Winning Fantasy Calls for Week 8
Bye weeks and injuries are leaving a lot of holes in Fantasy lineups as we hit Week 8. Our Dave Richard helps you sort through all of your fringe starting options.
Giants at Eagles, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
I don't think anyone is buying the Eagles defense as a good unit, but you can't take away their effort last week against Dallas, holding Tony Romo to one touchdown while picking him off twice. When these teams met three weeks ago the Eagles picked off Eli Manning three times but also gave up multiple passing scores and over 300 yards passing. Manning didn't look like he solved his passing problems vs. Minnesota on Monday, so the Eagles defense might wind up looking better than their numbers suggest for the second week in a row.
No-brainers: LeSean McCoy , DeSean Jackson
, QB, Giants: My Projection: 18 FPTS
The Giants' first win came in a game where drops worked both ways for Manning. Defenders dropped multiple would-be interceptions while the quarterback overthrew Hakeem Nicks on what should have been a touchdown and should have had another score if not for a Victor Cruz drop. The Eagles are just barely more adept than the Vikings so Manning's errant ways will cost him. There's only so much confidence a Fantasy owner can have in Manning at this point. Only two of the last five Eagles opposing quarterbacks have had 20-plus Fantasy points.
I'd rather start: Carson Palmer , Ben Roethlisberger
, RB, Giants: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Hillis has everything you want in a fullback: size, good hands, good vision. One thing he doesn't have is speed, which makes him a relatively easy matchup for the Eagles. Philly has done well against running backs for three straight weeks, giving up two scores, including a goal-line job last week. Hillis should work his way to a decent yardage total but it might come on the merits of his receiving, not his rushing. Eight of his 18 carries last week came in a clock-killing fourth quarter -- not sure the Giants will be in the same situation here.
Flow chart: Andre Ellington > Roy Helu > Peyton Hillis > Chris Ivory > Pierre Thomas
, WR, Giants: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Rueben Randle , WR, Giants: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Hakeem Nicks , WR, Giants: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Randle doesn't get as many looks as Cruz or Nicks but he's been more productive over the last three weeks. Manning has found him to his liking, so why shouldn't we? The reality is that the matchup is juicy for all three wideouts. The Eagles have allowed 14 touchdowns to receivers this year, five in their last three and two to Randle back in Week 5. Eli was close to having a big game last week if not for a couple of slightly off passes and drops from his receivers. Nicks had nine catches and 142 yards in his last game against Philadelphia, his best game of the year.
I'd start Cruz over: Pierre Garcon , Antonio Brown
I'd start Randle over: Marques Colston , Harry Douglas , Hakeem Nicks
I'd start Nicks over: Danny Amendola , Cecil Shorts
, QB, Eagles: My Projection: 22 FPTS
Expect a nice game here. Vick was on his way to a strong game at the Giants the last time he played when he hurt his hamstring. There still might be some lingering effects of the injury but he promised reporters this week he wouldn't change the way he plays. Before Monday night, the Giants allowed at least 20 Fantasy points per game to the position (Vick had 11 Fantasy points against the Giants in Week 5 before Nick Foles replaced him and delivered 19!). So long as Vick is on target he should do well.
I'd start him over: Robert Griffin III , Tom Brady
49ers vs. Jaguars, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Everyone is expecting the Niners to crush the Jaguars in London. Maybe Jacksonville gets motivated to try some trick plays like they did at Denver a couple of weeks ago, but the reality is that its offensive line should get overpowered for four quarters. That's been part of Chad Henne problem the past two weeks -- a lack of time to set up and throw. Evading the pass rush isn't really Henne's specialty.
No-brainers: Frank Gore , Vernon Davis
, QB, 49ers: My projection: 19 FPTS
The only way Kaepernick doesn't finally get back over the 20-point hump is if he doesn't have to do much to beat Jacksonville. Will he throw two touchdowns? Will he run for over 60 yards? With only a minimal Jaguars pass rush combined with a secondary that just hasn't been great (15 pass touchdowns allowed with only three interceptions), Kaepernick should serve as a good starting option.
Flow chart: Matt Ryan > Colin Kaepernick > Eli Manning > Terrelle Pryor
, WR, 49ers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Boldin has perked up in favorable matchups, disappeared in the tough ones. This one isn't tough. The Jaguars have given up 10 touchdowns to receivers on the year, including at least one in six of seven games.
I'd start him over: Josh Gordon , Mike Wallace
, RB, Jaguars: My Projection: 8 FPTS
When you think 49ers, you think tough run defense. That hasn't necessarily been the case as they've allowed 4.7 yards per carry to running backs in their last three with two total touchdowns. They've also given up 10-plus Fantasy points to each opposing starter in six of seven games. That gives Jones-Drew a chance to be decent even though we saw his workload shrink last week (11 touches). To his credit, he's averaged 4.1 yards per carry in two of his last three, including last week. It's still a difficult spot for him but he should be considered at least serviceable as a low-end No. 2 running back/Flex start.
Flow chart: Darren Sproles > Maurice Jones-Drew > Zac Stacy > Peyton Hillis
, WR, Jaguars: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Cecil Shorts , WR, Jaguars: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The targets were there for both Blackmon and Shorts last week (Shorts continues to get 10-plus targets per game) but both left stats on the field. San Francisco's pass defense is pretty good -- only four receivers have scored and are the only D to have posted 10-plus Fantasy points -- but two of the four came two weeks ago and they allowed nearly another one last week (98 yards for Kendall Wright ). If Jacksonville throws as much as they have been then both receivers have a shot at getting close to the 10-point mark. The worst thing that's happened to these guys is the addition of Mike Brown , who put up 120 yards on five catches and eight targets last week. Brown is a deep sleeper.
I'd start Blackmon over: Denarius Moore , Terrance Williams
I'd start Shorts over: Marvin Jones , Brian Hartline , Steve Johnson
Cowboys at Lions, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
I wouldn't be fooled by the Cowboys defense in their win last week at Philadelphia -- they played a quarterback who looked timid and sailed his passes. The Cowboys pass rush was not good without DeMarcus Ware and if they can't get to Matthew Stafford , they'll get chewed up. Cornerback Brandon Carr deserves credit for staying on DeSean Jackson hip last week but it would be shocking to see him slow down Calvin Johnson the same way.
No-brainers: Dez Bryant ; Matthew Stafford , Reggie Bush , Calvin Johnson
, QB, Cowboys: My Projection: 22 FPTS
Romo hasn't delivered a big Fantasy stat line in a couple of weeks, thanks in large part to a lack of scoring, a drop in completion percentage and a handful of interceptions. Well, Detroit has allowed multiple passing touchdowns in three of their last four, allowing opponents to complete 63 percent of their passes with five total interceptions. There just isn't enough evidence to suggest Romo will struggle, so he should still be counted on as a quality Fantasy passer.
I'd start him over: Tom Brady , Matt Ryan
, RB, Cowboys: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The stats say the Lions have only allowed 3.6 yards per carry to backs over their last three games with no 100-total-yard gainers. But they barely contained Eddie Lacy , got crushed via the pass by Chris Ogbonnaya and did just enough to hold down the Bengals' duo last week. The Cowboys run game probably won't fall completely in Murray's lap but he'll get a good amount of work with potentially Lance Dunbar pitching in on some passing downs.
I'd start him over: Darren McFadden , Giovani Bernard
, WR, Cowboys: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The kid is scoring touchdowns -- one in each of his last three. And last week he saw a bump in targets and catches. Clearly the No. 2 receiver for Dallas, Williams should continue to stay productive against a Lions defense that has allowed a non-No. 1 receiver to score in three of the last four weeks. The Lions have also allowed six touchdowns to receivers in their last four.
I'd start him over: Rueben Randle , Marques Colston
, TE, Cowboys: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Witten has been frustrating. He's had under 70 yards and no touchdowns in five of his last six games. His targets have slipped over the last two games (11 total compared to 10 each in Weeks 4 and 5). And this week he'll play against a defense that has allowed under 70 yards to all but one tight end this year and just gave up the first touchdown to a tight end on a deep pattern last week. He's still good enough to start, but I'm not sure you should have high expectations.
Flow chart: Jordan Reed > Heath Miller > Jason Witten > Jordan Cameron
, WR, Lions: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Dallas has allowed just three scores to receivers over its last five and 11.9 yards per catch to the position in that time. Durham works as a PPR option, averaging around 10 yards per catch over his last three games.
Bye-week WR Flow chart: Stephen Hill > Brandon LaFell > Kris Durham > Kenbrell Thompkins > Mike Brown
, TE, Lions: My Projection: 7 FPTS
I don't mind rolling the dice on Fauria as a bye-week replacement with a chance at seven or more Fantasy points. He saw even more playing time last week (40 pct. of the snaps) and the Lions responded in the days following the game by cutting veteran tight end Tony Scheffler . That makes Fauria the hands-down No. 2 tight end. Last week he had another two end-zone targets, so you kind of get an idea of how the Lions like to use him. Dallas has allowed four touchdowns to tight ends on the year, three from inside the 10-yard line. I think he's worth a gamble.
Bye-week TE Flow chart: Jordan Reed > Joseph Fauria > Charles Clay > Kyle Rudolph
Dolphins at Patriots, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
If Miami is going to have a chance to win this they'll have to take advantage of the Patriots run defense, something the Jets did to just hang around last week. It's clear the Patriots have a weakness up the middle and a back like Daniel Thomas -- not necessarily Lamar Miller -- could be the thing to keep the Dolphins balanced and on the field. One problem is that Miami has just two games this year where the backs have combined for 20-plus carries. They identify more with the pass than the run, so it would be a change in philosophy for them.
No-brainers: Rob Gronkowski
, QB, Dolphins: My Projection: 16 FPTS
While the Patriots have allowed four quarterbacks to get to 20 or more Fantasy points, only two got further than that while three found the end zone twice. Only one passer has had more than 300 yards. With Aqib Talib expected back and Miami having issues getting the ball to Mike Wallace , Tannehill doesn't seem like a good Fantasy option even though he has come close to the 20 Fantasy point mark in each of his last two games.
Bye-week QB Flow chart: Carson Palmer > Ben Roethlisberger > Ryan Tannehill > Geno Smith
, RB, Dolphins: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Lamar Miller , RB, Dolphins: My Projection: 6 FPTS
The Dolphins came out of their bye week splitting the reps between Thomas and Miller after Miller dominated snaps going into the bye. So if the coaching staff isn't going to give the nod to Miller, who is the flashier back, then why should we? It's been the bigger, physical backs that have started to take a toll on the Patriots defense -- the likes of BenJarvus Green-Ellis , Khiry Robinson and Chris Ivory all have totaled at least 10 Fantasy points against New England over the last three weeks.
Flow chart: Zac Stacy > Daniel Thomas > Chris Ivory > Lamar Miller > Willis McGahee
, WR, Dolphins: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Mike Wallace , WR, Dolphins: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Brandon Gibson , WR, Dolphins: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Playing without Talib last week the Patriots yielded 194 yards and a touchdown to Jets receivers, more than they allowed in previous weeks to the Bengals and Saints and the second most on the season. That's the kind of impact Talib can make. His presence should hamper Wallace and force Tannehill to throw underneath to Hartline and Gibson. It's enough to make you stay away from all the Dolphins receivers, but I might try Hartline over Wallace given the Talib factor.
I'd rather start: Anquan Boldin , Cecil Shorts
, TE, Dolphins: My Projection: 6 FPTS
We've been conditioned to believe Clay will continue to score as he has in three straight games and four of his last five. But it's worth noting he had a season-low three targets last week against the Bills. That might have had to do with how Buffalo covered him because he still saw a ton of playing time (82 pct. of snaps). Only Tony Gonzalez has done well against the Patriots this year -- the team has really dropped the hammer on every other tight end they've faced, so there's some concern about a bad game from Clay.
Flow chart: Jason Witten > Joseph Fauria > Charles Clay > Tyler Eifert > Scott Chandler
, QB, Patriots: My Projection: 21 FPTS
This should be the first time Brady gets Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski at the same time. That should go a long way in helping his completion percentage and yards per attempt average. It'll also force the Dolphins to pick their poison in the passing game; they've struggled covering tight ends. Speaking of which, Miami has allowed just one quarterback -- Drew Brees -- to coast past 20 Fantasy points. Brees had way more than that thanks to two scores from Jimmy Graham ; Brady should find similar success going to his tight end.
I'd start him over: Russell Wilson , Matt Ryan
, RB, Patriots: My Projection: 12 FPTS
The matchup is juicy for Ridley, who has scored in consecutive weeks and is back to the primary running back role with the Patriots. Don't confuse that with hurry-up back -- that's a job Brandon Bolden still has some say over -- but it's clear Ridley is out of the proverbial dog house. The Dolphins have allowed a rusher to post a minimum of 13 points in each of their last five. I don't know if Ridley gets that much but at least 40 yards and a touchdown sounds good.
I'd start him over: Alfred Morris , Darren Sproles
, WR, Patriots: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Kenbrell Thompkins , WR, Patriots: My Projection: 5 FPTS
Julian Edelman , WR, Patriots: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Aaron Dobson , WR, Patriots: My Projection: 2 FPTS
It sounds crazy but the only receiver I'd trust on New England is the one who took a wicked hit two weeks ago. If Amendola plays expect him to see a lot of targets -- he's averaged nine per game over three games this season. Brady spoke about spreading the ball around this week after not really doing so last week. For him that could mean leaning on Amendola and Gronkowski, sprinkling work to the other receivers. The Dolphins have been excellent against wideouts, holding the position scoreless through six games.
I'd start Amendola over: Anquan Boldin , Josh Gordon
I'd rather start over the other receivers: Brian Hartline , Golden Tate , Steve Johnson
Bills at Saints, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Buffalo is in a pickle: It needs to run the ball to have a chance to stay close in this game but will either rest C.J. Spiller or use him sparingly. The onus will fall on Fred Jackson (and Tashard Choice ) to keep the Bills offense afloat. I'd expect them to run often and use the deep ball to keep the Saints defense honest. It all makes for a less-than-ideal game plan against a defense that is rested and always better at home than on the road.
No-brainers: Drew Brees , Jimmy Graham (assuming he plays)
, RB, Bills: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Tashard Choice , RB, Bills: My Projection: 4 FPTS
The Saints have allowed 4.6 yards per carry and 10.3 yards per catch to running backs this year, something the Pats picked up on in Week 6 when Stevan Ridley became the fourth running back in six games to post 11-plus Fantasy points against them. One thing I've noticed is Jackson's declining rushing average. In his first four games he averaged a whopping 5.3 yards per carry. In his last three he's sunk to 3.3 yards per carry, though a consistent role in the passing game is helping supplement his numbers. Choice will pick up the snaps Jackson doesn't take.
I'd start Jackson over: Alfred Morris , Darren McFadden
I'd rather start over Choice: Lamar Miller , Kendall Hunter
, WR, Bills: My Projection: 7 FPTS
I like Johnson way better in a PPR league than a standard because of the high-target frequency he should have. The Bills' most targeted wideout, Johnson hasn't scored since Week 2 or had even more than 80 yards since Week 3. He's not quite playing at 100 percent but should still get force fed the football while the Bills play from behind. The Saints have given up three touchdowns to receivers in their two previous games, another glimmer of hope for Johnson.
Flow chart: Brian Hartline > Golden Tate > Steve Johnson > Michael Floyd > Emmanuel Sanders
, RB, Saints: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Pierre Thomas , RB, Saints: My Projection: 7 FPTS
The Bills sport a run defense that's allowed just two touchdowns to backs this season, but they've come within the last three weeks. Drill a little deeper into those weeks and you'll see that Buffalo has allowed 124.3 total yards per game to running backs. Now, take out their Week 4 win vs. Baltimore, where the Ravens' running backs inexplicably totaled 10 touches, and you'll see they allow 151.5 total yards per game to running backs in their other six games. The only catch is that the Saints' run game is not predictable -- Sproles has two games with 10-plus Fantasy points, Thomas has one (a victory in his hometown Chicago). Between the two of them they have three games with over 10 Fantasy points and nine with six points or less! Worse yet, we saw rookie Khiry Robinson as the most productive back in Week 6 at New England. Also, we've seen Lance Moore cost Sproles some work in the past -- his return could dampen Sproles' production. The only saving grace is that the Saints should have a lead in this one, leaving room for these backs to get some chances at some garbage-time work.
Flow chart: Giovani Bernard > Darren Sproles > Maurice Jones-Drew > Peyton Hillis > Pierre Thomas
, WR, Saints: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The bad news is that Colston is sitting on 24 catches on 34 targets for 324 yards and one touchdown. The 5.7 targets per game he's averaged this far pales in comparison to the 8.25 targets he averaged last year. And through six games last year he had 35 catches (60 targets) for 517 yards and five scores. The combination of Jimmy Graham dominant play and other receivers stepping up for the Saints have cost Colston opportunities. One would think a correction would come and a matchup vs. Buffalo could cure ills. The Bills have allowed 12 touchdowns through seven games, including multiple passing touchdowns given up in four of their last five. Colston has four red-zone targets with the one touchdown catch. I'd cautiously start him with No. 2 receiver expectations.
Flow chart: Jarrett Boykin > Terrance Williams > Marques Colston > Josh Gordon > Mike Wallace
Browns at Chiefs, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
I can't stand the matchup for the Browns, who chose to start Jason Campbell in a road game against a very impressive Kansas City defense. I could tell you just how ineffective he's been as a starter, particularly over his last four seasons, but you can guess what the numbers are like. I'd expect the Chiefs to hound Campbell with the blitz while covering Josh Gordon with a single cornerback (likely Brandon Flowers ) and using some sort of linebacker-safety combos on Jordan Cameron . Should make for a long day for the Browns.
No-brainers: Jamaal Charles
, RB, Browns: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Willis McGahee , RB, Browns: My Projection: 3 FPTS
The Chiefs have allowed two total touchdowns, one 100-yard rusher and one fluke pass play to a running back this year. The Browns guys shouldn't be considered anything more than desperation choices.
I'd rather start: Kendall Hunter , BenJarvus Green-Ellis
, WR, Browns: My Projection: 8 FPTS
We have seen three No. 1 receivers have success against the Chiefs: Dez Bryant , Victor Cruz and Denarius Moore . All three had 10-plus targets. Since his Week 3 debut Gordon has had nine targets or less in every game. He has one score and one 100-yard game in his last four. The garbage time factor works in his favor but otherwise I have a hard time trusting him this week.
I'd rather start: Hakeem Nicks , Danny Amendola
, TE, Browns: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Cameron will serve as the Chiefs' toughest challenge at tight end this season, something to remember when you realize just how good they've been against opposing tight ends (zero touchdowns allowed, no tight ends over 43 yards per game). Only two of the tight ends to face Kansas City have four catches, the rest have had fewer. Cameron has more than four in all but one game and should see a lot of work if the game gets out of hand. Maybe he can benefit from some garbage time to land his second game with seven-plus Fantasy points in his last four.
Flow chart: Heath Miller > Jordan Cameron > Kyle Rudolph > Greg Olsen
, QB, Chiefs: My Projection: 16 FPTS
The wheels have come off the Browns defense as they've allowed seven passing touchdowns in their last two games, but it came against the Lions and Packers, two really good passing offenses. Smith hasn't thrown a touchdown in three straight games! He ran for one last week. Once a promising bye-week replacement, Smith is simply managing the Chiefs to modest wins.
I'd rather start: Ryan Tannehill , Terrelle Pryor
, WR, Chiefs: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Congrats to Bowe, who caught five passes last week for 66 yards, both season-bests. When the Chiefs encounter a team they'll have to pass against then Bowe could come into play as a potential starting option. Until then it's tough to trust him, especially since he could see a lot of cornerback Joe Haden on Sunday.
I'd rather start: Kenbrell Thompkins , Cole Beasley
Steelers at Raiders, Sun., 4:05 p.m. ET
Back in Week 6 the Chiefs exposed the Raiders' sub par offensive line (especially after losing some talent) and Terrelle Pryor became jittery and turnover prone. You can count on the Steelers to do the exact same thing: Come after Pryor with a heavy blitz leaving a single-high safety to help the defensive backs in man coverage. We saw a lot of that last week against the Ravens and it worked. The Raiders' best chance would be for Pryor to evade the pass rush and connect on longer plays to Denarius Moore , who is tough to keep up with.
, QB, Steelers: My Projection: 18 FPTS
With only one game this year with more than one touchdown, Big Ben seems tough to trust. To be fair, his early-season schedule has not been favorable for him or his offensive line. His completion percentage is great and he's well on his way to exceeding last season's 20- and 40-yard pass numbers, so it's not like he's having a bad year. Only three quarterbacks have thrown multiple touchdowns against Oakland this season (22 or more Fantasy points each). If he was capable of throwing more touchdowns he'd be a beast. Put him in the pile of quarterbacks you'd consider for bye-week use.
Flow chart: Colin Kaepernick > Carson Palmer > Ben Roethlisberger > Eli Manning
, RB, Steelers: My Projection: 13 FPTS
I'd expect Bell to continue his hefty workload (at least 16 carries per game). In their last four the Raiders have allowed four touchdowns to running backs and 145.3 total yards per game. A rusher in each of those games has posted 10 or more Fantasy points as well. I'd count on him this week.
I'd start him over: Fred Jackson , Darren Sproles
, WR, Steelers: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Emmanuel Sanders , WR, Steelers: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Of the eight receivers who have had at least eight targets in a game this year against Oakland, seven have posted at least nine Fantasy points. Brown has had over eight targets in four of six games (seven in the other two) and Sanders has had eight-plus targets in four of six games (six or less in the other two). It should bode well for them -- the Raiders are yielding 184.5 yards per game to receivers alone. Six wideouts have delivered 11-plus Fantasy points on the Raiders.
I'd start Brown over: Marques Colston , Rueben Randle
I'd start Sanders over: Kenbrell Thompkins , Riley Cooper
, TE, Steelers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Miller's been in a tight range of 5-8 Fantasy points per week in standard leagues (7 to 14 in PPR). That's enough to make him respectable for now. The Raiders have improved vs. tight ends after struggling early on but have allowed 7-9seven-to-nine Fantasy points to the position in four of their last six games.
I'd start him over: Jason Witten , Jordan Cameron
, QB, Raiders: My Projection: 16 FPTS
Pryor was somewhat exposed in his last game, meaning that the Raiders have to make protecting him a priority against an aggressive and improving Steelers defense. It might not matter, as the Steelers have held all but one quarterback to a touchdown or less and under 20 Fantasy points this season. The Steelers did a great job on Geno Smith a couple of weeks ago and should be able to corral Pryor.
I'd rather start: Carson Palmer , Eli Manning
, RB, Raiders: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Last year everyone was scared to start McFadden vs. Pittsburgh and he had a first-quarter touchdown run of 64 yards and finished with his best game of the season. The Steelers' run defense looked more like a college unit before their bye -- since then they've allowed an average of 106.0 total yards per game and 3.5 yards per carry to the Jets and Ravens running backs with no touchdowns. McFadden totaled over 80 yards last week at Kansas City (whose run defense is plenty tough) and should be expected to do at least that well against Pittsburgh.
Flow chart: DeMarco Murray > Darren McFadden > Steven Jackson > Maurice Jones-Drew
, WR, Raiders: My Projection: 10 FPTS
This shouldn't be that tough of a call: Moore has 10-plus Fantasy points in four of five starts with Pryor this year, including a nice game against the Chiefs. Only three times has a receiver scored on the Steelers through six games with only one 100-yard effort. Competent speed receivers like A.J. Green and Torrey Smith have been halted by the Steelers while the likes of Earl Bennett , Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson have either scored of totaled over 100 yards against them. I'd bet on the chemistry between Pryor and Moore rather than a full four-quarter hawk job by the Steelers secondary.
I'd start him over: Marques Colston , Harry Douglas
Jets at Bengals, Sun., 4:05 p.m. ET
Remember last year when Andy Dalton had those hot streaks of massive Fantasy points? They were helped along by secondary receivers becoming regulars in the end zone. That's what we've seen from Marvin Jones the past two weeks ( Tyler Eifert too in the case of last week). Dalton has to keep discovering receivers in addition to (not instead of) A.J. Green in order for his Fantasy fortunes to be great. The Jets' secondary is still considered shaky despite their efficiency last week against an off-target Tom Brady , so don't count out Dalton as a good option again in Week 8.
No-brainers: A.J. Green
, QB, Jets: My Projection: 14 FPTS
Smith was able to extend plays and throw long on a Patriots defense missing several starters. No such luck for him this week against the Bengals. Cincy has allowed three of the last four quarterbacks to tally 22-plus Fantasy points thanks to multiple touchdowns, and they'll be without top cornerback Leon Hall . Smith hasn't posted good games consecutively this season but can throw a good deep ball, which is something the Bengals haven't quite been consistent against. It would take some guts (or some desperation) to go with Smith.
I'd rather start: Alex Smith , Ryan Tannehill
, RB, Jets: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Bilal Powell , RB, Jets: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Here's what we know: Last week the Jets claim they went with the hot hand with Ivory but after reviewing the game I didn't see Powell on the field after the middle of the third quarter. Maybe he was hampered with an injury but he hasn't been on the team's practice reports this week. I suspect we'll see more of a two-headed monster with the Jets going forward -- Rex Ryan spoke highly of Ivory's physical rushing style this week. Too bad the matchup is tough -- Cincy hasn't allowed a touchdown to a running back in its last three games and only Reggie Bush has done enough work to total over 90 yards in their last four.
I'd start Ivory over: Pierre Thomas , Lamar Miller
I'd start Powell over: C.J. Spiller , Joique Bell
, WR, Jets: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Stephen Hill , WR, Jets: My Projection: 7 FPTS
I like Kerley as a steady PPR-type of receiver and Hill as a boom-or-bust choice. Cincinnati's secondary has been shaky with three touchdowns and 173.0 yards per game allowed to receivers over the last two weeks -- and now they've lost top cornerback Leon Hall for the season. I'm not sure how much the Jets' ground game will get done in this matchup so expect a lot of shot plays -- they had nine last week, connecting on two -- in an attempt to mimic what the Lions did in Week 7.
I'd start Kerley over: Josh Gordon , Cecil Shorts
I'd start Hill over: Kris Durham , Emmanuel Sanders
, QB, Bengals: My Projection: 20 FPTS
Dalton has been playing great, spreading the ball around and shaking up defenses with deep passes to Green among others. Over the last two weeks Dalton has completed 50 of 74 passes for a ridiculous 709 yards and six touchdowns with one interception. That's going to be a lot for the Jets' secondary to handle. True, they did a nice job against the Patriots last week but they allowed three of the previous four quarterbacks to post strong games. So long as Dalton's receiving corps remains in tact he should be fine -- and he should have to end up throwing since the run game might struggle.
I'd start him over: Colin Kaepernick , Matt Ryan
, RB, Bengals: My Projection: 9 FPTS
BenJarvus Green-Ellis , RB, Bengals: My Projection: 4 FPTS
So are the Jets tough against the run or not? They've allowed 3.3 yards per carry to running backs over their last three games but they've also given up four touchdowns to backs in that span. If the Bengals build a lead you should count on the rushers totaling over 30 carries (Green-Ellis has had more carries in three straight but Bernard has worked as a receiver way more).
I'd start Bernard over: DeAngelo Williams , Maurice Jones-Drew , Jacquizz Rodgers
I'd start Green-Ellis over: Bilal Powell , C.J. Spiller
, WR, Bengals: My Projection: 8 FPTS
If he's healthy, Jones will go for a touchdown in his third straight. He's been an impressive part of the Bengals receiving corps over the last couple of weeks and is a major reason why Dalton has become an appealing Fantasy choice. The Jets haven't been bad against receivers -- six touchdowns have been allowed, more than half from non-No. 1 options.
Flow chart: Jeremy Kerley > Marvin Jones > Brian Hartline > Golden Tate
, TE, Bengals: My Projection: 5 FPTS
I was a big fan of his coming into the year and it was nice to see him finally score last week. And while we did see the Jets struggle to contain Rob Gronkowski last week, there's no guarantee the Bengals will attack the same way and even if they did, they have another tight end, Jermaine Gresham , who plays more snaps and even has a slight season-long edge in targets over Eifert.
Flow chart: Greg Olsen > Tyler Eifert > Rob Housler > Jared Cook
Falcons at Cardinals, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
We're going to find out whether or not last week's resounding win by the Falcons was because of their offense or the Bucs defense. The Cardinals have mixed their coverages but still haven't found an answer for covering tight ends -- guys like Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis have crushed the Cardinals and this week Tony Gonzalez should too.
No-brainers: Tony Gonzalez
, QB, Falcons: My Projection: 20 FPTS
Ryan was awesome last week -- he wasn't touched up much in the pocket and was accurate to his receivers while making very good use out of his running backs. The Cardinals have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in five of seven games this year and should be susceptible here. It's enough to count on Ryan's track record.
I'd start him over: Colin Kaepernick , Terrelle Pryor
, RB, Falcons: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Jacquizz Rodgers , RB, Falcons: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Expect Jackson to handle the running downs and goal line work with Rodgers spelling him while taking passing downs and perhaps the hurry-up offense. Quizz's effectiveness in the four games without Jackson was very impressive -- he had at least 50 total yards per game with multiple scores in each of his last two. Arizona's run defense has gone from tough to tepid in its last two games against physical running teams, allowing a touchdown on the ground in each with an average of 114.0 rush yards to running backs per game. I'd expect the Falcons to come in under there but still run effectively.
Flow chart: DeMarco Murray > Steven Jackson > Roy Helu > Jacquizz Rodgers > Dolphins RBs
, WR, Falcons: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Douglas had a couple of outstanding plays last week against the Bucs but they came against weak cornerbacks. This week he could draw a lot of Patrick Peterson , which would be a major problem for him. I'd still count on Douglas as a low-end No. 2 receiver if only because of the targets he'll get.
I'd start him over: Danny Amendola , Josh Gordon
, QB, Cardinals: My Projection: 18 FPTS
I like Palmer as a bye-week replacement. Every quarterback to play the Falcons has thrown at least two touchdowns and all but one has posted 21-plus Fantasy points. This is a list that includes Sam Bradford , Geno Smith and Mike Glennon last week. Because it will be hard for the Falcons to get to Palmer on a regular basis, he finally has a matchup where he should be able to drop back, scan the field, find an open man and deliver the ball where it needs to be.
Bye-week QB flow chart: Andy Dalton > Colin Kaepernick > Carson Palmer > Eli Manning > Alex Smith
, RB, Cardinals: My Projection: 7 FPTS
The Falcons continue to be tough on opposing running backs -- only two have topped 10 Fantasy points all year. I'd expect the Cardinals to give up on the run rather early and go toward a pass-oriented approach, a move that would especially benefit Ellington. The rookie was a disappointment last week but with versatile running backs totaling 75 yards in three of six games against the Falcons, he should be penciled in for about that much.
Ellington flow chart: Darren Sproles > Andre Ellington > Peyton Hillis > Jacquizz Rodgers
, WR, Cardinals: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Michael Floyd , WR, Cardinals: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Fitzgerald should be in better shape this week compared to last week. The matchup is very nice -- the Falcons have allowed at least one touchdown per week to a wideout but they've given up nine 10-plus-point Fantasy games to them. That includes at least one per week! Fitzgerald is the top candidate to cash in with Floyd a dark horse.
I'd start Fitzgerald over: Justin Blackmon , Denarius Moore
I'd start Floyd over: Stephen Hill , Kris Durham
Redskins at Broncos, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
If the Redskins have a chance, it's with their pass rushers getting close to Peyton Manning . Last week we saw Robert Mathis rough up Manning and this week it could come down to how often Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan get in his face. If they can consistently bring the heat it could make Manning's passes a little more wobbly than normal and potentially force a turnover or two. Obviously, if the pass rush can't beat Peyton then the secondary will look really bad.
No-brainers: Peyton Manning , Knowshon Moreno , Demaryius Thomas , Wes Welker , Julius Thomas
Robert Griffin III
, QB, Redskins: My Projection: 21 FPTS
He's back. We've seen his rushing production return to form and his passing numbers are on the rise thanks to help from tight end Jordan Reed and running back Roy Helu . All but two quarterbacks have attempted at least 36 passes against the Broncos, all but two have thrown for 300 yards and all but two have finished with 21-plus Fantasy points. Here's a perk: Terrelle Pryor , Michael Vick and Andrew Luck have each supplemented their stats with rushing numbers. I'd expect a John Fox-coached team to be sound against running quarterbacks but Griffin has averaged over 80 rush yards per game since the bye. He poses quite a challenge for Denver.
I'd start him over: Tom Brady , Matt Ryan
, RB, Redskins: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Roy Helu , RB, Redskins: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Helu has taken over the passing downs work and is on the field anytime the Redskins use their hurry-up offense. He's had a nice chunk of work and he's been productive, posting at least seven Fantasy points in each of his last three (10-plus in two of those three). The Redskins do not hesitate to use Helu at the goal line either, a big factor considering that has been Morris' territory in the past. I'd expect to see plenty of Morris in the early going in the game -- the better Griffin runs, the more wiggle room Morris will have. Morris has posted at least seven Fantasy points in every game this year but just three with 10-plus. The Broncos have given up a touchdown on the ground to a running back in all but one game this year and five backs have topped 10-plus points. I'm a little nervous to expect a lot from Morris because of Helu's newfound role, especially since the Redskins will likely play from behind and have to throw a lot in the fourth quarter.
I'd start Morris over: Darren McFadden , Giovani Bernard
I'd start Helu over: Jacquizz Rodgers , Zac Stacy
, WR, Redskins: My Projection: 10 FPTS
In the Broncos last three games receivers have scored five times and produced 10-plus Fantasy points five times. At least one opposing receiver has scored 10 or more Fantasy points in every game against Denver this season. Garcon's been mostly disappointing this year but this game should be good for him.
I'd start him over: Denarius Moore , Antonio Brown
, TE, Redskins: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The breakout came last week and should continue in Week 8. Denver has begun to crack against tight ends, allowing a touchdown to them in two of its last three. And if you're looking for a minimum expectation, every tight end to catch five passes vs. the Broncos has had at least seven Fantasy points. Reed has five catches in three of five games.
I'd start him over: Heath Miller , Jason Witten
, WR, Broncos: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Washington's metrics against receivers have improved. The Redskins allowed just one touchdown to a receiver and one 100-yard game over their last three after getting destroyed in their first three. This is a really big test for the Redskins secondary -- a big guy like Decker should win a lot of jump balls over the Redskins' smaller corners. If only Decker were more consistent -- he hasn't posted back-to-back games with nine or more points this year. He'll have a chance to this week.
I'd start him over: Pierre Garcon , Jarrett Boykin , Marques Colston
Packers at Vikings, Sun., 8:30 p.m. ET
I'd expect the Vikings to go back to Adrian Peterson in a big way in this game. They absolutely cannot afford to have their quarterback, regardless of who it is, throw 53 times. Peterson's recent track record against the Packers is pretty solid and while you never want to assume anything, the Vikings coaches might be under a giant heat lamp if they give Peterson less than 20 touches for a third straight game.
No-brainers: Aaron Rodgers , Eddie Lacy , Jordy Nelson ; Adrian Peterson
, WR, Packers: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Boykin's production really got going last week once Jermichael Finley got hurt. The reality is that playing a lot in the Packers offense is going to lead to numbers. It's actually been non-No. 1 receivers posting 10-plus Fantasy points against the Vikings in their last three. In this game we should see a lot from both Nelson and Boykin since the Vikings are limping along defensively.
I'd start him over: Rueben Randle , Mike Wallace
, WR, Vikings: My Projection: 5 FPTS
I know we're supposed to like Jennings because he's taking on his former team and will be motivated to put up some numbers, but it's tough. The Packers have improved against No. 1 receivers -- since Week 2 the top receiver for every Packers opponent has posted 10 Fantasy points or less. Jennings' best game came with Matt Cassel under center. Everything else has been pretty weak.
I'd rather start: Rod Streater , Mike Brown
, TE, Vikings: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Last week was disappointing, but at least we saw a lot of targets head Rudolph's way for the second game in a row. Is it enough to consider Rudolph a decent Fantasy option? I think it is, especially since Christian Ponder is back under center and he and Rudolph have some chemistry. The Packers have allowed a touchdown to a tight end in two straight and at least 55 yards to a tight end in three straight.
Flow chart: Joseph Fauria > Charles Clay > Kyle Rudolph > Greg Olsen > Tyler Eifert
Seahawks at Rams, Mon., 8:40 p.m. ET
I'd expect the Seahawks to keep things simple on both sides of the ball. Lean on Marshawn Lynch and let Russell Wilson make plays when available. It could be often as the Rams defense hasn't been very strong the past few weeks and Wilson has rediscovered his groove after a slow start. The Rams shouldn't play conservatively but probably will given the change at quarterback. Kellen Clemens has been in the league since 2006 and has never thrown multiple touchdowns in the same game, nor has he ever thrown for more than 286 yards. It could mean a heavy dose of Zac Stacy .
No-brainer: Marshawn Lynch
, QB, Seahawks: My Projection: 21 FPTS
The Rams have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in five games this year but none in their last two. One was against Houston (Matt Schaub got hurt), one was at Carolina (Cam Newton only needed to throw 17 passes). What happened to Newton could happen to Wilson, making him a little risky. Wilson also hasn't put up big games in back-to-back weeks. But in easy matchups earlier this year we've seen Wilson throttle the Jaguars and Cardinals for huge Fantasy weeks. He has underwhelmed in challenging matchups (at Carolina, vs. San Francisco, at Houston, vs. Tennessee -- all Top 10 in Fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks; the Rams are 16th).
I'd start him over: Andy Dalton , Matt Ryan
, WR, Seahawks: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Every No. 1 receiver against the Rams has posted at least eight Fantasy points, with six of seven gaining 12 or more Fantasy points. Tate plays more than any receiver in Seattle, leads the team in receptions and is the Seahawks' most targeted receiver. So if you were to follow the Rams trend he'd be the one to bank on.
I'd start him over: Steve Johnson , Michael Floyd
, RB, Rams: My Projection: 8 FPTS
There's a case to be made for Stacy. The Seahawks have not been as proficient against running backs on the road as they have been at home, giving up 118.0 total yards in those four road games (3.8 yards per carry) to the position. Seattle has also allowed three touchdowns to running backs in those four games, more than the two they've allowed in three home games. Stacy has seen his production rise over his last three games and might end up being the biggest part of the Rams offense now that Sam Bradford is out of the mix. I don't mind having modest expectations for Stacy, maybe 80 total yards.
Flow chart: Darren Sproles > Roy Helu > Zac Stacy > Jets RBs > Pierre Thomas
Panthers at Buccaneers, Thu., 8:30 p.m. ET
This should be a tough challenge for Mike Glennon as the Panthers defensive front will come after him all game long. It's been that group that has made the rest of the defense look great. If the Falcons' mediocre pass rush could get to Glennon three times, the Panthers should have at least as many sacks as they had vs. the Rams last week (four).
, QB, Buccaneers: My Projection: 15 FPTS
Glennon has put up 21 and 22 Fantasy points in his last two games but they came against bad defenses with mediocre track records. This game could make Glennon look mediocre thanks to a defense with an excellent track record. The Panthers haven't given up more than 16 Fantasy points to a quarterback this year. Carolina has picked off two-plus passes in three of their last four and nine total on the year. If you haven't had the guts to start Glennon yet, don't start now.
I'd rather start: Ryan Tannehill , Alex Smith
, RB, Buccaneers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
James is a physical back with good hands and okay speed. He reminds me of Pierre Thomas , maybe a bit faster. But if Doug Martin wasn't posting great games behind this offensive line then I don't like James' chances to do anything more than be a volume back (which isn't a bad thing). Last week Zac Stacy had enough work to total 87 yards and a touchdown, the most recent of four straight running backs to tally at least 15 touches and post 10-plus Fantasy points on the Panthers. I think James should be effective, but maybe without the score. Carolina has allowed three touchdowns total to running backs, none in consecutive weeks.
No. 2 RB Flow chart: DeAngelo Williams > Maurice Jones-Drew > Mike James > Zac Stacy > Peyton Hillis
, WR, Buccaneers: My Projection: 12 FPTS
Jackson has been Glennon's lifeblood, catching two touchdowns in each of the Bucs' last two games. The Panthers will undoubtedly notice and try to force Glennon to go in another direction. Carolina has allowed just two scores to receivers all year, none since Week 2. You'll start Jackson because he has the potential for a big game, especially with a ton of targets earmarked for him each week, but I wouldn't count on a two-score game.
I'd start him over: Victor Cruz , Justin Blackmon
, WR, Buccaneers: My Projection: 5 FPTS
Timothy Wright , TE, Buccaneers: My Projection: 4 FPTS
While Jackson has carried much of the passing game, Williams has struggled while Wright took a step back last week. Williams had five targets after a one-game layoff but still played a ton. Wright had almost as many reps as fellow tight end Tom Crabtree and his targets sunk. Neither player should be trusted.
I'd rather start: Kenbrell Thompkins , Riley Cooper ; Tyler Eifert , Rob Housler
, QB, Panthers: My Projection: 21 FPTS
Newton continued his very hot play last week (he missed on two passes) but was efficient, not prolific for Fantasy owners. Tampa Bay has allowed three-touchdown games to Nick Foles and Matt Ryan in consecutive weeks and have become a defensive pushover. A banged-up and predictable secondary mixed with a defensive line that just isn't putting pressure on quarterbacks should make for another easy matchup for Newton. He's a bit of a risk because the game comes so quickly after the last but it's hard to sit him down.
I'd start him over: Russell Wilson , Matt Ryan
, RB, Panthers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Mike Tolbert , RB, Panthers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Expect a lot of running from the Panthers running backs. Last week Williams wound up sharing with Tolbert in a blowout win over St. Louis. Tolbert has scored four touchdowns in his last four including at least one in three of them. Tampa Bay still has yet to allow a rush touchdown to an opposing running back but has given up 140.0 total yards per game to backs over their last four. The defense is cracking and the Panthers should do a lot of running on a short week.
I'd start Williams over: Maurice Jones-Drew , Roy Helu
I'd start Tolbert over: Pierre Thomas , Lamar Miller
, WR, Panthers: My Projection: 11 FPTS
There's a serious temptation to start Smith after he scored in consecutive games (he should have made it three in a row but he dropped a touchdown at Arizona). Don't fight the urge -- the Bucs have struggled with the deep ball the past couple of weeks and have allowed the best starting outside receiver to collect a minimum of 12 Fantasy points in each of their last four.
I'd start him over: Eric Decker , Denarius Moore , Antonio Brown
, TE, Panthers: My Projection: 5 FPTS
Olsen's been mired in a slump and hasn't been productive. The Bucs defense struggled in many ways last week but managed to still contain Tony Gonzalez . In fact no tight end has posted any better than three Fantasy points against them over the Bucs' last four. It's a risk to go with Olsen.
I'd rather start: Joseph Fauria , Charles Clay
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