Fantasy Football Sleepers: Week 8

Fantasy Football Sleepers: Week 8

Winning fantasy football leagues begins with a strong draft and winds up relying on targeting waiver wire prospects ahead of schedule to build depth. This lets fantasy managers deal with injuries and Bye Weeks without making the wrong streaming decisions, although those tend to happen to most of us from time to time. 

Sleeper is an oversaturated term in fantasy football but its concept still applies. Whether it’s a bench stash player or someone sitting on the waiver wire, fantasy managers who take a calculated risk by moving these players into their lineups, when necessary, can flip their season in one week. We’ve already seen a number of big-play explosives from sleeper candidates this season, and we’re only entering the eighth week of the fantasy football season!

Six teams were on Bye in Week 7, but in Week 8, there will be 16 games, as every team will be competing, giving fantasy managers a multitude of options to choose from. At the same time, this presents challenges for fantasy managers because there are sometimes too many good options to start, at least on paper, on a full slate. NFL fantasy analyst Matt MacKay shares his latest analysis of six fantasy football sleepers to either acquire off of waivers or plug into lineups, using half-PPR scoring to contextualize each of these players entering the halfway point of the 2023 fantasy football season.

Gus Edwards (RB – Ravens)

Since J.K. Dobbins’ season-ending Achilles tear, Gus Edwards has been the mainstay as the Ravens’ RB1. Edwards is playing in OC Todd Monken’s new system, but he’s earning 37 percent of Baltimore’s rushing share, dwarfing Justice Hill at 17.8 percent. Edwards caught his lone target for an 80-yard reception in Week 7, inflating his production a bit, but he still rattled off 14 carries for 64 rushing yards and a touchdown during the Ravens’ blowout win over Detroit. Edwards’ role as RB1 is highly valuable, earning 12-16 carries in four consecutive games, so inserting him as a mid-range RB2 is a viable play moving forward. Just be aware, Edwards’ floor is low, recording four games under six fantasy points, but exploding with 20.9 points in Week 7. A Week 8 matchup against Arizona should keep Edwards in lineups as a solid RB2.

Kareem Hunt (RB – Browns)

Kareem Hunt could be one of the biggest bids on the waiver wire this week following Jerome Ford’s injury against Indianapolis. Hunt sealed the win for the Browns with a last-minute goal-line touchdown, scoring two against the Colts in Week 7, despite averaging under 4.0 YPC in every game this season. Hunt benefits from a run-centric offense led by head coach Kevin Stefanski, playing behind a solid offensive line. Hunt has scored three touchdowns in the past two games, spiking his production to 14.6 and 15.1 fantasy points, but he could wind up earning 15-20 touches instead of 10-12 with Ford’s status currently to be determined. Hunt gets a tougher Seattle run defense in Week 8, but he’s at least worth stashing on fantasy benches. Treat Hunt as a low-end RB2 with a high-end RB2 upside in Week 8. 

Josh Downs (WR – Colts)

Rookie wideout Josh Downs has been a significant asset with Gardner Minshew under center for the Colts. Downs is earning a 20 percent target share this season and has scored a touchdown in two consecutive games, including an explosive 59-yard touchdown reception to start the scoring for Indianapolis in Week 7. Downs has at least six targets in three straight games, with two of those winding up with at least five catches for 97 receiving yards. Downs is highly versatile and explosive downfield and in intermediate yardage situations, so even though he gets a tough matchup against a Saints pass defense that ranks as the 13th-toughest matchup for fantasy wideouts this season, the rookie remains a mid-range WR2 with low-end WR1 upside moving forward. 

Kendrick Bourne (WR – Patriots)

New England’s offense has been atrocious for most of the season, but wide receiver Kendrick Bourne has been fairly reliable. The seventh-year wideout is now in his third season with the Patriots and he’s clearly developed a good rapport with quarterback Mac Jones, earning seven to 11 targets in four games this season. Bourne is fresh off of a 6-63-1 stat line against the Buffalo Bills in Week 7, recording double-digit production in fantasy lineups for the second consecutive week. Bourne benefits from a lackluster wide receiving corps surrounding him, leading the Patriots with a 20.9 percent target share, which is 10 percent higher than JuJu Smith-Schuster. Bourne’s floor is a low-end WR3, but his ceiling is a mid-range WR2, so against the Dolphins’ susceptible pass defense in Week 8, Bourne is worth the risk as a fringe WR2 Flex option in fantasy lineups. 

Gerald Everett (TE – Chargers)

The absence of Mike Williams due to a season-ending ACL tear has opened up more opportunities for Gerald Everett in the Chargers’ passing attack. While Everett got off to a slow start, he’s managed to score a touchdown in back-to-back games, which still hasn’t resulted in more than 10 fantasy points. Everett has a decent floor in a barren tight-end landscape, getting at least six fantasy points in four of six games this season, while his ceiling is a bit capped due to Justin Herbert heavily targeting Keenan Allen and Joshua Palmer. However, if the red zone and end zone targets continue, Everett is a viable low-end TE1 streamer with a good matchup against the Chicago Bears defense in Week 8. 

Desmond Ridder (QB – Falcons)

Desmond Ridder is QB20 in fantasy points per game this season, which isn’t ideal in a one-quarterback league, but Ridder has been returning more value lately. The Falcons’ second-year quarterback has had turnover problems hindering his overall performances, fumbling at key times in Week 7 and throwing three interceptions that cost the Falcons a win over Washington in Week 6. Yet, Ridder has thrown for at least 250 passing yards in three consecutive games, while recording six carries for 38 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay in Week 7. He could’ve had two rushing touchdowns if it weren’t for a fumble out of the end zone before crossing the goal line, so Ridder’s floor is growing higher with each week that passes. The Falcons are committed to Ridder, who has the Falcons sitting at 4-3 atop the NFC South. Ridder is a high-end QB2 with low-end QB1 upside in Week 8 facing the Titans, who surprisingly rank as a bottom-12 matchup for fantasy quarterbacks this season. However, upcoming matchups against Minnesota and Arizona make Ridder a must-stash and a viable streaming option at quarterback. 

Mike Patch
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