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Key NFL Week 8 matchups to leverage in fantasy football start/sit decisions

Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes the ball in the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Football is a game of matchups. There is a saying in fantasy football to “start your studs,” but we really want to rely on the players who will score the most fantasy points. Talent plays a big factor in which players score the most, but matchups also heavily contribute.

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Digging deep into the PFF database, here are four cases where the combination of how the two teams play or use their players will lead to bigger games by the offenses involved.

Expect big plays out of Kirk Cousins

Cousins was off to a hot start to the season, coming in as the QB7 after the first three weeks. He hit a little bit of a rough patch, but the last time we saw him he completed 33 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns. His increased fantasy production this season follows the consistent improvement we've seen out of Cousins in his career. His 2019 and 2020 seasons were better than any of his eight previous seasons, and now at age 33 he’s putting together a new career year.

Cousins is especially well suited to take on the Cowboys secondary. They run man defenses 41.7% of the time — the third-highest rate in the league. Vikings receivers have carved up defenses in man so far this season. In particular, this is where Justin Jefferson dominated with 3.81 yards per route run and an explosive play on 9.5% of his routes.

Kirk Cousins Man vs. Zone Coverage
Pass Grade Attempts Big-Time Throw % Turnover-Worthy Play % Yards Per Attempt aDOT
Man 91.2 65 5.6% 0.0% 8.7 8.2
Zone 76.7 164 2.7% 2.4% 7.3 6.9

This matchup on Sunday Night Football is expected to be the highest scoring of the week. Minnesota is expected to trail, which should mean plenty of passing out of Cousins. Trevon Diggs is still dealing with an ankle injury but is expected to play — clearly he won't be 100%. This all adds up to Cousins being a clear fantasy starter this week.

Related content for you: Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings & Tiers via Dwain McFarland

Elijah Mitchell can lead the 49ers to victory

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