Each week the Noise will guide desperate, deep-thinking owners into the dark corners of the waiver wire to mine a last-minute diamond. Turn on your helmet light and pack a pickaxe. We're digging for drop-jaw surprises owned in less than 10 percent or started in less than five percent of Yahoo! leagues.
During the offseason, Cincinnati's Ryan Fitzpatrick must live a reclusive existence in the dense woods of Western Montana, seriously. His Harvard roots and disheveled appearance are very Kaczynskian (see left).
As Carson Palmer's placeholder, the Unobomber has only been good for about one touchdown per contest. Plagued by turnovers, an inconsistent run game and makeshift offensive line, the former Mike Martz prodigy has posted a meager 60.2 completion percentage and 118 passing yards per game (4.6 YPA). With a 3:6 TD:TO split, the 25-year-old has performed repugnantly, even during end-zone celebrations (below).
That is, until this week.
The last time Fitzpatrick waltzed into Reliant Stadium he was the clipboard holder for the St. Louis Rams. The date was November 27, 2005. When Jamie Martin, who was starting in place of Marc Bulger, was sidelined in the second quarter, Fitzpatrick, who had never tossed an NFL regular season pass, rallied the Rams from a 21-point halftime deficit, leading them to a 33-27 overtime victory. His 310 passing yard performance (along with 3 TDs) marked the fifth time in league history a passer eclipsed 300 yards in his NFL debut. Current Texans linebacker Morlon Greenwood, who played against Fitzpatrick that day, recently reflected upon the then rookie's stellar debut. Per the Houston Chronicle:
"He came in and showed that he had the ability to play in this league and showed the type of quarterback he is - a smart player, that could make the right checks and he could definitely gain the respect of everybody else in this league."
Yes, the nine-percent owned (six-percent started) slinger is widely considered waivers rubbish. But his mobility, heady coverage reads and ability to deliver sharp passes on short-to-intermediate routes could lead to serviceable numbers for deep-minded owners suffering from the bye week blues.
Jamaican world beater Ocho-Cinco believes Fitzpatrick is primed for a breakout game:
"Fitz is getting better and better and better week in and week out. He has a great arm, a good arm, a strong arm. He's no Golden Boy No. 9, but he has a great arm. We're not using him the same we use 9 because we have to get Coach Brat in a comfort zone where we can show his arm off. But Fitz is no different. You've got to think, it's the NFL. The starter and the backup, there's not that much of a drop off. He overthrew me, and I can run like Usain Bolt."
Sure, Chad Johnson is completely deranged (If he really had Bolt's speed, he wouldn't need a head start to outrun Seabiscuit), but his seemingly silly prognostication is not unfathomable. The Bengals will likely be playing from behind and Houston has surrendered 226.3 passing yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game to QBs, equal to the sixth-most fantasy points allowed. More importantly, the Texans have yielded the second-most rushing yards to passers, including 30 yards to gazelle Kerry Collins. Because of Fitzpatrick's nimble feet (19.6 rushing ypg, 1 TD on year), he could accumulate respectable totals Week 8.
Week 8 Fearless Forecast: 23-37, 188 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, 38 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 1 fumble lost
Who is your Week 8 Shocker Special? Post your selection with projection in the comments section below.
Previous Shockers: Hank Baskett (2-102-TD), Brian Griese (160-1-0), James Jones (1 drop, injury), Lance Moore (7-101-2TDs), David Martin (1-25-0), JaMarcus Russell (159-0-1-11 rsh yds), Donnie Avery (4-55-TD)
Image courtesy of US Presswire