Week 8 Thursday Night Football Start/Sit
We kickoff Week 8 with a matchup between two teams going different directions. The Vikings are coming off a 42-30 win in Detroit and are a game back of Green Bay in the NFC North. Washington played surprisingly well on Sunday against the 49ers in a 9-0 loss but they are one of the bottom-5 teams in the NFL. The Vikings are favored by 16 points with a game total of 42 points.
I am going to use Zach’s master key for how we distinguish between players in their matchups:
Start: These are players who have an enticing matchup, and could prove a massive asset to your fantasy team due to a vulnerability by an opposing defense or a breakout performance.
Sit: Players in this category have a poor matchup and could be rendered completely useless by game script or a digression in opportunities.
Flex Start: Players in a flex position are also usually controlled by a game script, but this opportunity benefits them (such as a WR2 receiving less attention than the WR1, thus increasing odds for a good performance).
Sleeper: For players that fly under the radar, the sleepers are potential breakouts for this particular matchup. Players that are not considered as big of a threat but have an increase in things such as targets or snap counts are ideal for this category. They could surprise you for the week with a big game.
Minnesota Vikings – Team Total: 29
The Redskins come into the game ranked 18th in DVOA against the run and 27th in YPC allowed, so Cook should feast. Assuming a normal workload, he is a virtual lock for 100 total yards with 3-4 receptions and a likely touchdown. The concern here is that the Vikings blow Washington’s doors off and Mike Zimmer chooses to rest Cook earlier.
Cousins and Diggs represent viable options at their respective positions. While the Redskins are slightly better against the pass (24th in DVOA), they’re still giving up 236 yards per game and a whopping 14 touchdown passes. These numbers are probably worse than they would indicate because the Redskins played the Dolphins and then in a monsoon against the 49ers. They’ve given up monster days to Carson Wentz (313 yards/3 Touchdowns) Dak Prescott (261/3), and Tom Brady (348/3). Cousins is a low volume/high upside play who should, at minimum, match Prescott’s day.
Diggs should be heavily relied upon with Adam Thielen out. The Vikings funnel volume mostly to the two wideouts, so Thielen’s injury should open up 3-4 more targets for Diggs. Cousins hasn’t been shy about forcing the ball to the former Maryland wideout and if he does get 10+ targets we could see a week-winning score.
Lastly, I could write an entire article about how effective it has been to stream defenses against Washington. If you have the Vikings D, no chance you are benching them this week.
Start: Kyle Rudolph (12+ Team Leagues)
This is purely a speculative pick. Thielen’s injury could open up a couple targets for Rudolph. We might be hoping he manages to fall into the end zone but the tight end position is a wasteland so we can bet on opportunity here.
Flex Start: Alexander Mattison (14 +Team Leagues)
This one requires a leap of faith. If you believe Cook could be out of the game earlier than normal, enter Mattison as a solid flex play. He has flashed in limited time this year. Mattison played 29% of the snaps last week which should make us feel slightly better about using him. I will avoid him in most leagues but you could do worse as he does get goaline carries from time-to-time.
Sleeper: Bisi Johnson (14+ Team Leagues)
A 7th Round pick out of Colorado State, Johnson scored a touchdown near the goal line last week, however, this is an admittedly thin play. He managed 8 targets last week. The volume is here and in deeper leagues he could have some appeal. I prefer someone like Zach Pascal over Johnson but depending on your roster you can throw the dart and pray.
Washington Redskins – Team Total: 13
Start: Terry McLaurin (All Formats)
McLaurin narrowly misses must start territory because of the ineptitude at quarterback but he should see plenty of targets. I have a hard time benching F1 because if the volume is there, he could go off for a big score. Still, a Thursday night road game at Minnesota gives me some pause here. I don’t think McLaurin is a slam dunk. He is literally about all the Redskins have in the way of skill players.
16 point dogs on the road don’t tend to favor running backs with no pass g game involvement. Tack on the fact that Peterson is banged up and I wouldn’t have him near my lineup.
I am not interested in any of the Redskins passing game pieces outside of McLaurin. While they could pop and post a big score, the likelihood of that is very low and unless it is a deep, deep league I wouldn’t even have them on my roster.
Sleeper: Wendell Smallwood (16+ Team Leagues)
Smallwood provides some PPR appeal, especially if Peterson is limited. I’ve been high on Smallwood since he was at WVU but he has bounced around a little bit after getting some run in Philadelphia. If he manages an above average snap share, he could be useful in deep leagues.
Prediction: Minnesota 27 – Washington 10
I think Minnesota covers here with Cook having a solid, if unspectacular game, and Cousins throwing for 250 and two touchdowns. Don’t get cute with this game: Start your studs and dance around the rest.