Sunday Morning Huddle: Week Eight

Ryan McDowell

Let’s face it, there’s an enormous amount of information out there on Sunday mornings. We’re not going to waste your time by repeating the news and notes about who’s in or out this week, since that’s really not what you visit us for. We’re also not going to do another article on starts or sits this week – we already have the personalized lineup advice for you on the premium content. Again, there are 100 places you can go for that, so no reason to repeat ourselves or others.

The Sunday Morning Huddle goes through each game and states what we’re looking to see from a dynasty perspective. One player will be picked from each team who has dynasty value tied to the game – players at a pivot point where their value could increase or decrease based on opportunity and performance.



The Jaguars travel to London for their annual game as a team in turmoil. Starting quarterback Blake Bortles was benched a week ago and reports of infighting have leaked. The defense is not playing up to the level of their reputation. In general, I’ll be watching for how this team responds to these multiple issues but specifically, I’m interested to watch how the Jags manage their new backfield duo of Carlos Hyde and T.J. Yeldon. Yeldon has been forced into a workhorse role with the hamstring injury to Leonard Fournette and has played well but will certainly lose carries to Hyde.

The Eagles have also disappointed this season and are trying to find the right combination in their backfield. Starter Jay Ajayi landed on the injured reserve weeks ago and the team has used some combination of Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, and rookie Josh Adams. Clement has disappointed and has seen his playing time dip to just 37% compared to Smallwood’s 52% in week seven. Philly might look to get rookie back Josh Adams more involved. He played a season-high snap rate a week ago, though that was only 12% of the offensive plays.

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The Ravens got rookie tight end Hayden Hurst back in week five and the way they had used their tight end group in the first month was promising for the first-rounder. Surprisingly, Hurst has just one catch for seven yards in the past three games. This week, Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh suggested it was important to get Hurst move involved in the offense moving forward. The Panthers allow the second-most fantasy points in the league to opposing tight ends, so this could be Hurst’s chance at a serious role.

Carolina veteran receiver Torrey Smith is out for today’s game with a knee injury and his absence could be good news for a pair of young wideouts who need a bigger opportunity. Rookie D.J. Moore has struggled when given a chance and has seen just 9% of the team’s total targets. Curtis Samuel missed the first month of the season with a heart issue but only has 4% of the team’s looks since he returned. The good news is each player will likely see a bump in playing time and targets this week. The bad news is the Ravens defense won’t make anything easy.


In week seven, the Jets lost veteran running back Bilal Powell to a season-ending neck injury. While many expect sophomore back Elijah McGuire to eventually claim a significant role, he’s currently on the injured reserve with a foot injury. Until then, look for rookie back Trenton Cannon to hold down the pass-catching position. Last week, taking over for Powell, Cannon caught four passes for 69 yards, leading the team. Cannon is a player to look for on your waiver wire before this game kicks off and might even be worthy of a start if you’re desperate.

The Bears are in danger of playing without wide receiver Allen Robinson, who missed some practice time this week with a groin injury. If he sits or simply is not at full strength, rookie receiver Anthony Miller could see a bump in usage. Some might clamor for Taylor Gabriel but he’s already serving as a full-time player and leads the team with 30 receptions and 329 yards. Instead, it should be Miller who gets the bump. He’s already playing around 60% of the snaps but could be close to a full-time player if ARob can’t go.


The Broncos and Chiefs matchup for the second time this season. The Denver backfield rotation has been under the dynasty radar all season as rookies Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay quickly claimed the two lead roles, though incumbent Devontae Booker also claimed a role, playing 29% of the season’s snaps compared to Freeman’s 35% and 37% for Lindsay. This week, the Broncos will be without Freeman, who suffered an ankle sprain late in last week’s game. This is obviously a great spot for Lindsay in a larger role.

The Chiefs currently have the fantasy QB1 (Patrick Mahomes), RB5 (Kareem Hunt), WR3 (Tyreek Hill) and TE2 (Travis Kelce). We may have never witnessed an offense that was both this balanced and dominant and it is no longer a question if they can keep it up each week but rather, whose turn it is that game. It may not be a Hill week as the freak athlete has continued to show odd home/road splits. Hill has scored over 25 fantasy points six times in his career with all of those coming on the road. Ten of Hill’s best 12 fantasy scoring games of his career have come on the road and 15 of the top 20 occurred as a visitor.


The Browns offense has shown flashes of excitement throughout the season but each individual member has been very inconsistent. Rookie receiver Antonio Callaway is perhaps the most disappointing. Following the trade of veteran receiver Josh Gordon, Callaway had the WR2 job to himself but has not done much with it. Callaway in third on the team with 38 targets but has only hauled in 16 of those for 200 yards and a touchdown. The Browns have tried other unproven receivers with varying results but are seemingly stuck with the talented but troubled rookie for now.

Another week has gone by and holdout running back Le’Veon Bell has yet to report to the Steelers. The more time that passes, the more opportunity second-year back James Conner has to establish himself as a legitimate long-term option for both fantasy players and the Steelers. Conner is currently the RB7 for the season and has a plum matchup against a fading Browns defense. Even in a stacked group of young running backs, Conner may have claimed a spot as a dynasty RB1 moving forward.


Many projected a big week for rookie running back Kerryon Johnson last week and he came through. With pass-catching back Theo Riddick out of the lineup, Johnson played a new season-high 59% of the snaps and set new personal bests for touches (21) and total yards (179). Riddick is out again this week as the Lions host Seattle, making Johnson a near must-start yet again. With each strong performance, Johnson is also gaining dynasty value, widely considered a top 15 dynasty back.

The Seahawks will get veteran tight end Ed Dickson on the field for the first time this season. Seattle signed Dickson away from Carolina after the veteran had a bit of a breakout season in 2017. He suffered a groin injury and missed the entire preseason and the season’s first seven weeks. This might not seem like a major difference-maker but the team has struggled to find consistent production from any of their pass-catchers and tight end has been a wasteland since rookie Will Dissly’s season was ended by an injury.


Last week, Bengals wide receiver John Ross aggravated his groin injury and will now miss a few weeks. While Ross had played a relatively small role, this further solidifies the role of breakout receiver Tyler Boyd. Cincy’s slot man is primed for another big game today as no team has allowed more top fantasy performances to receivers than the Buccaneers. Boyd is the WR14 on the season.

The Buccaneers offense has been a fantasy player’s dream as both quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston have been lighting things up all season. Scott Barrett of Pro Football Focus noted that the Bucs’ 2,261 passing yards through six games are the second-most of all-time, behind only the 2000 Rams, led by Kurt Warner. With a poor defense and limited running game, Winston can be counted on to continue to put up fantasy-friendly numbers throughout the season, including this game against the Bengals, that could easily become a shootout.


The Giants play host the division rival Washington as they still try to fix their shortcomings on offense. Rookie running back Saquon Barkley (RB2) and receiver Odell Beckham (WR6) haven’t let the struggles of veteran quarterback Eli Manning slow them down. With recent moves, the Giants have signaled what was clear to all of us for a while, they can’t win this season. It won’t happen this week but I’ll be waiting for the chance to see rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta in action with this stacked offense.

The Redskins injury woes continue as receiver Jamison Crowder will miss another game with an ankle injury. This is a big opportunity for running back Chris Thompson and receiver Paul Richardson. Both are questionable this week and were out of action last week. Washington has leaned on the running game with veteran Adrian Peterson but that is at least in part due to their lack of weapons in the passing game. This could be a big week for Richardson, assuming he suits up.



Out since week two with a hip injury, Colts tight end Jack Doyle is set to return to the field today. This is obviously good news for quarterback Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis offense but could be very bad news for tight end Eric Ebron, who has finally lived up to the hype of past years. In the two games Doyle and Ebron played together to start the season, Ebron totaled seven receptions for 77 yards but did find the end zone twice. Since then, Ebron has routinely been among the top fantasy tight ends each game. That could change with Doyle back on the field.

The Raiders are back from the bye and you might not recognize this team. Starting running back Marshawn Lynch and star receiver Amari Cooper combined to handle 41% of the team’s touches through the first six games. During the bye week, the team placed Lynch on the injured reserve list and mercifully dealt Cooper to the Cowboys. Veteran running back Doug Martin is expected to slide right into the Lynch role while wideout Martavis Bryant should see a bump in usage with Cooper now in Big D.


The 49ers are yet another team with a banged-up receiving corps. Veteran Pierre Garcon has already been ruled out for today’s game but rookie receiver Dante Pettis is expected back after missing the past three games with a knee injury. We can’t count on Pettis to use in our fantasy lineups just yet but he did show flashes early in the season and should immediately regain his place in three receiver sets. Pettis has a chance to greatly grow his dynasty value with a potential late-season surge.

The Cardinals are a team every dynasty owner should be watching closely beginning this week. Following their frustrating week seven loss, Arizona dumped offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and replaced him with quarterback coach Byron Leftwich, who later would say he wanted to emulate the offense of former head coach Bruce Arians. This is music to the ears of fantasy players with hopes of salvaging a productive season for running back David Johnson and receiver Larry Fitzgerald.


For the Packers, the wide receiver depth chart remains the priority for dynasty owners. We can rest assured that Davante Adams is holding down the top spot but things get very messy after that. This offense, led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, offers so much upside to its key players, which is why dynasty owners should take a stand on just who those contributors will be. Receiver Geronimo Allison has missed time with a hamstring injury but will return for this expected high-scoring game. Veteran Randall Cobb could return as well, which would limit the short-term viability of rookies Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown, who is dealing with an injury as well.

The Rams high-powered offense is expected to again be without receiver Cooper Kupp, leaving a big piece of the pie for receiver Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods. Kupp and Cooks have maintained their status as highly-valued dynasty assets but Woods somehow remains underrated. He’s the WR7 on the season and leads the team targets (58), receptions (41), yards (602) and fantasy points (87). He’s in for another huge game in what could be a high-scoring affair.



The Vikings host the high-powered Saints in what should be one of the week’s top games. Minnesota’s wide receiver Adam Thielen is looking for his eighth consecutive game with at least 100 receiving yards and has also found the end zone in four straight. He’s been no worse than the WR6 for six consecutive games. The season he is putting together really is amazing and he is still undervalued in dynasty leagues.

In the two games veteran running back Mark Ingram has been back on the field, dynamic sophomore back Alvin Kamara has seen an undeniable drop off in playing time and production. Playing on the road is not typically a spot where quarterback Drew Brees excels, so this could be a big game for the two backs. Over the past two games, we’ve seen Ingram dominate one game and Kamara the next. This is what we should expect for the remainder of the season and the Saints continue to focus on a balanced offensive attack.



The Bills nightmare season continues as they face the Patriots on the national stage of Monday Night Football. Veteran running backs LeSean McCoy (concussion) and Chris Ivory (hamstring) have both been limited through much of the week, though both are still expected to be on the field. If either or both are not up to a full workload, we would see more of third-stringer Marcus Murphy, who totaled 70 yards on nine touches a week ago and was very active in the passing game. Murphy is a 27-year-old journeyman back and has little long-term value. It really is amazing the Bills haven’t invested more in younger players with some upside.

Last week, Patriots rookie starting back Sony Michel suffered a knee injury and while we know almost nothing about the severity, it does look like we shouldn’t expect to see the Georgia product suit up this week. That leaves veteran Kenjon Barner to play a larger role and pass-catching back James White to star. White is the RB6 on the season and is one of three running backs to finish as a top-24 fantasy back in all seven weeks this season, along with Todd Gurley and Saquon Barkley. White looks like a league-winner and that will only become even more likely with Michel out of action.


ryan mcdowell
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