In my inaugural piece I would like to compare the art of prognosticating QB and TE plays to the game of Russian roulette, as crazy as it sounds. It’s not always an easy task when it comes to predicting tight ends that will hit or miss on a week to week basis. The main reason for this is that the TE position has become very touchdown dependent. I would compare the players in this case to the empty and loaded chambers of the gun. Let’s imagine for a second that I’m playing this very dangerous game. I’m not sure which chamber holds the deadly bullet but I know it’s in there, so there’s a great amount of risk in playing the game. The empty chambers are misses and the loaded chamber is obviously a hit. This is the risk that I’m well aware of by taking over this weekly article but regardless I’m up for the challenge. However to help me combat this risk I will use the vast amount of data available at my fingertips, weekly matchups, and my gut instinct to help determine which 10 players I will highlight. My personal goal is to be right more than I’m wrong. My other personal goal is to survive this deadly game and live to tell my grandkids about it someday.
“How ‘bout them QBs!”
Holy Cow was week 8 a crazy week in the NFL or what?! We witnessed 9 quarterbacks throw for over 300 yards! Well, actually 10 if we count rookie Zach Mettenberger’s 1st NFL start in which he threw for 299 yards and 2 TDs. Speaking of passing TDs, 8 out of those 10 QBs threw for at least 2 scores through the air. These passing numbers speak volumes and give credence to the fact that the NFL is in fact a passing league and it’s not changing anytime soon. Here are the top 5 QBs from week 8. I promise you that none of them will be on my list this week but I had to spotlight them for their eye-popping stats. I can only hope that you reaped the rewards of owning one of these field generals….and on the flip side that you didn’t have any of them rotting away on your bench.
Week 9 QB Hits & Misses
In Week 9 we have 6 teams on bye which means the fantasy owners of Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, and Jay Cutler will need to make alternative plans. There also will be no streaming of Zach Mettenberger or Kyle Orton with the Titans and Bills also on bye. To be honest the QB pool is a little on the thin side this week but the show must go on so without further ado here we go:
Strong QB Plays (Top 10)
Tony Romo vs Arizona Cardinals
This is a risky pick considering that Romo is currently nursing a muscle contusion in his back after being plowed over by Keenan Robinson on MNF. Early reports suggest it’s more of a pain tolerance issue which could possibly limit his mobility. With that being said Romo is as tough as nails and rest assured if he can gut it out, he will. We’re talking about a guy who’s played with broken ribs and a herniated disk in the past. I absolutely LOVE his matchup this week at home vs the Cardinals where he’s already tossed 10 TDs this year. The Cards have a stout run defense but their secondary is vulnerable and banged up. They’ll be without their top cover corner Rashad Johnson, who is recovering from a concussion. If Nick Foles can throw for over 400 yards vs the Cards then Romo shouldn’t have any problem putting up top 10 QB fantasy numbers this week. Not to mention Romo will be chomping at the bit to bounce back from Monday night’s dud and rebound from their big loss to the Redskins. This game could quickly turn into a shootout increasing the likelihood that Romo will be slinging the pigskin early and often. If he doesn’t play then all bets are off and I guess I get a mulligan on my 1st prediction but the smart money is on him playing. Here is my fearless forecast for Romo this week:
24-36 328 yards 2 TDs
Lock Of The Week-Top 5 QB
Colin Kaepernick vs St Louis Rams
Just in case you haven’t been keeping track Colin Kaepernick loves playing the Rams. He absolutely lit them up Week 6 on MNF passing for 343 yards and 3 scores. That was good for 44.35 pts in MLFF leagues so I’m all in with Kaepernick as my lock of the week. Plus the 49ers are coming off their bye and should have had plenty of time to prepare for a reeling Rams team. They had issues containing Russell Wilson a couple of weeks ago allowing him to run wild for 106 yards and a touchdown. Kaepernick is just as dangerous on the ground and is long overdue for his 1st rushing TD of the season. He also shouldn’t have any issues passing with Rams CBs Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins looking very questionable to play. I have to admit I’ve always been intrigued by Colin’s dual-threat ability and love the upside he possesses. Don’t sleep on Kaepernick this week! Get him in your lineup for this juicy matchup.
21-33 309 yards 2 passing TDs, 8 carries for 58 yards 1 rushing TD
Bye Week Replacement Fill-in
Alex Smith vs New York Jets
As I touched on previously there are quite a few teams on bye so the QB well is a little dry this week. If you’re in a pinch and you don’t have a nice backup option then Alex Smith could be your guy. Captain checkdown doesn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside but let’s focus on the matchup. Smith has the privilege of facing the leaky Jets secondary at home at Arrowhead Stadium. In Week 8 the Jets gave up 4 passing TDs to Kyle Orton; yes you heard right Kyle freaking Orton! If we go back even further they’ve given up at least 3 passing TDs the last 4 weeks to Orton, Brady, Manning, and Rivers. In Smith’s last home game vs the Pats in Primetime he came up big with 3 touchdown passes. I wouldn’t go all crazy spending your FAAB budget money to get him but you could do a lot worse as a bye week replacement. Here’s my fearless forecast for Alex Smith:
21-32 286 yards passing 2 TD’s, 5 carries for 28 yards
Stay Away….Stay Far, Far Away Plays
Joe Flacco @ Pittsburgh Steelers (SNF)
Sorry guys I’m just not “Wacco for Flacco” this week vs the Steelers. I’m shying away for a number of reasons but the main reason is that he’s historically been a lot better at home than on the road. Plus, his career numbers against the Steelers aren’t that impressive; mediocre at best. I just don’t see any reason to think he’ll magically figure out the Steelers defense under the bright lights of SNF. The Ravens will need to figure out how to keep Big Ben off the field coming off the biggest game of his career. In order to accomplish this they will need to focus on attacking them on the ground. The Ravens have the o-line and RB depth to do just that with Forsett and Taliaferro. I would strongly recommend staying away from Flacco this week and search for better bye week options on the wire.
19-32 189 yards passing 1 TD 2 INT’s
Robert Griffin III @ Minnesota Vikings
There is no doubt that RG3 gives the Redskins their best chance to win and no one questions that the Redskins are his team. But you have to ask yourself, “Are you willing to risk starting a QB coming back from a serious ankle injury with just a couple of practices under his belt?” This situation is similar to the beginning of last year’s NFL season when RG3 came back from his ACL injury. He was really rusty and had zero chemistry with any of his receivers which was apparent to everyone watching him play. This was due to lack of practice, missing OTAs, and sitting out the entire preseason. RG3 owners need to be patient and take the wait and see approach before inserting him back into their starting lineups. As much as I Iove RG3, I have to be realistic and temper my expectations for him in his 1st week back. It would make sense for them to feed Alfred Morris in order to keep the pressure off their Franchise QB. After all they gave up a King’s ransom to get him so they should protect their investment. Here’s my forecast for RG3 this week:
16-28 158 yards passing 0 TD 2 INT’s, 5 rushes for 18 yards
Week 9 TE preferred Plays and Stay Aways
There are a lot of TE’s to plug and play in Week 9, even with six teams are on bye. The only TEs on bye that are starter material are Martellus Bennett, Delanie Walker, and possibly Scott Chandler in deeper 14-16 team leagues. As I touched on earlier TE is a deep position and very TD dependent. Here are 3 TE’s that I would start without any concerns and they should all produce if you’re in a pinch.
Strong TE Plays- Lock of the Week (Top 5)
Larry Donnell vs Indianapolis Colts
Larry Donnell burst onto the NFL scene Week 4 on MNF vs the Redskins with 3 TD’s. Everyone jumped on the Donnell bandwagon afterwards and a lot of experts were already tabbing him as the next Julius Thomas. Then he disappeared for the next 2 weeks managing only 1 catch for 2 yards. The Giants made a focal point of getting him involved in their game plan Week 8 vs the Cowboys. Donnell was targeted 7 times and caught all 7 passes for 90 yards. He’s one of Eli Manning’s best red zone targets at 6’6″ and 265 lbs and is a load to bring down. I believe the emergence of Odell Beckham Jr. in the passing game has actually helped take some of the attention off Donnell. This week the Giants host the Colts on MNF and Donnell will get another chance to showcase his talents in this Primetime matchup. The Colts just got shredded by Big Ben for 522 passing yards and 6 touchdowns. Their defense is obviously suspect and they’ve allowed an average of 10.2 pts a game to TEs. Heath Miller managed to have his best game of the season against them with 7 catches for 112 yards and a touchdown. Donnell will continue this trend making him my lock of the week at TE. Be sure to get him in your lineups and enjoy watching him pile up the fantasy points.
8 receptions for 96 yards and 2 TD
Breakout TE play- (Top 10 Play)
Travis Kelce vs New York Jets
Travis Kelce has been a hot name in fantasy all year and a sleeper pick dating back to the preseason. Well it’s pretty obvious that he’s living up to the hype and will only get better with time. Honestly the only thing holding him back from being a top 5 TE is Andy Reid and his snap count. Kelce has been Alex Smith’s most reliable and consistent pass-catching target all year. He’s drawn some Gronk comparisons and shown some flashes, displaying his unbelievable athletic ability. Kelce hasn’t scored in a couple of weeks and has only topped 50 yards once in the past 4 weeks but I’m predicting that he explodes this week. His matchup is the key vs the Jets and possibly the best one of the season. The Jets are allowing an average of 11.4 pts a game to opposing TEs which is why I’m all in on Kelce this week. Here’s my fearless forecast this week;
7 receptions for 108 yards and 1 TD
Bye week Replacement Fill-in
Jace Amaro @ Kansas City Chiefs
I’m sticking with the same game since I really like what I’ve seen from Jace Amaro lately. He’s seen 22 targets over the last 3 weeks which puts him in the top 5 at his position during that time. Amaro is especially a great play in PPR leagues since he has 18 catches in his last 3 games. The Jets also have a changing of the guard this week with Michael Vick taking over for Geno Smith. Vick will look to his safety valve Amaro vs a Chiefs team that has given up the 5th most fantasy points to opposing tight ends over the last 2 weeks. This is more than just a gut call as you can see so don’t be afraid to pickup Amaro and start him with confidence.
5 receptions for 63 yards and 1 TD
Stay Away….Stay Far, Far Away Plays
Jason Witten vs Arizona Cardinals
Ok I’m done making excuses for Jason Witten. I’ve heard just about everything in the book from he’s a slow starter to he’s been asked to block more this year. I think it’s time we all face the facts and the sad reality that Witten is done. I realize that he did have his best game of the season ironically after Romo went out of the game on MNF. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is a sign of things to come because it’s not. At this point I’d prefer Gavin Escobar over Witten the rest of the season. Witten hasn’t topped 5 receptions all year-long and has been under 5 in all but 2 games. At some point you have to take the name off the jersey and look at the numbers and that’s what I’ve done with Witten. I’d much rather put my trust in emerging TEs like Travis Kelce, Jace Amaro, Luke Wilson, and Timothy Wright. If you haven’t cut the cord yet I’m not sure what you’re waiting for but make the move.
3 receptions for 26 yards 0 TDs
Jordan Cameron vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I understand that Jordan Cameron suffered a concussion in week 8 and is currently questionable to play this week. It’s possible that’s he’s cleared by Sunday if he manages to pass the concussion protocol tests. If he does get cleared he’ll be going up against a Bucs defense that ranks last in the league in passing yards allowed. Even a juicy matchup with the Bucs isn’t enough to entice me to start Cameron. The truth is he’s in the same category as Witten and is dead to me until further notice. Cameron has only topped 50 yards once this year and doesn’t look anything like the same player that broke out for 80 receptions, 917 yards and 7 touchdowns last year. It’s time to cut bait and move on, he’s not worthy of a roster spot and definitely not someone I would start in any league.
2 receptions for 15 yards 0 TDs
I look forward to breaking down my predictions in next week’s article. I really hope that I’ve helped my readers make some tough lineup decisions they’ve been battling with. The answer isn’t always as straightforward as one might think so the more information you have to analyze, the better chance you have of making the right lineup decision. However at the end of the day the final decision is up to you the owner on whom you will start or bench. Good luck to everyone in Week 9 and keep marching towards the playoffs. If you have any lineup questions I would be more than happy to answer them. You can find me on Twitter @MaddogFF.
(Click the link below to listen)
Major League Fantasy Sports Radio: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday November 2nd at 11am EST for this weeks episode of Major League Fantasy Football Radio sponsored by The Sports Palooza Radio Network. We will be taking live callers at 646.915.8596. We will be taking live questions that pertain to anything Fantasy Football related. Our two guests this week are Andy Macuga and Bryan Luhrs. Andy Macuga is the head football coach for Borrego Springs H.S. in Southern California and an owner in our baseball & football leagues. Bryan Luhrs is the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports which is the dynasty arm of MLFS. He is also an owner in MLFB & MLFF leagues. Come join the conversation and don’t be afraid to ask a question.
Don’t forget to join Bryan Robinson on reddit.com (/r/fantasyfootball)this Saturday for a live Q&A session in which he will answer all your burning line up decisions. Then call in on Sunday for last minute advice on air. You will be part of the conversation so don’t think we will rush you off the phone!