With six teams (yes, six!) on bye this week that makes figuring out which wide receivers and tight ends to start or sit for your fantasy team(s) even more difficult than usual. This is especially the case considering we are getting into crunch time to make the fantasy football playoffs.
So with Week 8 here and all these teams on a bye, who should you start? Amari Cooper right? Maybe not. What about Adam Thielen and Dez Bryant? Not so fast on either of them too.
So why shouldn’t you start those guys and who should you start instead? Keep reading to find out.
Good Calls for Week 7...
Start Jarvis Landry (15.3 fantasy points) – Even with Jay Cutler out for a few weeks, expect Landry to continue to get peppered with targets.
Sit. T.Y Hilton (2.7 FP) – Hilton owners are going to have to get use to games where he scores fewer than five fantasy points
Bad Calls for Week 7...
Start Jordy Nelson (1.3 FP) – In the past when Aaron Rodgers was injured, Nelson still produced, but it’s hard to produce when your QB only throws for 87 yards.
I said it might be worth the risk to start Eric Decker (0 FP) the week after he finally showed some life against the Colts. What was I thinking?
Teams on bye: Arizona, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Tennessee
START THESE WRs...
Jarvis Landry, MIA (at BAL, Thurs.)
Matt Moore didn’t look great against the Jets, which explains why the coaching staff signed Jay Cutler in the first place, but if he goes, keep in mind that he threw five of his 13 completions to Jarvis Landry, who will be his safety valve. There’s a good chance Baltimore grinds the poor Dolphins into Florida orange juice, but don’t get cute and bench Landry. Especially if you’re in a PPR league.
Michael Crabtree, OAK (at BUF)
Against a solid Buffalo defense, Derek Carr will need his receivers to come down with some contested balls and not waste any open passes. That will direct him to Crabtree. Crabtree had a quiet game until his game-winning catch last week. This week, he is the primary receiver for Oakland and goes home with another touchdown and 90 yards.
Alshon Jeffery, PHI (vs. SF)
Jeffery was thought to be a low-end WR2 as he entered the season. The surrounding parts were present for him to become the focal point of a pass-heavy offense. Unfortunately, he has been a boom/bust WR3/flex option through seven weeks. This week he matches up against a 49ers team which ranks 25th in the league in passing defense and has allowed four receivers to eclipse the 100-yard mark, including Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods in Week 3.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (at SEA)
Hopkins is a worry against a Seattle defense allowing the fourth-fewest FPPG to WRs, but if there's a sliver of hope for Hopkins (besides his talent level and tremendous amount of targets), it's that two of the three touchdown passes caught by wide receivers against the Seahawks were by WR1s (Jordy Nelson, Rishard Matthews).
SIT THESE WRs...
T.Y. Hilton, IND (at CIN)
Hilton remains one of the biggest boom-or-bust players in fantasy, and this admittedly isn't a good matchup, as Cincinnati allows the ninth-fewest fantasy points per game to WRs. As with DeAndre Hopkins, Hilton's saving grace is the amount of targets (seven per game) and that Cincinnati has allowed the most points to WR1s (Jeremy Maclin, Jordy Nelson, Antonio Brown). That's not a huge surprise given that they're the most talented players, but it still gives us some hope for Hilton, who's tough to bench during such a thinned-out week. But you may have to consider it.
Adam Thielen, MIN (vs. CLE, London)
Here’s a secret for you. The Cleveland Browns are a top-10 fantasy DST against wide receivers. Their overall defense is not bad in real life. Just ask Marcus Mariota and the Titans, who were held without a touchdown last week. If Stefon Diggs plays in Week 8, you can sit him instead. But Thielen sits either way. If you are a Vikings fan, relax. Quarterbacks just throw to their tight ends and backs against Cleveland. Kyle Rudolph and Jerick McKinnon will have big days this week. But not the wide receivers. Sit ‘em.
Dez Bryant, DAL (at WAS)
Washington gives up the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to wide receivers. For the most part, the Redskins have achieved that level without Josh Norman in the lineup. Norman may or may not be back in time to face the Cowboys. Ezekiel Elliott will play, which could limit opportunities through the passing game too.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Amari Cooper, OAK (at BUF)
I’m not ready to declare Cooper as "back," but his huge Week 7 performance is certainly a good sign. Derek Carr hasn't been as good on the road, and Bills have been relatively decent against WRs (13th-fewest FPPG). They do give up a good amount of passing yards though (259 per game), but don’t be surprised if it’s Michael Crabtree that once again has the big game.
START THESE TEs...
Kyle Rudolph, MIN (vs. CLE, London)
Cleveland is one of the two teams that have allowed a tight end to score a touchdown every game this season. The Browns’ defense covers wide receivers well, but tight ends can break free. Pencil Rudolph in for a big day regardless of who is quarterbacking the Vikings Sunday. He might even score twice for good measure.
Hunter Henry, LAC (at NE)
It took until Week 7 for the Patriots to hold TEs to less than six fantasy points in standard leagues. The Chargers’ offense, which relies on their TEs in the red zone, will put the Patriots’ defense back on track on giving up major points to TEs. They’ve already given up the eighth most to the position on the year.
Jason Witten, DAL (at WAS)
Witten hasn't been getting the touches many fantasy owners would like, but he is coming off his best performance of the season where he hauled in 54 yards on four catches and a touchdown against San Francisco. Witten has 31 receptions on the season through seven games, but 12 of those catches have come in the last two weeks.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, NYJ (vs. ATL)
That’s three straight games with a TD for Seferian-Jenkins. It'll be tough to produce a fourth against a Falcons defense that has given up the eighth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends so far, but his high volume of targets (24 in past three games) should offset a possible weak performance if he doesn't find the end zone.
SIT THESE TEs...
Austin Hooper, ATL (at NYJ)
The Hooper drum is being banged far too much for a guy who has trouble topping 50 yards on nine targets. After seeing him get a single target while the Falcons play from far behind against the Patriots, it’s time to move on.
Jack Doyle, IND (vs. CIN)
Considering how much the Bengals use their own tight end, their defense is downright inhospitable to opponents’ tight ends. They yield an average of 5.0 fantasy points per game to the position group. That doesn’t bode well for Doyle. Throw in a young quarterback operating behind a damaged offensive line and it could be a long day for the Colts’ offense in general.
George Kittle, SF (at PHI)
Philadelphia plays tight ends very well, yielding only 6.5 fantasy points per game to the position. It does not seem like a good bet that Kittle will bounce back from the tough game against Dallas last week even if his quarterback is an old college teammate.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Zach Ertz, PHI (vs. SF)
Yes, Ertz is a top-three fantasy tight end who has already scored 116.4 PPR fantasy points and hasn’t scored less than 13 PPR points all season, but the 49ers are among the best at defending tight ends. So far, they’ve allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends on the year and just gave up their first touchdown pass last week. Don’t be surprised to see Ertz struggle this week.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.