After dealing with multiple teams on byes over the last few weeks, Week 8 is an oasis of availability for fantasy managers. That doesn’t mean starting just anyone based on where they were drafted way back in August. Below are the riskiest and safest plays of Week 8.
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Safest & Riskiest Starts for Week 8
Gus Edwards (RB – BAL) vs. Arizona Cardinals
Not too long ago it looked like Justice Hill might be the preferred option in the Ravens’ backfield. His speed and pass-catching ability work well for a Todd Monken offense. However, Hill has struggled with routine hand-offs from Lamar Jackson, leading to several fumbles. One came against the Lions in Week 7 and had Jackson throwing his helmet on the sidelines.
Edwards has been a top-40 back for four weeks running, including Sunday’s RB6 performance against the Lions. Edwards isn’t someone we can count on for top-12 weeks, but, as a plug-and-play Flex, he will be a reasonable value, especially this week opposite the Cardinals.
Christian Kirk (WR – JAC) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Zay Jones continues to deal with injuries while Calvin Ridley just plain continues to struggle. Kirk, on the other hand, has been a top-30 option for six weeks running. He faces a Steelers’ defense in Week 8 that has struggled against slot receivers, allowing a league-high 186.2 points. This total is 21 points more than any other team, despite the fact the Steelers have only played six games.
Derrick Henry (RB – TEN) vs. Atlanta Falcons
It seems possible that Ryan Tannehill might be out for this week’s game against the Falcons. No matter which quarterback – Malik Willis or Will Levis – starts in Tannehill’s place, it be sensible to lean on Henry. The 29-year old running back might be past his peak, but, against the Ravens two weeks ago, Henry showed that he can still break off a monster run at any point.
The Titans are happy to run Henry out of the wildcat formation at any point too. The team does not do much well, but when the running game is ticking, they’re usually at their best.
Jared Goff (QB – DET) vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Goff and the Lions might have been thoroughly embarrassed by a superior Ravens’ offense and defense this past week. This week, they get a perfect opportunity to bounce back against a hopeless Raiders’ team that may or may not be without Jimmy Garoppolo.
The Raiders’ defense has allowed the 10th-most total points to opponents, and that is slightly more impressive than it should be due to playing the Bears, Patriots, and Packers in recent weeks. Prior to Week 7, Goff had back-to-back 20-plus point games on his CV. With David Montgomery still out, this feels like a get right spot for the Lions’ passing offense.
Josh Palmer (WR – LAC) vs. Chicago Bears
It seems impossible to have any hope for Quentin Johnston in the immediate future. Despite the lack of Mike Williams in the Chargers’ offense as well as playing 45-plus percent of the snaps in the last three games, Johnston has totalled only two catches on seven targets for 38 yards. Meanwhile, Palmer has seen 22 targets in that time, turning them into 270 yards while playing at least 85 percent of snaps each week.
The Bears allow the third-most passing yards per game (258) as well as the second-most passing touchdowns per game (2.0). Palmer is an easy start this week, and will be until Quentin Johnston does anything.
Dameon Pierce (RB – HOU) vs. Carolina Panthers
When Pierce burst onto the scene in 2022, many people thought it was an awful miss by 31 other teams to let him fall to the fourth round of the draft. In his rookie campaign, he averaged 4.3 yards per carry on 220 attempts, coming close to a thousand yards.
So far in 2023, Pierce is yet to average over 3.5 yards per carry in a single game. He has scored single-digit PPR points in four of six games and hasn’t topped 15 at all – something he managed in four of 13 games last year.
The Texans’ strength has been the passing game. With only three total targets in his last three games, it’s not like we can count on Pierce to prop up his fantasy scores with receiving numbers.
Miles Sanders (RB – CAR) vs. Houston Texans
On the other side of this fixture is another disappointing running back. Sanders has finished as a top-20 RB once through five games this season. In the Week 5 game against Miami, which Sanders missed due to injury, Chuba Hubbard filled in admirably, rushing 19 times for 88 yards and a touchdown as well as hauling in his only target.
This week, Frank Reich talked about being more open to a committee approach moving forward. It makes sense given the evidence we’ve seen. Sanders isn’t a difference maker at the moment, and Hubbard has some juice.
The Texans have been solid against the run, allowing only 3.9 yards per carry. If you’ve had to cope without Sanders for the last two weeks, it might be worth trying to find a way to wait out this week as well.
Jordan Love (QB – GB) vs. Minnesota Vikings
After starting off the season with a pair of top-six fantasy performances in the first three weeks, Love has rather crashed back down to Earth recently with performances good for QB12, QB24, and QB12 again. He has also thrown for less than 200 yards in both of his last two appearances despite the return of Christian Watson.
The Vikings’ defense has been a pleasant surprise this season, allowing 5.1 yards per attempt on defense. That’s good enough to rank 13th in the league. The unit has also forced two interceptions in each of their last two games.
Love’s propensity to drive the ball downfield plays into the blitz-happy Vikings’ hands. It could be a messy day for Love.
Matthew Stafford (QB – LAR) vs. Dallas Cowboys
There are weeks to play Stafford, and then there are weeks in which it’s best to take a time-out and find a better streaming option. The veteran QB faces one of the leagues best defenses this week after having to deal with Pittsburgh’s beastly defensive line last week. Stafford completed less than 50 percent of his passes in Week 7, and he hasn’t completed more than 15 passes since Week 5.
The Cowboys have allowed the second-fewest points on defense at just 16.6 per game. They have also allowed the second fewest first downs per game at 18.6. With games against the Packers and Seahawks ahead, it’s better to wait on better matchups for Stafford.
Alexander Mattison (RB – MIN) vs. Green Bay Packers
After a few weeks in which it seemed like Cam Akers wasn’t going to be a problem for Mattison, the prior saw 10 carries and three targets on Monday Night Football. Mattison is clearly still the RB1 of the offense, but he’s been horribly inefficient this year, averaging 4.0 yards per carry while frequently getting stuffed at the line of scrimmage.
Mattison saw only eight carries on MNF in what was a worrying game for fantasy managers. The Packers have allowed 4.5 yards per carry on defense, the eighth most. Still, it’s difficult to trust Mattison to capitalize.