News & Analysis

Sunday morning fantasy football decisions: Rankings, start/sit, sleepers, and busts for Week 8

(It’s Week 8 of the NFL season. This and every Sunday morning, we’ll wrap up the week in fantasy football content with our Study Session, a last-minute guide to our top advice of the week, featuring the highlights of that week’s analysis.)

Most people’s favorite part of fantasy football — or at least, most people’s favorite part of fantasy if you ask DFS commercials — is the draft. The research, the preparation culminating in several hours that will dictate how your season goes has a definite appeal.

But for me, it’s not the top.

I’m okay at drafting. I can’t be bad at drafting and do what I do. So I’m competent. But years and years of fantasy have shown me that the roster I leave the draft with is almost never good enough to win the title. Whether that means I’m not as good at drafting as I think I am/want to be, or my leaguemates are just also good drafters, I don’t know. But I do know that without trading, I would have a long run of fantasy futility.

I like best-ball, but this is why I’m not the most active best-ball player. But it’s also why trade talks are more fun to me than draft day.

I wrote once about a seven-hour texting session the night before the trade deadline in my league that culminating in four trades and a complete roster overhaul. This year hasn’t quite been that, but in my longtime home league, Jay Ajayi’s struggles and injury messed with my team to the extent that I have shuffled almost every spot.

I’ve uninvited people from my leagues who don’t believe in trading. It’s as much a part of a fantasy league as drafting, roster-setting, and the waiver wire. And man, it’s fun.

No analysis there. Just advocating for the fun.

If you need to make some trades, we have the advice for that. If you need to set your lineup, we have the advice for that. If you need … anything for fantasy, really, we have the advice for that. Here it is:

Live chats

We’ve added live chats to our weekly repertoire of advice Maybe your questions were answered, or maybe you can just use this resource to find answers to questions you had but never got to ask. We hold four each week — Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. Tuesday’s through Saturday’s chat are linked below, and Sunday’s will be live two hours before gametime.

Rankings and start/sit

These are the big-ticket items. Our overall look at what we’re doing and how we make those decisions. On Tuesday, Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down the best waiver claims of the week. Wednesday, he publishes his top 150 for that week. Thursday, Scott Barrett attempts to solve some of the top start-or-sit questions. Tuesdays also feature Mike Castiglione and Walton Spurlin offering advice for the key streamers (QB and DST, respectively). And Friday is the big blowout, where Jeff Ratcliffe highlights all the key lessons of the week and prepares fantasy players for the weekend to come. If you only read one piece of fantasy advice a week, it’s that.

Previewing the weekend in fantasy

There’s no good blurb to pull from this, because the whole thing is gold. Just click. Trust me on this.

A snapshot of the flex rankings

7.Antonio Brown, PIT vs CLE (WR2) — Brown is tied for the league lead in end-zone targets with 11, and that means touchdown upside.
8.James White, NE @ BUF (RB6) — With Sony Michel banged up, White projects to see a ton of work this week.
9.A.J. Green, CIN vs TB (WR3) — He has double-digit targets in each of his last three games and gets an extremely favorable matchup.
10.David Johnson, ARI vs SF (RB7) — He hasn’t rushed for over 100 yards in a game this season, but Johnson did score twice on the ground in his last meeting against San Francisco.

Two starts, two sits

START David Njoku in medium-sized leagues: Njoku has hit 50 yards receiving in four straight games. He’s scored a touchdown in each of his last two games. He’s seen between six and 12 targets in every game but one.
START Jordy Nelson in deep leagues: With Amari Cooper now out of the picture, I’m expecting a larger target share for Nelson, as well as more routes from the slot. Nelson has run the plurality – 40% of his routes – from the slot thus far, to Cooper’s 33%.
SIT Josh Gordon in shallow leagues: Gordon isn’t an outright fade. His volume has been too good and he’s on one of the league’s most potent offenses, but he does have an especially difficult cornerback matchup this week, projected to be shadowed by Buffalo’s Tre’Davious White.
SIT Carlos Hyde in medium-sized leagues: Hyde is an easy fade in his first game with the Jaguars. Jacksonville is one of just four teams to have an implied point total under 20.0 this week, and Philadelphia ranks best in rushing fantasy points per game allowed to opposing running backs for the second consecutive season.

Sleepers and busts for the week

SLEEPER: Mark Andrews: The Panthers have given up the third-most fantasy points per target to opposing tight ends, including allowing a league-high (tied) four touchdowns to the position.
BUST: Ben Roethlisberger: Big Ben has an underrated tough draw against the Browns, who have given up the second-fewest fantasy points per dropback to opposing quarterbacks this year. It’s a home game, which makes Roethlisberger tough to bench, but this divisional matchup is harder than people realize, and he’s more of a bust than boom candidate this week.

Waiver claims to make

ADD Tre’Quan Smith in shallow leagues: He wasn’t heavily targeted in Week 7, but Smith was ahead of Cameron Meredith in terms of routes run. And we know he’s capable of big games.
ADD Kenjon Barner in medium sized leagues: Sony Michel‘s injury could open up some more work for Barner, but keep an eye on the Patriots roster moves this week.
ADD Tyrod Taylor in deep leagues: Those in deeper leagues may want to stash Taylor just in case the Browns decide to trade him.

QB streamers

Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders: With a healthy implied total (24 points) and two weeks to prepare, Carr is someone I can get behind this week in 2QB leagues. For what it’s worth, he also got a big vote of confidence from coach Jon Gruden this week.

DST streamers

Philadelphia Eagles: Reports are that Jacksonville head coach Doug Marrone has decided to ride with Blake Bortles as the starting quarterback for Week 8. That is all we need to know to start the Eagles defense.

Deeper dives

You come to use for more than the surface material. Our writers go deeper with thoughts on situations down the road and looking deeper into each week’s games.

Long-term sleepers

Spencer Ware, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: The NFL trade deadline is October 30, and a string of recent injuries could have several competitive teams looking for a replacement back. If Ware ended up on the Patriots or Eagles, for example, he would instantly become a borderline RB1/2. A preemptive add could save you a lot of FAAB.

Snaps, Pace, and Stats

Washington at Giants: Washington heads up the east coast after hosting one divisional slog and land in the Jersey swamp for another. As riveting as their 119-play, 37-point tractor pull with the Cowboys was, we’ll want to avoid a sequel. Dallas has a well-earned reputation for their snap-sucking pace, but multiple division mates are becoming rivals in this area as well.

Trade value chart

Jared Cook, TE, Oakland Raiders: The fantasy fallout from the Amari Cooper trade was felt in Oakland, too. Cook was this week’s biggest riser on the trade value chart. He was already leading the team in targets (42), while Cooper was fourth on the team (30 targets). Cook’s already-high team target market share totals will see a bump.

Weather and venue adjustments

Chicago Bears: The weather looks a little spotty in a few spots, particularly in the Jets and Bears game in Chicago. The forecast there for the 1 p.m. start is for sub-50 temperatures and light rain. Mitchell Trubisky (+0.9) counterbalances those concerns thanks to the home venue and because of his Bortles-like propensity to produce on the ground.

RB committee report

Kenjon Barner trending UP: Barner was thrust into action against Chicago for 17 snaps, and he got a career-high 10 carries and went out on six pass routes. One of those carries came inside the 5. Figure on Barner being the between-the-tackles and short-yardage guy for as long as Michel is sidelined.
Duke Johnson trending DOWN: Hyde’s trade to Jacksonville was supposed to open up long-awaited (and deserved) opportunities for not only rookie Nick Chubb, but for Johnson as well. Instead, it was more of the same as Johnson was on the field for 51% of Cleveland’s offensive snaps but once was given only a handful of opportunities with the football.

DFS advice

We hit weekly DFS from all angles — bargains, stacks, fades, locks. We also look at the best ways to build a DFS lineup on DraftKings (tournament or cash game) and FanDuel (tournament or cash game). And Scott Barrett offers up his favorite tournament plays of the week on both primary sites.

Favorite tournament plays

Jameis Winston on DraftKings: As amazing as Patrick Mahomes has been (second-most fantasy points scored by a quarterback through seven weeks all-time), Tampa Bay’s QB1 has been better. Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick combine to average 28.1 fantasy points per game to Mahomes’ 28.0.
Jarvis Landry on FanDuel: Landry is again one of the most underpriced players on FanDuel relative to usage. He’s only the 15th-highest-priced player at the position, despite ranking third at the position in expected fantasy points per game.

Bargains

Phillip Lindsay, RB, Denver Broncos: The Chiefs defense has struggled most in the run game, where it ranks No. 31 and has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.
Michael Roberts, TE, Detroit Lions: We promise we’re not chasing touchdowns here. Roberts did score twice last week, but we think he’s due for at least another against a Seattle defense that will match up Bradley McDougald against him.

Locks

Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams: His team is a big home favorite (9 points against the Packers) with a high implied team total (33 points). Goff is appropriately priced as the third-most-expensive quarterback on FanDuel, but he’s somehow the 10th-most expensive option on DraftKings.
David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns: Njoku’s floor has been pure since Baker Mayfield took over as the starter. He has at least 50 yards in four straight games and a touchdown in two straight. He also has at least one big play (20-plus yards) in three straight games.

Stacks

Derek Carr, QB; Jalen Richard, RB; Jordy Nelson, WR, Oakland Raiders: The decision to trade Amari Cooper will make the Raiders an easier offense to scheme against, but this stack is completely gamescript-dependent. The goal is for the Raiders to fall behind, turn to Richard as they have throughout the season in catch-up mode, and attempt 50-plus passes.

Fades/Contrarian Plays

Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams: As always, Gurley is a scary fade, but given his ownership projections it’s the right call for large-field tournaments like the Millionaire Maker. We’re projecting him to be around 41% owned on both DraftKings and FanDuel, which would be almost double the next-closest player. Remember, in large-field tournaments, where the stakes are low, your chances of winning are low, and the prize pool is so top-heavy, a more contrarian approach gives us our best odds at a big payday.

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