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What Did We Learn – Week 8 Edition

Jon Kitna was actually better than his numbers indicate. Kitna threw 49 passes, completing 34 of them for 379 yards. The problem was that he only threw one touchdown to go with four interceptions. But let’s look closer. Three of those four interceptions were catchable balls that his receivers basically caught and handed to the defense. He was actually efficient with the ball and made good decisions for the most part. Looking forward, the Cowboys will be throwing a lot, and Kitna will be good enough to post numbers. Miles Austin and Jason Witten will be targeted most often.

David Garrard returned in a big way. Garrard missed Week 7 with a concussion sustained the previous week. On Sunday, he looked like he’d cleared the cobwebs, as he carved up the Cowboys’ secondary like a Halloween pumpkin. He was efficient with the ball, completing 17 of 21 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns. He also scored once on the ground. I’m not sure if this was a result of Garrard getting back to the form that put him on the map a few seasons ago, or of the Dallas defense being that sketchy. For now, he’s intriguing, but only as a QB2.

Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are good. I know, that seems silly to be something I learned this week. But seriously, they’re good. Stafford had missed several games with a shoulder issue, and who knew how he’d look, and Johnson has also been hampered by injury. But both seemed fine as they teamed up on the Washington Redskins. Stafford threw four touchdowns, three of them to Johnson. I suppose if I had him on my team, I’d target him a lot, too, but they couldn’t be stopped. If they can build on this chemistry they seem to have, opposing defenses could be in serious trouble.

Jamaal Charles finally asserted himself. In a big way. True, he didn’t hit pay dirt, but he had 26 touches for 238 total yards. He got 22 carries to Thomas Jones’ 19, but more than doubled his production. Since the preseason, we’ve been waiting for this performance from Charles, and with their upcoming schedule, Charles might finish the 2010 season the same way he finished the 2009 season, when he led the league in rushing over the final eight weeks of the season.

Darrius Heyward-Bey has value. I’m not saying he’s Jerry Rice, but maybe the kid’s starting to figure things out. He was drafted way too high, and expectations were outrageous, but it takes receivers time to figure out the NFL game. Realistic organizations thought Heyward-Bey had talent, and certainly speed, but he was going to be a bit of a project. Perhaps his five catches for 105 yards and a score is a glimpse of what he could be? No? I don’t know. Watch him in the coming weeks.

Darren McFadden keeps it going. More Raider talk. McFadden only ran for 111 yards, and he didn’t score. Coming off his 165-yard, four-touchdown performance, this is a good sign for McFadden owners. I know that I wanted to see him play well in back-to-back weeks, and while the fact that it’s been against the Broncos and Seahawks is not lost on me, at some point a guy can just play. I think he’s starting to deliver on that potential Al Davis was hoping for, and owners may be able to ride it to a playoff berth.

LeGarrette Blount can play. Don’t forget that this guy was a Heisman dark horse at Oregon before he started throwing post-game haymakers at Boise State defenders. He went undrafted, but was a guy that obviously had skills. Tampa Bay grabbed him, and when Carnell ‘Cadillac’ Williams struggled, Blount stepped in. In his first NFL start, Blount racked up 120 yards and two scores on 22 carries. Again, this big performance came against a weak Arizona defense, but like McFadden, the guy can play. I like him going forward, and if an owner in your league is interested in “selling high,” then you buy low.

Steve Breaston is healthy. Breaston has been one of the best-kept secrets in the NFL. Wildly athletic, Breaston was stuck in a third receiver role with Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin in front of him the past few years. He’s now the No. 2 to Fitzgerald, getting one-on-one coverage, and making the most of it. He caught eight balls for 147 yards. Now that he’s healthy, he should be able to do more of this going forward.

Ryan Fitzpatrick can still play. Don’t ignore Fitzpatrick’s first four starts, during which he was the best quarterback in fantasy. The Chiefs are a talented, well-coached team that is better on defense this year than people may think. He still threw for 233 yards with a score and a pick and added some nice rushing numbers. I think he can still be productive, and looks to be a borderline QB1 going forward.

I don’t know what to think about Randy Moss. He’s crazy. But he’s so athletic. He caught just one pass for eight yards against his former team, but it was the post-game and the following day that really made headlines. After proclaiming his love and admiration for all things New England, Minnesota made the decision to waive him. Apparently, they think they get back that third round draft pick. Allow me to introduce you to the NFL’s return policy: there is none. Once he is officially waived, Moss will be available to any team. Possible destinations include the St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots. It’d be crazy if he wound up back in New England, and that’s actually the only place he’ll have substantial value to fantasy owners. Otherwise, he’ll have to learn yet another new offensive scheme, and fantasy owners will be better off looking elsewhere. If you’re a Moss owner, you’re rooting for the Patriots to land him once again.

A reminder that Denver, Jacksonville, St. Louis, San Francisco, Tennessee and Washington have byes this week. Plan accordingly.

Good luck in Week 9.

Drew Magyar is a staff writer and can be reached at

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