The process of filling out a fantasy lineup gets more tricky during a busy stretch of byes, which is the case starting in Week 8. A total of 12 teams will sit out over the next two weeks, making the lineup decisions owners make even more important.
Whether that means surfing the waiver wire or digging deep on the bench, fringe fantasy players are going to have a bigger impact on outcomes in the coming weeks than any other point in the season, so it's a key period of weeks, especially as playoff races begin.
Let's take a look at where some of the players up for debate heading into Week 8 should fall. It's followed by a closer examination of tough calls fantasy owners will have to make.
Start 'Em or Sit 'Em
|Week 8 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em|
|Position||Start 'Em||Sit 'Em|
|QB||Eli Manning (NYG)||Alex Smith (KC)|
|RB||Darren McFadden (OAK)||Bilal Powell (NYJ)|
|WR||Jarrett Boykin (GB)||Julian Edelman (NE)|
|TE||Jordan Reed (WSH)||Brandon Myers (NYG)|
|K||Garrett Hartley (NO)||Blair Walsh (MIN)|
|D||Carolina Panthers||Dallas Cowboys|
|Fantasy Week 8|
Analysis of Tough Calls
Start: Eli Manning (New York Giants)
It's become tougher to trust Manning as a fantasy starter with each passing week. He scored 28 points in standard leagues in the season-opener but hasn't topped 15 since and has failed to top the 10-point mark three times already.
Yet, a matchup with the 31st-ranked Philadelphia Eagles pass defense is hard to ignore. When the teams played three weeks ago, Manning racked up more than 330 yards and two touchdowns. Those are the type of numbers owners want to see from him more often.
The rematch should be another high-scoring affair with plenty of possessions for both side. Even though Manning is nothing more than a matchup play from here on out, he should put up starter-level numbers in Week 8.
Start: Darren McFadden (Oakland Raiders)
McFadden opened the season with three straight double-digit fantasy performances. For a running back who's struggled with consistency throughout his career, it appeared the Raiders' playmakers might finally be turning a corner.
Instead, he's faded over the past three games. He missed one with a hamstring injury and tallied just 10 total points in the other two. The lack of production moved him back onto the fantasy fringe, forcing owners to make a weekly decision on his status rather than automatically inserting him in the lineup.
Two things are working in his favor for Week 8. First, the Pittsburgh Steelers rank 19th against the run at nearly 110 yards against per game. Also, the Raiders are coming off a bye which gave him a chance to heal up. He should carry at least No. 2 running back value for the week.
Sit: Julian Edelman (New England Patriots)
Rob Gronkowski wasted little time making an impact in his return for the Patriots. The talented tight tend caught eight passes for 114 yards. He was targeted an eye-popping 17 times by Tom Brady, showcasing his key role in the offense.
Edelman, who leads the team in targets for the season, saw just seven passes thrown in his direction last week. He caught five for 44 yards. Those numbers aren't good enough to count on him, especially since he hasn't caught a touchdown since Week 1.
New England's offense should begin to transform itself in the coming weeks. Gronkowski isn't likely to see nearly 20 targets per game, but fantasy owners are best off keeping the team's wideouts on the bench until it becomes clear what type of role Edelman and Co. will play.