Just hours before the start of Week 8’s Sunday action 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:
Keenan Allen – Los Angeles Chargers – Wide Receiver
Chargers’ WR Keenan Allen wants to test his hamstring pre-game Sunday before making any decisions about whether he can play against the Bears, but he was not optimistic this weekend that he will be able to go against Chicago, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 27, 2019
We will get clarity early in the day, with the Bears and Chargers set to play at 1:00 PM EST, but it doesn’t sound promising. Even if Allen ultimately dresses, we have to keep in mind that he may not get much usage as there are numerous risks at play:
- Could Allen suffer a setback?
- Could Allen be utilized more as a decoy or be limited in his snaps, as was indicated by ESPN’s Eric D. Williams on Saturday?
- Could the Chargers lean on their running backs after the Bears were exposed by the Saints a week ago?
That’s far too much risk, and we’d be using someone like Tyrell Williams (who we will discuss later in this column) as opposed to Allen.
Verdict – Sit ‘Em
Latavius Murray – New Orleans Saints – Running Back
The #Saints are getting back QB Drew Brees, but they still won’t be at full strength. Star RB Alvin Kamara, battling ankle and knee injuries, is not expected to play today against the #AZCardinals, sources say. He should be good to go in Week 10 after the bye.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 27, 2019
The news shouldn’t come as a big surprise, leaving Murray to carry the load for the second consecutive week. He helped to expose the Chicago defense in Week 7 (119 rushing yards, 31 receiving yards and 2 TD). Arizona would appear to offer up a tougher matchup, allowing the ninth fewest points per week to opposing running backs, though that’s more a factor of few TD allowed (5 total TD, 3 rushing TD) as opposed to yardage (693 rushing yards is the 10th most allowed).
With the Saints bringing back Drew Brees this week there’s a good chance that he’s eased back into things, and Murray again is a focal point of the offense. That makes Murray an ideal RB2 candidate with RB1 upside.
Verdict – Start ‘Em
Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints – Quarterback
Drew Brees will start for the Saints against the Arizona Cardinals sources tell me and @edwerderespn— Dianna (@diannaESPN) October 26, 2019
It’s a little bit of a surprise, with the Saints having their bye in Week 9 and the team playing well with Teddy Bridgewater under center. It would be easy to call Brees a no-brainer QB1 and there’s reason to believe that he’s a viable option, but there are some risks involved:
- Could he suffer a setback?
- Are the Cardinals as strong of a matchup, with Patrick Peterson back in the secondary (their defense looked significantly better in Week 7)?
It all depends on your alternatives, but consider Brees a risky QB1.
Verdict – Start ‘Em (but not a must start)
Matt Schaub – Atlanta Falcons – Quarterback
With Matt Ryan ruled out on Saturday it will be Schaub starting for the Falcons. While the Seahawks are a middle of the road defense against opposing quarterbacks, does anyone really think trusting Schaub is a good idea? He has thrown 10 passes or fewer in three of the past four seasons and in 2015, when he had 80 attempts, he had more interceptions (4) than touchdowns (3).
The bigger issue is Schaub’s impact on the other skill players for Atlanta. While many of them may are still usable, let’s quickly rundown their outlook:
- Julio Jones (WR) – It’s possible he struggles, but there’s no way you have him on your bench
- Calvin Ridley (WR) – We already had him as a borderline WR3, but now he’s nearly impossible to trust
- Austin Hooper (TE) – He’s been one of the best tight ends in the game and could operate as a safety valve for Schaub, so continue to view him as a TE1
- Devonta Freeman (RB) – Even in a less than favorable matchup you have to think that he’s going to get the ball early and often, so continue to view him as a viable RB2
Josh Jacobs – Oakland Raiders – Running Back
#Raiders RB Josh Jacobs (shoulder) is expected to play today, while Jon Gruden said WR Tyrell Williams (foot) should be back, as well. OT Trent Brown (calf) is also expected to play, while #Texans CB Bradley Roby (hamstring) is out for Houston.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 27, 2019
Jacobs has been the Raiders star this season, as he’s averaged 5.1 yards/carry while posting 554 yards and 4 TD. He’s been thriving even without much of a passing game, but the return of Tyrell Williams could further open things up. The matchup against the Vikings isn’t ideal (they’ve allowed the fifth fewest points per week to opposing running backs), but Jacobs has simply been too good to have on the bench. Maybe he’s a RB2 this week, but he’s usable all the same.
Verdict – Start ‘Em (as RB2)
Tyrell Williams – Oakland Raiders – Wide Receiver
Raiders’ WR Tyrell Williams, listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Texans due to a foot injury, is expected to play, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 27, 2019
Williams hasn’t played in a month, though he had proven to be Derek Carr’s go to option scoring a TD in each of the first four games to go along with 7 targets in three of them. His return is very well timed, as he’ll take on a Houston defense that’s allowed the third most points per week to opposing wide receivers, including 11 TD (tied for the most in the league).
With the Raiders potentially limiting Josh Jacobs (though as we’ve already noted he’s expected to play) and without any other wide receiver stepping up (Williams still leads the team’s receivers in reception and yards), it’s easy to pencil Williams right back into lineups.
Verdict – Start ‘Em as WR3 (and usable WR2, depending on your alternatives)
Chase Edmonds – Arizona Cardinals – Running Back
Here we go again… A week ago David Johnson was a game time call, only to dress, play a handful of snaps and than watch Edmonds torch the New York Giants. Will we see a similar outcome this week? The fact that Arizona went out and signed a pair of veterans earlier in the week could be telling, but even if Johnson does dress it’s nearly a given that his snaps are cut back significantly. Why wouldn’t Arizona, after watching Edmonds produce like an elite running back in Week 7? While we haven’t gotten official confirmation quite yet, this tweet isn’t surprising:
Cardinals RB David Johnson won’t play Sunday against the Saints due to his ankle injury, per source. Johnson is expected to miss Sunday vs. Saints and Thursday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 27, 2019
Arizona also faces a much stiffer test in Week 8, taking on a Saints’ defense that’s allowed the fourth fewest points to opposing running backs (only 3 TD allowed). That doesn’t make Edmonds unusable, but he’s more of a RB2 for this week.
Verdict – Start ‘Em (as a RB2)
Emmanuel Sanders – San Francisco 49ers – Wide Recevier
“He’s going to play … a lot.” — Kyle Shanahan on Emmanuel Sanders.— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) October 25, 2019
It’s great that Sanders is expected to be on the field a significant amount of the time in his first game with San Francisco, but does that make him trustworthy? The 49ers are a run heavy offense and that may not change, and even if it does it’ll take more than a few days to get there. While the Panthers have allowed the sixth most points per week to opposing wide receivers, the potential to get limited opportunities and having not yet built a rapport with Jimmy Garoppolo looms large. As a desperation WR3 he’s worth considering, but in his first game that’s all he is.
Verdict – Sit ‘Em (desperation WR3 if needed)
Davante Adams – Green Bay Packers – Wide Receiver
Packers’ WR Davante Adams, listed as doubtful for Sunday night vs. the Chiefs due to turf toe, is not expected to play, per sources. But Adams is likely to return next week at the Los Angeles Chargers, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 27, 2019
With an 8:00 PM EST start this one is extremely easy. Adams is an obvious sit, even if there appeared to be a chance the he played, considering the limited replacements you’d have and the potential for Adams to be significantly limited. Keep him on your bench, but be prepared to slide him back in next week.
Verdict – Sit ‘Em
Tedd Ginn Jr,- New Orleans Saints – Wide Receiver
The Saints ruled Tre’Quan Smith out on Friday, leaving Ginn to join Michael Thomas as the team’s starting wide receivers. Of course that hasn’t necessarily led to big performances from Stills over the past few weeks:
- October 13 (at Jacksonville) – 2 receptions for 36 yards
- October 20 (at Chicago) – 2 receptions for 48 yards
He has been targeted 11 times over these past two weeks and maybe Drew Brees return will change the outlook. As is, however, it’s clear that Ginn’s upside isn’t high enough to consider (even in a somewhat favorable matchup).
Verdict – Sit ‘Em
Dede Westbrook – Wide Receiver – Jacksonville Jaguars
Jaguars’ WR Dede Westbrook, listed as questionable for Sunday with shoulder and neck injuries, is expected to play vs Jets, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 27, 2019
Westbrook has proven to be an effective option along with D.J. Chark, having posted 6 catches and 102 yards last week against the Bengals. Over the past three weeks he’s averaged 9.33 targets per week and he’s posted a pair of 80+ yard games. However Westbrook hasn’t scored since Week 1 and the Jets defense against opposing wide receivers hasn’t been abysmal (they haven’t allowed more than 161 yards to an opposing receiving corps since Week 3). While that may limit Westbrook’s ceiling, the floor is enough to put him on WR3 radars.
Verdict – Startable as WR3, but not more (and not a must start)
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
Make sure to check out all of our Week 8 rankings: