NFL Week 8 Predictions/Fantasy Focus

Brad Shulkin (ChicagoSportsWeekly)

Fantasy Focus

START’ EM

Steve Smith (WR, Carolina Panthers)— Who would’ve thought that QB Cam Newton would be the answer to Smith’s success? After a seven catch, 143-yard performance and a win against the Washington Redskins, Smith continues to look like one of the league’s elite receivers. The Panthers take on the Vikings on Sunday in a matchup that will feature two rookie quarterbacks in Cam Newton and Christian Ponder. Look for Smith to have a big day against the Viking’s secondary, tallying 135 yards and a touchdown. Projection: 19.5 points

Darren Sproles (RB, New Orleans Saints)—This guy is a beast. Ever since week one where he tallied 12 fantasy points, Sproles has been consistent, putting up double-digit points almost every week. After a huge 21-point week in the Saints rout of the Colts (62-7), Sproles will look to do it again against the winless Rams. Look for him to have his usual share of 50 rushing yards, 50 receiving yards and one touchdown. Projection: 15 points

Antonio Gates (TE, San Diego Chargers)—After all the preseason hype, Gates looked to be a bust yet again in 2011. But, just like he does every year, he surprises his doubters, fighting through pain to put up big numbers. The Chargers take on a Chiefs team Monday Night that has played very well the past couple of weeks. Look for gates to total 60 receiving yards and one touchdown. Projection: 12 points

SIT’ EM

Rob Gronkowski (TE, New England Patriots)—After two huge weeks to start out the season, Gronkowski looked to be on his way to becoming the best tight end in the league. But, with TE Aaron Hernandez coming back from injury and Wes Welker having the year that he is, Gronkowski has slowed down. Look for him to have 2 catches for 35 yards. Projection: 3.5 points

Kevin Walter (WR, Houston Texans)—With Andre Johnson out due to injury, many though Walter would emerge as the number one receiver and put up huge numbers in Houston. But, we were all wrong. For the past two weeks, Walter combined for 87 receiving yards and no touchdowns, not the numbers we all expected. Look for him to have 40 receiving yards and no touchdowns. Projection: 4 points

INJURY UPDATE

Darren McFadden (RB, Oakland Raiders)—McFadden left the Raider’s Week seven matchup against the Chiefs with what has been confirmed to be a mid-foot sprain. The Raiders bye week comes at a perfect time, allowing the team to figure out the quarterback situation and McFadden to rest his ankle.

Beanie Wells (RB, Arizona Cardinals)—Recent reports indicate that Wells will not need surgery on his knee, meaning he will miss one or two weeks. This comes as good news to owners because there was a possibility he could’ve missed the rest of the season. ACTIVE

Tim Hightower (RB, Washington Redskins)—OUT FOR SEASON

Legarrette Blount (RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)—Blount is recovering from a possible MCL tear and should be good to go in Week 9.

Matthew Stafford (QB, Detroit Lions)—After spraining his ankle during the final play of the Lions loss to the Falcons, Stafford is back at practice and is making progress. Reports coming out of the Lions organization are saying that he is limited in practice, but looks healthy. ACTIVE

Andre Johnson (WR, Houston Texans)—Superstar Andre Johnson returned to practice Wednesday after missing three straight games. He is unsure if he will be ready for Sunday’s matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. INACTIVE

*Injury Report updated until 11am on Sunday

Week 8 Predictions:

Ravens over Cardinals (30-27)

Titans over Colts (27-10)

Texans over Jaguars (24-14)

Giants over Dolphins (20-17)

Vikings over Panthers (24-21)

Saints over Rams Rams over Saints (31-21)

Lions over Broncos (45-10)

Bills over Redskins (23-0)

Bengals over Seahawks (34-12)

49ers over Browns (20-10)

Patriots over Steelers Steelers over Patriots (25-17)

Cowboys over Eagles Eagles over Cowboys (34-7)

Chargers over Chiefs Chiefs over Chargers (23-20)

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