Fantasy Clicks: A Sort Of (Lambeau) Homecoming
Aaron Rodgers: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
I'm not one for Vegas-style gambling, which explains why I neither watch nor comprehend Texas Hold 'Em poker on TV. But if I were a gambling man ... I'd mortgage my condo, car, 401k, make-believe kids' college fund -- everything that isn't nailed to the floor -- on a certain prominent quarterback posting all-world fantasy numbers Sunday at Lambeau Field. What ... you think this mini-segment is about Brett Favre's much-ballyhooed return to Green Bay? Well, it is technically, since Favre has been waiting approximately 449 days to stick it to Packers president Ted Thompson ... within Wisconsin state lines, of course.
But I'm here to break down Aaron Rodgers' amazing fantasy prospects for Week 8 against the Vikings:
1. Rodgers has thrown for 1,257 yards and nine TDs in his last four games.
2. The Packers are probably chomping at the bit to reconcile their Week 5 blowout loss to Minnesota.
3. The Vikings D is highly susceptible against the pass, especially if Antonie Winfield is out.
4. For approximately 1,643 days (dating back to NFL Draft Day in 2005), Rodgers has likely been hearing from fans and media about how great Favre is/was -- even though Rodgers had cable-TV access while playing at California and saw all the Sunday-night highlight shows -- that's a lot of time to dream about showing the Lambeau faithful who's boss.
Well, that day of recknoning is upon us ... which leaves me to predict the following numbers:
Favre: 265 yards passing, 2 TDs
Rodgers: 330 yards passing, 4 TDs
1. Donovan McNabb vs. Giants
2. Peyton Manning vs. 49ers
3. Jay Cutler vs. Cleveland
4. Tony Romo vs. Seattle
5. Philip Rivers vs. Oakland
6. Aaron Rodgers vs. Minnesota
7. Kurt Warner vs. Carolina
8. Drew Brees vs. Atlanta
... That all eight locks for 275 yards and/or three touchdowns are playing at home this weekend? In the long history of Fantasy Clicks, we have never had such a home-dominated roll call at the quarterback slot. All this begs the question: Which road QB has the best shot of joining the elite Week 8 fraternity? Well, Eli Manning (at Philly) and Brett Favre (at Green Bay) seem like the the most worthy candidates ... but we're going to side with Kyle Orton, whose Broncos will likely be playing from behind early against the Ravens -- prompting an inordinate run-to-pass ratio.
In general terms, here's a list of the 20 best available free agents for 12-team, standard-scoring leagues:
1. RB Shonn Greene, Jets
2. RB Beanie Wells, Cardinals
3. TE Vernon Davis, 49ers
4. WR Lee Evans, Bills
5. WR Hakeem Nicks, Giants
6. RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
7. QB Matthew Stafford, Lions
8. WR Michael Crabtree, 49ers
9. WR Mike Wallace, Steelers
10. TE John Carlson, Seahawks
11. QB Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks (for those who couldn't spare the bye-week roster space)
12. D/ST Seattle Seahawks
13. WR Eddie Royal, Broncos
14. TE Fred Davis, Redskins
15. RB Glen Coffee, 49ers
16. QB Marc Bulger, Rams
17. WR Mark Clayton, Ravens
18. WR Greg Camarillo, Dolphins
19. PK Olindo Mare, Seahawks
20. D/ST Detroit Lions (yes, the Lions stink ... but every defense/special teams is a threat for 10 fantasy points against the Rams -- cha-ching!)
You can never have enough quality running backs in fantasyland, which is precisely why Jets rookie Shonn Greene will fetch top dollar in auction and blind-bidding leagues this week (he'll undoubtedly be No. 1 in straight-up waiver leagues, too). But not everyone has the resources to add Greene, whether it's because: 1) Their seasonal record is too good, or 2) They've exhausted their amount of free-agent blind-bidding bucks in previous weeks. However, there's a simple solution to this problem (at least in the future): Simply identify which unheralded tailback is on the brink of becoming The Next Big Thing due to unforseeen circumstances (Greene's 144 rushing yards/2 TDs against Oakland were a direct benefit of Leon Washington suffering a season-ending injury). Or, you could just cherry-pick off my Top 10 Running Backs You'll Be Selling Your Fantasy Soul To Get In 1-3 Weeks, Unless You Act Now (after Greene and Beanie Wells, of course):
1. LeSean McCoy, Eagles
2. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
3. Brandon Jackson, Packers
4. Correll Buckhalter, Broncos
5. Garrett Wolfe, Bears
6. Bernard Scott, Bengals
7. Rashad Jennings, Jaguars
8. Jason Snelling, Falcons
9. Dantrell Savage, Chiefs
10. Justin Forsett, Seahawks
Obviously, no one's cheering for Cedric Benson to get hurt or Matt Forte to lose his stranglehold on the Bears' tailback gig ... the above list is merely the 10 best runners in the marketplace who have little or no fantasy cachet right now.
1. Ray Rice vs. Denver
2. Marshawn Lynch vs. Houston
3. Brandon Jacobs @ Philadelphia
4. Thomas Jones vs. Miami
5. Frank Gore @ Indianapolis
6. Marion Barber vs. Seattle
7. Steven Jackson @ Detroit
8. Kevin Smith vs. St. Louis
9. Ronnie Brown @ N.Y. Jets
10. Maurice Jones-Drew @ Tennessee
11. Chris Johnson vs. Jacksonville
12. Beanie Wells vs. Carolina
13. Pierre Thomas vs. Atlanta
**Has thrice caught one touchdown in at least three straight games (over five-plus seasons). He could make it four times ... against Houston in Week 8.
**Averages 2.6 100-yard receiving games per season ... which means he's 2.6 100-yard games away from meeting this season's quota.
**Is averaging 4 catches for 60 yards and .45 TDs for Buffalo home games in November -- traditionally his most productive month.
**Will go against six mediocre pass defenses in the next eight weeks (minus Buffalo's bye) -- Houston, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Miami, Kansas City and Atlanta.
**Has registered double-digit receptions (11) only once in his career -- against Houston in 2006 ... which also represents his single-game personal best in receiving yards (265).
... Here's how we'd rank the receivers leading up to the August drafts:
1. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
2. Andre Johnson, Texans
3. Marques Colston, Saints
4. Reggie Wayne, Colts
5. Randy Moss, Patriots
6. Roddy White, Falcons
7. Miles Austin, Cowboys
8. DeSean Jackson, Eagles
9. Brandon Marshall, Broncos
10. Wes Welker, Patriots
11. Calvin Johnson, Lions
12. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals
13. Greg Jennings, Packers
14. Vincent Jackson, Chargers
15. Santonio Holmes, Steelers
16. Anquan Boldin, Cardinals
17. Steve Smith, Giants
18. Hines Ward, Steelers
19. Steve Smith, Panthers
20. Devin Hester, Bears
21. Derrick Mason, Ravens
22. Donald Driver, Packers
23. Mario Manningham, Giants
24. Jerricho Cotchery, Jets
25. Percy Harvin, Vikings
26. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
27. Nate Burleson, Seahawks
28. Steve Breaston, Cardinals
29. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks
30. Braylon Edwards, Jets
It's foolish to guarantee 100 yards and/or one touchdown with tight ends -- since their stats, stars included, tend to fluctuate wildly from week to week. Instead, here's our top 10 most productive tight ends for Week 8:
1. Tony Gonzalez @ New Orleans
2. Antonio Gates vs. Oakland
3. Jermichael Finley vs. Minnesota (downgrade him if his knee injury is substantial)
4. Dustin Keller vs. Miami
5. Jason Witten vs. Seattle
6. Owen Daniels @ Buffalo
7. Brent Celek vs. N.Y. Giants
8. Dallas Clark vs. San Francisco
9. Vernon Davis @ Indianapolis
10. Greg Olsen vs. Cleveland
Ben Roethlisberger: D.Jay Talbott/Icon SMI
@kirghizstan asks: Do you think giving up Ben Roethlisberger for Tom Brady is a fair trade?
Answer: Surrendering Brady for Big Ben -- straight up -- sounds like one of the stupidest trades one could make. Yes, Big Ben is having a phenomenal year (2,062 yards passing/11 TDs), and yes, his receiving corps -- from top to bottom -- rates favorably with Brady's crew in New England. But the mere mention of Brady's name, especially with nine TD passes in his last two games, should bring back a boatload of megatalent in return. In fact, it's a almost a no-win proposition for Owner B: If Big Ben maintains his pace of 294 passing yards per game, I doubt he'll be beating Brady by much, if at all. And if Big Ben goes on a cold streak, Owner B would be mocked incessantly by friends and family for being "the moron" who gave up Brady for a bag of beans. Think McFly, think!
@thrasherrr wonders: Do I drop Larry Johnson and pick up Shonn Greene? I tried to trade LJ for a while but there was zero interest.
Answer: If LJ is the worst player on your roster, yes, I'd dump him for Greene. But as of this moment (which precedes any announcement of the Chiefs suspending Johnson for conduct detrimental to the team) ... I would find a way to keep both players. Johnson may have a few 130-yard games in the tank (even with another NFL team) -- you just have to get lucky in guessing when that'll occur.
@airT08 asks: Week 8 lineup -- Start Mark Sanchez vs. Miami or Brett Favre? With Will Allen done for the season, the Dolphins will have to start two cornerbacks.
Answer: Air, my man, I appreciate the great insight, which tells me you're leaning toward starting Sanchez (172 passing yards, 1 TD vs. Miami on Oct. 12). And if that's true, good luck with your endeavor. But for me, I would have trouble starting Matt Schaub over Favre in his long-awaited Green Bay homecoming -- let alone some random rookie who lives the the Baywatch life during the offseason. Seriously, are you really thinking about benching Favre at Lambeau? The man just threw 51 times at Pittsburgh ... do you not think his arm is primed for Cheeseland?
@mscalese poses this question: In a keeper league, Matt Forte/Ronnie Brown/Randy Moss for Adrian Peterson/Tashard Choice/Kevin Walter. Who wins out?
Answer: If Owner A gets to keep Forte, Brown AND Moss next year, this is an absolute steal. If not, Owner A may have given Owner B the missing piece to this year's fantasy title, courtesy of AP (and Walter, if Andre Johnson's bruised lung becomes a major concern).
@B4him13 wonders: Sidney Rice/Calvin Johnson/Joseph Addai/Vernon Davis for Randy Moss and Steven Jackson ... is this a good trade? I have Vincent Jackson/Anquan Boldin at wide receiver and Ray Rice/Maurice Jones-Drew at running back.
Answer: Unless you're playing in an 8-team league, there is absolutely no justification in owning Calvin, Addai, V-Jax, Boldin, Ray Rice and MJD at the same time -- which speaks to the stupidity of your fellow owners. Seriously, what incentive do you have to stay with this group ... if none of 'em can effectively build a solid team through the draft? It's time to upgrade, my friend. Come join the masses who appreciate a challenge during football season -- even if they're sitting at 2-5 and out of the playoff picture! With that said ... I would definitely pull the trigger on this deal. For the always-unpredictable fantasy playoffs, you'll now have starting options of MJD, S-Jax, Ray Rice at running back and V-Jax, Boldin and Moss at wide receiver. That's a championship nucleus, for sure.
1. Robbie Gould vs. Cleveland
2. Rob Bironas vs. Jacksonville
3. John Carney vs. Atlanta
4. Mason Crosby vs. Minnesota
5. Nate Kaeding vs. Oakland
6. Lawrence Tynes @ Philadelphia
7. Josh Scobee @ Tennessee
Mainstream fantasy sites, like SI.com, are obviously a hit with fantasygoers. But there's always room for alternative media in the marketplace, especially when the authors are hilariously shouting from the rooftops about how JaMarcus Russell could be the NFL's worst-ever quarterback for executing screen passes OR why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may not win a game ... until 2012.
The first must-see blog is PigskinAddiction.com; and the site's signature page involves Snake's Takes (running every Tuesday) -- comprising a collection of unfiltered thoughts so random, so emotional, so bitter, so twisted ... you'll wonder how the man even survives an NFL Sunday, let alone write about it come Monday.
Next up ... Fantasy Football Toolbox. If you're looking for updated depth charts, weekly cheat sheets, injury reports and even -- sacre bleu! -- an updated listing of the NFL's Top 10 punters (insert joke here) ... then welcome home!
There's even a weekly podcast during the season -- although the Clemons/Ritter podcast offers more hard-hitting fantasy analysis and abject mocking of one another's lineup decisions.
1. Anquan Boldin vs. Carolina
2. Larry Fitzgerald vs. Carolina
3. Roddy White @ New Orleans
4. Vincent Jackson vs. Oakland
5. Miles Austin vs. Seattle
6. Mohammed Massaquoi @ Chicago
7. Reggie Wayne vs. San Francisco
8. DeSean Jackson vs. N.Y. Giants
9. Derrick Mason vs. Denver
10. Brandon Marshall @ Baltimore
11. Marques Colston vs. Atlanta
12. Lance Moore vs. Atlanta
13. Kenny Britt vs. Jacksonville
In case you're scoring at home, here's my perfect lineup for Week 8:
QB Aaron Rodgers
RB Steven Jackson (his TD drought has to end sometime, right?)
RB Maurice Jones-Drew (he's like a Pez dispener of fantasy goodness)
WR Vincent Jackson (should be great, with or without Asomugha's coverage)
WR Miles Austin (I'm done dismissing his fantasy potential)
RB/WR Anquan Boldin (call it a hunch ... but he's wayyyyy overdue for greatness)
TE Tony Gonzalez
PK Robbie Gould
D/ST Chicago Bears (simply follow the stench-trail of the Rams, Lions, Bucs or -- in this case -- Browns)
Even so-called fantasy experts aren't above miserable failure from time to time, which is why I'm not ashamed to admit the following: In the SI.com & Friends football league, my team (Count Chocula's Henchmen) had four starters with zero fantasy points for Week 7. Now, to be fair, one of the goose-eggers was Jets RB Leon Washington, who suffered a season-ending injury (broken leg) on his lone carry against the Raiders (for 6 yards). But the rest of the duds -- Chiefs TE Sean Ryan (zero catches), Pats RB Ben-Jarvus Green Ellis (zero yards), Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski (zero field goals) -- were colossal disappointments with their respective clubs ... and with hyper-competitve fantasy owners caught in bye-week purgatory. Four zeroes ... that'll easily be a record which stands the test of time -- kind of like Cy Young's baseball mark for all-time wins (511) and Wayne Gretzky's hockey record for seasonal points (215 in 1985-86).
Ironically, I had a perfectly healthy Beanie Wells sitting on the bench, and his 77 total yards and one TD would have given me a head-to-head victory against David Komer's "Run MJD" squad -- IF I had elected to start him, of course ... and IF Larry Fitzgerald hadn't bobble-dropped that easy-cheesy TD pass against the Giants. Damn!