Last updated: October 27th at 12:00am ET.
Seahawks at Falcons
Team Totals: Seahawks 29.5, Falcons 23
The Seahawks visit Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz dome in position to impose their will offensively; Falcons coach Dan Quinn’s slump-busting defense has yielded top-12 fantasy results to six straight quarterbacks, including four consecutive top-seven weeks to Marcus Mariota, Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, and Jared Goff. Whereas Russell Wilson disappointed in last week’s loss because Baltimore’s pass rush put him under constant siege, Quinn’s unit doesn’t pose that risk with a league-low 2.1% sack rate and the NFL’s fifth-lowest QB Hit Rate (11.1%). The Falcons have literally gone a month without a sack. Atlanta has also allowed the league’s ninth-most QB rushing yards (115). In DFS stacks, this is a week to revisit the Wilson-to-Tyler Lockett well. Going all in on Seattle’s passing game does carry some risk, however, as its hit probability will lessen should Matt Ryan (ankle) not play. 38-year-old journeyman Matt Schaub would put up much less of a fight. … Rashaad Penny (hamstring) returned against Baltimore but played two snaps and didn’t touch the ball, while Chris Carson handled 18-plus touches for the sixth time in seven games and caught three or more passes for the fifth time this year. Carson is playable in DFS team stacks with Wilson, Lockett, and even Seattle’s defense, especially if the Falcons do trot out Schaub.
Wilson’s 2019 target distribution: Lockett 48; D.K. Metcalf 40; Carson 26; Jaron Brown 24; David Moore 13; C.J. Prosise 11; Malik Turner 8; Luke Willson 7; Jacob Hollister 6; Penny 3. … Lockett runs 71% of his routes inside, where the Falcons’ secondary has permitted completions on 48-of-63 slot targets (76%) for 458 yards and a league-high six TDs. With 75-plus yards and/or a touchdown nine of his last ten games, Lockett is a high-floor, high-ceiling WR1 play inside Atlanta’s dome. … All told, Quinn’s secondary has been burned for the NFL’s fourth-most receptions (98), second-most yards (1,371), and fifth-most TDs (10) by enemy wideouts. Metcalf leads Seattle in Air Yards per game (82.1) and is coming off a career-high nine targets in last week’s loss to Baltimore. This looks like a potential blowup spot for Metcalf, who has 50-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 6-of-7 games but has yet to reach 100 yards this year. The Falcons have allowed the NFL’s third-most completions of 20-plus yards (28). Metcalf runs virtually all of his routes on the perimeter, where Falcons top Desmond Trufant (toe) is out. … Brown and Moore continued to split No. 3 wideout duties against the Ravens, running 24 and 19 routes respectively. Neither can be trusted as Week 8 plays. … Hollister worked ahead of Willson in Seattle’s Week 7 defeat, drawing six targets on 26 routes run to Willson’s 1 target on 12 routes. The comeback nature of the game certainly impacted Hollister’s career-high usage. There are better tight end streamers this week.
Update: On Saturday, the Falcons officially ruled out Matt Ryan and announced Matt Schaub will start.
Even as hot-seat coach Dan Quinn has held out hope Matt Ryan (ankle) will play – Quinn could easily be fired during Atlanta’s forthcoming Week 9 bye, and a Ryan-quarterbacked Week 8 win might slightly reduce the odds of Quinn’s dismissal – most signs have pointed toward Matt Schaub getting the start with Ryan thought to be nursing an at-least “mild” high ankle sprain. Long washed at age 38, Schaub is 288-of-464 passing (62.1%) for 3,008 yards (6.5 YPA), 14 touchdowns, and 22 turnovers over his last 32 games (10 starts). If Schaub indeed gets the Week 8 nod, Seattle’s D/ST will come into streamer play with DT Jarran Reed back from suspension to team with fellow disruptors Jadeveon Clowney and Poona Ford. Seattle’s trade for S/CB Quandre Diggs also addressed a glaring back-end need. … Schaub starting would represent a huge downgrade for the entire Atlanta offense – reducing scoring expectations by at least a touchdown – but Devonta Freeman’s Week 8 workload should remain secure with Ito Smith (concussion) sidelined and Brian Hill taking his No. 2-back place. Enemy backs have touched up Seattle for a middling 120/510/6 (4.25 YPC) rushing line and just over five receptions per game. Barring Ryan drawing Sunday’s start, Freeman will be a low-end, low-ceiling RB2/flex play. Hill is worth adding in deep leagues; Smith has already suffered two concussions this season and could miss extended time.
Every member of Atlanta’s pass-catcher corps is likely to take significant Week 8 hits in target volume and efficiency should Schaub start and Ryan sit. But Mohamed Sanu’s departure offsets some of those concerns by narrowing the Falcons’ target distribution while specifically upping Calvin Ridley’s playing time – he’s been in on only 72% of the team’s offensive snaps to this point – and slot usage, where Ridley efficiently caught 19-of-22 targets for 145 yards and two touchdowns last season but has run only three routes in 2019. Austin Hooper has caught 20-of-22 slot targets for 201 yards and two TDs this year. Ridley will be a volatile Week 8 play if Schaub starts, but long term Ridley’s arrow is pointing up. Hooper is a confident play regardless as an Owen Daniels-like safety valve for former long-time Texans QB Schaub. When Schaub came off the bench in last week’s blowout loss to the Rams, he targeted Hooper a team-high three times, connecting on all three for 27 yards and a touchdown. … Julio Jones is purely a bet-on-talent play versus Seattle. … The Falcons are expected to turn to either pedestrian slot WR Justin Hardy or glorified special teamer Russell Gage in Sanu’s third-receiver absence. Gage caught just 26 passes in a four-year career at LSU and spent time at cornerback during 2019 training camp.
Score Prediction: Seahawks 27, Falcons 20
Eagles at Bills
Team Totals: Bills 22.5, Eagles 20.5
Carson Wentz’s string of brutal pass-defense opponents continues at Buffalo, which finally sprung leaks in last Sunday’s ten-point win over Miami wherein Ryan Fitzpatrick rallied the Dolphins to a temporary second-half lead and Week 7’s QB7 result with a rushing and passing score and 8.1 yards per attempt. Fitzpatrick became the first quarterback to log a fantasy outcome above QB17 against the Bills this year. Even while Wentz has banked top-12 finishes in 5-of-7 starts, his ceiling and floor are suspect based on Sunday’s unideal matchup and Philly’s low-score projection at Buffalo. Once again, I would be open to streaming waiver pickups over Wentz in season-long leagues. Sean McDermott’s Bills are on pace to allow a bottom-four passer rating for the second straight year. … Jordan Howard has handled exactly 13 touches in three straight games, besting Miles Sanders as the Eagles’ main runner but hardly making Sanders go away. Week 7’s box score doesn’t reveal it, but Sanders logged season highs in playing time (53%) and routes run (21) against the Cowboys, while Howard has gained six combined receiving yards over the Eagles’ last three games. This backfield has become a fantasy situation to avoid, especially in games where Philly is unlikely to score many points. Howard and Sanders are TD-or-bust flex options.
Wentz’s Weeks 2-7 target distribution: Zach Ertz 52; Nelson Agholor 38; Alshon Jeffery 34; Mack Hollins 21; Sanders and Dallas Goedert 19; Howard 8; J.J. Arcega-Whiteside 7; Darren Sproles 5. … Buffalo has allowed the NFL’s second-fewest fantasy points to tight ends, while Goedert’s spiked usage in Philly’s 12-personnel sets throw wrenches into Ertz’s Week 8 outlook. Ertz’s 57.7 yards-per-game average would be his lowest since 2015. … Agholor has topped 50 yards in 1-of-7 games. … Jeffery has reached 80 yards twice in his last 15 games and remains a touchdown-or-bust WR3. Buffalo has permitted the NFL’s third-fewest completions of 20-plus yards (14) and second-fewest touchdown catches (2) to wideouts this year. … Running wind sprints in place of DeSean Jackson (abdomen), Hollins hasn’t caught a pass since Week 4. … Goedert paid Week 7 dividends at Dallas but remains a touchdown-or-bust TE1 streamer with four targets or fewer in 6-of-7 games. No tight end to face Buffalo has cleared 50 yards this season.
Josh Allen is again positioned for an eruption game at home versus the Eagles, who’ve allowed top-eight fantasy finishes to 5-of-7 quarterbacks faced and the NFL’s sixth-most touchdown passes (14) as one of the league’s most run-funnel defenses under DC Jim Schwartz. Over his last 11 full games, Allen has registered eight top-12 fantasy results and seven top-eight finishes. He’s among Week 8’s highest-floor and ceiling plays at the quarterback position and once again an encouraged DFS-tournament pairing with John Brown. … Frank Gore kept Week 7 lead-back duties in Devin Singletary’s (hamstring) return, out-touching Buffalo’s rookie 12 to 7 and out-snapping Singletary 55% to 38% in a game where the Bills ran a season-low 51 offensive plays, damaging every Buffalo skill-position player’s box-score results beyond Allen and John Brown. Week 7 served as an important reminder of OC Brian Daboll’s unrelenting trust in Gore and Singletary’s 1B role in the Bills’ backfield in spite of Singletary’s superior big-play potential. In Week 8, Gore shapes up as a touchdown-reliant flex option against an Eagles defense that has held enemy backs to 145/482/4 (3.32 YPC) rushing. Singletary is a boom-bust flex play.
Allen’s 2019 target distribution: Cole Beasley 41; John Brown 40; Dawson Knox 21; T.J. Yeldon 9; Gore, Isaiah McKenzie, and Tommy Sweeney 8; Singletary 6; Duke Williams 5; Robert Foster 3. … Beasley has locked himself in as one of Allen’s top-two pass options, earning WR3/flex treatment in plus draws with 40-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 5-of-6 games. Beasley’s ceiling always feels limited – he has two 100-plus-yard games in his 109-game career – but his passing-game role has never been this bankable, and Beasley should serve as a Week 8 extension of Buffalo’s running game on short passes that move the chains. … The Eagles don’t have a single defensive back capable of containing Brown, who’s shown a high floor with 50-plus yards in 6-of-6 games and offers an immense Week 8 ceiling against a Philly secondary that’s already allowed seven different wideouts to clear 100 yards. No. 14 in the NFL in Air Yards market share (35%), Brown is a Week 8 common-sense play based on opportunity and matchup. … Tyler Koft’s (foot) Week 7 return morphed Buffalo’s tight end situation into a fantasy-unfriendly timeshare; Knox led the unit in playing time (53%) but drew only two targets, while Kroft was in on 44% of the Bills’ offensive snaps and blocker Lee Smith’s playing-time clip was 42%. The Bills’ heavy usage of multiple tight end sets also renders Williams, McKenzie, and Robert Foster uninspiring fantasy punts.
Score Prediction: Bills 24, Eagles 23
Chargers at Bears
Team Totals: Bears 22, Chargers 18
Winless in three games since Melvin Gordon returned, the Chargers visit a similarly downward-spiraling Bears team coming off consecutive losses to the Raiders and Saints in which DC Chuck Pagano’s defense allowed 58 combined points. As Josh Jacobs (26/123/2) and Latavius Murray (27/119/2) can attest, Chicago’s main defensive weakness has come versus the run, however, and Los Angeles has shown no ability to create running room minus LT Russell Okung (heart), C Mike Pouncey (neck), and now LG Forrest Lamp, who broke his leg last week. Okung will reportedly try to play in Week 8, but not for the entire game. 27 of Gordon’s 36 carries have gained three yards or fewer (75%) with two fumbles, including one at the goal line that lost last Sunday’s game in Nashville. Gordon’s receiving effectiveness is also nonexistent with three yards or fewer on 11-of-14 targets (79%). All told, plays intended for Gordon have averaged an anemic 2.3 yards while simultaneously ruining the flow of a Bolts offense that scored 22.5 points and gained 403.8 yards per game in Weeks 1-4, then slid to 16.7 points and 319.7 yards in Weeks 5-7. Gordon is a touchdown-or-bust RB2/flex option. … The Chargers did play Austin Ekeler over Gordon in Week 7 crunch time, and Ekeler wound up out-snapping him 59% to 52% while leading the team in receiving (7/118/1) and ripping off consecutive gains of 19 and 15 on Los Angeles’ final drive to set up Gordon’s game-losing turnover. The Bears have allowed the NFL’s third-most receiving yards per game to backs (58.0), keeping Ekeler firmly in PPR-specific RB2 play. … Not a single quarterback has finished above QB15 against the Bears, while Philip Rivers’ year-best outcome is QB9. Behind an injury-decimated offensive line, Rivers is a low-floor, low-ceiling two-QB-league play.
Update: Keenan Allen injured his hamstring in Wednesday’s practice and did not participate on Thursday or Friday. Following Friday’s practice, coach Anthony Lynn stated Allen would at best be “limited” in Sunday’s game at Soldier Field. This development enhances the fantasy outlooks for Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry based on Allen’s massive volume share.
Rivers’ Weeks 6-7 target distribution: Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry 17; Mike Williams 16; Ekeler 12; Gordon 7; Virgil Green 3; Jason Moore 2; Geremy Davis 1. … Similar to Michael Thomas in Chicago last week, Allen is an underrated DFS-tournament play after drawing 11 targets and leading the entire NFL in Week 7 Air Yards (209). Thomas (9/131/0), Stefon Diggs (7/108/0), Emmanuel Sanders (11/98/1), Paul Richardson (8/83/1), and Terry McLaurin (6/70/1) each put up big stats against the Bears’ overrated secondary within Chicago’s last five games. Unsurprisingly, Allen popped in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Week 8 Buy Low Air Yards Model. … Henry leads all NFL tight ends in targets, yards (197), and routes run (71) since returning two games ago. Although Chicago has allowed the NFL’s second-fewest fantasy points to tight ends, Henry should stay entrenched in season-long lineups based on opportunity and talent. … Eighth in the NFL in Air Yards (656), Williams has squandered immense opportunity but remains positioned for positive-TD regression without a single score on the year despite five targets inside the ten-yard line, fifth most in the league. Still part of a deep pass-catcher corps in a matchup where Los Angeles’ passing game is unlikely to have much success, Williams is a boom-bust WR3 play. With that said, Williams’ attractiveness is raised as Week 8’s No. 1 buy-low target in Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model.
Fantasy investments into David Montgomery require obvious leaps of faith after the struggling rookie managed a season-low four touches on 47% of Chicago’s Week 7 offensive snaps and lost a third-quarter fumble. But Bears quarterback play has been so awful that Matt Nagy couldn’t possibly justify putting this game in the hands of Mitchell Trubisky against a Chargers defense that’s been waxed for 166/746/5 (4.49 YPC) rushing by enemy backs while nursing injuries to starting DE Melvin Ingram (hamstring), NT Brandon Mebane (knee), and DT Justin Jones (shoulder). Montgomery is a high-risk if viable flex play on the assumption Nagy coaches rationally. … Held below 50 total yards in 6-of-6 games, Tarik Cohen has been among 2019’s least-effective offensive skill players on 2.4 yards per carry and 5.1 yards per catch. Just 8 of Cohen’s 49 touches (16%) have gained first downs. No longer the beneficiary of Nagy’s creative designs in a discombobulated offense, Cohen is merely a hope-and-pray flex dart specific to PPR leagues. … Much as his likeness Blake Bortles was once wont to do, Trubisky salvaged a top-16 fantasy finish with late-fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Allen Robinson and Javon Wims in last Sunday’s loss after the Saints already built an insurmountable 36-10 lead. Just 2-of-7 quarterbacks to face Los Angeles have managed top-12 QB1 results, a mark Trubisky has yet to reach this year. Playing with a harness on his twice-injured left (non-throwing) shoulder, Trubisky bailed out of the way even on pitch plays and wound up with zero rushing attempts in Week 7’s loss to the Saints. He’s a low-end two-QB-league play.
Trubisky’s 2019 target distribution: Allen Robinson 43; Cohen 31; Taylor Gabriel 16; Anthony Miller 15; Trey Burton 11; Montgomery 10; Adam Shaheen and Cordarrelle Patterson 8; Mike Davis 7; Javon Wims 4. … Playing at as high a level as any NFL wideout in an otherwise abominable passing “attack,” Robinson has cleared 60 yards and/or scored a touchdown in seven of his last eight games going back to last year. As Robinson ran nearly a third of his Week 7 routes in the slot, Marshon Lattimore was able to chase him on only 4 of Robinson’s 16 targets. Chargers top CB Casey Hayward has played just 1% of his snaps inside. Robinson is an every-week WR2 with WR1 upside. … Gabriel has gone 16 straight games without topping 75 yards. … Back to playing 75% of Chicago’s offensive snaps, Miller has entered PPR WR4/flex territory with 17 targets in his last two games. His outlook does improve as Week 8’s No. 4 buy-low wideout in Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. … Burton hasn’t hit pay dirt or topped 20 yards in a game this year. He ranks dead last among 41 qualified tight ends in PFF’s yards per route run metric (0.58). … Wims caught a short Week 7 touchdown in deep fourth-quarter garbage time but played just 34% of the snaps with Gabriel back from his concussion. Wims’ value is limited to Dynasty leagues.
Score Prediction: Bears 17, Chargers 16
Giants at Lions
Team Totals: Lions 28.5, Giants 21.5
This is a not-so-sneaky spot to stream Detroit’s D/ST; downward-trending rookie Daniel Jones has committed 11 turnovers and taken 18 sacks in five starts while managing 225 passing yards or fewer in four straight weeks. No quarterback in the NFL has faced pressure on a higher rate of dropbacks (47.3%). … Jones remains playable in two-quarterback-leagues and as a matchup-based streamer; 5-of-6 signal callers to face the Lions have top-12 fantasy outcomes, including last week’s Kirk Cousins four-score eruption. In theory, Jones should experience less pressure than usual at Ford Field; Matt Patricia’s team ranks 30th in sack rate (4%) and 31st in QB Hit Rate (10.4%), although playing against Jones and the Giants’ subpar offensive line has been known to spike pass-rush production. … Saquon Barkley tweaked his ankle in last week’s loss to Arizona but returned to handle 21 touches on 86% of the Giants’ offensive snaps. Albeit seemingly innocuous in Week 7, the reinjury scare is a reminder that Barkley isn’t all the way out of the woods, and Wayne Gallman should stay rostered in season-long leagues. Barkley averaged 3.8 yards per touch against the Cardinals; he averaged 5.8 yards per touch over the first 19 games of his career. In some of my high-stakes season-long leagues, I was stunned to see Gallman on the Week 8 waiver wire and immediately added him. … Barkley, of course, remains an elite RB1 play against the Lions, who’ve coughed up 145/686/7 (4.73 YPC) rushing and the NFL’s fifth-most receiving yards per game to enemy backs (56.0).
Jones’ Week 7 target distribution: Golden Tate 11; Barkley, Evan Engram, Bennie Fowler, and Cody Latimer 5; Darius Slayton and Rhett Ellison 2. … Tate leads the G-Men in targets (20) and receiving (12/182/1) over the last two weeks, clearly forming an on-field bond with Jones in Sterling Shepard’s (concussion) continued absence. Tate runs 86% of his routes inside, where Lions slot CB Justin Coleman is an on-ball playmaker but has allowed a league-high five touchdown receptions. This is a “revenge” game for Tate, who spent 4 1/2 seasons with Detroit. … Engram had a miserable Week 7, dropping two balls, allowing a sack, and even getting “vultured” for a touchdown by No. 2 TE Ellison. Engram should bounce back versus the Lions, against whom enemy tight ends caught 23-of-29 targets (79%) for 313 yards (10.8 YPA and a touchdown in Detroit’s last three games. Engram also popped in Week 8’s Buy Low Air Yards Model. … Slayton wasn’t shadowed by Patrick Peterson in last week’s loss, but he was rendered a non-factor by New York’s inability to protect Jones and wound up running wind sprints outside. Slayton still played 97% of New York’s offensive snaps and ran a career-high 49 routes, while Lions top CB Darius Slay (hamstring) is out for Week 8. Stefon Diggs (7/142/0), Larry Fitzgerald (8/113/1), Keenan Allen (8/98/0), Mike Williams (3/83/0), Allen Lazard (4/65/1), Mack Hollins (4/62/0), Nelson Agholor (8/50/2), and Bisi Johnson (4/40/1) have exposed the weaknesses in Detroit’s secondary Slayton too is capable of exploiting as an upside WR4/flex. … Fowler (39%) and Latimer (33%) shared time as the Giants’ No. 3 receiver in Week 7 and are safe to ignore.
Matthew Stafford follows up his season-best fantasy game with a cupcake against the Giants, who’ve yielded top-ten results to 5-of-7 quarterbacks faced while showing zero ability to rush the passer with a bottom-ten QB Hit Rate (15.8%). When kept clean, Stafford is averaging 9.3 yards per attempt with a 12:3 TD-to-INT ratio and 120.0 QB rating, fourth highest among 36 qualified quarterbacks. The Lions’ loss of workhorse Kerryon Johnson (knee) may force more onto Stafford’s plate, heightening his floor and ceiling as a strong QB1 play worth serious DFS consideration. … While I’m skeptical the Lions won’t add a veteran back (Kenyan Drake?) soon, sixth-round rookie Ty Johnson’s at-present situation is impossible to quibble with as an aggressive season-long waiver-wire pickup after Johnson logged 14 touches on 65% of Detroit’s Week 7 offensive snaps. Johnson’s efficiency unsurprisingly lacked against Minnesota, but this is a 5-foot-11, 210-pound runner with 4.45 speed who averaged an outrageous 7.6 yards per carry and 11.0 yards per reception at Maryland, and faces the Giants and Raiders in Detroit’s next two games. Including Chase Edmonds’ Week 7 eruption, the G-Men were flamed for 153/729/6 (4.76 YPC) rushing by enemy backs in their last six games. On the year, the Giants have also permitted the league’s fourth-most receiving yards (373) to running backs. With Johnson penciled into Detroit’s lead-back role and J.D. McKissic changing the pace, Johnson is a boom-bust RB2 play in a plum draw. Tre Carson and Paul Perkins will operate as the Lions’ Nos. 3 and 4 backs. I was pleased to add Johnson on a slightly sub-20% bid in my highest-stakes season-long league this week.
Stafford’s Weeks 1-7 target distribution: Kenny Golladay 47; Marvin Jones 42; Danny Amendola 31; T.J. Hockenson 30; Kerryon 14; Jesse James 12; McKissic 10; Ty Johnson 9; Logan Thomas and Marvin Hall 6. … While frustrating in a game where Stafford threw for 364 yards, Golladay’s one-catch, 21-yard dud was a clear fluke after he entered Week 7 with 100-plus yards and/or a touchdown in four of his prior five games. Fortunately for Golladay, Jones (10/93/4) and Amendola (8/105/0) capitalized on all the attention Minnesota’s defense paid him. Giants top CB Janoris Jenkins has played lockdown coverage after a slow start, yielding completions on just 6-of-16 targets for 75 scoreless yards (4.7 YPA) over the last month. Still likelier than not to rebound, Golladay is an upside WR2 with the seventh-most Air Yards in the league (660). The Giants have allowed the NFL’s second-most completions of 20-plus yards (30). … Last week, Jones became just the fourth player in NFL history to register two-career games with four TD catches, joining Jerry Rice, Sterling Sharpe, and “Bob Shaw.” While Jones’ lack of consistency makes him feel like a points-chasing pick, he catches a favorable enough Week 8 draw to stay hot. Struggling Giants rookie No. 2 CB DeAndre Baker has yielded 409 yards and three touchdowns on 33 targets (12.4 YPA) this year, while Jones enters Sunday’s affair with 77-plus yards in three of Detroit’s last four games. Jones is a quality matchup-driven WR3 play. … Amendola’s 100-yard Week 7 surprise was his first game above 37 yards since Week 1. He’s a PPR-specific desperation option. … The Giants haven’t played any tight ends of note for matchup comparison’s sake, but Hockenson’s Week 7 usage was promising. His 34 routes run were Hockenson’s most since Week 1, and his 68% playing-time clip was Hockenson’s highest since Week 2. Still, the fact that Hockenson hasn’t topped 32 yards since the opener has downgraded him into touchdown-or-bust territory. He’s averaging just 4.2 targets over the Lions’ last five games.
Score Prediction: Lions 27, Giants 17
Jets at Jaguars
Team Totals: Jaguars 23, Jets 18
After Sam Darnold admitted to “seeing ghosts” and spent the majority of last Monday night’s blowout loss throwing back-foot interceptions to the Patriots, he’s likely to experience similarly tough sledding in this short-week road trip to Jacksonville, which ranks No. 4 in sacks (21) and No. 8 in QB hits (43) and has allowed just nine touchdown passes through seven games. Isolating only his Weeks 1 and 6-7 starts, Darnold has faced pressure at the NFL’s seventh-highest rate (39.1%) among 35 qualified quarterbacks and managed a pathetic 4.1 yards per pass attempt with a 1:3 TD-to-INT ratio under duress. Especially after missing early-week practice time with a toe injury, Darnold is a low-end two-QB-league option against the Jaguars. Nevertheless, Darnold’s outlook should improve very soon with the Dolphins, Giants, Redskins, Raiders, Bengals, and Dolphins on the Jets’ Weeks 9-15 slate. … Adam Gase’s most-befuddling Week 7 error was dialing up deep shots into the teeth of New England’s lockdown secondary. If Gase is smart – the jury is always out – he will dial back the depth of Darnold’s dropbacks and circumvent Jacksonville’s pass rush by feeding receiving work to Le’Veon Bell, who has just two catches in the last two games. Bell should also have more ground-game success against the Jaguars than he did versus New England; enemy backs have waxed Jacksonville for 141/687/5 (4.87 YPC) rushing, and space-eating NT Marcell Dareus (abdomen) appears unlikely to play this week.
Update: The Jets ruled out LT Kelvin Beachum (ankle), making life even more difficult for Sam Darnold at Jacksonville.
Darnold’s target distribution: Jamison Crowder 31; Robby Anderson 23; Bell 14; Demaryius Thomas 13; Ryan Griffin 9; Ty Montgomery 4. … Every Jets pass catcher busted in a Week 7 game where Darnold committed five turnovers and threw for a career-low 86 yards. Theoretically, Gase could take a page out of last week’s Bengals book that allowed fellow underneath WR Alex Erickson to post a career-best 8/137/0 receiving line against these same Jags. Erickson’s aDOT was 6.6 yards; Crowder’s is 7.2 this year. Securely Darnold’s highest-volume weapon, Crowder is WR3 playable in PPR leagues. … While Darnold’s poor under-pressure play combined with Jacksonville’s ability to generate pressure pose big obstacles for downfield threat Anderson, it’s also true that the Jags’ Jalen Ramsey-less secondary has surrendered the NFL’s third-most completions of 20-plus yards (28) and Anderson ranks third in the NFL in Air Yards since Darnold returned two weeks ago (283). Anderson is a boom-bust WR3 play in a better matchup than this may seem. … Predictably inefficient, Demaryius has 150 scoreless yards on 24 targets (6.3 YPT). … When targeting tight ends against the Jaguars, teams are 25-of-41 passing for 302 yards and two TDs. Even if Chris Herndon (hamstring) returns, he won’t be immediately playable in this subpar matchup.
Update: Chris Herndon (hamstring) is listed as doubtful; Ryan Griffin will make another start.
Winners in three of their last five with both losses coming by one score since Gardner Minshew took over for Nick Foles, the Jags catch another winnable game at home against the Jets, who figure to struggle to exploit Jacksonville’s offensive-line shakiness with the NFL’s second-fewest sacks (5) but have nevertheless contained Tom Brady (QB18), Dak Prescott (QB13), Carson Wentz (QB18), Brady again (QB14), Baker Mayfield (QB16), and Josh Allen (QB15) with just six touchdown passes allowed on the year. Still, Jags pass catchers draw enough favorable matchups for Minshew to stay locked into two-QB-league lineups and warrant bye-week streamer consideration. Minshew has top-15 fantasy finishes in 4-of-6 starts and ranks No. 6 among quarterbacks in rushing yards (173), raising his week-to-week floor. … Although Gang Green has defended the run stoutly this year – DC Gregg Williams’ unit has held enemy backs to 143/434/4 (3.24 YPC) rushing – Leonard Fournette’s colossal workload projection as a home-favorite bellcow should keep him near the top of Week 8 RB1 rankings with touch counts of 31, 26, 27, and 31 over the last month. Difference-maker Jets ILB C.J. Mosley also admitted to suffering a setback with his troublesome groin last Monday night and will now try to play on a short week. All told, running backs facing the Jets are averaging 31.7 touches per game. As Fournette has handled 92% of the Jaguars’ running back work, he should project somewhere in the 28- to 30-touch range against Gang Green.
Minshew’s 2019 target distribution: Dede Westbrook 54; D.J. Chark 45; Fournette 36; Chris Conley 31; Geoff Swaim 16; Seth DeValve 4; RyQuell Armstead, Keelan Cole, and Marqise Lee 3. … Fresh off his first 100-yard game of 2019, Westbrook’s average of 8.6 targets over the last five weeks has pushed him into PPR-specific WR3 territory. Westbrook is also due for some positive-TD regression with a team-high five red-zone targets but no scores since Week 1. … Jets boundary CBs Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts have combined to concede 51 completions on 71 targets (72%) for 585 yards (8.2 YPA) and four TDs, setting up Jaguars No. 1 outside WR Chark to bounce back from last week’s 53-yard clunker made especially frustrating when Chark was tackled at the one-yard line on Jacksonville’s opening drive and later at the Bengals’ eight following a 33-yard catch and run. Chark leads Jacksonville in Air Yards by a 144-yard margin over runner-up Conley in Minshew’s six starts. … Conley has 156 scoreless yards on 21 targets (7.4 YPT) over the Jags’ last five games. … Jaguars tight ends have been fantasy non-factors since James O’Shaughnessy tore his ACL. Without Swaim (concussion) last Sunday, DeValve drew two targets on 59% of the snaps. Rookie Josh Oliver wasn’t targeted on a 31% playing-time clip against the Bengals. The Jags will be rolling with DeValve and Oliver in a committee going forward after placing Swaim on injured reserve Tuesday.
Score Prediction: Jaguars 17, Jets 16
Bengals vs. Rams (London)
Team Totals: Rams 30.5, Bengals 17.5
The Bengals’ season down the tubes at 0-7, Andy Dalton should be at increasing risk of an in-game benching in favor of rookie Ryan Finley, who starred this preseason and was handpicked by first-year coach Zac Taylor. Dalton does deserve credit for severely outscoring environment-adjusted fantasy expectations with top-18 results in 6-of-7 starts and four top-12 finishes, and he remains playable in two-quarterback-leagues. The Rams’ D/ST is a superior Week 8 play; Aaron Donald is a lead-pipe lock to wreck Cincinnati’s helpless interior offensive line, while 5-of-7 defenses to face the Bengals have logged top-ten weekly results. … Joe Mixon’s Week 7 reinforced just how lost a cause his fantasy season is with four yards on 11 touches, Mixon’s fifth game below 70 yards from scrimmage in seven tries. Still sharing snaps nearly evenly with Giovani Bernard, Mixon has devolved into little more than a Hail Mary flex dart. The Rams have held enemy backs to 3.70 yards per carry and just 39.1 receiving yards per game.
Dalton’s 2019 target distribution: Tyler Boyd 73; Auden Tate 41; Alex Erickson 29; Tyler Eifert 25; Gio 23; Mixon 21; C.J. Uzomah 12; Drew Sample 5. … Even as Boyd’s production has been frustratingly uneven, he ranks third in the NFL in targets (74) and should soon experience positive-TD regression with just one score on the year. Boyd uncharacteristically dropped four passes over the past two weeks; he previously went seven straight games without a drop. Sunday’s matchup is imposing, though – the Rams have surrendered just 326 yards and one TD on 61 slot targets (5.34 YPA) – rendering Boyd a volume-driven WR2 play in PPR leagues. … Likely to draw Jalen Ramsey treatment as Cincinnati’s top perimeter threat, Tate is a tough Week 8 sell as more than a touchdown-or-bust WR4 in a game where the Bengals probably won’t score much. … Erickson has emerged as a WR3/flex option in PPR leagues after playing 94% of Cincinnati’s Week 7 offensive snaps, tying Boyd for the team lead in targets (14), and leading the Bengals in receiving (8/137/0) against Jacksonville. Erickson runs short-depth underneath routes that will be critical for Cincinnati’s chances of moving the chains with Dalton likely to be under heavy duress. … Eifert has not topped 27 yards in a single 2019 game and belongs on season-long waiver wires.
Back to 4-3 following last week’s critical victory in Atlanta, the Rams catch a true smash spot versus the Bengals, who’ve surrendered top-13 fantasy results to five of their last six quarterbacks faced including top-six results to Kyler Murray, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Lamar Jackson. As Jared Goff’s passer rating spikes from a miserable 62.9 under pressure to 95.5 when clean, Cincinnati’s lack of pass rush is key here; the Bengals rank bottom five in sack rate (4.1%), bottom three in QB Hit Rate (10.5%), and are still missing LCB Dre Kirkpatrick (knee). As Zac Taylor’s head-coaching debut has devolved into a tank year, Goff should impose his Week 8 will as a high-floor, high-ceiling QB1. … After his team stumbled out of the 2019 gates, this is an opportunity for Sean McVay to put up a big score to build “momentum” ahead of the Rams’ Week 9 bye. Even as Darrell Henderson siphoned 12 change-up touches in last week’s win, Todd Gurley remained Los Angeles’ lead runner in his quad-injury return with 19 touches on 61% of the snaps and enters Week 8 ranked No. 6 in the NFL in carries inside the ten (12). The Bengals have been annihilated for 182/893/7 (4.91 YPC) rushing and 59.3 receiving yards per game by enemy backs, who all told have ten all-purpose TDs in seven games versus Cincinnati. Gurley is a multi-touchdown candidate, and Henderson can’t be ignored as a flex play. Facing the NFL’s worst run defense as nearly two-TD favorites, the Rams should amass far more than their usual number of backfield touches.
Goff’s 2019 target distribution: Cooper Kupp 77; Robert Woods 58; Brandin Cooks 44; Gerald Everett 41; Gurley 23; Tyler Higbee 22; Josh Reynolds 10; Henderson and Malcolm Brown 3. … Kupp shouldn’t struggle to bust his two-game slump one week after fellow slot WR Dede Westbrook touched up this same Bengals defense for a season-best 6/103/0 line. Kupp has eight-plus targets in 6-of-7 weeks. … Promisingly popping in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Week 8 Air Yards Buy Low Model, Woods would stand to benefit if Bengals top CB William Jackson chased Cooks around the field. Cincinnati’s inability to rush the passer bodes well for both Woods and Cooks, who run higher-aDOT routes than Kupp and need time to create separation. … Among fantasy’s most-frustrating players, Cooks has cleared 75 yards once over his last 12 regular season games. He still leads the Rams in Air Yards (611) and should soon experience positive regression with so much unfulfilled opportunity. Cooks is a boom-bust WR3 in a matchup that makes him likelier to boom. … Everett has earned elite TE1 treatment leading all tight ends in targets (34) and Air Yards (337) in the last month. On the year, Everett has run 102 more routes than block-first teammate Higbee.
Score Prediction: Rams 34, Bengals 10
Cardinals at Saints
Team Totals: Saints 29, Cardinals 19
Winners of three straight albeit against the lowly Bengals, Falcons, and Giants, the Cardinals draw their toughest to-date test at the Superdome versus a Saints defense that held its last four quarterbacks faced to fantasy outcomes of QB14 or worse while moving to top five in the NFL in both sacks (20) and QB hits (45). Although Kyler Murray’s dual threat gives him potential to surpass expectations, Murray’s likeliest outcome is mid- to high-end QB2 production facing one of the NFL’s best defenses on the road. The Cards also happen to have allowed the league’s seventh-most sacks (23), keeping New Orleans’ D/ST in play. … Arizona’s signings of Alfred Morris and Zach Zenner strongly suggest they’ll again lean on Chase Edmonds with David Johnson (ankle/back) on the mend. Even as the Saints have held enemy backs to 3.99 yards per carry, only five teams have allowed more running back catches (43). Decisive, bursty, and versatile, Edmonds is shaping up as a legit RB1 play, especially after Kliff Kingsbury showed enough faith in Edmonds to place 29 touches and 94% of Arizona’s Week 7 offensive snaps onto Edmonds’ plate. On minimal practice time with their new team, Morris and Zenner project to serve as emergency options.
Update: David Johnson (back, ankle) is indeed not expected to play. I expect Chase Edmonds to operate as Arizona’s workhorse and neither Alfred Morris nor Zach Zenner to play much.
Murray’s 2019 target distribution: Larry Fitzgerald 55; David Johnson 41; Christian Kirk 36; KeeSean Johnson 33; Damiere Byrd 22; Edmonds 15; Charles Clay 11; Pharoh Cooper 10; Trent Sherfield 9; Maxx Williams 8; Andy Isabella 2. … Although Fitz has regressed into a PPR-oriented WR2/3 option without the big plays that keyed his fast start, he still has five-plus catches in 6-of-7 games and popped in Week 8’s Buy Low Air Yards Model. This is a plus draw; Fitzgerald runs over 90% of his routes inside, where the Saints have allowed 39 completions on 56 slot targets for 450 yards (8.04 YPA) and four TDs. … Barring a dramatic shift in Marshon Lattimore’s role, the Saints’ top corner will go to waste covering perimeter decoys Johnson, Byrd, Isabella, and Sherfield. Lattimore plays 98% of his snaps outside. … Kirk (ankle) went through another limited practice week after missing Arizona’s last three games and will probably be a game-time decision at New Orleans. Cooper played in Kirk’s place the last two weeks, logging target counts of 4 and 4 on 35% of the Cardinals’ offensive snaps. Especially since Arizona plays on Thursday Night Football in Week 9, it would not be surprising if Kirk sat out one more game. … Williams has quietly emerged as a critical piece of Arizona’s offense, but mainly for his blocking prowess; he’s blocked on 67% of his snaps over the last three weeks. He would be a low-floor streamer at the Superdome.
Update: Saturday reports indicated Drew Brees will indeed start against the Cardinals, but Alvin Kamara won’t play. Latavius Murray deserves to be among Week 8’s most-popular DFS plays as a home-favorite workhorse facing Arizona’s beatable defensive front. Brees is a fringe QB1 option I’d probably lean away from until after the Saints’ Week 9 bye, but his return can’t hurt Michael Thomas and even gives Ted Ginn some long-shot sleeper life while enhancing Josh Hill‘s streamer viability.
Even with New Orleans going on bye next week and Teddy Bridgewater 5-0 in his absence, Drew Brees (thumb) has insisted he’ll play against the Cardinals. Sean Payton and the Saints’ medical staff may well opt for caution, and probably won’t announce a starter for as long as they possibly can, but Brees’ up-in-the-air status combined with Alvin Kamara’s (ankle/knee) similar uncertainty makes this game tough to break down. … So let’s just focus on matchups; Cardinals DC Vance Joseph’ defense has conceded top-12 quarterback scores in 5-of-7 weeks with a picturesque 17:1 TD-to-INT ratio against, setting up Brees for low-end QB1 valuation or Bridgewater for high-end QB2 production depending on which Saints signal caller starts. … Especially in a home game where they are favored by double digits, it would make theoretical sense for the Saints to give Kamara two full weeks off including their Week 9 bye, then try to explode with their offense at full strength down the stretch. But Kamara practiced on a limited basis this week and clearly has a chance to face the Cardinals, who are permitting 131.6 total yards per game to enemy running backs. Even if Kamara is active, Latavius Murray should maintain flex-play viability on RBBC usage. Over the last two games, Murray averaged 4.66 yards per carry and 8.3 yards per reception with two scores against the Jaguars and Bears. Murray has at least nine touches in three straight games.
Michael Thomas has proven to be the NFL’s most quarterback- and matchup-proof receiver, clearing 89 yards and/or scoring a touchdown in 7-of-7 games with Brees starting two and Bridgewater the other five. While Thomas may be talked down in some circles as risky against Patrick Peterson, it’s notable Thomas has caught 39% of his 2019 receptions in the slot, while Peterson covered the slot on just 3% of his Week 7 plays. Payton is well aware of opponent tendencies like this and will likely increase Thomas’ Week 8 slot rate. Just like last week, Thomas is an excellent DFS-tournament play. … The rest of New Orleans’ pass-catcher corps has been dust all year, regardless of Bridgewater or Brees’ under-center presence. Due to Arizona’s tight end coverage deficiencies, I suppose the one other guy I’d consider is Josh Hill, who appears likely to make another start in place of Jared Cook (ankle). Hill played 67% of the Saints’ Week 7 snaps, ran a season-high 19 routes, and logged 3/43/1 receiving on three targets against the Bears. Hill is still a touchdown-or-bust streamer in an offense where he’s never proactively featured.
Score Prediction: Saints 27, Cardinals 20
Bucs at Titans
Team Totals: Titans 24.5, Bucs 22
The 2-4 Bucs return from their bye to face a Titans defense that has allowed 20 points or fewer in 7-of-7 games and zero top-ten fantasy quarterback outcomes this year. Since the majority of Jameis Winston’s struggles have come versus zone coverage, it’s notable that Tennessee plays zone on 66% of its passing snaps — a top-ten rate — and has yet to allow a single 2019 touchdown pass in zone. Jameis has a 4:8 TD-to-INT ratio against zone looks this season. While Winston is always capable of big games when his high-risk 50-50 decisions luckbox into positive outcomes, I personally would prefer to stream Tennessee’s D/ST here. On Week 7 tape review, first-round DT Jeffery Simmons made an immediate impact in his NFL debut and poses serious problems for offenses adjacent to fellow interior rusher Jurrell Casey. … Tampa Bay’s pre-bye Week 6 blowout loss to Carolina provided minimal clarity on any potential changes to OC Byron Leftwich’s backfield usage; Ronald Jones, Peyton Barber, and Dare Ogunbowale combined for only 16 touches, and Ogunbowale led the unit in snaps (58%) in game-long negative script. Jones has drawn just six targets on the season and shown a basement-low floor with 56 total yards or fewer in three of Tampa Bay’s last five games. Barber has single-digit touches in three straight. Ogunbowale is primarily a pass blocker. Jones is Tampa Bay’s lone fantasy-viable running back, and even he is only a flex option with nearly zero receiving involvement on an underdog team playing on the road.
Winston’s 2019 target distribution: Chris Godwin and Mike Evans 55; Ogunbowale 21; O.J. Howard 18; Cameron Brate 14; Breshad Perriman 12; Bobo Wilson 11; Scotty Miller 10; Barber 9; Jones 6. … While Godwin has more than earned every-week WR1 treatment with six TDs in six games and a league-high average of 110.3 receiving yards, it’s also true that this sets up as one of Godwin’s toughest challenges. Titans slot CB Logan Ryan has helped contain fellow interior WRs Jarvis Landry (4/67/0), Keenan Allen (4/61/0), Dede Westbrook (5/46/0), and Cole Beasley (3/21/0) while allowing a miniscule 71.7 passer rating when targeted this year. … Although Tennessee’s secondary has done well to limit big wideout games in general, perimeter WRs D.J. Chark (4/76/1), Courtland Sutton (4/76/0), John Brown (5/75/0), Odell Beckham (7/71/0), T.Y. Hilton (4/43/1), and Duke Williams (4/29/1) have been more successful against DC Dean Pees’ defense. This should bode positively for Evans (6’5/231), who has a severe size advantage on bite-sized Titans boundary CBs Malcolm Butler (5’10/187) and Adoree Jackson (5’10/186). Evans also popped as a top-five receiver in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Buy Low Air Yards Model. … Scoreless on the year and held to 35 yards or fewer in 5-of-6 games, Howard remains a fantasy TE2 barring a drastic change in forthcoming usage. He’s averaging three targets and 27 Air Yards per game.
Update: Titans CB Adoree Jackson (foot) is out for Week 8, likely forcing LeShaun Sims into the starting lineup across from Malcolm Butler. Sims has barely played this year after coughing up 13 receptions on 18 targets for 159 yards and two touchdowns last season, “good” for a team-worst 136.1 passer rating allowed.
Although the Titans should have lost in Week 7 only to be saved by Melvin Gordon’s final-play goal-line fumble, Ryan Tannehill injected life into Tennessee’s offense with his first 300-passing-yard game since September of 2016, showing decisiveness, accuracy, and composure predecessor Marcus Mariota sorely lacked. The Bucs’ pass-funnel defense has supported high floors by allowing top-15 quarterback results in four straight games, including top-four outcomes to Daniel Jones (QB2), Jared Goff (QB4), and Teddy Bridgewater (QB4). Down to 24th in both sack rate (4.9%) and QB Hit Rate (13.3%), Tampa’s defense combines gifting clean pockets with poor coverage, surrendering the NFL’s fourth-most 20-plus-yard completions per game (4.3). While I question Tannehill’s upside on what remains a run-based team, he offers plug-and-play streamer appeal in this plum draw. … Derrick Henry extended his streak of 100-plus yards and/or a touchdown in home games to eight in last week’s victory and is now averaging 20.3 touches on the year. Dion Lewis topped four touches just once in the last six weeks. While the Bucs pose a difficult on-paper run-defense matchup – DC Todd Bowles’ unit has stymied enemy backs for 116/315/3 (2.72 YPC) rushing – Henry’s workload security as a home-favorite bellcow should keep him locked into season-long lineups as an RB2. Jameis Winston’s tendency to implode should also put Henry on the FanDuel tournament radar in correlations with Tennessee’s D/ST. Averaging fewer than two targets per game, Henry is always less appealing on full-PPR Draft Kings.
Tannehill’s 2019 target distribution: Corey Davis 11; A.J. Brown 10; Adam Humphries 8; Jonnu Smith 4; Tajae Sharpe 3; Delanie Walker and Anthony Firkser 2; Henry and Lewis 1. … Tampa Bay presents a plus draw for wideouts; Michael Thomas (11/182/2), Robert Woods (13/164/0), Cooper Kupp (9/121/1), Sterling Shepard (7/100/1), Curtis Samuel (5/91/0, 4/70/1), D.J. Moore (9/89/0, 7/73/0), Darius Slayton (3/82/0), and Brandin Cooks (6/71/0) all met or beat expectations against the Bucs within their last five games. While I’m skeptical about the sustainability of Tennessee’s passing success, there’s no question this is a near-ideal spot for it to continue. Brown drew eight Week 7 targets to Davis’ seven, while Davis’ 58 Air Yards slightly edged Brown’s 56. Both are matchup-driven WR3 options with DFS-tournament viability versus Tampa Bay. … Humphries is scoreless on the season with one game above 50 yards. … Sharpe caught a Week 7 red-zone TD but played just 37% of his team’s snaps. … Titans tight ends are a situation to avoid; battling knee swelling, Walker played just five snaps in last week’s win, while Smith hasn’t run more than 18 routes in a 2019 game. Firkser is also siphoning snaps and occasional targets.
Score Prediction: Titans 23, Bucs 21
Broncos at Colts
Team Totals: Colts 25, Broncos 19
Nationally embarrassed by a Chiefs team mostly quarterbacked by Matt Moore last Thursday night, the Broncos will again trot out pocket-sloth Joe Flacco with rookie Drew Lock (thumb, I.R.) still a ways away from clearance. Fantasy’s No. 23 passer seven weeks in, Flacco is a low-end two-quarterback-league play, even versus a Colts defense that has yielded top-12 results in 4-of-6 weeks. Flacco has finished better than QB17 in just 1-of-7 starts. Indianapolis is also getting secondary reinforcements with FS Malik Hooker and slot CB Kenny Moore due back from knee injuries. … Trusted in blitz protection and as a receiver, Royce Freeman out-snapped Phillip Lindsay for the fourth straight game in last Thursday’s loss while logging 14-plus touches for the fifth time in six weeks. Even as Lindsay is more explosive, first-year OC Rich Scangarello prefers Freeman’s size and versatility in Denver’s lead-back role and envisions Lindsay as an explosive change of pace. Before the season, ex-Falcons assistant Scangarello compared Freeman to Devonta Freeman and Lindsay to Tevin Coleman. Nevertheless, both Broncos backs should have fresh legs coming off their mini-bye and catch a plus draw against the Colts, who’ve generously permitted 112/507/2 (4.53 YPC) rushing to enemy backs. As usual, Lindsay is an upside RB2 play and Freeman an underrated RB2/flex option in a game where both backs should push for 15-plus touches.
Flacco’s 2019 target distribution: Courtland Sutton 54; Emmanuel Sanders 44; Freeman 31; Lindsay 27; Noah Fant 24; DaeSean Hamilton 22; Jeff Heuerman 10. … Sutton’s year-two breakout is real with 75-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 6-of-7 games, and his usage stranglehold on the Broncos’ passing offense can only rise with Sanders shipped to San Francisco. Even as Sutton was previously dominating Denver’s target share at 39%, Sanders commanded a respectable 27%, and drop-machine Fant was third at 17%. That leaves a massive gap to fill. Julio Jones (8/128/1), DeAndre Hopkins (9/106/1), Kenny Stills (4/105/0), Byron Pringle (6/103/1), Mecole Hardman (4/79/0), Mohamed Sanu (6/75/0), and Tyrell Williams (3/36/1) all turned in useful wideout box scores versus the Colts’ banged-up secondary in their last four games. Sutton is a locked-in WR2 who should stand out on Week 8 DFS-tournament radars. … Hamilton hasn’t had a good year, but his 2018 box-score lines in Sanders’ absence were 7/47/1 > 7/46/0 > 6/40/1 > 5/49/0. Hamilton should be added in all PPR leagues as Flacco’s top underneath pass option. … Fant also stands to benefit, although his biggest obstacle is Fant’s own poor play. Fant drew a season-high five targets in last week’s blowout loss but committed multiple drops and has yet to clear 40 yards in a 2019 game. Fant is a matchup-based Week 8 streamer against a Colts defense permitting the NFL’s sixth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends. … Dynasty-league sleeper Tim Patrick (broken hand) should eventually emerge as Denver’s third receiver but isn’t expected to be activated until Week 11.
Jacoby Brissett has gone from early-season game manager to every-week QB1 contender with top-12 fantasy scores in four of his last five starts and 13 all-purpose TDs compared to five turnovers during that span. Brissett’s matchup is among fantasy’s toughest, however; not a single quarterback to face Denver has registered a top-12 week. I would like Brissett better as a Week 8 play if the Broncos found a pre-game trade partner for top CB Chris Harris. As is, Brissett looks like a top-15ish quarterback option. … Even as Marlon Mack lacked Week 7 efficiency with 56 scoreless yards, he topped 20 touches for the fourth time in six 2019 appearances and now has three catches in four of his last five games. Just short of a true every-down back, Mack played 70% of Indy’s offensive snaps against the Texans and equaled his season high in routes run. Favored at home facing a Broncos defense against which enemy backfields are averaging 29.9 combined touches per game, Mack is a shoo-in RB1 starter in season-long leagues.
Brissett’s post-bye target distribution: T.Y. Hilton 11; Zach Pascal 7; Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle 5; Mack 3; Chester Rogers and Nyheim Hines 2; Jordan Wilkins 1. … Broncos top CB Chris Harris stated Tuesday that he plans to shadow Hilton, which shouldn’t automatically remove Hilton from fantasy lineups but does lower his projected floor. Only two enemy receivers have cleared 75 yards against Vic Fangio’s secondary this season. I’m treating Hilton as a boom-bust WR2. … Although Pascal busted out for a career-best 6/106/2 stat line in Week 7’s win over Houston, Pascal concerningly ranked fourth among Colts wideouts in routes run (18) behind Hilton (40), Rogers (22), and Deon Cain (19), playing just 47% of Indianapolis’ offensive snaps. Pascal does have 70-plus yards and/or a touchdown in three of his last four games, albeit on uneven target counts of 3 > 7 > 2 > 7 during that span. He’s a volatile WR3/flex option in a suboptimal matchup. … Ebron cleared 50 yards for the first time this season in last week’s victory but still hasn’t topped five targets in a 2019 game. On such low usage, Ebron is a touchdown-or-bust punt facing a Broncos defense that has allowed just one enemy tight end (Darren Waller, 7/70/0) to clear 45 yards this year, most recently putting clamps on Travis Kelce (6/44/0). … Doyle still hasn’t cleared 50 yards in a 2019 game despite nearly doubling up Ebron in snaps played (309 to 179).
Score Prediction: Colts 23, Broncos 17
Panthers at 49ers
Team Totals: 49ers 23.5, Panthers 18
The Panthers return from their bye for a near-impossible matchup in the Bay Area, where DC Robert Saleh is garnering 2020 head-coaching buzz for coordinating a defense that allowed ten combined points in its last three games and has held 5-of-6 quarterbacks faced to fantasy results of QB24 or worse. It’s a to-the-wolves matchup for Kyle Allen, who in all likelihood will struggle mightily before giving way to Cam Newton (foot) for Week 9. … Christian McCaffrey’s draw is similarly imposing; Saleh’s unit has stymied enemy backs for 112/450/0 (4.02 YPC) rushing and an NFL-low 23.2 receiving yards per game keyed by athletic-phenom LBs Fred Warner and Kwon Alexander. While box-score expectations should be lowered based on Carolina’s Week 8 opponent, CMC remains a volume-secure RB1 play averaging a league-high 27.0 touches with nine touchdowns through six games.
Allen’s 2019 target distribution: McCaffrey 28; Curtis Samuel 26; D.J. Moore 25; Greg Olsen 20; Jarius Wright 12. … While Samuel and Moore’s sheer after-catch explosiveness may allow one to get free for a big Week 8 play, both are dicey WR3/flex options facing a 49ers defense that has given up a league-low 10 completions of 20-plus yards and the NFC’s fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. … Teams targeting tight ends against San Francisco are 21-of-31 passing for a paltry 134 yards (4.3 YPA) and one touchdown on the season, individually stymieing O.J. Howard (4/32/0), Vance McDonald (1/10/0), and otherwise red-hot Gerald Everett (2/9/0). The brutal draw downgrades Olsen into fringe TE1/2 range.
The 49ers’ Week 8 passing-game outlook isn’t much better; despite an early-season bye, Carolina leads the NFL in sacks (27) and ranks second in QB hits (50) while holding 5-of-6 quarterbacks faced to fantasy outcomes of QB15 or worse. San Francisco is still missing both starting offensive tackles (LT Joe Staley, broken fibula, and Mike McGlinchey, knee surgery), while game-manager Jimmy Garoppolo has scored above QB16 in just 1-of-6 starts. He’s a weak two-QB-league play. … Halting the pass but vulnerable on the ground, Carolina has maintained run-funnel tendencies since losing DT Kawann Short (shoulder) to I.R., permitting 122/555/6 (4.55 YPC) rushing to enemy backs. This plays into the 49ers’ run-first ways after Tevin Coleman handled Week 7 season highs in touches (22) and snaps (66%) at Washington and further expanded his team lead in red-zone carries from 15 to 1 over Matt Brieda. Based on matchup and his rising usage as a home-favorite lead back, Coleman is a Fanduel-specific DFS-tournament play. … Albeit perhaps mainly due to FedEx Field’s wet conditions and Jeff Wilson’s north-south “mudder” profile, Wilson’s Week 7 reemergence as a backfield factor is concerning for Breida, whose nine touches and 27% playing-time clip were both season lows. Breida is a high-risk, low-floor flex option versus the Panthers with Coleman continuing to separate himself as coach Kyle Shanahan’s preferred 1A runner.
Garoppolo’s 2019 target distribution: George Kittle 42; Deebo Samuel 22; Dante Pettis 17; Marquise Goodwin 16; Kendrick Bourne 14; Breida 13; Richie James 9; Coleman 8; Raheem Mostert 6. … All 49ers pass catchers busted in a Week 7 game where Jimmy G threw for a year-low 151 yards and didn’t lead a single touchdown drive in rain-soaked D.C. … Kittle still led the team in targets for the fourth straight game and remains an elite TE1 play against Carolina’s zone defense, which yielded 143 yards and a Cameron Brate TD on 13 tight end targets (11.0 YPA) in its last two games. Kittle has drawn a dominant 31% target share versus zone coverage this season (Sports Info Solutions), fourth highest among all NFL pass catchers. … Tuesday trade acquisition Emmanuel Sanders joins a crowded pass-catcher unit that is paced by Kittle and expected to get Deebo Samuel (groin) back this week. Pettis led 49ers wideouts in Week 7 routes (24), Bourne in targets (4). Even if Sanders eventually emerges as San Francisco’s clear-cut No. 1 wideout, that distinction won’t necessarily reap helpful fantasy rewards on a run-first team where Kittle remains the top pass option. No team has thrown the ball at a lower rate than the 49ers this season.
Score Prediction: 49ers 20, Panthers 13
Raiders at Texans
Team Totals: Texans 29, Raiders 22
Derek Carr’s best to-date fantasy outcome is QB17 in a smashmouth Raiders offense severely short on receiving weapons. In line with his career norms, Carr has continued to lack downfield aggressiveness – he ranks 28th among 34 qualified signal callers in percentage of 20-plus-yard attempts (9%) – and adds nothing on the ground with 4.5 rushing yards per start. Yet Carr’s Week 8 matchup is enticing on paper in a projected high-scoring affair against a Texans defense that’s given up top-12 QB1 results in 6-of-7 games and is still dealing with hamstring injuries to starting CBs Johnathan Joseph and Bradley Roby, forcing coach/GM Bill O’Brien to swing a Monday trade with his Week 8 opponent, acquiring CB Gareon Conley from the Raiders for a 2020 third-round pick. Ultimately, I’m viewing Carr as a better two-QB-league play than usual but fading him as a season-long streamer. … Week 7 showed little change in Josh Jacobs’ passing-game usage; his 14 routes run matched his season average, and Jacobs played just 56% of Oakland’s offensive snaps in its three-score loss to Green Bay. As the Raiders are seven-point dogs at Houston, Jacobs remains at risk of playing-time loss in what amounts to a two-down role. With enemy backs managing 122/496/2 (4.07 YPC) rushing against the Texans, Jacobs is again a low-floor RB2 start.
Update: Coach Jon Gruden revealed that Josh Jacobs is legitimately questionable for Week 8 due to a shoulder injury. Jacobs did not practice on Wednesday. Behind Jacobs, Jalen Richard has out-snapped DeAndre Washington 99 to 69 on the year, although Washington holds a 37-to-22 lead in touches. My sense is they’d form an even timeshare as PPR-oriented RB2/flex options if Jacobs can’t play against the Texans.
Carr’s target distribution: Darren Waller 50; Hunter Renfrow 26; Tyrell Williams 24; Foster Moreau 14; Jacobs and Derek Carrier 11; Jalen Richard 10; DeAndre Washington 9; Keelan Doss 8; Trevor Davis 6; Marcell Ateman 1. … Teams targeting tight ends against the Texans are 17-of-26 passing (65.4%) for 205 yards (7.9 YPA) and a touchdown over the last three weeks, including Eric Ebron’s Week 7 season-best game (4/70/1). Leading all NFL tight ends in target share (26%) and catches per game (7.3), Waller is the perfect “bring it back” candidate in DFS-game stacks featuring Texans. Waller’s lowly 6.3-yard aDOT ensures he’ll stay collecting short passes from checkdown-machine Carr in comeback mode. … Renfrow is scoreless on the year without a game above 30 yards, lacking any tangible upside. … Williams may try to gut out his painful plantar fascia injury but hasn’t cleared 50 yards since Week 1 and would be no lock to make it through Sunday’s game. If active, he’ll be a boom-bust WR3 option. … Sort of the Raiders’ version of Dallas Goedert to Waller’s Zach Ertz, Moreau has strung together consecutive stat lines of 3/30/1 > 4/46/0 > 2/24/1, albeit on target counts of 3 > 4 > 3 and route totals of 11 > 12 > 14. Oakland’s wideout shortage has forced coach Jon Gruden to deploy more two-tight end sets, but Moreau’s usage falls just short of viable-streamer levels. … These were Oakland’s wide receiver route totals in Williams’ Week 7 absence: Davis 22; Renfrow 16; Doss 15; Ateman 13. Doss led the unit in targets with five.
Fraudulently “3-2” in their first five games, the Raiders were exposed in last Sunday’s loss at Lambeau, where Aaron Rodgers’ Pack sunk Oakland’s season-long point differential to -38 by harpooning DC Paul Guenther’s defense for six all-purpose TDs, even without Davante Adams (toe). Deshaun Watson is an even more-intimidating foe with Kenny Stills back and just three sacks taken in his last three starts. In clean pockets, Watson is averaging 8.6 yards per attempt with a 10:4 TD-to-INT ratio, notable since the Raiders have generated the NFL’s eighth-lowest sack rate (4.7%) and sixth-lowest QB Hit Rate (11.3%) and allowed top-15 fantasy quarterback outcomes in four of their last five games, including three top-six results. Watson should be Week 8’s most-popular DFS play. … More reason to buy Watson is Oakland’s pass-funnel profile; Guenther’s defense has held enemy backs to 124/481/3 (3.88 YPC) rushing but allowed the NFL’s fifth-most receiving yards per game (51.8) to the position. This game theoretically sets up better for Duke Johnson than Carlos Hyde, yet Johnson still hasn’t topped 10 touches since Week 1 despite outgaining Hyde 7.0 to 4.1 in yards per touch. Hyde has one target or fewer in 6-of-7 games, rendering him a touchdown-dependent RB2/flex option. Johnson is a leap-of-faith PPR flex.
Watson’s 2019 target distribution: DeAndre Hopkins 68; Will Fuller 49; Johnson, Keke Coutee, and Darren Fells 22; Jordan Akins 20; Stills 19; Hyde 9. … Even as Hopkins’ ceiling games have been fewer and further between than expected, he enters Week 8 with five-plus receptions in 7-of-7 weeks to face a Raiders secondary that’s been gashed for wideout lines of 6/172/2 (Demarcus Robinson), 2/133/1 (Marquez Valdes-Scantling), 7/120/0 (Courtland Sutton), 7/97/2 (Allen Robinson), 5/86/1 (Emmanuel Sanders), 4/72/0 (Zach Pascal), 4/61/1 (Mecole Hardman), 3/55/1 (Adam Thielen), and 2/54/1 (Jake Kumerow). Let’s go right back to Watson-Hopkins DFS stacks. … As Fuller left Week 7 and didn’t return, Stills operated as Hopkins’ bookend with Coutee in the slot. Stills set season highs in routes (40) and snaps (94%) and will be a legitimate WR2 play with Fuller on the shelf with what appears to be a severe hamstring pull. The Raiders have allowed a league-high 32 completions of 20-plus yards and traded top CB Gareon Conley on Monday. I noticed Stills available on several waiver wires in my season-long leagues and made aggressive bids to land him. In my top-money league, I got him for 24% of our budget. Per Sports Info Solutions, Stills leads the Texans in receiving yards gained on 20-plus-yard targets (229) in his five 2019 appearances. … Coutee also set year highs in routes (32) and playing time (70%) in last week’s loss to the Colts and warrants PPR-specific WR3/flex consideration. Coutee runs 70% of his routes inside, where the Raiders have been thumped for 46 completions on 60 slot targets (77%), 583 yards (9.7 YPA), and five touchdowns. … I continue to throw my hands up trying to decipher which Texans tight end is stream-able week to week. As usual, their Week 7 usage was virtually identical with Fells and Akins each commanding two targets and Akins running 27 routes Fells’ 18, but Fells seeing 17 Air Yards to Akins’ 8.
Score Prediction: Texans 34, Raiders 20
Browns at Patriots
Team Totals: Patriots 29.5, Browns 16.5
Already fantasy’s 2019 MVP relative to draft slot, the Patriots’ D/ST draws another prime opportunity to rack up points in a home bout with Baker Mayfield, who’s committed 20 turnovers in his last 11 starts and plays behind an offensive line that has surrendered the NFL’s eighth-highest sack rate (8%) and third-highest QB Hit Rate (20.8%). Mayfield’s yards per attempt plummets from 9.3 to 6.3 against man coverage, worrisome against a New England secondary that plays man at a league-high 64% rate. With Stephon Gilmore capable of silencing Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry posing minimal threat in Jonathan Jones’ eraser slot coverage, and David Njoku (wrist) out until Week 12, Mayfield’s fantasy-success probability is low with just one to-date finish above QB14. … Nick Chubb’s outlook is also worrisome as a road dog facing a Patriots defense that has held enemy backs to 111/402/0 (3.62 YPC) rushing and 29.9 receiving yards per game. Chubb nevertheless belongs stapled into season-long lineups averaging 22.3 touches per game. … Eligible for Week 10 return, Kareem Hunt should be rostered in all season-long leagues with a fresh set of late-year legs in an offense that draws the Dolphins, Bengals, and Cardinals down the stretch. Chubb has more than earned job security as Cleveland’s bellcow, but no NFL position is more injury propense than running back, and at very least Hunt should offer change-of-pace juice.
Mayfield’s 2019 target distribution: Beckham 54; Landry 44; Chubb 26; Damion Ratley 15; Ricky Seals-Jones 12; Dontrell Hilliard 8; D’Ernest Johnson and Antonio Callaway 7; Demetrius Harris 6; Rashard Higgins 3. … While it can’t hurt that Beckham is popping as this week’s No. 3 buy-low Air Yards player, his matchup couldn’t get tougher as Gilmore’s likely shadow victim facing a Patriots secondary that’s permitted an AFC-low 12 completions of 20-plus yards. Gilmore hasn’t been burned for a touchdown in ten straight regular season games. … Bill Belichick would almost certainly prefer to be “beaten” by slot-man Landry rather than Beckham, and Landry’s historical production against the Patriots suggests he’s fairly low on Belichick’s must-stop priority list. Beginning with most recent, Landry’s last seven stat lines in New England games are 8/46/2 > 8/70/0 > 9/76/1 > 10/135/0 > 6/72/0 > 6/71/0 > 8/99/0. Short throws from Mayfield to Landry will give Cleveland its best chance to move the Week 8 sticks. … Seals-Jones overtook Harris as the Browns’ main tight end before their Week 7 bye, out-snapping Harris 68% to 26% and parlaying 36 routes into a fantasy-useful 3/47/1 receiving line on six targets. In a Week 8 game where Cleveland projects to play from behind, you could do worse as a tight end streamer. … Higgins (knee, ankle) should finally return to share third-receiver time with mistake-prone Callaway.
Especially since Cleveland’s talented front of Myles Garrett, Larry Ogunjobi, Sheldon Richardson, and Olivier Vernon is superior to a Pats offensive line that lost LT Isaiah Wynn (toe) and C David Andrews (blood clots), this game sets up for Tom Brady to fire a bevy of short passes that circumvent obvious mismatches up front. Browns DC Steve Wilks’ defense has yielded top-16 fantasy outcomes to 4-of-6 quarterbacks faced, while Brady has top-14 results in 5-of-7 starts. This doesn’t necessarily set up as a Brady-ceiling game, but he’s a fine season-long play. … Cleveland’s biggest defensive weakness is on the ground, where it’s surrendered 144/718/4 (4.99 YPC) rushing to enemy backs. Even as Sony Michel’s efficiency has lacked sans Wynn, Andrews, and FB James Develin (neck, I.R.), Weeks 4-7 touch counts of 17 > 19 > 25 > 20 show Michel hasn’t fallen out of Belichick and OC Josh McDaniels’ favor, especially in scoring position, where Michel leads the NFL in carries inside the ten-yard line (19) and inside the five (10). Even with a miniscule passing-game role, Michel is an every-week RB2 play with RB1 upside. … One week after losing a touchdown on replay, James White’s Week 7 first-quarter TD was negated by Julian Edelman’s block-in-the-back flag, hard luck in White’s third straight game of double-digit touches. White has also drawn at least eight targets in four straight weeks, albeit on usage enhanced by Rex Burkhead’s (foot) absence. Nevertheless, White should stay loaded into PPR-specific fantasy lineups as an RB2/flex if Burkhead misses again. Among NFL backs, only Austin Ekeler (49) has more catches than White’s 45.
After the Pats essentially swapped out Josh Gordon for Mohamed Sanu this week, Edelman and Phillip Dorsett stand high atop New England’s pass-catcher corps in terms of rapport with Brady. With Browns outside CBs Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams (hamstrings) finally back, Edelman should put a clown suit on weak-link T.J. Carrie in the slot; PFF has charged Carrie with 30 catches allowed on 42 targets (71%) for 378 yards (9.0 YPA) and three TDs. Edelman has seen an absurd 36 targets and averaged 8.0 catches over his last three games. … Dating back to last season, Dorsett has caught seven TDs in his last nine full games with Brady. As Ward and Williams were both sidelined since Week 2, they figure to be rusty and exploitable by the Patriots’ newly locked-in No. 1 perimeter threat. … Sanu may eventually emerge as a fantasy factor but probably won’t handle a full complement of snaps less than a week after his acquisition, especially with Jakobi Meyers playing well. I’m not thrilled with Sanu’s landing spot from a fantasy standpoint; he’ll likely max out as the Patriots’ co-No. 3 pass option alongside Dorsett behind Edelman and White. … First-round pick N’Keal Harry is worth adding in deep leagues. Eligible to come off I.R./return, Harry is New England’s most-talented outside receiver, even if he looked raw throughout August before injuring his ankle and missing Weeks 1-7. … Ben Watson was a rough watch in Week 7 – he and Brady were rarely on the same page – but he respectably drew five targets on 76% of the snaps and offers desperation streamer appeal. At very least, Watson should be owned in TE-premium leagues.
Update: The Patriots ruled out TEs Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse; Ben Watson should be a near-full-time player again versus Cleveland.
Update II: The Browns ruled out FS Damarious Randall (hamstring), which should be a good thing for both Watson and deep threat Phillip Dorsett.
Score Prediction: Patriots 24, Browns 13
Packers at Chiefs
Team Totals: Packers 26, Chiefs 22
Coming off a six-touchdown eruption versus the fraudulent Raiders, Aaron Rodgers catches a tougher draw at Arrowhead Stadium, where DC Steve Spagnuolo’s defense gets back difference-maker DT Chris Jones (groin) from a two-game absence and moved to top five in the NFL in sacks (20) after annihilating Joe Flacco last Thursday night. Only six teams have allowed fewer yards per pass attempt than Kansas City (6.9), and Spags’ secondary has let up just eight touchdown passes in seven games. Davante Adams (toe) also looks to be another week away from returning. While Rodgers obviously can’t be benched in season-long leagues – he’s fantasy’s overall QB2 behind only Deshaun Watson over the last month – there are reasons to believe Rodgers may undershoot recency-biased expectations. … The best way to attack the Chiefs remains on the ground – they’ve been destroyed for 178/889/5 (4.99 YPC) rushing by enemy backs – most notable for Aaron Jones after he retook Week 7 lead-back duties from Jamaal Williams against Oakland. Hands down the superior talent, Jones out-touched Williams 16 to 7 and out-snapped him 57% to 40%. Williams isn’t going away and remains flex-play viable at Arrowhead, but Jones deserves continued lead-back treatment and locked-in RB2 distinction with RB1 upside each week.
Update: The Chiefs ruled out top DT Chris Jones (groin), DE Frank Clark (neck), and slot CB Kendall Fuller (thumb), decimating their defense against red-hot Aaron Rodgers, who should thrive in clean pockets on Sunday night.
Rodgers’ Week 7 target distribution: Williams and Geronimo Allison 5; Jones, Allen Lazard, and Jimmy Graham 4; Marquez Valdes-Scantling 3; Jake Kumerow and Dan Vitale 2. … Without Adams to control targets and bring clarity to the corps, Packers wideouts have devolved into a whack-a-mole situation. For instance, banged-up Valdes-Scantling turned in his season-best game (2/133/1) in last week’s win over Oakland but ran the fourth-most routes among Green Bay receivers (13). Week 6 star Lazard ran the most pass patterns (28) but finished fifth on the team in receiving yards (42). Allison tied for the team lead in targets with only five, and Kumerow parlayed his two looks into 54 yards, including a brilliant 37-yard sideline score. Graham resurrected for a perfect 4/65/1 stat line on four targets. Even FB Vitale chipped in gains of 26 and 16. The good news is Week 8’s matchup sets up nicely on paper; D.J. Chark (4/146/1), Chris Conley (6/97/1), Courtland Sutton (6/87/0), Marvin Jones (3/77/0), Kenny Golladay (5/67/2), Emmanuel Sanders (5/60/0), DeAndre Hopkins (9/55/0), Tyrell Williams (5/46/1), and Dede Westbrook (5/30/1) have all exposed the vulnerability of Spags’ secondary. The bad news is Green Bay runs a four-man wideout rotation, uses both backs in the passing game, and sporadically involves Graham. That severe lack of predictability renders the entire pass-catcher corps a fantasy crapshoot on Sunday night.
The Chiefs will turn to 13th-year backup Matt Moore in relief of Patrick Mahomes (knee) beginning with Sunday night’s home bout with the Packers, whose Mike Pettine-coordinated defense has held 5-of-7 quarterbacks faced to fantasy results of QB16 or worse while ranking top 12 in sacks (18) and QB hits (37). Chiefs coach Andy Reid figures to approach Moore as a poor man’s Alex Smith, whose box-score success was always a product of his surrounding parts. The Chiefs’ supporting cast is finally healthy after an injury-plagued first half of the year, and Reid’s scheme famously elevates individual pieces. Moore’s floor and ceiling may seem low, but he is an underrated two-quarterback-league start in this favorable offensive environment. The Chiefs are also getting back LT Eric Fisher (sports hernia) from a five-game absence. … As enemy backs have carved Pettine’s defense for 160/799/7 (4.99 YPC) rushing, Reid might be smart to build a running back-focused game plan sans Mahomes. LeSean McCoy was Reid’s back of choice in each of Kansas City’s last two games on touch counts of 10 and 14, whereas Damien Williams (2, 11) and Darrel Williams (1, 4) took considerable backseats. While all Chiefs backs remain dicey fantasy bets, McCoy’s outlook appears to be most favorable with double-digit touches in 6-of-7 games and as a home-favorite lead back in this plus draw. Damien is playable only on one-game DFS slates.
Update: The Chiefs ruled out LT Eric Fisher (sports hernia) and LG Andrew Wylie (ankle), who both seemed likely to return early in the week. This keeps Green Bay’s D/ST squarely in play against journeyman QB Matt Moore behind a depleted left side of Kansas City’s offensive line.
Moore’s 2019 target distribution: Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce 5; Demarcus Robinson 3; Damien 2; McCoy, Darrel, and Mecole Hardman 1. … For comparison’s sake, Moore’s career yards per attempt is 7.0 versus Alex Smith’s 6.9, and Moore’s TD Rate (4.6%) is superior to Smith’s (3.9%). In Smith’s final Chiefs season (2017), Tyreek was fantasy’s WR4 and Kelce the overall TE2. … Hill progressed to a season-high 87% of last week’s snaps and iced Denver by whipping top CB Chris Harris for a 57-yard score. Quarterback and matchup proof, Hill has shown time and again he’s a player to never bet against. Packers top CB Jaire Alexander has struggled of late, allowing three touchdowns and 10.4 yards per attempt when targeted over the last month. … Not only is Kelce popping in Week 8’s Air Yards Buy Low Model, his matchup is juicy. Rocked by Darren Waller for last week’s overall TE1 performance, Packers opponents are 38-of-50 passing for 383 yards (7.7 YPA) and four touchdowns when targeting tight ends. Especially on Thursday-through-Monday slates, no one will be playing Kelce in DFS this week. … Sammy Watkins (hamstring) is finally due back to throw a wrench into Kansas City’s wide receiver pecking order. In terms of routes run, last week’s distribution was Hill (29) > Robinson (28) > Hardman (18) > Byron Pringle (4). My guess is Sunday night’s primary three-receiver package will place Hill and Robinson outside with Watkins in the slot, Hardman mixing in rotationally, and Pringle focusing on special teams.
Score Prediction: Chiefs 23, Packers 21
Dolphins at Steelers
Team Totals: Steelers 28.5, Dolphins 14.5
Even after their season-best offensive effort in last week’s ten-point loss to Buffalo, this is a return-to-Earth game for Miami on the road facing a Steelers defense fresh off its bye that ranks top five in both sack rate (8.6%) and QB Hit Rate (18.5%). As all six defenses to face the Dolphins have banked top-12 results, Pittsburgh is among Week 8’s top fantasy D/ST plays. Virtually certain to play this game under heavy duress, I’m expecting a multi-turnover outing from Ryan Fitzpatrick that could easily be closed out by Josh Rosen. … Although Mark Walton led Miami’s backfield in Week 7 touches (15) and playing time (53%), he managed 58 scoreless yards and got buried repeatedly in blitz protection, especially concerning against Pittsburgh’s pass rush. The Steelers rank No. 6 in tackle-for-loss rate (25.7%) and have stymied enemy backs for 144/550/4 (3.82 YPC) rushing. Walton and Kenyan Drake lack season-long viability and are playable only as dart throws on one-game DFS-tournament slates. The Steelers have yielded 6.5 running back catches per game, giving superior receiver Drake a leg up on Walton.
Fitzpatrick’s 2019 target distribution: DeVante Parker 22; Preston Williams 21; Drake 16; Mike Gesicki 12; Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson 8; Kalen Ballage 6; Jakeem Grant 5; Walton 2. … Parker has scored a touchdown in three straight games and tied Williams for last week’s team lead in routes run (37). Parker has been highly inefficient on Fitzpatrick’s targets – he’s caught just 41% of them – but Parker’s big-play ability keeps him in WR4/flex territory and quite usable on one-game DFS slates. … Williams is Week 8’s best Dolphins pass-catcher play, popping in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model and having efficiently caught 15-of-22 Fitzpatrick targets for a team-high 208 yards and a TD. Williams has played 83% or more of Miami’s snaps in four straight games. … Gesicki has finally begun to make noise with consecutive 40-plus-yard games operating in a Mark Andrews-like passing-down rotational role. Steelers opponents are 32-of-42 passing for 339 yards (8.1 YPA) and four touchdowns when targeting tight ends over their last five games. … For one-game DFS-slate purposes, this is how Week 7 routes were distributed among Dolphins receivers behind Parker and Williams in Week 7: Hurns 16; Wilson 11; Grant 5; Isaiah Ford 2.
The Steelers come off their much-needed bye to host the NFL’s worst team for a game James Conner should dominate after resting early-season quad, ankle, and knee injuries during the open date. His usage floor is high with 14-plus touches in 6-of-6 weeks, while backfields facing the Fins are averaging an otherworldly 33.3 touches for 183.8 yards per game. With five TDs in his last five appearances, Conner is a locked-in RB1 in the best matchup he’ll face all year. … Conner’s injuries combined with the lopsided nature of Week 6’s pre-bye destruction of the Chargers propelled Benny Snell to 18 touches, giving Snell flex-play life considering Pittsburgh’s walkover opponent. At least until Jaylen Samuels (knee) returns, Snell is locked into the Steelers’ breather-back/change-up role in a post-Ben Roethlisberger offense that will lean on its run game as much as possible. Snell still has just one catch on two targets in six games; Conner has caught 26 balls for 231 yards and two TDs. … Despite Devlin Hodges’ respectable pre-bye start, the Steelers will restore game-manager duties to Mason Rudolph against the Dolphins, who have been rocked for top-12 QB1 results in 5-of-6 games. Although OC Randy Fichtner has insisted on bubble wrapping Rudolph for short-area throws to this point, Monday night’s game presents an opportunity to increase his range. Rudolph was an aggressive vertical passer at Oklahoma State, and the Dolphins have allowed a league-high 9.4 yards per pass attempt with a 16:1 TD-to-INT ratio against. Rudolph should be locked into two-quarterback-league lineups and is stream-able by desperate season-long teams.
Rudolph’s 2019 target distribution: JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson 20; Conner, Samuels, and James Washington 11; Vance McDonald 8; Nick Vannett 3; Snell, Donte Moncrief, Johnny Holton, and Ryan Switzer 1. … Leave out Hodges’ start and Smith-Schuster has been better than given credit for with 75-plus yards and/or a touchdown in four of Pittsburgh’s other five games. JuJu runs 63% of his routes inside; teams targeting the slot against Miami are 29-of-43 for 429 yards (11.7 YPA) and six TDs. … Third-round rookie Johnson leads Pittsburgh in Air Yards during Rudolph’s three starts (189) and easily has the highest aDOT among Steelers pass catchers (9.4), giving Johnson this unit’s most big-play potential on Monday night. Despite its early bye, Miami has yielded the NFL’s seventh-most 20-plus-yard pass plays (27). Johnson is an underrated WR3 option. … Washington (shoulder) missed Pittsburgh’s pre-bye win over the Chargers and was replaced by Moncrief. Neither has been a fantasy factor all year. … McDonald has topped four targets in just one start all season and lost Weeks 5-6 playing time to trade acquisition Vannett. McDonald should be downgraded to a matchup-based streamer, although this game checks that box. Fins opponents are 29-of-36 passing (81%) for 369 yards (10.3 YPA) when targeting tight ends.
Score Prediction: Steelers 24, Dolphins 16