Week 8 Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Start Sterling Shepard & Robert Tonyan, Sit Damien Williams & Allen Robinson II
Getty Images. Pictured: Kirk Cousins and Allen Robinson II
Setting your fantasy football lineups each week can be hard, but thankfully the bye-ocalypse is over. The good news is just two teams are on bye this week — the Raiders and Ravens — meaning your lineups should be looking a bit more robust than last week.
Below are some players at each position you should start for Week 8 of the NFL season, as well as some players you should consider sitting based on matchups, injuries and trends.
Week 8 Start ‘Em
Quarterbacks to Start
Cousins was quietly QB10 through the first six weeks of the season with more fantasy points than Joe Burrow and Aaron Rodgers. He should be a top play this week against the Cowboys defense, which has allowed the fifth-most passing yards per game and fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year. This game also has the highest point total of the week at 55, which should result in a lot of scoring opportunities for Cousins.
Jones is my top streaming pick for quarterback this week if you need a fill-in for Derek Carr or Lamar Jackson. He has fallen short of 20 points in three straight games (one of which he was injured), but has a great chance to finish as a top 12 signal-caller this week against the Chiefs in a game with the second-highest point total of the week (52.5). His frequent rushing puts him in the streaming conversation and Kansas City’s defense has been getting eviscerated. The Chiefs are allowing the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year and Jones should get at least one more receiver back from injury this week.
Wide Receivers to Start
Pittman is quietly having a very strong Year 2 in spite of the Colts’ low-upside offense. He is currently WR19 in half PPR through seven weeks and has scored at least nine fantasy points in all but two games this year. The Colts face the Titans this week, who are allowing the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this year. Consider Pittman a mid- to high-end WR2 in a plush matchup.
Courtland Sutton, Broncos vs. Washington
Sutton was somewhat of a letdown last week in what should have been a solid matchup on paper. The game was sloppy, and he caught five of five targets for 68 yards, finishing as WR33 for the week in half PPR. He is currently WR17 this year and will face Washington’s soft secondary this week, which has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Sutton is a mid-tier WR2 this week.
Jones will be well-rested coming off of the Jaguars’ Week 7 bye to face Seattle, which has allowed the sixth-most passing yards this year. The veteran wideout also had his best game to date in Week 6, catching seven of 10 targets for 100 yards and a touchdown — his third this year. His matchup and usage make him an attractive flex play this week.
Sterling Shepard, Giants at Chiefs
Shepard was a game-time scratch last week after returning from injury in Week 6. Assuming he plays in Week 8, he should be considered an interesting flex play as this offense’s WR1 against the Chiefs’ flailing secondary.
Running Backs to Start
Dillon hasn’t seen a ton of involvement in the passing game this year, which is certainly curious given he was expected to once Jamaal Williams signed with the Lions. I think that could change this week with both Davante Adams and Allen Lazard out on the COVID-19/reserve list. Randall Cobb, Robert Tonyan, Equanimeous St. Brown and Amari Rodgers should get a bump this week, but Dillon may as well as a pass-catching asset. He is a flex play with upside against the Cardinals.
Darrel Williams, Chiefs vs. Giants
Williams had an off week against the Titans, as did the entire Chiefs team. He finished as RB34 in half PPR on the heels of a monster, two-touchdown game in Week 6. I still consider him to be a high-end RB2 while Clyde Edwards-Helaire remains out and expect him to feast on the Giants’ run defense this week.
Kenneth Gainwell, Eagles at Lions
Gainwell could step into a much more significant role this week with Miles Sanders listed as week-to-week after suffering an ankle injury in Week 7. Sanders hasn’t been ruled out officially, though reading the tea leaves, a one-week minimum absence feels inevitable. Gainwell saw five carries for 20 yards and caught four of eight targets for 41 yards and a touchdown last week after Sanders went down early. I expect Boston Scott to also be mixed in with Gainwell seeing more passing downs work. He is a rock-solid start this week against the Lions, who are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs this season.
Moss had an off game for fantasy in Week 6 and tallied 10 touches for 39 all-purpose yards, finishing as RB41. Part of that was game script, as the Bills picked up their second loss of the year, this time to the Titans. This should be a very positive game script this week playing the Dolphins, who are essentially one Damien Harris fumble in Week 1 away from being 0-7. Consider Moss a high-end RB3/flex play this week.
Tight Ends to Start
Uzomah has been on fire of late and has tallied 13 catches for 217 yards and five touchdowns. He has more finishes as the TE1 for the week than Travis Kelce and is now flirting with must-start status. He should feast on the Jets defense this week, which has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to tight ends this year.
Robert Tonyan, Packers at Cardinals
Tonyan is back in our good graces as fantasy managers after finding the end zone for the first time since Week 2. He should see even more targets this week with both Davante Adams and Allen Lazard sidelined on the COVID-19/reserve list.
Defenses to Start
Bengals Defense at Jets
Death, taxes and starting defenses when they face the Jets. The team will be starting backup Mike White this week with Zach Wilson out with a knee injury. I anticipate there will be ample scoring opportunities for this unit, which has held their opponents to the fifth-fewest points per game this year.
Cardinals Defense vs. Packers
As well as Kyler Murray has played this year, Arizona’s defense has been one of the team’s best assets. The Cardinals’ D/ST has finished inside the top 13 in every week but one so far this season and will have a good chance to finish top 12 this week against the Packers, who will be without key playmakers, Davante Adams and Allen Lazard. They are a locked-in start this Thursday night.
Week 8 Sit ‘Em
Quarterbacks to Sit
The matchup may be spicy against the Falcons, but I refuse to fall for the Sam Darnold honey pot. He has not capitalized on two soft matchups in Weeks 6 and 7 and has thrown just two touchdowns to five interceptions in the last three games. He was eventually benched for XFL star P.J. Walker in last week’s game. The matchup is enticing against the Falcons, whose defense is allowing the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year and even made Tua Tagovailoa look solid last week, but it’s a hard pass with him looking like the Sam Darnold of Christmas past.
Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins at Bills
Tagovailoa has strung together two solid outings since his three-week injury hiatus and finished as QB10 and QB1. That said, he has faced Jacksonville and Atlanta — neither of which have particularly fearsome defenses. He faces an opponent on the other end of the spectrum this week, the Bills, who are allowing the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and the fewest passing yards per game this year. I can easily see Tagovailoa turning back into a pumpkin this week.
Wide Receivers to Sit
It’s taken me eight weeks but I have officially stopped making excuses for Robinson. Last week should have been his week, but he disappointed yet again and caught two of four targets for 16 yards, finishing as WR71 in a week with six teams on bye. I’m out on him this week against the 49ers — who are allowing the fifth-fewest passing yards this year — and potentially forever.
Tim Patrick, Broncos vs. Washington
In theory, this is a sweet matchup against the Football Team, which has given up the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers, but Patrick’s time as a fantasy-relevant asset has come and gone. He caught two of five passes for 16 yards in Week 7 and will now have to compete for targets with Jerry Jeudy, who is returning from an ankle injury. Toss in Denver’s offensive struggles and Patrick belongs back on the waiver wire in most leagues.
Beckham has been banged up dealing with a shoulder injury. He caught two of six passes for 23 yards and finished as WR58 in half PPR against the Broncos. Better days may be ahead for this highly talented athlete, though perhaps not this week with quarterback Baker Mayfield also ailing. Consider Beckham a risky flex play this week.
Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins at Bills
Waddle has been one of the only Dolphins receivers to stay healthy this season. The rookie leads the team in targets and catches and is coming off of a strong Week 7 performance in which he caught seven of eight targets for 83 yards. He clearly has chemistry with former Alabama teammate Tua Tagovailoa, who has looked strong since his return from injury. However, the Dolphins have faced the Jaguars and Falcons over the last two weeks — two borderline JV defenses — and now face the Bills, who are allowing the fewest passing yards this year. Waddle is a risky WR3 this week.
Running Backs to Sit
Damien Williams, Bears vs. 49ers
Williams appears to have lost his job entirely to Khalil Herbert since returning from the COVID-19/reserve list. Prior to testing positive, he saw 16 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown and caught two passes for 20 yards while David Montgomery was out. He returned in Week 7 and saw just three carries for five yards and caught his lone target for three yards while Herbert exploded for 100 yards against the Buccaneers defense. You can’t trust him moving forward.
Myles Gaskin, Dolphins at Buffalo
Gaskin should, in theory, benefit from Malcolm Brown going on injured reserve this week. He’s also coming off of a strong Week 7 performance in which he handled 15 carries for 67 yards and a touchdown and caught four targets for 10 yards. It’s a bit concerning the team signed Duke Johnson this week to replace Brown, which may indicate they’re not quite ready to hand over the keys to Gaskin as the bell-cow back. I anticipate this backfield will be split with Gaskin receiving the plurality of touches with Salvon Ahmed and Johnson mixed in.
Taylor had a fantastic week in the Patriots’ 54-13 evisceration of the Jets. He was one of three New England running backs to finish inside the top 13 for fantasy for the week and scored a pair of touchdowns. I highly doubt the Patriots tack on 54 points — or anything close to it — again this year. His lack of involvement in the passing game puts him squarely behind Damien Harris and he’s clearly on a short leash with Bill Belichick after fumbling in Week 4, which resulted in a two-week benching. He is a firm sit for me, even against the Chargers’ highly exploitable run defense.
Mike Davis, Falcons vs. Panthers
Davis was a complete flop in Week 7 and tallied four rushes for 10 yards. Before the Falcons’ bye, he had scored at least nine points in every game this year. This is a tough — albeit a revenge — matchup against his former squad, with whom he had great success stepping in for an injured Christian McCaffrey. The Panthers are currently allowing the fewest fantasy points to running backs this year, and with the Falcons’ passing game finally gaining traction, Davis a no-brainer sit this week (and possibly beyond).
Tight Ends to Sit
Mo Alie-Cox, Colts vs. Titans
Alie-Cox has four touchdowns in the last four games and has been a great streamer for the bye weeks. He clearly has chemistry with Carson Wentz, though I do worry that the volume just isn’t there for him to be a week-to-week starter. He doesn’t have one game this year with more than three catches, making him very touchdown-dependent, and faces the Titans, who have been surprisingly good against tight ends. Tennessee is allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points to the position, making Alie-Cox a risky play this week.
Ricky Seals-Jones, Washington at Broncos
Washington’s offense has struggled lately, scoring just 23 points combined in the last two matchups against soft defenses. This has hurt almost all members of the team from a fantasy perspective including Seals-Jones. He still managed to finish top 12 last week, albeit with six teams on bye, but may struggle this week against Denver. The Broncos are allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the tight end position this year.
Defenses to Sit
Indianapolis Colts vs. Titans
The Colts’ secondary has struggled this season, though the D/ST for fantasy purposes has been very serviceable most of the year. I do think the unit as a whole will struggle facing Derrick Henry and the Titans, who have put up the sixth-most points per game this year. There is a solid chance they finish outside the top 12 this week.
New Orleans Saints vs. Buccaneers
New Orleans’ defense has been strong this year and is only allowing 16.8 points per game, third behind Arizona and Buffalo. This will be their biggest test after facing a Geno Smith-led Seahawks team last week, Taylor Heinicke and the Football Team in the previous week, and Daniel Jones and the Giants in the week prior to that. The Buccaneers, who have scored the third-most points per game this year, are also giving up the fewest fantasy points to opposing defenses. The Saints are an easy sit for me.