Raheem Mostert, Tre'Quan Smith and other fantasy NFL sleepers for Week 8

Jay Asser 28/10/2018
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Here are five players worth picking off your bench or waiver wire and inserting into your starting lineup.

RAHEEM MOSTERT

A golden opportunity awaits the San Francisco 49ers’ unheralded running back if starter Matt Breida is sidelined with an ankle injury this week against the Arizona Cardinals.

Mostert has really come on in the past two weeks, totaling 146 rushing yards on 19 carries, along with 19 receiving yards on four catches.

It appears the 49ers would be more likely to ride him, and not Alfred Morris, if Breida can’t go against a Cardinals defence that is allowing the most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

TRE’QUAN SMITH

If you want to take the kind of deep shot that would make Drew Brees proud, roll with the guy who’s quickly becoming his number two wideout.

Smith has seemingly surpassed Cameron Meredith in the New Orleans Saints offence and could be leaned on this week with top target Michael Thomas potentially having his hands full against Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes.

There are a lot of mouths to feed in New Orleans, but also plenty of opportunities.

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BAKER MAYFIELD

You could do a lot worse than Mayfield as a streamer at quarterback this week, with the Cleveland Browns rookie coming off his best fantasy performance of the season.

Facing the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are surrendering the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, Mayfield should have the benefit of a positive game script as the Browns are expected to be chasing points.

Plus, there’s always the chance Mayfield adds points with his legs, like he did last week with 43 rushing yards.

JALEN RICHARD

Despite barely any chances to run the ball, Richard continues to hold value in PPR leagues thanks to what he can do as a receiver.

The Oakland Raiders scat-back has at least six catches in three of the past four weeks, and with Marshawn Lynch now on the injured reserve, Richard should see the field even more.

Doug Martin is expected to lead the backfield on early downs, but if Oakland are trailing and need to throw, that will favour Richard.

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VANCE MCDONALD

The Pittsburgh Steelers tight end hits that sweet spot of players who’ve produced fairly well this season, yet are still available in many leagues.

McDonald isn’t just worth streaming this week – he’s probably worth a roster spot on your team considering how volatile the tight end position has been this year and bye weeks.

As for right now, McDonald could thrive against the Cleveland Browns, who have given up four touchdowns to tight ends so far.

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New Orleans Saints eye redemption for 'Minneapolis Miracle' and more Week 8 talking points

Jay Asser 27/10/2018
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If the New Orleans Saints want to get some redemption for the ‘Minneapolis Miracle’, they’ll have to do what they couldn’t at the very end of their nightmare playoff loss.

Stopping the Minnesota Vikings’ passing attack – specifically wide receiver duo Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs – will be of utmost importance for the Saints in a battle featuring two of the NFC’s heavyweights.

Diggs is the man who stuck the dagger into New Orleans’ heart in the Divisional Round contest, but it will be Thielen who commands the most attention on Sunday night.

The 28-year-old has been the best receiver in the league this season, leading all players in receptions (67) and receiving yards (822) while eclipsing the century mark in yards in all seven games.

The Saints secondary has been much better over the past three weeks after a disastrous start to the season, but they’ve still been susceptible, allowing the second-best passer rating in the league at 112.2.

That’s why New Orleans went out this past week and traded for cornerback Eli Apple from the New York Giants in an effort to shore up their pass defence. Apple has yet to allow a touchdown this season, but it’s unclear how much he’ll be on the field after just joining the team.

The Vikings, meanwhile, are expected to have Everson Griffen back after the defensive end was away from the team the past five weeks, which will strengthen a Minnesota defence that is starting to look like itself.

Regardless of the result on Sunday, it may not be the last time these two teams get together this season.

Here are more talking points in Week 8.

RESTED AND READY

at Lambeau Field on October 15, 2018 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

If there’s any player in the league capable of putting the first blemish on the Los Angeles Rams’ undefeated record, it’s Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers and the Packers offence haven’t been at their best this season, but coming off a bye week, Green Bay are a dangerous underdog for the Rams. Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy are 9-2 together coming off the bye, and the week off will have given the star quarterback more time to heal the knee injury suffered in Week 1.

The key against a lethal Rams pass rush will be keeping Rodgers upright, which Green Bay have managed to do for the most part this season. The Packers offensive line ranks first in pass-blocking grade by Pro Football Focus at 91.2, while allowing just 59 pressures on 296 pass-blocking snaps.

They’ll need to be on top of their game against Aaron Donald, who is coming off his best performance of the year in which he notched four sacks and two stuffs in an absolute domination of the San Francisco 49ers.

BECKHAM v NORMAN, ROUND FOUR

As far as individual match-ups go, it doesn’t get more contentious than the one featuring Odell Beckham Jr and Josh Norman.

The NFL was robbed of two encounters between the New York Giants wide receiver and the Washington cornerback last season when Beckham was injured, but Sunday will mark the third time the two line-up against one another since they fought on the field in 2015.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see them involved in more heated exchanges this week, especially with Norman using his trash talk to get in Beckham’s head.

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Brock Osweiler takes aim at former team as Miami Dolphins meet Houston Texans

Jay Asser 24/10/2018
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A familiar face will line up across from the Houston Texans on Thursday night.

With Ryan Tannehill out another game with a shoulder injury, the Miami Dolphins will once again start former Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler.

The partnership between Houston and Osweiler went south fast. After signing a substantial four-year, $72 million deal, which included $37m guaranteed in the first two years of the contract, Osweiler was a major bust with the Texans. In his lone season with the franchise, he tossed more interceptions (16) than touchdowns (15) for a lowly passer rating of 72.2.

Osweiler’s relationship with head coach Bill O’Brien didn’t go well either, and Houston were so eager to rid of the quarterback that they gave the Cleveland Browns a second and sixth-round pick to take him off their hands.

Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney didn’t mince words when asked about Osweiler’s tenure in Houston in the lead-up to Thursday.

“He ain’t here no more, so I don’t really care for him,” Clowney said. “We didn’t win a lot with him.”

Osweiler’s time with the Texans turned him into a bit of a punchline in the league, but so far this season, he’s done well in relief of Tannehill.

Through three appearances, the 27-year-old has thrown for 654 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 107.0, which is a better mark than the ones Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers hold this season.

For both Osweiler and Houston, Thursday represents an opportunity at revenge.

The Texans come into the match-up winners of four straight, their first such streak since 2015, as they appear to have put their early-season struggles behind them.

Houston’s defence in particular is starting to click and has allowed an average of just 12.0 points over the last three games.

In Clowney and J.J. Watt, the Texans have two elite pass-rushers who can make Osweiler’s life difficult in his return to NRG Stadium.

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