Skip to main content

Target Analysis: Week 8 (2020 Fantasy Football)

Nov 4, 2020

Cooper Kupp received a massive 21 targets in Week 8.

We’ve seen it time and time again. Volume is the clearest indicator of fantasy success, as it’s rare for a player to be a fantasy football stud without the opportunity to convert touches into points. Pass-catching opportunities, especially in PPR leagues, are often a bigger determinant of fantasy success than a player’s talent or circumstances.

So, every week of this fantasy season, I will diagnose the target landscape in the NFL. Who’s seeing the highest share on a team? Who’s trending downward? And most importantly, what takeaways can we draw from this data to ultimately help you make better fantasy lineup and roster decisions?

Here is your Week 8 Target Analysis:

Import your team to My Playbook for instant Lineup & Trade advice >>

Atlanta Falcons

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Julio Jones 10 29 9.67 49 8.17 ⬆️
Hayden Hurst 7 18 6.00 46 5.75
Calvin Ridley 4 18 6.00 68 8.50 ⬇️
Russell Gage 3 14 4.67 46 5.75 ⬇️
Brian Hill 3 8 2.67 19 2.38
Christian Blake 2 4 1.33 9 1.13 ⬆️

Julio Jones was dominant to start this game against Carolina, and it looked like Matt Ryan would focus on him throughout the contest. However, after managing four catches for 85 yards on the Falcons’ first two drives, Jones mustered only three catches for 52 yards over the remainder of the game. Despite finishing with 20.7 PPR points, it was a bit discouraging to see Jones’ usage vary largely throughout the contest. What is even more puzzling is that he saw less volume following Calvin Ridley’s second-quarter exit. One would think Ryan would rely upon Jones more heavily without the young wideout playing alongside him, but he continued to spread the ball around to Hayden Hurst, Russell Gage, and Brian Hill.

Jones is obviously an auto-start as a WR1 going forward, but I would look to move him for a more consistent WR1 whose volume won’t disappear over the course of the game. You could probably fetch A.J. Brown or D.K. Metcalf in redraft leagues, and both of them have already had their bye weeks. If Calvin Ridley misses any time with his foot injury, Hurst moves from “tight end streamer” to “solid play at tight end.” Ryan started to rely more heavily on his tight end following Ridley’s absence, so I would feel much more confident putting him in your starting lineup if he’s the No. 2 passing option for Atlanta.

Baltimore Ravens

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Willie Snead V 7 9 3.00 22 3.14 ⬆️
Mark Andrews 6 10 3.33 39 5.57 ⬆️
Devin Duvernay 3 6 2.00 15 2.14 ⬆️
Miles Boykin 3 5 1.67 22 3.14 ⬆️
Marquise Brown 2 8 2.67 44 6.29 ⬆️
J.K. Dobbins 2 6 2.00 16 2.29 ⬆️

Lamar Jackson wasn’t great as a passer in Week 8, as he completed less than 50 percent of his passes and threw two interceptions versus Pittsburgh. However, his 208 passing yards and two passing touchdowns were his highest totals since Week 1, so it was nice to see his pass-catching weapons see a bit more work. Unfortunately, Baltimore’s typically successful pass-catchers didn’t do much on the day. Mark Andrews caught just three of his six targets for 32 yards, while Marquise Brown made one grab for a three-yard touchdown.

Even post-bye, the Ravens’ fantasy breakdown is the same as it has always been. Andrews is a reluctant, touchdown-dependent auto-start at tight end, and Brown is a risky boom-or-bust FLEX play. You aren’t going after Willie Snead, Devin Duvernay, or Miles Boykin, even though they all made a mark on this game. Andrews and Brown are the only viable options from this team.

Buffalo Bills

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Stefon Diggs 9 28 9.33 79 9.88 ⬇️
Cole Beasley 2 21 7.00 51 6.38 ⬇️
Gabriel Davis 2 6 2.00 23 2.88 ⬇️
John Brown 2 6 2.00 29 4.14 ⬆️
Devin Singletary 1 8 2.67 30 3.75 ⬇️
Tyler Kroft 1 7 2.33 15 1.88 ⬇️

In a windy game against Bill Belichick’s defense, there wasn’t much successful passing from Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills. Without Stephon Gilmore defending him, Stefon Diggs worked against J.C. Jackson and caught six of nine targets for 92 yards. Aside from Diggs, though, no other Buffalo player caught more than two passes or accumulated more than 25 receiving yards.

Given the weather conditions and tough matchup, I wouldn’t be too concerned about John Brown or Cole Beasley. Neither are more than lower-tier FLEX options even in favorable matchups, but they should still be rostered in deeper leagues. Diggs is the only Bills wideout you should feel comfortable starting.

Carolina Panthers

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Robby Anderson 8 21 7.00 69 8.63
D.J. Moore 6 22 7.33 59 7.38 ⬆️
Curtis Samuel 5 11 3.67 34 4.86 ⬇️
Ian Thomas 3 5 1.67 15 1.88 ⬆️
Mike Davis 2 10 3.33 43 5.38 ⬇️
Chris Manhertz 1 3 1.00 6 0.75 ⬆️

I have asked my readers to lower their expectations for D.J. Moore this season. I have said multiple times we can’t think of him as anything more than a low-WR2 now that Robby Anderson is clearly the Panthers’ No. 1 wideout. However, I clearly did not set expectations low enough. Moore did not log his first reception until 56 minutes into the game, finishing the matchup with two catches for 55 yards. Somehow, he was still the Panthers’ leading wide receiver, as Anderson tallied only five receptions for 48 yards and Curtis “Touchdown” Samuel managed just 31 receiving yards. Unless you were desperate enough to start Samuel, you were largely disappointed in any Panthers that you put in your lineup.

I am willing to throw out most of the data in this game as an anomaly. First, the weather was a much more important factor than anticipated. Heavy rain caused Teddy Bridgewater to struggle, and he was in-and-out of the lineup due to a hit to the head. It’s hard to blame Carolina’s passing offense for faltering. Second, Carolina players lost a lot of their upside due to Atlanta’s penalties; the Falcons gave up 63 yards in penalty yardage, which effectively shortened the field and prevented those yards from going to anyone. The lone takeaway that will affect my decisions going forward is Samuel’s usage, as his role will continually increase due to his versatility. He will be a bigger cap to Anderson’s and Moore’s fantasy value than we ever could have anticipated.

Chicago Bears

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Anthony Miller 11 19 6.33 42 5.25 ⬆️
Jimmy Graham 7 21 7.00 49 6.13 ⬆️
Allen Robinson 7 20 6.67 77 9.63 ⬆️
Darnell Mooney 6 18 6.00 43 5.38 ⬇️
David Montgomery 5 15 5.00 38 4.75
Cordarrelle Patterson 2 7 2.33 15 1.88 ⬇️

Nick Foles has been up-and-down all season, and this game was no exception. He started quite cold, but he got on a roll in the fourth quarter and led the Bears to overtime. Unfortunately, he wasn’t good enough to squeak out a win versus the Saints. Still, whether the Bears quarterback performs well or poorly, Allen Robinson continues to put up great performances. Despite being shadowed by Marshon Lattimore for most of the game, Robinson caught six of his seven targets for 87 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Anthony Miller was more involved in the offense, seeing 11 targets and catching eight balls for 73 yards.

Despite Miller’s success, Robinson is still the only pass-catcher you can trust in Chicago. Miller, Darnell Mooney, and Jimmy Graham will continually trade off meaningful fantasy performances. Miller and Mooney both put up over 15 PPR points in Week 8, while Graham scored a measly 3.3 PPR points. Avoid anyone on this offense not named “Robinson.”

Cincinnati Bengals

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Tee Higgins 9 22 7.33 52 6.50 ⬆️
Tyler Boyd 7 28 9.33 68 8.50 ⬇️
Auden Tate 7 8 2.67 14 1.75 ⬆️
A.J. Green 5 29 9.67 63 7.88 ⬇️
Gio Bernard 4 12 4.00 29 3.63 ⬇️
Drew Sample 1 8 2.67 26 3.25 ⬇️

Tee Higgins continues to impress. While many around the fantasy community have praised the likes of other outstanding rookie receivers like CeeDee Lamb and Justin Jefferson, Higgins has been just as good as any wideout in his class and looks more and more like the No. 1 receiving option in Cincinnati. Higgins caught six of his nine targets for 78 yards against Tennessee, leading his team in targets and receiving yards. Tyler Boyd also maintained his season-long consistency, putting up six catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. A.J. Green, meanwhile, fell back down to Earth, catching just two passes for 19 yards.

Higgins and Boyd remain every-week starts, as they continue to put up consistent production. I still prefer Boyd to Higgins given the former’s reliability as a slot receiver, but both have a great long-term outlook with Joe Burrow at the helm. Green remains a highly volatile option better off kept on the bench unless the matchup dictates otherwise.

Cleveland Browns

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Jarvis Landry 11 22 7.33 50 6.25 ⬆️
Rashard Higgins 3 11 3.67 15 1.88 ⬇️
Harrison Bryant 3 10 3.33 21 2.63 ⬇️
Kareem Hunt 3 10 3.33 25 3.13 ⬇️
David Njoku 3 9 3.00 13 2.60
D’Ernest Johnson 1 2 0.67 3 0.38 ⬆️

The winds were swirling in Cleveland, meaning we weren’t going to see much passing success for the Browns. In their first game without Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry became a prime target for Baker Mayfield. He saw a season-high 11 targets, but he only managed to catch four balls for 52 yards. Every other Cleveland pass-catcher was incredibly disappointing, failing to surpass five PPR points.

I still wouldn’t feel comfortable starting Landry despite him even though he’s the main target on this offense. However, if you are in dire need of startable players, he isn’t the worst choice in the world. Aside from Landry, though, you should not trot out any Cleveland pass-catchers. Even Harrison Bryant is an extremely risky tight-end streamer, so I would suggest you look towards the wire to find an option with more upside.

Dallas Cowboys

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Michael Gallup 12 20 6.67 48 6.00 ⬆️
Dalton Schultz 8 17 5.67 48 6.00 ⬆️
Amari Cooper 5 22 7.33 77 9.63 ⬇️
CeeDee Lamb 5 20 6.67 59 7.38
Ezekiel Elliot 2 15 5.00 48 6.00
Tony Pollard 2 7 2.33 17 2.13 ⬆️

Am I obligated to talk about the Cowboys? If you thought reading the New York Jets target distribution was bad, wait until you see how Ben DiNucci performed in his first NFL start. The Cowboys passing offense was worse than one could ever have imagined, as only Michael Gallup saw relative success. Gallup gained most of his yards on screens, catching seven balls for 61 yards. Everyone else was abysmal, as Mike McCarthy and the Dallas coaching staff did everything they could to keep the ball away from DiNucci.

With Andy Dalton out again this week, how can you start any Dallas pass-catchers? In Week 9, the Cowboys face the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have one of the best defenses in the NFL. I can’t imagine the quarterback — likely Garrett Gilbert or Cooper Rush — having any time to throw, which means there is little chance any receiver will have time to run their routes. You need to bench every Cowboys receiver until further notice.

Denver Broncos

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Jerry Jeudy 10 19 6.33 47 6.71 ⬆️
Noah Fant 9 16 5.33 43 7.17 ⬆️
Melvin Gordon 7 11 3.67 26 4.33 ⬆️
DaeSean Hamilton 5 9 3.00 18 2.57 ⬆️
KJ Hamler 3 6 2.00 18 3.00
Phillip Lindsay 3 3 1.00 4 1.00 ⬆️

Drew Lock had a rough couple of weeks since returning from a shoulder injury, but he finally got it going against the Los Angeles Chargers. Lock threw the ball 41 times for 248 yards and three touchdowns, including a game-winning score with no time remaining in the fourth quarter. Jerry Jeudy was the main target of Lock in this one, seeing 10 looks and catching four balls for 73 yards. Also heavily targeted, Noah Fant corralled seven passes for 47 yards. Unfortunately for his fantasy managers, backup tight end Albert Okwuegbunam ended up catching a touchdown instead.

Even though Jeudy and Fant saw a large share of targets, neither scored 12 PPR fantasy points. Lock has yet to prove he can be a viable NFL starter, so I am not sure he can support multiple fantasy options in Denver. Jeudy is a desperate FLEX play week-to-week, while Fant is a decent streaming tight end. Still, the ceiling of all Denver pass-catchers is limited unless Lock takes the next step in his development.

Detroit Lions

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
T.J. Hockenson 10 21 7.00 41 5.86 ⬆️
Marvin Jones 7 18 6.00 37 5.29 ⬆️
Marvin Hall 7 10 3.33 15 2.14 ⬆️
Kenny Golladay 4 17 5.67 32 6.40 ⬇️
D’Andre Swift 4 13 4.33 29 4.14 ⬇️
Danny Amendola 4 10 3.33 31 4.43

Kenny Golladay left this game early with a hip injury, putting up a goose-egg on the stat sheet. With Golladay out of the lineup, Marvin Jones and T.J. Hockenson thrived. Hockenson caught seven of his 10 targets for 65 yards, while Jones scored two touchdowns off of seven targets. D’Andre Swift was barely involved, catching three passes for 22 yards and managing just one rushing yard on six carries. Against a top-three defense, the Lions performed well above expectations without their top weapon.

Even if Golladay miss at least Week 9, I would not feel confident putting Jones in my lineup. He may have caught two touchdowns, but he only managed 39 receiving yards on three catches. Jones had not been viable even when Golladay sat earlier this year, so don’t expect that to change this time. Hockenson has had back-to-back solid fantasy outputs, so he’s an every-week starter at tight end until proven otherwise.

Green Bay Packers

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Davante Adams 12 35 11.67 55 11.00 ⬇️
Robert Tonyan 7 13 4.33 27 3.86 ⬆️
Jamaal Williams 6 12 4.00 25 3.57 ⬆️
Jace Sternberger 4 5 1.67 10 1.43 ⬆️
Equanimeous St. Brown 3 5 1.67 5 1.67 ⬆️
Tyler Ervin 3 3 1.00 9 1.29 ⬆️

Davante Adams continues to be a target monster this season, as this was his third consecutive performance with double-digit targets. He only managed seven catches for 53 yards, but he got into the end zone three times. Robert Tonyan actually led the Packers in receiving yardage in Week 8, accumulating 79 on five catches. With Aaron Jones missing in action for his second straight game, Jamaal Williams once again saw increased utilization on offense. He caught all six of his targets for 27 yards, in addition to adding 16 carries for 75 yards on the ground.

Adams is an every-week start and has the potential to finish as the highest-scoring fantasy wide receiver in 2020. Tonyan has proven to be a solid option at the tight end position and should be started every week unless you are blessed enough to also have Travis Kelce or Darren Waller on your roster. Aside from those two options, starting any other Packers pass-catcher is a risky endeavor. Aaron Rodgers can go off for 400 yards and five touchdowns at any time, but Adams would likely be on the receiving end.

Indianapolis Colts

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Zach Pascal 6 13 4.33 34 4.86 ⬆️
Nyheim Hines 5 11 3.67 32 4.57 ⬆️
Marcus Johnson 4 12 4.00 16 2.29 ⬆️
Trey Burton 4 9 3.00 20 5.00 ⬆️
Mo Alie-Cox 4 4 1.33 18 3.00 ⬆️
Jonathan Taylor 3 7 2.33 20 2.86 ⬆️

This may have been the most frustrating game for any fantasy manager rostering an Indianapolis Colt to watch. Despite scoring five offensive touchdowns and dominating through the air for most of the day, Philip Rivers continued to spread the ball around. No player caught more than three passes or accumulated more than 60 receiving yards. You may have been lucky enough to start Nyhiem Hines, who led the team in receiving yards and caught two touchdowns, but he was the only pass-catcher you were happy to have in your lineup.

T.Y. Hilton left this game early with an injury. Jonathan Taylor was benched in favor of Jordan Wilkins to start the second half, and Michael Pittman did absolutely nothing in his return. There is no clear No. 1 option for Indianapolis on a week-to-week basis, so I can’t recommend you putting any in your lineup for the foreseeable future. You may be able to stream Trey Burton given the decimation of fantasy tight ends, but that’s about it in Indianapolis.

Kansas City Chiefs

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Travis Kelce 12 22 7.33 67 8.38 ⬆️
Mecole Hardman 9 12 4.00 29 3.63 ⬆️
Tyreek Hill 6 19 6.33 54 6.75 ⬇️
Demarcus Robinson 5 12 4.00 27 3.38 ⬆️
Byron Pringle 4 6 2.00 7 0.88 ⬆️
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 3 11 3.67 38 4.75 ⬇️

The Kansas City Chiefs opened as a 20.5-point favorite against the Jets, which was the ninth-highest point spread in NFL history. Many would’ve thought this would be a run-dominated game, as the Chiefs would not need to pass often to win. Yet Patrick Mahomes ended up throwing the ball 42 times for 416 yards and five touchdowns. Travis Kelce had yet another TE-1 performance, catching eight of his 12 targets for 109 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Mecole Hardman finally had a breakout game, catching seven passes for 96 yards and a score. Tyreek Hill had his best fantasy performance of the season, scoring 25.8 PPR points and catching four passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns.

Obviously, Kelce and Hill are auto-starts no matter the matchup. However, it’s puzzling that Hardman had his best game of the season in a matchup not presumed conducive to his fantasy viability. Is this a sign that Hardman has finally broken out, or is this an anomaly for the very streaky receiver? I would figure it is more the latter, but if Hardman is available on your waiver wire, he is worth a good percentage of your free agent budget in case it is the former.

Las Vegas Raiders

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Darren Waller 6 15 5.00 62 8.86 ⬇️
Hunter Renfrow 4 10 3.33 33 4.71 ⬇️
Henry Ruggs 4 7 2.33 18 3.60 ⬆️
Nelson Agholor 2 11 3.67 22 3.14 ⬇️
Jason Witten 2 3 1.00 9 1.29 ⬆️
Josh Jacobs 1 5 1.67 25 3.57 ⬇️

Derek Carr historically isn’t one to throw deep, but he had done so with relative success this year. Both Nelson Agholor and Henry Ruggs have thrived in several games due to Carr’s ability to connect on fly patterns with his speedy receivers. However, Carr did not continue his newfound ability in this matchup with the Browns. The extreme winds swirling in Cleveland forced the Raiders to go run-heavy and work the short-passing game. Darren Waller once again led his team in targets, but he only saw six looks and caught five passes for 28 yards. Hunter Renfrow was the only fantasy relevant pass-catcher for Las Vegas, but his day was propped up by a late touchdown.

This game was an oddity due to the weather conditions, but I wouldn’t give up on Ruggs just yet. The rookie is still an explosive player who has barely played half of a season. He’s a boom-or-bust fantasy asset, but he has the potential to be fantasy relevant. Although Ruggs only caught two passes for eight yards in this contest, he barely missed out on a touchdown by failing to get his foot in-bounds. Waller remains one of the safest tight ends in PPR leagues and should be an auto-start each and every week.

Los Angeles Chargers

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Keenan Allen 11 24 8.00 75 10.71 ⬇️
Mike Williams 8 11 3.67 33 5.50 ⬆️
Troymaine Pope 7 7 2.33 7 1.00 ⬆️
Justin Jackson 5 11 3.67 19 4.75 ⬇️
Hunter Henry 4 11 3.67 45 6.43 ⬇️
Jalen Guyton 4 7 2.33 17 2.43 ⬆️

Do you think Keenan Allen was upset by his preseason average draft position? He has dominated this season, ranking as the WR14 this year despite catching passes from a rookie quarterback. Allen once again saw double-digit targets, catching nine passes for 67 yards and a touchdown. Mike Williams had the highest receiving yardage total for Los Angeles, accumulating 99 yards off of five catches. Hunter Henry disappointed in this matchup, catching just four balls for 33 yards.

Allen is a must-start every single week, as he’s been one of the greatest draft-day bargains of 2020 and receives an incredible amount of volume from Justin Herbert. Williams is a decent FLEX play, especially since Herbert has passed with reckless abandon over the past several weeks. It will be interesting to see if these two can keep up their target totals once Austin Ekeler returns, but that still could be weeks away.

Los Angeles Rams

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Cooper Kupp 21 36 12.00 72 9.00 ⬆️
Josh Reynolds 9 22 7.33 38 4.75 ⬆️
Gerald Everett 9 18 6.00 27 3.38 ⬆️
Robert Woods 8 23 7.67 54 6.75 ⬆️
Tyler Higbee 4 8 2.67 25 3.57 ⬆️
Darrell Henderson 2 4 1.33 15 1.88

I think Cooper Kupp got upset when Tyler Lockett saw the most targets for any player this season with 20 in Week 7. Kupp one-upped that total in his Week 8 matchup with the Miami Dolphins, catching 11 of his 21 targets for 110 yards and a touchdown. Now, this game script was out of the ordinary for the Rams. They trailed by 21 points early and were forced to go pass-heavy for the remainder of the matchup. Robert Woods also bounced back from his brutal Week 7 output to catch seven passes for 85 yards and a score.

Kupp and Woods will always be auto-starts, but Kupp is the more volatile of the two. Woods will typically come through with a solid floor, but he’ll never hit the ceiling that Kupp can achieve. On the other hand, Kupp could be completely game-scripted out on occasion if the Rams elect to use more 12-personnel. Nonetheless, both are every-week starts. Tyler Higbee appeared to have been supplanted by his running mate Gerald Everett, so feel free to drop him entering the Rams’ bye week.

Miami Dolphins

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Myles Gaskin 6 10 3.33 35 5.00 ⬆️
Preston Williams 5 8 2.67 30 4.29 ⬆️
DeVante Parker 2 10 3.33 42 6.00 ⬆️
Jakeem Grant 2 6 2.00 18 2.57 ⬆️
Mike Gesicki 2 4 1.33 32 4.57 ⬆️
Durham Smythe 2 4 1.33 8 1.14 ⬆️

The Dolphins won big in Tua Tagovailoa’s first start, but it was mainly the defense that came through. Tagovailoa only passed 22 times for 93 yards in a game that was essentially over by halftime. Still, it is notable that the rookie favored his running back the most in this matchup. Gaskin led the team in targets and catches, and he tied tight end Durham Smythe for the most receiving yards on the day with 16. No Dolphin scored more than eight PPR points, so hopefully you stayed away from them in Week 8.

I would not recommend starting any Miami receiver until we get more data on Tagovailoa’s target preferences. One game does not provide sufficient information for me to conclude that Williams is the receiver you want in Miami or that Gesicki is droppable. Let’s pump the brakes and wait to see how Tagovailoa develops over the next several games and pivot to other known commodities.

Minnesota Vikings

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Justin Jefferson 4 15 5.00 40 5.71 ⬆️
Adam Thielen 4 9 3.00 53 7.57 ⬆️
Dalvin Cook 3 3 1.00 19 3.17 ⬆️
Irv Smith Jr. 1 6 2.00 17 2.43 ⬆️
Chad Beebe 1 6 2.00 9 1.29 ⬆️
Kyle Rudolph 1 5 1.67 15 2.14 ⬆️

Who needs to pass when you have Dalvin Cook? With Cook returning from his multi-week absence, the Vikings abandoned the passing attack and leaned on their star running back all game. Kirk Cousins only attempted 14 passes, compared to Cook’s 30 rushing attempts. Of those 14 throws, Cook saw three of them and also led the Vikings in receiving yardage. Justin Jefferson recorded just three catches for 26 yards, and Adam Thielen barely one-upped him with three catches for 27 yards.

Thielen and Jefferson are still every-week starts, but it is troublesome to see how much success the Vikings can have when they rely solely on the running game. Minnesota’s best bet to win is to keep its abysmal defense off of the field and bleed the game clock, so I figure the Vikings would prefer to have Cousins attempt fewer than 20 passes per game if they can. Still, the odds the Cook will have this level of success every week are slim to none, so expect Jefferson and Thielen to get back on track this week.

New England Patriots

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Jakobi Meyers 10 16 5.33 17 2.43 ⬆️
Damiere Byrd 4 10 3.33 32 4.57 ⬆️
James White 4 14 4.67 25 5.00 ⬆️
Ryan Izzo 3 7 2.33 15 2.14 ⬆️
Rex Burkhead 1 5 1.67 22 3.14 ⬇️
Isaiah Zuber 1 2 0.67 2 0.29 ⬆️

With both Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry missing this division matchup with the Buffalo Bills, you could not even fathom starting a New England Patriots pass-catcher. Jakobi Meyers ended up corralling six of his team-high 10 looks into catches for 58 yards. Aside from him, however, every other wideout and tight end was underwhelming to say the least. When a team is running the ball on third down and long, you can tell even they don’t trust their receiving weapons.

It’s plain and simple. You cannot start any New England Patriots pass-catcher. This offense is hyper-focused on the run and does not trust Cam Newton to sling the ball when it counts. We haven’t seen this passing offense show any signs of life since their Week 2 matchup with Seattle, and it’s doubtful it will be resuscitated any time soon. Avoid this team in all of your fantasy leagues.

New Orleans Saints

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Alvin Kamara 13 21 7.00 66 9.43 ⬆️
Tre’Quan Smith 7 11 3.67 32 4.57 ⬆️
Jared Cook 7 11 3.67 29 4.83 ⬆️
Deonte Harris 3 8 2.67 19 2.71 ⬇️
Latavius Murray 3 4 1.33 12 1.71 ⬆️
Juwan Johnson 3 3 1.00 3 0.43 ⬆️

Drew Brees didn’t have Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, or Marquez Callaway in this game, yet he still threw the ball 41 times for 280 yards and two touchdowns. Granted, more than a third of his passing yardage went Alvin Kamara’s way. The running back has continually been a check-down machine in 2020 and is often Brees’ No. 1 read when his wideouts can’t get open. Even though this passing offense is still successful, and there are a ton of vacated targets in the absence of Brees’ top-three receivers, you really can’t trust any pass-catchers outside of Kamara.

To be fair, Jared Cook caught five balls for 51 yards and a touchdown, while Tre’Quan Smith caught five of his seven targets for 43 yards in a tough matchup. Still, I don’t trust that Brees has the arm strength to allow his mediocre wide receivers to get down the field and achieve fantasy relevance. You should start Kamara, and only Kamara, until Thomas, Sanders, or Callaway return.

New York Giants

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Evan Engram 10 22 7.33 54 7.71 ⬆️
Sterling Shepard 10 18 6.00 28 7.00 ⬆️
Darius Slayton 9 17 5.67 57 7.13 ⬆️
Golden Tate 3 6 2.00 29 4.14 ⬆️
Dion Lewis 3 4 1.33 20 2.50 ⬆️
Kaden Smith 2 5 1.67 14 1.75 ⬆️

Daniel Jones targeted three players nine or more times in a surprisingly competitive game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He seemed to alternate between Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard, who both finished with five or more catches and at least 60 receiving yards. Sophomore wideout Darius Slayton wasn’t too far behind, catching five of nine looks for 56 yards. However, despite the decent numbers from this crew, Jones left on the field that could’ve led to week-winning fantasy performances from all three Giants. Jones missed several deep touchdowns that could have helped propel you to a Monday night comeback (if you needed one).

Even though the Giants offense was surprisingly successful last Monday, I am not buying into any of these players. Jones is still a highly inaccurate turnover machine; his skill position players will be fairly inconsistent week-to-week because of it. Engram is stream-worthy given his overall talent, and Slayton is a deep-play threat if you need a boom game from your FLEX. Still, I wouldn’t be excited about putting either player in my lineup, especially entering a matchup against Washington’s above-average defense.

New York Jets

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Braxton Berrios 11 21 7.00 37 4.63 ⬆️
Jeff Smith 8 13 4.33 33 6.60 ⬆️
Denzel Mims 3 10 3.33 10 1.25 ⬇️
La’Mical Perine 2 8 2.67 10 1.25 ⬇️
Chris Herndon 2 3 1.00 25 3.13 ⬆️
Ty Johnson 1 2 0.67 2 0.25 ⬆️

It was another disappointing game for the Jets. Without Breshad Perriman and Jamison Crowder, Braxton Berrios and Jeff Smith combined for 19 targets. Rookie Denzel Mims, whom many had hoped would shine as the No. 1 wideout, saw just three targets on the day. Chris Herndon, as usual, underwhelmed despite being the only talented veteran presence on the offensive side of the ball (yes, that’s a dig at Frank Gore).

You aren’t starting any Jets. The story is the same every week, and it will continue to ring true until Trevor Lawerence suits up in the green and white next fall. Sam Darnold can still be a good quarterback. However, so long as Adam Gase is on the sideline, no one is going to look good.

Philadelphia Eagles

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Travis Fulgham 7 28 9.33 44 5.50 ⬇️
Jalen Reagor 6 6 2.00 14 4.67 ⬆️
Greg Ward 5 14 4.67 45 5.63 ⬇️
Boston Scott 2 11 3.67 17 2.13 ⬇️
John Hightower 2 8 2.67 23 2.88
Corey Clement 2 3 1.00 5 0.63 ⬆️

Against one of the worst defenses in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles offense somehow only scored two touchdowns. Carson Wentz committed four turnovers and threw for 123 yards. Still, that didn’t stop fantasy darling Travis Fulgham from making his mark on this game. Fulgham caught six passes for 78 yards and a touchdown versus Dallas. Even though Jalen Reagor and Dallas Goedert were back in the lineup, Fulgham remained the leading receiver and No. 1 option in the passing game. Reagor and Goedert, meanwhile, underwhelmed in their return to action.

You can’t debate it anymore: Fulgham may be the next unknown name to become a star NFL wideout. He has thoroughly impressed in every game he’s started and continues to produce. Fulgham is a low-end WR2 each week, and the only reason he’s not higher is that Wentz has regressed mightily this season. I wouldn’t worry about Reagor or Goedert, especially since this was their first live action in a while. I would still feel comfortable putting Goedert as my starting tight end next week unless I had a significantly better option.

Pittsburgh Steelers

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Chase Claypool 9 14 4.67 34 4.86 ⬆️
JuJu Smith-Schuster 8 26 8.67 50 7.14 ⬇️
Eric Ebron 5 17 5.67 37 5.29 ⬇️
Diontae Johnson 3 18 6.00 44 7.33 ⬇️
James Conner 3 9 3.00 23 3.29 ⬇️
Jaylen Samuels 2 2 0.67 5 0.71 ⬆️

The formula for the Pittsburgh pass-catchers is starting to become more apparent. When Dionte Johnson is in, he is the clear target leader and the go-to receiver for Ben Roethlisberger. However, when he is not in the lineup, both JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool will thrive. Unfortunately, Johnson continues to start and leave the game early due to injury. This is the third time this year that Johnson has left a matchup prematurely due to injury, which has completely flipped the fantasy script fantasy managers were expecting.

At this point, it seems that Smith-Schuster is the safest start in Pittsburgh due to his health and overall consistency. He won’t be the team’s highest-scoring option every week, but he is unlikely to give you a goose-egg like Johnson or Claypool could. Claypool is a high upside play who could pay dividends if Johnson doesn’t play, but you cannot put him in your lineup unless Johnson’s absence is confirmed prior to the game. The same goes for Johnson; if he is active, you likely need to start him. This point is emphasized by the cakewalk of a matchup that Pittsburgh has against Dallas in Week 9.

San Francisco 49ers

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Brandon Aiyuk 11 21 7.00 43 6.14 ⬆️
Kendrick Bourne 10 14 4.67 40 5.00 ⬆️
George Kittle 4 21 7.00 49 8.17 ⬇️
Jerick McKinnon 4 7 2.33 29 3.63 ⬆️
Trent Taylor 4 6 2.00 16 2.00 ⬆️
Ross Dwelley 4 4 1.33 9 1.13 ⬆️

The 49ers offense was abysmal in this game, as the Seattle front-four dominated the line of scrimmage and pressured Jimmy Garoppolo all day. Garoppolo and George Kittle got banged up once this game was already out of hand, leaving the game early and forcing backups Nick Mullens and Ross Dwelley to take on a more prominent role. Still, that didn’t mean there weren’t any viable fantasy pass-catchers for San Francisco. Brandon Aiyuk led the team in targets, catches, and yards in Week 8, catching eight balls for 91 yards and a touchdown. Kendrick Bourne also got more heavily involved with Deebo Samuel missing in action, as he caught eight balls for 81 yards as the No. 2 wideout.

Even with Mullens suiting up at quarterback Thursday night, you can confidently start Aiyuk. The rookie receiver has a nearly identical skill set to Samuel, producing after he gets the ball in his hands and making defenders miss in space. He should be a PPR machine and see double-digit touches in some form. However, the backfield is a minefield, and Bourne is unlikely to repeat his Week 8 performance, so I would stay away from all other ancillary pieces.

Seattle Seahawks

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
D.K. Metcalf 15 20 6.67 59 8.43 ⬆️
Tyler Lockett 5 25 8.33 63 9.00 ⬇️
DeeJay Dallas 5 8 2.67 10 1.43 ⬆️
Greg Olsen 4 7 2.33 26 3.71 ⬆️
David Moore 3 6 2.00 20 2.86
Jacob Hollister 2 5 1.67 8 1.14 ⬇️

D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett keep trading off impressive fantasy performances. After Lockett’s 15 receptions for 200 yards and three touchdowns in Arizona last week, Metcalf followed suit with 12 catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns in Week 8 against San Francisco. Unfortunately, when one receiver booms, the other wideout tends to bust. When Lockett went off last week, Metcalf only caught two balls for 23 yards. This time, when Metcalf went off, Lockett only caught four balls for 33 yards. Both receivers have the potential to finish as the highest-scoring fantasy player on the week, but their floors are also quite low.

Even though Metcalf and Lockett aren’t as consistent as some other fantasy wideouts, they are both WR1s and auto-starts every single week. Even though DeeJay Dallas caught five balls for 17 yards and a touchdown, he will likely see his workload drastically decline if Chris Carson or Carlos Hyde return in Week 9. Greg Olsen is also extremely touchdown-dependent, as he failed to catch a pass despite seeing four targets. Even though Russell Wilson is “unlimited,” Metcalf and Lockett are the only pass-catchers you can trust in Seattle.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Jaydon Mickens 8 8 2.67 10 1.25 ⬆️
Mike Evans 7 11 3.67 46 5.75 ⬆️
Scotty Miller 6 17 5.67 38 4.75 ⬇️
Leonard Fournette 6 13 4.33 21 3.50 ⬇️
Rob Gronkowski 4 20 6.67 40 5.00 ⬇️
Ronald Jones 4 8 2.67 31 3.88 ⬆️

This Week 8 target distribution for Tampa Bay is about as useful as Tom Brady’s backup quarterback. Next week, the Buccaneers will field an entirely different receiving core, including recent free-agent acquisition Antonio Brown and a healthier Chris Godwin. Jaydon Mickens and Scotty Miller will be lucky to see the field, let alone six or more targets in a game. Mike Evans is also highly unlikely to receive this many targets going forward, as Godwin and Brown will soak up their fair share.

I am not going to predict how an offense’s target distribution will shake out when I haven’t seen it. I do know that you’ll be starting Evans, Godwin, and possibly Brown this week regardless of your feelings about the players. They are just too good to bench despite their high volatility. Brady isn’t going to throw 50 times a game, so someone will be the odd man out. While many want to point to Evans as the one whose fantasy value suffers most from Brown’s addition, I don’t think the situation is that clear cut. It’s possible that no receiver has top-12 potential, and they all cannibalize each other’s value. We will have to wait and see what rings true.

Tennessee Titans

PLAYER WEEK 8 LAST 3 AVG SEASON AVG TREND
Corey Davis 10 20 6.67 39 7.80
A.J. Brown 7 22 7.33 39 7.80 ⬇️
Anthony Firkser 3 14 4.67 25 3.57 ⬆️
Jonnu Smith 2 8 2.67 35 5.00 ⬇️
Adam Humphries 2 11 3.67 31 5.17 ⬇️
Derrick Henry 1 8 2.67 18 2.57 ⬇️

The Titans were playing catch-up for most of the game, so we saw a much higher passing volume from Ryan Tannehill than normal. Corey Davis drew a majority of the looks from his quarterback, converting his 10 targets into eight catches for 128 yards and one receiving touchdown. The incumbent No. 1 wideout in Tennessee, A.J. Brown, had a down performance despite the game-script. He only managed four catches for 24 yards off of seven targets. He did catch a touchdown, however, which salvaged his fantasy day.

I am not buying Davis’ breakout performance in Cincinnati. He has been startable for several weeks throughout the season, but he doesn’t provide enough weekly consistency to confidently put into my starting lineup. Brown, on the other hand, continues to put up solid fantasy performances even when the targets don’t go his way. I still want to play Brown every week despite the matchup. Jonnu Smith has disappointed since returning from injury, but it’s doubtful there is a tight end on your waiver wire with as much upside.

Import your team to My Playbook for instant Lineup & Trade advice >>


Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | SoundCloud | iHeartRadio

Beyond our fantasy football content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – which optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football draft season.

Dan Ambrosino is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Dan, check out his archive and follow him @AmbrosinoNFL.

What's your take? Leave a comment

Follow the Pros!

Follow us on Twitter @FantasyPros for exclusive advice and contests