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. You should be able to compare the ratings for the players on your team and make an educated pick on who should start -- and sit -- in your lineup .

Bills at Chiefs - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. | Fantasy Preview
Let's be honest here: If the Bills had upended the Ravens or had a couple of wins, or if Ryan Fitzpatrick opened the season as Buffalo's starting quarterback, would you have reservations about starting him? What about his receivers? Did you know that Fitzpatrick has as many touchdowns as Kyle Orton with three fewer starts? He has more than Joe Flacco and Eli Manning . And he has fewer interceptions than Drew Brees , Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers . The guy has been putting the ball up on average 32 times per game over his last four and that's not going to change here or ever as long as the Bills can't run effectively. Kansas City's secondary is good, but so was Baltimore's last week and Fitzpatrick torched them. Starting him isn't nearly as risky as you think, though you'd kick yourself if you gave him a shot on the week he couldn't connect with his receivers, and this defense did exactly that to Peyton Manning in Indianapolis three weeks ago. Meanwhile, Kansas City's offense should continue to run very well as it did last week. Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles each have a shot to score and put up more yardage, and Dwayne Bowe should be able to work his way into the end zone again, though his matchup is a little tougher than last week's. Still, he and Matt Cassel should be effective, but the running game will likely lead the way.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Ryan Fitzpatrick QB Matt Cassel
Fred Jackson RB Thomas Jones
C.J. Spiller RB Jamaal Charles
Lee Evans WR Dwayne Bowe
Steve Johnson WR Dexter McCluster
Shawn Nelson TE Tony Moeaki
Rian Lindell K Ryan Succop
Bills DST Chiefs
Panthers at Rams - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. | Fantasy Preview
The Panthers have a shot here without DeAngelo Williams . The vaunted D-line for the Rams that has played a big role in their run defense has gotten thin quickly with Fred Robbins nursing a toe injury, James Laurinaitis dealing with a knee injury, Clifton Ryan going on injured reserve and backup Darell Scott banged up with an ankle. That's a winnable matchup for Jonathan Stewart and the Panthers' offensive line, and it could open up their run game and the play-action deep ball to Steve Smith , who has scored in every single game of his career except one in '01 against the Rams on either offense or special teams. Smith should be especially effective because the Rams' cornerbacks are just as hurt as the defensive line, and David Gettis eight-catch, 125-yard, two-touchdown performance will force St. Louis to pay attention to him, too. Matt Moore could be strong but still too risky to trust in Fantasy. The Rams should come after the Panthers with a big dose of Steven Jackson -- who else? -- and he should do well. The Panthers' secondary has tightened up over the last four weeks and should match up just fine with Sam Bradford receiving corps, limiting them all. With that area on lockdown and Jackson likely to max out at 25 touches or so because of his surgically repaired finger, the Panthers could come out of this one with a win.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Moore QB Sam Bradford
Jonathan Stewart RB Steven Jackson
Mike Goodson RB Kenneth Darby
Steve Smith WR Danny Amendola
David Gettis WR Laurent Robinson
Dante Rosario   TE Michael Hoomanawanui
John Kasay K Josh Brown
Panthers DST Rams
Jaguars at Cowboys - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. | Fantasy Preview
Jacksonville might be encouraged after seeing the Cowboys get lit up by the Giants, but they don't have anywhere close to the same offense and will struggle. Maurice Jones-Drew had his best game on the season as a receiver last week, but it came with Todd Bouman at quarterback. David Garrard shouldn't have anywhere near the amount of success Eli Manning had against Dallas, and Jones-Drew is really the only weapon that Fantasy owners can trust with confidence. Dallas will know that he's coming, but then again Dallas has known the opponents' strengths for weeks and been picked apart. Jon Kitna takes over for the injured Tony Romo , which could lead to less passing and more running at first for the Cowboys. In this matchup they should be able to do whatever they want as Jacksonville has been very suspect against the run (three TDs last week to the Chiefs). Felix Jones and Marion Barber should be given chances to run early in the game; if they can't do it then Kitna will throw to his myriad of weapons to put up points, but if they can then Kitna might not throw a ton. Know this: the Jaguars have allowed at least 26 points in each of their last six games, and that should become seven given the talent in Dallas. That's what makes Kitna appealing, especially as a quick-fix replacement for Romo.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
David Garrard QB Jon Kitna
Maurice Jones-Drew RB Felix Jones
Deji Karim   RB Marion Barber
Mike Sims-Walker WR Miles Austin
Mike Thomas WR Dez Bryant
Tiquan Underwood   WR Roy E. Williams
Marcedes Lewis TE Jason Witten
Josh Scobee K David Buehler
Jaguars DST Cowboys
Redskins at Lions - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. | Fantasy Preview
Great matchup here for Donovan McNabb -- if he can take advantage. That's been the problem; McNabb has one touchdown per week since Week 2 and two straight games with two interceptions. But with Anthony Armstrong improving, Santana Moss still elusive and Chris Cooley getting over a concussion from two weeks ago, there's plenty of room for the Redskins to attack through the air against a secondary that has improved slightly but is still suspect. The Lions have held one opposing passer, Sam Bradford , to a completion percentage under 60 percent this year. That spells success for a West Coast offense like Washington. Ryan Torain should also see plenty of work -- he has two straight games with over 100 yards and the Lions have allowed a 100-yard rusher in three of their last four. Do not let DeAngelo Hall four interception game last week suggest that the Redskins' pass defense is good, because it isn't. Every passer against Washington has had at least 235 yards and five have passed 275 yards. Washington bends and doesn't break against the pass, but the Lions have so many legit receiving threats that dwarf the Redskins -- like Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew -- that it's going to be difficult for the Redskins to contain them all. That's a big plus for Matthew Stafford , who is making his first start since Week 1. He's had the benefit of seeing how potent this offense could be through Shaun Hill , and now he gets his shot.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Donovan McNabb QB Matthew Stafford
Ryan Torain RB Jahvid Best
Keiland Williams   RB Kevin Smith
Santana Moss WR Calvin Johnson
Anthony Armstrong WR Nate Burleson
Chris Cooley TE Brandon Pettigrew
Graham Gano K Jason Hanson
Redskins DST Lions
Dolphins at Bengals - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. | Fantasy Preview
It's been a while since we've seen Miami run effectively, but they'll have a chance to do that here. The Bengals have given up over 100 rush yards in all but one game this year and have given up a rush score in each of their last four (two last week). They're vulnerable there and Miami can keep the Bengals' passing offense off the field with a lot of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams . The hunch here is that Brown's load is limited as it's been most of the season, giving Williams the better shot at scoring. But the Cincy secondary has holes too, and after Matt Ryan connected with Roddy White over and over again on Leon Hall -- who joins fellow starter Johnathan Joseph as questionable for the game -- Miami might not pass up a chance to do the same with Brandon Marshall . If the Dolphins can put points on the board, the Bengals will have to lean on Carson Palmer more than Cedric Benson . That's a likely scenario if only because the Dolphins' run defense has tightened up since their bye week -- just ask Rashard Mendenhall . Miami's secondary is a bigger weakness and the Bengals are sure to attack Sean Smith , who's starting opposite Vontae Davis . Ultimately both Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens should get some good numbers, and with Jermaine Gresham providing a big red-zone target and Jordan Shipley giving the offense a spark last week, there's no excuse for Carson Palmer not to deliver some nice stats so long as his O-line keeps him clean.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Chad Henne QB Carson Palmer
Ricky Williams RB Cedric Benson
Ronnie Brown RB Bernard Scott
Brandon Marshall WR Chad Johnson
Davone Bess WR Terrell Owens
Brian Hartline   WR Jordan Shipley
Anthony Fasano TE Jermaine Gresham
Dan Carpenter K Mike Nugent
Dolphins DST Bengals
Broncos at 49ers - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. | Fantasy Preview
Believe it or not, the first thing I don't like about the Broncos is that they're flying into London far later than the 49ers, who flew in last Sunday night. Getting acclimated could be an issue for the Broncos, especially once they get into the second half of the game against a physical 49ers team. With Knowshon Moreno hamstring acting up and the Niners' run defense pretty good to begin with, expect Kyle Orton to throw a bunch against San Fran's undisciplined secondary. Brandon Lloyd should resurface and there's room for Demaryius Thomas to reel in a touchdown too as a matchup nightmare. San Francisco turns to Troy Smith at quarterback, which effectively means they're turning to Frank Gore to carry the offense. This isn't to say that Smith won't pass, because he will; he might have to. But he's far from accurate and could end up leading more of a ball-control type of offense like the Broncos, minus the really deep ball. Vernon Davis will end up being the guy Smith leans on, leaving the odds of Michael Crabtree playing big looking rather slim.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Kyle Orton QB Troy Smith
Knowshon Moreno RB Frank Gore
Correll Buckhalter RB Anthony Dixon
Brandon Lloyd WR Michael Crabtree
Jabar Gaffney WR Josh Morgan
Demaryius Thomas WR Dominique Zeigler
Daniel Graham   TE Vernon Davis
Matt Prater K Joe Nedney
Broncos DST 49ers
Packers at Jets - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. | Fantasy Preview
The Packers are already one-dimensional heading into this game -- never a good thing. The Jets are rested and boasting a pretty good run defense, so expect Aaron Rodgers to get the bulk of the workload thrust on his shoulders. That could mean 40-plus pass attempts for the Pack, typically a really good thing, but maybe there's a chance of a letdown since the Jets' secondary is at full strength and the Packers are missing their top tight end and might have a hobbled Donald Driver . Still, that's where the Packers will go unless Brandon Jackson can morph into Dorsey Levens. Meanwhile the Packers' defense continues to lose talented players and is ripe for a big breakdown here. Expect balance from the Jets with maybe an emphasis on LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene . Fresh and ready to contend in the AFC, the Jets' O-line could see the walking wounded of the Packers' front seven and try to grind them down. When passing, the Jets could open things up with a three-receiver set and make the Packers sweat a little; Charles Woodson has not played great this year and he'll likely see a lot of Braylon Edwards . Also look for Dustin Keller to open up the passing game as good tight ends (and even average ones) have thrived against the Packers.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Aaron Rodgers QB Mark Sanchez
Brandon Jackson RB LaDainian Tomlinson
John Kuhn   RB Shonn Greene
Greg Jennings WR Braylon Edwards
James Jones WR Santonio Holmes
Donald Driver WR Brad Smith
Andrew Quarless   TE Dustin Keller
Mason Crosby K Nick Folk
Packers DST Jets
Titans at Chargers - Sunday, 4:05 p.m. | Fantasy Preview
Vince Young was thoroughly outplayed against the Chargers in their Christmas Day meeting last year, and the Titans defense got run over for four rushing touchdowns. Expect the Titans to continue leaning on Chris Johnson while picking their spots to connect downfield. Kenny Britt might pay off more as a decoy fresh off of his three-touchdown game because the Chargers could find themselves tilting coverage toward him and giving single coverage to Nate Washington and even letting tight end Bo Scaife roam free. San Diego has been allowing tight ends to score each week, so Scaife isn't a bad sleeper. The Chargers haven't been able to get their running game going much, and the Titans have been great against most opposing rushers this year. Surprise, surprise, Philip Rivers will end up putting the ball up. If he was able to get over 325 yards last week, he should be able to do it again here; Antonio Gates is probably a little bit healthier, Legedu Naanee will help take an undrafted rookie off of the field, and Darren Sproles should continue to be a contributor through the air (he had two of the four rush TDs against the Titans last season).
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Vince Young QB Philip Rivers
Chris Johnson RB Ryan Mathews
Javon Ringer   RB Darren Sproles
Kenny Britt WR Buster Davis
Nate Washington WR Patrick Crayton
Bo Scaife TE Antonio Gates
Rob Bironas K Kris Brown
Titans DST Chargers
Seahawks at Raiders - Sunday, 4:15 p.m. | Fantasy Preview
The Seahawks will likely stay with what's working: Balance with many people splitting the workload. Deon Butler is fairly appealing this week so long as he stays away from Nnamdi Asomugha , but Mike Williams is the Seahawks' best receiver given the overload of targets he's had from Matt Hasselbeck over the last few weeks. Also, Marshawn Lynch has improved their run attack and gets a nice matchup here. Oakland has given up nine total touchdowns to opposing running backs through seven weeks. The only catch is that the Raiders' D-line has been playing well and the Seahawks are juggling their options at left tackle again. The Raiders offensive line was amazing last week, led by the play of Jared Veldheer , who the Seahawks are surely preparing for. He was a big reason why Darren McFadden had four touchdowns last week. The battle at the line of scrimmage when Oakland has the ball should be fun to watch, and this is a big test for the Seahawks' run defense (five touchdowns allowed to opposing running backs, but four came on the road). The good news for Seattle is that if they stack the box and keep an eye on tight end Zach Miller , they should be in good shape. Remember, last week the Broncos gave up defensively and McFadden went wild. The Seahawks won't do the same.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Hasselbeck QB Jason Campbell
Marshawn Lynch RB Darren McFadden
Justin Forsett RB Michael Bush
Mike Williams WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
Deon Butler WR Nick Miller
John Carlson TE Zach Miller
Olindo Mare K Sebastian Janikowski
Seahawks DST Raiders
Buccaneers at Cardinals - Sunday, 4:15 p.m. | Fantasy Preview
The Bucs have talked about getting running back LeGarrette Blount more involved in the offense, and this is a good week to do it. Arizona has been pretty bad against the run, last week notwithstanding. There's room here for Blount to work on rushing downs and Cadillac Williams on passing downs, providing some balance to Tampa's offense and creating some problems for the Cardinals, who have allowed on average five receptions to running backs per game this year. Williams had eight catches last week. The run could set up the pass, though the Cardinals match up fairly well there. Then again, last week Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was assigned Mike Williams of the Seahawks and gave up a slew of receptions. Mike Williams of the Bucs could repeat the feat, and Kellen Winslow is fairly intriguing as he's involved in the offense and the Cardinals have allowed four touchdowns over their last four games (all before their bye week). Hard to love any of the Cardinals here except Beanie Wells , who has a great matchup and got rolling a little more last week. With Tim Hightower in the doghouse after a fumble last week, Wells could start laying the groundwork for a midseason resurgence. Expect Hightower to play too as the Cardinals lean on the run to keep Max Hall from trying to win the game. The experience he's getting is good, and when Steve Breaston gets healthy then this team could put up some nice numbers, but otherwise it's too easy for teams like the Bucs to double-cover Larry Fitzgerald and force Hall into mistakes on passing downs.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Josh Freeman QB Max Hall
LeGarrette Blount RB Beanie Wells
Cadillac Williams RB Tim Hightower
Mike Williams WR Larry Fitzgerald
Sammie Stroughter   WR Early Doucet
Kellen Winslow TE Ben Patrick
Connor Barth K Jay Feely
Buccaneers DST Cardinals
Vikings at Patriots - Sunday, 4:15 p.m. | Fantasy Preview
The challenge for the Vikings here will be finding an effective way to take advantage of their matchup against the Patriots' secondary. Randy Moss should know these guys well, and Percy Harvin should find the Pats to his liking, but Brett Favre poor arm compounded with his fractured ankle casts a shadow over the enitre offense. It's a safe bet that the Patriots will rely on their front seven to contain Adrian Peterson , put a safety over the top of Randy Moss and assign a fast cornerback to Percy Harvin . But in those passing situations, the blitz will come heavy on Favre (or Tarvaris Jackson ) and try to force turnovers, much like the Packers did last week. Moss should get his numbers as he'll be motivated to show up his old team, and Peterson will keep the Vikings in the game, but Favre will most likely cost his team again. It's really only a matter of time before he's not starting -- and the fuss they're making over his ankle this week, it's possible it happens Sunday. (For the record, Jackson would equally be pressured into some mistakes, but he's also capable of scrambling when the heat's on him in passing situations and is almost the bigger threat). Expect the Patriots to throw a lot in this one -- they might run on short-yardage downs and near the goal line, but generally speaking Tom Brady will run the team's quick-hit offense and look for mismatches involving Vikings cornerbacks Asher Allen and Chris Cook . One of those mismatches should be with Aaron Hernandez , who is seemingly hitting a rookie wall but still offers great size versus the Vikings' smaller cornerbacks, particularly Allen.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Brett Favre QB Tom Brady
Adrian Peterson RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Toby Gerhart   RB Danny Woodhead
Randy Moss WR Wes Welker
Percy Harvin WR Deion Branch
Visanthe Shiancoe TE Aaron Hernandez
Ryan Longwell K Stephen Gostkowski
Vikings DST Patriots
Steelers at Saints - Sunday, 8:20 p.m. | Fantasy Preview
The Steelers' passing game has been on display in highlights for two weeks, but they're expected to run plenty against the Saints. New Orleans has given up only five rushing touchdowns but their pass defense has been downright filthy. For the Steelers to have a chance, Rashard Mendenhall will have to get going, and he should. The Saints are No. 1 in Fantasy points allowed to receivers and they've done a good job of limiting explosive plays to wideouts (not as good against tight ends). That might strike some fear into the hearts of Mike Wallace owners since he's been such a big deep threat -- temper expectations with him but expect Hines Ward and Heath Miller to be effective. It's tough to expect the Saints to run much here -- they're a passing team and the matchup dictates that Drew Brees throws a lot. Brees is also the kind of guy who will analyze his past mistakes and correct them the following week, so the hunch here is that he plays lights out against the Steelers. An additional benefit is that the Steelers' defensive line is thinned out due to injuries to Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith . Because it's likely that Brees will throw a lot, all of the Saints receivers should receive consideration, but Marques Colston is the one most likely to be bottled up (see how the Steelers have done against Brandon Marshall, Roddy White and Anquan Boldin).
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Ben Roethlisberger QB Drew Brees
Rashard Mendenhall RB Chris Ivory
Hines Ward WR Marques Colston
Mike Wallace WR Robert Meachem
Emmanuel Sanders   WR Lance Moore
Heath Miller TE Jeremy Shockey
Jeff Reed K Garrett Hartley
Steelers DST Saints
Texans at Colts - Monday, 8:30 p.m. | Fantasy Preview
Huge matchup, huge implications. The Texans will undoubtedly try to establish the run again as they did in Week 1 (duh), but you have to figure that the Colts will make it a priority not to get burned as badly by Arian Foster again. Thus, expect the Texans to take more chances through the air, though I don't know if you could call passing to Andre Johnson "taking a chance." He should explode as he typically does once per year against Indy. The stats have made Indianapolis look good against the pass over the last three games, but weak opponents and dropped passes have played a role. The Texans are far more efficient and with a week to prepare for the game should be able to take advantage of the Colts' Cover-2 scheme as well as their weaknesses up front. Now, if Houston's defense were as potent as its offense, Peyton Manning would be in big trouble. But the Texans have injuries and weak starters in their defense too, and you can bet that Manning will exploit them relentlessly. A lack of reliable weapons might force Manning to throw more than usual to Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon , and the matchups say start them. But if the Texans ease up on the run or on the other Indianapolis receivers, Manning won't have any problem going to the likes of Mike Hart , Anthony Gonzalez , Blair White or Jacob Tamme . With the Texans' linebackers thinned out and outside linebacker Brian Cushing moving inside, Hart especially stands out as a sleeper this week if Joseph Addai shoulder keeps him from playing. Indy's offense has a week to get its act together -- a difficult matchup against the Eagles in Week 9 coming off a bye is next.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Schaub QB Peyton Manning
Arian Foster RB Mike Hart
Andre Johnson WR Reggie Wayne
Jacoby Jones WR Pierre Garcon
Kevin Walter WR Anthony Gonzalez
David Anderson   WR Blair White
Owen Daniels TE Jacob Tamme
Neil Rackers K Adam Vinatieri
Texans DST Colts
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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