Week 8 of the fantasy football season is finally here, and the Rotoworld crew has everything you need leave the weekend with a win. Patrick Daugherty answers your lineup questions with his Week 8 Rankings, Nick Mensio tells you who to start and who to fade in Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em, and Evan Silva breaks down every matchup in his award-winning Matchups Column.
As for me, I am here to shed some light on the most important injury situations facing fantasy owners heading into the weekend. The sister resource to this column is the Rotoworld News Page, which will have every single inactive and all the late-breaking news up to kickoff and beyond. I also tweet about football (and wrestling) at @notJDaigle.
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Eagles @ Jaguars
(Friendly reminder this game is scheduled for 9:30 AM EST, so be sure and have your lineups set before laying down for the evening…)
*The Eagles will again be without (takes deep breath…) CB Sidney Jones (hamstring), S Corey Graham (hamstring), LB Nate Gerry (ankle, knee), DT Timmy Jernigan (back), and Darren Sproles (hamstring). DT Haloti Ngata (calf) is also questionable, though he did get in a full session on Friday.
*Fortunately for the Eagles, the Jaguars are arguably hampered even more throughout their defense. CBs Tyler Patmon (neck), D.J. Hayden (toe), and A.J. Bouye (calf) are all out, likely pitting either Quenton Meeks or Tre Herndon against Nelson Agholor and Jordan Matthews in the slot. Leonard Fournette (hamstring) is out through Jacksonville’s bye next week, but Carlos Hyde should be active ahead of T.J. Yeldon for the first time. The extent of Hyde’s role in this particular matchup remains unclear.
Broncos @ Chiefs
*The news of the day came when the Broncos ruled out Royce Freeman (ankle), immediately vaulting Phillip Lindsay into a top-shelf RB2. He’d typically be garnered higher sans Freeman, but Denver would ultimately need to keep this one close for Lindsay to have any shot at 20-plus touches. Third-down back Devontae Booker has run 98 routes to Lindsay’s 72 this season and could easily be dispersed if this game gets out of hand. The Chiefs are currently favored by 9.5-points at home.
Browns @ Steelers
*FS Damarious Randall (groin, ankle) should be back, but the Browns are hurting for CB E.J. Gaines (concussion) and LB Joe Schobert (hamstring) to return. Both are still out this week, bumping up Vance McDonald’s matchup over the middle of the field and JuJu Smith-Schuster’s outlook away from the Denzel Ward-Antonio Brown scuffle.
*S Morgan Burnett (groin) will be back after practicing in full throughout the week.
Redskins @ Giants
*Paul Richardson (shoulder/knee) and Chris Thompson (ribs) were limited all week and respectively slapped with questionable tags on Friday. Jamison Crowder (ankle) remains out. Richardson has notably played through injuries the past two weeks, but it’s amounted to just 7/81/1 on 10 targets. Thompson would return to his usual role, ousting Kapri Bibbs as Washington’s interim third-down back, but it’s arguably a better matchup for Adrian Peterson up the middle given the Giants’ recent fire sale of NT Damon Harrison to the Lions. Harrison earned Pro Football Focus' No. 4 grade among 169 qualifiers on the interior in run defense this season.
*The Giants will be without LB Alec Ogletree (hamstring), which may count as addition by subtraction.
Seahawks @ Lions
*The Seahawks are expecting both K.J. Wright (knee) and TE Ed Dickson (groin) back this week. Given the lack of competition at his position, Dickson will arguably return and post TE2 numbers in no time. Wright’s presence is notable if only because the Lions have skewed more run-heavy of late, limiting Matthew Stafford’s pass attempts to no more than 30 in each of his last three games, and Seattle’s defense allowed a full yard per carry less (3.87 to 4.92) with Wright on the field last year.
*Without Theo Riddick (out, knee) last week, rookie Kerryon Johnson buoyed Detroit’s vacant opportunity into season-highs in carries (19), snap rate (59.4%), and routes run (11). Ameer Abdullah was active Sunday, but he ran just five routes on seven snaps. LeGarrette Blount still punched it in on his only carry inside the five-yard line, but Johnson notably handled four carries inside the 11 (including one shot inside the 5). Whether his role increases due to standout performance or not, Johnson should continue receiving RB1 usage without Riddick for another week.
Buccaneers @ Bengals
*The Bucs will again be without DT Gerald McCoy (calf) and DE Vinny Curry (ankle) in the trenches. It’s worth noting their front-seven were still able to limit Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson to a combined 19/76/1 without Curry and McCoy last week, but that was of course with stud LB Kwon Alexander (torn ACL) manning the middle. Adarius Taylor will likely take Alexander’s place moving forward.
*The Bengals will have to weather Tampa Bay’s explosive aerial attack without Vontaze Burfict (hip) and Darqueze Dennard (shoulder). Much like last week, C Billy Price (ankle), John Ross (groin), and Giovani Bernard (knee) remain out on the other side of the ball, too. If concerned about Joe Mixon’s workload, don’t be. All four of Mark Walton’s carries Sunday night came on the team’s final drive when they trailed 45-10. Walton hasn’t run a single route compared to Mixon (55) over the last two weeks, too. Start him with confidence.
Jets @ Bears
*As if the Jets weren’t already dealing with enough injuries, Bilal Powell (neck, injured reserve) and Robby Anderson (doubtful, ankle) won’t be available against the Bears, either. That leaves Andre Roberts, Jermaine Kearse, and Charone Peake in three-wide sets with recently signed Rishard Matthews mixing in. Kearse played 64-of-71 snaps and ran 40 routes to Anderson’s 41 last week, so the usage was there. He just inexplicably received two targets to Anderson’s 10 despite working primarily from the slot. He’s still an acceptable floor play, as is Isaiah Crowell as the team’s featured back. If this one gets out of hand, though, fully expect preseason standout Trenton Cannon to step in and play the Devontae Booker role. Cannon, who ran a 4.45 40-time at the combine, turned five targets into 4/69 receiving on 16 routes just last week. Note that C Spencer Long (knee, finger) is also questionable.
*Both Allen Robinson (groin) and Khalil Mack (ankle) got in limited practices on Friday and remain question marks. They’ll reportedly go through pre-game warmups before their final statuses are determined. Mack has admittedly looked slow the past two weeks, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see him rested here. Taylor Gabriel’s outlook would undoubtedly rise without Robinson, but it would arguably make for a better matchup for slot wideout Anthony Miller. The rookie’s quietly recorded team-highs in air yards on 5.5 targets per game the past two weeks since returning from injury, and will likely line up opposite incumbent slot corner Parry Nickerson, who’s been hemorrhaged for 7/95, 8/74/2, and 7/72 the last three games.
Ravens @ Panthers
*Baltimore could quietly be down to their third-string left guard as both Alex Lewis (doubtful, neck) and Bradley Bozeman (questionable, calf) were limited this week. Bozeman was upgraded on Friday, but it’s still a worrisome injury of note. CBs Jimmy Smith (probable, groin) and Anthony Averett (probable, hamstring) were both upgraded on Friday, as of well.
*Cam Newton (shoulder) was limited throughout the week but it was reportedly for “maintenance” reasons to ensure he was healthy for Sunday. He’ll play, and remains a low-end QB1 despite the tough matchup given his elite rushing floor. Expect more reps for explosive rookie D.J. Moore and gadget WR Curtis Samuel in place of Torrey Smith (out, knee). Since Samuel made his 2018 debut post-heart procedure in Week 5, he’s run just 25 routes to Moore’s 55. The latter has also accrued nine more targets (14-5) in that span.
Colts @ Raiders
*It’s not about who’s out for the Colts as much as it’s about who’s in. Indy’s likely to have Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, Marlon Mack (ankle, questionable), Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, and LT Anthony Castonzo together on the field for the first time all year. Mack admittedly remains the most questionable of the lot but finished the week with a full practice and should be good to go. Note that his snap rate (56%) and touches (21) Sunday both qualified as career-highs. Much like Nyheim Hines, Ebron should be downgraded, too. He averaged just 17 routes and 4.5 targets behind Doyle in Indy’s first two games, but has since exploded for 37.8 and 9.6 in the team’s last five contests. He’ll return to being limited in two-tight end sets.
49ers @ Cardinals
*Matt Breida (questionable, ankle) and Richard Sherman (questionable, calf) were both upgraded to limited participants on Friday. Breida’s an interesting RB2 given his status the past few weeks. On one hand, he should continue to receive run as the team’s undeniable No. 1 back against the league’s median No. 17 rush defense DVOA. On the other hand, he’ll probably exit in the first quarter again. Pierre Garcon (shoulder, knee) is also doubtful to suit up, likely leaving the Niners with Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, and Dante Pettis (knee) in three-wide sets.
*Josh Rosen (toe), Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring, old), and Ricky Seals-Jones (forearm) were all limited to start the week but eventually removed from the team’s injury report. The real injury of note to watch here is Jermaine Gresham’s (questionable, heel) as he was downgraded to limited participation on Friday. Seals-Jones averaged 31 routes and a 95.1% snap rate in the first two weeks without Gresham. He’s averaged only 23.5 routes on 65.3% of offensive snaps since Gresham returned in Week 3.
Packers @ Rams
*Geronimo Allison (hamstring) was limited all week but removed from the team’s injury report. He’ll play. Oddly enough, it was Randall Cobb (hamstring) who got in a full session on Friday but remains listed as questionable. He’s expected to play, but would give way to Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the slot if out. Davante Adams and Allison combined for 14/161 on 25 targets the last time both played together without Cobb in the lineup (Week 4).
*Cooper Kupp (knee) will miss his second consecutive game, re-inserting Josh Reynolds back into three-wide sets for one more outing. Reynolds played the most snaps (51) among Los Angeles’ wideouts last week, but saw just one target on the third-fewest routes (15) among their starting trio.
Saints @ Vikings
*The Saints are all systems go for this potential NFC Championship preview.
*The Vikings are dealing with several significant defensive injuries at the worst possible time as Anthony Barr (hamstring) and S Andrew Sendejo (groin) have both already been both out. Xavier Rhodes (ankle) and DT Linval Joseph (ankle, knee, shoulder) are questionable. The good news is DE Everson Griffen (NIR) should return, and has the ability to impact this game even on limited reps. With Dalvin Cook out through the team’s Week 10 bye, that assumedly leaves Latavius Murray, who’s averaged 16.7 carries on 80% of offensive snaps the last three games, to run roughshod as the Vikes’ primary back. He’s seen no more than two targets in any game in that stint, but his average routes run (22.6) spell elite usage that simply hasn’t been used in check-downs. He’s a clear-cut RB2 under the lights Sunday.
Patriots @ Bills
*You can never tell with the Patriots — especially when they play a day later than the rest of the league — but as of now, Rob Gronkowski (ankle) is expected to play. The opposite holds true for Sony Michel (knee), who's considered week-to-week. Kenjon Barner handled 10 carries against the Bears and should primarily be used on early downs in this lopsided matchup. Having said that, James White is still the elite back to chase as he simply had his usage upped to a season-high 19 touches on 70% of snaps without Michel available to ice the game.
*LeSean McCoy (concussion), Chris Ivory (hamstring), and Derek Anderson (back/calf) were all limited to start the week. McCoy has the longest route to go in order to play (and has admittedly yet to clear the league's protocol as of Saturday morning), but will likely be cleared prior to Monday. Ivory’s injury is worth monitoring since it cropped up at Wednesday’s practice. His absence would lock McCoy into an every-down role (and vice versa for Ivory), increasing his floor in an otherwise unfavorable matchup.