Fantasy Football Rankings: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em for Week 8
Not only did Josh Freeman become the first Bucs' quarterback to throw for three-plus touchdowns in three consecutive games, but Doug Martin had the best game of his professional life on Thursday night.
Martin rushed 29 times for 135 yards, both career highs, and had three receptions for 79 yards. He scored two touchdowns in the win as well.
With 32 fantasy points (or 33.4 points if your league awards fractional points), it's possible that Martin will finish as the week's highest-scoring fantasy running back.
Over his past three games, Martin has run the ball well. During that span, he has 296 rushing yards on 58 carries (5.1 yards per carry) plus eight receptions for 171 yards and a total of three touchdowns.
With one game already in the books, let's turn our attention to the remainder of games this week.
Here are some players to consider starting in Week 8:
QB Andrew Luck, Colts (at TEN)
Although Luck has failed to throw a passing touchdown in back-to-back games, he ran for two scores last week against the Browns. In fact, he has run for three touchdowns in the past three weeks and that is an underrated skill of Luck. On the season, he has 20 rushes for 115 yards for an average of 5.8 yards per rush.
In their seven games this season, the Titans have allowed six quarterbacks to throw multiple touchdowns. The one exception was Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for 363 yards against them.
QB Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (vs WAS)
Speaking of Roethlisberger, he has a favorable matchup against the league's worst-ranked pass defense. Aside from Josh Freeman, who had 299 passing yards, the Redskins have allowed a 300-yard passer in all six of their other games this season.
RB Willis McGahee, Broncos (vs NO)
With the exception of the Bills, who are on bye this week, no team has allowed more rushing yards per game than the Saints (161.0). In addition, they have allowed a running back to finish with double-digit fantasy points in every game this season.
Although he has averaged under four yards per carry in three of his past four games, McGahee has become more of a receiver recently. In his past three games, he has totaled 15 receptions for 116 yards as well.
RB Rashad Jennings, Jaguars (at GB)
Jennings averaged only 2.1 yards per carry last week against the Raiders. That said, Jennings still had a productive fantasy performance on his 28 touches. He finished with 102 yards from scrimmage (44 rushing and 58 receiving) and scored a touchdown.
Although he does not have a great matchup this week against the Packers, I expect Jennings to get a ton of work for an offense that lacks many weapons.
RB Alex Green, Packers (vs JAX)
Since the injury to Cedric Benson in Week 5, Green has become the team's workhorse back. He hasn't been terribly productive (100 rushing yards on 42 carries in the past two weeks), but I expect him to get close to the 20-plus carries he has had against Houston and St. Louis.
Compared to the Rams and Texans, though, the Jaguars provide a much more fantasy-friendly matchup for running backs. Only three teams have allowed more rushing yards per game than the Jags.
WR Eric Decker, Broncos (vs NO)
As bad as the Saints are against the run, they are just as bad against the pass. Only the Redskins have allowed more receiving yards per game than the Saints (319.0) this season.
Decker has scored in three consecutive weeks and has 25 receptions for 334 yards in his past four games. Both Demaryius Thomas and Decker should have big weeks in a game that is expected to be a shootout (over/under is 55 points).
WR James Jones, Packers (vs JAX)
For the first time in the past four weeks, Jones failed to score two touchdowns (or even one touchdown). That said, he set a season high with six receptions and had his fourth game with 50-plus receiving yards this season.
Considering Aaron Rodgers has thrown a total of 16 touchdowns in the past four weeks and Greg Jennings is still out, Jones has a great chance to score again.
WR Lance Moore, Saints (at DEN)
As noted above, the Broncos-Saints game should be a shootout at Mile High Stadium. All four of the main receivers in this game are in my top-24 rankings at receiver for the week.
Although he has only two touchdowns this season, Moore has seen his yards-per-game average nearly double to 81.6 this season. In four of the five games he has played, Moore had at least 67 receiving yards and he set season highs last week with nine receptions for 121 yards.
TE Dustin Keller, Jets (vs MIA)
The Dolphins have not been terribly friendly (or unfriendly) to fantasy tight ends this year. Considering the lack of receiving threats in the Jets offense, however, Keller should be heavily targeted again this week. Keller had seven receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots last week.
Now on to some players to consider sitting in Week 8:
QB Cam Newton, Panthers (at CHI)
Newton has received plenty of negative attention for comments he made in a press conference after last week's loss. Although he called out the team's offensive coordinator in the process, Newton and the offense in general have struggled mightily this season. Only four teams have lower scoring totals than the Panthers this season.
The Bears have allowed a league-low six passing touchdowns while also intercepting a league-high 14 passes. In other words, this may not be the week that Newton and the offense get back on track.
QB Matthew Stafford, Lions (vs SEA)
Along with the Bears and a couple of other teams, the Seahawks are tied for allowing a league-low six passing touchdowns. Currently, the Seahawks rank eighth in the league in passing defense (212.3 yards per game allowed).
Stafford is tied with Matt Schaub for 14th in fantasy points among quarterbacks this season and he has yet to throw for more than one touchdown in a game. Like with Newton against the Bears, this may not be the matchup that allows Stafford to get back on track.
RB Steven Jackson, Rams (at NE)
In seven games this season, Jackson has only one game with more than 58 rushing yards and that was 76 yards in Week 5. Jackson has only 12 carries in each of the past two games and there is a good chance that he will no longer get the 20 or so carries he used to receive on a weekly basis with the emergence of Darryl Richardson.
Richardson has 28 carries in the past three games and has as many receptions (10) as Jackson this season. In addition, Richardson has run the ball well averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
The Rams have a tough matchup on the ground against the Patriots this week. Only Ray Rice in Week 3 had more than 54 rushing yards against them this season.
RB Donald Brown and Vick Ballard, Colts (at TEN)
Although Ballard has a favorable matchup against the Titans, Donald Brown has returned to practice as a full participant on Wednesday. With a larger workload (20 carries and one reception), Ballard was more productive last week as he finished one yard shy of 100 yards.
This week, Brown should put a dent into his workload and it's possible that neither back takes advantage of the favorable matchup due to splitting the workload.
RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, Cardinals (vs SF)
After a career-high 104 yards against the tough Vikings defense last week, Stephens-Howling gets an even tougher matchup this week against the 49ers. Like the Vikings, the 49ers have uncharacteristically allowed 100-yard rushers in back-to-back games to Ahmad Bradshaw and Marshawn Lynch. With the exception of Bradshaw, no other running back has scored a touchdown against the 49ers.
WR Brandon Lloyd, Patriots (at STL)
Despite eight targets, Lloyd had a season-worst performance against the Jets last week. He finished the game with one reception for only six yards. I would expect Lloyd (knee) to play this week, but he was on the injury report as a limited participant.
Except for last week's matchup against the red-hot Packers pass offense, the Rams had allowed receivers to catch only two touchdown passes in their previous six games combined.
WR Steve Smith, Panthers (at CHI)
Through six games, Smith has 28 receptions for 471 yards. Although those numbers are solid, he has no touchdowns this season. As noted above, the Bears pass defense is one of the league's best, which puts Smith on my bench this week.
WR Brian Hartline, Dolphins (at NYJ)
A few weeks back, Hartline set the Dolphins franchise record with 253 receiving yards against the Cardinals. Against the Rams before the bye, Hartline had his worst performance (no receptions on no targets) this year.
Before that goose egg, Hartline's worst performance was his first matchup against the Jets when he had only one reception. I expect to see a lot of Reggie Bush against a Jets' defense that has struggled against the run, which means Hartline might have another subdued performance.
TE Jermichael Finley, Packers (vs JAX)
The Jaguars have yet to allow a receiving touchdown to opposing tight ends and only the Colts and Cardinals, Green Bay's opponent next week, have allowed fewer fantasy points to the position this season.
Finley has only one touchdown all season and he scored it in Week 1. Over the past three weeks, he has a total of seven receptions for 54 yards.
Note: All injury designations and practice participation referenced above are via NFL.com's injury page.
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