During Week 8 NFL action, we saw things shift in the backfields of the Colts, Bills, Broncos and Chargers, and one aging quarterback is trying to make a fantasy comeback. Senior FantasySharks.com writer Matt Wilson analyzes each situation for fantasy managers in his newest edition of “Traps & Trends.”
WEEK 8 AT A GLANCE:
For the first time this season, the autumn weather impacted a handful of games. Near the shores of Lake Erie, the Las Vegas Raiders and Cleveland Browns battled through rainy and windy weather conditions that impacted both aerial attacks. Elsewhere, gusty winds lowered the effectiveness of passing games other matchups, including New England Patriots/Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans /Cincinnati Bengals. Windy conditions also were a factor but to a lesser extent for Minnesota Vikings/Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints/Chicago Bears.
Moving forward, keep an eye on the weather and remember that it’s the wind that causes the most problems for offenses. According to a lot of the weather nerd stuff that I’ve read…if the sustained wind speed is at least 20 miles per hour or higher, passing attacks and kicking will be impacted. If the National Weather Service issues a high wind advisory or a high wind warning for a city, that’s when you should definitely consider fantasy lineup changes at quarterback, wideout and kicker.
WHAT ABOUT THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS/NEW YORK JETS GAME?
In case you’re wondering, the weather wasn’t a factor in the poor fantasy performances by Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell in their dream matchup against a leaky New York Jets run defense at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. It was pass-happy Andy Reid reminding the fantasy universe that he occasionally forgets about his ground game, which he has been doing going all the way back to his days as the head man with the Philadelphia Eagles. I will be surprised if Reid doesn’t go the extra mile to get Edwards-Helaire and Bell back on track when the Chiefs entertain the soft-against-the-run Carolina Panthers in Week 9.
THE WEEK 8 BAND-AID REPORT
We have a shorter-than-usual injury report for Week 8, which is obviously a good thing. As always, keep in mind that some teams withhold their injury news until Monday, so some new names could be added to the list. The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, November 3 at 4 p.m. EST. Perhaps we’ll see some familiar fantasy-relevant faces shipped off to new teams.
Week 8 Injuries
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle)
RB Darrell Henderson (thigh)
RB Patrick Laird (ankle)
RB Tevin Coleman (knee)
WR Kenny Golladay (hip)
WR T.Y. Hilton (groin)
WR Ashton Dulin (knee)
WR Adam Humphries (concussion)
TE George Kittle (ankle)
We’re just eight weeks into the 2020 NFL fantasy football season, but…
1. When a guy who has operated as a workhorse tailback for half the season abruptly looses carries and gets outscored by a tight end, is it time to push the panic button?
The Dude: Jonathan Taylor
The Damage: His role as a receiver has been largely disappointing during the last month, and now Taylor’s rushing workload took a hit during the Indianapolis Colts’ Week 8 win over the Detroit Lions.
Clearly struggling, the rookie carried just 11 times for 22 scoreless yards and caught two of three targets for 29 yards while playing 25/75 snaps. Taylor lost touches to backup Jordan Wilkins, who toted the rock 20 times for 89 yards and one touchdown, which came on a one-yard plunge, and one catch for 24 yards on one target while playing 38/75 snaps. Nyheim Hines, playing 16/75 snaps, also vultured five carries for eight yards, and his two receiving scores came from 22 and 29 yards out. In addition, Trey Burton scored on a two-yard run. Is Taylor’s starting gig in jeopardy?
The Diagnosis: TOSS-UP
The snap count stats from the Detroit game were troubling, but Taylor should remain the lead dog in the Indianapolis backfield. Wilkins has been an effective early-down runner but an inconsistent one since he came to the Colts in 2018. If they thought Wilkins, a 2018 fifth-round selection, was No. 1 tailback material, they obviously wouldn’t started Marlon Mack over him for two seasons and obviously wouldn’t have drafted Taylor. He’s the most talented ball carrier on the roster.
However, the bigger worry going forward is Taylor’s workload. What happened in the Lions game could be the start of Indianapolis switching to hot-hand committee backfield. Taylor already had been struggling in the red zone, scoring just once in his last four outings. I wouldn’t expect Wilkins to log 20 carries and score every week (game script in the Lions contest favored this), but I suspect he’ll receive just enough touches each game to knock Taylor down to early-down grinder fantasy RB2 value. Taylor rarely catches passes, and the Colts don’t seem to trust him in scoring situations right now.
2. Is this guy finally emerging as Frank Gore 2.0 in the Buffalo Bills backfield?
The Dude: Zack Moss
The Damage: Since he returned from a three game injury layoff in Week 5, Moss’ workload has steadily increased. The rookie turned some heads in Week 6, outplaying Devin Singletary by averaging 6.7 yards per carry across seven totes of the rock for 47 yards versus the New York Jets. Singletary rushed eight times for 29 yards and caught two passes for 18 yards on five targets in that contest.
During the Buffalo Bills’ Week 8 win over the New England Patriots, Moss continued to run well. He carried a season-high 14 times for 81 yards and two touchdowns, which came on runs of four yards and eight yards, respectively. However, he failed to catch his only target. In that contest, Moss’ backfield wingman, Devin Singletary, toted the rock 14 times for a career-high 86 scoreless yards and caught one pass for six yards on one target. Has Moss finally staked his claim to the “Frank Gore role” that he was drafted to fill?
The Diagnosis: TREND
Even though Singletary looked solid in the Patriots game and split snaps with Moss by a count of 31 to 28 in that contest, it looks like Moss has cemented himself into the red-zone back role that never seemed to be a good fit for Singletary. While Moss won’t catch as many passes as his backfield partner, he’s clearly the more valuable of the two in what looks like a 50/50 backfield split moving forward. Singletary obviously won’t disappear, and he’ll likely out-produce Moss in combo yardage more times than not. Both runners are weekly fantasy RB3 plays with Moss offering the scoring upside.