Booms, Busts, Sleepers (Week 8): Stafford, Moeaki Primed For Breakout Weeks
Each week, fantasy football guru Michael Green slaves over statistics and trends to bring you the best fantasy advice this side of Bristol. Read on for the players to start (and players to sit) this week at each key position.
Take it away, Mike...
Boom: Peyton Manning (Ind) v. Houston Texans
Predicting that Peyton Manning will have a strong outing on Monday night is like prophesizing a fart joke in Adam Sandler’s next movie. But Manning owners hit the lotto this week with No. 18 going against the league’s worst pass defense.
The Texans are giving up over 300 yards per game through the air and have surrendered 14 passing touchdowns in six games this season. Add it all up and this fantasy matchup has better box office potential than Manning’s remake of “The Blind Side.”
Bust: Aaron Rodgers (GB) @ New York Jets
Mr. Rodgers' neighborhood has been a fantasy wonderland through the first half of the season. The Green Bay signal caller ranks fifth in passing yards and is top 10 in completion percentage and touchdowns. But the loss of tight end Jermichael Finley has limited what the Pro Bowl quarterback can do with the ball. His two interceptions against Minnesota last week attested to that.
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is starting to come on. He proclaimed himself 100 percent recovered from a nagging hamstring injury this week. You can’t bench a fantasy stud like Rodgers, but temper your expectations when he visits Rex Ryan’s house of horrors this Halloween weekend.
Sleeper: Matthew Stafford (Det) v. Washington Redskins
When you miss eight weeks for a team that plays in a football black hole, people tend to forget about you. Such has been the case with Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has not played since Week 1 due to a shoulder injury.
Stafford certainly picked a good time to come back as Detroit gets set to go against a Washington defense that is giving up the second most passing yards in the league. With Calvin Johnson and Jahvid Best both on the mend from injuries, Stafford will have a full arsenal at his disposal this week.
Boom: Frank Gore (SF) v. Denver Broncos
Anybody who saw what Darren McFadden did to the Broncos last week should be viewing this matchup with the same tenacity that Yogi Bear eyes a pic-a-nic basket. Gore has been one of the lone bright spots for a Niners squad that has been more disappointing than Ben Savage’s acting career since “Boy Meets World.”
There is a strong chance of rain in London (surprise) this Sunday, which means San Francisco should rely on the ground game. Add in the fact that Troy Smith is starting at quarterback and it’s looking like a busy day for Gore.
Bust: Cedric Benson (Cin) v. Miami Dolphins
Cedric has not been much of an entertainer for fantasy owners through six games and Miami’s rush defense will continue that trend. Cincinnati’s workhorse has been getting a massive amount of carries but is struggling to do much with them.
Miami’s rush defense has only allowed four touchdowns on the ground this season and held Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall to 37 yards on 15 carries last week. Don’t look for Benson to produce much more than that when he goes against the Dolphins.
Sleeper: LeGarrette Blount (TB) @ Arizona Cardinals
Better known for his right hook than his running skills at the University of Oregon, Blount is now getting a chance to showcase what he can do with his feet in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers recently announced that they plan to split carries between Blount and incumbent Cadillac Williams.
Blount’s 72 yards on 11 carries last week showed that the former Duck should be flying over Williams on the depth chart soon. Arizona’s rush defense is presently surrendering over 140 yards a game and will provide a great stage for Blount to make a fantasy splash.
Boom: Randy Moss (Min) @ New England Patriots
You know Moss circled this matchup on his calendar the second he was shipped from New England to Minnesota. Moss has put up modest numbers since being exiled from Bill Belichick’s squad, but part of that should be chalked up to learning a new offensive system.
New England is giving up the third-most yards in the league through the air and is undersized at cornerback. Regardless of whether Brett Favre decides to hobble onto the field or not, this will be a big game for Moss.
Bust: Greg Jennings (GB) @ New York Jets
Life is not going to be easy for the Green Bay passing game on Sunday and Jennings will be feeling it the most. Jennings is in line to draw coverage from Darrelle Revis for most of the game.
By now fantasy managers know all too well that a vacation on Revis Island almost always results in a productivity plunge for receivers. With Jennings blanketed, Aaron Rodgers will likely look for other options in this matchup.
Sleeper: Blair White (Ind) v. Houston Texans
White figures to be the primary benefactor from injuries to Dallas Clark and Austin Collie in the Indianapolis passing game. The undrafted rookie from Michigan State has not done much so far this season, but Peyton Manning will change that.
Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell has already given White a vote of confidence. He should have a coming out party against a Houston defense that plays with as much energy as Droopy Dog.
Boom: Jason Witten (Dal) v. Jacksonville Jaguars
With Tony Romo out with a fractured collarbone, 172-year-old Jon Kitna will be grabbing the reins for the Cowboys. Kitna moves with about as much grace as Jabba the Hutt while in the pocket. As a result, expect the new Dallas quarterback to rely on getting rid of the ball quickly to Witten on underneath routs.
The Jaguars have given up the most passing touchdowns in the league this season. Witten will add to that total in Week 8.
Bust: Vernon Davis (SF) v. Denver Broncos
Davis has yet to practice this week due to an injured ankle. But his biggest hindrance if he plays on Sunday may be quarterback Troy Smith. Smith has not thrown a touchdown pass since the 2008 NFL season.
With the team likely to be jetlagged from flying overseas to London, San Francisco head coach Mike Singletary will be even more conservative than usual on offense. Davis has scored a touchdown in four consecutive games but that streak will be lost somewhere over the Atlantic this week.
Sleeper: Tony Moeaki (KC) v. Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills have given up multiple touchdowns to tight ends in three straight games. Meanwhile, Moeaki has quietly led Kansas City in receptions in his rookie campaign.
With Matt Cassel showing signs of life at quarterback, Moeaki appears to be in line for a productive outing against the Bills. He makes a great start for anybody in search of a sneaky tight end play this week.
To reach staff writer Michael Green, click here.
Sign up for Neon Tommy's weekly e-mail newsletter.