Fantasy Football Stock Watch: NFL Week 8
Howard Bender takes a look at the rising and falling value of a number of NFL players you'll want to keep tabs on heading into Week 8 of the fantasy football season.
We’ve got Week 7 officially in the books and we’re now past the mid-point of the fantasy football regular season. Your waiver wire probably looks pretty barren and your trade deadline is starting to creep up on you. If you’re at the top of your standings, make sure you are fortifying your team. Handcuff your top guys and start looking ahead to potential future moves.
If you’re fighting for a playoff spot, I recommended stealing top teams’ handcuffs where you can. No clue why the Todd Gurley owners are ignoring Malcom Brown , but they’re going to come begging for help when they realize the Rams are running away with the NFC and Sean McVay is going to start resting his top guys during the fantasy playoffs. You need every edge you can scrape together to make a final push and grab that final playoff spot.
If you’re at the bottom, show some pride and play spoiler. Never say die. Whether you think you can make the playoffs or not, giving up is not an option. The only thing that’s going to make you feel better about a losing season is dragging someone else down with you.
With that, let’s take a look at whose fantasy value is rising and falling and see who can provide some mid-season help.
Mitchell Trubisky , QB CHI – If you thought the six-touchdown game right before the bye week was impressive, how about the momentum Trubisky has carried over since? He’s averaged 324.5 passing yards per game over his last two and has added five more touchdowns to his already impressive season-long stat total. Yes, he’s also thrown three interceptions, but that’s to be expected from a young quarterback. The focal point here is head coach Matt Nagy’s trust in his quarterback as he doesn’t hesitate to keep the ball in the kid’s hands with the game on the line. You’ll still see some ups and downs like any other young quarterback, but with 300-yard, multi-TD upside, he’s going to be worth the roster spot.
Marlon Mack , RB IND – If there was any question as to whether or not the Colts would continue to let Mack lead this backfield following his Week 6, 12-carry, 89-yard performance, you got your answer this week. Now we can pump the brakes on labeling him a 100-yard threat each week as this week’s massive effort was against Buffalo, but the touches and snaps cannot be ignored. He grabbed 56-percent of the snaps and had 19 carries, both of which were far superior to that of Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins . If for some reason he is available, he should be scooped up in every format and can be counted on for another strong game next week against the hapless Raiders. Just keep in mind that his bye week follows so make sure you continue to stockpile running backs.
Nick Chubb , RB CLE – Where are all those Duke Johnson truthers now? Listen up, folks. The Browns took Baker Mayfield No. 1 overall because they believed he was a game-changer for their franchise and taking a QB in the draft was their priority. They signed Carlos Hyde to a three-year deal because they didn’t expect any of the top running back options to fall to them in the second round, but when they saw Chubb available, they jumped at the chance. If they’ve turned over the reins to Mayfield, why wouldn’t they do the same for Chubb? Because Duke’s been there longer? He’s a better pass-catcher? Is he? This guy has never lived up to expectations, but let’s let him start over our prized second-round draft pick who could have easily gone in the mid-to-late first round? Come on, people. You’re creating narratives because you own Duke, not because you believe in his talent. Chubb may have needed some time to get himself going in this game, but 80 yards and a score (was almost two scores, actually) is nothing to thumb your nose at. He’s going to be a strong RB option for you moving forward and you should appreciate that you’ll have him the rest of the way.
Doug Martin , RB OAK – He’s trending upwards with the news that Marshawn Lynch is heading to IR, but what are we really looking at here? We know what Martin is all about and we know the Raiders are a pass-first team. He’ll get the early-down work and share the backfield with Jalen Richard and possibly even DeAndre Washington . If you’re crazy desperate for running back help, then he’s worth a look, but given his ceiling and recent track record, he’s kind of a wasted add even in a soft RB market.
Kenjon Barner , RB NE – Just a temporary band-aid here, but one worth a look nonetheless. Sony Michel and the Patriots dodged a bullet as an MRI revealed no structural damage in the running back’s knee. While he is being considered week-to-week, Barner will share the backfield with James White . He may not see the same number of touches Michel had been getting, but again, if we’re desperate for some help through these bye weeks, Barner looks like he could offer some help.
Tre’Quan Smith, WR NO – With Ted Ginn landing on IR for the Saints, Smith now steps up as the team’s new No. 2 wideout opposite Michael Thomas and is more than deserving of a long look. There were probably a number of disappointed owners after Smith posted just 44 yards on three catches, but the match-up against Baltimore was not ideal and the focus should be more on the targets he saw – a season-high six. Smith is a fantastic deep threat and who doesn’t want a guy who is consistently seeing a half-dozen targets from Drew Brees ?
Jakeem Grant , WR MIA – At 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds, Grant is far from your prototypical wideout but the speedy slot receiver should see an uptick in workload with Albert Wilson likely out for the remainder of the season. He remains a threat for those who get points for return yards and special teams touchdowns, but could be a little more valuable in PPR formats if he does start taking more snaps with the first team. Keep an eye on him this week as he faces a horrible Texans secondary on Thursday night and track both his snaps and targets moving forward.
Michael Gallup , WR DAL – After the Amari Cooper trade to Dallas, everyone is looking to see who is going to see the increase in value. We know Ezekiel Elliott will get a slight boost as another weapon running around in the passing game will force defenses to play the pass a little more honestly. Cooper’s value doesn’t change moving from a pass-first to a run-first scheme, however, Gallup, who hauled in his first touchdown of the year should actually see a slight boost in value as coverage floats Cooper’s way. Gallup and Dak Prescott continue to forge their on-field rapport, so as the targets rise and the coverage softens, he should finally be able to produce for your fantasy teams.
Jordy Nelson , WR OAK – Addition by subtraction? The loss of Cooper should mean an increase in targets for Nelson who slides in as the primary receiving target. Martavis Bryant and Seth Roberts may also see an uptick in work, but the only one worth owning at this point – for some consistent work – is Nelson. Keep in mind, there is some talk about a fracture between quarterback Derek Carr and the rest of the team and given the way Jon Gruden shipped out Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper , Carr could be next and that would mean AJ McCarron under center.
Michael Roberts , TE DET -- Welcome to another episode of The Man Who Came from Nowhere. The fourth-round pick in the 2017 season was dealing with a knee injury and missed the previous four games, but made his return this week and was clearly the forgotten man in coverage. The question is, will Roberts mmove up the depth chart or was this an isolated game where the match-up was just right? While everyone will be looking at Roberts' numbers from this week and trying to grab him to improve their tight end -- a total garbage position -- I'm believing more in the latter and feel like this was strictly an isolated incident. Maybe the team tries to incorproate him into the tight end rotation, but given the existence of Golden Tate , Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay , it's tough to imagine him seeing enough targets to be a worthwhile play.
Andy Dalton , QB CIN – If you missed my Hot Takes piece on Monday, then you probably didn’t see my concerns over Dalton and his viability as a fantasy starter moving forward. The season had been a solid one until he totally bricked this last week against a struggling Chiefs defense. While trying to figure out why, I noticed a pattern developing. Over the last three seasons, sometime between Weeks 6 and 8, Dalton completely falls off a cliff for the duration of the season. There may be one or two nice games against soft defenses, but for the most part, you want to rid yourself of him now. It’s like what I was saying about Matt Ryan and his upcoming road schedule, only worse. Because it’s Dalton.
Blake Bortles , QB JAC – Someone in the Jaguars front office must have looked at Bortles’ numbers in London games and realized head coach Doug Marrone should at least give him the start next week. However, this is not a guy we can put our trust into moving forward, especially after watching Marrone pull him for Cody Kessler . This Jaguars team is struggling on both sides of the ball and this is probably not the last time we’ll see Kessler under center for this team.
T.J. Yeldon , RB JAC – The Jaguars acquisition of Carlos Hyde immediately sucks the life out of Yeldon’s fantasy value. We were already waiting for Leonard Fournette to return and put Yeldon on the bench, but now, regardless of whether Fournette returns or not, Hyde joining the team devalues everyone in this backfield. Doug Marrone clearly doesn’t care about anyone’s fantasy team and the potential for a three-headed monster looms largely over our heads. Even if Fournette doesn’t come back, the team is paying Hyde $15M as part of his three-year deal, so keep in mind they’re not adding salary just to have a back-up. Yeldon will be, at best, in a time-share moving forward.
Royce Freeman , RB DEN – Well, there’s always next year, right? We don’t want to give up on Freeman at all, but for this year? We may just have to. He suffered a high-ankle sprain Thursday and is now likely to be out for a few weeks. Just how many weeks, we don’t know, but sprains of this kind can take at least a month to heal. Sure, that puts him back on track for Thanksgiving, but during that time, we fully expect Phillip Lindsey to grab a stranglehold on this job. Devontae Booker will get some work in as well. Once Freeman is ready to return, he may slide back into what his role has been, but let’s face it…that wasn’t a very productive role to begin with, was it?
Alex Collins , RB BAL – As if his usage rates and John Harbaugh’s affectation for Javorius Allen weren’t enough, now we’ve got to deal with Lamar Jackson poaching goal-line carries too? This story goes from bad to worse here as twice Harbaugh turned to the team’s future quarterback to run some gimmick plays and get into the end zone that way. We’re not sure what is going through Harbaugh’s mind here or why he can’t put his trust into Collins more (Don’t give me the fumble stuff again. Everyone fumbles), but suddenly the hope for a second-half turnaround like last season is diminishing.
Matt Breida , RB SF – Plain and simple, the guy just can’t stay healthy. He’s got all the opportunity you could want in a starting running back, but every time Breida steps onto the field, he ends up hurt. This past week it was an ankle issue that cropped up just five snaps into the game. Before that it was a shoulder. Before that it was a concussion. Before that is was a knee. Mr. Glass here needs to spend more time working on his endurance.
Demaryius Thomas , WR DEN – He’s pretty much checked out mentally from the Broncos and is more interested in what team he may go to than he is with his current performance or level of production. Thomas spoke to the media the other day and said he expects to be on another team at some point this season. If that’s the case, then not only is he losing value in Denver, but he’s also going to have a tough time picking that value back up if he id dealt somewhere. He’s got a whole new offensive scheme and playbook to learn and he needs to build up an on-field rapport with whoever his QB is going to be. The longer the Broncos hold him the worse this could be for his fantasy owners.
Antonio Callaway , WR CLE – Well, we tried to give him another shot this past week and to no avail. The guy’s got hands like he’s Sammie Coates or something catching just 16 of his 39 targets and he hasn’t been able to produce since Week 2 when the Browns faced a horrible Saints defense. Since that game he’s failed to find the end zone and hauled in at least 25 receiving yards just once. Even with Rashard Higgins injured , Callaway can’t seem to put it together and he’s not going to do anything for your fantasy teams while he tries to prove to his quarterback that he isn’t a total waste to look at. Even though he is.
Keenan Allen , WR LAC – It’s not that Allen is having a bad season, it’s that the production doesn’t match the price tag. Allen was a mid-to-late second round pick in many drafts and has posted an average of 72.3 yards per game with just one touchdown. Again, he’s averaging a strong 12.3 YPC, but he’s just not bringing enough to the fantasy realm. Obviously, there’s a chance he finally blows up, but until we start seeing production up in the stratosphere, he’s nothing more than your average bye-week filler.
Rob Gronkowski , TE NE – Still think Gronk is worth a second-round pick? Are you getting a significant advantage over your league mates by owning him? Doubtful. Very doubtful. Gronk missed this last week with a back injury and for the games he’s played, he’s averaged 67.5 yards per game and has one touchdown….one…..to his credit this season. He’s averaging about six targets per game, another significant drop, which means he’s not even seeing the opportunities anymore, so if you’ve got someone trying to sell you on Gronk, remember, you’re trading for his name, not his performance.