We are roughly halfway through the 2014 NFL season — it always goes by way too fast, doesn't it? — and there are always surprises along the way.
As an example, both Ahmad Bradshaw and Justin Forsett rank inside the top-eight fantasy running backs through Week 7 and they are well ahead of LeSean McCoy (RB26). In fact, Bradshaw (92.8) has scored more fantasy points than McCoy (53.6) and Zac Stacy (37.5) combined.
While Bradshaw is listed below in this week's Start'em, Sit'em column, which players you should insert into your starting lineup depends on your roster and league's scoring settings.
In other words, if you own Eddie Lacy, McCoy and Bradshaw and can only start two running backs, I would start Lacy and McCoy even though Bradshaw is listed below as a "start." While he's ranked as a solid second running back, I have both Lacy and McCoy ranked a few spots higher.
For a better guage of which player I'd start over another, check out my fantasy football rankings.
Looking ahead to the rest of this week's games, here are some players to consider starting:
Tannehill got off to a slower start than I had expected, but he's been very productive over his past three games. Averaging 21.05 fantasy points per game during that stretch, Tannehill has finished as the QB11, QB13 and QB4 in his past three games. Not only does he have a minimum of 244 passing yards and two touchdowns in those games, he's added a total of 132 rushing yards as well.
Palmer has been solid in his three starts this season as he thrown for at least 250 yards and two touchdowns in each of his starts. Prior to the Eagles bye and shutout against the Giants, they had allowed five consecutive top-12 finishes to opposing quarterbacks. In those games, they allowed multiple touchdowns each week and a total of 13. On the season, the Eagles have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing QBs.
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With Reggie Bush listed as doubtful for Sunday's game in London, Bell will have this incredibly favorable matchup mostly to himself. No team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing running backs than the Falcons. In seven games, the Falcons have allowed seven running backs to finish the week as a top-13 running back and they have surrendered 12 rushing touchdowns to RBs. Over the past two games, Bell has 20 touches and a touchdown in each game and it's likely that streak extends to three games this weekend.
RB - Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts (at PIT)
While the pace is not sustainable, Bradshaw has scored seven touchdowns including six receiving scores in seven games this season. To put that into perspective, only three other running backs — Jamaal Charles, Danny Woodhead and Darren Sproles — have had that many receiving touchdowns in an entire season since 2005. That said, Bradshaw has scored the fifth-most fantasy points among running backs through Week 7 and he has finished as an RB1 (top-12 RB) in four of seven games. Although he may not score his eighth touchdown of the season, Bradshaw has become a weekly start as long as he's healthy.
Over the past five games, McFadden has averaged 17.0 touches per game (13.8 carries and 3.2 catches per contest). During that five-game span, he has finished as a top-27 (or better) running back in four games. In other words, he's producing at an RB2/flex level in the majority of his games. This week, the Raiders will face the Browns, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to the position.
The bad news is that McKinnon and yours truly are tied with zero NFL touchdowns. More than likely, McKinnon will break that tie some day — and perhaps it's this week. Either way, McKinnon has a pair of 100-yard rushing games over the past four weeks including last week against the Bills' vaunted run defense. An extremely explosive athlete, McKinnon has a great matchup this week as the Bucs have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.
Going into Week 8, Tate has 48 catches for 649 yards and two touchdowns on 65 targets. Antonio Brown (50) and Julio Jones (49) are the only wide receivers with more receptions than Tate, who currently ranks ninth among wideouts in fantasy points in standard-scoring formats. With Calvin Johnson either playing a decoy role or inactive, Tate has racked up a line of 32/448/2 on 44 targets over the past four games. If Megatron sits again this week, Tate is a top-three option for me at wide receiver.
Excluding a three-target game in Week 6 spent on Revis Island, Watkins has eight-plus targets in his other five games since Week 2. Last week, he had a season-high 14 targets and finished with a 9/122/2 line. The WR15 through Week 7, Watkins has a favorable matchup against the Jets, who have allowed four 100-yard receivers including a 209-yard game to Jordy Nelson.
Although Floyd had a pair of 100-yard games in the three games before the bye and he has scored a touchdown in back-to-back games, he has finished as a top-20 wide receiver only once this season. With Palmer back under center, it wouldn't surprise me if Floyd has his best game of the year against the Eagles, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this year.
Hilton has only one touchdown this season, but he has five-plus catches in all seven games this season and has nine-plus targets in all but one game. Over the past four games, he has been particularly productive with at least 90 yards in each game and has racked up a line of 31/525/1 during that stretch. With Reggie Wayne already ruled out for Week 8, Hilton should have another highly productive outing.
One of the most physically-gifted (and injury-plagued) tight ends in the league, Reed is healthy again and gets a favorable matchup this week. Over the past two games, Reed has 13 catches for 136 yards on 17 targets. Aside from the Bengals, no team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing tight ends than the Cowboys.
On the season, Andrew Luck has thrown 19 touchdowns and the largest share has gone to tight ends (nine). While Coby Fleener also has three touchdowns, Allen has caught a touchdown in five of seven games this season. In those games, he has finished as a top-seven fantasy tight end or better. The Steelers have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.
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Here are some players to consider keeping on your fantasy bench(es):
With an offensive line that has lost four starters to season-ending injuries, Ryan is going to get pressured early and often facing one of the league's top defensive lines. Technically, this week's game is considered a "home" game, but Ryan has struggled away from the Georgia Dome. In his four games outside of Georgia this year, Ryan has finished as the QB27, QB14, QB19 and QB23, respectively. Considering the Lions have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, this could turn out to be a really long day for Ryan and Falcons.
RB - Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. MIN)
Martin has yet to exceed 45 rushing yards in any of his four games this season and he's averaging just 2.90 yards per carry. While the matchup is favorable, Martin is nothing more than a flex option for me this week.
With Shonn Greene sidelined for two weeks, Sankey has 34 carries for 117 yards (3.44 YPC) and one catch for seven yards. While the volume is good, the modest production isn't and there's a good chance that Sankey comes out when (or if) the Titans get near the goal line. Like Martin, Sankey is a flex option for me this week.
While he averaged 14.4 touches per game in the first five games of the season, Jackson has just 15 touches combined over the past two weeks and has finished outside the top-50 fantasy running backs each week. The Lions have allowed just 3.21 YPC to running backs and the eighth-fewest fantasy points to the position this season.
As I noted in our NFL power rankings, nobody could have expected that the Seahawks would have traded Harvin in between back-to-back losses. While the Seahawks are a run-first team, Harvin is still a head case and it'll be interesting to see his impact on a locker room that has had its share of dysfunction. While Harvin will get return opportunities, his offensive snaps will be limited as he gets familiar with the offense in the middle of the season.
Patterson scored his first receiving touchdown (he also had a rushing score in Week 1) of the season last week. That said, he still finished outside the top 36 fantasy receivers on his 2/9/1 stat line. That's not a typo — he had just nine yards. Patterson has exactly two receptions in four consecutive games and his receiving yards in those games are 38, eight, 15 and nine, respectively. Since Week 2, Patterson has three carries, but (to recycle my McKinnon joke) I have more rushing yards than he does during that span: zero to minus two. Patterson has a great matchup this week, but do you trust that he capitalize on it?
Wright has seen a high volume of targets with eight-plus in four of his past five games. He's had a couple of productive outings, but I have a hunch that Justin Hunter and the strong-armed rookie Zach Mettenberger show off the positive chemistry they displayed in the preseason. If you're in a 12-team league, I have Wright ranked as a WR3, but I have Hunter ranked a few spots higher this week.
Miller has just one game with a top-12 finish and he has finished as the TE30 (or worse) in four of seven games this year. Over his past three games, Miller has just eight targets, six catches and 78 yards.
To see who I would start based on your team, please consult with my Week 8 rankings:
- Week 8 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings
- Week 8 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings
- Week 8 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings
- Week 8 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings