Bears

Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 8

mrwestweek8102915.png

Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 8

What did Week 7 of the NFL season bring us? Oh, nothing. Just the greatest Vine of the year and the only real comeback for when you beat your opponent in fantasy.

We liked it, Kirk. And we hope you all will like our Week 8 start/sit picks.

Let's get into it before Kirk calls us out.

START

Travis Benjamin, WR, CLE (vs. ARZ) - We wrote about him earlier this week as fantasy football's biggest surprise at wide receiver, so it'd be tough for us not to recommend using him this week. Again, he's lifted the label of being someone to avoid just because of a matchup. He's been that good and received enough targets that you've got to start him each week, even if that means potentially Johnny Manziel facing the Cardinals defense. Don't fret; Benjamin will get his as a solid WR2 with, as always, WR1 upside. (Mark Strotman)

Stefon Diggs, WR, MIN (@ CHI) - Alright. We'll give John some props for calling this one. The Professor has been Diggs' hype man all season. The rookie out of Maryland is on a tear with 19 catches for 324 yards and a touchdown in his last three games. Forget Mike Wallace and forget Charles Johnson. Diggs is now the receiver to own in Minnesota and should have a field day against the league's fourth-worst fantasy defense vs. opposing wideots. If he's still available in your league go grab him right now, ya dig? (Scott Krinch)

Mike Evans, WR, TB (@ ATL) - This isn't about matchup (the Falcons defense is actually pretty solid this year) so much as opportunity. Evans is basically the only healthy receiver on the Bucs, as Louis Murphy is done for the season and Vincent Jackson could miss several weeks with a knee injury. Evans, meanwhile, actually looks truly healthy for the first time this year, putting up eight catches for 164 yards and a tuddie coming out of a Week 6 Bye. He should have another big game as Jameis Winston will have no choice but to target the second-year wideout early and often. (Tony Andracki)

Marvin Jones, WR, CIN (@ PIT) - Double-digit fantasy points in four of his last five games, coming off the bye and facing the Steelers defense? Mmhmm, sign me up to start Jones (and every Bengal) this week. He scorched a solid Bills defense for 9/95/1 two weeks ago and, unless A.J. Green hogs all the targets, Jones is a strong FLEX play with big-play potential to shift your matchup. He's an easy start for me this week. (Strotman)

Travis Kelce, TE, KC (vs. DET) - Kelce has yet to find the endzone since Week 1, but the Lions have allowed five scores to opposing tight ends this season, including two to Kyle Rudolph. Even without tuddies, Kelce is a Top 5 TE, on pace for 78 receptions, 103 targets and 1,118 yards. He'll get in the endzone soon enough, and I'm betting that comes this week. (Andracki)

Jonathan Stewart, RB, CAR (vs. IND) - For the past few seasons "The Daily Show" was more like the "once every few months show." Now, completely healthy for the first time since 2011, Stewart is looking worthy of his old nickname. He has posted back-to-back double-digit fantasy point totals, and averaged a healthy 22 carries in each of those contests. Look for the Panthers to get the ground game going early and often against a Colts team which was just torched for 187 yards by the Saints tandem of Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson in a Week 7 loss. (Krinch)

Matthew Stafford, QB, DET (@ KC in London) - It's been an atrocious year for Stafford in "real-life" football, but in fantasy he's still the No. 15 signal caller, averaging better than 15 points per game. That's nothing to write home about or make him a sure-fire starter, but with a new offensive coordinator in line and facing a Chiefs defense that has been beatable in recent weeks, I'm going to give Stafford a chance to prove he can still be a high-volume passer capable of putting up huge numbers across the pond. I don't care if it means success for the Lions, I just want it for my fantasy team.

[MORE: Get all your Fantasy Sports coverage for the week here]

Charles Sims, RB, TB (@ ATL) - The Falcons are 28th against opposing running backs in standard scoring. Doug Martin should get the bulk of the carries again for the Bucs but Sims is a sneaky good PPR play this week. He's still tied for the lead on the team in touchdown receptions and continues to see 20-25 snaps per game. If the Bucs do fall behind to the Falcons, Sims could get more playing time than that. It's not a sexy pick but he could be a solid option in your lineup this week. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

Charcandrick West, RB, KC (vs. DET) - This time a week ago, we were all a little apprehensive about declaring Charcandrick (what a fun name to say) the must-own back in Kansas City. There's no concern anymore. West received 22 carries against the Steelers last week while the Chiefs' other two options (De'Anthony Thomas and Knile Davis) recorded just one carry each. West also got five targets and turned all that attention into 129 yards and a tuddie on 24 touches. He has another good matchup this week against a Detroit defense that hasn't yet shown they can stop the run from start to finish and has also allowed nine rushing TDs to opposing RBs on the season. (Andracki)

Danny Woodhead, RB, SD (@ BAL) - Woodhead might be the Prince of Garbage Time points. But those count just the same as points in the first quarter in fantasy football. By process of elimination, he's become the most reliable back in San Diego. The Chargers are also a team that loves to abandon the run (see 123 pass attempt in the past two weeks). Woodhead is their pass catching running back and should continue to be a PPR monster against a bad Ravens pass defense. Find a way to get Woodhead in your lineup. (Paschall)

SIT

Ameer Abdullah, RB, DET (@ KC) - Abdullah has been consistent, if only in the fact that he's proving he's not worth a start, regardless of how many carries he's getting. The Lions cannot run the ball consistently and they're unable to commit to one back. Throw in a tough matchup (the Chiefs have allowed only four scores to opposing RBs, but they all came in Week 4 against the Bengals) and the writing is on the wall for Abdullah: Do not start him. (Andracki)

Gio Bernard, RB, CIN (@ PIT) - Bernard has been shockingly consistent this year, earning double digit points in every week (in PPR leagues) despite not even receiving double digit carries each week. Coming out of a Bye, don't be surprised if Jeremy Hill is more of the featured back, but either way, it's a rough matchup for the Bengals' RBs. The Steelers are fourth in the league against opposing RBs and have let up just one score on the ground (to Charcandrick last week). Stay away from Gio this week if you can help it. (Andracki)

Alfred Blue, RB, HOU (vs. TEN) - Congrats on winning the waiver claim on Blue! Now he should probably stay on your bench this week. Blue just haven't been very effective so far this year (outside of an outburst against the Bucs) and that was even when Arian Foster was sidelined. Expect the Titans to stack the box against the Texans and force Brian Hoyer to beat them. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. (Paschall)

Dez Bryant, WR, DAL (vs. SEA) - We know. You've been patiently waiting to let Bryant loose in your lineup, and it appears he has a chance at playing this week. But consider two people: Matt Cassell, the guy who will be trying to throw Bryant the ball, and Richard Sherman, the guy guarding Bryant. This isn't a tasty matchup for Bryant, who may need to shake off a little rust after missing six weeks. If you're really impatient, toss him in your lineup and see if he can throw up the X for you. My guess is this week he throws up a dud. (Strotman)

Amari Cooper, WR, OAK (vs. NYJ) - Cooper should check his iCal because he's got a ticket booked this Sunday for Revis Island. As fun as it has been to watch him play this year, he has yet to face a corner the caliber of Darrelle Revis. It's likely Revis will shadow Cooper for the game and that's bad news for Cooper owners. The Jets just don't give up a lot of points to top opposing receivers so keep your expectations for Cooper this week extremely low. (Paschall)

[MORE: Complete Fantasy Football coverage at Rotoworld]

Denver Broncos, D/ST (vs. GB) - The Broncos defense has been a fantasy force this season as the unit has totaled 106 points this season. I would advocate playing them every single week this season expect for in Week 8. I get that there is always high upside for a defense that creates turnovers and gets to the quarterback at a ridiculous clip, but I just can't recommend starting a defense against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers coming off a bye. Look for a streamer option like the Titans instead. (Krinch)

T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND (@ CAR) - The Panthers are fourth in the NFL at limiting opposing WR fantasy production and they've been ridiculous the past two weeks, surrendering just 15 catches for 149 yards and a TD. It's a bad matchup for Hilton, but beyond that, you can't trust last week's line. Both of Hilton's TDs (just his second and third scores of the season) came on 40+-yard pass plays, meaning they were as much fluky as anything. With Andrew Luck clearly still off (his shoulder has to be bugging him), Hilton would be a shaky play even if his matchup is good. As it stands this week, keep him firmly on your bench. (Andracki)

Darren McFadden, RB, DAL (vs. SEA) - Maybe I'm just bitter that McFadden burned me in multiple leagues last week (come on, who saw a Joseph Randle injury coming?) but his revival may be put on hold this week. The Seahawks, even with their poor record, are no joke. To make things even worse, Matt Cassel is still the quarterback and Dez Bryant will likely be taken away by the Legion of Boom. Seattle should key on McFadden and make sure he doesn't have another big game. And, by the way, the Seahawks have only given up two rushing touchdowns all season (came in one game) and one 100-yd game from a backfield. Look elsewhere. (Paschall)

Donte Moncrief, WR, IND (@ CAR) - Moncrief has quietly put together a solid fantasy and heads into Week 8 as the No. 22 ranked wide receiver in ESPN standard leagues. While Moncrief has a touchdown in each game that Andrew Luck has started this season, I'm predicting their luck will run out on Monday. See what I did there? The Panthers have been eating opposing wide receivers alive as of late, with Josh Norman turning into one of the best corners in the league. Temper your enthusiasm for any Colts wide receiver this week. (Krinch)

Latavius Murray, RB, OAK (vs. NYJ) - Normally you wouldn't see me bench one of my favorite players in the league, but I just can't see any positives in starting Murray against the Jets in Week 8. New York has allowed just one rushing touchdown to a running back this season and opposing teams have averaged a measly 50 yards a game on the ground against them this season. Look for the Raiders to showcase a heavy dose of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree if they want to come out on top this weekend. (Krinch)

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

10-20codyparkey.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do. 

The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game. 

But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow. 

For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran. 

“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”

Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age. 

“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”

That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey. 

“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.” 

Age is just a number

Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins. 

Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired. 

Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. 

They said it

A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…

Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?” 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”