Johnson a solid start in Week 8; Barber remains a must-start RB

Which two running backs should I start from Marion Barber, Chris Johnson and Steve Slaton? -- C. Culpepper, Raleigh, N.C.

Michael Fabiano: Despite the absence of Tony Romo, Barber is still a must-start running back in all fantasy formats. He proved that point last week against the Rams, rushing for 100 yards and one touchdown. I'd also start Johnson, who has one of the best matchups of the weekend. He faces a Colts defense that's 28th against the run and has allowed an average of almost 157 rushing YPG at home. I do like Slaton's matchup against the Bengals as well, but I'd still side with Barber and Johnson in Week 8.

2008 statistics:
Comp: 119

Att: 183

Yards: 1,343

TDs/INTs: 7/7

Should I start Trent Edwards or Matt Schaub? They both have good matchups this week. -- P. Wolf, Denver, Colo.

M.F.: Edwards is a viable fantasy starter this week in Miami, but Schaub is the better option between these two quarterbacks. He's been one of the hottest players in fantasy football, and this week's matchup against Cincinnati is a favorable one. The Bengals have allowed an average of 25.0 PPG on the road and six passing touchdowns in the past three weeks. I like Schaub so much that I'd even start him ahead of Peyton Manning, who has a tough matchup on the road against the Tennessee Titans.

Which quarterback should I start from Matt Cassel, Jeff Garcia and Matt Ryan? -- A. Bao, Canada

M.F.: Cassel did have a solid performance on Monday night, throwing for 185 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Denver. The Broncos field one of the league's worst defenses, however, so I still don't trust Cassel to produce solid numbers on a consistent basis. Another reason to avoid Cassel is the weather. There's a 70 percent chance of rain at Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Ryan has a tough matchup against the Eagles on the road, so that makes me side with Garcia. Much like Cassel, Garcia also found success last week. Furthermmore, the veteran quarterback has a tremendous matchup against a Dallas team with a patchwork defensive backfield. CBs Terence Newman and Adam Jones and SS Roy Williams are all out, so Garcia should post another nice stat line.

Should I start Drew Brees or Philip Rivers? Also, should I start Earnest Graham and Steve Slaton? -- O. Ramirez, College Station, Texas

M.F.: First off, you should deal one of these two quarterbacks to improve a weaker part of your team. Why have one of these two superstars on the bench every week? Second, I like Brees against his former team, the Chargers, and their 32nd-ranked pass defense. However, keep in mind that the weather in London could be a little tough on the passing games of both the Saints and Chargers. The current forecast is for light rain and wind, so neither Brees nor Rivers is a safe bet if the weather becomes problematic.

As for your second question, Slaton has a great matchup against the Bengals and should start ahead of Graham.

I need to start two running backs from Deuce McAllister, Dominic Rhodes, Michael Turner and Brian Westbrook. Help! -- D. McLaughlan, New Zealand

M.F.: Westbrook put in a full practice on Wednesday and appears to be on track to start against the Falcons. Barring setbacks, he's a must-start runner across the board. I'm not sure I'd expect much from Turner, who faces an Eagles defense that's ranked ninth against the run (90.7 rushing YPG at home). But I think his value is so much greater than either McAllister and Rhodes that you still have to start Turner the Burner in this battle of the birds.

I have been offered Maurice Jones-Drew for Matt Forte. I'm pretty loaded at running back with Marion Barber, Thomas Jones and Deuce McAllister also on my roster. What are your thoughts on this trade? -- R. Bednarz, San Diego, Calif.

M.F.: I don't like it. Jones-Drew is capable of putting up good numbers on any given Sunday, but he's still sharing carries with Fred Taylor in Jacksonville. Forte, who reminds me a lot of Brian Westbrook, is a featured back in Chicago during an era when backfield committees have become the norm. Even when Forte doesn't post huge numbers, he still records enough catches and scrimmage yards that he won't kill your chances of a win. Again, Jones-Drew is a nice option, but I'd hold onto Forte and pass on the deal.

Hi Michael, love the work -- keep it up! Which two wide receivers should I start from Marques Colston, Braylon Edwards and Roddy White? - T. Kovanis, Tampa, Fla.

M.F.: Based on the matchups, Colston and Edwards are the two best options. But can you afford to sit White? Believe it or not, he's in the top five in fantasy points among wide receivers on That makes him a must-start in my eyes, regardless of the opponent. If the weather in London isn't terrible, I'd go with Colston against the Chargers' vulnerable pass defense. Otherwise, start Edwards alongside White.

Is it time to bench Peyton Manning? He's really failed me this season. Should I be starting Kurt Warner ahead of him? -- K. Foster, Tigard, Ore.

M.F.: Neither of these quarterbacks has a great matchup, and neither is playing at home this week. Because both Manning and Warner have similar value, the tiebreaker for me is consistent production. Since Warner has been a far more reliable (and productive) option this season, I'd give him the start and put Peyton on the fantasy pine.

Which running back do I sit this week: Steven Jackson, Marshawn Lynch or Michael Turner? -- J. Gillespie, Orlando, Fla.

M.F.: I suggested starting Turner earlier in this column, but I'd bench him in this situation. Jackson is coming off a monster performance against the Cowboys, and it appears he'll start against the Patriots despite a slightly strained quadriceps. Barring setbacks, Jackson is a must-start runner in most formats. I also like Lynch against the Dolphins ahead of Turner, who faces the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.

Should I start Jason Campbell or J.T. O'Sullivan? They both have great matchups. I want to side with Campbell, but I can't stop thinking that O'Sullivan is going to put up a great stat line against Seattle. Advise? -- Z. Campbell, St. Louis, Mo.

M.F.: O'Sullivan does have a great matchup against a shaky Seahawks defense, but I'd still side with Campbell. He has a pretty solid matchup as well, facing a Lions defense that ranks 31st in the league against the pass.

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