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Play Em’ or Bench Em’: Week 8

Hello good people,
Here we are at the midway point of the NFL season. Hopefully you’re still doing well and in the thick of the playoff race. If you’re not, then go for the best team in the consolation bracket. Keep going. The NFL and fantasy season is a grind and you still have another half to go. Let’s go out there and get a ‘W’ this week! Go get it like you want it. Put up 150 points this week. Okay enough pep talk, let’s break down the players.
***Obvious players like Tom Brady, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Travis Kelce and other players of that caliber will not be featured in these columns***

Play Em’


-Phillip Rivers at New England Patriots

  • Phillip Rivers and the Chargers are clicking as a team and playing winning football. Outside of the downward spiraling Falcons, the Patriots have allowed a 300 yard passer in every game this season. The way Rivers has the offense playing it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Patriots secondary being generous again this week. Factor in the opposing quarterback in Tom Brady being able to put his offense in position to score each drive; this could be a high scoring affair that Phillip Rivers should enjoy.

-Carson Wentz v. San Francisco 49ers

  • The current favorite to win the MVP has thrown for 3+ touchdowns in 3 straight games. This week he’ll look to continue that streak with a very favorable match up against the 49ers. The 49ers defense is young and upcoming, but they’re still a win-less team with questions in the secondary. A week removed from seeing Dak Prescott completely dismantle the 49ers defense, Carson Wentz and company should be able to put up similar production. Look for his 3+ touchdown streak to continue this week in another big point total win for the Eagles.

-Kirk Cousins v. Dallas Cowboys

  • The Redskins are starting to phase out forcing the ball to Terrelle Pryor and giving their in-house receivers more of a chance. Well, it’s paying off so far as Cousins is getting more production from Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson than they ever did from Pryor as the starting #1 guy. Kirk Cousins has been pretty good against his divisional rivals and will face another favorable match up this again this week. The Cowboys secondary has been inconsistent and have struggled to contain quarterbacks on the upper half of the league in talent.

-Cam Newton at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • The Panthers offense struggled mightily last week in Chicago. Fortunately for Cam Newton and the offense they have a date with the worst defense in the league this week. Cam Newton is an emotional guy and if the Panthers want their franchise quarterback to return to his happy go-lucky self and get back to dominating ways they’ll unleashing him in this game. Newton’s dual threat qualities will serve nothing except issues for a team struggling to stop water with a strainer. Cam Newton has top 5 fantasy point total written all over him this week. Start him comfortably.


-Case Keenum at Cleveland Browns (London 9:30am ET)

  • The Browns are good at stopping the run and that’s what the Vikings do well. Case Keenum will have to pass the ball more in this game which will be fine because he’s been a serviceable replacement for Sam Bradford. The Browns secondary is one of the many weak links on the team and Case Keenum should be the latest quarterback to have a field day.

Running Back

-Joe Mixon v. Indianapolis Colts

  • The Bengals started the game off committed to the run and it worked seemingly well. After halftime it’s like they just didn’t want to continue what was working and it clearly affected the offense. After the game Joe Mixon expressed his frustration for him and his fellow running backs. The AFC North has seen its fair share of ‘divas’ this season. AJ Green, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell all had a moment this season and followed up with big games the next week. I think Joe Mixon will have his “break-out” game this week in a huge win.

-Jordan Howard at New Orleans Saints

  • The Bears are playing good defense right now. They’re that old school type of team that plays great defense and runs the ball to control time of possession to win games. Jordan Howard is that back the Bears are using and abusing on the offensive side of the ball. This week Howard faces a Saints defense that’s been improved over the last month, but still gives up big plays in the running game. I can see Howard running wild on the Saints defense this week and rack up over 100 total yards.

-LeSean McCoy v. Oakland Raiders

  • TOUCHDOWN! McCoy finally found the end-zone last week, actually twice and now that he’s rested after the Bills bye week the (fantasy) first round running back is about to hit a string of games that are very generous to opposing running backs. The Bills led the league in rushing yards last year and they got back to their roots last week against the Buccaneers. The Raiders defense is underappreciated as a unit, but it’s not a world-beater either. I can see McCoy building a touchdown streak and give his owners the long awaited high point totals in consecutive games.

-Devonta Freeman at New York Jets

  • The Falcons are slowly turning away form a dual running back approach. Tevin Coleman is a good running back, but he’s just not getting the opportunities like he did last year. On the other hand, Freeman is getting a slight uptick in touches and he’s making the best with those chances. We’re still waiting to see that huge explosive break-out game from Freeman and I think it comes this week. It’s step up perfectly really. The Falcons offense hasn’t been a dominate force like last year’s team and the team really needs to oil the offense through the running game. What better week to get the offense clicking then against the New York Jets who are young and give up a lot of big plays. Look for Freeman and the Falcons offense to find their wings again.


-Jalen Richard/DeAndre Washington at Buffalo Bills

  • With a potential suspension looming for Marshawn Lynch, Jalen Richard and Deandre Washington will have to step up in his absence. Last week I listed Richard as a streamer and he responded with 79 total yards versus the Chiefs. DeAndre Washington could be a sleeper as he got a touchdown after Lynch’s boot from the game as well. Both pose as viable options in week 8 as their touches will increase heavily.

-Dion Lewis v. Los Angeles Chargers

  • The Patriots backfield is a headache sure, but that’s why you have me to help decipher it for you. Mike Gillislee was the back to own the first few games of the season and now it’s Dion Lewis. Lewis has 9+ points in 4 straight games in PPR formats and don’t forget Lewis’ fantasy dominance just a couple of years ago before an injury. Dion Lewis is being used more as the in between the tackles guy and good thing for him is that the Chargers are bad at defending the run.

Wide Receiver

-Adam Thielen at Cleveland Browns (London 9:30am ET)

  • It’s a favorable match up for Vikings wide receivers this week. Especially for Adam Thielen. Stefon Diggs has been banged up and even if he ends up playing he’ll get majority of the double coverage and he’s still not quite 100%. Adam Thielen has been a workhorse receiver for the Vikings and I expect it to be true another week on foreign soil. Continue keeping him in your lineups.

-Marvin Jones v. Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday Night)

  • Golden Tate will be out of this game with an injury and Kenny Galloday is still not 100% from his multiple week absence. Marvin Jones is the guy right now for Matthew Stafford and starting to feed him the ball. Jones will be the best Lions receiver on the field come Sunday Night and I expect him to show up big against a team he used to play twice a year. Another 4 touchdown performance? Probably not, but at least one for sure.

-AJ Green v. Indianapolis Colts

  • The Colts haven’t faced a young dominate receiver like AJ Green all season. They’ve struggled containing #1 receivers all year and now they’ll get the best one yet. Andy Dalton certainly favors his big wide out the most within the offense and the duo will look to pair up to take advantage of a wonderful match up. Green should completely dominate this game for the Bengals and had to make this list for the week after a down week against the Steelers. Start him with confidence.

-Alshon Jeffery v. San Francisco 49ers

  • The Eagles team is soaring. Jeffery hasn’t been the dominate force everyone thought he’d be in a Philly uniform, but fact is they don’t him to be. With all the weapons around Carson Wentz it’s more of a team effort on offense. This week Jeffery is due for a break-out game and will look to capitalize on a wonderful match up. The 49ers finally broke last week on defense and now the formula has been set and the Eagles should follow suit. I expect Jeffery to have his best game as an Eagle to date this week.


-Mike Williams at New England Patriots

  • Guess the theme today is big tall receivers. Mike Williams has a couples games under his belt now and still has yet to be that 1st rounder pick type of player. This is a favorable match up where the defense has allowed opposing teams to rack up 300+ yards through the air in 6 of the last 7 games. Mike Williams could finally break-out this week and show why he was a top 10 selection in the draft.

Tight End

-Kyle Rudolph at Cleveland Browns (London 9:30am ET)

  • The Browns are the worst team in the league against tight ends. They simply cannot stop them. This week it’s Kyle Rudolph’s turn to pad some stats. With a Case Keenum still starting and Stefon Diggs probably going to play at less than 100%, it could be the Thielen and Rudolph show in London.

-Jason Witten at Washington Redskins

  • The Redskins have been kind to opposing tight ends this year as well. This week they’ll face a man in Jason Witten who has a knack for the end-zone. I had Witten in the Play Em’ last week against a “bad” match up and rewarded owners with a sweet one handed touchdown. This week I can see him find the end-zone again.

-Tyler Kroft v. Indianapolis Colts

  • The Colts are another team struggling to contain tight ends and with Malik Hooker now on IR it could only get worse for them. Andy Dalton likes AJ Green, but he also enjoys throwing to whoever is tight end for the week is as well. Look for Tyler Kroft to be very active against the Colts this week.


-AJ Derby at Kansas City Chiefs (Monday Night)

  • With Emmanuel Sanders among others out, AJ Derby was used more in the passing game. He already was starting to see an uptick in targets, but with team needing some extra help Derby stepped up last week against the Chargers. With the Chiefs being better defensively than the Chargers they can yield the Broncos offense as well for a minimal point total. Derby could see a lot of work throughout the game and maybe even a garbage time touchdown. Either way Derby could be used a lot with the nagging injuries in the receiving core.


-New Orleans Saints v. Chicago Bears

  • Last week Mitchell Trubisky completed 5 passes and still managed to win the game. The Bears defense is good, but they won’t be able to have similar success against Drew Brees and the hot New Orleans Saints. If the Saints can slow down the Bears rushing attack and force Trubisky to throw the ball more, they can create turnovers and keep the Bears offense to a minimum.

-Philadelphia Eagles v. San Francisco 49ers

  • Despite the season injury to Jordan Hicks it’s nothing this defense can handle in this affair. The Eagles are the best team against the run and they’ll stop the run and force the rookie quarterback to throw the ball more than expected. If Ronald Darby returns from injury and plays they could even get a few interceptions. Start the Eagles D.

-Minnesota Vikings at Cleveland Browns (London 9:30am ET)

  • The Browns turn the ball over more than any other team in the NFL. Unfortunately for the Browns and the offense they lost their best player in their left tackle Joe Thomas for the season. That surely won’t help an offense in bottom of almost every category. Whomever the quarterback is this week or in the 2nd half, it won’t be pretty for the Browns.

-Kansas City Chiefs v. Denver Broncos (Monday Night)

  • The Broncos offense is non-existent right now. The Chiefs should have a bounce back game on Monday night after their divisional loss to the Raiders on Thursday. The Chiefs have some holes on defense, but they should still harass Trevor Simian all night and make him continue his mistakes and turnovers.

Bench Em’


-Trevor Siemian at Kansas City Chiefs (Monday Night)

  • Just mentioned this, the Broncos offense is struggling right now. They were just shut out for goodness sake. This and the coming weeks don’t look too promising at an immediate turnover either and that means it could be time to sell your Broncos players. Siemian gave fans a glimmer of hope earlier in the season, but now the truth is revealed. Siemian is a match up based fantasy option and should be benched this week.

-Joe Flacco v. Miami Dolphins (Thursday Night)

  • Another quarterback struggling to do anything positive on the field this season. Thursday night is not enough time to prepare Flacco and this Ravens offense against this suddenly hot Miami Dolphins defense. Not only is Flacco been ineffective this year, but he’s also losing receivers and running back to injuries on a weekly basis. No play-makers to give the ball too and a shaky offensive line against Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh is not a recipe for success. Flacco is in line for shaky game.

-DeShaun Watson at Seattle Seahawks

  • This will be a hostile environment for the rookie passer. Watson was on fire going into the bye week, but I feel like that has cooled him off heading into a tough rough game in Seattle. The Texans could come out flat and rusty after their bye week. Owners that were hoping for another flashy 3+ touchdown performance from Watson this week just might have to wait another week or so before he gets the Texans offense rolling again.

-Derek Carr at Buffalo Bills

  • I wouldn’t quite bench Derek Carr especially since the Raiders are clicking on offense finally. However, having been off a few more days, traveling across country and playing a pretty legit defense will keep Carr and the Raiders in check. This won’t be a high scoring game and could be a 20-14 type of game. So, I understand if you don’t/can’t bench Carr, I’m just saying lower your expectations for the week.

Running Back

-Carlos Hyde at Philadelphia Eagles

  • The Eagles have the best run defense in the league and face a team that’s best player just so happens to be the running back. Not many rushers have had success on the ground this year against the stout front 7 of the Eagles. Factor in that this game could get out of hand real quick and force this 49ers team to abandon the run after a while. Unless Hyde can rack up some yardage through the air, it’ll be best to bench him this week.

-Frank Gore at Cincinnati Bengals

  • The old time runner is slowly losing steam. Marlon Mack is continuing to impress and it’s hard to keep him off the field for a Colts team constantly needing a spark. Frank Gore is also facing a tough front that should be able to handle a back with some miles on it. Like Carlos Hyde, the team could abandon the run after long therefore making it a game where Marlon Mack will get the bulk of the touches.

-Doug Martin v. Carolina Panthers

  • The Panthers held Jordan Howard to 65 total yards last week. Doug Martin has been somewhat touchdown dependent this season and it doesn’t look to favorable in this game. The Panthers may be struggling on offense right now, but they surely don’t lack strength on defense. Unless Martin can sneak into the end-zone this week. He could have his lowest point total of the season in the game.

-Lamar Miller at Seattle Seahawks

  • The Seahawks defense isn’t at full strength, but it’s still a tough unit to play at home. Lamar Miller caught fire with the rest of the Seahawks offensive team, but playing in the rainy city of Seattle just might bring the Texan offense back to Earth. It’ll be a long day for Miller and the Texans running backs this week as the running lanes will be tight.

Wide Receiver

-Demaryius Thomas at Kansas City Chiefs (Monday Night)

  • The lone play-maker was supposed to have another 10+ reception day with 100+ yards and a touchdown last week against the Chargers. Well, try 2 catches for 9 yards for the day. Not having his side-kick made it harder for him to find space in the Chargers defense to create a play. Now he’ll have a date with Marcus Peters and with his quarterback struggling to get him the ball, it could be another low point total from the Bronco receiver.

-TY Hilton at Cincinnati Bengals

  • The deep ball hasn’t been alive for the Colts this year and it’s affected TY Hilton’s stock and value in fantasy. The Bengals don’t give up many deep balls downfield and have an underrated secondary. TY Hilton could have another rough week. Hopefully he doesn’t call out offensive line this time. Instead blame the coaching staff for not putting together a winning game-plan. Hilton unfortunately can’t be trusted as a fantasy starter this week.

-Tyreek Hill v. Denver Broncos (Monday Night)

  • Another speedster in the column. The Denver Bronco’s offense may not be able to keep up with the Chiefs, but the defense is still the No Fly Zone and won’t let Hill burn them deep. Hill is always nursing an injury and could hamper his style a play. Don’t expect Hill to do much in this game.

-Jermaine Kearse v. Atlanta Falcons

  • The Jets receiver core seems to be rotating every so often. Kearse blew up at the start of the season and hasn’t done much with his chances recently. It seems like it’s the Robby Anderson and ASJ show right now and until Kearse gets back into the mix more consistently he’s riding the bench for me.

Tight End

-Coby Fleener v. Chicago Bears

  • The Bears have a great duo in the back of their secondary. Coby Fleener has been almost phased out of the offense with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram catching all the underneath routes for the Saints. Fleener will find it difficult to find separation versus this tough Bears defense and with the running backs taking over the offense. Sit Fleener and quite possibly trade or drop him.

-Julius Thomas at Baltimore Ravens (Thursday Night)

  • The Ravens have been generous to some tight ends this year, but this week I don’t see them being as giving. Julius Thomas has been nothing but disappointing for the Dolphins during his time with the team. Unless Matt Moore favors him, which didn’t seem to happen last week, he should be off your team and into the waiver wire as a bust of a fantasy player. Peyton Manning isn’t coming back to make him fantasy relevant anytime soon. Forget the past and the name and just let him go like you did with Jay Cutler. Good job.

-Jesse James at Detroit Lions (Sunday Night)

  • The Lions have a great young group of talented linebackers and safeties to handle the opposing tight ends and haven’t been to the position all year. The Steelers haven’t featured the tight end in recent weeks and I don’t see it changing this week either. The “Outlaw” as some call him should continue to ride the bench this week I reckon.


-Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins

  • The Cowboys defense looked awesome last week…against the 49ers. Still, it’s an encouraging sign to see the Cowboys get back on track and take care of business like they’re supposed to do. This week’s opponent might not quite be a 49er yet (if ever), but he isn’t going to play down to their level in this game. Kirk Cousins returns for a home game and will look to get his team back to winning ways. Cousins has been good against his division and it should continue again this week.

-Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints

  • The Bears defense has been lights out the last couple of weeks not allowing an offensive touchdown, but this week they’ll face a different type of animal. Drew Brees and the Saints are as hot as any team in the NFL right now and they’ll look to put this Bear team back in its place after a two game win streak.

-New York Jets v. Atlanta Falcons

  • The Falcons are due to explode offensively eventually right? I mean where did the big play offense from just a year ago disappear too? Well, San Francisco, but that’s beside the point. This team is too talented for them not to be able to put points on the board. If they want to get back into the playoffs they need to start playing with a little more urgency. Jets defense can’t keep up with the Falcons in this one…on paper at least.

-New England Patriots v. Los Angeles Chargers

  • The Chargers are another hot team coming into this game. While the Patriots defense is starting to find its’ way it’s still not where it should be. Phillip Rivers and a red hot Chargers team are coming into town and will be able to put up points easily. Typically you don’t want to start a defense that could turn into a shootout and that holds true this week too with the Patriots.
That concludes this week’s edition of Play Em’ or Bench Em’. As always, good luck in your match up(s) and I hope you win. If you ever need more help with your lineup(s) don’t hesitate, me or anyone from the SFT crew. We’ll always respond to you on all of our social media pages. So, don’t forget to like and share us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, as well as connecting with us on LinkedIn. Until next time, have a great day!
Austin Thomas

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