NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Mailbag: Kyle Pitts & AJ Dillon Frustrations, More
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: AJ Dillon.
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Fantasy Stock Questions
How Do I Solve A Problem Like Kyle Pitts?
@AlexRoseNews asks via Twitter: “Do I sit Kyle Pitts for literally anyone on the waiver wire, or continue to dive into the definition of insanity?”
Samantha: Literally anyone? No. But I do not blame you for wanting to jump ship on Pitts.
Overall, Pitts is the TE21. He is on pace for fewer than half of the receiving yards he had in his banner rookie season. There’s blame to go around, of course.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota ranks 26th in passing attempts this season; he’s tied with Tua Tagovailoa, who has played in two fewer games. The Falcons rank second to last with a 42% pass play percentage through seven games and the coaching has been suspect at best. Head coach Arthur Smith even admitted that he basically hates our fantasy teams.
I would consider starting Hayden Hurst (65% rostered), Irv Smith Jr. (42%), Evan Engram (41%), Greg Dulcich (13%) or Cade Otton (14%) over Pitts.
Engram, who may have the highest floor of the bunch, is the TE9 in half PPR over the last three weeks and is averaging 7.7 targets per game.
Otton should be the TE1 for the Buccaneers while Cameron Brate is sidelined. He caught 4-of-5 targets for 64 yards last week against Carolina. Dulcich is everything we hoped Albert Okwuegbunam would be and has participated in 64% of snaps. He saw a whopping nine targets and caught six passses for 51 yards in Week 7.
What Do I Do With AJ Dillon?
James asks via DM: “What the heck am I supposed to do with AJ Dillon? Pray Aaron Jones gets hurt? I’m not that kind of person, but…”
Samantha: While we should never wish harm on any player solely for the sake of our fantasy teams, I do empathize with this sentiment.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it: Dillon’s rest-of-season outlook is bleak. He saw a season-low 30% of snaps in Week 7 against the Commanders while Jones saw a season-high 74%. Dillon also recorded season lows in touches, attempts, yards and fantasy points; he finished as the RB54 in half-PPR scoring.
A major part of Dillon’s allure going into the year was his usage in the passing game. Unfortunately, the Year 3 back has logged blanks in catches in 2-of-7 games this year. He has been targeted half as much as Jones, who saw a 10 targets last week.
Dillon is a sit for me, especially going up against Buffalo this week. The Bills’ defense ranks No. 1 in defensive DVOA and rush DVOA and has allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points to running backs.
It’s unlikely you can sell him, but Dillon remains a high-value insurance policy for Jones and is still worth a roster spot.
Fantasy Start-Sit Questions
Help Me Set My Lineup, Please
@PuertoRicoFF asks via Twitter: “[Michael] Carter, [Michael] Pittman, [Kareem] Hunt, [Romeo] Doubs, or Gus [Edwards]… I need two to fill my RB2 and flex slot in half-PPR.”
Samantha: I would start Pittman and Carter.
Pittman is still a no-brainer start as a WR2, even with Sam Ehlinger under center. He has not found the end zone since Week 1, but he is averaging over 10 targets per game, which gives him a generously high floor in PPR formats. In Week 8 he faces the Commanders, whose defense ranks bottom four in pass DVOA and bottom eight in fantasy points allowed to receivers.
Carter would be my second choice. He is a RB3 with upside with Breece Hall out for the season, and I expect he will take over most of the passing-down work moving forward. Carter could even have his role expanded this week as the newly acquired James Robinson gets up to speed with the Jets’ playbook.
Edwards is an interesting play after his strong season debut. He carved up Cleveland’s run defense like a Thanksgiving turkey with 16 carries for 66 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His counterpart, Kenyan Drake, was a complete dud and rushed 11 times for five yards.
In Week 8 the Ravens face the Buccaneers, whose defense was just torched by the Panthers’ duo of D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard. That being said, Tampa Bay still ranks top six in fantasy points allowed to running backs this year.
Hunt worries me. It is the Nick Chubb show in Cleveland and Hunt is stuck singing in the chorus. His workload is trending in the wrong direction, even in the passing game.
Over the last two weeks, Hunt has just 10 total touches for a combined 20 scrimmage yards, and he was out-targeted by Chubb (5 to 3) in that span. The Browns simply are not feeding Hunt, and unless he is traded before the weekend, I would sit him against the Bengals, who rank top 10 in rush DVOA and have allowed the fifth fewest fantasy points to running backs.
I am completely out on Doubs. Despite being targeted four times, the rookie laid a goose egg in what should have been a nice matchup in Washington.
Over the last three weeks, Doubs is tied with Giants receiver Marcus Johnson as the WR89 — his low catch rate of late could mean decreased trust and looks from quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Even if Allen Lazard is out, Doubs is a sit against Buffalo’s fourth-ranked pass defense, according to DVOA.
Start Travis Etienne Jr. Or Aaron Jones?
@Bucs022 asks via Twitter: “Thinking of starting [Travis] Etienne over Aaron Jones? Jones is so hit and miss.”
Samantha: It’s a gutsy move and I endorse it.
Jones has struggled at times this year, as has the entire Green Bay offense. He did find the end zone twice against Washington but, to your point, also has bust potential in tough matchups. He scored just four fantasy points in half PPR in Week 3 against Tampa Bay and continues to share snaps and work with AJ Dillion.
Meanwhile, Etienne is trending up fast. He logged a season-high 80% snap participation rate in Week 7 and had the best fantasy game of his career, logging 15 touches for 119 all-purpose yards and his first NFL touchdown. He is poised to take over as the Jaguars’ workhorse back with Robinson out of the picture and should be considered a fringe RB1.
Neither has a particularly good matchup — Etienne gets the Broncos; Jones gets the Bills.
Jones probably has the tougher assignment as the Bills have been significantly better against the run than any other team. They are first in defensive DVOA and rush DVOA and have allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points to running backs.
This puts Jones and Etienne neck and neck in my opinion. I would probably give Etienne the slight lean given the lack of competition on the Jaguars’ depth chart.
Start Kyle Pitts or Taysom Hill?
@david_fuz asks via Twitter: “[Kyle] Pitts or Taysom [Hill]?”
Samantha: I probably do not need to wax poetic about how bad Pitts has been. He finally found the end zone in Week 6 and immediately proceeded to disappoint once again in Week 7. He caught 3-of-5 targets for a paltry nine yards and finished as the TE32 in half-PPR scoring.
As far as I am concerned, Pitts is back in the doghouse until further notice. Frankly, I would love to see the Falcons give Desmond Ridder a try, especially after Marcus Mariota completed just eight passes against the Bengals.
Hill is a very strong play this week, especially if the Saints roll with Andy Dalton again. He has seven total touchdowns through six games and is the TE3 in half PPR on a per-game basis behind only Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews.
The only real knock on Hill is his lack of consistency. His usage is erratic and his fantasy points scored this year have ranged from 1 to 34.
Not everyone has the stomach for the Taysom Hill experience, but there is simply no other tight end who offers this kind of upside. The Saints take on the Raiders, whose defense ranks 27th in defensive DVOA, making Hill an even more attractive option.
Fantasy Bye Week Question
I Need A Waiver-Wire Quarterback
@Tallguy873 asks via Twitter: “[Patrick] Mahomes is on a bye for me and Matt Ryan is benched. The quarterbacks available on the waiver wire are [Justin] Fields, [Andy] Dalton, [Jameis] Winston, P.J. Walker, Zach Wilson and [Taylor Heinicke]. Which two of that list should I prioritize?”
Samantha: Right off the bat, I am tossing out Walker and Wilson.
Walker had a shockingly good Week 7 against the Buccaneers, but I would not expect lightning to strike twice. In the week prior, Walker completed 10-of-16 attempts for 60 yards and somehow finished as the QB30 with four teams on bye. The matchup against Atlanta is good, but I am not falling for this honeypot.
Wilson has been unremarkable in three of the four games he has played. He is averaging 115.5 passing yards per game in the last two weeks and has zero touchdowns in that span. I would not trust him at all against the Patriots, whose defense ranks top five in pass DVOA.
Of the remaining list, I would lean toward whichever Saints quarterback starts. Dalton shined (for fantasy) in Week 7, completing 30-of-47 attempts for 361 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. He also rushed four times for 21 yards and was the QB2 for the week behind only Joe Burrow.
The Saints also have the best matchup in Week 8 of this group. New Orleans takes on the Raiders, whose defense ranks bottom three in pass DVOA and has allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Their unit has been torched by almost every quarterback they have faced and have yet to give up fewer than 20 fantasy points to a signal-caller this season.
Fields would be my next choice, followed by Heinicke.
I was incredibly impressed by Fields’ performance on the road against a tough Patriots defense. He completed 13-of-21 attempts for 179 yards and one touchdown and tacked on 14 carries for 82 yards and a rushing touchdown. It was his best game of the season and third game in a row with at least 17 fantasy points.
Stepping in for an injured Carson Wentz, Heinicke was also a pleasant surprise. He completed 20-of-33 attempts for 203 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and finished as the QB13 for the week. Both are high-end QB2s with two teams on bye.