The 2014 Fantasy Football campaign is entering Week 8, and Jake Ciely of RotoExperts.com will be providing exclusive fantasy coverage for NewOrleansSaints.com all season. Jake will give you the expert deal on New Orleans Saints players from fantasy perspectives with his in-depth game previews every week.
The Saints return home for a big matchup with the Packers on Sunday. Seeing the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is always good news, as the Saints haven't lost at home since 2012.
Drew Brees had another good game last week against the Detroit Lions with 342 yards, two touchdowns and a 20.98 Fantasy Point total (NFL.com), which was good for eighth in Week 7. Brees now has two touchdowns in five straight games and 340 or more yards in three straight. With Aaron Rodgers and the Packers coming into town, Brees will be passing plenty again, locking him in as a Top Five option for Week 8 with a great shot at the No. 1 spot.
With Mark Ingram back, the running back situation was a bit unclear last week for fantasy purposes, but we now look for Ingram will return to a prime role. Ingram finished with the most carries (10), while Pierre Thomas had six and Khiry Robinson three. Ingram is back to RB3/flex level play with upside for plenty more if he finds the end zone. With Thomas out, Robinson has deeper league value as a RB4. The Saints still get all of their backs in the mix, which gives him some potential. Keep an eye on Travaris Cadet. He's been in for over 90 percent of the Saints pass plays, and with six catches last week, he now has Thomas-like value in PPR leagues.
As has been the case, Marques Colston has big games when Jimmy Graham needs time to recover or is eased back into action. The matchup alone this week locks Colston into high-end WR3 value. Colston, and the other receivers, have a much higher ceiling than a WR3 status, but with so many options, you have to factor in how well the ball is distributed among the pass-catchers. That's why Brandin Cooks is a good WR3 play in PPR formats but more of a WR4 in standard leagues. Cooks has flashed his upside in games against the Falcons, Vikings and Bucs. A matchup with the Packers points to a bigger game, so plug him into your WR3 spot. Kenny Stills proved his big-play ability makes him a threat every week. Consider him a high-upside fill-in if you have receivers on a bye.
There is a chance Graham is used in a situational role like last week, but his potential is just too great to bench him in most cases. You have to start Graham if he starts for the Saints, but if he is used in specific packages or situations, consider him a Top 10 tight end, as opposed to his usual locked-in No. 1 status.
Even with just two games played over the last three weeks, Shayne Graham still ranks as the 12th-best kicker with 22 Fantasy Points. Graham is a sure-fire K1 against the Packers this week. The Saints had back-to-back solid performances thanks to turnovers, but this will be a high-scoring affair and a week to find a replacement.
With all of the focus on DeMarco Murray, Tony Romo is quietly inside the Top 10 for quarterbacks on NFL.com, and he should put up another great game against a Redskins defense allowing the third most FPPG (21.19) to quarterbacks. In three games, Carson Palmer is averaging 18.29 FPPG. As long as he's healthy, Palmer brings QB1 potential, and should be in your lineup this week with a matchup against an Eagles defense allowing 19.86 FPPG to QBs. If you have Colin Kaepernick or Eli Manning on a bye, Ryan Tannehill is an upside replacement with two-plus touchdowns and an average of 44 rushing yards over the past three games.
Ben Tate will bounce back this week, as the Raiders' defense is allowing the second-most FPPG to running backs on NFL.com at 24.68. Justin Forsett continues to put up great numbers, and he is now eighth on the year with 80.10 FP. Expect him to keep it going against a Bengals defense ranked in the top half for FPPG allowed. Denard Robinson, Tre Mason, Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon are all hot pickups this week. D-Rob has the clearest path and is worth a flex start. The rest are worth grabbing as well, but it may be better to wait a week to see how the backfields shake out for them.
Don't forget that the Lions-Falcons game kicks off at 8:30 am CT, and get Golden Tate in your lineup. Even if Calvin Johnson plays, Tate has proven that he is a must-start, evidenced by his Top 10 status on NFL.com. If you didn't grab Doug Baldwin yet (after the Percy Harvin trade) hurry up and do so. Not only did he post a 123-yard one-touchdown line against the Rams, he now faces a Panthers defense allowing the fourth-most FPPG to receivers (27.43). Kendall Wright rewarded patient owners last week and should post another good line against the Texans (26.07 per). The same goes for Sammy Watkins after his 122-yard two-touchdown effort, as he too has a good matchup against the Jets defense.
Owen Daniels has become a TE1 in place of Dennis Pitta, and look for that to continue against a Bengals defense allowing 14.15 FPPG, most in the league. Jordan Reed has been great since his return, and he gets the benefit of facing the Cowboys defense. Clay Harbor has been a Top 10 tight end over the last four weeks. He can be a nice replacement for needy owners.
The Jaguars give up the most Fantasy Points to opposing defenses at 12.71 per game on NFL.com. That fact, coupled with the Dolphins ranking 11th on the season already, makes Miami a great DST option this week. The Bills continue to frustrate most opposing offenses, ranking fifth on the year and having a nice matchup against the Jets. With Phil Dawson on a bye, Cody Parkey makes for a great replacement. Kicking for the Eagles high-octane offense, Parkey is the seventh-best kicker on NFL.com, even with a bye week under his belt.