Fantasy News & Analysis

Premium Content Sign Up

Fantasy Football: Week 8 key wide receiver questions and tight end analysis

Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) runs after a catch in the first half against the New Orleans Saints at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

  • Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins saw his most targets since his Cardinals debut in his first game of 2022; he warrants every-week WR1 treatment moving forward.
  • Miami Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are auto-start options as the NFL’s most-efficient duo in combined yards per route run.
  • Washington Commanders WR Terry McLaurin faces a tough projected shadow matchup against ace CB Stephon Gilmore and the Colts’ top-ranked defense in PPR points per game allowed to the position.
Estimated reading time: 30 minutes

Week 8 is here! It’s truly a great day to be great.

What follows is a fantasy football-themed breakdown of each and every wide receiver and tight end group. The following five categories will be analyzed for all 30 teams playing this week:

  • Week 8 WR Fantasy Rankings: Where the top-three wide receivers fall in my fantasy ranks. Updated ranks can be found throughout the week on PFF.com as well as the new PFF app.
  • WR Usage: Every team’s top-three wide receivers in terms of last week’s route rate alongside their season-long marks in targets per route run and yards per route run.
  • Week 8 Matchup: Opponent’s rank in PPR points allowed to opposing wide receivers as well as their team PFF coverage grade. Higher numbers are better for wide receivers; “32” illustrates the worst defense in a given category, and “1” is the best.
  • Shadow Matchups: Denotes whether or not any wide receivers are expected to be “shadowed” by a specific cornerback.
  • Week 8 TE Fantasy Rankings: Where the No. 1 tight end falls in my fantasy ranks. Updated ranks can be found throughout the week on PFF.com as well as the new PFF app.
  • TE Usage: Every team’s top-two tight ends in terms of last week’s route rate alongside their season-long marks in targets per route run and yards per route run.
  • Key question: One key question for every team that is on my mind.

 

JUMP TO A TEAM:

ARZ | ATL | BLT | CAR | CIN | CHI | CLE | DEN | DAL | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAX | KC | LVR | LAC | MIA | NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PIT | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WSH


ARIZONA CARDINALS

  • Week 8 WR Fantasy Ranking: DeAndre Hopkins (WR8), Rondale Moore (WR44)
  • WR Usage: Rondale Moore (94% routes, 0.16 targets per route run, 1.06 yards per route run), DeAndre Hopkins (91%, 0.48, 3.55), Greg Dortch (50%, 0.14, 1.21)
  • Week 8 WR Matchup: MIN: 21 in PPR per game to WR, 31 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 8 TE Fantasy Rankings: Zach Ertz (TE5)
  • TE Usage: Zach Ertz (91% routes, 0.19 targets per route run, 1.16 yards per route run), Trey McBride (41%, 0.07, 0.57)

Key question: How were the early returns on DeAndre Hopkins?

Pretty, pretty, pretty good. The artist known as Nuk received 14 targets (most since his first game with the Cardinals) and went over the century mark for the first time since Week 15, 2020. Hopkins looked pretty far from washed; whatever PED he took must have made a lasting impact (kidding, kinda).

The “problem” for Hopkins in 2021 was Kyler Murray’s confidence in spreading the ball around the entire offense. He still was a perfectly fine weekly upside WR2, but the true boom games were lacking; that sure doesn’t look to be Murray’s strategy this season considering Marquise Brown (knee, IR) was averaging a whopping 10.7 targets per game before getting injured.

Only the Lions have a worse team PFF coverage grade than the Vikings; fire up Hopkins with confidence as a top-10 option at the position. I’d like to see more target concentration to Rondale Moore with Nuk on the field before going back to him as a PPR-friendly WR3 option.


ATLANTA FALCONS

  • Week 8 WR Fantasy Ranking: Drake London (WR37), Olamide Zaccheaus (WR69), Damiere Byrd (WR77)
  • WR Usage: Drake London (95% routes, 0.28 targets per route run, 2.03 yards per route run), Olamide Zaccheaus (74%, 0.18, 2.54), Damiere Byrd (42%, 0.14, 3.41)
  • Week 8 WR Matchup: CAR: 24 in PPR per game to WR, 18 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 8 TE Fantasy Rankings: Kyle Pitts (TE7)
  • TE Usage: Kyle Pitts (79% routes, 0.25 targets per route run, 1.53 yards per route run), Parker Hesse (32%, 0.08, 0.62)

Key question: Can this passing game be trusted even a little bit?

No, strictly because of the volume at hand. Through seven weeks only the Bears (49.5%) and Falcons (46.4%) have called a pass play on fewer than 50% of their snaps in non-garbage time situations. Hell, the Falcons’ rate doesn’t even change when simply looking at the entire game: This is easily the league’s most run-heavy offense; one would have to go all the way back to the 2009 Rex Ryan-led Jets to find a more run-heavy group.

Marcus Mariota has thrown a total of 27 pass attempts over the past two weeks. Joe Flacco still had more pass attempts than Mariota (per Sam Hoppen). It’s not like the offense has been incapable of efficiently picking up yards through the air: Mariota’s average of 7.8 yards per attempt is the seventh-highest mark among 35 qualified quarterbacks.

Ultimately, it’d be a lot easier to slander head coach Arthur Smith if this wasn’t a top-12 offense in EPA per play and points per game. Whether this persists remains to be seen; just realize Drake London and Kyle Pitts’ inconsistent production is far more tied to their lack of volume than lack of ability.

Injuries and bye weeks keep Pitts as my overall TE7; I’d still go with guys with far more guaranteed volume like Zach Ertz and Tyler Higbee.


BALTIMORE RAVENS

  • Week 8 WR Fantasy Ranking: Rashod Bateman (WR31), Devin Duvernay (WR54)
  • WR Usage: Devin Duvernay (76% routes, 0.17 targets per route run, 1.81 yards per route run), Rashod Bateman (71%, 0.25, 2.61), James Proche (24%, 0.07, 0.23)
  • Week 8 WR Matchup: TB: 11 in PPR per game to WR, 3 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 8 TE Fantasy Rankings: Mark Andrews (TE1)
  • TE Usage: Mark Andrews (90% routes, 0.27 targets per route run, 2.12 yards per route run), Josh Oliver (29%, 0.12, 0.58)

Key question: Can we get back to firing up Rashod Bateman as a solid WR3?

It’s looking good. Bateman (foot, questionable) is tentatively expected to suit up Thursday night after getting in a full practice on Wednesday. Bateman’s usage was back to normal in his first game since Week 4; his 4-42-0 line would have looked a lot prettier had he gained an extra inch on a short catch that left him just short of the goal line.

The problem: Volume. Bateman has seen five, seven, four, six and five targets in five games this season; Lamar Jackson is more than willing to simply hone in on Mark Andrews, last week’s bagel aside.

Further helping matters for Bateman is the fact that this Buccaneers secondary is all kinds of banged up:

I’ll be answering the majority of closer start/sit questions with Bateman so long as he’s healthy enough to suit up. If sidelined, Devin Duvernay would enter the borderline WR3 conversation himself.


BUFFALO BILLS

  • Week 8 WR Fantasy Ranking: Stefon Diggs (WR4), Gabriel Davis (WR17), Isaiah McKenzie (WR59)
  • WR Usage: Gabriel Davis (96% routes, 0.11 targets per route run, 1.7 yards per route run), Stefon Diggs (89%, 0.27, 2.85), Isaiah McKenzie (58%, 0.19, 1.26)
  • Week 8 WR Matchup: GB: 7 in PPR per game to WR, 6 in PFF coverage grade
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: Stefon Diggs vs. Jaire Alexander.
  • Week 8 TE Fantasy Rankings: Dawson Knox (TE13)
  • TE Usage: Dawson Knox (80% routes, 0.12 targets per route run, 0.91 yards per route run), Quintin Morris (20%, 0.1, 0.92)

Key question: Should this potential tough shadow matchup be at all worrisome for Diggs’ fantasy managers?

Nope. Firstly, it’s not a given that Alexander is asked to shadow Diggs this week; the Packers’ No. 1 corner has only done so once since Week 7, 2020. Then again, that one occasion occurred literally last week against Terry McLaurin (5-73-1), so it’s plenty possible that a change in philosophy has occurred for the spiraling Packers.

While Alexander has played far too much great football to be considered anything other than an excellent corner, he was never exactly the biggest lockdown one-on-one corner. Just ask 2019 Amari Cooper (11-226-1). Hell, it only took Diggs five targets to hang a 3-57-1 receiving line on Alexander when they matched up back in Week 16, 2019 — and that was while dealing with Monday night Kirk Cousins!

There’s also the reality that Diggs, similar to guys like Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp and Tyreek Hill, is one of the game’s few wide receivers with such an elite combination of talent and volume that it’s not worth overly sweating individual projected matchups. Continue to fire up Diggs (and only to a slightly lesser extent Gabriel Davis) in fantasy lineups of all shapes and sizes.


CAROLINA PANTHERS

  • Week 8 WR Fantasy Ranking: D.J. Moore (WR28), Terrace Marshall Jr. (WR75)
  • WR Usage: D.J. Moore (100% routes, 0.21 targets per route run, 1.2 yards per route run), Terrace Marshall Jr. (96%, 0.14, 1.03), Shi Smith (50%, 0.1, 0.63)
  • Week 8 WR Matchup: ATL: 32 in PPR per game to WR, 22 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 8 TE Fantasy Rankings: Tommy Tremble (TE34)
  • TE Usage: Tommy Tremble (71% routes, 0.1 targets per route run, 0.68 yards per route run), Ian Thomas (38%, 0.2, 1.44)

Key question: Is D.J. Moore BACK to being a must-start fantasy option?

Not exactly, but last week’s PPR WR9 finish was at least a good start. P.J. Walker was truly awesome.

Moore is still just the WR37 on the season; just realize the absence of both Christian McCaffrey and Robbie Anderson leaves whoever the quarterback is with very few other places to go with the football.

Further helping matters specifically for Week 8 is a matchup against the Falcons’ league-worst secondary in PPR points per game allowed to wide receivers. They were just flamed by Ja’Marr Chase and company; don’t expect things to be much better on Sunday considering their injury situation. Overall, No. 1 CB A.J. Terrell (hamstring) started off the week with a DNP and should be considered week to week. Safety Jaylinn Hawkins (concussion) didn't practice either, while CB Casey Hayward (shoulder, IR) remains completely out of the picture. Perhaps CB Dee Alford (hamstring) is able to return after starting off the week with a limited practice; either way the Falcons join the Buccaneers as two of the most banged-up secondaries in the league at the moment.

I would start Moore ahead of guys like Jakobi Meyers, Diontae Johnson and Jerry Jeudy this week thanks to his status as the offense’s undisputed No. 1 pass-game option against this injury-ravaged secondary that wasn’t playing all that well even before getting so hurt.


CHICAGO BEARS

  • Week 8 WR Fantasy Ranking: Darnell Mooney (WR34), Equanimeous St. Brown (WR71), Dante Pettis (WR73)
  • WR Usage: Darnell Mooney (85% routes, 0.2 targets per route run, 1.6 yards per route run), Equanimeous St. Brown (74%, 0.13, 1.05), Dante Pettis (44%, 0.09, 1.05)
  • Week 8 WR Matchup: DAL: 13 in PPR per game to WR, 4 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 8 TE Fantasy Rankings: Cole Kmet (TE18)
  • TE Usage: Cole Kmet (81% routes, 0.11 targets per route run, 0.89 yards per route run), Trevon Wesco (11%, 0.13, 1.53)

Key question: Is Justin Fields playing well enough to get back on the Darnell Mooney train?

Almost; the bigger problem is that the Bears are the league’s second-most run-heavy team behind only the Falcons. Mooney has been “better” since starting the season with three straight PPR finishes outside the position’s top-75 performers; just realize his improvement has still only yielded WR25, WR57, WR25 and WR51 performances.

Further complicating matters is the reality that this Cowboys defense is really good. Fields stands out as one of the week’s quarterbacks most at risk of being overwhelmed by pressure. Cooper Kupp (7-125-1) is the only wide receiver to gain more than even 75 receiving yards against this defense; don’t overly count on Mooney being the second.


CINCINNATI BENGALS

  • Week 8 WR Fantasy Ranking: Ja'Marr Chase (WR6), Tee Higgins (WR15), Tyler Boyd (WR36)
  • WR Usage: Tee Higgins (98% routes, 0.2 targets per route run, 2.13 yards per route run), Ja'Marr Chase (98%, 0.22, 1.96), Tyler Boyd (89%, 0.14, 1.67)
  • Week 8 WR Matchup: CLE: 15 in PPR per game to WR, 20 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 8 TE Fantasy Rankings: Hayden Hurst (TE10)
  • TE Usage: Hayden Hurst (73% routes, 0.16 targets per route run, 0.97 yards per route run), Mitchell Wilcox (22%, 0.1, 0.9)

Key question: Is this the perfect get-right spot for Tee Higgins?

To be fair, any matchup is a reasonable blowup game for Higgins when Joe Burrow is playing so well. Overall, the 2020 NFL Draft’s No. 1 overall pick has posted back-to-back fantasy QB1 finishes in rather breathtaking performances against the Saints and Falcons, throwing for an astounding 781 yards and six touchdowns.

Up next is a Monday night matchup against a Browns secondary that hasn’t exactly done a great job defending the deep ball this season.

Browns defense vs. passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield

  • Yards per attempt allowed: 19.4 (No. 28)
  • Explosive pass-play rate allowed: 50% (No. 26)
  • QB rating allowed: 12.6 (No. 26)

Higgins was roughly an inch away from finding paydirt last week; I like his odds of making another appearance in the 100-plus yards and a touchdown club. Week 7 inductees Ja’Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd are also recommended starts against a Browns defense that isn’t guaranteed to get No. 1 CB Denzel Ward (concussion) back this week.


CLEVELAND BROWNS

  • Week 8 WR Fantasy Ranking: Amari Cooper (WR23), Donovan Peoples-Jones (WR68)
  • WR Usage: Amari Cooper (100% routes, 0.24 targets per route run, 1.81 yards per route run), Donovan Peoples-Jones (91%, 0.18, 1.48), David Bell (65%, 0.07, 0.6)
  • Week 8 WR Matchup: CIN: 5 in PPR per game to WR, 9 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: Amari Cooper vs. Chidobe Awuzie.
  • Week 8 TE Fantasy Rankings: Harrison Bryant (TE21)
  • TE Usage: David Njoku (53% routes, 0.21 targets per route run, 2.14 yards per route run), Harrison Bryant (47%, 0.18, 0.98)

Key question: Do the Browns still have two fantasy-relevant pass-catchers with David Njoku (ankle) expected to miss some time?

Cooper remains locked in as a low-end WR2, although his potential shadow date with Awuzie won’t be easy. The Bengals have turned to their No. 1 corner against the likes of Diontae Johnson (7-55-0) and Elijah Moore (4-49-0) this season. PFF’s 14th-highest-graded cornerback in coverage, Awuzie is a big reason why the Bengals have allowed the fifth-fewest PPR points per game to opposing wide receivers this season. Cooper isn’t someone that needs to be faded, but this is a tough matchup that warrants a slight downgrade into borderline WR2 territory.

Subscribe to PFF+ to continue reading

Already have a subscription? Sign In

You've got the first pick with your finances. Western Southern Financial Group.
Sponsor

Fantasy Featured Tools

Subscriptions

Unlock all tools and content including Player Grades, Fantasy, NFL Draft, Premium Stats, Greenline and DFS.

$9.99 / mo
$79.99 / yr