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NFL Draft

Fantasy Football Week 8 Sneaky Starts

  • The Draft Network
  • October 31, 2020
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How has the start of the season treated you? Regardless of your record, this year has been more chaotic than any other. Week 8 will present its own set of challenges. Whether you’re looking to stay undefeated, jockeying for position in the fantasy playoff race, or fighting back after a rough start, this column is for you. Let’s take a look at some players flying under the radar who are sneaky starts in Week 8 (please note, all players below are currently starting in fewer than 20% of leagues):

QUARTERBACKS

Teddy Bridgewater (QB - CAR)

Start fantasy quarterbacks playing against the Falcons. PERIOD. No team in the NFL has allowed more passing yards (2,334) and passing touchdowns (19) this season than Atlanta. The Falcons are also allowing the third-highest completion percentage (71.4%) and have the sixth-lowest sack percentage (3.5%). This matchup is a quarterback’s dream, even on Thursday Night Football. Bridgewater has scored at least 19 fantasy points in three of his last four games and had 20.82 when these two teams met in Atlanta back in Week 5. He’s a solid QB1 fill-in option if you’ve been relying on Kyler Murray, Deshaun Watson, Gardner Minshew, Cam Newton, Drew Brees, or Ben Roethlisberger this season. 

RUNNING BACKS

JaMycal Hasty (RB - SF)

We’re running out of healthy running backs in San Francisco (and in general), so the next man up is Hasty, the undrafted rookie out of Baylor. Hasty has looked quite explosive in his limited work and will only have to compete with Jerick McKinnon for touches in Week 8. While I don’t expect McKinnon to be invisible like he was last week, I can see Hasty getting the bulk of the early-down work while McKinnon gets the majority of the work in pass-catching/blocking situations. Seattle hasn’t been as bad against the run as they have been against the pass (damning with faint praise), but the 49ers can, and will, run on anyone. I’d be willing to play Hasty as an RB2 this week.

Zack Moss (RB - BUF)

Buffalo is starting to ramp up the workload from Moss who is now set to play in his third game back from injury. The rookie saw 10 touches in Week 7 and I expect a nearly 50% increase this week. Based on the way he’s been used, it does not appear like the Bills want Devin Singletary to be the guy in that backfield. The timeshare is going to continue and Moss could see the lion’s share of the goal-to-go work moving forward. There’s no reason to fear the Patriots’ defense anymore, so if you’re in a bind, Moss can get you 10 points with some upside to score a touchdown. 

La’Mical Perine (RB - NYJ)

Starting a Jet is never fun, but neither is the fantasy running back landscape right now. Perine got a career-high 13 touches against the Bills on Sunday and played on 70% of the team’s offensive snaps. Perine has significantly outsnapped Frank Gore over the last two weeks (81 to 41) and I expect that to continue in Week 8 and beyond. The Chiefs are just a middle-of-the-pack defense against fantasy running backs this season, so Perine could see around 8-10 first-half carries before grabbing a few receptions in the second half with the Jets down by eleventy-billion. If he plays the majority of New York’s offense snaps again, he could get you 10 points. 

WIDE RECEIVERS

Brandon Aiyuk (WR - SF)

The football has to go somewhere against this Seattle defense, so why wouldn’t Jimmy Garoppolo go to the rookie coming off of the best game of his career? Aiyuk caught six of his seven targets for a career-high 115 receiving yards in Week 7 after Deebo Samuel went down, and now Samuel is expected to miss at least a couple weeks. I cannot stress how bad this Seattle secondary is. They are allowing a whopping 60.2 fantasy points per game on average to wide receivers this season—that’s nearly 12 (!) points per game more than the next worst team (Cleveland). With Aiyuk as the clear-cut WR1 and No. 2 pass-catching option behind tight end George Kittle, he’s not only a sneaky start but a must-start.

Corey Davis (WR - TEN)

Davis is averaging 14.3 fantasy points per game in his four games this season, which ranks as the WR26. He hasn’t had fewer than 11.9 fantasy points in any of those games this season and gets a neutral matchup against a Bengals secondary that ranks right in the middle of the pack against fantasy wide receivers. If the Titans-Bengals game is the shootout I expect it to be, there will be plenty of looks for both A.J. Brown and Davis, the latter of which is averaging 7.25 targets per game this season. Davis is ranked as a top-30 wide receiver this week. 

Curtis Samuel (WR - CAR)

The No. 3 option in Carolina makes his way into WR3 territory this week courtesy of a great matchup against the Falcons. Atlanta is allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season, and Samuel is getting a fairly steady workload even if he’s been unspectacular. Samuel is averaging 6.8 touches per game this season and the Falcons are allowing 2.73 fantasy points per touch to wide receivers this season (and 6.2 yards per carry). I don’t see massive upside here, but if you just need someone to get you 11-12 points, Samuel is a safe bet. 

TIGHT END

Richard Rodgers (TE - PHI)

Rodgers got eight targets last week while holding down the fort for the injured Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, and now gets another chance to shine in prime time against the Cowboys. I trust that Carson Wentz will look his way plenty against Dallas’ porous secondary—Wentz targets tight ends on 29.5% of his throws, the fourth-highest mark in the NFL. Rodgers finished with a 6/85/0 last week and could post a similar stat line in Week 8. He’s a top-10 tight end in my rankings.

Harrison Bryant (TE - CLE)

The only thing Baker Mayfield loves more than doing commercials is throwing touchdowns to tight ends. Bryant, filling in for Austin Hooper, caught two of Mayfield’s five touchdowns on Sunday and is in line to start again this week. Mayfield targets tight ends on 28.8% of his passes, the fifth-highest mark in the NFL this season. While the Raiders aren’t a particularly great matchup, it’s nothing to run from either. Asking for two touchdowns again is a bit much, but getting double-digit fantasy points is not out of reach.

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