By Matt Kroeger
No chit-chat. We have too much to go over. Let’s just jump right in.
QB: Jon Kitna (DAL). Why not? Dallas fans need something to cheer about these days. Let’s get behind Jonny! We can build on this (Herm Edwards voice)! A 38-year-old QB who hasn’t played in two years! Still, the Cowboys weren’t going anywhere anyway. They needed a change. I expected Wade Phillips to be fired three times over by now, but maybe Kitna can be the sparkplug. I think Kitna is change we can believe in (unfortunately, I do realize that is in print). Dallas isn’t going to the playoffs—not with that schedule and not with their coaching staff. Kitna, though, could make it a somewhat entertaining ride the rest of the way. Sort of like the reincarnation of Jeff Garcia. Or even a zombie version of Doug Flutie would suffice. Perhaps this experience will finally teach Dallas fans some humility (yes, Cowboys fans, it has come to that). God knows they need some. You’re the obvious underdog the rest of the way, and any win is special. Relish it while you can.
As for Kitna, I think week 8 will be very kind to him. The Jags are terrible against the pass and have a lousy pass rush. The expectations are imperceptibly low for him and the Cowboys in general. Kitna is supposed to be bad. I think, at least for this week, Jonny is going to light it up. And if he doesn’t, forget I said anything.
Other options: Peyton Manning (IND), Sam Bradford (STL), Ryan Fitzpatrick (BUF)
(Last week: Colt McCoy vs. NO…9-16, 74 yds)
RB: Frank Gore (SF). I almost have to put Gore here, right? Particularly after Darren McFadden ran through crater-like holes against Denver last week. I know the ropes; I’m a professional. There will obviously be some semblance of a rebound performance by the Broncos defense. Regardless, both teams have to travel all the way to London (…why?) for this matchup, and it will be tough for Denver to keep Gore in check. He’s is their ENTIRE offense: rushing and receiving. With Alex Smith out, I figure the Niners will rely on Gore even more. There’s no reason not to expect 150 yards of total offense and a touchdown.
Other options: Arian Foster (HOU), LaDainian Tomlinson (NYJ), Jonathan Stewart (CAR)
(Last week: Mathews vs. NE…8 rush, 15 yds)
WR: Percy Harvin (MIN). I’m writing this assuming Tarvaris Jackson is going to be the starter. I’m psyched to see Jackson under center. It would be an absolutely foolish move to throw Brett Favre out there. It would be like dumping a bloody horse carcass into a pool full of sharks. Not only do you risk losing the game due to ANOTHER tragic Favre performance, but also you risk permanent, season-long injury to Number 4. And for what? Another game for his streak? That’s so trivial. We get it: Favre is a warrior who has battled the odds in order to string together an absurdly long streak of consecutive starts. It’s time to end it, and I would applaud Brad Childress if he had the gonads to pull the trigger with Jackson. Take it one week at a time, let Favre heal, and bring him back when he’s ready.
Back to Percy Harvin: I actually like his odds this week to be a stud fantasy contributor. The Patriots let Patrick Crayton and Buster Davis put up nice stats last week. So why not Harvin, even with a worse QB? With Jackson on the field, we will surely see a lot of dump downs to Adrian Peterson, but don’t sleep on Harvin either.
Other options: Jermaine Gresham (CIN), Larry Fitzgerald (ARI), Anthony Gonzalez (IND)
(Last week: Witten vs. NYG…7 rec, 107 yds, 2 td)
QB: Matt Cassel (KC). Run for it! The ship is about to explode! Run! Save yourself!
I have the misfortune of requiring Cassel’s services this week for my own fantasy team (we start two QBs, and Eli is on bye). Cassel has played very well of late, shocking even myself. Now, I COULD say that crack in the hull is nothing to worry about. Buffalo is one of the worst pass defenses in the league. But I’m not going to be fooled. I’m abandoning this ship that is Matt Cassel. There are just too many concerns with his consistency, a fact we have all slowly forgotten over the past weeks. I would avoid Cassel at all costs if you can. Unfortunately, I can’t.
Other options: Matt Hasselbeck (SEA), Kerry Collins (TEN), Matt Schaub (HOU)
(Last week: Hasselbeck vs. ARI…20-38, 192 yds, 1 td)
RB: Cedric Benson (CIN). Living in Cincinnati, I take pleasure in the Bengals’ pain, but also have immense sympathy for the fan base. They love their team—that much is obvious. Listening to ESPN Radio here in Cincy, you come to realize how passionate the fans are. They’ve been through a lot the past decade with their Bengals; as much success as they’ve had, they’ve suffered through twice as much disappointment. The Carson Palmer injury in the playoffs a few years back was not only disastrous for their postseason hopes, but also crippled the franchise through the present (the guy just isn’t the same). This year has been another disappointing start. A playoff team a year ago, the Bengals have quietly underachieved just as badly as the Niners, Chargers and Cowboys.
Now, Bengals fans: don’t take me putting Benson here as yet another gut punch. I actually have the Bengals winning this week against the Dolphins. It’s a huge home game, and I think the defense will finally put it together and stop making bonehead mistakes. As for the offense, the passing game has been working lately, and I see it continuing such success again in week 8. As a result, Benson’s numbers will be low. Miami may stack the line to stop him, so be wary, Benson-owners.
Other options: Darren McFadden (OAK), Ryan Torain (WAS), Steven Jackson (STL)
(Last week: Mendenhall vs. MIA…15 rush, 37 yds)
WR: Kenny Britt (TEN). I am going to make a terrible analogy. You have been warned.
Kenny Britt is like Kenny McCormick from South Park (the little dude with the orange coat that covers his face). South Park Kenny, generally, participates in the hilariously awesome antics with his three friends for every episode. His presence always made me laugh because you could never understand what he was saying—almost like a mime, but a mime who would get high on cat pee. Titans Kenny is equally involved in the bizarrely good Titans offense. Britt is Kenny, Vince Young is Kyle, Kerry Collins is Stan, and Chris Johnson is obviously Cartman.
At the end of every South Park episode though (at least in the earlier seasons), Kenny would die in some completely unexpected way. His character is also incredibly limited comedically, so he disappears occasionally for entire episodes. I fear the same things will start happening to Titans Kenny. They are a running team (just like the SP group is led by Cartman), and Britt may take a breather for some games. Likewise, Britt relies so much on the rest of his team that it seems more than likely that his inflated numbers will fall at some point. The Titans play a stout Chargers defense, and I fear Britt’s fantasy production will suffer for it.
Other options: Andre Johnson (HOU), Michael Crabtree (SF), Jeremy Shockey (NO)
(Last week: Moss vs. GB…3 rec, 30 yds, 1 td)