Whew. The picks in this space can’t fare much worse than they did last week. So I’ll go with that theme for this week. Nowhere to go but up.
Even though I said last time around that I’d try not to ignore recent trends, I did so anyway in going for the Detroit defense against Minnesota. Sure, the Lions have been playing solidly (well … had been) on that side of the ball. But the Vikings entered the matchup off 2 terrific passing outings. Now all I can see is the Kirk Cousins “You like that!” gif autoplaying in my head.
Fortunately, the Week 8 options for streaming defenses look much more attractive than last week’s version.
I am, however, not going to admit full defeat on Broncos TE Noah Fant. Sure, his 1 catch for 7 yards against the Chiefs did just about nothing for us. But Fant saw 5 targets in that game, tying the likes of Zach Ertz, Evan Engram, Austin Hooper and George Kittle for 9th at the position in Week 7. The guys ahead of him were weekly starters plus the out-of-nowhere trio of Jacob Hollister (0 targets before Sunday), Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith.
Target volume is generally going to be our primary concern in picking a TE to stream, with matchup not far behind (and another plus for Fant heading in).
Now let’s get to rebounding in Week 8 …
QB: Ryan Tannehill, Titans (4.5% owned in ESPN leagues)
If you had asked me a week ago who I’d pick for this spot in Week 8, I probably would have leaned Sam Darnold. But his Monday night performance was bad enough that I need to see a rebound first.
It’s basically Tannehill vs. Teddy Bridgewater in a coin flip here, but we don’t know at the moment whether Bridgewater will play against Arizona’s weak D or return the job to Drew Brees. So let’s go ahead and grab Tannehill.
The former Dolphin looked good in his 1st Titans start, earning Pro Football Focus’ 5th-highest passing grade while throwing for 312 yards and 2 TDs against the Chargers. He did so despite losing TE Delanie Walker early to an ankle re-injury.
Now, Tannehill and the Titans welcome a Buccaneers defense that Football Outsiders rates tops in the league against the run … and just 25th against the pass. Four straight QBs have accounted for at least 2 TDs against the Bucs, including 4-TD days from 2 of them. And 4 of 6 for the year have topped 310 yards passing.
None of that guarantees a good week for Tannehill … but it comes pretty close.
Last week’s pick: Jimmy Garoppolo (QB24 finish)
Full Week 8 QB rankings
TE: Jonnu Smith, Titans (0.4% owned)
Should we pick up Rudolph and use him this week? He’s less than 30% owned on ESPN as of this writing. So maybe. He also saw just 11 total targets through the 1st 6 games before Sunday’s 6-target breakthrough. So your guess is as good as mine on Rudolph’s usage going forward -- especially for a Thursday-night game his team should dominate.
The Week 8 slate features several other options with outlooks similar to Smith’s -- including Fant. But the Colts show up as a negative scoring matchup, so I’ll lean away from the rookie.
Tampa Bay, on the other hand, hits Week 8 as the league’s 2nd-most favorable scoring matchup for TEs, adding 57.3% to the position’s scoring. If Walker remains out through Sunday with his twice-injured ankle, Smith should be in for increased playing time and more than the 3 targets he collected last time out.
Smith’s downfield speed -- 17.9 yards per catch on the year -- adds bonus upside.
Last week’s pick: Noah Fant (TE40 across formats)
Full Week 8 TE rankings
D/ST: Colts (35.7% owned)
I’m leading with the Colts here both because I love the upside of their Week 8 matchup with Denver (7th-friendliest scoring matchup) and because their schedule makes them potentially playable for each of the following 3 weeks: at Pittsburgh, vs. Miami, vs. Jacksonville -- with matchups against Tennessee and at Tampa Bay beyond that. Indy’s coming off 2 straight good defensive outings and looks like a unit to pick up now where available.
But that 35.7% owned rate is a little high for true streaming-level options. So let’s also look a little deeper for alternatives. Reluctantly, I have to go back to the Lions.
I knew all along I was playing Detroit last week with the hope that the D could help Kirk Cousins into a bad outing, despite his recent trend of strong production. Those prayers were not answered. But the fantasy football gods might just be answering a week later by sending Daniel Jones.
The Giants hit this weekend as the 5th most friendly scoring matchup for fantasy defenses. Jones has tossed 7 INTs in 4 games since his exciting breakout at Tampa Bay. The rookie has also taken 4+ sacks in 3 of his 5 outings. That includes a season-high 8 against the Cardinals last weekend.
Last week’s pick: Lions (dead freaking last)
Full Week 8 D/ST rankings