Week 8: Player Upgrades
Player Upgrades is intended for fantasy football diehards. Each week when setting a lineup, a closer analysis is necessary to find out which players are destined for a great performance. Sometimes it is a favorable matchup or it can be as simple as an increased role due to an injury. Very few players are matchup-proof in this game. For every Aaron Rodgers or Ray Rice, there are a dozen players who could potentially be interchangable depending upon a number of factors.
This weekly article isolates your best options for a statistical breakout from Week 1 to Week 17. Let FFToolbox do the homework for you! Instead of scouring the waiver wire and opening up 20 tabs to compare and contrast players, let Player Upgrades be your guide. Each week, we will identify seven players (typically two QBs, two RBs, two WRs and one TE) that you should consider starting and we'll break each player down with some analysis.
Excluding obvious names like Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Robert Griffin III, and Peyton Manning, no other quarterback is playing as well as Josh Freeman in his last two games. Certainly it helps that Tampa Bay has faced two putrid defenses in consecutive weeks; those being Kansas City and New Orleans, respectively. Freeman has passed for 748 yards, six scores and one INT in those two contests. Minnesota will offer more resistance in Week 8, but after that, matchups against the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers swing heavily in Freeman's favor. Tampa ranks 15th in passing offense and 31st in passing defense. Logic tells us if they are giving up a lot of yards, they are probably giving up a lot of points. That translates into more passing opportunities and more fantasy points for Freeman.
For the second consecutive week, I must reiterate the tremendous value surrounding Andrew Luck. Over his next seven games, he will play five games against the worst fantasy defenses against quarterbacks. The Colts play Tennessee twice, Jacksonville, New England and Buffalo. The stiffest defense Indy will play for the rest of the season comes in Week 13 against the less than mediocre Detroit Lions. Admittedly, Luck has few weapons on offense not named Reggie Wayne, but the larger point is this team struggles on defense which forces most of the offense to run through Luck. If you need a difference maker to lead you into your league's fantasy playoffs, it is Luck. His upcoming game against Tennessee could be the start of a really great run of performances.
It's already been established that Maurice Jones-Drew will be inactive in Week 8. What does that have to do with Alex Green? Well, think of it this way. Whether it's Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne under center, the Jaguars' already tepid offense will continue to struggle converting first downs. This means their defense will be on the field more and they will be worn out more quickly. Even though it's a given that Aaron Rodgers will likely light up this defense, points are certainly going to trickle down to Green. The Packers seemed to have finally turned a corner offensively and this is the type of blowout game that could really get away from the Jags quickly. Green has 42 carries over his last two games so that many touches against a torched defense could equate to big scoring.
In his last two games, Willis McGahee has put up solid total yardage numbers. He scored three TDs in his first four games and since then, he has been quiet. Now the former University of Miami star is coming off a bye week to face the New Orleans Saints and their tremendously bad run defense. On the season, New Orleans has surrendered 1,123 total yards and eight TDs to running backs. Considering McGahee's ability to run and catch the ball out of the backfield, he could potentially score points in multiple ways. On average, featured backs are scoring 20 fantasy points per game against the Saints. After potentially jumping out to an early lead, look for McGahee to score points in bunches during the second half.
Mike Wallace may be collecting more touchdowns, but it's actually Antonio Brown who leads the Steelers with 57 targets, 36 receptions, and 442 receiving yards. It's illogical to say Brown is due for a big game, but this matchup offers a great opportunity for him to find the end zone. This upcoming game against the Washington Redskins presents the most favorable wide receiver matchup in the NFL. The Skins have allowed wide receivers to collect 110 receptions (second-most), 1,663 yards (most), and ten TDs (tied for fifth-most). PPR formats should start Brown without a second thought and standard scoring owners ought to keep their fingers crossed he finds the end zone again.