Week 8: Sit 'em
Big Ben has multiple touchdown passes in just three of the Steelers' seven games and is averaging 265 yards per through the air. His offensive line has allowed the fourth-most sacks in the league (20) and will face another stiff test this week in an Indianapolis defense coming off a shutout victory against Cincinnati. The Colts have been very stingy against the pass, with only eight passing TDs allowed through seven games. They are tied with the Lions for third in the NFL with 21 sacks and have surrendered the second-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Colts cornerback Vontae Davis is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season and is currently listed as the league's top CB, according to Pro Football Focus' coverage ratings. He could shadow the Steelers' only legitimate receiving threat, Antonio Brown, limiting the potential for Roethlisberger's favorite weapon.
Amid constant pressure behind a crumbling offensive line, Ryan has been unable to toss more than one touchdown in three consecutive contests. His protection took another hit in Week 7 when center Peter Konz suffered a season-ending knee injury. Ryan is still averaging an impressive 297 yards and about two touchdowns per game, but he will be hard-pressed to match those averages this week when the Falcons travel to London to face a Detroit defense that has stifled opposing offenses. The Lions' defense is allowing just 15 points per game (second-fewest in the league) and has yielded a league-low seven passing touchdowns. Ndamukong Suh and company have registered 21 sacks and will likely leave Ryan wishing he called out sick for the Week 8 overseas business trip.
Ivory posted his best effort of the season in a narrow Week 7 loss to New England as he rushed 21 times for 107 yards with a touchdown. It was first time he had topped 20 carries all season. As an added bonus, he caught four passes for 18 yards, but his PPR appeal remains limited with just 12 catches on the year. His Week 8 meeting with Buffalo's aggressive front four is one to avoid as the Bills' defense is allowing just 3.2 yards per carry. Playing time is also a bit of an issue in the Jets' backfield according to our Snaps Tool, which shows that Ivory has played 50 percent of the offensive snaps in only one contest this season. Head coach Rex Ryan continues to stick to his diet by having Ivory share the running back pie with Chris Johnson, who saw 15 touches in Week 7. The Jets will also be adding another mouth to feed when Percy Harvin enters the lineup this week. Ivory has scored three touchdowns and remains the preferred option in the red zone, but crossing the goal line will be a difficult task versus Buffalo, which has yet to allow a rushing touchdown in its first seven games.
Playing time and deteriorating quarterback play continue to be major concerns for Morris' fantasy stock. Head coach Jay Gruden has reportedly decided that third-string QB Colt McCoy will get the start in Week 8 against Dallas, which is likely a one-week promotion with Robert Griffin IIInearing a return. Morris is averaging a pedestrian 3.8 yards per carry, has yet to top 100 rushing yards in a game this season and continues to be a non-factor in the passing game (five total receptions). Roy Helu has been present for at least 45 percent of the snaps in each game over the past month and remains the preferred option in passing situations, limiting Morris' upside in PPR formats especially. The Cowboys have been installed as more than a touchdown favorite for the Monday night meeting, which could result in limited touches for Morris if Washington is forced into comeback mode in the second half. The matchup isn't too inviting either as Dallas' defense has allowed just three touchdowns and theeighth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs.
Shorts was sidelined for the first two games of the season with a hamstring injury, which was not a surprise considering he has dealt with nagging hamstring issues throughout his four-year career. In four games since returning to the lineup, he has been heavily targeted but has exceeded 35 yards receiving only once (Week 6 against a struggling Tennessee defense). Rookie quarterback Blake Bortles continues to endure growing pains, and the Jacksonville offense as a whole remains a major work in process as it is scoring a league-low 15 points per game. Shorts has been utilized mostly on shorter passes, making him much more of a PPR option, but such usage is debatable this week. Shorts will have to match up against an underrated Dolphins secondary that has allowed the seventh-fewest yards per game to wide receivers and only four touchdowns to the position. Vegas is expecting this game to be one of the lower-scoring contests this week (the over-under has been set at 43 points), which should lead fantasy owners to avoid the fringe starters such as Shorts.
Kelce leads the Chiefs with 31 targets but is averaging barely more than 50 yards per game. Head coach Andy Reid continues to limit the playing time of arguably his best pass-catcher, perhaps due to his blocking struggles. More specifically, Kelce has been on the field for less than 60 percent of the offensive snaps in each of his past three games. He should be considered a somewhat dicey start for a Week 8 matchup with the Rams, who have allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, including just two touchdowns and 23 receptions (tied for third-fewest in the league). Until Kansas City's coaching staff shows more confidence in Kelce, his fantasy owners should consider their alternatives before penciling the part-time player into their lineups.