* *Week 8 was certainly the week of the Quarterback, as 8 of the top 10 fantasy scorers were QBs. As a matter of fact, the top 5 QBs threw for a total of 25 TDs and 2 INTs, and took 6 sacks. Those numbers are crazy when you consider that last week just 4 QBs were in the top 10, and of those, they threw for just 12 TDs, 2 INTs and took 9 sacks. Try and consider that 4 fewer QBs threw half the TDs, the same INTs and took 3 more sacks last week than they did this week. That's an insane jump in production week-over-week.
On the flip side, we saw elite-level talent like Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers absolutely torpedo any chance their owners had of winning this week with their performances. Stars like Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, and Peyton Manning (yards, but no TDs) were slightly better, but still did more harm than good. People would have been better off jumping on the waiver wire and grabbing Alex Smith, Josh McCown, or (GULP) Geno Smith and starting them over all the starting caliber QBs listed above. It just goes to show that nothing is guaranteed when it comes to football.
There were some devastating injuries this weekend that are sure to crush fantasy teams around the world. Le'Veon Bell torn his MCL and is done for the season; Steve Smith Sr. tore his Achilles is done for the season; Matt Forte is believed to have suffered an MCL injury, likely putting him out for a few weeks at the least; Ryan Fitzpatrick has torn ligaments in his left (non-throwing) thumb, also likely forcing him out of the lineup for multiple weeks; Keenan Allen is out indefinitely with a kidney injury; and finally, Reggie Bush tore his ACL, ending his season.
With waiver wires being mostly a barren wasteland these days, the available free agents are going to go quickly. The guys you want to target this week are RBs DeAngelo Williams, Jeremy Langford and David Cobb; WRs Kamar Aiken and Malcolm Floyd; QB Derek Carr and TE Vernon Davis. Not all, if any, of these guys are likely to be available if your league is truly active. But, you'll want to check and make sure nevertheless!
Eli Manning – Giants: Eli Manning is one of the more frustrating fantasy QBs to own because he is a rollercoaster when it comes to stats. One week he throws for 441 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT; then the next two weeks he combines for 359 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs. This week I knew he would be worth playing though since the Saints are giving up the most fantasy points per game to QBs, and he didn't disappoint by throwing for 350 yards, 6 TDs and 0 INTs. If you wanted to sell high on him, this is the week to do it!
Drew Brees – Saints: Drew Brees had about the most impressive game a QB can have on Sunday against the Giants' helpless defense as he racked up 511 passing yards and 7 TDs, and threw just a single INT. When you throw the ball 50 times in a game, good things are sure to happen! Brees has been a disappointment to fantasy owners for much of this season, but I think he made up for it by single-handedly winning this week for his owners!
Derek Carr – Raiders: I sure didn't see this one coming! Carr went off on the Jets' highly-touted secondary at home and completed 23 of 36 passes for 333 yards and 4TDs, and no INTs. While I will admit that he is one of the more underrated fantasy QBs this season, I wouldn't bet on him doing this again to the Jets if they played three more times. However, Carr has a favorable second-half schedule and is worth picking up in most formats.
Charcandrick West – Chiefs: After putting up 110 yards and a TD against the Steelers last week, West was a must-start in Week 8 against the Lions. He couldn't reach the 100-yard rushing mark, but he did total 97 yards and a TD on the ground, and 25 from the air. West seems to have the confidence of his team and the only bad thing is the Chiefs have a bye in Week 9. Just when he gets hot, he has to cool off for a week before taking on the Broncos' elite defense in Week 10.
Todd Gurley – Rams: Gurley is locking himself into the Rookie of the Year award every single week that he is on the field. This week he torched the helpless 49ers for 146 total yards (133 rushing, 13 receiving) and a TD. Gurley IS the Rams offense at this point, and is a must-start next week against the Vikings. Then, in Week 11, he gets a Tecmo Bowl type matchup against the Bears.
Willie Snead – Saints: Snead has been one of the more consistent receivers on the Saints this season, and he paid off this week. Snead reeled in 7 of 8 targets for 76 yards and 2 TDs. Snead should certainly be owned, but he is also someone I'd look to sell high. He's only caught 3 TDs this year, 2 of which came this week and his other coming in Week 2.
Tavon Austin – Rams: Austin has been targeted 7 times and hauled in 4 catches in each of the past two games. But this week he was able to turn those 4 catches into 98 yards and a TD against the 49ers. While he is owned in virtually every fantasy league, he isn't much more than a risky WR3 in most formats given the status of the Rams' passing attack. He is worth owning, but not someone I'd look to trade for.
Benjamin Watson – Saints: Watson turned back the clock in Week 6 when he roasted the Falcons for a 10/127/1 line. And while I didn't buy into the hype, he did it again this week by hanging up a 9/147/1 line against the Giants. Look, when your QB tosses 7 TDs and gets 511 yards, it's going to be hard to be a starter and NOT have amazing numbers. Watson is a boom-or-bust TE that leans more towards bust than boom most weeks.
Houston Texans defense: It wasn't exactly a secret that the Texans were a good play this week against the Titans' struggling offense. Nevertheless, the Texans did finish as the best fantasy defense this week by allowing just 6 points while piling up 7 sacks, 1 INT and 2 recovered fumbles. The Texans are on a bye next week, then face the undefeated Bengals in Week 10. They do, however, get the Jets in Week 11, so make sure you keep them on the radar for that matchup.
Cincinnati Bengals defense: The Bengals did a wonder on the Steelers this week as they took full control of the AFC North with a 16-10 win in Pittsburgh. Not only did the Bengals pick off Ben Roethlisberger 3 times, but they sacked him 3 times and allowed just 10 points. They get the Browns this week, and instantly become a must-start fantasy defense.
Aaron Rodgers – Packers: Rodgers is one of the best fantasy QBs in the NFL… except this week, that is. Can you believe the Broncos defense limited him to just 77 passing yards and no TDs? If you would have told me at some point this season Rodgers would throw for under 100 yards and have no TDs, I would have called you a liar. The good news is he is sure to have a chip on his shoulder against the Panthers next week.
Ben Roethlisberger – Steelers: Roethlisberger was NOT at his best this week as he threw 3 INTs and took 3 sacks against the division-rival Bengals. He did manage to throw for 262 yards and a TD, but the turnovers were too much to come back from after the Steelers lost Bell for the year with a torn MCL. Times will be better for Big Ben, but the Bengals are on a mission this season.
Andre Ellington – Cardinals: Ellington is strangely owned in around 70 percent of fantasy leagues, despite being the backup to Chris Johnson, and is averaging just 32 YPG this season. This week he hit rock-bottom by running the ball 3 times for 0 yards. Ellington is little more than a handcuff to CJ2K owners, and shouldn't be played unless you are absolutely desperate at the RB position.
Orleans Darkwa – Giants: Too many people read WAY too much into Week 7 when Darkwa ran for 48 yards and a TD against the Cowboys. I tried to warn people that he was nothing more than a cog in the Giants backfield. This week he proved me right by running the ball 4 times for just 23 yards, making me look like a fortune teller. If you want to hold on to Darkwa in the hopes he takes over RB duties in front of Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams, please stop playing him until he does. And remember, Shane Vereen is still the pass-catching RB in New York, so he has no extra value in PPR leagues.
James Jones – Packers: It was really only a matter of time before Jones' value took a nose dive, and oh how it did in Week 8. He managed just 1 reception (on 2 targets) for 2 yards. That's it! Granted, Rodgers had the worst game of his career on Sunday. But Jones has caught a touchdown in every game this season except one leading up to this game. He has never been anywhere near an elite WR talent, so his production this year was always going to hit the floor at some point. With Davante Adams back, I am looking for Jones to slide back into WR3 numbers going forward.
Dez Bryant – Cowboys: Much like Big Ben in Pittsburgh, Bryant's return was less than successful for his fantasy owners. If you played him, I will say that you should have known better given the Seahawks' tough secondary. Bryant managed to catch just 2 of 6 targets for 12 empty yards on Sunday. He has a much easier matchup next week against the Eagles, but weak QB play limits his upside severely.
Emmanuel Sanders- Broncos: I'm just going to have to assume that Sanders wasn't fully healthy (shoulder) this week, which would explain why he managed to catch just 2 of 5 targets for 22 yards against the Packers. It was the first time all season he had put up fewer than 65 yards. Sanders has been money in the bank at WR this season, and I fully expect him to be right back on track against the Colts in Week 9.
Jason Witten – Cowboys: Much like Bryant, Witten is limited not by talent, but by his quarterback. This week the future Hall of Fame TE managed to haul in 2 catches for a whopping 16 yards. The good news is those in leagues where targets are counted, he did get 4 of them! Witten's upside is capped as long as Matt Cassel is under center, which looks to be for another 4-5 weeks at least.
Ladarius Green – Chargers: With Antonio Gates out of the lineup once again, Green had a prime opportunity to prove himself against the Ravens this week. He failed to do so as he finished with just 1 catch for 10 yards. You could make the argument that the Ravens defense is tough, but Philip Rivers managed to carve them up for 301 yards and 3 TDs. Green just isn't as involved in the offense as Gates is, and fantasy owners need to accept that fact.
New York Jets defense: When I saw this game in the preseason I thought "Jets defense, CHECK!" I was sure the Jets would come up big in this one given the talent they have on the line and in the secondary. Well, they came up big… for the Raiders! Poor tackling and a lack of energy amounted to them giving up 34 points while not getting a single defensive stat for fantasy owners. No sacks; no INTs; no fumbles; no TDs; nothing!