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Lockhart's Fantasy Outlook: Can Injury-Prone DeMarco Murray Hold Up?

BOSTON (CBS) - 98.5 The Sports Hub's Mike Lockhart sits down with's Andrew Celani for a comprehensive fantasy football chat heading into Week 8 of the season.

We start this week with the Thursday Night Football matchup between Denver and San Diego, probably the first Thursday nighter of the season featuring two definite playoff-bound teams.

The AFC West foes met twice last year in the regular season and the average combined score was 47.5 points. There's tons of fantasy starters on both teams, but the results from last year and star-studded rosters is not necessarily indicative of how tonight will shake out, according to our resident fantasy expert Mike Lockhart.

Peyton Manning_Philip Rivers
Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos and Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

"Thursday nights are so tough to predict. I would imagine with Peyton Manning on the field and all those talented weapons they're gonna score points. Denver's defense isn't amazing. They're decent, so San Diego should be able to put up some points too. I think it could be a high scoring game, maybe a 35-28 performance. But it's an inter-divisional game on Thursday night, so there's always the chance of a 17-14 game. Those things happen," said Lockhart.

Julius Thomas, the former college basketball star turned NFL tight end, is lighting it up for the Broncos in 2014. With nine touchdowns already through six games, the 26-year-old is on pace for 24 touchdowns. That pace will obviously not (or maybe it will) hold up, but in any event he's a roster lock week in and week out.

However, Thomas does have a tough matchup tonight.

"This week is a tough matchup. The San Diego Chargers have been very good against tight ends, but with a guy like Julius Thomas you have to play him. There's probably nobody on your roster who you'd play over him. I don't love this matchup but you have to play him. I could see him getting 30 yards and maybe sneak in a touchdown -- that's gonna be the difference for him. I don't think he's gonna rack up a ton of yards."

C.J. Spiller
C. J. Spiller. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

You can't help but feel bad for C.J. Spiller.

This player has spent the entirety of his five-year career splitting carries with Fred Jackson after being a top 10 draft pick in 2010. Last week against Minnesota, Jackson goes down with a groin injury, and Spiller must be thinking, "Finally! Here's my chance!" A couple plays later and Spiller is out with a broken collarbone.

Talk about being snake bitten.

With both Jackson and Spiller out for the foreseeable future, the Bills now turn to Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown.

"That's been Spiller's career. A lot of these guys just can't stay healthy. It's too bad. But they have two quality backs behind them. Bryce Brown hasn't even dressed for a game this year, so he's fresh and ready to go. He had a lot of success in Philadelphia and in his young career. This is only his third season in the NFL. I would pick Brown up definitely, but I wouldn't start him this week against the Jets. That's a tough situation, and not to mention you don't even know really how they're gonna use him. I would imagine that Anthony Dixon would get first crack at it. Last week when Jackson and Spiller went down it became the Anthony Dixon show because Brown wasn't even dressed."

According to Bills beat reporter Mike Rodak, Dixon was the running back getting first team reps in practice on Wednesday. That'll be something to keep an eye on going forward.

Denard Robinson
Denard Robinson (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

The Jaguars are more awful than an Awful Awful milkshake from Newport Creamery, but they got their first win last week thanks in part to the efforts of Denard "Shoelace" Robinson.

The former college star at Michigan had an NFL-career-high 127 rushing yards on 22 carries against the Browns, helping the Jags end a nine-game losing streak. He also scored his first NFL touchdown.

With Toby Gerhart and Storm Johnson producing next to nothing, Lockhart insists you give Robinson a shot.

"I'll tell you what. I watched that game a couple days ago and he looked good. He was running hard, and it was the first time I felt he was running like a running back and not a quarterback, which he played in college. I liked what I saw from him. He was running hard and not being hesitant. Obviously they paid Toby Gerhart, so they might want to throw him a bone once he gets back healthy. But Gerhart just looks terrible to me. He's so slow. Storm Johnson is slow. The difference in speed when Robinson gets the ball is night and day."

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans
Zach Mettenberger #7 of the Tennessee Titans stands on the sideline with Charlie Whitehurst #12 on October 12, 2014. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Stop me when you've heard this before: Jake Locker is injured.


If you're the Titans, you've got to imagine the Jake Locker experiment is over, especially considering he's in the final year of his rookie contract.

"Clipboard Jesus" Charlie Whitehurt definitely isn't the answer, so now Tennessee turns to big arm rookie Zach Mettenberger.

"Play the Houston Texans defense if you can scoop them up," said Lockhart. "Mettenberger is less than a year off ACL surgery. I don't expect much from him this week," said Lockhart. "I wouldn't even think about starting any Tennessee Titans this week. The running game is nonexistent. Bishop Sankey has been atrocious and the wide receivers have been hit or miss. I'm staying away from anybody on the Titans this week, and I'm a huge fan of the Texans defense."

Oakland Raiders v New England Patriots
(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

While on the subject of defense, Celani was curious to hear Lockhart's opinion on New England.

Jerod Mayo is out for the season, Chandler Jones is out for a month and the schedule is just absolutely brutal the next six weeks. The Patriots are about to embark on a tough six-game stretch, where they'll square off against the league's best quarterbacks and offenses.

"The Patriots are a middle of the road defense for me this week. The thing about the Bears is when you give Jay Cutler time in the pocket he seems to implode. That kind of plays into the Patriots hands a little bit not having Chandler Jones. Jones has been great against the pass, but can't do anything against the run," said Lockhart. "When Cutler has a lot of time he makes a lot of mistakes. The key to the game is shutting down Matt Forte. I think the Patriots secondary can matchup against these wide receivers."

Between injuries, suspensions, under-performers and overachievers, it's been a weird fantasy season to say the least.

We're at a critical juncture of the fantasy season as the playoffs draw near and the bye weeks really start to ramp up. It's desperation time for a lot of owners, many of whom are willing to make the big bold move that could pay huge dividends in getting the league crown.

Lockhart provided us with a few players to dump, and others to sell high or buy low on.

"Look at the running back situation in St. Louis. Zac Stacy does not look good. He's almost droppable it seems like. In a 10-team format I would definitely drop a guy like Zac Stacy. But it's still early and things have a way of changing. However, it's not looking good for a guy like Stacy."

Houston Texans v Dallas Cowboys
DeMarco Murray #29 of the Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

"I'll give you a couple names that I would consider trading high on. DeMarco Murray comes to mind. If you have two or three running backs behind him that you feel comfortable with, I'd think about trading him. Look at his workload this year. In 2013 last year, he had 217 carries in 14 games. He's 40 carries away from that right now through seven weeks. This is a guy that can never stay healthy. You might want to think about trading him if you're comfortable with your depth and need a wide receiver like a Jordy Nelson-type. That's a one-for-one deal I would definitely think about making. "

Mohamed Sanu
Mohamed Sanu #12 of the Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

"Mohamed Sanu is another player I'm trading high on. He has a lot of points right now, but that Bengals offense seems to be sputtering. I don't know if A.J. Green will be back this week but he'll be back at some point, and it seems like Sanu really needs him in the lineup to succeed. I would think about trading Sanu to a team that maybe needs a second receiver."

Lockhart also suggests buying low on Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon and Cardinals RB Andre Ellington. Both backs have struggled to find the endzone, but Mike believes they're poised to break out.  Lockhart also weighed in on Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, Chris Ivory and much more.

For Lockhart's full breakdown and positional rankings, visit and listen below for the full discussion!

Tune in every Sunday for the Sports Hub Fantasy Football Show from 8am - 10am with Mike Lockhart and Rich Keefe, and don't forget to tweet all your questions to @LockhartFFB and @Keefe21!


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