Week 8 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em
Shane Vereen sure looked great in his first game of 2014 without Stevan Ridley. Jamey Eisenberg likes his chanes of keeping it going in Week 8 and explains in his Start 'Em and Sit 'Em.
Editor's note: FanDuel.com is hosting a one-week $2.5 million Fantasy Football contest for Week 8. It's only $25 to join and first prize is $500,000. Starts Sunday, October 26th at 1 p.m. ET. Enter now to play with Jamey.
This Fantasy season has kept owners on their toes as we arrive at Week 8. It started with Brandon Marshall not expected to play in Week 2 with an ankle injury, and then he had three touchdowns at San Francisco on Monday night. We hoped all injuries would go this way, but alas that hasn't happened.
Calvin Johnson has been a decoy, A.J. Green can't stay healthy and almost every Fantasy owner has dealt with at least one running back injury or off-the-field situation to force a lot of lineup shuffles. And can the Falcons please find a healthy offensive lineman?
Last week, we had the good news that Jimmy Graham would be active at Detroit despite a shoulder injury, but he barely played and had just two targets with no catches. You were almost forced to start him based on his potential, but he clearly wasn't ready for a full complement of snaps. Hopefully that will change this week, but there aren't any guarantees.
As always, we'll try to be your Fantasy compass and point you in the right direction with your lineup.
The running joke in our office is that I like Shane Vereen so much I was going to name my recently-born son after him. That was obviously never an option (although Shane Vereen Eisenberg has a nice ring to it), but I am fond of his game.
In that regard, I felt like a proud parent when Vereen had his dominant performance against the Jets on Thursday night in Week 7. In the first game without Stevan Ridley (knee), Vereen led the Patriots running backs in snaps and touches, finishing with 11 carries for 43 yards and five catches for 71 yards and two touchdowns.
That should be a sign of things to come. Even though Bill Belichick will probably ruin us once or twice with Jonas Gray, Brandon Bolden or James White popping up with a big performance, Vereen should be the main man in this backfield barring injury.
This week, he faces a Bears defense that got run over by Lamar Miller in Week 7 with 14 Fantasy points in a standard league. Chicago has allowed a running back to score at least eight Fantasy points in every game this year, and Vereen should add to that total.
I think Gray could be a sleeper this week with a potential vulture or garbage-time touchdown, but Vereen has the chance for another big outing. I'm excited about his outlook for this matchup and for the rest of this year.
We'll start with Stafford because he'll have the early start Sunday morning with this game in London. Fantasy owners need to be aware that this game has a 9:30 a.m. ET kick, so set your lineups accordingly. And Stafford could have his first 20-point game since Week 4 with this matchup against the Falcons. Atlanta has allowed three of the past four quarterbacks to score at least 20 Fantasy points. The lone quarterback who fell short was Joe Flacco last week with 18, but he still managed 258 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Even though Calvin Johnson (ankle) is expected to be out, Stafford should still have success in this matchup and is worth the risk as a starting option this week. He's also a great buy-low candidate, because when Johnson is healthy we could see Stafford live up to his preseason hype.
Tannehill is not just a great bye-week replacement for Colin Kaepernick and Eli Manning, but he also has more upside this week than established guys like Cam Newton and Matt Ryan. And I'd start him over Stafford and Nick Foles. He comes into Week 8 on an impressive three-game stretch with at least 21 Fantasy points in his past three outings against Oakland, Green Bay and Chicago. He's finally showing off his athleticism with at least 35 rushing yards in each game over that span, and he has a favorable matchup against the Jaguars. While Jacksonville has done a nice job of late in keeping Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Whitehurst and Brian Hoyer to 14 Fantasy points or less in each game, the team just lost standout middle linebacker Paul Posluszny (pectoral) for the season. And prior to that three-game stretch, the Jaguars allowed their first four opposing quarterbacks to throw for at least 288 yards and two touchdowns in each game. I'm expecting Tannehill to stay hot and finish as a Top 12 quarterback in this scoring period.
There are plenty of things working in Romo's favor this week that should allow him to remain a Top 10 Fantasy quarterback. For starters, he's playing well with at least 22 Fantasy points in each of his past four games. He's also been good at home with at least 260 passing yards and two touchdowns in all three outings against New Orleans, Houston and the Giants. He has a good history against the Redskins with at least two touchdowns in four of his past five meetings. And Washington has been miserable against opposing quarterbacks all year with five in a row throwing at least two touchdowns and four scoring at least 22 Fantasy points, and the Redskins just lost linebacker Brian Orakpo (pectoral) for the season. Romo looks comfortable behind that amazing offensive line, and he's using all the weapons at his disposal. He should have another quality start this week.
Wilson definitely showed in Week 7 at St. Louis that he won't miss Percy Harvin, who was traded to the Jets just two days prior to the game. Wilson had his best game of the season against the Rams with 313 passing yards and two touchdowns and 106 rushing yards and a touchdown for 40 Fantasy points. He should stay hot this week. Wilson has scored at least 21 Fantasy points in each of his three road games this year, and the Panthers have allowed each of their past four opposing quarterbacks to score at least 22 Fantasy points. Six of seven quarterbacks against Carolina this season have thrown multiple touchdowns. It's safe to say Wilson won't throw for 300-plus yards again this week since that's just the third time he's done it going back to last year. But one of those three times was at Carolina in Week 1 in 2013, when he passed for 320 yards and a touchdown.
We'll find out if the Eagles pass defense that showed up in Week 6 against the Giants is a fluke or not with how they play against the Cardinals. Prior to that game where Eli Manning had just six Fantasy points, Philadelphia had allowed each opposing quarterback to score at least 20 points, including Chad Henne, Kirk Cousins and Austin Davis. We're confident in Palmer at home, and he has at least 20 Fantasy points in all three games he's played this year with at least 250 passing yards and two touchdowns in each outing. This game has the potential to be high-scoring and a lot of fun, and both quarterbacks should have positive stat lines.
SleepersNick Foles (at ARI): This should be his second 20-point game of the year.
Kyle Orton (at NYJ): NYJ allows the most Fantasy points to quarterbacks.
Alex Smith (vs. STL): Every opposing QB has scored two touchdowns vs. STL.
Things went from bad to unbelievably awful for Ryan in Week 7 at Baltimore when he lost center Peter Konz (knee) for the season. This is now the fourth starter on the offensive line lost to injury, and Ryan's production continues to suffer. He has now gone three games in a row with 16 Fantasy points or less, and he has one game this season with more than 16 points on the road (this game is in London) in four tries at Cincinnati, Minnesota, the Giants and Baltimore. The Lions just allowed Drew Brees to score 24 Fantasy points in Week 7, which is the most points they've surrendered all year and just the second 20-point outing against them with Newton in Week 2. We expect Detroit to suffocate Ryan into another bad game, but hopefully the bye in Week 9 will give the Falcons time to fix their woes and help Ryan thrive in the second half of the season.
A healthy A.J. Green (toe) will definitely help things for Dalton, but his status likely won't be known until later in the week. Dalton looked lost last week at the Colts with 18-of-38 completions for 126 yards and no touchdowns for five Fantasy points, which snapped a two-game streak of at least 21 points. He had 20 Fantasy points against the Ravens in Week 1 with 301 passing yards, one touchdown and a two-point conversion, but that still gives him just five touchdowns and seven interceptions in his past three meetings with Baltimore. The Ravens have allowed just one quarterback to throw for multiple touchdowns this year, which was Mike Glennon in Week 6, and we'd be nervous about Dalton in this matchup even if Green plays. Without Green you should consider Dalton hands off in most standard leagues and even in two-quarterback formats.
I expected Roethlisberger to rally last week at home against the Texans after two disappointing performances at Jacksonville and Cleveland, and he responded with 20 Fantasy points. He has at least 18 Fantasy points in three home games this year, which is something to consider this week. But he's done that against three bad defenses in Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Houston, and Indianapolis is a much tougher foe. The Colts have allowed just one quarterback to reach 20 Fantasy points this year, which was Peyton Manning in Week 1, including matchups with Foles, Flacco and Dalton. Manning and Blake Bortles are the only quarterbacks with multiple passing touchdowns against the Colts, who also held Dalton and Flacco without a touchdown. I don't mind Roethlisberger in two-quarterback leagues, but he should be benched in most standard formats.
Flacco played more like the quarterback we usually see in Week 7 against Atlanta with 258 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for 18 Fantasy points. It was a far cry from his performance at Tampa Bay in Week 6 when he had 42 Fantasy points, which likely shows just how bad the Buccaneers really are. Flacco is still a hard quarterback to trust on the road with 19 Fantasy points combined in his non-Tampa Bay games at Cleveland and Indianapolis, and he has a bad history against the Bengals with 17 Fantasy points or less in each of the past three meetings. He has four touchdowns and six interceptions over that span, and even though the Bengals have struggled of late against Tom Brady, Newton and Andrew Luck, we don't trust Flacco as a Top 12 quarterback in this matchup on the road
For the past two weeks I've gotten tweets about ranking Hoyer too low after he had 27 Fantasy points at Tennessee in Week 5. He followed that up with 14 points against Pittsburgh in Week 6 and four points at Jacksonville in Week 7. Now, coach Mike Pettine is faced with potentially turning to Johnny Manziel if Hoyer struggles again this week. We don't expect that to happen barring a complete meltdown, but this is a game where the Browns can lean on their ground game and keep Hoyer's attempts to a minimum. While the Raiders have struggled in the past three games against Tannehill, Philip Rivers and Palmer, we don't expect Hoyer to have a huge stat line. I wouldn't even use him in two-quarterback leagues unless you get points for handing off.
I wouldn't be surprised if Newton is awesome this week against the Seahawks. After all, Seattle has allowed the past five opposing quarterbacks to throw at least two touchdowns, and four quarterbacks over that span have reached at least 20 Fantasy points. I also wouldn't be surprised if Newton had 16 Fantasy points or less, which he's done three times this year. He only has two games with more than 20 Fantasy points, and he's difficult to project because of his inconsistent play. He was held to 14 Fantasy points against the Seahawks at home last year, but that was a different Seattle defense. I expect Newton to be better than that, but how much better is hard to pin down. You can stick with him if he's been your starter thus far, but I like Tannehill, Orton and Alex Smith better this week. They just feel a little bit safer given their matchups compared to Newton.
All he does is produce, and now he could see even more work if Trent Richardson (hamstring) is out or at less than 100 percent. Bradshaw hasn't gotten 20 touches in any game this season yet he's reached double digits in Fantasy points in five of seven games, and he's been a great outlet for Luck with five receiving touchdowns. The Steelers have allowed five touchdowns to opposing running backs in their past two games against Cleveland and Houston, and eight running backs have either scored or gained 100 total yards against this defense. Bradshaw could be a superstar in this matchup if Richardson is out.
Hillman could be running away with the running back job in Denver with Montee Ball (groin) out. In two starts against the Jets and 49ers, Hillman has combined for 174 rushing yards and two touchdowns and seven catches for 45 yards. The Chargers have struggled with opposing running backs, but mostly as receivers, allowing five receiving touchdowns this year. In total, San Diego has allowed seven touchdowns to opposing running backs and eight to score at least eight Fantasy points. That's the floor for Hillman, who could easily reach double digits in Fantasy points for the third week in a row.
McKinnon might have been the most impressive running back in Week 7 at Buffalo given how he played against a tough run defense. He had 19 carries for 103 yards, and he accepted coach Mike Zimmer's challenge of averaging three yards after contact, according to ESPN. Chris Ivory leads the NFL at 2.68 yards after contact per carry, but McKinnon reached Zimmer's goal with 57 yards after contact. He became the first running back with more than 100 rushing yards against the Bills, and he should have an easier time against the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay has allowed eight touchdowns to opposing running backs and seven to reach double digits in Fantasy points. Matt Asiata isn't a roadblock for McKinnon any more, and this should be a standout performance for him on the road.
We hope that when Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano buried the football as a motivational tactic when he took over for Dennis Allen he put McFadden's injury woes in the ground as well. So far, so good. In two games under Sparano, McFadden has 28 carries for 128 yards and a touchdown and six catches for 13 yards against San Diego and Arizona. He's scored at least eight Fantasy points in both games, and he should have the chance for another solid outing this week. The Browns have allowed seven touchdowns to opposing running backs and six to reach double digits in Fantasy points, including two in a row. Maurice Jones-Drew has just seven carries in the past two games, and the Raiders should continue to lean on McFadden this week. He should be considered a trustworthy No. 2 running back in all leagues.
Bell could lose some work this week with Reggie Bush expected to gut it out with his injured ankle, but it's hard to consider Bush a factor compared to Bell. In the past two games against Minnesota and New Orleans, Bell has 18 carries and two catches in each outing. He's also scored in both games, and he has a dream matchup against the Falcons, who lead the NFL with 12 touchdowns to opposing running backs. Eight running backs have reached double digits in Fantasy points against Atlanta, and we're expecting Bell to add his name to that list. There have been four times this season where Bell has at least 15 carries, and he's scored a touchdown in three of them. We hope the Lions continue to feed Bell because he should come through -- especially for Fantasy owners -- in this matchup.
SleepersTravaris Cadet (vs. GB): He and Mark Ingram have the chance for a big week.
Tre Mason (at KC): He's flex worthy based on his performance in Week 7.
Isaiah Crowell (vs. OAK): The CLE backfield should thrive this week.
Chris Ivory (vs. BUF): He has 9-plus Fantasy points each time he gets 10-plus carries.
Bryce Brown (at NYJ): If he gets the work he could have a big game vs. NYJ.
The Cowboys have been great against opposing running backs, and Morris is not playing well coming into this game. It makes for a bad combination, and you might want to avoid Morris this week if possible. Morris has combined for 12 Fantasy points the past three games against Seattle, Arizona and Tennessee, and he's only scored in two games this season. He offers nothing in the passing game with five catches for 39 yards on the year, and coach Jay Gruden recently expressed concern about Morris' performance. The Cowboys have allowed just two running backs to score touchdowns and have limited Marshawn Lynch and Andre Williams to less than 65 rushing yards in each of the past two weeks. If Morris scores he'll end up as a Top 20 running back this week, but it's not a guarantee that will happen against the Cowboys.
The matchup would suggest starting Bush, so if you need help at running back this week make him active. As we said with Bell above, the Falcons have allowed the most touchdowns to opposing running backs this year. But Bush has struggled to stay healthy with his ankle, and even though he expects to play in London he might not be able to finish the game, which is what happened to him in Week 7 against the Saints. He also has one touchdown on the season and one game with more 65 total yards. Bell is clearly the No. 1 running back in Detroit and should get the goal-line chances, and Bush is probably going to need a touchdown to boost his production. I see more risk than reward here, and I'd rather wait until Bush is 100 percent healthy before considering him a starter in the majority of leagues.
Stop me if you heard this before, but this could be the week Sankey has a breakout performance. I've been banging that drum the past three weeks, but Sankey has been a total letdown in some easy matchups against Cleveland, Jacksonville and Washington. He's combined for 13 Fantasy points over that span, and despite 34 combined carries against the Jaguars and Redskins, he's finished with just 117 rushing yards. He won't work at the goal line, as Jackie Battle stole a touchdown from him in Week 6, and he only has four catches for 39 yards on the year. The Texans aren't a daunting opponent with six touchdowns allowed to opposing running backs and seven scoring at least nine Fantasy points, but that kind of matchup hasn't mattered to Sankey. He's just not playing well right now and there's no reason to trust him.
The Seahawks defense has been a disaster the past two weeks against the run with DeMarco Murray and Mason both running for at least 85 yards and scoring a touchdown. Murray you would expect, because he's the best running back in the NFL this year behind an incredible offensive line, but the game against the Rams was troubling, especially since middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (toe) is out. Stewart has a great opportunity in front of him, but he's so hard to trust, especially behind his offensive line. He hasn't had more than 50 rushing yards or 62 total yards in any game this season and has scored just one touchdown. I'm OK with him as a flex this week, but it's hard to project a big game for him even in a potentially appealing matchup.
With a bad offensive line, a tough matchup on the docket and a running back by committee where he's not the most talented option, there's not a lot to like about Jackson this week. Jackson has combined for 14 carries and 47 yards the past two games against Chicago and Baltimore. He continues to share touches with Antone Smith, Jacquizz Rodgers and Devonta Freeman, and we'd love to see Atlanta commit to Smith and Freeman and put Jackson on the bench. He was a great Fantasy running back once upon a time, but he's done as a viable option on a weekly basis. There's little chance he'll be the first running back to gain more than 85 yards against Detroit, and his only saving grace will be a goal-line touchdown, which he's done twice this year. Otherwise you'll be looking at five Fantasy points or less, which he's done five times, and that should be your expectation in any format.
There's a lot of optimism for Robinson this week after his breakout game against the Browns in Week 7 with 22 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown. It was great to see it happen, but I'm not sure he can replicate that performance again this week. The Dolphins have only allowed one running back to gain more than 70 rushing yards this season, which was Knile Davis in Week 3, including matchups with Eddie Lacy and Matt Forte the past two games. Toby Gerhart (foot) could return this week, which might take away a few touches for Robinson. And Robinson failed to gain more than 36 total yards in any of the previous six games prior to facing the Browns, which could mean his Week 7 total was more the exception than the norm. I have no problem stashing Robinson to see what develops, but there's no reason to start him this week against a quality opponent.
In three games with Kyle Orton as the starting quarterback, Watkins has posted stat lines of seven catches for 87 yards on 12 targets at Detroit, two catches for 27 yards on three targets against New England (and Darrelle Revis) and nine catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns on 14 targets against Minnesota. Take away the matchup with Revis, and Watkins has been as good as any receiver in the NFL the last three weeks. He has a great opportunity this week against the Jets, who have allowed eight touchdowns to opposing receivers this year and seven to reach double digits in Fantasy points. It's strange to say that it took Orton for Watkins to become a star, but that's what happened after he took over as the starter for EJ Manuel.
Jackson now gets to take his turn against the defense that just struggled with Watkins, and we hope he has similar results. Since Mike Glennon has taken over for the injured and inconsistent Josh McCown (thumb) in Week 3 at Atlanta, Jackson has two touchdowns and his lone 100-yard outing in four games. His targets have increased each of the past four games (9, 10, 12 and 13), and we're expecting him to come through in this matchup. The Vikings have allowed the opposing No. 1 receiver to gain either 80 receiving yards or score a touchdown in six of seven games. In total, Minnesota has allowed nine touchdowns to opposing receivers and five to reach double digits in Fantasy points. Jackson is worth trusting this week as a No. 2 receiver in all leagues, and Mike Evans should be considered a sleeper.
The Cardinals got back to locking down receivers in Week 7 against the Raiders with no one gaining more than 55 yards, but that's not the best opponent to judge this secondary. Prior to that, Arizona had given up seven touchdowns to opposing receivers in five games, with eight scoring at least nine Fantasy points. Opposing No. 1 receivers -- Michael Crabtree, Demaryius Thomas and DeSean Jackson -- had thrived in the previous three weeks prior to Week 7, and Maclin is more in line with that group. Before the bye in Week 7, Maclin had double digits in Fantasy points in four of his first six games. He had at least nine targets in five of six games, and Foles should be able to get Maclin some quality production in this matchup.
It was great to see Colston play like he did in Week 7 at Detroit, and he posted his best stat line of the season with six catches for 111 yards on 10 targets. He benefitted with Graham playing at less than 100 percent, so hopefully that doesn't change if Graham is back to a regular workload this week. But this is a great matchup against the Packers, who could again be without cornerback Sam Shields (ankle). Kelvin Benjamin took advantage of that matchup last week with three catches for 61 yards and a touchdown, and Green Bay has allowed eight touchdowns to opposing receivers this year with seven scoring at least nine Fantasy points. Keep Colston active this week as a No. 2 receiver in all leagues.
Hopkins and Andre Johnson both have the chance to play well this week against the Titans, and we hope to get a similar performance from this duo like the Colts got against Tennessee in Week 4. Reggie Wayne had seven catches for 117 yards and a touchdown that week, and T.Y. Hilton had six catches for 105 yards. We'll take a pair of double digit scores, but if we had to choose, Hopkins would be our guy. He has either 100 receiving yards or a touchdown in five of seven games, and he matched his season high with nine targets in Week 7 at Pittsburgh. The Titans have allowed at least 80 receiving yards or a touchdown to nine receivers this year, and last year Hopkins had seven catches for 117 yards and a touchdown against Tennessee in Week 2.
SleepersJustin Hunter (vs. HOU): A new QB could finally jumpstart his season.
Doug Baldwin (at CAR): Week 7 could be the start of a great stretch run.
Dwayne Bowe (vs. STL): He's facing a banged up Rams secondary.
Davante Adams (at NO): He could break out in this potential bonanza.
Eric Decker (vs. BUF): Buffalo has struggled with No. 1 receivers all season.
It's hard to own Allen and see what's happening with the Chargers this season. Philip Rivers is having an amazing year, but Allen is the lone main contributor not taking part in the fun. He has yet to score a touchdown and has just one game with double digits in Fantasy points, which was Week 4 against Jacksonville. It's doubly frustrating because the targets have been there with six or more in six of seven games, including the past four in a row. Denver has also done a great job against No. 1 receivers with only Decker reaching double digits in Fantasy points, including matchups with Wayne, Hilton, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Michael Crabtree. Until Allen plays like the guy we saw in 2013 he should remain on your bench.
Last week in this space I said to just keep Jackson active each week because you never know when that big game will arise. Well, that was before Colt McCoy was named the starting quarterback, and it's hard to expect Jackson to make a lot of plays down the field now. He was held to three catches for 49 yards last week against Tennessee, and he could have another tough outing this week. The Cowboys have been solid against No. 1 receivers all season with Crabtree, Colston, Hopkins, Andre Johnson and Rueben Randle all held to seven Fantasy points or less against this defense. Jackson could always score and leave you upset for benching him, but he also could finish with a similar stat line to last week when McCoy took over for the struggling Kirk Cousins in the second half. I'd only use Jackson as a No. 3 receiver this week.
Something must have happened with Quick and Austin Davis the past two games because the two stopped connecting. Maybe Quick didn't like Davis' cooking, or Davis beat Quick in a video game and things got salty. Who knows what the deal is, but the targets have disappeared. He went from at least nine targets in three of his first four games to a combined six targets the past two weeks against San Francisco and Seattle. He has just three catches for 43 yards over that span, and he's become an easy drop candidate in the majority of leagues. I wouldn't trust him this week against the Chiefs. While some No. 1 receivers have had success against this secondary – Kendall Wright and Demaryius Thomas reached double digits in Fantasy points – we've also seen Mike Wallace, Crabtree and Allen score seven Fantasy points or less in a standard league. We hope there are better days ahead for Quick, but right now he should remain on your bench or the waiver wire.
Sanu has been great this season with double digits in Fantasy points in four of six games. He's also been heavily targeted with eight or more targets in four consecutive games, and he's benefited with Green being out. Green could return this week, which would limit Sanu's chances, and he had just four catches for 36 yards at Baltimore in Week 1 when everyone was healthy. And if Green is out then Sanu could draw a tough assignment against Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith. In the past two games, Smith has helped limit Vincent Jackson and Julio Jones to six Fantasy points or less for each receiver. Sanu remains a good hold candidate since he'll remain the No. 2 receiver for the Bengals with Marvin Jones (foot) out, but you don't have to start him this week given the matchup.
It was great to see Patterson score a touchdown in Week 7 at Buffalo, and maybe that play gets him going, especially with this juicy matchup against the Buccaneers. After all, Tampa Bay allows the most Fantasy points to opposing receivers this year. But Patterson just isn't touching the ball enough to warrant use, and we'd rather gamble on Greg Jennings to have a big game before Patterson. He only has two catches in each of his past four games, and he's combined for just 70 receiving yards over that span. The Buccaneers are just bad enough that Patterson could snap out his funk this week, but he can just as easily finish with two catches for 9 yards which was his output against the Bills minus the touchdown. Fantasy owners might get excited for Patterson now that he scored in Week 7, but he needs to do much more than that before anyone should start him with confidence.
Smith has been the guy we've been waiting for the past two weeks with at least 14 Fantasy points in each game against Tampa Bay and Atlanta. The difference is the touchdowns with three combined in those two outings, and we hope he continues to find the end zone on a regular basis. But he has a terrible history against the Bengals with only one game with double digits in Fantasy points in his past five meetings and no games over 60 receiving yards. He had three catches for 50 yards against Cincinnati in Week 1, and he has eight catches for 60 yards in his career at Cincinnati in three games. The Bengals, despite their defensive woes of late, have allowed just three touchdowns to opposing receivers this year and only four to reach double digits in Fantasy points. As good as Smith has been the past two games, we'd be hesitant to trust him this week as anything more than a No. 3 receiver in most leagues.
The Cowboys had a two-game stretch of doing well against tight ends end in Week 7 against the Giants when Larry Donnell had seven catches for 90 yards and Daniel Fells had a 27-yard touchdown. That is now eight tight ends who have either 75 receiving yards or a touchdown against Dallas this year. The only opponents who failed to have a tight end attain one of those stats were the Texans and Seahawks, who the Cowboys played prior to the Giants. Reed has 13 catches for 146 yards in his past two games on 17 targets, and we expect McCoy to lean on him quite a bit this week.
Every time the Cardinals have faced a legitimate tight end this season good things have happened for Fantasy owners. Antonio Gates, Larry Donnell, Julius Thomas and Jordan Reed have each had at least eight Fantasy points in a standard league, and all four have caught at least six passes. The last time we saw Ertz in Week 6 against the Giants, he had three catches for 47 yards and a touchdown. And last year against the Cardinals he had five catches for 68 yards and two touchdowns. I’m excited about Ertz this week coming off his bye.
We hope Allen benefits the most with Wayne (elbow) banged up, and it's scary to think what could happen if Allen starts getting more targets. He has yet to have more than seven targets in any game this season, and yet he still has five games with at least nine Fantasy points in a standard league. Luck continues to use him as a red-zone threat with five touchdowns, and he faces a Steelers defense that has allowed three tight ends to reach double digits in Fantasy points this year. Of the five tight ends who have at least five targets against Pittsburgh – Jordan Cameron twice, Greg Olsen, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Daniels – three have scored touchdowns. Allen has at least five targets in five games this year and his last three in a row.
SleepersScott Chandler (at NYJ): The Jets have struggled with tight ends since Week 3.
Charles Clay (at JAC): Five tight ends have scored vs. JAC this season.
Jared Cook (at KC): He has seven Fantasy points in two of his past four games.
Miller reached a new low this season with his performance against the Texans in Week 7 with only one catch for 13 yards on one target. He now has three catches for 32 yards in his past two games and just six catches for 78 yards since his lone productive game of the season in Week 4 against Tampa Bay (14 Fantasy points). We're not sure what the reason is for the lack of targets other than Roethlisberger is spreading the ball around (seven players caught passes against Houston), but it's too hard to trust Miller right now. Until he breaks out of this funk and starts playing on a consistent level, Fantasy owners can leave Miller on the waiver wire.
There's going to be a game where Witten plays well because he's too good for it not to happen, but like Miller he reached a new low in Week 7 against the Giants with only two targets for two catches and 27 yards. He now has just one touchdown on the season, which is now two less than No. 2 tight end Gavin Escobar, who had three targets against the Giants. The Redskins have allowed five touchdowns to opposing tight ends this year, but Escobar would likely benefit from that more than Witten. He's not worth starting in the majority of leagues until he starts playing more like a receiver and less like a blocker. But with the success Dallas is having on the ground, we don't expect much to change any time soon.
Cooper Helfet did something in Week 6 that Ertz, Witten, Kyle Rudolph, Graham, Greg Olsen, Tony Gonzalez and many more have failed to do against the Rams since 2012, which is reach double digits in Fantasy points. He became just the fourth tight end in the past 38 games to score at least 10 Fantasy points in a standard league against St. Louis, and we'll find out if Kelce can start a new streak. I'd love to see it happen, but Kelce is just not playing enough to be a significant factor for Fantasy owners. He had four targets in Week 7 at San Diego and finished with four catches for 33 yards, but he now has just six catches for 48 yards and a touchdown in his past two games on only seven targets. Maybe the Chiefs will start to feature Kelce more as the season goes on, but this is not the week to expect it given the way St. Louis defends tight ends. He's just a stash candidate for now.
Walker has fallen on hard times of late with the Titans using Whitehurst for the injured Jake Locker (hand). We hope Locker can return this week because Walker has five Fantasy points or less against Cleveland, Jacksonville and Washington, with a season-low two catches for 17 yards against the Redskins. But even if Locker does play it doesn't mean Walker is a great start. The Texans have allowed just two touchdowns to opposing tight ends but none have scored more than eight Fantasy points, including Donnell in Week 3, Witten in Week 5, Allen and Coby Fleener in Week 6 and Miller in Week 7. In two meetings with Houston last year, Walker combined for four catches for 39 yards and a touchdown, with seven Fantasy points his best total. It's hard to sit Walker based on his overall production this year, but the bad matchup and potential to play with Whitehurst again puts him in this category this week.
Parkey has been solid this season with at least nine Fantasy points in five of six games and double digits in points in four outings. The Cardinals have allowed multiple field goals in each of their past three games against Brandon McManus, Kai Forbath and Sebastian Janikowski, with McManus scoring 11 Fantasy points. We like the potential for this game to be high-scoring, and Parkey has the chance for a big game this week.
SleepersCaleb Sturgis (at JAC): Kickers have dominated JAC all season.
Blair Walsh (at TB): TB allows the second-most Fantasy points to kickers.
Matt Prater (at ATL): ATL has allowed 11 field goals in the past four games.
Suisham has been hot or cold all season, and he's coming off a great game in Week 7 against Houston with three field goals and three extra points. He has three games with at least three field goals and three extra points, but he's also scored six Fantasy points or less in his four other outings. The Colts have only allowed two kickers to make multiple field goals, which were Parkey in Week 2 and Justin Tucker in Week 5. But Parkey is the only kicker with more than seven Fantasy points, and we expect Suisham to struggle this week, even at home.
The Jaguars allow the most Fantasy points to opposing DST units, and the Dolphins should be considered a solid starting option this week and a great bye-week replacement for the 49ers. Jacksonville scored 24 points against Cleveland last week, which is a season-high, but Blake Bortles still had three interceptions and was sacked twice. The Jaguars have 11 interceptions and 29 sacks on the year, and the Dolphins have at least three sacks in three of their past four games and four interceptions in their past three games. This should be a good week for the Dolphins DST, which has at least 17 Fantasy points in a standard league in two of their past three games.
SleepersCowboys (vs. WAS): Are you really worried about Colt McCoy?
Colts (at PIT): IND has at least four sacks in each of its past three games.
Browns (vs. OAK): Five teams have scored at least 12 Fantasy points vs. OAK.
The Saints have been hit or miss for opposing DST units this year. Three have scored at least 12 Fantasy points and three have been at seven points or less, including the Lions in Week 7. The positive for the Packers, who have an interception in six consecutive games and 10 over that span, is Brees has seven interceptions on the season and five in his past three games. But Brees has at least 290 passing yards and two touchdowns in his two home games, and the Packers, despite all the interceptions, still have just two games with double digits in Fantasy points on the year. Look at the Dolphins, Cowboys, Colts, Browns, Vikings or Chiefs instead this week.
Full Disclosure from Week 7
Justin Forsett was our Start of the Week for Week 7, and he was good with nine Fantasy points, which made him a Top 20 running back for the week. He finished with 23 carries for 95 yards, and if he scored a touchdown he would have been a Top 10 running back in standard leagues.
Some of our good calls, including sleepers, were the No. 1 quarterback in Russell Wilson, the No. 1 running back in Shane Vereen and the No. 2 receiver in Sammy Watkins. We also recommended Tony Romo, Carson Palmer, Ronnie Hillman, Lamar Miller, Joique Bell, Kelvin Benjamin and Dwayne Allen, who all finished as starting options at their respective positions.
Our good sit calls included Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Frank Gore, Eric Decker, Michael Crabtree, Brian Quick and Jason Witten. But we missed on several sit recommendations like Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill, Jerick McKinnon, Roddy White and Marques Colston.
|Player||Fantasy Pts. (proj.)||Fantasy Pts. (actual)||Pos. rank|
|Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens||13||9||18|
|Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks||22||40||1|
|Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys||22||27||6|
|Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos||9||21||3|
|Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons||17||13||17|
|Eric Decker, WR, Jets||6||6||43|
|Frank Gore, RB, 49ers||9||2||46|
|Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers||23||13||16|
|Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins||15||5||33|
|DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins||13||4||54|
|Eli Manning, QB, Giants||18||28||4|
|Roddy White, WR, Falcons||7||16||6|
|Owen Daniels, TE, Ravens||6||11||7|
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