By now if you’ve been following you know the drill, and if you’re new to the post I’m guessing you’ll get a sense of what we’re trying to do in this post pretty quickly. Here go our Week 8 NFL Takeaways; twitter style.
In short… quick hits of subjects of interest that you may have missed from the weekend that was. You won’t necessarily see headlines or big statistical outputs that are likely covered elsewhere… just some moments of intrigue from the weekend that was. I’m big into numbers, particularly snap counts and relative target share, but you won’t see an overwhelming amount of that here as there is lots of time to collect that data through the week. You’re just getting some unfiltered thoughts to help you guide your lineups for the week ahead.
Don’t Read Too Much Into Deshaun Watson’s Big Week
I’m sort of doubling down on a mistake here, after ranking Deshaun Watson as my QB17 this week (-5 from FantasyPros ECR) but after the twitterverse blew up following his performance on Thursday Night Football I wouldn’t get carried away on where I valued him for Week 9.
Deshaun Watson is BACK!
The @HoustonTexans QB finishes the game with more TD passes than incompletions 😳 pic.twitter.com/s4SgZxk8Jk
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 26, 2018
But, despite the strong outing I’m not ready to forget that he’s still nursing a significant chest injury and has to travel to Colorado this week. Tack on the loss of Will Fuller V and I’m going to be cautious with Watson for Week 9. Thereafter, the Texans enter a bye and the QB has a shot to really contribute in the second half of the season when he gets his health right, but a modest yet efficient (24 attempts, 139 yards and a TD) line that he put up on the road against Jacksonville feels more realistic for the week ahead.
Sascha Paruk from SportsBettingDime.com agrees, noting that, “the Over/Under for Houston/Denver is at a modest 47 points and the Broncos are two-point favorites. That means the Texans are only predicted to score about 22-23 points. When you factor in that Denver’s defense is second in DVOA against the pass but 28th against the run, it’s highly likely that Bill O’Brien crafts a run-heavy game script and Watson has a down week, fantasy-wise.”
Meantime, I’m expecting plenty out of Lamar Miller (18-133). He notched his second straight 100-yard outing and will head into a matchup against the Broncos, who yield the 7th most points to the RB position and have given up two, 200-yard outings in their last four matchups.
Carlos Hyde out-carries T.J. Yeldon in his Jags debut
You may have overlooked this because a) Hyde wasn’t all that productive and b) the Jaguars abandoned the run early (with Yeldon contributing significantly more in the passing game, leading the Jags in receiving) but Carlos Hyde had some opportunities against the Eagles. But, with Jacksonville heading into their post-London bye this week, you’ll want to tuck this away in your memory bank somewhere.
There is speculation that Leonard Fournette will return in Week 10 when Jacksonville takes the field next, but if not I’d be willing to roll the dice on Hyde with an extra two weeks to learn the system. If Fournette is back, I’d expect Yeldon to be the guy that teh team trusts more (than Hyde) in the passing game.
Jaguars HB snap count from today:
T.J. Yeldon 37
Carlos Hyde 28
— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) October 28, 2018
Fitzmagic returns; But the God-winds of change may not stop there
Jameis Winston had an awful day against the Bengals, and the wind frankly has felt like it was out of the team’s sails since Ryan Fitzpatrick’s quick hook upon Winston’s return. That wind came back in Week 8 with Fitzpatrick’s entry mid-way through the game.
The difference in the team and the offensive production was notable… and, curious to some:
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) October 28, 2018
The team has gone ahead and named Fitzpatrick their starter for Week 9, though it is possible that Winston gets another crack once the team is out of contention. Ultimately, it may not matter from a fantasy perspective which is under Center moving forward as Winston’s flaws have always been with turnovers and not with moving the ball.
Meantime, Chris Godwin wound up with a healthy seven targets but played second fiddle to Adam Humphries (10 targets) for much of the game. With Fitzpatrick under center, Godwin drew five of his seven targets (and picked up the game tying two point conversion), versus four looks (after six in the first half) for Humphries. Godwin owners will want to keep an eye on the relative snap counts and opportunities next week, though I’d expect him to remain productive as he flashed chemistry with Fitzpatrick early this year.
Russell Wilson is heating up
Wilson, last year’s fantasy QB1, appears to be hitting his stride.
Russell Wilson has thrown 9 TDs in his last 56 pass attempts pic.twitter.com/nSid304Kee
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) October 28, 2018
There wasn’t much asked of him this week with the Seahawks taking control in the 2nd Quarter and never looking back, but he had as many TDs (three) as incompletions on his 17 attempts and has been rolling in his last few games. He’ll draw a winnable matchup against the Chargers next week before hitting the road to take on the Rams.
Start your Chiefs
Another one from the learn a lesson from me file. I’ve said in this space before that while you may never know which Chief (or Ram) is in for the Boom week you simply have to start them all because a) you don’t want to miss the boom and b) the floor is generally pretty high as they score often and spread it around.
This week, alas, I benched Sammy Watkins in a FLEX spot.
The week will be remembered for this great play by Kareem Hunt:
(via @NFL) pic.twitter.com/aFlx1WsiO8
— Simms & Lefkoe (@SimmsAndLefkoe) October 28, 2018
But the byline in the tweet might be the more important piece to keep in your your memory. The Chiefs are scoring at an epic pace, and you want to have every piece of that offense you can get.
To my earlier point, this was Watkins’ week among the pass catchers but there wasn’t anything to hurt owners of Tyreek Hill (3/4-70) or Travis Kelce (6/10-79, TD). Start ’em all.
Greg Olsen is back, and Cam likes it that way
Cam Newton played an exceptional second half against the Eagles last week and just scored three touchdowns, adding 52 yards rushing, against a stout Ravens defense. He became just the 2nd QB to score 20+ fantasy points against that Ravens front this year, and is looking like his 2016 self.
That the performance coincides with Greg Olsen’s return to the lineup shouldn’t be a surprise. Olsen went 4/4 on his targets today, finding the endzone:
Greg Olsen has now scored in consecutive games. Ran a route on over 78% of Newton dropbacks during the previous 2 games.
— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) October 28, 2018
I’m not taking this tweet at face-value, or at least I think there is a little more depth to the story than 280 characters allow, but it’s clear that Olsen contributes to the QBs success more than just through his receptions and yards. With him back, the needle is pointing up for Newton:
Cam Newton said he is not a great play caller, and that often he thinks play calls are way too long. Thinks they should be a word like “Tepper” or “Rivera,” and a long sentence or paragraph. He said Greg Olsen often helps him with some play calls in the huddle.
— Steve Reed (@SteveReedAP) October 10, 2018
Doug Martin confirms he’s the back to own in Oakland
This news is a week too late for most, but in a game that the Raiders lost by two scores Martin saw the lion’s share of the work against the Colts over passing down back Jalen Richard. Specifically, Martin had 13 carries and made two receptions on his two targets. Richard had just two carries, and while he did see a productive eight targets Martin wasn’t written out of the offense by game flow and should see more predictable use.
He looked quick running the ball, too. Though, there was enough bad to go with the good for Raiders’ fans in keeping with the theme of their season:
#Raiders notes: Doug Martin’s first game as lead back good ’til the last carry; Joseph, Conley address trade rumors; LaFell calls his shothttps://t.co/B8uelfxHhh
— Matt Kawahara (@matthewkawahara) October 29, 2018
Turning point play of the game. pic.twitter.com/jdt94bY3OX
— Evan Groat (@Egroat5) October 29, 2018
Byron Leftwitch gets it
It took a long time for Arizona’s offense to get going, but they looked like they belonged in the NFL in the 2nd half at least. Larry Fitzgerald found the endzone, and David Johnson was split out wide and found some use as a pass catcher.
What is this wizardry? https://t.co/K7ifQH0JXp
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) October 28, 2018
It wasn’t one for the record books, but did mark Johnson’s highest receiving yardage output on the season (tied) and his second best total yardage. As the team gets to know their new OC and trends more back to its Bruce Arians’ roots it should mean good things to come for both Johnson and Fitzgerald.
Aaron Jones sees a significant carry edge; and gamers still find a reason to complain
One of the more interesting trends for me this season has been the willingness of the fantasy community / arm chair coaches to assume they know what’s best for a backfield based on raw numbers or desired fantasy production. Of course, we’ve always pulled for our guys and lamented when the player we want to score isn’t getting the ball, but it feels particularly detached from football reality this year in some ways.
Specifically, I’m thinking about the conversations around the relative workloads of Frank Gore / Kenyan Drake and Jamaal Williams / Aaron Jones.
This week, Jones was the lead back from the jump (finishing with 12 carries and two targets to Williams’ four and one), and did found the endzone, which should be enough to placate his owners. But, Williams was fed a goal line carry and was sprinkled in throughout the day. Ultimately, there are football reasons for that to happen, and as investors of the Jones and Drakes of the world we have to accept that they’re going to be spelled from time to time, or more often, and occasionally in high leverage situations. As fantasy gamers, that has to factor into your weekly assessment of a player’s potential impact because we’re not running the teams and the truth is we don’t have the chops to.
Early in the game, with Williams getting the short score and Jones being held out of the endzone, there was a lot of this chatter:
Jamaal Williams scoring a 1-yard TD is the ultimate Mike McCarthy troll job.
— Brad Evans (@YahooNoise) October 28, 2018
But Jones was just as happy as his teammate to be in the endzone:
Aaron Jones is happy for his pal Jamaal Williams scoring a TD, maybe you all should be happy for him too!! pic.twitter.com/1nwcR1UeNs
— Yahoo Fantasy Sports (@YahooFantasy) October 28, 2018
And ultimately, that’s the point. The teams are trying to score and to win games, particularly the Packers as they fight for their playoff lives in the midst of a tough stretch of schedule. At the end of the day, the decisions are about football. Just ask Todd Gurley:
— Todd Gurley II (@TG3II) October 29, 2018
And a bonus tweet I just got a kick out of…
Eli has gone from sad to funny and back to sad. He’s practically an episode of BoJack.
— Mike Tanier (@MikeTanier) October 28, 2018