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Fantasy Sports

Fantasy Football Week 8: Five Players You Must Start

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Fantasy Football Week 8: Five Players You Must Start

Big Ben

Week 8 fantasy football officially kicks off tonight with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visiting the Minnesota Vikings. Week 7 was a headache for some out there, as Jacksonville Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew went down with a foot injury so Rashard Jennings will certainly be a hot commodity in all leagues. The waiver wire is scorching hot all around the fantasy football community, especially with roughly half the season already completed so don't forget to put in those claims!

Not to tout myself, but Fantasy Football Week 7: Featured Start 'Em List was a very productive one for those that followed my featured starters. Like I said, I put my reputation on the line with Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson, and thanks to his 195 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns against the Buffalo Bills, I still have a job. How about Josh Freeman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Buffalo Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick? They both fit the bill last week and exploded against some very weak defenses, so I hope some of you benefited from last weeks predictions.

Four teams are on bye in Week 8, and they are the Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, and the Cincinnati Bengals. Sorry Arian Foster, Ray Rice, Steve Johnson, A.J. Green, and Houston Texans D/ST owners, but you will have to find other options this week. We will get to the featured start 'em, sit 'em players later on in the week so be sure to keep an eye out, but for now, let's concentrate on five players that you absolutely must start this week if you own them.

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Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

I asked this question before many of my league drafts this year, and I will ask it again. Why do so many fantasy players shy away from Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger? I was finding myself in the 10th and 11th rounds of my drafts and Big Ben was sitting there in 95% of the leagues I participated in. Fast forward roughly two months, and my backup QB is a top eight fantasy quarterback. Maybe some questioned Ben's durability since he played the end of last season injured, or the awful offensive line, but this guy is a gunslinger.

The Steelers running game is obsolete for the first time in like 50 years, so Ben is looking to throw often. This weeks match up against the Washington Redskins shouldn't change that one bit. The Redskins have given up the 6th most fantasy points to the QB position and the most fantasy points to the WR position. The have given up an NFL worst, 2,310 yards through the air and a whopping 15 touchdowns. The Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, and Atlanta Falcons each attempted 52 passes against this defense this season so it's pretty clear teams have gotten the memo on how to beat the Skins. Look for Ben and his talented receiving core to have a field day against this awful secondary. Roethlisberger is being started by roughly 45% of all leagues, which is a slap in the face to a top eight quarterback, but that's the reality. Get him in your starting lineup.

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Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy


Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy has been somewhat of a disappointment this season for owners. He has only rushed for 100 yards twice, this season, recorded one rushing touchdown, but has stayed relevant by catching balls out of the backfield, scoring twice through the air.

Supposedly, McCoy was being bothered by an ankle injury, but the recent bye week was a perfect time for him to heal up and get back on track. Now he faces a Atlanta Falcons defense that just can't seem to get it right when it comes to stopping the run. The Falcons have allowed 100+ yards rushing in each and every game this season, and have given up the 12th most fantasy points to the RB position. Seems some owners have lost hope on McCoy as he's only being started by 67% of leagues, but I think this is the week he gains back their trust. LeSean remains a valuable asset in PPR formats as he has recorded 25 receptions this season, including 7 in his last game against the Detroit Lions in week 6. Look for McCoy to reach the 100 yard plateau and the end zone on Sunday.

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Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones


Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones continues to live in the shadows of fellow teammate Roddy White. That doesn't mean that they haven't learned to co-exist with one another as both have had productive seasons. If you look at these two this year, you will see the trend that is developing. One week on, one week off, one touchdown left, one touchdown right. White and Jones have been taking turns reaching the end zone this season. Week 1 was Julio's turn, week 2 was Roddy's , week 3 was Julio's....you get the idea.

Well if any of this holds water, then week 8 is Julio's turn as he was held out of the end zone against the Oakland Raiders in week 6, and Roddy wasn't. It's possible the bye week will change this trend, but I'm sticking with it. The Philadelphia Eagles secondary has been smoked to the tune of 733 yards through the air and four touchdowns in the past 4 weeks. Jones is only being started in 57% of leagues, but I bet that 43% regrets their decision after week 8 is complete.

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Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown

A Brown
Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

As stated earlier, expect QB Ben Roethlisberger to shred this weak Washington Redskins secondary. Which means players such as Antonio Brown should be very valuable in week 8. Sure, you can make a case for Mike Wallace this week, but his recent struggles with holding onto the ball concerns me, so I will go with the more steady hands in Brown. When Roethlisberger isn't looking Wallace's way, he's certainly looking for Antonio as he has recorded 7 receptions in four of his six games.

The problem, however, is that he's not finding the end zone as he's only crossed the goal-line once this season. Surely, the low touchdown total has to do with Big Ben looking for his favorite red zone target, TE Heath Miller. That will all change against this incompetent defense, that is surrendering the most fantasy points to the WR position. Brown is being started by only 58% of leagues, but owners should smarten up a little here and understand the situation, especially if you are in a PPR league. Brown should reach 100+ yards and the end zone this week. Start him with confidence.

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San Diego Chargers WR Malcom Floyd


San Diego Chargers WR Malcom Floyd leads the team in targets, but has not recorded a touchdown since week 1 against the Oakland Raiders. The slump should come to an end against a weak Cleveland Browns secondary that has surrendered an NFL worst 12 touchdowns to opposing WRs this season. The Browns have given up the 3rd most fantasy points to the WR position, and have allowed 1,420 yards through the air. Opposing receivers have notched multiple touchdowns in four of the Brown's seven games, so expect Floyd to break his 5 game streak of failing to hit paydirt. Floyd has clearly lost the faith of his owners, as a measly 22% of leagues are starting him. Don't be part of that 78% that will be kicking themselves for not keeping the faith.

Michael J. Igyarto is a featured columnist and fantasy football expert at Rant Sports

Follow Michael on twitter: @windycityiggy