- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
Brett Favre didn't look like a great fantasy play for his trip back to Lambeau Field this past weekend. Then again, I didn't expect the Packers to put up so small a fight.
It's tough to evaluate Favre, other than to say it seems he can put up 20-plus fantasy points whenever he wants to, but we won't know when that will be. Heck, he might even change his mind. Favre averaged 11 fantasy points in cake matchups against the Browns, Lions and Rams this season. Meanwhile, he totaled 47 fantasy points in two games against the Packers and destroyed the Ravens. The schedule gets easier for Favre the rest of the way, so that should tell us to go get him, but why am I conflicted? The Vikings won't play the Packers again. Don't tell me Favre didn't circle those two games on his "exotic birds of the earth" 2009 calendar before the season.
I know motivation plays a role in player performance, but I guess I underestimated what this 40-year-old quarterback could do in that mostly hostile environment. Favre couldn't outscore Aaron Rodgers from a fantasy sense, but he topped every other quarterback Sunday and got a resounding win. But I think we've learned that Favre, in non-Packers matchups, remains a weekly conundrum for fantasy owners. Great, just what we need.
I also learned that ...
... Donovan McNabb is a lot like Favre. Honestly, you can't tell me what the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback will do from one week to the next. Inconsistency reigns with a lot of quarterbacks, but McNabb had just finished totaling 20 fantasy points against the awful Raiders and Redskins before Sunday's game against the rival Giants. So what does he do? Naturally, he provides 20 fantasy points against the G-men. I realize the Giants' defense is hardly what it was even a month ago, but I don't know whether to expect 20 fantasy points or 10 from McNabb in any game, and that includes his next game against the Giants.
... Eli Manning isn't the same quarterback from the first month of the season. As for the other signal-caller in that one-sided tilt, I think it's obvious the foot injury Manning suffered a few weeks back is a problem. Not that I was disappointed Manning kept trying to let the Eagles pick him off -- I'm an Eagles fan -- but until he gets healthy, how can a fantasy owner trust him? Manning's schedule from here on out also is a problem, and we know he hasn't been a big provider of fantasy fun in past Decembers. Forget the great start, and don't rely on him.
... Even Ryan Moats can pilfer that Bills run defense. Not to take anything away from the major accomplishment of scoring three touchdowns in a game, but there's a reason Moats is a backup running back. I watched him underachieve when he was with the Eagles, and he's still nothing special. Steve Slaton purportedly is, but he has to hold on to the football. Go waste your No. 1 waiver spot on Moats if you desire, but this isn't the beginning of something big. It's not even the beginning of something.
... The Texans' passing game looked fine. It didn't score much, but it didn't need to. I've already seen some complaints about Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson underperforming, but don't read into that. They're still a terrific combo. The loss of Owen Daniels stinks, though. Even last season when he wasn't scoring touchdowns, he was a key cog in the system. Kevin Walter and Slaton must step up, and they will.
... Meanwhile, the tight end position remains deep. For the second consecutive week, a top-10 tight end bit the dust, from Chris Cooley to Daniels, and still I say in a 10-team league you can do just fine with a waiver pickup. It's a shame for Daniels because he entered Week 8 as fantasy's No. 1 tight end.
... Matt Forte is still a fantasy option. Not that I would go trading for him, however. The matchup dictated his inclusion as an active fantasy option, and future matchups (Vikings twice, Cardinals) really don't. Forte will contribute in some games the rest of the way, but I don't expect many more 20-point fantasy performances.
... Kevin Smith goes to the fantasy bench. If a tree falls in the forest, we might not hear it. If a running back can't exploit the Rams, we certainly do. Smith was projected tops in all the land for Week 8, and he delivered eight fantasy points. It doesn't mean we have given up on him, but it's hard to expect much in ensuing weeks.
... Ted Ginn Jr. has major skills. But until he can translate them into running a good passing route or holding on to the ball, he's still not a 10-team-league option. Unless returns count in your league, of course. Great, he's the old Devin Hester.
... Things actually can get worse for the Browns. I admit, I keep wondering what more Derek Anderson can do to get himself benched, and he outpaces expectations. Things are so bad that Jamal Lewis reportedly wants to retire. Who can blame him? It goes without saying you don't want any Browns in fantasy.
...Terrell Owens can find the end zone! He just can't find it when someone is throwing to him. Good news, though: Trent Edwards probably will regain the starting job for the next game. Ugh. Put T.O. in the Wildcat, and what do you have to lose?
Eric Karabell discusses the 10 things he learned in Week 8 for fantasy, including how inconsistent Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb can be.