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Quick Fantasy Hits for Week 9

Senior Fantasy Writer
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As we wade into a ninth week of action, there are some nuggets that are too in-depth for the podcast, too smart for Twitter and a little too short for the full column. Enjoy these Week Fantasy Quick Hits for Week 9:

Your byes for Week 9: St. Louis, New England, N.Y. Jets, San Francisco.

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John Skelton is actually a good thing for Larry Fitzgerald. While the general consensus for Fantasy owners when John Skelton starts for the Cardinals is, essentially, a loud groan of resignation, there is actually statistical proof that when Skelton is the team's quarterback -- and not Kevin Kolb -- Larry Fitzgerald has better games.

Fitzgerald has played 14 games with Kolb as his quarterback and 17 games with Skelton. Because two of those games occurred with both Skelton and Kolb under center (Weeks 1 and 6 this season), we eliminated them. So there are 12 games of just Kolb and Fitzgerald and 15 games of just Skelton and Fitzgerald. The results:

Fitzgerald with Kolb: 12 games, 64 receptions, 932 yards, 77.7 yards per game, four touchdowns, 109 total Fantasy points, 9.1 Fantasy points per game.
Fitzgerald with Skelton: 15 games, 82 receptions, 1,243 yards, 82.7 yards per game, seven touchdowns, 153 total Fantasy points, 10.2 Fantasy points per game.
If you want to eliminate all outside factors and just take the stats from the last two years, when both Kolb and Skelton were playing for Arizona (Skelton started five games in 2010 when Kolb was still with Philadelphia), the numbers tilt even more in Skelton's favor, raising Fitzgerald's Fantasy points per game average to 10.8.

Interestingly enough, when Fitzgerald plays with both quarterbacks, he averages 10.5 Fantasy points per game.

While one Fantasy point per game isn't a huge difference, it's enough for Fantasy owners to not drop Fitzgerald's value down because of some misconception that Skelton is the lesser of the two quarterbacks. In fact, Fitzgerald has two games of 20-plus Fantasy points the last two years -- they're both with Skelton as his quarterback.

The Titans pass-catchers are maddening. Through eight games, the Tennessee Titans are 13th in the NFL in passing attempts and 16th in passing yards. But the yards are being spread around to four main pass-catchers, making none of them as valuable as they should be. In fact, the team's second-leading receiver, tight end Jared Cook, has reportedly asked for a trade because they aren't using him enough in the offense. The Titans' receiving yard leaders through eight games:

Nate Washington, 443 yards
Jared Cook, 373 yards
Kendall Wright, 351 yards
Kenny Britt, 209 yards

So far this season, Washington has had one week of 100-plus yards (112 in Week 3), Cook's high is 77 yards (also Week 3), Wright has had a high of 71 yards (Week 6) and Britt's topped out at 62 (Week 6). There is no discernible difference in the receivers' performance with Matt Hasselbeck as quarterback or Jake Locker.

Of the top three point-scoring performances this season, Washington (17 Fantasy points), Cook (13) and Britt (12) each have a spot. But Wright has four of the top 10. And the point leaders on a weekly basis for the group looks like this:

Week 1: Nate Washington, 11 points
Week 2: Kendall Wright, 8 points
Week 3: Nate Washington, 17 points
Week 4: Kendall Wright, 10 points
Week 5: Jared Cook, 9 points
Week 6: Kenny Britt, 12 points
Week 7: Nate Washington, 10 points
Week 8: Kendall Wright, 10 points

But, while Wright has the top score three times, he also had the lowest Fantasy point total of the group three times. Everyone, in fact, has had their turn as the lowest of that group. And the highest. They've averaged 5.9 points per week, with the median score being five points. No receiver has managed a 20 Fantasy point performance through eight games and they've scored fewer than five points more often than they've scored more than five. Of 30 possible weekly scores from the four players (Britt was suspended for Week 1 and missed Week 4 with an injury), they've combined to put up a shoulder-shrugging week of between 30 and 60 yards 17 times. Only once has anyone in the foursome hit triple-digits in receiving yards. It's a maddening dance with mediocrity.

So what does it all mean? Not that the Titans pass-catchers are all garbage -- any given week, one of them will step up and lead the team in Fantasy scoring. The problem is that there's no way to tell who is going to have the good game. If you got excited about Kendall Wright's Week 4 10-point performance and started him, you were then treated to weeks of five, six, and one point. And then he popped up with another 10 last week. The Titans receivers are erratic and their highs aren't worth the lows. Washington is owned in 79 percent of leagues but started in 24. Britt is 87/23. Wright is 60/14. Cook is 74/37. These look more like numbers for players who are coming off bye weeks than would-be starters for Fantasy teams. Halfway through the season, a top receiving threat has yet to emerge. And it may be time to start trimming the fat on these stalled breakouts in favor of players who can help your depth at other positions.

I will say this. Of all these options, I'd rather have Kenny Britt. He's been slowed by injury, has a nice rapport with Hasselbeck and is probably the most talented of these four players. Even though he has the ugliest stat line so far, he's the most likely to rise to the top in the second half of the season.

Kickers are hard to predict. But it doesn't mean some still aren't better than others. Last week, we looked at defenses and rated them using two factors: their average weekly scoring and their consistency on a weekly basis. Through the magic of mathematics, we came up with a single number and a list of 10 DSTs that offered both factors. In other words, a team like the Vikings had a high weekly average, but also served up a few weeks of single-digit scoring. They did not make the top 10 list. This week, we're going to apply the same method to kickers. Your top 10 Fantasy kickers:

1. Lawrence Tynes, NYG, 12.4 Fantasy points per game
2. Matt Bryant, ATL 11.3 FPPG
3. Stephen Gostkowski, NE, 11 FPPG
4. Jason Hanson, DET, 10.6 FPPG
5. Kai Forbath, WAS, 10.3 FPPG
6. Justin Tucker, BAL, 10.3 PFFG
7. Sebastian Janikowski, OAK, 10.1 FPPG
8. Shaun Suisham, PIT, 10.1 FPPG
9. Blair Walsh, MIN, 9.9 FPPG
10. Shayne Graham, HOU, 9.9 FPPG

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Taking the average fluctuation between scores on a weekly basis, we find that the most consistent kicker in Fantasy football -- as far as his point totals not straying too far from his previous week's scoring output -- is... Mike Nugent. Your top 10:

1. Mike Nugent, CIN, 1.7 Fantasy point fluctuation per week
2. Rian Lindell, BUF, 2.17
3. Dan Carpenter, MIA, 2.5
4. Kai Forbath, WAS, 2.6
5. Shayne Graham, HOU, 2.7
6. Shaun Suisham, PIT, 2.8
7. Garrett Hartley, NO, 3
8. Justin Tucker, BAL, 3.2
9. Stephen Gostkowski, NE, 3.3
10. David Akers, SF, 3.3

So now we take the Fantasy points per week, multiply it by two, just to give it a little more weight, and divide it by the fluctuation. This should give us an idea of who is scoring a good amount of points, and doing so on a consistent basis. In other words, these are kickers you can pick up, slide into your K slot, and not have to worry about (unless some kind of injury strikes). There's also no name for this stat, so I'm electing to measure it in units of "aizers" in honor of our cheery podcast host, Adam Aizer, who will likely stumble upon this article while googling his own name:

1. Mike Nugent, CIN, 13.7 aizers
2. Kai Forbath, WAS, 8 aizers
* 3. Shayne Graham, HOU, 7.4 aizers
4. Shaun Suisham, PIT, 7.2 aizers
5. Stephen Gostkowski, NE, 6.7 aizers
* 6. Justin Tucker, BAL, 6.5 aizers
7. Sebastian Janikowski, OAK, 6.1 aizers
8. Dan Carpenter, MIA, 5.7 aizers
9. David Akers, SF, 5.4 aizers
* 10. Robbie Gould, CHI, 5.2 aizers

[* - has not gone through bye week yet]

You may have noticed that some of the top scorers this season didn't make the final list. It's mainly because Tynes (fourth-highest on the fluctuation list), Bryant (eighth) and Hanson (sixth) had big swings in terms of point totals each week. While Nugent averages just eight points per week, you can depend on him to float between about seven and nine points. Tynes has scored as many as 20 and as few as five. This isn't a list for home run hitters -- it's a list of kickers you can plug into your lineup and not have to worry about. While it's tough to make a case for Nugent as a high-scoring option in the kicker slot -- he's in the middle of the pack as far as scoring -- he is consistent to the point where I tried to use a number of different factors to manipulate him out of the top spot, and he wouldn't budge. So there you have it. Mike Nugent. Possible savior of your Fantasy kicking conundrum.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyFB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasyfootball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Denard Robinson looking more like a Week 8 sleeper
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:32 pm ET) With the news Thursday that Week 7 breakout Denard Robinson will get the bulk of the carries Week 8 against Miami even with the return of Toby Gerhart from a sprained foot, Robinson goes from a shaky start in Fantasy to at least a decent one.

Working behind the same offensive line with the same supporting cast that has reduced Toby Gerhart, Storm Johnson and Jordan Todman to a combined 2.7 yards per carry this season, Robinson had 127 yards on 22 carries in Week 7. Granted, that was with an especially favorable matchup against the Browns, who rank 32nd against the run, and this is with a not so favorable matchup against the Dolphins, who rank 10th. But still, a running back with a big workload is a valuable thing.

Before that news, Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard barely had Denard Robinson in their top 30 running backs for Week 8, but with it, he jumps to about 20th for me, ahead of Doug Martin, Tre Mason and Chris Ivory, among others.


Report: Broncos cut safety Boyett from practice squad
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:31 pm ET) The Broncos have parted ways with safety John Boyett, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Boyett was arrested for misdemeanor battery, and the team quickly decided to part ways with him after looking into the situation. Boyett was on the team's practice squad, and did not appear with the club this season.


Vikings C John Sullivan passes concussion protocol
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:28 pm ET) Vikings center John Sullivan passed the league's concussion protocol and is on track to play Week 8 against Tampa Bay, according to ESPN. Sullivan was a limited participant in practice Thursday, but coach Mike Zimmer told reporters he "did everything."

Cardinals DE Calais Campbel limited in practice Thursday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:20 pm ET) Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell practiced in a limited capacity on Thursday, per the team's official website. He has missed the last two games after suffering a Grade 2 MCL sprain against Denver in Week 5. Campbell, who practiced for the first time since the injury, told reporters earlier in the week that he's hopeful of playing Week 8 vs. Philadelphia.

Chiefs TE Kelce limited Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:18 pm ET) Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was limited in practice Thursday, according to ESPN.

This is the second day in a row Kelce has been limited in practice due to a rib injury. He has emerged as a solid threat in the passing game, hauling in 24 receptions and three scores.


Business as usual for Lamar Miller
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:16 pm ET) Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard both love Dolphins running back Lamar Miller at Jacksonville this week, and it makes sense. It's the Jaguars, after all. They lose all the time, often by a lopsided score, which gives opposing running backs plenty of chances to carry the ball in the second half.

Of course, the same logic applied for the Browns last week, and you see what happened with Ben Tate. He had only 36 yards on 16 carries. Granted, the Jaguars ended up winning that game, so it didn't follow the usual script. But looking back further, the Titans' Bishop Sankey had 61 yards on 18 carries in Week 6, the Steelers' Le'Veon Bell had 82 yards on 15 carries in Week 5, and the Chargers' Branden Oliver and Donald Brown combined for 42 yards on 19 carries in Week 4. Some of those performances were OK, but you have to go back to Week 2, when the Redskins' Alfred Morris ran for 85 yards and two touchdowns, to find a time when a running back really lit it up against the Jaguars. Not surprisingly, they rank a respectable 15th against the run, allowing 110.3 yards per game and just 3.8 yards per carry.

Of course, in standard 12-team leagues, you've been content with 60 yards and a touchdown from Miller, and he's probably still good for that. I just wouldn't expect more based on the matchup.


Patriots bringing back Ja'Gared Davis
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:15 pm ET) The Patriots will sign linebacker Ja'Gared Davis to the practice squad, according to NESN.

Davis cleared waivers, allowing the team to bring him back on the practice squad. He appeared in one game this season, making one tackle. 


Ryan Tannehill a Week 8 sleeper
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:03 pm ET) Owned in just 68 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is still widely available for Week 8 at Jacksonville considering his production over his last three games. Aided in part by an increased willingness to run the ball, Tannehill has averaged 24.0 Fantasy points per game during that stretch. For the season, Philip Rivers is averaging 25.0 Fantasy points per game.

Of course, Tannehill has benefited from a run of 30 or more yards each of the last two weeks, and that probably shouldn't be the expectation for him every week. But with Lamar Miller the only running game the Dolphins have, their quarterback has become more of a focal point on offense, throwing for two scores in four of six games this season.

For all their shortcomings offensively, the Jaguars have been pretty tough on defense the last three weeks, but they still rank only 30th against the pass, allowing 280.1 yards per game. Understandably, then, Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard both love Tannehill as a sleeper this week, ranking him 11th among quarterbacks, ahead of notables Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton and Nick Foles.


Bears QB Jay Cutler has no issues with Marshall's locker-room rant
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:49 pm ET) Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said he was not upset with wide receiver Brandon Marshall's postgame rant in the locker room following Sunday's loss against the Dolphins.

"He’s an emotional guy," Cutler said, per The Chicago Tribune. "Whenever he gets frustrated, he’s going to get emotional most of the time, and he’s going to speak from the heart, and he’s going to make sure everyone else around him hears him. It wasn’t anything that caught us off guard or was off-putting. It was frustration coming out and him just letting us know that it’s important to him."

Cutler added he doesn't believe Marshall crossed a line and said Marshall's actions were not directed at him.

"He didn’t come near me," Cutler said. "He didn’t say my name. I don’t think he attacked anybody personally (with) what he was saying."


Dolphins TE Charles Clay limited again with knee issue
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(4:43 pm ET) Dolphins tight end Charles Clay was limited in practice Thursday due to a knee injury.

Clay has been dealing with a knee issue all season, which may have limited his effectiveness early in the year. He was able to score his first touchdown last week, but isn't fully over his injury just yet. Clay has been able to play through the issue all season, so he'll likely put in more work at practice Friday. 


 
 
 
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