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Bench Alex Smith
San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith faces my toughest Week 8 opponent for fantasy QBs in the Arizona Cardinals.
Smith's 31-point fantasy explosion against Buffalo in Week 5 and his two borderline-elite fantasy performances to start the 2012 NFL season have been long forgotten by many as we head into the midseason mark.
And rightfully so. Smith has looked absolutely pathetic over the last two weeks, and the last time he traveled to Arizona, Smith put up a 7-point stinker against a team that was not as tough to throw on as this 2012 group. If you have been relying on Smith to start the 2012 season, congratulations if you're still in it. The rest of your team must be really, really good.
For this week, get him out of your lineups and look for other options as bye week fill-ins should you happen to own Joe Flacoo, Andy Dalton or Matt Schaub, who are all on Week 8 byes.
I would start any of the following widely-available free agents over Smith in Week 8 (in this order):
1) Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs- Available in 53 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
2) Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans vs. Indianapolis Colts- Available in 88 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
3) Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns at San Diego Chargers- Available in 79 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
4) Mark Sanchez, New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins- Available in 87 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
5) Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams vs. New England Patriots- Available in 79 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Roll With Cam Newton
This matchup is about as horrible as the sweater Newton wore to his press conference following Carolina's Week 7 loss at home vs. the Dallas Cowboys.
Owning Newton has been the type of "bad dream" in 2012 that you're not sure you can classify as a nightmare, but still think of as very creepy and unsettling.
The point remains that Newton is averaging 16.69 points per game in 2012 standard leagues. These points have not come in a consistent fashion by any measure, but they have come. I have calculated the Chicago Bears as my fourth-worst matchup for opposing QBs coming into Week 8 which makes my advice seem even more counter-intuitive, so let me qualify it:
1) If you own Cam Newton, your season has no doubt already been defined somewhat by his inconsistency. You can either choose to abandon that now (along with the huge upside that has come with it), or choose to roll with the punches and hope things shake out down the stretch.
2) This is a different Carolina team in Week 8 than we have seen all season.HC Ron Rivera is on the ropes and literally coaching for his career in a second-half stretch that is ironically beginning at the very site at which Ron Rivera crafted so many championship-level performances as a player in the 1980s. For better or for worse, this is a team that will be playing like they have nothing to lose, and I love that for Newton.
3) Matchups only mean so much, and that is why I only use them in tie-breaker situations. Case in point: Newton's biggest game this season came Week 4 on the road in Atlanta to the tune of 31.1 points in standard leagues. This game is very similar. I had Atlanta ranked as my seventh-worst matchup for opposing QBs coming into Week 4, and the contest seemed like it meant more than the usual game, being in-division after a 1-2 start against a team that the media had seemingly already crowned as one of the league's elite. While Newton fell just short of putting a "W" in the Panthers stat column, he did a number in those of his fantasy owners.
4) If you own Newton, you are unlikely to roster a backup QB who will fare better in Week 8. If you drafted a backup for Newton late such as Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Phillip Rivers or Jay Cutler, then you should be starting all four of those guys over Newton. The fact is, you likely didn't and all of those players will be unavailable on your waiver wires, leaving only risky options that offer the same floor but nowhere near the upside of Cam Newton.