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Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens

Commissioner’s Corner: Week 8 Fantasy Football Start ‘em or Sit ‘em

Brady, Gronk, and Evans make the list

Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is primed for another big fantasy football week against a highly vulnerable New York Jets team
| Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

It’s week 8, and it’s already starting to look bleak across the NFL. We’re now dealing with our 4th team dealing with positive COVID tests. First it was the Tennessee Titans, and they almost completetly derailed the schedule, but the NFL did a great job putting it back together and moving bye weeks around. Then it was Cam Newton and the Patriots, Raiders had some cases which caused the Bucs to lose the Sunday Night Football game, and now it’s the G-men!

When the Titans COVID issue came up, they were going to play the Pittsburgh Steelers. The fantasy blogs were blowing up with so many questions about how to manage teams, and if they can put those players on IR spots to save them and so much more. As a League Commissioner in two leagues myself, I had to field a bunch of those questions and I gotta admit it was a bit frustrating. I don’t know any more than you all do as managers.

So.....before you go off and start asking your league commissioner a bunch of questions that we don’t know the answers to, be sure to read up on what you need to consider from week to week as we deal with the pandemic reaction.

In an article published by Keith Lipscomb of ESPN.com, he reports what your fantasy league would need to consider in 2020. A couple of pointers are - make sure you use IR slots, utilize more flex spots, and heavily consider your backup players should a game being postponed. Each game postponed due to COVID should be considered a bye week. So, pay attention to your lineups.

Let’s get into our week 7 starter recap......it was a good one!

Starter Recap

Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins scored 18 fantasy points in week 7 leaving owners very happy
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Matthew Stafford was my quarterback spotlight for week 7. He connected with receivers 25/36 times for 340 yards. Not too shabby for a QB2 on a mediocre team. Kenny Golladay is his biggest weapon, and they finally figured out how to utilize D’Andre Swift which left the old man Adrian Peterson benched for most of the game.

Stafford scored a sustainable, but not overly impressive 17 FPTS. He only threw for 1 touchdown, but no interceptions which he’s only been able to do one other time this year. They’re playing a vicious Indianapolis Colts defense in week 8, so don’t count on much happening on the Lions front this week.

For our running back spotlight, I had you starting none other than Ronald Jones II. I actually have him starting in 2 of my leagues. Both of which I won in this week.

So it would seem that Leonard Fournette would come out and play more as he seems to be recovered from the ankle injury. RoJo accounted for about 40% of the snaps while Fournette got around 30%. It does seem that Fournette was just a tad bit more effective with his time out on the field though with 11 carries and 6 receptions gaining him 15 FPTS.

RoJo had 13 carries for 34 yards and only 1 reception, but he did end up seeing the end zone which gave him 10 FPTS on the day against the Raiders.

This was a throwing field day for Brady. He was able to pick apart the Raiders along the seem all day long. Loved the corner throws to Gronkowski and Miller. No doubt the running game will make its return. It’s all situational football with this team this year, and its working out in their favor.

Tee Higgins was our wide receiver starter of the week. I tried to pick this guy up, but he wasn’t available on any of my league’s waiver wires, but surprisingly still only on 75% of active rosters. At least my fantasy managers are reading my articles! But, I digress.....

Higgins still seems to be the primary weapon for rookie quarterback and first overall pick, Joe Burrow. He’s a consistent weapon and is hauling in an average of 5 catches a game for an average of 14 yards per catch. He scored 18 FPTS last week after catching for 71 yards and a touchdown. Him and A.J. Green are a lethal combination, and I expect great things from this young man. I still play Higgins over Green though.

Our tight end starter was Detroit Lions T.J. Hockenson. This kid is starting to look more and more impressive. The Falcons ranked 30th against tight ends, and it showed. Hockenson scored for the 4th time in 6 games. He caught 5 passes for 59 yards and a touchdown racking up 16 FPTS.

He managed to score big against the worst tight end defense. He’ll be in Detroit to face the best team against tight ends, so reserve your expectations for Hockenson. If you have to play him, expect it to be low. He’s currently projected 10 FPTS, but realistically I would say he’ll get around 5.

OH and just to touch on my jaw dropping benching last week. George Kittle is currently the second best tight end in fantasy value. He was facing a top tight end defense, which proved itself by holding him to only 10 FPTS. 16 other tight ends scored the same or higher than he did, including Denver BroncosAlbert Okwuegbunam who scored 13 and Logan Thomas who scored 16. Exactly......who? Both of which are still sitting in fantasy Free Agency.

Let’s get into our week 8 fantasy football starters.

Quarterback

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Start: Tom Brady (QB5), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. New York Giants)

These past couple of weeks are playing right into Brady’s hands. If there are any 2 weeks you want to air out the ball, its against the Raiders who allowed 369 yards to Tom Brady and the Bucs offense, and the New York Giants who allowed 346 yards against the Eagles.

The Giants pass defense is currently ranked 21st in the league allowing an average of 251 yards to opposing teams. The Giants have absolutely no genuine pass rush and no relevant secondary. I don’t even know who they have now after Eli Apple left.

Brady is going to light this defense up like a Christmas tree! He scored 44 FPTS last week, and has finally become the QB1 all fantasy owners want to own. Even with Godwin out with the broken finger, he still has Scotty Miller, Mike Evans, and his new weapon in rookie Tyler Johnson. Antonio Brown will be a nice insurance policy to have when he can start playing in week 9.

Sit: Matthew Stafford (QB23), Detroit Lions (vs. Indianapolis Colts)

Unfortunately, it seems Stafford is a love/hate play at fantasy quarterback. He’s heavily dependent on the matchup. He won’t be able to rely on his top weapons this week as T.J. Hockenson is facing the no. 1 top defense against tight ends. And.....wouldn’t you know it, the Colts are the top ranked defense against quarterbacks too.

There are 64% of you out there that own Stafford, and you are hearby warned. Bench him and play one of the many other quarterbacks still on your waiver wire like Burrow, Mayfield, or even Minshew.

Running Back

Houston Texans v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Start: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB10), Kansas City Chiefs (vs. New York Jets)

If you’ve been wondering who to play since the Chiefs picked up Le’Veon Bell, let me squash all your concerns. Like my man at NFL.com, Adam Rank, I’m also going to continue riding the Edwards-Helaire train.

Edwards-Helaire (pronounced EE-Laire), is currently scoring an average 14 FPTS per game. He’s got 103 on the year with 551 yards through 7 games. Last week he scored 12 FPTS against a decent Denver front-4 with 46 yards and a touchdown. The Jets are ranked 25th against opposing running backs, so I expect big things from the rookie.

Sit: Mark Ingram (RB47), Baltimore Ravens (vs. Pittsburgh Steelers)

I’m just going to lay down the bottom line here. Any quarterback or running back playing against the Steelers needs to be benched. They have the best overall defense in the league, and are locking it down in all elements of their game. The Steelers are currently ranked 2nd against opposing running backs. They are 5th against opposing quarterbacks.

Not only is Ingram facing the Steelers, but he was also diagnosed with a high ankle sprain back in week 6. He’s questionable for week 8 after coming off of the bye week, but it doesn’t seem like anything is really working in his favor right now. He’s only been able to break double digits in fantasy points twice this year.

Wide Receiver

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Start: Mike Evans (WR21), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. New York Giants)

With Godwin benched, you start Evans. This is a great matchup for him regardless. The Giants are ranked 23rd against wide receivers this year. Despite his low score last week, Brady will find Evans for at least 6 catches on 75 yards.

He’s currently projected 13 FPTS with 4 catches and 1 touchdown. If you add the 2 additional grabs for 75 yards, you’ll get about 16 or maybe 17 points out of him this week.

Brady will still circulate the ball. Gronk, Miller, Brate, and Johnson will all see it but him and Evans have been working on their communication since day one and I have no doubts he’ll be a primary threat down the seam against a very weak Giants defense.

Sit: JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR32), Pittsburgh Steelers (@ Baltimore Ravens)

There are going to be some fans paying big money to see this game. This is arguably one of the better games of the week, and I’m excited to see if the Ravens can actually take it to the Steelers and knocking them down a peg.

I leaned pretty heavily on Smith-Schuster in my keeper league. He was the one player I got to retain, but outside of week 1, he has not been a consistent top performer. I need consistency!

Whoever picked up Chase Claypool, you’re brilliant! Keep playing him. He seems to be Big Ben’s new favorite toy, but just like Brady, Roethlisberger is loaded with weapons. Also just like Brady, he’ll continue to spread it around.

I’m rollin with my man Adam Rank on this one and saying sit JuJu against the Ravens. The Ravens are ranked 9th against opposing wide receivers only allowing 159 average total yards per game. Amongst all receivers, that’s ridiculously low. They’ve also only allowed 3 total touchdowns all season. Two of those were against the best offense in the league, the Kansas City Chiefs.

Tight End

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Start: Rob Gronkowski (TE11), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. New York Giants)

I know you all are laughing now. I keep going back and forth on Gronk, but as of my last Gronk start in week 5 he’s been electric. In what was presumed to be a perfect matchup against the Bears, he only scored 8 FPTS. Since then Brady managed to connect with him in the end zone in consecutive weeks.

The streak will continue and he’ll see paint again against the G-men despite how well they’re ranked against tight ends. The Giants also don’t normally face too many 12 personnel teams either.

Gronk is currently projected 12 FPTS with 4 receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown. Sounds about right. Might be a good time to go pick him up if he’s sitting on your waiver wire.

Sit: Jonnu Smith (TE4), Tennessee Titans (@ Cincinnati Bengals)

I started becoming a Jonnu Smith believer. I picked him up in a few of my leagues, but I found myself looking for replacements these past couple of weeks. He scored 2 FPTS in week 6 against the Texans, and only 1 last week against the Steelers. Both are really good defenses, so I can’t completely blame him.

A.J. Brown is back from injury and the primary target for Tannehill who is on fire this year. Plus, Smith has been splitting routes with Anthony Firkser so it’s really hard to trust him in lineups right now.

He’s projected 9 FPTS, so if you just need an edge scorer on an already solid lineup (which i doubt you have), then keep him in. Otherwise, try and find another starter for week 8. Keep him, just bench him. Maybe use him as a trade token since he does still carry overall value as a pass catcher.

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