Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes.
Start of the Week: Aaron Rodgers vs. Vikings -- Fantasy’s overall QB8 in points per game, Rodgers bounced back from his rough Week 6 in Tampa Bay to hang 283 yards and four touchdowns on the Texans as Week 7’s QB8. Green Bay’s implied team total of 29 points is the week’s third-highest while the Vikings are 25th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 30th in opponent plays per game. Rodgers eviscerated this same defense in Week 1, pasting coach Mike Zimmer’s unit for 364 yards and four touchdowns as the QB2. Rodgers-to-Davante Adams stacks make a whole lot of sense in daily fantasy. Rodgers is a shoo-in QB1 play.
Ryan Tannehill at Bengals -- Tannehill has answered his big 2019 by checking in as the overall QB9 through seven weeks. The Titans are No. 4 in offensive pace and No. 8 in plays per game. With a Week 8 date against the Bengals, who are No. 11 and No. 2 in the same categories, respectively, this profiles as an up-pace, potential shootout. Cincinnati is 22nd in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 26th in pass-defense DVOA. This game’s 54-point total is the highest of Week 8 while Tennessee’s implied total of 29.75 points is second only to the Chiefs. Tannehill should be glued to season-long fantasy lineups as a top-half QB1.
Justin Herbert at Broncos -- Since taking over as the Bolts’ starter in Week 2, Herbert is fantasy’s QB4, trailing only Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, and Kyler Murray. The rookie has been tremendous outside the pocket and under pressure and is coming off 412 total yards and four touchdowns last week against the Jaguars as Week 7’s overall QB1. Denver poses a tougher threat, coming in at No. 9 in pass-defense DVOA and 17th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, but Herbert has already proved he has a safe floor and sky-high ceiling while the Chargers are playing at the third-fastest pace and running the fourth-most offensive plays. This game’s 44.5-point total is the week’s fourth-lowest, but there’s enough here for Herbert to hit.
Carson Wentz vs. Cowboys -- Wentz has tossed multiple touchdowns in three straight games and is coming off his first 300-yard day of the season last Thursday against the Giants. He’s also rushed for five scores after totaling just three touchdowns on the ground across his first four seasons. Wentz is the overall QB11 in fantasy points per game and now draws a nonexistent Dallas defense that has completely given up on its season. Dallas is 21st in pass-defense DVOA and 15th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Projected to rock the Cowboys as nine-point home favorites, Wentz shouldn’t struggle for efficiency with the Eagles implied to score 26 points, ninth-highest of the Week 8 slate. Philly is No. 7 in offensive plays per game, and Dallas is 28th in opponent plays per game. This is a ceiling week for Wentz.
Drew Brees at Bears -- The overall QB18 in fantasy points per game, Brees is coming off the QB10 week against the Panthers after short-passing Carolina to death and running in a short score. Both the Saints and Bears are bottom-five in offensive pace, and this game’s 43.5-point total is the third-lowest on the Week 8 slate. The Bears are No. 1 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and No. 3 in pass-defense DVOA. This projects as a game where the Saints hammer the ball down Chicago’s throat with Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray. Brees is fine as a two-QB league option, but he’s best treated as a mid-range QB2 in the 14-18 range.
Cam Newton at Bills -- Since returning from his bout with COVID-19, Newton is the overall QB29, recording a 0:5 TD:INT ratio as a passer and just one rushing score. Newton’s pass-game weaponry was already terrible, but it’s gotten exponentially worse with Julian Edelman now headed to I.R. following a knee procedure. Damiere Byrd, Jakobi Meyers, and Gunner Olszewski project as New England’s three-wide set with Edelman and N’Keal Harry (concussion) looking likely to sit against Buffalo. Buffalo is a middling 14th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 18th in pass-defense DVOA, but Newton’s poor play and horrendous skill group leave Cam as a mid-to-low QB2 option based solely on his rushing potential. This game’s 41.5-point total is easily the lowest on the Week 8 slate.
Matthew Stafford vs. Colts -- Stafford posted his first 300-yard game of the season last week with 340 yards in Atlanta, but it took him to the literal final play of the game to toss his lone touchdown in a cake matchup. He has just one top-12 fantasy finish on the year. Detroit is 23rd in offensive plays per game while Indy is No. 4 in opponent plays per game and coming off its bye. Only the Bears have surrendered fewer fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, and the Colts are No. 4 in pass-defense DVOA. This game’s 50-point total feels a bit on the high side. Kenny Golladay projects to see a whole lot of Xavier Rhodes, who has experienced a big bounce-back season in his first year with Indy. Marvin Jones is washed at 30 years old.
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Start of the Week: Boston Scott vs. Cowboys -- Miles Sanders (knee) missed practice all week and is very likely out for this one with the Eagles set to have their bye next week. In Sanders’ absence last week, Scott played 69% of the snaps to Corey Clement’s 22% rate. Scott turned 15 touches into 92 total yards and one touchdown against the Giants. The Eagles are massive nine-point home favorites and get to face rookie QB Ben DiNucci. It wouldn’t be shocking to see the Eagles win by three-plus touchdowns. Scott has massive upside in the volume department and should be fired up as an RB2 with top-10 potential. The Cowboys are 27th in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 30th in run-defense DVOA. Dallas also checks in at 28th in opponent plays per game. Scott will be a popular daily fantasy play.
Giovani Bernard vs. Titans -- Joe Mixon missed last week’s game against the Browns with a foot injury and has missed practice all week. In his absence, Bernard played 76% of the snaps and handled 18 combined carries and targets against the Browns, totaling 96 yards and one touchdown as the overall RB7 for the week. When given an opportunity to play RB1 snaps, Bernard has always produced in the box score. The Titans are 16th in run-defense DVOA and 23rd in fantasy points allowed to running backs. The Bengals are No. 11 in offensive pace and No. 2 in plays per game. On the flip side, the Titans are No. 4 in pace and No. 8 in plays per game. This game’s 54-point total is the highest of Week 8. Bernard should remain stapled to lineups as both a season-long option and chalky daily-fantasy play.
Jamaal Williams vs. Vikings -- With Aaron Jones (calf) out last week, Williams played 89% of the snaps and handled 23 touches against the Texans, posting the overall RB4 week. Jones missed practice Wednesday and Thursday, and coach Matt LaFleur hinted the Packers will remain cautious with him. Assuming Jones misses this one, Williams will again be an RB1 dominating the backfield playing time over rookie AJ Dillon. The Vikings are 16th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, 20th in run-defense DVOA, and 30th in opponent plays per game. Williams has 20-plus touches and multi-touchdowns upside with the Packers installed as seven-point home favorites. Green Bay’s implied total of 29 points is the week’s third-highest.
Le’Veon Bell vs. Jets -- In Bell’s first game with the Chiefs, Clyde Edwards-Helaire played a season-low 53% of the snaps and handled just eight carries. The good news is he did find the end zone after horrible touchdown luck the first month-and-a-half of the year. Meanwhile, Bell played 33% of the downs, eliminating Darrel Williams (one snap) from the offense. Expect CEH to remain the lead back, but Bell is going to make the gap closer than Williams did. CEH is more of an RB2 now moving forward, but both backs are playable in this spot with the Chiefs massive 19.5-point home favorites. Surely Bell wants to stick it to the team that released him just two weeks ago, showing up coach Adam Gase, who publicly clashed with the running back in the New York media. Coach Andy Reid should be able to make that happen. Both Bell and Edwards-Helaire could handle 15-plus touches as top-24 season-long plays.
David Montgomery vs. Saints -- Montgomery has played 85%, 81%, 85%, and 83% of the snaps in the four games since Tarik Cohen tore his ACL, seeing 24 targets in that span. The bad news is Montgomery has failed to produce anything of note in the box score with a combined 53-162-1 (3.05 YPC) rushing line across three contests with 19-120-0 receiving. At this point, it’s hard to expect much more out of him; he’s shown time and again he can’t make defenders miss. Lamar Miller remains on the practice squad, and coach Matt Nagy suggested he’s getting close. Montgomery simply isn’t getting the job done. Miller deserves a shot. It can’t get any worse. The Saints are No. 4 in run-defense DVOA and No. 7 in fantasy points allowed to running backs. New Orleans is fresh off eliminating previously-hot Mike Davis in Week 7, holding him to 36 scoreless yards on 12 touches. The Bears’ implied team total of 19.5 points is the fifth-lowest of Week 8. Montgomery sees RB2 volume but is producing like an RB4.
D’Andre Swift vs. Colts -- Swift handled a season-high 14 carries against Jacksonville in Week 6, more than doubling his previous high, and looked explosive with 116 yards and two scores on the ground. Following that performance, Swift played a season-high 45% of the snaps last week in Atlanta and punched in a three-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Adrian Peterson was in on 31% of the downs. Swift has evolved into an every-week RB3 with upside, and Peterson is an extremely TD-dependent FLEX. Swift has the most upside here and has earned even more playing time. Whether or not the Lions give it to him is a whole different story. This matchup against the Colts projects as a low-floor one. Indy is No. 4 in fantasy points allowed to running backs, No. 4 in opponent plays per game, and No. 5 in run-defense DVOA. Swift has obvious upside, but we really need to see Kerryon Johnson eliminated from the game plan, as he’s soaking up 20-25% of the snaps each week. This game projects on the lower side in total plays.
Gus Edwards vs. Steelers -- Mark Ingram played just 12% of the Ravens’ Week 6 snaps due to an ankle injury. In his absence, Edwards led the Ravens with 14 carries, playing 44% of the snaps, and scored his first touchdown. Rookie J.K. Dobbins was in on 41% of the plays and handled a season-high nine carries. This rushing attack would be so much more attractive if it were a two-man RBBC rather than a three-man. When all three are seeing snaps, none are more than RB4 plays. Ingram missed practice this week and looks doubtful to face Pittsburgh. Edwards has a chance to pace this backfield in carries, but Dobbins has more upside, and the Ravens could even get Justice Hill involved as the RB3. Edwards’ volume is shaky and with no pass-game involvement, it makes his floor scary-low. The TD upside is there, however, but the Steelers are No. 1 in run-defense DVOA and No. 3 in fantasy points allowed to running backs.
Start of the Week: Brandon Aiyuk at Seahawks -- Playing heavy snaps since his Week 2 debut, first-rounder Aiyuk is coming off his first 100-yard game last week against the Patriots, hanging a 6-115 line and looking unstoppable with the ball in his hands. The Niners are now without Deebo Samuel (hamstring), so Aiyuk should flirt with 100% of the snaps as the undisputed top playmaker on the outside. Seattle has been set ablaze by enemy wideouts all year, hemorrhaging the most fantasy points to the position and coming in at 30th in pass-defense DVOA. DeAndre Hopkins (10-103-1), Christian Kirk (5-37-2), and old man Larry Fitzgerald (8-62) all met or exceeded expectations against Seattle last Sunday night. The Seahawks are dead last in opponent plays per game. Aiyuk is an upside WR2 option.
Tee Higgins vs. Titans -- Since establishing himself in three-wide sets in Week 3, second-rounder Higgins is the overall WR8 in half-PPR points. Higgins is seeing 7.4 targets per contest in that span and has registered at least four catches in every game. The Bengals are throwing the ball 42 times a week, so there’s more than enough here to support several pass-catchers. As described above, this Titans-Bengals game has a 54-point total and projects as a high-volume potential shootout. The Titans are 28th in fantasy points allowed to wideouts and 19th in pass-defense DVOA. Diontae Johnson just hung 9-80-2 on Tennessee last week after Will Fuller (6-123-1) and Brandin Cooks (9-68-1) both found the end zone in Week 6. Higgins and A.J. Green are both solid WR3 plays on the outside for the Bengals.
Marquise Brown vs. Steelers -- Brown has seen at least six targets in each game, but he has just one touchdown and no 100-yard efforts for a Ravens Offense that is dead last in pass attempts. The good news for Brown is he and Mark Andrews are literally the only two commanding targets from Lamar Jackson. The Steelers have been elite against the run this season, but their pass defense has spring some leaks. Pittsburgh is 25th in fantasy points allowed to wideouts and just got torched by A.J. Brown (6-153-1) and Corey Davis (6-35-1) last Sunday. Travis Fulgham lit the Steelers up for 10-152-1 two weeks before that. Brown is tops in the league in air yards, so better days should be ahead. He’s a WR3 with obvious upside.
Travis Fulgham vs. Cowboys -- Since entering the lineup in Week 4, Fulgham has 73 yards and/or one touchdown in all four games and is the overall WR2 behind only Will Fuller. Averaging 11.3 targets per game over the last three weeks, Fulgham has emerged as the Eagles’ No. 1 wideout with Alshon Jeffery (calf) still yet to debut and DeSean Jackson (ankle) now on I.R. Dallas has been flamed by opposing wideouts, surrendering the fourth-most fantasy points to the position and checking in at No. 21 in pass-defense DVOA. Terry McLaurin (7-90-1), Christian Kirk (2-86-2), and Darius Slayton (8-129) have all lit up the Cowboys secondary over the last three weeks. Fulgham should be treated as an every-week WR2 moving forward.
Amari Cooper at Eagles -- Andy Dalton has a concussion, leaving rookie Ben DiNucci as the presumed starter for Week 8. DiNucci was terrible in college at Pitt before going to small-school James Madison to put himself on the draft radar as a fifth-rounder. Cooper and the entire pass offense figures to take major steps back with DiNucci under center. Dallas’ implied total of 17 points is the third-lowest of Week 8. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Cowboys fail to find the end zone Sunday night. Cooper can’t be trusted as anything more than a low-floor WR4.
DeVante Parker vs. Rams -- Parker has just one 100-yard game on the season and two touchdowns as the overall WR37 in half-PPR. But he’s now going from Ryan Fitzpatrick, who isn’t scared to throw the ball up to his alpha WR1 in contested situations, to rookie Tua Tagovailoa, an NFL unknown making his debut against a Rams unit that is No. 2 in fantasy points allowed to wideouts and 11th in pass-defense DVOA. It’s just safer to take a wait-and-see approach on Parker and this pass offense until we see Tua get a start or two under his belt, especially in a tough debut matchup. Miami’s implied total of 21.25 points is the seventh-lowest.
JuJu Smith-Schuster at Ravens -- JuJu’s 85 yards last week against Tennessee were a season-high in what is shaping up as a down contract year as a low-aDOT slot wideout between field-stretchers Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. Prior to Week 7, JuJu hadn’t topped 48 yards since Week 1. He now gets a date with slot CB Marlon Humphrey, one of the premier inside cover men in the sport. Steelers-Ravens sports a mediocre 46.5-point total that profiles as a defensive, run-oriented, NFC North slugfest. JuJu is best treated as a low-floor WR3/4.
Start of the Week: Jonnu Smith at Bengals -- Over the last two weeks, Smith has just two total catches for 22 scoreless yards on six targets but did leave Week 6 early with an injury. Smith was fine for last week against the Steelers’ stingy tight end defense, but this shapes up as a major rebound spot in a game with a 54-point total featuring two top-eight offenses in plays per game. The Bengals are dead last in fantasy points allowed to tight ends and just got lit up by Browns TEs Harrison Bryant (4-56-2) and David Njoku (2-20-1) last week after Trey Burton (4-58-1) and Jack Doyle (3-29-1) both found the end zone the week before. Smith is Ryan Tannehill’s favorite target in the scoring area and paces the Titans in red-zone targets.
Harrison Bryant vs. Raiders -- Austin Hooper (abdomen) remains sidelined after an emergency appendectomy last week. In his Week 7 absence, rookie Bryant, who won the Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end last season, played 77% of the offensive snaps and cashed in a 4-56-2 line on five targets against the Bengals last Sunday. The Browns are now without Odell Beckham (torn ACL) for the year, and the targets have to go somewhere. Baker Mayfield has always preferred to spread things around and not lock onto a No. 1 wideout. Bryant runs plenty of routes, and this game has a strong 51-point total. Bryant is a TE1 streamer.
Hunter Henry at Broncos -- The overall TE19 in half-PPR points per game, Henry has seen at least seven targets in all but one game this season, but he hasn’t topped 50 yards since Week 2 and has just one touchdown. The target volume and elite snap rate are reasons to believe better days are ahead for Henry playing with Justin Herbert, who has elevated this offense. The Broncos are 13th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends but did surrender a combined 9-97 line to Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard in Week 3 and 4-36-1 to Jonnu Smith in Week 1. Denver hasn’t faced much tight end talent outside of those two matchups.
Richard Rodgers vs. Cowboys -- With both Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert hurt last week, Rodgers played 85% of the offensive snaps and turned in a 6-85 line on eight targets against the Giants. Ertz and Goedert remain out, so Rodgers should be in line for another big role against an even worse defense. Dallas is 23rd in fantasy points allowed to tight ends and 28th in opponent plays per game. Logan Thomas (4-60-1) just busted out against the Cowboys last week. Austin Hooper and Harrison Bryant combined for 9-71-1 three weeks before that. Rodgers isn’t exciting, but there are far worse streaming options for desperate managers.
Tight end is a crapshoot, and all we’re looking for are tight ends who can find the end zone and/or see volume in terms of targets. Predicting touchdowns is the hardest thing to do in football. Just finding a tight end who is on the field enough and runs plenty of routes is difficult enough. It’s why having Travis Kelce, George Kittle, or Mark Andrews is such an advantage.