This is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst fantasy football matchups for Week 8 of the 2014 NFL season. Decisions are based upon the FFN rankings and matchup analysis. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid.
This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You don't need us to tell you to start Peyton Manning, Jimmy Graham, or LeSean McCoy. Instead, we take a look at other players on your team that we believe either have great matchups or should be avoided for multiple reasons. Factors like opposing defense, performance trending, and peer comparisons may influence our decisions.
Start 'em - Carson Palmer (ARI, QB)
If you're looking for a bye-week QB, Carson Palmer is your man. If Kirk Cousins, Chad Henne, and Austin Davis can score 20+ points against the Eagles, Palmer is a lock to at least do that. Philadelphia has given up the 5th-most fantasy points to opposing QB's this year.
Start 'em - Ryan Tannehill (MIA, QB)
Another great bye-week QB is Ryan Tannehill which is why he's showing up in the FFN Top 12 this week making him a QB1 start. He's also become a dual threat QB rushing for 48 yards and 49 yards in the last two games. He has thrown at least 31 times in the last three games and will likely be looking downfield against the Jaguars who are giving up the 9th-most fantasy points to QB's this year.
Start 'em - Russell Wilson (SEA, QB)
Percy who? Russell Wilson showed that he didn't need Harvin last week when he became the first QB to throw for 300+ yards and rush for 100+ yards in a game. We're not expecting that kind of repeat performance, but Wilson did throw for over 300 yards last year against the Panthers. Carolina is giving up the 6th-most fantasy points to QB's this year.
Start 'em - Joique Bell (DET, RB)
Even though Reggie Bush made the trip to London, it doesn't appear that he's going to be playing (officially listed as doubtful) which makes Joique Bell an even more attractive start this week against the Falcons who have been on a defensive slide this year giving up more fantasy points to RB's than anyone else. Look for Bell to find the endzone across the pond.
Start 'em - Shane Vereen (NE, RB)
You can never tell what Bill Belichick will do, but Vereen saw enough action last week with Ridley gone to put in a solid day. Vereen has quietly become the 13th-best RB (ppr) in fantasy with 444 yards of production and 3 scores. We're expecting Vereen to have a decent day against a dysfunctional Bears team this week.
Start 'em - Ben Tate (CLE, RB)
It's tough to know what you're going to get out of any Browns player, but Ben Tate has another choice matchup against a Raiders defense that has given up the 2nd-most fantasy points to opposing RB's this year. Don't let last week's disappointment prevent you from starting Tate this week.
Start 'em - Doug Baldwin (SEA, WR)
If Doug Baldwin is still available on your waiver wire, go grab him. The Panthers are giving up the 2nd-most fantasy points to opposing WR's and Baldwin has a chance for solid upside this week.
Start 'em - Sammy Watkins (BUF, WR)
The QB can make all the difference. With Kyle Orton under center, Watkins has played like a WR1 (minus the one week on Revis Island). Watkins looks healthy and his routes have been sharp. His rapport with Orton has produced 7 for 87 yards and 9 for 122 yards and 2 scores. Watkins is on a roll.
Start 'em - Mohamed Sanu (CIN, WR)
Without AJ Green, Mohamed Sanu has been the main man in Cincy. That bodes well this week when the Bengals face rival Baltimore. The Ravens are giving up more receiving yards this year to WR's than any other team. We're expecting plenty of targets and a solid fantasy day from Sanu.
Start 'em - Zach Ertz (PHI, TE)
The TE position has been tumultuous this year. Zach Ertz was one of those guys with high expectations who hasn't fully lived up to them. He's the 13th-best fantasy TE (ppr) this year, but should finish in the Top 10 this week against a Cardinals team that is giving up the 7th-most fantasy points to TE's.
Start 'em - Jordan Reed (WAS, TE)
If you stashed Jordan Reed while he dealt with his injury, it's time to cash in that lottery ticket. With 13 receptions for 146 yards in the last two games, Reed has come back swinging. With Colt McCoy under center, we're expecting Reed to be leaned on even as they face a Dallas D that is giving up the 2nd-most fantasy points to TE's.
Start 'em - Adam Vinatieri (IND, K)
There are just certain guys that consistently deliver over time and Adam Vinatieri is one of those guys. He's a Top 5 kicker in fantasy this year and a Top 5 kicker this week facing a Steelers defense that gives up the 5th-most fantasy points to the position.
Start 'em - Dallas Cowboys (DAL, DEF)
They may have struggled a bit earlier this year, but the Dallas Cowboys have come back strong. They face a Redskins offense with Colt McCoy under center this week and the Redskins are giving up the 6th-most fantasy points to opposing DST's.
Sit 'em - Joe Flacco (BAL, QB)
First things first - the Bengals are not the Buccaneers. Joe Flacco will not be able to throw five scores at will against Cincy like he did against Tampa Bay. Second, Flacco has a terrible history playing the Bengals in Cincinnati throwing almost double the picks as scores. Flacco should be considered a QB2 this week.
Sit 'em - Matt Ryan (ATL, QB)
Detroit's defense has been very tough this year and the offensive line of the Falcons is in shambles. Matt Ryan will be playing in London - not the Georgia Dome - so he loses that edge this week. Expect the Lions to put plenty of pressure on Ryan Sunday morning.
Sit 'em - Bishop Sankey (TEN, RB)
As Van Wilder's dad said, "Sometimes you just have to realize a poor investment and simply cut you losses, write that down". Sadly, Bishop Sankey fits that mold. With his last two beautiful matchups, he has failed to deliver on the expectations we had of him before your draft. Houston can be run on and they can be scored on - just not by Sankey.
Sit 'em - Zac Stacy (STL, RB)
What do you get when you combine a defense that gives up the 5th-fewest fantasy points and the fewest scores to RB's with a RB that doesn't get the carries or targets that you expected him to get? The answer is Zac Stacy. Even if Benny Cunningham and Tre Mason weren't in the picture and Stacy was relevant in that backfield, the matchup would be tough for even a good RB.
Sit 'em - Cordarrelle Patterson (MIN, WR)
By putting him on the Sit list, we're hoping that karma will somehow influence a big fantasy day for Cordarrelle Patterson. After all, the matchups don't get much better than this, but Patterson has been difficult to trust. With last week's exception, Patterson has been a stranger to the endzone. The Vikes just don't seem to get him involved which hurts his fantasy value.
Sit 'em - Percy Harvin (NYJ, WR)
Is Percy Harvin talented? Yes, but you knew that already. Does he have a chip on his shoulder? Perhaps. Should you start him in his first week on a new team? Only if you're feeling risky. Harvin will have to get up to speed quickly and will have to share a limited number of targets with the Jets' WR1 Eric Decker. Too much risk if you've got other options.
Sit 'em - Delanie Walker (TEN, TE)
The QB situation in Tennessee is not doing anybody any good. Wright and Hunter have huge question marks on their backs and so does Delanie Walker. Even if Walker had a decently-reliable QB throwing to him, his history against the Texans should give you concern. He had a total of 4 catches, 39 yards, and a score in two games last year. The Texans give up the 7th-fewest fantasy points (ppr).
Sit 'em - Matt Bryant (ATL, K)
The Lions have a great defense meaning that kickers aren't always able to get into position to put up points. In fact, Detroit gives up the 9th-fewest points to them and Bryant (and the Atlanta offense) has been on the skids as of late. There are better kickers available this week.
Sit 'em - Pittsburgh Steelers (PIT, DEF)
Pittsburgh is synonymous with defense. The Steel City has always had a stout defense and ranks among the Top 12 in fantasy this year, but expectations need to be lowered when they face a red-hot Andrew Luck and the Colts. Put the Steelers on the bench this week.
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