The stark differences between fantasy football and real football were highlighted when Week 8 kicked off on Thursday night, with Blake Bortles turning in a garbage time performance for the ages as Jacksonville was stomped by Tennessee 36-22.
As the nation tuned in to another underwhelming AFC South matchup on Thursday night football, viewers found the Tennessee offense rolling at full throttle early in the game while Jacksonville looked largely disinterested throughout the first half. The Titans led 27-0 by intermission, led by an efficient outing from QB Marcus Mariota, who threw just four incomplete passes in 22 attempts for 270 yards and two scores. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry found success on the ground as well, combining for 183 yards on 37 carries, including a trip to the end zone for each back. Henry was given 20 touches on the night, more than he received in Tennessee’s last four games combined. The rookie running back was involved early in this game, and did take over the lead role briefly when DeMarco Murray scurried into the locker room with a foot injury. Murray later returned to the game with no visible issues and will continue to thrive as the lead back for Tennessee moving forward.
Blake Bortles turned in a downright awful performance on Thursday night, but the pass attempts that wobbled into the ground and sailed over the heads of Jacksonville receivers didn’t stop the Jacksonville quarterback from feasting in garbage time. Fantasy owners who started Bortles and were able to stomach watching his performance into the fourth quarter were rewarded with 337 passing yards and a trio of touchdowns. In a last minute drive that only a fantasy owner could love, Bortles peppered TE Ben Koyack with targets and finished off the drive by throwing a touchdown to none other than Bryan Walters with just one second left on the clock. Julius Thomas and Allen Hurns also snagged touchdowns in this game, with Hurns leading Jacksonville in receiving with 98 yards on seven grabs. Allen Robinson was targeted a team-high 15 times, although the targets were of varying levels of accuracy. Robinson managed to haul in just six passes for 70 yards on the night and remains a risky fantasy bet moving forward with Bortles’ struggles continuing.
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Jaguars at Titans Quick Slants
The Jacksonville running attack did nearly nothing in this game with Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon combining for 26 yards on seven carries. Yeldon did chip-in with 36 receiving yards on four catches however, and out-snapped Ivory 41-29 per Pro Football Focus. … Kendall Wright hauled in a long touchdown and finished with 84 yards on four catches, his second big game in three weeks. … Rookie Tajae Sharpe’s fade into the background continued as he caught his only target for 11 yards. … Delanie Walker was productive in this contest, catching four of five targets for 75 yards and would’ve likely had a bigger game if the Jaguars weren’t blown out early.
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In Other News…
The Denver backfield was officially handed to Devontae Booker on Thursday, as C.J. Anderson was placed on injured reserve after requiring a knee scope for the injury he suffered on Monday night. While this news is a gut punch for Anderson owners, proud owners of Devontae Booker have been handed a gift from the fantasy gods in the form of a RB1 for the stretch run. Booker has been stellar this season while running for nearly five yards per carry and will receive the lion’s share of the work in Denver’s backfield moving forward. Booker will also face a friendly schedule in coming weeks and should excel in the Denver offense that has attempted the seventh-most rushing attempts among NFL offenses in 2016.
The Dallas Cowboys will emerge from their Week 7 bye on Sunday with Dak Prescott under center, and the team will hand Prescott another start in Week 9 according to Ian Rapoport. It appears that Dallas will make a call in two weeks after the Cowboys’ matchup with Cleveland as to whether Tony Romo (back) will regain his starting role or not. Prescott has been solid through six games with seven touchdown passes and just one interception, but a change at the position is still a very real possibility.
USA Today reported that Dallas rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott was recently interviewed by the NFL regarding allegations of domestic violence made by his ex-girlfriend just before the start of the regular season. Elliott did not face criminal charges for the incident, but the NFL’s continued interest in the situation is certainly worth noting. Fantasy owners shouldn’t rush Elliott to the trading block, but anything is possible considering the NFL’s history of player punishment for off the field issues.
Russell Wilson (knee, pectoral) was limited at practice on Thursday but should be ready for Sunday’s cushy matchup against the Saints. … Lamar Miller (shoulder) practiced in limited fashion on Thursday and is in line to start on Sunday against Detroit. … LeSean McCoy (hamstring) missed practice again on Thursday and is in serious danger of missing Week 8. Fire up Mike Gillislee and don’t look back. … Randall Cobb (hamstring) was limited on Thursday and should be added to the weekend injury watch list. … Jamaal Charles (knee) turned in a limited effort on Thursday and is a dicey bet to play in Week 8, as Spencer Ware remains the man in Kansas City. … Jordan Reed (concussion) was cleared to travel with Washington to London for their Week 8 game and his playing status should be determined on Friday. … John Brown (hamstring) was limited while Michael Floyd (hamstring) missed Thursday’s practice in Arizona. Brown appears more likely than Floyd to play, but more news should surface on Friday. …Donte Moncrief (shoulder) was limited, but Phillip Dorsett (foot, hamstring) practiced in full on Thursday as the Colts try to get healthy at wide receiver. Moncrief’s Week 8 status should be announced over the weekend.
Eric Ebron (knee, ankle) and Theo Riddick (ankle) both practiced fully on Thursday and should be good to go in Week 8. … Ty Montgomery (illness) was limited on Thursday but should be safe to start on Sunday. … Hunter Henry (concussion) was a full participant in practice on Thursday and looks ready to play on Sunday against Denver. … Jeremy Langford (ankle) and Cameron Meredith (stomach) were both limited on Thursday and appear set to play on Monday night. … Matt Jones (knee) missed practice on Thursday and is in serious danger of missing Week 8. Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson will fill in if Jones sits. … Jerick McKinnon (ankle) didn’t practice and was seen in a walking boot on Thursday. Matt Asiata could be in for a sizeable workload on Monday if McKinnon is out. … Browns QB Josh McCown is now expected to start on Sunday for Cleveland with Cody Kessler hurting. … Cordarrelle Patterson (concussion) is in the NFL concussion protocol and should be monitored. … Dion Lewis (knee, PUP) practiced on Thursday and is moving closer to a return to the field. James White will continue to fill in until Lewis’ return.
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