Thumbs Up of the Week: Jared Goff (v GB)
Since going off for 465 yards and five touchdowns against the Vikings to close out September, Jared Goff has been held in check with just 241 yards per game and a 3:3 touchdown-interception ratio in October. Do not fear playing him this weekend, though, as he’s been impacted by a couple misfortunate bounces, Todd Gurley goal-line scores, and defensive dominance at times, but Goff should be back to airing it out against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers for a potential—if not probable—shootout. The 24-year-old is my No. 3 quarterback for Week 8.
Thumbs Up: Deshaun Watson (v MIA)
As expected, Deshaun Watson’s otherworldly touchdown percentage from last season (9.3%) has crashed back to earth (4.1%, 24th in the league), but I think he could have a big night to kick off the week despite two sub-par performances in a row. We saw a glimpse of Watson’s fantasy potential this year with a four-game stretch in which he averaged 24.5 fantasy points per game, so hopefully he can get back on track against a Miami defense that isn’t on the same level as Buffalo or Jacksonville from his previous two outings. Consider the Clemson product a backend QB1 that some people might be viewing as a QB2.
Thumbs Up: Joe Flacco (@ CAR)
The presence of Lamar Jackson is a concern for Joe Flacco, especially when the Ravens get in scoring territory, but the former Super Bowl MVP is still on pace for a career-high 4,725 passing yards and a 25:9 touchdown-interception ratio this season, and he showed he’s still as poised as it gets in clutch situations with last week’s late touchdown pass to John Brown. In a 2014 matchup against Ron Rivera’s defense, Flacco threw for 327 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions as the Ravens won, 38-10, and Baltimore’s weapons are as good as ever facing a Carolina secondary that’s allowed multiple scores through the air in each of the past five games.
Thumbs Up: Derek Carr (v IND)
Playing Derek Carr this week isn’t for the faint of heart, as Oakland seems to be on the verge of complete collapse—and I believe it’s due to players buying into the “Twitter hype” of media reports, not because of Jon Gruden building the team how he sees fit. If you are comfortable with the risk, Indianapolis has been average against opposing fantasy quarterbacks in general, but they’ve had a fairly easy schedule so far (Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson averaged 29.0 points against them). We saw in the opener what Gruden could do when he has time to prepare a game plan, and he should be ready to attack the Colts coming out of the bye, making Carr a quality QB2 option.
Others: Baker Mayfield (@ PIT), Alex Smith (@ NYG)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Carson Wentz (@ JAX)
Benching a guy with a 10:1 touchdown interception ratio that’s coming off perhaps the most accurate passing day of his career could come back to haunt fantasy owners, but Carson Wentz is going across the pond where anything can happen to face an elite Jacksonville secondary. And to make matters worse, the Jaguars are a) comfortable playing in London, and b) due for a bounce back after three straight losses in which they’ve allowed 30.0 points per game. Quarterback isn’t as strong this week with Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers on a bye, but I’d still strongly consider replacing Wentz for owners that need a victory. Similar to Watson against the Jags in Week 7 when he had just ten fantasy points, Wentz is a low-end QB2 for me.
Thumbs Down: Jameis Winston (@ CIN)
As I’ll basically say every week that I have Jameis Winston here, the former No. 1 overall pick carries a ton of upside and looks like a backend QB1 the rest of the way, but I simply don’t trust him enough to use or recommend in fantasy lineups. While Winston has thrown for at least 365 yards in both of his starts this season, he’s also tossed four awful interceptions, including one in his own territory last week in overtime that should have led to a loss. Let someone else hold their breath against a Cincinnati defense that’s much better at home (14.3 fantasy points per game allowed) than on the road (26.8 fantasy points per game allowed).
Thumbs Down: Case Keenum (@ KC)
Yes, the Broncos are coming off their best win of the season and have a mini bye week to prepare for a make-or-break divisional game, and it’s also worth noting that Case Keenum won’t be looking over his shoulder anymore following Chad Kelly’s release for a trespassing arrest at Von Miller’s annual Halloween party. Still, I actually have a lot of faith in Kansas City’s defense turning things around under Bob Sutton—they just held the Bengals to 10 points last week—and the unit has been stingy at home with a 4:5 touchdown-interception ratio allowed. Keenum is a shaky QB2 option in a hostile environment.
Thumbs Down: Blake Bortles (v PHI)
It’s hopefully a very small percentage, but I already know people out there will play Blake Bortles based on his London statistics over the past three years (3-0 record, 8:1 touchdown-interception ratio), and that’s just asking for a catastrophic result. Jacksonville’s starter is on very thin ice after being benched last week, and fantasy owners will be angry at themselves for rolling with him if he gets benched again, which is a very real possibility after Cody Kessler played well last Sunday. Bortles could end up throwing four touchdowns, but it’s simply not worth the risk at a deep position.
Others: Eli Manning (v WAS), Josh Rosen (v SF)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Marlon Mack (@ OAK)
Injuries to Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Jay Ajayi, and other big-name running backs have been a nightmare for fantasy owners, but Marlon Mack is one of the headliners in a crop of emerging stars that need to be rostered in all formats. Last week, Mack totaled 159 yards and two touchdowns on 21 touches, and Colts owner Jim Irsay talking him up during the offseason as a 1,500-yard back doesn’t sound unrealistic now that we’ve seen him average 6.9 yards per carry over the past two weeks. The 22-year-old is an easy top-15 play against an Oakland defense that might come out flat off the bye at 1-5.
Thumbs Up: Adrian Peterson (@ NYG)
“All Day” isn’t the unstoppable runaway train that he was in his prime, but he’s rushed for at least 96 yards in four-of-six games to start his Redskins career, and the offense will continue going through Peterson for as long as he stays healthy. This week, he faces a one-win New York team that just traded two starting defenders, including star nose tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison (a perfect nickname for Halloween), so the future Hall of Famer should be in all lineups as a high-end RB2. Also, while we’re on the topic of nicknames, everyone please stop calling Peterson “AP” instead of “AD”.
Thumbs Up: Doug Martin (v IND)
I know PPR leagues are getting excited about Jalen Richard (and he definitely gets a boost with Marshawn Lynch on IR), but Doug Martin is going to be the featured back according to Jon Gruden, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. The former First-Team All-Pro runner has looked good on limited opportunities this year, and “Chucky” doesn’t really have another early-down option on the roster, setting up Martin for a potential 18-20 carry workload against a defense that’s allowed 80+ rushing yards in all but one game this season. Pick him up in all formats as a low-end RB2 down the stretch.
Thumbs Up: Ty Montgomery (@ LAR)
I’ve been on the Ty Montgomery bandwagon since he first made the transition to running back, but he’s yet to see more than five carries or ten touches in a game this season. However, that could change this weekend in a potential shootout with the Rams, as Green Bay will need to throw early and often to keep up with the dangerous Los Angeles offense, and Montgomery is the most dynamic—and I would argue reliable—option for Aaron Rodgers. No. 88 should be a solid FLEX option in PPR leagues, and standard leagues in a bind shouldn’t hesitate to use him either.
Others: Phillip Lindsay (@ KC), Kenjon Barner (@ BUF)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Royce Freeman (@ KC)
If Royce Freeman (ankle) is out for Week 8, this is obviously a moot point, but I’d avoid the rookie at less than 100% for an offense that already limits his touches. Particularly against a Kansas City team that could jump on opponents early at the intimidating confines of Arrowhead Stadium (look at Joe Mixon last week in what appeared to be a home-run spot), Freeman is nothing more than a touchdown-dependent FLEX option despite rushing eight times for 67 yards and a score versus the Chiefs at the start of the month.
Thumbs Down: Corey Clement (@ JAX)
I am always wary of teams potentially sleepwalking for a London trip, but as stated, the Jaguars are used to it with three wins over their past three outings. On the other hand, Philadelphia has never played overseas, so the unpredictability should force fantasy owners to fade Corey Clement outside the top 30 at the position as he continues to split work with Wendell Smallwood; I’d be surprised if Jacksonville doesn’t come ready to play after allowing 124+ rushing yards in each of their past two games.
Thumbs Down: Isaiah Crowell (@ CHI)
There’s simply no telling what fantasy owners will get from Isaiah Crowell in any given week, as he’s combined for 321 rushing yards in two standout performances, but has been held to 40 or fewer yards in each of his other five games. The Bears have been stung by slashers Kenyan Drake and James White since the bye, but back at Soldier Field, I expect a much better showing for a defense that’s loaded up front. Even with Bilal Powell (neck) on IR, Crowell only gets a slight increase in value for me as a volatile FLEX.
Thumbs Down: T.J. Yeldon (v PHI)
In Week 7, Carlos Hyde sounded close to suiting up just a couple days after getting traded to the Jaguars, so I’m assuming the team feels comfortable with where he is and won’t waste time getting him touches after trading a fifth-round pick for the veteran’s services. Because it’s been reported that Leonard Fournette (hamstring) is targeting after the bye for a return, you’d think Jacksonville will feed Hyde in a huge matchup against the Eagles before hopefully getting their offensive centerpiece back in November. We probably won’t know the exact workload until Sunday morning, but I wouldn’t count on T.J. Yeldon to make a sizeable impact in a low-scoring affair.
Others: Wendell Smallwood (@ JAX), Jamaal Williams (@ LAR)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Jordy Nelson (v IND)
Week 8 has some fantasy zombies, but don’t let Jordy Nelson’s age (33) fool you. The most underrated receiver of his generation, Nelson is more than capable of operating as the No. 1 option in Jon Gruden’s offense, and he gets a good opportunity to prove it against the Colts, who just allowed Kelvin Benjamin to come alive for 71 yards on five targets. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Jordy is creating more average separation than Julio Jones, Brandin Cooks, and T.Y. Hilton (among many others) this year, and I think he’s a top-25 play the rest of the way, including this week.
Thumbs Up: Sammy Watkins (v DEN)
Tyreek Hill strikes fear in opponents every time he steps foot on the field, but Sammy Watkins is quietly a terror in his own right with the ball in his hands, and it’s only a matter of time before it’s his turn to dominate for an entire game. Besides being at home, I think part of the reason the Broncos were able to contain Kansas City’s offense in Week 4 was the fact that Watkins left with a hamstring injury, so it’ll be fun to see what Andy Reid schemes up for the 25-year-old in some one-on-one matchups this weekend.
Thumbs Up: Randall Cobb (@ LAR)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling and the other rookie wideouts have made some plays for Green Bay since Randall Cobb went down in September, but I would be shocked if the veteran isn’t back in the lineup and close to a full-time player with the Packers heading into a couple huge matchups against the Rams and Pats. I know people want to talk as if Cobb is a shell of his former self, but don’t be so quick to forget that he had a 9/142/1 line in the opener, and the first-year wideouts continue to make rookie mistakes. Also, before overwhelming San Francisco last week, Los Angeles had allowed an eye-popping 34.5 fantasy points per game to opposing receivers over their previous four outings.
Thumbs Up: DeVante Parker (@ HOU)
The former Louisville star not yet living up to his potential as a 2015 first-round pick has been disappointing, but injuries could give him a second life just a week after his agent called out head coach Adam Gase for not playing his client. Parker has all the tools to be a difference-maker, so we’ll see if he can rebuild his value in a potential showcase game ahead of next Tuesday’s trade deadline. For what it’s worth, Houston doesn’t have great size in the secondary, which could lead to some downfield opportunities for Parker, who is a recommended flier in deeper leagues.
Others: Julian Edelman (@ BUF), Christian Kirk (v SF)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Alshon Jeffery (@ JAX)
Alshon Jeffery has been a target hog since making his season debut in Week 4, but a matchup with Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye gives fantasy owners pause this Sunday. The six-foot-three receiver’s lone game for without 74+ yards and at least one touchdown came against Xaiver Rhodes (two receptions for 39 yards), and he could struggle with the formidable size on the perimeter again. Plus, Carson Wentz might not lock onto Jeffery quite as much after he clearly made a mistake forcing it to him in double coverage last week on the game’s final drive. Alshon remains a top-30 option, but I think he needs a score to feel good about playing him.
Thumbs Down: Josh Gordon (@ BUF)
No one seems to realize it, but Tre’Davious White has been a true shutdown corner since entering the league, and he’s set to do battle with Josh Gordon on Monday night. Not only is New England’s new receiver is the most ideal shadow candidate, but he will also mostly line up (right side of the formation) across from White (left cornerback) if the LSU product doesn’t follow anyone. Gordon is tough to bench with Tom Brady throwing passes, but if there was ever a time to look elsewhere, this is it. Consider Gordon a high-upside FLEX.
Thumbs Down: Devin Funchess (v BAL)
Overall, Devin Funchess is flying under the radar as a consistent, low-end WR2/FLEX option that has yet to be held below 41 yards in a game, but he’s firmly on the latter side this week with the unforgiving Baltimore secondary coming to town. Funchess has the size to make plays against anyone, but physical cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey should be able to make Cam Newton look elsewhere in an intimidating matchup as he looks to take care of the football and improve to 5-2. Funchess remains an excellent buy-low target.
Thumbs Down: DeSean Jackson (@ CIN)
A rushing touchdown saved him in Week 7, but DeSean Jackson played just 45% of the team’s offensive snaps, as he was clearly behind Mike Evans (86%), Chris Godwin (69%), and Adam Humphries (60%) in Jameis Winston’s second start of the year. Jackson and his 22.9-yard-per-reception average is heavily reliant on the deep ball, and being a part-time player adds too much volatility to the veteran’s fantasy stock. I’d avoid him against a Cincinnati defense that hasn’t allowed a pass of more than 50 yards all season.
Others: Robby Anderson (@ CHI), Marquise Goodwin (@ ARI)
Thumbs Up of the Week: David Njoku (@ PIT)
Fantasy owners might as well keep rolling with David Njoku after he extended his hot stretch with Baker Mayfield under center (5/52, 6/69, 7/55/1, 4/52/1), as the Steelers have allowed the third most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. As I said last week, Njoku needs to be picked up wherever he’s available, and it’s not crazy to consider him for your FLEX spot.
Thumbs Up: Vance McDonald (v CLE)
Vance McDonald was injured for the opener and didn’t get to take advantage of a matchup with the Browns, but Jesse James had three receptions for 60 yards in a sloppy game, and I think the monster tight end will be a big-time factor over the middle and down the seam as Pittsburgh looks to make up for their Week 1 tie. The 28-year-old is the top streaming option for Week 8.
Thumbs Up: Chris Herndon (@ CHI)
I really liked New York’s selection of Chris Herndon in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and we’ve seen his potential with a score in each of the past two games. It’s asking a lot of a rookie to become a reliable contributor at the position, but Herndon is tough in traffic and can look like a running back at times in the open field. He’s on the TE2 map.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Evan Engram (v WAS)
Last week, I advised waiting to put Evan Engram back in lineups for a week, but now I’m thinking that we should see some production before playing the Ole Miss product. Besides the New York offense being a mess, the Redskins are in the top ten in fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends.
Thumbs Down: Kyle Rudolph (v NO)
It looked like Kyle Rudolph was in store for a great season after Minnesota threw the ball on seemingly every play in September, but since then, a more balanced offense had led to three quiet weeks for the veteran. New Orleans is allowed the second fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, so Rudolph doesn’t crack the top 12 for Week 8.
Thumbs Down: Cameron Brate (@ CIN)
O.J. Howard is reaching his potential with 54+ yards in every healthy game this season, so Cameron Brate has taken a backseat as nothing more than a touchdown-dependent TE2. The Bengals have allowed a combined 20/241/1 line to the position over the past two weeks, but Tampa Bay has too many weapons to count on the Harvard grad.