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Steve Sanders/Kansas City Chiefs

Week 8 Fantasy: “Trick or Treat”

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Treat of the Week: Derek Carr (@ CLE)

Despite some injuries/adversity for Las Vegas, Carr is on pace for 4,603 yards and a 35:5 touchdown-interception ratio through six games, and he should be able to stay hot this week versus a Browns defense that he’s thrown for 359.7 yards per game against in three career matchups. Overall, Cleveland has been a hot-and-cold matchup for opposing quarterbacks this year (four games with 24.5+ fantasy points allowed; three games with fewer than 11.0 fantasy points allowed), and I don’t think they have the personnel to slow down Darren Waller, Henry Ruggs III, Nelson Agholor, and Hunter Renfrow.


Treat: Joe Burrow (v TEN)

Burrow was having a quiet stretch with one passing touchdown over his previous three games, but he exploded last week by throwing for 406 yards and three scores (plus another on the ground) in a shootout loss. The Bengals will have to put up points this week to keep up with Tennessee, so Burrow should at least be a borderline QB1 option at home, especially because the connection with A.J. Green continues to grow (15 receptions for 178 yards over the past two weeks).


Treat: Teddy Bridgewater (v ATL)

Atlanta has played better defensively since then, but Bridgewater had 313 yards and two scores against them on the road in Week 5, and the skill-position talent for Carolina—whether or not Christian McCaffrey (ankle) makes his return—should present problems on Thursday night. Also, it will be interesting to see how the morale of the Falcons will be impacted on a short week after finding another way to lose on Sunday. Fantasy owners can count on Bridgewater as a solid streamer.


Treat: Jimmy Garoppolo (@ SEA)

Not having Deebo Samuel (hamstring) will hurt, but the 49ers are finding their groove on offense, and Garoppolo should be in position to put up numbers against a Seattle defense that’s allowed an unbelievable 373.8 passing yards per game this year—including at least 360+ passing yards allowed in four of their six outings. The headlining weapons of George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk combined with Kyle Shanahan scheming others open should be enough for Jimmy G to be viewed as at least a quality QB2 option; I’d rather player him over listed “Tricks” like Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger in worse matchups.


Trick of the Week: Josh Allen (v NE)

I am often among the highest on Allen and still believe he is a QB1 option this week, but the Patriots obviously aren’t a great matchup, and Buffalo’s offense has been off over the past three weeks (17.0 points per game). In particular, John Brown playing at less than 100% or being out of the lineup makes the Bills easier to defend (that still might be the case despite a full practice today), so fantasy owners might need to rely on Allen to make more plays as a runner for him to pay dividends on Sunday. Being at home should help, but consider Allen a low-end QB1.


Trick: Drew Brees (@ CHI)

Although last year’s Saints-Bears matchup was a 36-25 victory for New Orleans with Teddy Bridgewater under center, Chicago’s defense is probably better than it was in 2019, and I’d expect them to play stout defense following a disappointing result on Monday night. Brees again being without both Michael Thomas (hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19) would significantly lower his ceiling, so the veteran signal-caller projects to be a low-end QB2 option with limited upside.


Trick: Ben Roethlisberger (@ BAL)

The weapons for the Pittsburgh offense gives Roethlisberger a more favorable outlook than Brees, but facing the Ravens—who are coming off their bye—on the road is about as tough as it gets, and turning the ball over like he did last week in Tennessee would be very costly. For the season, Big Ben is averaging a modest 241.0 passing yards per game, and I doubt this weekend’s matchup turns into a shootout like we’ve seen in some recent matchups prior to Roethlisberger missing the division rivalry in 2019.


Trick: Tua Tagovailoa (v LAR)

The immediate success of rookie quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert could lead to some taking a shot on Tagovailoa this week, but I’d advise waiting due to the matchup against a Rams defense that has allowed fewer than 12.0 fantasy points (and zero passing touchdowns) in three of their past four games. In general, I expect Miami will have more of a conservative game plan to make things easier on the No. 5 overall pick, so Tua is best viewed as a stash for easier matchups down the stretch when things are likely to open up.


Running back


Treat of the Week: Le’Veon Bell (v NYJ)

It appears the Kansas City backfield will quickly turn into an even split between Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Bell, but don’t be surprised if it actually goes beyond that for this week as the veteran heads into a revenge game against the Jets. Especially because the Chiefs are fully expected to handle New York, they could make it a point to feed Bell, and I’d bet that includes goal-line opportunities. I currently have Bell as my RB17 for this week, but even that may end up being too low.


Treat: Damien Harris (@ BUF)

New England’s offense is tough to trust right now, but the simple fix would seem to be keeping the ball on the ground—taking the pressure off both Cam Newton and the defense. Harris played a career-high 40% of the snaps last week despite a lopsided score, and it’s worth noting that Sony Michel has averaged 91.7 rushing yards per game in three matchups against the Bills over the past two years; we’ll see if Harris can have the same kind of success in the lead role. The second-year back is an optimistic RB2/FLEX for me.


Treat: Giovani Bernard (v TEN)

Bernard being a “Treat” is contingent on the health of Joe Mixon (foot), but assuming he draws another start, the 28-year-old should handle at least 15-18 touches, including the majority of work in the passing game (5/59/1 last week). Since the Bengals drafted Joe Mixon, Bernard has averaged 16.6 fantasy points per game in eight appearances with 15+ touches, and he’s had double-digit fantasy points in all of those outings. Keep him in lineups.


Treat: Melvin Gordon (v LAC)

Le’Veon Bell isn’t the only one with a revenge game this week, as Gordon will face the Chargers on Sunday, and he should be motivated to face his former team for the first time in what could end up being a divisional feud. The possible absence of Phillip Lindsay (concussion) boosts the outlook even further for Gordon—who has rushed for 175 yards and three touchdowns over his past two games. Most still have him as a low-end RB2, but I think fantasy owners can confidently use Gordon as a borderline RB1/RB2.


Trick of the Week: Devin Singletary (v NE)

I have mentioned John Brown as a key factor in Buffalo’s offensive struggles, but the coaching staff—at least in my opinion—hasn’t done a great job to overcome him being injured, and Singletary needs more than the ten touches he handled last week. When the Bills were rolling at 4-0 to start the year, their starter had averaged 16.5 touches per game, but that number has dropped to 11.0 per game in three weeks since then. Unless they’ve been holding him back for whatever reason, Singletary is unlikely to be unleashed in a difficult spot versus New England.


Trick: Carlos Hyde (v SF)

This week’s matchup against San Francisco was a big reason for Hyde not ranking too high in our waiver wire rankings, and he probably doesn’t have the upside or floor of plug-and-play options like Giovani Bernard and Boston Scott at the position. When you add in he may be less than 100% with a hamstring issue, Hyde carries too much risk to feel great about as a top-25 option on Sunday.


Trick: Ravens RBs (v PIT)

It sounds like Mark Ingram (ankle) is on the wrong side of questionable for this week, but I’m still hesitant about getting J.K. Dobbins and/or Gus Edwards in lineups, as Pittsburgh did about as well as anyone defending the versatile ground attack in 2019—limiting the running backs to 2.6 yards per carry on 26 attempts last October (the season finale was a meaningless game). As the last remaining undefeated team in football and with AFC North control on the line, the Steelers should come out ready to stop the run.


Trick: A.J. Dillon (v MIN)

Aaron Jones (calf) might miss one more game knowing how cautious Green Bay is with injuries, but hopefully fantasy owners didn’t buy into anyone saying Dillon might be the lead back over Jamaal Williams last week. The second-round pick rushed just five times for 11 yards, and he played nearly as many snaps on special teams (nine) as he did on offense (14); with Williams converting his short-yardage opportunities, Dillon will have a low floor and decreased touchdown potential in Week 8.


Wide receiver


Treat of the Week: Cooper Kupp (@ MIA)

The hot start for Kupp this year has really cooled off, but Miami provides a tremendous bounce back opportunity as a defense that is much better attacked inside than they are on the outside where Byron Jones and Xavien Howard reside. I’d say whoever the Dolphins put in the slot to defend Kupp will be an advantage for Los Angeles, so look for Sean McVay to craft a game plan that features play-action targets and misdirection to get the 27-year-old the ball in space. I have Kupp as a clear top-15 play this week.


Treat: Brandon Aiyuk (@ SEA)

I’ve already gone through the passing numbers allowed by Seattle’s secondary, and other than George Kittle, Aiyuk would seem to be the primary beneficiary in a potential shootout on Sunday. Plus, Deebo Samuel being out should lead to not only more targets for the rookie, but also more carries—which we saw earlier this year when he rushed four times for a combined 69 yards and two touchdowns in Week 3 and Week 4. Fantasy owners should get Aiyuk in lineups as an upside WR2 option.


Treat: Nelson Agholor (@ CLE)

Talent was never the issue for Agholor in Philadelphia, and the Raiders are getting the most out of the USC product by allowing the him to run more downfield routes—resulting in 19.5 yards per reception, 14.6 yards per target, and four touchdowns on just 20 targets. There will be quiet games because of how many options there are on Jon Gruden’s offense, but Agholor is worth weekly consideration as an upside FLEX, and Cleveland is short on shy-away cornerback matchups behind Denzel Ward.


Treat: CeeDee Lamb (@ PHI)

The Cowboys have one of a few offenses that appear borderline unusable heading into Week 8, but Lamb had at least five receptions and 59 yards in every game before last week’s forgettable loss, and I’d expect Ben DiNucci to view him as a security blanket out of the slot. That’s doubly true with Amari Cooper facing probable shadow coverage from Darius Slay, so Lamb has a definite chance to get back into low-end WR2 territory with the most favorable outlook for the Dallas passing attack.


Others: T.Y. Hilton (@ DET), Jarvis Landry (v LV)


Trick of the Week: Amari Cooper (@ PHI)

As stated, Cooper is expected to draw coverage from Darius Slay this week, and that was a nightmare for him last year when Philly’s top corner was in Detroit and limited him to three receptions for 38 scoreless yards on eight targets. Those numbers were actually an improvement from Cooper’s other career game versus Slay (four yards on four targets back in 2015), and I’d say the Eagles trading for the Pro Bowl corner had a lot to do with his success against the Cowboys’ top wideout. The floor is too low for Cooper to be considered a quality WR2 option.


Trick: DeVante Parker (v LAR)

Uncertainty can be scary for fantasy owners, and Parker not having live game reps with Tua Tagovailoa is another concern on top of already dealing with a groin injury and a matchup against Jalen Ramsey. The Rams using their star corner in a variety of ways rather than straight shadow coverage is a boost, but you might want to see how the Dolphins look this week before getting Parker back in lineups if you have other guys to play.


Trick: Darius Slayton (v TB)

For the same reasons I had Henry Ruggs III here last week, Slayton is a fade against Tampa Bay because the big plays will be less likely if New York’s offensive line doesn’t give Daniel Jones time to deliver the deep ball. Furthermore, the young corners of the Buccaneers have the size to present problems for Slayton—who has seen just four targets in each of the past two weeks. Sunday could be another quiet game for a wideout that has settled in as a volatile FLEX.


Trick: Chase Claypool (@ BAL)

While all the receivers for Pittsburgh could end up being a “Trick” this weekend, Claypool is the one I’m most worried about after he had negative-two yards on his only touch against Tennessee. I don’t think we can understate the lack of involvement last week because it was a huge AFC matchup, and the same is true this week, so it’s unlikely Big Ben will suddenly favor the rookie over JuJu Smith-Schuster and/or Diontae Johnson. Other than the four-touchdown performance against the Eagles, Claypool has seen just 14 targets in five games.


Others: Jets WRs (@ KC)


Tight end


Treat of the Week: Jonnu Smith (@ CIN)

Smith having just two receptions for 22 scoreless yards over the past two weeks has caused fantasy owners to look at other options, but Tennessee’s tight end left early with an ankle injury two weeks ago, and he didn’t have his normal receiving role last week because of Pittsburgh’s pass rush. Sunday should be a return to normalcy against a Cincinnati defense that has allowed six touchdowns to opposing tight ends over the past three weeks, so I have Smith as a top-five play for Week 8.


Treat: Mike Gesicki (v LAR)

Gesicki said this week that he already has chemistry with Tua Tagovailoa because they have worked together on the scout team this year, and that’s certainly notable with the rookie passer wanting to get rid of the ball to avoid taking hits from Aaron Donald on Sunday. The athletic tight end was dropped in a lot of leagues recently, but fantasy owners should look into not only picking him up, but also starting him against a Los Angeles defense that has allowed a 16/200/1 line to opposing tight ends over the past two games.


Treat: Richard Rodgers (v DAL)

I thought we might have seen more of a committee approach for Philly’s tight ends last week, but Rodgers dominated in targets (eight), receptions (six), yards (85), and playing time (85%), so that will continue on Sunday night unless Dallas Goedert (ankle) makes a surprising return. Weaknesses against other positions might overshadow it, but the Cowboys have also struggled to defend tight ends with 66+ yards and a touchdown allowed in four-of-seven games.


Trick of the Week: Mark Andrews (v PIT)

Andrews falls into the category of a star player that you probably need to keep in lineups, but the Steelers have held him in check with ten receptions for 107 scoreless yards in three career matchups, so those with another strong option at least have something to think about. He could easily get loose for a score to return top-five value, but I’d say Pittsburgh is too smart to let Andrews consistently beat them.


Trick: T.J. Hockenson (v IND)

The Colts are allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, and now they are expected to get All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard back in the lineup following the bye. Hockenson is close to Mark Andrews territory as a player you don’t want to bench with a touchdown in three straight games, but he’s averaged just 28.3 yards over that span and falls outside the top five at the position for me.


Trick: Anyone who wrote off Rob Gronkowski

(And Tom Brady)



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