In seasonal fantasy football, matchups often boil down to which owner makes the right start/sit decisions. You can’t hold allegiances to projections or name recognition, you simply have to play the guys you think will wind up with the most fantasy points.
Here are the fringe options that might / should be in your fantasy lineup in Week 8.
Week 8 Start ‘Em
QB Andy Dalton vs. TB
Andy Dalton is a Top 5 QB play this week and should be starting over the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, and Jared Goff if applicable. He faces the worst pass defense in the NFL in Tampa. The Bucs just lost two LBs (Kwon Alexander and Jack Cichy) for the season to torn ACLs, and their best pass rusher (Gerald McCoy) is likely to miss a second straight game with a calf injury. Dalton has been throwing the ball well down the seams and on deep crossing patterns, and that’s exactly where the Bucs are vulnerable. Expect him to thrive at home in a game with 54-point Over/Under.
RB Chris Carson @ DET
Detroit traded for run-stopping DT Damon Harrison but should remain vulnerable on the ground until he’s entirely up to speed. The Lions are giving up a league-worst 5.3 YPC average and rank 30th in DVOA rush defense. Chris Carson is locked in a timeshare with Mike Davis, but played on a reliable 41% of snaps against Oakland in Week 6 and handled 14 carries while Davis saw six and rookie Rashad Penny nine. Penny is questionable for this contest with a finger injury, giving Carson a safer floor.
WR Taylor Gabriel vs. NYJ
The Patriots came up with an excellent game plan to deal with Gabriel last week, leading to a relative dud of just 43 receiving yards from the Bears speedster. He’s in line to bounce back against a Jets team that’s giving up 285 passing YPG over their last four games. Jets starting FS Marcus Maye (thumb) is out, his backup Doug Middleton (torn pectoral) is out for the season, and top CB Trumaine Johnson (quad) is in danger of missing another game. If slot CB Buster Skrine (concussion) remains out, that will lock Gabriel in as a high-upside play. In any case, Allen Robinson (groin) is likely to see a reduction in snaps this week, leading to more targets for Gabriel.
WR Jordy Nelson vs. IND
The Raiders are moving on without Amari Cooper, and that makes Jordy Nelson the de facto top receiver for Derek Carr. The Colts are a tough matchup, ranking atop the league in DVOA pass defense against No. 2 receivers this season. Indy ranks 24th in DVOA pass defense against No. 1 wideouts, and Nelson proved capable of posting big lines with 15 catches for 264 yards and three touchdowns over three games before dropping a dud against Seattle in London. Coming out of the Bye, look for the Raiders to feature him more.
TE Benjamin Watson @ MIN
Sunday night’s tilt in the Vikings dome should be high scoring since the Saints are always capable of piling on points when playing on artificial surfaces. Rookie WR Tre’Quan Smith is another recommended start and could be widely available in most leagues, while Benjamin Watson has a higher floor than most desperation fliers at a thin TE position. He caught four balls for 43 yards and a TD in a brutal matchup at Baltimore last Sunday and will serve as a safety valve for Drew Brees once again as the Vikings likely bring pressure up the middle. If Xavier Rhodes (ankle) is active, he could contain Michael Thomas and force more throws to Watson and Smith.