What We Learned in Week Eight (Fantasy Football)
Week 8 actually went according to plan for the most part, with a few small exceptions. We were able to get the disgusting taste of week seven out of our mouth and see some solid football, even if it wasn’t as high scoring as a few weeks earlier this season were. I wrote a poem in the article last week, so I figured I’d continue this trend to express how I felt about week eight:
Football is great, all poems should rhyme,
Tevin Coleman is awesome, he scored four times
Deshaun Watson‘s amazing, even with just one eye
I had both of mine to watch this week, now it’s on to Week 9.
I do this every Monday for the Footclan, I can’t be a slouch
Here are ten things I learned, from all that time on my couch:
Latavius Murray Can Handle the 1A Role
When I saw that Alvin Kamara was ruled out for this week, I was bummed because he’s such an electric player, but all of my teams that have Latavius Murray sitting on the bench curled a slightly evil smile. Last week Murray lit it up in a fairly difficult matchup, so it was an obvious smash spot this week for him and the Saints at home with their all-time great quarterback returning to the lineup. Murray didn’t disappoint and will finish the week as a top-five running back. Kamara will come back after the Saints bye week next weekend and he will be welcomed with open arms by a lot of fantasy owners. We learned this week that Murray is a phenomenal start when Kamara is banged up but I’m curious to see how Sean Payton handles the backfield given the way Murray has played. It’s very possible that he will have flex value on a weekly basis from here on out, but Sean Payton can be a mad man. My money says that He’ll still get enough work to stay relevant with Brees behind center, and I’m sure a lot of Murray owners hope that’s the case.
I’m Not an Idiot, But The Bears Stink
The Chicago Bears….. are….. something. The fact that we had to suffer through a Bears vs. Chargers game in 2019 means that we were in store for something wild, and it didn’t let us down. Bears head coach Matt Nagy made headlines earlier this week when he informed us that “he wasn’t an idiot, he knows they have to run more”. He made good on that promise this week and handed a whopping 27 carries to fan-favorite David Montgomery who delivered in a big way by racking up 135 yards on the ground and another 12 through the air. It was starting to look like the Bears had found something offensively, but then they reminded us that Mitch Trubisky is behind center and Matt Nagy possesses some questionable tendencies. Chicago pulled a full-blown Charger against the Chargers when they missed a game-clinching field goal with one second remaining. Bears fans have been dying to see a kicker that delivers in the clutch, and it looks like they may have to wait a bit longer still. I expect Nagy to continue his commitment to the run game, but the Bears as a whole are a scary fantasy proposition. Tread with caution.
It’s Time to Panic About Le’Veon Bell
I will take a temporary L on this one if it makes you feel better. I’ve been touting Bell as a buy-low candidate for weeks now based on his insane volume and the return of Sam Darnold to the offense. I should have checked myself and thought through the fact that their head coach is literally nicknamed “The B Hole” by the Ballers. Gase completely pivoted in the last two weeks and has barely fed Bell any work, in favor of letting his second-year signal-caller push the ball downfield with no regard for human life. From a football standpoint, I can see the logic behind throwing a player to the fire and trying to establish a passing attack, but from a fantasy standpoint, this stinks. Bell is by far the best player on their roster, and it would be great to see him unleashed. Hopefully, Gase learned from their Week 8 loss and he will get the ball in Bell’s hands more, but there’s truly no way to predict the methods of the B hole. Call me crazy, but I’m still buying Bell since his owner is probably going insane and you can get him for pennies on the dollar, but I don’t blame you if you unfollow me because you already did.
Zach Ertz Isn’t a Must-Start Anymore
We knew that Ertz would regress, but this is ugly. He’s gone from a bonafide top-3 TE lock and top-50 overall player, to someone we have to consider an “option at the position”. The reasoning behind his regression is a lack of touchdowns and a lack of offensive production in general from the Eagles and Dallas Goedert. People who tell you that Goedert is taking Ertz’s job are incorrect; they’ve been using 2TE sets for a long time when both players are healthy and Ertz isn’t seeing some huge decline in snaps or anything. Going into this week, Ertz was pacing to see a similar target total as last year, it was just a matter of touchdown regression that needed to come. The Eagles have started to favor the run game more than ever before, and it’s causing Ertz’s volume to decline week over week, and it might improve. If you’re someone who has Hunter Henry or Darren Waller alongside Ertz, you should have no hesitations about trading him for solid value.
Todd Gurley is Still a Headache
This is all I need to say: Darrel Henderson saw more work than Todd Gurley this week.
I can’t fully explain it, and if you own Gurley then you knew what you were signing up for, but it’s confusing. A lot of people will ask me “what should I do with Gurley?”, and the answer is: you can’t do much. You start him when he’s healthy, and you make sure you handcuff him with Henderson. If someone will pay RB1 price for his name value, then you take it and run.
Tevin Coleman Might Be a League Winner
“SHEESH!” – @TheFFGator, after Coleman’s third touchdown.
Kyle Shanahan has built something special in San Francisco, and he did it without most of us noticing. He was the mastermind behind the Freeman/Coleman backfield in Atlanta, and he’s built something similar with the Niners (including a reunion with Coleman). I don’t necessarily think it’s a product of Coleman having elite talent, but the right talent to fit his scheme. I’ve preached in this article many times that scheme is more important than talent, and this is a perfect example. Coleman is seeing all the goal-line work in a top-tier rushing attack, and he’s being targeted in the passing game too. I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s an RB1 the rest of the way, but at the very least he should produce high-end RB2 numbers with the schedule the Niners have coming up. He’s a buy high for me.
Ty Johnson Was a Scam
Full disclosure: I live in Michigan, and most of my close friends are huge Lions fans. I get a lot of flack because I always mention I want them to win, but I can’t help but be negative about most of the moves the franchise makes. I didn’t understand the Quandre Diggs trade, and I certainly don’t trust Matt Patricia when it comes to running back usage. It took him almost a year to free Kerryon Johnson, so I didn’t expect the full Ty Johnson show like some people did. He said in an interview on Tuesday that they planned to use a committee, and if Kerryon himself was a middling RB2 in the offense with workhorse snap counts, why would Ty Johnson light it up in a committee? Well, so far…. he hasn’t. He was out-snapped and out-gained by Tre’ Carson in a game where Detroit was leading for a full four quarters. If this wasn’t the time for Ty Johnson to show out, I don’t think that time is coming. The Lions have been linked to Kenyan Drake in a lot of news reports, but even if that happens I still wouldn’t trust Patricia to unleash a single running back as a workhorse this season. The Lions still have to face Chicago twice, Dallas, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, and Denver. This isn’t a favorable schedule for any running back, and it doesn’t appear like Johnson is even the starter. If someone is buying, I’m certainly selling, and I’m definitely not starting.
The Broncos Have Fallen Apart
They’ve sort of been at this place for a few weeks, but this was a true disaster. They were in a position to beat a very formidable Colts team and shake up the divisional race in the AFC South, but the offense was executing plays late in the game as if they meant nothing to them. Joe Flacco sounded off in the post-game interview about the play-calling and I agree with him to an extent, but he’s also partially to blame for the lack of energy you can see from a mile away. From a fantasy standpoint, I really don’t want any part of this team outside of Courtland Sutton who’s broken out this year, and even he has a fairly low ceiling week to week. Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman aren’t being used with any real consistency, so you’re praying for a touchdown from one of them if you put them in your lineup. I prefer Royce’s cost related to his production, but both of them are in the RB3/RB2 conversation depending on the matchup. I’m a big fan of Daesean Hamilton in dynasty leagues, but there’s not much redraft appeal in the passing game at all outside of Sutton.
Austin Hooper Deserves More Respect
I spent a lot of time tweeting about Hooper in the preseason because I didn’t understand how a top ten TE in a pass-happy offense could be going off the board as the TE17. I didn’t need to look that up, because I remember how offended I was as a Hooper supporter. He’s totally outperformed every expectation this year, and he shows no signs of stopping. Through 8 weeks he’s the TE1 overall, has only one game under double digits, and maintains elite consistency at one of the most inconsistent positions in fantasy. Yet somehow, he’s only the TE6 in the FantasyPros rest of season ECR rankings. I hear lots of discussion about Travis Kelce‘s lack of touchdown production, I mentioned Ertz a few paragraphs ago, and Darren Waller is a fantasy darling. All of this talk, and still no Hooper? Why is everyone quiet? If someone were to tell me his production won’t last, I’d need to know why they felt that way. His target share is elite, he barely trails Julio Jones in terms of opportunity, and he’s found the endzone three weeks in a row. There’s literally no reason why Hooper projects to slow down, and plenty of reasons to assume he will continue at this pace. Buy high on Hooper, and for the love of fantasy football, I need my colleagues in the fantasy industry to move him up in the rankings because he’s earned it. His career growth is similar to Zach Ertz and he’ll be tied to Matt Ryan for years to come. I would trade Zach Ertz straight up for Austin Hooper in a dynasty league, and I’d be more than happy to put him on my redraft team for a reasonable price.
Travis Kelce is Still Elite
Even with Matt Moore! Kelce has actually been pretty solid this year with the exception of his touchdown totals, but that’s a pretty big exception. He was leading the league in receiving yards at the position but he’s been pretty disappointing (as we discussed last week). I recommended him as a buy candidate due to the touchdown regression that was coming his way, and it came his way on Sunday night. Matt Moore found him early in the second quarter on a long touchdown bomb and it was a cathartic experience for Kelce owners everywhere. Moore clearly favored him in the passing game the same way Patrick Mahomes does, which gives me confidence if we have to see Moore for multiple weeks. I don’t think Mahomes comes back anytime soon, but thankfully Kelce is one piece of the offense we can still start with confidence.