Having seized control of the Colts’ backfield since returning in Week 6, Marlon Mack has a gorgeous draw in a tanking Raiders defense allowing 4.73 yards per carry and 132 rushing yards per game. For his part, Mack has posted a 6.94 YPC over the past two weeks, both ripping long runs and methodically moving the chains. A sizzling 11 of Mack’s 19 Week 7 carries went for five or more yards. With the Colts gaining momentum and the Raiders in complete disarray, Mack has a perfect RB1 storm for Week 8.    


Week 8 Quarterbacks


QB Notes: Although all five of Patrick Mahomes’ interceptions have come over his past three starts, it’s a period in which he finished as the QB1 by total points. Mahomes has not been held below 300 yards passing since Week 1. He’s a young Aaron Rodgers. … Speaking of Rodgers, his 867 yards over the past two weeks are by far his most ever over a two-game span. Bad game flows and the lack of a running game are to “blame.” Both should remain a theme for a road contest where the Packers are heavy 9.5-point underdogs against the Rams. That, of course, is great for fantasy. … Opposing Rodgers will be Jared Goff, who has just three scores over his past three starts. Although Goff will again be missing security blanket Cooper Kupp (knee), he remains impossible to fade in the league’s most unstoppable offense. Some of Todd Gurley’s touchdowns should begin going Goff’s way, and there figures to be a lot of them in a contest with a 56.5 over/under. … Rested coming off the Steelers’ bye, Ben Roethlisberger has a home matchup with a Browns defense that’s been on the field for 34 more plays than any other unit.

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Now up to QB10 status by average points, Andrew Luck is the QB6 over the past three weeks and QB4 over the past five. Last week’s Bills pulverizing curtained what could have been a five- or six-score day. Allowing a league-worst 9.0 yards per pass attempt, the Raiders are a delectable matchup. … Kirk Cousins has just three touchdowns and 474 yards over his past two starts. Impenetrable on the ground, the Saints are surrendering the third-most quarterback fantasy points. New addition Eli Apple is not going to turn that around in one week. … If ever there was a “the only risk is this player’s team gets up too big, too quickly” game, it’s Tom Brady against the Bills on Monday Night Football. … Jameis Winston has as many interceptions as passing touchdowns (four) since returning as starter two games ago, though he’s averaged 380 yards in the process. He’s predictably taken to the air raid. The Bengals are quietly coughing up over 300 weekly passing yards.


Playing through rib and lung issues, Deshaun Watson has had the quietest two-start stretch of his career. Both his passing and rushing production have cratered. Allowing 8.3 yards per attempt and 269 weekly passing yards, the Dolphins could help revive Watson on a short week. … No team has permitted fewer quarterback fantasy points than the Ravens, but their 112 QB rushing yards allowed is 13th worst. Cam Newton has posted at least two scores every week since the opener. … Andy Dalton face planted as only Andy Dalton could in last week’s golden matchup with the Chiefs. He gets an immediate do-over in the Bucs, who continue to hemorrhage the most quarterback fantasy points. … Merely the QB9 by average points, Drew Brees is headed on the road to Minnesota. He has just five passing scores in three games away from the Superdome. Of note for Week 8 is Xavier Rhodes’ (ankle) health. … Mitchell “Don’t Call Me Mitch” Trubisky now has three-straight 300-yard games to his name, though last week wasn’t exactly pretty. Trubisky’s “big game” against the Patriots underscores the difference between “real life” and fantasy. Be that as it may, he has a “stay hot” spot in the Jets’ banged up defense.


The Jaguars are once again allowing the league’s fewest passing yards, but as Week 6 Dak Prescott can attest, they have not been the “avoid at all costs” unit they were in 2017. A white-hot Carson Wentz remains in play as an upside QB2. … The QB19 by average points, Matthew Stafford is posting a modest 267/2 on a weekly basis. … Russell Wilson hasn’t attempted more than 26 passes since Week 2. That makes QB1 days hard to come by. The Lions have been stingier through the air than on the ground. … Baker Mayfield has graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 9 overall quarterback but is just the QB27 by average points. His awful supporting cast is to blame. Perhaps he will pop against a Steelers D allowing the fourth-most QB fantasy points. … Case Keenum will be facing the Chiefs’ bottom-three pass defense. So far the only QBs to fail to take advantage of Bob Sutton’s unit are Andy Dalton and … Case Keenum. Keenum produced 245 scoreless yards in Week 4. With both his running game and receiver corps playing well, Keenum deserves a QB2 mulligan.


Joe Flacco has found the middle ground between floor and ceiling essentially every week. He’s a plug-and-play QB2 with little upside. … Derek Carr comes off bye to a team in chaos. His leadership is being questioned, and his weapons traded away. He’s more likely to bust than shock the Week 8 world. … Alex Smith has been simply pathetic, generating eight total scores in six starts. If you’re looking for some reason to play him in two-quarterback leagues, the return of Chris Thompson doesn’t hurt. … A true turnover machine, C.J. Beathard offers enough big-play ability to stay on the radar in two-quarterback formats. … Eli Manning is going to have a hard time building on Week 7’s 399-yard day against the Keepaway Redskins. … Just remember with Blake Bortles: If you get benched once, you will get benched twice. … Byron Leftwich’s promotion to offensive coordinator is the best possible news for Josh Rosen, though Leftwich’s first order of business will likely be sparking David Johnson and the running game. A Bruce Arians disciple, Leftwich could have Rosen whipped into QB2 shape by the end of the year.


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Week 8 Running Backs


RB Notes: Todd Gurley is on pace for 32 total touchdowns, which would be a new single-season record. … Doing more damage on the ground, catching more passes and scoring more touchdowns, Kareem Hunt has piled up 595 yards from scrimmage over his past four appearances. Now he gets a Broncos defense allowing over five yards per carry and nearly 150 yards per game. Hunt is both a floor and upside play for Week 8. … With Le’Veon Bell nowhere in sight, James Conner gets another afternoon as lead back against the Browns’ bottom-five run defense. Conner headed into the Steelers’ Week 7 bye with 314 yards from scrimmage over his past two games. … Saquon Barkley was finally held below 100 yards from scrimmage in Week 7, though he still managed 94 while finding the end zone and catching nine passes. His concern for Week 8 is a Redskins offense that has dominated time of possession. … Coming off his least-productive game of the season, Joe Mixon gets a pick-me-up matchup in a Bucs D missing Gerald McCoy (calf). The Bucs can score points, but game flow will not get away from the Bengals the way it did against the Chiefs.  


With Sony Michel (knee) week to week, the Patriots’ plans at running back are murky. Will Kenjon Barner be paired with James White? Or will Kenneth Farrow be promoted from the practice squad? What is clear is that White will lead in touches while the game is in doubt against the Bills. Hopefully that is long enough for White to get RB1 numbers. … David Johnson has the same bad teammates but will no longer have the same bad offensive coordinator. Bruce Arians acolyte Byron Leftwich has replaced clueless Mike McCoy. When the Cardinals kick off against the 49ers, Leftwich will have had 10 days to figure out how to get Johnson out in space and feature him as a pass catcher. A bottom-10 defense by running back fantasy points allowed, the 49ers are a great spot to unveil “new David.” … One game after getting out-touched 18-9 by Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara won the battle 19-14 in Week 7. Both players caught two passes and received goal-line looks. I expect Kamara to win more often than not, but I will hedge the situation against the Vikings’ stout ground defense.   


With Royce Freeman battling a high-ankle sprain, it will be full steam ahead for Phillip Lindsay against a Chiefs defense silver plattering over five yards per carry and the third-most running back fantasy points. Lindsay’s lowest YPC for an individual game is 4.50. … Nick Chubb delivered in his Week 7 start, rushing the rock 18 times for 80 yards and a score. 20 will be his weekly touch over/under for the Browns’ desperate offense. … Christian McCaffrey continues to play every snap but is averaging a modest 80 yards from scrimmage over his past three games. It will be hard to get that number up against the Ravens’ forbidding run defense. … Adrian Peterson has looked surprisingly springy despite playing through a variety of injuries, turning 41 Weeks 6-7 carries into 196 yards (4.78 YPC). Those big days came with Chris Thompson on the shelf. Thompson is tentatively expected back against the Giants. Alex Smith‘s favorite pass catcher will be a low-end FLEX. … Kerryon Johnson roughed up the Dolphins in Week 7 but still ceded 10 carries and a touchdown to LeGarrette Blount. Keeping Johnson on the RB1/2 borderline against the Seahawks is Theo Riddick’s (knee) expected absence.


Latavius Murray has finally found a rhythm, rushing 39 times for 224 yards (5.74 YPC) for three touchdowns over the past two weeks. He would be an RB1 for Week 8 if not for a matchup with the Saints’ genuinely elite run D. … Tarik Cohen out-gained Jordan Howard for the third-straight game in Week 7, out-touching him for the second time in three weeks. Cohen has emerged as Mitchell Trubisky’s favorite receiver, catching 22 passes in that timespan. The Jets have been permissive to enemy backs through the air. Although he’s averaged 12 carries during Cohen’s takeover, Howard has become completely touchdown dependent. … One of the league’s most underappreciated players, Bilal Powell has received the awful news that his career is in doubt because of his neck injury. Isaiah Crowell gets a massive opportunity in Powell’s absence, though the Jets will likely keep a two-man backfield, with rookie Trenton Cannon mixing in to catch passes and change the pace. Crowell will have monster games down the stretch, but the Bears are not vulnerable on the ground. They have yet to surrender a rushing score. … Fresh off a random revival, Lamar Miller gets a Dolphins defense allowing the second-most running back fantasy points on a short week.


Chris Carson is ceding a non-trivial amount of work to his backups but is still decisively winning the touch war. The Lions have added Damon Harrison to address their soft run defense but are not going to transform into a stay-away matchup overnight. … With Albert Wilson (hip) and Kenny Stills (groin) on the shelf, Kenyan Drake should be force fed passing-game looks, upping both his floor and ceiling. … Coach Jon Gruden has said Doug Martin will slide right into Marshawn Lynch’s bell-cow role. Sadly, we believe him. 29-year-old Martin is averaging 2.99 yards per carry since the start of the 2016 season. Expect Jalen Richard to catch plenty of passes for a team adjusting to life without Amari Cooper. … The Jaguars did not acquire Carlos Hyde to sit on the bench, but T.J. Yeldon is still the touch favorite. Hyde’s presence has downgraded Yeldon from mid-range RB2 to borderline RB2/FLEX. … Will Matt Breida (ankle) finally miss a game? If he does, Raheem Mostert has demonstrated that he possesses far more upside than Alfred Morris. … Even if LeSean McCoy (concussion) gets cleared, he will be facing some of the worst game script of his career. … If Peyton Barber (ankle) sits, Ronald Jones will be a top-30 option. …. Believe things have changed with Aaron Jones when you see it.             


Week 8 Receivers


WR Notes: Adam Thielen’s 89 targets are seven more than anyone else in football. Although they have added Eli Apple to address the problem, no team is permitting more receiver fantasy points than the Saints. … Antonio Brown was looking more like himself before the Steelers’ bye. After averaging 68 yards per game and 9.38 yards per catch in Weeks 1-4, Brown spiked those numbers to 103/18.73 in Weeks 5-6. … Being force fed the ball, A.J. Green is averaging 7/105 over his past three contests. The Bucs’ league-worst defense does not have an answer for that. … An indefensible Tyreek Hill would have posted his second-straight 7/100 game in Week 7 if not for a mind-numbing 35-yard touchdown drop. As it is, Hill is the WR2 by average points in standard, WR3 in .5 PPR and WR4 in PPR. … Odell Beckham has caught at least six passes in five-straight games, and 6-of-7 on the year. He will not be shadowed by nemesis Josh Norman against the Redskins. … DeAndre Hopkins is coming off his slowest two-game stretch since Weeks 5 and 6 of last season. Keke Coutee’s (hamstring) absence enhances Hopkins’ outlook against Xavien Howard.


Davante Adams went bonkers in the two games before the Packers’ bye, catching 19 balls for 272 yards and three touchdowns. He could be hard pressed to keep up that insane pace with both Geronimo Allison and Randall Cobb appearing likely to return against the Rams’ disappointing pass defense. … Robert Woods has cleared 75 yards in six-straight games. He’s a usage monster with added upside while Cooper Kupp (knee) is on the shelf. … Michael Thomas has cooled considerably since his epic start, averaging 5/63 over his past three appearances. His Week 8 fortunes will depend on Xavier Rhodes’ (ankle) health. … Brandin Cooks has not hit 70 yards since Week 4. That should change against a Packers defense getting stung for a host of long receptions. … With Antonio Brown set to occupy Denzel Ward’s attention, JuJu Smith-Schuster will be well positioned to go over 100 yards against the Browns for the second time this season. … Fresh off dusting the Browns for 7/107, Mike Evans has an excellent setup against a Bengals defense that has struggled to contain No. 1 wideouts.


The WR7 by average points in .5 PPR over the past three weeks, Emmanuel Sanders should stay hot against the burnable Chiefs. … Stefon Diggs has just 66 yards on 20 targets over his past two games and could see a heavy dose of Marshon Lattimore against the Saints. Bet on the usage but hedge the matchup. … T.Y. Hilton caught only four passes in his Week 7 return, but two of them ended up in the end zone. We know all about Hilton’s career home/road splits, but the Raiders are an upside spot. … Jarvis Landry is second in the league in targets (82) but a shocking WR30 by average points in .5 PPR. He did show signs of life in Week 7, catching a season-high 10 passes on 15 looks. … Tyler Boyd has come back down to earth with only 14 catches for 133 yards over his past three games. It’s a slump the Bucs could easily bust. … Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay had quiet post-bye performances as the Lions’ running game throttled the Dolphins. Golladay did have a 13-yard score called back by penalty. The Seahawks have remained excellent against the pass, meaning it could be more of a floor than ceiling week.


John Brown shook his mini slump with his biggest game of the season against the Saints. The NFL’s air yards leader should boom more than he busts. … As Evan Silva points out in his Matchups column, Will Fuller’s production has taken a hit with Keke Coutee’s healthy emergence. With Coutee on the shelf in Week 7, Fuller immediately came back to life. Coutee is sidelined for Week 8. … Turning into a 100 percent snap player, Josh Gordon has also earned Tom Brady’s trust. What had seemed like a long shot — Gordon finally rediscovering his game as a Patriot — is now happening before our very eyes. … If Sunday is Demaryius Thomas’ final game as a Bronco, it couldn’t come in a better matchup. It’s worth noting Thomas went just 4/24 against the Chiefs in Week 4, and Andy Reid’s defense has had success against lesser quarterbacks. … A slowly-reviving Doug Baldwin will avoid Darius Slay in the slot. … Julian Edelman has yet to display 2018 upside but is keeping his floor nice and tidy. … Alshon Jeffery has been flashing some serious old man strength since returning from his shoulder injury. He is going to need it against Jalen Ramsey’s Jags.


Tyler Lockett has quietly scored five touchdowns in six games, though with just four red zone targets, that number is a fluke. … Coming off the biggest yardage effort of his career, Sterling Shepard has seen consistent WR3 usage. … Finally on track to return from his hamstring injury, Geronimo Allison has cleared 60 yards in all four of his 2018 appearances. … Allen Robinson is battling a groin injury. Even if Robinson suits up, Taylor Gabriel might be the preferred fantasy play at this point. … Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant will move forward as the Raiders’ top two receivers. Nelson could push for every-week WR3 value. Bryant has been so mistake prone this season that it’s hard to project a meaningful increase in his production. … Upside will not be there, but Danny Amendola is a safe WR3/4 in Albert Wilson and Kenny Stills’ absence. Jakeem Grant is a chase-the-moon WR5. … After David Johnson, Christian Kirk might have the most to gain from Byron Leftwich’s promotion to offensive coordinator. … Tre’Quan Smith deserves a few more weeks on your team. See where it goes. … Randall Cobb is in prove-it mode after his lengthy absence and rough early-season play.               


Week 8 Tight Ends


TE Notes: Travis Kelce has gone at least 5/60 every game since Week 1. The most wrong thing I have predicted all year is that he would be more boom-or-bust in a more crowded Chiefs offense. … Rivaling Kelce for consistency has been Zach Ertz, who has caught least five passes every week. Ertz has cleared 90 yards in 4-of-7 games, never being held below 43. The Jaguars are his toughest matchup to date. … No. 3 in tight end yardage is George Kittle, who has emerged as the 49ers’ de facto No. 1 receiver.  Kittle’s 16.5 yards per catch is second only to O.J. Howard amongst seam stretchers with at least 20 grabs. … Speaking of de facto No. 1 receivers, there is Jared Cook for the Raiders. This was true even before Amari Cooper’s trade. Now it’s just a fact. Held to 30 total yards in two games before the Raiders’ bye, Cook should bounce back against a Colts defense that’s been soft up the seam.


Opposing Cook will be Eric Ebron, who had a quiet Week 7 but still drew seven targets for the fifth-straight game. T.Y. Hilton’s return did not dent Ebron’s usage. The Raiders’ talent-less defense is a gorgeous matchup despite decent numbers vs. enemy tight ends. Worth monitoring is Jack Doyle’s (hip) health. … If Rob Gronkowski (back) plays, he could be on a snap count against the expansion-level Bills. Depending on the practice reports, however, I could end up moving Gronk as high as No. 3. … Jimmy Graham got cooking in two games before the Packers’ bye, catching 11 total passes for 180 yards. He should stay hot against a Rams defense that’s surrendered the fifth-most tight end yardage (499). If you want to pick a nit, the Packers are getting healthier at receiver. … David Njoku has cleared 50 yards in each of Baker Mayfield’s four starts, averaging nine targets. … It’s hard to know what to make of Trey Burton’s Week 7 explosion. His 11 targets were more than double his previous season high. Is it the dawn of a new day like it was for Tarik Cohen in Week 4 or merely a blip? For Week 8, Burton gets a Jets defense that just lost S Doug Middleton for the second time this season.


O.J. Howard has picked up where he left off pre-Jameis Winston and pre-knee injury, turning in back-to-back 60-yard performances. The Bengals are allowing the fourth-most tight end fantasy points. That same fact keeps Cameron Brate on the low-end TE2 radar. … Jordan Reed is averaging merely 45 yards in the Redskins’ wheezing Alex Smith-led “attack,” with that number dipping to 33 over his past three games. … Always boom or bust, Vance McDonald has a solid Week 8 matchup in an overworked Browns defense that is down to its No. 3 middle linebacker. … Greg Olsen found the end zone in an otherwise quiet Week 7. The Ravens are once again keeping opposing tight ends on lockdown. … A distant fourth on the Giants’ targets totem pole, Evan Engram’s TE1 case is evaporating along with Eli Manning’s play. … C.J. Uzomah busted in a golden Week 7 matchup in the Chiefs. He has another in the Bucs. … Chris Herndon figures to continue seeing looks for the banged up Jets. … The same could be true for Mike Gesicki in Miami, who is coming off a season high in yardage. The Dolphins will be without Albert Wilson and Kenny Stills against the Texans.


Week 8 Kickers


Week 8 Defense/Special Teams

 


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