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NFC North Fantasy Preview: Defense is key in week 8

There are four games featuring NFC North teams this week so it’s a great week to stream some Vikings, Packers, Lions and Bears. Oh my!

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Green Bay Packers Wisconsin-USA TODAY NETWORK

The Green Bay Packers are back in action after their bye, so we have some great fantasy options coming back to the game this week.

Around the NFC North, we have four different games to choose from. Two of them could very well be shoot outs and are must-watch games this weekend. We’re taking a heavy look at some defenses this week because there are some solid ones in these matchups. In another heavy bye week, let’s take a look at who to sit and start in Week 8:

Seahawks @ Lions

Start: Seattle Defense; Kerryon Johnson, RB

I hate to sound like a hater because this is a Packers blog, it’s just that the Seahawks have been sneaky good on defense recently! They’re the fourth overall DVOA on defense while being 3rd against the pass. Be comfortable starting Kerryon Johnson because that might be the best way the Lions move the ball on the day. Johnson had an explosive game against the Dolphins in Week 7, running the ball 19 times for 158 yards. He’ll need to find the end zone from more than 10 yards out, though, because LeGarrette Blount continually vultures those goal line touchdowns.

Sit: Matthew Stafford, QB

Not much of a streaming option here. Per ESPN, he’s the 18th ranked fantasy quarterback, but the Seattle secondary has some playmakers that might make Stafford struggle. Seattle is middle-of-the-pack in terms of sacks (16), but they have nine picks and six forced fumbles. I’d hit the waiver wire.

Jets @ Bears

Start: Taylor Gabriel, WR

With Allen Robinson II currently listed as doubtful, this is a good start even if Robinson manages to get on the field. Being neutralized by New England shouldn’t scare you and I think Gabriel bounces back against the Jets. With an impressive 79 percent catch rate, Gabriel should get back to snagging some underneath routes. Trubisky really struggled to get things going down the field last week, but hopefully that connection comes back. During Gabriel’s best game in Week 4, he was used as a red zone option, which I’d like to see the Bears go to again.

Sit: Jordan Howard, RB

I’m not sure what the Bears are doing with Howard here. Tarik Cohen is great. He’s fast, he’s a weapon and you have to get him the ball. But Howard is a good running back, too! They haven’t been able to spring him open and continually run him into the back of the offensive line for short gains. At this point, he’s extremely dependent on scoring touchdowns so use caution with him this week.

Saints @ Vikings

Start: Latavius Murray, RB

Murray has enjoyed a nice couple of weeks with the absence of Dalvin Cook. However, his ceiling is limited to whether or not Cook can go. If Cook sits, Murray is a great option. Murray has enjoyed some pretty enticing matchups against the Cardinals and Jets. Now, the 6’3” back gets a tasty matchup against the Saints, who are ranked 29th in receiving DVOA against running backs. The Saints have been stout against the ground game, but they’re allowing 43.6 yards per game through the air to running backs.

Sit: Vikings Defense

The Vikings have been excellent as a fantasy defense over the past three weeks. They’ve scored 13, 17 and 16 points against the Eagles, Cardinals and Jets, respectively. But the Saints offense isn’t going to be as terrible as those offenses have looked. The last time the Vikings faced a high-powered offense (the Rams) the Vikings went negative in fantasy points. The Rams rank third in points per game; the Saints rank 2nd.

Packers @ Rams

Start: Geronimo Allison

Similar to the Vikings, you pretty much start all the regular stalwarts (Rodgers, Adams, Graham), but keep your eyes peeled for injury reports on Sunday morning for this one. Allison is reportedly on pace to play, but as we saw with Melvin Gordon last week, travel can have an effect on status. Before Allison got injured, three out of his four games played were double-digit performances. He’s likely a streaming option for a low-end flex coming off an injury, but I think Aaron Rodgers will be happy to get him back. Since the Rams are without Aqib Talib, Allison could see some opportunities.