There are six teams on bye (Arizona, Green Bay, Jacksonville, LA Rams, NY Giants, and Tennessee), but we still have a bunch of news to get to in Thursday’s Dose. As always, check out Rich Hribar’s Worksheet for your TNF fantasy needs (even though the game looks like a stinker).
In the meantime, let’s hit the news.
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Oddly enough, there is apparently a lot of receiver news to track in Week 8. We’ll kick it off with a situation that went from bad to worse in a matter of hours in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
The Steelers are apparently sick of Martavis Bryant’s complaining on social media. After weeks of discontent over not seeing enough targets and being essentially demoted to a role player, Martavis Bryant will be inactive in Week 8 in Detroit. Whew. That escalated quickly. Look, Bryant can lament his playing time and demand a trade all he wants, but the simple fact remains that he is still on a rookie deal and missed an entire year of football in 2016. Pittsburgh has all of the leverage here — and they are using it.
So, without Bryant, what can we expect? Even though he was getting phased out of Pittsburgh’s offensive attack, Martavis Bryant‘s absence opens up 15% share of team targets and 26% of the Steelers’ air yards. It remains to be seen if 20-year-old rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster stays in the slot — he’s run 70% of his routes there this year (per PFF) — but Bryant’s vacated 5.14 targets per game at least puts Smith-Schuster on the fantasy radar. The Steelers are 51% run-heavy over their past three games, and Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell comprise 55% of the Steelers’ target share, but Smith-Schuster has a realistic shot at 5-8 targets in Week 8 without Bryant. On a slate without six teams, Smith-Schuster is an attractive WR3/4 punt in Detroit.
In a little more positive news, DeVante Parker returned to a limited practice all week, but he remains questionable for Week 8 on TNF. He’s likely a game-time decision. Without Parker for basically three games — he only played three snaps in Week 5 — Jarvis Landry has owned a massive role. In Parker’s absence, Landry has handled 36% of Miami’s targets and 40% of their air yards. What’s more, Landry has four targets inside of the opponent’s’ 10-yard line (red-zone) this year, three of which have come without Parker. Last year, Landry had just two inside-ten targets all year. If Parker plays in Week 8, Landry will return to his still voluminous but less involved red-zone role. For what it’s worth, Landry saw a 31% target share with Matt Moore as the starter in 2016 while Parker (20%) and Kenny Stills (21%) effectively split passing looks.
Somewhat surprisingly, Golden Tate (shoulder) returned to practice on Wednesday. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport mentioned that Tate could “miss multiple weeks” heading into Detroit’s Week 7 bye, but that appears to at least be a 50/50 proposition for now. Tate sprained his AC joint back in Week 6 against New Orleans, did not return to the game and reportedly had his arm in a sling over the weekend. Still, even if Tate can go, this is a torturous matchup for Lions’ receivers as Pittsburgh has allowed the league’s fewest receiving YPG (88.4) to the position. In fact, the Steelers have allowed a total of three top-24 (WR2 or better) performances to enemy wideouts in their last six games. Tate will likely be a game-time decision on SNF, making him a total boom-or-bust play.
Stefon Diggs (groin) is traveling with the Vikings to London and has a “good chance” to play Week 8 against the Browns. However, there is a glaring hangup. The Vikings have a bye in Week 9 and should, in theory, be able to take care of business with ease against Cleveland this week. If the Vikes decide to rest Diggs against the Browns, he will have seen a full month of rest coming off of his groin injury heading into Week 10. Should the Vikings continue to play it safe with Diggs, Adam Thielen will remain a target monster. Over the past two years, Thielen’s weekly targets without Diggs in the lineup are as follows: 8 > 11 > 1 > 13 > 12. Even with the one target dud in Week 17 last year, Thielen has averaged 9.0 targets per game with Diggs out of the lineup. Meanwhile, no team is allowing more PPR points per target to opposing wideouts than Cleveland.
TNF Quick Hits
The Ravens’ injury report is a mess. Terrance West (calf) is out, while Jeremy Maclin (shoulder), Mike Wallace (concussion), Ben Watson (knee) and Breshad Perriman (concussion) are all questionable. Wallace, Watson and Perriman are all major question-marks for TNF. At press-time, it’s truly anyone’s guess who will play at receiver and tight end for Baltimore on Thursday night, but Maclin at least seems to have a decent chance at playing after practicing on Tuesday.
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Offensive Quick Hits
Emmanuel Sanders (ankle) didn’t practice Wednesday. … Charles Clay (knee) still isn’t practicing. … Michael Thomas (knee) didn’t practice on Wednesday. … The Eagles placed LT Jason Peters (knee) on injured reserve, ending his season. … After holding out, Texans LT Duane Brown has a “good chance” to play this week. … Shocker: C.J. Prosise (ankle) didn’t practice on Wednesday. …
Defensive Quick Hits
Browns DE Myles Garrett was placed in the league’s concussion protocol. … Texans signed LB Jelani Jenkins. … The Bucs placed DE Noah Spence on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, ending his season. … Luke Kuechly (concussion) practiced in full Wednesday. … Broncos’ HC Vance Joseph said OLB Shane Ray (wrist, I.T.) will return and start Week 8 against the Chiefs. … Josh Norman (ribs) remained limited at Wednesday’s practice. … Raiders CB David Amerson (foot, shoulder) didn’t practice on Wednesday. … 49ers MLB Reuben Foster (ankle, ribs) was limited at Wednesday’s practice. … Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore (ankle, concussion) returned to a limited practice on Wednesday. LB Dont’a Hightower (shoulder) has already been ruled out for Week 8.
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