It's getting close to make or break time for league's everywhere. We break down the fantasy implications.
The regular season is flying by, and fantasy owners are getting closer every day to playoff time. Bye weeks are still in full effect, while injuries continue to take their toll left and right.
Maurice Jones-Drew, DeMarco Murray and Trent Richardson are just a few big names currently nursing ailments and frustrating owners everywhere. Hopefully you're one of the lucky ones who doesn't have multiple red letters on their lineup at this point.
Let's take a look at some of potentially lesser known players who you should look into starting this week, and a few stars who need to find a seat on the bench.
Brandon Weeden, quarterback - We're really going out on a limb here. We've seen Weeden throw for 230+ yards and two touchdowns in each of the past three weeks. The Chargers have given up 12 passing touchdowns in their last four games, and it hasn't been pretty. Weeden is by no means a fantasy stud, but if you're looking for a spot start, you might want to give him a shot. Cleveland might have a less than 100 percent Trent Richardson this week, or no Richardson at all, forcing the Browns to turn to the passing game more. He's a risk, but you might have the right matchup here with Weeden.
Willis McGahee, running back - His last two games against tough run defenses haven't been outstanding, but McGahee should be in for a huge day against New Orleans this week. The Saints have allowed the most points to running backs, and aside from the Packers, every team they've faced scored at least one rushing touchdown. McGahee is also starting to make an impact in the receiving game. His stock will go up this week, and you should take advantage of his easy matchup.
Brandon Gibson, wide receiver - The Patriots have yielded at least one touchdown to opposing receivers in all but their lone game against the Jets last week. Gibson isn't known for being an elite talent, but that shouldn't matter against the Pats secondary. We can assume Sam Bradford will be throwing the ball often in his attempt to hang with Tom Brady's offense, and with Gibson being the No. 1 receiver for the Rams these days, he stands to put in a solid fantasy outing across the pond.
Heath Miller, tight end - Miller scored in four of his first six games. Ben Roethlisberger continues to look for him often in the red zone, and we should expect no less from this duo in Week 8. The Redskins have allowed a touchdown to five different tight ends this year, a fact that bodes well for Miller's value once again. He is still available in plenty of leagues, so if you're struggling at tight end, pick up Miller.
Packers defense/special teams - The Packers rank 17th in pass and run defense. To make matters worse, they just lost Charles Woodson for a significant amount of the year. None of this should matter, though, on Sunday. They'll take on a Jaguars offense that is now without Maurice Jones-Drew, and is currently being operated by a less than 100 percent Blaine Gabbert. Could it get any worse? Do yourself a favor and start Green Bay against this abysmal offense.
Cam Newton, quarterback - The Panthers look awful on offense, and Cam pouting in postgame press conferences doesn't exactly bode well for his value going forward. They have weapons. They have star athletes. It's just not coming together. Carolina heads to Chicago this weekend to likely be stifled once again in the scoring department. The Bears have allowed the fewest points to quarterbacks this year, only allowing five passing touchdowns in six games. It's probably tough for you to bench one of your top draft picks, but Newton's chances don't look promising at Solider Field with the current state of his team.
Steven Jackson, running back - Daryl Richardson continues to eat into Jackson's workload, as he's only carried the ball 12 times in each of his last two games. The Patriots have only given up two rushing touchdowns all season. While Shonn Greene somehow managed to look like a fantasy stud against them last week, we can't expect Jackson to do the same with the number of touches he's receiving. Also consider the fact that the Rams will likely be playing from behind against Tom Brady's crew, forcing the passing game to take precedence once again. Londoners shouldn't expect to see an all-star performance from Jackson this weekend.
Brian Hartline, wide receiver - We're quickly forgetting that 253-yard spontaneous combustion from Week 4. Hartline did not record an official target in his last game against the Rams. While the Dolphins assuredly worked to eradicate that kind of performance going forward, Antonio Cromartie will likely be the one Hartline matches up against on Sunday. He's kept several bigger names in check recently, so we can only expect the same here. Hartline might be more involved, but don't count on him making much of an impact for your lineup.
Jared Cook, tight end - It feels like the Titans say they plan to start using Cook more every week. And every week we're left wondering why they didn't use Cook very much. Last week he caught just two passes for 37 yards in that scoring frenzy against Buffalo. Unless he finds the end zone, he has little value for any league. The Colts have allowed just one touchdown to an opposing tight end this season, and even though they've faced some lesser names, you still shouldn't like Cook's chances this week.
Broncos defense/special teams - This is the same defense that gave up four touchdowns to Matt Schaub in Week 3. While the Broncos came up with four interceptions against Philip Rivers last week, Drew Brees will pose a much tougher test on Sunday night. The Saints passing attack ranks first in the league, and with the way Brees is scoring right now, the Broncos D/ST doesn't look like a safe bet in Week 8. Find a better matchup.
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