News & Analysis

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

(Each week, the Sunday Study Session will feature a quick-hit look at our top fantasy football advice of the week to help you prepare for that week’s fantasy slate, as well as links to our full writeups. For last-minute research and prep, this is the place.)

Tinkering makes sense in fantasy football — especially DFS, but anywhere where you’re setting a lineup. But it can be frustratingly easy to slide into overtinkering, and that’s where mistakes lie.

I have a redraft league roster with Christian McCaffrey, David Johnson, Chase Edmonds, and Tevin Coleman (I traded well). Obviously, all things being equal, McCaffrey and Johnson are my starters. But the Arizona backfield situation has had me switching between Johnson and Edmonds all week, or just ignoring the situation altogether and going to the more-predictable-but-lower-upside Coleman.

That problem matters, and I should give it its due thought. But as I write this, it’s Sunday morning, and Edmonds is in my lineup. Barring some further news breaking — Johnson is a surprise active, Matt Breida is a surprise inactive, something to change their outlook — I’m locked. Last-minute switches for no new reason reek of desperation. I don’t change lineups on Sunday unless something external happens to make me make a change.

Tinker. Don’t overtinker.

On to the Week 8 advice.

Season-long league advice

These are the pieces that will help you build your roster and set your lineup each week. On Tuesday, Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down the best waiver claims of the week, while Scott Barrett breaks down the streaming defense candidates and Lee Sifford picks out streaming quarterbacks. Daniel Kelley looks at the players rising and falling in the rankings. Wednesday is Jeff’s top 150 flex rankings, Daniel’s peek at the best and worst matchups of the week, and Scott’s Expected Fantasy Points metric. There’s also the indispensable trade value chart. Thursday, Daniel returns with his weekly sleepers and busts, while Scott Barrett breaks down the key start and the sits of the week. And finally, Jeff is back Friday with his weekly focus, taking a full look at the whole weekly slate from every angle.

Previewing the weekend in fantasy

For most of these pieces, we’ll pull a blurb to highlight and offer up a key takeaway. For this piece, though? It’s worth a full read. Beginning to end, Jeff brings the crucial info.

A snapshot of the flex rankings

11. Todd Gurley, LAR vs CIN (RB8) — He’s been frustrating to own this year, but Gurley gets a big-time matchup boost this week.
12. Cooper Kupp, LAR vs CIN (WR4) — Likewise, Kupp gets a solid upgrade against the lackluster Bengals.
13. Aaron Jones, GB @ KC (RB9) — Week 6 was just a minor blip on the radar. The Packers had Jones right back in as the lead back last week.
14. Chris Godwin, TB @ TEN (WR5) — Godwin is on pace for over 110 catches. He’s an elite fantasy option until further notice.

Two starts, two sits

START LeSean McCoy in medium-sized leagues: Kansas City’s backfield is a committee, but McCoy has received the bulk of the work in recent weeks — 63% of the carries and 33% of the targets since Week 6. Expect extra work this week, with Patrick Mahomes out, and good efficiency, up against Green Bay’s run funnel defense.
START D.K. Metcalf in deep leagues: Metcalf hasn’t done much to inspire confidence, but I like him as a flex-play this week. He isn’t just Seattle’s primary red-zone threat in a post-Will Dissly world, he quietly leads the league in end-zone targets (nine). This alone means his odds are pretty good of scoring a touchdown this week, in a game Seattle is expected to score 28.0 points.
SIT Carson Wentz in shallow leagues: Wentz has been held under 200 yards in three of his last four games and now travels to Buffalo to take on a Bills defense that ranks top-four in opposing passer rating, fantasy points per game, and fantasy points per dropback allowed to opposing quarterbacks.
SIT Jordan Howard in deep leagues: Howard is averaging just 8.2 fantasy points per game since a monster three-touchdown performance in Week 4 against the Packers. If you’ve been chasing that game ever since, it’s time to give up.

Sleepers and busts for the week

SLEEPER: Dare Ogunbowale: In the aggregate, the Titans are almost exactly average against running backs, allowing the 14th-most points to the position. It’s worth noting, though, that their strength is on run defense — Tennessee has allowed the second-most targets and receptions and the third-most receiving yards per game to running backs. Of 34 targets that have gone to the Tampa Bay backfield this season, Ogunbowale has 20 of them.
BUST: Zach Ertz: Ertz leads all tight ends in targets … 3.1 per game below what he was averaging at this time last year. Of the big three entering the year, Ertz was clearly the most quantity-dependent last year, so much so that even a small dip in quantity like he’s experienced this year has been enough to hurt him.

The best and worst matchups of the week

BEST: Jonnu Smith: Delanie Walker’s absence leaves the tight end role to Smith, who filled in for Walker Sunday and put up a career-high 64 receiving yards, and he’d get a Tampa Bay defense that is allowing the second-most PPR points per game to opposing tight ends.
WORST: Phillip Lindsay: In Weeks 4-7, Lindsay played 108 snaps in four games, while Royce Freeman played 145. Freeman has played more snaps than Lindsay in five of seven games. Lindsay still has the fantasy advantage overall, with slightly more yards and a 4-1 touchdown advantage, but he has the reputation of a solid-plus RB2, but the workload of a risky flex, and with the Colts allowing the sixth-fewest PPR points per game to running backs, that light workload could bite Lindsay.

Waiver claims to make

ADD Mohamed Sanu in shallow leagues: The Patriots pulled a somewhat surprising move and acquired Sanu Tuesday morning. Sanu’s fantasy stock is on the rise, as his skillset meshes perfectly with Tom Brady.
ADD Kareem Hunt in medium-sized leagues: Hunt is back in practice this week and can return in Week 10. While we aren’t overly bullish on his fantasy outlook, we do expect him to be in the flex conversation.
ADD Mark Walton in deep leagues: The Dolphins turned over early-down work to Walton last week, and he performed well in that role.

Rankings risers and fallers

RISER: Zach Pascal: Pascal has had three touchdowns in his last four games, with 50-plus yards in three of the four. In the absence of Devin Funchess and Parris Campbell, he appears to have seized the No. 2 receiver role.
FALLER: Rashaad Penny: You could forgive Penny’s light usage while he was hurt, but by all accounts he was fully healthy Sunday and had two snaps zero touches in that game, while C.J. Prosise had six snaps. Penny’s not even really rosterable at this point.

DST streamers

Tennessee Titans: Tennessee’s defense might already be owned in your league, but if not, it should be. The unit is averaging the eighth-most fantasy points per game (9.4), and Tampa Bay’s offense is giving up the third-most to opposing defenses (12.2). Tennessee ranks 11th in sacks per game (2.71), while Tampa Bay’s offense ranks second-worst by the same stat (4.2).

QB streamers

Mason Rudolph: Since he has been far from impressive this year, Rudolph’s appearance on this list should be taken not as a tip of the cap, but instead as a vote of confidence to whoever is facing a Miami secondary that has allowed a whopping 24.2 pts to opposing quarterbacks.

Expected Fantasy Points

Leonard Fournette: Through seven weeks, Fournette ranks first in snaps (437), first in carries (144), sixth in targets (37), and second in XFP per game (18.8). He also ranks top-10 in yards per carry (4.97) and would rank much higher in overall fantasy efficiency (-0.9) if he weren’t getting so unlucky in the touchdown department.

Player prop bets (from BetMGM)

Phillip Lindsay UNDER 21.5 receiving yards: The Broncos haven’t relied much on Lindsay as a receiver over their last four games, and as a result, he’s only topped this line once over that span. Hammer the under on this line.

DFS advice

Scott Barrett’s DFS Focus piece will highlight all the key daily fantasy tips and tricks from one of the industry’s best, but that isn’t all, as our team tackles the main DFS slate from every angle.

DFS weekly preview

FADES: T.Y. Hilton: No. 1 WRs have really struggled against Denver and Chris Harris this year. After Tyrell Williams had 105 receiving yards Week 1, the Broncos started to use Harris more as a shadow CB against the opposing team’s top wide receiver. This has limited players like Davante Adams, Keenan Allen, D.J. Chark, and Allen Robinson all to under 60 receiving yards.

DFS facts to know

Giants vs. Lions: The illustrious revenge narrative pops up here as Golden Tate faces the team that traded him prior to last year’s trade deadline. Lions slot cornerback Justin Coleman has played relatively well this season, but quarterbacks continue to relentlessly attack receivers in his coverage — 50 targets (second-most) and five touchdowns (most).

Bargains

Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders: Carr faces an ideal matchup this weekend going against a defense with the 29th-graded pass coverage in the league. While the Texans made a move to address this issue by acquiring Gareon Conley from Oakland this week, his 60.0 coverage grade this season doesn’t bode well for him being the solution.
Gerald Everett, TE, Los Angeles Rams: Everett has now averaged more than seven targets a game across the last four games, which has helped him average more than 11 points per game on both platforms.

Locks

Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks are 3.5-point road favorites this week, which, given Matt Ryan’s injury and the fact that the Falcons appeared to go into sell mode this week, actually feels conservative. Carson is third in the league in RB snaps over the last five weeks and fourth for the full season. Expect him to get a healthy workload.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions: Per our WR/CB matchup chart, Golladay has the single best matchup of the week, likely to face the majority of his coverage from DeAndre Baker, the third-lowest-graded cornerback (36.5) out of 122 qualifiers.

Fades

Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals: In Weeks 1-3, the Saints allowed 31.4 points per game to the position, worst in the league. Since, that number has dropped to a fifth-best 12.4, with Marshon Lattimore turning his season around in the secondary.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons: A matchup against the Seahawks shouldn’t be too intimidating, even with the addition of Quandre Diggs this week. But after a massive and especially valuable first three weeks (8 red-zone, 3 end-zone targets), his valuable targets have disappeared (1 red-zone target over the last month, none in the end zone).

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