[dropcap]A[/dropcap]t this point in the season it should get a little easier determining who you’ll be starting and who you’ll be sitting each week. A plethora of teams are heading into their bye weeks this time of year. To be exact, six teams are on byes in Week 8 — Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, San Diego and Tennessee. That leaves a lot of fantasy studs on benches.
While we’re probably complaining about the studs we’re forced to leave on the bench, there is no mistaking that it is easier setting lineups with so many players not playing, at least easier than it was the first three weeks of the season. With that, I will proceed to make a fool of myself.
Note: Scoring is PPR-based and from FFToday.
Robert Griffin III @ Denver
I don’t want to get anyone’s feathers too ruffled but RGIII may finally be fantasy relevant again. Griffin looked like his spry old self against the Bears defense on Sunday, totaling 382 yards (298 rushing, 84 rushing) and two touchdowns, both through the air.
After another poor performance on Sunday night the Broncos’ defense is now tied with the Cowboys for most fantasy points per game (FPPG) allowed to quarterbacks at 26.7. Denver has allowed 2,358 passing yards through seven weeks, most in the league. Griffin could easily be a Top 5 fantasy quarterback in Week 8.
Eli Manning @ Philadelphia
Ladies and gentlemen, Eli Manning did NOT turn the ball over on Monday night. While that’s quite a feat for the younger Manning, he still didn’t have much of an outing from a fantasy perspective, throwing for just 200 yards and one touchdown. He’s been the most consistently inconsistent fantasy quarterback in 2013 and Monday night was one of Manning’s best games of the season. Still, the match-up can’t be ignored this week. I consider Manning to be a low-end QB2 against a Philadelphia defense allowing 25.6 FPPG to quarterbacks.
Colin Kaepernick @ Jacksonville
Colin Kaepernick’s legs saved what was an otherwise lackluster fantasy day against the Titans Sunday afternoon. What hurt Kaepernick as far as throwing the ball was that the 49ers built a huge lead and kept running the ball in the second half. The Nevada alum still managed 267 total yards and a rushing touchdown. It wasn’t a bad fantasy outing for throwing the ball just 21 times. Check out all our QB Rankings and Projections for Week 8
Kaepernick should see continued success this week against a Jaguars’ defense giving up 23.4 FPPG to opposing gunslingers. I would start Kaepernick as a low-end QB1 against Jacksonville.
Knowshon Moreno vs. Washington
On Sunday night NBC color commentator Cris Collinsworth made it sound like Moreno still had some competition in the Denver backfield. Do not be fooled, fantasy degenerates. Moreno has had the starting running back role locked for a while now. In fact, according to fftoday.com, he’s the No. 5 PPR fantasy running back this season. I shouldn’t even be including him here, but Collinsworth has forced my hand. Please, my fellow fantasy footballers, start Moreno every week, except Week 9 (bye), but especially this week against the Redskins, who are fifth worst in FPPG allowed to running backs at 26.9.
Eddie Lacy @ Minnesota
In just five games played Eddie Lacy already has more FPPG than Stevan Ridley, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Lamar Miller and Maurice Jones-Drew, all of whom have played in more games than Lacy. If a just-off-the-streets Peyton Hillis can be productive against the Vikings, then Eddie Lacy definitely can, especially when they give running backs a league-high 31.1 FPPG. Lacy is a Top 10 RB option for me in Week 8.
Maurice Jones-Drew vs. San Francisco
The San Francisco 49ers haven’t had the stalwart defense they’re perennially known for, especially against the run. Through seven weeks they have allowed 19.5 FPPG to opposing running backs. While Jones-Drew has had a lackluster 2013 campagin to say the least, he should still be good for 10-12 fantasy points in PPR leagues this week.
Hakeem Nicks @ Philadelphia
I’m not including Victor Cruz here because Cruz should be considered an every-week starter. I probably shouldn’t even be including Nicks here after last week’s performance against the Vikings. How has Butterfingers not offered this guy an endorsement contract yet? Nicks is quickly becoming the No. 3 WR in New York, despite being targeted more than Rueben Randle.
While I’m less than impressed with Nicks so far in 2013, I would still give him a shot in Week 8. The Giants will likely be passing a lot trying to keep up or play catch-up with the Eagles. This is a tailor made match-up for a bounce-back performance as the Eagles surrender 51.7 FPPG to opposing wide receivers, worst in the NFL.
Marques Colston vs. Buffalo
I have a feeling about Colston this week. I’ve said that a couple other weeks, but this time I mean it. The Bills have been horrid against wide receivers, allowing 47.5 FPPG to the position. The fact that Lance Moore is returning doesn’t scare me at all. He hadn’t done anything before his injury. What’s even more appealing about Colston in Week 8 is that the Saints may be without All-Everything tight end, Jimmy Graham, which would ideally increase Colston’s targets considerably. If it doesn’t work out with him this week, then I don’t know what to say about him for the rest of the season.
Larry Fitzgerald vs. Atlanta
Marques Colston and Larry Fitzgerald have really been paddling along in the same boat in 2013. They’ve both been inexplicably unproductive despite their consistently productive careers, especially in fantasy football. I say Fitz gets things turned around this week too against the Falcons. Atlanta gives up 42.4 FPPG to wide receivers, third worst in the league behind Philadelphia and Buffalo. Consider Fitz a high-end WR2 this week. See all our WR Projections for Week Eight
Jordan Reed @ Denver
Has anyone else developed an unhealthy fantasy man crush on Jordan Reed? I love the skill set this guy has. It’s no wonder why he’s been compared to fellow Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez on the field. Reed is extremely athletic and a mismatch for most linebackers. He’s quickly become RGIII’s security blanket and a viable fantasy tight end starter.
The Broncos have allowed 15.1 FPPG to tight ends through seven weeks. As we’ve become accustomed to, the Broncos’ opponent will likely be passing frequently. Don’t expect the numbers Reed put up last week (9-134-1), but do put him in your starting lineup, especially if you own guys like Martellus Bennett, Antonio Gates or Garrett Graham (byes).
Tony Gonzalez @ Arizona
I know, you’re saying, “Zach, Tony Gonzalez is an every-week starter, don’t be so obvious.” I agree, but some may not be so convinced, especially after his disappointing performance during a tasty match-up last week. Harry Douglas was the main beneficiary of the absence of Julio Jones and Roddy White on Sunday while Gonzo was a virtual no-show. Douglas should see his fair share of targets this week as well, but I would bet a lot of things that Gonzalez will see more than the four targets he saw last week. The fact that Roddy White may miss another week and that the Cardinals allow the most FPPG to tight ends at 26.6 makes Tony Gonzalez an obvious start for Week 8.
Kyle Rudolph vs. Green Bay
In what felt like a legitimate pre-season game on Monday night, Kyle Rudolph caught just three of his nine targets, largely due to Josh Freeman’s erratic throwing. The Vikings are a mess right now and I wouldn’t regularly start anyone other than Adrian Peterson. But Rudolph’s match-up can’t be ignored this week. Green Bay allows 18.7 FPPG to tight ends, the highest total behind Arizona. I anticipate Minnesota having to pass a lot on Sunday trying to catch up with Rodgers and Co. and it would behoove Christian Ponder to frequent the safety valve that is Rudolph.
49ers @ Jacksonville
While the 49ers aren’t the defense they were last year, their Week 8 match-up is one of the best in the NFL. Jacksonville is third worst in the league allowing 9 FPPG to defenses. The Jaguars are a better offense with Chad Henne at quarterback, but he’s thrown more than twice as many interceptions as touchdowns (5 to 2) in his six games played in 2013. Additionally, Henne and Blaine Gabbert have been sacked a combined 29 times (Henne 16, Gabbert 13) — most in the league.
Bengals vs. New York Jets
The loss of cornerback Leon Hall is a big one for the Bengals, but they still have one of the better all-around defenses in the NFL. Cincinnati is coming off an embarrassing defensive effort against the Lions and look to avenge that outing at home against the Jets. New York has allowed 7.7 FPPG to defenses, sixth most in the league. Check out more sleeper Defense’s in our Week Sleeper DEF/ST edition.