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Schaub, Stafford strong starts

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Michael Harmon

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For Harmon rankings: QB, RB, WR

“Get it off. It hurts.” – from “The Blob.”

OK. I took some liberty with the quote from the cult classic, but you get the picture. The Thursday night kickoff to Week 9 was not pretty. Once again, one of the combatants failed to surmount much of a fight. Sure, the Chiefs mounted a couple of long drives, but they predictably ended in turnovers (Dwayne Bowe owners were incensed).

The Chiefs continued their magical, mystical run toward historic lows with another putrid effort against the Chargers. However, Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates gave fantasy owners reason to cheer. Rivers completed 18-of-20 pass attempts for 220 yards with two touchdowns. Granted, one of his other attempts was a red zone interception that ended the first half and opened a Twitter firestorm. Gates caught three passes for 43 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown.

Otherwise, it was a fantastic night for the San Diego defense and Blake Shelton. That’s right. I mixed in some Country Music Awards information for you.

You had a surge of energy in San Diego when the Chargers scored two quick defensive touchdowns. Those two plays interrupted a long, slow march toward the final gun.

So, fire up the jukebox and spin some tunes as we contemplate “Lineup Calls” at the quarterback position for Week 9.


(Exclude Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Robert Griffin III, Matt Ryan and Eli Manning)

Cam Newton at WAS
Newton passed for over 300 yards in the crushing road loss to the Bears in Week 8, but most remember his body language following the goal-line fumble and the interception returned for a touchdown.

Through seven games, the second-year quarterback has generated just two multi-touchdown games. This matchup represents a short-term fix for Newton and the Carolina offense. The Redskins have been torched time and again downfield and have surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Washington has allowed multiple touchdowns in five of their seven games (Eli Manning and Josh Freeman failed to do so). Cam passes for at least one and runs one in as well.

Matthew Stafford at JAC
Stafford finally had his breakout game in an unlikely spot in Week 8 against the Seahawks. He threw three touchdown passes, adding a fourth on the ground. In fact, that was Stafford’s first multi-touchdown game of the year.

I’m anticipating a strong follow-up effort against the Jacksonville defense this week. Granted, the Calvin Johnson missed practices (including Friday’s workout) are somewhat discouraging, but the breakthroughs of Titus Young, Sr. and Ryan Broyles alongside Brandon Pettigrew leave me optimistic. The Jaguars have allowed a total of 11 touchdowns (nine passing) against four interceptions.

Michael Vick at NO
This is it. No, I am not referencing the Michael Jackson film of the same name. Vick gets his last shot in fantasy lineups, and perhaps for Andy Reid’s Eagles, against the sieve-like New Orleans pass defense. The Saints have allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Quarterbacks have thrown 15 touchdown passes against three interceptions. Vick sits in the No. 8 slot for me this week. Break out the popcorn on Monday night.

I know that Vick has passed for less than 200 yards in two of his past three games. The Saints offer a magic concoction to temporarily alleviate your ills that nothing in the pharmacy or “Star Wars” or “Harry Potter” universes can deliver.

Ben Roethlisberger at NYG
Roethlisberger looked resplendent in his throwback uniform last week against the Redskins and became the latest quarterback to victimize the hapless Washington pass defense (222 yards with three touchdowns). He ended a three-game downturn in production in that glorious matchup. Roethlisberger keeps things rolling this week against the Giants secondary.

We saw Tony Romo overcome a terrible first half to rally the Cowboys and post pinball-like numbers in Week 8. Robert Griffin III also completed a high percentage of his pass attempts, passing for 258 yards with two touchdowns.

This game comes down to the Pittsburgh offensive line keeping JPP and company at bay. He’s been efficient with the ball and dominates red zone opportunities. I ranked Roethlisberger 10th this week.

Jay Cutler at TEN
Fantasy owners and Bears fans continue to wait for that big, explosive game from Jay Cutler and the Chicago passing attack. Could this be the week on the road in Tennessee? The Titans have allowed the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season (17 touchdowns against six interceptions).

The Tennessee defensive front has generated just 11 sacks, a game note that is music to the ears of Chicago fans tired of watching Cutler slammed to the turf. The fact that Tennessee also surrenders nearly 140 rushing yards per game opens up the play-action game and opportunities for Devin Hester (bigger package) and Earl Bennett (deep sleeper).

Tony Romo at ATL
Romo’s performance in Week 8 was appropriate given that the Halloween celebration followed days later. He was both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde during the narrow loss to the Giants.

I put Romo on the board as a back-end QB1 option (No. 12) against the Falcons. I know that the Falcons have allowed the 10th-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. The Cowboys offer a fantastic set of skill position players to counter the Atlanta secondary. Despite the reputations of these defenses, I expect this one to open up a bit.

Matt Schaub vs. BUF
Schaub returns from the Bye week with a ridiculous opportunity against the heretofore lifeless Buffalo defense. The Bills have allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks (16 total touchdowns against six interceptions), so the potential for a monster game exists.

But, before you start bouncing him too high up the rankings sheet, remember that the Bills have also been the worst team against running backs. Opponents are averaging six yards per carry against Dave Wannstedt’s defense. That is the lone, though hefty, obstacle in Schaub’s path to a huge Sunday.


Carson Palmer vs. TB
The Buccaneers made noise by trading Aquib Talib to the Patriots for a draft choice. To date, the Tampa Bay pass defense has been hit-or-miss to yield a 16th-place rank in terms of fantasy points.

Palmer hasn’t been dominant, but he’s averaged 277.3 passing yards per game. He has two viable deep threats in Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey against a depleted Tampa Bay secondary. The Buccaneers’ defensive front has been strong against the run thus far, thereby suggesting deep throws from Palmer early to free up Darren McFadden.

Josh Freeman at OAK
Does Freeman qualify in this category anymore? He’s thrown three touchdown passes in three consecutive games, but remains a fringe QB1 or early-QB2 and the subject of innumerable Sit/Start questions this week. I have him ranked 14th against the Raiders.

The Raiders have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Opponents have completed two-thirds of their pass attempts, and the Raiders fail to surmount much of a pass rush (10 sacks). Ride the hot hand.

Ryan Fitzpatrick at HOU
I’ll admit it. I’m merely chasing garbage points here. Once again, Wade Phillips’ defense has performed tremendously through seven games. Take out that dud of an effort against the Packers and Aaron Rodgers’ six touchdowns and you have a dominant defense (seven passing touchdowns allowed in their other six games).

Fitzpatrick will wing it around in frantic comeback mode between dump-off to the running backs and deep balls to Stevie Johnson. Desperate owners might even take a look at tight end Scott Chandler. Fitzpatrick will turn the ball over a couple times, but gambling owners may receive some fourth-quarter savers.


Andrew Luck vs. MIA
Luck and the Colts have posted a surprising first half, and the rookie quarterback has performed particularly well at home. I know that there’s definitely a split between the dominance of the Miami run defense and the yardage allowed in the passing game (281 per game). However, that number doesn’t make for huge outings, as the Dolphins have only surrendered eight passing touchdowns against eight interceptions with 22 sacks.

Depending on your options (Brady?), Luck may find his way into your lineup this week. I have him ranked 17th.

Joe Flacco at CLE
Flacco wins against the Browns and John Harbaugh wins games after Bye weeks. Those are historical facts.

However, I’m still not jumping onboard the bandwagon here. Flacco has been terribly inconsistent this season following a hot start, and his top target, Torrey Smith, has been contained for much of the year. I know that the weather and multiple drops contributed to the Browns’ shutdown of the Chargers in Week 8, but I shan’t dismiss the performance. Cleveland has performed well of late, and Flacco has struggled on the road. He’s ranked 18th for me this week.

Andy Dalton vs. DEN
Longtime readers know of my affinity toward Dalton and this Cincinnati passing attack. However, his propensity to turn the ball over is something that drops him a few slots this week against Denver. Peyton Manning will put up points against the Bengals, thereby forcing Dalton to chase and take chances.

Dalton will need to press to get the ball to his favorite target, A.J. Green, who will be locked up against Champ Bailey. He’s thrown at least one interception in every game this season. I expect him to get to a high yardage count late, but it won’t be pretty.

Tagged: Falcons, Bills, Bears, Bengals, Cowboys, Broncos, Lions, Packers, Colts, Chiefs, Raiders, Saints, Giants, Eagles, Buccaneers, Redskins, Panthers, Ravens, Steelers, Chargers, Texans, Michael Vick, Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Earl Bennett, Matthew Stafford, Josh Freeman, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Ryan Broyles, Robert Griffin

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