2020 Fantasy Football: Treats, Tricks, and Creepers for Week 8!
With Halloween tomorrow, we're rounding the turn into November football starting on Sunday with Week 8's action. We're already at the halfway point of the NFL season, so this season is absolutely flying by at a breakneck pace.
Each week here in this column, you'll find a start, a sit, and a sleeper for each position in fantasy football at the end of every week to get you options in your starting lineups. The starts will be players I typically have ranked higher than the consensus, the sits will be players I have ranked lower than consensus, and the sleepers will be lower ranked options that when the week is said and done, they'll be ranked much higher than initially thought.
This week though, we set these with a little more of a spooky tone, with a start (treat), sit (trick), and sleeper (creeper)!
ALSO, if you're in need of some start/sit advice on Sunday morning, myself and Gary Haddow will be co-hosting another show, called "Fighting Chance Kickoff" from 10AM to 11AM CT each week. We'll be sorting through the inactives, weather, start/sits, and the latest roster news to get your prepared for the week's matchups! We'll be putting up a tweet on Saturdays about submitting your starts/sits to us to answer live on the show, so keep tabs on us on Twitter @ktompkinsii, @garyhaddow1, and @FCFantasySports!
Now that we've gotten the housekeeping portion out of the way, let's get into the Treats, Tricks, and Creepers for Week 8!
START THIS TREAT: Joe Burrow, CIN vs. TEN
On the day after Halloween, the Cincinnati Bengals, will be led by the top overall draft pick of this past NFL draft, Joe Burrow against the Tennessee Titans.
In Week 8, Burrow will be, indeed, a graveyard smash.
You can pencil in at least 18.6 fantasy points for Burrow, as every quarterback facing the Titans has scored at least that many points. Add in the two dynamic receivers in Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, plus the admittedly revitalized A.J. Green, which forms a pretty formidable trio of pass-catchers for Burrow to throw to, and you've got a recipe for success. Burrow has thrown for 300 yards in five of his last six games and the Titans have allowed the last five quarterbacks they've played to throw multiple touchdowns against them.
Burrow is on a roll with his play thus far and he's a very easy start for fantasy managers this week.
DON'T GET TRICKED BY Cam Newton, NE @ BUF
I haven't gotten the call yet to come in and play wide receiver for the Patriots, but I'm hopeful that a call from a 716 area code will hit my phone soon. The Pats need all the help that they can get with Julian Edelman ruled out after having precautionary surgery.
Since coming off of the COVID-19 list, Cam Newton has not looked like the Cam we saw to open up 2020, scoring a combined 22.3 fantasy points in two losses to the Broncos and 49ers. He's also thrown a grand total of zero touchdowns and five interceptions. He was actually pulled from last week's game in favor of Jarrett Stidham, so we'll see if that's a developing situation.
Still, even against a relatively neutral defense in Buffalo, the damage quarterbacks have done against the Bills has been through the air and the Patriots don't have the firepower to capitalize at this moment.
It's way too risky to trust Cam Newton right now.
CREEPING UP THE RANKINGS? Baker Mayfield, CLE vs. LV
As far as talent, Odell Beckham might have as much talent as any wide receiver in the NFL. While it hurts to lose a player of that talent in an offense, something can be said for Baker Mayfield reeling off almost 300 yards and five touchdowns AFTER Beckham went down with his ACL injury last week against the Bengals.
The Raiders have been incredibly porous against the passing game this season, allowing an average of over 30 fantasy points to the trio of quarterbacks they've faced in the last three games. The Raiders have also allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Vegas sees this game as pretty high scoring, with a 52.5 point over/under, and while the Browns tend to run close to an even split with their run/pass ratio (50.6% pass to 49.4% run), this game could stay in neutral game script for a good portion of it, which should mix in more pass versus a game script that has the Browns leading by more than seven points.
In Week 8, with no Beckham? No problem.
START THIS TREAT: Boston Scott, PHI vs. DAL
The only place or person that's been fantasy relevant the last week or so related to the name "Boston", Boston Scott, should be in line to start for the Eagles with Miles Sanders still on the shelf with a knee injury that hasn't allowed him to practice the last two sessions.
The good news is that last week, Boston Scott saw 15 touches, scored a touchdown, and finished as RB10. Scott should have many more opportunities to dominate an over-matched Cowboys defense, who haven't stopped anybody this season. In each of the last four contests, the Cowboys have allowed starting running backs to total at least 70 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. We saw Scott get 56 out of a possible 81 snaps as well (69%) which is a very nice total and one that doesn't figure to let another back work their way in to cap Scott's upside.
Boston Scott is a great start this week that could flirt with top-8 upside at the position in Week 8.
DON'T GET TRICKED BY James Conner, PIT @ BAL
James Conner has stayed relatively healthy (even for him) this season, but there's one big impediment to his Week 8 success: The Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens have given up the fewest fantasy points to running backs so far in 2020. They've also been incredibly stout defending the goal-line, allowing only one rushing touchdown on 13 attempts.
Vegas is projecting a low-scoring game with an over/under of 46 points, so while this game could be one controlled by the run game, if the Ravens (favored by 4 to 4.5 points) get out to a lead, that might lessen the opportunity for Conner. We also saw Benny Snell get involved, snaking a touchdown away last week. Teams have also tried to attack Baltimore through the air, passing the ball 64% of the time.
While the opportunity Conner does get (15+ carries in last five games) bodes a bit well, I'm not sure he can do a lot with that opportunity if game-script is going to be a factor.
Conner is still an RB2 for me, but on the lower end.
CREEPING UP THE RANKINGS? Le'Veon Bell, KC
Normally I'd have some statistics to back up my thesis on a player. Whether it be a porous defense, trending data, tendencies, etc.
This week, Le'Veon Bell is going to get a ton of opportunity against the New York Jets, the team that jettisoned (pun totally intended) him a few short weeks ago. How fitting was it that the last couple of teams he whittled his list to were the Miami Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs, the next two teams up on the schedule for the Jets?
Bell goes from Adam Gase's grasp to a giant gasp of fresh air in Kansas City, with a bountiful offensive environment and the hopes of winning a second consecutive Super Bowl.
Oh, and you have to figure as Bell learns more of the offensive playbook, his role will continue to expand.
Revenge game. Out of Adam Gase's clutches. Let's ride. Lev Bell is a top-15 running back this week.
START THIS TREAT: Brandon Aiyuk, SF @ SEA
Brandon Aiyuk, home of the WOPR. No, not the sandwich from Burger King. I'm going to be using a bit more of this metric from Josh Hermsmeyer.
Basically, it's a weighted metric combining a player's target share with a player's air yards share. The weight is more toward the target share but is a very good indicator of fantasy points potential going forward.
For that metric, Brandon Aiyuk's 28% target share and insane 63% air yards share last week combined for Aiyuk finishing 5th in WOPR last week, just behind other Week 7 studs like Terry McLaurin, Davante Adams, Tyler Lockett, and Tyreek Hill.
I'd say that's... good? Good company?
Aiyuk gets to see the Seattle Seahawks in Week 8, who are allowing the most fantasy points to opposing fantasy wide receivers and the second-most explosive plays (20+ passes).
Freaking sign me up. Aiyuk had a 6/115 line last week and has an awesome chance to at the very least replicate that and then some. I like the "then some".
DON'T GET TRICKED BY DeVante Parker, MIA vs. LAR
Not only is DeVante Parker a bit hobbled with a groin injury, but he gets the comforting (not so much) matchup against Jalen Ramsey.
Not only is Parker facing Ramsey, but he's seeing passes from a left-handed Tua Tagovailoa for the first time in real-life game action. There's going to be an adjustment period there.
Not only is Parker catching passes from Tagovailoa, but he's going up against a defensive unit that has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to the wide receiver position.
If you have better options, go for those. Parker is tough to stomach this week with all of these factors in play.
CREEPING UP THE RANKINGS? Denzel Mims, NYJ @ KC
With Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman both down for the New York Jets, we'll likely be seeing Denzel Mims as the de facto WR1.
(Well great, Kev, but it's the Jets.)
Yes, it's the Jets. They're almost a three-touchdown underdog against the Kansas City Chiefs. But there are passes to be thrown, balls to be caught, and fantasy points to be had. Even by the Jets. Let's take a beauty in negative spaces approach here.
Denzel Mims was drafted to be a playmaker for this team, and believe me, the team is famished. He saw seven targets last week in his season debut. If you're looking for a guy who has the physical tools that can find his way into some solid usage in garbage time or otherwise, Denzel Mims is a decent option for that. I trust him over the Braxton Berrios' and Jeff Smiths of the world.
START THIS TREAT: Jonnu Smith, TEN @ CIN
The Cincinnati Bengals are the second-worst team in the NFL in fantasy points allowed to the tight end position and opposing tight ends have an almost 26% target share against those same Bengals this season. They let Harrison Bryant go off and let David Njoku score a touchdown, so there's definitely points to be had for Jonnu Smith week in one of the highest predicted scoring matchups in the entire Week 8 slate.
Before Smith got hurt, he had four consecutive TE9 or better performances. He should definitely be the closest he's been to being healthy and just in time for this very good matchup.
It's time to get Jonnu back in your lineups. He's a TE1 and a damn good one at that with lots of production to be had.
DON'T GET TRICKED BY Robert Tonyan, GB vs. MIN
It seems like that three-touchdown performance from Robert Tonyan was so long ago and we were all prognosticating the Packers having their third pass-catching option to bank on after Davante Adams and Aaron Jones. Well to quote Lee Corso, "not so fast, my friend!".
Since the Packers' bye week just three short weeks ago, Tonyan has only has five receptions, 57 yards, and zero touchdowns on six targets. No, that's two games, not one. Simply put, he's a volatile TE streamer who needs optimal scoring conditions to succeed and even then, it's very hard to trust. Tonyan is losing rostership little by little, but outside of the aforementioned Adams and Jones, you can't put stock into anybody else in this offense.
Could some of this be attributed to an ankle injury he's working and playing through? Sure. Still, that's not somebody I want to start and hope he falls into the end zone. I'd rather start players with more upside and more consistent usage in their offense.
CREEPING UP THE RANKINGS? Trey Burton, IND @ DET
I hope you didn't forget about Trey!
It's easy because he had his bye last week, but Trey Burton had an excellent game last time we saw him, which was Week 6 where he had four catches, 58 yards, and two total touchdowns against the Bengals.
This week, he gets the Detroit Lions and is an easily startable back-end TE1 option and a good matchup against those Lions. What are you looking for in a streamer tight end? Well, Burton has opportunity covered, with five targets in each game this season. With the flux going on among the pass-catchers, it's definitely a spot where Rivers might look to get the tight end involved, just like... every single other year.
Don't sleep on Trey Burton this week, he's one of the only Indy Specials currently available in the passing game.
You can find Kevin Tompkins on Twitter @ktompkinsii. and co-hosting both Fighting Chance Live! and Fighting Chance Kickoff on Sunday mornings with Gary Haddow, also of fightingchancefantasy.com. In Kevin's free time, he likes to draft wide receivers, ignore running backs until the 9th round, and snap up the occasional elite tight end.