by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Just hours before the start of Week 8 I know many people have questions running through their heads. Who should I start? Who should I sit? Let’s take a look at how some of the recent news changes things:
Golden Tate – Detroit Lions – Wide Receiver
Indications are Tate’s going to play against the Steelers, though he’s listed as questionable and there is a list of questions that are hanging over him:
- With an 8:30 PM EST start time, you need to have an alternative in place just in case (maybe someone like Juju Smith-Schuster) especially considering Ian Rapoport’s saying tweet this morning stating that Tate “is pushing to play vs. #Steelers, despite an injury thought to keep him out for weeks. Could happen”
- If he does play, could he be limited/utilized as a decoy
- The Steelers are giving up the fewest points per week to opposing wide receivers
Even if he plays can we really trust him? It’s going to be tough, and he’s nothing more than a desperation dart throw.
Verdict – High risk WR3
Melvin Gordon – San Diego Chargers – Running Back
According to Adam Schefter (via Twitter):
Chargers’ RB Melvin Gordon, listed as questionable for Sunday vs Patriots due to foot injury, will play, per source. Foot is issue, though.
It seems like Gordon has been playing through some type of injury all season long, though it’s fair to wonder if this one will have an impact on his performance. The Patriots represent a favorable matchup (fifth most points per week to opposing RB), though they’ve also struggled against passing attacks so the Chargers could let Philip Rivers shoulder the load.
It’s hard to imagine him getting 25+ touches, though it’s not impossible, and his ability to catch the football keeps his value elevated. There’s obviously risk, but the reward far outweighs it
Verdict – Must use option
Dez Bryant – Dallas Cowboys – Wide Receiver
While Bryant hasn’t been putting up gaudy yardage totals, he has scored a TD in four of his past five games. The problem is the expected return of Josh Norman, whose return is going to dramatically improve the Washington secondary. They allowed 2 TD to opposing wide receivers in Week 7 and have 3 TD allowed over their past two games. Overall this season? Just 4, so that speaks volumes to the impact Norman has on the overall defense.
Considering the yardage (Bryant has 63 yards or fewer in all but one game this season) and the matchup, Bryant will be a TD dependent option. The upside is there, but it’s all dependent on him finding the end zone. Would we bank on that, given the potential for an Ezekiel Elliot based attack? We wouldn’t be so sure…
Verdict – TD dependent WR2
DeAndre Hopkins – Houston Texans – Wide Receiver
According to Aaron Wilson (via Twitter), in two separate tweets:
Bill O’Brien on DeAndre Hopkins: ‘I would tell you he’ll be here. If something changes, we’ll let you know.’
D’Onta Foreman and DeAndre Hopkins both listed as missing practice for non-injury related reasons
The bigger concern for Hopkins isn’t the missed time, but the matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. While they aren’t the elite defense that they once were, they are allowing the fourth fewest points per week to opposing wide receivers and the third fewest receiving yards (behind only the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers).
That said he’s a target monster (65) and has scored 5 TD in his past three games. The matchup may knock him down to a high-end WR2, but he’s still a must use.
Verdict – Must use WR2 (low-end WR1)
Matt Forte – New York Jets – Running Back
He’s not listed on the injury report and should “lead” a crowded Jets backfield in a game that will be greatly influenced by poor weather. He is coming off a solid game against Miami, where he led New York in touches:
- Matt Forte – 12 touches for 82 yards
- Bilal Powell – 11 touches for 83 yards
- Elijah McGuire – 3 touches for 7 yards
Atlanta has allowed the sixth most points per week to opposing running backs, including 3 receiving TD. Forte is the best bet in a bit of a murky situation.
Verdict – Viable FLEX play
Stefon Diggs – Minnesota Vikings – Wide Receiver
He’s listed as questionable, but considering he’s practicing in full it’s hard to imagine that he’s not going to play. While a matchup with the Browns isn’t necessarily ideal, they also aren’t one that we’d go out of our way to avoid. Prior to getting hurt Diggs had produced 90+ yards in three of four games, including scoring 2 TD twice. There are always going to be concerns about Case Keenum at QB, as he has only one game this season with more than 240 yards passing. Also you take out a 3 TD performance and he has 2 TD across his other five games. Diggs is going to have the upside potential, but he’s a much better sell as a WR3 for this one.
Verdict – Viable WR3 option
JuJu Smith-Schuster – Pittsburgh Steelers – Wide Receiver
He’s cleared the concussion protocol and isn’t listed on the injury report, so he’s clearly all systems go for Week 8. With Martavis Bryant set to miss the game, that means Smith-Schuster will continue to operate as the slot receiver. The Lions are a middle of the road defense against opposing wide receivers and the Steelers have moved to a LeVeon Bell-centric offense. The targets haven’t been there (27 total targets on the season) and he hasn’t had more than 4 receptions or 58 yards in a game this season. He’s a TD dependent option, but we wouldn’t bank on it.
Verdict – High risk, low reward
Ted Ginn – New Orleans Saints – Wide Receiver
Willie Snead was expected back last week, and while his return was delayed he’s not on the injury report and will be back playing in Week 8. The question is how does that impact someone like Ginn? Ginn is coming off a 7 catch, 141 yard performance but chances are the return of Snead cuts down those targets (as does the matchup against a Bears team that is going to try and control the clock and limit the Saints’ snaps).
We also have this quote from Drew Brees, courtesy of ESPN’s Mike Triplett, “When you have that much time together, that’s when you really develop a rapport. And there’s things that we can reference too, together, from years past that might help us with a certain route or a certain concept that we’re installing week to week. So I have a ton of confidence in him.”
With Ginn losing targets to a returning Snead, Coleman emerging as a go-to red zone threat and Michael Thomas being the top option, Ginn could easily get lost in the shuffle. Consider him more of a high risk, high reward WR3.
Verdict – There’s upside, but he’s a high risk, high reward WR3
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
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Make sure to check out all of our Week 8 rankings: