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Quick Fantasy Hits for Week 8

Senior Fantasy Writer
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As we wade into an eighth week of action, there are some nuggets that are too in-depth for the podcast, too smart for Twitter and a little too short for the full column. Enjoy these Week 8 Quick Hits:

Your byes for Week 8: Houston, Buffalo, Baltimore, Cincinnati.

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This will be a good week to start Mike Williams. Because he's playing the Vikings. And Minnesota's defense has proven, over the first seven weeks, that while it is adept at locking down a team's top receiver, it also allows someone else to step up and gain the most yards. This was pointed out in the update for Andre Roberts before Week 7's game against the Cardinals. Roberts ended up with seven receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown. Williams, who plays No. 2 to Vincent Jackson for Tampa Bay, will likely follow in the footsteps of Cecil Shorts, Donnie Avery, Mario Manningham, Joique Bell and Brandon Pettigrew, Kendall Wright, Santana Moss, and Roberts -- a secondary receiver putting up a nice game against the Vikings' defense.

Can a case still be made for Matthew Stafford? Yes, and it starts here: through his first six games of 2011, Stafford was 147/237 for 1,729 yards. Through his first six games of 2012, he's 164/264 for 1,754 yards. He acutally has a slightly better completion percentage (62.1 percent vs. 62 percent) and has thrown for 25 more yards this year. The major difference is the touchdown production. After six games in 2011, Stafford had 15 passing touchdowns. After six games this year, he has five (although he has rushed for two, as well). Stafford didn't throw his sixth interception last season until November 13. He threw his sixth this year on Monday.

The philosophy of the Lions' offense hasn't changed; in 2011, they ranked first in the NFL in pass attempts. In 2012, they are again first in the NFL in pass attempts. But while they ranked third in passing touchdowns last year, the Lions are 23rd in passing touchdowns this season. While there's a minor uptick in rushing scores (they ranked ninth in rushing TDs in 2011, they rank fifth this year), and, according to Mike Sando, they are in the middle of the pack in terms of drops, the Lions' problems are more about red zone failures. In Monday night's loss to the Bears, Detroit fumbled twice in the red zone and Stafford threw an interception. On the season, Stafford leads all quarterbacks with three red zone interceptions. But he continues to throw. Only three quarterbacks have more red zone passing attempts than Stafford. And keep in mind that he had been battling a sore hip just a few weeks ago, so he still may be bothered by the injury.

In short, while Stafford has been frustrating, and is far from the Fantasy stud he was last year, it will likely be just be a matter of time until things average out and his owners start to see his touchdown production rise. The offense isn't sputtering; it just hasn't been able to finish. And when the team makes those necessary tweaks, Stafford will return to being a productive quarterback.

Doug Martin and Jason Witten lead the NFL in drops. Your top 10:
1. Doug Martin, 6
2. Jason Witten, 6
3. Dez Bryant, 5
4. Victor Cruz, 5
5. Eric Decker, 5
6. Jimmy Graham, 5
7. Greg Little, 5
8. Brandon Lloyd, 5
9. Darren McFadden, 5
10. Jordy Nelson, 5

The drops haunted Witten early and seem to be sticking around with Bryant. Between them, they have 11 drops on the season. Imagining a series of dominoes that could be knocked down if they caught just half of these drops -- more yards for Witten, Bryant, and Tony Romo, more passing attempts after getting the first downs, more scores -- one could argue that Romo is poised for a bigger second half, as Witten and Bryant will hold on to the ball with a little more gusto going forward.

Fun with defenses! DSTs tend to fluctuate on a weekly basis. So far this season, no team has been safe from single-digit performances. The Bears, as dominant as they have been, scored nine Fantasy points in Week 2. And no other team in the NFL has had fewer than two single-digit weeks. It's not that DSTs are useless, just that we may be pegging too much value on them, relative to other positions.

The top 10 defenses, by average Fantasy points per week:
1. Bears, 19.83 Fantasy points per week
2. Texans, 14.29
3. Falcons, 12
4. Cardinals, 11.71
5. Vikings, 11.71
6. Broncos, 11.67
7. Seahawks, 11
8. Ravens, 10.57
9. Patriots, 10.57
10. Chargers, 10.3

The average is not without its faults -- it overlooks elements like Minnesota's weeks of two, three, and four points and just factors them in with the higher-scoring weeks. In other words, you may add Minnesota expecting a 12-point game, but be stuck with either a five-point one, or enjoy a 22-point one...and then keep them in the following week for that five-point performance. So it makes sense to take into account weekly fluctuations, which may give a better idea of which DST is showing consistency.

As it turns out, the Jets have the greatest average fluctuation of any DST in the NFL, with output going up or down an average of 11.83 Fantasy points per week, in either direction (20 points in Week 1, three in Week 2; 14, two, eight, 18, and three in the ensuing weeks). In short, they are the most maddening DST in the league. But it doesn't necessarily mean they're a lesser DST than the Lions, who have the lowest fluctuation rate (1.5 points per week) but average just 4.8 points per week to the Jets' 10.3. You get far more stability from the Lions, but you're getting that stability on a much smaller level.

Which leads to the next set of numbers. We took the top 16 teams (the top half of the league) in average scoring, and ranked them by fluctuation, from the least fluctuation to the most. The top 10, in terms of steadiness on a week-to-week basis would be:

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1. Seahawks, 6.17 average point fluctuation per week
2. Cardinals, 6.67
3. Falcons, 6.8
4. Browns, 7.17
5. Bears, 7.2
6. Ravens, 7.67
7. Patriots, 8
8. Giants, 8.17
9. Buccaneers, 9
10. Bills, 9.67

...meaning the Seahawks are the most dependable of the league's top DSTs. While it's a neat stat, it discounts the dominance of the Bears. Nobody can argue that, for all the fluctuation in scoring the Bears may offer, they're still the defense you want in Fantasy football. So, we took one more step, in order for the list to accurately represent all of these factors: dividing average points per week by the fluctuation variable. The larger number will be on top, the smaller number will be on bottom, meaning the higher result, the better the DST, with both average scoring and fluctuation taken into account. The results:

1. Bears, 1.99 avg/fluctuation value
2. Cardinals, 1.49
3. Seahawks, 1.47
4. Falcons, 1.42
5. Ravens, 1.23
6. Browns, 1.21
7. Patriots, 1.17
8. Texans, 1.16
9. Giants, 1.13
10. Broncos, 1.05

In this top 10, the Falcons (84 percent), Ravens (83 percent), Browns (30 percent), and Broncos (59 percent) stand out as DSTs that can be had on most waiver wires. The Browns, in particular, buoyed by the recent return of Joe Haden, could be a DST that is going a little under-appreciated by the masses. This isn't to say that going for a home run with the Bears, Texans, or Falcons should be given up in pursuit of the decent-scoring, moderately-fluctuating Browns, but if you're looking for a bye week DST, or one that offers a combination of scoring and steadiness, Cleveland's not a bad spot to start, especially in Week 8, against a San Diego offense that has already thrown nine interceptions.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyFB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasyfootball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Jets' Muhammad Wilkerson sitting on Monday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson will not play on Monday against the Dolphins, according to ESPN.

Wilkerson said he won't need surgery on his injured toe, but he would still need time to recover. It's the first time in his career that Wilkerson will miss a game. "It’s a little weird, but I’m going to do my best to support my teammates," Wilkerson said. 


Raiders active RB George Atkinson for Week 13
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) The Raiders have activated running back George Atkinson for Week 13 against the Rams.

The team will be without Latavius Murray for the contest. Murray was unable to pass the proper concussion tests. Atkinson will have to battle for carries, as the team is expected to have Marcel Reece, Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew for the game. 


Raiders carries will be determined by 'flow' of the game
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) The Raiders will distribute their carries based on the "flow" of the game on Sunday, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Latavius Murray has been ruled out due to a concussion, leaving Marcel Reece, Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden in the backfield. Head coach Tony Sparano confirmed that carries would depend on both "flow" and the game situation. It's unclear which player will get the start. 


Seahawks place Kevin Pierre-Louis on IR, claim Loucheiz Purifoy
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) The Seahawks have claimed defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy off waivers from the Colts and placed linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis on injured reserve, ending his season, per KJR-950 AM in Seattle. Pierre-Louis injured his shoulder Week 11 against Kansas City. His season ends with 13 combined tackles and one fumble recovery in seven games played.

Patriots DT Siliga back at practice, but still on IR/DTR list
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Patriots defensive tackle Sealver Siliga has returned to practice, but he remains on the injured reserve/designated to return list as he continues his recovery from a foot injury that has limited him to three games this season.

Bears LB Lance Briggs lands on season-ending IR list
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Bears linebacker Lance Briggs may have played his last game in Chicago.

According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, the Bears have placed him on the season-ending injured reserve list with a groin injury.

His season ends with one interception and one forced fumble, along with 35 combined tackles in eight games played. The 34-year-old will become a free agent at the end of the season.


Quartet of Raiders get red light for battle with Rams
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Four Raiders have been ruled out for their Sunday game in St. Louis, including running back Latavius Murray (concussion). The others are safety Jonathan Dowling (back) and cornerbacks Carlos Rogers (knee) and Neiko Thorpe (hand).

Listed as questionable is guard Gabe Jackson (knee) while safety Larry Asante (shoulder), cornerback T.J. Carrie (ankle) and tight end Brian Leonhardt (concussion) are probable.


Broncos rule out Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman for Week 13
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) The Broncos ruled out running backs Montee Ball (groin), Ronnie Hillman (foot) along with cornerback Kayvon Webster (shoulder) for Week 13 against Kansas City. Deemed questionable were cornerback Aqib Talib (hamstring), tight end Julius Thomas (ankle) and safety Quinton Carter (ankle).

Meanwhile, the following players were ruled as probable for Sunday: Linebacker Brandon Marshall (concussion), defensive end Quanterus Smith (ankle), safety David Bruton (finger), tight end Virgil Green (calf) and backup running back Juwan Thompson (knee).


Broncos LB Brandon Marshall passes concussion tests
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall has passed the league-mandated concussion protocol and was back on the practice field as a full participant on Friday. The team has designated him as probable for Week 13 against Kansas City.

Marshall suffered the injury the previous week against Miami. He has totaled 94 tackles and one sack, along with two forced fumbles in 11 games.


Broncos' Aqib Talib returns to practice, questionable for Week 13
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib returned to the practice field on Friday after sitting out the previous two days of practice with a hamstring injury. The Broncos have officially listed him as questionable for Week 13 at Kansas City.

Talib suffered the injury Week 12 vs. Miami. He has registered two interceptions, one forced fumble and 43 total tackles through his first 11 games with the Broncos.


 
 
 
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