We've entered the eighth week of the 2012 fantasy football season, and as we enter the season's second half, the push for the fantasy playoffs begins in earnest, adding extra importance to every game as teams "on the bubble" try to keep their postseason dreams alive.
For every fantasy squad, be they division leader or bottom-feeder, it's important to identify which NFL matchups can give you an edge, so here's a look at the Week 8 matchups that should set the table for solid fantasy production.
As the Pittsburgh Steelers have morphed from the smashmouth teams of the past into more of a passing offense, it has meant higher statistical output from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, as evidenced by the fact that the ninth-year pro is on pace to shatter his career-high for passing yardage in a season.
With that said, "Big Ben" has thrown only three touchdown passes versus two interceptions over his past three starts, but that should change this week against a Washington Redskins team that has allowed both the most touchdown passes and fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks so far this year.
Other Quarterbacks with Favorable Matchups: Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (at CLE), Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (at TEN)
Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte appeared to be fully over the sprained knee that hampered him earlier in the season in Chicago's win over the Detroit Lions on Monday night, racking up 100 total yards on 25 touches in the victory.
The fifth-year veteran has an excellent shot at making it two good games in a row this week when the Bears play host to the Carolina Panthers, who have surrendered the most fantasy points per game to opposing ball-carriers this year and who will be without starting middle linebacker Jon Beason.
Other Running Backs with Favorable Matchups: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. OAK), Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos (vs. NO)
Wide receiver Percy Harvin of the Minnesota Vikings has emerged as one of the key offensive components on a surprisingly good Vikings team in 2012, racking up 577 receiving yards and two touchdowns through seven games while pitching in another 73 yards and a score on the ground.
The fourth-year pro should continue his strong fourth NFL season on Thursday night when Minnesota squares off with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have been the third-friendliest fantasy matchup for opposing wideouts this season.
Other Wide Receivers with Favorable Matchups: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. WAS), Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys (vs. NYG)
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller is off to one of the best starts of his eight-year NFL career in 2012, as the 30-year-old has already reeled in five touchdown passes this season, more than in all of 2010 and 2011 combined.
The Washington Redskins have had all sorts of difficulties this year defending the pass. Those difficulties have extended to the tight end spot, as only one team in the NFL has given up more fantasy points per game to the position this season than Washington.
Other Tight Ends with Favorable Matchups: Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts (at TEN), Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers (at CHI)
The Arizona Cardinals have employed a little-known and seldom-used blocking technique along the offensive front this year: "The Matador."
As the defense charges, the linemen get out of the way, scream "OLE!" and the quarterback curls into the fetal position.
No team in the NFL has surrendered more sacks or fantasy points to opposing defenses, and quarterback John Skelton has now thrown at least one interception in 10 straight games.
In other words, it's a good week to start the San Francisco 49ers defense.
Other Defenses with Favorable Matchups: Atlanta Falcons (at PHI), Seattle Seahawks (at DET)