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I like to think that our readers have a certain degree of fantasy acuity before they arrive, so my hope is that this start and sit week 8 list – which avoids the obvious – will be useful for all of you. I’ve made my opinions on start/sit implicitly known via my weekly rankings, so, you won’t see a lot of QBs inside my Top 6, etc. listed here. The idea of this post is to give you some deep names that will yield start worthy value and some entrenched starters that should be riding the virtual pine.
In a week laden with byes and injuries lineup decisions for owners become critical. This week, we’ll help you make the decisions that carry you to victory.
Week 8 QB Starts
Michael Vick vs. New York Giants – Provided there are no setbacks over the weekend with his balky hamstring Vick is good to go – straight back into your fantasy lineup. He draws the start, at home, against a Giants team giving up more than 20 FPPG to opposing QBs (4th most in the league) including 175 yards on the ground – the 4th most in that area as well. Vick was rolling up the rushing yards on New York the last time these teams met, until injuring his hamstring on a long carry. Despite missing two games and a portion of a third he’s still the position’s 17th highest scorer on the season. Get Vick in your lineup and expect him to pick up right where he left off.
Colin Kaepernick at Jacksonville – Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been throwing a lot of passes and he hasn’t needed to with the 49ers rolling over their competition. That should continue this week against Jacksonville, however, the scoring situation remains ripe. The Jags have allowed an NFL high 15 passing touchdowns to go with a league worst 31.7 PPG allowed and have just three interceptions on the year. Even if he throws fewer than 20 passes Kaepernick should easily post 250 yards and two scores, plus whatever he picks up with his feet.
Week 8 QB Sits
Terrelle Pryor vs. Pittsburgh – Playing at home coming off a bye I think that Oakland will be competitive against the Steelers, but, Quarterbacks haven’t had a lot of success against the Steelers this season. Just one player – Matt Cassel, mind you – has posted more than 18 points against them with three opponents being held below a dozen. Opponents have thrown just five passing TDs against Pittsburgh through six games, so, it looks as if Pryor will be hard pressed to post a multiple score effort… particularly as he plays behind a line that allowed 10 sacks his last time out.
Carson Palmer vs. Atlanta – I know the matchup is attractive, Atlanta has given up the 5th most points to opposing QBs, but that doesn’t always guarantee results. Owners looking for bye week replacement help should turn to Roethlisberger, Dalton or Alex Smith before considering Palmer who has thrown a pick in every game this season including multiples in each of the last five weeks.
Week 8 RB Starts
Frank Gore at Jacksonville – Sure, Gore falls into that you’re starting him anyway category so this doesn’t necessarily count as advice, but, I have him ranked as the second option at the position this week, his highest such mark of the season, so it’s worth discussing. Nearing the end of the first two months of action Gore is the 7th leading scorer at running back on the strength of five touchdowns in seven games. This week, he faces a Jacksonville defense that has given up the most yards on the ground in the NFL by more than 40 over the second place team and more than 100 over the next closest. They’ve been run on 232 times, the highest mark league-wide. Gore is going to get plenty of work and is as near a lock at 100 total yards and a score as there is this week.
Fred Jackson at New Orleans – With the forecast on C.J. Spiller not looking good this will be a FredEx kind of day in Louisiana. While New Orleans has improved defensively, on the whole, they’re still a team that can be run on – giving up an NFL high 5.1 yards a pop. Of course, Buffalo may be challenged to keep it close but Jackson should feature heavily into the gameplan early even if Spiller winds up on the field. With plenty of top options on the sideline via bye and injury, it wouldn’t be a shock to see top-12 numbers from Jackson this weekend.
I was mistaken in thinking that Ogbonnaya would see more work than McGahee last week against Green Bay, however, it’s hard to envision a scenario where captain checkdown (or maestro, as the case may be) Jason Campbell (5.2 YPA in Chicago last year) doesn’t feed the ball heavily to his pass catching back. He’s got sneaky flex value in PPR leagues. Roy Helu, meanwhile, after scoring three times last week is not so sneaky, but just as valuable. Again, if Washington trails against Denver you’re likely to see a lot of Helu in passing situations – he’s already playing nearly equivalent snaps to Morris this season.
Week 8 RB Sits
Lamar Miller at New England – Miller has had more than 12 touches in a game just once this year. New England’s defense remained strong in the middle last week despite losing their top two run stuffers and Miami’s offensive line hasn’t blocked well against the run or the pass this year (ranking as the 8th and 9th worst units via Pro Football Focus respectively). On the road against a still-tough division opponent, don’t expect much out of Miller who inexpicably has split touches with Daniel Thomas on the season and was had has hands on the ball three fewer times than him last week.
Willis McGahee at Kansas City – For the reasons that I’ve included Ogbonnaya above and an X factor that emerged in the Cleveland backfield last week I don’t see a lot of work coming Willis’ way. When it does, he faces the third worst fantasy RB matchup against a dominant Chiefs front seven that has given up just two touchdowns and 12.64 FPPG to opposing backs this year.
Week 8 WR Starts
Eric Decker vs. Washington – Last year Decker finished the season as fantasy’s 8th best wideout, but, he didn’t get a lot of love from the fantasy community coming into ’13 because of the presence of additional threats in the Denver passing game. If there is anything we’ve learned through the season’s first seven weeks it’s Peyton Manning and co. can support as much offense as we’d like them to, and he’s still a top 12 fantasy producer so far this year. Giving up catches on 66.4% of passes to wide receivers this year the Washington defense has struggled to contain wideouts (7th most points per game allowed). Facing a QB with Manning’s
Terrance Williams at Detroit – With Miles Austin lkely sitting down this week the rookie gets another chance to shine, and earn his place as Dallas’ #2 receiver even when the vet makes his way back. Williams has caught 12 of 13 targets over his last three games scoring a touchdown in each contest. This week, while it is likely to be the Dez vs. Megatron show, expect Williams to keep the good times rolling. His high catch rate should mean Romo is willing to look his way in crucial situations more and more.
Week 8 WR Sits
Hakeem Nicks at Philadelphia – Coach Tom Coughlin called Nicks out this week regarding his reliability (a fair comment after a two catch performance against one of the weaker secondaries in the league despite nine targets) and a move behind Rueben Randle on the depth chart – or at least the pecking order – could be in effect. Knowing this, it is simply impossible to pencil Nicks in for another impressive game against the Eagles (his best outing of the year came against them just a few weeks ago). While the Eagles give up the most points in the league to wideouts the Giants haven’t traveled well this season, scoring just four touchdowns in their last three road games. Nicks hasn’t traveled well either, with just 12 catches on 27 targets and 54.3 YPG away from East Rutherford. Believe in Randle and Victor Cruz this week but stay away from Nicks as anything more than a WR3/4.
Kenbrell Thompkins vs. Miami – Signs are pointing to Danny Amendola getting back in the game this weekend and Rob Gronkowski could be due another 17 targets in his second time on the field this year. That doesn’t leave much work for Thompkins to begin with, who should still start outside but will be competing with Aaron Dobson, who has been the more targeted rookie of late, Julian Edelman and the rest for passes. Thompkins hasn’t had more than six looks in a game the last three weeks and he’s caught just 50% of his passes during that span. Three receptions yields a very low floor (see last week’s 16 yard effort). To top it all off, the fish are the third toughest WR matchup so far this season – expect KT to flounder this week.
Week 8 TE Starts
Tony Gonzalez at Arizona – I was the highest of high on Gonzalez in Week 7 banking on upwards of 10 targets for the veteran. Instead, he earned just two as the Falcons built an early lead and Harry Douglas proved an effective receiver. That said, the situation is still favourable for Tony G – let’s not overthink one game in the post-Jones era. This week, he heads to the desert to ply his craft against a Cardinals defense that has given up eight touchdowns to TEs so far.
Jeff Cumberland at. Cincinnati – If you’re looking for a fill in this week Cumberland is still your guy. He’s been on the fringe starter radar for a few weeks and while he only put up 31 yards against the Patriots a week ago he was targeted seven times, good for a tie for the 7th most looks at TE. As Geno Smith continues to look more poised each week, his favorite targets will stay relevant and Cumberland is becoming one of the go to guys in New York.
Week 8 TE Sit
Brandon Myers at Philadelphia – The Eagles have defended TEs well this year, holding the position under 6 points per game, the 5th lowest number in the league. They are one of just two units that hasn’t given up a score to the position so far this year and have only seen a curious four redzone targets against them headed toward tight ends. Add in Manning’s struggles and the offensive road woes discussed above and there isn’t much to like with Myers this week.
Week 8 Defenses to Stream
Atlanta Falcons (18%) at Arizona – The Atlanta defense came up big after the bye and found it’s way into the endzone early last week against the Bucs. This week, they draw an aforementioned Quarterback who has been intercepted more than once in every game for over a month and has thrown 13 total on the year. Atlanta’s unit doesn’t put a ton of pressure on the QB – they have just 14 sacks this year – so you may not see a ton of sack points, but with Rashard Mendenhall looking unlikely and Larry Fitzgerald still at less than 100% the Cardinals offense comes into this one exposed and the Falcons D is good enough to hold them to a low point total while producing a few turnovers.
Philadelphia Eagles (25%) vs. New York Giants – The Eagles are a bottom six defense in terms of overall fantasy scoring this year but they face one of the most generous teams in the league. Not only is New York incredibly turnover prone, their punt coverage has been terrible – as witnessed nationwide last Monday night. There is never a team that represents a good bet for a six point bonus any week but if any matchup spells a DTD it might be this one. Failing that, Eli has 17 turnovers and has been sacked 18 times through seven games, so, they’ll find a way to get on the board.