What fantasy news should you be aware of heading into Week 8? Here's a breakdown of important news and notes from each skill position.
Ben Roethlisberger (knee) is expected to return to action this week in a pivotal divisional match up against the first place and undefeated Bengals. It was possible that Roethlisberger could have returned last week at Kansas City (which wound up being a loss), but the Steelers decided to give him one more week to heal. In hindsight, we could be looking back at last week's loss to the Chiefs as being the game that kept them from the playoffs. In the same breath, they were a six inch, third effort lunge by LeVeon Bell away from losing to San Diego two weeks prior. All hindsight and analysis aside, Pittsburgh is 4-3 with a bright road ahead, much in large part due to Roethlisberger's impact on the offense. Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and LeVeon Bell all get big spikes beginning this week. Load up on your Steelers. This is going to be an exciting offense to watch.
These quarterbacks could have a big game any given week. High pass attempt game scripts seem to be the norm with these guys. The Top 10 in pass attempts are Philip Rivers, Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford, Blake Bortles, Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady. The last two have played only six games. This group of ten averages three wins which includes Brady and Ryan who each have six wins. This exemplifies the fact that fantasy quarterback success can be found on both winning and losing teams. The offensive game plans and/or game script tendencies favor this bunch. If the match up is favorable consider starting any of these quarterbacks any given week.
Two weeks ago we lost Jamaal Charles to a torn ACL. Last week Arian Foster was lost with a torn Achilles. Foster was a Top 3 running back over the last three games, so his loss hits hard for those who waited the first three games for him to arrive. Bad news is known to happen in threes, let's hope that's not the case in Week 8. The Texans defense is playing poorly this year, which is giving them a bigger hole to erase, especially in the second half of games. In prior years there was hope for the running game to thrive due to the defense keeping them in games. This year that's a tall order to ask. Losing Foster makes things even more bleak for the Texans. Alfred Blue is a favorable back, if the game is close or at least manageable. Chris Polk is a bit more spry, but in my opinion, none of the Texans backs have fantasy appeal, especially the way the defense is playing.
What should you make of the Dallas running game? Jospeh Randle is dealing with an assortment of injuries, most recently an oblique injury that could keep him shelved for multiple games. Darren McFadden played well last week against the Giants with 152 yards rushing on 29 carries and 10 yards receiving with 2 receptions. He looks to have a grasp on the lead back role with Randle expected to be out for Week 8, however this week is not a favorable match up with Seattle coming into town. Interestingly enough, Christine Michael is nowhere to be found. If there ever was a time for Michael to rise to the occasion, it's this week against the team that never gave him a chance and eventually shipped him to Dallas. You can bet Michael has this game circled. Will Dallas give him a chance to make an impact? If it doesn't happen this week with a depleted rushing corps, it may not be in the cards for Michael. In his defense he has not been given the green light to stake his claim. Perhaps this is the week? The anticipation is high with Michael, but the longer he fails to deliver, the quicker he'll be dropped by those waiting for the golden egg to hatch that just isn't happening.
Players on my radar:
- Danny Woodhead, SD - Melvin Gordon is banged up and the Chargers are a pass-happy offense. This favors Woodhead and he's more than capable of scoring one or two touchdowns any given week
- Todd Gurley, STL - He may be more Adrian Peterson-like than Peterson right now. He has arrived, and St. Louis knows how to use him.
- Doug Martin, TB - He's the second ranked PPR running back over the last four games. Yeah, that surprised me a bit too.
- Duke Johnson, CLE - Johnson has 25 receptions over the last four games which is tied with Woodhead for the most by a running back in that span. With just one touchdown and not a lot of recognition, Johnson is quietly the 9th ranked PPR back from Week 4 on.
- Lamar Miller, MIA - I'm not fully on board with Miller, but he bares watching. The Dolphins are smoking hot since Dan Campbell has taken over as Head Coach. For whatever reason, they are playing well on both sides of the ball, including Miller, who finally has been given a chance to stake his claim. He played well against Tennessee and Houston. I want to see what he does against New England this week and at Buffalo inext week before I get too excited.
Over the last four games, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns have scored four touchdowns each and both Jacksonville receivers are Top 6 in PPR ranks in that span. Considering the Jaguars have not had a 1,000 yard receiver since Jimmy Smith in 2005, that's not only a surprise, it's impressive.
DeAndre Hopkins has 36 catches in the last four games with two touchdowns to lead all wide receivers in fantasy points since Week 4. As long as the Texans defense continues to struggle, look for Brian Hoyer to continue throwing the ball. The loss of Arian Foster also suggests the passing game will be front and center. Hoyer has thrown multiple touchdown passes in each of the last four games he's appeared in (three starts). Hopkins figures to be a big part of the Texans offense going forward with only two tough match ups against the Jets (Revis) Week 11 and Colts (V Davis) Week 15. He had 11 receptions for 169 yards against Davis in Week 5, so perhaps that's one fewer tough match up.
Players on my radar:
- Stefon Diggs, MIN - In the last three games, Diggs has 19 catches for 324 yards and one touchdown. He is quickly becoming the Vikings go-to receiver and he's still facing opposing team's second cover corner while Mike Wallace sees the premier cornerback. That may not last, but it may not matter. Diggs has been solid since he has taken the field in Week 4.
- Jarvis Landry, MIA - The Dolphins offense comes alive, so does Landry. The running game is setting the plate for Ryan Tannehill to make timely accurate throws. He is not rushing and forcing his throws like he was in the first three games. As a result, he is more efficient and productive, which benefits Landry, the Dolphins best receiver.
- Martavis Bryant, PIT - He's impressively fluid after the catch for such a tall, rangy receiver. He has a knack for the big play and he's been a reliable asset even without Ben Roethlisberger running the show. Now that Roethlisberger is back, Bryant's stock is soaring. Opposing defenses will be focused on Antonio Brown, leaving the field open or at least in single coverage for Bryant. Advtantage Bryant.
- Mike Evans, TB - We saw Evans struggle out of the gate due to his hamsting troubles, plus not being on the same page with new quarterback Jameis Winston. We're well into the season now and the two are starting to click. Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy are hurt, which means Evans is going to see a lot of targets in the coming weeks starting this week at Atlanta.
- Alshon Jeffery, CHI - Like Mike Evans, Jeffery is going to see a lot of targets as the Bears primary receiving threat. He has only recently started to come alive after being out with a hamstring injury. The Bears are coming off a bye, so there's not a lot of excitement surrounding Jeffery, but he's poised for a big game at home against Minnesota and then at San Diego.
What has gotten into Gary Barnidge? Many expected him to fall back to earth after two maybe three big games, but it just has not happened yet. It may not happen. Keep riding that wave, but it could come crashing down just when we think he's here to stay. We saw Larry Donnell come back to earth last year in Week 10 and never be much of a factor the rest of the year. He started strong, but eventually faded. We could potentially see the same fate from Barnidge, but until that happens, keep starting him.
You should be concerned with Antonio Gates and his knee injury. It's not a major injury, but it's something that could keep him out of the lineup for multiple games. According to reports, Gates was not close to playing last week and per Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Gates is concerned.
Antonio Gates: "The MCL is a big part of my game .. If I'm not able to move laterally, I'm not the same player. That's what makes me me."— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) October 26, 2015
Players on my radar:
- Jordan Reed, WAS - In clutch downs and situations, Kirk Cousins is going to Reed. That should say a lot about his importance to the Washington passing game. DeSean Jackson's probable return after the bye could slow him down a bit, but Reed is definitely a big piece to that offense going forward. As long as he is healthy, play him.
- Ladarius Green, SD - As long as Antonio Gates is out, Green gets a bump. The Chargers lead the league in pass attempts, which doesn't look to be ending anytime soon. Games at BAL and vs. CHI are excellent match ups for the Chargers passing game, but then again, when hasn't there been a good passing game for San Diego?
- Tyler Eifert, CIN - The Bengals are flying high offensively and Eifert is taking advantage by maximizing his scoring chances. He has 12 catches and three touchdowns in the last three games.
- Greg Olsen, CAR - I like the Panthers next slate of games. IND and GB, both at home. Both could be decent passing games for Cam Newton, especially against Green Bay. If Cam is throwing, Olsen is catching.
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