It’s time for our Week 8 Starts and Sits! Remember we’ll do our best to predict outcomes based on what’s given to us. That’s diving into the numbers, digging through the juicy matchups, examining trends, watching the film, and collecting data that should lean towards certain players being better starts than others. While it won’t always play out that way, fantasy is a game of what’s most “likely” to happen and we need to attack it that way.
Every week we try to make some of your decision-making easier with what we’ve collected, but ultimately it’s your call on what you want to do with your team. I’ll try to avoid the slam-dunk stud plays and focus more on players you’re teetering with putting in your starting lineups. We’re going to discuss Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, and Tight Ends on each week’s slate, and I hope that we can win you the week!
Now, let’s go.
Quarterbacks to Start:
Kirk Cousins | Minnesota Vikings: I know, seeing Captain Kirk’s name to start out this article might not be the attention-grabber you’re looking for. Much like a car that’s from the early 2000s, it may not be pretty, but it’ll get the job done. Kirk Cousins is QB13 on the season, despite playing one less game by many above him. He also gets to play a Dallas Cowboys defense that ranks in the bottom-ten in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Those aren’t the only reasons I like Cousins this week.
Let’s talk about Cousins’ history against the Cowboys as a member of the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings have played the Cowboys in each of the previous two seasons and Cousins has lit up this Cowboys secondary. In those two games, Cousins has combined to go 45/62 for 534 yards and 5 touchdowns. He also has not thrown an interception, is averaging 8.7 yards per attempt, and has a 125.8 combined passer rating. In these two matchups, the Vikings and Cowboys have combined to score 52 and 59 points respectfully. The expectation would be this shoots out as well and you’re going to want both quarterbacks in this game.
Carson Wentz | Indianapolis Colts: They say to put your money where your mouth is, and I’m starting Wentz in multiple leagues this week. While only QB17 on the season, Wentz is actually QB10 over the last four weeks, averaging 19.4 fantasy points per game. During those four games, Wentz has thrown for multiple passing touchdowns and zero interceptions. He’s also scored 17 or more fantasy points in every game besides one this season. That one being the game off his two sprained ankles against a foe that he gets to have a rematch with this week.
While the Titans just held Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense to three points, I’m not scared to fire up Wentz this week. The Titans are still giving up the 7th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and the Colts are coming off an impressive Monday Night victory against the 49ers. Wentz and this offense that has most of its pass-catchers healthy in this should make for a high-scoring affair.
Teddy Bridgewater | Denver Broncos: Insert starting quarterback facing Washington here. Washington is giving up the most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks at over 26 per game and has looked absolutely dreadful on defense. For reference, that’s over two points higher than the next closest team. One key stat I’ll be looking at in this game from Teddy Bridgewater is his passing attempts. He’s scored at least 19.6 fantasy points in every game when he attempts 34 or more passes this season.
While Bridgewater is hobbled to an extent, he does have at least 19.6 fantasy points in two of his last three games and has thrown seven touchdown passes over that time. Combine that with the return of his favorite target Jerry Jeudy, and I think Bridgewater should cross the 20 point threshold this game.
Quarterback to Sit:
Tua Tagovailoa| Miami Dolphins: Credit to Tagovailoa for playing well with the speculation going around about his future and where it will be. I can’t even imagine how hard it is to focus on the game at hand. Tua did well last week, throwing for 300 yards and four touchdowns against Atlanta, and had his time in a position to win at the end of the game. He’s also scored at least 22 fantasy points in back-to-back games. He might get a reality check in this matchup as he faces an incredibly tough Buffalo Bills defense this week.
How good has the Bills’ defense been? Only Taylor Heinicke and Patrick Mahomes have scored more than 13 fantasy points against this defense among quarterbacks. The Bills have given up the fewest amount of passing yards, passing touchdowns, and overall fantasy points to quarterbacks (13.2 per game). This is an ugly matchup and every sense of the word and I would not recommend trusting Tua this week.
Running Backs to Start:
Samaje Perine | Cincinnati Bengals: Much like my call last week with Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, where I said Harris is a smash play and Stevenson has the upside to be a nice flex, I’m going to keep that same philosophy here. While Stevenson was a surprise inactive, it was Bolden that took the work that Stevenson was expected to have. I think Joe Mixon is the “Damien Harris” this week and has a great game. However, I do expect the Bengals to build a big lead and for Perine to step in and get some work in this game.
The Jets have given up an NFL-high 10 rushing touchdowns to running backs this season. They also allow opposing running backs to gather a 30% target share of the passing attack. This all equates to opposing running backs averaging nearly 40 fantasy points per game against the Jets. Mixon should be an RB1 this week and Perine should be a great flex option in this matchup. If Perine were to miss the game like Stevenson last week, go grab Chris Evans.
Kenneth Gainwell | Philadelphia Eagles: If you went to a bar and asked everyone who they thought was the leading target-getter in this offense, they’d most likely guess Dallas Goedert, Jaelon Reagor, or Quez Watkins right? Go out and win a bar bet because it’s actually Kenny Gainwell at an over 15% target share.
Gainwell gets to face a Detroit Lions team a league-high 12 touchdowns to running backs this season, including tied for a league-high with 6 of those receiving. The Lions are also second in fantasy points allowed to running backs at 24.4 a game. Boston Scott will be there to take carries, but I expect Gainwell will out-touch and out-produce Scott in this juicy matchup.
Khalil Herbert | Chicago Bears: Count me as one of the many surprised at what this 6th round rookie is doing right now. In two starts, In the two games Herbert has started, he’s accumulated 37.5 fantasy points and is the RB8 over that stretch. What’s even more impressive? He’s one of three running backs to put up over 100 rushing yards on the Buccaneers since the end of the 2018 season. Herbert has been ultra-consistent having carried at least 18 times and having 75 or more rushing yards in every game he’s played in since Week 5. What might be best of all is there seems to be a changing of the guard, with an active Damien William last week, Herbert still received over 77% of the offensive snaps.
Herbert now gets a much easier matchup at home against the San Francisco 49ers who have ranked closer to the middle of the pack in terms of fantasy points allowed to running backs. Herbert is one of the biggest surprises in the league early on this season and you need to continue to ride the momentum.
Running Back to Sit:
Myles Gaskin | Miami Dolphins: Let’s start with the positive, if you have Myles Gaskin I don’t expect him to be completely useless Sunday. With Malcolm Brown now on IR, that should help Gaskin at least maintain double-digit touches and perhaps if you’re very lucky, sneaky into the endzone.
I would not bet on it though. The Bills have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs at under 14 per game. They’ve also only allowed four total touchdowns. I expect the Bills to fully blow out the Dolphins and they’ll have to throw to keep up, completely abandoning the run. The last time Gaskin faced the Bills he only had 46 total yards and expect much of the same on Sunday.
Wide Receivers to Start:
DeVonta Smith | Philadelphia Eagles: These are what opposing #1 targeted WR’s have done against the Detroit Lions: Deebo Samuel (9/189/TD), Davante Adams (8/121), Marquise Brown (3/53 but dropped 2 TD’s), Darnell Mooney (5/125), Justin Jefferson (7/124), Ja’Marr Chase (4/97), Cooper Kupp (10/156/2 TDs). A great track record for Smith as he gets to visit Detroit this week.
Smith right now is garnering over 27% of the target share in this offense that just lost its starting running back in Miles Sanders. As I talked about in the last section, I expect that Gainwell and Scott will be involved, but Hurts will need to reach his 2o points per game floor. The way he gets there in this matchup I believe will be because of Smith.
Michael Pittman | Indianapolis Colts: The #20 WR in PPR scoring this season, Pittman has finished as a WR2 or better in three games this season. In two of the last three weeks, he’s put up at least 14.9 fantasy points and looks to be in sync with QB Carson Wentz.
Pittman and his 24% target share get to face the Tennessee Titans this week that has this matchup looking like how I look at pizza. It’s that good. The Titans have given up over 50 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers this season, tops in the NFL. Tennessee is also allowing the most receiving yards per game (226.1) and the second-highest amount of receiving touchdowns (10). Pittman had 12 targets the last time these teams played and Pittman should be considered a strong WR2 this week in the rematch with the Titans.
Emmanuel Sanders | Buffalo Bills: Emmanuel Sanders has appeared in this article before and has been one of the biggest surprises this season. Who would have projected he would have been averaging 15 fantasy points per game and not finish any lower than WR32 over the last four weeks. He’s been consistent as they come topping 75 yards in three of his last four games.
Sanders now gets the Dolphins this week, who have all the makings for him to explode this week. Let’s start with the fact that these Dolphins give up nearly 415 yards per game to opposing offenses, the worst mark in the league. He also has been an incredible big-play threat, leading the team in average depth of target at 10.6 yards per target. What’s even better? The Dolphins have allowed the 6th-most percentage of targets to the slot and 2nd most slot yards this season. That should make not just Sanders, but potentially Beasley as smash plays for this week.
Wide Receiver to Sit:
Allen Robinson | Chicago Bears: Allen Robinson is the WR59 on the season and has been absolutely brutal to have in your fantasy lineup week after week. Through 7 weeks, his best day was 63 yards against the Detroit Lions. It’s been so bad that Robinson has reached double-digit PPR points only once this season. The Bears’ quarterbacks are averaging less than 30 dropbacks per game and are last in fantasy points per dropback in the NFL. That’s equated to less than 125 passing yards per game and only three passing touchdowns on the ENTIRE season. There’s not much room for optimism or upside here.
The 49ers rank just outside the top 10 in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers and given up the 5th-fewest receiving yards to opposing wide receivers this season. I have more hope for Mooney if I have to choose a wide receiver in this offense, but neither is appealing. A-Rob should stay on your bench and maybe he’ll be traded to a new team by the next time this article comes out.
Tight End to Start:
Pat Freiermuth | Pittsburgh Steelers: This offense is going to look different with the absence of Juju Smith-Schuster, and we saw a glimpse of it with his first game gone in Week 6. Freiermuth had seven targets compared to Ebron’s two, for seven catches and 58 yards. That 18% target share was tied for 3rd most on the team.
While Cleveland has only given up three receiving touchdowns to opposing tight ends and nine fantasy points per game, I think Freiermuth will develop into a trusted “Heath Miller” role for Roethlisberger going forward and become a consistent 15% or more target share type of tight end.
Tight End to Sit:
Cole Kmet | Chicago Bears: I like Kmet as a player long-term, but this offense has been atrocious for much of this season. While Kmet has had nine catches for 92 yards over his last two games and ran routes on 74% of the snaps in Week 7, I wouldn’t expect that type of usage to continue with Jimmy Graham most likely returning in this one.
Kmet faces a tough 49ers team that hasn’t given up more than 25 yards to a tight end since Week 1 and given up only two touchdowns to the position all season. Look elsewhere for your TE streamer this week.