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Week 8 of the fantasy football season featured plenty of notable performances around the NFL on Sunday. What should we make of them? Matt Bowen and Tristan H. Cockcroft offer their analysis.


Dalvin Cook makes history in return

A 48.6 PPR fantasy point performance in his return from a groin injury is an astonishing — and historic — effort, considering that only two other players since 1950 scored more after having missed their team’s previous game, and of those two, only Paul Hornung (49.6, in Week 13 of the 1965 season) missed said previous game due to an injury (Steve Largent was the other, with 59.1 points in Week 5 of 1987, after returning from the strike). Cook’s point total was the most by any running back since Aaron Jones scored 49.2 in Week 5 of last season. — Cockcroft

DK Metcalf reaches new heights

The 49ers’ defense didn’t have an answer (or a matchup) for Metcalf today, as the Seahawks wide receiver racked up a career-high 40.1 fantasy points (PPR scoring). Metcalf recorded two more touchdowns today — giving him seven scores on the year — and he caught 12 of 15 targets for 161 yards. With an expanded route tree in 2020, and more formation flexibility in the Seahawks’ offense to mesh with his explosive play skills, Metcalf is showing the traits of a weekly midtier WR1. — Bowen

Russell Wilson continues historic pace

His historic season continued with a 28.7-point fantasy performance on Sunday, giving him 206.0 through seven games, the most by any quarterback through that many team games in a season in history. In fact, it’s the fifth-best performance by a player at any position through that stage of a season, and in the process, Wilson enjoyed a seventh consecutive game of 20-plus fantasy points to begin the year, becoming only the eighth player since 1950 to do that. We’ll see whether Wilson is able to keep up that record-setting pace with a pair of tougher matchups ahead against the Bills (Week 9) and Rams (Week 10). — Cockcroft

Lamar Jackson‘s disappointing 2020 continues

Jackson did throw two red zone touchdowns in the loss to the Steelers, and he finished with 65 yards rushing on 14 carries. However, Jackson made two poor throws/decisions that resulted in interceptions, and he topped the 200 yard passing mark (208 yards) for only the third time this season. Opposing defenses continue to pack the middle of the field with numbers versus Jackson, closing down the interior passing lanes to take away seams and in-breakers. And what they are doing here is forcing Jackson to throw the ball outside of the numbers. That has limited his production as a thrower this season. Up next for Jackson and the Ravens? It’s the Colts’ zone-heavy defense. And I would expect Indianapolis to follow a similar script with a “robber” safety dropping down to muddy the inside throwing lanes. — Bowen

Statistical regression was inevitable for Jackson, coming off his near-record-setting 2019, but I don’t think anyone saw his fantasy production suffering to the degree that it has. Through seven games, Jackson now has 140.8 fantasy points, which is almost a full 35 points beneath his production at this point last year. He’s also going to conclude Week 8 outside the top 10 at his position in total points, and probably also if we rank the quarterbacks by points per game, which is a simply shocking development. — Cockcroft

Davante Adams as efficient as it gets

He continued to dominate when healthy, scoring 30.3 PPR fantasy points, the third time in his five games played in 2020 that he reached the 30-point plateau. Adams now has 135.2 points on 272 offensive snaps played for the season, a 0.50 rate per offensive snap, which is the highest by any wide receiver during the 13 seasons (2008-20) for which we have snap-count data available. — Cockcroft

Dolphins’ D/ST making a statement

What a stunning defensive performance this one was, as the Dolphins had a pair of sacks, a pair of interceptions and a pair of touchdowns, to total a position-best (entering Sunday night) 18 fantasy points against the Rams. It gave the Dolphins a total of 55 fantasy points since Week 3 began, which is fourth most behind only the Colts (63), Buccaneers (57, and they’ll play Monday night) and Chiefs (57). This defense has been getting great play out of its cornerbacks, particularly Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, but it was the pass rush that made the difference in this game. The Dolphins face quite the challenge in Week 9 at Arizona, a team that hasn’t seen an opposing D/ST score more than six points against it all year, and it’s probably wise to keep this defense on the sideline for evaluation rather than risking the start. Still, there are Broncos (Week 11) and Jets (Week 12) matchups ahead for this team, and the Dolphins have earned, at minimum, streaming status for those games. — Cockcroft

Agree on this Dolphins defense, Tristan. And today was a prime example as Brian Flores outschemed Sean McVay. Look at the pressure the Dolphins brought — especially when the Rams aligned in empty sets. And that’s exactly what you do versus a programmed thrower like Jared Goff. This is definitely a unit you can stream as a matchup dependent defense moving forward. — Bowen


Quick-hitters

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: With his 36.6 fantasy points, Mahomes became the fastest player to 900 career fantasy points in NFL history. He also now has 207.1 points through eight games this season, which puts him within range of the 216.9 points he had at the midway point of his record-setting 2018 campaign. It might not feel as if this has been a huge Mahomes season, but the numbers are there. — Cockcroft

Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: Higgins has seen 22 targets in his past three games, catching six of a team-high nine today for 78 yards. As we have said before, Higgins can win on in-breakers or back-shoulder balls, and the Bengals will scheme him up, too. That works with the high-level traits of rookie quarterback Joe Burrow. The Bengals get the bye next week, then have a date with the Steelers in Week 10. However, the arrow is pointing up here on Higgins, a player you want to keep on the roster as a WR3 in the second half of the season. — Bowen

Zack Moss, RB, Buffalo Bills: If the concern for Devin Singletary‘s fantasy managers was Moss taking over as the Bills’ primary rusher in red zone situations, Week 8 provided an exclamation point for the rookie in that regard. Moss converted 2 of 3 carries on goal-to-go plays for touchdowns, resulting in a career-best 20.1 PPR fantasy points, and he enjoyed six overall carries in the red zone to Singletary’s one. Moss also out-snapped Singletary for the first time this season, playing 53% (30-of-57) to Singletary’s 49% (28-of-57), which could signal a shifting of their roles. As long as it’s a trend, Moss should carry greater importance in fantasy during the season’s second half, being that he’s the probable goal-line back while the Bills face the tougher portion of their schedule. — Cockcroft

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami Dolphins: Tagovailoa isn’t a fantasy-relevant player yet, but let’s keep an eye on how he progresses in this Miami offense. The rookie, in his first pro start, finished 12-of-22 passing for 93 yards and a score in a tough matchup versus the Rams defense. Remember, Tua is a timing/rhythm thrower. And the Dolphins can cater to his throwing traits — quick release, anticipatory skills — on RPOs, play-action and in-breakers, while scripting deep ball shots. — Bowen

Trey Burton, TE, Indianapolis Colts: In what was a strange game, to say the least, for the Colts’ usual skill position players, Burton scored a rushing touchdown while lining up in Wildcat formation for the second consecutive game, giving him 40.3 PPR fantasy points in his past three contests combined. While Burton’s four targets wasn’t anything special, particularly with Jack Doyle amassing three of his own, it’s clear that the Colts value the former Eagles and Bears tight end when in scoring position. Burton and the Colts still have five of their divisional games remaining on the schedule, and their divisional competition consists of three of the weaker teams defending tight ends (Titans, Texans and Jaguars), so he could be worth a flier when the matchup calls. — Cockcroft

Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots: After rushing for 102 yards and a score — on 16 carries — in the Week 8 game versus the Bills, Harris has now topped the 100-yard mark in two of his four games this season. The second-year pro has also seen at least 10 carries in three of those four games. With classic Alabama traits at the position — downhill power, vision, footwork — Harris is a good fit for a run-dependent New England offense. He will move up in my ranks as a flex option for the Patriots’ Week 9 game versus the Jets. — Bowen

J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens: We know that Mark Ingram is down right now with an ankle injury, and that Gus Edwards will continue to get carries in this Ravens offense. He has the downhill traits. However, it’s pretty clear that Dobbins is the best runner on this team. On Sunday, in a matchup with Pittsburgh’s high-level defense, the rookie rushed for 113 yards on 15 carries. Just look at the contact balance there, plus the juice to bounce the ball to the edge. And he can get north-south in a hurry. If he can continue to get steady volume, Dobbins will be in the RB2 mix. Something to monitor when Ingram returns. — Bowen

Darnell Mooney, WR, Chicago Bears: Rostered in just 3.6% of ESPN leagues, Mooney merits a look as a WR 3/4 in 12-14 team leagues. The rookie has now seen 23 targets in his past four games, and the Bears will devise deep ball throws to Mooney off play-action. We saw that on Sunday when Mooney — who caught 5 of 6 targets for 69 yards and a score — got over the top of the Saints’ secondary for a 50-yard reception. Even with the inconsistent play of Bears quarterback Nick Foles, Mooney has some upside here given his vertical ability and overall usage in the game plan. — Bowen

https://www.espn.com/fantasy/football/story/_/id/30239564/fantasy-football-highs-lows-nfl-week-8-vikings-let-dalvin-cook

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