By: Jesse A. Cook (Executive Managing Sports Editor)
Week Seven was a slip-n-slide, but Week Eight should be a little more straightforward. What’s legit this week?
Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Devin McCourtey, Jason McCourtey, Chase Winovich, Jonathan Jones, Stephon Gilmore, Duron Harmon, J.C. Jackson, Adam Butler, Danny Shelton, Gunner Olszewski, Matthew Slater, Jake, Bailey—Need I say more? You’re not seeing ghosts; this is the New England Patriots defense and special teams, which is statistically the best squad in the history of the National Football League by this point in the season. They’re also playing the 2-4 Cleveland Browns, with a seventh-worst 120 points scored. The 7-0 Pats have allowed a league-best 48 points, only 27 of which the defense allowed.
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, in his last matchup in Week Six, scored 19.5 fantasy points on E.S.P.N. and 22.46 fantasy points on Yahoo. This week, he’s projected to earn a measly 11.7 points on E.S.P.N. and 16.85 points on Yahoo. The Pats defense and special teams produced 23.0 points on E.S.P.N. and 25.0 points on Yahoo. New England is set to garner 8.7 points on E.S.P.N. and 9.39 points on Yahoo, but don’t be surprised if the boogey-man steps up and adds on a couple more points.
It’s the not-so-secret stache. Gardner Minshew of the Jacksonville Jaguars has been hurling it for some heavy yards and now the rookie’s set against the demoralized New York Jets who lost on Monday Night Football to the Patriots 33-0. Minshew beat the Cincinnati Bengals in a thriller 27-17, tossing for 255 yards, one touchdown, and zero interceptions, while the Jets surrendered 323 total yards, 249 of which were passing, as well as four touchdowns, one of which was passing. Of the sixty quarterbacks who have played this season, the Mustachioed Marauder Minshew is 18th in passing yards per game, 17th in touchdown percentage, and 14th in yards per attempt.
The Jets’ defense scored one point both on E.S.P.N. and Yahoo last week. This week, E.S.P.N. has them for 3.9 points and Yahoo has them for 6.1 points. Minshew set himself up for 21.0 points both on E.S.P.N. and Yahoo last week. Now, he’s projected to earn 16.1 points on E.S.P.N. and 18.19 points on Yahoo.
Ty Johnson of the Detroit Lions is a solid setup with Kerryon Johnson suddenly leaving the team a little short-handed this week against the New York Giants. With Kerryon Johnson sidelined, Ty Johnson is sure to pick up for him. The Giants allowed 156 rushing yards last week to Chase Edmonds and the Arizona Cardinals. Ty Johnson rushed for 29 yards on ten attempts, getting 2.9 yards per play, but he also caught for 28 yards on just four receptions, averaging seven yards per target.
Last week, the Giants managed a great 12.0 points on E.S.P.N. and ten points on Yahoo. This week, they’re projected for four points on E.S.P.N. and 3.80 points on Yahoo. Johnson had a good game last week, gaining 9.7 points on E.S.P.N. and 7.70 points on Yahoo. This week, he’s set to pickup 12.6 fantasy points on E.S.P.N. and 11.16 fantasy points on Yahoo.
Tarik Cohen of the Chicago Bears does it all, and with Chase Daniel being his plug, he’s got some accurate throws and easy handoffs to look forward to again this week at home against the Los Angeles Chargers. L.A. allowed 97 rushing yards to the Tennessee Titans last week, as well as one rushing touchdown. Cohen took it for 35 total yards, but he was shut down by a strong New Orleans Saints defense; this time around, he has the feeble 2-5 Chargers.
The Chargers scored one point on E.S.P.N. and four points on Yahoo last week. This week, they’re projected to turn up for 5.5 points on E.S.P.N. and 6.99 points on Yahoo. Cohen sparked some offense last week with 11.9 points on E.S.P.N. and 7.40 points on Yahoo. This week, he’s expected to do it again, projected for 11.8 points on E.S.P.N. and 6.53 points on Yahoo.
Emmanuel Sanders, now of the San Francisco 49ers, has a gunslinger hucking to him now in the undefeated prodigal son, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The Carolina Panthers intercepted Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback Jameis Winston five times, but even a wild quarterback such as himself, passed for 400 yards and a touchdown over them. Jimmy G and the Niners had trouble last week against the Washington Redskins in their 9-0 win, but this week, with Sanders, they’ve got a better shot. Sanders, with his crippled Denver Broncos, caught for 60 yards on just five targets (five receptions), averaging 12.0 yards per catch.
The Panthers hit it big for 18.0 points on E.S.P.N. and 21.0 points on Yahoo in their last game in Week Six. This time around, they’re looking at six points on E.S.P.N. and 6.19 points on Yahoo. Catching passes from an aging, broken Flacco, Sanders earned 11.0 points on E.S.P.N. and 8.50 points on Yahoo last week. This week, in his new threads, he’s projected to produce 10.4 points on E.S.P.N. and 8.73 points on Yahoo.
“When you see the shallow cross for the first time, you understand now why you called this play, ‘cause the corner you are runnin’ from is so strong, but the pass’s as big as the promise, the promise of this Sunday.”-Kenny
Crosby, Stills, and Nash… probably. Kenny Stills of the Houston Texans doesn’t have to think about how many times he has fallen, but about how many times he can make the Oakland Raiders’ defense fall. The Raiders allowed Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to stomp them 42-24, with Rodgers hurling for 429 yards and five touchdowns, hitting 25 of 31 targets. Stills caught for 105 yards on just four targets. Suffice it to say, someone’s got a clear advantage and I won’t point fingers, but…
The Raiders scored negative seven fantasy points on E.S.P.N. and negative three fantasy points on Yahoo last week. This week, they’re projected to earn 3.7 points on E.S.P.N. and 4.01 points on Yahoo. Stills, on the other hand, scored 14.5 points on E.S.P.N. and 12.50 points on Yahoo in Week Seven. He’s projected to garner 12 points on E.S.P.N. and 9.99 points on Yahoo in Week Eight.
Greg Olsen of the Panthers is probably going to end up in the Hall of Fame and his current quarterback, Kyle Allen, has been slinging it. The Niners’ defense stepped it up against a faux team in the Redskins, allowing only 77 passing yards to Case Keenum, but Allen hit Olsen for 52 yards on just four targets.
The Niners’ defense earned 13.0 points on E.S.P.N. and 15.0 points on Yahoo last week. This week, they’re projected to put up 6.1 points on E.S.P.N. and 8.92 points on Yahoo. Olsen produced 9.2 points on E.S.P.N. and 7.20 points on Yahoo in his Week Six matchup in Tampa Bay. This week, he’s set for another 9.2 on E.S.P.N. and 7.39 on Yahoo.
Alexander Mattison of the Minnesota Vikings is gonna blast the roof off of U.S. Bank Stadium at home in Minnesota against the Redskins. The Redskins allowed 137 rushing yards to San Fran last week and with the brunt of their defense going to guarding Dalvin Cook, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, and Adam Thielen, leaving Mattison some room to operate. The failed Redskins offense will also lend some more time on O to Kirk Cousins and the Vikes, leaving more opportunities for Mattison to make some headway. Stocky third down backs are also prime for breaking down a D-line and pushing the ball into the end zone from a goal line play.
Washington scored nine points on E.S.P.N. and eight points on Yahoo last week. This week, they’re setup for 4.7 points on E.S.P.N. and 3.54 points on Yahoo. Mattison garnered only 1.8 points both on E.S.P.N. and Yahoo last week, but the third-down back should step it up this week with a couple of close-line rushes if the Vikes can get some plays inside the Red Zone. He should be in it a lot as E.S.P.N. sees him for 5.3 points and Yahoo sees him for 3.85 points.
He was a joke last year, but now he is one of the few healthy kickers in the league. Zane Gonzalez of the Cardinals has gotten it done lately. Stats put Gonzalez as the second-best kicker in football, right behind the Baltimore Ravens’ Justin Tucker, as Gonzalez has hit 13 of 13 extra points and 18 of 21 field goals, three coming from beyond 40 yards. The Saints boast a tough defense, but Kyler Murray has finagled his way into scoring range many times against other great defenses; he even helped his team towards three touchdowns last week in New York, so maybe the Cards can get something going for their Pro Bowl-candidate kicker.
The Saints scored 12.0 points on E.S.P.N. and ten points on Yahoo last week. This week, E.S.P.N. looks to them for 7.1 points and Yahoo looks to them for 8.81 points. Gonzalez is coming off of two consecutive weeks in Week Six and Week Seven with ten points both on E.S.P.N. and Yahoo. He’s projected to produce 7.2 fantasy points on E.S.P.N. and 8.13 fantasy points on Yahoo this week in Week Eight.