After Matt Ryan struggled against the Patriots, he's only a QB2 this week
Fantasy owners may have a hard time finding players they feel confident in to fill their lineups this week. Plenty of injuries are affecting fantasy owners, plus the additional challenge of having six teams on a bye is tough. Spoiler alert: six teams are on a bye again next week again.
In looking at fantasy rosters (or waiver wires or DFS lineups), sometimes it is tough to choose which player to pick. By Week 8, fantasy owners have had almost half a season’s worth of games to see how their players are performing (for better or worse).
At the bottom is the full disclosure, listing how well last week's picks performed. Please note that 5 Up/5 Down is a guide on players that should exceed or fall below their rank this week. This is based on past performance, injury status and matchup. This is not a start/sit column, but rather a guide.
Teams on bye: Arizona, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Tennessee
Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders
With Buffalo's secondary banged up, Carr should be a QB1 for Week 8. He's ranked No. 15, which puts him in the QB2 range, but he could easily exceed that. He probably won't throw the ball 52 times like he did in Week 7, but he's finally realized Amari Cooper is on the team. With Marshawn Lynch suspended, the Raiders should look to throw the ball. The Bills have allowed the past two quarterbacks facing them to throw for more than 300 yards and Jameis Winston last week had three TD passes.
Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease (see Antonio Brown's targets in Week 5). Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets suspended (see Martavis Bryant, Week 8). Mixon publicly complained about his usage following Week 7, which could go either way: he could be given more carries than he can handle in Week 8 or he could ride the pine. The Indianapolis Colts allow the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, putting Mixon in a prime spot to exceed his No. 11 ranking.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
McCaffrey has the eighth-most targets in the league so far this season. As a running back! It's unheard of that a running back would have more targets than most wide receivers in the league. In PPR leagues, McCaffrey has solid RB2 value. In standard formats, when fantasy owners are relying on his rushing yards, they are disappointed. However, he has at least five receptions in the past three games, so here's saying he can exceed his No. 19 ranking this week.
Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Over the past three weeks, Agholor has four receptions and a touchdown in each game. While that's a streak of coincidence more than anything else, the reality is that Carson Wentz is throwing the ball a lot and he's spreading it around. Wentz trusts Agholor and the matchup is a good one for him this week. With Wentz as the No. 1-ranked quarterback, he's going to have to throw it to someone — why not Agholor? He's the No. 23 ranked wide receiver this week, but should crack the top 20.
Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts
In the past three weeks, Doyle has at least five receptions in each game. He has a touchdown in that span as well. It's not pretty, but he's providing Jacoby Brissett with an option when he's in trouble. Brissett keeps checking down to Doyle, which results in fantasy points, especially in PPR formats. While he isn't a typical red-zone target (assuming the Colts can score points this week), in PPR leagues, Doyle should exceed his No. 13 ranking.
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
If Ryan couldn't do it against the Patriots, is he going to be a top-10 fantasy quarterback against the New York Jets? While the Jets aren't a formidable matchup, they did hold Tom Brady to under 300 yards. Ryan has only thrown for more than 300 yards once (in Week 1) and only has more than one touchdown pass once this season (two in Week 3) as well. This is not the Matt Ryan of 2016; he should finish below his No. 9 ranking.
Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
While Martin will get plenty of opportunity against the Carolina Panthers, it is a tough matchup. They have only allowed three running backs to score rushing touchdowns and no receiving touchdowns. LeGarrette Blount was the running back with the most rushing yards against them so far this season with 67. It's a tough run defense, and Martin may not be able to get through. He's ranked No. 12 but is only a RB2.
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Putting Bryant on the "down" list is based on him matching up with Josh Norman. Norman is questionable for Week 8, and if he does play, Bryant should finish below his No. 6 ranking. Bryant is a solid wide receiver, but when he's faced with tough matchups, he tends to struggle. In Week 3 against Patrick Peterson, Bryant had two receptions for 12 yards and a touchdown.
Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans
Unfortunately for Fuller, he will likely see a lot of Richard Sherman in Week 8, driving his fantasy value downward. Fuller has five touchdowns in three games, but only has eight receptions in that span as well. At some point, he's going to have a low fantasy week; all signs point to it being Week 8. He's the No. 27-ranked wide receiver, but he may not make the top 30 by the time Week 8 is over. This is a matchup-based call; DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson should still be fine for fantasy owners.
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
The Redskins play the Cowboys in Week 8, a team that has allowed one touchdown to opposing tight ends (Virgil Green in Week 2). While Reed is a solid tight end option, he's ranked No. 7 for Week 8, which is high. He is still sharing snaps with Vernon Davis for some reason, and until the Redskins can commit to one tight end, Reed's value takes a hit. He had two touchdowns in Week 7 so fantasy owners hope Reed will get more looks moving forward, but it might not happen just yet.
Full Disclosure, Week 7:
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans (Ranked: 8, Actual: 24)
James White, RB, New England Patriots (Ranked: 32, Actual: 12)
Devin Funchess, WR, Carolina Panthers (Ranked: 22, Actual: 47
Willie Snead, WR, New Orleans Saints (Ranked: 40, Actual: DNP)
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons (Ranked: 12, Actual: not in top 50)
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers (Ranked: 17 Actual: 14)
DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans (Ranked: 14, Actual: 24)
Adrian Peterson, RB, Arizona Cardinals (Ranked: 15, Actual: 46)
Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers (Ranked: 13, Actual: not in top 50)
Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys (Ranked: 13, Actual: 5)
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.