In our Week 8 fantasy football start ’em and sit ’em, we let the data give you another perspective that likely varies from the expert consensus.
As readers of Yays and Nays know, we usually start this piece with a small (but sometimes not small) intro detailing a player or a team or a trend that is influencing the fantasy football season.
Inspiration for both the open and this piece that is now running for its third year came from the person who has furthered the fantasy football industry more than any other, Matthew Berry. Readers of his will know he always opens his Love/Hate articles with a personal anecdote, story or experience. For those who haven’t read him before, go check out his preseason Love/Hate piece with an amazingly relatable and entertaining intro on Taylor Swift.
However, he’s not doing one this week in an experiment to determine just how important the open is to his readers. Instead, Berry is just going to go straight into the Love/Hate portion of the article. He’s asked his audience to avoid reading his weekly column this week if they feel as though his open is a necessary part of the piece. If it isn’t, then he’s told his readers to read away.
As someone who has consistently read Matthew Berry’s work for over a decade and marveled at his ability to tell stories and write about fantasy football, I will be avoiding his piece this week. You should too. Fantasy nerds unite.
And because he’s not writing an intro this week, neither will we. Let’s get to it.
The Yays: Week 8 Fantasy Plays Projected Higher Than Expert Consensus
Note: We’re comparing our rankings to the expert consensus rankings (ECR) from Fantasy Pros. These rankings update throughout the week (we pulled these numbers from Thursday). Once again, we are using PPR unless noted otherwise.
Mac Jones, QB (NE) vs. MIA (ECR: 25, Our Rank: 19, PP: 14.27)
Mac Jones in Week 1 threw three touchdown passes and scored over 25 fantasy points. Last week, against the Buffalo Bills, Jones threw two touchdown passes and finished with over 20 points. Those are the positives.
The negatives, of course, are that in the five weeks sandwiched between Week 1 and Week 7, Jones combined for a total of two passing touchdowns (with six interceptions, yikes) and 38 points. For the mathematically inclined, that comes out to an average of 7.6 points per game. Just to give you a sense of how putrid that figure is, there are currently 63 wide receivers averaging more than 7.6 PPR points per game.
One of his two touchdowns during that timeframe came against the Miami Dolphins all the way back in Week 2 in a game that saw the Patriots run the ball 25 times, but for only 88 yards. Jones’ 231 passing yards in that game was his high-water mark during that stretch, and his 25 rushing yards is still a single game high.
In a week without any teams on a bye week, chances are Mac is only in contention for spots in two-quarterback leagues. But in a game where the Patriots will need to score just to keep up with the Dolphins, the model likes Mac’s chances of providing low-end QB2 value, ahead of players like the Seattle Seahawks’ Geno Smith, the New York Jets’ Zach Wilson and the New York Giants’ Tyrod Taylor.
James Cook, RB (BUF) vs. TB (ECR: 19, Our Rank: 7, PP: 16.87)
Cook has been a Nay multiple times this season because of his inability to get in the end zone. Well, that hasn’t really changed. Cook scored only his second touchdown of the season last week against the Patriots. But a positive trend has developed for the Bills’ backfield leader as we near the halfway mark of the fantasy season.
Excluding a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London in which the entire Bills team sleepwalked through the entirety of the game, Cook has recorded at least 12 carries in every game and averaged 97.3 scrimmage yards per game. In the world of selective statisticians, that number would rank seventh in the NFL:
This week, Cook faces a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that has allowed at least 50 receiving yards to running backs in each of its last two games. Better yet, running backs have tallied 21 receptions against the Tampa Bay defense in their last three games. Cook, with a lot of upside in the passing game this week, is a clear top-10 player for the model.
Christian Kirk, WR (JAC) vs. PIT (ECR: 17, Our Rank: 7, PP: 20.66)
Maybe the player that has occupied our Yay list more than any other this year, Kirk entered the season with a lower ADP due to Calvin Ridley’s entrance into the offense as the supposed No. 1 option. Instead, all Kirk has done is consistently perform at a high level, vaulting himself into low-end WR1 status.
Kirk is WR11 since Week 2, and during that timeframe hasn’t scored fewer than 13.9 PPR points in any game. And it’s that consistency that is key. After his Week 1 dud, Kirk has either had a minimum of six receptions or a touchdown in every game. When you plug him into your lineup, you can have extreme confidence that he will score WR2 numbers at minimum, with WR1 potential.
This week, against a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that is 25th in net passing yards allowed (241.2), expect Trevor Lawrence and the Jags to have some passing success. Kirk is a must-start this week, right below the likes of Tyreek Hill and Cincinnati Bengals star Ja’Marr Chase.
Hunter Henry, TE (NE) vs. MIA (ECR: 28, Our Rank: 8, PP: 10.38)
Admittedly, this is a scary projection from the model. Henry has three receptions combined in his last three games. There have been 494 different instances this season in which a player has recorded four or more receptions in a single game. Again, Henry hasn’t had that in his last three weeks combined!
This week, he faces a Dolphins defense that has allowed two of the last three primary tight ends they’ve faced to record at least five receptions and 75 receiving yards. Henry had his best game of the season when these two teams squared off earlier this season in a Week 2 matchup with six receptions and 52 receiving yards.
The model is projecting a similar effort, but let us reiterate that having him as a Yay means only that we see more value in him than expert consensus. Unless you’ve got one of the few tight ends that are viable every week, Henry might be a worthy alternative right along the likes of Houston Texans tight end Dalton Schultz and is likely on your league’s waiver wire.
The Nays: Week 8 Fantasy Plays Projected Lower Than Expert Consensus
Matthew Stafford, QB (LAR) vs. DAL (ECR: 15, Our Rank: 21, PP: 14.11)
Stafford to this point has been a better real-life quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams than he has been a fantasy quarterback for all of his fantasy managers.
He only has one game this year with multiple passing touchdowns and because he only has 59 rushing yards in seven games and can’t bail out his fantasy managers with rushing yards, Stafford has yet to produce even a single 20-point game.
Excluding their shellacking at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers, the Dallas Cowboys defense has only allowed four passing touchdowns all season. Stafford is not likely to buck that trend, even with two excellent receivers to throw to. He’s outside our model’s top-20 quarterbacks this week and not just below your classic QB1s like the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jalen Hurts, but also behind players like Sam Howell of the Washington Commanders.
Javonte Williams, RB (DEN) vs. KC (ECR: 23, Our Rank: 32, PP: 9.84)
Remember above when we mentioned that Cook was often a Yay despite having trouble finding the end zone? There are 50 players who have recorded at least 50 touches so far this season. Javonte Williams is the only one that has yet to score a touchdown amongst that group. Ouch.
Now, for the second time in three weeks, the Denver Broncos are set to play against the Kansas City Chiefs. Well, we highlighted the Chiefs defense last week when the model projected Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert to be a Nay (Hebert finished with his lowest output in any game this season, and as QB21). After shutting out the Chargers in the second half last week, nothing has changed. This is a Chiefs defense that is one of only two defenses – along with the Baltimore Ravens (with a sad departure of a previously brilliant Cleveland Browns defense) – yet to have allowed 100 offensive points. And the Chiefs have only allowed two rushing touchdowns.
Williams, meanwhile, hasn’t scored a touchdown in any of his last 12 games. That’s likely to continue this week. He’s a risky RB2 play and better left on your bench this week.
Davante Adams, WR (LV) vs. DET (ECR: 8, Our Rank: 15, PP: 17.31)
Now in his 10th season in the NFL, Adams has been one of the premier wide receivers over the last decade. What Adams did last season for the Las Vegas Raiders, without Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, may have been his most impressive work, notching the second-best marks of his career in both receiving yards and touchdowns.
But with yet another dip in quarterback play this year, and with Jakobi Meyers now lining up opposite him, Adams has experienced a slight dip in production to start the year – by his standards. He’s only recorded one game with 85 or more receiving yards versus nine such games last season. And without that normal floor of a high number of receptions and receiving yards, his fantasy outputs have suffered too. Since Week 4, Davante Adams is WR34, averaging only 10.4 PPR points per game.
All of which is just to highlight that Adams’ top-10 ECR is more reflective of his past performance as opposed to his current-day predicament. Coming off an ugly loss to D’Onta Foreman and the Chicago Bears and facing a Detroit Lions defense that is looking to get back on track after a dispiriting loss to the Ravens, Adams is in an unusual scenario as simply a solid WR2 entering Week 8, alongside the likes of Carolina Panthers wide receiver Adam Thielen.
Jordan Addison, WR (MIN) vs. GB (ECR: 18, Our Rank: 32, PP: 13.79)
Addison was the big winner from the Minnesota Vikings Monday night win over the 49ers last week, breaking out in the national spotlight to the tune of seven receptions for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
Without Justin Jefferson, Addison was Kirk Cousins’ top receiving option, and for one week it worked. But the Green Bay Packers have an elite cornerback in Jaire Alexander waiting to introduce himself to Addison. And for all of the promise he’s shown this season, Addison’s win rate against man coverage of 24.4% is well below the NFL wide receiver average of roughly 37%.
Now, Alexander is currently dealing with a back injury and may be limited or miss the game, in which case this projection might be more precarious. But with the presumption that Alexander is playing, our model is not optimistic of Addison repeating his success. He’s a flex play at best, and not as strong an option as players like the Arizona Cardinals’ Marquise Brown.
Looking for more on trending players like Falcons running back Bijan Robinson or Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper or Lions quarterback Jared Goff? Don’t forget to check out our weekly waiver wire takes, complete fantasy football rankings and start/sit comparison tool, as well as our NFL predictions and statistical leaderboard. Happy exploring. And follow along on Instagram and X.