FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 06: James White #28 of the New England Patriots runs after catching a touchdown pass during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Week 8 Starts and Sits

Bye Weeks: Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Tennessee Titans, LA Chargers

Start

QB

Kirk Cousins (vs New Orleans)

Cousins rebounded nicely in week 7 against the New York Jets, completing 25 of 40 passes for 241 yards and 2 touchdowns to 0 interceptions. It was a solid performance given the highly windy conditions. Week 8 gives Cousins a matchup against the 3rd worst fantasy defense against quarterbacks in the form of the New Orleans Saints (allowing 25.1 points per game). Cousins has the perimeter weapons to exploit the questionable Saints secondary and should be poised for a big week.

Andrew Luck (at Oakland)

While Andrew Luck didn’t have his typical volume in week 7, he was highly efficient against the Buffalo Bills. Luck threw the ball 23 times, completing 17 of them for 156 yards and four touchdowns without throwing an interception. The Raiders have been average against opposing quarterbacks (18.8 points per week) but have struggled as a team to stop anyone on defense. Luck could also easily see more opportunities to throw the ball this week given the fact that Oakland lost 2 of their main offensive weapons during the course of this week (Amari Cooper via trade and Marshawn Lynch to the IR).

Jameis Winston (at Cincinnati), Andy Dalton (vs Tampa Bay), Mitch Trubisky (vs NY Jets)

Jameis Winston had a rough showing against the Browns defense last week (32/52 for 365, 0 TD’s, 2 INT’s, 10 carries 55 yards, 1 TD). That shouldn’t necessarily be a surprise given the fact that Cleveland has been extremely strong against quarterbacks this season with their blitz aggressiveness and young secondary. Week 8 presents a much easier matchup for Winston, as the Bengals are allowing 20.9 points to opposing quarterbacks and are fresh off a week where Patrick Mahomes threw for 358 yards and 4 touchdowns. On the other side of the matchup, Andy Dalton has a wonderful matchup against the terrible Buccaneers defense allowing a league-worst 28.4 points per game. Baker Mayfield was able to throw for 215 yards and 2 touchdowns against them a week ago, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the veteran Andy Dalton could utilize his weapons to have a big week. At this juncture, Mitch Trubisky is a much better fantasy quarterback than a starting NFL quarterback. Trubisky completed 26 of 50 passes for 333 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. He also added an impressive 81 yards and a touchdown on just 6 carries, further entrenching himself as a dual-threat quarterback. Trubisky should have the means to exploit a Jets secondary allowing 17.4 points per game and starting a third-string safety opposite of Jamal Adams.

RB

Chris Carson (at Detroit)

Chris Carson enters a prime situation coming off his bye week, facing a Lions defense that has been hemorrhaging points to opposing running backs (31.3 points per week). Carson was the most productive back for the Seahawks entering week 7, turning 78 carries into 352 yards (4.5 per carry) for 1 touchdown. He’s also had a minor role in the passing game, catching 6 passes for 61 yards. The Lions are allowing opposing running backs to average roughly 6 yards per carry up the middle and even let Kenyan Drake average 12 yards per carry. Carson could find himself in an advantageous situation this week and is a solid stream option for the quality backs who will be missing in lieu of the bye week.

James White (at Buffalo)

We have a real Highlander situation going on in New England, and it would seem like James White is the last one standing. Once Sony Michel went down with a knee injury, White took on the lead back role to the tune of 11 carries for 40 yards and 8 catches for 57 yards and 2 touchdowns. White has been the most consistent presence in the New England backfield as Rex Burkhead and Sony Michel have missed time with injuries. While White will probably not see lead back carries this week, he will see more than usual to complement his usual value in the passing game. He draws a matchup against a Buffalo defense that just allowed Marlon Mack to gain 126 carries and a touchdown on 19 touches while adding 2 catches for 33 yards and another touchdown.

Phillip Lindsay (at Kansas City), Raheem Mostert (at Arizona), Lamar Miller (vs Miami)

Phillip Lindsay’s out of nowhere rookie campaign kept on rolling in week 7 as he converted 14 carries into 90 yards and a touchdown. He has even more upside this week as the Broncos defense will have their hands full trying to contain the explosive Chiefs offense. Kansas City is allowing a league-worst 36.7 points to opposing running backs and if the game script goes negative for Denver, that means even more work for Lindsay. Raheem Mostert continued to shine in the 49ers backfield against the Rams, carrying the ball 7 times for 59 yards and catching 4 passes for 19 yards. His workload seems to be expanding especially with Matt Brieda trying to battle through injuries. He gets a dream matchup in week 8 against the 2nd worst run defense in the league, with Arizona yielding 35.4 fantasy points per game and the most touchdowns (8) to running backs on the ground this season. With two weeks of production under his belt, Mostert has extremely high upside in week 8. Lamar Miller finally topped 100 yards in week 7 and got his 1st rushing touchdown of the season against the Jaguars. He draws an excellent matchup against Miami in week 8, a team that gives up an average of 31.2 points per game to opposing running backs and is coming fresh off a week where Kerryon Johnson ran for 158 yards. With the Texans receiving corp ailing, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Miller get fed touches so the Texans can control the game on the ground.

WR

Stefon Diggs (vs New Orleans)

In what will surely be one of the stranger fantasy lines you’ll ever see, Stefon Diggs found a way to gather just 10.6 points in a game where he caught 8 of 14 targets for 33 yards. While the stat line is very underwhelming, it was highly encouraging to see Diggs receive double-digit targets for the fourth time this season. Also, despite Adam Thielen’s insane start to the season, it is worth noting Diggs has actually out targeted him in 3 of their last 5 games. Both players should have an opportunity to thrive in week 8 against a Saints defense allowing a league-worst 51.2 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.

JuJu Smith-Schuster (vs Cleveland)

Juju has been thriving as the second receiver in Pittsburgh this season, in a highly efficient manner. He’s caught 42 of his 63 targets, registering 561 yards (13.4 per catch) and 2 touchdowns. While he gets a strong Cleveland pass defense in week 8, he did post a 5 catch, 119-yard performance against this defense in week 1’s overtime tie.

Jermaine Kearse (at Chicago), TY Hilton (at Oakland), Tyler Boyd (at Tampa Bay)

Jermaine Kearse probably burned a lot of fantasy owners in week 7, registering a 0 catch on 2 target performance against the Vikings defense. However, he has a much better matchup against the Bears defense that is allowing fantasy receivers to score 44.7 fantasy points per week against them. Sam Darnold loves throwing to the slot receiver, which is primarily where Kearse operates. TY Hilton hasn’t been getting his usual steady diet of explosive plays (12.8 yards per catch this year compared to 15.7 for his career), but Andrew Luck has been focusing on him heavily in the red zone (4 TD’s on 25 catches). This past week he caught 4 of 4 targets for 25 yards and 2 touchdowns against the hapless Bills. In week 8, he draws an awful Raiders team allowing 42 points per game to receivers, which gives Hilton a seriously high upside. Tyler Boyd had a disappointing week 7 against a usually poor Kansas City defense, catching 3 of 4 targets for 27 yards and no touchdowns. He draws a fantastic matchup against the horrible Buccaneers secondary in week 8 who has been allowing the 2nd most points to receivers at 47.3 points per game clip. Boyd has an excellent chance to get back on the map as the Buccaneers elect to focus on AJ Green.

TE

CJ Uzomah (vs Tampa Bay)

CJ Uzomah had a somewhat disappointing week for fantasy owners in week 7 against the Chiefs, registering only 2 catches on 2 targets for 13 yards, although he did find the end zone once. Uzomah saw his targets drop significantly compared to week 6, where he gathered 7 targets. The decrease in targets can likely be attributed to the fact that the Bengals got behind in a hurry and had to take deeper shots to their perimeter weapons. The Buccaneers defense has been picked on plenty in this space, especially in the start/tight ends section, with good reason. They are allowing a league-worst 19.6 points per week and allowed David Njoku into the end zone last week. They also just lost Kwon Alexander last week, leaving them even more vulnerable in the middle of the field.

David Njoku (at Pittsburgh)

Speaking of David Njoku, he has another prime matchup in week 8 after registering 4 catches for 52 yards and a touchdown against the aforementioned Buccaneers defense. It is clear that Baker Mayfield feels very comfortable throwing his way considering his steady target count the last 4 weeks (7, 11, 12, 6). He also has 2 touchdowns his last 2 weeks. Week 8 has a great potential matchup against the Steelers, allowing 18.6 fantasy points per week to tight ends.

OJ Howard (at Cincinnati), Jared Cook (vs Indianapolis), Ben Watson (at Minnesota)

It would seem that OJ Howard has great chemistry thus far with Jameis Winston, as he’s been targeted 13 times in the last two weeks. Against the Browns, Howard caught 5 of 9 targets for 67 yards, although he didn’t find the end zone. The Bengals are the 4th worst team against fantasy tight ends, allowing 17.5 points per week to the position. Howard is poised for another great week in the stat column. The Colts have been the 8th worst team against tight ends, allowing 14 points per game to the position. Jared Cook is in a great position to have a huge week in week 8, playing against a below average passing defense. Also, helping matters is the recent departure of Amari Cooper and the injury status of Marshawn Lynch, leaving a lot of touches out there. Cooks targets have been up and down all season, but he should have plenty of targets to absorb in this matchup. Ben Watson has been heavily targeted and efficient since Ted Ginn’s injury, collecting 10 looks. Last week against the Ravens, he caught all 6 of his targets for 43 yards and a touchdown. The Vikings have struggled against tight ends this season, giving Watson high upside yet again.

Sits

QB

Alex Smith (at NY Giants)

The Giants have actually been pretty average against the pass this season, allowing quarterbacks to score 18.0 points per week and collecting 10 touchdowns to 4 interceptions. However, Alex Smith has been out of sync with his receivers, registering his second straight week of less than 60% completions and less than 200 yards. While Smith isn’t making many mistakes (only 2 interceptions on the year), he also isn’t providing enough consistent upside to start on a weekly basis.

Blake Bortles (vs Philadelphia (in London))

One week after being benched at halftime against the Texans, Blake Bortles has regained a tenuous grip on the starting quarterback position for the Jaguars. Bortles was replaced by Cody Kessler after a 6 for 12 for 61-yard passing line in the first half. It has also been stated that Kessler will be getting some of the first-team reps in practice this week in case Bortles falters again. This doesn’t bode well for Bortles as quarterbacks haven’t had the most success in the London games and he draws a matchup against an average Eagles defense (18.9ppg). He can’t be started while we all know he has a quick hook.

Sam Darnold (at Chicago), Brock Osweiler (at Houston), Derek Carr (vs Indianapolis)

Sam Darnold has been very hot and cold this season, and we saw the worst version of Darnold last week. Darnold completed only 17 of 42 passes for 206 yards and 1 touchdown to 3 interceptions. He now has 10 touchdowns to 10 interceptions on the season. The Bears are only giving up 17.3 points to opposing passers and have the front 7 to keep Darnold on the run. Brock Osweiler’s resurgent Brocktober continued in week 8, as he completed 22 of 31 passes for 239 yards with 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions against the Lions. However, the Dolphins are dealing with various injuries in the receiving corp to the point where Kenyan Drake was getting slot receiver reps against the Lions on Sunday. Combine attrition with the short week Thursday night game and a Texans defense allowing only 16.5 points to opposing passers and you have a recipe for disaster. The Colts are allowing only 16.6 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, and they get a gift in week 8 in the form of Derek Carr missing his most talented wide receiver and running back. Carr has been highly efficient this season (71.7 completion percentage), but he isn’t taking deep shots and has more interceptions than touchdowns.

RB

Latavius Murray (vs New Orleans)

Latavius Murray continued to get a lot of work in week 7 in the absence of Dalvin Cook. Murray had 15 carries for 69 yards and 2 touchdowns, which wasn’t his greatest workload in terms of touches but still highly efficient. The Saints are allowing running backs to score only 18.0 points per week, which is the 5th best mark in the NFL. This game has a great chance to be a shootout, which could mean a lot of throwing from Kirk Cousins and a lack of solid touches for Lat Murray.

Carlos Hyde (vs Philadelphia (in London))

Carlos Hyde didn’t play in week 7 as he was traded late in the week from the Cleveland Browns to the Jacksonville Jaguars, however, this could be a net negative for his running situation. Hyde goes from a backfield in Cleveland where he was the lead rushing option (he was averaging 19 rushing attempts per game), and is inserted into a struggling Jacksonville offense that is missing several pieces on their offensive line and has another running back (TJ Yeldon) who has been very efficient and will take carries from him. Making matters worse, he is traveling to London this week to play an Eagles defense allowing running backs to only gain 19.3 fantasy points per week.

Isaiah Crowell (at Chicago), Christian McCaffrey (vs Baltimore), Alex Collins (at Carolina)

If you remove the huge performance against the Denver Broncos, Isaiah Crowell has been extremely average this season. In the 6 other games this season, Crowell has 66 carries for 240 yards (3.6 yards per carry) and 4 touchdowns. Crowell draws a Bears defense allowing only 17.8 points to opposing running backs and will most likely struggle to grind out serious yardage against the Bears. Christian McCaffrey has an extremely difficult matchup coming off a week of a difficult matchup. Against the Eagles, McCaffrey struggled to the tune of 7 carries for 29 yards and collected 6 catches for 51 yards. McCaffrey also hasn’t recorded a touchdown since week 5 against the Giants (his only one of the season). McCaffrey gets the best defense in the league against the run, Baltimore, in week 8. Baltimore is allowing 14.6 points to runners allowing less than 500 rushing yards, only 2 touchdowns, and under 150 receiving yards in 7 weeks. McCaffrey is likely a safe pivot this week. Alex Collins is only averaging 57 yards on the ground per game this season. While the Panthers are allowing 4.6 yards per carry to opposing rushers, they have been pretty stout against running backs overall, allowing the 7th best point total to rushers at 19.1 points per game.

WR

Alshon Jeffrey (vs Jacksonville in London))

Alshon Jeffrey has been great since the return on Carson Wentz, consistently gathering 8+ targets a game and routinely finishing second in yardage to Zach Ertz. Against the Panthers, Jeffrey grabbed 7 of 10 targets for 88 yards and a touchdown. Jeffrey draws a very difficult matchup as he will most likely get the lead coverage from Jalen Ramsey who has the size and speed to negate him in the passing game.

Devin Funchess (vs Baltimore)

Devin Funchess has continued to thrive in 2018 as the lead receiving option from Cam Newton. Coming off an 11 target, 6 catch, 62 yards and a touchdown game against the Eagles, Funchess draws a very difficult matchup against the Ravens. The Ravens are allowing only 31.4 points to fantasy receivers, and will probably choose to match Jimmy Smith up against Funchess to try and force Cam Newton to his other targets. Funchess could have some tough sledding in week 8.

Marvin Jones Jr (vs Seattle), Marquise Goodwin (at Arizona), Doug Baldwin (at Detroit)

Marvin Jones Jr. has been the clearly established 3rd option in Detroit the last four weeks, collecting a total of 20 targets in that span. Against the Dolphins, Jones Jr caught only 3 balls for 29 yards. Seattle is allowing only 33.8 points per game to opposing receivers and rarely allow big plays, instead of allowing teams to throw short so they can tackle at minimal gains. One week after exploding for 4 catches, 126 yards, and 2 touchdowns against Green Bay, Marquise Goodwin disappeared against the Rams. Goodwin caught 2 of his 5 targets for 24 yards as the 49ers struggled to get anything going. The Cardinals are allowing 35.3 fantasy points to receivers this season and still employ Patrick Peterson, who could draw the task of taking the explosive Goodwin out of the offense to keep the 49ers at bay. Doug Baldwin is coming off the bye, which should help his ailing knee. Going into the bye week, Baldwin was coming off a 6 catch (8 targets) 91-yard performance. The Lions are the 6th best defense against receivers, allowing 32.4 points per game and will likely employ Darius Slay to try and cancel out Baldwin and force Russell Wilson to his other, less capable, receivers.

TE

Jordan Reed (at NY Giants)

On the plus side, Jordan Reed has put together a healthy 2018 campaign. Unfortunately, Reed has yet to make a major impact in most of the Redskins contests, catching only 22 passes for 268 yards and 2 touchdowns. Against the Cowboys, he was able to parlay his 4 targets into 2 catches and 43 yards. His job gets more difficult against a stout Giants defense allowing opposing tight ends to average only 10 points per week.

Kyle Rudolph (vs New Orleans)

Kyle Rudolph had his most inefficient game of 2018, catching only 1 of 4 targets for 16 yards against the Jets. Rudolph’s value has taken a hit this season as he hasn’t had a touchdown since week 3 and only 2 total touchdowns on the season. Cousins is utilizing Adam Thielen heavily in the red zone and limiting Rudolph’s value significantly. The Saints are much stronger in the middle of the field than on the perimeter as evidenced by their 8.4 fantasy points per week.

Eric Ebron (at Oakland), Dallas Goedert (vs Jacksonville), Charles Clay (vs New England)

Eric Ebron has had an excellent fantasy season in 2018 but finally hit a speed bump in the form of the Buffalo Bills. Ebron caught only 3 of 7 targets for 31 yards and was held out of the end zone for the first time since week 3. With Marlon Mack emerging as a consistent backfield option and TY Hilton regaining his health and the Raiders giving up the 7th least points to fantasy tight ends on the season (9.7ppg), Ebron could be poised for another letdown. Dallas Goedert hasn’t been the most consistent option in 2018, but he’s coming off an excellent week of 4 catches on 5 targets for 43 yards and a touchdown. The Jaguars have been very strong against the tight ends, averaging 8.1 yards per game. The Eagles will most likely focus on getting Zach Ertz free, which could severely limit Goedert’s ability to have a good follow up performance. Charles Clay is coming off back to back weeks of 5 targets, catching 3 of them for 14 yards against the Colts. He has yet to find the end zone this season. New England’s calling card is taking away the top options from opposing offenses to try and force the second level options to make plays. Clay may be suffocated by a defense allowing only 10.9 points per week as they force Derek Anderson to throw to Kelvin Benjamin and the other perimeter options.

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