Rolfe’s Start ‘em Sit ‘em Week 8: Gus Edwards, James Conner, Terry McLaurin, Rashod Bateman, and More

As we begin to look ahead, who are some Week 8 start sit options that fantasy football managers should be considering for their lineups?

It’s already time to start considering Week 8 start/sit decisions as we look toward the second half of the fantasy football season. With injuries and bye weeks taking away some key fantasy options, utilizing matchups can help managers fill in the gaps.

Let’s look at the matchups we will see this week and highlight some start ’em and sit ’em considerations for Week 8.

Week 8 Fantasy Football Start ’ems

As a general rule of thumb, we will only try to select players who were started in less than 40% of leagues last week as recommended starts. Equally, we will generally look to only recommend players that were in lineups in more than 50% of ESPN leagues last week as sits.

Kirk Cousins, QB | MIN vs. ARI

This is bending the rules a little because Kirk Cousins’ starting percentage is only low due to the Minnesota Vikings being on a bye in Week 8. Still, the matchup this week is too good to pass up.

Over the first seven weeks of the season, the Cardinals have allowed an average of 19.54 fantasy points to opposing QBs. That sees them sit sixth in the league and fifth among teams playing in Week 8. In two of the past three weeks, Arizona has allowed more than 25 fantasy points to opposing QBs, one of which was Andy Dalton.

Derek Carr, QB | LV @ NO

We saw another middling fantasy performance from Derek Carr in Week 7, as Josh Jacobs ran all over the Houston Texans. Carr is just the QB15 on the season and very much a matchup-dependent QB right now. It’s worth noting that coming into the game, the Texans were a top-10 defense in terms of restricting fantasy points to opposing QBs, so Carr’s struggles were not overly surprising.

However, in Week 8, that narrative flips a little. While Houston has been terrible against the run this season, the Saints have been more stout. In contrast, New Orleans has been the second-worst defense against the QB position in the past three weeks.

Across those three games, the Saints have allowed 24.56 fantasy points to opposing QBs, including scores of 24.02 in Week 5 and 32.5 in Week 6. The worst of those performances came from Kyler Murray in Week 7, and even then, he posted a respectable 17.16 fantasy-point output. With the Saints’ recent struggles, Carr could be an intriguing 12-team starting option this week.

PJ Walker, QB | CAR @ ATL

If you are looking for a 12-team Superflex upside play, then PJ Walker in his matchup with the Falcons is intriguing. Atlanta has only allowed fewer than 15 fantasy points once this year (14.96 in Week 4). Walker is coming off a 15-point performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7.

Melvin Gordon III & Latavius Murray, RB | DEN @ JAX

Things are extremely funky in Denver right now, but we saw a bounce back from Melvin Gordon III in Week 7. He played on 51% of the snaps, seeing 11 carries and four targets. Now the Broncos head to London, having lost Mike Boone last week and rushing to sign Marlon Mack before heading to the UK.

The really good news is that the matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars is extremely soft. The Jaguars’ average of 22.56 fantasy points allowed is the seventh-highest this year. They have yet to allow fewer than 12.5 fantasy points to running backs this year. Additionally, they’ve allowed more than 22.5 fantasy points to the position in three of the last four weeks.

There’s enough potential in this matchup that both Gordon and Latavius Murray could have value. The Broncos are likely to be starting Brett Rypien again, so it would not be a surprise to see them lean heavily on the run game against the Jaguars.

Gus Edwards, RB | BAL @ TB

Again, this is somewhat bending the rules because Gus Edwards’ low start percentage in Week 7 was due to uncertainty. He should be a hot name on the Week 8 waiver wire and significantly started next week. Of course, there are always concerns over the Ravens’ RB situation, plus Edwards coming off a knee injury onto a short week.

MORE: Buy Low, Sell High Week 8

However, this matchup is somewhat surprisingly RB-friendly. We just saw D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard combine for 29.8 fantasy points this week. It’s the second time in four weeks that the Buccaneers have given up more than 28 fantasy points to running backs. Over the last four weeks, they’ve allowed an average of 21.78 fantasy points to the position, after being under 10 in the first three weeks.

Josh Reynolds, WR | DET vs. MIA

The situation in Detroit’s WR room is pretty bleak right now. DJ Chark is on IR, and Amon-Ra St. Brown is in the concussion protocol. That could potentially leave Josh Reynolds as the lead receiver in Week 8.

Reynolds is coming off a tough outing last week in which he was only targeted twice, but the Cowboys’ defense has been tough at times this year. In Week 8, the matchup against the Dolphins has the potential for a nice bounce-back. Miami has allowed more than 25 fantasy points to wide receivers in all but one game this year. Whether Reynolds is the Lions’ WR1 or WR2, this is not a matchup to be afraid of starting him in.

Tre’Quan Smith, WR | NO vs. LV

A recommendation of Tre’Quan Smith is more for deeper leagues, and only assuming Jarvis Landry remains out in Week 8. The Raiders have allowed more than 30 fantasy points in their last three games and four of their last five. Additionally, we’ve seen Smith come off a six-target game, in which he appeared to be the clear WR2 behind Chris Olave.

Irv Smith Jr., TE | MIN vs. ARI

The Arizona Cardinals have become a slam-dunk team to start opposing receivers against. On Thursday Night Football, we saw Juwan Johnson have two receiving touchdowns on eight targets. Arizona’s 16.89 fantasy points allowed to the position is the second-highest in the league this year.

Since he got fully healthy, Irv Smith Jr. has 27 targets at an average of 5.4 per game. He’s been very touchdown-dependent, but the Cardinals are a defense that can be exploited for scores. Therefore, Smith becomes a player to consider streaming this week.

Week 8 Fantasy Football Sit ’ems

Aaron Rodgers, QB | GB @ BUF

If you drafted Aaron Rodgers, then things have been tough this year. He currently sits outside the top 20 options on a per-game basis. In Week 8, Rodgers faces one of the toughest matchups in the league in the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo is allowing just 10.79 fantasy points to opposing QBs.

The 19.62 fantasy points the Bills allowed to Patrick Mahomes are the only time they have allowed over 13.5 fantasy points this season. With Rodgers dealing with several injuries to his pass catchers, it’s tough to see how he has considerable success this week. Additionally, there is every chance this game turns into a blowout in favor of the Bills. That could mean we see extended playing time for Jordan Love.

James Conner, RB | ARI @ MIN

Again, this is bending the start percentage rules a little, but only because James Conner was out in Week 7. He is expected to return in Week 8, having been a game-day decision last week. Still, we have no idea what role Conner will return to after Eno Benjamin had some success against the Saints on Thursday night.

Therefore, with the Cardinals looking to ease Conner back in, they may split his touches more than we saw in the early part of the year. Additionally, Conner was struggling prior to this absence, averaging 8.66 fantasy points through the first five weeks. He has just one double-digit output all season.

MORE: RB Injury Report Week 8

The Vikings’ defense has been impressive in the last few weeks. Their 13.35 average points allowed to RBs is the third-lowest in the last three weeks.

Last time out against the Dolphins, the Vikings held the combination of Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds under 10 points. They have not allowed more than 20 fantasy points to the position since Week 3.

Terry McLaurin, WR | WAS vs. IND

We just saw Terry McLaurin have a superb day with 73 yards and a touchdown. However, he’s been a tough player to trust this year, with two games under 45 receiving yards in the past four weeks. It was good to see the connection between McLaurin and Taylor Heinicke, but the matchup this week is enough to create concern.

Indianapolis’ defense has been the second-toughest for opposing WRs in fantasy points allowed. They have not allowed more than 21 fantasy points since Week 2 and have held opposing offenses under 14 fantasy points twice in the last four weeks.

After the connection we saw between Heinicke and McLaurin, it’s hard not to start him. However, the Colts have a very good secondary, with the likes of Stephon Gilmore and Kenny Moore as the headline acts.

Rashod Bateman, WR | BAL @ TB

Rashod Bateman returned to the field in Week 7 and played 56% of the snaps. He saw five targets with four receptions and 42 receiving yards. It might seem like limited usage, but prior to the injury, Bateman was only playing just over 60% of the snaps and averaging 5.33 targets per game. He has relied on finding the end zone to be a fantasy starter this season.

The Buccaneers have been a very mixed matchup in recent weeks. They are very much a middle-of-the-pack defense against wide receivers, but they will have a large amount of focus on Bateman as the main WR for the offense. The Buccaneers have the fifth-best defense in points allowed, which is a concern for a TD-dependent receiver still recovering from a foot injury and playing on a short week.

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