Week 8 NFL Fantasy Sleepers
The definition of what a Fantasy Football Sleeper is, really depends on the type of owner you are, and the type of fantasy league you’re in. For the extent of this article series, I’m going to be suggesting players that you may not be considering for Week 8.
Week 7 was not as sleeper dominant in the top 15 overall fantasy scoring leaders rankings as we were accustomed to seeing through the first six games of the 2017 season. In fact, Josh McCown, only being started in 12.6 of ESPN fantasy leagues entering Week 8, was the first sleeper to appear on the list at the eighth spot with 24.5 points.
Most-Productive Players from Week 7
Sleepers Week 7: Full-Disclosure
|Player||Pos.||Rank||Points||PPR Rank||PPR Points|
The following is a recap of the players from my Week 7 Fantasy Football Sleepers article. You can read that here.
Entering Week 8, some fantasy owners may be forced to shop the waiver wire due to a handful of notable injuries around the league. With players that include Carson Palmer, Jay Cutler, and Delanie Walker all succumbing to injuries last week, be sure to check out Andrew Erickson’s Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 8 to assist you with filling the vacant holes on your fantasy rosters. You can read that here.
Week 8 Byes: Cardinals, Giants, Jaguars, Packers, Rams, Titans
Trick or Treat! Here are my Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week Eight.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 35.8
Philip Rivers began to climb out of sleeper consideration a few weeks back. However, after posting a 20.4 FPPG average in Weeks 4 and 5, Rivers stalled, only accumulating a 14.8 FPPG average in his last two. Entering Sunday’s matchup with the Patriots as fantasy football’s QB9 with 108.7 points — he’s thrown for 1,816 yards, 12 touchdowns, and five interceptions while completing 60.9 percent of his passes — Rivers is a must-start for Week 8.
So, why is he featured in my sleepers column? Easy answer: Rivers is only being started in 35.8 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues, which is an absurdly low number for a top 10 fantasy QB. However, while his production puts him in the QB1 conversation, he is not an every-week fantasy starter at this point in his career. It’s his extremely favorable matchup facing a Patriots defense surrendering the most fantasy points to QBs that is bolstering his Week 8 upside. Plus, as if things couldn’t get any worse for New England on the defensive side of the football, they learned that standout linebacker Dont’a Hightower tore his pec and will miss the remainder of the 2017 season. His loss is a tremendous blow to an already weakened unit for his contributions on the field and as a leader.
With a slew of healthy pass-catchers that include Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams and Hunter Henry, plus, the emergence of Melvin Gordon as a rusher and a reliable receiver out of the backfield — he’s the RB4 with 133.2 points in PPR — Rivers should be started in all formats without hesitation. In what is expected to be a high-scoring affair — the over/ under for the game is 48 — the stars are in line for Rivers to record at least 20 fantasy points in Week 8.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 13.6
Will the real Andy Dalton please stand up? But seriously, who is he in 2017? Well, through six games, he’s the QB27 with 74.8 fantasy points. However, looking deeper into it, he’s had terrible matchups for a player of his caliber — he’s played Baltimore, Houston, Green Bay, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh so far — and let’s face it, Dalton isn’t the QB who is going to produce big-time numbers in a tough spot, at least not this year.
Nonetheless, I’m here telling you to start Dalton in Week 8. Why? Sunday’s matchup against Indianapolis should not be ignored. Not only do they surrender the sixth-most fantasy points to QBs at a 19.2 FPPG rate, but they allowed Blake Bortles to appear efficient last week — that’s a task in itself. Moreover, a rejuvenated A.J. Green, who is fantasy’s WR3 with 56.4 points since Week 3, will also bolster Dalton’s odds of having a productive outing. With star safety Malik Hooker out for the year with a torn ACL and MCL, Vontae Davis will have his hands full trying to contain the Pro Bowl wideout on the outside. As a result of Hooker’s absence, I expect Dalton to exploit an already defunct and now wounded Colts secondary. He is an upside QB2, who has thrown seven TD passes in his last three games, in an outstanding Week 8 matchup.
Running Back Sleepers
Bilal Powell / Matt Forte
ESPN Start-Percentage: Powell 36.8% | Forte 18.1%
No! You’re not seeing things. This isn’t a Halloween trick! I like both Jets RBs this week. Since Matt Forte (knee/ toe) and Bilal Powell (calf) recovered from their respective early season injuries, the once fantasy-relevant Elijah McGuire faded back to obscurity. So much so that he only received three touches last week while Forte led the team with 12 followed by Powell’s 11. It is safe to say that the Jets will employ a two-headed monster at RB consisting of Forte and Powell moving forward. Sitting as the RB25 (Powell) and RB46 (Forte) with 51.5 and 31.5 fantasy points respectively, both Powell and Forte could be in line for productive fantasy outings in Sunday’s matchup with Atlanta.
After finishing 2016 ranked second in total offense and first in total points, the Falcons’ offense has struggled in 2017. Through six games, they’re ranked 14th in total net yards and 22nd in points scored with 128. Although Atlanta’s misfortunes improve New York’s chances of winning, the Falcons have the weapons that include Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman in place to go off at any moment. If the Ryan-led offense finds its rhythm and they blow this game open, the Jets would be playing from behind. In that scenario, Josh McCown will be forced to pass the ball more often, which plays to the strengths of Powell and Forte. They are both excellent receivers out of the backfield.[the_ad id=”72096″][the_ad id=”69556″]
However, even if the Falcons struggle, I still believe Powell and Forte will be effective. Since this is a home matchup for the Jets, they will likely try to grind the clock in an attempt to keep the ball away from Atlanta’s stalled but explosive offense, which translates to a greater workload for their dynamic duo of RBs. No matter the game-flow, this could ultimately be a week in which both Powell and Forte accumulate double-digit fantasy points. Facing a Falcons defense yielding the sixth-most fantasy points to RBs giving up 20.5 FPPG, both Powell and Forte are in the Flex conversation for Week 8.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 13.8
Coming off of his Week 7 bye, Theo Riddick is an intriguing fantasy option for Sunday night’s primetime matchup against the Steelers. While the Pittsburgh defense is outstanding versus the pass — they are the top-ranked unit in that category — they are very much softer against the run — they’re the 20th ranked unit in rushing yards allowed. However, rushing production doesn’t mean much for Riddick since he is Detroit’s primary receiver out of the backfield. We should really be focusing on the receiving production allowed to opposing RBs. While Pittsburgh is ranked sixth in receptions (40) and 16th in yards, they have yet to surrender a receiving TD to a running back this season. As a result, I like Riddick’s chances of maintaining his 9.8 FPPG average in PPR formats in his last two games.
Speaking of his last two contests, although Ameer Abdullah is out-touching Riddick 25-to-13, the former is leading the pair in snaps 65-to-59 as well as in PPR fantasy production 19.6-to-9.8 in that time span. Moreover, the Lions’ offense is expected to be without leading receiver Golden Tate, who remains limited at practice with a shoulder injury. If Tate is designated inactive, his absence could result in an expanded target-share for Riddick. Facing a Steelers defense ranked 12th in fantasy production allowed to RBs yielding 18.8 FPPG, Riddick is an opportunity-dependent Flex option in PPR scoring formats for Week 8.
Wide Receiver Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 35.2
Although Atlanta’s passing attack is struggling through the first half of the year — they’re ranked 15th in total net passing yards — Mohamed Sanu has been one of their most consistent pass-catchers. In five games — he missed one contest with a hamstring injury — Sanu has accumulated a 22-228-1 stat line while averaging 10.4 YPC. As a result, he is fantasy’s WR54 with 51.2 points in PPR scoring formats.
In his upcoming matchup with the Jets, Sanu should be viewed a reliable fantasy asset. Despite only finding the end zone once this season, Sanu has caught at least four passes in four of his five appearances while managing 5.7 targets per game, which is good for second on the team to Julio Jones‘ 8.3. While he is expected to maintain his target-share facing a New York defense conceding the eighth most fantasy points to WRs giving up 22.1 FPPG, Sanu is a quality Flex option in PPR scoring formats for Week 8. While expectations should be tempered, I remain confident that Sanu will sustain his 10.2 FPPG average in PPR on Sunday.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 17.0
While Jamison Crowder has been one of the most frustrating WRs in fantasy football thus far in 2017 — he is the WR96 with dismal 12.3 fantasy points — he is entering a favorable matchup with the NFC East division-rival Cowboys on Sunday, a team that he’s excelled against in his career. In four games, he’s accumulated a 22-265-2 stat line while averaging 12.05 YPC. As a result, Crowder should be considered a deployable fantasy option for Week 8.
Why? Well, although his numbers are terrible, Washington has a boatload of uncertainty at wide receiver, especially since they benched Terrelle Pryor in favor of Josh Doctson Monday night. Due to their struggles, Kirk Cousins may elect to lean on Crowder, his teammate since 2015 and a familiar face who he’s shared success with.
Coming off of a game against the Eagles in which he played a team-high 58 offensive snaps and drew six targets, which were good for second on the team to Jordan Reed’s 10, things appear to be trending in the right direction for Crowder’s fantasy outlook for the rest of the year. Producing an eye-popping 19-236-2 stat line against the Cowboys in their past three matchups, Crowder appears poised to finally break out. Facing an inconsistent Dallas defense surrendering the sixth-most fantasy points to WRs at a 23.1 FPPG rate, Crowder is an upside Flex option for Week 8.
Tight End Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 44.9
Jared Cook finally rewarded his fantasy owners who held on to him throughout an erratic start to the 2017 campaign. Through the first seven games, the veteran tight end has only posted double-digit fantasy points twice. While he tallied 10.3 fantasy points in Week 3, he is coming off of a Week 7 outing against the Chiefs in which he caught six targets for 107 yards. He finished as the TE7 with 10.7 fantasy points on seven targets.
While Cook has started slowly — he has only hauled in 27 receptions for 316 yards and his lone TD — he is tied with Michael Crabtree for second on the team in targets with 41 to Amari Cooper’s team-leading 58. Clearly, the opportunities are there for Cook. However, while I expect Derek Carr to continue targeting him, it’s up to the under-achieving tight end to make something out of the influx of targets in the games ahead.
In his upcoming matchup in Buffalo, Cook will attempt to build off of his uplifting Week 7 performance. However, although the Bills’ defense performs better at home, Cook could still beat a unit that is allowing the 10th most fantasy points to TEs surrendering 8.8 FPPG off of a 37-406-2 stat-line. With six teams on a bye, Cook is a viable fantasy option, who should be started with tempered expectations, in Week 8.
ESPN-Start-Percentage: 25.9[the_ad id=”71961″]Although Tyler Eifert opened the 2017 season as the Bengals’ TE1, the injury-prone tight end didn’t make it through two games before suffering a season-ending back injury. Now on the injured reserve list, the door is open for Tyler Kroft to continue his success on top of Cincinnati’s TE depth chart. Since taking over for Eifert as the starter in Week 3, Kroft is fantasy’s TE10 with 33.7 points off of a 17-157-3 stat line in that four-game time span.
In his upcoming matchup against the Colts, Kroft will attempt to expose a defense ranked ninth in fantasy production surrendered to TEs at a 9 FPPG rate. Scoring at least one TD in two of his past three games, Kroft is a quality fantasy option, with back-end TE1 upside, for Week 8.
A player like Kroft is labeled a tournament-buster in DFS formats, especially with the opportunity he has in his upcoming matchup. For more extensive DFS knowledge, check out Mike Hauff’s Draft Kings Primer for Week 8. You can read that here.
Two Sleepers If You’re Desperate
ESPN Start-Percentage: 6.7
Since Martavis Bryant was informed that he will be a healthy scratch for Sunday’s matchup with the Lions, JuJu Smith-Schuster’s name has been trending amongst the fantasy industry. However, this isn’t breaking news. Smith-Schuster has been an upside ROS waiver-wire add in recent weeks. Why? Well, although some experts (not including me) believed he would be a sure-fire WR2 in an explosive offense this season, Bryant is turning out to be one of this year’s biggest busts. While only hauling in 18 targets for 234 yards and a TD, he is fantasy’s WR54 with 31.6 points. Between his inefficient production on the field and his disruptive actions off of it, Bryant warrants his demotion.
Filling Bryant’s void will likely be Smith-Schuster, a promising rookie. Although Bryant is out-snapping (321-to-308), out-catching (18-to-17) and out-gaining (234-to-231) Smith-Schuster, the rookie is edging out the troubled veteran in TDs 3-to-1. As a result, Smith-Schuster, only owned in 19.9 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues, is fantasy’s WR40 with 41.1 points. Bryant is the WR54 with 31.6. Albeit they are marginal differences, it is worth noting that Smith-Schuster’s highly-anticipated emergence shouldn’t really shock anyone.
Scoring a TD in three of his past six games while likely garnering an expanded role moving forward, Smith-Schuster is a desperation Flex option for Week 8. He’ll hold strong TD upside facing a Lions defense that surrenders the 14th most fantasy points to WRs at a 20 FPPG rate. If they gameplan to contain Antonio Brown, Smith-Schuster could see plenty of open opportunities to exploit, which could translate to a double-digit performance.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 4.0
It doesn’t get any more shot in the dark than Jamaal Charles entering Sunday’s matchup against the Chiefs, his former team with whom he spent the first nine years of his career while establishing himself as one of the league’s top RBs. However, times have changed. Charles is now a member of the opposing Broncos, who has contributed very sparingly in his short time with his new club. Through six games, he’s only rushed for 196 yards and a TD on 42 carries while adding 43 yards on eight receptions as a receiver. Being employed as C.J. Anderson’s primary backup, Charles is the RB53 with 27.9 fantasy points.
That being said, here’s why you should consider starting Charles this week. As per usual, following a great start to the year in which he compiled 40.5 fantasy points in his first three contests — he was the RB10 in that time span — Anderson began to regress. Since Week 4, he is fantasy’s RB43 with only 19 points in three games. While Anderson and the rest of Denver’s offense continue to struggle, they are in need of a spark to get out of their rut. What better spark could there be than expanding Charles’ workload in his return to Arrowhead? If you’re truly desperate at RB, Charles is an extreme boom or bust option for Week 8.
Thank you for reading about my sleepers for Week 8. I hope you enjoyed it! Want more? Mike Hauff and I debate fantasy football news, notes and yes, sleepers, on our show, the Faceoff, a Gridiron Experts podcast. Check it out. Oh, and before I forget, we will answer your questions on our show! All you have to do is Tweet us with your question @FFfaceoff.[the_ad id=”73518″][the_ad id=”61518″]
Other Articles You May Like:
- Fantasy Football Rankings Week 8
- Start’em Sit’em Week 8
- Fantasy Football Buy Low Sell High Week 8
- DraftKings NFL Week 8 Picks
- The Empire Podcast EP24: Investment players and DFS Sleepers
- Week 8 NFL Power Rankings
- DRAFT Exclusive Offer! FREE T-Shirt Giveaway
Anthony Cervino is a lifelong NFL enthusiast, especially of the Dallas Cowboys. He has been infatuated with the game since childhood and was introduced to fantasy football as a young teen. Back then, the league commissioner typed out the weekly newsletter and used the Daily News to tally scores. In a statistic-driven game of fantasy football, Anthony believes that sometimes you have to rely on that good ole gut instinct. Anthony resides in New Jersey where he lives with his wife, son and a pomeranian that is named Roman (after Tony Romo). When Anthony is not immersed in the NFL or fantasy football related activities, he enjoys bodybuilding and spending time with his family. Anthony is committed to giving you his best analysis and most accurate statistics to help you win championships. Don’t hesitate to tweet Anthony @therealnflguru about anything NFL or fantasy-related topics. He will always respond in a timely fashion.