Did anyone else feel like Week 7 was the fantasy gods smacking us back down to reality? It felt like every time a notification hit my phone it was to let me know that another one of my players went down with an injury. On top of that, Amari Cooper owners found out that he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys, who are on bye in Week 8, forcing Cooper owners into two consecutive bye weeks. Ouch.
But that was last week. What are we looking forward to in Week 8?
1. Kerryon Johnson – Second Half League Winner
Before the bye weeks kicked off, I wrote that you need to keep an eye on rookies coming out of the bye weeks and becoming league winners. Kerryon Johnson was chugging along sharing touches with LeGarrette Blount and Theo Riddick. In his first week out of the bye, Johnson rushed the ball 19 times and caught 2 of 3 targets. Staying out of the end zone kept his game a little quiet in the weekly rankings, but his 21 touches for 179 combined yards was an excellent game for owners.
2. Tre’Quan Smith – Must Add
In last week’s intro, I mentioned Saints rookie WR Tre’Quan Smith as post-bye add for owners looking for big upside. At this time, he’s still available in over 70% of Yahoo! Leagues and 85% of ESPN leagues. As pointed out by my fellow writer Matt Okada in his 10 Lessons Learned Week 7 article, the Ravens Defense has become the most fantasy un-friendly team in the league. In the Week 7 game against said Ravens Defense, Smith caught 3-of-6 targets for 44 yards while playing 73% of the snaps in a Drew Brees-led offense. There is no reason for Smith to be on waiver wires considering his performance and opportunity over the past two games. He’s a weekly flex play moving forward with week winning upside as shown in his Week 5 breakout game, where he finished as WR5 in PPR leagues.
3. Todd Gurley’s Epic TD Pace
Throughout the first part of the season, we’ve been seeing some record-breaking paces and records being broken. However, if you’re not a Todd Gurley owner, you may not have realized his epic pace. With 11 rushing TDs and 3 receiving TDs, he’s posting an average of 2 TDs per game. If he can somehow maintain this pace, he would eclipse LaDainian Tomlinson’s 2006 season of 31 total TDs (28 rushing, 3 receiving).
4. Russell Wilson’s Second Half Trend
One of the oddest splits in Fantasy Football has to be Russell Wilson’s first half, second half season split. For the past four years, Wilson followed a slow start with a league-winning second half. While my rankings below are slightly tweaked to account for early/late bye weeks, Wilson has consistently performed significantly better post-bye or weeks 8-16. Currently sitting at QB22 when including his Week 7 bye, there is an outside chance Wilson is on shallow league waiver wires. If so, his track record indicates that he is ready for his annual explosion of points. I’m honestly not going to try and explain this, as it is a confluence of factors which have impacted these performances.
2017 before/after Week 7 bye: QB12/QB1
2016 before/after Week 8: QB25/QB2
2015 before/after Week 9 bye: QB14/QB2
2014 before/after Week 9 bye: QB10/QB3
Simply put: it’s a gut call and worthy of an add just in case he continues this trend in 2018 for the fifth straight season.
5. Le’Veon Bell is Returning after the Steelers Bye – SYKE!
When was the last time someone pulled the SYKE! card on you? Le’Veon Bell owners were treated to just that when Bell decided that he would not return to the Steelers after their Week 7 bye as previously indicated. At this point, we need to proceed assuming he will skip the full 10 games before the deadline to return for the year to count towards his free agency. If the Bell owner in your league is selling, do not buy for full-price. There have been exactly zero reports that he is staying in playing shape and I fear an immediate injury designation upon his return to action. Add in the performance of James Conner, and you have to assume it will create a timeshare in Pittsburgh.
Best of Luck in Week 8 and don’t forget to vote for the Fantasy Footballers Podcast in the Sports Catagory of the iHeart Radio Podcast Awards!