Fantasy football: Week 8 starters, benchwarmers

Ladd Biro
Special to Packer Plus
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Wondering whether or not to start Ezekiel Elliott and Mike Evans, or to bench C.J. Beathard and Kendall Wright? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 8 of the 2017 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers at Patriots: Last Sunday night’s performance against Matt Ryan’s Falcons notwithstanding, New England’s pass defense remains ripe for the picking. Nobody has surrendered more yards or TDs through the air than the Pats. Rivers is armed with a solid receiving corps that’s hungry for the ball, and he will feed them often.

Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals vs. Colts: We’re still waiting for that breakout game we know is coming for Mixon, and it didn’t help when the rookie received zero carries in the second half against Pittsburgh. This may not be the big week, but Mixon should be leaned on heavily against an Indy run defense that has been exploited by big plays recently. Mixon is a big-play kind of back.

Chris Thompson, RB, Redskins vs. Cowboys: With the recent injuries to Washington’s offensive line, the team will likely have trouble moving the ball on the ground, even against a so-so Dallas run defense. Look for Thompson to be a big part of the game plan, particularly as a receiver out of the backfield, as Kirk Cousins looks for quick hits and continues to ignore his mediocre wideouts.

Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers at Buccaneers: Funchess has been getting plenty of targets from Cam Newton (no less than seven per game since Week 2), yet he hasn’t done much with them save for two of those outings. Against the awful Bucs secondary, which has given up a league-high bounty of fantasy points to WRs in PPR leagues – he should be able to capitalize on all that attention, despite his sometimes-shaky QB play.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles vs. 49ers: Carson Wentz is playing at an elite level, though Jeffery has yet to exploit his quarterback’s largesse. But the tide should turn Sunday when the 49ers’ corners face Philly’s aerial onslaught. Jeffrey and Nelson Agholor should both be high-volume players in this one, with TDs in store for each.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, Derek Carr, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson; RBs Mark Ingram, DeVonta Freeman; WRs Kelvin Benjamin, Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Adam Thielen, Michael Crabtree, Chris Hogan, Doug Baldwin.

Roll ‘em back

Matt Stafford, QB, Lions vs. Steelers: Stafford is coming off a bye, which he surely needed after taking an enormous amount of punishment over his first six games. But he’ll most likely be facing one of the NFL’s stingiest secondaries without his favorite target, Golden Tate, and his up-and-coming rookie, Kenny Golladay. Marvin Jones and the incredible shrinking Eric Ebron won’t cut it in this matchup.

Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers at Eagles: Philly’s run defense has allowed just 67 yards per game on the ground this season, and they’ve been even more stifling of late. That’s partly because they’re good, but also because opponents abandon their running games early to try to keep pace. Hyde is still the 49ers’ featured back, but he won’t be featured much in this cross-country contest.

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings at Browns: Just when we thought McKinnon had this backfield to himself, Latavius Murray comes along and out-performs him in Week 7. While these two will continue to share touches, neither is a good bet against the Browns’ much-improved run defense.

Will Fuller, WR, Texans at Seahawks: How do you bench a wideout who has registered five touchdowns over his last three games? First, you note that those five scoring plays came among just eight total receptions, which is fairly remarkable. Then you focus on the opponent, and remember they are called the Legion of Boom for a reason.

Terrelle Pryor, WR, Redskins vs. Cowboys: Not only should you not start Pryor this week, you might as well drop him, as he has been supplanted in the WR pecking order by Josh Doctson. That said, none of the Redskins wideouts has done much to write about this season, as Cousins trains his sites mostly on his tight ends and Chris Thompson.

More thumbs down: QBs Ben Roethlisberger, Josh McCown, Jacoby Brissett; RBs Doug Martin, Thomas Rawls, Tevin Coleman, Jamaal Charles, Rob Kelley, Matt Forte, Wendell Smallwood, Marlon Mack, Isaiah Crowell; WRs DeSean Jackson, Martavis Bryant, Jermaine Kearse, Donte Moncrief, Danny Amendola, Willie Snead, Dontrelle Inman.


Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots vs. Chargers: Fantasy veterans know that it’s always risky to hitch your fantasy fate to a New England RB. That’s why, despite emerging over the last three games as the Patriots’ lead back, you never know when the game plan will dictate that Lewis spend the game watching from the sidelines. Still, given the juicy matchup with the poor Chargers run defense, and so many RBs on bye, Lewis is worth a flier.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…who overlooks another early kickoff in London on Sunday. The Vikings face the Browns, and Stefon Diggs will likely be a game-time decision. Other late-breaking news could also affect your lineup choices, so don’t oversleep!

Ladd Biro is a two-time winner and five-time finalist of the Football Writer of the Year Award by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (, on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).

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