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NFL Draft

Fantasy Football Week 8 Start/Sit Advice

  • The Draft Network
  • October 28, 2020
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Welcome to Week 8’s start/sit column. Each week throughout the regular season, I will go over a few players at each major position and tell you whether you should make room in your lineup for them or pull them out of a starting spot. Players labeled “starts” are non-obvious options that either have a good matchup or are trending in the right direction, ranking higher for me than consensus this week. Players labeled “sits” are ones I have concerns about leading into the week but are in a significant amount starting lineups. This article is most helpful for those in full- or half-point PPR leagues. 

As always, you should make the final call on all of your lineup decisions. This column is intended to be a piece of your research puzzle and/or a resource to highlight some specific names that may have been overlooked in my weekly rankings. Remember, the Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Washington Football Team are on bye this week. 

Without further ado, here is Start/Sit for Week 8:

QUARTERBACK

START: Carson Wentz (QB - PHI)

I’m not 100% sure I’m really buying back into Wentz, but I am completely sure that the Dallas Cowboys’ defense is terrible. While fantasy quarterbacks haven’t consistently lit them up—because they don’t have to when you’re allowing a league-high 178.3 yards per game on the ground—I think that changes this week. The Eagles rank in the bottom five in the NFL in rushing attempts per game this season (23.9) and will likely be without starting running back Miles Sanders again. So, Wentz will be throwing early and often against a porous Dallas secondary. There’s at least one boneheaded interception coming, but in the end, like it’s been for the past month now, Wentz will do enough to end the night with a nice fantasy performance. Over the last five weeks, Wentz ranks as the QB6 in average fantasy points per game (24.7). He’s a top-10 play this week.

START: Joe Burrow (QB - CIN)

Although Burrow might seem like an obvious start, he’s surprisingly rostered in only 57% of leagues and was started by fewer than half of the managers that rostered him in Week 7. He proceeded to throw for 406 yards and had four total touchdowns—his 33.64 fantasy points were a career high. To be fair, however, Burrow was coming off of three sub-par fantasy performances (15.1, 4.32, and 16.72 points, respectively) in a row, but you always trust the talent in a good matchup, especially at home. That’s exactly what Burrow has again this week as he takes on a Titans team allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season—Tennessee is allowing only 1.3 fewer points per game to fantasy quarterbacks than Cleveland, Burrow’s opponent last week. Burrow is appropriately ranked as not only a QB1, but as a top-seven option this week.

SIT: Tua Tagovailoa (QB - MIA)

This is probably cheating to have Tagovailoa here in his first career start, but I wanted to drive home the point of not getting too cute. It’s easy to look at the success that Burrow and Justin Herbert are having and just assume we’ll get something similar from the former Crimson Tide star. I’m not so sure. This is not meant to be an analysis of Tagovailoa’s long-term outlook, but for Week 8 against a stout Rams defense allowing the seventh-fewest points to fantasy quarterbacks this season, Tagovailoa simply can’t be in your lineup outside of two-QB leagues. Miami’s receivers struggle to get any separation, so I don’t know where the easy throws are going to come for the rookie. I’m downgrading all of the top Dolphins for this week until we see how Tagovailoa adjusts to the speed of the NFL.

RUNNING BACK

START: Giovani Bernard (RB - CIN)

Despite being the clear starter last week with Joe Mixon out, Bernard still didn’t reach 70% ownership in ESPN leagues. That’s baffling to me. Bernard has been a quality fill-in for Mixon for a few seasons now, and has a niche weekly role for himself even when Mixon is active. Bernard scored 18.1 fantasy points last week as the starter and gets a better matchup this week against the Titans. Tennessee has allowed the 12th-most fantasy points per game to running backs this season. Plus, given that this game feels like a shootout in the making, Bernard has some flex value strictly as a pass-catcher even if Mixon is active—especially since Mixon won’t be 100%. 

START: Boston Scott (RB - PHI)

If Sanders is out, Scott is a must-play. Sure, he needed the game-winning touchdown catch to salvage his fantasy day last Thursday, but he’s playing the Cowboys this week—you know, the same team I mentioned above as allowing 178.3 rushing yards per game? Dallas is allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per game to running backs this season (30.3) and Scott has no competition for rushing attempts. So while he may only get 12-14 carries and 3-4 catches, he should be able to make the most of them, especially since the Cowboys are allowing nearly .93 fantasy points per touch to running backs in 2020.

SIT: Devonta Freeman/Wayne Gallman/Robot Tiki Barber (RBs - NYG)

This one is very simple: Don’t play any non-elite running back against the Buccaneers. If you follow that mantra, you’ll be just fine way more often than not. No team in the NFL is allowing fewer rushing yards per game than Tampa Bay (66.0). This trend dates back to last season as well. They’ve completely shut down the likes of Alvin Kamara, Melvin Gordon, and Josh Jacobs this season. You need to find the end zone at least once if not twice to have a decent day against them—like Christian McCaffrey in Week 2 when he scored twice despite being held to fewer than 60 yards on the ground on 18 carries. I don’t care who the starting running back for the Giants is on Monday night, they don’t need to be anywhere near your fantasy lineup. 

WIDE RECEIVER

START: Diontae Johnson (WR - PIT)

I felt compelled to put Johnson as a “start” this week because many are going to run away from the matchup against the Ravens. That’s completely understandable since Baltimore is allowing only 1.59 fantasy points per target to wide receivers this season. However, when Johnson is playing at full capacity, he’s the straw that stirs the drink in the Pittsburgh receiving corps. In his three fully operational games this season, Johnson is averaging 12.7 targets, 7.7 receptions, 76.3 yards, and 20.6 fantasy points. That kind of workload would get Johnson near 20 fantasy points even against the Ravens’ stingy averages. There’s always the risk he leaves early with an injury, but I still have him ranked as a low-end WR2 this week despite the matchup. His chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger gives Johnson WR1 upside any given week.

START: A.J. Green (WR - CIN)

Welcome back to fantasy relevance, A.J. After being skeptical following his Week 6 performance, I’ve bought back into Green as a WR3/flex option moving forward, especially in this matchup. The Titans have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season, and Burrow has proven that he’ll spread the ball around plenty to multiple receivers. I expect a shootout with the Titans, so Green should continue to get the double-digit targets he’s seen over the last two weeks. The end zone has eluded him this season, but you’ll certainly take an 8/90/0 line from him in PPR. For reference—and to provide context to the stat listed both above and below—the Titans are allowing 1.96 fantasy points per target to wide receivers this season. 

SIT: Chase Claypool (WR - PIT)

I’ll qualify this by saying that Claypool still sneaks inside my top-40 overall wide receivers this week, but you likely have 2-3 better options for your starting wide receiver and flex spots. While it’s always a little scary to sit a big-play weapon because they can go off at any time, I don’t love the matchup and don’t love what his potential usage looks like with Johnson back in the lineup. In the three games where Johnson was at full capacity this season, Claypool is averaging just two catches on two targets for 41.7 receiving yards and one total touchdown (8.4 fantasy points per game). As mentioned, the Ravens are allowing fewer than 1.6 fantasy points per target to wide receivers this season and only three receiving touchdowns to the position as a whole. This isn’t the matchup to rely on a high-ceiling, low-target player, which is why I like Johnson so much more. 

TIGHT END

START: T.J. Hockenson (TE - DET)

I’ve been asked this question a bunch already, so I’ll address it here. No, I’m not benching Hockenson this week because of his matchup with the Colts. Yes, Indianapolis is ranked as the No. 1 defense in the NFL against tight ends this season. However, what tight ends have they faced? Tyler Eifert, Kyle Rudolph, Chris Herndon, Jimmy Graham, Austin Hooper, and Drew Sample. Are any of those guys considered in the top 15 at their position? Hooper likely is, and he had five catches for 57 yards a few weeks back. Hockenson has scored in three straight weeks and ranks as the TE6 in average fantasy points per game this season (12.3). He’s still a top-10 tight end this week.

SIT: Evan Engram (TE - NYG)

Engram is ranked outside of my top-15 tight ends this week for two reasons. First, he has a tough matchup with the Buccaneers, a team ranked in the top 10 when it comes to defending fantasy tight ends this season. Second, Engram’s usage has been all over the place. While he’s averaging 6.3 targets per game this season, he has five or fewer in three of his seven starts and three or fewer in two of his last three. You can’t trust the workload and the matchup won’t bail you out. I simply won’t be putting Engram in any of my lineups this week.

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