If a visitor from the future had told you on Sunday morning that one of Cincinnati's receivers was about to erupt against the Jets ... well, I'm still not sure you would have added Marvin Jones in fantasy. You'd have assumed, naturally, that AJ Green was going to feast.
Green had an excellent day against New York, in fact, finishing with 115 yards. But Jones was an absolute terror. The second-year wideout caught eight balls on as many targets, gaining 122 yards and crossing the goal line four times. Without question, he'll be the week's buzziest fantasy add. Jones is available in 80 percent of Yahoo leagues as of this writing, but that percentage is obviously about to change.
Entering Week 8, Jones had actually found the end zone in back-to-back games, so it's not as if his massive fantasy line came without warning. Jones has great size (6-2), terrific hands, good-enough speed and excellent body control. There's a lot to like here. Perhaps his best trait, fantasy-wise, is that he'll never draw maximum attention from opposing defenses. AJ can't be blanketed by any single corner.
You're encouraged to check the tape from Sunday's demolition of the Jets. Jones basically owned the red-zone. He gained tough after-the-catch yardage, he snagged back-shoulder throws, he made plays in traffic. He's legit, a preferred target for one of the game's hottest quarterbacks.
I hate to oversell Andy Dalton, because we all know his flaws — they show up on tape, even on the good days. We're not talking about a cannon-armed passer. But there's no arguing with the quality of Dalton's weapons — Green, Jones, Gio Bernard, Tyler Eifert, et al — and you have to respect the recent results. Dalton has passed for 1,034 yards over his last three games, with 11 TD tosses during that stretch. He abused a quality defense on Sunday, so let's not assume he can't pile up numbers at Miami next week. Add him while you can, where you can. Dalton remains unowned in 25 percent of leagues.
• Andre Ellington took full advantage of Rashard Mendenhall's absence on Sunday, which should surprise no one. Ellington's talent has been apparent all season. The kid was averaging 6.4 yards per carry entering the week. Ellington broke off an 80-yard second-quarter TD run against Atlanta on Sunday — exactly the sort of bounce-out/breakaway highlight we never get from Mendy — on his way to a 15-carry, 154-yard performance. The Cards have a bye in Week 9; let's hope they have new usage plan for Andre in Week 10.
And if you're involved in one of the thousands of leagues where Ellington is still available (48 percent), DO WHAT YOU KNOW TO BE RIGHT. Make the claim, now. Do it. Shoo.
The Falcons lost to Arizona on Sunday, 27-13, but Matt Ryan managed to throw for 300-plus yards for the fifth time in seven games this year. Harry Douglas had another big day in terms of targets and yards (17, 121), and Drew Davis got involved as well (77 yards, TD). Tony Gonzalez was curiously quiet against a defense that's been mauled by tight ends all year, finishing with just three catches for 26 yards.
• Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson each delivered monstrous fantasy performances for Detroit on Sunday, as you've probably heard. Stafford passed for an absurd 488 yards, connecting 14 times with Calvin for 329.
Yup, that's right: three-twenty-nine. Dallas corner Brandon Carr had no answers to the Megatron problem. Johnson just delivered the second-highest single-game receiving total in NFL history. He had a shot at an all-time fantasy line, too, but he was tackled inside-the-5 on four different plays, finishing with just one TD. Still, his owners can't reasonably complain about a 36.9-point fantasy performance (though I'm sure some will). 'Tron, right now, is as dangerous a weapon as any receiver has ever been.
But it's not as if fantasy owners can run out and add either Stafford or Calvin, so there's nothing particularly actionable about their Week 8 performances. Instead, let's turn our attention to the user-friendly D that just allowed the Lions to rack up an insane 623 total net yards. The Cowboys ranked No. 30 against the pass entering the day, giving up 292 yards per game. Five times this season, Dallas has created a top-8 fantasy quarterback:
Week 1 – Eli Manning (2)
Week 2 – Alex Smith (7)
Week 4 – Philip Rivers (3)
Week 5 – Peyton Manning (5)
Week 8 – Matthew Stafford (3)
Four opposing passers in eight weeks have topped 400 yards against this team. That's insane. The Cowboys get a not-so-scary matchup with Minnesota next Sunday — we do not officially endorse Ponder or Freeman — but the the schedule takes a scary turn in Week 10: at NO, bye, at NYG, vs. Oak, at Chi, vs. GB, at Was.
• Colin Kaepernick produced 27.96 standard fantasy points on just 16 pass attempts on Sunday, which ain't easy. It's not quite as impressive as Russell Wilson scoring 41.5 points on 23 attempts, but it's close. Kaepernick hasn't attempted more than 29 throws in any game since Week 1, so we have ongoing volume concerns here. But it's awfully nice to see him running the ball again, doing work via read-option. He gave us 54 rushing yards and two scores in Week 8 at Wembley, and he ran 11 times for 68 yards and one TD last week. It's progress. The Niners will face Carolina, New Orleans and Washington coming out of their bye; those seem like matchups in which San Fran might actually need to be multi-dimensional, for a change.
• For the first time in New England's eight games this season, both Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski were active in the same week. And yet for the eighth time in eight games, Tom Brady gave us an ordinary fantasy line. Brady completed 13 of 22 throws for just 116 yards on Sunday, tossing one TD pass and one interception. The pick was ugly (not that they're ever pretty), a bad ball early in the game. He finished the first half with just 25 passing yards. The Pats had 30 seconds on the clock and three timeouts available at the close of the second quarter, trailing by two touchdowns, and they chose to take a knee. Not exactly pedal-to-the-floor stuff right there.
Brady is maybe/possibly dealing with a hand injury, not that the Pats will ever share critical information like that. He was sacked three times by Miami on Sunday, which puts him on-pace for 46 this season. And he lost tackle Sebastian Vollmer to a serious-looking (and terrible sounding) leg injury, which is brutal news. I'd like to tell you there are better days ahead, but New England's near-term schedule is more minefield than cakewalk. The team faces four of the league's top-eight pass Ds in Weeks 9-14.
• Josh Brown beat the Eagles on Sunday, 15-7, in a game that was only notable because of Michael Vick's re-injury. He reportedly felt his hamstring pop in the first half of the Week 8 loss, which is never a good thing. As a general rule, you don't want your hamstrings making noises. This, clearly, is miserable news for Philly's offense, and for every skill player on the roster. The Raiders are on deck next week, and Nick Foles (who was recently bad) isn't yet cleared to practice.
• Eight different Saints players saw at least three targets on Sunday, and no one saw more than six. So yeah, it's still a spread-the-wealth system in New Orleans. The nice thing is that there's really a massive amount of wealth to go around. Drew Brees went 26-for-34 against the Bills, passing for 332 yards and five scores. He connected with Kenny Stills on a pair of TDs, and with the injured Jimmy Graham for another two. Those players combined for just seven targets on the day (four for Stills, three for Jimmy), but they made 'em count. (Should Graham really be dunking over the crossbar, on the bad foot? Does that seem OK? As an owner, I'm concerned.) Lance Moore returned from injury exile, snagging three passes and making a house call.
The Saints were actually led in targets by Marques Colston (6), but he delivered yet another useless fantasy day (3-18-0). I'd still buy Colston at the right price — again, this is a spin-the-wheel offense — but it's tough not to worry about a starting wideout who's totaled just 44 yards over three games.
• Daniel Thomas didn't lead Miami in rushing this week, but he looked surprisingly spry for the second straight game. Thomas finished with 47 rushing yards on nine carries (5.2 YPC), and he added a five-yard touchdown catch. Lamar Miller saw 21 touches on Sunday and gained 112 yards from scrimmage, so everyone's kinda happy, at least for this week.
Oh, and this: Mike Wallace had 10 targets on Sunday, and wasn't at all helpful (3-41-0). No Aqib Talib, but still no production.
• If you haven't yet seen it, check out the Devin McCourty/Marquise Cole tip-drill interception against the 'Phins. That was a little bit of genius right there.
• Jamaal Charles shrugged off a slight knee malfunction on Sunday, ultimately finishing with 120 scrimmage yards. We're at the halfway mark in his season, and no opponent has held him below 100 total yards. That's just silly. I have very few nice things to say about the Chiefs offense, but Charles is a bad man.
• Jason Campbell threw for 293 yards and two scores against Kansas City, which is roughly 130 yards and two TDs more than I'd forecast. So tip of the cap to him. One of the touchdown passes went to a Muppet (Fozzy Whittaker), and the other was the result of a flea-flicker. Josh Gordon picked a nice time to deliver a 5-132-1 fantasy line, with the NFL trade deadline just two days away. Obviously a Gordon deal isn't a lock (or even likely), but no trade seems too far-fetched for the Browns this season.
• Welp, so much for that RG3 resurgence. Griffin was harassed throughout the afternoon at Denver, absorbing three sacks (and many more hits), completing only 15 of his 30 throws. He tossed a pair of picks, lost a fumble and ran for only seven yards (which was just four less than Helu, who hurt me terribly). Griffin checked out late in the game, reportedly due to a knee issue, but he seemed to be moving OK on the sideline. His removal was really about game situation, in all likelihood. Jordan Reed continued his strong play (90 yards), but he and Alfred Morris were the only useful Washington assets. I'd still deal for Griffin wherever I had a need, however, because his team's second-half schedule is incredibly friendly. He gets Atlanta and Dallas in Weeks 15-16, when the matchups matter most.
Peyton Manning had his usual 350-ish yards and four TDs, though he didn't give us a clean box score. Manning threw three picks and fumbled once. Julius Thomas went down with an ankle injury, but he'll have plenty of time to get right, with Denver on a bye in Week 9.
• Terrelle Pryor's 93-yard first quarter touchdown run was notable for two reasons: 1) It was the longest run by a quarterback in NFL history, and 2) it was ludicrously easy, because the Steelers defended it so poorly. Just look at how Pittsburgh's defense reacted to the option here...
That's Pryor way over on the right, with the ball, unbothered. We all remember when Mike Tomlin referred to the read-option as "the flavor of the month," right?
"It's never open like that," said Pryor in his postgame comments.
Pryor topped 100 rushing yards for the second time this year, though he made very little noise after the early record-setting run. He passed for just 88 yards and threw a pair of picks, while Darren McFadden did much of the heavy lifting (24 carries, 73 yards, 2 TDs). You'll use most of your Oakland assets in the friendly Week 9 matchup with the Eagles, then again in Week 10 against the Giants. But the schedule takes a bad turn for the Raiders in the fantasy playoffs (NYJ and KC in Weeks 14-15); consider selling DMC before your league's trade deadline.
PRIORITY ADDS FOR WEEK 9
QB Terrelle Pryor, Oak (vs. Phi), 35 percent owned
QB Ryan Tannehill, Mia (vs. Cin), 22 percent
QB Jake Locker, Ten (at STL), 15 percent
RB Andre Ellington, Ari (bye), 52 percent
RB Mike Tolbert, Car (vs. Atl), 21 percent
RB Andre Brown, NYG (bye), 20 percent
RB Daniel Thomas, Mia (vs. Cin), 16 percent
WR Marvin Jones, Cin (at Mia), 16 percent
WR Kenny Stills, NO (at NYJ), 8 percent
WR Lance Moore, NO (at NYJ), 28 percent
WR Aaron Dobson, NE (vs. Pit), 23 percent
WR Dexter McCluster, KC (at Buf), 4 percent
WR Drew Davis, Atl (at Car), 1 percent
WR/TE Tim Wright, TB (at Sea), 4 percent
DEF Tennessee (at STL), 35 percent
DEF Oakland (vs. Phi), 11 percent
Bye: Denver, Detroit, NY Giants, Arizona, San Francisco, Jacksonville