2014 Fantasy Football: Start 'Em/Sit 'Em WEEK 9
A helpful look into who should be in your line up or riding your bench this week.
Always remember one of our biggest rules here at FFChamps.com:
Commandment #10: Thou shall ALWAYS start thy Studs
Every major fantasy football site gives you a start 'em or sit 'em article every week to try and help you with you line up selection. Unfortunately we can't always get it right. Some calls looks genius, and others not so much. Each week I will review the past week of my start and sit selections to let you know how well it went. I (like every else in this industry) won't always get every call right every week, and I will share all the results with you so you know where I was right and where I was wrong. Here is the criteria I will use to say when the players from the previous week were a GOOD CALL or a BAD CALL.
For the Start 'Em:
QB - Any quarterback who finished in the top 16 will be a Good Call.
Any quarterback outside the top 16 will be a Bad Call.
RB - Any running back who finished in the top 36 will be a Good Call.
Any running back outside the top 36 will be a Bad Call.
WR - Any wide receiver who finished in the top 48 will be a Good Call.
Any wide receiver outside the top 48 will be a Bad Call.
TE - Any tight end who finished in the top 16 will be a Good Call.
Any tight end outside the top 16 will be a Bad Call.
For the Sit 'Em:
QB - Any quarterback who finished out of the top 16 will be a Good Call.
Any quarterback in the top 16 will be a Bad Call.
RB - Any running back who finished out of the top 36 will be a Good Call.
Any running back in the top 36 will be a Bad Call.
WR - Any wide receiver who finished out of the top 48 will be a Good Call.
Any wide receiver in the top 48 will be a Bad Call.
TE - Any tight end who finished out of the top 16 will be a Good Call.
Any tight end in the top 16 will be a Bad Call.
WEEK 8 RESULTS: (YTD)
Good Calls: 15 (120)
Bad Calls: 9 (76)
Peyton Manning Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots
Drew Brees New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers (Thursday Night)
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers BYE
Tom Brady New England Patriots vs Denver Broncos
Philip Rivers San Diego Chargers @ Miami Dolphins
Andrew Luck Indianapolis Colts @ New York Giants (Monday Night)
Cam Newton Carolina Panthers vs New Orleans Saints (Thursday Night): That Seahawks and Panthers match up was surprisingly defensive. We would have expected nothing less last season, but this year both defensive units seem to be taking a step backwards. Cam was on a nice 3-game upswing in the fantasy points world before the trip to Lambeau 2 weeks ago when Newton posted 18 points (still not shabby but 20 less than the previous week). This past week against Seattle he managed just 5, yes that's the correct number, against a Seattle defense that is far from the unit we saw dominate int he Super Bowl last season. Since 2012 that is Newton's worst fantasy outing ever, and it's not even close (10 points last year against the 49ers was his worst before Sunday). But anytime Newton has posed less than 15 points (which has happened 5 times since the start of 2012), the next gave he has scored at least 21 points with an average of 23 per contest. The Saints are bottom 10 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, giving up 22 points/game. They have allowed every single quarterback to hit double digits this season. All quarterbacks have had 20+ points against the Saints outside of Brian Hoyer (14), and Teddy Bridgewater (who scored 10 coming in for an injured Mat Cassell). In his career against New Orleans, Newton is averaging 204 passing yards and 1 touchdown per game while adding in another 36 on the ground (and as 2 career rushing touchdowns versus the Saints). Newton also has averaged 18 points on Thursday night games in his career. Look for Cam to get back on track (at least fantasy wise) this Thursday with the showdown against the Saints.
Brian Hoyer Cleveland Browns vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: After a really rough week against the lowly Jaguars, Hoyer bounced back in a strong way against the Raiders this week. He had his 2nd most passing yards (275) and 2nd best completion percentage (68%) of the season. The 15 fantasy points he scored were also the 2nd best of 2014. Now that he has some confidence back, Hoyer gets a 3rd straight cupcake match up on paper. The Buccaneers are one of the worst teams in the league at preventing quarterbacks from scoring fantasy points on them. Tampa has allowed 16 passing touchdowns this year (3rd most in the NFL), while their 4 interceptions rank and the 3rd worst in the league. They are giving up 24 points per contest and have allowed the likes of Derek Anderson (20), Joe Flacco (35, and rookie Teddy Bridgewater (16) to put up respectable if not great points on them. The Buccs have given up double-digit points to every single quarterback they have faced with Austin Davis’ 11 being the season-low, and outside of Davis and Bridgewater, the other 5 signal callers have thrown for multiple touchdowns.
Ryan Fitzpatrick Houston Texans vs Philadelphia Eagles: You know how as fans when the NFL schedule is released we all print out our favorite teams upcoming foes and predict the wins and loses? How we all circle the games we are sure our team is just going to dominate. I wonder if Ryan Fitzpatrick did the same thing but circled match ups he couldn’t wait for, and if he did this week had to be the first one he circled. Facing the Philadelphia Eagles secondary for a quarterback is like a second bye week built into the schedule. In his 23 regular season games coached since the start of 2013, Chip Kelly’s birds have given up over 300 yards through the air 10 times and have only held opponents to under 200 passing yards just 5 times. The Eagles finished as the 5th worst team against QBs in 2013 (allowing just under 24 points/game), and in 2014 is even worse ranked as the 3rd worst team against the pass (while giving up a full point more to QBs). In my mind Fitzpatrick would normally not be an option but with 4 of 6 teams on the bye that have every week fantasy starting quarterbacks, people need replacements and may need to dig to find them. Fitzpatrick has an extremely soft match up, and has just 1 game this season in which he scored under 15 fantasy points. He is definitely worthy of a start this week if your waiver is thin at the QB position.
Michael Vick New York Jets @ Kansas City Chiefs: This one is pretty simple. Geno Smith turns the ball over 3 times in the 1st quarter on Sunday; in comes Vick. Vick then proceeded to turn the ball over 3 times himself (the Jets recovered another 2 fumbles Vick coughed up) while failing to score with his arm or legs. Now the Jets named Vick their starting quarterback for this weekends date with the Chiefs in Kansas City. Vick hasn't started a game in over a year, and hasn't scored a touchdown, either by air or land, since week 3 of 2013. The Jets know Vick isn't the long term answer and he hasn't performed even ok since the first 2 weeks of last season, so this move is bad idea in the fantasy and real world. The Chiefs have given up just 1,508 passing yards this year (best in the NFL), 41 rushing yards (3rd best in the league), and they are 1 of 3 teams to be giving up less than 19 points/game to opposing signal callers. I hate Vick in the actual game, and even more in the fantasy game.
Robert Griffin III/Colt McCoy Washington Redskins @ Minnesota Vikings: In the instance the RGIII starts, which are the report as of late Wednesday, I still am not starting him. I’m grabbing and stashing him on my bench but I’m still not going to play him this week. First of all, wouldn’t it make more sense for the Redskins to let RGIII take this last week before the team’s bye off and bring him back week 11 against the Buccaneers in D.C.? Secondly coming off a dislocated ankle isn’t going to be an easy task. Last time Griffin tried to come back after an injury to his lower extremities it didn’t go that well. His arm was still ok, but he lost his ability to scramble and rush and that’s what makes RGIII; RGIII. If teams can contain him in the pocket he isn’t the same quarterback, Griffin needs the ability to use his legs and until I see he can do that, I can’t have him in my starting line up, especially during a push to make the fantasy playoffs. Finally check out the Vikings facts below in the “Colt McCoy”section since the apply to whoever the Skins start this Sunday.
The first thing most people will see from Monday night is that Colt McCoy lead the heavily under-dogged Redskins to a win against the then 6-1 league-leading Dallas Cowboys. Easy everyone, Colt McCoy did a while lot of nothing to contribute to that win. He did register 299 passing yards and managed to score on the ground once, but he couldn't find the end zone via his arm and did turn the ball over once. Dallas was a good defense at stopping quarterbacks, but this Sunday's test in Minnesota will be even tougher for McCoy. The Vikings are currently the 2nd best team at corralling QBs. They are giving up just 18 points/game to quarterbacks while allowing a league-low 11 rushing yards and 0 rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks. Even worse for McCoy is the game being played in Minnesota where the Vikings have allowed just 1 quarterback to accumulate more than 20 fantasy points on them (Matt Ryan ripped of 27 in a game that was dominated by the Vikes). Hell, the Vikings held Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford to 334 yards passing and 2 touchdowns combined! McCoy is just a band aid until RGIII is back, and getting that big win in Big D is the best Colt 45 will be able to pull off in his little time he has to start in 2014.
Joe Flacco Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday Night): It was just a few weeks ago Flacco threw 5 touchdowns and 0 interceptions against the Buccaneers and people sent us emails and tweets about Flacco being a viable fantasy option. Well 2 weeks after his insane performance, Flacco has totaled 2 touchdowns with 4 throws going to the other team. Those touchdowns 2 weeks ago are more than 1/3 of his total for 2014 (he has 14 so far this year), and outside of that big game week 6 Joey Flac hasn't thrown for 5 touchdowns in back-to-back weeks at all this season. He's had just 2 weeks of over 20 points this year (worst among the top 15 quarterbacks at this point of the year) and now he gets the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers.I go into more detail about this rivalry a little further down the page (see Heath Miller), but its a fact these games are usually slug fests. Flacco has only thrown multiple touchdowns just 3 times in 13 career meetings with Pittsburgh and just one of those games coming in the Steel City (in which he threw 2 TDs and for just 166 yards or 14 fantasy points). He has over 250 yards passing in just 4 of those 13 match ups, and I don't see this Sunday night's game being the one when he goes off against the Steelers. Even with Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, and Jay Cutler on byes this weekend, there are plenty of better options on your waiver wire than Flacco.
LeSean McCoy Philadelphia Eagles @ Houston Texans
Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs vs New York Jets
Matt Forte Chicago Bears BYE
Eddie Lacy Green Bay Packers BYE
Marshawn Lynch Seattle Seahawks vs Oakland Raiders
Le’Veon Bell Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens (Sunday Night)
Giovani Bernard Cincinnati Bengals vs Jacksonville Jaguars
Arian Foster Houston Texans vs Philadelphia Eagles
Ronnie Hillman Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots: We will all be hearing enough facts throughout the week of the Broncos/Patriots match up this weekend, mainly about Peyton and Tom, but every position and player will get some mention, including Ronnie Hillman. This dude is coming off his 2 toughest games he would start the last 2 weeks against the 49ers and Chargers, who both have respectable defenses especially against the run (7th & 5th best). In the last 2 Hillman has 41 combined touches for a grand total of 241 yards and 2 touchdowns, or 18 points/game. Now he's gets the pleasure of the opposite end of the running back stuffing rainbow with the Patriots. A team that is in the bottom 8 against running backs allowing back-to-back 100-yard rushers the last 2 weeks in Chris Ivory and Matt Forte. Those gentlemen averaged 19.5 points in those 2 games. Good things are on the horizon for Hillman, especially this week, but if he continues to tear it up it is going to be damn near impossible to put the ball back into Montee's hands when he does return in the next few weeks.
Jeremy Hill Cincinnati Bengals vs Jacksonville Jaguars: Cincinnati's offense has been looking rough the past couple of weeks. It's 100% apparent that as A.J. Green goes, so goes the Bengals offense. There is a good chance Green comes back to play this weekend, and not only will that make his owners smile (unless he's a decoy like Jimmy Graham was a few weeks back when he returned off injury), but it will also lift the spirits of Andy Dalton, Giovani Bernard, and Jeremy Hill owners to boot. Hill owners have even more to be happy about with Gio getting banged up last weekend. He will be able to play this Sunday but we at ffchamps believe he will have fewer touches to keep his smaller frame fresh for down the stretch, which only means more touches for Hill. Jeremy has suffered 2 of his 3 worst performances of the year the last 2 weeks but that’s all going to change this weekend. After facing the 2nd best team at stopping running backs last week in Baltimore, Hill has a 180 this week with Jacksonville coming to town. Sure the Jags have improved little-by-little as the season has gone on, but they are still giving up 19 fantasy points per contest and the 204 rushing attempts against the Jaguars is the 4th most against 1 team. Yes Gio will get his looks and be back to the Gio were used too, but Jeremy Hill (the 4th highest scoring rookie RB) will get a healthy amount of touches once again this week.
Alfred Morris Washington Redskins @ Minnesota Vikings: After a couple of iffy weeks, Morris bounced back nicely against a strong Dallas run defense on Monday night racking up 85 total yards and a score. His first touchdown and double-digit fantasy day in over a month. Ironically Morris has faced the Vikes in each of his 2 previous NFL seasons, posting 10 and 13 points respectively, rushing for a combined 186 yards and a touchdown. Before last week Morris had 3 straight weeks of single-digit fantasy outputs for just the 2nd time in his career. The last time he had stretch like that (weeks 8-11 in 2012) he came back with a vengeance posting double-digit performances in 9 straight regular season games to close out 2012 and open 2013. During that run he averaged 18 points per game. Taking on the Vikings can very well get him on a roll like that again this season. The Vikings are a bottom 10 team against the run, and seem to be even worse at home in the Land of 1,000 Lakes. They've allowed every starting running back that's come into Minnesota o post double-digit fantasy points (and one back up too), while allowing running backs to rack up 5 total touchdowns in the only 3 home games they've played in 2014. If you own Morris it's been a rough few weeks, but like George Michael once said you gotta have faith.
Chris Ivory New York Jets @ Kansas City Chiefs: Why don’t I like Ivory this week after he had 2 straight weeks of 16+ fantasy points?
- Michael Vick: Already seems to be a turnover machine and isn’t Mike Vick of 2010 or even near that level.
- He has to go to Arrowhead Stadium and face the Chiefs who allow 12 points/game to running backs, and haven’t allowed an opposing running back to score more than 7 points on them in Kansas City.
- Finally the Chiefs still haven’t let a single running back into the end zone this year. Not on the ground. Not through the air. Not at all.
So with a big bye week and a thin running back position this year, a better option than Ivory may be impossible to find this week, but if you do play him don’t expect much of anything given his situation this weekend.
Andre Williams New York Giants vs Indianapolis Colts (Monday Night): Looking like another week without Rashad Jennings at the helm of the New York Giants backfield, which means another week of Andre Williams taking over that starting role. Williams had a lot of hype coming out of Boston College after posting staggering numbers before he entered the NFL draft. Once he starting getting double-digit carries in week 4 against the Redskins he looked to be the guy the Giants were hoping he'd be. He posted two straight games with double-digit fantasy points in weeks 4 & 5 against the Redskins (12) and Falcons (14). However Jennings played in both those games, although he did get injured in that Atlanta game, and once Jennings did go down, Williams still hasn't stepped up the way Giants fans, or Williams fantasy owners would have liked. He's gotten the start in the last 2 games and managed to post a combined 10 points. He hasn't found the end zone since becoming the starter and also has failed to record a reception on 3 targets. Both games Williams started came on a prime time stage (Sunday night in Philly and a nationally televised game in Dallas), and now he gets a 3rd straight game in the spot light against the Colts. Seems that the big stage isn't where Williams fairs well, and the Colts have been improving slowly on defense as the weeks progress. In their last 3 games in which they faced Arian Foster, Giovani Bernard, and Le'Veon Bell the Colts allowed just Foster to reach 100 yards and score. Neither Gio nor Bell were able to break the century mark or the goal line. Williams is a starting running back at a position that's stick thin this year with 6 teams on a bye this week, so odds are he's in your line up, but again temper expectations and don't be shocked if Andre fails to hit double-digits again this Monday night.
Shane Vereen New England Patriots vs Denver Broncos: I think it is safe to say that Vereen has been one of the most frustrating fantasy running backs this year, if not the most frustrating. Every week it looks like he gets it, he comes back the next week with an egg. From 13 points to 4, from 10 to 0, from 23 to 4, this guy is nowhere near consistent enough. Now the Denver Broncos come to town. This game is all about the quarterbacks. Not to say that running backs won’t contribute, but I’ll take Ronnie Hillman over Vereen this week. Aside from the fact that Manning and Brady will be going pass-for-pass with one another, the Broncos defense is much better at slowing down running backs than the passing game in 2014. Over the past 3 weeks the Broncos are allowing an average of 3 points to opposing starting backs. 3 points! The have allowed just 1 player to eclipse 80 rushing yards while no one has hit the century mark on them yet. Oh, and on top of that they have allowed just 3 double-digit fantasy games all season to rushers, and those games came courtesy of Andre Ellington, Marshawn Lynch, and Knile Davis. I believe a ton of points will be scored in this game, I just don’t see Vereen as a major contributor to that this week.
Demaryius Thomas Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots
Dez Bryant Dallas Cowboys vs Arizona Cardinals
Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions BYE
Brandon Marshall Chicago Bears BYE
A.J. Green Cincinnati Bengals vs Jacksonville Jaguars
Julio Jones Atlanta Falcons BYE
Antonio Brown Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens (Sunday Night)
Jordy Nelson Green Bay Packers BYE
Randall Cobb Green Bay Packers BYE
Emmanuel Sanders Denver Broncos @ New England Patrtiots
Golden Tate Detroit Lions BYE
T.Y. Hilton Indianapolis Colts @ New York Giants (Monday Night)
Andre Johnson Houston Texans vs Philadelphia Eagles: Andre Johnson has been one of the most solid fantasy wide outs over the past decade. And that is with garbage at the quarterback spot, and a run game that was non-existent for half of his career in Houston. In 2014, Johnson has at least 5 receptions in every game but 1 (when he had 4 catches against the Giants), and just once has he failed to reach at least 50 yards receiving (again that single instance coming when he faced the Giants). While his touchdowns aren't coming as fast or rapidly as his owners would like, keep faith in the old vet. He has just 2 seasons in which he failed to record at least 4 touchdowns; both times he missed part of the year with injury. If my math is correct that means Andre is in for at least 3 more touchdowns on the back half of 2014, and odds are he will start this weekend against the Philadelphia Eagles. While a lot has changed for the birds under year 2 of Chip Kelly, one thing has remained the same, the inability to stop the passing game. Last week the Eagles made Larry Fitzgerald look like the Fitz of 4 years again, letting him smoke them for 7-160-1. In a non-PPR format, those 22 points put up by Fitz are the 6th most in his entire career! If the Eagles can help revitalize a career then Andre Johnson owners should be extremely excited for him to get his shot at bathing in the "fountain of wide receiver youth" this Sunday against Philadelphia.
Brandon LaFell New England Patriots vs Denver Broncos: I was really interested in LaFell when I heard he was heading to New England. Brady needed a legitimate deep threat and the Pats were hoping that LaFell would emerge as that guy. He has. The first few weeks in a Patriot uniform looked rough on LaFell gaining just 14 total targets hauling in a lowly 4 of those for just 46 yards and no scores. Since then LaFell has gotten 7 targets per game, had 3 games with 90+ receiving yards (2 of those passing the century mark), and 4 total touchdowns in that span. LaFell's production hinges almost totally on how great Brady plays, and with how Tommy has played of late and how he plays statistically down the stretch, only good things will be in store for LaFell as the season progresses.
Kelvin Benjamin Carolina Panthers vs New Orleans Saints (Thursday Night): Since 2004 only 2 rookie wide receivers have finished in the top 15 come the end of the season in fantasy points. Marques Colston in 2006, and A.J. Green in 2011. Kelvin Benjamin is on pace to be the 3rd to accomplish the feat in the last decade. Benjamin has just 3 games of single-digit points through 8 games, with one of those games resulting in 9 points for him. His 5 touchdowns are 4th most in the NFL at the receiver position, and his 68 targets land him in the top 10 in that category as well. Of all the talent at wide receiver that came into the NFL this year, Benjamin was definitely not the first, or second, or maybe even third thought for most fantasy players in their drafts this year. Big mistake apparently. Now Kelvin gets the pleasure of facing the New Orleans Saints for the first time in his career on Thursday night. The Saints are 1 of 4 teams allowing 28+ points to wide receivers each week. They’ve given up the 2nd most touchdowns this year (10), 6th most yards (1,417), and 6th most receptions (104) in 2014. Benjamin should have another big game in store for us under the prime time lights in Charlotte.
Larry Fitzgerald Arizona Cardinals @ Dallas Cowboys: Fitzgerald put on a clinic last week against Philadelphia, am I right? I am right, and I am also right to say this: keep Fitz out of your line-ups this weekend. Anytime a player, especially a superstar player, posts a massive fantasy game it's like pulling your own teeth to sit him, but you're going to want to this weekend. Some quick facts about Fitzgerald and his weekend visit to Dallas: Since 2010, Fitzgerald has had 13 games of 100+ receiving yards, not including last week against the Eagles. In the 13 games following his century performance, Fitz has failed to hit the 70 yards mark 11 of 13 times and has scored a touchdown in just 2 of those 13 games. Not good news for fantasy owners who are looking for Larry to have another big effort in week 9. Fitz has also taken on the Cowboys 5 times in his career, averaging just 5 yards per game and scoring just once total in those 5 contests. Those 55 yards/game is the 3rd worst against any teams he's faced at least 5 times (47/game vs the Lions, and 53/game against the Falcons). Michael Floyd is the other reason it's going to be even harder for Fitz to put up a second straight fantasy relevant week. Floyd had 0 catches this last week! 0! Now you better believe that Carson Palmer is going to look at Michael early and often this week to keep him involved in the offense. He is still the number 1 wide receiver in Arizona and I fully expect Palmer and the Cardinal's coaches to get Floyd back in a big way this week. Send Larry a fruit basket for helping you win last week, but let him stay put on the bench this week and ship that fruity goodness my way!
Wes Welker Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots: Normally a revenge game is a good thing for the player who was dumped by his former team, but this is one I am avoiding. First of all Welker has already faced his former team from New England twice last season. In those two games Welker combined for 8 catches and 69 yards without a score. Welker was brought into Denver last year to be the possession receiver for Peyton Manning and it worked out well in the beginning. In his first 6 games with the Broncos, Welker recorded 8 touchdowns with at least 1 in each of those 6 games while averaging 6 catches for 63 yards. Since week 6 of 2013 Welker has just 3 total touchdowns in 12 games with just 4 passes caught per game resulting in 48 yards. His play has certainly gone downhill after numerous concussions, and the arrival and emergence of Emmanuel Sanders isn't helping Welker get more work in either. Going into Foxboro against the team that knows you best, who are ranked as the 3rd best team against wide outs (allowing just 16 points/game), doesn't add up for a productive day for Welker.
Allen Robinson Jacksonville Jaguars @ Cincinnati Bengals: We are definitely smitten with A-Rob here at the champs and for good reason. He seems to be the go-to-guy for Blake Bortles and building an early chemistry between rookie quarterback and receiver can only mean positive things for the future, this season and beyond. However, this weekend Robinson should be on your bench. Going up against the best team at stopping wide outs in the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals lead the league in yards given up to wide receivers (just 956 through 7 games), touchdowns (only 3; that’s less than 1 every other game!), and fantasy points (just 16.2 per game to all wide outs on the team, and with 3 per team usually that’s just 5 points per player). Here is the list of receivers that have scored on Cincy this season: Steve Smith (totally rejuvenated and playing at an extremely high level), Julio Jones (stud), and Kelvin Benjamin (best rookie wide out we’ve seen since A.J. Green). Outside of those 3 men just 1 other receiver has had 7 catches or 100+ yards (when T.Y. Hilton snagged 7 for 107 a few weeks ago). We also have to factor in that the Bengals D will be without Vontaze Burfict at the linebacker position. That mean the Jags will more-than-likely feed Denard Robinson the ball more and try to keep control of the clock while letting D-Rob try to get to his 3rd straight 100 yard rushing game in as many tries. I do love me some Allen Robinson this year, just not this week.
Jimmy Graham New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers (Thursday Night)
Julius Thomas Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots
Rob Gronkowski New England Patriots vs Denver Broncos
Jason Witten Dallas Cowboys vs Arizona Cardinals: Witten started off this season extremely slow, and still hasn't become the Jason Witten we are used to the past 10 seasons. He is currently the 14th best tight end in fantasy football, and should be higher no thanks to Galvin Escobar and his 3 vultured touchdowns the past 2 weeks. Tony Romo went down hard on Monday night and that usually would seem to slow down Witten, but when Brandon Weeden came in for Romo, he hit Witten for his only touchdown pass of the game. This Dallas offense is good, real good, and DeMarco Murray is getting the most love, but if (and probably when) he goes down, Witten's value (among others like Bryant and Williams) goes up a lot. This weekend the Cowboys face the Cardinals. Both of these teams are in the bottom half against tight ends, and even though the Cards (13th) are far above the Cowboys (3rd) against the tight end, give me Jason Witten over John Carlson any day.
Clay Harbor Jacksonville Jaguars @ Cincinnati Bengals: Even with 6 teams on a bye this week, the tight end position isn't effected like every other fantasy position this weekend. Odds are just 1 owner in your league needs a replacement, and Clay Harbor could be the guy to help get you a win this weekend. The Bengals are 1 of 3 teams allowing 12+ points weekly to tight ends, and Harbor is one for Bortles first looks still. Allen Robinson may have become the favorite, but Harbor is definitely the second look in the Jags passing game. The recent surge by running back Denard Robinson is also a plus for the Jags passing game since they haven't had a viable running back threat since Maurice Jones-Drew 4 years ago. Harbor is outscoring guys like Charles Clay, Jermaine Gresham, and Vernon Davis this season. Harbor scored just 2 points last week, and the last time he scored just 2 points in a game this season he followed it up with a 91-yard performance with a touchdown. Bengals are bad against the tight end, and the Jags offense is slowly coming together with Harbor getting plenty of looks (at least 4 in each game he's played since taking over for Mercades Lewis). That's a recipe for a good week out of the Jaguars tight end.
Mychal Rivera Oakland Raiders @ Seattle Seahawks: Rookie quarterbacks tend to have a great hook-up with a tight end or slot-type receiver when they get thrown into the fire, and Derek Carr is no exception. Carr is looking better than most rookie signal callers overall already, but he has found a solid connection with tight end Mychal Rivera. Rivera came into his own in his rookie season last year as the season went on. He had 3 touchdowns in the final 7 games in 2013, and averaged just under 5 targets per game in the back half of 2013. This year he's getting 5 targets per game and over the last 2 weeks he's averaged 51 yards per contest. Now he gets the lowly Seahawks defense. Seattle isn't looking like Seattle of 2013, and their ability to stop a tight end is not there. Only 6 teams are allowing double-digit points weekly to tight ends, Seattle is giving up 11. The Seahawks have also given up 8 touchdowns to tight ends (2nd most in the NFL), and when so many team's second tight ends are getting in the end zone (Bronco's Jacob Tamme, the Ram's Lance Kendricks, and Cowboy's Gavin Escobar) you have to feel really good about an emerging tight end 1 making a trip to pay dirt.
Charles Clay Miami Dolphins vs San Diego Chargers: Clay has been a boom-or-bust type player all season (seems to be mostly bust thus far), and I can’t imagine that changing this week, or anytime this season honestly. Through his first 8 games in 2013 Clay had 3 games with double-digit fantasy points, 3 touchdowns, and no game with less than 3 fantasy points. Through week 8 in 2014 Clay has just 1 game with double-digit points, 1 touchdown, and has already failed to reach at least 3 fantasy points on 3 separate occasions. With 6 teams on a bye a lot of positions need to be filled. Thankfully the tight end position isn’t missing any major contributors other than Martellus Bennett. If you really need a tight end replacement this week, look at the 3 names above and choose from them and leave Clay alone.
Heath Miller Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens (Sunday Night): The Steelers and the Ravens. Almost always a defensive game even with a more offensive league and these two teams becoming more offensive, it always seems like a minimal number of points go up on the board. In their last 7 games against their AFC north rival, Pittsburgh has managed to average 15 points/game. Not a lot of fantasy love for Steelers players going around with that number on the big board. Miller has managed to find the end zone in just 2 of those 7 games, and now with studs like Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and the recent emergence of Martavius Bryant, Miller is buried on Big Ben’s looks. In 2014 Miller has just 2 games with double-digit fantasy points. Last week he scored 17 fantasy points, good right? Good for last week, bad sign for this week. Miller hasn’t posted back-to-back 10+ point games since weeks 7 & 8 of 2012, and earlier in the year he managed just 35 yards on 4 catches against the Ravens. Oh yeah, and Baltimore is 1 of 6 teams allowing under 6 points/game (5.5) to opposing tight ends.
Vernon Davis San Francisco 49ers vs St. Louis Rams: Did you see the stat about Davis in the Clay Harbor section? If not it's simple, Harbor is outscoring Davis this season. Yes a journeyman tight end 2 is averaging more points than a guy who scored 13 touchdowns last season. Yes there is the "well Michael Crabtree was out last year so Davis got more looks" argument, but Crabtree is back this season and Davis didn't just take a step back, he took damn near a whole flight of stairs back (and speaking of the Crabtree argument, he isn't playing like we all thought either so it's not like Mike is stealing points from Davis when he himself is only putting up a pathetic 6 point per contest as a teams WR1). Last season through his first games played Davis caught 6 touchdowns while averaging 80 yards per game and posting just under 15 fantasy points in each of those contests. In 2014 through his first 5, Davis has score just 2 touchdowns, hasn't seen more than 44 yards in a game, and posted more than 3 fantasy points in a game just once! And in his career versus the Rams, Davis averages 41 yards per game and scored a touchdown once every 3 games in 17 career contests. If you own Davis you better have a solid back up option handy, if not, it's going to be a rough rest of the season for you.