Fantasy Football Rankings: Week 8 Matchups to Consider
Half of the fantasy regular season has come and gone, magnifying your start-sit decisions more with each passing week. Can you make the final playoff push? Every Thursday I’ll take a look at a handful of players at each position along with the Ballers’ weekly rankings to help you make those crucial decisions!
I won’t just leave you hanging! For each player listed, I’ll offer a suggestion of who I would play them over OR a possible shift fantasy managers can consider.
Of course, you can always utilize the Start/Sit Tool on the website or reach out directly via Twitter: @KurtKnowsBest.
Lamar Jackson (BAL) at Tampa Bay
It’s been a roller-coaster season for fantasy managers who invested in Lamar Jackson during drafts. Jackson started the season with three top-8 QB finishes, including back-to-back overall QB1 finishes in Weeks 2 and 3. Since then, Jackson hasn’t topped 20 points in a given week. Even so, as Matt DiSorbo points out in his weekly Stats and Expectations article for Week 8, Jackson accounts for the highest percentage of his team’s fantasy points than any other player in the league.
Possibly the biggest difference in Jackson’s production has come in the passing game, where he’s only completed 60% of his passes since Week 4 and averaged an interception per game.
The Buccaneers present an opportunity for Jackson to get back on track for fantasy managers. Tampa Bay is the 8th worst schedule-adjusted defense against fantasy QBs and most recently allowed a QB14 performance to PJ Walker. In fact, the once daunting Bucs’ defense has given up at least a QB14 performance in four of the last 5 weeks. It’s doubtful you have much of a choice, but I’d continue to roll with Lamar in Week 8.
Kurt would play Jackson over: Tom Brady (QB7); Kirk Cousins (QB6)
Tua Tagovailoa (MIA) at Detroit
The return of Tua Tagovailoa was exactly what the Dolphins needed to snap their three-game losing streak. It also brought fantasy managers some much-needed production from the QB spot with a QB11 finish in Week 7.
When Tua is asked to throw the ball more than 30 times, the results are great for fantasy production as shown by the QB2 finish in Week 2. Kyle Borgognoni does a deep dive into Tua’s ability (or lack thereof) to produce when he’s under pressure in the pocket in this week’s Pace of Play article. The good news is Detroit’s defense is only sacking opposing QBs on 4.4% of plays, which ranks 26th in the league.
The Lions have allowed more than 20 points to opposing QBs three weeks this season and currently allow the most points per game in the league. Fantasy managers should confidently put Tua in their lineups and expect top-6 production at the minimum.
Kurt would play Tagovailoa over: Dak Prescott (QB3)
Tony Pollard (DAL) vs Chicago
Would you believe me if I told you that Tony Pollard had more top-24 finishes so far this season than Ezekiel Elliott? What’s more impressive is Pollard has four top-24 finishes but hasn’t had a single week with more opportunities (rush attempts & targets) than Zeke. Now we enter Week 8 with Pollard staring down a chance to be the main back after Elliott injured his knee in Week 7.
The chance to be the main guy comes with a great matchup for Pollard as the Cowboys host a Bears’ defense that has given up a top-20 fantasy RB six straight weeks and a top-10 RB in five of six weeks. I can’t think of a better candidate for a “Start of the Week,” especially if Zeke can’t go on Sunday.
Kurt would play Pollard over: Travis Etienne Jr. (RB14); Aaron Jones (RB18)
Devin Singletary (BUF) vs Green Bay
The mystery of the Bills’ backfield is sure to continue after their bye week. Through six games, Singletary has seen more than 70% of snaps three times but has almost been a direct split of RB snaps in the other three weeks. The good news is the remaining RB snaps are going to multiple players, so Singletary is still the “lead,” though I’m interested to see how Buffalo uses rookie James Cook after the bye week.
Possibly the strangest trend is that Singletary’s best games come when the Bills are actually challenged and have to play all four quarters. When the game ends within a score, Singletary is almost averaging 14 points. If the game ends outside of a score, that number drops to 5.1 fantasy points. So deciding on Singletary in Week 8 comes down to whether or not you think the Packers can compete with the Bills in Buffalo.
Singletary’s matchup with the Packers’ defense is favorable for RBs. Green Bay has given up five top-24 RB performances in the last four weeks. You read that right. They gave up RB15 and RB24 weeks to the Patriots in Week 4. Singletary makes me nervous since the Packers don’t seem to have found any answers offensively. I’d shift elsewhere if you have an alternative.
Kurt would prefer playing: David Montgomery (RB24); Eno Benjamin (RB30)
Antonio Gibson (WASH) at Indianapolis
Antonio Gibson was all but declared dead for fantasy purposes after Brian Robinson saw more snaps for the Commanders in Week 6. Last week may have shed some light on Washington’s plans for using Gibson going forward. Nate Henry suggests in the weekly Snap Count Observations article that Gibson may be moving into the valuable J.D. McKissic role. Gibson has seen four targets three straight weeks and got into the end zone on a catch last week to help him to an RB16 finish.
The Colts’ defense is the 15th-ranked schedule-adjusted defense against RBs, but they’ve given up a top-24 RB finish in six straight games. If Gibson continues to see 12+ opportunities like he did last week, he’s still a player fantasy managers should be considering in their flex positions due to his ability to break a big play, especially through the receiving game.
Kurt would play Gibson over: D’Onta Foreman (RB32); Tyler Allgeier (RB29)
DeVonta Smith (PHI) vs Pittsburgh
After a pretty slow start to the fantasy season, Devonta Smith has paid off for fantasy managers who believed in the Eagles WR. It’s easy for Smith to be overshadowed both physically and in reputation by fellow WR A.J. Brown, but Smith has been a top-20 WR in three of his last four games. That includes an overall WR1 finish in Week 3.
The Eagles’ offense provides plenty of opportunity for Smith to continue being a proper WR2 with WR1 upside on a weekly basis. Smith is currently where the Eagles turn for deep targets, leading the team in targets of 20+ yards. Week 8 presents a matchup with a Steelers’ defense that is currently giving up a league-high 11.9 points per completion to opposing offenses. I’m playing Smith everywhere I have him this week and wouldn’t be shocked if he finishes inside the top-10 WRs.
Kurt would play Smith over: Gabriel Davis (WR18); Tyler Lockett (WR15)
Drake London (ATL) vs Carolina
It may be time to sound the alarm bells for Drake London managers. After starting the season with 50 or more yards in three straight weeks, London hasn’t surpassed that mark in four straight games. AJ Passman notes in the Targets Per Route Run article for Week 8 that while that early success keeps London near the top of those charts, the low passing volume just isn’t high enough for fantasy managers to be able to rely on him weekly.
Week 8 presents what you’d think would be a good matchup for the Atlanta passing game, but the Panthers rank as the 12th most difficult matchup for opposing fantasy WRs when you adjust for schedule. Fantasy managers should proceed with caution regarding London being in their lineup and shift if possible.
Kurt would prefer playing: Wan’Dale Robinson (WR40); George Pickens (WR32)
Chris Olave (NO) vs Las Vegas
Speaking of rookie WRs, Chris Olave has fully taken over the lead receiving work in New Orleans. Olave has finished as the WR16 or higher in his last four games played, seeing 29% of targets over that stretch. What’s more impressive is the elite company he’s in when you consider he’s only a rookie. Kyle Borgognoni tweeted the following chart earlier this week:
Yes, the Borgognoni love fest with Olave has merit.
The Raiders present another great opportunity for Olave to continue his run of WR2 fantasy finishes. The Las Vegas defense has given up two receiving TDs in three-straight games and hasn’t had a single game where they didn’t give up one through the air. Olave has top-12 upside this week and should be securely in fantasy lineups.
Kurt would play Olave over: Gabriel Davis (WR18); Michael Pittman Jr. (WR16)
Greg Dulcich (DEN) at Jacksonville (In London)
I know we’re never supposed to trust rookie TEs, but it’s tough to argue with results. For two weeks straight, Greg Dulcich has put in top-12 TE finishes. What makes his production seem sustainable is that Dulcich has seen an increase in target share from week to week.
When you’re searching for production at the TE spot, you’re rolling the dice at getting a TD. The Jaguars’ defense has only given up one TD to a TE on the season and has only given up double-digit points to the TE position once this season. If you’re riding the wave with Greg D, I’d proceed with caution.
Kurt would rather play: Evan Engram (TE16); Darren Waller (TE30)
Irv. Smith Jr. (MIN) vs Arizona
When you’re looking for a TE to stream, sometimes it can be completely based on the matchup and that’s what you’re getting with Irv Smith Jr. in Week 8. The Cardinals are currently giving up the second-most points to opposing fantasy TEs. Only once this season has Arizona’s defense not given up 10 or more points to the position.
Big Irv is involved enough in the passing game for Minnesota to not be a complete dart throw. Smith has seen at least four targets in all but one game this season and has caught two of the five red zone targets he’s been thrown for TDs. If you’re needing a TE stream this week, you could do much worse than putting Irv Smith in your lineup.
Kurt would play Smith over: Dawson Knox (TE8); Pat Freiermuth (TE9)
WR who to sit or start: (1) DJ Moore, (2) Deebo (3) Wan Dale Robinson (4) Paris Campbell or sit Singletary in flex for a trio of WR?
Courtland Sutton, Brandin Cooks, or Devin Singletary?