My claim to fame is winning my $100 dollar money league fantasy football championship against nine other guys over the age of 45 the semester before I started college. I used my $232 dollars of earnings to buy all my college textbooks that semester.
This is my 13th season playing fantasy, and if you’re like me, you over obsess over who you should start each week. Do I know everything there is to know about the players you should start? Absolutely not. But, I know enough that many people throughout the week come asking me for advice, and follow it.
Now, while I’ll still be reading Jamey Eisenberg’s “Start Em, Sit Em” every week, probably more than once, I was talked into making my own predictions and giving it a shot.
I’ll do my best to keep to just three starts, three sits, one sleeper and one bust alert per position weekly (aside from kickers and defensive units), unless the matchup is just too good. My predictions will be based off of 10 team, No PPR leagues. But let’s be honest, if a receiver has a top-ten matchup, they’re going to be catching balls anyway. Might as well still read whether this is your exact set up or not.
Here are my top three starters by offensive position for week eight:
1) Russell Wilson, Seattle @ Atlanta
Atlanta’s defense scares no one and can stop no one. Wilson has 34 or more points in standard leagues in four of seven games this season. Wilson and the Seahawks felt the effects of tight end Will Dissly’s absence as he’s on season-ending IR last week. However, this game is against a less scary bird in the Falcons and not the Ravens, so the Seahawks won’t need a blocking TE on as many plays. Additionally, guys like WRs Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf should have an easier time getting open against the poor secondary. With QB Matt Ryan likely out, Atlanta’s defense will be on the field more anyway, only helping Seattle. Atlanta gives up 274 yards through the air on average and has just two interceptions, but 17 touchdowns on the year. Coming into this week, Wilson is also the first ranked fantasy QB (CBSSports).
2) Matthew Stafford, Detroit vs New York Giants
The Lions just lost RB Kerryon Johnson for the year and although his carries will be split between Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic, it’s likely Detroit will shift more of its game plan through the air, at least for the foreseeable future. The Giants give up on average 257 yards through the air, even after they got demolished by the Cardinals on the ground last week. This sets up Stafford for another successful outing, especially favoring more passes in the red zone that the Lions will be able to enter against the Giants.
3) Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville vs New York Jets
The Jets are coming off a short week after playing on Monday night and their defense was clearly in shambles. They also have defensive guys fighting season-ending surgery and the two sides not being on the same page. Jacksonville is at home in what I feel is a must-win game. Minshew had roughly five points at halftime last week against the Bengals and I was hurting with my decision to start him, but he eventually managed 255 passing yards, 48 rushing yards and a score to pull away and get his third win of the season. The Jets give up 260 passing yards on average, that is right in Minshew’s wheelhouse. Minshew has also been able to move the ball around to a handful of targets, and against a weakened Jets secondary, he should be able to do it again.
1) Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers @ Chicago
The Chargers are making a play at having the worst offensive line in football. It was embarrassing that they lost last week to the Titans and if the Chargers fall to 2-6 they’ll likely have to win out to have a hope at a playoff spot at 10-6. However, playing a stacked Bears’ defense, even with a struggling Chicago offense, will likely result in a loss no matter what they do at practice. I expect Chicago to blitz, apply pressure and make it miserable on the time Rivers has to throw. Rivers isn’t a very mobile QB and he commits turnovers easily under pressure. Unless LA figured out a new game plan and have new birth in OL, Rivers is doomed.
2) Carson Wentz, Philadelphia @ Buffalo
Miami’s Ryan FItzpatrick might have shed a little light into how to beat the Bills, as he lead a 26-minute, two TD lead against them last week. However, Miami doesn’t run the ball so Buffalo was gassed. That’s not the case with Philadelphia. However, the Eagles’ wide receiver situation is left to be desired. DeSean Jackson will likely still be out with an abdomen injury, Alshon Jeffery is getting the targets but not producing, and Nelson Agholor has just seven catches in the last three games. TE Zach Ertz is also being shut down by all teams and limiting the options in the passing game. Buffalo is stingy with defense anyway, so there are too many factors working against Wentz.
3) Baker Mayfield, Cleveland @ New England
The Patriot defense is making up for the slack from its banged up offense. They rank second in both passing and rushing defense, just behind San Francisco and Tampa Bay respectively. Mayfield has been cleared of his hip injury and was able to practice fully even mid-week on Wednesday. He shouldn’t carry an injury designation into the game, but he has yet to throw for more than one passing TD in any game this season. He has a 5:11 TD:INT ratio, and I’d expect more INT’s than TD’s this week against a ravaging New England defense. The Patriots have 18 interceptions on the season and eight in their last three games.
Sleeper: Josh Allen, Buffalo vs Philadelphia
Allen has at least two total TDs in five of six games this season and has thrown for more than 200 yards in that same span. Philadelphia has shown how vulnerable its defense can be. I’m wary about Allen’s receiving core, but I think if running backs Frank Gore and Devin Singletary can make themselves as more successful passing options Allen could have a field day. The Eagles are currently 27th in the NFL in pass defense, giving up roughly 271 yards per game along with 14 scores on the season.
Bust Alert: Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee vs Tampa Bay
No Titans fans, Tannehill is not the answer to your mediocrity problems. Tennessee probably surprised a lot of people with its win against the Chargers last week with Tannehill leading the way. He went 23-for-29 with 312 yards, two TDs and one INT at home. Although he did utilize wide receiver Corey Brown decently, his wideouts still worry me. This game could be a shootout, but we may also see a low scoring game based on the history of Jameis Winston’s poor play and how the Titans defense can flourish.
1) Ty Johnson, Detroit vs New York Giants
Yes, I’m going with him right out of the gate. Hopefully you were quick to the draw when you got the update hearing Kerryon Johnson was headed to IR. T. Johnson reminds me of how I felt in week two last year when I put in a waiver move for Phillip Lindsay and he gifted me with a RB I never knew I needed for the entire year. Johnson should succeed this week because of his opponent. The Giants weren’t able to game plan for Chase Edmonds last week when David Johnson had just one carry for two yards. Edmonds ran all over them for 126 yards and three TDs. T. Johnson will split time with J.D. McKissic, but not too much. The Lions’ offensive line should have no problem playing the way they did with K. Johnson with T. Johnson.
2) James Conner, Pittsburgh vs Miami
Conner no longer carries an injury designation and is coming off of a bye week to play the Dolphins who give up the most points to RBs in the league. Miami is ranked 31st in the league in total rushing defense, but that’s because it has played one less game than the Bengals, otherwise they’d be statistically last in every category. Conner has double digit fantasy points in his past three games as well as four overall out of six tries this season. He has also dropped just one pass thrown his way this season out of 27 looks. Conner should be able to annihilate Miami’s defense through the air and on the ground this week. He should have at least one TD both ways.
3) Josh Jacobs, Oakland @ Houston
Jacobs has back-to-back 100+ yard weeks, and although he’s going up against the third-best rush defense in the league I think with the amount of rushes he has and his option in the passing game makes him a viable candidate to reach the mark again. Oakland is also struggling in the receiving core unless your name is Darren Waller. Houston will likely place its best guys on Waller, so Jacobs will need to adjust and be open for more passes. His play will also allow other guys like Hunter Renfrow and Keelan Doss to be more available for passes. If Houston can start double-taking on who it needs to guard it’ll happen because of the play of Jacobs.
1) Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers @ Chicago
I used to be a huge fan of Gordon, but his time away from the team this offseason/regular season during his holdout has hurt him and the team. He can’t help the offensive line, but he can help is play and he has not during the time away. Austin Ekeler is the better back and the Chargers should look for trade options for Gordon. Gordon is struggling catching the ball as well as running the ball. He averaged just two yards per carry in the loss to the Titans and hasn’t eclipsed more than 32 yards on the ground in any of his three games this season. Chicago’s defense is not the place where this will improve either.
2) Damien Williams, Kansas City vs Green Bay
Williams may be the only RB to be a bigger bust than Chicago’s David Montgomery this season. He had so much hype prior to the season and his most successful game came in the season opener in Jacksonville. Since week one Williams has just 44 rushing yards in four games (missed two games due to injury). The Packers have been fairly solid against the run, aside from Phillip Lindsay’s two scores a few weeks ago, and with the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes out, the burden for Williams doesn’t get any easier. The Chiefs give up roughly 150 yards per game on the ground but Williams’ play has been so poor it doesn’t matter.
3) Joe Mixon, Cincinnati vs Los Angeles Rams in London
Teams are always a wild card when they travel to play overseas. Chicago was supposed to kill the Raiders a few weeks ago in London and we all lost our money on that bet. However, the Bengals’ offensive line makes a case for the worst OL in the league, so where the team plays doesn’t necessarily matter. Mixon has just 254 yards in seven games, including two yards on 10 rushes last week at home against Jacksonville. Sit him in all formats.
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Sleeper: Mark Walton, Miami @ Pittsburgh
Walton has been the Dolphins’ leading rusher over the course of the past two weeks and had 75 total yards in two weeks ago at home against Washington and 66 rushing yards last week in Buffalo against one of the best defenses in the league. He’s listed as the backup now ahead of Kalen Ballage but is also doing better than Kenyan Drake (who’s name is also still on the rumor mill). Miami will likely find themselves trailing in the game in some capacity, but QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has been successful passing to backs as well.
Bust Alert: Christian McCaffrey, Carolina @ San Francisco
McCaffrey will likely show us just how good or bad the 49ers are against the run. He’s the Panthers’ entire offense most weeks and San Francisco has had ample time to prepare for him. The 49ers give up 90 yards per game on the ground but are also first in passing defense. McCaffrey is a dual threat, but Carolina leans on him doing one or the other when one is getting stopped. San Francisco has the skill players needed to stop him both ways, however.
1) Allen Robinson, Chicago vs Los Angeles Chargers
LA has been vulnerable to allowing WRs to score who have poor QBs this season, boding well for Robinson this week. Mitchell Trubisky has left a lot to be desired and his poor play can be grouped with the QB carousel in Miami and the lackluster showing from Marcus Mariota who has recently been benched. The Chargers allowed the Dolphins’ DeVante Parker to score, as well as Tennessee’s Corey Davis and Tajae Sharpe. Robinson is the best offensive player for the Bears by far, and it helps that Chicago would rather lose games than run the ball.
2) Michael Thomas, New Orleans vs Arizona
AZ has been generous this year when it comes to yards through the air. The Cardinals allow 263 yards through the air per game and have just one INT compared to their 17 allowed TDs on the year. If you have Michael Thomas you probably drafted him with your first pick anyway, but it’s worth noting his elevated advantages for this week. In the last three weeks, Thomas has 402 yards and 36 catches. Alvin Kamara also practiced in limited fashion Thursday and Friday, so even if he plays he likely won’t be 100-percent, allowing Thomas to again have his stock elevated even more.
3) Courtland Sutton, Denver @ Indianapolis
Despite this game being on the road, Sutton will, if nothing more, see an increase in targets now that Emmanuel Sanders is in San Francisco. Indy has allowed four TDs to WRs in the last four games and I think Sutton is good enough at making in-game adjustments even though defenses will likely gravitate moreso his way. I don’t think Denver will make this game competitive, but I don’t think they’ll be shut out either. With the Broncos chasing points they’ll turn to the air game and if anyone is going to get a TD on Sunday, it has to be Sutton.
1) Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder, New York Jets @ Jacksonville
The Jets had a performance they’d like to forget on national TV on Monday. Coming off a short week, and nicked up QB, NY is again not going up against a forgiving defense. Anderson has just seven catches over the past three weeks, with five of them coming in one game, and Crowder is a little better, but is averaging just four catches per game in that span. These receivers haven’t done well when Darnold isn’t 100-percent and it’s likely that will be the case on the road in a climate they’re not accustomed to.
2) Emmanuel Sanders, San Francisco vs Carolina
The 49ers are all in this season and eyeing the Super Bowl. That’s why they went out to get a capable receiver to give Jimmy Garoppolo more than TE George Kittle to throw to. However, Sanders has just a few practices under his belt with his new team with an entirely new playbook to learn. This week, he should come in as a change-of-pace guy for a favorably run-heavy team. He’ll give them an option in the passing game, but not enough, in my opinion, to make a fantasy impact.
3) Julio Jones, Atlanta vs Seattle
Jones does have more than 90 yards in each of the past two games, but he has the trade of Mohammed Sanu and the injury to Matt Ryan is working against him. I liked what I saw from backup Matt Schaub in relief last week so Jones has the potential for a good game if he can get on the same page as Schaub. But I think Seattle still has one of the better defenses in the league, and if I’m Schaub, I’m spreading the ball around to try and keep the offense on the field as much as possible.
Sleeper: Golden Tate, New York Giants @ Detroit
Detroit has allowed three passing TDs in its last two games and Tate is returning to Detroit as the Giants’ healthiest receiver. He has 12 catches and 182 yards in his last two games, with one of them being against New England. Detroit is also 30th in the league in pass defense as well, it allows roughly 290 yards per game and has 10 scores on the year.
Bust Alert: Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland @ New England
Stephone Gillmore should be on OBJ this week when Cleveland goes into New England with a struggling Baker Mayfield. The Patriots are going to have another successful week on defense playing a team who hasn’t lived up to expectations. New England is one of two teams who allow under 150 yards passing per game and has just one TD allowed through the air this season compared to 18 INTs.
1) Darren Waller, Oakland @ Houston
Waller is the best TE in the league this season in my opinion. WR Tyrell Williams is still injured and with him out Waller’s stock is at an all-time high with no other reliable pass catchers. Waller is coming off his most successful game: 126 yards and two TDs on six catches. Houston has also allowed 15 TDs to just three INTs this season and is one of the worst pass defenses in the league.
2) George Kittle, San Francisco vs Carolina
Carolina’s defense now has to factor Emmanuel Sanders into the mix and can’t cheat on Kittle. The 49ers run the ball but when they’ve used Kittle they’ve been successful with him. Carolina has a stingy defense when it wants to, but also gives up points when it wants to also. I like that Kittle will provide a big-body change of pace guy and he should also have more success in the red zone. He has just one score this season, a disappointment to fantasy owners, but he’s due for another.
3) Evan Engram, New York Giants @ Detroit
Detroit allows just under 10 yards per target to TE and a middle-of-the-pack fantasy score to them as well, with approximately eight points per game. With the way the receiving core is banged up for NY, Engram should vy as the top or second best receiving threat on the day. He has also been cleared of his knee wrap and his MCL sprain is reported to be fine. Jarring no in-game setbacks, Engram should be productive in what could be a back and forth game. Also, if you’re Detroit, you won’t have much trouble covering Golden Tate as he was once on its roster and know how he operates. Engram, not so much.
1) Greg Olsen, Carolina @ San Francisco
No TE has more than 32 yards against the 49ers this season and I don’t think Olsen will be successful enough to make his fantasy day worth it. Carolina struggles with its wideouts so the likelihood of the Panthers being on the field for long, sustained drives is unlikely. This will cut into Olsen’s production and its likely that San Francisco’s game plan involves eliminating him through the air and focusing on Christian McCaffrey on the ground. If I’m the 49ers I’m making one of their mediocre wideouts beat me.
2) Zach Ertz, Philadelphia @ Buffalo
Teams have been containing Ertz all season and his fantasy production is left to be desired. Buffalo’s defense took a surprising scare last week against the Dolphins at home, but the Bills should bounce back and pick up another win. Ertz doesn’t have successful guys around him to draw the pressure away or move the chains regularly. Ertz only has 65 yards or more two times in seven games and has just one TD on the season. This is a bad matchup on the road.
3) Trey Burton, Chicago vs Los Angeles Chargers
Chicago is a better team when Burton is on the field. However, it’s using him incorrectly and he has no more than 20 yards in any game this season. The offensive coordinator needs to be fired in Chicago and head coach Matt Nagy needs to do as he preaches to the media. Run. The. Ball. He knows this opens up the run game and he’s screwing over the team and David Montgomery. Burton is being used as a blocker and nothing more. Until the Bears figure out their play calling, drop Burton.
Sleeper: Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh vs Miami
I think McDonald needs a TD to have a relevant day, but I see it happening. Miami gives up a lot of yards and points but its coverage is decently good– it’s just slow developing. I think the Dolphins will be able to focus and have success with receivers, but not with McDonald popping up all over the field. McDonald has been used less frequently over the past few weeks, but he was also recovering from an injury. Coming off the bye, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Steelers worked with him to get open off of blocking looks or just in general.
Bust Alert: Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers @ Chicago
We see what the Chargers’ offensive line has done to the production of guys like Keenan Allen. However, I think the Bears are more vulnerable through the air than on the ground. I have no doubt that they’ll be able to lock down the rushers as long as Chicago can figure out how to stay on offense some. But with Henry’s explosiveness, if he’s adjusting early he’ll be just fine, but if he’s not that will likely trouble him all day. I think the Bears will want to guard Allen more, but Henry’s had two solid games in a row coming back from injury. He missed back-to-back 100-yard games by three yards last week, but I’d like to see his short-field game improve as well to know he can be a factor in any game.