*Updated WR rankings with analysis for the top 25 will be posted on Friday. Any additional updates that are necessary will be posted no later than Saturday in the final week 8 rankings (2009).
1. Mike Sims-Walker (JAC) – What is not to like about Sims-Walker? In just 4 starts, he is averaging over 100 receiving yards per game with no less than 81 receiving yards in any game this season and he has 3 TD catches. Even better, he gets to face the train wreck otherwise known as the Tennessee Titans pass defense in week 8. The Titans rank dead last in the NFL in passing yards allowed (311 per game), passing TDs allowed (19) and fantasy point given up to opposing receivers. The last time he faced Tennessee in week 4, Sims-Walker hauled in 7 passes for 91 yards and 2 TDs. If anything, the Titans secondary has gotten worse since then and we see no reason why Sims-Walker should not shred them again in week 8.
2. Reggie Wayne (IND) – He continues to light up opposing secondaries on a weekly basis and has now scored a TD in 4 straight games with 5 total on the season. In week 8, Wayne will face a mediocre 49ers pass defense that ranks 21st in the NFL. He should handle the San Francisco secondary with ease. It is worth noting that Wayne has missed two consecutive practices with a groin injury that he suffered late in the first half of last week’s game against St. Louis. The good news is that Wayne was able to return in the 3rd quarter of that game, looking good in the process and our best guess is that the Colts are holding him out of practice as a precaution. He should be fine for week 8 barring any setbacks, but you should monitor his status heading into Sunday just to be on the safe side. Check injury report: groin (probable)
3. Miles Austin (DAL) – We may be a little brash with regard to his lofty ranking this week, but following two starts with top flight results, we have little reason to doubt his capabilities heading into a promising match up against the Seahawks. In week 8, Austin will face a beat up Seattle pass defense that appears to be average at best. While it’s hard to believe that Austin will be able maintain the ridiculous production we have seen from him in his last two games, we wouldn’t put it past him. The match up is favorable and no one is hotter. Austin is a must start fantasy option.
4. Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) – While he will be facing a Carolina pass defense that ranks 1st in the NFL this week, there is little cause for concern with regard to Fitzgerald’s fantasy potential. The Panthers secondary is solid, but they are far from bullet proof and they have yet to face a passing attack with as much juice as the Cardinals. Despite what appears to be a tough match up on paper, do not let it scare you. We feel strongly that Fitzgerald will bounce back with a big week 8. As a side note, Fitzgerald had 15 receptions for 281 yards and a TD in 2 games against the Panthers last season (1 was a divisional playoff game).
5. Marques Colston (NO) – He has been on fire the last 2 weeks since returning from a bye and a week 8 match up against the Falcons appears very promising. Atlanta ranks just 26th in the NFL in pass defense and have allowed 5 passing TDs in their last 2 games. They will be no match for the high powered Saints passing attack on Monday night and Drew Brees should pick this young secondary apart with Colston as the primary beneficiary as usual.
6. Andre Johnson (HOU) – The good news is that Johnson practiced on Thursday and is expected to play in week 8 after suffering a lung contusion in week 7. The bad news is that he will be facing a very good Buffalo pass defense that in spite of numerous injuries has done a tremendous job in slowing down opposing receivers all season. In fact, out of 32 NFL teams, no one has allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing receivers than the Buffalo Bills. That said, they haven’t faced Andre Johnson yet and a struggling Steve Smith (CAR) managed 6 receptions and 99 yards against the Bills just last week. Check injury report: chest (probable)
7. Vincent Jackson (SD) – Following a huge week 7 performance, Jackson now has 561 receiving yards and 4 TDs. In week 8, he will face a familiar Oakland team in which he has had a great deal of success against of late. Jackson has a TD in each of his last 2 games against the silver and black to go along with 204 receiving yards. The Raiders will do their best to contain him with lock down CB Nnamdi Asomugha, but San Diego will move Jackson around as they have done in the past to create mismatches. Jackson should be a solid fantasy play for week 8.
8. Roddy White (ATL) – After a moderately slow start to his 2009 campaign, White has picked up the pace considerably of late and has now scored at least 1 TD in each of the last 3 weeks. His 5 TDs total on the season place White in a tie with several others for 1st in the NFL in that category. In week 8, he will match up against division rival New Orleans. White has an outstanding track record of torching the Saints. In his last 4 contests against them, he has averaged 86 receiving yards and has 3 TD receptions. The New Orleans secondary is much improved over years past, but White is red hot and despite their success, the Saints secondary has been vulnerable against big play receivers this season. The Falcons may also be forced to throw the ball often if they fall behind which bodes well for White’s fantasy production this week.
9. Brandon Marshall (DEN) – Despite lackluster numbers in his last game against a solid Chargers pass defense, Marshall still has 4 TDs in his last 4 games and a week 8 match up against Baltimore is surprisingly favorable. The Ravens secondary has struggled all season and now ranks a disappointing 23rd in the NFL. They have been burned by practically every elite receiver they have faced so far this season and we see no reason why Marshall will break that promising trend. He is a great fantasy play for week 8.
10. Sidney Rice (MIN) – He continues to rack up receiving yards at a torrid pace and if not for a questionable penalty in week 7, Rice would have his 3rd TD of the season. In week 8, he will face a fairly solid Green Bay pass defense on the road. The Packers rank 4th in the NFL in passing yards allowed, but the silver lining is that out of 11 total TDs allowed by their defense, 9 of them have come via the passing game, including 1 TD scored by Rice in week 4. Rice has emerged as the go to guy for Favre and we expect that to continue with positive results in week 8.
11. DeSean Jackson (PHI) – He only had 3 touches in week 7, but he certainly made the most of them totaling 136 yards and 2 TDs against the Redskins on Monday night. While we would like to see him targeted more often for comfort’s sake, you can not argue with his production to this point. The big play receiver should continue to play well in week 8 against a Giants pass defense that has taken a dramatic turn for the worse in the last couple of weeks. Jackson’s versatility in the running and return games are a plus. This isn’t an ideal match up for him, but he has more than enough talent to get the job done and Jackson should be the focal point of the Eagles offense this week, especially if Westbrook sits out as expected. Check injury report: foot (probable)
12. Donald Driver (GB) – He isn’t going to dazzle you most weeks, but his ability to put up quality numbers on a consistent basis make him a solid fantasy option in most match ups. We especially like his week 8 match up against Minnesota. If the Vikings have a glaring weakness on defense, it is in the secondary. The Vikings rank just 20th in the NFL in passing yards allowed in addition to giving up 10 TD passes through the air in 7 games. While Driver was not overwhelmingly productive when he faced this defense in week 4, we like his chances much more this time around at home, especially with the Vikings best CB, Antoine Winfield, sidelined with injury for this match up.
13. Steve Smith (NYG) – After a huge start to his ’09 campaign, Smith is no longer flying under the radar and constant double teams in the last couple of weeks have negatively impacted his fantasy value. In week 8, Smith will face a solid Eagles pass defense that ranks 9th in the NFL, but there is a silver lining here. Philadelphia rarely uses double teams and they are vulnerable to big play receivers having allowed 10 TD’s through the air in just 6 games. In addition, the emergence of Hakeem Nicks as a major threat should help alleviate some of the pressure on Smith. This looks like a tough match up on paper and it will not be a cakewalk in reality, but we still like Smith’s chances to find his way back into the end zone in week 8.
14. Devin Hester (CHI) – While he is still capable of a dud game any given week, Hester is starting to show some indication that he can be a big game receiver on a consistent basis and we like his chances for another solid fantasy effort in week 8. He will face a beat up Cleveland defense that has struggled considerably in recent weeks against the pass. The Browns secondary also loves to give up the deep ball to speedy receivers which is ideal for Hester. Pencil him in as a WR2 for this favorable match up.
15. T.J. Houshmandzadeh (SEA) – Just as things were starting to look up in a big way, Housh fell back into the grasps of mediocrity in what looked to be a very favorable match up in his last game against Arizona. For some reason, QB Matt Hasselbeck always seems to have a hard time against the Cardinals and our hope is that Houshmandzadeh’s poor play in week 6 was more a result of that. Regardless, consistency could be an issue for Housh moving forward and a depleted Seattle offensive line does not help matters in the passing game. That being said, we still like his chances to rebound in week 8 against a suspect Dallas secondary. Only 5 teams in the NFL have allowed more fantasy points to opposing receivers than the Cowboys. He isn’t a sure thing given his roller coaster production to this point, but Houshmandzadeh is plenty capable and the match up is quite favorable. He should be regarded as a WR2 for week 8.
16. Anquan Boldin (ARI) – He will likely continue to be limited to some degree with his high ankle sprain, but it did not slow him down considerably in week 7 and barring a setback, he should be able to play at a reasonably high level this week. He will face a Panthers pass defense that ranks 1st in the NFL, but that ranking is a bit misleading and the Carolina secondary is not bullet proof, especially against a passing attack as potent as the Cardinals. In the one game in which Boldin faced Carolina last season, he totaled 93 yards (30 rushing) and scored 2 TD’s. Check injury report: ankle (probable)
17. Nate Burleson (SEA) – He hasn’t been the most consistent performer so far this season, but his overall numbers are impressive and a week 8 match up against Dallas bodes well. The Cowboys rank just 22nd in the NFL in pass defense and only 5 teams have allowed more fantasy points to opposing receivers than Dallas. While Burleson isn’t a lock given the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the Seahawks passing game so far this season, the potential is there for solid production against a shaky Dallas secondary.
18. Austin Collie (IND) – He has now scored at least 1 TD in each of his last 3 games and Collie has quickly become a red zone favorite for Peyton Manning. In a red hot Colts passing attack that bodes well for Collie continuing his TD streak into a favorable week 8 match up against San Francisco. The 49ers pass defense can be described as mediocre at best and they have given up a significant number of fantasy points to opposing WRs already this season. You should continue to ride the hot hand and keep Collie penciled into fantasy line ups as a WR2 for week 8.
19. Greg Jennings (GB) – It’s probably too soon to give up on him all together, but Jennings’ season is quickly inching towards bust. While he is certainly capable of erupting any given week, the prospects of that happening are growing slimmer. He hasn’t scored a TD since week 1 and Jennings has no more than 64 receiving yards in his last 3 games. Regardless, it probably wouldn’t be a wise move to sit him in week 8. We realize his numbers were very poor the last time he faced Minnesota in week 4, but the circumstances are actually much better for him this time around. For starters, the rematch is being played at home. Secondly, the Packers offensive line is showing improvement which should give Jennings more time to complete his routes. The Vikings pass defense has also taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks which bodes well and most importantly, Jennings will not have to contend with Minnesota’s pro bowl CB Antoine Winfield this time around due to injury. Believe it or not, all of these things can make a significant difference, but the most important factor is Jennings willingness to step up his game and that part leaves room for skepticism.
20. Derrick Mason (BAL) – With the exception of week 5, Mason has played at an extremely high level with no less than 88 receiving yards and a TD in 3 out of his last 4 games. In week 8, he will face a stout Broncos pass defense that has not been very kind to opposing receivers so far this season with regard to fantasy production. That said, Mason will surely be targeted often as Joe Flacco’s favorite option and his strong suit is finding soft spots in the opposition’s coverage. Again, week 5 being the exception due to the bracket coverage the Bengals used to shut Mason down. Denver does not utilize that method of coverage, at least not to this point anyway, and Mason’s style of play actually matches up pretty well against them. That does not mean that he won’t have his work cut out for him as the Broncos secondary is still solid, but Mason should be adequate as a WR2.
21. Braylon Edwards (NYJ) – While his numbers have dwindled significantly over the last 2 weeks due to various reasons, things are looking up for week 8, at least in theory. For starters, Edwards was limited a bit last week with a quad injury which should no longer be an issue. Secondly, the Jets will get Jerricho Cotchery back in the line up this week which should go a long way in taking some of the heat off (double coverage) of Edwards. Most importantly, Edwards will be facing a Dolphin secondary in which he has already proven to be successful against in week 5. As a bonus, the rematch will be played at home in Giants stadium this time around and Miami will be starting two rookie cornerbacks in this match up with veteran Will Allen sidelined for the year (although the 2 rookies in question are pretty good). It isn’t a lock, but all in all, the odds are in Edwards favor to get things headed back in the right direction in week 8.
22. Steve Smith (CAR) – Six games down and still no TD, but there is room for optimism with regard to Smith’s week 8 match up. For one, he is coming off of a decent week 7 performance in which he hauled in 6 passes for 99 yards and secondly, Smith has a very healthy track record against week 8 opponent Arizona. Smith has faced the generous Cardinals pass defense 3 times in the last 2 years (1 playoff game). In those 3 games, he accumulated 296 receiving yards and 4 TDs (scored at least 1 TD in all 3 games). It also doesn’t hurt that the Cardinals rank 29th in the NFL in pass defense and have allowed 10 TDs through the air in 6 games. There are no guarantees, but this week is not unfavorable for him to break the drought.
23. Calvin Johnson (DET) – Normally, a match up against a shaky 25th ranked Rams pass defense would be a virtual lock for Johnson, but his sprained knee is healing slowly and there is no guarantee of big fantasy production. He did practice on Thursday on a limited basis which is somewhat promising and Johnson is probably worth the risk if he plays this week depending on your other options at WR. That being said, Johnson will not be 100% even if he does play and an in game set back is always a possibility with this kind of injury. We will update you with any new developments that may arise. UPDATE: According to reports, Johnson did not seem overly enthusiastic about his chances to play in week 8. He will be a game time decision. Check injury report: knee (questionable)
24. Hakeem Nicks (NYG) – Sure, a lucky break played a huge role in Nicks finding the end zone for the 4th consecutive week against Arizona, but luck counts in fantasy football and there is no denying that Nicks is on a roll. He is still limited a bit splitting time with Mario Manningham, but Nicks is only going to get better as the season progresses. While he will face a Philly pass defense that ranks 9th in the NFL in terms of passing yards allowed, that should not have much effect on him. Like his predecessor, Plaxico Burress, Nicks fantasy value relies heavily on big plays and TDs and the Eagles are actually quite generous in that respect having given up 10 TDs through the air already in just 6 games.
25. Lee Evans (BUF) – Surprisingly, Evans has actually benefited tremendously having Ryan Fitzpatrick under center the last 2 weeks. Following lackluster production in his first 5 games of the season with Trent Edwards, Evans has now scored a TD in each of his last 2 games while racking up 143 receiving yards. He is the obvious go to guy for Fitzpatrick and that trend will likely continue into week 8 against a mediocre Houston pass defense. While Evans is not the safest bet for solid fantasy production, he is on a hot streak and now is the time to use him.
26. Donnie Avery (STL) - Check injury report: shoulder (probable)
27. Steve Breaston (ARI) – Check injury report: knee (probable)
28. Johnny Knox (CHI)
29. Pierre Garcon (IND)
30. Torry Holt (JAC)
31. Percy Harvin (MIN) – Check injury report: flu (probable)
32. Jerricho Cotchery (NYJ) – Check injury report: hamstring (probable)
33. Michael Crabtree (SF)
34. Eddie Royal (DEN)
35. Jeremy Maclin (PHI) – Check injury report: foot (probable)
36. Mario Manningham (NYG) - Check injury report: shoulder (questionable)
37. Nate Washington (TEN) – Check injury report: quad (probable)
38. Devery Henderson (NO)
39. Roy Williams (DAL)
40. Kenny Britt (TEN)
41. Earl Bennett (CHI)
42. Terrell Owens (BUF)
43. Mohamed Massaquoi (CLE)
44. Kevin Walter (HOU)
45. Lance Moore (NO)
46. James Jones (GB)
47. Dennis Northcutt (DET)
48. Brian Hartline (MIA)
49. Josh Morgan (SF)
50. Mike Thomas (JAC)
Additional noteworthy WR’s for week 8 include:
Bernard Berrian (MIN) – Check injury report: hamstring (very questionable)
Danny Amendola (STL)
Patrick Crayton (DAL)
Bryant Johnson (DET)
Robert Meachem (NO)
Justin Gage (TEN)
Ted Ginn (MIA)
Jabar Gaffney (DEN)
Mark Clayton (BAL)
Malcom Floyd (SD)
Kelley Washington (BAL)
Muhsin Muhammad (CAR) – Check injury report: knee (now listed as out for week 8)
Isaac Bruce (SF)
Chris Chambers (SD)
Brandon Stokley (DEN)
Michael Jenkins (ATL)
Josh Cribbs (CLE)
Jacoby Jones (HOU)
Davone Bess (MIA)
David Clowney (NYJ) – Check injury report: ankle (questionable)