Week 8 is upon us. Here's what you need to know heading into the weekend.
News:QB Tony Romowon't return from his broken pinkie until mid-November
Views: For starters, I cannot remember the last time a star QB -- and not the owner, team doctor, head coach, GM or even PR department -- furnished the announcement of when he would or would not return from injury; that alone tells you just how disheveled the Cowboys organization has been of late. The inmates (figuratively speaking, of course) are running the asylum at Valley Ranch. That aside, it's impossible for me to believe that Brad Johnson can lead Dallas to two victories (vs. Tampa Bay, @ N.Y. Giants) in its two games before the Week 10 bye; one win maybe ... but the Cowboys, at best, are staring at a 5-4 record when Romo returns on Nov. 16 (to lead the team's Wild Card fight). From a fantasyland perspective, not to keep piling on the 40-year-old Johnson, I would be shocked if he threw for 425 yards and three TDs combined against the Bucs and Giants -- meaning it would benefit intelligent, independent-thinking owners to ignore the "Johnson has too many offensive toys to fail" hype and do the "fuzzy math" (to borrow a buzzword from the 2000 presidential election:
1 Old, Rusty QB + 1 Shoddy Pass-Blocking O-Line + 1 group of underwhelming receivers (at the moment) = Trouble ahead for the Cowboys (unless you're starting RB Marion Barber in fantasyland)
Verdict: If the Cowboys lose at home to the 5-2 Bucs on Sunday (the same franchise Romo carved up for 5 TD passes in '06) ... I predict Romo will be pressed into starting duty against the Giants on Nov. 2 -- rendering any Johnson/Week 9 projections as moot.
News:Browns TE Kellen Winslow is appealing his one-game suspension
Views: Fantasy owners, beware. Winslow's appeal won't resemble appeals in Major League Baseball, where the player keeps performing on the field (and getting paid) until his case goes up for official review. Winslow's appeal will be heard on Sunday -- just hours before the Browns-Jaguars game -- meaning he could still be sidelined against the Jaguars' mediocre pass defense.
Verdict: Winslow looked pretty fluid last week (7 targets) against the Redskins, even though his final numbers (2 catches, 17 yards) weren't fantasy-friendly. If he does win his appeal, I could see him racking up 70 total yards with one TD against Jacksonville. K2 is definitely worth the starting risk this weekend ... just be prepared to boot him from your lineup on Sunday morning or afternoon (since Cleveland plays at 4 p.m. EST).
News:The Week 8 bye has far-reaching effects in fantasyland
Views: Who could've anticipated that Matt Forte, Aaron Rodgers, Brandon Marshall, Greg Jennings and Bernard Berrian would be fantasy superstars so early in their respective careers? Add Jay Cutler, Ryan Grant and Adrian Peterson to the bye mix ... and you have a fantasy week where owners are scrambling just to fill their starting slots -- let alone maximizing their potential for a big playoff push.
Verdict: How bad is the Week 8 bye for me, using my favorite Points-Per-Receptions league as an example? Instead of having Cutler, Marshall, Greg Olsen/Tony Scheffler or the injured Reggie Bush (out 2-4 weeks after knee surgery) in my lineup, I must start three rookie running backs (Chris Johnson, Jonathan Stewart, Tim Hightower) and a second Texans receiver (Kevin Walter), along with all-world WR Andre Johnson, as my main five (2 RB, 2 WR, 1 flex). What's more, my lineup depletion could've been even worse, since the NFL originally earmarked Week 8 as the Texans' bye (before Hurricane Ike forced the club to make changes). Now, if you assume owners everywhere are encountering similar dilemmas with their own lineups, Week 8 could be the ultimate Boom-or-Bust experience in fantasyland.
News:The Chiefs lose two QBs for the season; Larry Johnson inactive for Week 8
Views: Thank god for the Bengals ... otherwise the Chiefs would be the runaway choice for "Fantasy Mess of the Year." Where to begin with this club? Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard have been placed on IR, ending their seasons; LJ's troubles with the law have forced the Chiefs to take away the privilege of playing pro football; and the franchise is putting the finishing touches on a 17th consecutive season (or so it seems) without a viable No. 2 receiver!
Verdict: As bad as things seem for the Chiefs (oh, did I mention their Swiss-cheese-like run defense?), there are a few fantasy bright spots: TE Tony Gonzalez (27 catches, 290 yards, 2 TDs) can still reach the 70-catch, 7-TD mark, WR Dwayne Bowe (410 receiving yards, 2 TDs) is third in Targets amongst all pass-catchers; and rookie Jamaal Charles is a star-in-waiting at running back -- once LJ is out of the picture (long term) and as soon as the Kansas City coaches realize Kolby Smith hasn't earned the right to share carries with Charles (short term).