Last night’s game was close, but it wasn’t particularly well played as the Packers outlasted the Cardinals 24-21 after both teams threw away golden opportunities. Unless you started Aaron Jones, Randall Cobb, Chase Edmonds, or James Conner, it wasn’t a great night for your Fantasy team either. And, outside of Jones, that’s not exactly the ’27 Yankees of Fantasy options, there.
Of course, if you have Austin Ekeler, the worst news of your day came well before that game even kicked off. Ekeler missed Thursday’s practice for the Chargers with a hip injury, throwing his status for Sunday’s game against the Patriots very much into question. We don’t have any more details than that at this point, so as of Friday morning, this is one of the key situations we’re going to have to watch this weekend. If you roster Ekeler, I highly suggest you start making alternate plans.
In the rest of today’s newsletter, I’ll recap that Packers-Cardinals game and then go through every game on the schedule to give you updates on every injury you need to know about. Of course, it’s not just Ekeler. I’ve got answers to the toughest lineup decisions you’re facing and some key storylines for each game, too.
And if that doesn’t answer all of your lineup questions, send them my way at [email protected] with the subject line “#AskFFT” and they’ll get included in my Sunday morning mailbag — plus, you can catch the Fantasy Football Today YouTube stream Sunday morning at 11:30 am where Adam Aizer and I will be answering all of your lineup questions before the games.
Get ready for Week 8 with all of our preview content here:
And here’s what the rest of today’s newsletter has in store to help you get ready for Week 8:
- 🏈TNF Fantasy Recap: Packers 24, Cardinals 21
- 🔍Week 8 Game Previews: Vegas notes, lineup decisions, and injury updates
🏈TNF: Packers 24, Cardinals 21
- The big takeaway: As it turns out, quarterbacks need their wide receivers. With Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling all out for the Packers and DeAndre Hopkins limited to just 13 snaps due to hamstring injury on the Cardinals side, Aaron Rodgers really struggled to move the ball while Kyler Murray had his worst game of the season. Both should be fine moving forward, but the Cardinals’ struggles may help my “maybe they’ll start leaning on Hopkins more often moving forward” hypothesis come true. They have a lot of weapons in the passing game, but with Hopkins limited, nobody stepped up. How good is Hopkins, by the way? Two catches for 66 yards on a bum hamstring, and he actually had what could have been a 61-yard touchdown if not for a face mask penalty as he tried to keep the defender off him. Still, 5.1 yards per route run isn’t bad.
- Robert Tonyan left this game with what looked like a potentially serious knee injury, while both Hopkins and Chase Edmonds briefly left the game — Hopkins with the hamstring issue, while Edmonds suffered a shoulder injury. Edmonds played through a shoulder injury a few weeks ago and it did seem to limit him, but he was back out there to close out this game and had seven carries to just five for James Conner, in addition to three catches for 39 yards. Of course, while Edmonds did finally score his first touchdown of the season, Conner added two more, giving him eight for the season.
- Winner: Aaron Jones had 24 PPR points as he continues to dominate in Adams’ absence, but I’m going to call Edmonds the biggest winner from this one. Assuming the shoulder is OK, I’m back to being optimistic about him as an RB2 moving forward. He’s playing more snaps than Conner nearly every week, he’s heavily involved in the passing game, and he’s out-rushed Conner in consecutive weeks. Yes, Conner will score a bunch of touchdowns, but Edmonds will also score more frequently than he has moving forward, and his role is simply much more predictable and valuable in this offense. Also … I guess everyone who started Randall Cobb is a winner. He had three catches for 15 yards and was a terrible Fantasy play, but he scored two touchdowns, so it’s fine. Rather be lucky than good.
- Loser: Kyler Murray. This was a bad game for Murray. He had several opportunities to hit on big plays and sailed a couple of throws. He just generally didn’t look right, and you saw that most acutely on his game-ending interception in the end zone, as he threw to A.J. Green, who just never turned his head around. Murray finished with 274 yards on 33 attempts with two interceptions and no touchdowns — good for just 9 Fantasy points.
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🔍Week 8 game previews
There’s something to watch in every game on the NFL schedule every week, even if you have to squint to see it sometimes. This week, however, there are so many unanswered questions that it’s hard to settle on just one thing for each game. Here’s a look ahead at every Week 8 game, with some notes on what Vegas is expecting to see, some lineup help and one thing to watch for from each game:
All odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.
Eagles at Lions
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Eagles -3.5; 48 O/U
- Implied totals: Eagles 25.75-Lions 22.25
The Eagles lead the league in fourth-quarter scoring. The Lions are ninth. Let’s see if these two teams can manage to get their offenses going earlier this week.
- Injuries: Miles Sanders (ankle/foot) — Sanders has been held out practice this week and isn’t expected to play Sunday … DeVonta Smith (headache) — Smith missed Wednesday’s practice but was back out there in full Thursday, which is a great sign. Expect him to play … T.J. Hockenson (ankle/knee)/D’Andre Swift (groin)/Jamaal Williams (thigh) — These three have been on the injury report more often than not this season, but they’ve been out there every Sunday. We expect that to continue this week.
- Toughest lineup decision: Kenneth Gainwell — Start. He’s not a must-start, even in PPR, because there are questions about how much he is likely to split time with Boston Scott, but it’s going to be tough to go away from Gainwell unless you have obviously better options. The Lions are a pretty bad defense and Gainwell figures to see a healthy role in the passing game in addition to splitting carries with Scott, and we’ve seen they trust him in the green zone (inside the 10-yard line), so there’s a chance here for a big game.
- What we’re watching for: The RB split in Philadelphia, obviously — Jordan Howard may also be active for this game, and it wouldn’t be totally shocking if he had a role in the running game too, which wouldn’t be ideal. Otherwise, there really aren’t many moving pieces on these offenses — I would like to see more consistency from Devonta Smith and a bigger role for Dallas Goedert than he had last week, sure, but the roles seem pretty set here. It will be interesting to see if the Lions continue to funnel more of their WR targets to Kalif Raymond than Amon-Ra St. Brown as they did last week, but I’m not sure either has enough upside for that to really matter.
Bengals at Jets
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Bengals -10.5; 43 O/U
- Implied totals: Bengals 26.75-Jets 16.25
With the way the Bengals defense and Jets offense have been playing, the Bengals might need to score 44 to top the over/under in this one.
- Injuries: Zach Wilson (knee) — Wilson is expected to miss 2-4 weeks with a sprained PCL … Corey Davis (hip) — Davis was added to the injury report after being limited by this injury Thursday. Something to monitor.
- Toughest lineup decision: Tee Higgins — Start. Week 7 was Higgins’ season so far in miniature. He didn’t have a bad Fantasy game with 13.2 points, but it was a real disappointment in a game in which he had 15 targets. The targets have been there for Higgins all season, but his yards per target is down to 6.0 from 8.4 as a rookie. If you have faith in his skills — and I do — you have to believe much better days are coming for Higgins. He’s a borderline WR2 for me as long as he remains in his current role.
- What we’re watching for: 14 of White’s 32 targets went to running backs after Zach Wilson’s injury, was that just a function of him being thrown into the middle of the game, or if that’s how he’s going to play. I’m optimistic enough to view Michael Carter as an RB2, especially in PPR leagues, but I wouldn’t trust any of the other pass catchers on this team. On the Bengals side, it sure seems like as long as Samaje Perine is active, Joe Mixon is going to have a minimal role in the passing game. I’ll hold out hope I’m wrong every week.
Panthers at Falcons
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Falcons -3; 46.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Falcons 24.75-Panthers 21.75
These are two offenses moving in separate directions, with the Falcons starting to figure things while Sam Darnold is starting to turn back into the Jets version of himself.
- Injuries: Terrace Marshall (concussion) — Marshall still hasn’t practiced this week, so don’t expect to see him Sunday.
- Toughest lineup decision: Calvin Ridley – Start. To be clear, Ridley shouldn’t be someone you actually have a decision to make about, but I just want to make sure we’re all on the same page — start him. I went into a lot of detail about why I’m just not that worried about Ridley in Thursday’s Ask FFT Mailbag, so check that out here.
- What we’re watching for: For the Falcons, first and foremost, we’ll be watching the running game. Cordarrelle Patterson took the lead runner role in Week 7, with 14 carries to four for Mike Davis. However, Davis still played 38 snaps in that game, while Patterson actually played his biggest role of the season as a wide receiver as well. That’s a good sign for Patterson’s value, but it doesn’t necessarily mean Davis is done. There could still be room for both to be Fantasy relevant, though I’d rather see Patterson get more touches if it came to that. On the Panthers side, let’s see if this soft matchup can’t get Sam Darnold going. He’s really struggled of late, with seven interceptions to just four touchdowns in his past four games, and it’s holding the offense down. If he can’t get going, nothing else really matters.
Dolphins at Bills
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Bills -14; 46.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Bills 30.25-Dolphins 16.25
The Bills have outscored the Dolphins 249 to 133 in Josh Allen’s seven career games against them. They haven’t lost since December of 2018, Allen’s rookie season.
- Injuries: Dawson Knox (hand) — Knox isn’t going to play this week after undergoing surgery to repair his fractured hand. Tommy Sweeney could emerge as a useful streaming option in his absence, but I’ll let him show me that first … DeVante Parker (hamstring) — Parker seems like he’s close to returning, but I wouldn’t want to start him just yet. Especially not against this matchup … Will Fuller (finger) — Fuller is eligible to return from IR but is not expected to play this week. It doesn’t seem as if he has been able to practice yet, so he may not be all that close, even.
- Toughest lineup decision: Myles Gaskin — Start. I usually try to stay level-headed about a player’s value throughout the season, so I apologize for the way I’ve bounced around on Gaskin. This time, however, I think there’s actually real reason to be optimistic following Malcolm Brown’s injury. Brown was taking some key third down and goal-line work from Gaskin, and while I don’t think he’s going to get all of it, I don’t know if they trust Salvon Ahmed any more than they do Gaskin, so it’s a net win for the starter. He’ll probably need to have a big role in the passing game to be start-able in this game, but that’s the one thing he’s mostly had this season.
- What we’re watching for: This is such a tough matchup for the Dolphins, so it would be really, really impressive if Tua Tagovailoa continued playing well. Obviously the RB split without Brown will be worth keeping an eye on, as will the passing game hierarchy if Parker plays. My guess is we’ll continue to see a lot of short-area Jaylen Waddle targets, while Mike Gesicki and Parker may have trouble making plays down the field. On the Bills side, things seem pretty settled, but I’ll continue to watch how they use their running backs; the current split makes it hard to really trust either Zack Moss or Devin Singletary.
Steelers at Browns
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Browns -3.5; 42.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Browns 23-Steelers 19.5
Neither offense seems likely to blow the door off in this one.
- Injuries: Nick Chubb (calf) — Chubb is expected to play assuming he can avoid a setback. So far, so good … Odell Beckham (shoulder)/Jarvis Landry (knee) — Both were limited at practice Thursday. They’re both likely going to try to play, but seeing as both also couldn’t make it through the last game, expectations should be low even if they do play … Baker Mayfield (left shoulder) — Apropos of nothing, I find it kind of amusing that the Browns are specifying on the official injury report that this is Mayfield’s non-throwing shoulder. Not sure why, it just seems weirdly insistent. He’s going to try to play through this injury as long as he can, and it seems like it’s mostly a question of pain tolerance. However, it’s fair to wonder just how good Mayfield can be right now, because he didn’t look great when trying to play through it earlier.
- Toughest lineup decision: D’Ernest Johnson — Sit. I could see Johnson playing a pretty decent role even with Chubb back, but I’m just not sure I believe the Browns are going to trust him in the same way they do Hunt. He may get 10 or so carries and a few targets, but given the other health issues, I’m just not sure that role is enough for him to be worth starting unless you’re pretty desperate. .
- What we’re watching for: Health. Hopefully the Browns aren’t rushing Chubb back too soon, because they really can’t afford a setback from him — not a week after seeing both Landry and Beckham aggravate their injuries. Basically every important skill player for the Browns is banged up right now, which means the most important thing for this offense at this point is getting through the game healthy. Besides Chubb, my preference would be to not start anyone here. On the Steelers side, we mostly know how this offense is going to work, but it will be interesting to see if Pat Freiermuth’s increased role in Week 6 (seven targets) might lead to a second-half breakout.
Titans at Colts
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Colts -2.5; 51 O/U
- Implied totals: Colts 26.75-Titans 24.25
Both of these teams love to run, but the Colts might be best served putting more of an emphasis on the passing game against the Titans’ vulnerable defense.
- Injuries: Julio Jones (hamstring) — Jones has been held out of both days of practice so far, which is actually a step back from last week, when he was limited Thursday. I have no idea if that means he suffered another setback or the Titans are just continuing to be careful with him, but it’s not ideal … T.Y. Hilton (quad) — Hilton was upgraded to a limited practice, which is a good sign as he tries to come back from the injury, but at this point, I’m not assuming he plays until he’s cleared … Jonathan Taylor/Nyheim Hines (ribs) — Both were limited in practice Wednesday and then participated in full Thursday. I assumed this wasn’t something to be worried about, but it’s nice to have that confirmation.
- Toughest lineup decision: Julio Jones — Sit. I still have faith that, at some point, Jones is going to end up being a must-start Fantasy option but he needs to get healthy soon. Until that happens and you can count on him playing 75% of the snaps or more you can’t trust Jones yet. Keep him stuck on your bench and hope you see a breakout this week.
- What we’re watching for: I would love to see Jones have that breakout game, obviously. He and A.J. Brown are arguably the most talented receiving pair in the NFL, and this could be an even more dangerous offense if he gets going. On the Colts side, I want to see how Michael Pittman is used if Hilton does make his return — he’s been getting WR1 targets this season, but had just three targets in the only game Hilton played.
Rams at Texans
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Rams -14.5; 47.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Rams 31-Texans 16.5
The Texans probably don’t have a chance in this one either way, but based on what we’ve seen so far, let’s just hope Tyrod Taylor comes back.
- Injuries: Tyrod Taylor (hamstring) — Taylor is getting close to returning from his injury, and he’ll be the starter whenever he does get back. Hopefully that will come this week, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet. If he can make it to Sunday without a setback, however, his chances look pretty good. That would be good news for the Texans offense, which scored more touchdowns in a game and a half with Taylor (six) than in five and a half with Davis Mills (four).
- Toughest lineup decision: David Johnson — Start. Obviously, Johnson isn’t a must start. However, with Mark Ingram out of the picture, he very well may be the lead back for the Texans, and if not, he’ll only be splitting with Phillip Lindsay. Even if Lindsay is the lead runner for the Texans, Johnson’s role in the passing game makes him the better option, and a top-30 option at running back.
- What we’re watching for: We want to see how the Texans replace Ingram, though it’s worth remembering this isn’t likely to be a particularly high upside role either way. Taylor’s return would help, and hopefully that would be enough to get Brandin Cooks going as well — though it seems like Cook may not be long for the Texans based on his reaction to the Ingram trade. Maybe one last big game may help his trade value? I find it hard to sit Cooks given his massive target share, and I would definitely start him if Taylor plays. On the Rams side, I’ll be watching Robert Woods to see if they get him more involved, because he had just 11 targets in his past two games and is now on pace for fewer in 17 games than he had in 16 in 2020. At some point defenses are going to try to take Cooper Kupp away, right? Well, maybe not this defense.
49ers at Bears
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: 49ers -4; 39.5 O/U
- Implied totals: 49ers 21.75-Bears 17.75
Well, I think the implied totals tell you just about everything you need to know about where these two offenses are right now.
- Injuries: Deebo Samuel (calf) — Samuel was upgraded to limited participation after sitting out Wednesday’s session, which is certainly a good sign. Hopefully he continues to progress and is out on the field Sunday, because he’s a top-10 WR as long as he’s out there … Trey Lance (knee) — Lance has been limited both days in practice, a good sign that he’s making progress, but obviously not a guarantee that he’ll be able to play. He won’t start even if he does, but he could be in line for some playing time if the 49ers opt to sit Jimmy Garoppolo.
- Toughest lineup decision: Khalil Herbert — Start. Truth be told, there really aren’t many tough lineup decisions to be made in this one — Deebo Samuel is a must-start guy, Herbert and Elijah Mitchell are starter candidates, and you can pretty much ignore the rest of this game. Herbert is going to be a top-12 RB for a lot of people after he racked up 197 yards, seven receptions, and 48 receiving yards plus a touchdown over the past two games. I’m less sure he’s going to be great, mostly because I’m not convinced he’s an 80% snap share guy moving forward — was Damien Williams‘ limited role last week because his conditioning wasn’t up to par after his bout with COVID-19, or do they just really view Herbert as a legitimate three-down back? Plus, this is still a dreadful offense overall. But I think you probably need to start him unless you have two really good options — he’s RB17 for me.
- What we’re watching for: At some point, things have to click for Justin Fields, but I’m not going to expect it. And I can’t say it’s just because of the play calling — while I don’t think Matt Nagy has done him any favors with his lack of trust in Fields as both a runner and a passer, Fields hasn’t exactly elevated the situation either. And that’s the kind of talent we thought he might be. Maybe that’s asking too much of him right now, but I’m super pessimistic about this offense at this point. How could you not be? They have six offensive touchdowns in five games. Until Fields plays better, nothing else really matters. On the 49ers side, it’s going to be interesting to see how much leash Kyle Shanahan has with Garoppolo if Lance is good to go. He gave a pretty tepid endorsement of him as the starter after last week’s game. I honestly don’t know whether Lance would be better or worse for the offense — Lance’s rushing could unlock quite a lot for them — but I would be a little bit worried about Samuel if Lance did take over. Lance’s on-target pass rate is just 71.7 in his 48 attempts, which would be the fourth-worst mark in the league among starters.
Jaguars at Seahawks
- Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
- Line: Seahawks -3.5; 44 O/U
- Implied totals: Seahawks 23.75-Jaguars 20.25
It’ll be interesting to see if Jacksonville’s offense looks any better coming out of the bye. They just may win this thing outright if so.
- Injuries: Alex Collins (groin)/DK Metcalf (foot) — Both were downgraded to DNP status Thursday, however the same happened last week and both played, so I’m assuming that’s just the pattern here.
- Toughest lineup decision: DK Metcalf – Start without much enthusiasm. Metcalf is the kind of player who can make you regret benching him with one play, but it’s worth acknowledging that that one play last week was the only thing separating him from being a total non-factor, and it required a pretty poor defensive effort to even get him that much. I’m too much of a coward to sit Metcalf even with Geno Smith dragging him down, but he’s barely a top-30 WR for me.
- What we’re watching for: Can the Seahawks find a way to get anything out of Smith? Of his 164 passing yards last week, 84 came on that long touchdown by Metcalf. If the answer is “no,” nothing else really matters on that offense and we just have to hope reports that Russell Wilson may be back in Week 10 after the bye aren’t just overly optimistic. On the Jaguars side, I’d like to see if, coming out of the bye, they’ve figured out a way to get Laviska Shenault going. He has one game with more than 58 yards, and much of that came on one long, broken play. He’s a unique talent who should be better for Fantasy, so let’s see if they can figure out how to use him.
Patriots at Chargers
- Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
- Line: Chargers -4.5; 49.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Chargers 27-Patriots 22.5
The Patriots don’t want to get into a shootout with Justin Herbert, and this is a matchup that could allow them to run the ball early and often.
- Injuries: Austin Ekeler (hip) — Uh oh. Oh no. A mid-week addition to the injury report is rarely good news, especially when accompanied by a DNP designation. It is worth noting we did see something similar with Ekeler in Week 1 when he was a surprise addition to the injury report with a hamstring issue that he played through, but obviously every injury is different. We don’t really have any details about this right now, but you should be making alternate plans at running back right now. Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley would likely see larger roles if Ekeler is out, as could Larry Rountree … Jonnu Smith (shoulder) — Smith has been limited in practice so far, but we don’t really know what that means when it comes to the Patriots practice reports, and we probably won’t know if Smith is playing until Sunday about 90 minutes before kickoff. His absence would probably mean higher expectations for Hunter Henry, though he would still be in the lower-end TE1 tier for me.
- Toughest lineup decision: Joshua Kelley— Sit. I’m not sure which one of Kelley or Jackson is going to be the lead back if Ekeler is out. My assumption is they’ll split work, and I don’t think either will be particularly effective running the ball against this defense, so it comes down to which one is likeliest to see work in the passing game. Jackson has out-snapped Kelley 19-8 on third downs, while neither has logged a snap in a two-minute drill, so it’s hard to say with any degree of confidence, really. Kelley has played a bigger role in the past few games, for what it’s worth. Maybe if this was Week 7 and I knew people were truly desperate, I might be able to talk myself into Kelley, but given the uncertainty around how they’ll be used, I just don’t see the point.
- What we’re watching for: How will the Chargers use their running backs, for one! On the Patriots side, it’ll be interesting to see if Rhamondre Stevenson has a role — he went from playing a third of their snaps in consecutive games to a healthy scratch last week. What he has flashed in the passing game and as a runner probably makes him the highest upside running back the Patriots have if they ever give him a sizable role.
Washington at Broncos
- Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
- Line: Broncos -3; 44.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Broncos 23.75-Football Team 20.75
If the Broncos passing game can’t turn it around with Jerry Jeudy healthy against this matchup, it might be time to seriously consider benching Teddy Bridgewater
- Injuries: Jerry Jeudy (ankle) — Jeudy has been out since catching six passes in the first half of Week 1, but all indications are he’ll be good to go this week … Terry McLaurin (hamstring) — It was reported as an ankle issue for McLaurin yesterday, which was concerning as a new injury. As it turns out, it was just the same hamstring he’s been playing through for weeks. That’s better news, especially since he was upgraded to a full participation in practice Thursday. Start him with confidence.
- Toughest lineup decision: Jerry Jeudy— Start. Don’t do something rash like sit Robert Woods for him, or something. But I’m viewing Jeudy as a starting-caliber option in his first game back. It sounds like the Broncos were sufficiently patient with him, as he was getting close to playing last week and they gave him the extra week, and we were so excited about his prospects as a breakout candidate coming into the season that I’m really excited to see what he can do against a Washington defense that has pretty much been the worst in the league against the pass. Throw him out there, why not.
- What we’re watching for: There aren’t a ton of things to watch for on Washington, at least not as long as Antonio Gibson’s shin injury remains a thing, because I can’t imagine the Football Team increasing his role while he’s battling this. Gibson has played just three snaps on pass plays on third down this season, so until that happens, he’s a pretty touchdown-reliant RB2, even in a good matchup. On the Broncos side, I want to see how Jeudy is re-integrated into the offense. Is there enough room for Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant to all be Fantasy relevant here? I think so, but Bridgewater needs to play better than he has of late — 6.4 yards per attempt with a 3.7% interception rate.
Buccaneers at Saints
- Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
- Line: Buccaneers -4.5; 49.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Buccaneers 27-Saints 22.5
This may be the Buccaneers toughest test yet on offense, against a Saints defense that held Tom Brady to two touchdowns while picking him off five times last season.
- Injuries: Antonio Brown (ankle) — Bruce Arians made it sound like he wasn’t sure when Brown would be back earlier this week, but he wouldn’t even say it would be after the team’s Week 10 bye. That’s concerning, and I’m certainly not expecting him to play this week … Rob Gronkowski (ribs) — Gronk returned to a full practice Thursday and seems all clear to play, assuming he can avoid a setback … Taysom Hill (concussion) — Hill has yet to practice since suffering the concussion in Week 5, so this is a serious issue.
- Toughest lineup decision: Mike Evans— Start. I mean, look, you’re starting Mike Evans … but should you? Evans has had a tough time against the Saints since Marshon Lattimore joined the team back in 2017. In seven games with Lattimore healthy, Evans has more than 12.6 PPR points just once. He’s averaging 52.5 yards on 3.2 catches per game with two touchdowns in those seven games. This is another one where I wouldn’t have the courage to bench Evans or to tell you to, but the track record is a little bit concerning.
- What we’re watching for: Until Michael Thomas comes back, I don’t think you can start anyone but Alvin Kamara on this roster. I know some may be tempted to try Jameis Winston against a good matchup, and maybe that will end up working, but I just don’t think he’s earned that kind of trust in a 12-team, one-QB league. On the Buccaneers side, I’ll certainly be interested to see how the Buccaneers use Gronkowski assuming he’s back, as he had eight targets in two of the first three games after having that many in just two of 20, including the playoffs, in 2020. Is he really back to being a focal point of the offense like that? I have some doubts.
Cowboys at Vikings
- Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
- Line: Vikings -2.5; 53.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Vikings 28-Cowboys 25.5
The line started at Cowboys -2.5 in this one, but Dak Prescott’s injury may have spooked folks. Prescott’s injury didn’t look too serious at the beginning of the week, but he told reporters he isn’t sure if playing this week is “just my decision.” Wonder what he’s hearing from the trainers?
- Injuries: Dak Prescott (calf) — Has been limited in practice both days this week but still has some hurdles to clear before he gets the go-ahead. My expectation right now is he will, but it’s obviously not a certainty … Michael Gallup (calf) — Gallup has been designated to return from IR and looks to be on track for a return this week, though we’re still waiting for him to actually be activated. He’s an interesting bench stash.
- Toughest lineup decision: Tony Pollard — Start. There might be some more interesting start/sit calls to make if Prescott ends up sitting out — I would probably still start Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb if Prescott is out, but it’s hard to shake memories of how bad that offense was without him last season. Dalton Schultz would be a much fringier option with Prescott and would likely drop more to the 12-15 range at tight end. Even if Prescott doesn’t play, I would start Pollard, who has seen double-digit carries in all but one game this season and might even figure to see more targets if Prescott is out and the Cowboys are struggling to move the ball.
- What we’re watching for: These teams seem to have pretty set hierarchies at this point, so there isn’t much we’re still looking to learn about them. However, it will be interesting to see whether Gallup’s potential return changes Schultz’s usage in particular. They don’t necessarily have to take away from one another, but with this being a lower-volume passing game than we expected, it might be just a bit too crowded for both.
Giants at Chiefs
- Monday, 8:15 p.m.
- Line: Chiefs -9.5; 52.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Chiefs 31-Giants 21.5
Honestly, there are probably too many moving parts on the Giants injury report to have much to say about this one right now.
- Injuries: Saquon Barkley (ankle)/Kenny Golladay (knee)/Kadarius Toney (ankle) — Did not practice. None of them have been ruled out, but I’m not expecting this trio to play at this point … Sterling Shepard (hamstring) — Limited at practice. Shepard got back to a limited practice mid-week in Week 7 before being inactive, so he seems closer than any of the other guys to returning. If he plays and the other two WRs don’t, he’ll be a top-20 WR in my rankings.
- Toughest lineup decision: Any Giants WR — It’s complicated. OK, so it’s actually not that complicated. If any one — but only one — of Toney, Shepard, or Golladay plays, you definitely start them. All three have WR1 upside if they are the focal point of the passing game in a matchup this good. If any two of them are healthy, you view them both as more like fringe WR2 options — they could be good, but honestly, we just don’t know enough about how the hierarchy will shake out with any combination of them to have a ton of confidence. If all three play, I think you probably just have to avoid them all. I don’t have a good sense for how I would rank them if all three did play, but I think it would be Shepard, Golladay, and Toney. All three would be outside of my top 40 at WR.
- What we’re watching for: Well, first, we’re watching the injury report on Saturday to see who is ruled out for the Giants. Then we’re watching the inactives report Monday about 90 minutes before kickoff to see who is actually in. And then, we’ll see how the Giants deploy whoever they have, which we then won’t really be able to use for Week 9 because some different permutation of players may be available then. And then it’s a bye in Week 10. So, yeah, I’m not expecting a ton of clarity on the Giants right now.
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