With six teams on a bye and the injuries mounting, fantasy owners might find themselves scrambling to put together a lineup in Week 8. The good news is that four of the six teams (Ravens, Rams, Dolphins, 49ers) are largely fantasy irrelevant. Things will be even tougher in Week 9 when the Cardinals, Bengals and Patriots are among the six teams with a week off. Four teams are off during Weeks 10 and 11. There are no more byes starting in Week 12.
On to Week 8 …
MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
Seahawks (@ Saints) Sunday, noon
Seattle’s 29th-ranked offense has frustrated fantasy owners to this point. Only four teams score fewer than the 18.5 per game posted by the Seahawks. However, facing the Saints and their 29th ranked D’, the Hawks should be able to right the ship. Other than Week 2, when the Giants beat them 16-13, New Orleans has given up a minimum of 27 points to each opponent. The Saints are especially susceptible to the pass, giving Russell Wilson a chance to get things going. If it doesn’t happen this week, you have to wonder if it ever will.His lack of mobility stemming from multiple leg injuries is the only thing keeping Wilson from must-start status.
Must start: Christine Michael
Solid play: Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Jimmy Graham, Stephen Hauschka,
Worth a look: Seahawks D/ST
Last resort: Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett
Texans (vs. Lions) Sunday, noon
Brock Osweiler is not living up to his massive contract and the Texans have not been putting up much in terms of offensive numbers. They have an excellent opportunity this week for above-average production against a well-below-average Detroit defense. Don’t look now, but C.J. Fiedorowicz has caught 19 balls for 229 yards and two scores over the past four games.
Must start: Lamar Miller, DeAndre Hopkins
Solid play: Will Fuller
Worth a look: Fiedorowicz, Nick Novak, Texans D/ST
Last resort: Brock Osweiler, Ryan Griffin
Bengals (vs. Washington in London) Sunday, 8:30 a.m.
Cincy rolled up 559 yards of offense in Week 7. Sure, it was against Cleveland, but it was still an NFL opponent … well, kind of. They’ll face a stiffer test this week, but Washington has a below-average defense. The Bengals' backfield remains a conundrum – both Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill are viable fantasy options. The committee approach, however, is cutting into the fantasy value of both backs. Because Washington gives up 5.0 yards per carry, one of the two – maybe both – should have a good day. Due to the number of touches, we think Bernard has slightly more value, but it could go either way.
Must start: A.J. Green
Solid play: Andy Dalton, Bernard, Hill
Worth a look: Brandon LaFell, Tyler Eifert, Bengals D/ST, Mike Nugent
Cardinals (@ Panthers) Sunday, noon
Fresh off their six-point “explosion” on Sunday night, the Cardinals will roll into Carolina looking to get back on track offensively. Surprisingly, the Panthers' 24th-ranked defense is giving up 29.3 points and 372 yards per game. We’re assuming John Brown will miss his second consecutive game, but monitor his status.
Must start: David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald
Solid play: Carson Palmer, Chandler Catanzaro
Worth a look: Michael Floyd, Cardinals D/ST
Chiefs (@ Colts) Sunday, noon
Another big day for Spencer Ware is a strong possibility. Jamaal Charles is dealing with swelling in his surgically repaired knee. If he does play, he’ll likely be limited.
Raiders (@ Bucs), Sunday, noon
Points should be plentiful in this matchup of defensive lightweights. The over/under is pushing 50.
MATCHUPS TO AVOID
Bills (vs. Patriots) Sunday, noon
Rex Ryan teams generally give the Patriots a hard time, but we’re thinking that New England will be geared up for this game. Buffalo won an earlier matchup this season, but that was during Tom Brady’s four-game suspension. The Patriots are 14th in yards allowed, but are giving up just 15.3 points per game. LeSean McCoy came into last week with a sore hamstring and had to exit the game in the third quarter. Monitor his status, but one has to think the Bills will play it safe with him. Marquise Goodwin is in the league’s concussion protocol.
Must start: none
Solid play: McCoy (if active)
Worth a look: Tyrod Taylor, Mike Gillislee (if no McCoy)
Last resort: Brandon Tate, Charles Clay
Stay away: Dan Carpenter, Bills D/ST
Eagles (@ Cowboys) Sunday, 7:30
This game features one of the week’s lowest over/under numbers (43.5). The Cowboys are favored by 4.5, meaning the odds makers expect Philly to score something around 19 points. The Eagles average 26 points per game, but a lot of those points stem from defense and special teams. In terms of yards, only the Texans, Rams, Vikings and 49ers produce fewer than the Eagles. Last week, their leading receiver (Josh Huff) had just four receptions for 39 yards and Carson Wentz threw for just 138 yards and was picked twice. The Cowboys defense is ranked 17th, but has been steadily improving.
Must start: none
Solid play: Eagles D/ST
Worth a look: Ryan Mathews, Jordan Matthews
Last resort: Wentz, Darren Sproles, Zach Ertz, Caleb Sturgis
Bears (vs. Vikings) Monday, 7:30
This isn’t rocket science: The Bears are the league’s lowest-scoring team and the Vikings are tied with Seattle for fewest points allowed. Jay Cutler returns for the Bears and that could provide a boost for Alshon Jeffery owners. Jeremy Langford is nearing a return, which will just further muddy the RB waters in Chicago.
Must start: none
Solid play: Jeffery
Worth a look: Jordan Howard, Zach Miller
Last resort: Cameron Meredith, Eddie Royal*, Ka’Deem Carey, Bears D/ST
Stay away: Connor Barth
Jaguars (@ Titans) Thursday, 7:25
Two sputtering offenses facing better-than-average defenses on a short week is a recipe for a low-scoring game.
Packers (@ Falcons), Sunday 3:25
The Packers manhandled a hapless Chicago team last Thursday, but that won’t mean much here. Green Bay’s offense sputtered through much of the Chicago game the same way it has misfired most of the season. It’s possible that this game is a shootout, but it’s also possible the Packers get waxed.
*Check injury status