Five quick facts and ideas to take into consideration as you set your lineup and check the waiver wire this week.
The Jaguars Can’t Run
For the last two years, the Fred Taylor/Maurice Jones-Drew running tandem in Jacksonville was one of the most heralded in fantasy land. Taylor ran for over 1,000 yards in 2006 and 2007, scoring five touchdowns each season. Jones-Drew averaged over 800 yards and 11 touchdowns in those two years as Taylor’s accomplice. This year, the story has changed.
No one’s sure why, but the entire system in Jacksonville has fallen off. At this point, it’s officially time to stop waiting for things to straighten out. Taylor is not worth owning anymore; you can find plenty of replacements on your waiver wire. Jones-Drew is worth holding on to, but only as a third running back. His complementary receiving stats are all that make him interesting at this point.
Bench Peyton Manning
...at least for this week. Manning has been exceptionally inconsistent this season, thanks in large part to a faltering running game in Indianapolis. While Manning broke out a bit against the Patriots defense last week, it would not be the first time this season he’s shown signs of life. Manning beat up the Ravens in Week Six, before returning to his pick-happy ways against Green Bay the next week.
Here’s what you need to know: Manning is facing the league’s top defense this week in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are the league’s best passing defenders as well, allowing just 164 yards per game through the air, while totaling eight interceptions and 32 sacks. Further, seven of Manning’s nine interceptions this season have come on the road. Look for alternatives.
Matt Ryan and Chad Pennington. Yup, that Chad Pennington. In Miami this year, Pennington has shown that he’s still a viable starting quarterback in the NFL, if not every week on your fantasy roster. He is certainly worth spot-starting, though.
Pennington is sixth in the league with a passer rating over 95, he’s seventh with 1,991 passing yards, and fourth with just four interceptions thrown. You may not find him scoring at will, but he’ll give you points, and you don’t have to worry especially about him losing you any.
Matt Ryan is the up-and-comer of the season. His season-long numbers aren’t flashy, but taking a closer look reveals that he’s making serious progress. In his first four games this season, Ryan was averaging well under 200 yards per game and managed just two touchdowns (equaled by two interceptions).
Since then, in his last four games, Ryan is averaging nearly 250 yards per game and has thrown seven touchdowns (compared to just three interceptions). The Falcons are giving Ryan the ball, and he’s making the most of it, especially with a strong running game at this side.
And in case you were wondering...Those stats over the last four games came against the Bears, Packers, Eagles, and Raiders. With the exception of the Raiders, those are not exactly the league’s scrubs.
Steve Smith is a Beast, Torry Holt is…
Despite his suspension to start the season, Steve Smith is still finding himself among the league’s leaders and, in all honesty, outside of the boys in Arizona (Fitzgerald and Boldin), he’s the only wide receiver I would ever trust to bring me fantasy numbers on a regular basis.
These days, even Randy Moss and Terrell Owens are at the mercy of their quarterbacks, and the results aren’t always pretty. It’s one of the reasons I can’t stand wide receivers in fantasy football.
That said, here’s a prediction: Torry Holt’s second-half numbers will destroy his first-half numbers. First, yes, I know, that won’t exactly be hard. 32 receptions for 380-some yards and two touchdowns, those aren’t lofty goals for one of the league’s best receivers.
But, as Jim Haslett works with the Rams, Holt will find the ball more. In the second half of last week’s loss to the Cardinals, Holt actually got some recognition. No guarantees it will continue, of course. But if you’ve held on to him this long, what’s another few weeks to see if the really Torry Holt shows up. My bet is he will.
The Return of Marion Barber
And this year his name is LenDale white. White leads the league with 10 rushing touchdowns this season. More impressive, however, is that he has managed just 98 carries. So, in essence, White scores once every 10 times he touches the ball. He’s also scored in every game but two so far this season, putting himself right at the top of the league again.
50 yards per game and a touchdown averages 11 fantasy points to you every game. He still might not be the a one or two back, but he’s definitely needs to be in your lineup every week. You knew that.