Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 8: Smart Matchup Plays, Sleepers and More
Week 8 of the fantasy football season represents another opportunity for owners to find smart matchups and sleepers and to start and sit players accordingly.
Making the right decisions during the week is usually the difference between fantasy wins and losses come Sunday and Monday.
As always, we take a look at the schedule and how respective fantasy defenses fare against players. In looking at the stats and trends, we can paint a more clear picture of an unpredictable game.
In the following slides, we'll give you the best matchups, sleepers, studs and duds.
Favorable Matchup: QB Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Luck hasn't put up big numbers in the passing game the last two weeks, throwing for 466 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. That could change in a hurry in Week 8.
The Colts travel to Tennessee, where the Titans have allowed an average of 406.5 yards over the last two home games. Touchdowns shouldn't be an issue, either, as the 16 scores allowed via the pass by the Titans represents the most in the NFL this season.
Despite two straight somewhat "down" games for Luck, he's a top-10 fantasy quarterback entering Week 8. Projecting 300 yards and a couple of touchdowns for Luck isn't crazy.
Favorable Matchup: WR Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
Brown has been a consistent producer in 2011, tallying at least 70 yards receiving in five of six games this season.
However, Brown has yet to have that one "wow" game in 2012 that makes fantasy owners glad they drafted him.
A favorable matchup in Week 8 could help Brown get it Sunday.
The Steelers welcome the Washington Redskins to Pittsburgh, and there hasn't been a worse fantasy defense against receivers this season. The Redskins have allowed 110 catches, 1,663 yards and 10 touchdowns to opposing receivers, including 24 or more fantasy points each week.
If there was a week where Brown was going to go for more than 100 yards with at least one touchdown, it's Week 8.
Sleeper: RB Alex Green, Green Bay Packers
If you're a fantasy owner, Green has been somewhat of a double-edged sword.
Over the last two weeks—both as a starter and clear No. 1 running back option for the Packers—Green has rushed for just 100 yards with 37 receiving yards and zero touchdowns.
However, he's also received 47 total touches (42 rushes) in an explosive offense, so there's that continued chance of a big fantasy day.
Maybe a better matchup in Week 8 will give Green that boost.
The Packers face the Jaguars in Green Bay Sunday. Jacksonville is currently the third-worst fantasy defense against opposing running backs, averaging 23 points allowed a game to the position.
If the Packers get up big Sunday, one could expect a lot of Green to close out the Jags. Owners can only hope for a touchdown or two.
Sleeper: QB Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders
It's not easy to trust Carson Palmer. I get that. But believe it or not, he's been remarkably consistent this season as a fantasy quarterback.
In each of the Raiders' six games, Palmer has eclipsed the 200-yard mark. Only once (at Denver) has Palmer not thrown at least one touchdown pass. The point totals may not be Aaron Rodgers-like, but Palmer is averaging a little more than 15 fantasy points a game in 2012.
A matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs this week should mean Palmer continues being a viable fantasy option. The Chiefs are the seventh-worst fantasy defense against opposing quarterbacks in 2012.
If Josh Freeman can throw for 328 yards and three scores against this defense, Palmer can, too.
Stud: QB Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
While it would be difficult to say that any quarterback is playing better than Aaron Rodgers right now, Manning certainly has a strong case.
Over his last four games, Manning has thrown for 1,314 yards, 11 touchdowns and just one interception. In each game, Manning has went for more than 300 yards with two touchdowns.
What could he possibly do with the New Orleans Saints coming to Denver in Week 8?
New Orleans has allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, which includes the 420 yards and three touchdowns (there could have been a fourth or even fifth) from Josh Freeman in Week 7.
This is a stud matchup if there's ever been one this season. Manning is a top-two fantasy quarterback in Week 8.
Stud: RB Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
This was a difficult "stud" decision to make, because Chris Johnson has burned fantasy owners too many times over the past two seasons. But I'm starting to gain some faith in the much-maligned Johnson.
Over the last four weeks, Johnson has gone for more than 90 yards rushing three times (Houston, Pittsburgh and Buffalo). In Week 7, Johnson raced through the Bills defense for a very CJ2K-like 195 yards and two scores.
The Colts defense did well to bottle up Trent Richardson (eight yards) Sunday, but this is still the fourth-worst fantasy defense against running backs this season. Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew and even Shonn Greene have torn apart the Colts defense already in 2012.
He will probably make me regret it Sunday, but Johnson is my stud running back for Week 8.
Dud: LaRod Stephens-Howling, Arizona Cardinals
What fantasy owners will see for Stephens-Howling: 20 carries, 104 yards, one touchdown vs. Minnesota in Week 7.
What fantasy owners should see for Stephens-Howling: A Week 8 matchup vs. the San Francisco 49ers.
If Stephens-Howling gets even a quarter of his Week 7 production this week, fantasy owners should be happy. While the 49ers have slipped somewhat against the run the past two weeks (277 yards allowed to opposing backs), this isn't a front seven that will allow the Cardinals to run on them this week.
Stephens-Howling is a nice stash on the bench for later, but starting him this week is just asking for a one-point or two-point output from the running back position.
Dud: TE Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers
The fantasy dud that is Jermichael Finley continues to roll on in 2012.
Finley, drafted among the top five tight ends for this season, hasn't caught a touchdown since Week 1 and remains without a receiving game of more than 75 yards in 2012. Over the last three weeks, Finley has just five total fantasy points.
Considering the Jaguars have allowed the third-least points to fantasy tight ends this season, including zero touchdowns. Week 8 might not be the time to expect Finley to break out of his slump. He's bench-able now in all formats.