For those that have soured on Russell Wilson as one of the must-start fantasy quarterbacks, you might want to change your tune. Heck, this writer even was able to pick him up off waivers in a standard 12-team league.
Seattle is about to get an elite receiver back off the PUP list in Percy Harvin (hip), and Seattle's schedule looks rather favorable in the coming weeks:
- Week 8 at St. Louis
- Week 9 vs. Tampa Bay
- Week 10 at Atlanta
- Week 11 vs. Minnesota
- Week 12 bye
- Week 13 vs. New Orleans
- Week 14 at San Francisco
- Week 15 at New York Giants
- Week 16 vs. Arizona
Because of the slide of the Bucs, only the matchup against San Francisco looks threatening for Wilson and Harvin in the second half of the season. Wilson and Harvin could emerge as one of the most dynamic duos in fantasy in crunch time. Seriously.
For as long as Harvin stays healthy, at least.
It might be the reason the Seahawks lean toward holding him out of Monday night's contest against the Rams, despite some optimism he might be able to return that quickly after finally practicing Tuesday. Harvin told ESPN's Terry Blount:
I want to play as soon as possible, but we're trying to be smart about it and we have a plan in place. I know one pace, and that's full stride, so it's been tough. At the same time, I have to take progressions to not have any setbacks and hurt the team any further.
At first I was wondering if it would be season-ending, but the night after the surgery, I was already picking my leg up and riding a bike, so there was no doubt in my mind at that point that I could make a quick recovery. ... It feels great. I haven't had any setbacks and I'm running pretty good. I'm doing all the things I was doing previously. It's just a matter of getting back in the swing of things, and I'll be ready to go.
Pick up Harvin in all leagues on the heels of this news, but surely don't plan on him being available for your fantasy starting lineup this week. Next Sunday at home against the Bucs is far more likely. Pete Carroll didn't sound too eager to throw Harvin back out there Monday night, telling ESPN's Blount:
Percy got started [Tuesday]. It was limited involvement in practice, but he was out there running around. He looked good and looks quick. He's ready to take the next step, which happens when we come back on Thursday. We're going to take it one day at a time. ... He's got to get through normal days of practice, and we'll see how he handles it. The thought we've been going with all along is to take the conservative approach and make sure he's healthy. We're going to continue to do that. We'll take our time and see how he goes. The workload will increase as we go through the week and next week.
Harvin will have one of the most run-heavy offenses in the NFL working with (or against?) him. The idea here is that while he is a high-volume short and rhythm receiver, the play-action pass and read-option can get him one-on-one, perhaps even deep. It remains to be seen how much and how he will be used even when he does initially return.
He told ESPN's Blount:
I'm just trying to fit in and not try to do too much. They will plug me in, and we'll keep rolling. I don't look at it saying I can do it better than anybody else. We all just enjoy going out there and not knowing who's going to get the ball, using everybody and letting Russell take his shots. Me and Russell were working throughout the weekend. Our chemistry is fine. It's just a matter of getting the repetitions.
Potential Second-Half Returnees
If you missed out on Harvin off waivers—see the roster trends review below—there are some more players due to return from injury in the coming weeks. Roster stress from injuries and the bye weeks will make it tough to stash these guys immediately, but in case you have space:
- Jonathan Stewart (ankle)—Tom Sorensen of The Charlotte Observer reports Stewart likely will not start over DeAngelo Williams. That being said, Stewart's style should get him some work in the passing game and at the goal line, supplanting Mike Tolbert as the touchdown vulture.
- Shane Vereen (wrist)—Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports he is eligible to return to practice this week. A viable return date is Nov. 18 against the Panthers.
- Andre Brown (leg)—He is back at practice for the Giants, and Connor Orr of The Star-Ledger (N. J.) reports he cannot be activated before the Nov. 10 game against the Raiders.
- David Wilson (neck)—We need fewer reports of his Times Square rabbit mask exploits and Twitter battles with Rueben Randle and more reports of a potential return. He apparently is in good spirits amid potential spinal stenosis, so perhaps there is hope he returns this season and finally makes good on his oozing potential.
- Mario Manningham (knee)—He is practicing, and coach Jim Harbaugh told The Sacramento Bee he will return "soon."
Meanwhile, the 49ers are not expecting Michael Crabtree (Achilles) to return before late November. ESPN's Adam Schefter even reports that he is not expected to make a significant contribution until "playoff time." That makes Crabtree not worth owning in non-keeper formats at this point. Pick up one of the guys above.
Denver Brings Back Tandem Receivers
Every week of fantasy is different than the next, and every year is, too. Receiving tandems died down a year ago, as running backs were all the rage again. Well, we drafted all those backs in Round 1 and have mostly gotten disappointing results to date.
Oh, but passing numbers and receiving combos are back, thanks mostly to Peyton Manning and Denver's quartet of Julius Thomas, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker, the latter of whom is doing his best work of late. Thomas, Welker and Decker are on pace to become the sixth trio of 1,000-yard receivers in NFL history.
|1,000-Yard Receiving Trios|
|Arizona Cardinals||2008||Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston, Larry Fitzgerald|
|Indianapolis Colts||2004||Marvin Harrison, Brandon Stokley, Reggie Wayne|
|Atlanta Falcons||1995||Bert Emanuel, Terance Mathis, Eric Metcalf|
|Washington Redskins||1989||Gary Clark, Art Monk, Ricky Sanders|
|San Diego Chargers||1980||John Jefferson, Charlie Joiner, Kellen Winslow|
"You take your pick, they all play like No. 1 receivers," Broncos All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey said. "I don't care where they play, or where they line up, that corner is going to have his hands full."
Six receiving duos are on pace for 1,000 yards apiece, too, which would tie for the third-most in NFL history (seven in 1999 and 2009).
|Most Yards for Receiving Combos|
|Herman Moore/Brett Perriman||Detroit Lions||1995||3,174|
|Isaac Bruce/Torry Holt||St. Louis Rams||2000||3,106|
|Bill Groman/Charley Hennigan||Houston Oilers||1961||2,921|
|Ed McCaffrey/Rod Smith||Denver Broncos||2000||2,919|
|Rob Gronkowski/Wes Welker||New England Patriots||2011||2,896|
One of those current duos, Chicago's, recently lost its strong-armed quarterback for at least a month. Jay Cutler is dealing with a groin tear, and the idle Bears will have to work in Josh McCown with Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall now.
NFL Network analyst LaDainian Tomlinson had this to say about receiver duos:
We always talk about two guys are better than one, and it gives the quarterback more options on who he should throw to. Most of the time, defenses are going to have one really good corner. Well, if you have two good receivers then that's another corner that you have to have to be able to match up with that team.
While Jeffery has taken a bite out of Marshall and the Broncos receivers make each other very good instead of great, they are still working to keep their cohorts productive. Isaac Bruce, who worked in one of the all-time tandems above, said:
Offenses definitely are more productive with multiple options in the passing game. Opposing defenses can't roll coverage or double and that creates man-to-man opportunities for the receiver, which opens up the offense.
Denver has proven tandems are not a curse. They can be beneficial.
Heck, even the lowly New York Giants and struggling Eli Manning might have a 1,000-yard duo in Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks this season—or a trio if you want to anticipate Rueben Randle picking up the pace once Manning and Nicks get it going again.
Editor's note: Data and quotes in this report were provided by a news release from NFLMedia.com.
Thursday Night Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
- Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith, Greg Olsen and Panthers D/ST
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vincent Jackson
The Panthers are facing a decent Bucs defense, but Tampa Bay's offensive struggles take the wind out of its defensive sails. You should feel confident using all of your primary Panthers options in what should be a showcase performance for a rising contender, particularly defensively.
The Bucs' only sure thing in fantasy right now is Jackson, who has proven to be one of the best receivers in football since they made the change at quarterback. Jackson has the most points in a standard league at the position the past two weeks combined. Heck, throw his bye week in there the prior week: Jackson is still the highest-scoring receiver in the past three. It doesn't matter that the Panthers are sixth-best in fantasy against wide receivers. Jackson is a must-start.
- Carolina Panthers: Mike Tolbert, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn and Graham Gano
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Glennon, Mike James, Brian Leonard, Doug Martin (shoulder), Mike Williams, Tim Wright, Rian Lindell and Buccaneers D/ST
Despite modest numbers in fantasy against running backs, the Bucs have the fifth-ranked run defense in yards per game. It won't be enough to sit Williams, who can impact the game as a pass receiver, but it should be enough to sit the touchdown vulture Tolbert. Also, LaFell is just out of the top 35 options this week at receiver.
The Panthers have a defensive-minded coach in Ron Rivera, which has helped them rise the charts this year. They are No. 2 in fantasy against quarterbacks.
Roster Trends Review
We break down the most-added players in fantasy football in CBS Sports and give you a quick review by position below. If you want a comprehensive review of the top pickups for Week 8, check out my Tuesday morning review of them here.
|Week 8's Most-Added Players|
|RK||Player||POS||TM||Past %||New %||Increase|
Jake Locker has been impressive and warrants the No. 1 spot this week even heading into his bye, but a notable omission is Ben Roethlisberger, who was only added in two percent of leagues to move his ownership up to 73 percent. Meanwhile, Andy Dalton is at 90 percent. Big Ben's ownership should be a lot closer to Dalton's, especially with the Raiders on the schedule this week.
James and Chris Ivory are justifiable leading adds, while Peyton Hillis and Roy Helu are closer to being one-week wonders. Hillis will have to contend with the other Giants backs coming back from injury—including Brandon Jacobs (hamstring), Brown (leg) and perhaps Wilson (neck)—and Helu's touchdowns came in the hurry-up offense, not because he is the goal-line back over grinder Alfred Morris. James and Ivory have the opportunity to run away with the feature back role in run-heavy offenses.
It is surprising to see Harvin so low on this list. He is going to be a must-have in all leagues once he returns, and it can happen any week now. It is going to get rather competitive for him in those remaining leagues he is available in if he returns Monday night. Jarrett Boykin, Harry Douglas and Darrius Heyward-Bey all have starting jobs—Boykin only until James Jones (knee) returns—and potent quarterbacks to get them the ball.
Fantasy got it right this week, although it is easy to see Jordan Reed's burgeoning stardom after his Week 7 performance: nine catches for 134 yards and a touchdown. He is a legit starter in all fantasy leagues going forward, and, perhaps the best part, he is already through his bye week. If not for Coby Fleener heading to a bye, he would have been high on this list. Consider picking him up for potentially huge rewards with Andrew Luck needing to amp up someone's targets after losing Reggie Wayne (knee) for the season.
The Packers, Panthers, Saints and Steelers are the best of the streaming units this week. Dallas is intriguing because of the way it is scoring in fantasy, but the numbers seem a bit like smoke and mirrors right now. We wouldn't trust the Eagles or the Raiders in this, or any, week—no matter how generous the Giants (second to last) and Steelers (fourth to last) have been against opposing defenses.
Garrett Hartley is the only real prize of this group. Coming off his bye and having that dome and potent offense working in his favor, he is a kicker you can feel good about in your lineup every week the rest of the season. Mike Nugent is a matchup play, while the others on this list shouldn't have been considered at all.
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.