Welcome to Week 8: the half-way mark of the fantasy football season. In the Week 6 preview, we dove into strategies for your team based on were you stood in the standings. As we enter the home stretch of the season, let’s quickly revisit these strategies.
Beginning with the 7-0 and 6-1 records, the playoffs are likely in your future. For those sitting at 5-2, you're most likely here as well, you might just not be as comfortable yet. While your team may seem elite, don't stop adding talent to the back end of your roster. There is always a breakout player in free agency that will swing the balance of the league. Just look at Odell Beckham Jr.’s rookie season. After being injured for the first four weeks, he caught just ten total passes in his first three games back. Then? He exploded for 81 catches, 1,199 yards and nine touchdowns over his next nine games - being the final piece on many championship rosters. If you think you can forecast who this next breakout star will be, you can afford to add him now - don't wait.
As we also mentioned in the Week 6 preview, use your last roster spot on your best running back’s handcuff. Running backs are dropping like flies this year, so the insurance is needed. Just look how well Mike Davis has played this year, while just this past week Giovanni Bernard and Jamaal Williams excelled when filling in for Joe Mixon and Aaron Jones, respectively.
For those in the middle of the pack, 4-3 or 3-4, a spot in the playoffs is still there for you to take. You are in win now mode however, so make some trades and lineup moves to reflect it. If you have one of these injured running backs on your bench (Nick Chubb, Austin Ekeler), try to find a trade partner. While the teams above you in the standings can afford to have these guys sit on their bench, you cannot. Get a player or two that will help you win immediately.
Now, those competing for the toilet bowl, sitting at 0-7, 1-6, or 2-5, don't finish last. Don’t do it! Your playoff dreams are long gone, but save yourself the embarrassment and don't finish last. And don't be the fantasy manager to stop playing. Keep setting your lineups and making roster changes - play the spoiler role.
So with that, shall we hope into this week’s preview? I think we shall...
Tom Brady at New York Giants
Touchdown Tom has been red hot as of late - taking home NFC Offensive Player of the Month honors for October. Brady has tossed six total touchdowns the last two weeks while adding another rushing score last week. He faces a Giants defense this week that has been tough against fantasy quarterbacks, allowing fewer than 18 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. However, New York has benefitted from facing Nick Mullens, Kyle Allen, and Mitchell Trubisky. Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Wentz both scored over 22-fantasy points the Giants defense. Start Brady in this Monday night matchup.
Carson Wentz vs Dallas
After a brutal first three weeks, Wentz has turned things around of late (scoring at least 21.0 fantasy points in four of his last five games). He’s still plagued by drops and injuries to his receiving core, but he has a great matchup this weekend against a brutal Dallas defense. Quarterbacks have averaged almost 21 fantasy points per game against the Cowboys, while three have scored at least 28.5. Look for Wentz to keep the momentum going this week.
More Starts: Joe Burrow vs Tennessee, Jimmy Garoppolo at Seattle
Josh Allen vs New England
In last week’s preview we brought up weather for the first time this season. To review, high wind gusts make the biggest difference in terms of production. So let’s take a look at this Sunday's forecast in Buffalo:
Wish I could report better than this. It is looking UGLY for the Patriots @ Bills at Bills Stadium (aka The Ralph). Maybe a Wind Advisory for gusts 45-50 mph, and wind driven rain. @News4Buffalo WakeUp! On CW23 #4WarnWeather @BuffaloBills #Yuck pic.twitter.com/yCOYfhVh4y— mikecejka4 (@mikecejka4) October 29, 2020
Even with Josh Allen’s rocket arm, 45-50 mph wind gusts should force these teams to put the ball on the ground. Pair that with the matchup against New England’s top secondary that hasn't allowed a touchdown in the last two weeks, while snagging four interceptions, Allen should be left on the bench this week.
Matthew Stafford vs Indianapolis
Stafford has thrown just two total touchdowns the past two weeks and now has a date with an above-average Colts defense. Indianapolis has allowed just seven touchdown passes on the year and the fewest fantasy points (11.7 PPG) to opposing QBs. The numbers lean towards keeping Stafford sidelined.
More Sits: Matt Ryan at Carolina, Justin Herbert at Denver
Sleeper: Baker Mayfield vs Las Vegas
Mayfield had one of the best games of his career last weekend, tossing five touchdown passes and 297 yards. This weekend, he gets a Raiders defense that was beat by Tom Brady for four touchdowns last week. And it’s not just the Brady affect, as Vegas has allowed an average of 332.2 passing yards and nearly four touchdowns over the last three weeks. This game has shootout written all over it, so Mayfield will need to, and should, put up points.
Jonathan Taylor at Detroit
Taylor has at least 14 touches and 62 scrimmage yards in every game, but this is the week the former Wisconsin Badger should explode onto the scene. The Lions defense has allowed the third-most fantasy points to the running back position over the past four weeks, while surrendering nine total touchdowns to the position over the last five weeks. Behind one of the best run blocking offensive lines in the league, a big game should be on tap for the rookie.
Mike Davis vs Atlanta
Davis has regressed the last two weeks, but should be a focal point of the Panthers offense on Thursday. In Carolina’s Week 5 matchup against Atlanta, Davis ran the rock 16 times while seeing 10 targets (nine receptions) in the passing game. While this game screams shootout, don't be surprised to see both sides try to establish the run, leading to more volume and a bounce back performance from Davis.
More Starts: Darrell Henderson at Miami, Miles Sanders vs Dallas
Ezekiel Elliot at Philadelphia
It has been a disaster season for Elliot. Zeke has been held to less than 55 rushing yards in four of his last five games and has failed to score a rushing touchdown in three of his last four. Elliot has also failed to make a difference in the passing game, seeing just two targets in two of the last three weeks. With third-stringer Ben DiNucci likely lining up under center for Dallas, the Eagles defense will key in on stopping Elliot. DiNucci will need to opt for check downs to his back to save Elliot’s fantasy day.
David Montgomery vs New Orleans
Montgomery has seen a high amount of touches in Chicago’s offense, but hasn't done much with them. He hasn’t been able to top 3.4 yards per carry in the last five games and has failed to find the end zone since Week 5. He now gets a Saints defense that has kept six opposing running backs under 3.3 yards per carry while allowing the eighth-fewest points to enemy runners.
More Sits: Chargers Running Backs vs Denver, Jerick McKinnon at Seattle
Sleeper: Zack Moss vs New England
You saw the forecast for this game above. High winds plus light rain equals running the ball - a perfect equation for Zack Moss fantasy owners. As Devin Singletary has struggled on the year, momentum has swung in Moss’ favor. He rushed seven times for 47 yards last week, while catching all three of his targets for 25 yards. Moss should see more work this week, plus goal line carries, against a Patriots run defense that has allowed a running-back to exceed 100-yards in back-to-back games.
Travis Fulgham vs Dallas
Fulgham has seen double-digit targets in three straight contests while scoring double-digit fantasy points every game he’s played this year. He has a mouthwatering matchup this week against a Cowboys defense that has allowed 10 touchdowns and the third-most fantasy points to the position. Even with Alshon Jeffrey set to return, Fulgham is the man to own in Philadelphia.
Henry Ruggs III at Cleveland
Ruggs has now seen back-to-back games of two receptions on three targets, but that should change this week. According to PFF, the Cleveland defense has allowed the second-most passing yards, the second-most deep-ball attempts and the fourth-highest yards per attempt (9.8) to receivers out of the slot this season. Ruggs’ owns an aDOT of 23.3 on targets from the slot this year, so the rookie speedster should have plenty of opportunities to feast in this matchup.
More Starts: Brandon Aiyuk at Seattle, Justin Jefferson at Green Bay
Robert Woods at Miami
The emergence of Josh Reynolds has hurt both Woods and Cooper Kupp’s fantasy value. In the last two weeks, Reynolds leads the Rams in targets 20-plus yards downfield (six) and end-zone targets (four). Just last week, Reynolds ran more routes and saw more targets than Woods. Things won't get any easier this week against the Dolphins, who have allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points per game to wide receivers over the past four weeks. With a lack of upside and tough matchup, keep Woods out this week
Mike Evans at New York Giants
Evans is clearly not playing 100 percent and it has showed in his fantasy production. Combined over the last two weeks, Evans has caught just three-of-four targets. More bad news is on deck this week, as he’ll most likely matchup against one of the top corners in the league: James Bradberry. Bradberry has mostly been used against the oppositions top receiver this year and has allowed under 50 receiving yards and no touchdowns in each of his last six games. Evans is best left on benches in this one.
More Sits: JuJu Smith-Schuster at Baltimore, Marvin Jones Jr. vs Indianapolis
Sleeper: Rashard Higgins vs Las Vegas
With Odell out for the year, Higgins is the next man up in Cleveland. He impressed last week, hauling in all six of his targets for 110 yards. Even before Beckham’s injury, Higgins’ play time was increasing. Over the last three weeks, Higgins has played 65 percent of Cleveland’s offensive snaps, lining up all over the field. Mayfield has a 123.6 passer rating when throwing to Higgins, who should be able to exploit the Raiders’ defense downfield on Sunday.
Jonnu Smith at Cincinatti
Ignore Smith’s last two one-catch duds. He has a great opportunity to get back on track this weekend against the Bengals, who gave up three combined touchdowns to David Njoku and Harrison Bryant last week. On the year, Cincinnati has allowed the third-most fantasy points to the TE position this season.
Mike Gesicki vs Los Angeles Rams
Gesicki will look to build chemistry with rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on Sunday. Tua led the NCAA in passer rating (140.2) at Alabama last season when targeting the slot. If that trend continues in his first NFL start, Gesicki should see his fair share of work. Only four teams have allowed more tight end receptions than the Rams this season, while they have faced the second-most targets to tight ends lined up in the slot. Look for the rookie to target Gesicki early and often in this one.
More Starts: Jimmy Graham vs New Orleans, Richard Rodgers vs Dallas
Greg Olsen vs San Francisco
Olsen has lost work to both Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister as of late. After catching three passes over the last two games, the former Carolina Panther has now scored less than nine fantasy points in four of his last five games. The 49ers defense has allowed one touchdown and the sixth-fewest fantasy points to enemy tight ends, so keep Olsen out.
Eric Ebron at Baltimore
Ebron had a productive Week 7 against Tennessee, catching six-of-eight targets for 50 yards. But, don't chase his recent production this week against a Baltimore defense that has been tough against tight ends. On the year, only Travis Kelce has scored more than 14.7 fantasy points against the Ravens from the tight end position.
More Sits: Rams Tight Ends vs Miami
Sleeper: Irv Smith Jr. at Green Bay
Smith has been used more in Minnesota’s last two games. He’s caught four-of-five targets in both games, combining for ten targets, eight catches, 119 receiving yards, and a two-point conversion. Coming off a bye, it would not be surprising to see the Vikings get Smith even more involved in the offense. They play Green Bay this week who has allowed half of their opposing tight ends to go over 50 yards.
Patriots Play of the Week
Options are slim for the Patriots offense. Cam Newton has looked horrible the last two weeks, Julian Edelman is expected to be sidelined multiple weeks, N’Keal Harry is dealing with a concussion, and so on. The Bills defense has given up plenty of fantasy points to tight ends, but New England has failed to involve their tight ends in the passing games so far this season. So, that leads us to Damien Harris. New England has been persistent on establishing the run this season and that most likely won't change this week with the weather forecast. Buffalo has allowed the eighth-most rushing yards to backs this season, so there should be room for Harris to run. A trip to the end zone would do wonders for his fantasy production, but he might be the best fantasy option for New England this week regardless.
That is all for this week’s preview. If you have any additional questions regarding your lineup, specific players, or strategies going forward leave a comment below or reach out on Twitter @iambrianhines. As always, I’m rooting for you.