So far this season, Michael Vick hasn't lived up to his superstar billing. Will a week 9 matchup vs a putrid Saints defense spark his turnaround? (Photo Courtesy: Getty Images)
As bye weeks continue to be a hindrance when setting your fantasy lineups, several first-half duds may be getting hot at the right moment.
QB Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: To be fair, the Lions have faced some imposing defenses, especially of late. The Jaguars will give them a break, although Stafford has still thrown for 300-plus yards in three of his last four games. The Lions' lackluster running game gives them even more reason to rely on Stafford's right arm against a defense that gives up nearly 20 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.
RB Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens: A blowout loss to the Texans in Week 7 was a reminder that the Ravens need to use their best player more frequently. Coming off a bye week and going up against Cleveland, expect Rice to be heavily involved in the passing and running games.
WR Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts: The NFL's most targeted wideout through eight weeks (92), Wayne has hauled in 54 of those passes thrown his way. Miami's defense is much improved, but still allowing 22.9 points and 186.6 yards per week to wide receivers.
TE Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) will likely miss another week, and a combo of Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman will find it hard to post the team's third straight week of 100 yards rushing. The New York Giants can be beaten through the air, though, and a stout pass rush may see QB Ben Roethlisberger rely on Miller often. New York is also allowing the third most yards per game to tight ends this year (70.1).
RB LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles: It's no secret the Saints' defense is a doormat for opponents. With Michael Vick's troubles well documented, what better way to ease the pressure than by running the ball against a team that gives up the second-most fantasy points (25.4) and rushing yards (145.0) per game to enemy halfbacks.
WR A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals: The Denver Broncos' already-impressive secondary may be getting a boost with the return of Tracy Porter. QB Andy Dalton has struggled against adequate defenses, too, as evidenced by Green's one-catch, six-yard performance against the Steelers in Week 7.
QB Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins: Griffin hit a roadblock last week against Pittsburgh, and don't expect his second half to be as peachy as the first. Despite an atrocious run defense, the Carolina Panthers have held their own against opposing QBs. They'll likely employ similar tactics that made the Steelers successful in keeping RGIII contained.
TE Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons: Gonzalez has been a favorite weapon of Matt Ryan's, but the imposing Dallas Cowboys pass rush could often force him to stay in as a blocker. Plus, the Cowboys don't give up much to the position; they spot opposing tight ends just 5.7 fantasy points and 36.9 yards per contest.
RB Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans: Just when CJ2K seemed to be returning to his old reliable self, the Chicago Bears show up on his schedule. Chicago is giving up the fewest ground yards per game (62.4) and the second-fewest fantasy points to backs (9.0). A tough afternoon is in store for Johnson.
QB Eli Manning, New York Giants: Eli has the weapons to put up big numbers through the air, but the Giants aren't afraid to run when they need to win. Against Pittsburgh, that'll likely be the case; an improving defense has been extremely tough on quarterbacks in the past month, yielding only 13.0 fantasy points, 186.8 yards and 1.25 touchdowns per game.
TE Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers: Olsen has just 13 targets in his last three games, but they were against potent defenses. However, he continues to catch most of the passes thrown his way, and fortunately for him, the Redskins allow a league-high 13.5 standard-scoring points per game to the position.
WR Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins: Have you forgotten about Hartline? We can see why after just 11 targets since his monumental 12-253-1 line in Week 4. This looks like a week for him to get back on track, though, with Indy allowing 12.75 catches, 153.0 yards and 2.0 touchdowns to wideouts per game in the past month.
RB Michael Bush, Chicago Bears: Chicago figures to run the ball down the throat of one of the league's worst run defenses in Tennessee. Bush will have to spell Matt Forte often, making him a decent gamble for a TD and a good chunk of yards.
QB Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles: A tasty matchup should lift Vick up off the quarterback hot seat for at least another week. The New Orleans Saints are giving up a league-worst 359.7 yards and 2.67 touchdown throws in the past month.
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals: The Law Firm hasn't been much help to his fantasy owners; he hasn't rushed for over 100 yards yet and has only two visits to the end zone. Although the Broncos are improving, they're still vulnerable on the ground. They're fifth worst in the last four weeks, giving up an average of 21.3 fantasy points to running backs.