Given the image and headline above, you can probably figure out what this pattern is. But let's present it without an identification, just for fun: 9, 31, 20, 8, 24, 22, 13, 1.
Those are the final QB scoring ranks for Ben Roethlisberger this season. Even after a 522-yard, six-touchdown performance for the ages (the eighth-best fantasy QB showing since 1960), it's still rather pedestrian, don't you think?
And keep in mind those weekly grades have come despite an elite receiving option on the outside (Antonio Brown) and without a touchdown-gobbling running back (though Le'Veon Bell is a terrific ballplayer - and someone I'd buy in a second). Pittsburgh's defense hasn't been anything special, either - it hasn't been artificially draining Big Ben's fantasy grab.
It was hard to construct a case for Roethlisberger into Week 8. He hadn't been a needle-mover for fantasy in the first seven games, and he was facing the Colts, the second-stingiest defense with respect to QB points allowed. Just two NFL teams were on bye, so we had 30 quarterbacks to choose from. Of the 135 pundits who populate Fantasy Pros, only four ranked Roethlisberger as a QB1 this week - an option in the Top 12 at the position.
Yahoo owners didn't do much better. While Big Ben was rostered in the majority of Yahoo leagues, only 16 percent pulled the trigger and started him. And surely that number is bumped up by a few jumbo-flex formats, where he of course was a viable starter.
If you saw the Martavis Bryant emergence coming ahead of time, good for you. The guy had two career catches entering Week 8, before exploding for his 6-83-2 line. If you imagined Heath Miller would go bonkers in Week 8 (7-112-1) after six ordinary games and one strong one, good for you. I've long-considered myself one of the all-time Miller apologists, and even I threw in the Terrible Towel before the Colts game.
While surprising fantasy results are a staple of every NFL Sunday, I think it's important to keep our feet on the ground with how we dissect them after the fact. While so much of what we do feels like guesswork on some level, it's still important to take our best informed guess with all of our roster decisions. You're trying to give yourself the best chance to win.
The presence of unusual results does not invalidate a logical process. Just because someone once hit a two on a hard 19 doesn't mean you want to chase that card next time. Make good decisions, gamers.
The Pittsburgh schedule is a mixed bag going forward. Baltimore is a tricky draw in Week 9. The Jets in Week 10? Giveaway, yes please. Tennessee in Week 11 is favorable. A Week 12 bye follows, then a home game with New Orleans.
The latter stages include two Cincinnati games, the Falcons, the Chiefs. I try to be careful with look-aheads that are months in advance. Cincinnati's defense looked strong for a month, then awful for a month. Who knows what it will be in December?
[Pickups of the Week: Rookie WRs could save the day]
-- The jumbo-sized bye weeks are frustrating to many fake footballers, but I like them. Let's dig deeper. Let's see if we can use some of the temporary leverage to our advantage.
The Falcons, Bills, Bears, Lions, Packers and Titans don't play in Week 9. In Week 10, these teams are on holiday: Colts, Vikings, Patriots, Chargers, Redskins, Texans.
Trading can be difficult in August or September, when no one has a major deficit or a reason to worry. But with Halloween approaching, the league has personality now, shape, favorites and underdogs. If you're one of the league leaders, it's time to see if you can pluck a bye-week star from one of the struggling teams. And if you're sitting with a losing record, it might make sense to liquidate your biggest name (especially if he sits Week 9 or Week 10) because you have to take on a win-now mentality.
No one had extra incentive to trade in the early weeks, but it's a much different landscape now. Make sure you do an extensive league and roster audit this week, put some feelers out there.
-- Looking at the Tampa situation, I agree with esteemed colleague Bradley Evans: in the rush to anoint Charles Sims, I think too many people are overlooking Bobby Rainey. If I had just one spin in a Bucs running back, Rainey would be my first call. I also think Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are going to have significant spikes in the second half.
- Two's company, three's a crowd. That's the rule of thumb with so many fantasy backfields.
I can consider a non-starting specialist so long as he's the second man in a two-man show, like Lorenzo Taliaferro was in Week 8. Take Bernard Pierce off the field, Taliaferro becomes a lot more interesting. Put three heads on the monster, it's hard to trust a non-featured back. Hopefully Pierce stays out of the way for the balance of the season.
The Rams basically turned their backfield into nuclear waste when they put all three runners into play. And they also waste touches on Tavon Austin, for some silly reason. Throw in a messy schedule and expected game flows and I don't see a Top 30 back here. Sure, some big games will pop up here and there, but I can't see how we can project and predict them ahead of time. If the backs aren't playable, why would you want them? This is a situation I'll avoid, even in deeper pools.
Players to add for Week 9 of the fantasy season