Week 8 is going to be a tough one for fantasy owners when it comes to determining which wide receivers and tight ends you are going to roll with. Even with Ben Roethlisberger’s injury, you would rather have Antonio Brown in your lineup than not available at all. Same goes for Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, and perhaps even a Mike Wallace or Dennis Pitta.
But instead of lamenting over who you can’t play let’s focus on which WR and TE you should start or sit this week. First, let’s take a quick look back at Week 7’s suggestions.
Start Michael Crabtree (15.6 fantasy points) – You could argue that Crabtree is the Raiders’ No. 1 WR.
Sit DeAndre Hopkins (3.6 FP) – Despite a ton of targets, Hopkins and Brock Osweiler just couldn’t get on the same page in Denver. And it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better anytime soon either.
Start Delaine Walker (14.4 FP) – Walker finally had that big game that we all had been waiting for.
Start Allen Robinson (0.9 FP) – Blake Bortles is brutal and he’s bring Robinson down with him.
Teams on bye: Baltimore, Los Angeles, Miami, New York Giants, Pittsburgh, San Francisco
START THESE WRs...
Brandon Marshall, NYJ (at CLE)
Marshall has struggled over his last two games, scoring a combined 10.9 fantasy points with no touchdowns. Still, I'd keep the faith in him against a Browns defense that has allowed 10 different WRs to score 11-plus fantasy points. That includes games with cornerback Joe Haden, who is now slated to return this weekend.
Doug Baldwin, SEA (at NO)
After two top-10 performances in the first three weeks (ESPN standard scoring), Baldwin has finished as the WR48, WR78 and WR35 in his last three. Owners are assuredly fed up with him by now, but give him one more chance. Not only are the Saints 27th in the NFL in yards per pass allowed (8.0), but their home games tend to turn into shootouts. The point totals in three games at the Superdome this year have been 69, 77 and 79, while the point totals in the Saints' three away games have been 29, 69 and 48. You're starting every significant member of this Seahawks offense, especially the No. 1 option in the passing game.
Michael Crabtree, OAK (at TB)
Crabtree, listed as a start 'em last week, went off for a touchdown and 15.6 fantasy points in a win over the Jaguars. Next on the schedule is a date with the Buccaneers, who have given up more than 28 fantasy points to wide receivers four times in six games. I like both Crabtree and Amari Cooper to shine at Raymond James Stadium.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Ty Montgomery, GB (at ATL)
First a quick note: I'm listing Montgomery as a wide receiver because that's what he is in most formats, but in ESPN leagues he recently earned eligibility at RB, where he's an even stronger play. Even if Knile Davis gets more work at running back this week, Montgomery, who has racked up 32 touches (20 receptions, 12 carries) and 230 yards (164 receiving, 66 rushing) over the last two games, is a versatile weapon who has provided a massive boost to a Packers offense that is lacking playmakers. Green Bay is going to continue to find ways to get the ball in his hands, and against a Falcons defense that has allowed the most completions in the NFL but is 10th in yards per carry allowed (3.8), this sets up as another high-volume passing game for the Packers. That will mean good things for Montgomery.
SIT THESE WRs...
Tyrell Williams, SD (at DEN)
He’s the guy to own in San Diego, but he’s facing Denver, one of the best pass defenses in the league. Williams managed just three catches for 28 yards when these two teams met just two weeks ago. Hopefully, the byes don’t affect your ability to sit him this week. Just know that he has a great schedule coming for the fantasy playoffs (CAR, OAK, CLE).
Jeremy Maclin, KC (at IND)
He has the potential for a bounce-back game against the Colts this week, but after a 4-40-0 against New Orleans, are we even depending on Maclin anymore? Byes will make this a tough sell, but if you can flex in someone other than Maclin, like Davante Adams or Ty Montgomery, do it. He’s not playable in standard league formats and is 36th in PPR leagues.
Golden Tate, DET (at HOU)
Tate has seen 27 targets over the last three weeks, compared to just 26 in the first four games of the season. Despite this increase in opportunities, I'd still beware of the Golden Domer against a Texans defense that's surrendered just four scores and the third-fewest fantasy points (17.6 ppg) to opposing WRs in 2016.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Alshon Jeffery, CHI (vs. MIN, Mon.)
As a Jeffery owner, I'm hoping I'm wrong here, but this doesn't set up well for the struggling star receiver. The potential return of Jay Cutler, who has been cleared to play, is certainly a major boost to his value (Jeffery stands no chance if it's Matt Barkley under center), but this is a Vikings defense that has held Kelvin Benjamin to zero yards, Odell Beckham to 23, DeAndre Hopkins to 56 and Jordan Matthews to 10. I'm still a believer that a huge breakout is coming for Jeffery, but this just isn't the spot for that to happen.
START THESE TEs...
Jack Doyle, IND (vs. KC)
This is contingent on Dwayne Allen and Donte Moncrief being out, but if those two are again sidelined, it's pretty clear that Doyle is Andrew Luck's No. 2 target and a go-to option in the red zone. He tallied career highs in snap percentage (92.8), targets (10), receptions (nine) and yards (78) last week, turning five red-zone targets into a touchdown. The Chiefs have stifled opposing tight ends this year, but they also haven't played anyone who is as involved in the offense as Doyle.
Jimmy Graham, SEA (at NO)
Revenge! Graham put up just 53 yards in last week's tie with the Cardinals, but I like him to rebound in a matchup against the team that traded him, the Saints. You know he wants to stick it to New Orleans, and the matchup is favorable. The Saints have allowed an average of 11.1 fantasy points per game to tight ends since Week 4.
Kyle Rudolph, MIN (at CHI, Mon.)
Rudolph has seen his numbers decline in recent weeks, but he's still been on the field for 95 percent of the snaps. He's also the third-most targeted player at his position, so the opportunities are there for Rudolph to bounce back in the stat sheet. With a contest against the Bears up next, fantasy owners should roll with the veteran.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
C.J. Fiedorowicz, HOU (vs. DET)
This is weird, but over the last month, Fiedorwicz has been the most dependable pass catcher in Houston. Fiedorowicz has scored at least 12 points in PPR leagues before he nearly matched DeAndre Hopkins’ production (5 rec., 36 yds.) against Denver (5, 35). There aren’t many fantasy-relevant TEs that are on bye this week, but the Lions have allowed a touchdown to an opposing TE six times this season. It’s a sneaky play for the deep league team that’s lamenting the loss of Dennis Pitta this week.
SIT THESE TEs...
Zach Ertz, PHI (at DAL)
Ertz is in the midst of his annual disappearing act, scoring a combined 7.3 fantasy points in his first three games since coming back from injured ribs. Things aren't going to get better this week against the Cowboys, who have held Ertz to a meager 12.5 fantasy points in four career meetings. Keep him on the sidelines.
Zach Miller, CHI (vs. MIN)
Miller had emerged into a viable fantasy starter earlier this season, but he's scored a combined 14.9 points with no touchdowns over his last three games. The veteran is also facing a tough matchup against the Vikings, who have surrendered an average of 5.3 fantasy points per game to the tight end position. Keep Miller on ice this week.
Antonio Gates, SD (at DEN)
Gates has closed the snaps gap on Hunter Henry in each of the last three weeks, and he's now seen more targets (21) than the rookie (15) in that time. Regardless, those targets haven't turned into fantasy success, Gates has been held to just 12.4 fantasy points since Week 5. Gates also has a brutal road matchup against the Broncos ahead.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Martellus Bennett, NE (at BUF)
As Rob Gronkowski has gotten back to full health and resumed punishing defenses, Bennett's role has reduced. In the last four weeks, his snap percentage has gone from 78.6 to 68.8 to 56.3 to 52.6, while his targets have gone from six to eight to five to just two. He did hang 109 yards on this Bills defense back in Week 4, but with so many other options for Tom Brady, especially a healthy Gronk, it's hard to trust Bennett.
— 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.