Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 8
It only took seven weeks, but Aaron Rodgers finally looked like Aaron Rodgers in last week’s win over Oakland in which he threw for 429 yards and five touchdowns, adding another score rushing. He managed to light up the Raiders sans Davante Adams and with a Geronimo Allison and Marquez Valdes-Scantling duo who were true game-time decisions. With the Packers finally building a competent defense to pair with the elite signal caller’s offense, the Packers are legit Super Bowl contenders out of the NFC.
Before we move on to my sleepers, I also want to shout out the Patriots and 49ers, who both made splash trades this week to bolster their receiving corps for a championship run. The Patriots dealt a second-round pick to the reeling Falcons for Mohamed Sanu, a player they were targeting since the NFL draft but Atlanta believed they would be a contender this year and wouldn’t move him at the time. Fast forward seven months and the Patriots got their guy while the Falcons are trying to figure out who their next head coach will be. With Josh Gordon on IR and poised to be cut, Sanu is the new WR2 on the Patriots behind Julian Edelman. For fantasy, Sanu could be an Edelman 2.0 in this offense.
The 49ers made a move to acquire Emmanuel Sanders from the Broncos. While Sanders flashed with Joe Flacco, he couldn’t sustain quality fantasy production in Denver. With the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo, Sanders is primed to step up his game. No, the 49ers haven’t really featured the wide receiver position this season, but they didn’t really have the guy to build a package for. Before getting Sanders, their “best” wideouts were first and second-year second-round picks — Dante Pettis and Deebo Samuel — who may not be ready for the prominent role. Not only will Sanders give Kyle Shanahan a reliable receiver to feature in his offense, but the veteran wideout will also be a tremendous help to a young locker room. He will teach the young receivers how to be pros and fine-tune their game while also bringing Super Bowl experience to a team that believes they can win one in 2019.
The following is a recap of the players from my Week 7 Fantasy Football Sleepers article. You can read that here.
Most-Productive Players from Week 7
On the top 15 overall fantasy scoring leaderboard, there are six players being started in fewer than 40 percent of leagues at ESPN that finished amongst the best fantasy performers last week (Kirk Cousins, Jacoby Brissett, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chase Edmonds, Zach Pascal, Matthew Stafford). While some of the aforementioned players may not be quality starts in Week 8, they were sleepers in Week 7 who went off and could make their way into your fantasy lineups again in the right situation.
Fantasy Sleepers Week 7: Full-Disclosure
|Player||Position||PPR Rank||PPR Points|
Have some tough start/ sit decisions for Week 8? Don’t sweat! My co-host at the FF Faceoff Podcast, Mike Hauff, has you covered with his weekly Start’em/ Sit’em column featured exclusively at Gridiron Experts. You can read that here.
- Jacoby Brissett was coming off his Week 7 bye heading into an outstanding matchup with the Texans. Only being started in fewer than 30 percent of fantasy leagues, Brissett lit up Houston with a 326/4/0 stat line and a QB4 finish.
- I had Chase Edmonds in my sleepers column last week anticipating a limited workload for David Johnson. While I didn’t see Johnson being completely shut down, it worked out for all those who started Edmonds as he finished as the RB1 with 35 fantasy points.
- With Alvin Kamara ruled out, Latavius Murray balled out on the road against a Bears defense that seems to be missing something. The once elite defense, especially against the run, allowed Murray to blow up for 32 fantasy points and an overall RB2 finish.
Week 8 QB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 9.5
Coming off their Week 7 bye, the Steelers will get Mason Rudolph back — he was dealing with a concussion — for Monday Night Football’s matchup with the Dolphins. And while Rudolph had a rough outing against the Ravens in Week 5 in which he threw for 131 yards and a touchdown before exiting the game with a concussion — he finished with 10.6 fantasy points — he played well in the three games leading up to it. Beginning in Week 2 in relief of Ben Roethlisberger, Rudolph put up 14.3, 18.2 and 19.2 fantasy points sequentially from Weeks 2-4 with a 6:2 touchdown to interception ratio in that time span.
On Monday night, Rudolph will get a Miami defense allowing the second-most fantasy points to the QB position at a 24.4 FPPG rate. In fact, outside of Case Keenum back in Week 6, the Dolphins yielded at least 21.3 points to the other five QBs they faced this season and a least two touchdowns passing in all six games played. If Xavien Howard and Reshad Jones are both out again this week, the Dolphins’ secondary would be without their two best starting DBs, which bolsters Rudolph’s fantasy outlook. However, even if they play, the Steelers QB should thrive considering his pass-catching weapons that include speedy play-maker JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Vance McDonald, and James Conner, who is a quality pass-catching back. The Steelers just plain out-match the Dolphins in all phases. If you’re in a bind, and you could be with Dak Prescott and Lamar Jackson on their bye week as well as all the injuries at QB around the league, Rudolph could be your best option on the waiver wire.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 3.7
When the Titans signed Ryan Tannehill this offseason, I said that he should be the Week 1 starter. I mean, after all, you don’t bring in a quality quarterback — when healthy in Miami, he had a winning record with Adam Gase — behind your perennially struggling starter (Marcus Mariota) without the intention of making a change. And while the Titans elected to wait until Week 7 to officially pull the trigger — the Titans pulled Mariota in favor of Tannehill in Week 6 but didn’t name him the starter until Week 7 — through one game, it appears to be a wise choice.
In his first start of the season, Tannehill threw for a 312/2/1 QB stat line while completing 79.3 percent of his passes against the Chargers and finished with 24.3 fantasy points. Now, Tannehill will look to continue his attempt at career-resurrection in Sunday’s Week 8 encounter with the Buccaneers, who are extremely gracious to the opposing QB. Currently, Tampa Bay is yielding the sixth-most fantasy points to enemy QBs at a 21.4 FPPG rate. And while they played well in the first two games of the year, holding Jimmy Garoppolo and Cam Newton to fewer than 16.7 fantasy points, they’ve fallen apart since.
From Weeks 3-6, the Buccaneers allowed at least 19.7 fantasy points to every QB they’ve faced including three consecutive games of at least 32.4 points from Weeks 3-5 to Daniel Jones, Jared Goff, and Teddy Bridgewater. The Week 6 19.7-point outing was to Kyle Allen in London. Facing a Tampa Bay defense that has allowed 51 percent more fantasy points to the enemy QB over the 21.2-point NFL average in the past five weeks, Tannehill as fringe QB1 upside for Week 8.
Week 8 RB Fantasy Sleepers
Ty Johnson | J.D. McKissic
ESPN Start-Percentage: 31.6 | 1.8
While Ty Johnson is viewed as the immediate replacement for Kerryon Johnson, I wouldn’t completely rule out J.D. McKissic. Both should be involved with the bulk of Kerryon Johnson’s touches going in Ty Johnson’s favor. However, since Ty Johnson is a rookie and McKissic has experience in Lions OC Darrell Bevell’s system from their time together in Seattle, there is a chance McKissic is a little bit more involved than initially anticipated, especially if the rookie struggles.
Regardless, I believe both Johnson and McKissic could return quality fantasy outings this week against the Giants. Not only are the Giants allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to enemy RBs at a 22.6 FPPG rate, but they have allowed 10 different backs to accumulate at least 10 PPR fantasy points against them in seven games this season. Moreover, the Giants have allowed 52.7 percent more fantasy points to enemy RBs above the 24.2-point league average in the past three weeks and 24.3 percent more fantasy points than the 24.4-point NFL average in the past five. While both Johnson and McKissic are viewed as opportunity-needy Flex options, Johnson has a higher ceiling due to his presumed volume role.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 31.2
David Johnson, who is dealing with ankle and back injuries, has yet to practice this week and looks like he could be ruled out for Sunday’s matchup with the Saints. And if Johnson sits or is limited again this week, Chase Edmonds is a slam dunk start. With Johnson only being used in emergency situations last week against the Giants — Johnson had one touch — Edmonds went ballistic. Finishing with 150 total yards and three TDs on 29 touches, Edmonds was Week 7’s RB1 in fantasy. However, Edmonds has been hot even before last week’s blow-up. Not only has he scored a TD in each of the past three games and six collectively in that time period, but he’s also returned at least 14.8 PPR points in each of those games as well.
While Edmonds isn’t getting the greatest matchup this week at the Saints, I’m going to err on the side of momentum. Although the Saints are allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to RBs at a mere rate of 12.1 FPPG, they have given up at least 10.1 PPR fantasy points to six different backs this season. What’s more, they have allowed an RB to accumulate at least six receptions in three of their past four games (Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette, Tarik Cohen). If Johnson sits this week, Edmonds could return RB2 upside. However, if Johnson plays, Edmonds would then be downgraded to scoring-dependent fantasy play against a Saints’ defense that has only allowed three TDs to the running back position this year.
Benny Snell Jr.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 1.8
With Jaylen Samuels out and James Conner dealing with a quad injury, Benny Snell Jr. could be in line for a solid workload. Sure, Conner is expected to play and assume his usual role as the Pittsburgh RB1, but that doesn’t mean Snell won’t hold value, especially in his Monday night matchup with the Dolphins. When Snell was given the opportunity in his last game against the Chargers, he performed well both as the change of pace option behind Conner as well as when the starter left the game with his quad injury. Finishing Week 6 with 75 yards on 17 carries while securing his lone target for 14 yards, Snell proved to be an effective option when called upon.
Now, Snell will get a Dolphins defense yielding the second-most fantasy points to the RB position at a rate of 26 FPPG. And while the Dolphins played well last week against the Bills — they didn’t allow a Bills RB to accumulate more than 7.6 PPR fantasy points, the first time they accomplished that feat this season — they surrendered at least 11.9 PPR points to eight different backs in the previous five games. If the Steelers build up a lead as they did in Week 6 against the Chargers, it will open up expanded touches for Snell as they will likely want to rest Conner and get him fully healthy. Snell is a speculative opportunity-needy Flex option for Week 8 who could return back-end RB2 upside if he scores.
Week 8 WR Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 23.8
With Will Dissly out, D.K. Metcalf is emerging as Seattle’s No.2 pass-catching threat behind Tyler Lockett, which was the expected outcome even if the tight end was still in the lineup. And while Metcalf has played well at times this season, he has yet to really go-off. In seven games, Metcalf has scored at least 11.3 PPR points in four of them accumulating at least four receptions or a touchdown in those matchups. He’s also drawn at least five targets 5-of-7 games played in 2019, which shows that the opportunity is there. While Seattle may make a move to acquire a receiver or a tig end ahead of the trade deadline, the time is now for Metcalf to solidify himself as Russell Wilson’s No. 2 option.
In his upcoming matchup at the Falcons, Metcalf will get a reeling defense surrendering the fifth-most fantasy points to WRs at a 28.0 FPPG rate. Not only have they allowed 11 different WRs to accumulate at least 10.9 PPR points in seven games this season, but they have also allowed 48.3 percent more fantasy points above the 33.3-point NFL average in the past three weeks and 41.3 percent more points than the 33.8-point league average in the past five. Likely getting 129th ranked CB Isaiah Oliver in coverage, Metcalf, who is ranked 19th in deep targets (10) and fourth in yards per reception (19.4) is a high-end Flex option with middling WR2 upside for Week 8 if he scores.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 18.1
With Will Fuller set to miss extended time with a hamstring injury, Kenny Stills is in line for an expanded role in the high-flying Texans passing attack. Sure, Keke Coutee will also be involved, but Stills is a tad closer to Fuller’s skillset with his big-play ability and speed. In three of five games played for the Texans this season, Stills has been money, scoring at least 12.7 PPR points in those games. And while he has not scored a TD since Week 1, he’s accumulated at least four receptions for 89 yards in his other two splash games, including a 4/105/0 line on five targets in last week’s win over the Colts. What’s more, Stills had garnered at least five targets in two of his past three games with Fuller healthy. Now with Fuller out, Stills’ target share should trend upwards, which bolsters his overall fantasy value.
In his upcoming matchup with the Raiders, Still should blow up. Not only are the Raiders yielding the second-most fantasy points to enemy WRs at a 29.5 FPPG rate, but they have also allowed 11 different wideouts to accumulate at least 10.9 PPR points against them in six games this season and 31.6 percent more fantasy points above the 33.3-point NFL average in the past three weeks. A scoring threat any time he catches the ball downfield, Stills could return middling WR2 upside or better in Week 8.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 8.0
I went with Cole Beasley last week in this article and think it would be wise to go right back to him in his upcoming matchup with the Eagles. While Beasley won’t go off, he will give you a high-floor, which suffices in the Flex spot. In 5-of-6 games this season, Beasley has scored at least 9.0 PR points and in 4-of-6, he’s scored at least 10.6, which is what he finished with last week against Miami.
Now, Beasley will get an Eagles defense surrendering the most fantasy points to enemy WRs at a rate of 31.8 FPPG. While they have allowed 10 different WRs to accumulate at least 13.3 PPR points against them in seven games, the Eagles have also yielded 22.7 percent more fantasy points above the 33.8-point NFL average in the past five weeks. Beasley is a high-floor Flex option for Week 8 who could return his best game of the year facing a familiar Eagles team as he’s played 13 career games against them from his time in Dallas in which he’s accumulated a career 45/444/2 line.
Week 8 TE Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 0.8
With Jared Cook poised to miss his second straight game with an ankle injury — he has yet to practice this week and the Saints have their bye in Week 9, so it makes sense to sit him — Josh Hill will once again act as the TE1 for the Saints. And while Hill isn’t the sexiest option, he is at least suffice. Not only will he get a cake matchup facing a Cardinals defense surrendering by-far the most fantasy points to enemy TEs at a 16.0 FPPG pace — they’ve allowed a league-high eight TDs to TEs, double the amount of the No. 2 team — but he is also coming off of a Week 7 outing in which he got the start with Cook sidelined and returned a 3/41/1 stat line at the Bears.
However, even when Cook was out there, Hill saw at least three targets in three of his past four games including two games with at least four targets from Weeks 4-5. Saints’ tight ends have scored a touchdown in three consecutive games from Weeks 5-7 and I expect that trend to continue on Sunday. Hill is a touchdown-dependent middling TE2 with fringe TE1 upside if he indeed scores for Week 8. The scoring odds are in Hill’s favor for sure.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 0.1
We all know that O.J. Howard has been one of the biggest fantasy disappointments in 2019. Not only is he already getting out-done by Cameron Brate, but to add fuel to the fire, Howard could be sidelined with a hamstring injury for Week 8 — Howard was limited at Wednesday’s practice and did not participate on Thursday, which is an evident downgrade trending him in the wrong direction to play on Sunday.
Through the first six games of the year, Brate (TE27) is out-scoring Howard (TE36) in PPR scoring formats 35.9-to-28.6. And while Howard is out-targeting Brate 18-to-15 as well as out-catching him (13-to-12) and out-gaining him yardage-wise (176-to-119), Brate has scored twice this season while Howard has yet to find the end zone. In fact, Brate has scored both of his touchdowns in his past three games.
Now, if Howard ultimately sits this week, Brate could be the defacto TE1 in a favorable matchup against a Titans defense allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to TEs at an 8.9 FPPG rate. The Titans have allowed five different TEs to score at least 9.8 PPR points against them this season and four with at least 11.5. They have also surrendered the second-most touchdowns to the position as well (four). If Howard plays, I still like Brate to score as he is — and has been — Jameis Winston’s go-to tight end in the red zone for the past few seasons. But if Howard sits, Brate could return back-end TE1 upside for Week 8.