NFL Real Talk: Week Eight

Stewart stands alone
Photo Credit: Matt Trostle

If I asked you who is the no. 1 RB in football, most of you would say Adrian Peterson. False. The correct answer is Jonathan Stewart.

Before you get the pitchforks and torches ready to storm Starbonell Mansion, remember that the question was “who is the most talented RB in football.” Sure ADP and Matt Forte get a lot of love in fantasy circles, but their teams go out of their way to feature them. Granted, they make the most of their opportunities, but if Stewart was given nearly as many touches as those two, there is no doubt in my mind he would be regarded as the top back in football. Armed with great speed, power, and agility, Stewart can out run you, make you miss, and bulldoze over suckas. He’s also emerging as a serious weapon in the passing game with 21 catches (on 23 targets) thus far. Sure ADP has power and speed, but he leaves a lot to be desired in the passing game. Forte? Dude is racking up yards like whoa, but he’s nowhere near the between-the-tackles bruiser that Stewart is. J-Stew has all the skill in the world to be one of the greatest RBs of our generation, yet he’s a free agent in 25-fucking-percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Yes DeAngelo Williams is annoyingly still in the mix and Cam Newton has scored seven rushing TDs, but Stewart is emerging. Williams’ terrible play has led to Stewart getting more touches. As for Newton’s pesky feet, do not be afraid. Head coach Ron Rivera has expressed a desire to keep Newton from running as often to protect him and Stewart actually got three goal-line carries last week. As the weather turns colder, the team should run it more, not that Stewart necessarily needs way more touches to warrant a starting spot in your fantasy lineup. Averaging just 11.3 touches per game, Stewart is averaging just under 70 yards per game and that’s following a slow start and inconsistent offensive line play. Even with 15 touches per game, he could put up RB1 numbers if he continues to get the rock in the red zone.

This is the perfect time to offer up a trade for Stewart. Elite RBs are the priciest commodity on the fantasy trade market, but you can literally have one for RB2 or flex value. Keeper league owners in particular should act because by next draft season, you could be looking at a first round draft pick. No joke.

Oh, and if you find yourself playing in a league where players of Stewart’s caliber are sitting on waivers, you need to step up your hustle.

Mo’ “NFL Real Talk” after the jump:

Available in over 40-percent of Yahoo! leagues, people are still hating on Knowshon Moreno even when he has a starting job (at least until Willis McGahee returns from injury). Moreno has undoubtedly looked underwhelming during his NFL career, but he still has a fair amount of talent. In the passing game, he’s displayed some excellent cutting abilty that could very well translate into rushing gains. John Fox’s crew doesn’t value Moreno nearly as highly as the previous regime in Denver, but Lance Ball isn’t much of an answer and Moreno should see a good number of touches in McGahee’s stead. Sure Ball looks like the favorite for goal-line work on paper, but Tim “The People’s” Tebow is likely to steal most of those opportunities anyway (the fuck). Point is, Moreno is a starting NFL running back and his ability in the passing game alone makes him a solid flex start while McGahee is out.

We talked about Jabar Gaffney’s merits a few weeks back and now that Santana Moss is set to miss five-to-seven weeks, Gaffney is a must-add. Gaffney is averaging 3.8 catches and over 60 yards per game. In PPR leagues, that’s good for seven-to-ten points a week depending on your settings, which is pretty solid for a flex option or WR3 during the bye weeks. Now he’ll be the top WR on the team for the foreseeable future and his targets and fantasy production should improve. He’s still available in 72-percent of leagues and if bye weeks are messing around with your starting WRs, he’s an ideal option to go after.

Turns out the only winners of the James Stark and Ryan Grant beef are the people who get to face the owners who roster either one of these jabronis.

Dezmon Briscoe was one of my favorite deep sleepers at WR coming into the season, but I’m not that excited about him going forward. The Week Seven performance was nice (six catches, 73 yards, TD), but you can’t really trust anyone in Tampa Bay’s passing game. Josh Freeman is still playing this rinky-dink, Alex Smith-esque style of QB this year. You know, the kind of quarterbacking where you are too shook to throw it downfield and instead just dump short passes off to your receivers. Anyway, “The Briscoe Kid” is fourth on the receiving totem pole behind WR3 Mike Williams, Kellen Winslow, and Arrelious Benn. We’ve seen what Williams (a WR3 at this point) can do with the most targets on the team, so there’s no reason to think Briscoe will be sniffing fantasy starting lineups in 2011 unless Freeman grows a pair.

Last week on “Real Talk,” we strongly recommended adding Greg Little. Considering how atrocious the offense was in the Browns-Seahawks game, Little’s seven targets (five catches, 53 yards) is actually pretty impressive and it’s obvious the team will lean on him in the passing game. He’s still only 24-percent owned in Yahoo! leagues, which is ludicrous. A no. 1 WR on any team should have a higher ownership rate than that.

I called Michael Turner a prime sell-high candidate last week and his excellent fantasy day in Week Seven (27 carries, 122 yards) just makes this fruit even more ripe for the picking (pause). Again, he has had a vicious workload during his time in Atlanta, wore down dramatically last season, and the Falcons should be going more pass-friendly when Julio Jones returns. The time to move Turner for a maximum returns is now.

A few weeks ago I touted Jason Hill as an intriguing deep sleeper to keep an eye on. Since the shout out, he’s scored two TDs in three games averaging 3.7 catches and 69.7 yards. Hill will no doubt have some uneven efforts, which comes with the territory of playing with a rookie QB. Still, Mike Thomas isn’t that impressive and Blaine Gabbert seems to be looking more in Hill’s direction. Despite what the depth chart says, Hill is by far the superior WR and with elite athleticism, it’s possible that he’ll finish the season as a WR3 with considerable upside. Hill’s health is always a concern, but while he’s on the field he should be owned in more than six-percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Never thought I would have to address such a thing, but Philip Rivers owners… calm the fuck down. Yes the 11 turnovers are hard to stomach and the seven TDs are incredibly underwhelming, but this is one of the elite QBs in football. Last year, he racked up over 4,700 yards mostly without Vincent Jackson and with a hobbled Antonio Gates. Even if Gates and V-Jax were to be out the rest of the season with strained vaginas, I’d still consider Rivers among the best QBs in fantasy. This dude does work regardless of who his receivers are and the Chargers have had some pretty crappy bums catching passes for them over the past few years. Rivers makes a damn good buy-low target right now if you can find an owner dumb enough to part ways with him.

Antonio Brown is getting a lot of attention following his seven-catch, 102-yard (nine targets) effort in Week Seven, but don’t get too worked up. He’s a talented player, but he only saw more passes thrown his way because Hines Ward was sporting an ankle injury. Ward may again be limited in Week Eight, but it’s been reported that Emmanuel Sanders, not Brown, would start in Ward’s place. Even if Brown were to start, his fantasy value would be extremely limited. Ben Roethlisberger has thrown for nine TDs in the last three weeks, but has only two multi-TD games on the season. The offensive line really limits what this pass offense can do and outside of Mike Wallace, there isn’t a receiver in this bunch who qualifies as even a potential WR3.

Though he’s battling a foot injury, Visanthe Shiancoe is a pretty solid bye-week replacement. His eight targets last week from Christian Ponder were tied for second among TEs. We’ve all seen how young QBs can lean on their TEs as they learn at the NFL level and while Kyle Rudolph is talented, the rookie has been used primarily as a blocker thus far. If Ponder keeps looking Shiancoe’s way, it’s possible he finishes the season as a top 12 TE.

Just because Tim Hightower is out for the season doesn’t mean Ryan Torain is a safe fantasy option. If we’ve learned anything from Mike Shanahan during his NFL career, it’s that he’s a bitch to deal with when it comes to guessing how he will use his running backs. Sure you could start Torain one week and get an RB2 performance, but you could just as easily see him net a handful of carries the following game. It’s just not worth the heartache. Of course, he deserves to be universally rostered because he’s a starting NFL running back, but I’d look to pawn him off on some RB-desperate sucker in a package deal because Torain will cost you some wins down the road.


About Starbonell

Starbonell is the co-founder of Sons of Roto and one of the most insightful and colorful fantasy analysts in the game. Mixing intelligent and well-researched advice with an entertaining style of writing that is easy to digest, Starbonell is the king of info-tainment.