Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings: Players To Start or Avoid

Jordan Smith@@BareNakedSportsCorrespondent IOctober 26, 2011

Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings: Players To Start or Avoid

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    Bye weeks loom yet again this week and they are forcing fantasy owners to make some tough decisions. Unfortunately, that means some will irrationally start players who simply aren't getting it done this season instead of starting players who have favorable matchups. 

    Any player I call to sit I say with a warning: You might be in a position where you have to start them, and if that's the case, then pick your poison. 

    I give a statistical and analytic approach to most of these players. You will be rewarded well if you start guys that have the best matchups.  

Jackie Battle

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    Fantasy owners should be rather suspicious of the Kansas City Chiefs and Todd Haley when it comes to running back workload. Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster seem to carry the ball a few too many times when Jackie Battle has clearly become the most effective running back. 

    That being said, if Battle gets a solid workload next Monday night against the Chargers, you will be rewarded well. 

    The Chargers have been allowing 121.7 yards per game on the ground, and the 25th worst defense in yards per attempt at 4.7 yards per carry. 

    You won't find Battle topping the yards per game stats, considering he's only really played two games, but Battle is averaging 3.6 yards after contact which is third only to Fred Jackson and Darren Sproles. 

    The Chargers' defensive front has been dreadful the last couple of weeks and Battle is sure to take advantage of that. 

    Verdict: Start him

Jeremy Maclin

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    My suggestion is to buy Jeremy Maclin if you can. 

    The Eagles' offense might have been struggling as of late, but Maclin is a No. 1-caliber receiver with a big play receiver in DeSean Jackson to help stretch the field. Maclin is their go-to guy, and the only thing hindering his fantasy performance this year is Michael Vick's struggles. 

    Many fantasy sites are ranking Maclin as a low-end No. 2 receiver this week. In a big matchup with the Dallas Cowboys' 24th worst fantasy defense (against wide receivers), I will take Maclin close to my top 10. 

    If you're debating whether or not to start Maclin, you shouldn't. Put him in your lineup and enjoy the win. 

    Verdict: Start him

Brandon Marshall

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    Brandon Marshall's physical ability is unquestionable. His hands are very questionable. 

    He's dropped seven passes on the year, more than most players will drop the entire year, including a couple of touchdowns. He is getting targeted a ton, but until he can actually prove he can go out and catch the ball, I don't have him starting on my fantasy team. 

    The bigger problem is that Matt Moore is apparently battling bruised ribs and that J.P. Losman could be starting for the Dolphins this Sunday.


    Marshall is a risky start, but if Moore plays, he could do well. Avoid him at all cost if Losman plays. 

    Verdict: Play it by ear. 

Michael Crabtree

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    If you're in a pinch this week at wide receiver (which many of us are considering Greg Jennings and Roddy White are on a bye), then you could take a gamble on Michael Crabtree.

    Crabtree, since returning to health, has been getting massive amounts of targets the last few games. The injuries to Josh Morgan and Braylon Edwards significantly increased his value.

    He has No. 1 potential with 29 targets in his last three games. If it weren't for one touchdown being called back on a bad call and him dropping another, a lot of people would probably already be starting him. 

    He faces a Cleveland Browns defense that has given up the 29th most points to wide receivers this year. That's been without stud cornerback Joe Haden for the most part, but with Edwards back, it's impossible to say who will be covering whom. 

    Verdict: Underrated start

Pierre Garcon

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    Honestly, I can't believe anyone would buy into Pierre Garcon. 

    The vast majority of his fantasy points have come on two big blown coverages in back-to-back games. Honestly, that's just dumb luck.

    On the other side of the coin, QB Curtis Painter does seem to have a liking for him, but that's hardly any reason for people to rank him ahead of the likes of Crabtree, Antonio Brown, Eric Decker, Greg Little, Sidney Rice and Mario Manningham.

    All those guys have higher upside than Garcon. Frankly, his matchup isn't even that good this week. He faces a Titans defense that was dominant the first few games of the year, and is coming off a rough loss to the Texans.

    The Titans are hungry to get back in the race and I just don't trust Painter. 

    Verdict: Sit him for your own good

Percy Harvin

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    Percy Harvin has been burning fantasies all year, but it's largely not his fault. 

    Donovan McNabb has been awful, to put it lightly. The Vikings haven't been getting the ball into his hands nearly as much as they should, but there's reason to think that will change.

    Christian Ponder's performance against the Green Bay Packers was admirable. If you watched the game, you would see that Ponder looked pretty darn good in his first outing. He gave himself time to find receivers with his feet and the ball looked crisp coming out of his hand. 

    The Vikings are facing a Panthers defense that has been improving, but Harvin is too skilled a receiver to sit. He gets handoffs as well as being able to catch the ball.

    The Panthers' defense has been good against wide receivers, but look for Harvin to have the best game of any Vikings wide receiver. 

    Verdict: Start him

Bernard Scott

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    Everyone's talked up Bernard Scott as the better back to Cedric Benson, including me, but I'm just not buying it anymore. 

    The Bengals are clearly committed to Benson, despite his incredibly low 3.9 yards per carry. However, when Scott has touched the ball, he has hardly fared better. He's had 30 attempts this year for only 85 yards, good for a 2.8 average. 

    Benson is out with his one-game suspension this weekend and it might force some fantasy owners to start Scott. I would avoid this at all costs if at all possible. The Bengals face a Seahawks run defense that has been absolutely stellar this season, and they face them in Seattle. 

    Seattle is allowing only the 11th fewest yards to opposing running backs. They crushed Montario Hardesty last week, another backup back many have touted, allowing him to carry the ball 33 times for only 95 yards. 

    Verdict: Bench him. Don't pick him up off the wire. 

Knowshon Moreno

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    As a Chiefs fan, I have always been baffled by the reason the Broncos did not give up on Knowshon Moreno even sooner. 

    Sadly, the Broncos are being forced to put him back into action due to Willis McGahee's broken hand. Moreno has been one of the largest fantasy disappointments this year, and he should continue that trend. 

    After McGahee went down against the Dolphins, the Broncos essentially split carries between Moreno and third stringer Lance Ball. Moreno had seven carries and Ball had six.

    The only benefit to Moreno is his ability as a third-down back, and he's not particularly talented there either. 

    The Detroit Lions haven't been good at stopping the run, but they will inevitably take a lead in this game and that means the run game will likely be non-existent. Tebow is likely to get any of the rushing touchdowns in this game, and likely to have twice the yards other Broncos back will have. 

    Verdict: Sit him. Start a wide receiver. Start anyone else.