After navigating the first part of the NFL season, fantasy owners are headed toward their most difficult week of the year. Fortunately, you have plenty of help to make sure you get your much-needed win.
There have been byes since Week 4, but Week 8 represents the first time this season that six teams are off. Meanwhile, we have seen a plethora of season-ending injuries that have affected numerous squads in both real life and fantasy.
These issues create the toughest roster crunch all season. However, you should be in good shape if you follow these fantasy tips before Sunday's games.
Top Players to Sit
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
By now, fans have realized that this season has not been Tom Brady's best. After throwing at least one touchdown pass in 52 straight games, the quarterback has now only thrown one total in the last three weeks.
While Rob Gronkowski provided a big boost upon his return, Brady almost fell too in love with his tight end and targeted him 17 times, which limited the overall offense.
He should still be fine by the end of the year, but he simply is not playing up to his potential at this point, averaging only 12.3 fantasy points per game. He will not do too much better against a Miami Dolphins defense that has not allowed double-digit points to an opposing quarterback since Week 4.
Although there are not many better quarterbacks in the NFL, there are certainly better fantasy options this week.
Darren Sproles, RB, New Orleans Saints
The one-time elite fantasy player is starting to wear out his usefulness as his role continues to be reduced in the Saints offense. While he did have one 23-point week, he has been held to 10 or fewer in every other appearance this season.
One big reason is the fact that he is not getting the touches he is used to, totaling only 17 in the past two weeks combined. This makes it incredibly difficult to rack up yards.
Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills have allowed only 174 receiving yards to opposing running backs this season, which ranks fifth in the league. This is Sproles' bread and butter, and it limits his ability for a big game.
Anyone who starts Sproles will have to hope for one huge scoring play, which makes him a very risky start in fantasy.
Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns
It is unlikely you have many better options than Josh Gordon, which probably means he will stay in your lineup regardless. However, this is a week you should bench the second-year player if you have the opportunity.
Jason Campbell will be the Browns' starting quarterback against the Kansas City Chiefs, which means the receiver will have to develop chemistry with yet another quarterback. To make matters worse, Campbell will try to be successful against a defense that leads the NFL in sacks by a wide margin.
Gordon is best used as a vertical threat, which is something that could be shut down when a quarterback has no time to throw.
All the receiver needs is one big play to have an effective fantasy day, but this appears to be a week that this will not happen.
|More Players to Sit|
|Alex Smith||QB||Kansas City Chiefs||Cleveland Browns|
|Geno Smith||QB||New York Jets||Cincinnati Bengals|
|BenJarvus Green-Ellis||RB||Cincinnati Bengals||New York Jets|
|Willis McGahee||RB||Cleveland Browns||Kansas City Chiefs|
|Cecil Shorts||WR||Jacksonville Jaguars||San Francisco 49ers|
|Kenbrell Thompkins||WR||New England Patriots||Miami Dolphins|
|Kyle Rudolph||TE||Minnesota Vikings||Green Bay Packers|
|Arizona Cardinals||D/ST||-||Atlanta Falcons|
Players You Must Start
Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
Robert Griffin III has been a disappointment for most of the season, but last week's game against the Chicago Bears proved that he is back.
The second-year player threw for 298 yards and two touchdowns while also adding 84 on the ground. This is the second week in a row that he managed to top 75 rushing yards after not totaling that mark in his first four games combined.
His elite running ability makes him a great fantasy option on a weekly basis going forward, although that should be even better in the upcoming game against the Denver Broncos. Not only do the Broncos have the worst pass defense in the NFL, but Griffin will also have to throw a lot to keep up on the scoreboard.
This could make him the No. 1 fantasy quarterback of the entire league this week.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys
After missing the team's previous game, the coaching staff is confident DeMarco Murray will make his return against the Detroit Lions, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.
If he is indeed active, he should be in your starting lineup as well.
The Lions are allowing more than 17 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, and Murray was just hitting his stride before getting injured. His 4.7 yards per carry ranks fourth in the league among running backs, and he had scored in three of his last four starts.
Dallas will want to establish the run game early against Detroit, which could lead to a big day for Murray if he plays.
Rueben Randle, WR, New York Giants
The common thought was that a struggling team like the Giants would not have enough offense to allow three receivers to be fantasy relevant. However, Rueben Randle has proven that wrong.
In the last three weeks, the second-year receiver is averaging 14 fantasy points per game, including a 21-point showing against the Philadelphia Eagles. He now gets to face that same defense again, and he can expect similar results.
Philadelphia has allowed some big games to slot receivers this season, including two touchdowns by Randle, two by Wes Welker and three by Eddie Royal. This problem has not been corrected, and Eli Manning should be able to find his new favorite target early and often in this matchup.
|More Players to Start|
|Colin Kaepernick||QB||San Francisco 49ers||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|Michael Vick||QB||Philadelphia Eagles||New York Giants|
|Darren McFadden||RB||Oakland Raiders||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Peyton Hillis||RB||New York Giants||Philadelphia Eagles|
|Terrance Williams||WR||Dallas Cowboys||Detroit Lions|
|Jarrett Boykin||WR||Green Bay Packers||Minnesota Vikings|
|Jordan Reed||TE||Washington Redskins||Denver Broncos|
|Green Bay Packers||D/ST||-||Minnesota Vikings|
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.