Week 8 in the NFL is a global experience thanks to the Patriots and Rams facing off in London in the annual England game. There’s a number of intriguing stateside matchups as well highlighted by a Sunday Night game that’s expected to be a shoot-out, some tough divisional matchups, and the Eagles and Falcons meeting in a battle of the birds as Atlanta tries to remain the last undefeated.
Last week, my pick’em picks went 8-5 and my sleepers did relatively well. Click here for the full article previewing week 7. Here’s a quick recap of the sleepers I picked:
Santana Moss-3 catches, 67 yards, 2 touchdowns
Doug Martin-85 yards rushing, 37 yards receiving, 1 touchdown
Heath Miller-53 yards, 6 catches, 1 touchdown
Josh Gordon-2 catches, 59 yards, 1 touchdown
Darrius Heyward-Bey-4 catches, 85 yards
Vikings Defense-2 forced turnovers, 7 sacks, return touchdown, 14 points against
Kenny Britt-4 catches, 30 yards
Devin Hester-3 catches, 38 yards, no return TDs
Jacoby Jones-2 catches, 17 yards
Hopefully this week, my sleeper picks can help you out if you’re looking for a last minute plug and play option or trying to make lineup decisions. Check our full positional rankings each Wednesday to help with overall lineup decisions, Saturday’s injury updates to check on injured players, and in this post each week for sleepers and picks against the spread. Here’s what I see coming this week:
Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears (-7.5)
Pick: The Bears defense is playing great and holding opponents to less than 10 points a game over their last four wins. The only question is if they’ll score enough to cover, and I think Matt Forte will go off against the Panthers suspect run defense as the Bears win easily.
Possible Sleeper: I’d stay away from all the Panthers and any Bear besides the D, Cutler, Forte, and Marshall. If you do find yourself in need of a super-deep wide receiver option, Earl Bennett was targeted six times last week by Cutler who has always had a tendency to throw him the ball. Bennett missed a couple games with a hand injury but could see extra time in the continued absence of Alshon Jeffery. Bennett is a stretch even as a flex play, but could have a decent day if the Panthers focus on Marshall.
San Diego Chargers at Cleveland Browns (+2.5)
Pick: The Browns have been competitive in almost all their losses but are still home dogs to the Chargers. San Diego is coming off a bye after the debacle against Denver. They could easily be 5-1, but enter at 3-3 and trailing the Broncos in their division. They can’t afford to lose this one both in the playoff picture and in the eyes of the public, so I think Norv and the boys figure out a way to get this win coming off a bye. I’ll take San Diego and give the points.
Possible Sleeper: After a rough start, Brandon Weeden has shown quick growth the last few weeks. He’s thrown two touchdowns in each of his last three games and hasn’t thrown for less than 230 yards since his debut against the Eagles. The Chargers secondary has been torched the last two times out by Peyton Manning and Drew Brees for over 300 yards and three touchdowns eperach game. Even Matt Cassell had success against them week 4, so I think Weeden makes a sneaky play as a QB2 and as a last minute option you could do much worse.
Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions (-2.5)
Pick: Seattle has a very good defense and has proven it can be tough on the road. They’re on a long week, while the Lions are on a short week after a loss in Chicago. The Lions defense is banged up and Matthew Stafford has looked fairly ordinary this year, so I think the Seahawks get the win at Ford Field so I’ll take them and the points.
Possible Sleeper: You may need to get used to Ryan Broyles name in the Detroit box score. After Nate Burleson’s leg injury, Broyles is expected to have an expanded role and showed last week he’s up for the task catching three of his four targets for 51 yards and a touchdown. Broyles has a chance to emerge as a second option for the Lions who continue to search for a complement to Calvin Johnson.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Green Bay Packers (-13.5)
Pick: Green Bay has been pummeling opponents behind a reemergent Aaron Rodgers. They may be without their top two wide receivers (Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson), but I still think they can cover against a Jag team that has kept only three of their six games within 14 this year losing by 20 at home to Houston, 17 at home against Cincinnati, and 38 at home to Chicago. The Jags will be without Maurice Jones-Drew so I think the Packers will cover in this one and get the win.
Possible Sleeper: One of the best known sleepers (if there is such a thing) headed into the week is Rashad Jennings. Jennings looks to be a very good play as the Jags turn to him in place of MJD against a Packers defense that has given up 200+ yards on the ground in three of their last four contests. Jennings should finish as a top 20 back this week and can be started in almost any format.
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-3.5)
Pick: The Titans got a nice road win last week in Buffalo while the Colts barely squeaked past the Browns at home. I still think Indy is the pick here getting the FG since this is one where I could easily see the game finishing in overtime. Andrew Luck has the Colts headed in the right direction and aside from a stinker in New York, the Colts have played well. Tennessee is 2-1 at home but they have yet to win a game by more than three points all season.
Possible Sleeper: Javon Ringer is out of the year meaning Jamie Harper is the primary backup and touchdown vulture in the Titans backfield. He’s snagged three touchdowns in the last two weeks on 9 carries for 9 yards. He’s a short yardage back who is useful in touchdown leagues, but doesn’t have the consistency to be much more than a hail mary play… I’d rather play Vick Ballard of the Colts who had 84 yards last week as the primary ball carrier for the Colts. Donald Brown may be back, but Ballard makes a nice flex play if not as he’l again be the main man in the Indianapolis backfield. The Titans are the fifth-worst in average points allowed to opposing running backs, so either Ballard or Brown should have a nice day (I’d take Ballard).
New England Patriots at St. Louis Rams (+6.5)
Pick: New England has struggled especially on defense as of late, but I do think they’ll cover in this one. The Rams rely on running the ball, which the Patriots front seven has been able to stop, but I do think late in the game Sam Bradford and the Rams receivers will be able to put up points. The Pats won’t have an easy time in London, but I do think they’ll manage to cover.
Possible Sleeper: No Rams receiver has been targeted more than Brandon Gibson since Danny Amendola was injured. Gibson hasn’t found the endzone since week 2, but he has been targeted nine and seven times the last two weeks and has caught 12 passes for 151 yards. Last week, Jeremy Kerley lit up the Pats depleted secondary for seven catches and 120 yards, and I think Gibson is in store for a big week week 8. I’d start him as a flex or even a WR2 if bye weeks are forcing you go dig deep.
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (-2.5)
Pick: The Jets took the Pats into overtime last week and will look to sweep the season series after winning in OT in Miami earlier this season. I think Miami will bounce back and get this win on the road behind a quickly maturing Ryan Tannehill. Miami won two in a row going into their bye week and took the Jets and Cards to OT the two weeks before that. This seems like a matchup of teams trending in opposite directions so I’ll go with the Dolphins since they’re the team on the rise.
Possible Sleeper: The Dolphins defense has been solid so don’t expect much from any Jets, but I do really like Anthony Fasano as a sleeper tight end. In his last four games, he’s averaged over four catches on over six targets per game and found the endzone for the second time this year in his last game against the Rams. The Jets have allowed the third most fantasy points to tight ends per game, so Fasano makes a good last-minute option for owners in search of replacements for injured or bye-week tight ends.
Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5)
Pick: The Eagles are 13-0 under Andy Reid after a bye. The Falcons are 6-0 and the last undefeated team in the NFL. One of those records gets shattered this week. I’m taking the Eagles at home to end the Falcons quest for perfection. I think Atlanta has been a bit fortunate beating Oakland by 3, Washington by 7, and Carolina by 2 their last three games. The Eagles have the firepower to score with the Falcons and can definitely get the win if they can cut down on turnovers. They hopefully spent their bye-week working on that, and I think they’ll get the W and hand Atlanta their first L.
Possible Sleeper: Both teams offenses are very well-known, so there’s not much sleeper value on either team.
Washington Redskins at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5)
Pick: RG3 and the Redskins will pose a tough test for a Steelers defense that has shown some wear and tear the last few weeks. Troy Polamalu will miss this game with a calf injury, but on the offensive side center Maurkice Pouncey is expected to return. I’m a believer in Griffin and the new-look Redskins offense and think they can keep this game within a field goal and possibly pull out the win. I’ll take them and the points as they travel to Pittsburgh.
Possible Sleeper: I think all offensive players in this game should put up good numbers in a high-scoring game. If you’re in search of a tight end, the Redskins Logan Paulsen will step in for the injured Fred Davis who was the team’s leading receiver. Pausen caught four passes for 76 yards last week, and will look to build on that outcome against the Steelers who have allowed three touchdowns to TE in seven games so far this year… On the other side, look for another big game from Heath Miller as only the Titans allow more points per game to opposing tight end’s than the Redskins. Miller is a top 5 tight end with Jimmy Graham’s status still up in the air.
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-1.5)
Pick: The Chiefs are starting Brady Quinn. I will gladly take the Raiders.
Possible Sleeper: No team has allowed more points to opposing D/ST units than the Chiefs which bodes well for the Raiders D/ST if you are looking for a waiver wire matchup play. I also like Darrius Heyward-Bey to again have a solid week as he reemerges as the top target for Carson Palmer.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (+1.5)
Pick: The marquee late game is a rematch of the NFC East clash that started the season. The Cowboys won that matchup, and the G-men will be out for revenge as they head to Dallas. Since that opener, the Giants are 4-1 including a big win on the road in San Francisco and last week’s dramatic come-from-behind win against Washington. The Cowboys haven’t had many highlights since that opener with losses at Seattle, at home to Chicago, and at Baltimore. They did beat Tampa at home and Carolina on the road, but I don’t think they’ll be able to get this win. I’ll take Eli and the Giants to continue their winning ways and continue the Romo-coaster inconsistent season.
Possible Sleeper: He’s not a sleeper, but I expect Hakeem Nicks to be back to his WR1 self after his first week of full practices. The other player to watch is Felix Jones who again is expected to be the workhorse in the Dallas backfield and is a nice RB2 or flex option. Both Tight Ends make great plays, but Martellus Bennett is going to have extra motivation playing against his former team. There’s no deep-sleeper in this one since both teams offenses are nationally well-known.
New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos (-6.5)
Pick: The Saints and Broncos will put points on the board to be sure as both offenses rank in the top 4 in passing yards per game and this game has the highest over/under of any game this week. It should be an exciting game, and I think the Saints have a great chance to cover and possibly even pull out the win in a Mile High shootout. Remember, as good as Peyton has been, the Broncos have been far from dominant. In their last game before the bye they needed a furious comeback to beat the Chargers (who self-destructed). Before that game they had lost three of four and only beat Oakland after being tied at halftime. If they take a half off against New Orleans, they’ll get buried so I’ll take the Saints and the points on the road.
Possible Sleeper: Anyone on the field for either passing game will have a good week, but I think one that many overlook is Devery Henderson who has 11 catches and 198 yards in his last two games. He’s a hit-or-miss proposition but could get loose against Denver on Sunday Night Football.
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (+6.5)
Pick: Beware the home ‘dog in this one. I think Arizona has a bounce-back game here and covers. It may look familiar if you watched the Seahawks-49ers game last Thursday night. Low-scoring, defensive-minded, and ultra-conservative is the way this one probably goes. I think San Francisco will probably pull out the win, but I don’t think they’ll cover so I’ll take the Cards at home with that hard-hitting D that got them to 4-0 before dropping their last three.
Possible Sleeper: I wouldn’t recommend anyone against San Francisco’s defense, but Andre Roberts has emerged as a #2 option in the Arizona offense deserving of a roster spot but not a start this week. I don’t expect there to be many points in this one overall, but both Kendall Hunter and Mario Manningham could be used in starting lineups to fill-in for bye weeks if necessary. With Hunter, the question is workload, since he’s performed when called upon but doesn’t always get the call. Manningham is probable after missing last week’s game and was targeted 10 times the game prior to that against the Giants. He’s a risky play, but could pay off against a suspect Arizona secondary which may again be without Kerry Rhodes (back, questionable).