Week 8 of the NFL season will require some shrewd lineup choices with the Cardinals, Packers, Jaguars, Rams, Giants and Titans on bye. The Fanball format calls for a QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, TE, FLEX WR/TE, FLEX RB/WR/TE, D/ST lineup with a $55,000 salary cap. The players below can fit into lineups regardless of strategy, as they all offer strong value relative to price.
Carson Wentz, PHI vs. SF ($7,400): It's not too late to hop aboard the Wentz hype train. The second-year signal-caller leads the league with 17 touchdown passes after throwing four against the Redskins last week and should pile on a few more against a 49ers defense that's allowing the eighth-most passing yards (258.6) and the third-most points per game (26.6). While Philadelphia's multitude of receiving options and trio of running backs likely will cut into each other's value in this favorable matchup, Wentz will benefit from all of those weapons in the passing game and has been an underrated rushing contributor with two performances of more than 50 yards this season.
Philip Rivers, LAC at NE ($6,900): Rivers will throw early and often against a Patriots defense that's allowing a league-high 310.3 passing yards per game. While the Chargers like to feature running back Melvin Gordon in close, Rivers has still compiled an 8:1 touchdown to interception ratio in his last four games to raise his season ratio to 12:5. The veteran quarterback's expected combination of volume and effectiveness in this matchup is tremendous for a guy not priced in the top tier.
Joe Mixon, CIN vs. IND ($6,400): Mixon was unhappy after getting a career-low seven carries last week despite averaging a career-high 6.9 yards per attempt against the Steelers, but Cincinnati's lead back should be much more involved against a Colts defense that allows 124.7 rushing yards per game and a league-high 31.7 points per game. While the rookie second-rounder has only found paydirt once, he's likely to benefit from the perfect storm of matchup and gameplan adjustment. With at least three catches in four of six games this season, Mixon's also a factor in the passing game.
Mark Ingram, NO vs. CHI ($7,100): Ingram's excelled since New Orleans traded Adrian Peterson, rushing for more than 100 yards in consecutive games while scoring three touchdowns in that stretch. Chicago's awful offensive output since Mitch Trubisky took over under center will make it difficult for the Bears to keep up with the explosive Saints offense in New Orleans, so Ingram should once again see a heavy dose of work on the ground after getting a combined 47 carries the last two weeks. Ingram also has nine catches over that span, buffing his value in Fanball's PPR format.
Duke Johnson, CLE vs. MIN ($5,000): Gameflow calls for Johnson's services often, as the winless Browns tend to fall behind early and use their receiving back over power runner Isaiah Crowell. Johnson's caught 27 balls and rushed 24 times for a combined 357 yards and three touchdowns the last five weeks and likely will see an uptick in receptions this week with Minnesota's tremendous secondary likely to force many checkdowns. At this price, Johnson's receiving volume gives him an excellent floor.
Kelvin Benjamin, CAR at TB ($6,700): Benjamin hasn't been bothered by Cam Newton's struggles the last two weeks, hauling in a combined 12 catches for 164 yards. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound receiver is still sitting on one touchdown this season after scoring 16 in his first two NFL campaigns, but his red-zone prowess could well return against a Buccaneers defense that lacks the personnel to contain Benjamin in any area of the field. Tampa Bay's pass defense ranks 30th with 294.8 yards allowed per game, so Newton's top wide receiver should find downfield success even if the quarterback's erratic once again.
Mohamed Sanu, ATL at NYJ ($4,300): Sanu looked solid in his return from a hamstring injury with six catches for 65 yards on 10 targets last week. Atlanta's No. 2 wide receiver had been off to a strong start with 15 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown in the first three weeks before sustaining an injury and should put in another solid performance against a Jets defense that just got gashed for a combined 178 yards and three touchdowns by Miami's Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills. Sanu's a strong alternative to the underachieving Julio Jones ($8,200) at just over half the price.
Josh Doctson, WAS vs. DAL ($3,600): Doctson has surpassed the disappointing Terrelle Pryor on Washington's wide receiver depth chart, playing 54 of 64 snaps to Pryor's 30 in last week's loss to the Eagles. Coach Jay Gruden expressed confidence in Doctson by saying "we drafted him to be the No.1 guy," so it looks like the 2016 first-rounder is going to get every opportunity to hold on to the top spot now that he's healthy. Doctson has flashed big-play ability with touchdowns from 52 and 11 yards out this season, so don't be surprised to see him get behind a Dallas defense that will be focused on stopping tight end Jordan Reed.
Kyle Rudolph, MIN at CLE ($4,700): Don't be surprised to see Rudolph the red-zone reindeer deliver some major fantasy presents from across the pond this week. The Browns have been awful at covering tight ends, surrendering 50 yards or a touchdown to top options at the position in all but one game this year while allowing both Jesse James and Tyler Kroft to score twice. With Stefon Diggs (groin) unlikely to suit up, Rudolph is the clear-cut No. 2 option in this passing game to Adam Thielen and the top choice near the goal line considering he has two touchdowns to Thielen's zero this season.
Nick O'Leary, BUF vs. OAK ($3,100): Tyrod Taylor loves throwing to his tight end, so O'Leary should stay heavily involved in the offensive gameplan with Charles Clay (knee) expected to sit once again. O'Leary remains cheap despite topping 50 yards in consecutive contests, making him a strong choice for players looking to spend big at other positions.
Kansas City Chiefs, KC vs. DEN ($3,300): While there's a chance the struggling Broncos get Emmanuel Sanders (ankle) back for this one, Kansas City's defense still makes for a tremendous play at home on Monday Night Football against a sputtering offensive unit that has trended down in points scored every single week culminating in last Sunday's shutout loss to the Chargers. Denver also averages just 8.0 points per game on the road and likely will be forced to abandon its balanced offensive approach to keep up with the high-powered Chiefs offense.
New Orleans Saints, NO vs. CHI ($3,000): The Bears have gotten plenty of scoring from their defense lately, but their offense has been a shambles since rookie Mitchell Trubisky took over under center. Trubisky's career high in passing yards through three games is 128 and Chicago's offense managed to produce all of one field goal in last week's 17-3 win over the Panthers while safety Eddie Jackson scored two touchdowns. While New Orleans isn't exactly known for its defensive prowess, this unit has excelled in its only truly favorable matchup of the season to date with a shutout win over the Dolphins in Week 4.