Week 8 is here ... can you believe we're at the halfway mark of the regular season already? Although your team might be battered and bruised, looking like a shell of its originally drafted self, it's time to pull together, as the playoff picture is already taking shape. These tips could have your squad reaching pay dirt by the time Monday Night Football ends. With every game having playoff implications from here on out, you might want to take heed to some of these pointers.
Bye-Week Teams: Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins And Jacksonville Jaguars
Starters You'll Need to Replace
Bills: Running back LeSean McCoy and possibly quarterback Tyrod Taylor will need to be subbed out. After slipping to 3-4 on the season, the Buffalo Bills could use a break.
Eagles: Fresh off the Philadelphia Eagles slipping to 3-4 themselves, running back DeMarco Murray and Sam Bradford will need to be replaced. God speed if you were using Bradford as your starting QB, anyway.
Redskins: At this point in the season, running back Alfred Morris should be the only Washington Redskins starter you're replacing at this point ... and even that's a stretch.
Jaguars: Second-year quarterback Blake Bortles has actually been used as a starter in many leagues recently. If you're one of those owners, you'll need to bench him and look for a replacement. Ditto goes for Julius Thomas.
Need a Running Back? Claim Them Off Waivers Now: Darren McFadden, Alfred Blue, Antonio Andrews
Two weeks ago, I told you to pick up Kansas City Chiefs running back Charcandrick West to start in place of the injured Jamaal Charles. Well, that Week 6 game saw West putting up a dud, logging in one fantasy point in non-points per reception leagues. Week 7, though, he came alive to the tune of 110 yards rushing and a touchdown, and another 19 yards receiving, for 18 fantasy points in non-PPR leagues.
Such is life in fantasy football. Sometimes you have to be patient with that player you scoop off waivers ... but the problem is it's Week 8 and time is of the essence.
This week, make Dallas Cowboys running back Darren McFadden a priority. The veteran running back has a lot of miles on him, but was able to turn back the hands of time for a 152-yard, one-touchdown performance last week. Even though he's playing against the Seattle Seahawks defense this week, McFadden could be worth it if you're in a jam. Just don't expect 152 yards. Half of that — and if you're lucky a TD — would be a great Week 8 for McFadden and the Cowboys.
With Arian Foster having torn his ACL last week, the Houston Texans will look to Alfred Blue, Chris Polk, and Jonathan Grimes in their backfield from here on out, with Blue expected to handle the bulk of the carries. Although he's owned in 68 percent of leagues, on CBS Sportsline for example, snatching him off waivers would be a wise move this week with the Texans facing the Tennessee Titans.
The Tennessee Titans upped Antonio Andrews' carries to 10 last week and that number could rise this week, as he faces a struggling Houston Texans run defense, which has been giving up an average of 21 points to running backs this season. If you're able to grab Andrews as a free agent, start him.
Need A Wide Receiver? Claim Them Off Waivers Now: Marvin Jones, Brandon LaFell, Rishard Matthews
By the mere thought that the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary will be keying in on Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, doing anything it can to stifle him and limit his production, one would have to deduce that Marvin Jones has a great opportunity to produce in Week 8. Jones has been targeted 20 times during the past two weeks, including a 95-yard, one-TD performance in Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills. Also, the Steelers defense is vulnerable to the pass. While Jones is owned in 50 percent of CBS Sportsline leagues, for example, getting him at this point would be an absolute catch ... especially for a play this week.
Brandon LaFell is back in the New England Patriots lineup and the Patriots do have the most-explosive offense in the National Football League. Although he was rusty last week, LaFell is too good to continue his struggles. Zero in on him and pick him off the waivers.
Don't look now, but the Miami Dolphins are 2-0 since coach Dan Campbell took over. That and their offense is heating up, producing 38 points and 26 points, respectively, the past two weeks. If your league has Rishard Matthews available at wideout, it's a no-brainer to scoop him up this week and beyond. He's coming off a week in which he had 75 yards receiving and a touchdown. Playing against the New England Patriots defense, which hasn't been anything close to its offense, Matthews and the Dolphins could put points on the board. He's a great play this week.
Anticipated Letdowns: Randall Cobb, Eddie Lacy, Peyton Manning
Antonio Brown finally came alive and was able to return to his dynamic form last week, but don't expect Randall Cobb to do the same. The Green Bay Packers wide receiver has only mustered nine points over the past three weeks and that kind of paltry production could continue this week when visiting the Denver Broncos, owners of arguably the best secondary in the league.
While the Broncos run defense may not be as strong as their secondary, I wouldn't be surprised if Packers running back Eddie Lacy also struggles. That being said, the Packers defense has been pretty strong as well, so don't expect Broncos QB Peyton Manning to light it up, either.
Sleeper Picks: Marvin Jones, Charles Sims
We already discussed the upside of tabbing Cincinnati Bengals wideout Marvin Jones this week for a play against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As good as the Atlanta Falcons have been this year, they haven't been good against the run, allowing the most fantasy points to rushers this season. That makes Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Charles Sims a solid play this weekend.
Confusion By Committee: Texans Running Backs Alfred Blue, Chris Polk, And Jonathan Grimes
If the Houston Texans don't have a full-fledged confusion by comittee yet, they will soon. The team lost their franchise running back Arian Foster for the season and is severely struggling. They know from experience what Alfred Blue can do, but have the opportunity to also get good looks at Chris Polk and Jonathan Grimes. While I like Blue as a play this week and possibly beyond, the workload will be distributed and that can mean a slash in production and also well ... owners feeling blue.
Trade Value For Dez Bryant
I'm going to say it again. With the trade deadline approaching in a few weeks, seriously throw Dez Bryant out there and see what you could get in return. Your best bet — especially in a hands-on, active and responsive league — is to put Bryant on the trade blocks, openly stating what you're looking for in return. Before he actually plays again is when his trade value is highest because if he returns and struggles, you'll be stuck with him until the end of the season.