October 29, 2009
Brad and Andy return live this week to answer your questions and discuss their flames, lames and deep names for Week 8. Submit your questions for Friday night's "Fantasy Freak Show" on The Score via email (Please include name/city) at email@example.com.You can also dial the studio line starting at 8 PM PT/10 PM CT/11 PM ET at 312-644-6767 or text us at 67011. You can also follow the show, and the Noise, via Twitter.
Each week the Noise highlights eight somewhat obscure, unobvious names who he believes are destined for flame madness or lame sadness. Being an accountability advocate, he will tally his hits and misses and post the results, whether genius or moronic, each week using the scoring system posted here.
More Noise: Flopping Forte
FLAMES (Started in less than 60 percent of Y! Plus leagues)
Matchup: vs. StL
Though his long-term upside is substantial, Stafford is essentially the Applebee's of fantasy quarterbacks at this point in his career - cheaply priced and relatively unexciting. But the Rams' flaccid defense is certainly a gourmet entrée. The rookie, sidelined by a dislocated kneecap for the past three weeks, practiced fully Tuesday and Wednesday, but has not been granted official clearance by Jim Schwartz. The head coach remarked midweek his QB has "a lot of hurdles" left to clear before suiting up on Sunday. Assuming he does play, Stafford is a borderline starter in 12-team and deeper formats. St. Louis has been dissected routinely by the opposition yielding 258.2 yards per game and eight scores to passers since Week 3, equal to the ninth-most fantasy points allowed. Calvin Johnson(notes), who missed practice Wednesday, will likely be a game-time decision, but Schwartz is confident he'll see the field. The freakishly skilled wideout practiced Thursday. If Megatron is inactive, it obviously hinders Stafford's scoring potential, but with enough suitable weapons around him, he could still achieve flame status. The Rams are that reprehensible.
Matchup: vs. Car
Beanie Wells(notes), whose image apparently doesn't reflect in a mirror, is slowly sucking the life out of Hightower's value. However, Ken Whisenhunt is dedicated to maintaining a committee at running back. If Beanie didn't have a case of butter hands, he would've likely overtaken the incumbent weeks ago. Still, the versatile Hightower has exceeded expectation this season. A cornerstone in PPR leagues, the rusher is second only to Ray Rice(notes) in total receptions at his position (31). After being steamrolled early in the season, Carolina has made tremendous strides in run defense over the past four weeks, surrendering a mere 115 total yards per game and 4.2 yards per carry to RBs. But facing one of the league's finest vertical offenses in a hostile environment presents several challenges, especially coming off a laughable loss to Buffalo at home. Though Hightower is losing his grip on carries, he's an employable option in almost any sized format in Week 8.
Fearless Forecast: 10 carries, 33 rushing yards, 5 reception, 37 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. Oak
Matched against one of the NFL's worst trench units, the Pocket Rocket is prepared for take-off. Used minimally in his previous two games, Sproles was finally incorporated more into the offensive flow last week at Arrowhead totaling 99 yards on just eight touches, including a long 58-yard touchdown reception. For the Kansas City native it was a dream come true. Because the Raiders couldn't contain a morbidly obese Dachshund – Jay Richardson(notes) shockingly believes a lack of "trust" is to blame – the diminutive dynamo is must start material in deeper formats. Since Week 3, Oakland has conceded 208.6 total yards per game, 5.0 yards per carry and eight end-zone dives to rushers equal to the second-most fantasy points allowed. Week 1 Sproles tallied a serviceable 66 yards on 14 touches against his AFC West rival. In a game which will probably get out of hand early, Sproles, who is horror icons Chucky, the Leprechaun and any number of Gremlins rolled into one, could post deadly numbers for your squad.
Fearless Forecast: 8 carries, 51 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 43 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. Atl
Most owners pegged the Saints backup "Tinkerbell" due to the reemergence of the PT Bruiser, but the former Bronco has shown surprising longevity. Entrenched in Sean Payton's backfield rotation, Bell will continue to notch double-digit carries, including most goal-line touches. Last week against a stiff Miami front he played 19 snaps, just two shy of Pierre Thomas(notes). More on-field appearances could be in order in Monday's primetime showcase. The Falcons have tightened the screws defensively in the trenches yielding a mere 3.8 yards per carry and 120.5 total yards per game to rushers in their last four, equal to the eighth-fewest fantasy points allowed over that span. But with its secondary crippled by injuries and ineptitude, Drew Brees(notes) will carve Atlanta up like a pumpkin, providing several scoring opportunities for Bell inside the red zone. Bell has yet to tally a multi-TD effort this season, but there's a first for everything. Flex him in all formats.
Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 61 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns, 18 fantasy points
Matchup: at Dal
Two weeks ago the Seahawks were subjects of a slasher film. Assaulted incessantly by the Desert Birds, Seattle 's patchwork offensive line provided little protection for Matt Hasselbeck(notes). As a result, Burleson crippled fantasy owners with a two-catch, 40-yard performance. The Cowboys were very successful creating chaos in the pocket last week versus the Falcons, which could prove problematic for Hassy and company. More concerning: Only one wide receiver has surpassed 80 yards against Dallas since Week 3. But fresh off the bye week, the Hawks should exhibit a more robust effort. In an attempt to establish cadence early, the Bald Eagle will likely operate no-huddle, a scheme he's very comfortable with. If the offense flows freely out of the gates, Burleson, whose averaged a ridiculous 8.3 targets per game this year, should flirt with the WR top-15 this week. Start him with confidence.
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 79 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13 fantasy points
Matchup: at Ten
Holt, whose mangled digit is simultaneously disgusting and frightening, should continue to build off his past two standout performances (98 ypg). The tattered Titans could receive a much needed shot in the arm this week with the return of safety Vincent Fuller(notes) and possible activation of corner Cortland Finnegan(notes), but, even when the two were healthy, this was still a very vulnerable secondary. Minus the two key components, Tennessee has yielded a league-worst 11 touchdowns and eight 90-yard receiver performances over the past five weeks. Though Holt's skills are eroding, he's still crafty enough to find cracks in coverage, especially against weak secondaries. Unless the Titans miraculously rediscover their defensive identity from a season ago, David Garrard(notes) and his receiving weapons will be tough to ground.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 76 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13 fantasy points
Matchup: at Bal
As we wrote four weeks ago, the frustration with Royal has reached an unbearable level. On Josh McDaniels' constantly spinning receiver roulette wheel, the white ball has rarely landed on No. 19. But in this week's battle with Baltimore, the Mile High Monarch should sit on the throne of good fortune. The Ravens secondary, a shell of it's once dominating self, has been burned repeatedly by big plays. The Black Birds have allowed the seventh-most 20-yard pass plays this season. Royal's quickness and sharp cutting ability is a gross mismatch for corner Frank Walker(notes). He should inflict severe damage operating out of the slot. This could be the week he finally finds pay-dirt in the passing game.
Fearless Forecast: 7 receptions, 84 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. Min
With Jermichael Finley(notes) a longshot to play this week, the veteran Lee could step out of the shadows to compile his best tally of the season. Time and time again Minnesota has avoided coverage across the middle, allowing oversized targets to exercise unguarded. So far this season, the Vikings have surrendered 6.8 receptions, 80.1 yards per game and four total touchdowns to tight ends, equal to the second-most fantasy points conceded. Lee doesn't possess the athleticism and explosiveness of Finley and he will cede a few looks to former practice squader Spencer Havner(notes), but he's still a serviceable weapon. If the combo of Randy McMichael(notes) and Daniel Fells(notes) can compile appreciable numbers against the Vikes so can Lee. Assuming Finley sits, expect the elder tight end to attract at least 6-8 targets.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 57 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 11 fantasy points
LAMES (Started in over 60 percent of Y! Plus leagues)
Matchup: at NO
Last week, Matty Ice's theme song was "Under Pressure." Blitzkrieged by the Dallas defense, he appeared, for one of the rare times in his young career, befuddled, finishing with 198 yards, two TDs and two picks. Though he's posted five multi-TD performances in six tries, Ryan hasn't exactly lived up to the mammoth hype fantasy pundits bestowed onto him entering the season. Overall he ranks No. 16 among quarterbacks in points per game. This week could be another somewhat bland effort. New Orleans, a badgering, aggressive defense under Gregg Williams, will surely assault the pocket often to disrupt Ryan's rhythm, a practice they've achieved marked success with this season. Over the past four weeks, the Saints have allowed just 188.8 passing yards per game and a 2:7 TD:INT split to QBs, equal to the second-fewest fantasy points surrendered. Due to the Falcons' shaky secondary, they could be buried early, forcing Ryan airborne. However, when thrust into similar situations, few quarterbacks have emerged with banner fantasy totals.
Fearless Forecast: 22-37, 208 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, 12 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. Mia
Doing his best Curtis Martin(notes) impersonation, Jones has defied the effects of Father Time, becoming one of the biggest bargain buys in fantasy. According to the 31-year-old he physically "feels like a rookie," noting the key to longevity is really mind over matter. Ricky Williams(notes) agrees. However, this week against the Holistic One's club, Miami, Jones' dentures may be in serious need of Super Polygrip. The Dolphins have surrendered just 3.5 yards per carry, 113.8 total yards per game and three scores to backs since Week 3. Because of Weiner Boy Mark Sanchez'(notes) inconsistencies, Jones will likely face several eight-man fronts. Unless the rookie exudes a fair level of competency, which isn't likely, the ground game will struggle.
Fearless Forecast: 15 carries, 55 rushing yards, 1 reception, 6 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 6 fantasy points
Matchup: at Ind
Though his name is reminiscent of a character in the never-ending Saw series, Gore will have difficulties slicing through Indianapolis' overlooked run defense. Overshadowed by Peyton Manning(notes) and the Bob Sanders(notes)-led Cover 2, the Colts' trench team has trampled opposing rushers in recent weeks. Since Week 3 they've allowed a mere 4.0 yards per carry, 99.8 total yards per game and one touchdown to RBs, equal to the second-fewest fantasy points yielded. Jim Caldwell credits the front line's consistency in execution for their ascension. Coming off a two week vacation, Gore was visibly rusty last week in Houston racking just 47 total yards. If he doesn't regain his bearings soon, another lackluster effort is imminent. The loss of lane-creator Tony Pashos(notes) also hampers the Gold Rusher's short-term value. It's tough to sideline Gore in any sized league, but take away his 200-plus yard, two-TD smack-down of Seattle, he's been largely disappointing. If you have more suitable options (i.e. Joseph Addai(notes), Kevin Smith(notes) or Ricky Williams), roll the dice.
Fearless Forecast: 17 carries, 68 rushing yards, 3 reception, 14 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. Hou
At first glance, Beast Mode would likely be an untamable Yeti against Houston. After all, this was the same defense Chris Johnson humiliated for 284 total yards and three scores earlier this season. However, the Texans have quietly improved by leaps and bounds on run defense in recent weeks. Over their past five contests they've allowed just 3.1 yards per carry and 75.2 total yards per game to tugboats, equal to the fifth-fewest fantasy points surrendered. Gary Kubiak believes the addition of safety Bernard Pollard(notes) has added a new dimension to the defense, which has allowed linebackers to stay home. With Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes) behind center, the Texans should be able to focus on gap assignments, bad news for Bills backs. Averaging a pathetic 2.8 yards per carry and 72.8 total yards per game since his return from suspension, Lynch hasn't exactly dominated the virtual gridiron. Given the matchup and potential large deficit his team could be faced with, he's not a recommendable option in shallow leagues.
Fearless Forecast: 18 carries, 63 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 25 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. Buf
The last time Andre 300 was mentioned in this space he, much to the dismay of the Noise and Brandon Funston, provided a swift kick to the midsection, catching eight passes for 135 yards. Although we're still hitting octaves previously thought impossible, Johnson again makes the list. However, most would agree the circumstances are much different. Despite suffering a nasty lung contusion last week against the Niners, the ultra-talented wideout proclaimed Wednesday via his Twitter account he will play in Buffalo. Kubiak backed up his top weapon's guarantee, barring any setbacks, of course, in practice. In a standard week, Johnson would be considered a risky play, but given the numerous byes, he's must start material. Still this has the trappings of a predictable failure. Buffalo's inadequacies between the hashmarks could lead Kyle Shanahan to institute a more conservative gameplan. Steve Slaton(notes), not Johnson, could be the offense's focal point. It's also possible Mr. Icognito, Kevin Walter(notes), could step to the forefront to prevent Johnson from further injury. Again, he's unbenchable, but his fourth mediocre game of the season could be on the horizon.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 68 receiving yards, 0 touchdown, 6 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. Den
Because of his last name, it's only appropriate to call the crafty veteran Baltimore's receiving rock. Despite his advanced age, the consistency king has netted appreciable results almost weekly averaging 9.4 fantasy points per game in standard formats, the 21st-best mark at his position. But the wideout's matchup against Champ Bailey(notes) is an intimidating one. Since Week 3 only one WR has exceeded 70 yards against the Broncos. They've also surrendered the sixth-fewest fantasy points over that span. Joe Flacco(notes) has been marvelous in his second year, but facing a refreshed Denver defense will be a tall order.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 63 receiving yards, 0 touchdown, 6 fantasy points
Steve Smith, NYG, WR (Noise WR Rank: 24, Bench: NO BENCH, 88% started)
Matchup: at Phi
Over the past couple games, the more prominent Steve Smith has underwhelmed. Due to his early season achievements, defensive backs have bullied and badgered the breakthrough wideout. The former Trojan admitted to the AP earlier this week he's been jammed by linebackers more often and drawn plentiful double-teams downfield. Ultimately, this increased attention has aided teammates Mario Manningham(notes) and, especially, Hakeem Nicks(notes). The unselfish Smith is fine with the increased harassment, but his fantasy owners certainly aren't. In his past three contests, he's averaged a marginal 3.7 receptions and 61 yards per game. He also hasn't found the end zone. Expect that trend to continue. According to Football Outsiders, the Eagles are the most unfriendly defense against No. 1s, holding premier targets 56.4 percent under the league average. Also, no receiver has eclipsed 75 yards against them since Week 2. In the World Series tune-up, Smith could be a strikeout victim.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 46 receiving yards, 0 touchdown, 4 fantasy points
Matchup: at GB
In his first clash with the Packers, Shiancoe was saved by the end-zone collecting just three catches for 18 yards and a touchdown. This week, he won't be so lucky. Dom Capers' swarming 3-4 defense has performed well against monolithic targets giving up just 3.2 receptions and 39 yards per game, the seventh-lowest output in the league. Because of Shiancoe's imposing frame and budding chemistry with Brett Favre(notes), he's been a red zone fixture this season attracting 21.9 percent of his team's targets inside the 20, the ninth-best tally at his position. Due to his scoring upside, he's difficult to bench, but an invisible effort similar to last week (4-27-0) is a definite possibility.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 31 receiving yards, 0 touchdown, 5 fantasy points
Who are your flames, lames and deep names in Week 8? Discuss below.
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