The seventh week of the NFL season has now passed us by. Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning shattered the career passing touchdowns record by throwing four scores in Denver’s 42-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday night football. Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray broke Jim Brown’s record of most consecutive 100-yard games to begin a season with his seventh game going over 100 yards, as he gained 128 yards and a touchdown.
On the other hand, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was not able to capitalize on a very porous Atlanta Falcons defense, as he threw a pair of interceptions in accompaniment with his two touchdowns and 258 yards. Red hot Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer only passed for 251 yards and an interception, and running back Ben Tate only rushed for 36 yards as the Browns allowed the Jacksonville Jaguars and their less-than-effective defense to win their first game of the season.
Many players surprised and disappointed their owners this week, while others kept producing at a high level. Whether you were defeated because Philip Rivers didn’t shred the Chiefs defense, or because Eli Manning was on your bench while he tossed three touchdowns against the Cowboys, it’s time for your weekly advice from the Week 8 edition of MTSU Sidelines: Start ‘Ems and Sit ‘Ems.
Start ‘Em of the Week: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: After a slow start to the season, Aaron Rodgers has been on fire the past five weeks.
After being held to only one touchdown in Week two to the Detroit Lions, he has passed for at least three touchdowns in each of the last five games. This week he faces off against a New Orleans Saints defense that’s been allowing at least two touchdown passes for the past several weeks against Detroit, Dallas and even the lowly Tampa Bay offense. If Mike Glennon can put up numbers against this defense, then Aaron Rodgers, one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL today, should be able to have a phenomenal game.
Start ‘Ems: Carson Palmer (ARI), Ryan Tannehill (MIA), Austin Davis (STL)
Sit ‘Em of the Week: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: For as talented as the Falcons’ weapons in the passing game are, they have failed to impress. It’s partially due to the weak defense, and it’s also due to the lack of a running game.
With veteran Steven Jackson only producing 40.7 rushing yards per week, there has been too much pressure on Matt Ryan. He might not be able to get much going against the 12th-ranked passing defense in the Detroit Lions.
Sit ‘Ems: Drew Brees (NO), Jay Cutler (CHI), Andy Dalton (CIN)
Sleeper of the Week: Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater was considered by many as one of the top rookies in the 2014 NFL Draft. None of the rookies have played exceptionally well, but Bridgewater especially hasn’t since taking over for the injured Matt Cassel.
Bridgewater (1 TD, 5 INTs) will finally have an opportunity to break through. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the worst passing defense, allowing 295 passing yards per game and 15 total touchdown passes. Look for Teddy to make some plays.
Start ‘Em of the Week: Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks: “Beast Mode” has a fantastic match up this week against a Carolina Panthers defense that’s allowing 137.6 rushing yards per game, ranking in the bottom 10 of the NFL. Marshawn is running well, averaging 4.3 yards per carry with three touchdowns. Starting Marshawn will prove to pay off well this week against a Carolina defense that went from stud to dud in 2014, allowing the second-most rushing touchdowns in the NFL.
Start ‘Ems: Darren McFadden (OAK), Tre Mason (STL), Chris Johnson/Chris Ivory (NYJ)
Sit ‘Em of the Week: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles: The Arizona Cardinals have the best rushing defense in the NFL, having only allowed 72.5 yards per game. LeSean McCoy, largely a top-three pick in most fantasy leagues, has only gained 422 rushing yards and a touchdown with 116 carries. Just like early in the season, McCoy will be shut down, but this time, it’ll be by a much stronger defense.
Sit ‘Ems: Jonathan Stewart (CAR), Steven Jackson (ATL), Trent Richardson (IND)
Sleeper of the Week: Anthony Dixon, Buffalo Bills: With C.J. Spiller out for the rest of the season, and Fred Jackson out for a few more weeks, the Buffalo Bills have to start 2010 draft pick Anthony Dixon. After the two Buffalo backs were injured in Week seven against the Minnesota Vikings, Dixon ran the ball 13 times for 51 yards. He will have a tough task against the New York Jets’ stout run defense, but the opportunity is there for some big plays.
Start ‘Em of the Week: Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans: The Houston Texans have allowed two touchdown passes every game since Week three, when Eli Manning finally broke the New York Giants’ losing streak.
Now, the Texans defense is allowing 269 passing yards per game and their defense might be poised to allow a big game this weekend. Kendall Wright is the top target for Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker, who will return from injury against Houston. Locker will feed the ball to Wright, who caught 70 percent of his targets in 2013, making him a very reliable short target for the injury-prone quarterback.
Wright has had an entirely different 2014 campaign compared to last season. Last year, Wright had surpassed 1,000 receiving yards but only had two receiving touchdowns. Now, Wright has only compiled 297 yards but has 4 touchdowns. This week Jake Locker will give the former Baylor Bear plenty of touches and points for your fantasy team, especially in PPR-format leagues.
Start ‘Ems: Terrance Williams (DAL), Mike Wallace (MIA), Jeremy Maclin (PHI), De’Andre Hopkins (HOU)
Sit ‘Em of the Week: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers: Antonio Brown is red hot right now, with 719 yards and five touchdown receptions.
However, he faces an Indianapolis Colts team that has suddenly began to play excellent defense, only surrendering 214 yards per game, good for fifth in the league. The Colts shut out the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, and kept the Baltimore Ravens’ receivers out of the end zone two weeks prior.
Brown will not be shut down entirely, but he will not put up numbers that fantasy owners have seen earlier in the year. Start with caution.
Sit ‘Ems: Alshon Jeffery (CHI), DeSean Jackson (WAS), Marques Colston (NO), Wes Welker (DEN)
Sleeper of the Week: Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins: After amassing his second straight 1,000-yard season in 2013, Hartline has been very quiet in 2014 with only 19 receptions for 196 yards and a touchdown.
The Dolphins play a soft Jaguars defense this week, which could provide a potential spark to Hartline’s season.
Start ‘Em of the Week: Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears: Martellus Bennett hasn’t reached the end zone since Week three, in which he got his third and fourth touchdowns of the season in a hot start.
Now, Bennett is struggling to get much going. Bears receiver Brandon Marshall didn’t help either following the Bears’ loss to the Miami Dolphins Sunday, yelling in the locker room and demanding action by the offense and quarterback Jay Cutler.
This week, Cutler will have his work cut out for him against the eighth-ranked passing defense in the New England Patriots. Bennett will have an opportunity to step up and be a good safety valve for the interception-prone quarterback.
Start ‘Ems: Delanie Walker (TEN), Dwayne Allen (IND)
Sit ‘Em of the Week: Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys: This is just another case of the tight end getting neglected. The Cowboys face off against a Washington Redskins defense that allowed the Titans and Charlie Whitehurst to throw for two touchdowns.
Tony Romo is passing really well right now and has great outside weapons in Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams. Also, someone named DeMarco Murray is on pace to eclipse 2,000 rushing yards this season and is clearly the workhorse in the Dallas offense. Witten will be an afterthought this week, despite being one of the best complete tight ends in the NFL.
Sit ‘Ems: Jimmy Graham (NO), Jared Cook (STL)
Sleeper of the Week: Jordan Thompson, Detroit Lions: The Detroit Lions are going up against a very weak Atlanta Falcons defense in London, but are lacking weapons.
Calvin Johnson is still injured, while all three of the Lions’ other tight ends are battling their own injuries. Thomspon, who had been on the practice squad until last week, could get a chance to show his skills in the absence of Detroit’s usual playmakers.
Start ‘Em of the Week: Detroit Lions D/ST: The Detroit Lions have the top-ranked defense in football so far this season. Despite allowing the New Orleans Saints to score 23 points, they still intercepted Drew Brees to pick up a win.They also held the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers to only seven points.
Now they play an Atlanta Falcons squad that can’t seem to fix their defensive woes under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Even though Atlanta boasts an offensive composed of Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Julio Jones, they are struggling to find balance with no running game.
Leading rusher Steven Jackson only has 285 yards and two touchdowns on the season, registering only eight carries for 22 yards against the Baltimore Ravens in Week seven. The Lions have a great match up this week against a Falcons offense that put up only seven points against the Ravens last week.
Start ‘Ems: Minnesota Vikings D/ST, Oakland Raiders D/ST
Sit ‘Em of the Week: San Diego Chargers D/ST: The Chargers may have the third-ranked pass defense in the NFL, but that all goes out the window against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. It’s better to go without a defense instead of starting this squad in Week eight.
Sit ‘Ems: Carolina Panthers D/ST, Washington Redskins D/ST
Sleeper of the Week: Tennessee Titans D/ST: This squad has been ripped apart since Week two. However, with Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Houston Texans coming to town, anything can happen.
After spending 2013 with the Titans, many of the players may know him and his tendencies very well. He could help your fantasy team if you play the Titans’ defense, especially with his tendency to throw interceptions at the worst possible times.
You can follow Kenneth Goit on Twitter at @KennethGoit
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