Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 8
As we now officially approach the mid-way point of the fantasy football season, every single game matters just that much more for fantasy football managers looking to keep their playoff aspirations alive. We saw another week of devastating injuries, breakout performances, and disappointing results across the league. With another four teams on bye for this weekend, the supply of players available is once again scarce. We will take a look at the players and the matchups to take advantage of and the ones to shy away from. Let’s look at Week 8.
Recapping last week
Our picks from last week worked out well overall. Justin Herbert finished as the highest-scoring quarterback and Teddy Bridgewater finished inside the top-15 but Drew Brees had a top-10 performance. Justin Jackson finished as a top-25 play and Latavius Murray was a top-36 running back while James White saw only one offensive touch. Christian Kirk cashed in as a top-12 wideout while Tee Higgins had a top-15 week while Julian Edelman only had one catch. We were off with the tight ends as Dalton Schultz finished outside the top-24 while Rob Gronkowski had the second-best game of a tight end this past weekend. With that, we’re on to Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 8.
Teams on bye: Washington Football Team, Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Quarterbacks
Raiders vs Browns
ESPN Starting Percentage: 8.6%
While it’s hard to believe, Carr has been a very consistent quarterback in terms of fantasy football. He has five straight games of at least 260 yards passing and two touchdowns. He also only has two interceptions thrown on the season too. He and the Raiders face the Browns in Week 8, who just gave up 406 yards passing and four total touchdowns to Joe Burrow and the Bengals. The Browns have given up at least 275 yards and three passing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks in four of seven games this season. Carr could also see Bryan Edwards return, giving him yet another weapon alongside Nelson Agholor, Darren Waller, and Henry Ruggs. He has a safe floor as a top 15-18 quarterback with top-12 potential.
Bengals vs Titans
ESPN Starting Percentage: 18.1%
After getting stifled by the Ravens defense in Week 5, Burrow has come back strong with two straight 300+ yard performances. That includes his Week 7 performance of 406 yards passing, three touchdowns, and another 34 yards rushing and touchdown on the ground. He’s attempted an average of 43 passes over the past two weeks and will continue to be heavily relied upon as he and the Bengals now face a high-scoring Titans team that’ll force the Bengals to pass the ball a lot. While the Titans have forced nine interceptions in six games, they have given up at least 250 yards passing and two touchdowns in each of their past five games. Burrow also has a rushing touchdown in each of the past two games. He has a very high floor as a top 10-12 option this weekend.
Lions vs Colts
ESPN Starting Percentage: 43.7%
Despite having two of the easiest matchups on paper for fantasy football in his last two games, Stafford has only 563 yards passing, two touchdowns, and one interception to his name. The Lions seem committed to utilizing the run game more and Stafford can’t seem to capitalize despite having Kenny Golladay, T.J. Hockenson, and D’Andre Swift as pass-catchers. He now faces a well-rested Colts defense who has only given up seven passing touchdowns in six games while forcing 10 interceptions. Stafford is hard to trust in a plus matchup and especially so in a tough one.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Running Backs
Buccaneers vs Giants
ESPN Starting Percentage: 17.3%
The Buccaneers offense is rolling as of late with at least 38 points scored in three of their last four games. Between their offense mowing over teams and their defense locking everyone down, they have been one of the best teams in the league in recent weeks. Fournette didn’t play in the last couple of games and Ronald Jones had at least 100 yards rushing in each of the last three games coming into Week 7. Despite Jones’ strong performance as of late, Fournette still finished with more snaps and touches. Fournette would finish with 97 scrimmage yards and six receptions on a 17-touch performance. It’s clear that he will have the majority of the passing down work and is very much a threat in the run game.
With Fournette’s new-found involvement in the passing game, he comes into Week 8 with a juicy matchup against the Giants. New York has given up at least 58 yards receiving to opposing running backs in each of the last two games and with how they have played lately, we could see the Buccaneers jump out early and use the run game to wear down the clock. Fournette could be in for another 15-20 offensive touches in Week 8.
Bills vs Patriots
ESPN Starting Percentage: 4.7%
Devin Singletary has struggled quite a bit as of late with three straight games with less than 50 scrimmage yards and under four yards-per-carry. Moss was finally healthy and instantly played better than Singletary with almost seven yards-per-carry and 72 scrimmage yards on only ten offensive touches. Moss was always considered a threat to Singletary’s workload but Singletary had the benefit of Moss dealing with an injury the past few weeks. Even then, Singletary couldn’t capitalize. Now we could see Moss have an even split (or even get more work than Singletary) in the coming weeks. The Bills play the Patriots, who have given up 100+ rushing yards to an opposing running back in each of the last two games and allowed an opposing running back to go for at least 75 scrimmage yards in each of the last five games. Moss has standalone FLEX value in a plus matchup.
Any Ravens Running Back
Ravens vs Steelers
ESPN Starting Percentage: N/A
Regardless of matchup, the Ravens running back group is a mess. Mark Ingram was hurt in Week 6 and Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins fought for touches with neither standing out. Ingram could be back, leading to yet another three-way split in Baltimore’s backfield. On top of that, the Steelers are an incredibly tough matchup and have only allowed four opposing running backs to score double-digit points in half-PPR leagues this season. They even held Derrick Henry to 75 yards rushing despite him getting 20 carries. There isn’t a single Ravens running back who has done anything to separate themselves from the other and now they face one of the best defenses in the league. Ingram, Dobbins and, Edwards all should be on the bench this week.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Wide Receivers
49ers vs Seahawks
ESPN Starting Percentage: 3.1%
Aiyuk is coming off his best game of the season with 115 yards receiving on six catches in Week 7. Deebo Samuel hurt his hamstring in that game and has been confirmed to be out for Week 8 already, meaning Aiyuk will slot in as the number one wide receiver for the 49ers. He has a mouth-watering matchup against the Seahawks, who have given up the most receiving yards to opposing wide receivers and just gave up over 200 yards and three touchdowns to DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and Larry Fitzgerald on Sunday Night Football. The 49ers continue to rack up injuries at the running back position, putting more pressure on the passing game. With Aiyuk seeing increased volume and in a terrific match-up, he has WR2 value this weekend.
Bengals vs Titans
ESPN Starting Percentage: 23.4%
As mentioned above, Burrow and the Bengals have been passing the ball a lot recently. Green has been a big recipient of this with 178 yards on 17 receptions and 24 targets in the past two games combined. He has at least eight receptions and 11 targets in each of those games and finally looks like some semblance of the All-Pro version of Green we’ve seen before. Green is no less than the number three option on this high-volume passing offense of the Bengals and now faces one of the best teams in the league in Tennessee. However, the Titans have allowed seven different opposing wide receivers to go for at least five receptions and 50 yards in the last three weeks alone. That includes allowing five receiving touchdowns in the last two weeks and at least 68 yards on four different occasions in those past two games. This has the makings of another high-scoring game with both teams playing a lot of offense and Green has a WR3 floor in this one.
Steelers vs Ravens
ESPN Starting Percentage: 69.2%
No, this is not me saying that Claypool should be dropped and that he was a flash in the pan. He’s a very talented wide receiver who struggled in Week 7 against that soft aforementioned Titans pass defense. He had only one catch for negative two yards on his only target. With Diontae Johnson healthy and Juju Smith-Schuster once again involved, Claypool is settling in as the team’s number two or three passing option. With how strong the Steelers defense has played, their reliance on the passing game varies week to week. This week, we have two of the best defenses in the league meeting in the Steelers and Ravens. The Ravens have only allowed three wide receivers to go for 50+ receiving yards in the last weeks combined with only one touchdown scored. In a tough matchup and his target share fluctuating, Claypool isn’t the most reliable option this week.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Tight Ends
Eagles vs Cowboys
ESPN Starting Percentage: 3.2%
While the entire NFC East division has become a running joke this season, the Cowboys defense is more laughable. They somehow just gave up 25 points to a Washington team with Kyle Allen at quarterback and then had given up at least 34 points in each of the four previous games. They have been susceptible at times against opposing tight ends, including Logan Thomas going for 60 yards and a touchdown in Week 7. Rodgers has stepped in as the number one tight end and the number two/three option on an offense that has been ravaged by injury. He saw eight targets turn into six receptions and 85 yards in Week 7 and we could see a similar workload for him in Week 8 in a game between two teams with barely-there defenses. He has a safe floor and profiles as a low-end TE1 in Week 8.
Chargers vs Broncos
ESPN Starting Percentage: 66.4%
While it’s tough to recommend sitting any tight end right now, it’s especially so for a guy like Henry. However, despite Justin Herbert lighting it up for 651 yards and seven touchdowns over the last two games combined, Henry has only mustered seven receptions for 46 yards and a touchdown. He has two straight games with 23 yards receiving and hasn’t caught for more than 50 yards since Week 2. His touchdown catch in Week 5 was his first of the season. He just simply isn’t putting up numbers despite being in a successful pass-heavy offense. He faces a Broncos defense that hasn’t given up a receiving touchdown to an opposing tight end since Week 1 and hasn’t given up more than 49 yards to any tight end this season. Henry just isn’t putting up the numbers needed to cut it despite the shallow depth at the position.
Doug Moore is a fantasy football writer for Gridiron Experts. He has previously written for sites such as ESPN, SBNation, FFToday & Inside The Pylon. He also was the co-host for the highly-rated fantasy football podcast Overtime Ireland for several years. You can find him on Twitter at @DMooreNFL