Start’em Sit’em Week 8
Start’em and Sit’em is back for Week 8 of the NFL season. Along with the other fine tools provided by Gridiron Experts, this article is here to help guide you to victory in your Week 8 Fantasy Football matchups. There are several matchups worth discussing and we will go through those matchups now. One friendly reminder heading into this Week 8 Start Sit article is that the Baltimore Ravens and the Dallas Cowboys are on their bye week. Also important to note that the Bengals and Rams game, while being played in London, will still have a 1 PM (EST) start time.
Recapping Last Week
As far as how this column did last week, I hit on two out of three of my quarterback selections as both Jared Goff and Josh Allen would finish the week inside the top-10. Beyond that though, the column was littered with several missed calls at the running back and wide receiver positions. The lastest results have me determined to deliver you the best picks that Week 8 has to offer, so let’s get started. As always, if you any other start or sit questions that are not answered here, please feel free to reach me on Twitter.
- Scoring and stats are based on half-point per reception scoring and come from fantasydata.com
- Start percentages originate from ESPN.com
- Start options range from 0-60%
- Sit options range from 50-100%
The following are my Start’em Sit’em Week 7 recommendations:
Start’em Sit’em Quarterbacks
Bills vs. Eagles
ESPN Starting Percentage: 46.7%
As stated in last week’s article, back in 2018, Josh Allen had no worse than a top-two finish against the Miami Dolphins. While Allen wouldn’t have as good of a finish in his first start against the Dolphins this season, he still finished well enough to be a top-10 quarterback on the week. In Week 8, we will see Allen turn his attention to the Philadelphia Eagles. In five out of seven weeks this season, this is an Eagles defense that has been in the top-10 in most points allowed to quarterbacks. They are also tied for fourth in most touchdown passes allowed to quarterbacks with 14 and are also just one out of a handful of teams to allow over 2,000 passing yards. With Allen having just two career games with more than 250-passing yards, it is safe to say that the saving grace for Allen is his ability to run the ball. While the Eagles haven’t given up much on the ground to quarterbacks so far this season, I’m looking to their last game for some inspiration. Against the Cowboys in Week 7, Dak Prescott had 30-yards rushing off of just five carries and a touchdown. Beyond that game, the Eagles really haven’t faced too many quaterbacks who have a tendency to run the ball like Allen does. No matter if it is through the air or on the ground, I like Allen to deliver another top-1o week.
Colts vs. Broncos
ESPN Starting Percentage: 17.3%
Following the Colts bye week, Jacoby Brissett picked up right where he left off. In an AFC South matchup against the Houston Texans, Brissett would throw for 326 yards and four touchdowns. It would mark his fourth top-15 performance of the season and now he will look to take aim at the Denver Broncos defense. On paper, this matchup against the Broncos doesn’t look all that appetizing. After seven games played this season, despite their 2-5 record, the Broncos are in the top-10 in fewest points allowed to the quarterback position. While that ranking is a solid one, I’m attributing it more to the fact that the Broncos schedule has been littered with underwhelming offenses and quarterbacks that were either struggling or learning a new playbook. Currently, Brissett is tied for second in the NFL with 14 touchdown passes and is one of just three quarterbacks that have already had their bye week and still have 10 or more touchdowns. Again, the matchup might not seem pretty on paper but I think that Brissett and this Colts offense is more than prepared to overcome the odds.
Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub
Falcons vs. Seahawks
ESPN Starting Percentage: 76.2%
In just one week’s time, the script has completely flipped on Matt Ryan. The Falcons quarterback went from six straight games with more than 300-yards passing to what is believed to be a sprained ankle and just 159 yards passing. As of this writing, Ryan is in a walking boot and is undergoing further tests on his ankle. To me, with the Falcons bye week being in Week 9 and with the Falcons suffering five straight losses, I see no reason for the Falcons to put their franchise quarterback in harm’s way. While the Seahawks have just 11 sacks on the season, it wouldn’t be all that difficult for the Seahawks to manage a handful of sacks against a likely immobile Ryan. With the Seahawks in the top-12 in most points allowed to opposing quarterbacks, this secondary is a far cry from the legion of boom. That being said, with Matt Ryan being at less than a hundred percent, I have a really bad feeling about this Falcons offense as a whole.
Update: Matt Ryan has officially been ruled out and in his absence, Matt Shaub will now look to save Dan Quinn’s job against the Seattle Seahawks. While some of the Falcons positional players have some value, I do not think that this is a matchup in which you should even consider starting Schaub. As a matter of fact, if there is anyone that you should be looking to start now, it is the Seattle Seahawks D/ST.
Start’em Sit’em Running Backs
Packers @ Chiefs
ESPN Starting Percentage: 19.6%
Jamaal Williams might not be the flashiest of names to grace this start column but I believe that he deserves some flex consideration in Week 8. This upcoming week, the Packers will go up against a Kansas City Chiefs defense that is allowing the sixth-most points to the running back position. On top of their ranking against running backs, I think that despite the Chiefs putting up thirty points last week, being without Patrick Mahomes will slow the Chiefs games’ down and that could benefit the opposing running backs. In regards to Williams’ play, since returning from a concussion, Williams was a top-10 back in Week 6 and has followed that up with a top-20 finish in Week 7 against another AFC West team, the Raiders. With eighty or more total yards and a touchdown in each of his last two games, as previously mentioned, Williams is a fine flex play in Week 8.
Chargers @ Bears
ESPN Starting Percentage: 52.8%
When the news of Melvin Gordon’s return had hit social media, fantasy owners of Austin Ekeler had feared that the party would be over. Hopefully, you hung on to Ekeler because the proverbial party has no signs of slowing down. In Weeks 1 through 4, before Gordon would see his first action of 2019, Ekeler would have twenty-five targets. Since Ekeler has started sharing the backfield with Gordon, Ekeler has seen 28 targets. Most recently, against the Titans, Ekeler would haul in seven receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown. That performance would have Ekeler finishing Week 7 as a top-10 running back in half-point formats. Opposing the Chargers is the Chicago Bears. While the Bears have yet to allow a receiving touchdown to opposing running backs, they are tied for third in most receptions allowed to running backs with 45. Not only is Ekeler still a great option for fantasy, but he’s also a better option than Melvin Gordon.
Bengals @ Rams
ESPN Starting Percentage: 69.5%
For fantasy owners of Joe Mixon, the 2019 season has been an absolute disaster. On top of failing to score a touchdown in his first seven games, Mixon is on pace for an abysmal 581 rushing yards this season. It isn’t just the offensive line woes either as really, his coach just isn’t giving Mixon the ample amount of carries. After finishing eighth in the NFL in carries last season, Mixon is currently tied for eighteenth with 84 carries on the year. While the Bengals will have an opportunity to catch their breath during their Week 9 bye, I find it hard to believe that Mixon will be able to end the first half of his season on a positive note. This Sunday, the Bengals will travel to the west coast to take on a Rams team that is eleventh most points to the running back position. All the way back in Week 1, this Rams defense was viticmized by Christian McCaffrey as they allowed more points to the position than any other team that week. Since the season the opener though, the Rams have had just one other week in which they finished in the top-10 in most points allowed to the position and they have also had three games in which they were in the top-1o in fewest points allowed. Point being, this Rams defensive front is a little better against the run than the bottom line might suggest. On top of all of this, the Bengals are eventully going to have to give Mixon 20 rushing attempts to get him going and I do not think they will be in a position to do that against a Rams offense like this.
Start’em Sit’emWide Receivers
Texans vs. Raiders
ESPN Starting Percentage: 2.0%
One of the biggest stories on Monday morning was the news that the hamstring injury to Will Fuller would have him sidelined for weeks. Like most things in the NFL though, the train keeps moving and the Texans will now look towards Kenny Stills to help fill the void. Stills is no stranger to hamstring injuries himself as he has also missed time this year. Last week, with Fuller leaving the game, Stills would finish the game with four receptions for 105 yards. Opposing Stills and the Texans this week will be a Raiders defense that allowed Rodgers to throw for five touchdown passes for the first time since 2015. It should come as no surprise that following their thrashing in Green Bay, the Raiders secondary is allowing the ninth-most points to the wide receiver position. The Texans quarterback, DeShaun Watson has yet to play against the Raiders in his career but in four games against the AFC West, Watson has 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions. On top of this, there is the news that the Raiders have traded Gareon Conley to the Texans which means that the Raiders will be putting a rookie on Stills this Sunday. I do not just love Stills as a wire pickup, I love for Stills to have a top-15 outing this Sunday.
Bills vs. Eagles
ESPN Starting Percentage: 33.0%
In half-point formats this season, John Brown has four games with 10 or more fantasy points scored. This would include this past week as the Bills would return from their bye week to defeat the Miami Dolphins. In that game, Brown would catch five of six targets for 83 yards and a touchdown. It is this sort of production that has Brown as the nineteenth best wide receiver in fantasy this season and now, Brown and the Bills will now turn their attention to an Eagles defense that has more fantasy points to wide receivers than any other team this season. Looking a little bit deeper into that ranking, and what bodes well for this week, the three games in which the Eagles have been in the top-five in points allowed to wide receivers have all come on the road. Brown certainly isn’t matchup-proof but with him being on pace to be the Bills first 1,000-yard wide receiver since 2015, he is certainly a player that deserves your consideration.
Bengals vs. Rams (London)
ESPN Starting Percentage: 64.4%
Last week, I initially had Tyler Boyd as a sit recommendation but after sleeping on it, I had decided to switch my decision and make Boyd a start option. Changing my mind turned out to be the wrong move as Boyd would have just five receptions 55 yards. This week, I’m going to be nominating Boyd as a sit candidate and I’m keeping him there. Opposing the Bengals this weekend is the Rams who has finished in the top-10 in fewest points allowed to wide receivers in five out of their seven games this season. On top of a tough opponent, there is the home and road splits for Boyd. As mentioned in last week’s article, while Boyd has played well at home, he has had a tough time on the road. In four road games played this season, Boyd has had 171 yards receiving and no touchdowns. Even though this game is being played at a neutral site, between those home/road splits and how the Bengals have been playing, I find it hard to believe that Boyd will be able to deliver a top-20 performance. Much like last year, perhaps if and when A.J. Green returns, things will get better.
Start’em Sit’em Tight Ends
Rams vs. Bengals
ESPN Starting Percentage: 39.9%
Last season, Everett would be targetted by Jared Goff 51 times. After just seven games played this season, Everett has already been targeted 41 times. With that in mind, it is finally time for people to start paying attention to the Rams tight end position. Just last week, against the Atlanta Falcons, Everett would be the most targetted Rams player as he would haul in four receptions for 50-yards and a touchdown. Up next for Everett and the Rams will be a trip to London to take on the Cincinnati Bengals. In what has been a nasty season for the Bengals, surprisingly enough, their defense has allowed the seventh-fewest points to opposing tight ends. Despite the Bengals strong ranking, it is the number of targets that have me believing that Everett isn’t just a touchdown-dependent tight end. Sometimes, the volume can overtake a matchup, this is one of those times.
Buccaneers @ Titans
ESPN Starting Percentage: 0.9%
Even prior to the news that O.J. Howard was going to miss this week’s game, Cameron Brate was a tight end that I thought could have an impact. With Howard now being ruled out this week, there is a real opportunity for Brate to be great. In two out of the last three Buccaneers’ games, Brate has been a top-10 tight end for fantasy. The slippery slope with Brate is that he is touchdown dependant. Out of the 25 touchdowns that Brate has scored in his career, the Buccaneers tight end has only had four games in which he had a touchdown and more than 75 yards receiving, in the same game. Touchdown dependency won’t stop me from starting Brate against a Titans defense that is allowing the fifth-most points to the position. On top of that, the four touchdowns that the Titans have allowed to the tight end position is tied for second-most in the NFL.
Panthers @ 49ers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 8.6%
Yes, I understand that as of this writing, Greg Olsen has a very low start percentage. That is obviously due to the Panthers being on their bye and that percentage will likely shoot up in the next few days. I would warn you though to think twice before plugging him into your lineups in Week 8 as the Panthers will be heading to Santa Clara to take on the 49ers. The 49ers defense is not an impossible one to crack and if the Panthers do win this game, it will be on the back of the eventual 2019 NFL MVP, Christian McCaffrey. In regards to the tight end position however, the 49ers are allowing the third-fewest points to the position. That ranking would include the 49ers not allowing a touchdown to the position since Tyler Eifert in Week 2. The tight end position started to take a dark turn for fantasy owners last week and now more than ever, you need to play the matchups and you need a touchdown. I say that in Week 8, Greg Olsen provides neither to your fantasy roster.
Start’em Sit’em D/ST
Panthers @ 49ers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 4.7%
After multiple weeks of pleading with you to start the 49ers D/ST, their start percentage is finally too high for me to nominate them in this column. So this week, I will stay close to the 49ers and tell you should also be looking to start the Panthers D/ST this weekend. In the four weeks leading up to their bye week, the Panthers have been a top-10 D/ST. On top of that, while the 49ers remain one of two undefeated teams in the NFL, they have a quarterback in Jimmy Garaoppolo who is prone to making mistakes. So far this season, the 49ers signal-caller has had only one game in which he hasn’t thrown an interception. One of top of a quarterback that is prone to making mistakes, over the last two games, the opposing D/ST to the 49ers has finished the week tied as the eleventh best D/ST on the week. The Panthers D/ST is one of the better defenses that the 49ers have seen this season and I think that win or lose that will be evident in starting the Panthers.
Steelers vs. Dolphins
ESPN Starting Percentage: 3.0%
If you’re in need of renting a D/ST in Week 8 it is almost impossible to ignore the Pittsburgh Steelers who are currently owned in just 33.8% of leagues. Yes, the short and sweet answer is that the Steelers will be playing the Miami Dolphins. Digging a little deeper than that though, despite the injury woes on the offensive side of the ball, the Steelers D/ST has done well for fantasy. Much like the previously mentioned Panthers, in the four weeks prior to their bye, the Steelers have been a top-12 D/ST. On top of that, they are also one of four defenses in the NFL to have 20-plus sacks and more than five interceptions on the season. Couple those numbers with the winless Dolphins being vulnerable to a strong pass rush and I do not see how you can go wrong. Also, if you are into this sort of thing, Week 8 will serve as a revenge game for Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Chargers @ Bears
ESPN Starting Percentage: 70.5%
You will often notice that I use a player or a defense in a start or sit role in consecutive weeks. Sometimes that it is due to matchup but also, with all due respect, I just don’t think that you are getting the point. The Chargers D/ST is not a defense that should be started in 70.5% of leagues. After spending several weeks outside the top-20 in D/ST scoring, the Chargers finished fifteen among defenses in Week 7. While this might have been their best finish in weeks, I still don’t think this warrants them to be started over other defenses. This might be a pick that is frowned upon since the Chargers will look to take on Mitch Trubisky and the Bears this weekend. While Trubisky is catching a lot of social media criticism but let’s not be clouded from the fact that Trubisky hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 3. The Chargers might wind up with a sack or two this week but again, there are other D/STs that are worth your time in Week 8.