Tale of the Tape: Week 8 (Fantasy Football)
Welcome to Tale of the Tape, where we break down a handful of highlight GIFs from the week’s slate of NFL games and translate them into fantasy football relevance. If you see a highlight worth analyzing in the future, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @FantasySensei!
For now, let’s get into Week 8 of the NFL season!
Alex Collins‘ Explosive Audition
Someone might want to check Alex Collins‘ cleats for rocket boosters. This guy absolutely blasts through the line on seemingly every play and it shows in his production. Earning a season-high 18 carries on Thursday night, Collins ran for 113 yards (adding two receptions for 30 yards). That brings his yards per carry on the season to a crispy 6.0 on 80 attempts, highest in the league by anyone with over 15 rushes. On this 19-yard scamper, his longest of the night, even the cameraman had trouble keeping up as Collins burst into the second level. While the Ravens are still committed to working in Buck Allen, especially in passing situations, Collins has looked too darn good to get less than lead back volume moving forward. If he’s still available in your league, add him now.
Have You Got a Thielen?
After Antonio Brown, the WR with the next most receiving yards in the NFL is not Julio Jones or even DeAndre Hopkins. It’s Adam Thielen. While some might argue that much of that production came with Sam Bradford under center and/or Stefon Diggs sidelined, Thielen hauled in five receptions for 98 yards on Sunday playing with Case Keenum and Diggs. This particular play showcased even Keenum’s ability to be on target with difficult throws, as well as Thielen’s skills in maintaining the catch. He also scored his first touchdown of the season on a wide-open grab in the corner of the end zone. True, Diggs will get healthier. And yes, the quarterback situation in MIN is still up in the air. But regardless, Thielen is on pace for 1,254 yards and deserving of a weekly start in fantasy lineups.
Ted Ginn Strikes Again
Ted Ginn Jr. has something of a reputation as an unreliable pass-catcher in the NFL and in fantasy. And while it’s true that he’s only topped four receptions or 70 yards once this season, Ginn’s fantasy production has been surprisingly solid. He has five-plus fantasy points (non-PPR) in five of seven games, with totals of 10.4, 12.1, and 14.1 in three of his last five. Ginn definitely does do the majority of his damage on the deep ball, like this 53-yard bomb late in Sunday’s game (he had one other catch for 15 yards), but Drew Brees‘ pinpoint accuracy has made Ginn much more consistent on those plays than previously in his career. Ginn’s 77.4 catch percentage in 2017 is well above his mark of 51.6 coming into the season and has played a key role in Ginn’s current rank of WR22 in standard formats.
Philip Rivers is a Quiet Bust
Rivers currently sits at No. 11 in the fantasy QB ranks and had a stretch of strong performances a few weeks back, so it’s tempting to believe he’s QB1 material. In reality, he’s 16th at the position on a points per game basis and has put up multiple dud performances against suspect passing defenses (KC and NE). Against the Patriots on Sunday, Rivers was a meager 17-for-30 for 212 yards, a TD, and an interception at the end of the game. He also contributed to the slew of ugly mistakes that cost LA the game with this awkward fumble, leading to a 20-yard sack. The next three weeks include a BYE, the Jaguars, and the Bills, making any sort of fantasy surge for Rivers a distant prospect. Consider selling high to a QB-needy team if you can.
Joe Mixon Struggles Despite Big Play
A cursorily look at Mixon’s Week 8 fantasy points may not be too painful, as the rookie compiled 91 receiving yards on three catches (including a 67-yarder) and ended up with 8.9 points in standard formats. The problem is, Mixon only mustered 18 rushing yards on 11 carries and lost a fumble late in the game attempting to extend a play. While Mixon wasn’t benched after the fumble, it certainly won’t help his standing with head coach Marvin Lewis, and neither will his inefficiency on the ground. He may have supplanted Giovani Bernard as the passing-downs back – which carries some FLEX appeal on a team that’s consistently playing catch-up – but Mixon is possibly the seventh- or eighth-most valuable rookie RB in fantasy, despite high expectations.
Jack Doyle Stakes Claim on TE1 Territory
Amidst the junkyard that is the tight end position in fantasy, we have a new rusty addition. Jack Doyle had a huge game on Sunday, bringing in 12 of 14 targets for 121 yards and this climb-the-ladder touchdown grab. That gives him four straight games with five or more catches and two touchdowns in his last three. We touched on Doyle’s potential all the way back in Week 2 when Jacoby Brissett first took over – since then, Doyle has averaged 7.6 fantasy points per game in non-PPR and 14.3 in PPR. He is a top-ten TE in non-PPR without question, but in PPR, Doyle is currently No. 5 on a per game basis and has no intention of moving. He’s not the flashiest, but Doyle is as reliable as you’ll find outside the Big Three (Gronk, Kelce, Ertz).
Robby Anderson a Sleeper No More
Robby Anderson was a popular sleeper late in the preseason as the apparent WR1 on the New York Jets, and has been up and down for most of the year. Sunday marked a new peak in his current upward trend, as Anderson torched the Falcons for 104 yards and a touchdown on six receptions. He blew past Desmond Trufant on this 24-yard TD and made a stellar 32-yard diving grab against good coverage later in the game. That makes three straight games with at least 7.6 non-PPR fantasy points for Anderson, who now surprisingly sits at WR19 overall. With Josh McCown playing above his pay grade and the Jets chasing points fairly often, Anderson has plenty of opportunities to continue improving. Particularly if he can start hauling in more of his targets (51.9 catch percentage), Anderson could have WR2 potential rest of season.
Jameis Winston Still Has a Long Way to Grow
In his third year since going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the No. 1 overall draft pick, Jameis Winston is still far from polished. Winston threw two ugly interceptions on Sunday, including this misread throw straight to Luke Kuechly of the Panthers. That brings his INT total to six in as many full games (he left early in Week 6 with a shoulder injury) to go along with a league-leading eight fumbles (only two lost). Winston’s struggles are a big reason the Bucs are 2-5 and last in their division and Winston has not added enough with his arms or his legs to maintain QB1 fantasy value either. His matchups moving forward are a mixed bag – with the surprising Saints on tap next week – and until we see maturity from Winston, he’s borderline droppable in standard leagues.
LeSean McCoy Running into Elite Tier
With Kareem Hunt‘s recent descent to more human fantasy production and Ezekiel Elliott‘s looming suspension, there is some room at the top of the RB ranks for another elite option. Enter LeSean McCoy, who tallied 173 total yards and a touchdown on Sunday against the Raiders. This 48-yard dagger in the fourth quarter highlighted McCoy’s elite speed even at 29 years old and brought his fantasy total over the past two weeks to 47.5 points in non-PPR scoring. His heavy involvement in the passing game (only one outing with less than six targets) is ultra-elite as well, as he trails only Christian McCaffrey and James White in receptions at the position. Plus, as highlighted with Tyrod Taylor last week, the Bills remaining schedule is extremely juicy for the entire offense, with six matchups against bottom eight defenses on the horizon (Jets, Chargers, Chiefs, Patriots twice, and Colts).
Deshaun Watson is a Stud
Just about everyone cautioned starting the rookie phenom in this matchup against the Seahawks in Seattle and just about everybody was eating crow Sunday night. Watson is officially matchup-proof after posting 452 yards and four touchdowns against the Legion of Boom, along with 67 yards rushing. Watson was baited into a pick-six by Earl Thomas and is supposedly still a rookie from an NFL standpoint, but for fantasy purposes, he is pure gold. His top-flight ability to keep plays alive wreaks havoc on defenses, as evidence on this escape act TD-pass to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Watson should be an easy top-five option every week and is basically a shoo-in for the No. 1 spot next week against the Colts.