As I remarked on Twitter Sunday night, Week 8 was one of the strangest
weeks of fantasy football I can recall, in a season full of surprising
developments. Mike White led the Jets to a comeback victory over
the very hot Bengals and Cooper Rush led the Cowboys past the Vikings
on the road.
These developments, on top of so many head-scratching coaching
decisions, have pushed me further and further toward avoiding
early-round running backs in future drafts. If I get a shot at
one of the very best, sure thatís a good pick. But otherwise
Iíll load up at positions where I am more confident of the
opportunities players will get.
Letís come back from that tangent, because my purpose here is
not to write about draft strategy but to write about what happened
in Week 8: how players were used, and how many opportunities they
got. Letís dive in.
played on 66% of snaps and AJ
Dillon played on 40%. Dillon got 16 carries to Jones 15,
and outproduced Jones on the ground. But Jones got the touchdown
carry, and had a second overturned. This is a bit concerning
for those who roster Jones, although this split is about what
I was expecting coming into the season. Jones got all the passing-down
work, which is why this potential split never worried me. He
received a whopping 11 targets with Davante Adams out, and caught
7 for 51 yards. Jones remains a weekly must-start player, and
Dillon, even with this expanded role, remains a potential flex
play at best.
and James Conner
continued their typical split on Thursday night, with Edmonds
playing on 59% of snaps and Conner on 37%. Edmonds got 11 opportunities
and finished with 69 yards and a score, while Conner got only
5 touches and had 22 yards, but scored twice. Conner remains
their preferred option near the goal line, meaning he will retain
value. But Edmonds remains the preferred play, particularly
in PPR leagues, since heís involved in the passing game.
played on 55% of snaps and got 24 carries and 2 targets. He
produced 91 yards of offense and a score. Interestingly, the
Panthers decided to get both Ameer
Abdullah and Royce
Freeman involved, and they played on 30% and 15% of snaps,
respectively. I donít anticipate this sort of split will remain
in place once Christian
McCaffrey returns (which is supposed to be in Week 9). Hubbard
is worth holding onto if you have the space, in case McCaffrey
has a setback.
Davis (64%) and Cordarrelle
Patterson (60%) played a majority of snaps and got work
in the rushing and receiving game. Both players got 9 carries
and had 5 receptions, with Davis going for 66 yards and Patterson
for 72 yards. Patterson scored, so he had the nicer day, but
itís worth noticing that Davis got more involved in the passing
game with Calvin Ridley out. If he was dropped in your league
and you need a back, he makes a nice addition. Patterson should
remain the superior play because he generally more involved
near the goal line and in the passing game.
played on 58% of snaps, Salvon
Ahmed on 23%, and newly activated Patrick
Laird on 14%. It seems the Dolphins insist on including
three backs. Gaskin got 12 carries (36 yards) and 4 targets
(3-19), while Ahmad got 7 carries and 2 targets. Laird had only
1 target. There will be nice days for Gaskin, but there will
also be duds against good defenses. Still, he is the only back
you can start, barring injury or some big coaching shift.
continued to play on more snaps (64%) than Devin
Singletary (34%). He had only one more carry and less rushing
yardage, but he excelled in the passing game, catching 6 of
7 targets for 39 yards. Singletary had only 1 target. Neither
back is an exciting option, but Moss is the preferred play with
how they are being utilized right now.
Only two backs saw the field for the 49ers again, Elijah
Mitchell (64% of snaps) and JaMycal
Hasty (34% of snaps). Mitchell got 18 carries (137 yards
and a score), and Hasty got 3 carries and 2 targets. Mitchell,
for as long as he is getting almost all of the carries, will
remain a very good weekly option at running back. The other
backs, including Jeff
Wilson, likely will have no value for fantasy the rest of
the way, unless Mitchell is injured. Then again, you never know
with Kyle Shanahan.
Herbert played on 84% of snaps, while Damien
Williams (inj.) played on only 6%. Herbert also got 23 carries
(72 yards) and 2 targets. He has looked like a great NFL running
back these past few weeks, so it will be interesting to see
how the coaches handle things when David
Montgomery returns. For now, Herbert is a nice weekly play.
As I suspected, Nick
Chubb continued to play his regular weekly allotment of
snaps. He played on 56%, while DíErnest Johnson played on 31%
Felton played on 15%. Chubb did receive 16 carries, but
it was Johnson who ran in the score. They were facing a stout
Pittsburgh front, but either way the Browns coaches do not want
to depend on one back in any game if they can avoid it.
The snap share for the Eagles backfield is a bit misleading.
played on 45%, Kenneth
Gainwell on 31%, and Jordan
Howard on 25%. But Gainwell basically did not get in the
game until it was a blowout. The Eagles depended on Scott and
Howard completely, and both racked up touches in the first three
quarters (and both scored twice). When the game was completely
decided, Gainwell came in to waste the clock. I am not sure
if Gainwell did something in practice to anger the coaches or
what might have happened, but he clearly looked poised to take
over the lead role after Miles
Sanders was injured. Nick Sirianni is quickly becoming a
reviled coach in fantasy circles due to his decision making.
For now, Iíd avoid them all if possible. If I have to start
one of them, Iíd likely go with Boston Scott since he looks
to be the one they trust the most right now.
Henderson played on twice as many snaps as Sony
Michel, he only got 4 more touches. Henderson was very effective,
going for 93 yards and two scores on 15 touches. Michel went
for 56 yards on 11 touches himself. Some of Michelís touches
were due to the large lead, so I donít anticipate this being
a multi-week thing. If Michel continues getting close to double-digit
touches, he can be a desperation play.
Lindsay was assumed to be the starter by some after Mark
Ingram was traded, but he played on only 8 snaps. David
Johnson, the other potential starter, played on 11 snaps.
played on 30, and fourth-string back Scottie
Phillips played on 15. If this snap share continued, Burkhead
could have value but I seriously doubt it will continue.
Taylorís snap share continues to trend up. His snaps over
the past five weeks have been at 51/52/65/69/74%. He has taken
more and more of the passing-down work as well, pushing Hinesí
snaps down and pushing Mack to virtually none. Pending health,
he should again be one of the top backs for the second half,
as he was in 2020.
Carter broke out in Week 8. He played over 70% of snaps
for the second week in a row, but his usage was off the charts
in this game against the Bengals. He got 15 carries, which he
took for 77 yards and a score, and also got 14 targets! He caught
9 of them for 95 yards. Much of the reason he got so many targets
was because current QB Mike White likes to check it down to
his backs, and also because the Jets were trailing most of the
day. But still, against a strong defense Carter flashed his
ability, and I donít think he will lose snaps going forward.
I will be starting him with confidence going forward, unless
Zach Wilson returns and stifles the offense.
is also a viable starter with Mike White under center. He only
played on 29% of snaps, but he got 4 carries and 6 targets,
and went for 86 yards and a score (5-71-1 through the air).
For as long as White is the starter, Johnson could prove to
be a nice plug-in at running back.
Harris played on 41 snaps, Brandon
Bolden on 25, and Rhamondre
Stevenson on 12. Harris got 23 touches, Bolden had 4, and
Stevenson had 9. It was interesting that Bolden only got 4 carries
but no targets in this one. It was also interesting that Stevenson,
on 12 snaps, got 8 carries and 2 targets. I cannot figure out
this backfield behind Damien Harris, and itís likely a foolís
errand to try.
replaced the injured James
Robinson and had 9 carries and 8 targets, finishing with
72 yards (including 6 receptions). If Robinson is to miss any
time, Hyde will be a useful option for those who have lost backs
again led Washington backs in snaps in Week 8, playing on 46%.
was down at 33%, and Jarret Patterson was at 23%. Interestingly,
Patterson had the most carries (11), and rushed for 46 yards.
Gibson only went 8-for-23 yards. McKissic, meanwhile, caught
all 8 of his targets for 83 yards. McKissic remains the only
Washington back you can play, until something changes. Gibson
is simply not getting enough work and has crushed any who started
him the past few weeks.
In his first week in New Orleans, Mark
Ingram played on 29% of snaps and got 8 touches. He finished
with 6 carries for 27 yards and caught both targets for 25 yards.
This is very promising for what he could do during the second
half of the season, particularly with the Saints so run-heavy
(and likely to stay that way with Jameis Winston lost for the
Gore worked into the game on Monday night for the Chiefs,
playing on 20% of snaps. He carried the ball on 11 of his 16
snaps, and went for 48 yards and a score. He looked similar
in skill level to Darrel
Williams. Williams got 13 carries (49 yards) but remained
the better play since he caught all 6 of his targets for 61
yards. Williams played on 64% of snaps. I would not bother with
picking up Gore, since he is likely to continue to get a small
snap share moving forward.
A.J. Green played on 95% of snaps on Thursday, and
led the team with 8 targets. DeAndre Hopkins is struggling with
injury, and if Hopkins misses any time Green could provide some
nice value. Christian Kirk played on 78% of snaps and got 6
targets, so he could also see a bump in value. Rondale Moore
might benefit the most if Hopkins misses time. He saw his highest
snap share of the season in Week 8, hitting 61% of snaps. He
also saw 5 targets and 2 carries, and could have some huge games
if he maintains that snap share. Watch the injury report carefully
to see whether Hopkins might miss Week 9.
Anderson simply isnít earning any targets. He played on
74% of snaps and saw only 1 target. I predict that as soon as
Marshall Jr. is healthy, he is going to take over the No.
2 receiver role in this offense. If you still roster Anderson,
you can drop him. Marshall makes a nice speculative add.
D.J. Moore got 8 targets, good enough for a 33% target
share, and caught 4 of them for 59 yards. He also had a touchdown
catch that was (incorrectly) determined not to be a catch,
so his day could have been much nicer. Continue to start him
weekly, even with Sam Darnold struggling. The return of Christian McCaffrey should help this whole offense.
In his return from injury DeVante Parker was very
involved, playing on 91% of snaps and getting 11 targets (29%
target share). He caught 8 for 85 yards, immediately looking
like the No. 1 option in the passing game. If he is on your
wire, he is a very nice add for the stretch run. Meanwhile,
Jaylen Waddle stayed involved (94% snaps and 12 targets) but
struggled in this one, catching only 4 for 29 yards. Still,
it was encouraging that he remained highly involved even with
Parker playing full time.
All three Bills receivers played almost the same
number of snaps. Emmanuel Sanders played on 56, Stefon Diggs
on 55, and Cole Beasley on 52 snaps. But the results did not
line up with the snaps. Sanders caught zero of his 4 targets,
Diggs caught 5 of his 7 targets (40 yards and a score), and
Beasley caught 10 of his 13 targets for 110 yards. The Dolphins
did a great job in the first half of taking away what the
Bills wanted to do, so in the second half the Bills went to
short passes to Zack Moss and Cole Beasley, and it worked.
Diggs and Sanders should remain the players with higher weekly
upside, but this kind of week will happen sometimes on a team
with this many receiving targets.
Brandon Aiyuk led all 49ers receivers in snaps on
Sunday (88%), and this could potentially mark a turning point
in the season for Aiyuk. He received 7 targets, second on
the team. Although he only caught 4 of them for 45 yards,
he was involved in the game plan. If he is on your wire, he
is an interesting speculative add. Just remember that George
Kittle is due back in Week 9 and that Kyle Shanahan loves
to change course and surprise everyone.
Darnell Mooney and Allen Robinson both were on the
field a ton (77% and 80%), but Mooney looks to have emerged
as the teamís top receiver. He caught 6 of 9 targets
for 64 yards, while Robinson caught 3 of 4 for 21 yards. This
offense continues to look bad, but with Justin Fields improving,
watch to see if one of these receivers can begin to break
Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson (97% and 92% of
snaps) are clearly the top 2 options at receiver for the Steelers.
Johnson continues to earn far more targets, and finished with
13 on Sunday (6-98). Claypool had 5 targets (4-45) but also
got 2 carries for 16 yards. Both players are good weekly options,
especially against weaker defenses.
On 43 snaps (73%), Odell Beckham Jr. was targeted
once. He and Baker Mayfield are simply not on the same page,
and I would say they may never get on the same page at this
point. Beckham needs to be benched or cut until we see multiple
weeks in a row of him earning 6 or more targets.
DeVonta Smith went from a promising rookie who could
make a big fantasy impact early in the season to a total dud
by Week 8. He finished the week with 3 targets, catching 1
for 15 yards. It did not help that the Eagles threw 16 total
passes in this game, but still that is only a 19% target share.
Smith must be benched everywhere until something changes,
and for those who roster him, rooting for Gardner Minshew
to get a shot at QB makes some sense.
Amon-Ra St. Brown returned in the passing game for
the Lions, catching 3 of 5 targets and playing on 73% of snaps.
This offense is bad, but St. Brown could have value over the
second half of the season.
Cooper Kupp (87%), Robert Woods (87%), and Van Jefferson
(84%) basically played on every snap prior to the 4th quarter.
Kupp and Woods got 9 targets and Jefferson got 6, catching
3 for 88 yards. Jefferson is a very nice addition, since heís
on a team that wants to run 11-personnel a vast majority of
the time and has taken over the No. 3 role with DeSean Jackson
out of the picture.
Rookie Nico Collins is a name to keep in mind if you
are desperate at receiver. He played on 64% of snaps for the
Texans and caught all 4 of his targets for 55 yards. With
Tyrod Taylor possibly returning to the starting role soon,
Collins could provide some nice value over the second half.
A.J. Brown finally had a target share fit for a player
of his caliber, 33%. He caught 10 of 11 targets for 155 yards
and a score. The targets might come down once Julio Jones
is healthy, but I think this team might become more pass-happy
with Derrick Henry going down. Brown could be in line for
a great second half.
Michael Pittman Jr. looks ready to be a No. 1 receiver.
He played on all but three snaps on Sunday, and caught 10
of 15 targets for 86 yards and two scores. He has become an
every-week must-start option.
Chase played on 95% of snaps, Tyler
Boyd on 80%, and Tee
Higgins on 77%. Chase received 9 targets (26% target share),
Boyd 8 (24%), and Higgins 6 (18%). Interestingly, it was Higgins
with the most receiving yards (4-97), but both Boyd and Chase
scored. All three players should be very involved on a weekly
basis, as the Bengals like to play 11-personnel almost exclusively.
All can be started weekly, though youíll be the most confident
Elijah Moore also flashed for the Jets on Sunday,
catching all 6 of his targets for 67 yards. He played as the
fourth receiver, and only played on 36% of snaps (behind Mims,
Cole, and Crowder), but he looked very good and outproduced
both Mims and Cole. I would not be surprised if we see Moore
begin to get more opportunities over the second half, making
him a nice addition to your team if you need receiver help.
Mike Williams played almost every snap on Sunday,
but was shut down by the Patriots defense. He caught only
2 of 5 targets for 19 yards. This looks like a Belichick special,
where he shut down the top option of the opposing team. It
is clear to him apparently that Williams is their most important
offensive player, and that proved true in this Chargers loss.
Keenan Allen picked up the slack, getting 11 targets,
but he only finished with 6 catches for 77 yards and a score.
Allen is still a very good receiver, but he seems to be slowing
down a bit, which is preventing him from running deeper routes
or doing as much after the catch.
It appears that Laviska Shenault is not even the
second receiver on the Jaguars, even with D.J. Chark lost
for the season. Instead, Jamal Agnew was targeted 12 times,
catching 6 for 38 yards and a score. Shenault went 2-13 on
4 targets. He can be dropped or put on the very end of your
bench. As for Agnew, I would not pick him up, as I cannot
envision a scenario where he would be your best option to
Talk about a narrow target distribution! The Seahawks
threw 24 passes on Sunday, and 13 of the targets went to Tyler Lockett and 6 of them went to DK Metcalf. Lockett was benched
in many leagues after Geno Smith was not targeting him the
past couple weeks, but they apparently worked on it during
practice. Lockett finished with 12 receptions for 142 yards,
and should be started moving forward Ė especially since
Russell Wilson might return in Week 10, after Seattleís
DeAndre Carter led Washington receivers with 3 catches
for 51 yards and a score, on 6 targets. Terry McLaurin had
7 targets, but only went 3-23. All Washington receivers should
be benched if possible, as Taylor Heinicke is playing poorly.
Tyler Johnson stepped in for Antonio Brown on Sunday
and played well. He played on 64% of snaps and caught 5-of-6
targets for 65 yards. If Brownís injury turns out to
be serious, Johnson could be one of the best waiver wire adds
for the second half of the season.
Amari Cooper led the Cowboys with 13 targets, finishing
with 8 receptions for 122 yards and a score. It was hard to
predict he would have such a nice day with Cooper Rush at
QB, but it happened. Cooper is a weekly must-start player
when heís healthy. CeeDee Lamb also produced nicely,
catching 6 of 8 targets for 112 yards. Both should always
be in lineups, but watch what happens when Michael Gallup
returns. I think he will continue in the role currently being
filled by Cedrick Wilson, but itís worth paying attention
to whether Cooper or Lamb lose any work when heís back.
It is frustrating for those of us who drafted Justin Jefferson, but Adam Thielen continues to regularly get more
snaps and targets. Thielen played on 18 more snaps and got
5 more targets than Jefferson. Thielen finished with 6-for-78
yards and score, while Jefferson went 2-21. Jefferson did
leave briefly after hurting his back, but he returned. Kirk
Cousins is struggling and missed Jefferson on what would have
been a long reception, possibly a touchdown. Jefferson will
likely get it going, but it doesnít look great right
Darius Slayton led Giants receivers with 87% of snaps,
but he did not have a catch on 2 targets. Kadarius Toney played
behind Slayton as he had been doing early in the season (57%
of snaps), but caught 4 of 5 targets. After another injury
for Sterling Shepard (quad), both Toney and Slayton should
see plenty of snaps in the coming weeks, even with the likely
return of Kenny Golladay.
Andy Reid continues to make baffling decisions when
it comes to personnel, playing Byron Pringle on 53% of snaps,
Mecole Hardman on 49%, Demarcus Robinson on 41%, and Josh Gordon on 40%. Hardman had 7 targets, but most were manufactured
targets near or behind the line of scrimmage, and none of
the other players had more than 2 targets. Reid needs to figure
out who his No. 2 receiver is and stick with him, obviously
not because he cares about fantasy football but because the
Chiefs offense is in total disarray.
Zach Ertz played on 73% of snaps and caught all 4
of his targets (42 yards). He is a low-end tight end due to
the other receiving options on this team, but as long as heís
playing so many snaps he certainly has value and can be started.
Kyle Pitts played on 83% of snaps and tied for the
team lead in targets with 6 (a 22% target share), but he only
caught 2 for 13 yards. The defense schemed to take him away,
and the Falcons didnít have another answer with Calvin
Ridley out. This may be a recurring problem since Ridley is
out indefinitely, so keep an eye on whether Pitts also struggles
against weaker defenses.
Mike Gesicki suffered the most with the return of
DeVante Parker. That is ironic since he played by far his
highest snap share of the season (97%), but he saw his targets
fall to 4. He caught 3 for 48 yards, and also caught a 2-point
conversion but he definitely ceded some of his targets to
Parker. That is not surprising since they both work the intermediate
areas of the field. Those who roster Gesicki have to keep
playing him since he has been so effective and is playing
so many snaps, but youíll have to root for Tua Tagovailoa
to look his way more often in the coming weeks.
In comeback mode, T.J. Hockenson finally returned
to a heavy workload, catching 10 of 11 targets for 89 yards.
He remains the Lions only good receiving option.
Cole Kmet played on 90% of snaps, which is about
what he has been playing every week, and was second on the
team in targets with 6. He caught only 3 for 24 yards, but
I continue to say that he needs to be rostered in case this
offense starts clicking.
Pat Freiermuth continued his ascension into a fantasy-relevant
player, playing on a season-high 78% of snaps with Eric Ebron
out. He was also very involved, with 7 targets (a 21% target
share), second on the team. He caught 4 for 44 yards and a
score. Freiermuth needs to be rostered in all but very shallow
leagues, and could be a nice weekly option for the second
half of the season.
Tyler Higbee played on 69% of snaps and caught all
of his targets, but unfortunately he only received 3. He is
simply not getting many looks, making him a risky weekly play.
However, in this tight end landscape he is likely still a
top-12 option most weeks.
Dan Arnold had 10 targets on Sunday, catching 8 for
68 yards. He played on 72% of snaps. Any tight end playing
over 70% of snaps and getting a handful of targets every week
is worth a starting spot, and Arnold also used to play wide
receiver. I continue to say he is an excellent weekly play
on a team that is going to be behind and have to throw every
I did not anticipate that the return of Albert Okwuegbunam
would mean terrible things for Noah Fant, but it did. Fant
still played on 77% of snaps, but Okwuegbunam was at 49% and
had more receptions than Fant. Jerry Jeudy (4-39) also likely
ate into his targets. In an offense that does not pass it
much, Fantís upside is looking extremely limited for
the second half of the season.
Dalton Schultz had a down week with Cooper Rush under
center, catching only 2 of 7 targets for 11 yards. Still,
he played on 82% of snaps, so this is nothing to worry about.
Tyler Conklin played on 82% of snaps and got 7 targets,
catching 5 for 57 yards. In deep and tight end-premium leagues,
Conklin is turning out to be a nice option. Heís likely
already rostered in those leagues, but if you have him he
is a decent starting option at a tough position.
Despite playing on 91% of snaps, Travis Kelce struggled
on Monday night. Mahomes missed him several times when he
was open, which is odd to say the least. Kelce caught only
4 of 7 targets for 27 yards, and lost a fumble. I think Kelce
will get it going at some point, but much will depend on whether
he and Mahomes can get on the same page.
Evan Engram played on 78% of snaps but only saw 4
targets. He did catch one for a touchdown, salvaging his fantasy
day, but the Giants offense looks bad as a whole making it
difficult to trust him moving forward.
Kevin Scott is a fantasy pro who has made over $100,000 playing
fantasy football. Catch his podcast "Grinding the Data"
and you can follow him on Twitter @kevinscottff.