The fantasy matchup stats you need to know for Week 8
Jeff Ratcliffe offers the top thing to know for fantasy in each game this weekend.
The fantasy matchup stats you need to know for Week 8
Play the matchups in fantasy football, and you’ll win more often than you lose. Now that we’re in the thick of the bye weeks, knowing the matchups to avoid and exploit becomes even more important. Bellow you’ll find the key matchup stats to know from each of the 14 remaining games this week.
Don’t forget to also take a look at the best and worst wide receiver matchups for the week. Also, new this week, we have our fantasy positional matchups chart, which allows you to quickly identify all of the best matchups each week for all offensive and IDP positions.
Just a quick note about the recommendations. Downgrading a player is not the same as sitting a player. If an RB1 is downgraded, that means he moves to an RB2 for the week, and vice versa for upgrades. These matchup recommendations and others are reflected in our weekly rankings, which are an invaluable tool in lineup decision making each week.
Washington @ Cincinnati
Rob Kelley could be a sneaky RB2 play.
Keep an eye on the Washington injury report. Matt Jones is dealing with a knee injury and didn’t practice on Wednesday or Thursday. He appears to be on the wrong side of questionable, which would put Kelley in play for Sundays contest against the Bengals. Kelley has only been on the field for 32 offensive snaps this season, but he flashed upside in Week 6 with 59 yards on five carries. While the Bengals are a solid defensive unit, they are giving up the 10th-most fantasy points per game to running backs. Opposing backs average 4.4 yards per carry against Cincinnati. Kelley has the potential to be a solid fantasy play this week.
Kansas City @ Indianapolis
Spencer Ware continues to roll this week.
Sorry Jamaal Charles owners, but the veteran doesn’t appear to be much closer to reassuming his former role. His recovering knee continues to limit him in practice, and the Chiefs are in no rush to get him back to full speed especially given Ware’s play. Over the last two weeks, Jay Ajayi and David Johnson are the only running backs who have outscored Ware. The good times keep coming this week, as Ware faces a Colts defense that grades out dead last in run defense. Indy yields the second-most total yards per game to running backs (162.1). Ware is poised for another big day.
Oakland @ Tampa Bay
Jameis Winston is in play as a streamer option.
It’s been an up-and-down season so far for Winston, but we have seen him capitalize on good matchups. Last week, he did what he was supposed to do against the sub-par 49ers defense, posting three scores through the air. Winston gets another strong matchup this week, as the Raiders have surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, thanks largely to a league-high 302.1 passing yards per game yielded. Winston is a top-10 play.
Seattle @ New Orleans
Get Christine Michael in your starting lineup.
We had Michael in this column last week as a fade against a tough Cardinals defense, which ended up being sound advice. Don’t let that perform cloud your vision this week. Michael is an absolute must-start on the road against the Saints. New Orleans gives up an average of two total touchdowns per game to opposing running backs, and they’re the No. 1 matchup for the position. Lock Michael in as an RB1 this week.
Detroit @ Houston
If you’re bold, Brock Osweiler is a streamer option.
Given his performance so far this season, very few fantasy players are going to be willing to trust Osweiler this week. But desperate times call for desperate measures. With six teams on bye, the pickings may be slim, and Osweiler is very much in play this week given his matchup. The Lions have consistently surrendered big fantasy days to opposing quarterbacks, including Case Keenum two weeks ago. Osweiler isn’t a fantasy consideration most weeks, but he’s a sneaky QB2 or DFS tournament play in Week 8.
NY Jets @ Cleveland
Or you could stream Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Yep. It’s that kind of week. But remember, it’s the NFL. Any given Sunday crazy things can happen. This weekend, that craziness could include Fitzpatrick finishing as a top-10 fantasy option. With Geno Smith on injured reserve, Fitzpatrick draws the start in a fantastic matchup against a Browns defense that has given up at least two passing touchdowns in every game they’ve played this season. Even Fitzpatrick can’t screw this one up. Can he?
New England @ Buffalo
Start Gronk. Sit Bennett.
The Bills currently rank as the third-worst fantasy matchup for opposing tight ends, but you aren’t sitting Rob Gronkowski. If he’s healthy, you start him. Always. However, those considering Martellus Bennett may want to pursue other options. Not only is the matchup difficult, but Bennett has also faded over the last two weeks, with just six targets compared to 12 for Gronkowski.
Arizona @ Carolina
Tough matchup, but don’t sit Cam Newton
You didn’t draft him in the third round (or earlier) to sit him for Jameis Winston or some other streamer, did you? Sure, the matchup is a rough one. The Cards have held opposing quarterbacks in check this season and currently rank as the fourth-worst matchup for the position. But this is Newton we’re talking about. His enormous floor means even a “bad” week is still likely to net you QB1 numbers.
San Diego @ Denver
Giddy up with Devontae Booker.
The rookie out of Utah assumes lead back duties with C.J. Anderson now on injured reserve. His tenure should start with a bang, as he gets to face a porous Chargers defense that currently yields the second-most fantasy point per game to opposing running backs. In a limited role two weeks ago, Booker racked up 46 yards on five carries, chipping in another seven yards on two catches. The Chargers give up the most receptions per game to running backs (8.7) and also yield 1.1 rushing touchdowns per game to the position. Booker is in the RB1 conversation this week.
Green Bay @ Atlanta
The Ty Montgomery train keeps rolling.
Is he a running back or a wide receiver? As long as he keeps producing the way he has over the last two weeks, who cares? Over that span, Montgomery has 32 touches – he has 12 carries and 20 catches – and ranks 13th among all flex players in PPR scoring. His role as a hybrid player will continue this week in a strong matchup on the fast track in Atlanta. The Falcons currently yield the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. Fire Montgomery as a running back or wide receiver this week.
Philadelphia @ Dallas
Downgrade Ryan Mathews this week.
You may not have many options with so many teams on bye, but you should avoid Mathews if at all possible. Not only has he been a generally lackluster fantasy option this season, but he also gets a rough matchup against a Cowboys defense that gives up the third-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs. Opposing runners have scored just two times on Dallas this season. Mathews is on the outside of the RB2s looking in.
Minnesota @ Chicago
Sit all your Bears except Alshon Jeffery.
This is going to be a theme each week for whoever is playing the Vikings. Minnesota currently ranks as the second-worst matchup for quarterbacks and receivers, and they’re the seventh-worst for running backs. That means avoid Jordan Howard, Cameron Meredith and Jay Cutler. The one exception this week is Jeffery. Don’t get me wrong. He isn’t a strong play. However, with six teams on bye, Jeffery is still in play as a WR2 option given his projected target volume with Cutler back under center.
Jeff Ratcliffe | Director of Fantasy
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.