Fantasy Football Week 8: Players to start or sit

·9-min read

Sit and start is relative and league dependent, so consider some of these suggestions more “fliers” and “fades” (note that some are targeted for DFS).

Good luck with your Week 8 lineups.

Indianapolis Colts @ Detroit Lions

Start in DFS: Jonathan Taylor ($23)

Sit: Matthew Stafford

Taylor has disappointed so far during his rookie campaign, but he faces a Lions defense that’s allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs and will be overmatched at the line of scrimmage. Expect the Colts to come out of their bye with a game plan featuring Taylor, who should be treated as a top-three fantasy back and is worth paying up for in DFS this week.

Stafford gets a tough matchup versus a Colts defense that’s ceded the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, and there are many superior QB options this week.

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers

Sit: Kirk Cousins

Start: Jamaal Williams

Cousins has gotten 2.0 YPA fewer on the road this season, where he’s also posted a 1:3 TD:INT ratio. With dominant Jaire Alexander locking down one of his receivers and likely facing constant pressure in a slow-paced game, Cousins belongs on fantasy benches, and that’s before we even talk about forecasts calling for extreme wind conditions.

Aaron Jones is trending toward sitting again (and would likely not see his usual snaps if active), and Williams was treated as a true workhorse in his place last week and could be looking at even more volume Sunday with the weather not conducive for passing. The Vikings are dealing with a bunch of injuries on defense and just traded Yannick Ngakoue, so Williams would be DFS viable and a legit top-five fantasy back if Jones is out again (and still flex worthy if Jones plays).

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills

Sit: All Patriots

Start: Bills D/ST

Cam Newton has a 2:7 TD:INT ratio on the year, New England is getting just 4.9 yards per play over its last three games, and now Julian Edelman is out for multiple weeks. The Bills don’t have a great defense this season as expected, but they are set up well against a struggling Newton and company, as the Patriots are also dealing with many injuries along their offensive line.

Tennessee Titans @ Cincinnati Bengals

Start: Corey Davis, A.J. Green

This projects as a fast-paced game with one of this week’s highest totals, and Davis should benefit from A.J. Brown likely being shadowed by William Jackson. The Bengals have given up the most fantasy points to Davis’ primary side (right) over the last month. I have him ranked as a top-25 WR this week.

Green might not be as washed up as previously thought, and he continues to see a ton of volume despite Tee Higgins’ emergence. In fact, Green leads the NFL in air yards over the last two weeks, and the Titans have allowed the most fantasy points to outside receivers over the last month, so he’s a strong start.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green
A.J. Green has returned to fantasy relevance the past couple weeks. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

Las Vegas Raiders @ Cleveland Browns

Sit: Derek Carr

Start in DFS: Kareem Hunt ($30)

Carr has played well this season, and the Browns are typically a favorable fantasy matchup for quarterbacks, but this game is calling for sustained winds of 25 mph with gusts up to 40, so the weather in Cleveland might be a major issue for passing.

I wanted to recommend Rashard Higgins, but given the conditions, let’s emphasize using Hunt in DFS lineups this week during what might be his final game as the team’s feature back with their upcoming bye. The Raiders have yielded the second-most fantasy points to running backs this season. I rank Hunt as my No. 1 RB this week.

New York Jets @ Kansas City Chiefs

Start: La’Mical Perine, Le’Veon Bell

It’s no fun recommending sitting all Jets every week, so let’s go with a deep sleeper in Perine, who saw his snap share jump to 70% last week (Frank Gore was at 28%). He’s a sneaky start against a KC run defense that ranks #31 in DVOA.

This is an instance I’d actually factor in the “revenge game” narrative, especially with KC as huge favorites and Andy Reid as head coach. With the Adam Gase effect on full display, I have Bell ranked as a top-15 RB this week.

Los Angeles Rams @ Miami Dolphins

Start: Malcolm Brown

Sit: DeVante Parker

The Rams enter with the #1 rushing offense in DVOA while the Dolphins come in ranked last in rush defense DVOA, and the game script should be favorable with the Rams’ defense playing so well and Tua Tagovailoa making his first career start. Darrell Henderson is a borderline RB1, and Brown (who often gets goal-line work) is a flex option in this matchup … Josh Reynolds leads the Rams in air yards (and aDot) over the last five games and is a sleeper at wide receiver.

Parker is dealing with a groin injury, is facing a Rams defense that’s ceded the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season, and will be catching passes from a QB making his first start ever. He’s tough to trust in Week 8.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens

Sit: JuJu Smith-Schuster

Start: Marquise Brown

Obviously not all fantasy teams have the depth to bench Smith-Schuster, who saw 14 targets last week, but that still resulted in just 85 scoreless yards, which was a season-high. Smith-Schuster’s average intended air yards (5.9) remain among the lowest in the NFL, and his yards per route run ranks #79 (even worse than Marquez Valdes-Scantling!). JJSS gets a tough matchup with slot corner Marlon Humphrey this week, so he’s a fade if possible.

Brown has no doubt disappointed, but hopefully, the Ravens used the bye to improve their passing attack, and there remains a buy-low opportunity with him quietly ranking #4 in WOPR this season. With Mark Ingram hurt and up against the league’s toughest run defense in the Steelers, Brown is setup to see a bunch of air yards yet again, and the bet here is he cashes in on them Sunday. Hollywood is a top-12 WR on my board this week.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Denver Broncos

Start in DFS: Hunter Henry ($16)

Sit: Jerry Jeudy

Henry’s yardage hasn’t been there, but the targets have been, and he has a budding star in Justin Herbert throwing to him in a game the Chargers are likely to struggle running. Henry is primed to start putting up big numbers, beginning this week.

There’s a temptation to start Jeudy with Tim Patrick injured, but KJ Hamler is back and both tight ends Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam (pronounced “O”) have been seeing more targets than the rookie wideout. With both Broncos backs likely to play, and the Chargers relatively stingy against wide receivers, Jeudy is best left on fantasy benches.

New Orleans Saints @ Chicago Bears

Sit: Drew Brees

Start: Jimmy Graham

Brees has rebounded after a shaky Week 1 against a Bucs defense that has ended up being arguably the best in football this season, and he may even get Michael Thomas back Sunday, but the Bears have allowed the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. The weather could be ugly as well.

Graham has seen a target inside the 10-yard line each of the last two games and gets a Saints defense that’s yielded the third-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. The windy conditions should matter less for him in the red zone.

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks

Start: Brandon Aiyuk

Start in DFS: DK Metcalf ($33)

Aiyuk ranked fifth in WOPR last week and should be even busier Sunday with Deebo Samuel (and the team’s top-four running backs) injured and in a likely high-scoring matchup against a Seattle offense that leads the NFL in yards per play by a wide margin. The Seahawks also sport a funnel defense that’s tough against the run but ranks 30th against the pass in DVOA and has allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers this season. Aiyuk has impressed during his rookie campaign, and he should get a big opportunity Sunday, so he’s a top-12 WR on my board in Week 8 … Kendrick Bourne and JaMycal Hasty are two other sleepers this week.

With Seattle’s running backs all injured (although beware the Carlos Hyde revenge game), and Tyler Lockett scoring all the touchdowns last week, Sunday should be Metcalf’s turn to eat against an extremely injured SF defense. Fire up everyone in this game.

Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles

Sit: Amari Cooper

Start in DFS: Boston Scott ($18)

Cooper qualifies more as a “fade” and someone who won’t be worth benching on many fantasy teams, but expectations need to be held in check up against Darius Slay and with the Cowboys’ huge question mark at quarterback. Dallas’ offensive line should once again be destroyed Sunday night, making life also difficult for Ezekiel Elliott, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb (although at least the Eagles are vulnerable to the slot).

Scott should get another opportunity as Philadelphia’s workhorse, and it comes in a great spot as big home favorites against Dallas’ #30 ranked rush defense in DVOA. Scott is a borderline top-five fantasy back in Week 8.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New York Giants

Start: Leonard Fournette

Sit: Evan Engram

Fournette should be looking at a decent floor as Tampa Bay’s “nickel back” with Tom Brady loving to throw to his RBs, and I have him ranked as a borderline top-20 RB in Week 8 even while sharing touches with Ronald Jones. The Bucs are big favorites, and the setup is favorable given Tampa Bay’s elite defense and banged-up receiving corps. There’s legit top-three upside if one of these backs ever emerged as a bell cow.

Engram hasn’t surpassed 65 yards or recorded a receiving TD this season when his average intended air yards has been the lowest in football (Deebo Samuel has -45 air yards over the last two weeks, so I’m not counting him). While his surroundings haven’t helped, Engram has struggled badly this year, and he gets a Tampa Bay defense Monday night that’s ceded the fewest yards per play this season.

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