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Five up, five down for Week 8

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Disclaimer ... Before you start reading, please understand that we are not in the business of stating the obvious and wasting your time (or ours), so you won't be reading here why you need to start Aaron Rodgers, Arian Foster, Calvin Johnson or any other top-tier players. We're here to help you make a decision on players you are on the fence about.

Three of the four worst run defenses will be taking the week off in Week 8, so we will have to do some tricky navigating to get your team a big win. With that in mind, here are five players who have favorable matchups and five players who could struggle for your teams.

Get 'em active ...

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Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers (vs. WAS)
Current own/start %: 99/63
I'd start him over: Matthew Stafford (vs. SEA), Jay Cutler (vs. CAR), Michael Vick (vs. ATL)
No team in the NFL has allowed more passing touchdowns than the Redskins, who have already surrendered 16 passing scores in 2012. The Redskins are also giving up a league-high 340 yards passing per game, so it should be no surprise that they are allowing 22.71 points per game to quarterbacks, sixth most in the league. No quarterback has thrown for less than 299 yards against the 'Skins and no quarterback has been held without a passing touchdown against them. Six out of seven quarterbacks who have faced the 'Skins have thrown for at least 310 yards, five have thrown for more than 325 yards and more importantly, five of the seven quarterbacks who have faced Washington have finished in the Top 12 for the week. Washington has really struggled with teams that have two good receivers and a top tight end, giving up 10 touchdowns and an average of 25.25 quarterback points per game to the four teams fitting that criteria. With Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and the resurgent Heath Miller, the Steelers definitely fit that bill and I am expecting a solid multiple touchdown day from Big Ben, who is a great starting option this week.

Andrew Luck, QB, Colts (at TEN)
Current own/start %: 98/50
I'd start him over: Cam Newton (at CHI), Tony Romo (vs. NYG), Philip Rivers (at CLE)
The Tennessee Titans have given up at least 19 Fantasy points to every quarterback who has faced them this season. Six of those seven quarterbacks topped 20 Fantasy points and finished in the Top 12 points against the Titans who even busted the slump of Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 7. Luck has been a Top 12 quarterback himself in four of his last five games. Now, it is fair to point out that all of those good games have come at home, but I do think Luck will finally get lucky on the road in Week 8. In their three home games, the Titans have given up an average of 350 yards passing and two touchdowns per game, which has led to an average of 26.3 Fantasy points per game for the opposing quarterback. Luck is getting it done with his arm as well as his legs and his three goal line rushing scores are tied with Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III for the most at the quarterback spot. Look for the rookie to shake the road woes against the second most generous defense to quarterbacks this year (24.29 points per game), making him a great start.

Other QBs with favorable matchups: Bye Week Broski: Peyton Manning (vs. NO), Carson Palmer (at KC), Michael Vick (vs. ATL), Jay Cutler (vs. CAR), Philip Rivers (at CLE), Bye Week Broski: Christian Ponder (vs. TB), Brandon Weeden (vs. SD), Sam Bradford (vs. NE)

Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos (vs. NO)
Current own/start %: 100/58
I'd start him over: Mikel Leshoure (vs. SEA), Darren Sproles (at DEN), Doug Martin (at MIN)
No team has allowed more running back points this year than the Saints, who have given up a league-high 26.0 per game. The Saints have allowed at least one runner to score 10 Fantasy points in every single game this year and already seven runners have produced double digits against this defense in just six games. Four runners have produced at least 17 points in a game against the Saints, who have produced at least one Top 15 running back in five of the six games against them this year. The Saints are giving up 131.67 yards (third most) and 1.17 rushing touchdowns (second) per game to the running back position in 2012 on 4.9 yards per carry (third). Not only are the Saints getting crushed by runners on the ground, but they are being victimized by them as receivers out of the backfield as well. The Saints are allowing six catches (seventh most) and 54 yards (also seventh) per game to running backs. That meshes very well for the new Willis McGahee, who has caught 15 passes in his last three games and is averaging 46.5 yards per game in his last two. Doug Martin ran wild on the Saints last week with 122 total yards and a score. In fact, the opposing starter has produced at least 122 total yards with a touchdown in back to back games against New Orleans. This is the week to let Willis "Roll Willie Roll" in your lineups in a high scoring Sunday night game.

Other RBs with favorable matchups: Chris Johnson (vs. IND), Jamaal Charles (vs. OAK), Darren McFadden (at KC), Reggie Bush (at NYJ), Darren Sproles (at DEN), Rashad Jennings (at GB), Ahmad Bradshaw (at DAL), Alfred Morris (at PIT), Stevan Ridley (at STL), Bye Week Broksis: Shonn Greene (vs. MIA), Vick Ballard (at TEN), Felix Jones (vs. NYG), Michael Bush (vs. CAR), Jamie Harper (vs. IND), Alex Green (vs. JAC)

Randall Cobb, WR, Packers (vs. JAC)
Current own/start %: 97/75
I'd start him over: Steve Smith (at CHI), Dwayne Bowe (vs. OAK), Malcom Floyd (at CLE)
Coming into the year there was no sleeper I liked more than Randall Cobb. As a rookie he was efficient in ways seldom seen, catching nearly 80 percent of his targets and averaging nearly 12.5 yards per target. To start the 2012 season, the great hands remained for Cobb, but he was being almost restricted to the short passing game. Through four weeks, Cobb was catching 86 percent of his targets but was averaging just 7.7 yards per target and 9.0 yards per catch. That was a waste of his natural big-play abilities and it certainly seems like the Packers figured that out as well. With Cedric Benson out with an injury, the team has turned Cobb loose and finally began to utilize him down the field. In the last three games, Cobb has seen 22 targets and has caught 19 of them (86.3 percent) for 273 yards (12.4 yards per target) and three touchdowns. In other words, his catch rate has not dropped off one bit and the kid is just making bigger and bigger plays. I think he is only getting started in Green Bay and is a weekly starter as far as I am concerned. The Jags have given up five wide receiver touchdowns in their last four games and are allowing nearly 27 points per game to the position during that span. Look for Cobb to say red-hot.

Brandon Gibson, WR, Rams (vs. NE)
Current own/start %: 50/27
I'd start him over: Hakeem Nicks (at DAL), Brian Hartline (at NYJ), James Jones (vs. JAC)
The Patriots have one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL for the second straight year and I don't think a trip to jolly old England is going to cure their woes. In their last five games, the Patriots have allowed 1,690 yards passing and 14 passing touchdowns to a pretty pedestrian group of quarterbacks. The five signal callers in question are Joe Flacco, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Peyton Manning (ok, he is legit), Russell Wilson and Mark Sanchez, so it is not like they are facing the best passing offenses in the game today. All five of those quarterbacks set their 2012 high in passing yards against the Patriots, which led to big games for their wide receivers as you might expect. In that five-game stretch, the Patriots have allowed 1,069 yards and nine touchdowns to wide receivers, who have scored an average of 31.7 Fantasy points per game, tops in the NFL. Seven receivers have produced at least 10 Fantasy points against the Pats in those five games and 10 have scored at least eight points. Since Danny Amendola went down with an injury, Brandon Gibson leads the Rams with 16 targets and 12 catches and is second with 151 receiving yards. I think Gibson is a great pickup and play receiver for your teams this week and his running mate Chris Givens is also worth a start as a No. 3 receiver.

Other WRs and TEs with favorable matchups: Demaryius Thomas/ Eric Decker (vs. NO), Marques Colston/Lance Moore (at DEN), Mike Wallace/Antonio Brown (vs. WAS), Kenny Britt (vs. IND), Percy Harvin (vs. TB), Josh Gordon (vs. SD), Denarius Moore (at KC), Heath Miller (vs. WAS), Joel Dreessen (vs. NO), Jason Witten (vs. NYG), Dustin Keller (vs. MIA), Bye Week Broskis: Sidney Rice (at DET), Donnie Avery (at TEN), Nate Washington (vs. IND), Chris Givens (vs. NE), Cecil Shorts (at GB), Darrius Heyward-Bey (at KC), Titus Young/Ryan Broyles (vs. SEA), Mike Williams (at MIN), Brandon Myers (at KC), Jacob Tamme (vs. NO), Coby Fleener (at TEN), Dwayne Allen (at TEN)

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Cam Newton, QB, Panthers (at CHI)
Current own/start %: 100/65
I'd rather start: Carson Palmer (at KC), Sam Bradford (vs. NE), Ben Roethlisberger (vs. WAS)
Cam Newton is struggling with four games of less than 20 points out of six starts in 2012. He has only been a Top 12 quarterback three times this year and he is likely to fall below .500 after taking on the Bears in Week 8. The Bears are not struggling on defense and are currently allowing a league-low 9.8 points per game. They have generated 16 quarterback turnovers and have only allowed five quarterback touchdowns this year. That means that quarterbacks are actually scoring negative points on touchdowns (30) versus turnovers (-32) against this defense, which is insane. When you consider that Cam has 9 turnovers and only eight touchdowns himself, it sure looks like it could be a long day at the office. No quarterback has produced 20 points against this defense and they held Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck and Tony Romo to a combined 57 points in their four toughest tests of the year. Cam is in a big slump and the Bears are nobody's slump buster. Look to buy Cam for pennies on the dollar after this game as his schedule gets much, much easier after Week 8.

Other QBs with tough matchups: Matthew Stafford (vs. SEA), Alex Smith (at ARI), Tony Romo (vs. NYG), Josh Freeman (at MIN)

Mikel Leshoure, RB, Lions (vs. SEA)
Current own/start %: 97/51
I'd rather start: Vick Ballard (at TEN), Chris Johnson (vs. IND), Doug Martin (at MIN)
I am a big fan of Leshoure's and I think he has a bunch of big games coming up as the Detroit schedule gets easier, but this is not going to be one of those weeks. I know that Frank Gore ran wild on the Seahawks in Week 7, but that was a short week and the 49ers defense dominated the Seattle offense. I do not see the Detroit defense completely shutting down the Hawks on offense and even if they do, Seattle will be very well rested, which could mean a long day at the office for Leshoure. Gore is the only runner all year to run for more than 55 yards against this Seattle defense and in seven games, only two runners have even topped 45 yards. The Hawks have not allowed a running back to score in four straight games and only two runners, Gore and Cedric Benson, have produced 10 points against this defense. Leshoure himself has not scored or produced 10 Fantasy points in three straight games and while he is a fine flex option -- especially in PPR leagues -- you can find a better No. 2 runner for your teams in Week 8.

Trent Richardson/Montario Hardesty, RB, Browns (vs. SD)
Current own/start %: 100/66; 44/11
I'd rather start: Rashad Jennings (at GB), Michael Turner (at PHI), Shonn Greene (vs. MIA)
The Browns are having internal discussions about whether or not they should shut down their prized rookie runner Trent Richardson for three weeks to deal with his rib injury. With that information at hand, I see two scenarios happening for the Browns running backs in Week 8 against the Chargers. First, Richardson could make another start like he did in Week 7 when he carried the ball eight times for eight yards before being benched against the soft run defense of the Colts. Montario Hardesty would be the next back in and neither back would have much Fantasy value unless they got lucky and scored a touchdown on their limited touches. The second scenario is that Richardson sits out the game and the very pedestrian and oft-injured Hardesty makes his first start of 2012. Over the last two weeks, Hardesty has 84 yards rushing and a touchdown on 22 carries (3.8 yards per carry) against the Bengals and Colts. The Bengals (124 yards per game) and the Colts (141.7 yards per game) are two of the worst run defenses in the NFL. Together they have allowed 17 rushing touchdowns this year and are allowing a healthy 4.6 yards per carry. So Hardesty was clearly below average against these defenses, which begs the question; what you can expect against the league's top-ranked run defense of the Chargers? The Chargers are allowing only 71.2 rushing yards per game on 3.6 yards per carry. They have not allowed a single 100-yard rusher this year and have given up only two rushing scores all year, fourth fewest in the league. The only area where the Chargers are weak against running backs is in the passing game and with Hardesty hardly playing in passing situations (he has just one catch for nine yards all year), it really limits his upside. If T-Rich starts, I am going for a healthier option and if he sits, I am staying away from Hardesty, so either way you want to sit the Browns runners against the Super Chargers in Week 8.

Other RBs with tough matchups: Steven Jackson (vs. NE), LaRod Stephens-Howling (vs. SF), DeAngelo Williams (vs. The Bench), Daryl Richardson (vs. NE), Jonathan Dwyer/Rashard Mendenhall (vs. WAS)

Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants (at DAL)
Current own/start %: /100/89
I'd rather start: Denarius Moore (at KC), Kenny Britt (vs. IND), Antonio Brown (vs. WAS)
Outside of his monster game against the Buccaneers, the clearly less than 100 percent Hakeem Nicks has not done much to help your Fantasy teams. In Week 1 against these very same Cowboys, Nicks had four catches for 38 yards. In Week 6 against the San Francisco 49ers, Nicks had three catches for 44 yards and just last week he mustered only five catches for 53 yards against the Redskins, who have the league's worst pass defense. He has not found the end zone outside of the Tampa Bay game either and you have to wonder how effective he will be in Week 8 against the excellent secondary of the Cowboys. Only three receivers have eclipsed 60 yards receiving against Dallas this year and only Brandon Marshall and Brandon LaFell have reached double-digit Fantasy points against this defense. I am fine with Nicks in a three-receiver league, because at least two receivers have produced eight Fantasy points against the Cowboys in three straight games, but unless he is at 100 percent he does not have a ton of upside and his recent performances would indicate that he still carries plenty of downside.

Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins (at NYJ)
Current own/start %: 88/15
I'd rather start: Brandon Gibson (vs. NE), Chris Givens (vs. NE), Josh Gordon (vs. SD)
In his last two games, Brian Hartline has a total of five targets, four catches and 59 yards receiving. Teams took notice of his hot start and he is commanding much more defensive attention than he did prior to his breakout game against the Cardinals. Well, if he thought the last two weeks were tough, things will not be getting any easier in Week 8 against Antonio Cromartie and the Jets. Since Darrelle Revis went down for the year, AC has taken his game to a new level as a total lockdown cornerback. Over the last three weeks he has faced Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Lloyd and they have produced a combined seven Fantasy points. That's 2.3 points per game to three of the best receivers in the NFL, who caught just seven of their 24 targets against Cromartie for a combined 108 yards. That means that Cromartie has held three elite receivers to just a 29.1 percent catch rate and 4.5 yards per target while picking off one pass and forcing a fumble. Hartline still has value and I know that the 'Fins want to get him the ball, but I am not taking my chances against arguably the hottest cornerback in the NFL right now.

Some WRs and TEs with tough matchups: Steve Smith (at CHI), Malcom Floyd (at CLE), Dwayne Bowe (vs. Brady Quinn), Leonard Hankerson/Santana Moss (at PIT), Brandon Pettigrew (vs. SEA)

Good luck this week!

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Cardinals' Larry Foote '50-50' on playing in 2015
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2:17 pm ET) Though Larry Foote is on the Cardinals' coaching staff at the moment, he hasn't ruled out a potential return to the team

Speaking to the team's website, Foote said he's "50-50" about playing in 2015. He talked about the factors that could play into whether or not he returns to playing. 

“Draft, what happens with (suspended linebacker) Darryl Washington, stuff like that, how my knee feels (after offseason surgery),” Foote said. “I’ll sit down with (Bruce Arians) and the next couple of months are really going to be the deciding factor.”

If Foote doesn't play, he'll be the linebackers coach for Arizona's upcoming season. He's been adjusting to the role of being a coach this offseason. 

“I am starting to like coaching,” Foote said. “It’s a little tough in the office, eating M&Ms, snacking all day, drinking coffee. I started my diet a couple days ago.”


Panthers pick up option on Luke Kuechly contract
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) What was promised by general manager Dave Gettleman is now official - the Panthers have picked up the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of standout linebacker Luke Kuechly, per the team website.

The two-time Pro Bowler has led the NFL in tackles in two of his three seasons and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. He has racked up 473 tackles since 2012, the most in the NFL.


Ravens TE Dennis Pitta hopeful for 2015 return
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta hopes to take the field in time for the 2015 season, but admits it's too early to determine if that goal can become a reality.

Pitta has undergone surgeries to repair a fractured and dislocated hip in each of the last two years.

"We still have some time to be able to assess where I'm at," Pitta told the Baltimore Sun. "I sure hope that I'll be on the field next year. That's my hope; that's my goal. We'll just see if I can get there."

Pitta has played in just seven games in the last two seasons combined.


Mark Sanchez: Eagles said Tim Tebow was just a camp arm
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez said he wasn't concerned that the team signed Tim Tebow, because the Eagles told him Tebow was just there to throw in camp.

"We needed another guy to throw while Sam's (Bradford) still recovering. So that's the reason (for the signing), at least as explained to me," Sanchez said, per CSN Philadelphia

The Eagles signed Tebow on Monday. He hasn't played in the NFL since getting cut by the Patriots at the end of training camp prior to the 2013 season. He spent last year as a television analyst for the SEC Network. 

Tebow and Sanchez were teammates on the Jets in 2012. Tebow's presence as a back-up created a quarterback controversy among fans and media that last ed throughout the season. 


Vikings CB Terence Newman has familiarity with Mike Zimmer
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Vikings cornerback Terence Newman won't have a steep learning curve now that he's with his new team. 

Newman played under Vikings coach Mike Zimmer when he was the defensive coordinator with the Cowboys. Drafted in 2003, Newman learned Zimmer's defense from his rookie season through 2006, before Zimmer left to take the same position with the Falcons. 

“I just know exactly what to expect from him as a coach, as well as everybody else in this locker room,” Newman told the Vikings' website. “You play your best football under him.”

In his career, Newman has recorded 741 tackles and 37 interceptions. Entering his 13th NFL year, Newman has already impressed his teammates with voluntary workouts underway. 

“I met with him and he seemed like a great guy,” cornerback Xavier Rhodes said. “Like he’s going to come in and teach us what we need to know about the technique of the game and about the defense because he’s been in it before, so he’s going to help us out a lot. He’s a big asset to this team and the defense.”


Chiefs pick up option on NT Dontari Poe
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Chiefs have exercised their fifth-year option on two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe, per NFL.com. He is set in Kansas City through 2016, when he will earn $6.146 million.

The 350-pound Poe has earned the money. He racked up six sacks and contributed to 46 tackles in 2014.


Lions GM Mayhew OK with James Ihedigbo skipping workouts
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Safety James Ihedigbo was the lone absence from voluntary workouts this week for the Lions. But general manager Martin Mayhew understands. After all, Ihedigbo's agent has stated that he would not work without a new contract.

"I look forward to talking with James," Mayhew told ESPN. "I understand what he's going through. I've been through that myself as a player, when I felt that a time in my career that I was underpaid and I had to deal with that.

"So I have empathy for him. I understand what he's going through and I look forward to sitting down and talking with him. I have great respect for him as a player, as a man. I've gotten to know him a little bit away from football and I understand how he feels."

Mayhew declined to discuss whether the Liins will rework Ihedigbo's contract.

The 31-year-old Ihedigbo contributed 71 tackles and two sacks with a career-high four interceptions in 2014 despite missing three games at the start of the year with a nerve injury. He earned Pro Bowl alternate status.


Eagles withdraw qualifying offer to RB Chris Polk
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Running back Chris Polk is now a free agent. 

According to the NFL transaction wire, the Eagles rescinded their $1.6 million tender they offered this past March. The Eagles placed the tender on Polk, previously a restricted free agent, before signing both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews in free agency. 

With Darren Sproles on the roster, it didn't make much sense for Polk to stay with the Eagles. 

In 2014, Polk ran for 172 yards and four touchdowns. 


RB Bobby Rainey signs qualifying offer with Buccaneers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Buccaneers have announced that running back Bobby Rainey has signed a one-year qualifying offer the team extended to him before the free agency period. He was a restricted free agent and was given an opportunity to negotiate with other teams.

Rainey will compete for playing time with Tampa Bay. He rushed for 406 yards in 2014, but faded at the end of the season with just two carries in the last six games combined.


Jaguars planning to play 2015 season without Justin Blackmon
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) As far as the Jaguars are concerned, Justin Blackmon will not be lining up at receiver for them this season. 

At least that's the approach Jacksonville is taking. Blackmon has been indefinitely suspended since Nov. 1 2013 for three violations of the substance-abuse policy under the old CBA.

"Our process hasn't changed," Caldwell said, via ESPN.com. "[We] plan to go without him, but if he emerges, he emerges, and he's going to go in with those top guys and compete with those other guys. Hopefully we're able to get some news, but if not we weren't planning on [having Blackmon]. We're just going to go [without him]."

Before he can re-join the Jaguars, he'll need to file an application for reinstatement, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell making a decision within a 60-day window. The application letter would include details of the treatment he's received. 

Since being selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Blackmon has only played in 20 games. He has 1,280 yards and six touchdowns in his career. 


 
 
 
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