Fantasy Football Week 8: Upgrades, Downgrades, Sleepers, and Expert Opinions

Fantasy Football SpinCorrespondent IOctober 29, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - OCTOBER 24:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints in action during the game against the Cleveland Browns at the Louisiana Superdome on October 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

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BYE:  Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, NY Giants, Philadelphia


In week 8, fantasy owners will be scrambling to replace Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler (look at the up side, he can’t throw a pick this week. That’s worth two first rounders and Kyle Orton, right?) and Eli Manning. In week 8, Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is among the hottest quarterbacks in the league, will be a popular waiver wire player. He should be a solid play against a KC defense that ranks 25th against the pass.  Matthew Stafford also returns from a week one shoulder injury to lead the emerging Lions passing offense against one of the leagues' worst pass defenses. Despite the fact that Cutler made the Redskins secondary look like a collection of Hall of Famers, they are simply not very good at all and the first two levels of defense are not helping them master their 3-4 assignments.

Temper your expectations for Vince Young (@ SD), Ben Roethlisberger (@ NO) and Sam Bradford (vs. Carolina), as they face some of the stingiest pass defenses through 7 weeks.

If your quarterbacks or receivers are facing these defenses, you may want to go in a different direction unless you have a stud the likes of which should be played almost regardless of matchup – and this year has proven that there are very few of those. The best pass defenses in 2010 (less than 200 passing yards/game allowed) are:  NY Giants,  San Diego, New Orleans, Carolina, Oakland, and Tampa Bay.

On the flip side, if you have QB facing these porous secondaries, it's probably worth rolling the dice and putting them under center for your fantasy squad. The weakest pass defenses in 2010 (over 250 passing yards/game allowed) are: Jacksonville, Atlanta, New England,  Seattle, Washington, and Houston.


Expert opinions: has Ben Roethlisberger at #2 this week for the Sunday Night matchup with a New Orleans defense that ranks 3rd against the pass allowing only 180 yards/game through the air. is on board with starting Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick ranking him #12 for a favorable matchup with a Kansas City defense that is allowing 244 passing yards/game. are expecting productive weeks from a few QBs that might be on the waiver wire in Detroit’s Matthew Stafford (ranked 12th) and Dallas’ Jon Kitna (ranked 13th) has newly annointed Dallas QB Jon Kitna at #4 this week as the Cowboys host a Jacksonville defense that ranks 27th against the pass and have allowed a league worst 16 passing TDs. ranks KC’s Matt Cassel at #8 this week as the Chiefs host a Bills defense that has allowed 14 passing TDs



UPGRADE: QB Peyton Manning (vs Houston) – He tossed for 433 yards and 3 TDs in a week 3 loss to the Texans. The Houston defense ranks at the bottom of the league in pass defense, allowing 306 yards per game. On Monday night, with a questionable running game featuring Mike Hart as the likely primary ball carrier, Peyton should return to MVP form and post big numbers. One caveat is the fact that his weapons are dwindling, with Dallas Clark out for the season and Austin Collie sidelined with a hand injury.  Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and possibly even Blair White and/or Anthony Gonzalez could produce starter worthy stats in this dream matchup.


DOWNGRADE: QB Drew Brees (vs Pittsburgh) - The Super Bowl MVP tossed four interceptions in a shocking week seven loss to the Cleveland Browns, in the process blowing up many a suicide pool. Brees has now thrown eight completions to the opposing defenses in the past three weeks, and in week eight, things will not get any easier.  Pittsburgh’s stingy defense has allowed only four passing touchdowns while picking off nine passes through six games. The Steelers boast the league's number one ranked rush defense to go with a league best 14 points per game surrendered. On the plus side, the Steelers have surrendered yardage through the air.  Over the first seven games, Brees is averaging an impressive 290 yards per game with 14 TDs and 10 INTs. We are expecting him to post subpar numbers against the vaunted Steel Curtain on Sunday Night.


SLEEPER: Jon Kitna (vs Jacksonville) - The Cowboys' (1-5)  playoff hopes are on life support following the injury to Tony Romo on Monday night. 

In steps 38 year old veteran Jon Kitna, who has a ton of weapons and a very favorable matchup in week eight. This is a plug and play situation where nearly any competent QB could put up decent, possibly stellar, numbers against the Jags' feeble secondary, which has allowed a league worst 16 passing TDs. In just over a half of action in week seven, Kitna passed for 187 yards and 2 TDs. His clipboard holding technique is unquestionable.  He excels there.  Keep in mind, however, that this guy did post back to back 4,000 yard seasons with Detroit in 2006/2007. Doing that in Detroit is an “if you can do it there you can do it anywhere” thing and there is no reason to think that he won’t have some fine games for Big D. The Dallas O-line is struggling to protect the passer, as evidenced by Romo's collarbone injury.  Protection issues should force Kitna and company into shorter passing options, thus increasing the value of TE Jason Witten. It’s worth noting that Dallas has one of the more favorable remaining fantasy schedules for quarterbacks, including matchups with Washington and Arizona (weeks 15 and 16). So Kitna is a nice sleeper for this week and a serviceable, and sometimes more, option for the remainder of 2010.


Check out the full article on Running Backs and Wide Receivers for week eight and don't forget to stop by on Sunday when we will using the aggregate data from twenty top websites to answer start/sit questions while providing real time active/inactive updates.