Welcome to bye week hell. With six teams on bye, fantasy owners are left in a bind for Week 8, as the options to keep lineups across the spectrum competitive have dwindled. It would be nice to reassure fantasy owners that it only gets better going forward, except Week 9 will have six more teams taking their bye weeks. Fun times.
In the meantime, fantasy owners can look at each game to see who can be a capable fill-in while their studs are sidelined, starting with the Cardinals and Panthers.
If David Johnson could post as many as 17 points in standard fantasy leagues during a game that ended in a 6-6 tie, fantasy owners shouldn’t ever worry about putting him into lineups. Even on his bye week, he might deserve starting consideration.
The Cardinals’ receivers, however, haven’t always been as clear cut to project. Larry Fitzgerald has distanced himself from what used to be a crowded pack with John Brown and Michael Floyd, and that remains the case with newly activated Leonard Johnson set to do battle with the future Hall-of-Famer in the slot. Fitzgerald remains a high-end WR1 and could potentially feast on a weak Panthers secondary.
Carson Palmer has a tremendous matchup at hand, but hasn’t looked close to the player who was heavily in the MVP conversation in 2015. A plus draw against Carolina gives Palmer a chance to get back on track, but fantasy owners can probably find less volatile options even with six teams on bye.
John Brown and Michael Floyd are dealing with injuries and would be difficult to trust even if they suit up. On the plus side, it gives Fitzgerald a huge boost in value.
Cam Newton gets a tough draw fresh out of his bye week against a Cardinals defense that has surrendered the fourth fewest points per game to opposing quarterbacks. But even with the Panthers’ struggles and the Cardinals’ defensive prowess accounted for, Newton remains a special fantasy player, and needs to be in lineups of all formats due to his ever-present upside. Greg Olsen can be started as well, over any tight end not named Rob Gronkowski.
Kelvin Benjamin is set to do plenty of battle with Patrick Peterson, and with Benjamin's fantasy outputs already being so volatile, fantasy owners won’t feel great about his circumstances for Week 8. Though he is always a threat to find the end zone, his chances of doing so can expect to take a hit. Benjamin can be considered a boom or bust flex option, as can running back Jonathan Stewart.
The committee of Devin Funchess, Ted Ginn and Philly Brown don’t deserve fantasy consideration for Week 8 and beyond.