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Fantasy Football Week 8 Rankings: An Early Look Ahead

Oct 20, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) on the sidelines during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2013

This is when it gets tricky.

In the next two weeks, a total of 12 teams—six per week—will go on bye, removing a significant chunk of the player pool for fantasy owners. These are the weeks where the men and women are separated from the boys and girls, when the deeper teams thrive, when the playoff picture in leagues starts to take shape. 

Here, I've sifted through the thinned-out fantasy pool and found the players that will be the top stars for owners this week. If you find yourself without several of these studs, well, you might want to brace yourself for a tough week as the byes rear their ugly heads and take a bite out of your team.

Notes: All point totals for standard-scoring leagues. Points against stats via ESPN. The Chicago Bears, Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans on bye.

 

Quarterbacks

Week 8 Quarterback Rankings
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Peyton ManningDenver BroncosWashington Redskins30
2Drew BreesNew Orleans SaintsBuffalo Bills26
3Aaron RodgersGreen Bay PackersMinnesota Vikings25
4Cam NewtonCarolina PanthersTampa Bay Buccaneers23
5Matt StaffordDetroit LionsDallas Cowboys22
6Robert Griffin IIIWashington RedskinsDenver Broncos20
7Michael VickPhiladelphia EaglesNew York Giants19
8Tony RomoDallas CowboysDetroit Lions18
9Colin KaepernickSan Francisco 49ersJacksonville Jaguars17
10Russell WilsonSeattle SeahawksSt. Louis Rams17

 

Quarterback Notes

Last week, I dropped Peyton Manning to fourth on these rankings—the first time I haven't ranked him the top overall quarterback (heading into Monday night in standard-scoring leagues, he has the fourth-most points amongst quarterbacks—booyah!).

This week, with Washington's shoddy secondary awaiting Manning and the league's most dangerous passing game, he returns to No. 1. Just how good should Manning fare? Well, Washington gave up 15 fantasy points to Josh McCown in relief duty this Sunday.

It's gonna get ugly.

Of course, Robert Griffin III should fare pretty well against a Denver defense that has allowed opposing quarterbacks to score 18 or more fantasy points in five of seven weeks as well. 

Assuming Michael Vick is healthy, he should once again make fantasy owners happy against the New York Giants, currently giving up 22 points to opposing quarterbacks. In one half against the Giants before leaving due to injury in Week 5, Vick registered 11 fantasy points.

The most notable name left off here is Matt Ryan, though he wasn't included mostly because players like Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson have better matchups. But even without Julio Jones and Roddy White, Ryan proved he's still a consistent fantasy quarterback, so look for him to put up 15 or so fantasy points against the Arizona Cardinals.

 

Running Backs

Week 8 Running Back Rankings
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Marshawn LynchSeattle SeahawksSt. Louis Rams26
2Adrian PetersonMinnesota VikingsGreen Bay Packers24
3Reggie BushDetroit LionsDallas Cowboys21
4Alfred MorrisWashington RedskinsDenver Broncos19
5Knowshon MorenoDenver BroncosWashington Redskins18
6Eddie LacyGreen Bay PackersMinnesota Vikings17
7LeSean McCoyPhiladelphia EaglesNew York Giants16
8Frank GoreSan Francisco 49ersJacksonville Jaguars15
9Jamal CharlesKansas City ChiefsCleveland Browns15
10Stevan RidleyNew England PatriotsMiami Dolphins14

 

Running Back Notes

Oct 20, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) catches a pass and runs for yardage during the first half of the game against the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It has become absurd how consistent Jamaal Charles has been this season. After seven games, he has yet to score less than 15 fantasy points. Only Matt Forte comes close in the consistency department at running back—seven games of double-digit points—and only Ryan duplicates the feat at any other position.

Even Manning had a 14-point week. It's pretty astonishing how good Charles has been. 

Yes, Stevan Ridley is back amongst the RB1s this week. He now has 33 fantasy points the past two weeks (compiling 146 rushing yards and three touchdowns). With Rob Gronkowski back in action, the New England offense should get a general bump in productivity.

The Dolphins have given up 16 or more fantasy points to opposing running backs in five straight games, so Ridley should get his.

Beyond that, in a week with six teams on bye—and running backs like Forte, Arian Foster, Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, Trent Richardson, Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead unavailable—this is the week to trust your regulars at the position and avoid getting too cute when setting those lineups. 

 

Wide Receivers

Week 8 Wide Receiver Rankings
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Calvin JohnsonDetroit LionsDallas Cowboys24
2Victor CruzNew York GiantsPhiladelphia Eagles22
3Vincent JacksonTampa Bay BuccaneersCarolina Panthers20
4Dez BryantDallas CowboysDetroit Lions19
5Demaryius ThomasDenver BroncosWashington Redskins17
6Jordy NelsonGreen Bay PackersMinnesota Vikings16
7DeSean JacksonPhiladelphia EaglesNew York Giants16
8A.J. GreenCincinnati BengalsNew York Jets15
9Wes WelkerDenver BroncosWashington14
10Antonio BrownPittsburgh SteelersOakland Raiders13

 

Wide Receiver Notes

Any concerns about Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green can be put to rest. Megatron posted nine receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns on 15 targets in Week 7, while Green has totaled 37 fantasy points the past two weeks. 

In general, the top wide receivers have really promising matchups.

A tussle between the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions should end up being a shootout that bodes well for both teams' fantasy studs. All three of the Denver Broncos' wide receivers should have a nice afternoon against a porous Washington secondary. DeSean Jackson should get back on track against a Giants defense that allows 24.5 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers per week. 

Any concerns about Vincent Jackson's productivity dropping with Mike Glennon at quarterback can be thrown down the garbage disposal. Since the Week 5 bye, Jackson has 19 receptions for 252 yards and four touchdowns. 

Don't expect the Panthers to end the good times. 

 

Tight Ends

Week 8 Tight End Rankings
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Jimmy GrahamNew Orleans SaintsBuffalo Bills20
2Rob GronkowskiNew England PatriotsMiami Dolphins18
3Julius ThomasDenver BroncosWashington Redskins16
4Vernon DavisSan Francisco 49ersJacksonville Jaguars16
5Jason WittenDallas CowboysDetroit Lions14
6Jordan CameronCleveland BrownsKansas City Chiefs13
7Jordan ReedWashington RedskinsDenver Broncos11
8Tony GonzalezAtlanta FalconsArizona Cardinals11
9Heath MillerPittsburgh SteelersOakland Raiders10
10Greg OlsenCarolina PanthersTampa Bay Buccaneers9

 

Tight End Notes

Oct 20, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) warms up before their game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

While one bad week doesn't warrant Jimmy Graham losing his place atop these rankings, the return of Rob Gronkowski could make things interesting. Gronk came back in style, with eight receptions for 114 yards on 17 targets.

Considering he's been a touchdown-monster in his career, that usage should seem him post huge numbers once he gets into the end zone. 

Julius Thomas continues to produce, with eight touchdowns on the year and six weeks with eight or more fantasy points. He's clearly became a vital target in the red zone for Manning, and he's now firmly in the elite group of fantasy producers at the position alongside Graham and Gronk.

It's time to start seriously considering Jordan Reed as a regular starter in deeper leagues. In the past two weeks he's notched 14 receptions for 192 yards and a touchdown, providing a consistent weapon for RG3 in Washington's improving offense.   

 

Defense/Special Teams

Defense/Special Teams Rankings
RankTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Kansas City ChiefsCleveland Browns17
2Seattle SeahawksSt. Louis Rams16
3New England PatriotsMiami Dolphins15
4San Francisco 49ersJacksonville Jaguars15
5Cincinnati BengalsNew York Jets13
6Pittsburgh SteelersOakland Raiders12
7Carolina PanthersTampa Bay Buccaneers11
8Green Bay PackersMinnesota Vikings10
9New York JetsCincinnati Bengals10
10Dallas CowboysDetroit Lions9

 

Defense/Special Team Notes

Oct 17, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman in the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Death, taxes, the defenses of the Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks providing double-digit fantasy points for owners and people overusing the "death and taxes" cliche—these are life's certainties. 

Both defenses have only dipped below double-digit fantasy points once this season, and neither team has scored less than eight points. That level of consistency makes both units extremely valuable to fantasy owners. 

The San Francisco 49ers are a great start against the Jacksonville Jaguars—plus, the Niners have registered eight or more fantasy points in five of the last six weeks—while both the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets are a strong start in a game that should be a defensive battle. 

And yes, with six teams on bye this week, the Dallas Cowboys are worth considering as a spot start. They've posted 26 total points the past two weeks against Washington and Philadelphia, so something is clicking in Dallas. 

 

Kickers

Week 8 Kicker Rankings
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Matt PraterDenver BroncosWashington Redskins16
2Steven HauschkaSeattle SeahawksSt. Louis Rams16
3Garrett HartleyNew Orleans SaintsBuffalo Bills15
4Stephen GostkowskiNew England PatriotsMiami Dolphins14
5Shaun SuishamPittsburgh SteelersOakland Raiders13
6Alex HeneryPhiladelphia EaglesNew York Giants12
7Dan CarpenterBuffalo BillsNew Orleans Saints11
8Phil DawsonSan Francisco 49ersJacksonville Jaguars10
9Mason CrosbyGreen Bay PackersMinnesota Vikings10
10Blair WalshMinnesota VikingsGreen Bay Packers9

  

Kicker Notes

Aug 9, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA;New Orleans Saints kicker Garrett Hartley (5) before a preseason  game against the Kansas City Chiefs at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

At this point, consistent kickers like Matt Prater, Steven Hauschka and Garrett Hartley should be started every week. If you don't have a top-10 kicker, go get one—don't be the guy giving up double-digit points per week because you think kickers are lame.  

 

Hit me up on Twitter—I'll answer your fantasy lineup questions and commiserate with you over underachieving players. It's all the fun of the NFL, but without the concussions. 

Follow TRappaRT on Twitter

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