Week 8 marks the halfway point of the regular season and nearly three-quarters of the way through most fantasy campaigns. If your fantasy team is struggling so far know your league settings and understand how many games out of the playoffs you are. Anything can happen on a week-to-week basis, so by just making the playoffs, you are giving yourself a decent chance to win. Make some bold trades, blow your FAAB budget or top waiver wire spot on a guy that could be a starter for you, do what it takes to make the leap and a playoff push.
Thursday Night Football
This week’s Thursday night matchup looks to be a snooze fest between Deshaun Watson’s Texans and Brock Osweiler’s Dolphins. There are two not-so-interesting revenge game narratives in this one with RB Lamar Miller and Brock Osweiler matching up against their old teams. Miller was a high-efficiency, low-volume runner in Miami while Osweiler flamed out as a big-money free agent signing. Osweiler has played well in his two starts this season, but we’ve seen enough of Brock in his career to know he’s incredibly average (59.8 percent completion rate, 37/29 TD/INT rate, 6.4 yards per attempt). He is likely to regress sooner than later and it wouldn’t be surprising to see it happen against Houston’s fifth-ranked defense according to Football Outsider’s DVOA. For a more in-depth breakdown of all the fantasy-relevant players in Thursday night’s game refer to Evan Silva’s Matchup Column.
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Bilal Powell placed on Injured Reserve
After suffering a neck injury in Week 7, Powell’s status for Week 8 was thought to be in doubt. It ended up being much worse than that as he was not only placed on injured reserve with season-ending surgery, but Coach Todd Bowles said Powell's career is in jeopardy. This is extremely bad luck for Powell who has no guaranteed money left and is set to be a free agent after this year. Entering his age 30 season in 2019, It’s highly unlikely a team will clear him to play unless his rehab goes perfectly. Even then, it’s a long shot.
The Jets will now move forward with RB Trenton Cannon as their pass-catching back until Elijah McGuire is healthy. Isaiah Crowell should be penciled in for 12-15 touches per game moving forward including a few targets in the passing game. The Jets travel to Chicago this week to take on the Bears as 7-point road underdogs, a spot that’s generally more conducive to pass-catching running backs. Cannon is certainly worth an add in deeper PPR leagues while Crowell is an interesting flex play and cheap DFS dart throw this week. Helping both of their cases, Bears DE Khalil Mack is still banged up and missed practice on Wednesday. He hasn’t been utilized the same as early in the year, dropping back into zone a lot more after suffering his injury.
Royce Freeman Sidelined at Wednesday’s Practice
Freeman is apparently struggling with a dreaded high-ankle sprain, something that could not only keep him out for a while but linger and potentially affect his explosiveness going forward. He’s been labeled “day-to-day” by the Broncos, but it seems highly unlikely he will be able to suit up this week.
With Freeman out, this leaves Phillip Lindsay in a great spot against the Kansas City Chiefs despite playing on the road as 10-point underdogs. The Chiefs allow the worst success rate in the league (Football Outsiders) to opposing running backs at 60 percent. Lindsay also isn’t just a two-down grinder though and if the Broncos fall behind he’ll be heavily involved in the passing game. Lindsay probably won’t be a bell-cow as Devontae Booker figures to play a role, but he should still see enough usage to be considered a RB2 in this juicy matchup.
Doug Martin to be Oakland’s Featured Running Back?
Every day there seems to be another tidbit of ridiculousness coming from Raiders coach Jon Gruden. On Wednesday, it was declaring that RB Doug Martin is "ready to go" as the Raiders' "feature back” with RB Marshawn Lynch on injured reserve. Maybe Martin has looked good to Gruden, but the numbers don’t really tell the same story. He’s averaging 2.99 yards per carry in his last 309 attempts over the past two seasons. He has had just two seasons in his entire career where he averaged over four yards per carry.
The caveat is that for fantasy being good doesn’t always matter. Usage is king, and Martin will likely 12-15 carries per game with 20+ touch upside if the Raiders somehow find themselves in positive game scripts. This week the Raiders take on the Colts as three-point home underdogs, a spot in which Martin should be able to see the full amount of touches Gruden plans on giving him. Martin will be a volume-based, touchdown-dependent RB3 going forward.
Lions acquired NT Damon Harrison from the Giants in exchange for a 2019 fifth-round pick. This is a great addition for the Lions Defense which has allowed the highest yards per carry in the league at 5.3. It was a cheap price to pay for Pro Football Focus’ No. 4 graded interior run defender this season. … Rob Gronkowski (back) and Sony Michel (knee) are didn’t practice on Wednesday. Michel is expected to sit while Gronk is tentatively expected to play. … 9 News Denver's Mike Klis reports the Broncos will not trade and are not shopping Demaryius Thomas ahead of next Tuesday's trade deadline. This makes sense as Thomas will be a free agent after this season. He likely will not be with the Broncos after the year is up. … Mike Jurecki of the Cardinals' official website says there's "zero chance" the team trades CB Patrick Peterson. Despite a lot of speculation after saying he wanted out, it looks like Peterson will remain with the Cardinals. … ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin reports multiple league sources have indicated Dalvin Cook (hamstring) will be out through the Week 10 bye. Cook has been a total non-factor this year after last season’s ACL tear. He hasn’t been able to get right and the team doesn’t want to rush him back after suffering serious knee injuries in college as well. … Keke Coutee (hamstring) has been ruled out for Week 8. With DeAndre Hopkins likely to be shadowed by Xavien Howard, Will Fuller should have a big game against the porous Dolphins secondary. … Broncos waived QB Chad Kelly. “Swag Kelly” season ended before it could even start. He had a good preseason and was likely going to take over as the starter in Denver with another misstep from Case Keenum. He will need to get serious help prior to getting another chance in the league. … Ronald Jones handled the "majority" of the first-team reps at Wednesday's practice. Peyton Barber didn’t practice and is looking iffy for Sunday’s game against the Bengals. Jones is a viable flex play if Barber sits. … Matt Breida (ankle) didn’t practice on Wednesday. He is reportedly “doing better” according to Coach Kyle Shanahan and Breida has been banged up the past few weeks but still given it a go. Raheem Mostert’s role will depend on Breida’s availability. … Robby Anderson (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Anderson had hamstring issues last week, and now looks to be suffering from ankle problems. The Jets receiving corps is extremely thin with Quincy Enunwa and Anderson battling injuries. … Golden Tate (ankle) was limited at Wednesday's practice. Tate will likely play, but this is something to keep an eye out for. … Rams coach Sean McVay said Cooper Kupp (knee) is doubtful for Week 8 against the Packers. Despite Kupp oddly trying to reenter the game in which he was injured, Kupp will likely need to sit out in Week 8. Josh Reynolds will likely assume more snaps on the outside while Woods slides into the slot. … Xavier Rhodes (ankle) didn't practice on Wednesday. He will likely miss this week’s game against the Saints, a significant loss to their secondary. … Allen Robinson (groin) didn't practice on Wednesday. Robinson injured his groin last week and may not be able to play this Sunday. If he can’t suit up, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton, and Tarik Cohen will dominate targets. … Colts K Adam Vinatieri (groin) didn't practice on Wednesday. The Colts may need to sign a kicker if Vinatieri can’t go for Sunday’s game against Oakland. … Khalil Mack (ankle) didn't practice on Wednesday. Mack still isn’t 100 percent as shown by his usage, which was mainly dropping into zone coverage rather than pass-rushing. This obviously limits his effectiveness, but he is still dominant. What the Bears do with him will be something to watch for this week. … Marlon Mack (ankle) was limited at Wednesday's practice. This is a new injury for Mack who has struggled with injuries in the past. He should still be good to go this Sunday against Oakland. … Dolphins placed WR Albert Wilson (hip) on injured reserve. This was expected and Wilson won’t return this year. … NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports Vikings LG Tom Compton has been diagnosed with a sprained MCL. Danny Isidora will slide in his place if he site, further compounding the Vikings offensive line issues.