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Fantasy Football 2011: Week 8 START HIM! SIT HIM!

on Wednesday, 26 October 2011.

DAN WONDERS IF THE COLTS ARE FEELING LUCKY IN THIS WEEK'S START HIM! SIT HIM!

Fantasy Football 2011: Week 8 START HIM! SIT HIM!

Stanford’s Junior QB Andrew Luck is 6’4” and 235 pounds of football perfection. The son of former Houston Oilers QB Oliver Luck, Andrew blends ideal size with terrific arm strength, pinpoint accuracy, a great attitude and an off-the-charts work ethic.

Oh, he also maintains a 3.55 GPA as an architectural engineer at Stanford University, so he isn’t exactly a dummy, either.

He’s been tabbed as the best QB prospect since Peyton Manning (and possibly John Elway), and will undoubtedly hear his name called first in next April’s draft by whichever team is Luck-y (excuse the pun, but I promise that you will hear worse throughout his career) enough to draft him.

But which team will it be?

This past weekend’s games yielded three NFL teams who haven't gotten a win through seven weeks of the season. The 0-6 St. Louis Rams seemingly have their QB of the future in second-year pro Sam Bradford, and would likely trade the #1 pick—if they were,  shall we say, “fortunate enough” to land the top spot—for a king’s ransom.

It has long been considered a foregone conclusion that if the 0-6 Miami Dolphins finish the season with the worst record, they will select Luck #1 overall. Miami has been searching for the heir-apparent to Dan Marino since he retired before the start of the 2000 season, and would happily sprint to hand Commissioner Roger Goodell an envelope bearing Luck’s name, if given the chance.

That leaves the 0-7 Indianapolis Colts.

Anyone with the misfortune of tuning into NBC’s Sunday Night Football to watch the Colts get dismantled 62-7 by the New Orleans Saints, knows that Indianapolis isn’t going anywhere this season. The Colts have been in disarray since losing franchise QB Peyton Manning to what looks to be a season-ending neck injury, and will surely have a high pick come April’s draft.

Indy hasn’t had to worry about who their QB will be ever since they selected Manning first overall in 1998. The son of an NFL QB himself, Manning had been one of the franchise’s lone constants over the years and provided the Colts with invaluable stability at the most important position in American sports.

That all changed this offseason when neck surgery cost Manning his astonishing 227 consecutive-start streak, likely ending his season before it ever began.

With Manning sidelined, the Colts were given a glimpse into what the future might hold once Peyton—now 35—eventually retires.

It’s safe to say—fresh off of a humiliating 55-point loss to New Orleans in primetime on Sunday night—that Indy probably doesn’t like their sneak-peak of what’s to come. Armed with a lousy defense and a punch-less offense without their leader, things appear to be getting worse before they have a chance to get better. The situation is so grim that analysts everywhere have begun to wonder aloud: What will Indy do if they end up with the #1 pick?

On one hand, they could simply select Luck and ask Peyton to begin the grooming process with his eventual successor, while keeping their veteran QB around to do what he does best: set records and win football games. On the other hand, they could set the franchise up for years to come at other positions by trading the rights to Luck for (depending on who you believe) between three and eight-kajillion first-round picks.

If things continue the way they are going, and Indy does, indeed, have a shot at Luck, you will undoubtedly see many people point to the situation in Green Bay where QB Aaron Rodgers replaced (or, in essence, overthrew) Brett Favre after three seasons of holding the clipboard as Favre’s understudy. Supporters of Indy implementing a similar strategy will correctly point to the seamless transition from one Hall of Fame QB to potentially another, and how it has set the Packers up for potentially as many as THIRTY YEARS of uninterrupted brilliance at the most important position in sports.

That’s all well and good, but did you see the Colts on Sunday?

Did you see a Clay Matthews-type pass-rusher out there? A B.J. Raji-type run-stuffer? How did the secondary look that let Drew Brees complete 31 of 35 passes for 325 yards and five TDs? Did you see a Tramon Williams or Charles Woodson-type lock-down cornerback out there?

What about on offense? Did you see a Jermichael Finley-type target in the middle of the field? Was there a Greg Jennings or Jordy Nelson-type vertical-threat on the outside?  Did they have a Ryan Grant or James Starks to help balance the attack and run the ball?

Perhaps most important of all: How much time did QB Curtis Painter have to throw?  Indy’s offensive line is such a train wreck that it makes Lindsay Lohan look like a model for stability.

The point being: This team has holes. Lots of them, on both sides of the ball. Peyton Manning spent 13 years as a highly-functional, all-purpose Band-Aid for the entire Colts’ team—something he can’t realistically be counted on to be in the future. Does Indy really want to bank on Andrew Luck covering up their deficiencies all over the field the way Peyton did for so long? Or would they be better served drafting some playmakers that can eventually help their QB of the future, whoever he may be, achieve success?

To me, the answer is simple: You offer up Luck to potential suitors on draft day and help the team win now, while still building for the future.  The package of picks and players they could receive would likely resemble something in between The Herschel Walker Trade and The Ricky Williams Trade, which helped build those respective organizations for many years to come.

Football isn’t like other sports when it comes to log jams at its most crucial position. For example, if the Lakers draft the next great shooting guard to eventually replace Kobe Bryant, they can still get them on the court together anytime they want. This actually already happened when the San Antonio Spurs drafted Tim Duncan to be David Robinson’s eventual successor down low in the late-90’s, but played the two of them together and won a title.

But if the Colts select Luck to be their QB of the future, he doesn’t do the team any good until he becomes the QB of the present. Unless, of course, they decide to try him at wide receiver.

The remaining stars from the Super Bowl XLI victory in February of 2007 have remained mostly intact, save for WR Marvin Harrison. However, DEs Robert Mathis, Dwight Freeney, WR Reggie Wayne and TE Dallas Clark all join Peyton on the wrong side of 30, and won’t be around forever. Wayne and Mathis are set to enter free agency this offseason and may look to cash in for one final payday on a contending team, leaving the Colts with even fewer playmakers than they currently have.

When the Packers selected Aaron Rodgers late in the 2007 first round, they were brimming with talent at many key positions. It has become painfully obvious to anyone who has seen the 2011 Indianapolis Colts play that Luck wouldn’t be as fortunate if he does, in fact, become Peyton’s eventual successor. If Luck ends up in Indianapolis, he will be expected to pick things up right where Manning leaves off when he inevitably retires. That’s an impossible task for anyone—as Manning is already considered one of the very best to ever play the position—and would only be worse for someone with the type of sky-high expectations Luck already is being saddled with.

Anything less than annual trips to the playoffs and Pro Bowl, in addition to multiple MVP awards and a few Super Bowl trophies during his career, and Luck would be labeled a failure in Indianapolis. Those aren’t realistic expectations for anyone, nor are they fair to place on a 22-year-old kid who hasn’t taken a snap in the NFL, but that is exactly what will be presumed of him if he ends up in Indy.

Since I don’t have a dog in the fight—as I don’t root for either team—I’m going to hope Miami eventually is the “winner” of the “Suck for Luck” sweepstakes. I think it’s the best situation for him, but above all else—I think it’s what is best for the NFL.

After all, I don’t think anyone wants to see Peyton Manning’s loyal fan base holding their own START HIM! SIT HIM! debate following his first two-interception game after returning from injury.

Hey, that reminds me: We have Fantasy Football to get to! Enough of this “real life” football garbage, it’s time to get to what’s really important.

But before we get into Week 8’s START HIM! SIT HIM! It’s time to look back at Week 7 and see how I did:

START HIM!

QB Tim Tebow – Projection * 184 yards passing, 53 yards rushing, 2 TD, 1 INT (18 Points)

Actual * 161 yards passing, 64 yards rushing, 2 TD, 0 INT, two-point conversion (22 Points)

It wasn’t always pretty, it wasn’t always effective, but in the end he got the job done—both for the Broncos and for yours truly. You don’t get style points in fantasy—which is part of the reason I recommended Tebow in the first place—but you do get extra points rushing yards and two-point conversions. Solid overall numbers by Tebow, and he remains a solid play moving forward, depending on the matchup, because of his legs.

RB Jackie Battle – Projected * 78 yards, 1 TD (13 Points)

Actual * 76 yards, 0 TD (7 Points)

I very nearly had this one exactly right, but Battle was stuffed at the goal line before Le’Ron McClain eventually converted from in close for the Chiefs. I cannot, in good faith, call this a win because in the end, it really is all about the points and Battle came up short; though his seven points placed him solidly inside the top-25 for running backs on the week. He did manage 16 carries in the blowout win against the Raiders and looks like a nice flex-play moving forward.

WR Darius Heyward-Bey – Projected * 73 yards, 1 TD (13 Points)

Actual * 89 yards, 0 TD (8 Points)

Why I’m grading this as a win: DHB had 89 yards, which rank him inside the top-10 for all wide receivers on the week, and his eight points easily place him inside the top-20 for fantasy WR. Though his team didn’t score a single point against the Chiefs, DHB still provided me with a win during a week where mediocre WR performances were the norm. Also, his 11 targets were more than double the second-highest total on the team, which allow him to remain a nice WR2/flex-play moving forward.

TE Dustin Keller - Projected * 47 yards, 1 TD (10 Points)

Actual * 53 yards, 0 TD, 1 Fumble (3 Points)

The rules when playing Tight End Roulette: If the guy you pick up scores a TD or gets 70-plus yards receiving, you have to be happy with your choice. Keller did neither of those things (and even added a fumble for good measure) despite tying for the team lead in both receptions (4) and targets (8). I liked the matchup last week, but WR Plaxico Burress stole all of Keller’s red zone looks. He’s not a very good option moving forward and is strictly a bye-week fill-in the rest of the way.

Broncos’ Defense - Projected * 13 points allowed, 3 sacks, 3 turnovers (12 Points)

Actual * 15 points allowed, 4 sacks, 1 turnover (10 Points)

Denver’s defense played well on the road, but recorded only a single takeaway.  However, Miami scored just 15 points while allowing four sacks, which is plenty to justify starting them in fantasy. This goes as a win, though I would caution starting Denver’s defense moving forward against literally any other team that plays professional football—be it in the NFL, CFL, Arena League or otherwise.

SIT HIM!

QB Philip Rivers – Projected * 221 yards passing, 2 TD, 2 INTs (10 Points)

Actual * 179 yards passing, 1 TD, 2 INTs (7 Points)

Vindication!  Following a week where I recommended sitting multiple must-start options I settled on only one for Week 7. On the road against a terrific Jets’ secondary, Philip Rivers looked uncomfortable and, at times, confused. Darrelle Revis locked down star WR Vincent Jackson as Rivers struggled to find any of his other weapons with the exception of TE Antonio Gates. Start Rivers every week moving forward, but this clearly goes as a win.

RB Daniel Thomas – Projected * 44 yards, 0 TD (4 Points)

Actual * 53 yards, 0 TD (5 Points)

Likely a sign of things to come for Thomas as the ‘Phins simply don’t have the weapons to keep defenses from stacking the box against him. Thomas’s 19 carries for 53 yards against Denver’s very average rush-defense isn’t going to cut it, but it could be a sign of things to come for the rookie. Look to trade Thomas to another owner who believes in his upside and forgets Matt Moore is quarterbacking Miami’s offense the rest of the season.

WR Santana Moss – Projected * 53 yards, 0 TD (5 Points)

Actual * 17 yards, 0 TD (1 Points)

When I suggested you sit Santana Moss, I wasn’t expecting him to break his hand, but that certainly contributed to his poor performance. Moss seems likely to miss a month or more while his hand heals, but this obviously goes as a win for me.

TE Visanthe Shiancoe – Projected * 33 yards, 0 TD (3 Points)

Actual * 45 yards, 1 TD (10 Points)

I didn’t think I needed to waste much time explaining why I didn’t think Shiancoe would score in last week’s column, but he wasted even less time in proving me wrong. Shiancoe scored on just the third play of the game as Christian Ponder connected with Michael Jenkins on the first play from scrimmage for 72 yards, setting up the score for the Vikings’ tight end. I hate predicting which random low-end TE will score each week, and this goes to show why.

Bears’ Defense – Projected * 31 points allowed, 3 sacks, 1 turnover (4 Points)

Actual * 18 points allowed, 1 sack, 4 turnovers (12 Points)

It takes a brave man to admit when he’s wrong. Unfortunately I’m a coward, which is why I’m going to choose to ignore the facts and still say the right call was starting Denver’s defense over Chicago’s.

Hey, at least you didn’t start the Colts’ defense over the Bears, right?

All in all, I’m going to say this grades out as another 6-4 week. That’s pretty much par for the course and C- work all together. Hey, if you don’t like my grades, don’t copy off my paper. That is, of course, until I get an A+ this week!

On to Week 8!

START HIM!

QB Matt Hasselbeck – Projected * 277 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT (17 Points)

After their impressive showing in New Orleans last weekend–where they held the Saints to a measly 62 points–the Colts take whatever talents they have back on the road and head to Tennessee where they face a Titans team that was embarrassed by Houston last week.

Don’t be scared off by Hasselbeck’s poor performance last week (104 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs) as he had strung together five strong performances in a row prior to the stinker against Houston.

Also, did I mention they play the Colts this weekend?

If he doesn’t do well this time around he may lose his job, as Tennessee could decide to see what QB of the future, Jake Locker, looks like on the field; so look for Hasselbeck to have a nice day.

SIT HIM!

QB Tim Tebow – Projected * 137 yards passing, 43 yards rushing, 1 TD, 2 INT (9 Points)

As I said earlier, Tebow remains a solid play moving forward “depending on the matchup.” This isn’t a good matchup. The Lions rush the passer extremely well and have a very strong group of defensive tackles, lead by noted nice-guy Ndamukong Suh.

It’s basically a nightmare matchup for Tebow, as the only way to really beat the Lions' defense is to stretch the field and challenge them deep. Tebow’s biggest flaw as a QB is his arm strength, which doesn’t figure to get better by Sunday. Look for him to get hit as he throws a few times this weekend, which could lead to some wounded ducks floating into the Lions’ secondary.

START HIM!

RB Mark Ingram – Projected * 88 yards, 2 TD (20 Points)

This is the game.

It’s the one all Ingram owners have been waiting for. The one where he finally breaks out and does what everyone has been expecting him to do since the Saints selected him in the first round last year. Yes, I realize his 91 yards this past week came in the blowout win against the Colts, but he has another juicy matchup this weekend against the same Rams defense that DeMarco Murray just gashed for 253 yards.

SIT HIM!

RB Peyton Hillis – Projected * 41 yards, 0 TD (4 Points)

Hillis has been slowed by a hamstring injury of late and hasn’t rushed for more than 46 yards or a TD since Week 2. He doesn’t look like the same guy he was last year and shouldn’t be considered an every-week must-start option at this point.

As if that wasn’t enough, this week he faces what is shaping up to be a historically good 49ers run defense. Hillis is still listed as questionable for the game but even if he does play, he belongs on your bench, as does Montario Hardesty and every other running back for the Browns.

START HIM!

WR Jabar Gaffney – Projected * 93 yards, 1 TD (15 Points)

The Redskins just lost WR Santana Moss for at least a month and their starting running back, Tim Hightower, for the season with a torn ACL. The running game shouldn’t suffer a great deal, but the passing game is in bad shape. John Beck figures to lean on Gaffney more than ever in Moss’s absence, which could make the former Florida Gator a sneaky source of points until December.

He hasn’t had fewer than 54 receiving yards in any game this season, making him a nice low-end option most weeks. Look for that production to nearly double as his role continues to expand, making him a must-start for now.

SIT HIM!

WR Pierre Garcon – Projected * 46 yards, 0 TD (4 Points)

I said this earlier, but seriously, did you see the Colts on Sunday night? The side effects of watching their offense could potentially be detrimental to the development of children.

I realize Garcon has had a good season so far, but you don’t have to analyze the numbers too closely to realize they are, at least, a little fluky. Aside from his monster Week 4 and 5 performances–where he combined for 271 yards receiving and four TDs–he really has been subpar this season. Even his big weeks are slightly misleading as he accumulated most of the yards due, in no small part, to multiple blown coverages. I realize the points count all the same, but they aren’t exactly an indicator of future success.

Garcon hasn’t scored in any of his other five games this season and needs to be benched until he can prove to be more consistent.

START HIM!

TE Heath Miller – Projected * 43 yards, 1 TD (10 Points)

As infuriating as it can be trying to project which random tight end will score week-to-week, I actually feel pretty good about this pick. Miller has scored in two of his last three games and faces a pitiful New England secondary this weekend.

If the Steelers get in close, Roethlisberger often looks Miller’s way; so get him in your lineup, as Miller is my official “Random Tight End That You Wouldn’t Usually Start But You Kind Of Should This Week Because I Think He’ll Score” pick!

Be sure to tune in next week to read my excuse as to why he was kept out of the end zone by a secondary that I just called “pitiful.”

SIT HIM!

TE Greg Olsen – Projected * 38 yards, 0 TD (3 Points)

I don’t really have to explain this, do I? I just don’t think he’ll score. That’s really it.

For a slightly more in-depth analysis as to why: Minnesota has allowed only one receiving TD to opposing tight ends this season, and it was Jermichael Finley. There you go.That’s all I have.

START HIM!

Panthers’ Defense – Projected * 17 Points allowed, 4 sacks, 3 Turnovers (13 Points)

(I’m really trying to avoid calling this section “Start Whoever the Dolphins Are Playing!” Really, I am. But obviously start the Giants against Miami this weekend no matter what.)

I should probably start out by saying that I thought Christian Ponder played well, at times, during his first NFL start last weekend against the Packers. It was a horrible matchup for him, and he managed to keep his team in the game for most of it; which is really all you can ask of your rookie QB making his first start.

Still, he completed only 13 of his 32 attempts and threw two interceptions. This week, making his first road start in Carolina, he doesn’t figure to do much better. The Panthers have enough playmakers that they could score on defense, which makes them a high-upside play heading into this weekend.

SIT HIM!

Eagles’ Defense – Projected * 31 Points allowed, 3 sacks, 1 Turnover (4 Points)

I recommended sitting the Eagles’ defense earlier this season and got burned, but that was because Rex Grossman was quarterbacking the team they were facing. Yes, Tony Romo can be turnover-prone, at times, but he also leads an offense that can put up points in a hurry.

With DeMarco Murray’s monster game last week, the Cowboys look to have found some semblance of a running game that could make teams pay when they don’t respect Dallas’s ground-game. Philly is allowing a whopping 124 yards per game rushing, which is a matchup the Cowboys should be able to exploit this weekend.

Look for a bunch of points in this one and stay away from either defense in fantasy.

Best of luck to everyone this week! Also, a special best of “Luck” goes out to the Miami Dolphins. Hey, I told you the puns would get worse as time goes on–I just wanted to guarantee I’d be right about something this week.

START HIM! SIT HIM! Season Record: 39-31

If you have a fantasy football question you want answered, e-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I also became twitterpated this week! You can follow me @Dan_LaLonde and ask questions, or just enjoy some in-game analysis/celebrity-teasing from afar.

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