Start and Sit
The best players to target and avoid on your fantasy rosters (with impact from venues, weather forecasts, and opponents).

Start and Sit: Week 8

Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Weather isn't often a major factor in fantasy matchups in September and October, but last Sunday's snow game in Denver seems to have opened the floodgates (and windgates, if those are things that exist). The Falcons and Panthers look like they will just dodge the 25- to 35-mph sustained winds that Tropical Storm Zeta are bringing to the region just hours earlier this afternoon, but they could have rain. So too could the Patriots and Bills on Sunday in Buffalo. More important than that, the entire northeast has heavy projected winds this Sunday that could make passing difficult for the Patriots, Bills, Titans, Bengals, Raiders, Browns, and especially Vikings and Packers. Consider those forecasts before you lock the affected quarterbacks and receivers into your lineups this week.

The following tables feature the players with the best and worst matchups of the week. Each listed player shows a true-talent (TT) ranking that represents how I would rank him with a perfectly neutral game context. Then, that ranking is adjusted by adding the context of the venue (Ven) -- home and road and dome and outside -- the forecasted weather (Wea), and opponent tendencies (Opp). The line beneath those rankings shows how much those contextual factors move projected PPR fantasy points. That total (Tot) number gives you a comprehensive estimate of how many fantasy points the player will score this week more or less than his typical total.

You can see our full weekly projections with projected stats, matchup adjustments and fantasy points by subscribing to FO+.


Quarterbacks

Best Week 8 Matchups - Quarterbacks
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
C.Wentz PHI 1 DAL Rk 7 7 7 3  
Pts   0.0 -0.2 +2.1 +1.9
P.Rivers IND 0 DET Rk 25 21 20 20  
Pts   +1.0 0.0 +0.4 +1.4
N.Foles CHI 1 NO Rk 18 17 17 12  
Pts   -0.1 -0.3 +1.7 +1.3
A.Rodgers GB 1 MIN Rk 9 10 10 7  
Pts   -0.2 -0.3 +1.7 +1.2
K.Cousins MIN 0 GB Rk 22 23 23 17  
Pts   -0.4 -0.3 +1.3 +0.6

Carson Wentz has rushed for five touchdowns in his seven games this season, an unsustainable total that may have fantasy players underrating how much he has struggled as a passer. Visually, he hasn't looked as sharp this year as he has in the past, but I'm still willing to place most of the blame for his passing inefficiency on his offensive line. Andre Dillard and Brandon Brooks have been out all season. Isaac Seumalo and Jason Peters have been on injured reserve -- although Peters could return this week. And Lane Johnson has dealt with ankle and now knee injuries. Widespread offensive line injuries would disrupt a quarterback whenever they happened, but the Eagles have faced a series of opponents perfectly fitted to exacerbate the issue, including top-10 pass-rushing teams in Washington (10.8% adjusted sack rate, second), the Rams (8.3%, sixth), the Steelers (11.0%, first), and the Ravens (7.8%, ninth). The Cowboys (6.1%, 18th) this weekend should make things much easier; they generally increase passing yards and touchdowns per attempt by 10% and 55% and cut interceptions and fumbles per attempt by 84% and 29%. With that plus matchup, playing at home, and playing at night after the winds in the region die down, Wentz vaults from seventh in my true-talent quarterback rankings to third this week.

Aaron Rodgers and Kirk Cousins would figure to be the highlighted plus quarterback plays this week. They play each other, and so they should each benefit from the other's defense -- the Vikings boost passing yards and touchdowns by 20% and 49% per attempt, and the Packers do the same by 3% and 2% while critically also cutting interceptions by 60% per attempt. The problem is Green Bay's weather forecast. With a 34-degree Fahrenheit kickoff temperature and expected sustained winds upward of 26 mph, Rodgers and Cousins may not be able to accurately throw the ball down the field. Both teams are in the bottom third of DVOA run defense, so it wouldn't be shocking to see both teams adjust to run-heavy game plans. High winds generally cut pass plays and bump run plays by 2% apiece, and these teams are well equipped to take that to greater extremes. I wouldn't outright avoid the quarterbacks, or at least not Rodgers. But their other matchup benefits should be muted unless the forecast changes.

Worst Week 8 Matchups - Quarterbacks
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
D.Brees NO 0 CHI Rk 12 14 14 21  
Pts   -0.5 -0.3 -1.5 -2.3
M.Ryan ATL 0 CAR Rk 11 12 13 16  
Pts   -0.9 -0.3 -0.9 -2.1
J.Goff LAR 0 MIA Rk 16 18 18 22  
Pts   -0.5 -0.3 -1.2 -2.0
B.Roethlisberger PIT 0 BAL Rk 21 21 21 23  
Pts   -0.4 -0.3 -1.2 -1.9
T.Brady TB 0 NYG Rk 5 6 6 8  
Pts   -0.9 0.0 -0.3 -1.2

Drew Brees and Jared Goff may be my two quarterbacks most cited for their home/road splits. They have averaged 5.4 and 1.2 more fantasy points per game at home than on the road since 2017, and since they both play their home games in a dome, their atypically extreme splits follow logic. On the road in Chicago and Miami this week, Brees and Goff fall from 12th and 16th in my true-talent rankings to outside the top 20 at the position.

But they demand fewer words this week than Ben Roethlisberger, who has reasserted his fantasy value by throwing more than two touchdowns on average per game coming off his 2019 elbow injury. Roethlisberger developed a reputation for his extreme home/road split, but it turns out that extremeness only manifested from 2014 to 2016 when he averaged 10.7 more fantasy points per game at home than on the road. The five years prior, he averaged just 1.7 more fantasy points per game at home than on the road, and in the three-plus years since, he has averaged 1.9 more at home than on the road. I don't know if that three-year period captured something about the Steelers offense of the time or whether it was simply randomness -- even with the length of the trend, it still represented just 20 or so games at home and on the road. But either way, I don't think Roethlisberger is an automatic sit on the road in your deeper formats. He just happens to be one this week in the road in Baltimore. The Ravens are a top-five decreaser of opponent completion percentage, yards per attempt, and touchdowns per attempt, and Roethlisberger falls to 23rd at the position because of it.


Running Backs

Best Week 8 Matchups - Running Backs
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
K.Hunt CLE 1 LV Rk 4 3 3 2  
Pts   +0.3 -0.1 +1.2 +1.4
D.Henderson LAR 0 MIA Rk 19 19 19 13  
Pts   0.0 0.0 +1.4 +1.4
D.Cook MIN 0 GB Rk 3 5 5 4  
Pts   -0.1 0.0 +1.1 +1.0
D.Henry TEN 0 CIN Rk 2 2 2 2  
Pts   0.0 -0.1 +0.9 +0.8
T.Gurley ATL 0 CAR Rk 15 15 15 11  
Pts   0.0 -0.1 +0.8 +0.7

Kareem Hunt, Dalvin Cook, and Derrick Henry are poised to be three of the big winners of the heavy northeast winds this weekend. Cook and Henry don't need the help, nor that of their plus opponent matchups against the Packers and Bengals, to earn top-five fantasy consideration. And really, Hunt may not either while Nick Chubb is sidelined -- his 66.2% carry share since Week 5 with Chubb out is seventh-highest at the position. Still, I don't hate to see Hunt match up with the Raiders on Sunday. In my mind, the Raiders have overtaken the Panthers as the best running back matchup in football. They are the No. 6 booster of yards per carry (13%) and No. 1 booster of touchdowns per carry (102%). And they have allowed all six of their opponents this season to rush for two scores.

With so many of the best backs enjoying excellent matchups, you may be surprised to find Darrell Henderson just outside of my RB1 tier at 13th in my rankings this week. If that's the case, I suspect it's half true-talent and half opponent. It feels like Henderson is in a three-player time share with Malcolm Brown and Cam Akers, but practically, it doesn't matter. Henderson has seen at least 14 touches in five of his six games since his Week 2 breakout. And he deserves them. His 4.7 yards per carry may only barely edge Brown's 4.2 and Akers' 4.3 rates. But the former's 60.9% success rate laps those of Brown (49.2%) and Akers (46.2%) and is fourth-best of the 67 running backs with 25 or more carries this season. His versatility in different downs and distances and as a pass-catcher should keep him busy, and that should be especially true this Sunday against a Dolphins team with an extreme defensive split. With cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Byron Jones finally both healthy, their defense is up to sixth in DVOA against the pass. But they are the worst defense against the run in football.

Worst Week 8 Matchups - Running Backs
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
J.Conner PIT 0 BAL Rk 12 12 12 19  
Pts   0.0 0.0 -1.3 -1.3
E.Elliott DAL 0 PHI Rk 7 8 8 8  
Pts   0.0 -0.2 -0.5 -0.7
D.Swift DET 1 IND Rk 13 14 13 15  
Pts   -0.1 0.0 -0.5 -0.6
A.Peterson DET 1 IND Rk 34 34 34 37  
Pts   0.0 0.0 -0.6 -0.6
D.Montgomery CHI 1 NO Rk 9 9 9 9  
Pts   +0.2 -0.1 -0.7 -0.6

Since they all catch passes, none of James Conner, Ezekiel Elliott, D'Andre Swift, nor David Montgomery suffers too precipitous a fall in fantasy this week despite difficult matchups against the Ravens, Eagles, Colts, and Saints, all top-12 in DVOA against the run. But unless you are in a PPR format, I'd consider benching Swift in your leagues this week. Despite taking 14 and nine carries the last two weeks -- the most and second-most of his rookie season -- he has taken fewer than veteran power back Adrian Peterson and has remained in the 35%-to-45% offensive snap share he has been in all season. I think Swift's extra carries may have been the result of the Lions' positive game scripts in wins against the Jaguars and Falcons. Things may not be so easy against the No. 5 overall DVOA team in the Colts.


Wide Receivers

Best Week 8 Matchups - Wide Receivers
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
C.Ridley ATL 0 CAR Rk 14 14 16 7  
Pts   -0.7 -0.3 +2.1 +1.1
A.Thielen MIN 0 GB Rk 6 9 8 3  
Pts   -0.6 +0.1 +1.5 +1.0
C.Beasley BUF 1 NE Rk 43 38 37 36  
Pts   +0.4 +0.1 0.0 +0.5
R.Anderson CAR 1 ATL Rk 13 13 12 8  
Pts   -0.5 +0.1 +0.9 +0.5
T.Fulgham PHI 1 DAL Rk 16 15 14 14  
Pts   -0.4 0.0 +0.8 +0.4

I wouldn't worry too much about which Falcons and Panthers receivers to choose for their matchup against each other tonight. Both are in the bottom half of teams in DVOA pass defense, and while Julio Jones missed the Week 5 game between the two teams, all three of Calvin Ridley, Robby Anderson, and DJ Moore had at least 93 receiving yards that week. Ridley and Anderson make the top five of wide receiver gainers this week since the Panthers seem relatively weaker versus No. 2 and deep receivers -- cornerback Donte Jackson is allowing just 5.9 yards per target this season -- and because the Falcons simply don't have a standout cover corner.

You may not be able to avoid all of the wind-affected receivers this week. And if that's the case, I would probably rather roll with Adam Thielen and Cole Beasley relative to their DFS prices than Justin Jefferson and Stefon Diggs. Jefferson regularly played in the slot in college, but his 12.8-yard average depth of target shows how much of his value comes down the field. That isn't any different than Thielen (14.1), but Thielen has the superior 29.2% target share this season that is top-five in football. He could volume his way to decent production, even if he has more misses than usual. As a slot receiver, Beasley trails that group with a 7.6-yard aDOT and could become the focal point of a Bills passing attack meant simply to expand the running game in tough conditions. That approach would match up nicely with a Patriots defense with its strength at outside corner.

Worst Week 8 Matchups - Wide Receivers
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
T.Lockett SEA 1 SF Rk 8 8 9 12  
Pts   -0.4 -0.1 -0.9 -1.4
K.Allen LAC 0 DEN Rk 2 3 3 6  
Pts   -0.7 0.0 -0.6 -1.3
S.Shepard NYG 1 TB Rk 33 33 33 38  
Pts   -0.3 0.0 -0.9 -1.2
C.Claypool PIT 0 BAL Rk 26 26 26 30  
Pts   -0.1 -0.3 -0.6 -1.0
A.Cooper DAL 0 PHI Rk 19 23 21 23  
Pts   -0.5 0.0 -0.4 -0.9

In his first game back from a turf toe injury, Sterling Shepard reasserted himself as the Giants' No. 1 receiver with eight targets versus just six combined for Darius Slayton and Golden Tate. In 10 games with Daniel Jones at quarterback since 2019, Shepard is averaging 7.8 targets, 5.2 catches, 53 yards, and 0.40 touchdowns. That makes him a true-talent WR3 when he's healthy, but he falls from that perch this week facing the Buccaneers. Regular Football Outsiders readers likely know that the Bucs led football in run defense DVOA last season, but they are up to No. 1 against the pass this year as well. Young cornerbacks Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean are allowing just 4.2 and 5.3 yards per target, both in the top 15 of 97 corners with 10 or more targets. That gives the Bucs blue-chip players at all three levels of their defense and could make Monday night a difficult one for Shepard and all of the Giants passing game.

It hasn't taken long for rookie receiver Chase Claypool to catch the attention of defensive coordinators. The Titans proved that last week when they shadowed him with their best cornerback Malcolm Butler, and that seemed to work since Claypool saw just a single target. Or maybe it was the fact that Diontae Johnson was back healthy. It's difficult to sort out the Steelers receivers, and it's just as difficult to figure out which pieces of the Ravens secondary will go where on Sunday. Marlon Humphrey is the team's top cover corner, but he traditionally has followed JuJu Smith-Schuster even when he's lined up in the slot. The Ravens may opt to cover Claypool with their third corner Jimmy Smith since Smith is the closest to Claypool's size at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, assuming Smith can play with his Achilles injury. But it may not matter too much. The Ravens cut yards per target by 17% to No. 1 receivers, 5% to No. 2 receivers, and 25% to slot receivers. Every piece of the Steelers passing game could fall short of their normal standards this weekend.


Tight Ends

Best Week 8 Matchups - Tight Ends
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
T.Kelce KC 1 NYJ Rk 2 1 1 1  
Pts   +0.1 -0.3 +1.1 +0.9
R.Tonyan GB 1 MIN Rk 13 13 13 8  
Pts   0.0 -0.2 +0.9 +0.7
N.Fant DEN 1 LAC Rk 12 11 11 8  
Pts   +0.1 0.0 +0.4 +0.5
R.Rodgers PHI 1 DAL Rk 14 14 13 12  
Pts   +0.1 -0.1 +0.2 +0.2
J.Graham CHI 1 NO Rk 6 6 6 4  
Pts   0.0 -0.1 +0.3 +0.2

Noah Fant's breakout sophomore season has been disrupted by an ankle injury, but when he has found the field in Weeks 1 to 4 and Week 7, he is top-six among tight ends with both his 19.5% target share and 12.3 average PPR points per game. I may be too low on him in general with his 12th true-talent ranking, but he jumps into the top 10 this week facing a Chargers defense that is allowing a top-10 DVOA rate to opposing tight ends and is a top-five booster of completion percentage, yards per target, and touchdowns per target to the position.

Richard Rodgers won't enjoy quite the same boost as Fant this week, but the Cowboys are just as bad at covering tight ends (28.8% DVOA, 31st) as they are covering No. 1 (17.6%, 25th) and No. 2 receivers (46.7%). And even before the matchup boost, Rodgers was a sneaky-good TE2 option with both Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert sidelined. Last week in the same situation, Rodgers had an 85% offensive snap share and 19.5% target share that was top five at the position.

Worst Week 8 Matchups - Tight Ends
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
M.Andrews BAL 1 PIT Rk 4 4 4 7  
Pts   +0.1 -0.3 -1.1 -1.3
T.Hockenson DET 1 IND Rk 8 7 7 14  
Pts   +0.5 0.0 -1.6 -1.1
H.Hurst ATL 0 CAR Rk 5 5 5 6  
Pts   -0.2 -0.2 -0.5 -0.9
J.Cook NO 0 CHI Rk 9 10 11 11  
Pts   -0.2 -0.2 -0.2 -0.6
E.Ebron PIT 0 BAL Rk 18 18 18 18  
Pts   -0.1 -0.1 -0.1 -0.3

You never want to get too pessimistic for Mark Andrews' fantasy fortunes. There just aren't enough top-tier tight ends to drop him further than the seventh-place ranking I have him this week. But the Steelers truly are one of the opponents to try to avoid with your tight ends in fantasy. They are allowing the lowest DVOA to opposing tight ends, and when they were third in that respect last year, Andrews had one of his just six games (out of 15 -- he sat out the Week 17 rematch after the Ravens had clinched their playoff seeding) without either 50 receiving yards or a touchdown.

Among the normal TE1s you might consider sitting, T.J. Hockenson has a matchup about as bad against the Colts. They are top-three in DVOA allowed to the position, and they are a top-three cutter of tight end completion rate, yards per target, and touchdowns per target. Even at home in the dome in Detroit, Hockenson falls from eighth to 14th at the position this week.


Kickers

Best Week 8 Matchups - Kickers
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
M.Crosby GB 1 MIN Rk 10 8 10 5  
Pts   +0.1 -0.2 +0.3 +0.2
R.Gould SF 0 SEA Rk 12 13 10 7  
Pts   -0.1 +0.1 +0.2 +0.2
J.Myers SEA 1 SF Rk 15 15 14 10  
Pts   0.0 0.0 +0.2 +0.2
B.McManus DEN 1 LAC Rk 10 11 9 5  
Pts   -0.1 +0.1 +0.2 +0.2

Even with the wind concerns, Mason Crosby lands the top spot in my kicker matchup boosts. But this is a situation where I subjectively disagree with the objective projection. The Vikings are a top-five booster of both short and long field goal attempts, but the just 0.2-point projected wind loss comes from research that groups all games with 10 mph or more sustained winds together. There just aren't very many examples of games with 20-plus-mph winds like this one is forecasted to have. Intuitively, those extreme winds should make it increasingly difficult for Crosby to connect from more than short distances. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised to see both teams playing in four-down mode when they make it into opposing territory.

On the West Coast, Robbie Gould, Jason Myers, and Brandon McManus should have an easier time of things on Sunday. Playing at as close to full strength as they have been this season offensively, the 49ers should move the ball against a Seahawks team that has boosted long field goal attempts by 45%, the most in football. And while the Seahawks offense doesn't need easy opponents to enter the red zone, a stronger defense there in the 49ers could cut into their efficiency at turning those opportunities into touchdowns. Finally, Denver is back up to a 53-degree temperature forecast after that cold snap last weekend. That plus the low winds should help McManus connect on his deeper attempts in the high altitude. And the Chargers are a small booster of both short and long attempts in general.

Worst Week 8 Matchups - Kickers
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
K.Forbath LAR 0 MIA Rk 8 10 10 24  
Pts   -0.1 -0.1 -1.0 -1.2
J.Tucker BAL 1 PIT Rk 1 2 2 9  
Pts   -0.1 -0.1 -0.5 -0.7
R.Bullock CIN 1 TEN Rk 2 2 3 10  
Pts   0.0 -0.2 -0.5 -0.7
Y.Koo ATL 0 CAR Rk 4 5 5 7  
Pts   -0.2 -0.1 -0.1 -0.4

The Rams released rookie kicker Sam Sloman this week and replaced him with veteran Kai Forbath. Forbath likely can't do worse than missing three extra-point attempts and a field goal try from inside of 30 yards in seven games like Sloman did. But Forbath may have many opportunities to prove that either way this weekend in Miami. The Dolphins defense is dramatically improved, and that has manifested in 81% and 54% decreases in their opponents' short and long field goal attempts this season. Forbath falls from a team-driven eighth in my true-talent rankings to 24th this week with the matchup and outside of his friendly dome.


Defenses

Best Week 8 Matchups - Defenses
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
Chiefs DST KC 1 NYJ Rk 4 3 3 2  
Pts   +0.2 +0.2 +1.5 +1.9
Bucs DST TB 0 NYG Rk 1 1 1 1  
Pts   -0.3 0.0 +1.6 +1.3
Chargers DST LAC 0 DEN Rk 6 6 7 6  
Pts   0.0 -0.1 +0.5 +0.4
Eagles DST PHI 1 DAL Rk 5 5 5 5  
Pts   +0.2 +0.2 -0.2 +0.2

Several of the best true-talent defenses draw some especially enticing matchups this weekend, none more than the Chiefs and Bucs against the two New York teams. The Jets and Giants obviously struggle to move that ball, which will help their opposing defenses limit yards and points allowed if those matter for your scoring format. But even if they don't, the Jets and Giants are both top-six boosters of tackles for losses and sacks per pass attempt. Expect some big defensive plays and likely some turnovers.

Reaching a bit deeper for less obvious fantasy plays, the Chargers have cut opposing passing and rushing touchdown rates despite some of the injuries they've faced on defense. And fortunately, those injuries haven't hit their star pass-rusher Joey Bosa, who could wreak havoc on a Broncos offensive line that is just 25th in football with an 8.2% adjusted sack rate. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have scored a combined 13 points and committed five turnovers in two games since Dak Prescott went down with his ankle injury. Suddenly, they are one of the best defense and special teams matchups in fantasy. And the Eagles and their No. 16 DVOA defense, despite its own injuries, are plenty good to take advantage.

Worst Week 8 Matchups - Defenses
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
Lions DST DET 1 IND Rk 11 16 18 24  
Pts   -0.5 0.0 -0.7 -1.2
Saints DST NO 0 CHI Rk 2 4 3 8  
Pts   0.0 +0.3 -1.0 -0.7
Giants DST NYG 1 TB Rk 25 23 24 25  
Pts   +0.3 -0.1 -0.7 -0.5
Broncos DST DEN 1 LAC Rk 11 11 11 16  
Pts   +0.2 0.0 -0.5 -0.3

I had a harder time finding defenses you would normally want to play whose matchups might change that calculus this weekend. But I suppose that is less important an issue than if the reverse were true. The Bears may seem like an offense to target in fantasy, but Nick Foles has a low 4.0% sack rate this season behind an improved offensive line (5.5% adjusted sack rate, 11th). And the Saints defense is the No. 1 booster of opponent passing touchdowns.

The Giants are a surprise top-12 fantasy defense, but consider their schedule. They've held four opponents to 22 points or fewer this season, but three of those were Chicago, Washington, and Philadelphia, each of whom is in the bottom 10 of offensive DVOA in general. The Bucs and their No. 6 DVOA offense could follow the 49ers and Prescott-led Cowboys example and put up 36 or 37 points on Monday, especially if their defense can force some turnovers and land Tom Brady a short field.

Comments

1 comment, Last at 01 Nov 2020, 6:13am

1 Howling

Reading this article at 5 a.m. in bed in Green Bay. The wind is howling outside. With Dalvin Cook back and Aaron Jones out, the run game advantage tips to the Vikings. Matt Lafleur has improved the Packers short passing game through motion and scheme; hopefully Rodgers keeps the chains moving on third down throws. I wish this game was in the Vikings dome.