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September 25, 2008

Fantasy Football Week 8 Wide Receiver Rankings

1. Steve Smith (CAR) – He is officially back and can once again be considered as a top flight fantasy option. Smith has been extremely productive and consistent in recent weeks, topping his previous game’s production each and every week. In his last 4 games, he is averaging 6 receptions with 107 receiving yards. He also has 2 TD’s during that stretch including a score in week 7. Week 8 looks to be Smith’s most promising match up to date. He will face a struggling Arizona secondary that allows 2 receiving TD’s per game on average. Smith is capable of monster numbers with this match up. He had 10 receptions for 136 yards and a TD in his only game against the Cardinals last season.

2. Andre Johnson (HOU) – The average game for Johnson over the last 3 weeks consists of 10 receptions and 150 receiving yards. He also has 2 TD’s during that stretch and is currently the hottest WR in the NFL. Johnson could be challenged a bit this week by a solid Bengals pass defense that will likely double team him. The good news is that Indianapolis, who is even better against the pass than Cincinnati, couldn’t even come close to containing Johnson in their attempt to double him back in week 5. Johnson is an obvious must start for fantasy this week and every week.

3. Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) – He will have a difficult match up this week against Carolina’s 2nd ranked pass defense, but as he has proven in the past, there isn’t a secondary on earth that can really contain him. Fitzgerald could lose a little fantasy value with the emergence of Steve Breaston and the likely return of Anquan Boldin, but it shouldn’t be much, and he is still the go to guy in the Cardinal’s pass heavy attack. He ranks in the top 10 in practically every statistical category imaginable for a WR and remains a must start fantasy option in spite of a tough match up. Fitzgerald caught 6 balls for 97 yards in a 2007 meeting with the Panthers.

4. Lee Evans (BUF) – He is finally returning to the form that made him one of the top fantasy WR’s in the game in 2006. Evans has been able to find pay dirt in each of his last 3 contests while averaging 92 receiving yards in the process. He should be able to shred a shaky Miami secondary in week 8. The Dolphins currently rank 27th against the pass and have allowed 9 TD’s in 6 games through the air. Evans hauled in 2 TD passes in his last game against Miami in 2007, and he was struggling heading into that game. Evans comes into this year’s match up with a full head of steam, so anything less than a huge performance would be disappointing.

5. Santana Moss (WAS) – After a nice week 7 performance against a tough Cleveland secondary, Moss seems to be back on track, and week 8 holds monster potential. Moss will face a Detroit pass defense that currently ranks 31st. The Lions have been torched by opposing WR’s on a weekly basis this season allowing 11 receiving TD’s in just 6 games. Moss should feed off of last week’s momentum and come through with a big fantasy day for you with this extremely favorable match up.

6. Randy Moss (NE) – The good news is that Moss looked like Moss in week 7 after posting 69 receiving yards and 2 TD’s. The bad news is that Moss didn’t look like Moss until Denver CB Champ Bailey left the game with an injury. Bailey shut him down for most of the first half as many CB’s have done throughout the season. The bottom line is that Moss is going to be a match up WR as long as Matt Cassel is at QB. When the match up is favorable, you can probably expect Moss to be productive and vice versa. Fortunately, Moss has a favorable week 8 match up against St. Louis. The Rams pass defense is slowly improving, but they are still shaky at best, and should have difficulty containing Moss, even with Cassel throwing him the football.

7. Plaxico Burress (NYG) – He has been able to find the end zone for 2 consecutive weeks now, but Burress has been fairly quiet otherwise averaging 3 receptions and 41 yards per game during that stretch. He will have to face Pittsburgh’s top ranked pass defense this week and he is battling shoulder and neck injuries. Burress will probably give a little extra against his former team, and he is always a TD threat, but keep your expectations realistic under the circumstances. UPDATE: Fox sports reports that there is a good chance that Burress will not start in week 8 against Pittsburgh. There is also a chance that he will miss the game entirely. Check injury report: ankle

8. Reggie Wayne (IND) – While Wayne is always a must start fantasy option, you probably shouldn’t expect a big week 8 performance. Wayne is coming off of his worst fantasy performance in years with only 2 catches for 24 yards against Green Bay. Also, you have to take into account a difficult week 8 match up against Tennessee. The Titans currently rank 5th in the NFL against the pass and have only allowed 1 TD through the air all season. In addition, Wayne has been good against the Titans in the past, but not great, and Tennessee’s shut down CB Cortland Finnegan will likely give him trouble. Wayne doesn’t have a lot going in his favor heading into Monday night’s showdown, but you can always count on him seeing plenty of targets, and he has the talent to make big plays against anyone.

9. Roddy White (ATL) – In his last 4 games, White is averaging 113 receiving yards per game with 3 total TD’s. He will likely have a tough row to hoe in week 8 against a stingy Eagles pass defense, but he has overcome poor odds on several occasions already this season, and we like his chances again this week. Falcons QB Matt Ryan should target White early and often as usual, and he should have plenty of opportunities to make plays. White is a must start fantasy option for week 8 in spite of a tough match up.

10. Braylon Edwards (CLE) – While Edwards continues to be plagued by a severe case of butterfingers, we still like his chances in week 8. Jacksonville has really struggled to contain WR’s this season and has allowed 11 TD’s through the air in just 6 games. We are probably going out on a limb here, but this match up has potential written all over it. Start him!

11. Laveranues Coles (NYJ) –After suffering a concussion in last week’s game, he is listed as questionable, but expected to play in week 8 against Kansas City. If Coles is given the green light to play, we like his chances for a strong fantasy effort. While the Jets will probably lean more toward the run this week against a horrible Chiefs run defense, their pass happy nature should provide Coles with ample opportunity to make some big plays as Favre’s go to WR. You should monitor his status closely heading into Sunday. Check injury report: concussion/thigh

12. Wes Welker (NE) – As we have stated many times in the past, Welker is not a big time flashy WR that is going to go over 100 yards with multiple TD’s every week or any week for that matter, but you can always count on him to give you solid fantasy production week in and week out. In a tough week for fantasy WR’s, having Welker on your roster should be comforting, especially with a favorable match up against St. Louis. He should be targeted early and often as usual.

13. Hines Ward (PIT) – He has quietly been one of the more productive and consistent fantasy options this season, and his 5 TD receptions tie him for the top spot in the NFL in that category. Ward will have a tough match up in week 8 against the Giants 11th ranked pass defense, but he always manages to get plenty of looks, even in the most difficult of match ups. Ward is a pretty safe bet for yet another solid performance in week 8. UPDATE: With Santonio Holmes inactive this week, Ward should be heavily relied upon in the Steelers passing game.

14. Calvin Johnson (DET) – He has come up big in the last 2 games with 239 receiving yards and 2 TD’s on just 6 receptions. On one hand, that is an extremely impressive feat, but the low reception total is also cause for concern. While Johnson is capable of making big plays any week against any opponent, it is hard to expect that from him every game under the current circumstances. It’s not that Johnson is over hyped, because we believe that he is every bit as good as advertised, but the fact that he plays for the lowly Lions with a mediocre back up QB scares us with regard to his fantasy potential in certain match ups. A week 8 match up against Washington is one of those match ups. The Redskins are solid against the pass and Johnson can expect double teams galore. That said, he is a stud that will be heavily targeted, and you probably can’t afford to sit him.

15. T.J. Houshmandzadeh (CIN) – It is pretty difficult to get excited about him with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB for the Bengals, but there are signs of improvement, and Housh is still producing respectable totals. Even with Fitzpatrick, we think it is only a matter of time before Houshmandzadeh gets back into the end zone, and week 8 looks promising for that to happen. He will face a Texans pass defense that has allowed 9 passing TD’s in 6 games. At the very least, you can expect a solid reception total. Houshmandzadeh ranks 2nd in the NFL with 46 receptions. Check injury report: ankle

16. Terrell Owens (DAL) – In spite of Owens phenomenal abilities as a WR, it probably isn’t out of line to call him a risky fantasy option at this point. Owens is capable of a monster performance any week, but without Romo at QB, the chances of that happening go way down. He has a so so match up in week 8 against Tampa Bay. The Bucs have been solid against the pass this season for the most part, but they have also been vulnerable to giving up big plays at times and big plays are Owens strong suit. He is somewhat of a liability for week 8, but the bigger risk would be to bench him. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

17. Antonio Bryant (TB) – He was impressive in week 7 with 115 yards receiving and a TD, but keep in mind that he was held to just 1 catch for 13 yards in week 6. While Bryant is probably going to be a hit or miss fantasy prospect depending on the match up, last week was a good indication that he finally has Jeff Garcia’s attention moving forward. In addition, he has a promising week 8 match up against a makeshift Dallas secondary. Bryant should be a quality fantasy option for week 8, but don’t expect him to light it up every week, especially when Joey Galloway gets back to full strength.

18. Vincent Jackson (SD) – He has been excellent with the absence of Chris Chambers the last 2 weeks, and that trend should continue into week 8. Chambers is expected to be out once again which means that Jackson is in line for plenty of looks. With Jackson’s big play ability, the New Orleans pass defense is an excellent match up for him. The Saints secondary has allowed more pass plays over 20 yards (24) than any other team in the NFL. Jackson should have another solid performance in week 8.

19. DeSean Jackson (PHI) – With the return of Kevin Curtis and possibly Reggie Brown this week, Jackson will probably see his number of touches go down a bit. That said, Jackson will continue to start and could actually benefit from having Brown and Curtis in the line up to take the heat off of him. After all, Jackson’s most appealing quality is his ability to make big plays, and if Curtis’ and Browns’ return has any effect on that, it will likely be a positive one. Jackson has a favorable week 8 match up against Atlanta’s 26th ranked pass defense.

20. Marques Colston (NO) – We didn’t expect Colston to have a monster game right out of the box last week, but we were shocked to see him get shut out completely. Hopefully, he was able to knock off enough rust in week 7 to make a solid contribution in week 8. The match up is certainly right to do just that against a San Diego pass defense that currently ranks dead last in the NFL. Colston should get things going with such a favorable match up, but it is going to take more than a week for him to get completely back to form.

21. Anquan Boldin (ARI) – He is expected to return in week 8, but before you start doing cartwheels, there are some issues that you need to take into account. For one, he has reportedly lost a lot of weight which may or may not affect him. In addition, Boldin will probably be a bit rusty, and we would be surprised if he played a full game on Sunday. The Cardinals will likely ease him back in slowly. That said, we all know what he is capable of and even though a match up against Carolina isn’t great, Boldin is probably worth the risk for week 8 depending on your other options. Check injury report: sinus/head

22. Dwayne Bowe (KC) – He is a little shaky this week with Tyler Thigpen at QB for the Chiefs, but he always seems to get his touches. In fact, half of Bowe’s 2 TD total this season came off the arm of Thigpen. In addition, Bowe has a nice match up against the Jets 24th ranked pass defense. He should find some holes in their shaky secondary, and we expect solid production from him as usual.

23. Jerricho Cotchery (NYJ) – He is listed as questionable with a bum shoulder this week, and he will likely be a game time decision. If he is able to play, Cotchery should provide fantasy owners with solid production. While Brett Favre has turned his attention more to Laveranues Coles lately, Cotchery still gets a fair share of looks and could easily steal back the “Favre’s favorite” label at any moment. The Jets are expected to run more than pass this week against a horrible Chiefs run defense, but Cotchery should get enough looks to do some damage if healthy. UPDATE: Active for week 8 and expected to play. Check injury report: shoulder

24. Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson (CIN) – You would think that Johnson’s fantasy value would suffer without Carson Palmer under center, but he has actually been much more productive and consistent with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB. Johnson will face a middle of the road Houston pass defense in week 8. While Johnson is no longer a fantasy stud by any stretch of the imagination, he is probably worth using in a tough week for fantasy WR’s. It doesn’t hurt that he scored a TD last week and appears to be a red zone favorite for Fitzpatrick.

25. Lance Moore (NO) – He can probably best be described as a hit or miss fantasy prospect at this point, but when he hits, it’s usually in a big way. That said, a week 8 match up against San Diego is about as favorable as you can get. The Chargers currently rank dead last in pass defense and they have allowed 11 TD’s through the air this season. Moore is a risk for fantasy rosters with the Saints crowded WR corps, but if you are willing to gamble a bit, it could pay off in a huge way.

26. Derrick Mason (BAL) – He has built a solid rapport with rookie QB Joe Flacco, and as Flacco continues to improve, so do Mason’s numbers. Mason should see plenty of targets in a favorable week 8 match up against a mediocre Oakland pass defense. Mason is a legitimate WR3 with a bullet for most fantasy rosters. He has been fighting an illness this week, but he practiced on Friday, so he should play. You should continue to monitor his status just to be on the safe side. Check injury report: illness

27. Muhsin Muhammad (CAR) – He has been pretty average over the last couple of weeks, but Muhammad is always a threat for a breakout game. While a big game is possible against a shaky Arizona secondary this week, you shouldn’t count on it as Steve Smith is more likely to torch the Cards than Muhammad. The Cardinals have allowed 12 TD’s through the air in 6 games, so Muhammad is a candidate to find the end zone in week 8.

28. Isaac Bruce (SF) – With the emergence of Josh Morgan at WR for the Niners last week, Bruce may J.T. O’Sullivan’s second option moving forward. It was only one game, but Morgan received twice as many looks in week 7. The good news is that San Francisco will face Seattle in week 8 and there should be plenty to go around for both wide outs. The Seahawks currently rank 29th against the pass and have allowed 10 passing TD’s in 6 games. Bruce had 153 receiving yards against Seattle in week 2 and he has a rich history against them overall.

29. Josh Morgan (SF) – He is a bit of a long shot for week 8, but we have been high on this guy since the pre season, and his potential is huge. We have been waiting on him to get a shot to play and it finally came in week 7 with promising results. He hauled in 5 passes for 86 yards and a TD against a very good Giants secondary. He is expected to get his first start of the season in week 8, and a match up against Seattle’s 29th ranked pass defense is extremely favorable. If Morgan is targeted as much this week as he was in week 7, he could put up monster numbers. He still has a lot to prove, but he is our sleeper of the week. Check injury report: groin (probable)

30. Matt Jones (JAX) – Contrary to previous reports, Jones has not officially been suspended yet, and he will be available for week 8. This is good news for the Jaguars and fantasy owners alike as Jones should be David Garrard’s go to target this week with Mike Walker sidelined with a knee injury. Jones doesn’t have the best match up against a solid Brown’s secondary, but they are short on quality weapons in the receiving game. Jones should see plenty of targets, and he is playing the best football of his career this season.

31. Nate Washington (PIT) – In his last 2 games, Washington has 151 receiving yards and 2 TD’s, and that was coming of the bench. With Santonio Holmes inactive on Sunday, Washington will get his first start of the season. He doesn’t have a great match up against the Giants, but he is a very underrated WR with big play ability. You probably won’t regret sneaking Washington onto your starting fantasy line up in week 8.

32. Donnie Avery (STL) – He is really starting to emerge as a legitimate week to week fantasy option. With opposing secondaries zoned in on Torry Holt, the speedy rookie is starting to benefit with his big play ability. Avery now has 128 receiving yards and a TD in his last 2 games and if not for a poor officiating call, he would have 2 TD’s. He should continue to get better every week, and we like his chances again in week 8 against a middle of the road New England secondary.

33. Antwaan Randle El (WAS) – We typically don’t recommend him as anything more than a flex play or bye week fill in most weeks, but Randle El could be in for a big week 8. He has an excellent match up against a horrible Detroit secondary that currently ranks 31st in the NFL against the pass. While Randle El is not usually a threat to find the end zone, we actually like his chances with this match up. The Lions have given up 11 passing TD’s in just 6 games this season. In addition, he caught 7 passes for 100 yards against Detroit in a 2007 match up. Randle El is a pretty solid play as a WR3 for week 8.

34. Marvin Harrison (IND) – He will likely have his hands full on Monday Night against a very good Titans secondary, but as we learned in week 6, you can never count him out in any match up. While Harrison may not be the consistent big time fantasy option of yester year, he still has the potential to torch any defense any week. He has a very rich history against Tennessee which bodes well, but the Titans have never been this good in the past, and Harrison has never been this inconsistent.

35. Kevin Curtis (PHI) – He is expected to return this week from a pre season hernia. We do like his chances against a mediocre Falcons secondary, but there is a lot of rust that is going to need to be knocked off after not playing in a real game since last season. Curtis is a risky, but very capable WR3 for week 8.

36. Malcom Floyd (SD) – With Chris Chambers and Craig Davis both sidelined with injuries, Floyd has been one of the best kept secrets in fantasy football. In his last 2 games, he has 140 receiving yards and 2 TD’s. The good news is that Chambers and Davis are both expected to be out again in week 8. The match up against the Saints is excellent, and we see no reason why Floyd can’t do it again. Use him while you can because when the other guys get healthy, Floyd will need to go back to the waiver wire.

37. Torry Holt (STL) – It may be more appropriate to call the man formerly known as “Big Game” Torry Holt, “Mediocre Game” Torry Holt based on his play this season. He has had a couple of moments, but he is certainly not the player he once was. Holt should continue to see plenty of targets in week 8 against a shaky Patriots pass defense, but he has struggled on the road this season, and you should not expect anything huge from him. Until he can start to produce better numbers, Holt can be considered a WR3 at best moving forward.

38. Steve Breaston (ARI) – Breaston has been a monster filling in for the injured Anquan Boldin, but Boldin is back this week, and the match up is not exactly favorable. He should still be in line for a decent number of targets with Boldin expected to play a limited number of snaps, but Carolina’s 2nd ranked pass defense will be a challenge for him. While Breaston is worth starting as a WR3 or flex in week 8, do not expect the kind of production you saw from him over the last 3 games.

39. Greg Camarillo (MIA) – He probably isn’t going to give you overwhelming production in week 8 against a stingy Bills secondary, but he is a lock for solid production. As we say every week, if you like solid consistency in your fantasy WR’s (especially in PPR leagues), Camarillo is your guy.

40. Devery Henderson (NO) – While his reception totals are nothing to get excited about, Henderson has been fairly consistent in recent weeks in putting up quality yardage totals. With his big play potential and a great match up against San Diego, Henderson has a good chance to continue that trend. Unfortunately, he is equally capable of getting you nothing. Henderson is a high risk- high reward option for week 8.

41. Anthony Gonzalez (IND) – You can never be sure what he will give you and that is the case again in week 8. While a match up against the Titans is going to be tough, Gonzalez could actually benefit as the Colts #3 WR. If Tennessee focuses most of their attention on Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison (and they will), that could open the door for Gonzalez. That said, he is not consistent enough to be considered as anything more than a risky WR3 for week 8.

42. Mike Furrey (DET) – The match up isn’t great against a solid Redskins pass defense, but Furrey should benefit from Calvin Johnson double teams.

43. Roy Williams (DAL) – The potential is there, but Williams was shut out last week, and you shouldn’t trust him until he can make an impact in the Cowboys passing game. He is a very risky start against Tampa Bay in week 8.

44. Kevin Walter (HOU) – Walter is too inconsistent to be trusted as a week to week fantasy option, but he can be a pleasant surprise any week as a filler.

45. Steve Smith (NYG) – He is starting to see more and more targets coming his way, but he is not a safe fantasy option for week 8 against a great Steelers secondary.

46. Justin Gage (TEN) – He is expected to play on Monday night, but the match up will be difficult, and Gage will probably be rusty. Check injury report: knee

47. Harry Douglas (ATL) – We aren’t high on the match up against the Eagles in week 8, but Douglas is definitely a guy to have on your radar.

48. Chansi Stuckey (NYJ) – He could be useful again in week 8 with Coles and Cotchery both a little banged up.

49. Donte’ Stallworth (CLE) – He’s had 2 weeks to show us something and nothing yet, but we like the match up against Jacksonville in week 8.

50. Javon Walker (OAK) – Week 7 was promising, but he is going to have to do that on a consistent basis to get any real fantasy consideration. Walker makes for a desperate week 8 fantasy start against a very potent Ravens pass defense.

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