Week 8 Fantasy Blitzkrieg
Every week during the season, I will throw out some quick observations of the previous NFL week. With the invention of the DVR and Directv’s ”Quick Bits”, I am able to watch almost every snap of every game and give you a lightning “blitz” war “krieg” to bring to your fantasy league for domination. Bring on the games!
The Jags (14) vs. the Texans (24) score is closer than how the game actually played out. Both teams did a great job defending the run early. Blaine Gabbert was knocked around and briefly left the game. His numbers don’t show (33% completion rate, 97 yards, 1 TD, and 2 interceptions) that Gabbert was better at not sensing imaginary pressure. He did, however, try to force the ball where the defense didn’t allow it. MJD was ineffective early, but kept on grinding for 74 yards with a 4 yard TD on 19 touches. While Marcedes Lewis’ numbers look to be improved with 4 receptions for 45 yards, he struggled catching the ball when it counted with his 9 targets. If the ball is not thrown directly at him, Lewis has issues adjusting to the ball. Gabbert’s favorite target, Jason Hill, had the Jags other TD. Arian Foster struggled to run the ball early, but was force-fed 33 carries that he grinded out to 112 yards and a short TD. This was a result of the long amount of time the Jacksonville defense spend on the field. Matt Schaub had a decent day completing 53% of his passes for 225 yards with a TD to Joel Dreessen and added a 2 yard TD run. Kevin Walter (6-70 yards) and Owen Daniels(4-60 yards) kept the chains moving for the Texans.
The Steelers vs the Patriots game finished the way many of their games do, one team adjusted well and the other team failed to adjust. This time, however, the Steelers varied their play on the offensive and defensive side that won them the game. New England tried to run the ball early to keep the Steelers on their toes with Kevin Faulk. Faulk’s 11 touches for 52 yards would have been good as a compliment, but they were not effective as a full-scale attack. Tom Brady was effective throwing the ball by completing 24 of 35 for 198 yards and 2 TDs (one to Deon Branch and the other to Aaron Hernandez). Rob Gronkowski was Brady’s go-to guy by catching 7 for 94 yards on 9 targets. The Patriots got to Ben Roethlisberger early and often, sacking him 5 times. Roethlisberger spent most of the day using the short field and spread out the Pats including throwing 30 times in the first half. He finished with 36 for 50-365 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 pick. Heath Miller exploited the linebackers and safeties by catching 7-85 yards on 9 targets. The Steelers o-line played very well as Rashard Mendenhall finished with 13 carries for 70 yards and added 3 catches for 22 yards receiving. Antonio Brown was targeted 15 times and caught 9 of those for 67 yards and a TD. LaMarr Woodley terrorized Brady with 2 sacks, but left early due to a leg injury. DE Brett Keisel may have had the most important moment as he stripped the ball from Brady and the fumble went through the end zone for a Steelers safety.
The NFC East prime time game was as one-sided as HC Andy Reid’s contests usually are after bye weeks. The Eagles rolled over the Cowboys. The two bright spots for Dallas were DeMarco Murray (8 carries for 74 yards) and Laurent Robinson (5 catches for 103 yards). Murray did his best running outside where he could use his speed and Robinson received a beautiful 70 yard TD bomb from Tony Romo (51% completion rate, 203 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception). Romo targeted Jason Witten 12 times, but only completed 4 for 28 yards. Romo’s top receivers, Miles Austin (3-27 yards) and Dez Bryant (3-28 yards), looked like they were in the witness protection program for much of the night. The Eagles defense swarmed early knocking Romo around for 4 sacks. LeSean McCoy slashed through the Cowboys superstar running defense and finished with 200 total yards and 2 TDs on 32 touches. Brent Celek, who has not been a part of the game plan recently, had a great day with 7 catches for 94 yards on 9 targets including a nice toe tap TD! Michael Vick was barely touched all day as he worked the middle of the field well. He finished with 50 yards rushing, completed 75% of his passes for 279 yards, and passed for 2 TDs.
The Cardinals pushed the Ravens to the brink, but came up short at the end of the day. Beanie Wells had a solid day rushing for 83 yards and a somersault TD on 22 carries. Larry Fitzgerald broke away for a 66 reception, but got tackled with the end zone just out of reach to finish with 3 receptions for 98 yards. He is being hurt by the inconsistent play of Kevin Kolb. Kolb completed 48% of his passes, 153 passing yards with a TD to Early Doucet and an interception. It didn’t help that the Ravens sacked Kolb 6 times. Rookie Patrick Peterson had a 82 yard punt return for a TD that put the Cards up 24-3. Unfortunately for Arizona, Baltimore came roaring back. Anquan Boldin was good at finding the soft spots in the zone as he caught 7 of his 12 targets for 145 yards. Boldin had several pass interference penalties in the end zone. These helped Ray Rice have an outstanding 3 short yardage TDs and 99 yards on 25 touches. Joe Flacco overcame a horrible first half to finish with 31 completions on 51 attempts for 336 yards, but did have a costly fumble and interception. Torrey Smith stretched the field as a deep threat but only connected for 3 catches for 57 yards, even though he was targeted 9 times. The last target that Smith came down with was the reason the Ravens won. The Ravens got good use out of their TEs, Ed Dickson finished with 6 catches for 46 yards and Dennis Pitta had 6 receptions for 44 yards.
In the battle of rookie quarterbacks, Christian Ponder came out the victor over Cam Newton. That is not to say that Newton did everything he could as he completed 22 of 35 passes, threw for 290 yards with 3 TD passes, and added another 53 yards on the ground. 2 fumbles did get away from him though. Steve Smith had another outstanding day with 7 receptions for 100 yards and a TD while Greg Olsen caught 4 for 74 yards and a TD from Newton. It was a missed 31 yard field goal by Olindo Mare in the last-minute that kept the game from continuing. The Vikings offense revolved around Adrian Peterson, who did his best Marshall Faulk impression, by rushing 21 times for 86 yards and a TD, then added 5 receptions for 76 yards and a TD. Percy Harvin overcame his sore ribs as he finished with 74 yards and a TD run up the middle on 7 touches. Christian Ponder was a solid 18 for 28 attempts, 236 passing yards, and the TD pass to Peterson. Jared Allen was once again the IDP beast as he had 5 tackles, a fumble recovery, forced fumble, sack, and ran down a sprinting Newton to prevent a long run.
The divisional matchup between the hapless Rams and the mighty Saints had a different ending than most thought. New Orleans seemed to lose some of their identity with Mark Ingram on the sidelines. Pierre Thomas was not a good fill-in for Ingram as it took him 11 touches to get to 34 yards and a TD. Drew Brees was once again highly accurate completing 68% of his passes for 269 yards, 1 TD, but had 2 picks. His top receiver was Lance Moore who had 7 catches for 74 yards and the TD on 10 targets. Darren Sproles continues to be the glue that kept the Saints moving the ball with 12 touches for 76 yards. Jimmy Graham finally had a quiet game by catching 4 for 39 yards on 8 targets. The Saints defense tried to rally when they were trailing the Rams as Jonathan Vilma had a fumble recovery for a short TD. The Rams defense stepped up this week as Chris Long had 3 sacks and safety Darian Stewart returned an interception for a TD to put the game out of reach. Steven Jackson looked 5 years younger as he took his 25 carries and rumbled 159 yards with 2 TDs. Jackson added another 4 catches for 32 yards and recent transplant Brandon Lloyd had 6 receptions for 53 yards and a TD. AJ Feeley (54% completion rate, 175 yards, and the TD to Lloyd) barely missed twice with Lloyd for huge gains. Rookie Greg Salas did his best Danny Amendola impression and finished with 5 catches for 47 yards on 6 targets.
The Titans game against the Colts was not for much fantasy relevance. The Colts were playing a dink and dunk style for most of the game that had Curtis Painter throwing for 250 yards, a 53% completion rate, and 2 interceptions. Painter was the team’s leading rusher with 79 yards. Delone Carter only had 47 yards on 11 touches and once again he did not seize the opportunity to keep Donald Brown (33 yards and a TD) on the bench. Both Dallas Clark (6-77 yards on 10 targets) and Pierre Garcon (7-66 yards on 15 targets) were heavily targeted and highly missed. On the Tennessee side, it looks like CJ302 is not the same as he was bottled up by one of the league’s worst run defenses for 51 yards on 17 touches. Javon Ringer made the most of his 19 touches with 102 yards as he squared up his shoulders and ran with power. Nate Washington had a good fantasy day with a short TD run and 4 receptions for 34 yards and a TD catch. Matthew Hasselbeck had a very accurate game throwing 70% completion rate, 224 yards, and the TD pass to Washington. The Titans also blocked a punt and it was recovered by Jason McCourty in the end zone, who also had 6 tackles and a pass defended.
The Bengals travelled to Seattle for a less than stellar matchup. It was a defensive battle to start that eventually the Cincinnati defense domianted as the game went on. Charlie Whitehurst started the game for the Seahawks throwing for 4-7 attempts for 52 yards before getting replaced by Tavaris Jackson (21-40-323 yards passing and 1 interception). The Seahawks couldn’t run the ball as they finished a combined 20 carries for 61 yards rushing. Jackson found Ben Obomanu on all of his 4 targets for 107 yards and completed half of his targets to Sidney Rice (7-102 yards). The Bengals defense came up big with a Brandon Tate 56 yard punt return for a TD and a 75 yard interception return from Reggie Nelson. Bernard Scott ran fine with his first opportunity to start for the Bengals (22-76 yards) and Jerome Simpson had a nice inside move for a TD on the only catch he made. The Andy Dalton (62% completion rate, a mere 168 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 picks) to AJ Green ( 4-63 yards on 10 targets) show continued including a 43 yard TD. Dalton did show a bit of his rookie side with his own tuck play that got away from him.
The Bills matchup versus the Redskins was an old-fashioned beat down. John Beck got sacked 9 times by the Bills. He had a rough day with 20-33 attempts for 208 yards and 2 interceptions. Fred Davis was the bright spot for the Redskins as he caught 8 passes for 94 yards on his 9 targets, but rolled his ankle and may be limited this week. Ryan Torain, everyone’s favorite RB replacement, showed up small with 8 carries for 14 yards. The Bills kept the Fred Jackson train moving as he put up 194 yards combined on 29 touches. Ryan Fitzpatrick made good on his new contract by completing 78% of his passes for 262 yards, 2 TDs to TE Scott Chandler, and 1 pick. Chandler caught his only 2 targets and the Buffalo defense rolled.
The Lions vs. Broncos game wasn’t as close as the 45-10 score shows. The Lions defenders were supposedly making fun of Tim Tebow’s inability to beat their stacked 8 or 9 men in the box. Tebow wasn’t the miracle worker that he was last week as he finished going 18 for 39 for 172 yards with a TD and an interception. His interception was a 100 yard TD return for CB Chris Houston. Tebow was sacked 7 times and had a fumble returned 24 yards by DE Cliff Avril for another Detroit defensive score. It wasn’t all bad as Tebow connected with Eric Decker for 6 receptions for 72 yards, a TD, and just missed converting another TD early in the game. Tebow ran for 63 yards on 10 carries, Knowshon Moreno had 14-69 rushing yards, and Lance Ball had 6 carries for 63 yards. Most of this rushing yardage occurred with the game well out of hand. Matt Stafford had an easy game to get his health back as he threw for 70%, 267 yards, and threw 3 TDs. Calvin Johnson caught 1 of those TDs (56 yards) with 6 catches for 125 yards on the day. Rookie Titus Young (4-66 yards) was left all alone for a 41 yard TD reception. Even prodigal son, Tony Scheffler, came back to the mile high and had 3 receptions for 38 yards and a TD. After Johnson scored his TD with 6 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Lions offense appeared to stop trying and gave the Broncos a chance abet a small chance.
The MNF overtime thriller between the Chiefs and the Chargers was more about the Chiefs lack of a killer instinct. Phillip Rivers looked like a robot out there, as he went through the motions; he completed 63% of his passes, threw for 369 yards, and had 2 interceptions. Antonio Gates chipped in 4 catches for 73 yards, and Malcolm Floyd made the most of his 7 targets by catching 5 of them for 107 yards. Ryan Matthews played well until he got banged up and finished with 19 touches for 112 yards. Kansas City tried grinding it out again with Jackie Battle (19 carries for 70 yards and a TD). Rookie Jonathan Baldwin stepped up in his long-awaited début with 5 catches for 82 yards and a 39 yard TD. Baldwin did line up in the slot to get a free release, while Dwayne Bowe had the most targets (11) and caught 4 for 62 yards. Matt Cassel had a mixed night completing 19 out of 32 passes for 261 yards, the TD to Baldwin, and 2 picks.