Week 8 took place over Halloween weekend, which seems fitting as it was a brutal massacre. Injuries stole most of the headlines as players including Le’Veon Bell, Keenan Allen, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Reggie Bush, Khiry Robinson, Steve Smith, Calvin Johnson, Matt Forte, Cameron Wake, Ricardo Lockette, just to name a few, suffered significant injuries. Most of the aforementioned players played their last game for 2015.
In happier news, Drew Brees and Eli Manning battled to the last second in one of the most epic shootouts in NFL history. Brees was the victor with 7 touchdown passes, but Eli generously rewarded his fantasy owners with six. After all of the Week 8 mayhem, four teams remain perfect this season including the Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, and New England Patriots.
The Tennessee Titans have fired coach Ken Whisenhunt and named Mike Mularkey as interim head coach which may have future fantasy implications. Lastly, in Week 8’s “Dive,” I discussed the “hubbub” regarding the Detroit Lions hiring Jim Bob Cooter as offensive coordinator, which would bode well for Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. Well, as you saw from the London game, the team couldn’t have looked more out of sync!
With injuries galore and six teams on bye (Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks), I’d highly recommend taking a dive with me to discuss several players that may make a difference in Week 9.
Are you surprised to see his name, especially after that dreadful Week 1 debut? Since Week 1, top draft pick Jameis Winston has 10 touchdowns (8 passing/2 rushing) and five interceptions. In Week 8, Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pulled an upset on the road against the Atlanta Falcons. Although he accumulated 177 yards through the air, Winston rushed for a season high 24 yards and totaled two touchdowns. Winston welcomes the New York Giants who just allowed 7 passing touchdowns and 505 passing yards to Drew Brees. Obviously, Winston is not in Brees’ class, but still may be a viable play if your quarterback is injured or on bye for Week 9. Overall, New York has given up the most passing yards and 5th most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Start Winston in Week 9!
Week 9 Projection: 200 passing yards; 25 rushing yards; 2 TD
RB Ryan Mathews
Not often will you see me recommend a backup running back, but Ryan Mathews is an exception to the rule. DeMarco Murray is the lead back in Chip Kelly’s offense, but all of his running backs have played a major role in the offense including Mathews. Although he is not receiving double-digit carries, Mathews is making the most of each opportunity by averaging 6.1 yards per carry and has 7 catches over the last three games. Mathews and the Philadelphia Eagles should be well rested after a bye as they visit the Dallas Cowboys who have allowed the 5th most fantasy points to opposing backs. Don’t expect more than 7-8 carries and a few receptions, but Mathews should turn these opportunities into gold for fantasy owners.
Week 9 Projection: 75 total yards; 1 TD
WR Willie Snead
Although Brandin Cooks was taken early in most fantasy drafts, he and Willie Snead have almost identical receiving stats this season. Snead is most likely already owned in most leagues after he blew up in Week 5. Continue plugging Snead in to your lineup as the New Orleans Saints welcome the struggling Tennessee Titans to the Big Easy in Week 9. Tennessee has been average defending wideouts, but have struggled recently as they have surrendered at least 171 yards per game to wideouts over the last three games. With Brees’ arm potentially on fire, Snead should be a key beneficiary.
Week 9 Projection: 80 receiving yards; 1 TD
TE Heath Miller
When Ben Roethlisberger is the starting, Heath Miller emerges as a low TE1, which proved true again in Week 8 as the veteran caught 10 passes for 105 receiving yards. With Ben Ben healthy again, consider starting Miller in Week 9 against the Oakland Raiders. Oakland struggles defending tight ends as they have allowed the most points and touchdowns to the position. In fact, tight ends have scored in every game against Oakland this season except for one. Miller will have another gem in Week 9.
Week 9 Projection: 75 receiving yards; 1 TD
Defense/Special Teams New Orleans Saints
Don’t scratch your head yet. Yes, I am recommending a defense that just allowed 43 points and six touchdowns to Eli Manning in a Week 8 shootout. New Orleans welcomes the Tennessee Titans who just fired their coach and have averaged only 9 points over the last month. Whether Marcus Mariota returns or Zach Mettenberger starts again, the Saints should dominate the ailing Titans offense.
Week 9 Projection: 11 points
Week 8 Results:
Week 8 Projection: 275 passing yards; 2 TD
Week 8 Results: 217 passing yards; 1 TD; 2 INT (ok call)
Week 8 Projection: 100 total yards; 1 TD
Week 8 Results: 122 total yards; 1 TD (excellent call)
WR Stefon Diggs!
Week 8 Projection: 100 receiving yards; 1 TD
Week 8 Results: 95 receiving yards; 1 TD (good call)
Week 8 Projection: 60 receiving yards; 1 TD
Week 8 Results: 10 receiving yards (bad call-missed 2nd half due to ankle injury)
Defense/Special Teams San Francisco 49ers
Week 8 Projection: 11 points
Week 8 Results: 4 points (bad call)
Hopefully this weekend will be injury-free! Good luck!