Bye weeks: what a terrible concept.
Weeks 5-11 are by far the toughest weeks a fantasy owner can endure.
One week you're playing with Aaron Rodgers, Matt Forte and Roddy White and the next thing you know, you're stuck filling the voids in your lineup left by the bye week with a bunch of scrubs you managed to scrape up out off the bottom of the waiver bin.
It's during these weeks that the true contenders are separated from the pretenders. Roster decisions and depth can make or break your season.
This week, I tried to focus on a bunch of guys I like most to fill in those slots to replace your starters and, hopefully, cure your bye-week blues.
A "stud" constitutes a player I feel is a must-start as he displays a very favorable match-up and is primed to put up a ton of points for that particular week.
A "dud" is a player who I feel is put into starting lineups far too often for that particular week or simply won't perform up to expectations. In all likelihood, there is a much better option for your starting lineup than a "dud" based upon match-ups for the week.
*All statistics and projections are based off of the standard Yahoo! Sports PPR league scoring system.
Before we get to the Studs of Week Eight, excuse me as I gloat (and bite my tongue) while we look over my predictions from last week.
Week 7 Told'ya So (Studs)
Marques Colston WR NO
Projected: 6 REC 132 YDS, 1 TD, 17 PTS
Actual: 7 REC 98 YDS, 2 TD, 22 PTS
Kellen Winslow TE TB
Projected: 6 REC 97 YS, 1 TD, 15 PTS
Actual: 4 REC 25 YDS, 1 TD, 11 PTS
Week 7 Eating Crow (Studs)
Matt Moore QB CAR
Projected: 234 YDS 2 TD 1 INT, 15 PTS
Actual: 197 YDS 1 TDS 0 INT, 8 PTS
Ryan Mathews RB SD
Projected: 143 TOTYDS, 2 REC, 1 TD, 16 PTS
Actual: 65 TOTYDS, 4 REC, 0 TD, 7 PTS
Ryan Torain RB WAS
Projected: 141 TOTYDS ,4 REC, 1 TD, 18 PTS
Actual: -5 TOTYDS , 0 REC, 0 TD, 0 PTS
Greg Little WR CLE
Projected: 7 REC 101 YDS, 1 TD, 17 PTS
Actual: 5 REC 31 YDS, 0 TD, 6 PTS
Weeks 1-6 Success Rate: 20/36, 56%
Week 7 Success Rate: 2/6, 33%
Ben Roethlisberger QB PIT
Matchup vs New England
Big Ben is quietly in the middle of a very solid fantasy season. He's formed a raport with his new favorite No. 1 target, Mike Wallace. He hasn't been caught in the middle of any rape accusations and, most importantly, he currently stands as the eighth-highest scoring quarterback in fantasy football. Now, this week, Roethlisberger and the Steelers draw the league's worst passing defense in the Patriots. Tom Brady and Co. have historically had great success against the vaunted defenses of Steelers' past, so this week could get pretty crazy. I'm looking for a lot of points to be scored in the matchup. Don't be surprised if Big Ben tosses a few more than two TDs.
Week 8 Forecast: 334 YDS 2 TD 0 INT, 18 PTS
Honorable mention: Cam Newton, Joe Flacco
Darren Sproles RB NO
Matchup vs St. Louis
Another man experiencing an under-the-radar season is Darren Sproles. Even more quietly than Roethlisberger, Sproles has climbed to the No. 5 spot in scoring among running backs in PPR leagues. That's incredible given his average draft position of 110 overall before the season began. This week the Saints march into St. Louis after completely humiliating the Colts in front of the entire nation on Sunday night. And who's maybe the one defense this year whose been worse than Indy's? That's right, the Rams. Sproles will be in line for another huge game. This matchup makes me wish I had an entire lineup full of Saints.
Week 8 Forecast: 142 TOTYDS, 6 REC, 1 TD, 21 PTS
Chris Johnson RB TEN
Matchup vs Indianapolis
Ever go against your gut and do something even though it went against all logic and you knew that after, you'd instantly regret it? I think that's a pretty good way to describe how the Titans are feeling these days after locking Chris Johnson into his insane contract after all the preseason drama the two sides went through. If you drafted him, you're not doing yourself enough justice by saying Chris Johnson has been a huge bust. This week Johnson and the Titans face off against the Colts, or, the team that's given up the most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Lets just say that if he can't produce this week, Johnson won't produce at all this year.
Week 8 Forecast: 22 CAR 124 YDS, 4 REC, 1 TD, 18 PTS
Honorable mention: Ryan Mathews, Ahmad Bradshaw
Steve Smith WR CAR
Matchup vs Minnesota
Overshadowed largely due to Cam Newton's monster season thus far in Carolina, Steve Smith is making his return to fantasy prominence as well, which seems to be today's theme. He's the fifth-highest scoring wide receiver in fantasy this season and has been phenomenal for owners in PPR leagues. Minnesota traditionally is relatively solid on defense, but this week they'll be without two of their top-three corner backs and nothing seems to be able to put a stop to this Carolina offense (did not think I'd be saying that this year.) Anyways, Smith should continue his fantasy production this week so if you've got him, feel lucky.
Week 8 Forecast: 8 REC 121 YDS, 1 TD, 18 PTS
David Nelson WR BUF
Matchup vs Washington
Nelson is a guy I contemplated using in my brand-new feature to studs and duds this week (see below), but I decided I'd take a gamble on him and see if he could make me look smart. It's more of a gut feeling than anything, but I expect the Bills' passing game to come out and have a lot of success against a Redskins defense that normally has trouble with spread offense types. While Stevie Johnson will likely get some good looks, Nelson has proven he can pile up the catches. I like him a lot as a nice flex-play this week in PPR leagues.
Week 8 Forecast: 7 REC 89 YDS, 1 TD, 16 PTS
Honorable mention: Anquan Boldin, Michael Jenkins
Visanthe Shiancoe TE MIN
Matchup vs Carolina
Remember this guy? He was pretty good back when that old Favre guy was calling the shots in the Twin City. Since then though, he's pretty much fallen off the fantasy radar. But last week he received a fair share of targets and scored his second touchdown on the year. Ever since Christian Ponder took over under center, Shiancoe has found his place again in the Vikings offense. Remember, tight ends are a rookie quarterback's best friend. Be wary that he's a little banged up but should play. The fact that Adrian Peterson is slightly banged up as well could been the Vikings have to pass a little more, obviously benefiting the tight end.
Week 8 Forecast: 5 REC 76 YDS, 1 TD, 14 PTS
Honorable mention: Daniel Fells, Fred Davis
I decided to add a new twist this week which will continue throughout the remainder of the season. I will pick one "gut call" player for both the "Studs" and the "Duds" which is based solely off of my gut feeling that player will produce or fall apart for that particular week. It will not count towards my overall standings, however, for my own good and is strictly to fill your entertainment needs. You're welcome.
Christian Ponder QB MIN vs Carolina
And that leads me to Ponder. Admittedly, I may be slightly biased with this gut call given my Florida State allegiance, but you can't deny the twelfth-overall draft choice has looked very impressive in his first two games as starter. He was forced to step in against a stingy Bears defense a few weeks back and managed to come back and make that loss look respectable only to follow it up with another eye-popping performance against the Super Bowl Champs. Granted, the Packers defense against the pass hasn't been all that pretty this year and some of Ponder's production came in mop-up time, but he's the reason the Vikings were in it at half time. He faces Carolina this week in what could be a high-scoring affair. I like it. So much, in fact, that I grabbed him off waivers to take over for Aaron Rodgers for the bye week on my teams.
Week 7 Told'ya So(Duds)
Earnest Graham RB TB
Projected: 76 TOTYDS, 1 REC, 0 TD, 5 PTS
Actual: 11 TOTYDS, 1 REC, 0 TD, 1 PT
Brandon Lloyd WR STL
Projected: 3 REC 59 YDS, 0 TD, 5 REC
Actual: 6 REC 74 YDS, 0 TD, 8 REC
Week 7 Eating Crow(Duds)
Matt Schaub QB ATL
Projected: 233 TDS 1 TD 3 INT, 7 PTS
Actual: 296 YDS 2 TDS 0 INT, 17 PTS
Steven Jackson RB STL
Projected: 82 TOTYDS, 0 REC, 0 TD, 5 PTS
Actual: 73 TOTYDS, 4 REC, 1 TD, 14 PTS
Roddy White WR ATL
Projected: 5 REC 76 YDS, 0 TD, 8 PTS
Actual: 5 REC 52 YDS, 1 TD, 13 PTS
Antonio Gates TE SD
Projected: 5 REC 52 YDS, 0 TD, 7 PTS
Actual: 5 REC 54 YDS, 1 TD, 13 PTS
Weeks 1-6 Success Rate: 18/36, 50%
Week 7 Succes Rate: 2/6, 33%
Overall (Combined Studs & Duds): Week 4-8, Season 42-42.
Matchup vs Philadelphia
Ah man, with Romo, you just never know. He could come out this weekend, throw for 200 yards a few scored in the first half and then toss four interceptions and loss the game for the Cowboys in the fourth quarter. I think this describes how Romo's game against the Eagles will go this week. It's a big game, too, which also means bad things for Romo. But then again, it is a divisional matchup, and rivals like this usually tend to play each other pretty tough. There's a good chance this game could turn into a shootout, I'm just looking elsewhere if I have better options.
Week 8 Forecast: 224 YDS 1 TD 3 INT, 7 PTS
Not-so-honorable mentions: Tim Tebow, Travaris Jackson
Bernard Scott RB CIN
Matchup vs Seattle
I have a bit of a theme to my running back duds this week: they're each guys who have been buried in the depth chart all year but have now come uncovered. Cedric Benson will miss this week's game due to his one-game suspension, so naturally owners in desperate need for a running back are looking towards Scott to fill the roll. Only thing is, starting Scott this week is just that -- a desperation move. What most people don't know is that the Seahawks are a top-five run defense when it comes to points scored by opposing running backs. It's just not a good matchup for Scott this week.
Week 8 Forecast: 19 CAR 82 TOTYDS, 2 REC, 0 TD, 7 PTS
Knowshon Moreno RB DEN
Matchup vs Detroit
The same can be said about Moreno. This was supposed to be his year to finally break out and live up to his first-round pedigree, but instead he managed to allow Willis McGahee of all people to surpass him on the depth chart. Moreno has been stuck there ever since, and hasn't done much. Now that the inevitable McGahee injury occurred, people seem to be getting a little too excited about Moreno. Don't forget, he's still the same under-performing talent he's always been. Even with Tebow under center, I don't see how you can justify starting Moreno against a very solid run-D in Detroit.
Week 8 Forecast: 18 CAR 79 TOTYDS, 4 REC, 0 TD, 9 PTS
Not-so-honorable mentions: Peyton Hillis, DeAngelo Williams
Larry Fitzgerald WR ARI
Matchup vs Baltimore
Fitzgerald has been teetering on the edge of becoming a big bust so far this season and a few more weeks of inconsistent play could land him in the fantasy dungeons. As of right now, he's still a must-start regardless of the matchup, because in reality, you never know when a guy like Fitzgerald will go off. But it won't be this week. The Ravens defense is in the top-five when it comes to fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks and receivers and Kevin Kolb hasn't exactly resembled that certain Kurt Warner guy everyone he would. He'll get a few catches, but he Fitzgerald won't find the end zone. I'd be surprised if any Cardinals did this week, for that matter.
Week 8 Forecast: 4 REC 58 YDS, 0 TD, 6 PTS
Eric Decker WR DEN
Matchup vs Detroit
Why in the world would I place Eric Decker in my the Duds section, you ask? Well, because he's been the surprise gem of this year's receiving crop up until recently. He's ranked in the top-20 in fantasy points by a wide out this year and if it wasn't for his late struggles, he'd still be in the top-10. But I'd expect him to continue trending downward now that Tebow is in at QB. Tebow doesn't throw it deep much, which is Decker's strength and you've seen Tebow's passing numbers since he was named starter. They're not pretty. Detroit is pretty good against the pass. That all doesn't equal production in my book.
Week 8 Forecast: 3 REC 42 YDS, 0 TD, 4 PTS
Not-so-honorable mentions: Miles Austin, Dez Bryant
Marcedes Lewis TE JAC
Matchup vs Houston
A surprisingly stingy-even-without-Mario-Williams Texans defense has allowed the fourth-least fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season. Marcedes Lewis isn't exactly Antonio Gates. What more do I have to say? If you need a filler at TE, look elsewhere (cough, Daniel Fells, cough).
Week 8 Forecast: 3 REC 38, 0 TD, 4 PTS
Not-so-honorable mentions: Scott Chandler, Anthony Fasano
Dud Gut Call of Week Eight:
Andre Johnson WR HOU vs Jacksonville
It's not like the Jaguars defense is much to speak of, but I just get the feeling Johnson won't fare well this week. Its his first week back from a fairly major injury and even though the Jags aren't great, they have been decent against the pass. Look, you're starting Johnson no matter what, obviously. Just don't expect a typical day from the all-pro as he tries to get back into the swing of things.
Buffalo Bills Fantasy Meter: Bills vs Redskins
In theory, there should be plenty of sources for fantasy points in this game, from the Bills side, at least. There's no reason why Ryan Fitzpatrick can't throw for a couple scores, especially seeing as DeAngelo Hall may miss the game, or at least play hurt. Freddy Jackson is a must start in any league, for any matchup, for the rest of this season. The man has been incredible and he's given you no reason to doubt his production against anyone. I already mentioned David Nelson above and maybe the Defense/Special Teams could even be a sneaky stark given Washington's injury woes on offense. No to mention, this game will be played in doors, taking any weather out of the picture, which obviously speaks well for the Bills' spread offense. Honestly, it's a very favorable schedule going forward Buffalo's offense, so grab your Bills while you can.
Disagree with something I said? Well, let me hear it in the comment box! Better yet, follow me on Twitter if you seek answers to any additional fantasy questions you may have @THWGoldSchlager.