Matthew Stafford’s week eight nearly sunk my battle ship. I had him ranked barely inside my top-20 and thought he was in for a face-plant against a stingy Seahawks defense. Instead, he made me look like an incompetent fool. If you want a movie comparison, it was like I was Batman Forever, and everyone else was The Dark Knight.
But I’ve come to realize these things happen. As I’m sure you have; and if you haven’t, you possibly will very soon.
The fact of the matter is, this is one of the craziest NFL/fantasy football seasons I’ve ever tracked closely. I can’t fully get my head around it. Whether it’s Brian Hartline at one time leading the league in receiving yardage, the Arizona Cardinals starting the season 4-0, or Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings and Steve Smith all very much in their own way being arguably fantasy busts.
However, despite my straight jacket wrapping me in real snug-like, I’m vowing to stay in the real world and rely on logic. I know Stafford defied my musings last week, but I still think in a chaotic field like fantasy sports, nothing is as reliable as your gut. Unless it leads to years and years of one and done’s in the playoffs. Then you may want to change your strategy. Or at least follow someone else’s gut.
And with that, I’m over Stafford duping me and it’s on to week nine:
Injury Tear Factory
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins
Tannehill has a 50/50 chance to play this week, but you have a sorry team if you’re relying on him in week nine. Word on the street suggests he’ll be very shaky if he even plays (as in the Fins could pull him early), so I’d use someone else.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings (Ankle)
All Day is in no danger of missing time and really only rested a day this week because he kind of deserves it. He’s been beasting out the past couple of weeks, so use him as you normally would.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants (Foot)
Bradshaw is on the injury report every week, but continues to play like a regular starter. There’s nothing to see here, kids. Be on your way.
Darren Sproles, RB, New Orleans Saints (Hand)
Holy Cow, Batman! Sproles busted his hand up and could miss multiple weeks. What we know for sure is the injury is fresh and he won’t play on MNF this week. That means Pierre Thomas is suddenly a solid RB2 play, kiddies.
Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (Quad)
Dwyer won’t get a crack at his third straight 100+ rushing game, I don’t think. He missed practice on Friday and doesn’t look like he’ll be able to go. Isaac Redman is his likely replacement with Mendy also still on the mend (see what I just did there?).
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (Achilles)
Mendy is doubtful again and the Steelers are really just playing it safe. I’d keep him stashed if you can, as Pittsburgh will unleash him again when he’s 100%.
Donald Brown, RB, Indianapolis Colts (Knee)
Brown is a bit nicked up after returning last week, but should be fine for week nine. He’s still in a time share with Vick Ballard, though, so there is quite a cap on his fantasy potential this week.
Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans (Hamstring)
Tate has already been ruled out for week 9, so you can forget about him erupting as a sneaky play against a horrenous Bills run D. Arian Foster will feast, instead, while Justin Forsett might carry borderline Flex value if the stars align.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions (Knee)
Megatron has missed three straight practices, but I’m not the least bit worried. Detroit is just letting it’s best Transformer rest before he comes out and has his best game of the year against Jacksonville this week. This is my hope, anyways.
Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers (Hamstring)
Nelson is in danger of missing a second straight game with a tight hammy. I didn’t think he’d sit out last week, but clearly the injury isn’t of the casual sort. Keep an eye on him if you need him, as he’s coming down as a game-time call again this week. If he sits again, Donald Driver could provide sneaky value for the second week in a row.
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys (Hip)
Bryant has a sore hip, but you shouldn’t care. This dude is almost a top-five receiver over the past few weeks, and even the Falcons’ tough corners won’t stop him.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins (Foot)
Garcon is out until the sky falls, apparently. I’d still hang onto him, but we are definitely are closing in on cutting him out-right.
Brian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins (Groin/Hamstring)
Hartline actually has a chance to get back to his out of this world ways against the Colts this week, but he’s far from 100% and Tannehill is iffy, too. Even if he plays, he’s barely a WR3 this week.
Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints (Ankle)
Graham looked good last week and should be even better this week. His ankle should no longer be an issue.
Jermichael Finley, TE, Green Bay Packers (Shoulder)
Finley is still not 100% due to a nagging shoulder injury and his snaps are way down. He could get back in the mix at anytime (especially if Nelson is out), but it’s beyond clear that he’s not reliable right now.
James Starks is a Bastard Man
Just like Dennis stole The Waitress from Charlie in It’s Always Sunny…, Starks is primed to swoop in and steal carries away from touch fiend, Alex Green. I know you thought you were done hearing about Starks and his never-ending string of sleeper nominations, but he’s still alive and well, after all. He doesn’t hold much value yet, but the fact that the folks in Green Bay are mentioning him means you can’t trust Green like usual anymore.
It’s Darren’s Fault: Mark Ingram vs. Chris Ivory
As stated above, Pierre Thomas is now awesome. Potentially. Ingram and Ivory, not so much, but there is still potential there. However, Ingram isn’t as versatile as Thomas or Ivory, so there’s a realistic chance he’s suddenly bottoms on the depth chart. I’d stay away from both guys until we find out more about how long Sproles is out and how effective Thomas is in his new role.
Making Sense of Miami’s Receivers Sans Hartline
Oh, Brian Hartline, how we love and hate thee. Mostly hate, though, considering you haven’t put up 12 receptions and 200+ yards in far too long. Also, because you may not play this week. But if Hart-throb does miss week 9, who do you use in Miami? Answer numer undo: no one. Second guess: Davone Bess. I won’t trust anyone else.
Matchup Freight Train
Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I love Freeman and think he’ll carve up the Raiders, but Vick has a higher ceiling this week. The Saints are awful on defense and Vick’s back is against the wall. Look for him to have his best game of the year. Roll with Vick.
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders vs. Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
McFadden has now produced two solid outings this year. Some call it promise. I call it flukey. His o-line is awful and he just isn’t running well. He faces an often tough Buccaneers run D this week, too, which scares the heck out of me. Forte, on the other hand, looks better by the week and gets a bad Titans defense this week. Both have immense potential, but I much prefer Forte this week.
Titus Young, WR, Detroit Lions vs. Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns
I like both guys this week, but I can’t see Young going nuts two weeks in a row, while Gordon could have a big day against a bad and depleted Ravens defense. Both guys are quality starts, but Gordon has been doing it for longer. I’ll take Flash (Gordon).
Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens vs. Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers
Pitta hasn’t done jack since week three and Olsen is inconsistent as heck. Both have decent matchups this week, but I’m thinking the Redskins offer more potential here. Olsen wins by a hair this week.
That does it for our last second decisions heading into week nine. Need more help? Comment below or hit me up on Twitter @NFLSoupKevin.