Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 8 (Updated with The Final Call Podcast)
Start’Em Sit’Em Week 8
As we proceed into this week’s breakdown of week 8 Start‘Em Sit‘Em, it’s hardly a revelation that the various players on our rosters that have been playing effectively or poorly, can promptly deliver a vastly different performance in any given week. Derek Carr provided the latest example of this process in Week 7. It had become increasingly difficult for many owners to trust him after he had failed to exceed 171 yards in each of his last three contests. But he ultimately led all signal callers by throwing for 417 yards, and became one of eight quarterbacks to produce at least three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Ezekiel Elliott remained in the Dallas lineup, generated 219 total yards, and was one of seven backs to run for 100+. Amari Cooper surprisingly rewarded the owners who had resisted the urge to bench him, by exploding for 210 yards, and two touchdowns. While few (if anyone) predicted that Jared Cook (107) and O. J. Howard (98) would accumulate the most yardage among tight ends.
Unfortunately, yet another group of owners also endured the loss of a critical starter to injury. As anyone who had been using Carson Palmer in their lineups, must now locate another option. Roster modifications will also occur for owners who are affected by the Week 8 byes of six different teams. As anyone who owns Cardinals, Packers, Jaguars, Rams, Giants or Titans, will be impacted. This is just the first of two consecutive weeks in which players from six teams will be unable to contribute to your point totals. However, to help circumvent the potential of a sudden predicament from being unprepared, you can locate which teams are included in the two comprehensive bye weeks directly below.
- Week 8 Byes: Cardinals, Packers, Jaguars, Rams, Giants, Titans
- Week 9 Byes: Bears, Browns, Chargers, Vikings, Patriots, Steelers
The Final Call Podcast
Check out Phil Clark and Andrew Erickson discuss who to start and who to sit this week in Fantasy Football
Regardless of the specific challenges that you are encountering this week, this Gridiron Experts Start’Em Week 8 Sit’Em column will assist with the critical decision-making process that is involved with finalizing your lineups. As it is designed to provide a strategic approach toward recommending your best starts, along with the players that should be excluded this week. Since you are already depending upon the performers that you selected at the onset of your drafts, along with the consistent leaders in fantasy points, this column will not confiscate your precious time by discussing them here. Unless the recommendation is that you need to sit any off those players. Kickoffs are approaching, so let’s examine the players that are featured in this Gridiron Experts Week 8 Start’em Sit’em column. Enjoy the games, and good luck in Week 8.
Cam Newton at Buccaneers
While a trio of NFC East quarterbacks (Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins) were among those considered for this week’s quarterback start, we will shift focus toward a less predictable signal caller, who will be the recipient of an appealing matchup.
After three weeks of the regular season, I was admittedly among those who had serious doubts concerning Newton’s ability to function as a dependable QB1. He was languishing with just the 24th highest yardage total (566), averaged a mere 189 YPG, and had only managed two touchdowns. Plus, he had just concluded a disconcerting performance against New Orleans, during which he failed to manufacture 170 yards, or register a touchdown, and tossed an unsightly three interceptions. But in Weeks 5-6, Newton’s output has improved considerably. As he averaged 303 YPG, and assembled four touchdowns through the air, while accumulating 115 yards and an additional score on the ground. But the perplexing nature of his 2017 season continued last Sunday, when the resurgent Chicago defense pilfered two of his passes, while Newton manufactured 211 yards and no touchdowns. However, he did run for 50 yards and remains within this week’s QB1 options. Because another productive outing appears imminent, when he faces the 30th ranked pass defense of Tampa Bay. Which has allowed 11 touchdowns, and is permitting 295 YPG.
The Buccaneers have also yielded the second most fantasy points to opposing signal callers. As this unit has somehow allowed 300-yard passing performances to both Mike Glennon, (301), and Case Keenum (369), while also surrendering at least 268 yards to every quarterback that they have faced – Tom Brady (303), Eli Manning (288), Carson Palmer (283, and Tyrod Taylor (268). While injuries were a factor during some of those performances, this unit was essentially healthy when Taylor generated his Week 7 production. Tampa Bay’s anemic pass rush (7 sacks), should also enable Newton to sustain a strong comfort level. While adding his name to the collection of quarterbacks that have accumulated excellent numbers against Tampa Bay.
Also Start: Carson Wentz vs. 49ers, Dak Prescott at Redskins.
Matthew Stafford vs. Steelers
Those of you who selected Stafford as a low-end QB1, or as one half of what you expected to be a matchup-based tandem, have generally received a favorable return on your investment. The nine-year veteran entered his Week 7 bye tied for fifth among all quarterbacks with 12 touchdowns. He had also just delivered his initial 300-yard performance of the season in Week 6 (312), which boosted his season-long total to 1,428, and placed him 10th in that category.
The additional week of rest was beneficial for his injured ankle, and should also bring Golden Tate closer to his return. However, Stafford will be forced to operate without his primary receiving weapon this week. Worse, he must do so while contending with a Pittsburgh pass defense that has been imposing through seven games. The Steelers reside atop the NFL in that category, while permitting a stellar 147 YPG. Pittsburgh has also allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing signal callers, while constructing a 6:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio against the quarterbacks they have faced. This unit had also not yielded multiple touchdowns in any of their matchups before permitting two to Andy Dalton last Sunday. While an argument can be made that they have not been forced to contend with a collection of elite signal callers, they have limited four starters to 167 yards or less, and performed the role of cooler against what had been a highly productive Alex Smith (246 yards/1 touchdown). This will be an arduous matchup for Stafford, which should induce owners to utilize another option this week.
Also Sit: Trevor Siemian at Chiefs, Ben Roethlisberger at Lions
Dion Lewis / James White vs. Chargers
With Rex Burkhead’s return to the lineup, New England’s burgeoning committee of backs has been restored to a number that should exceed the comfort level of any owner (4). However, considering the consistent potency of the Patriot offense, and the limitations that will exist on many Week 8 rosters, it is better to examine which rushers are most trustworthy from this attack, then it is to discard consideration of the entire backfield. After Lewis was involved in a paltry 7% of New England’s offensive snaps in Week 1, his snap count rose steadily in Weeks 2-6 (18%/18%/20%/24%/43%), while he led the foursome in snaps during their Week 7 matchup with Atlanta. He also paced the team in rushing attempts for the second straight game (11/13), assembled a season-high 76 yards, and has vaulted beyond the now droppable Mike Gillislee as the team’s preferred option when operating in the ground. As the former Bill was allocated a season-low eight carries versus Atlanta, and managed just 31 yards. He has not scored a touchdown since Week 2, and has yet to collect a reception all season. Which should eliminate him from all lineups.
While Burkhead is equally avoidable, White is established as the Patriots primary receiving back, leads the Patriots in receptions (38), and is tied for second with 47 targets. Which enables him to join Lewis as viable RB3/flex options during this week’s appealing matchup with the Chargers. Los Angeles ranks 31st against the run and is allowing 140 YPG. They have been gashed steadily throughout the season, including multiple games in which they were completely overwhelmed by the opposing back – Jay Ajayi (126 total yards), Kareem Hunt (183 total yards), LeGarrette Blount (156 total yards). This enables Lewis and White owners to trust them without hesitation this week.
Jalen Richard / DeAndre Washington at Bills
Marshawn Lynch’s decision to leave the sidelines ultimately resulted in the nine-year veteran making contact with an official, and receiving an automatic ejection during Oakland’s Week 7 win over Kansas City. This sequence of events jeopardized his team’s chances of prevailing in the AFC West matchup, although it also provided Richard and Washington with an opportunity to operate in expanded roles. As Richard collected a season-high 13 touches, while Washington’s 12 touches were also the most that he has attained this year. This week, the tandem will share the workload for four quarters while Lynch serves his one-game suspension, and each back should garner enough touches to amass yardage totals that will reward anyone who is searching for a temporary RB3/flex option.
This is not a suggestion that Buffalo’s run defense is overly generous, as the Bills rank seventh in that category, are allowing 84.5 YPG, and have yielded 3.4 YPC. But Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman gashed this unit for a combined 222 total yards in Week 4, while Doug Martin (80 total yards), Jamaal Charles (56 rushing yards/1 touchdown), Joe Mixon (51 rushing yards 1 touchdown), Christian McCaffery (34 receiving yards), and Giovani Bernard (30 receiving yards), all achieved yardage totals that can be replicated by Washington and Richard. During a week in which your lineups could easily be missing Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette, DeMarco Murray, Adrian Peterson, Aaron Jones, or even Orleans Darkwa, both Oakland’s backs possess the speed, elusiveness, strength, and versatility to supply respectable numbers. Even as they function with a timeshare during this contest. Both rushers currently dwell on waiver wires in numerous leagues but can boost your team’s scoring total if you are searching for a Week 8 option.
Also Start: Christian McCaffrey at Buccaneers, Joe Mixon vs. Colts
Jerick McKinnon / Latavius Murray at Browns
With six teams on bye this week, some of the Week 8 sit recommendations can be repositioned as warnings to proceed with caution. Or, at a minimum to reduce your expectations as the result of difficult matchups. This principle applies to McKinnon and Murray, whose workloads will be inconsistent based on varying game scripts. McKinnon’s usage had expanded substantially since the unfortunate injury to Dalvin Cook. After receiving 18 touches during Minnesota’s first four games, McKinnon’s has garnered 59 since Week 5, while amassing 211 yards and two scores on the ground, along with 91 yards and two touchdowns on 14 receptions. But owners could be more resolute about starting him while Murray was delivering unimpressive results. However, that scenario has changed.
After managing 81 total yards in Week 5-6, Murray utilized his 18 carries to rumble for 113 yards and a touchdown last Sunday against Baltimore. While this will not alter the role of either back, it serves as a reminder that both McKinnon and Murray will supply fluctuating output, depending upon whether or not Minnesota has the lead, or how frequently the Vikings must attack their opponents through the air. Both backs must also contend with Cleveland’s improved run defense, that currently ranks an impressive sixth, is yielding 83.7 YPG, and has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing rushers. Cleveland has not surrendered a touchdown on the ground since Week 3 and has permitted just one back to exceed 40 yards on receptions. While the recent success of McKinnon and Murray may convince you to start them. But they should only be deployed in the flex if you do.
Duke Johnson / Isaiah Crowell vs. Vikings
Also Sit: Frank Gore at Bengals, C.J. Anderson at Chiefs
Alshon Jeffery / Nelson Agholor vs. 49ers
These two wideouts began the season with resumes that were enormously divergent. Jeffery has exceeded 1,100 yards twice in his career, which provided sufficient justification to convince the Eagles that he was worthy of a contract. While he has encountered difficulty gaining separation when contending with top-tier cornerbacks, the 6’3” Jeffery is capable of supplying desirable numbers when he is the recipient of an appealing matchup. Meanwhile, the magnitude of Agholar’s emergence has been amazing, considering the chasm to which his career had fallen. The former first-round selection’s production was undeniably horrendous during his first two seasons – (59 receptions/648 yards/23 YPG/3 touchdowns). Which had jettisoned his relevance to an outlying area far beyond the fantasy landscape, while leaving nearly everyone to understandably dismiss him as a bust. But he manufactured a highly productive performance in Week 1 (6 receptions/86 yards/1 touchdown), has registered 45+ yards in four different contests, and his five touchdowns already exceed the feeble career total that he had constructed before this season.
This week, he can now be safely utilized as a WR3/flex, while Jeffery provides a feasible WR2 option, when both wideouts run routes against a San Francisco pass defense that ranks just 25th, is allowing 259 YPG, and has yielded 12 touchdowns. The 49ers have also surrendered the eighth most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, as their burnable cornerbacks have been shredded on an ongoing basis by Russell Shepard (51 yards/1 touchdown), Tyler Lockett (64), Sammy Watkins (106/2 touchdowns), Robert Woods (108 yards), Jaron Brown (105), T.Y. Hilton (177), and Dez Bryant (63 yards/1 touchdown). Carson Wentz will locate each receiver with enough frequency that they will both deliver favorable outings for their owners.
Kelvin Benjamin at Buccaneers
During the first three weeks of the season, Benjamin sandwiched a 6-catch, 77-yard effort in Week 2, between two disappointing outings in which he manufactured a grand total of three receptions for 33 yards. But in Weeks 4-6, he amassed 17 catches, 261 yards, and a touchdown, before collecting 65 yards against the Bills last Sunday. He leads the Panthers in receiving yards (436) and could expand that number significantly this week. When he faces the aforementioned Tampa Bay pass defense.
The Buccaneers have surrendered the second most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, and have also allowed the third most yards (1,288). This unit has been burned for sizable yardage and touchdowns on the perimeter by Stefon Diggs (173/1), Adam Thielen (98), Odell Beckham Jr. (90), Chris Hogan (74/1), Brandin Cooks (85), John Brown (63/1), and amazingly… twice by Deonte Thompson. As he assembled 57 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 while performing as a Bear, then burned the Bucs for 107 yards in his first game with Buffalo last Sunday. That extensive resume should absorb another layer this Sunday, as the 6’5″ Benjamin will create a matchup nightmare for the Tampa Bay secondary. Brent Grimes is their most proficient corner, but is only 5’10”.
While fellow boundary corner Vernon Hargreaves was shredded repeatedly during the year before being demoted into nickel coverage. Benjamin stockpiled 16 receptions 163 yards and a touchdown against the Buccaneers last season, and should deliver excellent numbers again this week.
Also Start: Adam Thielen at Browns, Michael Crabtree at Bills
Demaryius Thomas at Chiefs
Thomas has not suddenly lost his ability to perform at a respectable level. However, he is negatively impacted by the growing number of shortcomings within Denver’s offense, which have been exacerbated by the absence of Emmanuel Sanders. Even though the line is one component that has affected this unit’s ability to function proficiently (22 sacks allowed), the deficiencies of Trevor Siemian continue to escalate, as he has constructed an unsightly 2:5 touchdown to interception ratio since Week 3. As a result, the output that Thomas delivers has been sporadic, which makes it difficult to rely upon him.
In Weeks 4 and 7, he failed to attain 12 yards (11/9), which were bracketed around his 10 catch – 133-yard effort in Week 6. His owners should already be acutely aware that he generated an 81-yard reception that was called back due to an offensive interference penalty last Sunday. There is no genuine reason to believe that a resurgence is imminent for the Denver offense anytime soon, as Thomas desperately needs Sanders in the lineup before that can occur. Worse, even if Sanders does return this week, Thomas remains largely dependent upon Siemian. Whose comfort level will be dramatically reduced by the Chiefs’ pass rush during much of this contest. Even though Siemian could be benched, a potential transition to Brock Osweiler should not provide comfort to any Thomas owners. Which is unfortunate because this week’s matchup versus a Kansas City’s 28th pass defense that has surrendered 13 touchdowns is highly favorable. Although Bennie Fowler will draw the most enticing matchup against Phillip Gaines, while Thomas will run routes against the formidable Marcus Peters, and more burnable Terrance Mitchell. Sitting Thomas may not be the preferred decision for his owners, but it is wise to acknowledge the level of risk involved with starting him as anything beyond a WR3.
T.Y. Hilton at Bengals
First, here is a disclaimer. If you are a Hilton owner, the following information may be very difficult for you to absorb without some increment of mental pain. On the other hand, it is important to know, before you insert him into your Week 8 lineups. He is unquestionably a highly gifted receiver, who parlayed into an NFL best 1,148 yards 2016 regular season. Plus, the 177 yards that he stockpiled against San Francisco in Week 3 likely underscored that belief for many owners. As did the 153 that he registered against Cleveland in Week 5. However, that yardage was generated inside Lucas Oil Stadium, and the reality of a 2017 season without the presence of Andrew Luck has resulted in a significantly lowered output when Hilton is performing on the road. Where he has failed to score, and has manufactured the following yardage totals (57/30/19). This has certainly been a factor in his season-long total (512) residing below last season’s total after seven games (689). As was the uninspiring 27 yards that he manufactured against Jacksonville at home last Sunday. This week’s matchup should supply owners with even more reason for trepidation, as he will line up against a respectable Cincinnati pass defense that ranks third overall, and was yielding the fifth fewest fantasy points to opposing wideouts prior to facing Pittsburgh in Week 7. If Adam Jones (back) returns to the lineup on Sunday (back), then Hilton’s matchup will become even more difficult. If your options are negatively impacted due to byes, there might be the temptation to keep him in your lineup. But you should remember the emotions that were experienced during after his previous outings on the road.
Also Sit: Marvin Jones vs. Steelers, Will Fuller at Seahawks
Kyle Rudolph at Browns
This seven-year veteran has resurfaced as a feasible starting option, after his paltry production in Weeks 1-4 was perilously close to hastening his departure from the fantasy landscape (15 targets/10 receptions/27 YPG /1 touchdown). His season reached its chasm from a statistical standpoint in Week 3 (1 reception/4 yards), which only served to intensify the massive dissatisfaction of his owners. Who had envisioned significantly higher output from the same player who had attained career-best numbers in 2016 (83 receptions/840 yards/52.5 YPG). But in Weeks 5-7, Rudolph was targeted 25 times, while collecting 16 receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown. Now, he has an excellent opportunity to continue this recent surge, when he lines up against the Browns. Cleveland’s defensive unit has improved in several areas, but their inability to contain opposing tight ends has remained intact. In 2016, the Browns surrendered the most fantasy points to the position, while being shredded for over 1,000 yards, and a league worst 13 touchdowns. This season, they are allowing the second most fantasy points, and have been burned by a group of tight ends that will not be confused with the top tier options – Jesse James (41 yards /2 touchdowns) Ben Watson (91 yards), Tyler Kroft (68 yards/2 touchdowns), Austin Seferian-Jenkins (29 yards/1 touchdown), Ryan Griffin (52), and Delanie Walker (63 yards). Rudolph should perpetuate this trend, allowing owners to deploy him with conviction this week.
Also Start: Hunter Henry at Patriots, Nick O’Leary vs. Raiders
Jack Doyle at Bengals
After Doyle generated 59 receptions for 584 yards and five touchdowns during the 2016 regular season, he was widely considered to be among this season’s more viable candidates for inclusion among the low-end TE1s. While Doyle’s output does not match the level that had been predicted when Andrew Luck was expected to be performing under center, he has managed to intersperse two games of 50+ yards, with the three contests in which he has failed to surpass 41. He is second to T.Y. Hilton in targets (41), and receptions (40), while his 257 yards place him third among all Colts. There are multiple games on the schedule that are conducive for him to to overcome the inadequacies of the Indianapolis offense, and deliver respectable numbers while operating with Jacoby Brissett. But this week’s matchup will present him with a formidable hurdle. Cincinnati’s pass defense has successfully squelched the production of opposing tight ends, as this unit is allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the position. The Bengals have limited the Baltimore triumvirate of Ben Watson, Maxx Williams, and Nick Boyle to a combined 19 yards, then contained nearly every other player that they have faced to miniscule yardage totals Martellus Bennett (12), David Njoku (11), Seth DeValve (2), and Charles Clay (31). While Lance Kendricks (52) and Nick O’Leary (54) eclipsed 50 yards during their encounters, Cincinnati has been stingy with enough consistency for owners to consider a streaming an alternative option, who will be the recipient of a more favorable matchup.
Also Sit: George Kittle at Eagles, Austin Seferian-Jenkins vs. Falcons