Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 8 of the 2012 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts at Titans. Luck hasn’t thrown a TD pass since Week 5, but he scrambled in for two scores last week. He won’t have as much trouble finding open receivers on Sunday against the league’s passing doormat. He’s a strong starting option for those owners without an elite passer.
Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos vs. Saints. After a week of rest, McGahee has the good fortune of facing the league’s second-worst rush defense. In this likely shootout, there will be plenty of opportunities for McGahee to gash the Saints as both a runner and receiver.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Jaguars at Packers. Though this contest could get out of hand quickly for the Jags, Jennings’ strong receiving skills make him an attractive prospect. Green Bay sports a mediocre run defense, so Jennings will have a chance to produce in both phases, even if his team is playing catch-up early.
Josh Gordon, WR, Browns vs. Chargers. The rookie has reeled in four TDs (and should have had a fifth) over the past three weeks, but still just seven total receptions over that span. San Diego’s defense is stout against the run, but woefully soft vs. the pass. Given Trent Richardson’s rib problems, Brandon Weeden will be looking to his play-making wideout often in this very favorable matchup.
Randall Cobb, WR, Packers vs. Jaguars. While Aaron Rodgers is en fuego, his primary wideouts are must-starts. Cobb has emerged over the past three weeks as a viable replacement for Greg Jennings (who is headed for surgery), and James Jones remains attractive despite an off week against the Rams. Jacksonville doesn’t stand a chance against this aerial attack.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers; RBs Frank Gore, Chris Johnson, Reggie Bush, Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles; WRs Reggie Wayne, Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Lance Moore, Antonio Brown, Brandon Gibson, Dwayne Bowe, Denarius Moore, Miles Austin, Jeremy Maclin.
Roll ‘em back
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers at Bears. I’m not breaking any news that Newton is in the midst of a serious sophomore slump. Heading to the Windy City against arguably the NFL’s most fearsome defense, the beleaguered passer is a dubious fantasy prospect. He’s not even likely to compensate for his aerial deficiencies with a strong rushing performance this week.
Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys vs. Giants. Though DeMarco Murray is most likely to sit out another game, Jones showed last week why he can’t be trusted as a primary ball carrier. On top of that, “Fragile Felix” is dealing with a bruised knee. That likely means more Philip Tanner sightings and limited fantasy production, despite the favorable matchup.
LaRod Stephens-Howling, RB, Cardinals vs. 49ers. Not only is he facing a solid, though no longer impenetrable, 49ers run defense, but Stephens-Howling still must share the load with William Powell. LSH received the bulk of the carries in Week 7 because he had the proverbial “hot hand;” but the temperature in Arizona can change at a moment’s notice.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles vs. Falcons. Michael Vick’s turnover problems may be magnified more than ever in this matchup with Atlanta’s ball-hawking secondary. Meanwhile, Jackson is playing second fiddle to Jeremy Maclin, making him a bad bet to notch his second TD or 100-yard receiving game of the season.
Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers at Cardinals. With just seven receptions for 57 yards over the past two games, Crabtree has fallen dramatically from his Week 5 high. Against the stingy Arizona pass defense, a rebound is unlikely.
More thumbs down: QBs Matt Stafford, Michael Vick, Alex Smith, Ryan Tannehill; RBs Trent Richardson, Pierre Thomas, Mikel Leshoure, Stevan Ridley, DeAngelo Williams; WRs Jeremy Kerley, Kevin Ogletree, Sidney Rice, Kenny Britt.
TAKING A FLIER
Alex Green, RB, Packers vs. Jaguars. Who needs a running game when Rodgers is your QB? A valid question, to be sure. But the Packers know they must generate a credible ground attack to vie for another championship, and they are giving Green every opportunity to prove himself. This could be the week the rookie finally breaks through, against the pathetic Jaguars rush defense.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…lets Danny Amendola remain a free agent any longer. His owner shouldn’t have released him in the first place, after the trusty wideout suffered a clavicle injury in Week 5. But if he did, you should swoop in now. Amendola’s rehab has been accelerated, and he is currently targeting a Week 10 return. Available in roughly half of all leagues, he can help you down the stretch, especially in PPR leagues.