I’ve been in mourning since the end of the NLCS and my Brewers got knocked out, but things are even worse with the Cardinals winning the Series in game 7. Seeing Tony La Russa scowl his way to a championship is about as bad as seeing Belichick do it. La Russa screams on the bullpen phone, trashes “Moneyball” because it didn’t go into the back story of his buddies, and can’t take any heckling. Just look at his pictures, I don’t see how that upbeat face could inspire any sarcastic hateful feelings from a rival’s fans…
Heckling is a part of the game, and in no other sport is trash talk more important than fantasy football. There’s even a show on FX about it. I’ll have to admit, I’m not as good taking the smack talk as I should, but after whiny-baby La Russa gets another championship, it sure is going to make me lighten up and take the jabs with a smile. It’s just more fun that way.
Looking at last week’s picks, it was a mediocrely good outing with Jackie Battle and Steve Breaston having mediocrely decent games (double-talk?), and Larry Fitzgerald having a mediocre game for Fitz’s standards, Philip Rivers playing awful and Beanie Wells not having a chance after an injury (got those all right Random Collmenter and “anecdotal evidence” VinzoGinzo!). However, I got a lot wrong as well with Doug Baldwin putting up a goose egg, Daniel Thomas doing nothing with 19 carries, and Matt Cassel reverting to absolute awfulness (though he didn’t need to do anything with KCs defense stifling Oakland – three cheers for anyone that started KCs defense!). Stupid Anquan Boldin didn’t have a catch in the first half but salvaged his night with 40 yards and a score on MNF and stupid Shonn Greene had his first 100-yard game out of nowhere against San Diego.
Here are some guys that I like for week 7 that most people aren’t starting and some guys to think about benching (along with their % start figures on ESPN & Yahoo, respectively). Remember, with bye weeks taking out a bunch of guys I’m not saying the benchers should ride the pine unconditionally! It’s more if you’re stacked and one of these guys may end up being your odd man out.
Antonio Brown (11.8%, 41%) For Sunday’s battle royale between the Patriots and Steelers, I think we’re going to see a lot of passing in a Big Ben vs. Tom Brady showdown. Mike Wallace is sure to get a lot of looks, but I also think Antonio Brown has a big game, coming off his first career 100-yard affair last week vs. Arizona. Brown is one of the best fill-ins out there, still available in 82% of ESPN leagues and 48% of Yahoo leagues, and going against the Pats secondary that has allowed the most points to opposing WRs this year. Give me Brown for at least 80 yards and a hopeful score.
Pierre Thomas (38.7%, 48%) With Mark Ingram out and going against one of the league’s worst defenses, Pierre Thomas is a no-brainer this week. The Saints are still working on balancing their attack, and we all saw what DeMarco Murray did against the Rams last week. Sproles will obviously also be in the mix, but I still think Thomas gets 20+ touches against the horrible Rams. He’s still available in a lot of leagues, so if the byes are wreaking havoc on your line-up, Thomas is a great play.
Jabar Gaffney (29.8%, 30%) Santana Moss broke his hand in the loss to my Panthers last Sunday, opening a huge opportunity to be John Beck’s possession receiver. Gaffney put up 68 yards last week, and even with the horrible Rex Grossman starting the year, Gaffney hasn’t had a game under 50 yards yet. That kind of consistency seems to be lost on the vet, who now becomes the primary receiving option along with Fred Davis. Buffalo’s secondary isn’t good by any means, so I like Gaff to have the last laugh.
Jackie Battle (29.5%, 35%) I’m going with Battle again this week, who after doing not much of anything in the first half against Oakland, got a lot of work in the second half and should have convinced the Chiefs coaching staff he’s their best runner by a long shot. Of course the Chiefs claimed he would get most of the work last week and it didn’t really happen, but I think he has a bigger game with a further majority of the carries on Monday night against the Bolts. Battle is a big dude at 6-2, 238, and we all saw what a big runner could do against San Diego in Shonn Greene last Sunday. I think the Chiefs are going to want to keep the Chargers offense off the field and give Battle a few more redzone looks (Le’Ron McClain – yes, still playing – vultured a goalline TD along with Javier Arenas – yes, a DB). I could easily see Battle notching his second 100-yard game and getting a score this time out.
Demaryius Thomas (8.3%, 9%) I’m going to shock every football fan everywhere and exclaim Tim Tebow isn’t a great passer! I’m of course kidding. But I think Denver gets shellacked going into Ford Field against the Lions, and there’s going to be a ton of garbage time passes against the prevent. Who is Tebow’s favorite target? Easily Thomas, who got 10 targets last week, even though only catching 3. John Fox has already shown he has no faith in Knowshon Moreno, and with “whatcha talkin’ about” Willis out with a broken hand, I think we’re going to see a pass-friendly game when Tebow isn’t scrambling. I like Thomas for maybe 70 yards and a score.
Son of a Bench
Maurice Jones-Drew (97.7%, 93%) I got burned earlier in the year saying to bench MJD, but I’m feeling pretty confident he has a slow game this time out on Sunday. Houston is actually pretty stout against the run, giving up the 5th fewest fantasy points to RBs, and I think the Jags will be a little shell-shocked coming off one of the most improbable wins this year beating the Ravens. I see the Texans and Arian Foster attacking hard out of the gate, limiting Jacksonville’s dependence on the run. Listen, I know if you have MJD, there’s very few situations where you’d bench him. But if you’re stacked and have two other solid RBs, MJD is the guy to sit.
Steven Jackson (81.8%, 79%) The same disclaimer goes for Jackon, who I also see having a slow game on Sunday. The Rams are god-awful, and AJ Feeley is getting the start yet again. Ugh. The Rams are going to see more 8 in the box than Lindsay Lohan. Ey-O! While Jackson does get a lot of work in the passing game as well, I think all defense schemes will go to limiting him. Like, MJD, if you have some comparable options, go with them.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (66.4%, 48%) The lawfirm is questionable, but barring some sort of setback, he’s definitely going to be out there. But for you fantasy team, I think you leave him on the bench. I know Beanie Wells got hurt and the Cardinals don’t have much for backups, but Pittsburgh absolutely stuffed their run game and I think the Steelers run-D is back on track. As mentioned above, I think this game is going to be pass pass pass, with a ton of work for Brady and the passing game. BJGE is a sit for me.
Jeremy Maclin (74.3%, 73%) Maclin hasn’t done much of anything against the Cowboys in the regular season in his career, and I just have a gut feeling he has a slow game again on Sunday Night. Dallas is going to do everything they can to blitz Vick and run blitz McCoy insofar that I see DeSean Jackson getting the deep looks (no, duh!) and Maclin contained to more possession routes. Again, it’s more a gut feeling than anything else, but if you have a handful of good receivers, I could easily see Maclin being the odd guy out.
Miles Austin (89%, 92%) While his talent is sure hard to bench, Austin is still easing his way back and had a very slow game watching DeMarco Murray gash the Rams last week. The Eagles run D is equally suspect, and while it’s hard to put too much stock into Murray’s breakout game, one would suspect Dallas would go to the run early and often throughout Sunday Night’s showdown. I think the Eagles secondary is slowly showing they’re improving and Austin is shut down.
If you have any last second decisions, shoot me some comments, or tweet me @jbgilpin. If you’re of the legal drinking age (have to say that due to our legal dept.), keep playing the Twitter “Gruden ‘that guy’ drinking game” (#GrudenThatGuyDrinkingGame) for the ultimate party game that’s primed to sweep the nation. Good luck to everyone in week 8!