By Eric Huber Special to Published Oct 30, 2009 at 4:12 PM
It's Halloween weekend. It's fantasy football. Have you picked out your fantasy football starting costume yet? Are you going trick or treating through the waiver wire? Do this week's match-ups, like the Packers vs. Vikings, scare you?

No matter how you answer those questions, nothing could prepare you for this week's shockingly intense fantasy forecast, brought to you by

You'll be left numb, glued to your seat wanting more of the terror NFL Halloween weekend will bring you while you cheer for your favorite team in your way-too-small, black-and-silver No. 32 Marcus Allen costume, your bandage dominated Invisible Man suit or even your tri-colored No. 4 jersey (Packers, Jets and Vikings).

One more thing: Don't be scared to sign-up for the RapidDraft Weekly Contest and your chance at winning $50,000. Good luck.


Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler
-- Last week marked the second time this season that the Bears new starting quarterback threw three or more interceptions. In the last two weeks, Cutler has almost a 2-to-1 interception-to-touchdown ratio. The question now is: Will he rebound? Or, is this is the beginning of another Bears quarterback failure? For the record, the Bears opponent this week -- the Cleveland Browns -- rank 31st against the run, but have allowed just as many touchdowns through the air (10) as on the ground.

Arizona running back Chris Wells -- "Beanie" finally showed something Sunday night against the Giants, when he scored the first regular-season touchdown of his career. While head coach Ken Whisenhunt maintains that Wells will not start anytime soon, fantasy owners should be a little excited that the rookie has finally made it on to the fantasy radar. The Cardinals' opponent this week, the Carolina Panthers, are ranked 25th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (133.2). What's even more interesting is the fact that the Cardinals' defense is ranked first in the NFL in that same category. Clearly, the Cardinals are starting to become more balanced, and Wells will be one of the key components in keeping that balance moving forward.

San Francisco wide receiver Michael Crabtree -- Rumor has it that Crabtree and starting quarterback Alex Smith were working together in their free time during the bye week, and it seemed to have paid off last week against the Texans. Crabtree had a pretty nice NFL and fantasy debut, recording five receptions for 56 yards. He looked surprisingly comfortable running routes. This week, the 49ers travel to Indianapolis to play a Colts team that will score plenty of points, which could mean that Crabtree could see lots of footballs flying in his direction. 

Here are a few waiver players that will be highly considered this week, but be careful as some of them may be tricky: 

San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith -- Smith, 25, finally showed what 49ers fans and fantasy owners have been waiting for since 2005. By throwing for three touchdowns, Smith has created yet another quarterback controversy in San Francisco == regardless of what coach Singletary says. However, I still have doubts about the former Ute only because he has had a history of disappointing. If you need a quarterback due to a bye week and had Shaun Hill as your previous back-up, go ahead and pick up Smith this week. If not, don't even bother wasting a roster spot until he shows more. Verdict: Trick.

New York Jets running back Shonn Greene -- Greene broke out big-time against the Raiders last week due to Leon Washington's early exit. With Washington out for the remainder of the season, Greene is bound to see a rise in touches moving forward. The Jets offensive line is built to run the football and Thomas Jones can't do it all himself. Greene is definitely a runner to pick up, especially if you have Thomas Jones on your roster. Verdict: Treat.

New York Jets wide receiver David Clowney -- With several Jets wideouts injured, Clowney was forced to start this past week against the Raiders. He did well, catching four passes for 79 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown from quarterback Mark Sanchez. Keep in mind, however, that once Jerricho Cotchery returns to the lineup, which could be fairly soon, Clowney will return to the bench. Verdict: Trick.

Washington tight end Fred Davis -- The Redskins second-year tight end will be an intriguing player this week. Not only did Davis record eight receptions, 78 yards, and score a touchdown, but it looks as though primary starter Chris Cooley will miss anywhere from four to eight weeks. To top it off, the Redskins are off this week, which makes things even more complicated for fantasy owners. Beyond Week 8, I'm not even sure I would want to take a chance on a tight end who has had minimal fantasy impact, let alone plays on a Redskins offense averaging a 27th-best 13.7 points per game. Verdict: Trick.

Week 8 Fantasy Heroes and Villains -- Chilling Movie Characters Edition
Last week, Optimus Prime and Megatron were into this fantasy world in an unheard of fantasy football comparison. With things Halloween this weekend, it's only appropriate to bring out a few classic movie characters to the fantasy forefront in this week‘s edition of Fantasy Heroes and Villains.

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees (Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde)
-- The Dolphins learned last week that even when you get to the Saints quarterback and win the short-term battle, it doesn't mean he won't come back and win the war. Brees struggled in the first 40 minutes of the game and turned the ball over four times. In the final 20 minutes, he led the Saints on four scoring drives. This week, he'll lead his Saints at home against a Falcons team that allowed the Cowboys to score 37 last week. Expect just Dr. Jekyll this week. Projection: 310 passing yards, 3 touchdown passes. 

Tennessee running back Chris Johnson (Alex Browning) -- Johnson continues to be no part of the Titans titanic 2009 disaster, and once again will prove he is the chosen one to watch over and carry his team to victory. He will lead the way as the Titans take a step in the right direction of turning a train wreck season in to a respectable one, or so says mine, and I'm sure his, premonition. Projection: 185 total yards, 2 touchdowns. 

Packers wide receiver Donald Driver (Alfred Hitchcock) -- Hitchcock showed up at some point in all of his movies. Driver does the same in game films. This week against the Vikings, he will show up, but unlike Hitchcock it won't be just a brief appearance. He'll benefit a little more this time around on the quick slant routes when the Vikings try to bombard quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Projection: 7 receptions, 134 yards, 1 touchdown.

St. Louis running back Steven Jackson (Chucky) -- Jackson has been beaten and bruised like no other runner as the Rams only feasible offensive weapon. Most assume that he will go down to injury at some point this season, and that he holds little fantasy value because the Rams' offense is hideous. Like Chucky, though, it's hard to count out Jackson. He has rushed for 635 tough yards, but has yet to score a touchdown. Look for both of those to change this week against the Lions. It‘s breakout time! Projection: 156 total yards, 2 touchdowns.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Schaub (Michael Myers)
-- Schaub has been slicing and dicing through defenses since his horrid Week 1 start. He's averaging 296.5 passing yards per game and is on pace to finish with more than 4,700 to go along with 36 touchdown passes. However, this week Schaub may have to put down the knife. Why? For starters the Texans' opponent -- the Buffalo Bills -- are ranked ninth against the pass and 32nd against the run. More important, in the past two home games the red and blue defense hasn't allowed a single touchdown, and one of those home games happened to be against this week's Dr. Jekyll. Projection: 210 passing yards, 1 touchdown.

Philadelphia running back Brian Westbrook (Freddy) -- In the "Nightmare on Elm Street" movie series, Freddy makes his killings in people's dreams. In a way, the same can be said about fantasy owners who have had their dreams of a fantasy title killed by Brian Westbrook's lackluster 2009 production. Yes, he has been on and off the field with various injuries, but even when he has been seen on the field he's been less than stellar. For the season, Westbrook has scored two touchdowns and is averaging just 65.4 total yards per start; well short of what he's capable of producing. And with the effects of a concussion lingering, it won't get any easier against the Giants this week. Projection: 50 total yards, 0 touchdowns.

Denver wide receiver Eddie Royal (Hannibal Lecter) -- Royal's 148 season receiving yards (90 in one game), 8.2 yards per catch average, and current touchdown shutout have fantasy owners pondering what to do with their weekly fantasy serial killer. They may want to consider ridding themselves of his damaging presence, as this week Royal will continue his points killing spree against a Ravens defense hungry for a victory at home in a hostile environment. Projection: 3 receptions, 27 yards, 0 touchdowns.

Week 8 Fantasy Questions Answered fantasy writers Eric Huber, Matt Schauf, and Frank Mazzola answer a few burning questions heading into Week 8. 

Which Monday night quarterback will shine brighter for fantasy owners -- Matt Ryan or Drew Brees? Why?

Huber: Drew Brees. Yes, last season in New Orleans Matt Ryan did outperform Brees throwing for 315 yards --- his highest output of the 2008 season --- and one touchdown while rushing for a touchdown as well. However, I cannot go against one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league at home in a possible shootout.

Schauf: Brees is too good of a quarterback to be putting up the numbers he has been lately. Atlanta has been giving up 250 yards a game to opposing quarterbacks and Brees should easily be able to reach the 300 yard mark, so he's the better play.

Is there any hope left for Matt Forte this season? What kind of numbers will he put up against the Browns this week?

Huber: Yes, and it's this week. After this week, the Bears play the top-ranked Cardinals, sixth-ranked 49ers, 11th-ranked Eagles and 10th-ranked Vikings run defenses. As for the Browns; they rank 31st against the run, so Forte should have no problem recording at least 100 yards and one or two touchdowns on the ground this week.

Schauf: There's hope for him making a habit of catching four or five passes and finding the end zone at times, so he should be a solid PPR performer. As far as hope for him delivering the kind of production that a first-round pick should: no. That said, he really should have a good game against a Cleveland defense that is allowing 4.9 yards per carry (second worst in the league), sits tied for most rushing touchdowns yielded and has let two opposing backs go beyond 145 yards.

Mazzola: If Forte can't run on Cleveland, he can't run on anybody. His numbers will probably pick up as the weather gets colder and the passing won't be relied upon as heavily. Expect him to approach 100 yards and a touchdown this week.

Is Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks turning into a better fantasy option than both Steve Smith and Mario Manningham? Explain. 

Huber: Temporarily yes, but as fantasy owners have already seen, that can change at any time. Nicks has caught a touchdown in each of the past three weeks, while Manningham has scored two and Smith has been held out of the end zone completely. Plus, add-in Domenik Hixon and you have a logjam at receiver. Ultimately as a fantasy owner, I would much rather stay away from this Giants mess until, sadly, someone goes down again.

Schauf: I'd still take Smith first, because a three-game span with one more target for Nicks isn't enough to convince me that the balance is shifting. Now that opposing defenses have some film on the rookie, it'll be interesting to see how they adjust and whether his production draws some attention back away from Smith, who enjoyed a torrid start to the season. However, I'd definitely rather have Nicks than Manningham, who runs poor routes and doesn't have great hands.

Pretty much every Giant, though, went into the New Orleans game overrated (except the non-producing Brandon Jacobs) after a ridiculously easy start to the schedule. The current stretch should be bringing expectations back down around where they should be. Going forward, I think Nicks and Smith will be valuable fantasy players, with Smith being the more consistent option.

Mazzola: It's difficult to predict which Giants receiver will go off on any given week. Therefore, Nicks is not a sure starter over either Smith or Manningham as Eli Manning will continue to spread the ball around to whoever is open.

Name your best and bust picks for Week 8 (QB, RB, WR, TE). 

Huber: QB -- Best: Tony Romo, Bust: Alex Smith RB -- Best: Chris Johnson, Bust: Ricky Williams WR -- Best: Roddy White, Bust: Derrick Mason TE -- Best: Owen Daniels, Bust: Visanthe Shiancoe

Schauf: QB -- Best: Drew Brees, Bust: Joe Flacco RB -- Best: Steve Slaton, Bust: Ryan Grant WR -- Best: Mike Sims-Walker, Bust: Mario Manningham TE -- Best: Owen Daniels, Bust: John Carlson

Mazzola: QB -- Best: Kurt Warner, Bust: Joe Flacco RB -- Best: Steven Jackson, Bust: Frank Gore WR -- Best: Marques Colston, Bust: Desean Jackson TE -- Best: Owen Daniels, Bust: Brent Celek

Bonus question: Brett Favre is... (fill in the blank).
Huber: One of the best flip-floppin' gun-slinging competitors to ever throw the leather pigskin at legendary Lambeau Field.

Mazzola: Deceitful and duplicitous.

Schauf: Hmmm, I'm not sure yet -- give me a couple more months.

Fantasy Breakdown -- Minnesota vs. Green Bay
On September 13, 1992 in sunny Tampa, quarterback Brett Favre, then playing for the Green Bay Packers as a back-up to Don Majkowski, completed his first pass; to himself. Coincidentally, it was for a seven-yard loss. The very next week the No. 7 "Majik Man" threw only two passes against the Bengals before tearing a ligament in his ankle. The rest is history.

Now, No. 4 returns to the sacred turf where he made Packers history and played green and gold God. He returns to the place where he once coughed up blood on the sideline during a timeout, only to come back out and throw the game-winning touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers to clinch the division title. He returns to the place where he recorded 27,784 career passing yards and 209 touchdown passes. And, he returns to the place where he saw the last pass of his green and gold career flutter in to the hands of Corey Webster to send the Giants to one of the most historic Super Bowls ever.

Brett Favre returns to Lambeau Field this week to play in one of the biggest games of his career against the team that some considered his very own; a match-up at his former historic stomping grounds that nobody could've predicted in 1992, 1995, or 2007.

As for the fantasy aspect of the game; here's a quick breakdown by position of who has the advantage.

Quarterback -- Brett Favre vs. Aaron Rodgers
Both quarterbacks have experienced a few hiccups, but overall are playing at Pro Bowl levels this season. Favre has led the Vikings to a 6-1 start, thrown 12 touchdown passes in seven games and recorded two 300-plus yard games. Rodgers has been red hot in his last four games, throwing for at least two touchdown passes in every game and recording 300 passing yards twice. Their stats are almost dead even. Their supporting casts are equally talented. And their competitive spirits will be at all-time highs. It would be easy to chalk this one up as a draw again, but there is one thing that will surprisingly favor Rodgers this week; the crowd. Advantage: Rodgers.

Running back -- Adrian Peterson vs. Ryan Grant -- The best word that describes these two north-south runners is conviction. Why? That's how they both run; with conviction. They hit the hole hard and break tackles any way possible to gain the extra yardage. However, there is a clear advantage that will lean on the Vikings' side of the field Sunday. Adrian Peterson has elite NFL and fantasy talent, while Ryan Grant, well let's just say he's not as good. Yes, Grant averaged 2.4 more yards per carry in their first meeting this season, but Grant's three touchdowns and 496 rushing yards don't even compare to Peterson's eight scores and 687 ground yards. Advantage: Peterson.

Wide Receiver -- Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin vs. Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and James Jones -- If you were to line up Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice, and Percy Harvin on a fantasy draft sheet and pick which receiver was going to have a team high 545 receiving yards and 33 receptions by Week 8, you would never have picked the middle man. Now, while Berrian and Harvin nurse injuries, Sidney Rice is turning in to a fantasy gem and Mr. Favre's prime target. And that last sentence exposes exactly why the Packers trio will enjoy better fantasy days Sunday. Well, and because they are better receivers catching passes from a better quarterback; at least fantasy-wise that is. Advantage: Jennings, Driver, and Jones.

Tight End -- Donald Lee vs. Visanthe Shiancoe -- When the Vikings and Packers met Week 4, the tight ends in the game -- Lee, Shiancoe, and the injured Jermichael Finley -- combined for 13 receptions, 174 yards and two touchdowns. But it was Finley who busted out with a 100-yard receiving day and a long touchdown catch on that memorable Monday night. This week, the second-year developing star may not play, so it's probably just Lee against Shiancoe. While it would be easy to say Shiancoe is the easy pick due to his touchdown prowess, the Vikings have allowed a lot of receptions and yardage to opposing tight ends this season. If Aaron Rodgers wants to avoid getting sacked when the heavy blitzes come his way, he'll have to rely on the short passing game, of which Lee has been a big part of this season, especially lately. However, in the end you can't go against Shiancoe this week, primarily because the Vikings will most likely be without Bernard Berrian, so the five-touchdown tight end should be targeted a lot, especially in the red zone. Advantage: Shiancoe.

Eric Huber Special to
Eric Huber is a staff writer for, and