Tuesday - Dec 11, 2018

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START/BENCH: Week 8

I sincerely hope that the 2018 fantasy football season has been kinder to you than it has been to me.

Seven weeks into the season, I am well on my way to the absolute worst season I have ever had playing the game. The reasons why are both varied and legion. There are of course injuries (Atlanta Falcons tailback Devonta Freeman). Under-performing players (Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald). And those wonderful souls who somehow manage to do both. (Dalvin Cook—so much Dalvin Cook)

It doesn’t help that I have zero shares of Todd Gurley, since the completely random process of draft pick selection slotted me ninth a completely random 37 times in a row.

I’m not at all bitter though. Not me. No sir.

At this point, in as many leagues as not I’m probably just playing out the string. Not all of my teams are dumpster fires, but let’s just say I’ve already run out of marshmallows to toast.

Now at this point in a lost season, some fantasy owners just throw in the towel. They’ll set a lineup each week, but they stop trying to swing trades. Become less active on the waiver wire. Plug in the same disappointing players week after week.

I am not one of those people—and you shouldn’t be, either.

Regardless of your team’s record, whether it’s September or December, every game should be treated like the most important game of the season. Improve the team wherever and whenever you can. Milk the starting lineup for every possible fantasy point.

If you’re in first place, that attitude will help keep you there. If you’re in last place, it will help you take as many of your league-mates with you into the gutter as possible.

If you’re going to go down, don’t go down alone.

Misery loves company.

Now, with what has to be the most depressing halftime speech in history out of the way (I know I’m inspired—to climb inside my oven), let’s get down to winning some Week 8 matchups with this week’s edition of Start/Bench at Fantasy Sharks.

NOTE: Four teams are off this week – the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee Titans. No Matt Ryan, Ezekiel Elliott or Keenan Allen this weekend.

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

OFF THE LIST: Deshaun Watson, HOU (vs MIA): Watson’s still a solid weekly fantasy starter, and perhaps once he’s 100 percent healthy again he’ll reclaim “Stud” status. But while he’s been good for fantasy owners in 2018, he hasn’t really been great.

SPOT-START OF THE WEEK

Baker Mayfield, CLE (at PIT)

Per ESPN’s Pat McManamon, it’s been an up-and-down first four starts for Mayfield. “Put it all together,” he wrote, “and Mayfield is protecting the ball, but he’s also holding the ball. He’s getting the ball downfield, but when he does, either he isn’t accurate enough or his receivers aren’t catching it enough. He has room to improve but provides assurance that he will get better the more he plays.”

Mayfield has made an appearance in this section of this column twice so far this year—including last week against the Buccaneers. His 215 passing yards, 43 rushing yards and two scores landed him 11th among fantasy quarterbacks in Sharks League Scoring—just inside QB1 territory in 12-team leagues. There’s a good chance Mayfield can do at least that well in a top-five fantasy matchup Sunday in Pittsburgh.

ROLL THEM OUT

Andy Dalton, CIN (vs. TBB)

Dalton’s on the you-know-what list of many a fantasy owner after yet another prime time meltdown last Sunday night against the Chiefs. But smart fantasy owners know when to have a short memory—such as before a matchup with a Tampa team that’s giving up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Mitchell Trubisky, CHI (vs. NYJ)

The Jets aren’t an especially good fantasy matchup under center—or an especially bad one. But this is less about the opponent than it is Trubisky himself. No quarterback in fantasy has more points over the last couple of weeks, making this very much a “ride the hot hand” situation.

Jameis Winston, TBB (at CIN)

Winston’s been throwing the ball all over the field since taking back over as Tampa’s starter—he’s averaging 38 passing yards and two scores a start and ranks second among all fantasy quarterbacks over the past two games. The Bengals are seventh in FPPG surrendered to signal-callers in 2018.

SIT THEM DOWN

Cam Newton, CAR (vs. BAL)

Newton’s a hard player to sit, and admittedly Newton’s ability to pick up yardage with his legs helps him overcome bad matchups for the position. But it’s still very much worth pointing out that the Ravens are dead last in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks this season.

Matthew Stafford, DET (vs. SEA)

Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas are all gone, but the Seahawks have been a surprisingly tough out against the pass this year. As a matter of fact, only the Baltimore Ravens are a worse fantasy matchup for quarterbacks.

Deshaun Watson, HOU (vs. MIA)

Given that Newton and Watson are my starters at quarterback in the Deathmatch superflex league here at Fantasy Sharks, placing both in this section in Week 8 does not make me happy. But Watson’s still not 100% and playing on a short week in an unfavorable matchup against a sneaky-good Dolphins defense that’s 23rd in FPPG allowed to quarterbacks.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is a seven-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who was named the organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year for 2017. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.