Gavin recaps his key insights & observations from around the NFL for fantasy football week 8, to help you set your week 9 lineups & waiver wire targets.
In honour of the social media platform that is sweeping the nation, Tinder, I’ll briefly share my Swipe Rights (“Yes, I’d like to see you again” Stars), my Swipe Lefts (“Nope, you have yourself a nice day” Duds) and my Tinderella (“Love at first sight, please never leave me!” Fantasy All-Star).
Swipe Right – Stars & Studs
Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals
I’ll admit early on in the season I was hesitant to commit to a running back without much of a successful history on a football team that has struggled offensively over the past couple of years. Today, I’ve decided to tell myself to shut the heck up. Ellington, as the primary back against the Eagles, ran 23 times for 71 yards and a touchdown. I realize this isn’t an eye-popping, win your weekly matchup for you kind of day, but there is one significant stat to mention: HE WAS THE ONLY RUNNING BACK TO GET CARRIES FOR THE CARDINALS.
That is not normal, but it is great for you if you have him. He’s the primary (and then some) running back, which means his carries won’t get vultured and neither will his touchdowns. He plays for a defense-first team, as evidenced by coach Bruce Arian’s decision to forgo a 53-yard field goal attempt (chump change in today’s NFL) for a punt in an effort to pin the Eagles in their own end. This style bodes well for Ellington owners, as Arians will rely heavily on keeping the ball on the ground, controlling the clock and reducing the likelihood of turnovers.
The Cardinals face Dallas next week which allows a middling 113.4 yard per game on the ground. Look for Ellington to continue to gobble up yards and a touchdown for the Cards in what will likely be a great game.[alert type=”info” close=”false” heading=”Have you bookmarked Moxyball yet?”] Make sure you bookmark Moxyball and check back daily for our expert fantasy advice and DFS picks. Sign up to receive all new posts by email at the top of the article – absolutely FREE! [/alert]
Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions
If you watched this game – and you may have decided to sleep in and miss the 9:30AM EST kick off, you may wonder what the heck is wrong with the Lions’ offense. Matt Stafford goes from dud to stud depending on the drive. His inconsistency is what has prevented Detroit from becoming a consistent playoff contender. You know who has been consistent? That’s right, our favourite potato chip flavour, Golden Tate.
Tate had yet another eye-popping fantasy day as the primary receiver for the lions, catching 7 balls for 151 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, Tate was targeted 15 times against a shoddy Falcons defense. Now Tate won’t be able to rack up so many yards week in and week out as the perpetually porous Falcons secondary allowed Tate to run around like a lunatic. The targets, however, are an incredible number if Tate has been a surprising WR2 on your squad.
The drawback is that Calvin Johnson seems to be returning any week now (hasn’t that been said for a while?) and his targets will diminish greatly. However, Megatron’s return will remove the defensive back focus off of Tate, though that hasn’t seemed to stop him anyway. If CJ returns, watch Tate’s targets shrivel up some, but the strong performances should continue. He could be a sell high candidate right now, but you could also ride him for a few more weeks, as well.
Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Wait a second. How does a WR who had one catch for 13 yard make your “fantasy stars”? Well, let’s stop and think for a minute. Jackson owners, meet Blair Walsh, the boom-legged kicker for the Minnesota Vikings. Walsh, by tying up the game in the closing seconds against the Buccaneers today, may have hammered home the final nail in the Bucs rebuild for the 2014 season.
As a result, the trade rumours for Jackson will surely swirl this week. More importantly, do you know who really needs a receiver? Seattle, New England or even the Eagles. Can you imagine the damage Jackson may cause if he’s got a QB like Brady or Wilson, or the high-speed system of the Eagles no-huddle, let’s make defensive lineman barf from exhaustion offense? If you’re feeling frisky – I mean risky – see if you can steal away Jackson before the trade rumours turn into trade realities. He could be a HUGE second half stud.
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Swipe Left – Duds
Offensive Line, Atlanta Falcons
I drafted the LT of the Falcons 3rd overall…no, just kidding. But anyone with half of a football brain knows that no offense succeeds with a crappy offensive line. Well, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White, your numbers will ebb and flow as long as Mike Tice’s offensive line continues to struggle. Watching Ryan today in the second half, any five or seven-step drop resulted in Ryan being chased around like that mouse thing at a dog track.
Even with Nick Fairley’s injury, the Lions stout defense (ya, I guess we can say that now) put too much pressure on Ryan to make any real completions down the stretch. Moving forward, Ryan, Jones and White owners need to be wary of the matchup the Falcons face. If the Falcons face a strong defensive line, such as the Panthers or Browns, you may see a drop in the Falcons’ skill players’ performances.
Geno Smith, QB, New York Jets
Those great Tom Brady-like stories of QBs who drop in the draft then lead their teams to Super Bowls… those are definitely the exception, not the rule. Geno Smith’s second round fall in last year’s draft seems to be a strong indicator of his ability to run an offense. Smith didn’t even make it through the first quarter before being yanked by Rex Ryan for Michael Vick. Not that Vick is much better, but Smith seems to be done for the next little while. My advice? Anyone worth anything on the Jets (Chris Ivory, Eric Decker, even Jace Amaro or Jeremy Kerley) is now worth garbage. Of course, Percy Harvin will be the dynamic flex-talent that Ryan needs to turn around his offense…no, I’m just kidding. But he will get targets and rushing attempts, so you can hold on to him. Everyone else, swipe left.
Tinderalla – The Belle of the Ball (aka Super-Stud Spectacular | The 10 out of 10)
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
Chuck Norris isn’t afraid of the dark. The dark is afraid of him…and Rob Gronkowski. It scares me to think what Gronk could have done the last two years if he had remained healthy. A pissed off Bill Belichick let Brady and Gronk rub dirt in Jay Cutler’s face. Gronk had 9 catches for 149 yards and 3 touchdowns. Gronk’s third and final TD reception, literally throwing off defenders as he rumbled his way to the end zone, was a thing of beauty.
Gronk has quickly risen to the games best tight end (Jimmy Graham, you can have your WR money. You don’t deserve to be in the same league as Gronk). Gronk – and Brady – owners must surely be enjoying the ride that Prick Belichick is leading his Patriots on.
WhatsApp for MNF?
With Brian Orakpo out and the Boyz offensive line continuing to click, Tony Romo should have plenty of time to pass the football. Look for Dez Bryant to continue his torrid pace and possibly even Jason Witten to rack up a TD or two. With Colt McCoy likely getting the start, this should be an easy game for the Cowboys, meaning they’ll rely heavily on the run game in the second half. DeMarco Murray, and even Joseph Randle, should have a field day on the ground tomorrow.
Gavin Southbourne is the newest member of the Moxyball family. He’s a devoted NFL and Fantasy Football fan who loves statistics and analysis almost as much as he loves In N Out animal-style double cheeseburgers.
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