Week 8 is here, and playing the Falcons is no longer as much fun. The Steelers are the last man standing with an unbeaten record but they are heading into Baltimore for their toughest matchup of the year. We’re still losing a couple of fantasy starters every week and some guys like Raheem Mostert and Michael Thomas are into their second injury of the season.
It’s been an odd year with plenty of injuries. But it is certainly memorable.
Six items thinking about for the weekend:
- WR Michael Pittman – The Colts 2.02 pick was on injured reserve with a calf injury, but he’s been designated to come off. That gives the Colts a 21-day window starting last Wednesday to get him back onto the active roster. The 6-4 wideout from USC runs a 4.5/40 and caught 101 passes as a senior. The Colts passing offense has been a disappointment this year other than Week 6 against the Bengals.T.Y. Hilton hasn’t clicked with anyone since Andrew Luck left and at 30 years old, he could be on the permanent downturn.Parris Campbell was brought on as a deep threat but Pittman was hoped to become an every-down starter and big presence in the middle of the field. Marcus Johnson is just a fourth-year, undrafted wideout with never more than 277 yards in a season and he just posted 108 yards on five catches last week. Johnson’s is not the long-term solution that Pittman was drafted to become. He could still figure in later in the season.
- RB DeeJay Dallas – The utility back never gained more than 850 yards in Miami but he was the Seahawks fourth-round pick. Dallas moved up to No. 3 on the depth chart behind Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde. Travis Homer is also used but Carson, Hyde and Homer have not practiced this week. There is some hope that Hyde or Homer might get well enough to play against the visiting 49ers this week.The Seahawks move the offense based largely on what the backfield and two starting wide receivers. It’s always good to watch a back get a starting opportunity and Dallas may end up on the field this weekend. Practice on Friday will give more clarity but he’s the only 100% healthy back they currently have.
- WR Rashard Higgins – The Browns lost Odell Beckham to a torn ACL so the rest of 2020 will have a new split end. Rashard Higgins was working from the slot and Donovan Peoples-Jones was the backup for Beckham. While Peoples-Jones ended with 56 yards and a touchdown on thre catches last week, Higgins will move into the starting role and already posted six catches for 110 yards last week.The Browns face the Raiders this week and then go into their bye. Returning in Week 10, they face the Texans, Eagles, Jaguars, and Titans next. Jarvis Landry has been banged up all year and has scored. He may see an uptick with Beckham out, but Higgins stands to benefit the most with Beckham out. The Browns prefer to run the ball, but Higgins already showed what can happen when they put him in a starting role.
- QB Ben DiNucci – The seventh-round pick from James Madison is in line to start for the Cowboys this week, and depending on how well he does and what happens with Andy Dalton, he may end up with more starts than just this week at the Eagles. This may not be pretty, given that DiNucci only threw three passes and yet was sacked three times and lost two fumbles to Washington last week in limited play.While there is a difference between playing the Eagles vs. Weber State or William and Mary, DiNucci threw for 3,441 yards and 29 touchdowns last year and he ran for 569 yards and seven scores. Considering the state of the Cowboy’s offensive line, DiNucci will still be running in the NFL. Whatever happens on Sunday will paint a picture for the rest of the season. Chances are it won’t be pretty, but it will be worth watching. And sure, start the Eagles defense this week.
- Trade rumors – The deadline is Tuesday at 4 PM EST. Some names that have been recently rumored to be CB Stephon Gilmore, WR Adam Thielen, WR Jamison Crowder, WR Alshon Jeffery, WR Golden Tate, WR Keelan Cole, WR John Ross, RB David Johnson, WR Will Fuller, TE David Njoku, A.J. Green, and WR Michael Gallup.What is usually telling is when player’s typical workload changes dramatically this week – either getting much more use than normal to show them off or holding players back to prevent them from getting hurt.
- Tight Ends 2020 – There’s been plenty of grumbling about how tight ends are not performing well this season. Let’s take a look at the Top-10 tight ends as of Week 7 in this year versus last:
Oddly, there have been more touchdowns scored this year by the position but the catches and yards are down significantly. Notice too that the top tight ends were all doing well in 2019 but not only is it very jumbled after the first three, but that the fantasy points do not match up from the same rank. Kittle is a paragon of consistency with the same fantasy points at this point in each of the last two years. But the fantasy points have otherwise fallen.
That’s going to make Travis Kelce, Darren Waller and George Kittle even more expensive in 2021. And the rest are going to wait even later in drafts.