Week 8 RankingsSunday, October 28, 2012
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Last updated 12:30 p.m. ET on 10/28/2012
It’s impossible to overstate how sensational Aaron Rodgers was at St. Louis last week. With the exception of Bryan Bulaga stonewalling Chris Long, the Rams dominated the line of scrimmage and had Rodgers on the run throughout. It didn’t stop Rodgers from becoming just the fourth quarterback in the past half-decade to boast consecutive games with a Total QBR of 95.0 or better.
Dismantling defenses regardless of protection, Rodgers has regained 2011 MVP form in no small part due to the emergence of Randall Cobb as a multi-dimensional threat and one of the most reliable and efficient receivers in the NFL.
Cobb is first among NFL receivers in catch percentage (86), sixth in yards after contact (231), fourth in forced missed tackles (7), second in rushing yards (67), and 15th in fantasy points. Even better, Cobb is fifth in fantasy points over the past three weeks. He caught all passes thrown in his direction in Week 7, beating six different Rams defenders.
A week after anointing Cobb a “personnel and coach’s dream,” Rodgers raved about his new favorite weapon as a “star in the making” and a “big-time player.” With Alex Green struggling to read holes and stay on his feet, Cobb could even see more time in the backfield where he’s a threat to run the ball or go in motion to set up as a receiver. He’s here to stay as a weekly fantasy asset.
That’s not to overlook Jordy Nelson and James Jones, however. Jordy is flat balling; it wouldn’t surprise me if he finishes the season as the No. 1 fantasy receiver.
In the middle of a career season, Jones leads the Packers with 10 red-zone targets. If not for an inch or two on three separate plays, he would have posted a monster stat line last week. Jones was actually targeted three more times at St. Louis than his next-highest game. Keep the Green Bay receiver trio rolling against the woebegone Jaguars this week.
Update: Nelson was held out of Thursday's practice after his hamstring tightened up on Wednesday. He won't practice on Friday and appears headed toward game-time decision status. Nelson won't test the hamstring until Saturday at the earliest. With Greg Jennings out indefinitely following sports hernia surgery, Cobb is locked into a major offensive role for the Packers. It's not unreasonable to expect top-10 production from Cobb through the fantasy playoffs.
Week 8 Quarterbacks
QB Notes: Drew Brees-Peyton Manning has shootout written all over it. Brees continues to trend upward, increasing his passer rating in each successive game this season. … The Matt Ryan-Michael Vick showdown has sneaky shootout potential of its own with both teams coming out of the bye week.
Redskins OC Kyle Shanahan is increasing his head-coaching stock around the league with an innovative “full house” pistol formation similar to Air Force’s flexbone. When Robert Griffin III has struggled out of the base offense to open the game, Shanahan has immediately adapted by switching to backfield combinations not seen in the modern NFL. Griffin has been bathing in well-deserved hype for his fourth-quarter wizardry versus the Giants, but his first-quarter 35-yard touchdown strike to Josh Morgan (nullified by penalty) was his most impressive throw of the day. What’s even more amazing is how well RGIII has handled the blitz, leading the NFL in completion percentage (72.7), yards per attempt (11.7), and Total QBR (98.8) against five or more pass rushers.
Ben Roethlisberger has thrown a touchdown pass against every NFL team except the Redskins. That will change this week as the ‘Skins allow the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing QBs. … Eli Manning has nine fourth-quarter touchdowns of 20+ yards over the past two years; no other QB has more than four. Eli is throwing deep more frequently than any passer in the league.
Cam Newton picked the wrong week to turn his season around at Soldier Field. According to Football Outsiders’ metrics, the Bears boast the best defense through seven weeks since the 2002 Bucs. For all of the hand-wringing over Newton’s slow start, it’s worth nothing that he’s actually passing better than Week 8 opponent Jay Cutler this season. … Luck has surprisingly completed over 60 percent of his passes in just one game this year. He’s stayed relevant in fantasy circles with high volume. … Stafford’s mechanics are still a mess, and he’s facing what is arguably the league’s toughest pass defense.
Once Danny Amendola (clavicle) is cleared for contact, Sam Bradford will welcome him back with open arms. Bradford’s arm talent has been evident this season, but his receivers aren’t getting open with any consistency. The matchup is right this week against a Pats defense allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing QBs. … Weeden is sixth in QB fantasy points over the past three weeks. He’s now a solid QB2 option.
Josh Freeman has shown improvement, but his production spike has been propped up by porous defenses and a reliance on his big receivers to make plays at the point of the catch. Freeman is completing 56 percent of his deep throws this year compared to 35 percent a year ago. The Vikings are a much tougher matchup than the Chiefs and Saints. … Defenses are daring Christian Ponder to throw deep, but his average aimed pass is just six yards.