Fantasy Football

Week 8 lineup calls: Wide receivers

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Michael Harmon

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Lineup calls: QB | RB | WR | TE | K | D/ST

Fantasy owners spent the early part of the week trolling the waiver wire for viable options at every position.

With six teams taking their bye in Week 8, some owners had to “burn-and-churn” the kicker and defense slots. Others put their heads into their hands while evaluating the available quarterbacks (I’m sorry to remind you of this, Tony Romo owners. We’ll leave it alone now.).

However, the most turnover this week occurred at the wide receiver position. The perfect convergence of injuries, ineffectiveness, the emergence of new options and this six-team bye week have forced owners to reevaluate their investments for the second half of the season.

David Gettis (nine targets in Week 7), Lee Evans (three touchdowns in Week 7) and Nate Burleson (back-to-back touchdowns before the Week 7 bye) led the pack.

Do they rate in this week’s installment of “Lineup Calls.”

Top 10 Wide Receivers

(other than Wes Welker, Calvin Johnson, Miles Austin, Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne, Brandon Marshall, Brandon Lloyd, Percy Harvin, Terrell Owens, Andre Johnson and Greg Jennings)

Dwayne Bowe vs. Buffalo

Since the NBA has returned in full force, it’s only appropriate to say that Bowe is “on fire.” He caught four touchdown passes from Matt Cassel in the past two weeks, and narrowly missed a fifth in Week 5.

Bowe and Cassel continue their fantasy magic in Week 8. There’s a date with Buffalo on tap, a defensive unit that surrenders 204.8 yards and 2.3 touchdowns per game. The reins will be loosened on Cassel again. The Bills rank dead-last against the run, thereby opening opportunities downfield against a secondary that has intercepted one pass.

Santana Moss at Detroit

Moss remains the favorite target of Donovan McNabb, having averaged nine pass targets per game through seven weeks. He’s caught five or more passes in six of those seven contests with 77 or more receiving yards in five of seven games. As such, Moss represents a prime receiver play this week against a Detroit secondary that cedes 238.3 receiving yards and 1.7 receiving touchdowns per game. This could be McNabb’s bust-out week, and Moss figures to be the primary beneficiary of his efforts.

Hines Ward at New Orleans

Nobody benefitted from the return of Ben Roethlisberger more than Ward. Ward caught 12 passes in the Steelers’ first four games. He caught 12 passes in two games with Roethlisberger under center and scored in both games.

The Saints rank second in terms of receiving yardage allowed (188.1 yards allowed per game) and have surrendered only six passing touchdowns. New Orleans is still trying to get healthy in the secondary, and the takeaways that defined the 2009 season have yet to be repeated.

Pierre Garcon vs. Houston


  • Who will score the most fantasy points for Week 8 of this group?
    • Dwayne Bowe vs. Buffalo
    • Lee Evans at Kansas City
    • Chad Ochocinco vs. Miami
    • Santana Moss at Detroit
    • Hines Ward at New Orleans

Austin Collie and Dallas Clark are out of the mix, thereby putting more targets into the hands of Reggie Wayne and Garcon. Since returning to the lineup, Garcon amassed 10 catches, 160 yards and a touchdown.

I understand that the loss of two trusted options leave some fantasy owners and fans nervous about the Colts going forward. No. 16 is still under center, so the train rolls on in Houston. You can bet that Peyton Manning and the Colts are eager to avenge the Week 1 loss.

Mike Williams at Arizona

Williams has become the go-to receiver for second-year quarterback Josh Freeman. He’s caught four or more passes in five of six games this season while averaging 60.8 receiving yards (three touchdowns). Williams is a top-notch play this weekend against the Cardinals (242.2 yards and 1.6 touchdowns allowed per game). Freeman is coming into his own, and Arizona’s offense isn’t going to help matters.

Lee Evans at Kansas City

Evans has been returned to the fantasy radar by Ryan Fitzpatrick, having caught four or more passes in four games this season. Fitzpatrick is willing to throw the ball deep with regularity, thereby giving Evans a chance (it’s all we can ask after years of mismanagement). The Chiefs rank 25th in receiving yardage allowed (243.8 yards per game and eight touchdowns).

Mike Williams at Oakland

Williams is the white-hot waiver pickup of the week, having posted back-to-back brilliant efforts (21 receptions for 210 yards and a touchdown). However, he’ll square off in man-coverage with Nnamdi Asomugha, who virtually erased Brandon Lloyd from the stat sheet in Week 7 (one reception for 46 yards). Williams still represents a low-end WR2 or WR3 play. I do I believe that the ceiling is lower this week.

Chad Ochocinco vs. Miami

Following a four-week downturn in production, Ochocinco finally got back into the good graces of fantasy owners in Week 7. He started slowly, but caught fire in the second half to finish the loss to Atlanta with 10 receptions, 108 yards and a touchdown.

Terrell Owens’ early-season dominance should continue to afford Ochocinco opportunities (wasn’t it supposed to be the other way around?). Owens has been targeted 73 times this season (second in the NFL). Ochocinco is tied for 11th, averaging 10.2 targets per contest. It’s not a huge spot against the Dolphins, but Miami has surrendered seven touchdowns in the past four weeks and the Bengals’ inability to sustain the run forces Palmer to keep throwing.

Steve Smith (Carolina) at St. Louis


  • Who will score the fewest fantasy points for Week 8 of this group?
    • Kenny Britt at San Diego
    • Marques Colston vs. Pittsburgh
    • Donald Driver at New York Jets

Smith caught four passes for 50 yards in Week 7, but missed a portion of the game against San Francisco because of leg cramps. He’s not listed on the early-week injury report, so fantasy owners can keep him slotted in their lineups. Matt Moore appeared more comfortable and confident in his return to the field (that interception returned for a touchdown notwithstanding), and the emergence of David Gettis and Brandon LaFell as viable secondary options should afford Smith better opportunities. The Rams allow 242.9 passing yards and a shade over one passing touchdown per game (1.14).

Gettis caught eight of the nine passes thrown to him in Week 8. He’s most definitely worthy of a WR3 start.

Anthony Armstrong at Detroit

Armstrong has established himself as Donovan McNabb’s top deep threat and complement to Santana Moss. He’s caught multiple passes in three consecutive games, and has recorded a catch of at least 19 yards in five of seven games. Armstrong warrants a solid plug-in consideration as a third wideout against the Detroit secondary (238.6 yards and 1.7 touchdowns per game).

Wide Receiver Sleepers

Roy Williams vs. Jacksonville

Williams quickly provided an endorsement of quarterback Jon Kitna. That’s one way to make sure that red zone targets continue to be thrown in your direction. Williams is anything but a sure thing following Monday’s shutout (he was targeted three times, including a near-miss in the end zone). Given the well-publicized struggles in the Jacksonville secondary, Williams remains a viable WR3 this week. If he fails to produce, he’ll disappear from the fantasy radar just as quickly as he returned.

Anthony Gonzalez vs. Houston

Gonzalez returns to the fantasy radar following an extended absence because of an ankle injury. If cleared for Monday’s game against Houston, Gonzalez could assume a huge role immediately. Austin Collie and Dallas Clark are out, thereby opening up targets for the fourth-year receiver. He’s been returned to waivers in a great number of leagues.

Steve Johnson at Kansas City

Johnson scored for the fourth straight game in the Bills’ game effort against the Ravens in Week 7. He’s also caught three or more passes in every game this season. Despite his high weekly target count, Johnson remains widely available in fantasy leagues. Owners are just not ready to trust the Buffalo offense.

I have faith in Ryan Fitzpatrick. He may not pile up victories, but he keeps slinging the ball downfield. The Chiefs surrender 255 passing yards and 1.3 touchdowns per game. He may be pressured into a turnover or two. The numbers will be there in the end.

Nate Burleson vs. Washington

Burleson scored in back-to-back games before the Lions’ Week 7 bye. I’m very intrigued to see this unit finally back at full strength with Matthew Stafford back under center. The Redskins rank 31st against the pass, having surrendered 306.4 passing yards and 1.4 touchdowns per game. DeAngelo Hall tries to live up to the post-Week 7 hype against Calvin Johnson, leaving the dominant tight end duo and Burleson to do damage downfield.

Wide Receiver Flops

Marques Colston vs. Pittsburgh

Colston produced his best game of the season in Week 7, amassing 10 catches and 112 yards, including his first touchdown, against the Browns. I’m not anticipating a replication of that effort in Week 8 against the Steelers. The Steelers have ceded 252 passing yards per game, but opponents have generated only four passing touchdowns. With the exception of Roddy White in Week 1, No. 1 receivers have failed to surmount much of an attack (Anquan Boldin had 68 receiving yards, while Brandon Marshall was limited to 57 receiving yards).

Donald Driver at New York Jets

On Sunday night, Driver’s streak of 133 games with at least one reception came to an end. The veteran receiver has been hampered by a thigh injury for several weeks and did not practice Wednesday. If cleared, Driver will likely be limited again and faces a daunting task against Antonio Cromartie. James Jones represents a better option for fantasy owners this week.

Kenny Britt at San Diego

Britt was one of the top stars of Week 7. He caught three touchdown passes from Kerry Collins to extend his scoring streak to five games (with seven total). Britt has caught multiple passes in six consecutive games, although it should be noted that he’s eclipsed 41 receiving yards only twice.

Tagged: Michael Vick, Jay Feely, Sammy Morris, Neil Rackers, Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Mike Sellers, Phil Dawson, Joey Galloway, Charlie Batch, Jason Hanson, Donald Driver, Brett Favre, Ryan Longwell, Joe Nedney, Derrick Mason, Reggie Wayne, Peyton Manning, Tony Gonzalez, Sebastian Janikowski, Marc Bulger, Olindo Mare, Randy Moss, Tom Brady, Kevin Faulk, Adam Vinatieri, Jake Delhomme, Ricky Williams, Kerry Collins, Santana Moss, Donovan McNabb, David Akers, Correll Buckhalter, Thomas Jones, Kris Brown, Hines Ward, LaDainian Tomlinson, Drew Brees, Terrell Owens, Rian Lindell, Matt Hasselbeck, Steve Smith Sr., John Kasay, Fred Taylor, Todd Heap, Brandon Stokley, Jabar Gaffney, Deion Branch, Maurice Morris, Jeremy Shockey, Josh Reed, Clinton Portis, Antonio Bryant, David Garrard, Daniel Graham, Chester Taylor, Ladell Betts, Shayne Graham, Matt Bryant, Shaun Hill, Antwaan Randle El, Brian Westbrook, Jeff Reed, Anquan Boldin, Jason Witten, Nate Burleson, Visanthe Shiancoe, Justin Fargas, Carson Palmer, Andre Johnson, Byron Leftwich, Bryant Johnson, Willis McGahee, Dallas Clark, Larry Johnson, Kevin Walter, Josh Brown, Justin Gage, Seneca Wallace, Antonio Gates, Tony Romo, Clifton Smith, Matt Schaub, Julius Jones, Devery Henderson, Larry Fitzgerald, Philip Rivers, Kellen Winslow, Roy Williams, Ben Roethlisberger, Lee Evans, Steven Jackson, Michael Jenkins, Benjamin Watson, Nate Kaeding, Bernard Berrian, Chris Cooley, Eli Manning, Derrick Ward, Patrick Crayton, Jerricho Cotchery, Mewelde Moore, Michael Turner, Lawrence Tynes, Wes Welker, Willie Parker, Earnest Graham, Malcom Floyd, Jason Wright, Mark Clayton, Aaron Rodgers, Jason Campbell, Roddy White, Heath Miller, Vincent Jackson, Frank Gore, Brandon Jones, Alex Smith, Ronnie Brown, Braylon Edwards, Cedric Benson, Carnell Williams, Troy Williamson, Dave Rayner, Derek Anderson, Matt Cassel, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kyle Orton, Marion Barber, Brandon Jacobs, Alvin Pearman, Darren Sproles, Roydell Williams, Bo Scaife, Rob Bironas, Josh Cribbs, Leonard Weaver, Nate Washington, Robbie Gould, Lance Moore, Ryan Grant, Greg Camarillo, Tarvaris Jackson, Jerious Norwood, Maurice Stovall, Reggie Bush, Vince Young, Vernon Davis, Matt Leinart, Jay Cutler, Laurence Maroney, Santonio Holmes, DeAngelo Williams, Marcedes Lewis, Joseph Addai, Kellen Clemens, Greg Jennings, Anthony Fasano, Devin Hester, Maurice Jones-Drew, Tony Scheffler, Marques Colston, Jeff King, Bruce Gradkowski, Devin Aromashodu, Michael Robinson, Brad Smith, Jason Avant, Leon Washington, Stephen Gostkowski, Brandon Marshall, Jerome Harrison, Hank Baskett, Miles Austin, Fred Jackson, Chansi Stuckey, Kenneth Darby, Ahmad Bradshaw, Le'Ron McClain, Steve Breaston, Kevin Boss, Dante Rosario, Brent Celek, Legedu Naanee, Troy Smith, Nick Folk, Mason Crosby, Steve Smith, Brian Leonard, Jacoby Jones, Laurent Robinson, James Jones, Mike Sims-Walker, Trent Edwards, Michael Bush, Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Ted Ginn Jr., Marshawn Lynch, Brady Quinn, Dwayne Bowe, Robert Meachem, Greg Olsen, Anthony Gonzalez, Kevin Kolb, Zach Miller, Sidney Rice, Dwayne Jarrett, D.J. Ware, Matt Prater, Matt Moore, Pierre Thomas, Eldra Buckley, Jackie Battle, Jonathan Stewart, Joe Flacco, Felix Jones, Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Johnson, Dustin Keller, Donnie Avery, Devin Thomas, Jordy Nelson, John Carlson, James Hardy, Eddie Royal, Matt Forte, Fred Davis, DeSean Jackson, Malcolm Kelly, Ray Rice, Chad Henne, Matt Ryan, Darren McFadden, Lex Hilliard, Pierre Garcon, Chaz Schilens, Justin Forsett, Adrian Arrington, Tashard Choice, Ryan Torain, Keenan Burton, Tim Hightower, Jalen Parmele, Jacob Hester, Earl Bennett, Jamaal Charles, Early Doucet, Harry Douglas, Steve Slaton, Jermichael Finley, Mario Manningham, Davone Bess, Dan Carpenter, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Albert Young, Garrett Hartley, Rashad Jennings, David Buehler, Javon Ringer, Cedric Peerman, Bernard Scott, Julian Edelman, Sammie Stroughter, Shonn Greene, Brandon Tate, Mike Wallace, Jared Cook, Deon Butler, Mike Thomas, Brian Hartline, Louis Murphy Jr., Austin Collie, Johnny Knox, Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Michael Crabtree, Knowshon Moreno, Josh Freeman, Jeremy Maclin, Brandon Pettigrew, Percy Harvin, Donald Brown, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, Beanie Wells, Mohamed Massaquoi, LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster, Michael Bennett, Kareem Huggins, Kahlil Bell, Jimmy Clausen, Rob Gronkowski, Arrelious Benn, Dez Bryant, Jonathan Dwyer, Demaryius Thomas, Golden Tate, Ryan Mathews, Aaron Hernandez, Jahvid Best, Tony Moeaki, Jimmy Graham, Ed Dickson, Garrett Graham, Montario Hardesty, Dennis Pitta, Brandon LaFell, Colt McCoy, Ben Tate, Boobie Dixon, Toby Gerhart, C.J. Spiller, Sam Bradford, Jermaine Gresham, Dexter McCluster, Max Hall, Lance Ball

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