As anyone who has played fantasy football knows, it’s good to know which way the wind blows. The ocean of fantasy assets stretches out before us and expands from horizon to horizon, making any thought of mapping it all out a daunting task. The AFC (or AF-Sea?) holds plenty of dark corners and treacherous pitfalls. It takes a true fantasy explorer to know how to navigate.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here! Only the strong can survive, and dead men tell no tales.

Each week, we brave souls enter the depths of the North, the East, the South, and the West, and send word as to what we find there. Is it treasure? Is it traps? Could it be glory and victory?

We break it all down for you right now.

AFC North Preview

Andrew Mendoza (@DFF_LeGrand)

What to Watch For:

Steelers seek to take a commanding lead of the AFC North

It was another wild week for the AFC North in Week 7, with all three active teams suffering bitter defeat, with the exception of the Steelers who had a bye. As we begin Week 8 of the 2018 NFL season, Pittsburgh looks to be in the driver’s seat as they prepare for a rematch with an ever-tenacious Browns squad that saw their Week 1 matchup end with a tie. While the Ravens and Bengals look to stay in contention moving forward, the Steelers now have the opportunity to distance themselves and stake their claim on top of the North with a win over the Browns this weekend.

Fantasy Impact Players:

Tyler Boyd/WR/Bengals

Following a disappointing performance in the mauling that took place at Arrowhead last week, Tyler Boyd will look to get back on track against a questionable Bucs defense in Week 8. While once in disarray, the Tampa Bay defense came out strong against the Browns last week and looked much different than in their previous performances, registering 5 sacks en route to an overtime victory. With John Ross out multiple weeks with a groin injury, look for Boyd to rebound from his 3-reception, 27-yard performance in a big way.

Projections: 8/75/1

David Njoku/TE/Browns

At this point, it is no secret, David Njoku is a weekly “set and forget” starter. Given the poor state of the position and his increasingly productive role in the offense, “the joker” is primed for a big second half of the season in the Browns offense, nearly 9 targets per game and scoring in back to back games. This week’s divisional matchup against the Steelers should instill all the more confidence in fantasy owners, as the once feared Steelers defense has allowed an NFL leading 46 receptions to tight ends through 7 weeks of play.

Projections: 6/46/1

James Conner/RB/Pittsburgh

In a Week 6 divisional matchup against the Bengals, James Conner produced a huge game with 111 yards and 2 TDs on 19 carries to go with 4 receptions for 18 yards. With still no sign of Le’Veon Bell, look for James Conner to continue his dominance on the ground against a tough, albeit lenient, Browns rush defense, giving up 134.7 yards per game. In a game where the Steelers can take a firm grasp on the division, look for Conner to shine.

Projections: Rushing: 22/121/2, Receiving: 5/23

Sleeper Alert:

Willie Snead/WR/Ravens

With at least 7 targets in the last 4 games and a solid catch rate on the year, look for Snead to have a productive game following a disappointing performance against his former team, the Saints. With Carolina giving up 260 passing yards per game, Snead will be given an excellent opportunity to find open space out of the slot alongside John Brown and Michael Crabtree. While he hasn’t put up huge numbers on the year, Snead’s production has been consistent enough to warrant flex consideration in what should be a solid game for the Ravens offense.

Projection: 6/60/1

Game Predictions:

Browns – 24 @ Steelers – 28

Bengals – 21 vs Buccaneers – 31

Ravens – 28 @ Panthers – 21

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AFC South Preview

Mitch Lawson (@DFF_MitchLawson)

What to Watch For:

Is Marlon Mack an RB2 Now?

Mack had a brilliant return on Sunday, shredding the Bills en route to 159 total yards and 2 TDs. It was his second straight game average over 6 YPC and he looked 100% healthy the whole time.

But was this a product of facing the lowly Jets and Bills? Or is he primed for RB2 value ROS? This week against the Raiders won’t necessarily answer the opponent quality concern, but it will be important for Mack owners to see another double-digit output from Mack.

Fantasy Impact Players:

T.Y. Hilton/WR/Indianapolis Colts

While Hilton has been solid all year, he’s hardly been elite. That could all change this week against the spiraling Raiders. If the Raiders can keep the game within two scores, Hilton could be a Top 5 WR this week.

Projections: Rushing – 11/155/2 TDs

Blake Bortles/QB/Jacksonville Jaguars

Bortles was named the starter for Week 8’s game in London despite being benched in favor of Kessler in week 7. He’ll need to have a great game if he’s going to instill any confidence from his coaches. But it will be tough, and I expect this goes down as another bad game for Blake.

Projections: 18-32 / 178 Yards / 1 TD / 3 INTs

Will Fuller/WR/Houston Texans

With Keke Coutee likely out for Week 8, Fuller should be free to do his damage as the secondary option in this offense. The Dolphins will give him far more room to work than Jacksonville did last week, and Fuller is a good bet to have his first game of 75 yards or more since Week 2.

Projection: 8/94/1

Sleeper Alert:

Ryan Griffin/TE/Houston Texans

Griffin had to sit out Week 7’s game against the Jaguars with an illness, but he’s expected back this week against the Dolphins. With Coutee out, Griffin could find himself with more on his plate.  In his last full game, he had 6 catches for 65 yards.

Projection: 6/82/1

Game Predictions:

Houston – 34 vs. Miami – 23

Indianapolis – 38 @ Oakland – 19

Jacksonville – 10 @ Philadelphia – 38  (London)

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AFC East Preview

Chris Smith (@Chrisheatcanes)

What to Watch For:

Well, this division has not been nice to your fantasy football team at all. Sony Michel gets hurt which could kill some teams if you didn’t get the running back committee. The Bills have been a dream for opposing defenses, but that’s is about it. The Jets and Miami have been a mystery at best. But no need to worry as I have some fantasy gold for you this week. Too bad you are going to need a magnifying glass to see it. Let’s dive in and see what we can find.

Fantasy Impact Players:

Danny Amendola/WR/ Miami Dolphins

OK, Miami lost two starting wide receivers last week and Brock Osweiler has developed some chemistry with the former Patriot. Look for a lot more targets to go Danny’s way this week. He is owned in 24% of fantasy leagues so grab him off the waiver wire if you in need for a wide receiver.

Projections 7/90/1

Christopher Herndon IV/TE/ New York Jets

This is all I have for the Jets at the tight end position that has struggled all season. Herndon is a good option since the Jets have hurt receivers all over the place. If the Jets score touchdowns this week, there is a good chance Herndon will have one of them.

Projections 5/60/1

Julian Edelman/WR/New England Patriots

Edelman should see a major target increase with the injuries the Patriots are going through this week. It should look like normal for this team based on the last few years with Edelman which mean 15 targets. I know this makes those Julian stashers very happy.

Projections 9/110/1

Sleeper Alert:

Kenjon Barner/RB/New England Patriots

With Sony Michel hurt, and the Buffalo Bills historical struggles with the Patriots, expect good output from Barner this week. The Patriots are always “next-man -up” so, unless they pick up a running back name worth mentioning, expect Barner to have some nice production this week.

Projections Rushing 15/70/1 Receiving 5/35/1

Defense/New England Patriots

Well, if you haven’t been doing this week-in and week-out, you should be streaming defenses that the Buffalo Bills play. The offensive line is terrible and they can’t run-block or pass-protect. So ,this will be a game which should give the Patriots defense a boost in fantasy rankings.

Projections 18 points

Game Predictions:

Miami 17 Texans 21

Jets 13 Bears 24

Bills 10 Patriots 35

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AFC West Preview

Anthony Zaragoza (@ZaragozaAnthony)

What to Watch For:

Who steps up for Oakland this weekend?

It was a crazy bye week for the Silver and Black. In a 24-hour period, the Raiders placed Marshawn Lynch on the IR for his groin injury and traded away the talented but very inconsistent wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys. Now, the Raiders will trot out a much different looking team this weekend versus the Colts. Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant and Seth Roberts will now lead the group of wide receivers for the foreseeable future and Doug Martin and Jalen Richard will take over for the injured Lynch in the backfield. The Colts present a nice matchup for some of the skill position players this weekend, so don’t sleep on the Raiders. Jared Cook, Nelson and Doug Martin will have expanded roles on Sunday.

Fantasy Impact Players:

Jared Cook/TE/Oakland Raiders

With Cooper out of the picture, Derek Carr is going to rely heavily on his big-bodied tight end the rest of the way. Jared Cook was already leading the team in yards and receptions through Week 7, so an uptick of targets and red zone opportunities are definitely in the future for Cook. Start with confidence this weekend.

Projections: 7/80/1

Demaryius Thomas/WR/Denver Broncos

Teammate Emmanuel Sanders has been on fire this season, but a matchup with the Chiefs favors the big wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. Last week, AJ Green dominated the Chiefs secondary to the tune of 7 receptions for 111 yards, while slot WR Tyler Boyd was limited to only three catches. Thomas fits that billing in this matchup and should get plenty of targets on Sunday.

Projections: 6/90/1

Kareem Hunt/RB/Kansas City Chiefs

The Denver Broncos have been absolutely garbage against the run this season. The Broncos are in the bottom-five in yards-allowed, touchdowns-given-up and yards-per-carry so far this season. And if you needed more reason to love Kareem Hunt on Sunday, the Chiefs RB has been on fire the last four weeks (6 TDs and 595 yards of total offense). Get ready for another monster day from Hunt.

Projections: Rushing – 18/95/1 Receiving – 5/50/1

Sleeper Alert:

Doug Martin/RB/Oakland Raiders

While he was healthy, Marshawn Lynch was a solid fantasy option this season. Lynch actually scored double figures in four- of the six-games he played in 2018. So, even though Jalen Richard is getting all of the hype as the player to pick up in the backfield, Martin is more in the mold of player than Head Coach Jon Gruden likes as a “power back.” Don’t be surprised if Martin finds the end zone against the Colts.

Projection: Rushing – 15/60/1 Receiving – 2/15

Game Predictions:

Denver Broncos 20, Kansas City Chiefs 34

Oakland Raiders 24, Indianapolis Colts 28

BYE: Los Angeles Chargers

mlawson

@DFF_MitchLawson / Writer, Editor & Analyst for @DFF_Redraft & @DFF_Dynasty. #DFFArmy #FantasyFootball. Canadian. Occasionally witty, stay tuned

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