2020 Fantasy Football: Week 8 Loves and Hates
We’re now past the halfway point of most fantasy football regular seasons, meaning it’s safe to say we’ve got a decent sample size to pick out guys we love or hate via matchup-hunting, offensive tendencies, and coaching opportunity. The issue? Injuries aren’t ever going to stop, especially in a year with no preseason. Yet again, health scarred the fantasy football week, beyond just the contact injuries — this time, an appendix dunked on one of our love picks. Welcome to yet another episode of loves and hates, by yours truly. We’ll review how we did with our Week 7 picks and I’ll identify guys I love and will be starting and guys I hate and will stay away from, in dailies or even looking towards my bench in my regular lineups.
Week 7 Review
My Week 7 loves and hates can be viewed here. Here are self-evaluations of those picks, with grades for myself in parentheses. We got some doozies to review this week, with two of my love picks for the week ruled out shortly before their games. Let’s do this anyway.
I started off my picks dropping some specific predictions; I called a 4-touchdown game or better from Tom Brady against the mediocre defense of the Las Vegas Raiders. He actually scored 5 touchdowns, four via the air and one via his patented QB sneak. The Buccaneers continue to be heavily reliant on their future hall-of-famer at quarterback and Brady took full advantage of the matchup to show that he’s still got it, throwing dots all over the field to lead him to the QB1 spot in Week 7. My best yet — hard to nail a call like that again, but I’ll try. Keep a close eye on the Bus offense via the news and social media; with the health of Mike Evans in limbo, Chris Godwin already ruled out for Week 8, and Antonio Brown in line to join Week 9, Brady is the most interesting man at the quarterback position right now.
The San Francisco 49ers embarrassed the New England Patriots in their house in a fashion that was historic for the Bill Belichick era. Yet, my hate pick of the week at quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo was completely taken out of the fantasy equation. While the game didn’t turn out the way I anticipated, Kyle Shanahan’s game plan was clearly to put the ball in the hands of his backfield and let them go to work. George Kittle was, as expected, the main man in the passing game, catching 5 of Garoppolo’s 20 complete passes, but Jimmy G ended up with 277 passing yards and no passing touchdowns. Note that the 49ers backfield continues to be a revolving door to keep an eye on but that doesn’t necessarily skyrocket Garoppolo’s upside. Through 8 weeks, he is now second to last amongst all qualified quarterbacks in intended air yards per attempt. It’s simple: for the 49ers to win, they can’t let Jimmy be a big play guy.
Running Back (A-)
Back to back A-minuses for me at running back. Sunday Night Football was madness in multiple regards but the big storyline going forward is going to be Kenyan Drake, a first-rounder in many fantasy football leagues having a disappointing season, who was carted off the field with a ligament tear in his ankle which is going to keep him out for a few weeks. But before he exited, he was still getting outplayed by Chase Edmonds.
🚨 PFF Week 7 NFL Team of the Week 🚨
DI Poona Ford
Edge TJ Watt
S Jordan Poyerhttps://t.co/k5Pt0YHyAG
— PFF (@PFF) October 27, 2020
Drake finished his night with 14 carries for just 24 yards. He made only one catch for 7 yards and didn’t find the end zone. Drake carried the ball 5 times but amassed a season-high 58 yards in those rushes. He also had his best PPR showcase of the season, with 7 catches for 87 yards, and finished as the PPR RB5 without scoring a touchdown. After the Cardinals’ Week 8 bye, Edmonds is poised to be the lead back for the Cardinals going forward and if he is available in your league, you should place a claim on him, regardless of your positional needs — he is a solid carrier, he is versatile, and now he has no obstacles in opportunity.
Meanwhile, as Le’Veon Bell made his debut with the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL’s first snow game of the season, Clyde Edwards-Helaire was still the lead back but saw a dip in time on the field, taking a season-low 53% of the snaps for the Chiefs and a season-low 8 carries. He was solid in that time though, averaging 5.8 yards per carry and scoring a touchdown for the first time since Week 1. He also sprinkled in a 17-yard catch, but clearly fantasy owners that invested heavily in the draft for the rookie still weren’t jumping out of their seats. I don’t know if I’ll ever suggest playing Clyde in a daily lineup so the hate pick still makes a lot of sense.
Wide Receiver (A)
I don’t know if I’m supposed to penalize myself for not predicting a groin injury that would rule someone out, but that’s what I had to deal with as a Jamison Crowder owner in Week 7 against the Bills. Crowder’s injury does not look to be serious so just keep tabs on his status; the hope is he will be good to go in the Jets’ Week 8 against the Chiefs. I’ll consider this off-limits for my grade this time, though.
As for my hate pick, DJ Chark Jr., yet again, I nailed it. Volume was no issue for the Jaguars speedster, who drew 7 targets. The issue? Gardner Minshew couldn’t utilize him. In my love-hate picks article from last week, I cited “Minshew’s inability to consistently hit accurately on passes and that has continued to be the case, especially on the deep ball.” That, indeed, was the diagnosis for Chark’s lack of production against the Chargers. While Chark’s week of practices was marred due to injury concerns, he was still beating defenders and getting separation but Minshew missed him multiple times, including twice on the final drive. Chark made only 1 catch for 26 yards and he didn’t score.
Tight End (B+)
How it started: I told you in Week 7 picks that Austin Hooper is a certainty at the tight end position against the soft defense of the Cincinnati Bengals. How it’s going: a Cleveland Browns tight end was the PPR TE1 of the week, but it was Harrison Bryant.
Bryant caught 4 passes, tied for a season-high and tallied 56 yards, a new season-high. He also found the end zone for the second and third time on the season as part of Baker Mayfield’s big passing day. Not only did the Browns temporarily lose Hooper due to an appendectomy but they also lost Odell Beckham Jr. for the season due to an ACL tear. I’m going to use this slide-in play at tight end to cheese my grade a bit because I did add Harrison Bryant last-minute in the league where I own Hooper.
Harrison Bryant, who has caught 12 of his 18 targets and scored three times this season, has talent in a Browns offense that could be playing from behind a lot without their top wide receiver. He might be more than just a one-week boom.
My last hate pick of the week, Jared Cook, saw increased opportunity with Michael Thomas out, but I thought a majority of those passes from Drew Brees were going to be in the direction of Tre’Quan Smith and Marquez Callaway. Indeed, two wide receivers topped the Saints pass-catching charts. The monster that he is, Alvin Kamara contributed to the passing game with 8 catches for 65 yards. Marquez Callaway led the team in receiving with 8 catches for 75 yards on a team-high 10 targets. And even Deonte Harris was prevalent in the fantasy game, catching 4 on 5 targets for 46 yards and scoring a touchdown. The other Saints touchdown came from Jared Cook, who cashed in 3 catches on 4 targets for 32 yards. The volume was indeed an issue for Cook but fantasy owners got a good bit of what they needed from him via the score.
Week 8 Loves & Hates
Nearly straight-As this week but those injuries always leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. Here’s to a way of healthy football (I’ll keep hoping it until it happens). Let’s run this back.
Week 8 Quarterbacks
Love: Derek Carr (LV)
In a game that I later explain to reek of shootout potential, Derek Carr should have plenty of opportunities to put up passing numbers against a Cleveland secondary that has been disappointing all season long. Coming off his only game with a completion rate under 70%, Carr will look to bounce back in Week 8 against a Browns defense that has allowed the most yards on explosive pass plays in the NFL this season; instead of deciding between Henry Ruggs III, Nelson Agholor, or Hunter Renfrow, see if you can pick up Derek Carr for his 3-plus touchdown upside.
Hate: Josh Allen (BUF)
If you’re wondering why the first-place Bills have just not been as much of a juggernaut lately, most recently failing to take care of business until the very end against the New York jets, it might be because their quarterback just hasn’t kept us his MVP form that he began the season with.
Josh Allen Passing Grade:
🔹 Weeks 1-4: 89.9 (4th)
🔹 Weeks 5-7: 65.5 (19th) pic.twitter.com/HtrngSUH2m
— PFF (@PFF) October 27, 2020
Josh Allen has faded in the passing game and it could cost him against a New England Patriots team that is hungry for a win and, for now, has not traded any part of their dominant cornerback duo in Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson. In 2020, Josh Allen has relied on his deep threat receivers that have aided him to 11th place amongst quarterbacks in completed air yards per completion. But with John Brown’s health hanging in a limbo and the tight end situation still gnarly due to COVID-19 complications, why risk starting Josh Allen if you have other options?
Allen’s advantage in the meeting with the reeling Patriots comes through his legs. Indeed, the Patriots defense can be utilized by their inability to make plays when necessary on mobile quarterbacks but it’s going to take more than that to live up to his fantasy expectations against a top 5 fantasy defense against quarterbacks in 2020. Stay away in daily lineups and don’t be surprised if the Patriots are the first team to force 3 turnovers from Josh Allen in 2020.
Week 8 Running Backs
Love: Le’Veon Bell (KC)
Nobody is happier about Le’Veon Bell liking tweets to expedite the process of getting out of the New York Jets system than Le’Veon Bell himself. When he was cut, the reports were that the three teams he was interested in signing with were the three teams that were next on the Jets’ schedule. To think that Bell doesn’t have the Chiefs’ Week 8 matchup against the Jets circled on his schedule is purely naive.
As I explained above, in Bell’s Chiefs debut, the snap share in the Kansas City backfield wasn’t enough to make Clyde owners want to get rid of him, but it was a dip nonetheless. With one game in Bell’s system already, I wouldn’t be surprised if this game is out of hand by halftime and he gets the majority of the workload in the second half over Clyde Edwards-Helaire against the incompetent run defense of the Jets.
Upside? His best fantasy game of the season, maybe even a touchdown. That smells of value all over the place. Do not expect Bell to be an RB1 for the remainder of the fantasy season, but if he’s going to outdo his projections in any game, it’s this one.
Hate: Chargers Backfield (LAC)
When Austin Ekeler hurt his hamstring in Week 4 on the same day that Justin Jackson made his return to the Chargers backfield, we knew that situation was going to be a tad sticky. Since that week, let’s take a look at the snap splits between the duo of Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson, shall we?
|Snap Count Share||Joshua Kelley||Justin Jackson|
Anthony Lynn, you’re killing me! I have zero idea at this point why Lynn trusts to complement his stud rookie quarterback. In Week 8, against a top 5 fantasy run defense in 2020 in the Denver Broncos, here’s an easy solution for you — stay away from both of these guys. While Kelley has the athletic measurables to be dominant in the red zone, Justin Jackson has been the more efficient one since his return. Meanwhile, neither have been fantasy-consistent. Roll with someone else if you can this week. Justin Herbert is the big boss of this offense for now.
Week 8 Wide Receivers
Love: Rashard Higgins (CLE)
After Odell Beckham Jr. left the Ohio battle in Week 7, most eyes turned to Jarvis Landry, the suspected new #1 WR on the Browns. Meanwhile, Baker Mayfield threw 37% of his Week 7 passing yards on the day to Rashard Higgins, who finished the day as the third-highest PFF grade WR of Week 7 with his 110 receiving yards after catching all 6 of his targets.
Highest-graded WRs in Wk 7:
1. Davante Adams – 93.7
2. Tyler Lockett – 92.8
3. Rashard Higgins – 90.4
T-4. Kenny Golladay/ Keenan Allen – 90.3 pic.twitter.com/q8z4hYRb4x
— PFF (@PFF) October 26, 2020
In Week 8, we’ll see a battle between two frustrating secondaries between the Raiders and the Browns, suggesting that we could possibly see another shootout by the Browns. The Raiders come into the matchup as a bottom 10 defense against wide receivers and have had a habit of allowing wide receivers other than the opposition’s top option to have good fantasy performances.
|Wide Receiver||Week||Performance vs. the Raiders*|
|Robby Anderson (CAR)||1||6 receptions, 114 yards, 1 TD, 25.4 PPR fpts|
|Cole Beasley (BUF)||4||3 receptions, 32 yards, 1 TD, 12.2 PPR fpts|
|Scotty Miller (TB)||7||6 receptions, 109 yards, 1 TD, 22.9 PPR fpts|
* personal season-highs in bold
In this case, with Jarvis Landry as the top option, if Higgins gets volume to go along with his legitimate talent to catch the deep ball, we could be looking at the top pickup of Week 8.
Hate: Tyler Lockett (SEA)
Ah yes, the Sunday Night Football superstar that tilted some matchups in Week 7 with his 3-touchdown performance and the first 200-receiving-yard game of the season by any NFL wide receiver. For the dynamic duo of D.K. Metcalf, a top 10 fantasy wide receiver in 2020, and Tyler Lockett, who has already exploded for two 3-touchdown performances this season, it’s sort of a pick-your-poison situation for opposing defenses.
After Lockett’s explosion in Week 7, he has now surpassed his teammate, D.K. Metcalf, in receptions and receiving yards on the season and is now tied with Adam Thielen for first amongst wide receivers in the NFL with 7 touchdown catches. That being said, most of that production has come in two games. In a matchup against the San Francisco 49ers who are a top 5 fantasy defense against wide receivers in 2020, Lockett has his touchdown floor at nearly rock-bottom.
Wilson & Lockett have generated +88.0 EPA on deep passes since 2016, +33.6 more than the next closest QB-WR duo.
Wilson & Lockett Deep (since 2016):
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) October 26, 2020
The Seahawks need a bounce-back game, especially from MVP front-runner Russell Wilson, against the roller-coaster 49ers but expect a potential blow-up game to go in the direction of Metcalf instead, who matches up athletically with everybody in the 49ers secondary and was the #1 option for Wilson in both meetings between these two teams in the 2019 season.
Week 8 Tight Ends
Love: Richard Rodgers (PHI)
Philadelphia Eagles first-rounder Jalen Reagor could be on the verge of making his return to action as soon as this week but that news came shortly after Philadelphia lost DeSean Jackson again. All in all, the Eagles pass-catching committee is not getting any sexier any time soon, but if there’s someone who can feature heavily in volume going forward it is likely Richard Rodgers. The Eagles have thrown 30.5% of their passes to tight ends and with Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz both unhealthy for the time being, Rodgers’ upside is your weekly starting lineup.
More immediately, Rodgers sees a Week 8 matchup against a dumpster fire excuse of a squad called the Dallas Cowboys “defense” that is a bottom 10 fantasy defense in the NFL this season against tight ends. Reap his value in daily lineups and claim him now in your league if he’s still around on waivers.
Hate: T.J. Hockensen (DET)
This could be as simple as matchup-targeting. The Indianapolis Colts have allowed the fewest fantasy points of any NFL team to fantasy tight ends. Despite 6 targets a game going to tight ends against the Colts, they have only allowed 2.8 receptions per game (only higher than the Lions) and have allowed 22.3 yards per game total to tight ends, best in the NFL. They are also one of only two teams (apart from the Seahawks) who have not allowed a touchdown to a tight end yet.
With the successful return of Kenny Golladay and a season-high 80 yard game from Marvin Jones Jr. last week, T.J. Hockensen is set to be the odd man out in the offense. And if the Lions run the ball a bit more with D’Andre Swift as promised, they might be relying on Hockensen’s blocking more than anything. Put that all together and you’ve got yourself a fantasy bust in Week 8.
Can Ahaan get straight A’s this time? Which of these sleepers are you picking up for your second-half push this fantasy football season? Go win your Week 8matchups, friends! For a little help on that front make sure to check out all of our Week 8 Fantasy Football Analysis!
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