Week 8 Preview and an Ode to The Bye Week

Saturday, Oct 28, 2023 at 9:29 am ET

Week 8 is a reprieve on byes, but four of the next five weeks have at least four teams sitting out (Week 12 has no teams off). There are a lot of players listed below; enjoy this time with your stars before they sporadically miss games in mass numbers.

With those byes coming, though, it's good to refresh some of the best ways to fill the holes on your roster. Finding the best talent to plug in makes sense, but I prefer looking for the best matchups. Many people would say Baker Mayfield is a better quarterback than Tyrod Taylor, but Taylor had a much better matchup in Week 7 (facing the Commanders while Mayfield played the Falcons) and scored 5.5 points more than Mayfield.

As we preview Week 8, I will point out players who might not make your lineup this week but would be great bye week fill-ins and explain why they stand out.

Any player not listed is either somewhere in the middle or not fantasy relevant this week. Always be sure to check the weekly rankings to compare individual players.

No Explanation Needed

These are weekly starters who are expected to do their thing.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Projected Points (Rank)
Lamar Jackson, BAL Arizona Cardinals 27th 22.9 (2nd)
Tua Tagovailoa, MIA New England Patriots 9th 19.3 (6th)
Jalen Hurts, PHI Washington Commanders 31st 22.8 (3rd)
Patrick Mahomes, KC Denver Broncos 30th 24.0 (1st)
Justin Herbert, LAC Chicago Bears 26th 20.6 (5th)
  • Tua has played the Patriots four times since 2021 and hasn't finished in the top 20 in QB scoring any of those weeks. He did manage a 15th-place finish near the end of his rookie year, but this is a trend, and the Patriots are tough on defense again this year. Don't be surprised if Tua finishes outside the top 12 in Week 8.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Standard Projected Pts (Rank) PPR Projected Pts (Rank)
Isiah Pacheco, KC Denver Broncos 32nd 13.2 (11th) 15.7 (11th)
Jahmyr Gibbs, DET Las Vegas Raiders 27th 14.0 (T-4th) 18.1 (4th)
Alvin Kamara, NO Indianapolis Colts 29th 13.7 (6th) 19.1 (2nd)
Travis Etienne, JAC Pittsburgh Steelers 25th 14.7 (2nd) 17.6 (5th)
Derrick Henry, TEN Atlanta Falcons 4th 11.3 (16th) 12.8 (20th)
Bijan Robinson, ATL Tennessee Titans 14th 12.4 (13th) 15.9 (10th)
D'Andre Swift, PHI Washington Commanders 15th 12.5 (12th) 15.6 (T-12th)
Joe Mixon, CIN San Francisco 49ers 8th 10.9 (18th) 13.5 (16th)
Raheem Mostert, MIA New England Patriots 18th 13.6 (T-7th) 16.1 (T-8th)
Saquon Barkley, NYG New York Jets 21st 13.4 (9th) 16.6 (7th)
Tony Pollard, DAL Los Angeles Rams 13th 14.0 (T-4th) 17.5 (6th)
Kenneth Walker, SEA Cleveland Browns 12th 13.3 (10th) 15.2 (14th)
Christian McCaffrey, SF Cincinnati Bengals 17th 17.8 (1st) 21.6 (1st)
  • I will give Gibbs this spot while David Montgomery is out, especially against the Raiders. If Montgomery plays, he would be the guy to start, and Gibbs would be a flex player. Gibbs gained 126 total yards and scored a touchdown as the lead back last week.
  • Henry and Mixon face tough defenses; I almost moved them to the group of players to consider benching. They both regularly lead their respective backfield, though, and their volume keeps them here.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Standard Projected Pts (Rank) PPR Projected Pts (Rank)
A.J. Brown, PHI Washington Commanders 29th 14.2 (2nd) 18.7 (T-6th)
DeVonta Smith, PHI Washington Commanders 29th 9.5 (T-25th) 13.0 (28th)
CeeDee Lamb, DAL Los Angeles Rams 5th 11.9 (9th) 16.3 (9th)
Cooper Kupp, LAR Dallas Cowboys 6th 13.7 (T-5th) 18.9 (5th)
Puka Nacua, LAR Dallas Cowboys 6th 11.2 (10th) 15.6 (11th)
Jordan Addison, MIN Green Bay Packers 9th 10.6 (14th) 14.5 (T-14th)
Amon-Ra St. Brown, DET Las Vegas Raiders 10th 13.1 (7th) 18.7 (T-6th)
Davante Adams, LV Detroit Lions 19th 12.2 (8th) 16.9 (8th)
Jakobi Meyers, LV Detroit Lions 19th 9.7 (22nd) 13.9 (T-19th)
Tyreek Hill, MIA New England Patriots 13th 16.6 (1st) 22.3 (1st)
Chris Olave, NO Indianapolis Colts 15th 10.0 (20th) 14.1 (T-16th)
Ja'Marr Chase, CIN San Francisco 49ers 16th 14.0 (T-3rd) 19.4 (T-3rd)
Brandon Aiyuk, SF Cincinnati Bengals 17th 10.2 (T-17th) 13.7 (T-21st)
Keenan Allen, LAC Chicago Bears 18th 13.7 (T-5th) 19.4 (T-3rd)
Adam Thielen, CAR Houston Texans 4th 11.1 (11th) 16.1 (10th)
  • Smith has struggled to make a huge impact as Brown has gone crazy, but everyone gets to eat against the Commanders' pass defense. Both have top-10 potential (Brown might fight for the top overall spot after finishing second to Addison last week).
  • Lamb, Kupp, and Nacua might get locked into a defensive battle, but I'm not benching any of the three.
  • Jaylen Waddle has performed like a decent WR2 rather than the borderline-WR1 he was drafted as, and he should have that same kind of performance behind Hill against a good Patriots defense.
  • Chase is doing his thing, but Tee Higgins has one good game while sitting around four PPR points most weeks otherwise. San Francisco is league-average against receivers in terms of fantasy points, but they are a better defense than that, and Higgins is a WR3 to me (at best).
  • Thielen has worked his way to weekly starter status, ranking 7th among receivers in both Standard and PPR. He faces a really good Texans defense, but Thielen has been productive against everyone.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Standard Projected Pts (Rank) PPR Projected Pts (Rank)
Travis Kelce, KC Denver Broncos 30th 14.7 (1st) 22.1 (1st)
Darren Waller, NYG New York Jets 32nd 7.8 (6th) 11.9 (7th)
Mark Andrews, BAL Arizona Cardinals 4th 11.4 (2nd) 16.5 (2nd)
T.J. Hockenson, MIN Green Bay Packers 11th 9.6 (3rd) 15.4 (3rd)
Sam LaPorta, DET Las Vegas Raiders 14th 8.6 (4th) 13.2 (4th)


These are mid-to-low level players who are worth looking at this week. This is the tier where you will find most of your bye week fill-ins.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Projected Points (Rank)
Kenny Pickett, PIT Jacksonville Jaguars 29th 13.7 (25th)
Tyson Bagent, CHI Los Angeles Chargers 32nd 13.1 (29th)
Mac Jones, NE Miami Dolphins 28th 13.4 (26th)
  • Bagent was functional in his first NFL start last week. The Chargers allow the most passing yards per game, and it's not even close: their 310 yards allowed per game are over 35 more than second-place Jacksonville (273.9), and there's another large drop to third-place Denver (257.4) before it evens out. Bagent is a legit fantasy starter this week while Justin Fields recovers from injury.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Standard Projected Pts (Rank) PPR ProjectedPts (Rank)
Gus Edwards, BAL Arizona Cardinals 30th 9.8 (T-22nd) 10.5 (T-27th)
Dameon Pierce, HOU Carolina Panthers 31st 9.9 (T-20th) 11.3 (24th)
Alexander Mattison, MIN Green Bay Packers 28th 8.4 (T-29th) 10.6 (T-25th)
Breece Hall, NYJ New York Giants 26th 13.6 (T-7th) 16.1 (T-8th)
Austin Ekeler, LAC Chicago Bears 24th 14.5 (3rd) 18.7 (3rd)
  • Devin Singletary had 13 touches in Week 6 before Houston's bye, the same number as Pierce. Pierce has been terribly inefficient, and he hasn't given Houston any reason to keep Singletary on ice. They have a great matchup against the Panthers; both players are worth considering for your flex, but it's hard to know who will get the most work.
  • Ekeler has been mediocre in two games since returning from a high ankle sprain. Joshua Kelley will continue getting touches (75 yards and a touchdown last week). This is a good matchup against the Bears, but we haven't seen Ekeler look like himself yet. Maybe this is the week he returns to form.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Standard Projected Pts (Rank) PPR Projected Pts (Rank)
D.J. Moore, CHI Los Angeles Chargers 32nd 10.7 (13th) 14.5 (T-14th)
Terry McLaurin, WAS Philadelphia Eagles 30th 9.6 (T-23rd) 13.4 (23rd)
Christian Kirk, JAC Pittsburgh Steelers 31st 10.1 (19th) 14.1 (T-16th)
Amari Cooper, CLE Seattle Seahawks 28th 8.7 (34th) 12.1 (35th)
Zay Flowers, BAL Arizona Cardinals 27th 10.5 (15th) 14.7 (13th)
Christian Watson, GB Minnesota Vikings 26th 7.9 (T-41st) 11.1 (T-40th)
Kendrick Bourne, NE Miami Dolphins 25th 7.9 (T-41st) 11.1 (T-40th)
George Pickens, PIT Jacksonville Jaguars 23rd 9.8 (21st) 13.3 (T-24th)
Diontae Johnson, PIT Jacksonville Jaguars 23rd 7.9 (T-41st) 11.5 (37th)
Drake London, ATL Tennessee Titans 24th 9.0 (T-31st) 12.5 (T-31st)
  • Kirk has outplayed teammate Calvin Ridley this season, but they are both starting options against a Pittsburgh team that has allowed receivers to run wild.
  • Deshaun Watson will miss Week 8. Watson hasn't been very good, but Cooper's floor is still lowered with P.J. Walker starting. The matchup is right for Cooper to have a good day, though.
  • This group is a fantastic example for how to handle bye weeks and fill holes. With everyone playing, most owners aren't going to play guys like Cooper, with a hurt QB, or Bourne, who is in a struggling offense. In Week 10, however, Kupp, Nacua, Hill, Waddle, Brown, and Smith will all be on bye, and owners will be scrambling to find the best substitutes. In that case, a guy like Moore against the bottom-ranked Chargers is a fantasy star; Kirk and Flowers, who catch the ball more often than most listed here, would be near locks for the top 20, especially in PPR.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Standard Projected Pts (Rank) PPR Projected Pts (Rank)
Michael Mayer, LV Detroit Lions 31st 4.9 (T-20th) 7.7 (20th)
George Kittle, SF Cincinnati Bengals 28th 7.4 (T-8th) 10.8 (9th)
Jake Ferguson, DAL Los Angeles Rams 27th 6.1 (12th) 9.4 (12th)
Tyler Higbee, LAR Dallas Cowboys 26th 4.9 (T-20th) 7.8 (19th)
Hunter Henry, NE Miami Dolphins 25th 5.2 (17th) 7.9 (18th)
Dallas Goedert, PHI Washington Commanders 24th 7.9 (5th) 12.0 (6th)
  • Henry had 52 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins in Week 2 and has been anonymous since. I don't trust him, but he has a good matchup.
  • The same idea from the last receiver point applies here: guys like Mayer and Ferguson would be must-start players with these matchups in Week 13 when Andrews, Dalton Kincaid, Waller, Hockenson, and Cole Kmet are on bye. (Mayer is also on bye, but I'm focusing on this week's matchup with Detroit.) You can get ahead of your player's bye on Saturday or Sunday morning after you have made your lineup decisions but before players hit waivers.
  • An example for the previous point: LaPorta and Evan Engram have their bye next week. Most owners probably don't carry a backup for them and need a replacement. The Chargers play the Jets in Week 9, and they are giving up the most fantasy points per game to tight ends. Gerald Everett is probably a free agent in your league. Pick him up this week before he goes on waivers so you don't have to fight with other owners next Wednesday.


These players have tough matchups, lack of volume, or something else holding them back this week.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Projected Points (Rank)
Geno Smith, SEA Cleveland Browns 7th 14.9 (T-17th)
Russell Wilson, DEN Kansas City Chiefs 5th 15.3 (15th)
Joe Burrow, CIN San Francisco 49ers 3rd 16.9 (10th)
Kirk Cousins, MIN Green Bay Packers 8th 16.6 (12th)
Joshua Dobbs, ARI Baltimore Ravens 1st 13.8 (T-23rd)
Brock Purdy, SF Cincinnati Bengals 10th N/A
Matthew Stafford, LAR Dallas Cowboys 4th 15.4 (14th)
Gardner Minshew, IND New Orleans Saints 6th 13.8 (T-23rd)
  • Purdy is in concussion protocol and may miss Week 8. The San Francisco skill players all take a small hit in fantasy if he is out.
  • A few of these guys will probably finish in the top 12, but these are a lot of tough defenses. This would be a tough week to fill a quarterback bye, like Week 10 when Mahomes, Hurts, and Tagovailoa will all be off. Guys like Wilson, Stafford, and Smith are matchup-dependent players who would be tough to start with their respective matchup. With so many tough games, owners would be pressed to find a suitable replacement. Only three quarterbacks are in the "Start-Worthy" group, meaning matchups aren't in favor of the QBs in Week 8.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Standard Projected Pts (Rank) PPR Projected Pts (Rank)
Josh Jacobs, LV Detroit Lions 3rd 12.3 (14th) 15.6 (T-12th)
Jonathan Taylor, IND New Orleans Saints 2nd 12.1 (15th) 14.7 (15th)
Brian Robinson, WAS Philadelphia Eagles 1st 7.7 (33rd) 9.0 (36th)
Najee Harris, PIT Jacksonville Jaguars 5th 8.9 (27th) 10.6 (T-25th)
Javonte Williams, DEN Kansas City Chiefs 6th 9.7 (24th) 12.1 (22nd)
Darrell Henderson, LAR Dallas Cowboys 9th 8.4 (T-29th) 10.0 (31st)
  • Jacobs is generally a weekly starter, but the Lions have allowed the second-least rushing yards per game. Most will start Jacobs, but it's worth seeing if you have a reasonable backup plan.
  • Taylor had his first good game since returning in Week 5, but now he matchups up with a tough Saints defense. He and Zack Moss were productive against Cleveland in Week 7, but these backs will be splitting time against a vicious run D in Week 8.
  • I love Robinson, but he's a must-sit player against the Eagles this week.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Standard Projected Pts (Rank) PPR Projected Pts (Rank)
Marquise Brown, ARI Baltimore Ravens 3rd 8.4 (T-37th) 12.2 (35th)
DeAndre Hopkins, TEN Atlanta Falcons 7th 8.6 (35th) 12.6 (31st)
Jerry Jeudy, DEN Kansas City Chiefs 8th 7.6 (T-46th) 10.6 (T-46th)
Courtland Sutton, DEN Kansas City Chiefs 8th 8.2 (39th) 11.2 (40th)
DK Metcalf, SEA Cleveland Browns 2nd 9.4 (T-27th) 12.9 (29th)


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Standard Projected Pts (Rank) PPR Projected Pts (Rank)
Trey McBride, ARI Baltimore Ravens 1st 5.7 (14th) 9.2 (13th)
Evan Engram, JAC Pittsburgh Steelers 3rd 7.5 (7th) 12.3 (5th)
David Njoku, CLE Seattle Seahawks 5th 5.3 (16th) 8.5 (T-15th)
Kyle Pitts, ATL Tennessee Titans 8th 6.8 (10th) 10.3 (11th)
Jonnu Smith, ATL Tennessee Titans 8th 5.1 (18th) 8.1 (17th)
  • McBride has out-produced Zach Ertz over the last three weeks, and he is in line to be THE guy with Ertz on IR. Don't count on McBride this week against Baltimore, though.
  • Engram is likely to have a game like he did in Week 7: five catches for 45 yards. That's fine, and it's a nice PPR number, but Engram has been consistently mediocre more than a top option.

Join the Discussion

cyberagent CommentedOct 28, 2023 4:08 pm

I read your stuff every week. This might sound weird, but I have a trade offer for Austin Ekeler. The guy wants to give me Raheem Mostert. I am actually considering this because Ekeler has been hurt and when he plays he's just not getting me the kind of points that I thought he would when I drafted him. Mostert has been really solid. Do I do this trade or should I hold onto Ekeler because he's going to turn things around? Thank you.

Daniel Hepner CommentedOct 28, 2023 6:29 pm

Ekeler should continue looking better, and I do agree with the point below from Drummer about Miami having a committee most of the time. I don't totally hate the idea: Ekeler has struggled hard while Mostert continues to produce.

I can see both sides of it, and if you're feeling it, I wouldn't hate the deal. Was there more involved or just the two players?

drummer CommentedOct 28, 2023 5:51 pm

Hold on to Ekeler. Miami is going to have rb by committee when they all are healthy. Ekeler is bellcow if he stays healthy

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