And then there were none.
The Cardinals fell to the Packers despite all of their starting receivers were out of the game. Even then, the Cardinals were in excellent shape to win or at least tie it with a field goal, just so long as the Arizona receivers would remember a route is not complete until you turn around. The gift interception doused the comeback fuse right before it reached the dynamite.
So heading into Week 8, the fantasy-regular season is half over for most leagues, but there are still seven or eight games left for all those fantasy starters on injured reserve to get back onto the field. We’re not quite to the point in the season where you’ll say, “Okay, if I can just win the rest of my games…”
Hopefully, we’ll see an interesting trade or two before 4 P.M. EST on Tuesday, November 8. But there are things happening for this weekend that are worth watching.
1.) RB Phillip Lindsay (HOU) – The Texans moved Mark Ingram to the Saints that signals the fire sale is on, and the Texans are looking to collect draft picks while losing games for better placement in the 2022 NFL draft. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly has used a committee approach with three running backs, so what happens now? The Texans average 26 touches from their backfield and have already used all three backs.
The question is, where do Ingram’s touches go? David Johnson has been more of the third-down back. Ingram was the primary rusher with 92 carries while Johnson (27) and Lindsay (38) were just lesser parts of the rushing game. It will be interesting to see how the distribution will be handled. Adding Ingram’s carries to Lindsay will make him a full-time back with an average of 19 carries per week. With the NFL serving up a constantly changing set of injured running backs, any player with more than a dozen carries ill be owned.
2.) RB Mark Ingram (NO) – He returns to the Saints where he played from 2011 to 2018, and while he was gone for two and a half years, the same offense and offensive coordinator remain. His usage will be interesting since the Saints used Tony Jones for up to 11 rushes as the back-up to Alvin Kamara, but no running back carried more than twice since Jones was injured in Week 4. The Saints need someone desperately since Kamara is on a path to rush 323 times, but his career-high was only 194 rushes. He’ll break down even more than the usual one or two missed games.
Ingram’s role should provide at least minor fantasy value each week. His final season in New Orleans had him with an average of 12 rushes and two receptions per game. Ingram is 31 years old now, and there’s a legitimate concern that he’s hit the wall and in decline. We’ll find out.
3.) WR Jamal Agnew (JAC) – The Jaguars’ progress with their passing offense is worth tracking since Trevor Lawrence is improving and the Jaguars have one of the lightest schedules for wide receivers. They face the Colts (twice), Jets, Texans, Falcons, and Patriots over the final weeks of the season. Marvin Jones finally had a 100-yard performance last week versus the Dolphins. Laviska Shenault hasn’t scored yet but is consistent with 60 yards games. But the departure of DJ Chark impacted Jamal Agnew the most with the last two games starting to create some fantasy value.
Agnew posted six catches for 41 yards against the Titans in Week 5 when he was first used. He then gained 78 yards on five receptions versus the Dolphins. Agnew is trending toward being fantasy-relevant and only started being used two games ago. (Correction: The first release incorrectly said TE Dan Arnold was traded from JAC to ARI, when it was from the Carolina Panthers. Arnold previously played for Arizona.)
4.) RB Kenneth Gainwell (PHI) – Miles Sanders is week-to-week with an ankle injury, and that means that Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott will handle the backfield duties. When Sanders was injured at Las Vegas, the duo took over with Scott (7-24, TD) and Gainwell (5-20) sharing the load. The receiving duties fell to Gainwell (4-41, TD), who had caught as many as six passes for 58 yards in past games. Scott is a third-year back that’s proven to be a more than adequate plug-n-play when injuries happen to starting running backs. But Gainwell could be more.
The Eagles drafted the Memphis rusher with their fifth-round pick as the ninth running back selected. He’s built like a third-down back at 5-11, 195 pounds, and already made a difference as a receiver. The Eagles could just use Scott as a 1:1 replacement for Sanders or bump up the talented Gainwell as a rusher. Facing the Lions and then Chargers will provide an easier spot in the schedule to see what Gainwell can do.
5.) RB Myles Gaskin / RB Salvon Ahmed (MIA) – The Dolphins placed Malcolm Brown on injured reserve with a quadriceps injury, and the only corresponding move was to add Duke Johnson to their practice squad. It is entirely possible that the loss of Brown just results in adding work for Myles Gaskin and he ran a season-best 15 times for 67 yards last week versus the Falcons, and he scored on his four catches for 10 yards. Brown consumed up to nine touches per game, so his absence is either going to push Gaskin up to be a weekly fantasy option, or Ahmed gets more work and the committee approach continues.
6.) New England backfield – Damien Harris is the clear primary back and doesn’t share nearly as much as the position would in years past. The loss of James White probably helped his increased workload. But after him, the rotation seems even more “on a whim” than in past years. Rhamondre Stevenson was inactive last week and running for 23 yards and a touchdown on five carries in Week 6, plus catching three passes for 39 yards. Last week in the easiest matchup of the year, Harris blew up on the Jets. Brandon Bolden went from two touches for two yards (Week 6) to six catches for 79 yards and one score.
J.J. Taylor even ran in two touchdowns on his nine rushes for 21 yards during mop-up time in the fourth quarter. That led to Stevenson being dumped in many leagues and that’s hard to argue against. It is believed that he was inactive because he missed a tackle that resulted in a sack in Week 6. This is a mess and an ever-changing situation behind Damien Harris. But this is also the No. 4 fantasy backfield and it is worth tracking because Harris will play in his eighth game of the year on Sunday. In his three previous seasons, his personal best was only ten games. Of the 48 possible games in his first three years, he only played in 19.