Whoa mama! Welcome to Bye Week Season, 2013 Edition. Over the next two weeks, 12 teams will be playing just one game. This alone will create anxiety for Fake Footballers everywhere, but compound these two bye weeks with our current breakout of injuries and you have the potential for mass hysteria. To recap, here is the situation….RBs who are MIA this week include:
• MIA due to bye: Ray Rice, Matt Forte, Arian Foster, Trent Richardson, Ryan Mathews, Chris Johnson and Danny Woodhead
• MIA due to injury: Doug Martin and DeMarco Murray
Those are nine heavy hitters, and the supply at the other positions is dangerously low as well. So in an effort to help with this problem, as we review some of this week’s matchups, let’s pay special attention to a few players who may help fatten up our thinned out rosters. When you are scraping the bottom of the barrel for a bye-week fill-in, a good matchup can be the deciding factor for whether you plug him in, or let someone else take the chance. One source of guidance when deciding between matchups, is the over/under. Vegas thinks the four games listed below will have the most scoring, which is the fuel for fantasy football. With that being said, let’s take a look at these juicy fantasy-rich Week 8 Matchups….
Washington @ Denver – 58.5 points
• Denver has the ability to make anyone fantasy relevant, particularly in the passing game. The Denver defense has allowed opposing QBs to throw for 330+ yards per game. Leonard Hankerson has been known to do some damage when games are out of hand (which will likely happen in this game). 214 of those passing yards that Denver allows are going to WRs. Another 81 of those yards (and six catches) go to opposing TEs. Jordan Reed had a strong game last week, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him repeat in this high-scoring fantasy feast. While passing yards are aplenty, Denver does not allow a lot of rushing yards to opposing RBs (just 56 yards per game). The main reason for that is teams abandon the run in an effort to catch up on the scoreboard. The nice thing about Roy Helu is that he plays in those passing situations, and as we saw last week against Chicago, is more than capable of running in a TD as well. Looking at snap counts provided by ProFootballFocus.com, it is clear that Helu is more than a backup as he and Alfred Morris have essentially split the snaps through seven weeks.
• Believe it or not, but the Washington defense has improved since its epic fail in the opening few weeks. After allowing an average of 500+ yards to opponsents in the first three weeks, Washington is allowing just over 300 per week over the last three weeks. I wouldn’t necessarily bench any Broncos because of that trend, but it’s worth noting going forward. Over the last two weeks, Washington has allowed five rushing TDs to opposing RBs. Ronnie Hillman is very likely in the doghouse for the foreseeable future after Sunday night’s game, which means we could see more of Montee Ball against Washington.
New York Giants @ Philadelphia – 53 points
• There is not a whole lot of fantasy goodness going on around the New York Giants. However, on Monday night, Peyton Hillis did provide considerable fantasy value by catching five balls and rushing for a TD. Philadelphia is just a decent matchup vs. RBs. They allow about 88 yards and just under one rushing TD to opposing RBs per week. But, in a week like this one, Hillis could be starting on many teams.
• Jason Avant is a deep play as well. Avant received 7 targets in his first meeting with New York this year and per ProFootballFocus.com, he has been playing on more than 80% of the team’s snaps. New York isn’t giving up a lot of yards to opposing WRs (149 yards per game), but opposing WRs are averaging 1.1 TDs per week. If you are scrounging for a defense, the Philadelphia Defense is averaging 2.1 sacks and 1.1 interceptions per game this year, and as we all know, the New York Giants are allowing more than that (2.6 and 2.3 to be exact). New York is on a short week and playing on the road. Don’t be surprised if things get ugly.
Dallas @ Detroit – 51 points
• Detroit is allowing nearly 200 yards per game to opposing WRs and 4.36 YPC to opposing RBs. Dallas has a few players who could take advantage of those stats. Terrance Williams is very likely gone in your league, but Cole Beasley may still be sitting on your waiver wire. If that’s the case, then snatch him, because not only is this a good matchup, but he also gets the toothless Minnesota Viking defense next week. Joseph Randle had a decent fantasy outing last week, but the Dallas RB situation is a bit messier with Lance Dunbar practicing and DeMarco Murray’s availability still unclear. Monitor the situation, because if Dunbar ends up as the starter, he would have fantasy value.
• The release of Tony Scheffler is a clear indication of what the coaching staff thinks of Joseph Fauria. His snaps have gone up each of the last three weeks and he is already second on the team for red zone targets. Consider that Dallas allows an average of 7 catches and 81 yards to opposing WRs and Fauria could be a sneaky start in this high scoring game.
Buffalo @ New Orleans – 49.5 points
• The status of CJ Spiller will likely be a mystery until we get closer to the weekend, but for now he isn’t practicing. Tashard Choice spelled Spiller in the last few weeks, and if Spiller were to miss this week’s game, he could be in line for a bit more work. Opponents of New Orleans are only running the ball 37% of the time, but opposing RBs are averaging a league high 4.65 YPC.
• New Orleans is coming out of their bye week, but they may not be all together healthy yet. If Jimmy Graham sits, those 9.5 targets per game have to go somewhere. One of Buffalo’s biggest weaknesses on defense is their inability to reign in opposing WRs. Buffalo allows the second most yards per game to opposing WRs (221 yards per game) and the second most TDs to opposing WRs per game (1.7 TDs per game). Lance Moore has been out of action since Week 3, but he and Kenny Stills could reclaim Graham’s lost production. Buffalo is also allowing over 100 yards per game to opposing RBs at 4.32 YPC, which means the rookie Khiry Robinson could be an interesting desperation play as well. He had a strong week before the bye and with Mark Ingram still not practicing; he could be in for some more work on the ground against Buffalo.
Below is data produced by the Matchup Machine. A quick reminder of how the Matchup Machine works: the higher the score, the better the matchup. Scores are calculated using data from the first seven weeks of 2013. The data only takes into account the strength of the opponent, not the strength of the player. For example, Eli Manning has highest QB score this week. That does not mean he is the best QB, it means he is playing Philadelphia who offers the best matchup for QBs. Philadelphia has allowed five opposing QBs to throw for 300+ passing yards while also allowing an average of 2 passing TDs per week. Take a look and good luck in Week 8!