As Week 8 of the NFL and fantasy season is upon us, we have more teams on bye, and more teams that are dealing with injuries. Some players are getting healthier, while others are playing through their injuries.
Trying to figure out who to sit and who to start each week gets increasingly tougher, but that's what we are here for. Let's take a look at five guys who, based on their previous performance and matchup, are up in the rankings this week, and five guys who are down.
Teams on bye: Buffalo, Jacksonville, Phildaelphia, Washington
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Sure, Ryan hasn't been great this year. He has no 300-yard games, despite favorable matchups. He doesn't have a week with more than two passing touchdowns. However, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are another great matchup. They are currently second in terms of most fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Last week, the Bucs allowed Kirk Cousins to throw for 317 yards and three touchdowns. The week before, they allowed Blake Bortles to throw for 303 yards and four touchdowns. Ryan is a better quarterback than Cousins or Bortles. He has struggled, but this is his week to shine.
Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Do you know which team gives up the most fantasy points to opposing running backs? Hint: it's the team the Bucs face this week. Yes, the Atlanta Falcons, who have allowed the most touchdowns to opposing running backs, are on deck for Martin, who has looked good against much lesser opponents. He has three 100-yard games in as many contests with three rushing touchdowns in that span. He's also had at least three receptions in those games with at least 35 yards in each and one touchdown catch. With Vincent Jackson most likely out because of a knee injury, Mike Evans will see plenty of coverage, so look for Martin to be even more involved in the short passing game.
Chris Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Originally it was start your tight ends against Oakland (thanks again, for ruining that streak Owen Daniels). Now, it's start your running backs against Cleveland. The Browns have given up the most rushing yards in the league, and it's not close (1,057 for Cleveland, 925 for the next-highest team). Johnson has the lead running back role in Arizona for some inexplicable reason. He's had three 100-yard games on the ground so far this season, and he should have another in Week 8. While the job is his, Johnson is a RB1.
Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets
Making his debut into the top 5 of the wide receiver rankings, Marshall comes in at No. 4 this week. Marshall had his four-game streak of 100-plus yard games broken last week, but he's set to start a new streak in Week 8 against Oakland. He has four touchdowns on the year, and while the Raiders are known for allowing touchdowns to tight ends, Marshall can certainly find his way into the end zone. Eric Decker is a little banged up (bruised knee), which may mean even more targets for Marshall.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
While the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense is pretty terrible against tight ends (they have given up the third-most fantasy points), Eifert has been up and down this year. He has six touchdowns on the year and only one 100-yard game (Week 1). He's the fourth-ranked tight end this week, and he should have an "up" week because of Andy Dalton looking for him in the red zone.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
After injuring his knee in Week 3, it appears that Big Ben is set to make his return in Week 8 (to the relief of Antonio Brown owners). He's put in full practices this week, and unless something changes, he'll be back. While most fantasy owners are ready to plug him in as a QB1, the rankings have him as the 12th-ranked quarterback for Week 8. It's unclear how much the knee will hinder him in a game situation, and the matchup isn't a cakewalk. The Bengals, coming off a bye, have allowed the fourth-fewest passing touchdowns (eight) this year. They are middle of the road in terms of yards allowed. Roethlisberger should be ok for fantasy owners, but don't expect a monster performance.
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Detroit Lions
Remember when Abdullah was a fixture in starting lineups? He looked great in the preseason, but just hasn't been able to put it together in the regular season. His best game was Week 1, with 50 rushing yards and his only touchdown on the year. That week he also had the most receptions (four) of the year. With Joique Bell and Theo Riddick playing, Abdullah is barely a bye week fill-in at this point. Kansas City gives up the sixth-fewest points to opposing running backs, as most teams have had more success throwing on the Chiefs. If it's an option, leave him on fantasy benches.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Even with Roethlisberger’s likely return, Bryant is tough to trust this week as anything more than a WR3. Bryant and Roethlisberger haven't played in a game together yet this season, and it's hard to tell what the Steelers’ offense will look like with Big Ben less than 100 percent and Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell and Bryant all battling for touches. Bryant had success with Landry Jones, but will Roethlisberger be able to get the ball to his deep threat on a balky knee? The Bengals’ defense is tough, and Bryant is a big-play guy. He may end up with a 3/80/1 stat line, but he also may end up with a 1/10/0 stat line.
Travis Benjamin, WR, Cleveland Browns
Like Bryant, Benjamin has been a boom-or-bust receiver so far this year. He's had five games with 79 yards or more, including two 100-yard games, and he has two games with fewer than 50 yards. He started the season with four touchdowns in the first three games… and hasn't found the end zone since. This week, Benjamin faces Arizona, and he will likely see Patrick Peterson all day. Peterson has been playing much better defense this year, and with QB Josh McCown banged up as well, Benjamin is a low-end WR3 this week. It's going to be difficult for the Browns to move the ball through the air, and look for Benjamin to struggle in this matchup.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks
When Graham had eight receptions in Week 6, he had 140 yards. When he had seven receptions in Week 3, he had 83 yards and a touchdown. The rest of the season? A total of 16 receptions for 152 yards and one touchdown in five games. Graham is the 11th-ranked tight end this week against a Dallas team that has defended the position thus far.
— 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.