Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) looks to throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Week 8 of the 2019 NFL season is just around the corner, and once again, injuries and bye weeks will play a factor.

Fantasy stars Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram made their returns from injury in Week 7, but now Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is dealing with an ankle injury. New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (knee/ankle) may be out again as well—though he hasn’t been ruled out yet, according to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.

In addition, fantasy standouts Lamar Jackson, Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper will be unavailable, as the Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys are on bye.

Who are the top players at each position heading into Week 8? That’s what we’ll dig into here. Rankings are based on points-per-reception (PPR) scoring.


Quarterback Rankings

1. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

3. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

4. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

5. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams

6. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

7. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

8. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

0. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

10. Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis Colts

11. Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars

12. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Spotlight Matchup: Russell Wilson at Atlanta Falcons

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Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is coming off his worst game of the 2019 season. He passed for 241 yards and a touchdown against Baltimore while adding 27 yards on the ground. He also threw a pick-six that helped propel the Ravens to victory.

Expect Wilson to be hungry for redemption in Week 8, and he’ll have a good chance to get it.

The Seahawks travel to take on the Falcons, who are spiraling out of control and who have been disastrous on defense. Atlanta is surrendering an average of 274 passing yards and 113.7 rushing yards per game. They’ve also produced a mere five sacks and two interceptions.

Wilson should rebound in a big way against Atlanta.


Running Back Rankings

1. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings

2. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

3. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars

4. Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks

5. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

6. James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers

7. Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets

8. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams

9. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers

10. Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders

11. Latavius Murray, New Orleans Saints

12. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

13. Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts

14. Tevin Coleman, San Francisco 49ers

15. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

16. Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos

17. Carlos Hyde, Houston Texans

18. James White, New England Patriots

19. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons

20. Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers


Spotlight Matchup: James Conner vs. Miami Dolphins

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Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner only rushed for 41 yards in his last game—against the Los Angeles Chargers—but he caught seven passes for 78 yards and scored two touchdowns.

This week, Conner and the Steelers host the Miami Dolphins, who have been better in recent weeks but who continue to be a disaster against the run. Miami has given up an average of 160.8 rushing yards per game, second-most in the NFL.

Pittsburgh will turn back to Mason Rudolph at quarterback against Miami and it should again employ a run-first offensive game plan. Both Conner and Benny Snell should benefit, with Conner getting extra fantasy points as a receiver out of the backfield.


Wide Receiver Rankings

1. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans

2. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

3. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

4. Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams

5. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

6. Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks

7. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts

8. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers

9. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

10. Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings

11. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

12. Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions

13. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

14. DJ Chark Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars

15. John Brown, Buffalo Bills

16. Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams

17. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers

18. Golden Tate, New York Giants

19. Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns

20. Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals


Spotlight Matchup: Cooper Kupp vs. Cincinnati Bengals (in London)

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Wideout Cooper Kupp has emerged this season as one of the Los Angeles Rams’ biggest playmakers and perhaps Jared Goff’s most trusted target.

“It’s a lot of Jared trusting me to be in the right place at the right time,” Kupp said last month, per ESPN’s Lindsay Thiry. 

In just seven games, Kupp has already caught 71 passes for 572 yards and seven touchdowns. He should add significantly to that total in Week 8 with the Cincinnati Bengals on tap.

Cincinnati has allowed an average of 241.9 passing yards per game, which is a misleading 16th in the NFL. The Bengals are also allowing an average of 8.4 yards per pass play, sixth-most in the league.


Tight End Rankings

1. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

2. Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons

3. Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders

4. Evan Engram, New York Giants

5. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

6. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

7. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers

8. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans

9. T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions

10. Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Rams


Spotlight Matchup: Darren Waller at Houston Texans

Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller continues to be one of the biggest breakout players of 2019. He’s coming off a stellar performance against the Green Bay Packers—seven catches, 126 yards, two touchdowns—and is heading into a favorable matchup against the Houston Texans.

Houston is surrendering an average of 275.6 passing yards per game, fourth-most in the NFL. It is allowing an average of 7.4 yards per pass play and just gave up 70 yards and a touchdown to Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron.

Waller is a must-start in every conceivable format and should again be one of the top fantasy performers in Week 8.


Defense/Special Teams Rankings

1. New England Patriots

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

3. Minnesota Vikings

4. San Francisco 49ers

5. Los Angeles Rams

6. Jacksonville  Jaguars

7. Chicago Bears

8. Tennessee Titans

9. New Orleans Saints

10. Buffalo Bills