Fantasy Football Week 8 Start 'Em Sit 'Em

Fantasy football sit-and-start advice should always be relative and league-dependent. Note that some players are targeted for DFS. Good luck with your Week 8 lineups!

Houston Texans @ Carolina Panthers

Start: Tank Dell

Start in DFS: Bryce Young ($20)

Dell is expected to return Sunday following Houston’s bye and gets a favorable matchup. The impressive rookie has seen his yards per route run more than triple when not facing press coverage this season, which Carolina uses at the lowest rate in the league. Moreover, Dell’s target rate jumps from 12.5% versus man up to a team-high 22.9% against zone coverage, which the Panthers play at the third-highest rate.

Young should benefit from the change of play callers and the team’s bye. The rookie QB is coming off his two best games and gets a favorable matchup this week. Houston’s run defense has improved, but the Texans have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks despite facing Kenny Pickett, Desmond Ridder and Derek Carr over their last three games. Young is a sneaky DFS play at the minimum.

Los Angeles Rams @ Dallas Cowboys

Start in DFS: Puka Nacua ($21), Tony Pollard ($20)

Nacua’s salary isn’t that of a top-10 WR on the slate despite coming off a monstrous performance in which he led all WRs in yards last week. Maybe it’s Cooper Kupp’s turn in Week 8, but the Cowboys have yielded the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the slot this season. Nacua moves around a lot, but he should see a lot of coverage from Stephon Gilmore (Dallas’ weakest link in its secondary). Nacua can smash any matchup with the way he’s been playing, and he’s somehow seen his target share (36.6%) increase since Kupp has returned.

Pollard’s efficiency has dropped with his expanded role this season, but he’s also been unlucky when it comes to scoring touchdowns. He’s second in the league in carries inside the five-yard line with 10 but has just two scores. Raheem Mostert has six touchdowns on eight carries inside the five (not to mention from farther away). The Rams have ceded just one touchdown to wide receivers all season (in Week 1) but have allowed the fourth-most rushing scores (nine) in the league. Pollard somehow hasn’t scored since Week 1 while having the second-most red-zone touches, but he should change that Sunday with fresh legs coming out of the bye.

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers

Sit: Alexander Mattison

Start: Christian Watson

Mattison has a good matchup facing a Green Bay defense allowing the third-most fantasy points to running backs and the most rushing attempts per game. But his volume is a big question after Cam Akers had more carries last week. Akers had 10 to Mattison’s three after the game’s first two drives and was the more productive receiver on six fewer routes. It’s tough to trust Mattison this week, when game script won’t necessarily be favorable with Minnesota traveling during a short week (and the Packers desperate).

Watson looks good to go after practicing this week following a scare with his knee last game. Aaron Jones remains limited by his hamstring injury, and Luke Musgrave is questionable to play, so Watson should see volume. The Vikings have yielded the seventh-most fantasy points to receivers this season, so we just need Jordan Love to start playing better.

New Orleans Saints @ Indianapolis Colts

Start in DFS: Alvin Kamara ($28)

Start: Josh Downs

Kamara has become the opposite player he once was, now relying on volume over efficiency. But that volume has more than made up for any lack of previous explosion, as Kamara has nine more receptions than any other running back despite missing the first three games of the season. He’s seen at least a dozen targets during half his games and should be heavily active again Sunday against a Colts defense that runs the most zone coverage in the league. Indy has also been gashed for the sixth-most fantasy points to RBs and an NFL-high 12 rushing touchdowns. Opponents have the second-most rush attempts per game versus Indianapolis, so fire up Kamara indoors this week in DFS.

Downs continues to benefit from Gardner Minshew taking over at QB and should enjoy a fast-paced matchup in Week 8. Minshew has excelled against man coverage throughout his career (like last week), and he gets a Saints defense that uses that coverage at the league’s fourth-highest rate. Michael Pittman Jr. has a tough matchup outside against a New Orleans secondary allowing the fewest fantasy points to the perimeter. Downs has run 83% of his routes out of the slot, where the Saints have yielded the seventh-most fantasy points. Downs has also seen his target rate jump from 17.3% versus zone coverage up to 24.6% against man this season.

Jonathan Taylor ($15) is undervalued in Yahoo DFS this week as well.

New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins

Start: Kendrick Bourne, Raheem Mostert

Bourne has taken over as New England’s WR1, leading the team in routes, targets and receiving yards in each of the last two games. The Patriots will likely have to pass plenty this week as 8.5-point underdogs against a Dolphins team allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to perimeter receivers over the last month. Mac Jones looked far better last week too, so Bourne is a flex option.

Mostert is coming off a quiet performance but should benefit from a much different game script Sunday and his ankle appears good to go. The Patriots aren’t an easy matchup, but Mostert was fantasy’s No. 3 back when these teams met in New England earlier this season. The Dolphins are averaging a mere 47.7 points at home this year and have the highest implied team total this week. With De’Von Achane (sixth in rushing with just 38 carries!) still sidelined, Jeff Wilson Jr. could get more involved, but Mostert remains a top-10 RB in this offense.

New York Jets @ New York Giants

Start in DFS: Breece Hall ($31)

Start: Darren Waller

Hall is coming off season highs in touch share and route participation and should be even more involved out of the Jets’ bye. He’s seen five carries inside the 10-yard line over the last two games and is getting the second-most yards per touch in the league. Hall also has the fourth-most breakaway runs despite having just the 29th-most rush attempts. The Giants have allowed the second-most EPA/rush and the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs, including the third-most rushing yards per game (122.4) to the position.

The blitz-heavy Giants are also a strong matchup for Garrett Wilson, who’s seen his target rate jump to 30.0% versus man coverage, which New York uses at the league’s second-highest rate.

The Jets are tough to run against and are allowing the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season. But they’ve yielded the most touchdowns and fantasy points to tight ends. Waller is third in air yardage share at his position and has benefitted along with the rest of New York’s offense since Tyrod Taylor took over at QB. Waller is a strong start this week.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Start: Christian Kirk, George Pickens

It’s a limited sample, but Kirk’s target rate has jumped from 19.3% against zone to 30.6%(!) versus man coverage this season. The Steelers have used man at the seventh-highest rate in the league. Kirk also ranks top 10 in fantasy points per target versus man, and he continues to see easier targets over the middle from Trevor Lawrence (whereas Calvin Ridley has been limited to boundaries).

Jacksonville has shut down the slot this season but has allowed the third-most fantasy points to outside receivers. Pickens saw a 37% target share last week despite the return of Diontae Johnson, who could still be dealing with some hamstring trouble after missing practice Thursday. Keep Pickens in lineups this week.

Atlanta Falcons @ Tennessee Titans

Start: Drake London

Sit: All Titans but Derrick Henry

London’s targets continue to rise, and Desmond Ridder has shown real improvement passing over the last couple of games. The Titans are a pass-funnel defense allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to London’s primary side this season. London has also seen his target rate jump 14% when facing man, a coverage Tennessee has used at a top-10 rate this year. You’ll love starting the Drake this week.

Facing Will Levis (and possibly some Malik Willis mixed in), Atlanta’s D/ST is also a sleeper fantasy start this week.

Levis figures to be a real problem for Tennessee’s offense, but he’s still likely an upgrade over Malik Willis. DeAndre Hopkins will be shadowed by A.J. Terrell, so it’s tough to trust any Titans in fantasy lineups outside of Henry (who also has a tough matchup and needs to be downgraded this week).

Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Commanders

Start: Eagles D/ST, Terry McLaurin

Sam Howell is on pace to take an NFL-record 97 sacks and commit 20 turnovers this season. He has a 3:6 TD:INT ratio at home. Washington ranks bottom-five in pressure rate allowed, while Philadelphia ranks top five in pressure rate. The Eagles are my top fantasy defense in Week 8.

A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith also deserve upgrades in this matchup.

McLaurin has a 30% first-read target share over the last month and gets a pass-funnel Eagles defense this week. Philadelphia ranks first against the run (sit Brian Robinson) but 17th versus the pass in DVOA. Eagles opponents have attempted the sixth-most pass attempts per game, and the Commanders have the third-highest pass rate over expectation. Philadelphia has also allowed the second-most fantasy points to McLaurin’s primary side. Scary Terry finally saw his first two red-zone targets on the season last week and is due to hit pay dirt again soon.

Cleveland Browns @ Seattle Seahawks

Start: Kareem Hunt, DK Metcalf

Hunt could split carries with Pierre Strong Jr. (and maybe even Jerome Ford, who could surprisingly play through an ankle sprain), but he should see the goal-line (and more passing) work. It’s not a favorable matchup, but Cleveland has an elite defense (and offensive line) and will play hide-the-quarterback with P.J. Walker set to start again (the Browns have a combined 0:7 TD:INT ratio since Week 3). Hunt should see enough high-value touches to be worth starting this week.

Metcalf is expected to return in a tougher matchup, but one that should lead to volume. His target rate has jumped from 17.9% to 24.0% when facing man — a coverage the Browns use at a league-high rate. Tyler Lockett is expected to play, but he's been unproductive while battling through a hamstring injury, and Seattle’s red-zone issues will eventually regress.

Baltimore Ravens @ Arizona Cardinals

Start in DFS: Lamar Jackson ($34)

Start: Trey McBride

Jackson is coming off a monstrous fantasy week and has a salary that’s 21% cheaper than a banged-up Jalen Hurts (who also admittedly has a favorable matchup). The Ravens finally have a healthy WR group, and Jackson is getting a career-high 8.1 YPA despite dealing with numerous drops. He’s also getting the second-most fantasy points per dropback and faces an Arizona defense yielding the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. The Cardinals play a ton of zone, and Jackson sports the second-best Passer Rating in the league versus that coverage. Arizona is also allowing the third-most YPA (7.5) and is last in pressure rate, so Jackson is a strong DFS start while playing indoors this week.

McBride’s route participation and target share have both increased each of the last four games, and now Zach Ertz is on IR. The rookie tight end’s target share jumps to 24% with Ertz off the field, and Ravens opponents have attempted the fourth-most pass attempts per game.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos

Start: Rashee Rice

Sit: Jerry Jeudy

Rice saw a season high in routes run (and participation) last week when Justin Watson sat due to injury. The rookie is tied for 10th among all receivers in red-zone targets this season, so the touchdown production hasn’t been fluky despite the sparse playing time. Rice ranks top 10 in yards per route run, while Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are outside the top 85! Justyn Ross was also recently arrested.

Rice ranks 72nd among receivers in target share (13.1%) but fourth in target rate (32.2%). Put differently, Rice has run the 96th-most routes in the league this year but has been targeted at a top-five rate when on the field. Some of these efficiency stats will no doubt drop (although having Patrick Mahomes will help), but the expanded volume will more than make up for it. He gets a zone-heavy Broncos defense this week that’s most vulnerable to the slot.

Jeudy hasn’t produced a top-30 WR fantasy finish any week this year and belongs on benches in Week 8. Trent McDuffie is a tough matchup in the slot, and Jeudy’s target rate has fallen to a minuscule 10.2% versus man this season — a coverage Kansas City uses at the league’s sixth-highest rate. Courtland Sutton remains the superior fantasy start.

Cincinnati Bengals @ San Francisco 49ers

Sit: Joe Burrow

Start in DFS: Christian McCaffrey ($40)

Burrow was showing better mobility before Cincinnati’s bye, but he’s yet to reach 7.0 YPA in any game this season while posting just one top-12 QB week and none in the top five. Burrow’s 5.3 YPA ranks last among 33 qualified quarterbacks this season. He’ll improve, and a fully healthy Tee Higgins will help, but Burrow has been bad all year and gets a tough matchup Sunday. The 49ers are coming off a disappointing defensive performance (and back-to-back losses) but are among the league leaders in pressure rate. San Francisco is allowing the third-fewest yards per play (4.4) at home and the second-lowest YPA (5.6) this season. The 49ers have also recorded an NFL-high 11 interceptions while holding QBs to the third-fewest fantasy points.

McCaffrey saw 100% of the snaps while playing through an oblique injury last week despite Elijah Mitchell being active. CMC will be relied on heavily again Sunday even with Brock Purdy clearing concussion protocol. McCaffrey has scored a touchdown an NFL-record 16 straight games and gets a Bengals defense allowing the sixth-most EPA/rush and ranks 27th against the run in DVOA. McCaffrey is motivated after losing a fumble last week and has averaged 124.7 yards from scrimmage with six touchdowns over three home games this season.

Chicago Bears @ Los Angeles Chargers

Start: DJ Moore, Chargers D/ST

Moore is seeing seemingly every target from Tyson Bagent, who figures to have to throw more downfield this week. The Chargers have been gashed for the most fantasy points by wide receivers, as their opponents have attempted the fifth-most pass attempts per game. Start Moore Sunday night indoors in a much different game environment than last week.

The Chargers have been struggling defensively this season but have had a tough recent schedule. Bagent Zero hasn’t taken nearly as many sacks as Justin Fields, but the Bears won last week thanks mostly to running and defense. Bagent had an average depth of target in the first percentile last week, and he’ll likely face more obvious passing situations behind a shaky offensive line Sunday night against a Los Angeles offense with the second-highest implied team total this week.

Las Vegas Raiders @ Detroit Lions

Start: Michael Mayer, Jahmyr Gibbs

Mayer disappointed last week but played 90+% of the snaps before the Raiders rested some starters in the fourth quarter of a blowout. He likely won’t be held back by Brian Hoyer again, with Jimmy Garoppolo returning at QB. Mayer gets a prime matchup indoors Monday night against a Lions defense that’s tough against the run but allowing the second-most fantasy points to tight ends this season.

Gibbs benefitted from a garbage-time touchdown last week but saw 20 touches and 10 targets while dominating Detroit’s backfield work. David Montgomery remains sidelined, as coach Dan Campbell expects Gibbs to “step up” again this week. He gets a much easier matchup Monday night against a Las Vegas defense allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs. The Lions are averaging 31.0 points at home, so I have Gibbs as a top-five fantasy back this week.