We are now halfway through the 2022 fantasy football regular season. Love it or hate it, the playoffs are looming. You’re probably reading this because you’re still in the hunt. Maybe you’re cruising along, but are looking for that first-round bye. Whatever the case may be, I’ll continue to help until you’re hopefully crowned your league’s champion.
This Love/Hate article is usually a Thursday release. It’s been a busy week for me outside of fantasy football, but started off on the wrong note with the news that New York Jets running back, Breece Hall, tore his ACL in Week 7. I, like many of you, had Breece Hall on many of my [successful] fantasy football rosters.
What a punch to the gut.
That said, I felt like I needed an extra day to get this piece out as I was managing my way toward replacing Hall. Injuries, like his, as well as bye weeks, poor play, and other news, make lineup decisions that much more crucial to successfully decide.
Sometimes you don’t have many choices as the bench options on your roster become scarce. If you do have options, though, I believe what I have to say about these players that I love and hate will help put you in a position to win your week. My track record, thus far, is pretty spot on as I continue to hold myself accountable, review each list every week on Twitter (@Colin_McT) and improve week-to-week! Let’s take a look at who deserves to start and who you should considering sitting this week.
Players I Love and Hate in Week 8 of the 2022 Season
Love: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
In his first week back to action, Prescott’s 12.28-point total is a massively underwhelming number. However, against the Detroit Lions, we should know by now that the way to beat them is through the run game. So, I’m not panicking about his Week 7 performance in his return from a thumb injury. Instead, I’m turning toward Week 8 where I think Dak will truly be back with stats fantasy managers will love.
So far this season, the Bears defense has faced Trey Lance, Aaron Rodgers, Davis Mills, Daniel Jones, Kirk Cousins, Carson Wentz and a combination of Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe. Not the most talented group of passers, right? In fact, the Chicago defense is allowing just 13.1 points to quarterbacks as a result.
Ahead of Week 8, I think Dak is fully capable of scoring 20.0 or more fantasy points at home against the Bears. Not only will he be without Ezekiel Elliott out of the backfield, but one of Chicago’s top pass rushers, Robert Quinn is the subject of a mid-week trade to the Philadelphia Eagles. That said, I think the Cowboys will lean on Dak’s arm in this one, even if that means dumping it off to Tony Pollard and letting him run for yards after the catch.
Opposing quarterbacks are running at the highest rate against the Chicago Bears defense, too. So, it’s no surprise Chicago allows the second-most rushing yards and is tied for the most rushing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks. Dak’s mobility is better than most and he can produce as a ball carrier at times. I love him to have a big bounce-back game in Week 8.
Some Extra Love:
Sam Ehlinger is a bold play for Week 8, but one I think could pay off, especially for Daily Fantasy Sports formats. He is set to takeover as the Indianapolis Colts’ starter in Week 8. His first test will be a home matchup against the Washington Commanders. They’re allowing the second-most passing touchdowns per game so far this season. Though they made things difficult for Aaron Rodgers in Week 7, Ehlinger’s group of pass catchers, in Michael Pittman, Parris Campbell, and Alec Pierce specifically, should have more success that those on Green Bay’s roster.
Washington’s defense is middle of the pack in points allowed on the road (22.7) this season. If the Colts defense can make things difficult for Commanders quarterback, Taylor Heinicke, then Ehlinger will have plenty of opportunities to move the ball on Sunday.
His rushing upside is what I love the most. In 46 games as the University of Texas’ starting quarterback, Ehlinger averaged 12 rushing attempts per game. Over 25% of his collegiate touchdowns were rushing scores, too. Now, I don’t expect such a rate with Jonathan Taylor in the Colts’ backfield, but Ehlinger’s dual-threat ability could open things up for this offense in a big way. To be clear, Ehlinger shouldn’t be in 10 or 12-team lineups. He’s a 2QB, Superflex, and DFS gamble that could really pay off as a streamer in a great matchup.
Hate: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
For the first time in his career, Rodgers is a double-digit underdog ahead of Week 8 of the 2022 season. After landing on the love side of things in Week 7, I’m here to tell you that Rodgers can head to the bench for Week 8. In addition to Green Bay’s ineptitude on offense, Rodgers is coming up short as a leader. Earlier this week on the Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers shifted the blame to others. He stated, “Guys who are making too many mistakes shouldn’t be playing, you know. Gotta start cutting some reps, and maybe guys who aren’t playing, give them a chance.”
It will be hard to get many other guys reps, especially with Randall Cobb on Injured Reserve, Christian Watson dealing with a hamstring injury, and Allen Lazard likely missing out on Week 8 action due to a shoulder injury. To make matters worse, Rodgers and the Pack are heading to Buffalo to take on the Bills who are fresh off of their bye. Their defense is arguably the best in the NFL with a league-high 10 interceptions in six games. They’ve allowed half as many passing touchdowns. I don’t know if Green Bay will turn it around this season, but I hate any prospect of them doing so in Week 8.
Love: Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins
If you’re following this Love/Hate piece on a week-to-week basis, or pay close attention to the league, you will know that running backs dominate the Detroit Lions defense. In just six games, the Lions have allowed a league-high 10 rushing scores to running backs. Raheem Mostert is in an absolute smash spot heading to Detroit in Week 8.
Aside from the matchup, Mostert is far and away the lead back in Miami now. He’s played no less than 62% of Miami’s offensive snaps in the last four games with 71% in Week 7’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. In addition to the bulk of the playing time, Mostert’s 71% route involvement is fourth-most amongst all running backs in Week 7. He’s also ninth in routes run amongst running backs this season. That’s extremely meaningful considering his teammate, Chase Edmonds, was supposed to be a pass-catching threat added in free agency. Instead, Edmonds leads the league in dropped passes.
Mostert’s upcoming schedule is mouthwatering as his next four opponents all rank in the top six in points allowed to running backs. It all starts in Week 8 against the Detroit Lions who are allowing the second-most. Mostert is a must-start the rest of the way. I love him as a trade target, too. Go get him before this weekend.
Some Extra Love:
Tony Pollard, Michael Carter, and Travis Etienne are three running backs who are set up for Week 8 success as a result of recent injuries or trades involving their teammates. Ezekiel Elliott is unlikely to suit up in Week 9 ahead of the Dallas Cowboys Week 9 bye. As mentioned before, the Jets’ Breece Hall is done for the season after a torn ACL. The Jacksonville Jaguars then traded James Robinson to the Jets to replace him.
With these recent developments, Pollard, Carter, and Etienne are in for major workloads in Week 8. They will each command playing time and volume out of the backfield that we love for fantasy football. Just in case you were on the fence, these three are must-starts regardless of matchup for Week 8.
Hate: Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns
The Cincinnati defense is tough against opposing running backs. They’re allowing the fifth-lowest average of 14.1 points per game to the position. Granted, Nick Chubb is one of the best backs of the league, but I think Kareem Hunt might get left in the dust in Week 8.
Ahead of the November 1st NFL trade deadline, Hunt’s name continues to sit at the top of the rumor list. The supposed asking price is just a fourth-round pick. With a high likeliness of Hunt heading elsewhere for the remainder of 2022, it’s possible he sees less playing time just hours before the deadline, as Cleveland will be center stage on Monday Night Football. It’s hard to predict such a thing, but there’s no need to showcase Hunt’s abilities to a prospective trade partner at this point. His health matters more.
Even if he does play, Cleveland will probably focus more on Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones to move the ball further down the field. Cincinnati allows the sixth-least receptions to running backs so I don’t expect Hunt’s pass-catching ability to be a focal point of the Browns’ offense in Week 8. Again, hold onto Hunt because his fantasy value could boom in a big way by Tuesday. I’m not starting him, if I can help it, this week, though.
Love: D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers
The D.J. Moore Week 7 breakout of 2022 is not a fluke. I love Moore to continue his success in Week 8 when the Panthers head to Atlanta to take on the Falcons. Moore has a good chance to repeat his WR9 finish from Week 7 in Week 8 against a defense allowing the most touchdowns to wide receivers (11) through seven weeks.
Christian McCaffrey’s 25% target share was vacated from the Panthers’ offense upon his trade to San Francisco last week. Without McCaffrey on the field for the Panthers in Week 7, Moore dominated the passing volume with 10 targets. In a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Moore’s 47.6% by far led all Panthers in the win.
The volume should continue in Week 8’s divisional bout. The Panthers obviously won’t have McCaffrey, or Robbie Anderson, since trading them away. Additionally, though, Chubba Hubbard isn’t likely to play with an ankle injury and no other wide receiver is a legitimate threat to Moore’s workload. If the Falcons are also without top cornerback, A.J. Terrell, due to an injury of his own, Moore will feast again in Week 8.
Some Extra Love:
Michael Gallup continues to increase his workload upon return from last year’s season-ending ACL injury. He’s played an average of 12 more snaps in Weeks 6 and 7 than in Weeks 4 and 5 when he made his initial comeback. Given my above take on Dak Prescott, I think Michael Gallup will have correlating success in Week 8.
In Dak Prescott’s return last week, Noah Brown led all Cowboys with seven targets. Ahead of Week 8, however, Brown is dealing with a foot injury that’s held him out of practice. Assuming he sits, Gallup should see an uptick in playing time and targets, as well. Just last year, Gallup averaged nearly seven targets per game on an offense with Ceedee Lamb and Amari Cooper. I love Gallup in Week 8, but think he’s a must-start if Noah Brown is out.
Hate: Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers
Similar to Kareem Hunt, Claypool remains heavily involved in rumored trade talks around the NFL. With the Tuesday trade deadline, Claypool could be suiting up for a wide receiver-needy team as soon as Week 9. Claypool is just 17 total snaps behind Diontae Johnson for the Steelers this season. Furthermore, his 24 total targets from Weeks 5 through 7 are four more than his total in the first four weeks combined. It definitely feels like Claypool is being showcased as of late for other teams.
If his role continues Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, Claypool will either draw Darius Slay or James Bradberry in coverage. Prior to the Eagles’ Week 7 bye, the defensive duo both ranked top-five in passes defended this season. Bradberry, who I expect to primarily stick with Claypool, was tied for first in defended passes with New York Jets cornerback, Sauce Gardner.
The Eagles defense is arguably the best in the league. They’re allowing the second-least amount of points to quarterbacks. They have the second-most interceptions (9) behind only the Bills, as well. It’s going to be a long day for Steelers’ quarterback, Kenny Pickett. There’s a chance Claypool benefits from junk time and a high-volume of short-yardage caught passes. Either way, Claypool’s ceiling is the lowest it’s been in weeks. Leave him on the bench and let’s hope he ends up securing a larger role on a different team by next week.
Love: Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings
I will take every chance I get to promote a common streaming tight end when they go up against the Arizona Cardinals. The matchup is one I love to exploit for fantasy football purposes. This certainly isn’t the first time I’ve picked a tight end against the Cardinals here. Irv Smith Jr. is just the next man up in Week 8.
The Arizona Cardinals are allowing the most receptions, yards, and touchdowns to tight ends this season. The six touchdowns allowed are just one shy of a one-per-week average in 2022 thus far.
In addition to the matchup, Irv Smith’s snap count continues to hover around 64% in the past three games. That’s up from the first three weeks following early-August thumb surgery that got him off to a slow start this season. After the Vikings’ bye-week rest, Smith should be that much more comfortable with his role in this offense. With two weeks to prepare for a home matchup against the Cardinals, who allow the sixth-highest points per game, I love Smith to be the next tight end to put up big points against them in Week 8. He is my favorite streamer of the week at the position. I’m boldly predicting he finds the end zone not once, but twice in Week 8.
Some Extra Love:
Greg Dulcich is starting to look like he can be an every-week starter for fantasy football purposes. Since making his NFL debut in Week 6, Dulcich has seen an increase in snaps played, targets, receptions, and yards in the last two games for the Broncos. That’s also with two different quarterbacks under center, Russell Wilson and Brett Rypien, for each contest.
The rookie appears to be operating at the Bronco’s TE1 until further notice. He will take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in London in Week 8 on Sunday morning. Regardless of who is under center, Dulcich is likely to be the third option in Denver’s passing game, especially with their receiving back, Mike Boone, landing on Injured Reserve. He’s worth streaming and even holding, through the team’s Week 9 bye. I love his schedule the rest of the way, especially for the fantasy football playoffs.
Hate: Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills
Contrary to Irv Smith Jr. coming off of his bye, I hate plugging Dawson Knox into my Week 8 lineup this week after his week off. This is, more than anything, matchup-based reasoning. The Bills are hosting the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. Albeit double-digit favorites, the Packers are one of three teams who have yet to allow a touchdown to a tight end this season. Additionally, tight ends are averaging just three receptions per game when up against Green Bay’s defense.
Aside from the matchup, Knox is extremely touchdown dependent this season. Excluding Week 5, in which Knox did not play, his 20 total targets this season account for just a 10% target share in games he has been active. He’s averaging just 7.16 points per game with just one touchdown to his name this season. The Buffalo Bills offense is mighty crowded. Knox will get lost in the mix yet again in Week 8 and I hate his chances of finding the end zone to make starting him worthwhile.