Josh Allen, Bills
Doesn’t it seem like every quarterback lights it up against the Eagles' pathetic secondary? Well, in Week 8 it’s Josh Allen’s week to fire it up. I expect he will have one of his best days of the season. Allen has improved as a passer, and his rapport with John Brown and Cole Beasley has been solid thus far. I also like the fact that Allen is mobile, and I would expect him to run for at least 30 yards in this game--much like Dak Prescott did last week. Allen should not only have at least two passing TDs, he might also have one rushing TD, making him one of the top starts of the week.
Matthew Stafford, Lions
Kerryon Johnson’s injury has changed the Lions from a run-first type offense to more of a West Coast quick passing offense. I think this plays right to the strengths of Stafford, who should have a field day against the bad Giants defense. Look for Stafford to pepper short passes to Danny Amendola, J.D. McKissic and Ty Johnson, and then challenge the Giants' secondary downfield with deep throws to Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay. Stafford should be good for at least 260 passing yards and two TDs in this game.
Baker Mayfield, Browns
The Browns' offensive line has been in shambles all season and now they have to play the Patriots who have the NFL’s No. 1 defense. If Sam Darnold saw ghosts on Monday night, Mayfield is going to see ghouls and goblins as he will face pressure all game long. With no time to throw, and with All-Pro CB Stephon Gilmore covering Odell Beckham, I don’t see any pathway to success for Mayfield.
Devonta Freeman, Falcons
Ito Smith has already been ruled out for Week 8 with a concussion, leaving Freeman as the clear option for 20-25 touches. Add in the fact that there’s a good chance that Matt Ryan misses the game with a bad ankle, and you would have to think that backup QB Matt Schaub will find Freeman on a lot of short passes out of the backfield. Freeman is one of the few Falcons who are still playing with passion (he had a scrum with Aaron Donald last week) so expect him to give his fantasy owners the best effort possible in Week 8.
LeSean McCoy, Chiefs
With Patrick Mahomes injured, and with the Green Bay Packers playing at an extremely high level right now, the best way for the Chiefs to win this game is to slow it down and run a ball-control type offense. This means a heavy dose of running plays with a lot of short passes out of the backfield. This type of scheme plays well into the skill set of McCoy, who has looked surprisingly spry this season. The Packers' biggest weakness is their run defense (they are fourth-worst in the league), so look for Andy Reid to take advantage of that as much as possible.
Derrick Henry, Titans
The Bucs held Christian McCaffrey to 37 yards rushing the first time the two teams played, and then 31 yards the second time they faced off in Week 6. This does not bode well for Henry, who needs multiple carries to be effective. My guess is that the Bucs do whatever they can to contain Henry and force Ryan Tannehill to beat them with his arm. The only thing that will save Henry’s day is to score a TD, otherwise he could be looking at a three- to five-point fantasy game.
John Brown, Bills
Without question, Brown has been one of the best offseason pickups by any franchise. Brown gives the Bills a legitimate WR1 who can get open against top CBs. The Eagles are the worst team in the NFL against opposing wide receivers, and none of their CBs can match Brown’s speed downfield. The worst-case scenario for Brown owners is that the Eagles get called for multiple pass interference penalties. The best-case scenario is that Brown catches multiple long-distance TD passes. Since I am a glass-full kind of fantasy expert, I will go with the latter.
Kenny Stills, Texans
With Will Fuller being out for multiple weeks with a hamstring injury, the Texans are lucky to have Kenny Stills around to step right in to take his spot in the lineup. Stills specializes in long-distance receptions (he had two of over 40 yards last week) and he should give the Raiders' CBs fits on Sunday. If the Texans' OL can give Deshaun Watson time to throw, Stills should play an important role in the game’s outcome.
Allen Robinson, Bears
Robinson is one of the better receivers in the league, but I just don’t feel comfortable starting him this week. First, Bears QB Mitch Trubisky will face loads of pressure from Joey Bosa and the Chargers' front seven. Additionally (and perhaps more importantly), the Chargers' Casey Hayward is one of the top corners in the league and I think he suffocates Robinson with tight coverage. Unless the Bears are in a similar garbage-time situation as they were last week, I predict that Robinson has less than 50 yards receiving.
Austin Hooper, Falcons
Outside of Darren Waller, I'm not sure there has been a more consistent tight end than Austin Hooper. He’s had 33 targets in the last four games, catching 27 passes for 349 yards and two TDs. This week he gets to play the Seahawks, who have struggled to cover opposing tight ends (they are the fifth-worst team in the league). I would feel better starting Hooper if Matt Ryan plays, but even if he doesn’t, I think that backup QB Matt Schaub will use Hooper as an outlet receiver and keep him busy all game.
Jonnu Smith, Titans
The Bucs' run defense is one of the toughest in the NFL, but they have been generous against the pass--especially to opposing tight ends. Ranking as the second-worst team in defending opposing tight ends, Tampa will have a hard time covering Jonnu Smith on Sunday. As of now, my best guess is that Delanie Walker will end up missing the game after re-injuring the same ankle that kept him out all last season. If that’s the case, feel free to start Smith and watch him have an effective day against Tampa Bay's defense.
Greg Olsen, Panthers
Playing the hot 49ers should be a tough matchup for most of the Panthers' skill players, but especially Olsen. Firstly, the 49ers are the second-best defense against opposing tight ends. Secondly, QB Kyle Allen has done a poor job of including Olsen into the offensive game plan. If the Panthers are going to break the 49ers' undefeated streak, it will most likely be due to Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore’s success, and not Olsen’s.
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