Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 8 wide receivers

Rumors of Amari Cooper’s demise proved highly exaggerated in Week 7, but is that enough for me to start ‘em this week?

Amari Cooper exploded for 210 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Week 7, finishing with more than twice as many points as the next closest fantasy wide receiver. Derek Carr fed him early and often, with Cooper catching 11 of 19 targets on the night. But did you notice when Carr did not throw to Cooper? At the end of the game when the craziness of penalty flags was raining down, and the Raiders got all their do-overs. 

Perhaps it was because Cooper is not completely over his early season issues. His night could have been much bigger had he not dropped several passes. In crunch time, Carr’s trust was still in Michael Crabtree and Jared Cook to catch a red zone pass. The other thing that worries me is that Cooper’s first touchdown could easily have been offensive pass interference. The defender fell at the receiver’s feet and it sure looked like Cooper extended an arm to help that happen. What would have happened if Cooper’s night started off with the penalty negating his touchdown? 

You have to start Cooper after a game like that, but don’t be surprised if a tough Buffalo defense hands him a setback in Week 8. Here are a few more start ‘ems and sit ‘ems for the weekend: 

Start this guy: Michael Crabtree, OAK at BUF 

In case you didn’t catch my trepidation about starting Amari Cooper, let me make my point another way here. Against a solid Buffalo defense, Carr will need his receivers to come down with some contested balls and not waste any open passes. That will direct him to Michael Crabtree. Crabtree had a quiet game until his game-winning catch last week. This week, he is the primary receiver for Oakland and goes home with another touchdown and 90 yards. 

Sit this guy: Dez Bryant DAL at WAS

Washington gives up the fourth-fewest NFL fantasy points per game to wide receivers. For the most part, they achieved that level without Josh Norman in the lineup. Norman may or may not be back on time to face the Cowboys. He says he is ready, but the medical staff did not clear him for the Monday night game against Philadelphia. Ezekiel Elliott will play, which could limit opportunities throughout the passing game, too. Given the Redskins’ prowess and especially if Norman is on the field, I am saying “sit ‘em” about Dez Bryant. 

Start this guy: Bennie Fowler III DEN at KC 

This is just a hunch, but I bet that Denver’s coaching staff comes up with some way to help Trevor Siemian regain his confidence behind center this week. One thing will be to schedule the Kansas City Chiefs, who give up the most wide receiver fantasy points (and third-most quarterback points) and invite him to throw away. Demaryius Thomas is a no-brainer start ‘em, but Bennie Fowler will also see plenty of targets and catches come Monday Night Football. Fowler caught four of five targets against the Chargers to lead Bronco wide receivers. Expect the same next week and start ‘em. 

Sit this guy: DeAndre Hopkins, HOU at SEA 

Seattle is a top-five NFL fantasy defense against wide receivers overall. At home, they are better. Look for them to harass Deshaun Watson all day as the Legion of Boom smothers DeAndre Hopkins. It’s a temporary setback for the Texans’ revitalized offense, but it’s still a setback. Sit Hopkins this week.

Start this guy: Mohamed Sanu, ATL at NYJ

Julio Jones is an automatic must-start against the Jets, but so is a healthy Mohamed Sanu. The Jets have two exciting young safeties who are developing rapidly. What they don’t have is exciting young cornerbacks. Miami’s Matt Moore exposed that fact last week, with completions or penalties on practically every fourth-quarter toss. Matt Ryan will refuse to let the Falcons get swept by the AFC East teams and come out firing to Jones, Sanu, and maybe even Austin Hooper. If Josh McCown is on his game, this could be a fun game to watch. But most importantly, there are plenty of NFL fantasy points for Sanu and Jones. 

Sit this guy: Adam Thielen, MIN vs CLE 

Here’s a secret for you. The Cleveland Browns are a top ten fantasy defense against wide receivers. Their overall defense is not bad in real life. Just ask Marcus Mariota and the Titans who were held without a touchdown last week. If Stefon Diggs plays in Week 8, you can sit him instead. But Adam Thielen sits either way. If you are a Vikings fan, relax. Quarterbacks just throw to their tight ends and backs against Cleveland. Kyle Rudolph and Jerick McKinnon will have big days this week. But not the wide receivers. Sit ‘em. 

Week 8 flash in the pan prediction

The Washington Redskins don’t like the Cowboys, especially Dez Bryant. While they are busy proving my sit ‘em assessment correct, Cole Beasley breaks free for 5 catches and 80 yards, including a 40-yard catch and run for a touchdown. 

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Pat Opperman

Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.