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Fantasy Football: Week 8 Studs And Duds

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Fantasy Football 2012: Week 8 Studs And Duds

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Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

Week 8 of the NFL schedule will start Thursday night with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traveling to take on the Minnesota Vikings. It is also the start of the stretch drive in a lot of fantasy football leagues, with playoff spots and playoff seeds starting to be at stake.

Four teams have a bye this week, as the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills are idle, so plenty of good fantasy options are unavailable. Fantasy football owners can see the end of the bye week headache on the horizon, with only four more weeks of byes left on the league schedule. With a bye week coming or not, being able to unearth favorable matchups when looking to set a lineup is important to all fantasy owners as the weeks go by.

As I have done each week to this point, I will attempt to highlight some players I feel have nice upside (“Studs”) as well as those I feel have some downside (“Duds”) for fantasy owners this week. For ease of use and perhaps increased relevance to the most fantasy owners, I have again narrowed it down to the four positions that carry the most impact and roster space in fantasy football-quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end. Since kickers and team defenses are so volatile on a weekly basis, both in terms of performance and ownership percentage in most leagues, I have and will continue to avoid targeting upside or downside picks at those spots.

Here are my “Studs and Duds” for Week 8.

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Stud QB-Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Big Ben
Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE

Roethlisberger has had a productive run to start the season, with at least 245 yards or multiple passing touchdowns in all but one of six games. Now a very favorable matchup is coming in Week 8 against the Washington Redskins, who have allowed the most passing yards (2,310) in the league as well as a tied for second-most 15 passing touchdowns. With injuries depleting the Steelers’ running back depth, Roethlisberger is virtually certain to be throwing the ball plenty on Sunday. The Redskins have intercepted 10 passes this season, but otherwise there is virtually no downside here.

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Dud QB-Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles

Vick
Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Vick reversed his downward trend in production by throwing for 311 yards in Philadelphia’s last game in Week 6 against the Detroit Lions, but he accounted for multiple turnovers for the fifth time in six games. He will now take on the Atlanta Falcons in Week 8 in what looks to be a tough matchup. The Falcons have only allowed multiple passing touchdowns in a game once so far this season, and have only allowed more than 260 passing yards once as well. Vick may force things a little against his former team, which would be music to the ears of an opportunistic Atlanta secondary (10 interceptions). His fantasy owners may have a hard time benching Vick this week, but things seem to be aligning for a poor performance.

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Stud RB-Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers

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Derick Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Mathews had 22 carries for 74 yards in Week 6 against the Denver Broncos, setting a season-high in carries after he missed the first two games of the season with a broken collarbone. He looks to be ready to hit the ground running as the Chargers’ clear cut feature back, and a favorable matchup against the Cleveland Browns presents a good opportunity for a breakout game. The Browns have allowed 63 total fantasy points (ESPN scoring) to opposing running backs over their last three games, including a 200-yard rushing game to Ahmad Bradshaw of the New York Giants in Week 5. 25 or more touches are not out of the question for Mathews on Sunday, and he is a high-end RB1 for Week 8.

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Dud RB-Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams

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Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

Jackson found the end zone for the first time this season last week against the Green Bay Packers, but he has still topped 60 rushing yards once all season as part of a virtually equal timeshare with rookie Daryl Richardson. Week 8 brings a challenging matchup against the New England Patriots, who are in the top 10 of the league against the run and have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points (ESPN scoring) to opposing running backs. The Rams may be throwing the ball plenty to exploit a poor New England secondary, which stands to yield a reduced snap count and role for Jackson. A declining role plus a tough matchup makes Jackson a low-end RB2 at best and bench material for owners who have another option this week.

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Stud WR-Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos

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Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

Thomas had just two catches for 37 yards in Week 6 against the San Diego Chargers, but did catch a touchdown in the game to go into Denver’s bye week with some positivity. A very favorable matchup is coming for Week 8 against the New Orleans Saints, who have allowed eight wide receiver touchdowns over their last three games and the second-most fantasy points (29.7 per game, ESPN scoring) to the position as well. Thomas has been a bit up-and-down this season, with three 100-yard games and two games with less than 40 yards, but the physical mismatch he is for the Saints’ secondary means Peyton Manning should look his way early and often on Sunday night. There are few receivers with Thomas’ upside this week.

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Dud WR-Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

LFitz
Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Fitzgerald had just four catches for 29 yards against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 7, as fellow wide receiver Andre Roberts was targeted more than he was (nine to seven). Arizona’s Week 8 opponent, the San Francisco 49ers, will certainly make containing Fitzgerald a high priority next Monday night in what is already a tough matchup. The 49ers coming into this week allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers (14.9 per game, ESPN scoring), and have allowed just one touchdown to the position over their last six games. Fitzgerald fits into the “never bench your studs” philosophy for fantasy owners, but those that have him should keep their expectations in check this week.

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Stud TE-Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars

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Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE

Lewis has just 12 receptions over his last five games, with a single-game high of 32 yards in that span, so fantasy owners are certainly down on him if he is even on a roster in a lot of leagues. But a favorable situation could be coming in Week 8 against the Green Bay Packers, who have allowed 27 receptions to opposing tight ends over their last four games as well as the third-most targets (64) to the position overall this season. With running back Maurice Jones-Drew sidelined by a foot injury, the Jaguars’ may be throwing the ball more regardless of game situation and it’s fair to think they could be trailing significantly for most of the game. Jacksonville’s quarterback situation is not ideal for any of their pass catchers, but Lewis is line to be a primary option for whoever is under center on Sunday. Fantasy owners who are in a pinch due to injury or a bye week can consider him a low-end No. 1 option.

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Dud TE-Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers

VDavis
Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

Davis went without a catch against the Seattle Seahawks last week, and he was not even targeted by 49ers’ quarterback Alex Smith in the game. The prospects for a rebound look dismal this week against the Arizona Cardinals, who have allowed just 4.1 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends (second-fewest in the league, ESPN scoring) this season. In fact, the Cardinals have allowed just two catches for 11 yards (with one touchdown) to the position over their last three games combined. Davis should at least see some targets next Monday night, but whether he is able to do anything with them is a huge question. His fantasy owners may not have a clear better option to use in Week 8, but those that do should consider benching Davis.