The distribution of quality teams in the NFL is oddly skewed this season. The league is seemingly top-heavy, as there are a whopping five teams sitting undefeated with a 6-0 record. However, there isn’t an easily identifiable basement. No team is still winless, and only three teams have fewer than two wins.
The middle of the league is one great pile of mediocrity. It’s hard to say which teams are good, and which teams are not. When middling teams meet each other, such as the game between the Colts and Saints last Sunday, it’s nearly impossible to predict what will happen.
This league-wide variance certainly doesn’t help when trying to piece together fantasy rosters, but I will continue to try. Here are some suggestions of players to start and sit in Week Eight. All cited fantasy point totals refer to ESPN standard scoring.
START: Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers. One of the league’s biggest surprises this season was the putrid start from the Baltimore Ravens, who almost won at New England in last year’s playoffs. The Ravens’ secondary is both depleted and completely incapable of stopping the pass, as they allow more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than any other team. Rivers is on pace for 5,604 yards, which would be a new NFL record. It’s not a discussion any more; Rivers needs to be started every week. This week his trip to Baltimore may be his best yet.
SIT: Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders. Carr has been excellent so far in his sophomore season, but young receiver Amari Cooper will be under the watchful eye of Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis this week. Throw in the Jets’ rush defense, currently ranked first in the league, and it is hard to imagine the Raiders getting anything going offensively.
START: Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Martin has excelled in recent weeks, rushing for at least 100 yards in each of his past three games. A trip to Atlanta, whose Falcons have allowed 21 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs in 2015, should be very favorable for Martin owners.
SIT: Darren McFadden, RB, Dallas Cowboys. Last week, I advised readers to ride the Christine Michael hype train, but instead it was the McFadden hype train that left the station. McFadden followed his fantastic offensive line to the tune of 152 yards on 29 carries against the Giants’ defense. It may be tempting to hitch a ride, but Seattle’s defense has only allowed more than 100 yards to opposing running backs once this season. I’d wait a week to see if McFadden can sustain this level of success.
START: Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins. Miami’s trip to New England on Thursday night is going to go one of two ways. Either it’s a close game between the two rivals, or New England scores a million points and forces the Dolphins to spend the rest of the game passing to catch up. In both scenarios, Landry benefits. He’s an absolute stud and the Patriots don’t have anyone who can stop him.
SIT: James Jones, WR, Green Bay Packers. Every week, I look at the Packers’ box score and try to figure out when Jones is going to stop his torrid streak. The guy was cut in the preseason, and signed by Green Bay as a result of Jordy Nelson’s season-ending injury. Now he is tenth among fantasy wide receivers in scoring! I think it stops this week, as the Packers travel to face the Broncos’ fearsome secondary. Davante Adams will be back from injury for Green Bay, and Randall Cobb has to break out at some point. The projection: 20 yards and no scores for Jones.
START: Benjamin Watson, TE, New Orleans Saints. New Orleans has steadily increased Watson’s role in the offense each week, and he should have another solid effort as the Giants come to town. New York is one of only five teams that allow more than 10 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends.
START: Titans D/ST. Tennessee’s defense is quietly solid, and they continued their efforts by holding Atlanta to 10 points last weekend. The Texans throw a lot, and Brian Hoyer is certainly not a perfect passer. The Titans are a sneaky play in Houston.