The Oakland Raiders will score 59 points in a game when hell freezes over. The Cleveland Browns will nearly double the defending champion New Orleans Saints’ score in the Superdome when pigs fly. Obviously, these are humorous exaggerations how odd Week 7 ended. If Baltimore had not been able to edge Buffalo in overtime, I would have been forced to use another comical idiom. If every week was this “out of the ordinary,” projecting fantasy stats would be even more difficult than it already is. All sports fans are aware of upsets and uncommon performances, but it seems every game in Week 7 had one form of unexpected result. Although I appreciate these exceptions as a fan, I cannot let them dictate how I forecast Week 8’s “The Dive.”
Jon Kitna – After Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo was lassoed by New York Giants’ linebacker Michael Boley due to a missed blocking assignment from rookie fullback Chris Gronkowski, Dallas’ playoff hopes faded into the sunset. Romo will miss 6-8 weeks with a broken clavicle and the 38-year-old veteran Kitna will now be in the saddle. If you lost Romo, then you may be forced to pick up Kitna or another formidable replacement for the next two months or even rest of the season depending on Romo’s rehabilitation progress. Without any time to prepare, Kitna nearly led Dallas to a comeback against the Giants by throwing for 187 yards and two touchdowns. Although Dallas’ plan of escaping the NFC basement may be doubtful, Kitna will have an enticing matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars’ poor pass defense that has allowed 16 passing touchdowns, more than any other team. With Dez Bryant and Jason Witten heating up, Kitna will have more than enough weapons to throw to despite not starting since 2008, and will herd Dallas to victory with more than 200 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Ryan Torain – After being impenetrable against the run, the Chicago Bears’ defense has allowed teams to rush for more than 100 yards in three of the last four contests. They were most recently tamed by the Washington Redskins’ running back who ran for 125 yards with an average of six yards per carry. After earning 100 yards rushing in back-to-back games, coach Mike Shanahan has increased his workload. In Week 8, Torain faces the 27th ranked rush defense that allows more than 138 yards per game on the ground. Before you decide to hop aboard Washington’s “Choo Choo Torain,” keep an eye out for veteran Clinton Portis, who plans to return in Week 10. Torain will certainly lose carries if Portis returns healthy. With Donovan McNabb struggling, the Redskins should lean heavily on Torain this week so start him with confidence as he will top 100 rushing yards and score at least once.
Steve Johnson – Although Johnson’s numbers last weekend were impressive, the success of Buffalo’s offense recently has been due to the quarterback play of Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has thrown for nearly 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns in the four games that he has started. Nevertheless, Johnson has caught 25 of his 28 targets this year and scored five touchdowns in the last four games. Although the Buffalo Bills are the only winless team left in the NFL, they have averaged 26 points over the last four games against solid defenses including the New England Patriots, New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens. Johnson is an attractive pickup and should continue to produce for Buffalo as long as Fitzpatrick is commanding the offense. However, Johnson’s sizzling start may cool off as he plays the defenses of Kansas City, Chicago and Pittsburgh in the next few weeks. If you were fortunate enough to have picked up Johnson, you may want to shop him for another receiver with a friendlier schedule. With Fitzpatrick’s aerial assault gradually subsiding, I predict 70 yards receiving and no touchdowns this week, which is still very promising.
Jacob Tamme – Who? Yes I know. You are not familiar and probably unsure how to pronounce his name, but I would recommend learning it especially if you lost Dallas Clark in Week 6 or have a tight end going on a bye week soon (see Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis). With only six career receptions, Tamme (pronounced “TAM-mee”) has the opportunity to break out as he will be replacing Clark and catching passes from Peyton Manning for the rest of the season. With two weeks to take snaps with Manning and a matchup against the second-worst defense in guarding tight ends, you may want to give Tamme a look. With Austin Collie likely sitting after thumb surgery and Colts’ running backs Joseph Addai and Donald Brown not practicing, Manning may give Tamme more attention than he gives Justin Timberlake in those corny Sony commercials. Although I do not expect Tamme to replicate Clark’s performance against Houston of 11 catches, 80 yards and a score, I will go out on a limb and predict the new starting Colts tight end, and so-called clone of Clark, to receive at least 60 yards and a score as Indianapolis seeks revenge on the Texans.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – This is the second week in a row that I am picking on the Arizona Cardinals, but I have to. The Cardinals’ former high-flying offense has now sputtered to averaging the lowest yards per game in the NFL with 237.8. In addition, Arizona leads the league in fumbling and is tied for second in sacks allowed. Although Tampa Bay’s defense is not the elite fortress of several years ago, this is a perfect matchup for the Buccaneers to pillage Arizona’s dismal offense. Although they rank last in the league in sacks, Tampa Bay is tied for fourth in interceptions and should be a decent spot start against the Cardinals. If you are worried about your defense being stretched against a top offense this week, you may want to consider streaming Tampa Bay for Week 8. You may even choose to sail on the Buccaneers ship for a few more weeks as they will battle two more weak offenses in the coming weeks, Carolina and San Francisco.
Good luck in Week 8 and have a Happy Halloween.