Fantasy is a speculative game. Predict the future, and you look like a genius. Don't, and you're painfully human. Gazing into the crystal ball, here's our view on 10 intriguing over/unders this week.
Shockingly, the Rams, one of the more pliable defenses in the league, held Beast Mode in check, limiting him to just 27 rushing yards. Total yards Chris Johnson rolls up in the followup against St. Louis 89.5
Brandon – UNDER. Johnson has been under 40 rushing yards in four straight games. Yes, his involvement in the passing game has picked him up lately, but he's not to the point where you can count on significant aerial contributions. I think he ultimately falls 5-10 yards shy of this number.
Scott – UNDER, UNDER, and UNDER. I've given up on Johnson, and I could see Shonn Greene getting plenty of work forward. The two best days of CJ ownership: his bye week, and the day you finally dump him in trade.
Brad – OVER. Don't lock yourself in the panic room, CJ2Lame owners. Mike Munchak's comments about Shonn Greene getting 15-carries per game moving forward were a bit wacky. Sure, Johnson's plodding sidekick will dominate short-yardage and goal-line work, but the starter is the definition of home run hitter who can post sizable fantasy numbers in a flash. Against a Rams D that's given up 12 runs of 15-plus yards, CJ sails past the proposed total.
Rob Gronkowski, off his worst single-game performance since early 2012, receiving yards against Pittsburgh, the stiffest pass defense in the league 69.5
Scott – UNDER. The runaway optimism on Gronk needs to be reeled in. Let's see it on the field, first. And Tom Brady doesn't look sharp or completely healthy.
Brad – UNDER. No tight end has surpassed this number against the Steelers this year. Given Tom Brady's general dreadfulness and Pittsburgh's pinching secondary, Gronk finishes with five catches for roughly 55 yards.
Andy – OVER. Even though we're at the halfway point in the season, the Steelers still haven't faced a great tight end, or an exceptional offense. Just check the schedule. It's ridiculous that the team is 2-5 versus that slate. In any case, my point is that I'm not ready to call this a shut-down defense. I see no obvious reason to fear Pittsburgh. Gronk should get his.
In what is surely just coincidence, Alfred Morris is trapped in a TD rollercoaster pattern. His 2013 TD log reads: 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1. Facing a Chargers defense that has yet to allow a RB to cross the chalk this year, TDs for The Butler this week .5
Brad – UNDER. Yes, streaks are made to be broken, but the Chargers have yet to surrender a TD this year. San Diego controls the trenches and deflects the Butler from the end-zone.
Andy – OVER. I'll give him one, but no more. San Diego's defense has allowed 4.8 YPC, so it's not as if that team completely eliminates your running game.
Dalton – UNDER. I expect a shootout, but as mentioned, San Diego hasn't allowed a rushing score by a back this year, and depending on the offensive package at the time, Roy Helu could be in the mix for carries inside the red zone.
QB conundrum. Pick a mobile thrower: Terrelle Pryor (vs. Phi), Jake Locker (at StL) or Alex Smith (vs. Buf).
Dalton – PRYOR. I realize he was essentially worthless after his NFL-record 93-yard TD run to open last week's game, and Buffalo is the more favorable matchup. But Pryor has gotten a decent 7.3 YPA while averaging 65.2 rushing yards per game this season and offers the most upside among this trio.
Andy – LOCKER. He's a top-10 play for me this week, facing a defense that allows 8.4 yards per attempt, a terrible number. Locker has quietly played well, plus you get the rushing safety net.
Brandon – PRYOR. The Silver-n-Black quarterback gets a slight nod over Locker, but I like both as top 10 caliber options this week. Pryor leads all QBs in rushing yards per game (66) and he's got a good chance to pad his numbers with some decent passing numbers as Philly is one of only two teams in the league allowing more than 300 passing yards per game.
Dexter McCluster, the inspiration for a certain clever expletive-laced fantasy team name (The McCluster&#%$@), total Week 9 receptions off a seven catch effort last Sunday 5.5
Dalton – UNDER. If a WR averaged 6.0 catches per week, he'd finish with 96 receptions in a season, and I don't see McCluster as that type of receiver at all. Although to be fair Buffalo has yielded the most fantasy points to opposing wideouts this year.
Brandon – OVER. I think KC is finally doing what they've talked of doing from time to time since the preseason, which is figuring out a way to get McCluster more touches. He's picked up nice yardage the past couple weeks, and he fits QB Alex Smith's dink-n-dunk style. I think he'll finish this week with 5-6 catches, so the number seems right on. But I'm a glass half full guy, so I'll lean to the side of more rather than less.
Scott – UNDER. He's topped that number once in eight weeks. Let's not overcomplicate this.
Kenny Stills was arguably the biggest breakout receiver not named Marvin Jones in Week 8, burning Buffalo for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Yards against another AFC East foe, New York, 64.5
Brandon – UNDER. He's the Saints' new Robert Meachem, a big-play guy with a low volume workload. He's only good for 2-3 catches in a given week and, coming off two straight games in which he made big plays for touchdowns, the Jets won't be caught off guard by Stills' big-play potential. I have Stills down for two catches which, at his 25 yards per catch clip, puts him a little shy of the number here.
Scott – UNDER, not that I'm against Stills. He's going to be a high-variance player, someone who clicks on a deep ball or two every few weeks. Outdoors and against a Jets defense sure to be high on Stills alert, I'm expecting a downturn Week 9.
Brad – OVER, by a nose hair. The Jets were bombarded by Andy Dalton and company last week and could face similar problems this week against the league's most prolific passing attack. Stills is what Devery Henderson/Robert Meachem used to be, an explosive downfield playmaker. The workload will be light, but he sneaks over this number.
Stick with the Saints, human Tootsie Roll Darren Sproles, who's been a fantasy boogeyman the past three weeks, total yards against the unforgiving Jets 49.5
Scott – Here's where I go OVER, well over in fact. Sean Payton revises the NO game plan for every week, and he knows the Jets linebackers can be exploited in pass coverage.
Brad – UNDER. Casper-like over the past three weeks, Sproles' dependability has vanished. He hasn't eclipsed this number in two of his past three games. Most worrisome, the Jets have allowed just 3.6 receptions per game and 17.1 receiving yards per game to RBs. Expect another yack-worthy effort.
Andy – OVER. He's done this five times in seven games this season. Don't let one do-nothing week get you down on Sproles. You knew the Saints' offense was going to be a carnival ride.
Vincent Jackson, minus battery-mate Mike Williams for the remainder of the season, receiving yards at the Left Coast Link (Seattle) 69.5
Brad – UNDER. Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner blanket receivers like white on rice. Both rank inside the top-20 in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus. Jackson's string of double-digit targets offer encouragement, but unless garbage time is kind to him, his numbers will suffer.
Andy – OVER. I mean ... he's seen 60 targets over his last four games. Mike Glennon maybe isn't the most accurate passer you'll ever see, but the volume that Jackson is seeing more than makes up for his QB's shortcomings.
Dalton – OVER. It's a brutal matchup, but Jackson may see another 20 targets this week with Tampa Bay in constant catch-up mode and few other options in the team's passing attack. It won't be efficient, but thanks to volume, VJax surpasses this mark.
Blue Kool-Aid Man Mike Tolbert, busting through brick walls and goal-line stacks of late, total yards against an overly generous Atlanta front 49.5
Andy – It's not really about yardage with Tolbert, because he gets the ball in so many short-field situations. With this guy, you're looking for end-zone spikes, and you usually get 'em. I'll take the UNDER here, but I'm still starting him in a few leagues.
Dalton – UNDER. I could see it happening, but Tolbert has averaged just 8.7 touches per game this season, so I'll say he's more likely to get a goal-line TD than 50 yards from scrimmage.
Brandon – UNDER. I think "The Great Bluedini" (that's an actual Kool-Aid flavor) will find the end zone for the fourth straight game. But with Jonathan Stewart expected to return this week, I think Tolbert will likely get a smaller workload than the 11 touches he's averaged over the past three games. And even with that increased workload, he's only topped this number once all season.
The Replacements. Pick one: Josh McCown (at GB), Case Keenum (vs. Ind), Jason Campbell (vs. Bal), Nick Foles (at Oak), Ragnar The Viking (at Dal)
Dalton – KEENUM. I have Foles ranked literally one spot behind him, but I'll go with the Houston signal caller at home in primetime Sunday night. I think there's a chance he's good, and Houston's RBs are banged up. I'll go ahead and predict the Texans win this game as well.
Brandon – CAMPBELL. He came up big (293/2/0) against a very good KC secondary last week. And this week he faces a Baltimore defense that has allowed the second-most pass plays of 40-plus yards (10). Considering that Cleveland doesn't have much of a run game, and Baltimore generally stuffs even those teams that do, Campbell, I suspect, will be throwing it a ton in this contest.
Scott – MCCOWN question, bro. I have a tremendous amount of faith in Marc Trestman and the Chicago skill guys (Marshall, Jeffery, Forte), and Chicago will need to press the pace while the Packers are rolling up 30-plus on the other side.
Brad – KEENUM. The FBS all-time leader in total offense was very impressive in his NFL debut. At KC, arguably the loudest stadium in North America, he posted a 110.6 QB rating, averaging a titillating 10.84 yards per attempt. Indy has stamped out the pass well this year, but Keenum and the Texans, desperate for a W, thrive. Bank on 250-plus yards and two touchdowns.
Andy – McCOWN. You guys, Jason Campbell is never the answer. And I really just need a break from Foles.
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