Fantasy Football: Week 8 Sunday wrap

·12 min read

New England Patriots @ Los Angeles Chargers

The teams managed 51 total points, but both Justin Herbert (-16.4 CPOE) and Mac Jones (-11) struggled mightily Sunday, as coaches Brandon Staley and Bill Belichick had impressive defensive game plans. Tight man coverage confused Herbert, who’s experienced serious third-down regression over his last two games. A late touchdown strike to rookie Josh Palmer saved Herbert’s fantasy day from being a true disaster, but it’s safe to expect the star QB to bounce back soon.

Austin Ekeler pushed in an impressive goal-line score while playing through a hip injury and saw 10 targets, as few fantasy players have been more reliable this season … Damien Harris countered with 80 rushing yards and a score, but his 3.5 YPC looks awfully disappointing against the league’s premier run-funnel defense that entered ranked last in DVOA. Harris had a 25-yard TD run and another long gain both nullified by penalties, so he was better than his box score indicates. Harris is legit, and the Pats are starting to look dangerous, but his schedule moving forward (including @Car, Cle, BuffX2, Ind) doesn’t appear ideal … Jakobi Meyers saw nine more targets without scoring a touchdown, but he humorously grabbed his league-leading second two-point conversion of the season.

Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen somehow both struggled (5.9 YPA) against a Miami secondary that’s playing far better now that they're healthy, yet also finished as fantasy’s No. 1 QB in Week 8. It’s a testament to his usage … It’s tough to get excited about either Buffalo fantasy back … No Dawson Knox somehow led to zero catches for Emmanuel Sanders in a game Allen attempted 42 passes … Tua Tagovailoa wasn’t any good but faced the league’s best pass defense on the road while dealing with a terrible offensive line. Jaylen Waddle was quiet but saw 12 more targets despite DeVante Parker returning and will be a solid PPR start next week at home versus Houston.

Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons

While many in DFS pivoted Sunday morning to Kyle Pitts and/or Russell Gage with the surprising Calvin Ridley inactive news, the two Atlanta pass catchers responded by combining for 13 yards. Gage wasn’t even targeted. As ugly as it looked Sunday (against a strong Carolina secondary that saw Stephon Gilmore record a pick during his Carolina debut), the Ridley news should still be considered huge for Pitts, who has a strong argument as fantasy’s No. 1 tight end moving forward despite Sunday’s dud … Cordarrelle Patterson’s fantasy value also gets a legitimate bump with Ridley’s availability in question … The Panthers won, but Sam Darnold remained a huge problem (-14.4 CPOE) before leaving concussed (in his defense Carolina also committed numerous drops). DJ Moore entered top-10 in expected fantasy points yet the WR50 over the last month and continued to underperform. He’d be looking at even more extreme volume should Robby Anderson take time recovering from Sunday’s vicious hit

Philadelphia Eagles @ Detroit Lions

While Jalen Hurts had been getting an overwhelming amount of his fantasy points in the fourth quarter, he was pulled for Gardner Minshew during Sunday’s final quarter thanks to a blowout. The Eagles somehow scored 38 points with Hurts, new popular fantasy starter Kenneth Gainwell, and DeVonta Smith all failing to score a single touchdown (and Hurts threw for only 103 yards). Boston Scott and Jordan Howard combined for four rushing scores during an infuriating fantasy game, as D’Andre Swift also lost a fumble and was completely shut down against an Eagles defense that entered allowing the third-most fantasy points to RBs. Swift was another failed DFS pivot on Sunday morning, as he became more popular with the surprise news that Jamaal Williams was inactive.

Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts

A.J. Brown predictably went off against DVOA’s No. 1 run defense and without Julio Jones, while Michael Pittman saw 15 targets even with T.Y. Hilton back and looks like a top-20 fantasy WR moving forward. Facing a Tennessee defense allowing the most fantasy points to receivers, Pittman had two TD catches halfway through the first quarter Sunday … In a matchup featuring the NFL’s best running back and also Derrick Henry, the latter got banged up at one point and struggled against the league’s best run defense. Unfortunately, Henry's injury turned out to be more serious than expected, taking away one of football's best players for the foreseeable future, if not the rest of the season. Jonathan Taylor, meanwhile, topped 120 yards from scrimmage and had another 75 rushing yards called back by holding penalties in the first half alone … Carson Wentz followed up his pick-six late in the fourth quarter with another brutal interception in overtime

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Los Angeles Rams @ Houston Texans

Matthew Stafford continues to make it look easy, and his 300-yard, three-TD game Sunday included him sitting the fourth quarter … Assuming his ankle injury isn’t serious, Van Jefferson has emerged as a flex option … Robert Woods had a couple of bad drops Sunday … Detective Davis Mills turned in a garbage-time special (the Texans scored all 22 of their points over the final 8:10), but Brandin Cooks’ fantasy managers certainly aren’t complaining (and hopefully Tyrod Taylor is back in Week 9) … David Johnson’s first game as Houston’s supposed feature back with Mark Ingram traded resulted in three touches for three yards. Yikes … With the line closing at -16.5 points at some places, the Texans pulled off quite an impressive backdoor cover (Stafford sat with LAR leading 38-0).

The Rams would be clear favorites during some years, but the NFC is loaded right now.

Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Jets

Magic Mike White became just the second QB in NFL history to throw for 400+ yards during his first career start, finishing as fantasy’s No. 3 QB this week while helping the Jets upset the heavily favored Bengals despite three turnovers and a missed field goal. Cincinnati was in a trap spot playing its third straight road game and coming off a huge win over Baltimore, but White nonetheless shredded a Bengals defense that entered ranked No. 5 in DVOA. Both of White’s picks were tipped by his receivers, and he lost a chance at another TD while missing a red-zone trip in the medical tent (he’d return). White was missing New York’s WR1 Corey Davis yet was a massive upgrade (11.1 CPOE) over Zach Wilson … As expected, Michael Carter was a big beneficiary of White’s love of checking down, as his 14 targets were the second-most in the NFL this week. The rookie back is suddenly a must fantasy start moving forward.

New York Jets quarterback Mike White
Mike White delivered a startling performance in Week 8. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

As someone who fought against using the Bengals in Survivor this week, this two-point conversion was a thing of beauty ... The Jets hadn’t recorded a single interception all season until picking off Joe Burrow with less than five minutes remaining Sunday. Ja’Marr Chase dropped a touchdown, while Tee Higgins made a terrific grab ... Arguably the best catch of the week was eventually overturned in a wild game that was partially decided by a totally ridiculous helmet-to-helmet penalty

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns

This was a mostly disastrous fantasy matchup, with Nick Chubb losing a touchdown to D’Ernest Johnson and Odell Beckham Jr. continuing to look droppable. Ben Roethlisberger countered by checking down to the 12-yard line on a two-point conversion attempt (the Steelers were forced to play without a kicker after Chris Boswell was rocked earlier in the game) … It wasn’t all bad, as Pat Freiermuth had a fantastic touchdown catch ... Najee Harris putting up 120 YFS and a score against Cleveland’s pass-funnel defense is impressive.

San Francisco 49ers @ Chicago Bears

The Bears entered getting the fewest yards per play in the NFL and with just three passing touchdowns on the season but ran like crazy Sunday, including Justin Fields eclipsing 100 rushing yards, highlighted by this amazing play on fourth down. Khalil Herbert left hurt at one point but returned and remained Chicago’s clear feature back (albeit with less success this time). Allen Robinson remains rostered in 85% of Yahoo leagues, but there’s no reason for him to be at this point … A big second half from Jimmy Garoppolo (including two TD runs) means fantasy managers will have to continue to wait on Trey Lance, who should clearly be rostered in more than 21% of Yahoo leagues right now. The 49ers get the Cardinals and Rams (combined 13-1 when not facing each other) over the next two weeks at Levi’s Stadium, where they are 1-10 over the last 11 home games. Jimmy G finished with an ugly -4.7 CPOE during Sunday’s win (Fields was +4.8).

Kyle Shanahan has been one of the league’s worst fourth-down decision-makers over the last few years and elected to kick an extra point up 29-22 with six minutes left in Sunday’s game; just absolutely brutal … Deebo Samuel shook off two drops on the opening drive and finished with another big game, with this play in particular adding to his already league-leading yards after the catch.

Elijah Mitchell had the most fourth-quarter rushing yards (92) in any game in the NFL this season during an impressive performance against a Bears defense missing Khalil Mack (they got Robert Quinn and Akiem Hicks back Sunday). As SF’s clear feature back (and with the injury and the team’s bye behind him), Mitchell has run for 244 yards (6.8 YPC) over the last two weeks (one matchup was against DVOA’s No. 1 run defense) and suddenly has a real argument as the best waiver wire pickup of the year. The 49ers will soon get elite run blocker George Kittle back and face Atl, @Ten, Hou during the fantasy playoffs, and Lance could very well be opening up huge lanes by then too (and may even target Mitchell).

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Seattle Seahawks

Nice to see DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett producing, and they could get Russell Wilson back after Seattle’s upcoming bye. The week off could also help get Alex Collins healthier, and he looks like the Seahawks’ lead back down the stretch with Chris Carson likely out for the season … James Robinson suffering an early injury was tough, but Jamal Agnew leading the team with 12 targets was also a problem. I’m beginning to think Urban Meyer may be in over his head … Dan Arnold should be treated as a clear top-12 fantasy tight end moving forward … Laviska Shenault can’t be used in fantasy leagues even with DJ Chark out … Geno Smith set an NFL-season high for consecutive completions Sunday and badly outplayed Trevor Lawrence.

Washington Football Team @ Denver Broncos

Facing a Washington defense that entered allowing the most passing touchdowns and fantasy points to QBs (which is wild, after being drafted as a top fantasy D), no Broncos pass catcher saw even five targets, as the return of Jerry Jeudy and Albert Okwuegbunam did no favors to Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant. With an evenly split backfield and the league’s second-slowest pace in neutral situations, Denver is looking like a frustrating fantasy situation … Antonio Gibson is supposedly recovered from his shin injury, which makes Sunday’s performance even more discouraging. He can’t be trusted in fantasy lineups right now. Meanwhile, rookie Jaret Patterson needs to be added after leading the team in carries Sunday, while J.D. McKissic has become a must-start in PPR … Every Chris Blewitt missed field goal felt like a foregone conclusion.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints

After recently highlighting Daniel Jones as my prediction of the week only to see him get badly concussed, this week I featured Jameis Winston as my favorite fantasy sleeper ...

New Orleans got some truly barbaric QB play from Trevor Siemian at times, but he was competent enough to pull off the upset. Still, with Winston's season over, a move to Siemian is a fantasy downgrade for Alvin Kamara and company. However, Taysom Hill (concussion) is expected to be cleared for Week 9 and should be added in all fantasy leagues (just 2% rostered in Yahoo). New Orleans has an elite OL, and his rushing gives him big fantasy upside (and he’ll eventually get Michael Thomas back).

Tom Brady threw a late pick-six while trying to win the game, but he got no help from TB’s running game and finished with another monster fantasy line. Chris Godwin benefitted from Antonio Brown and later Rob Gronkowski being out, but Mike Evans was mostly shut down by Marshon Lattimore once again. Brady admittedly overthrew him when open on a would-be 55-yard touchdown, and Evans also got him for a nice TD catch.

Dallas Cowboys @ Minnesota Vikings

No Dak Prescott turned a game that opened with this week’s highest over/under into a defensive struggle, with Cooper Rush having a much better fantasy (and real-life) game than Kirk Cousins despite making his first career start on the road against a rested Minnesota defense that entered leading the league in pressure rate. The highlight was a 73-yard touchdown to Cedric Wilson, but both Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb finished with nice fantasy stats as well. All Cowboys will see a fantasy boost with Prescott likely to return soon and three of the next four games coming at home (and the other against a Kansas City defense allowing the most yards per play in the NFL).

The Cowboys defense is playing well this season, but this was another primetime game in which Cousins failed (5.3 YPA). It’s not a narrative I’ve paid attention to, but Sunday night didn’t help fight the stigma with Cousins, who had an average depth of target of just 4.5 yards that would rank last this season. His fantasy managers certainly didn’t like that … Fantasy stars Ezekiel Elliott, Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson all failed to score, with the latter hobbling off at one point.

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