Fantasy Football: Jason Witten Headlines Sunday 'Dream Team' for Week 8

Jay Clemons@ATL_JayClemonsFantasy Sports Lead WriterOctober 29, 2012

Fantasy Football: Jason Witten Headlines Sunday 'Dream Team' for Week 8

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    The following countdown touts the 15 most decorated fantasy stars from the Sunday portion of NFL Week 8 (standard-scoring leagues).

    This week's list includes one sack-loving defense, two all-world tight ends, three under-25 receivers, four elite quarterbacks and five running backs who gleefully grabbed the fantasy spotlight during the bye weeks for Arian Foster, Ray Rice, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.

    If this was a points-per-reception countdown, Steve Smith (seven catches, 116 yards), Cecil Shorts (eight catches, 116 yards) and Miles Austin (nine catches, 133 yards) likely would have clinched spots, as well.

    Finally, there are no kickers in this week's salute to excellence. Maybe next time.

    Enjoy the show!

Quarterback: Tom Brady, New England Patriots

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    Sunday Stats: 304 Yards Passing, 4 TD 

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. Tom Brady became the first quarterback in NFL regular season history to post multiple outings of 300 yards passing in London games.

    2. The Brady-led Patriots have amassed 350 total yards for 17 straight games—breaking the 1999-2000 Rams' old NFL record.

    3. For the season, Brady is a perfect 8-of-8 in collecting either 300 yards passing and/or multiple touchdowns.

    4. In the Patriots' last two games against Jeff Fisher-coached teams, Brady and Co. have outscored the opposition 104-7 (including New England's 59-0 whitewashing of Tennessee in 2009).

Quarterback: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

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    Sunday Stats: 305 Yards Passing, 3 TD 

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. Peyton Manning decisively trumped Drew Brees in a nationally televised showcase of no-brainer Hall of Fame quarterbacks.

    2. Manning targeted his two favorite wideouts (Demaryius Thomas/Eric Decker) 15 times for 11 catches, 180 yards and three touchdowns.

    3. In a 31-minute span covering the second, third and fourth quarters, the Manning-led Broncos scored 27 unanswered points to clinch the surprisingly easy win over the Saints.

Quarterback: Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

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    Sunday Stats: 437 Yards Passing, 2 Total TD 

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. Tony Romo passed for the third-most single-game yards (437) in Cowboys history—the majority of which came after Dallas fell into a 23-0 hole.

    2. Thanks to Romo, three different pass-catchers (Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin) finished with 100-plus yards receiving.

    3. Witten, Romo's favorite target, established a new Cowboys record for catches in a single game.

    4. Romo was one Dez Bryant hand away from notching one of the greatest comeback wins in franchise history.

Quarterback: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

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    Sunday Stats: 352 Yards Passing, 4 Total TD

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. Matthew Stafford had his best game of the season, from the perspectives of total yards (364) and touchdowns (four).

    2. Stafford had more touchdown passes in the second quarter (two) than any full game from Weeks 1-7.

    3. On a day when Calvin Johnson caught only three passes for 46 yards, Stafford still registered 352 yards passing, a 101.7 passer rating and 69 percent completion mark.

    4. Through seven games, Stafford already has four outings of 300 yards passing.

Running Back: Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks

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    Sunday Stats: 106 Total Yards (105 Rushing), 1 TD 

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. Through eight games, Marshawn Lynch now has four outings of 100 yards rushing. Sunday's game also served as the fourth time he's cracked the century mark in consecutive weeks.

    2. Lynch's 77-yard scoring run in the second quarter was the longest of his six-year career. 

    3. Of Lynch's 15 best outings as a pro (including the Buffalo days), Sunday was the most efficient of the bunch. The Seahawks star touched the ball only 13 times against Detroit.

Running Back: Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders

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    Sunday Stats: 137 Total Yards (114 Rushing)

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. Darren McFadden had his best rushing output of the season, eclipsing his Week 3 production by one yard.

    2. McFadden's 137 total yards were also a seasonal best.

    3. In odd-numbered games (four), McFadden has accrued 100 total yards and/or one touchdown each time.

Running Back: Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos

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    Sunday Stats: 155 Total Yards (122 Rushing), 1 TD  

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. Willis McGahee steamrolled the Saints' submissive defense for 155 total yards—his best yardage day since Week 9 of last year (163 vs. Oakland).

    2. McGahee's 20 receptions in 2012 are way above last year's total (12)—a subtle representation of the Broncos' major upgrade at quarterback (from Tim Tebow to Peyton Manning).

    3. On a night when the Broncos collected 29 first downs and 530 total yards, McGahee stealthily accounted for 29 percent of the offense.

Running Back: Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns

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    Sunday Stats: 134 Total Yards (122 Rushing), 1 TD 

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. It's rare for a 7-6 clunker to produce a fantasy All-Star, but Trent Richardson deserves significant props for his big day against the Chargers.

    2. On Sunday, Richardson posted seasonal/career highs in rushing yards (122) and touches (25).

    3. Richardson's lineman-assisted 26-yard scoring run in the first quarter might be the Browns' top individual highlight to date.

    4. Through eight games, Richardson already has five outings of 100 total yards, one touchdown and/or double-digit fantasy points.

Running Back: Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots

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    Sunday Stats: 127 Rushing Yards, 1 TD 

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. Stevan Ridley rolled the Rams for 127 yards—the second-best rushing day of his young career.

    2. How's this for consistency: Of Ridley's four games of 100-plus yards this season, he has scored at least one touchdown every time.

Wide Receiver: Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

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    Sunday Stats: 5 Catches, 123 Yards, 1 TD 

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. Julio Jones required only five targets to post his second 100-yard receiving game of the season.

    2. Check out Jones' absurd trend in odd-numbered games: 26 catches, 392 yards and five touchdowns for per-outing averages of 6.5 catches, 98 yards and 1.25 TDs.

    Incidentally, all four of these games occurred on the road.

Wide Receiver: Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos

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    Sunday Stats: 7 Catches, 137 Yards, 1 TD  

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. Through seven games, Demaryius Thomas already has four outings of at least one touchdown and 100 yards receiving.

    2. Thomas required only nine Peyton Manning targets to register his second-best fantasy day of 2012.

    3. The Broncos receiver is now on pace for 80-plus catches and 1,200 yards. He's an outside candidate for double-digit touchdowns as well.

    4. Thomas justified a certain fantasy guru's No. 1 ranking for the week. Whew!

Wide Receiver: Titus Young, Detroit Lions

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    Sunday Stats: 9 Catches, 100 Yards, 2 TD 

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. Titus Young admirably filled the shoes of injured Nate Burleson (done for the season), catching all nine of his targeted balls for two touchdowns.

    2. Young's second score—a one-yard TD pass from Matthew Stafford with 20 seconds left—clinched the Lions' third victory of the season.

    3. Sunday's thrilling win marked the first 100-yard game of Young's career. It was also his second outing of multiple touchdowns (Week 17 vs. Green Bay last year).

    4. Young led the Lions in receptions, tripling the output of Calvin Johnson.

Tight End: Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

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    Sunday Stats: 8 Catches, 146 Yards, 2 TD 

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. Rob Gronkowski posted seasonal highs in catches, yards and targets (13) in the Patriots' 45-7 demolition of the Rams.

    2. From the perspective of standard-scoring leagues (during the regular season), Sunday marked Gronk's second-most prolific fantasy day of his career (26.6 points). 

    3. Through 44 career games (including the playoffs), Gronkowski has amazingly notched multiple touchdowns in back-to-back outings five times. Five times!

    4. Gronkowski has reclaimed his August/September standing as the No. 1 tight end in fantasy, regardless of scoring.

Tight End: Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys

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    Sunday Stats: 18 Catches, 167 Yards 

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. Jason Witten broke new ground on Sunday, racking up the most receptions (18) and targets (22) of any NFL playmaker this season—regardless of position.

    2. Witten now owns the NFL single-game record for catches among tight ends.

    3. Witten's 167 receiving yards were the most of any tight end in 2012.

    4. The Cowboys racked up 434 total yards and 28 first downs against the Giants, with Witten accounting for 38 percent of the offense.

Defense/Special Teams: New York Giants

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    Sunday Highlights

    1. The Giants (16 D/ST fantasy points) sacked Tony Romo four times.

    2. New York forced six Dallas turnovers on the day.

    3. The Giants held the Cowboys to 19 rushing yards—or 1.1 per carry.

    4. Jason Pierre-Paul (above, right) had a 28-yard pick-six off Romo, giving New York a short-lived 23-0 lead.