Week 8 of the 2016 NFL season kicked off with the Jacksonville Jaguars getting completely shredded by the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football. Now, there’s a game in London between the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins, followed up by a great slate from there. While fantasy football players lock in their lineups for season-long leagues, let’s take a look at a few player who you could start this week, who are flying a bit under-the-radar.
Jameis Winston, quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It’s hard to argue that leaving Winston on your bench wouldn’t wind up being a big mistake this week. While the Oakland Raiders have shown some improvement over the past week or two, the numbers still tell a story currently. Oakland’s defense is still a major work in progress, which means Winston will get to face a unit that has allowed 301.2 yards per game through the air this season, which is the most in the NFL. It’s hard to not love the matchup if you’re a fantasy football player, and unless you have one of the elite quarterbacks this week, Winston could be an excellent plug-and-play option.
Matt Asiata, running back, Minnesota Vikings
To clarify, Devontae Booker and Jacquizz Rodgers absolutely deserve to be on this list, but they aren’t exactly “under the radar” fantasy football options anymore. So, let’s turn to the Vikings running back situation, which has been ugly pretty much all season long. With Jerick McKinnon ruled out with an ankle injury, it means that Asiata is going to get all the work he can handle against the poor Chicago Bears defense.
While Asiata hasn’t been great this year, he’s fresh off a 12-carry, 55-yard game against the Philadelphia Eagles. In that game he also proved as a solid pass-catcher, tallying six catches for 25 yards. Basically, you could do much, much worse than Asiata and if you need someone for a RB2 or a flex spot, then he’s a great route to go.
Frank Gore, running back, Indianapolis Colts
It’s hard to understand why Gore is being overlooked this season, but he is. It may have something to do with his age, but more than likely most fantasy football players are just leaving Gore in a reserve role on their bench while starting others instead. This week, that’s not the right move, though. Gore and the Colts are taking on the Kansas City Chiefs, who have allowed 114.3 yards per game on the ground this season. It’s not only a strong matchup but Gore’s consistency make him a pretty easy play this week.
While Gore only has two rushing touchdowns this season, he’s totaled 495 rushing yards, while also scoring two receiving touchdowns as well. It’s a safe play with a fair amount of upside as well.
Michael Thomas, wide receiver, New Orleans Saints
While Thomas as a player isn’t an “under the radar” fantasy player anymore, he is this week against the Seattle Seahawks. Many fantasy football players will likely avoid Thomas against the Seahawks, but it’d likely be Brandin Cooks who’s the one in a tough spot. The rookie from Ohio State should get plenty of looks from Drew Brees and is fresh off a 10-catch, 13-target game, in which he totaled 130 yards, the best game of his career.
Don’t shy away from using Thomas this week, even if the matchup doesn’t seem ideal on paper. He and Brees have built a strong connection and it’s only going to get better from here.