Eight weeks down. Props to the NFL for keeping the league going even with some hiccups along the way. Hopefully the momentum can keep going as we enter the second half of the year. As is always done in this intro, a quick jab at the Jets is deserved, who failed to cover a ridiculous +19.5 spread. Let’s go!
Game of the week
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens (28-24)
A huge divisional tilt with major playoff implications did not disappoint as the Ravens almost led a final drive to beat their long-time rivals. Almost, if not for the heroics of a Steelers defense that remains one of the best in football. Lamar Jackson dropped another dud buoyed only by his rushing volume, 16 carries which tied his season high. The Ravens face the Colts, Patriots, Titans and Steelers again in their next four weeks — all but the Titans top 12 units in terms of points per game. The Ravens passing weapons like Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews might be options to avoid rather than the locked-in options they appeared to be early on.
On the bright side, we finally saw J.K. Dobbins receive the rushing volume he so deserved. Against one of the most formidable rushing defenses the second-round rookie rushed for 113 yards on just 15 carries. He also inexplicably saw just two targets — a trend that should not continue if the Ravens hope to fix their stalling offense. This came with Mark Ingram out with an ankle injury. Dobbins has certainly earned himself more run time given the ineffectiveness of Ingram this year regardless of the veteran’s status, but a bell cow role should not be expected. Rather, a productive timeshare with Dobbins in the lead next to Gus Edwards.
The other side of the pitch featured the undefeated Steelers who shook off a slow start on their way to 28 points. James Conner did not find much rushing room, but the role of the Steelers starting running back for fantasy remains undefeated as he found a way to get it done with a score and a few receptions. Meanwhile, Juju Smith-Schuster paced the wide receivers with seven receptions and 67 yards. After a few bumps in the road, the slot receiver seems back on track.
Dionate Johnson’s disappointing streak continues, largely due to him fighting with injuries. Regardless, forgive and forget. Line up all these Steelers against a beatable Dallas defense last week, even Eric Ebron who now has two weeks in a row of being a TE1.
Player of the week
Corey Davis (eight receptions, 128 yards and a touchdown)
Robby Anderson isn’t the only wide receiver with a late-career resurgence. Davis is quietly having an excellent season which was only derailed by a two-week absence on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He has had 10 or more fantasy PPR points in every game this season and has been productive with and without A.J. Brown. It’s an impressive season to date ahead of his free agency in 2021.
Bust of the week
Ronald Jones (seven rushes, 23 rushing yards and a fumble)
Jones added four receptions for 23 yards through the air, but it was a bad performance that certainly left owners in need of a Monday night miracle disappointed. Jones fumbled in the first quarter which, as Bruce Arians tends to do, led to his benching for a good chunk of the game. Leonard Fournette (15 carries for 52 rushing yards) did his part to siphon off value without actually playing well himself. He also had a drop. It’s an important reminder that this backfield will fluctuate based on how Arians is feeling on the week. Jones is still the starter, but an unappealing matchup against New Orleans makes him a low-floor play.
Storyline to watch
Where is the fantasy value in Indianapolis?
The short of it is that it’s unpredictable. The long of it is that Jonathan Taylor is not seeing the work that needs to be fantasy viable, whether it’s due to a nagging ankle injury or a game plan, it doesn’t really matter. You cannot trust Nyheim Hines or Jordan Wilkins. Veteran T.Y. Hilton has disappointed and he’s also dealing with injury himself. Can Michael Pittman Jr. or Zack Pascal step up? Is Trey Burton the go-to fantasy option or will it fluctuate with Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox? That’s a lot of names.
Jimmy Garoppolo (high ankle sprain)
The former Patriot will be sidelined for the foreseeable future and it might just cost him his job with the way Nick Mullens has been able to fill in at times. Garoppolo has just been bad this season but make no mistake; this is still a step-down. Mullens was able to support the offense on Sunday but expect a run-heavy script for Thursday Night Football against a vulnerable Packers run defense.
Darrell Henderson (thigh)
He is listed as “day-to-day” and should not miss time. With a bye week upcoming, Henderson should be ready for Week 10, although Cam Akers and Malcom Brown would fill in should he miss time.
Jonathan Taylor (ankle)
The Wisconsin product is dealing with a minor ankle injury that limited his workload and certainly slowed him down. He had his lowest snap count of the season at 33%. Without a receiving workload to provide some floor and a load of carries, Taylor is a risky play moving forward.
Tevin Coleman (knee)
He’s back! Or, maybe not. Coleman appeared to have reinjured the same knee he’s been working his way back from since Week 2. It’s a tough break for both the 49ers who have a myriad of injuries to worry about and for the veteran running back who desperately needs to prove he can stay on the field. Coleman was listed as a non-participant in Monday’s practice, which was an estimation as they play on Thursday. His absence will make JaMycal Hasty a far more reliable play.
A.J. Dillon (COVID-19)
Dillon may not be fantasy relevant, but his positive case has potentially made Jamaal Williams a high-risk close contact. With the Packers scheduled to play on a short week on Thursday, this needs to be monitored should Aaron Jones (calf) miss another week. If all three Packers miss, Dexter Williams and Tyler Ervin would form the new duo. The matchup isn’t great, but the role is enough for Ervin in PPR formats.
Kenny Golladay (hip)
A goose egg in your starting lineup certainly did not feel good for Golladay owners and a hip injury that is expected to sideline the Lions wide receiver this coming week doesn’t ease the pain. Golladay is currently “week-to-week” as he awaits more testing about his injury. He is a candidate for the three-week injury reserve which would be brutal for his fantasy value. Marvin Jones is the primary beneficiary of this and can be viewed as a WR2/FLEX in Week 9. It’s worth noting that free agent Mohamed Sanu is trying out for the team right now and appears likely to sign.
Calvin Ridley (midfoot sprain)
The world held its breath when Ridley left the field with an injury, but thankfully it’s not a major one. The sprain left the third-year wide receiver on a “day-to-day” designation with a longer time to recover thanks to the Falcons playing on Thursday night. He should be good to go in Week 9, however, should he miss time, Russell Gage becomes an immediate FLEX option.
T.Y. Hilton (groin)
Ho hum. Hilton is undergoing an MRI to determine the severity of the injury. In the likelihood that he misses time (given his injury history and age), Pittman and Pascal become intriguing pickups. Pittman especially, as the rookie with upside.
George Kittle (foot)
Eight weeks. That timeline will likely sideline Kittle who broke a bone in his foot on Sunday for the remainder of the fantasy season, although it leaves a glimmer of hope for the fantasy playoffs. If the 49ers find themself out of playoff contention, it’s likely they shelf Kittle for the year. Ross Dwelley becomes a priority pickup for most fantasy rosters as Mullens loves to target the tight end.
A final trio of quick hitters
- The Indianapolis Colts DST just might be matchup proof. It was not an intimidating matchup with the Detroit Lions this weekend who also lost Golladay midgame, but the DST is averaging almost 11 fantasy points per game. Not too bad.
- Does Michael Thomas return next week? It feels like forever since we have seen the Saints wide receiver and with the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, Thomas should be focused on getting back. Hopefully he can salvage a dreadful year.
- We are halfway through the year, so here’s a quick 2021 NFL draft update for you. If the season ended today, this would be the top five.
1. New York Jets (0-8)
2. New York Giants (1-7)
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6)
4. Miami Dolphins via HOU (1-6)
5. Dallas Cowboys (2-6)
The race for Trevor Lawrence is still very much alive. Man, half of New York is going to be very upset.