Fantasy football Roundtable: Is it time to downgrade all Bears?
What will the injuries to Reggie Wayne, Doug Martin, Jermichael Finley and Jay Cutler mean to the fantasy value of their teammates? Which lightly started receiver will make the biggest impact in Week 8? And, what to do with Trent Richardson? Our fantasy experts Michael Beller and Brian Flood discuss that and more in this week's fantasy roundtable.
1. What injury situation is going to have the most deleterious effect on the remaining fantasy players on that team?
Beller: There's only one answer here. It has to be Jay Cutler. Reggie Wayne, Doug Martin, Jermichael Finley, they're all good players. But you can get by in the NFL if you have to slum it at a position or two on offense, other than quarterback. Don't be fooled by Josh McCown's performance against the Redskins on Sunday. That had as much to do with terrible defense as it did with good offense. The dropoff from Cutler is steep, and it will be felt throughout the Chicago offense.
Brandon Marshall dips to a low-end WR1 and Alshon Jeffery slides down to a low WR2 or high WR3. Martellus Bennett falls down the rest-of-season tight end rankings a bit, and Matt Forte will not have nearly as much freedom to run as he has had this season. This injury is a disaster for the Bears, and it's a massive blow to the fantasy stock of everyone on this offense.
Flood: Jay Cutler's groin injury should negatively impact everyone on the Bears, especially Brandon Marshall. Cutler and Marshall have a special bond and they've both played their best football when playing together. Josh McCown looked serviceable in Cutler's absence Week 7, but he was facing the Redskins. The Bears have a bye in Week 8 and I expect them to struggle Week 9 at Green Bay. Matt Forte could see s slight decline, as opponents will stack the box if McCown doesn't prove reliable.
2. Which player is poised to become a second-half star because of an injury on his team?
Beller: We saw the answer to this question on display in the great state of Wisconsin on Sunday. Jarrett Boykin caught eight passes for 104 yards and a touchdown in his first game in the starting lineup for the Packers. He'll be reprising the role played by Randall Cobb, who is effectively out for the remainder of the season with a fractured fibula. While it would be foolish of fantasy owners to expect Boykin to become Cobb 2.0, he certainly can do a decent impression of his better-known teammate. This is a lucrative role in an explosive offense, and with Jermichael Finley's status also up in the air, Boykin should get plenty of targets the rest of the season.
Flood: Jarrett Boykin could essentially put up the numbers that Cobb was supposed to put up, so I'd consider him the best candidate. He was targeted 10 times and now with Finley sidelined, expected even more targets for Boykin. Aaron Rodgers has been praising Boykin since the start of training camp and they're already on the same page.
3. Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, T.Y. Hilton, Torrey Smith and Andre Johnson all have byes this week. Deeper options we've come to respect such as Keenan Allen, Kendall Wright, Marlon Brown and DeAndre Hopkins are also out. Who's your favorite lightly started receiver for Week 8?
Beller: I will be starting Rueben Randle wherever I own him. The nominal third option for the Giants caught another touchdown pass on Monday night, running his season line to 23 catches for 373 yards and four touchdowns. The Giants host the Eagles next week in what should be a great matchup for Eli Manning and all his receivers. The Eagles have allowed 14 passing touchdowns this season, and Pro Football Focus grades them as the third worst in pass coverage through seven weeks. Ride with me and get Randle in your lineups.
Flood: Atlanta's Drew Davis will start Week 8 at Arizona and is a sneaky fantasy fill-in. Darrelle Revis ruined his Week 7 attempt to pick up some of Julio Jones' slack, but that's good news for fantasy owners because he's still under the radar. Matt Ryan needs a target other than Harry Douglas and I expect Davis to have his coming-out party Week 8. The Oregon product has the opportunity to succeed and it will be fun to watch if he emerges as a fantasy threat.
4. Sometimes a bad defense is a fantasy player's best friend. Just ask Josh McCown, who threw for 204 yards and a TD against the Redskins in relief of the injured Jay Cutler on Sunday. Give the readers a trade target who has a soft schedule the rest of the way.
Beller: In trying to best answer this one, I asked myself three questions. First, has the player already had his bye? Second, is he part of a good offense? Third, has he been playing well of late? And fourth, of course, does he have a beneficial schedule for the rest of the year? One player answered a resounding yes to all of those questions, and that is Robert Griffin III. Griffin finally looked like himself last week, throwing for 298 yards and two touchdowns while running for 84 yards on 11 carries. Washington had its bye back in Week 5, so he'll play every week the rest of the season, barring injury. Finally, just listen to this list of upcoming opponents. Denver. San Diego. Minnesota. Philadelphia. San Francisco. New York Giants. Kansas City. Atlanta. Dallas. Sure, there are two of the league's best defenses mixed in, but the rest of those would make the hippest cupcake shop on the block jealous. All of them rank in the bottom half of the league in yards per attempt against, and all but the Cowboys are in PFF's bottom half for pass coverage. The Broncos, Chargers and Vikings all feature truly terrible pass defenses. Griffin is about to blow up. Now is the time to see if you can get in on the action.
Flood: Chris Johnson has been somewhat disappointing thus far, but it should get easier. The Titans face St. Louis, Jacksonville twice, Oakland, Arizona and Houston before the end of the season. At Denver in Week 14 is the only matchup I'd consider difficult. With a bye in Week 8, it's the perfect time to finagle him from an owner who hasn't checked the schedule.
5. Is there any explaining Trent Richardson? What should his owners do with him at this point?
Beller: There is an easy explanation here. He's simply not that good. Everyone was willing to buy in after his rookie season, but he ran for just 3.6 yards per carry on 267 totes. I don't care how bard your offensive line may be or how inept the offense around you is, you should be able to rip off more than that many yards per carry if you're an elite running back. This year that average is down to 3.1 YPC
If I own Richardson, I'm treating him just like any other RB4. I'm basically only starting him when my other options are out or if he has a great matchup. Otherwise, he's planted firmly on my bench.
Flood: In full disclosure, I selected Richardson No. 5 overall in the main league I'm in with my high school buddies. Not only has he single-handedly ruined my season, but also he's causing mental anguish along the way. Do you know how hard it is writing about fantasy football for a career and losing then to a league full of businessmen and lawyers? It's terrible.
Anyway, I've started him every week so far but only have two wins to show for it. I'm hoping he can bounce back in Week 9 after a bye, but I'm not holding my breath. He looks like he's running with ankle weights on. And it looks like he tries to initiate contact, which is normally the sign of a bruising workhorse. But he's initiating contact with the backside of his offensive line, as opposed to defenders. Cross you fingers and hope he can get it going after the bye, but trade him immediately if someone will give you a quality player in return. Maybe the Browns were onto something.
MORE WEEK 8 FANTASY FOOTBALL CONTENT:
GONOS: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em -- Watch out for those byes!
BELLER: Player Stat Projections -- RGIII finally looking like himself
SI STAFF: Player Rankings -- Gronkowski rewards his owners
EDHOLM, MIGLIO: Bold Strategies -- Have some faith in Vick
BELLER, FLOOD: Roundtable -- Which injury situation will hurt the most?
FLOOD: Waiver Wire -- James stepping up for Martin-less Buccaneers
McQUADE: Risers, Sliders -- Wilson gifted strong matchups in coming weeks
BELLER: Early Week 8 advice -- Boykin surprises for the Packers