Week 8 of the NFL season provided plenty of late-game drama and some customary performances by AFC’s powerhouses. The NFC, meanwhile, saw three of their top teams fall on the road to lesser NFC South foes, while a favorite has emerged in the NFC East after the battle of rookie quarterbacks. But we begin with what will be the most competitive division race all year.
The AFC West has three of the top four records in the AFC and is clearly the best division top-to-bottom in football. The Raiders improved to 5–0 on the road (6–2 overall) after overcoming an NFL record 23 penalties to beat the Bucs in overtime. Derek Carr threw for 513 yards with four touchdowns including the game-winner on 4th down for 41 yards to Seth Roberts.
This powerful offense will get its’ toughest test of the season when they host Denver on Sunday Night Football, who held on to beat division rival San Diego, 27–19. Joining the Broncos at 5–2 is Kansas City who dominated the Colts in Indy. The Chiefs lost Alex Smith and Spencer Ware to concussions, but Nick Foles played well in relief as the defense held Andrew Luck and Co. in check. The different styles of these three teams are fascinating enough, and we will see if the upstart Raiders can make the jump to take down the two veteran teams.
Three of the top preseason favorites in the NFC went on the road and lost to NFC South opponents. Carolina got back on track after beating the Cardinals in a rematch of last season’s conference championship game. Carson Palmer can’t duplicate his success from last year in what looks like an offense trying to find an identity. Their division foe Seattle fell in New Orleans as Russell Wilson failed to throw a touchdown for the 3rd straight game and who knows if this offense will ever reach its’ potential. The game of the week took place in the Georgia Dome where Aaron Rodgers’ four touchdown performance was not enough as the Packers lost to the Falcons. Matt Ryan threw a game-winning touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu with 35 seconds left as Atlanta maintained their 2 game lead in the NFC South over New Orleans and Tampa Bay.
New England has cemented their place as the top dog in the AFC after taking down the Bills, 41–25. Tom Brady threw 4 touchdowns in rainy Buffalo against a very good defense and did it with ease. Gronk was over 100 yards with a score and was joined in the endzone by LeGarrette Blount who scored for the 9th time on the season. They do have some concerns with their offensive line after Brady was sacked 5 times, but this offense could break records if they keep this pace up. The Patriots’ defense, however, lacks a pass rush of their own and will hope to solve some defensive issues as they head into their bye week. The Chiefs and Broncos are the team’s best equipped to beat them, but I don’t see either team being capable of winning a playoff game in Foxboro.
Late into Sunday night, Dallas defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in overtime after Dak Prescott rallied the Cowboys from a ten-point 4th quarter deficit. He carried this momentum and drove Dallas down on the first possession of OT to find Jason Witten alone in the endzone for the game-winning score. Prescott looked bad at times, but his poise and confidence never wavered. Tony Romo isn’t ready to play yet, but the Cowboys have a two game lead in the division and a legit chance to win a wide-open NFC no matter who is under center. I think Romo would open up the offense more, but you have to ride the hot hand in Dak for the time being. The ground game didn’t take off as expected, but Ezekiel Elliot managed to have a decent game by his standards. Either way, Dallas found a way to win a close game over a division rival and is in command of their division. But for the first time in years, the Cowboys look like the favorite in the NFC and have a legit chance to play for the Super Bowl.
Let’s take a look at this week’s Waiver Wire adds. Some will be stash candidates and not instant starters that may take time for playing time to roll their way:
Waiver Wire Adds:
Charcandrick West, RB Kansas City- will be the lead back for the Chiefs as long as Spencer Ware and Jamaal Charles are injured. West piled up 52 yards after Ware exited the game with a concussion in their win against Indianapolis. He isn’t an impressive runner, but the volume of touches a running back receives in this offense will make West a must-start.
Tim Hightower, RB New Orleans- the coaching staff benched Mark Ingram and Hightower took advantage for a productive day on the ground. He may not start right away, but he gets to face the worst run defense in the NFL (49ers) this week. Pick him up and start him right away.
Antoine Smith, RB Tampa Bay- another benefactor from an injury, Smith could be in line for a big workload on Thursday night with JaQuizz Rodgers status in doubt after suffering a foot injury. The former Falcon knows the offense and will be lining up against his former team with a chance for a big day. Good streaming option with six teams on a bye this week.
Tyreek Hill, WR Kansas City- I have been a fan of his all season. The rookie is explosive with the ball in his hands and
caught a touchdown on 98 yards in the win over Indy. Hill will see looks in the backfield with injuries to Chiefs; running backs in a Ty Montgomery role.
JJ Nelson, WR Arizona Cardinals- I mentioned this speedster last week, and he has established himself as the deep threat on this offense. Larry Fitzgerald is battling injuries and the rest of the receivers have taken major steps back in their production. Going into the bye week after a 2 TD performance, there’s no reason to think he Nelson won’t garner a larger role in what attempts to be a vertical passing offense.
Other Names to Stash:
CJ Prosise- has steadily climbed up the Seattle RB depth chart all season, and is already the pass catching back. Prosise has the talent to take carries away from Christine Michael Sr. who managed only 40 yards vs. the Saints
Josh McCown- if you ever need a QB streamer, he’s your guy. When the Browns QB isn’t getting himself injured, he puts up numbers (341 yards, 2 TDs) and will always have opportunities for garbage time points. The weapons around him don’t hurt either.
Terron Ward- the promoted practice squad player could be in line for a double-digit carry game on Thursday night. Devonta Freeman was banged up heading into this week and playing on three-days rest will not help his recovery time. Not a bad streaming option vs. a bad Bucs defense.
Ted Ginn Jr. — he always has the potential to hit a big play and the Panthers’ offense seems to be at its best when Ginn is involved. With Devin Funchess playing poorly and after catching 5 balls for 52 yards on Sunday I think the boom-or-bust WR will receive a bigger role in the passing game in a team poised for a 2nd half run
Robert Kelley- with Matt Jones inactive, Kelley took the bulk of the carries for Washington’s offense and plowed into the endzone for a touchdown. This offense wants to run the ball, so expect the rookie to maintain a heavy workload as long as Jones is out.
Buy or Sell:
Dez Bryant- his chemistry with Dak Prescott is coming around at the right time. Dez will see single coverage throughout games due to the Cowboys’ ground game, and I expect him to make plays in these situations. As long as he is healthy, I’m buying the Dallas receiver.
Russell Wilson- he now has a pectoral injury to add to his ailments and hasn’t tossed a TD in 3 weeks. He could breakout this week and be great later in the season, but his play is frustrating for fantasy owners. Until he proves me otherwise, I’m selling Russell in daily leagues and potentially season long leagues.
Jonathan Stewart- the Panthers went back to basics after coming off the bye week and ran the ball with Stewart, who rewarded them with two touchdowns. Cam Newton has missed time with a concussion so relying on the veteran back would be smart to save Cam from taking unnecessary big hits. He isn’t flashy, but I’d buy Stewart’s production going forward.
Other Notable Performances:
Big Name Tight Ends- 4 of the top 10 receiving games in Week 8 were done by tight ends, with Gronk, Travis Kelce, and Tyler Eifert all going over 100 yards and a score. The Washington TE duo of Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis combined for 194 yards and touchdown of their own to show the impact a great tight end can have on a team. This position is evolving yearly and will only receive a larger role as these players show how dominant they can be when given the opportunities. Whether its check down throws or big plays over the middle, having a great tight end seems like a must for all offenses in today’s NFL.
Amari Cooper- the 2nd year player was open all day and finished with 173 yards on 12 catches with a touchdown. Cooper has limited his drops and is forming a devastating partnership with Michael Crabtree. He finished his day with 12 catches for 173 and a score as Amari torched Tampa’s secondary in their OT win.
Blake Bortles- that is the quarterback we expected to see all year! Three touchdowns on 337 yards is a great stat line with most of the damage coming in garbage time is the Bortles we loved last season. With a new offensive coordinator in place, we could see a more up-tempo system that allows Bortles and his array of weapons to succeed more as we progress in the season.
Check in later this week for a fantasy outlook on Week 9 of the NFL where I will break down the Vegas Lines for each game and give my thoughts on the Monday Night game.