We were cruising over the last month, but last week’s article was terrible! We need to admit when we get things wrong, and I was downright awful last week with this piece. That’ll sometimes happen, but I strive to do better than what I showed. It was a challenging week from a bye week perspective, but that shouldn’t be a problem this week.
We actually have no teams on bye, and it’s hard to understand what the NFL scheduling team is doing. In any case, I am excited to break this slate down, so let’s get into it!
The premise behind this article is simple. Identifying fantasy football smash plays that are on the fringe of your starting lineup. We will rarely recommend a top-20 player at any position, but we want to help you fill those critical flex spots.
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Smash Starts for Week 8
Jared Goff (DET) vs. LVR
Goff has done a wonderful job of reviving his career with the Lions, and he’s truly a different player at Ford Field. Goff averaged over 24 fantasy points per game in nine home games last season. That might look like a fluke on the surface, but Goff has scored at least 27 fantasy points in two of three home games this year. He’s also established a 20-point floor on that friendly turf field, and we’re not worried about a matchup with Las Vegas. The Raiders rank 22nd in total defense this year, with the Lions entering this game as a 7.5-point favorite.
Isiah Pacheco (KC) at DEN
We had Pacheco in this same matchup a few weeks back, and we have to go right back to the well. This is simply the best matchup in fantasy right now, with Denver allowing the most yards and fantasy points to opposing rushers. That’s scary with the way Pacheco has been breaking out, scoring at least 13 fantasy points in five straight fixtures. That’s quite the run, but it’s no surprise since he’s getting 15 carries and a handful of targets in each game. The game script is beautiful, too, with the Chiefs being a 7.5-point favorite in this magnificent matchup.
Kareem Hunt (CLE) at SEA
Hunt was sitting on most waiver wires last week, but he needs to enter your starting lineup this week. He was already splitting work with Jerome Ford, but with Ford getting injured in Week 7, Hunt should get all the work he can handle here. That’s awesome since Hunt has 15 and 16 fantasy points in his two most recent outings while generating a 20-point average as a starter in the past. The matchup with Seattle isn’t too shabby either, with Seattle surrendering 18 fantasy points per game to opposing backs.
Dameon Pierce (HOU) at CAR
This is the riskiest option in the article, but signs point to Pierce having a breakout game. His role is the biggest influence, playing at least 59 percent of the snaps in two of his last three outings. That number plummeted before the bye, but Houston knows this guy is the future of their backfield, and now’s the time to ride him for the second half of the season. He’s still averaging 19 carries over the last three outings, and that type of role is incredible against Carolina. The Panthers are allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.
Terry McLaurin (WAS) vs. PHI
Scary Terry is the best receiver in Washington, and it looks like they’re finally feeding him like they should. McLaurin has at least 14 fantasy points in four of his last six outings, averaging 8.8 targets across his previous four fixtures. That’s the stud that’s made him a top-20 option over the last three years, and we definitely don’t want to fade him against Philly. The Eagles are allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts, and it’s a matchup Washington will have to throw to keep up with this elite Eagles offense. In their two matchups last season, Terry tallied 14 receptions for 230 yards, and he had eight catches for 86 yards in their Week 4 meeting a month ago.
Amari Cooper (CLE) at SEA
Nobody will want to use Coop after his dud last week, but we’re willing to go back to him. This stud still had nine targets in that ugly outing, recording at least six targets every game this year. He was starting to go off before that Week 6 stinker, scoring at least 16 fantasy points in three of his previous four games. One of those upside outings looks likely against Seattle’s secondary, surrendering the second-most fantasy points to opposing receivers this year.
KJ Osborn (MIN) at GB
Most people will be talking about Jordan Addison in this passing game, but Osborn has quietly stepped his game up as well. These two have had to do that with Justin Jefferson out, and Osborn is the one being overlooked. He’s playing in over 90% of the team’s snaps this season and had at least four catches and 47 yards in three straight outings. That’s a great floor from a waiver wire target, and those numbers could double since Addison will receive so much attention after his Monday Night explosion. The matchup is the icing on the cake, with the Packers ranked 22nd in points allowed.
Dalton Kincaid (BUF) vs. TB
Finding a fringe tight end option every week is tough, but Kincaid might be in this section numerous times over the next few weeks. This rookie was the top tight end in the draft, and Buffalo will finally unleash him now. An injury to Dawson Knox is what stirred the drink, with Kincaid collecting eight catches for 75 yards last week. Not many tight ends record eight receptions, and it’s possible his snap share gets above 80% with Knox sidelined. Tampa Bay is no easy matchup, but Kincaid is the second option for one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL right now.
Tennessee Titans D/ST (vs. ATL)
Not many people will pick up Tennessee, but this is such a brilliant spot for them. Coming off a bye, we should have this unit ready to go, especially in a home matchup with the Falcons. This Atlanta team ranks 29th in scoring while surrendering the fourth-most turnovers in the NFL. That’s terrifying against this tremendous Titans defense, ranked 10th in points allowed. It’s impossible to overlook the odds of this game because we’re looking at a minuscule 36-point total. A home team with a 36-point total should never be sitting on so many waiver wires, especially a well-coached one coming off a bye.