Fantasy football: Week 8 starters, benchwarmers

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Wondering whether or not to start Tom Brady and Zeke Elliott, or to bench Justin Forsett and Griff Whalen? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 8 of the 2016 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals at Panthers: Where has the Arizona passing attack gone? Palmer has hit just two TDs (with five INTs) over his last four games, which means he’s in a serious rut. Carolina’s porous pass defense should be exactly what the doctor ordered, as they’ve been giving up yards and TDs in buckets. With John Brown likely back as well, Palmer is in store for a nice rebound, even if he doesn’t get his deep-ball groove back.

Devontae Booker gets the ball from Broncos QB Trevor Siemian during a game Oct. 13. Booker looks like a good bet for starting lineups Sunday in fantasy football.

Devontae Booker, RB, Broncos vs. Chargers: Did you grab the rookie when news broke about C.J. Anderson’s season-ending knee surgery? Good for you. Now put him in your starting lineup and enjoy your new workhorse. San Diego’s run defense is mediocre at best, and it’s especially hospitable to RBs in the red zone.

Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders at Buccaneers: Murray returned from his toe injury with a vengeance in Week 7, putting his rookie counterparts back in their places (in the background). Murray will once again play the leading role against a Bucs run defense that has been imploding in recent weeks.

Ty Montgomery, RB/WR, Packers at Falcons: Aaron Rodgers apparently got his mojo back, which is good news for the entire Green Bay offense. Knile Davis is expected to ease his way into the backfield rotation, but Montgomery will still get some carries and he’ll certainly be heavily targeted in the passing game. The multi-purpose player will be a busy man against the Falcons’ generous defense.

Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings at Bears: When six teams are on bye, you can’t get too picky. And when you’ve got a lead receiver going up against a defense that has surrendered more fantasy points to opposing wideouts than any other, you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I’m not a fan of the Vikings’ passing attack, but Diggs is good enough to get the job done in this matchup.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Derek Carr, Jameis Winston; RBs Matt Forte, Spencer Ware, Devonta Freeman, Melvin Gordon, LeGarrette Blount, Jeremy Hill, Christine Michael, Jacquizz Rodgers; WRs Michael Floyd, Jeremy Maclin, DeAndre Hopkins, Brandon Marshall, Doug Baldwin, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Cole Beasley, Emmanuel Sanders, Brandin Cooks, Michael Crabtree, Jordan Matthews, Amari Cooper, Kelvin Benjamin.

Roll ‘em back

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers at Broncos: Rivers is having one of his best seasons yet, but his worst game this year came against the stingy Denver defense just two weeks ago. His degree of difficulty rises on the road, and with one of his favorite new targets, Hunter Henry, possibly out with a concussion.

Mark Ingram, RB, Saints vs. Seahawks: Ingram has taken a backseat to the Drew Brees aerial show most weeks, regularly posting mediocre stats even in favorable matchups. This week’s opponents are anything but, and the Saints’ offensive line isn’t likely to open many holes for the veteran to run through.

Ryan Mathews, RB, Eagles at Cowboys: Mathews is back in his lead role in Philly’s backfield, but recent fumbling issues have put him on a short leash. Meanwhile, Dallas’ run defense has far exceeded expectations, especially of late. The Cowboys have surrendered just two rushing scores in 2016, and Mathews is unlikely to make it three.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears vs. Vikings: Things are looking up for Jeffery, who has played a secondary role in the Chicago passing attack with Jay Cutler sidelined. With his preferred QB returning, Jeffery should vault back to fantasy relevance. But not on Monday night, when the shutdown Vikings defense comes to town.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins at Bengals: D-Jax is bordering on unrosterable, with guys like Jamison Crowder, Pierre Garcon, Vernon Davis and even Chris Thompson reeling in more passes than him over the last couple of weeks. Cincinnati has been fairly tough on opposing wideouts, which is the last thing Jackson’s owners need.

More thumbs down: QBs Andy Dalton, Matthew Stafford, Tyrod Taylor, Trevor Siemian, Carson Wentz, Jay Cutler; RBs Jordan Howard, LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore, Jonathan Stewart, Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata, Bilal Powell; WRs Will Fuller, Michael Thomas, Will Snead, Travis Benjamin, Mohamed Sanu, Cameron Meredith, Golden Tate, Pierre Garcon.


Chris Thompson, RB, Redskins at Bengals: Matt Jones won’t make the trip across the pond due to an injured knee. But even though Rob Kelley may step into the starting role, Thompson is still in line for a heavy workload as the Redskins’ third-down, change-of-pace tailback. In PPR leagues, Thompson should be particularly valuable against the squeezably soft Cincinnati run defense.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO… fails to plan ahead for the Week 9 byes. Think it’s tough to field a starting lineup this week? Just wait till next weekend, when the Cardinals, Bears, Bengals, Texans, Redskins and Patriots are all idle. Your best move is to make a preemptive one. To wit, I’ve already grabbed Dak Prescott, who’ll be facing the Browns, to cover for the absences of Messrs. Brady and Palmer.

Ladd Biro is a four-time finalist and two-time winner of the Football Writer of the Year Award by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (, on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).

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