Week 8: Pickups of the Week
Armstrong hasn't lived up to expectations thus far, but his big moment may have finally arrived. Word out of Washington is that Santana Moss' broken hand will keep him out of action for five or more weeks. Someone has to step up and fill the void and quite frankly Jabbar Gaffney doesn't have the chops to do it. Anthony Armstrong will likely slide into the starting lineup opposite the veteran journeyman and will be called on to provide the kind of game-breaking skills that are no longer part of Gaffney's arsenal. Armstrong has crazy speed and will be used to test defenses deep. He'll be a hit-or-miss option most weeks, but draws his first start against the Bills' 30th-ranked passing defense and should capitalize on the opportunity.MyFantasyLeague availability: 0%
In his first action of the season, Demaryius Thomas was targeted a team-high ten times and notched a TD catch. And while the ten targets only led to three catches, it's telling that Thomas was the top choice for newly-minted starting QB Tim Tebow. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship. Thomas tantalized fantasy owners last season with a breakout Week 2, but fizzled down the stretch before eventually succumbing to a plethora of injuries. He's finally looking healthy again and will be trying to show he can stay that way and live up to his 2010 first-round billing.MyFantasyLeague availability: 100%
Ballard had been getting gradually more and more involved in his team's offense leading up to the bye week. That trend should continue as the realities of the NFC East in winter start to dictate a more conservative passing game. Ballard was used mostly as a blocker in college, but is coming alive as a receiver in the pros. At 6'6", 275lbs, he's a big target who's already shown (Week 4, Week 5) that he can be an effective weapon in the red zone. Another big bye week means there are some significant TE vacancies to fill. Ballard joins an extremely short list of viable waiver options.MyFantasyLeague availability: 100%
Every week I make a conscientious effort to plunge the sordid depths of football's pariah position -- the place kicker -- in the hopes of dredging up some ugly points for your fantasy squad. And don't kid yourself, points don't come any uglier than the kind that are earned by a little man kicking a ball between the uprights. Which brings us to our little man of the week: Olindo Mare. I won't bother to dignify his craft by talking about his ability, rather I'll use this space to call attention to the fact that his opponents this week (the Minnesota Vikings) have given up the most field goals of any team this season. If your kicker is on a bye this week, play the numbers and roll with Mare.MyFantasyLeague availability: 20%
What a difference a year makes. The Texans' defense -- their secondary in particular -- was a laughing stock last season, but Wade Phillips has turned this squad around. Through the first eight games of 2011, the Texans defense is giving up the fourth fewest points per game and the seventh fewest yard per game in the NFL. Their secondary is shored up and they've transitioned nicely into the 3-4 defense. This week they face off against their division rivals in Jacksonville who are at the other end of the spectrum entirely. Even after their stunning upset of the Ravens on Monday night, the Jaguars are still dead last in offensive yardage and only the lowly St. Louis Rams are averaging fewer points per game. Even if you're not yet a bona fide Houston believer, you should acknowledge the wisdom of giving them a spot start this weekend.