Week 8 is going to be potentially rough for fantasy owners. Not only are six teams on a bye, but countless fantasy stars were injured on Sunday.
In one league, I had a team with Doug Martin, Reggie Wayne, Jermichael Finley (all three potentially lost for the season) and Jay Cutler (out at least four weeks). Oh, and I also have Matt Forte on a bye. That team is now in pretty dire straits (though thankfully I at least have Matt Ryan at quarterback and Jimmy Graham at tight end) and probably isn't going to win this week.
But we all get hit with injuries, and we've all got to keep on keeping on. And remember, this is just fantasy football—we all wish those players a speedy and safe recovery from their respective injuries.
Here, I'll provide a look at this week's rankings for the skill-position players and list all of the players that will be missing in action.
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 are on bye.
|Week 8 Quarterback Rankings|
|1||Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos||Washington||30|
|2||Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints||Buffalo Bills||26|
|3||Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay Packers||Minnesota Vikings||25|
|4||Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||23|
|5||Matt Stafford||Detroit Lions||Dallas Cowboys||22|
|6||Robert Griffin III||Washington||Denver Broncos||20|
|7||Michael Vick||Philadelphia Eagles||New York Giants||19|
|8||Tony Romo||Dallas Cowboys||Detroit Lions||18|
|9||Colin Kaepernick||San Francisco 49ers||Jacksonville Jaguars||17|
|10||Russell Wilson||Seattle Seahawks||St. Louis Rams||17|
Analysis: With the exception of Luck and Rivers, most of the top options will not only be in action this week, but also presented with some juicy matchups. Of the players in my top 10 at the position, only Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick face defenses that are ranked better than No. 20 in pass defense.
And remember, Newton faces the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a defense that allowed Nick Foles and Matt Ryan to combine for 51 fantasy points the past two weeks, while Kaepernick takes on the Jacksonville Jaguars.
I don't think I need to go into much more detail about why that's a great matchup for Kaepernick, but here goes—the Jags stink.
Oh, and Matt Ryan is essentially 10b on this list against the Arizona Cardinals. I like Wilson's matchup just a bit more, but I would understand if you had both Ryan and Wilson and went with the Atlanta man. It's a close call.
|Week 8 Running Back Rankings|
|1||Marshawn Lynch||Seattle Seahawks||St. Louis Rams||26|
|2||Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings||Green Bay Packers||24|
|3||Reggie Bush||Detroit Lions||Dallas Cowboys||21|
|4||Alfred Morris||Washington||Denver Broncos||19|
|5||Knowshon Moreno||Denver Broncos||Washington||18|
|6||Eddie Lacy||Green Bay Packers||Minnesota Vikings||17|
|7||LeSean McCoy||Philadelphia Eagles||New York Giants||16|
|8||Frank Gore||San Francisco 49ers||Jacksonville Jaguars||15|
|9||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs||Cleveland Browns||15|
|10||Stevan Ridley||New England Patriots||Miami Dolphins||14|
Analysis: No other position was as thin coming into Week 7 as running back, and no position will be as painfully thin coming out of it. At least nine players worth starting won't be in action this week, a major blow for fantasy owners.
Chances are, you are going to have to start a running back facing a bad matchup. Gio Bernard versus the New York Jets? Start him. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, Buffalo's pair of value vultures? Start them. Maurice Jones-Drew against the San Francisco 49ers or Zac Stacy against the Seattle Seahawks?
Well, okay, maybe we have to draw the line somewhere.
If you have one of the top 10 options this week, you'll probably be fine. If you have two of them, there's a good chance you'll win, because running back is going to be a mess in Week 8.
|Week 8 Wide Receiver Rankings|
|1||Calvin Johnson||Detroit Lions||Dallas Cowboys||24|
|2||Victor Cruz||New York Giants||Philadelphia Eagles||22|
|3||Vincent Jackson||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Carolina Panthers||20|
|4||Dez Bryant||Dallas Cowboys||Detroit Lions||19|
|5||Demaryius Thomas||Denver Broncos||Washington||17|
|6||Jordy Nelson||Green Bay Packers||Minnesota Vikings||16|
|7||DeSean Jackson||Philadelphia Eagles||New York Giants||16|
|8||A.J. Green||Cincinnati Bengals||New York Jets||15|
|9||Wes Welker||Denver Broncos||Washington||14|
|10||Antonio Brown||Pittsburgh Steelers||Oakland Raiders||13|
Analysis: Sanity returned to this position in Week 7, with Calvin Johnson, Vincent Jackson, A.J. Green and Demaryius Thomas all finishing in the top 10 at the position, alongside a familiar face like Eric Decker.
Meanwhile, surrogates for their talented but injured counterparts in Atlanta (Harry Douglas scored 20 fantasy points with Jones and Roddy White sidelined) and Green Bay (Jarrett Boykin scored 16 points with Cobb and James Jones out) replicated familiar levels of production at the position for those teams.
With Wayne out, it may be time to hope Darrius Heyward-Bey can follow suit, at least when the Colts return to action in Week 9 after their bye.
Like the running back position, trust your studs. The only potentially surprising name in these rankings is Antonio Brown, and he has a very tasty matchup against the Oakland Raiders.
Don't worry if one of the superstars has a tough matchup—as Megatron proved this week against the Bengals, it's better to roll with a safe commodity than put all your money on one risky wideout and hope the fantasy roulette wheel beats the odds and lands on him.
Hence the lack of surprises in the wide receivers rankings.
|Week 8 Tight End Rankings|
|1||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints||Buffalo Bills||20|
|2||Rob Gronkowski||New England Patriots||Miami Dolphins||18|
|3||Julius Thomas||Denver Broncos||Washington||16|
|4||Vernon Davis||San Francisco 49ers||Jacksonville Jaguars||16|
|5||Jason Witten||Dallas Cowboys||Detroit Lions||14|
|6||Jordan Cameron||Cleveland Browns||Kansas City Chiefs||13|
|7||Jordan Reed||Washington||Denver Broncos||11|
|8||Tony Gonzalez||Atlanta Falcons||Arizona Cardinals||11|
|9||Heath Miller||Pittsburgh Steelers||Oakland Raiders||10|
|10||Greg Olsen||Carolina Panthers||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||9|
Players M.I.A. This Week (Or Beyond): Martellus Bennett, Antonio Gates, Jermichael Finley, Coby Fleener, Owen Daniels, Garrett Graham
Analysis: Definitive tiers have formed at the tight position this season.
In the Elite Tier, we have Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski and Julius Thomas. In the Excellent Tier, we have Jordan Cameron, Vernon Davis and Tony Gonzalez. In the Viable Starter Tier, we have Antonio Gates, Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett, Charles Clay and Jermichael Finley. And finally, we get to the Everyone Else Tier.
If you have to dip into the Everyone Else Tier this week, you could be in some trouble. Go out and get an up-and-coming player like Jordan Reed from Washington if he's available.
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.