WHAT WE LEARNED SUNDAY (WEEK 8)

ARIZONA CARDINALS @ BALTIMORE RAVENS:

Beanie Wells is the real deal this year, reaching his potential and proving the fragile label wrong after a 83 yard 1 touchdown performance. So far he and Larry Fitzgerald have been the only two trustworthy producers on this team. Wells should be considered an elite back by owners due to his sole role as ball carrier and production.

Ray Rice was a thorn in my side this week as I am sure he was for all that went up against him as well. Rice scored 3 touchdowns despite posting only 99 total yards. Ricky Williams isn’t even an option for this team and holds value only as the handcuff. Anquan Boldinposted 145 yards on 12 targets and looks to be the only WR you want from this team. Joe Flacco is hell bent on getting Boldin the ball every week regardless if he is forcing it. The problem with that is Flacco could wind up with similar stat lines as Sunday’s (336 yards, 1 INT) which doesn’t really help his value as a QB.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS @ TENNESSEE TITANS:

Curtis Painter had another miserable day (250 yards, 2 picks) and you should be looking for a better quality reserve in case something happens to your starter. We can expect Joseph Addai to win his job right back after a lackluster performance by DeloneCarter who finished with 46 yards on 9 carries. Pierre Garcon continues to be the only dependable wide out on the team as he was targeted a team high 15 times and finished with 66 yards.

This could be the beginning of the end for Chris Johnson as an elite back…at least for this season. The speed is still there, but I watched him bounce to the outside countless times instead of working between the tackles. This is nothing new, CJ2K has always loved the corners, but he is not showing the footwork or cuts at the line of scrimmage which made him famous for breaking long runs. JavonRinger has been the more effective back all season and actually finished with the exact same amount of carries (14) yet totaled 60 yards compared to Johnson’s 34. What is even more concerning is how the Titans tried to feed CJ2K early and often with no success.Nate Washington tied the team high 6 targets and caught both touchdown passes from Hasselbeck. He was used on an end around and it looks like they are trying to find creative ways to get him in space. 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS @ ST. LOUIS RAMS:

While the Saints loss was the shock of the day, there wan’t too much to read into it. As I stated last week, both Robert Meachem andDevery Henderson are bottoming out in value due to Brees’ reliance on Graham and Colston. Though their 7 total targets this week was better than the previous week’s 4 total targets, it was Lance Moore who emerged with fantasy relevance. Moore finished with 74 yards and a score on 9 targets. Chris Ivory did make it into this game after all but should wind up as the odd man out once Ingram returns.

Steven Jackson returned to his glory days with 191 total yards and 2 touchdowns. Over the last few games, Jackson has looked increasingly better and I think this isn’t a return to glory as much as it is him finally being healthy for the first time in a while. Jackson is the only guy I would depend on until we see Lloyd and Bradford work together.

MIAMI DOLPHINS @ NY GIANTS:

Reggie Bush is performing the best I have ever seen in terms of being a pure running back. He has taken to hitting the holes straight forward instead of dancing behind the line of scrimmage. Bush posted 103 yards though Steve Slayton got the score. Bush should at least be in contention to split carries once Daniel Thomas returns if not carry the majority of the load. If you can unload Brandon Marshall it may be time to do so. Despite his double digit red zone targets, Marshall has only hauled in one touchdown. Use his name value to upgrade at another position provided you have depth at receiver.

Eli Manning is quietly having a solid fantasy year and it should only get better provided Hakeem Nicks‘ MRI comes back negative after injuring his hamstring. It was originally called a knee injury so we will need to await word later today to confirm the extent. Regardless of his injury extent, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham’s values will only continue to rise. Brandon Jacobs did return this week with limited results but it was his first game back from injury and he should eventually be worked back into the lineup with productivity as a Flex Play to be had. If the Giants Defense is available, get them while you can. The return of Justin Tuck only bolsters this units value and they will be back to having an elite pass rush soon.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS @ CAROLINA PANTHERS:

Adrian Peterson pounded the Panthers with 162 total yards and two scores behind a solid effort by Christian Ponder. Ponder is working his way into a very solid QB and holds great value as a back up, especially in keeper and dynasty leagues. Leslie Frazier also found ways to get Percy Harvin the ball, scoring as a running back in this game. Harvin and Ponder are developing a strong chemistry which should help Harvin owners in the second half of the season.

Cam Newton continued his 20+ days, and sold me in the process. While I have been critical of his tendencies to run, he beat the Vikesas a pocket QB in this game which was the dimension of him I needed to see. Jonathan Stewart did exit briefly with an ankle sprain and still had almost double the carries compared to Deangelo Williams. Stewart should be considered the back to have here as he looks to have taken lead back duties.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS @ HOUSTON TEXANS:

Blaine Gabbert still has yet to show any rapport with his receivers outside of Jason Hill. The decline of the Jags offense behindGabbert has nearly killed Marcedes Lewis’ value and Gabbert doesn’t seem to be getting any better soon. Outside of MJD, avoid the Jags.

Ben Tate’s skyrocket in value took a hit this week after a great showing last week. Tate only managed 5 carries compared to ArianFoster’s 33 for 113 yards. Tate still posted a respectable 42 yards on those 5 carries and if you can buy him low off this performance doe so. The Texans will need Foster for the long haul and I would expect Kubiak will be more conservative with Foster in the future. Foster was in the zone during the 4th quarter and helped pound the Jags into submission so it was more the Texans rolling with him while he was hot and not a reflection of Tate.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS @ BUFFALO BILLS:

The Redskins offense was dismal during this game, allowing Shanahan’s first shutout in 267 games. Ryan Torain still seems to be the guy still despite his 14 yards on 8 carries but his success will be largely defined by if the pass game can be effective. John Beck did injure his thumb after hitting another player’s helmet after a throw but continued on with the game so it shouldn’t have been serious. If you are in need for depth at Wide Receiver, Jabar Gaffney finished with the second most targets (5) and seems to be Beck’s most trusted target outside of Fred Davis.

Ryan Fitzpatrick rewarded the Bills payday with a 23-0 thrashing of the Skins behind 262 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. As usual, the stud of the day was Fred Jackson, who totaled 194 yards despite not finding the end zone. It looks like you may be able to safely start Scott Chandler again after a 2 touchdown performance. The Bills are better when Chandler is involved and hopefully this trend continues.

DETROIT LIONS @ DENVER BRONCOS:

Though everyone was involved in this game, it looks like Maurice Morris will be the primary backup to Jahvid Best when he returns. Morris scored the Lions lone rushing touchdown with 58 yards on 13 carries. Sell high on Brandon Pettigrew if you can, while you can. Tony Scheffler once again did more with his touches, scoring a touchdowns and 38 yards compared to Pettigrew’s 8 yards. Stafford and Scheffler have carried their chemistry from last season over now that Scheffler is healthy and it is eating into Pettigrew’s touches. As long as Scheffler is healthy, the trend will continue.

Everything which critics had to say about Tim Tebow manifested themselves in one game, leaving Tebow with possibly the most humiliating loss in his life. Elway is far from a true believer in the guy so while I don’t think his job is in danger this week, I do believe he will be on a short leash should he have another poor showing. Knowshon Moreno was the only bright spot for this offense, totaling 74 total yards.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS @ PITTSBURGH STEELERS:

Tom Brady’s dependence on Wes Welker finally caught up with them Sunday as each had their worst overall performance to date. It was more a cause of the stellar play by the Steelers defense than any setback in their abilities. The big issue her is the return of Kevin Faulk who is bound to drive Benjarvis Green-Ellis owners mad. The Hoodie and Tom Brady seem to have some sort of man crush on Faulk, clearly favoring him through the years. In his first game back off the PUP list, Faulk had 11 total touches compared to BJE’s 5 and was far more effective. It could have been due to Green-Ellis’ toe injury from last week but regardless I don’t like what it means to his value.

I have been on the Antonio Brown bandwagon despite Emmanuel Sanders getting the starts because of Brown’s high amount of targets. Brown led the team this week with 15 targets and 9 catches including a touchdown. Roethlisberger seems to trust Brown’s routes as his did Hines Ward and while both young guns have value, I would option Brown over Sanders.

CLEVELAND BROWNS @ SF 49ERS:

Montario Hardesty exited this one early with a calf injury and will be awaiting MRI results so keep tabs. Peyton Hillis was already out for the game and will hopefully return this week given the news. The Browns are flat out anemic in the red zone and the only person you can vaguely depend on is Ben Watson for his yardage totals at the TE position.

Michael Crabtree posted the lone passing touchdowns on 54 yards receiving. He is a decent #2 WR play most weeks but the return of Braylon Edwards could hurt his value long term. Crabtree did receive 9 targets compared to Edwards 7, but a new toy is likely to distract Smith from his previous two favorites Crabtree and Davis.

CINCINNATI BENGALS @ SEATTLE SEAHAWKS:

Bernard Scott should be in line for an increased workload after totaling 76 yards on 22 carries against the Seattle 11th ranked run defense. It isn’t even the numbers so much as it is his speed and athleticism compared to Cedric Benson. Benson will still get his touches because of the contract, but Scott showed us he is a very useful option should Benson get hurt. If you need to start a receiver on this team it is AJ Green, who now has 516 yards with 5 scores on the season.

I would say it’s safe to avoid the entire Seattle backfield after a very poor half of the season. Marshawn Lynch has not risen to expectations and is not trustworthy as your starter. Feel safe if he is a needed Flex Play, but expecting him to carry you is a pipe dream. He will have a few solid games before the season ends, but overall you should not risk it. Sidney Rice has now had two 10+ point games in a row and with the running game struggling, he should be a fairly reliable WR #2 moving ahead. Don’t read too much intoTavaris Jackson’s performance, as he only posted the 323 yards after throwing 40 times yet still failed to find the end zone but succeeded in throwing a pick.

DALLAS COWBOYS @ PHILADELPHIA EAGLES:

Demarco Murray had a better day than I expected (74 yards) despite his 8 carries. 26 of those yards came on one run though and I don’t see Murray winning the sole job once Felix Jones returns. Jerry Jones thinks highly of Felix so it should wind up as some sort of time share at best. Who the lead back will be is anyone’s guess at this point, but I would take the risk and sell high on Murray for a back with more job security. Laurent Robinson posted another solid game amid the Eagles defensive display but he is also a sell high candidate who you should get what you can for while the iron is hot. It will be a challenge to figure out just when he is going to explode like this and will be a boom or bust candidate.

As for the Eagles, start em if you got em. The return to basics has this team thriving and finally starting to hit their stride.

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