Kartje: Week 8 fantasy football rankings

We’re at the halfway point (or just beyond) in the fantasy regular season, which means, in most cases, we’ve had enough time to see certain players break out of their slumps, other players regress back to the mean and some troubling trends continue as is.

Essentially, we’re finally at the point of fantasy reality. Even injured stand-bys, such as Ben Roethlisberger and Dez Bryant, look ready to return and make an impact in your fantasy lineups. All seems right with the world. Right?

Well, maybe. Assuming you don’t have Arian Foster. Or Eddie Lacy. Or Melvin Gordon. Or … well, you get the point.

Several fantasy question marks are beginning to answer themselves, though. Here’s a few, after seven weeks, that you can take to the bank:

  • Will Melvin Gordon be able to keep up with the production of his first-round counterpart, Todd Gurley? This one is a definitive no. I’m not so sure Gordon will even regain the No. 1 spot in San Diego’s offense this season. Things have been bad, and last week, he was benched for the first half after fumbling twice the game before. He could get hot down the stretch, but Gurley is a star already. He might be the No. 1 running back in fantasy at season’s end.
  • There’s no way Peyton Manning continues to regress, is there? Welp. So far, Mr. Manning’s noodle arm hasn’t done much for Denver’s offense, as he ranks 29th in fantasy scoring at quarterback, sandwiched in between Teddy Bridgewater and Nick Foles. Maybe this gets a bit better, but at this point, he’s no longer a starter in fantasy.
  • Is Lamar Miller’s slow start a fluke? As he’s shown the past two weeks, if Miller gets carries, he can do quite a bit with them. After totaling just 131 yards in the first four weeks, Miller had 175 yards in the first three quarters against Houston and 113 yards the previous week against Tennessee. Thanks, Dan Campbell. Looks like Joe Philbin was the problem with Miami’s offense all along. Miller might be an RB1 going forward.
  • Are Andy Dalton, Carson Palmer and Philip Rivers actually reliable starters? This has become a resounding yes on all three accounts. In fact, I would start all three this week over Andrew Luck, who was ranked far ahead of each of them early on this season. Rivers trails only Brady in fantasy points, and Dalton and Palmer are right behind them. Aaron Rodgers, the most reliable to count on in the second half of the season, actually trails this trio. Who woulda thunk it?


  1. Tom Brady (vs. MIA)

  2. Philip Rivers (@BAL)

  3. Carson Palmer (@CLE)

  4. Ben Roethlisberger (vs. CIN)* – Big Ben is back! … probably. The Steelers top-flight quarterback was coy on Tuesday about playing in this week’s crucial divisional matchup with Cincinnati, but all signs point to him being under center again. That’s huge news for the Steelers offense, and given how well Roethlisberger has played through pain in the past, I don’t expect him to miss a beat, even in his first week back. With the Bengals playing so well on offense, expect Pittsburgh to be fighting from behind, which means more passing. Maybe this seems overly confident for Roethlisberger’s return, but bench him at your own risk.

  5. Andy Dalton (@PIT)

  6. Cam Newton (vs. IND)

  7. Aaron Rodgers (@DEN) – Given that he’s been one of fantasy football’s most consistent options for a few years now, there’s usually no reason to doubt Rodgers. He is matchup-proof, but this week, you certainly shouldn’t feel great about the matchup he’s walking into. In Denver, against the league’s best defense — a defense that has intercepted nine balls, while allowing just five touchdowns. Only Carolina has had an arguably better secondary, and Denver has a much better pass rush (26 sacks already!). There’s no way you’re benching A-Rod, but don’t expect a banner day out of him, either.

  8. Matthew Stafford (@KC)** – His team stinks, but Stafford has always been capable of putting up serious fantasy numbers. Plus, with his new offensive coordinator being promoted from quarterbacks coach, the main focus for the Lions offense will be putting Stafford in spots to succeed. This week against one of the league’s worst secondaries in Kansas City, I have little doubt that he will, assuming his aches and pains allow him to play. Only concern would be that the Chiefs pass rush bothers Stafford. But as a low-end QB1, you can easily expect 15+ from Stafford.

  9. Matt Ryan (vs. TB)

  10. Drew Brees (vs. NYG)

  11. Andrew Luck (@CAR)

  12. Ryan Tannehill (@NE)

  13. Eli Manning (@NO)

  14. Teddy Bridgewater (@CHI) – The reins are starting to loosen with Bridgewater, and we may finally be seeing what Bridgewater’s capabilities are when the Vikings decide to air it out. Of course, it helps to have an emerging rookie like Stefon Diggs at his disposal. Against Chicago, the Vikings should have no trouble airing it out some more, and Bridgewater should be a beneficiary as a potential bye week, fill-in starter. Temper expectations a bit, though; there’s always a chance he could put up only 10 or 12 points, if the gameplan shifts being Adrian Peterson-heavy too early.

  15. Jay Cutler (vs. MIN)

  16. Russell Wilson (@DAL)

  17. Ryan Fitzpatrick (@OAK)

  18. Alex Smith (vs. DET)

  19. Joe Flacco (vs. SD)

  20. Derek Carr (vs. NYJ)

  21. Peyton Manning (vs. GB)

  22. Jameis Winston (@ATL)

  23. Nick Foles (vs. SF)

  24. Josh McCown (vs. ARI)***



  1. Todd Gurley (vs. SF) – Gurley’s start to the season has been borderline historic, with his last three weeks rushing total looking as such: 433 yards, two touchdowns, 6.36 yards per carry. He may not be able to sustain that insane yards-per-carry average over the course of a full season, but his touchdowns could still rise, and if they do, Gurley will own a season-long spot in the top three of these rankings. His talent is off the charts, and against a reeling San Francisco defense, he should have no problem bulldozing anyone in his path.

  2. Devonta Freeman (vs. TB)

  3. Adrian Peterson (@CHI)

  4. Marshawn Lynch (@DAL)

  5. Le’Veon Bell (vs. CIN)

  6. Matt Forte (vs. MIN)

  7. Justin Forsett (vs. SD)

  8. Chris Johnson (@CLE) – Nobody saw this comeback coming, but it’s time to accept that Chris Johnson’s resurgence in Arizona is for real. Johnson has two 100-yard games in his past four and hasn’t had fewer than 74 yards in a start all season. Even in a semi-timeshare, Johnson has done enough with his touches to warrant RB1 status for the moment. Against Cleveland, he’ll have a gem of a matchup, as the Cardinals will almost certainly take a big lead eary on, meaning a steady dose of the run game down the stretch.

  9. Doug Martin (@ATL)

  10. Mark Ingram (vs. NYG)

  11. Jonathan Stewart (vs. IND)

  12. Giovani Bernard (@PIT)

  13. Chris Ivory (@OAK)

  14. Lamar Miller (@NE)

  15. Charcandrick West (vs. DET)

  16. Danny Woodhead (@BAL)

  17. Darren McFadden (vs. SEA)

  18. Eddie Lacy (@DEN) – After being a consensus first-round pick in pretty much every fantasy draft, Lacy has overwhelmingly disappointed so far this season. But it’s pretty clear he’s been banged-up, and with the Packers’ bye now behind them, he should get back on track. The problem this week is that he plays one of the NFL’s top rushing defenses, on their home turf. This ranking assumes that Lacy will pick up a touchdown somewhere, but I understand if you have trepidation with trusting him as an RB2.

  19. Ronnie Hillman (vs. GB)

  20. Latavius Murray (vs. NYJ)

  21. Duke Johnson (vs. ARI)

  22. Frank Gore (@CAR)

  23. Jeremy Hill (@PIT)

  24. LeGarrette Blount (vs. MIA) – Bill Belichick’s nightmare running back wheel has returned. Last week, Tom Brady led the Patriots in rushing, as Blount got three carries for minus-1 yards. Not exactly an inspiring experience. Miami has a solid defensive line, so the Patriots could go back to the Brady Well, throwing 60 times and rushing only enough to count on two hands. There’s always the hope that Blount nabs a touchdown near the goal line, but hey, who knows with Belichick. Blount is a shaky flex, at best.

  25. Dion Lewis (vs. MIA)*

  26. Antonio Andrews (@HOU)

  27. James Starks (@DEN)

  28. Alfred Blue (vs. TEN) – Arian Foster is out for the season, which means Alfred Blue seems like the obvious candidate to get the available carries in the Texans’ backfield. But it may not be that easy. Houston has also used Chris Polk as a change-of-pace back, and he has actually looked better than the plodding Blue at times this season. Who knows how this will play out. Tennessee’s run defense isn’t very good, but can you put any confidence in Houston’s offense? I certainly wouldn’t. Proceed at your own risk with Blue.

  29. Carlos Hyde (@STL)

  30. Ameer Abdullah (@KC)

  31. C.J. Anderson (vs. GB)

  32. Charles Sims (@ATL)

  33. Orleans Darkwa (@NO)

  34. Chris Polk (vs. TEN)

  35. Theo Riddick (@KC)

  36. Dexter McCluster (@HOU)

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  1. Julio Jones (vs. TB)

  2. DeAndre Hopkins (vs. TEN)

  3. Antonio Brown (vs. CIN) – Brown certainly hasn’t been his prolific fantasy self since Ben Roethlisberger went down. In those first three games, Brown had 35 targets, with 29 catches, and 436 yards. Since, without Big Ben: 17 catches for 235 yards and no touchdowns. Needless to say, Roethlisberger is back this week, and that should mean the triumphant return of Unstoppable Antonio Brown, as well. The Bengals secondary can be exploited, and with the Steelers likely to be trying to keep up with Cincinnati’s suddenly prolific offense in this one, Brown figures to be a huge part of the gameplan.

  4. Calvin Johnson (@KC)

  5. Keenan Allen (@BAL) – As the No. 1 target in an offense that passes more than any other in the NFL, Allen’s opportunity gives him huge — and often underrated — value. He has at least 15 targets in three games this year, and with Antonio Gates potentially missing another game, he could have another high-volume performance this week. Throw in the fact that Baltimore’s secondary is one of the worst in the NFL, and everything seems to be lining up for Allen to have another huge game.

  6. Odell Beckham (@NO)

  7. Brandon Marshall (@OAK)

  8. Julian Edelman (vs. MIA)

  9. Alshon Jeffery (vs. MIN)

  10. A.J. Green (@PIT)

  11. Mike Evans (@ATL)

  12. Larry Fitzgerald (@CLE)

  13. John Brown (@CLE)

  14. Randall Cobb (@DEN)

  15. Demaryius Thomas (vs. GB)

  16. Steve Smith (vs. SD)

  17. Stefon Diggs (@CHI) – Diggs has taken the NFL by storm in his first three weeks, as one of the highest-scoring receivers in that span. He has nine, nine and 10 targets in three games, and against a Chicago secondary that can be exploited by speed, Diggs has all the tools to put together another big performance. He’s clearly the most talented receiver in Minnesota, and it shouldn’t take long for Mike Wallace to be completely marginalized in the passing attack. The question now is whether Minnesota will keep doing things to get Diggs more touches.

  18. Donte Moncrief (@CAR)

  19. Dez Bryant (vs. SEA) – Another elite player potentially returning from injury, Bryant has a shakier status than Roethlisberger at this point. He also has a tough matchup, with Richard Sherman likely awaiting in Seattle’s secondary. Still, Bryant is a top-flight talent, and if he’s in the lineup, he’ll be in yours. A disclaimer here, though: Bryant was supposed to be out longer than this, so there’s a good chance he won’t be at 100 percent on Sunday. Temper expectations, but rejoice, Dez owners everywhere.

  20. Emmanuel Sanders (vs. GB)

  21. Jarvis Landry (@NE)

  22. Martavis Bryant (vs. CIN)

  23. Eric Decker (@OAK)

  24. Amari Cooper (vs. NYJ)

  25. T.Y. Hilton (@CAR) – Carolina’s secondary has been suffocating this season, with potential defensive player of the year Josh Norman dominating opposing wideouts week after week. Hilton could very well be the next of his victims, hence why he’s ranked so low this week. At this point, Donte Moncrief is the most likely to avoid Norman this week, and thus, he’s rated seven spots higher. This is a situation to keep an eye on, as Carolina’s plans become more clear later in the week. The Colts will have to pass, but expecting Hilton to get much volume is probably a fool’s errand. He could always break a long catch-and-run, though.

  26. Brandin Cooks (vs. NYG)

  27. Rishard Matthews (@NE)

  28. James Jones (@DEN)

  29. Golden Tate (@KC)

  30. Marvin Jones (@PIT)

  31. Davante Adams (@DEN)

  32. Michael Crabtree (vs. NYJ)

  33. Danny Amendola (vs. MIA)

  34. Steve Johnson (@BAL)

  35. Willie Snead (vs. NYG)

  36. Travis Benjamin (vs. ARI)

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  1. Rob Gronkowski (vs. MIA)

  2. Greg Olsen (vs. IND)

  3. Tyler Eifert (@PIT)

  4. Travis Kelce (vs. DET)

  5. Martellus Bennett (vs. MIN)

  6. Ladarius Green (@BAL) – Even with Antonio Gates in the lineup, Green has been effective, and this week, he may very well have the tight end depth chart to himself again. Gates looks unlikely to play, nursing an MCL sprain, and so Green, like his teammate Keenan Allen, should be one of the beneficiaries of Baltimore’s horrible secondary. Green has four touchdowns in six games this year, which is about as consistent of a scorer as you can get at the tight end position. Even when Gates comes back, he should be worth playing.

  7. Delanie Walker (@HOU)

  8. Jimmy Graham (@DAL)

  9. Eric Ebron (@KC) – Ebron is finally starting to look like the tight end that Detroit spent an early first-round pick on, instead of drafting Odell Beckham or Aaron Donald — both of whom were available. But Ebron is making himself look somewhat worth it this year, with touchdowns in three of five games and only one game of four catches or less. Against Kansas City’s bad secondary in London, Detroit will almost certainly be in passing mode the majority of the game, and Ebron has become the team’s second most consistent option, behind Calvin Johnson. Start him with confidence.

  10. Gary Barnidge (vs. ARI)

  11. Richard Rodgers (@DEN)

  12. Benjamin Watson (vs. NYG)

  13. Jason Witten (vs. SEA)

  14. Austin Seferian-Jenkins (@ATL) – If you’re struggling at tight end, ASJ may be someone to target. Seferian-Jenkins is expected to return from injury this weekend, and he flashed early on in the season that he has the ability to put together a huge game now and again. The Falcons defense isn’t very good on the back end, and while there are plenty of young mouths to feed on the Bucs’ offense, ASJ should be good for at least four or five catches, assuming the Falcons take an early lead.

  15. Jordan Cameron (@NE)

  16. Kyle Rudolph (@CHI)

  17. Crockett Gillmore (vs. SD)

  18. Owen Daniels (vs. GB)

  19. Jared Cook (vs. SF)

  20. Larry Donnell (@NO)

  21. Clive Walford (vs. NYJ)

  22. Coby Fleener (@CAR)

  23. Jacob Tamme (vs. TB)

  24. Vernon Davis (@STL)

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