Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings: Breaking Down Best Options at Skill Positions

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistOctober 22, 2013

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 13:  Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions warms up before their game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 13, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

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
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Peyton ManningDenver BroncosWashington30
2Drew BreesNew Orleans SaintsBuffalo Bills26
3Aaron RodgersGreen Bay PackersMinnesota Vikings25
4Cam NewtonCarolina PanthersTampa Bay Buccaneers23
5Matt StaffordDetroit LionsDallas Cowboys22
6Robert Griffin IIIWashingtonDenver Broncos20
7Michael VickPhiladelphia EaglesNew York Giants19
8Tony RomoDallas CowboysDetroit Lions18
9Colin KaepernickSan Francisco 49ersJacksonville Jaguars17
10Russell WilsonSeattle SeahawksSt. Louis Rams17

Players M.I.A. This Week (Or Beyond): Jay Cutler, Jake Locker, Sam Bradford, Andrew Luck, Philip Rivers, Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub and Case Keenum

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. 

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 20:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after teammate Steve Smith's 800th career touchdown during play against of the St. Louis Rams at Bank of America Stadium on October 20, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panth
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

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. 

Running Backs

Week 8 Running Back Rankings
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Marshawn LynchSeattle SeahawksSt. Louis Rams26
2Adrian PetersonMinnesota VikingsGreen Bay Packers24
3Reggie BushDetroit LionsDallas Cowboys21
4Alfred MorrisWashingtonDenver Broncos19
5Knowshon MorenoDenver BroncosWashington18
6Eddie LacyGreen Bay PackersMinnesota Vikings17
7LeSean McCoyPhiladelphia EaglesNew York Giants16
8Frank GoreSan Francisco 49ersJacksonville Jaguars15
9Jamaal CharlesKansas City ChiefsCleveland Browns15
10Stevan RidleyNew England PatriotsMiami Dolphins14

Players M.I.A. This Week (Or Beyond): Matt Forte, Doug Martin, Chris Johnson, Trent Richardson, Ryan Mathews, Arian Foster, Danny Woodhead, Ray Rice, David Wilson

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. 

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 BroncosWashington17
6Jordy NelsonGreen Bay PackersMinnesota Vikings16
7DeSean JacksonPhiladelphia EaglesNew York Giants16
8A.J. GreenCincinnati BengalsNew York Jets15
9Wes WelkerDenver BroncosWashington14
10Antonio BrownPittsburgh SteelersOakland Raiders13

Players M.I.A. This Week (Or Beyond): Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Reggie Wayne, Keenan Allen, Torrey Smith, Andre Johnson, Randall Cobb

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.

Tight Ends

Week 8 Tight End Rankings
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Jimmy GrahamNew Orleans SaintsBuffalo Bills20
2Rob GronkowskiNew England PatriotsMiami Dolphins18
3Julius ThomasDenver BroncosWashington16
4Vernon DavisSan Francisco 49ersJacksonville Jaguars16
5Jason WittenDallas CowboysDetroit Lions14
6Jordan CameronCleveland BrownsKansas City Chiefs13
7Jordan ReedWashingtonDenver Broncos11
8Tony GonzalezAtlanta FalconsArizona Cardinals11
9Heath MillerPittsburgh SteelersOakland Raiders10
10Greg OlsenCarolina PanthersTampa Bay Buccaneers9

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. 

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