Week 8: Where the Worry starts to set in.
You know the worry. "My team has a bad schedule for the playoffs!" or "I'm only at 3-4 and need RB help, let me trade Roddy White for Alex Green RIGHT NOW" or "You know, Brandon Weeden really doesn't look like he'd be that bad of a Philip Rivers replacement..."
Stop it. I've been there, and it's not a fun place. But there are people who can help.
And that's where we come in. As part of numberFire.com, a sports analytics website that crunches out some of the most accurate fantasy projections on the web, I'm here to bring you the top 10 players at each skill position.
The fantasy points given here are based on math(!), so don't argue with me; argue with the numbers. The fantasy points given here are based off of a standard ESPN league scoring system.
If you want to see the full rankings (including defenses and kickers) and individual stat projections, head over to numberFire. But if you want the top 10s, read on, my friend.
Projected Stats: 276.95 pass yards, 2.45 pass TDs, 0.57 INTs, 13.24 rush yards, 0.10 rush TDs
Standard League Fantasy Points: 21.26 FP
Week 8 Opponent: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
It's not tough to look at the stats and see how good Rodgers has been over the past two weeks. Compiling 680 yards and nine TDs combined over the past two weeks, against two defenses in the top half of the league according to numberFire's opponent-adjusted power rankings is something I'd take that in a heartbeat.
But to truly know how good Rodgers has been, you need to look at one of numberFire's favorite metrics: Net Expected Points (NEP). The idea behind NEP is simple: how many points do you contribute to your team over an average NFL player? (For a longer explanation, check out our MVP Watch from this week.)
Well, over the past two weeks, Rodgers has contributed 56.46 NEP to the Packers. To put that in easier terms, that means that if the Packers had an average player instead of Rodgers at QB (say, Matt Hasselbeck), the Packers would have scored more than four touchdowns less per game over the past two weeks.
And against Jacksonville, don't expect any signs of Rodgers slowing down. The Jaguars have allowed at least one passing touchdown and 240 yards in each of their past four games, facing the not-so-murderer's row of Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Jay Cutler and Carson Palmer.
The Best of the Rest
2. Peyton Manning (vs. NO): 20.72 FP
3. Robert Griffin III (@ PIT): 20.41 FP
4. Drew Brees (@ DEN): 20.08 FP
5. Ben Roethlisberger (vs. WAS): 19.63 FP
6. Tom Brady (@ STL): 19.32 FP
7. Eli Manning (@ DAL): 19.22 FP
8. Matt Ryan (@ PHI): 16.94 FP
9. Jay Cutler (vs. CAR): 15.75 FP
10. Philip Rivers (@ CLE): 15.69 FP
Projected Stats: 19.12 rush attempts, 92,25 rush yards, 0.47 rush TDs, 3.60 receptions, 34.10 receiving yards, 0.14 receiving TDs
Standard League Fantasy Points: 15.64 FP
Week 8 Opponent: vs. Oakland Raiders
The case against Charles is strong. Yes, I know that he only had four FP in his last game. You don't have to tell me that he has only put up double-digit points in half of his games this year. And I'm somewhat scared by the Shaun Draughn vulture factor as well.
But look some of the stats numberFire has dug out, and all that fear instantly melts away.
I asked numberFire Chief Analyst Keith Goldner to take a look at the top 10 player/game situations that Charles' matchup against Oakland's No. 21 run defense most closely resembles. In order to keep our projections close to home, all games looked at were from the 2000 season on.
We found that Jamaal Charles compares very favorably to Steven Jackson circa 2008, as well as Justin Fargas 2007. You'll see a lot of them in this list. And the results make you pumped for this week's game.
|Player Name||Week/Year||Rush Yards||Total TDs||FP||Similarity %|
|S. Jackson||Week 7, '08||160||3||35.1||89.93|
|S. Jackson||Week 9, '08||16||0||-0.4||89.85|
|S. Jackson||Week 17, '08||161||2||33.5||89.38|
|J. Fargas||Week 9, '07||104||1||17.9||89.19|
|S. Jackson||Week 14, '08||64||0||8.7||89.06|
|S. Jackson||Week 16, '08||108||0||11.9||88.88|
|S. Jackson||Week 13, '08||94||0||11||86.92|
|J. Fargas||Week 13, '07||146||1||20.4||86.4|
|S. Jackson||Week 15, '08||91||1||18.7||86.2|
|F. Gore||Week 11, '06||212||0||21.8||85.64|
Look particularly at those FP numbers: only two games were in single-digits; only one game fell below eight FP. A Jamaal Charles breakout could certainly be in the cards against Oakland much like it was for Charles against New Orleans.
The Best of the Rest
2. Adrian Peterson (vs. TB): 14.02 FP
3. LeSean McCoy (vs. ATL): 13.66 FP
4. Alfred Morris (@ PIT): 13.54 FP
5. Marshawn Lynch (@ DET): 13.33 FP
6. Darren McFadden (@ KC): 8.83 FP
7. Willis McGahee (vs. NO): 8.83 FP
8. Ryan Mathews (@ CLE): 8.40 FP
9. Matt Forte (vs. CAR): 8.25 FP
10. Chris Johnson (vs. IND): 7.95 FP
Projected Stats: 6.83 receptions, 100.78 receiving yards, 0.85 receiving TDs
Standard League Fantasy Points: 15.02 FP
Week 8 Opponent: vs. Dallas Cowboys
Remember last week, when I talked all about how Cruz would take the world by storm? I'd say 131 yards, a touchdown, and 19 Fantasy Points was a solid way to reach that goal.
Even though 77 of his 131 yards came on one late play, I was still greatly encouraged by Cruz's day. And the main reason was those ever-present targets; his 11 looks were first on the Giants and represented 27.5 percent of Eli Manning's throws.
The Salsa Man has now put up double-digit targets in three of his past four games, and he has not had a game with less than eight targets the entire season. I don't expect that to stop against the Cowboys either, as he had 11 looks (34 percent of Eli's throws) against them back in Week 1.
This week, Cruz has the highest yardage projection of any wide receiver and second-highest touchdown projection behind Jordy Nelson. There will be fireworks in Dallas, and there's a good shot Cruz will be the main cause of some.
The Best of the Rest
2. Percy Harvin (vs. TB): 13.81 FP
3. Jordy Nelson (vs. JAC): 13.67 FP
4. Reggie Wayne (@ TEN): 13.32 FP
5. Wes Welker (@ STL): 13.02 FP
6. Marques Colston (@ DEN): 12.88 FP
7. Roddy White (@ PHI): 12.86 FP
8. Brandon Marshall (vs. CAR): 12.54 FP
9. Calvin Johnson (vs. SEA): 12.08 FP
10. Eric Decker (vs. NO): 11.87 FP
Projected Stats: 4.70 receptions, 64.78 receiving yards, 0.47 receiving TDs
Standard League Fantasy Points: 9.24 FP
Week 8 Opponent: at St. Louis Rams
Don't worry I know your thought process. Rob Gronkowski at the top of the tight end charts, what a shocker! Next, you're going to tell me that Drew Brees might throw for a touchdown, right?
Hold your horses, Mr. (or Ms.) Sarcastic. It's not that cut and dry. Gronkowski does have a few downsides, most namely a Rams defense that ranks as numberFire's No. 15 opponent-adjusted defensive unit on the season. That same Rams team that only allowed two catches for 31 yards to Jermichael Finley in Week 7.
However, the Gronk is just too good to be denied. Gronkowski led the Patriots with nine targets in against the Jets; that marked his second straight week with at least eight Tom Brady looks. The tight end has gotten five targets in all but one game (Baltimore), and he has led New England three different times this year in that category.
But it's not just the looks that puts Gronkowski above and beyond; it's how well he's able to convert them into big plays. His 68.6 percent catch rate is in the upper tier of tight ends, his 434 yards receiving leads all tight ends, and his five touchdowns puts him tied for the lead in that category as well.
The Best of the Rest
2. Jimmy Graham (@ DEN): 8.83 FP
3. Antonio Gates (@ CLE): 8.40 FP
4. Jason Witten (vs. NYG): 8.25 FP
5. Aaron Hernandez (@ STL): 7.95 FP
6. Heath Miller (vs. WAS): 7.82 FP
7. Tony Gonzalez (@ PHI): 7.71 FP
8. Jared Cook (vs. IND): 7.34 FP
9. Kyle Rudolph (vs. NYG): 6.08 FP
10. Martellus Bennett (vs. TB): 5.88 FP
For full rankings, refer to numberFire's Full Projection List for Week 7. You can follow numberFire on Twitter @numberFire or the author @ZachWWarren. The author takes no responsibility for any Victor Cruz Salsa Class injuries that may affect the order of these lists.