Week 8 is the first of two messy bye week logjams for fantasy owners. My thoughts on who to start and who to avoid as you try to plug-in the holes on your roster…
A couple of the trickiest plays this week involves running backs coming back from injury. DeMarco Murray and Steven Jackson are supposed to return to the field this weekend. But their state of readiness for a full game of action is anything but clear. It sounds like both could be sharing some of the load with their backups.
A good approach here is be to make Murray and Jackson nothing more than RB2 choices in Week 8. They can both give you points, but fantasy owners should not expect normal production from them. If you are looking for a sleeper running back who might hold more promise than these two, try Fred Jackson. With Spiller out, it looks like he will be carrying a full load for Buffalo in their game against New Orleans. Consider him a high-end RB2 this week. Also consider starting Giants RB Peyton Hillis. He is worth a flex start this week as Jacobs appears to be out for another week. Remember, he used to be on the cover of Madden Football not too long ago, so there is some hope here….
Harry Douglas is once again a great option as a WR2 with upside. He should continue to see lots of targets from Matt Ryan. And fantasy owners should look at starting Terrance Williams as a WR3 with upside. Finally, there is Green Bay’s Jarrett Boykin. Teammate James Jones is out another week, making Boykin a prime target for Aaron Rodgers. Start Boykin as a WR2 with upside.
Despite the woes of Tom Brady, TE Rob Gronkowski is a must-start every week going forward. And don’t forget about Redskins TE Jordan Reed. Griffin is finally coming into his own this season, and Reed has become one of his favorite targets. Start Reed as a low-end TE1 with great upside. And if you are in need of a TE2, try Charles Clay. Despite a low reception count, he has been scoring touchdowns for Miami and his fantasy owners. He is a TE2 in Week 8.
Robert Griffin III probably has a shootout in store for him in Denver this week. He should be played as a QB1 with upside. Michael Vick is also a QB1 this week as he returns to the field and goes up against the hapless New York Giants. And if you are in need of a good lower tier quarterback this weekend, try Andy Dalton. He’s on a bit of a hot streak, and faces a Jets secondary that has been vulnerable at times. Dalton is a solid QB2 in Week 8.
On the flip side, fantasy owners should temper their expectations for Tom Brady. Even though he almost has all of the pieces back, his offense still needs time to play together as a group. And Miami has not been kind to Brady over the years. Consider Brady a QB2 with ceiling this week. In the same game, Ryan Tannehill may be in for a long afternoon in Foxborough. He is only a low-end QB2 this week. But if you have to use him, use him. He is a better choice than the likes of Christian Ponder and Jason Campbell.
Fantasy owners should exercise caution in playing WR Josh Gordon this week. His team is in Kansas City with a new QB under center. Gordon should be viewed as a low-end WR2 with both upside and downside in Week 8. Also, be careful about Jimmy Graham. His injury appears to linger, and if he hits the field and stays on it very long, he could be more of a decoy than a legitimate threat. Consider Graham a low-end TE2 this week with downside. Find someone else to take his spot, if you can.
Jets RB Chris Ivory is facing a tough Bengals defense. He is a low-end RB2 this week. And it would be wise to start others ahead of Maurice Jones-Drew as he goes against the San Francisco 49ers. Jones-Drew also gets low-end RB2 designation, at best, in Week 8. Arizona’s Andre Ellington would be a better play.
Finally, for those wondering about Alfred Morris and Roy Helu… there are no easy answers here. Morris is definitely the lead back. But it appears the Redskins like using Helu during hurry-up offense situations. This week may present another shootout with plenty of hurry-up offense as the Redskins try to keep up with Peyton Manning and the Broncos. So expect more of the same from Morris and Helu in Week 8 as what you saw in Week 7. That makes Morris a RB2 with limited upside and Helu a solid flex play with upside this weekend.
Best of luck to everyone! I will be on Twitter (@murphysguide) fielding Start/Sit questions throughout the morning.