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Flames: Jennings’ reemergence ignites ‘Cat Scratch Fever’

Brad Evans
Roto Arcade

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Jennings, discarded by most weeks ago, is no longer hiding in the shadows. (USP)

Each week the Noise highlights 12-13 somewhat obscure, unobvious names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post the results, whether genius or moronic, the following week using the scoring system shown here. If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, post your Week 8 Flames in the comments section below.

Philip Rivers, SD, QB (28-percent started)
Matchup: at Cle
This season, Rivers' waters have been quite muddy. Already equipped with a throwing motion akin to a prepubescent girl, his mechanics look as disgusting as ever. So does his decision-making. Similar to last year, he's trying to thread balls through pin-holes, an obvious exercise in futility. His humiliating six turnover meltdown in the disaster versus Denver, an underperformance he blamed on "poor throws," was a prime example. Though he's on pace to set a new career high in completion percentage (66.5), his dipping YPA ('11: 7.9, '12: 7.1) and subsequent nosedive in YPG (289.0, 248.7) are very disconcerting. The primary reason for the drop-off stems from substandard protection. Rivers has been placed under duress on 37.3-percent of his attempts, resulting in a 42.1 QB rating in pressure packed situations. Despite the concerns, Cleveland is an adversary worth taking advantage of. Even with Joe Haden back in uniform, the Browns are a favorable opponent. Signal callers have scored at least two touchdowns in every game against the Chihuahuas this year. They've also allowed 289.2 passing yards per game. Fresh off the bye, Rivers will showcase vintage form. Start him with confidence.

Fearless Forecast: 23-38, 278 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 20.9 fantasy points

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Rashad Jennings, Jax, RB (18-percent started)
Matchup: at GB
Sift through the Roto Arcade archives and chances are you'll stumble across thousands of hyperbolic words about Jennings, authored by some loudmouthed buffoon with a plunging hairline. Yes, my infatuation for the backup is well-known. His three-down skill set, plus power and intimidating size have always seduced me. Now in the pole position with MJD out for "an extended period" due to a sprained arch, my feelings for the rusher, best expressed through song, are again a threat to most individuals' comfort level. Yes, his 2.1 yards per carry last week in Oakland didn't light the world on fire, but his workload can't be ignored. With no competition, he should tally upwards of 20-25 touches per week moving forward, including this week at Lambeau. The Packers run defense has steadily improved after getting thrashed by Frank Gore in Week 1. Over its past five games, Green Bay has allowed just 3.7 yards per carry to RBs. Still, the Jag's healthy volume is fantasy catnip. Regardless of the matchup, he deserves strong RB2 consideration in 12-team and deeper formats, particularly PPR leagues.

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Fearless Forecast: 20 carries, 74 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 28 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 13.9 fantasy points

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Michael Bush, Chi, RB (36-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Car
Speaking as an ardent consumer of the Silver Bullet, it's rare BUSH! is imbibed in this space, but this week it's worth shot-gunning in massive quantities. When it comes to defending the run, the Panthers are lightweights. A near lifeless slug could slime a 100-yard, 1-TD trail against them. In six games this season, six running backs have eclipsed the 10-point fantasy mark versus Carolina, including waste of roster space Mark Ingram. Overall, the Panthers have surrendered 184.3 total yards per game and 4.7 yards per carry to RBs this year. Now with Matt Forte operating at full capacity, Bush is only seeing roughly 18-23 snaps per game, but he continues to work as a bloodhound near the goal-line. Given the fantastic matchup, look for his nose to guide him to the end-zone. Chicago, which is starting to click offensively, should benefit from what its defense gifts them. A goal-to-go opportunity or three could be in the offing for Bush. Slot him into your FLEX or RB2 spot in competitive formats this week.

Fearless Forecast: 10 carries, 51 rushing yards, 2 receptions 12 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13.8 fantasy points

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Chris Givens, StL, WR (4-percent started)
Matchup: vs. NE
Shades of another home run hitting Givens, Ernest, the Rams' version is quickly becoming of the league's premier deep threats. The fleet-footed wideout has recorded a catch of 50 or more yards in four straight games. Essentially, he's everything Danario Alexander was supposed to be. His limited route tree continues to be a hinderance, but he's seen action on 74.5 percent of the Rams' snaps since Week 4. The coaching staff has come up with new, creative ways to get Givens the ball in space, evident in last week's loss to Green Bay. On a simple dump-off, the rookie zig-zagged his way through Packers for a 56-yard gain. More explosive plays are on the docket in Week 8. No defense has allowed more pass plays of 20-plus yards than the Patriots. Corner Kyle Arrington has been especially generous. On the season, his assignments have averaged 15.6 yards per catch and hauled in 80.6 percent of passess targeted. In what should be a voluminous afternoon for Sam Bradford, Givens will deliver terrific WR3 numbers in challenging formats.

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 79 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.9 fantasy points

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Jeremy Kerley, NYJ, WR (25-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Mia
Over the past few weeks, the Jets have been a popular punchline in fantasy circles. Most would agree watching Hulk Hogan fornicate on film offers more excitement than employing the services of any Jet. But Kerley is trying to change that perception. Though the end-zone has remained elusive, the shifty wideout has totaled 8.7 targets, 5.0 receptions and 79.3 yards per game over the past three weeks. His 120 yards last week against New England established a new career high, prompting Mark Sanchez to wax poetically about him post-game. Expect Kerley to carry over momentum into a huge clash with Miami. The Dolphins are one of the league's most rigid defenses against the run, but near opposite verus the pass. Sean Smith and Richard Marshall have executed well at times, but Kerley's open-field slipperiness and route savvy will likely prove problematic. PPR owner, continue to disrespect 'The Kernel' and you deserve to scrub toliets with a toothbrush.

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 75 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 17.3 fantasy points

SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10-percent started)

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Peyton Hillis, KC, RB (3-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Oak
Admittedly, Hillis was a staple on the Noise's preseason sleeper list. Just two years removed from his remarkable breakout campaign in Cleveland and reteamed with former Browns offensive coordinator Brian Daboll in KC, his immediate future seemed blindingly bright. However a high ankle sprain dashed hopes for a rebound. At least, temporarily. With several weeks left on the docket, there's still time for Hillis to regain respectability. Back at practice this week, Romeo Crennel is optimistic he'll be in uniform against division rival Oakland Sunday. It's unknown exactly how many touches he'll net. Shaun Draughn and Cyrus Gray filled the void blandly in his absence, averaging a combined 14.0 touches per game and 2.6 yards per carry. But with the staff seemingly committed to reduce Jamaal Charles' workload, the complement should carve out a substantial role immediately. Oakland has tightened the defensive screws over the past couple weeks, but remains an exploitable unit, especially away. The Raiders have given up 4.9 yards per carry in road games. Don't be surprised if the Chiefs, well-rested and determined to jumpstart their offense, lean heavily on JC and The Battering Ram with Brady Quinn under center. If you're in dire straits for a FLEX option, head for the Hillis.

Fearless Forecast: 12 carries, 54 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 13 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.9 fantasy points

BONUS WEEK 8 FLAMES

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TEAM HUEVOS PICKS OF THE WEEK

Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their "Flames" (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Mondays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?

Reader Record: 21-27 (43.8%)

Can't get enough Andy Behrens, Brandon Funston, Scott Pianowski, Dalton Del Don and "The Noise?" Listen to The Fantasy Freak Show (Now on iTunes) every Friday at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on Yahoo! Sports Radio

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