Fantasy Football: Five Week 8 matchups to exploit

By Jeff Hicks, 4for4

Special to Yahoo Sports

Schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed, or aFPA, is 4for4’s answer to biased statistics. By removing bias, we can level the playing field and compare matchups in an "apples-to-apples" manner. As the season moves along, the data will change. Regardless, aFPA is arguably the best tool available to gain an edge when using waivers and building lineups.

Another point to make: I could offer players such as Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes pretty much every week, especially when they face awful units according to aFPA. That does everyone a disservice, so I will do my best to avoid players rostered in the majority of fantasy leagues.

Here are the best plays for Week 8.

Tua Tagovailoa @ Detroit Lions

The Lions continue to stink defending pretty much anything, but even limiting Dak Prescott to 207 passing yards does not say much when you allow 19 completions on 25 attempts. Tagovailoa is one game in after missing a few weeks and has two premier wideouts to toss the ball to, with only one Lions defensive end to be concerned with. The Lions’ 30th-ranked aFPA against quarterbacks allows 7.7 yards per attempt, second-worst in the NFL. Their 9.2 YPA is the worst over the past three weeks, and their 8.0 home YPA trails only the Cardinals.

The Dolphins as an offense are wheels-up Week 8, but Tagovailoa is the distributor of the fantasy points.

Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard vs. Chicago Bears

Both deserve notice because Chicago is still bad against the run. The Bears' defense is a run funnel to target as the 26th-ranked defense in running back aFPA. The rest of the defense is 11th or better against quarterback, receiver and tight end. Chicago’s pass rush is one of the weakest in the league, and a run-first attack to soften the front seven will create chunk plays for Prescott and the Cowboys' passing game. And as we saw in New England on Monday Night Football, another strong showing by Chicago will open the passing game to running backs; Rhamondre Stevenson finished with eight receptions on eight targets.

Editor's note: Something to monitor here will be Ezekiel Elliott's status for Sunday's game after he missed Wednesday's practice with a knee sprain.

Tre’Quan Smith vs. Las Vegas Raiders

Chris Olave is the alpha in the Saints' receiving corps, even if/when Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry return. Landry is the closest of the two to play in Week 8, but if he misses another game, Smith is in a position to see a healthy amount of targets opposite Olave. The Raiders' defense allows 33.7 fantasy points per game to wideouts in half-PPR formats. Smith has succeeded with Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston under center when given an opportunity. Smith had 4/105/0 Week 3 with Winston and 5/59/0 Week 7 with Dalton. The Chiefs and Chargers wideouts on bye will leave fantasy managers searching for a one-week boost. Smith is slightly off the radar for waiver claims and could see 4-7 targets in Week 8 with the Raiders producing on offense.

Saints WR Tre'Quan Smith could be in a favorable fantasy situation this week.
Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith could be in a favorable fantasy situation against the Raiders in Week 8. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Irv Smith Jr. vs. Arizona Cardinals

It would be easy to light this column on fire and make Chris Myarick the top option for Week 8 because the Seattle Seahawks allow 5.5 more schedule-adjusted fantasy points to tight ends than Arizona, constituting the two worst against the position. The issue is the Giants losing another pass catcher with Daniel Bellinger out indefinitely; plugging a lesser-used tight end is too risky. Smith has had four-plus targets in six of seven games played, including six consecutive contests. The Vikings are coming off their bye, while the Cardinals got a pseudo-bye playing Week 7’s Thursday night game. Not as much of an advantage coming off the bye, but Arizona struggles against QB, RB and TE, and just allowed Andy Dalton to turn back the clock on their home turf.

Travis Kelce and Gerald Everett are consistent tight ends on bye, and few have the chance to get closer to their production off the waiver wire than Smith.

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Washington Commanders defense @ Indianapolis Colts

The Commanders have had the opportunity to beat up on bad/injured offensive lines the past few weeks and get to do so again in Week 8 in Indy. Add on that the defense also gets to face Sam Ehlinger in his first career start.

This matchup would have been enticing no matter the starter, as the now-benched Matt Ryan was an easy target due to his turnovers and inability to escape pressure as an aging signal caller. Only the Rams allow more schedule-adjusted fantasy points to opposing defenses than the Colts. Ehlinger is going to be running (for his life) as a low-ceiling, low-floor QB behind one of the worst offensive lines. The difference between Washington’s sack percentage and Indy’s sack percentage allowed is one of the best defensive matchups in the NFL this week. The Commanders should force Ehlinger to pass the ball despite being one of the worst pass defenses because that will allow Montez Sweat and company the ability to pressure the unproven QB.

Honorable Mentions

P.J. Walker @ Falcons

Saints QB vs. Raiders

Kirk Cousins vs. Cardinals

Raheem Mostert @ Lions

Lions RB vs. Dolphins

Tyler Allgeier vs. Panthers

Melvin Gordon III vs. Jaguars

Latavius Murray vs. Jaguars

D.J. Moore @ Falcons

Brandin Cooks vs. Titans

Allen Robinson II vs. 49ers

Chris Myarick @ Seahawks

Tanner Hudson @ Seahawks

Mike Gesicki @ Lions

Cade Otton vs. Ravens

Juwan Johnson vs. Raiders

Adam Trautman vs. Raiders

Dolphins defense @ Lions

Jaguars defense vs. Broncos

Jets defense vs. Patriots

Colts defense vs. Commanders

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Jeff has played fantasy sports since 2001. He has covered fantasy and traditional sports at the pro, semi-pro, and amateur level for the better part of a decade. Born in Illinois and currently living where James Robinson made a name for himself in college, Jeff enjoys running (establish it), followed by doing absolutely nothing.

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