Fantasy Football Week 8: Waiver-Wire Pickups, Rankings and Stat Projections

Justin Hussong@@HeatChecksHussContributor IIIOctober 26, 2015

Stefon Diggs is here to stay.
Stefon Diggs is here to stay.Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

Week 8 of the NFL season means we have officially reached the second half in almost all fantasy football leagues around the world. If you've made it this far without suffering at least one or two crippling injuries, continue doing whatever it is you have been doing. You don't want to anger the fantasy gods.

A high-scoring Sunday featured a bevy of points and a few more tough injuries, namely to Arian Foster and his torn Achilles, according to ESPN.com's Tania Gagnuli. As fantasy owners must always do, it's now time to plow through the second half and pick up the pieces.

In the Week 8 edition of this column, we will cover everything you need to know, including rankings at each position, projections and who to look out for on waivers.

Here is the slate of NFL games on the horizon.

Week 8 NFL Schedule
Thursday, October 29Time
Miami at New England5:25 p.m.
Sunday, November 1
Detroit at Kansas City9:30 a.m.
Tampa Bay at Atlanta1 p.m.
Arizona at Cleveland1 p.m.
San Francisco at St. Louis1 p.m.
NY Giants at New Orleans1 p.m.
Minnesota at Chicago1 p.m.
San Diego at Baltimore1 p.m.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh1 p.m.
Tennessee at Houston1 p.m.
NY Jets at Oakland4:05 p.m.
Seattle at Dallas4:25 p.m.
Green Bay at Denver5:30 p.m.
Monday, November 2
Indianapolis at Carolina5:30 p.m.
NFL
Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Quarterbacks

Week 8 Quarterback Projections
RankPlayerProjection
1Cam Newton CAR20
2Tom Brady NE19.9
3Andrew Luck IND19.8
4Philip Rivers SD19.6
5Carson Palmer ARI19
6Russell Wilson SEA18.9
7Matt Ryan ATL18.9
8Eli Manning NYG18.7
9Drew Brees NO18.7
10Matthew Stafford DET18.6
11Aaron Rodgers GB18.6
12Alex Smith KC18.5
13Peyton Manning DEN18.2
14Marcus Mariota TEN17.3
15Andy Dalton CIN17.1
Yahoo Sports

Boom: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

A few weeks ago, you wouldn't have found Stafford with a "boom" next to his name unless you were talking about his season imploding. Now, after two nice fantasy outputs, Stafford isn't as frustrating to plug into your lineup.

Sunday's outing made it six touchdowns and one pick over the past two contests for the former No. 1 overall pick, and he now has the pleasure of feasting on a Kansas City Chiefs defense that has no ability to stop a quarterback not named Landry Jones.

With the Lions' season all but over, they seem to be calling riskier plays of late. That includes downfield bombs. He hit Eric Ebron for a 55-yard score this past week and turned back the clock with some deep balls to Calvin Johnson the week prior.

If you are a Stafford owner, don't have any hesitations about rolling him out in Week 8.

Bust: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

David Richard/Associated Press

I'm continuing to beat this drum that national headlines avoid week in and week out. Peyton Manning is a subpar quarterback right now, and there's no reason to believe it will get better.

Fantasy owners have been frustrated in recent years due to Manning's late-season, cold-weather swoons, but now he admittedly has no feeling left in his fingertips. What confidence should anyone have plugging him into their lineups?

The Broncos' typically stout offensive line is now shaky, and Emmanuel Sanders is not 100 percent healthy. Factor in the Green Bay Packers defense, and this is a matchup you need to stay away from.

Running Backs

Week 8 Running Back Projections
RankPlayerProjection
1Devonta Freeman ATL19.9
2Matt Forte CHI17.2
3Le'Veon Bell PIT17
4Justin Forsett BAL15.8
5Adrian Peterson MIN14.6
6Todd Gurley STL14.5
7Chris Johnson ARI13.2
8Marshawn Lynch SEA12.5
9Mark Ingram NO12.4
10Chris Ivory NYJ12.2
11LeGarrette Blount NE12
12Doug Martin TB11.5
13Carlos Hyde SF11.4
14Lamar Miller MIA10.7
15Rashad Jennings NYG10.4
Yahoo Sports

Boom: Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams

Billy Hurst/Associated Press

When watching Todd Gurley slap away arm tackles like flies and bulldoze defenders like a truck, we are not simply witnessing a hot start from a rookie running back. We are seeing the early stages of the league's next iconic star at the running back position.

Not only is Gurley already one of the most electrifying talents in the league, but he is also fantasy gold in all formats. If you didn't plug him into your DFS lineup, you dropped the ball this week. According to USA Today, his pricing in all DFS platforms is inexplicably low. The top-notch lineup optimizer from DraftCrunch pegged him for a huge week in all forms of tournament or cash-style contests.

Gurley now gets a meeting with a Niners defense that is still licking the wounds inflicted by Marshawn Lynch. Gurley is an elite RB1 week in and week out, and could even top himself once again in Week 8.

Bust: Rashad Jennings, New York Giants

Michael Perez/Associated Press

You've got to think this projection is quite high given the state of the Giants backfield. Not to discount any of them, but there's just no room in a fantasy lineup for anyone right now.

Orleans Darkwa was the leading rusher for New York in Week 7, and he even found the end zone. We know Shane Vereen will handle most of the receiving work, so where does all this leave Jennings? He will be coming off a game where he only received five carries, and there's little reason to think he'll do much more in the near future.

A matchup with New Orleans is tasty, but Jennings is not to be trusted as anything more than a middling flex option.

Wide Receivers

Week 8 Receiver Projections
RankPlayerProjection
1DeAndre Hopkins HOU13.4
2Demaryius Thomas DEN13.2
3Emmanuel Sanders DEN13.1
4Julio Jones ATL13
5Antonio Brown PIT13
6Odell Beckham Jr. NYG12
7Calvin Johnson DET11.9
8Keenan Allen SD11.6
9Larry Fitzgerald ARI11.6
10Julian Edelman NE11
11Jeremy Maclin KC10.9
12Randall Cobb GB10.9
13Brandon Marshall NYJ10.8
14A.J. Green CIN10.8
15Alshon Jeffery CHI10.5
Yahoo Sports

Boom: Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Oct 25, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) catches a pass as Washington Redskins cornerback Will Blackmon (41) defends during the third quarter at FedEx Field. Washington Redskins defeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-3
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

We're going with a guy that is not in the top 15 projections. Mike Evans finally got on track in a Week 7 loss to the Washington Redskins, tallying a nasty 8-164-1 line. Evans got on the same page with Jameis Winston for the first time in what is surely a sign of things to come.

Evans is right back on the WR1 radar after thrashing one of the league's better defenses. He surely won't see a dearth of targets against an Atlanta Falcons secondary that isn't scaring anyone. He also posted a 7-125-1 line in a matchup with the Falcons last year.

This rebound effort from Evans made a lot of fantasy owners happy, and don't be surprised if he goes on another run like he did last season, where he scored 12 touchdowns in his final 12 games.

Bust: Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos

October 11, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders free safety Charles Woodson (24) intercepts the football intended for Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) during the third quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Broncos 16-10.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

I'm not buying that lofty projection from Thomas, especially considering that 13.2 points was his highest output of the season in Week 2.

Thomas is struggling with drops and has just one touchdown through six games. Emmanuel Sanders has been the more reliable target for Manning. The offense as a whole has been abysmal, so what gives us any reason to believe these will be two of the three highest-scoring receivers next week?

Is it because the Packers gave up a fluky 503 yards through the air to Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers in their last game? Manning isn't capable of that. This is an offense that is more tailored to the run game now. This will not be Thomas' big moment.

Tight Ends 

Week 8 Tight End Projections
RankPlayerProjection
1Rob Gronkowski NE10.4
2Greg Olsen CAR9.5
3Tyler Eifert CIN7.9
4Travis Kelce KC7.8
5Antonio Gates SD7.6
6Jimmy Graham SEA7.5
7Delanie Walker TEN7.5
8Martellus Bennett CHI7.4
9Gary Barnidge CLE7.1
10Jordan Cameron MIA6.9
11Larry Donnell NYG6.8
12Jason Witten DAL6.3
13Benjamin Watson NO6.2
14Austin Seferian-Jenkins TB6
15Eric Ebron DET5.7
Yahoo Sports

Boom: Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns

Aaron Josefczyk/Associated Press

I'm not getting off this train. You can't make me.

Once again, Barnidge is the man to target at tight end in Week 8, whether it be in redraft leagues, dynasty or DFS. This is a guy who still comes at good value and can easily win you a cash game or two. The weekly highlight reel continues to prove himself as much more than a flash in the pan, and he is officially Josh McCown's favorite target.

Unless you have Gronk, don't even think about sitting Barnidge after yet another 100-yard effort on Sunday. If you have both, then bravo, my friend.

Bust: Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 22: Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers lays a big hit on Jimmy Graham #88 of the Seattle Seahawks, to break up a pass, during the game at Levi Stadium on October 22, 2015 in Santa Clara, California. The Seahawks defeated th
Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

With each passing week, it becomes less likely that we see the old Jimmy Graham again.

His adaptation to the Seahawks offense has been rocky, to say the least. Graham hasn't scored since Week 3, and has seen upward of five targets just one time in the four games since. He hadn't gone four weeks in a row without finding the end zone since 2012.

A battle with the Cowboys is not exactly what the doctor ordered. Ironically, Josh Hill is the only tight end to score on Dallas thus far in 2015. The Cowboys have shut down tight ends, and not a single one has logged more than four catches on them. That includes a battle with Gronk, one with Philadelphia's Zach Ertz and two meetings with the Giants' reliable Larry Donnell.

Waiver-Wire Pickups

Nate Washington, Houston Texans

Sep 13, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver Nate Washington (85) makes a catch as Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry (29) defends during the first half at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Washington returned from injury to put forth one of his best games ever as he threw down a 9-127-2 line against the Miami Dolphins that we have to all be tentative of.

On one side, this all occurred in garbage time. This game was over once Miami went up 41-0 in the second quarter, at which point Washington hadn't been heard from once. Houston simply refused to wave the white flag, and no one benefited from it more than Washington.

On the other hand, the Texans will presumably be throwing a ton now that Arian Foster tore his Achilles. Given that piece of information, Washington is worth a solid look even if this game did come out of nowhere. Washington could even benefit more from Foster's absence than either Alfred Blue or Chris Polk would as the new running backs.

Danny Amendola, New England Patriots

Steven Senne/Associated Press

That's two weeks in a row with nine targets for Amendola, and he found the end zone Week 7 against the Jets. He has caught 15 of his 18 targets the past two weeks for 191 yards. It sure took him a while, but it appears he is finally on the same page with Tom Brady.

There is plenty of love to go around in New England. Even with Gronk and Julian Edelman seeing their share of targets, Amendola has proved himself. There is always the risk of injury with Amendola, but you could do a lot worse if you are without one of your wideouts this week.

Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions

Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

Ebron made a loud return in Week 7 after missing two games due to injury. He picked up some of the momentum he developed early in the year and notched his third score of the season against the Vikings Sunday.

Detroit stinks, and they'll be playing catch-up a lot. Ebron's improvement is noticeable, and Stafford clearly approves. Look no further than the Golden Tate disappearing act to see just how much Ebron has worked his way up the pecking order.

If somebody in your league sold out on Ebron and dropped him while he was hurt, pounce on him quickly. He has elite tight end ability and should only continue to improve.

All stats and projections courtesy of ESPN and Yahoo.