Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman had a breakout game vs New Orleans in week 7, but will he continue to rise among fantasy quarterbacks, or will he plummet back down to mediocrity. (Photo Courtesy: Getty Images)
Bye Week of Death is behind fantasy owners, but the fortunes of some players returning from a week off will be better than others. Here are your Week 8 studs, duds and sleepers.
QB Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: The Bolts should be happy to rely on the run and their defense in Cleveland. But the Browns have yielded close to 300 yards and more than two touchdown passes per game. Rivers is searching for some positives, and he should find a few here.
RB Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos: McGahee should have no problem remaining a top-10 fantasy running back for another week. Players at his position have bowled over the New Orleans Saints for 187 total yards and 1.33 total touchdowns per game.
RB Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders: With only two TDs, 54.0 rushing yards and 27.8 receiving yards per game, "Run DMC" has fallen on hard times. Against the Kansas City Chiefs, however, all running backs (4.8 yards per carry, 169 total yards and one total score a game) are down with the king.
WR Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers: The Washington Redskins have improved their pass defense a little, but they've still allowed more than 16 catches, 224 yards and a touchdown per game to receivers over the last four weeks. Wallace should burn them deep once or twice.
TE Martellus Bennett, New York Giants: Bennett is now past a minor knee injury and he totaled four receptions, 40 yards and a TD against Dallas in the opener. Those numbers are about what players at the position have done per game against the Cowboys, who lost stellar linebacker Sean Lee.
QB Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Freeman (349 yards and 2.33 TDs passing per game in his last three) has been on a roll. The Minnesota Vikings are vicious at home and have notched more than three sacks per game, though. They have held QBs to 240 yards and 1.14 touchdown passes per game.
RB Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots: The St. Louis Rams have been surprisingly tough on running backs (3.7 yards per carry, 72.7 rushing yards per game). That's especially true in St. Louis. Ridley should go three straight without breaking 100.
WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: Megatron has been hit or miss thanks to Matthew Stafford's struggles. The Seattle Seahawks have limited receivers to 11 catches and 131 yards per game. Stopping Johnson will be Priority 1 for them.
QB Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: The Philadelphia Eagles have done some serious changes on defense, and they were already top-five in the fewest fantasy points per game yielded to QBs. They plan to be more aggressive, and their tough corners could present a problem for Ryan's fantasy MVP candidacy.
TE Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers: Someone in this explosive passing offense will end up being left out each week. The disappointing Finley is an obvious choice. The visiting Jacksonville Jaguars will probably be starting a backup passer and a backup running back and won't keep up.
QB Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams: Against New England, this third-year passer should improve his on 227.4 yards and one touchdown pass per game. The Pats have given up 300 yards and 2.29 TD throws per contest to QBs. Russell Wilson threw for 293 and three against them two weeks ago.
WR Cecil Shorts III, Jacksonville Jaguars: Shorts is the Jags' only receiver capable of gaining separation consistently. Backup QB Chad Henne should continue to target the recently minted starter. Receivers have put up 13 catches, 175 yards and one score per game against the Packers.
RB Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts: The Colts should try to limit the mistakes that Andrew Luck has made on the road by running the ball. To running backs, the Tennessee Titans have yielded a modest 4.2 yards per carry but also 186 total yards and more than one total TD per game.
WR Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns: Bomb-catcher Gordon should get a few shots at keeping his TD streak (four in his last three games) alive. His team's D is porous, and he's registered 7.33 targets, 2.33 receptions and 80 yards per contest during his big stretch.
TE Dustin Keller, New York Jets: With Santonio Holmes on IR, a healthy Keller might be Mark Sanchez's most attractive target. He caught seven balls for 93 yards and a score in Week 7. The Miami Dolphins haven't allowed a tight end to score yet, but they've given up five catches and 71 yards a game to the position.
By Nicholas Minnix