Fantasy - Start em/Sit em week 8 edition - This is the week Doug Martin goes off!!

Fantasy owners have been waiting for Doug Martin to get going. Coming off a bye-week, I expect Martin to get it going!

By Rich Winter

      If you have Doug Martin on your roster, I'll bet you're a little gun-shy to slot him into the lineup this weekend, right?

      Of course, Martin has yet to top 45 rushing yards in a single game this season and he's got just one rushing touchdown. 

      And that's exactly why you need to play him this week.

       The Bucs are coming off a bye week, Lovie Smith likes to run the ball and the Vikings are 20th against the run. What more do you want?

        This is a golden opportunity to get back in good graces with the Fantasy football Gods.  Doug Martin is a must start this week!

     Doug Martin Predictions - 18-88 1 td, 6-50 receiving...don't say I didn't tell ya!

Atlanta is the second worst team against the run in the NFL and the Falcons have given up a league leading 13 rushing touchdowns.

Does bad defense travel well across the pond?

      I like Joique Bell heading into Sunday's early match-up with the Falcons. Atlanta is second worst in the NFL against the run and the Falcon defense has given up 13 rushing touchdown this season.

    With Calvin Johnson still a question mark, Joique Bell gets elevated into a must-start category this week.

    Predictions: Bell 15-80 with 2 td's

The Raiders are terrible against the run. Cleveland is coming off a tough road-loss to Jacksonville and I expect the Browns to run, run, run.

Ben Tate at home vs. the Raiders

     Have the Raiders stopped anyone's ground game this year? Nope!

      The Raiders are ranked 25th against the run and I expect Ben Tate to take full advantage of that. On top of that, I gotta figure the Browns are still smarting from an embarrassing loss to Jacksonville. With that loss in mind, I expect the Browns to run the ball and play low-risk football. 

    That FF friends, makes Ben Tate an absolute must-start this week. 

    Predictions - 18-100 with 1 touchdown. 

Trent Richardson has shown signs of life in the past few weeks. As long as Andrew Luck is scorching people via the pass, Richardson will continue to get less difficult running looks.

Trent Richardson - Colts @ Steelers

      As long as Andrew Luck is scorching people via the pass, Trent Richardson's value will continue to climb. It's hard to stop Trent Richardson when defenses are on their heels and back-pedaling to avoid getting burned.

      I like what Richardson has been doing the last four games.

     47 rush (1 td), 52 receiving  vs. Tennessee!

       37 rush, 10 receiving vs. Baltimore

      vs. Houston 41 rush 1 td

      Last week vs. Cincy - 14-77 rushing, 4-41 receiving

     Maybe the Colts have finally unlocked the best way to use this guy. Either way, he's due for a touchdown and I like that he'll be getting 20 touches this game.

   Predictions: 75 rush 1 td, 30 receiving. 

I think the addition of Percy Harvin, running off defenders, will open things up for what I think is a decent Jets running game.

Chris Ivory @ home vs. Bills

     I just have the feeling the Jets are going to kick the crap out of the Bills. 

     Don't think we'll see three touchdowns from Percy Harvin, but I think we'll see Harvin go deep about eight times. That means those defenders won't be crowding the line of scrimmage so hard. 

     I believe we saw a small sample of what the Jets want to do last week when Ivory ran 21-107 yards with a score. If I was forced to play Chris Johnson I wouldn't feel too badly about that either.

    Chris Ivory predictions: 20-85 1 td, 3-40 receiving. 

   And now the five guys you normally start but need to keep on the bench this week. 

I'm not sure what's wrong with Eddie Lacy but I'm not starting him until the temperature is below freezing.

Eddie Lacy - Green Bay @ Saints

      I'm done with Eddie Lacy until the colder weather rolls in. I've watched that Green Bay offense enough (Aaron Rodgers is my QB) to know that the Packers could give a rat's behind if they can run the ball. They want to air it out and if Eddie Lacy decided to come along for the rid, neat. If he doesn't, big deal, we'll just throw it as much as necessary. 

     Lacy has been better in the last two games but better still isn't great as in those two outings, he had 63 and 40 yards respectively. I'm not buying it!

     Lacy looks slow and as if he thinks he's a 185 pound scat-back. Every time he hits a crowded line of scrimmage he dances around like a little girl instead of putting his head down and smashing people to dust. 

   Lacy Predictions - 13-55

Denard Robinson was really good last week but he's playing against the Dolphins this week so I expect him to come back to earth this week.

Denard Robinson - Home vs. Miami

      While I picked up Robinson in the waiver wire this week and I'll be forced to start him, I'm not sold that he can do it in back to back weeks. 

      The Dolphins are 7th against the run and Robinson is last in the league in yards after first contact. 

      This guy might be a steal down the stretch but for right now he's a project that teams will be scheming to stop.

      Robinson predictions - 15-55, 3-20

After last week's performance against the Colts I'm stashing Giovanni Bernard on my bench until the Bengals figure out what's wrong with the whole lot of them.

Giovanni Bernard - Hove vs. Ravens

     Had I owned Giovanni Bernard I would have started him every game, up until this game against Baltimore. 

      I'm fearful for this Bengals squad which seemed lost and inept and disinterested last week against the Colts. Suddenly with A.J. Green no longer around opposing defenses are putting nine in the box and spying on Bernard and that means tough sledding for the Bengals best weapon. 

     I don't like the match-up this week for the Bengals. I expect a smash-mouth game galore.

    Bernard Predictions: 12-36, 5-25 no touchdowns. 

Alfred Morris hasn't had a touchdown in four weeks and his rushing yards per game is dismal. Time for the bench.

Alfred Morris - Washington at Dallas

    Boy you start looking around at that Washington at Dallas game on Monday night and I'm not expecting much. Colt McCoy will be the starter and well, Colt McCoy is the starter. 

   Facts are facts, Alfred Morris hasn't been in the end-zone since Sep. 25 against the Giants.

   Last three games: 29, 41 and 54

   For those reasons, Alfred Morris is finding his butt on the pine this week.

   Predictions 15-41

Beast mode equals least mode against Carolina this weekend!

Marshawn Lynch @ Carolina

     I'm not liking the body language of the Seahawks heading into this game. The Percy Harvin thing rocked this franchise and now I've heard whispers the locker-room is split on Russell Wilson.

    Wonder what Marshawn Lynch thinks about his QB stealing those 100 yards rushing last week?

     I have a feeling Seattle is going to implode in this one and Lynch won't be a factor.

   Lynch predictions: 14-42 zero touchdowns. (Might wanna play him, every time I bet against him he goes off...LOL - Least I'm honest)

   We're getting down to brass tacks in FF. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to holler @panicgalore

Can Jeremy Lin lead the Lakers to the playoffs?

With Steve Nash out Jeremy Lin becomes THE man at point guard for the Lakers.

   By Rich Winter

        Was visiting with a few of my Laker buddies last night during the Chargers vs. Broncos game.

       "Ya hear about Steve Nash," White Mamba asked me?

       "Nope," I told him.

        "Done for the year," he said.

         And then followed a few minutes of incessant banter about what a joke the whole Steve Nash debacle has been for the Lakers. Four draft picks to acquire Nash and he's given them 65 games since he's been in La-La land. 

      While the loss of Nash isn't completely unexpected, his loss does vault Jeremy Lin into the conversation as the main center-piece at point-guard for the Lakers. 

   The other point-guards on the Lakers roster are Jordan Clarkson (who?), and Ronnie Price.

    Wow, I could launch into a whole series of what was Laker management doing by not addressing the point guard position in the NBA draft last spring, but that card has been launched a few too many times.

      The Lakers are stuck with what the Lakers have and that is Jeremy Lin as a starting point-guard.

       I like it!

       I absolutely love the position this Laker team is in. Over the past few days I've heard more stories about Kobe Bryant being a difficult teammate and Laker Management not making the right moves and on and on and on as everyone gets ready to shovel dirt on these Lakers.

     I can just see Kobe Bryant salivating at the idea that the entire NBA world is rooting against him.

     Bryant is averaging 19 points per game in the pre-season, in limited minutes. I expect him to be around 24 per game.

      Carlos Boozer might have to see a shrink before the Lakers were to embark on any kind of playoff tour, but hey, it's LA and I think there is plenty of professional help to erase Boozer's ghosts of NBA playoff failures past.

         In my heart of hearts I think Kobe Bryant is going to like playing with Jeremy Lin. Mr. Lin is a decent defender but he just plays tough. Midway through the season in Houston a year ago I was calling for Lin to be an all-star. He was playing great but Houston folded up like a cheap tent in the latter part of the season and the playoffs a year ago. 

     Lin had that year in New York in 2010-2011 where he averaged 14.6 ppg and 6.2 apg. 

      Thus far in the pre-season in limited minutes, Lin is averaging 10.8 ppg and 6.0 apg in 24.5 minutes per game. 

      I like where those numbers are headed when he starts playing 30-35 minutes per game.

      Lin is a poor-man's point guard. He's a career 45 percent shooter and 35 percent from the 3-point-line. He handled the New York Knick saga much better than most people thought he could and he's always been battling up-hill. 

        With Kobe destined to shoot a lot this year I think Lin will get him the ball in the right spot. Without a lot of people to trust on offense, when Kobe gets doubled, I see him having no problem kicking it back to Lin.

       I'm a firm believer that the NBA playoffs are better when Kobe Bryant and the L.A. Lakers are in them. I see the NBA putting Cleveland and the Spurs in the finals but I see the Lakers squeaking into the playoffs.

       Not sure who falls out in the west but Memphis could go? 

       The Lakers will be much more dangerous this season that even Laker faithful are giving them credit for. 

      C'mon Mamba, you'll be sporting a Jeremy Lin jersey by Christmas for sure. 

           Follow me @panicgalore

Stevens the favorite, but the Raiders will have company in AA cross-country

Rapid City Stevens will be aiming for a second consecutive state AA cross country title but they will have company this year as a host of teams could challenge the Raiders for AA supremacy.

By Rich Winter

    With no Annie Kruse and no Tamara Gorman in the AA race this year, a new queen of AA cross country will be crowned tomorrow afternoon in Huron.

     But that list of individual contenders is long and any one of about eight girls could come out leading the pack.

    The contenders: 

     Savannah Woods - Yankton

Early this season Savannah Woods looked to be the AA favorite but she's had mixed results. Can she tune it up in time to grab AA gold.

Jasmyne Cooper won the East vs. West challenge on Oct. 10.

Emily Person of Rapid City Stevens finished 4th a year ago and will be counted on for leadership as Stevens aims for a second straight team title.

Kelsie Keaney - Sioux Falls Washington

Rachel Propst - Pierre

Madison McClure - Yankton

Courtney Klatt - Brandon Valley

Jamie Schweiss - Rapid City Stevens

      There are a lot of girls that are right there and the thing with this field is they've all taken turns at the top. The individual race should be a crowded affair for the first two miles until the contenders decide they've had enough of playing around and make the long sprint for home. 

     Should be a great race. 

     The battle for team supremacy!

     Rapid City Stevens - Emily Person and Jamie Schweiss give Stevens a really solid No. 1 and No. 2 punch. The pair finished 4th and 10th a year ago. With so many team contenders in the mix this year, Stevens could really use those two working in tandem and finishing in the top-5 to slant the team race in their favor. How Kendra Dykstra fares on Saturday will go a long way towards pushing Stevens over the top. 

     Experience will be a key factor for the Raiders.

    “We’re fortunate to return a lot of seniors to both of our teams,” said coach Jesse Coy. “Our leadership going into a big race like this is so good. That will take care of a lot of our nerves, and we’re kind of banking on that experience to carry us through.”

    Sioux Falls Lincoln - The Pats will be led by Jasmyne Cooper and Katie Patrick. Cooper, who transferred from Harrisburg before the season, has hit her stride, while the Pats have rested Patrick in recent weeks to preserve the triathlete for a stellar state meet. Cooper won the East vs. West meet on Oct. 10, defeating Schweiss by about eight seconds. 

   “It’s good because there are other teams that are right there with us,” said Lincoln coach Eric Pooley of the unpredictable field. “We think we are one of the teams who can push Rapid City Stevens if we have all of our girls firing on all cylinders at the right time.”

    More from Pooley on his top two guns - “Jasmyne has come on at the right time. She had to work through a stretch where she just had to get used to the way we do things,” said Pooley. “Once she did that, she took off. Katie Patrick is recovered now as well, so we really have a one-two punch that can set the pace.”

   Yankton - Yankton has a big-3 and that's always dangerous heading into a state meet. At the ESD championships on Oct. 13, Savannah Woods was No. 1, Madison McClure was No. 2 and Lauren Graves was No. 3. The Gazelles finished 2nd at that meet to Brandon Valley.

Brandon Valley - At the ESD meet, Brandon Valley had five in the top-14, all of them running under 16:27. 

Pierre - I've kind of been waiting all season for Pierre to come around. Rachel Propst was slow to come around after missing most of her off-season training. With Emily Mikkelsen and Propst, the Lady Govs put two in the top-8 at the ESD meet and four in the top-17. Pierre has been kind of an after-thought all season, but if everyone races up to full potential, the Lady Govs could be in the mix.

     Gotta love cross country.

     Good luck to all the athletes, teams, coaches and parents.

    Follow me @panicgalore

Fantasy - Aren't ya glad you held onto Ryan Mathews?

When the Chargers come off their bye week, I expect Ryan Mathews to be the man in the Charger backfield.

By Rich Winter

     Was it just me or did the San Diego Chargers spend way too much time last night trying to establish the run?

      Thirteen times the Chargers stuffed the ball into the hands of Brandon Oliver last night, and all they saw from it was a measly 36 yards. Frankly, I thought the Chargers tried to dumb down their offense a little more than I'd like to see from a team I consider one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. 

      The Chargers tried that little dump-off pass to Brandon Oliver seven times last night. For most of the night he was trapped in negative receiving yards until he broke a few late in the game to get past zero.

Brandon Oliver vs. Broncos - 13-36 rushing, 7-27 receiving. 

    As the Chargers head into a game with the Dolphins in about ten days, one thing is clear to me.  

   Brandon Oliver is not the Chargers starting running back!

   That duty belongs to Ryan Mathews who has been sidelined since week two with a sprained MCL suffered against the Seahawks. 

     I'm guessing Ryan Mathews starts running this week.

      I'm guessing he doesn't play vs. the Dolphins.

      Mathews then gets the benefit of a bye week and won't have to be in complete playing shape and ready to take the field until Nov. 16 at home vs. a porous Oakland Raiders run defense. 

   From my perspective in watching the game last night, Brandon Oliver looked like a great third-down back that would benefit from seeing way less touches per game. He's not a straight-ahead running back that will put his head down and get you two tough yards.

     For all of you Brandon Oliver owners, you had a nice little run while it lasted. I wouldn't drop him because Ryan Mathews is a glass-jaw just waiting to get hurt again.

    Oliver is Danny Woodhead wrapped into a little beefier package. He's great when he catches you by surprise and he's ineffective when you know all you have to do is stop him. 

      So, hold on tight to Ryan Mathews friends, in three weeks he's going to be the man again.

     Follow me @panicgalore