Start’em Sit’em Week 8
In addition to unwanted injury concerns, the equally unwelcome bye weeks continue to impact lineup decisions. This will be the first of two consecutive weeks in which players from six different teams will not be available. Those of you who own any Steelers, Giants, Ravens, Rams, Dolphins or 49ers cannot utilize them this week. If you are among the fortunate who are not dealing with any bye week issues in Week 8, you will soon be faced with your own absence of preferred starters. To help ease your transition through these remaining bye weeks, and avoid a sudden predicament from being unprepared, you can locate which teams are included in the most coming bye weeks directly below.
- Week 8 Byes: Baltimore, Los Angeles, Miami, New York Giants, Pittsburgh, San Francisco
- Week 9 Byes: Arizona, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, New England, Washington
- Week 10 Byes: Buffalo, Detroit, Indianapolis, Oakland
With that in mind, here are my Start‘Em Sit‘Em recommendations for Week 8. As always, no space will be devoted to elite players that you should already be planning to deploy. Instead, the focus will remain on the Start’em and Sit’em options that are more uncertain. Enjoy the games, and good luck this week.
Start QB Derek Carr at Buccaneers
At this point, there are a cluster of signal callers should be cemented into lineups on a weekly basis. (Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Drew Brees). Among the remaining quarterbacks, several frequently disappointing options are already on bye (Joe Flacco, Eli Manning), others will encounter unfavorable matchups (Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers, Dak Prescott), and one is simply not worth trusting moving forward (Blake Bortles). Fortunately, Carr emerges for any owner who is actively seeking an alternative this week. Even though his Week 7 production was modest (190 yards, one touchdown), Carr has performed proficiently during his third season, providing sound decision making, and impressive accuracy at critical moments. All while constructing a favorable 13:3 touchdown to interception ratio. He also resides 10th among all signal callers with 1,808 yards and should deliver a high-quality outing when he faces Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers’ pass defense surrendered 321 YPG and five touchdowns to the first two quarterbacks that they encountered this season, before being gifted with a series of fortunate matchups versus Case Keenum, Paxton Lynch, Derek Anderson and Colin Kaepernick. Despite not being severely tested since Week 2 due to the collection of favorable matchups, the Buccaneers have yielded 10 touchdowns through the air, along with 21 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Carr represents an upgrade in ability when compared to the list of signal callers that Tampa Bay has recently faced, and is a candidate for 300+ yards and several touchdowns on Sunday.
Sit QB Philip Rivers at Broncos
Rivers has done a commendable job of preserving a successful passing attack and generating fantasy points, despite the losses of several players that were considered critical to the team’s success when the season commenced. He has exceeded 320 yards four times, built a 13:4 touchdown to interception ratio, and just shredded the Falcons for 371 yards in Week 7. However, this week he will be confronted by the same Bronco defense that held him to a season-low 178 yards and one score when he faced them in Week 6.
Rivers’ output will be equally modest during this week’s rematch, as Denver’s league-best pass defense continues to smother opponents, has allowed just 182 YPG, and has yielded only four touchdowns. The Broncos also lead the NFL with 22 sacks, and will once again be an imposing unit for Rivers to contend with. It is noteworthy that the Chargers largely eschewed deep throws, in favor of a conservative approach that rarely challenged Denver’s elite secondary during their initial encounter. Which is another reason why owners will risk an excruciating experience if they opt to start Rivers this week.
Start RB Christine Michael at Saints
It is amazing to recall the considerable amount of time and energy that was expended by the fantasy community last summer, in an effort to break through the ambiguity regarding Seattle’s RB situation. Of course, Michael confiscated all doubt as the regular season unfolded, and firmly entrenched himself into his current role as the Seahawks’ primary runner. Before his season low 52-yard performance against Arizona in Week 7, Michael had generated at least 80 total yards in four consecutive games. However, the entire Seattle offense was shut down during that divisional battle with the Cardinals. But this week’s appealing matchup provides Michael with a better opportunity to produce a desirable number of fantasy points.
The exploitable New Orleans run defense is allowing 117 YPG, and has surrendered a league-high 11 touchdowns. The Saints also lead all teams in fantasy points allowed to running backs, while yielding 28 PPG. This unit will not keep Michael from providing owners with an outstanding performance.
Start RB Spencer Ware at Colts
Ware has now rumbled for at least 70 rushing yards in five of Kansas City’s six games this season after he accumulated 77 against the Saints in Week 7. He also collected 54 yards on two receptions, which included a 46-yard catch and run for a touchdown. He is now 11th among all rushers with 492 yards for the season, and his consistently impressive performances should affix him firmly within Andy Reid’s strategic approach during the Chiefs’ upcoming games. Particularly considering the prolonged recovery of Jamaal Charles, which has restricted him to 40 total yards all season. and severely limited his participation against New Orleans. Ware should remain highly productive this week when KC travels to Indianapolis. The Colts’ run defense ranks 25th and is allowing 119 YPG. They have also surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs (25 PPG), and have been gashed for 100+ yards by an opposing rusher in three consecutive contests (Jordan Howard 118, Lamar Miller 149, DeMarco Murray 107). Expect another excellent outing for Ware this week.
Sit RB Mark Ingram vs. Seahawks
This week he must contend with Seattle’s fifth-ranked assemblage of run defenders, who are yielding just 84 YPG, and have permitted only three touchdowns on the ground. The Seahawks have also surrendered 14 fantasy points per game to opposing rushers, which is the league’s fourth lowest total. Ingram will not deliver a sufficient amount of fantasy points to justify starting him on Sunday.
Sit RB Jordan Howard vs. Vikings
Howard quickly ascended from a rookie who could potentially seize a larger role, to inclusion within the select group of heavily utilized feature backs. But it appears that his stock has degenerated just as swiftly. In Weeks 4 and 5, he was allotted 45 touches, and accrued 295 total yards. But his workload was abruptly reduced, while Ka’Deem Carey’s expanded unexpectedly. In Week 7, Howard only manufactured 22 rushing yards, while being out-touched by Carey 11 to 7. That should provoke legitimate concern for owners after it appeared that Howard had earned extensive workloads on a weekly basis. Combine the murky situation with this week’s daunting matchup, and there is a sizable rationale for keeping him affixed to your benches.
Minnesota’s forbidding defense currently ranks third against the run and has limited opposing ground attacks to 82 YPG. They have only allowed two runners to attain 50 yards all season, and have yielded just one touchdown on the ground. It is premature to drop him, but equally unwise to utilize him this week.
Start WR DeAndre Hopkins vs. Lions
If you own Hopkins, then you almost assuredly invested your first draft pick in securing him. It was a reasonable decision, considering that he finished the 2015 regular season third among all receivers in targets, receptions, and yardage. Unfortunately, that hasn’t helped you this season, as he had only manufactured the NFL’s 41st highest yardage total (354) and was tied for 18th with 31 receptions before Houston’s Week 7 encounter with Denver. However, this week’s matchup could supply desperately needed tonic for discontented owners, as he could deliver his most productive outing of the season. He will line up against Detroit’s 23rd ranked pass defense, that has been shredded for a league-worst 18 touchdowns. The Lions have also allowed 100-yard performances to four receivers, and have given up at least 60 yards to nine different wideouts. Owners can embrace the experience of starting Hopkins with confidence this week.
Start WR Michael Crabtree at Buccaneers
The 29-year old Crabtree is now tied with Mike Evans for the NFL lead with six receiving touchdowns, after scoring on a two-yard throw from Carr in Week 7. He has also amassed at least 87 yards in four different contests this season, including the 90+ that he accrued against Jacksonville last Sunday. His output represented a sizable improvement from the meager 10 yards that he manufactured in Week 6. which was partially a consequence of the adverse weather that constrained Oakland’s usual aerial assault. Crabtree should supply favorable output again this week, as only three teams have surrendered more fantasy points to wide receivers than Tampa Bay. Not only are the Buccaneers yielding 27 PPG, but seven different wideouts have collected at least 70 yards against this unit, which has also permitted nine touchdowns through the air. Crabtree should draw coverage from rookie Vernon Hargreaves, who has performed reasonably well. However, Crabtree will still accumulate a desirable yardage total, and could easily produce another touchdown.
Sit WR Jeremy Maclin at Colts
Maclin has performed consistently this season. But unfortunately for his owners, the unending constant has been his disappointing production. He is averaging 55 YPG, has scored just once, and has exceeded 49 yards only once since Week 2. He also manufactured just 40 yards in Week 7, despite a legitimate opportunity to finally generate a highly productive outing. His discouraging output occurred versus a New Orleans pass defense that entered the contest ranked 30th, and had yielded the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers. This scenario was eerily similar to the substandard production that he supplied during his appealing matchups against the Jets, Steelers and Raiders. This week, he will line up against an Indianapolis pass defense that has played more proficiently since a series of poor performances in September. Only five teams are now allowing fewer fantasy points to wide receivers than the Colts (19.5 PPG), as Vontae Davis, in particular, has delivered several impressive outings. Maclin should draw Davis as he lines up on the right side, which hardly presents a favorable situation for the eighth-year wideout. Because he has failed to deliver for his owners even when presented with a series of enticing matchups, there is no reason for owners to count on him this week.
Sit WR Cameron Meredith vs. Vikings
Meredith owners had just begun entrusting him as a starter after he had exploded into fantasy relevance by collecting 20 receptions for 243 yards and a touchdown in Weeks 5-6. But now expectations must be adjusted after his output plummeted to just one 12-yard reception in Week 7. As Brian Hoyer’s broken arm, and Chicago’s out of sync passing attack limited Meredith only two targets. Now, he must attempt to replicate the rapport that he had forged with Hoyer, by gaining the confidence of Jay Cutler. Plus, he must contend with a stellar Viking pass defense that ranks fourth and is limiting opposing receivers to the second fewest fantasy points. He appears destined to draw Xavier Rhodes in coverage, which will diminish his already limited chances of being frequently targeted. Meredith has proven that he possesses talent. But he will not be able to showcase it this week.
Start TE C.J. Fiedorowicz vs. Lions
Sit TE Coby Fleener vs. Seahawks
Fleener was listed as a recommended sit in last week’s column and was ultimately limited to just two targets against the Chiefs. He did produce 44 yards, but that total was boosted sizable by a 30-yard catch. Otherwise, he was restricted by a Kansas City unit that has routinely smothered opposing tight ends. His owners should brace for the inevitability of a similar situation this week, as Fleener will encounter a Seattle unit that currently allows only five fantasy points per game to tight ends, and has yielded just one touchdown all season. It will be difficult for him to gain enough separation for Drew Brees to be comfortable in locating him with any frequency, which will be a continuation of the pattern that has dramatically impacted his output this season. As Fleener’s fluctuating yardage totals, have been a byproduct of his opportunities. The first-year Saint has generated at least 74 yards in the two contests during which he was allotted six+ targets, but also failed to reach 30 yards in three others when he was targeted three times or less. It may be difficult to avoid using Fleener considering the extensive bye week, but his output will be modest.