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NFL Fantasy Football: Start 'Em/Sit 'Em - Week Eight

Week eight NFL matchups and how they'll affect your fantasy football team.

Ezra Shaw

Now that's more like it.  Fresh off of the worst fantasy week of my life, I rebounded in fine fashion with a beautiful 3-0 week.  That means my three teams are now sitting at 5-2, 4-3, and 5-2 across the board (14-7 combined).  My teams were helped this week by the likes of: Randall Cobb, Le'Veon Bell, DeMarco Murray, Sammy Watkins, and Aaron Rodgers.  I was also fortunate to be going up against teams that started Isaiah Crowell, MDJ, Antone Smith, Heath Miller, and Jordan Cameron.

Leagues are starting to settle in place and teams are starting to separate themselves a little bit by this point in the season.  It's becoming clear which managers don't really care, have stopped setting their lineups, aren't working waivers, and/or have just fallen too far behind to really care anymore.  You're also starting to see the cream of the crop in each league and which of the upper 2/3rds of teams in most leagues is really going to push for those playoff spots.  I feel like I'm in good position in all three of my leagues.  I'm in second place in my 10-team standard league and I'm leading my 14-team PPR league.  Our Hogs Haven league (where I'm 4-3) is a .5 PPR league and I'm sitting in sixth out of 12.  The playoff push is upon us!

Apparently the advice I gave myself last week worked out.  How about the advice I gave you?

  • I really hope you started Russell Wilson like I told you to.  The guy has really blossomed into a fantasy star this year.  He's throwing consistently well, but the running is what sets him apart.  He's a premier QB moving forward.
  • Brees did some things and was a little better than I expected.  It's pretty hard to ever count him out.  Still, he's having a down (by Brees standards) year.
  • I knew if I recommended Golden Tate a second time in a row he'd come through.  It was a little harder to trust him after failing to meet expectations the week before, but his scenario was just too good to ignore.
  • Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, and Jordy Nelson are simply fantasy royalty.  You can never sit any of them.  They're incredible.  I'll probably stop putting them in the start column so much from now on because it goes without saying.  If you need it, here it is, start all three.  All the time.  Maybe even on their bye.  Just kidding.
  • I recommended Steve Smith.  He wasn't abysmal, but I expected better.
  • Patterson got a TD this past week, but don't let that fool you.  He's still someone to avoid.
  • I mentioned that Brandon Marshall would have a great week and I was wrong.  Sorry.  I'm not sure what happened to the Bears offense...
  • Sorry about the Morris and Bennett predictions.  I don't know what to tell you about Morris.  I just don't know what to expect or when we'll see a huge game from him.  Bennett is cooling...

Onward to the week at hand!


Start 'Em

Russell Wilson, SEA (@ Carolina Panthers) - I really shouldn't even have to list him anymore.  Wilson is the real deal... in real life and in fantasy football.  He's been smokin' hot lately and I don't see why it should stop against the surprisingly weak Panther defense.  Wilson gives you the production of a typical QB and typical RB COMBINED!  He's money in fantasy football.  225+ passing yards, 2+ TD's, and 40-50 rushing yards.

Cam Newton, CAR (vs Seattle Seahawks) - Killa Cam makes his first appearance on my Start 'Em/Sit 'Em list this season and it's a good thing for me because I've been hanging on to him in one league despite the less than stellar start.  Newton's legs are back.  They got dominated by GB last week and Newton still put up OK numbers, but the important thing is he can run and run effectively now.  It's also about time I made an official announcement: The Seahawks are different from last year's team!  Their defense on the road has not been really good.  Keep this in mind, Kirk Cousins had a good fantasy day against them in Washington...  250+ passing yards, 2 TD's, and 30-40 rushing yards

Carson Palmer, AZ (vs Philadelphia Eagles) - He's started three games this year and has thrown two TD's in each of 'em.  The guy still knows how to sling the ball and his shoulder seems to be better.  Throw in the fact that the Eagles pass defense isn't exactly great and the fact that the Cards will need to throw and score to keep up, and Palmer could be set for a big day.  300+ passing yards and 2+ TDs.

Sit 'Em

Andy Dalton, CIN (vs Baltimore Ravens) - The Bengals offense has been off this year, especially lately.  I guess they're missing Jay Gruden :)  Dalton is a fine QB, but with Green being banged up and the offense as a whole sputtering a big, he's a risky play.  The offense seems to be more run oriented than in the past and Dalton is getting less opportunities.  It should also be noted that this game is in Baltimore and their defense is no slouch.  225 passing yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT.

Matt Ryan, ATL (vs Detroit Lions) - This game is in London.  The Falcons are much worse when they're not at the Georgia Dome.  They're also facing the best defense in football this year.  He's about as risky a play this week as Matt Ryan gets.  300 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT.

Nick Foles, PHI (@ Arizona Cardinals) - I'm not sure what's happened to Foles this year, but he has regressed.  Must be no DeSean Jackson :)  Their offense is still good, but Foles isn't producing in fantasy football.  It doesn't help that he's going against Todd Bowles and a pretty good, and aggressive Cardinal D.  They're tough and they're even tougher in AZ.  I wouldn't expect Foles to get it turned around this week.

Running Backs

Start 'Em

Andre Ellington, AZ (vs Philadelphia Eagles) - The Cardinals are going to score some points in this game.  I'm calling it now, the Cardinals are going to beat the Eagles in the desert.  And I think Andre Ellington will have a lot to do with it.  The Eagles defense is pretty bad.  They've been especially kind to opposing RB's and Ellington has game-breaking speed.  He's been rolling lately and the Eagles don't offer much resistance.  100+ rushing yards, 30-40 receiving yards, and 1 TD.

Joique Bell, DET (vs Atlanta Falcons) - The Falcons are terrible against the run.  They're opposing RB's dream matchup in fantasy football, and even more generous away from Atlanta.  The Lions will need to run the ball with Johnson banged up as he is and Bell provides in the passing game, too.  Bush isn't 100% and Bell should get the lion's share of the work.  I also see potential for the Lions to get an early lead and add to Bell's touches will holding on to the clock.  80 rushing yards, 20-30 receiving yards, 1 TD.

Lamar Miller, MIA (@ Jacksonville Jaguars) - Ahh, the Jaguars...  The fantasy gift that just keeps on giving.  Lamar Miller has complete control of the Dolphin backfield with no Moreno around and the Dolphins have been severely underrated this year.  Their offense is pretty good, Tannehill and Wallace are both performing, and their OL is underrated.  I expect Lamar Miller to beat up and gash the poor Jags (who just vomit fantasy points to all competitors).  90 rushing yards, 20-30 receiving yards, and 1 TD.

Ben Tate, CLE (vs Oakland Raiders) - Ahh, the Raiders...  You get the point.  Another great matchup for a pretty good RB in an underrated offense.  Basically just read what I wrote for Miller and the same thing applies here.  They're both hot right now.

Mark Ingram, NO (vs Green Bay Packers) - The Packers run defense is weak and the Saints are a different beast in their dome.  He gets tons of snaps, tons of carries, and will be involved Sunday an some sort of an attempt to keep Aaron Rodgers on the sidelines.  If the Saints don't control the ball this game, Rodgers is going to have a field day.  Oh, and Pierre Thomas is out.  70 rushing yards, 10-20 receiving yards, and 1 TD.

Sit 'Em

Anyone in the Rams Backfield (@ Kansas City Chiefs) - Zac Stacy, Tre Mason, Benny Cunningham.  How many touches is each getting?  Seriously, I want to know, because right now, I don't.  You'd have to guess Mason will get the most carries and Cunningham the most catches, but do you really want 1/3rd, or even 1/2 of the St. Louis Rams backfield?  And against the stout Chiefs run defense?  And in KC?  Me, neither.

Darren Sproles, PHI (@ Arizona Cardinals) - No, thanks.  Not this week.  The Cardinals defense is good and the Eagles OL is bad and hurt.  He's also hurt and has cooled off quite considerably from the first couple weeks of the season.  He'll play, but he's not 100% and as I've said, the Cardinals are winning this game.

Wide Receivers

Start 'Em

Golden Tate, DET (vs Atlanta Falcons) - Hey, guess what?  I'm going with him for a third week in a row.  Calvin is still questionable and limited in practice, so this is another one of those great opportunities for Tate.  I don't know if he'll go bonkers like he did last week, but it should be closer to that than what he gave us two weeks ago.  I think the Lions are going to beat the Falcons and I expect them to put up points.  100 yards and possibly a TD.

Michael Floyd, AZ (vs Philadelphia Eagles) - Floyd has been solid, reliable, and consistent recently for fantasy owners and I absolutely love this matchup.  As you can see from this entire column, I'm expecting big things from the Cardinal offense this week and I expect Palmer to Floyd to be a big part of that.  The Eagles are especially friendly to opposing WR's.  90 yards and 1 TD.

Mike Wallace, MIA (@ Jacksonville Jaguars) - See Miller, Lamar above.  He's caught a TD in three straight games and has been remarkably consistent from a fantasy perspective this season.  The chemistry between Wallace and Tannehill has clearly grown and the offense as a whole is playing better.  Plus Jags.  70+ receiving yards and possibly a TD.

Sit 'Em

Nate Washington and/or Justin Hunter, TEN (vs Houston Texans) - Washington is clearly on the trade block in Tennessee and their offense is going nowhere fast.  Kendall Wright has clearly surpassed both of these guys in the receiving game and it appears the Titans will be starting rookie Zach Mettenberger instead of Jake Locker or Charlie Whitehurst.  The matchup is favorable, but unfortunately, I think Washington has fallen out of favor and it's hard to expect that offense to support more than one WR.  Plus I expect Walker to take a lot of looks.  40 receiving yards or less for each.

Percy Harvin, NYJ (vs Buffalo Bills) - This one's tricky.  That matchup is favorable, but everything else about this guy is not.  Harvin has just joined a new team with a poor offense that runs more than most teams and has a below average QB.  Plus, it's his first week there.  I just can't start him confidently until I see something of what he looks like in NY.  40 total yards.

Tight Ends

Start 'Em

Jordan Reed, WAS (@ Dallas Cowboys) - He's been nothing short of phenomenal and new QB's love their TE security blankets.  It helps that the Cowboys have been more generous to opposing TE's than most every other team.  He's going to get a ton of looks and a ton of targets, guaranteed.  It's time they took the training wheels off because he's fully healthy and I expect him to be dominant in our offense and play a vast majority of the snaps this week.  70 receiving yards and possibly a TD.

Martellus Bennett, CHI (@ New England Patriots) - The Bears need to get their offense going and know Trestman, I expect they'll try to do that through the air more than on the ground.  I think they'll try to help Cutler find a rhythm with a lot of short and intermediate routes for Bennett.  It doesn't hurt that the Pats pass defense hasn't been that great and Bennett should be a favorable red-zone target.  70 yards and 1 TD.

Antonio Gates, SD (@ Denver Broncos) - A TD-magnet in a killer offense with an MVP QB in what's very likely to be a shoot-out.  Uhh... sign me up.  80 yards and 1 TD.

Oh yeah, and keep starting Olsen.

Sit 'Em

Jordan Cameron, CLE (vs Oakland Raiders) - You all remember Jordan Cameron from last year, right?  Well this isn't the same guy.  Kyle Shanahan doesn't use TE's quite like, or as much as Norv Turner.  The Raiders have done better than expected against TE's all year and Cameron has consistently underperformed.  I'm not sure why it's been that way, but I don't see why it would change this week.  40 yards.

Jared Cook, STL (@ Kansas City Chiefs) - The Chiefs are a favorable opponent for TE's, but you can do better.  I expect a lot of running from the Rams in this game and I also expect them to lose.  Cook is another one who's underperformed this year.  He hasn't caught a single TD, yet.  40 yards.

Jermaine Gresham, CIN (vs Baltimore Ravens) - The matchup is a nightmare and Gresham hasn't done a thing this year to warrant you starting him in fantasy.  He has no TD's and only one game over 50 yards.  Even last week, with 12 targets and 10 receptions, he mustered 48 yards.  He's just not that good and the Bengals offense has been down.  I expect Dalton to struggle which means I expect Gresham to struggle, too.  20 yards.

Please leave any fantasy related questions you might have in the comments section and I'll try to answer as many and as quickly as I can.  It's fun to get everyone's perspectives on this week's matchups floating around down there and I'm always interested to see what kind of decisions different fantasy players have to make.  These are just general ideas for standard leagues, but we can all give and receive advice for unique situations as they come up.  Good luck!