The Fantasy Football season is about halfway though. While many stars are performing well, some have been disappointing. However, with the fall of one star comes the rise of another.
It’s to the point where we know who is a legit fantasy threat. However, there are still sleepers that vary each week. Often these sleeper players are the difference in winning and losing your matchups.
Mike Williams’ Week 5 performance, Leonard Fournette in Week 2, and DeAndre Swift in Week 6 are all surprising performances from players who were able to dominate once this year. These players have been relatively quiet every other week. We may see some players like this in Week 8 as well. There’s a lot of matchups to watch this week that could yield a ton of points from unsuspecting players.
Injuries are also playing a major role towards the middle of the season. We have seen many star players go down. In their absence comes new opportunities for fresh faces.
Finally, those waiver wire pickups and handcuff backs may pay off this week.
Often under-appreciated, we’ve seen some amazing defensive performances this season. While they don’t have the appeal of stars like Tyler Lockett or Derrick Henry, often defenses are key difference makers.
Here are eight major sleeper plays for Week 8 in Fantasy Football.
Boston Scott – Running Back – Philadelphia Eagles
With the injury to Miles Sanders, Boston Scott is the next man up. He was serviceable against a weak Giants defense. This week against the Cowboys defense, he should be even better.
The Cowboys’ defense has struggled at every level so far this season. Scott is a quality backup running back. For those of you who had him as a handcuff or took him off waivers, now is the week to put him in your Fantasy Football starting rotation.
While the Eagles’ offense hasn’t been spectacular, the Cowboys’ defense has been atrocious. Philadelphia has had issues with turnovers, and that might be the best chance for Dallas to win. The best thing Philly could do is to run the ball and throw short passes. If you’re in a PPR league, Scott’s value increases. Regardless, he will be a valuable starter this week.
The only worry is if Cowboys rookie Ben DiNucci takes everyone by surprise and is able to take an early lead on Philly. DiNucci is a relatively unknown quantity, and sometimes that can be scary. Philly has no idea what to expect from him.
If Dallas is able to get the ball in the hands of their playmakers, the Cowboys have a shot. Scott should still hold some value as a receiver, but his stock drops if Philly can’t get a decent lead on Dallas.
Jamycal Hasty – Running Back – San Fransisco 49ers
The 49ers love to use multiple backs. However, with Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, and Jeff Wilson Jr. all out this week, Jamycal Hasty will have a significant role. The 49ers are going against the division rival Seahawks.
Seattle has a lethal offense led by Russell Wilson. The 49ers will likely try to keep the ball out of his hands as much as possible. That means a heavy dose of Jamycal Hasty and Jerick McKinnon.
While McKinnon may be the starter, Hasty was able to rip off some big plays last week. The 49ers’ offense revolves around their running game. The rotation of running backs has been their formula since Kyle Shanahan was named head coach.
In a very important division matchup, they likely will not switch up their scheme now. Hasty has a bit of risk as a relative unknown, but we saw a glimpse of what he could do last week. He could be a high-risk/high-reward Fantasy Football play.
While Jamycal has a lot of upside, there’s plenty of risk as well. The Seahawks have the type of offense that can put up points in a hurry. After a tough loss last week, Seattle will be back with a vengeance. If they can get a lead early, the 49ers will have no choice but to rely on their passing attack.
McKinnon is the receiving back and he will have far more touches than Hasty if this happens.
Travis Fulgham – Wide Receiver – Philadelphia Eagles
As stated earlier, the Cowboys are a mess on defense. The Eagles are rather thin at wide receiver. One of the receivers will have a big day and that will be Travis Fulgham.
Fulgham already had one breakout game earlier this year against a tough Pittsburgh defense. The struggling Cowboys’ defense should be a cake-walk.
While he isn’t a typical Fantasy Football star, Fulgham is becoming more relevant each week. He has a touchdown in three of the last four games. He has only been held under 70 receiving yards only once.
In PPR leagues, Fulgham has proven to be consistent, racking up at least five receptions in each of the last three games. With DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery out and Jalen Reagor’s status in question, Fulgham doesn’t have much competition for targets either.
If you’re looking for a plug-in receiver or are in a deeper league, Fulgham could be worth a start this week.
The area that concerns me the most is if Philadelphia decides to stick mainly to the ground. The Eagles’ best shot at victory would be to limit turnovers. That means more running and less passing.
The deep shots downfield may not come very often. However, if the Cowboys are up or if this is a close game, Fulgham should be in for a very solid week.
Henry Ruggs III – Wide Receiver – Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders have a very good offense. While he isn’t necessarily a gunslinger, Derek Carr is playing very efficient football. He isn’t afraid to take the deep shots when they are available.
Raiders receiver Henry Ruggs III is one of the fastest players in the NFL. He could beat almost anyone in a foot race. The rookie first rounder has flashed the ability to make those big splash plays.
This week, he is facing the team that has allowed the most points to wide receivers in all the AFC. Ruggs is a risky play, but the reward outweighs the risk.
Cleveland has a lot of talent on their defense. Denzel Ward is a quality corner. Myles Garret is playing like the best edge rusher in the NFL. However, the Browns gave up 30 points in five out of seven games. They have talent, but lack chemistry.
Las Vegas should be able to put up a lot of points this week. A lot of attention will go to star tight end Darren Waller. However, Henry Ruggs III will be the guy who burns this Cleveland defense come Sunday.
While he has speed and could make some big plays, there are two concerns for Henry Ruggs III this week. The first is if Cleveland decides to have Denzel Ward cover him the entire game. He is an excellent corner capable of locking anyone down. The second is if the Raiders opt to spread the ball around on short throws and don’t take those deep shots. That really would limit Ruggs III and Las Vegas has a lot of mouths to feed.
However, if Las Vegas takes at anywhere between three to five deep shots, Ruggs will come down with at least one. That makes him an intriguing Fantasy Football option.
La’Mical Perine – Running Back – New York Jets
Putting a Jets player into your Fantasy Football lineup is always a risk. However, La’Mical Perine could be a fantasy relevant back this week.
Without Le’veon Bell, Perine and Frank Gore are going to be splitting carries. Gore is questionable to play this week. While the Jets are probably going to be down early against a tough Chiefs team, the Jets haven’t been able to do anything through the air. Running the football, keeping the ball out of Patrick Mahomes hands, and limiting turnovers may be the game plan.
While the Chiefs’ defense has been very good from a turnover standpoint, teams have been able to run the football on them. The Jets don’t have an explosive offense, but someone will have to do something for them.
My money is on their running back to come out and try to keep them in this game. The Jets’ only shot in this game is to control the clock, and even that might not be enough.
The main area of concern for Perine is that he is on the Jets. The Jets have been absolutely abysmal on offense. The Chiefs will likely get out to an early lead. If Adam Gase tries to make this a shootout, Perine will not get many touches.
On the other hand, if Gase thinks that his team can beat the Chiefs in a shootout, the NFL should place him in the concussion protocol. The game plan should be to run the football and control the clock.
Brandon Aiyuk – Wide Receiver – San Fransisco 49ers
While we already have one 49ers player on this list, Brandon Aiyuk may be in for a big game as well. The Seahawks currently are giving up the most Fantasy Football points to wideouts in the league. The 49ers are very banged up. They are missing three of their running backs and Deebo Samuel, which means other guys will have to step up.
The flexible rookie receiver, Brandon Aiyuk, has a strong chance to shine this week.
Aiyuk is a speedy receiver coming off of an incredible performance against New England last week. While the 49ers don’t take many deep shots, the coaching staff does a great job scheming up plays to get their playmakers the football.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks have had a very tough time covering wideouts so far. Seattle is completely reliant on their offense to win, which means a lot of points will be scored. They may try and make this game a shootout.
While Aiyuk has a lot of upside this week, there is some risk as well. The 49ers may want to keep the ball out of Russell Wilson’s hands. That means a lot of running the football and a high percentage of throws to George Kittle. If that happens, it takes away a lot of Brandon Aiyuk’s upside.
However, with the lack of playmakers due to injury, he still has a fairly high floor out of necessity.
Teddy Bridgewater – Quarterback – Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers are surprising a lot of people so far this season. Many had the idea that once Christian McCaffrey went down, the offense would crumble. However, Teddy Bridgewater has done an excellent job of leading this offense and the Panthers are well within striking distance for the division title.
This week, they are facing Atlanta, who ranks second to last in opposing QB points-per-game. Bridgewater has a very high ceiling this week.
While many think of Bridgewater as a more conservative quarterback, he has not been afraid to throw the ball deep this season. The Panthers have two very good receivers in DJ Moore and Robby Anderson. They should have no problem putting up points against a very porous Falcons defense.
If you have a QB on bye or are looking for a streamer option, Bridgewater is a very smart Fantasy Football choice.
While Bridgewater has a lot of upside, there is some concern. They are playing a Thursday game, which means less time to prepare for opposing defensive schemes. The Falcons also have shown the ability to intercept the football and create turnovers. It is also a rivalry game, so teams will be ready to compete.
Bridgewater has a lot of upside, but don’t start him over a top-tier quarterback.
Los Angeles Chargers Defense
While they have yet to have a breakout game, there’s really no downside to this play. If you’re someone who waits on defenses and streams them week to week, the Chargers are you go-to defense this week.
They are playing a Broncos team without their top receiver, injury concerns at running back, and an O-Line that has been allowing a ton of pressure. The Chargers have a lot of talent on this defense. This might be the week where all that talent comes together.
The Broncos were coming into the season with a lot of hype around the offense. However, they haven’t been able to live up to that hype. Some of that is due to the injury of Courtland Sutton. Most of it is on the offensive line’s inability to protect the quarterback.
Joey Bosa is one of the league’s best pass rushers. Melvin Ingram is a solid veteran pass rusher. The secondary is very good as well with three corners all capable of starting for many teams. Los Angeles will have a breakout week on defense against Denver.
While things have been bad for Denver, injuries are a major issue. Drew Lock is back under center and he is capable of putting up big numbers. The risk this week is that Denver plays up to their offensive potential. It really is going to come down to a battle of the lines.
If Denver’s line can protect Lock and create some running lanes, this is a bad Fantasy Football play. However, they’ve yet to do that against far worse defensive fronts. My money is on the Chargers’ defense to win this matchup.