Here are exclusive and notable Week 8 items from our NFL Fantasy Insider, Steve Silverman.
You heard all the excuses made for Josh Freeman as he threw the ball 53 times Monday night against the Giants in Week Seven.
All the while, you were wondering not only what Freeman was doing, but why the Vikings were not giving the ball to Adrian Peterson. AP has run the ball just 23 times in his last two games (10 against Cincinnati; 13 against New York).
This week Peterson revealed that he has a hamstring problem that has been limiting him. He said it was not the usual twinge that is associated with a pulled hamstring, but more like a general soreness that prevented him from pushing off and cutting.
Peterson said that he is now healthy and will be able to run at full strength against the Green Bay Packers Sunday night.
Don’t believe it for a second. Peterson is not close to his best right now, and the Packers are going to make life miserable for him. They are a physical and hard-hitting defense, and Green Bay has been ferocious against the run this season.
They are giving up just 79.0 yards per game on the ground – ranking third in the league – and the Packers are going to target AP.
That’s nothing new, and if he was at full strength, he would still have a good shot at busting them up for 150 yards or more. But he’s not, and he’s not going to be able to add the extra power needed to break through tackles, and his cutting ability is severely limited. One NFC scout said that the Vikings offense is “just a joke” when Peterson is not at 100 percent.
They have to go back to Christian Ponder, because Freeman suffered so much abuse last week, and reportedly had a concussion. But even if he hadn’t, head coach Leslie Frazier would have a hard time calling out Freeman’s name to lead the team.
While he doesn’t have the full command of the team’s playbook, Freeman’s mechanics are simply awful at this point and it doesn’t seem likely that he will be able to get back on track before the end of the year.
You also can’t use Greg Jennings this week. While he would love to pay back his old team, the Packers are intent on putting it on him after he left Green Bay with a parting shot for Aaron Rodgers. The Packers defense is focused on not letting Jennings do any damage to them, and since AP is not his usual threat, the defense should be able to find a way to slow him down.
Steer clear of your Vikings players this week, as they appear ready to put a big fat zero on the board.
Harvin will be a Week Nine star
It still hasn’t been determined if the Seahawks will use Percy Harvin Monday when they travel to St. Louis, but he is on the cusp of becoming a dynamite addition to a powerful team.
The Seahawks may be good enough to win the Super Bowl without him; but with him they become an electric Fantasy team, and that means quarterback Russell Wilson should be nearly unstoppable once Harvin is back and comfortable in his role as a slot receiver.
Harvin is a sensational route runner with great hands and speed. He is the full package, and he is thrilled to be playing for one of the most talented teams in the league.
He also has the advantage of playing for a coach who is thrilled to have him on the roster. Pete Carroll had his share of critics and the NFL and college levels, but even his biggest detractors admit that few coaches have the ability to make players feel special the way Carroll does.
Carroll did that for Wilson last year, and he is about to do it for the newest Seahawks WR. Harvin is going to get his touches, but it does not mean that running back Marshawn Lynch is not going to get near his normal amount of carries. Wide receiver Golden Tate (shoulder; but he should play vs. the Rams) will still get his share of throws too, but when Harvin shows he can get downfield and make a big play, he is going to become a focal point of the offense.
Harvin will make Wilson a much more valuable Fantasy quarterback and the Seahawks are going to be transformed into a dangerous offense.
Wait it out one more week, and then it happens in Week Nine when the Seahawks host the winless Buccaneers.
Dolphins committed to run vs. Pats
When the Miami Dolphins look at the New England Patriots’ run defense, they see an opportunity to do a lot of damage that has not been available to them in the past.
There are some wide open spaces without Vince Wilfork in the middle of the defensive line, and without Jerod Mayo at the linebacker position. The Dolphins are determined to unleash a running attack and take advantage of the weakened Patriots.
After watching Chris Ivory of the Jets rip the Pats for 104 rushing yards in Week Seven, the Dolphins figure they can do the same thing. However, don’t count on Lamar Miller handling the bulk of the running back chores. Look for a 60-40 split that should go in favor of Daniel Thomas.
The Dolphins coaching staff is inclined to let Thomas have something closer to a 70-30 ratio because he is more elusive and able to get more out of his runs that Miller. However, Miller is the better blocker and that’s why Thomas is not able to fully supplant him.
But the Dolphins are committed to the run this week. Not only do they feel they can do damage with their running game, they are tired of watching quarterback Ryan Tannehill take a beating. Tannehill has been sacked 26 times and that’s too much through the first six games.
That number figures to go up against New England because Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones has a superb outside fake that allows him to come inside the left tackle and sack the quarterback with a quick up-and-under move.
So, look for much more of a commitment to the running game this week. When a team wants to do that, it must stay within 14 points or the tendency is to abandon the run.
This could be bad news for Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson. However, Tannehill is still going to target Mike Wallace on deep throws and Charles Clay should remain a red zone target and could find the end zone for a fourth time this season.
If you need to take a chance on a running back, try Thomas, who had 12 carries last week. That’s the first time he had double-digit attempts and the Dolphins were happy with his 5.0 yards per carry average. His 12 carries could easily go up to 18 or more.
That’s not bad for a guy who is rated No. 38 by FantasyPros.com this week. Go with Thomas and stay away from Miller.
Keep going with Clay and this might be a decent week to stay away from Hartline.
This is the time when you have to sell high on Jordan Cameron. The Browns’ tight end has had a nice run of it, but midnight has come for Cleveland,as Rob Chudzinski benches Brandon Weeden and goes to Jason Campbell. If you watched Weeden the last two years, you noticed that quick throws were not his strong suit.
Chudzinski certainly came to that conclusion, so now he gives Campbell a chance. The Browns will find that they have replaced slow with slower. One AFC scout said that Campbell plays the game at a pace that would have been “slow in the 1980s” and that he has almost no chance of being successful. You may want to hang on to deep threat Josh Gordon one more week, but after that it will be time to get rid of him as well.
With the idea that it’s better to act a week early than it is a week late, now is the time to start going with Tom Brady again. Brady is the 12th-rated quarterback by FantasyPros as the Patriots go to Miami this weekend, but the passing game is about to pick up. Brady worked Rob Gronkowski back into the picture last week against the Jets and while their timing was not good, that’s about to change. You could not expect Gronkowski to be at the top of his game after not having played since Week 11 of the 2012 season, but now he is back in the flow. His confidence is starting to soar again and he should hurt the Dolphins this week and will be close to his best when New England hosts Pittsburgh in Week Nine.
Don’t expect anyone other than Case Keenum under center when the Texans get back from their bye week with a home game against the Colts. Even though head coach Gary Kubiak says that Matt Schaub (ankle) is his starting quarterback when healthy, we don’t expect Schaub to be in playing shape in Week Nine. Even if he was, the coaching staff understands that the Texans showed new life with Keenum at quarterback. Unless there is a complete change of heart within the organization – and we hear that there won’t be — Keenum should get his second consecutive start.
We are ready to write off Trent Richardson for the rest of the season as anything but a short-yardage back who might poach a few touchdowns the rest of the way. Richardson was thought of as an explosive back when the Browns drafted him out of Alabama in 2012, but his speed is missing in action and that’s why he is averaging 3.0 yards per carry. The Colts paid a huge price to get him and the sight of him in a Colts’ uniform has inspired Donald Brown, but there’s little hope that Richardson will come around any time soon.
It’s time to give Ben Roethlisberger a little bit of respect. The Steelers certainly went through misery in the first four weeks of the season, but they are in the process of turning things around. Roethlisberger was suffering from a myriad of injuries during the last couple of seasons, but he is healthy as the Steelers approach the midpoint of their schedule. Roethlisberger may be the 16th-rated quarterback by FantasyPros this week, but it’s time to put his name on your lineup card and allow him to take advantage of the Raiders’ mediocre pass defense (ranked 15th).
Love ’Em, Hate ’Em in Week Eight
Eddie Lacy has a chance to be the best running back on the field when the Packers play at Minnesota Sunday night. That’s saying something considering that AP will be in the lineup for the Vikings. However, Peterson has a tender hamstring while Lacy is trucking linebackers left and right. Look for Lacy to gain 115 yards and score at least one rushing touchdown. LOVE HIM.
Reggie Bush should be ready for a prime effort with the Lions coming off a painful home loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. However, with the Dallas Cowboys coming to Detroit, we think that Bush will be ready to mail it in, especially after he gets hit hard a couple of times by the Dallas defense. Bush does not come to play every week, and this is one of the times he takes off. We did not like him even before Friday’s knee scare. HATE HIM.
Wide receiver Michael Floyd has been hurt badly because Carson Palmer is one of the most inefficient quarterbacks in the NFL. Palmer has only thrown eight TD passes and 13 interceptions. But it turns around this week against an Atlanta secondary that is only too willing to help sick quarterbacks get well. Look for Floyd to be the prime beneficiary. He catches 8-117-1 against the Falcons. LOVE HIM
It would be difficult to state that the seemingly fortunate Jets will be able to keep up with the form that has allowed them to go 4-3. But Rex Ryan has the Jets playing a very solid brand of defense and they are going to punish Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton this week. The Jets will focus on taking away A.J. Green, and Dalton will get frustrated and throw the ball into coverage. HATE HIM.