By Stephen Johnson–
(CBS) “Sit ‘Em, Start ‘Em” is a breakdown of some of the best and worst fantasy football matchups to help you navigate setting your lineups for the week.
Week 8 brings the first of two mega-bye weeks, with six teams enjoying some time off. Running back gets the brunt of the bye with Leonard Fournette, Todd Gurley, DeMarco Murray, Adrian Peterson, Derrick Henry, Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery leaving voids across lineups everywhere. Nevertheless, Week 8 contains a high number of favorable matchups to find plug-and-play options to help you through this rough patch.
Bye weeks: Arizona, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants and Tennessee.
START – Andy Dalton, Bengals (vs. Colts) Dalton gets the gift that keeps on giving in a matchup against the Colts’ secondary. While Indianapolis may be ranked 23rd against signal-callers in fantasy football, you could put them in the conversation of being the worst. The Colts have surrendered more than 295 passing yards to the likes of Jared Goff, Carson Palmer, Russell Wilson, Brian Hoyer, Marcus Mariota and Blake Bortles (who was on track for 564 yards at halftime last Sunday). Rookie safety Malik Hooker is out after being placed on injured reserve with a torn MCL and ACL. Everything is pointing up for Dalton.
SIT – Matthew Stafford, Lions (vs. Steelers) The struggle will be real for Stafford, who’s expected to be without receiver Golden Tate, who suffered an AC sprain two weeks ago. Regardless of whom the Lions have active Sunday night, success will be hard to come by through the air against a Steelers team allowing an average of 172 yards and 10 fantasy points per game to the position. Not only will the secondary cause Stafford problems, but so will the Steelers’ pass rush. Detroit’s offensive line has been hit hard by the injury bug, and it may leave Stafford under pressure much of the game.
START – LeGarrette Blount, Eagles (vs. 49ers) Despite being in a strange running back-by-committee with Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement, Blount continues to lead the team in touches. While his production has been hit or miss this year, his yards-per-carry average sits at 5.0 for the season. San Francisco allows 114 yards per game on the ground, the third-most in the league. If the Eagles get out ahead of the 49ers as expected, you can expect a big dosage of Blount, who should have little trouble carving up a lowly San Francisco run defense.
SIT – Doug Martin, Buccaneers (vs. Panthers) All signs point to Luke Kuechly returning to the field this weekend after sitting out last Sunday due to a concussion. This spells bad news for Martin, who now must go up against a weapon that significantly improves Carolina’s rush defense. Without Kuechly, the Panthers allow 5.0 yards per carry on the ground. With him, that number drops to 3.7. Carolina has allowed the fourth-fewest points to running backs, so expect a tough climb for Martin to find any success.
START – Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers (at Buccaneers) The Tampa Bay defense has been cringeworthy against opposing receivers. Allowing the most yards and the most receptions to the position, the Bucs now face a formidable Panthers receiving core led by Benjamin, who has eclipsed the 90-yard mark in three of his four career games against Tampa, scoring in two of them. A real telling stat? The Buccaneers give up nearly 17 more points per game in PPR above their opponents’ season average. In other words, big days are always in store.
SIT – Tyreek Hill, Chiefs (vs. Broncos) The electric Hill has been a thorn in Denver’s side since busting onto the scene last year, scoring four touchdowns against them in 2016. That trend should come to a screeching halt as the Broncos defense has been lights out in categories that Hill excels in. End-around plays to wide receivers? The Broncos allow fewer than one yard. Pass plays with targets fewer than three yards down field? The Broncos are fourth-best in the NFL over their last three games. Hill has had notable home-and-away splits this season. At Arrowhead, he averages just 36.3 yards from scrimmage and hasn’t scored a touchdown. On the road, he averages 107 yards per game and has three total touchdowns. Monday night’s showdown is in Kansas City.
START – Kyle Rudolph, Vikings (at Browns) Cleveland has plenty of issues on both sides of the ball as we near the halfway point of the season, but among the most glaring is its inability to cover tight ends. Since Dalvin Cook’s season-ending injury, Rudolph has seen an uptick in targets, tallying 25 in the Vikings’ last three games. Meanwhile, the Browns allow the most receptions and yardage per game to tight ends. This matchup in London seems to be creating a perfect storm for Minnesota’s big target to make the most of his increased usage.
SIT – Jack Doyle, Colts (at Bengals) Putting up consecutive double-digit PPR weeks has been a welcome sight for Doyle owners who have stuck with him through his difficult start to 2017. Unfortunately, it looks as though the good times may be coming to an end this week against a Bengals defense allowing the fourth-fewest points to tight ends in the league. To go along with the low points allowance, Cincinnati gives up fewer than four catches and 38 yards to the position. The Bengals are equally as hard on quarterbacks, surrendering the third-fewest passing yards per game, which will cause nightmares for any aerial assault the Colts put together.
Stephen Johnson is 670 The Score’s 2017 Fantasy Football Expert winner. He’s a weekly guest on “Chicago’s Fantasy Football Today,” every Sunday morning during football season from 8.a.m.-9 a.m. CT on WSCR-670 and 670thescore.com/listen. Follow him on Twitter @Stephen_Roto.