Here are the starts and sits for this week. Ben Roethlisberger will be back in the line-up so there will be some light there. Chris Ivory should be back to his normal self. Todd Gurley will continue his streak because he is that man. Dez Bryant will be back as well but will be limited.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
Must start: Ryan Tannehill, Tom Brady, Lamar Miller, LeGarrette Blount, Jarvis Landry, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Patriots DST
The Patriots could win this one comfortably, but the Dolphins will score. That’s good news for all the fantasy-relevant players involved.
Conditional start: Dion Lewis (abdomen), Rishard Matthews, Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell
Lewis is the player you really need to keep your eye on in advance of Thursday. He missed last week’s game because of an abdomen injury, and has been limited in practice this week. He and Blount have siloed roles in the offense, but Blount has gotten more work over the last month or so. Consider Lewis a low-end RB2 or flex if he does play. You can always make an argument for starting any Patriots receiver, but you need to be short-handed if you’re turning to Amendola or LaFell. Both slot as WR3/4s this week. Matthews has cemented his role as a starting receiver alongside Landry. He’s a better play than Amendola or LaFell.
Sit: Greg Jennings, DeVante Parker, Jordan Cameron, Dolphins DST
Detroit Lions at Kansas City Chiefs (in London)
Must start: Matthew Stafford, Charcandrick West, Calvin Johnson, Jeremy Maclin (concussion), Eric Ebron, Travis Kelce
Stafford is no longer a plug-and-play quarterback, but he has taken advantage of good matchups this season, and he certainly has one this week. In the games Ebron has started and finished this season, he’s averaging 10.65 points, which would place him fourth at tight end. He’s locked in as a fantasy starter when healthy. West’s owners were likely thrilled with his performance last week, but the even better news was that he got 22 carries. In the two games since Charles’s injury, Kelce has 10 catches on 13 targets for 161 yards. He’s an easy top-five tight end this week.
Conditional start: Alex Smith, Golden Tate, Albert Wilson, Chiefs DST
Tate has been a really bad fantasy player this season. The same goes for Smith and Wilson, especially the latter if Maclin is forced to sit again. Rashean Mathis has allowed an 80.5% catch rate, while Darius Slay checks in at 70.6%.
Sit: Ameer Abdullah, Joique Bell, Theo Riddick, Knile Davis, Lions DST
Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Must start: Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, Stefon Diggs, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett, Vikings DST
In 12 career games against the Bears, Peterson has 1,396 yards and 14 touchdowns. I don’t think he likes the Bears. The Bears have allowed the second-most pass touchdowns and faced the second-fewest pass attempts on the year. Make sure Diggs is in your lineup. The Bears aren’t the most explosive team in the league, but Forte, Jeffery and Bennett almost always deliver.
Conditional Start: Teddy Bridgewater, Jay Cutler, Mike Wallace, Eddie Royal
Bridgewater and Cutler are both slam-dunk plays in two-quarterback leagues, and the former is a borderline QB1 with this great matchup. The Bears have allowed the fifth-most points per game to quarterbacks and got burned for 405 yards and four touchdowns by Matthew Stafford in their last game.
Sit: Charles Johnson, Marquess Wilson, Kyle Rudolph, Bears DST
Tampa Bay Buccs at Atlanta Falcons
Must start: Matt Ryan, Doug Martin, Devonta Freeman, Mike Evans, Julio Jones, Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder)
Ryan ranks 22nd among quarterbacks in points per game. The Buccs have allowed the third-most points per game to quarterback and receivers. The Falcons defense has been nice to running back this season. Vincent Jackson is out with a knee injury, opening the door for both Evans and Seferian-Jenkins, if he can return, to get even more targets than usual.
Conditional start: Jameis Winston, Leonard Hankerson (hamstring), Roddy White
Winston had his best game as a pro last week, throwing for 297 yards, 10.24 yards per attempt and two touchdowns. Just as importantly, he looked in command of the Tampa Bay offense. Hankerson missed last week’s game because of his hamstring injury. If he suits up this week, he’s a WR3. If he doesn’t, White slides into his spot for both real-life and fantasy purposes.
Sit: Charles Sims, Tevin Coleman, Vincent Jackson (knee), Jacob Tamme, Buccaneers DST, Falcons DST
Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns
Must start: Carson Palmer, Chris Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, Gary Barnidge, Cardinals DST
The Browns are dead last in rush defense DVOA and 16th in pass defense DVOA. Johnson may not even be in Arizona if not for David Johnson’s preseason injury, and now he’s a reliable RB2. Barnidge, meanwhile, is now the No. 5 tight end in points per game, and No. 1 over the last five weeks.
Conditional start: Duke Johnson, Michael Floyd, Travis Benjamin
Since becoming a key part of the Cleveland passing game, Johnson has turned into one of the best receiving backs in the league. In the last five games, he has 31 catches for 263 yards and a touchdown. Floyd’s snap rate dipped down to 66.1% last week, and that’s where his owners can expect him to be in an average contest. He’s going to be a WR3 most weeks, with matchup and your specific roster makeup dictating whether or not he starts. The results weren’t there last week, but Benjamin got eight more targets and is one of three Browns who play a meaningful role in the offense. He’s not as good a play, however, as either Barnidge or Johnson.
Sit: Josh McCown (shoulder), Andre Ellington, David Johnson, Isaiah Crowell, Brian Hartline, Browns DST
San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams
Must start: Carlos Hyde, Todd Gurley, Rams DST
No team has been able to stop Todd Gurley yet. The 49ers offense has dragged down Hyde, who kicked off the year on such a promising note. This is undoubtedly a tough matchup, but Hyde remains a low-end RB2 thanks to expected volume, as well as his sheer talent.
Conditional start: Anquan Boldin, Tavon Austin
Boldin has three games this year with at least 10.2 points in standard-scoring leagues. He has scored fewer than four in each of the 49ers’ other four games, totaling 10.3 points in those weeks. The matchup is much better for Austin, but he has exactly one game with at least 50 receiving yards this year. You’re counting on him getting in the end zone or making a splash as a runner if you play him in any week.
Sit: Colin Kaepernick, Nick Foles, Reggie Bush, Tre Mason, Benny Cunningham, Torrey Smith, Kenny Britt, Vernon Davis, Jared Cook, 49ers DST
New York Giants at New Orleans Saints
Must start: Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring)
Brees really struggled in the win over the Colts last week, throwing for 255 yards, 5.8 YPA, one touchdown and one interception. The Giants have surrendered 4.86 yards per carry and seven total touchdowns to running backs. They’re also in the top 10 in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns allowed to backs. Beckham has been playing at less than 100% for two weeks now, but the good news is he hasn’t suffered any setbacks.
Conditional start: Eli Manning, Shane Vereen, Rashad Jennings, Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Giants DST
The Saints have allowed the most points per game to quarterbacks, making this a dream matchup for Manning. Manning can still be an acceptable starter in all fantasy formats, but I’d play Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan and Ryan Tannehill over him this week, just to give you a few examples. Vereen and Jennings are better cast as flex plays. Cooks’s six-catch, 81-yard game last week was his second-best fantasy performance of the season. Use that information however you like.
Sit: Orelans Darkwa, Andre Williams, C.J. Spiller, Khiry Robinson, Rueben Randle, Marques Colston (shoulder), Brandon Coleman, Larry Donnell, Ben Watson, Saints DST
San Diego Chargers at Baltimore Ravens
Must start: Philip Rivers, Danny Woodhead, Justin Forsett, Keenan Allen, Steve Smith, Antonio Gates (knee), Ladarius Green
These are two bad defenses, especially against the pass, and that could mean big things for fantasy owners. Rivers has attempted at least 48 passes in each of the last three games, and the Ravens have allowed the second-most points per game to quarterbacks. Whoever starts for the Chargers at tight end is an easy play, and even if Gates is in, Green is a borderline TE1.
Conditional start: Joe Flacco, Stevie Johnson
Flacco is no more than a QB2 in any given week this year, but this is the safest week yet to deploy him in two-QB leagues. Johnson got eight targets in his return from a hamstring injury last week, and is on the WR2/3 borderline with the great matchup on tap.
Sit: Melvin Gordon, Branden Oliver, Buck Allen, Malcom Floyd, Kamar Aiken, Crockett Gillmore, Chargers DST, Ravens DST
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers
Must start: Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger (knee), Giovani Bernard, Jeremy Hill, Le’Veon Bell, A.J. Green, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Tyler Eifert
Roethlisberger will start andthis will be the most exciting game of Week 8. Roethlisberger, however, will lift the Pittsburgh offense and force Andy Dalton and company to keep firing at full capacity. It’s always a good week to be invested in these two offenses. When they go head-to-head, it’s even better.
Conditional start: Marvin Jones
Jones is the one fantasy-relevant player who isn’t a must-start in this game, simply because of all the mouths to feed in Cincinnati.
Sit: Heath Miller, Bengals DST, Steelers DST
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans
Must start: DeAndre Hopkins, Delanie Walker
The Titans are sixth in pass defense DVOA, which means they have as realistic a chance as any team to keep Hopkins in check. Still, when a receiver is getting 15 targets per game and is as talented as Hopkins, it’s hard to hold him down entirely.
Conditional start: Brian Hoyer, Alfred Blue, Kendall Wright, Titans DST, Texans DST
Blue takes over as the starter for Houston with Arian Foster (Achilles) on the shelf. The Titans have allowed the sixth-fewest points per game to running backs, though they are much better against the pass than the run. Hoyer can be a backend starter in two-QB formats and nothing more. Wright has just 109 yards and a touchdown in his last three games, and the likelihood of Zach Mettenberger under center for another week brings down his value. Think of him as a WR3.
Sit: Marcus Mariota (knee), Zach Mettenberger, Antonio Andrews, Bishop Sankey, Chris Polk, Dorial Green-Beckham, Justin Hunter, Nate Washington
New York Jets at Oakland Raiders
Must start: Chris Ivory (hamstring), Latavius Murray, Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Amari Cooper, Jets DST
If Ivory is able to play, he needs to be in your lineup. His teammates Marshall and Decker are matchup-proof, but the Raiders are about league-average against the pass. The Jets, meanwhile, are far better than league average against the pass and the run, ranking third and first, respectively, against them in DVOA. You have to play Murray and Cooper, but understand that this is going to be one of their toughest tests to date.
Conditional start: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Derek Carr, Michael Crabtree
Fitzpatrick and Carr are both worthy of starts in two-quarterback leagues, but neither is quite in the QB1 class this week.
Sit: Bilal Powell, Zac Stacy, Roy Helu, Raiders DST
Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys
Must start: Marshawn Lynch, Darren McFadden, Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten, Seahawks DST
The Cowboys are 26th in rush defense DVOA and have allowed the fourth-most points per game to running backs. Lynch, as usual, is among the best running back plays this week. McFadden has a much tougher test, but all signs point to him carrying the load for the Cowboys. Joseph Randle will be out with an oblique strain. Unfortunately for him, he gets the Seahawks this week and Eagles next week. He may not be able to fully take advantage of Randle’s absence. Graham is no more than a low-end TE1 these days, barely more valuable than Witten. Both should be played in most formats, but give me Gary Barnidge or Eric Ebron ahead of both of them.
Conditional start: Russell Wilson, Dez Bryant (foot)
I’ll take Eli Manning, Teddy Bridgewater and Ryan Fitzpatrick over Wilson this week he is getting nothing out of his recivers this week. As for Bryant, he’s practicing in limited fashion this week. Even if he’s able to return, however, it would almost certainly be at less than 100%.
Sit: Matt Cassel, Christine Michael, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Terrance Williams, Cowboys DST
Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos
Must start: Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, Randall Cobb, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Packers DST
Don’t be surprised if the Packers lean on Lacy, given the strength of Denver’s secondary. What’s being missed in this matchup is the fact that Green Bay’s defense, especially against the pass, is nearly as good as Denver’s. The Packers rank fifth in pass defense DVOA this year, and have a star-studded secondary of their own. Both Denver receivers fall outside the top 10 at the position this week.
Conditional start: Peyton Manning, Ronnie Hillman, James Jones, Broncos DST
Hillman is a worthy, low-end RB2, especially since the Broncos may try to control this game on the ground. This could be a lower-scoring game than you’d expect from Rodgers vs. Brady in the past, and that would play into Hillman’s hands. Jones has just 14 targets in his last three games, and is living on an unsustainable touchdown rate. Davante Adams, who should return this week, will soon be the No. 2 receiver in this offense.
Sit: James Starks (hip), C.J. Anderson, Davante Adams (ankle), Richard Rodgers, Owen Daniels
Indianapolis Colts at Carolina Panthers
Must start: Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Frank Gore, Jonathan Stewart, T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Greg Olsen, Panthers DST
Luck, Gore, Hilton and Moncrief are worth starting this week, but all are at the low end of their respective positions. The Panthers have an elite defense, especially against the pass, and Luck looks like he’s still operating at less than 100% because of the shoulder injury. On the other side, Newton, Stewart and Olsen can abuse a defense that is 21st in pass DVOA and has allowed the sixth-most points to running backs. If the Panthers jump out in front, something many of the Colts’ opponents have been able to do this year, Stewart could be in for his best game of the season.
Conditional start: Ted Ginn
Ginn’s averaging six targets per game, and the Colts have allowed the eighth-most points per game to the receiver position. There are worse reasons to play someone as a WR3 in a deeper league. That’s where Ginn slots this week.
Sit: Corey Brown, Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, Colts DST