This article was delayed a week because I ventured into the craziness of the Austin City Limits music festival last weekend. While most of the 70,000 people there were screaming for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I was screaming for Jordy Nelson as he single-handedly won me my matchup in a Razzball Commenter League. I saw many interesting jerseys over the weekend, including multiple Vince Young Titans jerseys (none on the Bills unfortunately), a Plaxico Steelers jersey, and a Kenyon Martin Nets jersey (which made me and that guy the only two people at the festival representing the Garden State’s lost franchise). Luckily for me, there were TVs in some of the shelter tents, and that allowed me to watch some football between the Lumineers and the Avett Brothers, but I was in no position to give out the fantasy advice you rely on.
Fast forward one week, and I’m back on my game. Here are your Week 8 pickups in non-standard leagues:
PPR Leagues – Brandon Gibson
When Danny Amendola went down with an injury, I was ready to avoid the entire Rams offense from a fantasy perspective. But over the last two games, Gibson has stepped in and filled his role nicely. Their target and catch rates are nearly identical and Gibson’s size makes him more of a deep threat than Amendola, who lives in the slot. I’m still not a fan of the Rams’ skill players in general, and their remaining schedule includes a bunch of tough defenses, but you can add Gibson to the list of things I do like along with Jeff Fisher’s mustache and Greg the Leg.
Two QB Leagues – Chad Henne
JK! LOL! 3.55 YPA!
Dynasty/Keeper Leagues – Johnny White
White was on dynasty owners’ radars a year ago as a possible change of pace back in Buffalo. Instead, both Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller had breakout half-seasons, and White was relegated to the practice squad. With Green Bay picking him up last week, White is now relevant once again. Granted, the Packers haven’t shown an ability to run the ball consistently since Ryan Grant was still alive, but that also means more players get a shot at carries each week. Since Benson went down, they have tried running Alex Green and James Starks to no avail. Other than John Kuhn for short yardage, the entire RB situation is a mess, so it would be irresponsible of McCarthy and Co. not to give White a shot. If you do the same, you could be rewarded with a cheap pickup of the starting RB on a high-powered offense.
TD-Only Leagues – Jamie Harper
Lost in the resurrection of Chris Johnson’s fantasy production was the fact that Harper was used as the goalline back against the Bills, just as he was the week before against Pittsburgh. For the record, I don’t think CJ is ever going to be “back” in the way most of his owners are hoping, but he should have another nice game against the Colts next week. While Johnson’s value will fluctuate wildly based on the matchup, if Harper can truly take on goalline duties, then he will be a much more consistent fantasy play in TD-Only leagues. And if the Titans start to act like fantasy owners everywhere and bench CJ, then Harper certainly can’t be any worse as an every-down back.
IDP Leagues – Dannell Ellerbe
The loss of Ray Lewis (and Ladarius Webb) from the Ravens’ defense clearly is a game changer for fantasy football, as you no longer have to worry about sitting your borderline starters against Baltimore. It also opened the door for Ellerbe to get some legitimate playing time for the first time in his 4-year career. We may not know much about Ellerbe’s favorite color, animal, bed-time, or his thoughts on hash browns vs. home fries, but we will learn a lot about his ability to lead a defense in the coming weeks. A debut line of 9 solo tackles and 3 assists is a good start, and he’s worth a roster spot in most IDP formats.
Return Yardage Leagues – William Powell
Not to be confused with Bilal Powell, which I assume is a nickname for William. I have a hard time recommending anyone who relies on the Arizona O-Line, but Powell presents an opportunity in return yardage leagues. After LaRod Stephens-Howling’s big day on Sunday, there’s a good chance that Powell will be dropped this week, if he was owned at all in the first place. I think Sunday was an aberration and Powell is still the better back in Arizona, for whatever that’s worth, but he also handles the kick return duties, which gives him even more value. The schedule isn’t kind to the Cardinals in the upcoming weeks, but Powell is still worth a roster spot if he’s available.