It’s never too early to start an MVP Watch List
You know, M-V-P as in (M)issing a (V)alued (P)resence; those teams who are one key player or move away from being a legit playoff contender.
1. The San Diego Chargers.
Forget the 3-5 record. They’re top 8 in both rushing and passing defense while Phillip Rivers has set an NFL record for most passing yards through eight games (2,649), but Ryan Mathews has to get going.
2. The New York Giants.
Deep playoff run hinges on the health of Eli Manning and the protection of the Giants’ offensive line. So far, so good.
3. The Green Bay Packers.
Wasn’t this supposed to be where Marshawn Lynch or Marion Barber stepped in for Ryan Grant? I like what Brandon Jackson brings, but when the Pack takes on a solid pass defense, are they really going to give Jackson 20 carries a game?
4. The Pittsburgh Steelers.
Yes, they’re 5-2 and have an outstanding defense, but where they fail in their defensive comparison, they make up on their offensive line. Did you see how the New Orleans’ atmosphere affected the offensive line this past Monday
5. The Seattle Seahawks.
A young wide receiving core cannot fully develop unless Matt Hasselbeck earns the title of being called ‘consistent.’
Start’em in Week 9
Josh Freeman (vs. Atlanta)
Four-straight 12+ fantasy point performances make Freeman a great start this week against the 27th ranked Falcons pass defense.
Chris Ivory (@ Carolina)
With Pierre Thomas out (again) and the Panthers being 21st against the run, Ivory should have a pretty good day as the Saints’ primary back.
Danny Woodhead (@ Cleveland)
I like Woodhead in your flex spot this week. He continues to still get redzone carries even with Green-Ellis getting his fair share as well (See below) and has become a Kevin Faulk type of player with the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Bernard Berrian (vs. Arizona)
Randy Moss is with Tennessee, Percy Harvin is questionable and Sidney Rice is still a few weeks away from returning. Who’s left — Berrian and he will be the No. 1 receiver against the NFL’s 21st ranked pass defense.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (@ Cleveland)
With six touchdowns in his past five games, not starting ‘the Law Firm’ would result in an objection.
Mike Williams (vs. Atlanta)
Leading all rookies with 470 receiving yards, the first-year receiver — who also has four touchdowns — has averaged 82 yards per game in the last four weeks and takes on Atlanta (27th against the pass) at home.
Greg Olsen (@ Buffalo)
Seven touchdowns surrendered to opposing tight ends by the Bills’ defense in the past five games makes Olsen a solid play this week.
Patrick Crayton (@ Houston)
Depletion, thy name is the Chargers’ wide receiver core. With Malcolm Floyd, Legedu Naanee and Buster Davis likely out this week, Crayton is the team’s No. 1 receiver going up against the NFL’s worst pass defense.
Jason Campbell (vs. Kansas City)
This isn’t a misprint. Campbell is coming on strong for the (take a breath!) .500 OAKLAND RAIDERS!17 and 20-point performances in back-to-back weeks against Denver and Seattle make his home matchup against the Chiefs’ 23rd ranked pass defense this Sunday quite favorable.
Eli Manning (@ Seattle)
Manning has thrown for 886 yards and 7 touchdowns against the Seahawks in his seven-year career (3 games); and with Seattle being 29th against the pass this season, Eli’s numbers should continue to excel.
Sit’em in Week 9
Matt Schaub (@ San Diego)
Outside of that 497-yard performance against the Redskins in Week 2, Schaub only has one other 300-yard game this season and going on the road against the NFL’s top passing defense in the Chargers (177 yards per game) should keep Schaub’s streak alive, unfortunately.
Ahmad Bradshaw (@ Seattle)
One of the more underrated teams when playing at home, the Seahawks — 12th in the NFL against the run — have only given up 170 yards TOTAL on the ground at home to starting running backs this season.
Jahvid Best (vs. New York Jets)
The Jets haven’t given up more than 88 yards or a single rushing touchdown for that matter to opposing starting running backs this season.
Matt Cassel (@ Oakland)
Fours are wild. The Raiders wins (4) and losses (4) both match their NFL rank against the pass in 2010 (4th).
Cedric Benson (vs. Pittsburgh)
Ryan Mathews (@ Houston)
As bad as Houston is against the pass (32nd), they make up for it against the run (14th). Besides, Phillip Rivers has now set an NFL record for the most passing yards in history through the first eight games (2,649). San Diego isn’t exactly a run-first team.
Dwayne Bowe (@ Oakland)
See Cassel, Matt.
About the Author
Written by Al Buzzelli