I know what you’re going to say, so let me stop you and ask this: how was I supposed to know Geno Smith would tear his ACL in the second quarter? Had Smith remained in the game, I’m confident that Matt Forte (RB4) would not have had the game he did.
However, I have no excuse for my advice to bench Quincy Enunwa (WR13) – since he caught his touchdown from Geno Smith – or Drew Brees (QB2), who bucked his home/road splits.
Those were some pretty costly strikeouts, but I’ll choose to remember the moonshots I hit in Week 7. (Hopefully you do, too.) Benching DeAndre Hopkins (WR57) and Sammie Coates (WR106) was definitely the right play, while inserting Jacquizz Rodgers (RB11) paid off. It may not have taken a genius to suggest sticking with Le’Veon Bell (RB12) and Antonio Brown (WR20), but pushing forward with Matthew Stafford (QB9) took some cajones.
But, that was then, and this is now. So let’s get to Week 8, since there are sure to be some holes on your roster with six teams on bye this week. I won’t be advising you to start DeMarco Murray or Andrew Luck; if you don’t know to do that already, you’re beyond the pale.
If you want to know whether Ezekiel Elliott will outscore Julio Jones this week, you should check out Nicholas’ top 50 flex plays for Week 8. Here, you’ll be given the less obvious (but more valuable) advice on the tougher decisions we fantasy owners face. [Cue intra-office feud.]
An Inelastic Seven Fantasy Tips for Week 8
1) Start Christine Michael
C-Mike’s 5.5-point performance in Week 7 was upsetting. But we shouldn’t have been expecting much more, since he was playing one of the top defenses against the rush. The Seahawks offensive line got bullied, as they have against top defenses all year, and Michael didn’t have anywhere to run until overtime.
What’s more concerning is Darrell Bevell’s refusal to turn Michael into a workhorse – only averaging 16.2 carries per game. Instead, Seattle’s offensive coordinator insists on throwing the ball, in spite of the common knowledge that his offensive line can’t protect his quarterback. I, like all other Michael owners, would love to see Seattle cut him loose; and this is exactly what we will get this week.
Seattle has a date with the New Orleans Saints in Week 8, who are giving up a league-high 26.92 fantasy points per week to running backs. Sure, the Saints are also giving up 19.61 PPG to quarterbacks, but I have faith that Seattle doesn’t want to see Wilson take any more unnecessary punishment, especially considering their starting left tackle will not be suiting up – not that Bradley Sowell was great.
The Seahawks will want to keep the ball out of Drew Brees’ hands, which will result in around 22 touches for Michael. “The Awakening” won’t disappoint, and he should be valued as a top-five running back play.
2) Thanks to matchups, start …
Note that I’ve dropped the term “consider” from these sections, because I’m bringing the heat this week.
Brock Osweiler – I know this is going to be hard after what you saw on Monday night, but he’s not playing the Bronco defense this week. Instead, Osweiler gets the Lions, who are giving up 23.74 PPG to quarterbacks (league-high). The Texans are well aware of their quarterback’s struggles, and will be looking to take advantage of a plus-matchup to get their $72 million man going. With a number of teams on bye in Week 8, and a couple tough matchups for top fantasy quarterbacks, Osweiler is a great plug-and-play. If he’s done too much to tarnish your trust, then go with Ryan Fitzpatrick against the Cleveland defense. Both will be top-15 plays this week.
Jacquizz Rodgers – In two games since taking over as the lead-back, Rodgers has 292 yards from scrimmage. Although he has not found the endzone yet, his 62 touches in that span are certainly enticing. This week, he gets a Raider defense that’s surrendering 21.24 PPG to running backs (ninth-most). Expect Rodgers to be a low-end RB1 in Week 8.
Donte Moncrief – Obviously, this is dependent on whether he plays for the first time since he fractured his scapula in Week 2. If Moncrief does suit up – which looks likely at this point – he’ll be facing a Chief defense giving up the most PPG to wide receivers (28.08). With T.Y. Hilton likely to draw Marcus Peters, Moncrief has a very high ceiling; value him as a solid WR2.
3) Thanks to matchups, bench …
Philip Rivers – I’ve made a living off telling you to bench whichever quarterback the Broncos are playing each week; that’s not going to change now. The Broncos are only giving up 11.93 PPG to quarterbacks and held Rivers to just 11.12 points when they played two weeks ago. This one is in Denver, too.
Isaiah Crowell – Not only has Crowell’s production slipped over the last three weeks (21.5 points combined), but he now has to deal with a Jets front that is only giving up 3.2 yards per carry (second in the league). Also, with Josh McCown likely to start under center, the Browns will try to take advantage of the Jets’ weak secondary all game. All of that results in Crowell being an RB3 at best this week.
Mark Ingram – The Saints back has found the endzone in three of his last four, and is averaging 13.35 PPG in that span. But now he gets the Seahawks, whose defense has only given up two touchdowns to running backs on the season, holding them to just 14.08 PPG (fifth-fewest). Ingram needs to be benched for the week.
4) Don’t fear what you saw Sunday night, start your Cardinals
As I watched Week 7’s edition of Sunday Night Football, I couldn’t help but feel for all the David Johnson owners out there. How would they ever compete while only getting a pitiful 17.1 points from their top-back? (Are you catching the sarcasm?)
To close the book on fantasy’s RB1 before we move onto other Cardinals, Johnson has yet to be held to a single-digit output in 2016 and is the centerpiece of this offense. I don’t care if he’s playing the 1942 Chicago Bears, you start him. Fortunately, though, he’s not. He’s playing the Panthers. Their defense isn’t as good against the run as the one he carved up last week.
Onto the passing game. Even without scoring a single touchdown, Carson Palmer was still the QB15 last week. In Week 8, he’ll have the luxury of playing a defense that’s given up 13 touchdown passes in just six games (seventh-most). The Panthers have been roasted through the air this season, twice giving up more than 30 fantasy points to quarterbacks and allowing 20.66 PPG on average (third-most). As if that wasn’t enough reason to start your Cardinals, Carolina is also dealing with injuries in their sorry excuse for a secondary, as their top three corners are all listed as questionable for Week 8. (Two missed their last game in Week 6.)
Palmer re-enters the QB1 discussion, and Larry Fitzgerald becomes a top-eight wide receiver play in this matchup. I have a much more difficult time trusting Michael Floyd and his 44.2 catch-percentage, though. Value Floyd as a safe WR3/Flex play, while J.J. Nelson is a boom-or-bust in the same spot against a defense that’s allowing 26.02 PPG to wide receivers (eighth-most).
5) Put your faith in Devontae Booker
Even before C.J. Anderson was placed on the IR, Booker was becoming an increasingly attractive option to both the Broncos and fantasy owners. Booker is a perfect fit for the zone-blocking scheme the Broncos employ under Gary Kubiak, and has taken advantage of the opportunities he’s been given, averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
In his first start, Booker will face a Chargers defense that’s allowing 23.33 PPG to running backs (sixth-most). It’s the same team that he just shredded for 46 yards on just five carries (9.2 yards per carry).
Booker is a top-ten play at running back this week.
6) Randall Cobb is going to boom
Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with 17.6 points from a receiver in any given week. But, Cobb left some points out on the field last Sunday.
Over Green Bay’s last three games, Cobb has seen 37 targets through the air, as well as six rushing attempts. It is clear that Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy want to get the ball in his hands. Although the Packers aerial attack may not be as lethal as we expected (20th), it is starting to come around. Rodgers has now thrown for more than 250 yards in three consecutive games, and will get to face a Falcon defense that is ranked 31st against the pass. (Make sure you start him, too.)
Atlanta may be giving up the 16th-fewest PPG to wide receivers, but that still equates to 23.24 points per week – the high is 28.08. In a game against the league’s top offense, Rodgers is going to have to put points on the board to keep up. This is going to result in a ton of targets for Cobb, and a massive fantasy output; with a number of upper tier receivers on their bye, value him as a top-eight wide receiver.
7) Do not be fooled into starting…
A Vikings wide receiver – Sure, the Bears defense gives up 26.69 PPG to wide receivers (fifth-most), but the Vikings are not a passing team. (Not to suggest they’re a running team, either.) Stefon Diggs, Minnesota’s leading receiver, has a combined 105 receiving yards in the last three games. The Vikings are going to continue playing it safe and allow their defense to win them games. (Kyle Rudolph is not a wide receiver. Start him.)
Alex Smith – I know that the Colts are giving up the eighth-most PPG to quarterbacks, but the last thing the Chiefs want to do is get into a shootout with Andrew Luck and the fourth-ranked scoring offense. Kansas City will control the clock with their ground game and only throw when necessary. There are tons of better options out there. (See above.)