Sit or Start: Week 8
Last week’s episode of Start or Sit made reference to the number of dinged up players, and the injury-hindered performances such as the one turned in by Darren McFadden that may have cost many any chance at a successful week. As we trudge towards week eight, these fender benders are becoming rush-hour minor collisions as owners bitten by the injury bug are being overcome with college fantasy football’s equivalent to road rage. No fewer than three pre-season top-ten backs are currently huge question marks as we prepare for another Saturday that will eliminate many from fantasy league playoff contention.
Not only are smaller-school stars like Arkansas State’s Reggie Arnold continuing to emerge, but relative unknowns back in August, like Colin Kaepernick, are doing their best Lou Gehrig/Wally Pipp impression and in the process, giving owners a pleasant surprise comparable to a Friday afternoon office power outage. We know it’s a leap of faith to sit your banged-up star and replace him with a young lad whose only shot at a national telecast involves the purchase of a ticket, however one need remember that college fantasy football is about the numbers. In other words, get that big school bias out of your little noodle and start winning some games. Still not convinced to bench your P.J Hill in favor of Jalen Parmele? Well, if absolutely necessary we’ll play Butch Cassidy to your Sundance, and we’ll take that jump right with you. Stealing the immortal words of one Pat Benetar, we’re all fired up as it’s week eight, and time to start ‘em and sit ‘em
Two games and four top-flight fantasy stud quarterbacks. In a tragedy that ranks right up there with the first time a record exec gave Avril Lavigne a recording contract, both Texas Tech at Missouri and Florida at Kentucky is kicking at the same time. When one also considers the morbid curiosity piqued by the USC vs. Notre Dame game also at 3:30 EST, it’s clear that the network sports suits care nothing about the college fantasy football fan.
Nearly every single player not wearing blue and gold is worthy of starter consideration in those aforementioned games. On the quarterback side of things Graham Harrell, Chase Daniel, Tim Tebow and Andre’ Woodson will wing ‘em around and run like a teenage deviant with a carton of eggs.
Northwestern’s C.J Bacher is one of the nation’s hottest quarterbacks and now he gets to head to Detroit's Ford Field to tackle Eastern Michigan. Bacher has been seen in Evanston this week with a look comparable to the one on Tom Cruise’s character’s face when he realizes that Dustin Hoffman could count cards in Rain Man. Like last week, it’s time to get really rich.
If there’s one true leap of faith on this week’s list it has to be Willie Tuitama. Faith is often defined as a belief that is not based on proof. Anyone who’s seen the Wildcat offense of late is fully aware that we have no proof of anything more than a lot of two-yard passes that go for…well…about two yards. Still Willie T comes in at spot number thirteen because we’re extremely arrogant, but in a cool way, like Steve Spurrier. We base this faith in Willie on the fact that Arizona is playing Stanford this week and not Oregon State and USC.
Paul Smith is once again firmly entrenched in our top-five. A couple years back offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn was a coach in the highly acclaimed Arkansas public school system. Now he’s running a high scoring offense at Tulsa. At this rate he’ll be coaching the Patriots in two weeks.
Adam Weber welcomes North Dakota State, no patsy by any means, but a shootout is possible. Which is why he joins fellow no-name quarterback C.J. Bacher in our top 20 once again this week.
Colt McCoy seems back to form, and Baylor has struggled of late.
Others to Watch
My sleeper quarterback of the week is Aggie Stephen McGee. The Nebraska defense has more holes in it than Sonny Corleone. Along those same lines Todd Boeckman of Ohio State and Taylor Bennett of Georgia Tech have favorable looking match-ups this week if you are in need of some help at quarterback.
For two weeks I’ve been giving a mea culpa for writing off Dan LeFevour. In case you didn’t notice I buried his fantasy possibilities two weeks ago. Since then he’s accounted for twelve scores in two weeks. Now, of course, we put Dan LeFevour back on the sit list. He’s like that poor kid in the middle of a custody battle. Central Michigan travels to Clemson this weekend, and although the Tigers certainly have their issues, they are not Ball State or Army. Sit LeFevour and watch him go for seven scores this week.
Kellen Lewis had a nifty touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage against Michigan State last Saturday night. Then Kellen Lewis took a break for a long while. Now Lewis gets to face a Nittany Lion defensive unit that is considerably better than the Spartans. Sit young Mr. Lewis.
Iowa may have been given new life thanks to some stout defense and the fact that Ron Zook boarded the Illinois team plane for last week’s game. They’ll give Curtis Painter more of the same this week, even though this game is at Purdue.
Blake Szymanski was my starting fantasy quarterback for a while, and if there was ever a case of a team doing well with smoke and mirrors, it was my pathetic squad. Well the smoke has cleared and the mirrors have broken, and we’re left with a quarterback ready to take the clipboard. Szymanski was nothing more than a spot starter to begin with and with the talk of a quarterback change, that spot is on the bench.
I’ve got a bad feeling about Matt Grothe comparable to the one I had in my stomach after eating really old, warm cole slaw. Rutgers is a team that seems to play better when they are an after thought. That is exactly what they are as they welcome the #2 team in the BCS polls to town for a little Thursday night rumble.
Chad Henne may struggle with his security blanket nursing another injury and Illinois is playing some decent defense this year. So if you had thoughts of picking up Henne for spot duty this week, don’t do it.
After taking a leave of absence from last week's top 20, Eugene Jarvis is reveling in his spot at the top of the week eight fantasy big board. His consistent performances have put him ahead of Mr. Steve Slaton and the workhorse himself, Mr. Tashard Choice. Matt Forte rounds out our fab four as he gets to tackle the Mustangs of SMU.
Anthony Alridge will make life very difficult for UAB. Alridge has scored seven times over the last three weeks, and this week he’ll likely push to make that ten scores in four weeks.
Owners of Rashard Mendenhall are probably getting a little nervous as not only is Mendenhall coming off a sub-par performance in Iowa City, but he now draws a Michigan defense that has made considerable strides since their, shall we say, lackluster start to the season. 200 and two might be asking too much for Rashard, but he is simply too good, and Michigan will have to focus too much on Juice out of fear that another dual-threat quarterback will make them pay. Mendenhall should find room and the end zone.
Lost in the bewildering maze of crazy upsets and Lou Holtz pep talks is the fact that Tennessee running back Arian Foster is quietly having a pretty nice season, and this week Foster travels to Tuscaloosa to face a Bama team that really isn’t that good.
It appears that Buffalo has a running back named James Starks. According to the Buffalo Bulls website his favorite television show is The Simpsons, and he’s from Niagara Falls. Mr. Starks has also scored ten touchdowns in his last four games, and he gets to travel to Syracuse where Orange Coach (and former Chief D-coordinator) Greg Robinson misses the days it was only Dick Vermeil crying. Starks should continue his torrid pace.
Others to Watch
Rodney Kinlaw is Penn State’s clear number one, and he should pick up on the Indiana defense where Javon Ringer and Jehuu Caulcrick left off.
Nick Grigsby is my big payoff play of the week. He has been relatively quiet after his breakout game against Washington State. With Stanford on tap, we could see Nick post another big week.
Shannon Woods has been steady but not spectacular and could be forgotten by the Mizzou defense focusing a bit too much on Crabtree this week.
As mentioned at the onset three big-time, Big Ten backs are nursing injuries and the week eight status of all three is in doubt. Mike Hart, P.J. Hill and Chris Wells are all banged up and each may see limited carries. Hart sat out the entire second half in the laugher over Purdue, Wells has yet to finish a game in three tries due to reoccurring ankle injury and Hill is fighting his own (undisclosed) injury issues. If any and/or all of these backs are by far your best option(s), then you really have no choice. However each will likely struggle to meet their typical lofty expectations.
LeSean McCoy has been a pleasant surprise for the Pitt Panthers, and he’ll be a fantasy star for as long as he hangs out in the Steel City. This week he goes up against a tough Bearcat defense. This may be a good time to sit McCoy down.
Javon Ringer and Jehuu Caulcrick have been a dynamite one-two running back punch for Michigan State, and each has made his owners happy. Now the Spartan duo faces its toughest test in Columbus. This Buckeye defense has improved throughout the first half of the season, yet one may question their level of competition played. Still, the Spartan offensive line may find itself overwhelmed in the Horseshoe, and we’d advise giving the Spartan duo a break if comparable roster options exist.
Remember that Kentucky’s Rafael Little is out for this week’s game with the Gators. Hugh Charles may struggle to find room against the Kansas Jayhawks. I think the Virginia defense will continue to surprise and they’ll contain Maryland’s Lance Ball.
My colleague is all over a big bounce back week for Anthony Allen Friday night against UConn. With unconfirmed but apparent injury issues and Brian Brohm’s arm carrying the offense, I’m not seeing it.
Michael Crabtree’s inability to find the end zone during last week’s 170-yard receiving performance sent shock waves across the college fantasy landscape. Now Crabtree prepares to meet the Missouri Tigers in what could be the track meet of the season. If you’re a believer in the law of averages, Crabtree will either go for 6 touchdowns, or he won’t score again this season. We think it’s somewhere in the middle, and a 120 and two performance seems about right.
We figured if we’re going down with the Tuitama ship we might as well go all out and place his top receiver, Mike Thomas, in our week eight top ten as well. We don’t believe anything, even failure, should be done in a half-ass fashion.
Donnie Avery caught 346 yards of footballs last week against Rice. To put this in perspective I believe it surpasses the passing totals of the Oklahoma Sooners throughout the 1980’s. One school of thought says the man is on fire. Another says he can’t possibly do it again. Once again, the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle, and this middle equals 173 yards and a touchdown this week.
Ross Lane has made a steady climb up our boards, and he, like C.J. Bacher is likely foaming at the mouth at the thought of the Eastern Michigan Eagle secondary.
Jarett Dillard returns to our top twenty following a long absence. He and his fantasy disappointment cohort Mario Manningham are just hard to give up on.
Others to Watch
Jordy Nelson has put up good receiving numbers this year. He has been streaky in the touchdown department over his career and was held out of the end zone last week. With the potential of a high scoring affair against Oklahoma State, Nelson’s odds of finding the end zone should find improve.
He’s not in our top twenty, in fact he barely misses out. However freak Arrelious Benn could make life miserable for the Wolverine secondary. If your lineup is steady otherwise, a flyer with Benn could really pay off.
Chad Hall poses an interesting quandary for fantasy commissioners. Hall is officially listed as a Z back or Z receiver in the Air Force offense. Lately he has been doing more running than catching. If you can get away with starting him as a wide receiver, you could be in store for bonus points in the rushing column.
Dominick Goodman is emerging as a case of better late than never.
Jamarko Simmons will likely rebound against Ball State.
Nate Jones may be a prime recipient of a re-charged Colt McCoy and a struggling Baylor Bear team.
We’re pulling the ripcord for one week on MSU's Devin Thomas. He’s been All-Big Ten caliber up to this point, but he’ll be keyed on by a much better secondary than he’s seen all season. Quarterback Brian Hoyer will feel the heat.
It’s hard as a fantasy owner to watch DeSean Jackson. Fully aware of the talent he possesses, watching him catch fewer than six balls, as he’s done in all but one of his games this season, is painful. Waiting for Jackson to explode will have you waiting until next year for a playoff birth.
Greg Carr will struggle to get open against Miami. Speaking of Miami and Florida State…sorry, I was nodding off.
Army’s Jeremy Trimble is coming off an 11-169-2 performance against Central Michigan. The Yellow Jackets will bring him back down to Earth.
As Dan LeFevour struggles so too will receiver Bryan Anderson.
I’ve been all over Darius Reynaud this season, however I think it’ll be the Steve Slaton show on Saturday.
Oderick Turner has been a bright spot in an otherwise ugly Pitt passing game. He’ll likely struggle like the rest of the Panthers against Cincy. Avoid all Penn State receivers. The injury status of Clemson’s Aaron Kelly could make him a very hard sit with CMU in town.
Our preseason number one tight end returns to the top spot, and Darius Hill has a very inviting game with Western Michigan. While Dante Love has stolen a little thunder from Hill this season, he’s still caught six touchdowns, and he’s been as steady as any tight end in the game.
Speaking of consistent tight ends, Cody Slate has been a bright spot in an otherwise dark Marshall season.
Fred Davis remains on fire and the only receiving threat in the USC offense.
Missouri’s Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman (ankle should be fine)
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