Ten Things We Learned in Week 8 (Fantasy Football)
Another week of high-scoring performances, letdowns, excitement, and unfortunate injuries (particularly at quarterback) is in the books, and it’s only going to get more drama-filled from here. Hardly any of us have made it through eight weeks unscathed, and if you are one of those fantasy managers still undefeated, kudos to you. If you’re sitting comfortably at 7-1 or 6-2, don’t get lazy and put yourself in a position to slide down the standings. And those of you who are 2-6, even 1-7, don’t throw in the towel. We’ve all heard stories of a team winning its last five games and sneaking into the playoffs, it can be done. Make sure to stay locked in, stay up to date with the news, and listen to The Fantasy Footballers podcast to give yourself the best chance to succeed. With that being said, let’s take a closer look at some of the top storylines coming out of Week 8.
1. Joe Burrow and the Bengals Are Back
It was a long and frustrating road to get to this point for Joe Burrow, the Bengals, and fantasy managers alike, but the superstar QB is back and ready to take off for the second half of the season. The calf injury that has been hampering him this year seems to be behind him, as he was moving in rhythm, evading tackles, and looking like his old self on Sunday against San Fransisco. Burrow completed 28 of 32 pass attempts for 283 yards and three touchdowns without turning the ball over. Add in 43 rushing yards and you’ve got a fantasy stud who will help lead fantasy managers to the promised land. The schedule the rest of the way is unforgiving, but this offense is matchup-proof when Burrow is playing like he did on Sunday, so fire up all Bengals players with confidence.
2. How Kirk Cousins‘ Injury Shakes up Vikings for Fantasy
If you thought it couldn’t get worse after Justin Jefferson was put on IR, the Vikings will have to play without Kirk Cousins for the rest of the season. Cousins has been a valuable fantasy player this year and was a top-five QB after Sunday’s slate of games. Unfortunately, fantasy managers who relied on Cousins will have to look elsewhere now and the recent surge of rookie Jordan Addison will certainly quiet down. The rest of the pass-catchers in Minnesota, T.J. Hockenson, K.J. Osborn, and Jefferson when he returns, take a big hit. It’s hard to bench those players, but with rookie QB Jaren Hall taking over, there will be a significant downtick in production. It will be interesting to see if the Vikings, who are still in playoff contention at 4-4, make a move to bring in a veteran quarterback.
3. Javonte Williams Poised for Second Half Surge
It was a big surprise when the Broncos declared that Javonte Williams would be ready to play Week 1 after the devastating knee injury he suffered last year. It wasn’t a surprise that he came out of the gates slowly. The good news is Williams has remained healthy and he’s starting to look like his pre-injury self. Williams handled a season-high 27 carries in Sunday’s win against the Chiefs and also scored his first touchdown of the season, a four-yard touchdown catch. With matchups against the Bills, Vikings, Texans, and Chargers in four of the next five games, the third-year back is set to take off and put up borderline RB1 numbers on an offense that is improving as the season progresses.
4. Concerns for Chris Olave
Chris Olave has not lived up to the hype this season, simply put. He’s scored double-digit points in just four out of eight games and has been on a downward trend since Week 4, coincidentally when Alvin Kamara rejoined the team. His highest scoring output was 15.2 in Week 1 and he’s coming off a game where he caught five passes for 46 yards, and the Saints scored 38 points! He is the WR26 in PPR formats despite having the easiest schedule for wide receivers and that schedule remains light the rest of the way, but he’s hard to trust as anything more than a low-end WR2.
5. All Aboard the Gus Bus
Beep beep! Here comes Gus Edwards. The bruising back has played excellently the last two weeks, racking up more fantasy points combined (49.3) than the total of all six games prior (39). This is why fantasy managers were so hyped for J.K. Dobbins this season before he got injured, as having a large piece of the Ravens’ run game is great for fantasy. It had been too much of a split with Justice Hill and Melvin Gordon getting even reps, so to see Edwards get the bulk of the work over the past two weeks is a refreshing sign. Hill is still the preferred receiving back but Edwards is getting the majority of work on the ground and at the goal line. Consider Edwards a top-24 RB option moving forward with spike weeks in sight.
6. D-Hop’s Still Got it
DeAndre Hopkins turned back the clock on Sunday, catching four passes for 128 yards and three touchdowns in Tennessee’s victory over Atlanta. Will Levis looked better in his first start than Ryan Tannehill has looked all season. Is this the start of a budding fantasy connection? Chances are it’s not, but that doesn’t mean you write off Hopkins for the rest of the season. Hopefully Levis helps stabilize Hopkins’ numbers, so instead of seeing games with six points ranging to the 32.8 he put up in Week 8, you’ll get a more consistent 10-16 point range. The Titans face the Steelers on Thursday in a matchup that has been beneficial to wide receivers, so pay close attention to Hopkins to see if we get another encouraging performance.
7. Ride with Trey McBride
Arizona tight end Trey McBride finally had the breakout game people have been clamoring for ever since he was selected in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He was heavily involved in the offense and caught 10 of 14 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens. Joshua Dobbs was hyper-targeting Zach Ertz so the formula was correct in thinking that McBride would see those targets. With Kyler Murray slated to return in the next two weeks, McBride could see even more high-quality targets in an improved offense. With upcoming matchups against the Falcons, Texans, Rams, and Steelers, McBride is set up for success and has weekly TE1 potential.
8. Problems Ahead for Dameon Pierce
Over the last two games, Devin Singletary has taken on a bigger role in the Houston offense to the tune of 12 carries two weeks ago and 10 carries on Sunday coming out of the bye. This means Dameon Pierce has seen 50% or less of the team’s RB carries in the last two games. Furthermore, he’s seen only three targets over the last four games including zero targets in back-to-back weeks, a concerning trend. Pierce had an opportunity to score against the Panthers this week but got stuffed at the goal line and the touchdown ended up going to fullback Andrew Beck. Pierce managers should be on high alert and might want to consider benching him if there are better options out there. Simultaneously, Singletary should be picked up off waivers and stashed to play down the road if he does indeed take over the majority of Pierce’s work.
9. Khalil Shakir Making Strides
In Week 8 against Tampa Bay, Khalil Shakir saw a 15.4% target share, his highest by far this season. It translated to six catches on six targets for 92 yards, a top-24 WR finish ahead of the Monday night game. In the first game without Dawson Knox, Buffalo showed a propensity to use three-WR sets instead of two TEs, clearing room for Shakir’s heavy involvement in the game. Expect that number to stay around the same at least over the next three games, giving Shakir sneaky flex potential in a high-powered offense. He’s worth a stash and a spot start in the right matchup.
10. Tough Sledding for Aaron Jones
It’s been a disheartening season for Aaron Jones and the fantasy managers who roster him. After literally leading all RBs with 25.7 points in Week 1, it’s been all downhill for Jones. He’s missed three games due to injury and has a combined 15.7 points in the three other games he played. On Sunday he was outsnapped by AJ Dillon and the latter has scored more fantasy points in the last two games. There seems to be a disconnect between the Green Bay coaching staff and Jones, who is seeing less work for a team that desperately needs him in order to be successful. Jones is one of the most talented RBs in the league, but playing on a losing team with an inexperienced quarterback and going through injuries has taken a toll on the 28-year-old Pro Bowl back. The upcoming schedule has a mix of both good and weak run defenses, so it’s probably best to start Jones when the matchup is right. But he is not the must-start RB he has been for his entire career.