Fantasy Football Week 8: Featured Start ‘Em List
Week 8 fantasy football is in full swing after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Minnesota Vikings 36-17 on Thursday night. If you are a Doug Martin or Adrian Peterson owner, you should have gotten a head start on your opponent. As always, I’m not here to waste anyone’s time and state the obvious. I’m here to find the value and the unknowns on a week to week basis that will help you gain the advantage against your league foe. Good luck this week, folks.
Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler
This is the first time this season that Jay Cutler has made my featured start ‘em list. Cutler hasn’t been spectacular this year, but he hasn’t been bad either. He has thrown a touchdown in three consecutive games, and has only thrown one interception in that span. The Carolina Panthers pass defense ranks in the top half of the league, and have only allowed two quarterbacks to eclipse 300 yards this season. So why does Jay fit the bill this week?
Well, one reason is that he has a man named Brandon Marshall that he can force feed all day long. The second reason, is the fact that the Panthers just lost their best secondary player in Chris Gamble, who was placed on IR with a shoulder injury. I also think RB Matt Forte will be able to exploit this weak rush defense, thus opening up the passing game for Cutler. According to my numbers, Cutler should have around 250 passing yards in this game, with a QB rating over 90. Throw in the probability of at least one touchdown, and that’s a pretty productive day for Cutler.
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
I proclaimed this earlier in the week, and I will do it again. Ben Roethlisberger is a MUST START this weekend. The Steelers running game is obsolete for the first time in like 50 years, so Ben is looking to throw often.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. Redskins 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 Redskins. Big Ben and his talented receiving core will 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.
Indianapolis Colts RB Vick Ballard
I keep putting my faith in Vick Ballard, but this will be the last week of showing him love if he fails to score a touchdown against a weak Tennessee Titans rush defense. The Titans have given up the fifth most fantasy points to the running back position, and have allowed 5 of the 7 teams they faced to eclipse 100 rushing yards. Ballard rushed 20 times last week against the Cleveland Browns for 84 yards, but zero touchdowns. If he sees 20+ rushing attempts against this defense, he should eclipse 100 yards and finally see the end zone.
Green Bay Packers RB Alex Green
The Green Bay Packers should have no problem handling a Jacksonville Jaguars team that is without their starting RB Maurice Jones-Drew. Packers will be without WR Greg Jennings who is having surgery on his groin and will be out at least three weeks. WR Jordy Nelson is also questionable, and my guess is he doesn’t play since he did not practice all week. The reality is, the Packers won’t need either of those guys to beat the lowly Jaguars. The Jaguars have given up the third most fantasy points to opposing running backs, and have allowed 100+ rushing yards in four of their six games. With a blowout on the horizon, look for Green to get plenty of carries, especially during garbage time.
Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon
I tried to warn the fantasy community about Josh Gordon two weeks ago. He has emerged as the Browns top receiver and play maker. Gordon has four touchdowns on seven receptions in his past three games which is pretty remarkable. Now he gets to face a San Diego Chargers defense that has been smoked to the tune of 651 yards and eight touchdowns in the past three weeks. With RB Trent Richardson nursing a rib injury, the Browns game plan should be all about shredding up this awful secondary. Gordon and Greg Little will be the main beneficiaries, but I’m going with Gordon to make it four consecutive weeks with a score.
Philadelphia Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin
Jeremy Maclin is the best receiver on the Eagles, and now that his hip injury is all but a thing of the past, look for him to turn it up in the second half of the season. Before his week 7 bye, Maclin recorded 6 receptions for 130 yards and a score against the Lions. He then got an extra week of rest, and now faces the Atlanta Falcons. Yes, the Falcons pass defense is no cakewalk, giving up the 6th fewest points to the WR position, but they have been vulnerable as of late allowing 334 yards and three touchdowns. The Eagles are terrific off the bye week, and should give the Falcons all they can handle on Sunday. Maclin will continue to be Mike Vick’s favorite red zone target, and should hit pay dirt in this one.
New York Jets TE Dustin Keller
Don’t try to fix something that isn’t broken, right? Last week, Keller was on my featured start ‘em list, and I’m going to give him the honor again. After missing the majority of the season with a bum hamstring, Keller came back strong in week 7 against the New England Patriots, recording 7 receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. The match up against the Miami Dolphins isn’t a great one, as they have yet to allow a touchdown by an opposing tight end, but they have allowed nice chunks of yardage and reception totals. Jets QB Mark Sanchez will be looking Keller’s way quite often, so the potential for a big day is certainly there.
Pittsburgh Steelers TE Heath Miller
With Big Ben in for a huge fantasy day, you can’t help but think that Heath Miller will be a part of the equation. The Washington Redskins rank second to last in defending the opposing tight end. Skins have allowed five touchdowns to the tight end position, and that’s the same amount of total touchdowns Miller has on the year. Redskins have allowed 27 receptions and 288 yards to the tight end position in the past three games. The probability that Miller catches a touchdown in this game is very high so start him with confidence.
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