Who starts Week 8: Cam Newton or Matthew Stafford?


Each week of the regular season in "Fantasy Audibles" I'll use the SAP Player Comparison Tool to help you make the right decisions when it comes to difficult lineup dilemmas. The tool uses several factors to help make an educated suggestion, including past performance, matchup, consistency, upside, and intangibles. It finally appears as if the tool is fully operational (though not 100 percent reliable), so I'll use a combination of the tool and old-fashioned fantasy methods to help make a determination on four difficult Week 8 matchup decisions below. Let's take a look at the start/sit questions haunting some of our fantasy readers and try to help them set a winning lineup.

Who should I start at QB: Cam Newton or Matthew Stafford?

Coming out of his bye Cam Newton faces the tall task of picking apart an Arizona defense playing extremely well of late. Over the last month, the Cardinals allow just 214.5 passing yards per game along with three touchdown passes. They've racked up four interceptions and 11 sacks in that span as well. Newton has held up his end of the bargain as a top-end fantasy signal-caller, scoring 21 or more fantasy points in three of the four games he's played to completion. The matchup with the Cardinals would seem more worrisome, but Cam is at home and that strong run by the Cardinals was aided by games against such electric passers as Case Keenum, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and a still injured Russell Wilson. Newton should be just fine in fantasy this week.

Stafford has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the fantasy season, currently sitting as the QB3 after seven weeks of action. Jim Bob Cooter's offense sets Stafford up to succeed, and he's making the most of every opportunity. He faces a tough matchup in Week 8, though, as he heads to Houston to do battle with a defense allowing the second-fewest passing yards per game (187.4). Making matters worse for Stafford, the Texans defense plays much better at home than on the road this year, allowing just 17.3 points per game in Houston vs. 28.3 everywhere else. Even without J.J. Watt, this is proving to be a formidable unit against the pass. The team did lose cornerback Kevin Johnson to injured reserve, but the rest of the secondary has been able to pick up the slack and that should continue into Week 8.

Verdict: While the Player Comparison Tool strongly advises Stafford, I'm going against the robot's judgment and recommending Newton. Coming off his bye against an Arizona defense that has benefitted from cake matchups is a good spot for Newton. Meanwhile, Stafford could be due for some touchdown regression, and a road matchup against a good defense is as good a place as any for that to start.

Who should I start at RB: Jonathan Stewart or Mark Ingram?

Stewart came back in a big way after missing time with a hamstring injury, racking up 85 yards and two red-zone touchdowns in the team's Week 6 loss to the Saints. The red-zone work is an encouraging sign that might be foretelling Carolina's mindset moving forward after Cam Newton suffered a concussion in Week 4. Stewart took on four of the team's six red-zone carries, while Newton saw just one on a designed bootleg to help him avoid contact. Working against JStew this week is a matchup with a Cardinals defense that has allowed just 2.63 yards per carry over the last month to opposing running backs. However, the threat of Newton under center could create some opportunities for Stewart to find some creases, and he's proven effective at exploiting those in his time with the Panthers.

Ingram has been a bit of a frustrating fantasy player this year. He still looks good on the field but is losing too much work to a bevy of other backs in New Orleans. However, there's reason for optimism as he's seen 72.7 percent of the red-zone backfield opportunities over the last two weeks versus just 42.3 percent in Weeks 1 through 4. Like Stewart, Ingram faces a difficult matchup in Week 8 when the Seattle Seahawks come to the Superdome. Over the last month, Seattle allows just 3.19 yards per carry, and it took the great David Johnson 41 touches to amass 171 total yards (58 came through the air). Ingram doesn't figure to see that immense workload, thus lowering his already flex-level ceiling.

Verdict: I feel the Player Comparison Tool is biased here because to me this battle clearly tips in favor of Stewart. He has less competition to steal touches, and if the team is shying away from using Newton at the goal line then that removes the one bugaboo that typically plagues Stewart's fantasy outlook.

Who should I start at WR: Davante Adams or Ty Montgomery?

Rather surprisingly, Adams has proven to be a reliable contributor in both the Packers' offense and in fantasy this year. He's scored five touchdowns in six games and ranks second on the team in receptions (28) and yards (350), but third in targets (43). With teams once again rolling coverage to Jordy Nelson, Adams has thrived working against second and third corners. Atlanta's top corner, Desmond Trufant, spends most of his time covering the offensive right side of the formation, while Adams lines up on the left side on 54 percent of his plays so far in 2016. While it'd be unreasonable to expect a repeat of his 132-yard, two-touchdown performance, Adams is in a good spot to post another solid outing against an otherwise suspect Falcons secondary in what figures to be a high-scoring game.

An unexpected plot twist to the 2016 season has been the great Ty Montgomery positional debate -- is he a WR or RB or both???? I've already weighed in on that issue here, so let's get down to brass tacks and discuss his value for Week 8. While his running back work should diminish now that Knile Davis has had nearly two weeks to acclimate to the offense, Montgomery should still see a few carries and plenty of targets out of the backfield. That affords him a safe yardage floor, with an added boost in PPR. So far in 2016, Montgomery is the only player to post consecutive 10-plus catch outings, and his role is seemingly growing in Green Bay. Montgomery has yet to find the end zone in 2016, but he'll have as good a chance as any to break that trend against the Falcons.

Verdict: For those in standard leagues, I understand siding with the Player Comparison Tool here and chasing the touchdown-upside and relative consistency of Adams. However, if I was faced with this choice (in PPR or standard), I'd prefer to roll out Montgomery. The stars seem to be aligning for a true breakout game from the second-year player, and this potential shootout with the Falcons looks like a prime spot for that to happen.

Who should I start at TE: Tyler Eifert or Jack Doyle?

He's back! Eifert returned to action last week, albeit on an extremely limited basis. He played just 15 snaps, while Tyler Kroft led Cincinnati tight ends with 42. The hope in starting Eifert is that the team gets into the red zone more frequently than they did last week (just one play), as Eifert is truly dominant in that space. Washington has been pretty tough on tight ends, though, allowing just 6.5 yards per target to the position and one touchdown on the year.

With Dwayne Allen on the shelf with an injury, Jack Doyle has emerged as a bonafide tight end in fantasy. Seriously. In fact, through seven games he's the overall TE3 thanks to his league-leading four touchdowns at the position (tied with Martellus Bennett). Since Allen's injury in Week 6, Doyle leads the team in red-zone targets (five) and catches (four) and sits at second in targets (14) and yardage (131) in that span as well. With so many other pass-catchers banged up in Indianapolis, Doyle essentially serves as the No. 2 option for Andrew Luck and is a great start in fantasy regardless of the matchup.

Verdict: The Player Comparison Tool seems to be suffering from some midseason fatigue here, but no worries as that's what I'm here for. While it's great to see Eifert back and his touchdown upside is huge, fantasy owners need to stick with Doyle while Allen is out of the lineup. His target share both overall and in the red zone makes him too valuable to sit.

-- Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar