It may be hard to believe, but we are already at the halfway point of the fantasy football regular season. Time flies when half your roster is on Injured Reserve. I think that’s how the saying goes. Anywho, there is no crying in fantasy football (except on Twitter) and your league mates will give you no quarter. So make some lemonade out of those lemons and maximize your chances to win this week. Below are my Week 8 Flex rankings. I have ranked the top-250 options, so leagues and lineups of all sizes should be well represented. I will adjust these on Sunday morning, so bookmark this page and refresh before the early games get started. In the meantime, you can always comment below with any questions you have on your specific teams. Let’s get to it!
Running Back Notes
I was very curious to see how the Atlanta Falcons would split work between Cordarrelle Patterson and Mike Davis coming out of their Week 6 bye. As much as I believed in Patterson, I was worried that Davis was still the “1A” in terms of opportunities. After all, Davis had at least 15 opportunities in every game before the bye. I also figured the return of Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage would eat into Patterson’s workload. Well, I am happy to report that was not the case. The Falcons gave Patterson 19 opportunities in last week’s victory, while Davis had just four. I can’t declare Davis dead and buried from a season-long standpoint quite yet, but I certainly want no part of him in Week 8. We saw how low the floor can be, as Davis was the RB62 a week ago.
I thought I was high on Khalil Herbert last week, as I considered him a borderline Flex play against the mighty Tampa Bay Buccaneers run defense. But the sixth-round rookie far exceeded my expectations, finishing the week as a top-10 fantasy running back. Herbert has now rushed for at least 75 yards in three consecutive games. That is a feat that David Montgomery has accomplished once in three seasons as a Chicago Bear. I am not saying we have a Wally Pipp situation on our hands once Montgomery returns from his knee injury. However, Herbert has certainly cemented himself as the Bears’ back to start in Montgomery’s absence. I ranked Herbert inside the top-50 in my Week 8 Flex rankings, and I believe fantasy managers should start him in virtually all circumstances for as long as Montgomery remains sidelined.
The Houston Texans traded running back Mark Ingram to the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday. It seems odd to think that a team trading their leading rusher will have a minimal fantasy impact, but that certainly seems where we’re headed with this deal. Despite leading the Texans’ rushing attack, Ingram is just the overall RB48 on the year. He may actually have more value as a backup in New Orleans, as strange as that may sound. Alvin Kamara is on pace to obliterate his career-high in rushing attempts, so Ingram’s presence may allow New Orleans to lessen the burden on Kamara. And Ingram knows the Saints’ offense well, having spent his first eight NFL seasons there. I have Ingram on the outside of Flex range looking in this week, as the Saints face the aforementioned Buccaneers. However, he could be an option in easier matchups.
As for the Houston side of the deal, David Johnson appears to be the primary beneficiary. He sits just behind Ingram at RB50 on the year, so he should rise as the season goes on. His upcoming matchup is a bit more friendly than one might expect against a defense that features Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd. The Los Angeles Rams have allowed 137.9 scrimmage yards to opposing running backs this season. They have struggled in particular against pass-catching backs, as evidenced by D’Andre Swift’s overall RB2 outing a week ago. Johnson is second on the Texans in receiving yards this season and has proven to be an adept receiver throughout his career. Still, I can’t quite bring myself to recommend Johnson as a Week 8 Flex unless you are painfully thin at running back.
If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? If Miles Sanders misses time due to his ankle injury, do fantasy managers notice? Sanders has more rushing yards than D’Andre Swift does this season. Yet Swift enters the week as the overall RB3 in half-PPR formats, while Sanders toils as a borderline RB3 in 12-team leagues. The Eagles simply do not give their running backs opportunities for whatever reason. With Sanders expected to miss this week’s game, Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott are expected to share the load. The matchup is great against a Detroit Lions defense that has allowed an NFL-high 12 touchdowns to opposing backs. I just don’t know if I trust either to get enough touches to warrant starting this week. If I had to start either as a Flex, I would prefer Gainwell, but I don’t feel great about it.
Wide Receiver Notes
The New York Giants are still dealing with several injuries to their receiver group. I am hopeful that Sterling Shepard will suit up for Monday night’s matchup in Kansas City, and have ranked him as a WR3 in 12-team leagues. However, relying on Shepard to recover quickly from an ailment has not exactly been a winning formula over the years. That the game is being played on Monday will likely complicate matters further. If you wanted to avoid the headache and simply forget about Shepard this week, I wouldn’t blame you. Darius Slayton led New York in receiving last week and finished as last week’s WR35. I currently have Slayton outside my range of recommended Week 8 Flex plays, but I may move him up on Sunday morning depending on what we hear regarding Shepard and Toney.
The Green Bay Packers have some depth issues at wide receiver heading into their Week 8 showdown in the desert against the Arizona Cardinals. Their top two wideouts, Davante Adams and Allen Lazard will miss Thursday’s game due to Covid protocols. For now, I have Randall Cobb as a fringe WR3 given Green Bay’s depleted receiving corps, so he could be worth playing this week. Green Bay may be getting Marquez Valdes-Scantling back off injured reserve in time for Thursday’s contest. If they indeed clear him, he would be a borderline Flex as well. Valdes-Scantling would be his normal boom or bust self, whereas Cobb would have the higher floor, especially in PPR formats. The absence of Adams and Lazard may do more for the Flex prospects of their other pass catchers than they do for Cobb and/or MVS.
Tight End Notes
Was I just talking about other Green Bay pass catchers potentially benefitting from Adams and Lazard missing Thursday night’s game? Well, enter Robert Tonyan. “Baby Kittle” has been a disappointment so far in 2021. He enters Week 8 outside the top-20 among tight ends in fantasy points. But this could be a bounceback opportunity for the fourth-year pro. It may not seem like it, but Aaron Rodgers has targeted Tonyan at the same rate this year as he did during the tight end’s 2020 breakout. The pair just have not been on the same page for whatever reason. Tonyan caught 88.1 percent of his targets a season ago. This year, that number sits at just 60 percent. Tonyan did set season-highs in receptions and yards as part of National Tight End Day on Sunday, so perhaps some of that 2020 synergy is coming back around.
Tonyan will most likely have to contend with the duo of Isaiah Simmons and Jordan Hicks. Arizona has allowed the fewest fantasy points in the NFL to opposing tight ends, largely on the strength of the coverage skills of their linebackers. However, I think the projected volume of looks is enough for me to feel good about starting Tonyan this week. Rodgers will be without his security blanket in Adams, and Tonyan should be one of the players that Rodgers looks to fill that void. There is also the possibility that Arizona uses their linebackers a bit more to pressure Rodgers given the loss of J.J. Watt. Either way, I like Tonyan’s prospects for a productive fantasy day. I do not normally advocate for starting a tight end in a Flex spot, but there are worse options than Robert Tonyan this week.
Week 8 Flex Rankings
|45||Michael Pittman Jr.||WR24||IND||TEN|
|101||Amon-Ra St. Brown||WR55||DET||PHI|
|135||Equanimeous St. Brown||WR71||GB||@ARI|
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