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NFL Fantasy Football, Week 8: 5 under-the-radar must starts

A few lesser known flex options that should be in your lineups this week.

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Week 7 In Review

If you aren't familiar with my methods yet, I grade myself on a "PASS" or "FAIL" scale which is based on flex options scoring above or below double-digit fantasy points. Above 10 points would be a PASS, and obviously below 10 would be a FAIL. I do my best to find the not-so obvious options from week to week to help you dominate your league. With that said here we go once again, let's see how I did for you, folks.

Theo Riddick, 7.8 Points -- FAIL
Blake Bortles, 15.0 Points -- PASS
Devin Smith, 1.7 Points -- FAIL
Stefon Diggs, 23.7 Points -- PASS
Tavon Austin, 10.8 Points -- PASS

I made a couple ballsy calls last week, so I'll gladly take a 60% PASS rate. I blame all my mistakes on the players, the coaches, and absolutely under no circumstances, ever, myself. I am flawless, forever.... just like Barbra Streisand.

Sometimes it just does not matter if your primary running back is inactive, because the coaches will still decimate any hope for production -- cue Theo Riddick. I needed a lot more than a spot of tea after I watched Blake Bortles this last Sunday from London. He posted one of his worst game in weeks and I should predicted it, I mean it's the floundering Bills defense overseas -- what could go wrong?

Then there's those calls you wish you could take back, I think I am about 8 weeks too early on the Devin Smith shots, don't be surprised when he pops off for 20 points though. Now in Minnesota it's official, Stefon Diggs is for real. As projected he went off again, and owners that started him probably saved their weeks because of it. In one of the gutsiest calls I've attempted in a while I took a shot in the dark on Tavon Austin. I was hoping for a TD in the mix here but we will all take borderline 11 points from a guy that most people don't even own.

Week 8: '5 Must-Start Fantasy Sleepers'

I pride myself on making tough calls, and this week will be no exception once again. If you're feeling emotionally weak -- stop reading now.

5. Alfred Blue, RB HOU

Well, little Jackie Paper, aka Arian Foster, went down yet again, so despite how uncomfortable it feels, Alfred Blue is officially a "must start". This is how you know it's Week 8 of the NFL season -- I am advising you to start any Texans running back not named Arian Foster.

In just one game this season Alfred Blue was given "feature carries," 31 of them to be exact. In one of his best performances as an NFL pro, Blue turned those carries into 139 yards (4.5 YPC) and one touchdown. On paper this is not the best match-up for Blue considering the Tennessee Titans are giving up just 324.3 total yards per game (4th best in the NFL), but that isn't telling the real story. As a run defense Tennessee is actually ranked 29th overall allowing 129.2 yards per game -- so they are leaky. The saving grace in this affair is that Tennessee shouldn't put up big points. This point is very notable because it means the Texans could lean on Blue repeatedly all afternoon in a close game or Texans blowout.

Alfred is plenty talented to deliver owners an impressive performance this Sunday, and to be honest -- who else is going to carry the workload? Bank on the Texans to hand the ball off a bunch against the Titans, and Alfred Blue to be the recipient of some insane volume. He's a low-end RB2 who's available in 82% of Yahoo leagues and 80.8% of ESPN ones.

4. Kyle Rudolph, TE MIN

Coming off back-to-back weeks where he has scored a touchdowns, Kyle Rudolph is trending into a positive direction entering Week 8.

In a league that is more unpredictable than not, it's hard to find "juicy" defensive match-ups, but the Chicago Bears certainly classify as one. Grading out as the 10th worst pass coverage defense over the first seven weeks of the season, now is the time to roll out Rudolph if your options at tight end are thin.

Thus far into 2015, Kyle Rudolph is averaging 4.3 targets per game -- not a jaw dropping level of volume, but an increase should come soon. Over the past three games Teddy Bridgewater has averaged 35.6 attempts per game, an insane increase from the 19.9 he averaged in his rookie season -- an extremely beneficial stat on Kyle's favor. This season the Bears defense is allowing just a shade under 30 points per game to opponents (29.8), and with their need to sell out on the run against Adrian Peterson don't be surprised if Rudolph finds himself wide open. This game has the makings of a blowout similar to a handful of other games they've already thrown the towel in on.

Currently, Rudolph is owned in just 31.5% of ESPN leagues and 51% at Yahoo as well. He's a versatile weapon who many fantasy experts are still expecting the breakout from. This Sunday has the makings of that day.... start Kyle Rudolph.

3. Ronnie Hillman, RB DEN

You're probably saying to yourself, "Duh, Nate, everybody says play Hillman". That however is not true, in fact Ronnie Hillman's consensus expert rank for Week 8 is the RB23 (per A staggering ranking considering Peyton Manning's passing stat regressions and Hillman's recent body of work.

Yes, the Green Bay Packers appear to be a slightly different team defensively, allowing 355 total yards per game (14th in the NFL) with 118.5 of those coming on the ground (22nd in the NFL) -- but that's far from the truth. On the season the Packers have allowed a running back to rush for over 100 yards just two times though the first 7 weeks -- but Hillman could make it three.

In Week 7, he rushed for 111 yards (5.6 YPC) and did so while out snapping counterpart C.J. Anderson 45-39. This is no longer a hot-hand situation as much as it is just one running back passing another on the depth chart. In his past three weeks, Ronnie Hillman has rushed for over 100 yards in two different games on just a total of 31 carries (214 Rush Yards, 6.9 YPC). These are impressive numbers regardless of opponent in the NFL.

My prediction is that Green Bay allows its third 100 yard rusher of the year after Ronnie Hillman and the Broncos finish with them. As the clear lead back for the time being, look for Denver to chew the clock as Hillman pushes for 20+ touches. He's currently owned in 62% of Yahoo leagues and 72.6% at ESPN. And yes, I realize his first name is Ronnie, but that's no reason to keep him from your starting lineup.

2. Rishard Matthews, WR MIA

As a massive fan of DeVante Parker coming out of Louisville, I can say I never thought by Week 8 I'd be suggesting Rishard Matthews over him -- but here we are.

For obvious reasons, Rishard is a must start. Currently, he ranks as the WR24 and that rank would probably be even higher if Matthews didn't post a score of 2.6 back in Week 4. Most of Matthew's production is justified -- it's the ones that aren't that have owners scared to start him. Coming off a Week 7 performance where Rishard posted 16.75 fantasy points on just three total targets is certainly not something we can bank on but just about every other week of the season has been loaded with a decent volume of targets. He's averaging 5.8 targets per game, and with Ryan Tannehill heating up at the perfect time against a Thursday night matchup with an exploitable Patriots secondary, Matthews could find himself in high demand. The Patriots currently rank 18th in the NFL against the pass, and are tied for the 6th most passing touchdowns allowed on the year with 11. In a game that should be reach epic levels of blowout status, don't be afraid to start the Miami players that have been successful to this point.

Believe it or not, Rishard Matthews is still currently only owned in 60.7% of ESPN leagues and just 62% at Yahoo. Rishard is a good bet to see between 6-8 targets, and if things get out of hand enough there is an equally good chance he scores a touchdown. If you've started him to this point, this isn't the matchup to bench him for.

1. Benjamin Watson, TE NO

He's no longer a spring chicken, but at a position (TE) that is so touchdown dependent outside of the top three or four players, he could be a solid start. His upside flashed a few weeks ago when Drew Bree's hit him for 10 catches, 127 receiving yards and a score. Perhaps this was the best he will ever play -- but that doesn't mean this week can't be a gem too.

This week, the New Orleans Saints are facing Eli Manning and the very vanilla Giants defense. On five different occasions this season, the Giants have allowed at least 60 receiving yards to the tight ends they've faced. Watson himself over the past three weeks has seen no less than 5 targets per game, and has scored touchdowns in two of them.

With Drew Brees struggling to click with any of his receivers (most notably Brandin Cooks) it appears as if he has reverted back to his roots and is seeking out his big bodied tight end. It doesn't hurt either that the Giants are ranked as the 3rd worst pass defense in the league, giving up a porous 288.3 yards per game through the air. All these signs point to Mr. Brees dropping plenty of bombs on a defense that to this point in 2015 couldn't stop a JV offense.

Ben Watson is currently owned in 44% of Yahoo leagues, and just 48.2% of ESPN leagues as well. Clearly Watson is yet to be loved on the "Gary Barnidge" level but I assure you the potential is there. Bet on Drew Brees against a terrible Giants defense Sunday and Ben Watson shall reward your my, child.

Good luck this week everyone.

As always you can find me on twitter @AnOutragedJew if you have sit/start questions or want steamy dating advice.


Editor's Note: FanDuel is hosting a FREE Week 8 fantasy football league where half the teams win cash on Sunday. New users only. Join now! Note: WA residents - sorry, but you can't play!