Starts and Sits – Week 8
Quarterbacks – by Joey DeFeo
Baker Mayfield – Against a horrible Buccaneers defense the Browns could do absolutely nothing in the first half. It was starting to look like the Browns were going to do it again and completely implode but the 1st overall pick willed the offense into the game in the second half. He peppered Jarvis Landry and David Njoku with targets while Chubb pounded the ball on the ground. He led them to overtime where they suffered yet another heartbreaking defeat, but he at least got them to that point. Baker has looked like a rookie at times since taking over, but he has also looked terrific the rest of the time. Going into the Steel City to play the Steelers is a tall order, but it should leave plenty of opportunity for points to be scored. The Steelers secondary is very beatable, so Mayfield and crew should have very rewarding fantasy outputs.
Cam Newton – Cam gets one of the toughest defenses in the league this week as the Ravens make their way into Charlotte. The matchup seems like a red flag, but Cam has had one of the safest floors of all quarterbacks this season even against tougher defenses. His running ability gives him the option to stretch the defense and extend plays. It also gives him the chance to vulture touchdowns at the goal line, so don’t shy away from starting him against this tough matchup.
Aaron Rodgers – Before you freak out just “relax” and hear me out. Normally, Rodgers is a no brainer start, but have you seen his offensive line? Have you seen the Rams defensive line? With how high powered the Rams offense is they may rattle off a ton of points leaving the Packers in air it out mode. This is what would terrify me with Rodgers in my lineup as Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh will feast in pass rush mode. The secondary of the Rams is also no slouch so they will give the defensive line enough time to collapse the pocket and leave Rodgers open for a ton of hits throughout the game. If Rodgers is your only quarterback, then temper expectations but if you have better options use them.
Matthew Stafford – Another NFC North quarterback lands on the list not because of the matchup necessarily, but because of the rookie phenom they have found to run the ball. Kerryon Johnson has absolutely inserted himself into the offensive rookie-of-the-year discussion. The Lions continue to break rushing droughts that had been in place for years and in some cases decades primarily on the back of former SEC player of the year. With the new-found success they have found with their dominant offensive line and new stable of running backs they don’t have to lean on Stafford as much. This is good from a football perspective but not so good for fantasy owners who are used to him airing it out all game long. The Seahawks have also surprisingly continued to be good on the back end as well, so Patricia will likely look to exploit the front seven and run the ball for most of the game. Just like with Rodgers if you have a better option with a better outlook then use them otherwise don’t expect a huge fantasy day for Stafford.
Running Backs – by Brian Mackowick
James White – Did anyone else think James White would be a top-10 running-back (let alone top-6 in PPR) through seven games this season? Yeah, me neither. James White is set to crush his career usage figures this season as he’s on pace for 91 carries and 102 receptions. White is tied for the league lead in running-back targets at 61 (Saquon Barkley being the other), and I don’t expect that to slow against the Bills in week 8. With Sony Michel potentially sitting this week, and with Kenjon Barner the only other healthy RB currently on the roster, lock James White in as an RB1 this week.
Phillip Lindsay – Lindsay is another player that may benefit from an injured teammate as Royce Freeman is dealing with a sprained ankle, and is considered day-to-day currently. Regardless, Lindsay has been relatively productive with the touches he has seen and he currently sits at RB15 in PPR leagues. On the road this week against Kansas City, Lindsay has several factors playing into his favor: Freeman is potentially out, KC is allowing the 2nd most fantasy points to running backs (and the most receiving yards to RBs), and the likely negative game script for Denver should result in plenty of passing game work for Lindsay. Plug in Phillip Lindsay as a solid RB2 for this week.
Doug Martin – Following the news that Marshawn Lynch is headed to IR, I’m anticipating a lot of Doug Martin waiver-wire adds this week. I’m just not sold that he’s worth it. Doug Martin’s last three seasons (2016 – 2018) have included a total of 309 carries for just 926 rushing yards (2.99 ypc), including 27 carries for just 99 yards this season. In that time, he has had just six total touchdowns. Even at home against a beatable Colts defense who gave up a 16/81/0 (5.0 ypc) line to Chris Ivory in week 7, I think you’re banking on Martin getting some goal-line work and finding the end zone here to be worth starting. Leave Martin on the waiver wire.
Kenyan Drake – Drake has finally shown up twice in his last three games to provide two RB10 performances in PPR leagues (weeks 5 & 7). However, if I own Drake I’m looking elsewhere this week. Drake’s touch volume continues to disappoint as he saw just six carries and four catches last week against the Lions. On a short week and on the road against a Houston defense that has held up well against the last three starting backs they’ve faced (48 carries, 155 yards combined for Zeke, McCoy and Yeldon), I’m not banking on Drake breaking a 54-yard TD run like he did in week 7. Keep him on the bench for this one.
Wide Receivers – by Joey DeFeo
Alshon Jeffrey – The Eagles looked to have a win in the bag against the Carolina Panthers this past week. Cam Newton and company had other plans as they extinguished a 17-0 deficit to defeat the Eagles. The tough loss shouldn’t fall on Alshon Jeffrey as he continued to be successful, reeling in his fourth touchdown of the year. The Jaguars may look like a tough opponent, but they are spinning out of control highlighted by a 40-7 trouncing at the hands of the Cowboys. Alshon is a safe play for a touchdown even against a tough matchup on paper.
Larry Fitzgerald – It is almost criminal what the new regime in Arizona has done to the future hall of famer. He only has two double-digit performances through the first seven weeks of the season. It is disappointing to say the least as many owners took him in the early rounds hoping for continued success from previous seasons with Bruce Arians. It was not the case as Mike McCoy torpedoed the offense. After seven weeks we finally can breathe a sigh of relief as he was fired, and Bruce Arians’ understudy Byron Leftwich was promoted to Offensive Coordinator. The familiarity between Leftwich and the Arians success on offense should finally return Fitz to fantasy relevance. At home against an injury plagued division rival, I expect a revival of the Arizona Cardinals offense as a whole.
Julian Edelman – If you look closely at Edelman’s output since returning from suspension the numbers can be a little misleading. Outside of two touchdowns he hasn’t been that trustworthy. He has rewarded as a flex play solely because of those two touchdowns as otherwise he hasn’t surpassed 57 yards in a game. Gronk should return this week against Buffalo on the road which is much better against the pass then it is against the run so there are even less targets to go around. James White also seems to have become Brady’s favorite outlet, so I predict Edelman’s first single-digit fantasy output of the season.
Doug Baldwin – Baldwin terrified everyone when he finished his second game back from injury with one catch for one yard. Many were panicking on if he would pay any dividends this season. Baldwin rewarded the ones who stayed faithful the very next week with six catches for 91 yards. He very well could have finished with more, but the Seahawks controlled the game from the onset as the Raiders are in complete meltdown mode. Baldwin had the bye week to help heal and rest a bit but don’t expect another good performance as they get to travel to the motor city and face Darius Slay and the Lions Secondary. The Lions are close to the top of the league in sacks with most of them resulting from great coverage downfield. I expect the Seahawks to try and pound the ball at the line of scrimmage as opposed to testing the Lions secondary so expect a down day from Baldwin.
Tight Ends – by Brian Mackowick
Trey Burton – Burton was the top tight end play in week 7, putting up a strong 9/126/1 line at home against the Patriots. The matchup this week at home against the Jets isn’t quite as strong on paper, as the Jets have given up the 11th fewest points to the position. However, they haven’t faced many strong tight-end matchups. While they did hold Kyle Rudolph to just one catch on four targets last week, they allowed a combined 6/107/2 to the position against the Colts the week prior at home. Trey Burton has now scored in three straight games, and saw a season-high in targets with 11 in week 7. I expect a continuation of the strong usage, and believe he will again be a fringe top-5 play at the position this week.
O.J. Howard – Coming into this season, Jameis Winston’s career passer ratings by position were as follows: 95.8 to RBs, 90.3 to slot WRs, 76.6 to outside WRs, and… 120.7 to tight ends. Through three games played this season, Winston has thrown five TDs, and three have gone to the TE position. Facing a Cincinnati defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to the position this season, O.J. Howard is a no-brainer start this week. Cameron Brate has some obvious upside as well, but Howard has dominated the target share for the position with Winston under center.
Kyle Rudolph – If you’re like me, you have several shares of Kyle Rudolph and are currently contemplating whether this is the week to finally cut bait. While I’m not ready to let go of the guy, I’m certainly looking for a replacement this week as Rudolph faces a Saints defense that has allowed just 21 catches, 211 yards and one touchdown to the position over six games. Additionally, Rudolph’s targets have been slipping since week two. Here are his target totals over the last six weeks: 8, 6, 6, 5, 5, 4. Though I do expect Cousins to have a solid game, and acknowledging the overall lack of depth at the position, if you have another startable option I would consider benching Rudolph this week.