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The IDP Guys’ NFL Week 8 Start/Sit List: IDP

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Need a little help with your IDP fantasy lineup? Check out the IDPGuys’ NFL Week 8 Start/Sit article


Phew! You made it through the horror of Week 7 byes unscathed, your unbeaten record intact, and you’re back to follow the advice in the NFL Week 8 Start/Sit on your way to yet another fantasy championship. Yes?

If you struggled in Week 7, don’t panic. Six teams had a bye in Week 7; no other week has as many teams taking a rest. If several of your IDP stars were out last week, at least you got that week out of the way. The good news is that Week 8 is kinder; there are only two teams on a bye this weekend.

Let’s get into it!

Table of Contents

Disclaimers
Article Key

Thursday Night Football
Green Bay Packers (6-1) at Arizona Cardinals (7-0)
Sunday Early Afternoon Games
Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) at New York Jets (1-5)
Tennessee Titans (5-2) at Indianapolis Colts (2-4)
Los Angeles Rams (6-1) at Houston Texans (1-6)
Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) at Cleveland Browns (4-3)
Philadelphia Eagles (2-5) at Detroit Lions (0-7)
San Francisco 49ers (2-4) at Chicago Bears (3-4)
Carolina Panthers (3-4) at Atlanta Falcons (3-3)
Miami Dolphins (1-6) at Buffalo Bills (4-2)
Sunday Mid-Afternoon Games
New England Patriots (3-4) at Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) at Seattle Seahawks (2-4)
Washington Football Team (2-5) at Denver Broncos 2 (3-4)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-1) at New Orleans Saints (3-2)
Sunday Night Football
Dallas Cowboys (5-1) at Minnesota Vikings (3-3)
Monday Night Football
New York Giants (2-5) at Kansas City Chiefs 2 (3-4)

Disclaimers

In the first few weeks of the season, I had a list of disclaimers here that explained how my advice is only a suggestion, how your team is your responsibility, and that I will get things wrong. It got too wordy, and I think most reasonable people understand all of this by now. I’m not going to include all that in my NFL Week 6 Start/Sit IDP article.

I’ll just say this. If you’re the sort of person who feels the need to complain when (not if) I get something wrong, and it costs you points, please read the disclaimers from those early weeks first. I encourage all feedback — even criticism when it’s constructive — but not mindless rants. I do this for fun. It’s a game. Let’s keep it light.

Article Key

Tier One Starts

These players have the best outlook based on their opportunity, past production, talent level, and matchup. They usually have a solid floor and an excellent ceiling. These guys should be the nearest to guaranteed production you can find.

Tier Two Starts

These players should earn a reasonable amount of points. Their opportunity, talent, or matchup is typically not on a par with a tier-one player. Tier two players are usually a good option in deep leagues that start multiple players at each position.

Tier Three Starts

These players are a bit of a gamble. You should probably only start them in larger leagues and those which start many players at each position. Tier three players can be serviceable as either bye week or injury replacements, but the chances of scoring well are slim. This tier is as close to “sit” as you can get while retaining some value as a starter.

Sits

As the name implies, sit these players. You should not start these players for any number of reasons. They aren’t necessarily bad players. I just don’t predict them to be scoring well this game week. In the case of rookies, for example, they may simply need time to earn more playing time and, therefore, our trust as fantasy starters.

Any player not listed in any of these four categories should probably be considered a “sit.” If they become IDP relevant on a week-to-week basis, they will likely end up in one of the categories above.

No Cornerbacks?

Johnny writes a separate article for CBs that drops on Fridays, so keep an eye out for that tomorrow!

True Position Designations

In some IDP leagues, certain positions are grouped in a suboptimal way, primarily because of outdated interpretations of what players at each position do. Many IDP leagues are turning towards True Position in attempts to address that problem.

In true position scoring, outside linebackers and defensive ends (ends who predominantly line up outside of the tackle) are grouped together as ‘Edge’ (rushers). Defensive tackles and defensive ends who play on the interior are grouped together as IDL (interior defensive linemen).

This leaves all remaining linebackers as off-ball linebackers (I’ve called them ILBs in this NFL Week 6 Start/Sit IDP article to help with clarification).

The result of these changes is that scoring can be more fairly distributed between groups of players who, in modern defenses, essentially perform near-identical roles.

Players with EDGE designations in such leagues, and in this article, can vary in value from leagues that still use traditional DE and OLB positions. The same is true of IDL vs. DT designations and is complicated further by platforms that simply use DL positions to lump all defensive linemen together (the worst!).

There is no easy way I can cater to all of these leagues here. Whatever I choose to do, someone would be missing out.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to value translation between these different designations, I can at least offer to help adjust the IDP start/sit advice mentioned here for your league’s scoring system.

If you need help in that sense, or if you find all of this just too complicated, please send me a Twitter DM. I answer every message I receive.

Let’s get into the fun part of the NFL Week 7 Start/Sit IDP article.

Thursday Night Football

Green Bay Packers (6-1) at Arizona Cardinals (7-0)

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Packers
Starts

Tier One

Kenny Clark, IDL; Rashan Gary, EDGE; De’Vondre Campbell, ILB;

Clark didn’t manage a sack against Washington last weekend, but he had seven total pressures, including a QB hit and six hurries. He now ranks 2nd in total pressures at the IDL spot with 29, trailing only Aaron Donald’s 34.

It may be mildly frustrating to Clark’s fantasy managers that he has just two sacks this season. However, if he continues to bring pressure at this rate, the sacks will come. Clark remains an elite option at the IDL spot.

Cardinals center Rodney Hudson will miss this game after being added to IR with a rib injury. Hudson’s absence helps Clark’s matchup this weekend. Hudson hadn’t allowed a single pressure in five games this season.

Max Garcia has played well in place of Hudson. Left guard Justin Pugh has been solid too. Right guard Josh Jones has been poor, and it is he who will face Clark more often than not.

Gary had three total tackles (two missed) and a career-high 10 total pressures against Washington, including two sacks and a forced fumble. Watch him take down Taylor Heinicke here:

The former Michigan Wolverine ranks fifth among edge rushers with 35 total pressures and has added four sacks and 20 total tackles. He has stepped up in the absence of Za’Darius Smith.

Gary should face Kelvin Beachum more often than anyone else. Beachum has played well at times but hasn’t been consistent. Gary has the advantage in this matchup.

Campbell hasn’t missed a single defensive snap since Jaylon Smith signed, and Campbell is playing the best football of his career. Last weekend, he recorded 10 total tackles and two forced fumbles and now has 62 total tackles in seven games.

Tier Two

Adrian Amos, S.

Amos played every down, as usual, and had six total tackles and a pass breakup. He may lack the big plays of other safeties so far, but he ranks in the top five at the position for total tackles this season.

Tier Three

Preston Smith, EDGE; Dean Lowry, IDL.

Preston Smith’s streak of playing in all 102 games of his NFL career came to an end against his former team; the outside linebacker suffered an oblique strain in Week 6 against Chicago, which kept him from suiting up last weekend.

Smith should be back this weekend. He has 14 tackles, 11 pressures, and two sacks in five-and-a-bit games.

Lowry started the season slowly but has improved in the last three games:

First four games: Three total pressures, zero sacks.
Last three games: Eleven total pressures, three sacks, and two batted passes.

Those sacks have come in three consecutive games.

See Clark’s notes for info on Lowry’s matchup.

Sits

Darnell Savage, S; Jaylon Smith, ILB; Kingsley Keke, IDL; Whitney Mercilus, EDGE

Savage had six total tackles and a pass breakup. Not a bad week, but he will remain hit or miss while playing as deep as often as he does. You can’t rely on consistent tackle numbers, so you’re dependant on big plays.

I listed Smith here last week because he was a hot topic after the trade. I won’t mention him again unless his usage increases dramatically.

Keke may be a popular waiver pickup due to the two sacks he had last week, and I can understand why at such a shallow position, but those sacks came on just two total pressures. I don’t recommend starting him unless injuries and bye weeks have ravaged your team.

Mercilus sounds happy to be in Green Bay, or at least out of Houston, depending on how you interpret his words, “it just pumps new life [into you] because I’ve only seen the same four walls for years and to see something different is pretty cool.”

Mercilus was third on the Packers with four total pressures last weekend, but I think Preston Smith’s return could mean Mercilus’ role diminishes.

Cardinals
Starts

Tier One

Budda Baker, S.

Baker was a disappointment for fantasy managers in Week 7. He recorded just two solo tackles. It was the second consecutive disappointing game in what has been, by his standards, a slow start to the season.

Baker is extremely unlikely to come close to replicating his 150 tackle season in 2019 or even his 111 tackle season in 2020. He is on pace for 102 total tackles in 2021, which is a sizeable drop-off considering that number takes into account the extra regular-season game.

He has the talent and the opportunity to bounce back, so he remains a recommended tier-one starter at the safety spot.

Tier Two

Chandler Jones, EDGE; Markus Golden, EDGE.

Jones missed the game as he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He was activated on Monday, along with Zach Allen, so he should return to the lineup on Thursday night. Kliff Kingsbury spoke of the impact of their return:

“It’ll be a great boost to get those two guys back. Hopefully, they can pick up where they left off.”

The thing is, Jones wasn’t exactly in great form when he last played. He had an incredible five-sack performance in Week 1 but had none in the next four games. He did record 11 total pressures over that span, but it’s not an elite level. Watt recorded almost double the number of pressures over the same period.

Golden had his second consecutive two-sack game last weekend. He now has 22 pressures and six sacks and will be relied upon more heavily, with Watt expected to miss the remainder of the season.

David Bakhtiari will not be healthy enough to play in this game, so Elgton Jenkins will likely start at left tackle again. Jenkins has allowed nine pressures and two sacks in four games. Billy Turner will start at right tackle; Turner has surrendered 16 pressures and three sacks this season.

Jones and Golden will face more difficult matchups than this.

Tier Three

Jordan Hicks, ILB; Jalen Thompson, S; Isaiah Simmons, ILB.

Hicks played 36 of 56 snaps and recorded three total tackles. He has been battling injuries and was questionable for the game, so the Cardinals probably managed his snaps. Zaven Collins was just behind him with 32 snaps.

Thompson played 45 snaps and had four solo tackles last weekend. He has 43 total tackles this season. 27% of his snaps this season have been in a box role.

Simmons played 44 of a possible 56 snaps, led the team with five total tackles, and added a QB hurry. He now has 47 tackles, an interception, two forced fumbles, and a pass breakup this season. If I had a tier 2.5, Simmons would be in it.

Sits

J.J.Watt, EDGE (injury).

Watt is expected to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery.

Sunday Early Afternoon Slate

Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) at New York Jets (1-5)

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Bengals
Starts

Tier One

Vonn Bell, S; Logan Wilson, ILB; Trey Hendrickson, EDGE.

Bell had five solo tackles and a QB hurry against the Ravens last weekend. He lacks some of the big plays of his elite safety counterparts league-wide, but tackle numbers are more predictable and, therefore, safer.

The only game Bell had with less than five tackles was in Week 3 when he helped fantasy managers with his sole forced fumble.

Wilson had one of his quietest games of the season. He managed just five total tackles and a QB hurry. He could have had more tackles, but he missed two tackle attempts.

Wilson now has 57 total tackles, a sack, and four interceptions this season. He remains in tier one.

Hendrickson did what Hendrickson usually does; he generated lots of pressure – seven to be exact – and didn’t contribute much by way of tackles. One of those pressures was a sack – his seventh on the season. Hendrickson now ranks fourth among edge rushers with 36 total pressures.

George Fant has started at left tackle since Mekhi Becton suffered a knee injury against the Panthers in Week 1. Fant has played pretty well and will represent a challenging matchup for Hendrickson. Even so, I wouldn’t bet against Hendrickson while he is in this sort of form.

Tier Two

Sam Hubbard, EDGE; Jessie Bates III, S.

Hubbard had a massive game against the Ravens. Two total tackles, eight total pressures, including three sacks. He also added a batted pass.

Hubbard will face Jets right tackle Morgan Moses in Week 8. Moses has been inconsistent at times; he has three games with four pressures or more and three with two pressures or less. Hubbard will hope he can carry over his form from last week against Moses and the Jets.

Tier Three

None.

Sits

DJ Reader, IDL; Larry Ogunjobi, IDL; Akeem Davis-Gaither, ILB.

Reader had another decent game, but it was another game that was inconsequential in fantasy terms.

Ogunjobi had his best game since he joined the Bengals. Five total tackles, five total pressures, including two sacks. That level of output is worthy of tier one. But it was the first game this season he has been fantasy-relevant. I’ll move him up to tier three if we see him continue in this form.

ADG was the Bengals’ best linebacker last weekend. He had five total tackles, a forced fumble, and a pass breakup. His snap numbers have increased in four consecutive games, but he only played 39 of a possible 73 snaps. He’s one to keep an eye on.

Jets
Starts

Tier One

Quinnen Williams, IDL.

Williams had three solo tackles and three hurries against the Patriots last weekend. He now has 17 total tackles, 20 total pressures, and four sacks this season.

Jets center Trey Hopkins has been wildly inconsistent. Left guard Quinton Spain has markedly improved in the last four games and has allowed only two pressures over that span. Williams could have his hands full.

Tier Two

John Franklin-Myers, EDGE.

Franklin-Myers earned just one tackle and one hurry last weekend and hasn’t had a sack since Week 4.

I have faith that Franklin-Myers can rebound, possibly as early as this weekend. He faces Bengals right tackle Riley Reiff, who hasn’t been himself this season. Reiff has allowed three sacks already. Triple the number he surrendered last year.

Tier Three

Del’Shawn Phillips, ILB; Marcus Maye, S.

Phillips is one of the only healthy off-ball linebackers on the roster. Even if C.J. Mosley returns, Phillips could be worth starting as a tier-three ILB.

Maye returned to the lineup and immediately reclaimed his role as the box safety. He played every down and spent 43 of his 76 snaps in the box or on the defensive line. He earned a team-high 13 total tackles and added a pass breakup.

Sits

Quincy Williams, ILB (injured); C.J. Mosley, ILB (injured); Jamien Sherwood, ILB (injured – IR); Blake Cashman, ILB (injured); Ashtyn Davis, S.

The Jets linebacker group has been hit hard with injuries. Last weekend Williams suffered a concussion. Sherwood tore his Achilles and will miss the remainder of the season, and Cashman injured his groin. Mosley was already out with a hamstring injury.

The hope is that Mosley can return this weekend. Monitor his status carefully.

Davis played every down, recorded 10 total tackles and a QB hurry. If he maintains this snap share, then he could become fantasy relevant on a more regular basis. If you’re strapped for starters this week, you could play Davis as he has marginal value after last weekend’s performance.

Tennessee Titans (5-2) at Indianapolis Colts (2-4)

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Titans
Starts

Tier One

Harold Landry, EDGE; Jeffery Simmons, IDL.

Landry added another sack against the Chiefs. He has now recorded at least five pressures in every game this season. He has just one game without a sack. His 40 total pressures rank second among edge players. This is the most productive spell of his career as a pass rusher.

Landry will face a combination of Eric Fisher and Matt Pryor in Week 8. After a sub-par first seven games, Fisher had arguably his best game of the season against the 49ers in Week 7. Pryor has allowed just five pressures and zero sacks this season. Landry will face easier matchups.

Simmons had two tackles and five pressures last weekend. Unfortunately for his fantasy managers, none of them were sacks.

Simmons remains an elite performer at the IDL spot this season. He is fifth in the league at the position with 27 total pressures, four of which were sacks. He has also added 21 total tackles.

The interior of the Colts offensive line has only allowed three sacks all season, but this isn’t an elite unit. Simmons can find success here.

Tier Two

David Long, ILB; Denico Autry, EDGE.

Long led the Titan with eight total tackles against the Chiefs, and he also added two pass breakups. He now has 52 total tackles despite missing Week 1.

Last week I complimented Long on how active he has been. I also criticized him for having 11 missed tackles this season – he was joint second in the league in that category at the time. Lond didn’t miss any tackles last weekend.

Autry had five pressures last weekend, including two sacks. He now has five sacks this season and ranks 10th among all edge rushers with 30 total pressures. The only concerning factor is that he only played 32 snaps.

Autry doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He has double-digit sacks in two of his last three seasons and is well on his way to another. Head coach Mike Vrabel appreciates Autry’s talent.

See Landry’s notes for info on Autry’s matchup. Autry will face more of Pryor than Fisher.

Tier Three

Kevin Byard, S; Rashaan Evans, ILB.

Byard had four total tackles and a forced fumble in Week 7. His tackle volume is not significant, but his big-play numbers are back to where they were in the 2019 season.

Evans is not someone that excites me, and I hesitate to recommend him even as a tier-three player. He has 37 tackles in seven games.

Sits

Amani Hooker, S (injury); Dane Cruikshank, S; Jayon Brown, ILB.

Hooker missed last week with a groin injury. If he returns this week, he will be a tier-three safety.

Cruikshank replaced Hooker and took advantage of his opportunity. He was second on the team with seven solo tackles.

Brown was designated to return from IR this week. He could play as early as this week, but I haven’t seen any updates to say he has been added to the active roster, and the Titans have 21 days to do so.

His role had diminished even prior to the injury.

Colts
Starts

Tier One

DeForest Buckner, IDL; Darius Leonard, ILB.

Buckner had four total tackles, a sack, and a hurry against the 49ers. It was his second consecutive game with a sack. He now ranks eighth at the IDL position in total pressures.

Rodger Saffold is the only player on the interior of the Titans offensive line who has played well this season. It’s a good matchup for Buckner.

Leonard played every down and led the Colts with eight total tackles, a QB hit, and a forced fumble last weekend. He has 53 tackles this season and has added at least one big play most weeks to help his fantasy managers.

Tier Two

Bobby Okereke, ILB; Khari Willis, S.

Okereke played every down and had four total tackles and a pass breakup. He has 54 tackles this season, a sack, and two pass breakups.

Willis recorded his second interception of the season against the 49ers. He added six total tackles. He played every down, and 35 of his 56 snaps were spent either in the box or on the defensive line.

Tier Three

None.

Sits

Tyquan Lewis, EDGE; Kwity Paye, EDGE.

Lewis piqued the interest of fantasy managers with a two-sack performance in Week 5. These are his only two sacks of the season, but he does have 17 total pressures and has added 11 tackles, so he does have some fringe value.

I’m keen to see Paye do well. He actually led the Colts in total pressures in Week 7 and paced the Colts edge rushers with 41 of a possible 56 snaps. Paye added four total tackles. If he can stay healthy, I expect him to earn his first career sack in the near future.

Paye will face Taylor Lewan if Lewan can clear concussion protocols. If not, Paye will either face Kendall Lamm or Bobby Hart. Lamm had to leave the Chiefs game due to injury and was replaced by Hart.

Monitor Lewan’s status – and be the bigger man and pull for him whether you have Paye or not. That moment against the Bills was unpleasant to watch, and it would be good to see Lewan healthy enough to take the field again.

Los Angeles Rams (6-1) at Houston Texans (1-6)

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Rams
Starts

Tier One

Aaron Donald, IDL; Leonard Floyd, EDGE.

Donald had a quiet game last weekend. He had four total tackles, two pressures, including a hit and a hurry. Lions’ center Evan Brown had an excellent game and helped keep Donald to his lowest number of pressures all season.

It speaks volumes about how dominant Donald is that despite the quiet game, he still leads all other NFL players at the IDL position by five pressures.

The interior of the Texans’ offensive line is weak. Donald has a nice matchup this weekend and has a good chance of getting back to his usual self.

Floyd led the Texans in total pressures against Detroit with three, but all three were hurries which don’t help fantasy managers. He did add seven total tackles, which rescued his day somewhat.

Floyd will try to get the better of Texans right tackle Charlie Heck this weekend. Heck has stood in for Marcus Cannon and has played reasonably well. He has allowed just six pressures in three games. Even so, Floyd has the advantage here.

Tier Two

Jordan Fuller, S.

Fuller played almost every down and led the Texans with nine total tackles. He has 21 tackles in the last two games and 54 total tackles this season. He has steadily improved in almost every game, especially in coverage.

Fuller spent 16 of his 69 snaps in a box role last weekend.

Tier Three

Troy Reeder, ILB.; Ernest Jones, ILB; Terrell Lewis, EDGE; Taylor Rapp, S.

The Rams traded Kenny Young last week, opening the door for Reeder and/or Jones to step into a more prominent role. Head coach Sean McVay said the motives were financial. McVay added, “whether it’s Troy Reeder or Ernest Jones, they’re going to be asked to step up and fill that void and that vacancy.”

Reeder led the Rams linebackers with 58 of a possible 71 snaps in Week 7. Young had just 38. How those snaps will be distributed between Reeder and Jones remains to be seen. I’m more comfortable starting Reeder of the two players this coming weekend.

Lewis played 41 of a possible 71 snaps, which were second on the team among edge rushers. He only had a tackle and two hurries in a matchup where he should arguably have produced more. However, it was his first game without a sack since Week 3, and these types of weeks do happen.

Rapp played almost every snap and had his second-lowest tackle total of the season with three. He started the season with games of eight, eight, six, and 10 tackles but has since had only eight tackles in the last three games.

Rapp’s usage or snap counts haven’t changed drastically. He played 15 of his 69 snaps in a box role or on the defensive line.

Sits

Sebastian Joseph-Day, IDL (injury).

Joseph-Day is out with a pectoral injury.

Texans
Starts

Tier One

None.

Tier Two

Jonathan Greenard, EDGE; Christian Kirksey, ILB.

Greenard has people very excited. I warned people last week that his pressures to sack ratio will decrease, but Greenard made a mockery of that advice and earned two sacks on three pressures last week. He also added a batted pass.

I still stand by my point. Greenard has six sacks on 12 pressures. Even Danielle Hunter has needed 31 pressures to get to six sacks. I’m not willing Greenard to fail, far from it – I’m thrilled that the Texans fans get something to cheer about; I’m just asking fantasy managers to temper expectations a little.

It concerns me slightly that Greenard played 38 of a possible 71 snaps in a heavy edge rotation. Four Texans edge rushers had between 35 and 39 snaps.

Greenard swaps between LEO and REO regularly. Andrew Whitworth is out with a knee injury and his absence will be a big loss for the Rams. Joseph Noteboom will replace Whitworth but isn’t in the same league. This situation obviously works in Greenard’s favor.

Rob Havenstein is playing well and is having arguably the best season of his six-year career. He will be a good test for Greenard.

Kirksey led the Texans with eight total tackles. He did miss two more, but missing tackles is the exception for Kirksey, not the rule. He has 46 tackles this season and has missed only four attempts.

Tier Three

Kamu Grugier-Hill, ILB; Justin Reid, S.

Grugier-Hill has replaced Zach Cunningham. In the Cardinals game, Grugier-Hill played every down, whereas Cunningham played only 15.

However, Grugier-Hill didn’t have his best game. He earned six total tackles but missed two more tackle attempts. He allowed a touchdown and had his second-lowest PFF grade since Week 1.

Reid played 63 of a possible 71 snaps. 25 of those snaps were spent in a box role. He joint-led the team with seven total tackles. 

Sits

Zach Cunningham, ILB; Charles Omenihu, EDGE; Maliek Collins, IDL; DeMarcus Walker, IDL.

As mentioned above, Cunningham played only 15 snaps. Unless the Texans have a drastic change of heart or Cunningham is traded elsewhere, he probably doesn’t belong on fantasy rosters any longer. His fantasy managers will feel aggrieved.

Omenihu led the Texans in snaps with 39 and total pressures with five. I think he has some talent, but this heavy edge rotation the Texans are deploying doesn’t give me confidence.

That heavy rotation also includes players at the IDL spot too. Collins and Walker had three pressures, including a sack, but Collins played 35 snaps and Walker 34. Four players at the IDL position had between 30 and 37 snaps.

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) at Cleveland Browns (4-3)

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Steelers
Starts

Tier One

Cam Heyward, IDL. T.J. Watt, EDGE.

Heyward had a really good game in the Steelers’ last game against the Seahawks in Week 6. He earned seven total tackles, three total pressures, including a sack.

The sack was only Heywards second of the season, but he does have 22 total pressures, which bode well. He also has 33 total tackles, which rank second at the IDL position despite having already had his bye week.

Heyward will face a fair amount of Joel Bitonio in Week 8. Bitonio is one of the best guards in the league. It’s a difficult matchup for Heyward.

Watt also had a very nice game against the Seahawks a few weeks ago. Six total tackles, three total pressures, including two sacks. He also forced a fumble. Watt has only played five games this season but already has 18 total pressures, six sacks, and three forced fumbles.

Jack Conklin returned to practice on Monday and will presumably be ready to play on the weekend. Conklin hasn’t quite been at his usual best – he allowed a sack in each of the first two games – but he has only allowed seven pressures in the five games he’s played. Watt will have easier matchups.

Tier Two

Minkah Fitzpatrick, S.

Fitzpatrick was on the field for every defensive down and played just six snaps in the box or on the defensive line. He led the Steelers with 10 total tackles but missed three more tackle attempts. However, he made up for it with a forced fumble, the fourth of his career.

Tier Three

Alex Highsmith, EDGE; Devin Bush, ILB; Joe Schobert, ILB; Terrell Edmunds, S.

Highsmith had the sort of game people have been waiting for in Week 6. He played every down, had five total tackles, five total pressures, including two sacks. He has the talent and the opportunity to become a player I could recommend in tier two. I’d like to see Highsmith produce on a more regular basis before I do so.

Highsmith will face Jedrick Wills Jr. in Week 8. Wills Jr. hasn’t looked as good this year as last year, so Highsmith is meeting him at the right time.

Bush has 20 total tackles in five games. He rewarded loyal fantasy managers with a sack in Week 4 and again in Week 5, but he isn’t rushing the passer often enough to maintain those sack numbers.

Schobert has 34 tackles in six games. He has been fantasy-relevant in only two, maybe three, of those six games. He continues to play plenty; Schobert had 50 of a possible 65 snaps against the Seahawks.

Edmunds played every down again in Week 6. He spent 30 of his 65 snaps in a box role. He turned that into three total tackles and now has 33 total tackles this season.

I often wonder how Edmunds plays so many box snaps and yet doesn’t deliver on the same level as other players in similar roles. I may look into it in more detail and write a short article or tweet a thread about it soon.

Sits

Melvin Ingram, EDGE.

Ingram is reportedly on the trade block, and the Steelers have been receiving inquiries from other teams. He started fast with 11 total pressures in the first two weeks but has since seen his snap share dwindle. Highsmith’s ascendency has seemingly made Ingram surplus to requirements.

Ingram is listed as doubtful with a groin injury.

Browns
Starts

Tier One

Myles Garrett, EDGE; Jadeveon Clowney, EDGE.

Garrett continued his stellar season with a five-pressure, two-sack performance against the Broncos on Thursday night football last week. He now ranks joint-second among edge rushers with 40 total pressures, and his 11 sacks lead the league at any position.

The Steelers left tackle Dan Moore has been quite poor this season. He has surrendered 17 total pressures and two sacks in six games. Garrett could feast.

Clowney has been very good this season, and in doing so, he’s done a pretty good job of answering his critics. He added six total pressures and a sack against the Broncos. He now has 31 total pressures, which rank ninth among edge rushers this season. Clowney also has five sacks.

Clowney will face Chukwuma Okorafor in Week 8. Okorafor has not performed consistently this season but has yet to allow a sack. It’s an average matchup for Clowney.

Tier Two

Malik Jackson, IDL; Anthony Walker, ILB.

Jackson had two tackles, two total pressures, including a hit and a hurry last weekend. He has 20 pressures so far which rank 12th at the IDL spot, but he hasn’t had a sack since Week 3.

Walker played every down and led the Browns with 10 total tackles in Week 7. He also added a QB hurry. He now has 34 tackles in four games. He’ll be relied upon in the absence of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.

Tier Three

None.

Sits

Malik McDowell, IDL; John Johnson, S.

McDowell has some talent, but he is inconsistent. It is expected of a player who is essentially in a rookie year. I can see him developing later this season or early next. He could be a good dynasty stash at a shallow, premium position if you can afford to be patient.

Don’t be tempted to start or even pick up Johnson based on his interception last week. He averages three tackles per game this season. There are far better options out there.

Philadelphia Eagles (2-5) at Detroit Lions (0-7)

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Eagles
Starts

Tier One

Javon Hargrave, IDL.

Hargrave has been a bargain IDL pickup for fantasy managers who were quick to pick him up after Week 1. He has 33 total tackles, which rank third—23 pressures which rank seventh. And five sacks which rank joint-second.

He has gone two games without a sack but did have 12 total tackles over those two games to reward loyal fantasy managers.

Lions center Evan Brown replaced Frank Ragnow in Week 4. He was pretty average at first but has come on well since. His performance in Week 7 was one of the best of any offensive lineman in the league. Fortunately for Hargrave, Lions guards Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and Jonah Jackson have not been nearly as good.

Tier Two

Alex Singleton, ILB.

Every week that I sort the Eagles defenders by tackles, Singleton is at the top. He had 10 total tackles and has an incredible 77 tackles this season.

Every week that I sort the Eagles by missed tackles, Singleton is on top. He now leads the NFL in that category.

I don’t rate Singleton as a player, but fantasy managers don’t care about my personal feelings or missed tackles. While Singleton remains one of the leading tacklers in the league, you’re right to keep starting him in fantasy. In tackle-heavy scoring formats, he’s a tier-one starting ILB.

Tier Three

Fletcher Cox, IDL; Josh Sweat, EDGE.

Cox has the total pressures of a tier two IDL, but only one sack, and the tackle volume of someone you can’t start at all. We need to see more, or others will begin to overtake him. At this point, you’re only starting him if you’re desperate at the position.

See Hargrave’s notes for info on Cox’s matchup.

Sweat played 49 of a possible 66 snaps against the Raiders. He was second to Hargrave with three total pressures and has 19 pressures on 185 pass-rush snaps this season.

Sweat has a tasty matchup with Matt Nelson in this game. Nelson has allowed 28 total pressures and two sacks this season.

Sits

Anthony Harris, S.

Harris missed last weekend with a groin strain. I would have him as a recommended sit even if he were healthy. Marcus Epps stood in for Harris in Week 7 and joined Singleton in leading the team with 10 tackles.

Rumors are circulating that Harris could be a trade candidate. He has accrued a solid number of tackles this season, but he isn’t the player he was at the Vikings. There is a chance he could be supplanted by Epps on a more permanent basis, as explained here.

Lions
Starts

Tier One

None. Sorry Lions fans!

Tier Two

Charles Harris, EDGE.

Harris was on a nice run between Weeks 2 and 5. He had four consecutive games with a sack and had 14 total pressures over that span. He now has 20 total pressures and four sacks this season. Harris has also begun to improve his tackle volume – 14 of his 18 tackles this season have come in the last four games.

Harris and Trey Flowers will go up against a combination of Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson in Week 8.

Mailata had his poorest game of the season against the Raiders, allowing seven total pressures and a sack. He has otherwise been an above-average tackle in the four other games he’s started.

Lane Johnson returned to the Eagles lineup last week. He is one of the best tackles in the NFL. This is not an easy matchup for the Lions’ edge rushers.

Tier Three

Trey Flowers, EDGE; Alex Anzalone, ILB; Tracy Walker, S; Jalen Reeves-Maybin, ILB;

Flowers doesn’t look himself. He has only five total pressures and one sack on 118 pass-rush attempts. I think he could regain form and return to becoming a tier-two starter, but I’m recommending him as a tier-three edge rusher until that happens.

See Harris’ notes above for info on Flowers matchup.

My only problem with Reeves-Maybin in Week 6 was that he played less than half of the available defensive snaps. That changed in Week 7; he played 47 of an available 65 and led the team with eight total tackles.

Sits

Julian Okwara, EDGE. Derrick Barnes, ILB.

Okwara suddenly has marginal value and probably deserves to be in tier three. He has a sack in two consecutive games and earned 22 pass-rush snaps in Week 7 compared with only 14 in Week 6.

He still only played 35 total snaps in Week 7 but could begin to eat into Trey Flowers’ snap share.

Barnes played only 20 snaps.

San Francisco 49ers (2-4) at Chicago Bears (3-4)

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49ers
Starts

Tier One

Nick Bosa, EDGE; Fred Warner, ILB.

Bosa led the team with four total pressures in Week 7 but didn’t record a sack. He faces Jason Peters this weekend. Peters has allowed three sacks in seven games but is no pushover and remains a challenging matchup, even for Bosa.

Warner played every down as usual and was second on the team with nine total tackles. He has 53 tackles in six games this season and remains a solid tier-one linebacker.

Tier Two

None.

Tier Three

Arik Armstead, EDGE.

Armstead is too good to be in this tier. I do not forget that he has 19 total pressures in six games, but I’m also not overlooking the fact that he has only four pressures in his last four games.

Armstead will go up against the right-hand side of a Bears offensive line which is in flux. The Bears are struggling to replace Germain Ifedi, and Armstead could bounce back in this game.

Sits

Jaquiski Tartt, S (injury); Talanoa Hufanga, S; Javon Kinlaw, IDL (injury); Azeez Al-Shaair, ILB (injury).

Tartt left the Colts game with a bone bruise on his knee and is expected to miss a few weeks. Talanoa Hufanga had a season-high 34 snaps in his place, 13 of which were spent in the box or on the defensive line.

Hufanga will be a popular waiver pickup, but you might want to avoid starting him unless you’re desperate until we see how this plays out.

Kinlaw may need season-ending surgery due to a knee injury. Monitor his status.

Al-Shaair is dealing with a concussion and is doubtful. Monitor his status before starting him this week.

Bears
Starts

Tier One

Roquan Smith, ILB.

Smith had 14 total tackles and a pass breakup against the Bucs. He has an impressive 76 tackles through seven games and has added two sacks and two pass breakups.

Tier Two

None.

Tier Three

Eddie Jackson, S.

Jackson had a season-high 10 total tackles last weekend and now has 37 total tackles this season. He matched another season-high with 32 snaps spent either in the box or on the defensive line.

Sits

Bilal Nichols, IDL; DeAndre Houston-Carson, S; Khalil Mack, EDGE (injured).

I hoped Nichols would play more in the absence of Hicks, but it wasn’t to be. He managed just 38 of a possible 73 snaps.

Houston-Carson stood in for the injured Tashaun Gipson and played every snap. He spent 29 of his 73 snaps either in the box or on the defensive line. Houston-Carson had 11 total tackles and a pass breakup.

I suspect Gipson will relinquish his role once he returns, so monitor his status. If he doesn’t play in Week 8, Houston-Carson could be a tier-three starter.

Mack has a foot injury and will miss the game this weekend. 

Carolina Panthers (3-4) at Atlanta Falcons (3-3)

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Panthers
Starts

Tier One

Brian Burns, EDGE.

Burns led the Panthers with four total pressures, one of which was a sack. He also added three solo tackles. He now has 23 total pressures and four sacks this season.

Burns and Haason Reddick will each face both Jake Matthews and Jason Spriggs in Week 8. Matthews is playing some of his best football and will be a difficult matchup. Spriggs is replacing the injured Kaleb McGary and will present an easier challenge.

Tier Two

Jeremy Chinn, S; Haason Reddick, EDGE.

Chinn continues to play a considerable amount of snaps in the box or on the defensive line, 50 of a possible 72. His tackle volume has improved recently; 15 of his 36 total tackles have come in just the last two games this season.

Reddick has 16 total pressures, averaging a little over two pressures per game, and eight of those have been sacks. As I said last week, it’s a ratio he won’t be able to maintain.

See Burns’ notes for information on Reddick’s matchup.

Tier Three

Jermaine Carter, ILB; 

Carter played 67 total snaps. He only has 32 total tackles and is in danger of becoming someone I recommend you sit. He is at the bottom end of this tier.

Sits

Derrick Brown, IDL.

Brown led the Panthers IDL with 45 snaps and had his most productive game of the season. He had five solo tackles and three pressures, including a sack.

Chris Lindstrom remains the only player on the interior of the Falcons offensive line who is playing well. Can Brown carry over the momentum from Week 7 into this matchup? He has every chance.

Falcons
Starts

Tier One

Grady Jarrett, IDL.

I’ve been patient with Jarrett this season and threatened to drop him a tier if he didn’t produce against the woeful Dolphins offensive line last weekend.

Jarrett didn’t earn a sack, but he had a good game as a pass rusher, accumulating six total pressures. He has seven total tackles and 10 pressures in the last two games, so I’ll give him another chance to produce in Week 8.

The interior of the Panthers’ offensive line has been poor this season. Jarrett has a nice matchup.

Tier Two

Deion Jones, ILB; Foyesade Oluokun, ILB.

Both of these players are in the upper end of tier two, with Oluokun ranking slightly higher than Jones on my list.

Jones had 11 total tackles and a sack against Miami last weekend. Oluokun had 13 total tackles and an interception.

Tier Three

None.

Sits

Adetokunbo Ogundeji, EDGE; Steven Means, EDGE.

I hoped Ogundeji would step into the role vacated by Dante Fowler. He did in terms of snap share, but he generated zero pressures in Week 7.

Means plays a lot for an edge rusher who is so unproductive.

Miami Dolphins (1-6) at Buffalo Bills (4-2)

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Dolphins
Starts

Tier One

None.

Tier Two

Jerome Baker, ILB; Emmanuel Ogbah, EDGE; Christian Wilkins, IDL.

Baker had seven total tackles and four pressures last week. He now has 41 total tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and two pass breakups this season. He is listed as questionable with a knee injury but did log a limited practice on Wednesday.

Ogbah didn’t earn a sack against the Jags but did match a season-high six total pressures. He now has 27 total pressures and three sacks this season.

Ogbah will face giant rookie right tackle Spencer Brown this weekend. Brown has started the last three games at right tackle. Advantage: Ogbah in this matchup.

Wilkins had six tackles and three pressures against the Falcons. He now has 28 tackles and 12 pressures, including two sacks. He just creeps into this tier.

Bills center Mitch Morse anchors an inconsistent offensive line. It’s a mediocre matchup for Wilkins.

Tier Three

None.

Sits

Jaelan Phillips, EDGE; Jevon Holland, S; Raekwon Davis, IDL.

Phillips played only 15 snaps in Week 7. I suspect he was limited by the ankle injury that affected his ability to practice in the days before the game.

Dion Dawkins is playing more like his usual self after a poor start in Week 1. He will present a challenging matchup for Phillips.

Holland played every down against the Falcons and had four total tackles, a sack, and a pass breakup. It’s nice to see him get among the big plays, but he has just 26 total tackles this season. He is a risky start.

Davis’ worth is in his tackle floor. Unfortunately for Davis and his fantasy managers, Adam Butler continues to eat into Davis’ snaps.

Bills
Starts

Tier One

Jordan Poyer, S.

Poyer had just four total tackles and an interception in Week 6. With just 22 tackles in five games played this season, Poyer is some way behind the pace and needs to improve markedly in that category to remain a tier-one safety.

He spent 23 of his 53 snaps in the box or on the defensive line.

Tier Two

Matt Milano, ILB.

Milano hasn’t been productive enough in fantasy this season to recommend as a tier-two starting ILB. But he has finished only four games this season and barely played in a fifth. I think he can justify this position now he is healthy.

Tier Three

Tremaine Edmunds, ILB; Micah Hyde, S.

Edmunds has at least eight total tackles in each of the last two games he has played but is still averaging just six total tackles a game. He’s in the upper end of this tier.

Rousseau may lead the team in sacks, but Hughes has been the most productive Bills pass rusher. Hughes now has 18 total pressures this season.

Hyde is playing well; he just isn’t stuffing the stat sheet in the way that offers fantasy value. He has just 24 total tackles but has helped boost his value with three interceptions in his last four games. Interceptions are not a sticky stat, so I suspect Hyde’s value will diminish unless he increases his tackle volume.

Sits

Jerry Hughes, EDGE; Gregory Rousseau, EDGE.

Rousseau may lead the team in sacks, but Hughes has been the most productive Bills pass rusher. Hughes now has 18 total pressures this season.

None of the Bills edge rushers are reliable starts simply due to the heavy rotation they deploy at the edge rusher position. Four different players had between 25 and 34 total snaps in the Bills last game.

Sunday Mid-Afternoon Games

New England Patriots (3-4) at Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)

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Patriots
Starts

Tier One

Matt Judon, EDGE; Kyle Dugger, S.

Judon had a quiet outing against the Jets in Week 7. He had just one tackle and one QB hurry.

That game is an anomaly on Judon’s record this season. He has 29 total pressures, including seven sacks in the last seven games.

Judon will face a combination of Rashawn Slater and Storm Norton against the Chargers. Slater has had an impressive rookie campaign and presents a challenge for Judon, Norton has not played well, and Judon can take advantage of that matchup.

Dugger added to a productive 2021 season with eight total tackles and an interception last weekend. He now has 48 total tackles and two interceptions in seven games. He has at least eight tackles in four consecutive games.

Dugger led all Pats safeties with 55 snaps in Week 7. He spent 25 snaps in either a box role or on the defensive line.

Tier Two

None.

Tier Three

Adrian Phillips, S; Christian Barmore, IDL.

Phillips had six solo tackles against the Jets and now has 35 total tackles and an interception this season. He spent 25 of his 54 snaps in a box role or on the defensive line last weekend.

Barmore’s relatively productive rookie season continued as he led the Patriots’ IDL with 42 of a possible 66 snaps. He had three solo tackles and four total pressures, despite not recording a sack.

Barmore has 17 total pressures this season, ranking 17th at the position, but he has yet to record a sack. He has added 18 total tackles. His value as a starter is minimal, but he’s a good backup and a nice dynasty stash.

Sits

Ja’Whaun Bentley, ILB; Devin McCourty, S.

I said this of Bentley last week, “Bentley is not a [fantasy] starter as he played just 40 snaps of a possible 89. He also played just 37 of a possible 59 in Week 5. This isn’t a recipe for continued success but start him if you must in Week 7”.

Bentley went on to play 46 of a possible 66 snaps in Week 8, an improvement in snap shares on previous weeks. However, he recorded just three solo tackles.

McCourty has an interception and two pass breakups in seven games, but he averages less than four tackles per game. If you’re desperate for a starter at safety, you could do worse, but you should be able to find better.

Chargers
Starts

Tier One

Joey Bosa, EDGE; Derwin James, S.

Bosa didn’t play particularly well in his last game against the Ravens, but he came away with four total tackles, two pressures, and a sack. He now has 26 total pressures and four sacks in six games played.

Bosa will probably face Michael Onwenu in Week 8. Onwenu has allowed just three total pressures in the two games he has been starting at right tackle. As versatile as Onwenu has proven to be, Bosa has the advantage here.

James led the Chargers with eight total tackles in Week 6. He forced a fumble and added a QB hit. He spent 26 of his 65 snaps either in a box role or on the defensive line.

James has 46 tackles in 2021, two sacks, two forced fumbles, an interception, and a pass breakup. And he has achieved this in just six games.

Tier Two

Kyzir White, ILB.

White’s value is in a state of flux. On the one hand, he could see a drop in value if Drue Tranquil can return. On the other hand, his value could improve if the rumors of a Kenneth Murray trade come to fruition. I’ll leave White here for now but monitor this situation.

In the Chargers’ last game, White played 65 of a possible 69 snaps and had seven total tackles, two interceptions, and added a QB hit and three QB hurries too.

Tier Three

Jerry Tillery, IDL; Linval Joseph, IDL.

Tillery didn’t record a sack but did join White in leading the Chargers with four total pressures. Tillery played 61 of a possible 69 snaps.

Joseph led the Chargers IDL with 45 snaps. He recorded three total tackles and two pressures, including a sack. He has 25 total tackles, 10 pressures, including a sack in six games. At 33 years old, Joseph’s 2021 PFF pass-rush grade is currently the best of his career.

Sits

Drue Tranquill, ILB (injury); Nasir Adderley, S.

If Tranquil and Adderley return this week, I recommend both as tier three starters. Monitor their status carefully. It sounds like they have a good chance to play:

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) at Seattle Seahawks (2-4)

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Jaguars
Starts

Tier One

None.

Tier Two

Josh Allen, EDGE; Rayshawn Jenkins, S.

Allen didn’t register a sack in the Jags last game, but he and Dawuane Smoot led the Jags in total pressure with six each. Allen did have his second consecutive game with seven total tackles.

He will face left tackle Duane Brown this weekend. Brown played very well in the first two games of the season but has since surrendered five sacks in the last five games. To put that into context, he allowed just four sacks in the whole of 2019 and 2020 combined.

Jenkins played every down against the Dolphins and led the Jags with 10 total tackles. He added a pass breakup and a QB hit for good measure.

Jenkins now has 37 total tackles in six games. If he could add some big plays, it would help boost what is already a solid weekly fantasy floor.

Tier Three

Dawuane Smoot, EDGE; Damien Wilson, ILB; Myles Jack, ILB; Andrew Wingard, S.

Smoot would arguably belong in the tier above if the edge spot weren’t so deep. He co-led the Seahawks with six pressures against Miami in Week 6 and has 24 total pressures and two sacks this season. However, he offers very little by way of tackle numbers – he has just eight total tackles in six weeks.

Smoot faces Brandon Shell. Shell started the season reasonably well but has since deteriorated a little, allowing nine total pressures and a sack in the last three games. Smoot could have a decent game.

Wilson earned playcalling duties a few weeks ago. He made eight total tackles in Week 6 and now has 41 tackles in six games.

Jack missed Week 6 with a back injury. He also lost playcalling duties to Damien Wilson, as I’ve mentioned above. He has 37 total tackles in the five games he has started, but he didn’t finish the Week 5 game.

Mack returned to practice on Wednesday.

Wingard plays deep a lot. He spent over 73% of his time in a free safety alignment. But he has recorded at least five tackles in every game this season and now has 37 tackles, a sack, and an interception in six games.

Sits

K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE.

Chaisson played just 21 snaps against the Dolphins in Week 6.

Seahawks
Starts

Tier One

Bobby Wagner, ILB.

Wagner is the glue that holds this flawed Seahawks defense together. He led the Seahawks with eight total tackles, and two QB hurries in Week 7 and now has 78 total tackles and a sack through seven games.

Tier Two

Jamal Adams, S; Jordyn Brooks, ILB.

Adams played every down and recorded three total tackles, missed one tackle attempt, and added two QB hurries. He spent 30 of his 74 snaps in the box or on the defensive line.

He continues to look like a shadow of the player we saw in 2020.

Brooks had five total tackles and a pass breakup in Week 7. He now has 59 total tackles, a sack, and a pass breakup this season.

Brooks has shown some improvement in recent weeks. He missed four tackles in the first two games of the season but has missed just one tackle in the five games since. 

Tier Three

Quandre Diggs, S; Darrell Taylor, EDGE.

Diggs added five solo tackles in Week 7 and now has 40 tackles this season. He continues to play deep a lot; he spent 60 of his 73 snaps as a free safety in Week 7.

Diggs has no big plays this season – a point his fantasy managers won’t have missed. They will come – he has 16 interceptions and 14 pass breakups in the last five years.

Taylor was a full participant in practice this week. He has 14 total pressures in six games and four sacks but is a risky play for two reasons. He’s been very efficient in converting pressures into sacks, and that level of efficiency would be tough to maintain. He also doesn’t play enough snaps to be considered a reliable fantasy starter.

Sits

Washington Football Team (2-5) at Denver Broncos 2 (3-4)

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Washington
Starts

Tier One

Montez Sweat, EDGE; Jonathan Allen, IDL; Daron Payne, IDL.

Sweat had a tackle, four pressures, including a sack, and he forced a fumble in Week 7. He now has 23 total pressures, four sacks, and two forced fumbles this season.

Sweat will go up against a lot of Garrett Bolles this weekend. Bolles has played well at times but is allowing more sacks than usual. He’s surrendered five sacks in seven games this season, which is more than he allowed in the whole of 2019 and 2020 combined.

Allen continued his extremely impressive campaign with two sacks against the Packers. He has 28 total pressures and five sacks this season. He has added 20 total tackles.

Payne hasn’t been quite as good as Allen but is still performing well for an IDL. He has 24 total pressures but only one sack. He has added 24 total tackles.

The three players on the interior of the Broncos offensive line have been porous in pass protection. They have allowed 34 total pressures and five sacks in 17 games started. Allen and Payne have a good matchup here.

Tier Two

Chase Young, EDGE; Kamren Curl, S; Cole Holcomb, ILB.

Young showed some flashes of the player we expected in recent weeks; he had a sack in consecutive games in Weeks 5 and 6 and recorded the second-highest PFF pass-rushing grade of his career against the Saints.

However, this doesn’t hide the fact that he has been a big disappointment this season. Despite some excellent weekly matchups, he has only 22 pressures and two sacks on 262 pass-rush attempts.

Young has one of the best matchups of the week. Broncos’ right tackle Bobby Massie has allowed 23 total pressures, including five sacks this season.

Curl played every down and earned six total tackles, increasing his total to 38 this season. He spent 21 of his 56 snaps in a box role or on the defensive line.

Holcomb also played every down and earned seven total tackles. He now has an impressive 73 tackles this season and has added a sack and two forced fumbles. If Holcomb’s role remains unimpeded by the rise of Jamin Davis in Week 8, then I’ll probably need to move Holcomb into tier-one going forward.

Tier Three

Landon Collins, S; Jamin Davis, ILB.

Collins played a worryingly low 24 of a possible 56 snaps against the Packers. Some of this may have been due to the game script and the need for players more adept in coverage than Collins.

Head coach Ron Rivera liked what he saw of Collins in this capacity “I loved his role, that’s what I believe the young man does and does well. You saw him run through the line a couple [of] times and make plays at or behind the line of scrimmage.

River added, “that’s kind of where we see him.”

It sounds like this may be the plan going forward and is one we will need to monitor carefully.

Collins played 16 of his 24 snaps in either a box role or on the defensive line. He still led Washington with seven solo tackles.

Davis was the primary beneficiary of the reduction in snaps for Collins. Davis played all but one defensive down and earned five solo tackles.

Sits

Bobby McCain, S.

McCain remains Washington’s every-down deep safety. He is a steady performer but isn’t a reliable fantasy contributor.

McCain has 30 total tackles, an interception, and two pass breakups this season.

Broncos
Starts

Tier One

Von Miller, EDGE.

Miller left the Browns game on Thursday night football with an ankle injury and therefore played just 33 snaps. Before the injury, he recorded two total tackles and three pressures. It was a disappointing performance by his own admission, especially after he had been quite vocal in the game’s build-up.

Miller is day-to-day with the ankle injury. Head coach Vic Fangio “Honestly, if we had to list a category today, he’d be questionable.”

If Miller plays, he’ll face Cornelius Lucas in Week 8. Lucas played well in Weeks 4 – 6 but had a poor game against the Packers in Week 7, allowing five total pressures.

Tier Two

None.

Tier Three

Justin Simmons, S; Malik Reed, EDGE; Kareem Jackson, S; Justin Strnad, ILB; Shelby Harris, IDL; Dre’Mont Jones, IDL.

This is a mammoth list of players in tier three and demonstrates the strength in depth that the Broncos have on defense.

There is already a fair amount of pressure on Malik Reed to produce in the absence of Bradley Chubb. That pressure will intensify if Miller has to miss any time. Reed has 15 total pressures, two sacks, and 17 total tackles this season.

Washington left tackle Charles Leno Jr. has generally played well at times but has also had a couple of poor games.

Strnad had six total tackles last weekend but has generally been underwhelming since taking over from Josey Jewell.

Harris and Jones both had good games last weekend. Harris had three tackles and a sack, and Jones led the team with five total pressures.

Sits

Jonathon Cooper, EDGE.

Cooper ably replaced Miller last weekend. He played just 40 of a possible 71 snaps but joined Dre’Mont Jones in leading the team with five total pressures.

Jones had three QB hits and two QB hurries and added five tackles. His PFF pass-rush grade of 90.1 in the game was extremely impressive.

If Miller misses this weekend, it will be interesting to see whether Cooper’s game was a fluke or not.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-1) at New Orleans Saints (3-2)

Bucs
Starts

Tier One

Devin White, ILB; Shaq Barrett, EDGE; Lavonte David, ILB.

White played 58 of 66 snaps and led the Bucs with 11 total tackles against the Bears. He did miss an opportunity for more as he missed three tackle attempts, increasing his missed tackles to 10 this season. White added a QB hit and a hurry.

Predictably, Barrett led the Bucs in total pressures. He recorded a sack, three QB hurries, and added a forced fumble.

Left tackle Terron Armstead will face a tough challenge for Barrett.

Arians didn’t give too much away regarding David’s status, “Lavonte could be ready to go,” he told reporters on Monday. David has logged a limited practice and is questionable. If he does return, start him.

Tier Two

Jason Pierre-Paul, EDGE.

I probably made a mistake in dropping JPP as far as tier three last week. He hadn’t done much this season, and I posited whether we had seen his best. He made that suggestion look entirely wrong with his performance in Week 7, recording two sacks and earning a PFF pass-rush grade of 91.6 – the highest of his entire career.

Ryan Ramczyk is usually a solid tackle but has been inconsistent, allowing 19 pressures and two sacks this season. If JPP can carry over some of that form from Week 7, Ramczyk could be in trouble.

Monitor JPP’s availability carefully. He has been nursing injuries of late and missed a practice this week.

Tier Three

Antoine Winfield, S.

Winfield only had three total tackles and missed two more tackle opportunities, but he rescued his day with a sack and a forced fumble.

Winfield’s fantasy managers were probably hoping for more than 27 tackles in five games. It isn’t likely to improve dramatically. Winfield has just 24 snaps in the box or on the defensive line in his last three games.

Sits

Vita Vea, IDL; Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, EDGE; Kevin Minter, ILB.

Tryon-Shoyinka is an excellent dynasty stash but doesn’t play enough when both Barrett and JPP are healthy.

Minter returns to the bench if David plays this weekend. If David cannot go, Minter remains a recommended tier-three starter at ILB.

Saints
Starts

Tier One

Demario Davis, ILB.

Davis had seven total tackles, two sacks, and a pass breakup against the Seahawks. He’s an excellent fantasy ILB.

Tier Two

Cameron Jordan, EDGE.

After 24 total pressures this season, Cam Jordan finally recorded his first sack of the season in Week 7. He also added four total tackles.

Jordan faces Tristan Wirfs this weekend. Wirfs is having an excellent season and poses a tough matchup for Jordan.

Tier Three

Malcolm Jenkins, S; Pete Werner, ILB.

Werner was one of the stars of Week 6, and he retained a prominent role in Week 7 as he played 40 of a possible 56 snaps. He played well and earned seven total tackles.

If Werner continues to play this much, he will make a push to become a tier-two starting ILB in fantasy.

Sits

Kwon Alexander, ILB.

Alexander played only 16 snaps in Week 7.

Sunday Night Football

Dallas Cowboys (5-1) at Minnesota Vikings (3-3)

Cowboys
Starts

Tier One

Micah Parsons, ILB/EDGE.

Parsons played every down in the Cowboys’ last game. He had a quiet game, managing only four solo tackles and a hurry.

Tier Two

Osa Odighizuwa, IDL; Randy Gregory, EDGE; Jayron Kearse, S.

Gregory led the Cowboys with three pressures, including two sacks in Week 6. He also added a forced fumble. He has earned a PFF grade above 90 in each of his last two games.

Gregory faces rookie left tackle Christian Darrisaw in Week 8. Darrisaw has allowed only one pressure in two games, but Gregory is in red-hot form.

Tier Three

None.

Sits

Leighton Vander Esch, ILB; Keanu Neal, ILB.

LVE And Neal kill each other’s fantasy value. LVE played 27 of a possible 53 snaps, and Neal played 31. Neither player will be consistently productive while playing so few snaps.

Vikings
Starts

Tier One

Danielle Hunter, EDGE; Eric Kendricks, ILB; Harrison Smith, S.

Hunter had four pressures but did not manage a sack against the Panthers. He did add six total tackles to help his fantasy managers.

He has 31 total pressures and six sacks this season and remains a must-start edge rusher.

Hunter faces Terence Steele in Week 8. Steele started poorly in Week 2 but has since improved. He has allowed only eight pressures and zero sacks in five games this season.

Kendricks had four solo tackles, a sack, and a pass breakup. He remains one of the best ILBs in the NFL and fantasy.

Tier Two

Everson Griffen, EDGE.

Griffen didn’t record a sack in Week 6, but this was his first game without a sack since Week 1 (he missed Week 2). He still led the Vikings with five total pressures and now has 21 pressures and four sacks this season.

Griffen has one of the most challenging matchups of the week; he’s going up against Tyron Smith. Smith has allowed only five pressures and one sack all season.

Tier Three

Anthony Barr, ILB; Xavier Woods, S.

Barr played every down and managed just one tackle and a pass breakup. He rescued his day with a sack, but given how unreliable sack numbers are for most players at the ILB spot, I’d like to see his tackle volume improve.

Sits

Nobody you were considering starting.

Monday Night Football

New York Giants (2-5) at Kansas City Chiefs 2 (3-4)

Embed from Getty Images
Giants
Starts

Tier One

Leonard Williams, IDL.

Williams continued his impressive 2021 campaign, adding two total tackles and six pressures, including two sacks against the Panthers.

Except for Trey Smith, the interior of the Chiefs’ offensive line has been stingy this season. It’s not the easiest matchup for Williams.

Tier Two

Azeez Ojulari, EDGE; Dexter Lawrence, IDL; Logan Ryan, S; Tae Crowder, ILB.

Ojulari had a great game in Week 7. The rookie had eight total pressures, including three sacks. He also added two tackles.

Ojulari has 18 total pressures and six sacks this season. It’s an impressive start to his career.

Orlando Brown is usually a solid tackle but allowed two sacks last week against the Titans and has surrendered 22 pressures this season. Mike Remmers has allowed five pressures and a sack since starting in Week 6. Ojulari could take advantage of a pair of Chiefs tackles who are not in great form.

Lawrence had two tackles, four pressures, including a sack last weekend. He now has 20 tackles, 18 total pressures, and two sacks this season.

Crowder missed the game with a thigh injury last weekend. If he can play this weekend, he will be a low-end tier two starting ILB in fantasy. Monitor his status.

Tier Three

None.

Sits

Xavier McKinney, S.

McKinney averages just over four tackles per game. He has added two interceptions, but I don’t like to rely on interceptions in fantasy, given how unpredictable they are.

Chiefs
Starts

Tier One

None.

Tier Two

Nick Bolton, ILB; Chris Jones, EDGE; Tyrann Mathieu, S.

Bolton is a tackling machine. He played 57 of a possible 68 snaps in Week 7 and led the Chiefs with 14 total tackles. He now has 55 total tackles this season.

If Bolton plays ahead of Anthony Hitchens when Hitchens returns from injury, Bolton will probably become a low-end tier one starting ILB. He may have his deficiencies in coverage, but that almost doesn’t matter for fantasy purposes if he can retain a prominent role on the Chiefs defense.

Hitchens is out for this game with a tricep injury.

Tier Three

Ben Niemann, ILB; Frank Clark, EDGE; Juan Thornhill, S.

Thornhill played 65 of a possible 68 snaps and was second on the Chiefs defense with 10 total tackles in Week 7. These developments are encouraging as he replaced Daniel Sorensen as the Chiefs second safety in Week 6.

Sits

Willie Gay, ILB.

Gay had 46 snaps in Week 7 and recorded three tackles and a QB hurry. I’d like him to keep a prominent role on this defense, but I’m not confident he can.

Final Reminder

Please remember to check inactive players before submitting your final lineups on Thursdays, Sundays, and Mondays. Players can and will suddenly become inactive at the last moment.

This NFL Week 8 Start/Sit IDP article was published days before kick-off. I will try to keep it updated with injury news if it affects start/sit recommendations. I will update it at least three times, once before the Thursday night game, once before the early games on Sunday, and again before the mid-afternoon games.

Please check the IDPGuys IDP Injury Report article from @FF_Skinnychef for the latest injury news.


Thanks for taking the time to read my NFL Week 8 Start/Sit IDP article! I hope you find it helpful. You can find more of my work here at IDPguys.org, and you can follow me on Twitter @FFIDP_Jase. I will do my best to be available for questions or feedback. My DMs are always open.

For start/sit advice for players on offense, please check out the article here from the IDPGuys @FantasyLadder.

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