DeMarco Murray

Time to get real…and week nine fantasy rankings

It’s time to get real folks. By this point in the season you know what your fantasy team is. You’re either off to a fast start and primed for playoffs or you’re sputtering and praying to sneak in to a wildcard spot. Let’s start with the owners who have come out of the gate on fire.

If you’re 6-2 or 7-1, the playoffs are almost a certainty and you’re feeling good about the consistency of your roster. Something you have done, whether by luck or by strategy, has led you to an excellent start and you can just hover around .500 the rest of the season while coasting into the playoffs. I’ve never been in a league where 9-4 can’t get you into the playoffs. But be careful not to get complacent, because complacency is the demise of a successful fantasy team. Yes your team is killing it thus far, but you’re now the team everyone is gunning for.  Make sure you’re staying active on the waiver wire. Start looking at players with excellent playoff schedules and begin looking forward to the prize. The best thing I can say is: Don’t lose focus. Keep on doing what got you here and you should be punching your ticket to the playoffs any week now.

Next up is the middling, .500 teams. Chances are this is where the majority of you are. It’s the average, the middle of the road. You’ve had some good wins; you’ve suffered some tough defeats. But that’s all in the past. Now you’re a .500 team that needs to pick up steam to make the playoffs. Trades (if your deadline hasn’t already passed) become very interesting. If one player in the trade goes off, it could spark you to a few wins and a playoff spot. If one player busts, you could find yourself on the outside looking in. Find the good matchups, watch for solid players being dropped as roster spots become more of a premium.  You’ve got a 50/50 shot at making it to the big dance, it’s time to find the holes on your team, address them, and pray for the best

Lastly is the team of struggle. The team that had the best draft in the entire league, the one featuring Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Zac Stacy, a sneaky pick of Ray Rice, a stud WR2 in Victor Cruz. Yeah that team is now 2-6 and miserable. While hope isn’t lost, your chances of sneaking into the playoffs are slim to none. You’re in Jets, Jaguars, Buccaneers territory…man, that is a territory I never want to visit. But don’t think it’s impossible. In the majority of leagues, a winning record will get you a wildcard spot. So you’re 2-6? Feel free to start that 5 game win streak this Sunday. If I’m you, I’m looking at trades to shake up my team because why not? Make some bold calls and swing for the fences. Worst-case scenario: you lose this week and play spoiler the rest of the season to your best friends (worst enemies).  If you can’t make playoffs, why not bring your rivals down with you?

 

 

Some random notes before rankings:

·      Man this bye week is awful. The following teams are scoring as much as you and I this week: Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans. That means the following are out:

 

o   Aaron Rodgers (2nd ranked QB)

o   Matt Forte (3rd ranked RB)

o   Jay Cutler (6th ranked QB)

o   Matt Ryan (9th ranked QB)

o   Matthew Stafford (10th ranked QB)

o   Eddie Lacy (11th ranked RB)

o   7 of the top 22 WRs (Cobb, Nelson, Tate, Julio, Watkins, Alshon)

 

·      A.J. Green terrifies me this week. Now I’ll probably end up eating crow on this one but if I have the WR, I’m not starting him unless I absolutely have to. A toe injury for an athlete like Green may not seem like much but it affects his ability to plant his feet, make cuts and run crisp routes. If I’m a Green owner, I’m giving him a week to get fully acclimated.

 

·      DeMarco Murray is another stud that worries me a little this week. Yes it may be ridiculous to worry about a guy on pace to set the single-season rushing record. A guy that has at least 100 yards rushing in 8 straight games (unreal). But Murray is facing a Cardinals defense ranked as the toughest against the run in the league. They have yet to allow a 100 yard rusher on the season. Now while they haven’t faced anyone of DeMarco’s talent (LeSean McCoy comes closest), I still think this is a matchup to slightly worry about. Obviously if you have Murray he’s absolutely a lock in your starting lineup. But I would warn you to temper your expectations.

 

·      Giovani Bernard is dealing with multiple injuries, most notably a banged up hip, which forced him out of last week’s game against the Ravens.  Gio didn’t practice yesterday and if I own him, I’m running to waivers and picking up  Jeremy Hill if he’s available. Be warned, there’s a very real shot Bernard is inactive come Sunday.

 

·      Thursday Night Football Prediction:

 

o   Saints 31 – Panthers 17

The Panthers are the 9th worst defense against the pass and 5th worst against the run. The Saints, although they tend to struggle on the road, are looking to take control of a weak NFC South division and I think they come out firing. Brees and Ingram seem primed for huge games and I think it’s another lopsided Thursday Night affair.

 

 

 

WEEK 9 RANKINGS

 

 

QB

1.  Andrew Luck

2.  Peyton Manning

3.  Drew Brees

4.  Tom Brady

5.  Colin Kaepernick

6.  Philip Rivers

7.  Cam Newton

8.  Russell Wilson

9.  Carson Palmer

10. Tony Romo

11. Alex Smith

12. Ben Roethlisberger

13. Eli Manning

14. Brian Hoyer

15. Nick Foles

16. Ryan Fitzpatrick

17. Andy Dalton

18. Teddy Bridgewater

19. Ryan Tannehill

20. Joe Flacco

 

RB

1.  Arian Foster

2.  Marshawn Lynch

3.  DeMarco Murray

4.  Jamaal Charles

5.  LeSean McCoy

6.  Lamar Miller

7.  Le’Veon Bell

8.  Andre Ellington

9.  Mark Ingram

10. Ahmad Bradshaw

11. Giovani Bernard

12. Ronnie Hillman

13. Alfred Morris

14. Ben Tate

15. Justin Forsett

16. Jerick McKinnon

17. Chris Ivory

18. Branden Oliver

19. Frank Gore

20. Denard Robinson

21. Shane Vereen

22. DeAngelo Williams

23. Trent Richardson

24. Andre Williams

25. Jonas Gray

 

WR

1.  Antonio Brown

2.  Dez Bryant

3.  Jeremy Maclin

4.  Demaryius Thomas

5.  Kelvin Benjamin

6.  T.Y. Hilton

7.  Andre Johnson

8.  Emmanuel Sanders

9.  A.J. Green

10. DeSean Jackson

11. Mike Wallace

12. Steve Smith

13. DeAndre Hopkins

14. Brandin Cooks

15. Keenan Allen

16. Vincent Jackson

17. Brandon LaFell

18. Terrance Williams

19. Rueben Randle

20. Odell Beckham Jr.

21. Doug Baldwin

22. Marques Colston

23. Mohamed Sanu

24. Cordarrelle Patterson

25. Andrew Hawkins

26. Michael Crabtree

 

TE

1.  Rob Gronkowski

2.  Julius Thomas

3.  Jimmy Graham

4.  Greg Olsen

5.  Antonio Gates

6.  Dwayne Allen

7.  Travis Kelce

8.  Jordan Reed

9.  Larry Donnell

10. Clay Harbor

11. Vernon Davis

12. Zach Ertz

13. Jace Amaro

14. Jared Cook

15. Mychal Rivera

 

D/ST

1.  Seahawks

2.  Bengals

3.  Chiefs

4.  49ers

5.  Browns

6.  Texans

7.  Vikings

8.  Colts

9.  Redskins

10. Chargers

 

Flex

1.  Arian Foster

2.  Marshawn Lynch

3.  DeMarco Murray

4.  Antonio Brown

5.  Dez Bryant

6.  Jamaal Charles

7.  LeSean Mccoy

8.  Jeremy Maclin

9.  Demaryius Thomas

10. Rob Gronkowski

11. Lamar Miller

12. Le’Veon Bell

13. Julius Thomas

14. Kelvin Benjamin

15. Andre Ellington

16. Mark Ingram

17. T.Y. Hilton

18. Jimmy Graham

19. Ahmad Bradshaw

20. Giovani Bernard

21. Ronnie Hillman

22. Andre Johnson

23. Emmanuel Sanders

24. Alfred Morris

25. A.J. Green

26. DeSean Jackson

27. Mike Wallace

28. Ben Tate

29. Justin Forsett

30. Jerick McKinnon

31. Steve Smith

32. DeAndre Hopkins

33. Brandin Cooks

34. Keenan Allen

35. Chris Ivory

36. Branden Oliver

37. Frank Gore

38. Greg Olsen

39. Antonio Gates

40. Vincent Jackson

41. Brandon LaFell

42. Denard Robinson

43. Shane Vereen

44. DeAngelo Williams

45. Terrance Williams

46. Rueben Randle

47. Dwayne Allen

48. Trent Richardson

49. Odell Beckham Jr.

50. Doug Baldwin

Fantasy Decisions: Week 7 Rankings and the Flex

The flex spot in your lineup can be one of the most infuriating positions on this planet.

In most leagues, you’re given the choice between starting a running back, a wide receiver, or tight end. For years, I followed the philosophy of absolutely always using a running back in that flex unless bye weeks forced me to throw in a wide receiver for the position. Running backs have always seemed like the safe play to me. I rationalized all this in my head saying, “Running backs are always going to get carries! You never know if Alex Smith is going to throw to Dwayne Bowe or Donnie Avery. How am I supposed to figure out whether Matt Hasselback has a good connection with T.J. Houshmandzadeh this week?”

But as the league turns more and more towards an aerial attack, suddenly many teams are using a wide receiver in a flex spot once reserved for RBs only. The two positions are quickly becoming near-equivalents for fantasy purposes. As of this morning, there are 29 running backs that have averaged at least eight points a game this season. And wide receiver? Well, there are 30 in the same category.

Here’s another stat for you. Of the top 40 flex options this year (based on average scoring per week): 17 are RBs, 17 are WRs, 6 are TEs.

Just remember your flex spot is a FLEX spot! It is not a RB3 spot. Receivers are being more utilized every passing year, so now is the time to jump on the bandwagon. Yes, wide receivers may seem more sporadic but in reality, you’re looking at the same stats as the running back position. So use that flex spot for the receiver you keep ignoring; he just might surprise you.

As we look forward to this weekend, don’t forget the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are both on bye so feel free to let Mike Glennon and Riley Cooper hang out on your bench. Lastly, the Patriots take on the Jets tonight in an AFC East battle. Set your lineups accordingly. Onto the rankings!

WEEK 7 RANKINGS

QB

1.     Aaron Rodgers

2.     Philip Rivers

3.     Andrew Luck

4.     Peyton Manning

5.     Jay Cutler

6.     Tom Brady

7.     Russell Wilson

8.     Drew Brees

9.     Carson Palmer

10. Cam Newton

11.  Colin Kaepernick

12.  Matthew Stafford

13.  Brian Hoyer

14.  Joe Flacco

15. Kirk Cousins

16.  Matt Ryan

17.  Tony Romo

18.  Jake Locker

19.  Ben Roethlisberger

20.  Eli Manning

RB

1.     Arian Foster

2.     Demarco Murray

3.     Matt Forte

4.     Le’Veon Bell

5.     Marshawn Lynch

6.     Jamaal Charles

7.     Giovani Bernard

8.     Eddie Lacy

9.     Ben Tate

10. Andre Ellington

11.  Branden Oliver

12. Lamar Miller

13.  Alfred Morris

14.  Justin Forsett

15.  Andre Williams

16.  Ronnie Hillman

17.  Frank Gore

18.  Shane Vereen

19.  Fred Jackson

20.  Joique Bell

21.  Fred Jackson

22.  Chris Ivory

23.  Mark Ingram

24.  Bishop Sankey

25.  Jonathan Stewart

WR

1.     Demaryius Thomas

2.     Antonio Brown

3.     Julio Jones

4.     Jordy Nelson

5.     Dez Bryant

6.     Alshon Jeffery

7.     Brandon Marshall

8.     Randall Cobb

9.     Steve Smith

10.  Golden Tate

11.  Emmanuel Sanders

12.  Andre Johnson

13.  Kelvin Benjamin

14.  Mike Wallace

15.  Mohamed Sanu

16.  Julian Edelman

17.  T.Y. Hilton

18.  DeSean Jackson

19.  Michael Floyd

20.  Percy Harvin

21.  DeAndre Hopkins

22.  Pierre Garcon

23.  Reggie Wayne

24.  Rueben Randle

25.  Keenan Allen

TE

1.     Rob Gronkowski

2.     Julius Thomas

3.     Greg Olsen

4.     Jordan Reed

5.     Antonio Gates

6.     Martellus Bennett

7.     Jordan Cameron

8.     Delanie Walker

9.     Travis Kelce

10.  Larry Donnell

11.  Vernon Davis

12.  Dwayne Allen

13.  Jason Witten

14.  Jared Cook

15.  Heath Miller

D/ST

1.     Seahawks

2.     Bills

3.     Patriots

4.     Texans

5.     Browns

6.     Cardinals

7.     Lions

8.     Broncos

9.     Ravens

10.  Bears

11.  Cowboys

12.  Chargers

13.  Titans

14.  49ers

15.  Packers

Flex

1.     Arian Foster

2.     Demarco Murray

3.     Matt Forte

4.     Le’Veon Bell

5.     Marshawn Lynch

6.     Demaryius Thomas

7.     Antonio Brown

8.     Jamaal Charles

9.     Giovani Bernard

10. Julio Jones

11.  Jordy Nelson

12.  Eddie Lacy

13.  Dez Bryant

14.  Rob Gronkowski

15.  Ben Tate

16.  Andre Ellington

17.  Branden Oliver

18.  Julius Thomas

19.  Alshon Jeffery

20.  Lamar Miller

21.  Alfred Morris

22.  Brandon Marshall

23.  Randall Cobb

24.  Justin Forsett

25.  Andre Williams

26.  Steve Smith

27.  Golden Tate

28.  Emmanuel Sanders

29.  Ronnie Hillman

30.  Frank Gore

31.  Shane Vereen

32.  Andre Johnson

33.  Kelvin Benjamin

34.  Mike Wallace

35.  Mohamed Sanu

36.  Greg Olsen

37.  Julian Edelman

38.  Fred Jackson

39.  Joique Bell

40.  T.Y. Hilton

41.  DeSean Jackson

42.  Chris Ivory

43.  Mark Ingram

44.  Bishop Sankey

45.  Jonathan Stewart

46.  Michael Floyd

47.  Percy Harvin

48.  Jordan Reed

49.  Antonio Gates

50.  DeAndre Hopkins

Send in your lineup questions, waiver wire wonders, or trade help to FantasyDecisions@gmail.com

 

Fantasy Decisions with Bradley Maddox: Fantasy Marriage…and Weekly Rankings

This time next year, I will have been married for 4 months. Yeah I’m that kid: the one who gets married halfway through college. She’s a beautiful nursing student who, thankfully, will be graduating in December of 2015. But until then, as Alan Jackson puts it, we’ll be “living on love”…and very little else. Being newlyweds will be exciting as we learn more about each other everyday and experience a brand new life together. We’ll be two college students joined in wedded bliss.

            Now you’re not reading this to know about my personal life, you’re waiting to get to the fantasy analysis. Well, I challenge you to look back at the wonderful football marriages that took place this offseason and the beautiful impact they’re now having on your fantasy lineup. Remember when Gary Kubiak and Steve Smith were brought together as one? Yeah we’re not talking about marriage in the traditional sense, we’re talking about the ever-important marriage of new offensive coordinators and their new toys. Let’s take a quick look at just how big of an impact three new offensive coordinators are having on your roster.

 

 

·      Gary Kubiak and WR Steve Smith

o   When Kubiak was let go by the Texans this past offseason, teams around the league quickly inquired about the former offensive coordinator. He was always more of an offensive mind in Houston, leaving the defense up to his staff. Now in Baltimore, there may be no one happier than former Panther wide receiver Steve Smith. Upon leaving Carolina, Smith quickly became the ‘X factor’ receiver in Kubiak’s offense. For years, none other than Texan star receiver Andre Johnson held this prominent role. During his time in Houston, Kubiak made Johnson the first, second, and third option in the passing game. Secondary receivers weren’t important because they weren’t utilized. Kubiak had one receiver he cared about and that was going to be his guy through thick and thin. All this to say, we should have seen this breakout coming from Smith. Through three weeks, the former Panther has been targeted a staggering 32 times and has reeled in 18 of them. The next most targeted receiver is Torrey Smith, targeted only 18 times (or almost less than half of Smith). If an owner in your league is letting Smith ride the pine, see what kind of deal you can put together to grab him while he’s still available. As long as he holds down the ‘X’ spot, Smith is a viable WR2 in most formats.

·      Hue Jackson and RB Giovani Bernard

o   Hue Jackson is in a much different situation then Kubiak. Rather than moving teams, Jackson was promoted from Bengals running backs coach to offensive coordinator upon Jay Gruden’s exit to Washington. Having coached the team’s running backs, Jackson was smart enough to know what he had in the dynamic Gio Bernard. In 2013, Gruden was still focused on splitting the carries between Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. But today, Green-Ellis finds himself a free agent looking for a job while Bernard shines in Cincy. This fantasy marriage has done wonders for the young back. Last season, Bernard had more than 13 carries in just two games. This year, he’s already surpassed that number, averaging more than 18 carries a game. This doesn’t even include his role in the passing game, having already accumulated 19 targets through 3 weeks. Gio is the real deal and his owners are grateful for this marriage of coordinator and star running back.

·      Ben McAdoo and RB Rashad Jennings

o   In the last of our three marriages, we look at the beautiful chemistry between former Packers assistant McAdoo and Giants running back Rashad Jennings. McAdoo was brought into New York to spark life in an offense that ended in the bottom-five in offense last season. Having run the West Coast offense while in Green Bay, the coordinator quickly transformed the Giants into this system. West Coast offenses are known for short passes near the line of scrimmage and a hurry-up mentality. The Giants brass hired McAdoo hoping he could raise Eli Manning’s career 58.5% completion rate (hasn’t topped 60% in a season since 2011). What they didn’t expect was the massive role Jennings would play in the new scheme. Through week 3, Jennings has carried the rock 68 times for nearly 300 yards. In the current age of football, it’s hard to find many bell cow running backs. You need not look any further to find one. Having ceded just 19 carries to backup Andre Williams, this backfield is all Jennings. Expect more of the same in the coming weeks as McAdoo and Jennings take their marriage and turn it into wedded bliss (in the form of many, many fantasy points).

 

Week 4 Rankings:

            Here are my week 4 rankings broken down by position. I’ve also included my top 50 flex for those who can’t decide if they need to start a RB, WR, or TE in that flex spot. On to the rankings….

 

QB

1.     Drew Brees

2.     Andrew Luck

3.     Phillip Rivers

4.     Aaron Rodgers

5.     Matt Ryan

6.     Matthew Stafford

7.     Jay Cutler

8.     Kirk Cousins

9.     Cam Newton

10. Colin Kaepernick

11. Jake Locker

12. Ben Roethlisberger

13. Tony Romo

14. Nick Foles

15. Tom Brady

16. Eli Manning

17. Blake Bortles

18. Teddy Bridgewater

19. Joe Flacco

20. Ryan Tannehill

 

RB

1.     Demarco Murray

2.     Le’veon Bell

3.     Matt Forte

4.     LeSean McCoy

5.     Rashad Jennings

6.     Arian Foster

7.     Jamaal Charles

8.     Lamar Miller

9.     Donald Brown

10. Eddie Lacy

11. Alfred Morris

12. Matt Asiata

13. C.J. Spiller

14. Fred Jackson

15. Doug Martin

16. Ahmad Bradshaw

17. Frank Gore

18. Stevan Ridley

19. Pierre Thomas

20. Lorenzo Taliaferro

21. Shane Vereen

22. Reggie Bush

23. Darren Sproles

24. DeAngelo Williams

25. Chris Ivory

 

WR

1.     Calvin Johnson

2.     Antonio Brown

3.     Dez Bryant

4.     Julio Jones

5.     Jordy Nelson

6.     Vincent Jackson

7.     Jeremy Maclin

8.     Alshon Jeffery

9.     Randall Cobb

10. Brandon Marshall

11. Kelvin Benjamin

12. Andre Johnson

13. Michael Crabtree

14. Keenan Allen

15. Desean Jackson

16. Victor Cruz

17. Cordarrelle Patterson

18. Cecil Shorts III

19. Julian Edelman

20. Roddy White

21. Brandin Cooks

22. Steve Smith

23. Marques Colston

24. Sammy Watkins

25. DeAndre Hopkins

 

TE

1.     Jimmy Graham

2.     Rob Gronkowski

3.     Greg Olsen

4.     Vernon Davis

5.     Martellus Bennett

6.     Larry Donnell

7.     Travis Kelce

8.     Antonio Gates

9.     Delanie Walker

10. Niles Paul

11. Zach Ertz

12. Owen Daniels

13. Jason Witten

14. Heath Miller

15. Charles Clay

 

D/ST

1.     San Diego Chargers

2.     Miami Dolphins

3.     New England Patriots

4.     Houston Texans

5.     Pittsburgh Steelers

6.     Detroit Lions

7.     Carolina Panthers

8.     Atlanta Falcons

9.     Chicago Bears

10. Baltimore Ravens

11.  San Francisco 49ers

12. New Orleans Saints

13. Oakland Raiders

14. Indianapolis Colts

15. Washington Redskins

 

 

Kickers

1.     Nick Novak

2.     Stephen Gostkowski

3.     Shaun Suisham

4.     Justin Tucker

5.     Blair Walsh

6.     Dan Bailey

7.     Robbie Gould

8.     Adam Vinatieri

9.     Matt Bryant

10.  Cody Parkey

11. Mason Crosby

12. Phil Dawson

13. Dan Carpenter

14. Sebastian Janikowski

15. Randy Bullock

 

 

Flex

1.     Demarco Murray

2.     Le’Veon Bell

3.     Calvin Johnson

4.     Matt Forte

5.     LeSean McCoy

6.     Antonio Brown

7.     Dez Bryant

8.     Julio Jones

9.     Rashad Jennings

10. Arian Foster

11. Jamaal Charles

12. Jimmy Graham

13. Lamar Miller

14. Donald Brown

15. Vincent Jackson

16. Jeremy Maclin

17. Alshon Jeffery

18. Eddie Lacy

19. Alfred Morris

20. Rob Gronkowski

21. Matt Asiata

22. C.J. Spiller

23. Randall Cobb

24. Brandon Marshall

25. Kelvin Benjamin

26. Andre Johnson

27. Michael Crabtree

28. Fred Jackson

29. Doug Martin

30. Greg Olsen

31. Ahmad Bradshaw

32. Frank Gore

33. Stevan Ridley

34. Keenan Allen

35. Desean Jackson

36. Victor Cruz

37. Cordarrelle Patterson

38. Cecil Shorts III

39. Pierre Thomas

40. Vernon Davis

41. Lorenzo Taliaferro

42. Shane Vereen

43. Reggie Bush

44. Darren Sproles

45. Julian Edelman

46. Roddy White

47. Brandin Cooks

48. Steve Smith

49. Marques Colston

50. DeAngelo Williams

 

 

 

Feel free to send in your lineup questions, waiver wire thoughts, or trade help to FantasyDecisions@gmail.com

 

This tool is free and I promise to get back to you by the end of the day you send in your question. Send away!

 

Good luck to everyone this week!

 

This has been another edition of Fantasy Decisions with Bradley Maddox. Always remember: An elite owner stays ahead of the curve

 

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones watched his team fall to Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins twice last season, but never before had Jones been a part of a three-game losing streak to the Cowboys’ NFC East rival.

Jones’ Cowboys avoided that on his 71st birthday Sunday night, defeating the Redskins 31-16 at AT&T Stadium.

After quarterback Tony Romo threw for a whopping 506 yards in a heartbreaking 51-48 loss to the Denver Broncos last week, Romo had just 170 yards through the air against the Redskins. Moreover, running back DeMarco Murray left the game with a sprained left knee, and to make matters worse, defensive end DeMarcus Ware exited early with a right quad injury.

Wait a minute.

The Cowboys won with Romo throwing for just 170 yards and with no Ware or Murray? How did that happen?

Cue Dwayne Harris, who may get a slice of his owner’s birthday cake.

Harris had 222 total return yards, including an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 90-yard kickoff return that set up a Terrance Williams touchdown reception.

Give credit to the Cowboys’ defense as well, something that couldn’t have been done the first five weeks of the season. Although the defense gave up 433 yards to the Redskins, they only gave up one touchdown. Cornerback Brandon Carr was everywhere in the secondary, and defensive end Kyle Wilber came up with a huge play by forcing and recovering a fumble on an RGIII sack, which ultimately led to a game-clinching score for the Cowboys.

With Murray out, rookie running back Joseph Randle saw the majority of the snaps, gaining 17 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. If Murray is out for an extended period of time, it will be interesting to see what the Cowboys can get out of Randle.

Despite losing two key players, the Cowboys picked up a much-needed win Sunday night to improve to 3-3 and stay tied with the Eagles for first place in the NFC East. Dallas did what it was supposed to do by defeating a struggling Redskins team at home, so fans should be content.

After all, normally when the Cowboys are supposed to do something, they find a way to screw it up.

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, otherwise known as the red-headed robot, is notorious for preaching the need for his football team to play well in all three phases of the game. Dallas accomplished this against Washington.

Dallas will need that consistent play to continue this Sunday when they take on Philadelphia in a battle for first place.
 

Photo Credit: Cody Bubenik | Daily Texan Staff

Rising:

DeMarco Murray — Murray absolutely torched the St. Louis defense for 175 yards this past Sunday, adding another outstanding performance against the Rams to his Cowboy history. Let’s just hope that he can replicate some of that success outside of St. Louis.

Josh Gordon — Gordon is finally relieved of his suspension in Week 3, and what does he do? He catches 10 balls on 19 targets for 146 yards and a touchdown. Other than a few turnovers, Brian Hoyer threw the ball well, and Gordon was his main recipient. Ironically, the same week that the Browns trade away their superstar running back, their offense finally starts to click. This offense will run through Gordon, making him a good player to have on a team.

Giovani Bernard — What does a young Darren Sproles look like? He looks a lot like Bernard. Bernard has two touchdowns in his last two games and received double-digit carries in Week 3. He is an adept pass catcher, has breakaway speed, and a team that uses him appropriately. BenJarvus Green-Ellis will still be used in late game and goal line situations because of his reliability, but Bernard is the better runner in this backfield.

Antonio Brown — Brown totaled 196 yards and two touchdowns against a strong Chicago secondary Sunday. Looks like the Steelers might not be missing Mike Wallace that much after all.

 

Falling:

C.J. Spiller — It seems to be a new trend in fantasy football this year — a star running back gets hurt mid-game, his back-up comes in to finish the game and outplays the incumbent. Spiller is the latest victim to this trend. Spiller left Sunday’s game with a knee injury, and in his absence, Fred Jackson totaled 109 all-purpose yards. Spiller’s injury isn’t serious, but Jackson looks to limit Spiller’s ceiling moving forward.

Anquan Boldin — I don’t care how many targets Boldin gets every week. The 49ers’ offense has been shut down for the second game in a row, and this time against a historically weak Colts defense. Boldin may be the recipient of many five-yard passes this year, but what good does that really do?

Ryan Mathews — Good news: Mathews is still healthy. Bad news: It doesn’t matter. Mathews is averaging less than four yards per carry this year, and Ronnie Brown is starting to get all of the goal-line work in this offense. Bring in Danny Woodhead for all pass-catching downs, and Mathews has very little fantasy worth.

Stevan Ridley — Ridley is still the running back to own in the Patriot’s offense, but that doesn’t mean that he should be starting on a fantasy team. Brandon Bolden had three carries for 51 yards Sunday, and LeGarrette Blount had 14 carries for 65 yards. This backfield will only become more convoluted with Shane Vereen’s return from injury in a few weeks. I wouldn’t start any Patriots’ running back on my team.

Photo Credit: Cody Bubenik | Daily Texan Staff

Like great hitters in baseball and sharp shooters in basketball, many fantasy football players go through rough patches and slumps. Although some struggle for extended periods, players tend to have breakout games when you least expect it. With fantasy football playoffs beginning this week and a lot on the line, here are a few names whose unlikely performances could propel you to a big victory:

START

1) Jake Locker, QB
Tennessee Titans
Locker looked dreadful against the Texans last week, throwing three interceptions and fumbling twice. However, much of his poor performance can be attributed to Houston’s ability to get out in front of opponents early and force them into mistakes. There was also a silver lining in Locker’s poor outing: his lone touchdown pass Sunday made it his second consecutive week with only one. I like Locker’s odds this week against a weaker Indianapolis defense.

 

2) Eric Decker, WR
Denver Broncos
Over the past four games, Peyton Manning has tossed nine touchdowns. The problem for Decker is, he’s only been on the receiving end of one of them. Though he has failed to reach 50 yards receiving or catching a touchdown in three of his last four games, nothing revives a player’s fantasy production like a trip to Oakland. Expect Decker to break out this week against an awful Raiders’ secondary.

3) DeMarco Murray, RB
Dallas Cowboys
Murray’s problem this year hasn’t been a lack of production so much as it has been unreliability, as he missed six games after going down with a foot injury against Baltimore during Week 6. While he looked a little rusty, Murray was still able to rack up 83 yards and a touchdown in his return last week against the Philadelphia Eagles and can be expected to perform similarly Sunday against Cincinnati.

 

SIT

1) Philip Rivers, QB
San Diego Chargers
One of the year’s biggest fantasy disappointments, Rivers has registered three multi-turnover games in his last four outings. Things don’t get any easier for him this week either, as he and the Chargers travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers’ vicious pass rush.

2) Vernon Davis, TE
San Francisco 49ers
It’s no wonder Davis has come out and publicly supported recently-benched quarterback Alex Smith:
Colin Kaepernick rarely throws him the ball. Davis has largely been ignored since Kaepernick took over as the team’s starting quarterback, catching only two passes for 15 yards in the past two games. Things could change this week against the Dolphins, but I wouldn’t count on it.

 

3) Miles Austin, WR
Dallas Cowboys
While he did score a touchdown against Philadelphia on Sunday night, Austin has been quiet over the past couple weeks thanks to Dez Bryant’s recent resurgence. Considering the fact that he’s going up against a Bengals defense that has yielded only one touchdown reception to an opposing wide receiver over the past four games, odds are Austin won’t reach the end zone this week.

Printed on Friday, December 6, 2012 as: Playoffs begin, stakes rise

Fantasy Frenzy: Cowboys' Murray looks to pummel Eagles

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is sacked by Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith. Flacco should bounce back this week after a rough outing.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is sacked by Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith. Flacco should bounce back this week after a rough outing.

Week 8 of the fantasy season is upon us, so here are a few tips on who to start and who to sit.

Start:

1. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens — Flacco had a terrible game on Monday night against the lowly Jaguars, passing for only 137 yards on 38 attempts in a head-scratching 12-7 loss. Flacco has been highly criticized for his performance during the week and has had to deflect talk about his inability to lead the team to victory. This week Flacco has the opportunity to silence his critics against a weak Arizona secondary. Expect him to bounce back well with a huge game.

2. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys — Just in case you weren’t paying attention last weekend, Murray had a breakout game, rushing for 253 yards and setting a new Cowboys single-game rushing mark. While he most likely will not explode like that again, he has an excellent opportunity on Sunday night to make his performance a trend. The Cowboys will take on an Eagles front seven that has allowed 123.8 yards a game, so expect Murray to see plenty of opportunities and take advantage of the matchup.

3. Jabar Gaffney, Washington Redskins — Gaffney has been a solid No. 2 option for the Redskins all season long, but with Santana Moss’ injury last weekend, Gaffney will have to step up. Gaffney should be able to do just that this weekend against a Buffalo secondary that allows the third most passing yards a game in the NFL.

Sit:

1. Jahvid Best, Detroit Lions — Detroit’s starting tailback went down two weeks ago against the 49ers with concussion-like symptoms and did not play last week against the Falcons. This week the Lions take on the Broncos in a good matchup for running backs, but you’d be smart to sit Best again this week. He is listed as doubtful, and with a bye week next week for Detroit, the Lions are likely to sit him rather than risk further injury.

2. Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys — are two of the best receivers in the NFL and some of the most productive for your lineup. But this week the Cowboys will take the an elite trio of Eagles corners, who will make it hard for the pair to put up big numbers. Plus, they are going up against a poor run defense, so expect Dallas to run the ball early and often.

Fantasy Frenzy: Hot or Not?

After Week 7 of NFL action, let’s play out the old favorite — who’s hot and who’s not.


 

 

Hot:

DeMarco Murray,
Dallas Cowboys

When your name is mentioned with Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett, you know you had a great day. Murray rushed for 253 yards against the Rams on Sunday, breaking the Cowboys’ single game rushing record. Murray’s game may have also gained him a shot at the starting job, ahead of a struggling Felix Jones. Watch that situation closely and don’t be afraid to pick up Murray — he might well be the steal of the season.

Tim Tebow,
Denver Broncos

Well it certainly wasn’t pretty, but for the Broncos and fantasy owners, Tebow’s week was effective. Down 15 points, he led Denver back in the fourth quarter to tie the game up with just seconds left and eventually won in overtime. While his passing numbers weren’t spectacular, he still managed to put up 22 points in ESPN leagues. Tebow will never light up the scoreboard with his passing, but he looks like an effective starting quarterback for your lineup the rest of the way.

The New Orleans Saints offense
If you had a player on the Saints, you probably racked up the points thanks to their 62-point outburst against Indianapolis. Drew Brees spread the ball around beautifully and his receivers and running backs benefited.

Not:

Oakland Raiders quarterbacks
The trade for Carson Palmer was the talk of the NFL all of last week, but Palmer’s performance did not live up to the hype. He didn’t even start the game — that distinction was left to Kyle Bowler, who turned in a spectacular three-pick, 61-yard performance before he was benched at half. Palmer didn’t fare much better in the second half though, throwing for three picks as well. Both Raiders signal callers finished with negative point totals in fantasy, but expect Palmer to improve as he gets more familiar with the offense.

Chris Johnson,
Tennessee Titans

Johnson has had a horrible year after receiving his record-setting contract extension, and that slow start didn’t change on Sunday. Johnson only rushed for 18 yards on 10 attempts against a weak Houston run defense. Up until this season, Johnson was always a top-5 fantasy player, now he’s a borderline starter. His best chance to turn it around will come against the Colts next week, and if he can’t perform against that defense, he might just be done as a top-flight player.

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