Fantasy Football Week 8: Starts, sits, sleepers, busts and betting notes for every game

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As our astute Fantasy editor Chris Towers pointed out to our staff this week, there are at least 43 Fantasy-relevant injuries across the NFL in Week 8. That list doesn’t include the players who are already out for the season, or injured offensive linemen or defensive players. You’ll read about some injury replacements below, some who have played better than expected, and some from whom you might be expecting too much. Opportunity means more than talent in Fantasy Football, but remember that players thrust into large roles were previously bench players for a reason.

More Week 8 help: QB Start ‘Em & Sit ‘EmRB Start ‘Em & Sit ‘EmWaiver Wire | Trade Values | Biggest Questions | QB Preview | RB Preview | WR Preview | TE Preview | Rest-of-Season Rankings | Cut List | Winners and Losers | Believe It or Not    

All lines from William Hill Sportsbook.

The line wants us to believe: The Falcons are going to keep finding ways to lose. There can’t be a lot of confidence out there on the Falcons, and the oddsmakers know it by making the Panthers a home favorite. Carolina’s a solid team but their defense is overrated. I expect Matt Ryan’s arm to be plenty busy.

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The line wants us to believe: The undefeated Steelers are overrated. If anything, the Steelers are savvy on offense and opportunistic on defense. Baltimore’s run game will need a spark (J.K. Dobbins?) if they’re to compete. Ben Roethlisberger’s short-pass game should keep the Steelers close on the scoreboard (and keep the pass rush off his back). I’m kind of thinking the oddsmakers want you to take the Steelers and the points, but I genuinely feel that’s the better way to lean.

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The line wants us to believe: The Rams’ win on Monday was meaningless. The key word there? Monday, as in the Rams played then, then practiced for a few days before flying to Miami. Not exactly the best scenario for a good but tired team against a well-rested and rejuvenated Dolphins squad with a shiny new quarterback. There’s no chance the Dolphins would have made this move if Tua Tagovailoa wasn’t ready. You’re trapping yourself if you pick the Rams.

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The line wants us to believe: That there’s only one way to make this game interesting. The Jets have lost by 20 points three times this year, and only sloppy offenses have let them hang around. Kansas City’s defense has started playing better and too many injuries for the Jets make it hard to believe they’ll hit their 14.75 implied point total. So what the heck? Take the Chiefs.

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The line wants us to believe: The Vikings will keep it close. Couldn’t they have gotten away with minus-8 or minus-9 here? Minnesota’s pass rush is tame and its secondary is beat up. Expect Aaron Rodgers to attack the flats and sidelines all game long as the Packers roll to a convincing win.

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The line wants us to believe: Detroit’s last two wins were flukes. Making the Lions underdogs at home is a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for those people brave enough to take the Colts, whose defense should be healthy and whose offense should get back to basics with the run game. It’s the side the oddsmakers don’t want you on. Don’t be surprised if Philip Rivers connects on a handful of deep throws.

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The line wants us to believe: … in Baker Mayfield. If not for his late heroics last week, the Raiders might be favored here. There’s less to trust with the Raiders, especially considering how well the Browns run defense has been playing. I would expect Kareem Hunt, not Mayfield, to be the reason why Cleveland pulls away, but they will pull away.

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The line wants us to believe: Joe Burrow gives the Bengals a chance, even against tough competition. This Titans team is something else, down two scores last week and still running the ball — and still making defenses pay. The Bengals have lost three good players from their D-line just in time for Derrick Henry to rumble 20 times. Maybe it’s a sucker line because they’re not giving Cincinnati more points, but the Titans should win, even if it’s a higher-scoring game than they’d like it to be.

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The line wants us to believe: Buffalo’s offense really is in trouble. Maybe it is, but the Patriots’ offense is in even bigger trouble. Both teams have quarterback and run game issues to start fixing, but the Bills’ receiving corps has more playmaking potential. That’s the side I want to be on, even in a projected low-scoring matchup.

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The line wants us to believe: Denver’s not as bad as the score suggested last week. Wow, they sure want you to take the Chargers, don’t they? Truth is, Drew Lock played erratically last week. If he does it again behind that offensive line against Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, there’s no way the Broncos will be able to compete. I’m sure the oddsmakers are thinking Justin Herbert is due for a let-down, but he’s been in tougher spots on the road and come through remarkably.

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The line wants us to believe: That previous games don’t matter when these teams meet. Honestly, how in blazes is Seattle favored by less than a field goal?! I can’t figure it out, which is the first sign of a trap line. But I can’t see the 49ers staying within less than three points against Russell Wilson and their bitter rival. If it’s a trap, I’m falling in.

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The line wants us to believe: The Bears loss on Monday was a blip on the radar. Why else would they only get four points against the Saints? The Saints defense nearly blew it last week against the Panthers and the offense is down to Alvin Kamara, Jared Cook, Tre’Quan Smith and scraps for Drew Brees to throw to. With or without Allen Robinson, this is a bounce-back game for the Bears.

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The line wants us to believe: Dallas can find some points this week. The Cowboys just got their doors blown off by Washington and the Eagles have been very competitive for the past several weeks. Even with Dallas’ reinforcements on the O-line, the Eagles’ defense should be primed to keep them out of the end zone.

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The line wants us to believe: The Giants are pushovers. It’s not true — they’ve hung tough in each of their past four games and were a dropped pass away from winning last week. Tampa Bay’s offense might be down Chris Godwin, but the defense should be in a spot to turn over Daniel Jones a couple of times. Four of Tampa Bay’s five wins have been by 14-plus points, but something tells me the Giants find a way to lose by 9 or 10.

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