Week 8 Fantasy Football Matchups

To prepare you as best we can for your week of Fantasy Football, we've devised this series of previews for each NFL game. We'll give you a taste of what to expect, then rank each significant Fantasy contributor on a scale from 0-5 logos (with five logos suggesting can't-miss; a player or unit without any logos suggests you probably shouldn't start him under any circumstances). The rankings take the matchup into account, but injuries and other significant factors also contribute.

Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, 1:00 pm, M&T Bank Stadium
Both teams are rested after their bye week and understand the significance of this matchup. The Broncos will see the Ravens' secondary as not only a weakness but probably the only way they'll be confident enough to gain yardage. The Broncos don't have a physical inside rusher to bully the Ravens' defensive front even though they have the offensive line to do it. That won't bode well for Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter , but they will be able to make a dent as backfield receivers. Expect Josh McDaniels to order a lot of passing by Kyle Orton , including his trademark short-area attack, to neutralize the Ravens pass rush and take advantage of their floundering secondary. Brandon Marshall particularly matches up well with the Ravens' cornerbacks and should have a good game. The Ravens will battle back with a heavy dose of Ray Rice , who has been as good a weapon as any on their offense. The Baltimore offensive line will be back at full strength and the team should take advantage of it against the Broncos' front. We might see the Ravens lean on the run game a little more than normal to try and eat up some game clock, but Joe Flacco will do his part to carry the offense. To that extent, the Ravens match up very poorly with the Broncos secondary and could have some trouble. Derrick Mason stands out as a player who might have to settle for mid-range catches where he gets open just enough to make a catch but not gain additional yardage. The same goes for Todd Heap ; only Mark Clayton has a chance to stretch the Broncos' secondary. For the Ravens to have success, Flacco will need to throw a lot or Rice will have to run a lot. Expect the latter, not the former.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Kyle Orton QB Joe Flacco
Knowshon Moreno RB Ray Rice
Correll Buckhalter RB Willis McGahee
Brandon Marshall WR Derrick Mason
Eddie Royal WR Mark Clayton
Tony Scheffler TE Todd Heap
Matt Prater K Steven Hauschka
Broncos DST Ravens
Cleveland Browns at Chicago Bears
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Soldier Field
The Browns don't catch a break here like their in-state rivals did last week: Tommie Harris is expected to suit up for the Bears, thus giving a big push for Chicago's defensive line against the Browns' run game. Derek Anderson and his weak receiving corps won't be much of a match for the Bears' secondary. Look to see if the Bears can get some pressure on Anderson; a big problem last week was that they couldn't get to Carson Palmer and as a result they got torched. That shouldn't happen in this game; the only receiver with a shot to play well is Mohamed Massaquoi , and he's no lock to catch the ball every time it hits his hands. The Bears should finally get Matt Forte going as the Browns have been pitiful against the run. We've said this before, but with Chicago tweaking its O-line and having its best run defense matchup of the year, Forte either gets it done this week or gets stuck with the Fantasy bust label. Expect Jay Cutler to throw for a couple of touchdowns but not get a lot of yards since the Bears might not need to pass as much as in previous weeks. Devin Hester should especially have a strong outing against the Browns' thin secondary. The Bears defense could be good for a touchdown in the game, too.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Derek Anderson QB Jay Cutler
Jamal Lewis RB Matt Forte
Jerome Harrison RB Garrett Wolfe
Mohamed Massaquoi WR Devin Hester
Josh Cribbs WR Johnny Knox
Michael Gaines   TE Greg Olsen
Billy Cundiff K Robbie Gould
Browns   DST Bears
N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Lincoln Financial Field
The Giants have played well in Philly and should continue to give the Eagles a challenge. Both of these teams have improved their records by beating weak opponents but have struggled against tough challengers. This game should tell us which of these teams is 'for real.' With Eli Manning admitting that his foot is keeping him from playing his best, and with the Eagles pass rush anxious to attack his wounded foot, look for the Giants to try and establish the run early. Brandon Jacobs has begun to play a little bit better, and the Eagles run defense is good but not threatening. Moreover, the Giants' O-line will have no problem getting physical with them and opening spots at the point of attack. This is not to say the Giants won't pass, and they'll especially look to isolate matchups in the passing game on Eagles safety Sean Jones . He got chewed up by Redskins tight end Fred Davis last week and could see a lot of Kevin Boss and Hakeem Nicks this week (Nicks is typically an outside receiver but when the Giants go to three-receiver sets it might force Jones to focus on him). Mario Manningham should get a shot to beat his coverage and make a play deep too, but the secret is out on Steve Smith -- opponents have bottled him up so Manning doesn't have his security blanket. It's worked over the last three weeks. The Eagles really need Giant killer Brian Westbrook for this game as LeSean McCoy hasn't shown much of his explosiveness this season. If Westbrook is out, the Giants might disrespect the Philly run game a little bit and play against the pass. Donovan McNabb has been awful over his last two games and needs to get going or else the Eagles won't have a chance. What helps Philadelphia is Andy Reid's exotic play calling, and they'll take on a Giants secondary that hasn't been great of late. Look for things like the flea-flicker and maybe a bit more Wildcat than normal from the Eagles to keep the Giants guessing. With that being the case, only playmakers like Westbrook and DeSean Jackson should be considered safe starts. McNabb is even a little risky since he might turn the ball over once or twice and really isn't known for putting up yardage on the Giants. The bottom line is that these teams are so familiar with each other and match up well against each other -- it should make for an interesting chess match.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Eli Manning QB Donovan McNabb
Brandon Jacobs RB Brian Westbrook
Ahmad Bradshaw RB LeSean McCoy
Hakeem Nicks WR DeSean Jackson
Mario Manningham WR Jeremy Maclin
Steve Smith WR Jason Avant
Kevin Boss TE Brent Celek
Lawrence Tynes K David Akers
Giants DST Eagles
St. Louis Rams at Detroit Lions
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Ford Field
This might actually be a fun game to watch. Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan used to coach a lot of these Rams players when he was in charge in St. Louis, so look for Detroit's defense to have a slight edge even though the Rams are working an entirely new offense. Naturally, their primary job will be to slow down Steven Jackson , which will be a tough task for an undermanned Lions run defense. The Rams should have some success playing off of Jackson's play and hitting Donnie Avery downfield. They also have seemingly carved out a role for Danny Amendola as a short-area receiver, and he might do enough to warrant some single coverage and possibly free things up for the Rams' other receivers like Keenan Burton and Randy McMichael . All told, Marc Bulger is in line for what might be his best game of the 2009 season, and the Rams should find ways to score. The Lions should too, especially if Calvin Johnson is active. He said he's optimistic, so his Fantasy owners should be as well. Look for the Lions to establish Kevin Smith and the run game while also taking some short- and mid-range shots. Johnson should absolutely dominate the Rams' secondary, so hope that he plays. And if Johnson is playing, then Matthew Stafford , who appears to be ready to play in Week 8, isn't a bad sleeper option as a one-week quarterback replacement, either. Because both teams have weak defenses, this might turn into a shootout.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Marc Bulger QB Matthew Stafford
Steven Jackson RB Kevin Smith
Kenneth Darby   RB Maurice Morris
Donnie Avery WR Calvin Johnson
Danny Amendola WR Dennis Northcutt
Randy McMichael TE Brandon Pettigrew
Josh Brown K Jason Hanson
Rams DST Lions
San Francisco 49ers at Indianapolis Colts
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Lucas Oil Stadium
The 49ers will learn what others have so far this season: The Colts' defense isn't half bad. Granted, the defense gets to play against one-dimensional offenses for much of their games because the Colts' offense puts up so many points and forces opponents to throw. That certainly helps. Frank Gore has not run well for much of the season, and even though the Colts run defense got burned by Steven Jackson last week, look for them to slow Gore down, especially with the right side of his offensive line a liability. Don't expect big stats from Alex Smith here as the Colts play well vs. the pass at home and his receiving corps is still shaky after you get past tight end Vernon Davis . There's actually a chance Smith takes a step backward this week because the Colts will put pressure on him, which has always been his downfall. The Colts will do what they do offensively, but there's a realistic chance that Reggie Wayne takes limited reps because of his groin pull. This isn't to say you should sit him, but maybe lower your expectations a smidge since it's unlikely he'll play a full game. Expect a big game from Dallas Clark ; the 49ers are getting back safety Michael Lewis , but after suffering multiple concussions this season he might be a little gun shy. Anthony Gonzalez is also on the radar but he's not a safe start since his reps will almost definitely be limited -- the Colts will want him healthy for the second half of the season. Also, look for Joseph Addai to have another solid outing against a 49ers defensive front that has slumped (five touchdowns allowed to running backs in their last two games). If Donald Brown is sidelined, which is expected, Addai is a candidate for 20-plus touches.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Alex Smith QB Peyton Manning
Frank Gore RB Joseph Addai
Glen Coffee   RB Chad Simpson
Michael Crabtree WR Reggie Wayne
Josh Morgan WR Austin Collie
Vernon Davis TE Dallas Clark
Joe Nedney K Matt Stover
49ers   DST Colts
Miami Dolphins at N.Y. Jets
Sunday, 1:00 pm, The Meadowlands
The Dolphins will win or lose this game based on how well they run the ball. Figure them to be very physical, just as they were in their meeting with the Jets a few weeks back, and expect them to test the Jets' defensive line without nose tackle Kris Jenkins taking up space. Look for Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams to be very busy. Additionally, the Dolphins will want to run the ball to keep from passing; they failed to topple the Saints because of some bad plays by Ted Ginn , who might be relegated to a smaller role here. That doesn't mean he won't play or won't get targeted -- he might be in line for a deep ball or two (if he can catch it) -- but the Dolphins would probably be content to run the Wildcat and pound the Jets on the ground; remember, the Raiders averaged 5.5 yards per rush last week against these Jets, so you know the Dolphins will aim to meet or exceed that mark. The Jets will know this coming in, but they just don't have the horses to entirely contain the Dolphins' linemen and running backs, especially without Jenkins. Meanwhile, the Jets will likely do the same thing: play to their strength and establish the run. The Dolphins are better against the run than the Jets are, but again, their strong O-line will pave the way for Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene -- both physical backs -- to gain yardage. But unlike the Dolphins, the Jets have no poor receiving options as they're getting Jerricho Cotchery back, and they will surely target Dolphins rookie cornerback Vontae Davis and nickelback Jason Allen through the air. Braylon Edwards hasn't impressed since his Jet debut at Miami, but he's got a shot to post some good numbers this week, as does Cotchery, who seems to be in good shape after a few weeks of rest. As long as Mark Sanchez doesn't have to throw a ton, he should be decent for some yardage with a touchdown or two.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Chad Henne QB Mark Sanchez
Ronnie Brown RB Thomas Jones
Ricky Williams RB Shonn Greene
Brian Hartline WR Braylon Edwards
Greg Camarillo   WR Jerricho Cotchery
Anthony Fasano   TE Dustin Keller
Dan Carpenter K Jay Feely
Dolphins DST Jets
Houston Texans at Buffalo Bills
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Ralph Wilson Stadium
Are the Texans even good enough to have a trap game? If they are, then this is it, since they play at Indy in Week 9. The Bills' secondary has exceeded expectations over the last month but they will get tested this week. They're not a physical secondary, which isn't good because Andre Johnson will enter the game, bruised lung and all, looking to make a point that he's fine. Expect him to post some strong yardage and expect a decent game from Owen Daniels as well. But the Texans might be wise to take a part of the load off of Matt Schaub arm and attack the Bills' bad run defense. This is something the Panthers didn't do last week and they lost as a result. Steve Slaton has improved over the last month and just might not be a lost cause after all. Expect a strong game from him, too. Has Buffalo's offense actually gotten better with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center? It seems more like teams have simply given wins to the Bills over the last two weeks rather than the offense defeating their opponents. Marshawn Lynch should touch the ball enough to make an impact, and the Texans have had their problems with physical receivers (exhibit A: Vernon Davis last week). Maybe this is the week Terrell Owens finally posts some decent production. His matchup isn't that bad and the Texans might be more concerned with Lee Evans . He's a decent one-week replacement, nothing more, for those owners who have held on to him in spite of his awful play.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Schaub QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
Steve Slaton RB Marshawn Lynch
Chris Brown   RB Fred Jackson
Andre Johnson WR Terrell Owens
Kevin Walter WR Lee Evans
Owen Daniels TE Derek Fine
Kris Brown K Rian Lindell
Texans DST Bills
Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Cowboys Stadium
Matt Hasselbeck will have his hands full. Sure, he's got a nice receiving corps against a Cowboys secondary that seemed to overachieve last week against the Falcons, but the Dallas pass rush has been on the rise and will look to humiliate Seattle's less-than-stellar O-line en route to sacking Hasselbeck. Look for veteran tackle Damion McIntosh , signed last week, to especially have his hands full with the likes of DeMarcus Ware . If the pass rush is as intense as it has been for Dallas, then Hasselbeck won't do much better than he did against the Cardinals two weeks ago. The Cowboys should find the going as easy on offense as Seattle's run and pass defense are both banged up. Marion Barber struggled last week but should do better here, as should Felix Jones . Expect Miles Austin to start seeing tighter coverage, but that just means Tony Romo will find other places to put the ball. Austin should get decent numbers but look for Jason Witten and -- dare we suggest it -- Roy Williams to get some looks because of this? Ultimately, Romo will have a solid game and the Dallas running backs should steamroll the Seahawks in a blowout.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Hasselbeck QB Tony Romo
Julius Jones RB Marion Barber
Edgerrin James   RB Felix Jones
Nate Burleson WR Miles Austin
T.J. Houshmandzadeh WR Roy Williams
John Carlson TE Jason Witten
Olindo Mare K Nick Folk
Seahawks DST Cowboys
Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers
Sunday, 4:05 pm, Qualcomm Stadium
Justin Fargas has a chance this week. The Chargers' run defense has been improved over the last two weeks but the Raiders' rushing attack is their best asset, and a heavy dose of Fargas and Michael Bush gives Oakland a chance to eat clock, gain yardage, keep Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson on the sideline and most importantly score. Laugh all you want, but this will be a challenge for San Diego's run defense. Will it matter, though? Once the Chargers put points on the board, Oakland's offense will be in the hands of JaMarcus Russell or Bruce Gradkowski , and the end result won't be pretty. Look for the Chargers to get their points with a big dose of LaDainian Tomlinson ; even though the San Diego offensive line is weak right now, they should hold up against the Raiders. With L.T. established, expect the Chargers to keep throwing as Vincent Jackson has become a beast and Darren Sproles an explosive package that defenses can't handle. Even though Philip Rivers has struggled to put up monster stats against Oakland on a regular basis, this seems like a good week to expect a lot from him as the Raiders have allowed at least 29 points in three of their last four games against.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
JaMarcus Russell   QB Philip Rivers
Justin Fargas RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Michael Bush RB Darren Sproles
Louis Murphy   WR Vincent Jackson
Darrius Heyward-Bey   WR Malcom Floyd
Zach Miller TE Antonio Gates
Sebastian Janikowski K Nate Kaeding
Raiders   DST Chargers
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans
Sunday, 4:05 pm, LP Field
Jacksonville was one of the initial teams to expose the Titans' secondary this season as David Garrard threw often and effectively in their first meeting. With Tennessee consistently doing a good job of keeping Maurice Jones-Drew yardage limited, look for Jacksonville to use the pass again to dominate Tennessee, which should set up Jones-Drew to score. Mike Sims-Walker and Marcedes Lewis should be effective, and Torry Holt has been seeing a bump in stats as well. The Titans' offense has had a week to look at themselves and make some changes, and they made the most significant change possible: Vince Young will start at quarterback. This might appease the Ttians' owner but seems like a senseless decision considering the matchup. Kerry Collins seems better suited to take on a poor Jaguars secondary that might be without cornerback Rashean Mathis , but Young will get a crack at them instead. Young can keep plays alive with his feet and might post decent stats considering his big receiving corps, but questions about his accuracy and judgment cloud his Fantasy value. What this might mean is that the Titans will be focused on utilizing Chris Johnson to the fullest, and even though Jacksonville's front seven is strong, Johnson is too good a player not to get close to 20 touches per game. Expect a big week from him in spite of what might be a struggling 2009 debut for Young.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
David Garrard QB Vince Young
Maurice Jones-Drew RB Chris Johnson
Rashad Jennings   RB LenDale White
Mike Sims-Walker WR Nate Washington
Torry Holt WR Kenny Britt
Marcedes Lewis TE Bo Scaife
Josh Scobee K Rob Bironas
Jaguars DST Titans
Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, 4:15 pm, University of Phoenix Stadium
With their momentum halted and the team desperate for wins, this is the worst possible matchup for the Panthers. Arizona's run defense got blown up by the Giants a little bit last week but should be able to corral DeAngelo Williams , especially if the Panthers aren't as committed to him like they weren't last week when his touches weren't as regular as we had expected them to be. Sure, the Panthers will see the Cardinals secondary as a weak spot in the defense, but they don't have the talent to take advantage. The Cardinals will regularly put eight men in the box to stuff Williams and dare Delhomme to throw on coverage rolled to Steve Smith side. Look for Williams to get some pretty good stats, but everyone else from the Panthers is a risk to do well because of how faulty their pass game has become. Meanwhile, Arizona should benefit from some Delhomme turnovers and effectively find ways to score as they did in two meetings with Carolina last season. The Panthers' secondary might be ranked high against the pass, but unless Julius Peppers is constantly in Kurt Warner face, you'll see Arizona's receivers play well. Beanie Wells might see some extended work if the game goes to garbage time, but until then he should continue to split with goal-line master Tim Hightower . The Cardinals should put up some points in this one.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Jake Delhomme QB Kurt Warner
DeAngelo Williams RB Tim Hightower
Jonathan Stewart RB Beanie Wells
Steve Smith WR Larry Fitzgerald
Muhsin Muhammad   WR Anquan Boldin
Dwayne Jarrett   WR Steve Breaston
Jeff King TE Stephen Spach
John Kasay K Neil Rackers
Panthers DST Cardinals
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Sunday, 4:15 pm, Lambeau Field
Brett Favre is going to get time to throw the ball, and that will make the difference in the game. Sure, Minnesota will still run it with Adrian Peterson , but Favre is surely desperate to make it a point to put up a big stat line on his former team in Green Bay. Moreover, the Vikings team will look to rebound after a tough loss last week in a game they might have won had Favre not been pressured. The Packers' pass rush hasn't been incredible this season and the Vikings have the O-line to keep Favre clean. Expect Sidney Rice to catch a lot of passes, Visanthe Shiancoe to be useful and look for Percy Harvin to be a sleeper, too, especially with Bernard Berrian a question mark to play; if he does he won't be 100 percent. The Packers' offensive line is improving, but they'll have their hands full with Jared Allen and the Vikings' pass rush. Minnesota got to Aaron Rodgers eight times in their earlier meeting. Rodgers had a great game against Minnesota last time because he was able to pick on the Vikings' safeties with Jermichael Finley and hit Ryan Grant on dump-off passes. Grant should be fairly productive as a runner and receiver this week but Finley isn't at 100 percent. His replacement, Donald Lee , is an OK option but not as reliable or explosive as Finley. Remember, Finley beat Lee for the job he has. But Rodgers will take on a Vikings secondary that doesn't have cornerback Antoine Winfield and also wasn't tested much by the Steelers last week. Their history is awful against the Vikings, but there's a chance Donald Driver and Greg Jennings could be effective, especially with a week of film on replacement cornerbacks Asher Allen and Benny Sapp for them to study.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Brett Favre QB Aaron Rodgers
Adrian Peterson RB Ryan Grant
Chester Taylor RB Brandon Jackson
Sidney Rice WR Donald Driver
Percy Harvin WR Greg Jennings
Visanthe Shiancoe TE Donald Lee
Ryan Longwell K Mason Crosby
Vikings DST Packers
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints
Monday, 8:30 pm, Superdome
Matt Ryan , Roddy White and Michael Turner all had measures of success against the Saints last season, but this is a different defense they'll be going up against. The Falcons will probably find themselves down in the game and forced to pass, and in spite of the Saints' strong pass defense this should be a decent game for Tony Gonzalez . Look for him to benefit the Falcons in two ways: One, he'll draw Darren Sharper in coverage and potentially wipe him away from their other receivers. Two, he's good enough to battle Sharper for catches and yards. Plus the Falcons need him to play well to have a chance at winning. Roddy White should see his team-leading target total improve and have a shot at a good stat line. And because Ryan will have to throw so much, he too might finally crack 230 yards for the second time this year. As for Turner, the Saints will clamp down on him and make it hard for him to improve on his 3.4 rushing average this season; he might score but his yardage won't be eye-popping. Now then, the Saints will see the Falcons' secondary and their eyes will get as big as saucers. Look for Drew Brees to carve up this defense thanks to his speedy receivers. Also look for Jeremy Shockey to be a contributor as well as Reggie Bush (two TDs in his last two against Atlanta), all to help Brees rack up big yardage. The Falcons will not be able to hang with this offense. Mike Bell makes sense as the most useful Saints rusher this week as he's done well in a clock-killing role, though not as well in his goal-line role. Pierre Thomas should also figure in for some reps, but they might come earlier in the game.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Ryan QB Drew Brees
Michael Turner RB Mike Bell
Jason Snelling RB Reggie Bush
Aaron Stecker   RB Pierre Thomas
Roddy White WR Marques Colston
Michael Jenkins WR Devery Henderson
Eric Weems   WR Robert Meachem
Tony Gonzalez TE Jeremy Shockey
Jason Elam K John Carney
Falcons DST Saints
Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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