The Market Report: Week 8

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The Market Report: Week 8

The Market Report is your one-stop Monday shop for all the movement from a big weekend of NFL football.

These are the players who stood out for fantasy-relevant reasons — the good reasons, the bad reasons, and the in-between.

This column will be posted every Monday afternoon.

UPGRADES

Players about whom we’re feeling more optimistic based on recent play or news.

Quarterbacks

None of note.

Running Backs

D’Andre Swift (Det) — In a surprisingly competitive game with the Rams in Week 7 — thanks to some ballsy decisions from coach Dan Campbell — Swift was the Lions’ best offensive player, and it didn’t take until garbage time for it to work out. Swift posted 13/48 rushing and 8/96/1 receiving on 10 targets against LA, setting a season high in both rushing and receiving yards, with the largest part coming on the Lions’ first possession, when he scampered for a ridiculous 63-yard touchdown reception. He’s now the overall RB2 on the season (behind Derrick Henry) despite being 32nd among RBs in rushing yards, which just goes to show how powerful his role in the passing game — on pace for 102 catches — is (his 42 catches rank him first among all RBs, 8 more than Najee Harris). He’s now played more than 70% of the snaps in four consecutive games, and in Week 8 he takes on an Eagle defense that is designed to, apparently, give up dozens of easy completions in the underneath area. Swift has been one of the single most valuable picks in all of fantasy, and he’s given the Lions every incentive to play him a ton. (Joe Dolan)

Nick Chubb and D’Ernest Johnson (Cle) — Chubb is likely to return to the lineup against the Steelers this week off of a calf injury that’s kept him out the last two weeks. The big question now is whether he’s going to hog all of the work in this backfield while Kareem Hunt (calf, IR) is out for the next couple of weeks after an impressive performance by Johnson in Week 7. The third-year pro stepped into a bell-cow role and produced 22/146/1 rushing and 2/22 receiving on three targets in a victory over the Broncos. Johnson will slide back into the #2 role with Chubb likely ready to play this week, and he could see enough run in an active backfield to have some low-end standalone value as a potential flex option while Hunt is out of the lineup. Hunt averaged 18.8/80.3 scrimmage per game with two touchdowns in the four games that Chubb missed last season, and he topped 70% of the snaps in the three games when they didn’t lose by 31 points. Chubb has yet to reach even a 60% snap share in any of his five games this season so he has elite RB1 potential while Hunt is out of the lineup. (Tom Brolley)

Chase Edmonds (Ari) — The Cardinals removed Edmonds from their final injury report on Friday before Week 7 after he nursed a shoulder injury through the last two weeks of games and practices. He must be back to full strength after posting season-bests in snap share (69%) and carries (15), totaling 15/81 rushing and 1/9 receiving on three targets against the Texans. Edmonds still has yet to score with James Conner vulturing another touchdown on his 30% snap share on his way to 10/64/1 rushing. Edmonds is now averaging 15.8/97.0 scrimmage per game in his five contests when he isn’t listed on the final injury report after averaging 8.0/42.0 scrimmage per game in his two contests with the shoulder injury designation. He still has a limited fantasy ceiling with just two carries inside the five-yard line this season — Conner is 5-for-7 on his inside the five-yard line carries — but he’s back to being a solid floor RB2 with his healthy workload in this dynamic offense. (TB)

Damien Harris (NE) – Bill Belichick was up to his usual tricks on Sunday by making Rhamondre Stevenson a surprise healthy scratch. Stevenson has struggled in pass protection all year long and that has to be the main culprit behind the fact that he can’t sustain playing time. With Stevenson out again, Damien Harris absolutely shredded the Jets for 14/106/2 on the ground and added 2 catches for 7 yards. Outside of two down games against the Saints and Buccaneers league-best run defenses, Harris has gotten at least 14 carries in five of his 7 games. And, in those five games, Harris has put up 16.4 FPG – which would tie him as the RB15 with Leonard Fournette. Harris is shaping up to be the perfect RB2 complement to the Henry, Kamara, and Chubb’s of the world. The Patriots get the Chargers next up that has been cracked for a league-high 5.39 YPC. (Graham Barfield)

Michael Carter (NYJ) – The Jets came out of their bye and made it a point to get Michael Carter way more involved. Carter got his usual 11 carries, but made a huge jump in overall playing time as his 72% snap rate easily marked a season-high. Tevin Coleman being made a healthy scratch helped, but the big change was that the Jets played Carter (28 routes) on way more passing plays than Ty Johnson (16). In Weeks 1-5, Carter ran a route on just 30% of the Jets pass plays. In Week 7, that jumped to 65%. That is absolutely huge for Carter’s outlook moving forward and puts him in the D’Andre Swift / Austin Ekeler territory of passing down involvement. Zach Wilson (knee) is going to miss at least two weeks per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, which means that we’ll see Mike White make two spot starts against the Bengals and Colts in the immediate short-term. White threw 32 passes vs. the Patriots in relief of the injured Wilson and Carter (9 targets) was his go-to guy. (GB)

Khalil Herbert (CHI) – After Damien Williams missed a whole week of practice because of COVID protocols, it should come as no surprise that Herbert out-snapped Williams by a massive 77% to 17% margin vs. the Buccaneers. Williams was activated on Saturday, so he had no chance to be a big part of the game-plan. What was a surprise, however, is how well Herbert ran it against the league’s best run defense. Herbert ripped the Buccaneers for 18/100 on the ground and looked fluid as a pass catcher, grabbing all five of his targets and turning them into 33 yards. Because he is playing so well, Herbert has earned a large role for as long as David Montgomery (knee) is out. And honestly, he’s earned a role even when Montgomery is back healthy. Speaking of which, Montgomery will have a 21 day window to come off of injured-reserve after Week 8. Chicago has their bye in Week 10, so getting Montgomery back by Week 11 may be the team’s target. (GB)

Elijah Mitchell (SF) – The 49ers came out of their bye and continued to let Elijah Mitchell run as the unquestioned featured back. Mitchell absolutely shredded the Colts in the first quarter – he had nine carries for 80 yards and a score – and then HC Kyle Shanhan inexplicably only gave him 9 more totes for the remainder of the game. The bottom-line, though, is that Mitchell is going to dominate the workload for as long as he’s healthy. Mitchell played on 66% of the team’s snaps on SNF while Ja’Mycal Hasty worked in for a 34% snap share in his return from an ankle injury. Meanwhile, Trey Sermon only played on special teams while it sounds like Jeff Wilson (knee) isn’t going to be available until late November at the earliest. This is Mitchell’s backfield. (GB)

Wide Receivers

Ja’Marr Chase (Cin) — This “upgrade” is as high as we can upgrade a player — we’re upgrading him into “no longer ask questions about him” territory. Chase is in your lineups, permanently. Chase posted 8/201/1 receiving on 10 targets in a huge win over the Ravens. Not only does he continue to make plays down the field for Joe Burrow, but he’s also electric after the catch, turning a quick slant into an 82-yard TD. Chase’s 754 receiving yards are the most through a rookie’s seven games in NFL history. In fact, they’re the most through a rookie’s first eight games in NFL history. Chase is on pace to break Justin Jefferson’s 1379-yard rookie-season record (Super Bowl era), and he’s on pace to do so in 13 games — keep in mind he has 17 games to do it this season. The Bengals are a very “narrow” fantasy team, meaning we know where the production is coming from. Burrow targeted only five different receivers while throwing for 416 yards. But when he needs a big play, Chase is the guy. He’s a top-5 WR for fantasy purposes… and it’s hard to rank him outside that for actual NFL receivers too. (JD)

A.J. Brown (Ten) — It’s been a painfully slow start for Brown in 2021 because of hamstring issues, but he’s finally starting to turn the corner over the last two weeks. He had to contend with a stomach bug in the last two games, but he still posted 15/224/1 receiving on 18 targets against the Bills and Chiefs. The Titans need Brown to continue to shoulder more work moving forward since Julio Jones hasn’t been right almost all season long because of his own hamstring issues, and with Derrick Henry currently on pace to shatter NFL records with 500+ touches. Hopefully, you survived your second-round pick’s miserable start to the season because Brown is showing signs he could be a weekly WR1 moving forward, especially against a banged-up Colts’ secondary this week — he left their matchup early in Week 3 without a catch after suffering his initial hamstring. (TB)

Terry McLaurin (Was) – After clearly being limited by a hamstring injury last week, McLaurin proved he is back against the Packers after dropping a 7/122/1 hammer. McLaurin’s day could have been even better had he not dropped a TD as Washington was cursed from scoring in the second-half of the game. McLaurin’s production has been a roller coaster ride because Taylor Heinicke has been so up-and-down, but we have to keep taking the bad with the good because the huge weeks drastically outweigh his 8-12 FP outings. McLaurin gets the Broncos in Week 8 and then Washington has their bye in Week 9. (GB)

Tight Ends

Kyle Pitts (Atl) — Pitts’ owners are being rewarded in a big way for their patience with the rookie tight end. He’s posted 100+ receiving yards and 23+ FP in consecutive games after hanging a ridiculous 7/163 receiving on eight targets against the Dolphins in Week 7. Pitts finished behind only another all-world rookie Ja’Marr Chase (201 yards) for the most receiving yards in Week 7, and he became the first rookie tight end to have back-to-back 100-yard games since Raymond Chester did it for the Raiders in 1970. Pitts is sitting at a juicy +3000 odds to win the Offensive Rookie of Year award at FanDuel — Chase is the heavy favorite at +110 — and he’s stormed up to the TE4 with 14.0 FPG. He’s lining up on the perimeter at a position-best 31.6% rate, just ahead of Travis Kelce, and he’s quickly becoming Matt Ryan’s go-to receiver with Calvin Ridley struggling. If he can keep his momentum going, Pitts has a realistic chance to finish as fantasy’s top TE with Kelce, Darren Waller, and George Kittle stumbling out of the gates in front of him. (TB)

Mike Gesicki (Mia) — Gesicki is answering the bell on a weekly basis, which is something we can’t say he’s always done in the past. He’s actually become a reliable fantasy option since there are not many Dolphins answering the bell with the team riding a miserable six-game losing streak. The fourth-year TE has worked his way to the TE7 (13.1 FPG) even with a goose egg to his name in the season opener — he’s the TE4 (15.3) in Weeks 2-7. Gesicki has scored 16+ FP in four of his last five games after posting 7/85/1 receiving on nine targets against the Falcons in Week 7. DeVante Parker (hamstring) and Will Fuller (hand, IR) will be back in the near future, but the Dolphins would be foolish not to continue to feed Gesicki weekly targets since he’s one of the few offensive staples that’s currently working for them. (TB)

Zach Ertz (Ari) — Ertz had a successful first appearance away from the Eagles’ organization, posting 3/66/1 receiving on five targets in his debut with the Cardinals in Week 7. He scored on a 47-yard catch-and-run play and he nearly finished with 22.1 FP, but he just missed scoring a second touchdown. Ertz played on 49% of the snaps and he ran a route on 59% of Arizona’s dropbacks in his first game, which is likely where he’ll sit going forward since the Cardinals use plenty of four-WR sets. Ertz is going to be a bit volatile the rest of the season as he fights for snaps with Rondale Moore, but he immediately showed he should be played most weeks as a low-end TE1 option, including this week against the Packers on Thursday Night Football. (TB)

Hunter Henry (NE) – Henry extended his TD streak to four games against the Jets and now gets a chance to make it five-straight in a Revenge Game against the Chargers in Week 8. Henry’s usage has been fairly tame in his hot streak – he’s averaging just 4.8 targets per game over the last month – but that could tick upwards if Jonnu Smith (shoulder) misses extended time. Regardless, we are largely chasing TDs at the position if you don’t have Kelce, Waller, or Kittle and Henry continues to get it done. (GB)

DOWNGRADES

Players about whom we’re feeling less optimistic based on recent play or news.

Quarterbacks

Patrick Mahomes (KC) — The Chiefs are coming off their worst offensive showing in Andy Reid’s nine seasons. Kansas City scored just three points against a lowly Titans’ defense in Week 7, which was the team’s fewest points scored in a game since the final contest of the Romeo Crennel era in 2012. The Chiefs’ defense has been broken all season and now their offense is breaking down with Tyreek Hill (quad) and Travis Kelce (neck) pushing through injuries. Mahomes was also blown up on a big hit late in the loss, and he’ll be coming into this week against the Giants a little worse for wear despite passing concussion tests. It was an unceremonious end to the game for Mahomes, who completed 20/35 passes for 206 scoreless yards (5.9 YPA) with one INT and a lost fumble. Mahomes has now averaged under 6.0 YPA in three of his last five games, and he’s tied with Zach Wilson for the league lead in interceptions thrown with nine. Mahomes scored 21+ FP in each of his first six games before his 9.7 FP dud last week, but his recent performances leave a lot to be desired. It’s not time to panic if you're a Mahomes' owner, but floor performances are a possibility more than ever before with the current state of the Chiefs’ offense. (TB)

Running Backs

Miles Sanders (Phi) — Poor Miles. The Eagles made an early commitment to the run in Week 7, giving Sanders 5 carries on their opening drive as they marched right down the field and scored on the Raiders. Sanders was gassed, so Kenny Gainwell vultured the receiving TD… and then on the Eagles’ next possession, Sanders left with an ankle sprain and didn’t return. It was an injury that sucked the air out of the Philly offense, and they never recovered. It was clear Philly planned to feature Sanders after not running the ball enough in the first six weeks of the season, and the injury blew up those plans. According to our Dr. Edwin Porras, the injury didn’t look serious, but it’s just another ding in the Eagles’ spiraling-downward season, and Sanders could miss more than just a game. (JD)

Mike Davis (Atl) — The Falcons are wasting weekly touches (14.0 touches per game) and snaps (65% snap share) on Davis, who is averaging a horrific 3.2 YPC through six games. He posted a single fantasy point with 4/10 rushing against the Dolphins in Week 7 despite playing 60% of the snaps. Meanwhile, RB/WR Cordarrelle Patterson turned his 14 carries into 60 yards and a touchdown on a season-best 73% snap share coming out of their bye week. There’s been no indication a change is coming soon, but HC Arthur Smith could give Wayne Gallman a chance to be the early-down runner at some point in the near future if Davis doesn’t start performing better. Smith is already working Patterson into the mix more than ever before and it’s starting to feel inevitable that Davis’ role will be trimmed down significantly in the future. It’s time to get whatever you can for Davis before you inevitably cut him in the near future. (TB)

Wide Receivers

Tyreek Hill (KC) — Tyreek is battling through a quad injury in recent weeks, which has limited his practice participation and his on-field production on Sundays. He finished with 6/49 receiving on nine targets in an embarrassing loss to the Titans in Week 7. Hill has fallen below 15 FP in four of his seven games this season after falling below that mark just three times in 15 regular-season contests last season. Tyreek is still averaging 7.4 catches and 10.3 targets per game, but his elite expectations need to be tempered for the time being while he plays through his quad injury and with the offense struggling a bit right now. (TB)

Calvin Ridley (Atl) — Ridley’s difficult 2021 campaign continued in Week 7, but he at least found the end zone to salvage his fantasy production after a two-week layoff. He finished with 4/26/1 receiving on 10 targets against the Dolphins, and he played below expectations in a beatable matchup after sitting out Week 5 for a personal matter. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport revealed before the game that Ridley sat out for a “mental health break” before their bye in Week 6 — much like Eagles’ RT Lane Johnson did in recent weeks — which could explain his sub-par performance so far this season. Ridley has at least seen double-digit targets in each of his last four games, but he’s yet to break through with a 20+ FP performance this season, which he did five times last season. Better days are likely ahead for Ridley, but it looks like he could be back in the #2 role (or at least the 1B) in this Atlanta passing attack with Kyle Pitts asserting himself as the new top option in this passing attack over the last two games. (TB)

Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham (Cle) — Landry (knee) and Odell (shoulder) are playing through injuries right now, and their options at quarterback are less than inspiring between an injured Baker Mayfield (non-throwing shoulder) and a career backup in Case Keenum. OBJ had a miserable performance against the Broncos in Week 7 with just 2/23 receiving on six targets. He also dropped a pass, he committed a pre-snap penalty to wipe out a big play, and he slipped on a route that nearly caused a pick-six. Landry asserted himself as the top option in his first game back from a right knee injury with 5/37 receiving on eight targets, but he banged up his left knee late in the game. Landry and Odell are having seasons to forget through seven weeks, and their outlooks for the rest of the season aren’t much better as WR3s with limited ceilings and ugly floors. (TB)

Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney (CHI) – Even on a day where Justin Fields dropped back to pass a career-high 36 times against a banged up secondary, Robinson (2 catches, 16 yards) and Mooney (2 catches, 39 yards) couldn’t get it done. It’s pitiful at this point. It all starts up top with Matt Nagy and the coaching staff, but Fields hasn’t done anything to inspire confidence either. A-Rob is stuck at just 35.7 yards per game, which is easily a career-low and ranks 90th among all players. A-Rob and Mooney are both droppable in shallow 10- and 12- team leagues as we roll through the bye weeks. (GB)

Brandon Aiyuk (SF) – The extra week of practice apparently didn’t help Aiyuk as he finished SNF with just one catch for six yards against the Colts. He continued to be the No. 2 wideout in routes run behind Deebo Samuel, but Aiyuk simply is not a part of this passing offense. He’s been held to two or fewer catches in 5-of-6 contests so far and there is nothing to hang your hat on to make you think this is going to turn around any time soon. Aiyuk isn’t just in the doghouse, there has to be something more at play here. Regardless, he’s droppable in all non-dynasty/keeper formats. (GB)

Tight Ends

Travis Kelce (KC) — Kelce is pushing through a neck injury the last couple of weeks after he suffered a stinger on a nasty hit at the end of Kansas City’s loss to the Bills in Week 5. Kelce hasn’t missed a game for an injury since he played just a single special teams snap as a rookie in 2013. He’ll have to be dragged off the field for his current injury, but he is missing practice time and his performance has suffered a bit after posting 7/65 receiving on 12 targets against the Titans. He’s now finished with 65 or fewer yards in three of his last four games after falling below that mark just twice in 18 total games last season (postseason included). He’s also averaged fewer than 10.0 YPR in those three contests, and he’s on pace to average fewer than 12 YPR for the first time in his career — he sits at 11.8 YPR through seven games. Kelce is still averaging 6.4 catches and 9.3 targets per game, but his elite expectations need to be tempered for the time being while he plays through his neck injury and with the offense struggling a bit right now. (TB)

WATCH LIST

Players whom we’re not ready to upgrade or downgrade, but their situations demand monitoring based on recent play, injuries, or news.

Quarterbacks

Jalen Hurts (Phi) — Look, no one who has Hurts for fantasy is disappointed. He is the overall QB2 in fantasy points — behind only Tom Brady — and he’s the overall QB3 in FPG (adding Josh Allen to the mix). His 361 rushing yards trail only Lamar Jackson at the position, and his 5 rushing TD are tied with Sam Darnold (!) for most among QBs. He’s done a generally good job avoiding turnovers, with 5 through seven games. But the problem is that Hurts isn’t passing the eye test for a lot of the action, and while his coaching staff isn’t helping, it is alarming that a huge chunk of Hurts’ fantasy production has come late in games, just as it did in Week 7’s loss to the Raiders. That production matters all the same from a boxscore standpoint, but if Hurts doesn’t step up his game earlier in contests and Philly keeps losing, there’s a chance the Eagles make a change to Gardner Minshew to see what they have at some point. Keep in mind that Philly currently has three very high first-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. The best outcome for them would be Hurts playing well and using those picks to build around him, but it’s also a reminder that the Eagles are in no way beholden to Hurts as their starter, and his leash is running short. (JD)

Running Backs

Saquon Barkley (NYG) — Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Barkley has an “outside” shot of playing in Week 8 but should be back by Week 9 at the latest. It wasn’t pretty for much of the day in Week 7, but a late Devontae Booker TD made him a worthwhile fill-in for Barkley in the Giants’ win over the hapless Panthers. Keep an eye on Saquon’s status, but be ready to roll with Booker for another week. (JD)

Josh Jacobs (LV) — Jacobs left Sunday’s game against the Eagles with a chest injury after playing just 24 snaps, and it was a shame because Jacobs was going to explode — the Eagles’ run defense has been abominable this year, and they’ve also given up a ridiculous number of short, easy completions. Jacobs still managed 6/29/1 rushing and 3/39 receiving before leaving, so he certainly did some damage, but Kenyan Drake has now also looked good in back-to-back weeks. With the Raiders going on bye, Jacobs could well be ready by Week 9, but it must be monitored. (JD)

Wide Receivers

DJ Moore (Car) — After a red-hot start to the season against an easy schedule, Moore and the Panthers have cooled off to near absolute zero. Moore is still getting target volume — he posted 6/73 on 10 targets against the Giants in Week 7 — but QB Sam Darnold got benched, and in relief, PJ Walker came in and went 3/14 for 33 yards. Moore has managed to put up double-digit fantasy points in all but one game this year, which is a testament to his talent given how awful the QB play has been. And he should just keep getting fed targets, as Robby Anderson has been hilariously futile — as far as my limited research takes me (and the limitations of Stathead.com), Anderson’s 101 receiving yards on 38 targets in the last four games is the lowest receiving output with that many targets over a four-game stretch since the NFL started tracking targets in 1992. The Panthers are rumored to be involved in Deshaun Watson trade talks, and we’ll cross that creaky bridge if it comes, but while Moore’s QB play has been awful, he’s the only reliable option his crappy QBs have. (JD)

Jerry Jeudy (Den) — Jeudy is expected to return to the lineup in Week 8 in a juicy matchup against the Football Team after returning to practice before Denver’s matchup with the Browns last week. Teddy Bridgewater showed Jeudy plenty of love in the season opener, with Jeudy posting 6/72 receiving on seven targets and 24 routes (19 from the slot) in just 37 minutes of action. Jeudy should be viewed as WR3 in his first game or two back from his high-ankle injury, and he should settle in as a WR2 option after he knocks off the rust from his severe injury. (TB)

Kadarius Toney, Sterling Shepard, and Kenny Golladay (NYG) — All three of Toney (ankle), Shepard (hamstring), and Golladay (knee) missed Week 7’s win over the stinky Panthers, and while Shepard was the closest to playing — he was listed as questionable with a hamstring injury — but hamstrings are notoriously fickle. There appears to be a chance all three suit up in Week 8 against the god-awful Chiefs defense, which would be good news for Daniel Jones … and our fantasy teams. We’ll keep you posted. (JD)

Antonio Brown (TB) – AB missed Week 7’s bout with the Bears with an ankle injury and wasn’t closed to playing after he didn’t practice all week. Mike Evans (6/87/3) and Chris Godwin (8/111/1) both stepped up for monster games with AB out. The Buccaneers go on the road to take on the Saints in Week 8 and then have their bye, so it’s possible the team holds out Brown until Week 10 so he can get basically a month to rest up. (GB)

Tight Ends

Darren Waller (LV) — Waller missed Week 7’s game against the Eagles — a game in which he would have absolutely blown up, of course — because of a fluke ankle injury suffered late in the week of practice. We have no video of the injury, and therefore can’t even get a semi-accurate armchair diagnosis, but the good news is the Raiders are going on bye, so Waller (and Josh Jacobs) have a full extra week of rest ahead of them. If he misses any more time, Foster Moreau is obviously a viable fill-in. (JD)

Rob Gronkowski (TB) – Gronk missed his fourth-straight game with a punctured lung and fractured ribs, but HC Bruce Arians remained hopeful after their game against the Bears that he’ll be able to return for Week 8 vs. the Saints. We’ll see, though. Tampa has their bye in Week 9, so they could theoretically give Gronk an extra two weeks to get all the way back just in time for their playoff run. (GB)

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