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Week 8 Sleepers and Busts: Riding With Keke

With the NFL season approaching its midway point, injuries are taking a toll. Many of the names on my Week 8 sleepers and busts lists are ones you would not have even considered a couple of weeks ago, much less back in August. But you must be able to adapt to succeed. Hopefully, you find yourself in a situation where you do not need to make drastic changes to your lineup. However, if you are looking for a spark, consider some of the players on my sleepers list this week. They should produce better numbers than they are currently being given credit for in weekly projection models. There are several bits of injury news that may affect some of my sleepers and my busts, so make sure to pay attention to the latest news as we get closer to kickoff.

More fantasy goodness for NFL Week 8: Michael Florio’s Week 8 Rankings | Week 8 IDP Sleepers | Week 8 Flex Rankings | Scott Engel’s ROS Rankings | Mick Ciallela’s Week 8 Rankings | Week 8 FAAB Guide | Week 8 Waiver Wire

Week 8 Sleepers and Busts

Sleeper Quarterbacks

Ryan Tannehill (My rank: QB10; Expert Consensus Rankings: QB14)

Ryan Tannehill looked good in his first start of the year last week. He surpassed 300 yards with an impressive 10.8 yards per attempt against the Chargers. Tannehill utilized his wide receivers far more effectively than Marcus Mariota had been. Corey Davis and A.J. Brown each had season highs in targets last week. That is why I like Tannehill against Tampa Bay in Week 8. The Buccaneers have struggled to contain wide receiver production all season long. They have allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts. At the same time, they have been a very formidable run defense. The Bucs have held opposing running backs to a league-low 2.72 yards per carry. This funnel effect will likely lead to more passing attempts for Tannehill this week. I am expecting Ryan Tannehill to finish as a low-end QB1 this week.

Teddy Bridgewater (My rank: QB11; ECR: QB16)

Teddy Bridgewater is undefeated in five starts since taking over for the injured Drew Brees. Brees is lobbying to return this week, but I am expecting the Saints to hold him out through next week’s bye for his thumb to fully heal. If Bridgewater does indeed get the start, he will be a worthy streamer this week. He has been far more of a game manager than a gunslinger, but his Week 8 opponent is a good one. Five of seven quarterbacks to face the Arizona Cardinals have posted QB1 finishes. They have allowed 8.0 yards per pass attempt and have intercepted just one pass on the year while giving up 17 touchdown passes. Pay attention to the news surrounding Brees in the next couple of days. But as long as Bridgewater gets the nod, I would be confident in starting him this week.

Bust Quarterback

Jacoby Brissett (My rank: QB14; ECR: QB10)

Jacoby Brissett has been fantastic this season and is on pace to lead the league in touchdown passes. He is fresh off a four-touchdown performance last week against the Houston Texans. Brissett is a solid option this week, but I would caution against chasing last week’s points. Brissett ranks 21st in passing yards and has thrown for fewer than 200 yards in half of his games this season. His fantasy production is largely tied to his elevated touchdown total, which figures to come down this week. The Denver Broncos have permitted the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year and have ceded just six passing touchdowns in seven games. The odds of Brissett posting another multi-touchdown game are quite slim in this matchup. Because of that, he slips out of my top-12 this week.


Sleeper Running Backs

Carlos Hyde (My rank: RB18 in Standard; ECR: RB24)

Carlos Hyde disappointed last week against Indianapolis but finds himself in a much better spot heading into Week 8. Hyde will face the Oakland Raiders. Oakland has been an up-and-down fantasy defense against running backs this season. I would expect Hyde to benefit from the game’s likely script. Hyde, not surprisingly, has performed much better in Houston victories this season. In standard scoring, Hyde has scored a total of 45.9 fantasy points in four victories (11.48 per game) compared to just 18.4 fantasy points in three losses (6.13). The Texans are favored by nearly a touchdown this week, making Hyde an easy start for me in standard leagues. I would start him in PPR leagues but would move him down a notch or two in that format.

Joe Mixon (My rank: RB23 in Standard; ECR: RB29)

YOLO. Oh, I’m guessing you need more than that. Listen, I get it. It’s not an easy sell. Mixon has totaled (yes, totaled) 12 rushing yards in his last two games and finished with fewer than 20 rushing yards in four of seven games. He also does not have a rushing score on the year. I just have a feeling he has a decent showing in this game. The Rams may be a bit overconfident following last week’s drubbing of Atlanta and may be looking forward to next week’s bye. Bengals head coach Zac Taylor will want to impress his former employer and prove his offensive mettle. It is admittedly little more than blind faith and a hunch, but I can see Mixon putting up double-digit fantasy points this week.

Mark Walton (My rank: RB31 in PPR; ECR: RB43)

Mark Walton ran for 66 yards against a tough Buffalo defense last week and is earning more trust from the coaching staff. In the meantime, the time has entertained trade offers for Kenyan Drake. Walton should continue to earn at least a timeshare with the possibility for much more in the near future. He is still owned in fewer than half of all Fantrax leagues and should be added where available. He can also be started this week in the Flex spot depending on your other options. Miami’s upcoming matchup in Pittsburgh is not necessarily imposing. The Steelers have been in the middle of the pack against running backs. If you are in a bind and need a fill-in for Ezekiel Elliott or Mark Ingram, Mark Walton could the guy you are looking for.


Bust Running Backs

Josh Jacobs (My rank: RB24 in PPR; ECR: RB11)

Josh Jacobs is averaging over 100 yards from scrimmage per game in his rookie campaign and has back-to-back games with 120-plus yards on the ground. But he is dealing with a worrisome shoulder injury and has yet to practice this week, which is a bad sign heading into the weekend. Jon Gruden may decide that discretion is the better part of valor and hold Jacobs out of this game, with an eye towards the future. The Raiders are still in contention in the AFC Wild Card race and have several winnable games in November. They may be better suited to give Jacobs a break and have him be close to 100 percent next week. This is also a late game, meaning that if he is a gameday inactive, it may put owners in a bind. I would steer clear of Jacobs this week if possible.

Ty Johnson (My rank: RB28 in Standard; ECR: RB20)

Ty Johnson was the most popular waiver wire pickup of the week in many leagues. I would just caution those expecting too much right off the bat, particularly in the wake of Chase Edmonds coming out of nowhere to finish last week as the overall RB1 in this same matchup. As evidenced by Edmonds, the New York Giants are a relatively good matchup for running backs. However, we do not exactly know how the Lions backfield is going to shake out quite yet. Johnson has a lot of physical tools, but without knowing he will be a 15-plus touch guy, it is hard for me to consider him a top-20 fantasy running back. I expect about a 60-40 split in touches between Johnson and J.D. McKissic. That leads me to consider Johnson a Flex play for me in all formats rather than a rock-solid RB2.


Sleeper Wide Receivers

A.J. Brown (My rank: WR34 in Standard; ECR: WR40)

A.J. Brown has struggled with consistency a bit this year. That is not unexpected from a rookie wide receiver, especially one dealing with questionable quarterback play. Brown had season-highs in targets and receptions last week with Ryan Tannehill under center. The two showed good chemistry and I think Brown is in line for another solid effort in Week 8. I have already discussed Tampa’s pass funnel tendencies, and I believe Brown will be the primary beneficiary. Brown should get the most work against Vernon Hargreaves, who has been Tampa’s biggest liability in coverage. Quarterbacks have a 120.8 rating when targeting Hargreaves this season. Brown is still not getting as many snaps as you would like from a fantasy wideout, but he will make the most of them in this matchup.

Keke Coutee (My rank: WR35 in PPR; ECR: WR49)

If you had Week 7 in the “When would Will Fuller get injured?” pool, collect at the window. Fuller is expected to miss several weeks, which will open things up for Houston’s other receivers. DeAndre Hopkins and Kenny Stills are properly ranked in my opinion. Keke Coutee, however, is not. Coutee is averaging 35 snaps per game this year compared to 44 last year. I think he is in for a big bump in terms of both snap count and target share. With that will come increased production. That begins this week in a cake matchup against Lamarcus Joyner. Out of 122 cornerbacks who have seen at least 20 percent of their team’s snaps, Joyner ranks 119th according to Pro Football Focus. Over 80 percent of passes thrown at Joyner this year have been completed. I am expecting a big day out of Coutee, particularly in PPR leagues.


Bust Wide Receivers

Robby Anderson (My rank: WR39 in PPR; ECR: WR34)

I had Robby Anderson in this space last week and unfortunately, I was proven correct. Anderson will have a better go of it this time around, but I’m afraid he will still disappoint fantasy owners this week. The Jets travel to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars. Jacksonville dealt shutdown corner Jalen Ramsey to Los Angeles, but they still have A.J. Bouye in the fold. Bouye has struggled at times this year but is still an upper-echelon cornerback. It would make sense for Jacksonville to use Bouye to shadow Anderson rather than play sides with Tre Herndon. Demaryius Thomas is nowhere near the downfield threat than Anderson is. Leaving Herndon on Thomas would make more sense to me. If you are starting Anderson, you are hoping he gets loose for a deep ball, but that is an iffy proposition. There are safer options this week.

Jarvis Landry (My rank: WR50 in Standard: ECR: WR39)

Jarvis Landry is ranked considerably lower this week than his on-field production would warrant. And yet, I do not think it is low enough. New England has proven time and again that they are not a secondary you want to go against. They have allowed just one touchdown pass this entire year and have allowed the fewest yards per catch to opposing wideouts. Slot receivers have struggled to solve cornerback Jonathan Jones. Jones has given up just 230 yards on 36 targets this year. I do think Todd Monken is clever enough to come up with a wrinkle or two in this game, especially with the extra week to prepare. But Baker Mayfield has struggled mightily this year, and this matchup does not figure to help matters. I do not expect Landry to put up numbers worthy of starter consideration this week.


Sleeper Tight Ends

Josh Hill (My rank: TE16 in PPR; ECR: TE25)

First up on the Week 8 sleeper list at tight end is Josh Hill of the New Orleans Saints. This is seemingly the ultimate test of “player versus matchup”, sort of the “nature versus nurture” of the fantasy world. Hill has the best matchup you can ask for against the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona has allowed 141 more yards to tight ends than the next highest team has. For reference, the San Francisco 49ers have allowed 134 total receiving yards to opposing tight ends. Arizona has also allowed twice as many touchdown passes to tight ends than the next highest team has. In short, start your tight ends against Arizona. That includes Hill, who finished last week as a top-10 tight end in a good matchup. I would not be surprised to see him turn the trick again this week.

Jonnu Smith (My rank: TE17 in PPR; ECR: TE24)

Tennessee will likely roll with Jonnu Smith at tight end this week. Smith is expected to start in place of the injured Delanie Walker. The third-year pro is an athletic freak who has shown glimpses in limited action. Even as a bit player, Smith has surpassed 50 receiving yards in two of his last three games. He should get plenty of opportunities to shine if he is given the start. Did I mention that Tampa has problems controlling opponents in the passing game? Well, that extends to the tight end position also. The Bucs have allowed 497 yards to tight ends this year, good for second-most in the league. Smith makes for a solid streaming option and dirt-cheap DFS play.

Cameron Brate (My rank: TE17 in Standard; ECR: TE36)

O.J. Howard popped up on the injury report with a hamstring injury, which is worrisome since Tampa Bay is coming out of a bye week. If Howard is unable to take the field, Cameron Brate would be in a prime position to produce. Tennessee has given up four touchdowns to tight ends this season, which is tied for second-most in the NFL. Brate has outscored Howard on the year, in large part because of the damage he does in the red zone. Tennessee may be the perfect opponent for Brate based on his skillset and role in the offense. Beware that Brate has a low floor, but he could provide some scoring upside in this matchup.


Bust Tight End

Greg Olsen (My rank: TE14 in PPR; ECR: TE10)

Even with the dumpster fire that tight end tends to be each week, I cannot recommend starting Greg Olsen in Week 8. Olsen will have to deal with the San Francisco 49ers and their stifling defense. The 49ers have allowed the fewest receiving yards to opposing tight ends and have given up just one touchdown to the position this year. Olsen himself has not exactly been the model of consistency in recent weeks. The veteran has averaged just 19 receiving yards over his last three contests. Between his recent poor performance and his difficult matchup, Olsen would be best left on fantasy benches in Week 8.

Who are your Week 8 sleepers? Throw us a few names in the comments below. You can’t talk the smack if you don’t call it ahead of time.

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