Fantasy Football Week 7 reactions and Week 8 early waiver wire: Can you trust Deshaun Watson and these Texans?
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Amidst the Fantasy trauma of an ugly, potentially season-ending injury to Sony Michel, David Johnson’s Thursday night dud, and Ezekiel Elliott’s inexplicable 42-total-yard game (a career worst), we had a blast from the past.
Lamar Miller scored and had 100 yards. In Jacksonville. Against the Jaguars.
In what might go down as the most unpredictable performance of the week, the Texans strolled into Jacksonville, then strolled down the middle of the Jaguars defense. We feared a bad game from Deshaun Watson, and he didn’t do well, but it was because the Texans were able to somehow run the ball. Of Miller’s 22 carries, 12 went for four or more yards. He played with consistency and, despite the lack of big breakaway plays, did well.
Well at least better than he had coming into the week — Miller had 105 rush yards in his three previous games combined!
But it’s this one performance that has spawned so many Fantasy Football concerns.
Miller might be an unlikely Fantasy hero, but it sure doesn’t hurt his chances of keeping it up that he’ll play at home against the run-lousy defense of the Dolphins on Thursday. Miami just made Kerryon Johnson look like Barry Sanders this week, and Tarik Cohen looked like Walter Payton the week before. The Texans don’t have any Hall of Fame running backs in their franchise’s history, so the best thing we could hope for is that Miller plays like Arian Foster in Week 8. Then he gets Denver in Week 9! If you need a two-week fix at running back, go get Miller. He shouldn’t cost much in a trade.
What Miller’s good game did do, however, is hide the bad game by Deshaun Watson, his second in as many weeks. Watson completed just half of his 24 passes for 139 yards with a cool touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins his lone score. He had 21 yards on five runs before he took two kneel-downs to end the game, so at least he rushed a little more than last week. But this was supposed to be the quarterback who would give us bombastic Fantasy points — now, he’s come up small in consecutive games.
And he was so hurt coming into Week 7 that he had to take a bus to Jacksonville instead of risking pain on the team flight. Will he even be able to make the trip to Denver in Week 9?! It’s going to be risky business starting Watson on the short-week game versus the Dolphins. Luckily, this is the year of Fantasy quarterback riches, so finding a replacement for one-to-three-to-forever weeks shouldn’t take much work or cost.
If Watson stinks, shouldn’t it knock expectations for his receivers down a peg or two? Hopkins is just too good to sit, but even he wasn’t immune from Watson’s shaky passing and the Jaguars’ pass defense, catching 3 of 8 targets for 50 yards. Thank goodness for the touchdown! Will Fuller led the Texans with 68 yards on six catches but none of his grabs were on deep passes — his longest reception was 18 yards (on a long pass). He had another catch-and-run for 20 yards get called back by a penalty. Hopkins could be spun into a sell-high candidate (keep him if you can’t get a large ransom), while Fuller will be a risky starter until Watson gets going.
And then there’s the Jaguars’ defense. True, they were put into poor situations because of Blake Bortles’ turnovers in the first half, but they still allowed over 100 rush yards for the second week in a row and 10-plus Fantasy points to a running back for the third week in a row. Could it be that they’re just not as dangerous as once believed? The Eagles will test them in Week 8 before a bye, so we might not get an answer on just how good this defense may be/how much this run defense has regressed until they take on the Colts in Week 10.
Yeah, the Colts have a run game now! More on that in a second.
It’s interesting how one surprising performance created so many issues for Fantasy owners to think about moving forward. It’s also evidence for how awesome and uncompromisingly unpredictable Fantasy Football can be.
Three big questions from Week 7
Should we expect strong numbers like this from Marlon Mack moving forward?
If last week was just a taste (89 yards on 12 carries) then Sunday was a veritable smorgasbord. Mack wrecked the Bills defense, fimishing with 126 rush yards and 33 receiving yards on 21 touches with two total touchdowns. About the only sad part was that he was on 51 percent of CBS Fantasy benches — including mine!. Indeed, Indianapolis has their top running back for the time being — and he runs at the Raiders in Week 8.
If this was the start of big things from Kerryon Johnson, does this also mean it’s the start of bad things for the Lions passing game?
On Sunday, the Lions were a running team. How could they not be after Johnson’s fourth carry went for 71 yards? He finished with 158 yards on 19 carries, LeGarrette Blount ran for 50 yards on 10 carries, and the Lions as a team ran for the most yards in a game since 1997, according to the Detroit Free Press. This didn’t bode well for Matthew Stafford, whose 22 pass attempts were the third-fewest he’s had in his career. Not a single Lions receiver had even 40 yards. This has more to do with the Dolphins poor run defense than anything else, but the Lions cannot ignore Johnson’s potential any further. The more effective he is, the more unlikely it is Stafford will have high-volume passing days. Sunday was his third straight outing with 30 or fewer pass attempts. It’s hard envisioning Kenny Golladay or Golden Tate as must-starts moving forward, and Marvin Jones is headed toward waiver-ville.
Is Keenan Allen a dud?
Fantasy owners could relate to Allen’s anger as he was wide open for a short-yardage touchdown, only to get ignored. In a fit of rage, he kicked a pylon and then got into a shouting match with Philip Rivers. It’s been a rough start for Allen, who has gone scoreless since Week 1 and has just two games with 10 or more Fantasy points in non-PPR through seven games. The good news? You’ve got a two-week window to trade for him on the cheap — after their Week 8 bye, the Chargers have a pretty good schedule where Allen (who’s still averaging 5.9 catcher per game) should get more end-zone opportunities. Allen was a second-half beast in 2017 and could easily do it again.
Six big waiver pickups for Week 8 (and potentially beyond)
- Tre’Quan Smith (35 percent owned): You could also make the case for Cameron Meredith, but he didn’t have any targets on Sunday. Smith had six, tied for second on the team. He’s explosive, he’s pretty big and he’s probably never ever going to see double coverage so long as Michael Thomas (and Alvin Kamara) are on the field. The Saints will need him next week at the Vikings.
- Raheem Mostert (16 percent owned): Kyle Shanahan’s running backs are popular for Fantasy, and it’s clear he’s set on having two of them no matter the situation. Matt Breida got hurt and then came back in the Niners’ Week 7 loss versus the Rams, but it was Mostert who wound up logging the most yards from scrimmage. He had at least 79 total yards for the second week in a row and flashed some receiving chops. Mostert is a must-stash, capable of being a bye-week replacement or an eventual starter when Breida gets hurt and doesn’t come back.
- Kenjon Barner (0 percent owned): Heath Cummings has all the angles from Sony Michel’s potentially serious injury covered. Based on Week 7, not to mention James White’s entire career, it seems like the Pats will enlist in at least one other running back to help shoulder the workload, and Barner has a leg-up on the gig.
- Chris Herndon (3 percent owned): Hernon scored for the second week in a row and had seven targets in the Jets’ blowout loss to the Vikings. Despite this, we’d like to see him play more snaps for the Jets as he wasn’t an every-down player. He could be another easy target for Sam Darnold in Week 8 at Chicago and will be of interest to those folks who have been streaming tight ends and/or starting Austin Hooper.
- Michael Gallup (11 percent owned) and Tajae Sharpe (1 percent owned): How could I not tout two of my favorite preseason sleepers (Sharpe from 2016, Gallup from 2018) after their breakout performances? Sharpe, who saw considerably more playing time this week than previously, led the Titans in all receiving categories and notched his first 100-yard game and his second with more than five catches. Gallup had his first career score and led the Cowboys with 81 receiving yards. Both could end up as the top receiving options for their offenses for the rest of the season. The bad news? They’re on bye in Week 8, so you can’t consider them must-adds. They’re both stash candidates for the rest of the season.
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