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Moving Up, Moving Down: Week 8 – Peyton Manning Up-per Echelon Quarterback

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning throws a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Andre Caldwell during the first quarter against the San Diego Chargers on Thursday, December 12, 2013, at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver; Photographer: Christian Murdock/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

While Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning can’t technically move higher than the consensus number one rank he already holds, out of respect for his latest milestone, he gets the Moving Up treatment. Photo: Icon Sportswire

QUARTERBACKS

MOVING UP

Peyton Manning, Broncos
When you break the NFL record for most passing touchdowns in a career, you get the Moving Up treatment. After six games, Manning is on pace to throw for 4,928 yards with 51 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Experts claimed he couldn’t possibly repeat last season. Well…

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
While I’m not ready to anoint Tannehill as a fantasy starter at this point, he does have three straight multiple touchdown games and has 799 passing yards to go along with 132 yards on the ground in those games. Not bad if you’re looking for a bye week fill in. The Dolphins had theirs in Week 5.

MOVING DOWN

Kirk Cousins, Redskins
Officially not the Redskins starting quarterback of the future. With nine interceptions in 204 passing attempts to go along with a pair of lost fumbles, Cousins’ ball protection issues may cause him to lose his starting gig to Colt McCoy in Week 8.

Matt Ryan, Falcons
After throwing for 1,263 yards and ten touchdowns in his first four games, Ryan has just three touchdowns and 815 passing yards in his last three managing just 40 points in those games. While Ryan’s fantasy owners were hoping for top five production this season, the Atlanta offense is clearly trending downward.

RUNNING BACKS

MOVING UP

Bryce Brown, Bills
Although Brown has yet to garner a single carry in 2014, he figures to get plenty of them soon with both C.J. Spiller (broken collarbone) and Fred Jackson (groin) suffering injuries that will keep them out of the lineup in Week 8 and beyond. Brown put together some big games during his first two years in the league and rates as a RB2 until Jackson returns. With Spiller out for an extended period, Brown should emerge as a solid flex option even after Jackson is back.

Denard Robinson, Jaguars
In what was easily the best performance by a Jaguars running back this season, Robinson totalled 127 yards and a score on 22 carries in Jacksonville’s home win over the Browns. Let’s go ahead and make the assumption the Toby Gerhart era is over in Jacksonville.

Tre Mason, Rams
Tre Mason has big play ability. Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham do not. Mason owners who held tight figure to be rewarded in future weeks. While the Rams schedule isn’t pretty, Mason is looking like a solid flex play or RB3 the rest of the way.

Jerick McKinnon, Vikings
While he has yet to find the end zone this season, McKinnon is emerging as a solid duel threat out of the Vikings backfield with 309 yards on 60 carries and 93 yards on 16 receptions. Over the last two weeks, he has out touched Matt Asiata 38 to 10, solidifying his role as Minnesota’s starter over the balance of the season. He rates as a high-end RB3 with upside and a player with solid appeal in dynasty formats.

MOVING DOWN

Zac Stacy, Rams
We told you last week that everything that Stacy accomplished as a rookie when he ran for nearly 1,000 yards was based on volume. The Rams apparently agreed with Stacy not seeing a single touch this week. He appears to be stuck behind rookie Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham on the depth chart.

Khiry Robinson, Saints
Although Robinson played well when Mark Ingram was out of the lineup, he was out touched by Ingram 12 to three this week. Not helping matters was that he also lost a fumble.

WIDE RECEIVERS

MOVING UP

Percy Harvin, Jets
Moving Down last week as a Seahawk. Moving Up this week as a Jet. Hey, it was clear the Seahawks either didn’t know how to properly employ Harvin or they weren’t willing to make him a major component of their offense. That shouldn’t be a problem in New York where the Jets lack explosiveness at the skill positions. He rates as an intriguing upper tier WR3 with upside in 12 team leagues.

Golden Tate, Lions
Full disclosure. I am not a Golden Tate fan but I am warming up to him lately. With Calvin Johnson struggling with injuries, Tate has filled in nicely in the Detroit offense, topping 100 receiving yards in three of his last four games and scoring twice in those games. He is earning quarterback Mathew Stafford’s trust (completion to target percentage of 73.9%) and is now on pace to finish the season with 110 receptions for 1,483 yards and five touchdowns.

Doug Baldwin, Seahawks
Hey, it’s always a lukewarm endorsement when a Seahawks wide receiver gets the Moving Up treatment but with Harvin having left town, Baldwin is the team’s new number one wide receiver. While he just might be the worst top wide receiver on any team in the league, he should see plenty of targets the rest of the way as evidence by the 11 he received this week (catching seven for 123 yards and a score against the Rams).

Allen Robinson, Jaguars
The rookie 2nd round pick has been an absolute target machine over the past five weeks. With an assortment of injuries at wide receiver, Robinson has been targeted 50 times since Week 2. The Jaguars aren’t going to worry about high pass attempts for their rookie QB Blake Bortles while he learns on the job with a low emphasis on wins and losses this season, so expect the rookie-to-rookie connection to continue.

MOVING DOWN

Michael Crabtree, 49ers
While San Francisco is making use of all of their wide receivers, Crabtree is still seeing a fair share of targets (7.3 per game) but just isn’t making many plays with 13 receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown in his last four games. I am undecided if this is a buy low opportunity or whether Crabtree should be downgraded to a low end WR3 over the balance of the season. Tough call.

Brian Quick, Rams
After a hot start to the season (21 receptions for 322 yards and three touchdowns in four games), Quick has been targeted just six times in the Rams last two games, hauling in three passes for 43 yards. While this week’s dud can be explained away because he played the Seahawks, Quick owners shouldn’t be afraid to sit him when he is facing a team with a solid secondary. He just isn’t a true number one wide receiver.

TIGHT ENDS

MOVING UP

Dwayne Allen, Colts
With his three reception, 52 yard, one touchdown performance this week, Allen now has 167 receiving yards in his last three games to go along with touchdowns in four of his last five games (five in total on the season). While he is clearly touchdown dependent, the Colts seem to be scoring quite a few of them this season and Allen is clearly an in vogue red zone target for quarterback Andrew Luck.

MOVING DOWN

Jason Witten, Cowboys
Sure, it was a fluke that Gavin Escobar was the leading point getter at tight end this week after he scored touchdowns on two of his three targets but Witten has become a bit player in the Cowboys offense in 2014. After being targeted just twice this week, Witten is now averaging five targets a game and has just 23 receptions for 266 yards and a touchdown.

Delanie Walker, Titans
After a hot start to the season with 317 receiving yards and three touchdowns in four games, Walker has cooled considerably with just nine receptions for 121 yards and no trips to the end zone in the last three weeks.

In the NOT CONVINCED JUST YET category, we present:

Kenny Stills, Saints – it helps that Jimmy Graham is playing hurt but Stills’ inconsistency makes it easy to discount his 100 yard, one touchdown performance this week.

DFS Fantasy Football Recommendations – Week 7: Great Matchup for Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson Versus Panthers

WR Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers

The Carolina Panthers defense is a far cry from a year ago, and this week QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Jordy Nelson get to take advantage. DFS players should build their Week 7 lineups around these guys. Photo: Icon Sportswire

The injury monster struck again in Week 6. We lost a few more key players including Stevan Ridley, Knowshon Moreno and Victor Cruz. We also expect Darren Sproles to miss a few weeks and Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham are unlikely to play this week. Those are some big names off the board. On bye this week are the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The impact of the injuries creates a lot of uncertainty this week, but let’s pull up our boots and get to it.

Quarterbacks

Elite, Expensive: Aaron Rodgers, GB (Week 7 vs Carolina)
Any time Rodgers is at home, he is a solid start. Defensively, the Carolina Panthers are not nearly as fierce as they were last season. They allowed 323 passing yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions to Andy Dalton last week, who, particularly without A.J. Green, didn’t have nearly as many weapons as Rodgers and the Packers. Carolina has the ability and play makers to force a close game offensively against the Packers defense. I expect Rodgers to take the game into his hands and put up big points.

Middle of the Road: Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (Week 7 vs Houston)
Roethlisberger put up a major dud in Week 6 against the Cleveland Browns. However, that follows a trend that he has had this season: 1 great game, 2 bad games, 1 great game, 2 bad games. Following that trend, guess what he is due for…that’s right, a great game! For his price this week and all the negative pub on the Steelers and OC Todd Haley, Roethlisberger is definitely worth the risk. He’ll have a low percentage of ownership in GPP play.

Cheap, High Upside: Carson Palmer, ARI (Week 7 @ Oakland)
Palmer, in a bit of a surprise start, finally returned in Week 6 from his shoulder injury and he had a good “welcome back” game of 250 yards and 2 touchdowns. Even better, as of right now, he came away from the game with no setbacks. Week 7 the Cardinals face the Raiders in Oakland, who are improving their competitiveness in games recently, so this could be a close battle. If that’s the case, Palmer might be forced to throw the ball more than otherwise expected.

Running Backs

Elite, Expensive: Matt Forte, CHI (Week 7 vs Miami)
Forte is rolling right now, making his traditional fantasy football league owners extremely pleased they “settled” for him after Adrian Peterson or LeSean McCoy. In Week 6, Forte faced the worst run-defense statistically and finished with 80 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns and 10 receptions for 77 yards. Forte is second among running backs for fantasy points and first overall for receptions. Ride the hot hand with Forte in Week 7 facing the Miami Dolphins at home.

Middle of the Road: Andre Ellington, ARI (Week 7 @ Oakland)
Ellington is the primary back in Arizona and with Palmer back, it will open up the field more for Ellington. He also is a great threat in the passing game. Oakland just allowed over 100 yards rushing to Brandon Oliver and 23 yards receiving. Ellington is a better back than Oliver, so I expect similar, if not better stats from Ellington this week.

Cheap, High Upside: Justin Forsett, BAL (Week 7 vs Atlanta)
Atlanta Falcons have the worst run defense in the league and now they face a hot running back in Forsett. He just posted 111 yards rushing against another weak run defense, the Buccaneers. Look for Forsett to continue this pace against the Falcons.

Wide Receivers

Elite, Expensive: Jordy Nelson, GB (Week 7 vs Carolina)
Carolina allows the seventh most fantasy points per game against wide receivers. As I stated above, I love Rodgers this week, so why would I not love his number one option of Nelson? Nelson is narrowly the second best wide receiver in the league. All signs point to “GO” for Nelson this week.

Middle of the Road: T.Y. Hilton, IND (Week 7 vs Cincinnati)
Hilton is coming off a career game in Week 6, making 9 receptions for 223 yards and 1 touchdown. Hilton leads the Colts in targets and receptions. While not official, he may have stepped past Reggie Wayne as the number one receiver for Andrew Luck. Cincinnati’s defense has struggled the past two weeks allowing 576 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. Hilton has a great opportunity this week.

Cheap, High Upside: Torrey Smith, BAL (Week 7 vs Atlanta)
Smith is coming off his best game of the year with 4 receptions, 51 yards and 2 touchdowns. Atlanta is having a hard time stopping teams on defense, so Smith has a good chance to find the end zone again this week.

Tight Ends

Elite, Expensive: Julius Thomas, DEN (Week 7 vs San Francisco)
Thomas is the best tight end so far this year by a landslide. San Francisco just allowed 96 receiving yards and 1 touchdown to the St. Louis Rams tight ends. Losing Patrick Willis midgame likely did not help matters for the 49ers, and Willis is expected to be inactive this week. In a primetime game between two Super Bowl contenders, I expect both teams to be pumped up, and for Peyton Manning to lean on his top red zone target.

Middle of the Road: Jordan Cameron, CLE (Week 7 @ Jacksonville)
Cameron had a great game Week 6, earning 102 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. He is the best receiving option Brian Hoyer and the Browns have right now. Cameron has another great matchup Week 7 against Jacksonville, who rank fourth worst in fantasy points allowed to tight ends.

Cheap, High Upside: Clay Harbor, JAC (Week 7 vs Cleveland)
Since Blake Bortles has taken over at quarterback, Harbor has 14 receptions, 183 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. It is obvious Harbor is Bortles’ safety valve. For his price, he has great value. I expect Bortles to lean on Harbor again this week as Cleveland has a good defense.

Defense

Buffalo Bills (Week 7 vs Minnesota)
Buffalo is home and playing the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota struggled last week with Teddy Bridgewater under center, trying to figure out what kind of football they want to play. Buffalo has a good defense that should take advantage of the Vikings woes.

Cleveland Browns (Week 7 @ Jacksonville)
Cleveland is playing some of its best football right now, on both sides of the ball. Factor in the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are just not very good, and Cleveland should be able to get the win while creating some chaos (sacks, turnovers) for the Jaguars offense along the way.

Moving Up, Moving Down: Week 7 – More Injuries Bump Up Miller, Randle, Beckham

WR Rueben Randle, Giants

New York Giants WR Rueben Randle moves into the top spot on the depth chart with the season ending injury to Victor Cruz. He’s a moving up, but maybe a sell high right now, too. Photo: Icon Sportswire

QUARTERBACKS

MOVING UP

Derek Carr, Raiders
Simply noting that he was able to take advantage of a banged up Chargers secondary this week, throwing for 282 yards and four touchdowns. Carr has some dynasty appeal. At least, as much appeal as any Raider can have.

MOVING DOWN

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
Big Ben has topped 20 fantasy points just twice this year and it appears the team’s lack of depth at wide receiver is hurting his production. Not helping matters is that Heath Miller is either playing injured or has hit the wall hard at 31 years of age. With just two truly above average skill position players helping him out in Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, Roethlisberger is suffering from a lack of weaponry.

RUNNING BACKS

MOVING UP

Tre Mason, Rams
With the Rams playing a nationally televised game (a rarity to be sure) and Mason making his season debut, let’s just say that his fantasy stock will be on the uptick this week. The 2nd round pick provided an explosive element to a backfield clearing lacking that key ingredient, rushing five times for 40 yards and taking his lone reception for 12 yards. If not for one of his own players getting in his way, Mason would have had a long touchdown run as well. He will be starting in the very near future.

Lamar Miller, Dolphins
With Knowshon Moreno out for the year and the Dolphins devoid of talent behind Miller on the depth chart, he figures to receive a workhorse role over the balance of the season. Provided he can withstand the load, Miller has a chance to emerge as an upper to mid-tier RB2 from here on out.

Jerick McKinnon, Vikings
McKinnon drew the start this week against the Lions and totalled 17 touches to just three for former starter Matt Asiata. The diminutive rookie gained 82 yards on those touches and figures to continue to start over the balance of the season as the Vikings attempt to figure out their plans at running back for the 2015 season.

Antone Smith, Falcons
Smith has touchdowns in each of his last four games. He has 266 yards on just 18 touches. That’s 14.8 yards per touch. Steven Jackson is a plodder at this point, Jacquizz Rodgers will be looking for a new team next season and rookie 4th round pick Devonta Freeman has looked okay, nothing more. So, why isn’t Smith getting more touches? Riddle me that one.

Brandon Bolden, Patriots
While it is conceivable that rookie 4th round pick James White will take over Stevan Ridley’s role as the Patriots power back with Ridley out for the season due to a torn ACL, the smart money should be on Bolden. The 220 pound Bolden rushed for 545 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 4.9 yards per carry in limited action over the past two years. With an inconsistent passing attack, New England figures to run the ball more in 2014 than in prior years.

MOVING DOWN

Zac Stacy, Rams
It’s officially official. Everything that Stacy accomplished as a rookie when he ran for nearly 1,000 yards despite not barely playing until Week 5 was based on volume. With Sam Bradford out of the lineup, the team’s wide receivers amongst the worst in the league and the cupboard bare behind Stacy at running back, the Rams had little choice but to run their offense through Stacy last season. On MNF, it was clear that he is a full on plodder and with Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham backing him up, Stacy isn’t going to get enough touches to emerge as a RB2 over the balance of the season. Sell now.

C.J. Spiller, Bills
Spiller owners need to face the facts. Fred Jackson is the team’s top running back with Spiller the backup, change of pace option. Not helping matters is that Jackson is an effective short yardage runner. With 340 total yards and one touchdown in six games, Spiller is an RB3 at best.

Eddie Lacy, Packers
Let’s be honest. Lacy has one solid outing in six games this year. Is it just me or does James Starks look like the Eddie Lacy from 2013 and Lacy looks like the James Starks from 2010 to 2012? Just sayin’.

Terrance West, Browns
Healthy scratch. After posting a 100-yard performance in Week 1 and racking up 190 total yards and a score in his first two games, West has rapidly fallen out of favour in Cleveland.

Matt Asiata, Vikings
No longer starting and never that good to begin with.

WIDE RECEIVERS

MOVING UP

Mohamed Sanu, Bengals
With A.J.Green out of the lineup, Sanu posted career highs in targets with 14, receptions with 10 and yards with 120 while scoring once. That gives him touchdowns in three of the last four games. While I am not a big believer, Sanu is definitely worth starting until Green returns to the lineup especially considering Marvin Jones is heading to see a specialist regarding why the ankle injury he suffered in the preseason isn’t progressing.

DeSean Jackson, Redskins
With three 100-yard receiving performances in his last four games and coming off a three reception, 115 yard, one touchdown performance this week against the Cardinals, it’s time to anoint Jackson as the Redskins top receiving threat (sorry, Pierre Garcon owners).

Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham Jr., Giants
With Victor Cruz out for the year, Randle takes over the role as the Giants top wide receiver but it is Beckham who will see his target count explode. Unfortunately, he missed most of training camp and is unlikely to be a consistent producer until he has a better grasp of the team’s offense. As for Randle, he has just 36.7 fantasy points despite being targeted a healthy 49 times in six games. Let’s keep our expectations in check on these two. When it comes to Randle, this might be a case where moving into the number one role actually hurts a player’s fantasy value.

Andre Holmes, Raiders
Nine receptions on 20 targets for 195 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his last two games. I’m totally comfortable starting Holmes.

MOVING DOWN

Percy Harvin, Seahawks
Well, it was pretty clear that Harvin would be a boom or bust option given how the Seahawks have used their wide receivers over the past few years. Five games into the season, it’s been almost all bust for Harvin in 2014. He has yet to top 100 total yards in a game or double digit fantasy points. Despite his explosiveness, Harvin is averaging 6.6 touches per game and has hauled in just 11 of his 26 targets.

Keenan Allen, Chargers
Just 296 yards and no touchdowns in six games, Allen is struggling with a sophomore slump. While there are better days ahead, it’s officially time to starting putting Allen on your bench if you have better options.

TIGHT ENDS

MOVING UP

Jace Amaro, Jets
The Jets offense is a mess and their wide receivers don’t offer much hope of turning things around. Amaro, the team’s 2nd round pick in this year’s draft, caught 10 of his 12 targets this week for 68 yards and a score. Let’s assume they do the smart thing and keep getting him involved.

Clay Harbor, Jaguars
With Mercedes Lewis out of the lineup, Harbor has 14 receptions for 183 yards and a touchdown in his last three games. Even with Cecil Shorts back, the Jaguars are lacking at wide receiver, meaning Harbor should continue to be useful over the next few weeks.

MOVING DOWN

Heath Miller, Steelers
Sure, Miller’s going to put together the odd solid performance as evidenced by his 10 reception, 85 yard, one touchdown effort in Week 4. More often than not, however, he’s going to disappoint. The problem is that he just isn’t a big part of the offense even with the Steelers having little depth at receiver. Removing his Week 4 game, Miller is averaging 4.8 targets per game.

In the NOT CONVINCED JUST YET category, we present:

Cam Newton, Panthers
As in Not Convinced Just Yet that he is back to elite fantasy starter status. Sure, he actually ran the ball this week but we need a little more evidence that it wasn’t just a one game mirage.

Jarvis Landry, Dolphins
He appears to have pushed Brian Hartline aside but we need another solid performance.