Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 8
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 8
We are nearly mid-way through the 2023 season, and things still seem as unpredictable as ever. In week 7, we saw a struggling Colts team figure something out against the Browns that the 49ers couldn’t the week before. The 1-5 (before this week, now 2-5) Patriots somehow beat the Buffalo Bills, and those who came into the week skeptical about the potential of the Dolphins to be a contender, left the week feeling validated after they put up just 17 points against the Eagles. We got surprising fantasy outputs from D’Onta Foreman, Rashee Rice, and Josh Downs, while elite-level TEs you invested in early showed up. What does this mean for week 8? No one can say for sure, but that won’t stop us from trying. Here are my week 8 starts and sits.
Week 8 Starts
Start Stat Percentage, via Sleeper
Jordan Love (QB)
Green Bay vs. MIN (42% Start)
So far in 2023, Jordan Love has been a solid fantasy option, scoring over 20 points in five of six games. His one down week was against a Raiders defense that has been surprisingly good against quarterbacks, allowing just 15.1 fantasy points a game to the position. While Love hasn’t always looked like an NFL-caliber quarterback, and has frustrated his fantasy managers with slow, sluggish starts, his production has helped far more than it’s hurt. People might be somewhat hesitant to take a chance on him a week after only managing 21.1 points against a Broncos defense that can’t stop anyone, but it could be worth it. With no teams on bye in week 8, you may not need Love’s services, but if you find yourself hurting at the position due to injury, you could look Love’s way. The Vikings allow the tenth most fantasy points to quarterbacks, and with both teams struggling this year, Love should find himself in a close game, which could mean many opportunities to put up points. I’m not saying Love is a top-12 option this week but, if you need a fill-in, Love is a solid choice.
Kirk Cousins (QB)
Minnesota Vikings vs. GB (43% Start)
On the other side of the field, Cousins could also be a solid start in week 8. Cousins is currently a top-6 fantasy quarterback, failing to score over 20 points just twice this season. In the five games that saw Cousins hit that mark, he threw over 40 passes. In his two lowest-scoring games, he threw 50 passes combined. He is without star wide receiver Justin Jefferson for at least three more weeks but rookie Jordan Addison is an emerging star, while T.J. Hockenson provides a reliable veteran presence. The Packers are not the easiest matchup, allowing just 15 points to quarterbacks this season, but I expect Cousins to pass a lot in this one as the Vikings try to get out to a fast start and an early lead. It may not be a pretty way of getting there, but by the game’s end, I expect another 20-25-point outing for Cousins. If you need help at quarterback, Cousins could provide it.
Devin Singletary (RB)/Dameon Pierce (RB)
Houston Texans vs. CAR (2% Start/14% Start)
This might be more of a sleeper pick than a concrete start recommendation, but if you find yourself looking for running back or flex help this week, the Houston backfield could be a place to look. The running back position has been ravaged by injuries this year, and if you are one of the managers impacted by that, then looking to the Texans’ backfield may be beneficial. Neither Singletary nor Pierce have been especially good this season, with just three double-digit games between them. They have also yet to average five yards a carry in any single game. Singletary has been a bit more efficient with his touches, but only slightly. However, that tiny difference may explain the snap count in week 6 when Singletary saw 54% of the snaps compared to 33% for Pierce in what was a close game and a Texans win. It’s hard to imagine Singletary getting more work than Pierce, but for a 3-3 team that is looking for some way to spark their run game, things could be trending in that direction. Whoever gets the work could be successful against a Carolina defense that is allowing the second most points to opposing running backs. Neither will win you the week, but both could be nice flex plays in week 8.
Gus Edwards (RB)
Baltimore Ravens vs. ARI (24% Start)
In week 7, Gus Edwards broke out in a big way, erupting for 144 total yards and one touchdown, finishing in the top 5 at the position with 20.9 half-PPR points. Edwards was the clear lead back in the Ravens backfield demanding 15 touches. No other Ravens running back got more than five. Fantasy pundits thought Baltimore may try to get rookie Keaton Mitchell more involved this week, but he only saw one touch and 3% of snaps. Edwards is the back to own in Baltimore until further notice, which should come as no surprise. The 28-year-old veteran has been a favorite of the team for years and if he keeps playing as well as he did on Sunday that should continue. You can’t expect this type of production every week, but against the Arizona Cardinals, you should feel confident putting Edwards into your lineup. The Cardinals have allowed over 26 fantasy points a game to opposing running backs, allowing four 100-yard rushing efforts in seven weeks. With Lamar Jackson keeping Arizona honest, Edwards should have plenty of room to run and is a solid RB2 this week.
Kendrick Bourne (WR)
New England Patriots vs. MIA (22% Start)
Bourne has come on as of late, with two straight weeks of at least seven targets and 13 points in half-PPR formats. Bourne currently leads the Patriots in almost every receiving category. Not an extremely difficult task with how inept Mac Jones and this offense have looked at times, but Jones has begun to play better football and as a result, the receivers have begun to show a bit of life. There is still a lot of room for improvement but in week 8 they will face a Dolphins offense that can put up points in abundance, forcing Jones to air it out early and often just to play catch up. The Dolphins are not an intimidating defensive matchup, allowing nearly 40 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. With 18 targets over the last two weeks, I would expect Jones to continue to look Bourne’s way. He’s only rostered in 39% of leagues, so there’s a good chance he’s on your waiver wire. If that’s the case, go grab him. If he’s already on your roster consider putting him in your lineup as a potential WR2.
Joshua Palmer (WR)
Los Angeles Chargers vs. CHI (37% Start)
In what was supposed to be a tough matchup, against a solid Chiefs secondary, Palmer caught five passes for 133 yards and a top-12 wide receiver finish in half-PPR formats. Since losing Mike Williams to a season-ending injury in week 3, Justin Herbert and the Chargers have been looking for a secondary pass-catcher to step up behind star Keenan Allen. Some predicted it would be Quentin Johnston, but it looks like we may have to wait a bit for his emergence. For the time being, it is Palmer who is making the most of his opportunities. Now he gets to face a Bears defense that, while performing better in recent weeks, is still vulnerable against the pass. The Bears could also be without the services of Justin Fields for a second straight week relying, instead, on backup Tyson Bagent. Bagent looked solid against the Raiders in week 7, but the Chargers will be a much stiffer test. Justin Herbert has attempted over 30 passes in all but one game this season, and with Palmer continuing to see a larger share of the targets, another productive afternoon could be on the horizon. He’s a good WR2 this week and a great flex.
Michael Mayer (TE)
Las Vegas Raiders vs. DET (17% Start)
I get it. Mayer is a rookie tight end with only one double-digit outing this year and who only managed 2.3 points against a Bears defense that should’ve been a favorable matchup. Still, if you don’t have one of the handful of tight ends that are a sure thing at the position, I would consider rolling Mayer out this week. In week 7, Mayer had to catch passes from Brian Hoyer, who looked every bit the backup he has been most of his career. Starter Jimmy Garoppolo is expected back in week 8, and the last time they played together Mayer had his best finish of the season. The team stated the intention of getting Mayer more involved and put that plan into action. They should do so again, now that they once again have a competent quarterback under center, and Mayer could be open all game. The Detroit Lions are the second-worst team against tight ends, behind only the Jets, allowing nearly 16 points to the position. Both Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers will see their share of targets but in a game that should see a lot of passing, there will be enough to go around. Mayer could produce as a TE1 this week.
Cole Kmet (TE)
Chicago Bears vs. LAC (42% Start)
It’s hard to put a tight end into your lineup who just put up a gooseegg against the Las Vegas Raiders. It becomes even more difficult when the situation is similar for him. Backup Tyson Bagent will still be under center in week 8 which could mean far less passing volume, but against a team like the Chargers, I don’t think that will be the case. The Bears should get down early in this one, and as much as Coach Matt Eberflus would love to take the bulk of the responsibility out of Bagent’s hands and put it in the hands of his capable running backs, I’m not sure he’ll have a choice. This could bode well for Kmet because if there is one thing we learned from week 7, it’s that Bagent either can’t or isn’t allowed to throw downfield. Since Kmet does a lot of his damage in the short to intermediate area of the field, this could mean a lot of targets for him. I expect after watching the game tape from week 7, the coaching staff will try to get their talented tight end more involved, especially against the Chargers who have had trouble guarding tight ends so far this season. You may have safer options you feel more comfortable with, but if you stream the position or need an injury fill-in, Kmet could do nicely.
Week 8 Sits
Matthew Stafford (QB)
Los Angeles Rams vs. DAL (45% Start)
As a real-life quarterback, Matthew Stafford has been playing some solid football, but as far as fantasy goes, he’s been underwhelming. In seven games, Stafford has only scored 20+ fantasy points in one game. He is currently the QB15 on the season, making him an obvious play in 2QB or Superflex leagues, but a bench stash in 1QB formats. His fortune is not likely to change this week when he faces the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys boast one of the best defenses in the league, and the #1 fantasy defense, and that’s with them having been on bye in week 7. The Cowboys are especially stingy to opposing signal callers, tied for the fifth-fewest points allowed to the position. If you have players like Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua, you are starting them without hesitation. They should be able to produce even in a difficult matchup, but Stafford could find it tough sledding. The Cowboys are averaging nearly three sacks a game which isn’t great for a quarterback not known for extending plays with his legs. Stafford is unlikely to surpass his typical 13-16 points this week. Bench him.
Brian Robinson (RB)
Washington Commanders vs. PHI (69% Start)
Brian Robinson has been a decent RB2/flex option in 2023, averaging 12.47 points per game, but nearly half of his total points came in the first two games of the season. Since then, Robinson has been a top-15 running back just once, and in the last four games has not averaged more than 3.21 yards per carry in a single game. In some of his contests, the game script took him out of it, as the Commanders got down early, having to abandon the run. In others, Robinson simply couldn’t get anything going in the running game. The positive thing about Robinson is that he is still every bit the lead back in Washington earning the largest snap share and workload, but thus far, the production has not been there. This week he faces an Eagles defense allowing the fewest points to opposing running backs. The same defense that limited him to just over three yards a carry in week 4. Robinson did manage over 12 fantasy points in that one, but that relied heavily on him finding the end zone, something impossible to predict. There are better options on better teams in easier matchups this week. If you can, bench Robinson.
Aaron Jones (RB)
Green Bay Packers vs. MIN (76% Start)
It’s difficult to evaluate Jones in 2023. He has only played three games, and aside from a week 1 matchup against the Bears that saw him finish as the RB1 on the week in half-PPR formats, he hasn’t produced. In week 7, he faced the Denver Broncos, a team giving up the most points to running backs, and still only mustered 7.2 points on 11 total touches. Compare that to teammate A.J. Dillon’s 10.5 points on 17 touches and it becomes clear that Jones is still not 100% healthy. Even if that changes in week 8, Jones may have trouble producing. The Vikings are top 5 against running backs this season and just held Christian McCaffrey to 45 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. McCaffrey did add three catches for 51 yards and another score so perhaps there is some dual-threat upside, but Jones is no McCaffrey. In a week where there are no teams on bye, there should be better options on your bench. I would use one of them.
Tyler Lockett (WR)
Seattle Seahawks vs. CLE (78% Start)
Tyler Lockett has always been a boom-or-bust type of player, but this season it has been more boom than bust. In six games, Lockett has only scored 12 or more points twice. In a week 7 contest against an Arizona defense that is giving up the sixth most fantasy points to wide receivers, Lockett only managed 5.8 points in half-PPR formats. This was a disappointing outing to be sure, made more so by the fact that D.K. Metcalf was inactive for the game. Yet, it was rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba who took advantage of the star wide receiver being out, not Lockett. Njigba scored nearly 15 fantasy points and finished in the top-15 at the position. Lockett is a talented wide receiver, but the volume simply is not there with only two games of more than four catches. It is unclear at this moment if Metcalf will be available in week 8, but even if he’s not I would pivot away from Lockett. The Cleveland Browns are one of the best defenses in the league and are currently allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. We did just see rookie Josh Downs put up 125 yards and a score on five catches against this defense, with Gardner Minshew throwing him the ball, but I see that more as the exception, than the rule. Lockett is a low-end flex this week, and one I would not be eager to start.
Marquise Brown (WR)
Arizona Cardinals vs. BAL (76% Start)
After being the model of consistency in weeks 2-5 with point totals of 14.4, 14.6, 13.1, and 14.1, Marquise Brown has had a couple of down weeks, scoring a combined 11.8 points in the last two games. The volume is still there, with Brown seeing double-digit targets in four of seven games and at least seven targets in all but one. But over the last three games, as Joshua Dobbs is beginning to remind us why he’s a journeyman quarterback, the quality of those targets has diminished. Since completing nearly 72% of his passes in the first three games, Dobbs has completed just over 56% of his passes in the last four. This has had a direct impact on the production of the pass-catchers, especially Brown as the #1 target in this offense. Brown has seen 38 targets over that same four-game span, but those targets have resulted in just 11 receptions. Now Brown goes up against a Baltimore defense that is #1 against quarterbacks and top-10 against wide receivers in fantasy points allowed. The one positive is that if the Ravens continue to play as they did in week 7, they should get out to an early lead and put up a lot of points, forcing Dobbs to, once again, attempt over 40 passes, something we have seen him do just twice this year. I still don’t think it will matter because against a stout Ravens defense, Dobbs will likely have very little success completing those passes. Keep Brown on your bench.
Evan Engram (TE)
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. PIT (84% Start)
With the tight-end landscape as it is, it may be difficult to sit any player receiving the type of volume that Engram enjoys. Since week 1, Engram has been targeted at least seven times in every single game. This has translated to four top-10 finishes at the position, all of which were in the first four weeks. Since week four, Engram has been no better than a top-14 tight end. Engram has also failed to score a single touchdown this season, making him a very difficult player to get excited about. Without the yardage (he only has one game of more than 60 yards) or touchdowns, Engram has been relying solely on volume to produce. In non-PPR formats, managers were likely already sitting him, but in half and full-PPR I would recommend doing so this week as well. The Steelers are allowing the third-fewest points to the position and as part of an offense that has yet to fully click this season, I don’t see week 8 being the week the Jaguars start to put it all together. Engram should still see 7-9 targets, but those targets won’t amount to a lot of production. I would rather take a chance on an emerging rookie like Michael Mayer or Dalton Kincaid or go back to a veteran who disappointed in week 7 like Cole Kmet, than put Engram in my lineup this week.
A die hard Bears fan and fantasy sports fantastic, T.J. Besler earned his journalism (and theatre) degree from The University of Iowa. When he isn’t busy writing parodies for his YouTube channel Parodies for Charities he can be found either on stage performing or doing all things fantasy football related. Besler has traveled to nearly all 50 states either for work or leisure, and is grateful to everyone who has helped him along the way, especially his lovely wife Elsa, without whom much of this would not be possible. BEAR DOWN!