Peyton Manning – DEN vs. GB
If there was ever a 6-0 start to a season that raised eyebrows, the 2015 Denver Broncos would fit the bill. Denver has ridden its defense to an unblemished record, an accomplishment that has been marred by the whimsical play of Peyton Manning. The arm strength of the future first-ballot Hall of Famer has been palpable with passes fluttering in the air that seemingly take forever to come down. Despite one of the most dynamic wide receiver duos in football with speedster Emmanuel Sanders and behemoth Demaryius Thomas, the passing-game Gary Kubiak envisioned he was inheriting has been a mere mirage. Facing a stout Green Bay defense this week, it will be difficult to lean on Peyton Manning and the Denver pass-game.
Jay Cutler – CHI vs. MIN
Stringing together three consecutive impressive starts vs. mediocre pass defenses (Oak, KC, and DET), Jay Cutler and the Bears’ offense faces a tougher task this weekend with the Vikings coming to town. As we’ve yet to see Cutler’s turnover mantra come to fruition this season, I think this is a weekend you’ll begin to see an uptick in the Bears total number of turnovers (currently at eight). Despite coming off the bye with a healthy Alshon Jeffery, a date with the divisional-foe Vikings and their 11th ranked pass-defense poses a larger threat.
Colin Kaepernick – SF @ STL
After posting 20 + fantasy points in weeks 6 and 7, the Seahawks stymied Kaepernick and the 49ers offense holding them to
81passing yards and 142 total yards. It doesn’t get much easier for Kaepernick and the middling 49ers offense as they travel to St. Louis to take on a ferocious Rams front-7 who stifled the Browns offense last week. Unable to rely on Carlos Hyde, who has been playing through a stress fracture in his foot, the Rams defense won’t have to stack the box in anticipation of a run-first offense, effectively closing the passing-lanes for the erratic Kaepernick. In what has been a tumultuous season in San Francisco, don’t expect this offense to get in-sync anytime soon.
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.
It’s no secret that the New Orleans Saints backfield has been nothing more than a complementary-piece to the pass-happy offensive scheme that Sean Payton has implemented. The revolving door of cast characters has seen the likes of Reggie Bush, Chris Ivory, and Darren Sproles all depart in the past handful of years, and while Pierre Thomas has been old reliable, there’s another back in the Saints backfield who possesses big-play ability moving forward: Khiry Robinson.
After wildly-disappointing Mark Ingram finally appeared to grab the reins in the Saints backfield, he sustained a broken hand in the first half of last week’s game vs. the Browns. The injury is expected to shelf the former 1st-round pick for at least a month. With Pierre Thomas seeing limited snaps solely on passing-downs, Robinson, the former UDFA out of West Texas A&M, has a chance to run away with the starting gig.
Robinson’s physical style of down-hill running has drawn comparisons to Chris Ivory and even flashed big-play potential across a few games for the Saints last season. With teams continuing to pump the brakes in the box, in attempts to slow Brees and his high-powered passing attack, look for Payton and the Saints to install a more balanced-attack with Robinson at the head of the table.
Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, and Jamaal Charles – just a few of the stud RBs that Andy Reid has coached to become some of the most complete backs in both the passing and running game. After Jamaal Charles suffered a high-ankle sprain in last week’s loss to the Broncos, 2nd year RB Knile Davis spelled Charles to the tune of 2 Tds and 95 total yards on 28 touches. Dating back to last year, in the parts of the 3 games Charles has missed, Davis has racked up a total of 6 TDs in relief.
In Andy Reid’s last season with the Eagles in 2012, LeSean McCoy left a Nov. 18th game after suffering a concussion, forcing McCoy to miss the next two games. Bryce Brown came on in relief for McCoy and rolled along to a juicy 43 – 347 – 4 TD line across the two contests.
As we’re well aware, Andy Reid-coached offenses are highly dependent on the Running Back position, as well as their involvement in the passing game. Davis is a shifty, talented runner working in a run-first scheme and as long as JC25 is on the shelf, Davis will be a bonafide RB1. Waiver-wire vultures can feel comfortable flowing with Knile as their top add for the week.
Coming into fantasy drafts this year, Texans RB Arian Foster was one of the most controversial 1st round picks. Combine his heavy workload over the last few years with his injury situation in training camp and Foster’s status as a first-round pick was far from a guarantee. Now Foster’s season has come to an end, just 10 weeks in, after he sustained a back injury in last week’s game that will require season-ending injury.
It’ll be hard to imagine Foster regaining his elite fantasy status moving forward as his tires continue to accumulate wear and tear. There was some speculation that the Texans would let Ben Tate walk next off-season, but that notion is surely to be second-guessed with Foster’s health in question. With the uncertainty at the QB and RB positions heading into the future, the Texans will be hard-pressed to duplicate their dominance from recent years.
When the Seahawks traded 1st round and 3rd round picks to acquire Percy Harvin from the Vikings, Seattle was instantly a top pick to reach the Super Bowl this year. But their plans to unleash their new, dynamic playmaker were put on hold when Harvin underwent hip surgery on August 1st.
A little over two months removed from surgery, reports have been positive about the progress he has made. Harvin had been rehabbing his hip in New York prior to recently returning to Seattle. Reports have indicated that he’s looked great and that he just resumed running. Harvin is eligible to come off the PUP list in Week 7, although it appears more likely that he will return around Week 9 or Week 10. Regardless, Harvin possesses more than enough talent to propel fantasy teams to the promised land come December. While the window is closing on snatching up Harvin, now is your last chance to get a legitimate WR2 with back-end WR1 potential for free.
Harvin is currently owned in a mere 11% of ESPN leagues and is still only owned in 37% of Yahoo! leagues. Despite the prolonged absence, the Seahawks will be salivating to get one of the most dynamic players in the NFL back on the field.
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