Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts – Well, well, well…what do you know? Andrew Luck has quietly been producing at a mid-level QB1 level over the last four weeks and enters Week 8 averaging 22.4 fantasy points per game, which ranks eight in the NFL among quarterbacks. After averaging 15.4 fantasy points per game from Weeks 1 to 3, Luck has been on fire recently. He’s averaged 27.6 fantasy points per game over the last four weeks. He’s faced some meager defenses in that time frame (Texans, Patriots, Jets, Bills), but all that matters to fantasy owners is the above-average production he’s been providing recently. The question now becomes: Can he consistently average between 20-30 fantasy points per game throughout the season? My answer to that would be yes, but I’d say his average point total will end up closer to 20 than to 30.
The health of T.Y. Hilton is semi-important to Luck’s success. Having Hilton on the field certainly helps, but Luck has found ways to get other players involved (Eric Ebron, Chester Rogers) and has been successful even without Hilton. As long as the Colts defense is a leaky sieve, the Colts offense is going to have to throw early and often to keep up with their opposition. That will equate to plenty of fantasy points for Andrew Luck. Nevertheless, fantasy owners have to be pleased with how Luck has performed up to this point in the season considering he came at a significant discount in drafts this summer. The Colts are traveling to Oakland in Week 8 to take on a Raiders team that has allowed an average of 18.8 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, which ranks 21st in the NFL. Luck is a mid to low-end QB1 with top-three weekly upside for the rest of the season, so keep him locked into your starting quarterback spot and enjoy the abundance of fantasy points you’ll continue to get from him.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings – Similar to Andrew Luck, Kirk Cousins has produced solid fantasy numbers through the first seven weeks of the season and enters Week 8 averaging 21.8 fantasy points per game, which ranks tied-ninth in the NFL among quarterbacks. He’s thrown for at least 295 passing yards in four of seven games. He’s thrown at least two passing touchdowns in four of seven games and has gone over 34 fantasy points in two of seven games. Those two monster games are keeping his average fantasy point total at a high number, but let’s call a spade a spade and accept the fact that Cousins plays in one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL and has the pleasure of throwing to the best (yes, the best!) wide receiver in the NFL in Adam Thielen. He’s in an incredible situation when it comes to his fantasy potential, and should efficiently produce at a low-end QB1 level for the rest of the season with the potential to finish as the best fantasy quarterback in any given week. A Week 8 matchup against a New Orleans Saints defense that is allowing an average of 25.3 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, which ranks 31st in the NFL. The Saints are also allowing an average of 294 passing yards per game to opposing quarterbacks, which ranks 28th in the NFL. Let’s put it this way – fantasy owners are ecstatic when they see their quarterback is going up against the Saints defense. Consider Cousins as a low-end QB1 with mid-level QB1 upside for the rest of the season, who always has the “best fantasy quarterback of the week” potential.
Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions – Through six games, Kerryon Johnson has carried the ball 69 times for 444 rushing yards, an average of 6.4 yards-per-carry. Combined, LeGarrette Blount and Theo Riddick have carried the ball 65 times for 197 rushing yards, an average of 3.0 yards-per-carry. Hey, Matty P., a.k.a The Rocket Scientist, a.k.a The Pencil Man, if you’re such a smart guy then why haven’t you realized that Kerryon Johnson has been so good up to this point in his rookie season that giving him 75% of the running back carries would drastically improve the efficiency of your offense? Through six weeks, Johnson has received 51.5% of the carries among Lions running backs, compared to 48.5% combined between Blount and Riddick. Oh, here’s another good stat for the stat nerds out there; it’s a simple, but important one. In games where Johnson has received at least 12 carries (Weeks 3, 5, 7) the Lions are 3-0. In games where Johnson has received less than 12 carries, the Lions are 0-3. I mean, I’m no Rocket Scientist like the Lions Head Coach is, but it’s becoming more and more apparent the Lions need to feature their outstanding rookie running back early and often going forward if they want to have success.
Johnson had his best game of the season on Sunday against the Dolphins, accumulating 158 rushing yards on 19 carries (8.3 yards-per-carry). He also chipped in with two receptions (on three targets) for 21 receiving yards, bringing his PPR fantasy point total to 21.9 on the day. Entering Week 8, Kerryon has tallied at least 10.5 PPR fantasy points in each of the last five games and is averaging 13.1 fantasy points per game in six games, which ranks 17th in the NFL. The Lions schedule over the next three weeks (Seahawks, Vikings, Bears) will be challenging for the rookie out of Auburn, but the presence of an above-average passing game led by Matthew Stafford keeps defenses honest and will create sufficient space and holes for Kerryon to run through. His upside and potential are sky-high, so consider him a mid-level RB2 (for now) with low-end RB1 upside going forward.
Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago Bears – These next two running backs are the pride and joy of all the “Zero-RB” philosophers in the fantasy football community. These two running backs are PPR specialists that were drafted in the mid- to late-rounds of all fantasy drafts and are vastly outperforming their average draft position. Let’s start with Tarik Cohen. Cohen, not Jordan Howard (who was drafted in the third round of fantasy drafts) has been the best fantasy running back on the Bears through six weeks, and it’s not even close. Cohen has totaled 104.7 PPR fantasy points in six games, an average of 17.5 PPR points per game. Howard, on the other hand, has totaled 60.8 PPR fantasy points in six games, an average of 10.1 PPR points per game. That is a huge gap and is something that doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon.
Cohen’s production has skyrocketed as of late; he’s totaled 33, 23.3, and 23 PPR points in the last three games and has had at least eight targets, seven receptions, 65 receiving yards in each of those three games as well. He enters Week 8 as the 11th best fantasy running back in the NFL (compared to 33rd for Howard). As I said above, for those Zero-RB enthusiasts that targeted Cohen in the mid- to late-rounds, he has lived up to all expectations and should be viewed as a mid-level RB2 with high-end RB2 upside as the more reliable fantasy running back in the Bears’ offense. What’s even better is the fact that the Bears’ next three opponents (Jets, Bills, Lions) have what we call “fantasy-friendly” defenses and are all in the bottom-half of the league when it comes to fantasy-points-allowed-per-game to opposing running backs. Keep Cohen in your RB2 spot and consider him as a must-start fantasy option with a high weekly floor. Is it possible this next running back has been even better than Cohen? Let’s see…