With six teams on bye and another roll of injuries to unpack, Week 8 looks like a tough slate on the surface. As usual, Wednesday’s practice news quickly changed the landscape as we barrel past the midway point of the fantasy season. Let’s run through the most pertinent situations fantasy owners care most about.
In a true shocker, C.J. Anderson (knee) is “expected to miss at least a few weeks” as he seeks a second opinion. Anderson went down early Monday Night with the injury, but quickly came back after missing just a few snaps. Apparently Anderson’s ailment lingered and is way more serious than originally believed. Rookie Devontae Booker is now locked into a monster role in HC Gary Kubiak’s run-heavy offense. At first glance, Booker is an obvious top-10 option this weekend against the Chargers’ solid, but not otherworldly run defense. San Diego is 16th in YPC allowed (4.08) but are conceding the 3rd most PPR points per running back touch (1.13). As a home-favorite, Booker should be fired up in both season-long and DFS lineups in Week 8.
Looking forward, Booker could legitimately be a season-winner in fantasy leagues. First of all, Booker and C.J. Anderson’s combined PPR output this season (21.25 points per game) amounts to the 4th best running back in fantasy football. While that data point doesn’t perfectly encompass the nuances of each player’s usage, the Broncos should be a bastion of fantasy excellence at running back. Their elite defense creates a unique blend of offensive leverage that is uncommon and Denver is the 8th most run-heavy unit in the league. Booker singularly soaking up 65-75 percent of Denver’s running back snaps and opportunities along with red-zone carries sets up perfectly for the stretch run towards the fantasy playoffs. Devontae Booker and C.J. Anderson have combined for 30 red-zone carries this season. Only one single running back (Melvin Gordon) has more.
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The Bills could have easily avoided their current predicament with star running back LeSean McCoy. Clearly hampered all week and during pre-game warm-ups with a hamstring injury, the Bills pushed McCoy to play in Week 7. He left the Bills’ date against the Dolphins early after gaining 11 yards on eight attempts. Unsurprisingly, McCoy did not practice on Wednesday in advance of their huge home matchup with the New England Patriots. McCoy is very questionable for Week 8.
Mike Gillislee — McCoy’s direct handcuff — was limited in practice on Wednesday with a foot injury. Should McCoy miss Week 8, Gillislee will be the Bills’ lead back against a Patriots’ front-seven that is playing fantastic run defense. Not only is New England 5th in FootballOutsiders’ Run Defense DVOA, they have permitted just three top-12 PPR weeks all season and each performance came against premier fantasy backs (David Johnson, LeSean McCoy and Le’Veon Bell). Gillislee will be on the RB2 radar on the Bills’ 3rd most run-heavy offense, but it should be noted he just barely out-snapped Reggie Bush in Week 7 (21:18).
The final major backfield to monitor for this week centers on Atlanta. Tevin Coleman (hamstring) looks highly questionable after he left the Falcons’ Week 7 matchup against the Chargers early. Freeman (hip) was limited on Wednesday, but the injury is not considered serious. As fantasy owners know well, Devonta Freeman is capable of handling a massive workload. In fact, Freeman handled 75-plus percent of Atlanta’s offensive snaps in 9-of-15 games and led the league in opportunities (attempts plus targets) per game (24.07) last season. Green Bay is the NFL’s best run defense to-date (3.17 YPC allowed), but they’ve played just one offense (Dallas) that ranks better than 24th in team rushing yards/game this season. As we see time and time again, usage monsters like David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy and now Ezekiel Elliott are immune to weekly matchups. With Coleman likely out, Freeman will be a top-5 option at home despite the poor paper draw.
In positive news, Donte Moncrief (shoulder) returned to a limited practice on Wednesday and is angling to play in Week 8 versus Kansas City. Moncrief has been out since Week 2 after fracturing his scapula in Denver. Without question, Moncrief’s return would be a welcome sight for fantasy football’s No. 4 QB in points/game, Andrew Luck. In his absence, Phillip Dorsett has been a massive disappointment and is now dealing with various injuries of his own (foot, hamstring). Keep in mind, the Colts are likely to be without TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) for a few weeks, too. In his lone full game this season, Donte Moncrief played 98% of the Colts’ snaps, drew 16% of Luck’s targets (7 total) and saw two red-zone targets. If he can play, Moncrief will likely be on some sort of a snap count, but he’ll be an every-week WR2 moving forward. Outside of matchups versus Minnesota in Week 11 and Seattle in Week 16, the Colts’ rest-of-season schedule looks fairly easy.
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Jordan Reed (concussion) expects to return in Week 8. We’ll see if he travels with the team to London on Thursday… Doug Martin (hamstring) is still not practicing. Jacquizz Rodgers is in line to get another spot-start against Oakland’s 7th worst defense (in PPR points/touch)… Marquise Goodwin (concussion) did not practice on Wednesday. Robert Woods (foot) returned to a limited practice… Delanie Walker (chest) is practicing in full ahead of TNF… Julius Thomas (ankle) is questionable for TNF against the Titans… Dion Lewis (ACL, patella) is “expected back” at practice this week… Eric Ebron (ankle, knee) and Theo Riddick (ankle) both returned to a limited practice on Wednesday. Lions’ RB Dwayne Washington (ankle) practiced in full… Michael Floyd (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday… Corey Coleman (hand) and Terrelle Pryor (hamstring) were both limited on Wednesday… Cody Kessler (concussion) did not practice on Wednesday. Josh McCown (collarbone) is practicing in full ahead of Week 8… Hunter Henry (concussion) was limited at Chargers’ practice on Wednesday… The Seahawks released RB C.J. Spiller… Lamar Miller (shoulder) was limited on Wednesday… Finally, Josh Norman (concussion, wrist) was limited on Wednesday.
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