Doug Baldwin: Keep reading and you’ll realize that I am down on the Seahawks passing attack, but that does NOT mean that there isn’t value to be had. In his first game since the Percy Harvin trade, Baldwin ran 39 routes, his second most this season. Harvin was dealt mid-week and the team had very little time to adjust, but it was obvious that they wanted to involve Baldwin (not that he wasn’t in the game-plan to begin with; he has played 89 percent of the snaps this season). Jermaine Kearse should absorb the deep targets and I am not buying Marshawn Lynch’s increased workload in the passing game, thus leaving a vacancy in the short-to-intermediate passing game. Enter Baldwin. He was targeted 11 times, matching his greatest two game total this season, and hauled in a 49-yard pass, his third straight game with a reception of at least 20 yards. Look for the Seahawks to get back to their physical brand of football, but Baldwin’s involvement on third down this season (nine receptions for 136 yards) gives him a higher floor than you’d expect, even with the projected regression in the aerial attack.
Sammy Watkins: The talent is blatantly obvious and the Fantasy greatness finally followed in Week 7 (nine catches on 14 targets for 122 yards and two touchdowns). This is far from a flash in the pan and the train of thought is simple.
The Bills lost their two primary running backs to injury on Sunday.
Next on the schedule are four stingy run defenses.
Watkins has more TD receptions than all other Buffalo WRs this season.
Need I say more? They may not feel like a pass-happy offense in which the number one receiver is a weekly must start, but it kinda is. It’s not an explosive unit in Buffalo, but the volume appears to be real and so is the talent – 100 percent.
Denard Robinson: He was given carries early in Week 7 and produced at a very reasonable level, so the Jags rode the hot hand. However, Toby Gerhart (foot) will be back soon and Storm Johnson is healthy (unproductive, but healthy), making it difficult to immediately anoint DRob as the unquestioned starter and a weekly Fantasy asset. After all, he was a quarterback at Michigan. Can he take the consistent beating of the NFL? My guess is yes … kind of. His 6’0″, 197 pound frame isn’t perfect, but it should be able to withstand a workload in the 12-17 touch range. Either the Jags scale him back to a more reasonable workload (22 carries on Sunday), or they’ll be rolling the dice with his long-term health. In either event, his Fantasy value will come down from his Week 7 explosion but should be enough to keep him relevant, especially with six teams on bye in Week 9.
Stepfan Taylor: If you own Andre Ellington, does it not feel as if you are flirting with the devil? A foot injury early in the season was supposed to keep him sidelined but he never missed a game. The Week 4 bye came at a good time, as you assumed you’d get Ellington at full strength sooner rather than later, but then he suffers a rib injury in the final moments of the first half on Sunday and you begin to question whether he is indeed the RB1 you were hoping for. He surprised the coaching staff and came out ready to rumble in the second half (his 30 touches were a career-high and his 160 yards a season-best), once again providing his Fantasy owners with optimism. Even so, Stepfan Taylor totaled 59 yards and two scores on his 14 touches and at times took over the backfield for an entire series. The second year back out of Stanford also saw four touches inside the Raiders’ five-yard line, a role that is worth monitoring. It is not time to panic if you are an Ellington owner, he is still the far superior back, and Taylor’s workload was, at least in part, due to Oakland’s inability to stop the run at all. But Taylor is a handcuff worth owning, as he is the clear backup option should Ellington succumb to injury.
Russell Wilson: They won a Super Bowl with a running game and a physical defense. They’ve lost two in a row with Wilson putting up monster numbers …
Obviously, there is more at play than that (the defense allowing six touchdowns per interception is a good place to start), but from an offensive standpoint, this Seattle team is not built around Wilson taking over games. The trade of Percy Harvin may have been a good locker room move, but it’s a tough sell to Fantasy owners, as losing talent is rarely a move in the right direction. Wilson went through a similar rushing binge last season (240 rush yards over the last three weeks, the exact same amount he had in Weeks 4-6 last season). It’s a nice way to rack up Fantasy points, but it is far from consistent (after that three game stretch last season, Wilson went 16 straight games without eclipsing 50 rush yards). If you own him, target an owner that is chasing his two historic performances and choosing to ignore the two-plus seasons of good, not great, Fantasy production.
All Redskins skill players: The constant change at the quarterback position scares me, and with Robert Griffin III expected back at practice this week, we will likely see another change under center sooner rather than later (my money would be after the Week 10 bye). DeSean Jackson’s deep receiving skills require being on the same page as his quarterback, as does Garcon’s volume-based reception game. Jordan Reed played 91 percent more snaps than Niles Paul last week, theoretically making him the TE option to own here, but his very low aDOT (average depth of target) allowed Paul to rack up more yards in Week 7 than Reed. A time share at the position is going to limit the upside for both players and the rotating door at quarterback makes it increasingly unlikely that either tight end finds a rhythm and distances himself. Alfred Morris has been less than spectacular but should continue to see his standard workload, making him the least affected by the chaos that is this offense. For the rest of the season, neither Garcon nor Jackson rank within my Top 20 receivers and neither tight end is worth owning in a standard sized league right now.
With the weeks dwindling, the odds of benefiting from the original “locks” segment are low. So instead of going with the standard three locks, two values, and one upset special format, I’m picking every game. This allows you to sift through the teams you’ve already used and find the winners I feel the best about.
Denver vs San Diego
Atlanta vs Detroit
Kansas City vs St. Louis
Houston @ Tennessee
Minnesota @ Tampa Bay
Seattle @ Carolina
Baltimore @ Cincinnati
Miami @ Jacksonville
Chicago @ New England
Buffalo @ New York Jets
Arizona vs Philadelphia
Cleveland vs Oakland
Indianapolis @ Pittsburgh
Green Bay @ New Orleans
Dallas vs Washington
Week 8 Mail Bag
@BigSteveMills: Looking for a 1 week play in PPR. Roll with Crowell vs Oak or use my high waiver priority on Mason, Bryce, Dixon, Rainey?
Answer: Give me Mason. I buy that Crowell is a very talented running back that is capable of being a Fantasy asset if given a consistent workload. That, however, is one GIANT “if.” Mason, on the other hand, has a much clearer path to a stable level of involvement and has popped off the screen in his two games as a professional. What is the ceiling for Crowell this week? Maybe another 11 carry effort in a blowout? Mason was handed the ball 18 times against a Seahawks defense that shuts down the run in a game in which their quarterback couldn’t miss (18/21) and Tavon Austin Carried the ball five times. Crowell may be a bit more explosive, but Mason offers similar explosive upside without the floor of less than 10 touches. The running back in Buffalo is not one I want any part of this weekend, as they are likely to play the hot hand. The issue there? There may not be a hot hand to be had against the elite run defense of the Jets. Bobby Rainey’s workload is trending in the wrong direction and that’s enough to earn him a spot on my bench. Mason ranks as a fringe RB2 this week for me and I might be a shade low.
Answer: No. Not yet at least. The Saints appear set on getting Ingram a heavy workload, even though Khiry Robinson seems to be the superior talent, and with Jimmy Graham/Pierre Thomas injured, New Orleans is going to need to establish the run game as their short passing game is not what it once was. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in the camp that thinks Ingram is more than a JAG (“Just Another Guy”), but I’m more confident in his current workload than that of Robinson. Give Robinson another week to prove himself and then re-evaluate with Jacksonville facing two of the four worst run defenses (in terms of yards per carry allowed) in the league in Weeks 9-10.
Week 8 DraftKings Lineup
QB – Jay Cutler @ NE
RB – Jamaal Charles vs STL
RB – Le’Veon Bell vs IND
WR – Brandon Marshall @ NE
WR – Sammy Watkins @ NYJ
WR – Vincent Jackson vs MIN
TE – Zach Ertz @ ARI
FLEX – Marshawn Lynch @ CAR
D/ST – New York Jets vs BUF
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