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Week 8 fantasy matchups

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Here's a look at key fantasy matchups for Week 8:

Colts at Panthers

Interesting Indy note: Who would have thought the Colts' defense would be ranked higher than their offense this far into the season? The defense is second overall and the offense ranks fourth. Best plays for the Colts this week are QB Peyton Manning, WR Reggie Wayne and RB Joseph Addai -- though Addai owners should be wary of the fact that backup RB Kenton Keith got 17 touches last week. Is it getting to be more of a committee attack? TE Dallas Clark tied an NFL record with a TD catch in five straight games; knowing Manning's sense of history, I think he'll try to get Clark another one this week for the record.

Interesting Carolina note: The Panthers are 4-0 on the road but 0-2 at home this season. I don't think Carolina can pass the ball, so if anything, it's going to be a heavy dose of RBs Deshaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams here. Willams was the main threat in the last game, so we'll see if that continues. In his past three games against the Colts (all when he was with Houston), QB David Carr has thrown for 520 yards with five TDs, zero INTs and a 114.7 rating.

Lions at Bears

Despite the firepower in Detroit's lineup, the Lions rank 23rd overall on offense. Still, I like RB Kevin Jones, QB Jon Kitna and the two top receivers -- Roy Williams first, Calvin Johnson second. Kitna has five TD passes and no INTs in his last two games against the Bears.

For Chicago, the top players in order are WR Bernard Berrian, QB Brian Griese and TE Greg Olsen. Here's an interesting note: From 2000-06, the Bears had three 300-yard passing games. Griese has two straight, averaging 351 yards per game. Chicago has clearly gone from a running to a passing team. Last year, the offense featured a 50-50 mix of run-pass. This season it's 61 percent pass.

Steelers at Bengals

In order for Pittsburgh, I like RB Willie Parker, QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Santonio Holmes. Roethlisberger has a career mark of 8-0 in his native Ohio. Check the status of WR Hines Ward, who returned from injury last year but is still ailing; he wasn't practicing earlier this week. Interesting note: Tight ends for Pittsburgh have combined for seven TDs in six games, while RBs have just four.

 

The Cincinnati trio of QB Carson Palmer, and WRs Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh should do well here. RB Kenny Watson played well last week but it's really, really hard to do anything on the ground vs. Pittsburgh.

Giants vs. Dolphins (at London)

QB Eli Manning has 13 TD passes in seven games this season, and I don't think the long road trip this week will slow down his pace. RB Brandon Jacobs rushed for 100 yards last week but check the injury list as he is banged up. I like RB Derrick Ward better in this game. WR Plaxico Burress is a must-start.

Regardless of the London trip, there's really nobody you can play for Miami now that RB Ronnie Brown is out.

Eagles at Vikings

Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb still doesn't seem like he's back to normal; he's getting better, but he's also throwing high. Still, in his last three against the Vikings, McNabb is 3-0 with seven TDs and zero INTs. WR Kevin Curtis has four TDs and an average of 106 yards in his last four game. RB Brian Westbrook should do well here, but mainly as a receiver out of the backfield since it's hard to run on Minnesota.

Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson remains a must-start despite being slowed a bit by the Cowboys last week. QB Kelly Holcomb has been sacked 10 times in 67 attempts, so you can expect the blitzing Eagles to go after him.

Browns at Rams

Look for Cleveland QB Derek Anderson to continue his productive season here, hooking up with WR Braylon Edwards, who has seven TDs and averages 19 yards per catch, and TE Kellen Winslow, who averages 17.4 yards per catch.

RB Steven Jackson is expected back for St. Louis, and he should be able to make some headway against a Cleveland defense that ranks 32nd overall. The Browns allow 150 rushing yards per game and 413 yards overall. QB Marc Bulger is still struggling; he was sacked seven times and intercepted three times last week.

Raiders at Titans

These teams are very evenly matched statistically, which is odd considering the Titans are 4-2 and the Raiders are 2-4. Oakland RB LaMont Jordan will get the ball here, but I don't think he'll get much in terms of yards. WR Ronald Curry is really the only other player for Oakland.

For Tennessee, I like RB LenDale White to continue his strong play. QB Vince Young will play -- he hasn't looked very good this year but you never know when he is going to break out.

Bills at Jets

Buffalo QB Trent Edwards continues to progress, but keep in mind this is his first career start on the road, and that can be tough on a rookie QB. One thing in his favor is that the Bills finally seem to be feeding the ball to WR Lee Evans, who has a chance to do well here. Rookie RB Marshawn Lynch is becoming a must-start. The Jets rank 22nd or lower in all the major defensive categories.

If you're going to play any Jets, QB Chad Pennington, RB Thomas Jones and WR Laveranues Coles are worth a shot. Don't expect much, though, with the Jets averaging 17 points per game.

Texans at Chargers

QB Sage Rosenfels is worth a shot here, mainly because he'll have to throw against a Chargers defense that is hard to run on. WR Andre Johnson has practiced this week but I still don't think he'll play. WR Kevin Walter has improved over the last four weeks, and is worth a play.

For San Diego, RB LaDainian Tomlinson and TE Antonio Gates are automatics, of course. I also like QB Philip Rivers in this matchup, and I think WR Chris Chambers will make an immediate splash in his San Diego debut.

Jaguars at Buccaneers

Don't expect much scoring in this game from either side. These teams have met three times, and neither team has scored more than 17 points in any of those games. With Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew banged up, though, this could be a game for RB Fred Taylor to shine. With Quinn Gray starting at QB, Taylor should see plenty of action.

Tampa Bay QB Jeff Garcia should be OK, but his line will have a hard time blocking the Jaguars' front. If it can give Garcia time, then WR Joey Galloway has a chance to do well.

Redskins at Patriots

For Washington, I like RB Clinton Portis here and that's about it. TE Chris Cooley has a chance to do something, but nothing great. For what it's worth, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is 0-2 against Washington.

For New England, while the passing game has dominated, it's RB Laurence Maroney who I like big-time in this contest. I think they'll run it a lot. That said, QB Tom Brady and WR Randy Moss are must-starts, and WR Wes Welker is worth a shot as well.

Saints at 49ers

Saints RB Reggie Bush had four TDs (three rushing, one receiving) in a game last year against the 49ers. Backup RB Pierre Thomas is an interesting prospect, and I think he'll get to play some here. He's worth a risk. QB Drew Brees, meanwhile, is a solid start.

RB Frank Gore is the only play for San Francisco, and he's due -- he hasn't done much all season. The 49ers average just 213 yards per game (78 rushing, 125 passing).

Packers at Broncos

Despite the fact that Denver has struggled in run defense, look for QB Brett Favre to continue throwing early and often. That said, with Champ Bailey covering WR Donald Driver, I think WR James Jones will be the No. 1 option. Still, Green Bay will at least try to run the ball more in this game, and I think Brandon Jackson could finally have a decent game; if not, Ryan Grant might get a chance.

For Denver, I like the passing combination of QB Jay Cutler and WR Brandon Marshall. Check the injury status of RB Travis Henry -- who has scored only one rushing TD this year even when healthy.

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