Fantasy Preview: Week 8

Posted Oct 26, 2013

If you found it tougher to fill out your lineup this week, it's likely because there are six teams on bye. And hopefully you learned a lesson or two because six more teams are idle next week.

As a result of fewer players in the available pool, fantasy owners might have to start some options with bad matchups simply because they'll get a lot of touches. Obviously that's not ideal, but it's either taking the extra touches or rolling the dice on a boom-or-bust player who might get a big play or a touchdown.

Either way, we're here to help you make some of those tough decisions. Here are some key numbers to know about every contest, plus a stud, sleeper, stumbler or injury concern to watch for with a brief explanation why. Note that the “studs” are guys who are either better than most owners realize or established stars who owners might be foolishly thinking about benching.

Seahawks at Rams

Stat to know: Everyone's aware of Seattle's stout defense, but the Rams are pretty solid, too, with their biggest weakness being against the run. Marshawn Lynch is a must-start anyway, so if you're looking for someone else to play from this game, it might be a Seattle WR. St. Louis is tied for the ninth-most fantasy points per game (FPPG) to WRs (24.4), and it's struggled the most against WR1s. That's Golden Tate for Seattle, making him the best sleeper.

Stumbler: K Steven Hauschka (Rams allowing just 7.86 FPPG to Ks, ranking 21st.)

49ers at Jaguars

Stat to know: Twice this season the 49ers have allowed double-digit fantasy points in the same game to WRs (Week 1 to Green Bay, Week 6 to Arizona). Because of their high number of targets, both Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts are still in play despite the touch matchup.

Sleeper: RB Kendall Hunter (Jags allowing most rushing yards and third-most FPPG to RBs.)

Giants at Eagles

Stat to know: Both the Giants and the Eagles rank in the top five in terms of FPPG allowed to QBs. Eli Manning and Michael Vick are solid starters this week even though Manning hasn't done much all year and Vick will be returning from a hamstring injury.

Sleeper: WR Rueben Randle (Eagles allowing league-high 35.5 FPPG to WRs.)

Cowboys at Lions

Stat to Know: The Lions have done a good job limiting TEs, allowing just one TD all season (on a deep ball down the sideline to Tyler Eifert). Jason Witten has been losing targets to slot WR Cole Beasely recently, so even though this game could be a shootout, he could have trouble getting in the end zone.

Sleeper: TE Joseph Fauria (Cowboys allowing fourth-most FPPG to TEs.)

Bills at Saints

Stat to know: Jimmy Graham's foot injury looms over this one. When he missed a game last year, it was Lance Moore (nine catches for 121 yards) who picked up the slack. Graham's backup, David Thomas, also caught a touchdown. This year, Kenny Stills is New Orleans' de facto No. 2 WR and Graham's backup is Ben Watson. Both are sleepers against Buffalo's soft pass defense, and Stills is a sleeper even if Graham is active.

Injury: RB C.J. Spiller, ankle (If Spiller is out, upgrade Fred Jackson to an RB1, with Tashard Choice a possible flex.)

Dolphins at Patriots

Stat to know: Mike Wallace has averaged 13 targets and 9.65 fantasy points over his past two games. Even though New England is strong against fantasy receivers, they've allowed 17 pass plays of 25-plus yards. Wallace is still at least a WR3.

Sleepers: RBs Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden (Miami has allowed at least one RB TD in each of their past five games; also allowing second-most receiving yards per game to RBs.)

Browns at Chiefs

Stat to know: In a bye-heavy week, fantasy owners might be reaching deep, and Chiefs WR Donnie Avery isn't a bad desperation play. Cleveland has allowed more fantasy points to WR2s than WR1s in all but one game this year, and three times WR2s have scored double-digit points (Brian Hartline in Week 1, Marlon Brown in Week 2 and Jarrett Boykin in Week 7).

Stumbler: WR Josh Gordon (New QB Jason Campbell has just a 6.7 career yards per attempt.)

Jets at Bengals

Stat to know: The Jets and Bengals both rank 24th or lower in FPPG allowed to RBs. In a week with six teams on bye, it's tough to sit BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Giovani Bernard or Chris Ivory, but it will be difficult for any to produce good numbers. Green-Ellis is particularly risky, as the Jets have allowed zero rushing TDs to RBs.

Sleeper: Bengals D/ST (Jets allowing sixth-most FPPG to D/STs.)

Steelers at Raiders

Stat to know: The Steelers' run defense has been improving in recent weeks, but they're still one of just seven teams allowing over 100 rushing yards per game to RBs. Darren McFadden isn't a bad RB2.

Stumbler: WR Denarius Moore (Steelers allowing just 16.7 FPPG to WRs, tied for 27th.)

Redskins at Broncos

Stat to know: Even if Alfred Morris is getting goal-line carries, Roy Helu still has flex value. Denver is allowing the eighth-most FPPG to RBs (19.3), and that includes 44 receiving yards per game to RBs.

Sleeper: TE Jordan Reed (134 yards last week; Broncos allowing 12th-most FPPG to TEs.)

Falcons at Cardinals

Stat to know: No. 1 WRs have had more than 7.1 fantasy points just once this season against Arizona, and that was Calvin Johnson. If Roddy White is out, don't expect an “encore performance” from Harry Douglas.

Injury: RB Steven Jackson, hamstring (Expected to play, but the Cardinals are allowing the seventh-fewest FPPG to RBs.)

Packers at Vikings

Stat to know: Greg Jennings has something to prove against his old team, and the last time Christian Ponder quarterbacked against Green Bay, he put up 29 fantasy points. Ponder still isn't a good fantasy play, but Jennings has some WR3 value against a Packers' defense allowing the eighth-most FPPG to WRs (24.7).

Sleeper: Packers D/ST (Vikings allowing ninth-most FPPG to D/STs.)