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NFL Fantasy Football, Week 8 Preview: What to watch for this weekend

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The return of Ben Roethlisberger, Stefon Diggs takes on the Bears secondary, and Alfred Blue re-assumes the lead role for the Texans. Plus, we'll get into some long shot picks for those in need and some trading tips.

Alfred Blue rushes back into our lives but will he crack your lineup?
Alfred Blue rushes back into our lives but will he crack your lineup?
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

We are officially halfway through a standard fantasy football season. If you're sitting at 4-3 or better, you're in good shape to make a playoff run. If you're on the other side of that mark, you've got your work cut out for you. One thing you may need to consider is trading. I'm a big fan of trading in fantasy football because I think you can add value to both squads. If I have 3 really good running backs and I can only use 2 of them, it makes sense to trade one of them to someone who could use them. Hopefully, they have a receiver or tight end that they don't need as much as I do. The idea is to improve the expected point totals of both squads. The other type of trade is a more of a "challenge" trade - where you trade within the same position group and there's an easy way to keep track of who "won" the trade. I like the former type of trades because it is easy to show benefits to both sides. Some tips / etiquette for trading:

  • If someone sends you a trade offer - respond to it within 24 hours, even if you cancel it. Give the guy objective feedback like "I don't like the player you're offering" or "the guy you're asking for here is off limits." That way you're continuing a dialogue and maybe you can find a deal for both parties. One thing I'll do is send a note to a guy saying - I like Player X - what would it take for me to get him onto my squad.
  • If there is someone you want on their squad that wasn't in the initial offer, make a counter offer. A counter offer puts the action back on that person and continues the dialogue. Maybe he thinks you need a better QB but you're really more interested in upgrading at WR. The answer is no if you don't ask.
  • Don't value your guys at 150% and don't discount the other team's players just because you didn't draft them. I'm not saying give away guys you love or take on guys you don't like, but Matt Ryan is not Tom Brady just because Matt Ryan is on your roster.
  • Take into consideration what has already happened this year. Dez Bryant is not a first round receiver right now as he has a broken foot and no QB if and when he does return. If someone wanted to take a chance on an injured or underperforming player, your price can't be what you paid for them at the draft table. On the flip side, it should rightfully take a lot to get a Devonta Freeman or Todd Gurley in a trade right now.
  • Most importantly - don't take it personally. Most people aren't trying to insult your intelligence or screw you over, particularly if you're in a league with friends. This game is about math and if you can show a positive impact to both parties, the trade makes sense.

Feel free to share an example of a good trade for both parties below. If you must, share your best fleecing story too. Otherwise, let's get into the preview. We're missing the Bills, Jaguars, Eagles, and the team from Washington this week. This is the easiest bye week for me as I have virtually no one on any of these squads.

Game of the week: Green Bay Packers vs. Denver Broncos - Sunday Night Football does it again with two undefeated teams squaring off. I think it's fair to say that both of these teams look vulnerable and they welcomed the bye week to get healthy and figure out how to tune back up to full force.

On the Packers side of this equation, we've seen a less than perfect passing attack from Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb. Will the week off help Cobb's shoulder? Will the time off help this offensive line get healthy and iron out some kinks? How about Eddie Lacy? Will he get back to his bruising ways or has he really fallen off a cliff? This is not a pleasant match up as Denver's defense is probably the best in the league. I find this side of the equation to be fascinating and look forward to Von Miller saying hello to Rodgers a few times...

On the Denver side of the ball, will we see an improvement in Peyton Manning? His arm strength has essentially disappeared so how do the Broncos compensate for that? Will they renew a commitment to the run with Ronnie Hillman as the lead back? Do we need to worry about Emanuel Sanders &/or Demaryius Thomas if Manning can't serve as a threat to push the ball downfield? So many questions on this side and they'll face a Packers defense that, sadly, looks like it's the real deal. I'm absolutely starting the Packers defense this week as Manning has thrown a lot of INTs and the chance of a house call is high. My hunch is the Packers win this one as I think they're more legit than the Broncos but that fantasy points will be at a premium for both squads.

Spotlights:

The Return of Big Ben? - All signs point to the return of Ben Roethlisberger this weekend for a big game against the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals. If you'll remember, Ben was carted from the field in Week 3 after he sprained his MCL. Ben is one of the tougher guys out there and he missed a month with the injury that Jay Cutler had when he was too much of a wimp to return to the game a few years back... but I digress. Roethlisberger's return is incredibly important for the entire offense and I'm curious to see if his game has changed at all after the knee injury. If he is able to come back to form quickly, Ben will be a relevant fantasy force down the stretch.

Stefon Diggs vs. Chicago Bears - We'll get an up close and personal look at the rookie this weekend, who has been averaging 6 catches and 100+ yards the last 3 weeks. The Bears secondary has been generous and I don't know who we have to run with a guy like Diggs. Plain and simple, Diggs has laid claim as a WR2 through 3 starts. If he keeps this up, he'll be on a lot of championship rosters as a free impactful receiver is a huge boon to whoever in your league nabbed him.

Alfred Blue vs. Tennessee Titans - I've never been particularly impressed with Alfred Blue but he'll once again inherit much of the work from Arian Foster. Part of the problem is that the Texans are an absolute mess right now and if their defense isn't going to stop anyone, Hoyer will continue to throw and not establish a run game. One would think this will be a close game, so let's see what Blue can do for you.

4 Defenses to Use - The Rams and Cardinals defenses both have excellent match ups and should be able to pace the field. Just how many times can the Rams sack Colin Kaepernick? It might be a record. If they're still out there, grab the Falcons defense for the week - they draw the Bucs at home. I'd also endorse playing the Packers defense against the Broncos. It sure seems like Manning is good for an interception or two per game.

4 Defenses to Abuse - Play all your Falcons (vs. Tampa Bay), Chiefs (vs. Lions), Chargers (@ Ravens), and Giants (@ Saints). If the Buccaneers made the team from Washington look good, imagine what Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman are going to do. The Chiefs looked like they were starting to figure out life after Jamaal Charles and the Lions D should allow Travis Kelce and company to do damage. Rivers is the odds on favorite to pace the QBs this week against the Ravens and I like a shootout in NOLA with Eli Manning throwing on the Saints all day.

Shotgun Longshot - Alex Smith - You're probably not searching the waiver wire this week unless you've been relying on Sam Bradford and Tyrod Taylor (and you've got to ask yourself why you've been doing that), but if you need someone, Alex Smith has a great matchup against the Lions and is only 26% owned. The Chiefs will host the Lions and are starting to adapt to life without Jamaal Charles. If Marcus Mariota is healthy and plays, he's worth a spot start against the dumpster fire of the Texans defense.

Toss Sweep Sleeper - Antonio Andrews - Only 17% owned, the Tennessee Titan's plodding running back plays the Texans this weekend who just got gashed by the Miami Dolphins. If you missed out on the Darren McFadden sweepstakes or don't trust Alfred Blue, take a shot on Andrews.

Fly Route Flier - Stevie Johnson - The 42% owned Johnson gets to play the Ravens secondary who hasn't stopped anyone this season. Johnson is returning from an injury and was inefficient last week. With a softer secondary and another week to round back into form, he's worth the gamble if you're hurting for a WR this weekend.

What are you looking forward to the most this weekend? Did anybody "win" the Darren McFadden Sweepstakes?