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Fantasy football Bold Strategies: Have confidence in Michael Vick

Photo: Carlos M. Saavedra/SI

Michael Vick has frustrated owners this season, but he has several strong matchups approaching.

Never afraid to swim upstream, we are here to bring you a few fantasy-related strategies for Week 8 that, well ... perhaps you have not considered.

Some are the best moves to make are the least obvious ones. We have a few suggestions for this week, and going forward with an eye on the home stretch of the fantasy regular season.

Start Michael Vick

Michael Vick's injuries and ineffectiveness have made his fantasy stock jump all over the place, but he's someone you might want to consider having as a strong starter in the next few weeks.

If someone wants to dump Vick, even as he has been named starter this week, by all means jump on him. The Eagles' next four games -- against the Giants, Raiders, Packers and Redskins -- portend a strong fantasy outlook. Vick is a strong play this week now that he has proclaimed himself healthy.

Add Mike James

If you were dismayed by the production of Doug Martin, it's understandable. But keep an eye on Mike James, Martin's replacement while he rehabs from a labrum injury the next several weeks.

The Buccaneers used James inside the red zone after Martin went down in Week 7 and should continue to see what they have in him because, well, they have few other options and don't want to overburden quarterback Mike Glennon.

James could be a nice short-term addition to your roster. There are few attractive backs on the waiver wire this time of year, but he's one.

Add Lavon Brazill

The injury to wide receiver Reggie Wayne has changed the dynamic of the Colts' offense and cast serious doubt among fantasy players about how Andrew Luck and Co. will survive the move.

In the wake of the injury, and with T.Y. Hilton owned in nearly all leagues, the common reaction has been to suggest adding Darius Heyward-Bey. Our suggestion: Do so at your own risk. Sure, there will be some worthy moments for the former No. 7 overall pick of the Raiders. But we think the drops -- the scores of frustrating drops -- he has on the field will not make him worth adding.

Lavon Brazill, on the other hand, might be a great sleeper. He has served a four-game suspension but is now active and should have a defined role. The Colts are on bye this week, and most people might not know much about him.

Sit Giovani Bernard

Bernard is averaging a respectable 71 yards from scrimmage per week (more than Stevan Ridley and Ray Rice) and has totaled four touchdowns (more than Reggie Bush and LeSean McCoy), but the Jets offer a tough challenge. They have a terrific run defense and allowed the fewest receiving yards to running backs in the NFL with a mere 125 in seven games. Because half of Bernard's damage is as a pass catcher, he might be bottled up. See if you can find a better option.

Add/play Jordan Reed

Redskins tight end Jordan Reed had been looming as a fantasy sleeper for weeks, and he delivered in a big way in his first start with nine catches (on nine targets) for 134 yards and a score against the Bears in Week 7.

Should he suddenly be considered starting material? Maybe. Although he suffered a hip pointer against the Bears, it didn't appear to affect him too much, and the Redskins' next four opponents — the Broncos, Chargers, Vikings and Eagles — rank in the bottom half of the NFL in a lot of the pass-defense categories.

At a top-heavy position, Reed might sneak into the weekly discussion as a solid receiving option.

Start Maurice Jones-Drew

San Francisco giving up the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs this season, consistently letting them score. They even let Chris Johnson have a nice fantasy day last week. It seems ludicrous to play any Jaguars against the 49ers this week, but MJD could be a hail Mary that gets caught.

Sit Harry Douglas

The Buccaneers are melting like the Wicked Witch of the West at Niagara Falls. That defense was pretty good to start the season, but it has sagged in recent weeks, and Harry Douglas' explosion is an excellent example. He is no Julio Jones, yet he looked the part against Tampa Bay. This week, expect Patrick Peterson to shadow him on the outside. That Cardinals defense won't be nearly as forgiving.

Start Josh Gordon

Some fantasy owners, wanting to play matchups, might consider benching Browns WR Josh Gordon this week with a tough defensive matchup in the Chiefs. A bit of advice: Don't follow suit.

Gordon is the one explosive playmaker the Browns have, and if they are seriously entertaining trade discussions with him, either before the deadline next week or in the offseason, they'll want to showcase his abilities as best they can.

Brandon Weeden's limitations aside, Gordon's value remains strong. Even if the Browns don't end up trading him, they know their best chance of victory remains with him getting plenty of opportunities.

Start/add Bengals defense

It's time to start considering the Bengals a top-flight fantasy defense again. They have made more plays in recent weeks and have some really favorable matchups these next few weeks. It's amazing, by proxy of reputation, that the defenses of the Bears and Broncos — which have been gashed in recent weeks — are typically owned more than the Bengals are.

They should be able to force a ton of turnovers the next four games with this anti-Murder's Row of offenses: The Jets, Dolphins, Ravens and Browns have combined to turn the ball over 47 times in a combined 27 games, and none of their offensive lines are impervious to pressure. The Bengals are middle of the pack with 18 sacks but should boost that number quite a bit the next month or so.

MORE WEEK 8 FANTASY FOOTBALL CONTENT:

SI STAFF: Player Rankings -- Gronkowski rewards his owners
BELLER: Player Stat Projections -- RGIII finally looking like himself
BELLER, FLOOD: Roundtable -- Which injury situation will hurt the most?

Photo: Harry E. Walker/MCT via Getty Images

Last week was a very unfortunate week for fantasy owners to have Jay Cutler starting at quarterback.

Week 8 Survivor Draft

For those uninitiated in the "Survivor"-style fantasy league, here it is in a nutshell: We play head to head and re-draft each week, only each able to use every NFL player once per season. So, throw the traditional fantasy drafting rules out the window.

Team EdholmTeam Miglio
QBPeyton ManningMichael Vick
RBMarshawn LynchAndre Ellington
RBFred JacksonReggie Bush
WRDez BryantJarrett Boykin
WRMike WallaceMarques Colston
WRRueben RandleWes Welker
TEVernon DavisRob Gronkowski
FlexMike JamesKris Durham
KStephen GostkowskiBlair Walsh
DSan FranciscoNew Orleans

Week 7 Results:

Miglio -- 115.4
Edholm -- 97.3

Team Miglio

Huzzah!

Team Miglio survived another low scoring week with the help of the fates -- thanks, Rex Ryan -- which dictated Jay Cutler would get injured without scoring anything significant. Hopefully Mr. Cutler can come back from that painful-sounding groin injury soon, but my team is grateful for the succor from the fantasy gods.

This week is conspiring against us, at least at running back. Between the byes, matchups, and running backs already utilized, pickings were especially thin. There weren't many good options outside Reggie Bush and Andre Ellington, who has a pretty good matchup against the Falcons. At the very least, I think Ellington has more upside than Rashard Mendenhall.

The T-1000 was finally re-activated last week when Rob Gronkowski was cleared to play, but the uncertainty about his playing status scared me away from drafting him. After a string of goose eggs, I wanted to ensure he would be in the lineup before actually grabbing him. In fact, I wrote him into this column as a "start," only to get cold feet later in the week. He wound up going off for over 19 PPR points despite not scoring a touchdown. Eric was kind enough to let him slip a few draft picks for me this week, and Gronkowski gets a nice matchup against Miami this week.

Of course my biggest gamble -- and hopefully successful gambit -- was taking Michael Vick in his first week back from that hamstring injury. Nick Foles likely won't be around with a short hook, and the Giants have an inviting defense. Hopefully that hammy stays happy enough to let Vick go ham.

Perhaps my biggest gambles come at wide receiver, where I might be chasing points with Jarrett Boykin or tempting fate with Marques Colston. The former had a nice game last week, which is no guarantee of future success. The latter has simply been off, but the Bills present a matchup I couldn't refuse.

Team Miglio needs to go streaking. Let's go streaking this week.

Team Edholm

Not only did I suffer my worst output in Week 7, but -- I fear -- Alex schooled me in the draft.

I wanted Dez Bryant this week, but I should have realized Alex already used him this season, rendering him exempt from his team. In theory he could have been my final draft pick this week; I could have taken my kicker or my defense ahead of him.

So that means I should have taken Jarrett Boykin (!!) ahead of Bryant if I wanted him. I didn't, and I failed. He also got Gronk before I did. Let's put it this way: I am running out of quality tight ends to use this season and I really wanted Gronk this week.

Oh well, I settled for Peyton Manning, Marshawn Lynch and Bryant. Hopefully, they'll get me out of this mini-slump I am in after a scorching start.

Catch up with Alessandro Miglio and Eric Edholm on Twitter

MORE WEEK 8 FANTASY FOOTBALL CONTENT:

FLOOD: Waiver Wire -- James stepping up for Martin-less Buccaneers
McQUADE: Risers, Sliders -- Wilson gifted strong matchups in coming weeks
BELLER: Early Week 8 advice -- Boykin surprises for the Packers

More Fantasy

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