New Orleans Saints v St. Louis Rams
Drew Brees– As of the end of week seven there are only three players in the competition for league MVP. That short list of players includes all quarterbacks in Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees. With Rodgers having a bye week and Brady having the always solid Pittsburg Steelers’ defense to face, Brees could pad his stats and continue to make his case for the award. Everyone saw what Brees did to the lowly Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football. He just continued to produce and score almost every single time he had the ball. There is the chance here in week eight that Drew Brees could have the same kind of game as he did against the Colts. In fact, don’t be surprised if his performance this week mirrors the production that Aaron Rodgers had against the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier in the season. The Saints don’t seem prepared to take their foot off the gas, no matter the competition or what the scoreboard says. Brees will have the ball perhaps more often than usual this week due to the issues that the Rams are dealing with on offense. AJ Feely should be good for several three and outs and at least two turnovers that will give Drew Brees fantastic field position. Brees should finish as a top three quarterback this week in fantasy points with the hopeful expectation of being number one by the close of Monday Night Football. There is no question that Tom Brady and Brees are playing catch up to Aaron Rodgers. This is a great chance for the Saints All Pro quarterback to begin to close that gap.
Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans
Ben Tate– If it wasn’t official yet it certainly was made official loudly in week seven. Arian Foster is back and he’s ready to pick up where he left off in 2010. The exciting Texans’ back excelled in every category possible for a running back in regards to fantasy football. He had the scoring with three touchdowns. He had the rushing yardage breaking the century mark. And he even contributed in the passing game again breaking the 100 yard mark. Last week Foster had the role of a successful goal line back, a wide receiver, and an elite running back. It was like starting two extra players on your roster. Ben Tate was able to break the 100 yard mark as well marking the first time in Houston Texans’ history that they have had two players break 100 yards in the same game. But don’t expect this tread to continue. Don’t expect Tate to continue to produce at this level behind one of the top two running backs in the league.
This is not a Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor type of situation. Tate has to have a huge yards per carry average almost every week to stay productive due to the fact that Foster deserves to get the majority of the carries. It’s not a great idea to start a back on your fantasy team that you know has to be well beyond effective in order to be relevant. This week the Texans get a defense that completely stifled the Baltimore Ravens’ rushing attack on Monday Night Football. In fact the underrated Jaguars’ run defense pretty much embarrassed the Ravens’ offense for four quarters of football. I don’t expect the Texans to have as much trouble against Jacksonville as the Ravens did but I do think the competition against the run will be strong yet again. Like I said before, it’s not a great idea to start a back that you know has to have a huge yards per carry average in order to put up fantasy numbers. The combination of Ben Tate’s smaller amount of carries added to the above average competition should lead to rough day for the back up running back. But Tate has the chance this week to prove me wrong and continue to excel in his new found limited back up role. Week eight offers us the evidence that we need while deciding what to do with Tate moving forward.
Arizona Cardinals v Baltimore Ravens
Larry Fitzgerald– If I were Kevin Kolb I would be on the phone right now with Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions. I would be asking what the secret formula to being a successful quarterback has been so far. I would then take that formula and implement it as early as week eight. It’s not a tough one to figure out but Kolb has seemingly missed it so far in 2011.
Much like Matthew Stafford with Calvin Johnson, it’s time that Kolb fully utilizes Larry Fitzgerald. The yardage has been ok so far but the touchdown total is no where near where it should be. The two best red zone wide receivers in the NFL are unquestionably Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. Now look at their touchdown totals and you’ll see that they are completely worlds apart in how they are used. I understand that the Cardinals have been struggling on offense and therefore haven’t gotten into scoring territory as often as the Lions have, but come on now! This is Larry Fitzgerald. This is the “Sports Science” player that has the range and the hands to catch a ball thrown anywhere in a ten yard radius around him. Kolb hasn’t played as well as most people were expecting and Fitzgerald has suffered the repercussions. This is the second year in a row that Fitzgerald hasn’t been given the chance to use all of his ability due to offensive issues. If Kolb doesn’t figure out how to get the ball to Fitzgerald, in particularly in the redzone, then next season will most likely make three in a row of underwhelming statistics. Kolb has the rest of the season to get on the same page as Fitzgerald and build a scoring connection that should be second to only Stafford and Calvin. The Ravens’ cornerbacks are on the small side and should provide a mismatch for Fitzgerald on every snap. Kolb needs to find Fitzgerald for the yardage but more importantly for the scoring. A nice fade route to the corner of the endzone should be run at least once every single time they are in close. Fitzgerald’s size and hands makes him a perfect fit for that route. It’s time for Kolb to up his game and time for Fitzgerald to reap the benefits.
Indianapolis Colts v Tennessee Titans
Chris Johnson– I think that CJ2K may have the record for most appearances on the risers and fallers list. The reason he keeps popping up is because we all know what he is capable of. He had two monster seasons in a row so we know the production isn’t a fluke. He just hasn’t been able to get back to the numbers that we’ve all grown so used to seeing. Until we actually see Chris Johnson break out of his slump he will remain as the Titans’ player with the most value on the line. Each week he doesn’t is another hit to his value dragging him further and further down the rankings list. This very well could be the best chance that he’s had all season long to finally explode back up the rankings. The Colts are easily run on and Hasselbeck should have success as well, further opening up the running attack. Chris Johnson needs to show owners something and quick. We should be going into the game expecting that of a “Poor man’s Arian Foster” type of performance. By that I mean contributions in all facets of fantasy scoring. We should be hopeful for a 100 yard rushing game, 50 yards receiving, and hopefully at least one score. A solid effort from CJ2K here would do a lot for his value. Owners are currently searching through their league to see if they can move the running back and improve their chances of winning the championship. I urge owners to hold on for one more game and have a wait and see mentality. If he doesn’t put up this week then no one can fault you for finally pulling the trigger on a move. For this week though, wait and see. I fully expect his best game of the season and a large sigh of relief from all Chris Johnson owners.