by ANDREW HORN
WARNING: INCLUDES GRAPHIC CONTENT
Week 8 in the NFL was possibly one of the craziest weeks I have ever seen in my life. There were injuries on a scale we have not seen in a long time. Franchise players were dropping left and right. Offenses tallied insane amounts of yardage and points as defenses seemed to have forgotten how to play. Still perfect on the year, my team avoided the injury bug this week. There are a lot of moves that need to be made if you lose a key player and need a replacement, starting with these winners and losers:
Winner: Drew Brees (NO)- 78.7 points
You did not misread the point total. Brees really did put up 78 points by himself on Sunday against the Giants. That is only five points less than the team I beat (and he had nine players). Brees had seven touchdowns, 511 yards and one interception against the Giant secondary. He wasn’t the only successful quarterback either. His opponent had the second most points for a quarterback this week as he threw for 350 yards and six touchdowns and the Saints won the game by a field goal. Clearly Brees needs to be noticed for getting a start regardless of opponent. With the next two games against Tennessee and Washington, it would be very hard to leave Brees on the bench before his Week 11 bye week.
Loser: Colin Kaepernick (SF)- 10.9 points
Kaepernick has been bad on a level nobody thought he could achieve. The fifth-year quarterback is averaging 18.9 points per game. That is simply not good enough from a guy who, in his second season, nearly orchestrated a comeback against the Ravens in the Super Bowl. So after having enough of the mediocrity, coach Jim Tomsula decided to bench Kaepernick…for Blaine Gabbert. Remember that name? He was a top 10 pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011. The same year as Kaepernick, who amassed a whopping 5-22 record in three seasons as a starter. Kaepernick will probably be back, but he should not be on your roster for the rest of the season unless Gabbert gets injured or benched.
Winner: Todd Gurley (STL)- 24.6 points
Running like a Gurley is a great compliment. For the fourth game in a row, Gurley had at least 19 carries and 128 yards. Sunday’s Gurley also had a touchdown, his third since the bye week. Even if 71 of his 133 yards came on one carry, he still ended with an impressive total. The Rams (St. Louis for now, probably L.A. soon) have lacked a consistent running back since the Steven Jackson era. Benny Cunningham, Zac Stacy, Isaiah Pead, Tre Mason and now Todd Gurley have all had shots at success. Gurley has a different aura about him that might make him a more permanent solution. Be careful starting him against Minnesota as the Vikings have given up the fifth fewest points to opposing running backs this season. They also have a pretty dynamic back of their own, which could limit the Rams’ offensive touches.
Losers: Matt Forte (CHI) and Le’Veon Bell (PIT)
Two of the best running backs in the league were injured Sunday. Bell had a gruesome MCL tear which will keep him out for the rest of this season. Forte also sustained MCL damage, but will return at some point this year. The situations for the two backs are very different. For Bell, a young stud suffered a horrible injury and will now be replaced by his veteran backup DeAngelo Williams. Whenever Williams started this season, good things happened for the Steelers offense. The Steelers will still make a playoff push, despite the horrible injury. Pick up Williams if he is still available.
The Bears and Matt Forte are in a much different scenario. Forte is an aging running back who suffered a pretty hefty knee injury. Now he will be replaced by two young backs looking to take his job. Each back does one thing well- Langford rushes and Carey pass protects and catches- that Forte on his own. The 29-year-old Forte has sustained a heavy beating in his eight seasons with the Bears. With Forte in a contract year, the Bears have to make a decision on whether to franchise him or go with the two younger options and save money. For now, stash Langford on your bench, do not worry about Carey. Follow the situation closely.
Winners: Anyone who played in the NYG/NO game
Five Receivers scored 19 points or more, led by Odell Beckham Jr. with 35 points. It was a field day for all receivers as the two quarterbacks threw for 13 touchdowns. The five receivers- Beckham Jr. and Dwayne Harris for the Giants; Cooks, Snead and Colston for the Saints- accounted for 10 of the touchdowns. Each receiver posted their highest point total for the season. For Week 9, pick up any of the five, but be ready to shuffle them around when they come back down to Earth. Marques Colston of the Saints is especially susceptible to falling off.
Marcus Mariota mania lasted all of that first week against the Bucs. Since the first week heroics, Mariota has five touchdowns to nine turnovers. The offense looks stalled before it ever reaches the field, making the defense stay out longer, tiring them out and making them give up points, which forces the offense to take risks (hopefully you see the vicious cycle). With Mariota out, backup Zach Mettenberger hasn’t been much better. A team with a lot of promise and the good fortune of a down year for the Colts could not capitalize on the opportunity to be a shockingly good team. At least have Kendall Wright as an emergency option on your bench, but nobody else.
Winner: Benjamin Watson (NO)- 21.7 points
Any week where you score more than Gronk is a good week. Do it when Gronk scores 19 points and your head coach owes you a steak dinner. For the second time in three weeks, Watson went over the 100-yard mark with a touchdown during the Saints tribute to the Baylor/TCU game last season. The veteran tight end has found the fountain of youth in the past three weeks. While the resurgence has been nice for his few fantasy owners that started him, it might not last beyond the bye week. If you are going to buy in on Watson, do it now against Tennessee or Washington.
Loser: Virgil Green (DEN)- 6.1 points
Setting a career-high in yardage might not seem like a bad day, but when the Broncos traded for Vernon Davis, giving them another great option. It is unclear whether Green and Davis will mesh like the Gronk/Hernandez connection of old, or if one will supplant the other. Either way, Davis gets a boost in value because he is now with Peyton Manning. Monitor this situation on a week-to-week basis.
I can’t in all good conscious put a defense that allowed 52 points, but still scored 26 fantasy points, to be on this list. Two of the other top defenses- Kansas City and Houston- are on byes this week. Watch for Cincinnati, New England and Carolina to have good weeks.