Fantasy Football: Week-Ahead Stash Candidates for Week 8

Sam Darnold is coming off of a historically bad game, but he could be a viable quarterback option in a couple of weeks. Who else is worth stashing ahead of Week 8?

Fantasy football is all about being a step ahead of your competition, and this weekly column aims to help you achieve that in a couple of ways.

First, I will identify players who could ultimately provide some value for your teams before they become hot waiver-wire adds. This will save you from spending an exorbitant amount of your free agent acquisition budget (FAAB) or using a high waiver priority on them, ultimately allowing you to save each of these for when you most need it.

Second, I'll dig through the data and player trends to illustrate why these players will be worth taking up a spot on your roster. I'm going to try to find the diamonds in the rough that inevitably emerge every year so that you don't have to sweat over whether or not you claimed them on waivers -- because you will already own them!

My goal each week is to provide you with starting and flex-caliber players at each of their respective positions. That means I'm looking for top-12 quarterbacks, tight ends, and defenses, as well as top-36 running backs and wide receivers. If I've done that, then I've done my job.

So let's take a look at this past week!

Player Positional Ranking Half-PPR Points
Daniel Jones 20 11.4
Cole Beasley 33 9.1
Hunter Henry 7 12.7
San Francisco 49ers D/ST 6 15

In a week that was so bizarre, this was perhaps one of my best of the season thus far. Daniel Jones continues to struggle since his Week 3 debut, but hopefully, he can get right in the next couple of weeks. On the other hand, both Cole Beasley and Hunter Henry had respectable days and can continue to be valuable assets. Finally, the San Francisco D/ST is turning into an every-week starter regardless of matchup, so hopefully, you were able to grab them before they got hot.

Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets

ESPN Ownership: 17%

Look, I know what you're going to say. Sam Darnold was historically bad on Monday Night Football against the New England Patriots. But that was against a defense who is putting up historical numbers and crushing every opposing offense it has faced. Just two weeks ago, Darnold tore apart a Dallas Cowboys defense that had been playing solid football for most of the season.

In his two games that weren't against the Patriots, Darnold put up 20.6 and 13.0 fantasy points - not great, but not terrible either. Furthermore, Darnold should get starting tight end Chris Herndon back from injury by Week 9.

A lot of his success will come down to the matchup, as Darnold will finally get his shot at playing the putrid Miami Dolphins. Miami is allowing the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. I'm sure Adam Gase will want to stick it to his old team, and Darnold will certainly be able to take care of business, assuming he doesn't see any more ghosts on the field.

A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans

ESPN Ownership: 13%

All waiver wire eyes are on Corey Davis this week, and rightfully so, as he posted his second-best fantasy game of the season. It's worth keeping in mind that this is only the seventh time that Davis has had at least six catches in a game in his career. Meanwhile, rookie teammate A.J. Brown also recorded six receptions for the first time this year. Brown did this on eight targets in Tannehill's first start, which is one more target than Davis saw - not significant, but important nonetheless.

On the season, Brown and Davis have each out-targeted the other three times. That said, Brown has been able to do more with his opportunities than Davis has, as he leads the team in receiving yards despite seeing three fewer targets than Davis. Brown's 16.9 yards per reception average is also good for 12th in the league among receivers with at least 15 catches this year. Adding to his efficiency is his 0.82 Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) per target, which is top 25 among receivers.

In Week 9, the Tennessee Titans will visit the Carolina Panthers, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers over the past four weeks. While the Titans tend to spread the ball around, Brown has as high of a ceiling as any receiver right now.

Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys

ESPN Ownership: 53%

When Jason Witten returned to the football field after spending a year in the Monday Night Football booth, everyone cast him aside as a relevant fantasy tight end option. Yet here we sit in Week 8 with Witten as the TE11 on the year in half PPR leagues. It's clear that Dak Prescott views him as a safety blanket, as he's third on the team in targets, with 31.

There's a good chance Witten was dropped in a lot of leagues this week as the Cowboys go through their bye week, so it could be a prime opportunity to stash him before his Week 9 matchup against the New York Giants. While I typically don't favor career stats against an opponent, Witten is as good of a lock against the Giants as there is. In 32 career games against the Giants, Witten has averaged five receptions for 52 yards.

Cleveland Browns, DST

ESPN Ownership: 18%

No team has been more up and down than the Cleveland Browns this year. While the offense has sputtered week after week, the defense has had some bright spots. First, the Browns are currently fifth in the league in sacks per game with a 3.2 average. Second, Cleveland is 12th in the league in Passing NEP per drop back allowed at 0.09.

Upcoming on their schedule are the Denver Broncos, who just allowed 8 sacks against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos also couldn't get the ground game going against one of the worst rush defenses in the league. Additionally, going into Week 8, the total has gone under in 14 of Denver's last 16 games, a promising indication that there won't be a lot of scoring from either side in this matchup.

Whether Cleveland loses to the Patriots or not, the Browns will be in a must-win situation if they want any shot at making the playoffs. Myles Garrett and company have the means to get after the quarterback in this matchup and force Joe Flacco to make some costly mistakes, so here's to hoping they do.