What Are the Comfort Levels for Fantasy Studs Heading into Week 8?
Week 8 of the fantasy football season hosts a number of juicy fantasy matchups we're just waiting to exploit.
It also hosts the worst Thursday Night Football game we'll ever see when the Matt Moore-led Miami Dolphins take on the Joe Flacco-led Baltimore Ravens in Charm City.
Then after that, we get another wonderful London game bright and early Sunday morning between the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns.
Again, more fun.
I'll be counting the amount of times the Browns switch quarterbacks in that one.
You know the drill here by now. We're either comfortable or not with some of our favorite fantasy studs and we'll tell you why we are or aren't.
Go nuts in Week 8 and stop losing so much.
Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
Besides the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7, every Patriots opponent has taken it to the New England defense one way or another.
Next up are the Los Angeles Chargers in Foxborough.
Say what you want about the Bolts, but they're making a run for it after some terrible luck earlier in the year.
Yeah, we're looking at you, Younghoe Koo.
Anyway, the Patriots defense managed to hold the Falcons to just seven points in their Sunday Night Football matchup, but that also had to do a lot with the play-calling from the Falcons.
The Chargers possess an offense that isn't to be taken lightly. At each skill position, they have a player who can create issues for a defense.
In this case, it's Rivers' No. 1 option: wide receiver Keenan Allen.
No matter who guards Allen, he's going to make quick work of them and have his way with them.
After a tough outing against the Denver Broncos defense in Week 7, Allen bounces back in a huge way here.
I'm feeling 20-plus fantasy points in points-per-reception leagues.
Comfort Level: Predicting 20 or more fantasy points says it all.
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Heading into Week 7, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate caught a touchdown pass in four straight games, ascending him to elite tight end status.
Week 7 brought another another double-digit fantasy performance for Brate in PPR leagues, but the touchdown streak ended.
Instead, rookie tight end O.J. Howard exploded on to the scene, catching two touchdowns and having a career day.
Maybe it was just a case of matchups and fluke plays, but hopefully this doesn't spell a few fewer looks for Brate.
Howard played well, but historically, rookie tight ends struggle to produce.
In Week 8, the Buccaneers will take on the Panthers, who do not know the status of linebacker Luke Kuechly.
Brate has been productive, but it will sure be interesting to see how they use Howard after his big game.
Comfort Level: Like the guy you were told not to worry about, but you're still figuring it out.
Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears
When Mitchell Trubisky took over at quarterback for the Chicago Bears, it was safe to assume that running back Jordan Howard would get a fair amount of work to take the stress off the young signal-caller's shoulders.
Well, that has been the case.
Since Trubisky took over in Week 5 against the Minnesota Vikings, Howard has averaged 25.3 carries per game.
Although Howard is averaging just over four yards per carry during that stretch, a huge chunk of it came in Week 6 when Howard went over 160 yards. In the other two games, he had 76 and 65, respectively.
The point is, although he's getting the work, he's not able to make the most out of because, well, Trubisky isn't effective. Like at all, as in 4-of-7 against Carolina on Sunday.
Going up against a New Orleans Saints team in Week 8 that has played well defensively over the past few weeks, the Saints may blow this game wide-open enough to where the Bears and Trubisky will need to throw and abandon the run some.
I'm not all that confident in Howard this week. Even if he gets his fair share of work, this could be a repeat of Week 7: high volume, low results.
Try to stay away from him in Week 8.
Comfort Level: Driving 20 miles to the nearest gas station with your gas light on.
Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
I'm never going to be one to doubt Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt, but come on, he does have a tricky matchup this week.
Of course, a player like Hunt is matchup-proof, but still.
The Denver Broncos are no joke defensively.
This isn't to say Hunt won't make up for it in the passing game, but on the ground, minus the Chiefs being ahead by a margin where they just pound like rock continuously, Hunt could be held to a lower than usual total in the rushing column.
Hunt will likely make up for it in receiving yards, but all I'm saying is just to not freak out if Hunt's fantasy totals limp throughout the afternoon in Week 8.
Start him, of course, but show respect for who he is going up against.
Comfort Level: Sitting at a red light that won't change and yelling "COME ON!"
Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins
On a short week, the Miami Dolphins will be on the road against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday Night Football.
It's all but concluded, but expect Matt Moore to be behind center for the Dolphins after Jay Cutler injured his ribs in the teams Week 7 win over the New York Jets.
Going up against the Ravens, Landry will have to deal with a secondary that is the polar opposite of their own teams offense.
For comparison sake, the Ravens offense is awful, therefore the secondary? Pretty darn good.
As Dan Sainio of Dynasty League Football points out, Landry, in a small sample size, has had success with Moore at quarterback, especially in the touchdown department.
With that said, Moore will have his work cut out for him against the Ravens.
This won't turn into a garbage-time game for Landry either, as the Ravens will struggle to score points.
To be frank, this has the makings of a four-reception, 40-yard game for Landry or something similar.
Not that confident here.
Comfort Level: Like being tackled by Ray Lewis.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills
Finally, Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy found the end zone in Week 7.
It's about time.
Week 8? Another great opportunity to hang out there again!
Who is his opponent? The Oakland Raiders.
According to Football Outsiders, the Raiders rank 21st in run defense and 29th against pass-catching running backs.
Outside of all the fancy statistics, this is a concept of common sense.
We all know the Raiders offense, though it's been up and down, has the potential to break out big—just look at Week 7. They did it in a 31-30 win over Kansas City.
Because of that, the Bills will want to play ball control. They know their passing attack isn't great and they know their defense will help bail them out.
However, if they want to win, the best way to do that is by McCoy being the staple of the offense.
Expect McCoy to see a ton of work. This is an excellent spot for McCoy.
And oh yeah, Bills coaching staff—enough with this Mike Tolbert stuff. It's not working!
Comfort Level: Don't want to overreact here, but maybe a few levels below Hugh Hefner's lifestyle.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Although he's been up and down in real football this year, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has quite a few solid fantasy performances under his belt.
No, they're not pretty, but hey, it works.
Week 7 was one of the bad ones for Newton, but he looks to take on arguably the worst pass defense in the league after the New England Patriots in Week 8—the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But no, this isn't going to be a slide simply saying, "Good matchup here, play him."
Sure, that could be the case, but Newton's wackiness causes some doubt for me, especially against a divisional opponent—they know him by now.
This game could very well be a shootout, but this could also be a game with multiple Newton turnovers that he makes up for in garbage time.
Point is: If you own Newton, start him against the Bucs, but take the good with the bad here—something you've done all season long.
He'll either have it, or he won't. Plain and simple.
Comfort Level: Having to really go to the bathroom on a plane, but you're in the middle seat and the guy in the aisle is asleep and you don't want to be rude.
Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
Considering my attraction to his main pass-catcher Keenan Allen in Week 8, it's safe to know how I feel about the guy throwing him the ball, Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
Again, quarterbacks have had their way with the New England Patriots defense, and Rivers is arguably the best of them all with a stable of weapons ready to take it to them.
Not to mention, Rivers is on a mission after a miserable start to the season.
If Josh McCown can put up over 350 yards on this defense, Rivers should have no problem taking it to the Patriots.
Even if the Chargers lose, Rivers will do his part statistically in trying to halt that. Multiple touchdowns and a lot of yards coming Rivers' way.
Comfort Level: The QB1 this week for me.