If there was any week in the NFL season to listen to my recommendations, it would have been last week.
Unless you sat Jeremy Hill. I'm so sorry. Kirk Cousins took full advantage of the Lions defense, throwing for 300 yards and a touchdown. Jamison Crowder took advantage, posting his first 100 yard game of the season while leading Washington in targets, receptions and receiving yards. LeGarrette Blount exceeded my expectations, pounding the Steelers for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Jacquizz Rodgers took advantage of heavy usage for 154 rushing yards and should once again feast in Week 8. Allen Hurns disappointed, losing work on shorter routes to Marquis Lee, only totaling just 45 yards. It wasn't perfect, but it was a good week for my "Starts".
My "Sit" recommendations were a little less inspiring. Jeremy Hill made the Browns defense look foolish, rushing for 168 yards and a TD. I'll attempt to save face by mentioning that he was out-carried by Gio Bernard 17-9. He also lost a carry in the redzone, losing a five yard-TD to Bernard in the first quarter. Ryan Mathews totaled the most rushing yards of any RB against the Vikings this season. He would have had a decent day if not for a fumble. Carson Palmer was held under 15 Fantasy points for the fourth straight game, despite throwing for 342 yards. Kyle Rudolph has a decent day, racking up 55 yards on 11 targets. A fine performance considering how bad TE was this week. DeAndre Hopkins struggled against the best pass-defense in the league, gaining just 36 yards on 12 targets.
On to Week 8.
Not so breaking news; Everyone is mad at Rex Ryan. Playing LeSean McCoy at less than 100% was probably the worst decision that could be made. Would you believe he did it? The absolute mad man. Shady is now likely to miss Week 8, and could be looking at a multi-week absence.
Week 8 Start 'em Sit 'em
Mike Gillislee, RB, Buffalo Bills
If McCoy is held out of the game, the door opens for Gillislee to take the early-down work against New England. In their Week 4 matchup, Gillislee played well, gaining 30 yards on six carries, and adding a 13 yard catch. Gillislee has been good in relief of McCoy, averaging 6.2 YPC in limited carries. Those numbers will go down with a full workload, but he will still have good upside as the lead back.
The Patriot rush defense has been good, surrendering the ninth fewest points to RB thus far. However, they do give up catches to running backs, so Gillislee could see increased action through the air. Reggie Bush will likely see more receptions, but shouldn't take away enough playing time to downgrade Gillislee too much. Gameflow issues could create an issue, as the Bills won't be facing Jacoby Brissett this time around. If the Bills fall behind too quickly, Gillislee could lose a lot of work.
With heavy touches, Gillislee is a decent RB2/FLEX with touchdown upside. If he's not owned in your league, head to the wire immediately. There hasn't been a lot of news regarding McCoy's injury, but common sense dictates he will rest at least one week. If he doesn't he'll run the risk of aggravating the injury once again. Knowing Rex Ryan and his obsession with beating the Pats, I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see Shady suit up Sunday. If he does, you can't play Gillislee with much confidence. If Shady sits, Gillislee will see a heavy workload as long as the game remains close.
Brandon LaFell, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Talk about a risky pick. I hope I'm not dropping the ball. Terrible jokes aside, LaFell has been great since he established himself as the Bengals WR2. Over the last three weeks, LaFell has caught 14-of-21 targets for 159 yards and four touchdowns. With A.J. Green drawing tons of coverage, LaFell has taken advantage in the redzone. To sweeten the deal, LaFell has yet to drop a pass across 42 targets!
With Tyler Eifert back in the mix, LaFell might see fewer targets. The upside to this is that he could see even less attention in the redzone. When Eifert is fully healthy, he absolutely requires extra attention close to the painted grass. Throw in Green and LaFell could see a lot of single coverage in the upcoming games. The Redskins pass defense has been decent this season. They rank 17th in yards per game (243.6) and eighth in passing TD allowed. However, they may be down their best player on Sunday, as Josh Norman suffered a concussion. If he is unable to play, LaFell will have opportunity to excel against backup corners.
Washington also struggles to contain opposing WR2. Eli Rogers, Cole Beasley, Sterling Shepard, and Golden Tate all performed well as the secondary receiving option. With six teams on bye this week, LaFell makes a decent WR3 play who could find the endzone for a fourth straight game.
Matt Asiata, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Now I know I'm crazy. I've never been a big fan of Asiata, but he's shown in the past that he can produce solid numbers as the lead back. With Jerick McKinnon suffering an ankle injury in Week 7, Asiata has the chance to inherit heavy volume. In addition to the goal line carries he normally receives, Asiata will get touches between the 20's and attention in the passing game.
Asiata is not your typical goal line RB. In addition to his prowess at the goal line, Asiata is a capable receiving back. When Adrian Peterson missed most of the 2014 season, Asiata averaged nearly three catches and 21 yards per game. His versatility keeps his floor manageable, which is important since he's never averaged 4.0 YPC over a full season.
His ownership numbers in Yahoo! leagues will soar once definitive news on McKinnon's injury is released. If he's still available in your league, I suggest making the add before someone else can. As the Vikings will be going against the Bears, Asiata will have a relatively easy matchup if he draws the start. If McKinnon can't play, Asiata will be a low-end RB2 with a good shot at a touchdown.
Ty Montgomery, WR/RB, Green Bay Wisconsin
Monty has been the beneficiary of a depleted Packers' backfield. With Eddie Lacy and James Starks out for an extended period of time, Montgomery has been given heavy volume over the last two weeks. In those two games, Montgomery has 32 total touches. He's being used out of the backfield, being given nine carries and 13 targets in Week 7. With Knile Davis becoming more accustomed to the playbook, Monty could lose some carries. However, he'll see plenty of targets for a Packers offense looking to re-invigorate itself.
In Week 8, the Packers will go against the Falcons defense. Atlanta has been solid against wide receivers, but have struggled against running backs this season. Through seven weeks, they've given up the sixth most Fantasy points to running backs. In addition, the Packers-Falcons game has the highest over/under of the week.
Montgomery's versatility will give him plenty of opportunities in a potential shootout. His positional versatility will also help owners who need a bye-week fill-in. He should be heavily targeted once again, providing owners in PPR leagues with great value.
Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts
With Dwayne Allen out with a high ankle sprain, Jack Doyle has taken full advantage. In Week 7, Doyle caught 9-of-10 targets for 78 yards and a touchdown. There's no guarantee that Allen will be back from his injury this week. If he's unable to play, Doyle should be once again be in for a solid workload. If Phillip Dorsett misses another game Doyle could see double digit targets once again.
Doyle has above average athleticism and hands for a tight end and will be able to take advantage of the targets. The Kansas City defense has been tough against tight ends, allowing the sixth fewest Fantasy points through seven games. However, the Colts will be the most complete offense the Chiefs will have contended with to date.
With the TE landscape looking volatile, owners can't ask for more than what they're likely to get from Doyle. If he remains a main part of the offense, he'll see around 6-8 targets with a few red zone looks mixed in. He'll make a fine TE1 in Week 8.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers
Benjamin is an interesting player this week. He's been peppered with targets all season long, seven seven or more in all but one game. Those targets have turned into consistent production, catching a touchdown or gaining 70 yards against every opponent but the Vikings. Benjamin proved in Week 1 that he has the size and ability to overcome a tough matchup, hanging 91 yards and a TD on the Broncos.
In Week 8 he'll be up against the Cardinals and their third ranked pass defense. Arizona has surrendered under 200 passing yards per game and just five touchdowns. For Fantasy purposes, they've given up the sixth fewest points to WR this season. Brandon Marshall, Doug Baldwin and Mike Evans were each held to 70 for fewer yards. However, Evans was able to score a touchdown.
Benjamin has faced poor defenses the last three weeks, but has failed to put up more than 10 standard points in any of those games. He'll likely be lining up opposite Patrick Peterson on the majority of his snaps, meaning he'll have a tough time finding space. With Benjamin's physical gifts, he'll always have a shot at a touchdown, but his yards may be held in check. He's a low-end WR2 at best this week.
Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints
It hasn't been a great season for Ingram, who's averaging a career low 3.9 YPC. He's also managed to find the endzone just once on the ground. His floor has been maintained due to his use in the Saints passing game. Heavy volume will keep him in starting lineups, but expect him to struggle against Seattle's run defense.
Seattle has continued their dominance against the rush in 2016. Last week they held David Johnson to just 3.4 yards per-carry and 4.5 yards per-target. On the season, the Seahawks have surrendered just 3.3 YPC and under 85 yards on the ground per-game. Ingram will likely struggle on the ground and will need a touchdown to save his day. Finding the endzone will be a tall order, as Seattle has given up just three touchdowns on the season.
His usage in the Saints offense will continue to give him opportunities, but he'll struggle to move the chains in Week 8. He'll be a high risk RB2 this week.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears
Seems like I'm going big this week with my "Sits" doesn't it? Jeffrey seems to be a no-brainer sit this week, as he'll face the Viking defense. Minnesota has given up the second fewest Fantasy points to wide receivers this season and under 200 passing yards per game this season. They've been able to hold star receivers like Kelvin Benjamin, Odell Beckham and DeAndre Hopkins to under 60 yards.
Alshon will receive a boost with Jay Cutler being cleared to play. However, in his first week back against a tough defense, the whole Bears offense will struggle. It's been a tough year for Jeffrey, but he chances of him breaking out this week are slim. I'm much less confident in Alshon than Benjamin and Ingram. The other two are still viable starts, but this week I'm leaning towards placing Jeffery firmly on the bench.
I understand if owners are hesitant to place of their star receivers on the bench. If you can't stomach leaving him on the bench, understand that he's at risk of putting up his second dud in as many weeks.
Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears
Double dipping with the Bears here, but with good reason. Not only will Howard be taking on the third ranked Vikings run defense, it's looking like he's losing a grip on his starting job. Over his last three games, Howard's snap counts have been 63, 55 and 22. On the flip side, Ka'Deem Carey has seen his snap counts rise from two to 26 in Week 7. The 26 snaps against the Packers were 54.1% of the snaps while Howard's 22 were only 45%.
No matter how well Howard played before this week, owners should not risk starting him against a tough defense with an uncertain workload. The Vikings defense has only given up one touchdown to running backs all year. In addition, Minnesota has only given up more than 50 yards rushing once this season.
The outlook past Week 8 isn't looking so great either. Jeremy Langford will likely return after the Week 9 bye and the backfield will become even more muddied. At best, Howard is a desperation FLEX option for those struggling with byes.
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
This is a common sense decision, but I believe it needs to be said again. Rivers will be going up against the best secondary in the league. Through seven games, they've allowed a league leading 175 yards per game and an NFL best four touchdown passes. Outside of Cam Newton in Week 1, the Broncos have held all opposing quarterbacks to under 15 Fantasy points. Denver has also not given up multiple touchdowns to a quarterback all season.
Rivers has historically struggled against Denver. In his last 11 games against the Broncos, Rivers has failed to reach 300 yards passing. He's done an excellent job maintaining his value without Keenan Allen. However, it will be very difficult for Rivers to overcome his lack of established weapons. With reports coming out that DeMarcus Ware might be returning from an arm injury, Rivers will be under pressure all night long.
Rivers has surpassed 300 yards passing in four of his last five games. The odd game out was against Denver, in which he failed to surpass 200 yards. He's a very risky option this week and should not be used outside of 2QB leagues.