Fantasy Football Week 8: Top Plays at Every Position
If you thought setting your fantasy lineup was tough thus far this season, you are in for a rude awakening the next few weeks. Half of the NFL is going on bye Week 8 through Week 10, and we are already coming off a devastating week of injuries.
This makes Bleacher Report's Top Plays at Every Position as important as ever in navigating the fantasy minefield this week.
Get all of the news, matchup analysis and rankings by position in this six-part slideshow.
Quarterbacks: We Should Still Be Sticking to Our Big Guns
- Robert Griffin III
- Tony Romo
- Michael Vick (hamstring)
- Mike Glennon (already played Thursday night)
- Chad Henne
Andrew Luck and Philip Rivers are the elite options on bye, while Jay Cutler (groin) and Matt Schaub (ankle) were going to be out of play because of injury anyway. No one will truly miss Joe Flacco or Jake Locker, although they have had their moments in two-quarterback formats.
Vick Returning Before He's Ready?
A division game against the suspect Giants is enough to have the Eagles try to work Michael Vick (hamstring) back before he's ready. The Giants, despite a solid performance Monday night, are the sixth-worst team in fantasy against quarterbacks, according to FFToday.com, and Jordan Raanan of NJ.com reports Vick took almost all of the first-team snaps in practice this week. Assuming Vick starts, the matchup is enough to make him a play in fantasy leagues.
"This is not an issue or situation to play around with," Vick told NJ.com. "I'm not up here playing games or blowing smoke. I'm just trying to figure out what's the best situation."
Pryor Performance Not Enough
Though the Oakland Raiders' Terrelle Pryor has had his moments, you should not like him against the Steelers defense this week. Pittsburgh has been the No. 1 team in fantasy against quarterbacks. The Steelers are No. 2 against the pass and have allowed a league-low five touchdown passes.
Like Him More
We should continue to be bullish with the likes of star quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Tom Brady. Despite the issues with their targets, they are still what makes their teams go. Ryan proved it last week for fantasy owners with his three-touchdown performance. Brady has Rob Gronkowski back and might be getting Danny Amendola (concussion) back, too.
Ryan and Brady are among the quarterbacks we like more than the consensus this week:
Like Him Less
You should love Robert Griffin III's matchup against the Broncos, who have been the second-worst team in fantasy against quarterbacks. Also, you should love the fact RG3 has found a budding star in tight end Jordan Reed. Still, though, we see good, not great, numbers for the disappointing quarterback here. The Redskins are not as high-volume of a passing team as some of the opponents that have made the Broncos look vulnerable.
RG3 is among the quarterbacks we like less than the masses below:
|1||Peyton Manning||Den||vs. Was||1||0|
|2||Aaron Rodgers||GB||at Min||3||+1|
|3||Drew Brees||NO||vs. Buf||2||-1|
|4||Cam Newton||Car||at TB||7||+3|
|5||Matthew Stafford||Det||vs. Dal||4||-1|
|6||Matt Ryan||Atl||at Ari||11||+5|
|7||Tom Brady||NE||vs. Mia||12||+5|
|8||Colin Kaepernick||SF||at Jac||10||+2|
|9||Robert Griffin||Was||at Den||5||-4|
|10||Russell Wilson||Sea||at StL||9||-1|
|11||Tony Romo||Dal||at Det||6||-5|
|12||Michael Vick||Phi||vs. NYG||8||-4|
|13||Ben Roethlisberger||Pit||at Oak||16||+3|
|14||Eli Manning||NYG||at Phi||13||-1|
|15||Andy Dalton||Cin||vs. NYJ||14||-1|
|16||Terrelle Pryor||Oak||vs. Pit||15||-1|
|17||Carson Palmer||Ari||vs. Atl||17||0|
|18||Alex Smith||KC||vs. Cle||18||0|
|19||Ryan Tannehill||Mia||at NE||19||0|
|20||Geno Smith||NYJ||at Cin||20||0|
|21||Thaddeus Lewis||Buf||at NO||21||0|
|22||Christian Ponder||Min||vs. GB||24||+2|
|23||Mike Glennon||TB||vs. Car||22||-1|
|24||Jason Campbell||Cle||at KC||27||+3|
|25||Chad Henne||Jac||vs. SF||23||-2|
|26||Kellen Clemens||StL||vs. Sea||29||+3|
Running Backs: While We Search for Answers, the Packers Have One in Eddie Lacy
- DeMarco Murray (knee)
- Kendall Hunter
- Jason Snelling
- Chris Ogbonnaya
- Robert Turbin
- Zac Stacy
- Mike James (already struggled Thursday night)
- Joseph Randle
- Mike Tolbert (whoopsy!)
- Brian Leonard (already struggled Thursday night)
- Khiry Robinson
The six bye teams have sapped up of the likes of Matt Forte, Ray Rice, Arian Foster, Trent Richardson, Chris Johnson and Ryan Mathews. And, injury has taken away the likes of Doug Martin, David Wilson, Ahmad Bradshaw and perhaps C.J. Spiller (ankle).
Outside of getting Steven Jackson (hamstring) and DeMarco Murray (knee) back at practice this week and in play for fantasy owners, it is time to dip into the depths of the running-back position. We help you do so below.
Packers Pounding the Ball Now
It has taken years, but Green Bay is finally getting back to its roots of pounding the ball on the ground. A healthy, steady rookie in Eddie Lacy certainly helps. Lacy not only leads the NFL with 301 yards rushing the past three weeks, but the Packers also had James Starks and Johnathan Franklin each rush for 100 yards before Lacy returned from his concussion.
This spells bad news for the Vikings, who are the worst team in fantasy against running backs, even allowing Peyton Hillis to prove fantasy viable off the street Monday night. The Packers are without Randall Cobb (knee) and Jermichael Finley (neck), and James Jones (knee) continues to be unable to practice. The Packers have turned to the running game, which should eventually help Aaron Rodgers in the play-action pass.
"You've got to run them out of a two-shell, and that's what we've done," running backs coach Alex Van Pelt told ESPN's Rob Demovsky. "We're there right now. It's coming around."
Campbell's Soup Won't Taste So Good
The Browns are turning to Jason Campbell as their quarterback this week, but it figures to be a tough situation against the Chiefs defense in Kansas City. Campbell is a game manager who needs a running game, but don't count on the Browns mustering much with shaky veteran Willis McGahee against the third-best team in fantasy against running backs.
We even rate Chris Ogbonnaya as the better play among Browns backs because his potential in the short passing game is what the limited Campbell needs.
Like Him More
We are going to assume the Cowboys' Murray is playing this week, so you should get him active in such a tough week for viable running-back options. Owner Jerry Jones told The Dallas Morning News' David Moore he likes what he has seen of Murray in practice, too.
Murray leads the backs we like considerably more than the consensus below:
Like Him Less
While you can like the emergence of Zac Stacy as the Rams' feature back, you have to hate the fact he will have Kellen Clemens as his starting quarterback now that Sam Bradford (knee) is out for the year. Stacy is a bad-to-terrible play against the Seahawks run defense, which is No. 5 in the NFL.
Stacy is going to see a lot of eight-man boxes, which is why he leads the backs we like less than the masses this week:
|Rank||Running Backs||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Adrian Peterson||Min||vs. GB||4||+3|
|2||LeSean McCoy||Phi||vs. NYG||3||+1|
|3||Jamaal Charles||KC||vs. Cle||1||-2|
|4||Frank Gore||SF||at Jac||5||+1|
|5||Marshawn Lynch||Sea||at StL||2||-3|
|6||Knowshon Moreno||Den||vs. Was||6||0|
|7||Reggie Bush||Det||vs. Dal||7||0|
|8||Alfred Morris||Was||at Den||9||+1|
|9||Eddie Lacy||GB||at Min||8||-1|
|10||Stevan Ridley||NE||vs. Mia||12||+2|
|11||Darren Sproles||NO||vs. Buf||14||+3|
|12||Le'Veon Bell||Pit||at Oak||10||-2|
|13||Steven Jackson||Atl||at Ari||18||+5|
|14||DeMarco Murray||Dal||at Det||28||+14|
|15||Fred Jackson||Buf||at NO||11||-4|
|16||Darren McFadden||Oak||vs. Pit||13||-3|
|17||Lamar Miller||Mia||at NE||23||+6|
|18||Pierre Thomas||NO||vs. Buf||21||+3|
|19||Rashard Mendenhall||Ari||vs. Atl||25||+6|
|20||Chris Ivory||NYJ||at Cin||22||+2|
|21||Giovani Bernard||Cin||vs. NYJ||15||-6|
|22||C.J. Spiller||Buf||at NO||26||+4|
|23||Maurice Jones-Drew||Jac||vs. SF||19||-4|
|24||DeAngelo Williams||Car||at TB||16||-8|
|25||Peyton Hillis||NYG||at Phi||32||+7|
|26||Jacquizz Rodgers||Atl||at Ari||30||+4|
|27||Zac Stacy||StL||vs. Sea||17||-10|
|28||Roy Helu||Was||at Den||29||+1|
|29||Joique Bell||Det||vs. Dal||33||+4|
|30||Kendall Hunter||SF||at Jac||40||+10|
|31||Andre Ellington||Ari||vs. Atl||24||-7|
|32||Mike James||TB||vs. Car||20||-12|
|33||Chris Ogbonnaya||Cle||at KC||42||+9|
|34||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Cin||vs. NYJ||31||-3|
|35||Bilal Powell||NYJ||at Cin||37||+2|
|36||Willis McGahee||Cle||at KC||35||-1|
|37||Robert Turbin||Sea||at StL||47||+10|
|38||Bryce Brown||Phi||vs. NYG||50||+12|
|39||Brandon Bolden||NE||vs. Mia||36||-3|
|40||Ronnie Hillman||Den||vs. Was||41||+1|
|41||Michael Cox||NYG||at Phi||48||+7|
|42||Jason Snelling||Atl||at Ari||43||+1|
|43||Brandon Jacobs||NYG||at Phi||34||-9|
|44||Joseph Randle||Dal||at Det||27||-17|
|45||Lance Dunbar||Dal||at Det||45||0|
|46||Daniel Thomas||Mia||at NE||38||-8|
|47||James Starks||GB||at Min||60||+13|
|48||Johnathan Franklin||GB||at Min||52||+4|
|49||Montee Ball||Den||vs. Was||51||+2|
|50||Mike Tolbert||Car||at TB||39||-11|
|51||LeGarrette Blount||NE||vs. Mia||56||+5|
|52||Daryl Richardson||StL||vs. Sea||53||+1|
|53||Felix Jones||Pit||at Oak||62||+9|
|54||Anthony Dixon||SF||at Jac||65||+11|
|55||Toby Gerhart||Min||vs. GB||58||+3|
|56||Brian Leonard||TB||vs. Car||44||-12|
|57||Justin Forsett||Jac||vs. SF||63||+6|
|58||Christine Michael||Sea||at StL||77||+19|
|59||Fozzy Whittaker||Cle||at KC||61||+2|
|60||LaMichael James||SF||at Jac||71||+11|
|61||Khiry Robinson||NO||vs. Buf||46||-15|
|62||Mark Ingram||NO||vs. Buf||57||-5|
|63||Phillip Tanner||Dal||at Det||59||-4|
|64||Knile Davis||KC||vs. Cle||73||+9|
Wide Receivers: Depth of the Position Makes for Less Problems Here
- Josh Gordon
- Danny Amendola
- Lance Moore
- Donnie Avery
- Ted Ginn (already starred Thursday night)
- Jason Avant
- Jarrett Boykin
- Steve Smith (already struggled Thursday night)
- Cecil Shorts
- Brian Hartline
- Dwayne Bowe
- Jeremy Kerley
There are so many viable wide receivers to go around in fantasy that even six bye teams cannot really put a damper on our lineups. Sure, we will miss the likes of Torrey Smith, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Kendall Wright, T.Y. Hilton, Keenan Allen, Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins, but the myriad options below soften the blow of injuries and absences at this position.
Anticipate a Giant Rebound
There have been a number of reasons Hakeem Nicks has been a bum for fantasy owners. First, Eli Manning has been an interception machine. Second, the offensive line hasn't given the Giants time to throw. Third, Rueben Randle has emerged to steal some targets, particularly in the red zone. And, finally, when everything goes right and Nicks does get thrown to, he has dropped it too often—like he did Monday night.
The Eagles are next on the schedule, though, so all three of Manning's targets, Victor Cruz, Nicks and Randle, are viable starters. The Eagles have been the worst team in fantasy against wide receivers, allowing league-worst totals in receptions (122), yards (1,555) and touchdowns (14).
Amendola Returning Too Soon?
Danny Amendola (concussion) has been practicing on a limited basis this week, according to the NFL Injury Report, but don't expect the Patriots and Bill Belichick to be forthcoming with any information until the Sunday inactives come out.
Amendola is about as "game-time decision" as it gets this week, and the fact the Dolphins are No. 3 in fantasy against wide receivers and haven't allowed a touchdown reception to the position all year might lead you to avoid him, despite our optimistic ranking below.
Like Him More
Josh Gordon is coming off his first bad week and has to contend with the Browns' quarterback change to Jason Campbell, as well as the Chiefs defense, but he is still too good to sit in any fantasy league, particularly amid this heavy bye week and the injuries of late.
Gordon leads the wide receivers we like more than the masses below:
Like Him Less
The Jarrett Boykin phenomenon is legit, especially because James Jones (knee) still isn't practicing, according to the official NFL Injury Report. The matchup against the Vikings is also favorable. What we don't necessarily like is it could be a busy week for Eddie Lacy, James Starks and even Johnathan Franklin on the ground, and Jordy Nelson through the air.
Boykin is a must-start in all leagues, but he still rates as one of the wideouts we like less than the consensus this week:
|Rank||Wide Receivers||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Calvin Johnson||Det||vs. Dal||1||0|
|2||Dez Bryant||Dal||at Det||2||0|
|3||A.J. Green||Cin||vs. NYJ||4||+1|
|4||Jordy Nelson||GB||at Min||3||-1|
|5||Wes Welker||Den||vs. Was||6||+1|
|6||Demaryius Thomas||Den||vs. Was||5||-1|
|7||Eric Decker||Den||vs. Was||12||+5|
|8||Victor Cruz||NYG||at Phi||7||-1|
|9||DeSean Jackson||Phi||vs. NYG||8||-1|
|10||Larry Fitzgerald||Ari||vs. Atl||13||+3|
|11||Marques Colston||NO||vs. Buf||16||+5|
|12||Antonio Brown||Pit||at Oak||10||-2|
|13||Josh Gordon||Cle||at KC||19||+6|
|14||Vincent Jackson||TB||vs. Car||9||-5|
|15||Pierre Garcon||Was||at Den||11||-4|
|16||Danny Amendola||NE||vs. Mia||38||+22|
|17||Justin Blackmon||Jac||vs. SF||14||-3|
|18||Hakeem Nicks||NYG||at Phi||20||+2|
|19||Anquan Boldin||SF||at Jac||17||-2|
|20||Mike Wallace||Mia||at NE||21||+1|
|21||Harry Douglas||Atl||at Ari||22||+1|
|22||Jarrett Boykin||GB||at Min||15||-7|
|23||Terrance Williams||Dal||at Det||26||+3|
|24||Steve Smith||Car||at TB||18||-6|
|25||Rueben Randle||NYG||at Phi||24||-1|
|26||Greg Jennings||Min||vs. GB||31||+5|
|27||Denarius Moore||Oak||vs. Pit||27||0|
|28||Lance Moore||NO||vs. Buf||54||+26|
|29||Michael Floyd||Ari||vs. Atl||25||-4|
|30||Cecil Shorts||Jac||vs. SF||23||-7|
|31||Golden Tate||Sea||at StL||32||+1|
|32||Steve Johnson||Buf||at NO||29||-3|
|33||Julian Edelman||NE||vs. Mia||33||0|
|34||Kris Durham||Det||vs. Dal||36||+2|
|35||Brian Hartline||Mia||at NE||28||-7|
|36||Kenbrell Thompkins||NE||vs. Mia||40||+4|
|37||Emmanuel Sanders||Pit||at Oak||35||-2|
|38||Mike Williams||TB||vs. Car||39||+1|
|39||Donnie Avery||KC||vs. Cle||53||+14|
|40||Dwayne Bowe||KC||vs. Cle||34||-6|
|41||Brandon LaFell||Car||at TB||37||-4|
|42||Roddy White||Atl||at Ari||41||-1|
|43||James Jones||GB||at Min||48||+5|
|44||Ted Ginn||Car||at TB||57||+13|
|45||Jeremy Kerley||NYJ||at Cin||30||-15|
|46||Stephen Hill||NYJ||at Cin||42||-4|
|47||Brandon Gibson||Mia||at NE||44||-3|
|48||Sidney Rice||Sea||at StL||46||-2|
|49||Riley Cooper||Phi||vs. NYG||49||0|
|50||Jason Avant||Phi||vs. NYG||56||+6|
|51||Aaron Dobson||NE||vs. Mia||47||-4|
|52||Robert Woods||Buf||at NO||43||-9|
|53||Jerricho Cotchery||Pit||at Oak||65||+12|
|54||Rod Streater||Oak||vs. Pit||58||+4|
|55||Doug Baldwin||Sea||at StL||62||+7|
|56||Jon Baldwin||SF||at Jac||91||+35|
|57||Santana Moss||Was||at Den||74||+17|
|58||Miles Austin||Dal||at Det||67||+9|
|59||Kenny Stills||NO||vs. Buf||52||-7|
|60||Chris Givens||StL||vs. Sea||60||0|
|61||Austin Pettis||StL||vs. Sea||61||0|
|62||Jerome Simpson||Min||vs. GB||45||-17|
|63||Leonard Hankerson||Was||at Den||55||-8|
|64||David Nelson||NYJ||at Cin||72||+8|
|65||Greg Little||Cle||at KC||71||+6|
|66||Andre Roberts||Ari||vs. Atl||70||+4|
|67||Davone Bess||Cle||at KC||79||+12|
|68||Mohamed Sanu||Cin||vs. NYJ||66||-2|
|69||Marvin Jones||Cin||vs. NYJ||50||-19|
|70||Nick Toon||NO||vs. Buf||96||+26|
|71||Ryan Broyles||Det||vs. Dal||76||+5|
|72||Tavon Austin||StL||vs. Sea||63||-9|
|73||Brian Quick||StL||vs. Sea||78||+5|
|74||Dexter McCluster||KC||vs. Cle||84||+10|
|75||Cole Beasley||Dal||at Det||59||-16|
|76||Cordarrelle Patterson||Min||vs. GB||73||-3|
Tight Ends: Saints, Fantasy Owners Likely Need a Stopgap for Jimmy Graham
- Kyle Rudolph
- Anthony Fasano
- Brandon Myers
- Lance Kendricks
- Marcedes Lewis
- Vernon Davis
- Jordan Reed
- Tyler Eifert
- Jeff Cumberland
- Scott Chandler
We finally get Rob Gronkowski back into fantasy lineups and now we have to deal with another potential week without Jimmy Graham (foot). He missed practice again Thursday, according to the official NFL Injury Report, and Larry Holder of The Times-Picayune reports the Saints are readying Ben Watson to start.
That is disappointing news for those hoping they wouldn't need anyone but Graham at the position from here on out. Despite our No. 1 ranking of him below, you have to expect him to be on the wrong side of Sunday's game-time decision. Have a replacement handy.
Gonzalez Headed for Big Week
Atlanta's Tony Gonzalez wasn't himself last week against the Bucs, coming off two huge weeks before the bye, which is particularly surprising with the Falcons having injuries to Julio Jones (foot) and Roddy White (ankle/hamstring). Expect Gonzalez to be a one-man wrecking crew against a Cardinals defense that has been the worst in fantasy against tight ends to date.
You Have the Wrong Jordan Now?
Jordan Cameron might be giving way to Jordan Reed as the breakthrough tight end of the year. The Browns' Cameron hasn't slowed enough to sit in fantasy, but Reed was a monster last week and the Browns have some things to be worried about if you are a Cameron owner this week: 1) Jason Campbell is taking over for Brandon Weeden. 2) The Chiefs are the No. 1 team in fantasy against tight ends. Keep Cameron active, but be wary of what the quarterback change and matchup might do to his numbers.
Like Him More
Kyle Rudolph had his best performance in Week 6 before putting up that stinker with Josh Freeman (concussion) Monday night. The likely move back to Christian Ponder could be a good thing for Rudolph owners. After all, it was Ponder who made Rudolph such a potent weapon in the red zone a year ago and a top-10 pick at the position this preseason.
Rudolph leads the tight ends we like more than most this week:
Like Him Less
Before we go anointing the Redskins' Reed a fantasy star, we should proceed with caution. Not so much caution that we sit him, but don't expect consistent numbers week to week. The Broncos are better than they have played in the secondary.
Reed is among the tight ends we like a bit less than the consensus:
|Rank||Tight Ends||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Jimmy Graham||NO||vs. Buf||3||+2|
|2||Rob Gronkowski||NE||vs. Mia||1||-1|
|3||Julius Thomas||Den||vs. Was||4||+1|
|4||Jason Witten||Dal||at Det||6||+2|
|5||Tony Gonzalez||Atl||at Ari||5||0|
|6||Jordan Cameron||Cle||at KC||8||+2|
|7||Vernon Davis||SF||at Jac||2||-5|
|8||Kyle Rudolph||Min||vs. GB||12||+4|
|9||Greg Olsen||Car||at TB||10||+1|
|10||Charles Clay||Mia||at NE||11||+1|
|11||Jordan Reed||Was||at Den||7||-4|
|12||Heath Miller||Pit||at Oak||9||-3|
|13||Brandon Pettigrew||Det||vs. Dal||16||+3|
|14||Jared Cook||StL||vs. Sea||17||+3|
|15||Anthony Fasano||KC||vs. Cle||24||+9|
|16||Joseph Fauria||Det||vs. Dal||14||-2|
|17||Rob Housler||Ari||vs. Atl||18||+1|
|18||Brandon Myers||NYG||at Phi||25||+7|
|19||Tyler Eifert||Cin||vs. NYJ||15||-4|
|20||Jeff Cumberland||NYJ||at Cin||13||-7|
|21||Jermaine Gresham||Cin||vs. NYJ||21||0|
|22||Tim Wright||TB||vs. Car||23||+1|
|23||Zach Miller||Sea||at StL||22||-1|
|24||Lance Kendricks||StL||vs. Sea||29||+5|
|25||Zach Ertz||Phi||vs. NYG||28||+3|
|26||Scott Chandler||Buf||at NO||19||-7|
|27||Marcedes Lewis||Jac||vs. SF||31||+4|
|28||Brent Celek||Phi||vs. NYG||26||-2|
|29||Sean McGrath||KC||vs. Cle||32||+3|
|30||Ben Watson||NO||vs. Buf||27||-3|
|31||Mychal Rivera||Oak||vs. Pit||33||+2|
|32||Levine Toilolo||Atl||at Ari||35||+3|
Defense/Special Teams: We Have to Turn to Some Softer Units This Week
- New England Patriots
- New York Jets
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Dallas Cowboys
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Carolina Panthers (already played Thursday night)
- Arizona Cardinals
- Oakland Raiders
There is no shortage of streaming options as we rate some of the softer defenses as viable options this week, including Green Bay, New Orleans and Philadelphia. Even the resurgent units of the Steelers and Jets rank among the starters with the sliding Ravens, Texans and Bears on a bye.
Giants Matchup Too Good to Ignore?
Throw out the Monday-night performance against the Vikings. They stink. The Giants are still the second-worst team in fantasy against opposing defense/special teams. The Eagles embarrassed the Giants back in Week 5 on the road, finishing among the top eight fantasy units in standard-scoring leagues. You have to figure the circumstances will be better at home here in Week 8.
Cowboy Down Instead of Up?
The Cowboys have been one of the biggest surprises at this position, sitting No. 2 behind only the Chiefs in standard scoring to date. We still rate their unit outside of the top 12 options this week, though, because the Cowboys are facing the Lions, who have been the third-toughest opponent for opposing defensive units in fantasy to date. You might have no choice but to start them, but the matchup could be a deal breaker if you have one of those higher-ranking units below.
Like Them More
The Pats have had significant injuries to their defense, but their unit is still one of the trustworthy options at the position this week—especially since the Dolphins have been the seventh most favorable matchup for opposing defenses.
The Pats are among the teams we like more than the consensus below:
Like Them Less
You might not have noticed in the Falcons' disappointing start to the season, but Atlanta has been the toughest matchup for opposing defenses. For that reason, we rank the Cardinals among the defenses we like less than the masses this week:
|Rank||Defenses and Special Teams||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Seattle Seahawks||Sea||at StL||2||+1|
|2||San Francisco 49ers||SF||at Jac||3||+1|
|3||Kansas City Chiefs||KC||vs. Cle||1||-2|
|4||New England Patriots||NE||vs. Mia||6||+2|
|5||Cincinnati Bengals||Cin||vs. NYJ||5||0|
|6||Carolina Panthers||Car||at TB||4||-2|
|7||Green Bay Packers||GB||at Min||8||+1|
|8||New Orleans Saints||NO||vs. Buf||7||-1|
|9||Pittsburgh Steelers||Pit||at Oak||9||0|
|10||Philadelphia Eagles||Phi||vs. NYG||10||0|
|11||New York Jets||NYJ||at Cin||14||+3|
|12||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||TB||vs. Car||16||+4|
|13||Dallas Cowboys||Dal||at Det||17||+4|
|14||Atlanta Falcons||Atl||at Ari||13||-1|
|15||Arizona Cardinals||Ari||vs. Atl||12||-3|
|16||Denver Broncos||Den||vs. Was||15||-1|
|17||Oakland Raiders||Oak||vs. Pit||11||-6|
|18||Detroit Lions||Det||vs. Dal||19||+1|
|19||Cleveland Browns||Cle||at KC||18||-1|
|20||Miami Dolphins||Mia||at NE||21||+1|
Kickers: Having Someone Through Their Bye Is Reason Enough to Like Him Here
- Mason Crosby
- Ryan Succop
- Caleb Sturgis
- Shaun Suisham
- Josh Brown
- Alex Henery
- Steven Hauschka
- Dan Bailey
- Kai Forbath
- David Aker
The bye weeks have the tendency to create some waiver opportunities at the kicker position. The best of those likely cut this week include Justin Tucker—a preseason top-seven option—Adam Vinatieri and Nick Novak.
You could pick up any of those three this weekend or next Tuesday night and be set for the season at the position.
In the meantime…
Bailey Back in Fantasy's Good Graces
The Cowboys' Dan Bailey has had some lean weeks after a torrid start, but he looks to rebound against a Lions team that has allowed the second most field goals in the NFL to date (18). Only the idle Ravens have allowed more (19). Bailey remains a start, barely, before he finally goes on a bye.
Pack up Walsh for the Week
The hamstring injury isn't enough to consider moving away from the Vikings' Blair Walsh, but their quarterback issues and the matchup against the Packers are reasons to. The Packers are tied with the Saints for allowing the fewest made field goals thus far this season. Walsh is far less of a sure thing in fantasy, especially coming off that stinker Monday night.
Like Them More
We have been jockeying Mason Crosby as one of the resurgent kicker stars in fantasy and continue to like him more than the consensus. The absence of some of the Packers' premium receivers and a renewed emphasis on the running game have helped Crosby, too.
Here are the kickers we like more than others this week:
Like Them Less
We cannot be sure the Giants have truly turned their defense around, but they cannot possibly be as bad as they had looked before Week 7, right? It is perhaps the only reason to be a bit more wary of Alex Henery as a must-start fantasy kicker.
Here are those we like less than the consensus:
|1||Stephen Gostkowski||NE||vs. Mia||1||0|
|2||Matt Prater||Den||vs. Was||2||0|
|3||Mason Crosby||GB||at Min||9||+6|
|4||Garrett Hartley||NO||vs. Buf||4||0|
|5||Alex Henery||Phi||vs. NYG||3||-2|
|6||Matt Bryant||Atl||at Ari||6||0|
|7||Ryan Succop||KC||vs. Cle||10||+3|
|8||Phil Dawson||SF||at Jac||8||0|
|9||Steven Hauschka||Sea||at StL||5||-4|
|10||Dan Bailey||Dal||at Det||7||-3|
|11||Blair Walsh||Min||vs. GB||11||0|
|12||Caleb Sturgis||Mia||at NE||21||+9|
|13||Shaun Suisham||Pit||at Oak||15||+2|
|14||Kai Forbath||Was||at Den||12||-2|
|15||Mike Nugent||Cin||vs. NYJ||14||-1|
|16||David Akers||Det||vs. Dal||13||-3|
|17||Sebastian Janikowski||Oak||vs. Pit||16||-1|
|18||Jay Feely||Ari||vs. Atl||17||-1|
|19||Josh Brown||NYG||at Phi||23||+4|
|20||Nick Folk||NYJ||at Cin||18||-2|