It’s hard to stay up to date with absolutely everything that went down in NFL Week 8. Obviously you know the big storylines—Michael Carter running wild (told ya) and Amari Cooper returning to elite WR1 form for starters—but it’s important to also note minor storylines, ones that might have more actionable fantasy football takeaways.
I’ve gone game-by-game to bring you the biggest fantasy narrative to come out of each game.
Eagles vs Lions: Philly’s Backfield Leader Isn’t Kenneth Gainwell
Sometimes football makes sense. Clyde Edwards-Helaire goes down, Darrel Williams fills in perfectly. Sometimes football likes to stab a knife into your back and twist hard. Like hard hard.
After a full week of hyping up Kenneth Gainwell as the Eagles’ new lead back with Miles Sanders out, it was Boston Scott and Jordan Howard who instead led the charge. Just like we all expected.
Boston Scott's second TD of the day! #FlyEaglesFly
— NFL (@NFL) October 31, 2021
Gainwell played only 20 snaps with the vast majority of those coming in the fourth quarter once the Eagles put in their backups. I’m not dropping Gainwell just yet, but I’m damn sure adding Boston Scott with the Eagles playing the Chargers bad run defense in Week 9.
Bengals vs Jets: Michael Carter is HERE (As Long As Mike White Starts)
I said both Michael Carter and Ty Johnson were sleeper starts on last week’s starts & sits show and boy was I right. Carter went off against the Bengals, rushing for 77 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and catching 9 balls for 95 yards. Johnson added 15 yards rushing and 71 yards and a touchdown through the air.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) October 31, 2021
Mike White in his first start threw the ball for over 400 yards with over 40% of his attempts going to his two running backs. For as long as White is in for the injured Zach Wilson, Carter and Johnson are both reliable fantasy starts. Carter should be considered a RB2 from here on out while Johnson has serious flex value especially in PPR leagues.
Also, don’t panic about Ja’Marr Chase. The Jets defense has been actually one of the best at limiting wide receiver fantasy production and Chase was bound for a slow day eventually.
Panthers vs Falcons: Wishing the Best For Calvin Ridley
It was announced just before the game Sunday that Ridley would be inactive once again for personal reasons. During the game, Ridley tweeted this:
— CALVIN RIDLEY (@CalvinRidley1) October 31, 2021
It can be easy to loose sight of the fact that the players on your fantasy team are people and everyone of them is dealing with more than we know. I hope Ridley takes all the time he needs to get mentally healthy and figure out what’s best for him.
In the meantime, don’t go wild adding Falcons’ wide receivers. Atlanta might be the Cordarrelle Patterson/Kyle Pitts show and you’ve missed the boat adding those players. Tajae Sharpe has had two 50+ yard games in his last three so isn’t a bad add if you’re in a very deep league or dying at wide receiver. Still, I wouldn’t go breaking the bank for any Falcons’ wideout.
Rams vs Texans: Still Don’t Invest in Houston’s Backfield
If you were hoping Mark Ingram getting traded back to the Saints would help narrow this Texans’ backfield down, think again. Four different running backs touched the ball at least three times for Houston Sunday. Scottie Phillips (who!?) led the team with five carries, while Rex Burkhead led in total touches with seven, and scored the lone touchdown on the ground. Burkhead led the backfield in snaps as well, playing just under 50%.
If you’re SUUUPER desperate at running back, Burkhead seems to be the guy to add. But let me just stress again HOW desperate you’d have to be. It’s SUPER with like 15 U’s.
Titans at Colts: Derrick Henry Might Be Done For the Year
I was going to talk about how good Michael Pittman is and how bad Carson Wentz is but then this news broke as I was writing this:
Titans’ RB Derrick Henry suffered a potentially season-ending foot injury during Sunday’s 34-31 win over Indianapolis, sources reported ESPN. Henry is undergoing an MRI today to determine the full extent of the damage.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 1, 2021
Devastating. Obviously we will wait with baited breath to see the significance of the injury, but if Henry is done for the year, that’s going to leave a lot of fantasy teams—and the Titans—scrambling. With Henry missing at least some period of time, Jeremy McNichols is the Titans’ No. 2 back and would instantly become a must-roster and start in all likelihood.
I hate injuries.
Steelers vs Browns: D’Ernest Johnson Still Has Value
Many, myself included, thought that the return of Nick Chubb would tank Johnson’s fantasy value. However, instead of Johnson being replaced by Chubb, Johnson replaced the still-injured Kareem Hunt vs the Steelers. Chubb led the backfield in snaps and touches but Johnson saw work in the passing game and vultured a touchdown.
D'Ernest juked out TWO people 😳
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 31, 2021
Do not drop Johnson and he might be worth starting in the coming weeks as the Browns have favorable matchups vs the Bengals, Patriots, and Lions next.
49ers vs Bears: Buy Now on Brandon Aiyuk
Aiyuk has been one of the biggest disappointments this fantasy season with many expecting him to supplant Deebo Samuel as the 49ers’ WR1. Obviously that hasn’t happened and instead Aiyuk has been cast aside in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Well, it might not be for long.
The 49ers coaching staff is gaslighting us about Aiyuk. He somehow finds away to stand out even though they won’t feature him. Great route here pic.twitter.com/dUenAxmkC8
— Theo Ash (@TheoAshNFL) November 1, 2021
Against the Bears, Aiyuk played his highest snap percentage and saw his most targets of the season. He outsnapped Samuel and ran more routes. This is very encouraging for Aiyuk managers as we’ve been waiting to see the second-year receiver return to a WR1 workload in San Francisco. With the Niners set to face one of the easiest pass schedules the rest of the year, now’s the time to buy Aiyuk.
Also, Justin Fields remembered he can run really fast. That’s great for fantasy managers.
Dolphins vs Bills: Add DeVante Parker, Don’t Worry About Jaylen Waddle
We knew this was going to be a tough matchup for Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins’ passing game. The Bills’ defense is one of the best in the league and they know how to shut opposing offense down. Even still, Parker, after missing three games due to a hamstring injury, still managed to find solid production Sunday. The veteran receiver finished with 8 catches on 11 targets for 85 yards. There’s rumors that he might be traded at the deadline but it’s clear, be it in Miami or elsewhere, he can put up fantasy numbers.
While Waddles’ stat-line isn’t as nice as Parker’s, fantasy managers shouldn’t worry about his down week. The rookie led all pass catchers in snaps (65) and targets (12), and ran the second-most routes (40). He’ll bounce-back Week 9 vs the Texans.
Jaguars vs Seahawks: Monitor James Robinson’s Injury
James Robinson played just eight snaps Sunday before leaving the game with an heel injury. Carlos Hyde led the backfield in his place, carrying the ball 9 times for 32 yards and catching 6-of-8 targets for 40 yards. If Robinson misses significant time, Hyde appears to be the top back in Jacksonville.
Also, Jamal Angew is I guess the Jaguars new No. 1 receiver so that’s cool. He’s seen at least six targets over the last three weeks. Against the Seahawks, he led the team with 12. TWELVE! He’s worth adding and starting for as long as Trevor Lawrence wants to force-feed him the ball.
Double also, Dan Arnold should also be added off waivers. The tight end has seen 23 targets over the last three games, 10 vs the Hawks. He’s also gone over 60 yards in two of his last three games.
Patriots vs Chargers: Patriots’ D/ST is Rounding Into Form
Don’t say I never give you some D/ST advice in this column! New England’s defense has been one of the better fantasy squads this season but have been particularly good the last two games. They easily handled the Jets in Week 7 and then stymied Justin Herbert and the Chargers Sunday. They recorded multiple sacks and interceptions in both those games and now take on a struggling Panthers’ offense in Week 9.
GO ADRIAN!!@Phillips_17 pick-six for the lead!
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 31, 2021
Also, if you’re still holding onto Jared Cook—which 62% of you on Sleeper are—it might be time to move on. Cook has barely gone over 20 yards receiving in five of his seven games this season and Sunday was another such dud. He was targeted just 4 times despite running 29 routes against the Patriots.
Washington vs Broncos: Antonio Gibson Becoming an Afterthought?
Remember when we all thought Gibson was going to be DC Run CMC this year? I do. That clearly has not been the case as Gibson has seen his playing time shrink by the week. Now this isn’t all his fault as Gibson seems to chronically be dealing with a shin injury. It’s prevented him from playing above 42% of the snaps over the last three weeks for Washington.
In Gibson’s stead, J.D. McKissic and Jaret Patterson have been taking over the backfield. McKissic led the backfield in snaps and targets, catching all 8 for 83 yards vs the Broncos. Rookie Patterson meanwhile led the backfield in carries for the first time, racking up 46 yards on 11 attempts.
Washington is headed to their bye this week which might be just what Gibson managers need. Still, this backfield is not as clear as it once was and both McKissic and Patterson should be rostered moving forward.
Buccaneers vs Saints: Jameis Winston’s Injury Changes Saints Offense
Winston left Sunday’s game with what’s feared to be a “significant” knee injury. Trevor Siemian came in for Winston Sunday but that was only because Taysom Hill wasn’t able to play due to a concussion. With Winston likely set to miss time, Hill would seemingly become the Saints new starting QB. He instantly becomes a must-add and play given his rushing floor. This also would nuke every Saints’ pass catcher and make Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram (who played well in his Saints return) the only really viable fantasy pieces in New Orleans.
Also, with Antonio Brown out, Chris Godwin is the WR1 everything thought he’d be with Tom Brady. Godwin AVERAGED 11.5 targets, 8 catches, 125.5 yards and a touchdown the last two weeks with Brown out. And I made a dumb wheel bet that he wouldn’t be a WR30 those weeks. Lol.
Cowboys vs Vikings: Justin Jefferson’s Injury Is Worrisome
Jefferson had a complete dud vs the Cowboys, catching just 2 of his 4 targets for 21 yards. He left the game early in the third with an injury but was able to return. However, he was clearly hobbled on the field and it showed in the stats. We’ll hopefully see this week the extent of the injury ahead of the Vikings’ Week 9 matchup vs the Ravens. That being said, the Vikings offense seems like such a mess right now that who knows what to make of this squad anymore. All I know is Primetime Kirk Cousins never disappoints in how much he disappoints.