Fantasy football: Week 8 matchups to exploit and avoid

A struggling Seahawks offense has a good matchup vs. a bad Saints defense

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Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham (88) tries to hold off Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell during an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham (88) tries to hold off Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell during an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear) — Stephen Brashear

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

ALSO CONSIDER

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

ALSO BEWARE

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