Fantasy Football Week 8: Updated Rankings for Sunday's Action - Believe it or not, most fantasy football leagues will already be halfway done after the weekend.
And that's just for the lucky managers who make it to the fantasy championships, which usually occur during Week 16. The chances to chalk up wins before the playoffs are dwindling, and Week 8 presents October's last opportunity to wrestle away a victory.
These rankings are missing plenty of key players, as the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers already performed on Thursday night. That leaves several managers with one or two less decisions to make for the weekend, while others are now staring at an early deficit.
Let's dive into the remaining slate to provide position-by-position fantasy football rankings for Week 8.
Since Peyton Manning took the Thursday night shift this week, everyone gets a crack at the top quarterback ranking he often monopolizes throughout the season. Even if these rankings were released on Wednesday, however, Aaron Rodgers would reign supreme as Week 8's No. 1 quarterback.
The New Orleans Saints rank No. 28 with 270.5 passing yards allowed per contest. They just relinquished 299 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Matthew Stafford sans Calvin Johnson, and Rodgers shares no such shortage of top wideouts. Jordy Nelson leads the NFC with 47 receptions while Randall Cobb's eight touchdowns tops the conference.
Of course, you're starting Rodgers if you own him and cursing the fantasy gods if you're facing him. Tony Romo may not be regarded in such must-start terrain, but he should be.
The criminally underrated signal-caller has registered a 69.2 completion percentage, which tops the NFL. Since his three-interception season debut against the San Francisco 49ers, Romo has tossed 13 scores to just three picks, averaging 278.8 passing yards in his past four games.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, only Manning has a higher active streak of consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass:
Monday night's matchup is also ripe for picking, as Washington is tied with the New York Jets for most fantasy points surrendered to quarterbacks in ESPN leagues. They haven't exactly faced a murderer's row of passers either, having played Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chad Henne and Charlie Whitehurst.
QB sleeper: Kyle Orton, Buffalo Bills (at New York Jets)
Attention fantasy gamers: Jerick McKinnon demands your attention.
Shaking free from Matt Asiata's shadow, the 22-year-old has generated 381 total yards through his past four games. He's done so at an efficient rate, averaging 5.5 yards per carry compared to Asiata's 3.7 over the same stretch.
McKinnon is the superior Minnesota Vikings rusher, and it's not particularly close. According to The Associated Press' Dave Campbell, he has the full support of rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
"Whenever the ball is in his hand, he's going to make a play. The first guy doesn't usually bring him down in the open field," Bridgewater said. "He's a guy who's very exciting to watch and very exciting to be in the backfield with. He's going to do some great things for this team."
Campbell also noted that McKinnon ranks third with 2.6 yards per carry after contact with 6.8 yards per run up the middle. Both are phenomenal signs from a 5"9" back cast as a speedster, so Minnesota has no excuse to keep using the bigger Asiata in goal-line work.
He should continue to pry away most of Minnesota's touches, and fantasy owners will hope that transition develops this weekend. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rank No. 25 in rushing defense, and McKinnon could pull double duty as a pass-catcher against the NFL's worst passing defense. Start the newcomer with confidence.
RB Sleeper: Travaris Cadet, New Orleans Saints (vs. Green Bay Packers)
All Sammy Watkins needed was a quarterback change to springboard from fringe flex play to top-10 wideout given the right matchup.
Take at look at what the rookie has accomplished in three games with Kyle Orton under center and consider that the New England Patriots employ Darrelle Revis at cornerback:
Just like that, Watkins is now pushing for 1,000 receiving yards during his rookie campaign. While EJ Manuel frequently targeted the highly-touted first-round pick, the duo successfully connected on an inefficient 17 of 32 targets.
The New York Jets no longer roster Revis, and they did not locate a suitable replacement to play man coverage. It's important to note Gang Green has endured a brutal schedule where they have ran into Rodgers, Manning, Philip Rivers and Tom Brady, so maybe the secondary deserves some slack.
But Watkins is too talented to halt those struggles completely on Sunday. Going forward, treat the Buffalo Bills' electric receiver as a starting mainstay.
WR Sleeper: Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers (at New Orleans Saints)
The top of this list looks awfully thin with Thursday participants Julius Thomas and Antonio Gate ineligible and a hobbled Jimmy Graham playing limited snaps. That makes Greg Olsen an elite option against the Seattle Seahawks, who have already surrendered eight touchdowns to opposing tight ends.
Later on the board, Jordan Reed and Owen Daniels are both juicy options to play against vulnerable opponents. Reed gets the Dallas Cowboys, who have yielded a league-high 50 receptions to tight ends along with seven touchdowns. Daniels get the Cincinnati Bengals, whose 609 yards tops the leaderboard versus the position.
After a hamstring injury cost him a month, Reed has returned strong with 13 catches for 146 yards. Considering the 26 targets sent Niles Paul's way in his absence, Reed would probably be appraised shortly outside the top five tight ends had he remained healthy.
Health has rarely helped Owen Daniels in the past, and it's rearing its ugly head again. The 31-year-old did not attend the Baltimore Ravens' practice yesterday with a knee ailment, per the team's official Twitter account:
If he suits up, Daniels is a starting play given a strong matchup and his prominence since Dennis Pitta went down for the season. The veteran has stockpiled 205 receiving yards in the last four games, scoring a touchdown last Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Monitor his status heading into Sunday and start him if he's a go.
TE Sleeper: Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Baltimore Ravens)
Even in the Jacksonville Jaguars' first winning effort of the season, Blake Bortles fired three interceptions and got sacked twice. Leading the way with 15 giveaways and 29 sacks, Jacksonville remains a primary source of fantasy points for its opposition.
Otherwise a fringe option, the Miami Dolphins catapult to a must-start. Yet most fantasy managers know that. If you're too late to scoop up Miami, aim for the Kansas City Chiefs, who sport the NFL's second-best passing defense despite having encountered Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers.
Although the St. Louis Rams are riding high after upsetting the Seattle Seahawks, they have yielded the third-most fantasy points to opposing defenses in ESPN standard-scoring formats. They're not last year's touchdown-scoring juggernaut, but the Chiefs are a solid Week 8 play nonetheless.
D Sleeper: Baltimore Ravens (at Cincinnati Bengals)
Chandler Catanzaro has converted all 15 field-goal attempts during his inaugural season. If he makes his first try on Sunday, he'll set a new rookie record for most consecutive makes to start a career.
While he's nailed just one 50-plus yarder, he's displayed superb mid-range accuracy with five field goals between 40-49 yards.
Although the Philadelphia Eagles shut out the New York Giants before enjoying their Week 7 bye, they still possess the No. 24 overall defense. The young kicker, owned in just 17.4 percent of ESPN leagues, should get some chances to boot home a few points for his few fantasy owners.
K Sleeper: Cairo Santos, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. St. Louis Rams)Read more NFL news on BleacherReport.com
RT @MzLadyHeat: @DangeRussWilson @SHauschka @RicardoLockette @Gresh49 @dshead24 @Mike17mo I hope the Hawks see this! Haha - None
Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams: Final Report Card Grades for Seattle - The Seahawks' special teams units had been a major area of strength leading up to this game. They consistently stopped opponents from making big returns and allowed the team to stay ahead in field position battles. That was not the case Sunday.
Benny Cunningham had a 75-yard kick return to set up the Rams' first touchdown drive. St. Louis also had an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown by Stedman Bailey on a brilliant decoy play with Tavon Austin. Later in the game, the Rams pulled off a fake punt for a gain of 18 yards that all but put the game on ice.
These three plays proved to be the keys to victory for St. Louis in an otherwise tightly played affair.
Steven Hauschka nailed two easy field goals, and Jon Ryan had a healthy 42.3-yard average on his four punts.
B/R - Seattle Seahawks
RT @Seahawks: Steven Hauschka's 35-yard field goal is good. #Rams 21, #Seahawks 6 with 7 seconds to play in the half. #SEAvsSTL - None
Steven Hauschka's 35-yard field goal is good. #Rams 21, #Seahawks 6 with 7 seconds to play in the half. #SEAvsSTL - None
#Seahawks can't find the end zone and Steven Hauschka comes on for a 35-yard field goal attempt. #SEAvsSTL - None
RT @Seahawks: #Rams defense holds and Steven Hauschka knocks home a 24-yard field goal to give the #Seahawks a 3-0 lead. #SEAvsSTL - None
RT @Seahawks: #Rams defense holds and Steven Hauschka knocks home a 24-yard field goal to give the #Seahawks a 3-0 lead. #SEAvsSTL - None
Steven Hauschka hits from 24 yards out. Seahawks up 3-0 with 9:01 to go in the first quarter. - None
#Rams defense holds and Steven Hauschka knocks home a 24-yard field goal to give the #Seahawks a 3-0 lead. #SEAvsSTL - None
#Rams start their first drive from their own 20-yard line after a Steven Hauschka touchback. #SEAvsSTL - None
Fantasy Football Week 7 Rankings: Latest Position-by-Position Rundown - With the midway point of most fantasy football leagues officially here, many owners find themselves in a position that dictates they must go on a run, which means they can't afford to make any crucial lineup mistakes.
While miscues are bound to happen in fantasy, they can be kept to a minimum by trusting your studs and making shrewd decisions based on matchups. Not everyone is lucky enough to have favorable matchups on a weekly basis, but there are always at least a few that can be exploited.
The rankings at this point of the season look much different than they did at the start of campaign due to injuries, poor play from expected stars and other factors. Even though names like Branden Oliver and Larry Donnell weren't on the fantasy radar at the start of the season, it is time to start relying on them in addition to the established stars.
As the second half of the fantasy season draws near, here is a look at the Week 7 rankings for each and every position.
Most figured it was only a matter of time before Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck developed into an elite player, and that time has already come. The third-year star out of Stanford leads the league in both passing yardage and passing touchdowns, and he has been absolute money for fantasy owners.
The 25-year-old gunslinger has thrown for at least 300 yards in all but one game, and he has gone for 370 or more on four occasions. All things considered, Luck is on pace for a historically great 2014 campaign, according to ESPN Stats & Info:
While Luck is essentially matchup-proof at this point, his Week 7 opponent is pretty favorable. The Cincinnati Bengals are just 22nd in the league against the pass, and they have allowed an average of 40 points per game over their past two contests.
Indy's offense is rolling, and being at home within the confines of Lucas Oil Stadium will certainly help. Luck shouldn't be benched under any circumstances right now, but his owners can rest assured that he's in line for another huge outing.
Although he wasn't considered anything more than a late-first-round selection at best in most fantasy leagues entering the season, Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has unquestionably emerged as the preeminent player at his position.
His 785 rushing yards lead the league by more than 200, and his six touchdowns on the ground are tops as well. Murray's numbers look outstanding without any context, but they are even more impressive when you consider the type of company he is in, as pointed out by ESPN's Trey Wingo:
Murray is finally reaching his full potential largely due to the fact that Dallas is committed to letting him lead the offense. There is some concern that his production will drop off as the season progresses since there has been talk of lessening his workload, according to Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com, but offensive coordinator Scott Linehan doesn't appear to be in a hurry to make that happen.
At the end of the day, if you're playing the way you expect to play and the way it needs to be it's going to get in that number fairly often. Every game is different. We've been able to do it so far and it's certainly been a good formula for us at this point but these other guys are going to continue to play more; we're certainly not saying DeMarco is done after so many carries. He's been, I thought he really looked stronger in the fourth quarter this week with maybe less plays opposed to less carries.
With a huge divisional outing against the New York Giants on tap, fantasy owners should expect a healthy dose of Murray in Week 7. Big Blue has allowed seven touchdowns on the ground this season, and Murray will undoubtedly be the beneficiary.
The NFL is seemingly stacked with excellent wide receivers this year, but it can be argued that Green Bay Packers speedster Jordy Nelson has managed to shine brighter than the rest.
Nelson leads the NFL with 632 receiving yards, and he is first among wide receivers with 43 catches as well. In addition to that, Packers teammate Randall Cobb is the only wideout with more touchdown receptions than Nelson's five.
While the Kansas State product's job is made much easier by the fact that Aaron Rodgers is throwing him the ball, he deserves credit for somehow always being open. Nelson excels in every area, but he has been especially valuable to owners in point-per-reception leagues, as evidenced by this stat, courtesy of the Packers' official Twitter account:
The Carolina Panthers, Green Bay's Week 7 opponent, have surrendered 12 passing scores this season, which is tied for the fifth-worst total in the league. The Packers are going to throw at will as usual, and Nelson will be on the receiving end of most of those passes.
With New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski having played Thursday and New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham potentially out this week, Julius Thomas of the Denver Broncos has the top spot all to himself. Even if Gronk and Graham were included, though, Thomas might still be deserving of the No. 1 position.
That is how dominant the former Portland State basketball star has looked through six weeks. His 24 catches for 277 yards are somewhat modest, but he leads the NFL with nine touchdown grabs. In fact, Thomas has more scores than many of the league's elite receivers combined, according to Numbers Never Lie:
There is no question that Thomas has emerged as quarterback Peyton Manning's favorite target in the red zone. With Manning sitting just three touchdown passes away from the career record, Thomas figures to get some opportunities on Sunday night.
His matchup isn't the best since the San Francisco 49ers are giving up a mere 207 passing yards per game, but they have surrendered nine touchdown passes, and it isn't as if Manning can be slowed down by even the best defenses very often.
Thomas may not rack up a ton of yardage, but his status as a weekly touchdown threat makes him an elite fantasy contributor.
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Fantasy Football Week 7: Updated Rankings for Sunday's Action - Picking whom to start on a week-to-week basis can be a headache.
Cross-checking matchups with recent trends and then trying to find ways to maximize a lineup is enough to give any owner a migraine. We've all been there.
Luckily, you don't have to do all the work yourself anymore. Below you'll find updated rankings for each position in fantasy, just in time for you to set your lineups before Sunday's action.
Note that the players included do not include those from Thursday Night Football. This is all about Sunday.
Some ibuprofen is always the best way to make that headache go away, but the following rankings are a great way to prevent it from happening altogether.
Surprised to see Brian Hoyer here? Don't be.
Hoyer has been great this year with minimal weapons in the Cleveland Browns offense. He has thrown just one pick on the year and has eclipsed the 200-yard mark in each of his five games.
Those numbers make him barely viable in fantasy, but his recent roll (508 yards, four touchdowns in his last two games) and his matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars make him a good starting option in Week 7.
Jacksonville allows 294 yards per game through the air and has surrendered 12 touchdowns via the passing game. Look for Hoyer to approach 300 yards with a couple of scores this week.
The Browns score 26.8 points per game. That's a pretty potent offense considering the team is without its most explosive weapon (Josh Gordon).
Much of its success has come because of how comfortable Hoyer is with his offensive coordinator, as the quarterback told Kevin Jones of ClevelandBrowns.com. "I get a feel for how Kyle wants to call a game. He gets a feel for plays that I like and I’m comfortable with. He trusts me a little bit more. I think you see our offense open up," he said.
If you're going to roll with Hoyer in any week, Week 7 is the time.
If you haven't hopped aboard the Lamar Miller bandwagon, then Week 7 will give you another opportunity to do so. He faces a pretty favorable matchup, as the Chicago Bears surrender 4.3 yards per carry—20th in the NFL.
The second-year back has also come on strong in his past three games. He has 225 rushing yards and three touchdowns in that span. With Knowshon Moreno on the shelf for the rest of the season, the bulk of the carries are his. That gives him the opportunity to become a stalwart for owners.
Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel tweeted about how productive Miller has been despite fewer carries than most lead backs:
It's time to jump on the bandwagon. If healthy for the rest of the season, Miller will perform like a top-10 running back.
With Derek Carr's recent surge (five touchdowns and over 400 yards in the past two games), his top receiving option has suddenly become a fantasy asset. Don't be the owner who sits James Jones in Week 7.
Jones has nearly the best matchup of all wideouts this week. The Arizona Cardinals allow 27.8 fantasy points per game to receivers, second-most in the NFL. Given the Cardinals' stingy run defense, Carr and the Oakland Raiders will probably look to throw more.
That's good news for owners of Jones. More targets equal more opportunities for points, and Jones hasn't let his teammates—or owners—down the season when the ball has been thrown his way:
It's never easy to predict that a player will find the end zone in any given week, but Jones is a good candidate for at least six catches and 80 yards against Arizona.
Dwayne Allen doesn't rack up the yards or the catches, but he's arguably Andrew Luck's favorite target in the red zone. The 6'3" tight end has four touchdowns on the year, including three in the past four weeks.
Somewhat of a wild card at the position entering the year, Allen has proven himself a worthy player to own in all leagues. And there might not be a better time to get him active.
The Cincinnati Bengals don't contain opposing tight ends particularly well. They average close to 95 yards allowed per game against the unit, meaning that Allen is in line for his highest yardage of the season.
Luck is enjoying a career year, and the Bengals leave plenty of room in the middle for tight ends to get open. That means success is on the horizon for Allen.
Picking kickers on a weekly basis is a crapshoot. That hasn't changed, so don't be afraid to take a risk this week—start Matt Prater.
Prater made his debut with the Detroit Lions last week, hitting just one of three field-goal attempts. His lone make came from 52 yards away. As a team, the Lions have been a black hole for kickers thus far. They've connected on just five of 15 attempts on the year, but Prater is the guy capable of bucking the trend.
He hit a league-high 96.2 percent of his tries last year. He also has the ability to boot it from long range, something that makes him a pretty attractive option even if he misses a field goal per game from here on out.
NFL.com's Michael Fabiano knows that his leg is a good reason to pick him up immediately:
The Lions are going to give Prater plenty of attempts to kick, especially in Week 7 against the New Orleans Saints.
A good rule of thumb is to always roll with the defensive unit playing the Jaguars. The Jags have yet to really explode offensively, and until they do, there's no reason to change the game plan.
The Browns defense should be better. It currently ranks 29th in the NFL in yards per game allowed (409.2), but that's not indicative of the personnel on this team.
Joe Haden, Justin Gilbert, Karlos Dansby, Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo are all above-average defenders at their respective positions, so it's really just a matter of cohesion and proper play-calling for this unit.
The Browns have a real shot at gaining some confidence against Jacksonville. Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post wrote about why:
This is one of the few times Cleveland is worth a play, as the Browns face off against Jacksonville. The Jaguars offense ranks in the bottom five for first downs, net yards per pass, rushing yards per attempt and are dead last in points per drive (1.1).
Rolling with the Browns in previous weeks was a big risk, but there's really little risk involved in Week 7.
Fantasy information courtesy of ESPN.com.
Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BRRead more NFL news on BleacherReport.com