Week Eight was abysmal for fantasy owners in the early going with scoring way down. The two-game afternoon slate changed that as the Seahawks and Texans set records in a high-scoring matchup. Here’s a summary of all of the import events of Sunday’s action.
The final London game of the season was won by the Vikings, but the winless Cleveland Browns put up a fight, maybe playing their best game of the season. The Browns led at halftime before being easily handled in the second half. Rookie QB DeShone Kizer drew the start after being benched last week and the good news was he did not turn the ball over, but he also failed to throw a touchdown. RB Isaiah Crowell played his best game of the season, breaking a long touchdown run for the first score of the game and finishing with 118 total yards as he led the Browns in both rushing and receiving. The Browns other RB Duke Johnson totaled just 43 yards before leaving the game with a possible concussion, though he did reportedly clear league protocol following the game. Johnson has a lengthy history of head injuries, so this is worth monitoring.
Vikings WR Stefon Diggs made his return to the field after missing two games, but was held to four receptions for 27 yards. His running mate, WR Adam Thielen, along with RB Jerick McKinnon each saw ten targets to lead the team. Thielen caught five for 98 yards and his first touchdown of the season, while McKinnon posted a 6/72 line, along with his 50 rushing yards and rushing touchdown. TE Kyle Rudolph also showed up with a 6/27/1 line, making him one of the top fantasy players at his position. After RB Latavius Murray had a nice game last week, he continues to see plenty of touches, carrying 19 times for only 39 yards.
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San Francisco- 10
The Eagles dominated a rainy game from the start as the 49ers avoided a shut out with ten late points. Second-year QB Carson Wentz couldn’t replicate his amazing production from last Monday night, but his 211 passing yards and two touchdowns in nasty conditions were nearly as impressive. The Eagles spread the ball around, with WR Alshon Jeffery breaking free for a 53-yard touchdown catch, making up the biggest chunk of his 2/62/1 stat line. Jeffery did catch just two of his eight targets, so the game could’ve been even more productive. TE Zach Ertz stayed hot with another touchdown reception, his sixth of the season, leading all tight ends. He’s now caught a touchdown in the past four games. Veteran RB LeGarrette Blount carried 16 times for 48 yards and a score and rookie RB Corey Clement also looked good with 54 yards on just ten carries. Surprisingly, RB Wendell Smallwood was not very involved with only two touches for 14 yards.
On the Niners side of the ball, there was little to get excited about. San Francisco suffered multiple injuries during the game, including the loss of both starting offensive tackles. Rookie RB C.J. Beathard made his second career start, throwing one touchdown and a pair of interceptions, along with 167 yards. He also led the team in rushing, which is not good news. RB Carlos Hyde totaled 47 yards in the game and rookie RB Matt Breida caught a 21-yard score and would lead the team in receiving with 39 yards. WR Pierre Garcon suffered a neck injury late in the first half and played sparingly after that. He caught just two passes for 17 yards. Rookie TE George Kittle caught two balls for 22 yards and should remain out of fantasy lineups moving forward. It appears that as long as Beathard is under center, no 49ers players will be fantasy viable.
Tampa Bay- 3
Another game impacted by the weather, though not as badly as some others, was the Panthers win over Tampa Bay. The Bucs and QB Jameis Winston barely put up as a fight, committing multiple turnovers and failing to find the end zone. Winston threw for 210 yards and a pair of interceptions and all of his key pass-catchers also performed below expectation. TE Cameron Brate led the way with a 4/64 line, while WRs Mike Evans (5/60) and DeSean Jackson (3/37) were held in check. After his breakout game a week ago, rookie TE O.J. Howard caught both of his targets for 16 yards. The Tampa running game never got going after the team fell behind and RB Doug Martin finished with an inefficient 71 yards on 18 carries, including a 22-yard run.
The Panthers almost won this game by default as QB Cam Newton underwhelmed as well. He finished with a 154/1/1 line and led the team in rushing with 44 yards. RB Christian McCaffrey caught five balls for 49 yards, leading the team in both categories. WRs Kelvin Benjamin (3/39/1) and Devin Funchess (2/11) made the least of ideal matchup against the struggling Tampa defense.
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New Orleans- 20
The Bears defense stepped up against QB Drew Brees and the Saints, but the QB Mitchell Trubisky led offense couldn’t get it done. Brees did throw for 299 yards, but couldn’t connect for a touchdown. Instead, it was once again the running game that carried the team as the Saints offense morphs before our eyes. RB Mark Ingram totaled 99 yards and a touchdown, while rookie RB Alvin Kamara put up 76 yards and a touchdown. WRs Michael Thomas (7/77) and Ted Ginn (2/68) stayed hot but their fantasy scoring was limited with the lack of touchdowns.
Rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky threw for a career-high 164 yards, but failed to throw for a touchdown for the second consecutive week. He did add 53 rushing yards, inflating his fantasy box score. The Bears were again carried by their running game. Starting RB Jordan Howard toted the ball 23 times for 102 scoreless yards and added three receptions for 19 yards. Rookie RB Tarik Cohen’s touches were limited, but he did score a touchdown after leaping over the line. The surprise receiving leader for the Bears was WR Tre McBride, who caught three deep passes and totaled 92 yards on the day. Veteran TE Zach Miller made a nice touchdown reception, but suffered a nasty leg injury on the play, which was later overturned. Dr. David Chao has speculated the injury, which he compared to that of Dallas LB Jaylon Smith, could be career-ending for the 33-year-old tight end.
NY Jets- 20
The New York Jets, projected by some to go winless on the season, continue to fight and claw their way and nearly pulled out another surprise win on Sunday. In the end though, the Falcons broke their three-game losing streak and finished out the victory. Neither offense was especially impressive in the sloppy conditions, but Falcons QB Matt Ryan was heavily bothered, losing multiple snaps to the Jets defense. Ryan finished with a respectable 254 yards and a pair of touchdowns, finding TE Austin Hooper and WR Mohamed Sanu. Star WR Julio Jones caught just three passes for 74 scoreless yards and RB Devonta Freeman also had a quiet day, totaling 61 yards against the Jets strong rush defense. Backup RB Tevin Coleman broke a couple of big plays, including a 52-yard rush and totaled 104 yards. Sanu has been impressive since returning from an injury and finished with a 6/74/1 stat line on the day.
Jets veteran QB Josh McCown continued to put up big numbers, throwing for 257 yards and a pair of scores. His top WR Robby Anderson enjoyed his best game of the season, catching all six targets for 104 yards and a touchdown. The backfield production was not there for the Jets as they tried to hang with the Falcons and RB Bilal Powell led the team with 14 carries for just 33 yards. Veteran RB Matt Forte had been trending up since returning from his injury, but saw only four carries. He did chip in with six receptions for 45 yards. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught all five targets, but for only 28 yards. WRs Jeremy Kerley and Jermaine Kearse gave the Jets some early season production, but have been bypassed and can be dumped in all fantasy leagues.
New England- 21
LA Chargers- 13
Fireworks were expected between two of the stronger offenses in the league as the Patriots hosted the Chargers, but the game ended up as a rather low-scoring affair with New England hanging on for the win. QB Tom Brady quietly amassed 333 passing yards and a touchdown to his TE Rob Gronkowski, who finished with five grabs for 57 yards. It was the Patriots backfield who did much of the work. RB Dion Lewis led the team in rushing with a 15/44 line, while RBs James White (5/85) and Rex Burkhead (7/68) were the two leading pass-catchers for Brady. WR Chris Hogan caught five passes for 60 yards but had to leave in the fourth-quarter with a shoulder injury. He’ll have an MRI, but the team reportedly doesn’t think the injury is serious. WR Brandin Cooks disappointed again, catching five passes for 26 yards.
The Chargers offense disappointed overall, considering they were facing the Patriots, already among the worst defenses in the league, but also having recently lost LB Dont’a Hightower. RB Melvin Gordon broke an 87-yard touchdown run to open the scoring, but the Chargers wouldn’t find the end zone again until the fourth quarter. He’d finish with 132 rushing yards, but was barely involved in the passing game. QB Philip Rivers, who had been on a hot streak, was somehow slowed by the Pats defense, finishing with 212 passing yards and a score, going to WR Travis Benjamin late in the game. Benjamin, who gave the Patriots a safety when he fielded a punt and retreated to the end zone, being tackled before he could escape, led the team with a 5/64/1 line. WR Keenan Allen (4/61), WR Tyrell Williams (1/24), TE Hunter Henry (2/11) and WR Mike Williams (1/7) all disappointed in a primo matchup.
The Raiders traveled cross country to face off with the strong Buffalo defense and it showed. Although QB Derek Carr posted a solid stat line of 313 passing yards and a touchdown, the Raiders faded after taking an early lead. WRs Michael Crabtree (5/83) and Amari Cooper (5/48) performed below expectation, considering the Bills were missing CB E.J. Gaines. Veteran starting RB Marshawn Lynch served his suspension after making contact with an official last Thursday and the Raiders pair of second-year backups DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard took over. Washington led the team with only 26 rushing yards, but saw ten targets in the pass game, catching eight for 62 yards and a touchdown. Richard also did the majority of his damage as a receiver, catching five passes for 35 yards, along with 21 rushing yards.
The Bills seemed intent on forcing WR Zay Jones to be productive this week, peppering him with early targets, but that stopped after the first half. Jones finished with three receptions for 32 yards, exceeding his production from the past two weeks combined. The Bills were actually led in receiving by former Raider Andre Holmes, who caught the only touchdown pass from QB Tyrod Taylor and finished with three catches for 51 yards. WR Jordan Matthews was forgettable, posting a 3/21 line. As usual, RB LeSean McCoy was the key cog in the Bills offense, rushing for 151 yards and a score and adding a 6/22 line as a receiver. Last week’s surprise receiving leader WR Deonte Thompson caught one pass for five yards.
An ugly back and forth game was won by the hometown Bengals, thanks to a defensive play late in the game. The Bengals offense struggled much of the game, especially the run game (in one of the easiest matchups they’ll face all season.) Rookie starter Joe Mixon dominated the touches, carrying the ball 11 times compared to six for RBs Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard combined, but he managed just 18 yards on those carries. Mixon did make an impact as a receiver, catching three passes for 91 yards to lead the team. Mixon’s 67-yard catch and run led to a touchdown for WR A.J. Green, who caught three passes for 27 yards. TE Tyler Kroft (5/46) remains a solid, yet low upside, replacement for injured starter Tyler Eifert. QB Andy Dalton pieced together a nice fantasy day, finishing with over 240 passing yards and two scores.
The story of the game for the Colts was TE Jack Doyle, who set new career high marks with 12 receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown. Doyle made up for WRs T.Y. Hilton (2/15) and Donte Moncrief (0/0), who were shut down by the Bengals defense. Rookie RB Marlon Mack made the most of his touches, scoring on a 24-yard catch and totaling 63 yards on the day.
It’s fair to call what we witnessed in Seattle the game of the year so far and for fantasy players, you probably needed a piece of this high-scoring affair to be successful in what was otherwise a low-scoring week around the NFL. The Seahawks and Texans, led by QBs Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson, traded blows all day long and the Seahawks put together a fast, game-winning drive with under two minutes remaining to seal the deal.
There is so much statistical goodness in this game that it deserves its own article, but Footballguys writer Adam Harstad summed it up well when he noted that entering the game, there were three occasions in NFL history in which a QB threw for 400 yards, four touchdowns and rushed for 30 yards. Both Watson and Wilson accomplished the feat in this game.
Watson finished with 402 passing yards, four passing touchdowns and led the team with 67 rushing yards. RB Lamar Miller rushed for 54 yards on 21 carries, but did score a touchdown, bolstering his fantasy stats. Rookie RB D’Onta Foreman didn’t even see a carry in the game, which is good news for Miller. WR DeAndre Hopkins (8/224/1) and Will Fuller (5/125/2) are both likely to finish the week among the top five fantasy receivers. Hopkins’ robust yardage is actually not a career high, which is possibly even more impressive. For Fuller, his amazing touchdown run continues as he now has 13 receptions on the season with seven going for touchdowns, which is tied for the league-lead. Of course, he’s tied with his teammate, Hopkins.
Wilson threw for 452 passing yards, a career-high by nearly 75 yards, and four touchdowns. Wilson also led his team in rushing with 30 yards. With no running game to speak of, Wilson will continue to rely on his arm to win games. He got all of his key pass-catchers involved. WR Tyler Lockett (6/121), WR Paul Richardson (6/105/2), WR Doug Baldwin (6/54) and TE Jimmy Graham (4/39/2) all contributed big stat lines and Wilson even hit big plays to RB Tre Madden (1/66) and WR Tanner McEvoy (1/53).
Once again, it was the Ezekiel Elliott show as the Cowboys star carried his team to a victory over the rival Redskins. Elliott, fresh off his dominating game against the 49ers last week, rushed for 150 yards on 33 carries, twice finding the end zone. The Cowboys needed every yard as the passing game and QB Dak Prescott had a season-low of 143 passing yards and failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time all year. As a result, the Dallas receivers were kept under wraps by Josh Norman and the Redskins defenders. WR Dez Bryant caught four passes for 39 yards, which was enough to lead the team.
For the Redskins, it was the same old story for the most part. TE Jordan Reed exited the game early with a hamstring injury, WR Terrelle Pryor was a complete non-factor, failing to catch his only target, WR Josh Doctson flashed but wasn’t consistent and the running game never got going. RB Chris Thompson totaled 94 yards and WR Jamison Crowder finally got going with a 9/123 line. QB Kirk Cousins threw for 263 yards and a touchdown, but threw a late interception that DB Byron Jones returned for the final score of the game. With Reed banged up once again, we could see veteran TE Vernon Davis make an impact in the coming weeks. On Sunday, Davis caught only two passes for 20 yards.
For much of the past couple of weeks, the story in Pittsburgh has centered on disgruntled WR Martavis Bryant, but Sunday night was all about his teammate, and potentially his replacement, rookie WR Juju Smith-Schuster. Earlier in the week, the former USC WR told all fantasy players to start him and he delivered, catching seven passes for 193 yards, including a team-record 97-yard touchdown reception. It is hard to overshadow WR Antonio Brown, who caught five passes for 70 yards, but Juju did it. RB Le’Veon Bell quietly totaled 81 yards and QB Ben Roethlisberger had one of his best games of the season, throwing for 317 yards and that long score.
The Lions couldn’t get anything going, other than a whopping five field goals from K Matt Prater. QB Matthew Stafford did set a new season high with 423 yards, but failed to throw a touchdown. In fact, this is the only the seventh time in NFL history a QB has thrown for more than 400 yards without a touchdown pass, and Stafford now has two of those games. RB Ameer Abdullah once again flopped, rushing 11 times for 27 yards and pass-catching RB Theo Riddick failed to make an impact either, totaling 45 yards. WR Golden Tate returned earlier than expected and made seven grabs for 86 yards, but WR Marvin Jones led the team with 128 yards on six receptions. WR T.J. Jones (4/88) and TE Eric Ebron (2/58) chipped in with solid production, as well. Ebron is at the center of trade rumors as the deadline approaches.
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