Week 8 of the college fantasy football season is upon us and this week will be critical to monitoring some of the pregame reports as injuries will play a major factor in setting your lineups.
Will Western Michigan running back Jamauri Bogan return to the lineup and how will that affect Jarvion Franklin's playing time? Is Patrick Mahomes fully healthy? Can California wide receiver Chad Hansen return to his early-season form after suffering through injures? These are just some of the big injury-related storylines heading into this weekend.
Note: Obvious choices will not be given such as Lamar Jackson or Donnel Pumphrey as those players are typically starters regardless of the matchup.
Also below are the top 10 rankings for each position for the given week.
Chase Litton, Marshall vs. Charlotte
Litton’s play has quieted down since his first two games of the year where he combined to throw for 722 yards and seven touchdowns. In the last three weeks, Litton has just four TD passes and has topped 300 passing yards just once in that span. I am fully expecting an early-season type of performance out of Litton this week against a Charlotte pass defense that is currently ranked in the bottom five nationally, allowing close to 300 yards per game and 17 TDs. While every season is different, it can’t hurt to look back either at what Litton did to the 49ers last season when he threw for a career-high 486 yards and two scores. A repeat performance this season is not out of the question.
David Washington, Old Dominion vs. Western Kentucky
While his completion percentage may not be where he wants it at, Washington is playing extremely well to start the year with 12 TD passes and just two interceptions. Pretty good for a former wide receiver, huh? Washington has his best matchup of the season this weekend against a Western Kentucky secondary that has been absolutely torched the last two games, giving up a whopping 888 yards through the air and seven TD passes. While you may argue that was against two top-tier fantasy quarterbacks in Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Higgins and Middle Tennessee’s Brent Stockstill, just look at how the Hilltoppers’ defense has fared for most of this season. WKU gave up 339 passing yards to Miami (Ohio) and 279 to Vanderbilt. Those two schools currently rank 62nd and 120th nationally in passing offense, respectively. Pretty safe to assume Washington will have a monster day.
Philip Nelson, East Carolina vs. Cincinnati
Nelson is set to return this week against the Bearcats after being out the majority of the last two weeks due to injury. The former Minnesota transfer was off to a hot start in 2016 with 11 TD passes and four interceptions. But if you look closer, five of those touchdowns came in the first week alone against FCS member Western Carolina. Nelson has put up big-time yardage numbers, mostly in the direction of his favorite receiver Zay Jones, but the touchdowns really haven’t been there. That brings us to Cincinnati’s defense, which ranks 94th in passing yards allowed, but has more interceptions (12) than touchdown passes allowed (eight). Nelson may be able to move his offense up and down the field, but will the Pirates get in the end zone is the question.
Brandon Silvers, Troy vs. South Alabama
Silvers has been the model of consistency for Troy this season, leading the Trojans to a undefeated Sun Belt record (5-1 overall) thus far. The junior quarterback is off to the best start of his collegiate career, completing 62 percent of his passes and is well on his way to topping the 20 touchdown passes he had last year with 14 already through six games. Silvers has accounted for at least two TD passes in each game this season and also has a pair of rushing scores. That said, it could be a struggle this week on the road against a South Alabama defense that is currently third in the country against the pass, allowing just 143 yards per game. I expect a proficient game out of Silvers this week as that is what we have come to expect, but not one that will fill up the stat sheet in any way.
Top 10 Quarterbacks for Week 8:
Luke Falk, Washington State vs. Arizona State
Lamar Jackson, Louisville vs. NC State
Ryan Higgins, Louisiana Tech vs. FIU
Greg Ward Jr., Houston vs. SMU
Davis Webb, California vs. Oregon
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech
Quinton Flowers, South Florida vs. Temple
J.T. Barrett, Ohio State vs. Penn State
Mike White, Western Kentucky vs. Old Dominion
Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma
Joe Mixon, Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech
Mixon is typically worthy of a starting spot in your lineup despite being the No. 2 back behind Samaje Perine, but this week, he will have the starting role all to himself. On Monday it was announced that Perine would miss at minimum two weeks with an injured hamstring, leaving just two scholarship running backs left on the roster for the Sooners in Mixon and freshman Abdul Adams. With Mixon likely set to see 20-plus carries, in addition to being an excellent receiver out of the backfield, he is a must-start this week against a Texas Tech defense that is allowing well over five yards per carry on the ground and has given up 17 rushing touchdowns.
Terrell Newby, Nebraska vs. Purdue
After being relegated to backup duties the first three weeks of the season, Newby has made the most of his opportunities with Devine Ozigbo out with an injury. The senior back has had consecutive 100-yard rushing performances the past two weeks and four rushing touchdowns in his last three games. While Ozigbo was dressed and available to play last week, head coach Mike Reilly stayed with the hot hand in Newby as Ozigbo got just one carry. Look for Newby to get his third consecutive 100-yard performance this week against a Purdue defense that is currently 124th in the country against the run, coughing up more than 260 yards per game.
Dillon Birden, Houston vs. SMU
Birden has filled in admirably the last four weeks as the Cougars have dealt with multiple injuries at the running back position. The junior walk-on has been the team’s primary option in the red zone and has six rushing touchdowns over the last four games, including a career-high 82 yards and three scores last week against Tulsa. Typically this would be an excellent sleeper play against a bad SMU defense, but news broke on Wednesday that starting running back Duke Catalon is expected back in the lineup after missing the last four weeks with a concussion. Catalon has returned to practice, and if no signs of symptoms reoccur, head coach Tom Herman has already stated he will be the top back in the rotation moving forward. Not a good sign for Birden this week and really for the rest of the year.
Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M vs. Alabama
Has there been a better freshman in college football this season than Williams? You could make an argument for the quarterback on the other side of the field in this matchup between Texas A&M and Alabama, but there is no doubting that Williams has been outstanding in his first season at College Station. Williams has been on a tear the past month with a combined 595 rushing yards and five touchdowns in his last four games, including a career-high 217 yards two weeks ago against Tennessee. However, the freshman will face his toughest test to date against an Alabama front that currently ranks No. 1 in rushing defense by a wide margin, allowing just 64 yards per game. The next closest team is Army at 84 yards per game. Teams just don’t run against Alabama and Williams won’t either.
Top 10 Running Backs for Week 8:
Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State vs. San Jose State
Joe Mixon, Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech
Royce Freeman, Oregon vs. California
James Gilbert, Ball State vs. Akron
Aaron Jones, UTEP vs. UTSA
Brian Hill, Wyoming vs. Nevada
Jeremy McNichols, Boise State vs. BYU
Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan
Myles Gaskin, Washington vs. Oregon State
Jamaal Williams, BYU vs. Boise State
J’Mon Moore, Missouri vs. Middle Tennessee
When Moore has shown up in games, he has been one of the best receivers in the country. The problem is that’s only been half of the time. Against West Virginia, Georgia and Delaware, Moore had a combined 24 catches for 414 and six touchdowns. In the other three games? Just four receptions for 51 yards and zero touchdowns. To be fair, two of those matchups were against two of the top secondaries in the country in LSU and Florida. Middle Tennessee does not present the same kind of challenge this week as the Blue Raiders are a middle-of-the-road pass defense within Conference USA. While it may be a bit of a risk considering the inconsistencies of his performances, if Moore hits this week, he will hit big.
River Cracraft, Washington State vs. Arizona State
I hope Gabe Marks doesn’t read this article and call me “kinda douchey” for not putting him in this spot, but it has been his teammate Cracraft that has led the Cougars in receiving in each of the last three games. This season has been a tough one for those who own any of the Washington State receivers. Quarterback Luke Falk is still putting up huge numbers, ranking fifth in the country in passing, but is seemingly spreading the ball around more than usual. But how can you ignore the matchup this week against Arizona State? It’s become common knowledge if you read these articles how bad the Sun Devils’ passing defense has been so I won’t delve too far into it, but the Cougars have to be licking their chops heading into Saturday. Cracraft, Marks and Tavares Martin should all be in your starting lineups if you have any of them.
Amba Etta-Tawo, Syracuse vs. Boston College
I know what you are thinking. How could you possibly sit the No. 2 wide receiver in all of college football? Well if you are short on wide receivers, then no, I would not take Etta-Tawo out of your lineup for a flier. But if you are stacked at the position and have options, you can absolutely consider sitting Etta-Tawo this week. Boston College enters this game as the No. 5 pass defense in the country, allowing fewer than 150 yards per game. The Eagles have yet to allow a receiver to gain more than 100 receiving yards against them. Etta-Tawo has not been his dominant self the previous two weeks either with just nine catches for fewer than 100 yards and zero touchdowns combined against Wake Forest and Virginia Tech. With windy and rainy conditions expected on Saturday, it’s not out of the question to consider benching Etta-Tawo for this week.
Chris Godwin, Penn State vs. Ohio State
Too often, Godwin has been invisible on the field in 2016. A big season was expected from the junior receiver coming of a 1,100-yard campaign, but things have not transpired the way many thought through the first six games. Godwin still has a share of the team lead with 23 receptions, but has disappeared far too often, including games against Michigan and last week against Maryland where he totaled just one catch. Facing an Ohio State defense that is sixth in the country against the pass and has allowed just five touchdowns through the air all season long, I don’t expect Godwin to have much of an impact this week.
Top 10 Wide Receivers for Week 8:
Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech
Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech vs. FIU
Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech vs. FIU
Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky vs. Old Dominion
Chad Hansen, California vs. Oregon
Zay Jones, East Carolina vs. Cincinnati
Corey Davis, Western Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan
Jonathan Giles, Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma
Kenny Golladay, Northern Illinois vs. Buffalo
Richie James, Middle Tennessee vs. Missouri
— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @MikeBainbridge2.