It’s pretty hard to believe that we’re halfway through the 2012 NFL season. I know there’s 17 weeks, but with most leagues wrapping up their championships in week 16, it’s a good mid-point marker.
When you’re halfway through and have a middling or losing fantasy team, it’s easy to feel like you’re already out of it. But just think about how much time is left. Halfway through Titanic they hadn’t even hit the iceberg. Halfway through the Republican Nomination Race, Herman Cain was leading polls. Point is – there’s still a lot of time.
My first year playing fantasy football (10 years ago!), I was 2-4, but stuck with it and hit a 7-game winning streak. I was hooked ever since, and it’s what got me into writing and part of Razzball Nation. Keep hope alive!
Looking at last week’s picks, Ryan Fitzpatrick showed he’s a great fantasy QB when he’s not facing NFC West defenses, and Josh Freeman went bonkers against the Saints last Sunday. Brandon Gibson and Felix Jones both had decent games and were usable, so I call it four-for-five. My only miss was Kendall Wright, who even in a blowout only had three catches for 19 yards.
For my benchers, Matthew Stafford was terrible yet again, and Fred Davis didn’t have a big game, but I won’t call that a win with his unfortunate injury. I wish him a speedy recovery. I was wrong on Steve Smith (CAR), Vick Ballard and Shonn Greene, who all had usable games, with Greene the only scorer and only bench call who had a big game. Not a bad week.
Here’s five guys not started in enough leagues and five guys started in too many leagues that should be benched, along with their % started in ESPN leagues and Yahoo leagues, respectively. And remember, these picks are not always suggestions for direct 1-for-1 swaps if you own players in both sections, but merely picks for guys not started enough and started too often.
Chris Givens, WR, St. Louis (1.1%, 6%) As I mentioned on the Razzball Fantasy Football Podcast as my up pick for the Rams/Patriots game in London today, I really like Chris Givens to have a big game in Wembley Stadium. The Patriots secondary is notorious for giving up big plays in the air, just ask Russell Wilson, and I think will have trouble limiting both Givens and Gibson. However, I think the Patriots scheme a bit more on Gibson, giving Givens some 1-on-1 situations deep. Here’s an interesting stat – Givens has 50+ yards in his last four games. Receivers who haven’t done that – A.J. Green, Calvin Johnson, Percy Harvin, amongst many others. I like Givens as a big upside bye week fill-in.
Brandon Weeden, QB, Cleveland (7.5%, 10%) After such an abysmal NFL debut, Weeden has suddenly become a model of consistency. With 230+ yards and 2 touchdowns in his last three games, Weeden is becoming a reliable bye week fill-in and solid QB2 in 2-quarterback formats. This week he gets the Chargers who are 25th against opposing fantasy QBs, and with Trent Richardson a big question mark, the Browns are going to have to throw. I really like the emergence of Josh Gordon as a deep threat as the Browns are finally stretching defenses (sorry Jake Delhomme and Colt McCoy). I think it can be four straight weeks of 230+ yards and 2 TDs.
Alex Green, RB, Green Bay (49.6%, 27%) Since taking over as the lead back, Green hasn’t been overly impressive, but there is one stat that is extremely encouraging: 20+ carries in both starts. Yeah his YPC of 3.0 and 1.8 in those games are disconcerting, but they were at Houston and at St. Louis, two pretty tough matchups. This week? At home against the Jaguars, who give up the third most fantasy points to opposing RBs even with already having their bye. The Jags, without MJD and an ailing Blaine Gabbert, are going to have a horrific time moving the ball on offense, giving up a lot of punts and possessions to the Pack attack. Green is going to get a ton of work and finally have some running lanes. Start with confidence.
Robert Meachem, WR, San Diego (10.4%, 10%) I incorrectly went with Meachem in the Chargers last game two weeks ago, but I’m sticking with him again for this Sunday. The Chargers coming off a bye are going to look to revamp their offense at the Browns, and with Joe Haden blanketing Malcolm Floyd, I think Meachem is going to get a lot of looks. The Browns give up the 2nd-most points to opposing WRs, and Meachem will get some deep looks. I like him as a very high-upside play this week.
Brandon Stokley, WR, Denver (4.1%, 12%) In what should be a great game on Sunday Night (why such a good game during The Walking Dead? Why???), I like Brandon Stokley to see a lot of work out of the slot in a Wild West shootout against the Saints. Stokley has quietly gotten a TD in three of the past four weeks, and I like him to make it four of five. A little less upside than Givens or Meachem, but a safer fill-in play if you need a WR or Flex.
Son of a Bench
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina (54.7%, 54%) I was wrong calling Cam a bench three weeks ago at Atlanta, but I have even less optimism with Cam going to Chicago. This is going to be a brutal game. I think this bout stays pretty low scoring, with the Bears blanketing Steve Smith and keeping a consistent QB spy to keep Cam from running. I don’t know if I have the balls to play Weeden over him, but I’m right on the edge of doing so for my Random Commenter League. Brutal year for my Panthers.
Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta (81.8%, 65%) After the highly publicized firing of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, I think the Eagles D plays hungry and wins the line of scrimmage with the Falcons coming to town. Turner has been a little more valuable than I think drafters thought, but is coming off a rough game against the Raiders who hadn’t stuffed the run with much success to that point. I think this could be another disappointing game for Turner owners.
Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland (69.8%, 75%) I guess the 1:00 start time has got Richardson owners happy to leave him in their line-up unless he’s ruled out, but I’m very surprised how many owners are sticking with him at this point. The rib injury reared its head last week limiting Richardson to both his lowest touches and lowest scoring game of the year, and even if he’s active, I’m not trusting him to be the top RB option as it is. The Chargers have been decent against the run, and after their terrible start, I expect them to play strong on the line of scrimmage. You definitely need to monitor his status until kickoff, but even if active, I’m not starting with confidence.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants (81.0%, 86%) This is the call that is making me the most nervous, but I have a feeling Nicks has a rough game here. The Cowboys are a completely different secondary than in years’ past when Nicks burnt them, and even when Nicks was healthy(er) in week 1, the Cowboys limited the star wideout to 38 yards. Since he’s been back he hasn’t had the big games owners were hoping for, and I think that continues this week as well. If you’re stuck between Nicks and some other options, I would go with them.
Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco (92.9%, 87%) I was shocked to see Davis’ percent start figures, especially when you factor in he’s the second most started fantasy TE this week. Sure he started strong with touchdowns in the first three weeks, but since then he’s failed to go over 37 yards in three of the last four, including last week’s game against the Seahawks without logging a single catch. He’s got another tough NFC West divisional matchup at the Cardinals on Monday Night, who give up the second least points to TEs in the NFL. I would look elsewhere.
If you have any last second decisions, shoot some comments below or tweet me @jbgilpin. Good luck to everyone today in week 8!