Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 8: Last-Minute Plays for Critical Matchups

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistOctober 27, 2013

Oct 13, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) scores on a 75 yard touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The arrival of Sunday means more hair-pulling decisions that require savvy fantasy football owners to make the right move before the clamps are placed on lineups around the country.

Week 8 is a simpler week than most, with fantasy studs and duds having already made themselves known. Now lineups, especially of the last-minute variety, come down to simple matchup analysis, where the key is simple—don't overthink it.

If that's not comforting, try below, where owners can find a last-minute guide to some of the more difficult decisions that dot the Week 8 schedule.


Start 'Em: Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals vs. New York Jets

Oct 20, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) throws a pass to wide receiver A.J. Green (not pictured) for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA T

It's official—Andy Dalton can be trusted as a viable fantasy option each week.

After weeks of dabbling in mediocrity—in a fake-football and real sense—the coaching staff has simplified things for Dalton in Cincinnati and instead relies on the TCU product's playmakers to do the bulk of the work.

The result? A total of 709 yards and six touchdowns the last two weeks.

Dalton does not have an easy matchup against the New York Jets, who held Tom Brady without a touchdown a week ago (not the rare feat it used to be), but the Bengals have more weapons than New York can account for, and Dalton will produce like a high-end No. 1 quarterback.


Sit 'Em: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Oakland Raiders

Chalk up Ben Roethlisberger as the polar opposite to Dalton—it may be time to abandon ship entirely.

Pittsburgh has won two straight, but Roethlisberger did not do enough from a fantasy perspective to keep a grip on a roster spot in most leagues, as he threw for just 160 yards and a score.

So far, Roethlisberger has managed over 20 fantasy points this season once. Whether it's a lack of weapons or a cohesive game plan, something is off in Pittsburgh, and Roethlisberger's fantasy status is on the downswing.

Now Big Ben has a date with a defense that gives up just over 17 fantasy points to the position per game. Stay away.


Start 'Em: Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings

Oct 20, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) rushes with the football as Cleveland Browns linebacker Paul Kruger (99) dives from behind during the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field.  Green Bay won 31-13.  Mandatory Credit

Despite his rookie status, Eddie Lacy is a surefire No. 1 fantasy back each and every week the rest of the way.

But that's especially the case here in Week 8.

Lacy has piled up over 20 touches in three straight contests now that he's healthy and the rest of team isn't, so Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel expects Green Bay to rely on Lacy even more in the coming weeks.

It gets better—Lacy faces the Minnesota defense in Week 8, which as a whole is the worst in the NFL against running backs from a fantasy perspective, as it gives up an average of 22.93 points to the position per week.

Lacy is a sure thing.


Sit 'Em: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots

Sep 15, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller (26) scores a touchdown during the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, Lamar Miller was nothing more than a change-of-pace back for the Miami Dolphins.

Until that changes, Miller rides the fantasy pine.

Miller gained just 43 yards on the ground in nine attempts, with 30 coming in one major scamper. He also had four yards through the air on one reception while supposed backup Daniel Thomas saw just four fewer snaps than Miller overall, per Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald.

There's a good matchup here for Miller against New England, but it appears the committee approach has ruined another pair of running backs in the fantasy realm. It's impossible to tell on a weekly basis who will see more touches in Miami, so they both sit.


Start 'Em: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals vs. Atlanta Falcons

Remember the good old days when owners could ignore Larry Fitzgerald each week regardless of matchup, a la Calvin Johnson?

It's time for a flash of nostalgia, because Fitzgerald is a very safe play this week against Atlanta.

While he has been hobbled with hamstring woes all season (and a mediocre quarterback behind an even worse line), Fitzgerald had a 10-day break after a whooping on Thursday Night Football, so any nagging issues should be behind him.

This comes just in time, as the Atlanta Falcons have allowed nine touchdowns to wide receivers this year and give up the fourth-most points to the position on a weekly basis. The Fitzgerald of old is back, at least for Week 8.


Sit 'Em: Stevie Johnson, WR, Buffalo Bills vs. New Orleans Saints

Aug 24, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson (13) catches a pass in front of Washington Redskins safety Jordan Pugh (32) at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

There was a brief period of time when Stevie Johnson was relevant in fantasy, but he's clearly the breed of receiver who does not overcome quarterback issues in 2013.

Johnson has Thad Lewis under center, and while Buffalo is managing to stick in it for now, Johnson has suffered.

Last week he managed six catches but only gained 61 yards as Lewis relies on distributing the ball evenly between multiple targets to keep the offense moving down the field. The Bills have also leaned heavily on the running game.

New Orleans is not its same-old self, either. Rob Ryan's unit is borderline top 10 in real life and against the position in fantasy. Johnson is simply a matchup-based play at this point, and he's not a smart one in Week 8.


Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling


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