We are now halfway through the fantasy football regular season. Every team will take the field in Week 8 without any byes limiting us from options on our rosters. Identifying risers and fallers to help guide difficult lineup decisions can help keep our teams on the right path toward the playoffs. As always, I’ll also name one player on the hot seat. If they don’t turn things around soon, we may be sending them to free agency.
Week 8 Risers, Fallers, and Who is on The Hot Seat
Jonathan Taylor, Running Back, Indianapolis Colts
Three weeks into his return to action, Jonathan Taylor is starting to show signs of his old self. In Week 7, Taylor and Zack Moss played the same amount of snaps after Taylor played just 43 to Moss’ 92 in Weeks 5 and 6. More importantly, Taylor found the end zone for the first time in 2023 on his way to 21.0 PPR points. He logged six red zone carries without Moss seeing any in a competitive 39 to 38 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Jonathan Taylor is playing under a newly signed $42 million contract that should have him leading this backfield the rest of the way. If you’ve survived the fantasy football season to this point with an above .500 record and Taylor on your roster, take a breath. Things get easier with Taylor showing signs of being a major riser.
Assuming you make the fantasy football playoffs, Taylor gets a home matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the quarterfinals as well as a home matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders in the finals. Their defenses both currently rank inside the top eight in fantasy points allowed to running backs.
Kendrick Bourne, Wide Receiver, New England Patriots
Over the past two weeks, Bourne’s 35.6 PPR points landed him inside the top 10 receivers during that span. Bourne is proving to be the most reliable target in the Patriots’ passing game. Granted, Juju Smith-Schuster remains out with injury, but the Pats reportedly turned down offers for Bourne this past off-season further proving the value they see in him.
Bourne’s 51 targets account for just a 20.9% target share, but the next highest number of targets from any player on New England is tight end Hunter Henry’s 31 targets. This wide receiver riser needs to be added to fantasy football rosters in every format immediately if available based on volume alone.
While it’s tough to justify starting him over other options with every team playing in Week 8, Bourne does get a juicy matchup with the Miami Dolphins who allow the eighth-most points to receivers, including the third-most receptions to the position. With a few teams on bye in Week 9, Bourne should be in lineups against the Washington Commanders who have allowed a league-high nine touchdowns to wide receivers and the fourth-most points to the position.
Dalton Kincaid, Tight End, Buffalo Bills
While it’s unfortunate tight end Dawson Knox is set to miss time with a wrist injury, it opens the door for rookie Dalton Kincaid to be a riser for fantasy football. His Week 7 stat line is a sign of things to come full of season-highs across the board. That includes targets (8), receptions (8), and yards (75), though we’re still waiting for his first career touchdown.
Knox and Kincaid both have 27 total targets this season. That’s about an 11% target share on the Bills’ offense. However, Kincaid’s eight targets this past week account for 20.5% of the team’s targets, second hold behind Stefon Diggs. With Knox unavailable for the foreseeable future, Kincaid’s role should expand enough for fantasy managers to expect a low-end TE1 floor each week.
Tua Tagovailoa, Quarterback, Miami Dolphins
News broke earlier this week that wide receiver Tyreek Hill could miss time with a hip injury. It’s since been reported he will play. However, it’s worth noting that if Hill were to miss time at any point, removing the best wide receiver in the game from Tua’s arsenal would make him a big faller in fantasy football.
Tyreek Hill’s receiving production accounts for 902 of Tua’s 2,092 passing yards (43%) and seven of his 15 touchdown passes (46%) this season. More importantly, that production supports 46.6% of Tua’s fantasy points this season, helping land him at QB6 in points-per-game rankings thus far.
Even with Hill expected to play, all three of Tua’s next three matchups rank in the bottom 12 in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks this season. Tua now has three games with 15.0 or less fantasy points and could fall as far as serving as a streamer rather than a set-and-forget player at quarterback with a continued stretch of tougher matchups.
DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver, Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans are heading into Week 8 without quarterback Ryan Tannehill available due to an ankle injury. It will be a combination of rookie Will Levis and Malik Willis under center with Levis expected to start. This situation is a significant downgrade to their already 25th-ranked scoring offense that also ranks last in pass attempts per game (27.5) this season.
Despite the Titans’ offensive woes and having already had his bye, Hopkins still ranks inside the top 30 amongst wide receivers in total targets. He should still see plenty of volume from Levis/Willis, but a much lower quality of targets. Hopkins is a faller for fantasy football unless by some miracle the Titans include him in a possible fire sale before the October 31 NFL trade deadline.
Kyle Pitts, Tight End, Atlanta Falcons
After back-to-back games of 15.7 and 14.3 points in Weeks 5 and 6, Pitts’ 7.7-point performance is just another disappointing outing from the third year tight end. Week 7 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a game in which the eighth overall pick, running back Bijan Robinson, barely played due to a headache and Pitts only managed four targets in their big division win. With an early NFC South title lead on the line, Pitts was a non-factor.
Pitts’ Week 7 score looks like it will be more of the norm moving forward making him a faller for fantasy football. Prior to the Falcons’ Week 11 bye, Pitts faces the Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings, and Arizona Cardinals. They all rank in the bottom half of the league in points allowed to opposing tight ends, the Titans and Cardinals of which both rank in the bottom eight.
The Atlanta Falcons offense is unreliable and Pitts’ usage is unpredictable. You’re probably still starting him given how lackluster most tight end options are this season, but you’re going to continue hoping he scores a touchdown. He has just one this season.
The Week 8 Hot Seat
Calvin Ridley, Wide Receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars
After coming off of draft boards on average in the third round this summer, Calvin Ridley now sits as the WR46 on a points-per-game basis heading into Week 8. He has four games of 7.0 or fewer points in PPR formats. Since scoring 24.1 points to open the season, Ridley has just 52.1 points total in six games since. His teammate, wide receiver Christian Kirk, has scored 101.06 points over the last six games after just 1.9 in Week 1.
Even with Ridley on my Week 8 hot seat, I’m still plugging him into my starting lineup. While Kirk is racking up most of the points between the two, Ridley has just seven fewer targets on the season. His Week 8 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers is also a great opportunity to bounce back before the Jaguars’ bye. The Steelers allow the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. If Ridley is to regain any trust from those who drafted him, he needs to do so in Week 8.