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We’re with you every Sunday to provide the Sunday Six Pack, an article featuring six of the biggest storylines heading into each and every week of the season. Keeping tabs on these events will keep you prepared and informed throughout the season – just don’t drive within six hours of reading this.
Can #1) Unleashing a Lion
Gnashed his teeth and bit the recess lady’s breast. With Giovani Bernard likely out for week nine with a hip pointer, Jeremy Hill gets the chance to operate as the Bengals’ bellcow back against the Jaguars and their 20th ranked rushing defense that’s giving up an average of 115 yards per game. While Hill is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry (195 yards on 50 carries), he’s been very efficient in the passing game, catching 13 of 15 targets for 131 yards. Just based on volume alone, Hill looks to be an RB1 play with so many teams on bye in week nine. He’s outlook is even more improved by the impending return of A.J. Green, whose field stretching abilities should stop the Jaguars from bringing a safety into the box – that will also take some of the WR1 Mohamed Sanu upside away, although I’d still be starting Sanu as a low end WR2/high end WR3 with upside this week.
Can #2) Look, it’s Robert Griffin
R as in Robert Griffin. Despite the heroic performance of Colt McCoy in the Monday Night Football defeat of the Cowboys that certainly made his parents proud and likely earned him some extra dessert at Tuesday night’s dinner (plus and an extra-late bedtime), McCoy is now set to take a backseat to the now-healthy Robert Griffin III. Griffin didn’t look as horrible as he did in the preseason in his only full regular season game, completing 29-of-37 passes for 267 yards with no TDs or INTs, as the Washington Football Team kept his throws short and kept RG3 in the pocket (three carries for two yards). Griffin returns to face a difficult passing matchup as the Vikings are fourth in the league, giving up only 212.1 passing yards per game. In leagues where I own Griffin, I’m waiting a week to start him until I see he can both stay healthy and be effective.
Can #3) It’s the Final Countdown?
Will things ever be the same again? Going into their 16th head-to-head matchup, you have to wonder how many more Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning showdowns we are going to get. The forecast is cold and rainy for Foxboro on Sunday, and Bill Belichick usually has a trick or two up his sleeveless hoody for Peyton. In fact, Belichick has used a defense similar to the ones the Jets used against Manning in week six, where they dropped their LBs back into coverage and essentially conceded the run. The strategy worked well for the Jets, keeping the game close until a late, soul-crushing, Geno Smith pick six put the game away. Ronnie Hillman rushed for a 100 yards in that game and looks to be another strong start this week. especially against a Patriots team that is ranked 25th in the league against the run, giving up an average of 129.6 yards per game (remember that the Jets have one of the top run defenses in the league). On the other side of the ball, I’d expect more Shane Vereen this week and less Jonas Gray against the Broncos’ stingy run defense (ranked first in the league and only giving up 72.4 yards per game on the ground).
Can #4) Romo Got Back (Trouble)?
My homeboys tried to warn me. Tony Romo took that crushing hit on Monday Night Football and then somehow worked his way back onto the field, likely with the assistance of massive amounts of painkillers. Romo didn’t end up practicing at all this week, but is familiar enough with this offense and his main weapons that it shouldn’t matter much. The real question is whether he will be physically able to deliver the ball against an aggressive Arizona Cardinals’ defense tied for third in the league with ten interceptions. I’d expect Dallas to try to manage the clock and Romo’s exposure in the pocket with a healthy dose of the NFL’s leading rusher DeMarco Murray. Arizona’s run defense is ranked third in the league and is only giving up 77.9 yards per game, but Murray has been matchup proof so far, running well behind the Cowboys’ dominant offensive line. I’d expect Murray’s string of 100 yard games to continue this week, even if just on pure volume.
Can #5) One is the Loneliest Number
Its the saddest experience you’ll ever know. Geno Smith takes a warm seat on the bench this week as the desperate Jets turn their fortunes over to the hopefully less ill prepared Michael Vick. In relief of Smith last week, Vick completed just 18 of his 36 passed for 153 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. He did, however, run for 69 yards on eight carries. The Chiefs have been somewhat vulnerable to the run, ranking just 18th in the league and giving up 112.9 yards per game. Those desperate owners trotting Vick out there because of the bye week blues (as I am in a league where my quarterbacks are Rodgers and Cutler), are rooting for a lot of running yards, because Vick just doesn’t seem to have it as a passer anymore. It’s been said everywhere, but it’s true – the Chiefs D/ST are an excellent streaming option for the second week in a row. On the Chiefs’ offense, although Travis Kelce’s usage still remains lower than optimal, the Jets give up a ton of fantasy points to tight ends. The upside for Kelce is definitely there this week.
Can #6) Hopscotch
We’re pretty far along this course. DeAndre Hopkins usage has been very encouraging the past two weeks with 20 total targets after an abysmal two target outing in week six against the Colts. Hopkins is finally starting to take that step into WR1 territory and this week gets his chance against an Eagles’ defense ranked 26th in the league against the pass, giving up an average of 266.9 yards per game. The same defense that surrendered a seven reception, 160 yard and one touchdown performance to Larry Fitzgerald last week and also gave up the game-winning touchdown to John Brown on a 75-yard pass play. With Arian Foster running well and keeping defenses honest, Hopkins is a great play for both your dynasty teams and your DFS teams in Week 9.