Welcome to Week 8. The Falcons, Cowboys, Chargers and Titans are on bye, and there are a few players who are going to be out for Week 8 (or longer) due to injury. Bilal Powell (neck) is out for the year, and Albert Wilson (hip) probably is, as well. Sony Michel is dealing with a strained knee, Keke Coutee has a strained hamstring and LeSean McCoy is in the concussion protocol. To top it all off, it looks like Dalvin Cook is likely to sit through the Vikings’ Week 10 bye.
In other words, more than a few owners are going to be scrambling to find a diamond in the rough for Week 8.
A great way to identify a potential spot start is to leverage 4for4’s signature strength-of-schedule metric, adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA). Many sites publish raw fantasy points allowed by position, but 4for4 goes a step further and adjusts those numbers for a defense’s relative year-to-date schedule strength. So if a defense has seen a murderer’s row of running backs, it will be reflected in the defense’s aFPA. As a ranker, I use this metric weekly when putting together our award-winning projections.
Last week, I discussed Mitch Trubisky, Baker Mayfield, Eli Manning, Latavius Murray, Tarik Cohen, Marlon Mack, Royce Freeman, Sterling Shepard, David Njoku and C.J. Uzomah in this space. Let’s see if we can dig up a few more gems for Week 8.
Baker Mayfield, Browns (at Steelers, 27th in QB aFPA)
Mayfield is in the middle of a great stretch in his schedule. Last week, he scored 20.9 fantasy points against the Buccaneers and this week he’ll face the Steelers, ranked 27th in quarterback aFPA. They’ve allowed 229 yards and two touchdowns to Andy Dalton, 285 yards and a score to Matt Ryan, and 363 yards and a pair of scores to Joe Flacco.
Raheem Mostert and Alfred Morris, 49ers (at Cardinals, 32nd in RB aFPA)
Matt Breida only played five snaps before bowing out of Week 7 with an ankle re-injury. Mostert finished with 11 touches for 78 yards, while Morris saw nine carries for 25 yards. If Breida is out against the Cardinals, he’s going to miss a fantastic matchup against a defense that is last in the league in running back aFPA. With Breida out, Mostert is more likely to see the lion’s share of touches given his workload over the past couple of weeks. In Week 6 against the Packers, Mostert saw 12 touches (all carries), while Morris only got one carry, and it was called back due to penalty. Over the past two weeks, Mostert has out-touched Morris by a 23 to nine margin.
Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant, Raiders (vs. Colts, 25th in WR aFPA)
After the trade that sent Amari Cooper to Dallas, the Raiders are left with Nelson and Bryant as their top two receivers. Prior to a six-yard clunker against Seattle, Nelson had three solid-to-great fantasy lines: 6-173-1, 5-48-1, and 4-43-1. Going forward, he should vie with Jared Cook for the lead in targets. Meanwhile, Bryant led the team in air yards in Oakland’s last three games, so he was already a big part of the game plan with Cooper in the fold.
Danny Amendola, Dolphins (at Texans, 20th in WR aFPA)
With Kenny Stills nursing a groin injury and Albert Wilson definitely out for Week 8, the Dolphins may roll with Amendola, Jakeem Grant and DeVante Parker at receiver, and thus far, Brock Osweiler has shown the best rapport with Amendola, who has been targeted on 23.7% of his throws. That’s more than twice as much as Osweiler has targeted Stills or Grant. Amendola has the best matchup in the Houston secondary, since he’ll square off with Tyrann Mathieu in the slot. Grant and Parker are decent dart throws in very deep leagues.
Ben Watson, Saints (at Vikings, 28th in TE aFPA)
Covering tight ends is one of the Vikings’ weak spots, and despite a fairly disappointing start to the season, Watson caught six passes for 43 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens in Week 7. He has seen at least four targets in five of his six games this season.
Chris Herndon, Jets (at Bears, 18th in TE aFPA)
Herndon is a risky play due to his low snap rate (sub-40% in the last two weeks), but he posted 2-56-1 on two targets in Week 6, and 4-42-1 on seven targets in Week 7.