Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 8
The end of October draws near, and that means we’re already in the second half of the fantasy regular season. Week 7 was particularly chaotic, with plenty of what I saw Sean Koerner call “troll touchdowns.” All the way up to Marvin Hall’s Monday night TD, it just felt like obscure players were cashing in. The results may not follow the process some weeks, and that’s okay. Let’s see how Week 8 is shaping up.
I’m catering to all formats is impossible, but I’ll aim for context and to talk up/down players on suspected fringes for different types of leagues. The ECR given is for standard leagues since that’s what we are scored on. Please note that I’m using Tuesday night’s ECR and updates will surely roll in from Wednesday morning on, as well as injury news. I’ll use players that I’m higher or lower on against the consensus within a start/sit range from 10- to 14-teamers, or so.
Mitch Trubisky (vs. NYJ): Mariano Rank: 11, ECR: 13
Those who watched Trubisky and the Bears fall one yard shy of tying the Patriots in Week 7 on a last-second Hail Mary were likely impressed with Trubs’ ground game and a bit worried about his arm. At least, I don’t think it was just me.
Trubisky benefits from Jordan Howard’s continued ineffectiveness, which means either Mitch’s legs or arm have to get it done. Allen Robinson will hopefully be healthy, Taylor Gabriel can outrun Morris Claiborne, Anthony Miller would torch backup slot man Parry Nickerson if Buster Skrine remains out with a concussion, Trey Burton is coming alive and Tarik Cohen is a menace out of the backfield. Trubisky would be higher for me if I felt more comfortable about his executing the throws from start-to-finish, but his 17.5% rate of attempting throws of 20+ yards is second only to Josh Allen (18%), ahead of Patrick Mahomes’ 16.3% mark. He’s got wheels and slings it, so I’m in.
Russell Wilson (vs. DET): MR: 12, ECR: 14
Wilson and the Seahawks have several questions to answer coming out of their bye week, notably how well Wilson’s hamstring is, but a road date with Detroit is a nice spot regardless. The seventh-year QB has thrown three touchdowns in each of his last two games, where he also sprinkled in 21 and 20 respective rushing yards. His six rushes in Week 6 were a season-high mark, but the other big question is will he throw enough to be worthwhile?
After attempting 33 and 36 throws in his first two games, Wilson has averaged just 24 pass attempts in Seattle’s previous four contests — he’s completed more than 20 passes just once so far. His 13 pass TDs are helping float his value, and he’s been sacked just seven times in their last four games after taking a combined 12 sacks in their first two. Here’s hoping Doug Baldwin’s knees are ready for action out of the bye!
Deshaun Watson (at MIA): MR: 15, ECR: 10
Watson was an easy bench for me last week and while his matchup improves in Week 8, going from Jacksonville to a wilting Dolphins squad on Thursday night. The Texans are favored by seven at most Vegas books, though a few have 7.5, with a game total that’s been bet down to 44 at some books after a 45.5 open. With Watson still not 100% and likely to have little impetus to push things (including jeopardizing himself by running, something he did just twice last Sunday) then I can’t support him being in the top-12.
Cam Newton (vs. BAL): MR: 13, ECR: 11
Newton had fantasy owners terrified through three quarters in Week 7 before tearing the Eagles defense apart in the fourth quarter en route to a comeback victory. Cam and the Panthers return home for a date with the Ravens, who just held Drew Brees to 212 yards/2TDs and have given up the second-fewest average fantasy points to QBs in ’18. Newton and his legs usually ensure an above-average finish, but I think he just scrapes by that bar in Week 8.
Wendell Smallwood (at JAC): MR: 24, ECR: 30
The Jaguars defense is still good, but it’s bending thanks to an offense that sorely misses Leonard Fournette as a stabilizer. Most relevant to Smallwood is how Lamar Miller actually had a good day (22-100-1 on the ground), which means the Jags have yielded at least 85 ground yards and a touchdown to opposing RBs in three consecutive weeks.
The breakdown between Smallwood and Corey Clement makes both tough to trust, but Clement has played only 37% of snaps in his two games since returning from injury.
Ronald Jones II (at CIN): MR: 31, ECR: 39
It appears as though Jones’ time is coming in Tampa Bay. Or maybe I’m just reading into one wild game against Cleveland too much, but I think it’s convincing to see Jones get all four red zone touches by an RB compared to zero by Peyton Barber or Jacquizz Rodgers. No one looked great behind that broken O-line, but Jones did punch in a TD.
The Bucs now head to Cincy to face a Bengals squad that has given up 108 rushing yards per game to RBs — seventh-most in the NFL. I won’t be surprised if Jones rumbles in for another score as the Bucs try to see what they have in the rookie because they know the limits of Barber/Rodgers.
Kerryon Johnson (vs. SEA): MR: 19, ECR: 14
This is for you in shallower waters or reading with DFS intent. Johnson was electric on 20 touches in Week 7, leaving most of his fantasy owners (and Lions fans) wondering why Detroit didn’t get him the ball more. Well, as our own Mike Tagliere has pointed out several times, Johnson has said he works best in a committee and doesn’t want the volume of a bellcow. The upside is capped here and I’m not paying up for it this week, especially with LeGarrette Blount the clear short-yardage specialist.
Chris Carson (at DET): MR: 25, ECR: 19
Seattle’s rushing attack boasts three solid runners, but we’re finally seeing the Seahawks first-round pick, Mr. Rashaad Penny, come into the fold. Week 6 saw Carson tally 14 touches against Penny’s 11 and Davis’ seven. Carson is still the 1A here, but Penny has eaten into Davis’ 1B status. Detroit’s defense let Kenyan Drake break off a 54-yard TD on them and remains vulnerable, but I think Carson’s ceiling is 70 yards and a score here. That’s more flex-worthy than RB2 to me.
Doug Martin (vs. IND): MR: 30, ECR: 24
I realize many who picked up Martin likely did so out of necessity and that sitting him may not be an option as the bye-week blues hit. At that point, I just hope you’ll temper your expectations. I think Martin is good for at least 12-14 touches in an offense that lacks any real playmaker and doesn’t have a defense to lean on. The Colts defense is better than you think, even without any superstar anchoring them.
Donte Moncrief (vs. PHI): MR: 38, ECR: 48
Moncrief led Jacksonville’s wideouts by playing on 81% of their snaps as the offense imploded like a dying star, except there was no pop. The ex-Colt caught 7-of-10 targets for 76 yards in Week 7 but did get blanked in Week 6, so do mind the low floor. I don’t think anyone employing a Jacksonville WR is afraid of low floors at this point, though. Moncrief has 345 air yards over the last four weeks, good for 17th among WRs alongside a healthy 10.5 aDOT and a 20% target share in that span (16% for Dede Westbrook, 15% for Keelan Cole).
Jakeem Grant (vs. DET): MR: 39, ECR: 56
The Dolphins WR corps lost Kenny Stills (groin) and Albert Wilson (knee) in Week 7 and has to quickly turn around to play Houston on Thursday night. Danny Amendola will man the slot but most eyes will be on DeVante Parker, who will be active for Week 8 after barely playing thus far thanks to hand and quad injuries in ’18 (though his agent claimed he was healthy last week).
This all means big-play maverick Jakeem Grant will have a bigger role in Week 8, as indicated by his snap count rising to 70% after Wilson went down (it was 40% in Week 6). Give a guy like him enough chances and we could see him take that Week 3 line of 2-70-2 to the next level.
Devin Funchess (vs. BAL): MR: 37, ECR: 31
This Baltimore-Carolina tilt has the Ravens favored by roughly two points on the road with a game total settling at 43. Whether it’s Marlon Humphrey or Jimmy Smith, Funchess will have his hands full matchup-wise. I know Smith had some rust against Michael Thomas, surrendering two penalties and a touchdown, but it was his first start after all. And still, the Ravens have only allowed one receiver to gain more than 70 yards against them (Tyler Boyd in Week 2). Funchess is good, not great, and I can see this being a nasty 20-17 game where Funch is a TD-dependent WR4.
Robby Anderson (at CHI): MR: 43, ECR: 37
I’m writing this with the thinking that Quincy Enunwa sits again, though obviously, his playing would hurt Anderson’s target share anyway. Anderson has caught just 17 of his 36 targets thus far, including a meager 3-of-10 (for 44 yards) in Week 7. The Jets’ terrible offensive line could be even worse in Week 8 as center Spencer Wood suffered a leg injury against Minnesota, which means Sam Darnold may have 1.4 seconds per snap before Chicago’s front gets to him. Anderson’s biggest draw is his speed, but he needs time to get downfield. That’s time he’s unlikely to have in Week 8, and I don’t want to trust his short-route game.
C.J. Uzomah (vs. TB): MR: 11, ECR: 16
Uzomah has unquestionably stepped into Tyler Eifert’s role, logging snap counts of 92%, 92% and 97% in Cincinnati’s last three games. He’s only notched more than two targets in a game twice, but Week 8’s matchup against Tampa Bay is too good to pass up and Uzomah has caught 17-of-19 targets. The Bucs have given up the most fantasy points to tight ends despite having their bye week already and have yielded over 50 yards to six opposing TEs in their last five games. They’ve also surrendered a touchdown to a TE in four straight and just lost middle linebacker Kwon Alexander to a torn ACL.
Jordan Reed (at NYG): MR: 13, ECR: 11
Reed’s 259 air yards are the 13th-most by a TE in 2018 despite Washington lacking playmakers in the passing game and losing Chris Thompson, Jamison Crowder and Paul Richardson in recent weeks. In the case of Week 7, all three sat out. Reed was the best athlete running routes for Washington, yet he saw just four targets for two catches and 43 yards. He hasn’t done much when he finds the ball either, as his 97 yards after the catch are 19th out of TEs. He’s finally staying healthy but now he’s not good! I can’t trust Reed, Alex Smith, Jay Gruden or Matt Cavanaugh right now.