Well folks, I always hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that appears to be my job this week.  I’ll just give it to you straight, no beating around the bush….wait, I guess I’ve already done that in saying that I won’t be around the bush.  Crap.  Oh well, here it is:  Chris Johnson sucks.  I know this may not come as news to a lot of you, but he does.  I mean the guy is only averaging 2.9 yards per carry this season and has only managed to find the end zone once all year.  Those are just disgusting numbers from a guy who was most likely drafted in the first round in any knowledgeable fantasy league.  And I don’t think I’m being unfair in saying that he sucks, at least for this year.  Sure, his offensive line hasn’t been as great as in the past, but he’s just not finding the holes either.  He could explode in the last half of the season, but I’m not counting on it.  Now on to week 8.

Quarterback

BEST:      Ben Roethlisberger, PIT

-I usually don’t have Big Ben has a fantasy stud on any of my lists, but he’s usually serviceable.  I think this week is an exception to that rule.  The Patriots have been just plain awful against the pass this season, ranking dead last in the league and giving up 322.2 yards per game.  That’s almost 40 yards per game worse than the 31st rank pass defense.  Furthermore, Ben has been particularly good against New England in recent years.  In fact, his last start against the Patriots he went off for 387 yards and 3 scores.  I think Ben will go over the Patriots average in week 8 and wind up with 360 yards 3 touchdowns and only 1 interception.

WORST:  Tom Brady, NE

-This is all about the opposition.  Brady is great, but hasn’t been as careful with the ball this season, already racking up 8 picks.  Sure, 4 of those came in one game, but that doesn’t change the fact that Brady has been taking more risks than usual.  I think that will hurt him this week, as the Steelers come in with the second best pass defense in football.  Brady will probably still get around 225-250 yards, and will find the end zone at least once.  But I think he’ll also throw 2 interceptions, and may even fumble the ball away if the Steelers ramp up the pass rush against him.  He’s still worthy of a start, he just won’t be the epically great Brady we’ve become accustomed to seeing.

Running Back

BEST:    Ray Rice, BAL

-You think this guy is going to have a bad week two weeks in a row?  Me either.  He’s facing the Cardinals this week who have been middle-of-the-road against the run all year, giving up 114.2 yards per game.  Rice is currently ranked 6th amongst running backs in terms of fantasy production this season, due in large part to his abilities in the receiving game.  And to that point, the Cards rank near the bottom of the league against the pass, giving up almost 275 yards per game.  Both of those numbers play right into Rice’s hands, and I see him having a huge week.  He’ll probably end up with 125 yards on the ground, 75 through the air, and one touchdown.

WORST:  Peyton Hillis, CLE

-He’s dinged up, and might not even play, but if he does don’t start him.  PERIOD.  He’s been extremely bad this year as teams have figured out his only move (trying to jump over the opposition) and have also realized he isn’t that fast.  Sure, he can move the pile, but 3.5 yards per carry aren’t going to take you very far as a fantasy commodity.  Sit Hillis for the foreseeable future, but especially this week.  He’s facing a tough 49ers defense that is only giving up 74.7 yards per game on the ground this season.  I think it will be a miracle if Hillis even makes it to that average.  If he starts I foresee no more than 40 yards and no touchdowns.

Wide Receiver

BEST:    Calvin Johnson, DET

-This is going to get ugly, very ugly. Denver has given up 11 touchdowns so far this season, and that number is going to get a lot worse this week.  Even if Matt Stafford can’t go with his ankle injury, Megatron should have an outstanding game this week.  The Lions haven’t used him quite enough in the last two losses, and I think they’ll rectify that against the hapless Broncos.  Look for Johnson to go off for over 100 yards and 2 scores.

WORST:  Stevie Johnson, BUF

-I like Johnson, I really do.  But I think that the Bills are going to keep the ball on the ground this week.  Fred Jackson is a great weapon, and the Redskins run defense isn’t as tough as their pass defense.  That spells a heavy dose of the ground game for the Bills this week, which will then translate into fewer opportunities for Johnson.  Sure, he could make a lot out of a few opportunities, especially as he’s a favorite target of Ryan Fitzpatrick in the red zone, but that isn’t a risk I’m willing to take.  Johnson should always be in your starting lineup because of the aforementioned red zone targets, but don’t expect a lot from him this week.

Tight End

BEST:    Jimmy Graham, NO

-The highest scoring tight end in the league has a very soft matchup this week against a porous Rams defense.  Graham is averaging 15 yards per catch this season, and has already found the end zone 5 times.  While the Rams haven’t given up a ton of yardage through the air this season, they have given up 13 touchdowns.  I like Graham to be slightly under his yards per game average of 96.3, probably in the vicinity of 75 yards.  However, I also expect him to grab 2 touchdowns, making him the best tight end play this week.

WORST:  Patriots Tight Ends

-There is a big combo of problems here.  First, now that Aaaron Hernandez is back, it’s going to be very hard to predict whether he or Rob Gronkowski will see the majority of the targets.  Secondly, they’re playing a particularly stingy Steelers pass defense this week.  Both of these guys are supremely talented, and it’s possible that both could have big weeks, but trying to decide if that’s the case is pure guess work.  You don’t win your fantasy league by guessing, you do it by playing the numbers, and that’s why neither of these guys are going to be a great option going forward, and are really tough plays this week.

Defense

BEST:     Baltimore Ravens

-Two weeks in a row they have a very soft matchup.  Sure, they lost last week, but you can’t pin that one on the defense that didn’t give up a single touchdown.  This week they face a sputtering Cardinals’ offense that will likely fall prey to the Ravens’ pass rush and fairly opportunistic defensive backs.  I think that the Ravens will create multiple turnovers this week all while giving up fewer than 21 points.  Start them like you would any week, but expect even bigger numbers than usual

WORST:  Dallas Cowboys

-The Dallas defense has been solid this season, but I think they’ll have trouble with the Eagles this week.  If Michael Vick is playing at 100% I think he’ll cause far too much of a matchup problem for the Cowboys to truly contain him.  What’s more, the Cowboys have nobody who can match the speed the Eagles have on the outside with DeSean Jackson at WR and LeSean McCoy swinging out of the backfield.  The only saving grace for the Cowboys may be that they could rack up a few sacks.  Michael Vick has proven to be very sackable despite his elusiveness, and if DeMarcus Ware can get into the backfield he may be able to get multiple sacks.  I don’t think that will even be enough to salvage this game, however.  Look for Dallas to give up around 28 points or more.

SLEEPER OF THE WEEK

Tim Tebow, QB, Denver Broncos

Luckily for fantasy players, most leagues don’t deduct points for incompletions.  If they did, Tebow would be awful.  The reason I like him this week, is I think the Broncos will be trailing by at least 2 scores for most of the game and he’ll be forced to throw.  If you’re having quarterback troubles Tebow may actually be a solid option for you as the sheer volume of throws he’ll have to attempt could very well net him a solid point total.  This is all assuming he doesn’t throw multiple interceptions, which is a reasonable fear, as the Lions secondary has been uncharacteristically opportunistic this season.  I have a feeling he’ll probably throw the ball more than 40 times for 275 yards, 2 total touchdowns (either rushing or passing) and 1 interception.  Nothing that will win you a game on his own, but certainly not too shabby for a bye week fill-in.  Just a word of caution, this is a one week fill-in type of pick up.  I haven’t seen enough accuracy from Tebow to recommend granting him a full time roster spot on your fantasy team.

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