The “bloated byes” are upon us, when there are six teams on a bye. Week 8 and Week 9 were going to be tough for Fantasy owners already… and then the injuries of Week 7 happened. There are a lot of key players that went down, so owners are scrambling for players to just fill their rosters over the next two weeks. Savvy Fantasy owners have been preparing for these weeks already so they don’t have to deal with waivers.
I went with the strategy of only drafting one quarterback in a couple of my leagues when the one QB I had was a stud (Peyton Manning, Drew Brees). I figured that I’d rather take a potential breakout RB or WR in the later rounds of the draft, and then, as the bye weeks approached, drop someone for a backup QB. (In the league in which I had Brees, I picked up Jay Cutler and started him last week. That hurt.) However, in the league in which I have Manning, I noticed someone dropped Terrelle Pryor when he had a bye last week. Pryor would be a great Week 9 fill-in (and then possibly trade bait if there are more QB injuries). I grabbed him and now I’m all set at QB for next week. What’s the point? Plan ahead, as much as you can, anyway. While everyone else is scrambling to figure out what to do for Week 8, look ahead to Week 9.
Let’s see what the Pink Football predicts this week.
1. It’s time to start considering benching your first-round draft pick.
In many leagues, players like Ray Rice, C.J. Spiller, Doug Martin, Arian Foster and Trent Richardson went in the first round. These players have been nothing but disappointing for Fantasy owners (and after the past two weeks, Adrian Peterson is nearing this list as well). What’s going on? In leagues where everyone stressed getting running backs early and often, players like Knowshon Moreno and Fred Jackson have more Fantasy points (in both PPR and non-PPR leagues) than the five players mentioned in the first line. If you have Spiller, Moreno and Giovani Bernard on your team in a PPR league and you can only start two, why wouldn’t you bench Spiller? Would you even consider benching Rice? Why not? Taking away his one good week (Week 5), and Rice has 168 rushing yards in five games (including the one in which he was injured). He has 18 receptions for 86 yards. He has one fumble and one interception. Is that what you want from your RB1 – an average of less than 34 rushing yards per game (it rises to 40 yards a game when you put Week 5 back in)?
Spiller is just as disappointing. Ever since injuring his ankle, he hasn’t been the same. Over the past two weeks, he has 16 carries for 66 yards. For comparison, Joseph Randle had 19 rushes for 65 yards in Week 7 alone. If you have the lineup decision between Randle and Spiller for Week 8 (assuming Spiller is active), I’d go with Randle.
Doug Martin is injured and it’s still unclear for how long. He has totaled 456 rushing yards so far this season, which is an average of 76 yards a game. It’s not terrible, but is he worth hanging on to? That depends on your roster.
Arian Foster hurt his Fantasy owners this week by starting the game and leaving after totaling 11 rushing yards. He’s been up and down this season, but as long as he’s healthy, you do need to keep starting him.
Last, Trent Richardson has been struggling all season. He hasn’t had more than 60 rushing yards in a game yet. Since coming to Indianapolis, he hasn’t had more than one reception in a game. If you have Danny Woodhead, he’s worth starting (when both are back from the bye week) over Richardson in a PPR league. T-Rich just isn’t putting up the points of the RB1 that you drafted him to be.
2. Tom Brady will not finish the season as a Top 10 quarterback.
At the beginning of the season, there were doubts about whether Brady would be able to perform without Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Sure, they had Danny Amendola, but we all knew he was an injury risk. But Brady was Brady, right? He was drafted as someone’s QB1 in your league, most likely. Currently, he’s ranked 23rd among all quarterbacks in terms of Fantasy points. This includes quarterbacks that have only played six games because they’ve already had their bye week. He’s 14th in terms of passing yards, and tied for 16th in passing touchdowns. He has thrown eight touchdowns so far this season. Other QBs that have thrown eight touchdowns: Carson Palmer, Matt Schaub, Geno Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Joe Flacco, Jake Locker and Robert Griffin III.
Everyone thought that once Rob Gronkowski returned, Brady would improve. Well, Brady didn’t find Gronk in the end zone, as he threw for 228 yards, zero touchdowns and an interception. For comparison, through the first seven games of 2012, Brady had 396 more passing yards, four more passing touchdowns and two fewer interceptions. He’s on pace to throw less than 4,000 yards for the first time since 2010. He’s also on pace to have 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Those numbers, if this was last year, would have Brady finishing outside the Top 10. (Eli Manning was 12th in terms of passing yards with 3,948) Throwing 18 touchdowns would have him tied for 23rd with Christian Ponder.
Now, there is no guarantee those projections will come to fruition. Danny Amendola will be back within the next week or so. Gronkowski proved that he can still be effective. Brady threw him at least two passes in Week 7 that could have been touchdowns. Once Shane Vereen comes back, there is hope of a running game as well. However, the Patriots do have some tough opponents on their schedule: Miami in Week 8, followed by Pittsburgh and Carolina, with a bye in there as well. Fantasy owners shouldn’t be looking to trade for Brady. There is hope for Brady, but don’t get too excited until he starts producing.
3. An overreaction and an under-reaction: Peyton Hillis and Jared Boykin have Fantasy value for the rest of the season.
Reality: Peyton Hillis looked slow and plodding in an ugly game on Monday night. He outperformed rookie Michael Cox, but that’s not saying much. It’s unclear what Brandon Jacobs’ status is, but once Andre Brown is healthy and able to play, the job is his. It’s doubtful that David Wilson will have any Fantasy value, so the Giants will be relying on Jacobs, Hillis and Cox until Brown is back. Neither of those backs is worth starting in Fantasy unless you’re truly desperate for a running back. Peyton Hillis, like I wrote about Jacobs last week, just had his best Fantasy performance of the year in Week 7.
On the other side of the coin, some people are still skeptical on starting Jared Boykin. In an offense where Aaron Rodgers throws the ball as much as possible, his pass-catchers have value. Boykin has stepped into the Randall Cobb role, and will likely maintain that role until Cobb comes back (which will likely be through the Fantasy season). James Jones is still battling a knee injury, but even once Jones comes back, Boykin will still have value. It is unlikely that Jermichael Finley will play again this year and Andrew Quarless is not a pass-catching tight end. Someone needs to step up and that will be Boykin. If he’s still available in your league, pick him up.