Matt Ryan – ATL vs. TB
After allowing the Redskins’ largest comeback in franchise history this past Sunday (24 points), it’s safe to say the days of Warren Sapp, Simeon Rice, Derrick Brooks and company feel like a distant memory. This Buccaneers defense is flat-out atrocious and a visit to Atlanta with Matt Ryan and the 6-1 Falcons isn’t going to stop the bleeding. Playing on the road the previous two weeks and managing only four TDs in Ryan’s last four games, a stop back at the Georgia Dome is just what the doctor ordered. It speaks volumes that over that same four-game span Julio Jones hasn’t topped the 100 yard mark in receiving, which bodes well for the chances of an imminent explosion from this high-powered passing attack. I expect Matty Ice to throw for 250+ yards and multiple scores in what should be a route of the hapless Bucs.
Cam Newton – CAR vs. IND
Coming off a season-worst performance against the Eagles on Sunday Night, Cam Newton and the Panthers look towards an impending matchup against the Colts to get things back on track on Monday night. Despite three Interceptions, Newton still managed to get 17 fantasy points in a lackluster effort. As a run-first oriented offense and Jonathan Stewart on the heels of a 125-yard performance vs. Philly, expect the Colts to try and stop the run-first. Combine that defensive game plan with a Colts secondary allowing 286 yards a game through the air and it’s a safe bet that Cam will improve on his 197 passing yards and one passing touchdown performance from last week.
Eli Manning – NYG @ NO
In what will be a homecoming of sorts for Louisiana natives Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle, Sunday has all of the fixings for a successful reunion in the Bayou. After averaging 22 fantasy points in weeks 2 – 5, Eli scuffled in weeks 6 and 7 against divisional foes Philly and Dallas. This week Eli is primed to right the ship against a New Orleans secondary, which has allowed a whopping 276 passing yards per game. With the Giants running-back carousel still in limbo, and a Saints defense that has allowed at least 20 + points in all seven games this season, fantasy owners can expect fireworks from the Giants passing game this week.
James Starks – The last time I can remember James Starks being a relevant name drop was when my buddy Nano and I went down to this girl’s party in Newton, MA in 2010. While we ran the ‘ruit table, some herb was chatting about the University at Buffalo football program, pretty obscure, unless of course you’re the girlfriend of the logo designer for this site. Naturally, I knew saying “James Starks what up” to the kid, would provide him with an instant football orgasm. Sure enough, he talked about how much of a beast Starks was while at Buffalo. That year, while playing in relief of Packers starter Ryan Grant, Starks capped his rookie season with a Super Bowl ring and set the Packers rookie record for most rushing yards in a post-season game with 123. Three years later and Starks seems to be all the rage this week on the waiver wire.
After relieving concussed Eddie Lacy this week, Starks became the first Packers RB to rush for over 100 yards in a game since Oct. 10th, 2010. With the Packers bye week approaching in week 4, it looks like Lacy will sit out this week as Starks is primed to get the start in Cincinnati. While Lacy’s status remains hazy, look for the Packers to trend towards more of a time-share when both backs are in the lineup, to minimize the hits on their rookie.
The Bottom Heist: If Starks continues to perform, he will sculpt his own permanent role within the Packers offense, making him at the very worst, a top handcuff in a high-powered offense.
Jacquizz Rodgers – Much like Starks, and is often the case for off-the-radar fantasy backs, Rodgers’ value is contingent upon an injury to the Falcons starter, Steven Jackson. However, contrary to the situation in the Green Bay backfield, ‘Quizz has more than enough time to play himself into a role. For the last few years now, the pass-heavy Falcons have looked for Rodgers to be a dynamic threat in the pass game, coming out of the backfield. Not doing himself any favors with the opportunities he has been given, Rodgers maintains the shiftiness that many offensive coordinators covet from their scat back. For PPR and/or leagues that count return yards, Rodgers is a legitimate flex play for the interim. While the numbers haven’t been there in the early-going, the touches are firmly laid out in the on-deck circle.
The Bottom Heist: With S-Jax a candidate to return after ATL’s Week 6 bye, Rodgers has more than enough time to prove to the Falcons coaching staff that he deserves a role in the offense. He’s worth a look in 12+ team leagues.