Sleeper Picks: Darrell Henderson Jr. Takes the Lead

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Your sleeper objectives might be a little bit different in Week 8. There are no bye-week teams this week, so it’s a time when you can roll out your strongest starting lineup. Some of these recommendations might make sense for flex plays, and others could be depth grabs that are best utilized in future weeks, should they continue to command usage and perform for their respective offenses. The aim to improve one’s roster never rests.

Let’s see what Week 8 has for us.

Two New England wide receivers? In this economy? Stick with me.

We often talk about the need to be patient with new offensive coordinators, and while the Patriots don’t have a Baltimore success story percolating in them, they obviously were impressive in the upset win over Buffalo last Sunday. Bourne has quietly turned into the target hog in this passing game, absorbing 18 looks over the past two games. And his three best showings have been useful in fantasy, chartings of WR4, WR14 and WR18 (with two of them in the most recent weeks). Miami can be thrown on, sitting 24th in pass-defense DVOA. The Patriots are heavy underdogs and will likely need to attack aggressively, making Bourne a fairly safe bet for another volume week.

Douglas might not command the same target share as Bourne, but the rookie has been a regular splash play when called upon. He averages 14.1 yards a catch and 8.6 yards per target, both tops among qualified Patriots. Speed thrills. The Patriots are also scheming him some creative touches; Douglas had a 20-yard run in the win over Buffalo.

Douglas might not factor as a fantasy starter in a week where all 32 NFL teams play, but he should be rostered in more than 2% of Yahoo leagues. We often talk about rookie receivers as slow-developing Polaroids; Douglas’s photo is starting to come into focus.

RB Darrell Henderson Jr. at Dallas (38% rostered)

Henderson came out of nowhere to handle 19 touches in the loss to Pittsburgh, and although the efficiency wasn’t great, he did punch in a touchdown and play on 57% of the snaps. Sean McVay obviously trusts Henderson from their past time together. Dallas presents a negative matchup for running backs, but with Henderson plausibly looking at another 15-20 touches, he’s too big to ignore for any fantasy managers who need to find projectable volume in Week 8.

RB Emari Demercado vs. Baltimore (32% rostered)

Demercado’s usage has been a little puzzling. He was actively employed after James Conner got hurt in Week 5, then ignored the following game against the Rams. Justifiably, the fantasy community turned its back on Demercado against Seattle, and missed out on a useful 17-touch, 75-yard output, with four catches. The key here is Demercado’s chops in the passing game, as the Cardinals will likely be playing from a deficit against the Ravens. Demercado’s efficiency in Week 7 was good enough that we should expect him to keep a meaty role on Sunday.

WR Marvin Mims Jr. vs. Kansas City (17% rostered)

Please understand that the Mims call is strictly as a stash play. He’s yet to see more than 35% of the offensive snaps in any game, despite all the splash plays he’s giving the Broncos (18.9 YPC, plus a long kick return touchdown). But the Broncos are open for business in advance of Tuesday’s trading deadline, eager to trade Jerry Jeudy and perhaps willing to move Courtland Sutton as well. Although Mims’ usage has been puzzling at times, the Broncos did trade up to draft him in April, and it’s likely his role will expand significantly if someone gets moved. There’s also the possibility that a starter injury could hit in Denver, and that would make it wheels-up time for Mims. Try to add him now, a week ahead of the crowd.

RB Tyjae Spears vs. Atlanta (48% rostered)

Much like Mims, the Spears angle is mostly about stash potential. You probably don’t need him in Week 8, and Derrick Henry is still here. But it’s possible Henry could get moved before Tuesday’s trade deadline, and although the Tennessee offense has all sorts of problems right now — spotty line play, inexperience at quarterback — Spears is handy in the passing game and might be able to thrive in the expected negative game scripts. And Tennessee’s poor blocking hasn’t held him back, either — he’s averaging a juicy 5.5 yards per rush. It’s not hard to see Spears entering reliable RB2 territory if a Henry deal comes to fruition.

TE Trey McBride vs. Baltimore (15% rostered)

You can connect the dots here. The Cardinals love to throw to their tight ends, and Zach Ertz just landed on injured reserve. That gives McBride — who’s been solid lately — a clean path to expand his role. McBride had a mini-breakout with 4-62-0 two weeks back, and last week’s six targets were a season high. I’d consider six targets his plausible floor as the Cardinals likely have to throw proactively in Week 8, chasing the game against the formidable Ravens. Baltimore’s tight end coverage has actually been very good, but McBride runs quick-defining routes, the type of throws that Joshua Dobbs is likely to rely on this week.

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