Here are 15 random and AFC-based deep thoughts from a wildly entertaining Week 8.
But first, let's revisit a nugget from last week:
Fantasy owners, DO NOT be surprised if Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (six catches, 78 yards, two TD on Sunday) scores multiple touchdowns next week against the Rams. In his three-year career, Gronk has already pulled off that feat—in back-to-back outings—four times.
OK...back to the present.
1. Congratulations, Peyton Manning. It only took 14 healthy seasons and 215 career games to accomplish the following feat: Four straight games of 300 yards passing and three or more TD passes. And now, I've drawn the labor-intensive homework assignment of researching the all-time record for such a stat.
2. Just think of the numbers Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (222 yards passing, three TD) would have put up against the Redskins—the NFL's worst pass defense entering Sunday—if Heinz Field hadn't been battered by the early stages of "Frankenstorm" (best storm nickname...ever!). Consequently, Mike Wallace (seven catches, 62 yards) missed on a golden opportunity for 140 yards and/or two touchdowns. That aside, he's still a great play against the Giants next week, weather permitting.
3. Stevan Ridley (127 yards, one TD vs. St. Louis) has been the ultimate feast-or-famine back in fantasy circles. Four clunkers...and four superb games of 100-plus total yards and at least one touchdown. If only there was a method for distinguishing greatness from mediocrity before the games occurred.
4. If you enjoyed watching Demaryius Thomas (seven catches, 137 yards, one TD vs. New Orleans) fleece the Falcons and Saints for 15 catches, 20 targets, 215 yards and two touchdowns in Weeks 2 and 8...just wait 'till he takes on the erratic Panthers (Week 8) and Buccaneers (Week 13).
5. I may have walked away from Chiefs-Raiders wondering why Jamaal Charles tallied only 10 yards on eight touches (five carries), but hey, at least I wasn't alone. Which brings me to this: There's no point in implementing statistical probability for high-end talents like Charles...if Kansas City's head coach cannot distinguish star players from Shaun Draughn during games.
6. Poor Andrew Luck (325 total yards, one TD vs. Tennessee). Given the season-long health of fantasy's elite quarterbacks, he likely hasn't logged more than two or three starts in standard 12-team leagues—despite six games of 20-plus fantasy points. As a result, his marketability on the trade front isn't particularly high.
7. My fantasy opinion of Brandon Lloyd (two catches, 28 yards, two TD) did not change much from Sunday. In PPR leagues, he's an automatic flex starter. And for standard-scoring leagues, Lloyd's viability shall be determined on a weekly basis. It's the proper stance for a wideout with a 50 percent or less catch-to-target ratio in four of his last five games.
8. Prior to Sunday, I would have lost a ton of money betting against the following: The road-ready Dolphins hanging 30 on the Jets, but with Reggie Bush netting just 65 total yards (and zero scores). That aside, Bush remains a healthy lock for sizable numbers against the Colts in Week 9.
9. Jacksonville's Cecil Shorts (eight catches, 116 yards vs. Green Bay) has now collected double-digit targets in consecutive weeks—a telltale sign the unheralded receiver is ready to start in 12-team PPR leagues. And if Shorts can be found on waivers this week, by all means, move heaven and Earth to land him.
10. It's weird watching Carson Palmer (209 yards passing, two TD) play with a lead for three-plus quarters. A mere 14 completions and 28 pass attempts. To be fair, though, he should have finished with three touchdowns. Denarius Moore, despite his success against the Chiefs (five catches, 96 yards, one TD), would probably kill for another chance at that easy end-zone drop in the second quarter.
11. Cleveland's Josh Gordon (three catches, 46 yards vs. San Diego) gets a relative free pass for his middling numbers in the Browns-Chargers quagmire. In exchange for that, I expect Gordon (17 catches, 379 yards, four TD) to break precedent against the Ravens next week—in the form of four or more receptions.
12. It's anyone's guess where the Chargers are headed in the real world, but I can safely predict that Ryan Mathews (104 total yards vs. Cleveland) will average 108 total yards per game from Weeks 9-16. Book it!
13. Kenny Britt (three catches, 34 yards) has temporarily forfeited the right to be a weekly starting option in 12-team leagues. Yes, he had a touchdown called back against the Colts, but it was his penalty that spoiled the end-zone party. Bottom line: It's hard to remain tantalized by an athletic freak who's only averaging 35 yards per game.
14. I couldn't be happier with Rashad Jennings' stealthy fantasy goodness (115 total yards) against the Packers. It was a sweet, timely reminder that Jacksonville's running game isn't completely hopeless without Maurice Jones-Drew, should the 2011 rushing king miss substantial time to a foot injury.
And for what it's worth, I don't expect MJD back at any point this season. (There, I said it.)
15. I'll buy Shonn Greene (106 total yards vs. Miami) as a must-have RB3 from this point forward (standard-scoring leagues), regardless of who's quarterbacking the Jets (Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow).
It's simple math, really:
Three straight games of 100 total yards and/or one touchdown + a slate of Jacksonville, Tennessee and San Diego for Weeks 14-16 = Ohhhhh, yeah! (cue Kool-Aid Man redux)
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.
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