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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
49ers shopping LaMichael James
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/17/2014) The 49ers are looking to trade running back LaMichael James in advance of next month's NFL Draft, reports the Sacramento Bee.

Meanwhile, James is aware of the trade rumors, apparently for a while now, since he tweeted Wednesday "when old news becomes new news" following the report.

James, a second-round pick in 2012, finds himself behind Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and perhaps Marcus Lattimore on the depth chart at running back this season. James served as the team's primary returner last year, but he wants a bigger role since he carried the ball just 12 times in 2013.


Joe Reitz stays with the Colts
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/17/2014) Offensive lineman Joe Reitz signed his restricted free agent tender offer on Thursday, giving him another year with the Colts. He started three games last season. 

Chris Johnson says arthritis reports 'not accurate'
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/17/2014) On a conference call with New York media, new Jets running back Chris Johnson said the report that he had arthritis in his knee was "not accurate," adding that he was "pretty sure I wouldn't have passed the physical" if he did have it. 

Earlier Thursday ESPN reported the Jets had "some concerns" about his knee

Johnson is expected to serve as part of a one-two punch at running back with Chris Ivory for the Jets. 


Vikings sign Kurt Coleman
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/17/2014) The Vikings signed safety Kurt Coleman on Thursday. He spent the past four seasons with the Eagles and has seven career interceptions.

Coleman will try to make the final roster in Minnesota as a reserve defensive back and play on special teams.


Dwayne Bowe pleads guilty to amended charges
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/17/2014) Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe pleaded guilty to amended charges relating to his Nov. 10 arrest for marijuana possession, the Kansas City Star reports. He paid $610 in fines and didn't get probation. It remains to be seen if he'll be subject to the NFL's substance abuse program. 

Report: Giants should consider dealing Ryan Nassib
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/17/2014) Now that the Giants have signed Josh Freeman to a contract, does it mean that second-year quarterback Ryan Nassib will be off the roster soon? 

The Newark Star-Ledger believes the Giants should assess Nassib's value going into the draft considering the lack of great quarterback talent available. A team looking for a quarterback-of-the-future could make an offer. 

Nassib had 19 pass attempts during the preseason last August and wasn't active for a single regular-season game. 


Robert Griffin III looking like old self
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/17/2014) A couple of members of the Redskins organization have started raving about how good quarterback Robert Griffin III looks this offseason, reports the Washington Post.

Receiver Santana Moss said via an ESPN podcast that Griffin "looks more comfortable because he don't have to worry about that brace. I think the brace was the big discomfort last year. You know, he’s a young guy with those fiery legs that want to do so much, and that brace probably gave him a little pinch in the behind because he couldn't do the things that he was normally accustomed to doing. You can already see, when we're out there in conditioning and stuff, he's running around, looking like the old Robert Griffin."

And former tight end Chris Cooley, currently one of the team's radio broadcasters, said "he's another person right now. I was like, 'you're running unbelievably well.' It was silly to watch. ... When you watch him run, you're like, 'You're a freak. You're seriously a freak.'"


Report: Jets have concerns over Chris Johnson's knees
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/17/2014) Less than 24 hours after signing Chris Johnson to a two-year deal that might be worth as much as $9 million, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Jets have some concerns over the condition of his knee. Johnson apparently has some arthritis in it stemming from his torn meniscus in 2013 (which he played through). 

Johnson hasn't missed a game in five straight seasons. He's expected to form a one-two punch with Chris Ivory in the Jets' backfield this year. 


Brian Cushing says he's 100 percent
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/17/2014) Posting a picture of himself with his son from a beach, Texans linebacker Brian Cushing said via Twitter that he's been cleared for football. Cushing missed the last nine games of last season with a knee injury. 

"Quick Trip to Pensacola with my lead blocker, better believe I'm 100% #beachday #cleared #fivesixback," he wrote. 


Could Peyton Manning throw less in 2014?
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/17/2014) Peyton Manning might be asked to throw less so "the offense can be more," ESPN speculated on Thursday. Manning threw 659 passes last season, completing 450 of them (68.3 pct.) for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. The yardage and touchdowns are NFL records. 

The thought process behind Manning being asked to throw less is that it would accentuate the run game and give the offense (read: Manning) more of an opportunity to build confidence in the running backs, namely Montee Ball.

No one on the Broncos has come out and suggested Manning will throw less. He still passed 583 times in 2012, seventh-most that year. Expect Manning to still throw plenty in 2014.


 
 
 
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