Over a three-week stretch from late September to early October, Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson totaled seven catches for 69 yards and a touchdown as he battled a knee injury that forced him to miss a game. Life has gotten exponentially better for the Lions and his fantasy owners since. “Megatron” proved to be more machine than man in Week 8, setting career highs with 14 catches for 329 yards and a score in a thrilling comeback win against the Dallas Cowboys.
In addition to posting his fifth career 200-yard game – tying Hall-of-Famer Lance Alworth for the most in NFL history – Johnson’s yardage total fell just seven yards short of Willie “Flipper” Anderson’s all-time record. By comparison, Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (three receptions, 72 yards and two touchdowns) – who created a stir earlier in the week when he compared himself favorably with Johnson – created as much chaos on the sidelines with his teammates as he did on the field, but delivered the goods in fantasy just as he has most of the season.
Detroit piled up 623 yards of total offense, so QB Matthew Stafford (season-high 488 yards and a TD) and RB Reggie Bush (122 total yards and a score) came through for fantasy owners in a game that featured only 20 points through three quarters, but turned into a shootout thanks to a 41-point fourth quarter.
Other Week 8 fantasy highlights:
— Were it not for Johnson threatening a NFL record, New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees (332 yards and five touchdowns) would have stolen the show in fantasy. Rookie WR Kenny Stills (three catches, 129 yards and two touchdowns) and TE Jimmy Graham (three receptions, 37 yards and two TDs) did plenty of damage with their limited opportunities. Graham’s effort was particularly impressive after the team revealed he has a partially torn plantar fascia late this week.
— The San Francisco 49ers figured to have their way with the winless Jacksonville Jaguars in London and did not disappoint. QB Colin Kaepernick (164 yards passing, 54 yards rushing and three total touchdowns) baffled the Jaguars with zone-read runs for the second straight week while Frank Gore (71 rushing yards and two TDs) scored twice on the ground as well. TE Vernon Davis (three receptions, 52 yards and a touchdown) got in on the action before San Francisco took the air out of the ball in the second half.
— For at least one week, it didn’t matter that Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon (five catches, 132 yards and a score) and TE Jordan Cameron (four receptions for 81 yards) were working with their third different quarterback in Jason Campbell, who kept his team close for most of the day with 293 yards and two touchdown passes in a loss against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. It was easily the best performance a Cleveland quarterback has enjoyed since Brian Hoyer was lost for the season, so perhaps not all is lost with Campbell after all.
— In the same game, WR Dexter McCluster (seven receptions, 67 yards and touchdown) posted his second straight strong effort – especially in PPR leagues. McCluster will always struggle to see a full complement of snaps due to his slight build, but his ability to get open in the short-passing game should continue to be an asset in a Chiefs’ offense that rarely takes a shot downfield.
— The New England Patriots trailed 17-3 at halftime, mustered only 252 yards of total offense for the game and still managed to win rather handily despite 116 yards passing from QB Tom Brady. Rookie WR Aaron Dobson (four catches, 60 yards and a TD) was the only Patriot receiver to enjoy much of a day as TE Rob Gronkowski (two receptions for 27 yards) and WR Danny Amendola (three catches for 15 yards) were held in check. RB Stevan Ridley (79 yards and a score) continued his resurgence and has found the end zone four times over his last three games.
— New York Giants K Josh Brown entered the weekend with seven field goals on the season. However, thanks to the continued red-zone struggles from his offense, he accounted for all of his team’s scoring with five field goals against the listless Philadelphia Eagles to carry the day for the few fantasy owners that started him.