards a game, including 74 vs. the Jets).
Though the match up with the Chiefs isn’t ideal, especially since it’s at Arrowhead Stadium, it’s not horrible. Moreover, Fitzpatrick posted 20-plus points against the “vaunted” Jets and Ravens. With the Bills defense more horrific than any nightmare Freddy Krueger could concoct, look for the offense to be airing it out while playing from behind. Fitzpatrick’s three-game streak of 20 or more points should continue. If you’re a Tony Romo owner with a large void at the QB spot, check the waivers or inquire owners about trades for Fitzpatrick.
Matthew Stafford vs. Washington
Despite being out of action since Week 1 with a shoulder injury, Stafford should have an easy transition thanks to a date with the generous Washington pass defense. Early signs of rust may be apparent, although the quarterback has been taking first-team snaps in practice all week, and the results have been encouraging.
Jay Cutler’s inability to realize DeAngelo Hall was wearing an opposing jersey made this secondary look more daunting than it really is. The ’Skins have given up the second most yards per game to their opponents at 292, while also allowing 1.4 touchdowns a contest. Plus, following a bye week, hobbled targets such as Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson and Jahvid Best should be much closer to full strength. With an assortment of loaded weapons at his disposal, expect Stafford to return to pre-injury form, even if it takes a drive or two.
Wild-card special: Jon Kitna vs. Jacksonville
Romo owners, you’ve been afforded a one-week grace period to find a new starting quarterback. And if you possess any part of the Cowboys passing game, I’d advise waiting until after this week before selling your players high, as their price is about to inflate. Though Roy Williams’ postgame comments that Kitna is “just as good” as Romo are ludicrous, they may not appear so come Sunday. The Jaguars have allowed a league-leading 16 passing touchdowns in seven weeks of play — over two a game. Only the woeful Texans secondary has surrendered more fantasy points to quarterbacks. Though his proneness to turnovers, overthrows, and sacks is bound to rear its ugly head eventually, Kitna should put on an air-show with the explosive talent around him.
Other potential nominees: Matt Cassel vs. Buffalo, Donovan McNabb at Detroit, Matt Hasselbeck at Oakland
Marshawn Lynch at Oakland
Hide all the children! Lock all your doors! Don’t let your linebackers onto the field! With Halloween nearing, Beast-Mode is about to emerge from his slumber. Lynch has yet to light the world on fire since his trade to Seattle, but that could all change this weekend due to a match up with the Raiders. He’s averaged over 20 carries a game with his new team, and given that the Raiders yield the second-most fantasy points to opposing rushers, it’s about time he does something with them. “The people over in China watching the game know you’re running the ball,” but it isn’t going to stop Lynch this week.
Thomas Jones vs. Buffalo
Though Father Time isn’t usually kind to running backs over 30, the ageless wonder Thomas Jones keeps defying logic. Given a match up against the league’s worst rushing defense in Buffalo, there’s no reason Jones won’t continue to do so. The hapless Bills surrender 174.5 yards a game to opposing rushers and have allowed the third-most touchdowns in the league with eight on the season. Fresh off an impressive 125-yard, one-touchdown effort against the Jaguars, Jones can be expected to break the century mark and find paydirt at least once for the third week in a row. Not even time can defy a workout routine that produces biceps like these.
Wild-card Special: LeGarrette Blount at Cardinals
Mostly known for his vicious haymakers (on more than one occasion), Blount can be expected to punch one into the end zone this weekend against Arizona (yeah, I’ll be here all week). Terrible jokes aside, Blount could run wild in an excellent matchup with the Cardinals. With 77 yards on 11 carries, the rookie out of Oregon displayed power, solid vision, and tackle-breaking abilities in dominating the rushing workload during the second half against the Rams last week. Blount would have had nearly 60 more yards were it not for penalties on two other carries. Expected to take over primary rushing downs and goal line work, Blount should make a splash against a Cardinals defense surrendering 141.3 yards a game.
Other nominees: Ryan Torain at Detroit, Donald Brown vs. Houston, Beanie Wells vs. Tampa Bay, Mike Hart vs. Houston
Dez Bryant vs. Jacksonville
A question that should be on the mind of anyone who watched the Monday night game: How is Bryant on the bench in 56 percent of Yahoo! leagues? The guy was an absolute monster, backing up the hype by breaking tackles, getting over the top of coverage, and displaying a second gear for four catches, 54 yards and three total touchdowns (one punt return). This was all against a Giants defense that ranked second in the league against the pass. Now he gets the terrible Jaguars. His rapport with new starting QB Kitna was apparent, and the two should continue combining for a nice stat line this Sunday.
Steve Johnson at Kansas City
What do Andre Johnson, Miles Austin and Brandon Marshall all have in common? All have scored fewer fantasy points in standard leagues than Buffalo’s Steve Johnson, yet he remains benched in over half of Yahoo! leagues. Though teammate Lee Evans may have bested him with three TDs last week, Johnson’s 6-foot-2 frame and fluid routes make him a more consistent and dangerous weapon in the red zone. The apple of the emerging Fitzpatrick’s eye, Johnson has now found pay dirt in four straight weeks. Expect him to tie a Bills franchise record by making it five following Sunday.
Wild-card Special: Blair White vs. Houston
Sure, Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon are some obvious names to put up points this weekend, but how about the undrafted rookie out of Michigan State? As previously discussed on this site, injuries to the Colts receiving corps have paved the way for someone to step up. That man will be Blair White. Whereas Wayne and Garcon do most of their damage down the field, White’s fearlessness and sticky, reliable hands suit him perfect for work over the middle. And since that’s where Dallas Clark and Austin Collie made their livings, look for White to see a huge spike in targets. Given that Peyton Manning has the Midas touch, and Houston ranks dead last against the pass, White could be fantasy gold this weekend. Seven to nine catches, 70-100 yards and a TD might not be an absurd prediction.
Other nominations: Nate Burleson vs. Washington, Patrick Crayton vs. Tennessee, Deon Butler at Oakland
So, there you have it. Go out and grab yourself some Halloween goodies. What are your thoughts? Agree, disagree, have any treats of your own? Sound off in the comment section, or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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