It’s Week 8, and we get our yearly NFL matchup at Wembley Stadium in London, England. This year, it is the surprising St. Louis Rams taking on the surprisingly mediocre New England Patriots. Based upon passing offense versus passing defense, this one has the potential to be a shootout. This week’s Thursday matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings also promises to kick-start the week off on the right Fantasy foot, with plenty of guys to gather points for their owners. It should be another exciting slate of NFL action. Lots of luck in Week 8!
Surprise start of the week: Sam Bradford, St. Louis (at NE – in London): Bradford is a great waiver wire addition if you’re in a pinch due to bye weeks. The Patriots are horrid against the pass, allowing 290.0 yards per game with a league-high 16 touchdowns through the air in just seven games. The Patriots have also been beaten for an NFL-high 39 plays of 20 or more yards through the air, while opposing QBs have a passer rating of 99.2 against them this season. Bradford has been on the rise lately, throwing for 570 yards over his past two games, including one of his two 300-yard games on the season. He has turned the ball over just six times (all interceptions, no fumbles), but he also has just three TD strikes over his past five games. He could double that total in this game alone.
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (vs. TEN), Christian Ponder, Minnesota (vs. TB – THU), Mark Sanchez, N.Y. Jets (vs. MIA)
Sit of the week: Robert Griffin III, Washington (at PIT): This is, by far, RGIII’s most difficult assignment of his young career. He’ll be matched up against a Pittsburgh pass defense which allowed just 184.8 yards per game through the air, and a rather modest 88.3 passer rating by opposing QBs. And the Steelers are a respectable ninth in the NFL against the rush, giving up just 92.5 yards per game on the ground with only four rushing scores. The Steelers have also allowed just two runs over 20 yards all season. If anyone is going to skew the stats of the Steelers, it is Griffin, but it is extremely unlikely on the road.
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Alex Smith, San Francisco (at ARI – MON), Ryan Tannehill, Miami (at N.Y. Jets), Russell Wilson, Seattle (at DET)
Surprise start of the week: Alex Green, Green Bay (vs. JAC): The Packers are going to try awfully, awfully hard to establish the run game early and often against the beleaguered Jaguars, who are likely to be forced to start undrafted rookie LB Julian Stanford on Sunday. The Jags have allowed an abysmal 147.3 yards per game on the ground this season, including eight rushing touchdowns. If Green is going to get it going, it has to be this week. If not, he might never have this great of a chance again, and it is a remote possibility the club could turn back to former Packers RB Ryan Grant, who was released by the Redskins this week.
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Ryan Mathews, San Diego (at CLE), Darren McFadden, Oakland (at KC), Willis McGahee, Denver (vs. NO)
Sit of the week: Trent Richardson, Cleveland (vs. SD): Richardson is nicked up, dealing with an injury to his ribs. He was rather tentative and not running like himself in Indianapolis last week, that head coach Pat Shurmur actually yanked him in favor of Montario Hardesty. While Richardson has made progress this week, and he is likely to try and play even if not 100 percent, going up against the AFC’s top-ranked rushing defense (and ranked No. 2 in the NFL) is no cure for what ills the Cleveland rushing attack. It’s best to keep Richardson on your bench and look for other alternatives.
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Shonn Greene, N.Y. Jets (vs. MIA), Mikel Leshoure, Detroit (vs. SEA), Alfred Morris, Washington (at PIT)
Surprise start of the week: Brandon Lloyd, New England (vs. STL – in London): There was a lot made out of the fact Lloyd was targeted eight times last week, but only able to connect with QB Tom Brady once. Believe me, that has been worked on ad nauseum this week, and Lloyd will want to perform admirably against one of his former teams. The Rams pass defense is middle-of-the-road, allowing 225.6 yards per game through the air. Lloyd has been targeted 65 times in the first seven games, so the intent is there. One of these weeks this combination is going to go off, and go off big-time.
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Malcom Floyd, San Diego (at CLE), Chris Givens, St. Louis (at NE), Jeremy Kerley, N.Y. Jets (vs. MIA),
Sit of the week: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (vs. SF – MON): Fitzgerald has posted games with at least 125 yards and a touchdown in two of his past three outings against the 49ers, and he has scored three straight times facing the NFC West Division rivals. However, he has QB John Skelton at the helm this season, and the Cardinals passing offense will be facing the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL, as the Niners allow just 173.6 yards per game through the air. Opposing QBs have a very marginal 73.6 passer rating against San Francisco, which is the fourth-best mark in the NFL. Fitzgerald might be frequently targeted, but don’t look for him to crack the century mark, or even come close.
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Randy Moss, San Francisco (at ARI – MON), Santana Moss, Washington (at PIT), Sidney Rice, Seattle (at DET)
Surprise start of the week: Heath Miller, Pittsburgh (vs. WAS)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Dustin Keller, N.Y. Jets (vs. MIA), Kyle Rudolph, MIN (vs. TB – THU)
Sit of the week: Brent Celek, Philadelphia (vs. ATL)
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Coby Fleener, Indianapolis (at TEN), Antonio Gates, San Diego (at CLE)
Surprise start of the week: Kai Forbath, Washington (at PIT)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy play: Steven Hauschka, Seattle (at DET)
Sit of the week: Dan Carpenter, Miami (at N.Y. Jets)
Other who should be riding the fantasy pine: Phil Dawson, Cleveland (vs. SD)
Surprise start of the week: Raiders DST (at KC)
Other solid, less- than-obvious fantasy plays: Packers DST (vs. JAC), Seahawks DST (at DET)
Sit of the week: Rams (vs. Patriots – in London)
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Broncos DST (vs. NO), Dolphins DST (at NYJ)