Week 8 Revelations
Brett Favre: Scott Boehm/Getty Images
Speaking of long shots, the Packers may be an afterthought in the NFC North race now, but they also unleashed the power of Greg Jennings (8 catches, 88 yards, 1 TD) in defeat. Yes, a good chunk of his catches came in borderline garbage time; and yes, his touchdown reception would never win a beauty pageant. But in a high-pressure environment, Jennings upped his fantasy value -- so much that owners should give him another week to re-prove himself before the fantasy playoffs. And that's certainly a possibility with Tampa Bay, Dallas, San Francisco and Detroit on the November docket. Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, is an automatic start, unless you play in weekly leagues that only track first-half stats. Seriously, how cool was it for Rodgers (339 yards, 3 TDs) to recover from a Derek Anderson-esque start and almost vault the Pack to an unlikely victory? In hindsight, his early downfall might've stemmed from the same reason that enabled Favre to flourish, amid a cascade of boos: Rodgers simply wanted this one too much.
Miami 30, N.Y. Jets 25
The Jets may have lost in real-world football, but their fantasyland day was nearly flawless: QB Mark Sanchez threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns, Dustin Keller (8 catches, 76 yards, 1 TD) and Braylon Edwards (4 catches, 74 yards, 1 TD) both scored, Jerricho Cotchery (3 catches, 70 yards) flourished in his return from injury and Thomas Jones padded his MVP-like fantasy resume with 130 total yards. Sadly, the only underperformer was rookie RB Shonn Greene, who couldn't match the hype surrounding his midweek-transaction frenzy -- Think Greene, if you will -- and finished with only 18 yards. In a bit of irony, Greene may be this year's biggest Wednesday Warrior (I know of one owner who devoted 90 percent of his yearly salary cap to plucking Greene off waivers) ... but he'd likely finish second to Houston's Ryan Moats this week in free-agency bidding. That notwithstanding, this is the perfect time for Jones owners to slide right in and make a reasonable trade to secure the RB handcuff.
Carolina 34, Arizona 21
Tennessee 30, Jacksonville 13
Regarding the Jaguars, QB David Garrard might've had the most disappointing Week 8 of any NFL player. No matter how you slice it, there's no excuse for finishing with 161 total yards, zero TDs and two INTs against a defense that bequeathed 59 points to New England -- in the snow. Along those lines, there's no justifying Mike Sims-Walker (2 catches, 9 yards) and Torry Holt's painfully ordinary production. Fortunately, the trio was obscured by Maurice Jones-Drew's 177 rushing yards (on just eight carries) and two touchdowns. It was the kind of performance that should make MJD owners pull back before the upcoming trade deadlines. Simply put, Jones-Drew is an untouchable commodity ... even if Drew Brees AND Reggie Wayne are coming back the other way.
Revelations, Book II
LaDainian Tomlinson: Harry How/Getty Images
The Oakland defense, in all seriousness, deserves some kudos for keeping this game close the whole way. That sounds funny when talking about an NFL team, but if you recall the Raiders' efforts against the Giants and Jets in October ... a transparent act of positive reinforcement suddenly doesn't sound so bad. However, Oakland still has light-years to go in fantasyland, as evidenced by JaMarcus Russell's 109 yards passing, Michael Bush's 41 total yards and Louis Murphy/Darrius Heyward-Bey combining for one catch. It's hard to believe any core group could be so predictably fruitless. Luckily, Justin Fargas (79 total yards, 1 TD) and Zach Miller (5 catches, 52 yards) still have value in Points Per Reception leagues -- which is no small feat, considering Russell only completed 14 passes against the Bolts.
Houston 31, Buffalo 10
As for the Bills, if you haven't done so already, it's time to dutifully unload RBs Marshawn Lynch (49 total yards) or Fred Jackson (28 total yards) on the trade market. The preceding statement was not a referendum on their fantasy talents, per se; but with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick helming the offense, the Buffalo running game shall command zero respect in the meantime. And it's not like Trent Edwards' eventual return will signal some kind of offensive revolution -- but it would slightly enhance the marketability of Lynch, Jackson, Terrell Owens (68 total yards, 1 TD) and Lee Evans (2 catches, 29 yards). As we stated in Clicks last week, Evans traditionally puts up good-to-great numbers in November, but he'll need a QB with an NFL-caliber arm to get the job done. Right here, right now, Fitzpatrick (117 yards, zero TDs, two INTs) doesn't possess that kind of arm.
Dallas 38, Seattle 17
Speaking of disappearing acts ... what has become of T.J. Houshmandzadeh since his offseason cash grab? Looking at the tote board, he's had two excellent games (Weeks 4 and 5) and five stinkers, including Sunday's four-catch, 24-yard outing. In fact, his sluggishness would be even more profound if we weren't equally blown away by tight end John Carlson (3 catches, 36 yards vs. Dallas). This is precisely why second-year players should never be treated as gold on fantasy draft day -- unless we're talking about Adrian Peterson OR the new king of Crabcake Country (scroll down).
Baltimore 30, Denver 7
That dubious honor goes to Broncos QB Kyle Orton (163 total yards, zero TDs), who needed a late fourth-quarter surge to boost his stats over the century mark, leaving fantasy owners to wonder: Is Orton the primary benefactor of playing in the horrible AFC West? Or was this simply a bad day on the range? Thankfully, we'll get some closure on that debate in Week 9, as Denver hosts Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football. Hopefully, Knowshon Moreno (35 total yards, 1 TD), Correll Buckhalter (46 total yards), Eddie Royal (1 catch, 10 yards), Tony Scheffler (1 catch, 9 yards) and Brandon Marshall (4 catches, 24 yards) will play larger roles in arguably the Game of the Week. Or maybe it'll be another lukewarm airing of Jabar Gaffney's Greatest Hits.
Revelations, Book III
DeSean Jackson: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The Giants, on the other hand, might not be so lucky in subsequent weeks. Their Sunday battle plan was eerily reminiscent to the ones from Weeks 6 and 7: Score 17-24 points and fall woefully short of victory. But there were some positives to derive from the experience, such as Eli Manning's 256 total yards/1 TD, Brandon Jacobs' 107 total yards, Steve Smith's eight catches for 68 yards and a surprising breakout from tight end Kevin Boss (3 catches, 70 yards, 1 TD). It's just not enough to predict, with confidence, a substantial turnaround next week against San Diego.
Indianapolis 18, San Francisco 14
On the flip side, wouldn't it be great if Frank Gore (134 total yards, 1 TD) could accelerate the development of Vernon Davis, Glen Coffee, Josh Morgan and rookie WR Michael Crabtree in one fell swoop? Yes, Davis somehow worked a touchdown into his three-catch act for 20 yards, but the peaks-and-valleys effect of three touchdowns one week ... and 20 yards the next is just too frustrating. And yes, Crabtree caught six balls for a respectable 81 yards -- against a top-notch passing defense, no less -- but someone has to become the undisputed lead dog amongst the receivers. Otherwise, Alex Smith (208 total yards, 1 TD), Shaun Hill or whichever college QB San Francisco takes in the April draft (Colt McCoy, Jake Locker, Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Case Keenum, Jimmy Clausen, etc.) will always be doomed to fail.
Chicago 30, Cleveland 6
Regarding the Browns ... there's no bigger indictment than the following tidbit: As of 3:38 p.m., no Cleveland receiver had registered more than one catch against a Bears defense that surrendered five touchdown passes to Carson Palmer last week. Unfortunately, the lack of a pro-style passing game (thanks, Derek Anderson) had a negative trickle-down effect with RB Jamal Lewis, who rushed for 69 solid yards but never threatened to find the end zone.
St. Louis 17, Detroit 10
In a nutshell, this snoozefest (Jackson aside) offered little hope for the immediate fantasy future. Yes, Matthew Stafford (172 total yards, 1 TD) will be a top-10 fantasy QB sometime around 2011 or '12, but that's assuming Calvin Johnson can remain in one piece. Bottom line: The Lions (ahem) easily boast the worst collection of wideouts/tight ends in the league -- featuring an odd mix of past-their-primers (Northcutt, Bryant Johnson), never-will-be's (John Standeford comes to mind) and precocious rookies who are universally connected by two threads: They share in-the-vicinity locker space with Calvin Johnson ... AND everyone has trouble catching Stafford's hard-but-spiralicious passes. (The FOX announcers stopped counting after seven drops.) It goes without saying: Only Smith is a regular must-start during Calvin's absence; and when he returns, it may be safe to start Johnson/Stafford in deeper leagues ... except ones that penalize the quarterback for "dropped passes by open receivers."
Jay Clemons can be found on Twitter, day and night (@SI_JayClemons), accessing your fantasy questions and comments. You can also read his award-winning Revelations every Sunday and Monday during the NFL season.
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