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Inside the Matchup
Week 8
10/24/18; Updated: 10/26/18

By: Andy Swanson | Jason Katz | Nick Caron | Justin Bales



Sunday Early:



Sunday Late:

IND @ OAK | SF @ ARI | GB @ LAR | NO @ MIN



- Green highllight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)

Dolphins at Texans - (Bales)
Line: HOU -7.5
Total: 44.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Ryan Tannehill has already been ruled out of this game, opening the door for another Brock Osweiler start. In two starts, Osweiler is averaging 309.5 passing yards and 2.5 passing touchdowns on 37.5 pass attempts. He gets a matchup against the Houston Texans, who are only allowing 238 passing yards per game, but have allowed 14 passing touchdowns this season. The Dolphins are sizeable underdogs, meaning Osweiler could be forced to throw the ball 30+ times in this matchup.

Who exactly is he going to throw to? Albert Wilson has been placed on the injured reserve, while Kenny Stills (groin) has been ruled out. Danny Amendola will likely be their lead receiver this week, while Jakeem Grant and DeVante Parker both come with tremendous upside. Amendola has totaled 14 receptions for 143 yards and one touchdown in two games with Osweiler, and he will likely be featured early and often. Parker is more of a big, red zone threat, while Grant is an explosive, big play waiting to happen. Tight end Mike Gesicki and the running backs could also contribute more in the passing game this week, although Gesicki hasn’t shown enough (just 12 catches) to be trusted yet.

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

Running Game Thoughts: Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore have been splitting touches this season, with Drake averaging 11.9 touches, while Gore is averaging 11.0 touches per game. Gore has flashed upside, but his lack of receiving makes Drake the better option, especially in PPR leagues. Drake has also been heating up recently, as he’s averaging 18.0 fantasy points over his last three games. Still, Houston is allowing only 92.1 rushing yards per game, while allowing only one rushing touchdown. They’re also allowing one of the lowest yards per carry averages in the NFL this season at 3.4 YPC.

Value Meter:
QB2: Brock Osweiler (mid-range)
WR2: Danny Amendola (mid-range)
WR3: DeVante Parker (high risk)
WR3: Jakeem Grant (high risk)
Flex: Kenyan Drake

Passing Game Thoughts: The Dolphins have struggled at times against the pass allowing 269 yards per game. With that being said, they have only allowed 11 passing touchdowns, while recording 11 interceptions. Deshaun Watson has had plenty of ups and downs this season, but he’s averaging 276.7 passing yards and 1.4 passing touchdowns per game. He’s also averaging 30.9 rushing yards with one rushing touchdown this season.

DeAndre Hopkins has been the top receiving option for Houston, averaging 6.7 receptions for 101.0 yards and 0.6 touchdowns on 10.1 targets per game. He also has 100 yards or one touchdown in each of his last four contests. With Keke Coutee (hamstring) ruled out, Will Fuller should resume a major role in the offense. In three games with Coutee injured, Fuller is averaging a 6.3 / 94.0 / 0.7 line on 9.3 targets.The However, the Texans will likely spend a good chunk of this game running out the clock, limiting opportunities for others in this passing game. Tight end Ryan Griffin (illness) has been ruled out, leaving Jordan Akins as a desperation play at the position.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

Running Game Thoughts: Lamar Miller is the featured back in this offense and this is a matchup he can take advantage of. Miami is allowing 136.7 rushing yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry this season. They have also allowed six rushing touchdowns. Miller is averaging 17.7 touches per game, and he’s coming off of his best game of the season where he notched 100 rushing yards on 22 carries. His work in the passing game is limited with 6 targets in his last two games but he should see positive game script, adding to his value.

Value Meter:
QB2: Deshaun Watson
RB2: Lamar Miller (mid-range)
WR1: DeAndre Hopkins (high-end)
WR2: Will Fuller (mid-range)

Prediction: Texans 24, Dolphins 17 ^ Top

Eagles at Jaguars (London) - (Bales)
Line: PHI -3.0
Total: 43.0

Passing Game Thoughts: The Eagles have found some success through the air recently, but this is a tough matchup. The Jaguars are allowing a league-low 180 passing yards per game. They have also allowed a league-low six passing touchdowns this season. Carson Wentz has found plenty of success since returning from injury, as he’s averaging 300.4 passing yards and 2.0 passing touchdowns per game. With that being said, this simply is a matchup to avoid for fantasy, as Jacksonville has been able to shut down the majority of their opposing quarterbacks, allowing the second fewest fantasy points to the position.

Alshon Jeffery is the only receiver for Philadelphia that should be considered, as he continues to see a ton of volume each week. Through four games, he’s averaging 6.3 receptions for 76.5 yards and 1.0 touchdown on 9.8 targets per game. Nelson Agholor is a secondary option in the offense, but he has scored single digit fantasy points in four of his last five games. Zach Ertz is an elite option that needs to be considered in the Eagles receiving group. He’s essentially a receiver labeled as a tight end. On the season, he’s averaging an 8.1 / 88.3 / 0.3 line on 11.1 targets per game. While this is an awful matchup, Jeffery and Ertz do come with some upside because of their expected volume.

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

Running Game Thoughts: Darren Sproles is out again, leaving Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement to split carries. They get a solid matchup against Jacksonville, who is allowing 121.9 rush yards per game this season. They have also allowed six rushing touchdowns. Of the duo, Clement makes more sense, as he has seen a bigger role than Smallwood in previous games. This may be another situation to avoid, though.

Value Meter:
WR2: Alshon Jeffery (high risk)
TE1: Zach Ertz
Flex: Corey Clement
Bench: Carson Wentz (unless you have no other viable option), Nelson Agholor, Wendell Smallwood

Passing Game Thoughts: This is a great matchup for Blake Bortles and the Jaguars, as the Eagles are allowing 270 passing yards per game this season. They have only allowed 10 passing touchdowns, which is a bit of a concern. While this is a great matchup for Bortles, he’s a player to avoid. He was benched last week, and while he will start this game, it has been announced that he’s on a short leash. He comes with too much risk for his upside.

The Jags receivers are one of the most difficult to predict in the NFL. Dede Westbrook, Donte Moncrief, and Keelan Cole are all splitting targets. Westbrook continues to make the most consistent option of the trio, while Moncrief and Cole simply possess upside. The Eagles tend to give up big plays to receivers, and Moncrief makes the best option of the trio this week. This isn’t an elite situation to take advantage of, especially with this game only featuring a 42.5 point total, and Jacksonville featuring an implied total under 20 points.

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

Running Game Thoughts: Leonard Fournette is out again this week meaning, T.J. Yeldon and Carlos Hyde will take over the snaps at running back. Yeldon has looked outstanding when given the start, but Jacksonville traded for Hyde for a reason. These two will likely steal snaps from each other, and Philadelphia is allowing only 85.7 rushing yards per game while allowing only four rushing touchdowns this season. Not a good situation for fantasy production. At this point, Yeldon is a slightly better option, as he’ll be used more in the passing game, but this isn’t a week to utilize the Jaguars backfield.

Value Meter:
Flex: Donte Moncrief (high risk)
Bench: Blake Bortles, T.J. Yeldon, Carlos Hyde

Prediction: Eagles 16, Jaguars 10

Ravens at Panthers - (Bales)
Line: BAL -2.5
Total: 44.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Joe Flacco has quietly been enjoying a solid season, as he’s averaging 295.3 passing yards and 1.6 passing touchdowns on 43.3 pass attempts per game. He gets a decent matchup against the Panthers, who are allowing 260 passing yards per game while allowing only 11 passing touchdowns this season. This game could see more scoring than the projected total of 44 points, meaning Flacco could find the end zone at a higher rate this week.

John Brown has been the top receiving option for the Ravens this season. While he’s only averaging 4.0 receptions, he has turned those into 79.7 yards and 0.6 touchdowns per game. Michael Crabtree is another top option, as he has scored double digit fantasy points in each of his last three games, totaling 17 receptions for 225 yards and one touchdown. Willie Snead is the third receiving option for Baltimore, as he’s seeing 7.1 targets per game this season. Each of these receivers can be considered, but Brown’s air yards make him the best option of the trio.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

Running Game Thoughts: Carolina has found success against the run, only allowing 95.0 rushing yards per game. Furthermore, they have only allowed four rushing touchdowns in 2018. Alex Collins has somewhat taken over the Ravens backfield, but he’s still losing some work to Javorius Allen. Allen can completely be avoided, while Collins comes with some potential value but this is a terrible matchup and attacking the Baltimore passing game is a significantly better option.

Value Meter:
QB2: Joe Flacco (mid-range)
RB2: Alex Collins (low-end)
WR2: John Brown (high risk)
WR3: Michael Crabtree
Flex: Willie Snead

Passing Game Thoughts: Cam Newton continues to make one of the best fantasy options at quarterback. He’s only averaging 237.8 passing yards and 1.8 passing touchdowns but he’s averaging 42.8 yards and 0.5 touchdowns on the ground. Newton does get a terrible matchup against the Ravens, who are allowing only 190 passing yards per game this season. Baltimore has allowed only eight passing touchdowns but Newton doesn’t need to rely solely on his passing to score fantasy points.

Devin Funchess is the only receiver that should be considered for Carolina. He’s expected to be shadowed by Brandon Carr, who has been an above average cornerback season. Funchess has scored double digit fantasy points in four of his last five games, while scoring touchdowns in three of his last four. Greg Olsen is the only other player in the passing attack that should be considered, but he’s still dealing with his foot issue. This game should stay close throughout, but Olsen is a player that should be avoided until he proves that he’s fully healthy.

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

Running Game Thoughts: Christian McCaffrey is a safe option, especially in PPR formats, but he has seen somewhat of a limited workload recently. He has totaled 15 carries over his last two games, but he also owns 13 receptions in those games. Baltimore is only allowing 90.1 rushing yards per game this season, and they have held their opponents to only three rushing touchdowns. McCaffrey is somewhat of a matchup proof player, but Baltimore has performed well against running backs in the passing game. McCaffrey can be used, but expectations should be tempered.

Value Meter:
QB1: Cam Newton
RB1: Christian McCaffrey (low-end)
WR2: Devin Funchess (mid-range)
Bench: Greg Olsen

Prediction: Ravens 24, Panthers 17 ^ Top

Jets @ Bears - (Swanson)
Line: CHI -8.0
Total: 45.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Through the first seven games of the NFL season it appears to be clear that the Jets made the right decision on drafting Sam Darnold with the third pick of the 2018 NFL draft. The former USC star continues to impress with a strong, accurate arm, above average mobility, and the ability to make throws on the run and be a leader of the offense. It is also apparent that it will take the team a while to become relevant in both the AFC East race and for fantasy purposes, as Darnold continues to make mistakes typical of rookie quarterbacks and the Jets have very few skill position players worthy of fantasy consideration.

Darnold ranks 31st at the position with 18.2 fantasy points per game. He’s completed 124 of 221 pass attempts for 1552 yards, with ten touchdowns and ten interceptions. Although he has more passing touchdowns than Alex Smith, Eli Manning, Blake Bortles, and Marcus Mariota, his ten interceptions on the year are the most in the league.

To make matters worse, the Jets have been hit with many injuries at the wide receiver and running back positions. Favorite slot wide receiver Quincy Enunwa suffered a high-ankle sprain that will force him to miss multiple weeks and top receiving running back Bilal Powell sustained a season-ending neck injury.

Darnold faces arguably his most challenging task to date with a road matchup this week against a Bears team that ranks 12th in total defense. Chicago is tied for seventh in sacks with 19 and they lead the league with 11 interceptions. The front seven of the Bears, led by all-pro Khalil Mack, put constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks that often leads to rushed throws over the middle and interceptions.

When given enough protection, opposing quarterbacks have been able to put up points against the Chicago secondary as evident to the fact that the Bears have given up the eighth-most fantasy points to QBs through seven weeks. The blueprint for victory this season against the Bears is to beat them in the air and not on the ground, but the Jets are a run-first team, and Darnold has been sacked 16 times - not exactly the team built to beat the Bears on the road like New England did last week,

From a fantasy perspective, there are no players worthy of a start in the passing game besides Robby Anderson, and he is more of a high-risk, high-reward play. The injury to Powell will give Isaiah Crowell more value in both the running and passing game, but it would be wise to avoid all receiving options on the Jets if possible.

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

Running Game Thoughts: It may surprise some readers to learn that Isaiah Crowell is tied with Mark Ingram, Sony Michel, and Tarik Cohen for average fantasy points scored this season. The former Brown has averaged more fantasy points than fan-favorites Phillip Lindsay, Alex Collins, Austin Ekeler, and Kerryon Johnson, and he has the same number of rushing touchdowns (5) as Saquon Barkley, Kareem Hunt, and David Johnson.

The reason why Crowell has yet to garner much respect by fantasy owners and analysts in the community the fact that he is the epitome of boom-bust, with three games of at least two touchdowns and 200 yards mixed in with four sub-six point duds. Starting Crow has been an exercise in patience and faith, especially over the past two weeks in which he averaged less than three yards a carry.

Although the injury to Powell will no doubt give Crowell more value this year based on volume, expecting a big game this week may be a bad assumption. The possibility of a negative game script fueled by a Chicago blowout could limit the number of rushing attempts for Crowell, and the Bears allow the seventh-fewest points to opposing running backs while not allowing a single rushing touchdown this year.

Value Meter:
QB2: Sam Darnold (Low-End)
RB2: Isaiah Crowell (Low-End)
WR3: Robby Anderson (High-End)
WR4: Jermaine Kearse (Low-End)
TE2: Chris Herndon (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Mitchell Trubisky ranks second in average fantasy points per game behind only leading MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes. The second-year quarterback has been on fire in October with three straight games of over 32 fantasy points, including a 47-point breakout performance against the Bucs in which he threw for a career-high six touchdowns.

It may not be pretty, and he will often follow up a beautiful pass with a questionable, head-scratching decision. But at the end of the game, Trubisky continues to put up fantasy points and should be in lineups this week at home against the Jets.

Blake Bortles, Case Keenum, Andrew Luck, and Kirk Cousins have each posted strong performances in the last for games against a Jets defense that ranks 14th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Three of the four QBs threw for over 300 yards, including a season-high 388 from Bortles in Week 4.

To make things even more attractive for Trubisky and the Bears passing attack, starting cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Trumaine Johnson are banged up and could be out on Sunday, making an already subpar secondary even more susceptible to the big play.

Nickle corner Buster Skrine managed to get in limited practice on Wednesday and could return to action, but even when healthy he has been very poor in the slot. Look for Trubisky to target Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton in the middle against Skrine or rookie backup Parry Nickerson.

The Bears are dealing with significant injuries of their own. No.1 WR Allen Robinson has been limited with a groin injury, and starting guard Eric Kush missed Wednesday’s practice with a neck injury.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

Running Game Thoughts: Jordan Howard reached the end zone for the second time this season last week against the Patriots as part of an otherwise pedestrian 12/39 day. It was the first time in three weeks in which Howard scored double figures in fantasy points, but his volume and snap percentage continue to stay well below what many anticipated this season.

Howard’s backfield mate, Tarik Cohen, continues to be the running back to own in Chicago after a third consecutive week with a touchdown and at least 80 total yards. Cohen’s skill set fits well with what head coach Matt Nagy likes to do on offense, and his value in the passing game has earned him more touches.

The Jets rank near the middle of the pack in fantasy points allowed to running backs and wide receivers, but injuries to their starting cornerbacks will give the Bears a solid opportunity to build a big lead in the passing game. Look for Cohen to be active early in the game with Howard hopefully getting more work in the second half to close out the game. I anticipate a positive game script for Howard created by turnovers and short fields from the Chicago defense.

It has been tough for Howard owners to put their second or third round pick in their lineup only to watch Cohen dominate in fantasy points. If there were ever a week for that script to reverse, it would be this week against a Jet team that just allowed 69 yards and two rushing touchdowns to Latavius Murray and the Vikings.

Value Meter:
QB1: Mitchell Trubisky (Mid-Range)
RB2: Tarik Cohen (Low-End)
RB2: Jordan Howard (Low-End)
WR2: Allen Robinson (Low-End)
WR3: Taylor Gabriel (Low-End)
TE1: Trey Burton (Low-End)

Prediction: Bears 30, Jets 10 ^ Top

Buccaneers @ Bengals - (Swanson)
Line: CIN -3.5
Total: 54.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Jameis Winston has been a fantasy stud since taking over the starting quarterback position from Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 4 against the Bears. Winston has taken advantage of plus-matchups against the Falcons and Browns, throwing for 760 yards and five total touchdowns in his last two games. It isn’t pretty, and Winston often makes terrible decisions with the ball and takes too many sacks. But for fantasy purposes, he ranks fifth in average points scored at the position and should do well again this week against a Bengals defense that allows the fifth-most points to QBs.

Six out of seven opposing quarterbacks have reached at least 20 fantasy points in their respective games against the Bengals, and four of those six quarterbacks have thrown for at least 300 yards. Simply put, there is a reason why Vegas sharps have this game at an over/under of 53.5 points - both teams allow a ton of points and both teams have offenses primed to score.

The Bucs boast a wide receiving corps that ranks first in the league in fantasy points per game (38.7). Mike Evans leads the team with 591 yards and three touchdowns on 40 catches, while veteran speedster DeSean Jackson is close behind with 526 yards and three touchdowns of his own on just 23 receptions. Jackson came out of the gates white hot with Ryan Fitzpatrick slinging the ball deep but has cooled off as of late, with three games of less than 10 fantasy points out of his last four.

Second-year wideout Chris Godwin leads the group with four reaching touchdowns, giving fantasy owners an excellent floor of double-digit fantasy points in four of his six games. In addition to leading the team in receiving touchdowns, Godwin is the favorite red zone target for Winston outside of his tight end tandem of O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate.

All skill position players on the Bucs are strong starts in this matchup, especially Mike Evans going against cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick and William Jackson. Six No.1 wide receivers have either scored a touchdown or posted 125 yards this season against the Bengal secondary, including Tyreek Hill last week on Sunday Night Football.

To make things even more advantageous for the Bucs passing attack, starting linebacker Nick Vigil and Vontaze Burfict are questionable with knee and hip ailments while starting nickel defensive back Darqueze Dennard is doubtful with a shoulder injury.

A matchup to watch in this game is Jackson lined up in the slot against Tony McRae, or whoever fills in for Dennard. Look for the Bucs to test the nickel slot on a couple of deep post and nine routes from the slot, making Jackson an attractive play this week as a boom/bust & DFS start.

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

Running Back Thoughts: Starting running back Peyton Barber is questionable with an ankle injury. He did practice on a limited basis Thursday but his status needs to be monitored by fantasy owners. The Bucs would likely use the tandem of Ronald Jones and Jacquizz Rodgers to carry the load if Barber misses, with the former working as the first and second down ball carrier and the later working in on passing and third downs.

Perhaps this will be the coming out part for Jones apologists who believe in the talent of the former USC Trojan star. Although the second round pick ranks 64th in fantasy points and he is a reason why the Bucs average a league-worst 79 yard for scrimmage per game, the Bengals allow the fifth-most points to opposing running backs and the defense will likely be without two starting linebackers.

James Conner and Christian McCaffrey each rushed for over 100 yards against Cincy, and six players have scored at least ten points, including Kareem Hunt and his massive 32.1 point game last week at Arrowhead. Expecting a similar level of production from Barber or Jones is likely unwise, but one could argue that this is Jones’ best chance to show that Tampa did not make a mistake when they drafted him in April.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jameis Winston (Mid-Range)
RB3: Peyton Barber (Low-End) - Injury Concern
RB3: Ronald Jones (Low-End)
WR1: Mike Evans (Low-End)
WR3: Chris Godwin (High-End)
WR3: DeSean Jackson (High-End)
TE1: O.J. Howard (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: The luster on the Red Rifle is nowhere near as shiny after Andy Dalton came crashing back down to Earth. In his first four games, Dalton was a fantasy darling with 11 passing touchdowns and two games of at least 335 passing yards. Owners who used a late round flyer on Dalton were riding the wave on what appeared to be a late-round steal.

With four games of at least 21 fantasy points already on the board for Dalton and a matchup at home against the Steelers and a road game against the Chiefs on the slate, it appeared as though Dalton was poised to be a fantasy stud over the first half of the season. But instead of capitalizing on choice matchups against two teams who rank in the top four in fantasy points allowed, Dalton reverted to his old self and looked awful on primetime as the Chiefs beat up on the Bengals.

Have no fear Dalton owners, when the Chiefs and the Steelers were purging points to opposing defenses all season long, the Bucs said "hold my beer" and proved to the league that nobody gives up fantasy points like the woeful Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Not only do Bucs allow the most points to opposing quarterbacks, but they also give up the most points to tight ends and the fifth-most to wide receivers.

To add insult to injury, the Bucs lost two key starting defenders last week to injury, including stud middle linebacker Kwan Alexander to an ACL tear. An already terrible defense lost arguably the best coverage player in their secondary and linebacking corps.

To make it simple for fantasy owners, all skill position players on the Bengals are excellent plays this week in what should be a high-scoring game. A.J. Green is a no-brainer, and Tyler Boyd owners frustrated by a lack of production last week will be much happier on Sunday when Boyd runs free in the Tampa Bay secondary.

The Alexander injury makes C.J. Uzomah an even better start. Set the UZI on full automatic and reap the benefits of playing against a decimated defense that has allowed a receiving touchdown to a tight end in each of the last four games.

The Bengals will be without speedy wide receiver John Ross due to a hamstring injury.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

Running Game Thoughts: I have no clever puns to describe the value of Mixon this week against the Bucs, other than the fact that Mixon is fix’in to be a beast at Paul Brown Stadium. With 386 rushing yards, 100 receiving yards, and three total touchdowns on the year, Mixon’s 13.3 fantasy points per game ranks 10th among qualified running backs. Although he has yet to rush for 100 yards, Mixon scored a touchdown in three of his five games played and is averaging a respectable 4.6 yards per carry.

For as bad of a defense as the Bucs have been this year they possess a strong run defense - or at least they did before injuries to Gerald McCoy and Kwon Alexander. Alvin Kamara, James Conner, Jordan Howard, and Tevin Coleman each struggled to run the ball against Tampa Bay, and the Bucs have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher on the year. But with Alexander out and McCoy a stretch to play, the middle of the Tampa defense will not be as strong against the run going forward.

Even if Mixon is unable to produce much on the ground, his value as a receiver out of the backfield mixed with the fact that Tampa has been torched by receiving backs gives Mixon a high floor for fantasy owners this week.

Value Meter:
QB1: Andy Dalton (Low-End)
RB1: Joe Mixon (High-End)
RB4: LeGarrette Blount (Low-End)
WR1: A.J. Green (Elite)
WR2: Tyler Boyd (High-End)
TE1: C.J. Uzomah (Low-End)

Prediction: Bengals 34, Bucs 28 ^ Top

Seahawks @ Lions - (Swanson)
Line: DET -3.0
Total: 49.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Fantasy owners who drafted Russell Wilson as a top-5 quarterback this summer are kicking themselves at the midway point of the season with Wilson currently ranked as the No.22 QB in fantasy points per game. Although Wilson is on pace to tie his career-best of 34 passing touchdowns, he is no longer running anywhere near the clip that made him a valuable asset in years past. Wilson has yet to score a rushing touchdown, and he is on pace to rush for a party 165 yards on 45 carries.

The Seahawks clearly want to protect Wilson from injury by limiting his pass and rushing attempts with a run-heavy offensive approach. Seattle ranks second behind the Rams in rushing attempts per game and ranks dead last in passing attempts at 27.5 throws a week.

The offensive philosophy used by first-year offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer not only has heavily negated the value of Wilson, but it has also torpedoed the value of fellow early round pick Doug Baldwin. A consensus top-36 pick by most experts, Baldwin has yet to score a touchdown or catch more than six passes in a game.

The lone bright spot in the offense and the primary beneficiary of deep passes off play action is Tyler Lockett. The oft-injured, speedy deep threat has five receiving touchdowns in six games and has been one of the most consistent fantasy wideouts over the first seven weeks.

The Lions enter the game allowing the 10th-fewest points to opposing quarterbacks, with only Aaron Rodgers managing to throw for three or more touchdowns and 300 yards against Matt Patricia’s defense. Cornerback Darius Slay continues to do a solid job limiting the No.1 WR on the opposing team, while safeties Quandre Diggs and Glover Quin have not allowed big shots down the field outside of the Green Bay game.

An interesting matchup to watch will be Lockett on deep play-action passes against Slay and Quin. The Seahawks will continue to use their run-first approach against a Lions team that allows the fourth most yards and fantasy points to opposing running backs. Schottenheimer will attempt the lure the safeties closer to the box with a methodical ground attack with the hope of catching the secondary asleep on play action.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

Running Game Thoughts: The paradox of the Seattle offense is the fact that although Pete Carroll and Brian Schottenheimer run the ball the second most of any team in the NFL, no Seahawk running back ranks in the top 30 at the position. Chris Carson leads the team in rushing yards and attempts, with a respectable 352 yards on 78 carries for a 4.5 YPC average. Mike Davis filled in admirably when Carson was banged Week 4 with 101 yards and two touchdowns against the woeful Arizona run defense. And first-round pick Rashaad Penny, who many thought would be the bell cow this season after the Seahawks traded up in the first round to grab the former San Diego State Aztec, has the appearance of being a bust with 135 yards on 38 carries.

Guessing how the carries will be disbursed between the running backs in Seattle is often an exercise in futility, as the happy face, gum chewing Carroll is almost impossible to predict. Just when we think that Carson is going to be a solid fantasy option, Penny is used in the second half against the Raiders to close out the game.

It is a shame that Carson is not more of a sure thing for bell cow carries in what has the makings of an excellent matchup against a Lions defense that allows the fourth-most points to opposing running backs. Five running backs in six weeks reached double-digit fantasy points against the Lions, including Ezekiel Elliott in Week 4 with over 200 total yards and one receiving touchdown for 30 fantasy points.

The Lions made a big step in the right direction to help fix their run defense woes with the trade for defensive lineman Damon “snacks” Harrison from the Giants. According to Athlon Sports, Harrison is the sixth-best DL in run defense, giving the Lions a much-needed anchor in the middle of the defensive line.

Value Meter:
QB2: Russell Wilson (High-End)
RB3: Chris Carson (High-End)
WR2: Tyler Lockett (Low-End)
WR2: Doug Baldwin (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Winners of three of their last four games, the Lions and Matthew Stafford continue to evolve into something that Detroit fans have not seen since the days of Barry Sanders: a run-heavy team that no longer needs Stafford to throw the ball 50 times to win.

For the first time in his career, Stafford threw 30 or fewer passes in his last three games, including a season-low 22 attempts in last week’s 32-21 win on the road against the Dolphins. With Kerryon Johnson providing a viable ground game, Stafford is throwing the ball less and completing a higher percentage of his passes. The former No.1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft topped the 80% completion plateau against both Dallas and Miami this season, an impressive feat for a QB with a career rate of 62%.

Although Stafford and the Lions are playing great real-life football, a QB who throws the ball fewer than 30 times in a game and averages just two passing touchdowns in not exactly a coveted fantasy asset. Through the midway point of the fantasy regular season, Stafford’s 22 points per game average places him as QB19, behind Andy Dalton, and C.J. Beathard. On a positive note, he does provide an excellent floor with no game below 17 fantasy points.

Marvin Jones continues to be one of the biggest disappointment for fantasy owners at the wide receiver position as the WR47 with 19 catches for 270 yards and three touchdowns. The emergence of Kenny Golladay and the decline in passing volume in the offense has relegated Jones to seven total catches for 133 yards and one touchdown in his last three games. If not for a one catch, eight-yard and one touchdown game against Green Bay in Week 5, Jones would have given fantasy owners just over 10 total points since Week 3.

The Seahawks enter Week 8 allowing the third-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. But don’t mistake this team for the Legion of Boom from year’s past, as the Seahawks have played against some of the worst quarterbacks in the league. Any team with a resume filled with matchups against Dak Prescott, Derek Carr, Josh Rosen, and Case Keenum would have artificially inflated stats. Expecting a similar baseline of 250 yards and two touchdowns from Stafford this week is well within the realm of expectations, especially if the Lions succeed in moving the ball on the ground and creating play-action opportunities.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

Running Game Thoughts: The Detroit Lions went over four years and 70 games without a running back rushing for 100 yards in a game before Kerryon Johnson rushed for 101 yards on 16 carries in Week 3 against New England. The rookie second-round pick from Auburn followed up that impressive performance with 158 yards on a season-high 19 carries last week against Miami.

Johnson’s 6.4 yard-per-carry average is second in the league among qualified running backs behind Matt Breida of the 49ers, and his 444 yards over the first six games of the season has the rookie on pace to be the first 1000-yard rusher since Reggie Bush in 2013. Unfortunately for Johnson owners, Matt Patricia and the Detroit coaching cadre continue to view LeGarrette Blount as the goal line and short yardage back, which limit’s Johnson’s overall fantasy value.

Johnson will look to build on his monster game against the Lions this week against Seattle, a team that ranks 18th in fantasy points allowed to running backs. Four running backs posted at least 13 fantasy points against Seattle this season, including Todd Gurley’s 29-point, three-touchdown game in Week 5. But if you take a closer look at who the Seahawks have faced this season, it is pretty impressive that they rank 18th overall against the rush, as Seattle has faced off against Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, and David Johnson - three of the four top consensus picks in fantasy drafts.

Third down and pass catching back Theo Riddick continues to be limited with a knee injury and will likely miss the game against Seattle. If Riddick is out, Johnson would be the beneficiary and will see more passes out of the backfield, further increasing his value, especially in PPR leagues.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matthew Stafford (Low-End)
RB2: Kerryon Johnson (High-End)
RB4: LeGarrette Blount (Low-End)
WR2: Golden Tate (High-End)
WR2: Kenny Golladay (Low-End)
WR3: Marvin Jones (High-End)

Prediction: Lions 20, Seahawks 14 ^ Top

Broncos at Chiefs - (Caron)
Line: KC -10.0
Total: 53.5

Passing Game Thoughts: The Denver passing game continues to be very hit-or-miss and it’s often not very predictable. There have been some excellent on-paper matchups this season that they’ve failed to exploit while other matchups that looked daunting - such as against the Seahawks back in Week 1 - where Keenum and the Denver passing game put up some nice fantasy numbers. This past week the Broncos were simply in too dominating of a game script to need to pass much. Keenum attempted just 21 passes - by far his fewest of the season - as the Broncos crushed the Cardinals by 35 points. This week, however, the game script should work in the favor of Keenum and the other members of this passing attack.

The Broncos will face the Chiefs, who they kept up with at home when these teams met back in Week 4, but who are capable of putting up some monster point totals on the board. This week they head to Kansas City where the Chiefs are a 10-point favorite, which should presumably mean more pass attempts for Keenum than the 33 he threw against the Chiefs in the previous matchup. The Broncos’ trio of wide receivers - Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton were all held out of the end zone and to fewer than 60 yards in the previous matchup, but there’s plenty of hope for more, especially for Sanders who has gone over 100 yards with a touchdown in each of the Broncos’ past two games. Thomas hasn’t been quite so productive, but he also has over 200 total receiving yards over his past three games, including a pair of touchdowns over that stretch as well. Sutton is still a stash-and-watch type of player at the moment who should be on fantasy benches, but he does have touchdown potential in this matchup against a bad Kansas City pass defense.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

Running Game Thoughts: The Broncos’ running game has become a bit more predictable with rookie Royce Freeman expected to miss this week’s game, which should lead to more touches for running backs Phillip Lindsay and Devontae Booker. The trio had been roughly splitting snaps and touches evenly and it’s now looking increasingly likely that Lindsay will assume a larger role with Freeman out, while Booker will also see a few more touches.

While Kansas City has been awful against opposing running backs this season, it’s still important to be careful with these types of situations. The Broncos could very well find themselves down on the scoreboard on the road, which would almost certainly lead to more passing than running. While Lindsay has shown that he’s at least a decent pass catcher, it’s hard to believe that Denver will suddenly start targeting him 10-or-more times in this game, which would be needed to give him a high enough floor to be considered a RB1. Instead, Lindsay goes from being a low-end RB2 to more of a high-end RB2. Booker could be used by fantasy owners who are in an absolutely desperate situation, but his upside is very much limited, so it’s probably best to stay away.

Value Meter:
RB2: Phillip Lindsay
WR2: Emmanuel Sanders
Flex: Demaryius Thomas
Bench: Case Keenum, Devontae Booker, Courtland Sutton, Jeff Heuerman

Passing Game Thoughts: Another monster game from Patrick Mahomes this past week has given him four games already this season with four-or-more touchdowns. That type of production is not just the best in the league this season - it’s historic. There’s no question that he needs to be in fantasy lineups in any matchup right now and the same goes for his top weapons, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, who continue to light up the fantasy scoreboards. The only real question is what to do with Sammy Watkins. Watkins has given fantasy owners a decently high floor in most games but he hasn’t really had a “boom” game either. This week he’ll be up against a Denver defense that held him to his only goose-egg this season, and that was on only one target. We have to assume that he’ll see more work than that in this contest, but he’s probably a touchdown-or-bust option this week and it’s tough to bank on that.

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

Running Game Thoughts: The 2018 season didn’t start off great, at least from a fantasy standpoint, for second-year running back Kareem Hunt. While the passing game was thriving, Hunt was left behind to pick up the scraps which really didn’t translate into much on the box score. These past two weeks, though, Hunt seems to be fully back as a major part of the Kansas City offense. Hunt had caught only five total passes through his first five games, but he has now had back-to-back individual games with five receptions, including three total receiving touchdowns, which has helped him produce huge fantasy numbers both weeks.

This week Hunt faces a Denver defense that is the only group he’s rushed for over 100 yards against so far this season. Hunt went for 121 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground, along with 54 receiving yards, and he should be in line for another big workload in this contest, which makes him a strong play as one of the elite fantasy backs on the board here in Week 8.

Value Meter:
QB1: Patrick Mahomes
RB1: Kareem Hunt
WR1: Tyreek Hill
TE1: Travis Kelce
Flex: Sammy Watkins (low-end)
Bench: Spencer Ware, Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, Demetrius Harris

Prediction: Chiefs 35, Broncos 20 ^ Top

Redskins at Giants - (Katz)
Line: Pick
Total: 42.5

Passing Game Thoughts: The Redskins passing game might as well not exist. They are 4-2 and I can’t figure out how although it’s more of an indictment on their opponents and the dreadful NFC East than anything else. Alex Smith has gone back into his shell. He’s 21st in air yards per attempt and 32nd in true completion percentage. Smith has yet to throw for 300 yards in a game this season and just posted his second consecutive sub-200 yard performance. The Redskins leading receiver was Kapri Bibbs, which speaks volumes to how anemic this passing attack is. Jamison Crowder is looking likely to miss another game while Paul Richardson has been limited in practice with knee and shoulder injuries. Jordan Reed hasn’t exceeded 65 receiving yards in a game and hasn’t scored since Week 1. He just can’t succeed in this offense. The Giants are middle of the pack in pass defense, but Redskins haven’t shown an ability to exploit any matchup, favorable or not. This entire passing game is one to avoid.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

Running Game Thoughts: Do not go chasing Bibbs’ performance from last week. Focus on Adrian Peterson and, hopefully, Chris Thompson. AP averaged a respectable 4.13 yards per carry against Dallas and the Giants aren’t blowing out anyone so game script should allow Peterson to see another 20-25 carries. He is a volume based option that you hope can score. Thompson has practiced on a limited basis for two straight weeks, but hasn’t played. He will once again likely be a game time decision. If he plays, expect him to resume his role as a strong PPR option. The Giants allow a little over 40 receiving yards per game to opposing RBs and Thompson is one of the better receiving backs in the league. Both AP and CT are worthy starts if healthy.

Value Meter:
RB2: Adrian Peterson (low end)
RB2: Chris Thompson (low end, PPR, if he plays)
Bench: Alex Smith, Jamison Crowder, Paul Richardson, Josh Doctson, Jordan Reed

Passing Game Thoughts: Eli Manning apparently threw for 399 yards last week. I say apparently because, watching that game, it looked like nothing was happening. He didn’t throw a touchdown until there were five seconds left in the game. Sterling Shepard and Odell Beckham Jr. dominated with 310 combined receiving yards while Evan Engram returned and was barely targeted. He did look healthy and Manning just missed him on a would be touchdown. The Redskins allow an opposing completion percentage of 66.8% and have allowed 10 passing touchdowns this season. Manning still looks awful and the offensive line is an abomination, but Beckham is going to be just fine.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

Running Game Thoughts: Saquon Barkley was largely contained by the Falcons, touching the ball a total of 23 times for just 94 yards. It was his first game under 100 total yards but he still had a great fantasy day because of his nine receptions and his touchdown. That’s what makes Barkley an every week elite option – even when he’s inefficient, he’s productive. Washington has been one of the better run defenses in the league, allowing just 4.0 yards per carry, but they’ve also faced the fewest rushing attempts on the season at just 132. Regardless, the Giants consistently scheme the ball into Barkley’s hands so the matchup is of no concern for his fantasy owners.

Value Meter:
RB1: Saquon Barkley (elite)
WR1: Odell Beckham Jr. (elite)
WR3: Sterling Shepard
TE1: Evan Engram (low end)
Bench: Eli Manning

Prediction: Giants 23, Redskins 21 ^ Top

Browns @ Steelers - (Swanson)
Line: PIT -8.0
Total: 49.0

Passing Game Thoughts: The Browns and the Steelers face off for the second time after playing to an overtime tie on a rainy and windy Week 1 in Cleveland. Since that game, the Browns won their first game in over a year with a 21-17 victory over the Jets on Thursday Night Football in Week 3 and played in three more overtime games. Former starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor suffered a concussion and was replaced by first overall pick and QB of the future Baker Mayfield, and tailback Carlos Hyde was traded to Jacksonville to allow rookie Nick Chubb to take over in the backfield.

In four games as a starter and one in relief, Mayfield has experienced the usual ups and downs that most rookie quarterbacks experience. The former Oklahoma Sooner has completed 58% of his passes for 1291 yards, with six passing touchdowns and five interceptions. He ranks 27th overall in fantasy points per game, but his average of 19.5 fantasy points places him ahead of Alex Smith, Sam Darnold, Case Keenum, and Marcus Mariota.

The receiving group of Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, and David Njoku has not done a good job helping their rookie QB, as only the Jaguars and Bengals have more drops on the season than the Browns. Njoku leads all tight ends in drops with four, Callaway has three big drops of his own, including a few easy deep touchdown grabs, and the usually sure-handed Landry has two.

Perhaps this will be the week that the Browns passing offense finally gets things going, as the Steelers come out of their bye allowing the fourth-most points to opposing quarterbacks in fantasy points per game. Only Tampa Bay, Atlanta, and the New Orleans Saints allow more points to opposing quarterbacks. But a closer examination of the numbers reveals a team that has done a much better job of late after allowing 11 passing touchdowns and well over 1000 yards to Patrick Mahomes, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Joe Flacco from Week 2 to Week 4.

The Steeler defense under Keith Butler ranks 20th over the past three weeks in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks after holding both Matt Ryan and the potent Atlanta offense to 17 points at home and Andy Dalton to 229 passing yards and two touchdowns in Week 6 against Cincinnati.

A matchup that will be important for fantasy purposes is nickel CB Mike Hilton lined up against Jarvis Landry in the slot. With top Steeler CB Joe Hayden on Callaway outside, Landry will likely see another massive target share in what has the appearance of a positive game script fueled by a Steeler blowout.

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

Running Game Thoughts: After signing Carlos Hyde to a multi-year deal this offseason, the Browns surprised some by using a second-round pick on Georgia running back Nick Chubb. The Chubb pick made it clear that Hyde was not viewed by the new front office of John Dorsey as the long-term solution at tailback, and the mid-week trade of Hyde to the Jacksonville Jaguars last week for a late-round draft pick was not a surprise by many who follow the team.

Chubb has been the far more explosive player in limited action this year, and it made sense for the team to move on from the veteran. Duke Johnson will likely continue to be the passing down and third down option, while Chubb will get a near-workhorse level of action on early downs.

As the No. 28 ranked team in fantasy points allowed to running backs it is reasonably clear that opposing defenses have found more success passing the ball than running it against the stout front of Stephon Tuitt, Cam Hayward, and Javon Hargrave. No opposing back has rushed for more than 75 yards against the Steelers, and only four RBs, including Hyde Week 1, have scored double-digit fantasy points vs. Pittsburgh. Of the two backs in the Cleveland backfield, Johnson may be the one to own this week in what could be a lopsided win for the Steelers.

Value Meter:
QB2: Baker Mayfield (High-End)
RB2: Nick Chubb (Low-End), Duke Johnson (Low-End)
WR2: Jarvis Landry (High-End)
WR3: Antonio Callaway (Low-End)
TE1: David Njoku (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: With all of the drama in Pittsburgh surrounding Le’Veon Bell’s holdout and Antonio Browns’ complaints about not getting enough action, Ben Roethlisberger is quietly on pace to set career-highs in passing touchdowns and fantasy points. His 65% completion percentage is his best since 2015, and he is on pace to throw the ball over 600 times for only the second time in his 15-year NFL career.

Although Brown is still crucial in the offense and the primary target for Big Ben, the emergence of JuJu Smith-Schuster is the reason why Ben is having a great season and why the Steelers are one of the most potent offenses in the league. Smith-Schuster is a big-bodied slot receiver who creates mismatches against nickel and linebacker coverage, while also possessing the ability like Brown, to stretch the field and make big plays in the passing game.

The Steelers wide receiving group ranks 7th in the league with an average of 29.6 fantasy points per game, while Brown and Smith-Schuster rank fourth and 18th overall respectively in fantasy points per game at their position. Brown ranks sixth in total targets 72 (despite playing in only six games because of the bye) and is tied with Davante Adams and Calvin Ridley for second in receiving touchdowns at six.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Cleveland pass defense ranks 18th in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Greg Williams’ defense has played well at times, limiting Drew Brees and Philip Rivers to just two passing touchdowns each, while allowing only one passing touchdown combined to Big Ben, Sam Darnold, Joe Flacco, and James Winston. If you take out the somewhat fluky game against the Raiders in Week 4 when Derek Carr threw four touchdown passes, the Browns defense would be right behind the Jaguars for the fewest touchdown passes allowed through seven weeks.

A stout pass rush outside by Myles Garrett and inside from Larry Ogunjobi and Emmanuel Ogbah is a big reason why the Browns have been successful against the pass. Teams have found it challenging to run deep routes in the face of such pressure and the ability of the front four to get pressure on the quarterback without blitzing allows Williams to mix up his coverage schemes. The absence of starting linebacker Joe Schobert was a big knock against the Browns when they played the Bucs last week. If Schobert is unable to play again this week due to a hamstring injury, look for Big Ben to attack the middle of the field with tight ends Vance McDonald and Jesse James.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

Running Game Thoughts: Another week of media reports claiming a return of Le’Veon Bell proved to be false, as the all-pro running back did not report to the team on Monday and is not going to play this week against the Browns. The loss of Bell has been a catastrophic hit to many fantasy rosters, but the Steeler running game and offense overall has not suffered as much as perhaps Bell’s agent would have hoped.

James Conner ranks fifth in the league in fantasy points per game (18.9) and is second behind only Todd Gurley in rushing touchdowns with seven in six games. Although Conner slipped up with two subpar performances against the Bucs and Ravens, he has double figures in fantasy points in the other four games played, including two 30-plus point monster showings against the Browns Week 1 and the Falcons in Week 5. Cleveland made a point to limit Big Ben in the first meeting between the two teams, opening the door for Connor to take advantage of light boxes and a wet field. His 31 carries for 135 yards, and two touchdowns in that game were all career-highs.

Beating the Browns on the ground as opposed to in the air has been a theme over the first half of the season. Three running backs have rushed for over 130 yards against Cleveland, while both Melvin Gordon and Conner each scored over 30 fantasy points in their respective games. Although the Bucs failed to do much on the ground last week against the Browns, there is no evidence or underlying statistic to suggest that Conner will have trouble running the ball on Sunday. He is a must-start in a game that will likely end in a lopsided fashion for the Steelers.

Value Meter:
QB1: Ben Roethlisberger (Low-End)
RB1: James Conner (High-End)
WR1: Antonio Brown (High-End)
WR2 JuJu Smith-Schuster (Low-End)
TE1: Vance McDonald (Low-End)

Prediction: Steelers 34, Browns 21 ^ Top

Colts at Raiders - (Caron)
Line: IND -3.0
Total: 50.5

Passing Game Thoughts: No player in the NFL has attempted more passes than Andrew Luck’s 311 so far this season. It hasn’t always been particularly efficient or pretty to watch, and his weapons are certainly subpar, but gigantic volume like this almost always leads to fantasy viability and that’s exactly what’s happened with Luck. He’s now thrown 20 touchdowns on the season - just two fewer than Patrick Mahomes - and he’s the No.3 fantasy quarterback. With Jack Doyle returning to practice with the possibility of returning this week, the Colts’ passing situation is a bit more confusing than it has been recently, but it should only help Luck.

This week Luck and the Colts will match up against a Raiders defense that has given up multiple passing TDs in all but one contest so far this season, including four straight contests. The Raiders are seemingly punting for next season already so it makes sense that Indianapolis - who is not a good team itself - is actually a road favorite in this contest. That could mean a positive game script for the Colts, however, which might actually lead to fewer pass attempts than usual and potentially a lower ceiling than we’ve typically seen from Luck, even if his floor might still be decent enough to be a QB1.

Unfortunately, the potential return of Doyle would hurt the upside of fellow tight end Eric Ebron who has been tremendous while Doyle has been out. If Doyle is unable to play, Ebron again slides in as a TE1 against a bad Oakland secondary, but he’s a risky start if Doyle does play. The only other player in this passing game that we should have much interest in is T.Y. Hilton who hasn’t shown us huge upside this season, but he’s given us a quality fantasy day in all but one contest, so he’s still a low-end WR1 or high-end WR2 in this matchup.

OAK FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
OAK FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
OAK FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
OAK FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

Running Game Thoughts: The Return of Marlon Mack (see what I did there?) has been a big boost for what was an ugly running game in Indianapolis. Mack has now gone for 89 and 126 yards in back-to-back contests, proving that he is by far the most productive pure runner on the team. Rookie Nyheim Hines is still a pass catching threat, but he hasn’t proven to be a consistent enough pure runner, which has hurt is playing time and his upside.

Mack would seemingly be a great fantasy option this week against a bad Oakland defense, but he was added to the injury report mid-week and actually didn’t practice on Thursday, which is a major red flag for his availability. If Mack is available, he’s probably a low-end RB1 or a high-end RB2 at worst, but we will need to monitor the situation. If he’s unable to go, Hines would seemingly see the biggest boost in value and could potentially fit in as a Flex or low-end RB2 option in PPR formats. Fellow rookie Jordan Wilkins has been underwhelming even when Mack has missed time this season, so it’s probably wise to avoid him for now even if Mack does not end up playing.

Value Meter:
QB1: Andrew Luck
RB1: Marlon Mack
RB2: Nyheim Hines (PPR only)
WR1: T.Y. Hilton
TE1: Eric Ebron
Bench: Jordan Wilkins, Chester Rogers, Ryan Grant, Jack Doyle

Passing Game Thoughts: The Raiders are coming off of a bye here in Week 8, but they have now seemingly gone into full fire sale mode, trading away wide receiver Amari Cooper. The immediate impact, of course, is that the Raiders passing game likely takes a pretty significant hit in what was already a poor offense to begin with. Cooper had been wildly inconsistent this season and in 2017, but he was still the best pure talent they had at the position. Now with Cooper gone, the Raiders will have to turn to Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant and Seth Roberts.

Bryant hasn’t shown much in Oakland and Roberts has never been more than a mediocre Flex play in PPR formats, but the player who we should be paying attention to is Nelson. Nelson already led the group with 323 receiving yards on the season, but he is now almost assuredly in line for an uptick in targets, which should help give him a higher floor than what we’ve been seeing out of him as of late. The entire passing game is still a major crap shoot and perhaps still the only player worth putting in your fantasy lineup is tight end Jared Cook, who had been red hot to start the season but had checked in with two terrible performances prior to the Raiders’ Week 7 bye.

With Cook rested and ready to assume an even bigger role in the passing game, fantasy owners should look for him to resume his role as a TE1 for fantasy purposes here in Week 8. The Colts defense is giving up nearly 70 receiving yards per game to opposing tight ends and they’ve given up their bigger games to some of the more talented tight ends they’ve faced like Rob Gronkowski, Zach Ertz and rookie Dallas Goedert. While Cook is maybe not quite at that level of talent, he’s still among the more physically skilled receivers at the position and he should be a solid fantasy option in this contest and going forward. The rest of the Oakland passing game should probably be avoided until we see how things shake out.

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

Running Game Thoughts: With Marshawn Lynch now on the IR, the Raiders will presumably turn to the combination of Jalen Richard and veteran Doug Martin to fulfill their running back duties. Certainly Martin would seem to be the most obvious one-for-one replacement for Lynch, but it’s worth noting that while Lynch is typically known as a bruising back, he’s actually been more elusive in Oakland than you probably realize. In fact, given the running lanes he’s been given, Lynch has been dramatically more effective than he probably should have been.

While Martin is more of a straight-ahead runner at this point than Richard is, the truth is that we haven’t seen Martin display much shiftiness in many years. He’s a poor tackle breaker, doesn’t have great vision and really the only thing he could potentially provide is volume in a low-upside offense. There’s a chance that he sneaks in with a touchdown to save his fantasy day, but the real upside play in this backfield is Richard. Richard isn’t an amazing talent, but he’s got more juice left than Martin does and he’s already proven to be a contributor in the passing game, which has given him some fantasy-relevant days even prior to Lynch’s injury. If the Raiders opt to give Richard more touches, the upside if there for him to be an RB2 for fantasy from here on out. If they decide to shove Martin down our throats, the chances are good that neither player is going to be a particularly trustworthy fantasy option either this week or going forward.

This should be a decent matchup against a middle-of-the-road Colts run defense, but we just don’t have a great grasp on what Jon Gruden is going to decide to do with this running game. Until we see the new offense in action without Lynch and Cooper, it’s probably best to steer clear of this situation unless you’re playing Richard is as low-end RB2 or Flex play in PPR formats.

Value Meter:
TE1: Jared Cook
Flex: Jalen Richard (PPR only), Jordy Nelson
Bench: Derek Carr, Doug Martin, Martavis Bryant, Seth Roberts

Prediction: Colts 27, Raiders 20 ^ Top

49ers at Cardinals - (Caron)
Line: SF -1.0
Total: 42.5

Passing Game Thoughts: C.J. Beathard had surprisingly been a solid fantasy option during his first three starts for the 49ers this season, but this past week we finally got a glimpse of what can happen when things don’t go smoothly in this San Francisco offense as Beathard threw for just 170 yards and one touchdown while turning the ball over three times. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon has become a non-factor for fantasy this season and even the field stretching specialist Marquise Goodwin has been very unpredictable with Beathard at the helm. The only real consistent contributor in this passing game has been tight end George Kittle who has elevated himself into the mid-TE1 range and has now given his owners five double-digit fantasy days, which is pretty good for a player who went undrafted in some leagues.

This struggling passing game will now head on the road to Arizona where they’ll face secondary that has been shockingly good against opposing quarterbacks this season, having given up just seven touchdowns in their seven games thus far, while forcing six interceptions. Much of that is due to the lackluster group of quarterbacks they’ve faced, however, and Beathard himself actually had his best fantasy game of the season thus far when these teams met back in Week 5 when he threw for 349 yards and two touchdowns, and ran in a touchdown, even with his two INTs. That was in San Francisco, though, and this is in Arizona, where the Cardinals typically play better. The only player in this passing game who should be trusted for fantasy purposes this week is Kittle. Everyone else is a wait-and-see at this point.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

Running Game Thoughts: Running back Matt Breida will likely be a game-time decision this week and that leaves us with some serious questions heading into the contest. This is an incredible matchup on paper, as the Cardinals have been the league’s worst fantasy run defense through the first seven weeks of the season. In fact, the duo of Alfred Morris and Matt Breida combined for 152 total yards when these teams met back in Week 5, with fullback Kyle Juszczyk adding an additional 75 receiving yards out of the backfield. If Breida is able to play, he’s a strong RB2 in this matchup, but the fact that he didn’t practice on Thursday has to be a strong indication that he’s probably not going to suit up. With that being the case, the 49ers will likely turn to Raheem Mostert to step in and see additional touches.

Mostert has rushed for 146 yards on just 19 carries over the past two weeks and appears to be by far the more physically skilled back between he and Morris at this point, but it all comes down to coaching decisions. Morris still got nine carries this past week, which was two more than Mostert, and while he only rushed for 25 yards on those carries, he’s been involved in the offense much more than Mostert has thus far. Mostert is definitely an upside low-end RB2 if Breida doesn’t play, but Morris just doesn’t possess enough burst at this point to be considered a serious fantasy player unless he’s getting 20-plus touches per game.

Value Meter:
RB2: Raheem Mostert (low-end, if Breida doesn’t play)
TE1: George Kittle
Bench: C.J. Beathard, Alfred Morris, Marquise Goodwin, Pierre Garcon, Trent Taylor, Dante Pettis

Passing Game Thoughts: Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen had been building momentum over his first few starts, but it all came crashing down this past week when he was absolutely humiliated on national television by the Broncos. Rosen turned the ball over five times, making it back-to-back games where he’s failed to reach even double-digit fantasy points, and he hasn’t exceeded 13 points in any start so far this season. Oddly enough, Larry Fitzgerald had his first fantasy-relevant game since Week 1 in the blowout against Denver as he was able to pull in four passes for 40 yards and a touchdown, but he has still been a huge fantasy disappointment this season and it’s tough to believe that he’s suddenly going to turn things around.

Right now, there really isn’t much to like, let alone something to love in this Arizona passing game, which is certainly among the worst in all of football. Fantasy owners keep waiting for Ricky Seals-Jones to happen but it just doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere given that he hasn’t caught more than five passes in any game this season, he’s only scored one touchdown, and he’s been held to fewer than 40 yards receiving in all but two games this season. Seals-Jones was also, perhaps most importantly, shut out when these teams played back in Week 5, and he just isn’t a good fantasy option right now. Rookie Christian Kirk is the only player who has any serious fantasy appeal, as he’s gone over 50 yards in three straight contests and four of his past five, but his upside is still very low, making him a low-level PPR flex play at best.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

Running Game Thoughts: At this point, it’s tough not to think of David Johnson as a fantasy bust. While he’s totaled enough fantasy points to still be a low-end RB1 on the season, Johnson’s points have come in very fluky ways, such as short yardage touchdowns at a pace well above the league average despite him being on one of the league’s worst offenses. Johnson does have a nose for the end zone, but that type of production is just unsustainable and we saw what can happen when he doesn’t get into the end zone this past week when he ran the ball 14 times for just 39 yards. Perhaps Johnson lost something physically during his missed 2017 season, but it just seems like the lack of a serious passing game threat, poor offensive line play and horrendous coaching has led him to play well below the level we’d expect from him.

There is hope that things can still turn around, however, as the Cardinals have begun to make some changes. The team fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy this week, who has been running one of the most vanilla playbooks we’ve seen in many years, and he’ll be replaced by former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich. A change at offensive coordinator certainly doesn’t guarantee a dramatic shift for the better, but the point is that it’s hard for things to get much worse for Johnson from a usage standpoint. If Leftwich even does something as simple as just getting Johnson more involved in the passing game, he should have a decent fantasy day this week against a San Francisco defense that is conceding over 130 total yards per game to opposing running games so far this season. Johnson himself rushed for a pair of touchdowns against this very defense back in Week 5, so there’s hope for another solid fantasy day in what figures to be one of the better matchups he’ll face all season which could actually see the Cardinals have a positive game script for once.

Value Meter:
RB1: David Johnson (low-end)
Flex: Christian Kirk (low-end, PPR only)
Bench: Josh Rosen, Larry Fitzgerald, Ricky Seals-Jones

Prediction: Cardinals 23, 49ers 20 ^ Top

Packers at Rams - (Caron)
Line: LAR -9.5
Total: 56.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Fantasy owners will have their eyes peeled on Sunday afternoon as the Packers head to Los Angeles to face the Rams in what could be the highest-scoring game of the week. Aaron Rodgers has now thrown for 425-plus yards in back-to-back games, both of which saw him handicapped with injuries at the wide receiver position, but he has still managed to throw a total of 12 touchdowns on the season while doing his typical incredible work of avoiding mistakes with only one interception. Head coach Mike McCarthy has said publicly that he expects to have both Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison back this week, which would certainly be a blow to rookie Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who has produced back-to-back productive fantasy days with those two out. Tight end Jimmy Graham also earned his first 100-yard performance as a Packer this past week, but could end up seeing fewer targets with the other members of the passing game getting back onto the field.

The Packers will have their work cut out for them, however, as they face a Los Angeles Rams defense that has made quite a few quarterbacks look bad so far this season. The Rams are giving up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks on the year and while Rodgers certainly is not the typical quarterback, this is a more difficult matchup than he has been facing recently against the 49ers and Lions. With that being said, it’s almost a guarantee that the Packers will have to throw the ball to keep up on the scoreboard in this game, so a third straight 400-yard passing day is not out of the question. That type of volume would mean multiple fantasy-relevant pass catching weapons, so feel confident in Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham as usual, but also pay close attention to the injury reports on Sunday morning. If we find out that both Allison and Cobb are playing, then it’s probably wise to avoid them and the other pass catching options due to unpredictability. But if only one plays, that player should have some viability as a Flex option.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

Running Game Thoughts: It’s obvious that Aaron Jones is by far the most productive and talented pure runner in this backfield, but the Mike McCarthy offense obviously prioritizes pass catching and pass protecting, so Jones continues to flounder from a fantasy standpoint, as do Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams.

Thankfully, we really don’t have to be tempted by any of them from a fantasy standpoint this week as they’ll be against a Rams defense that has given up the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season and hasn’t given up a touchdown to the position since Week 4. It’s a bit intriguing that a lesser-talented back like Chris Carson was able to crack 100 yards against this defense, but it’s also worth considering that only one other back this season - Melvin Gordon - has even reached 70 yards on the ground against them. This is a backfield to avoid in almost any game at this point, but especially one where the Packers are likely to need to throw the ball at a higher rate than usual.

Value Meter:
QB1: Aaron Rodgers
WR1: Davante Adams
TE1: Jimmy Graham
Bench: Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, Ty Montgomery, Randall Cobb, Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Passing Game Thoughts: It’s not often that a road team wins a game by nearly 30 points in today’s NFL, but that’s what happened this past week when the Rams manhandled the 49ers in San Francisco, and that’s also why Jared Goff didn’t have a much bigger fantasy day. Goff was still decent, throwing for 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns while avoiding any interceptions, but the team just didn’t need him to do much given that they scored the first 22 points of the game. The 49ers were simply not equipped enough offensively to muster much of a fight against this high-powered Rams offense.

The Packers, on the other hand, have perhaps the greatest quarterback of all-time on their roster and he’s throwing the ball like crazy at the moment. Green Bay’s offense can struggle at times, but they’re very rarely blown out, and that’s a great thing for Goff and the Rams passing game. What’s even better is that they’re facing a Packers defense that has already given up multiple-touchdown games to four quarterbacks in their six contests. The only ones who didn’t throw for multiple touchdowns against them were Mitchell Trubisky (who did rush for a touchdown) and Josh Allen (who is awful). While they’ve been able to hold three of their six opponents to fewer than 200 yards passing, they’ve also faced some of the lowest-ceiling quarterbacks in the league thus far, and the Rams certainly pose a much bigger threat than teams like the 49ers or Bills do.

The Rams will likely again be without slot wide receiver Cooper Kupp, which should mean added targets for wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, who have both been excellent this season and have to be considered low-end WR1s against a weak Green Bay secondary in what could be a high-scoring game. The Rams target distribution is so consolidated to their top receivers and running backs that almost no one else has a chance of producing anything significant. The only exception might be wide receiver Josh Reynolds. Reynolds hasn’t done much with the snaps he’s been given, but he actually narrowly led all Rams receivers in snaps with Kupp out and should be in line to play upwards of 80 percent of the snaps again this week. Reynolds only caught one pass for 19 yards this past week, but it’s worth noting that he was dragged down at the one yard line or he would have scored a touchdown on that catch. He’s still a deep flier type of player, but he does have some potential to do something if you’re looking for a very cheap play in daily formats.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

Running Game Thoughts: We’re seven games into the season and Todd Gurley has already scored 14 touchdowns. He’s on pace for 32 touchdowns on the season, which would be an all-time NFL record for a running back. There’s little question that Gurley is the most reliable superstar fantasy player in the entire league right now and he’s been completely matchup-proof this season, so there’s no reason to think that he won’t just continue to rack up the fantasy points.

The Packers have been roughly middle-of-the-pack against opposing running games this season, and they’ve only given up one 100-yard rusher, but Gurley is just too involved in an elite offense to be concerned as anything other than the RB1 overall for fantasy this week. If the Rams move the ball as a whole, as we expect them to, it doesn’t matter if Gurley gets to 100 rushing yards, because he’s going to put up a decent rushing day along with catching between three to six passes and he’ll have a great chance to score touchdowns. You really can’t ask for much more than what Gurley gives you. He’s an elite option every week, especially in games where the opposing team is likely to fight back so he won’t end up conceding significant touches to Malcolm Brown.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jared Goff
RB1: Todd Gurley
WR1: Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks
Bench: Malcolm Brown, Josh Reynolds, Tyler Higbee

Prediction: Rams 34, Packers 27 ^ Top

Saints @ Vikings - (Swanson)
Line: Pick
Total: 52.0

Passing Game Thoughts: In what could be the most exciting game of the week, the No.6 ranked New Orleans Saints offense returns to Minnesota to take on the No.11 ranked Vikings defense in a rematch of the divisional playoff game from last season.

Drew Brees continues to play at an elite level as the only starting quarterback who has yet to throw an interception. He is on pace to shatter his own NFL single-season record for completion percentage (77.3), and his 26.4 fantasy point per game average ranks ninth at the position. Brees threw for 294 and three scores against the Vikings last season in the playoffs, completing 62.5% of his passes. Although historically he has not fared as well in road games vs. games at home, Brees does play better in the dome than on grass, and he has thrown for over 300 yards in three of his eight games against Mike Zimmer’s defenses.

The most significant difference in this game compared to last year is the improvement of the Vikings passing attack mixed with a decline of the Saints defense, which could lead to a higher scoring game and force Brees and the Saints offense to throw the ball more.

The Vikings completed the 2017 regular season allowing the fewest points to opposing quarterbacks. Zimmer's team was an absolute wasteland for opposing QBs, with only three QBs throwing more than one touchdown against the Vikings and only 12 passing touchdowns total allowed on the year. Flash forward to 2018, the stout defense that frustrated many opposing QBs and offensive coordinators enters Week 8 allowing the 9th-most points to the quarterback position and 11 passing touchdowns. Jared Goff and Carson Wentz proved that the Vikings, while still good, can be beaten in the passing game, and Brees will likely need to do the same for the Saints to leave victorious.

Outside of the five-touchdown game by Jared Goff, very few No.1 wide receivers have found much success against the Vikings, primarily due to the excellent play of pro bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Other than a Davante Adams touchdown Week 2, Rhodes has been solid outside against receivers and would be a problematic matchup if he were healthy and able to play on Sunday. Rhodes sustained a foot injury last week against the Jets and has yet to practice this week, making him a big question mark for Sunday Night Football.

Michael Thomas torched Rhodes in the playoff game last year to the tune of seven catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns. With Rhodes our or limited, Thomas could be a monster play.

A tight end has either scored or reached 100 yards in two of the last three games against the Vikings, a team that typically is quite tough against opposing TE’s. Owners in need of a tight end may want to consider Ben Watson, the No.15 ranked tight end over the past two weeks, with 10 catches for 73 yards and score in his last two games.

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Running Game Thoughts: After starting white hot this fantasy season with 20 or more fantasy points in three of his first four games, including two-30 point performances, Alvin Kamara has been a disappointment in the last two weeks against the Redskins and Ravens. In his previous two games since Mark Ingram’s return from a four-game suspension, Kamara has just 23 carries for 88 yards and one touchdown. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that he has only five catches on six targets during that span for 26 yards.

Mark Ingram has also been unimpressive recently with 28 carries for 85 yards. Although Ingram did post two rushing touchdowns against the Redskins, his 3.0 YPC average is nothing to write home about.

Both players are must-starts each week; however, owners should temper their expectations against a Vikings defense that has allowed only one rushing touchdown on the year and zero 100-yard rushing games. As relatively bad as they have been against the pass, the Vikings continue to be one of the more stout run defenses in the NFL.

The Vikings received positive news with the announcement that defensive end Everson Griffin will return to the team after missing the first half of the season due to mental issues. Griffin will not likely suit up in this game, but his return will no doubt strengthen the Viking front seven going forward. On a negative note, starting linebacker Anthony Barr and starting strong safety Andrew Sendejo missed practice on Wednesday with hamstring and going injuries. Their absence in run support would boost the outlook for both Kamara and Ingram.

Value Meter:
QB1: Drew Brees (Low-End)
RB1: Alvin Kamara (Elite)
WR2: Mark Ingram (High-End)
WR1: Michael Thomas (Low-End)
WR3: Tre’Quan Smith (Low-End)
TE2: Ben Watson (Low-End

Passing Game Thoughts: The Minnesota Vikings made a significant investment this offseason by signing Kirk Cousins to a lucrative three-year, $84 million fully guaranteed contract. As a team that was one fluke play away from playing against the Eagles in the NFC championship, Minnesota took a financial risk with Cousins.

With Cousins on pace to set career marks in completion percentage, passing yards, passing touchdowns, and most importantly in this context, fantasy points, the gamble made by the Vikings has gone smashingly.

For fantasy purposes, Cousins has yet to score less than 19 points in a game while delivering over 35 points against the Packers and the Rams. In big games against NFC powerhouses Cousins has come up big, and could once again be a strong start this week against the Saints.

Death, Taxes, the Sun coming up, and Adam Thielen posting at least 100 receiving yards are the only certainties in life, or as at least that’s what fantasy owners have come to know so far in 2018. I do not need to tell you to start Thielen, just like I don’t need to tell you to start Todd Gurley or Patrick Mahomes. With Marshon Lattimore likely shadowing Stefon Diggs on the outside and leaving Thielen to work his magic against Ken Crawley or Justin Hardee another 100 yards is well within reach, and it would not be a shock to have Thielen score a TD or two.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

Running Game Thoughts: Dalvin Cook is set to miss another game with a hamstring injury, with media reports suggesting that the second-year running back will likely be out until after the team’s bye Week 10. Not exactly the type of news Cook owners were hoping for from their early-round investment. Lingering hamstring injuries to both Cook and Leonard Fourentte have all but killed those poor souls who invested in the two breakout rookies from last season.

After a slow start to the season as the primary back with Cook’s absence, Latavius Murray has been nothing short of amazing over the last three games. The veteran tailback ranks eighth in fantasy points scored during that time, with 266 rushing yards and three touchdowns for 15.9 fantasy points per game. With Cook almost a certainty to miss, be sure to keep plugging Murray in your lineup over the next few weeks.

One of the reasons why Murray has found so much success is the easy slate of games over the last two weeks against the Cardinals and Jets, two teams who rank in the bottom half of the league in run defense. Arizona allows the most points to opposing running backs, and Murray did not miss out on his opportunity to pick on a terrible team.

The Saints are on the other end of the spectrum as the No.30 ranked defense against fantasy running backs. Although one could argue that one of the reasons why New Orleans is solid against the run is a result of the team struggling against the pass, the truth is the Saints are good against the run, allowing a paltry 2.75 yards per rush and only three rushing touchdowns on the season.

Due to the fact that this could be a high scoring game and Murray is going to get some excellent volume, owners should still consider him a low-end No.1 RB this week. Just don’t be surprised if his points come more from touchdowns than yards.

Value Meter:
QB1: Kirk Cousins (Mid-Range)
RB1: Latavius Murray (Low-End)
WR1: Adam Thielen (Elite)
WR2: Stefon Diggs (High-End)]
TE1: Kyle Rudolph (Low-End)

Prediction: Vikings 31, Saints 28 ^ Top

Patriots at Bills - (Katz)
Line: NE -14.0
Total: 44.0

Passing Game Thoughts: This is a surprisingly tough spot for the Patriots passing attack and it has nothing to do with the quality of the Bills defense. The team will probably score four touchdowns but Tom Brady may not have to throw much. You have to hope that on limited attempts, Brady is throwing a couple TDs. Julian Edelman remains Brady’s top target, especially with Rob Gronkowski banged up, but Josh Gordon is coming on strong. He played a season high 81% of the snaps last week and his role continues to grow. The splash is coming. As for Gronk, he is no lock to play this week and it is especially problematic because not only is this game Monday night, but the Patriots know they don’t need Gronk to beat the Bills. I would not bank on Gronk playing unless we have confirmation by Sunday morning. The Bills are only allowing 210 passing yards per game, but have allowed 13 passing touchdowns which makes sense given their -94 scoring differential, rendering it unnecessary for opponents to throw much in the second half. If you’re starting any Patriots, you are assuming the risk that they only play three quarters.

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Running Game Thoughts: Sony Michel was emerging into a legitimate weekly RB1 given his touchdown upside in this offense but unfortunately suffered a knee injury last week leaving the Patriots thin at the position. James White will see increased usage for sure, but he can’t do it all. Currently, Kenjon Barner is the only other viable option so we have to think he will assume the majority of the early down work and goal line carries. With bye weeks in full swing and so many fantasy owners starved for RB, you can do worse than gambling on a few yards and a touchdown from Barner. If and when this game gets out of hand, it will be Barner churning the clock.

Value Meter:
QB1: Tom Brady (mid-range)
RB2: James White (high end)
WR3: Julian Edelman
WR3: Josh Gordon
Flex: Kenjon Barner
Bench: Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett

Passing Game Thoughts: Derek Anderson was dreadful last week, yet was still a huge upgrade on Josh Allen and Nate Peterman. Continue to stream defenses against the Bills. Kelvin Benjamin can’t get open and I’m not entirely sure he even cares enough to try. Neither he nor Zay Jones has any fantasy value, along with this entire passing game. The Patriots defensive stats simply do not matter because every defense is elite when it faces the Bills.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

Running Game Thoughts: LeSean McCoy was concussed last week. He practiced on a limited basis Thursday and certainly has a chance to play this week. The good news is he does have the extra day to clear the protocol. The bad news is you need to know by Sunday. You don’t want to start McCoy even if you have him, but sometimes fantasy owners are backed into a corner and McCoy may be your only option. In that case, he is simply not productive enough on this team to be worth gambling on unless you at least have Chris Ivory or Kenjon Barner as insurance. This game will feature a ton of negative game script and the Patriots do allow 60.7 receiving yards per game to opposing RBs, but the Bills won’t be able to achieve enough first downs to exploit this weakness. I think McCoy ends up playing, but you should sit all Bills.

Value Meter:
Bench: LeSean McCoy, Chris Ivory, Kelvin Benjamin, Charles Clay

Prediction: Patriots 38, Bills 6 ^ Top