Fantasy Football Week 8: Award Roundup for Busts and MVPs
If you had heavy shares of the 101-point shootout in New Orleans between the Saints and New York Giants on Sunday afternoon, you were likely successful in fantasy football. If you had a star running back in play Sunday, odds are he might have been injured. Any given Sunday, indeed.
Each week is defined by peerless performances, such as the big box scores from the Saints' Drew Brees and Giants' Eli Manning, as well as some deflating disappointments, like the myriad injuries to top stars this week, all of which we seek to capture in this series. Please join us in discussing the biggest performances and busts from Week 8.
As always, feel free to share your picks for fantasy MVP and bust at each position.
Fantasy QB MVP: Drew Brees Produces an Historic Outing
We learned from the Fox broadcast that Saints quarterback Drew Brees tied an NFL record by becoming the eighth player to throw seven touchdown passes in a single game, while Brees and the Giants' Eli Manning combined for a single-game record 13 passing scores. The game itself went for 101 points as if it were some Big 12 shootout, tied for the third-most combined points in league history.
Brees tops the fantasy leaderboard with 46 points in ESPN leagues to earn MVP honors at the position, the most fantasy points scored by any player in a game this season. With a relatively light remaining schedule and ideal late fantasy playoff opponents like the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars in the Superdome for Weeks 15 and 16, respectively, Brees' slow start to the fantasy campaign could give way to a great late run.
As for the Giants' Eli Manning, his 38 fantasy tally is the second-most points on record this season, suggesting that in any other week he'd have earned the fantasy crown. A soft setup in Tampa Bay awaits Manning and his revived offense next week.
The New England Patriots' Tom Brady continues to pace the position in fantasy points, as he's averaged 26.1 points, a full six more per game than the San Diego Chargers' Philip Rivers.
Meanwhile, the Oakland Raiders' Derek Carr continues to ascend in his second professional season, offering the team's loyal fans real hope in having a franchise arm to bank on going forward. The fact Carr sliced up a game New York Jets secondary is truly impressive.
The week was so rich at quarterback that four touchdowns and nearly 400 yards from Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer get lost in the mix. What shouldn't be lost is that Palmer joins Rivers, Brady and the Cincinnati Bengals' Andy Dalton as the only quarterbacks averaging as many as 20 fantasy points per game at the position this season.
For anyone who played Alex Vick...we mean Alex Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs...it must have been fun watching him run all over the Detroit Lions in London Sunday morning.
The Packers' Aaron Rodgers Goes Scoreless in Denver
ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted a telling stat from Sunday night's game in Denver: "Broncos' D pressured Aaron Rodgers on 63 percent of his dropbacks, the highest rate he has been pressured in a game in past seven seasons." Given such persistent pressure, Rodgers was held scoreless in the outing, felling any fantasy hopes for his investors on the way to the Bust of the Week at quarterback.
The Lions' Matthew Stafford struggled in London versus the Kansas City Chiefs' steady pass rush. Even with a new offensive agenda and staff in place, the Lions simply looked lost.
Both the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger and the Bengals' Andy Dalton were primed for big fantasy days heading into a division battle, but a grind of a game left both in bust territory with single-digit fantasy outings.
We would include the San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick in this section, which we suppose we are by mentioning him here, but we can essentially expect him to bust nearly every week given the suspect offensive scheme in place.
Top Tailback in Fantasy Football for Week 8: Gurley Goes Wild
The St. Louis Rams' Todd Gurley is almost assuredly the top fantasy pick for 2016 drafts. Not only is he the lone back to tally as many as 20 fantasy points this week, but he's now delivered four straight stellar games, already cementing his status as the most valuable running back this season. As you might guess, he's our MVP at the position this week.
The Denver Broncos' much-maligned backfield went off on the Green Bay Packers, as both Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson turned in top-five fantasy outings at the position in a rousing revival of the team's rushing attack. Reading this running game could prove tricky going forward, but it's far easier if they are both productive.
The Chiefs' Charcandrick West rolled on the Lions in London Sunday morning, and he now has 35 fantasy points over his past two games. In a running back market defined by injury and underwhelming production over the past several weeks, West's emergence comes at an ideal time.
If you can predict when the Giants' Shane Vereen will go off, please let us know. No, really, let us know. While it's nearly impossible to predict when Vereen will see heavy usage, it was nice to see him post another strong receiving performance.
While this past Thursday wasn't so long ago, recency bias slanted toward Sunday's slate might see us forget the stellar game the Patriots' Dion Lewis enjoyed over the Miami Dolphins that night. It's clear that when he's healthy and available, the Pats will use Lewis heavily in the passing phase. The buy-low window on the diminutive dynamo has passed.
Chris Ivory Can't Find the Hole in the Black Hole
The New York Jets' Chris Ivory couldn't find any lanes in Oakland Sunday afternoon, as he was held to just 17 yards in 15 rushes. Ivory now has 58 yards rushing in his past two games after combining for 312 in his previous two before that. For failing to capitalize on yet another matchup, Ivory is the top bust at the position this week.
The fantasy leaderboard at the position was fairly light this week, as only one player reached 20 fantasy points. We don't count injury as a reason to deem a player a bust, as the brutal nature of the game naturally sees players get hurt. It was a week of carnage at the tailback position, particularly for the Steelers' Le'Veon Bell who "badly tore" his MCL, per Adam Schefter of ESPN (via SportsCenter). If he's not already rostered, Bell's backup, DeAngelo Williams, will demand top waiver priority and huge FAAB (free agent auction budget) bids this week.
The Chicago Bears' Matt Forte left with a knee injury himself Sunday, per SportsCenter, while we'll learn more as tests and results emerge early this week. It was simply a brutal day in a brutally physical game. We'll see more and more wideouts dominate the early rounds in fantasy drafts next summer.
As for pure busts at the position, the San Diego Chargers' Danny Woodhead turned in his first true no-show of the season, as the team's spread-it-around scheme failed to include him very often. We're chalking this up to game script, as Woodhead is still on pace for a stellar total yards campaign and remains the team's receiving back of choice. Buy low while you can.
Odell Beckham Produces Giant Game in New Orleans
It had all of the ingredients you would want in a breakout game—the narrative angle of visiting his hometown near where he balled in college and the matchup factors in facing an exploitable Saints secondary—as the Giants' Odell Beckham earns fantasy football MVP honors for the position this week.
Beckham's monster 31-point day earns him a gold star, while the San Diego Chargers' Malcom Floyd continues to challenge spell checks and deep safeties. This veteran deep threat busted loose twice on a weak Ravens secondary, but we're not buying this as an enduring hot streak. Feel free to fade Floyd going forward.
The Rams' Tavon Austin is finally living up to his high draft price with some scintillating playmaking, as he's arguably the only player on the team worth owning past superstar rookie running back Todd Gurley.
The Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones and the Bengals' A.J. Green proved they can produce big box scores even when their respective offenses are engaged in low-scoring battles. If you have shares of these big weapons, both enjoy soft slates in the coming weeks.
Can we just celebrate Stefon Diggs for a bit? The Minnesota Vikings' rare rookie continues to produce as the team's top wideout, despite being activated in Week 4 after being a fifth-round pick. There might not be a rookie to hit the scene like Beckham did last season, but let's be mindful that Diggs is on pace for 100 receptions, 1,676 yards and eight scores if we extrapolate his four games into a full season.
Which NFL wideout was a stud for you this week?
The Bucs' Mike Evans Busted in Week 8
With multiple passing peers out of action and the idea that he'd feast on a volume of targets, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Mike Evans once again left fantasy investors looking for more on his way to earning biggest bust at the position in Week 8.
Similarly, the Raiders' Amari Cooper couldn't get untracked in facing the Jets secondary, despite seeing both Andre Holmes and Michael Crabtree top him on the fantasy leaderboard this week. We're not fading Cooper too much for a poor day versus a top cover corner, but a brutal playoff schedule with talented cornerback foes might compel investors to sell while this rookie's stock remains high.
The Packers' Randall Cobb arguably merits the bust award this week—and for the season so far at the position, as he's 32nd at the position in fantasy points per game, largely buoyed by one big three-score day earlier in the campaign. We still suggest getting shares of Cobb, especially while his price is at a season low after another suspect showing.
As for injuries to hit the position, we bid a fond fantasy farewell to the Ravens' Steve Smith, who suffered an Achilles injury in Sunday's action versus the San Diego Chargers, per ESPN's John Clayton. It's unlikely we'll ever see No. 89 on the field again, but we certainly can't wait for his speech in Canton.
Benjamin Watson Wins Top Honors Among Tight Ends in Week 8
Someone had to earn a top skill player award in playing with Drew Brees this week, and that just happens to be his top tight end, Ben Watson, who turned in yet another stellar day and has now been the positional MVP twice this season.
The Falcons' Jacob Tamme is quickly emulating Giants tailback Shane Vereen in the unpredictable nature of their respective offensive usage. We can't tell when either player will be a heavy target in his respective offense, but both make for quality dart throws in daily fantasy going forward. However, it's difficult to envision starting Tamme as a weekly fantasy option in redraft competition.
The Cleveland Browns' Gary Barnidge is the real deal, and he is one of the rare must-start assets at this otherwise shallow and fickle fantasy position.
The Chicago Bears' Martellus Bennett Busts in Week 8
The Chicago Bears' Martellus Bennett has scored five or fewer fantasy points in four out of his past five outings, as this most recent low-scoring performance nets him the distinction as the biggest bust among tight ends in fantasy football this week. There's not much Bennett's investors can do beside hold, while an unfortunate injury to teammate Matt Forte could incite more attention for him in the passing game going forward.
The Dolphins' Jordan Cameron continues to disappoint, and might just be worthy of hitting the waiver wire in most formats. The Dolphins have historically leaned on their "go" tight end, aka their receiving tight end, quite often under the Bill Lazor offensive regime. Maybe give Cameron a few more shots, but we'd be fine with streaming for matchups as well.
The Houston Texans Wrangle Top Defensive Honors in Week 8
The Broncos' dismantling of the Packers offense was impressive Sunday night, but we're lauding the Houston Texans' top fantasy outing over the Tennessee Titans as the MVP performance at this often fickle fantasy position.
The Chiefs defense found its pass rush again; that or Matthew Stafford of the Lions walked into it quite often in London. Either way, the Chiefs have a strong-finishing fantasy playoff schedule to consider.
As for the busts among D/ST units, the Jets turned in a minus-six-point fantasy outing in Oakland Sunday afternoon. Owners of the Jets defense would have been better leaving the spot empty, which is never a good sign.