Emmanuel Sanders

Fantasy Decisions: Setting a Lineup and Week 8 Rankings

Fantasy football ultimately comes down to one thing over anything else, setting the right lineup.

It doesn’t matter if you have the top three weekly scorers in fantasy if they’re sitting on your bench. Today I want to give you a peak behind the curtains at how I set my lineups. The formula isn’t difficult, it just takes a little time and I really think you can be successful. If you ever want help with your specific lineup, don’t forget to send an email to FantasyDecisions@gmail.com and I’ll give you an answer by the end of the day. 

Here it is:

1.     Start your studs. You didn’t draft Jamaal Charles to sit on your bench. I don’t care if he’s facing the fourth toughest defense in the Rams this week, you start the guy and you don’t regret it. You jumped on board back in September, so as Dido’s hit single goes… “I will go down with this ship”.

2.     Always start the player who will get more snaps. If I’m deciding between Percy Harvin and Mohamed Sanu at WR2 and I hear Rex Ryan saying Percy isn’t going to play too many snaps, Harvin is quickly making a trip to my bench. I want the guy who is going to get the most snaps because more snaps is never a bad thing. However, snaps alone aren’t going to make or break the case for starting. I’m talking about efficient snaps. I say week after week how important targets are for WRs and TEs, and how huge touches can be for a RB. Look at these stats and then look at what kind of snaps your guys are getting. Efficient snaps are key to fantasy success.

3.     Always look at the opposing defenses rank against each position. As an example, this week Carson Palmer is an excellent value/fill-in play at QB. He’s facing an Eagles defense ranked 5th to last in defense against the pass. This is a key stat you can take advantage of.

4.     Rankings can help. Obviously you’re looking here first to see my rankings, but also make sure you check around different websites to gauge other writers’ love/hate for certain guys. Rather than just relying on ESPN or CBS, look at three or four different websites and try to get a sense of where the player’s value lies in the week ahead.

5.     Some consistency mixed with some high ceiling is a good formula. I always try to make all my decisions in fantasy with this in the back of my mind. The best fantasy lineups are mixed with good, consistent guys who have high floors but maybe lower ceilings, and high-risk high reward players. You can take a chance on a guy like Desean Jackson or Sammy Watkins when you’re coupling them with a nice grounded player like Emmanuel Sanders who may not go off for 200 yards but so far this year has been start-able in 5 of the 6 games he’s played. This way, even if the flame burns out on your big risk play, you’ve still got consistent production from somewhere else.

6.     Projections can help but shouldn’t be given too much weight. These are a good starting place to get an idea of what you might be able to expect from your second running back, but projections only go so far. As I was starting this addiction we call fantasy football, I fell into the trap of seeing a huge projection and getting thrilled. You see ESPN projecting Bishop Sankey for nearly 15 points and don’t think twice about starting him. But I’d much rather have Andre Ellington on my team even though he’s projected to get five points less than Sankey. Ellington got a career high 30 touches in week seven and has had at least 75 total yards every single week this year. Sankey is still finding his footing while the Cardinal RB has been one of the most consistent RB options this year. So take those projections with a grain of salt when it comes to setting your lineup.

7.     Go with your gut. This is really an overarching theme when figuring out who to start. I don’t care if a guy is projected for six points, ranked 25th at his position, and is facing the second toughest defense in the league. If your gut is screaming, “Start Matt Ryan against the Lions”, go with it. You’d always rather go with your gut, start the guy, and be disappointed than fight your instincts and watch the guy go off on your bench.

Week 7 Rankings


1.     Aaron Rodgers

2.     Andrew Luck

3.     Peyton Manning

4.     Philip Rivers

5.     Russell Wilson

6.     Drew Brees

7.     Carson Palmer

8.     Tony Romo

9.     Tom Brady

10.  Cam Newton

11. Kyle Orton

12. Matthew Stafford

13. Jay Cutler

14. Nick Foles

15. Alex Smith

16. Matt Ryan

17. Ryan Tannehill

18. Ben Roethlisberger

19. Ryan Fitzpatrick

20. Joe Flacco


1.     Arian Foster

2.     Matt Forte

3.     Marshawn Lynch

4.     DeMarco Murray

5.     Le’Veon Bell

6.     Ben Tate

7.     Eddie Lacy

8.     Jamaal Charles

9.     Lamar Miller

10. Giovani Bernard

11. Andre Ellington

12. Jerick McKinnon

13. Branden Oliver

14. LeSean Mccoy

15. Shane Vereen

16. Joique Bell

17. Justin Forsett

18. Chris Ivory

19. Mark Ingram

20. Alfred Morris

21. Ahmad Bradshaw

22. Darren McFadden

23. Ronnie Hillman

24. Tre Mason

25. Bishop Sankey


1.     Jordy Nelson

2.     Dez Bryant

3.     Demaryius Thomas

4.     Jeremy Maclin

5.     Antonio Brown

6.     Julio Jones

7.     Randall Cobb

8.     Golden Tate

9.     Brandon Marshall

10. A.J. Green

11. Alshon Jeffery

12. Mike Wallace

13. Emmanuel Sanders

14. T.Y. Hilton

15. Vincent Jackson

16. Julian Edelman

17. Andre Johnson

18. Michael Floyd

19. DeSean Jackson

20. Kelvin Benjamin

21. Steve Smith

22. Sammy Watkins

23. DeAndre Hopkins

24. Kendall Wright

25. Eric Decker


1.     Rob Gronkowski

2.     Julius Thomas

3.     Greg Olsen

4.     Jimmy Graham

5.     Antonio Gates

6.     Jordan Reed

7.     Martellus Bennett

8.     Travis Kelce

9.     Owen Daniels

10. Zach Ertz

11. Dwayne Allen

12. Heath Miller

13. Delanie Walker

14. Jordan Cameron

15. Jason Witten


1.     Dolphins

2.     Chiefs

3.     Texans

4.     Bills

5.     Cowboys

6.     Patriots

7.     Vikings

8.     Browns

9.     Jets

10. Seahawks


1.     Arian Foster

2.     Matt Forte

3.     Marshawn Lynch

4.     Jordy Nelson

5.     Demarco Murray

6.     Dez Bryant

7.     Demaryius Thomas

8.     Le’Veon Bell

9.     Jeremy Maclin

10. Rob Gronkowski

11. Ben Tate

12. Eddie Lacy

13. Antonio Brown

14. Jamaal Charles

15. Lamar Miller

16. Giovani Bernard

17. Andre Ellington

18. Julius Thomas

19. Julio Jones

20. Randall Cobb

21. Golden Tate

22. Jerick McKinnon

23. Branden Oliver

24. Brandon Marshall

25. A.J. Green

26. LeSean Mccoy

27. Shane Vereen

28. Greg Olsen

29. Alshon Jeffery

30. Mike Wallace

31. Joique Bell

32. Jimmy Graham

33. Justin Forsett

34. Emmanuel Sanders

35. T.Y. Hilton

36. Vincent Jackson

37. Chris Ivory

38. Mark Ingram

39. Alfred Morris

40. Julian Edelman

41. Andre Johnson

42. Michael Floyd

43. Ahmad Bradshaw

44. DeSean Jackson

45. Darren McFadden

46. Kelvin Benjamin

47. Steve Smith

48. Sammy Watkins

49. Ronnie Hillman

50. DeAndre Hopkins

Good luck in week 8!

Send in your lineup questions, waiver wire wonders, or trade help to FantasyDecisions@gmail.com

Free agency is always fun, especially the fantasy implications that come with it. If you don’t realize that it has fantasy implications, let me refresh your memory.

Last year, here is what we saw:

  • Stephen Jackson signed with the Atlanta Falcons (fantasy bust)
  • Mike Wallace signed with the Miami Dolphins. (solid fantasy year)
  • Danny Amendola signed with the New England Patriots (fantasy bust)
  • Wes Welker signed with the Denver Broncos (fantasy stud)
  • Martellus Bennett signed with the Chicago Bears (fantasy sleeper)
  • Reggie Bush signed with the Detroit Lions (fantasy sleeper)
  • Rashard Mendenhall signed with the Arizona Cardinals (bust)
  • Percy Harvin signed with the Seattle Seahawks (injuries made him a total bust)

See what I mean? Clearly, free agency impacts our fantasy squads. That was last year, though. So let’s take a look at just some of the many moves thus far for 2014, as many teams wasted no time signing big names.

Knownshon Moreno

(Denver Broncos -> Miami Dolphins)

From Super Bowl contender to a locker room full of bullies, Moreno is joining the tandem of Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas in South Beach. This is not promising for Moreno’s fantasy value. With Peyton Manning, he finished fifth last year in total yards and topped it off with 13 touchdowns. Now, he goes to a Dolphins team with two other running backs that will get significant playing time, limiting his rush attempts. However, this could give Montee Ball a boost in Denver and make him a sleeper in 2014.

Maurice Jones-Drew

(Jacksonville Jaguars -> Oakland Raiders)

Jones-Drew will join Darren McFadden, an all-time fantasy bust, in the Raiders backfield. It looks nice on paper, but Jones-Drew is not the same running back he once was. In Oakland, he will likely enter the season as the starter and be solid. He won’t be the Jones-Drew we used to know, but he should improve over his past two years.

Emmanuel Sanders

(Pittsburgh Steelers -> Denver Broncos)

It doesn’t get much better than catching balls from Peyton Manning. Sanders’ fantasy value is definitely up, and I expect a big year out of him. He will replace Eric Decker, who left for the New York Jets.

Eric Decker

(Denver Broncos -> New York Jets)

Decker is now the number one option for the Jets, and he is going to have a solid fantasy year. However, his value is definitely down from last year. Simply put, Decker just left Peyton Manning for Geno Smith and Michael Vick.

Ben Tate

(Houston Texans -> Cleveland Browns)

Tate’s value has skyrocketed. I am a fan of what Tate did in Houston when he got his carries, averaging 4.7 yards per touch over his career. He will be the starting running back, and I am boldly predicting he’ll finish as a top-12 fantasy back.

Hakeem Nicks

(New York Giants -> Indianapolis Colts)

Nicks signed a one-year deal, meaning he will have to prove he can still be a stud wide receiver after a disappointing year last year. Nicks, who failed to score a touchdown last season, is going to be playing with Andrew Luck and I expect his fantasy value will increase as a result.

Steve Smith

(Carolina Panthers -> Baltimore Ravens)

It is going to be weird not seeing him in a Panthers uniform, but Smith should step into a starting role with the Ravens and do what he does. Count on Smith, and don’t be afraid to draft him.

Darren Sproles

(New Orleans Saints -> Philadelphia Eagles)

The combination of Chip Kelly and Darren Sproles is a fantasy football dream. I expect Sproles to explode this year. I suspect Chip Kelly to use him in a variety of ways and gain a ton of yards with some scores here and there.

LeGarrette Blount

(New England Patriots -> Pittsburgh Steelers)

This is the perfect type of running back for the Steelers. A guy that can ground and pound the football, Blount is going to be a factor on the Steelers. Blount will be a goal-line back at the least, and he will be among the league leaders in touchdowns.

Golden Tate

(Seattle Seahawks -> Detroit Lions)

This definitely helps Tate because the Lions aren’t afraid to throw the ball, and Calvin Johnson will take away a lot of the coverage. If Matthew Stafford looks to his left, Tate should be open. His stock is up.

James Jones

(Green Bay Packers -> Oakland Raiders)

Jones is in a similar situation to Decker, except worse. Not only does he not have Aaron Rodgers anymore, he is going to the Raiders who haven’t had a successful passing season in a long time. His stock is down.