Fantasy Sunday Rundown Week Eight: Start/Sit/Sleeper

Fantasy predictions, breakdowns and player analysis from this week’s upcoming NFL games.


Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry had six receptions for 71 yards during Thursday’s 36-7 loss to the New England Patriots. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Jacob Kleinberg, Contributing Writer

We are already at the halfway mark of the season. The second half of the season is always the best: The weather gets colder, the playoff hunt begins and those deep, deep, fantasy sleepers always have a funny way of breaking out late in the season. Last year we saw Odell Beckham Jr. turn on the jets. Who will be this year’s fantasy savior?

Let’s take a look at who I think are some must-start players, some players to avoid and some sleepers at each position for week eight of the NFL season.



Matt Ryan (ATL)

The Buccaneers allowed Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins to complete 33 of his 40 pass attempts for 317 yards and three touchdowns last week. This week, the Buccaneers will travel to Atlanta, where they’ll get Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones. This should be a huge day for the Falcons’ passing offense, who need to bounce back after a quiet day at Tennessee.

Philip Rivers (SD)

Despite the chargers 2-5 record, Philip Rivers is on pace to throw for the most yards of passing in one season by a quarterback ever. The Ravens have an uncharacteristically soft defense this season. They’ve allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks of any team in the league. That trend will continue this week.

Cam Newton (CAR)

Newton will get a tasty matchup against a Colts defense that has allowed the seventh most yards on the ground and the third most yards through the air. I think he will have a huge day a home on Monday night, both with his legs and his arms.


Derek Carr (OAK)

I like Carr a lot in his second year, and the combination of him and first-year wide out Amari Cooper should be exciting to watch for years to come. This week however, Carr gets the Jets’ league-leading defense. Hold off on starting him this week.

Andrew Luck (IND)

Luck’s problems aren’t necessarily all his fault. The Colts run a very vertical offense, which requires a competent offensive line to hold up so the receivers can get down field. The problem is the Colts’ offensive line is the furthest thing from competent. The Panthers’ defense will cause problems for Luck all night on Monday.


Joe Flacco (BAL)

Joe Flacco gets the Chargers, who have let opposing teams score almost 25 points per game. In their last three matchups, that number has increased to an average of 29.3 points per game. The Ravens should be able to establish a run game and Flacco should have a good day.

Jameis Winston (TB)

Winston gets better every week. Last week he was 21-for-29 for 297 yards and two touchdowns, no interceptions. Mike Evans finally had that huge day we’ve all been waiting for. I think he’s a good streaming option in Atlanta this week and he’s only owned in 17 percent of Yahoo Leagues.

Running Backs


Chris Johnson (AZ)

At just about thirty years old and within one year of getting shot in the shoulder in his hometown, Johnson is second in yards only to Devonta Freeman. He will take on Cleveland’s league-worst run defense this week and has the potential to put up 150 and two scores this week.

Jonathan Stewart (CAR)

Stewart had a very slow start, but he had two touchdowns in week six and 125 yards in week seven against two formidable run defenses (Seattle in week six and Philadelphia in week seven). This Sunday he gets the Colts soft front line. He’ll cede goal line carries to Mike Tolbert and Cam Newton, but I think he’ll top 100 yards this week. I’m starting him over Eddie Lacey.

Justin Forsett (BAL)

Forsett saved his fantasy owners last week with a touchdown on a night where his team couldn’t get much going on the ground. This week, Forsett will take advantage of San Diego’s poor run defense. Start him with confidence.


Eddie Lacy (GB)

Lacy has been a bust for owners who picked him in the first round this season, but I expect him to pick things up later in the season. Playing against a terrifyingly good Broncos defensive line, I’m not sure he’ll be able to turn it around on the road in Denver.

Darren McFadden (DAL)

McFadden had a terrific night in relief of injured Joseph Randle against a Giants front who until that point had been pretty good against the run. The Cowboys get Seattle this week. Seattle can safely stack the box knowing that Matt Cassel is throwing the ball. Avoid starting any Cowboys this week.

Charcandrick West (KC)

West had a great day last week against the Steelers, but I think the 1-6 Lions are better than their record projects. I think their defensive line will do enough to keep him from doing any major damage.


Orleans Darkwa (NYG)

Darkwa earned himself a bigger role after looking impressive and scoring a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants’ backfield is comprised of Darkwa and three other relatively productive backs, so manage your expectations, but I expect to see him get at least ten carries against the Saints’ leaky run defense.

David Cobb (TEN)

Cobb is a stash sleeper this week. The rookie running back will be activated and ready to play in week nine and is likely to see the majority of the carries for the game.

Wide Receivers


Odell Beckham, Jr (NYG)

Beckham had a quiet night at home against Dallas in week six in a game where the Giants’ offense didn’t do much. The Saints are in the bottom ten in passing yards allowed and in the bottom half of the league in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. TY Hilton was able to burn breakout corner Devin Breaux for two 40-yard-plus touchdowns, and Beckham is much better than TY Hilton.

Willie Snead (NO)

Snead had a tough game last week in Indianapolis, where he only caught three receptions for 25 yards. The good news is that he was still targeted seven times. The Giants are banged up on defense, particularly in the secondary. Snead has WR2 upside in your fantasy roster this Sunday.

Keenan Allen (SD)

Allen has a plus matchup against a Ravens defense that is the third worst passing defense in the league, and Phillip Rivers is playing like a man on fire. Confidently start Keenan Allen who should see upwards of ten targets in Baltimore.


Travis Benjamin (CLE)

Travis Benjamin finally fell back to earth on Sunday in a tough matchup against the Rams on the road in St. Louis. This week he draws an equally tough opponent, the Arizona Cardinals. Cleveland quarterback Josh McCown being injured also limits his potential.

Doug Baldwin/Jermaine Kearse/Tyler Lockett (SEA)

Avoid starting all Seahawks wide receivers this week. Seattle’s offensive line is putrid and the Cowboys are suddenly a strong pass rushing unit. This is going to be a game Seattle will have to win on the ground, and they have the pieces to do that in quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch.

TY Hilton (IND)

I love Hilton as a season-long, high-end WR2 in most formats during this week, although, he’ll be shadowed by Carolina cornerback Josh Norman, who has quietly been the league’s best cornerback this season.


Nate Washington (HOU)

Washington had a huge day in relief of Cecil Shorts III last week. He had two touchdowns and 127 yards. I think he’ll have another big day. Teams are focusing all their attention on stopping DeAndre Hopkins (pro-tip: you can’t), and the number two wide out in that system is usually left wide open. Washington will start again this week as Cecil Shorts nurses his injury.

Kamar Aiken (BAL)
Aiken had a terrible night last Monday against Arizona, but there’s big-game potential for Flacco’s No. two target against a San Diego defense that can’t stop the pass.

Tight Ends


Benjamin Watson (NO)

Simply put, the Giants can’t cover tight ends. They’ve allowed 60 or more yards to tight ends in all but two games this season. They’re thin at linebacker and are a bottom-five pass defense. Watson has emerged as a fantasy relevant option in the Saints’ offense, and they should make good use of him this week.

Ladarius Green (SD)

It looks like Antonio Gates will be out again this week with a knee sprain, but if he does play, he should be limited. Either way, Ladarius Green will make for a good streaming option this week. His floor is 9.7 points in PPR leagues even when Gates is starting.

Delanie Walker (TEN)

Walker has been consistent week in and week out. This week the Titans get the privilege of playing one of the league’s worst teams, the Houston Texans. Start Walker with confidence, no matter who’s at quarterback this week for Tennessee.


Jimmy Graham (SEA)

I don’t trust anyone on Seattle’s offense not named Jimmy Graham. Their horrible offensive line is going to have to find a way to stop Randy Gregory and Greg Hardy if Seattle wants to get anything going in the air, and I just don’t see that happening.

Gary Barnidge (CLE)

Ordinarily, I love “Big Play Barnidge”. But, with his quarterback Josh McCown banged up and his status in the air, I don’t trust him over most other tight end streaming options.


Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TB)

The Buccaneers’ injured second year tight end has been practicing all week, which likely means he’ll be good to go on Sunday, and they’ll need him. The Buccaneers are down to only two healthy wide receivers. They’re going to have to throw the ball to keep up with Atlanta’s potent offense, and Sefarian-Jenkins should get a lot of targets.

Jermaine Gresham (AZ)

Here’s the super deep sleeper of the week. Arizona’s first-string tight end Daniel Fells was out with a shoulder injury last week and Gresham lead the team in targets. If you’re desperate for a tight end play in week eight, you should be able to pick Gresham up as he’s only owned in 1 percent of all Yahoo! leagues.