Fantasy Football: Winners, losers, targets, snap shares, and more from every game in Week 8
Sunday of Week 8 actually had plenty of good news for Fantasy players. Or, at the very least, it had a notable absence of bad news, for the most part. Entering Monday night’s game, this has been the second-highest scoring week of the season at 46.7 combined points per game; the third-highest scoring week was Week 7, when the average game saw 44.4 points.
Hopefully that means we’re starting to see the league-wide offensive malaise lift. Sunday was especially good for the high-end players, who dominate the Week 8 leaderboards, just like we want to see. We needed a reason to be optimistic, because Week 9 is going to present us some challenges, with our first six-team bye week looming. We’ll get to that tomorrow with our first round of rankings for Week 9 plus the top waiver-wire targets, but for now, let’s take a look back at everything you need to know from Sunday’s games.
As always, if you’ve got any questions about what we saw Sunday or what to do for Week 9 and beyond, send them my way with the subject line “#AskFFT” to [email protected] to get some help — I’ll be looking to answer trade questions in Wednesday’s newsletters, so send those questions my way now!
And now, he’s my Week 8 recap, with my thoughts on every game from Sunday:
Week 8 Recap
Broncos 21-Jaguars 17
- Winner: Travis Etienne. Etienne is well ahead of where most people probably expected him to be as a runner, and it’s been very impressive to watch him work. He rushed for 156 yards on 24 carries Sunday, and was especially productive running between the tackles. He’s actually much better as a pure runner than he is as a pass-catcher at this point in his career, which is reflected in how the Jaguars use him. IF you believe he’s going to grow into a weapon in the passing game at some point soon, Etienne’s upside looks incredibly high. I’m not ready to say he’s a top-five RB for the rest of the season, but he’s a top-12 guy, probably.
- Loser: Courtland Sutton. Sutton’s production has collapsed over the past few weeks, and he didn’t really have an excuse for it Sunday. Russell Wilson probably played his best game of the season, but Sutton had just one catch for 13 yards on four targets. He had a pretty bad drop in this one that obviously didn’t help, but Sutton just hasn’t been producing lately, while fellow receiver Jerry Jeudy has. For the first month of the season or so, it looked like Sutton was the clear lead option; now, he’s looking like a 1a or 1b in a not-great passing game. Which makes him a pretty boring WR3 right now.
- One more thing: Greg Dulcich had himself a nice breakout in this one, catching four passes for 87 yards on five targets, and it was his third straight game with double-digit Fantasy points to start his career. It could have been even better, as Dulcich was tackled inside the 1-yard line on one third-quarter catch. Melvin Gordon turned it into a short touchdown.
Falcons 37-Panthers 34
- Winner: D’Onta Foreman. I was way too low on Foreman, even after Chuba Hubbard was ruled out. I just wasn’t that interested in an RB who doesn’t catch passes in a bad offense. Well, he didn’t catch passes, but that was just about all I got right, as the Panthers had nearly 500 yards Sunday. Foreman got 26 carries and turned them into 118 yards and three touchdowns, a truly massive performance — one of the best we’re likely to see from a waiver-wire add all season. I have a hard time seeing the Panthers not using Foreman as the lead back moving forward, even when Hubbard is healthy.
- Loser: Drake London. In a game where the Falcons threw it 28 times, London couldn’t get going, catching four of five passes thrown his way for 31 yards. 28 passes are about as pass-heavy as you can even imagine the Falcons getting at this point, and London was just third on the team in targets. I don’t want to drop a player with London’s upside and talent — and, for whatever it’s worth at this point, he did run a route on 28 of 31 pass plays, so the role is there — but I can’t say you definitely shouldn’t at this point.
- One more thing: I almost don’t want to mention breakout games from DJ Moore and Kyle Pitts for fear of jinxing them. Moore was already having his best game of the season before catching a 62-yard touchdown against double coverage in the waning moments of the game to tie it, while Pitts found the end zone much earlier en route to his five-catch, 80-yard game. These kinds of performances are why it’s been impossible for me to give up on Moore or Pitts, two players I know are among the most talented at their positions. This was probably close to a ceiling outcome for both, but it’s nice to know they can still get there.
Cowboys 49-Bears 29
- Winner: Tony Pollard. I mean, we all saw this coming. Pollard is an explosive playmaker and the Cowboys run the ball really well, so it was just a question of how good Pollard would be with Ezekiel Elliott out. The only frustrating thing here is the knowledge — confirmed by Jerry Jones after the game — that the Cowboys are going to stick with Elliott as their lead rusher moving forward. And, with the team on Week 9, that means we’re probably only going to get this one opportunity for Pollard to be the lead back. At least he lived up to expectations.
- Loser: David Montgomery. Montgomery still played a lot more than Khalil Herbert Sunday, logging 48 snaps to 21 for Herbert. However, Herbert still got 16 carries to 15 for Montgomery, and remained the more productive player, rushing for 99 yards and a touchdown, while Montgomery had 53 yards. Montgomery still has the passing game role — which led to three catches for 22 yards Sunday, which is pretty typical in this offense. Montgomery has enough of a role to matter for Fantasy, but he was an RB2 when he was dominating touches. He isn’t doing that now, and he’s a fringe starter at best.
- One more thing: Jones promised that Dak Prescott was going to be part of the team’s running game last week, and that promise came true Sunday, as Prescott rushed for 34 yards and a touchdown. He’s not going to be Lamar Jackson with the legs, but if the Cowboys are going to use Prescott occasionally as a runner, especially in the red zone, that’s good for the offense as a whole and for Prescott’s Fantasy value — remember, he had at least three rushing touchdowns in each of his first five seasons.
Dolphins 31-Lions 27
- Winner: Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa got a mulligan for an iffy performance in Week 7, but if he had struggled against this Lions defense, there rightly would have been some concern. But there’s no need for that now, as he carved the Lions up for 382 yards and three touchdowns. Tagovailoa’s ability to stay healthy remains a long-term question, but with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle on his side, the production is pretty unquestionable.
- Loser: D’Andre Swift. I was worried Swift would have his usage limited a bit in his first game back from his multi-game absence, and we saw that to a certain extent Sunday. He actually still played more snaps than Jamaal Williams, 29 to 22, but didn’t get many touches. He carried the ball just five times while being targeted five times on 24 routes run. He did catch all five targets for 27 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown early on. That catch made him worth starting, but the usage suggests Swift might be more of an RB2 moving forward than the top-12 guy you thought he was. We’ll see if his role increases moving forward, but this usage was a bit concerning.
- One more thing: Amon-Ra St. brown had a good-but-not-great game, catching seven passes for 69 yards, but he was still the clear top option in the passing game with 10 targets — nobody else had more than six. And he played all but three of the team’s snaps, too, so there were no limitations here despite missing time with an ankle injury and then being forced out for the concussion protocol last week. I’m still viewing him as a buy-low if anyone thinks he isn’t a top-12 WR moving forward.
Vikings 34-Cardinals 26
- Winner: DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins had a good debut in Week 7, but he was dominant in Week 8. He caught 12 of 13 passes thrown his way for a massive 159 yards and an incredible one-handed touchdown grab that might’ve been the play of the day Sunday. He had a whopping 162 air yards, the sixth-most among all receivers in Week 8, while his 13 targets were the second-most. He has a 37% target share through his first two games, putting concerns about last year’s limited target share to rest. He might just be a top-five wide receiver again.
- Loser: Eno Benjamin. Benjamin still played a ton of snaps — 50 of the team’s 70, Sunday — but he just wasn’t a priority at all. He got nine of the team’s 14 RB carries and seven of 10 targets, turning them into four catches for 23 yards. That makes two pretty lousy games out of three as the starter, and I’m guessing he’s going to return to a reserve role whenever James Conner (ribs) is healthy enough to play. What a letdown.
- One more thing: Rondale Moore played 41 of his 70 snaps out of the slot, and wouldn’t you know it, he was much more productive than when he was asked to play almost exclusively outside last week. This was the model for what the Cardinals brought him in to do — he scored on a 38-yard catch and run that saw him find a hole in the zone, split multiple defenders, break a tackle, and sprint to the end zone, and that came just two plays after a 27-yard catch-and-run. Moore is going to be overmatched if he’s asked to play a lot outside, but if he’s in the slot while Hopkins is drawing defensive attention, he’s probably going to be pretty good as the No. 2 option in this passing game.
Saints 24-Raiders 0
- Winner: Alvin Kamara. Whatever else you want to see about the limitations of the Saints offense, their annoying reliance on Taysom Hill near the end zone, or anything else, Sunday’s game helped prove something that I don’t think should have really been in any doubt: He’s still one of this game’s premier playmakers. I’m not sure which of his touchdowns was the best, but the second one highlights his still-elite balance best, so I’ll link to that one. He’s a special player.
- Loser: Derek Carr. The issue in Week 8 for Carr is fairly straightforward: He couldn’t complete passes down the field. On Sunday, he was 1 for 10 on passes 10 or more yards down the line of scrimmage, and you don’t need me to tell you that’s awful. He was 10 for 17 with three touchdowns on those passes in his prior two games, but just 22 for 53 with one touchdown and two picks in his prior four games, so there have definitely been some growing pains. Davante Adams was limited during practice this week due to an illness, so maybe we can chalk it up to that, but Carr has decidedly not taken the step forward we hoped he would when the Raiders added Adams.
- One more thing: Josh Jacobs had 20-plus carries in three straight games entering Sunday, so 10 for 43 yards (with two catches for just 11) was certainly a disappointment. He’s been dominating touches, and the good news is, that continued Sunday — even in a game where he played just two snaps in the fourth quarter, Jacobs was the only RB to get a carry for the Raiders, and four of Ameer Abdullah’s five targets came after Jacobs left. There’s no concern there, at least.
Patriots 22-Jets 17
- Injuries: DeVante Parker (knee) — Parker hurt his knee on the first play of the game and was unable to return. Tyquan Thornton and Kendrick Bourne saw more snaps with Parker out, but neither did anything with them.
- Winner: Rhamondre Stevenson. With Damien Harris back to something like full strength, Stevenson still led the team in carries (16, to Harris’ 11), while earning eight targets (Harris had two). He played 61% of the snaps, and while Harris was actually surprisingly involved in the passing game — he ran 17 routes compared to 23 for Stevenson — Stevenson was still the clear lead back in all phases of the game. He looks like a top-15 RB with this workload, even with Harris healthy.
- Loser: Zach Wilson. To paraphrase one of my favorite jokes from the TV show Community: “This guy’s a mess. It’s like God spilled a quarterback.” Besides an admirable, but typically misguided, level of confidence, I’m not sure there’s anything you can say Wilson does better than even the average NFL quarterback right now. Unless a light goes on, and quick, I’m just not sure there’s much to like about this offense without Breece Hall. Michael Carter played more than half the snaps but turned them into 26 yards on seven carries plus just four catches for 35 yards on seven targets. He’s an RB3, nothing more.
- One more thing: Mac Jones wasn’t quite as combustible as Wilson, but he was pretty awful in his own right here. He had a pick-six nullified by a roughing the passer call and nearly had at least one other interception that was as bone-headed as any Wilson threw; he got away with it thanks to a drop by a Jets linebacker. Outside of Stevenson and Jakobi Meyers, this offense is pretty easy to ignore, too.
Eagles 35-Steelers 13
- Winner: A.J. Brown. Usually in this column, I try to focus on usage notes or something else you can’t get from the box score, but sometimes, we don’t need anything more complicated than: “That boy’s good.” Brown had one catch in the second half and still wound up with three touchdowns. This Eagles offense is ridiculously explosive, and while there may be weeks where one of Brown, Dallas Goedert, or DeVonta Smith disappoints — it was Smith’s turn Sunday, for what it’s worth — all three are must-start options for the upside alone.
- Loser: The Steelers offense. There is absolutely nothing positive to say about this offense right now. Maybe Kenny Pickett will be better coming out of the Week 9 bye, but he comes out of his first four starts averaging just 5.8 yards per attempt with two touchdowns and eight interceptions. It’s been a tough schedule, but Pickett hasn’t given us much reason to believe he can get the most out of a talented receiving corps. At least you don’t have to agonize over start/sit decisions with Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, or George Pickens this week.
- One more thing: You might raise an eyebrow at Boston Scott having seven carries to just nine for Miles Sanders, but this was a bit of a weird game — the Eagles only ran 50 plays Sunday, because their offense was scoring so quickly on nearly every drive. Sanders played one snap in the fourth quarter, and all seven of Scott’s carries came from that point on. There’s no RB controversy here.
Titans 17-Texans 10
- Winner: Derrick Henry. Henry has rushed for over 200 yards in four straight games against the Texans, and it’s honestly stunning that Houston couldn’t figure out how to slow him down even a little bit. Malik Willis was making his first start and he threw the ball just 10 times in a game the Titans never led by more than 14 points. The Titans lined up and said, “Here, stop this,” and the Texans couldn’t. When Henry is going like this, that’s easier said than done.
- Loser: Malik Willis. I thought Willis’ athleticism gave him some upside as a Fantasy QB, but the way the Titans used him Sunday indicates pretty clearly that they just don’t think he’s anywhere close to being ready. There’s no QB controversy here: Ryan Tannehill is going to be the starter for the Titans when he’s healthy. Willis was barely a placeholder.
- One more thing: The Texans offense is a disaster, but one pleasant surprise has been Dameon Pierce’s passing game workload. He’s been targeted four or more times in four straight games, and in a week when he couldn’t find much room in the running game (15 carries, 35 yards), Pierce still had a solid Fantasy game thanks to a late receiving touchdown. I don’t rank him as a top-12 RB the rest of the way because I think his offense holds him back, but Pierce’s usage could make him one if this offense figures things out.
Commanders 17-Colts 16
- Injuries: Jonathan Taylor (ankle) — Taylor left Sunday’s game to get his ankle taped up, though he was able to return. Hopefully, this doesn’t cost him any more time, but it’s worrying that he’s already suffered a recurrence of the injury that cost him multiple games a few weeks back.
- Winner: Antonio Gibson. The Commanders have a frustrating three-way timeshare in their backfield, but Gibson has actually benefitted from Brian Robinson’s emergence as the lead rusher. That has freed Gibson up to be used for more than just three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust situations. For the second week in a row, he was used as a receiver out of the backfield in the Green Zone (within 10 yards of the end zone), and for the second week in a row, he found paydirt. I’d prefer if the Commanders phased out J.D. McKissic entirely, but even so, Gibson had seven catches on seven targets for 58 yards (adding 19 yards on seven carries), and he now has 70-plus yards in each of his past two games. Gibson is, by no means, a must-start option, but if you have to have one Commanders RB in your lineup, he’s the clear choice.
- Loser: Parris Campbell. If you started Campbell, he actually didn’t have an awful game, finishing with 9.1 PPR points. However, he did that on just three touches, and that’s what I was afraid of with the switch from Matt Ryan to Sam Ehlinger. The Colts leaned into Ryan’s lack of mobility by drawing up a bunch of short targets for Campbell designed to get the ball out quickly. That isn’t as much of a concern for Ehlinger, and Campbell’s role as a result. I don’t view him as a viable starter moving forward.
- One more thing: Chemistry is an impossible thing to quantify outside of a sterile lab environment, but Terry McLaurin and Taylor Heinicke have it. Heinicke (probably) isn’t a better QB than Carson Wentz, but he knows to lean on his best receiver, and McLaurin has benefitted from that faith. McLaurin came within inches of a touchdown on an incredible contested catch over Stephon Gillmore late in this one to help put Washington up, and he looks more reliable with Heinicke peppering him with targets — Heinicke has thrown 24% of his passes to Mclaurin since they started playing together, compared to just 16% of Carson Wentz’s passes this season.
49ers 31-Rams 14
- Injuries: Cooper Kupp (ankle) — For some reason, the Rams drew up a tunnel screen for Kupp in the dying moments of the game, and Kupp got tackled awkwardly, forcing him to leave the game with a limp. Kupp talked after the game about feeling like he “dodged a bullet,” and hopefully further testing will confirm that it’s a minor issue. But it’ll definitely be one of the key injuries to watch heading into Week 9.
- Winner: Christian McCaffrey. The 49ers made excellent use of McCaffrey’s varied skill set, as he ran, caught, and threw for a touchdown Sunday. He got 18 of the team’s 22 running back carries and was targeted nine times on just 25 passes, which is pretty much exactly what we hoped we’d see when they traded for him. Yes, Deebo Samuel’s (hamstring) absence is worth noting, but McCaffrey is an elite player in a very good offense, with a smart coach. That kind of combination tends to work out, no matter what kind of competition he’s facing.
- Loser: Matthew Stafford. There’s just nothing at all to like about this Rams offense right now — even less so if Kupp has to miss even a snap. They just don’t have any playmaking right now. They can’t run the ball, and outside of Kupp, they don’t have anyone who can get separation regularly. That leaves Stafford relying on Allen Robinson to try to contested-catch his way down the field. Maybe Van Jefferson can provide a spark as he works his way back to full speed — he played 31 snaps Sunday but wasn’t targeted — but if he can’t I’m not sure where help is supposed to come from.
- One more thing: Darrell Henderson missed time this week with an illness, but he practiced in full Friday and wasn’t on the injury report, so I’m not sure that explains him losing significant snaps to undrafted rookie Ronnie Rivers. Henderson led the team’s RBs in snaps, but was at just a 43% share, while Rivers out-touched him, 12-6. Maybe there’s a path back to Fantasy relevance for Cam Akers after all? Because the Rams don’t seem to trust Henderson right now.
Seahawks 27-Giants 13
- Winner: Geno Smith. Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf were both less than 100% coming into this game and neither played their typical allotment of snaps, and it just didn’t really matter for Smith, who completed 23 of 34 passes for 212 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He’s just playing at an absurdly high level right now, and this could have even been a better game — Lockett just flat out dropped what would have been a long touchdown in the second half. Smith playing like this with his weapons at something less than 100% healthy was so impressive.
- Loser: Wan’Dale Robinson. Robinson’s route share inched up to 85% Sunday, but that’s about the only positive you can take from this one. He was targeted just three times, catching two of them for 15 yards. The Giants coaches are wringing everything they can from a mediocre passer and some awful weapons, but this isn’t a passing game you need exposure to. Robinson is fine to stash, but this was a clear sign that you can’t trust him yet.
- One more thing: The Giants actually did a very good job of keeping Kenneth Walker in check in this one, and it looked like he was headed for his first dud. However, the thing about a situation like this, where an uber-talented player is going to keep getting opportunities, is eventually he’s going to break one. That’s just what Walker did late in this one, breaking multiple tackles en route to a 16-yard touchdown late. He’s a home run hitter, and that kind of skill set means you can never quite write him off — he might always just be one touch away from having a good game.
Bills 27-Packers 17
- Winner: Aaron Jones. The Packers seemingly decided that, if they were going to lose this one, it wouldn’t be because they didn’t give Jones the ball often enough. They were never really within striking distance after falling behind 21-7 in the second quarter, but they still leaned heavily on Jones, and he did his damnedest to keep them in it, rushing for 143 yards on 20 carries while adding four catches for 14 yards. The Packers are one of the biggest disappointments in the league, but it’s not because they’ve given the ball to Jones too often, that’s for sure.
- Loser: Gabe Davis. We’re six games into the season for Davis, and he has three with seven or fewer PPR points. He actually had his highest target share of the season, by far, Sunday, at 28%, but that came with the Bills throwing it just 25 times — his seven targets were a season-high as well, but right in line with the six targets he had in each of the prior two games. Davis probably won’t ever be a guy who earns a lot of targets — especially not when Stefon Diggs is playing like he is — and the targets he does garner will tend to be lower-probability plays, even with Josh Allen throwing them. Which is all to say, Davis is what he appears to be: A boom-or-bust wide receiver with the kind of massive weekly potential that makes him almost impossible to sit.
- One more thing: We’ve been watching the Packers receiving corps for any sign of upside, and maybe we found it in the form of Samori Toure. The seventh-round pick made his NFL debut last week but saw his first extended action Sunday, making a really nice play to bring in a 37-yard touchdown late in the game. The broadcast spent some time talking about the trust the Packers have in Toure, and while I don’t think he’s worth adding this week in 12-team leagues, he’s definitely a name to know (and probably add!) in deeper leagues, especially Dynasty. There’s still an opportunity for someone to step up in this Packers offense.
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