Fantasy Football Rankings: Week 8 Matchups to Consider
It almost feels like fantasy managers are getting a break whenever there’s a week without byes, but that can make setting your fantasy lineups that much more difficult because you have so many options available! There are just seven weeks left in the regular season for most fantasy leagues and time is running out to right the ship towards the fantasy playoffs. Getting your fantasy decisions right every week is more crucial than ever, and I’m here to walk through a few matchups at each position that might make the difference for you this week!
C.J. Stroud (HOU) at Carolina
It’s been quite the hot start for CJ Stroud both for actual game purposes and fantasy. Stroud has taken a Houston offense that many assumed would continue to be extremely run-heavy and is throwing the ball 35 times per game. What’s more encouraging for fantasy managers are Stroud’s three top-12 QB finishes on the season and averaging 276 passing yards per game. Stroud has looked the part and as the Texans’ offense continues to grow down the stretch of the season, the second-overall pick in the 2023 draft could emerge as a consistent streaming candidate.
While Week 8 appears to present another chance to get into the top-12 QBs for Stroud, the Panthers’ defense has been more difficult for fantasy QBs than it appears at face value. Carolina’s defense gives up the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing RBs, which isn’t great news for QB fantasy production. With the Panthers giving up the fourth-fewest passing yards in the league so far this year, Stroud will have to make sure and get into the end zone through the passing game where Carolina has given up 10 TDs so far this year. Fantasy managers should consider Stroud a streaming option but don’t be surprised if he disappoints this week.
Kurt would rather play: QB10 – Kirk Cousins at Green Bay
Trevor Lawrence (JAX) at Pittsburgh
High expectations heading into the season for Trevor Lawrence haven’t turned into big fantasy production through seven weeks of 2023. Lawrence has only been a top-12 QB three times on the season, but what’s more concerning is that he hasn’t surpassed 20 points in a given week this season in four-point QB scoring. The key to Lawrence’s fantasy success seems hinged on either tossing two TDs or him being involved in the running game where he’s averaging nearly 30 yards per game.
The path to a strong fantasy finish for Lawrence this week will hinge on his ability to make plays in the passing game against the Steelers. Pittsburgh’s defense isn’t the typical stout unit that we’re accustomed to seeing in black and yellow, but they’ve been hit or miss against fantasy QBs this season, allowing a top-12 QB in half their games. The Steelers gave up six of their nine passing TDs in games where they gave up a top-12 QB finish, so if Lawrence can get the passing game rolling for the Jaguars this week, he stands a chance to leave fantasy managers happy to have him in their lineups.
Kurt would rather play: QB16 – Sam Howell vs Philadelphia
Rhamondre Stevenson (NE) at Miami
Jason’s plan for acquiring Rhamondre Stevenson has taken shape after a very slow start to the season. Stevenson has been a top-20 RB in back-to-back weeks after a rough three weeks outside the top 30, but as Jason mentioned in the Hungry For More segment this week his increased involvement in the passing game should make fantasy managers feel much more confident about him being in their lineups going forward. Over the last two weeks, Stevenson has seen 12 targets that he’s turned into 11 receptions for 75 yards. The passing work is what made Stevenson such a valuable asset in 2022 when he finished as the RB11, and while he may not return to that tier of player in the current Patriots offense, having a strong RB2 isn’t something to be upset about.
Stevenson should be able to continue his top-20 streak this week against a Miami defense that has given up the fifth-most rushing TDs on the year. The Dolphins have allowed four top-30 RB finishes over their last four games, including the RB25 and RB27 last week to Philadelphia. The biggest issue for RBs taking on Miami is when their teams have to abandon the running game to keep up with the high-scoring Dolphins offense, but with Stevenson’s return to the passing game, that shouldn’t be a concern for fantasy managers this week.
Kurt would play Stevenson over: RB23 – Javonte Williams vs Kansas City
Pierre Strong Jr. (CLE) at Seattle
One of the hot names on the waiver wire this week, Pierre Strong Jr. may get a real chance to show what he’s capable of for the Browns this week. It may be easy to forget, but Strong had an RB11 finish for the Patriots in Week 14 of 2022 behind just seven opportunities that he turned into 90 yards and a TD. Strong was a small school prospect coming into the league that had a really nice receiving profile notching six TD receptions and then running a 4.37 40-yard dash for scouts. While it doesn’t necessarily mean he will be a sure thing in the NFL, if Strong is given the opportunity due to the large number of injuries to the Browns RB room, he could produce for fantasy managers.
Getting the Seahawks may not be the best chance for Strong to show what he can do at the NFL level. Seattle’s defense has allowed the second-fewest rushing yards in the league and the third-lowest yards per carry. All that said, the Seahawks have still allowed a top-30 RB in every game this season and over the last four weeks, those RBs have averaged four receptions per game, something that Strong will be capable of if given the opportunity. While he shouldn’t be a lock in your lineup if Kareem Hunt is a full go, Strong should still be considered a flex option given the large number of RB injuries across the fantasy landscape.
Kurt would play Strong over: RB34 – Emari Demercado vs Baltimore
Darrell Henderson Jr. (LAR) at Dallas
If you played the Rams RB lottery last week and landed on Darrell Henderson Jr., you were pretty pleased with the outcome. Henderson came to the Rams off the streets and turned in an RB15 finish behind 20 opportunities and a TD. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Henderson was the preferred option given his familiarity with the offense and the five top-30 RB finishes he produced in L.A.’s offense last season. While the strong week came out of nowhere for fantasy managers, Henderson shouldn’t be viewed as a lock for lineups going forward. Fellow Rams RB Royce Freeman still managed 66 yards and averaged 5.5 yards per carry compared to Henderson’s 3.4.
The Cowboys’ defense has been the strong unit we expected coming into the season, only allowing more than 20 points once so far this season. When it comes to RBs, Dallas can completely shut down the position for fantasy. On four different weeks this year, the Cowboys have allowed 11 or fewer points to opposing teams RBs and they’ve only given up a top-24 RB finish two weeks this season. If you’re forced into playing Henderson this week, I’d only consider him a flex play given the matchup and would look elsewhere until a better matchup comes around.
Kurt would prefer to play: RB33 – Jaylen Warren vs Jacksonville
Diontae Johnson (PIT) vs Jacksonville
The return to the field for Diontae Johnson was a strong one for fantasy managers with a WR22 finish that could have been even bigger if a TD had not been called back. Johnson stepped right back into the Pittsburgh defense and provided a consistent target for Kenny Pickett on just 66% of snaps, which we should only see increase as he gets back to full speed. Even though his 2022 season was one to forget, Johnson averaged eight targets per game, so there will be plenty of looks coming his way for the rest of the year.
If the Steelers are going to get their passing game rolling, taking on the Jaguars is a great way to start it. The Jacksonville defense has allowed the most passing yards in the league and averages 30 fantasy points to opposing fantasy WRs. Over the last five weeks, the Jags’ defense has allowed four top-24 WR finishes, and three of those were top-10 WRs. Johnson has a strong case to return to the top 24 for fantasy managers again this week and should be considered a WR2 with upside.
Kurt would play Johnson over: WR32 – Tee Higgins at San Francisco
Courtland Sutton (DEN) vs Kansas City
Courtland Sutton has quietly put together a WR20 season so far despite the offensive output in Denver being less than expected when we entered the year. Sutton has strung together back-to-back top-24 WR finishes behind a combined 12 targets, 122 yards, and two TDs over the last two weeks. It’s probably those TDs that are responsible for most of his high fantasy finishes since he hasn’t finished higher than WR48 when he doesn’t get into the end zone. Still, Sutton seems to be the clear favorite in the Broncos’ passing game and could be a consistent flex option for fantasy managers for the rest of the season.
While the Chiefs’ defense has been better this season, only allowing more than 20 points once this year, they’ve still been a unit to target for fantasy production. Over their last three games, Kansas City has allowed a top-24 WR finish in each matchup, including one to Sutton just two weeks ago. With 46 points expected in the second matchup between these two AFC West rivals, fantasy managers can probably count on Sutton to provide fantasy value as a flex option with upside this week.
Kurt would play Sutton over: WR27 – DK Metcalf vs Cleveland
Jameson Williams (DET) vs Las Vegas
I’ll admit that this one is projecting a little bit, but it is time for Jameson Williams in Detroit. Williams doesn’t really fit any of the metrics we like to see for young WRs when it comes to foreseeing future fantasy relevance given his lack of production in limited time as a rookie, but he’s got tremendous draft capital and has an awesome production profile from college. All that said, the Lions moved on from Marvin Jones Jr. this week who was playing nearly 50% of snaps so far this year for Detroit, and we’ll assume that Williams is going to step into that field stretching role. Williams got six targets last week and has already turned in a WR24 finish on just two receptions so any increase in opportunity could mean much bigger things for his fantasy output.
Traditionally, the Raiders have been a team that fantasy managers want to target because they’ll give up plenty of yards and points. So far this season, the Las Vegas defense has been a better-than-expected matchup for fantasy purposes, only allowing three top-24 WR finishes on the season, but two of those have come over the last three weeks. The worry with a fantasy WR against the Raiders has to be that all the production comes on the ground like last week with the Bears, but I’d bet on the Raiders giving up a few big plays to make Williams a decent dart throw as a flex option.
Kurt would play Williams over: WR48 – Jerry Jeudy vs Kansas City
Kyle Pitts (ATL) at Tennessee
We can’t ever really have nice things at the TE position for very long and Kyle Pitts’ top 10 streak died last week with a TE15 finish. What’s encouraging for Pitts is that he’s currently the TE12 on the year and is averaging nearly five receptions per game and 60 yards over the last three weeks, so he’s been more involved than we’ve seen since his rookie season when he finished as the TE7. The Atlanta offense threw the ball the second-fewest times all year in Week 7 with just 25 attempts, so hopefully they’ll get back up over 30 attempts again to help raise the ceiling for Pitts’ continued involvement in the passing game.
If there’s a cure for a bad passing game, the Titans seem like the right medicine. Tennessee’s defense just traded their best player in the secondary in Kevin Byard and they were already allowing the fifth-most yards per attempt in the league with him in the lineup. Before their trip to London, the Titans hadn’t allowed a top-12 TE finish at all this season and they still haven’t allowed a TD to an opposing TE all year. While Pitts isn’t your typical TE, he’s shown that he can still produce for fantasy without having to get in the end zone. I’d be playing Pitts this Sunday, but unless he finds a way to break Tennessee’s TE TD drought, he may be capped as to what he can bring to your fantasy roster.
Kurt would play Pitts over: TE13 – Dalton Schultz at Carolina
Taysom Hill (NO) at Indianapolis
It’s been surprising, but Taysom Hill has actually been catching passes in the Saints’ offense over the last several weeks. Prior to Week 6, Hill had just 25 receptions since 2020, but over the last two weeks, Hill has 11 receptions for 99 yards. When you add that the Saints are still going to use him in the running game where he’s averaging four carries per game, it’s a hard argument to not be working Hill into your TE slot on a regular basis with the upside he presents at such a limited position.
The Colts are a middle-of-the-road team when it comes to fantasy matchups for the TE, only allowing about 10 points per game to the position. Over their last four games though, Indianapolis has allowed three top-12 TE finishes and is allowing at least five receptions to teams’ top TE receiving options over that stretch. Given Hill’s increased involvement in the passing game and continued work on the ground, fantasy managers could do much worse than finding a spot for Hill in their TE spot this week.
Kurt would play Hill over: TE16 – Trey McBride vs Baltimore