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.
The Vikings competition at quarterback is heating up between the veteran Matt Cassel and the rookie Teddy Bridgewater. According to those at Vikings training camp, Bridgewater has looked extremely impressive in the early-goings and has made a nice transition to the NFL level.
At this juncture, the expectation is that Cassel has a tiny advantage over Bridgewater at lining up under for Minnesota in Week 1. However, the 1st-year product out of Louisville is beginning to make the strides that the team envisioned when they made him the 32nd overall pick of last year’s draft.
It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out with the Vikings, but I expect Bridgewater to ultimately be handed the keys to Minnesota’s offense. For all intensive purposes, Bridgewater holds the higher fantasy value.
After spending his first six NFL seasons with the Titans, Jets newcomber RB Chris Johnson is ready to begin training camp with Gang Green. Johnson underwent surgery in January to clean up a torn meniscus in his knee, but has officially been given the green light for camp.
Chris Johnson gets some reps in Jets camp
The Titans focused on upgrading their offensive line last season with the hopes of revitalizing CJ2K’s career, but the result was tumultuous, leading to his departure from Tennessee. Now in New York, the 27 year-old Johnson will look to regain his explosiveness from the 2009 and 2010 seasons, where he ran for the most yards and touchdowns in his career.
While CJ will have to fight off Chris Ivory for carries, look for the Jets to use the two in a timeshare with Ivory’s thunder complementing Johnson’s lightning in Marty Mornhinweg’s offense.