The Dolphins and Steelers entered Monday night’s game with a combined 2-10 record. Early on, the Dolphins looked like the 2-4 team while the Steelers were routinely booed off the field by the home crowd. Ryan Fitzpatrick tossed a pair of first-quarter touchdowns, but the Dolphins were then shut out over the final 46-plus minutes of game action while the Steelers hung 27 unanswered points on the board and coasted to a win on the back of their two studs, James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Conner, however, was injured late in the fourth quarter.
Conner had yet to manage a 100-yard rushing game this season coming into Monday night, but the Dolphins predictably paved the way for the breakout game. Conner's touchdown came from nine yards out in the fourth quarter where he wasn't going to be denied the end zone. The bad news is Conner looked to be injured late in the fourth quarter while handling meaningless clock-killing carries. He was body-weighted by a defender right on top of his shoulder. Upon examination on the sideline, a Steelers trainer appeared to mouth the word "clavicle" before escorting Conner to the locker room. A broken collarbone would end his season. Benny Snell was also injured in this game, hurting his knee. Jaylen Samuels (knee) is expected back in Week 9. Coach Mike Tomlin confirmed after the game that Conner has a shoulder injury, and the team will know more Tuesday. Samuels needs to be a waiver-wire priority this week.
Monday was easily Smith-Schuster’s best game of the season and JuJu's first over 100 yards after averaging just over 56 yards per game Weeks 1-7. It wasn't easy by any means, as Smith-Schuster had to pluck an underthrown ball off the top of the defensive back's helmet to secure his acrobatic 26-yard touchdown. The Steelers really made a point to challenge the Dolphins down the field, taking multiple shots and playing aggressive. The Steelers host the big play-limiting Colts in Week 9. JuJu is a prime sell-high candidate in fantasy leagues.
Trade Deadline Eve
The NFL trade deadline will come and go at 4 PM ET Tuesday. In recent years, teams have become far more willing to part with draft picks for proven talent at the deadline. We’ve already seen a number of deals in the weeks leading up to the deadline, and it continued Monday.
Cardinals fans woke up to Arizona sending a conditional 2020 sixth-rounder to the Dolphins for Kenyan Drake. With David Johnson (back, ankle) still day to day and now Chase Edmonds (hamstring) week to week, the Cardinals needed a running back. Drake was going to be dealt before the deadline, and the Cardinals jumped in at the last minute to make a deal. He should be in the lineup right away Thursday night against the 49ers but is unlikely to have much, if any, fantasy value once Johnson and Edmonds return in the near future. Johnson will be back first.
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The Giants and Jets also struck a deal Monday, with Gang Green shipping former No. 6 overall pick DT Leonard Williams to the G-Men. Williams doesn’t have to move or anything and will instead just switch locker rooms at MetLife Stadium. Williams was a bust for the Jets and is in the final year of his contract. The Jets get a third-rounder and will get a fourth-rounder if Williams signs an extension with the Giants. It’s a lot to give up if the Giants don’t re-sign him. Overall, Williams is unlikely to be a major difference maker over the second half of the year.
Plenty of other players have been rumored to be on the block or potentially available, including Bengals LT Cordy Glenn, Redskins CB Josh Norman, Lions CB Darius Slay, Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny, Redskins LT Trent Williams, Bucs TE O.J. Howard, and 49ers QB C.J. Beathard. We’re very likely to see some more deals Tuesday.
Quarterback Injuries of Note
Most expected Kyle Allen’s run of starts to end at five with his miserable Week 8 performance in San Francisco Sunday, but Cam Newton (foot) still isn’t ready to return. Coach Ron Rivera announced Monday that Allen will again start Week 9 against the Titans. Getting ruled out this early in the week isn’t great news for Newton’s Week 10 outlook, though that remains up in the air. Allen gets a much easier draw this week against Tennessee but will remain more of a QB2 than streaming option. His presence has really affected Greg Olsen in particular, who hasn’t had a usable fantasy game since Week 3 against the Cardinals. The defense had mainly been carrying the Panthers before they got pushed around by the Niners this past week.
Joe Flacco has a herniated disk in his neck and will be sidelined Week 9 at the very minimum and is even being considered for season-ending injured reserve. Brandon Allen, the former Jaguars and Rams third-stringer, will start against the Browns this week. Flacco was having a horrendous season, but Allen’s insertion raises caution for Courtland Sutton. Allen is going to have to prove he can get the ball downfield to Sutton, who was an every-week WR2 with Flacco. Perhaps Allen’s popgun arm can unlock Noah Fant more down the stretch.
Chargers Can Whisenhunt
The Chargers fired OC Ken Whisenhunt late Monday night. When coordinators start getting fired, it signals the head coach is feeling the heat. Coach Anthony Lynn is running out of lives with the Chargers sitting at 3-5. Offensive-minded Lynn has a run-game coordinator background, and the Bolts have been held to fewer than 40 rushing yards as a team in each of the four games since Melvin Gordon ended his holdout. We doubt Whisenhunt was the one campaigning for Gordon to be so heavily involved after Austin Ekeler tore up the competition Weeks 1-4. Either way, Whisenhunt was no mastermind. His loss likely won't be felt all that much. Lynn is likely coaching for his job over the season's second half.
Quarterback & Running Back Quick Slants
The Bears will continue to roll with Mitchell Trubisky under center despite his struggles. They don’t have any other options, as Chase Daniel doesn’t present a realistic upgrade. … Falcons waived QB Danny Etling with Matt Ryan (ankle) expected to return after the team’s Week 9 bye. … Matt Breida (ankle) and Raheem Mostert (knee) were limited in Monday’s estimated practice ahead of Thursday Night Football against the Cardinals. … Derrius Guice (knee, I.R.) is expected to return to the lineup in Week 11 when first eligible. … The Jaguars released Alfred Blue off injured reserve now that he’s healthy. … Case Keenum remains in the concussion protocol after being injured last Thursday night in Minnesota. … Sam Darnold (thumb) is expected to play through his injury. He has a cake schedule, but things have been ugly the last two weeks. … Patriots re-signed third-string QB Cody Kessler. … Miles Sanders (shoulder) isn’t expected to miss any time after leaving in the second half against the Bills. … Royce Freeman injured his shoulder Week 8 against the Colts. His status is uncertain.
Wide Receiver & Tight End Quick Slants
Ravens signed WR Willie Snead to a one-year, $6 million extension through 2020. He can continue to be ignored in fantasy leagues. … Ed Dickson (knee, I.R.) will practice this week and has a chance to make his season debut this week against the Bucs. … Marquise Goodwin returned to the team after stepping away last week to tend to a personal matter. His role is unclear with the arrival of Emmanuel Sanders. … Marquise Brown (ankle) is expected to return Week 9 against the Patriots. … Jeff Heuerman (knee) is day to day. He’s obviously not on the fantasy radar. … DeSean Jackson (abdomen) will finally return to practice this week. … Fred Brown started opposite Courtland Sutton in the Broncos’ first game sans Emmanuel Sanders.