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START/BENCH: Week 8

It’s fitting that Halloween is just around the corner. Because the only thing missing from last week’s Nightmare on Fantasy Football Street was Freddy freaking Krueger himself.

It wasn’t just the injuries that felled players like Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer and Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler – injuries that effect not only those signal-callers but also the backs and receivers around them.

That was just the tip of the iceberg.

Three teams (including the Cardinals) were shut out last week. In Sharks League Scoring, fewer than a dozen quarterbacks topped 20 fantasy points. Only seven running backs and eight wide receivers accomplished that feat.

If you were a fantasy owner of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott or Oakland Raiders wideout Amari Cooper, it was a probably a good week.

But many, many others want to put Week 7 in the rear-view mirror as soon as possible. And it won’t get any easier in Week 8, as it’s the beginning of two straight six-team bye weeks – Arizona, Green Bay, Jacksonville, the Los Angeles Rams, the New York Giants and Tennessee are all off.

However, fantasy owners don’t get a bye. Quite the opposite – at this point in the season many teams hovering just over or under .500 face a pivotal contest this week.

Every single lineup decision counts,

So, here’s to making the right ones.

Let’s get after it.

 

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

Tom Brady, New England (vs. Los Angeles Chargers)

Drew Brees, New Orleans (vs. Chicago)

Deshaun Watson, Houston (at Seattle)

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia (vs. San Francisco)

OFF THE LIST: Matt Ryan, Atlanta (at New York Jets); Over their last three contests, the Falcons are averaging less than 14 points a game, and Ryan is 23rd in fantasy points per game among quarterbacks over that span. Ryan may be the reigning NFL MVP, but here’s a news flash – this ain’t 2016.

 

SPOT START OF THE WEEK

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (vs. Indianapolis)

Dalton has, throughout his career, rather sucked against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and last week was no exception – Dalton passed for only 140 yards and tossed a pair of interceptions in a loss in the Steel City, and he’s presently 26th at his position in fantasy points so far this season.

However, as Heath Cummings reported for CBS Sports, Sunday’s home tilt with the Colts feels like a chance for Dalton to “get right” – at least temporarily. “Dalton had a miserable performance against the Steelers, but Indianapolis is the defense to get right against,” Cummings said. “The Colts are giving up the fourth-most Fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks and are dead last in Y/A allowed (8.9). Dalton doesn’t even need big volume to be startable this week.”

 

ROLL THEM OUT

Case Keenum, Minnesota (at Cleveland)

Keenum didn’t play well in last week’s win over the Baltimore Ravens, passing for fewer than 200 yards with no scores and a pick. But if you’re in a bye week bind and need a plug and play option in Week 8 Keenum’s worth a long look – the Cleveland Browns aren’t as good against the pass as their ranking of 15th in the NFL would indicate.

Cam Newton, Carolina (at Tampa Bay)

Newton’s coming off a turd of a performance in Chicago – a game in which two of his turnovers were returned for scores and the Panthers failed to find the end zone. However, Newton’s been a top-five fantasy option for the season, and this week he faces a Buccaneers team allowing the most fantasy points in the NFC to quarterbacks.

Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers (at New England)

Yes, the Patriots held the Atlanta Falcons in check last Sunday night, but that may well have been more about Atlanta’s offensive funk than a defensive rebound by the Pats. Every quarterback the Patriots have faced not named Matt Ryan has thrown for 300+ yards – including Josh McCown. Rivers has also been hot lately – 10th in fantasy points among quarterbacks during the Chargers’ three-game winning streak.

 

SIT THEM DOWN

Matt Moore, Miami (at Baltimore)

Granted, there’s not apt to be a stampede of fantasy owners looking to start Moore in Week 8. However, if you’re considering Moore as a fill-in or streaming start this Thursday night, don’t. The Ravens may be a hot ball or bird poop as a football team, but their pass defense is pretty stingy – only two teams have allowed fewer fantasy points under center.

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (at Detroit)

Over the past couple of weeks, the Pittsburgh Steelers have looked as good as any team in the AFC. But the offensive engine during that surge has been tailback Le’Veon Bell – Ben Roethlisberger barely ranks inside the top 20 in fantasy points and will be on the road Sunday night in an unfavorable fantasy matchup with the Lions.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit (vs. Pittsburgh)

As he’s been for most of his 37-year NFL career, 39-year-old Matthew Stafford has been a serviceable weekly starter for fantasy owners this season. This isn’t the week to be rolling Stafford out though, the Steelers rank No. 1 in the NFL in pass defense and No. 2 in fewest fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, and Stafford won’t have favorite receiver Golden Tate Sunday night.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is an eight-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who has been a finalist for that organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award each of the last three years. He won the honor in 2017. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.