We are making a change to the column Thursday based on the latest news with the Broncos backfield and Russell Wilson's health. Wilson is still worth starting this week with his matchup at New Orleans, but he's no longer the Start of the Week since he's dealing with a pectoral injury on top of his troublesome knee.
Instead, we're going with Devontae Booker now that he's the new starting running back for the Broncos with C.J. Anderson headed to injured reserve with a reported significant meniscus tear in his right knee. The Broncos hope Anderson can be ready for the NFL playoffs, but he won't help Fantasy owners again this year. It's safe to drop Anderson in all re-draft leagues.
His loss is Booker's gain, and we hope he runs away with this opportunity. If he's still on waivers you should add him immediately. And in deeper leagues, you should add Kapri Bibbs, who moves up to No. 2 on the depth chart unless another running back is added to the roster.
It's a tough week to lose someone like Anderson if you didn't handcuff him with Booker, especially with six teams on a bye (Miami, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and the Giants). Hopefully you have a quality replacement, and we'll give you some suggestions to help you win your league in Week 8.
Editor's Note: Projections are provided by CBS Sports and not Jamey Eisenberg.
Start of the Week
Booker was making the column as a start before the news broke that Anderson was out with a knee injury, but now Booker has Top 10 potential this week as the starter for the Broncos. He was already taking on more work, and in Week 7 against Houston he played more snaps than Anderson (35-29) and had more touches (18-16).
Booker finished the game with 17 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown and one catch for 4 yards, and now he should be around 20 touches on a weekly basis while Anderson is out, including Week 8 against the Chargers. San Diego has done a nice job in run defense of late, but the Chargers have allowed a running back to score in four of the past five games. The one game where a running back didn't score was Week 6 against Denver, although Anderson had a receiving touchdown called back due to a penalty.
Booker had five carries for 46 yards in that game, but he should be great this week. And with San Diego playing the second half of back-to-back road games, this could be a tired defense against a good rushing team. It's tough to lose Anderson, but Booker can become a star.
Per my colleague Will Brinson, he detailed what Stafford's stats have been in a full season under offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter from last year through Week 7. During that time, Stafford has completed 68.6 percent of his passes for 4,310 yards, 35 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He's scored at least 24 Fantasy points in four of seven games, and he's been a top-12 quarterback in standard leagues in three games in a row. He's facing a Texans defense this week that is banged up in the secondary and has allowed a quarterback to score at least 22 Fantasy points in two of the past three games. It's safe to trust Stafford as a top-10 quarterback in all leagues this week.
Dalton delivered as our Start of the Week in Week 7 against Cleveland with 308 passing yards and two touchdowns for 24 Fantasy points in a standard league. It was his third game in a row with at least 23 points, and he should stay hot in this matchup in London. The Redskins could be without both starting cornerbacks in Josh Norman (concussion) and Bashaud Breeland (ankle), which would obviously make them vulnerable in pass defense. Stafford just had 19 Fantasy points against the Redskins, but only Ben Roethlisberger in Week 1 has scored at least 20. But if Norman and Breeland are out, Dalton has the chance for a big game across the pond.
Carr has tailed off the past two games with his Fantasy production with a combined 25 points against Kansas City and Jacksonville. We hope this is a two-game slump that ends this week, and this could be a fun game with the Buccaneers in another road game on the East Coast for the Raiders. Tampa Bay has done well in the past two games against Carolina and San Francisco with Derek Anderson and Colin Kaepernick combining for just 20 Fantasy points, but consider the talent level of those quarterbacks before judging Carr. In their first four games, the Buccaneers allowed at least 21 Fantasy points to their opposing quarterbacks in three outings. Carr should in that range this week, and he's worth trusting again as a starter in the majority of leagues.
Cousins has actually been a fairly consistent Fantasy quarterback this year, and he should perform like a low-end starter again in this matchup with the Bengals in London. He's scored at least 20 Fantasy points in five of his past six games, and he might get Jordan Reed (concussion) back this week. It would be great if DeSean Jackson started playing at a high level, but Cousins has made due with Jamison Crowder, Vernon Davis and Chris Thompson out of the backfield. The Bengals won't be a pushover, but six quarterbacks have scored at least 18 Fantasy points against Cincinnati, including three with at least 25 points. Cousins should be in that range again, and if that happens he'll remain a low-end starter in most formats.
Winston had one of his best games of the season in Week 7 at San Francisco with 26 Fantasy points behind 269 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception. This is now three games with at least 25 points, and we hope he can string together a streak of good outings with his upcoming schedule against Oakland, Atlanta and Chicago, all at home. The Raiders have been stingy against Alex Smith and Blake Bortles the past two games with 22 Fantasy points combined, but prior to that four quarterbacks scored at least 23 Fantasy points against Oakland in the first five games. We expect Winston to be in that range this week, and he has the chance to be a Top 10 Fantasy quarterback for the second week in a row.
It appears like Wilson is going to play this week, but he's clearly not 100 percent. Still, the matchup is so enticing against the Saints that if he's out there he should manage to be successful, and he remains a Top 10 quarterback in Week 8. New Orleans has allowed five of six opposing quarterbacks to score at least 20 Fantasy points, including four in a row. Four quarterbacks have passed for at least 300 yards, and the Saints have just two interceptions on the year. Wilson faced New Orleans once in his career in the regular season in 2013, and he had 310 passing yards and three touchdowns and eight carries for 47 yards. We'd love to see him turn back the clock and perform at that level, but that's probably unrealistic given his current state of play. Most likely, he will score at least 20 Fantasy points for the second time this season and remind owners why he was among the first quarterbacks drafted this year. He's been a bust so far, but don't give up on him this week given the matchup at New Orleans.
- Alex Smith (at IND): Four QBs in a row have scored at least 20 FPTS vs. IND.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick (at CLE): Every QB vs. CLE has scored at least 20 FPTS.
- Brock Osweiler (vs. DET): Every QB vs. DET has scored at least 20 FPTS.
Taylor is coming off two solid games with an average of 24 Fantasy points in standard leagues against San Francisco and Miami, and he scored 17 points at New England in Week 4. But the talent around Taylor this week could, frankly, be awful. We know Sammy Watkins (foot) is out, Robert Woods (foot) is hurt and LeSean McCoy (hamstring) could miss the game after having a setback in Week 7 at Miami. Marquise Goodwin (concussion), who scored against the Dolphins, could also be out, leaving Taylor with Justin Hunter and Charles Clay as his best options, with Mike Gillislee out of the backfield. Also, in three career meetings with New England, Taylor has averaged 19 Fantasy points, but has only one game with more than 17 points. I'd expect him to be in that range now, but he's due for a letdown after his previous two games. He's a two-quarterback league option at best.
The Cowboys have allowed at least 20 Fantasy points to four of six quarterbacks this season, with Blaine Gabbert (13 points) and Aaron Rodgers (13) the only ones who failed to do well, which happened in two of the past three games. But it's hard to trust Wentz in this matchup given his recent level of play with a combined 14 Fantasy points in a standard league against Washington and Minnesota. Those are better defenses than Dallas, but Wentz may just be playing like a rookie quarterback after six starts. He had one touchdown and two interceptions against the Redskins and Vikings, and he's been held under 200 yards passing in both outings. Wentz might play well this week, but he's not worth trusting in most single-quarterback leagues right now.
Palmer is returning to the site of his worst game from last season, which was the NFC Championship Game at Carolina. He passed for 235 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions in a 49-15 loss. This year, Palmer hasn't played much better, and he has two games with at least 20 Fantasy points and four games with 14 points or less. He was also terrible in his last game against the Panthers in the regular season in 2013 with 175 passing yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, and his last trip to the East Coast for a 1 p.m. start was at Buffalo in Week 3 when he had 287 passing yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions for three Fantasy points. The Cardinals receiving corps is banged up with John Brown (hamstring) and Michael Floyd (hamstring) hurt and Jaron Brown (knee) out, and the Panthers are coming off a bye and getting healthy with cornerback James Bradberry (toe) expected to play. Palmer is a low-end starter at best in the majority of leagues this week on the road.
It's the same drill with Bortles every week. He has a good matchup but he fails to deliver, scoring just 14 Fantasy points in Week 7 against Oakland. He has scored more than 16 Fantasy points just twice, and he's only gone one game without an interception, which was Week 4 at Indianapolis in London. In the United States, Bortles has been turnover prone and inconsistent, and we can't trust him on a short week on the road at Tennessee on Thursday night. He had 322 passing yards and five touchdowns at Tennessee last year, and we'd love to see a repeat performance in Week 8 to instill some faith in him again as a starting Fantasy quarterback. But the Titans have allowed just Cody Kessler and Luck to score more than 20 Fantasy points this year, and it would be a surprise to see Bortle reach that total without plenty of help from his receiving corps. I need to see Bortles play well over consecutive games to consider trusting him again, but this week he should not be used as a starter in most formats.
We have a good idea of what will happen to Rivers this week since these teams just met in Week 6 at San Diego on a Thursday night. We had Rivers as a sit candidate then also, but he got off to a hot start with an early touchdown. However, as most quarterbacks do against Denver, he couldn't keep it up and finished with just 13 Fantasy points in a standard league. Rivers is part of a streak for the Broncos of six quarterbacks in a row with fewer than 16 Fantasy points in a standard league, including Newton, Andrew Luck, Dalton, Winston and Matt Ryan. We expect Rivers to again struggle in this matchup, and he only has one game with multiple touchdowns against the Broncos in their past four meetings. It's hard to trust Rivers this week on the road, and standout pass rusher DeMarcus Ware (arm) might return for this matchup. I'd only use Rivers in two-quarterback leagues this week.
We've certainly downgraded Forte enough over the past five weeks that it's time to give him credit after his first quality outing since Week 2. He had 30 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown and four catches for 54 yards and a touchdown against Baltimore in Week 7, and he should follow that up with another solid game this week at Cleveland. Forte has proven that when given a heavy workload he can succeed, and his three games with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league have come with at least 22 carries, which were Week 1 against Cincinnati, Week 2 at Buffalo and against the Ravens. The Browns have allowed a running back to score in five games in a row, with four running backs scoring double digits in Fantasy points over that span. Forte should add to their misery, and he should be back in good graces for Fantasy owners right now.
This must be the week for 30-year-old running backs since we like Forte and Gore, and Gore has been exceptional for Fantasy owners all year. He's scored double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in five of his past six games, and the nice thing has been consistent touches with at least 20 in four of his past five outings. It's not the easiest matchup against the Chiefs, who have allowed four running backs to score double digits in Fantasy points, but only Le'Veon Bell in Week 4 rushed for more than 100 yards. But Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower combined for over 100 rushing yards last week at Kansas City, and Forte and Bilal Powell had 95 rushing yards against the Chiefs in Week 3. Gore will dominate the workload for the Colts, and he's a safe No. 2 running back in this matchup at home.
Doug Martin (hamstring) isn't expected to play in Week 8, and Rodgers should again have the chance to dominate touches and play at a high level, which has happened the past two games for Tampa Bay with Martin out. Rodgers had 30 carries for 101 yards and five catches for 28 yards at Carolina in Week 5 and 26 carries for 154 yards and one catch for 9 yards at San Francisco in Week 7. The Buccaneers should lean on him once again, so you should expect 20-plus touches in this matchup with Oakland. The Raiders have allowed six running backs to score double digits in Fantasy points this year, including one in five of the past six games. As long as Martin is out, and Rogers continues to get a hefty workload, he's worth starting in the majority of leagues.
The Raiders wasted no time in giving Murray his job back in Week 7 at Jacksonville after a two-game absence with a toe injury. And not only did he get his job back from DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard, he had 18 carries and two catches, which is the most work for any Raiders running back this year. Let's hope that's a sign of things to come because Murray can be a quality Fantasy running back with a heavy workload. Now, he needs to play better since he had just 59 rushing yards and 4 receiving yards, but he scored two touchdowns to finish with 17 Fantasy points in a standard league. He's now had four games this season with at least 11 touches, and he's scored at least nine Fantasy points in each outing. We expect him to lead the Raiders in touches again this week, and the Buccaneers are dealing with injuries along their defensive line. And a running back has scored against Tampa Bay in five games in a row, which should allow Murray to be a solid No. 2 Fantasy running back this week in the majority of leagues.
Bernard and Hill were in this spot last week, and both delivered in a big way against the Browns. Bernard had 17 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown and one catch for 7 yards, and Hill had nine carries for 168 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 24 yards. While Hill had the more eye-popping performance against Cleveland, Bernard has more touches than Hill in the past three games. And Bernard has done well over that span with at least 90 total yards or a touchdown in each game. Hill only has three games this year with at least nine Fantasy points in a standard league, but this is a good matchup for the Bengals. Washington has allowed a running back to score in five of seven games, with eight touchdowns allowed to the position, and eight running backs have scored at least eight Fantasy points against the Redskins this year. That makes both Bengals potential No. 2 Fantasy running backs this week, and both have the chance for a repeat performance like we saw in Week 7. If you have to choose one of these guys, I like Bernard better based on his touches.
- Matt Asiata (at CHI): If Jerick McKinnon (ankle) is hurt then Asiata could have a big day.
- Jonathan Stewart (vs. ARI): ARI should be tired after Week 7 vs. SEA and a long trip.
- Dwayne Washington (at HOU): He should return this week to a tremendous matchup vs. HOU.
- Chris Thompson (at CIN): He should get more touches than Matt Jones in this matchup.
Let's avoid the situation we ran into last week when Charles was active but had just one carry against the Saints. He's clearly not healthy in his comeback from last year's torn ACL, and there's no reason for the Chiefs to go away from Spencer Ware at this point. It would be great if Charles was back at 100 percent this week, and if we find out he's practicing in full through Friday you can consider him a potential starter in the majority of leagues. But most likely we'll see Kansas City continue to limit his work and make sure he's 100 percent healthy before turning him loose. And Ware is an obvious must-start option in all formats against the Colts.
I hope this is one suggestion I'm wrong on because I want to see McKinnon do well and prove he's the best back in Minnesota with Adrian Peterson (knee) out, but right now that seems to be Asiata. McKinnon is also dealing with an ankle injury, which could limit his production or potentially keep him out. He has struggled in three of four games since Peterson went down in Week 2 against Green Bay, and McKinnon had six Fantasy points in a standard league at Carolina in Week 3, 15 points against the Giants in Week 4, four points against Houston in Week 5 and four points at Philadelphia in Week 7. The ankle injury clearly hampered him against the Eagles, and he only played 16 snaps to 57 for Asiata. Since he's not 100 percent, your best bet is to rest him this week, even with a decent matchup against the Bears.
Howard's run as a starting Fantasy option might be at an end, at least for the foreseeable future. You can't start him this week against Minnesota, and the Bears have a bye in Week 9. Jeremy Langford (ankle) should return by Week 10, and Ka'Deem Carey is starting to get more work. We'd like to see the Bears still lean on Howard, but Carey has outplayed him in the past two games against Jacksonville and Green Bay. And the Vikings should be able to shut him down since they have allowed one rushing touchdown this year to a running back, which was Week 4 against Orleans Darkwa, and no running back has gained more than 56 yards on the ground against Minnesota. Howard barely has any appeal as a flex option this week.
Fumbles have become a problem for Mathews of late, with two in the fourth quarter of his past three games. That has prompted coach Doug Pederson to question his workload. If Mathews loses even more work that could be troubling because he's been at 16 touches or less in five games in a row, and the Eagles continue to share touches with Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood. Mathews hasn't scored a rushing touchdown since Week 2, and he only has one game with more than one reception. The Cowboys have also allowed just two running backs to score this season and reach double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league, which are Matt Jones in Week 2 and Carlos Hyde in Week 4. Mathews should only be considered a flex option this week in most leagues.
There's talk about the Redskins benching Jones after he's fumbled three times in his past five games, and Washington can start giving more work to Thompson and Rob Kelley. He's also battling a knee injury as the team heads to London. We hope Jones is healthy, and he just had 16 carries for 135 yards and a touchdown in Week 6 against Philadelphia before dropping to 10 carries for 27 yards and a lost fumble at Detroit in Week 7. Jones isn't a big contributor in the passing game with eight catches on the season, and he's easily someone to avoid in PPR leagues. Cincinnati has allowed a running back to score in three games in a row, with four running backs reaching double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league over that span, but it's hard to know how much work Jones will get in London. He should be considered a flex option at best in Week 8.
It looks like Gillislee will start in place of the injured McCoy, who suffered a setback with his hamstring in Week 7 at Miami. Gillislee is dealing with an apparent foot injury of his own, but he's expected to play and handle a full workload against the Patriots. We expect Buffalo will use Reggie Bush and Jonathan Williams as well, but this game could get ugly for the Bills after Buffalo beat New England when Brady was suspended in Week 4, which could lead to some revenge for the Patriots. McCoy caught a touchdown in that game and finished with 108 total yards, and Gillislee had six carries for 30 yards and one catch for 13 yards. He's been good on limited touches this year and could thrive with an increased workload, but Fantasy owners shouldn't be over-excited just because he's expected to start. Only three running backs have scored double digits in Fantasy points against New England, which were David Johnson, Lamar Miller and McCoy. We don't expect Gillislee to add his name to that list.
This doesn't look like an easy matchup for the Saints since Seattle has been tough on opposing receivers all year. But at home, all the New Orleans pass catchers are in play, including Brandin Cooks, Thomas and Snead. And two weeks ago, the Seahawks allowed Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu to catch touchdowns in the same game, so it's possible for multiple receivers to score against this defense. Thomas has been on fire of late with either a touchdown or 100 receiving yards in four games in a row. And Snead finally looked healthy after dealing with a nagging toe injury in Week 7 at Kansas City with nine catches for 87 yards on 11 targets. Seattle is playing back-to-back road games and could be a tired defense after an overtime battle at Arizona in Week 7, and the Saints are averaging 35.6 points at home in three games this year. They might not hit that number against the Seahawks, but don't be surprised if this offense is still highly productive even against an elite defense.
The Packers duo was awesome in Week 7 at Chicago, and we don't see anything slowing them down this week against the Falcons. Adams has scored a touchdown in four of six games, and he's had at least eight targets, five catches, 85 yards and a touchdown in two of his past three outings. Montgomery has been lining up in the backfield for the Packers in the past two games, which has resulted in 13 touches in each outing against Dallas and Chicago. He's delivered more than 100 total yards in each game, and the Falcons have struggled with players catching passes out of the backfield, with 58 catches, 476 yards and three touchdowns to opposing running backs. Randall Cobb is a must-start Fantasy receiver this week, and Jordy Nelson is still worth using as a No. 2 receiver as well. But Adams and Montgomery also have Top 20 potential, and this should be another big week for the Green Bay passing attack.
Like Wilson, Baldwin is due for a big game this week after a quiet season so far, including three games in a row with six Fantasy points or less in a standard league. He hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 3 against San Francisco, and he also hasn't reached his magic number of seven targets since that game with the 49ers. Over the past three seasons, Baldwin has a great track record when he's gotten at least seven targets in a game, which has happened 15 times. Baldwin has scored double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league 12 times over that span, so hopefully Wilson looks for him often in this matchup. New Orleans has been relatively stingy against No. 1 receivers, but four receivers have still scored double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league against the Saints. I'm counting on Wilson, Baldwin and Graham to all play big this week.
Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins should be thrilled about this matchup with the Lions, who have a mediocre secondary to begin with and will likely be without cornerback Darius Slay (hamstring). Detroit has already allowed nine touchdowns to opposing receivers and five have scored double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league. Fuller has been injured and struggling the past three games with two Fantasy points combined against Minnesota, Indianapolis and Denver, but the Vikings and Broncos are brutal defenses. That isn't the case this week, and Fuller has done well in favorable matchups this year against Chicago, Kansas City and Tennessee, which were all at home, leading to at least 10 Fantasy points in a standard league in each outing. He should do that again this week if Osweiler doesn't fall apart and has Top 20 potential in all leagues.
Crabtree continues to produce at a high level, and he should remain active in all leagues this week. After a down game in Week 6 against Kansas City when he had two catches for 10 yards, he was back in a big way at Jacksonville with eight catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. He has now scored at least nine Fantasy points in a standard league in six of seven games, with double digits in points in five of those outings. Tampa Bay hasn't allowed a receiver to score in the past two games against Carolina and San Francisco, but the Buccaneers did allow nine touchdowns to receivers in their first four games against Atlanta, Arizona, Los Angeles and Denver. This should be a great week for Crabtree and Amari Cooper to dominate.
- Donte Moncrief (vs. KC): He's back and should immediately see plenty of targets.
- Brandon LaFell (at WAS): The Redskins secondary could be a mess this week.
- Stefon Diggs (at CHI): CHI has allowed five WR touchdowns in the past three games.
- Quincy Enunwa (at CLE): CLE has allowed a WR duo to score in four games this year.
- Marqise Lee (at TEN): He's played well in PPR with 13 catches in his past two games.
Jeffery should benefit with Jay Cutler back from his thumb injury, but it's hard to start Jeffery this week against the Vikings. He's still searching for his first touchdown this year, and he's been held to seven Fantasy points or less in a standard league in four of his past five games. Jeffery scored in both games against the Vikings last season, but in one game he was held to one catch for 10 yards and the score. This year, the Vikings have allowed just two receivers to score double digits in Fantasy points, and the cornerbacks for Minnesota, led by Xavier Rhodes, have been excellent. Jeffery is just a No. 3 Fantasy receiver this week.
Matthews will be hard to trust this week based on his recent level of play. He's scored seven Fantasy points or less in a standard league in five games in a row, with one touchdown over that span, and he hasn't topped four catches in a game since Week 2. Dallas has been tough on No. 1 receivers as Odell Beckham, DeSean Jackson, Jeffery, A.J. Green and Nelson have been held to seven Fantasy points or less, and we expect Matthews to follow suit. Matthews actually played well against the Cowboys last year with 15 catches for 213 yards and two touchdowns in two meetings, but it's hard to expect that kind of production this week. He's just a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in this matchup.
Jackson is due for a big game, but it's hard to trust him as anything more than a low-end No. 3 Fantasy receiver this week. He's still dealing with a nagging shoulder injury, which kept him out of practice Wednesday, and apparently his hamstring is an issue as well. Jackson has just one touchdown on the season, which was Week 3 at the Giants, but he's combined for just 11 Fantasy points in a standard league in his past four games. He's averaging eight targets a game in his past three outings, but he's not producing at a high level with them. The Bengals are usually tough on outside receivers, and only one receiver has scored against them in the past three games, which was Cole Beasley in Week 5. We'd keep Jackson reserved in most leagues until he starts playing with more consistency.
We saw what happened to this duo in Week 6 when they faced the Broncos at home on Thursday night. Benjamin was held to three catches for 17 yards, and Williams had three catches for 28 yards. Denver just held Hopkins and Fuller to a combined nine catches for 58 yards, and no receiver has scored against the Broncos since Week 1 when Kelvin Benjamin had six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown. Since then, Denver has shut down T.Y. Hilton, Green, Evans, Julio Jones, the Chargers duo and the Texans duo. We don't have even moderate expectations in the rematch, and you should avoid using Benjamin and Williams in the majority of leagues.
At some point we're going to have a breakout game for Maclin, but he needs to prove himself first before Fantasy owners can consider him a must-start option again. He's scored seven Fantasy points or less in five games in a row, including three games with four points or less over that span. He hasn't scored since Week 1, and his targets have declined to just eight in his past two games against Oakland and New Orleans, which were favorable matchups. The Colts have been tough on No. 1 receivers this year with Allen Robinson the only one with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league, including matchups with Demaryius Thomas, Jeffery and Hopkins. Maclin should be considered a No. 3 Fantasy receiver at best this week.
It's hard to bench a receiver of Benjamin's caliber, but this is going to be a tough matchup against the Cardinals this week, especially if Patrick Peterson shadows him as expected. The only No. 1 receiver to have success against the Cardinals this season was Mike Evans in Week 2 when he had six catches for 70 yards and a touchdown on a whopping 17 targets. Benjamin has scored just once since Week 2, and he's averaging just six Fantasy points in a standard league in his past four games against Minnesota, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and New Orleans. Benjamin should do better than that average, which makes him a high-end No. 3 Fantasy receiver, but Peterson could make things tough on him, even at home and coming off a bye.
I'm sticking with Fleener this week even with the matchup against Seattle because I expect him to be like the rest of his teammates where he's better at home than on the road. In his past two home games, Fleener has 13 catches for 183 yards and two touchdowns against Atlanta and Carolina. Compare that to his past two on the road when he had five catches for 63 yards and no touchdowns at San Diego and Kansas City. The Seahawks are obviously an elite defense, but they have yet to play a quality tight end against Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, the Jets, Atlanta and Arizona. Kam Chancellor (groin) has also missed the past two games, and we'll see if he returns this week. It could be risky to trust Fleener against Seattle, but he could also deliver once again at home.
He was limited to 15 snaps in his season debut in Week 7 against Cleveland, and he finished with just one catch for 9 yards. Coach Marvin Lewis said his role will expand in Week 8, and we expect him to be more involved now that he shook the rust off from his ankle and back injuries. The Redskins have allowed just one touchdown to a tight end this year, but their toughest competition to date has been Gary Barnidge, Dennis Pitta, Jason Witten and Zach Ertz. If Eifert is right he would be the best opposing tight end they've faced, and we expect him to reward Fantasy owners who have been patient with him so far this season.
Fiedorowicz is one of my favorite tight ends this week given his recent level of play and the matchup with the Lions. He comes into this game with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in two of his past four games, and he has 19 catches for 229 yards and two touchdowns over that span. He's had at least seven targets in three games in a row, and the Lions have allowed a tight end to score in five of seven games this year. There have been six tight ends to score at least seven Fantasy points in a standard league against Detroit, and Fiedorowicz is a tremendous streaming option given the matchup.
- Cameron Brate (vs. OAK): Three TEs have scored vs. OAK in the past three games.
- Gary Barnidge (vs. NYJ): He should be helpful this week since NYJ are bad vs. TEs.
- Vernon Davis (at CIN): If Reed remains out then Davis could be a Top 10 TE.
Ertz doesn't have the best history against the Cowboys, and given his recent level of play, his woes against Dallas should continue. In his past five meetings with Dallas, Ertz has 14 catches for 136 yards and no touchdowns. That's kind of similar to his past three games since he returned from a two-game absence from a rib injury in Week 1 with five catches for 73 yards and no touchdowns on nine targets. Dallas has allowed three touchdowns to tight ends, but only Zach Miller in Week 3 has scored double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league. Until Ertz starts turning things around, which he hopefully will, we would bench him in the majority of leagues.
Miller's time as a starting Fantasy tight end might have come to an end in Week 7 at Green Bay, and he could go back into the streaming pool. We'll see if Cutler can keep Miller afloat like Brian Hoyer did, but this is a tough matchup against the Vikings in Week 8. Minnesota has yet to allow a tight end to score, including matchups with Delanie Walker and Greg Olsen, and Olsen had the best day for a tight end against the Vikings with six catches for 64 yards on 10 targets in Week 3. Miller has combined for just 14 Fantasy points in a standard league over the past three games, and after Minnesota he has a bye in Week 9. It's OK to say bye-bye to Miller for now.
There's a good chance Gates will return as the No. 1 tight end for the Chargers this week with Hunter Henry (concussion) hurt, but you can't trust him in this matchup with Denver. We'll see what happens Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall (hamstring) this week, and Henry beat up Denver in Week 6 with six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown on eight targets. But Henry is the lone tight end to score against Denver, and Gates has just one game with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in his past 14 outings going back to last year. Now, Gates does have four touchdowns in his past five meetings with the Broncos, including three scores in his past two trips to Denver. But that seems like a long time ago for the 36-year-old Gates, who hasn't topped 40 yards in any game this season.
We liked Doyle as a Top 10 tight end last week against Tennessee, and he delivered in a big way with nine catches for 78 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. He's scored double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in two games in a row, and he should benefit with a hefty amount of targets if Dwayne Allen (ankle) remains out as expected. We'll see what happens with Moncrief (shoulder) this week, which would impact Doyle, but he should struggle in this matchup. Kansas City, behind safety Eric Berry, is dominant against tight ends. Jesse James scored the lone touchdown for a tight end against the Chiefs, and Fleener last week has the high in yards against them with 44. Kansas City has allowed just four touchdowns to tight ends going back to last season, and none have scored more than seven Fantasy points in a standard league over that span. It would be nice to see Doyle have another big game this week, but the stats suggest a letdown is coming in this matchup.
Jets (at CLE)
- Week 8 projected stats: 11.3 FPTS
The Jets DST just had its best game in Week 7 against the Ravens with 15 Fantasy points in a standard league, and we expect them to build on that performance this week. The Browns choices at quarterback this week are Josh McCown coming back from a five-game absence with a broken collarbone, Kessler trying to get cleared from a concussion or Kevin Hogan making his first NFL start. All those scenarios bode well for the Jets, who forced two interceptions from Joe Flacco last week. Five opposing DST units have also scored at least 10 Fantasy points against the Browns this year.
- Titans (vs. JAC): Four DST units have scored at least 10 FPTS vs. JAC this year.
- Panthers (vs. ARI): Palmer threw four interceptions in his last trip to CAR.
- Browns (vs. NYJ): There's always the chance for a turnover when Fitzpatrick starts.
Bills (vs. NE)
- Week 8 projected stats: 8.3 FPTS
The last time Buffalo played New England in Week 4, the Bills DST scored 15 Fantasy points in a standard league with three sacks, a fumble and no points allowed. Of course, that was with Brady suspended and Jacoby Brissett starting for New England. It will obviously be different this time around, and the Bills DST should be benched in all leagues. They also just had the disappointing game at Miami in Week 7 with one Fantasy point, and if they can't stop the Dolphins, there's no chance of slowing down the Patriots with Brady.
Hauschka wasn't at his best in Week 7 against the Cardinals with a crucial missed field goal in overtime, and he's scored single digits in Fantasy points in each of his past two games against Atlanta and Arizona. But he also had two games with at least 11 Fantasy points in his previous two outings against San Francisco and the Jets, and this is a good spot to trust him against the Saints. Four kickers in the past five games against New Orleans have scored at least nine Fantasy points, and Hauschka should have one of his better outings of the season in this matchup.
- Matt Prater (at HOU): HOU has allowed 20 FPTS to kickers in the past two games.
- Blair Walsh (at CHI): Three kickers have scored at least 11 FPTS vs. CHI this year.
- Will Lutz (vs. SEA): He's scored at least eight FPTS in all three home games.
Gano has just one game this year with more than eight Fantasy points in a standard league, and he hasn't made multiple field goals in a game since Week 2. He's averaging just 4.8 Fantasy points in his past four games, and he's combined for six Fantasy points in his past two home games against Minnesota and Tampa Bay. The Cardinals have been stingy against opposing kickers, with Stephen Gostkowski in Week 1 the lone one to score double digits in Fantasy points against them. And three kickers have scored three points or less against Arizona this year.
Full Disclosure from Week 7
Andy Dalton might have benefitted from a ridiculous Hail Mary touchdown catch by A.J. Green to end the first half in Week 7 against Cleveland, but he still put together a quality outing as our Start of the Week. Dalton finished with 308 passing yards and two touchdowns for 24 Fantasy points in a standard league.
While Dalton was the headliner of last week's column, he might not have been the highlight. At running back, we had three tandems of running backs that were successful with LeGarrette Blount and James White, C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker and Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. Blount and Hill were Top 5 running backs for the week, Anderson finished in the Top 10, Bernard and Booker were in the Top 15 and White was in the Top 24.
We also suggested Spencer Ware and Jacquizz Rodgers as starters, and they both finished as Top 12 running backs. Our other positive start recommendations, including sleepers, were Jameis Winston, Tyrod Taylor, Kirk Cousins, Alex Smith, Marcus Mariota, Tevin Coleman, Randall Cobb, Michael Thomas, Mike Wallace and Jack Doyle.
We also said to sit guys who struggled like DeAndre Hopkins, Carson Palmer, Russell Wilson, Ryan Mathews and Coby Fleener, among others. But we missed on guys like Brandon Marshall, Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers as starters. And we had a couple of epic fails by saying to sit Drew Brees and Matt Forte, as both dominated.
This week, we expect Devontae Booker to stand out as the Start of the Week. And hopefully our running backs in Week 8 are just as good, if not better, than they were in Week 7.
Start of the Week: Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals
- Fantasy points: 24
- Position rank: 6
Recommended starts who made us look good
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots
- Fantasy points: 24
- Position rank: 4
Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals
- Fantasy points: 24
- Position rank: 5
Randall Cobb, WR, Packers
- Fantasy points: 17
- Position rank: 5
Recommended sits who made us look good
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
- Fantasy points: 9
- Position rank: 24
Ryan Mathews, RB, Eagles
- Fantasy points: 5
- Position rank: 34
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans
- Fantasy points: 3
- Position rank: 58
Recommended starts who made us look bad
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers
- Fantasy points: 16
- Position rank: 14
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
- Fantasy points: 14
- Position rank: 19
Brandon Marshall, WR, Jets
- Fantasy points: 3
- Position rank: 57
Recommended sits who made us look bad
Drew Brees, QB, Saints
- Fantasy points: 30
- Position rank: 2
Matt Forte, RB, Jets
- Fantasy points: 25
- Position rank: 3
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns
- Fantasy points: 13
- Position rank: 18