Ten Things We Learned in Week 8 (Fantasy Football)
Week 8 was an interesting one. Lot’s of backup quarterbacks playing and even leading their teams to victory. This week also had some unfortunate injuries and surprises off the field that will impact fantasy teams. Let’s go ahead and jump into the major storylines from Week 8!
1. Calvin Ridley Steps Away From Football
Calvin Ridley didn’t travel with his team to London because of personal reasons and missed Week 8 due to similar reasons. On Sunday afternoon, Ridley posted on Twitter that he was stepping away from football to focus on his mental well-being and become the best version of himself. Ridley gave no timetable, so there is no telling how long he will be away from the game or if he will even return this season. First and foremost, I hope that Ridley can find what he is looking for and become the best version of himself. I personally love athletes who speak out and are open about mental health. With only six games left until the fantasy playoffs, it seems unlikely that fantasy managers can rely on Ridley to help them win any remaining games. Fantasy managers are likely to be disappointed because 2021 was setting up for a big year for Ridley, but let’s remember that he is still a person, not just an athlete.
2. The Cardinals Lose Their First Game but Shouldn’t Lose Murray
The Arizona Cardinals had their first loss of the season on Thursday Night Football in Week 8, losing to the Packers 24-21. Murray and the Cardinals’ offense struggled in this game, and Murray ended up injuring his ankle in the final moments of the game. Murray was later spotted in a walking boot but stated that it was precautionary. Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported that the injury could last 1-3 weeks. Despite that report, it seems that Murray is unlikely to miss any time. The question is, how will this impact Murray’s play? If he doesn’t have his mobility, then he may struggle to produce for fantasy purposes.
3. It’s Time to Worry About Antonio Gibson
The Washington Football Team‘s leading rusher in Week 8 was not Antonio Gibson or even J.D. McKissic. Instead, Jaret Patterson, a rookie running back drafted by the Football Team in the 5th Round of the 2021 NFL Draft, led the team with 11 carries for 46 yards. Gibson had eight rushing attempts for 34 yards and added three receptions for 20 yards. This week was the third week in a row that Gibson has not cracked at least 10 PPR fantasy points. Gibson has been dealing with an injury, so that is partly to blame for the lack of production recently. Gibson was cleared off of the injury report in Week 8, though, so it’s not entirely known whether that played a factor or not yet this week. With Gibson not getting the receiving work that we all had hoped for and now the potential to lose rushing work to Patterson with a lingering injury, it’s time to worry about Gibson’s rest of season outlook for fantasy production.
4. Justin Fields Shines Without Matt Nagy
The Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy was ruled out of the team’s Week 8 matchup against the 49ers due to Covid protocols, and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor got head coaching duties. Justin Fields ended up having his best game of the season and had several highlight-reel plays. Fields had a beautiful touchdown pass thrown on the run with perfect accuracy and also had a scramble that Fields took all the way while evading several defenders. Fields looked confident and in control of the offense. Fields completed 19-of-27 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown. He also had 10 rushes for 103 yards and another score. Social media erupted with those pointing out that it can’t be a coincidence that Fields would look this good in his first game without Nagy as the head coach; however, Nagy hasn’t been calling the plays in the last few weeks. Bill Lazor took over in Week 4, so it’s hard to say that this was all Nagy’s fault.
5. Tyler Lockett Can Explode Without Wilson
Tyler Lockett seemed to disappear without star quarterback Russell Wilson, but Week 8 was a different story. Just as many fantasy managers, including myself, decided to bench Lockett in their lineups, he popped off, catching 12-of-13 passes for 142 yards. While he didn’t score a touchdown, Lockett proved that he can still explode with Geno Smith at quarterback. That being said, Lockett is going to be a risky play going forward until Wilson’s return. Luckily, Wilson’s return may be in Week 10, after the Seahawks’ Week 9 bye.
6. Mark Ingram Returns to the Saints
The New Orleans Saints traded for Mark Ingram earlier this week, and Ingram was quick to receive some work in the Saints’ backfield in his Week 8 reunion. Ingram received six carries for 27 yards and caught 2-of-2 passes for 25 yards. Ingram looked good on some of his touches and will surely see work each week. Alvin Kamara was still the guy, and fantasy managers that roster him shouldn’t worry about Ingram’s role in the offense.
7. Tom Brady Struggles Againts Saints…Again
The Buccaneers were on the road against the Saints in Week 8 and came up short, losing 36-27. Tom Brady struggled in this game, despite having a productive day for fantasy purposes. Brady completed 28-of-40 passes for 375 yards and four touchdowns. Brady was intercepted twice, including a game-clinching pick-six late in the 4th quarter. Brady has had some rough games against the Saints during his time in Tampa Bay. Brady has thrown 17 interceptions in the regular season since joining the Bucs, and seven (41.2%) of those interceptions have been in games against the Saints.
8. Mike White leads Jets to Upset Victory Against the Bengals
The Jets beat the Bengals 34-31 in a major upset in Week 8. The Jets were led by quarterback Mike White, who completed 37-of-45 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns. The Jets scored a season-high 34 points. Their previous high was 27 when they beat the Titans in Week 4. While it’s unlikely White will keep the job when injured rookie Zach Wilson comes back, head coach Robert Saleh didn’t rule it out completely.
9. Michael Carter Breaks Out in Week 8
Not sure which is more surprising, the Jets’ upset win over the Bengals or the fact that they have two entries in this article. Anyways, the Jets’ rookie running back, Michael Carter, had a breakout Week 8 performance that deserves attention. Carter had 15 rushing attempts for 77 yards and a touchdown. He also caught 9-of-14 passes for 95 yards. Carter has now led the team in targets in each of the last two games. The only downside is that the uptick in targets may be because Mike White took over for injured starter Zach Wilson. While Wilson was the starter, Carter received three or fewer targets in each game.
10. Lamb and Cooper Go Over 100 Yards Each Without Dak
The Cowboys were without Dak Prescott on Sunday Night Football against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 8 but were still able to win. CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper both had great games and proved to be viable fantasy assets. Lamb had six receptions for 112 yards, and Cooper had eight receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys’ offensive weapons were hard to trust last season without Dak, so it was good to see them both produce. Hopefully, this will just be a one-week thing for Dak, and he can get back on the field.