Which players are set to explode in Week 8? Which ones are land mines to avoid? Let's dive in and take a look.
Tavon Austin, WR, STL vs. SF ($5,300)
Miglio: Todd Gurley is all the rage in St. Louis, but Tavon Austin has quietly begun to produce for the Rams this year. He’s scored three touchdowns in his past three games -- though, admittedly, most of his production came against the Cardinals in Week 4 -- and he gets a tasty matchup against the reeling 49ers this week.
Rudnicki: The Rams have one of the weaker passing attacks in the league, but the 49ers are not likely to put up much resistance. They’ve given up touchdowns to players like Kamar Aiken and Tyler Lockett the past couple weeks, and Tavon Austin has quietly emerged as the primary weapon for Nick Foles with 3 TDs in the past 3 games. He does most of his damage after the catch on short routes, but should find room to run with the 49ers focusing most of their attention on Todd Gurley.
Mike Wallace, WR, MIN @ CHI ($5,300)
Miglio: Stefon Diggs has arrived. Now fade him.
Just kidding -- you should feel confident playing him against the Bears -- but his emergence has all but blotted Mike Wallace out from the fantasy landscape.
Rudnicki: I’d feel more comfortable with Diggs in this matchup, but I also think there should be enough opportunity for both players to have strong games. The Bears have given up 15 passing touchdowns on the year and their biggest weakness in the secondary is at the corner position. Wallace hasn’t always been on the same page with Teddy Bridgewater but there were signs of improvement last week as he caught 4 of 5 passes and also drew a pass interference call on a deep throw.
Calvin Johnson, WR, DET @ KC ($8,600)
Golden Tate, WR, DET @ KC ($6,600)
Rudnicki: This is the early game on Sunday in London so it may not be available as part of the normal slate. If it is an option though, you’ll probably want to give some consideration to the Lions WRs. The Chiefs have had a lot of trouble defending outside receivers all year. One area of concern, however, is the protection up front as the Lions gave up 7 sacks to the Vikings last week.
Jason Witten, TE, DAL vs. SEA (
Miglio: The Seahawks defense is a formidable one, and it seems to have sharpened its teeth again against the San Francisco 49ers last week. But it has done a poor job of defending tight ends this week, and Jason Witten once drank from the waters of eternal youth.
Rudnicki: Seattle has traditionally struggled defending opposing TEs. They gave up huge games to Tyler Eifert and Greg Olsen in recent weeks, and even let Vernon Davis get on track last week. Should be a favorable matchup for Witten, who has lost a step or two but can still provide a reliable option for Matt Cassel.
Stevie Johnson, WR, SD @ BAL ($5,900)
Miglio: The beginning of the season saw Stevie Johnson step into the Eddie Royal role smoothly and effectively. Unfortunately, a balky hamstring has kept him out of the lineup for the past several weeks. He is back this week, though, and he couldn’t have asked for a better matchup. Vegas is telling us San Diego’s tilt in Baltimore is going to be a high-scoring affair, and Johnson will benefit from Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates drawing attention away from him.
Rudnicki: The Ravens are really struggling on defense, and it’s driven in large part by issues at the corner position. That bodes well for the Chargers receivers. Keenan Allen gets most of the attention, but Johnson is a lower cost option who should become more of a focal point this week given how well the Ravens defend the tight end position.
Tedd Ginn, WR, CAR vs. IND ($5,300)
Miglio: It’s odd how we have gone from avoiding Vontae Davis to touting anyone who faces the Colts secondary. The rest of the group has been terrible around Davis, but few expected him to fall off, too. Ginn isn’t a sexy pick, but he has a rapport with quarterback Cam Newton. He is also liable to run amok in that gelatinous secondary.
Rudnicki: The Panthers aren’t the type of team that scare you with the weapons they have in the passing game, but the Colts have one of the worst pass defenses in the league. Assuming the Colts focus most of their attention on slowing down the Panthers running game, Ginn should be able to get deep once or twice.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND @ CAR ($7,700)
Miglio: Ginn’s opposing counterpart will not be so lucky. He will be stranded on the Isthmus of Norman this week.
Rudnicki: Hilton isn’t likely to get nearly as many targets this week because the Panthers do a good job of controlling the ball on offense and getting off the field on defense. Josh Norman is probably the premiere shutdown corner in the league right now, and he figures to see plenty of Hilton this week.
Randall Cobb, WR, GB @ DEN ($7,600)
James Jones, WR, GB @ DEN ($6,200)
Miglio: We have seen a run of bad matchups for Randall Cobb and James Jones. Their post-bye game won’t offer much relief against cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib. The Denver defense has allowed the fewest fantasy PPG to opposing receivers this season as the top unit in the league. Aaron Rodgers nullifies some of that, but it could be a rather low-scoring week for the two of them.
Rudnicki: The Broncos are mostly being carried by the strength of their defense. This will be an exciting matchup with lots of star power on both offenses, but the Broncos pass rush combined with their great corners should help keep these two WRs in check. Obviously, Aaron Rodgers is good enough to have success against any matchup, but this doesn’t seem like the week you can count on either of these guys blowing up.
Jimmy Graham, TE, SEA @ DAL ($6,100)
Miglio: Dallas done an excellent job covering tight ends this year. The Cowboys have allowed just one touchdown to the position, and it didn’t go to Rob Gronkowski -- he had just four catches for 67 yards.
Rudnicki: Things haven’t gone according to plan for Jimmy Graham in Seattle. Instead of becoming a great weapon for them, he’s often been the forgotten man on offense with just 5 targets in 3 of his last 4 games. Meanwhile, the Dallas defense has done remarkably well against TEs with just 1 TD allowed and about 35 yards per game.
Amari Cooper, WR, OAK vs. NYJ ($7,300)
Michael Crabtree, WR, OAK vs. NYJ ($5,700)
Miglio: We were burned last week by saying Amari Cooper had a bad matchup. Jason Verrett couldn’t contain him, and that previously stingy San Diego secondary sprung several leaks. This week, however, the Jets are towing Revis Island to the San Francisco bay. With Antonio Cromartie in tow as well -- and playing behind a fantastic defensive front -- New York will make things tough for the Oakland offense.
Rudnicki: Cooper is already proving to be a special player who can make plays in tight coverage, but what he did last week against the Chargers is unlikely to be replicated here. The Jets can use Darrelle Revis on him in coverage, but also have a dominant defensive line that should make Derek Carr uncomfortable in the pocket. Crabtree may get more looks when matched up against Antonio Cromartie, but that’s still not an easy matchup.
Gary Barnidge, TE, CLE vs. ARI ($6,300)
Miglio: Is it safe to fade Gary Barnidge? He has been matchup-proof to date, after all.
Rudnicki: He’s been a great story thus far, but his run of production comes to an end. The Cardinals have yet to concede a TD to an opposing TE and the strength of their defense is their amazing depth at safety. Also seems likely that he will get fewer looks if McCown is unable to play.
Eric Ebron, TE, DET @ KC ($5,500)
Miglio: The Chiefs haven’t done much well on defense this season save for one area—covering tight ends. Maybe opposing offenses have chosen to attack with receivers more simply because it’s the path of least resistance, but Kansas City has given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends thus far this season.
Rudnicki: The Chiefs secondary is struggling on the perimeter, but they have actually done pretty well over the middle. Opposing TEs are averaging just 30 yards per game, and only 1 has reached the end zone in 7 games. Ebron is coming off the most productive game of his career, but don’t expect a repeat in London this week.