Every Friday during the NFL season we review the Yahoo! weekly position ranks. When an expert breaks from the herd, they're asked to show their work. We try to focus on names near the start/sit line in public leagues, or on acts of complete lunacy. Let's play the feud…
Critics will contend Jon Kitna is like Mickey Rourke’s character in “The Wrestler,” an old broken down piece of meat. Years of gross inaccuracy, statuesque pocket poses and turnovers have demeaned his value beyond recovery. To a point, they’re right.
Despite his advanced age, the journeyman still possesses the arm strength to be fantasy useful when the matchup warrants. His teammates are equally confident. Miles Austin(notes) and Dez Bryant(notes) both spoke highly of the veteran quarterback earlier this week, noting that previous practice time logged should eliminate any “timing issues.” Bryant, similar to Roy Williams, even went a step further saying there’s “no difference” outside “mobility” between Kitna and Romo. Though it appeared he couldn’t hit Frankenstein from five-yards out against the Giants, the 38-year-old’s box score total may resemble a typical Romo line this week. Yes, really.
Sever Jake Delhomme’s(notes) right arm, force him to throw with his off-hand, surround him with similar weapons and he could compile top-10 numbers against Jacksonville. The Jags’ very green secondary is simply that atrocious. On the season, it’s surrendered the most 20-yard pass plays, second-most fantasy points and a league-high 8.9 yards per attempt to signal callers. Dallas’ patchwork offensive line is a concern, but considering the Jags have recorded just 12 sacks on the season, excessive pressure likely won’t be an issue. Based on the weak opponent, Jason Garrett won’t radically change his throw-first philosophy. Give Kitna time and he can burn you. Maybe we too need restore sanity, but a top-five performance isn’t lunacy.
Jon Kitna – Behrens QB rank 13, Yahoo! composite rank 12
First of all, please understand that I'm not actually an outlier on Kitna — Funston ranked him 12th, and Pianowski had him 11th. The three of us simply decided that someone needed to present a counterargument here, because the Yahoo! Fantasy brand would be irrevocably damaged if we allowed Evans to go unchallenged on his Kitna rank.
Everyone understands that the Dallas offense has an excellent match-up in Week 8. Jacksonville's secondary has been torched this season — cornerback David Jones(notes) sends someone to the Pro Bowl every week. But for a quarterback to exploit any match-up, no matter how friendly, they need to possess a certain baseline talent level. It's not at all clear that Jon Kitna, at age 38, can still make all the throws (or even most of the throws). Nothing that we saw from Kitna on Monday night convinced me that he can be successful throwing sideline routes, working outside the numbers — that is to say, nothing we saw in Week 7 convinced me that he's ready to take advantage of Jacksonville's most glaring weakness.
In his best years, Kitna was turnover-prone, inaccurate, and easily sacked. The weapons he has at his disposal in Dallas are impressive, no doubt. But there's a very real possibility that he no longer possesses the skills necessary to allow any receiver to flourish. Would you really be surprised if 38-year-old Jon Kitna fumbled twice on Sunday and threw a pair of picks? There's significant downside risk to consider here. Cowboys fans surely haven't forgotten how miserable the offense looked when an ancient Brad Johnson was under center in 2008. An ancient Kitna might not be any better.
Perhaps I'm just being obstinate here. I've never seen what others apparently see in Fred Jackson(notes), the guy who dominated the rushing workload for Buffalo in Week 7. And maybe when the Bills drafted Spiller, they did so because they wanted to turn him into Jerious Norwood(notes). Not sure. But I'll continue to bet on talent, so Spiller isn't likely to fall out of my top-30, not unless his match-up is impossible. Kansas City's run defense has obviously been solid — sixth-in-the-league solid — but Spiller should be a threat as a receiver in Week 8. (I say "should," because Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes) has neglected him this far; Spiller recorded eight of his 13 receptions in the Trent Edwards(notes) games). If the Bills continue to give only limited touches to the player they selected with the ninth overall pick in the draft, I suppose I'll eventually have to adjust, ranks-wise. But even with an inexcusably light workload, I'd give this guy a chance to score. He's a dangerous man — and he's averaging 5.8 yards per carry over the past four weeks, not that anyone has noticed. If Spiller gets, say, seven carries and five targets, he'll do enough to justify a flex rank.
My optimism for Henne is based on the fact that Cincinnati cannot pressure the QB (just 6 sacks) and the team could be without top corners Johnathan Joseph(notes) (ankle) and Leon Hall(notes) (hamstring) – and backup CB Adam Jones(notes) was put on IR this week with a neck injury. Without Joseph last week, Atlanta QB Matt Ryan(notes) exploited the loss by connecting with WR Roddy white(notes) 11 times for 201 yards and 2 TDs. The Henne-to-Brandon Marshall(notes) hookup could be, well, off the hook on Sunday.
Kansas City is the most run-heavy offense in the league. The Bills have had more rush attempts per game against them than any other team in the league. Therein lies the rub for Bowe, who’ll likely play spectator most of Sunday afternoon. The Chiefs should have no trouble moving the ball against Buffalo, but give head coach Todd Haley his choice between the legs of Thomas Jones(notes) and Jamaal Charles(notes) or the arm of Matt Cassel(notes), and he’ll choose the former every time. Bowe has 4 TDs in his past two games and he’s a solid threat to score in this one given that KC should have a few red zone opportunities, but I think his yardage upside is in the 50-60 yard range.
Palmer has been the unofficial King of Garbage Time in 2010, occasionally posting some juicy numbers in games that got out of hand early (eight of his 10 scores have come in the second half, and he's also thrown eight touchdowns when trailing). I don't envision Miami running away from Cincinnati on Sunday, or vice versa; this has the looks of a match where the first team to 20 points will win. Palmer's also battling a sore hip and didn't practice Thursday, just to complicate things. The likely flow of this game is not your friend.
I’ll admit, this is more of a gut feeling than anything else. Part of my optimistic feel for Hernandez has to do with how effective the Vikings have been at shutting the door on receivers. I’m expecting Tom Brady(notes) to look often to Hernandez, who has been targeted nearly as often as Wes Welker(notes) (17-14) since Randy Moss(notes) departed. Hernandez is a top 5 tight end in terms of yards per game and only his TD drought is holding him back from ranking among the position’s elite. I think he finally finds pay dirt this week.
Fantasy Football is a game of numbers but sometimes you have to let your eyes make the call; I was impressed with what I saw from Daniels in the two games prior to Houston's bye week (especially in his 79-yard effort against the Chiefs). Daniels finally looks 100 percent healed from his major knee injury, and I expect a big game from him against a Colts unit that can be vulnerable down the seam. Indianapolis got off to a hot start with tight end coverage at the start of the year, but things got messy over the last two games (tight ends had 13 catches against the Colts in Week 5 and 6). Don't wait for more proof of the Daniels redemption; get in on this story now.
Williams has produced a higher YPC than Brown in each of the past three games and the touch count was even between the backs in the Pittsburgh game, so it seems the baton might be switching hands in the Miami offense. Cincinnati's defensive front can be had against power runners and the Bengals have allowed a rushing touchdown in four straight games. Don't lose Ricky's number; he'll be in the end zone for you at least once on Sunday. If I were drafting from scratch today, I'd take Williams over Brown with no hesitation.
Much to the chagrin of despondent Ryan Mathews(notes) owners, the Pocket Rocket carved out a significant offensive role last week against the Patriots. According to Norv Turner, the diminutive runner’s well-rounded utility was a better fit for San Diego’s offensive game-plan, particularly in the second-half.
A similar strategy could be implemented this week.
Interiorly, few running backs have seen daylight against the Titans. Between the tackles, opposing rushers have averaged just 3.2 yards per carry against them. However, Tennessee is far more forgiving on the edges, especially on swing passes and dump-offs. Jeff Fisher’s club has allowed the third-most receptions to RBs this season. Darren McFadden(notes), Ahmad Bradshaw(notes), Correll Buckhalter(notes) and LeSean McCoy(notes) all accumulated significant yardage through the air. Coming off a 9-catch, 70-yard game, Sproles has excellent odds of morphing into a flex beast in 12-team leagues.
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