Can you really trust Cooper in his first game as a Cowboy? And which under-the-radar tight end might be worth starting this week?
Did you go to look at your fantasy football roster this week and see all the players that are bye? It's not a good feeling realizing that you can't play wide receiver studs like Odell Beckham Jr., A.J. Green, T.Y. Hilton, Alshon Jeffery and Larry Fitzgerald here in Week 9.
But it comes with the territory when you play fantasy football. So who should you start at wide receiver and at tight end this week if you are stuck trying to fill those spots?
Before we dive into those important decisions, let's see how the start/sit advice for Week 8 turned out.
Good Calls for Week 8...
Sit Devin Funchess (2.7 fantasy points) – It looks like Funchess might be fourth in the pecking order now behind Greg Olsen, Christian McCaffrey and rookie DJ Moore.
Start O.J. Howard (12.8 FP) – That may not seem like a lot, but with how terrible the tight end position has been, it's impressive.
Sit Jordan Reed (3.8 FP) – Reed is nowhere near the fantasy stud that he used to be as injuries have finally caught up with him.
Bad Calls for Week 8...
Start Doug Baldwin (2.6 FP) – It’s going to be hard to trust any Seahawks receivers when Russell Wilson is only throwing the ball 20 times per game.
Start Jordy Nelson (1.4 FP) – Nelson was the presumed No. 1 WR for the Raiders following the trade of Amari Cooper, but all he could muster was 14 yards. Nelson is probably nothing more than a bye-week fill-in option at this point.
Teams on bye: Arizona, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Philadelphia
START THESE WRs...
DJ Moore, CAR (vs. TB)
Moore had a breakout game last Sunday. The rookie receiver caught five balls for 90 yards and added 39 rushing yards. There's no denying Moore's talent and now he's starting to get more opportunities in Carolina's offense. He's seen at least five targets in three straight games. Moore should be able to build on his performance this week when he faces a dreadful Buccaneers defense allowing the second-most fantasy points to receivers. If you get Moore off the waiver wire this week, don't be afraid to insert him into your starting lineup immediately.
DeVante Parker, MIA (vs. NYJ)
After being a non-factor for the first seven games, the Dolphins were forced to play Parker on Thursday night because of injuries at the position. He responded in a big way by catching six balls for 134 yards on nine targets. Parker has always had talent but injuries and motivation have limited his fantasy value. Now he looks to be the Dolphins' No. 1 receiver. Expect Parker's upward trend to continue versus the Jets. New York is allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to WRs. Parker is a strong WR3 for Week 9.
Tyler Lockett, SEA (vs. LAC)
When you think of Lockett, you usually think of his speed and big-play ability. But what you may not know is that he is currently boasting a 73.5 percent catch rate and incredible 96.2 percent true catch rate (per Player Profiler), which ranks fifth in the NFL. The issue for Lockett (and Seattle pass catchers in general) is volume, as Russell Wilson attempted 17 passes last week. Vegas has the game at a 48 projected total, which is the sixth highest in the 13-game slate, and Lockett should see the most of Chargers cornerback Trevor Williams, the weak link of the secondary.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Tre’Quan Smith, NO (vs. LAR)
Smith’s 3-18-0 dud on four targets last week was a disappointment, as he was supposed to answer waiver-wire prayers. Alas, New Orleans was able to win in Minneapolis on the strength of its running game with a dash of Michael Thomas and some timely defensive help. Alvin Kamara led the Saints with eight targets followed by Thomas' six. Smith is still the No. 2 WR for Drew Brees in a home game against the best offense in the league. This game is rocking an absurd Vegas over/under line of 60 already. That bodes well for fantasy purposes.
SIT THESE WRs...
Josh Gordon, NE (vs. GB)
It feels like Gordon is already starting to wear out his welcome in New England. He remains a risky fantasy start because right now, it's big play or bust for Gordon. The young Packers cornerbacks have been playing better of late and Green Bay has been somewhat stingy to opposing WRs. Gordon has topped 50 yards just once with the Patriots.
Doug Baldwin, SEA (vs. LAC)
I don't want to keep picking on Baldwin but he's really only a starting option right now if you're extremely thin at receiver. He has 14 receptions for 159 yards... on the season. Baldwin has reached 10 fantasy points in PPR leagues just once. This week Baldwin faces a Chargers defense allowing just 12 receptions per game to WRs. Baldwin still has the ability to put up a big week but right now, he's simply too risky to trust.
Chris Godwin, TB (at CAR)
It’s difficult to project what this version of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Tampa Bay offense will look like, but it probably won’t help Godwin much. In their first three games, Godwin led the team with six red zone opportunities, but his share of the pie has dwindled with just three chances in the last three games compared to Mike Evans’ five and DeSean Jackson’s four. The running game being shambles helps, but Godwin was fourth in targets to Evans (13), Adam Humphries (10) and Jackson (8) in Week 8 and he's in line for a tough matchup in Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Amari Cooper, DAL (vs. TEN, Mon.)
A wait-and-see approach may be best for the Cowboys' new receiver. Will he have good chemistry with Dak Prescott (the bye week certainly came at the right time), or will the two not be on the same page right away? The Titans aren't an imposing matchup, but they don't give up many points (18.1 per game). Keep Cooper on the bench until we see how things develop with him in Dallas.
START THESE TEs...
Jordan Reed, WAS (vs. ATL)
The bad news is obvious to anyone who rosters Reed, as he’s been a shadow of his former self on the stat sheet and it continued last week, as he caught seven balls for 39 yards. Alex Smith continues to play small ball and we’re all seeing the game manager in him compared to what he did in 2017. There is good news, however, as Reed saw a whopping 12 targets and finally topped a 75 percent snap share last week. Washington faces the Falcons' porous defense at home on Sunday and will need more than Adrian Peterson on the ground to keep up with Matt Ryan and company, no matter how many stud safeties the Redskins trade for.
O.J. Howard, TB (at CAR)
Howard has at least 50 receiving yards in every game but the one where he left in the second quarter with an injury. And he has a great matchup this week against Carolina. The Panthers are allowing the second-most fantasy points to tight ends. Carolina allows close to seven receptions per game to the position. This should be a huge game for Greg Olsen as well because the only team that gives up more points to the position is Tampa Bay. The quarterback change won't impact Howard. He's produced with both guys under center.
Kyle Rudolph, MIN (vs. DET)
Rudolph hasn't scored a touchdown in five weeks, but he's seen between six and eight targets in all but two games. At some point, he has to be on the right end of touchdown variance. He has a shot against the Lions, who have given up 70 yards and/or a touchdown to the tight end position in five of seven games this season. Look for Rudolph to have a bounce-back game.
MIGHT WE WORTH THE RISK...
Ed Dickson, SEA (vs. LAC)
Making his first start of 2018, Dickson played on just 32 percent of the snaps (compared to Nick Vannett’s 49 percent) and caught both of his targets, which he turned into 54 yards and a touchdown. Vannett has underwhelmed so far this season, failing to top 50 yards or find the end zone as Will Dissly stole the spotlight early only. Expect Dickson to overtake Vannett in a similar manner. Either way, it's an appealing matchup since the Chargers have given up a TD to TEs in three of their last four games.
SIT THESE TEs...
Trey Burton, CHI (at BUF)
Burton has run hot and cold this year. He could run cold on Sunday when he faces a Bills defense that gives up fewer than four receptions per game to tight ends. Burton has posted 23 yards or fewer in four games this season. He's a risky play versus an underrated Buffalo defense.
Chris Herndon, NYJ (at MIA)
Herndon has caught a touchdown in three straight games, which automatically makes him a viable tight end in most fantasy leagues. Of course, his 16-yard TD reception was his only catch last week, as an anemic Jets offense was handled by the Bears. Miami’s allowed a season-high of 52 yards to opposing TEs and that came in Week 1 (Delanie Walker). This is not the week to trust Herndon, even with six teams on bye.
Jordan Thomas, HOU (at DEN)
Thomas may have caught two touchdown passes against the Dolphins last Thursday, but he was filling in for Ryan Griffin (out with an illness) and he had just four targets. Griffin has missed the past two games because of that illness, but he should be back this week, especially with a few extra days to recover following last Thursday's game. Griffin's return will likely mean fewer snaps and opportunities for Thomas.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Austin Hooper, ATL (at WAS)
Hooper made waves with back-to-back nine-catch performances in Weeks 5 and 6, with a modest 3-48-0 line against the Giants on MNF in Week 7 as a sendoff into the bye. The issue with Hooper is that we’ve seen flashes from him before in this system and this week's opponent, Washington, hasn’t yielded more than 50 yards to a tight end thus far. Jimmy Graham (5-45-0), Benjamin Watson (4-30-0) and Greg Olsen (4-48-0) were all okay, while Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle combined for a 5-46-1 line back in Week 2. Washington leans on D.J. Swearinger, the third-best safety in coverage per Pro Football Focus (90.1 rating), to cover TEs, which explains the mediocre results.
— 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.
(Top photo courtesy of www.dallascowboys.com)