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Fantasy football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: The sprint to the playoffs is on

Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs will attempt to keep their unbeaten streak alive against the Browns.

Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs will attempt to keep their unbeaten streak alive against the Browns.

Calvin Johnson is starting to come into form, as the Bengals discovered in Week 7.

Calvin Johnson is starting to come into form, as the Bengals discovered in Week 7.


Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals

Start 'em:

Falcons: Matt Ryan, Steven Jackson, Harry Douglas, Tony Gonzalez, Matt Bryant, Falcons DST

If Steven Jackson (hamstring) is healthy, get him in this game, as the Rams have had tough times against running backs, averaging one rushing touchdown allowed per game. The Falcons didn't get the ball to Gonzalez like we had expected against Tampa Bay, but the Cardinals are one of the worst defenses at stopping the position. Since Carson Palmer has thrown 11 interceptions in his past five games, the Falcons DST is worth a look.

Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald

Not a lot of fantasy options in Cardinals jerseys lately, and even No. 11 has been a borderline call at different points. But not this week, as he had 10 days to rest his hamstring. The Falcons allowed Vincent Jackson to tear them up, and Fitzgerald should come close to his second 100-yard game of the season.

Sit 'em:

Falcons: Jason Snelling, Jacquizz Rodgers, Roddy White

If Jackson or White starts for the Falcons, you'll have to start them in your league also. But if not, Rodgers and Douglas are worth replacements. Douglas had a career day against the Buccaneers, looking like "Julio White" out there.

Cardinals: Carson Palmer, Rashard Mendenhall, Andre Ellington, Andre Roberts, Michael Floyd, Rob Housler, Cardinals DST

Mendenhall will be a player many are forced to put in their lineups because of bye weeks, but the Falcons are stingy against running backs, allowing just two rushing TDs all year. The Falcons' offense proved it can still be effective even without Jackson, White or Julio Jones, so look elsewhere for a fantasy defense.

Washington Redskins at Denver Broncos

Start 'em:

Redskins: Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed

The good news is that RGIII is starting to look like himself again, but the bad news is that he continues to take big hits unnecessarily. If he doesn't learn to get down quicker or run out of bounds with some purpose, he's going to be hurt again. Morris had three touchdowns vultured away from him by Roy Helu Jr., but the sophomore back averaged 5.0 yards per carry and should remain the focus in the running game. Check with the Morris owner in your league to see what they'd take in exchange for him. Garcon also saw his counterparts tally more fantasy points, but he's still the most talented pass catcher on the team. Reed has earned starter status, and the rookie tight end is averaging nearly 15 yards per catch.

Broncos: Peyton Manning, Knowshon Moreno, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Julius Thomas, Matt Prater

Manning can put the pomp and circumstance behind his return to Indianapolis behind him -- and concentrate on shredding a Redskins pass defense that is allowing a QB rating against of 105.03, which is 29th in the NFL. Note: Julius Thomas and Welker lead the NFL with eight touchdown catches each.

Sit 'em:

Redskins: Roy Helu, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Kai Forbath, Redskins DST

While Helu is certainly worth owning, he's still more of a change-of-pace guy behind Morris. He has better hands, of course, and fantasy owners should like him as a flex in Week 8. The Broncos have allowed an NFL-high 10 rushing touchdowns, so both running backs deserve consideration in larger leagues.

Broncos: Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball, Broncos DST

The Broncos defense has a tough time slowing down offenses that are always playing catch-up behind Manning and Co. Denver's defense has allowed an average of 35 points over the past three games.

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Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

Start 'em:

Packers: Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin, Mason Crosby, Packers DST

James Jones (knee) missed Week 7, and his absence this week could mean more targets for sophomore WR Jarrett Boykin, who caught a team-high eight passes for 107 receiving yards and a touchdown against Cleveland. Nelson, the only first-string receiver left at the end of the Browns game, caught just five passes in Week 7. We can blame that on the Browns' secondary, and expect a huge bounce-back against a Vikings team that ranks as one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. Lacy scored his second touchdown of the season Sunday, and he remains a good fantasy starter -- and the top fantasy rookie through the first half of the season.

Vikings: Adrian Peterson

The Vikings offense was in shambles on Monday night against the Giants, and Peterson was only able to rush for 28 yards, which is one of the worst totals of his career. With Josh Freeman dealing with a concussion, Christian Ponder will be back under center in Week 8, against a tougher defense. The Vikings will need to lean more on the run, and a move to Ponder helps Peterson.

Sit 'em:

Packers: Johnathan Franklin, James Jones, Jermichael Finley

Since Franklin's Week 3 breakout, Franklin has rushed for just four yards on six carries. Finley suffered a serious neck injury should open up playing time for backup TE Andrew Quarless, but you should have better fantasy options elsewhere.

Vikings: Christian Ponder, Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson, Kyle Rudolph, Blair Walsh

Freeman had just four days of practice and looked like it -- he missed on 33 passes. His concussion may have been self-induced after watching game film. Walsh has just one field goal and two extra points in his past two games.

BELLER: Early Week 8 advice -- Boykin surprises for the Packers

Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams

Start 'em:

Seahawks: Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Golden Tate, Steve Hauschka, Seahawks DST

Wilson is coming off one of his best games of the season, and is finally starting to put a tough stretch of pass defenses behind him. With the Rams, Bucs, Falcons and Vikings ahead before his Week 12 bye, Wilson should be a top-10 fantasy QB for the next month. Lynch steadily puts up fantasy points every week, but Robert Turbin is a must-own as his handcuff. Hauschka has 11 field goals and 10 extra points in his past four games. Looking ahead at the schedule, Week 13 against the Saints might be the only week you consider benching the Seahawks DST. Hopefully, you clinch a playoff spot before that week.

Rams: Zac Stacy

Once again, Stacy was the main ball carrier for the Rams, and they'll continue to rely on him this week, too, as the passing game lost QB Sam Bradford (knee) for the season. The Seahawks defense is one of the best in the NFL, but with six teams on bye weeks, Stacy will be a decent RB2 in many formats this week.

Sit 'em:

Seahawks: Robert Turbin, Sidney Rice,Doug Baldwin, Zach Miller

Since Week 4, Tate and Baldwin have just one touchdown catch between them, although Tate gets enough targets to make him a worthy starter at flex. Miller had one of his best games of the season against Arizona in Week 7, but he's a gamble against a Rams team that has given up just two touchdowns to tight ends this season.

Rams: Sam Bradford, Kellen Clemens, Daryl Richardson, Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, Tavon Austin, Brian Quick, Jared Cook, Greg Zuerlein, Rams DST

Bradford is out for the season with a knee injury, which makes Clemens a bad starter rather than just a bad backup. Austin actually had his best game since Week 2, catching five passes for 39 yards, but he fumbled twice and lost one of them. He did get to do a touchdown dance after a 63-yard score -- but it was called back on a penalty by the offensive line. Quick stepped up for a 97-yard game, but none of the Rams receivers are reliable enough to be recommended fantasy starts, including Cook. Zuerlein has a powerful and accurate leg, making every kick so far this season. But he just doesn't get many opportunities.

McQUADE: Risers, Sliders -- Wilson gifted strong matchups in coming weeks

David Gonos is a fantasy sports veteran of over 20 years and over 100 fantasy football leagues. You can also follow him @davidgonos on Twitter. If you have some good Week 8 Start 'em, Sit 'em opinions, drop them in the comments below.