Another week up. Another week down. I hope you all tasted victory in Week 7. It was a mixed bag for me. My key start suggestions paid off, but a few slipped through the cracks **cough** Andy Dalton! **cough**. What an absolute travesty that game was. Outside of that my tight end suggestions were rather successful. Who doesn’t like being right? So much is happening in the NFL this week, too. Cooper’s trade to Dallas & Lynch being placed on IR have far reaching implications for the Raiders. It looks like Jon Gruden has managed to successfully con Mark Davis into allowing him to build a team from scratch now. I’m so sorry Raiders fans. You all deserve better. I could talk about these moves for quite some time, but that’s not my job today. I’m here to get you geared up and ready for Week 8. So let’s get to it.
The “Byepocalypse” is nearly upon us. The armbands of that dreadful storm are reaching us as there are four teams on bye this week, and it’s time to batten down the hatches. This is the stretch of weeks where boys become men. Warning: some dart throws ahead!
Baker Mayfield @ Pittsburgh Steelers – FD: $7,200 | DK: $5,700
If you took the chance and started Mayfield last week, odds are you had a pretty decent week! He benefited from Overtime play, but was pretty efficient for the majority of the game completing 23-of-34 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns, with 43 yards on the ground. Though the Browns lost, Mayfield did his job for your fantasy squads. He’s still available in about 60% of leagues, and he comes at a reasonable cost in DFS for Week 8. These are all favorable factors for putting Mayfield in your lineups, but the best aspect is his match-up. He’ll be up against the Steelers’ defense that remains one of the easier match-ups for quarterbacks to exploit. Through the first 7 weeks of the season they’ve allowed quarterbacks to average for 305 passing yards and 2.5 touchdowns. The divisional game at Heinz field gives me a bit of pause, but Mayfield will be forced to throw in this game which typically equates to fantasy points.
Mitchell Trubisky vs. New York Jets – FD: $7,700 | DK: $6,100
Trubisky has a similar game to Mayfield in Week 7. He was fantastic for fantasy purposes finishing as the QB #2 of the week, but wasn’t able to lead his team to victory. He was, however, so close! He ended the contest against the Patriots with 333 passing yards, 3 total touchdowns (two passing, one rushing), 81 yards rushing and two interceptions. A chunk yardage hail mary heave at the end of the game gave his statline a bit of a boost, but overall it was a successful fantasy week for the second year QB. The match-up against the Jets is not one to worry about, although your Trey Burton’s might have a bit of a down week. The Jets have had a rather solid defense against tight ends. Even still, Mitchell and the Bears shouldn’t have much of a problem putting up points against the Jets. They haven’t been able to establish a solid run game so far, so the Bears will try to exploit the Jets’ young secondary. This game has a mild aroma of a shootout, and Mitch should be a reliable asset in Week 8.
Derek Carr vs. Indianapolis Colts – FD: $6,900 | DK: $5,200
Now you might be asking yourself. Has he lost his mind? The answer is yes, and I’m here to bring you down to my level. The brutal reality here is plain and simple. The Colts’ defense is not good. They can, and should, be taken advantage of. Derek Carr, despite being on an actual dumpster fire of a team, is still a competent quarterback, and still wants to win football games. With Lynch now on IR and Cooper traded away, Carr will be getting back to basics. The Raiders’ defense can’t exactly stop anything either, so Carr will be in passing situations early on. It’s not pretty, but this is the reality when we’re in the deeper ‘Bye Weeks’. Carr could be a great Week 8 start.
Aaron Rodgers @ Los Angeles Rams – FD: $8,600 | DK: $6,400
I fully acknowledge that putting him here breaks the overarching “rules” of this article series, but playing Rodgers this week is a pure contrarian play in DFS tournaments. He’s currently project to be started in 1.43% of DFS leagues, because the Packers are going up against the “Big Bad Wolf” of the NFL. It’s great timing, really. The Rams had a superb Sunday against a weakened, tired San Fran offense, and all of a sudden people think they’re infallible. That’s not the case. Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson, and even Case Keenum have all been able to put up fantastic numbers against Rams. I highly doubt that one of the all time great quarterbacks of our generation will not be able to get something going on Sunday in LA. He’s pricey, but people are shying away from him because of the match-up not the price. This game should be high scoring, and Rodgers should be able to make his magic happen.
Andy Dalton vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – FD: $7,800 | DK: $6,200
If you started Dalton on Sunday night I’m sorry. Apparently Dalton is 0-8 on Sunday night games. The Red Rocket was not meant for prime-time liftoff. As such, I will never, ever consider him as an option when starting those games. But I’m a major proponent of second chances. Fortunately for him (and us), the Bengals are facing off against a truly bad Bucs’ defense this week, at home, and at 1pm. All the boxes for a solid fantasy performance are checked for this matchup. The Bucs just allowed rookie Baker Mayfield to go off against them with his limited receivers. Dalton should be able to make quick work of the Bucs’ D, and the same goes for Winston against Cincy’s defense. Signs point to a shootout, and that boils down to fantasy points. Dalton is owned in roughly 74% of leagues, so he might still be available to scoop up off of waivers. He’d be a QB1 today if he had even a mediocre outing against the Chiefs. As it stands, he’s sitting as the QB #13 in Standard Leagues.
Hail Mary Quarterback of the Week
Sam Darnold @ Chicago Bears – FD: $6,700 | DK: $4,500
Hey Darnold! I’ve waited all season to say that. Somehow Darnold is cheaper than his rookie counterpart Josh Allen in DraftKings, and Allen in’t even playing this week! The hate has gone too far, and I think this game is a sneaky play for the young gun. He’s coming off of a horrible start against the Vikings at home, and I understand everyone’s hesitation around him. But don’t forget that he has been able to exploit weaker defenses, and allow yourself the flexibility to consider the Bears as a weaker defense now. With Mack’s health in question, it only gets weaker. Good grief! Freaking Brock Osweiler was able to put up 380 yards and three scores against them! I understand it’s a risk, but that’s what this segment is for. Nobody will use him in DFS, and unless you’re in a three quarterback league, odds are he’s easily available in your season long leagues too. I say he’s worth a shot.
Chris Herndon @ Chicago Bears – FD: $5,400 | DK: $2,800
It’s hard to ignore Herndon’s growing involvement in the Jets’ offense. He’s scored twice in two weeks, and was a foot shy of having two touchdowns in last week’s contest against the Vikes. The Jets’ receiving corps is slowly dwindling. Pryor has been released. Enunwa is likely to sit out this contest. Bilal Powell has been placed on IR. Though the Jets just signed Rishard Matthews it’s too much to expect him to waltz into this offense and become a reliable option in a handful of days. Last week Herndon saw 7 targets, and that’s what we chase here: targets. I anticipate a similar game for Herndon this week against a Bears’ defense that’s about middle of the pack against the tight end position.
Benjamin Watson vs. Minnesota Vikings – FD: $5,400 | DK: $3,100
Finally! Watson connected with Brees in the red zone for a touchdown in Week 7 against his former Ravens team. It was a long time coming. Here’s to having that connection flourish this week against the Vikings. The Vikings are, frankly, bad against the tight end position. The match-up is fantastic, as this game should be of the high scoring variety. I fully expect Watson to build off his Week 7 performance, and would not be surprised if he found the endzone once again.
Vance McDonald vs. Cleveland Browns – FD: $5,300 | DK: $3,700
Vance has emerged as Big Ben’s primary tight end. In their game against the Bengals before the Bye, Vance corralled 7-of-8 targets for 68 yards. Watching this monster tight end work after the catch is a wonder to behold. He’s truly a “bull in a china shop”, wrecking defenders trying to bring him down. He reminds me of an Oliphant at the Battle of Pelennor Fields when the entire Rohirrim is needed to bring one of them down. (I’ve been way overdue for a Lord of the Rings analogy). Jesse James is still taking targets away from Vance, but Vance is far and away more talented between the two. His production at the end of this game should indicate as much. McDonald is also available in roughly 60% of leagues, so there’s a very good chance he’s chilling on your waiver wire. Go get him.
C.J. Uzomah vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – FD: $5,400 | DK: $3,800
Sunday evening wasn’t pretty, but Uzomah saved his night with a four-yard touchdown reception. A red zone look is a red zone look. That’s not something to be neglected especially given the tight end landscape this week. Now the Bengals face the Bucs on Sunday. Every year there’s a team that you start your tight ends against. This year it appears to be the Bucs. Their defense is hemorrhaging points. Uzomah needs his target numbers to bounce back to what they were in Week 6 for him to have a solid start, but I expect this to be a pass happy game where the targets are flowing. CJ should be a relatively safe play this week with high upside.
Hail Mary Tight End of the Week
Ricky Seals-Jones vs. San Francisco 49ers – FD: $5,000 | DK: $3,000
More like “Risky Seals-Jokes” am I right? He’s a risk, yes, but one that could pay off handsomely this week against a 49ers defense that has to be utterly defeated after the Rams’ route on Sunday. Obviously his health is something to monitor as we head into Week 8, but if he’s active I think he’ll be someone to seriously consider. He’s emerging as one of Rosen’s favorite targets, and is currently the 11th most targeted tight end on the season. An additional ‘unknown’ is the offense as a whole. Now that Steve Wilks is gone I expect better things for the Cardinals, which translates to better things for RSJ.
QB/TE Combo for Week 8
Let’s establish a pattern. Last week I suggested the QB/TE stack in Mayfield & Njoku against the woeful Bucs’ defense. That worked out pretty well, if I do say so myself. Call me crazy, but the matchup this week is just as juicy. Dalton and Uzomah is the stack to start for Week 8. I can’t stress enough just how bad the Bucs’ defense is, and a lot of players are going to fade on Dalton based on Sunday night’s abysmal performance. Their combined low ownership percentage, and high upside potential makes them a perfect candidate for the Week 8 QB/TE stack. Here’s to Dalton having bounce-back performance!