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Week 8 Fantasy: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

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Thumbs Up of the Week: Dak Prescott (v LAR)

Quarterback continues to be in not-so-great shape outside of the top options, so Prescott is someone to immediately get back in lineups coming off a bye week, and I still have hopes that Dallas will eventually breakthrough (currently 222.2 passing yards per game for their quarterback). Despite the Rams allowing an NFL-low four passing touchdowns this year, Sunday feels like a possible explosion spot where the playmakers of the Cowboys prove too much to handle if Dak is given time.


Thumbs Up: C.J. Stroud (@ CAR)

The Texans have exceeded expectations this season with a 3-3 record, and Stroud has gone for 20.6+ fantasy points in half of the games to begin his career. Now, the No. 2 overall pick will take on a Carolina defense allowing the sixth-most passing yards per attempt in the league, and Houston will have had two weeks to prepare for how to exploit them. Even with all 32 teams in action, Stroud cracks the top 12 at quarterback.


Thumbs Up: Russell Wilson (v KC)

This is a risky recommendation with Wilson being limited to 95 passing yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions a couple of weeks ago, but playing against the Chiefs in primetime—particularly at Arrowhead—is very tough. The rematch should be more favorable for Denver at home, and the maniacal Sean Payton surely has some ideas on how to move the ball more effectively this weekend. Just keep an eye on the weather with freezing temperatures and possible snow in the forecast.


Thumbs Up: Jimmy Garoppolo (@ DET)

The Raiders have struggled mightily in two games without Garoppolo this season, and the hot start for Davante Adams has cooled off considerably over the past few games. That said, Detroit was torched by Lamar Jackson for 357 yards and three touchdowns last week, and I don’t have high hopes that their cornerback group will be able to slow down Adams on Monday night. Because of that, Jimmy G can be a solid QB2 play with other weapons for Las Vegas capable of doing damage as well.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Geno Smith (v CLE)

Seattle picked up a win over Arizona in Week 7, but Smith had another somewhat shaky outing, and he might not get on track versus a Cleveland defense that’s allowed the fewest passing yards per game in the league (149.2). At home, I would expect the Seahawks to again play through Kenneth Walker III (26 carries compared to 24 pass attempts for Smith last week), and their defense should be able to prevent a high-scoring game versus PJ Walker.


Thumbs Down: Jordan Love (v MIN)

Whether it was insights from Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell (about the Green Bay system) or something else, Minnesota was able to contain Aaron Rodgers in both matchups last season with 177.0 passing yards per game and a 1:1 touchdown-interception ratio in two matchups, and the defense of the Vikings continues to improve under Brian Flores this year. Based on the struggles of Love, the low floor might not be worth taking a chance on this week.


Thumbs Down: Sam Howell (v PHI)

Howell’s best game of his young career was probably the overtime loss to Philadelphia earlier this month, but he continues to absorb sacks at an alarming rate, and frustration is building for the players and coaches in Washington. A letdown for the Eagles is unlikely having been pushed to the limit in the first meeting, and All-Pro safety Kevin Byard being added to stabilize the backend should elevate the cornerbacks, too. Howell falls outside the top 20 for Week 8.


Thumbs Down: Baker Mayfield (@ BUF)

For all their injury issues, Buffalo still has a stingy pass defense under Sean McDermott (6:8 touchdown-interception ratio allowed), and the pass rush ranks second in the league with 25 sacks. Mayfield might be reaching the end of the honeymoon phase with three disappointments over the past four weeks, so the pressure will be on for a quick turnaround against a Bills team that is coming off a disappointing loss and hoping to keep pace with the Chiefs in the AFC. There are other streamers I’d rather go with.


Running back


Thumbs Up of the Week: Jahmyr Gibbs (v LV)

It feels like David Montgomery (ribs) will be held out on Monday night with Detroit having a Week 9 bye—which puts Gibbs in line for another start after he impressed with 126 total yards and a score on 20 touches as the lone bright spot of the loss to Baltimore. The Raiders did not tackle well at all last week, and the same kind of effort could lead to a monster night for the explosive rookie. Consider him a must-start, top-five option the night before Halloween.


Thumbs Up: Javonte Williams (v KC)

There were signs of Williams emerging back in September when he was breaking a bunch of tackles in the 50-point loss to Miami, and the past two games have been very encouraging with 25 carries for 134 yards (5.4 YPC), including a season-high 53% of the snaps played in last week’s win over Green Bay. Again, there might be snowfall in Denver on Sunday, and Williams needs to be featured against a Kansas City defense allowing a healthy 4.6 yards per carry.


Thumbs Up: Alexander Mattison (@ GB)

From a long-term perspective, Mattison is someone I would recommend trading if possible, as Cam Akers—as mentioned on the Monday Night Football broadcast and shown by him handling the late-game carries—could soon be the lead back. However, Mattison is at least the top option for now, and the Packers have the third-worst run defense in the league. I would hope for a quality game in Week 8 and then look into a possible trade.


Thumbs Up: Devin Singletary (@ CAR)

Before the bye, Singletary led the Houston backfield with 58 rushing yards on 12 attempts, and he was brought up in the same breath as Dameon Pierce when head coach DeMeco Ryans discussed the running game. Even with them already having a bye, Carolina has allowed an NFL-high 12 rushing touchdowns this season, so you could do worse than Singletary as the 1B option for a capable offense heading into a cupcake matchup.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Brian Robinson Jr. (v PHI)

The Commanders have unfortunately declined to feature Robinson with a combined 24 carries over the past three games, and a limited workload for a matchup against the league’s best run defense isn’t a recipe for fantasy success. Basically, you might need a touchdown out of Robinson to pay off as strong start, and it’s concerning that rookie Chris Rodriguez Jr. saw his first carry last week on the second drive of the game.


Thumbs Down: James Cook (v TB)

Outside of a disappointment against the Jaguars in London, Cook has been very steady this season—going for yardage totals of 63, 159, 112, 77, 71, and 102. The Bills haven’t played up to expectations since their win over Miami, though, and we could get more Josh Allen to get the group back on track. Facing a very good Tampa Bay run defense, Cook is more of a low-end RB2 option that will ideally see involvement in the passing game after a 3/46/1 receiving line in Week 7.


Thumbs Down: Emari Demercado (v BAL)

Demercado has gone from the clear James Conner replacement to the No. 3 running back to the starter over the past three games, so what might this weekend bring in terms of role? I would say the rookie showed enough to keep the lead job, but Baltimore isn’t a good matchup with the run defense likely to stabilize after matchups versus Derrick Henry and Jahmyr Gibbs. Demercado should be viewed as a decent FLEX that needs volume to keep him afloat.


Thumbs Down: Tyler Allgeier (@ TEN)

Bijan Robinson only seeing one touch last week due to a headache allowed Allgeier to shine in a difficult matchup, but he averaged 2.8 yards per carry on 21 attempts and was largely boosted by 53 receiving yards—which isn’t something to count on continuing if Bijan is back to being himself. If he doesn’t find the end zone (and he hasn’t since the opener), Allgeier could disappoint with the Titans allowing just 3.6 yards per carry on the year.


Wide receiver


Thumbs Up of the Week: DeVonta Smith (@ WAS)

Smith hasn’t scored since September 14 and has only one game with 50+ yards since then, so patience has understandably worn thin for many fantasy owners. However, the Eagles seemed to try getting him involved early last Sunday night, and the talent level should result in a breakout soon—perhaps this week if Washington pours more resources into stopping A.J. Brown (9/175/2 in the first matchup) and leaves Smith in single coverage. I’d roll with him as a low-end WR1 play.


Thumbs Up: Zay Flowers (@ ARI)

Flowers has settled in as a very consistent option for Baltimore with 50+ total yards in every game to begin his career, and he had a couple of huge gains last week (46 yards and 22 yards). The thing holding him back is how much the Ravens spread the ball around, but Sunday could be a spot where Flowers goes off with Ja’Marr Chase (15/192/3), Cooper Kupp (7/148/1), and Jaxon Smith-Njigba (4/63/1) doing heavy damage from the slot against the Cardinals in recent weeks. We have the rookie way up into the top 15 at the position for Week 8.


Thumbs Up: Joshua Palmer (v CHI)

Including the game where Mike Williams (knee) went down, Palmer has gone for lines of 4/66/1, 3/77, 4/60, and 5/133 since the injury—stepping up in a big way as the clear No. 2 wideout for Los Angeles. This week, he’ll take on a Chicago defense allowing the fourth-most passing yards per game (257.1) and second-most touchdown passes (14) in the league, so fantasy owners can continue rolling with him as an upside FLEX with chunk-play potential.


Thumbs Up: Romeo Doubs (v MIN)

This is more of a “feel” recommendation, as Doubs flashed his talent last week with a contested touchdown grab over top cornerback Patrick Surtain II, and a combined nine targeted over the past two games hasn’t been enough for the second-year wideout. Before that, Green Bay’s offense was in better shape playing through Doubs with 25 targets in the previous two games, and there will be one-on-one opportunities as Minnesota brings pressure. I like him as a low-end WR2/FLEX option the rest of the way.


Others: Calvin Ridley (@ PIT), Gabe Davis (v TB)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Christian Kirk (@ PIT)

Kirk paid off last week as a recommended start with a 6/90/1 line last Thursday night, but he is downgraded towards the bottom of the top 30 with Pittsburgh being a matchup that might set up more favorably for Calvin Ridley to lead the way. Just last week, we saw Cooper Kupp erased by the Steelers with two receptions for 29 scoreless yards, so Kirk is more of a FLEX than WR2, and you could even think about benching him if you have options.


Thumbs Down: DeAndre Hopkins (v ATL)

Mike Vrabel has said that both Malik Willis and rookie Will Levis will play this week if Ryan Tannehill (ankle) can’t go, but a two-quarterback system might not exactly increase the chances of success for Hopkins—who was held to one reception (on five targets) for 20 yards in the loss to Baltimore prior to the bye. Although A.J. Terrell was beat by Mike Evans for a touchdown last week, Atlanta’s top cornerback might be able to shutdown Hopkins for what projects to be a very run-heavy approach by Tennessee.


Thumbs Down: Courtland Sutton (v KC)

Five touchdowns in seven games have been a massive boost to Sutton’s fantasy value, and he could easily find the end zone again versus Kansas City after a highlight score at Arrowhead in Week 6. However, the SMU product has been limited to 3.5 receptions and 40.5 yards per game over the past four weeks, and he might fail to return dividends against the Chiefs if he doesn’t hit paydirt. Sutton is probably best viewed as a touchdown-dependent FLEX.


Thumbs Down: Jakobi Meyers (@ DET)

Meyers has been excellent this season, including remarkable consistency with 12.0+ fantasy points in five of his six appearances as a Raider. But as alluded to earlier, I get the feeling that Davante Adams won’t be stopped by Detroit’s cornerback group, and Meyers might be slightly overvalued by some putting him as high as the low-end WR1 ranks. In general, I think Meyers will settle in as more of a low-end WR2/FLEX play if/when Adams re-emerges.


Others: Michael Thomas (@ IND), Jahan Dotson (v PHI)


Tight end


Thumbs Up of the Week: Dalton Kincaid (v TB)

Buffalo seemed to prioritize getting Kincaid involved last week against the Patriots, and he came through with eight receptions (on eight targets) for 75 yards. The highly talented rookie will now be a full-time player with Dawson Knox (wrist) out, so those holding him should have the confidence to start Kincaid as a clear TE1 play that I believe will score his first career touchdown on Thursday night.


Thumbs Up: Jake Ferguson (v LAR)

Prior to Week 7 when the Steelers were without Pat Freiermuth (hamstring), the Rams had allowed 19.9 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends across the three previous games—so Ferguson is set up nicely to do damage coming out of the bye. Unlike last year when the Dallas defense dominated in a 22-10 victory with Cooper Rush under center, Rams-Cowboys could be high scoring to get Ferguson out of a slump (43 scoreless yards over the past two games).


Thumbs Up: David Njoku (@ SEA)

Njoku is coming off his best game of the year with five receptions (on nine targets) for 54 yards, and the growing confidence of PJ Walker should lead to some better results in the future. This week, I like how things set up for Njoku with Seattle’s success defending tight ends (fifth-fewest fantasy points allowed) being misleading based on the schedule, and he’s at least a high-end TE2 play.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Tyler Higbee (@ DAL)

In three weeks since Cooper Kupp’s return, Higbee has seen his role scaled back dramatically—resulting in just 7.0 total fantasy points and not going over 20 yards in a game. Maybe the possibility of a shootout will allow Higbee to have a big game, but that’s not something I would count on, so he barely cracks the top 24 for Week 8.


Thumbs Down: Cole Kmet (@ LAC)

Justin Fields and Kmet have shown very strong chemistry at times (including in the red zone), but Tyson Bagent didn’t even target Chicago’s tight end last week, and the situation might simply be one to avoid for now. The last rookie quarterback to face Los Angeles didn’t fare well (Aidan O’Connell was sacked seven times), and Kmet has been quiet in 2023 outside of a five-day stretch to begin October.


Thumbs Down: Hayden Hurst (v HOU)

Carolina’s passing attack could look different coming out of the bye with offensive coordinator Thomas Brown taking over as the play-caller, but I don’t get the feeling that Hurst—with exactly three targets in every game other than the opener—will suddenly be featured. Instead, Adam Thielen will likely remain the focal point with rookie Jonathan Mingo perhaps being more of a priority, too.